Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Book Review: Nowhere but Here by Katie McGarry

Nowhere But Here
Author: Katie McGarry
Series: Thunder Road, Book 1
Publication: Harlequin Teen (May 26, 2015)

Description: An unforgettable new series from acclaimed author Katie McGarry about taking risks, opening your heart and ending up in a place you never imagined possible 

Seventeen-year-old Emily likes her life the way it is: doting parents, good friends, good school in a safe neighborhood. Sure, she's curious about her biological father—the one who chose life in a motorcycle club, the Reign of Terror, over being a parent—but that doesn't mean she wants to be a part of his world. But when a reluctant visit turns into an extended summer vacation among relatives she never knew she had, one thing becomes clear: nothing is what it seems. Not the club, not her secret-keeping father and not Oz, a guy with suck-me-in blue eyes who can help her understand them both.

Oz wants one thing: to join the Reign of Terror. They're the good guys. They protect people. They're…family. And while Emily—the gorgeous and sheltered daughter of the club's most respected member—is in town, he's gonna prove it to her. So when her father asks him to keep her safe from a rival club with a score to settle, Oz knows it's his shot at his dream. What he doesn't count on is that Emily just might turn that dream upside down.

No one wants them to be together. But sometimes the right person is the one you least expect, and the road you fear the most is the one that leads you home.

My Thoughts: This was another amazing story by Katie McGarry. Emily likes her life the way that it is - safe, predictable, and simple. She loves living with her dad and mom in Florida and only sees her biological father Eli once a year. But things are changing this summer.

She and her family go to Tennessee supposedly to attend Eli's mother's funeral but learn that she isn't dead yet. She's dying of cancer and wants a chance to get to know her granddaughter. But coming to Tennessee puts Emily in danger from a rival motorcycle gang and Eli convinces her parents that he can protect her better if she stays with him in Tennessee for a while.

Eli tasks Oz with watching out for Emily. Oz has grown up around the club and his only future goal is to become a full member. They are his family. He doesn't expect to ever like Emily because he blames her for the grief that Eli has felt because she was gone. He certainly never expects to fall in love with her.

Emily tries to remain aloof but gradually comes to like - even love - her grandmother, father and other members of the club. But they are all keeping secrets from her. She learns that her parents are also keeping the same secrets. This is a really hard summer for Emily because the foundations that she has grown up with are being shaken. Loving Emily is also causing Oz to take a new look at his life too.

This story was filled with emotion. I teared up more than once as I was reading. And it was filled with information about the culture of motorcycle clubs. I almost felt like I was visiting another alien planet because that life is so different than mine. I can't wait to read Razor's story which is coming next in this series.

Favorite Quote:
"I will." His lips lift a little, a strong indication he's planning to mess with me. "How do you want to handle this? Straightforward, gradual introduction, or head in the sand?"

I brighten. "Head in the sand works well for me."

"Good try, but pick another option."
I bought this one. You can buy your copy here.

Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Teaser Tuesday: Silver in the Blood by Jessica Day George

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:
Radu patted her hand. "From now on, she'll be under the protection of her Florescu family," he said. "She will not need to worry about anyone bothering her again!"
This week my teaser comes from Silver in the Blood by Jessica Day George. I got this eARC from NetGalley. I have liked everything I've read by this author and look forward to reading this. Here is the description from Amazon:
As spoiled society girls from New York City circa 1890, Dacia and Lou never desired to know more about their lineage, instead preferring to gossip about their mysterious Romanian
.relatives, the Florescus. But upon turning seventeen, the girls must return to their homeland to meet their family, find proper husbands, and-most terrifyingly-learn the secrets of The Claw, The Wing, and The Smoke. The Florescus, after all, are shape-shifters, bound by a centuries-old tradition to do the bidding of the royal Dracula family and it is time for Dacia and Lou to take their place among the ranks. But when the devilish heir, Mihai Dracula sets his sights on Dacia as part of his plan to secure power over all of Europe, the girls choose to fight against this cruel inheritance with all their might. Only the dashing Lord Johnny Hardcastle and the mysterious Theophilus Arkady- members of a secret society charged with ridding the world of monsters-can help Dacia and Lou, but breaking the shackles of their upbringing will require more courage than the girls ever imagined.

The thrilling start to a richly drawn, romance-filled series, this epic adventure of two girls in a battle for their lives will have readers coming back for more.

Monday, June 29, 2015

It's Monday! What Are You Reading? (June 29, 2015)

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...

I made a quick trip back to my winter home on Monday and came back to Duluth on Wednesday. My main purpose of the trip was to attend a court hearing. Our townhouse association has taken one of our owners to Conciliation Court because he hasn't paid his association dues for five years. This long drawn out process began in November and still isn't finished today. But, at least, now we have a judgment against him and have some hope for seeing the money he owes the association.

While there, I also stopped at school and turned in my paperwork for insurance for next year. Our rates went up about 25% which caused some concern for lots of the staff. I will become eligible for Medicare in August and decided that going on Medicare and a supplemental insurance was the best way for me to go. I will be going down to 3/4 time next year and beginning my Teacher Retirement pension too. Minnesota has this interesting program where a teacher can retire and begin collecting their pension but still return to work if their school district will allow it. The school district agreed to let me do this since it ultimately saves them money. I plan to completely retire next year as I will reach my full Social Security age. I thought it would make sense to ease my way into retirement.

Read Last Week
I read Among Others by Jo Walton. The book which won a number of science fiction awards and was on Booklist's Adult Books for Young Adults list has been on my stack since July 20, 2011. I enjoyed it especially the references to classic science fiction books but I'm not sure what young adults would actually make of it. For me, it definitely seemed like a book for others like me who read large quantities of science fiction in their youth. My review will be posted on July 29.

Then I tackled my review books that will be releasing in August.

School for Sidekicks by Kelly McCullough is a middle grade fantasy/science fiction story which takes place in Minneapolis-St. Paul. Earth was hit with a hero bomb which killed many and turned some of the survivors into superheroes or supervillains. The thirteen-year-old hero desperately wants super powers of his own but, when he gets them, finds that things are not as they seem. My review will be posted on July 30.

I also read Daughter of Dusk by Livia Blackburne which is the second book in the Midnight Thief series. This fantasy is action packed and our heroine has to make lots of decisions about what is right and what she wants for herself. My review will be posted on July 25.

Currently
Public Enemies by Ann Aguirre is another sequel and another August 4 release. I enjoyed the first in this contemporary fantasy series.

Next Week

I'm going to start the week by finishing my August review books.
I got Mechanica by Betsy Cornwell from Edelweiss. I was curious to read another retelling of the Cinderella story. I hear this one has some twists.

I got Reawakened by Colleen Houck from NetGalley. This book begins a new series for her that is "about a teenage girl entangled in an epic Egyptian quest full of romance, adventure, and mythology!"

Since I have a little break before beginning to read the 16 review books on my stack releasing in September, I thought I'd read a few that have been on TBR mountain for a while.
Seconds Away by Harlan Coben is the second Mickey Bolitar young adult mystery. I've had it since July 3, 2013.

Blood Prophecy by Alyxandra Harvey is in the Drake Chronicles vampire series. It has been on my stack since January 8, 2013.

Reviews Posted
Want to See What I Added to My Stack Last Week?

I had a great week. Besides the SYNC Audiobooks, I got a big box from Macmillan that had 12 ARCs for Fall release books which is why this stack is so big. Four of them were duplicates that I had already gotten from NetGalley.
The two SYNC audiobooks are both ones I've seen but never read.

Monster by Walter Dean Myers
Lord of the Flies by William Golding

You have until Thursday to download your own copies.

Here are the ARCs.
 Young Widow's Club by Alexandra Coutts (Nov. 10)
Losers Take All by David Klass (Oct. 20)
 Listen to the Moon by Michael Morpurgo (Oct. 27)
Dead Investigations by Charlie Price (Oct. 20)
 On the Run by Tristan Bancks (Nov. 17)
The Fall by James Preller (Sept. 22)
The Anatomical Shape of a Heart by Jenn Bennett (Nov. 3)
Finding Fortune by Delia Ray (Nov. 10)
The Devil's Engine: Hellraisers by Alexander Gordon Smith (Dec. 1)

From Amazon Vine, I got:

Soundless by Richelle Mead (Nov. 10)

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 (June 29, 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

August
 Public Enemies by Ann Aguirre (August 4)
Mechanica by Betsy Cornwell (August 4)
Reawakened by Colleen Houck (August 11)
Deceptions by Kelley Armstrong (August 18)

September
Broken Play by Samantha Kane (Sept. 1)
Hunter by Mercedes Lackey (Sept. 1)
Truest by Jackie Lea Sommers (Sept. 1)
 Bridget Wilder: Spy-in-Training by Jonathan Bernstein (Sept. 1)
Fans of the Impossible Life by Kate Scelsa (Sept. 8)
Tonight the Streets Are Ours by Leila Sales (Sept. 15)
 Ash & Bramble by Sarah Prineas (Sept. 15)
Lock & Mori by Heather W. Petty (Sept. 15)
The Fall by James Preller (Sept. 22)
 Heat of the Moment by Katie Rose (Sept. 22)
Dreamland by Robert L. Anderson (Sept. 22)
Walk on Earth a Stranger by Rae Carson (Sept. 22)
 Connect the Stars by Marisa de los Santos and David Teague (Sept. 22)
What We Saw by Aaron Hartzler (Sept. 22)
This Monstrous Thing by Mackenzi Lee (Sept. 22)
Breaking a Legend by Sarah Robinson (Sept. 29)

October
Dream Strider by Lindsay Smith (Oct. 6)
A Thousand Nights by E. K. Johnston (Oct. 6)
Spinning Starlight by R. C. Lewis (Oct. 6)
The White Rose by Amy Ewing (Oct. 6)
Ice Like Fire by Sara Raasch (Oct. 13)
Newt's Emerald by Garth Nix (Oct. 13)
Losers Take All by David Klass (Oct. 20)
Dead Investigation by Charlie Price (Oct. 20)
A Sliver of Stardust by Marissa Burt (Oct. 20)
Listen to the Moon by Michael Morpurgo (Oct. 27)
These Shallow Graves by Jennifer Donnelly (Oct. 27)

November
The Anatomical Shape of a Heart by Jenn Bennett (Nov. 3)
Young Widow's Club by Alexandra Coutts (Nov. 10)
Finding Fortune by Delia Ray (Nov. 10)
Soundless by Richelle Mead (Nov. 10)
The August 5 by Jenna Helland (Nov. 10)
On the Run by Tristan Bancks (Nov. 7)

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. Don't Ever Change by M. Beth Bloom (June 25)
  2. Between Us and the Moon by Rebecca Maizel (June 27)
  3. Minutes to Kill by Melinda Leigh (July 1)
  4. Hell or High Water by Julie Ann Walker (July 2)
  5. Silver in the Blood by Jessica Day George (July 2)
  6. Gone for You by Jayne Frost (July 4)
  7. Paperweight by Meg Haston (July 4)
  8. Imogene and the Case of the Missing Pearls by Elizabeth Varadan (July 8)
  9. Battlesaurus: Rampage at Waterloo by Brian Falker (July 9)
  10. Your Next Breath by Iris Johansen (July 8)
  11. Rebel Mechanics by Shanna Swendson (July 11)
  12. Nightborn by Lou Anders (July 18)
  13. Lost by S. A. Bodeen (July 23) 
  14. The Veil by Chloe Neill (July 29)
  15. Daughter of Dusk by Livia Blackburne (July 25) 
  16. School for Sidekicks by Kelly McCullough (July 30)
  17. Wolf Trouble by Paige Tyler (July 30) 
  18. Between a Rock and a Hard Place by Marty Wingate (Aug. 1)
Read Previously, Reviews Posted This Month
  1. Spiraled by Kendra Elliot (June 3) 
  2. Book Scavenger by Jennifer Chambliss Bertman (June 4)
  3. The Revenge Playbook by Rachael Allen (June 6)
  4. Blood Will Tell by April Henry (June 11) 
  5. Between the Notes by Sharon Huss Roat (June 13) 
  6. Ever After by Jude Deveraux (June 18)
  7. Emmy & Oliver by Robin Benway (June 18) 
  8. The Leveler by Julia Durango (June 20)
I Added These Books

These are listed in the order I received them. Links go to Amazon. Date published is listed in parentheses.
  1. Your Next Breath by Iris Johansen (April 28)
  2. Imogene and the Case of the Missing Pearls by Elizabeth Varadan (June 1) 
  3. Wolf Trouble by Paige Tyler (Aug. 4) 
  4. Tonight the Streets Are Ours by Leila Sales (Sept. 15) 
  5. Dream Strider by Lindsay Smith (Oct. 6) 
  6. Breaking a Legend by Sarah Robinson (Sept. 29)
  7. The Heat of the Moment by Katie Rose (Sept. 22)
  8. Broken Play by Samantha Kane (Sept. 1)
  9. The August 5 by Jenna Helland (Nov. 5)
  10. The Veil by Chloe Neill (August 4)
  11. Soundless by Richelle Mead (Nov. 10) 
  12. The Fall by James Preller (Sept. 22)
  13. Losers Take All by David Klass (Oct. 20)
  14. Dead Investigation by Charlie Price (Oct. 20) 
  15. Listen to the Moon by Michael Morpurgo (Oct. 27) 
  16. The Anatomical Shape of a Heart by Jenn Bennett (Nov. 3) 
  17. Young Widow's Club by Alexandra Coutts (Nov. 10) 
  18. Finding Fortune by Delia Ray (Nov. 10) 
  19. On the Run by Tristan Bancks (Nov. 17) 
  20. The Devil's Engine: Hellraisers by Alexander Gordon Smith (Dec. 1) 
  21. Deceptions by Kelley Armstrong (Aug. 18) 
Next Month's Plan

Having 16 - what was I thinking? - review books on my stack for September which is also when I go back to work is stressing me out. I need to really concentrate on getting all of them read before I begin work again on August 31. I know that is two months away but I have other books from my TBR mountain that I would like to read during my summer vacation too. 

What is the state of your stack? 

Saturday, June 27, 2015

ARC Review: Between Us and the Moon by Rebecca Maizel

Between Us and the Moon
Author: Rebecca Maizel
Publication: HarperTeen (June 30, 2015)

Description: A luminous YA love story that evokes Judy Blume's Forever for a new generation.

Sarah—Bean to her friends and family—is an aspiring astronomer and champion mathlete. She lives behind her beloved telescope, with her head in the stars and her feet planted firmly on the ground. For as long as she can remember, she's also lived in the shadow of her beautiful older sister, Scarlett.

But after a traumatic end to the school year, Sarah goes to Cape Cod for the summer with her family, determined to grow up. It's there that she meets gorgeous, older college boy Andrew. He sees her as the girl she wants to be. A girl like Scarlett. He thinks she's older, too—and she doesn't correct him.

For Sarah, it's a summer of firsts. Before she knows what's happened, one little lie has transformed into something real. And by the end of August, she might have to choose between falling in love, and finding herself.

Fans of Jenny Han and Stephanie Perkins are destined to fall for this romantic and heartfelt coming-of-age novel about how life and love are impossible to predict.

My Thoughts: Dumped by her boyfriend just after school lets out at the end of sophomore year, mathlete and astronomy geek Sarah goes to Cape Cod for the summer with her family. She feels invisible to her family who is concentrating on her older sister Scarlet's imminent departure to study ballet at Juilliard. They are living with her great-aunt who is very much the managing sort who always knows what's best (without bothering to ask the people she's making decisions for.)

A stinging rejection from her former boyfriend has her trying the Scarlet Experiment to see if she can be more like her popular, out-going older sister. She meets a boy - well, a young man - almost 20 to her just barely 16 and lies to him about how old she is and about her future plans. Being with Andrew lets her experiment with who she wants to be. They fall in love. She also finds that she can make friends and be more than just the scientist.

Of course it isn't that easy. Her relationship with her aunt is strained and her parents don't seem to notice that she is growing up. While Scarlet has a curfew and is under parental supervision, Sarah is left to do what she wants. I think her parents just don't realize that she could be doing something other than being careful, responsible, and serious. This does lead to some nights spent with the boyfriend who thinks she is old enough to make those decisions.

Things come to a head at her sister's bon voyage party - with a Titanic theme - which Sarah finds really funny. I thought the ending was realistic. And I was really happy about the way Sarah grew and changed throughout the book.

Favorite Quote:
"You always remind me how much I matter. The me on the inside. The one I'm piecing together," I say. 
I got this ARC from Edelweiss. You can buy your copy here.

Friday, June 26, 2015

Friday Memes: Between Us and the Moon by Rebecca Maizel

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 Between Us and the Moon by Rebecca Maizel. I got this eARC from Edelweiss. Here is the description from Amazon:
A luminous YA love story that evokes Judy Blume's Forever for a new generation.

Sarah—Bean to her friends and family—is an aspiring astronomer and champion mathlete. She lives behind her beloved telescope, with her head in the stars and her feet planted firmly on the ground. For as long as she can remember, she's also lived in the shadow of her beautiful older sister, Scarlett.

But after a traumatic end to the school year, Sarah goes to Cape Cod for the summer with her family, determined to grow up. It's there that she meets gorgeous, older college boy Andrew. He sees her as the girl she wants to be. A girl like Scarlett. He thinks she's older, too—and she doesn't correct him.

For Sarah, it's a summer of firsts. Before she knows what's happened, one little lie has transformed into something real. And by the end of August, she might have to choose between falling in love, and finding herself.
Fans of Jenny Han and Stephanie Perkins are destined to fall for this romantic and heartfelt coming-of-age novel about how life and love are impossible to predict.
Beginning:
"What's the point of doing all this math just to track a comet?" Scarlett says and squints through the lens of my telescope. "It's a fuzzy white speck."

"The whole point is to use pen and paper to predict the comet's perihelion."

"Perry-what?"
Friday 56:
On a calendar above the desk my birthday is circled in blue—it's also the registration date for the Waterman Scholarship. The online form has been saved and filled out. I need to re-read it at least two times and spell-check before sending in the registration.

Thursday, June 25, 2015

ARC Review: Don't Ever Change by M. Beth Bloom

Don't Ever Change
Author: M. Beth Bloom
Publication: HarperTeen (July 7, 2015)

Description: Eva has always wanted to write a modern classic—one that actually appeals to her generation. The only problem is that she has realized she can't "write what she knows" because she hasn't yet begun to live. So before heading off to college, Eva is determined to get a life worth writing about

Soon Eva's life encounters a few unexpected plot twists. She becomes a counselor at a nearby summer camp—a job she is completely unqualified for. She starts growing apart from her best friends before they've even left for school. And most surprising of all, she begins to fall for the last guy she would have ever imagined. But no matter the roadblocks, or writer's blocks, it is all up to Eva to figure out how she wants this chapter in her story to end.

Perfect for fans of E. Lockhart, David Levithan, and Rainbow Rowell, Don't Ever Change is a witty, snarky, and thought-provoking coming-of-age young adult novel about a teen who sets out to write better fiction and, ultimately, discovers the truth about herself.

My Thoughts: This was one of the oddest books I have ever finished. It felt like "stream-of-consciousness" but, mercifully, with punctuation. Eva thinks of herself as a writer and so views all things as if she was writing about them, complete with editing to make things more her own story. It is the summer after graduation and she is getting ready to move to Boston from L.A. to go to college. Before she goes, she gets a summer job at Camp Sunny Skies and is made the counselor for a bunch of nine-year-olds. She is recommended for her position by high school writing rival Foster.

Not a lot happens in the story except we see friendships changing as she is growing away from her high school best friends. We also see her as a snobbish, brutally opinionated character who takes pride it telling it like it is without any trace of empathy or tact. She mostly likes the path she is following and thinks of herself as being an individual and not a member of the herd. Unfortunately, since she tells the story, most of the other characters felt like paper dolls to me.

I liked some of the witty quips and puns that she and her family toss around. However, they were not enough of the story and were overpowered by Eva's emo writing. Aspiring writers might enjoy Eva's summer.

Favorite Quote:
Today there's a badly sung sing-along about friendship and letting your light shine, and then Steve introduces the new lifeguard, Marta, and calls an eight-year-old up to the front because it's his birthday. We tunelessly sing the "Happy Birthday" song and all shout "Hi, Marta!" likda a day-care center full of reformed, upbeat addicts.
I got this ARC from Edelweiss. You can buy your copy here.