Friday, February 27, 2015

Reading Challenge Update- February

I can't believe that February is over already!  Here's how I stand on my Reading Challenges:

I've read only one debut book so far in 2015.  
A Wicked Thing by Rhiannon Thomas

Finishing the Series Challenge hosted by Socrates' Book Reviews.

I'm still making good progress on the number of series I'm finishing.  
So far in 2015, I've finished 8 series!
Rebel Belle by Rachel Hawkins
Rebel Belle
Miss Mayhem

In the Garden by Nora Roberts
Blue Dahlia
Black Rose
Red Lily

Confessions by James Patterson
Confessions of a Murder Suspect
The Private School Murders
The Paris Mysteries

Land of Stories by Chris Colfer
The Wishing Spell
The Enchantress Returns
A Grimm Warning

Unremembered by Jessica Brody

Point Last Seen by April Henry
Body in the Woods

Vivian Apple by Katie Coyle
Vivian Apple at the End of the World

The Syrena Legacy by Anna Banks
Of Poseidon
Of Triton
Of Neptune

Shades of London by Maureen Johnson
Name of the Star
The Madness Underneath
The Shadow Cabinet
2015 Outdo Yourself Reading Challenge hosted by The Book Vixen
I'm up to 38 (big) books read so far this year.  I've got a long way to go before I hit my goal of 150!

 Contemporary Challenge hosted by The Book Belles
Books read in February
1. The Private School Murders by James Patterson and Maxine Paetro
2. Things We Know by Heart by Jessi Kirby
3. The Body in the Woods by April Henry
4. Vanishing Girls by Lauren Oliver

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

A Grimm Warning by Chris Colfer

A Grimm Warning by Chris Colfer
The Land of Stories #3
Published by Little, Brown Books for Young Readers on July 8, 2014
Narrated by Chris Colfer

Summary: "The Brothers Grimm have a warning for the Land of Stories.

Connor Bailey thinks his fairy-tale adventures are behind him - until he discovers a mysterious clue left by the famous Brothers Grimm. With help from his classmate Bree and the outlandish Mother Goose, Conner sets off on a mission across Europe to crack a two-hundred-year-old code.

Meanwhile, Alex Bailey is training to become the next Fairy Godmother... but her attempts at granting wishes never go as planned. Will she ever be truly ready to lead the Fairy Council?

When all signs point to disaster for the Land of Stories, Connor and Alex must join forces with their friends and enemies to save the day. But nothing can prepare them for the coming battle... or for the secret that will change the twins' lives forever."

Holy bazinga!  I loved this book!  I listened to the audiobook, and I have to say it was really well done.  I normally dislike when authors read their own creations, but I really enjoyed Colfer's rendition.  I could tell that he really thought about how these characters sounded, and he did make an effort to make them all sound different.

Alex and Connor have definitely grown a lot over the course of this novel.  Gone are the kids who accidently popped into the Land of Stories back in the first book.  They take matters into their own hands and fight for everything that they love and believe in.

Overall, this series is getting pretty good.  There were a couple of bombshells and MAJOR feels in the third book.  Now I have to wait patiently (yeah... right) for the fourth book to come out.  There's not even a title yet, and apparently book four comes out in July?

Disclosure: I borrowed the audiobook from my local library.

Monday, February 23, 2015

The Body in the Woods by April Henry

The Body in the Woods by April Henry
Point Last Seen #1
Published by Henry Holt and Co. on June 17, 2014

Summary: "Alexis, Nick, and Ruby have very different backgrounds: Alexis has spent her life covering for her mom’s mental illness, Nick’s bravado hides his fear of not being good enough, and Ruby just wants to pursue her eccentric interests in a world that doesn’t understand her. When the three teens join Portland County Sheriff’s Search and Rescue, they are teamed up to search for an autistic man lost in the woods. What they find instead is a dead body. In a friendship that will be forged in danger, fear, and courage, the three team up to find the girl’s killer—before he can strike one of their own." -- From Goodreads

I loved the unique premise of this book: the fact that teens could join a Search and Rescue group.  I really liked the character of Ruby, our amateur Nancy Drew-esque detective,  Alexis was also interesting, with her mom's mental illness to deal with.  I think Nick was the shallowest character of them all.  All he wanted to do was be a hero like his dad who was killed in Iraq.  That led him to doing things without thinking them all the way through.

Overall, the characters were good, the plot was okay, and the murders were not really detailed.  I know that will be a factor for some teens reading this book; they want the suspense but not the detailed gore.  I tend to love mysteries and suspense novels of any kind, and I definitely plan on adding the sequel to my TBR.

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

Friday, February 20, 2015

Unchanged by Jessica Brody

Unchanged by Jessica Brody
Unremembered #3
Published by Farrar, Straus and Giroux on February 24, 2015

Summary: "After returning to the Diotech compound and receiving a successful memory transplant, Seraphina is now living a happy life with another synthetically engineered human like herself, with whom she is deeply in love. She has no recollection of Zen. But the nagging feeling that something is missing from her life continues to plague her. Diotech's newest product is about to be revealed—a line of genetic modifications that will allow people to live longer, fight disease, and change any unfavorable physical attribute they desire.

As more secrets are revealed, more enemies are uncovered, and the reality of a Diotech-controlled world grows closer every day, Sera and Zen must find a way to destroy the company that created her, or they’ll be separated forever."  --From Goodreads

What a stunning conclusion to this series!  I marathoned books 2 & 3, and I'm still in shock about the ending.  I loved Sera, and how she transformed from being this numb robot into becoming something more.  A person with her own memories and feelings.  I thought that the story behind her "birth" was sad and perfect all at the same time.  

Overall, this series is a series that I'm going to recommend to anyone who really likes science fiction.  Time travel is a large part of this series, along with genetic modification.  

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

Thursday, February 19, 2015

Unforgotten by Jessica Brody

Unforgotten by Jessica Brody
Unremembered #2
Published by Farrar, Straus and Giroux on February 25, 2014

Summary: "After a daring escape from the scientists at Diotech who created her, Seraphina believes she is finally safe from the horrors of her past. But new threats await Sera and her boyfriend, Zen, at every turn as Zen falls prey to a mysterious illness and Sera’s extraordinary abilities make it more and more difficult to stay hidden. Meanwhile, Diotech has developed a dangerous new weapon designed to apprehend her. A weapon that even Sera will be powerless to stop. Her only hope of saving Zen’s life and defeating the company that made her is a secret buried deep within her mind. A secret that Diotech will kill to protect. And it won’t stay forgotten for long." --From Goodreads

It took me a bit to get back into this series.  When Sera and Zen were in 1609, it was more problematic to keep Sera's abilities hidden.  I felt that the story was slow during this time, mirroring Sera's problems to keep hidden.  She needed to become human, and that meant moving slower.  After Sera and Zen travel back to the future, that's when things move into high gear.

I was really disappointed when Sera met Kaelin.  I was really hoping to get through a series without another love triangle.  We'll see how their relationship develops in the third book.  The ending was sad, but I have a feeling that we'll see Zen again in the third book.

Disclosure: I borrowed a copy from my library.

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Confessions: The Private School Murders by James Patterson and Maxine Paetro

Confessions: The Private School Murders by James Patterson and Maxine Paetro
Confessions #2
Published by Little, Brown and Company on October 7, 2013

Summary: "Wealthy young women are being murdered on Manhattan's exclusive Upper West Side, and the police aren't looking for answers in the right places. Enter Tandy Angel. The first case she cracked was the mystery of her parents' deaths. Now, while she's working to exonerate her brother of his glamorous girlfriend's homicide, she's driven to get involved in the West Side murder spree.

One of the recent victims was a student at Tandy's own elite school. She has a hunch it may be the work of a serial killer, but the NYPD isn't listening to her...and Tandy can't ignore the disturbing fact that she perfectly fits the profile of the killer's targets. Can she untangle the mysteries in time? Or will she be the next victim?"  -- From Goodreads

I do like James Patterson's novels, but the endless twists and turns of this novel were a bit tiring.  It's hard to relax while reading this because you know there's going to be another twist in another 50 pages.  Overall, this story was entertaining.  I do enjoy Tandy's relationship with her "boyfriend".  This is a good series if you like murder, mystery, and suspense.  

Disclosure: I borrowed the audiobook from my library.

Confessions of a Murder Suspect
The Private School Murders
The Paris Mysteries

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Top Ten Tuesday: Book Related Problems

Top Ten Tuesday is a meme hosted by The Broke and the Bookish.  This week's theme is book related problems I have.  I had a hard time coming up with ideas, and so I borrowed these lovely ideas from The Problems of a Book Nerd Tumblr.  They definitely describe all my problems!
Here we go!

I get invited out, and then I think..."Wow, I'd rather be at home reading".

Sequels I can think of right now?  Throne of Glass #4: Queen of Shadows!

I hated the ending of a semester because I really wanted to read.  But I was too tired from school to read.  Problems.

I very rarely re-read books because of this reason.  

I hate this so much.  Why can't you stick with just one design!!

I always bring one more book than I think I need.  Or I download a book to my phone.

My biggest book pet peeve.


Does anyone know why publishers like that?  It really does make pages hard to turn!

This happens to me more than I'm willing to admit.

So what are your book related problems?  Share any of mine?  
Leave a list or link in the comments!

Monday, February 16, 2015

This One Summer by Jillian Tamaki

This One Summer by Jillian Tamaki 
Illustrated by Mariko Tamaki
Published by First Second on May 6, 2014
Caldecott Honor 2015
Printz Honor 2015

Summary: "Every summer, Rose goes with her mom and dad to a lake house in Awago Beach. It's their getaway, their refuge. Rosie's friend Windy is always there, too, like the little sister she never had. But this summer is different. Rose's mom and dad won't stop fighting, and when Rose and Windy seek a distraction from the drama, they find themselves with a whole new set of problems. It's a summer of secrets and sorrow and growing up, and it's a good thing Rose and Windy have each other."  -- From Goodreads

I picked this book up after I learned it had won a Caldecott Honor and a Printz Honor.  It's pretty extraordinary for a book to be able to be an Honor for both medals, so I knew I had to move this book to the top of my reading list.

The pictures are gorgeous.  The water scenes are layers and layers of purple with bubbles of white.  The water scenes alone could win many awards.  I felt something was lacking when it came to the writing of the story.  There were many things that felt unresolved to me.  I wanted Rose to find out more stuff about her mom and the boy from the convenience store.

Overall, definitely pick this book up for the illustrations.  They are stupendous.

Disclosure: I borrowed a copy from my library.

Friday, February 13, 2015

Vivian Apple at the End of the World by Katie Coyle

Vivian Apple at the End of the World by Katie Coyle
Vivian Apple #1
Published by HMH Books for Young Readers on January 6, 2015

Summary: "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 road trip 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."  --From Goodreads

Vivian Apple at the End of the World didn't draw me into its pages right at the beginning.  I started (and finished) another book while reading this one.  Vivian was very ho hum at the start of the book.  She wasn't a believer, thought that the Rapture was just another fad.  But!  Lo and behold, her parents actually disappear!  Vivian goes on a road trip with her best friend to find out what happened to her parents.  They (of course) have really weird things happen to them, and they meet a few different (and weird) people on their way to find out the truth.  

Vivian grew into being a strong, confident woman.  She began to make her own decisions and not depend on others for opinions.  One major theme throughout the book is the question, "What do you believe?".  Over time, she does learn how to answer that question for herself.

I gave this book three stars because of how boring the plot was.  There was very little conflict between the people left behind from the Rapture.  There were a few stories about looting, but the main characters did not experience any of these things firsthand.  I'll read the sequel if they ever publish it in the United States.  There were a few things that weren't tied up at the ending, so I hope she addresses those concerns in the sequel.

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

Thursday, February 12, 2015

The Meaning of Maggie by Megan Jean Sovern

The Meaning of Maggie by Megan Jean Sovern
Published by Chronicle Books LLC on May 6, 2014

Summary: "Eleven years old. The beginning of everything!

For Maggie Mayfield, turning eleven means she's one year closer to college. One year closer to voting. And one year closer to getting a tattoo. It's time for her to pull herself up by her bootstraps (the family motto) and think about more than after school snacks and why her older sisters are too hot for their own good. Because something mysterious is going on with her cool dude Dad, whose legs have permanently fallen asleep, and Maggie is going to find out exactly what the problem is and fix it. After all, nothing's impossible when you're future president of the United States of America, fifth-grade science fair champion, and a shareholder in Coca-Cola, right?"  -- From Goodreads

What I Loved:
Maggie.  I loved how she grew up over the course of the novel.  She started out as a kid, wanting to believe that everything was perfect in her own little world.  At the end, Maggie was starting to understand more about her Dad's disease and how it would affect her life.

Maggie's Dad's disease.  While I didn't love the disease itself, I loved the way that the author decided to portray the disease.  Her Dad is a person first, and the disease always comes second.  It's nice to know that a family can have a life and do normal things, even when one member cannot always be "normal".

What I disliked:
The Grandma.  The grandma coming for Christmas was a big deal in the book.  I really wish the author would have delved more into the backstory of the Dad and the Grandma.  While I know that would probably be a bit much for a middle-grade novel, it would have added a bit more to "Things Maggie Now Understands".

Overall, I think this is a novel that everyone will enjoy.

Disclosure: I borrowed a copy from my library.

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Silver Thaw by Catherine Anderson

Silver Thaw by Catherine Anderson
Mystic Creek #1
Published by Signet on January 6, 2015

Summary: "After years of living in fear of her husband, Amanda Banning has left him and moved to Mystic Creek, Oregon, for a fresh start. But she’s having a tough time providing for herself and her six-year-old daughter. Writing her secret yearnings on slips of paper and sending them into the wind helps her cling to the hope that things will get better…and that she can find happiness again.

Jeb Sterling has no idea that the handwritten messages he finds scattered across his land are the first hints that his life is about to change. Nor does he understand why he feels so compelled to help Amanda Banning and her daughter when a cold snap leaves them temporarily homeless. Maybe he’s inspired by Amanda’s courage or perhaps by her beautiful brown eyes. Either way, the man who once renounced love suddenly finds himself willing to do anything for the pair. Amanda seems to have given up on her dreams, but Jeb refuses to quit until he makes her every wish come true…"   --From Goodreads

I was surprised at how much I truly liked this story.  Amanda ran away from her husband with her daughter Chloe, and that took real guts.  She also was very mindful about how she wanted to stand on her own two feet and was hesitant about taking any help from anyone, even her swoon-worthy neighbor, Jeb.  The story was well written and clearly illustrated how some women heal after being abused by their significant others.  I can't wait for more in this series, as I hope the other main characters will be Jeb's five brothers and sisters.  

Overall, this is a good book for someone who likes a little bit of intrigue with their romance novels.  

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Top Ten Tuesday: Things I Like and Dislike in Romances

Top Ten Tuesday is a meme hosted by The Broke and the Bookish.  This week's theme are the ten things I like/dislike when it comes to romances in books.  Here we go!


1. Insta-romance

Twilight: Edward and Bella's relationship.
2. When a couple that is so clearly meant-to-be does not end up together.

Jacob and Bella were a better fit than her and Edward.
3. The helpless female character that always needs saving.

Bella.  No questions.
4. The stalkerish-type of love.

Edward definitely.  Watching people while sleeping is creepy!
5. MOST love triangles.

Love triangles are so cliche.  

Swoony male leads

Nathan Fillion as Richard Castle.  Enough said.
When friendship grows to love.

A thorn in her side to friendship to more.

"You do remind me a little of Hootch."
Opposites attract.

Writer.  Detective.

Yes, I know my list is only nine items.  What would be your favorite thing about romances?  
Leave a list or link in the comments!

Monday, February 9, 2015

Delirium series by Lauren Oliver

The Delirium series by Lauren Oliver is on tap for today!

Delirium  •  Pandemonium  •  Requiem

Before the cure, everyone thought that love was a good thing.  Love caused you to do stupid things.  Now that scientists have perfected the cure and eradicated the disease.  Lena Holoway has always looked forward to receiving the cure because then she'll be safe and happy.  But only 95 days before her scheduled procedure, Lena does the unthinkable.  She falls in love.

I read all three books in the space of a week.  I really liked Delirium, but I had a holy crap moment with the ending of Pandemonium.  Requiem was also pretty good, and the story ended wonderfully.

The Darkest Minds series by Alexandra Bracken
A dystopia crossed with X-Men.

Shatter Me series by Tahereh Mafi
More kids with powers, but with even more of a love triangle.

The Jewel series by Amy Ewing
A girl is purchased as a surrogate, stumbles into a rebellion.

Overall, this is a really solid series.  I truly love the premise of "if love was a disease".  I know teenagers have thought this at least once.  I'd recommend this series if anyone likes dystopias or if they like science fiction.  I find their religion fascinating because of the unique mix of Christianity and science.