Saturday, April 30, 2016

A Good Week in Books (134)

It’s been both a fantastic book week and an annoying one for me. I got some new books for review (Thank you, Macmillan and Hyperion!)
Two of my most anticipated books of 2016 came out this week (on the same day!), and I had definitely pre-ordered them both some time ago. However, only one was shipped to me. Amazon asked me a few days after the pub date if I wanted to cancel my order for the other one, which had me super confused. Later, I learned on Twitter that Amazon sold out! First off, go Maggie Stiefvater! But sadly, that meant I’d have to wait a while for my precious book. They won’t even give an estimated date for when it will ship out.
I decided to cancel my order and take my chances at my local Barnes and Noble. I picked up their last copy this morning! Again, go Maggie. It’s nuts to sell out of your book on Amazon (and also bookstores). And I guess it answered my question for which anticipated book I’d read first. I understand that this kind of thing happens. I guess I just wish Amazon explained what happened better (aka: at all). I had to get details from Twitter…
Any way, here are the lovelies (and I really have no reason to complain right now):

The Rose and the Dagger
by Renee Ahdieh (this is the one I already started, and it’s amazing!!)
The Raven King by Maggie Stiefvater (so glad there was one copy left!)
Holding Smoke by Elle Cosimano
The Secrets we Keep by Trisha Leaver
Love Bomb by Jenny McLachlan

How was your week in books? Anyone else have similar problems?

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Waiting on Wednesday (185)

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 My Unscripted Life by Lauren Morrill (10/11/16):

Description on Amazon (the Goodreads one was lacking words):
Perfect for fans of Jennifer L. Smith and Huntley Fitzpatrick, you'll love this funny and sweet contemporary romance about a Southern girl ready for a ho-hum summer until she meets the boy of her dreams who happens to be an international pop star.

Sometimes love stories go off script.

Another sultry Georgia summer is about to get a lot hotter. Dee Wilkie is still licking her wounds after getting rejected by the precollege fine arts program of her dreams. But if she’d gone away, she wouldn’t have been around to say yes to an unbelievable opportunity: working on the set of a movie filming in her small Southern town that just happens to be starring Milo Ritter, the famous pop star Dee (along with the rest of the world) has had a crush since eighth grade.

It’s not like Dee will be sharing any screen time with Milo—she’s just a lowly PA. And Milo is so disappointingly rude that Dee is eager to stay far away from him. Except after a few chance meetings, she begins to wonder if just maybe there’s a reason for his offensive attitude, and if there’s more to Milo than his good looks and above-it-all Hollywood pedigree. Can a relationship with a guy like Milo ever work out for a girl like Dee? Never say never. . . .
Why I’m Waiting:
So, I know the premise of this sounds kind of cheesy. I sometimes love cheesy though. And I kind of adore the whole “falling in love with a famous person” story arc. Not to mention that I love this author. She knows how to do the cheesy YA romantic comedy well. I’m really looking forward to this one. I wish it was coming out sooner because it would be the perfect beach read. Oh well
What are you waiting on this week?

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Rebel of the Sands by Alwyn Hamilton

Summary from Goodreads:
She’s more gunpowder than girl—and the fate of the desert lies in her hands.

Mortals rule the desert nation of Miraji, but mystical beasts still roam the wild and barren wastes, and rumor has it that somewhere, djinni still practice their magic. But there's nothing mystical or magical about Dustwalk, the dead-end town that Amani can't wait to escape from.

Destined to wind up "wed or dead," Amani’s counting on her sharpshooting skills to get her out of Dustwalk. When she meets Jin, a mysterious and devastatingly handsome foreigner, in a shooting contest, she figures he’s the perfect escape route. But in all her years spent dreaming of leaving home, she never imagined she'd gallop away on a mythical horse, fleeing the murderous Sultan's army, with a fugitive who's wanted for treason. And she'd never have predicted she'd fall in love with him...or that he'd help her unlock the powerful truth of who she really is.
I was looking for a good fantasy that would keep me hooked from page one. And more importantly, I was looking for something that wasn’t exactly like every other YA fantasy that has come before. I found it. This book was a breath of fresh air after staying inside all day. Seriously, this was just what I needed.
What this book excelled in more than most was it’s setting, it’s world. I felt like I was in the desert with these characters. I felt the heat, I feared the supernatural, I was terrified of the desperate people and their guns, I was even more terrified for all the women ever, and I was so invested in this world. This is what I want to feel when reading any new fantasy series. And sadly, it doesn’t happen that often any more. Thank you, book, for bringing back this feeling.
The characters were fun too. How could I not love the main character, who dresses as a boy, escapes to a shooting match (where she can outshoot all the boys), and attempts to own her freedom from a sexist, terrifying world? Her home life is frightening and her prospects had me cringing in disgust. I loved that she was never willing to give up, to settle for anything but what she wanted, no matter how easy it would be.
Then, when the politics of things really open up, the book did begin to feel like a lot of other fantasy and or dystopian stories I’ve read before (aka: the big twists were not so twisty). However, by this point, I was so lost in this unique world  and fun characters, that some of the more familiar plot points didn’t bother me. And then of course, I just had to know what would happen, what the amazing main character would decide to do, and well, I can’t say much more with out spoiling. But, it was good.
All in all, I was really impressed with this one. There were definitely some links that could be made between this setting and one in a real place in the middleeast, and this made things more interesting for me. Of course, then there were also monsters and magic and secret weapons. The setting was wonderful. The characters were fun. The plot was a tad predictable; however, everything else made up for this. I give it a 9/10.

Sunday, April 24, 2016

A Good Week in Books (133)

Well, I had an awesome book week. I bought some books for myself at a wicked discount at a giant, Scholastic Warehouse sale. Everything was at least 50% the list price. I also received some new pretties for review (Thank you, Macmillan and Hachette!)
The books:

Demigods and Magicians
by Rick Riordan
The End of Fun by Sean McGinty
Love, Lies, and Spies by Cindy Anstey
No Love Allowed by Kate Evangelista
Saving Montgomery Sole by Mariko tamaki
Red Queen by Victoria Aveyard
by Raina Telgemeier
Sisters by Raina Telgemeier
Harry Potter Magical Creatures Coloring Book
How was your book week?
Also, here’s a picture from my other Harry Potter coloring book:

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Waiting on Wednesday (184)

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 Local Girl Swept Away by Ellen Wittlinger (6/15/16):

Description from Goodreads:
Stark, uncompromising, seductive, beautiful - this describes the tourist town of Cape Cod, where a young woman's body remains to be found. Three friends struggle to come to terms with their missing leader and with the secrets each endeavor to hide.

Set in the Cape Cod village of Provincetown, Massachusetts, this is the story about 17-year-old Jackie's struggle to overcome her grief and confusion after her best friend is carried out to sea during a storm. Lorna had been the dynamic leader of a tight-knit group of four friends - Jackie, Lucas and Finn - and her disappearance changes the dynamics between the surviving three. Jackie is still hiding her feelings for Finn, who had been Lorna's boyfriend, and Lucas has withdrawn to the point where Jackie wonders if he is keeping a secret even larger than her own. Meanwhile the future looms, and Jackie fears leaving the only life she has known.
Why I’m Waiting:
This sounds like a good story! I already want to know what happened the girl who died. Also, I love this author. I know the writing in this one will be spot-on. And I love that it takes place in Cape Cod, where I live! I’m not in Provincetown, but I’ve been there many times and I love reading a YA book that takes place somewhere I know and love.
What are you waiting on this week?

Monday, April 18, 2016

Wonder by R.J. Palacio and read by Diana Steele, Nick Podehl, and Kate Rudd

Summary from Goodreads:
You can't blend in when you were born to stand out.

My name is August. I won't describe what I look like. Whatever you're thinking, it's probably worse.

August Pullman wants to be an ordinary ten-year-old. He does ordinary things. He eats ice cream. He plays on his Xbox. He feels ordinary - inside.

But Auggie is far from ordinary. Ordinary kids don't make other ordinary kids run away screaming in playgrounds. Ordinary kids don't get stared at wherever they go.

Born with a terrible facial abnormality, Auggie has been home-schooled by his parents his whole life, in an attempt to protect him from the cruelty of the outside world. Now, for the first time, he's being sent to a real school - and he's dreading it. All he wants is to be accepted - but can he convince his new classmates that he's just like them, underneath it all?

Narrated by Auggie and the people around him whose lives he touches forever, Wonder is a funny, frank, astonishingly moving debut to read in one sitting, pass on to others, and remember long after the final page.
This is one of those books that I’ve pretended to have read for years. I feel like there are some books you just can’t get away with not reading, while working as a Youth Services librarian. This is one of them. It’s not that I didn’t want to read it. It’s just that I’m a “right moment” kind of reader. I can’t always read a book I know will put me to tears. I need to save it for the right moment.
I listened to the audio book. It took me a while to accept the narrator of Auggie. At first she kind of sounded like one of the aunts from the Simpsons. But then the voice grew on me. Auggie grew on me. I came to love his character a lot more than I was expecting to. And I guess in that respect, I’m a lot like the side characters of this novel who also all come to love Auggie more than they expected to.
This is truly, at it’s core, a powerful story. Did I cry? Was I right to leave this for the right moment? Definitely. The problem with doing the audio version, was I’d sometimes show up to work with tears in my eyes. They weren’t even always sad tears. Sometimes they were tears of anger. And sometimes tears of joy. This book had such a way with playing with all of my emotions.
I’ve heard people say they wished the book was all in Auggie’s perspective. At first, I felt this way too. But, the longer I was in the heads of the other characters, the more I learned. I loved getting such different perspectives. I love seeing how different people learned to love and accept Auggie for who he was, instead of just what he looked like.
I think my favorite character of all was Auggie’s sister, Via. I felt so much empathy, love, and admiration for all that she went through. And again, I think that was point of this book: to feel empathy and to understand that not everyone has the same life, experiences, and understandings that I do. Via was just so kind and strong and independent. She was used to doing everything on her own, so her parents could focus more on her brother. Everything she went through with her friends who abandoned her and wanting to finally have a life separate from all that she was, resonated so strongly with me. I feel like I’ve been her.
Kids are so cruel. I felt for Auggie through all of it. Everything from the plague, the Halloween problem, the lunchroom, the reactions from strangers, and even the reactions form parents had me gasping in pain for him. I was literally at the edge of seat in terror at one particular moment during the camping trip.  The way he stuck through it, kept going, and made friends was really just inspiring. I loved his English teacher and the precepts –particularly the first one that says: “When given the choice between being right or being kind, choose kind.”
I loved the play. I loved his parents and watching them figure out what was best for everyone. I loved the principal. And I loved Auggie’s friends. There are just so many good things in this book. I could have dealt with not having the whole sad story of the dog, but that’s okay. The things anyone can take away from this book are countless. What a great book to teach acceptance, understanding, and love. I give this a 10/10. I’m so glad I finally read it.

Sunday, April 17, 2016

Gotham Academy Volume 2: Calamity by Becky Cloonan, Brenden Fletcher, and illustrated by Karl kerschl

Summary from Goodreads:
Olive has received information that her mother might be alive—and now, she and her friends must investigate! Of course werewolves, ghosts, and new student Damian Wayne won’t make it easy!
The beginning of this one is told as an Edgar Allen Poe-type poem written by my favorite character: Maps. It highlights her meeting Bruce Wayne’s son and the two of them dealing with some dark, paranormal stuff. Is it possible that I forgot how amazing the first graphic novel was? Also, how can anything else ever compare with this?
I love that this story arc has everything: darkness, paranormal, superheroes, evil villains, teenage soap operas, private school things, and this underlying, sarcastic humor that is just so amazing. Seriously, It’s kind of like someone asked me what I thought all the best things were to put in a YA graphic novel/comic and then they made Gotham Academy. Thanks for listening.
After the poem, we learn that Olive’s other new friend is part bat/part human. Also, there’s some serious drama going on with her and her ex. Then add in the super juicy family mystery. Is her mother really dead? There’s more to come with Damian Wayne. There’s fires, secret passages, escapes, hidden identities, more arkham creepiness, “ghosts,” and new friends. The book has everything you could possibly want from it.
I also love the artwork. It’s very anime looking. It’s teen/anime Gotham and frankly, I just can’t get enough of it. The only down side is it takes forever for each installment to come out, and I have a feeling I’ll have a super long wait for volume 3. I give this one a 9/10.

Thursday, April 14, 2016

The Girl From Everywhere by Heidi Heilig

Summary from Goodreads:
Nix has spent her entire life aboard her father’s ship, sailing across the centuries, across the world, across myth and imagination.

As long as her father has a map for it, he can sail to any time, any place, real or imagined: nineteenth-century China, the land from One Thousand and One Nights, a mythic version of Africa. Along the way they have found crewmates and friends, and even a disarming thief who could come to mean much more to Nix.

But the end to it all looms closer every day.

Her father is obsessed with obtaining the one map, 1868 Honolulu, that could take him back to his lost love, Nix’s mother. Even though getting it—and going there—could erase Nix’s very existence.

For the first time, Nix is entering unknown waters.

She could find herself, find her family, find her own fantastical ability, her own epic love.

Or she could disappear.
This was such a great story. What an unexpected treasure. I read little to nothing about this book prior to my reading of it. I knew I had to read it though after attending a “We Need Diverse Books” panel at a conference not too long ago, and hearing the author talk about it. She made it sound so magical. And it was magical.
It did take me over a week to read, but I think that is mainly due to the fact that I have been doing some serious Netflix binging lately. I was kind of obsessed with Daredevil for a time. But any way, this was a great fantasy escape for all the times I needed something a little less violent then the tv I was watching.
Nix’s father had the ability to go into book worlds! He literally used illustrated maps to go all over the world, and all over other worlds. Oh, how I wish I had that power. I would stare at the Marauders Map for days if it meant actually traveling to Hogwarts. Heilig brought in a few literary references, though I kept hoping for more than I got. Who wouldn’t?
Nix’s father instead focused more on history, on one time in particular, on Nix’s mother’s time. I loved the family drama and mystery. And I also loved the ship family. Nix had a family on her magical world jumping boat. I wasn’t the biggest fan of her dad, but I don’t think I was supposed to be. I know I was supposed to be somewhat won over by him in the end, which genuinely surprised me, but I still just don’t like him much.
I loved the slow-building romance. I loved the thieving, the dancing, the escapes around paradise, and the slightest of love triangles. Nix was a fun main character. I wanted her to get what she needed so badly. I wanted her to take on her father…
The history was interesting. I don’t know a lot about the history of Hawaii, so it was cool to learn a little about a different place. A lot was kind of brushed over that I wish was addressed a little bit more –things about hairy styles, dialect, and behaviors.
This was not a book big on description or world-building. The story was really good, but I wanted a little more of these things that would have made it excellent. It also had a tendency to jump around a little. I wasn’t always sure where the scenes were taking place, and I think a bit more description of the setting would have helped leaps and bounds.
I have never read another story where characters can jump from real worlds to fictional ones, as well as time travel. I loved the magic of it. I loved the characters. I wanted a little more description and world-building. The suspense was great and so was the romance. I give it an 8/10.

Wednesday, April 13, 2016

Waiting on Wednesday (183)

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 Replica by Lauren Oliver (10/4/16):

Description on Goodreads:
Gemma has been in and out of hospitals since she was born. 'A sickly child', her lonely life to date has revolved around her home, school and one best friend, Alice. But when she discovers her father's connection to the top secret Haven research facility, currently hitting the headlines and under siege by religious fanatics, Gemma decides to leave the sanctuary she's always known to find the institute and determine what is going on there and why her father's name seems inextricably linked to it.

Amidst the frenzy outside the institute's walls, Lyra - or number 24 as she is known as at Haven - and a fellow experimental subject known only as 72, manage to escape. Encountering a world they never knew existed outside the walls of their secluded upbringing , they meet Gemma and, as they try to understand Haven's purpose together, they uncover some earth-shattering secrets that will change the lives of both girls forever...

REPLICA envisions a world much like our own in which a small set of human clones are being used by the military to test the effects of neurotoxicity in the search for a potential universal vaccine.
Why I’m Waiting:
This sounds awesome! Also, it kind of seems like two books. I get two new books by Lauren Oliver? Sign me up now please. I’m a big Lauren Oliver fan and it’s been a while she she’s written a good YA dispense. I’m so beyond ready for this one. Also, each of the main characters has a name of an all time favorite YA character of mine. So, so cool and maybe intentional.
What are you waiting on this week?

Monday, April 11, 2016

A Good Week in Books (132)

I had a nice, light book week. Now that I finished my superhero Netflix binge, I delved right back into book world. I finished a book and started two new ones. I also received one for review (Thank you, Macmillan) and I got another per-order in (Thank you, Me).

The books:
Book Scavenger by Jennifer Chambliss Bertman
The Glittering Court by Richelle Mead
How was your week in books?

Thursday, April 7, 2016

The End by Lemony Snicket and read by Tim Curry

Summary from Goodreads:

Dear Reader,

You are presumably looking at the back of this book, or the end of THE END. The end of THE END is the best place to begin THE END, because if you read THE END from the beginning of the beginning of THE END to the end of the end of THE END, you will arrive at the end of the end of your rope.

This book is the last in A Series of Unfortunate Events, and even if you braved the previous twelve volumes, you probably can't stand such unpleasantries as a fearsome storm, a suspicious beverage, a herd of wild sheep, an enormous bird cage, and a truly haunting secret about the Baudelaire parents.

It has been my solemn occupation to complete the history of the Baudelaire orphans, and at last I am finished. You likely have some other occupation, so if I were you I would drop this book at once, so THE END does not finish you.

With all due respect,

Lemony Snicket

I cannot believe I am done with this series.  I had a sad car ride this morning when I realized I had no more installments in the Series of Unfortunate Events. I’ve had so much fun listening to these amazing audio books. My car rides will never be the same.
I also need to comment on how out of this world, amazing Tim Curry is as a narrator. I cannot imagine the narrator of Lemony Snicket with any other voice. Curry did so many voices too. I wish he’d narrate all the best Children’s/Middle grade books. Can they all be re-done with him as narrator?
It’s a little hard to review this one because I feel like I’m still processing all the things that happened. So many things just happened. I learned a lot in this installment. I finally got to learn a little bit about the orphan’s parents. I also learned a little more about Olaf and his sad past. More was learned about Kit Snicket, and of course more was learned about Lemony Snicket, himself.
This one also had the feel of the first seven or so books, where the children kept being taken in by different people. This time, they are taken in by the islanders (mostly people who had been ship-wrecked). And in that regard, this really did feel like a full-circle type of ending. There were memories and lesson learned from previous books.
Again, this one was chock-ful of wonderful literary references, like Robinson Crusoe and the story of Adam and Eve. There’s a reunion with a certain snake. There’s also the birth of Kit Snicket’s baby. There’s the understanding of 2 secret love stories. This book wasn’t quite as funny as the other ones. It still had it’s well-loved absurd humor. But, it was a little darker. There was talk of mutiny and certainly plenty of suspense. There was also a lot of sadness. There was more death. There was an island full of people who constantly gave in to peer pressure (over logic). And there were a lot realizations for the kids.  
And so many of the things the narrator says are words I want to freeze, replay, and then write down to always take with me. Words like this:
“Some believe that everyone is born with a moral compass already inside them, like an appendix, or a fear of worms. Others believe that a moral compass develops over time, as a person learns about the decisions of others by observing the world and reading books. In any case, a moral compass appears to be a delicate device, and as people grow older and venture out into the world it often becomes more and more difficult to figure out which direction one's moral compass is pointing, so it is harder and harder to figure out the proper thing to do.”
“There is a kind of crying I hope you have not experienced, and it is not just crying about something terrible that has happened, but a crying for all of the terrible things that have happened, not just to you but to everyone you know and to everyone you don’t know and even the people you don’t want to know, a crying that cannot be diluted by a brave deed or a kind word, but only by someone holding you as your shoulders shake and your tears run down your face.”
And this is the last quote, I promise.
“It is almost as if happiness is an acquired taste, like coconut cordial or ceviche, to which you can eventually become accustomed, but despair is something surprising each time you encounter it.”
Is there still a lot I don’t know? Yes. I would have liked to have learned a little more about VFD, and the fires, and Lemony. But, I actually got a lot more than I was expecting. And I love that the children took their time reading the answers, in their hidden library (underneath a hybrid apple tree). I feel like I can say so much more about everything, but I’m really just gushing at this point.
I love these books. I loved this last book. I give it a 10/10. And I hope I can find something soon to occupy my car rides.

Wednesday, April 6, 2016

Waiting On Wednesday (182)

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 Strange the Dreamer by Laini Taylor (9/27/16):

Description on Goodreads:
Strange the Dreamer is the story of:

the aftermath of a war between gods and men
a mysterious city stripped of its name
a mythic hero with blood on his hands
a young librarian with a singular dream
a girl every bit as perilous as she is imperiled
alchemy and blood candy, nightmares and godspawn, moths and monsters, friendship and treachery, love and carnage.

Welcome to Weep.
Why I’m Waiting:

Laini Taylor is a YA genius. I absolutely love her books. I was ecstatic to hear she was coming out with more. I fee like way too much time has passed since Dreams of Gods and Monsters. Also, this sounds wonderfully dark and twisty. I may have already given in and read the prologue (courtesy of this article), and let me tell you, it sounds epic. September certainly cannot come fast enough.
What are you waiting on this week?

Monday, April 4, 2016

A Good Week in Books (131)

I had a rather nice week. I received 4 books for review. Thank you, Macmillan! I had a slow reading week. This isn’t because I don’t like what I’m reading, so much as I binged Daredevil and my mind has been on superheroes. I have a feeling though that I will now be getting back into my book zone. These books certainly look like they can help get me there.
The lovely books:

by Christy Lenzi
Flawed by Cecilia Ahern
The Winner’s Kiss by Marie Rutkoski
These Vicious Masks by Tarun Shanker and Kelly Zekas
How was your week in books?