Tuesday, July 8, 2014

New Releases: July 8th, 2014

It's Release Day!!  Here are some of the new books that I am excited about this week!

The Half Life of Molly Pierce by Katrina Leno 

You take it for granted. Waking up. Going to school, talking to your friends. Watching a show on television or reading a book or going out to lunch.

You take for granted going to sleep at night, getting up the next day, and remembering everything that happened to you before you closed your eyes.

You live and you remember.

Me, I live and I forget.

But now—now I am remembering.

For all of her seventeen years, Molly feels like she’s missed bits and pieces of her life. Now, she’s figuring out why. Now, she’s remembering her own secrets. And in doing so, Molly uncovers the separate life she seems to have led…and the love that she can’t let go.

The Half Life of Molly Pierce is a suspenseful, evocative psychological mystery about uncovering the secrets of our pasts, facing the unknowns of our futures, and accepting our whole selves.

Midnight Thief by Livia Blackburne

Growing up on Forge’s streets has taught Kyra how to stretch a coin. And when that’s not enough, her uncanny ability to scale walls and bypass guards helps her take what she needs.

But when the leader of the Assassins Guild offers Kyra a lucrative job, she hesitates. She knows how to get by on her own, and she’s not sure she wants to play by his rules. But he’s persistent—and darkly attractive—and Kyra can’t quite resist his pull.

Tristam of Brancel is a young Palace knight on a mission. After his best friend is brutally murdered by Demon Riders, a clan of vicious warriors who ride bloodthirsty wildcats, Tristam vows to take them down. But as his investigation deepens, he finds his efforts thwarted by a talented thief, one who sneaks past Palace defenses with uncanny ease.

When a fateful raid throws Kyra and Tristam together, the two enemies realize that their best chance at survival—and vengeance—might be to join forces. And as their loyalties are tested to the breaking point, they learn a startling secret about Kyra’s past that threatens to reshape both their lives.

 The Country of Ice Cream Star by Sandra Newman 

A post-apocalyptic literary epic in the tradition of The Handmaid's Tale, Divergent and Cloud Atlas, and a breakout book in North America for a writer of rare and unconventional talent.
     From Guardian First Book Award finalist Sandra Newman comes an ambitious and extraordinary novel of a future in which bands of children and teens survive on the detritus--physical and cultural--of a collapsed America. When her brother is struck down by Posies--a contagion that has killed everyone by their late teens for generations--fifteen-year-old Ice Cream Star pursues the rumour of a cure and sets out on a quest to save him, her tribe and what's left of their future. Along the way she faces broken hearts and family tragedy, mortal danger and all-out war--and much growing up for the girl who may have led herself and everyone she loves to their doom.

Saturday, July 5, 2014

Stacking the Shelves - July 5, 2014


Stacking The Shelves hosted by Tynga's Reviews.  It is all about sharing the books you are adding to your shelves, may it be physical or virtual. This means you can include books you buy in physical store or online, books you borrow from friends or the library, review books, gifts and of course ebooks!


Thursday, July 3, 2014

Book Review: Fan Art by Sarah Tregay

Title: Fan Art
Author: Sarah Tregay
Publisher: Katherine Tegan Books
Release Date: June 17, 2014
Rating: 2/5

Cover Impressions:
I really liked it when I first saw it, but, having read the book, I feel like there was so much more potential cover fodder that they could have used.  I would have loved to see part of the actual comic that was such an important part of the story.

The Gist:
In Jamie Peterson's high school being gay is right up there with kicking puppies and stealing candy from babies.  He is out, but only to his mom and is trying to hide who he is from the rest of the town, including his best friend who he maybe, kinda, sorta, definitely likes.  The art girls in his school have created a fantasy world where they are together and their interference, not to mention their artwork, threaten to crumble the walls Jaime has so carefully built. 


I really wanted to love this book.  It had a nice premise - not the most unique but fair enough.  It had a great forbidden romance angle - who hasn't pined after someone that they thought they could never have?  There were some side characters who were enjoyable - though they didn't get nearly enough page time.  I guess where it really fell flat for me was the conflict.  I just didn't care that much about the literary magazine (P.S how many high schools actually have these things?  I feel like every other YA book is featuring one nowadays) I get it, the comic was good and it was a step towards showing the LGBTQ kids that they were not alone, but the way Jaime went about including it annoyed me and I got bored to tears every time he went to another office to check font or color or whatever.

When he wasn't making terrible decisions to hijack his way into a magazine, Jaime was whining about how he loved his best friend and trying to tell the reader that his gayness should be a big secret because he didn't play with dolls as a kid and he took pains to never dress nice or stand out in a crowd.  Way to perpetuate some stereotypes Jaime!  Meanwhile, it was painfully obvious to everyone but him that, not only was he gay, but he was in love with his best friend who - to the surprise of NO ONE - clearly loved him back.  Despite all of this being clear, we had to spend the entire book getting Jaime to put down the I'm Not Gay sign (that no one was buying anyhow) and see it for himself. 

Teaching/Parental Notes:

15 and up
Sex: Kissing
Violence: Child Abuse
Inappropriate Language: Pissed, Fag, Queer, Tit, Pussy
Substance Use/Abuse: Underage Drinking

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

First Lines: June 2014

The first words you read can often set the tone for the entire story.  I thought it would be fun to keep track of the first lines of the books I read each month and share them with you.  Below are the first lines for all the books I read in June.

 The Martian by Andy Weir
"I'm pretty much fucked."

Don't You Forget About Me by Kate Karyus Quinn
"It was a bizarre May day parade at midnight instead of midday."

 Fan Art by Sarah Tregay
" 'Nah,' I say about the brunette at the next table."

Midnight Thief by Livia Blackburne
"This job could kill her."

I am really hoping to be on the other side of my reading slump.  May and June were incredibly busy and I just couldn't seem to garner the least motivation to read anything.  So, things have been slow going, hence the slim pickings for first lines this month.

My favorite first line was definitely from The Martian.  It told so much about the situation and the character in just four words.  Don't You Forget About Me also get an honorable mention for drawing me into the scene.

My least favorite line was from Fan Art.  It just didn't grab me at all. 

Monday, June 30, 2014

Book Review: Don't You Forget About Me by Kate Karyus Quinn

Title: Don't You Forget About Me
Author: Kate Karyus Quinn
Publisher: Harper Teen
Release Date: June 10, 2014
Rating: 4/5

Cover Impressions: 
So pretty, though I don't quite connect the tree with the story.  I would have loved to see something around the Rehabilitation Center or the Forget-Me-Nots.

The Gist:
At first glance, Gardnerville is a magical place where the dying experience a miracle cure and no one ever gets sick.  However, no great magic comes without a price and Gardnerville is no exception.  In cycles of four years, the teens in town undergo a transformation.  Some might walk off never to return, others might set a building on fire.  In fourth years, things get even more dangerous and lives are often lost.  Skyler struggles to forget the fourth year when her sister, Piper, led the town's teens on a parade that ended in a plunge off a bridge.  Popping pills and avoiding people, she tries to numb the pain but she cannot escape the fact that a fourth year is coming, and her own inner demons are calling from the depths. 


I loved Another Little Piece and was very excited to see what Kate Karyus Quinn had in store for this novel.  Again, I adore her world building.  The town of Gardnerville is like nothing I have encountered before.  Magic simmers just below the surface and erupts with volcanic power and devastating consequences.  I am a huge fan of the premise that great magic requires great sacrifice and the way KKQ has created an idyllic small town with a very dark secret was whimsical, but with a serious bite. 

Each inhabitant of Gardnerville seemed more interesting than the last.  Each had their own story and I loved seeing them play out through Skyler's story.  I found it hard to sympathize with Skyler as she numbed her pain with pills but I could see how she struggled to maintain a grip on a reality she had spent so long altering.  I was not a fan of the love interest and could really have done without it or him.  Likewise, the "Bad Guy" (whose name I have forgotten).  Perhaps I could have enjoyed his character a little more, had it not been for the fact that he was a teacher who was (at one point) involved with a student.  The ick factor on that one is just too high for me and I cannot deal with it nor get past it. 

KKQ's manner of storytelling continues to be unique and intriguing.  We chase Skyler's memories through the rabbit hole and end up in a place that is even more dark and disturbing than the Gardnerville we had thought we had known.  I will say, though the twists were interesting and well-planned, I did figure them out far in advance of the plot.  This is certainly not meant to be a deterrent for another reader, I just was so hoping for a shocking surprise and didn't get it. 

I love Kate Karyus Quinn's writing and will be signing on for anything else that she writes. 

Teaching/Parental Notes:

15 and up
Sex: Alluded to
Violence: A number of violent deaths: drowning, suicide, etc Sexual Abuse of a Child
Inappropriate Language: Bastard, Asshole, Fucking, Pissed, Shit, Bloody
Substance Use/Abuse: Drug use

Saturday, May 3, 2014

Stacking the Shelves - May 3, 2014


Stacking The Shelves hosted by Tynga's Reviews.  It is all about sharing the books you are adding to your shelves, may it be physical or virtual. This means you can include books you buy in physical store or online, books you borrow from friends or the library, review books, gifts and of course ebooks!


Thursday, May 1, 2014

ARC Book Review: Flights and Chimes and Mysterious Times by Emma Trevayne

Title: Flights and Chimes and Mysterious Times
Author: Emma Trevayne
Publisher: Simon and Schuster
Release Date: May 13th, 2014
Rating: 4/5

Cover Impressions: 
One of the most beautiful middle grade covers that I have ever seen.  I love the colors and the detail in the city.  There is so much to look at, my eye keeps moving across the image to discover new details.  I can't wait to see this one in person.

The Gist:
When a mysterious magic man visits Jack Foster's mother, he is only slightly curious.  When this same man offers to take Jack away and teach him, he becomes more so.  When the man disappears through a mysterious doorway - Jack finds that he must follow him.  On the other side, he discovers a world that mirrors his own, but with strange and wondrous differences.  Metal seems to have permeated peoples' very bones and clockwork creatures roam the land.  It is ruled by a Lady that never ages and whose outrageous demands must be met or the world will face dire consequences.  Her newest desire is for Jack to act as her perfect, unaltered son.  Jack soon discovers that this mysterious world has a dark side and that he is not as safe as he might have thought.  With the doorway closed, he must find a new way to return home to London, and all his hopes rest in a fairy tale creature that may not even exist. 


Just one page in, this novel's narration style had won me over.  It was beautiful to the ear and I could almost hear Geoffrey Holder (the beautiful narrator from Charlie and the Chocolate factory) telling me the story in his deep tones.  The premise behind this story is really interesting and I love the idea of an alternative London, once that is much more dark and mysterious.  In the second half, we got to see a really fun twist on the phoenix myth and I appreciated the author's skill in making such an ancient and powerful story fit within the world that she had created.

I did find the main character a little difficult to like.  Jack wasn't particularly interesting and, for much of the book, merely allowed himself to be pulled along by the actions of the other characters rather than to be an active component in the plot.  This did get better in the second half of the book, once Jack falls from favor and learns about the darkness that really lurks in Londinium. I also didn't really connect with the two adults characters, Dr. Snailwater and Xeno, but I loved Beth.  It is strange, that, despite being the only character who is not quite human, she is the most fun and caring individual.  
I did have some issues with the ending, but only in that I wanted a little more information.  I would have loved to discover where the Lady came from and why she never ages, but I understand that this was not necessarily important to THIS story.  Perhaps a prequel or novella would satiate my curiosity.  

Flights and Chimes and Mysterious times features really lovely writing and a fun story.  I am still not a convert to the whole steampunk genre, but this is a much more enjoyable example than many of the others that I have read.

Teaching/Parental Notes:

10 and up
Sex: None
Violence: Hangings, Loss of a hand,
Inappropriate Language: None
Substance Use/Abuse: None