Saturday, June 29, 2013

ARC Review: Famous Last Words by Jennifer Salvato Doktorski

Famous Last Words
Author: Jennifer Salvato Doktorski
Publication: Henry Holt and Co. (BYR) (July 2, 2013)

Description: Sixteen-year-old Samantha D’Angelo has death on the brain. Her summer internship at the local newspaper has her writing obituaries instead of soaking up the sun at the beach. Between Shelby, Sam’s boy-crazy best friend; her boss Harry, a true-blue newspaper man; and AJ, her fellow “intern scum” (aka the cute drummer for a band called Love Gas), Sam has her hands full. But once she figures out what—or who—is the best part of her summer, will she mess it all up?

As Sam learns her way around both the news room and the real world, she starts to make some momentous realizations about politics, ethics, her family, romance, and most important—herself.

My Thoughts: This story was sweet and cute and, oh so, satisfying. Sam D'Angelo is spending the summer before her senior year working for the local newspaper as an intern. Her main job is writing the obituaries. Her fellow interns are AJ and Tony. She loves being in the newspaper office even though it is separating her from her best friend Shelby who is spending their "last summer" partying and drinking. 

Sam gets involved in writing feature obits which make her look into people's lives to write about what made them memorable. She also gets involved in investigating the mayor or a nearby town who seems to be hiring lots of people who never show up for work.

Sam also has to deal with romance. She and Shelby had a falling out when Shelby got a little drunk and told a fellow student who just happens to be the captain of the football team and student council president that Sam had a crush on him. And Sam did—when she was in junior high. But it was still an embarrassing thing for a friend to do. Then there is Tony at work. He is handsome and a real flirt who makes a play for Sam until Sam gets the assignment he wanted. Best of all, there is AJ who becomes her friend. It takes her quite a while to realize that AJ would like to be more than buddies.

I loved the family relationships in this story too. Sam has a great relationship with her lawyer parents. They are supportive and really care about her life. Sam also has a great relationship with her widowed grandmother who has lived with them since her husband died.

This was a story about growing up and accepting changes. Friendships changed. Relationships changed. And Sam changed as she started to learn what was important to her and what she wanted.

I really liked this story and can't wait to share it with my high students next Fall.

Favorite Quote:
That's the strange dichotomy of me. I love to watch idealized versions of kids my age, and yet, I don't know how to live among them. It's not high school I have the problem with; it's me in high school. I'm like the ugly stepsister trying to jam her big nasty foot into that delicate glass slipper. 
I got this ARC from Macmillan Children's Publishing Group. You can buy your copy here.

Friday, June 28, 2013

Friday Memes: Famous Last Words by Jennifer Salvato Doktorski

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 the closest book is my only July review book - Famous Last Words by Jennifer Salvato Doktorski. I got this one from Macmillan. It will be released on July 2. Here is the description:
Sixteen-year-old Samantha D’Angelo has death on the brain. Her summer internship at the local newspaper has her writing obituaries instead of soaking up the sun at the beach. Between Shelby, Sam’s boy-crazy best friend; her boss Harry, a true-blue newspaper man; and AJ, her fellow “intern scum” (aka the cute drummer for a band called Love Gas), Sam has her hands full. But once she figures out what—or who—is the best part of her summer, will she mess it all up?

As Sam learns her way around both the news room and the real world, she starts to make some momentous realizations about politics, ethics, her family, romance, and most important—herself.
Beginning:
I'm not dead. But sometimes I feel like I might as well be.
Friday 56:
After Michael leaves, the newsroom is quiet except for Alice's squeaky chair and the intermittent crackling of the police scanner.

Thursday, June 27, 2013

Book Review: I'd Tell You I Love You, But Then I'd Have to Kill You by Ally Carter

I'd Tell You I Love You, But Then I'd Have to Kill You
Author: Ally Carter
Publication: Disney Hyperion (August 20, 2009)

Description: Cammie Morgan is a student at the Gallagher Academy for Exceptional Young Women, a fairly typical all-girls school—that is, if every school taught advanced martial arts in PE and the latest in chemical warfare in science, and students received extra credit for breaking CIA codes in computer class. The Gallagher Academy might claim to be a school for geniuses but it's really a school for spies. Even though Cammie is fluent in fourteen languages and capable of killing a man in seven different ways, she has no idea what to do when she meets an ordinary boy who thinks she's an ordinary girl. Sure, she can tap his phone, hack into his computer, or track him through town with the skill of a real "pavement artist"—but can she maneuver a relationship with someone who can never know the truth about her? Cammie Morgan may be an elite spy-in-training, but in her sophomore year, she's on her most dangerous mission—falling in love.

My Thoughts: This book is a story that has both humor and heart. Cammie Morgan is the narrator and to book is supposed to be a report of a "mission" that this young spy undertakes. Cammie has been attending the Gallagher Academy for Exceptional Young Women where her former-CIA mother is the headmaster. Her father, also a spy, died on a mission and both Cammie and her mother are still dealing with his loss.

Cammie's sophomore year begins with a few changes. She gets a new roommate—Macey McHenry—who is very different from her other roommates Bex and Liz. Macey is the daughter of a Senator and a Cosmetics Empire heiress and she comes equipped with attitude and street smarts. Sophomore year also comes with the girls' first Covert Ops class and a new Covert Ops teacher—Joe Solomon who could give James Bond and Indiana Jones pointers.

Cammie is known as the Chameleon. She can fit in and remain unseen. But on her first Covert Ops assignment, a town boy sees her. Josh is cute and funny and nice. Cammie wants to get to know him better but to do so, she has to create a Legend—a story about an ordinary girl and go undercover. The town people in Roseville have a prejudice against the Gallagher girls thinking they are all rich, spoiled, and stuck up. Gallagher Academy fosters that attitude because it helps conceal that the school is training spies. 

With some help from her friends, Cammie manages to sneak out of the school on numerous occasions and go on dates with Josh who just gets nicer and nicer. It gives Cammie her first real chance to be an ordinary girl and she falls in love. But she knows the relationship can't last, since it is built on lies, and what happens when it ends is a growing experience for her.

The dialogue is witty and filled with asides about attending a spy school for geniuses. The plot is well done and the characters well-developed and engaging. I really enjoyed this story and look forward to continuing the series.   

Favorite Quote:
"Is there any homework?" she asked, and the class turned instantly from shocked to irritated. (Never ask that question in a room full of girls who are black belts in karate.)
I bought this one for my Kindle. You can buy your copy here.

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

WoW: Belladonna by Fiona Paul

Waiting on Wednesday is a meme hosted by Jill at Breaking the Spine. She has a linky widget at her site each week for your post and to make it easy to find posts by other people.

The purpose of the meme is to spotlight books that we are eagerly anticipating. It is fun to take a look at what others are waiting for. I have noticed that it has expanded my wishlist though. Be warned!

I found this one while browsing upcoming releases at Amazon -- Belladonna (Secrets of the Eternal Rose) by Fiona Paul. Here is the description of this July 16 release:
In Renaissance Italy, love, lust, intrigue and secret societies converge to stunning results!

In the second in the stunning Secrets of the Eternal Rose series, Cassandra Caravello is trying to forget Falco, the wild artist who ran off with her heart, as she grows closer to her strong, steady fiancĂ©, Luca. But Luca seems to have his own secrets. When he’s arrested by soldiers in the middle of the night, Cass’s life is once again thrown into chaos. She must save Luca, and that means finding the Book of the Eternal Rose—the only evidence that will prove he’s innocent.

So begins her journey to Florence, a city haunted by whispers of vampirism, secret soirees and clandestine meetings of the Order of the Eternal Rose. And home to Falco, who is working for the Order’s eerily stunning leader, the Belladonna herself.

Can Cass trust her heart to lead her to the truth this time?

Nothing is as it seems in this seductive thriller, where the truth may be the deadliest poison of all.

Another sensual edge-of-your-seat romance thriller that's just as alluring Venom. This historical romantic mystery is perfect for fans of Philippa Gregory's The Other Boleyn Girl, Anna Godbersen's The Luxe, Libba Bray's A Great and Terrible Beauty and Cecily Von Ziegesar's Gossip Girl.
Now I need to go look for Venom.

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Teaser Tuesday: Beautifully Broken by Sherry Soule

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!

This week my teaser comes from Beautifully Broken by Sherry Soule. The author pitched the book to me and I was interested enough to buy a copy for my Kindle. Here is the description:
They say every town has its secrets, but that doesn't even begin to describe Whispering Pines. The townsfolk are a superstitious lot and the mystical disappearance of a local teen has everyone murmuring about a centuries old witch's curse. 

Sixteen-year-old Shiloh Ravenwolf is a heritage witch from the Broussard family, a family both destined and cursed. After she takes a summer job at Ravenhurst Manor, she discovers a ghost with an agenda. That's where she meets the new town hottie, Trent Donovan. But Trent may be the next victim on the supernatural hit list, and Shiloh is the only person with the power to save him. Complicated much?

After receiving cryptic messages from a creepy wraith, and then frightening threats from a demon, Shiloh finally begins to understand the mysterious significance of the strange mark branded on her wrist. Now Shiloh must decide how much she's willing to sacrifice to protect the other teenagers in town.

Unfortunately, for Shiloh, not all ghosts want help crossing over. Some want vengeance.
Teaser:
Dusty board games littered the shelf, and haphazardly hanging clothes swayed on the bar. My fuzzy, pink bunny slippers stared at me with glassy button eyes. Nothing unusual.

So why am I so freaked? 

Monday, June 24, 2013

State of the Stack (June 24, 2013)

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. Yellow highlighted books are ones past their publication date that I still haven't read and reviewed. I use pink highlights for reviews due in even numbered months so that I can see at a glance how many I have for each month. Ideally, this keeps me from over-committing to review books.  


My Physical Review Pile

I don't have a photo this month since my TBR stack and I aren't in the same place when I am writing this post. They are shown in order of their release dates with the ones coming out soonest first.
Dark Waters by Toni Anderson is a thriller I got from Amazon Vine. It will be released on August 6.

Awoken is a fantasy I got from Spencer Hill Press. It will be released on August 13.
Blood and Roses by A. K. Alexander is another thriller I got from Amazon Vine. It will be released on August 20.

My Totally Awkward Supernatural Crush by Laura Toffler-Corrie is a book I got from Macmillan Children's Publishing Group. It will be released on August 20 too.
Tumble & Fall by Alexandra Coutts is also an ARC I got from Macmillan. It will be released on September 13.

This Song Will Save Your Life by Leila Sales is also from Macmillan. It will be released on Sept. 17.
Finally, I have Horde by Ann Aguirre from Macmillan too. It will be released on October 29.

My Kindle Review Pile

Here is what I have on the Kindle or Adobe Digital Editions for review. These are also listed with the ones coming out soonest first.
When the Stars Threw Down Their Spears by Kersten Hamilton is an Adobe Digital Edition that I am reviewing by request of the author. It will be released on August 6.

Charmed Vengeance by Suzanne Lazear was one that I requested from NetGalley. It will be released on August 8.
The Deepest Night by Shana Abe was also one I requested from NetGalley. It will be released on August 13.

Good as Gone by Douglas Corleone was May's eGalley from Minotaur books. It is a thriller that will be released on August 20.
The Edge of Normal by Carla Norton was June's eGalley from Minotaur books. This thriller will be released on September 10.

Will in Scarlet by Matthew Cody was an auto-approve from NetGalley. It will be released on October 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. Aberration by Lisa Regan
  2. Mortal Fire by Elizabeth Knox
  3. The Girl Who Was Supposed to Die by April Henry
  4. The Pirate's Wish by Cassandra Rose Clarke
  5. Ink (The Paper Gods) by Amanda Sun
  6. Neptune's Tears by Susan Waggoner
  7. Famous Last Words by Jennifer Salvato Doktorski (June 29)
  8. Luck of the Dragon by Susannah Scott (June 29)
  9. The King's Deception by Steve Berry (July 3)
I Added These Books

These are listed in the order I received them. Links go to Amazon. Date received and date published are listed in parentheses.
  1. Will in Scarlet by Matthew Cody (6/6; October 8)
  2. The King's Deception by Steve Berry (6/15; June 11)
  3. Awoken by Timothy Miller (6/15; August 13)
  4. Luck of the Dragon by Susannah Scott (6/15; June 24)
  5. The Edge of Normal by Carla Norton (6/18; September 10)
Next Month's Plan

I will be attending ALA at the end of the week and expect my Review stack to really grow. Otherwise, I will be concentrating on reading the books that come out in August when I get back from ALA. There are eight of them which should keep me sufficiently busy.

What is the state of your stack?

Sunday, June 23, 2013

Stacking the YA Shelves (June 23, 2013)

Tynga of 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.

This week I added five books to my stack.
After seeing it on a blog, I decided I had to have Venom by Fiona Paul. I was intrigued by the historical setting.

Crossing the Line by Katie McGarry is a eNovella that I had to have. She is quickly becoming one of my favorite authors of contemporaries. 
I received Awoken by Timothy Miller from Spencer Hill Press for review. It will be released on August 13.
I also downloaded the two SYNC titles this week. You have until Wednesday to get them for yourself.

Once by Morris Gleitzman is a story of a young Polish Jew during World War II. I hadn't heard of the book before it became a SYNC title but look forward to listening to it. 

Letter from Birmingham Jail by Martin Luther King Jr. was the companion title. I have heard of this one but never read it. 

What did you get this week?

Saturday, June 22, 2013

ARC Review: Neptune's Tears by Susan Waggoner

Neptune's Tears
Author: Susan Waggoner
Publication: Henry Holt and Co. (BYR) (June 25, 2013)

Description: London, 2218 A.D. Seventeen-year-old Zee is an intern empath. She’s focused on her job, poised for a great career—until one day an attractive patient undoes her hard-earned calm. As an empath, she cannot afford such distractions, but neither can she stay away from David, even when she discovers he’s one of a mysterious alien race. As London comes under attack by anarchist bombings, and as Zee struggles to get a handle on her unusually strong psychic abilities, David starts pulling away. Although Zee’s sure he’s attracted to her, David has secrets he cannot share. But it’s too late for Zee. She’s losing her heart to the gray-eyed alien boy, and she’s determined to follow him—no matter how far it may take her.

My Thoughts: NEPTUNE'S TEARS was an engaging science fiction romance with excellent world-building and interesting characters. Zee is seventeen and an empath-in-training who works in a hospital. She is very happy in her career and very focused until she meets David Sutton, accident victim and alien.

Aliens arrived on Earth when Zee was six and were not what anyone had been expecting. They were just like us except taller. They were also interested in our art and culture. David had been injured when a large shelf of Nancy Drew books fell on his head. Zee was supposed to convince him to stay in hospital but he was determined to leave. Then insta-love takes over and they both feel a connection...

London and, in fact, the world is being subjected to attacks by anarchists. One common weapon of choice is the shock bomb. A shock bomb explosion precipitates David and Zee's second meeting. They work together to help the victims. Then they begin dating thought David keeps telling her their relationship is impossible.

Weaving around the romance is Zee's relationship with one of her elderly patients who is dying of liver cancer. Mrs. Hart and Zee form a deep friendship and Mrs. Hart acts as a sounding board for Zee and encourages her to grab at life and love with both hands. 

Zee is also developing a new psychic talent. She might be a very rare diviner who will be incredibly useful in stopping further attacks by the anarchists. 

The story is filled with interesting detail, friendship, and romance. The only flaw that I can find is the extremely abrupt and unresolved ending. I sincerely hope that a book two is in the works. 

Favorite Quote:
Zee regretted that her little sister, born the year after the Landing, would never know their parents as they had been before, for Zee realized that her father's life had come to a stop that day. All over the world, people were waiting to see what the aliens would do, waiting to find out if it was the end of the world or the beginning.
I got this ARC from Macmillan. You can buy your copy here.

Friday, June 21, 2013

Friday Memes: Neptune's Tears by Susan Waggoner

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 a review book from Macmillan. Neptune's Tears by Susan Waggoner is a science fiction story which will be released on June 25. Here is the description:
London, 2218 A.D. Seventeen-year-old Zee is an intern empath. She’s focused on her job, poised for a great career—until one day an attractive patient undoes her hard-earned calm. As an empath, she cannot afford such distractions, but neither can she stay away from David, even when she discovers he’s one of a mysterious alien race. As London comes under attack by anarchist bombings, and as Zee struggles to get a handle on her unusually strong psychic abilities, David starts pulling away. Although Zee’s sure he’s attracted to her, David has secrets he cannot share. But it’s too late for Zee. She’s losing her heart to the gray-eyed alien boy, and she’s determined to follow him—no matter how far it may take her.
Beginning:
Zee hesitated for the second it took the blue light to flash green, then passed through the arch and into the Accident & Emergency waiting room. 
Friday 56: 
The vactrain to Brighton took less than fifteen minutes, but the queue was the longest she'd ever seen. 

Thursday, June 20, 2013

ARC Review: Ink (Paper Gods) by Amanda Sun

Ink (Paper Gods)
Author: Amanda Sun
Publication: Harlequin Teen; Original edition (June 25, 2013)

Description: Ink is in their blood.

On the heels of a family tragedy, Katie Greene must move halfway across the world. Stuck with her aunt in Shizuoka, Japan, Katie feels lost. Alone. She doesn't know the language, she can barely hold a pair of chopsticks and she can't seem to get the hang of taking her shoes off whenever she enters a building.

When Katie meets aloof but gorgeous Tomohiro, the star of the school's kendo team, she is intrigued by him…and a little scared. His tough attitude seems meant to keep her at a distance, and when they're near each other, strange things happen. Pens explode. Ink drips from nowhere. And unless Katie is seeing things, drawings come to life.

Somehow Tomo is connected to the kami, powerful ancient beings who once ruled Japan—and as feelings develop between Katie and Tomo, things begin to spiral out of control. The wrong people are starting to ask questions, and if they discover the truth, no one will be safe.

My Thoughts: I just came to the end of my eARC of INK and was surprised to see a glossary at the end. This would have been useful to have before (or while) reading the book. I did stumble over many of the Japanese words in this story that didn't always seem to be translated for the reader. I could feel what Katie felt being dumped into a culture not her own and trying to survive without drowning. Katie had the added burden of dealing with the sudden death of her mother which precipitated the move to Japan. She is also living with an aunt that she doesn't know very well.

It seems natural that Katie would be looking for connections and anchors and she seems to have found one in bad boy, artist, and kendo star Yuu Tomohiro. Of course her first impression of him comes when she accidentally overhears him cruelly breaking up with his girlfriend. He is hard for her to understand because sometimes he is kind and other times he is cruel. This seems to me to be a case of insta-love where she falls for his pretty exterior when not knowing anything about him.

The story takes a turn for the paranormal when Katie sees Tomo's drawing move and lift themselves from the paper. Katie's curiosity has her following him around town while he tries to discourage her interest. We gradually learn that he is a Kami and is afraid of the talents he has. Being a Kami also brings him to the attention of the local yakuza who want to use his powers for evil. Somehow Katie is enhancing Tomo's powers though her role wasn't really clear to me.

I think the strongest part of this story was the setting and seeing how Katie adjusts to living in Japan. I thought the romance was the weakest because I didn't see Tomo's attraction. I thought the mythology of the Kami was interesting and hope it is developed more in later books in this series.

Fans of the paranormal and especially my young anime fans who adore all things Japanese would be the best audience for this debut novel.

Favorite Quote:
I felt the heat rise up my neck. Yuki had not warned me he was so, well, pretty. Okay, gorgeous. I almost expected sparkles and rainbows to burst out of the walls anime-style, except his lips were turned up in a smirk, and the way he crumpled against the wall exuded a smug superiority.
After hearing lots of buzz about this title, I requested it from NetGalley. You can buy your copy here.

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

WoW: In the After by Demitria Lunetta

Waiting on Wednesday is a meme hosted by Jill at Breaking the Spine. She has a linky widget at her site each week for your post and to make it easy to find posts by other people.

The purpose of the meme is to spotlight books that we are eagerly anticipating. It is fun to take a look at what others are waiting for. I have noticed that it has expanded my wishlist though. Be warned!


Looking at June releases makes me want to add a number to my stack. High on the list is In the After by Demitria Lunetta. Here is the description of this June 25 release:
In this heart-stopping postapocalyptic thriller from debut author Demitria Lunetta, one courageous girl must navigate a world that has been overtaken by Them—vile creatures that are rapidly devouring mankind. Perfect for fans of books like Marie Lu's LegendIn the After examines a harrowing place where day-to-day survival is never guaranteed. . . .

In what seems like an instant, Amy Harris's life is changed forever. They arrive and quickly begin killing off humanity one by one. No one knows how they got here—and even worse, no one knows how to stop Them.

Marooned in a high-security house, Amy manages to stay alive—and even rescues "Baby," a toddler she finds in an abandoned supermarket. For years they escape death, forging a bond as strong as sisters, until they are finally rescued and taken to New Hope, a colony of survivors living on a former government research compound.

On the surface, New Hope is the happy ending Amy was looking for. She's even started falling for Rice, a handsome researcher she's become close with at the facility. But then she makes a shocking discovery. And staying in New Hope could mean losing her freedom . . . or her life.

With pulse-pounding narrow escapes and horrifying twists of fate, In the After is an action-packed dystopian page-turner that will keep fans guessing until each secret is revealed and every lie is uncovered.
What do you think? Will this one go on your wishlist?

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Teaser Tuesday: Ink (Paper Gods) by Amanda Sun

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!

This week my teaser comes from Ink (Paper Gods) by Amanda Sun which will be released on June 25. I became excited by the buzz about this title, requested it at NetGalley, and was approved. Here is the description:
Ink is in their blood.

On the heels of a family tragedy, Katie Greene must move halfway across the world. Stuck with her aunt in Shizuoka, Japan, Katie feels lost. Alone. She doesn't know the language, she can barely hold a pair of chopsticks and she can't seem to get the hang of taking her shoes off whenever she enters a building.

When Katie meets aloof but gorgeous Tomohiro, the star of the school's kendo team, she is intrigued by him…and a little scared. His tough attitude seems meant to keep her at a distance, and when they're near each other, strange things happen. Pens explode. Ink drips from nowhere. And unless Katie is seeing things, drawings come to life.

Somehow Tomo is connected to the kami, powerful ancient beings who once ruled Japan—and as feelings develop between Katie and Tomo, things begin to spiral out of control. The wrong people are starting to ask questions, and if they discover the truth, no one will be safe.
Teaser: 
She'd picked me up at the airport with the same overexcitement, waving wildly at me to make us even more of a spectacle. "Katie!" she'd screeched, like this was some kind of fun vacation, like we weren't terrified of each other.

Sunday, June 16, 2013

Stacking the YA Shelves (June 16, 2013)

Tynga of 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. 

LibraryThing says that my YA TBR stack has reached 426 books but I still added these to my stack.
Momento Nora by Angie Smibert was one of the YA Summer Kindle Deals. I have been wanting to read it.

Mind Games by Kiersten White was also a YA Summer Kindle Deal. I read the ARC but wanted to have a finished copy in my collection.
I also downloaded the free SYNC audiobooks this week. This week's selections were Bless Me, Ultima by Rudolfo Anaya which I have never heard of and The Raven Boys by Maggie Stiefvater. I have a print copy of that one somewhere on TBR mountain. You have until June 19 to get these.
I couldn't resist these two Kindle Daily Deals. Between the Lines by Jodi Picoult and Samantha Van Leer will be my first Jodi Picoult book. 

Keeper by Kathi Appelt has been on my wishlist for a while and the price was right.
Finally this week, I got an email from NetGalley offering me Scaredy Squirrel Goes Camping by Melanie Watt. I couldn't resist. My students and I love the adventures of this character. I won't be reviewing it on my blog but you can see what I thought of this one at GoodReads or Amazon.

What did you get this week? Is your TBR stack as overwhelming as mine?

Saturday, June 15, 2013

Book Review: The Name of the Star by Maureen Johnson

The Name of the Star
Author: Maureen Johnson
Publication: Putnam Juvenile; First Edition edition (September 29, 2011)

Description: New York Times bestseller Maureen Johnson takes on Jack the Ripper in this captivating paranormal thriller!

The day that Louisiana teenager Rory Deveaux arrives in London to start a new life at boarding school is also the day a series of brutal murders breaks out over the city, killings mimicking the horrific Jack the Ripper spree of more than a century ago. Soon "Rippermania" takes hold of modern-day London, and the police are left with few leads and no witnesses. Except one. Rory spotted the man police believe to be the prime suspect. But she is the only one who saw him--the only one who can see him. And now Rory has become his next target. In this edge-of-your-seat thriller, full of suspense, humor, and romance, Rory will learn the truth about the secret ghost police of London and discover her own shocking abilities.


My Thoughts: Rory Devaux, Louisiana teenager, comes to London to attend boarding school while her law professor parents are spending a year teaching at Bristol. She is excited to be experiencing English boarding schools for herself. Her boarding school happens to be in the same area that was terrorized by Jack the Ripper in 1888. Now it looks like Jack is back. Someone is recreating the murders despite the prevalence of CCTV cameras all over London. 

Naturally, Rory and her friends are fascinated by these crimes but Rory never expects to be the only witness to one of the murders. Especially since her roommate Jazza didn't see the man even though she was with her. It doesn't take long for Rory to be swept into a world she didn't know about. She learns about a special part of the London police who deal with ghosts. It seems that sometimes, when a teenager has a near death experience, they come back able to see ghosts. Rory didn't think choking on a chunk of beef would have those consequences.

I liked the character of Rory. She was self-confident, brave, and had a quirky sense of humor. I liked her friends Jazza and Jerome. Though I didn't really buy the romance between Rory and Jerome despite the amount of "snogging" the two of them did. I liked the mystery aspect of the story, too, and thought the tension built nicely to a powerful climax. I thought her police friends -- Stephen, Callum, and Boo -- were well-drawn characters with distinct personalities. 

Fans of boarding schools, mysteries, ghosts, and Jack the Ripper will enjoy this story. 

Favorite Quote:
I decided to deflect her attitude by giving a long, Southern answer. I come from people who know how to draw things out. Annoy a Southerner, and we will drain away the moments of your life with our slow, detailed replies until you are nothing but a husk of your former self and that much closer to death. 
This one has been on my TBR mountain since Sept. 2011. I bought it. You can buy your copy here

Friday, June 14, 2013

Friday Memes: The Name of the Star by Maureen Johnson

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 dug deep into my TBR mountain and pulled out The Name of the Star by Maureen Johnson. It has been sitting  on my stack since Sept. 29, 2011. I remember being intrigued by the idea of this paranormal mystery. Here is the description:
New York Times bestseller Maureen Johnson takes on Jack the Ripper in this captivating paranormal thriller!

The day that Louisiana teenager Rory Deveaux arrives in London to start a new life at boarding school is also the day a series of brutal murders breaks out over the city, killings mimicking the horrific Jack the Ripper spree of more than a century ago. Soon "Rippermania" takes hold of modern-day London, and the police are left with few leads and no witnesses. Except one. Rory spotted the man police believe to be the prime suspect. But she is the only one who saw him--the only one who can see him. And now Rory has become his next target. In this edge-of-your-seat thriller, full of suspense, humor, and romance, Rory will learn the truth about the secret ghost police of London and discover her own shocking abilities.
Beginning:
If you live around New Orleans and they think a hurricane might be coming, all hell breaks loose. Not among the residents, really, but on the news. 
Friday 56:
I pinned my course syllabus to the cork wall and stared it down. Everyone else in this room was calmly carrying on. No one had, to my knowledge, read their course assignments and tried to escape through a chimney.