Thursday, May 31, 2018

5 Worlds: The Cobalt Prince by Mark and Alexis Siegel

Summary from Goodreads:
5 Worlds. 3 Unlikely Heroes. 1 Epic Battle for the Galaxy!

Oona Lee surprised everyone--including herself--when she lit the first beacon to save the Five Worlds from extinction. Can she light the other four beacons in time? Next stop, Toki! On the blue planet, Oona must face the sister who left her, and bring to light the Cobalt Prince's dark secrets. Meanwhile, An Tzu is fading away as his mysterious illness gets worse. Will it stop him from joining the fight? Or will his unique magic be just what the team needs? And Jax Amboy is a hero on the starball field, but in a moment of real danger, will he risk everything to save his friends?

Oona must rely on some surprising new allies in order to stop a terrible plot from unfolding and continue her quest across the 5 WORLDS!
I loved the first book. It was the beautiful artwork that drew me in to first read it. So, I was expecting some top-notch artwork in book 2. And I was not disappointed. The artwork might have even been a little better. I loved all the different types of aliens and creatures (like the oil). There’s a definite Miyazaki feel to it all (like some super fun blending of Spirited Away and My Neighbor Totoro).
The story did not disappoint either. I thought the first book would be perfect for Amulet fans. And guess what? There’s a blurb from Kazu Kibuishi on this one. He calls it, “A magical journey, as fun as it is beautiful.” And he’s right. It’s still a great read-alike for the Amulet books.

There’s some good underlining political elements to the plot too, making this a great series really for all ages. Kids will read it as a super cool space adventure. And adults will read it and see the tie-ins with current topics of immigration, racism, and tolerance.
I liked learning a little bit more about Oona’s sister. A lot was explained about her. Also, a lot was explained in general about why things happened the way they did in book 1. But, Oona’s smarter now, and more critical of what people tell her. I love that she doesn’t just believe everything the Cobalt Prince tells her.

I can’t wait to see more of the worlds, and see what happened with Jax Amboy who had his own adventure when the events of this book were taking place. I highly recommend this book to fans of Amulet, to fans of Avatar the last Airbender, to fans of Miyazaki, and really to just anyone who can appreciate the beauty of a well-done graphic novel. I give this an 8/10.

Wednesday, May 30, 2018

Bookish Boyfriends: a Date with Darcy by Tiffany Schmidt

Summary from Goodreads:
In this contemporary YA, a teenager’s favorite literary heroes woo her in real life

The first of two books in an intended paperback original series about a girl whose classic literary crushes manifest in real life. Merrilee Campbell, 16, thinks boys are better in books, chivalry is dead, and there’d be nothing more romantic than having just one guy woo her like the heroes in classic stories. She’s about to get the chance to test these daydreams when she, her best friend, Eliza, and her younger sister, Rory, transfer into Reginald R. Hero High, where all their fantasies come true—often with surprising consequences. 
This wasn't the best written book, or anything super new really...It just had the recipe for all things I love. And the author pulled it off extraordinarily well. It's a cute, fluffy YA for all the English majors of the world. For everyone who's fallen in love with Darcy, or who unfortunately knows a Romeo too. The literary references were everywhere (not just the two main books the main character reads, which are Pride and Prejudice and Romeo and Juliet. I definitely enjoyed the Pride and Prejudice moments the best.
What girl hasn’t read Jane Austen and connected instantly with Elizabeth Bennet? Or dreamt of her own Darcy? I feel like this author and I would be great friends. She essentially took my craziest daydreams (from teenage me) and then wrote them down in a YA contemporary book. She brought Darcy to life. And the main character is as obsessed with books as I am. It would have been hard for me not to like this book.

I loved this. I read a library copy, and am considering buying my own, so I can reread whenever I need to.
I love that the reader is never 100% sure if Merrilee is right and the books she’s reading are becoming her reality. Is her English teacher magic, or just unbelievably good? Why couldn’t I have had this teacher? I also loved Merrilee’s relationship with her sisters. I loved her best friends too. And while I have a feeling book 2 will be about her younger sister and her most likely future relationship with Toby and Little Women, I so desperately hope her awesome friend, Eliza, to get her own book magic too. She needs her own novel, for sure.
All in all this if a fluffy, fun, and sometimes silly romance. It would be a great book to take outside to the beach this summer. I give it a 9/10.

Tuesday, May 29, 2018

All Summer Long by Hope Larson

Summary from Goodreads:
A coming-of-age middle-grade graphic novel about summer and friendships, written and illustrated by the Eisner Award–winning and New York Times–bestselling Hope Larson.

Thirteen-year-old Bina has a long summer ahead of her. She and her best friend, Austin, usually do everything together, but he's off to soccer camp for a month, and he's been acting kind of weird lately anyway. So it's up to Bina to see how much fun she can have on her own. At first it's a lot of guitar playing, boredom, and bad TV, but things look up when she finds an unlikely companion in Austin's older sister, who enjoys music just as much as Bina. But then Austin comes home from camp, and he's acting even weirder than when he left. How Bina and Austin rise above their growing pains and reestablish their friendship and respect for their differences makes for a touching and funny coming-of-age story.
I’m a big Hope Larson fan. I adored Compass South and Knife’s Edge. I have also been super into the increase of girl middle grade contempory graphic novels. This had the look of Sunny Side Up by Holm and Smile by Telgemeir going for it. And I had high hopes.
I guess maybe my expectations were a little too high. The art was really good, though very different from the author’s past graphic novels –more subdued. It was still easy to get into the story because of how fun and simple the artwork was. It was more the story that I just didn’t love as much. There wasn’t a lot going on.
Larson definitely captured how bored a young person can be when left alone all summer. But, that doesn’t’ necessarily make for the best reading material. The book moved slowly, as I’m sure the summer did for Bina. I liked the storyline with Austin’s sister. I found that to be interesting and believable. I guess I just wanted more to happen there though, overall. And I also kind of hated Austin. He did not deserve Bina’s friendship. She was super quick to forgive him, and maybe kids are like that, but I had a harder time letting things go, as a reader.
Also, I’m not sure they read as 12 to me. First Austin was too cool to have a girl best friend. Like he’d have cooties or something and get made fun of by the soccer guys. And two seconds later, we’re supposed to believe he’s emotionally ready to have this soccer girlfriend? Like what?
I also got confused about the timing of it. The clothes suggested 70’s/80’s, but then the kids were texting, so I decided to read it as current. But, then records and record players happened….along with pharmacy soda shops? Was it a weird combo of decades? I kept getting pulled out of the story, trying to determine the timing of it, and I don’t think that’s a good thing.
All in all, I didn’t hate this. But, I definitely didn’t love it either. I’m thinking maybe I’ll just stick to the fantasy stories by this author. I give this one a 6/10.

Monday, May 28, 2018

A Good Week in Books (181)

I had a nice, little book week. I finished reading a super adorable contemporary. I also read an awesome middle grade graphic novel. I finished my listening of Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire (which took some time at 17 discs!). I started reading a new contemporary. And I received three new pretties for review (thank you, Swoon Reads, Hyperion, and feiwel and Friends).
The new books:

The Brightsiders by Jen Wilde
The Life and Death Parade
by Eilza Wass
Summer Skin by Kirsty Eager
I can’t wait to take some of these books outside to read now that the weather has finally gotten a bit nicer.
How was your week in books?

Tuesday, May 22, 2018

Puddin' by Julie Murphy

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

Millie Michalchuk has gone to fat camp every year since she was a girl. Not this year. This year she has new plans to chase her secret dream—and to kiss her crush. Callie Reyes is the pretty girl who is next in line for dance team captain and has the popular boyfriend. But when it comes to other girls, she’s more frenemy than friend. When circumstances bring the girls together over the course of a semester, they will surprise everyone (especially themselves) by realizing they might have more in common than they ever imagined.
So, this book was everything! It was just the uplifting kind of story I needed to get through a busy, rainy week. It’s the kind of book that has me wishing for and craving more friendship stories. Girl power, friendships, and body positivity! This book just makes you feel good!
I was a little nervous going into this because I wasn’t certain I’d remembered all the things I needed to from Dumplin’. Good thing is this book could totally work as a standalone. You don’t have to have read the first book. However, I highly recommend it. And the deeper I got into the story, the more I remembered from book 1.
I loved Millie. She’s such a good person. It’s hard to read this and not want to be best friends with her. Her optimism, friendliness, and kindness would it make it hard for anyone not to want to know her. And I can see how her bubbly personality somehow just worked so well with Callie’s harshness.
There’s a lot going on in this book about body positivity, mean girls, family acceptance, bravery, first love, and forgiveness. But, at the root of it all is one of the best friendship stories I have read in a long time. There’s this line toward the end of the book that just jolted me. It gave me goose bumps when I first read it. And upon just finding it again now, it put a little tear in the corner of my eye. ‘“I would’ve never done this without you. I spend a lot of time telling myself to be brave, but you make me brave” (414). If this book was a song it would be “For Good” from the play, Wicked.
And if this book was a movie, it would be a super amazing, not sad, friendship version of “A Walk to Remember.” It has the elements of a good romantic comedy (which Millie would love). And there’s also something so innocent about it. What can be more innocent than a slumber party outside in tents, under the stars? Julie Murphy just gets all these different, separate points of adolescence and pieces them together in a giant puzzle board of nostalgia. I read this and had a weird longing for a Cheetos/Oreo infused sleepover of my past, something I haven’t even thought about in years.
I loved this book. 10/10.

Monday, May 21, 2018

A Good Week in Books (180)

So…I was this close to calling my post: The Mother Load. Seriously, I have a huge haul this week! I’m still slowly making my way through Goblet of Fire on audio (there are 17 discs!). I finished one great contemporary and one new graphic novel. It was a goal of mine to read more graphic novels this year, and so far that has not been a problem. So many good, new YA and middle grade graphic novels!
I also received the mother load of hauls from Hachette. I think there’s at least one new one from Macmillan. And the lovely boyfriend bought me another graphic novel on our fun trip into Boston this past weekend.
I kind of feel like I’ve been living in books lately. Between the gorgeous new books at home, and the end of my fiscal year at work when I get to order tons of new books for the library, I’m surrounded. And I have to say it’s a lovely feeling.
The new pretties:

5 Worlds: The Cobalt Prince by Mark Siegel (!!! So excited for this book 2!)
Out of the Blue by Sophie Cameron
Airports, Exes, And other Things I’m Over by Shani Petroff
Once Upon a Time: Henry and Violet by Michelle Zink
Picture Us in the Light by Kelly Loy Gilbert
City of Bastards by Andrew Shvarts
The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl: 2 Fuzzy, 2 Furious by Shanon Hale(!!)
Reflection: A Twisted Tale by Elizabeth Lim
Nothing Happened by Molly Booth
Little Do We Know by Tamara Ireland Stone
The Trials of Apollo: The Burning Maze by Rick Riordan (!)
Aru Shah and the End of Time by Roshani Chokshi
Neanderthal Opens the Door to the Universe by Preston Norton
How was your week in books?

Thursday, May 17, 2018

Children of Blood and Bone by Tomi Adeyemi

Summary from Goodreads:
Zélie Adebola remembers when the soil of Orïsha hummed with magic. Burners ignited flames, Tiders beckoned waves, and Zelie’s Reaper mother summoned forth souls.

But everything changed the night magic disappeared. Under the orders of a ruthless king, maji were targeted and killed, leaving Zélie without a mother and her people without hope.

Now, Zélie has one chance to bring back magic and strike against the monarchy. With the help of a rogue princess, Zélie must outwit and outrun the crown prince, who is hell-bent on eradicating magic for good.

Danger lurks in Orïsha, where snow leoponaires prowl and vengeful spirits wait in the waters. Yet the greatest danger may be Zélie herself as she struggles to control her powers—and her growing feelings for the enemy.
This book was everything I was hoping it would be.

I can feel the books that inspired this masterpiece. I felt elements of Potter, some essence of Throne of Glass, and bits and pieces of The Hunger Games. Though, it was 100% it's own story. A story that kept me up late at night. It was super hard to put down. It's filled with plenty of twists and turns. And some of them I did not see coming!
I loved the characters, particularly the two main female characters. I love that Zelie kind of hates Amari at first, but then learns to see her strengths as the story goes on. Their friendship is something magical at the end. I also love Zelie’s relationship with her brother. It’s super strong, but also remarkably believable. They fight and disagree on a lot of things, but always have each other’s backs. And I guess, it was just super nice to read about a normal and good sibling relationship in a YA book.
There was also a hate to love kind of love story element that I super enjoy. And while I thought I was calling all the things that would happen there, I was wrong on so many wonderful levels. This author is not afraid to piss you off a little, and I love her more for that.

Also, the book just feels so important. So relevant to today. I know the whole “we need diverse books” thing has been going on for a while. But, I didn’t know how badly I needed such a diverse fantasy novel until this. Seriously, there are no other fantasy books like this. And now that I’ve had a taste, I want more! Diversity should be in more than just contemporary stories. And this book proves it over and over in how amazing it is.
I wasn't sure the author was saying what she was until I read her little afterward at the very end. And she's so brave and honest in there, that I love this book even more for it. It's nothing like anything else out there (even though it's also an homage to other YA). So much love for this book! I really hope a book 2 is in the works. I can’t wait to read more of what this author has to say. I give it a 10/10.

Tuesday, May 15, 2018

Star Struck by Jenny McLachlan

Summary from Goodreads:
Following on from Flirty Dancing, Love Bomb and Sunkissed, Jenny McLachlan's next book is perfect for fans of Geek Girl and Louise Rennison.

In a huge fantastic final hurrah to our lovable heroines - Bea, Betty, Kat and Pearl - Jenny McLachlan's latest book tells Pearl's story. Pearl is the 'bad girl' of the group - she drinks, she smokes, she swears - and she's mean to Bea and Betty. But she did fly halfway round the world to rescue Kat in Sunkissed. If there's one thing Pearl knows deep down, it is how to be a friend. And now, more than ever, she could really use a friend.

There will be laughter, there will be tears and there will definitely be kissing. Most importantly, Pearl will be keeping it fierce!
I loved this one. I had mixed feelings going in: excitement for another installment of this fabulous series and dread that it would be too hard reading from the perspective of the mean girl.

I read this in a couple of sittings. I loved it. I loved seeing why Pearl is the way she is. Her home life was kind of terrifying. And I wasn't expecting to feel so strongly and feel so afraid in this book (where the rest of the books in the series were a lot more fluffy). I had tears at one point or two. Stuff got too real with her pet fish.

I also loved the romance. I wasn't sure if the author was going to do anything with my unconventional ship or not. I thought it might just be a friendship story, and that would have been okay too. But, I was shipping so hard. And I was so happy to have my ship sail. That being said, the one thing I did not love was the ending with the play. That felt a little too forced -too Disney channel. I would have been happier if it went according to plan, and maybe had a little more resolution with Pearl's family life.  But, I get that not everything can be as perfectly wrapped up as I’d want it to be.

All in all though, this was amazing. I loved the humor, sarcasm, girl friendship, romance, family drama, everything. I highly recommend this series to everyone (especially those who are recovering still -years later from the end of the Georgia Nicholson books).
This is a great series for girls just hitting the YA level of things. It reads mostly for a younger group of YA readers, but I really see anyone appreciating them. And except for this last installment, they are rather fluffy, and just super fun and easy to read. I give this last one a 9/10. And I wish I could get my hands on more of these author’s books, but they appear not be on sale yet in the US.

Monday, May 14, 2018

A Good Week in Books (179)

So, I’m slowly making my way back to my blog. I’ve recapped some of the books I’ve read/done mini reviews for on Goodreads. I’ve been rereading the Harry Potter books. I’m up to book 4 now (on audio). I read a couple of new books this week: one contemporary and one fantasy. And I have received some new books for review (thank you, Macmillan!) Though, I think one of the books in the pile was a purchase. I need to work harder on separating my TBR piles again. In good time…
The new pretties:

Ship it
by Britta Lundin
Children of Blood and Bone by Tomi Adeyemi
If You Don’t Have Anything Nice to Say by Leila Sales
All Summer Long by Hope Larson
The Handsome Girl and the Beautiful Boy by B.T. Gottfred
How was your week in books?

Sunday, May 6, 2018

Mini Reviews Round 5: Scarlett Hart: Monster Hunter, Suitors and Sabotage, and Leah on the Offbeat

Scarlett Hart: Monster Hunter
by Marcus Sedgwick (4 stars)
Summary from Goodreads:
Scarlett Hart, orphaned daughter of two legendary monster hunters, is determined to carry on in her parents’ footsteps—even if the Royal Academy for the Pursuit and Eradication of Zoological Eccentricities says she’s too young to fight perilous horrors. But whether it's creepy mummies or a horrid hound, Scarlett won’t back down, and with the help of her loyal butler and a lot of monster-mashing gadgets, she’s on the case.

With her parent’s archrival, Count Stankovic, ratting her out to T.R.A.P.E.Z.E. and taking all the monster-catching rewards for himself, it’s getting hard for Scarlett to do what she was born to do. And when more monsters start mysteriously manifesting than ever before, Scarlett knows she has to get to the bottom of it and save the city... whatever the danger!

In his first adventure for middle-grade readers, acclaimed YA author Marcus Sedgwick teams up with Thomas Taylor (illustrator of the original edition of Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone) to create a rip-roaring romp full of hairy horrors, villainous villains, and introducing the world’s toughest monster hunter—Scarlett Hart!
Mini Review:
I really enjoyed this one. I read it in one sitting.

Really, the only thing that would make it better is more background. More background on the world filled with monsters. More background on the characters. I don’t even know the main character that well. However, I loved her. Young girl fighting monsters, despite fears, underage laws, and bad guys? Yes, I’m in.

On the other hand, it felt like I was kinda reading a comic book, versus a graphic novel. A comic book actually designed for girls. Scarlett was a young Bruce Wayne, for sure. She even had her Alfred. And I guess comic books get background within many installments -not all in the beginning. I hope this gets more installments.

It was just so much fun watching Scarlett take down monsters.

Suitors and Sabotage by Cindy Anstey (5 stars)
Summary from Goodreads:
Shy aspiring artist Imogene Chively has just had a successful Season in London, complete with a suitor of her father's approval. Imogene is ambivalent about the young gentleman until he comes to visit her at the Chively estate with his younger brother in tow. When her interest is piqued, however, it is for the wrong brother.

Charming Ben Steeple has a secret: despite being an architectural apprentice, he has no drawing aptitude. When Imogene offers to teach him, Ben is soon smitten by the young lady he considers his brother's intended.

But hiding their true feelings becomes the least of their problems when, after a series of "accidents," it becomes apparent that someone means Ben harm. And as their affection for each other grows—despite their efforts to remain just friends—so does the danger. . .
Mini Review:
This book was just delightful. It was Jane Austen-light. Reading it was like going to high tea and finding all your favorite desserts waiting for you.

I loved the romance. I loved the friendship. I loved the family drama. I loved the witty banter. I loved the drawing lessons. And I loved the mini mystery.

This was a fluffy, entertaining book. And I’m so glad this author keeps writing these wonderful historical romances.

Leah on the Offbeat by Becky Albertalli (5 stars)
Summary from Goodreads:
Leah Burke—girl-band drummer, master of deadpan, and Simon Spier’s best friend from the award-winning Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda—takes center stage in this novel of first love and senior-year angst.

When it comes to drumming, Leah Burke is usually on beat—but real life isn’t always so rhythmic. An anomaly in her friend group, she’s the only child of a young, single mom, and her life is decidedly less privileged. She loves to draw but is too self-conscious to show it. And even though her mom knows she’s bisexual, she hasn’t mustered the courage to tell her friends—not even her openly gay BFF, Simon.

So Leah really doesn’t know what to do when her rock-solid friend group starts to fracture in unexpected ways. With prom and college on the horizon, tensions are running high. It’s hard for Leah to strike the right note while the people she loves are fighting—especially when she realizes she might love one of them more than she ever intended.
Mini Review:
All honesty here: I was super worried about this one. I love where everything ended in Simon, and I wasn’t sure I was ready to read all the stuff that happened afterward. And I wasn’t sure I’d like a book about Leah.

I loved this book about Leah! She’s so much more cynical, sarcastic, and awkward than Simon is. I read the whole thing in two sittings. It moves super fast.

I loved getting to see Simon and Bram and their adorable relationship. I loved the Harry Potter references. I loved the musical bits. I loved the characters. And I’m so ecstatically happy that I got to be in Leah’s head here because I loved her way more than I was expecting to.

I had such a ship in this book too. This is a book for those who love having ships.

I guess after 3 wonderful books, it’s safe to say Becky Albertalli knows what she’s doing. And I sincerely hope she writes more.

Saturday, May 5, 2018

Mini Reviews Round 4: The Case for Jamie, Thornhill, and The Astonishing Color of After

The Case for Jamie
by Brittany Cavallaro (5 stars)

Summary from Goodreads:
The hotly anticipated and explosive third book in the New York Times bestselling Charlotte Holmes series.

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.

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—and Charlotte wants it that way. She knows she isn’t safe to be around. She knows her Watson can’t forgive her.

Holmes and Watson may not be looking to reconcile, but when strange things start happening, it’s clear that someone 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.
Mini Review:
This book was impossible to put down. It’s so good I might have even brought it up in discussion a few times at work-possibly entirely out of context of everything.

Mostly, this book is amazing because the characters are amazing. I loved getting so much more into Charlotte’s head. I loved the mystery and suspense entirely being based off of the events of book 2. I loved the connections to classic Holmes stories and the show, Sherlock.

I shipped these two characters so fiercely. And I seriously had a crazy book crush on Jamie.

I sincerely hope this author keeps writing.

Thornhill by Pam Smy (4 stars)
Summary from Goodreads:
Parallel stories set in different times, one told in prose and one in pictures, converge as Ella unravels the mystery of the girl next door.

1982: Mary is a lonely orphan at the Thornhill Institute For Children at the very moment that it's shutting its doors. When her few friends are all adopted or re-homed and she's left to face a volatile bully alone, her revenge will have a lasting effect on the bully, on Mary, and on Thornhill itself.

2016: Ella has just moved to a new town where she knows no one. From her room on the top floor of her new home, she has a perfect view of the dilapidated, abandoned Thornhill Institute across the way, where she glimpses a girl in the window. Determined to befriend the girl, Ella resolves to unravel Thornhill's shadowy past.
Mini Review:
So, this was way more emotional and depressing then expected. It was less creepy than I wanted, but definitely haunting in an emotional sense. I’m not used to graphic novels making me cry. But the bullying in here was torture.

It was also kinda genius how the illustrated story corresponded to the diary entries. The pictures were moving and emotional also. It kind of read like a super dark Brian Selznick book. I’m not sure I’d recommend this to all middle grade readers.

I was genuinely surprised by the ending, which had me appreciating the story even more. The artwork was insanely good. All in all, I was quite impressed. It wasn’t what I was expecting. But I still really appreciated what it accomplished.

The Astonishing Color of After by Emily X R Pan (4 stars)
Summary from Goodreads:
Leigh Chen Sanders is absolutely certain about one thing: When her mother died by suicide, she turned into a bird.

Leigh, who is half Asian and half white, travels to Taiwan to meet her maternal grandparents for the first time. There, she is determined to find her mother, the bird. In her search, she winds up chasing after ghosts, uncovering family secrets, and forging a new relationship with her grandparents. And as she grieves, she must try to reconcile the fact that on the same day she kissed her best friend and longtime secret crush, Axel, her mother was taking her own life.

Alternating between real and magic, past and present, friendship and romance, hope and despair, The Astonishing Color of After is a novel about finding oneself through family history, art, grief, and love.
Mini Review:
This was a strange one. I almost stopped my reading several times because I wasn’t feeling it. But, I’m glad I kept going. The ending was everything.

I tend to like strange books, but the strangeness of this one kept pulling me out of the overall story. I think it might have been too long. Not all of the memories seemed to need to be there. It also awakened thoughts I haven’t had in a long time about someone I knew, who committed suicide. So the harsh reality of my own memories mixing with the harsh memories of the main character and her family didn’t necessarily keep me involved, as much as making me want to not think about it.

I loved the setting. I got to see a part of the world I know little to nothing about. And it was fascinating. And I loved the love story too. think I kept reading because I wanted an outcome to be there. My shipping kept me involved. And the setting kept my curiosity at an all time high. The story of grief and everything with the bird (the point of the book) just felt kinda lacking. Something was missing, something that might have made it powerful.

Parts of it were still powerful, like the ending. A surprise twist really did surprise me. I don’t think I’d recommend this to everyone, maybe just to those who like strange, who like magical realism. The story does stick with you, way after you finish. And I appreciate that too.

Friday, May 4, 2018

Mini Reviews Round 3: Stalking Jack the Ripper, The Sky is Everywhere, and Obsidio

Stalking Jack the Ripper by Kerri Maniscalco (3 stars)
Summary from Goodreads:
Presented by James Patterson's new children's imprint, this deliciously creepy horror novel has a storyline inspired by the Ripper murders and an unexpected, blood-chilling conclusion...

Seventeen-year-old Audrey Rose Wadsworth was born a lord's daughter, with a life of wealth and privilege stretched out before her. But between the social teas and silk dress fittings, she leads a forbidden secret life.

Against her stern father's wishes and society's expectations, Audrey often slips away to her uncle's laboratory to study the gruesome practice of forensic medicine. When her work on a string of savagely killed corpses drags Audrey into the investigation of a serial murderer, her search for answers brings her close to her own sheltered world.

The story's shocking twists and turns, augmented with real, sinister period photos, will make this dazzling, #1 New York Times bestselling debut from author Kerri Maniscalco impossible to forget.
Mini Review:
A little disappointing.

Loved the concept. Loved the science. And the forensics.

Not a big fan of the mystery. I called it from the beginning, and kept reading hoping it would be different. It was all so predictable and done before. Also, the main character didn’t seem that believable to me. Her dress, attitude, and mind all seemed too modern for the time -and not in a good way.

Still, it worked as an easy plane book.

The Sky is Everywhere by Jandy Nelson (5 stars)
Summary from Goodreads:
Seventeen-year-old Lennie Walker spends her time tucked safely and happily in the shadow of her fiery older sister, Bailey.

But when Bailey dies abruptly, Lennie is catapulted to centre stage of her own life - and suddenly finds herself struggling to balance two boys. One boy takes Lennie out of her sorrow; the other comforts her in it. But the two can't collide without Lennie's world exploding...
Mini Review:
Why did it take me so long to read this one?

I absolutely adored "I'll Give you the sun." That along with the fact that this paperback is all blue, probably were my inspirations for purchasing this book on my last trip to England. I guess I can blame my late-to-the-game reading of it on my lack of vacations. I like to take paperbacks with me on vacation, and I just went to Florida and needed some good ones. I'm so glad I took this with me.

Basically the whole book reads like poetry. It's beautiful. The writing is pure beauty. And more than that, this author knows what grief feels like. I was so beyond connected to the main character and her grief. I've never read a book that tackles grief so well. All the random moments it hits you that you won't get to experience this ever again with this person....Ah... I cried throughout.

I loved the Bronte-esque love story too. There were definite similarities here to the book the Lennie was always reading: Wuthering Heights. I feel like a younger version of myself would not have appreciated this book as much as I do now. Teen me would not have forgiven Lennie for her actions with one boy. But, adult me gets it.

And the side characters and setting were just amazing. I want to go to Gram's garden. I want to see see the bedroom in the woods. I want to talk feminism with her best friend. Even Bailey felt real. They were all real people with real flaws and real love. I feel like I know them all.

I want to re-read this now. And get lost in the beauty of it. Lost in the music of what the characters are feeling. I hope this author writes more. I can't sing this enough praises. 

Obsidio by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff (5 stars)
Summary from Goodreads:
Kady, Ezra, Hanna, and Nik narrowly escaped with their lives from the attacks on Heimdall station and now find themselves crammed with 2,000 refugees on the container ship, Mao. With the jump station destroyed and their resources scarce, the only option is to return to Kerenza—but who knows what they'll find seven months after the invasion?

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

With time running out, a final battle will be waged on land and in space, heroes will fall, and hearts will be broken.
Mini Review:
What a crazy thrill ride that was! This book is so good, that all my time away from it, was spent thinking about it...

Plot twists galore!

More action than even the past books in the series. More sadness. More crazy AI. More violence. All our favorite characters interacting with each other.

Wow, this book was good.

Thursday, May 3, 2018

Mini Reivews Round 2: This Heart of Mine, Honor Among Thieves, and Tess of the Road

This Heart of Mine by C.C. Hunter (3 stars)
Summary from Goodreads:

A new heart saved her life—but will it help her find out what really happened to its donor?

Seventeen-year-old Leah MacKenzie is heartless. An artificial heart in a backpack is keeping her alive. However, this route only offers her a few years. And with her rare blood type, a transplant isn’t likely. Living like you are dying isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. But when a heart becomes available, she’s given a second chance at life. Except Leah discovers who the donor was — a boy from her school — and they’re saying he killed himself. Plagued with dreams since the transplant, she realizes she may hold the clues to what really happened.

Matt refuses to believe his twin killed himself. When Leah seeks him out, he learns they are both having similar dreams and he’s certain it means something. While unraveling the secrets of his brother’s final moments, Leah and Matt find each other, and a love they are terrified to lose. But life and even new hearts don’t come with guarantees. Who knew living took more courage than dying?
Mini Reivew:
This is not my favorite book by this author.

And I called the whole mystery by the very beginning. As will everyone who watches police shows/procedurals.

That being said, I still read most of it in one sitting. I love this author’s quick suspense mixed with romance.

I don’t think fans will be disappointed. Though no one will be surprised either...I’m looking forward to reading more by this author.

Honor Among Thieves by Rachel Caine and Ann Aguirre (5 stars)
Summary from Goodreads:
Petty criminal Zara Cole has a painful past that’s made her stronger than most, which is why she chose life in New Detroit instead of 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, Zara starts to feel at home for the first time. But nothing could have prepared her for the dark, ominous truths that lurk behind the alluring glitter of starlight.
Mini Reivew:
Favorite book of the year, so far. And I have been reading some amazing books. Bring it, 2018!

Seriously though, I have never read a story like this one before, and I can’t think of a higher compliment.

The characters, the concept, the suspense, the worlds, the ending! Everything was top notch. YA sci-fi at its absolute best. I highly recommend this one to fans of the genre.

In trying to explain it to friends, I called it the love child of Illuminae, Mistborn, and the tv show, Firefly. I can’t wait for more folks to read it.


Tess of the Road by Rachel Hartman (5 stars)
Summary From Goodreads:
In the medieval kingdom of Goredd, women are expected to be ladies, men are their protectors, and dragons get to be whomever they want. Tess, stubbornly, is a troublemaker. You can't make a scene at your sister's wedding and break a relative's nose with one punch (no matter how pompous he is) and not suffer the consequences. As her family plans to send her to a nunnery, Tess yanks on her boots and sets out on a journey across the Southlands, alone and pretending to be a boy.

Where Tess is headed is a mystery, even to her. So when she runs into an old friend, it's a stroke of luck. This friend is a quigutl--a subspecies of dragon--who gives her both a purpose and protection on the road. But Tess is guarding a troubling secret. Her tumultuous past is a heavy burden to carry, and the memories she's tried to forget threaten to expose her to the world in more ways than one.
Mini Review:
I can see a lot of people not liking this book. It’s slow-paced. And it follows a lot of classic old school fantasy plots: aka: the big quest, the inner quest, and plenty of side adventures. Also, there are some serious spiritual/almost religious moments. And a girl dressing as a boy, to survive a sexist society.

This is not a book for plot readers. It’s a fantasy book for character readers. Especially readers who appreciate good writing. It’s written beautifully.

It’s a friendship story and also a story about learning to love yourself. You only learn about why the main character hates herself in bits and pieces, and I didn’t guess it all in the beginning. I was genuinely surprised by all of it ( and some of it you don’t learn till the very end).

I loved this book for so many reasons. I don’t want to spoil what happened, but know it was beautifully executed, spot-on feminist, and full of interesting creatures. I loved it.


Wednesday, May 2, 2018

Mini Reivews (round 1): Unearthed, That Inevitable Victorian Thing, and American Panda

Unearthed by Amie Kaufman (4 stars)

Summary on Goodreads:

When Earth intercepts a message from a long-extinct alien race, it seems like the solution the planet has been waiting for. The Undying's advanced technology has the potential to undo environmental damage and turn lives around, and Gaia, their former home planet, is a treasure trove waiting to be uncovered.

For Jules Addison and his fellow scholars, the discovery of an alien culture offers unprecedented opportunity for study... as long as scavengers like Amelia Radcliffe don't loot everything first. Mia and Jules' different reasons for smuggling themselves onto Gaia put them immediately at odds, but after escaping a dangerous confrontation with other scavvers, they form a fragile alliance.

In order to penetrate the Undying temple and reach the tech and information hidden within, the two must decode the ancient race's secrets and survive their traps. But the more they learn about the Undying, the more their presence in the temple seems to be part of a grand design that could spell the end of the human race...
Mini Review:
This book had some serious ups and downs for me.

The ups:
The crazier then all getup ending.
The Indiana Jones style traps
The twists and turns
The suspense
The puzzles

The downs:
The kinda cliche characters
The similarities between this and the Starbound trilogy
The repetition

The ups definitely outweigh the downs. I thought I'd give up on this a couple of times, but my curiosity kept me going. I wanted to know what they characters would find. Super class suspense here.

That Inevitable Victorian Thing by E.K. Johnston (4 stars)

Summary from Goodreads:

Set in a near-future world where the British Empire was preserved, not by the cost of blood and theft but by effort of repatriation and promises kept, That Inevitable Victorian Thing is a novel of love, duty, and the small moments that can change people and the world.

Victoria-Margaret is the crown princess of the empire, a direct descendant of Victoria I, the queen who changed the course of history two centuries earlier. The imperial practice of genetically arranged matchmaking will soon guide Margaret into a politically advantageous marriage like her mother before her, but before she does her duty, she'll have one summer incognito in a far corner of empire. In Toronto, she meets Helena Marcus, daughter of one of the empire's greatest placement geneticists, and August Callaghan, the heir apparent to a powerful shipping firm currently besieged by American pirates. In a summer of high-society debutante balls, politically charged tea parties, and romantic country dances, Margaret, Helena, and August discover they share an unusual bond and maybe a one in a million chance to have what they want and to change the world in the process —just like the first Queen Victoria.
Mini Reivew:
I loved this. Reading it felt reminiscent of Jane Austen and regency romances. The world it takes place in was fascinating. The characters were very lovable.

I was not a fan of the random notes and news articles between chapters. I know it’s how the author developed her extraordinarily unique world. But, I kinda wish the world was developed more in the actual narrative. They took me out of the story in a bad way.

The only reason I didn’t give this five stars was the super rushed ending. Not enough time passed for the three main characters to come to the decision they did. I loved their decision; it just didn’t seem very plausible/believable. I wish that was flushed out more.

All in all though, this was a lot of fun. 

American Panda by Gloria Chao (5 stars)
Summary from Goodreads:
At seventeen, Mei should be in high school, but skipping fourth grade was part of her parents' master plan. Now a freshman at MIT, she is on track to fulfill the rest of this predetermined future: become a doctor, marry a preapproved Taiwanese Ivy Leaguer, produce a litter of babies.

With everything her parents have sacrificed to make her cushy life a reality, Mei can't bring herself to tell them the truth--that she (1) hates germs, (2) falls asleep in biology lectures, and (3) has a crush on her classmate Darren Takahashi, who is decidedly not Taiwanese.

But when Mei reconnects with her brother, Xing, who is estranged from the family for dating the wrong woman, Mei starts to wonder if all the secrets are truly worth it. Can she find a way to be herself, whoever that is, before her web of lies unravels?
Mini Review:
I really loved this one. It was both super fluffy, and super emotional. I had a few tears at one point for Mei (who I just loved). It was sarcastic, witty, and dramatic. All things I love. I love that the focus was on family and being a Taiwanese American balancing two very different worlds. The romance was just a little added side dish. I sincerely hope this author writes more books.

Tuesday, May 1, 2018

Catch Up Part 2

So, I mentioned that I have read 26 books, while on my little blog vacation.  I thought I’d list them all here (and then maybe go through some posts with my mini reviews for them). Technically, I’ve read 24 books. Two books were DNF’ed.
I’ve also had some great weeks in books. I have continued to receive books for review. I’ve continued to purchase books. I went on a mini vacation to Florida and bought some books while I was there. And of course I keep checking out many, many books from the library.
Books read since January 31 (and the ratings I gave them on Goodreads):

1) The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl, Vol. 6: Who Run the World? Squirrels by Ryan North (4 stars)
2) Truly Devious  by Maureen Johnson (5 stars)
3) Wires and Nerve: Gone Rogue by Marissa Meyer (3 stars)
4) Unearthed by Amie Kaufman (4 stars)
5) Tempests and Slaughter by Tamora Pierce (5 stars)
6) That Inevitable Victorian Thing by E.K. Johnston (4 stars)
7) American Panda by Gloria Chao (5 stars)
8) This Heart of Mine by C.C. Hunter (3 stars)
9) Honor Among Thieves by Rachel Caine and Ann Aguirre (5 stars)
10) The Prince and the Dressmaker by Jen Wang (5 stars)
11) Tess of the Road by Rachel Hartman (5 stars)
12) Stalking Jack the Ripper by Kerri Maniscalco (3 stars)
13) The Sky is Everywhere by Jandy Nelson (5 stars)
14) Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone by JK Rowling –reread (5 stars)
15) Obsidio by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff (5 stars)
16) The Case for Jamie by Brittany Cavallaro (5 stars)
17) Unspoken by C.C. Hunter (4 stars)
18) Thornhill by Pam Smy (4 stars)
19) Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets by JK Rolwing –reread (5 stars)
20) The Astonishing Color of After by Emily X R Pan (4 stars)
21) Scarlett Hart: Monster Hunter by Marcus Sedgwick (4 stars)
22) The City on the Other Side by Mairghread Scott (4 stars)
23) Suitors and Sabotage by Cindy Anstey (5 stars)
24) Leah on the Offbeat by Becky Albertalli (5 stars)
And I DNF’ed 2 books:
1) The Reader by Traci Chee
2) Nothing by Annie Barrows

Some mini reviews to come!