Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Book Review: Death and the Girl Next Door by Darynda Jones

Death and the Girl Next Door
Author: Darynda Jones
Series: Darklight (Book 1)
Publication: St. Martin's Griffin (October 2, 2012)

Description: Darynda Jones, author of The New York Times bestselling series that began with First Grave on the Right,  brings us Death and the Girl Next Door, a thrilling Young Adult novel garnering high praise and early buzz from major authors

Ten years ago, Lorelei's parents disappeared without a trace.  Raised by her grandparents and leaning on the support of her best friends, Lorelei is finally beginning to accept the fact that her parents are never coming home.  For Lorelei, life goes on.

High school is not quite as painful as she thinks it will be, and things are as normal as they can be.  Until the day the school's designated loner, Cameron Lusk, begins to stalk her, turning up where she least expects it,  standing outside her house in the dark, night after night.  Things get even more complicated when a new guy—terrifying, tough, sexy Jared Kovach—comes to school.  Cameron and Jared instantly despise each other and Lorelei seems to be the reason for their animosity.  What does Jared know about her parents?  Why does Cameron tell Jared he can't have Lorelei?  And what will any of them do when Death comes knocking for real?  Thrilling, sassy, sexy, and inventive, Darynda Jones's first foray into the world of teens will leave readers eager for the next installment.

My Thoughts: I enjoyed Darynda Jones' first venture into YA fiction. The characters made the story for me. Lorelei has a unique and funny voice. Her interactions with her best friends Brooke and Glitch were both funny and strong illustrations of the love and friendship between them.

The story begins when the school's designated loner Cameron Lusk starts stalking Lorelei. Naturally, the friends debate and decide what they should do about it. When a new boy arrives at the school the tensions between Cameron and Jared escalate. Lorelei is immediately drawn to the new guy especially since she has already seen him a in vision fighting monsters.

When Jared saves Lorelei from being killed by a hit and run driver, the course of history changes. Jared is better known as Azrael, the Angel of Death, and he was sent to cause her death, not prevent it. However, something about her, draws him and makes him give up what he should do to preserve her life.

The story gets more complex as Lorelei learns some of the secrets of her past and learns the things her grandparents have been keeping from her. This is the beginning book in a series and is a very promising start.

Favorite Quote:
I blinked and forced myself back to the present, forced myself to calm. Stepping back into the hall, I glanced around in search of the dark-headed boy, to no avail. Disappointment washed over me. For one thing, I wanted a better look. For another, I wanted a better look. The first was for obvious girl reasons. Those arms. That jaw. Who could blame me? The second was because of what I'd just seen. Surely my vision was metaphorical in some way. Scorched clouds in violet skies didn't exist. And thankfully, neither did that beast.
I bought this one on Dec. 18, 2012. You can buy your copy here.

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Teaser Tuesday: The Nightmare Affair by Mindee Arnett

Teaser Tuesdays is a weekly bookish meme, hosted by MizB of Should Be Reading. Anyone can play along! Just do the following:
  • Open to a random page
  • Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page
  • BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!)
Share the title and author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers!

I braced for the worst as Katarina's icy gaze flashed on me for a second. She had hated me ever since I turned her into that snake.
This week my teaser comes from The Nightmare Affair by Mindee Arnett. I bought this one after I read her science fiction novel. I liked her writing and also like urban fantasy. Here is the description:
The Nightmare Affair is the first in a gripping new urban fantasy trilogy by Mindee Arnett.

Sixteen-year-old Dusty Everhart breaks into houses late at night, but not because she’s a criminal. No, she’s a Nightmare.


Being the only Nightmare at Arkwell Academy, a boarding school for magickind, and living in the shadow of her mother’s infamy, is hard enough. But when Dusty sneaks into Eli Booker’s house, things get a whole lot more complicated. He’s hot, which means sitting on his chest and invading his dreams couldn’t get much more embarrassing. But it does. Eli is dreaming of a murder.

Then Eli's dream comes true.

Now Dusty has to follow the clues—both within Eli’s dreams and out of them—to stop the killer before more people turn up dead. And before the killer learns what she’s up to and marks her as the next target.

Monday, July 21, 2014

Organizing My Reading Life #GetOrganized

I have lots of books - read, unread, borrowed, review and bought - and I need to be organized. I crave organization! As of July 14, I had 5375 books. 

In 2008 I took part in a program for Minnesota Librarians called 23 Things on a Stick. It was designed to teach about useful web 2.0 tools. One of the tools that I learned, embraced, and still use today is LibraryThing

When a book comes in my door or downloads to my Kindle, the first thing I do is enter it into my LibraryThing account. I have set up a bunch of useful tags and collections. I like that I can have a book in multiple collections. It makes it so easy to find books. New books go into 2014, July, New This Week, My Library, To Read.

Review books go into my Review-Pending collection too. Kindle books go into my Kindle collection. Common tags for me are TBR, Review, YA, Kindle, and the genres of the book. I am currently using 224 different tags. One bad thing about LibraryThing is that it doesn't give you a list of the tags you are already using when you tag a new book. I'd like to have a list to choose from. 

For ARC review books, I don't put them in My Library collection but in a collection named Read But Not Owned. That is where books I borrow go too. In the Comments section for each review book, I put the date the book will be released in this format year/month/day. 

I also post copies of my reviews in LibraryThing. I usually write the review in my blog and then copy it to LibraryThing, GoodReads, and Amazon. In the Comments section, I put spoilery thoughts about the book to help me remember what the book was like. 

When I plan to read a book, I put it in the Currently Reading collection. To see which review books need to be read next, I open my Review-Pending collection and sort the comments section. Then I have a list of books in order of release date. Otherwise, I can choose a book to read by going to my To Read collection or my physical shelves and browsing. I can sort LibraryThing by date added or look for a certain tag within the collection. 

After I have finished a book, I put it in the Read Last Week collection. I take it out of the Currently Reading Collection and adjust the tags. I am always glad to remove TBR from the tags! Currently (July 14) I have 2067 books with that tag! I use those two collections when I am creating my weekly Stacking the Shelves posts and when I am creating my weekly It's Monday! What Are You Reading? post. All the pictures of book covers in those posts come from screenshots taken from collections. 

The one feature of LibraryThing that I don't take much advantage of is Groups. I know that there are many active communities of readers there but I'm not a big social networker. I don't really want to spend a lot of time talking about books; I'd rather be reading them.

Of course, I'm also a big fan of Google. I keep spreadsheets of Review Books, a Reading Log, and a list of books I donate. I have begun using Google Calendar to schedule my blog posts. I haven't given up my paper calendars though. 

How do you organize your books and your reading life?

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Stacking the YA Shelves (July 20, 2014)

Tynga of  Team Tynga's Reviews hosts this meme to spotlight the books we receive each week. I guarantee that your TBR pile will grow when you see all the wonderful books everyone gets.

I added five books to my stack this week but didn't spend any money.
I added the two SYNC audiobooks that were offered this week. The theme was mystery.

The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes II by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle and read by David Timson.
The Case of the Cryptic Crinoline by Nancy Springer and read by Katherine Kellgren.

Both are still available until Thursday when the new ones will be offered.
I also added some review books to the stack even though I said I had too many review books for September already.

I plan to attend the Epic Reads Fall Tour when it stops at Wild Rumpus in Minneapolis in October. I already had eARCs of two of the books that will be featured. I had to have eARCs of the other two available books. So I downloaded them from Edelweiss.

The Jewel by Amy Ewing
Anatomy of a Misfit by Andrea Portes

Then, since I just finished Untold by Sarah Rees Brennan, I decided I really needed the eARC of Unmade. I got this September 23 release from NetGalley.

What did you add to your stack this week?

Saturday, July 19, 2014

Book Review: Lola and the Boy Next Door by Stephanie Perkins

Lola and the Boy Next Door
Author: Stephanie Perkins
Publication: Dutton Juvenile (September 29, 2011)

Description: In this companion novel to Anna and the French Kiss, two teens discover that true love may be closer than they think

Budding designer Lola Nolan doesn't believe in fashion . . . she believes in costume. The more expressive the outfit - more sparkly, more fun, more wild - the better. But even though Lola's style is outrageous, she's a devoted daughter and friend with some big plans for the future. And everything is pretty perfect (right down to her hot rocker boyfriend) until the dreaded Bell twins, Calliope and Cricket, return to the neighborhood.

When Cricket - a gifted inventor - steps out from his twin sister's shadow and back into Lola's life, she must finally reconcile a lifetime of feelings for the boy next door.

My Thoughts: Lola is a unique character. She is a budding fashion designer who chooses to dress herself in costumes. Her fashion style is unique, sparkly, and memorable. But she is also a good daughter to her two dads and a good friend to her best friend Lindsey. She is dating an older (22) man who is a singer and guitar player in a rock band despite the fact that she was only 16 when she began dating him. She is sure that he is The One.

But then the family who used to live next door, including Calliope and Cricket Bell, move back. Calliope is an up and coming Olympic hopeful in figure skating and the family, including her twin brother Cricket, have been moving to get her the best coaching and opportunities. Lola used to be friends with Cricket and the friendship had turned to romance before Calliope threw a wrench in the works and caused Lola and Cricket to separate. Leaving both Lola and Cricket with broken hearts. Now that Cricket is back Lola is really confused about which boy she really loves and who she really is.

This story was a really angst-filled one as Lola tries to balance her relationship with her boyfriend Max and her best friend Cricket. She also has to deal with family issues as her birth mother - formerly alcoholic, drug dependent, and homeless - moves in with her and her parents while waiting for an apartment to open up. Lola's birth mother is the younger sister of one of her dads.

Since this is a companion novel to ANNA AND THE FRENCH KISS, we also get to see how Anna and Étienne's relationship is progressing. Lola is constantly comparing her relationship to theirs.

This was a nice story about a quirky girl and the boy next door.

Favorite Quote:
What DO I want? The answers are murky and unreadable, though it's clear I don't want another broken heart. Not his and certainly not mine. He needs to stay away.

I don't want him to stay away.
This one is from my TBR mountain. You can buy your copy here.

Friday, July 18, 2014

Friday Memes: Lola and the Boy Next Door by Stephanie Perkins

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 Lola and the Boy Next Door by Stephanie Perkins. I read Anna and the French Kiss, enjoyed it, and thought I'd like to read something else by the author. But this one has been sitting on my TBR mountain since September of 2011. It just kept getting set aside for more urgent or interesting titles.

Here is the description:
In this companion novel to Anna and the French Kiss, two teens discover that true love may be closer than they think

Budding designer Lola Nolan doesn't believe in fashion . . . she believes in costume. The more expressive the outfit - more sparkly, more fun, more wild - the better. But even though Lola's style is outrageous, she's a devoted daughter and friend with some big plans for the future. And everything is pretty perfect (right down to her hot rocker boyfriend) until the dreaded Bell twins, Calliope and Cricket, return to the neighborhood.

When Cricket - a gifted inventor - steps out from his twin sister's shadow and back into Lola's life, she must finally reconcile a lifetime of feelings for the boy next door.
I have three simple wishes. They're really not too much to ask.
Friday 56:
I throw up my hands, which I've been mehndi-ing with a Bic pen. "Do you have any idea how hard it is to park in this city?"

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Book Review: Starglass by Phoebe North

Author: Phoebe North
Series: Starglass (Book 1)
Publisher: Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers (July 23, 2013)

Description: Terra has never known anything but life aboard the Asherah, a city-within-a-spaceship that left Earth five hundred years ago in search of refuge. At sixteen, working a job that doesn't interest her, and living with a grieving father who only notices her when he's yelling, Terra is sure that there has to be more to life than what she's got.

But when she inadvertently witnesses the captain's guard murdering an innocent man, Terra is suddenly thrust into the dark world beneath her ship's idyllic surface. As she's drawn into a secret rebellion determined to restore power to the people, Terra discovers that her choices may determine life or death for the people she cares most about. With mere months to go before landing on the long-promised planet, Terra has to make the decision of a lifetime--one that will determine the fate of her people.

My Thoughts: STARGLASS was an entertaining science fiction story that takes place on a generation ship that is nearing its destination. The main character is Terra. She has lost her mother to cancer - the first cancer death in the ship's 500 year history - and has been left with her father who is so buried in grief and anger that he doesn't make a good parent. At age sixteen, Terra is given her vocation as all others her age are. While she is a talented artist, she is assigned to be a botanist.

Sixteen-year-olds on the ship also pick their life partners with girls as likely to propose as boys. Terra's father is encouraging her to pair up with his apprentice. Koen is willing but Terra senses something off about him. When he introduces her to the revolutionary underground, Terra learns secrets that move her out of her complacency and into a more active role in the fate of the voyage.

This one has lots of the familiar tropes of generation ships. The leadership has apparently lost sight of the good of the people and are most concerned with keeping their social position. I did have some problem with the science fiction. A crew of 1000, despite how clean their genes are, seems too small to make a self-sustaining colony. Even though the boys are sterilized and babies are made in artificial wombs, I have a hard time thinking that they aren't getting pretty inbred after 500 years. I was also asking myself why they had gravity when the engines were off in the ship. I thought that it was unique that the base population of this ship was Jewish. One of the aims of the people who planned this was to keep Jewish culture alive.

I didn't mention that Terra has been having odd dreams of the planet they are approaching and the love that is waiting for her there. I chose to pull this one off my TBR mountain at just the right time. A sequel - STARBREAK - was released on July 8. I am eager to see what happens when they reach the planet they have been travelling toward for so long.

Favorite Quote:
It wasn't the same place, not anymore. It no longer had the same heart. The people I loved were gone, and they'd taken my home with them.
I bought this one. You can buy your copy here.