Saturday, August 1, 2015

ARC Review: Public Enemies by Ann Aguirre

Public Enemies
Author: Ann Aguirre
Series: The Immortal Game, Book 2
Publication: Feiwel & Friends (August 4, 2015)

Description: Through a Faustian bargain, Edie Kramer has been pulled into the dangerous world of the Immortal Game, where belief makes your nightmares real. Hungry for sport, fears-made-flesh are always raising the stakes. To them, human lives are less than nothing, just pieces on a board.

Because of her boyfriend Kian's sacrifice, she's operating under the mysterious Harbinger's aegis, but his patronage could prove as fatal as the opposition. Raw from deepest loss, she's terrified over the deal Kian made for her. Though her very public enemies keep sending foot soldiers - mercenary monsters committed to her destruction - she's not the one playing under a doom clock. Kian has six months . . . unless Edie can save him. And this is a game she can't bear to lose.

My Thoughts: Edie has been drawn into the Immortal Game. She is grieving for her mother who was killed by Wedderburn and for the coming death of her boyfriend Kian who sacrificed the rest of his life for her safety. Kian made the deal with the Harbinger who is a combination of all the trickster gods.

Edie is being wooed by the mortal secret society who is trying to end the Mortal Game and she is being targeted by many in the game who either want to compel or service or kill her before she gives her service to one of their rivals. Edie is hoping to find a loophole in Kian's agreement with the Harbinger that will let him live past his six month deadline.

When her father, who has been so lost in his grief over his wife's death that he is ignoring Edie and living in his lab, is kidnapped by another player in the game, Edie has to recruit unlikely allies to get him back. But using this magic can change her forever if she isn't careful.

I was fascinated by all the characters from different mythologies who people this series. I will admit that I really liked the Harbinger despite knowing that he couldn't be trusted. I even lived the sadistic killer clown who was assigned by Wedderburn to guard Edie but who was constantly tempted to kill her.

This story is rich in drama and packed with emotions. My heart broke for Edie as she dealt with her father's abandonment of her and her grief knowing that Kian didn't have long to live. I loved the relationship between Kian and Edie. He always saw her and accepted and loved her despite what Edie saw as her many flaws. I loved Edie who is trying so hard to do the right thing and protect the ones she loves.

This was an excellent second book in a series and I can't wait to read the third.

Favorite Quote:
"So you're worth dying for, hm?" He circled me in slow, stalking steps, leaning in to sniff at me as if I possessed some exotic aroma.

"I hope it doesn't come to that," I answered, before I could think better of it.
I got this ARC from Macmillan. You can buy your copy here.

Friday, July 31, 2015

Friday Memes: Public Enemies 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.

This week I am spotlighting Public Enemies by Ann Aguirre. This is the second book in The Immortal Games series. I got this ARC from Macmillan. Here is the description from Amazon:
Through a Faustian bargain, Edie Kramer has been pulled into the dangerous world of the Immortal Game, where belief makes your nightmares real. Hungry for sport, fears-made-flesh are always raising the stakes. To them, human lives are less than nothing, just pieces on a board.

Because of her boyfriend Kian's sacrifice, she's operating under the mysterious Harbinger's aegis, but his patronage could prove as fatal as the opposition. Raw from deepest loss, she's terrified over the deal Kian made for her. Though her very public enemies keep sending foot soldiers - mercenary monsters committed to her destruction - she's not the one playing under a doom clock. Kian has six months . . . unless Edie can save him. And this is a game she can't bear to lose.
Beginning:
Six days before Christmas, two thugs snatched me off the sidewalk and shoved me into a black panel van.
Friday 56:
"We must have a serious chat," the Harbinger said, clamping my arm with steely fingers.

Thursday, July 30, 2015

ARC Review: School for Sidekicks by Kelly McCullough

School for Sidekicks
Author: Kelly McCullough
Publication: Feiwel & Friends (August 4, 2015)

Description: "Evan Quick, Hero's Log, May the 25th… and darn it - I just can't do this. I'm never going to be a Mask. Get over it Evan."

Evan Quick has spent his whole life dreaming of becoming a hero. Every morning he wakes up and runs through a checklist of test to see if he's developed powers over night, and every day it is the same thing - nothing. No flying, no super strength, no heat rays or cold beams. No invulnerability - that always hurt to check - no telepathy, no magic. Not even the ability to light a light bulb without flipping a switch. And now, he's finally ready to give up.

But then, the class field trip to the Mask Museum is interrupted by a super villain attack, and Evan somehow manages to survive a death ray. Even better, Evan's favorite Mask, Captain Commanding, shows up to save them all -- and when things go very wrong, it's Evan who finds the strength to come to Captain Commanding's rescue.

Yet the hero's reception Evan is expecting never happens. Before he even gets the chance to say hello, Evan is bundled away to The Academy, an institution derisively called The School for Sidekicks by its students. Forced to take classes like Banter Basics and Combat with Dinnerware, while being assigned as an 'apprentice' to Foxman - a Mask widely considered a has-been -- Evan starts to worry that he'll never be able to save the day…

My Thoughts: Evan Quick has always wanted to be a superhero. Each morning he tests himself to see if he has developed any super powers. He has studied the Masks and Hoods and he knows more about his hero - Captain Commanding - than almost anyone else. Before a visit to the Captain Commanding amusement park, he has always failed the tests. After, well, that's something else...

A school field trip to the Mask Museum finds Evan caught in a battle between Captain Commanding and his arch-rival Spartanicus. Evan saves the day for his hero but when he wakes up he finds that history has been rewritten so that Captain Commanding was the hero of the day and Evan has been spirited away to a training school for superheroes.

Before Evan can become a mask, he has to be a sidekick. But with Captain Commanding blackballing him, the only mentor who will take him on his Foxman. Foxman was formerly great but has become an alcoholic has-been. As Evan gets to know him, he learns a lot more about the Masks and Hoods and he learns secrets that change his life.

I liked Evan because he was an average kid. He wasn't the most athletic or the smartest but he was determined and honorable. He didn't have a bunch of friends until he got to the school for sidekicks. The friends he does make are all interesting people too. I especially liked his friendship with Burnish who had some really interesting parent problems.

This was an exciting, middle grade fantasy. I liked the setting and the world building. I liked Evan's relationship with his parents and the relationship he builds with Foxman. Young fans of superheroes will enjoy this one.

Favorite Quote:
"Was that sarcasm? Because it sounded like sarcasm to me."

"It was sarcasm."

"Good. I'd hate to think my filters were that far off." He knocked back the rest of his MaskerAde. "You're a very sarcastic kid. Did you know that? Probably good in a sidekick, well, unless you wanted to go for the boyish enthusiasm thing. But that'd probably be bad for a man with my ego, so better to go with sarcastic. Feature, not a bug. I like that."

I got this ARC from Macmillan. You can buy your copy here.

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

ARC Review: Chasing Secrets by Gennifer Choldenko

Chasing Secrets
Author: Gennifer Choldenko
Publication: Wendy Lamb Books (August 4, 2015)

Description: Newbery Honor–winning author Gennifer Choldenko deftly combines humor, tragedy, fascinating historical detail, and a medical mystery in this exuberant new novel.

San Francisco, 1900. The Gilded Age. A fantastic time to be alive for lots of people . . . but not thirteen-year-old Lizzie Kennedy, stuck at Miss Barstow’s snobby school for girls. Lizzie’s secret passion is science, an unsuitable subject for finishing-school girls. Lizzie lives to go on house calls with her physician father. On those visits to his patients, she discovers a hidden dark side of the city—a side that’s full of secrets, rats, and rumors of the plague.

The newspapers, her powerful uncle, and her beloved papa all deny that the plague has reached San Francisco. So why is the heart of the city under quarantine? Why are angry mobs trying to burn Chinatown to the ground? Why is Noah, the Chinese cook’s son, suddenly making Lizzie question everything she has known to be true? Ignoring the rules of race and class, Lizzie and Noah must put the pieces together in a heart-stopping race to save the people they love.

My Thoughts: Lizzie Kennedy loves going with her doctor father on his cases. Her Aunt Hortense is less thrilled and wants Lizzie to do well at the posh school she attends and be more of a lady. But Lizzie loves medicine and science.

San Francisco in 1900 is soon to face an outbreak of bubonic plague. Her uncle who owns a newspaper and other powerful men are vested in keeping the outbreak hidden. It's bad for business and for tourism. Lizzie first gets involved when Jing, the Chinese housekeeper who has taken care of her family since her mother's death, is caught in the quarantine of Chinatown and Lizzie can't get him out. Jing has brought his son to Lizzie's house and hidden him in his room. Lizzie finds out and the two of them become friends when she gets involved in smuggling food to him and keeping him company.

Lizzie's older brother Billy isn't the companion that he used to be. He and her father are at odds about what Billy's future should be. Billy is fighting in order to earn money to buy a car. He isn't much help in trying to get Jing out of Chinatown but Lizzie's new friends Gemma and Gus Trotter do help her.

This story was great historical fiction. It illuminates a period of time and a place that seem very real. The author talks about the prejudice that the Chinese faced in California at that time. Lizzie and Jing's son Noah could never be friends in public without danger to him and social ostracism for her. The book also talks about the state of medicine at the time when many diseases were attributed to "bad air" and the germ theory of disease was only just coming into fashion.

The story was well-written and the characters were well-rounded and engaging. I can't wait to share this story with my middle schoolers this fall.

Favorite Quote:
"Mucus," I tell her. "Did you know your nose produces a flask full of mucus every day?

Gemma makes a face. "A Flask full...Don't tell me you drink it?"

"Actually, I do. Everyone does." I know i should say things like this. Aunt Hortense says I try hard to be peculiar. But she's wrong; I come by it quite naturally.
I got this eARC from NetGalley. You can buy your copy here.

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Teaser Tuesday: School for Sidekicks by Kelly McCullough

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:
This is the part of my story where if I was in a movie they'd run a montage with inspirational theme music playing in the background and a clock on the wall with the numbers and dates blurring away two months.
This week my teaser comes from School for Sidekicks by Kelly McCullough. I got this ARC from Macmillan. Here is the description from Amazon:
"Evan Quick, Hero's Log, May the 25th… and darn it - I just can't do this. I'm never going to be a Mask. Get over it Evan."

Evan Quick has spent his whole life dreaming of becoming a hero. Every morning he wakes up and runs through a checklist of test to see if he's developed powers over night, and every day it is the same thing - nothing. No flying, no super strength, no heat rays or cold beams. No invulnerability - that always hurt to check - no telepathy, no magic. Not even the ability to light a light bulb without flipping a switch. And now, he's finally ready to give up.

But then, the class field trip to the Mask Museum is interrupted by a super villain attack, and Evan somehow manages to survive a death ray. Even better, Evan's favorite Mask, Captain Commanding, shows up to save them all -- and when things go very wrong, it's Evan who finds the strength to come to Captain Commanding's rescue.

Yet the hero's reception Evan is expecting never happens. Before he even gets the chance to say hello, Evan is bundled away to The Academy, an institution derisively called The School for Sidekicks by its students. Forced to take classes like Banter Basics and Combat with Dinnerware, while being assigned as an 'apprentice' to Foxman - a Mask widely considered a has-been -- Evan starts to worry that he'll never be able to save the day…

Monday, July 27, 2015

It's Monday! What Are You Reading? (July 27, 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 another quiet reading week. The heat and humidity have made me glad for our central air conditioning and have made me glad to stay inside and read.

Read Last Week

It will be "all review books, all the time" here for quite a while. I'm trying to get ahead before school starts and I get too busy to read 10 books a week.
Dreamland by Robert L. Anderson was a YA title that tells the story of a girl who can walk through dreams and, by not following her mother's rules, attracts the attention of monsters in the dream world. It was also a romance and was very entertaining. My review will be posted on September 12 for this September 22 release.

The Copper Gauntlet by Holly Black and Cassandra Clare arrived this week from Amazon Vine. This is the second book in a middle grade series and was also very good. I like the characters and it was an action-packed episode in a interesting fantasy series. My review will be posted on August 26 for this September 1 release.
I got The Fall by James Preller from Macmillan. This is an excellent middle grade story that deals with the aftermath of bullying and suicide. Sam writes a journal of the year after which was touching and thought-provoking. My review will be posted on September 16 for this September 22 release.

I was going to pass up Chasing Secrets by Gennifer Choldenko despite being auto-approved at NetGalley until I read a recent review. I was intrigued by this middle grade historical fiction novel that takes place in San Francisco in 1900 when a bubonic plague outbreak is being covered up. Doctor's daughter Lizzie was a great character. My review will be posted on July 29 for this August 4 release.
Walk on Earth a Stranger by Rae Carson was an excellent historical fiction story which was infused with magic. The main character can sense gold which will certainly help her since it is 1849 and she is on her way to California. But first she has to escape the uncle who killed her parents and survive the overland journey to get to California. My review will be posted on September 17.

Connect the Stars by Marisa de los Santos and David Teague is also a survival story. Middle schoolers with mental quirks are sent to a desert survival camp to help them learn to live with them. Audrey always knows when people are lying; Aaron remembers everything he reads, sees or hears. They have to learn to work together and with others and survive the harsh desert environment and the "care" of the camp director. My review will be posted on September 19.
I ended my reading week with two books that were amazing and could not have been more different.

Crenshaw by Katherine Applegate is a middle school book about friendship, resilience, and family. My review will be posted on Sept. 23.

What We Saw by Aaron Hartzler is a young adult book ripped from the headlines about a rape that happens at a high school party and polarizes a small town. Told by a girl who just wants the truth to come out no matter what the consequences are, this story was a compelling read. My review will be posted on Sept. 24 for this Sept. 22 release.
Currently
This Monstrous Thing by Mackenzi Lee is a retelling of Frankenstein. I got this eARC from Edelweiss for review. It will be released on September 22.

Next Week

Still reading review books....
Dreamstrider by Lindsay Smith is a fantasy espionage novel. I got this eARC from NetGalley. It will be released on October 6.

A Thousand Nights by E. K. Johnson is a fantasy eARC that I get from NetGalley. It will be released on October 6.
The White Rose by Amy Ewing is the sequel to last year's The Jewel. I got this eARC from Edelweiss. It will be released on Oct. 6 too.

Ice Like Fire by Sara Raasch is the sequel to last year's Snow Like Ashes. I got the eARC of this fantasy from Edelweiss. It will be released on October 13.

Reviews Posted
Want to See What I Added to My Stack Last Week?
I added the two audiobooks that were available from SYNC this week. You have until Thursday to get your copies.
I also added four books that will go on TBR mountain until I catch up on reading review books. After I read them they will be donated to my high school media center.
Ink and Bone by Rachel Caine is one I've been interested in because I really, really like libraries though I'm not sure I want one that is self-aware.

The Wrath and the Dawn by Renee Ahdieh has been getting great reviews and sounds like an interesting story.
The Witch Hunter by Virginia Boecker has also been getting good press. 

The Mark of the Thief by Jennifer Nielsen was a Kindle Daily Deal this week. 

Two review books were added to my stack too. I have already read these and scheduled the reviews. I have linked them in the Books Read section.
The Copper Gauntlet by Holly Black and Cassandra Clare was a nice middle grade fantasy with lots of action. 

Chasing Secrets by Gennifer Choldenko was also a middle grade story. This was set in San Franciso in 1898 and had great characters.

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

State of the Stack (July 27, 2015)

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. I list them in publication order and sort them by month. I can quickly see how many books I have for each date. Ideally, this keeps me from over-committing to review books.  Check my spreadsheet to find out where I got each book.

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 
This Monstrous Thing by Mackenzi Lee (Sept. 22)

October
Spinning Starlight by R. C. Lewis (Oct. 6)
A Thousand Nights by E. K. Johnston (Oct. 6)
Dreamstrider by Lindsay Smith (Oct. 6)
 Newt's Emerald by Garth Nix (Oct. 13)
Ice Like Fire by Sara Raasch (Oct. 13)
A Sliver of Stardust by Marissa Burt (Oct. 20)
 Dead Investigations by Charlie Price (Oct. 20)
Losers Take All by David Klass (Oct. 20)
These Shallow Graves by Jennifer Donnelly (Oct. 27)
Listen to the Moon by Michael Morpurgo (Oct. 27)
Nine Lives by Wendy Corsi Staub (Oct. 27)

November

The Anatomical Shape of a Heart by Jenn Bennett (Nov. 3)
The August 5 by Jenna Helland (Nov. 10)

Soundless by Richelle Mead (Nov. 10)
Finding Fortune by Delia Ray (Nov. 10)


Young Widows Club by Alexandra Coutts (Nov. 10)
Dark Turns by Cate Holahan (Nov. 10)
On the Run by Tristan Bancks (Nov. 17)

December
The Devil's Engine: Hellraisers by Alexander Gordon Smith (Dec. 1)
Inherit the Stars by Tessa Elwood (Dec. 8)

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. Public Enemies by Ann Aguirre (Aug. 1) 
  2. Mechanica by Betsy Cornwell (Aug. 6)
  3. Reawakened by Colleen Houck (Aug. 8) 
  4. Hunter by Mercedes Lackey (Aug. 22)
  5. Bridget Wilder: Spy-in-Training by Jonathan Bernstein (Aug. 27)  
  6. Truest by Jackie Lea Sommers (Aug. 29)
  7. Fans of the Impossible Life by Kate Scelsa (Sept. 3)  
  8. Ash & Bramble by Sarah Prineas (Sept. 5) 
  9. Tonight the Streets Are Ours by Leila Sales (Sept. 9) 
  10. Lock & Mori by Heather W. Petty (Sept. 10)
  11. Plantation Shudders by Ellen Byron (August 5)
  12. No Virgin Island by C. Michele Dorsey (August 12)
  13. Dreamland by Robert L. Anderson (Sept. 12) 
  14. The Copper Gauntlet by Holly Black and Cassandra Clare (Sept. 1) 
  15. The Fall by James Preller (Sept. 16)
  16. Chasing Secrets by Gennifer Choldenko (July 29)
  17. Dark Waters by Chris Goff (Sept. 9)
  18. Walk the Earth a Stranger by Rae Carson (Sept. 17)
  19. The Heat of the Moment by Katie Rose (Sept. 17)
  20. Connect the Stars by Marisa de los Santos and David Teague (Sept. 19)
  21. Crenshaw by Katherine Applegate (Sept. 23)
  22. Breaking a Legend by Sarah Robinson (Sept. 24)
  23. What We Saw by Aaron Hartzler (Sept. 24)
Read Previously, Reviews Posted This Month
  1. Minutes to Kill by Melinda Leigh (July 1)
  2. Hell or High Water by Julie Ann Walker (July 2)
  3. Silver in the Blood by Jessica Day George (July 2)
  4. Gone for You by Jayne Frost (July 4)
  5. Paperweight by Meg Haston (July 4)
  6. Imogene and the Case of the Missing Pearls by Elizabeth Varadan (July 8)
  7. Battlesaurus: Rampage at Waterloo by Brian Falker (July 9)
  8. Your Next Breath by Iris Johansen (July 8)
  9. Rebel Mechanics by Shanna Swendson (July 11)
  10. Nightborn by Lou Anders (July 18)
  11. Lost by S. A. Bodeen (July 23) 
  12. Daughter of Dusk by Livia Blackburne (July 25) 
I Added These Books

These are listed in the order I received them. Links go to Amazon. Date published is listed in parentheses.
  1. Led Astray: The Best of Kelley Armstrong by Kelley Armstrong (Oct. 1)
  2. Crenshaw by Katherine Applegate (Sept. 22)
  3. No Virgin Island by C. Michele Dorsey (Aug. 11) 
  4. Plantation Shudders by Ellen Byron (Aug. 11)
  5. The Copper Gauntlet by Holly Black and Cassandra Clare (Sept. 1)
  6. Chasing Secrets by Gennifer Choldenko (Aug. 4) 
  7. Dark Turns by Cate Holahan (Nov. 10)
  8. Dark Waters by Chris Goff (Sept. 15)
  9. Nine Lives by Wendy Corsi Staub (Oct. 27)
Next Month's Plan

If I can keep reading at my current pace, I should be able to read and schedule reviews for all of the books on my stack before I begin work again on August 31. I can't remember the last time I was totally caught up on review books. I just have to keep from adding any more to the stack.