Sunday, May 31, 2015

Stacking the YA Shelves (May 31, 2015)

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 bought two hardcover books this week because I intend to donate them to my Middle School/High School Media Center after I finish them.

I am a big fan of Katie McGarry's work and can't wait to read Nowhere But Here.

I was also intrigued by The Girl at Midnight by Melissa Grey and decided to buy a copy. Until I saw it on a list recently I hadn't heard of it. Fantasy is one of my favorite genres.
Considering my love of fantasy, this week's SYNC audiobooks were just perfect for me. The Ring and the Crown by Melissa De La Cruz and Sea Hearts by Margo Lanagan both sound amazing.

What did you add to your stack?

Saturday, May 30, 2015

Book Review: The Ruby Circle by Richelle Mead

The Ruby Circle
Author: Richelle Mead
Series: Bloodlines, Book 6
Publication: Razorbill (February 10, 2015)

Description: The epic conclusion to Richelle Mead's New York Times bestselling Bloodlines series is finally here...

Sydney Sage is an Alchemist, one of a group of humans who dabble in magic and serve to bridge the worlds of humans and vampires. They protect vampire secrets—and human lives.

After their secret romance is exposed, Sydney and Adrian find themselves facing the wrath of both the Alchemists and the Moroi in this electrifying conclusion to Richelle Mead’s New York Times bestselling Bloodlines series. When the life of someone they both love is put on the line, Sydney risks everything to hunt down a deadly former nemesis.  Meanwhile, Adrian becomes enmeshed in a puzzle that could hold the key to a shocking secret about spirit magic, a secret that could shake the entire Moroi world.

My Thoughts: The finale to the Bloodlines series manages to tie up a number of loose ends and be an engaging adventure too.

Spoilers Ahead....

Sydney and Adrian are married and have taken refuge in the Moroi Court. However, neither one is accepted there and they spend most of their time in their suite with Adrian's mother. Jill is still missing and both Adrian and Sydney wish they could be out looking for her. Adrian is still dealing with how much he can use spirit egged on by the voice in his head of his Aunt Titania. Sydney is afraid that overuse will bring on the insanity that has caught others who overuse spirit. Adrian's spirit use is a matter of tension between them.

When Sydney is brought a possible clue to Jill's location by Ms. Terwilliger, she has to sneak out of court to try to find Jill. Meanwhile, Adrian has to stay both to keep up the appearance that Sydney is still there and to work with another spirit user who is searching for her missing sister. Both have numerous adventures involving many of the characters who have come to know through the series before reuniting in the final confrontation.

I am satisfied with the way this series ends. I will miss these characters. I liked that Mead left room to revisit these characters sometime in the future. I look forward to that possibility.

Favorite Quote:
"They really are amazing, aren't they?" he mused, admiring Declan as he slept in my arms. "Someone so small. . . who will have such enormous potential. Good, evil. Great acts, small acts. What will it be? What will he become?"
I bought this one. You can buy your copy here.

Friday, May 29, 2015

Friday Memes: The Ruby Circle by Richelle Mead

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 The Ruby Circle by Richelle Mead. This one has been sitting on my TBR mountain since it was published. It is the concluding volume to the Bloodlines series. Here is the description from Amazon:
The epic conclusion to Richelle Mead's New York Times bestselling Bloodlines series is finally here...

Sydney Sage is an Alchemist, one of a group of humans who dabble in magic and serve to bridge the worlds of humans and vampires. They protect vampire secrets—and human lives.

After their secret romance is exposed, Sydney and Adrian find themselves facing the wrath of both the Alchemists and the Moroi in this electrifying conclusion to Richelle Mead’s New York Times bestselling Bloodlines series. When the life of someone they both love is put on the line, Sydney risks everything to hunt down a deadly former nemesis.  Meanwhile, Adrian becomes enmeshed in a puzzle that could hold the key to a shocking secret about spirit magic, a secret that could shake the entire Moroi world.
Beginning:
Married life wasn't what I'd expected.
Friday 56:
"There's an enchantment on this display," Ms. Terwilliger explained, stepping back.

"Can you tell anything about it?" I asked. She was more sensitive to that sort of thing than I was. It was a skill that required practice.

Thursday, May 28, 2015

ARC Review: The Cage by Megan Shepherd

The Cage
Author: Megan Shepherd
Publication: Balzer + Bray (May 26, 2015)

Description: The Maze Runner meets Scott Westerfeld in this gripping new series about teens held captive in a human zoo by an otherworldly race. From Megan Shepherd, the acclaimed author of The Madman's Daughter trilogy.

When Cora Mason wakes in a desert, she doesn't know where she is or who put her there. As she explores, she finds an impossible mix of environments—tundra next to desert, farm next to jungle, and a strangely empty town cobbled together from different cultures—all watched over by eerie black windows. And she isn't alone.

Four other teenagers have also been taken: a beautiful model, a tattooed smuggler, a secretive genius, and an army brat who seems to know too much about Cora's past. None of them have a clue as to what happened, and all of them have secrets. As the unlikely group struggles for leadership, they slowly start to trust each other. But when their mysterious jailer—a handsome young guard called Cassian—appears, they realize that their captivity is more terrifying than they could ever imagine: Their captors aren't from Earth. And they have taken the five teenagers for an otherworldly zoo—where the exhibits are humans.

As a forbidden attraction develops between Cora and Cassian, she realizes that her best chance of escape might be in the arms of her own jailer—though that would mean leaving the others behind. Can Cora manage to save herself and her companions? And if so . . . what world lies beyond the walls of their cage?

My Thoughts: Cora awakens to find herself in a habitat with some other teens her age. Her last memory is of riding with her brother to a resort to meet with their parents. All of the others have also been snatched from their lives and put in the habitat too. They are being experimented on by aliens called the Kindred. Cora soon meets the Caretaker - Cassian - who explains what is required of them and befriends Cora.

The kids are paired up and Cora's partner is Lucky. He knew of Cora on Earth since she is a senator's daughter. But their relationship is closer than Cora can imagine. Cora has just spent 18 months in juvenile detention for manslaughter when she took the fall for her father's drunk driving which killed a woman - Lucky's mother. The experience has left her with claustrophobia and insomnia. It has also left her much stronger than she realizes.

A lot of time is spent developing the setting which pits the kids against each other. The other kids are a bullied genius, a girl who was sold by her Thai parents into what turns out to be a London escort agency, and an Australian near-criminal. Added to the mix is another girl who has been with the aliens since she was a young child. The alien scientists are constantly testing them and putting pressure on them. They seem to be doing things to isolate Cora from the rest of the group and force her to turn to Cassian. Shades of Stockholm Syndrome!

The story was an interesting psychological study. It clearly sets up sequels.

Favorite Quote:
He was quiet for some time, and then very slowly rubbed the scar on his neck. "I understand more than you think, I could not have observed humanity for this long without being affected by it. The others of my kind are fascinated by the brightly colored parts of humanity: your clothing, your architecture, the tricks you can perform. I'm not as interested in those. I like the quieter part, like how humans wish on stars knowing they won't be answered. And what you told me once, about how some mistakes are worth making. I have made mistakes myself." He took the glass and took another sip, as though he could swallow whatever painful memories pained him. "That is why your capacity for emotional depth intrigues me. The Kindred do not have those notions. Forgiveness. Sacrifice. They are remarkable traits."
I got this ARC from Edelweiss. You can buy your copy here.

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

ARC Review: Devoted by Jennifer Mathieu

Devoted
Author: Jennifer Mathieu
Publication: Roaring Brook Press (June 2, 2015)

Description: Rachel Walker is devoted to God. She prays every day, attends Calvary Christian Church with her family, helps care for her five younger siblings, dresses modestly, and prepares herself to be a wife and mother who serves the Lord with joy. But Rachel is curious about the world her family has turned away from, and increasingly finds that neither the church nor her homeschool education has the answers she craves. Rachel has always found solace in her beliefs, but now she can't shake the feeling that her devotion might destroy her soul.

My Thoughts: My thoughts are really scattered after reading this book. It shows a world that is so alien to me.

Rachel Walker is a member of a very strict religious sect where young women are taught to dress modestly so as not to incite lust in males and who are taught that their only future role is to be a helpmate to their husband. But Rachel is chafing at the restrictions of her life. She is smart and curious and doubts that she can fit. Not that she isn't devoted to God, she tries to pray and does believe but she has questions she knows she isn't allowed to ask. She sees her older sister Faith who is married with one baby and another on the way by age 20. She sees that her sister sees to fit into the life as if it were made for her.

When Lauren, a young woman who left the congregation six years ago, comes back home, Rachel has someone she can talk to. However, it has to be secret. Once someone leaves the strict Calvary Christian Church it is as though they are dead. Rachel uses the family computer, which she has taught herself to use and uses to manage her father's landscaping business, to begin sharing secret emails with Lauren. When her parents find out about the emails, they decide to send her to Journey of Faith, a camp that reprograms those who are straying. Rachel knows that the camp would change her to someone she isn't. She runs away to Lauren.

Lauren takes her in and helps her find her feet in a world that is really strange to her. Luckily, for both Lauren and Rachel, Lauren's boss at the veterinary clinic and his family help the girls. His real estate agent wife hires Rachel to organize her business which gives her some money and a chance to see what happens in the outside world. Their son Mark also shows her what boys can be like as he offers her friendship with no strings.

This book is great at portraying the range of emotions that Rachel feels. At one point she says that she alternates between mournfulness and euphoria. I enjoyed getting to know Rachel and am hopeful for her future.

Readers who wonder what it might be like inside the world shown on 19 Kids and Counting will enjoy this inside look from the perspective of a young woman who just doesn't fit there.

Favorite Quote:
What if God is saying Rachel, what is it you plan on doing now that I've gifted you with this mind and this heart and this itch to know about the deepest parts of the ocean and the highest crests of the mountains and the darkest edges of space?

What is it you plan to do, Rachel Walker, with this one life I've given you?
I got this ARC from Macmillan. You can buy your copy here.

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Teaser Tuesday: The Cage by Megan Shepherd

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

Teaser:
On the wall, the photographs reset themselves mechanically into a different set of images. Now they were famous sites of the world: the Eiffel Tower, the Taj Mahal, along with outlines of various countries. Cora's head was still foggy, but she touched the closest painting, the Eiffel Tower, and spun the one below it until she got to France.

Tokens rained out of the slot.
This week my teaser comes from The Cage by Megan Shepherd. I got this eARC from Edelweiss. Here is the description from Amazon:
The Maze Runner meets Scott Westerfeld in this gripping new series about teens held captive in a human zoo by an otherworldly race. From Megan Shepherd, the acclaimed author of The Madman's Daughter trilogy

When Cora Mason wakes in a desert, she doesn't know where she is or who put her there. As she explores, she finds an impossible mix of environments—tundra next to desert, farm next to jungle, and a strangely empty town cobbled together from different cultures—all watched over by eerie black windows. And she isn't alone.

Four other teenagers have also been taken: a beautiful model, a tattooed smuggler, a secretive genius, and an army brat who seems to know too much about Cora's past. None of them have a clue as to what happened, and all of them have secrets. As the unlikely group struggles for leadership, they slowly start to trust each other. But when their mysterious jailer—a handsome young guard called Cassian—appears, they realize that their captivity is more terrifying than they could ever imagine: Their captors aren't from Earth. And they have taken the five teenagers for an otherworldly zoo—where the exhibits are humans.

As a forbidden attraction develops between Cora and Cassian, she realizes that her best chance of escape might be in the arms of her own jailer—though that would mean leaving the others behind. Can Cora manage to save herself and her companions? And if so . . . what world lies beyond the walls of their cage?

Monday, May 25, 2015

It's Monday! What Are You Reading? (May 25, 2015)

It's Monday, What Are You Reading? is a meme begun by Sheila at Book Journey. Kellee at Unleashing Readers and Jen at Teach Mentor Texts have given it a kidlit focus.

It’s Monday!  What Are You Reading, is where we gather to share what we have read this past week and what we plan to read this week.  It is a great way to network with other bloggers, see some wonderful blogs, and put new titles on your reading list.

Other Than Reading...

Happy Memorial Day! My elementary kids finished school on Friday to make room for the construction workers building the new addition. We teachers still have nine days to work. I still have students at the Middle School/High School through June 4. Our teacher workday is on June 5 and then I am free until September.

I'm looking forward to my summer vacation this year despite the fact that it looks like it will be a busier summer than usual. But before summer comes grading. I have done grades for my 88 fourth graders but still have grades to do for my 70 kindergartners and 45 first and second graders. My sixth graders, at the middle school, are still finishing projects too. They are all busy making book trailers for the best book they read this year.

Read Last Week
I read Between the Notes by Sharon Huss Roat this week. It was an eARC from Edelweiss about a teen who moves to the "bad" part of town when her parents' business suffers difficulties and who decides to lie about it. I liked watching her change from a self-centered snob to a better human being. My review will be posted on June 13 for this June 16 release.

Currently
I'm currently reading Rogue by Julie Kagawa. I am enjoying it as I have enjoyed everything I've read by Julie Kagawa. I am also a big fan of dragons.

Next Week
Next up on my review stack are The Leveller by Julia Durango and Emmy & Oliver by Robin Benway. Both are eARCs from Edelweiss for books that will be released on June 23.

Reviews Posted
Want to See What I Added to My Stack Last Week?
I got an eARC of A Thousand Nights by E. K. Johnston from Disney Hyperion via NetGalley. This book will be released on October 6.

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

Have a great week!

Saturday, May 23, 2015

ARC Review: Kissing in America by Margo Rabb

Kissing in America
Author: Margo Rabb
Publication: HarperCollins (May 26, 2015)

Description: Acclaimed writer Margo Rabb's Kissing in America is "a wonderful novel about friendship, love, travel, life, hope, poetry, intelligence, and the inner lives of girls," raves internationally bestselling author Elizabeth Gilbert (Eat, Pray, Love).

In the two years since her father died, sixteen-year-old Eva has found comfort in reading romance novels—118 of them, to be exact—to dull the pain of her loss that's still so present. Her romantic fantasies become a reality when she meets Will, who understands Eva's grief. Unfortunately, after Eva falls head over heels for him, he picks up and moves to California without any warning. Not wanting to lose the only person who has been able to pull her out of sadness—and, perhaps, her shot at real love—Eva and her best friend, Annie, concoct a plan to travel to the West Coast to see Will again. As they road trip across America, Eva and Annie confront the complex truth about love.

In this honest and emotional journey that National Book Award finalist Sara Zarr calls "gorgeous, funny, and joyous," readers will experience the highs of infatuation and the lows of heartache as Eva contends with love in all its forms.

My Thoughts: To cope with her father's death, sixteen-year-old Eva has buried herself in romance novels which is much to the despair of her feminist mother. It is the only way she can cope with the loss of her beloved father in a plane crash. Her mother's way of coping is to get rid of all of her father's possessions and never talk about him. Eva manages to save a few random things. One thing she hasn't been able to save is her love of writing. She and her father would fill notebook after notebook with stories and poems.

When Eva meets Will in an after-school tutoring program, she feels her dreams of a epic romance have finally come true. Will has grief issues of his own. His mother is still mourning the crib death of Will's brother, his father has left the family, and his mother is losing her business. They bond because they are both dealing with grief. When Will has to leave New York to live with his father in California, Eva is determined to get there to visit him.

When a chance comes for her best friend Annie to take part in a contest for Smartest Girl in America and bring Eva along as her lifeline, the two girls seize the opportunity. It takes a lot of convincing before Eva can convince her mother to let her go. The girls are planning to travel from New York City to Los Angeles by bus. With the addition of various stops at the homes of relatives and friends, the girls make their way to Los Angeles. Along the Eva learns more about her mother's reasons for the way she deals with grief and her world opens up as she sees something different than New York City.

I thought this story was very well written. I really liked Eva. I also liked the portrayal of grief as shown by the way a number of the characters deal with it. I also thought that Eva's romance was very well done. I laughed out loud a couple of times as Eva quoted her beloved historical romances. I liked the various pieces of poetry that began each section of the book. I'll be buying a copy of this one for my high school media center.

Favorite Quote:
I loved romances because when you opened the first page, you knew the story would end well. Your heart wouldn't be broken. I loved that security, that guaranteed love. Sure, a minor, usually unlikable character might drop dead from typhus or consumption or starve to death in the brig, but bad things were only temporary in those books. By the end, the hero and heroine would be ecstatically in love, enormously happy.

In real life, you never knew the ending. I hated that.
I got this ARC from Edelweiss. You can buy your copy here.

Friday, May 22, 2015

Friday Memes: Kissing in America by Margo Rabb

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 Kissing in America by Margo Rabb. I got this eARC from Edelweiss. Here is the description from Amazon:
Acclaimed writer Margo Rabb's Kissing in America is "a wonderful novel about friendship, love, travel, life, hope, poetry, intelligence, and the inner lives of girls," raves internationally bestselling author Elizabeth Gilbert (Eat, Pray, Love).

In the two years since her father died, sixteen-year-old Eva has found comfort in reading romance novels—118 of them, to be exact—to dull the pain of her loss that's still so present. Her romantic fantasies become a reality when she meets Will, who understands Eva's grief. Unfortunately, after Eva falls head over heels for him, he picks up and moves to California without any warning. Not wanting to lose the only person who has been able to pull her out of sadness—and, perhaps, her shot at real love—Eva and her best friend, Annie, concoct a plan to travel to the West Coast to see Will again. As they road trip across America, Eva and Annie confront the complex truth about love.

In this honest and emotional journey that National Book Award finalist Sara Zarr calls "gorgeous, funny, and joyous," readers will experience the highs of infatuation and the lows of heartache as Eva contends with love in all its forms.
Beginning:
According to my mother, my first kiss happened on a Saturday in July.
Friday 56:
"I just don't think talent should go to waste," he said. "Maybe you need company. Sometime we can go find a café and write."

Thursday, May 21, 2015

ARC Review: A Sense of the Infinite by Hilary T. Smith

A Sense of the Infinite
Author: Hilary T. Smith
Publication: Katherine Tegen Books (May 19, 2015)

Description: By the author of the critically acclaimed Wild Awake, a beautiful coming-of-age story about deep friendship, the weight of secrets, and the healing power of nature.

It's senior year of high school, and Annabeth is ready—ready for everything she and her best friend, Noe, have been planning and dreaming. But there are some things Annabeth isn't prepared for, like the constant presence of Noe's new boyfriend. Like how her relationship with her mom is wearing and fraying. And like the way the secret she's been keeping hidden deep inside her for years has started clawing at her insides, making it hard to eat or even breathe.
But most especially, she isn't prepared to lose Noe.

For years, Noe has anchored Annabeth and set their joint path. Now Noe is drifting in another direction, making new plans and dreams that don't involve Annabeth. Without Noe's constant companionship, Annabeth's world begins to crumble. But as a chain of events pulls Annabeth further and further away from Noe, she finds herself closer and closer to discovering who she's really meant to be—with her best friend or without.

Hilary T. Smith's second novel is a gorgeously written meditation on identity, loss, and the bonds of friendship.

My Thoughts: This gorgeously written story is packed with issues. Depression, suicide, eating disorders, vegetarianism, abortion and rape to name just a few. It is also the story of a friendship as it changes. Annabeth has always depended on Noe to be her guide and spokesperson. But now Noe is drifting away to new friends and new interests and leaving Annabeth behind. Annabeth clings to Noe by trying to like what Noe likes despite her very different interests.

Annabeth is traumatized when she learns that she is the child of rape. She was brutally told this by a cousin when she was just thirteen. Her mother and grandmother also told her at about the same time but neither of them seem to realize how much this information altered Annabeth's perceptions of herself and of her self-worth. This information has made her quiet and shy and made her feel like she was missing something that others her age had. Noe filled some of the holes that Annabeth perceived in her life.

Now it is their senior year in high school. Noe is dating Steven who happens to be Annabeth's partner in Art class. Steven works hard to develop a friendship with Annabeth that is separate from his relationship with Noe. Steven is depresses and has attempted suicide. For him, Noe provides a sense of purpose and stability which is just fine until Noe drops him for another boy.

It is about this same time that Noe drops Annabeth as a friend when Annabeth inadvertently tells the gymnastics coach that Noe is purging. While traumatic for Annabeth, this does provide the impetus for her to make new friends and to learn that she is stronger than she ever believed she was.

I really came to like both Annabeth and Steven and I was rooting for them to overcome the Noe-effect and learn that they were strong, confident people. I have more confidence that Annabeth learned this than that Steven did though.

Certain situations in the story will keep me from having this in my middle school/high school media center. But I think that older teens would really like getting to know Annabeth.

Favorite Quote:
Noe was the kind of friend who could make you believe, however fleetingly, in the possibility of incredible. I clutched her arm close and took a deep breath of her, grateful for the thousandth time that she was mine.
I got this ARC from Edelweiss. You can buy your copy here.

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

ARC Review: The Fog Diver by Joel Ross

The Fog Diver
Author: Joel Ross
Publication: HarperCollins (May 26, 2015)

Description: Joel Ross debuts a thrilling adventure series in which living in the sky is the new reality and a few determined slum kids just might become heroes. Perfect for fans of Rick Riordan and Brandon Mull, this fantasy is filled with daring and hope and a wonderfully imaginative world.

Once the Fog started rising, the earth was covered with a deadly white mist until nothing remained but the mountaintops. Now humanity clings to its highest peaks, called the Rooftop, where the wealthy Five Families rule over the lower slopes and floating junkyards.

Thirteen-year-old Chess and his friends Hazel, Bea, and Swedish sail their rickety air raft over the deadly Fog, scavenging the ruins for anything they can sell to survive. But now survival isn't enough. They must risk everything to get to the miraculous city of Port Oro, the only place where their beloved Mrs. E can be cured of fogsickness. Yet the ruthless Lord Kodoc is hot on their trail, for Chess has a precious secret, one that Kodoc is desperate to use against him. Now Chess will face any danger to protect his friends, even if it means confronting what he fears the most.

My Thoughts: THE FOG DIVER is a post-apocalyptic science fiction story that is filled with action and adventure. It is also the story of four orphans who are on a mission to save the woman who took them in and made them into a family.

Chess, Bea, Swedish, and Hazel work together to scavenge things they can use or sell from the Fog that covers everything except the highest mountain tops. They need to find a big haul in order to sneak Mrs. E to Port Oro where there might be a cure for her fogsickness. However, they need to battle the Fog, mutineers and the evil Lord Kodoc who wants Chess.

The Fog is composed of nanites that were created to clean up pollution on the Earth. After they did that, they were supposed to die. But the nanites learned to create other nanites and decided that humans were the cause of the pollution.

No one can go down into the Fog without becoming infected with the nanites and dying. Chess is an exception. He was born in the Fog and can survive in it. He was born with one eye that has the Fog visible in it. He has been hiding his difference for all of his thirteen years. Now Lord Kodoc, who thought he didn't survive, has found out that he is alive and is searching for him. Lord Kodoc wants Chess to search the Fog for a machine that will let Kodoc end, or control, the Fog. Scientists from Port Oro, a place that rebelled and is fighting against Kodoc's rule, also wants Chess. They also want that machine.

I loved the airships that the kids use to scavenge. They had a very steampunk feel. I also loved the relationships between the kids with Hazel the leader, Swedish the pilot, Bea the engineer, and Chess as the explorer.

While this is clearly the first book in a series, readers will be pleased that the ending is not really a cliffhanger but still leaves lots for our characters to do in future books.

Favorite Quote:
"Do you think there are other mountaintops?" Bea asked.

"I know there are," Hazel said from her hammock. "Somewhere across the Fog, if you fly for months or years. There must be."

"If they're too far to reach, it doesn't matter," Swedish said. "It's like they don't even exist."

"I wonder," Hazel said with a wistful tone in her voice, "if they also think they're the last people on Earth."
I got this ARC from Edelweiss. You can buy your copy here.

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Teaser Tuesday: A Sense of the Infinite by Hilary T. Smith

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

Teaser:
I had hardly spoken all day—all summer, it felt like—but walking next to Noe, words started spilling out of me. It was as if the cold hand that had sealed me off from the rest of humankind had left one airhole open, the airhole of Noe.
This week my teaser comes from A Sense of the Infinite by Hilary T. Smith. I received this eARC from Edelweiss. Here is the description from Amazon:
By the author of the critically acclaimed Wild Awake, a beautiful coming-of-age story about deep friendship, the weight of secrets, and the healing power of nature.

It's senior year of high school, and Annabeth is ready—ready for everything she and her best friend, Noe, have been planning and dreaming. But there are some things Annabeth isn't prepared for, like the constant presence of Noe's new boyfriend. Like how her relationship with her mom is wearing and fraying. And like the way the secret she's been keeping hidden deep inside her for years has started clawing at her insides, making it hard to eat or even breathe.
But most especially, she isn't prepared to lose Noe.

For years, Noe has anchored Annabeth and set their joint path. Now Noe is drifting in another direction, making new plans and dreams that don't involve Annabeth. Without Noe's constant companionship, Annabeth's world begins to crumble. But as a chain of events pulls Annabeth further and further away from Noe, she finds herself closer and closer to discovering who she's really meant to be—with her best friend or without.

Hilary T. Smith's second novel is a gorgeously written meditation on identity, loss, and the bonds of friendship.

Monday, May 18, 2015

It's Monday! What Are You Reading? (May 18, 2015)

It's Monday, What Are You Reading? is a meme begun by Sheila at Book Journey. Kellee at Unleashing Readers and Jen at Teach Mentor Texts have given it a kidlit focus.

It’s Monday!  What Are You Reading, is where we gather to share what we have read this past week and what we plan to read this week.  It is a great way to network with other bloggers, see some wonderful blogs, and put new titles on your reading list.

Other Than Reading...

Because of a construction project to expand our Elementary School, next week is the last week for our Kindergarten through fifth grade students. We are all in a rush to finish projects while working around the last field trips, music programs, and activity days.

There are still three weeks for the Middle School/High School students. Since I work half days at each building, I get to experience the final rush twice this year. The last two weeks are filled with workshops and curriculum meetings for the Elementary Staff. I'll be able to take part in only some of those activities but look forward to getting some curriculum and rubrics written for next year.

Read Last Week
I recently received, and just had to read, A Court of Thorns and Roses by Sarah J. Maas. I enjoyed it. I donated it to my MS/HS Media Center but will be steering it to my older students. There are some themes that I don't think would be best for my younger YAs or Middle School students. My review will be posted on June 3.

Currently
I am currently reading Between the Notes by Sharon Huss Roat. I got this review book from Edelweiss. Thus far, I don't like the main character very much but I am eager to see where the story goes.

Next Week
I am optimistically listing three books for this week but I don't know if I'll actually be able to get any of them read with much of my time filled with end of the school year activities.

Emmy & Oliver by Robin Benway is a review book from Edelweiss. It will be released on June 23.

The Leveller by Julie Durango will also be released on June 23. I got this science fiction story from Edelweiss too.

Rogue by Julie Kagawa is from my TBR stack. I want to get this second book in her dragon series read and donated to the MS/HS Media Center before this school year is over.

Reviews Posted
Want to See What I Added to My Stack Last Week?
What was your week like? Leave a link and I'll be sure to stop by.

Sunday, May 17, 2015

Stacking the YA Shelves (May 17, 2015)

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.
This week the two SYNC audiobooks were Great Expectations by Charles Dickens and Dodger by Terry Pratchett. I read Great Expectations in high school but that was over 40 years ago. It will be interesting to hear it. I have never read anything by Terry Pratchett and look forward to listening to Dodger too. If you want these, you have to act fast. Two new titles will take their places on Thursday.

I was also browsing NetGalley and added two more review books to my stack.
These Shallow Graves by Jennifer Donnelly is a historical mystery that will be released on October 27.

Spinning Starlight by R.C. Lewis is an old fairy tale reset in a science fiction story which will be released on October 6.

What did you add to your stack this week?

Saturday, May 16, 2015

ARC Review: The Improbable Theory of Ana and Zak by Brian Katcher

The Improbable Theory of Ana and Zak
Author: Brian Katcher
Publication: Katherine Tegen Books (May 19, 2015)

Description: The Improbable Theory of Ana and Zak is Stonewall Book Award-winning author Brian Katcher’s hilarious he said/she said romance about two teens recovering from heartbreak and discovering themselves on an out-of-this-world accidental first date.

It all begins when Ana Watson's little brother, Clayton, secretly ditches the quiz bowl semifinals to go to the Washingcon sci-fi convention on what should have been a normal, résumé-building school trip.

If slacker Zak Duquette hadn't talked up the geek fan fest so much, maybe Clayton wouldn't have broken nearly every school rule or jeopardized Ana’s last shot at freedom from her uptight parents.

Now, teaming up with Duquette is the only way for Ana to chase down Clayton in the sea of orcs, zombies, bikini-clad princesses, Trekkies, and Smurfs. After all, one does not simply walk into Washingcon.

But in spite of Zak's devil-may-care attitude, he has his own reasons for being as lost as Ana-and Ana may have more in common with him than she thinks. Ana and Zak certainly don’t expect the long crazy night, which begins as a nerdfighter manhunt, to transform into so much more…


My Thoughts: Zak and Ana tell this story is alternate chapters. Zak is a slacker in school; he's more interested in science fiction and computers than anything else. Ana is the always-busy, over-achiever whose on every committee and always looking to pad her transcript for college. Zak is interested in Ana but Ana has no time or interest in him. They get thrown together when Zak is in danger of failing Health but the teacher who is also the adviser of the Quiz Bowl team recruits him because she needs another team member for an up-coming tournament. Unfortunately, the Quiz Bowl tournament is the same weekend as the biggest science fiction convention in Washington State and Zak goes every year.

So, Zak finds himself in the van on the way to Quiz Bowl with Ana, her younger brother Clayton, and the other two team members. He regales them with tales of the science fiction convention happening only a few miles from the Quiz Bowl Competition. After their first round, which Zak helps them win, they have the evening off before the next round. Clayton decides to go the the convention leaving Ana and Zak to go after him and try to find him and bring him home before their adviser or Ana and Clayton's parents find out he is missing.

Most of the book happens at the convention which is filled with all sorts of wild adventure for both Zak and Ana. It brought back memories of the science fiction conventions I have attended filled with oddly dressed characters, geeks of all descriptions, movies, gaming tournaments, and even a vampire ball. This is a world where Zak fits in and Ana needs to depend on his expertise. They manage to stay one step behind Clayton while attracting a drug dealer and a number of people who would like to do either or both Zak and Ana harm.

I liked watching Zak and Ana learn more about each other and realize that the other had some valuable things to contribute. I liked the way both Ana and Zak changed after one very intense night at a science fiction convention.

Favorite Quote:
"Okay. When I was five I asked Santa for a puppy and got a Barbie instead. When I was eight, Nichole got a new bike and I had to ride her old one. Clayton has been pulling that cutesy Boy Wonder routine for years, and I'm sick of it. I have no real friends. I spent two months campaigning for a congressman who I thought was big into education and after he was elected, he votes to slash school funding. Nichole keeps telling me I'll develop, and here I am at eighteen and I'm only an A-cup. I'm not allowed to drive or even leave the house without an itinerary. Mr. Klein wrote me a letter or recommendation for college, but it was bland and noncommittal. I almost got arrested tonight, and you go off and karaoke, you butthead. It's raining. Everyone wants to spell my first name with two Ns. It's the twenty-first century and most of the world lives in poverty. And my brother is still missing.

I lay there, taking all this in.

"Just an A-cup? Really?"

"Duquette!" 
I got this ARC from Edelweiss. You can buy your copy here.

Friday, May 15, 2015

Friday Memes: The Improbable Theory of Ana and Zak by Brian Katcher

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 The Improbable Theory of Ana and Zak by Brian Katcher. I got this eARC from Edelweiss. Here is the description from GoodReads:
The Improbable Theory of Ana and Zak is Stonewall Book Award-winning author Brian Katcher’s hilarious he said/she said romance about two teens recovering from heartbreak and discovering themselves on an out-of-this-world accidental first date.

It all begins when Ana Watson's little brother, Clayton, secretly ditches the quiz bowl semifinals to go to the Washingcon sci-fi convention on what should have been a normal, résumé-building school trip.

If slacker Zak Duquette hadn't talked up the geek fan fest so much, maybe Clayton wouldn't have broken nearly every school rule or jeopardized Ana’s last shot at freedom from her uptight parents.

Now, teaming up with Duquette is the only way for Ana to chase down Clayton in the sea of orcs, zombies, bikini-clad princesses, Trekkies, and Smurfs. After all, one does not simply walk into Washingcon.

But in spite of Zak's devil-may-care attitude, he has his own reasons for being as lost as Ana-and Ana may have more in common with him than she thinks. Ana and Zak certainly don’t expect the long crazy night, which begins as a nerdfighter manhunt, to transform into so much more…
Beginning:
Zak! Hey, Zak, where are you?

The sound of my stepfather's voice fills me with dread. My mother is gone—we are alone.
Friday 56:
I have the beginnings of a glorious headache. 

Thursday, May 14, 2015

ARC Review: Making Pretty by Corey Ann Haydu

Making Pretty
Author: Corey Ann Haydu
Publication: Katherine Tegen Books (May 12, 2015)

Description: Montana and her sister, Arizona, are named after the mountainous states their mother left them for. But Montana is a New York City girl through and through, and as the city heats up, she's stepping into the most intense summer of her life. Her father is distracted by yet another divorce, and she's growing apart from her sister. Then she meets wild, bold Karissa, who encourages Montana to live in Technicolor and chase new experiences. But the more of her own secrets Karissa reveals, the more Montana has to wonder if Karissa's someone she can really trust.

In the midst of her uncertainty, Montana finds a beautiful distraction in Bernardo. He's serious but spontaneous, and he looks at Montana in the way she wants to be seen. For the first time, Montana understands how you can become both lost and found in somebody else. But when that love becomes everything, where does it leave the rest of her imperfect life?

My Thoughts: Montana Varren is having an interesting summer. She is trying to reconnect with her sister and best friend after they have spent the year away at different colleges. She is trying to understand the father she loves but who is never satisfied. She is trying to connect with her new friend Karissa who is beautiful and wild. She is trying to connect with the beautiful boy that she has watched across the park for most of the year.

Montana wants something of her own, something that will stay. She is tired of her father's run of serial romances that have resulted in his four divorces and unnumbered shorter relationships. But when he targets Karissa for his next wife, Montana is hurt and confused. Karissa had been hers and she neither wanted to share her with her father or watch her go through heartbreak when her relationship with Montana's father falls apart.

Meanwhile, Montana is building a relationship with the beautiful boy, Bernardo, which makes it even harder to reconnect with her sister Arizona. She and Bernardo are trying to build their relationship but he seemed kind of needy and also on the rebound from a previous relationship. His devotion looks good to Montana for a while.

I felt so sorry for Montana. She so much wanted someone to love her for herself and to accept her as she his. That person isn't her plastic surgeon father who sketches improvements on any pictures he sees including a picture of his daughters at the beach and who give her a gift certificate for plastic surgery for her thirteenth birthday.

This one is probably for older young adults as the amount drinking and smoking that goes on makes it a little mature for younger teens.

Favorite Quote:
I wonder what it would be like to have the same family your whole life. Or to even have one person who is always yours. Always close and connected and familiar.
I got this ARC from Edelweiss. You can buy your copy here.