Saturday, November 30, 2013

Stacking the Shelves (21)

Stacking The Shelves is all about sharing the books you are adding to your shelves, may it be physical or virtual. This means you can include books you buy in physical store or online, books you borrow from friends or the library, review books, gifts and of course ebooks!  It is hosted by Tynga's Reviews.

Pam's Weekly Haul
From NetGalley:
Enders by Lissa Price
Endless Knight by Kresley Cole
The Impossibility of Tomorrow by Avery Williams
Empower by Jessica Shirvington  (So excited when this one was in my mailbox, all the way from New Zealand!)  

What books did you get this week?

Friday, November 29, 2013

Movie Review: Catching Fire

One of my favorite things about this time of year is the movies and I have been waiting very patiently for this particular release! Be warned my review is mostly a love fest and I am trying to not spoil anything for anyone.

First, I loved the amount of time dedicated to understanding Katniss and Peeta's lives since winning the games in the last movie.  I also appreciated getting to see what life is like in some of the districts while they were on their victory tour.  In fact, my only significant critique of the movie was too little time spent on explaining the seeds of the revolution instead we only get glimpses of revolutionary acts.  I thought the writers/director did a nice job balancing the emotions Katniss feels for both Gale and Peeta throughout the movie.  As with the last movie, I loved the casting for the other tributes and the time spent letting us get to know them on some level.  I was thrilled so little time was spent in the arena and that we only got glimpses of the violence.  I believe this decision also helped people who had not read the books make sense of the ending which to be frank was abrupt but leaves no doubt there will be a third movie!  HOORAH! 

If you've seen the movie please share your thoughts, if not have you seen other movies you liked recently?

~Posted by Sheri

Thursday, November 28, 2013

Book Review: The Sky Is Everywhere by Jandy Nelson

The Sky Is Everywhere
Author:  Jandy Nelson
Publisher:  Dial, 288 pages
Publication Date:  March 9, 2010

From Goodreads:
Seventeen-year-old Lennie Walker, bookworm and band geek, plays second clarinet and spends her time tucked safely and happily in the shadow of her fiery older sister, Bailey. But when Bailey dies abruptly, Lennie is catapulted to center stage of her own life - and, despite her nonexistent history with boys, suddenly finds herself struggling to balance two. Toby was Bailey's boyfriend; his grief mirrors Lennie's own. Joe is the new boy in town, a transplant from Paris whose nearly magical grin is matched only by his musical talent. For Lennie, they're the sun and the moon; one boy takes her out of her sorrow, the other comforts her in it. But just like their celestial counterparts, they can't collide without the whole wide world exploding.

This remarkable debut is perfect for fans of Sarah Dessen, Deb Caletti, and Francesca Lia Block. Just as much a celebration of love as it is a portrait of loss, Lennie's struggle to sort her own melody out of the noise around her is always honest, often hilarious, and ultimately unforgettable.

A wonderful novel about loss, grief, love, and hope.  I felt every single emotion Lennie was feeling along with her.  She is devastated by the sudden death of her sister Bailey and the only person who understands her grief is Toby, Bailey's boyfriend.  She starts a relationship with him but at the same time, she meets Joe, who she falls in love with.  Definitely a messy situation.  I felt so bad for Toby and Lennie and I completely understood why they turned to each other (they are both so lost), but at the same time I was cringing and it hurt thinking about Joe.  Joe with his constant smile...loved him so much.  His eyelashes.  Bat. Bat. Bat.  

I loved Lennie's grandmother and her uncle, who are eccentric and weird and wonderful.  Such great secondary characters.  And finally, I loved the notes and poems Lennie wrote about Bailey on anything she could and left everywhere.  And the ending...just perfect.  Highly recommend.

Posted by:  Pam

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Waiting on Wednesday: December Picks

Waiting on Wednesday features upcoming releases and is hosted by Breaking the Spine. This is our monthly post, where we pick books that are coming out in the next month that we just cannot wait for. That we're absolutely dying to read. 

Although it seems like everyone else has read it but us, we're both really excited about These Broken Stars.

Author:  Amie Kaufman and Meagan Spooner
Publisher:  Disney Hyperion, 384 pages
Expected Publication Date:  December 10, 2013

From Goodreads:
It's a night like any other on board the Icarus. Then, catastrophe strikes: the massive luxury spaceliner is yanked out of hyperspace and plummets into the nearest planet. Lilac LaRoux and Tarver Merendsen survive. And they seem to be alone.

Lilac is the daughter of the richest man in the universe. Tarver comes from nothing, a young war hero who learned long ago that girls like Lilac are more trouble than they’re worth. But with only each other to rely on, Lilac and Tarver must work together, making a tortuous journey across the eerie, deserted terrain to seek help.

Then, against all odds, Lilac and Tarver find a strange blessing in the tragedy that has thrown them into each other’s arms. Without the hope of a future together in their own world, they begin to wonder—would they be better off staying here forever?

Everything changes when they uncover the truth behind the chilling whispers that haunt their every step. Lilac and Tarver may find a way off this planet. But they won’t be the same people who landed on it.

Pam's Picks
In addition, I'm excited about:
Class of '98 by A.L. Player, expected publication date: December 3, 2013
Girl and guy get sent back in time from their tenth year high school reunion to senior year of high school.  Described as Back to the Future meets She's All That.  Enough said.
Rebel Spring by Morgan Rhodes, expected publication date:  December 3, 2013.
I've already read this, but I loved Falling Kingdoms so much and Rebel Spring is fantastic.  Described as a YA Game of Thrones, this is one of my favorite fantasy series right now.
Bitter Sweet Love by Jennifer L. Armentrout, expected publication date:  December 1, 2013.
I'm not a big novella fan, but a new series from JLA?  Involving gargoyles?  Can't wait!
Sheri's Picks
The Geeks Guide to Dating by Eric Smith, expected publication date December 3, 2013.  Who doesn't love a story where the geeks finally win?

One More Day by L.S. Murphy, expected publication date December 2, 2013.
A collection of short stories that asks a variety of authors to consider what if your world suddenly changed.
Dangerous Dream by Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl, expected publication date December 17, 2013.  I just started the Beautiful Creatures series and I am loving it.  This series will focus on some of the secondary characters like Link and Ridley.

What are you waiting for?

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Top Ten Tuesday: Top Ten Authors We're Thankful For

Top Ten Tuesday is hosted by the Broke and the Bookish.

Pam's Picks:
1.     Stephenie Meyer.  Love Twilight or hate it, you've probably read it.  I think we can thank Stephenie Meyer for getting a lot of adults to read YA.  I remember seeing news (well, news loosely defined) about adults (especially moms) reading and swooning over these books, book clubs, fan groups, etc.  We can also probably thank her (or blame her) for Teams.  Were you Team Jacob or Team Edward?  
2.     Suzanne Collins.  I fell in love with the dystopian genre after reading The Hunger Games and now almost every single dystopian is compared to it (and usually found lacking).  So thank you!
3.     Jennifer L. Armentrout.  She creates such great characters that I have become emotionally invested in and has created two very swoony guys, Daemon from the Lux series and Aiden from the Covenant series.  She writes killer cliffhangers and never do I feel the urge to chunk my Kindle across the room more than when I'm reading her books.  And she writes so fast, about an average of 8 books over the last 3 years.  Sadly, that's more than most people read.
4.     Cassandra Clare.  What an incredible Shadowhunter world she has created and although many people complain about how many books she's written or going to write in this world, I say, keep writing!  Can't wait for Book 6 and I'm looking forward to the Dark Artifices series.  And thanks for Will, Jem, and Jace!
5.     Richelle Mead.  Dimitri.  Adrian.  Thank you!  Do I have to say more?  And if you haven't read Gameboard of the good.  

Sheri's Picks:
1.     J.K. Rowling.  Prior to Harry Potter, my reading genres consisted of classic literary fiction and historical romance.  A whole new world of witches, goblins, and ghosts were opened up to me thanks to her.
2.     Jane Austen. I am always in the mood for Jane because each of her stories offers me something different in the form of heroines and relationships.
3.     Richelle Mead.  Vampire Academy is the longest series I have remained committed to in YA fiction and that's saying something for sure.
4.     Stephanie Perkins. Sometimes I just want relationships that are sweet, fun, and just a little bit edgy.  With St. Clair, Cricket, and soon to be Josh I am loving these books.
5.     Suzanne Collins.  I will always be thankful for the Hunger Games series because my husband can no longer make fun of what I am reading after he couldn't put them down while on a family vacation.


Monday, November 25, 2013

Book Review: The Fiery Heart by Richelle Mead

The Fiery Heart (Bloodlines #4)
Author:  Richelle Mead
Publisher:  Razorbill, 438 pages
Publication Date:  November 19, 2013

From Goodreads:
In The Indigo Spell, Sydney was torn between the Alchemist way of life and what her heart and gut were telling her to do. And in one breathtaking moment that Richelle Mead fans will never forget, she made a decision that shocked even her. . . .

But the struggle isn't over for Sydney. As she navigates the aftermath of her life-changing decision, she still finds herself pulled in too many directions at once. Her sister Zoe has arrived, and while Sydney longs to grow closer to her, there's still so much she must keep secret. Working with Marcus has changed the way she views the Alchemists, and Sydney must tread a careful path as she harnesses her profound magical ability to undermine the way of life she was raised to defend. Consumed by passion and vengeance, Sydney struggles to keep her secret life under wraps as the threat of exposure—and re-education—looms larger than ever.

Pulses will race throughout this thrilling fourth installment in the New York Times bestselling Bloodlines series, where no secret is safe.

I. Love. This. Series.  Sydney and Adrian. them together.  Richelle Mead has done such a fantastic job creating quirky, complex, and relatable characters that I feel like I know.  What's great (and unique) is that the two MCs aren't super strong, fighting ninja types.  Instead, Sydney uses her brain, she works incredibly hard, and ok, yes, she is learning magic.  She's grown so much throughout this series.  She used to be a bit cold, logical, and stiff, and to a certain extent she is still all that, but she's also warm and loving, and she cares so much about Adrian and her friends that she will do anything to protect them.  

“Love is . . .” An old memory with Adrian came back to me, and some of the turbulent emotion I always carried within me these days welled up in my chest. It was stupid, feeling so lovesick when he’d been gone less than a day, but I couldn’t get him or the ways he described love out of my head. “. . . a flame in the dark. A breath of warmth on a winter’s night. A star that guides you home.” 

And Adrian.  He's definitely not a fighter and even jokes about not doing manual labor.  He's used to relying on his charm and  good looks (and his compulsion ability).  I actually was not a fan of him in VA series, but now he's one of my favorite characters.  He's funny, charismatic, cocky yet insecure, struggling to believe that he is worthwhile.  I  enjoyed getting his POV in this novel, it made me just love him even more.  He still has the snarky quips, but you know where they're coming from now.   

“What's up?" Christian asked. "Need some hairstyling tips?"
"Tips you stole from me? No thanks. But I hear you've got a really good bacon meatloaf recipe."
It was worth it then and there to see his complete and total surprise.
"Since when do you cook?" he finally managed to stammer.
"Oh, you know. I'm a Renaissance man. I do it all. Send it if you've got it, and I'll give it a try. I'll let you know if I make any improvements."
His smirk returned. "Are you trying to impress a girl?"
"With cooking?" I pointed at my face. "This is all it takes, Ozera.”  

And just like Sydney, he cares so much for Sydney and his friends.  Basically, he has such a great heart.

“I had never thought I could love another person this much. I also never thought I’d live in such fear of losing another person. Was this how everyone in love felt? Did they all cling tightly to their beloved and wake up terrified in the middle of the night, afraid of being alone? Was that an inevitable way of life when you loved so deeply? Or was it just those of us who walked on a precipice who lived in such panic?” 

Sydney's trying to juggle her Alchemist duties, learning magic, her relationship with Adrian, and being a double agent.  To be honest, not a lot happens plot-wise but I just didn't care.  Be prepared, there is a cliffhanger.  Even though I could see it coming from a mile away, it still hurt.  

Posted by:  Pam

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Mini-Reviews: Paranormal Novels

Author:  Lauren Kate
Publisher:  Delacorte Books for Young Readers, 441 pages
Publication Date:  October 22, 2013

From Goodreads:
Seventeen-year-old Eureka won't let anyone close enough to feel her pain. After her mother was killed in a freak accident, the things she used to love hold no meaning. She wants to escape, but one thing holds her back: Ander, the boy who is everywhere she goes, whose turquoise eyes are like the ocean.

And then Eureka uncovers an ancient tale of romance and heartbreak, about a girl who cried an entire continent into the sea. Suddenly her mother's death and Ander's appearance seem connected, and her life takes on dark undercurrents that don't make sense.

Can everything you love be washed away?

Special girl meets hot mysterious stalkery guy and bumbles around trying to figure out what's going on because said hot guy won't explain anything even though he knows everything.  That's the plot in a nutshell (actually, that's the plot of so many books, I should start a list).  Now I know how negative that sounds, but the book is actually okay and I think it has a lot of promise, but I finished it and realized that almost nothing happened.  That's the problem with trilogies sometimes, there's one overarching story and the first book is just an introduction to that story.  Eureka (don't get me started on the name) is reeling from her mom's death.  She's tried to kill herself and just doesn't care about anything at all (used to love running, quits the cross-country team, etc). Her mom leaves her three things in her will that she just doesn't understand, and that starts the quest for answers.  Enter said hot guy, who has loved her from afar (that's not spoilery, you learn that from the first chapter).  I just didn't understand why he kept popping up, being cryptic, and then leaving without telling her anything.  What was the point?  Why not just tell her what was going on?  Made no sense.  And then Brooks, her best friend...I really wish we got to know him better so that when certain things happen, I actually cared.  And then, just when the book is getting interesting, it ends.  So it's decent, and I think the series as a whole has promise and could be quite good, but this book, standing alone, just is not.

The Chaos of Stars
Author:  Kiersten White
Publisher:  HarperTeen, 288 pages
Publication Date:  September 10, 2013

From Goodreads:
Isadora’s family is seriously screwed up.

Of course, as the human daughter of Egyptian gods, that pretty much comes with the territory. She’s also stuck with parents who barely notice her, and a house full of relatives who can’t be bothered to remember her name. After all, they are going to be around forever—and she’s a mere mortal.

Isadora’s sick of living a life where she’s only worthy of a passing glance, and when she has the chance to move to San Diego with her brother, she jumps on it. But Isadora’s quickly finding that a “normal” life comes with plenty of its own epic complications—and that there’s no such thing as a clean break when it comes to family. Much as she wants to leave her past behind, she can’t shake the ominous dreams that foretell destruction for her entire family. When it turns out there may be truth in her nightmares, Isadora has to decide whether she can abandon her divine heritage after all.

Romance novel dressed up as a paranormal type book, for absolutely no reason.  Isadora is the human daughter of gods and she is angry because, although her parents could have made her immortal, they chose not to.  So she decides that since her life is not permanent, she can never love because even if you stay together, you die.  So what's the point of ever starting something when it's just going to end.  So basically, you have angsty teenage girl who is gorgeous (of course) and then when she meets hot guy, she doesn't want to have anything to do with him.  What about the gods?  Well, they play a very minor role (and it's not even playing the role of gods, just dysfunctional family members).  So I was disappointed, to say the least.

Author:  Kami Garcia
Publisher: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers, 320 pages
Publication Date:  October 1, 2013

From Goodreads:
When Kennedy Waters finds her mother dead, her world begins to unravel. She doesn’t know that paranormal forces in a much darker world are the ones pulling the strings. Not until identical twins Jared and Lukas Lockhart break into Kennedy’s room and destroy a dangerous spirit sent to kill her. The brothers reveal that her mother was part of an ancient secret society responsible for protecting the world from a vengeful demon — a society whose five members were all murdered on the same night.

Now Kennedy has to take her mother’s place in the Legion if she wants to uncover the truth and stay alive. Along with new Legion members Priest and Alara, the teens race to find the only weapon that might be able to destroy the demon — battling the deadly spirits he controls every step of the way.

Fun and fast-paced novel about a group of teenagers who fight vengeance spirits controlled by a demon...definitely had that Supernatural feel to it.  There's a lot of action and adventure as the group (known as the Legion) goes on a journey to find the pieces of a weapon to defeat the demon.  Kennedy, the MC, is saved by twins Jared and Lukas, who are convinced she's the fifth member of their group.  Kennedy, however, keeps resisting the idea because if she is a member, that means her mother was a part of the group, and she just doesn't believe it.  Jared, Lukas, Priest, and Alara have been training for this while Kennedy has no clue what's going on and of course bumbles around, messing things up.  I really enjoyed this book and I'm looking forward to the next one, but I do wish there had been a bit more character development, especially because the characters are interesting and have so much potential.  With all of the running around and battling ghosts, we don't get much but it's understandable, they're not going to sit around and chit chat while all of this is going on.  And the romance...way way way too fast.  I think the whole book takes place during one week, so it's a bit ridiculous.  All in all, highly entertaining and I'm looking forward to the next one.  I'm hooked!

Posted by:  Pam

Saturday, November 23, 2013

Stacking the Shelves (20)

Stacking The Shelves is all about sharing the books you are adding to your shelves, may it be physical or virtual. This means you can include books you buy in physical store or online, books you borrow from friends or the library, review books, gifts and of course ebooks!  It is hosted by Tynga's Reviews.

Pam's Weekly Haul

From the Library:
Not a Drop to Drink by Mindy McGinnis
Inhuman by Kat Falls
The Uprising by Lisa M. Stasse
Poison Princess by Kresley Cole
The Truth That's In Me by Julie Berry

Bought (already read all of these and loved them!):
World After by Susan Ee
The Fiery Heart by Richelle Mead
Haze by Paula Weston 

Sheri's Bounty of Books

Beautiful Darkness by Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl (audiobook), having recently finished listening to the Beautiful Creatures I couldn't wait to start the second book in the series. 

What books did you get this week?

Friday, November 22, 2013

Discussion Question: Types of Book Boyfriends?

I've noticed different types of book boyfriends.  There's the strong and silent type of book boyfriend.  Usually this guy is in a position of authority or power and his duty keeps him from entering into the relationship (for awhile, at least).  This guy is usually serious and that makes it extra special when he smiles or laughs (and finally gives in).  He's usually a great guy, very tough and swoony.  Examples are Chaol from the Throne of Glass series, Aiden from the Covenant series, Dimitri from the VA series, and Lincoln from the Embrace series (Violet Eden).

Then there's the bad boy type of book boyfriend.  He usually starts off fairly obnoxious and cocky, with snarky quips.  He pushes the girl away for various reasons (although there's always pull too).  Basically, he's got some issues, but the bantering is usually so much fun.  Examples are Daemon from the Lux series, Will from Internal Devices, Jace from Mortal Instruments, Adrian from VA and Bloodlines series, Cole from Alice in Zombieland (The White Rabbit Chronicles), and Rafa from the Rephaim series (just finished Haze and loved it!)

Then there's just the good guy book boyfriend.  It's more about circumstances keeping them apart.  He's not afraid to admit how he feels and is actually just a fantastic boyfriend, pretty much from the beginning.  Examples are Jem from Infernal Devices, Trevor from Pivot Point, Fade from Enclave (Razorland series), Tucker from the Unearthly series, Jase from My Life Next Door, Liam from Darkest Minds, Zachary from the Shade series, Logan from The Summer I Became a Nerd, and Day from the Legend series.

I know I'm probably missing some types and it's not always easy to put guys in these categories (sometimes it can be more than one and a lot of times they all end up in the good guy category eventually).  For example, where does Raffe from Angelfall fit?  (Just read World After and loved it, by the way!)  

What types have you noticed?  What are your favorite book boyfriends and what category do they fit into?  Do you tend to like a certain type more than others?

Posted by:  Pam

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Beautiful Creatures by Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl

Beautiful Creatures (Caster Chronicles #1)
Authors: Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl
Publisher: Little, Brown and Company
Publication Date: December 1, 2009

Narrator: Kevin T. Collins
Listening Length: 17 hours and 38 minutes
Audiobook Publisher: Hachette Audio

Movie Released: February 14, 2013
Director: Richard LaGravenese
Screenwriter: LaGravenese, Garcia, Stohl
Length: 124 minutes

There were no surprises in Gatlin County.
We were pretty much the epicenter of the middle of nowhere.
At least, that's what I thought.
Turns out, I couldn't have been more wrong.
There was a curse.
There was a girl.
And in the end, there was a grave.

Lena Duchannes is unlike anyone the small Southern town of Gatlin has ever seen, and she's struggling to conceal her power and a curse that has haunted her family for generations. But even within the overgrown gardens, murky swamps and crumbling graveyards of the forgotten South, a secret cannot stay hidden forever.

Ethan Wate, who has been counting the months until he can escape from Gatlin, is haunted by dreams of a beautiful girl he has never met. When Lena moves into the town's oldest and most infamous plantation, Ethan is inexplicably drawn to her and determined to uncover the connection between them.

In a town with no surprises, one secret could change everything.

My first introduction to this series was the movie.  Never having read the book I actually enjoyed the film even though several people I know did not.  Since they had read the book they were definitely disappointed in some of the major plot changes.  I, on the other hand, was blissfully unaware.  Now that I have listened to the book I completely understand why readers were so dismayed!  So much richness of the book is lost particularly the psychological complexities of Lena and Ethan as individuals but also their relationship.

One of the things I didn't like about the movie but I loved about the audiobook was the male narrator. Kevin Collins has a beautiful Southern accent and he was able to capture the female voices in a wonderful way.  In fact, reading a YA book from a male perspective was a really nice change of pace.  I particularly liked when Ethan would interact with Macon and when Macon would interact with Amma!

The only drawback to this particular audiobook is the length.  Coming in at 17 hours it is a commitment but I am definitely looking forward to listening to book number 2, Beautiful Darkness.

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Two for One Review: Steel Lily by Megan Curd

Steel Lily (The Periodic Series #1)
Author: Megan Curd
Publisher: Self-Published
Publication Date: August 12, 2013

AVERY PIKE is a commodity. No, more than a commodity. Her existence is guarded at all costs.

She’s a water Elementalist, the strongest of her dwindling kind. She creates steam to provide energy to fuel Dome Four: the only thing standing between humanity and an earth ravaged by World War III. No steam, no Dome. No Dome, no life.

Or so she thinks.

That is, until a mysterious man offers her a way out of having to donate steam. A way to escape the corrupt government of Dome Four. While the offer seems too good to be true, Avery is intrigued. But when she arrives to her new home, she realizes the grass isn’t any less dead on this side of the fence. Instead, the lies are just hidden better.

…Which means digging deeper.

When Avery enlists the help of her friends to uncover the truth, she learns that while some secrets are better left concealed, humankind was never meant to live in a cage. And when you can control the most sought after resource, you can learn to control anything…including the fate of your world.

Sheri's Review:
Once again we decided to read a book at about the same time and agreed not to talk about it until we had both finished it. I've been looking forward to reading this book for several months for three basic reasons: it keeps getting stellar reviews, it's classified as steampunk/dystopian, and its self-published. 

Here is my review in 50 words or less: Girl’s parents go missing but other young persons and adults step up to help.  Girl has extraordinary powers while also mistreated.  Girl is persuaded and abducted to leave home.  Girl meets boy and they flirt and they bicker.  Girl discovers the world is more complicated yet simpler than she believed.

My original response: I loved it while reading it on my trans-atlantic flight home.  I couldn't put it down and I was very frustrated when the battery life on my e-reader failed.  What I loved most about the world created by Megan Curd was the idea of the domes themselves.  For some reason I kept thinking about that big silver sphere at Epcot Center and what it would be like to live in a self-enclosed space.  I generally liked the primary characters, even though I am not a fan of the, "girl falls in love with jerk who is really sensitive" storyline between the two main characters. 

I understand why so many have given this book such high praise. Even though I found some of the plot development weak and unrealistic I was thoroughly entertained.  I was also impressed by the quality of the writing and story for a self-published book.  I have only read a few other self-published books and this was definitely one of the most polished I have come across.  The most significant critique I can level at this book is I don't actually agree that this is a great example of STEAMPUNK as I understand the genre.  Had I not heard others identify it as steampunk I would not have.  While steam is definitely a central theme in the book I wasn't particularly aware of references to Victorian culture or technologies.

Pam's Review:
I was a little disappointed in this book.  I liked the premise (Avery being a water Elementalist living in a dome) and I enjoyed some of the bantering between Avery and Jaxon (who reminds me of Jace from The Mortal Instruments), and Avery is quite sassy, which I enjoyed.  Jaxon is the typical obnoxious hottie.  However, I had so many questions that weren't answered and there were things that just didn't make sense to me when it came to plot and characters.  There are so many interesting ideas, but they lack development.  The world building, the characters, the plot...all a bit lacking.  

Overall, the book is fairly enjoyable.  And I agree with Sheri, I have no idea why this is described as steampunk, but maybe I just don't understand what that means.  

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Top Ten Tuesday: Top Ten Books We Would Recommend to A Bookclub

Top Ten Tuesday is hosted by the Broke and the Bookish.

Sheri's Choices: I chose books I thought would make for lively conversations about feminism in young adult fiction.  If you don't like my list you might check out 100 Young Adult Books for the Feminist Reader.

1. Grave Mercy by R. L. LaFevers: discussion might focus on the disturbing first chapter, the use of female assassins serving a male God, and the evolution of the MCs relationship

2. For Darkness Shows the Stars by Diana Peterfreund: discussion might focus on gendered social roles women in leadership positions and women caring for others

3. Scarlet by Marissa Meyer: discussion might focus on the underlying fear and violence that is a part of the relationship between Scarlet and Wolf

4. Epic Fail by Claire LaZebnik: discussion might focus on the enduring themes found in "chic literature" even in young adult books

5. Uglies by Scott Westerfeld: discussion might focus on the importance of beauty and lack of intelligence among high status individuals and Tally's conflict in rebelling

Pam's Picks:
6.  Across a Star-Swept Sea by Diana Peterfrend.  I thought this would be a good book to read along with The Scarlet Pimpernel, the book that inspired it.  Would be nice to compare/contrast it with the classic.
7.  Of Beast and Beauty by Stacey Jay.  A wonderful fantasy inspired by the fairytale Beauty and the Beast, I though this would be a great book to discuss.
8.  A Long, Long Sleep by Anna Sheehan.  This book is so disturbing and would be fascinating to discuss with other people.  I can't say anymore because it would spoil the ending, but when you find out why Rose was asleep...just a lot to talk about.
9.  The Coldest Girl in Coldtown by Holly Black.  So many people have read Twilight by Stephenie Meyer that I thought it would be interesting to read a completely different vampire book and talk about the differences.  
10.  Unteachable by Leah Raeder.  Although this is a New Adult novel, it would be interesting to discuss this forbidden romance and the morality of a teacher/student relationship, not to mention the age difference, sort of a modern day Lolita.

Monday, November 18, 2013

Mini-Reviews: Contemporary YA Debuts

There's something special about a first novel.  Sometimes it's the only book the author will write; sometimes it's the best book they will write.  Here are three contemporary YA debut novels.

How to Love
Author:  Katie Cotugno
Publisher:  Balzer & Bray, 389 pages
Publication Date:  October 1, 2013

From Goodreads:
Before: Reena Montero has loved Sawyer LeGrande for as long as she can remember: as natural as breathing, as endless as time. But he’s never seemed to notice that Reena even exists…until one day, impossibly, he does. Reena and Sawyer fall in messy, complicated love. But then Sawyer disappears from their humid Florida town without a word, leaving a devastated—and pregnant—Reena behind.

After: Almost three years have passed, and there’s a new love in Reena’s life: her daughter, Hannah. Reena’s gotten used to being without Sawyer, and she’s finally getting the hang of this strange, unexpected life. But just as swiftly and suddenly as he disappeared, Sawyer turns up again. Reena doesn’t want anything to do with him, though she’d be lying if she said Sawyer’s being back wasn’t stirring something in her. After everything that’s happened, can Reena really let herself love Sawyer LeGrande again?
In this breathtaking debut, Katie Cotugno weaves together the story of one couple falling in love—twice.

Hearbreaking, realistic, and hopeful, this is a book about second chances and forgiveness.  Told in alternating chapters of past and present (which I loved), it tells the story of Reena, a high achieving good Catholic girl who just wants to get out of Broward County, Florida and see the world.  She wants to go to Northwestern and be a travel writer.  So of course she gets pregnant at 16 and is forced to stay home, now going to community college and knowing she'll never be going anywhere.  Even though it's told in first person, from Reena's POV, this is also the story of Sawyer, who Reena's been in love with forever and what I loved about the writing was that we get to know Sawyer just as well as we get to know Reena.  Sawyer's got issues, to say the least.  He's so messed up (and with good reason...when you find out the whole story about Allie, it's just so sad), but I liked Sawyer, even though I read many reviews from people who didn't.  Even in the Before story, it was clear that Sawyer loved Reena and he was actually more open with her than she was with him.  And as you learn more and more about what actually happened, you find out that there are two sides to this story and Sawyer really isn't the complete jerk he's portrayed to be.  Basically, they are both flawed. Reena's fairly stand-offish and the things she said to Sawyer...ouch.  Sometimes I winced at the cruel words that came out of her mouth.  And this was not just in the After story, when she obviously has reason to be angry with him, but Before as well.  She's a sympathetic character and I felt so bad for her that she had to go through this alone, but I also felt like, even when Sawyer acted like a jerk, his heart was in the right place.  And After, he came back and he will be there for her, no matter what.  This is a beautiful, well-written story...what an amazing debut.

What Happens Next
Author:  Colleen Clayton
Publisher:  Little Brown Books for Young Readers, 310 pages
Publication Date:  October 9, 2012

From Goodreads:
Before the ski trip, sixteen-year-old Cassidy “Sid” Murphy was a cheerleader (at the bottom of the pyramid, but still...), a straight-A student, and a member of a solid trio of best friends. When she ends up on a ski lift next to handsome local college boy, Dax Windsor, she’s thrilled; but Dax takes everything from Sid—including a lock of her perfect red curls—and she can’t remember any of it.

Back home and unable to relate to her old friends, Sid drops her college prep classes and takes up residence in the A/V room with only Corey “The Living Stoner” Livingston for company. But as she gets to know Corey (slacker, baker, total dreamboat), Sid finds someone who truly makes her happy. Now, if she can just shake the nightmares and those few extra pounds, everything will be perfect... or so she thinks.

Witty and poignant, Colleen Clayton’s stunning debut is a story about moving on after the unthinkable happens.

This is such a beautiful book, but also so heartbreaking.  Sid...what an incredibly likable and relatable character, I just wanted to give her a big hug.  She's never felt attractive (bright red hair and curvy) and never had a boyfriend so when a college guy flirts with her, she makes a decision to sneak out during a school ski trip to meet him and ends up being raped, although she doesn't remember it (she was drugged).  She doesn't tell her mom or her best friends and since her friends covered for her, they get in trouble too and they stop talking to her.  She's alone, trying to get through this absolutely horrific thing that happened to her, and switches out of a class to avoid a girl that hates her and ends up being an A/V aide.  There she meets Corey, who is known as a "stoner." Corey, I have to say, has got to be one of the greatest fictional guys I've ever read about.  He's amazing and absolutely perfect for Sid (he even bakes).  Their relationship grows slowly and realistically from a friendship into something more, and when he tells Sid about the first time he saw heart almost stopped.  An emotional and remarkable debut, I look forward to reading the next book by this author.

OCD Love Story
Author:  Corey Ann Haydu
Publisher:  Simon Pulse, 352 pages
Publication Date:  July 23, 2013

From Goodreads:
When Bea meets Beck, she knows instantly that he’s her kind of crazy. Sweet, strong, kinda-messed-up Beck understands her like no one else can. He makes her feel almost normal. He makes her feel like she could fall in love again.

But despite her feelings for Beck, Bea can’t stop thinking about someone else: a guy who is gorgeous and magnetic... and has no idea Bea even exists. But Bea knows a lot about him. She spends a lot of time watching him. She has a journal full of notes. Some might even say she’s obsessed.

Bea tells herself she’s got it all under control. But this isn’t a choice, it’s a compulsion. The truth is, she’s breaking down...and she might end up breaking her own heart.

Fascinating, but also difficult to read because of the subject matter.  I don't know much about OCD and I'm assuming that the author did her homework, but I was surprised that stalking can be OCD behavior.  I felt so bad for both Bea and Beck because it's clear that they don't want to be living like this, but obviously they can't help it.  And it makes you realize how debilitating OCD can be.  The romance is touching and I found myself really rooting for them.  There's so much energy to the writing, and I could hear Bea's voice so clearly.  “I think of everything and I'm pretty sure if I could use my organizational skills for something else, like wildlife survival kits or preparing people for nuclear warfare, I'd be a millionaire. Or at the very least actually a useful human being.” Intense, emotional, sometimes humorous (but not a light read at all), this is an incredible debut.  

Posted by:  Pam