Thursday, July 31, 2014

ARC Review: Frostborn by Lou Anders

Frostborn
Author: Lou Anders
Series: Thrones and Bones (Book 1)
Publication: Crown Books for Young Readers (August 5, 2014)

Description: Fantasy fans of Rick Riordan’s Percy Jackson and John Flanagan’s Ranger’s Apprentice series will embrace this first novel in an adventure-filled, Viking-inspired series by a debut author.

Meet Karn. He is destined to take over the family farm in Norrøngard. His only problem? He’d rather be playing the board game Thrones and Bones.

Enter Thianna. Half human, half frost giantess. She’s too tall to blend in with other humans but too short to be taken seriously as a giant.

When family intrigues force Karn and Thianna to flee into the wilderness, they have to keep their sense of humor and their wits about them. But survival can be challenging when you’re being chased by a 1,500-year-old dragon, Helltoppr the undead warrior and his undead minions, an evil uncle, wyverns, and an assortment of trolls and giants.

Readers will embark on a sweeping epic fantasy as they join Karn and Thianna on a voyage of discovery.

Antics and hair-raising escapades abound in this fantasy adventure as the two forge a friendship and journey to unknown territory. Their plan: to save their families from harm.

Debut novelist Lou Anders has created a rich world of over twenty-five countries inhabited by Karn, Thianna, and an array of fantastical creatures, as well as the Thrones and Bones board game.

My Thoughts: FROSTBORN was a great middle grade adventure novel that mines Viking culture for its background. Karn Karlundsson is a twelve-year-old farmboy who is heir to his father's large farm. Karn, however, is more interested in playing the board game Thrones and Bones and dreaming about far off places. He meets Thianna who is half frost giant and half human when his father meets the frost giants to trade. Thianna wants to think of herself as only a frost giant and not have anything to do with the humans she thinks are small and weak.

The two kids do become friends which is a good thing because both of them have enemies who wish them harm. Thianna is constantly bullied by Thrudgelmir who doesn't think that she should be considered a giant. Karn's enemy is more subtle. His Uncle Ori is jealous that Karn will be inheriting the prosperous farm despite the fact that he and Karn's father are twins.

Thianna also has another enemy. A soldier named Sydia is searching for Thianna's mother and the object that she stole when she ran away. Thianna has the object but doesn't know what it is. She only knows that it was her mother's and she doesn't want to give it to Sydia.

Thianna goes on the run when Sydia threatens her family; Karn goes on the run when his uncle tricks him into battling Helltopper. When his father steps in and is turned to stone, Ori convinces Karn that he will be accused of killing his father. The two kids run separately but do find each other and each helps the other survive all sorts of dangerous situations. Both kids use the strengths they have and develop new ones as they travel. I really liked their battle with Orm who is an especially large dragon who guards an abandoned city because they had to rely on their brains to find a solution.

Fans of adventure will enjoy this story.

Favorite Quote:
"Sydia, her two lackeys, three draug, Thrudgelmir," Karn ticked them off on his fingers. "That's a lot of enemies between us."
I got this eARC from NetGalley. You can buy your copy here.

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Book Review: Steel by Carrie Vaughn

Steel
Author: Carrie Vaughn
Publication: HarperTeen (March 15, 2011)

Description: It was a slender length of rusted steel, tapered to a point at one end and jagged at the other, as if it had broken. A thousand people would step over it and think it trash, but not her.

This was the tip of a rapier.

Sixteen-year-old Jill has fought in dozens of fencing tournaments, but she has never held a sharpened blade. When she finds a corroded sword piece on a Caribbean beach, she is instantly intrigued and pockets it as her own personal treasure.

The broken tip holds secrets, though, and it transports Jill through time to the deck of a pirate ship. Stranded in the past and surrounded by strangers, she is forced to sign on as crew. But a pirate's life is bloody and brief, and as Jill learns about the dark magic that brought her there, she forms a desperate scheme to get home—one that risks everything in a duel to the death with a villainous pirate captain.

Time travel, swordplay, and romance combine in an original high-seas adventure from New York Times bestseller Carrie Vaughn.

My Thoughts: STEEL was a fun romp with pirates, swordplay, time travel and a hint of romance. Jill is disappointed with herself for finishing fourth in the fencing tournament that would have taken her to nationals had she been able to finish in the top three. Her parents plan a Caribbean vacation and, while the rest of the family is having fun, Jill is brooding.  She goes for a walk along the beach and find the tip of a rapier which she picks up and puts in her pocket.

The next day the family goes on a tour boat around the island. A sudden squall tips Jill overboard and when she get to the surface she has shifted time and is in the water after a pirate attack. She is rescued by one of the pirate ships and is given the choice of joining the crew or being put back overboard. She chooses joining the crew and is surprised to find out the captain really wants that piece of rapier that Jill has. The piece will lead her to the rest of the rapier which is in the hands of a fearsome pirate that is the bitter rival of Jill's captain.

A lot of time is spent talking about pirate life in the 1700s and Jill swabs a lot of decks as she learns to fit in with the crew. She meets another crew member named Henry who teaches her to use a rapier and fight the way pirates do.

All along, Jill is trying to find a way to get back home. She wonders if her captain's rival knows the way since he has the bigger part of the sword. The pirates have a few battles, visit some islands, and hunt for the dread Edmund Blane.

This was a fun story for fans of fencing and/or pirates.

Favorite Quote:
Jill slept lightly and with dreams of falling, of being underwater and not being able to swim. She was a good swimmer; nothing should have been able to keep her from the surface. But something was holding her down, anchoring her. And she thrashed awake; the dreaming sense of vertigo didn't go away. She was still on a ship surrounded by strangers, uncertain of the place and time. She'd never felt so helpless.

I bought this one on March 15, 2011. You can buy your copy here.

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Teaser Tuesday: Frostborn by Lou Anders

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!

Teaser:
She was armed only with her determination. But she carried something else.

It was that something else they were after. It couldn't do her much good here, but back home it could change her world. For good or for ill. Mostly for ill, which was why she had taken it, and why they had followed her.
This week my teaser comes from Frostborn by Lou Anders. Anders is a debut author and this book begins a series. I got this eARC from NetGalley. Here is the description of this August 5 release.
Fantasy fans of Rick Riordan’s Percy Jackson and John Flanagan’s Ranger’s Apprentice series will embrace this first novel in an adventure-filled, Viking-inspired series by a debut author.

Meet Karn. He is destined to take over the family farm in Norrøngard. His only problem? He’d rather be playing the board game Thrones and Bones.

Enter Thianna. Half human, half frost giantess. She’s too tall to blend in with other humans but too short to be taken seriously as a giant.

When family intrigues force Karn and Thianna to flee into the wilderness, they have to keep their sense of humor and their wits about them. But survival can be challenging when you’re being chased by a 1,500-year-old dragon, Helltoppr the undead warrior and his undead minions, an evil uncle, wyverns, and an assortment of trolls and giants.

Readers will embark on a sweeping epic fantasy as they join Karn and Thianna on a voyage of discovery.

Antics and hair-raising escapades abound in this fantasy adventure as the two forge a friendship and journey to unknown territory. Their plan: to save their families from harm.

Debut novelist Lou Anders has created a rich world of over twenty-five countries inhabited by Karn, Thianna, and an array of fantastical creatures, as well as the Thrones and Bones board game.

Monday, July 28, 2014

State of the Stack (July 28, 2014)

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.  


I also do this post because sometimes (frequently) review books sit on my stack for a while before I read and review them. I try to read and review books within two weeks of publication date. Sometimes I can't, though, if too many books are releasing on the same date or if the book arrives too near its publication date and my calendar is already full. 

I am very grateful to the authors and publishers who support my reading habit. 

My Review Pile

September
Wood Sprites by Wen Spencer (Sept. 2)
Rites of Passage by Joy N. Hensley (Sept. 9)
The Magic Thief: Home by Sarah Prineas (Sept. 16)
Get Even by Gretchen McNeil (Sept. 16)
Blackbird by Anna Carey (Sept. 16)
The Vault of the Dreamers by Caragh M. O'Brien (Sept. 16)
Evidence of Things Not Seen by Lindsey Lane (Sept. 16)
Firebug by Lish McBride (Sept. 23)
Tabula Rasa by Kristen Lippert-Martin (Sept. 23)
Adrenaline Crush by Laurie Boyle Crompton (Sept. 23)
Unmade by Sarah Rees Brennan (Sept. 23)
Salt & Storm by Kendall Kulper (Sept. 23)

October 
The Diamond Thief by Sharon Gosling (Oct. 1)
Stray by Elissa Sussman (Oct. 7)
Kiss Kill Vanish by Jessica Martinez (Oct. 7)
Exquisite Captive by Heather Demetrios (Oct. 7)
Rain Reign by Ann M. Martin (Oct. 7)
Thursdays with the Crown by Jessica Day George (Oct. 7)
Snow Like Ashes by Sara Raasch (Oct. 14)
Even in Paradise by Chelsey Philpot (Oct. 14)
Clariel by Garth Nix (Oct. 14)
Beware the Wild by Natalie C. Parker (Oct. 21)
Centaur Rising by Jane Yolen (Oct. 21)
Get Happy by Mary Amato (Oct. 28)

November
Killer Instinct by Jennifer Lynn Barnes (Nov. 4)
The Book of Storms by Ruth (Nov. 11)
On the Edge by Allison Van Diepen (Nov. 25)

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. For All Time by Jude Deveraux
  2. Visions by Kelley Armstrong (Aug. 14)
  3. For Her Spy Only by Robyn DeHart
  4. Love's Justice by Joan Avery
  5. Guilt by Association by Marcia Clark (Aug. 6)
  6. Bones Never Lie by Kathy Reichs (Sept. 18)
  7. Burn for Me by Ilona Andrews (Oct. 23)
  8. Feral by Holly Schindler (Aug. 23)
  9. No Limits by Lori Foster (Sept. 11)
  10. Anatomy of a Misfit by Andrea Portes (Aug. 20)
  11. Starry Night by Isabel Gillies (Aug. 28)
  12. The Jewel by Amy Ewing (Aug. 27)
  13. Don't Touch by Rachel M. Wilson (Aug. 30)
Read Last Month, Reviews Posted This Month
  1. Midnight Thief by Livia Blackburne
  2. Wild by Alex Mallory 
  3. The Kiss of Deception by Mary E. Pearson 
  4. Cast in Flame by Michelle Sagara 
  5. Shipwreck Island by S. A. Bodeen 
  6. Invincible by Diana Palmer 
I Added These Books

These are listed in the order I received them. Links go to Amazon. Date published is listed in parentheses. I have included cover pictures for the ones already read.
  1. For Her Spy Only by Robyn DeHart (July 21)
  2. Love's Justice by Joan Avery (July 21)
  3. Unmade by Sarah Rees Brennan (Sept. 23)
  4. The Book of Life by Deborah Harkness (July 15)
  5. Anatomy of a Misfit by Andrea Portes (Sept. 2)
  6. The Jewel by Amy Ewing (Sept. 2)
Next Month's Plan

I would really, really like to read and schedule the review posts for all of the September releases on my stack before I go back to work on August 25. Once my new school year starts, my reading time diminishes. With the number of books I need to read and review in September and October, I need all the headstart I can get. I have already read and scheduled reviews for five September releases and one October release and it doesn't feel like I've lowered the stack at all.

Sunday, July 27, 2014

Stacking the YA Shelves (July 27, 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 downloaded the two YA SYNC audiobooks that were offered. The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde by Robert Louis Stevenson and Headstrong by Patrick Link. I haven't read either of them before. You can still download these two until Thursday here.
I bought Asylum by Madeleine Roux because I will be attending an author event featuring her this fall. Normally, I avoid horror but I wanted something for her to autograph. This may go directly to my high school media center unread. 

I also bought The Strange Maid by Tessa Gratton. I recently read The Lost Sun and wanted to continue the story. 

What did you add to your stacks this week?

Saturday, July 26, 2014

ARC Review: Shipwreck Island by S. A. Bodeen

Shipwreck Island
Author: S. A. Bodeen
Series: Shipwreck Island (Book 1)
Publication: Feiwel & Friends (July 29, 2014)

Description: Sarah Robinson is deeply troubled in the wake of her dad’s second marriage. She now has to deal with a new stepmom and two stepbrothers, Marco, who is her age, and Nacho, who’s younger. Even though they’ve all moved from Texas to California to start life as a new, blended family, none of the kids seem remotely happy about it.

Sarah’s dad and stepmom then decide to take the whole family on a special vacation in order to break the ice and have everyone get to know one another. They’ll fly to Tahiti, charter a boat, and go sailing for a few days. It’ll be an adventure, right?

Wrong. Dead wrong.

Shipwreck Island is the first installment in a series from S.A. Bodeen.

My Thoughts: This first book in a series introduces the characters and sets the scene for the rest of the series. Twelve-year-old Sarah Robinson wasn't at all happy when her widowed father married Yvonna Murillo after meeting her online. Worst of all Yvonna comes with two sons - twelve-year-old Marco and ten-year-old Nacho. Sarah is sure that Yvonna married her father for his money and is determined not to like her or her sons.

Marco wasn't happy about the marriage either. He had to leave all his friends in Texas to move to California. Nacho is more accepting of the marriage because he wants his mom to be happy. Nacho is a bit of a germophobe. His suitcase was packed with hand sanitizer and the materials he needs to work on his merit badges as an Eco-Scout.

The parents have decided that the best way to unite the family is to go on a family cruise. First they have to spend 36 or more hours on planes flying from California to Figi via Shanghai and Sydney. Once they arrive on Fiji, they find that the luxury sailboat that is supposed to be waiting for them has been vastly misrepresented. They decide to go anyway despite the peeling paint, mildewed sails, and grunge below the waterline. Barely out of port they run into a storm. During the storm, the captain is killed, the mast breaks off, and no one knows if an SOS has been sent.

They wake the next morning to find clear weather and the sailboat rammed into some rocks near an island. They transfer what they can salvage to the island which seems like a tropical paradise at first glance. It doesn't take long for weird things to start happening. Sarah sees a kangaroo with long claws; Marco sees a four-winged bird with a mouthful of sharp teeth. Neither tells their parents about these things because they hope they were seeing things. Marco and Sarah's father also discover an abandoned cabin that Marco finds really spooky.

After an attack by huge coconut crabs and spending a night in the trees, they take refuge in a cave to avoid a weird red thing in the sky. Then there are the weird wails that come and an unconscious girl on the beach...

Than the book ends.... Talk about cliffhanger endings. I am filled with questions about what is going on there on the island. Middle grade readers will be demanding the sequel RIGHT NOW!

Favorite Quote:
As they headed out of the clearing, Marco turned and looked at the house one more time. He knew he would come back to that place to help haul the water and pick fruit and swim in the waterfall pool. But only in the daytime. And, if he could help it, he would never spend a night in that house.

Because, for some reason, he had a feeling that whoever had lived there...might just mind after all.
I got this ARC from Macmillan. You can buy your copy here. 

Friday, July 25, 2014

Friday Memes: Shipwreck Island by S. A. Bodeen

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 Shipwreck Island by S. A. Bodeen. I got this ARC from Macmillan. Here is the description of this July 29 release:
Sarah Robinson is deeply troubled in the wake of her dad’s second marriage. She now has to deal with a new stepmom and two stepbrothers, Marco, who is her age, and Nacho, who’s younger. Even though they’ve all moved from Texas to California to start life as a new, blended family, none of the kids seem remotely happy about it.

Sarah’s dad and stepmom then decide to take the whole family on a special vacation in order to break the ice and have everyone get to know one another. They’ll fly to Tahiti, charter a boat, and go sailing for a few days. It’ll be an adventure, right?

Wrong. Dead wrong.

Shipwreck Island is the first installment in a series from S.A. Bodeen.
Beginning:
Sarah Robinson had been ordered to pack a suitcase and, to the best of her ability, she was going to use the task to express her displeasure at the mess her life had become.
Friday 56:
He was getting the feeling that the trip was like a test of some sort for the Robinsons, to see if this new family was going to work. So far, really, it couldn't have been going any worse.

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Book Review: The Nightmare Affair by Mindee Arnett

The Nightmare Affair
Author: Mindee Arnett
Series: Arkwell Academy (Book 1)
Publisher: Tor Teen; First Edition edition (March 5, 2013)

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.

Literally.

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.

My Thoughts: THE NIGHTMARE AFFAIR was a fun story with some interesting characters. Dusty Everhart is a Nightmare. She has just recently come into her power. Because she is Halfkind with a human father and a Nightmare mother odds were good that she would never develop her magic at all. When she did, she found herself at Arkwell Academy which is the boarding school for magickind. She is just learning magic and sometimes her spells don't work quite the way she plans.

Because she is a Nightmare she has to feed from ordinaries while they sleep. One night she sneaks into Eli Booker's house and something strange happens. Eli goes to the same school as Dusty did before she knew she was magickind. She has always had sort of crush on him because he's the tall, dark, and handsome sort and also nice. Dusty learns that she is a special sort of Nightmare called a Dreamseer and Eli is her partner. Since the first dream they share shows the death of another student at Arkwell after she was murdered, they quickly get involved in trying to find out who killed her and why.

Eli is transferred to Arkwell which he really resents because he doesn't have any magical talent himself. And, as an athlete, transferring to a school with no sports teams just adds to his resentment. He and Dusty spend a lot of time being snitty to each other. But that's okay with Dusty. She has a boyfriend in Paul Kirkwood who is the son of a prominent magical family but doesn't have any magic himself.

Dusty also has to deal with cryptic warnings from her mother as she investigates. Dusty's relationship with her mother isn't easy both because she feels her mother abandoned her and her father when she learned that Dusty didn't have magic and because her mother has a bad reputation for the way she uses her magic.

The world of magic in this story was well-developed and filled with interesting characters from sirens for roommates to werewolves guarding the campus. I thought the mystery was well developed too with both clues and red herrings scattered throughout the story.

This would be fun for students who like paranormals, boarding school stories, and mysteries.

Favorite Quote:
"You can stop pretending," Eli said. "I can see your eyes moving behind your eyelids."

I peered over at him. "It's not called Rapid Eye Movement for nothing."

He smiled. "You must be feeling better if you're being snotty already."
This one came off my TBR mountain. You can buy your copy here.

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!

Teaser:
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.

Literally.

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.
Beginning:
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

Starglass
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.

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Book Review: Changeling by Philippa Gregory

Changeling
Author: Philippa Gregory
Series: Order of Darkness (Book 1)
Publication: Simon Pulse; Book Club edition (May 29, 2012)

Description: Dark myths, medieval secrets, intrigue, and romance populate the pages of the first-ever teen series from #1 bestselling author of The Other Boleyn Girl.

Italy, 1453. Seventeen-year-old Luca Vero is brilliant, gorgeous—and accused of heresy. Cast out of his religious order for using the new science to question old superstitious beliefs, Luca is recruited into a secret sect: The Order of the Dragon, commissioned by Pope Nicholas V to investigate evil and danger in its many forms, and strange occurrences across Europe, in this year—the end of days.

Isolde is a seventeen-year-old girl shut up in a nunnery so she can’t inherit any of her father’s estate. As the nuns walk in their sleep and see strange visions, Isolde is accused of witchcraft—and Luca is sent to investigate her, but finds himself plotting her escape.

Despite their vows, despite themselves, love grows between Luca and Isolde as they travel across Europe with their faithful companions, Freize and Ishraq. The four young people encounter werewolves, alchemists, witches, and death-dancers as they head toward a real-life historical figure who holds the boundaries of Christendom and the secrets of the Order of the Dragon.

The first in a series, this epic and richly detailed drama is grounded in historical communities and their mythic beliefs. It includes a medieval map of Europe that will track their journey; and the interior will include relevant decorative elements as well as an interior line illustration. And look for a QR code that links to a note from the author with additional, detailed information about the setting and the history that informed the writing. With Philippa Gregory’s trademark touch, this novel deftly brings the past—and its salacious scandals—vividly and disturbingly to life.

My Thoughts: This would be a great book for people interested in history and interested in the world view of those who lived it. Luca Vero has been kicked out of his monastery for being too smart, too beautiful, and too curious. He is recruited into a secret order founded by Pope Nicholas V. His charge is to investigate the strange occurrences that are becoming common in 1453. The Pope is convinced that mankind is nearing the ends of days. He sends Luca out to make a map of the fears of the world.

In his first investigation, Luca, his clerk Brother Peter, and his servant Frieze are sent to investigate an abbey where the nuns seem to be going mad. The new Lady Abbess is Isolde who should be the heiress to the Castle of Lucretili but her brother forced her out after her father's death saying that her father changed his will and left everything to his son after all. Isolde and her servant Ishraq, Moorish and brought home from the Holy Land as a child, are sent to the abbey but Isolde is still grieving for her beloved father and isn't able to take charge with all the plots surrounding her.

While Luca does solve the mystery at the abbey, it is too late for Isolde who has been convicted of witchcraft and disowned by her "grieving" brother. She and Ishraq manage to flee before they are burned at the stake. They meet again on the road and decide to travel together until their paths part. Luca to investigate as he is commanded and Isolde to travel to Hungary to ask her godfather to help her regain her inheritance.

The historical detail was wonderful. The characters spanned a broad spectrum of medieval society and thought. But this didn't feel like a novel. It is clearly the beginning of a series of books that will have further adventures of Luca, Isolde, and crew as they wend their way through medieval Europe. This was just the first two episodes of that greater journey.

Favorite Quote:
"Sleepwalking, visions, the nuns fasting on feast days, starving themselves and fainting in the chapel. Some of them are seeing lights in the sky, like the star before the Magi, and then some  wanted to set off for Bethlehem and had to be restrained. The people of the village and the servants from the castle say they're all going mad. They say the whole abbey is touched with madness and the women are losing their wits."
I bought this one. You can buy your copy here.