Monday, March 30, 2015

Book Review: The Girl at Midnight by Melissa Grey

The Girl at Midnight (The Girl at Midnight #1)
Author:  Melissa Grey
Publisher:  Delacorte Press, 368 pages
Expected Publication Date:  April 28, 2015
*ARC received from publisher via NetGalley

From Goodreads:
Beneath the streets of New York City live the Avicen, an ancient race of people with feathers for hair and magic running through their veins. Age-old enchantments keep them hidden from humans. All but one. Echo is a runaway pickpocket who survives by selling stolen treasures on the black market, and the Avicen are the only family she's ever known.

Echo is clever and daring, and at times she can be brash, but above all else she's fiercely loyal. So when a centuries-old war crests on the borders of her home, she decides it's time to act.

Legend has it that there is a way to end the conflict once and for all: find the Firebird, a mythical entity believed to possess power the likes of which the world has never seen. It will be no easy task, but if life as a thief has taught Echo anything, it's how to hunt down what she wants . . . and how to take it.

But some jobs aren't as straightforward as they seem. And this one might just set the world on fire.

This book is compared to Cassandra Clare's City of Bones and Leigh Bardugo's Shadow and Bone and you know what?  It actually reminded me of those books.  What???  That hardly ever happens.  I absolutely loved this book.  So much.  Some people may be bothered by the fact that this book does seem like a mash-up of other books (including Daughter of Smoke and Bone), but it just made me love it more.  

The world-building is excellent, with just the right amount of information given at the right time.  You have the Avicen, a bird-like race who look human except for they have feathers for hair and feathers on some parts of their bodies.  And a lot of them have to wear sunglasses to hide their inhuman eyes.  Then you have the Drakharin, a race who, over the years, barely have any dragon-like qualities left (scales over some parts of their skin).  Then of course there are the humans, unaware of these two enemy races (except for Echo).

Echo…one of my favorite characters.  Ever. She's basically a female Jace (except she doesn't think she's irresistible to the opposite sex).  She's funny and snarky and she made me laugh.  

The book is told through multiple POVs so you get into the heads of the other characters as well.  What a fun gang this turns out to be.  A thief, a deposed prince, an apprentice healer, a royal guard, and another thief (described as a scoundrel). Loved the dynamic between all of them.  So much fun!  So many feels!  I already feel like reading it again.

This book has everything.  Read it!

Posted by:  Pam

Sunday, March 29, 2015

Movie Review: The Giver

Movie: The Giver
Director: Phillip Noyce
Length: 97 minutes
Screenwriter: Michael Mitnick and Robert D. Weide
U.S. Release: August 15, 2014

Based on the Book: The Giver (The Giver Quartet #1)
Author:  Lois Lowry
Publisher:  Ember, 179 pages
Publication Date:  1993

Movie Review:
I thought I had read this book only to realize while watching the movie that I never have, but I definitely will over the summer.  This was such an interesting story about a dystopian society where memory has been lost and primary goals of the society elders are to promote sameness and tranquility.  At age 18 in the society all the children transition into their adult functions.  It's at this point that the main character Jonas learns that he will be the next Receiver.  A complex relationship then emerges between the Giver and the Receiver.  I loved the cinematography in this film and the costumes and sets were gorgeous.  If you haven't had a chance to watch this one I highly recommend it.

Posted By: Sheri

Saturday, March 28, 2015

Stacking the Shelves (88)

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
Catalyst by Lydia Kang

What books did you add to your shelves this week?

Friday, March 27, 2015

Recommend It? Super Mini-Reviews (5)

I got this idea from Danielle at Love at First Page. I read a lot of books that I don't review so I thought I would give a super short review of some books and let you know whether I recommend them or not.

The Orphan Queen by Jodi Meadows.  Loved this one!  Wil is a fantastic heroine, a queen who goes undercover in order to take back her country.  Loved this world, where magic is forbidden because when it's used, it leads to wraith, a physical manifestation of magic that's destroying the world.  There's also a masked vigilante, Black Knife, who keeps the citizens safe but also captures magic users. Loved Wil and Black Knife's relationship.  Evil cliffhanger!!  Definitely recommend.

I Was Here by Gayle Forman.  Such a sad book.  It's powerful, emotional, raw, hopeful.  Even though Cody and Ben's relationship is complicated and somewhat messed up in the way that they meet, it's actually quite perfect and I loved it.  This book makes you think.  And feel.  It's part mystery, part coming-of-age story. Recommend.

Salt & Stone by Victoria Scott.  Still love Tella's voice. Fast-paced, full of action, I really enjoyed it. Still have questions that haven't been answered and hated that Tella and Guy have so many issues working as a team. Also not thrilled that a third book is not a sure thing. If the author only has a two-book deal, why doesn't she finish the story in the second book??  Recommend with the caveat that we may only ever get 2/3 of the story.

Posted by:  Pam

Thursday, March 26, 2015

Discussion Question: Why, Authors, Why?

I recently was reading the second book of a series.  Loved it, thought it was great, excited about the next book and how it's all going to end.  I go to Goodreads to see when the next book is coming out and there may not be a next book.  The author only got a two-book deal from the publisher.  Um…what?  Now I know I don't know how the publishing world works, but it seems to me that if you get a two-book deal, you figure out how to tell your story in two books.  Maybe make each book longer (they're both barely over 300 pages).  

And this is not the only time this has happened.  Why, authors, why?  Why do you do this to your readers?  I don't think it's right.  I think they have an obligation.  Now maybe they're really hopeful and they think that second or third book will happen. But in my opinion, if they don't know, they have an obligation to their readers to write a complete story.  And if that means it's only one book, it's only one book.  And if they get a two-book deal, they write two books that tell a complete story.  They don't write two books like it's a trilogy if they don't know if that third book will ever happen.  That's just not right.  

What do you think? Am I just mad for no reason???

Posted by:  Pam

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Book Review: One Night by A.J. Pine

One Night
Author:  A.J. Pine
Publisher: InterMix
Expected Publication Date:  April 21, 2015
*ARC received from publisher via NetGalley

From Goodreads:
Twenty-one-year-old Jess used to have everything—a loyal best friend, a boyfriend she loved, and a future that was right on track. But in a single night, her whole world changed.

Now, Jess lives for the impersonal connection of drunken hook-ups and to-go coffee cups in the morning. All she needs is one night to pretend everything is fine…until she meets Adam.

Thanks to a sports injury, gorgeous, charming basketball star Adam Carson is stuck in physical therapy at the hospital where Jess interns—giving her the perfect opportunity to see his sweet, considerate nature and making her realize that maybe she does want something more.

But while Adam might be the best thing that’s happened to Jess in a long time, letting him past her carefully constructed walls means letting him know what happened...and why he'd never want her for more than one night.

The main reason I liked this book is because of Adam.  What a refreshing change from the usual tortured bad boy.  Adam's a nice guy who doesn't play games.  He likes Jess and he shows it.  He's basically a happy guy, although he's struggling a bit knowing his basketball career is coming to an end (By the way, loved that he became a Vampire Diaries fan).

The secondary characters are amazing as well.  Jess's best friend, the little girl Jess meets interning at the hospital…loved both of them.

What I didn't like?  Jess.  And I feel bad that I didn't like her.  She's obviously been through a traumatic event, although we're kept in the dark for most of the book the exact details of that event.  I thought maybe that's why I didn't sympathize with her since I didn't know, but even once I found out, I thought she handled it so poorly.  It was hard to relate to how closed off she was and why she pushed everyone away and I got tired of her thinking she didn't deserve being with someone other than just for one night.  I mean, I sort of got it but I didn't.  And she was extremely selfish (which, to be fair, she acknowledges).  Maybe that was part of the story the author was trying to tell, that people don't necessarily handle things, that they make mistakes, that they do push people away, but that you should still stick with them and fight for them.  Which is what Adam does.  So again, much love for Adam, but it's hard to love a book when you don't like the main character.

Posted by:  Pam

Monday, March 23, 2015

Book Review: Rebellion by Stephanie Diaz

Rebellion (Extraction #2)
Author:  Stephanie Diaz
Publisher:  St. Martins Griffin, 324 pages
Publication Date:  February 10, 2015
*ARC received from publisher via NetGalley

From Goodreads:
The uprising has begun.

It's been seven days since Clementine and Logan, along with their allies, retreated into hiding on the Surface. The rebels may have won one battle against Commander Charlie, but the fight is far from finished. He has vowed to find a way to win—no matter the cost. Do the rebels have what it takes to defeat him...and put an end to this war?

As Clementine and Logan enter a desperate race against time to defeat Commander Charlie—and attempt to weaken his power within his own ranks—they find themselves in a terrifying endgame that pits them against a brutal enemy, and each other. With every step, Clementine draws closer to losing Logan...and losing control of herself.

Rebellion is an entertaining sci-fi book, but at the same time, it all feels so familiar. The special girl with the ability to resist a mind-altering serum.  The evil government with one particular villain who has it out for the special girl.  However, even when the villain in charge (there are a lot of villains) has the opportunity to kill the girl, he doesn't because he needs her for some unexplained reason (I guess because she's just so special).  Whenever that happens, it never makes sense to me.

It's about a rebellion (obviously), but I have to say, it's the most poorly planned and executed rebellion I've ever read about.  What doesn't go wrong?  While there's a lot of action, at the same time, nothing happens.  What I mean by that is that the plot doesn't really progress.  Definitely a case of middle book syndrome.  

Although I know it doesn't sound like it, I did like the book, but I really like where the book is headed.  The whole alien race and war that's coming.  Now that, I'm excited about.  

Posted by:  Pam

Saturday, March 21, 2015

Stacking the Shelves (87)

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.

I can't believe I didn't buy any books this week!

Pam's Weekly Haul
From the library:
Salt & Stone by Victoria Scott

What books did you add to your shelves this week?

Friday, March 20, 2015

Book Review: Confess by Colleen Hoover

Author:  Colleen Hoover
Publisher:  Atria Books, 320 pages
Publication Date:  March 10, 2015

From Goodreads:
Auburn Reed has her entire life mapped out. Her goals are in sight and there’s no room for mistakes. But when she walks into a Dallas art studio in search of a job, she doesn’t expect to find a deep attraction to the enigmatic artist who works there, Owen Gentry.

For once, Auburn takes a risk and puts her heart in control, only to discover Owen is keeping major secrets from coming out. The magnitude of his past threatens to destroy everything important to Auburn, and the only way to get her life back on track is to cut Owen out of it.

The last thing Owen wants is to lose Auburn, but he can’t seem to convince her that truth is sometimes as subjective as art. All he would have to do to save their relationship is confess. But in this case, the confession could be much more destructive than the actual sin…

Colleen Hoover definitely knows how to create characters that you care about, characters that you root for.  I felt for both Auburn and Owen.  I wanted them to be together.  And when you find out about Owen's connection with Auburn from a long time ago.  Aww….

However, I was disappointed in the big thing that keeps them apart.  Such a cliché.  The "villain" character is two-dimensional, as is another character that's problematic for seemingly no good reason.  So while I enjoyed the book, and it tugs at your heartstrings, I didn't love it.  However, she's still an auto-buy author because she makes me FEEL.

Posted by:  Pam

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Book Review: Steelheart by Brandon Sanderson

Steelheart (Reckoners #1)
Author:  Brandon Sanderson
Publisher:  Delacorte Press, 386 pages
Publication Date:  September 24, 2013

From Goodreads:
Ten years ago, Calamity came. It was a burst in the sky that gave ordinary men and women extraordinary powers. The awed public started calling them Epics. But Epics are no friend of man. With incredible gifts came the desire to rule. And to rule man you must crush his wills.

Nobody fights the Epics...nobody but the Reckoners. A shadowy group of ordinary humans, they spend their lives studying Epics, finding their weaknesses, and then assassinating them.

And David wants in. He wants Steelheart - the Epic who is said to be invincible. The Epic who killed David's father. For years, like the Reckoners, David's been studying, and planning - and he has something they need. Not an object, but an experience.

He's seen Steelheart bleed. And he wants revenge.

I really enjoyed Steelheart, which is a mash-up of fantasy, dystopian, and science-fiction.

What I liked:
1.  World-building.  Loved this.  This world was basically our world until a star or something (it's a red thing in the sky) came and gave some people super powers.  However, instead of becoming heroes, they all become villains (they're called Epics) and they basically fight each other to dominate the regular people.  Now the world is comprised of different territories led by different Epics.  Their powers vary, from Epics who can create illusions to Epics who can point and turn people into dust.  Then there's Steelheart, who can blast people using only his hands and nothing can kill him.  He's supposedly invincible, unlike the other Epics who have weaknesses.   

2.  Characters.  David is a great main character.  He's awkward, goofy, sort of a nerd, who for the past 10 years has been studying the Epics because he wants revenge against Steelheart, who killed his father.  The book is told from his POV and I enjoyed his voice, which was filled with humor in an otherwise grim book (there's a lot of bad metaphors from him).  I also liked the members of the Reckoners, a rebel group who kill Epics.  

3.  Fast-paced, there's non-stop action in this book.  Heart pounding, life or death action.   A ton of chase and fight scenes.  There was basically no way to stop reading this book.

4.  The ending.  The book wraps up the main plot, but at the same time, there are twists (some I predicted, others not) that make me excited to read the next book.

What I didn't like:
My only complaint is that the book is almost too fast-paced and filled with action.  That may seem like a strange complaint (and I know I listed that as a positive), but I wanted more of the characters, more inner dialogue, etc. and the fact that there was no down time at all prevented that.  I need those quiet scenes in between all of the action so that I feel more of a connection with the characters.

I recommend this book, it's a fun and entertaining read.

Posted by:  Pam

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Top Ten Tuesday: Top Ten Books on Our Spring TBR List

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

Pam's List:
I picked contemporary books that I'm really looking forward to reading this spring.

1.  Things We Know By Heart by Jessi Kirby (April 21, 2015).  Falling in love with the guy who has her dead boyfriend's heart?  I just know this one is going to be good.  
2.  The Fill-In Boyfriend by Kasie West (May 5, 2015).  Fake dating trope.  Kasie West.  Sold!
3.  Saint Anything by Sarah Dessen (May 5, 2015).  I recently discovered Sarah Dessen (I know, I know, how did I never read her before?) and I can see what everyone has been raving about.  Her books are quietly brilliant.
4.  Made You Up by Francesca Zappia (May 19, 2015).  A girl battling schizophrenia.  The ultimate unreliable narrator.
5.  P.S. I Still Love You (To All the Boys I've Loved Before #2) by Jenny Han (May 25, 2015).  Lara Jean!  Peter!  What is going to happen?  Still stunned at the cliffhanger ending. I mean, come on, you're not supposed to have cliffhanger endings in contemporaries.  

Sheri's List:  A random collection of books I will read before summer!

1. Fairest by Marissa Meyer (Lunar Chronicles #3.5). I can't wait to find out how and why Queen Levana became the power crazed ruler that she is!
2. Enticed by Jessica Shirvington (The Violet Eden Chapters #2). I LOVED Embrace, the first book in this series, so much and was shocked by a particular plot twist that I can't wait to see what Jessica Shirvington does next.
3. Ashes by Ilsa J. Black (Ashes Trilogy #1). My friend bought this series for me and I've been reluctant to start it because of the creepy cover picture but I will "listen" to it this spring.
4. Love, Lucy by April Lindner.  I love retellings of classic literature so I have high hopes for this one that retells the wonderful love story of Lucy Honeychurch and George Emerson from A Room With a View.
5. In the Shadow of Blackbirds by Cat Winters. Ohhhh.....a historical ghost story, I can't wait.

What books are on your spring TBR list?

Monday, March 16, 2015

Book Review: Denton Little's Deathdate by Lance Rubin

Denton Little's Deathdate
Author:  Lance Rubin
Publisher:  Knopf Books for Young Readers, 352 pages
Expected Publication Date:  April 14, 2015
*ARC received from publisher via NetGalley

From Goodreads:
Denton Little's Deathdate takes place in a world exactly like our own except that everyone knows the day they will die. For 17-year-old Denton Little, that's tomorrow, the day of his senior prom.

Despite his early deathdate, Denton has always wanted to live a normal life, but his final days are filled with dramatic firsts. First hangover. First sex. First love triangle (as the first sex seems to have happened not with his adoring girlfriend, but with his best friend's hostile sister. Though he's not totally sure. See: first hangover.) His anxiety builds when he discovers a strange purple rash making its way up his body. Is this what will kill him? And then a strange man shows up at his funeral, claiming to have known Denton's long-deceased mother, and warning him to beware of suspicious government characters…. Suddenly Denton's life is filled with mysterious questions and precious little time to find the answers.

Debut author Lance Rubin takes us on a fast, furious, and outrageously funny ride through the last hours of a teenager's life as he searches for love, meaning, answers, and (just maybe) a way to live on.

Quirky, funny, and original, I really enjoyed this one.  The main thing I liked about this book is Denton's voice.  It's authentic, witty, and sarcastic.  He's a likable main character who has always tried to live a normal life even though he knows he's going to die at the age of 17 (everyone is told at the age of 5…how crazy is that?)  But now that it's so close, he realizes that maybe he should have done things a bit differently.  So his last few days are filled with bizarre adventures.  And when I say bizarre, I mean bizarre.  The book gets a bit farfetched toward the end, but it's a fun ride so I didn't mind.

What a weird world, to know the exact day you're going to die.  People attend their own funerals and even give their own eulogies.  Then there's the time after the funeral, when your close friends and family sit around with you while you wait to die.  People have tried to escape their deaths, but it never works.  Somehow, the person always dies.  Although it doesn't sound like it would be funny, it really is.  There's just the right mix of drama and humor (some morbid humor, but I found myself laughing out loud quite a bit).  And there's a crazy, eccentric cast of characters.  

My one complaint is that I just didn't buy the premise.  The explanation was based on science, which made no sense given that there's no way testing someone's blood, etc. would predict accidental deaths or murder.  And at one point, Denton mentions that if it's not your deathdate, you can't die.  Again, makes no sense.  It would have been better to just embrace some sort of paranormal explanation instead. 

Even with that complaint, I still loved the book.  In addition to being highly entertaining, it actually makes you think. Would you want to know if you could? Would it be better?  Worse? Highly recommend this one (and by the way, there's a sequel planned so don't expect full resolution).

Posted by:  Pam

Saturday, March 14, 2015

Stacking the Shelves (86)

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
Confess by Colleen Hoover

What books did you add to your shelves this week?

Friday, March 13, 2015

Discussion Question: Delay Reading Second Book?

I love reading the first book in a new series.  Meeting new characters, discovering a new world.  If there's romance, it's usually hate to love, or push-pull.  I love reading about couples falling in love.  And a lot of times it ends on a cliffhanger and it's so hard waiting for the second book to come out.  But lately, the second book in a trilogy or series comes out and I find myself putting it off.  For example, The Winner's Crime just came out.  I pre-ordered it, was so excited, but then it showed up at my door and I haven't started it yet.  Why?  

The first reason is because I need to reread The Winner's Curse.  I remember the basics, but I'm finding more and more that if I don't reread the previous books in series, I don't enjoy the subsequent books as much.  I'm usually a little lost and I've lost that connection that I have with the characters.  

The second reason is usually because the romance suffers in the second book.  Either a love triangle is introduced, the couple is apart the entire second novel, or something else happens that prevents them from being together (misunderstandings, etc.).  Hardly any second books have the new couple working together, growing together, etc. 

The third reason (and the most important for me) is that I know it's that middle book.  Now I've been reading great reviews, this one doesn't seem to suffer from middle book syndrome, but at the same time, I know the story won't be resolved.  It's not the final book.  And I'm just tired of reading parts of a story.  Does that make sense?  So I'm considering waiting until the final book is out and then binge reading the whole series.  And there are a couple of other trilogies out there that I'm thinking about doing the same thing. Loved the first book, the second book is out, but I'm just sort of meh about reading it until the final book is published.  

Have any of you felt like this before?

Posted by:  Pam

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Recommend It? Super Mini-Reviews (4)

I got this idea from Danielle at Love at First Page. I read a lot of books that I don't review so I thought I would give a super short review of some books and let you know whether I recommend them or not.

The Shadow Cabinet (Shades of London #3) by Maureen Johnson.  Loved it! London. Ghost police. Death cult. The romance…shipping this one so hard! Talk about slow burn. It backtracked a bit in this book, but I have hope…definitely recommend!

A Darker Shade of Magic by V.E. Schwab. A unique and creative story about parallel Londons and magic. White London (where evil magical twins rule), Red London (where magic is just the way of life), Grey London (basically, our world…no magic), and Black London (where magic took over and destroyed the world). Amazing main characters with the potential for a swoony shippable romance. Highly recommend!

The Deal by Elle Kennedy.  What a fun book, it made me laugh and smile. Plenty of sigh-worthy moments, I really loved this one. Sarcastic girl, swoony hockey player, fake dating trope, steamy sex. What more could you ask for? Yes, recommend!

Posted by:  Pam

Monday, March 9, 2015

Book Pushing (1)

This is a new feature where we will be pushing books or authors on you.  

The Archived and The Unbound by Victoria Schwab.
This series is creative and unique and has amazing characters.  Wes and Mac…love them!  The books are beautifully written and each book, although set in the same world, tells its own story.  Not enough series do that.  I also loved the second book more than the first, and that doesn't happen very often.  For my review of The Unbound, click here.

According to the author, there WILL be a third book.  Yay!  See her post here.  And for those who are already fans, here is a short story called Leave the Window Open, written from Wes's POV.  It takes place about 4 hours after the end of The Unbound.  It's sooo good.  We find out Wes's name!  

I highly recommend this series…JUST READ IT!!!  :)

Posted by:  Pam

Saturday, March 7, 2015

Stacking the Shelves (85)

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
The Winner's Crime by Marie Rukowski

What books did you add to your shelves this week?