Monday, January 30, 2017

Carve the Mark by Veronica Roth

Summary from Goodreads:
On a planet where violence and vengeance rule, in a galaxy where some are favored by fate, everyone develops a currentgift, a unique power meant to shape the future. While most benefit from their currentgifts, Akos and Cyra do not—their gifts make them vulnerable to others’ control. Can they reclaim their gifts, their fates, and their lives, and reset the balance of power in this world?

Cyra is the sister of the brutal tyrant who rules the Shotet people. Cyra’s currentgift gives her pain and power—something her brother exploits, using her to torture his enemies. But Cyra is much more than just a blade in her brother’s hand: she is resilient, quick on her feet, and smarter than he knows.

Akos is from the peace-loving nation of Thuvhe, and his loyalty to his family is limitless. Though protected by his unusual currentgift, once Akos and his brother are captured by enemy Shotet soldiers, Akos is desperate to get his brother out alive—no matter what the cost. When Akos is thrust into Cyra’s world, the enmity between their countries and families seems insurmountable. They must decide to help each other to survive—or to destroy one another.

Fans of Star Wars and Divergent will revel in internationally bestselling author Veronica Roth’s stunning new science-fiction fantasy series.
This wasn’t exactly what I was expecting. I ended up liking it a lot more than I was expecting to. Though, I have been in a bit of a sci-fi kick lately. Roth certainly knows how to craft worlds. The world building in here was pretty amazing. And it was also so believable to read of one warring planet having effects on other planets.
The story was what I would expect from Roth: fast paced and full of action. There’s plenty of suffering, death, torture, and fighting –all the standard YA fare lately. And I guess I’d be super disappointed if a book by this author wasn’t filled with action/violence.
Did it stand out for me like Divergent did when I first read it? Not exactly. There’s a lot in this book that clearly is riding on the shoulders of all the YA that came before it. There are notes of Shatter Me, elements of The Red Queen, pieces of Graceling, tidbits from Across the Universe, reminders of Legend, etc. That being said, I don’t think Roth stole from these other YA novels, so much as was inspired by them. It’s clear the author reads a lot of YA. Yet, being so inspired by something I’m so familiar with can make a story seem a bit “old.”
This book certainly didn’t spark anything new for me in the beginning. I actually almost stopped reading it because of this, but I’m glad I didn’t because later what makes it work is the world building. There’s a big focus on the war torn planet, on the differences in the cultures of the people, on the beliefs of the different people, on the cultures and beliefs of the people of other planets, etc. This insight into the people, the customs, the scavenging, and the objects, did make this book finally stand out to me. All of this was so interesting. Its was like an anthropological Veronica Roth, and I liked it.
The world building was top notch. The action was pretty great too. What was missing though was the character development. I never really bonded with either of the main characters. I wanted Cyra to be my new Tris, but she wasn’t. And I feel like the beginning that took place around Akos’ childhood was too rushed for me to really get to know him either. I wanted to know them both more. So, when bad things happened to them (and they happened alright), I’d feel bad for them.
All in all, the world building was awesome. The fast-paced plot was great too. The character development was seriously lacking. And the book clearly took inspiration from a lot of YA books that came before it. I give it an 7/10.

Thursday, January 26, 2017

Gotham Academy Volume 3: Yearbook by Brenden Fletcher, Adam Archer, and Sandra Hope

Summary from Goodreads:
"Another turning point, a fork stuck in the road. Life grabs you by the wrist..." and hands you this year's Gotham Academy yearbook!

The students of Gotham's most prestigious prep school are back and they've just survived one heck of a year within the walls of Gotham Academy. Now it's time for everyone to look back and experience some of the lost adventures from the school year that was. Featuring stories and art by some of comics' best and brightest creators including Dustin Nguyen (BATMAN: L'IL GOTHAM), Derek Fridolfs (BATMAN: L'IL GOTHAM) and Rafael Albuquerque (AMERICAN VAMPIRE), as well as from regular series writer Brenden Fletcher (BATGIRL)!
Unfortunately, this was my least favorite volume so far. The fun, quirky elements were still there though, and thank goodness because the plot was kind of non-existent. Basically, most of the volume entailed the characters helping Maps put together her own yearbook/scrapbook of all the crazy things that happened to them at Gotham Academy over the year. So, the storyline didn’t advance much for the reader. It kind of felt like one of those episodes of Friends that summed up everyone’s favorite moments about a certain character so far. It felt like you were cheated an episode, kind of.
At least with Gotham Academy, I hadn’t seen any of the episodes remembered. They were all new stories. And while it was cool getting to see so many artists play and have fun with this comic, it became a bit much for me. And it was way too easy to put down. Each mini story/memory would conclude and I felt like I could put the book down for a while. In installments past, I would finish the comic in one sitting.
Also, and maybe this is just me, but I felt like it was way too soon for this. I still need to get to know the characters more. I want to spend more time with Maps and see more of the darkness of the school and teachers before I can feel ready for a recap episode. First development, then can come short mini stories.
The artwork, as always was awesome. And like I said, I did kind of like to see how different artists interpreted these characters. I just wasn’t ready for it quite yet. This is only the third volume. I also like the emphasis on friendship. This was clearly a BFF installment, and I liked that. All in all, I give it a 7/10.

Wednesday, January 25, 2017

Waiting on Wednesday (219)

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 Falling Star by Melissa Landers (2/7/2017):

Description from Goodreads:
When Princess Cassia Rose fled her home world of Eturia to escape an arranged marriage, she had no idea her sudden departure would spark a war. Now after two years hiding as a ship hand, she is finally returning to her beloved home, but not in the way she imagined. Shackled by bounty hunters, she is violently dragged back to account for her crimes. Her only solace is that the Banshee crew managed to evade capture, including Kane Arric, her best friend...with occasional benefits.

Meanwhile, Kane and the rest of the crew of the Banshee plan a desperate rescue mission. But when they arrive on Eturia, Cassia isn't exactly in need of heroics—she's claimed her birthright as Eturia's queen, but has inherited a war-torn planet simmering with rebellion. Cassia must make alliances, and Kane, the bastard son of a merchant, isn't a choice that will earn her any friends. Kane knows he will never find someone to replace Cassia—and is certain she returns his feelings—but how can he throw away his own promising future waiting on a queen?

When the outer realm is threatened by the dangerous Zhang mafia, Cassia, Kane and the rest of the Banshee crew uncover a horrifying conspiracy that endangers the entire universe. In the face of unspeakable evil, Cassia must confront her own family's complicated legacy on Eturia and decide once and for all who her real family is.
Why I’m Waiting:
I only just recently finished Starflight and loved it. I actually didn’t know there was going to be a sequel, so I’m even more excited for this; I read book 1 just in time! I loved the humor and the similarities to Cowboy Bebop. I also loved the adventure, the pirates, and the romance…and I’m hoping for more in book 2. Bring on the good sci-fi!
What are you waiting on this week?

Tuesday, January 24, 2017

Starflight by Melissa Landers

Summary from Goodreads:
Life in the outer realm is a lawless, dirty, hard existence, and Solara Brooks is hungry for it. Just out of the orphanage, she needs a fresh start in a place where nobody cares about the engine grease beneath her fingernails or the felony tattoos across her knuckles. She's so desperate to reach the realm that she's willing to indenture herself to Doran Spaulding, the rich and popular quarterback who made her life miserable all through high school, in exchange for passage aboard the spaceliner Zenith.

When a twist of fate lands them instead on the Banshee, a vessel of dubious repute, Doran learns he's been framed on Earth for conspiracy. As he pursues a set of mysterious coordinates rumored to hold the key to clearing his name, he and Solara must get past their enmity to work together and evade those out for their arrest. Life on the Banshee may be tumultuous, but as Solara and Doran are forced to question everything they once believed about their world—and each other—the ship becomes home, and the eccentric crew family. But what Solara and Doran discover on the mysterious Planet X has the power to not only alter their lives, but the existence of everyone in the universe...
I needed this book. Really, I did. It was fun, light, humorous, and full of Cowboy Bebop nostalgia. It was the exact book I needed to get me through a long week of late nights, stomach bugs, and a certain inauguration. Basically, this was a great and fun distraction from it all.
I’ve gotten a lot more into sci-fi in the last few years. That may have something to do with my boyfriend (also a librarian) and it being his favorite genre. And I guess there is something to be said for books taking place in outer space to be the ultimate form of escape. Add so many other great YA ingredients to that, and you have this book.
There’s adventure, disguise, revenge, pirates, deadly fights, other planet travel, super scary bad guys/trackers, politics, romance, family drama, kleptomaniacs, cute alien creatures called sugar gliders, and plenty more. People compare the story to the show, Firefly, and I can see the comparisons, though I like to compare it more to Cowboy Bebop. It has that sort of western outlaw vibe for sure.
I was actually surprised by how some of the plot ended. I wasn’t expecting a certain twist at all. However, I loved it. I remember finishing, and wishing there was more, but also being glad that it did seem to have a good ending. So of course, today, I realized there’s a sequel coming out in a month! It looks like it’s a bout a different set of characters on the crew, but I’m so excited!
All in all, I loved this. It was a riveting distraction. And I hope the humor and pacing of it remain in the sequel. I give it a 9/10.

Monday, January 23, 2017

A Good Week in Books (151)

I had a very nice book week, if I say so myself. For starters my mini Amazon splurge finally came! A package that was supposed to come in 2 days, took almost 2 weeks. I had to complain and request a new order be sent (for free) and Amazon then asked me to return the first order when it came in…That first order just mysteriously disappeared, though I was able to track it to my local post office. I never got it. Book shipment mystery aside, I also had a wonderful opportunity to meet the author of one of my favorite books of the year, this week. My library has been doing a lot of programming this month centered on our “One Book One Town,” which is Wolf Hollow by Lauren Wolk. And Lauren came to speak at my library!
I of course picked up a book for her to sign. She was a wonderful speaker and I remember feeling so uplifted from her talk that had a lot to do with standing up to bullies. Also, I have to note that Wolf Hollow, as of today, is a 2017 Newbery Honor! Yay, Lauren Wolk!
The pretties:

The Immortal Heights
by Sherry Thomas
The Perilous Sea
by Sherry Thomas
Persuasion by Martina Boone
Illusion by Martina Boone
Wolf Hollow by Lauren Wolk

How was your week in books?

Thursday, January 19, 2017

The Hammer of Thor by Rick Riordan and read by Kieran Culkin

Summary from Goodreads:
Thor's hammer is missing again. The thunder god has a disturbing habit of misplacing his weapon--the mightiest force in the Nine Worlds. But this time the hammer isn't just lost, it has fallen into enemy hands. If Magnus Chase and his friends can't retrieve the hammer quickly, the mortal worlds will be defenseless against an onslaught of giants. Ragnarok will begin. The Nine Worlds will burn. Unfortunately, the only person who can broker a deal for the hammer's return is the gods' worst enemy, Loki--and the price he wants is very high.
Rick Riordan books make for excellent audiobooks. The pace is just fast enough that I’m constantly involved in the story and always want to get back to it. And his books are so formulaic that when I occasionally zone out, or pay more attention to traffic, I can easily find my way back into my listening.
I am growing quite fond of Magnus. He reminds me a lot of Percy, yet almost nicer. He’s not a big figher –his powers are all about healing. And he cares so strongly for people, family, and friends that it’s hard to not like him. He’s a softie.
I love how diverse Riordan’s books are getting. Though, I wish his main character would be some one other than a white male. It’s nice having the main girl character be a practicing Muslim and a new character be gender fluid. The other two main characters are a deaf/mute elf and a dwarf with a high fashion sense (who may or may not be a couple).
The formula of this book was very familiar. Basically, the characters had to get Thor’s hammer back from the giants in order to prevent the end of the world. And along the way, they had to accomplish other smaller tasks –not the least of which is Sam’s fiancé learning she’s a Valkyrie, and saving a certain dwarf from a life of being a statue.
I like the background on Hearthstone. Wow, did he have a bad family! I also loved getting all the scenes that took place in Thor’s mansion. The giant wedding was terrifying. Loki was pretty terrifying too. And while, I kind of knew how it was going to end (how could Sam end up with a giant?), I still found everything to be pretty suspenseful.
I also now have a ship. I kind of like the idea of Magnus and Alex. I felt like Riordan kept trying to show scenes where Magnus not only understood and respected this character, but that he was falling for this character too. Please let this ship happen! Please. I find Alex to be so interesting. He/she is definitely a more prickly character and I want to know why he/she is the way she is. I also loved watching Alex get a little softer in the presence of Magnus.
The ending was maybe the best part. There were so many hints of joining these characters with those of Camp Half-blood. And there’s at least a possibility of Percy, Annabeth, Magnus, and his crew all going on an epic boat journey together soon. All in all, I give this an 8/10.

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Waiting on Wednesday (218)

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 Our Dark Duet by Victoria Schwab (6/13/2017):

Description on Goodreads:
Kate Harker is a girl who isn’t afraid of the dark. She’s a girl who hunts monsters. And she’s good at it. August Flynn is a monster who can never be human, no matter how much he once yearned for it. He’s a monster with a part to play. And he will play it, no matter the cost.

Nearly six months after Kate and August were first thrown together, the war between the monsters and the humans is terrifying reality. In Verity, August has become the leader he never wished to be, and in Prosperity, Kate has become the ruthless hunter she knew she could be. When a new monster emerges from the shadows—one who feeds on chaos and brings out its victim’s inner demons—it lures Kate home, where she finds more than she bargained for. She’ll face a monster she thought she killed, a boy she thought she knew, and a demon all her own.
Why I’m Waiting:
I need to take a moment to bask in the beauty of this cover! I love the book covers to this series. I also super enjoyed the first book of the series. I got to meet/get a book singed by this author this past year, and hearing her talk made me want to read all of her books.  I thankfully have plenty to read while waiting for this sequel. But, I really cannot wait to read it.
What are you waiting on this week?

Monday, January 16, 2017

Tales from the Shadowhunter Academy by Cassandra Clare, Sarah Rees Brennan, Maureen Johnson, and Robin Wasserman

Summary from Goodreads:
Simon Lewis has been a human and a vampire, and now he is becoming a Shadowhunter. But the events of City of Heavenly Fire left him stripped of his memories, and Simon isn’t sure who he is anymore. He knows he was friends with Clary, and that he convinced the total goddess Isabelle Lightwood to go out with him…but he doesn’t know how. And when Clary and Isabelle look at him, expecting him to be a man he doesn’t remember…Simon can’t take it.

So when the Shadowhunter Academy reopens, Simon throws himself into this new world of demon-hunting, determined to find himself again. His new self. Whomever this new Simon might be.

But the Academy is a Shadowhunter institution, which means it has some problems. Like the fact that non-Shadowhunter students have to live in the basement. And that differences—like being a former vampire—are greatly looked down upon. At least Simon is trained in weaponry—even if it’s only from hours of playing D&D.

Join Simon on his journey to become a Shadowhunter, and learn about the Academy’s illustrious history along the way, through guest lecturers such as Jace Herondale, Tessa Gray, and Magnus Bane. These ten short stories give an epilogue to the Mortal Instruments series and provide glimpses of what’s in store in the Dark Artifices.
Why did I wait so long to read this one? I really need to stop letting lengthy books become road blocks. This was a giant book of novellas. But, also, I guess Simon was just never really my favorite character. I liked him. I liked the geeky humor and best friend vibes he provided, but I never thought of him as a main character. (Like I would never think of Ron Weasley as a main character either.)
Good news: this book was only half about Simon. The other half was about shadowhunter history, about other loved characters from series past, and about the new characters in the upcoming series. And weirdly, I found myself liking the Simon parts the best. Sometimes I’d skim some of the other stuff to get back into Simon’s head.
Don’t get me wrong. I loved all the moments with Jace and Clary. I also love every second of Magnus and Alec. I liked seeing more of Tessa and Jem. And I definitely found the Herondale history super interesting. That being said, I loved Simon so much more. I cared for him in a way I hadn’t before. I really got to see what a brave, smart, good person he was here. I love the minor, yet major changes he inflicted on the Shadowhunter Academy. I love that even though he doesn’t remember a lot, he still knows what the right thing to do is.
I also super shipped him and Isabelle and I couldn’t wait to read any scene with the two of them in it. I also loved his new friends at the Academy, particularly his roommate. Cassandra Clare (and her closest writing buddies) all super excel at character development.
It also read more like a book than a series of novellas. They were in chronological order and my brain sort of interrupted them into one story. Not all the stories were amazing, but most of them were. It also (for the most part) felt like a fluffier addition to the more generally dark shadowhunter plots. It took place in a decaying school. There was no world to save, estranged fathers to face off, angels to confront, or hell dimensions to go to. It was all about learning to be a shadowhunter. It was nice having the simpler, fluffier story arc for a change.
All in all, I loved this. I read it super fast. I loved the characters, old and new. I even loved Simon. I’m happy to add it to my rather large and growing collection of Cassandra Clare books. I give it 9/10.

Thursday, January 12, 2017

The Burning Sky by Sherry Thomas

Summary from Goodreads:
It all began with a ruined elixir and a bolt of lightning.

Iolanthe Seabourne is the greatest elemental mage of her generation—or so she's been told. The one prophesied for years to be the savior of The Realm. It is her duty and destiny to face and defeat the Bane, the most powerful tyrant and mage the world has ever known. This would be a suicide task for anyone, let alone a reluctant sixteen-year-old girl with no training.

Guided by his mother's visions and committed to avenging his family, Prince Titus has sworn to protect Iolanthe even as he prepares her for their battle with the Bane. But he makes the terrifying mistake of falling in love with the girl who should have been only a means to an end. Now, with the servants of the tyrant closing in, Titus must choose between his mission—and her life.

The Burning Sky—the first book in the Elemental Trilogy—is an electrifying and unforgettable novel of intrigue and adventure.
In searching my TBR shelf for a nice pile of paperbacks to take with me on my holiday trip back to the family in Chicago, I came across this gorgeous book. Believe it or not, the copy I took with me was an ARC from 2013…I’m so glad I don’t get rid of books that I think I might enjoy reading at some point in the future. I loved this. Sadly, I did not start reading it until I was back home in MA…but still. I’m so glad I put this back on my radar.
Reading this felt like reading a great fantasy of the past (and I don’t mean four years ago in the past when I should have read this). It felt like an old Tamora Pierce/Garth Nix/Caroline Stevermer/Sherwood Smith/Tanith Lee type book. It read like a book I would have carried around with me, close to my heart, in my awkward early teen years, like I did with books by the authors mentioned above.
There is something so inherently classic fantasy about this book. And also, I can see it appealing to the young folks today. I mean the girl main character can summon lightning like Pikachu, summon elements like something from Avatar: The Last Airbender, and is destined to save the world from a great evil like Harry was chosen to do. The elements for great fantasy are all there in a super appealing, almost familiar way.
But also, there’s Prince Titus who guides Iolanthe (the main character) into all she’s supposed to be. And he has this crazy, awesome, magic book that he can metaphysically go into and train in. He literally battles dragons, defeats evil fairytale villains, and becomes the best prince he can in that book. I want one of those books so bad.
There’s secret portals, all kinds of magical creatures, a kingdom/world on the brink of a badly needed revolution, and so much magic. I love all the parts where Iolanthe pretends to be a boy at Titus’s normal human school. And I kind of love that this is the background for which Titus falls for her. It reminded me so much of Alanna and George in Tamora Pierce’s books.
I also love all the scenes where Iloanthe was a bird (she took a potion –kind of polyjuice like) and hid in plain sight from the one person in the world who could not know where she was. I love the scenes that take place within the magic book. Just when I thought this book could not get any more magical, fairytales came to life and epic battles were fought. And I adored how smart and manipulative the prince was. Watching his brain work was so, so cool.
I also seriously shipped the two main characters. I want them together so bad! I know they mostly likely won’t have a happy future together because of the prophecy, but I so don’t care. I ship them any way.
All in all, I zoomed through this one. And I already ordered the next two…they should be at my house by tomorrow. I guess there is a perk to reading this so late –I don’t have to wait long to get my hands on the rest of the series. I give it a 10/10, and I highly recommend this to all fantasy fans.

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

Waiting on Wednesday (217)

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 Coming up for Air by Miranda Kenneally (7/1/2017):

Description on 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 try out, so she 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 lose to win?
Why I’m Waiting:
I’ve come to accept that I’ll always be waiting on the next Miranda Kenneally book. I love her books. I love the focus on girl athletes. I love her strong characters and their sense of family. And I always love the romance too. I cannot wait to read her next book! And this one is about a sport I actually partook in for a few years (I have not an ounce of athletic blood left in my body, but I once did…kind of/maybe).
What are you waiting on this week?

Monday, January 9, 2017

Rapunzel's Revenge by Shannon And Dean Hale and illustrated by Nathan Hale

Summary from Goodreads:
Once upon a time, in a land you only think you know, lived a little girl and her mother . . . or the woman she thought was her mother.

Every day, when the little girl played in her pretty garden, she grew more curious about what lay on the other side of the garden wall . . . a rather enormous garden wall.

And every year, as she grew older, things seemed weirder and weirder, until the day she finally climbed to the top of the wall and looked over into the mines and desert beyond.

Newbery Honor-winning author Shannon Hale teams up with husband Dean Hale and brilliant artist Nathan Hale (no relation) to bring readers a swashbuckling and hilarious twist on the classic story as you've never seen it before. Watch as Rapunzel and her amazing hair team up with Jack (of beanstalk fame) to gallop around the wild and western landscape, changing lives, righting wrongs, and bringing joy to every soul they encounter.
This was pure joy to read. This was a recipe for success in my book: fairytale turned revenge story, girl hero with lots and lots of hair, monsters, adventures, western setting, and even a little romance thrown in. I seriously want more books like this. And only in finding the picture of the cover to post in this entry just now, did I even realize there’s a sequel! I must get my hands on Calamity Jack.
I’ve been on a reading frenzy kick lately. This is good because for months, I was in a slump. Basically, I’ve been putting down books I’m not feeling. I’ve been reading what I want when I want and paying less and less attention to library wait lists and books for review. I’m not sure this is the best plan, but I’ve certainly been a lot happier with my reading choices.
I’m also not going to lie; I was one book shy of my yearly goal and the morning of Dec 31, I pulled off this graphic novel from my TBR shelf, knowing I’d be able to read it quickly. Sadly, I wish it was bigger and that it took me longer to read because I loved it so much.
I love traditional fairytales that are turned upside down and usually involve a girl main character who saves the day, instead of the prince. This one was that but so much more. Rapunzel is on a mission to save her birth mom, someone she didn’t even realize existed until too late.  She’s a naïve character who has to learn how the world truly is. Instead of then wanting to take advantage of the world (like her “adoptive” mother wants”) she instead decides she’d rather fix it. I also loved Jack, the thief/best friend/love interest. Their chemistry is fantastic.
I was also a fan of the art. It was bright and fun, and easy to follow. Someone not experienced with graphic novels would have an easy time reading it. I also love that Rapunzel wasn’t hyper sexualized or even always pretty. She was dressed strangely through most of it, and her hair was always in practical, and sometimes violent braids. I really enjoyed this. I give it a 10/10.

Friday, January 6, 2017

More Happy Than Not by Adam Silvera

Summary from Goodreads:
In his twisty, gritty, profoundly moving New York Times bestselling-debut—also called “mandatory reading” and selected as an Editors' Choice by the New York Times—Adam Silvera brings to life a charged, dangerous near-future summer in the Bronx.

In the months after his father's suicide, it's been tough for sixteen-year-old Aaron Soto to find happiness again—but he's still gunning for it. With the support of his girlfriend Genevieve and his overworked mom, he's slowly remembering what that might feel like. But grief and the smile-shaped scar on his wrist prevent him from forgetting completely.

When Genevieve leaves for a couple of weeks, Aaron spends all his time hanging out with this new guy, Thomas. Aaron's crew notices, and they're not exactly thrilled. But Aaron can't deny the happiness Thomas brings or how Thomas makes him feel safe from himself, despite the tensions their friendship is stirring with his girlfriend and friends. Since Aaron can't stay away from Thomas or turn off his newfound feelings for him, he considers turning to the Leteo Institute's revolutionary memory-alteration procedure to straighten himself out, even if it means forgetting who he truly is.

Why does happiness have to be so hard?
I knew I was going to love this one. I attended a “We Need Diverse Books” panel at a library conference about a year ago, and Adam Silvera was one of the speakers. First off, after listening to him speak for about 30 seconds, I wanted to be this man’s best friend. And after I heard him talk about his book, I knew I needed to get my hands on his novel immediately. I bought the book when it came out in paperback. And it took me way too long to get to it. What was I waiting for?
I guess I was technically waiting for a vacation so I’d have an opportunity to pack several paperbacks and take a break from ARCs and library books. I’m so glad I did because I loved all the books I read on vacation, particularly this one.
This was the kind of book that gives goosebumps. It’s dark, twisted, authentic, incredibly sad, harsh, and beautiful all at the same time. When explaining it to people, I have to bring in the movie “Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind.” It’s like a better, more YA version of that movie, with a gay love story attached.
This book deals with heavy things: suicide, hate crimes, growing up poor, grief, depression, and pain. But, it’s also about falling in love for the first time. It’s about art. It’s about learning who you are and accepting who you are. It’s about growing up in the worst of circumstances and making the best of what you have.
I cried at several different moments while reading this. I have to admit that some of the plot was a little bit spoiled for me by the author during his panel…Yet, if it wasn’t, I might not have read it, so I’m 100% okay with it.
If a surgery existed that could erase the most painful memories from your life, would you have it? And would it work to change your sexual orientation? Could a guy forget that he was gay? Could forgetting crucial memories make you a happier/better version of yourself?
There are so many layers to this book that I wish I could dissect right now, but I then would be giving too much away. Just know that reading this felt different. It felt like when I read Fight Club for the first time as a teenager. I knew I was reading something special and that I might not figure out why it was so special until the end, and maybe not even then. This is a book that I can’t get out of my head, nor do I want to. It would make for a great book club book. I can’t recommend it enough. I give it a 10/10.

Thursday, January 5, 2017

Compulsion by Martina Boone

Summary from Goodreads:
All her life, Barrie Watson has been a virtual prisoner in the house where she lives with her shut-in mother. When her mother dies, Barrie promises to put some mileage on her stiletto heels. But she finds a new kind of prison at her aunt’s South Carolina plantation instead—a prison guarded by an ancient spirit who long ago cursed one of the three founding families of Watson Island and gave the others magical gifts that became compulsions.

Stuck with the ghosts of a generations-old feud and hunted by forces she cannot see, Barrie must find a way to break free of the family legacy. With the help of sun-kissed Eight Beaufort, who knows what Barrie wants before she knows herself, the last Watson heir starts to unravel her family's twisted secrets. What she finds is dangerous: a love she never expected, a river that turns to fire at midnight, a gorgeous cousin who isn't what she seems, and very real enemies who want both Eight and Barrie dead.
I loved this book. It was the right book at the right time for me. I needed something a little lighter to read while on vacation. And this was it. It’s been a while since I got to sit down with a good paranormal romance. Reading this felt like a treat.
Not only was it my favorite kind of slow-building/friendship-first kind of romance, but it was sizzling too. Also, this book just had so many things in its formula that added up to a good book for me. It took place somewhere I’ve never been (nor know too much about): a plantation in South Carolina. Magic is real. Ghosts are real. It is a twin story. And it all takes place in a crazy small town where everyone knows each other. It felt like the small town in the show Hart of Dixie. I could honestly see it being quirky enough for a tv show.
Also, the main character’s one sane relative/godfather is a drag queen who makes her promise to wear gorgeous shoes and travel the world. Unfortunately, he’s dying from cancer –hence, her being sent to live with her aunt. Couldn’t this be a tv show?
Needless to say, I read this book in one sitting. The characters were great. The strange family mystery was so creepy and fun. I was maybe a little too invested in the drama of the past. I needed to know why Barrie’s mother told her nothing and what exactly happened in that fire? What a good story!
The crippling plantation setting was wonderful. I felt like I was there. The house felt like a character that was always out to get the women who lived there. There was an almost gothic, Bronte type feel to the whole story. I was sad when it ended. I’ll definitely need to get my hands on book 2. I give it a 9/10.

Wednesday, January 4, 2017

Waiting on Wednesday (216)

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 In Other Lands by Sarah Rees Brennan (8/15/2017):

Description from Goodreads:
Sometimes it’s not the kid you expect who falls through to magicland, sometimes it’s . . . Elliott. He’s grumpy, nerdy, and appalled by both the dearth of technology and the levels of fit-ness involved in swinging swords around. He’s a little enchanted by the elves and mermaids. De-spite 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.
Why I’m Waiting:
So, I have no idea what this book is supposed to really be about…Does an introverted gamer fall into Wonderland by accident? I don’t care. I want to read this now. I want to read it so badly. I love this author. I love her character-driven books, and this sounds like it will be something along those lines. I also love this author’s sense of humor, and I feel like this sounds like one, sarcastic fairytale. I’m all there, even it ends up being something totally different. I’ll read any of Brennan’s books at this point.
What are you waiting on this week?

Tuesday, January 3, 2017

Scythe by Neal Shusterman

Summary from Goodreads:
A world with no hunger, no disease, no war, no misery. Humanity has conquered all those things, and has even conquered death. Now scythes are the only ones who can end life—and they are commanded to do so, in order to keep the size of the population under control.

Citra and Rowan are chosen to apprentice to a scythe—a role that neither wants. These teens must master the “art” of taking life, knowing that the consequence of failure could mean losing their own.
I devoured this book. I really needed it too. I was stuck in Logan airport waiting an extra seven hours for a delayed flight. I read the whole book (and had a lot of food and wine that night). Any way, I really needed a good book to distract me from the awful waiting. This was perfect.
The idea for this book was unlike anything I’d read before. It was so cool to see a world where mortality wasn’t an issue. This author really came up with some amazing side effects for a world where this could be possible. He created kids who purposely did stupid things, so they could “splat” and be put together again. He created “turning the corner” so all people could become younger again. He  thought about things like art and music and how nothing would be quite as good without the fear of death.
This was a well thought out world. I loved getting the snipbits from othe scythe’s journals. I loved seeing how each scythe had their own method of handling the worst job ever. I loved the idea of power hungry scythes taking advantage of their power (in a world where power kind of ceased to matter).
I also loved the super fast-paced plot. I needed to know what would happen the whole time. Who was going to make it? Would my ship happen? Would one of them really have to die? And what on earth happened to their first mentor? I had so many questions. And there were so many twists and turns. I called some of them, but not all of them and I was pleasantly surprised overall by how much I got into the plot.
The one thing I wished was a little better was the character development. I never really felt like I knew either main character too well. Maybe I knew Rowan a little bit more. And at first I thought this was intentional because I thought one of them would have to die and maybe I wasn’t supposed to get so attached, but I kind of wished I was a bit more attached. I did ship the characters more than I thought I would. And I liked how that was setup.
There was a definite Hunger Games feel, with some background noise of Shusterman’s famous Unwind. It both felt like a familiar dystopia and something entirely its own. And I liked this a lot. All in all, this was great. I loved the world, the fast paced plot, the twists and turns, and all the layers to this story. I would have given this a slightly higher score if the characters were developed a bit more. But, really, this was a fantastic read. I give it a 9/10.

Monday, January 2, 2017

A Good Week in Books (150)

Happy New Years everyone! I’ve been a little MIA lately. I spent the holidays in Chicago with my family. Then, I came back to celebrate New Years with my boyfriend and best friends. I’m so tired from the all celebrating! I’m not sure if I’m ready to go back to work yet, though I do tomorrow. I did read a lot of books. And I received some great gift books, along with some fun, new ARCs for review. Thank you, Penguin Random House!
The books:

Talking as Fast as I Can
by Lauren Graham
Those Who Leave and Those Who Stay by Elena Ferrante
My Brilliant Friend by Elena Ferrante
The Story of a New Name by Elena Ferrante
City of Saints and Thieves by Natalie Anderson
As Red as Blood by Salla Simukka
How was your week in books?