Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Top Ten Tuesday: Beach Reads Week


Happy Tuesday everyone and welcome back to Top Ten Tuesday, a weekly meme hosted by The Broke and the Bookish.  This week's topic is Beach Reads Week, which gives me a little leeway in what I want to do with it from great beach reads,  books I plan to read on the beach, beach reads for those who don't like typical beach reads, authors who are my go-to for beach reads, etc.  If you haven't already guessed, I don't normally go in for the typical "beach reads", so I'm going to list ten young adult books that are being released this summer that I'm the most interested in reading.

June:


Steeplejack (Alternative Detective #1) by A.J. Hartley (June 14, 2016) - Set in an alternate version of Victorian South Africa with a great mystery and a diverse cast of characters.  Plus, just look at that cover!


Mirror in the Sky by Aditi Khorana (June 21, 2016) - With the discovery of a Mirror Earth, nothing will ever be the same again on our Earth or in Tara's life in her junior year at a tough prep school.  Sounds like a contemporary crossed with sci-fi, this could be great!


And I Darken (The Conqueror's Saga #1) by Kiersten White (June 28, 2016) - Lada and Radu are the children of Vlad Dracul, and Lada is everything her father could wish for - if she were a son, that is.  Now that I know this features the children of the real-life inspiration behind Dracula, I had to add this to my tbr.

July:



This Savage Song (Monsters of Verity #1) by Victoria Schwab (July 5, 2016) - A dark, urban fantasy from Victoria Schwab - that's all I need to know!


The Shadow Hour (The Girl at Midnight #2) by Melissa Grey (July 12, 2016) - I really enjoyed the first installment of the series and I can't wait to see what happens next!


How to Hang a Witch (How to Hang a Witch #1) by Adriana Mather (July 26, 2016) - Samantha Mather and her family have moved to Salem, Massachusetts from NYC and Sam isn't welcomed - her ancestor was Cotton Mather, the man responsible for the witch trials, and she becomes the enemy of a group called The Descendants (of the witches).  If that isn't enough to hook you, the author herself is a real-life Mather!


Harry Potter and the Cursed Child by J.K. Rowling, Jack Thorne, and John Tiffany (July 31, 2016) - I NEED IT!

August:



United (Alienated #3) by Melissa Landers (August 2, 2016) - I'm really looking forward to the last book in the series.  Not too sold on the cover though - I think it's the color palette.


Nevernight (The Nevernight Chronicle #1) by Jay Kristoff (August 9, 2016) - Epic fantasy, assassins, revenge - that's all I really need to know about this new book by one of the authors of Illuminae (I also plan on reading all of his other releases)!  Also it has maps!


A Torch Against the Night (An Ember in the Ashes #2) by Sabaa Tahir (August 30, 2016) - How could I not add the sequel to one of my favorite books of last year?  I'm so excited to see what becomes of Laia and Elias, and meet some new characters!


So, what do you think of my list this week?  Are you as excited about these new releases as I am?  What are some of your beach reads?

Summer 2016 Review Train: Future Shock (Future Shock #1) by Elizabeth Briggs


Welcome to the second stop of the Summer 2016 Review Train, a feature hosted by Brittany @ Space Between the Spines!  Today, I will be sharing my review of Future Shock (Future Shock #1) by Elizabeth Briggs, released April 1st, 2016, with you!  We have a lot of awesome bloggers and reviews to help get the Summer started!  Yesterday, Genni @ Ready, Set, Read kicked off the Train with her review of The Unexpected Everything by Morgan Matson.  Tomorrow, the Train moves on to Laura @ Blue Eye Books with her review of The Summer I Turned Pretty by Jenny Han, so be sure to follow it along it's track!  By the way, on Brittany's stop on the final day of the Train, June 8th, there will also be a giveaway, and who doesn't like a giveaway!


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Elena Martinez has to find a job before she turns eighteen or she will be homeless and on the streets when she ages out of the foster care system. She's determined, street smart, and has an eidetic memory, but she's having a difficult time finding work.  Maybe it's because she's a tatted up Mexican girl with a record, and her father's legacy hanging over head to boot.  When she suddenly receives a job offer from the Aether Corporation, an L.A. tech giant, for more money for a day's work than she's ever seen in her life, she jumps at the chance.  Aether Corp. has recruited four other teens - Chris, Trent, Zoe, and Adam - for this mission.  All five are a part of a secret operation to travel ten years into the future, and bring back any pertinent data.  They're only given one rule - do not to look into their own futures.  However, something goes wrong when they arrive and they are forced to break that one rule.  They now have twenty-four hours to get back to their own time, change the future, and stop a murder.  They'll have to be careful, though, because changing the timeline can have deadly consequences.

Going into Future Shock, the first book in a new series by Elizabeth Briggs, I knew that it featured time travel.  Honestly, that's a huge reason as to why I wanted to read the book and I'm pleased to say that I enjoyed the execution of this novel from the time travel to the future, a good central mystery, characterizations, and pacing.  Also, I really got a kick out of the pop culture references to Doctor Who and Back to the Future!

Usually, I prefer my time travel into the past, but I do like to see how the future can be imagined every now and then.  In this novel, they expect to go only ten years into the future, rather than the thirty they actually end up going, so there are quite a few interesting changes between then and now.  For example, in thirty years cash is obsolete and payments are made by fingerprint scans that are linked directly to your bank account, cars are entirely self-driving, and many people wear devices called flexis on their face, which are something like having a mental link to a smartphone via a small, transparent sheet of plastic that can display a pattern of the wearer's choice on the surface.  I wouldn't doubt a future of self-driving cars and payment via fingerprint at all.  I'm not sure about going totally hands free like with these flexis, but I guess only time will tell - I mean, just look at how much technology has changed since 1986.  Either way, the time travel aspect is handled well with minimal confusion.

This leads me to the mystery at the heart of the story that Elena and her fellow time travelers need to work out.  Due to time travel (and some research), Elena knows the end results, but lacks the details of how exactly they get to that point.  They have to work backwards to put together their own personal futures, while also trying to figure out if they've been set up and if there is more to the entire situation than meets the eye.  I really enjoyed trying to piece everything together with Elena and her companions and I liked that the novel kept me on my toes with it's quick pacing.

As for our diverse cast of characters, Elena, one tough cookie with a great memory, and Adam, a smart nerd (plus a fan of the Doctor), are the two most well developed characters of the main five.  Don't get me wrong - Chris, Trent, and Zoe each had their moments to shine, but I felt they were somewhat lacking in comparison.  I also liked that we got to see some of the adults behind Aether Corporation - and I only wish I could have seen more of them.  Then again, part of the mystery probably would have unraveled a bit faster if that was the case.  Although each of the main five time traveling characters can be somewhat prickly or off-putting for one reason or another, I came to like all of them well enough in turn.

Overall, I had a great time while reading and keeping up with the time travel and mysterious antics in this creative debut YA novel by Elizabeth Briggs.  The twists and turns are well executed and the story kept me turning those pages.  For me, the time travel and the sci-fi elements really make the story, and the characters plus their mental and emotional baggage, all make this new novel a must read for fans of the genre.  



I read this novel from May 17 - 22, 2016 and my review is also on Goodreads.


And, now, don't forget to visit tomorrow's stop on the Review Train with Laura @ Blue Eye Books!

Monday, May 30, 2016

Starting Sparks: May Edition


Welcome back to Starting Sparks, a monthly writing link-up hosted by Emily @ Ink, Inc. and Ashley G. @ [insert title here]!  The idea behind it is to spark your creativity and write on a theme posted at the first of the month by the co-hosts.  You can write whatever you like be it a short story, a scene, a poem, a piece of dialogue, or simply an exploration of an idea.  This month the selected theme is the following:


The Unexpected Lesson

Today was shaping up to be one of those crazy days - the kind where everything that can go wrong does and with a vengeance - and it began with a phone call.  Unfortunately, I picked up on the first ring.

"Jeez!  You still have a landline?!"

I recognized the voice right away.  "No.  Not you.  Anyone but you."

"I'm in shock - a landline! In 2016!"

"Nick, first, how did you get this number; second, what do you want; and third, see you at school on Monday.  Bye."  I started to hang up the receiver, but his tinny yet suddenly serious voice stopped me.

"I need your help.  Please."

Nick never asked for help, let alone said the p-word.  Nick's the guy I'm assigned to tutor in Lit and Composition.  We happened to be in the same class section this semester, and since I have one of the top grades in the class our teacher paired us up.  Basically, I'm supposed to help him with the writing assignments and help him review for tests.  We meet up two days a week in the library during our free period.  And, let me just say that outside of our class and those Tuesday and Thursday sessions, I don't really care to see him any more in the space of one week.  I don't move in the same circles as he and his friends.  Of course, while I'm working with him during our meet ups he's not half bad (and his grades are getting better), but still an annoying jock, but with his friends he's insufferable.

Now, I know very little about his life outside of school, but honestly, I don't care all that much.  I do know that his parents have plenty of money, and they give him whatever his heart desires.  I have to work for every little thing I have to my name.  I've also been able to figure out that his parent's don't actually spend that much time with him and he's left to his own devices quite a bit.  That makes me feel for him...almost.

"What?  Everything alright?"  The concern was obvious in my voice whether I wanted it to be or not.  Those five words made me wonder what's going on - whatever it is could be serious.

"I need to learn how to play the electric guitar."

"Nick, I'm your English tutor, not your band tutor."  As far as I knew he didn't play a single instrument, whereas I've been playing multiple instruments since elementary school.

"But you can play the guitar right?"

"Sure."  I didn't mention that I've been playing the guitar since I was eight and can actually play acoustic, electric, and bass, on top of the trumpet for the school band.

"Look," Nick said, "I signed up for the talent show to play the electric guitar and it's on Tuesday."

That's two days from now.  "...Why? You don't play."

He sighed like he's been wondering the same thing. "I wanted to impress Taylor by playing the guitar in front of the whole school even though I have no clue how to hold a guitar the right way let alone actually play it." He said it very quickly and in one breath.

Everyone at school knew that Taylor... appreciated a boy who could play the guitar. And, that Nick was one of her many admirers. Clearly, this was part of a plan to get into her good graces.

Normally, I wouldn't want to get involved in something this silly when I have much better things to do, especially with a guy like him - someone I really only put up with for class. But, it's only two days, I can give him a quick crash course and teach him a popular yet simple song and enjoy his ridiculous attempt to win Taylor over from the auditorium seats. It might get interesting and knowing him he would take the credit himself and my my name wouldn't come up. My friends wouldn't let me forget it if they knew, but what the heck. I'm feeling generous. 

"Sure, but you'll owe me. Deal?"

"Really?" He sounded surprised, like asking me was a last resort and he didn't expect me to actually say yes.

"Really. Before I change my mind, where are we going to practice?" It couldn't be anywhere near where his friends might find out.

"I'm outside." The phone disconnected and and there was a knock on the front door.

I muttered something impolite to myself and went to answer it.

He brought his own guitar with him. Of course he had one.  I showed him into the living room and excused myself to grab my own guitar.  This is so not how I expected my day to go.

After setting up (at least he knew how to do that), I realized his guitar was badly out of tune.  I ended up doing it for him.  Try as I might to explain it to him, he couldn't wrap his head around the concept of sharp and flat strings and how to get them in tune.

I'll spare you the rest of the gory details of the subsequent three hours because it just went downhill from there.  At least he was being a good sport, even though he got himself into this mess in the first place.  No matter how much he worked at it during that amount of time could he work out the three chords.  He knew what he was supposed to do and he picked his favorite of the easy three chord songs I mentioned, but his fingers didn't really behave as he expected on the strings.  And, the longer we were at it, the more he kept whining about his fingertips hurting.  He shut up and got back to it after he saw my callused fingers from years of playing.

Finally, after hours of practice that day and the next with no sign of improvement, the day of the talent show came.  Nick couldn't been seen by his friends as a quitter - they didn't even know that I spent that last couple of days giving him a crash course - and he had Taylor on his mind.  Before I walked into the auditorium to take my seat, Nick had signed himself up to go onstage first.  This is going to be interesting.  As I turned to go through, I saw some of his lunkhead friends excitedly talking about how awesome he was going to be - and how he going to "shred".  Right.  I don't want to see Nick fail, but honestly, I'd like to see him make a spectacle of himself on stage and look far less than his usual effortless cool.

Just after the lunkheads went in, Nick ran around the corner from the doorway down the hall leading backstage.

"Please," The p-word again.  "I can't do this - not in front of everyone - not yet."

"Then, why did you sign yourself up to go on first - in ten minutes - to play an instrument you've never picked up before two days ago?"

"You know why."  He paused as he watched Taylor stride into the auditorium with her group of followers.  "Now will you help me one more time?"  He turned and hurried toward the stage door.  He held it open for me and gestured for me to follow him.

I heaved a sigh - and followed, against my better judgment.  Backstage, he showed me his guitar, amp, and mic.  "You're going to sing?"  I had no idea until now - that entirely changed the game.

"Yes, and you're going to play - pick a song."

I looked between him and his equipment.  "What?"

"Please.  You know how much I suck - I'll never be able to play the guitar as well as you do, but I can sing.  Just have to hope that no one notices I'm faking when it comes to the guitar."

I'm starting to catch up.  "Won't your Taylor notice?"

"No, she knows even less about it than I do.  She just likes the idea of hot guys serenading her.  Plus some of those other dudes she's been with make it look easy, you make it look easy, that I thought it would be."

"Nick, I make it look easy because I've been playing for nine years.  It takes a lot of finger bleeding practice to make it look that easy..."  Well, I'm in it this far.  "If I say yes, can I choose whatever song I want as long as you know the lyrics?  Your friends want to hear you shred."  My lips twist ironically on that last word.  "You'll owe me double."

"Fine.  What song did you have in mind?"

"'Johnny B. Goode', Back to the Future style."  I say it immediately - it's so much fun to play and I just rewatched the movie trilogy for the umpteenth time.

"Geek," he mutters.  But I can tell he knows the scene just as well as I do - and he confirms it a second later.  "Yeah, I can do that."  He looks from side to side to make sure know one else is listening.  We quickly work out the logistics in the next couple of minutes.  Basically, it's a good thing I had my guitar in my locker.  Only his mic will be on while my guitar will be secretly plugged into the amp on the stage while I play from behind the curtain.  Now it's just a matter of keeping time with one another, but considering both of us know it so well, hopefully it might actually go off without a hitch.  The jock gets the popular girl, the lunkheads get to see their friend "shred" onstage, and I take my bows backstage after playing one of my fave songs.

Ah, well. Now, I just have to think of something good to call him in on, and it'll be big and expensive.  Just one of those days...  Right.  I could hear the principal announce Nick's name.  Here goes nothing - I just hope he can keep up, and doesn't drop his guitar!


Music Monday: Dexys Midnight Runners


Happy Monday everyone and welcome back to Music Monday! Let's share some songs we've been enjoying lately!  If you would like to play and I really hope you do, please see the rules and link up below.

Rules:

Every Monday share one or two of songs you've been enjoying lately.  It doesn't have to be a specific genre, new, or one of your favorites - just something you'd like to share with others.  If possible, share a music or lyric video of the song and your thoughts on the song(s), artist(s), and/or music video(s).

If you would like to participate in Music Monday, please join the link up by sharing your post's url.


This week I'm spotlighting Dexys Midnight Runners.  These are the only two songs I really know by the group, but I love both of them.

"Come On Eileen" (1982) - This is the most well known song by this group, at least in the US, and before I heard some of their other songs I thought they were a one hit wonder.  It turns out that "Come On Eileen" is from their second album called Too-Rye-Ay.  Anyways, within the last month or so I've been hearing this at least 5 times a week between the radio and work, so of course, it's been on my mind since it's such an ear worm.  I'm not too sold on the music video, though...I mean, what's with all of the denim overalls?


"Geno" (1980) - This song is from the group's first album, Searching for the Young Soul Rebels.  I know that this was one of their most popular songs in the UK, but I've never heard this one on the radio in the US.  I just happened to stumble across it online.  I love the sound of the song, but, honestly, I can't make out any of the lyrics (without looking them up) aside from "Oh, Geno".





Saturday, May 28, 2016

The Sin Eater's Daughter (The Sin Eater's Daughter #1) by Melinda Salisbury - Review


❋ ❋ 

Twylla lives in the castle and is betrothed to the Prince, but she isn't a princess. In fact, she is the daughter of the Sin Eater and she is the Goddess embodied and acts as the royal executioner. She has poison in her veins and can kill with a single touch. Every month she kills the traitors to the crown - she's even been forced to kill her only friend. The prince, while immune to her poison because of his royal blood, actively avoids her - who could love a girl with murder in her blood. Her new guard, Leif, seems to be able to overlook the executioner and Goddess embodied and see the girl underneath. However, treasonous romance should be the least of their concerns because the queen has a plan to destroy her enemies that will require Twylla to make a huge sacrifice to protect her kingdom, that is, if she's not to busy thinking about her love story with Leif.

The concept behind The Sin Eater's Daughter caught my attention from the moment I heard about it - I mean, an executioner with fantastical abilities to kill with one touch? That sounds exactly like something up my alley. However, the forbidden romance and instalove pretty much overpower the entire story. Plus, after reading it I wouldn't really call it an epic fantasy - it's definitely a romance set in a fantasy world kingdom where very little actually happens. Both Twylla and Leif grated on me, as well. Twylla (pronounced T'Willuh, not T'Why-Luh) is quite naive and only seems to a) agonize over her powers b) agonize over the fact that no one could possibly love her because of her powers and c) fall madly in love with her new guard and want to hang all of the rules and potentially commit treason because he actually gives her the time of day. Leif was interesting at first because of his differences of opinion in comparison to Twylla and the rest of the kingdom, but the more he kept going on about all of it the less interested I became - probably because I was hoping he was wrong, but (view spoiler). Personally, I was halfway hoping the queen would be victorious.

Overall, this book wasn't terrible, but it could have been much better. If it wasn't for the final set of twists and reveals, the lush writing style, and the dulcet tones of the audiobook narrator, I would have only given this book two stars. If you enjoyed Shatter Me by Tahereh Mafi and Cruel Beauty by Rosamund Hodge, you may also enjoy The Sin Eater's Daughter by Melinda Salisbury. Unfortunately, I doubt I'll be continuing on to the sequel, The Sleeping Prince, anytime soon.


I listened to this audiobook from May 7 - May 9, 2016 and my review is also on Goodreads.

The Regional Office is Under Attack! by Manuel Gonzales - Review


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The Regional Office and its superpowered female assassins protect the world from the forces of darkness and annihilation. Oyemi and her oracles find new recruits and uncover evil plots. Then, a prophecy suggests that someone from within the Regional Office will bring about its downfall - and before you know it the Regional Office is under attack! Rose, the leader of the attack, was recruited from a defector on the inside and she is eager to strengthen her powers and prove herself. Sarah, defending the Regional Office, may actually have a mechanical arm and is devoted to the organization that took her in after her mother's disappearance. On the day of the attack, Rose and Sarah will collide and the world just might end.

The Regional Office is Under Attack! by Manuel Gonzales is a whole lot of fun and just plain awesome! It's incredibly imaginative with the right amount of crazy and a healthy dose of humor. Plus, it packs quite an adrenaline rush. If you're a fan of The Intern's Handbook by Shane Kuhn, Die Hard, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, and The Avengers, especially Black Widow, you will love this fantastic new novel. Seriously, just read it already - you won't be disappointed!


I read this novel from May 5 - 8, 2016 and my review is also on Goodreads.

Boneshaker (The Clockwork Century #1) by Cherie Priest - Review


❋ ❋ 

Dr. Leviticus Blue's Incredible Bone-Shaking Drill Engine was designed to mine through the Alaskan ice to reach the gold discovered before the days of the Civil War. Unfortunately, the first test run went south when his machine destroyed many blocks of downtown Seattle and released a deadly underground gas. This blight gas, as it would come to be called, would kill those who had been exposed to it for too long, and for some unknown reason those dead may also return as zombie-like creatures. Now, sixteen years later, a wall has been built around the still toxic city center sealing off the blight gas and the hungry, undead rotters. Just beyond the wall lives Blue, Leviticus's widow, with her son, Ezekiel, just managing to scrape by. Then, one day Ezekiel takes it into his head to rewrite history and prove that both his father and his grandfather weren't the men everyone thinks they were, even though he never met either of them. That means going into the walled city to get the proof he needs, but along the way he'll face the undead, criminal overlords, armed refugees, and airship pirates. It's up to Briar to get her son back safely before he dies at the hands of one of the aforementioned groups, or the filters in his gas mask go bad.

I really like the idea of a steampunk novel set in an alternate version of Seattle during an extended Civil War with zombies, airships, and strong mechanical arms. However, in my opinion, the execution of the concept could have been better. The audio book I listened to was excellently produced and the two voices (one of which belongs to Wil Wheaton) made it easier to keep track of the multiple characters featured in the story. Unfortunately, the two leading characters were difficult for me to relate to with Briar coming off as much too distant and Ezekiel as just plain irritating and dumb throughout. Seriously, I was kind of hoping a rotter would stumble around a corner and take him out at every turn. I actually preferred some of the secondary characters, such as Swakhammer, Lucy, and Fang. Another minor issue for me is the pacing, which for the most part moved along at a decent pace, but overall the last third of the story goes at near break neck pace where the first two-thirds is practically leisurely in comparison. Admittedly, I also wanted to see a little more of the Boneshaker, too.

Overall, if you're a fan of gritty steampunk Westerns like Revenge and the Wild by Michelle Modesto or zombies, chances are you'll enjoy Boneshaker by Cherie Priest. I'm looking forward to continuing Priest's The Clockwork Century series with Dreadnought and seeing more of the wider world that we were introduced to in this novel.


I listened to this audiobook from April 22 - May 7, 2016 and my review is also on Goodreads.

Thursday, May 26, 2016

Lady Midnight (The Dark Artifices #1) by Cassandra Clare - Review


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Emma Carstairs is one of the best Shadowhunters of her generation and together with her parabatai, Julian Blackthorne, they patrol a Los Angeles that is on the brink of war. When the bodies of humans and fairies are found with the same mysteries markings that Emma's parents were found dead with, an uneasy alliance is formed, giving Emma the chance for the revenge she's always wanted and for Julian to see his brother, Mark, again for the first time in years. Now, all they have to do is solve the murder in two weeks, and just hope the murderer doesn't make them the next target.

Lady Midnight by Cassandra Clare is the first book in her new series, The Dark Artifices, and it's an excellent return to the world of Shadowhunters. It has so much going for it! The characters are great additions to the world, from the leads to the supporting characters. Emma and Julian make great parabatai, and I really felt for them from beginning to end. I also liked getting to know Julian's family, especially Ty, whose autism is portrayed quite accurately. By the way, Mark's return and interactions with the main cast are priceless. The characters really make this story. Now, that's not to say anything else was lacking because it absolutely was not. I loved getting a look at the new side of the Shadow World in Los Angeles. By the way, Clary and company have a cameo appearance, and plus there's even a bonus short story featuring some old favorites.

Overall, you absolutely need to read Lady Midnight by Cassandra Clare, if you are a fan of the world of Shadowhunters. You can certainly read it without previous knowledge of the world, but it's much more rewarding to be familiar with the rest of the author's work. Book two, Lord of Shadows can't come soon enough!


I read this book from April 28 - May 5, 2016 and my review is also on Goodreads.

The Friday 56 (With Book Beginnings): Ink and Bone (The Great Library #1) by Rachel Caine


Welcome to The Friday 56, a weekly meme hosted by Freda's Voice.

These are the rules:
1. Grab a book, any book.
2. Turn to page 56, or 56% on your eReader.
3. Find any sentence (or a few, just don't spoil it) that grabs you.
4. Post it.
5. Add the URL to your post in the link on Freda's most recent Friday 56 post.


I'm also taking part in Book Beginnings, a weekly meme hosted by Rose City Reader.  The rules are pretty simple - you share the first sentence or so and your initial thoughts, impressions, or whatever else it inspires.  Don't forget to link up your post's url with Rose City Reader.



This week I'm spotlighting one of my current reads, Ink and Bone (The Great Library #1) by Rachel Caine.  I'm not very far into it yet, but I'm loving it so far!  As a librarian and bookworm, I simply can't resist the idea of the Great Library of Alexandria still being in existence!  


Beginning:

PROLOGUE

Six Years Ago

"Hold still and stop fighting me," his father said, and slapped him hard enough to leave a mark.  Jess went quiet.  He hadn't meant to fidget, but the pouch strapped to his bare chest felt hot and dangerous, like some animal that might turn on him and bite.

56:

"On the highest possible level, the Library exists because each nation of the world benefits from it, and because the Library favors none, relies on none.  It took time to free ourselves from the politics, kings, and priests; it took time to assemble the wealth and the force to defend what we have.  But most of all, it took a miracle."

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Top Ten Tuesday: Books I Feel Differently About After Time Has Passed


Happy Tuesday everyone and welcome to Top Ten Tuesday, a weekly meme hosted by The Broke and the Bookish!  This week's theme is Books I Feel Differently About After Time Has Passed (less love, more love, indifference, etc.).  This week I'm narrowing it down books that I've read relatively recently that I now feel more or less indifferent about.  I initially gave each book a positive rating and/ or review, but now I can't quite exactly remember why I enjoyed them so much in the first place.  Maybe that's a sign that I should reread these books!


Schizo by Nic Sheff


The Darkest Part of the Forest by Holly Black


Why We Broke Up by Daniel Handler


The Lying Game by Sara Shepard


I Saw Zombies Eating Santa Clause by S.G. Browne


Rivers by Michael Farris Smith


The Shadows by Jacqueline West




Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close by Jonathan Franzen


Repossessed by A.M. Jenkins

So, what do you think of my list this week?  Have you read any of these books?  Do you think I should give these another shot?  What books do you feel differently about now?

Monday, May 23, 2016

Music Monday: Ben Rector


Happy Monday everyone and welcome back to Music Monday! Let's share some songs we've been enjoying lately!  If you would like to play and I really hope you do, please see the rules and link up below.

Rules:

 Every Monday share one or two of songs you've been enjoying lately.  It doesn't have to be a specific genre, new, or one of your favorites - just something you'd like to share with others.  If possible, share a music or lyric video of the song and your thoughts on the song(s), artist(s), and/or music video(s).

If you would like to participate in Music Monday, please join the link up at the bottom of this post by sharing your post's url.

This week I'm spotlighting an artist I've really been enjoying on the radio for the last few weeks, Ben Rector.  I hadn't heard of him before "Brand New" started to get air time, but I'm really enjoying listening to his new album.

"Brand New" (2015) - When I saw this performance on Conan, I was pleased to see that he still sounds excellent.  Such an upbeat song!



"Paris" (2015) - This is also off his newest album.  The more I listen to his music, the more I hope his career takes off (I know, he already has six albums out, but his music deserves more attention)!




Saturday, May 21, 2016

Amanda Lester and the Pink Sugar Conspiracy (Amanda Lester, Detective #1) by Paula Berinstein - Review


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I received a free copy of this ebook in exchange for an honest review.

Don't think that just because Amanda Lester is descended from Inspector G. Lestrade that she's interested in going into the family business. She wants to be a filmmaker, not a detective, although admittedly her film club isn't really coming together since her control freak tendencies are driving members away. Amanda's life changes dramatically don't give her any choice and suddenly enroll her in a boarding school for the descendants of well-known detectives - and it's halfway around the world in the United Kingdom. She resists as much as she can when she gets there, but once she and her new friends notice blood droplets and a strange pink substance in weird places she realizes she has to know what's really happening. Is it part of a real mystery or part of an elaborate class project the teachers assign each year? When Amanda's father goes missing and the school cook is found dead with her head stuffed in a bag of sugar, the kids realize that they are right in the middle of a very real mystery. Amanda realizes she's going to have to embrace her family name and discover the truth. Here's the thing, it looks as if Blixus Moriarty is involved, a descendant of Professor James Moriarty, the arch-nemesis of Sherlock Holmes, and he doesn't like kids interfering in his criminal enterprises.

Amanda Lester and the Pink Sugar Conspiracy by Paula Berinstein is easily a new favorite middle grade novel featuring a fantastic mystery for any fan of the genre. I was absolutely hooked by the premise of the story and shortly after I began I realized I couldn't put it down. I would love to study at the school Amanda attends, which in it's own way reminds me of Hogwarts from J.K. Rowling's Harry Potter series in that it's a secret boarding school in the U.K. that teaches very specialized classes. In this case, it focuses on detective work, rather than witchcraft and wizardry. Who wouldn't want to go to a school for the descendants of some of history's greatest detectives, right?

Well, Amanda wouldn't, for one. She has no plans to follow in the footsteps of G. Lestrade - the bumbling Scotland Yard Inspector who sometimes worked with the brilliant Sherlock Holmes - and I don't blame her for not wanting his name hanging over her head for the rest of her career. However, once she begins to get into the swing of things at the school and make some friends, she begins to realize that detective work isn't all that different from film making. Amanda is a great leading character - she's independent, driven, smart, and very capable. That said, she isn't without flaws, for example, she's a bit of a control freak and she can sometimes jump into things without thinking them through. However, she is able to recognize her flaws and try to do better, and it was a pleasure watching her character grow over the course of the story.

The rest of the cast of characters, including Ivy, Nigel, Amphora, Simon, and Nick, plus school professors, are all as well-written as Amanda. While I enjoyed getting to know her friends, but I believe Ivy was my favorite of the group, as she manages to steal all of her scenes. I loved the fact that she doesn't let her disability, blindness, dictate what she can and can't do - and Nigel is just the best guide dog there is. Nick is also an intriguing character, and I loved seeing what he becomes. There's also the barest hint of a possible romance between him and Amanda, but the story doesn't focus on it. They're all too busy trying to work out the developing mystery to have the time to think about that sort of thing.

Now, the mystery is top-notch and I enjoyed working it out with Amanda and the rest. I won't say much more about it to avoid spoilers, but I was certainly hooked when it came to figuring out the meaning of the title and the bigger picture for the story. This book also has some great twists and turns, some of which I had predicted, but the execution is very well done. I liked discovering the truth alongside Amanda.

Overall, I can't recommend Amanda Lester and the Pink Sugar Conspiracy by Paula Berinstein enough. If you're a fan of Sherlock Holmes, Harry Potter, and Middle Grade mysteries, you will absolutely love this brand new series. I can't wait to read Amanda Lester and the Orange Crystal Crisis (Amanda Lester, Detective #2)!

By the way, I was totally picturing Blixus Moriarty like this:



I read this ebook from May 1 - 15, 2016 and my review is also on Goodreads.

Thursday, May 19, 2016

The Friday 56 (With Book Beginnings): Future Shock (Future Shock #1) by Elizabeth Briggs


Welcome to The Friday 56, a weekly meme hosted by Freda's Voice.

These are the rules:
1. Grab a book, any book.
2. Turn to page 56, or 56% on your eReader.
3. Find any sentence (or a few, just don't spoil it) that grabs you.
4. Post it.
5. Add the URL to your post in the link on Freda's most recent Friday 56 post.


I'm also taking part in Book Beginnings, a weekly meme hosted by Rose City Reader.  The rules are pretty simple - you share the first sentence or so and your initial thoughts, impressions, or whatever else it inspires.  Don't forget to link up your post's url with Rose City Reader.



This week I'm spotlighting one of my current reads, Future Shock (Future Shock #1) by Elizabeth Briggs.  This book was released this April 1st and I listed it as one of most anticipated YA debuts of 2016.  All I needed to know to put this book on my tbr in the first place is that it features time travel!

  
Beginning:

WEDNESDAY

I can already tell this is one of those moments I'll later wish I could forget,  But like everything else, it will stay burned into my memory forever.

56:

"Finding everything okay?" she asks.

"Yeah, I'd like to buy five of the SG17 flexis."

She moves to the front counter and pulls out five tiny boxes.  "That'll be $980."

I pull the wallet Aether Corp provided out of my backpack and count out the money.  There's $1,000 in there, so I have just enough to cover it.  I try to give it to the cashier, but she looks at my hand like I'm offering her a live snake.

"I'm sorry.  We don't take cash here."  She sounds horrified.  She glances at the salesman I talked to earlier, as though looking for help.

He walks over and smiles at me.  "Is there a problem?"

Redemption by Elora Mitchell - Review


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Agent 093762 is moving up in the ranks in a world torn apart by war. Things are going well until a mission goes south and she's left for dead in an explosion. She quickly realizes that her partner was actually assigned to take her out and make it look like an enemy attack. Now, she finds herself on the run beyond the city, but hope isn't lost. She meets Logan, a man fighting his own demons and together they will try to accept their past actions and look toward the future for redemption.

Redemption by Elora Mitchell is brutal and quite abrupt, but I was hooked every step of the way. It's a YA dystopian, but rather than dealing with revolution and regime changes it focuses on a girl who is running from her past as a part of that regime as an interrogator (read: torturer). Our main character's entire world has been has been torn apart and she has to rebuild her entire life - physically, mentally, and emotionally - on her path to redemption. Overall, I highly recommend this novel to fans of the genre. I'm certainly looking forward to more from Elora Mitchell and I wouldn't say no to more from the world of Redemption either.


I read this ebook from April 21 - 22, 2016 and my review is also available on Goodreads.

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

Glass Sword (Red Queen #2) by Victoria Aveyard - Review


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Chased by the new king, a power-hungry and psychotic Maven, Mare sets out to find other Newbloods, plus recruit fellow Reds and Silvers not happy with the status quo, in order to build an army with enough strength to take out their oppressors. As Mare continues down this path, she is at risk of turning into the same kind of monster that she's willing to defeat. She will either shatter like a glass sword under the weight of her mission, or she will find that she has hardened her heart to the treachery and betrayal she has encountered first hand.

I wanted to like Glass Sword by Victoria Aveyard more than I did. Although, I wasn't completely impressed by Red Queen, the first installment in the series, I enjoyed it well enough. I couldn't resist the X-Men and The Hunger Games similarities. While Glass Sword retained some of the elements of both, more so of the X-Men in this case, it just didn't quite have what I liked about Red Queen.

My favorites parts about this novel are the action scenes - Aveyard certainly has the ability to write these expertly. Otherwise, I had three main issues with this novel - pacing, Mare, and Maven. First, pacing seemed to be all over the place - from breakneck action at the beginning, a boring and slow middle, to back to breakneck at the end. I didn't need to be with the characters every step of the way, a good deal of the middle could have been trimmed down and I don't believe the story really would have suffered. Also on that note, the novel seemed to be trying to do too much, as well. It got confusing trying to keep track of all of the new places and faces that were being introduced every other chapter. Of all of the new characters, the most fascinating is Jon, a powerful eye they come into contact with - I would like to know so much more about Jon and his abilities.

Second, Mare herself was another problem the more I read into the story. I liked her quite a bit in Red Queen, but here I didn't very much at all. She becomes quite unlikable in her quest to defeat the enemy. That brings me to the my third issue, Maven. The new king is talked about pretty much non-stop throughout the book, but we barely get to see him. Out of four hundred and forty pages, we only actually get to see him for around seven or eight pages of those pages, if that.

Personally, I was just hoping for this between Mare:


and Maven:


Overall, I found myself disappointed by Glass Sword, Victoria Aveyard's follow up to Red Queen. If you are a big fan of the first book in this series, you'll probably want to carry on with this novel, but you shouldn't hold your breath - unless you're just in it for the action-y stuff because there's plenty of that, just sit back and enjoy the explosions with a bowl of popcorn.


I read this book from May 12 - 16, 2016 and my review is also on Goodreads.

Top Ten Tuesday: Books I Read On A Whim


Happy Tuesday everyone and welcome back to Top Ten Tuesday, a weekly meme hosted by The Broke and the Bookish.  The topic this week is Books I Picked Up On A Whim, but I've narrowed it down to books I've read on a whim.  Here we go, in order of date read beginning with the most recent:


Last Rites by Perry Michael Smith (March 19 - April 27, 2016) -  I found this novel at an antique show - how could I pass by a book with a cover like that?


Unstoppable by Bill Nye (February 8 - 9, 2016) - I had no idea that Bill Nye was coming out with a new book until it showed up at the library - a great new non-fiction title.  I rarely read science books, but this one is worth it.


Blur by Steven James (November 8 - 11, 2015) - A coworker had great things to say about this author and this novel - I picked it up knowing very little about it was pleasantly surprised by how much I, too, enjoyed it.


Legacy of Kings by Eleanor Herman (October 1 -5, 2015) - Randomly stumbled upon this great historical epic fantasy novel at the library - super excited for the sequel, Empire of Dust!



The Accident Season by Moira Fowley-Doyle (September 10, 2015) - I just happened to see this pass by the desk at the library shortly after its release and I knew I had to get my hands on it.  I didn't know much about it, but it was such a pleasant surprise!


The Quantum Thief by Hannu Rajaniemi (July 8 - 12, 2015) - I found this paperback on the bargain shelf at a local book store.  I hadn't heard of it before I purchased it, but the cover and the blurb sold me right there (and the fact that it was deeply discounted).


The Hope We Seek by Rich Sharpero (May 14 - 15, 2015) - This came across my desk at the library and I needed to look into it.  I only read sixty pages into it, but I felt incredibly confused like I missed some key point.


Mr. Churchill's Secretary by Susan Elia MacNeal  (April 26 - 27, 2015) - I picked this up as a part of a library reading challenge.  I had hopes that it would be something like The Bletchley Circle and Agent Carter, and while good in its own right it just didn't quite have what made those shows so fascinating.  Someday I may continue the series.


The Girl from Felony Bay by J.E. Thompson (January 28 - 29, 2015) - I lucked out when I found this amazing middle grade mystery novel at a thrift shop.  The blurb sounded excellent, but what really drew me to it was the cover art by Brett Helquist, the illustrator behind Lemony Snicket's A Series of Unfortunate Events.


Chew, Volume 1: Taster's Choice by John Layman and Rob Guillory (November 23 - 24, 2014) - I happened to stumble upon this graphic novel through the library and it has quickly become a favorite series!


What do you think of my list this week?  What books have you bought or read on a whim, and were any of them pleasant surprises or those new favorites?  As always thanks for visiting my blog and I will try to respond to all comments!