Thursday, July 31, 2014

ARC Book Review: Midnight Thief by Livia Blackburne

Title: Midnight Thief
Author: Livia Blackburne
Publisher: Disney-Hyperion
Release Date: July 8th, 2014
Rating: 2/5

Cover Impressions: 
This cover is just stunning.  It is the real reason that I picked it up in the first place.  I can't wait to see if the next one follows the same theme. 


Kyra has gained a reputation as a girl who can get into any building.  Stealing coin from the richer part of town keeps her from starving but not much else.  When the leader of the assassin's guild offers her a job that will allow her to take care of those she cares about, Kyra agrees.  Before long, the desire to prove herself leads her deeper and deeper into the guild's secrets and, when Kyra refuses to play by their rules, she learns it is not so easy, or safe, to go back to her old life.  

Midnight Thief has a rather generic feel.  Despite the fantastic cover, there isn't much content to make this stand out from other mildly fantastical novels.  Kyra is an orphan girl, trying to make it in a cruel and difficult world, who is chosen by a super secret society because she is oh-so-special.  The worldbuilding doesn't get really interesting until over halfway through the novel.  Once it does, things pick up, but by that point I had mostly lost interest. 

The characters, for their part, are rather bland.  Kyra doesn't have a great deal of personality to build the plot around.  Tristam was equally uninteresting and I felt no chemistry between the two main characters.  The romantic angle felt forced and, in the end, didn't really amount to much.  There were some side characters who showed promise, like Flick and Martin, but they didn't enough play to have that pan out.

Overall, the biggest downfall for me was the fact that there were a lot of threads - the corruption of the governement, the tactics of the assassin's guild, and the barbarian attacks - which caused the plot to be spread a little thing.  As a result, none of them had any forward movement or sense of momentum.  I realize that this is the first of a series, but I was still hoping for a little more headway in the whole "our government is corrupt and our people are miserable" storyline.

With a stronger second half, I was able to give a little more credit to this novel, but it was mostly a case of too little, too late.  

Teaching/Parental Notes:

13 and up
Sex: None
Violence: Death by: Poisoning, Knife
Inappropriate Language: None
Substance Use/Abuse: None

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.