Thursday, November 9, 2017

Pashmina by Nidhi Chanani



Summary from Goodreads:
Priyanka Das has so many unanswered questions: Why did her mother abandon her home in India years ago? What was it like there? And most importantly, who is her father, and why did her mom leave him behind? But Pri's mom avoids these questions--the topic of India is permanently closed.

For Pri, her mother's homeland can only exist in her imagination. That is, until she find a mysterious pashmina tucked away in a forgotten suitcase. When she wraps herself in it, she is transported to a place more vivid and colorful than any guidebook or Bollywood film. But is this the real India? And what is that shadow lurking in the background? To learn the truth, Pri must travel farther than she's ever dared and find the family she never knew.

In this heartwarming graphic novel debut, Nidhi Chanani weaves a tale about the hardship and self-discovery that is born from juggling two cultures and two worlds.
Review:
I ended up enjoying this even more than I was anticipating. I read it in one sitting (maybe a couple of hours). I absolutely adored the art in here. It reminded me a bit of Raina Telgemeier mixed with Jennifer L Holm. The art is bold and colorful, but also a little cute –with nods to some graphic novels/manga that has come before. I loved seeing the Sailor Moon poster in Pri’s room.
I’m loving these middlge grade/YA graphic novels about girls with different backgrounds and stories. This was a different perspective than I’m used to reading from and I loved all the things that made this different. There’s this sort of magical pashmina that shows Pri a beautiful, enticing side to India. It was fun learning about Shakti and the elements to this part of the culture.
I also loved getting to see the real India (away from the magical pashmina), and all the good that Pri’s family was doing there. And while there are fun and different traits to this fantastical story that I haven’t seen before, there is also the familiar: a girl wanting to know where she came from. Why hasn’t Pri’s mother talked to her about her past at all?
This was a fun coming of age story. I loved learning about India. I also loved Pri, and getting to learn with her, the stories of her family. This was a great graphic novel. I hope to see more from this author/artist in the future. I give it a 9/10.

Wednesday, November 8, 2017

Waiting on Wednesday (245)


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: 2 Fuzzy, 2 Furious by Shannon Hale and Dean Hale  (3/6/2018):


Description on Goodreads:
Squirrel Girl is BACK in an all-new adventure and things are about to get . . . hairy. Thanks to Squirrel Girl, Ana Sofia, and the Squirrel Scouts, the crime rate in New Jersey is at an all time low. It makes for safer streets but also bored-er squirrels. That's why it's super exciting when Doreen's school announces a new mall is being built right next to their town. Mmmm . . . Doreen can smell the soft pretzels now. The corporation building mall has also announced that there will be a competition to choose the mall's mascot. Because malls need mascots? Anyway, Doreen's school will be voting for a cat and the neighboring school will be voting for a dog. As the relationship starts to unravel between the two towns, Squirrel Girl and her friends suspect something more sinister is at work. With the help of old friends like Ana Sofia, Tippy Toe, and The Mighty Thor as well as some surprising new ones, Squirrel Girl will squash a villainous plot and save everyone.The unbeatable Squirrel Girl is ready for more nuts AND more butts! Are you?
Why I’m Waiting:
I’m a huge Squirrel Girl fan. I love the comics. I love the comedic concept. And I loved the first book in this series. The world is so ready for more Squirrel Girl. I can’t wait to see where the authors take my favorite heroine next.
What are you waiting on this week?

Tuesday, November 7, 2017

The Silver Mask by Holly Black and Cassandra Clare


Summary from Goodreads:
A generation ago, Constantine Madden came close to achieving what no magician had ever achieved: the ability to bring back the dead. He didn't succeed . . . but he did find a way to keep himself alive, inside a young child named Callum Hunt. Now Call is one of the most feared and reviled students in the history of the Magisterium, thought to be responsible for a devastating death and an ever-present threat of war. As a result, Call has been imprisoned and interrogated. Everyone wants to know what Constantine was up to-and how he lives on. But Call has no idea. It is only when he's broken out of prison that the full potential of Constantine's plan is suddenly in his hands . . . and he must decide what to do with his power. In this spellbinding fourth book of Magisterium, bestselling authors Holly Black and Cassandra Clare take us beyond the realm of the living and into the dangers of the dead.
Review:
These books are like popcorn. I can’t stop until I’ve gone through it all. Seriously, I read this one in less than a day. I wish more people read these books. I feel like they had some weird, negative press for book 1. And then no one kept reading them. I seriously love these middle grade stories. They are dark, twisted, full of magic and excellent characters, and suspense. These are books I’d put into the hands of reluctant readers, bored readers, and fantasy readers.
In this fourth installment, stuff is as dark and suspenseful as they can possibly get. Call is still reeling from the death of a loved one in the previous book. He’s also imprisoned and kind of left to rot, without knowing the shape of the rest of his friends. That is until he’s broken out and taken to the land of the enemy. It’s there, that he’s actually kind of embraced, educated, and taught to understand his crazy powers. He may even be taught how to bring back the dead.
There is so much I’d love to get into, but it would involve insane spoilers. Just know that not everything is as it seems in this book. Call has a lot of growing up to do. There’s fighting, sacrificing, magic, betrayals, power, death, and even a little bit of love. It was kind of hard reading this one because of the lack of a certain loved character. The dynamics are all off balance, kind of.
This one ended with another twist that had me surprised again. These books keep surprising me. I can’t wait to see what happens next. This wasn’t my favorite volume of the series. There did appear to be a couple of plot holes, and some super cheesy stuff with the bad guys that just seemed too over the top to me. But, otherwise, this was pure, buttery delicious popcorn. And I can’t wait to keep reading. This gets an 8/10.

Monday, November 6, 2017

Before the Devil Breaks You by Libba Bray



Summary from Goodreads:
New York City.
1927.
Lights are bright.
Jazz is king.
Parties are wild.
And the dead are coming...


After battling a supernatural sleeping sickness that nearly claimed two of their own, the Diviners have had enough of lies. They're more determined than ever to uncover the mystery behind their extraordinary powers, even as they face off against an all-new terror. Out on Ward's Island, far from the city's bustle, sits a mental hospital haunted by the lost souls of people long forgotten--ghosts who have unusual and dangerous ties to the man in the stovepipe hat, also known as the King of Crows.

With terrible accounts of murder and possession flooding in from all over, and New York City on the verge of panic, the Diviners must band together and brave the sinister ghosts invading the asylum, a fight that will bring them face-to-face with the King of Crows. But as the explosive secrets of the past come to light, loyalties and friendships will be tested, love will hang in the balance, and the Diviners will question all that they've ever known. All the while, malevolent forces gather from every corner in a battle for the very soul of a nation--a fight that could claim the Diviners themselves.
Review:
I love Libba Bray. I often refer to her as my favorite author. She’s an unbelievably talented writer. The trouble with these books is that they take her a very long time to write. They could take years. And this one ended depressingly badly in a cliffhanger to end all cliffhangers. How long must I wait to find out what happens next? 1 year? 2? 3? Maybe hold off on reading this one if you can, until the next installment. The ending is brutal.
The story was magnificent. The setting, the characters, the supernatural world this author weaves into historic context is just beyond anything I’ve come to expect in any author. I want to live in her words. I want to go to this NYC, where booze is illegal and ghosts are out for revenge. I want to dance with Evie, fight for my dreams like Theta, stand up for the working man with Mabel, get into trouble with Sam, write poetry with Memphis, play music with Henry, and learn science with Ling. I don’t just love these characters; I wish I could physically hang out with them. I feel like I know them.
Somehow, Bray is able to throw in everything to the mix. I was actually terrified in the scenes that took place in the asylum. There is nothing as creepy as evil ghosts who can control the unsuspecting bystander and make them do monstrous/murderous things.  I cried my eyes out for a character who was betrayed in the worst of ways. I was practically pacing to see what ramifications would occur for a possible explosion. I fell in love with Sam all over again. I shipped him and Evie so hard in this book, though I think like Evie, I used to be a little divided between him and Jericho.  And I felt so terrified for Jericho and everything he endured just to survive. The mystery with Sam’s mom was so good.
Stuff finally resolves with Memphis’ creepy neighbor. A lot is learned about Project Buffalo. There is a lot of sleuthing, plotting, betraying, escaping, and mayhem. Also, this book is political and relevant to today’s heightened arguments about immigration and racism.  This book is also loaded with all kinds of diverse romance. There’s a lesbian couple, a gay couple, and an interracial couple. And it’s so interesting and fun to read about this in the context of 1920’s NYC.
It took me a long time to read this book. It is a monster at 546 pages. I also had a killer sinus infection that limited my reading times. However, I’m so grateful that I took my sweet time reading this. It allowed me the ability to pick up on so many current day connections. And I got to savor my overall reading experience. At one point, stuff felt too good for the characters, and that’s when I knew a crazy ending would be approaching. And I postponed finishing it…That ending was just insane. Insane.
All in all, this was a wonderful installment in the series. The writing was beautiful. The characters were the best. I loved watching them work together! The setting was so interesting. The romance was sizzling. Pieces of the story were legit terrifying. The suspense was crazy. And the ending kind of ripped my heart out and I’m dying to read more. When will there be more???? I give it a 10/10.

Wednesday, November 1, 2017

Waiting on Wednesday (244)


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: If You Don’t Have Anything Nice to Say by Leila Sales (5/1/2018):



Description on Goodreads:
This provocative and relevant young adult novel is about Winter, a one-time National Spelling Bee Champ with a bright future ahead of her. That all changes after she haphazardly writes a racially offensive tweet that she thought was a harmless joke. What unfolds is a barrage of Internet shaming and rejection from her community and closest friends. Winter seeks to redeem herself, but first must come to terms with what she wrote and understand why there was so much backlash.
Why I’m Waiting:
First off, this topic for a YA book sounds like gold. There’s so much with the internet that has never come up in YA literature, and it’s about time we started seeing it. I can’t wait to see how this main character handles her mistake. I also love this author. I have high hopes for the one to be a rather powerful book.
What are you waiting on this week?

Monday, October 30, 2017

A Good Week in Books (174)



I have fallen a little behind in my reading. This is due to a few things: tv shows starting up again, being crazy/busy with work, and a terrible sinus infection that made reading kind of hard for a whole week.  But, I’m getting back on track. I finished my audio book and I’m starting a new one tomorrow. I’m half way through an amazing book by Libba Bray. And who knows what tomorrow will bring? I received some lovely new books from Macmillan this week.
The new books:

Wild Beauty
by Anna-Marie McLemore
Meant to Be by Julie Halpern
Pashmina by Nidhi Chanani
Nemesis by Anna Banks
Ally by Anna Banks
Because I Was a Girl edited by Melissa Cruz
How was your week in books?

Wednesday, October 25, 2017

Waiting on Wednesday (243)


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:  Thunderhead by Neal Shusterman (1/9/18) :



Description on Goodreads:
Rowan and Citra take opposite stances on the morality of the Scythedom, putting them at odds, in the second novel of the chilling New York Times bestselling series from Neal Shusterman, author of the Unwind dystology.

Rowan has gone rogue, and has taken it upon himself to put the Scythedom through a trial by fire. Literally. In the year since Winter Conclave, he has gone off-grid, and has been striking out against corrupt scythes—not only in MidMerica, but across the entire continent. He is a dark folk hero now—“Scythe Lucifer”—a vigilante taking down corrupt scythes in flames.

Citra, now a junior scythe under Scythe Curie, sees the corruption and wants to help change it from the inside out, but is thwarted at every turn, and threatened by the “new order” scythes. Realizing she cannot do this alone—or even with the help of Scythe Curie and Faraday, she does the unthinkable, and risks being “deadish” so she can communicate with the Thunderhead—the only being on earth wise enough to solve the dire problems of a perfect world. But will it help solve those problems, or simply watch as perfection goes into decline?
Why I’m Waiting:
This sounds nuts! I loved the first book. I wasn’t positive there were going to more books to follow it. I’m so glad this sequel is really coming out, and so soon! I can’t wait to see where the story goes and how the world deals with these changes. I’m also super glad for a consistent cover. I can’t wait to read it.
What are you waiting on this week?

Tuesday, October 24, 2017

Turtles All the Way Down by John Green



Summary from Goodreads:
Sixteen-year-old Aza never intended to pursue the mystery of fugitive billionaire Russell Pickett, but there’s a hundred-thousand-dollar reward at stake and her Best and Most Fearless Friend, Daisy, is eager to investigate. So together, they navigate the short distance and broad divides that separate them from Russell Pickett’s son, Davis.

Aza is trying. She is trying to be a good daughter, a good friend, a good student, and maybe even a good detective, while also living within the ever-tightening spiral of her own thoughts.

In his long-awaited return, John Green, the acclaimed, award-winning author of Looking for Alaska and The Fault in Our Stars, shares Aza’s story with shattering, unflinching clarity in this brilliant novel of love, resilience, and the power of lifelong friendship.
Review:
I love John Green. He’s a brilliant writer and such a good person too. I’m not as a big a fan as others out there. I used to watch his and Hank’s videos religiously. While, I don’t do that any more, I know a lot of people still watch them and that he helps a lot of people. I’ve had the pleasure of meeting him a couple times over the years of conferences and I always felt like he was just so genuinely kind and willing to talk to and listen to everyone who came to get a book signed.
I know he has critics and that the most common piece of criticism is that he creates YA characters who are too adult, too intelligent, and too wise for their years. I’m not going to lie; I love that about his characters. I loved reading those characters when I was a young adult, and I love reading those characters, now as a genuine adult. He doesn’t sugar coat things. He doesn’t make the mistake of dumbing down the words or actions of characters like other YA authors really seem to do. And I always have this strange sense of familiarity with his writing. Like, I’d be able to pull him out of a book lineup.
This book, like all his past books, focuses more on character and character development then it does on plot. He is not an author for readers who need more plot-driven stories in their lives. His plot is always the journey his characters take inward –how people grow up and learn with their experiences. I was a little surprised to learn that the plot of this book would revolve around a disappearance and the mystery behind it. That doesn’t sound very John Green. Thankfully, that almost suspense story took the back seat to Aza.
This book is a story of mental illness. It’s about Aza learning to see beyond her mental illness and work in tandem with it. I loved this. I loved that her anxiety was always there, sometimes at the worst possible moments. Sometimes I got so frustrated with Aza. I wanted to physically shake her. I realize that’s how many people probably feel about their loved ones with mental illness. It also showed me how attached I was to Aza. I loved her and wanted all the right things for her. And that’s what John Green excels at the most: getting readers to care about his characters.
I loved the romantic side of the story, but I also loved that that part of the story was really in the background. The main focus was on Aza overcoming things and on Aza’s friendship with Daisy. I’m not sure I’ve had the pleasure of reading about girl friendship with John Green’s past novels. This was pure gold. I loved the balance between Aza and Daisy. I also loved that things weren’t perfect. And that Aza was willing to own up to what wasn’t working.
This was a book that made me laugh out loud, bite my nails at the tension, and cry with sadness at the heart-wrenching scenes. I had to take note a couple of quotes:
“Your mom gives a shit, you know? Most adults are just hollowed out. You watch them try to fill themselves up with booze or money or God or fame or whatever they worship, and it all rots them from the inside until nothing is left but the money or booze or God they thought would save them. That’s what my dad is like –he really disappeared a long time ago, which is maybe why it didn’t bother me much. I wish he were here, but I’ve wished that for a long time. Adults think they’re wielding power, but really power is wielding them” (145).
“You remember your first love because they show you, prove to you, that you can love and be loved, that nothing in this world is deserved except for love, that love is both how you become a person, and why” (285).
I give this a 10/10. I think this book deserves all the hype it is most likely getting right about now. I hope lots and lots of people read it.

Monday, October 23, 2017

A Good Week in Books (173)



I had a nice book week. I’m on the second to last disc of an awesome audio book. I finished John Green’s latest. And I started reading a new book by my favorite author. My library had its annual Nickerson event, and my wonderful boyfriend purchased the two books for sale by the author for us, so we can have signed copies. It was also my birthday this week. I’m officially 31 now.
Besides having a wonderful weekend with my closest friends, I got a couple of gift books. I’m now the proud owner of the third installment of the illustrated Harry Potter books. The boyfriend gets me one at each birthday (along with gorgeous earrings this year). I also received a lovely signed picture book from his aunt (that takes place on Cape Cod). I received one new book for review (Thank you, Macmillan!). I actually received several more for review that were sent to my old house. And I think I’ll be getting those Friday…It’s always nice to know I have fresh books waiting.
The books:

The Midnight Dancer by Nikki Katz
The Girls of Atomic City by Denise Kiernan (signed)
The Last Castle by Denise Kiernan (signed)
Sea Snow by Leslie Lanou Bigoness and Lindsay Meade Bigoness (signed)
Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban by J.K. Rowling and illustrated by Jim Kay
How was your week in books?

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

Waiting on Wednesday (242)



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:  From Twinkle, With Love by Sandhya Menon (6/5/2018):



Description from Goodreads:
An aspiring teen filmmaker finds her voice and falls in love in this delightful romantic comedy from the New York Times bestselling author of When Dimple Met Rishi.

Aspiring filmmaker and wallflower Twinkle Mehra has stories she wants to tell and universes she wants to explore, if only the world would listen. So when fellow film geek Sahil Roy approaches her to direct a movie for the upcoming Summer Festival, Twinkle is all over it. The chance to publicly showcase her voice as a director? Dream come true. The fact that it gets her closer to her longtime crush, Neil Roy—a.k.a. Sahil’s twin brother? Dream come true x 2.

When mystery man “N” begins emailing her, Twinkle is sure it’s Neil, finally ready to begin their happily-ever-after. The only slightly inconvenient problem is that, in the course of movie-making, she’s fallen madly in love with the irresistibly adorkable Sahil.

Twinkle soon realizes that resistance is futile: The romance she’s got is not the one she’s scripted. But will it be enough?

Told through the letters Twinkle writes to her favorite female filmmakers, From Twinkle, with Love navigates big truths about friendship, family, and the unexpected places love can find you.
Why I’m Waiting:
First off, this sounds adorable. That description would appeal to me even if I didn’t already know this author. I loved When Dimple Met Rishi. I loved listening to this author speak at the Boston Teen Author Festival. I love that her main characters always (at least so far) are passionate about things other than romance. I love the idea of a YA book about a film director. I also love the romantic comedy aspect to it all too. Also, how cute is the cover?
What are you waiting on this week?

Monday, October 16, 2017

Wishtree by Katherine Applegate



Summary from Goodreads:
Trees can't tell jokes, but they can certainly tell stories. . . .

Red is an oak tree who is many rings old. Red is the neighborhood "wishtree"—people write their wishes on pieces of cloth and tie them to Red's branches. Along with her crow friend Bongo and other animals who seek refuge in Red's hollows, this "wishtree" watches over the neighborhood.

You might say Red has seen it all. Until a new family moves in. Not everyone is welcoming, and Red's experiences as a wishtree are more important than ever.
Review:
This book pleasantly surprised me. First off, I need to say that I love this author. She knows how to write books for children. I’ve been reading her books since I was a child. And I think I appreciate her so much more now after reading books like this one, as an adult. This book is brave, smart, and timely.
I pretty much sat down at the table with this book as my boyfriend made dinner one night. I wasn’t expecting to read this in one go, before dinner was even ready. I also don’t think I was expecting to enjoy it so much. I thought the personified tree was going to be a little gimmicky for me. And okay, it kind of was. But there are so many deeper levels to this tree besides it’s tree-like wisdom, peacefulness, and serenity.
I wasn’t expecting the deeper layers of this book. And I certainly wasn’t expecting a book with a message on immigration, acceptance, and community. Applegate expertly weaves together very short chapters (perfect for struggling readers) in the tree’s point of view. I can see this gimmick appealing to young readers and drawing them in. She educates you on trees, animals, and wildlife. And then she makes you think of trees differently, like people who live for significantly longer periods of time.
And then you start to see the world a little bit differently. Like you sum up a timeline by the things people do outside, by the kindness you witness in others, and the wishes people make. It’s also the story of an immigrant family who is struggling. The tree has seen struggling immigrant families before and wants to fix things. The tree wants to grant the wish of the little girl who wishes purely for a friend.
I love the idea of the tree involving itself in the lives of the people who live near it. I love the idea of tying wishes to a tree. I love that the tree values the community and the people more than it values itself. I love the home that the neighborhood animals make in the tree. And I love the messages that can and will be drawn from this story. The topic of acceptance is critical, and Applegate tackles it in an easy-to-read, simple way.
I wish this book were a little bit longer. By the time I was 100% invested in the story, I felt like it ended. I wish the tree spoke more. I loved the message. I loved the characters. All in all, this was a really good book. I can see schools using it in the curriculum. I give it a 9/10.

Sunday, October 15, 2017

A Good Week in Books (172)



I have had such a crazy workweek. I wasn’t even sure I’d be doing blog posts this week, but here I am. I’m going to be busy with lots of work stuff this weekend, so I’m even putting this together early. I finished one great middle grade book. I started an excellent audio book. And I’m reading the newest John Green book right now, and I’m in love with it. Seriously, I would be lost without books. I’m so thrilled to have such great books to read this fall and I know my work-crazed brain would not be nearly as calm as it is without such great reads.
I received 3 new book for review, courtesy of Macmillan. And I’m feeling so lucky right now to have such a large, enticing TBR shelf.
The books:


The Librarian of Auschwitz
by Antonio Iturbe
Berserker by Emmy Laybourne
Cast No Shadow by Nick Tapalansky and Anissa Espinosa

Thursday, October 12, 2017

Murder, Magic, and What We Wore by Kelly Jones



Summary from Goodreads:
The year is 1818, the city is London, and our heroine, 16-year-old Annis Whitworth, has just learned that her father is dead and all his money is missing. And so, of course, she decides to become a spy.

Annis always suspected that her father was a spy, so following in his footsteps to unmask his killer makes perfect sense. Alas, it does not make sense to England’s current spymasters—not even when Annis reveals that she has the rare magical ability to sew glamours: garments that can disguise the wearer completely.

Well, if the spies are too pigheaded to take on a young woman of quality, then Annis will take them on.

She’ll follow the clues her father left behind and discover what befell him.

She’ll prove she can sew an impenetrable disguise.

She’ll earn a living without stooping to become a—shudder—governess.

It can’t be any harder than navigating the London social season, can it?
Review:
This is one of those rare books that I purchased for the library having read no prior reviews for. The title, alone, is what appealed to me. And then when it came in, I finished processing it, and put a hold on it right away. I knew it would be something for me. Can the title get any better? Thank goodness the book was just as good as I thought it would be, and then some.
Imagine Jane Austin mixed with Maria V Snyder, mixed with Meg Cabot, and mixed with Project Runway. I love historical fiction that involves magic and hidden feminism. I’m not a huge spy story fan. But, there’s something about a story with lady spies that really appeals to me. Add lady spies with hidden magical sewing powers, and a murder mystery involving Napoleon, and well, this book was just fabulous.
There were a few moments when I had to re-read certain pieces of dialogue because things were often said that I didn’t pick up on. And this was annoying. Also annoying was one twist that I found painstakingly obvious since the first chapter. I wish the author made things with a certain surprise spy a little less obvious.
I loved Annis. I loved her dreams. I loved her relationship with her maid, and how highly she viewed her maid’s safety and needs. I loved that Annis couldn’t do everything. For instance, throwing knives seemed impossible for her. She was a little silly and naïve at times, but this was okay because she was always willing to learn from her mistakes and grow.
I loved the disguises, the balls, the subterfuge, and the wit behind everything. This book was smart. Ladies were smart. Every chapter starts with a famous quote, and a little explanation by Annis.
Some things felt a little bit far-fetched, like all the ladies coming together at a ball to heed the words of what happened to a maid behind closed doors. But, I do like that the author did make Annis register that when she was disguised as a maid, people did not respect her. Her safety was always in question. People would spill things on her without apology. And her voice did not matter as much. Little historic truths did come out. It wasn’t all pretty dresses and fun disguised adventures.
I read this super quickly, despite how easy it was to put down after each short chapter. I just had so much fun reading this that I was smiling the whole time. My jaw actually hurt at one point from all the smiling while reading that was going on. I loved the concept of the story. I loved the historical setting. I loved the magic and the network of spies. I loved the characters. There were a few little things that annoyed me, but all in all, this was a great read. I give it a 9/10.

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

Waiting on Wednesday (241)



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:  Puddin’ by Julie Murphy (5/8/2018):



Description on 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.
Why I’m Waiting:
I had no idea there was a sequel in the works! I loved Dumplin’. I remember reading and thinking, Finally! I do have to admit that I will need to re-read it to get familiar with the characters again, before reading this new one. But, that’s just a good excuse to go back to a book that I loved. I can’t wait to see what will happen next. And I love that the covers remain consistent!
What are you waiting on this week?

Monday, October 9, 2017

Ms. Marvel, Vol. 7: Damage Per Second by G. Willow Wilson



Summary from Goodreads:
Civil War II is behind her, and a brand new chapter for Kamala Khan is about to begin! But it's lonely out there for a super hero when her loved ones no longer have her back. It's time for Kamala to find out exactly who she is when she is on her own. Plus: it's election time! Kamala gets out the vote!
Review:
I love Ms. Marvel. Earlier this week, my boyfriend and I were discussing the influx of superhero shows on TV this year and how we both wished that these major networks would talk more to the fans and listen to the shows we would go gaga over. Like instead of 3 shows coming out that all look like similar variations of X-Men, why not something else? The first thing that came to mind when I was asked, who I wanted to see on TV was Ms. Marvel.  Seriously, TV networks, we are tired of the same hero shows! More girl heroes please (and not just in groups with guys heroes, but alone)!
I recommend Ms Marvel all the time to comic, graphic novel, and even manga readers at my library. The fun, modern plot, the Muslim family setting, the girl power and friendships, and even the little inkling of romance in these is just so amazing.
That being said, this might have been my least favorite volume so far. It wasn’t terrible. I just didn’t compare to some of the previous installments. Like always, there were 3 storylines. The first one was about getting people to vote. At first I liked this. I was like, yes! Finally, something that shows the importance of voting in YA! But, then, it got a little too preachy for me. I wanted to read about how voting was important without getting a secret lesson also. And I can see teens feeling this way too.
The second story was more fun. It was about a virus that started in Kamala’s online game. The virus leads to mass cyber-bullying and all kinds of black mail, terror, and kind of plausible destruction. I liked that Kamala had to learn to figure things out on her own (with one phone call to someone who’s noticeably ignoring her). I liked the sense of online friendship in this one, and how strangers (that only know each other from gaming) came together to save the world.
The last story was in Bruno’s point of view, and it involved the Black Panther, which is super cool (especially considering his movie that is coming soon). That being said, his adventure just wasn’t as interesting as any of Kamala’s. The only times I put the book down were during Bruno’s adventures. He just seems too overdramatically angsty. While I appreciate him finally seeming to come to in his story, I also wish this didn’t have to happen so far away from Ms. Marvel.
All in all this volume was fun, fast-paced, and filled with drama. I wasn’t as into Bruno’s journey, as I was Kamala’s. I also didn’t super enjoy being “taught a lesson” about voting in the first part. But the second story, made up for all the down parts of the other two stories. The gaming aspect to it all was so much fun. I give this volume a 7/10. I know the next volume will be better.

Thursday, October 5, 2017

The Gentleman's Guide to Vice and Virtue by Mackenzi Lee



Summary from Goodreads:
Henry “Monty” Montague was born and bred to be a gentleman, but he was never one to be tamed. The finest boarding schools in England and the constant disapproval of his father haven’t been able to curb any of his roguish passions—not for gambling halls, late nights spent with a bottle of spirits, or waking up in the arms of women or men.

But as Monty embarks on his Grand Tour of Europe, his quest for a life filled with pleasure and vice is in danger of coming to an end. Not only does his father expect him to take over the family’s estate upon his return, but Monty is also nursing an impossible crush on his best friend and traveling companion, Percy.

Still it isn’t in Monty’s nature to give up. Even with his younger sister, Felicity, in tow, he vows to make this yearlong escapade one last hedonistic hurrah and flirt with Percy from Paris to Rome. But when one of Monty’s reckless decisions turns their trip abroad into a harrowing manhunt that spans across Europe, it calls into question everything he knows, including his relationship with the boy he adores.
Review:
What’s the opposite of reading slump? A reading party-cruise? I’ve seriously been loving all the books I’ve been reading lately, particularly this one. There’s a lot of hype for this one. I haven’t heard anything negative about it at all. And I kind of dove into it blind, despite this. I didn’t know the extent of what it would cover. And honestly, I’ve never been a big historical fiction reader. I’m so glad I took everyone’s slight nudging of the book into my lap seriously. Also, thank you to the random, exasperated employee of HarperCollins who allowed me to take a hard cover copy of this book at ALA. I asked her what they were doing with all the hard covers of it (on a whim) and she said, “Just take it.”
I’m glad all the fates worked together and I read it and even got it signed at the Boston Teen Author Festival. It just felt like I was meant to read the book. And it was wonderful. I absolutely adored Monty. He reminded me so much of a favorite character of mine from Vampire Academy: Adrian. Both are tortured souls who come off as rakish upper society failures. And both are capable of extreme growth, love, and accomplishment.
I fell in love with Monty right away (even when he was coming off as a rakish failure). I loved that he saw his European tour as his last year of freedom. I loved his friendship with his long time crush: Percy. I also loved his sister, who was constantly reading and saving everyone with her medical knowledge and all-around knowhow. I loved the three of them together. I couldn’t wait to get to the part of the book that delved into the whole “manhunt” thing mentioned in the summary.
Thankfully, I did not have to wait too long. This book has a bit of everything: romance, adventure, witty banter, suspense, highway men, gun wounds, pirates, cross-continental travels, gambling, drinking, stealing, alchemy, and escape. There seriously was never a dull moment –something I wish for all historical fiction books. And in the background of it all are tougher topics of racism, sexism, prejudice, abuse, and fear. Monty is essentially a bisexual in a time when the word doesn’t even exist yet. And his best friend Percy is constantly picked on, sneered at, belittled, and looked over because of the hue of his skin. Felicity has the mind of a doctor, but isn’t even allowed into medical related lectures because of her sex. And despite that, or maybe even partially because of that, the three make a powerfully intelligent and heartwarming trio.
There’s also this rather fantastical element of the story that revolves around alchemy and wanting to cure a friend’s illness. There’s secret code boxes, bone keys, creepy, bone made crypts, and sinking islands. This element of the story kept me even more riveted. I loved the darkness to it all. I loved the lengths characters were taking to seize control of such power.
All in all, this book had everything: awesome characters, excellent setting, crazy adventures, a tiny bit of fantastical magic, interesting issues, and plenty of wit. I loved Lee’s writing style. I hope she continues to write. I’m so glad I happened upon this story. I give it a 10/10.

Wednesday, October 4, 2017

Waiting on Wednesday (240)



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 Cruel Prince by Holly Black (1/2/2018):



Description from Goodreads:
Of course I want to be like them. They’re beautiful as blades forged in some divine fire. They will live forever.

And Cardan is even more beautiful than the rest. I hate him more than all the others. I hate him so much that sometimes when I look at him, I can hardly breathe.


Jude was seven years old when her parents were murdered and she and her two sisters were stolen away to live in the treacherous High Court of Faerie. Ten years later, Jude wants nothing more than to belong there, despite her mortality. But many of the fey despise humans. Especially Prince Cardan, the youngest and wickedest son of the High King.

To win a place at the Court, she must defy him–and face the consequences.

In doing so, she becomes embroiled in palace intrigues and deceptions, discovering her own capacity for bloodshed. But as civil war threatens to drown the Courts of Faerie in violence, Jude will need to risk her life in a dangerous alliance to save her sisters, and Faerie itself.
Why I’m Waiting;
This book sounds awesome. It sounds like a dark faerie story mixed with a healthy dose of revenge, politics, family, and possibly romance. I love Holly Black and I seriously loved the last book she wrote about the world of faerie. She knows how to write awesome characters and beautiful, yet dark worlds. I cannot wait to read this one (though the cover is kind of boring).
What are you waiting on this week?

Monday, October 2, 2017

A World Without You by Beth Revis and read by P.J. Ochlan and Sarah Naughton


Summary from Goodreads:
What if finding her means losing himself?

Seventeen-year-old Bo has always had delusions that he can travel through time. When he was ten, Bo claimed to have witnessed the Titanic hit an iceberg, and at fifteen, he found himself on a Civil War battlefield, horrified by the bodies surrounding him. So when his worried parents send him to a school for troubled youth, Bo assumes he knows the truth: that he’s actually attending Berkshire Academy, a school for kids who, like Bo, have “superpowers.”

At Berkshire, Bo falls in love with Sofía, a quiet girl with a tragic past and the superpower of invisibility. Sofía helps Bo open up in a way he never has before. In turn, Bo provides comfort to Sofía, who lost her mother and two sisters at a very young age.

But even the strength of their love isn’t enough to help Sofía escape her deep depression. After she commits suicide, Bo is convinced that she’s not actually dead. He believes that she’s stuck somewhere in time—that he somehow left her in the past, and that now it’s his job to save her. And as Bo becomes more and more determined to save Sofía, he must decide whether to face his demons head-on or succumb to a psychosis that will let him be with the girl he loves.
Review:
This book was not what I was expecting. And I’m beyond grateful that I did not give up on this one, like I almost did. I almost gave up on it because of the narrator reading for Bo. He reads every sentence with such force and intensity (even the dullest moments), that I almost gave up on this book just because of how off-putting this was. I soon learned to appreciate the reading. The narrator gave a level of intense believability of the character for me that I wouldn’t have had otherwise. He represented how seriously and intensely Bo saw everything. And I grew to love this interpretation of Bo.
I also then almost gave up because not enough was happening. It was clear from the very beginning that Bo was delusional and that he believed he could bring back his dead girlfriend because he believes he has the ability to go back in time. But other than that insane concept, not a lot happens in this book until the second half.
I think what kept me listening to the audio was not Bo (or his narrator’s) intensity, but Phoebe. I grew up with an older brother who was (is) mentally ill. While I can see some people not liking Phoebe’s chapters because they take away from the eventual plot that develops in the second half, I loved her moments and her perspective –because they were my moments and my perspective.
Hearing Phoebe battle moments of empathy and selfishness and sacrifice, allowed me to remember my moments of empathy, selfishness, and sacrifice. I am so glad that Revis added in this sibling perspective. Yes, the story is about Bo and what Bo has to figure out, but also, it’s about the people Bo affects and the family he unknowingly leaves behind.
So, Pheobe’s story kept me interested in the first half. And Bo’s breakdowns kept me riveted in the second half. Seeing that closely into the mind of someone so far gone, was rather remarkable. I found Bo fascinating. He’s so strong and loyal to his beliefs. And I could see how important his “powers” were to him for all the right reasons. And my heart just continued to break for him.
I wanted some colossal break-through to happen. I wanted Bo to finally see reality in those videotapes. I wanted him to learn to accept things. And I can’t help but think back on those feelings the way I can get so frustrated with my brother. I want there to be some cure that makes his brain react the way most people’s brains do. But there is no cure for mental illness. I know this. I’ve lived this. But, this book showed me that I still want one. So, on all kinds of levels, this book was personal for me. I connected to Bo and Phoebe so strongly.
That being said, I can see this being a tough book for a lot of readers to get into (who don’t have this personal connection). And I wish there were some magical words I could say to keep people reading into that second half, where all sorts of madness goes down (pun intended). I’m talking mental breakdowns, possible school closings, fires, all kinds of hallucinations, trapped friends, and insane suspense. It’s worth the slow beginning to get to all this juicy stuff later.
The plot gets seriously good/addicting in the second half. There was a moment I had to pull over, while driving. My jaw literally dropped and I was yelling at Bo so loudly to go back that I knew it was not safe for me to listen and drive at the same time. That’s how good it gets.
The story was great and suspenseful. The characters were believable and powerful. I’ve never read a book about a character with this kind of mental illness before. And I’ve never gotten so deep a perspective from a sibling of someone with mental illness before. I hope more people read this book (despite the slow beginning). It’s a book that’s stuck with me days after reading it, and I think it will continue to stick with me. I give it a 9/10.

Thursday, September 28, 2017

Wonder Woman Warbringer by Leigh Bardugo


Summary from Goodreads:
Daughter of immortals.

Princess Diana longs to prove herself to her legendary warrior sisters. But when the opportunity finally comes, she throws away her chance at glory and breaks Amazon law—risking exile—to save a mortal. Diana will soon learn that she has rescued no ordinary girl, and that with this single brave act, she may have doomed the world.

Daughter of death.

Alia Keralis just wanted to escape her overprotective brother with a semester at sea. She doesn’t know she is being hunted by people who think her very existence could spark a world war. When a bomb detonates aboard her ship, Alia is rescued by a mysterious girl of extraordinary strength and forced to confront a horrible truth: Alia is a Warbringer—a direct descendant of the infamous Helen of Troy, fated to bring about an age of bloodshed and misery.

Together.

Two girls will face an army of enemies—mortal and divine—determined to either destroy or possess the Warbringer. Tested beyond the bounds of their abilities, Diana and Alia must find a way to unleash hidden strengths and forge an unlikely alliance. Because if they have any hope of saving both their worlds, they will have to stand side by side against the tide of war.
Review:
As I was waiting in line to purchase this book at the Boston Teen Author Festival, I was already reading a library copy. I knew I’d want to own this book, so I could re-read it, and also, I wanted Bardugo’s autograph on this one. A girl next to me in line asked me what I thought of the book. She said she liked the author’s other books, but tended not to like books about characters that already existed in some other canon.
So, in my head, I was thinking I have one chance to seriously sell this book and I gave it my all. I said, “Think about everything you already know about the Wonder Woman character, then add a seriously diverse cast, some LGBT representation, a kick-ass friendship story, and some serious levels of feminism and girl power. The girl in line seemed impressed. I think she’ll give this one a try.
This book was awesome. I don’t always love Bardugo as much as everyone else does. She is a very talented writer though and I always appreciate the level of research and world building she has. I love that this wasn’t the same story as the movie. I love that instead of risking the wrath of her Amazon sisters for a guy who’s plane crashes, Diana risks everything to save a girl. It’s not about helping a man stop further war. It was about saving a friend and preventing war. I know this seems like such a small difference between book and movie, but to me, this difference was everything.
I loved the friendship story. I loved watching Diana learn about the modern world. I loved watching her learn and grow from her friendship with Alia. I loved watching her center her power and strength by channeling her sisters. And I loved every scene where she kicked the butts of unsuspecting men.
This book had great side characters. I loved Alia’s best friend and crush. I loved the brother too. I found so much about him to be fascinating. And I was genuinely surprised by a certain twist with him. The world-building was awesome. I love books that take place both in the real world and in a fantasy one. Bardugo excels at writing mythology and all the Greek mythology here was awesome.
The pacing was super fast too. You go from one frightening scene to another. There’s fierce weather, shipwrecks, bombs at the MET (in NY), gun-fights, sky diving, mythological creatures, scenes with Greek Gods, and so much more. It was paced like a Rick Riordan book. But unlike with Riordan, it was all about girl power. After finishing it, I was like, “why couldn’t Bardugo have written the movie?” Though, I did have fun watching the movie too. Wonder Woman is my favorite comic book character too, so I was expecting really good things from this book. I’m glad my expectations were met and then some.
The YA books this year are killing it. Seriously, coming up with a top 10 list will be so hard at the end of the year. This book had everything: amazing world building, Greek mythology, great characters, feminism, action, romance, suspense, and friendship. I want more. Seriously though, will there be a book 2? I give it a 10/10.

Wednesday, September 27, 2017

Waiting on Wednesday (239)


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:  Dreadful Young Ladies and Other Stories by Kelly Barnhill (2/20/2018):
 

Description on Goodreads:
From award-winning, New York Times bestselling author Kelly Barnhill comes a stunning collection of stories, teeming with uncanny characters whose lives unfold in worlds at once strikingly human and eerily original.

When Mrs. Sorensen’s husband dies, she rekindles a long-dormant love with an unsuitable mate in “Mrs. Sorensen and the Sasquatch.” In “Open the Door and the Light Pours Through,” a young man wrestles with grief and his sexuality in an exchange of letters with his faraway beloved. “Dreadful Young Ladies” demonstrates the strength and power—known and unknown—of the imagination.  In “Notes on the Untimely Death of Ronia Drake,” a witch is haunted by the deadly repercussions of a spell. “The Insect and the Astronomer” upends expectations about good and bad, knowledge and ignorance, love and longing. The World Fantasy Award–winning novella The Unlicensed Magician introduces the secret magical life of an invisible girl once left for dead—with thematic echoes of Barnhill’s Newbery Medal–winning novel, The Girl Who Drank the Moon.

By an author hailed as “a fantasist on the order of Neil Gaiman” (Minneapolis Star Tribune), the stories in Dreadful Young Ladies feature bold, reality-bending invention underscored by richly illuminated universal themes of love, death, jealousy, hope, and more.
Why I’m Waiting:
Sometimes it seems like the publisher can’t come up with anything good to sell the book more. And sometimes, as is the case here, the publisher has so many selling points and so much praise that it almost feels like I’m reading a fellow YA blogger telling me that I must read this. Needless to say, after reading that description, I know I must read this book. It sounds awesome. Plus, I love short stories and wish there were more in the YA world. I loved The Girl Who Drank the Moon. And I love dark and magical stories. I have supremely high hopes for this book.
What are you waiting on this week?

Monday, September 25, 2017

A Good Week in Books (171) - Boston Teen Author Festival 2017 edition



I had an awesome book week. I only finished one book this week, but it was an amazing one. I’m getting close to finishing my audio book, but it moves at a kind of slower pace. I received 5 new books for review thanks to Macmillan! And oh man, I’m super excited to read these. I also attended the Boston Teen Author Festival again! That was unbelievably fun.
I brought 4 books with me to get signed. And I purchased 4 new books there, to also have signed…I told myself I was only going to buy 2…I think I did a good job win impulse control, especially considering that the conference had a lot more people in attendance and I don’t think I could have gotten any more signed than I did because of time. I did see some other YA sisters buying books by the box-load. Also, major shout-out to one my coolest besties: Meghan! She brought one book to get signed and then waited almost the whole rest of the allotted signing time in line for Leigh Bardugo –to get two books signed for me. She is the best!
I went to one big panel with all the authors (at least 40 of them). Then I went to 3 different panels through out the day. And the whole thing ended with all of the signings. My panels: “Out of Character” with Leigh Bardugo, Kerri Maniscalco, Ashley Poston, and Jason Reynolds, “Through the Ages” with Mackenzi Lee, Katherine Locke, S.M. Parker, and Mitali Perkins, and “Tropes on You” with Susan Dennard, Elizabeth Eulberg, Sandhya Menon, and Brendan Reichs.
The books:
Pile 1 (The ones I brought to get signed)


When Dimple Met Rishi by Sandhya Menon
More Happy than Not by Adam Silvera
Mask of Shadows by Linsey Miller
Shadow and Bone by Leigh Bardugo

Pile 2 (books purchased at festival and all signed) and Pile 3 (books I received for review this week)


Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe
by Benjamin Elire Saenz
All American Boys by Jason Reynolds
The Reader by Traci Chee
Wonder Woman Warbringer by Leigh Bardugo
+ The Language of Thorns promotional sampler
The Language of Thorns by Leigh Bardugo
Wishtree by Katherine Applegate
You bring the distant Near by Mitali Perkins
The Night Garden by Polly Horvath
Spinning by Tillie Walden
The 40+ authors in attendance (aka: big panel):

The small “Out of Character” panel:

Some super fun swag (including love letters from book boyfriends -both of mine were from Sarah J Maas books!)
 

Meghan and me enjoying the day:


How was your week in books?