Saturday, August 29, 2015

ARC Review: Truest by Jackie Lee Sommers

Truest
Author: Jackie Lea Sommers
Publication: Katherine Tegen Books (September 1, 2015)

Description: A breathtaking debut brings us the unforgettable story of a small-town love, big dreams, and family drama.

Silas Hart has seriously shaken up Westlin Beck's small-town life. Brand-new to town, Silas is different from the guys in Green Lake. He's curious, poetic, philosophical, maddening—and really, really cute. But Silas has a sister—and she has a secret. And West has a boyfriend. And life in Green Lake is about to change forever.

Truest is a stunning, addictive debut. Romantic, fun, tender, and satisfying, it asks as many questions as it answers. Perfect for fans of The Fault in Our Stars and Ten Things We Did (and Probably Shouldn't Have).

My Thoughts: The summer before her senior year brings big changes to Westlin Beck. Her best friend Trudy is off being a camp counselor and her boyfriend Elliot is working full time on the family farm to save up enough money for a car. West is feeling kind of lost and at loose ends.

She tags along when her minister father brings communion to the new family in town. She takes one look at Silas and things start to change. First, her father invites him to join with West in her car detailing business. Then they start hanging out together. Silas in turns intrigues and annoys her but he always fascinates her. But West has a boyfriend, a boy she married under the jungle gym when they were in second grade.

Despite holding on with both hands, West can't stop the changes that are happening to her this summer. Her older friend Gordon is losing his memory. Her father is putting everyone else's needs ahead of the needs of his family. Her friend Whit is drinking more and more.

And then there is Silas's sister Laurel. Silas's twin has severe mental issues. She has Solipsism Syndrome which means that she believes that she is living in a dream. Some days she's all right but other days she has screaming fits. This disease has caused problems for her whole family but it seems especially hard on Silas because he's her twin.

This was an amazing story about falling in love, growing up, and deciding what to believe in. Both West and Silas are readers so there are lots of references to great thinkers and poets. Silas also writes poetry of his own and some of his work is in the book.

This was an excellent, touching story. I can't wait to share it with my students.

Favorite Quote:
Trudy smiled a little sadly. "Green Lake is changing. So are you."

It sounded a tiny alarm in me, especially with her sad smile. I rushed to correct her. "False," I said. "Nothing has changed. Pocket Swanson won't shut up. Jody Perkins drives that lawn mower around like it's a frickin' Porsche. It's all just the same old Green Lake."
I got this ARC from Edelweiss. You can buy your copy here.

Friday, August 28, 2015

Friday Memes: Truest by Jackie Lea Sommers

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 Truest by Jackie Lea Sommers. I got this eARC from Edelweiss for review. Here is the description from Amazon:
A breathtaking debut brings us the unforgettable story of a small-town love, big dreams, and family drama.

Silas Hart has seriously shaken up Westlin Beck's small-town life. Brand-new to town, Silas is different from the guys in Green Lake. He's curious, poetic, philosophical, maddening—and really, really cute. But Silas has a sister—and she has a secret. And West has a boyfriend. And life in Green Lake is about to change forever.

Truest is a stunning, addictive debut. Romantic, fun, tender, and satisfying, it asks as many questions as it answers. Perfect for fans of The Fault in Our Stars and Ten Things We Did (and Probably Shouldn't Have).
Beginning:
The swans on Green Lake looked like tiny icebergs, only it was the first weekend of my summer vacation.
Friday 56:
My voice curved like her shoulders and turned soft and slow, bowed with understanding as the poem allowed for falling in love with someone else's sadness. 

Thursday, August 27, 2015

ARC Review: Bridget Wilder Spy-in-Training by Jonathan Bernstein

Bridget Wilder: Spy-in-Training
Author: Jonathan Bernstein
Series: Bridget Wilder (Book 1)
Publication: Katherine Tegen Books (September 1, 2015)

Description: Middle school meets Mission Impossible in this hilarious spy series for fans of Chris Rylander, Stuart Gibbs, and Ally Carter about a girl whose life is turned upside down when she discovers her father is a superspy.

Up until Bridget’s birthday the most exciting moment in her life was when Dale Tookey maybe, sort of, smiled at her one time. But that was before—before she found a mysterious present at her doorstep, before she was transported to a covert CIA agency called Section 23, and before she became Bridget Wilder: Spy-in-Training. Now Bridget’s busting boys out of detention, being chauffeured by a talking car, and infiltrating the popular girls’ clique to steal secret codes, all while undercover as a semi-awkward middle school girl. But will she be able to keep up with her new action-packed life?

It is no secret—Bridget Wilder: Spy-in-Training is the start of an explosive new series packed with gadgets, humor, and best of all: girl power.

My Thoughts: Bridget Wilder is the often-overlooked middle child in her family and the invisible girl at her middle school. She has one friend who isn't a very nice person. She is the butt of the joke for Brandon Chew for continually calls her Midget. She is adopted. She is an observer, but not a participant, in her own life. Things come to a head on her thirteenth birthday when no one remembers.

After a disappointing day at school, she finds a shopping bag on her doorstep. She is sure that someone has remembered her birthday but she doesn't know who. The bag contains a new iPhone,  a gift card to Image Unlimited, a yellow tube of smoky pear-flavored lip balm with a stuck top, green tic tacs (her unfavorite candy), dorky glasses which aren't her prescription, and a set of keys. She doesn't find out who sends her the bag.

When she drops in at Image Unlimited her life changes. She is given a black and gold track suit and sneakers that give her super powers. All of a sudden she is strong, athletic and fast. The iPhone rings and she meets Spool who recruits her to the secret Section 23 of the CIA. She learns that her birth father is a Carter Strike, a famous spy. And she is given a mission: track down the would-be double agent at her school.

This story is wish fulfillment at its best. What lonely, unnoticed middle school kid wouldn't like to find out that she is the daughter of a famous secret agent? What middle school kid wouldn't want to do daring deeds and attract the notice of the boy, Dale Tookey, who is her current crush?

The story had lots of action and a really engaging main character. Middle graders will enjoy this beginning to a new series.

Favorite Quote:
"I'm going to write to prisoners. I don't care what you think," said Natalie. "Everyone needs to know there's someone out there who's listening to them."

"Thanks for coming our for my birthday," I said.

Ryan kept laughing at Natalie, who kept arguing with him and Dad. Joanne kept digging for buried kernels. I don't think anyone heard me.
I got this ARC from Edelweiss. You can buy your copy here.

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

ARC Review: The Copper Gauntlet by Holly Black and Cassandra Clare

The Copper Gauntlet
Authors: Holly Black and Cassandra Clare
Series: Magisterium (Book 2)
Publication: Scholastic Press (September 1, 2015)

Description: Callum Hunt’s summer break isn’t like other kids’. His closest companion is a Chaos-ridden wolf, Havoc. His father suspects him of being secretly evil. And, of course, most kids aren’t heading back to the magical world of the Magisterium in the fall.

It’s not easy for Call . . . and it gets even harder after he checks out his basement and discovers that his dad might be trying to destroy both him and Havoc.

Call escapes to the Magisterium -- but things only intensify there. The Alkahest -- a copper gauntlet capable of separating certain magicians from their magic -- has been stolen. And in their search to discover the culprit, Call and his friends Aaron and Tamara awaken the attention of some very dangerous foes -- and get closer to an even more dangerous truth.

As the mysteries of the Magisterium deepen and widen, bestselling authors Holly Black and Cassandra Clare take readers on an extraordinary journey through one boy’s conflict -- and a whole world’s fate.

My Thoughts: In this second episode of the Magisterium series, Call is home for summer vacation and worrying about the revelations of the first book. He is worried that he might be evil and he is even more worried that his father believes that he is evil. After a suspicious episode with his father, he and his chaos wolf Havoc flee to the home of one of his fellow apprentices. There he learns that his friend Aaron is being celebrated for becoming the makar who is a weapon against the villain.

Call knows that the Enemy of Death is not really leading the war against the Magisterium. His second-in-command is in charge and wants to capture Call because he believes that Call is the holder of the Enemy of Death's soul. Call isn't tell either of his friends about this belief because he is afraid they won't be his friends anymore and they're the first friends he's ever had.

Things escalate when the Alkahest - a copper gauntlet - is stolen and Call is almost positive that it is his father who took it. He refuses to believe that his father has united with the Enemy of Death's army but the rest of the Magisterium has decided that he is a traitor. Call, Aaron and Tamara along with tagalong Jasper leave the school to try to find Call's father.

This was an exciting episode in this series. I like the way Call is growing and I like his friendship with Tamara and Aaron. I look forward to reading more adventures for this intrepid young magicians.

Favorite Quote:
The whole being-secretly-evil thing distressed Call, too. A lot. He'd started making a list in his head—any evidence of him being an Evil Overlord went into one column and any evidence against it went into the other. He'd taken to referring to the list before making any and all decisions. Would an Evil Overlord drink the last cup of coffee in the pot? Which book would an Evil Overlord take out of the library? Was dressing in all black an Evil Overlord move, or a legitimate choice on laundry day? The worst part was that he was pretty sure his father was playing the same game, totaling and retotaling Call's Evil Overlord points whenever he looked in Call's direction.
I got this ARC from Amazon Vine. You can buy your copy here.

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Teaser Tuesday: Bridget Wilder Spy-in-Training by Jonathan Bernstein

Teaser Tuesdays is a weekly bookish meme, hosted by MizB of A Daily Rhythm. 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:
I think back to the Christmas three years ago, when Dad was all gloomy and he said times were hard, the economy was in trouble, and we'd have to make sacrifices. And then he woke us up on Christmas Eve and drove us to the airport, where we got on a flight to Hawaii.
This week my teaser comes from Bridget Wilder: Spy-in-Training by Jonathan Bernstein. This middle grade spy adventure begins a new series. Here is the description:
Middle school meets Mission Impossible in this hilarious spy series for fans of Chris Rylander, Stuart Gibbs, and Ally Carter about a girl whose life is turned upside down when she discovers her father is a superspy.

Up until Bridget’s birthday the most exciting moment in her life was when Dale Tookey maybe, sort of, smiled at her one time. But that was before—before she found a mysterious present at her doorstep, before she was transported to a covert CIA agency called Section 23, and before she became Bridget Wilder: Spy-in-Training. Now Bridget’s busting boys out of detention, being chauffeured by a talking car, and infiltrating the popular girls’ clique to steal secret codes, all while undercover as a semi-awkward middle school girl. But will she be able to keep up with her new action-packed life?

It is no secret—Bridget Wilder: Spy-in-Training is the start of an explosive new series packed with gadgets, humor, and best of all: girl power.

Monday, August 24, 2015

It's Monday! What Are You Reading? (August 24, 2015) #IMWAYR


It's Monday, What Are You Reading? is a meme begun by Sheila at Book Journey. Kellee at Unleashing Readers and Jen at Teach Mentor Texts have given it a kidlit focus.

It’s Monday!  What Are You Reading, is where we gather to share what we have read this past week and what we plan to read this week.  It is a great way to network with other bloggers, see some wonderful blogs, and put new titles on your reading list.

Other Than Reading...

This was my last full week of summer vacation. Next week I'll be packing up and moving back to my school year home. That means a day mostly spent driving back home, unpacking, grocery shopping, cleaning, and a dentist's appointment. I do plan to fit in reading around those other activities. I may also try to stop over at school on Friday to see if I can get class lists.

This week was a cold one here in Duluth. I was almost tempted to turn on the furnace on a couple of our chilly mornings. But it did mean good reading time. My brother and I went out to lunch for the last time this summer. We hit Shorty's in Superior, Wisconsin, because it had been featured on Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives. This one was a complete success. We were both happy with our sandwiches and the french fries were the best I've ever had.

Also to get ready for the busier school year, I spent Saturday setting up blog posts for November and early December. I currently have 57 scheduled posts and have set up the review posts for the next sixteen books on my stack. On my stack are some non-review books that I have been eager to read once my review books were caught up.

Read Last Week

Newt's Emerald by Garth Nix was an enjoyable Regency mystery/romance infused with magic. It reminded me of the books by Georgette Heyer but with magic too. My review will be posted on October 10 for this October 13 release.

Dead Investigation by Charlie Price was an entertaining mystery featuring a world weary Deputy and a teenager who can talk to ghosts. My review will be posted on October 14 for this October 20 release.

A Sliver of Stardust by Marissa Burt was an entertaining middle grade fantasy in which two 11-year-olds who are academic rivals are recruited into a magical organization. I liked Wren who was the female lead because she grew and changed during the story. My review will be posted on October 15.

Losers Take All by David Klass has something for everybody. It has sports, humor, and romance and a healthy dose of social commentary too. I liked it very much for its well-rounded characters. My review will be posted on October 17.
These Shallow Graves by Jennifer Donnelly was a historical mystery that spent as much time on the roles of women in 1890 as it did on the mystery. It was an engaging and thought-provoking story. My review will be posted on October 22.

Currently
Cold Burn of Magic by Jennifer Estep is from my TBR mountain. It is an urban fantasy that begins a new series for this author who writes both for adults and young adults.
Next Week

I'm still working away at my review stack. Including these, I have only 12 review books still on my stack and three of those are for my other blog. Of course, I also got the Macmillan email this week about their next catalog and asked for quite a few that are releasing from January through April. But I don't need to count them until they actually arrive, right?
The Anatomical Shape of the Heart by Jenn Bennett is being released on November 3.

Young Widow's Club by Alexandra Coutts is a November 10 release.
The August 5 by Jenna Helland is also being released on November 10.

Finding Fortune by Delia Ray is also a November 10 release.

Reviews Posted

Want to See What I Added to My Stack Last Week?
I added Court of Fives by Kate Elliott because I have heard so many great things about it.

I also added The Girl Who Could Not Dream by Sarah Beth Durst after she sent me an email asking if I would like to read and review it. It will be released on November 3.

You can check Inside of a Dog (my other blog) to see what adult books I read, reviewed, and plan to read.

Saturday, August 22, 2015

ARC Review: Hunter by Mercedes Lackey

Hunter
Author: Mercedes Lackey
Series: Hunter (Book 1)
Publication: Disney-Hyperion (September 1, 2015)

Description: They came after the Diseray. Some were terrors ripped from our collective imaginations, remnants of every mythology across the world. And some were like nothing anyone had ever dreamed up, even in their worst nightmares.

Monsters.

Long ago, the barriers between our world and the Otherworld were ripped open, and it's taken centuries to bring back civilization in the wake of the catastrophe. Now, the luckiest Cits live in enclosed communities,behind walls that keep them safe from the hideous creatures fighting to break through. Others are not so lucky.

To Joyeaux Charmand, who has been a Hunter in her tight-knit mountain community since she was a child, every Cit without magic deserves her protection from dangerous Othersiders. Then she is called to Apex City, where the best Hunters are kept to protect the most important people.

Joy soon realizes that the city's powerful leaders care more about luring Cits into a false sense of security than protecting them. More and more monsters are getting through the barriers,and the close calls are becoming too frequent to ignore. Yet the Cits have no sense of how much danger they're in-to them, Joy and her corp of fellow Hunters are just action stars they watch on TV.

When an act of sabotage against Joy takes an unbearable toll, Joy uncovers a terrifying conspiracy in the city. There is something much worse than the usual monsters infiltrating Apex. And it may be too late to stop them

My Thoughts: This was a very entertaining dystopia with a healthy helping of magic. Joyeaux Charmand is a Hunter. Hunters are the ones who can fight the Othersiders - monsters out of world mythology - by using magic, physical training and weapons and a pack of magical creatures to assist. Joy is called to go to Apex city to join the core of Hunters there who protect the heart of the country and the important Cits.

When she gets to Apex city, she learns that things are not the way she had supposed. She was raised in the Rocky Mountains far from the East Coast and she was trained by Masters at a monastery. That is all secret though. According to her story, she developed her powers only recently - instead of when she was a small child - and has come to the city for training. She didn't expect that the Hunters would each have their own video feeds and that huge numbers of people followed the feeds. She didn't expect to be taking part in a popularity contest.

But Joy is an excellent Hunter which quickly moves her up in the ranking which incites the jealousy of Hunter Ace who has had a long hold on first place. Joy also makes friends with her mentor Karly and another Hunter called the White Knight who is also a Christer, a minority religious sect.

Joy was also called to the city by her uncle who is the Prefect of the Police. The Hunters who are not in the Army are under his command. He warns her that someone may try to use or influence her in order to get to him. He has political enemies. Her uncle has as an assistant a Psimon named James. Psimons can read thoughts and are generally feared and avoided. Nonetheless, James and Joy become friends.

This book was very exciting to read. There were lots of battles with mythological characters. There was also a lot about finding like-minded friends. Joy was an interesting character who battled loneliness but who has a strong sense of duty as a Hunter to protect the Cits who are in danger from the Othersiders.

This is the first book in a series. I'll be haunting Mercedes Lackey's website waiting for news of the additional volumes.

Favorite Quote:
If you don't look after your fellow man, if you think that what you want is always more important that what anyone else wants or needs, you're not human, and that's that. There is no virtue in selfishness, not one bit.
I got this ARC from NetGalley. You can buy your copy here.