Sunday, April 20, 2014

Stacking the YA Shelves (April 20, 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.

Here is what I added to my stack over the last two weeks.
Skulk by Rosie Best was a Kindle Daily deal. It sounded like an interesting urban fantasy novel.

Doppelganger by Pete Hautman and Mary Logue is the third book in the Bloodwater Mystery series. I bought all three after hearing Mary Logue speak recently. This is the only one that arrived so far.
Stolen Songbird by Daniellle L. Jensen was chosen for my Kindle after I saw it reviewed on someone's blog. It looked like something I would enjoy.

The Thing About Luck by Cynthia Kadohata was a Kindle Daily Deal this week.

Despite trying not to add Review books to my stack, I couldn't resist signing up to win a copy of The Falconer by Elizabeth May at LibraryThing half hoping I wouldn't win. However, I did and that May 6 release arrived this week too.
What did you add to your stack this week?

Saturday, April 19, 2014

ARC Review: Project Paper Doll: The Hunt by Stacey Kade

Project Paper Doll: The Hunt
Author: Stacey Kade
Series: Project Paper Doll (Book 2)
Publication: Disney Hyperion (April 22, 2014)

Description: Ariane Tucker has finally escaped GTX, the research facility that created her. While on the run, Zane Bradshaw is the only person she can trust. He knows who—and what—she is and still wants to be part of her life. But accepting Zane's help means putting him in danger. Dr. Jacobs, head of GTX, is not the only one hunting for Ariane. Two rival corporations have their sights set on taking down their competition. Permanently. To protect Zane and herself, Ariane needs allies. She needs the other hybrids. The hybrids who are way more alien and a lot less human. Can Ariane win them over before they turn on her? Or will she be forced to choose sides, to decide who lives and who dies?

My Thoughts: THE HUNT begins immediately after THE RULES. If, like me, it has been a while since you have read the first book, you might be a little lost for the first couple of pages. Ariane has escaped from GTX and Zane is with her. They have just picked up an emergency bag containing money, ID and other essentials left for her by her "father" Mark Tucker. They are on the run but really don't know where to go. Also, Ariane is concerned that letting Zane go with her only puts him in more danger than he would be in if he left her. They decide to find Zane's mother who had left the family.

Getting to Zane's mother created more problems than it solves. Ariane knows her as the one technician who was at least marginally good to her when she being experimented on in the GTX labs. New she is working with a competitor with GTX trying to socialize the three alien-human hybrids in that lab.

There are three labs and three men trying to develop the super soldier who will win some upcoming trials - Jacobs of GTX, Laughlin of Laughlin Integrated Enterprises, and Emerson St. John of Emerson Technology, Incorporated. This story concentrates on Ariane trying to get to the hybrids in Laughlin's lab and convincing them to team up to sabotage the trials and gain themselves some freedom.

This story was emotionally intense because Zane and Ariane are falling in love but both have insecurities that create misunderstandings. Neither has ever been number one in anyone's life. Ariane, raised in a lab and by a "father" who was caring for her so that his real daughter could get some medical treatment, has never been loved or formed any relationships. Zane is the disregarded second son who can never meet his father's unrealistic expectations and whose mother abandons him. Ariane's trying to ditch Zane for his own safety just looks like another case of abandonment to him.

This was an exciting and entertaining middle book in a trilogy. I can't wait to read the next one to find out how it all works out.

Favorite Quote:
He loved me. The mix of exhilaration and adrenaline was like carbonated bubble in my bloodstream, a physical representation of joy. This is what joy feels like. No wonder people lived and died for this feeling.
I got this eARC from NetGalley. You can buy your copy here.

Friday, April 18, 2014

Friday Memes: Project Paper Doll: The Hunt by Stacey Kade

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.

This week I am spotlighting Project Paper Doll: The Hunt by Stacey Kade. I got this eARC from NetGalley. This is the sequel to The Rules which I read and reviewed earlier. This sequel will be released on April 22.

Here is the description:
Ariane Tucker has finally escaped GTX, the research facility that created her. While on the run, Zane Bradshaw is the only person she can trust. He knows who-and what-she is and still wants to be part of her life.

But accepting Zane's help means putting him in danger.

Dr. Jacobs, head of GTX, is not the only one hunting for Ariane. Two rival corporations have their sights set on taking down their competition. Permanently.

To protect Zane and herself, Ariane needs allies. She needs the other hybrids. The hybrids who are way more alien and a lot less human. Can Ariane win them over before they turn on her? Or will she be forced to choose sides, to decide who lives and who dies?
Beginning:
Until I crawled beneath the designated dumpster behind the abandoned Linens-N-Things and felt the brush of rough canvas against my fingertips, I really wasn't sure the emergency bag would be there, as my father had promised. 
Friday 56:
So now, as if the possibility of death in a formal competitive setting weren't enough, I apparently had to worry about plain old murder. That was new.

Thursday, April 17, 2014

ARC Review: The Islands of Chaldea by Diana Wynne Jones & Ursula Jones

The Islands of Chaldea
Authors: Diana Wynne Jones, Ursula Jones
Publication: Greenwillow Books (April 22, 2014)

Description: The Islands of Chaldea is a new novel of magic and adventure by the renowned fantasy author Diana Wynne Jones, who left behind many acclaimed and beloved books upon her death in 2011, including the internationally bestselling Howl's Moving Castle and the Chrestomanci books. The Islands of Chaldea was completed by Diana Wynne Jones's sister Ursula Jones, an acclaimed novelist and actress.

Aileen comes from a long line of magic makers, and her Aunt Beck is the most powerful magician on Skarr. But even though she is old enough, Aileen's magic has yet to reveal itself. When Aileen is sent over the sea on a mission for the King, she worries that she'll be useless and in the way. A powerful (but mostly invisible) cat changes all of that—and with every obstacle Aileen faces, she becomes stronger and more confident and her magic blooms. This stand-alone novel is a perfect introduction to the novels of the beloved Diana Wynne Jones.

My Thoughts: THE ISLANDS OF CHALDEA is a fun, middle grade novel filled with a magic, adventure, and even some romance. Aileen is supposed to have magic. After all, all the women in her family did and her Aunt Beck is a particularly powerful magician. But Aileen's magic isn't showing itself. Her initiation seems to have been a failure.

Aileen is sent on a mission along with her Aunt Beck, the King's second son Ivar, his servant Ogo of Logra to find a way to break the spell which has raised a barrier between the island of Logra and the other islands of Chaldea - Skarr, Bernica and Gallis. The High King's son Alasdair and his hunting party which included Aileen's father was kidnapped to Logra just before the barrier was raised. But there is a prophecy that says a Wise Woman accompanied by a man from each of the islands will be able to break the spell.

The islands also have four guardian beasts. Skarr's is the beast of the North who shows himself as a cat. Bernica's is a parrot. Gallis' is a red dragon. Logra's is a bull with wings. As it happens, as the group travels from island to island they meet men who choose to come along each with a guardian beast. Skarr's beast shows itself to Aileen when the group is almost stranded on a deserted island and comes along for the trip. Sometimes it is invisible and sometimes it can be seen.

Our travelers have lots of adventures on the trip as they have to deal with sabotaged luggage, indifferent priests, and evil magicians on their way to Logra. Aileen discovers that she does have magic along the way when it is necessary for her to take over from her aunt after the aunt has a spell cast on her.

I liked Aileen who grew in confidence as she made the journey. I thought it was interesting that she had decided to marry Ivar someday despite the fact that he was spoiled, arrogant, cowardly, and not very bright and that she kept overlooking all of Ogo's many virtues.

This was a great middle grade story for magic lovers.

Favorite Quote:
I was glad the dress looked good, but what was going on with this voyage? We had been given contaminated clothes and poisonous medicine and a Captain who would happily have left us stranded on that island. But surely Kenig and Mavenne didn't want to lose their own son. Did they? But Donal  would love to be rid of his brother, I thought. He had never liked Ivar. And Donal had definitely been plotting something, back on Skarr.
I got this eARC from Edelweiss for review. You can buy your copy here.

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Teaser Tuesday: The Islands of Chaldea by Diana Wynne Jones

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:
"As you know,: he said to us—all of us, though I think he spoke chiefly to my aunt—"ten years ago the magicians of Logra cast a spell on our islands of Chaldea so that no one from here, however hard they try, can get to Logra." He nodded to the Priest, who was so grimly eager to speak that he was sidling in his seat.
This week my teaser comes from the eARC of The Islands of Chaldea by Diana Wynne Jones. She left this standalone, fantasy manuscript incomplete at her death in 2011 and the story was finished by her sister Ursula Jones. Here is the description of this April 22 release:
Aileen comes from a long line of magic makers, and her Aunt Beck is the most powerful magician on Skarr. But even though she is old enough, Aileen's magic has yet to reveal itself. When Aileen is sent over the sea on a mission for the King, she worries that she'll be useless and in the way. A powerful (but mostly invisible) cat changes all of that—and with every obstacle Aileen faces, she becomes stronger and more confident and her magic blooms. This stand-alone novel is a perfect introduction to the novels of the beloved Diana Wynne Jones. 

Monday, April 14, 2014

Spotlight on Books 2014

I've just returned from the annual Spotlight on Books Conference held at the lovely Sugar Lake Resort near Grand Rapids, Minnesota. I am overstuffed with ideas, memories and the delicious foods served at the conference.

My conference began on Friday afternoon when Laura Givens spoke about the new Star of the North children's choice award. She was the main instigator for this new award and serves as Chairman of the committee for it. The winner's of this year's award will be announced later this month as will the nominee's for next year's award. I am eager to have my students participate by reading this books and voting for their choices.

Laura also spoke briefly about using Twitter for her PLN which was of interest for me as the only media specialist in my district. I am constantly looking for ways to connect with other people who have the same sort of job I do.

Friday evening we had lightning rounds where various speakers had 7 minutes to tell us about a program, activity, or useful tip. We learned about a paranormal investigation at an area library because some people feel it is haunted. We learned about using Storybird to have students write books. We learned about Project Read which puts books in the hands of children who might not otherwise have books to read. We learned a way to extend the life of paperback books in our media centers. And many more things too!

Saturday morning was the time for local authors to introduce their books. Then the featured authors all had time to speak.

This year's featured authors were Mary Logue who first picture book - Sleep Like a Tiger - won a Caldecott Honor for the illustrator. Mary also writes young adult and middle grade books but is mostly known for her Claire Watkins adult mysteries set near the Mississippi River in SE Minnesota and neighboring Wisconsin.

I bought Killer Librarian for my Kindle. I also have the first couple of Claire Watkins books on my Kindle.

I bought the three mysteries she wrote with her partner Pete Hautman - Snatched, Skullduggery, and Doppelganger to read myself and then donate to my elementary media center.

Michael Hall shared his amazing picture books with us and told us how his past experiences in science and as a graphic designer led him to this career. His books are filled with bright colors and clever shapes and tell amazing stories.



He read us his latest release - It's an Orange Aardvark - which will be available on April 22 and also shared the story of a red crayon which will be his next book.

We finished the afternoon by hearing Will Alexander talk about his books. Will won a National Book Award for his debut novel Goblin Secrets. He told us how his first career as an actor led to his current career as a writer. He talked about how his desire to live in a story led him to acting and to writing.
All in all, it was an amazing conference and I can't wait to attend next year. 

Saturday, April 12, 2014

ARC Review: The Forever Song by Julie Kagawa

The Forever Song
Author: Julie Kagawa
Series: Blood of Eden (Book 3)
Publication: Harlequin Teen (April 15, 2014)

Description: VENGEANCE WILL BE HERS

Allison Sekemoto once struggled with the question: human or monster?

With the death of her love, Zeke, she has her answer.

MONSTER

Allie will embrace her cold vampire side to hunt down and end Sarren, the psychopathic vampire who murdered Zeke. But the trail is bloody and long, and Sarren has left many surprises for Allie and her companions—her creator, Kanin, and her blood brother, Jackal. The trail is leading straight to the one place they must protect at any cost—the last vampire-free zone on Earth, Eden. And Sarren has one final, brutal shock in store for Allie.

In a ruined world where no life is sacred and former allies can turn on you in one heartbeat, Allie will face her darkest days. And if she succeeds, triumph is short-lived in the face of surviving forever alone.

My Thoughts: THE FOREVER SONG brings the Blood of Eden trilogy to a satisfying close. Allie, Jackal, and Kanin are trying to catch up with Sarren before he unleashes a virus that will destroy all life on Earth. Sarren has chosen to unleash his virus on Eden, a human enclave where scientists are working to cure the Rabids.

The story begins will Allie embracing her vampire self and turning into a complete monster. It is her way of dealing with the grief of losing her human love Zeke. Her mentor Kanin always told her that she could choose whether or not to be a monster. But her grief caused her to wonder why she clung to her humanity.

The story is a long journey as they chase after Sarren. They have to battle groups of Rabids and the murderous minions of the vampire king of Old Chicago. The story is filled with fight scene after fight scene. Allie also has to battle her own Hunger for blood. Jackal is always there as a voice tempting Allie to choose her monster side. I liked the relationship between Allie and Jackal who was a character who really grew on me as this story progressed.

The whole trilogy provides a new look at vampires. It also provides a different take on dystopian fiction. I really enjoyed the whole trilogy.

Favorite Quote:
Time was running out, Kanin had said. In a way, I supposed it was true. What Sarren had, what he carried, could spell the end for a lot of people. Maybe the whole world. 
I got this eARC from NetGalley. You can buy your copy here.