Monday, June 30, 2014

Review: The City by Dean Koontz

First, thanks to Random House/Bantam Dell and Netgalley for allowing me to read an e-galley of this title.  Dean Koontz will always be one of my all time favorite authors.  And while a couple books ago I was a bit disappointed, that changed with the last one, Innocence, and now this one, The City, has totally won me back over.

I loved this story.  It was such a good story, and it moved along at the perfect pace.  There was plenty of suspense, and it was good to see things didn't happen quite the way expected, but in a way that was just as, if not more, satisfying.  There were still some of the major losses that you would expect with a Koontz story, people you loved, and hated to have to see disappear.  But then there were others that stuck around, even when you just knew, based on all the foreshadowing, that something horrible must be able to befall them. 

The main character is Jonah Kirk, or you might like his given name from his dead beat father, Jonah Ellington Basie Hines Eldridge Wilson Hampton Armstrong Kirk.  All names of famous musical artists, ones that Jonah's grandpa on his mom's side would be a big fan of.  His father did this to try to get in good with his wife's parents.  Didn't quite work, as Grandpa Teddy kind of saw it for what it was.  Fortunately for Jonah, he had the possibility of living up to that name with his own musical talent.  But at first his father didn't seem to want him to, or at least his father was afraid that his grandfather would turn Jonah against him.  Jonah's dad soon left, but then would come back.  Until one time that his mom caught him visiting the woman who lived in the apartment above them.  Then his mother knew it was time to be done with the man.  Now Jonah had some magical types of things that happened to him, as in all good Dean Koontz stories you would expect.  He was given a little charm by a cab driver that seemed to have good luck.  He had this woman he named Miss Pearl that would come up to him on very rare occasions and talk to him.  She might help him out, as she did the first time, helping him to find a piano at the community center that he could finally begin to learn to play on.  But other times she came when he was dreaming, and the dreams she gave names to the people in them, and told him whether they were dreams of things to come, or things that had already happened.  The people in these dreams would become a part of his life soon, but not in good ways.  One, the bad man that he saw the things from the past from, he wouldn't really come into contact directly much until the end of all this.  The other, the woman, he would come into close contact, and she was pretty scary. This story took place during all the Civil Rights unrest in the US.  And Jonah is a young, black boy.  He makes friends with a Japanese man that lives in the same apartment complex. Although he does go about it in a kind of self serving way.  He wants to enlist the man in his keeping track of this evil woman.  In the end they become really good friends, Mr. Yoshioka almost a bit of a father figure, definitely someone Jonah knew and loved as much as a family member. 

The group of characters in this book were all colorful and so easily loved or hated.  While there was no animal really in this story, somewhat unusual for a Koontz story, overall it still was a great cast of people to build a story around.  I think that the amount of background spent on most of the characters and storylines was perfect.  Maybe a bit more time spent on one side character, but what was learned through that branch definitely added to the story.  I can once again go out and announce to the world that Dean Koontz is one of my favorite, as well as one of the best authors out there.

Sunday, June 29, 2014

Sunday Post #11 and Stacking the Shelves June

The Sunday Post is a weekly meme hosted  @ Caffeinated Book Reviewer. It’s a chance to share news ~ A post to recap the past week on your blog, showcase books and things we have received and share news about what is coming up on our blog for the week ahead. See rules here: Sunday Post Meme.

I had planned to do this last Sunday as I had downloaded several e-galleys. But, I was still kind of working on recovering from my surgery.  I think Sunday was the first day I tried to take a shower and really get around.  And the shower kind of wore me out.  So instead I saved and will do a two week Sunday post.  This past Tuesday though, I finally got to come back to my own house.  Doing that gave me more time to just sit and read, and I was able to get almost a book a day read!  And then when I felt up to it, I tried to blog every day as well.

Last week on the blog:
This week on the blog:

Well, I'm sure I will have several reviews as I continue to read about one book a day.  Thursday I go back to see my doctor for my 2 week post-op visit.  So I'm hoping that I can start driving myself again! That is one of the things that has been the biggest annoyance as I begin to feel more like myself.  Not being able to jump in the car and go get some french fries when I see a commercial on tv that makes me want them!  Maybe I'll try this week to get  through another book for my Big Book Challenge.  Maybe Light by Michael Grant, to finally finish that series, which will also help me for my Prequel and Sequel Challenge.  Actually, I'll probably need to do an update for that last challenge, as I've been doing those updates about every two months instead of every month.  So that will probably be a post this coming week as well.  There may be a Waiting on Wednesday as I have a couple books I'm really waiting on, but didn't get at BEA.

Stacking the Shelves is hosted by Tynga's Reviews.  It is a way for us to share the new books we have collected.  I didn't do this post last weekend, so this will include everything for the past two weeks.  

E-galleys from Edelweiss:

The first one is by an author I love.  And while I want a third book in her Transcendence series, I am happy for any other books by her. And this one sounds pretty good.  The 2nd one is a sequel to the book Gated, which was really good.  And the 3rd one is also a sequel, to Tandem, and I'm ready to read on in that series as well.

E-galley from Netgalley:

This is one I'm definitely thinking sounds pretty good.  Can't wait to read it!

Free download:

I got this from the awesome Parajunkee's View.  It is a free download of what might be a very helpful organizer for my blog.  Currently I am using a spiral calendar, and it mostly works. But I like the way this is set up, and I am going to print it out and try to use it this year.  Next year she will probably charge for one, so I figure I'll try out the free one and see if it will be worth buying. 

Now, my dreams have been really interesting lately. And I think it must be because I'm having major jealousy over those at the big ALA convention in Las Vegas right now.  But I dreamed last night I was going to have a whole stack of actual physical books to post about today when I blogged.  But alas, I woke up, and no big stack of books, at least not that I hadn't already shared from BEA.

So, what are your plans for this week?  Did you add anything awesome to your shelves?

Saturday, June 28, 2014

Review: Eat, Brains, Love by Jeff Hart

This is a book I added to my library request list when I got back from BEA a few weeks ago.  I was lucky enough to get to meet the author and get a copy of the second book, Undead with Benefits, so I figured I'd better go ahead and read the first one.  It also came in right before I was going to have surgery.  So I picked it up, and it was my next physical book read after I finished another e-galley.  This was definitely a fun zombie read.  And I guess I am loving that during my recovery time, I'm able to read about a book a day, which is what most books are meant to be read in. Well one sitting, but that's about impossible in life these days.

There are 3 main characters in this book.  Jake, who is kind of a loser type of guy, or maybe you'd just call him a stoner.  He's so out of it, that when the school takes their standardized test that is supposed to help them figure out what career they would be good at, he ends up not having any show up that he'd excel at.  Amanda is the next one. She is "the" beautiful, popular girl.  And then Cass, a girl who is a psychic, and the secret government organization, NCD, Necrotic Control Division, uses her to help find out who the zombies are and where they've gone.  You see there are zombies out there. But the government is able to catch and kill them before they get too far.  Usually.  It is a disease, but not like when you get bit you turn.  Not the normal zombie disease.  In fact it seems to be passed on like an STD in this book.  And it is kind of weird.  It seems they don't just change into brain eating, slow moving zombies.  Once they've eaten, humans, or maybe other animals occasionally, they heal and turn back almost to normal.  So when Cass gets into Jake's thoughts, she sees a normal teenage boy.  One that she thinks she could have been friends with.  Maybe even develops a bit of a crush on as she keeps going into his thoughts.  But on the road, Jake and Amanda may be developing a bit of a romance themselves.  They see that the high school where they kind of went crazy and ate there friends has now been named a school shooting site.  And then they see that supposedly they've been captured?  Which totally isn't true as they are still on the run.  Cass finds out this organization she's been a part of may not be all as good as she thinks it is.  The main boss, a scary nerdy guy wearing a bow-tie, seems to have some alternative plans for what to do with these zombies.  And it seems he has his own telepathic powers, and they are strong, and he can use them to basically do what he wants. 

A good story, you root for the zombies, and you also see a government secret, definitely one for fans of The X-Files, which I definitely am.  And the humor, the sarcasm of the characters gave me some laugh out loud bits.  One at the very end, I have to describe.  Jake and Amanda were hiding in an abandoned farm house, one that seemed haunted to Jake. At this point Cass has decided to go ahead and help the NCD catch them so she can go back to her old life and forget all this.  Jake and Amanda are starting to take their relationship into a more physical stage when Cass's crew catches up to them.  The front door slams open with a bang, and Jake can see a huge silhouette in the doorway, and he shouts:  "Angry ghost farmer!".  Okay, maybe call it out of contest where I've talked about it, but it still cracks me up.  That's my kind of silly humor I guess.  This could be a fun movie I think.  If they did it right, with both the right amount of blood and gore and seriousness, but also the right amount and kind of in your face humor, we know this is crazy.  Just like the book does. 

Can't wait till I get to my copy of the 2nd one from BEA now to see what happens next.

Friday, June 27, 2014

Feature and Follow Friday - June 27th, 2014

Once again I've realized that this is a meme I used to participate in all the time last year, but this year, well I don't think I've done one since January!  Crazy!  Feature and Follow Friday is sponsored by Parajunkee and Alison Can Read.  The purpose of this event is to learn about the two featured bloggers each week, as well as to increase your own blog following by joining in on the fun! This week's question/activity is:

Post a photo of your favorite coffee mug (or mugs if you can’t choose just one).

The dachshund of course is my favorite part of this.  Target had some awesome stuff one Valentine's Day a year or so ago. And then the color of the handle matches perfectly with the color of my Keurig coffee maker (used for hot chocolate mostly).

What does your favorite mug look like?

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Review: Just Like the Movies by Kelly Fiore

First I have to say thank you to Netgalley and Bloomsbury for allowing me to read an e-galley of this book.  And this was actually the perfect choice to read after my last read, Grasshopper Jungle.  Because as dense and intense of a read as that was, this was a nice, light, fluffy, easy to read, no brains really needed.  And that's a good thing!  Believe me!  It's definitely chick lit, for teens of course.  But in a really great way that I enjoyed because the movies they were referring to, many were from my teen days, but also more recent ones, and recent ones that I also was a big fan of. 

There are two main characters, Marijke, (whose name I just could not say right in my head, even after they gave an example at the beginning of how to pronounce it), and Lily.  Marijke is a track star, but has kind of lost her group of friends once she got involved with her current boyfriend Tommy.  Tommy is kind of new to the school, and is the "hot" guy, the one that it seems everyone is after, or is flirting with, at least as far as Marijke seems to see.  And she has a bit of a jealousy problem.  As much as Tommy is constantly assuring her that she is the only girl for him, anything she sees, texts, facebook conversations, whatever, seem to have more meaning behind them to her.  Lila is the nerdy girl.  At least the one that no one really remembers having in classes year after year.  She may look familiar, but no one can seem to remember her name.  She has a huge crush, from a distance of course, on Joe, the motocross star of the school.  One night they both end up at a theater revival showing of Titanic.  Marijke in tears because of another fight with Tommy over her jealousy.  And Lily because her mom has once again ditched her in order to go out with another loser, and left her with nothing else to do.  When Marijke leaves the theater crying uncontrollably, Lily feels as if she should go after her and see if she needs a friend.  And a friendship does develop, however tentatively, as they wonder why love isn't like in the movies.  And they decide to help each other get their man using famous bits from movies such as Say Anything, Sixteen Candles, Easy A, and others. 

Suffice it to say that hilarity as well as sadness ensues.  A cute, fun read as I said to begin with.  While I'm good with it, there is one thing that Tommy does that I'm not sure was explained away well enough to my satisfaction, and there was one part with Joe as well.  All in all, I liked the ending, and I liked the characters, and I could see it being a fun teen movie in itself, especially with all the pop culture mentions of past teen movies. 

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Review: Grasshopper Jungle by Andrew Smith

I gave in and put my name on the waiting list at the library for this one.  I'd just been hearing so much about it, and it really does sound like my type of story from the synopsis.  I was pretty excited when it finally came in for me to check out two days before I went to have my surgery.  So I went and got it, and it was one I took to read while recovering at my dad and stepmom's house.  It wasn't a "quick" read, in that there was a lot to read.  I couldn't zoom through it, skipping things to get the story.  But it was hard to put down, in that I needed to know what was going to happen, and the suspense just built and built.  I will have to say, without giving anything away, that the ending was not exactly what I was expecting.  I'm not saying that in a bad way.  I had just assumed from the way the story was going, that something different was going to happen.  Honestly, I do really like the way the story ended.  Here's my summary of the story:

The main character is Austin Szerba.  And he is a Polish boy.  We know that because he gives us the history of his family starting really in detail with those who came to America.  His best friend is Robby Brees, and his girlfriend is Shann Collins.  Austin is a confused teen.  And like most other boys his age, very horny.  He loves his girlfriend, and is always thinking about sex with her.  But his best friend Robby is gay.  And he is not sure about if he might be interested in Robby as well.  He loves his best friend, and accepts him for who he is, and knows that Robby has feelings for him like he has for Shann.  He even fantasizes about both of them, or should I say, all three of them together.  Now, Austin and Robby go to a private Lutheran school (shout out for that, as I went to a Lutheran school from 1st-8th grade).  And they do get picked on.  That is kind of where the whole story begins.  Some bullies take Austin and Robby's skateboards and shoes and throw them up on the roof of an old almost empty shopping center.  When they go back to recover their belongings later in the evening, they end up going into the store beneath, which just happens to be owned by Shann Collin's stepdad.  They decide to go into his office, because no one ever does. And there they find lots of crazy things.  Hands inside of jars.  A two headed baby boy inside a jar.  Parts of giant bugs inside of jars.  And also glowing globes.  Unfortunately at that same moment, the bullies are back, they want to steal from the liquor store connected to this same store.  They go into the office and take some of the glowing globes.  As they are leaving, they drop one of them.  And the glowing stuff spreads there on the ground.  And that is that.  The beginning of the end of the world.  Soon Austin and Robby and Shann find a silo, a silo that gives away information about what is soon to be the cause of all the world's problems.  They learn about the Unstoppable Soldier, basically a giant praying mantis.  And do you know what these bugs like to do?  Two things, as we are told over and over, eat and have sex. 

So, yes, this is a crazy science fiction story about giant bugs and secret corporations who create things for the military that go wrong, and are covered up until an accident sets them loose again.  But, it is also a coming of age story.  We get the inside scoop on how Austin is dealing with his friend and his girlfriend, and experimenting, and what he can also almost only think about one thing, sex.  I loved how this even touched on an often challenged/banned book, The Chocolate War by Robert Cormier.  I'm going to guess that this book is going to be challenged by many people who actually pick it up and read it as well.  I really liked how honest all of it was though.  How uncertain he felt, but also intrigued about his best friend, even though he knew he was definitely interested in his girlfriend too.  How he realized that what he was doing was going to hurt both of them.  And that what he was doing was selfish.  I loved all the history that he kept adding to the story. Although at first I was a bit worried it would be too redundant.

This made for a very interesting, funny, heartbreaking, intense, edge of your seat read.  I will recommend it, with caution of course at school, but to all book lovers, and to fellow teachers and librarians looking for new, original stories for teens. 

Monday, June 23, 2014

Review: Conversion by Katherine Howe

First, thanks to Edelweiss and Putnam Juvenile for allowing me to read an e-galley of this title.  I have read the adult novel by this same author, The Physick Book of Deliverance Dane, and it was also very interesting.  I don't think I have that review on this blog that I can link back to unfortunately though.  When I heard the way they were promoting this, Prep meets The Crucible, I must say I was very intrigued and so requested it.

Now, I don't know if that description is actually right on the money.  Yes, we have a prep school, all girls.  And yes, it is talking about the exact story of The Crucible.  But it was still a pretty good story the way it was.  We had flashbacks from the time of the Salem witch trials.  And we also had up to date parts of the story of a group of girls who began developing little tics and other types of illnesses seemingly for no reason, and with no causes.  The main character, at least in the modern part of the story, is named Colleen.  She is actually reading The Crucible, something that the students should have already read, but now she is reading it for extra credit because she really wants to be the valedictorian for her class.  She finds many similarities between the girls from back during the witch trials and what is happening to the girls in her class.  She even discovers some things that didn't even occur to me until they were pointed out in the book.

Some things that disappointed me were I would have liked more information about the modern day girls.  As well as more information from other viewpoints of the girls back in the original witch trials in the book.

Another reason I had been really intrigued to read this is because I remember when the girls were coming on the news and claiming all these weird tics and things happening to them.  I don't remember hearing much about it since.  I'm assuming that maybe the true story ended up with the same kind of diagnosis as the book did.  I'll have to do some research into that myself some time.  Definitely a good book for students to read who are interested in the Salem Witch Trials.  Could definitely be a good read after or with The Crucible.  I will be putting this on my list to order for the high school library where I work.

On a personal note, my recovery from my surgery last week seems to be going pretty well.  Unfortunately I've not read as much as I'd like so far, because a lot of times I'm still kind of tired and go to sleep instead of reading.  But I'm getting better slowly, so reading and blogging will get back on track!!

Saturday, June 21, 2014

Review: Erased (Altered #2) by Jennifer Rush

Hi everyone!  I have of course been kind of out of it sine I had surgery on Wednesday.  I actually finished this book Tuesday night, late, but haven't had time review it since then.  Doctor said the surgery went just fine and I am healing well.  However the pain medicine is making me sleepy, so sitting up to do much doesn't happen.  In fact, there may be a lot of typos and such in this as I'm still having trouble with heavy eyelids.  My thought was that maybe doing this would help me stay awake more.

If you haven't read the first book in this series, you may not want to read much further than this first sentence or so.  I did really enjoy the first one in the series, Altered, and it was one of the books I got when I attended BEA for the fist time in 2012.  One of the things you can see in my review of the first one is that I'd wished for a bit more science  Yes, we got some new science in this second story, but it still didn't give me quite as much as I'd wished for.  So I am glad to see there is a 3rd book coming out in 2015, as well as a kind of short prequel available at this time.  Once again when I get some money I'll have to buy it.  Okay, possible spoilers for the first book coming up, so STOP reading now.

Anna is now on the run with Sam, Nick, and Cas, after the Branch attacked the farmhouse where they were staying.  Now on the run, they are looking for anything that might help them finally be free of the Branch.  To get their lives back to as normal as possible.  Along the way they find more boys like them, and Anna even finds and rescues her sister Dani.  Trev even offers some help, which Anna nd the others are leery to take after he betrayed them in the first book.  Anna doesn't really remember much about her sister, or her life growing up.  In this book she finds out some of the reasons for that.  She learns more about her past, as well as Sam, Nick, and Cas's past lives before.  Anna learns that Nick may not always have been this surly and hateful towards her.  But now, she must decide how much can she trust her sister, who also used to be in love with Sam like Anna is now.  She learns of an Uncle Will, and again, doesn't know how much she can trust anyone who once may have worked or been involved with the Branch.

Another good, on the road kind of story.  Which I've mentioned before how it seems the 2nd book in a trilogy is often like that.  But I'd say it wasn't a bad way, it was still interesting, once again like the first book, so hard to put down.  So my advice is to get ahold of this and read on in the series!  I wasn't disappointed, and I don't think you will be either.

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Wishlist Wednesday June 18th, 2014

Wishlist Wednesday is a weekly meme, hosted at Pen to Paper Blog, in which we feature a book we can't wait to get off of our wish list and onto our shelves!  Today I go into surgery, so I'm posting some books I'd really like to have that are already out, but I am too broke to get them at the moment.  Guess I'll be checking into the library soon.

Since I just finished book 5, see my review of it HERE, I am very eager to go on and finish the series.  

The first two in the series I was able to read as e-galleys.  I unfortunately never got an e-galley for this one, so now I will have to get ahold of the actual book.

Another book that I need is the 3rd one in the Caster Chronicles, since I just finished Book 2 in the series.

Those are the three books that I'm really wanting to get ahold of soon so that I can continue on with the stories before they get too far back and I have trouble getting back into them.  What book or books are on your wishlist this week?

Monday, June 16, 2014

Review: City of Lost Souls (The Mortal Instruments #5) by Cassandra Clare

I've had this book for at least a year, and decided to get to it now that the final book is out.  And it will definitely contribute to my Prequels and Sequels Challenge that I'm doing.  Now, I remember the end of book 4, but there was a lot of details that were a bit fuzzy.  Fortunately I was able to get right back into the book and not feel lost at all.  I have to say that I really enjoyed this one, and am extremely excited for the final book.  Guess I'll have to purchase that sometime soon.  When I have some money that is.  Now, obviously, if you haven't read the books before this, you should probably STOP right now.  I promise to do my best not to give any spoilers on this one, but can't promise anything about the past books.

The one thing I remembered from the last book is right where we kind of start off.  Sebastian, Clary's brother, had been dead, but now had disappeared, along with Jace, during the short time Clary went to let the others know he was okay.  Clary is having to deal first with the Clave, who have basically put her on trial for what she did in order to save Jace's life.  The Clave gives up on searching for him, or at least puts it on a back burner after they decide Clary is not guilty of anything really bad.  So of course Clary, Alec, and Isabelle decide they must continue the search on their own.  Of course Simon will be there to help Clary, and Magnus will be there for Alec.  But then Jace and Sebastian show up, and Jace says he just wants Clary to come with them, and be with him.  Clary's mother, Jocelyn, tries to kill Sebastian, but Clary knows that killing Sebastian will kill Jace because of how they have been bound magically.  So as she goes to stop him, Luke, her mother's boyfriend, gets shot with something that has demon blood on it. And this poisons him.  And now Jocelyn wants to take Clary and go somewhere that Jace can't come look for them.  But Clary feels that if she went to Jace and Sebastian, maybe she could figure out how to get Jace back, and also find out what Sebastian is up to, in order to try to stop it. So she goes looking for Jace.  And finds him.  From then on she is staying with them, trying to find out what is going on, and also trying to stay near Jace. But she knows this Jace isn't really her Jace, even though it is obvious this Jace still loves her.  At the same time Alec and Magnus are trying to find a way to separate Jace and Sebastian, or even to just find a weapon that could hurt Sebastian while not hurting Jace.  There is an attempt to get a demon to help them find a weapon.  To get an angel as well. 

Simon and Isabelle's relationship is still going along, both trying to figure out where they want to be.  Alec is so unsure of his relationship with Magnus.  The fact that Magnus is immortal, and has had such a long life before him.  When someone offers to take away Magnus's immortality, Alec doesn't know if that is something he wants done or not.  Many people are coming out and trying to make deals.  The Seelie Queen, the vampire Camille, even the Vampire Raphael.  Many, many things all come together in this story.  But it's not too much, at least it wasn't for me.  Everything was very well developed, the emotions of the characters, all of it.  As I said, I am so eager for the final book now!  It wasn't a huge cliffhanger ending, but that's okay, I'm back in that world, and so ready to go on and find out how it will all end. 

I didn't get to officially meet Cassandra Clare at BEA, as I chose to wait in line for Maggie Stiefvater instead.  I did get her autograph though, and a wave from her, but no picture unfortunately.  I will definitely hope to get to meet her some other time.

Sunday, June 15, 2014

Sunday Post #10 and Stacking the Shelves June 15th, 2014

The Sunday Post is a weekly meme hosted  @ Caffeinated Book Reviewer. It’s a chance to share news ~ A post to recap the past week on your blog, showcase books and things we have received and share news about what is coming up on our blog for the week ahead. See rules here: Sunday Post Meme.

 I chose to not just do Stacking the Shelves, but also a Sunday Post, because I may be missing in action for a bit on my blog starting this Wednesday.  You see I'm having a major surgery on Wednesday.  Not only is it kind of a big one, I've never had surgery before, so I have no idea how long it will take me to recover.  Plus, once I get out of the hospital I'm going to be staying at my dad and stepmom's house for a few days or until I get to where I can take care of myself.  Which I'm hoping that by next Sunday I'll feel that way.  So I'm hoping to post Monday and Tuesday for sure.  After that, there's no telling when I will post again, by next week I'm sure though.  One thing I do hope to get done during my recovery time is lots of reading.  And while I normally try to review as soon as I finish each book, I may have a bunch of reviews all one right after another if I don't feel like blogging, but get a lot of books read.  Plus this past week I've been kind of helping my mom out after she had surgery a week and a half ago, so while I'm hanging out at her house, I'm not really getting as much reading done as I'd like to, so that's why I didn't have posts every day this past week.

Last week on my blog:

This week on my blog:

I'm pretty sure I will have a review of the current book I'm reading either tomorrow night or Tuesday, and that is City of Lost Souls by Cassandra Clare, part of my Big Book Summer Challenge.  Not sure what I'll post tomorrow if I don't get the book finished by then.  And I may try to go ahead and do a Waiting on Wednesday Tuesday night, set to post on Wednesday, so that I get more done this week.  We'll see how this week goes. 

Stacking the Shelves is hosted by Tynga's Reviews.  It is a way for us to share the new books we have collected.  I didn't do this post last weekend, so this will include everything for the past two weeks.  

Received ARC from publisher:

YA Book Exchange:

Received from authors I met standing in line at BEA (not requested):

The first one is a dystopian, so I'm very excited about it. The second one is fantasy, so we'll see how far I get with it when I get a chance to get to it.

E-galley from Netgalley:

Free e-books:

So the last was a set that was free(still is as of today, go HERE), and includes:
One or two are ones I will probably never read, but who knows.  Several sounded good, and hey, free!
So, those are the books I added to my shelves, mostly my Nook shelves, these past two weeks.  Did you add anything good this week?

Thursday, June 12, 2014

Big Book Summer Challenge

I recently found this challenge over at Book By Book, and I thought it sounded great, especially as I found it right as I was starting a book with over 500 pages.  And for this challenge, you only have to pledge to read ONE book over 400 pages.  So how simple is that?  This challenge started on Memorial Day weekend, and will run until Labor Day weekend which is September 1st this year.  All you have to do is write a post like this one, announcing your participation, and then at the end post about how well you did.  If you want to you can review the books, which I will, but that isn't even required.  You can list the books you intend to read if you want, but that isn't even necessary for your beginning post.  I am going to list my proposed books below, one of which I'm actually in the middle of reading at the moment.

  • City of Lost Souls by Cassandra Clare
  • Light (Gone #6) by Michael Grant
  • Conversion by Katherine Howe
  • The City by Dean Koontz
  • White Space by Ilsa J. Bick
Now the last one I actually started a bit back, but wasn't able to finish, so I'll try to read it again this summer, but it's probably one that I may not get to.  I'm having some major surgery next week, and so figure I'll have lots of uninterrupted time to read while I'm recovering.

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

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

(Don't You) Forget About Me(Don't You) Forget About Me by Kate Karyus Quinn
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Thanks to Harper Teen and Edelweiss for allowing me to read an e-galley of this. I didn't get to it until the day before my e-copy would expire, but it was a read that I was able to pick up and get right into.

I'm not sure exactly what to think about the book. It was a very unique story. I love how the title, as well as the titles of many of the chapters, were the names of songs I remember from the 80's. It definitely had me reading to the very end to try to find out exactly what was the real story about what was going on. And while I feel that it ended in a perfectly explained way, there was one or two things I think would have been good to maybe have in the story a bit more than they were.

The main character is Skylar. She lives in the town of Gardnerville. Gardnerville is a magical place. People don't get sick, if you have cancer, or are dying from something else, you can go there, and you will be healed. Not only healed, but people live really long lives, like hundreds of years. But there is a down side. The kids there have powers of some sort. And every four years, the powers can get extremely strong, and there will be some kind of horrible accident. When these things happen, depending how severe they are, the person, a teen usually, is sent to the Reformatory for a given amount of time. In the Reformatory, it is as if they forget everything there. If they are ever allowed out, they come home broken, quiet, not quite the same person they were before. Four years before the story begins, Skylar's sister Piper led a bunch of kids onto the train track bridge. Most were able to jump to safety before being hit by the train. And Skylar doesn't remember much after what seemed like the train was going to hit Piper. But she knows that Piper is now in the Reformatory.

Now Skylar wants only to forget. But some people are trying to get her to remember, to figure out a way to stop things that are happening. Elton, Piper's boyfriend, has created drugs that help people. forget, or other things that are supposed to make the town safer. He uses Skylar's power, which is to be able to read people's secrets from their minds, to find out who might be a danger to others, and then they are put in the Reformatory. But some people want him to stop. A boy named Foote has come back in to town on the train at the beginning of the story. That is unusual because the rule is that once you leave town, you can't come back. You will go out into the rest of the world, and die from whatever was killing you before. Skylar and Foote seem to be drawn to each other, even through their pushing each other away.

Skylar wants only to get to Piper, and find out what she isn't remembering, as well as help Piper with what was their original plan, to take the Reformatory down so that no one ever has to go there again. But along the way Skylar learns so many things aren't what they seem, that the things she thought she remembered, may not be true, or the way she remembered them. A lot of twists and turns along the way.

I kind of guessed what was going on with Piper, although it was definitely not exactly the way I pictured it. I feel like the rats that were in the town weren't really explained enough, or didn't really have as much of a part in the whole story as they should have, for what they ended up being a part of in the end. Really a twisty, creative story. A town I don't think I'd want to go to. Not even to live a longer life.

View all my reviews

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Top Ten Tuesday: Top 10 Books I've Read So Far This Year

Top Ten Tuesday is sponsored by The Broke and The Bookish.  

Even though I've already posted a review today, I really liked the idea of this week's Top 10 theme, so I decided to go ahead and join in.  Below are my top 10 books I've read so far in 2014, in no particular order.
 Have you read any of these?  What are some of your top books you've read so far this year?

Review: The Murder Complex by Lindsay Cummings

First thanks to Greenwillow Books, HarperCollins, and Edelweiss for allowing me to read an e-galley of this title.  I have followed this author as a blogger for a while now, and was very excited to be able to read this book when I saw it was available. 

This was a pretty quick read.  It had lots of action, and not a lot of time spent explaining things when it wasn't needed.  I think this helped the story move along very quickly, although I spent probably the first half of the book wondering, okay what is causing all this?  That's not a bad thing at all though, that is what kept me turning pages, the need to know more. 

The main character is Meadow, she is 15, and her whole life her father has trained her to be able to not only defend herself if needed, but to kill in the cases it might be required.  The reason for this is that at a certain point she will try to jump on a train and be taken to the Initiative to get a job.  Getting a job there means extra rations for her family.  Her family is her father, her older brother, and her younger sister.  Her mother was killed by the murders that seem to be happening during what is called the Dark Time, when all people are supposed to stay home and be safe.  This is a future where no one gets sick. they have these tags in them that have nanos that cure any injuries. They don't necessarily save them from scars, but at least they heal quickly and don't get sick.  Meadow's brother Koi didn't pass the test to work for the Initiative, because he was unable to kill, the final test.  Meadow is sure she can do it, as she wants to get in and try to solve the murder of her mother.

The other main character is Zephyr.  And he has killed.  What he doesn't know is why he kills.  He is a Ward, which means that he has no family and lives in a tent with other Wards.  He works every day helping to pick up the bodies of the people murdered over night.  He has dreamed of a beautiful girl with silver hair.  And one day he will run into her, because she is Meadow.  Meadow will be drawn to him, and together they will find there is a conspiracy of some sort.  One that puts Meadow in trouble, so that she must go on the run.  But she doesn't know if she can trust Zephyr, since he tried to kill her. 

As they're on the run, you could use the old saying, "the plot thickens".  More and more things are brought to light about this dystopian society.  We learn things about Meadow's family that make even more questions for Meadow and Zephyr to try to answer. 

While I got a lot of answers by the end, I still need to know more and what else is going to happen.  So, I'll be waiting for another book, and also plan to read the novella, The Fear Trials.

A great dystopian read full of action and mystery, really hard to put down once you pick it up.

Monday, June 9, 2014

It's Monday! What Are You Reading? - June 9th, 2014

This weekly meme is sponsored by Book Journey, and we talk about things we read last week, and our plans for what we'll read this coming week. 

Last Week:

So, the beginning of last week I was still in New York City after BEA, still visiting with my sister.  I didn't get hardly any reading done for being at a book convention, but that's okay.  Plus, my sister kept me pretty busy so I didn't always get much reading done even after BEA was over.  But once I got home last week, I picked up my books and got to reading.  I had three reviews I posted last week, although one I finished before I got to NYC, and just didn't have any time to read or blog during BEA and spending time with my sister.  So technically, all I actually read last week were these two:
Now I really, really tried to read The Strange Maid by Tessa Gratton, I have an e-galley of it.  But for some reason I just haven't been able to spend the time really needed to concentrate on the story.  Whenever I did have time that I could just read and there was nothing else to distract me, I really was getting into it.  But the e-galley expires on Wednesday, and the book I'm currently reading expires then. So I decided to read The Murder Complex by Lindsay Cummings, and wait to finish Gratton's book for when I actually get a physical copy of it, because I will own it some day, as I own all her books.

I was able to get back to blogging at the rate I want to, with three reviews including Dark Metropolis by Jaclyn Dolamore, and three days of BEA recap:  Day 1, Day 2, and Day 3.  

This week:

As I said above, I'm currently reading The Murder Complex, so that will probably be reviewed tomorrow.  I may do a Wishlist Wednesday recap talking about which bloggers I met at BEA, since I did a post beforehand about which ones I wanted to meet.  Not sure yet about that.  I'm going to try really hard to get Don't You Forget About Me by Kate Karyus Quinn read before my e-galley of it expires on Wednesday as well.  Afterwards, not sure what other book I'll pick up.  Maybe finally get around to reading City of Lost Souls by Cassandra Clare so that I can be ready to read City of Heavenly Fire.  I'll also do a Stacking the Shelves post this week, with the few books I've gotten that weren't from BEA and featured already.  I did get a few off of Edelweiss today in fact.  And then there were some that I didn't get ARCs of at BEA, so I immediately went and downloaded them from Edelweiss as well!

Sunday, June 8, 2014

Review: Storm by Donna Jo Napoli

I got a copy of this book through the YA Book Exchange.  I was intrigued by the topic, basically it is a kind of retelling of the story of Noah and the Ark from the bible.  Along with the recent movie and its controversy, the topic seemed like an interesting one to go ahead and read a YA book about. 

The story was about a girl who wasn't one that was taken on the ark, a 16 year old girl named Sebah.  It begins of course with the torrential rain and flooding, and she is separated from her family, soon as far as she knows, she is the only person left alive, hiding at the top of trees.  Then a boy shows up, and as he saves her from a boar, he also claims her for his wife.  His name is Aban, and eventually as the water gets even higher than the trees, he builds a raft and they float off.  While Seban has a bit of protection in her cloak, he has none, and his skin gets really pruny, and he gets sicker and sicker.  Then, one day out of nowhere, a rope hits their raft.  And as Sebah grabs it, it begins to pull their raft closer to something that is huge, and soon they see it is the ark.  Sebah is able to grab onto the rope and pull herself closer to the ark, but Aban is too weak.  He tells her to go on, that saving herself is only right, and makes all that he's done to help her stay alive worth it.  So she does, but that is the last she sees of Aban.  As she is pulled on to the ark and through a porthole, it is by what she first thinks is a very strange looking person.  Well, it is actually a bonobo monkey.  She soon names her savior Queen, and her fellow bonobo, the Male.  The Queen takes care of her, making sure she gets food, protecting her from the Male who seems to want to do nothing but mate constantly. 

As Sebah's time goes on in the ark, she learns to hide herself as she hears the people on board, Noah's family, come around, and hears them talk about how only 2 of every type of animal has been allowed on the boat, and that only their family has been chosen by their Mighty Creator to survive this flood.  So she is afraid that if she is found, she will be thrown off the boat to die.  While there she begins to feel sorry for the animals that seem more and more depressed, and so she figures out a way to start letting them out of their cages at night to feel some freedom. 

I could see this being a controversial book for religious reasons.  But it does have very interesting things to think about in it.  Sebah's skeptical thoughts about the different gods, and not being a follower of Noah's God, could be part of a reason that this book could be protested.  As a teen book, there is sex in it, I mean look at the time period.  But I could see that being an issue for some readers or people looking to put it in their school libraries.  It is not explicit sex, but you know that is what they are talking about for sure.  And the look at Noah and his family members could also be considered in a bad light.  I know I'd heard all the stories that Noah might have been a drunk, and it is included in the conversations between his family members in the book, as well as some of the ways men treated their wives is included.  Unfortunately those treatments were probably the truth of that time.

It was a pretty interesting read though.  If you're not offended by any of those things and are able to look at it away from the biblical issues, I think it is a good story, and definitely worth giving a try.

Saturday, June 7, 2014

BEA 2014 Day 3 Recap (and Book Con)

The last day of BEA is usually much more relaxed.  Not this year however.  Book Con majorly changed that, with anywhere from 6,000-8,000 more people in the Javits Center that day.  Sure, they were kept in only one part of the convention center.  The only problem with that?  It was the section where almost all the authors were.  So any autographing was a huge mess, as they didn't really have room for all those people who had shown up.  And this was one of my disappointments of the day.  You can read a really great summary of the issues with Book Con by Jen at the Bawdy Book Blog.

My next disappointment with day 3 came with a decision I had made in my planning for day 2.  Since I knew that an author I really wanted to meet, AG Howard, was signing both Friday and Saturday morning at 9 am, I decided to wait till Saturday, because Becca Fitzpatrick was only there on Friday.  Sounds like a good plan, right?  However, because Saturday was Book Con, the book I would have been handed for free on Friday, a finished copy of Unhinged, I had to purchase.  It was a discounted price, but still kind of stung to have to pay for it just for waiting 24 hours.  But, I knew it was a book I'd have to buy at some point since I'd not received a physical ARC of it, so I dealt with that as well.  And I got to meet AG Howard, who I have really enjoyed interacting with on social media like Facebook and Twitter, having read and loved her book series. And, it was starting my day off on plan still.

After this I headed over to where I really wish I'd saved my front of the line pass.  I have never met Cassandra Clare, and really wish I could have.  But I also knew that I had to see Maggie Stiefvater again, I had to share with her my photo of her and I at BEA 2012 that was in a biography of her.  So while I was standing in line, getting closer to seeing Maggie, the people with me in line were saying that I should show the people in the Cassandra Clare booth my ticket to meet her, that I didn't use, and see if I could at least get a copy of the book she was signing at that time, The Shadowhunter's Codex.  She actually ended up signing one more, as the ones she'd been signing had been boxed up, and even waved to me over in the line.  But alas, I didn't get a picture.

Finally I got up to see Maggie Stiefvater.  Of course, she recognizes me by now.  I guess I kind of stand out with always asking the same kind of questions. But I had her sign the biography book, even while I was able to get an ARC of Shiver.  Of course I will have to pre-order a copy of Shiver so that I can get one with the special jacket she designed.  Next pay day for sure!  They took lots of candid shots of her looking at the biography, but I'll just share one, and then my picture with her, with my usual dorky smile that I get when I'm really excited and don't have time to control my smile.  :-)


After Maggie Stiefvater I was in for a bunch of disappointments.  I had met Jackie Morse Kessler before, and really wanted her book, but because I'd met her, I didn't want to wait in line.  So, I was able to see her after the above signing, and get a picture with her, but unfortunately no copies of her new book, To Bear an Iron Key

An author that I think had a big line earlier in the convention, had a pretty small line today.  I know I'd put the book down as one to try to get, but not sure if it was for me, or for a giveaway.  Anyway, I got an ARC of The Fire Artist by Daisy Whitney, and met the author as well.

There were some authors I didn't even know would be there until I saw a copy of the Book Con guide for the day.  One of them was a disappointment as he ended up being cancelled when I went by to check his line, Steve Alten, and I'm a huge fan, so that was very disappointing.  But another was Sophie Littlefield.  I'm a fan of her zombie series, Aftertime, and also her YA book Hanging by a Thread.  The book I got of hers for this, House of Glass, isn't really my type, but I did get to meet her, so that was cool!

Now I know that next I got to meet Scott Sigler, and I know that I had a picture taken with him, but I can't find it on my phone!  It's possible that maybe I forgot to get it, I was in a bit of a texting argument with my sister at the time about an activity she had planned for us when I got done with BEA for the day.  So while I can't show you the picture of me and Scott Sigler, I did meet him and get a copy of Pandemic

After this I went and got in line for an author that they hadn't really started the line for yet.  But he is another one that I think was only there for Book Con, but is a really great author, Matt de la Pena.  His latest book, The Living, is the one I got a copy of.  And actually it is my favorite of all of his books, because it is more than just a contemporary fiction, it has a bit of an adventure with a shipwreck.  And I got to be 2nd in line to meet him as well!

About this time my text argument came to a full head of steam, and I was getting pretty upset.  So, I ended up leaving early, because I was upset, and I missed out on getting a copy of a Jonathan Maberry book I hadn't read, which made me a bit disappointed. But then I reminded myself about how many books I actually had already, so I was okay with it I guess.  I did take a picture of one author that I don't read, but I know is really popular, Sylvia Day.

I didn't try to stand in line for Alex London either, although I would have liked to have met the author of Proxy.   I kind of enjoyed that book, but had trouble getting back into the sequel as an e-galley that I had, so don't know when or if I'll get to finish that story.  I also was able to get a copy of the Holly Black book, The Darkest Part of the Forest, even though I was unable to meet her due to not having a ticket and the horrible lines anyway.  Here is a picture of my haul from that last day.  Now, I didn't include the extra stuff I got.  I had planned to do a separate picture of all the bags and stuff I got, but never got around to it I guess. 

As awesome as it is to have a free place to stay in such an expensive city, I kind of think if I ever go to BEA again, I'd like to stay in a hotel near the convention center and spend more time immersed in the convention and the other activities.  I probably will not attend BEA next year, even though it is the last year in NYC that I would have my sister to stay with for free.  You see in order to afford to go to this, I have to skip my family annual get together on Memorial Day weekend in Branson, MO.  Now my sister that I stay with in NYC doesn't seem to understand why that is so important to me. It isn't necessarily that it is Branson, it is just that it is a tradition, and I love to spend that time with family.  I may try to go to the ALA Midwinter conference in Chicago next year.  I really wish I could go to ALA this year, in Las Vegas, but the plane ticket alone was way too expensive.  And maybe, I'll take both conferences off and save money next year, because in 2016, ALA will be in Orlando, and I want to go there so bad for the Harry Potter park at Universal Studios.  So that would totally be worth waiting and saving money for I think.