Friday, January 30, 2015

Reading Challenge Update- January

The month of January has flown by so quickly!  It seems like just yesterday I was pledging my 2015 resolutions.  I've decided to do a monthly recap post of my reading challenges. Here's how they look now:

2015 Outdo Yourself Reading Challenge hosted by The Book Vixen
I've read 16 books this year so far.  My goal is 150 books (not including picture books) and I'm currently ahead 7 books.

Finishing the Series Challenge hosted by Socrates' Book Reviews.
Popularity Papers by Amy Ignatow

Flavia de Luce by Alan Bradley
The Dead in their Vaulted Arches
As Chimney Sweepers Come to Dust

The Lunar Chronicles by Marissa Meyer
Fairest
Winter

His Fair Assassin by Robin LaFevers
Grave Mercy
Dark Triumph
Mortal Heart

Delirium by Lauren Oliver
Delirium
Pandemonium
Requiem
(Watch for a post at the beginning of February with my thoughts on this series!)

I've also made some progress on finishing some series, but I still have a long way to go.

 Contemporary Challenge hosted by The Book Belles

1. I'll Give You the Sun by Jandy Nelson
2. Even in Paradise by Chelsey Philpot
3. Made for You by Melissa Marr
4. All Fall Down by Ally Carter

I signed up to read 16-20 contemporary books, so I've made good progress.  

As for my other challenges, Romantic Suspense Challenge, Men in Uniform Challenge, and  Debut Author Challenge, I haven't made any progress on those.  I've still got plenty time though!  

Have you made any progress on your reading challenges?  Leave a list or link in the comments!

Thursday, January 29, 2015

Made for You by Melissa Marr

Made for You by Melissa Marr
Published by HarperCollins on September 16, 2014

Summary: "When Eva Tilling wakes up in the hospital, she’s confused—who in her sleepy little North Carolina town could have hit her with their car? And why? But before she can consider the question, she finds that she’s awoken with a strange new skill: the ability to foresee people’s deaths when they touch her. While she is recovering from the hit-and-run, Nate, an old flame, reappears, and the two must traverse their rocky past as they figure out how to use Eva’s power to keep her friends—and themselves—alive. But while Eva and Nate grow closer, the killer grows increasingly frantic in his attempt to get to Eva."  -- From Goodreads


What I Loved:
The pacing.  I read this book in less than 24 hours.  When I wasn't reading, I was thinking about the story.  Marr kept the reader guessing until almost the end of the book.

Eva.  I thought that Eva was a strong and likeable main character.  She didn't fall apart when they finally figured out that the killer really was after her.  Eva dealt with the craziness and put together a plan of her own.

Overall, I really enjoyed this book.  It was a great, fast-paced read.  I did have a hunch who the killer was going to be, and I got it right.  I will be reading more of Melissa Marr's books in the future.

Disclosure: I borrowed a copy from my library.

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Trash by Andy Mulligan

Trash by Andy Mulligan
Published by David Fickling Books on October 12, 2010 

Summary: "In an unnamed Third World country, in the not-so-distant future, three “dumpsite boys” make a living picking through the mountains of garbage on the outskirts of a large city.

One unlucky-lucky day, Raphael finds something very special and very mysterious. So mysterious that he decides to keep it, even when the city police offer a handsome reward for its return. That decision brings with it terrifying consequences, and soon the dumpsite boys must use all of their cunning and courage to stay ahead of their pursuers. It’s up to Raphael, Gardo, and Rat—boys who have no education, no parents, no homes, and no money—to solve the mystery and right a terrible wrong." -- From Goodreads


Things I Liked:
Alternating viewpoints.  I liked how the story alternated between the different boys, Father Juilliard, Miss Olivia, and others.  It allowed the reader to see the different aspects of the story.

Things I Disliked:
The mystery.  I wish the author would have gone into more detail about the mystery surrounding the wallet and key.  It didn't seem as fleshed out as I needed it to be.  I just wanted more and it felt like it didn't deliver.

Overall, I think the book could have been written better, with more details in some spots.

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Top Ten Tuesday: Books I'd Want to Read with a Book Club



Top Ten Tuesday is a meme hosted by The Broke and the Bookish.  This week's theme is ten books I'd want to read with a book club.  Here we go!


If I Stay by Gayle Forman
A girl has to decide whether to live or die.

The Winner's Curse by Marie Rutkoski
The beginning of a rebellion.



And We Stay by Jenny Hubbard
Girl deals with the aftermath after watching ex-boyfriend kill himself.

Something Real by Heather Demetrios
The life of a reality tv star.


                

Noggin by John Corey Whaley
Boy's head gets surgically reattached to another body.

Pure Grit by Mary Cronk Farrell
How American nurses survived battle and prison camps.

         

Conversion by Katherine Howe
Mysterious ticks appear in girls.

Through the Woods by Emily Carroll
Graphic novel set in the Grimm's fairy tale world.




The Family Romanov by Candace Fleming
The lives and deaths of the Romanov family.

I'll Give You the Sun by Jandy Nelson
 The story of a set of twins, a girl and a boy.

What are the books that you're dying to read with a book club?  Leave a list or link in the comments!

Monday, January 26, 2015

Mortal Heart by Robin LaFevers

Mortal Heart by Robin LaFevers
Published by HMH Books for Young Readers on November 4, 2014.

Summary: "Annith has watched her gifted sisters at the convent come and go, carrying out their dark dealings in the name of St. Mortain, patiently awaiting her own turn to serve Death. But her worst fears are realized when she discovers she is being groomed by the abbess as a Seeress, to be forever sequestered in the rock and stone womb of the convent. Feeling sorely betrayed, Annith decides to strike out on her own.

She has spent her whole life training to be an assassin. Just because the convent has changed its mind doesn't mean she has." --From Goodreads

I can't do my normal book review loves and dislikes with this book.  I LOVED THIS BOOK.  I LOVED THIS SERIES.  The characters.  The plot.  The fact that the main characters are kick-butt heroines.  I love the way the author weaved her own story into the true facts of history.  I truly appreciated the ending, it gave the reader closure and also ensured that it was an open happy ending.

Grave Mercy
Dark Triumph
Mortal Heart

Friday, January 23, 2015

Half a Chance by Cynthia Lord

Half a Chance by Cynthia Lord
Published by Scholastic Press on February 25, 2014

Summary: "When Lucy's family moves to an old house on a lake, Lucy tries to see her new home through her camera's lens, as her father has taught her -- he's a famous photographer, away on a shoot. Will her photos ever meet his high standards? When she discovers that he's judging a photo contest, Lucy decides to enter anonymously. She wants to find out if her eye for photography is really special -- or only good enough.

As she seeks out subjects for her photos, Lucy gets to know Nate, the boy next door. But slowly the camera reveals what Nate doesn't want to see: his grandmother's memory is slipping away, and with it much of what he cherishes about his summers on the lake. This summer, Nate will learn about the power of art to show truth. And Lucy will learn how beauty can change lives . . . including her own."  --From Goodreads


What I Loved:
Lucy & Nate.  I loved seeing their relationship blossom.  They were both on the edge of being teenagers, and weren't weirded out by the fact that Nate was a boy and Lucy was a girl.  

The Grandma.  So few novels depict a realistic relationship with a person who is starting to have a disease like dementia.  I loved the way Lord made the Grandma care about the loons.

What I Disliked:
Lucy's Dad.  While I understand how Lucy's dad may have been the premise for the entire book, there were still some times that I wanted to slap him.  He has the "Pa Ingalls syndrome" which means he's not comfortable in places for a long period of time, and he's always looking towards something else.  

Overall, I really liked this audiobook.  The narrator was a realistic child, and I enjoyed listening to her talk.  The story is one that I will recommend to those students who may be going through something similar.  It's so interesting to see how many students have grandparents that are suffering from a disease such as dementia.

Disclosure: I borrowed a copy of the audiobook from my library.

Thursday, January 22, 2015

All Fall Down by Ally Carter

All Fall Down by Ally Carter
Embassy Row #1
Published by Scholastic Press on January 20, 2015

Summary: "Grace can best be described as a daredevil, an Army brat, and a rebel. She is also the only granddaughter of perhaps the most powerful ambassador in the world and Grace has spent every summer of her childhood running across the roofs of Embassy Row.

Now, at age sixteen, she's come back to stay - in order to solve the mystery of her mother's death. In the process, she uncovers an international conspiracy of unsettling proportions, and must choose her friends and watch her foes carefully if she and the world are to be saved."  --From Goodreads


What I Loved:
The setting.  Adria.  I love how Ally Carter made Embassy Row come alive.  I could really picture the country, its King and Queen, and the tunnels that run under the city.  

The relationships.  The tensions between nations are realistic.  Iran is taboo, Russia and the United States have strained relations.  I really liked how Carter was able to translate those tensions into the relationships between the teens.

The ending.  While the ending was a bit of a cliffhanger, I'm going to guess MORE SPY STUFF?!?  I really hope so, as I miss Carter's Gallagher Girls series.

Overall, I really can't wait for the second book in this series.  I hope for it to be longer than a trilogy, but who knows?  The second book hasn't been announced yet, so I'm keeping my fingers (and toes) crossed.

Disclosure: I purchased my own copy.

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

The Popularity Papers by Amy Ignatow


Love and Other Fiascos by Amy Ignatow
Published by Amulet Books on October 8, 2013
Popularity Papers #6

Summary: "Love is in the air! Julie and Roland are an official “couple,” which means . . . well, they’re not exactly sure what, except that it makes Papa Dad extremely anxious. Meanwhile, Lydia’s mom announces that she’s marrying Coach Eric (the soccer coach from England), and Lydia and her sister, Melody, are not happy about it. With the wedding date looming, the girls will have to figure out how to accept the inevitability of change—and that even if the change isn’t what you thought you wanted, it can still end up all right, as long as you have good friends at your side." --From Goodreads






The Less-Than-Hidden Secrets and Final Revelations of Lydia Goldblatt and Julie Graham-Chang
Published by Amulet Books on September 9, 2014
Popularity Papers #7

Summary: "Lydia and Julie have been through many adventures as they navigated junior high, popularity, families, and friendship. In the final adventure in the series, the peaceful world of Hamlin Junior High is rocked when Lydia and Julie learn that they’re going to have to play host to new students whose school burned down. The outside threat bands the Hamlin kids together against a common enemy—for a while. When the enemy gets their hands on Lydia and Julie’s notebook, no one wants anything to do with the girls. It’s the biggest threat to their friendship (and a pretty definitive failure of their quest for popularity), and it can only be solved one way. Two words: dance battle." -- From Goodreads



I'm going to miss this series so much!  I love the illustrations of the books, and the fact that it does seem like two different girls are writing.  I know I'm going to miss the insights of Lydia and Julie.  I hope Amy Ignatow does another book in a few years, just as a catch-up.  One of my favorite graphic novel series!

Disclosure: I borrowed both copies from my library.

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Top Ten Tuesday: Book Covers as Art


Top Ten Tuesday is a meme hosted by The Broke and the Bookish.  This week's theme is a freebie, so I chose the top ten book covers I want to frame as art.  Here we go!


1. The Lunar Chronicles by Marissa Meyer
I love the bits of red on the covers. And the fonts?  Gorgeous!


2. The Infernal Devices by Cassandra Clare
I love the dreamlike quality of these covers.  The backgrounds of each, and the colors that are used make me swoon!


The symbols, the font, the placement of the red truck.


4. Seraphina by Rachel Hartman
I love that the drawing for the book cover is done in pencil.  Also, the dragon is gorgeous.


5. Daughter of Smoke and Bone trilogy by Laini Taylor
The colors!  The fonts!  Lovely!


6. Rebel Belle by Rachel Hawkins
I love the colors and the necklace.  The cover also juxtaposes girly with the masculine.


7. A Snicker of Magic by Natalie Lloyd
Who doesn't love ice cream?


8. Shatter Me trilogy by Tahereh Mafi
I love the eyes.  Windows to the soul.


9. Don't Look Back by Jennifer L. Armentrout
I love the ballerina.  And the mirror.  I love the entire cover.


10. These Broken Stars by Amie Kaufman & Meagan Spooner
Her dress!  The colors!  The stars!

What's your Top Ten Tuesday today?  Do you have any favorite book covers you want hanging on your wall?  Leave a list or link in the comments!

Monday, January 19, 2015

Nantucket Red by Leila Howland

Nantucket Red by Leila Howland
Published by Disney-Hyperion on May 13, 2014

Summary: "Cricket Thompson's lifetime of overachieving has paid off: she's headed to Brown University in the fall, with a spot on the lacrosse team and a scholarship that covers almost everything. Who knew living in the dorm cost money? An Ivy League education seems to mean living at home for the next four years.

When Cricket is offered the chance to earn enough cash to afford a real college experience, she heads back to Nantucket for the summer. But the faraway island challenges Cricket in ways she hadn't anticipated. It's hard to focus on earning money for next year, when she finds her world opening up in entirely new ways-to art, to travel, and, most unexpectedly, to a future completely different from the one she has been working toward her whole life. A friendship blossoms with Ben, the gorgeous surfer and bartender who encourages Cricket to be free, even as she smarts at the pain of seeing Zack, her first love, falling for her worst enemy.

But one night, when Cricket finally lets herself break all her own rules, she realizes she may have ruined her carefully constructed future with one impulsive decision. Cricket must dig deep to fight for her future, discovering that success isn't just about reaching goals, but also about listening to what she's been trying to ignore- her own heart." -- From Goodreads



I truly enjoyed this book. Cricket has grown up so much from the first book. She does make a hasty decision that will make an impact on her life forever, but that’s what I loved about the book. The events that happened to Cricket were so realistic.

The characters are not one-dimensional. Everyone has a back story, even those supporting characters. I’m pretty sure that this series is over, given the epilogue. It ended on a good note though.

This book (and series) is perfect for those girls who are looking for a summer beach read. They also deal with some more serious issues, but that’s what makes it interesting.

Disclosure: I received a digital galley of this book in exchange for a fair and honest review.

Nantucket Series
Nantucket Blue
Nantucket Red

Friday, January 16, 2015

Atlantia by Ally Condie

Atlantia by Ally Condie
Published by Dutton Children's on October 28, 2014

Summary: "For as long as she can remember, Rio has dreamt of the sand and sky Above—of life beyond her underwater city of Atlantia. But in a single moment, all her plans for the future are thwarted when her twin sister, Bay, makes an unexpected decision, stranding Rio Below. Alone, ripped away from the last person who knew Rio’s true self—and the powerful siren voice she has long hidden—she has nothing left to lose.

Guided by a dangerous and unlikely mentor, Rio formulates a plan that leads to increasingly treacherous questions about her mother’s death, her own destiny, and the complex system constructed to govern the divide between land and sea. Her life and her city depend on Rio to listen to the voices of the past and to speak long-hidden truths."  --From Goodreads






Things I Loved:
The Premise.  The fact that Rio is human, and that Below is designed for humans to live underwater.  I thought that the premise of the story was completely unique, and unlike anything I had ever read about "mermaids".

True Beck.  I love his name.  He also became Rio's voice of reason after Bay left.  I also liked the addition of his role towards the end of the book.  I don't want to give any spoilers, but he did a lot more than just stand around acting like man candy.

Thing I Disliked:
The conclusion.  Rio assumed a few things about her mother's death and a few other things about her city.  I can't remember if her assumptions were ever proven, or if she never got closure herself.

Overall: This was a unique take on mermaids and sirens.  I would recommend this book to anyone who likes more "light" fantasy.

Disclosure: I borrowed a copy from my library.

Thursday, January 15, 2015

Code Name Verity by Elizabeth Wein

Code Name Verity by Elizabeth Wein
Published by Egmont Press on February 6, 2012

“I have two weeks. You’ll shoot me at the end no matter what I do.  That’s what you do to enemy agents. It’s what we do to enemy agents. But I look at all the dark and twisted roads ahead and cooperation is the easy way out. Possibly the only way out for a girl caught red-handed doing dirty work like mine — and I will do anything, anything, to avoid SS-Hauptsturmf├╝hrer von Linden interrogating me again.  He has said that I can have as much paper as I need. All I have to do is cough up everything I can remember about the British War Effort. And I’m going to. But the story of how I came to be here starts with my friend Maddie. She is the pilot who flew me into France — an Allied Invasion of Two.” —From Goodreads





All I can say is wow. I’m surprised that I have never made it through this book until now. It is a great tale of friendship and of World War II. I’m excited to read the companion novel, Rose Under Fire.  I’m really glad my book club chose this book so that I would have to read this book.

Disclosure: I borrowed this book from my library.

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

The Jewel by Amy Ewing

The Jewel by Amy Ewing
Published by HarperTeen on September 2, 2014

Summary: "The Jewel means wealth. The Jewel means beauty. The Jewel means royalty. But for girls like Violet, the Jewel means servitude. Not just any kind of servitude. Violet, born and raised in the Marsh, has been trained as a surrogate for the royalty—because in the Jewel the only thing more important than opulence is offspring.

Purchased at the surrogacy auction by the Duchess of the Lake and greeted with a slap to the face, Violet (now known only as #197) quickly learns of the brutal truths that lie beneath the Jewel’s glittering facade: the cruelty, backstabbing, and hidden violence that have become the royal way of life.

Violet must accept the ugly realities of her existence... and try to stay alive. But then a forbidden romance erupts between Violet and a handsome gentleman hired as a companion to the Duchess’s petulant niece. Though his presence makes life in the Jewel a bit brighter, the consequences of their illicit relationship will cost them both more than they bargained for."  --From Goodreads


What I Loved:
The premise.  Although it could be said that it has been done already (A Handmaid's Tale), I truly enjoyed this dystopian version for young adults.

The ending.  It was a great cliffhanger ending, and I can't wait to read the second book.  I want to know how it ends!

What I disliked:
The romantic relationship.  This was a fairly common complaint on Goodreads from people that read this book.  The relationship between Ash and Violet seemed too instantaneous to be completely real.  It will be interesting to see who the author adds as the second boy in the love triangle.  Let's be honest, all books like this have a love triangle.

Overall.  This was a likeable book for those readers that can't get enough dystopian novels in their life.  I'm really interested to see how the second book will compare to this first one.

Disclosure: I borrowed a copy from my library.

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Top Ten Tuesday: 2014 Releases I Meant To Read But Didn't Get To



Top Ten Tuesday is a meme hosted by The Broke and the Bookish.  This week's theme is ten 2014 releases I meant to read, but didn't get to.  Here we go!



The Meaning of Maggie by Megan Jean Sovern
Maggie tries to figure out why her father's legs don't work anymore.
The Unbound by Victoria Schwab
Imagine a place where the dead rest on shelves like books.


Atlantia by Ally Condie
Rio lives in the below, and she has always dreamed of going Above.
Noggin by John Corey Whaley
A boy's head gets chopped off and then surgically attached to another.



Love Letters to the Dead by Ava Dellaira
One girl's journey to overcome life's challenges.
The Body in the Woods by April Henry
Teens find a body in the woods, racing to find the killer before he gets them.


         

Of Neptune by Anna Banks
Galen and Emma find a colony of half-breeds and must come to terms with their impact on their lives.
The final book in the Popularity Papers series.


           

Conversion by Katherine Howe
A modern take on The Crucible.
Through the Woods by Emily Carroll
Five mysterious stories.