Tuesday, September 19, 2017

The Dire King by William Ritter

Summary from Goodreads:
The fate of the world is in the hands of detective of the supernatural R. F. Jackaby and his intrepid assistant, Abigail Rook. An evil king is turning ancient tensions into modern strife, using a blend of magic and technology to push Earth and the Otherworld into a mortal competition. Jackaby and Abigail are caught in the middle as they continue to solve the daily mysteries of New Fiddleham, New England — like who’s created the rend between the worlds, how to close it, and why zombies are appearing around. At the same time, the romance between Abigail and the shape-shifting police detective Charlie Cane deepens, and Jackaby’s resistance to his feelings for 926 Augur Lane’s ghostly lady, Jenny, begins to give way. Before the four can think about their own futures, they will have to defeat an evil that wants to destroy the future altogether.
I’m so sad that there will be no more Jackaby books. This honestly reads like one of those series that could go and on in many books. I’m not saying that just because I enjoy them. There are some great books that just seem to feel like they truly end with book 3. This is just such an interesting story, such an interesting world, and there are still so many unanswered questions and little un-explored niches I’d like to see. I feel like it would make for a wonderful series on Netflix or PBS. Really, people, someone needs to pick this up.
That being said, I feel like this book was my least favorite in the series. The over-arcing mystery of this one was too much about fairies. And while I love a good dark fairy re-telling, I was kind of hoping for something different here. Past novels have always had dark, supernatural creatures and characters, and I’ve come to seriously love how different they are. So, reverting to this fairy rift as the backdrop for it all was kind of disappointing for me because I’ve seen that before.
However, the author was able to connect the dots. The over-arcing fairy rift was able to explain a few of my unanswered questions about things like a certain duck character. I also learned a little more about seers and supernatural creatures in general. I loved all the scenes where Jackaby’s house was being used as a hideout for all the supernatural folk of new Fiddleham. Some of my favorite moments happened there.
I guess what I’m trying to say is that I liked the other books better because they were more personal and smaller scale. I liked getting to know each of the side characters. This was almost too big –saving the world kind of big. And while I normally love stories that result in saving the world, here I felt like it almost took away from the personal charm the rest of the series had going for it. That, and it read like the author was almost trying to force the ending on a story that is not quite there yet. It’s not usually good when you can tell how hard an author is working to make something seem final. There’s still so much left open and unexplored.
This book also played at my heartstrings a bit. I had tears in my eyes one moment, and bursts of laughter the next. I really have grown to love these characters. And there also were a few surprises in this one for me. I liked being surprised. And I loved the very end of the book. I almost didn’t read the end of the book though. It ended in the part marked “supplemental material.” And after the sadness of what I assumed was the end (in the last real chapter), I almost couldn’t bring myself to read the supplemental material part. I’m glad I did though because otherwise I would not have gotten the happier ending I was hoping for…Do not skip this section, people! Also, why would the publisher let that happen? I bet there’s a lot of readers who won’t read it and won’t get the real ending….
Any way, all in all, I loved this series. It’s as the blurb says “Sherlock Holmes crossed with Buffy the Vampire Slayer.” The characters and the setting make these books un-put-down-able. The small town murder mysteries are usually very personable and interesting. I’m kind of wishing this last installment was less large-scale and more like the earlier books. I also wish this wasn’t the end and that the author didn’t try to make this the end so hard. I give this last book an 8/10 (though I’d give the whole series a 9).

Monday, September 18, 2017

A Good Week in Books (170)

I had a nice, little book week. I finished reading a supernatural mystery (and final book to a series). I finished a new middle grade graphic novel. I received 2 new books for review (big thanks to Macmillan!). One of the books though is for a book I already have an ARC for and reviewed. So, I might have to do a giveaway soon. I also purchased 2 books. The first, is a book I got from the library and I know will be one of my all time favorite books now and will need to be re-read many times over. It’s not in the photo with the other books because my boyfriend currently has it with him…and he’s almost done reading! I love when we read the same books. And the other book I purchased because so many people and reviews make it sound amazing and I thought it was time.
The new books:

by Pam Smy
Moxie by Jennifer Mathieu
To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before by Jenny Han
In Other Lands by Sarah Rees Brennan (this is the new favorite!)
How was your week in books?

Thursday, September 14, 2017

Serafina and the Splintered Heart by Robert Beatty and read by Cassandra Campbell

Summary from Goodreads:
The storms are coming....

Something has happened to Serafina. She has awoken into a darkness she does not understand, scarred from a terrible battle, only to find that life at Biltmore Estate has changed in unimaginable ways. Old friends do unthinkable things and enemies seem all around.

A mysterious threat moves towards Biltmore, a force without a name, bringing with it violent storms and flooding that stands to uproot everything in its path. Serafina must uncover the truth about what has happened to her and find a way to harness her strange new powers before it's too late.

With only days to achieve the impossible, Serafina fights to reclaim herself as the Guardian of Biltmore, friend of Braeden, daughter of her Pa, and heroine of the Blue Ridge Mountains and all the folk and creatures that call it home.

In the epic third installment of Robert Beatty's #1 bestselling series, Serafina takes her rightful place among literary champions as she battles fiercely to defend all she loves and become everything that she is meant to be.
Now this is how a series is supposed to be end! First off, this series has zero to no hype that I have seen, and it is amazing. Why haven’t more people read this? Amazing characters, unique and dark setting, little bits of magic, fantastical creatures, and wow, I already want to re-read them all.
This book had such an amazing beginning. I’ve never read a middle grade book to open like this. It literally started on the first page with the main character coming to, in a coffin, buried six feet under ground! It was terrifying. I knew she’d have to make it out of there –being the main character and all. But, still. This book was intense. And it only got more intense from there.
I love how there was a strong focus on the different pieces of Serafina: her cat self, her human self, and her soul. I also loved watching Serafina continue to fight past some insanely terrifying obstacles. She out-smarted some crazy dark stuff. And her family and friends stood by her the whole time. The sense of family in these books is also great: they are the people you eat with, who you tell everything to, who you’d risk your life for. Serafina has made her own family and I was just excited to catch up with them, as I was to hear what was going to happen next in the extremely suspenseful plot.
I also loved the closure. The author seriously tied up all the loose ends and tiny questions I may have had from 2 books ago. Stuff is resolved with Rowena, with Serafina’s father, with her cat family, and with Waysa (not sure on spelling because I’ve only done this on audio).  I do kind of wish something could have been alluded to about a certain romantic relationship, but I get that this is middle grade. Still, I had a ship…
All in all though, this was a fabulous ending to a remearkable series. The audio book reader, Cassandra Campbell is nothing short of magical. And I highly recommend this one for audio book fans. I also highly recommend this one to fantasy and magic fans. This was a fun ride. And it was super hard having my mom visit for 2 weeks and have to pause my car listening for so long! I give this a 10/10.

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

Waiting on Wednesday (237)

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:  Tess of the Road by Rachel Hartman (2/27/2018):

Description from Goodreads:
Meet Tess, a brave new heroine from beloved epic fantasy author Rachel Hartman.

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

Where Tess is headed is a mystery, even to her. So when she runs into an old friend, it's a stroke of luck. This friend is a quigutl--a subspecies of dragon--who gives her both a purpose and protection on the road. But Tess is guarding a troubling secret. Her tumultuous past is a heavy burden to carry, and the memories she's tried to forget threaten to expose her to the world in more ways than one.

Returning to the fascinating world she created in the award-winning and New York Times bestselling Seraphina, Rachel Hartman introduces readers to a new character and a new quest, pushing the boundaries of genre once again in this wholly original fantasy.
Why I’m Waiting:
I loved Seraphina. I actually never read the sequel, but I think I will some time soon. I’d need to re-read book 1 first. Any way, I remember it being an amazingly interesting world, with an awesome kick-butt girl main character. This new book sounds to be kind of similar. Plus, dragons! Plus, I love stories where the girl dresses as a boy. And, that cover! I can’t wait to get my hands on this book.
What are you waiting on this week?

Monday, September 11, 2017

Moxie by Jennifer Mathieu

Summary from Goodreads:
An unlikely teenager starts a feminist revolution at a small-town Texan high school in the new novel from Jennifer Matheiu, author of The Truth About Alice.


Vivian Carter is fed up. Fed up with a school administration at her small-town Texas high school that thinks the football team can do no wrong. Fed up with sexist dress codes, hallway harassment, and gross comments from guys during class. But most of all, Viv Carter is fed up with always following the rules.

Viv's mom was a tough-as-nails, punk rock Riot Grrrl in the '90s, and now Viv takes a page from her mother's past and creates a feminist zine that she distributes anonymously to her classmates. She's just blowing off steam, but other girls respond. As Viv forges friendships with other young women across the divides of cliques and popularity rankings, she realizes that what she has started is nothing short of a girl revolution.

Moxie is a book about high school life that will make you wanna riot!
This seems to be the year of reading books I didn’t know how badly I needed. I needed this book. I needed this book so badly that at times, I had goose bumps and tears in my eyes. I have felt what Viv has felt. I have seen dress codes only apply to women. I have been groped by male classmates (whether as part of a dumb game like Viv’s school was doing, or just because men feel like they can). I have listened to boys say stupid things like, “go back to the kitchen,” “make me a sandwich,” and “why are women even allowed to drive?” and like Viv I never wanted to cause any problems or draw too much attention to myself. Life can be scary when you’re a woman.
Her zine or newsletter (as every other character referred to it) reminded me of all these things I have seen, witnessed, listened to all my life and always hated. And I’m so glad someone wrote a book about this. More girls (myself included) need to know that we can stand up and fight against these problems.
I love that this book also focused so highly on friendship. It didn’t matter what social circle, racial group, or religon these girls belonged to. They all could relate to what Viv was angry about. All girls can relate. And watching all these different girls from various backgrounds come together, stand together, was such a powerful thing. And it was probably the strongest message from this book overall: the power of girls working together is mind blowing and fierce.
We’re finally at a point in time where YA literature is reflecting the current political atmosphere. People want to read books where the little guy wins, where women can start a revolution and succeed, and where small successes can mean the world. Sure, we will always need distraction and YA generates some of my all time favorite distraction. But, lately, I’ve been feeling this mass need of something else: hope. Hope for a future with less sexism, racism, and hatred.
Was this the perfect book? No. I thought Viv’s romance actually could have been taken out of the book. It’s weird when I’m skimming through the romantic stuff so I can get back to the plot, but I was doing that there. I’m not sure the main character needed to avoid telling her mom things for as long as she did either. But, honestly, this book was so powerful, positive, fierce, and hopeful that none of that stuff really bothered me at all. I give this a 10/10. I hope for more books like this.

Thursday, September 7, 2017

In Other Lands by Sarah Rees Brennan

Summary from Goodreads:
Sometimes it’s not the kid you expect who falls through to magicland, sometimes it’s . . . Elliot. He’s grumpy, nerdy, and appalled by both the dearth of technology and the levels of fitness involved in swinging swords around. He’s a little enchanted by the elves and mermaids. Despite his aversion to war, work, and most people (human or otherwise) he finds that two unlikely ideas, friendship and world peace, may actually be possible.
This book is everything! Seriously, it is everything I have always wanted and needed in a book. It’s probably my favorite book of the year and will go down as one of my all time favorite books. How do I know this already? Well, I’ve already re-read my favorite moments! I finished it one day, and within hours had to go back and re-read some parts again. It is sadly a library book and I’m dreading the moment I have to return it. However, I’ve decided that I must own a copy and will be purchasing it soon.
One of my biggest pet peeves in fantasy novels is how rough women have it. Seriously, why do so many women get walked over, raped, mistreated, and spit on in fantasy books? If it’s a fantasy story any way, why can’t more women be placed higher in the hierarchy? This is something I’ve asked myself every year, ever time I read a fantasy novel that I love. Yes, there are some powerful ladies in fantasy lately. Thank goodness. But how about some powerful ladies that don’t have to always prove themselves to men?
Thank you, Sarah Rees Brennan for making the elf characters of this book. I absolutely never got tired of Serene commenting on the softness of men. There’s even a moment when she interrupts a war scene to yell for men to come to the rescue of a lost child because she expects men to have the better ability to relate to the poor thing. I never got tired of this commentary and every time it happened, I smiled. I knew I needed a book that did something like this, but I guess I never knew how much I needed it: super freaking badly.
The fantastic feminist aspect of the book is actually only one of the many amazing elements that is this story. We also get a bisexual main character! I love having a main character who loves both men and women. I can’t honestly come up with another YA book that does this. Elliot falls in love with characters not based soley on what they look like (or what gender they are), but on what they believe and how many books they have in their rooms.
Elliot is such a character. He can be pretty snotty, mean, and awful at moments, but generally he is someone who can love all people and creatures. He genuinely is a paficist who believes wars can be avoided through treaties. And he sees the beauty in mermaids, harpies, and even trolls in a society of humans who of course still have prejudice against those who are different. Elliot was also born into such a terrible family. Watching him learn to love and be loved was maybe half the appeal of this remarkable character. He really does have to learn these things.
I also adored Luke. He was so used to being adored at every turn, and then comes Elliot, the meanest of all sarcastic characters, who is always pushing sweet Luke away. Their friendship to me was powerful. I loved watching Elliot learn to love Luke. I thought all the competition and jealousies between the trio made them more real. Nothing was ever truly easy for any of them.
While this is a fantasy that takes place over various wars, treaties, magic school years, and battles, it is mostly a character driven book. It is not a book for people who need heavier plots in their fantasy. It is a book for character lovers and world builders. This world is so magically interesting and believable at the same time. The battles among the different creatures seem like battles that can take place between different groups of humans; they are about land mostly, and honor…
Brennan develops this whole sense of mythology to her world where I was just as interested as Elliot to learn about it. I would read another book in this world if she wrote one.
This is also a book that pokes fun at is own genre. It kind of plays with the concept of what is expected in YA/Middle Grade fantasy and flips it around. It plays with gender, sexuality, and romance. But it also plays with the reader’s expectations of school, friendships, love triangles, popularity, athleticism, etc. It pokes fun of chosen ones and boys who can see the magical divide. It’s a book that both satirizes it’s genre and bends it genre into something new and better.
I can probably go on and on about this book and dissect it way past the point where anyone would keep reading my review. But, I’ll stop. I love this book. I can’t wait for more people to read it. I give it a 10/10.

Wednesday, September 6, 2017

Waiting on Wednesday (236)

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 Last Girl on Earth by Alexandra Blogier (1/23/2018):

Description on Goodreads:
Li has a father and a sister who love her. A best friend, Mirabae, to share things with. She goes to school and hangs out at the beach and carefully follows the rules. She has to. Everyone she knows--her family, her teachers, her friends--is an alien. And she is the only human left on Earth.

A secret that could end her life.

The Abdoloreans hijacked the planet sixteen years ago, destroying all human life. Li's human-sympathizer father took her in as a baby and has trained her to pass as one of them. The Abdoloreans appear human. But they don't think with human minds or feel with human hearts. And they have special abilities no human could ever have.

Fit in or die.

When Li meets Ryn, she's swept up in a relationship that could have disastrous consequences. How far will Li go to stay alive? Will she save herself--and in turn, the human race--or will she be the final witness to humanity's destruction?
Why I’m Waiting:
This sounds so cool! I love the idea of a YA main character being the last human on Earth. I’ve read sci-fi where there’s only one human on an alien planet. But to have only one human left on this planet? And needing to fit in with the aliens that killed everyone else? This sounds epic.
What are you waiting on this week?

Tuesday, September 5, 2017

Words in Deep Blue by Cath Crowley

Summary from Goodreads:
Love lives between the lines.

Years ago, Rachel had a crush on Henry Jones. The day before she moved away, she tucked a love letter into his favorite book in his family’s bookshop. She waited. But Henry never came.

Now Rachel has returned to the city—and to the bookshop—to work alongside the boy she’d rather not see, if at all possible, for the rest of her life. But Rachel needs the distraction, and the escape. Her brother drowned months ago, and she can’t feel anything anymore. She can’t see her future.

Henry’s future isn’t looking too promising, either. His girlfriend dumped him. The bookstore is slipping away. And his family is breaking apart.

As Henry and Rachel work side by side—surrounded by books, watching love stories unfold, exchanging letters between the pages—they find hope in each other. Because life may be uncontrollable, even unbearable sometimes. But it’s possible that words, and love, and second chances are enough.
I’m hitting a reading jackpot lately! Seriously, I was in a bit of slump and nothing was appealing to me. And all of a sudden, wham, everything is unbelievable. I received an ARC of this book months ago, with no knowledge of what it was about. I also am only now noticing how cute the cover is. It’s a cover made up of books!
Basically, I just read it because I wanted a fluffy sounding paperback to take with me to the beach. I’m at the end of my much pined for week of vacation (that I always take at the end of the summer to recuperate from Summer Reading and spend time with my mom). I thought this sounded like a nice beach book.
It’s not quite as fluffy as I was hoping for. There is some serious sadness in this book. I shed a few tears at certain moments. It’s one thing to read about a YA main character who has lost a parent, but it’s quite another when she has lost a sibling. I felt so sad for Rachel on various levels. I of course felt bad about her brother. But, also I felt bad that her best friend/crush of many years never responded to her. Unrequited love is the worst.
That being said, it quickly became clear to me why Henry never got back to her. And it was slightly annoying that this thought never occurred to Rachel. I guess this speaks volumes for how kind and good she is. Also, I like that both Rachel and Henry got to be with other people and learn from past mistakes. I also love that there were side love stories too. I found George to be so interesting and l loved her letter-writing relationship.
Mostly, though, what stands out in this books is the books. The bookstore where the characters work, love, and live is magical. I want to go there. I want to fall asleep in the fiction section. I want to go to the book club and talk with all the regulars. I want to have dumplings once a week and talk about what I’m reading. This setting for growing up is a dream. I loved the scenes that took place at clubs and outside, but really, I kept counting my time until I could return to the bookstore.
This is another book for booklovers. It’s filled with fiction, poetry, nonfiction, classics, and more. There’s a place called the letter library, where characters are supposed to write in the margins of books that can never go out. They write letters to each other there too. What a romantic, beautiful concept.
I loved the characters though maybe Rachel was a little too good/na├»ve. I loved the audlts in the background. I also loved the friends who were going through their own dramas as compared to just being their for the main character’s play. Sometimes it’s hard for me to immerse myself in the language of Australian books because things can get said that are so out of context for me that I get taken out of the story and have to think too much. But, this was different. Everything flowed nicely. All in all I give it a 9/10.

Monday, September 4, 2017

Genuine Fraud by E. Lockhart

Summary from Goodreads:
The story of a young woman whose diabolical smarts are her ticket into a charmed life. But how many times can someone reinvent themselves? You be the judge.

Imogen is a runaway heiress, an orphan, a cook, and a cheat.
Jule is a fighter, a social chameleon, and an athlete.
An intense friendship. A disappearance. A murder, or maybe two.
A bad romance, or maybe three.
Blunt objects, disguises, blood, and chocolate. The American dream, superheroes, spies, and villains.
A girl who refuses to give people what they want from her.
A girl who refuses to be the person she once was.
I loved this one. I read it in two sittings. One at the beach and one at home before going to bed extremely late.  It’s one of those books where you both hate and love the main character at the same time. You hate her because you quickly suspect her of foul play, most likely murder. But you love her because of how smart, bad-ass, and determined she is.
This book is unique. It’s told backwards. It literally starts at the end of the story, with the main character on the run in Mexico. She’s in disguise at a fancy hotel until she becomes aware of a cop following her. With each chapter, you’re taken back 1 week, 4 weeks, 6 weeks, etc. until you learn why the main character is running from cops in Mexico. I could see some people hating this writing style. But, for me, it worked 100%. It kept me riveted the whole time. I had to know what brought this character to this low point.
This is a short novel, but by no means an easy novel. Besides it moving backwards, it’s also loaded with references. It reads like an homage to The Talented Mr. Ripley. It also is chock-full of Victorian literature references and nods to orphan stories. There’s super hero movie references too. In a way it’s like if The Talented Mr. Ripley was re-written very specifically for me. I love super hero movies and Victorian literature. To me, Jule was a modern day Becky Sharp. I wouldn’t call her Batman or any superhero really, but I saw the similarities to Victorian orphans.
This is a book for book lovers, and definitely for English majors. It’s an English Major’s dream. Can you catch every reference this is filled with? Also, I love that a part of it takes place in Martha’s Vineyard because I live on Cape Cod, and I could picture it so well. I loved the international travel. I loved the complex relationships. I love that nothing is told for the reader straight out. You have to keep reading to see why Jule was connected to Imogen to begin with. You have to read it all the way through to find out why all these things happened.
I loved this book. It is very much not for everyone. And I can see some people struggling with the layout or even some of the intense similarities it has with a book I already mentioned. But, for me, it all fit perfectly. I give it a 9/10.

Sunday, September 3, 2017

The Love interest by Cale Dietrich

Summary from Goodreads:
There is a secret organization that cultivates teenage spies. The agents are called Love Interests because getting close to people destined for great power means getting valuable secrets.

Caden is a Nice: the boy next door, sculpted to physical perfection. Dylan is a Bad: the brooding, dark-souled guy who is dangerously handsome. The girl they are competing for is important to the organization, and each boy will pursue her. Will she choose the Nice or the Bad?

Both Caden and Dylan are living in the outside world for the first time. They are well-trained and at the top of their games. They have to be—whoever the girl doesn’t choose will die.

What the boys don’t expect are feelings that are outside of their training. Feelings that could kill them both.
I’m kind of terrible because I seriously don’t even remember requesting this from the publisher, but I totally did. And they sent it to me in exchange for an honest review. Also, unlike everyone else who read that summary, I had no idea this was a LGBT friendly book. I thought it would be both spies falling for the girl. I was pleasantly surprised when the two male spies fell for each other.
I guess I was overall pleasantly surprised. I was kind of expecting the stereotypical YA love triangle story, with some fun spy stuff throw in. And what I got instead was something that almost made fun of the typical YA love triangle and poked fun at its own genre, with some fun spy stuff thrown in.
I loved the comment from the main character about thinking its ridiculous that someone would find their soul mate in high school, and then I loved the comment back at him about needing to read a YA novel. So, yeah, this happens in a YA a lot, and I’m not sure I’ve ever read a book that both commented on it and made fun of it at the same time. I loved this. I loved that the girl had to choose between two such extremes and I can even understand why the spy organization set that up. I would find it extraordinarily flattering and confidence boosting if a scenario like this presented itself to me.  I also don’t think it’s too unbelievable that it couldn’t be done. I can see organizations wanting to set up love interests for similar purposes.
I also loved that the two guys ended up falling for each other. I’m not spoiling this because apparently other reviewers picked this up from the summary…I was surprised, which doesn’t happen that often. And I have to admit that this aspect kept me interested. I’m not sure I would have been as invested in the story if the main character fell for the girl.
On the other side of things, I felt like there were some plot holes to the story. I found the whole love interest idea to be plausible, but I did not find all things about the spy organization to be quite as believable as the concept was. For instance the chip (that gets taken out?), the amount of love interests in one school, the killer robots, and the speediness and kind of rushed way everything resolved at the end all seemed too much.
I honestly feel like the book would have been so much better with a less happy ending. I feel like a less happy ending would have been more believable for me. I’m not saying one of my favorite characters should have died or anything. I just don’t think absolutely everything should have been resolved. Also, I could have dealt without the killer robots.
All in all though, this was fun and better than expected. I love books that can make fun of themselves. I also super loved the LGBT love triangle. I loved the concept for the story. I just didn’t love the follow-through/ending. I give this a 7.5/10.

Wednesday, August 23, 2017

Waitign on Wednesday (235)

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 Heart of Mine by C.C. Hunter  (2/27/2018):
Description from Goodreads:
A new heart saved her life—but will it help her find out what really happened to its donor?

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

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

This Heart of Mine is a haunting, poignant tale about living and dying, surviving grief, guilt, and heartache, while discovering love and hope in the midst of sadness.
Why I’m Waiting:
This sounds amazing, in a weird Lifetime Original Movie type of way. I love stories that involve heart transplants. There’s just something believably magical about thinking that there’s a piece of the old person that goes into the new. I also absolutely love this author. I’ve read all of her other books. She knows how to write romance so well. And this one sounds so completely different from all of her other ones. I can’t wait to read something so new by her, but I also expect some sizzling romance here too.
What are you waiting on this week?

Monday, August 21, 2017

Jane, Unlimited by Kristin Cashore

Summary from Goodreads:
Jane has lived an ordinary life, raised by her aunt Magnolia—an adjunct professor and deep sea photographer. Jane counted on Magnolia to make the world feel expansive and to turn life into an adventure. But Aunt Magnolia was lost a few months ago in Antarctica on one of her expeditions.

Now, with no direction, a year out of high school, and obsessed with making umbrellas that look like her own dreams (but mostly just mourning her aunt), she is easily swept away by Kiran Thrash—a glamorous, capricious acquaintance who shows up and asks Jane to accompany her to a gala at her family's island mansion called Tu Reviens.

Jane remembers her aunt telling her: "If anyone ever invites to you to Tu Reviens, promise me that you'll go." With nothing but a trunkful of umbrella parts to her name, Jane ventures out to the Thrash estate. Then her story takes a turn, or rather, five turns. What Jane doesn't know is that Tu Reviens will offer her choices that can ultimately determine the course of her untethered life. But at Tu Reviens, every choice comes with a reward, or a price.
So, I have serious mixed feelings about this book. On the one hand, I love Kristin Cashore, and there is not a single doubt in my mind that she is an excellent writer. Her writing is beautiful. And she successfully changes voice, writing style, and genre five times through out this book.  On the other hand, I found the pacing to be painstakingly slow, the characters boring, and the whole thing extraordinarily repetitive (my least favorite characteristic in a book).
The book starts with the main character recovering from the loss of her guardian. Her guardian made her promise to go to Tu Reviens if she was ever invited. And an old friend/tutor shows up and invites her. From there on, Jane makes a lot of artistic umbrellas, walks a lot of gothic hallways, explores an exceptionally strange mansion, and meets new friends.
At one point, Jane has to make up her mind about which direction to go in following the breadcrumbs of a mystery. It’s a bit like a Choose-Your-Own-Adventure story in that respect. Jane goes one way, which leads her down an art theft mystery story. And right when everything concludes, the reader is taken back to that point where she has to make up her mind. She goes a different way, and then comes a spy/thriller story. That story concludes, and it all goes back to that one moment again, and then Jane experiences a horror story. This happens 5 times with 5 different genres of story. You don’t choose your adventure; you have to experience all 5.
As a writer and a creative thinker, I appreciate all the work and fun this author must have had in making this novel. There are little Eggs about parallel universes, other versions of oneself, etc in each story. You have to read each story to have the following story make more sense. However, it gets so repetitive. Having to watch the same scene with the same character freak out about a piece of art was highly annoying. I got bored with the similarities. At first it was kind of fun, searching for the similarities while experiencing something new. But, after this repeats a couple of times, I got rather frustrated.
There was a weird number of Winnie the Pooh references. At first I loved this because I’m a children’s librarian, but then even that got annoying. Some parts of the plot were just not comparable to Pooh and Piglet, and it felt like the author was stretching things to make things work sometimes. Some of the stories really were so far fetched. For some reason, the sci-fi one felt more believable than the horror one, which was just plain weird. They all had a weirdness to them, but that one was like the others mixed with a healthy dose of Lewis Carroll on drugs.
I wanted to love this one. I loved this author’s other work. I love the diverse cast. I love the concept of this book –a book that redefines genre. But, it’s super thick, confusing, and slow. I found some of the side characters kind of interesting, but none of them were flushed out enough in any of the stories for me to genuinely care about them. And Jane just felt too normal (minus the umbrella thing). I kept wanting to like her, but like the book, I couldn’t really.
So, I guess, all in all, power to Kristin Cashore for doing something different. It just wasn’t for me. The repetitive slowness was a big damper. I wanted to like the characters more. Though, I absolutely adored the dog. I love the idea of what the author attempted. It just took so long for me to understand it and then I almost didn’t even finish it. It took me 2 weeks to read (a very long time). I give it a 5/10.

Thursday, August 17, 2017

So Long and Thanks for All the Fish by Douglas Adams and read by Martin Freeman

Summary from Goodreads:
Back on Earth with nothing more to show for his long, strange trip through time and space than a ratty towel and a plastic shopping bag, Arthur Dent is ready to believe that the past eight years were all just a figment of his stressed-out imagination. But a gift-wrapped fishbowl with a cryptic inscription, the mysterious disappearance of Earth's dolphins, and the discovery of his battered copy of The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy all conspire to give Arthur the sneaking suspicion that something otherworldly is indeed going on. . . .

God only knows what it all means. And fortunately, He left behind a Final Message of explanation. But since it's light-years away from Earth, on a star surrounded by souvenir booths, finding out what it is will mean hitching a ride to the far reaches of space aboard a UFO with a giant robot. But what else is new?
So, I definitely think this was the weirdest book in the series. I thought the other stories were strange at times. This one was like the others, but on acid. Seriously. It included naked, flying sex scenes in the clouds. And, there were inside out houses. And final messages from God (which was sort of disappointing).  And a guy who brings rain with him everywhere he goes. Yet, I think it’s actually one of my favorite books in the series (maybe it’s my second favorite after the first book).
I had some serious “Woa!” moments in this book where a lot of things clicked. But, I also had some serious frustrated moments too. Like, I thought Earth was gone…How is Arthur there? And how does Fenchurch know something else must have happened? I loved how important the dolphins ended up being. The message they left in the fishbowls had me laughing out loud for several minutes.
So much about this book had me laughing out loud for several minutes. When aliens finally land on earth, a robot comes out of the ship and says, “I come in peace. Take me to your lizard.” Apparently, on his planet, lizards were the ones in charge…I also loved when Arthur kept trying to write a check to his favorite charity, to save the dolphins and the charity kept telling him to get out. He didn’t understand that all the dolphins had gone.
I liked that there was finally a little romance element to the story. It was nice seeing Arthur happy. It was also nice seeing Arthur as the more rational one in comparison to Ford Prefect. I loved when Ford met Fenchurch. I loved when Marvin came back into the picture. He had to explain to Arthur that he couldn’t be fixed with any more pieces. That over the millions of years, everything had been replaced except for one thing. The one thing that caused him pain in book 1…that he mentioned to Arthur and wished could be replaced all those millions of years ago. Oh, Marvin…
I think I’m going to end my reading of this series here because I like where things ended. My library system doesn’t have the last book on audio book. But, also, I have researched this series and this author. I know that the author’s last book is miserable and ends with a lot of death. Apparently, he always intended to write one more that brought everyone back in a happy note. He commented in interviews that he was in a bad mood while writing it. But, he passed away before writing that happy book. That is pretty much my worst nightmare in regards to authors and series. So, I think it’s healthier overall to end it here.
I’ve had an amazingly fun journey listening to all of them. I loved listening to Martin Freeman every day. I loved the characters, the humor, the setting, the absurdity, the strangeness, and the deeper levels of philosophy achieved here. All in all, I give this one a 9/10 (and I probably give the whole series a 9/10 also).

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Waiting on Wednesday (234)

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 Defiant by Leslie Livingston (2/13/2018):

Description on Goodreads:
The darling of the Roman Empire is in for the fight of her life.

Be brave, gladiatrix… And be wary. Once you win Caesar’s love, you’ll earn his enemies’ hate.

Fallon was warned.

Now she is about to pay the price for winning the love of the Roman people as Caesar’s victorious gladiatrix.

In this highly anticipated sequel to THE VALIANT, Fallon and her warrior sisters find themselves thrust into a vicious conflict with a rival gladiator academy, one that will threaten not only Fallon’s heart – and her love for Roman soldier Cai – but the very heart of the ancient Roman Empire.

When dark treachery and vicious power struggles threaten her hard-won freedom, the only thing that might help the girl known as Victrix save herself and her sisters is a tribe of long-forgotten mythic Amazon warriors.

The only trouble is, they might just kill her themselves first.
Why I’m Waiting:
I was seriously impressed with book 1. It was one non-stop action movie of a YA novel. And I can’t wait to see where the story continues in book 2. That description sounds mighty promising. Also, Amazons? Yes please. The world needs more books with strong, fierce female warriors in them.
What are you waiting on this week?

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Coming Up for Aiir by Miranda Kenneally

Summary from Goodreads:
Swim. Eat. Shower. School. Snack. Swim. Swim. Swim. Dinner. Homework. Bed. Repeat.

All of Maggie’s focus and free time is spent swimming. She’s not only striving to earn scholarships—she’s training to qualify for the Olympics. It helps that her best friend, Levi, is also on the team and cheers her on. But Levi’s already earned an Olympic tryout, so Maggie feels even more pressure to succeed. And it’s not until Maggie’s away on a college visit that she realizes how much of the “typical” high school experience she’s missed by being in the pool.

Not one to shy away from a challenge, Maggie decides to squeeze the most out of her senior year. First up? Making out with a guy. And Levi could be the perfect candidate. After all, they already spend a lot of time together. But as Maggie slowly starts to uncover new feelings for Levi, how much is she willing to sacrifice in the water to win at love?
I love this author. I love how relatable all her main characters are. I love her focus on girl athletes. And I love that the sport or point of focus for these girls isn’t all that defines them.
If there were one main character whose sport defined them the most though, it would be Maggie. She lives and breathes swimming. And finally, I read about a girl who played the same sport as me. I was on a swim team for four years. I’ve done the super early practices. And I’ve done the weekend long meets. I knew all about the strokes, the times, the pools, and everything. And it felt so nice to read about a girl who did the same thing as me…except, who took it a lot more seriously.
I love that Maggie works so hard for it. She isn’t a naturally good athlete. She spends hours every day working to be better. I love that her flaws involve watching other swimmers and speeding up too early. What teen girl can’t fall behind, wasting time thinking about where others are and what others are doing? I love that she discovers a talent for a different stroke. I love her parents and their support.
I liked that this was about Maggie growing up and becoming a woman as much as it was about her working to become an Olympic athlete. I loved her rivalry with another swimmer. I loved her close group of friends who all related to the focus and drive needed to play a sport competitively. Though, there was a little bit of a cheese factor with them. Like they were almost too convenient and always said just the right thing.
Maggie took some getting used to. It took me a little longer to fully love her as a main character. I think this is because of how good she is. But as I read this, the more I loved her because she wanted more. I also super loved the romance. I love romance that starts as friendship. I love how awkward things are between the friends in the beginning. And I love that they both have to figure out what exactly it is that they want from each other. And I also love that swimming is first for Maggie. Always.
All in all, this was another fun installment for Miranda Keanneally. I read it super fast and it was the exact, light hearted romance I needed to read this summer. It’s not my favorite of the author’s works, but I really enjoyed it. I give it an 8/10.

Monday, August 14, 2017

A Good Week in Books (169)

I have one more week of craziness at work, and then things can back to a more a normal schedule. And hopefully, I can back into a more regular reading schedule. I did read one contemporary romance this week. And I finished my sci-fi audio book. I’ll be done with an ARC of Kristin Cashore’s latest soon. I didn’t exactly receive or purchase any new books this week. However, I did pick up some other awesomely geeky things from Boston Comic Con, one of which includes a signed comic book.  So, I thought I’d share.
My Comic Con treasures (minus some presents for people I can’t risk them seeing):

2 TeeTurtle T-shirts (one Harry Potter related)
1 Signed Buffy combicbook
1 Diagon Alley poster
1 Ask Us About Our Feminist Agenda poster
1 Kiki’s Delivery Service mashed up with Harry Potter poster
1 Spike (from Buffy) poster
1 mini TeeTurtle dinosaur poster (free with shirts)
1 pair of Lego Ron and Lego Hermione earrings
At the con, I met and talked with a lot of cool people, saw some awesome cosplay, and went to some seriously cool and Geeky Panels (one with Sailor Jupiter, one with Anthony Daniels –aka: C-3PO, and one with Eliza Dushku from Buffy/Angel/Doll House/etc). Needless to say, a fun weekend was had.  On to my last crazy Summer Reading week.
How was your week in books?

Thursday, August 10, 2017

Gotham Academy Second Semester Volume 1: Welcome Back by Becky Cloonan

Summary from Goodreads:
GOTHAM ACADEMY is back for its second semester!

When you're Gotham Academy student Olive Silverlock, winter holidays can be a drag. Luckily, when a new student shows up at Gotham Academy to keep her company while the other students are away, Olive finds what could be a brand new friend...or a whole lot of trouble. And when Maps, Kyle, Colton, Pomeline and the rest of the students of Gotham's #1 prep school return for a new semester, the adventures are twice as mysterious and twice as dangerous!

Every time I’m about ready to give up on this story because I think I have it all figured out, something happens and drags me back in. The first half of this installment was kind of slow and not that interesting, plot-wise. There was more Olive being mopy, and more dark, gothic background stuff about the academy –but nothing new or critical. Then finally, stuff got more interesting when the rest of the crew returns.
Students start disappearing and it’s soon discovered that they are being recruited by a Witch club. And it’s not a friendly group of witches –more like a group of brain washed students doing terrible things like burning books and abandoning their friends. And if in case that wasn’t enough to wheel me back into the swing of things, in comes an epic twist that I did not see coming at all.
And finally, a major development for Olive happens, something I’ve been waiting for since probably the first installment of these graphic novels. And I’m so glad, I got to witness this. I can’t wait to see where the story goes from this point on.
I love the side characters in this almost more than the main characters. They are all developed in a way I wish all side characters in all stories to be. I also love the setting. Everything about Gotham Academy is dark, mysterious, and creepy. I would seriously love this to be a TV show. I think this would make for best tv show set.
The one thing that irks me sometimes is the writing. There’s a lot of slow moments –like the author has to build up to being good again. And there seems to be a lot of extra filler that doesn’t need to be there. That being said, the writers are good at getting my attention back after all the filler. All in all, I give this an 8/10.

Wednesday, August 9, 2017

Waiting on Wednesday (233)

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:  Olivia Twist by Lorie Langdon (3/6/2018):

Description from Goodreads:
Olivia Brownlow is no damsel in distress. Born in a workhouse and raised as a boy among thieving London street gangs, she is as tough and cunning as they come. When she is taken in by her uncle after a caper gone wrong, her life goes from fighting and stealing on the streets to lavish dinners and soirees as a debutante in high society. But she can’t seem to escape her past … or forget the teeming slums where children just like her still scrabble to survive.

Jack MacCarron rose from his place in London’s East End to become the adopted “nephew” of a society matron. Little does society know that MacCarron is a false name for a boy once known among London gangs as the Artful Dodger, and that he and his “aunt” are robbing them blind every chance they get. When Jack encounters Olivia Brownlow in places he least expects, his curiosity is piqued. Why is a society girl helping a bunch of homeless orphan thieves? Even more intriguing, why does she remind him so much of someone he once knew? Jack finds himself wondering if going legit and risking it all might be worth it for love.

Olivia Twist is an innovative reimagining of Charles Dickens’ classic tale Oliver Twist, in which Olivia was forced to live as a boy for her own safety until she was rescued from the streets. Now eighteen, Olivia finds herself at a crossroads: revealed secrets threaten to destroy the “proper” life she has built for her herself, while newfound feelings for an arrogant young man she shouldn’t like could derail her carefully laid plans for the future.
Why I’m Waiting:
You can’t always tell this by the books I most commonly read, but I seriously love the Classics. I was an English Major after all. One of my all time favorite classic writers is Charles Dickens. I am beyond excited to not only get a YA retelling of Oliver Twist, but a YA retelling of Oliver Twist, where Oliver is a girl! The romance, the secrets, the espionage, and the characters of this retelling sound splendid! 2018 looks like it will be a wonderful year for YA.
What are you waiting on this week?

Tuesday, August 8, 2017

There's Someone Inside Your House by Stephanie Perkins

Summary from Goodreads:
Scream meets YA in this hotly-anticipated new novel from the bestselling author of Anna and the French Kiss.

One-by-one, the students of Osborne High are dying in a series of gruesome murders, each with increasing and grotesque flair. As the terror grows closer and the hunt intensifies for the killer, the dark secrets among them must finally be confronted.

International bestselling author Stephanie Perkins returns with a fresh take on the classic teen slasher story that’s fun, quick-witted, and completely impossible to put down.
For the first time ever, I found a Stephanie Perkins book that I’m not totally in love with. I remember asking the publisher for this ARC at ALA and then practically jumping for joy when I was handed it. I remember thinking, “ I’d be fine not picking up any more books because this is all that I need.” I was kind of wrong. And I’m so glad I continued to pick up books.
I didn’t hate the book. I actually kind of loved certain parts of it. I loved the whole awkward romance story between Makani and Ollie. Everything about it was awesome. I loved the whole not knowing if it was just a summer thing and then not knowing if the other was ashamed thing. I loved how Perkins puts all doubt that runs in my head at the start of a relationship and manifests it not just in the girl’s head, but also in the guy’s. Everything felt so real with this, and wonderful.
That being said, I kind of feel like the author clearly has her strengths with contemporary type romances. And while I give her serious credit for branching outside these strengths and trying something new, her suspenseful horror writing just wasn’t cutting it for me. Every time another character was going to be murdered, the writing switches to that new character’s point of view. So…basically…the reader always knows when someone is about to die (with the exception of one mishap). And I hated this.
My favorite horror movies are the old ones. And the ironic thing is that the author even at one point refers to my favorite movie (Psycho). However, what Psycho accomplished and what this book failed at doing was seriously shocking me. I loved that the main character of Psycho dies half way through the movie. I was not suspecting that at all. I just don’t get why Perkins had to give the readers all the heads up she did when someone was about to die. It ruined all suspense and possible horror I could have had.
You also find out who the killer is rather quickly. This didn’t bother me so much because then the characters could question why the killer was doing what he/she was doing. What were the connections between the victims? I liked this element. That being said, the actual reason was super lame. Not all villains and serial killers need great reasons to do what they do; clearly, they are nuts. But, this one? It was a major disappointment for me.
Also, a major disappointment was Makani’s secret. She was holding back this major secret for most of the book. It’s the reason that led to her moving to this small, creepy town. But, I just wasn’t buying it. It didn’t seem big enough to encompass all the stress and blame that Makani had going on. Maybe if she was having some PTSD from her own experiences, I would have bought it, but it was all about the guilt she had for one moment that didn’t seem as terrible as she made it out to be.
There were some serious questions left un-answered. And okay, as I’m thinking about it now, maybe a lot of these questions were intentional red herrings. I really thought I had guessed who the killer was, but I was wrong. And maybe part of my disappointment is the fact that I couldn’t have figured it out if I wanted to. I felt a little bit jipped. But, maybe this was intentional. Sadly though, I felt a little bit jipped from a lot of different places: the killer (already mentioned), the lack of character development for the friends, the storyline with her parents having no explanation, Makani’s secret, and the final scene where it all ends.
I guess over all, Makani and Ollie were very well developed characters with a believable and shippable love story. But, everything else feel a bit flat and needed more handling. The parents, the grandma, the reason for the deaths, and the secrets (aka: everything else) needed to be more flushed out. I give this a 6/10.

Monday, August 7, 2017

A Good Week in Books (168)

I had a nice book week. Honestly, with my summer schedule, I have no idea how I read at all. I guess books keep me sane and I need all of the ones I can get my hands on over the summer. I read one ARC and one graphic novel this week. I also started a new contemporary and am about half way through my latest sci-fi audio book. I received five new books for review this week. Thank you, Macmillan. And I just have two more crazy weeks at work to go! And in 3 weeks, I have a stay-cation to look forward to (hopefully filled with books, beaches, and good food).
The new books:

The Gilded Cage by Lucinda Gray
The Beautiful Darkness by Mary E. Pearson
Love is Both Wave and Particle by Paul Cody
Whatever by S.J. Goslee
In Some Other Life by Jessica Brody
How was your week in books?

Friday, August 4, 2017

Once and For All by Sarah Dessen

Summary from Goodreads:
As bubbly as champagne and delectable as wedding cake, Once and for All, Sarah Dessen's thirteenth novel, is set in the world of wedding planning, where crises are routine.

Louna, daughter of famed wedding planner Natalie Barrett, has seen every sort of wedding: on the beach, at historic mansions, in fancy hotels and clubs. Perhaps that's why she's cynical about happily-ever-after endings, especially since her own first love ended tragically. When Louna meets charming, happy-go-lucky serial dater Ambrose, she holds him at arm's length. But Ambrose isn't about to be discouraged, now that he's met the one girl he really wants.

Sarah Dessen’s many, many fans will adore her latest, a richly satisfying, enormously entertaining story that has everything—humor, romance, and an ending both happy and imperfect, just like life itself.
Oh, Sarah Dessen, I have missed you. Reading her books always feels like such a treat. Like, magically traveling to Paris for a few moments just to eat the perfect croissant. I’m not saying her book is a perfect croissant or that it comes remotely close to Paris geographically; I’m saying reading her books makes for the perfect little moments of me time. Such a treat.
I read this book in less than 24 hours. I ate it up. It’s not my favorite Sarah Dessen novel, but it’s up there. It’s just what I needed at the right time. I needed something good that would help me unwind from an insanely busy week, and a super fun and busy weekend. This was it.
I’ve read reviews that say this one is darker than other Dessen novels. Yes, there is some dark stuff in here, but…have these reviewers read her other books? There’s always something a little dark or intense there: divorce, grief, scandal, family drama, etc. Okay, this one is a little more current with its darkness –there is a school shooting to be blamed for Louna’s grief. But, I didn’t think it was any darker than the Dessen book about the abusive relationship.
I thought this element gave the story some interesting depth. And I certainly know that Dessen must have experiencedd some serious grief in her time because she writes it so well, in a way I could seriously relate to (with my grief over the loss of my dad). Her writing, in general, seems to only improve with each book. She knows how to write teen girls so well. She knows how to get into their heads and sometimes it just feels like she must be in my head too.
I liked the side characters. I loved Louna’s interesting life and family. Teen wedding planners was not something I ever thought I’d get a chance to read. And I love how cynical it makes the main character. I loved every scene that took place at a wedding. All the time between weddings, I kept hoping for more. It was like an inside look at a super great reality show –but written exceptionally well.
I wasn’t a humongous fan of the love interest. He seemed a bit much. I do like hate-to-friendship-to-love stories a lot. But, he seemed kinda terrible –like lacking in general morals. He dated multiple girls at once and didn’t treat girls all too well. Why am I to assume he’ll treat Louna better? Does love change someone into a nicer human being? I do get that he’s charming and he and Louna have chemistry, but I was kind of hoping he’d become a little bit nicer or need to prove to everyone that he could be worth of Louna.
All in all though, I super enjoyed this one. I wish Dessen would write more frequently. Though, I guess if she did, it wouldn’t seem so much like a Parisian treat. All in all, I give this a 9/10.