Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Waiting on Wednesday (80)

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 This Side of Salvation by Jeri Smith-Ready (4/1/14):

Description on Goodreads:
Everyone mourns differently. When his older brother was killed, David got angry. As in, fist-meets-someone-else’s-face furious. But his parents? They got religious. David’s still figuring out his relationship with a higher power, but there’s one thing he does know for sure: The closer he gets to new-girl Bailey, the better, brighter, happier, more he feels.

Then his parents start cutting all their worldly ties in to prepare for the Rush, the divine moment when the faithful will be whisked off to Heaven…and they want David to do the same. David’s torn. There’s a big difference between living in the moment and giving up his best friend, varsity baseball, and Bailey—especially Bailey—in hope of salvation.

But when he comes home late from prom, and late for the Rush, to find that his parents have vanished, David is in more trouble than he ever could have imagined.
Why I’m Waiting:
I love Jeri Smith-Ready’s YA paranormal romance books. And while this sounds absolutely like nothing else she has written so far, I’m so beyond curious and excited to see a different side to this author. This sounds like an interesting story line, though normally this much focus on religion can be a red flag for me. I guess I just want to see what happens with the parents. I’m also interested in seeing the author write with the voice of a male main character.  I’m ready for more Jeri Smith-Ready, and I can’t wait for this to come out.
What are you waiting on this week?

Monday, January 27, 2014

Being Sloane Jacobs by Lauren Morrill

Summary (from Goodreads):
Meet Sloane Emily Jacobs: a seriously stressed-out figure-skater from Washington, D.C., who choked during junior nationals and isn’t sure she’s ready for a comeback. What she does know is that she’d give anything to escape the mass of misery that is her life.

Now meet Sloane Devon Jacobs, a spunky ice hockey player from Philly who’s been suspended from her team for too many aggressive hip checks. Her punishment? Hockey camp, now, when she’s playing the worst she’s ever played. If she messes up? Her life will be over.

When the two Sloanes meet by chance in Montreal and decide to trade places for the summer, each girl thinks she’s the lucky one: no strangers to judge or laugh at Sloane Emily, no scouts expecting Sloane Devon to be a hero. But it didn’t occur to Sloane E. that while avoiding sequins and axels she might meet a hockey hottie—and Sloane D. never expected to run into a familiar (and very good-looking) face from home. It’s not long before the Sloanes discover that convincing people you’re someone else might be more difficult than being yourself.
I absolutely loved Morrill’s debut: Meant to Be. And as soon as I read the synopsis of this book, I knew I would love it too. I know the whole “switching places” concept has been done before, and I know that it’s a little bit cheesy. Not to mention that it is insanely impossible to think anyone could learn either figure skating or ice hockey in one month’s time. Sometimes though, I want the familiar, the cheesy, and the impossible. And when an author can write these three things well, it validates my need for them even more.
And Morrill definitely writes her contemporaries well. There’s something both endearing and painful about watching a hockey player learn a double axel. And I found myself liking Sloan Devon a lot, right away.  She had no idea how hard figure skating would be. And she worked so hard to make Sloane Emily not look terrible. It took me a little longer to warm up to Sloane Emily. And I feel kind of terrible saying this but I just don’t think she could have survived hockey camp with no bruises and pains. Her experience as a whole seemed a lot easier than the other Sloane’s. And I’m not sure I believed her experience as much.
I’m not a skating expert. In fact, I’m terrible at all kinds of skating. And I guess I can’t judge either character’s ability to learn their sports when I knew going in how impossible it all really was. I just feel like they should have been equally as hard I guess. Also, why was Sloane Devin’s knee injury flaring up in hockey, but not in figure skating? Was her injury necessary? I feel like she had enough going on mentally that the knee thing was just extraneous. And I’m not sure why one sport would be bad for it, and the other not.
I loved the boys! I love that none of Morrill’s characters are perfect, especially the boys. This makes the story more plausible. I’m tired of YA guys being so perfect, and these guys are definitely going through their own problems.
I also liked that it wasn’t all about the sports for the Sloane’s. They were both running away from their problems.  Sloane Emily was running way from her father. And Sloane Devin was running away from the issues she was having with her mother. And I guess what makes the whole story work so well is the idea that everyone needs to escape their lives sometimes. Who wouldn’t want to be another version of them-self for one summer? Too bad I don’t think I’ll ever meet someone with the same first and last name as me.
Between the family drama, the sports, the practicing, the pranks, the fighting, the boys, and the high-stakes pressure at every turn there never really was a dull moment in this book. I read it in one day (and that’s with going on a trip to Boston and spending hours at a museum to boot). It was just as cheesy as I though it would be. However, Morrill writes cheesy well and with enough individuality to make it her own. It’s just what I wanted. I give it a 9/10.

Sunday, January 26, 2014

A Good Week in Books (66)

I had a nice, light book week this week. I’ve developed a new book problem. I’ve been checking out so many library books that I’ve been spending too much time worrying about due dates and not enough time worrying about reviewing dates. I need to balance my reading better, or at least not borrow so many books when I have so many books at home needing to be read too. It’s just so hard to not borrow books when I work in a library…
Any way, I received one new YA for review (Thanks Macmillan). And one of my January pre-orders came in.

The Rule of Three
by Eric Walters
Evertrue by Brodi Ashton
How was your week in books?

Friday, January 24, 2014

The Reece Malcom List by Amy Spalding

Summary (from Goodreads):

Things I know about Reece Malcolm:

1. She graduated from New York University.
2. She lives in or near Los Angeles.
3. Since her first novel was released, she’s been on the New York Times bestseller list every week.
4. She likes strong coffee and bourbon.
5. She’s my mother.

Devan knows very little about Reece Malcolm, until the day her father dies and she’s shipped off to live with the mother she’s never met. All she has is a list of notebook entries that doesn’t add up to much.

L.A. offers a whole new world to Devan—a performing arts school allows her to pursue her passion for show choir and musicals, a new circle of friends helps to draw her out of her shell, and an intriguing boy opens up possibilities for her first love.

But then the Reece Malcolm list gets a surprising new entry. Now that Devan is so close to having it all, can she handle the possibility of losing everything?
As soon as I saw a YA book about a girl into show choir and musicals, I knew I had to read it. It sounded like just what I needed to read my way through a snowstorm. I wasn’t quite expecting it to be as serious as it ended up being.  I was hoping for a little more Glee and a little less Sarah Dessen. However, I ended up really loving all of its serious bits almost as much as all of its humorous ones.
There were a few things that seemed a little questionable to me. Like how is it possible for a bestselling author to have so little information online? And I guess it would make sense if her mom was like a recluse or always afraid of being noticed, or even had some sort of reason at all. But, this was never explained. And I know it’s in no way a major point of the book; but, it did keep bothering me.
I loved all the scenes with Devan trying out for shows and participating in musicals. It was nice reading about a performing arts school; it’s not something I routinely read in YA. I also kind of loved the romance bits. It wasn’t easy to read about Devan going out with her first boyfriend because I was super shipping her with someone else. Though, I found the whole thing really believable.
I super related to Devan, and sometimes I felt really sorry for her. Sometimes I did wish she was a little stronger. I wanted her to tell her mother how was she feeling on day one. And I really wished she saw herself as other people did. I understand why she didn’t. And I get any teenage girl would be self conscious around famous people. I was kind of hoping for a bit more confidence from her. Though, I was happy to see her grow over time. And by the end of the novel, I definitely liked Devan a whole lot more.
Spalding definitely knew how write drama: family drama, boyfriend drama, and friend drama. And I think I loved Devan the most for her ability to handle it all –and still remain as nice as she was. Overall, I really loved this book. It wasn’t what I was expecting. But that’s okay. I give it a 9/10.

Thursday, January 23, 2014

Hollow City by Ransom Riggs

The extraordinary journey that began in Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children continues as Jacob Portman and his newfound friends journey to London the peculiar capital of the world. But in this war-torn city, hideous surprises lurk around every corner. Like its predecessor, this second novel in the Peculiar Children series blends thrilling fantasy with never-before-published vintage photography to create a one-of-a-kind reacting experience.
I was so excited for this book to come out that I put my name on the hold list for it at the library before anyone else did. It was on my desk at work the day it came out! And I forgot I even put a hold on it; I think I’ll end up buying it too. I kind of want to own this whole fantastic series.
When I read book 1, I had no idea there would be a sequel. And while it ended with a serious cliffhanger, it did have a sort of cool ending that I would have accepted as a standalone conclusion. When I heard news of this book (which came out three years after the first), I wasn’t sure how I felt. How could it possibly compare to the mystery and introduction to such a fantastic world? But as I tend to do, I read the sequel because how can I resist a return to some of these unique and wonderful characters?
And I’m so glad I’m too weak to stop reading a series after the first book. What a colossal mistake it would have been to not have continued with this story! The story gets stranger. Now, instead of one time loop, there are many. There’s peculiar animals, more peculiar children, peculiar adults, and more eerie photographs in-between. Then of course there’s missions at sea, kidnappings, soul-eating monsters only Jacob can see, romance, secret passages under crypts, birds that are people, frozen buildings, murdered soldiers, bombings, and first class train rides!
The whole peculiar world is at stake, and the kids are racing with the clock to save a certain headmistress that only has days before turning into a bird permanently. Behind all of this mayhem, is a World War II backdrop and pieces of history. There’s also the guilt Jacob feels for not going back to his father, who now must be looking for him -possibly assuming he’s dead. There’s also the building relationship between Jacob and Emma, which is as weird as it is romantic. And just when things seem to finally be going in the right direction, Riggs throws out another unexpected twist that I had no idea was coming!
The cliffhanger at the end of this one is so much crazier than at the end of the first. And the plot of this book is also a lot crazier. It’s a lot darker too. There’s this overwhelming refugee feeling to the whole thing. While a lot of the kids are much older than they appear to be, they are still children crossing boundaries, attacked over and over again, no longer able to return to their home. There’s this scene where the peculiar children get off a train in London, and blend in with hundreds of other children, boarding trains, leaving London. One of the peculiars bonds with a normal child about to leave because they both had their homes bombed. And it kind of hit me all at once that even though this story is fantastical (with time travel and monsters), it’s also very real.
I think that’s what I look most about this book. Even though the situations and the characters are beyond believable, there is this sense of realness to all of it too. Riggs still writes at a very adult level, and I can see a lot of teens and kids putting these books down before getting to the juicy stuff, because it’s not the easiest language to understand and get into. However, it’s this same language that paints such a real, yet fantastical world and I can’t imagine this story without it.

I can’t come up with anything that I didn’t like about this sequel. In fact, I think I enjoyed it more than the first book. There was definitely more action in this one and more adventure. There was less horror and less time spent in Jacob’s time period. I can’t wait to read book 3. Hopefully it won’t take another 3 years to come out because I don’t how I could wait that long. This gets a 10/10.

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Waiting on Wednesday (79)

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 City of Heavenly Fire by Cassandra Clare (05/27/14):

Description (from Goodreads):
Darkness returns to the Shadowhunter world. As their society falls apart around them, Clary, Jace, Simon and their friends must band together to fight the greatest evil the Nephilim have ever faced: Clary’s own brother. Nothing in the world can defeat him — must they journey to another world to find the chance? Lives will be lost, love sacrificed, and the whole world changed in the sixth and last installment of the Mortal Instruments series!
Why I’m Waiting:
I am so hooked on these books. I’ve been reading Clare since I was a teenager myself. I know there are better stories out there, and better romances, but I love this story! I love this dark world filled with all kinds of supernatural creatures. I love the treaties, the politics, the fighting, and even the cheesy romance. But most of all, I love these characters. They feel like good friends. I have said before that I was upset when Clare kept writing this series. I thought the ending of book 3 would have been a wonderful series end. And then book 4 didn’t impress me. But, book 5 won me over. And I’ve been anxiously waiting for this final book for a long time. Is it May yet?
What are you waiting for this week?

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Perfect Ruin by Lauren DeStefano

Summary (from Goodreads):
On Internment, the floating island in the clouds where 16-year-old Morgan Stockhour lives, getting too close to the edge can lead to madness. Even though Morgan's older brother, Lex, was a Jumper, Morgan vows never to end up like him. She tries her best not to mind that her life is orderly and boring, and if she ever wonders about the ground, and why it is forbidden, she takes solace in best friend Pen and her betrothed, Basil.

Then a murder, the first in a generation, rocks the city. With whispers swirling and fear on the wind, Morgan can no longer stop herself from investigating, especially when she meets Judas. He is the boy being blamed for the murder — betrothed to the victim — but Morgan is convinced of his innocence. Secrets lay at the heart of Internment, but nothing can prepare Morgan for what she will find — or who she will lose.
I love this book cover. DeStefano always gets such pretty covers. I literally cannot stop staring at it. I had to show the cover to multiple coworkers. The design of the mechanical tree continues onto the back. And then when you remove the cover completely, the spine of the book has the same design (but in red). Also the inside lining is of stars in the night sky, and I know I’m gushing about the cover and not talking about the book yet, but seriously, it’s a work of art.
I know the novel, itself has been getting some mixed reviews. But, I absolutely loved it. The world-building was unbelievable. And I loved the main character and her best friend. Morgan was just so innocent and yet also so willing to learn and see things from a different angle. Nobody told her to believe a convicted murderer over her king. And no one explained to her that she needed to lie to the specialist who spoke to her at school. But, she did. And she tries so hard, outwardly, to fit in and accept a world where she can never go on an adventure or explore. And inwardly, she knows she doesn’t belong.
I think what most people had problems with, according to the reviews I’ve read, were the lack of answers. Why is there a floating island? Why is it impossible to jump off, really? Why does the king forbid everyone from even attempting to think about leaving? Is the world below, our world? What century?
I kind of loved the mystery. I found it almost refreshing to read a dystopia where the whole concept of the world isn’t jammed down my throat. I liked only knowing what Morgan knew. The murders, the royal family, and the late night escapes kept the story moving. And I guess it almost read like a fantasy novel. I don’t go into a YA fantasy, questioning why the world is the way it is; I just kind of accept it is not my world.
I like DeStefano’s smooth writing style. Even the simplest descriptions of her world can be taken apart and dissected. A lot of it was even philosophical. I liked all the notions Morgan had about how maybe the world below had its own world that it always looked down on too. I was fascinated by the floating world’s holidays and green way of living. Certainly there were dystopian elements (about betrothed, babies born, and other kinds of frightening society rules). But, the book didn’t seem to be about that as much as other things.
I found Basil (the love interest) to be a little boring. And I found the best friend’s love interest to be a little sketchy. I seriously suspect him of something bad, but I don’t know if I’m right. I’m kind of hoping for an eluded to love triangle to bring something interesting to the romance.
This book had a little bit of everything: romance, mystery, suspense, flying machines, royalty, murder, poison, fires, and propaganda. But what really made it all so special for me was the world, the detailed descriptions of the sky to people who don’t know much else, and the philosophical questions brought forth really had me thinking. I’ve never read anything like this. Some of the writing was downright poetic. I also love the characters (minus a couple of the boys). And there was one insane cliffhanger at the end. I thought DeStefano was going to end it somewhere worse, so in a way, I kind of loved this cliffhanger. I give it a 10/10.

Monday, January 20, 2014

False Sight by Dan Krokos

Summary (from Goodreads):
All Miranda wants is a normal life. She's determined to move past the horrible truth of her origin as a clone so she can enjoy time with her boyfriend, Peter, and the rest of her friends at school. But Miranda quickly learns that there's no such thing as normal - not for a girl who was raised to be a weapon. When one of her teammates turns rogue, it begins a war that puts the world in jeopardy. Now Miranda must follow her instincts - not her heart - in order to save everything she's fought so hard to keep. With the image of a terrible future seared into her mind, what will she have to sacrifice to protect the people she loves?

Dan Krokos's sequel to the tour de force False Memory is a mind-blowing thriller with high-octane action that will leave readers begging for the final book in this bold and powerful trilogy.
To start with, this is not the cover of my copy of the book. Granted, I have an ARC. I guess the finished copy just looks a little different. I wasn’t expecting to like this one as much as the first. The first one had so many twists and turns and surprises. And this one had a sort of cliché, boring beginning. I started to read it about five different times. I almost decided to never read it because I’m so tired of the whole “wanting to be normal” thing. But, I’m so glad I kept reading it because that part is really only like the first couple of chapters.
After the lame beginning, there is plenty of twists and turns. There’s lots of violence, captures, fight scenes, and death. And just when I had a feeling I knew where this all was going, the book became a lot more sci-fi than I ever predicted. There’s other worlds and alien monsters to fight with. There’s dead friends’ memories and underground tunnels.
A lot of things get explained in this book too. The clones, the character’s strengths, the creators, all of it has an explanation. And none of it is what I was predicting. There are so many answers. The book actually read a lot more like a final installment than a book 2. I’m sort of confused as to what’s left to accomplish in book 3, but I guess Krokos just has a never-ending supply of twists in his pocket that he can just pull from as he chooses.
I was never a big fan of Krokos’ romance. He has action and suspense down like a pro, but I just never shipped Miranda with anyone and all of the scenes with Peter and Noah just felt kind of fake and strange. I guess I liked the romance a little bit better in this book because there wasn’t as much of it. And something that happens with Noah certainly made it more interesting. Also, this is a little random, but in more than one fight scene, it was mentioned that Miranda’s hair was severed. I just find this to an odd phrase. For starters, when someone pulls at your hair, it hurts, and Miranda didn’t seem to notice. And second, does this need to happen more than once with the weird wording?
The other weird thing that got to me was the amount of clone fighting. Wouldn’t it be terrifying and strange to have to fight yourself? I kind of feel like the characters of this book just accepted certain things without thinking them too weird. Should I really be more weirded out than the characters were?
All in all though, I loved the new sci-fi elements. I loved the plot twists, the suspense and the action. I enjoyed being in Miranda’s head again (even though I had to share it with someone else…) I tolerated the romance a little more than before. I hated the beginning chapters, but thankfully they were over with real fast. I’m not sure the characters were adequately weirded out by crazy events. But all in all, I was rather impressed. This gets an 8/10 from me.

Sunday, January 19, 2014

Why Have I Not Read These Books Yet? Challenge 2014

My coworker (the teen librarian) and I had a long discussion at the end of the year about all the books we were embarrassed about not having read yet. And we decided to challenge ourselves to read 15 of these books (we both had more we could have added, but thought 15 was a reasonable number).

So, instead of joining a reading challenge for the year, like I normally do, I’m doing my own challenge. My coworker and I each have our own list of books to go through. The books on my list are by authors I haven’t tried yet, or books I own but keep postponing getting to, or books I just think any Youth Services Librarian should have read, or books all YA bloggers should most likely read. It’s a little embarrassing to list all these books I haven’t read, for the world to see. But, here I go! Hopefully, I will get to all of them by the end of the year.
1) The Iron King by Julie Kagawa
2) Please Ignore Vera Dietz by A.S. King
3) Watership Down by Richard Adams
4) All These Things I’ve Done by Gabrielle Zevin
5) The Cry of the Icemark by Stuart Hill
6) Die for Me by Amy Plum
7) Obsidian by Jennifer L. Armentrout
8) The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of her Own Making by Catherynne M. Valente
9) The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian by Sherman Alexie
10) Between Shades of Grey by Ruta Septeys
11) Code Name Verity by Elizabeth Wein
12) The Knife of Never Letting Go by Patrick Ness
13) Anna Dressed in Blood by Kendare Blake
14) Perfect Chemistry by Simone Elkeles
15) The Alchemyst by Michael Scott
What books have you not read yet? Any on my list on your list too?

Saturday, January 18, 2014

A Good Week in Books (65)

I have been so, so good lately and not purchasing many books. I’ve been taking full advantage of working at a library and borrowing a lot of books lately. However, there are some books I need to own –to re-read whenever I choose.
I received one review book this week. I purchased one book online. And received two new titles on Netgalley (another place I’ve been trying to avoid on purpose…I have so many books to read).  I also pre-ordered some books that will come out at the end of the month (but I’ll talk about those when I get them). January is a crazy month for YA.

Being Sloane Jacobs
by Lauren Morrill
Diamonds and Deceit by Leila Rasheed (Thank you, Disney-Hyperion! I still need to read book 1, but now I own both so I’m excited to get started)
From Netgalley:

Lady Thief by AC Gaughen
The Here and Now by Ann Brashares
How was your week in books?

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Waiting on Wednesday (78)

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 Rivals in the City by Y.S. Lee (06/14):

Description (from Goodreads):
Convicted fraudster Henry Thorold is dying in prison, and the Agency asks Mary to take on one last case: to watch for the return of his estranged wife. Mrs Thorold is an accomplished criminal and will surely want to settle scores with Mary’s fiancé, James. With the additional complications of family and conflicting loyalties, the stakes for all involved are higher than ever.
Why I’m Waiting
I’m always surprised at how few people know of these books! They are YA mystery gold. Seriously, fans of mysteries need to buy all of these books and re-read them over and over. Between the mysteries, the secret societies, Victorian London, the romance, and the drama, there is no dull moment. These books would make perfect masterpiece theater episodes. I know they would. I’m not sure how I’m feeling about the cover re-design yet, but I think it might grow on me. I just need this author to write more quickly!
What are you waiting on this week?

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Dark Triumph by Robin LaFevers

Summary (from Goodreads):
When Sybella arrived at the doorstep of St Mortain half mad with grief and despair the convent were only too happy to offer her refuge - but at a price. The sisters of this convent serve Death, and with Sybella naturally skilled in both the arts of death and seduction, she could become one of their most dangerous weapons.

But her assassin's skills are little comfort when the convent returns her to the life that nearly drove her mad. Her father's rage and brutality are terrifying, and her brother's love is equally monstrous. But when Sybella discovers an unexpected ally she discovers that a daughter of Death may find something other than vengeance to live for...

This book was rather intense. It reminded me a lot of Bitterblue by Cashore. Except poor Sybella suffered a lot more bodily harm than Bitterblue did. Sybella lives in a world where women are beaten and raped for the slightest wrong, sometimes even for no wrong at all. And when she finally feels as though she’s found some kind of refuge (with the assassin nuns from book 1), she is sent back into her nightmare of a household.
Granted, she agreed to go back –for the chance to assassinate her father. She goes on a revenge mission. However, she’s not supposed to kill anyone until they have the mark of death on them. And her terrible father never has the mark. In the process of helping with a side mission, Sybella is forced along on a different journey that will reunite her with Ismae and remind her that she deserves more in life than what she been stuck with.
The book reads as part historical fiction/ part fantasy. The fantasy parts are in relation to the supernatural aspects to certain gods and saints. But the rest reads as rather historical. There’s a lot of war and war strategy. And while there is eventually romance for Sybella, hope and love are not things that come into the story for a long time. I definitely think Grave Mercy was more of a romance.
But, like the first book in the series, this one has a lot of murder, death, politics, and brutality. I was both glued to the edge of my seat, unable to stop reading the action and afraid to keep reading, terrified of what new terrors would befall Sybella. I loved her love interest, Beast. Watching Sybella learn to love and be loved was part of what made this book so special. I can’t imagine going though all of the stuff this main character has. And then being able to trust any man at all seems rather impossible.
I loved all the scenes where the main character was in disguise. She was always helping out (finding traitors, killing rapists, avenging farmers, etc.) I find it so cool that someone with so much dark history can learn to fuel her emotions into the offensive so well. This main character kicks serious butt and I’m kind of a sucker for a revenge story. This was the ultimate revenge story. No one deserves revenge more than Sybella’s father.
Robin LaFevers does an excellent job painting the scene. I kept forgetting this was a fantasy because everything seemed so real. The world building was amazing. I have so many questions about the abbess and everyone that serves Death. And I can’t wait to read the next book to get some much needed answers.
I’m not sure how loyal these female assassins will continue to be to their church in the next book. And I can’t wait to read about any small, yet justified rebellions that might arise. There isn’t anything negative to say about this book. It gets a 10/10.

Monday, January 13, 2014

Rogue by Gina Damico

Summary (from Goodreads):
Lex is a teenage Grim Reaper with the power to Damn souls, and it’s getting out of control. She’s a fugitive, on the run from the maniacal new mayor of Croak and the townspeople who want to see her pay the price for her misdeeds. Uncle Mort rounds up the Junior Grims to flee Croak once again, but this time they’re joined by Grotton, the most powerful Grim of all time. Their new mission is clear: Fix his mistakes, or the Afterlife will cease to exist, along with all the souls in it. 

The gang heads for Necropolis, the labyrinth-like capital city of the Grimsphere. There, they discover that the Grimsphere needs a reboot. To do that, the portals to the Afterlife must be destroyed…but even that may not be enough to fix the damage. Things go from bad to worse, and when at last the fate of the Afterlife and all the souls of the Damned hang in the balance, it falls to Lex and her friends to make one final, impossible choice.
Overall, this series has been one crazy, hilarious, dark, and interesting ride. These books are never what I think they will be, and this is kind of what I love most about them. They never cease to surprise me. I wish I liked this last book more than I did, but overall, Damico scores serious uniqueness points for her series.
This book had all the dark humor, the crazy deaths, the weird characters, the strange supernatural twists, and the morbid society of the other books. Add the series’ already previous awesomeness to a book that finally sheds light on some much needed information and you get this conclusion. Finally, I get Driggs’ story! Also, I got so many answers about the whole grim world that I feel like questions were answered for questions I wasn’t smart enough to even ask.
Also, I was shocked and then shocked some more throughout the whole thing. And wow, that was an insane ending. Insane. I can’t really talk too much about this book with spoiling key things. Just know that Lex and her crew are still being hunted. Now, they are on a mission and countdown to save the afterlife. However, saving the afterlife will mean giving up certain amazing things and people! Seriously, Damico is not afraid to kill characters. Be warned. This last book was kind of like a season finale of the Walking Dead. No one is safe!
So, why did I not like it as much as the other books? For starters, it took me a week to read! Normally that is the kiss of death for a book. The first half of the book was just not maintaining my interest. I felt like there was a lot of stuff in the beginning that didn’t necessarily need to take so much time.  (The rest of this paragraph is a spoiler of book 2) And the whole boyfriend is a ghost thing was really not working for me. It just felt stale and cliché, which seriously did not fit with the rest of the awesome story. And Lex with a ghost boyfriend was kind of whiney. She seriously had the whole world on her shoulders and I was tired of the “I’ll fix it” tagline that seemed to define her character in this book.
The second half of the book was way more interesting with way more action. I found the Grim capital to be super fascinating. I found the side characters sort of holding the weight of my interest more than the main ones. Lex just seemed more interesting when she was damning things…I get why she changed. I really do. I just kind of found the redeemed, nicer Lex to also just not be as interesting. And I’m not sure that I believed one conversation could change her as drastically as it did. One conversation with Driggs changed everything, and I’m not so sure this fits with Lex’s character. I’m not saying she can’t be redeemed; I just don’t think it means all of her decisions she makes should reflect this always.
I also wasn’t totally buying the reaction all of the Grim leaders had at the end.  Some of it was a little far-fetched, though I guess this story is far-fetched in general, and in the past I’ve found it rather charming. Now, I just feel a little cheated out of a plausible ending. Also, does suicide have to be so glorified? How many characters have to willingly decide to go for the greater good (and I’m not saying they all do)?
There is so much I just typed, but then deleted because of spoilers and I hope I haven’t already said too much. I don’t want to sound like I hated this book. I did enjoy it’s humorous charm that Damico has maintained from the first two books. And I loved the action and the idea of this world. I just was kind of hoping for a more unique, plausible, ending that fit the characters as I knew them. Less self-sacrificing hero moments and less ghost drama in the beginning really could have made a world of difference for me. It’s always hard rating the last of a series because I feel like I need to rate all of the books. But, I can’t give this more than a 7/10, despite how much I love the other novels.

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Waiting on Wednesday (77)

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 Here and Now by Ann Brashares (4/8/14):

Description (from Goodreads):
Follow the rules. Remember what happened. Never fall in love.

Thrilling, exhilarating, haunting, and heartbreaking, The Here and Now is a twenty-first-century take on an impossible romance. Ann Brashares’ first novel for teens since The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants is about a girl from the future who might be able to save the world . . . if she lets go of the one thing she’s found to hold on to.

Meet seventeen-year-old Prenna James, who immigrated to New York when she was twelve. Except Prenna didn’t come from a different country. She came from a different time—a future where a mosquito-borne illness has mutated into a pandemic, killing millions and leaving the world in ruins.

Prenna and the others who escaped to the present day must follow a strict set of rules: never reveal where they’re from, never interfere with history, and never, ever be intimate with anyone outside their community. Prenna does as she’s told, believing she can help prevent the plague that will one day ravage the earth. But everything changes when she falls for Ethan Jarves.
Why I’m Waiting:
First, Ann Brashares wrote another YA novel???? Yes please! I loved her other books, and I’m not sure if there is even an adult book this woman has written that I don’t own and love. She’s a writer who I hope never stops writing. Beyond that, this plot sounds ridiculous! Viruses, time travel, and love story? This sounds rather epic. And I cannot wait until April to get my hands on this!
What are you waiting on this week?

Monday, January 6, 2014

Liar and Spy by Rebecca Stead

Summary (from Goodreads):
When seventh grader Georges (the S is silent) moves into a Brooklyn apartment building, he meets Safer, a twelve-year-old coffee-drinking loner and self-appointed spy. Georges becomes Safer's first spy recruit. His assignment? Tracking the mysterious Mr. X, who lives in the apartment upstairs. But as Safer becomes more demanding, Georges starts to wonder: how far is too far to go for your only friend?
I don’t know why I’m so surprised that I loved this book. I absolutely adored Stead’s When You Reach Me. And I guess this took me a little bit of time to get into the story. It had a bit of a slow start, or maybe it’s not so easy to get me into a middle grade book about a boy moving to a new apartment. It’s not so long though before the book morphs into so much more than that and I was lost in Stead’s words again.
I came to love Georges (with the silent “s”). He clearly was more than the kid who struggled leaving his old family house for an apartment when his dad got laid off. He’s also the kid who gets picked on at school by the school bully. And he’s the kid who knows how to look at the bigger picture and not focus on the bad and immediate. His mom taught him to look at life as you would look at a painting by his namesake, Georges Seurat. Up close, life is just dots of ugly paint. But far away, the bigger picture is beautiful.
Who can’t love a main character who knows what people are worth being friends with? He lost his best friend when he came back from summer camp, “cool.” And instead of trying to win over the bullying cool people, Georges looks for friends elsewhere. Mean people are not worth winning over.
And my favorite character is his new friend, the spy (aka: Safer). Safer puts up a flyer in his apartment building, in effort to recruit people to his spy club. The flyer doesn’t give a date or time, so Georges’ dad decides to ask when it is (by writing his question on the flyer). And Safer responds with a time. Georges feels guilted into going to the written in time slot for the meeting because he doesn’t want some kid to be waiting on him.
Safer trains Georges how to observe things and how to spy. They have a spy mission of monitoring the goings on of a certain neighbor, who only wears black and always carries a mysterious suitcase. So between the adjusting to a new home, rarely seeing his mom because she’s always working double shifts at the ICU in the hospital, and suffering through some mean kids at school, Georges goes on spy missions.
Safer is so interesting and smart. He knows the apartment building like the back of his hand. And he there were definite moments when I was comparing him to Sherlock because of the extent of his observations about people. Safer and his little sister are home-schooled and spend a lot of time inside, and Georges immediately grows to like them. He also eventually becomes friends with the rest of the picked on (at school).
I’m starting to think this wouldn’t be a Stead novel if there wasn’t some kind of twist. And the twist here was very unexpected for me.  It was emotional and surprising in all kinds of ways. And it made me love Georges even more.
I love that all of the characters in this book were flawed in some serious ways. Georges’ dad seemed to be OCD. One new friend was addicted to candy, and another was afraid of almost everything. Another friend likes to draw all the time (especially in class), but then creates his own kind of language.
What makes this book is the characters. They are all so believable in their flaws. And Georges most grows as a main character when he accepts everyone for who they are. Between the spy missions, the interesting people, and the school drama, this was one great read. It did have a slow beginning. But, the twist more than made up for it. I give it a 9/10.

Saturday, January 4, 2014

Champion by Marie Lu

Summary (from Goodreads):
June and Day have sacrificed so much for the people of the Republic—and each other—and now their country is on the brink of a new existence. June is back in the good graces of the Republic, working within the government’s elite circles as Princeps-Elect, while Day has been assigned a high-level military position.

But neither could have predicted the circumstances that will reunite them: just when a peace treaty is imminent, a plague outbreak causes panic in the Colonies, and war threatens the Republic’s border cities. This new strain of plague is deadlier than ever, and June is the only one who knows the key to her country’s defense. But saving the lives of thousands will mean asking the one she loves to give up everything.

With heart-pounding action and suspense, Marie Lu’s bestselling trilogy draws to a stunning conclusion.
I have been reading this series for a long time. I received an ARC of the first book, months before it’s release and I knew from the beginning pages of book one that it would be an amazing story. And I was right. I had no idea how complex the plot would become or how intensely terrifying the world Lu wrote could be.
I think what I love most about these books is how strategic they are. All dystopias as of late have deal with revolutions. But this one seriously deals with revolution. There’s wars, there’s threat of war, there’s treaties and political propaganda and half the novel reads more like a war story than anything else.
Also, the love story always takes a back step to the war and the action. I like that the love story is there; it’s the classic love story between the character that has wealth and the one that doesn’t. But, the story is more about hope, and about finding some kind of peace than it is about an epic love story.
And this final book in the installment had more action than ever before. Between city bombings, political senate meetings, trips to Antarctica, assassination attempts on June, escaped murderers, high-stake murder trials, people dying of the plague, street shootings, city-wide evacuations, and being blackmailed by the colonies, this book never has a dull moment.
Actually, the dullest moment for me was finally getting an explanation for June’s brother’s death. Seriously, the dullest moment of the book is June getting the scoop from her brother’s killer…in prison. Not very dull, right? And I guess, the love story was a little more at the forefront of this book than it has been in the past because of June’s and Day’s separation and obvious missing of each other. And oh yeah, the whole (SPOILER ALERT from book 2) Day slowly dying thing. But I needed this. I needed something hopeful to hold me through all the tough stuff.
This book was rather bittersweet. The love story was sizzling and it was sad, and I knew that it most likely was not going to end well. I kind of think that all duel perspective dystopias can result in at least one main character death…I literally postponed finishing this book for days, dreading the conclusion to this relationship. But, I feel kind of stupid admitting this because I kind of loved the end. It was sad, bittersweet, and emotional. But, it also was kind of perfect. I liked how certain characters were able to grow up.
I loved getting to know Day’s brother. I also loved watching June realize who she was as a person. She had to figure out how political she wanted her life to be. How much did she want power? And how much did she miss being a soldier? Granted, the story would be nowhere near as good if June didn’t have the political knowledge she did in her powerful role. However, all the scenes with the new elector were kind of awful. There’s nothing good about watching a character you love settle for someone who’s not the one, and I don’t know what I would have done if June did any more settling.
It was also fascinating to see how many people supported the new republic. No one wanted to be taken over by the colonies. And Day still had just as much magnetism, just as many followers, and possibly even more bravery.
I loved watching the characters grow up over time. I loved watching YA characters not put their relationship above all else. Both June and Day sacrificed everything for what they believed was right (even their love). I loved the non-stop action. I loved the war story and the survival story. I loved how political it all was and how much strategy was involved in the story. I loved the world Lu created (the capitalist colonies, the digital Antarctica, the militaristic republic), and never once did I feel that any of this was impossible. Because at the heart of it all is the war between the haves and the have-nots, and this is a war that can be seen everywhere. This book (and this series) gets a 10/10 from me. I can’t even think of anything negative to say about it.

Thursday, January 2, 2014

The Offering by Kimberly Derting -Spotlight BLOG TOUR

I am so excited to be a part of this tour today! Thank you I Am A Reader, Not a Writer for hosting this tour. I have been a Kimberly Derting fan since The Body Finder first came out, and I’m so happy to be celebrating her new book’s release.

kimberly derting

Author Kimberly Derting Kimberly Derting is the author of the BODY FINDER series, THE PLEDGE trilogy, and THE TAKING (coming April 2014 from HarperTeen). She lives in the Seattle area, with her husband and three children, who often find the outrageous things they say either in the pages of her books or posted on Twitter
or Facebook for the entire world to see.  

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Praise for The Offering

"This was a truly epic ending to the series." --Crystal Perkins, Goodreads Review

"The final book in Kimberly Derting’s Pledge trilogy is a thrilling conclusion. I was immediately swept up into it and powered right through. It was pretty much what I wanted with a few surprises along the way." --Krys at Bibliopunkk Reads

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Pledge Trilogy
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Teaser Excerpt:

And then Eden stopped pacing and turned to face me. Her expression was hard to read, but her mood wasn’t. “I don’t want to be a guard any longer,” she stated with impervious resolve, and I remembered her the way I’d first seen her when she was part of Xander’s underground resistance. When all I could think was that this woman, with her muscular arms and her piercing black eyes, was a weapon in her own right. “I’m done with all that nonsense. All I want is to get Xander back.”
I didn’t know if I could give her that, because I didn’t know if Xander was alive or not. She surely knew as much too.
I nodded, agreeing to every unspoken term forging between us. “Good,” I told her, my blood hot and my skin starting to glow beneath the heat of our new alliance. “Because I don’t want you to be my guard. I want a partner. And if you help me get to Astonia, I’ll do whatever I can to help you get revenge.”

Tour Giveaway!

Win a $25 Amazon Gift Card or Paypal Cash. Ends 1/21/14.

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Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Waiting on Wednesday (76)

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 Murder Complex by Lindsay Cummings (6/10/14):

Description (from Goodreads):
An action-packed, blood-soaked, futuristic debut thriller set in a world where the murder rate is higher than the birthrate. For fans of Moira Young’s Dust Lands series, La Femme Nikita, and the movie Hanna.

Meadow Woodson, a fifteen-year-old girl who has been trained by her father to fight, to kill, and to survive in any situation, lives with her family on a houseboat in Florida. The state is controlled by The Murder Complex, an organization that tracks the population with precision.

The plot starts to thicken when Meadow meets Zephyr James, who is—although he doesn’t know it—one of the MC’s programmed assassins. Is their meeting a coincidence? Destiny? Or part of a terrifying strategy? And will Zephyr keep Meadow from discovering the haunting truth about her family?

Action-packed, blood-soaked, and chilling, this is a dark and compelling debut novel by Lindsay Cummings.
Why I’m Waiting:
This intense plot seems right up my alley! For fans of Moira Young? Yes please! This sounds like such a dark, violent book with a crazy, suspenseful plot and I can’t wait to get my hands on it. I’m not the biggest fan of the cover, but I guess you can’t win them all.
What are you waiting on this week?