Sunday, May 29, 2016

State of the Stack (May 29, 2016)

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

July
This Savage Song by Victoria Schwab (July 5)
Paper and Fire by Rachel Caine (July 5)
The Waking Fire by Anthony Ryan (July 5)
What the Dead Want by Norah Olson (July 12)
Dark Road Home by Anna Carlisle (July 12)
A Most Curious Murder by Elizabeth Kane Buzzelli (July 12)
The Ministry of SUITs by Paul Gamble (July 26)
Trapped by S. A. Bodeen (July 26)

August
The Gilded Cage by Lucinda Gray (August 2)
The Bluebonnet Betrayal by Marty Wingate (August 2)
A Promise of Fire by Amanda Bouchet (August 2)
Gone Too Deep by Katie Ruggle (August 2)
The Secret Sea by Barry Lyga (August 23)

September
The Ones by Daniel Sweren-Becker (Sept. 6)
Diplomatic Immunity by Brodi Ashton (Sept. 6)
Hard to Hold by Katie Rose (Sept. 13)
The Initiation (Lock and Key) by Ridley Pearson (Sept. 20)

October
Last Seen Leaving by Caleb Roehrig (October 4)
The Lovely Reckless by Kami Garcia (October 4)
Nemesis by Anna Banks (October 4)
The Row by J. R. Johansson (October 11)
The Emerald Tablet by Dan Jolley (October 18)
Ryan Quinn and the Rebel's Escape by Ron McGee (October 25)
The Stranger Game by Cylin Busby (October 25)

November
Flashfall by Jerry Moyer (November 15)
Gap Life by John Coy (November 22)
Of Fire and Stars by Audrey Coulthurst (November 22)

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. To Love a Wolf by Paige Tyler (June 4)
  2. The Vanishing Throne by Elizabeth May (June 4) 
  3. Written Off by E. J. Copperman (June 8) 
  4. Steeplejack by A. J. Hartley (June 8) 
  5. Autofocus by Lauren Gibaldi (June 9)
  6. The Haunting of Falcon House by Eugene Yelchin (June 11)
  7. Death on the Sapphire by R. J. Koreto (June 9) 
  8. Boundary Born by Melissa F. Olson (June 22)
  9. The Marked Girl by Lindsey Klingele (June 16) 
  10. The Secret Fire by Whitaker Ringwald (June 18) 
  11. Magic Bitter, Magic Sweet by Charlie N. Holmberg (June 23) 
  12. Seconds to Live by Melinda Leigh (June 25)
  13. Mortal Fall by Christine Carbo (June 1)
Read Previously, Reviews Posted This Month
  1. The Girl I Used to Be by April Henry
  2. Even If the Sky Falls by Mia Garcia
  3. The Last Time We Were Us by Leah Konen
  4. Spark by Holly Schindler
  5. The Crown's Game by Evelyn Skye
  6. Megan's Brood by Roy Burdine
  7. The Hunt by Megan Shepherd
  8. The Thing Is by Kathleen Gerard
  9. The Giant Smugglers by Matt Solomon
  10. The Underdogs by Sarah Hammel   
I Added These Books

These are listed in the order I received them. Links go to Amazon. 
  1. Paper and Fire by Rachel Caine (July 5)
  2. The Ones by Daniel Sweren-Becker (Sept. 6)
  3. Nemesis by Anna Banks (Oct. 4)
  4. The Lovely Reckless by Kami Garcia (Oct. 4)
  5. Last Seen Leaving by Caleb Roehrig (Oct. 4)
  6. The Row by J. R. Johansson (Oct. 11)
  7. Flashfall by Jenny Moyer (Nov. 15)
  8. Gap Life by John Coy (Nov. 22)
  9. The Initiation by Ridley Pearson (Sept. 20)
  10. Of Fire and Stars by Audrey Coulthurst (Nov. 22)
  11. Ryan Quinn and the Rebel's Escape by Ron McGee (Oct. 25)
  12. Diplomatic Immunity by Brodi Ashton (Sept. 6)
  13. The Emerald Tablet by Dan Jolley (Oct. 18)
  14. The Stranger Game by Cylin Busby (Oct. 25)
  15. Death on the Sapphire by R. J. Koreto (June 14)
  16. The Waking Fire by Anthony Ryan (July 5)
  17. Gone Too Deep by Katie Ruggle (Aug. 2)
  18. Hard to Hold by Katie Rose (Sept. 13) 
  19. Mortal Fall by Christine Carbo (May 31)
Next Month's Plan

I had every intention of lowering my review stack for summer...but a new crop from HarperCollins showed up on Edelweiss. There were some interesting ones on NetGalley too. And, finally, most of the ones I requested from Macmillan arrived this month too. Eleven of my new review books are scheduled to be released in the Fall so I will still have a lot of my summer to tackle my TBR mountain. 

Saturday, May 28, 2016

Book Review: The Dark Days Club by Alisonn Goodman

The Dark Days Club
Author: Alison Goodman
Series: A Lady Helen Novel (Book 1)
Publication: Viking Books for Young Readers (January 26, 2016)

Description: Helen must make a choice: Save her reputation, or save the world.

London, 1812. Eighteen-year-old Lady Helen Wrexhall is on the eve of her debut presentation at the royal court of George III. Her life should revolve around gowns, dancing, and securing a suitable marriage. Instead, when one of her family’s maids disappears, she is drawn into the shadows of Regency London.

There, she meets Lord Carlston, one of the few able to stop the perpetrators: a cabal of demons that has infiltrated all levels of society. Carlston is not a man she should be anywhere near, especially with the taint of scandal that surrounds him. Yet he offers her help and the possibility of finally discovering the truth about the mysterious deaths of her parents.

Soon the two of them are investigating a terrifying conspiracy that threatens to plunge the newly Enlightened world back into darkness. But can Helen trust a man whose own life is built on lies? And does she have the strength to face the dangers of this hidden world and her family’s legacy? 
    
Set in the glittering social world of the Regency upper-crust, the Dark Days Club is a supernatural adventure that introduces New York Times best-selling author Alison Goodman’s Lady Helen Wrexhall—another heroine whom, like Eona, readers can take to their hearts.

My Thoughts: Lady Helen Wrexhall is getting ready for her presentation to Queen Charlotte and getting ready to take her place in society. She is an orphan being raised by her aunt and uncle after her mother's scandalous death. Her uncle is something of a religions bigot who rules his household with an iron fist and is determined that Helen be married off as soon as possible.

Helen is developing some special powers as she comes into womanhood and it looks like Lord Carlston has some answers to questions that are plaguing her. Unfortunately, Lord Carlston also has a scandalous past. He has been convicted in the the court of public opinion of the murder of his wife since she disappeared and no one knows what happened to her.

Helen has to court scandal to find out what she needs to know about her mother, about herself, and about a world that has existed around her all her life. Lord Carlston is a member of the Dark Days Club who have been tasked with ridding England of supernatural creatures who prey on innocents. There are only eight of the Reclaimers including Helen who is brand-new against 10,000 of the Deceivers.

I really enjoyed this story which is set in Regency England with its stark contrast between the lives of the upper-crust and the lives of most others in England. The author brought in the politics of the day by talking about the Luddites who are protesting the industrialization of the country. She also allowed out heroine to attend balls and wear lovely dresses.

I could understand Helen's conflict when she learns about her destiny and then learns that she might have a way to avoid it. She was drafted, she didn't volunteer to fight monsters. Deciding what the right thing to do is forms the essential conflict of the book for Helen. Also, she needs to decide if she should marry the very charming Duke of Selburn who is her brother's best friend and who likes her for herself or throw in her lot with Lord Carlston and become part of the Dark Days Club.

This book begins a series. There are still secrets to be uncovered and decisions to be made. The book doesn't really have a cliffhanger ending though. Helen has made a decision though the consequences aren't clear.

Favorite Quote:
If she had only one word to describe him, Helen decided as she grew closer, it would be commanding. Or enigmatic. Or disturbing. Which, of course, was three words. Lord Carlston was not a man to be contained, even in adjectives. 
I bought this one. You can buy your copy here.

Friday, May 27, 2016

Friday Memes: The Dark Days Club by Alison Goodman

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.

Beginning:
In the sun-warmed quiet of her uncle's library, Lady Helen Wrexhall spread the skirt of her muslin morning gown and sank into the deep curtsy required for Royal presentation: back held straight, head slightly bowed, left knee bent so low, it nearly touched the floor. And, of course, face set into a serene Court smile.
Friday 56:
Aunt Leonore flipped open her fan and waved it, sending a pulse of warm air across the two of them. "Lud! That shade of blue does not suit Lady Gardwell at all," she whispered as Millicent and her mother approached.
This week I am featuring The Dark Days Club by Alison Goodman. Here is the description from Amazon:
Helen must make a choice: Save her reputation, or save the world.

London, 1812. Eighteen-year-old Lady Helen Wrexhall is on the eve of her debut presentation at the royal court of George III. Her life should revolve around gowns, dancing, and securing a suitable marriage. Instead, when one of her family’s maids disappears, she is drawn into the shadows of Regency London.

There, she meets Lord Carlston, one of the few able to stop the perpetrators: a cabal of demons that has infiltrated all levels of society. Carlston is not a man she should be anywhere near, especially with the taint of scandal that surrounds him. Yet he offers her help and the possibility of finally discovering the truth about the mysterious deaths of her parents.

Soon the two of them are investigating a terrifying conspiracy that threatens to plunge the newly Enlightened world back into darkness. But can Helen trust a man whose own life is built on lies? And does she have the strength to face the dangers of this hidden world and her family’s legacy?

Set in the glittering social world of the Regency upper-crust, the Dark Days Club is a supernatural adventure that introduces New York Times best-selling author Alison Goodman’s Lady Helen Wrexhall—another heroine whom, like Eona, readers can take to their hearts.

Thursday, May 26, 2016

ARC Review: The Underdogs by Sarah Hammel

The Underdogs
Author: Sara Hammel
Publication: Farrar, Straus and Giroux (BYR) (May 31, 2016)

Description: Who killed Annabel Harper?

When a popular teen beauty’s body is discovered by the pool at an elite tennis club, the regulars are shocked―especially twelve-year-old Evie and her best friend, Chelsea. While everyone else is haunted by the teen’s death, Evie and Chelsea jump on the case, dogging the footsteps of the lead detective as he investigates. As temperatures soar over the summer, tensions rise, fingers are pointed, and a heroic act sets in motion a chain of events readers will never see coming.

In the tradition of The Westing Game comes this debut mystery with a breathtaking twist.

My Thoughts: Well, we were told twice in the book description that a twist was coming. Even so, this twist took me by surprise and had me looking back through the book for clues.

It begins with a murder. Popular teen Annabel Harper is found dead by the pool of the athletic club. Twelve-year-old Evie and her friend Chelsea hang out at the club every day. Chelsea's mom mans the reception desk and Evie's dad is one of the teaching tennis pros. Both are easily overlooked. Chelsea is accepted by everyone but Evie has a harder time. Her mom dropped her off like an unwanted parcel with the father who didn't know she existed. He is at a loss about what to do with her. His parenting style seems to be a combination of benign neglect spiced with careless, hurtful remarks. Evie is a little overweight and self-conscious about it. It doesn't help that one of the tennis campers has made her his victim of choice for constant harassment.

When Annabel is murdered, Evie and Chelsea begin to follow the detective around and spend a lot of time listening in on conversations they shouldn't be hearing. There are plenty of suspects. Is it the jealous girl who has lost numerous boys to Annabel? Is it one of Annabel's admirers? The lifeguard who has watched her from afar? One of the two boys who are best friends and elite tennis players whose friendship is threatened when they both fall for her?

Chelsea is the narrator of the story and we gather bits and pieces of her story. She has recently been adopted after escaping a very abusive situation - a situation that has left her with physical injuries that are permanent. Her abusers have never been caught. But despite her past, she is happy with her new mother and has a surprisingly upbeat attitude. Her main worries are for her friend Evie.

This story was exciting and fast-paced. And that final twist... Read it and find out!

Favorite Quote:
The expression on Patrick's face as he watched Annabel disappear into the locker room was indescribable, but I will try: picture love, plus anger, plus longing, plus sadness, plus ... a dash of hatred. In that order.
I got this ARC from NetGalley.  You can buy your copy here.

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Book Review: Rebel Belle by Rachel Hawkins

Rebel Belle
Author: Rachel Hawkins
Series: Rebel Belle (Book 1)
Publication: G.P. Putnam's Sons Books for Young Readers (April 8, 2014)

Description: Harper Price, peerless Southern belle, was born ready for a Homecoming tiara. But after a strange run-in at the dance imbues her with incredible abilities, Harper's destiny takes a turn for the seriously weird. She becomes a Paladin, one of an ancient line of guardians with agility, super strength and lethal fighting instincts.

Just when life can't get any more disastrously crazy, Harper finds out who she's charged to protect: David Stark, school reporter, subject of a mysterious prophecy and possibly Harper's least favorite person. But things get complicated when Harper starts falling for him--and discovers that David's own fate could very well be to destroy Earth.

With snappy banter, cotillion dresses, non-stop action and a touch of magic, this new young adult series from bestseller Rachel Hawkins is going to make y'all beg for more.

My Thoughts: Harper Price has it all under control. She is the quintessential Southern belle. No swear words pass her lips. She is head cheerleader, has a perfect boyfriend, and is soon to be Homecoming Queen. That is, until she stops at the restroom to refresh her lip gloss and runs into a sword wielding teacher trying to kill an unassuming janitor. The janitor breathes into Harper's mouth just before he dies and turns her into a superhero ninja who manages to kill the sword wielding teacher with one of her high heels.

Moments later the bodies, the broken door and damaged restroom are magically put to rights leaving Harper with super powers and lots of lots of questions. She soon learns that she has inherited paladin powers and needs to keep the current oracle from harm. The problem is that the current oracle is her dreaded nemesis and competitor David Stark who delights in writing things about her in the school newspaper that make her mad.

Now Harper has to juggle all of her school responsibilities including the up-coming cotillion with protecting David from being murdered to make way for a more acceptable oracle.

The dialog was great and had a lot of humor. Despite her excessively Type A personality, Harper was a sympathetic character who had an interesting back story. Her friends, including the boyfriend she is growing out of, were well-rounded characters too. And David, despite his poor fashion choices, made an interesting hero.

This is an entertaining start to a series.

Favorite Quote:
Walking over to him, I pulled at the shoulder of his jacket. "Okay, I get that it's weird, and while I totally respect the need for a PTSD moment, we really need to talk."

His eyes moved up to my face, still kind of unfocused. "About what? Why dad guys are chasing you, and why freaking magic is apparently real?"

"I actually think the bad guys might be chasing you, but yeah."
I bought this one, had it autographed and plan to donate it to my HS Media Center. You can buy your copy here.

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Teaser Tuesday: The Underdogs by Sara Hammel

Teaser Tuesdays is a weekly bookish meme, hosted by MizB of Books and a Beat. 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:
"By 'it' you mean...love? Boys?"

"No." Harmony was gesturing forcefully with both hands. "You're missing the point, like the rest of them. She was a beautiful girl. A work of art. And because of that, no one saw past her looks. Sometimes it was as if who she was and what she had to say didn't matter."
This week my teaser comes from The Underdogs by Sara Hammel. I got this eARC from NetGalley. Here is the description from Amazon:
Who killed Annabel Harper?

When a popular teen beauty’s body is discovered by the pool at an elite tennis club, the regulars are shocked―especially twelve-year-old Evie and her best friend, Chelsea. While everyone else is haunted by the teen’s death, Evie and Chelsea jump on the case, dogging the footsteps of the lead detective as he investigates. As temperatures soar over the summer, tensions rise, fingers are pointed, and a heroic act sets in motion a chain of events readers will never see coming.

In the tradition of The Westing Game comes this debut mystery with a breathtaking twist.

Monday, May 23, 2016

It's Monday! What Are You Reading? (May 23, 2016)

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...

Last week sped by so fast and nothing memorable happened. Our weather was cool but mostly dry. The lilacs outside my patio door are blooming. There are just nine student contact days and one teacher workday before this school year is over.

I get a week of vacation here at home before a doctor's appointment which includes a colonoscopy after which I head up to my summer home for a couple of months. I'm already planning what books will be making the trip with me.

I should finish all the reviews on my June calendar before school is over. So I'm looking for books to read with reviews showing up in July. August, and September. I hope to get a whole bunch scheduled. I plan to fit in books from my TBR mountains around the review books which are already on the calendar.

Read Last Week
All In by Jennifer Lynn Barnes is the third in her Naturals series. I enjoy the characters in this series and enjoyed this mystery since they were tracking down a serial killer in Las Vegas. My review will be posted on June 15.

The Marked Girl by Lindsey Klingele is a review book. This contemporary fantasy is set in Los Angeles and stars a girl who is a foster child who wants to make movies. She stumbles on some kids who have come from another world and want to go back but who needs some hidden scrolls. My review will be posted on June 16.
The Secret Fire by Whitaker Ringwald is also a review book and contemporary fantasy. This is the concluding volume to a middle grade series with unique, distinct, and engaging characters. This would be great for fans of Greek mythology and those with annoying older brothers. My review will be posted on June 18.

Sorcerer to the Crown by Zen Cho is a historical fantasy set in an alternate Regency time period with magic. This one stars older characters and an interesting variety of mythological characters including faeries and dragons. My review will be posted on June 22.

Currently
I am currently reading The Conjurer's Riddle by Andrea Cremer which is the sequel to The Inventor's Secret. This steampunk story takes place in a United States that lost the American Revolution.

Next Week
Soldier by Julie Kagawa is from my TBR mountain. I'm eager to read this 3rd of 4 books in the Talon Saga.

Then, it is back to review books:

Paper and Fire by Rachel Caine is the second in her Great Library Series. I got this one from NetGalley.
The Waking Fire by Anthony Ryan begins a new fantasy series. I got this one from NetGalley too.

This Savage Song by Victoria Schwab is a dark urban fantasy I got from Edelweiss.

Reviews Posted
Want to See What I Added to My Stack Last Week?
I downloaded both SYNC Audiobooks this week. They were 100 Sideways Miles by Andrew Smith and This Boy's Life by Tobias Wolff.

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