Friday, August 1, 2014

#SummerThrowdown - How My July Went

July is Summer Throwdown month. A bunch of teachers and librarians set goals for how much they will read. I always keep track and thought this would be an easy challenge to join. I set a goal of 20 books because I knew I was going to be doing some traveling and didn't know what I could accomplish. I met my goal of 20 books on July 18.

I try to mix up my reading. This list contains adult and young adult books, books from my TBR mountain, books I just bought, ARCs and eARCs. Here is the list of the books I read:
#AuthorTitlePagesDate FinishedSource
1Kornetsky, L. A. Collared2917/1/2014TBR
2Barnhill, KellyIron Hearted Violet4247/2/2014TBR
3Castillo, LindaPray for Silence3047/3/2014TBR
4Brennan, Sarah ReesUntold3677/3/2014TBR
5Armstrong, KelleyVisions4487/4/2014Review
6Burton, JaciMelting the Ice3267/5/2014TBR
7Patterson, JamesConfessions of a Murder Suspect (Audio)4007/6/2014Audiobook
8DeHart, RobynFor Her Spy Only1037/7/2014Review
9Bowman, PatrickTorn from Troy (Audio)2007/8/2014Audiobook
10Avery, JoanLove's Justice2717/9/2014Review
11Clark, MarciaGuilt by Association4327/10/2014Review
12Derting, KimberlyThe Essence3417/11/2014TBR
13Charbonneau, JoelleThe Testing3447/12/2014TBR
14Arthur, KeriDarkness Unbound3647/13/2014TBR
15Andrews, IlonaSteel's Edge3887/14/2014TBR
16Gratton, Tessa The Lost Sun3527/15/2014TBR
17Harkness, DeborahThe Book of Life5767/16/2014Review
18Arthur, KeriMemory Zero2447/17/2014Review
19Jordan, SophieHidden2647/17/2014TBR
20Reichs, KathyBones Never Lie3347/18/2014Review
21Andrews, IlonaBurn for Me3827/19/2014Review
22Schindler, HollyFeral4327/19/2014Review
23Arthur, KeriMercy Burns3207/20/2014TBR
24Foster, LoriNo Limits4327/21/2014Review
25Portes, AndreaAnatomy of a Misfit3367/21/2014Review
26Farnsworth, ChristopherThe President's Vampire3357/22/2014TBR
27Gillies, IsabelStarry Night3277/23/2014Review
28McKinlay, JennBooks Can Be Deceiving2917/24/2014TBR
29Ewing, AmyThe Jewel3687/24/2014Review
30Spencer, WenEight Million Gods3557/25/2014TBR
31Wilson, Rachel M.Don't Touch4327/26/2014Review
32Spencer, WenWood Sprites4967/27/2014Review
33Ayres, D. D.Irresistible Force3207/28/2014Review
34Hensley, JoyRites of Passage4169/28/2014Review
35Andrews, IlonaMagic Breaks4007/29/2014TBR
36Reus, KatieBound to Danger3527/30/2014Review
37Mead, RichelleSilver Shadows3807/31/2014TBR
Young adult books are highlighted. These total 13,147 pages. I feel very satisfied with this month's reading. There were lots of really good books on my stack.

Did you meet your goals for July?

Friday Memes: Mortal Danger by Ann Aguirre

Happy Friday everybody!!
Book Beginnings on Friday is now hosted by Rose City Reader. The Friday 56 is hosted at Freda's Voice. Check out the links above for the rules and for the posts of the participants each week. Don’t dig for your favorite book, the coolest, the most intellectual. Use the CLOSEST.


The week I am spotlighting Mortal Danger by Ann Aguirre. I got this ARC from Macmillan. I chose it because I enjoyed her post-apocalyptic/dystopian trilogy. Here is the description of the Aug. 5 release.
Revenge is a dish best served cold.

In Ann Aguirre's Mortal Danger, Edie Kramer has a score to settle with the beautiful people at Blackbriar Academy. Their cruelty drove her to the brink of despair, and four months ago, she couldn’t imagine being strong enough to face her senior year. But thanks to a Faustian compact with the enigmatic Kian, she has the power to make the bullies pay. She’s not supposed to think about Kian once the deal is done, but devastating pain burns behind his unearthly beauty, and he’s impossible to forget.

In one short summer, her entire life changes and she sweeps through Blackbriar, prepped to take the beautiful people down from the inside. A whisper here, a look there, and suddenly . . . bad things are happening. It’s a head rush, seeing her tormentors get what they deserve, but things that seem too good to be true usually are, and soon, the pranks and payback turns from delicious to deadly. Edie is alone in a world teeming with secrets and fiends lurking in the shadows. In this murky morass of devil’s bargains, she isn’t sure who—or what—she can trust. Not even her own mind.
Beginning:
I was supposed to die at 5:57 a.m.
Friday 56:
Vi and I ate a quick meal at the food court, and then I kept my promise to locate the nearest bookstore. In the stacks, I browsed for an hour, but I only bought one book: The Intelligent Negotiator: What to Say, What to Do, How to Get What You Want&Mdash;Every Time. 

Thursday, July 31, 2014

ARC Review: Frostborn by Lou Anders

Frostborn
Author: Lou Anders
Series: Thrones and Bones (Book 1)
Publication: Crown Books for Young Readers (August 5, 2014)

Description: Fantasy fans of Rick Riordan’s Percy Jackson and John Flanagan’s Ranger’s Apprentice series will embrace this first novel in an adventure-filled, Viking-inspired series by a debut author.

Meet Karn. He is destined to take over the family farm in Norrøngard. His only problem? He’d rather be playing the board game Thrones and Bones.

Enter Thianna. Half human, half frost giantess. She’s too tall to blend in with other humans but too short to be taken seriously as a giant.

When family intrigues force Karn and Thianna to flee into the wilderness, they have to keep their sense of humor and their wits about them. But survival can be challenging when you’re being chased by a 1,500-year-old dragon, Helltoppr the undead warrior and his undead minions, an evil uncle, wyverns, and an assortment of trolls and giants.

Readers will embark on a sweeping epic fantasy as they join Karn and Thianna on a voyage of discovery.

Antics and hair-raising escapades abound in this fantasy adventure as the two forge a friendship and journey to unknown territory. Their plan: to save their families from harm.

Debut novelist Lou Anders has created a rich world of over twenty-five countries inhabited by Karn, Thianna, and an array of fantastical creatures, as well as the Thrones and Bones board game.

My Thoughts: FROSTBORN was a great middle grade adventure novel that mines Viking culture for its background. Karn Karlundsson is a twelve-year-old farmboy who is heir to his father's large farm. Karn, however, is more interested in playing the board game Thrones and Bones and dreaming about far off places. He meets Thianna who is half frost giant and half human when his father meets the frost giants to trade. Thianna wants to think of herself as only a frost giant and not have anything to do with the humans she thinks are small and weak.

The two kids do become friends which is a good thing because both of them have enemies who wish them harm. Thianna is constantly bullied by Thrudgelmir who doesn't think that she should be considered a giant. Karn's enemy is more subtle. His Uncle Ori is jealous that Karn will be inheriting the prosperous farm despite the fact that he and Karn's father are twins.

Thianna also has another enemy. A soldier named Sydia is searching for Thianna's mother and the object that she stole when she ran away. Thianna has the object but doesn't know what it is. She only knows that it was her mother's and she doesn't want to give it to Sydia.

Thianna goes on the run when Sydia threatens her family; Karn goes on the run when his uncle tricks him into battling Helltopper. When his father steps in and is turned to stone, Ori convinces Karn that he will be accused of killing his father. The two kids run separately but do find each other and each helps the other survive all sorts of dangerous situations. Both kids use the strengths they have and develop new ones as they travel. I really liked their battle with Orm who is an especially large dragon who guards an abandoned city because they had to rely on their brains to find a solution.

Fans of adventure will enjoy this story.

Favorite Quote:
"Sydia, her two lackeys, three draug, Thrudgelmir," Karn ticked them off on his fingers. "That's a lot of enemies between us."
I got this eARC from NetGalley. You can buy your copy here.

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Book Review: Steel by Carrie Vaughn

Steel
Author: Carrie Vaughn
Publication: HarperTeen (March 15, 2011)

Description: It was a slender length of rusted steel, tapered to a point at one end and jagged at the other, as if it had broken. A thousand people would step over it and think it trash, but not her.

This was the tip of a rapier.

Sixteen-year-old Jill has fought in dozens of fencing tournaments, but she has never held a sharpened blade. When she finds a corroded sword piece on a Caribbean beach, she is instantly intrigued and pockets it as her own personal treasure.

The broken tip holds secrets, though, and it transports Jill through time to the deck of a pirate ship. Stranded in the past and surrounded by strangers, she is forced to sign on as crew. But a pirate's life is bloody and brief, and as Jill learns about the dark magic that brought her there, she forms a desperate scheme to get home—one that risks everything in a duel to the death with a villainous pirate captain.

Time travel, swordplay, and romance combine in an original high-seas adventure from New York Times bestseller Carrie Vaughn.

My Thoughts: STEEL was a fun romp with pirates, swordplay, time travel and a hint of romance. Jill is disappointed with herself for finishing fourth in the fencing tournament that would have taken her to nationals had she been able to finish in the top three. Her parents plan a Caribbean vacation and, while the rest of the family is having fun, Jill is brooding.  She goes for a walk along the beach and find the tip of a rapier which she picks up and puts in her pocket.

The next day the family goes on a tour boat around the island. A sudden squall tips Jill overboard and when she get to the surface she has shifted time and is in the water after a pirate attack. She is rescued by one of the pirate ships and is given the choice of joining the crew or being put back overboard. She chooses joining the crew and is surprised to find out the captain really wants that piece of rapier that Jill has. The piece will lead her to the rest of the rapier which is in the hands of a fearsome pirate that is the bitter rival of Jill's captain.

A lot of time is spent talking about pirate life in the 1700s and Jill swabs a lot of decks as she learns to fit in with the crew. She meets another crew member named Henry who teaches her to use a rapier and fight the way pirates do.

All along, Jill is trying to find a way to get back home. She wonders if her captain's rival knows the way since he has the bigger part of the sword. The pirates have a few battles, visit some islands, and hunt for the dread Edmund Blane.

This was a fun story for fans of fencing and/or pirates.

Favorite Quote:
Jill slept lightly and with dreams of falling, of being underwater and not being able to swim. She was a good swimmer; nothing should have been able to keep her from the surface. But something was holding her down, anchoring her. And she thrashed awake; the dreaming sense of vertigo didn't go away. She was still on a ship surrounded by strangers, uncertain of the place and time. She'd never felt so helpless.

I bought this one on March 15, 2011. You can buy your copy here.

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Teaser Tuesday: Frostborn by Lou Anders

Teaser Tuesdays is a weekly bookish meme, hosted by MizB of Should Be Reading. Anyone can play along! Just do the following:
  • Open to a random page
  • Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page
  • BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!)
Share the title and author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers!

Teaser:
She was armed only with her determination. But she carried something else.

It was that something else they were after. It couldn't do her much good here, but back home it could change her world. For good or for ill. Mostly for ill, which was why she had taken it, and why they had followed her.
This week my teaser comes from Frostborn by Lou Anders. Anders is a debut author and this book begins a series. I got this eARC from NetGalley. Here is the description of this August 5 release.
Fantasy fans of Rick Riordan’s Percy Jackson and John Flanagan’s Ranger’s Apprentice series will embrace this first novel in an adventure-filled, Viking-inspired series by a debut author.

Meet Karn. He is destined to take over the family farm in Norrøngard. His only problem? He’d rather be playing the board game Thrones and Bones.

Enter Thianna. Half human, half frost giantess. She’s too tall to blend in with other humans but too short to be taken seriously as a giant.

When family intrigues force Karn and Thianna to flee into the wilderness, they have to keep their sense of humor and their wits about them. But survival can be challenging when you’re being chased by a 1,500-year-old dragon, Helltoppr the undead warrior and his undead minions, an evil uncle, wyverns, and an assortment of trolls and giants.

Readers will embark on a sweeping epic fantasy as they join Karn and Thianna on a voyage of discovery.

Antics and hair-raising escapades abound in this fantasy adventure as the two forge a friendship and journey to unknown territory. Their plan: to save their families from harm.

Debut novelist Lou Anders has created a rich world of over twenty-five countries inhabited by Karn, Thianna, and an array of fantastical creatures, as well as the Thrones and Bones board game.

Monday, July 28, 2014

State of the Stack (July 28, 2014)

This is my monthly State of the Stack post. It is my way to keep track of my review books and to hopefully reduce the stack that I have waiting for me. I take a look at my review commitments on the last Monday of each month. Please feel free to join in and let me know the state of your stack.

Here is my Review Books Spreadsheet. Yellow highlighted books are ones past their publication date that I still haven't read and reviewed. I use pink highlights for reviews due in even numbered months so that I can see at a glance how many I have for each month. Ideally, this keeps me from over-committing to review books.  


I also do this post because sometimes (frequently) review books sit on my stack for a while before I read and review them. I try to read and review books within two weeks of publication date. Sometimes I can't, though, if too many books are releasing on the same date or if the book arrives too near its publication date and my calendar is already full. 

I am very grateful to the authors and publishers who support my reading habit. 

My Review Pile

September
Wood Sprites by Wen Spencer (Sept. 2)
Rites of Passage by Joy N. Hensley (Sept. 9)
The Magic Thief: Home by Sarah Prineas (Sept. 16)
Get Even by Gretchen McNeil (Sept. 16)
Blackbird by Anna Carey (Sept. 16)
The Vault of the Dreamers by Caragh M. O'Brien (Sept. 16)
Evidence of Things Not Seen by Lindsey Lane (Sept. 16)
Firebug by Lish McBride (Sept. 23)
Tabula Rasa by Kristen Lippert-Martin (Sept. 23)
Adrenaline Crush by Laurie Boyle Crompton (Sept. 23)
Unmade by Sarah Rees Brennan (Sept. 23)
Salt & Storm by Kendall Kulper (Sept. 23)

October 
The Diamond Thief by Sharon Gosling (Oct. 1)
Stray by Elissa Sussman (Oct. 7)
Kiss Kill Vanish by Jessica Martinez (Oct. 7)
Exquisite Captive by Heather Demetrios (Oct. 7)
Rain Reign by Ann M. Martin (Oct. 7)
Thursdays with the Crown by Jessica Day George (Oct. 7)
Snow Like Ashes by Sara Raasch (Oct. 14)
Even in Paradise by Chelsey Philpot (Oct. 14)
Clariel by Garth Nix (Oct. 14)
Beware the Wild by Natalie C. Parker (Oct. 21)
Centaur Rising by Jane Yolen (Oct. 21)
Get Happy by Mary Amato (Oct. 28)

November
Killer Instinct by Jennifer Lynn Barnes (Nov. 4)
The Book of Storms by Ruth (Nov. 11)
On the Edge by Allison Van Diepen (Nov. 25)

I Read This Month

These are listed in the order I read them. Links go to my reviews for all that have been posted already. Otherwise, the date the review is scheduled for is listed.
  1. For All Time by Jude Deveraux
  2. Visions by Kelley Armstrong (Aug. 14)
  3. For Her Spy Only by Robyn DeHart
  4. Love's Justice by Joan Avery
  5. Guilt by Association by Marcia Clark (Aug. 6)
  6. Bones Never Lie by Kathy Reichs (Sept. 18)
  7. Burn for Me by Ilona Andrews (Oct. 23)
  8. Feral by Holly Schindler (Aug. 23)
  9. No Limits by Lori Foster (Sept. 11)
  10. Anatomy of a Misfit by Andrea Portes (Aug. 20)
  11. Starry Night by Isabel Gillies (Aug. 28)
  12. The Jewel by Amy Ewing (Aug. 27)
  13. Don't Touch by Rachel M. Wilson (Aug. 30)
Read Last Month, Reviews Posted This Month
  1. Midnight Thief by Livia Blackburne
  2. Wild by Alex Mallory 
  3. The Kiss of Deception by Mary E. Pearson 
  4. Cast in Flame by Michelle Sagara 
  5. Shipwreck Island by S. A. Bodeen 
  6. Invincible by Diana Palmer 
I Added These Books

These are listed in the order I received them. Links go to Amazon. Date published is listed in parentheses. I have included cover pictures for the ones already read.
  1. For Her Spy Only by Robyn DeHart (July 21)
  2. Love's Justice by Joan Avery (July 21)
  3. Unmade by Sarah Rees Brennan (Sept. 23)
  4. The Book of Life by Deborah Harkness (July 15)
  5. Anatomy of a Misfit by Andrea Portes (Sept. 2)
  6. The Jewel by Amy Ewing (Sept. 2)
Next Month's Plan

I would really, really like to read and schedule the review posts for all of the September releases on my stack before I go back to work on August 25. Once my new school year starts, my reading time diminishes. With the number of books I need to read and review in September and October, I need all the headstart I can get. I have already read and scheduled reviews for five September releases and one October release and it doesn't feel like I've lowered the stack at all.

Sunday, July 27, 2014

Stacking the YA Shelves (July 27, 2014)

Tynga of  Team Tynga's Reviews hosts this meme to spotlight the books we receive each week. I guarantee that your TBR pile will grow when you see all the wonderful books everyone gets.
I downloaded the two YA SYNC audiobooks that were offered. The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde by Robert Louis Stevenson and Headstrong by Patrick Link. I haven't read either of them before. You can still download these two until Thursday here.
I bought Asylum by Madeleine Roux because I will be attending an author event featuring her this fall. Normally, I avoid horror but I wanted something for her to autograph. This may go directly to my high school media center unread. 

I also bought The Strange Maid by Tessa Gratton. I recently read The Lost Sun and wanted to continue the story. 

What did you add to your stacks this week?