April 22, 2015

Mini Reviews: Play Me Backwards; Murder is Bad Manners; 3:59

3 frosted gingersnaps.

I started this book in the fall then took a break because the release date was so far away.  That probably wasn't the best idea because my interest waned greatly when I picked it back up.  Although I adored Hazel's voice and loved the setting, the mystery didn't really keep my interest.  I kept getting the teachers confused and there was a lot of clues and false leads to follow, which I didn't do very well.  Here is a link to the synopsis from GoodReads if you'd like to learn more about this book.

3 peanut butter cookies

This is a book that caught my attention when it first came out.  I downloaded an egalley but it expired before I had a chance to read it.  When I was looking at the shelves in my public library I came across it again and since I just love the playfulness of the cover I decided to read it.
I really liked Leon and have known a lot of Leons in my time.  The kids that just prefer to not put themselves out there, to not be exceptional, to just slack off.   They are also the kids that frustrate the heck out of teachers because they have so much more potential than they are exhibiting.  But you know what, you have the rest of your life to be stressed, why not relax when you are still young?  Too mature for a middle school library but I thought this was a fun read and many YA readers would enjoy it.  Here's the link to the synopsis from GoodReads if you'd like to learn more about this book.

4 frosted oatmeal cookies.

I loved the idea of the alternate reality in this book, but it wasn't an overly cheerful place to live.  Josie was kind of a pain in the butt in the beginning and the fact that she was so caught up in her perceived feelings for Nick, when she was the one that ignored him until he left her, was very annoying.   However, she got completely played by Jo and finally did some growing up to save herself, her friends and her family.  Interesting and suspenseful, I am buying this one for my library. Here's a link the synopsis from GoodReads if you'd like to learn more about this book.

April 21, 2015

My Thoughts: Me and Earl and the Dying Girl by Jesse Andrews

 4 lemon Oreos.

Cover Love:  I like this cover a lot.  It's eye catching and each pane tells a little about each character.

Why I Wanted to Read This:
I didn't.  I passed it up when I had the opportunity to read an egalley and didn't give it another thought...until the movie was made and got such stellar reviews at the Sundance Film Fesitval.  Still I wasn't sold, then the trailer was released.  Now I am a bit obsessed with it.  Here's the synopsis from GoodReads:
Greg Gaines is the last master of high school espionage, able to disappear at will into any social environment. He has only one friend, Earl, and together they spend their time making movies, their own incomprehensible versions of Coppola and Herzog cult classics.

Until Greg’s mother forces him to rekindle his childhood friendship with Rachel.

Rachel has been diagnosed with leukemia—-cue extreme adolescent awkwardness—-but a parental mandate has been issued and must be obeyed. When Rachel stops treatment, Greg and Earl decide the thing to do is to make a film for her, which turns into the Worst Film Ever Made and becomes a turning point in each of their lives.

And all at once Greg must abandon invisibility and stand in the spotlight.

Romance?: No. Just the usual teenage boy obsession with girls.

My Thoughts:
Lots of teenage boy talk.  Lost of it.  Like to the point I think even a high school library would think twice about putting this in their collection (However, a quick check tells me that my son's high school has it their collection).  This is not to say that teenage boys don't talk this way, I am sure a lot of them do.

Greg's voice is awesome.  I had very many laugh out loud moments, and a few good chuckles.The book is from Greg's point of view and his world is funky.  I am not sure why Greg wants to go around being invisible at all times, but he has some issues to say the least.  I would say it all developed when he was in high school, but it seems like he was always this way.  Never really puts himself out there and is very, very private.  But he is sharp and funny and observant.

I love Earl, or at least Greg's version of Earl.  And we don't really get to know Rachel, which is mirrored in Greg's eyes later in the book when he realizes he doesn't really know Rachel either.  Because the book is written from Greg's point of view I can see why some people would get frustrated by him as a character.  He really, really doesn't want to get involved in anyone's life.  He has to be forced to by his mom and he doesn't have a clue how to be a friend to someone.  He;s a weird guy, but very funny, guy!

I would have given this book a five cookie rating, because it was so funny and I enjoyed the heck out of reading it, except there isn't a lot of resolution or growth for Greg by the end.  With what he experienced with Rachel and seeing how she handled everything, you would think he would take more positive steps in the end towards making a change.  But I guess this was more true to life than some coming of age books, he was taking baby steps.  I just wanted more for Greg!

To Sum Up:  So glad I read this book, it kept me very entertained.  Can't wait for the movie!  Watch the trailer!

April 16, 2015

My Thoughts: Ready Player One by Ernest Cline

5 amazing and wonderful oatmeal butterscotch chip cookies.

Cover Love:
Meh.  The paperback cover is way better but this one is ok.  The colors are eye catching.

Why I Wanted to Read This:
I recall this one being touted as a good crossover (teens to adults) type book when it came out, but for some reason the synopsis never made it seem that interesting to me.  Then the news came out that Steven Spielberg* is directing the movie and I read a bit more about the author and decided to give it a try.  So very glad I did!  Here's the synopsis from GoodReads (from the paperback version, the hardback synopsis still isn't that great):
It's the year 2044, and the real world is an ugly place.

Like most of humanity, Wade Watts escapes his grim surroundings by spending his waking hours jacked into the OASIS, a sprawling virtual utopia that lets you be anything you want to be, a place where you can live and play and fall in love on any of ten thousand planets.

And like most of humanity, Wade dreams of being the one to discover the ultimate lottery ticket that lies concealed within this virtual world. For somewhere inside this giant networked playground, OASIS creator James Halliday has hidden a series of fiendish puzzles that will yield massive fortune — and remarkable power — to whoever can unlock them.

For years, millions have struggled fruitlessly to attain this prize, knowing only that Halliday's riddles are based in the pop culture he loved — that of the late twentieth century. And for years, millions have found in this quest another means of escape, retreating into happy, obsessive study of Halliday's icons. Like many of his contemporaries, Wade is as comfortable debating the finer points of John Hughes's oeuvre, playing Pac-Man, or reciting Devo lyrics as he is scrounging power to run his OASIS rig.

And then Wade stumbles upon the first puzzle.

Suddenly the whole world is watching, and thousands of competitors join the hunt — among them certain powerful players who are willing to commit very real murder to beat Wade to this prize. Now the only way for Wade to survive and preserve everything he knows is to win. But to do so, he may have to leave behind his oh-so-perfect virtual existence and face up to life — and love — in the real world he's always been so desperate to escape.

A world at stake.
A quest for the ultimate prize.
Are you ready?

Romance?: Yes, there is a romance and while it's not the main part of the story for awhile it's a big part of the story.

My Thoughts:
I fully acknowledge that one reason I love this book is all the 80's references.  Between this and the upcoming movie Pixels (this is going to be a great summer for movies!), I predict a huge resurgence of 80's interest by this current generation.  But beyond all the awesome, amazing 80's references this is a great book., with tons of action.  For the first time I read a book that dealt with virtual reality that I could actually get and see being reality in the not so distance future.  I am not saying we will all start living most of our lives there, but I could understand it more.

From the first page this book caught me.  I dreamnt about it for the two nights I was reading it and couldn't stop thinking about it most of the time I wasn't reading it.  I haven't had this in-depth of a reading experience in a long time.

I don't normally talk a lot to adults about the books I am reading because I know most of them look down their noses at YA and MG books, and while I think a lot of young adults would love this book (I am making my son read it this summer, he will love it), I know most people my age would love it.  It's not a specific genre, there is something for everyone to enjoy. 

Wade (or Parzial as his OASIS avatar is named) is awesome.  And I think the freedom of having an online persona is what makes him and most people more relate-able.  Even though they have the anonymity of a separate persona, they seem a little more real in the OASIS than their real lives. I liked that the characters Parzival has in his life (by choice and inadvertently) and all like him. I don't want to give anything away, but they are tough and smart and driven.

This book just has everything, romance, action, technology, puzzles, quests, and on and on.  Just go read it.  I cannot rave enough!

To Sum Up:  I want to hand this book to most of the people I know and watch them start the first chapter because then I know they will actually read it.

*Now that there is a director, I cannot wait to see who is cast.  A lot of people throw Nicholas Hoult's name around and I think he would be perfect!!  But I am going to trust this process because this is a book will easily translate to a movie and I am excited to see the process and watch the finished product!

April 13, 2015

My Thoughts: 99 Days by Katie Cotugno

4 frosted shortbread cookies.

Cover Love:
Yes, I do like this cover.  It tells a story itself.  Eye catching!

Why I Wanted to Read This:
The synopsis intrigued me.  It really leaves you guessing--what happened?  Why was Patrick home? Will things work out?  Here is its from GoodReads:

Day 1: Julia Donnelly eggs my house my first night back in Star Lake, and that’s how I know everyone still remembers everything—how I destroyed my relationship with Patrick the night everything happened with his brother, Gabe. How I wrecked their whole family. Now I’m serving out my summer like a jail sentence: Just ninety-nine days till I can leave for college, and be done.

Day 4: A nasty note on my windshield makes it clear Julia isn’t finished. I’m expecting a fight when someone taps me on the shoulder, but it’s just Gabe, home from college and actually happy to see me. “For what it’s worth, Molly Barlow,” he says, “I’m really glad you’re back.”

Day 12: Gabe got me to come to this party, and I’m actually having fun. I think he’s about to kiss me—and that’s when I see Patrick. My Patrick, who’s supposed to be clear across the country. My Patrick, who’s never going to forgive me.
Romance?: Yes.  Molly is one lucky girl--two gorgeous, kind brothers who are in love with her.

My Thoughts:
After I was a few pages into this I looked it up on GoodReads and read a few reviews.  A lot of them really blasted Molly for being a cheater and how could they root for a cheater.  The thing about that is, it's not that clear because Patrick was being an ass and had just broken up with her before her "alleged" cheating.  I know, semantics.  And Molly knew she had made a mistake which she compounded by making a few more mistakes, including running away as soon as the secret was out.  In fact, running (& hiding) was Molly's go to response to everything.  That's what annoyed me about Molly.  That, and the fact that later in the summer the cheating isn't so gray.

Here's what I really liked, what I felt the message was and would be good for many a teenager:  you are going to make mistakes.  But they don't have to define you.  It's how you own up to them, how you learn from them that helps you grow.  And though it takes Molly a long time, she does learn and grow from her mistakes. 

I also liked that Molly was able to view her relationship with Patrick with the wisdom of a year apart and to see that it wasn't at all perfect.  And that her year away from him was actually very good for her to see that there is more to life than Star Lake and Patrick.

I loved that this was a messy story, not easily tied up with a bow and it ended with Molly in a good spot, albeit not a perfect one.

(I also loved how the secret got out in the first place-but obviously Molly had a right to be extremely pissed off)

To Sum Up:  Everyone makes mistakes and when you are a teenager mistakes can feel life ending.  They aren't everyone will move along and so will you.  Great lessons from this book!

eGalley requested and received from HarperCollins via Edelweiss.  Thanks so much!

April 3, 2015

My Thoughts: Top Ten Clues You're Clueless

 3 M&M Cookies.

Cover Love:
It's cute and probably very eye catching in the right environment, just not my favorite cover.

Why I Wanted to Read this:
I liked the synopsis and saw some really positive reviews.  It was also compared to The Breakfast Club, which is one of the best movies of all time. Here the synopsis is from Good Reads:

Top Five Things That Are Ruining Chloe’s Day

5) Working the 6:30 a.m. shift at GoodFoods Market

4) Crashing a cart into a customer’s car right in front of her snarky coworker Sammi

3) Trying to rock the “drowned rat” look after being caught in a snowstorm

2) Making zero progress with her crush, Tyson (see #3)

1) Being accused—along with her fellow teenage employees—of stealing upwards of $10,000

Chloe would rather be anywhere than locked in work jail (aka the break room) with five of her coworkers . . . even if one of them is Tyson. But if they can band together to clear their names, what looks like a total disaster might just make Chloe’s list of Top Ten Best Moments.
Romance?: Yes, but nothing that over takes the book.

My Thoughts:
This book was definitely a take on The Breakfast Club, and I really liked the more diverse group of kids.   I also like the fact that it happened outside of school.  Work environments always tend to allow different types of kids so, unlike The Breakfast Club, I can see this group remaining friends of awhile.

There was one thing really holding me back from giving myself over to this book: I just didn't like Sammi.  At all.  I would kind of cringe when I was reading a scene with her in it, and, unfortunately, the author wrote a lot of scenes with her in them.  Sammi kind of takes over the book.
And it's not like her behavior was never explained, it kind of was, but not very well.  Chloe brings up a few good points, "Can't you be different without being mean?" 

I am glad the romance was not a main focus or that Chloe let it control her. I loved her lists though.  I am a list maker, but not to Chole's level, she is just awesome.  I did get frustrated with her not telling anyone that she had diabetes, even when she was obviously having issues because of it.  There has to come a point when health is more important than pride!

I loved the little mystery as well.  I didn't guess who the culprit was, but I wasn't surprised by who it was either.

To Sum Up:  Great read with mostly a great cast of characters.  Will be a hit in my library!

April 2, 2015

My Thoughts: Beastkeeper by Cat Hellisen

4 crunchy peanut butter cookies.

Cover Love:  Yes.  This cover is wild and fantastical and pretty.  Perfect for this story.

Why I Wanted to Read This:
This one wasn't high on my radar until I was offered a chance to review it.  I got a copy and gave it a try.  I was so glad I did!  here's the synopsis from GoodReads:

Sarah has always been on the move. Her mother hates the cold, so every few months her parents pack their bags and drag her off after the sun. She’s grown up lonely and longing for magic. She doesn’t know that it’s magic her parents are running from.
When Sarah’s mother walks out on their family, all the strange old magic they have tried to hide from comes rising into their mundane world. Her father begins to change into something wild and beastly, but before his transformation is complete, he takes Sarah to her grandparents—people she has never met, didn’t even know were still alive.
Deep in the forest, in a crumbling ruin of a castle, Sarah begins to untangle the layers of curses affecting her family bloodlines, until she discovers that the curse has carried over to her, too. The day she falls in love for the first time, Sarah will transform into a beast . . . unless she can figure out a way to break the curse forever.
Romance?:  There is a lot of romance, or love, talk in this book but there really isn't a romance.  That makes it sound weird but you'll understand once you read it.

My Thoughts:
At first I felt this was a retelling of Beauty and the Beast and while there were elements of that story in here, it was actually it's own fairytale, very original.  (At least, it doesn't follow any traditional one of which I am aware).  This was beautifully written and very descriptive.  Even though the castle and wood where Sarah is taken are horrible and crumbling and messy, I wanted to be there. I wanted to help Sarah solve the mess of the curse placed upon her family.

I loved that in this tale the evil people weren't necessarily evil, but they were stubborn.  Never underestimate how petty people can be when they feel like they have been made a fool of.  Time passed weirdly in this book so I was never sure when we were at, but grudges were held onto tightly.  Because of one little mistake, generations were cursed.  Doesn't seem hardly fair to me.

The story works because of the writing.  This is a new kind of fairy tale and written so wonderfully that pages went by without me even realizing I was reading that much.  It just wormed inside me and kept me going.  

To Sum Up:  This modern fairy tale is written so wonderfully that you will not be able to put it down.  Going to add it to my school library for sure!

Book sent to me from Nicole at Macmillan.  Thanks Nicole!

April 1, 2015

Added to the List: Simon & Schuster Edition

Over the past few weeks I have gotten quite a bounty of books in the mail.  Some I requested, some I entered contests to win, and some surprises.  Since I know I am not going to get them all read I decided I wanted to highlight them here and tell you what I think sounds great about each book.  Today are the books I have gotten from Simon & Schuster.  I was fortunate enough to get a box of upcoming summer releases and there are some really good ones in this box.  The best things about the books they sent is that there were a bunch that had escaped my notice that I know will be big hits in my library.

1.  Crown of Three by JD Rinehart.  I hadn't heard anything about this book until I opened this box.  It looks great and I think will be a big hit with my students.  The synopsis kind of reminded me of a few fantasy series that my kids like--Ranger's Apprentice and the False Prince.  I might loan this to one of my stronger readers over spring break and get his opinion.

2.  The Orphan Army (Nightsiders #1) by Jonathan Maberry.  If you know anything about me by reading this blog you know that I LOVED the ROT & RUIN series by Jonathan Maberry.  Not a single one of those books failed, he kept the series amped up all the way through (although the third one was pretty dark).  I am not sure about the sunopsis of this book but Mr. Maberry has earned my loyalty and I am excited to give this one a try.

3.  Last Year's Mistake by Gina Ciocca.  YA romance.  Looks really good, maybe a little deeper than your typical YA romance.  Will probably rip right through this one.

4.  Chantress Fury by Amy Butler Greenfield.  It wasn't until right now, while writing this post that I realized this one was the third in a series.  The synopsis doesn't read like it is the third and I think it sounds really interesting.  I think I will give this one a try without reading the other two first.

5.  River Runs Deep by Jennifer Bradbury.  This sounds like such a good historical fiction book. 

6.  Suicide Notes From Beautiful Girls by Lynn Weingarten.  This one sounds heartbreaking.  A broken friendship and a mystery.  I had already downloaded the egalley of this one because it sounded so amazing. 

7.  Shackled by Tom Leveen.  This is also one I hadn't heard of until I opened the box, but it's the one I ended up throwing in my bag for school today.  I doubt I will get it started but it sounds so creepy and suspensful.  Haven't read any Tom Leveen yet, but always heard good things!

8.  Attack of the Alien Horde by Robert Venditti.  Again one I hadn't heard of, but after flipping through it I went and added it to my order for next fall.  It is a combo super hero/graphic novel.  I think this is going to be really big with the middle grade set!

9.  Cosmoe's Wiener Getaway by Mac Brallier & Rachel Maguire.  Again one that went right on my order for next fall.  This is a graphic novel that will be loved by Diary of a Wimpy Kid and Big Nate readears!

10.  Dime by E. R. Frank.  Hadn't heard of this one at all, but wow, it sounds so heart breaking.  It's about teen prostitution and I have a feeling that it will be a story that grabs on from the beginning and won't let go.

11.  The Secret Cookie Club by Martha Freeman.  Sounds like a sweet, quick, fun read that might be perfect after I read Dime!

Thanks so much for the books Simon & Schuster.  I am grateful for you bringing several of these to my attention.  Will pass along reviews as I get them read!

March 30, 2015

My Thoughts: Finding Mr. Brightside by Jay Clark

4 soft sugar cookies.

Cover Love:  Yes.  Eye-catching and romantic.  Love it!

Why I Wanted to Read This:  The synopsis was what it was all about.  How could two teens, whose parents died in a car wreck when they were having an affair, find their way to each other?  I was intrigued by this idea!
Here it is from GoodReads:
Abram and Juliette know each other. They’ve lived down the street from each other their whole lives. But they don’t really know each other—at least, not until Juliette’s mom and Abram’s dad have a torrid affair that culminates in a deadly car crash. Sharing the same subdivision is uncomfortable, to say the least. They don’t speak.

Fast-forward to the neighborhood pharmacy, a few months later. Abram decides to say hello. Then he decides to invite her to Taco Bell. To her surprise as well as his, she agrees. And the real love story begins.
Romance?: Yep. On every page!

My Thoughts:
First of all, both of these characters are intriguing.  They are two teens who have had a traumatic thing happen to them (Juliette's mom and Abram's dad were having an affair which came out when they were killed in a car wreck) and their parents are no help at all.  Juliette's dad is barely functioning and Abram's mom is reliving her youth.   They are just doing the best they can.  But their best isn't not very good.  Juliette, for one, is super controlling and closed off.  She can't find her way to feeling anything.  Abram is obsessed with Juliette from the get go, but it hadn't reached a creepy level yet.  More like he wanted to be involved in her life because he had questions.  But he had given up on things that used to make him happy because they reminded him of his father (like tennis). 

This is a book where the main characters get together pretty early on, not romantically right away, but they forge a friendship early on.  And it's like two drowning people clinging to a life raft.  I am not sure how long their romance will last but its very clear they need each other.  They help each other heal and start to look forward.  They give each other purpose and that's what I loved.  Abram is so good for Juliette and she helps him too.  It;s a very sweet, nice little romance.

To Sum Up:  Adored this story and romance.  In my mind Juliette and Abram stay together for awhile and heal and grow and then separate when they are ready.  It might not be the best relationship for longevity.

March 27, 2015

My Thoughts: Vivian Apple at the End of the World by Katie Coyle

4 caramel apple cookies.

Cover Love:
I do like this, probably most because of the font and the colors.  I think it's eye catching and sparks curiosity.

Why I Wanted to Read This:
For some reason I have been interested in cults, must be because I enjoy watching The Following.  This one caught my eye because of the idea of the rapture.  Here's the synopsis from GoodReads:
Seventeen-year-old Vivian Apple never believed in the evangelical Church of America, unlike her recently devout parents. But when Vivian returns home the night after the supposed "Rapture," all that’s left of her parents are two holes in the roof. Suddenly, she doesn't know who or what to believe. With her best friend Harp and a mysterious ally, Peter, Vivian embarks on a desperate cross-country roadtrip through a paranoid and panic-stricken America to find answers. Because at the end of the world, Vivan Apple isn't looking for a savior. She's looking for the truth.
Romance?: Yes!

My Thoughts:
This was a super fascinating story.  I can see how one man was able to rise up and caught hysteria, I could see the right person doing that now.  There is a lot of unrest in this nation, and in the world and the right person, saying the right things, giving stability, could rise to power.  However, one thing that was weird was that there weren't that many people who went missing.   Compared to the amount of people in this nation, the number was barely a blip.  I don't see how everything really started falling apart when it was that few people.  I guess that because of the weird things that came after I guess people really thought the world was going to end six months later.

And there was the disparity of people who didn't get saved with the first rapture so they go overzealous.  And the people who just decide they weren't saved so they didn't care.  I do think that something like that would really happen.  People trying to do everything they can to be saved and people who decide to live out the remaining time committing all sorts of sins.

Vivian Apple is awesome because she decides not to sit back and take it.  She doesn't want to wait out the remaining six months and she knows something isn't right, as many probably do, but she goes after the answers.  And convinces others to come with her.  Her best friend Harp and Peter are good companions and I loved the little romance between her and Peter.

And what she discovers at the end make up for any slow moving parts in the book.  Great twists and a satisfying conclusion.  But a cliffhanger ending makes me want the second book ASAP!

To Sum Up:  I got this for my library but am wondering if it isn't a little mature.  The topic is one that most middle schoolers probably don't even think about, they still accept religion at face value.  I enjoyed this story but think it might be better suited in a high school library. 

March 26, 2015

Added to the List: Macmillan Edition

Over the past few weeks I have gotten quite a bounty of books in the mail.  Some I requested, some I entered contests to win, and some surprises.  Since I know I am not going to get them all read I decided I wanted to highlight them here and tell you what I think sounds great about each book.  Today are the books I have gotten from Macmillan.  I am on a list for bloggers and once a season get the chance to request some books.  This time I focused on middle grade books and requested three books that sounded awesome.  I also got one YA contemporary romance because those are my favorites. 
1.  Book Scavenger by Jennifer Chamliss Bertman.  I love a good middle grade mystery/puzzle book.  The Westing Game, Winston Breen, Chasing Vermeer.  This one sounds like it will be an awesome addition to this genre.

2.  Secrets of Selkie Bay by Shelley Moore Thomas.  You know what mythical creature doesn't get enough press, Selkies.  I have always been enchanted by the mythology of selkies and the synopsis for this one gave me goosebumps!

3.  The Book of Dares to Lost Friends by Jane Kelley.  Oh the pressure that middle school puts on friendships is amazing.  I see it every year, girls that come in as best friends and within a few months act like strangers.  There is always one who is hurt and sometimes one that doesn't even realize she is doing anything wrong.  This is a story I am looking forward to reading--it's a little bit mystical and a lot realistic.  Looks great!

4.  Joyride by Anna Banks.  A contemporary YA romance, just the kind I like.  I know that I will read this one quickly.

March 19, 2015

My Thoughts: Bone Gap by Laura Ruby

5 soft and warm chocolate chip cookies.

Cover Love:  I do love this cover.  It's eye catching and non gender.  I love the font and colors.  It works!

Why I Wanted to Read This:
The synopsis interested me, but honestly I am not sure why this one ended up being the one I read last weekend.  I just started it and couldn't put it down.  Here's the synopsis from GoodReads:
Everyone knows Bone Gap is full of gaps—gaps to trip you up, gaps to slide through so you can disappear forever. So when young, beautiful Roza went missing, the people of Bone Gap weren’t surprised. After all, it wasn’t the first time that someone had slipped away and left Finn and Sean O’Sullivan on their own. Just a few years before, their mother had high-tailed it to Oregon for a brand new guy, a brand new life. That’s just how things go, the people said. Who are you going to blame?

Finn knows that’s not what happened with Roza. He knows she was kidnapped, ripped from the cornfields by a dangerous man whose face he cannot remember. But the searches turned up nothing, and no one believes him anymore. Not even Sean, who has more reason to find Roza than anyone, and every reason to blame Finn for letting her go.

As we follow the stories of Finn, Roza, and the people of Bone Gap—their melancholy pasts, their terrifying presents, their uncertain futures—acclaimed author Laura Ruby weaves a heartbreaking tale of love and loss, magic and mystery, regret and forgiveness—a story about how the face the world sees is never the sum of who we are.
Romance?: Yes, a couple of them.

My Thoughts:
The first part of the synopsis was kind of misleading.  Not everyone in Bone Gap does know there are gaps you can slip through.  And the people were only surprised that Roza disappeared because of how she had appeared earlier.  However, it is a small town and everyone thinks they know what is going on with everyone else.

I loved Finn.  He was spacey, but he was good hearted and ready to step up and take care of things instead of being the one who was always taken care of.  And there was an issue with Finn that I didn't see coming and was brilliant.  Just brilliant.  The author didn't hint at it AT ALL, so when it came out I was very surprised.  I was glad there was no foreshadowing and it tied a lot of things together.

Petey was a great character as well, once she started to see beyond the huge chip on her shoulder.  I could see how people in the twin thought Finn was just using her, but he never gave her an indication that he wasn't genuine, nor did he have that reputation.  She should have given him the benefit of the doubt. 

The mystery of Roza was interesting and weird, but the author made it work very well.  I liked the chapters from her point of view.  I wanted her to find her way back to Sean because she was good in his life and he really needed her.

Sean's attitude (or Finn's perception of his attitude) bothered me.  If he was as in love with Roza as everyone thought, he should have fought for her and kept looking and looking.  Instead, he gave up way too quick because everyone always leaves so why would Roza be any different.  It wasn't like he thought Finn had anything to do with it, I think he thought that the story Finn had told him was made up so that Sean wouldn't think Roza just left him.

An author that can write this clear and beautiful no matter whose point of view we are reading is rare.  Each chapter was from someone else's point of view with Roza and Finn being the main ones.  This was all around a beautifully written novel.  It made me want to read more of Ms. Ruby's books.

To Sum Up: An interesting story with rich characters, a great twist and a perfect setting.  Might be a bit mature for a middle school library but young adult readers would love this one!

March 13, 2015

Glad I Could Help...

My oldest son just called me from his high school (he's a junior).  This is how he started the conversation, in a whisper:

"Mom,  I need your help."

My stomach kind of clenched because he sounded so serious.  "Ok, what do you need?"

"It's kind of stupid and you might get mad."

At this point, I am concerned because this is pretty out of character to be calling during the school day.

"Carter, what do you need?"

Then he drops this bombshell:

"I'm in the library and I there are no librarians around and I need help finding a book."

I about peed myself laughing.  He was looking for The Great Gatsby and since he is a proud non-reader, much to my chagrin, had no idea what he was doing.  I guided him to the fiction section and to Fitzgerald where the book was waiting for him.

Glad I could help, that's what librarians do!

March 11, 2015


There are two books I cannot wait for this year and they are both coming out in March. 

The Penderwicks in Spring by Jeanne Birdsall.
Publication date: March 25

I adore the Penderwicks.  These books have been some of my favorites and I get so excited when a new one comes out.  They are sweet and genuine and nostalgic and lovely.  This comes out the week before spring break so I am going to get it and spend a day reading and savoring.

The Wicked Will Rise by Danielle Paige.
Publication date:March 31, 2015

I loved Dorothy Must Die and have read and enjoyed all the e-novellas.  They only whet my appetite to visit this world once again.  This comes out during my spring break so I will probably spend a day reading this as well.  It's going to be a glorious spring!

What books are you really looking forward to this spring?

March 9, 2015

My Thoughts: The War That Saved My Life by Kimberly Brubaker Bradley

5 yummy oatmeal butterscotch chip cookies.

Cover Love:
I don't love this, but I think it works for the story and the intended audience.  However, I think boys might be turned off because of the girl on the cover and this is a book that boys would thoroughly enjoy.

Why I Wanted to Read This:
When this came up as an egalley on Edelweiss I wasn't interested.  Then I started seeing review pop up on Good Reads.  One of those reviews raved about the audio version so I checked that out from my local library.
Here's the synopsis from GoodReads:
Nine-year-old Ada has never left her one-room apartment. Her mother is too humiliated by Ada’s twisted foot to let her outside. So when her little brother Jamie is shipped out of London to escape the war, Ada doesn’t waste a minute—she sneaks out to join him.

So begins a new adventure of Ada, and for Susan Smith, the woman who is forced to take the two kids in. As Ada teaches herself to ride a pony, learns to read, and watches for German spies, she begins to trust Susan—and Susan begins to love Ada and Jamie. But in the end, will their bond be enough to hold them together through wartime? Or will Ada and her brother fall back into the cruel hands of their mother?

This masterful work of historical fiction is equal parts adventure and a moving tale of family and identity—a classic in the making.

Romance?:  No.   

My Thoughts:
First off, I adored the narrator for the audiobook.  She was amazing.  Her voice got me interested in the story right away and she made Ada come alive for me.

I loved Ada.  There were times when I wanted to shake her and make her see the good in front of her, but I think she was way more true to life than a typical middle grade character because she couldn't acknowledge the good.  And the conflicting things she felt, which she didn't have the right words to name, weren't overcome with a tidy bow.  She would take two steps forward and fours steps backward.  She had lived 10 years of her life with severe neglect and abuse, of course it would be hard to trust another person.  And when her position as Jamie's main care giver is threatened, of course she would wonder if she had a place anymore.  Thankfully she had Butter, a pony she could connect with and take good care of.  She was able to replace Jamie with Butter, which gave her purpose.

Susan was also a great character.  This was a woman who never felt accepted by the village, and who had recently suffered her won loss that she was having a hard time getting over.  She needed these kids as much as they needed her.  And she never sugar coated anything.  The fact that she took them in and did for them the basic, decent things that they needed having done for them, while their own mother never did those basic things was just heart breaking.  This was something Ada grappled with as well.

When I was a kindergarten teacher I would see many kids who had little background knowledge and didn't know words to many simple things or ideas.  But being in school helps them build that knowledge.  When Ada and Jamie come to Susan the don't have words for some of the most basic things.  Jamie is a little better off than Ada, having been outside in his life, but Ada is building from the ground up.  The author doesn't shy away from this and I am glad it's put in there because for them to suddenly be worldly would have been hard to swallow.  They had so much to learn.

I love the tiny subplot of Stephen and the Colonel.  It was so good to see what having a purpose in life did for him as well.

All along you knew that this wonderful life the children have been developing wouldn't last, but towards the end I couldn't help but silently plead "Stay strong Ada," over and over.  While the ending is not all sunshine and roses, it does give Ada and Jamie hope.

To Sum Up:  Just adored this book.  I will booktalk the heck out of it for my library and hand it to anyone needing to read a historical fiction book for their genre wheels.  

March 2, 2015

Blog Tour: Witherwood Reform School by Obert Skye (Review & Giveaway!)

3 soft & chewy snickerdoodles.

Cover Love:
This is one of those covers that I feel would be better in person than a digital file.  I don't love it, but I think if it was in my hands I would feel different about it.

Why I Wanted to Read This:
I was asked to participate in the blog tour for Witherwood and Obert Skye is a popular middle school author so I decided to join up!  Here's the synopsis from GoodReads:
After a slight misunderstanding involving a horrible governess, gravy, and a jar of tadpoles, siblings Tobias and Charlotte Eggars find themselves abandoned by their father at the gates of a creepy reform school. Evil mysteries are afoot at Witherwood, where the grounds are patrolled by vicious creatures and kids are locked in their rooms. Charlotte and Tobias soon realize that they are in terrible danger—especially because the head of Witherwood has perfected the art of mind control. If only their amnesiac father would recover. If only Tobias and Charlotte could solve the dark mystery and free the kids at Witherwood—and ultimately save themselves.

Romance?: Not that kind of book!

My Thoughts:
This story started out laugh out loud funny.  The first chapter when Tobias and Charlotte played their prank on their "nanny" was at times both funny and sad.  For a dad who seemed to love his children as much as theirs did, he was certainly clueless when it came to his children's needs and who was watching them.  But the description of the prank was gross and funny.  It would make a good read aloud.

I loved the author's style of writing.  I am not sure that authors like being compared to Roald Dahl, but that is was kept coming to mind as I got started reading this.  Fortunately kids really don't get tired or reading the wacky and unbelievable if there is a good dose of humor with it.  I haven't read any other Obert Skye books but was pleased at this style of writing. And a boarding school is always a good setting for the fantastic to happen.

I liked Tobias and Charlotte, very relate able characters. Tobias dives right in without thinking ahead and Charlotte observes more, but goes along with Tobias. They are fiercely loyal to each other and when they find themselves at Witherwood they are worried, scared and lonely.  Kind of like kids starting middle school for the first time!

Witherwood is a great setting, perhaps evil, certainly not normal and a little scary. I loved the illustrations and glad they were included. This book could get away without the, because of the authors clear descriptions, but I felt they added to the reading for me.

This is a series, so intends with no real resolution, which I didn't love. It's a reason I never read the whole Series of Unfortunate Events. I like a little more of an uptick at the end of my books, even ones that are series.  However, it never seems to bother young readers. This one will fit comfortably on my middle school library shelf, but not for long because I think it will be very popular.

To Sum Up: I think this would be a great beginning of the school year read aloud, but also just a fun read for older elementary and younger middle school readers.

Macmillan is offering a copy of Witherwood Reform School to one of my readers. Please fill out the form below to enter to win.  US residents only, contest runs through March 15.

Please visit the other blogs involved in this tour:
2/18: Little Red Reads
2/19: A Reader’s Adventure
2/20: Stories & Sweeties
2/23: The Hiding Spot
2/24: Bumbles and Fairytales
2/25: Manga Maniac Café
2/26: The Book Monsters 
2/27: Mundie Kids
3/2: Milk & Cookies: Comfort Reading
3/3: Green Bean Teen Queen

February 24, 2015

My Thoughts: I'll Meet You There by Heather Demetrios

5 oatmeal butterscotch chips cookies.

Cover Love:
I don't love it but I do like that it is generic and a boy could be seen reading this as easily as a girl.

Why I Wanted to Read This:
I actually wasn't caught up by the synopsis and hadn't planned on reading it, but all the buzz and gushing reviews (some by people who don't normally gush) got me interested.  Here's the synopsis from GoodReads:
If seventeen-year-old Skylar Evans were a typical Creek View girl, her future would involve a double-wide trailer, a baby on her hip, and the graveyard shift at Taco Bell. But after graduation, the only thing standing between straightedge Skylar and art school are three minimum-wage months of summer. Skylar can taste the freedom—that is, until her mother loses her job and everything starts coming apart. Torn between her dreams and the people she loves, Skylar realizes everything she’s ever worked for is on the line.

Nineteen-year-old Josh Mitchell had a different ticket out of Creek View: the Marines. But after his leg is blown off in Afghanistan, he returns home, a shell of the cocksure boy he used to be. What brings Skylar and Josh together is working at the Paradise—a quirky motel off California’s dusty Highway 99. Despite their differences, their shared isolation turns into an unexpected friendship and soon, something deeper.
Romance?: Oh yes!

My Thoughts:
This book was very moving.  You can't help but feel for Sky because she needs to get out of Creek View.  There is no getting around that.  She has to go to save herself and everyone knows this--her best friends, her mother, even Josh.  But, she has a hard time actually taking the steps.  Even though everything is in place, her acceptance and scholarship to college, I think she spends most of the summer looking for excuses as to why she shouldn't leave.  Oddly enough, Josh never becomes an excuse, it mostly has to do with her mom.  I think this is very typical because most teens really want to leave home, but a lot of them have a hard time actually doing it.  Sometimes, they need a push.

I loved Skylar though.  I hardly ever got frustrated by her actions.  The author did a great job of helping us understand the situations Sky encounters so that how she reacts seems very realistic.  Once again, it all comes down to communication and when she and Josh finally are able to really talk great things happen.

I loved Josh.  Although very little of the book was written from his point of view, what we saw was painful and real.  There are so many layers to what he has to get through to figure out what he finally wants to do with his life.  He has so much survivor's guilt and so little self worth.  He is a very well written character.  Already in his life he has had to deal with things many of us never have to see.

Sky and Josh coming together is so natural.  She doesn't treat him any different than before and she doesn't Florence Nightingale him.  Their attraction is real and wonderful.  This book made me cry and smile and blush.  I just adored reading it!

To Sum Up:  I feel this is a little mature for my library--lots of swear words and sex talk and acts.  But, if I were a teen girl this book would be one I would read over and over.

February 20, 2015

My Thoughts: Anna and the French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins

4 soft and sweet frosted sugar cookies.

Cover Love:  Yes!  I like having a visual for Anna on the front.

Why I Wanted to Read This:
Because I had just read Isla and the Happily Ever After and I wanted to see Josh and Isla from Anna's eyes.  Here's the synopsis from GoodReads:
Anna is looking forward to her senior year in Atlanta, where she has a great job, a loyal best friend, and a crush on the verge of becoming more. Which is why she is less than thrilled about being shipped off to boarding school in Paris--until she meets Étienne St. Clair. Smart, charming, beautiful, Étienne has it all...including a serious girlfriend.

But in the City of Light, wishes have a way of coming true. Will a year of romantic near-misses end with their long-awaited French kiss?
Romance?: Yes.

My Thoughts:
There are a few reasons I didn't read Anna and the French Kiss when it first came out.  I actually had started it, but gave up pretty quickly because I didn't think I could get over a few things.  One was the gap in Anna's teeth.  That drives me nuts, but I found it didn't bother me as much as I thought it would.  Second, the fact that St. Clair had a girlfriend.  I do get tired of unrequited love.  Third was that it took place in Paris.  For some reason I do not love books that take place in foreign countries, not sure why.  But I had just finished Isla and the Happily Ever After and knew I wanted to give this one a try.  Glad I did!

I very quickly got over all my issues and dove right into the story of Anna and St. Clair.  Stephanie Perkins does such a good job writing true teenagers, even the secondary characters.  I adored St. Clair, almost as much as I loved Cricket Bell (from Lola and the Boy Next Door).  I enjoyed Anna and the growing she was able to do during her year.  I liked getting to know these two, but wished that they got together earlier in the book.  The unrequited part, on both their sides, lasted a bit too long for me.  And there was the whole other wrinkle of Meredith liking St. Clair too.  I wish that hadn't been in there to layer guilt upon Anna and St. Clair.

I actually really liked the setting.  I always wanted to go to boarding school (never in Paris) so I loved reading about these teens learning to live on their own.  (Now that I am a parent I couldn't even imagine sending my own child away to boarding school!!)

The chemistry!  Oh, man, it was so good.  I longed for Anna and St. Clair to just finally get together!!

To Sum Up:  Another great teen romance!  I do have this in my library and while there was some sex talk and swearing, it seemed to be the lightest of all Ms. Perkins books.  

My Thoughts: Isla and the Hapily Ever After by Stephanie Perkins

4 chocolate chocolate chip cookies.

Cover Love:  I liked the other two covers really well (Anna and the French kiss and Lola and the Boy Next Door) and was kind of bummed they changed all three covers before this one came out.  But I do like this one.

Why I Wanted to Read This:
I adored Lola and the Boy Next Door, Cricket was my favorite.  So, I checked this one out from my public library to see if it would be as good.  (I had not read Anna and the French Kiss at the time).  Here is the synopsis from GoodReads:
Hopeless romantic Isla has had a crush on introspective cartoonist Josh since their first year at the School of America in Paris. And after a chance encounter in Manhattan over the summer, romance might be closer than Isla imagined. But as they begin their senior year back in France, Isla and Josh are forced to confront the challenges every young couple must face, including family drama, uncertainty about their college futures, and the very real possibility of being apart.
Romance?: Yes. Lots.

My Thoughts:
I have to say that I think I like YA romances a little better when the characters get together early on in the book so the book focuses more on them working through issues than simply getting together.  Isla and Josh do get together early on in the book, so we get to see a lot of them working through problems and misunderstandings and finding a way to be together.

I liked that Isla had a good relationship with her parents and that Josh's parents were actually supportive, in their own way.  They were trying, he just made it pretty hard.

Josh did not become my book boyfriend, even though I did adore him.  I liked how he gave himself over to Isla and the relationship and was willing to try being together even when she was not, but there was just a little bit of desperation to him that I didn't love.  And I did adore Isla, but get so tired of those girls that give up their relationship because of problems that don't exist.

There was one quote that this book had in it that I would like to give to any teen struggling in high school:

"For a certain type of person, high school will always be brutal," the head says.  "The best advice I can give you is to figure out what comes next and work toward that."

This is just brilliant and I wish more kids could see beyond the trees and look forward.  They get so caught up in the high school-ness of high school that they forget their WHOLE LIFE is ahead of them.  I loved high school.  I don't look back with regret, but I have also loved every day since high school more and more.  For kids who are having a hard time they need to look forward.

I do like how Josh took this advice to heart and knew exactly what he wanted and worked toward getting there.  But it was also ok for Isla to not know.  How can you really plan for what you want to do for the rest of their life at 18?!

I really did like the relationship between Josh and Isla and hope they make it through the hard times.  I know they are young, but there is something to be said about becoming adults together and being able to work through things in a mature way.

To Sum Up:  It might be a little mature for my library, but the romantics in all of us girls would be happy to fall in love with Josh and Isla!

February 18, 2015

Why I Love YA Romances

Tonight as I was reading Isla and the Happily Ever After, blushing along with Isla and developing my own crush on Josh it hit me like a ton of bricks.  I know why I love YA romances.

In my world as an adult, in my circle of friends and acquaintances, in the couples that I know who have gotten divorced it's been because the woman has left the man.  Almost 100% of them have been initiated by the woman.  I often would wonder why because I can't believe they would think something better was out there.  I know that the reasons are varied, but the way some of them act right after the separation/divorce leads me to believe one thing:  they are looking for is that rush that you get from first realizing you are attracted to someone.  And the bigger rush when you realize they are attracted to you. 

It's why romance novels are so popular and romantic comedies and cheesy romances on the Hallmark channel and Edward and Bella and Christian Grey and Anastasia.  Seeing it played out in someone else's world helps you feel that rush for a little while.

But, when you read a young adult romance novel written by an author who gets it, who can write that first glimpse of love developing from a crush, it takes you to the place you want, even if you didn't realize you wanted it.

Remember seeing your crush walking down the hall towards you?  Remember seeing him at his locker with his friends?  Remember when your eyes met in the cafeteria?   Remember him liking you back?  Remember that first kiss?  If you want it back, read a young adult romance and you feel it again, I almost guarantee it. 

Young adult authors understand that teenagers are beautiful.  All of them.  I am around young teens everyday in my job and around my house.  They are beautiful!  And it's not really how they look, its the youth.  It's the glimpse of the young men and woman they will become.  It's the promise of a whole life ahead of them.  It is beautiful.  You can see it in all of them if you look--even the ones who are hard edges due to their lives not holding a lot of promise. You can see it in the ones on the fringes and the ones that are considered popular.

If you look you can see it in all of them.  Young adult authors see it.  And they write it so you see it too.

In young adult romance books, I really want to see the romance blossom, even if in real life I might think 17 is too young for such intense romance.  I jump into it wholeheartedly in young adult romances.  I blush along with the girls, develop those same crushes, cringe at the embarrassing moments, get upset at misunderstandings, and sigh when it all works out in the end.

I am living vicariously through the characters in young adult romances and I feel fulfilled.  I don't have to go search for that rush of being attracted to someone new, because I feel it every time I read a good YA romance.  And it's wonderful and I will keep reading them.  And I will keep seeing the beauty in the teens around me.

February 17, 2015

Beyond the Reach (Deathwatch!!)

I LOVE it when a movie based on a YA book sneaks up on me.  That happened to me this weekend.
A few years ago I had a teacher recommend I read DEATHWATCH by Robb White.  I liked it and was glad I read it.  I recommend it to a lot of my readers who like survival stories.  The fact that this one has  the thriller element in it as well makes it a very popular book in my library.  I just added a few other copies to my spring order because the one I had was falling apart.

So, imagine my surprise when I checked out the new trailers up on IMDB on Friday and saw one for a movie called Beyond the Reach starring Jeremy Irvine and Michael Douglas.

You guys, it is DEATHWATCH!!

I am so excited about this, you have no idea.  I think it will make a tremendous movie, intense and exciting. 

Check out the trailer for yourself, then find a copy of the book to read too!

February 16, 2015

Added to the List #11: Weekend Reading

This was a great weekend for reading.  I started out Friday by reading Isla and the Happily Ever After by Stephanie Perkins.  After that I had to go to my library to grab Anna and the French Kiss because that was the one book by Stephanie Perkins I had not read.  (By the way, how jealous are you that I can run to my school library to get books whenever I want?)

I won a contest and got a Kindle copy of Since You've Been Gone by Morgan Matson.  I had wanted to read this one for sometime so I was excited to win this contest!  (It was a twitter contest I stumbled across being sponsored by Jen at Pop Goes the Reader, adorable blog! Check it out.)(I don't have a kindle, but this past fall I got a Samsung Nook Tablet and downloaded the Kindle app so now I can use both stores for books!)

This past week I was lucky enough to get auto approved for Scholastic egalleys on Edelweiss.  Do you know how excited I was when this happened?!  I downloaded a few I have had my eye on:

Thirteen Chairs by Dave Shelton
Lying Out Loud by Kody Keplinger (companion to the DUFF!!)
I Am Princess X by Cherie Priest
Mark of the Thief by Jennifer A. Neilsen

What did you add to your TBR this week?

February 10, 2015

My Thoughts: Red Queen by Victoria Aveyard

3 chocolate no bakes.

Cover Love:  Yes, it's pretty cool.  Definitely eye catching!

Why I Wanted to Read This:
The synopsis really intrigued me.  It sounded like a cross between fantasy and dystopian.  Here's it is from GoodReads:
The poverty stricken Reds are commoners, living under the rule of the Silvers, elite warriors with god-like powers.

To Mare Barrow, a 17-year-old Red girl from The Stilts, it looks like nothing will ever change.

Mare finds herself working in the Silver Palace, at the centre of
those she hates the most. She quickly discovers that, despite her red blood, she possesses a deadly power of her own. One that threatens to destroy Silver control.

But power is a dangerous game. And in this world divided by blood, who will win?
Romance?: A little bit.

My Thoughts:
This was a book I really enjoyed reading--it kept me interested and kept me picking up the book all the time.   I was interested in the plot and felt for Mare being stuck in a world she wasn't born into.  However, I mostly was interested in reading it because I was pretty sure of where a few of the relationships were headed.

The whole idea of Reds and Silvers was intriguing, but I wish the author would have gotten into why or how the division came about.  Was it because of something environmental?  Was it aliens?  I know that most dystopian books don't go into what happened to change the world from what we know now, but it would have helped me buy into the story more. 

I didn't love Mare very much, she was so full of hate and so judgmental.  I did like the love triangle between Mare and Cal and Maven a lot.  Cal was wonderful and Maven was understanding.  Mare was a better person when she was with either of them.  I could kind of see the writing on the wall for the love triangle, but I did hope my suspicions wouldn't come true.  They did and it was written well enough to turn my stomach.  Love it when a book gives me a physical reaction.

So, I liked the world and the love triangle, not the main character so much, and I didn't mind the cliff hanger, but for some reason, I don't feel that anxious for book two.  I am not sure how quickly I want to go back into that world.  I am going to get this for my library because I know that many of my students will love this book. 

To Sum Up:  A good start to a new series, one that I am sure will be very popular with it's intended audience.

eGalley requested and received from HarperCollins via Edelweiss.  Thanks!

February 9, 2015

Snapshot Monday

I got this idea from Jill of the OWL.  Just a quick snapshot of what I am reading today.

It's rought when you go from reading a book you LOVED to a few that you are not quite as into.  So, I have ended up reading a few books.  I am going to finish these three before I start anything new (all three are ebooks so these cover images came from GoodReads):

This one is darling.  I LOVE the voice of Hazel Wong and know that I will enjoy it all the way through.  I started it last October but tabled it when I realized the publication date was so far out.  Glad to get back into it though.  So cute!

I am not loving this one as much as I did Bossypants by Tina Fey, but am determined to finish it out because I don't hate it either.

I was so excited to get right into this one after finishing Seraphina, but the other two I am reading loom kind of large so I haven't been reading this one as much due to that fact.  I need to get a little more caught up!

February 3, 2015

My Thoughts: Seraphina by Rachel Hartman

4 thickly frosted sugar cookies.

Cover Love:
I don't love this.  It makes the book look too fantasy, which it is, but it might not be as eye catching to some readers who would end up loving it.

Why I Wanted to Read This:
I have heard so many positive things about this book and saw that the sequel was coming out soon, so I decided to give it a try.  Plus it is part of my library collection so I was able to fit it in that challenge!  Here's the synopsis from GoodReads:
Four decades of peace have done little to ease the mistrust between humans and dragons in the kingdom of Goredd. Folding themselves into human shape, dragons attend court as ambassadors, and lend their rational, mathematical minds to universities as scholars and teachers. As the treaty's anniversary draws near, however, tensions are high.

Seraphina Dombegh has reason to fear both sides. An unusually gifted musician, she joins the court just as a member of the royal family is murdered—in suspiciously draconian fashion. Seraphina is drawn into the investigation, partnering with the captain of the Queen's Guard, the dangerously perceptive Prince Lucian Kiggs. While they begin to uncover hints of a sinister plot to destroy the peace, Seraphina struggles to protect her own secret, the secret behind her musical gift, one so terrible that its discovery could mean her very life.
Romance?: Yes. Sigh!

My Thoughts:
I gave this book only four stars rather than five because I found the first third pretty slow moving.  There was a lot of set up with world building, lots of new vocab, politics and characters to introduce.  It was a lot to take in and there were times I almost gave up.  Luckily the author introduced a few very interesting characters quickly on and that caught my attention and kept me reading.

I have to say, I love dragons.  Always have and always will.  I don't seek out every book about dragons, but I do really like them.  I don't love the idea of dragons as human and wonder why that had to come along.  However, it really works for this book because there would be no Seraphina if there weren't dragons as humans.

I loved the characters!  Seraphina was awesome and even though she thinks everything she did was to hide her secret, she also really wanted to know the answers.  And to help others, especially those like herself.  Princess Glissenda will prove to be an amazing queen--she is loyal, smart, trusts her instincts, but is very open to learning from others.  (I am hoping that what I am reading between her and her lady in waiting turns out to be true.)  Prince Lucian Kiggs--oh man!  So smart, inquiring, noble, sweet.  Everything you would want in a Prince.  Orma, no matter how much he strove to keep himself above the emotions of humans, he was such a good uncle.  So kind-hearted and wise.  What a good teacher for Seraphina.  Even the people in Seraphina's garden that we got to know were great characters.  Such a wealth of awesome.

The set up for the conflict between the dragons and the humans was very good, almost too much with the politics but I am glad I know about it.  It will make the second book go even faster and this is a world I want to return to.  I want to know what happens with Seraphina's "romance" and how this war gets resolved, but I would also want to read about how the treaty came about or how Seraphina's mother and father fell in love.  This is a rich world with a lot of possibilities for stories. 

And the romance.  I am such a sucker for romance.  I loved the build up, it was slow and they became friends first.  And even though we could see it coming from miles away, the ending was both satisfying and heart breaking.  But I didn't mind it.  And I think the third part of this triangle knows it is happening and is pleased because they are two of the people she cares about and trusts the most. 

To Sum Up:  This book is part of my middle school library collection, but I think it has to be a pretty mature reader to stick with it.  The set up is slow, necessary but slow.  I will be recommending it to the fantasy lovers I know.

Side Note:
Sometimes I give up on books too early.  A book like this reminds me that the climb might sometimes be slow, but the other side makes it SO WORTH THE TIME!  This is one I almost gave up on and I am so, so glad I didn't!

February 2, 2015

Added to the List #10: Fantasy

I received an invite to join a blog tour for Seraphina and/or it's sequel Shadow Scale.  At that point I hadn't read either of them.  So I checked Seraphina out from my library and whipped through it (I will be posting my review tomorrow).  At the same time, my oldest son introduced me to Settler of Catan which is a super fun game.  Those tow things have given me a hankering for fantasy reads and these are the ones I have added to my "to-read" pile:

I really enjoyed Grave Mercy, the first book in the Fair Assassins series by Robin LaFevers, but haven't made time to read the next two, so they are going on my list.  I already started Shadow Scale, the ARC of it is available on NetGalley.  Seeker looks like a fantasty book, but I couldn't tell by the synopsis if it goes more into the sci-fi realm.  A Wicked Thing is a retelling, or post telling, of Sleeping Beauty.  And I am probably most excited for Uprooted, which kind of sounds like a Beauty and the Beast type story, but with dragons!

January 27, 2015

My Thoughts: Biggest Flirts & Perfect Couple by Jennifer Echols

4 soft snickerdoodles (for both books)

Cover Love:
Yes, I love the flirty style of both of these covers.

Why I Wanted to Read These:
I love Jennifer Echols and contemporary romances.  How could these be wrong?  Here are the synopsis for each book

Tia and Will’s lives get flipped upside down when they’re voted Yearbook’s Biggest Flirts in this sassy novel from the author of Endless Summer and The One That I Want.

Tia just wants to have fun. She’s worked hard to earn her reputation as the life of the party, and she’s ready for a carefree senior year of hanging out with friends and hooking up with cute boys. And her first order of business? New guy Will. She can’t get enough of his Midwestern accent and laid back swagger.

As the sparks start to fly, Will wants to get serious. Tia’s seen how caring too much has left her sisters heartbroken, and she isn’t interested in commitment. But pushing Will away drives him into the arms of another girl. Tia tells herself it’s no big deal…until the yearbook elections are announced. Getting voted Biggest Flirts with Will is, well, awkward. They may just be friends, but their chemistry is beginning to jeopardize Will’s new relationship—and causing Tia to reconsider her true feelings. What started as a lighthearted fling is about to get very complicated.

As yearbook photographer, Harper is responsible for capturing those candid moments that make high school memorable. But her own life is anything but picture perfect. Her parents' bitter divorce has left her wondering what a loving relationship would look like. And ever since the senior class voted her and star quarterback Brody the “Perfect Couple That Never Was,” her friends have been on her case to ask Brody out.

Brody doesn’t lack in female admirers, but Harper can't see herself with him. He seems confused about why they were matched together, too. They’re total opposites—the last people in the world who would ever be compatible, let alone the “perfect couple.” Yet ever since the class paired the two of them, they've found themselves drawn together--first by curiosity, then by an undeniable bond.

The trouble is, though they're very attracted to each other and both of them admit this, they have a hard time getting along or even communicating clearly. If they’re the perfect couple, this shouldn’t be so difficult! Soon it becomes clear their class was wrong, and they throw in the towel. But after they walk away, both of them feel so changed from making the effort that they can’t forget each other. What if that means this match made in hell is the perfect couple after all?
Romance?: Of Course!

My Thoughts:
First off, I don't like either of these summaries because it gives so much away.  These have all the same earmarks of contemporary romances--misunderstandings, listening to rumors over your own instincts and heart, flirting and experimenting.   But they have one more thing that helps so much, Jennifer Echols is great at writing chemistry.  You can't help but root for both of these couples to get together!

I took a longer time getting into Biggest Flirts because I didn't like Tia in the beginning at all.  It was hard for me to root for her to get with Will because she shirked from everything. I understand her reasoning for not wanting to get close to boys, but for someone who so desperately didn't want to follow in her sisters' footsteps, she was really irresponsible.  I would've expected her to be way more straight edged, kind of like Harper.

I really liked Will and did root for Tia to calm herself down enough to see the good in front of her.  And I adored Harper and Brody, all the way through.

Kind of off topic: When I was in high school we didn't do superlatives, however, I am not sure I would've won anything.  They do them now and next year my son will be a senior and I gotta say, I kind of want him and his girlfriend (if they are still a thing next fall) to win cutest couple.  They are so darling together!

Anyway, these are two sweet books, romantic but typical.  Getting close, misunderstandings, not listening enough to your own heart and listening too much to other people, but with good endings.  Not anything too out of the ordinary, except the chemistry.  And that is enough to keep me going!

To Sum Up:  Just a bit mature for my middle school library, however, I could see many 8th grade girls getting into them.  Love these kind of romances!