Saturday, October 31, 2015

ARC Review: Young Widows Club by Alexandra Coutts

Young Widows Club
Author: Alexandra Coutts
Publication: Farrar, Straus and Giroux (BYR) (November 10, 2015)

Description: First came love, then came marriage, and then...

For seventeen-year-old Tam, running off to marry her musician boyfriend is the ideal escape from her claustrophobic high-school life on the island, and the ultimate rebellion against her father and stepmother. But when Tam becomes a widow just weeks later, the shell-shocked teen is forced to find her way forward by going back to the life she thought she’d moved beyond—even as her struggle to deal with her grief is forcing her to reinvent herself and reach out to others in ways she never imagined.


My Thoughts: YOUNG WIDOWS CLUB was a touching exploration of grief and finding yourself after tragedy. Tam Baird dropped out of high school to marry her musician boyfriend and act as manager for his band. They began dating when Tam was an eighth grader and Noah was a sophomore. They got to spend almost no time together after they married because Noah died in his sleep just six weeks later.

Since then Tam has been camping in the house Noah and his father were building for them and just drifting through life with no plans and no goals. When she and another of Noah's bandmate friends break into a summer home and swim in the indoor pool, they are caught by the police and arrested. After going to juvenile court, presided over by a friend of her late mother's, Tam is sentenced to return to high school and to attend a young widows group.

Going back to high school lets her connect with her childhood friend Lula Bee and the support group introduces her to a number of other widows and widowers. None of them are really young. The closest is Colin who is a twenty-six year old lawyer hiding out in his parents' summer home after his wife died from ovarian cancer. Tam things the activities planned by the group leader are odd but, having been through therapy after her mother's dead in a hit and run accident when Tam was ten, she feels she knows how to game the system and say what the leader wants to hear.

This story works its way through the stages of grief as Tam has good days and bad days. Like Bunny, the support group leader says, the different stages don't come in order and don't end. Tam and Colin become close which makes Tam feel guilty. She also starts exploring things for her future that wouldn't have been a part of her life if Noah had lived which also makes her feel guilty and uncertain.

This was a very touching story. I liked the support that Tam receives from Lula Bee and from others on the island. I liked that she was finally able to connect with her father about how he moved on from her mother's death. I liked that the ending was hopeful and that Tam was exploring new options and moving on.

Favorite Quote:
Sometimes it feels like everything that happened before happened in a different life, to a different person. It's nice to know I didn't make it up.
I got this ARC from Macmillan. You can buy your copy here.

Friday, October 30, 2015

Friday Memes: Young Widows Club by Alexandra Coutts

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 Young Widows Club by Alexandra Coutts. I got this ARC from Macmillan. Here is the description:
First came love, then came marriage, and then...

For seventeen-year-old Tam, running off to marry her musician boyfriend is the ideal escape from her claustrophobic high-school life on the island, and the ultimate rebellion against her father and stepmother. But when Tam becomes a widow just weeks later, the shell-shocked teen is forced to find her way forward by going back to the life she thought she’d moved beyond—even as her struggle to deal with her grief is forcing her to reinvent herself and reach out to others in ways she never imagined.
Beginning:
It's one of those flawless, cotton-candy-cloud days.
Friday 56:
"I think so," I nod. The back of my throat throbs and I try to think about anything other than what's happening. This is not goodbye. This is not me leaving the two people who have treated me like family from the moment we met.

Thursday, October 29, 2015

ARC Review: The Anatomical Shape of the Heart by Jenn Bennett

The Anatomical Shape of the Heart
Author: Jenn Bennett
Publication: Feiwel & Friends (November 3, 2015)

Description: Artist Beatrix Adams knows exactly how she's spending the summer before her senior year. Determined to follow in Da Vinci's footsteps, she's ready to tackle the one thing that will give her an advantage in a museum-sponsored scholarship contest: drawing actual cadavers. But when she tries to sneak her way into the hospital's Willed Body program and misses the last metro train home, she meets a boy who turns her summer plans upside down.

Jack is charming, wildly attractive . . . and possibly one of San Francisco's most notorious graffiti artists. On midnight buses and city rooftops, Beatrix begins to see who Jack really is-and tries to uncover what he's hiding that leaves him so wounded. But will these secrets come back to haunt him? Or will the skeletons in Beatrix's own family's closet tear them apart?

My Thoughts: Bex Adams is planning to spend the summer before her senior year working on her entry for an art contest that will provide some scholarship money for college. She wants to become a medical illustrator and has plans to draw cadavers. After being stood up by the doctor who runs the anatomy program, she's waiting for a late bus home when she meets a boy.

Jack Vincent is handsome, charming and mysterious. She suspects that he is the graffiti artist who is painting words in large gold letters all around San Francisco. When they meet again they begin to form a relationship. Each finds the other fascinating. But Jack is keeping some secrets.

Both Bex and Jack have difficult family issues that they have to resolve. Bex's parents are divorced and her mother is still very angry at her father. Her attitude has tainted her kids' relationship with their father. Bex hasn't seen him for three years and, when he surprises her, she has a screaming argument with him.

Jack's father is the mayor of San Francisco. He has a busy political life and Jack feels that he isn't very high on his father's priority list. Jack also has a twin sister who has been hospitalized with schizophrenia though everyone believes she is away at a school in Europe. Jack is doing his graffiti for her.

I really liked the romance in this book which was realistic in its depiction of teenage awkwardness. It was also realistic in its portrayal of Bex and Jack's sexual relationship. I loved the way that both Bex and Jack fought for their relationship.

Fans of romances will enjoy this story.

Favorite Quote:
And if Mom had detected any weirdness between us earlier, it was long forgotten—partly because Jack and I were fine now, and partly because Mom was too busy flirting it up with him and Noah. (Who knew all it took was a couple of extra guys praising her cooking to turn Katherine the Great into a gooey pile of strumpet? It was almost embarrassing.) 
I got this ARC from Macmillan. You can buy your copy here.

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Book Review: Among Others by Jo Walton

Among Others
Author: Jo Walton
Publication: Tor Books (January 18, 2011)

Description: Startling, unusual, and yet irresistably readable, Among Others is at once the compelling story of a young woman struggling to escape a troubled childhood, a brilliant diary of first encounters with the great novels of modern fantasy and SF, and a spellbinding tale of escape from ancient enchantment.

Raised by a half-mad mother who dabbled in magic, Morwenna Phelps found refuge in two worlds. As a child growing up in Wales, she played among the spirits who made their homes in industrial ruins. But her mind found freedom and promise in the science fiction novels that were her closest companions. Then her mother tried to bend the spirits to dark ends, and Mori was forced to confront her in a magical battle that left her crippled--and her twin sister dead.

Fleeing to her father whom she barely knew, Mori was sent to boarding school in England-a place all but devoid of true magic. There, outcast and alone, she tempted fate by doing magic herself, in an attempt to find a circle of like-minded friends. But her magic also drew the attention of her mother, bringing about a reckoning that could no longer be put off…

Combining elements of autobiography with flights of imagination in the manner of novels like Jonathan Lethem's The Fortress of Solitude, this is potentially a breakout book for an author whose genius has already been hailed by peers like Kelly Link, Sarah Weinman, and Ursula K. Le Guin.

Winner of the 2011 Nebula Award for Best Novel
Winner of the 2012 Hugo Award for Best NovelOne of School Library Journal's Best Adult Books 4 Teens titles of 2011
One of io9's best Science Fiction & Fantasy books of the year 2011

My Thoughts: This book defies description. It is written as a diary of a young woman. Mori tells us her story which mixes magic, books, and even first love. Mori has fled Wales after the death of her sister which she blames on a magical attack from her mother. In the attack, she is also hurt and is in almost constant pain due to damage to her leg and hip.

Leaving her mother has placed her with the father who abandoned them when she was a small child. She doesn't know him and is very suspicious of his three older sisters. They determine that she should attend the same boarding school that the sisters had attended. Mori is a very good scholar in everything except math but she looks at the world very differently than the rest of the students. This leaves her alone, lonely, teased and bullied.

Luckily, she has her books and the regard of the sympathetic school librarian. She also visits the local town library and discovers the joys of interlibrary loan. The book is filled with a who's who of the books and authors of science fiction who inform her life. I immediately identified because I had read most of the same authors and books when I was growing up. I also empathized with Mori's desire to find a group of people who understood her and was glad when she found and was accepted into the local Science Fiction book club.

A love of science fiction is also one thing that unites Mori and her father. However, Mori's world is also filled with magical thinking. She sees beings she calls fairies in the wild places and they will sometimes talk to her. She believes that she can do magic and is worried that she had new friends because of magic she did. She keeps objects around her that she believes protect her from her mother.

I found this book to be compellingly readable but wonder what young adults who don't have my extensive background in science fiction would feel about it. Of course, it may lead voracious readers to delve into the greats of science fiction.

Favorite Quote:
"How can you understand Boolean algebra when you still have problems with long division?" my maths teacher asked in despair. But Venn diagrams are easy, while long division remains challenging. Hardest of all were those problems about people doing incomprehensible things with no motivation. I was inclined to drift away from the sum to wonder why people would care what time two trains passed each other (spies), be so picky about seating arrangements (recently divorced people), or—which to this day remains incomprehensible—run the bath with no plug in.
I bought this one on July 20, 2011. You can buy your copy here.

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Teaser Tuesday: The Anatomical Shape of a Heart by Jenn Bennett

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:
A jacket bent over in front of me and picked up my portfolio. When the jacket stood back up, it grew arms and legs and a face that probably competed with Helen of Troy's in the ship-launching department.
This week my teaser comes from The Anatomical Shape of the Heart by Jenn Bennett. I got this ARC from Macmillan. Here is the description:
Artist Beatrix Adams knows exactly how she's spending the summer before her senior year. Determined to follow in Da Vinci's footsteps, she's ready to tackle the one thing that will give her an advantage in a museum-sponsored scholarship contest: drawing actual cadavers. But when she tries to sneak her way into the hospital's Willed Body program and misses the last metro train home, she meets a boy who turns her summer plans upside down.

Jack is charming, wildly attractive . . . and possibly one of San Francisco's most notorious graffiti artists. On midnight buses and city rooftops, Beatrix begins to see who Jack really is-and tries to uncover what he's hiding that leaves him so wounded. But will these secrets come back to haunt him? Or will the skeletons in Beatrix's own family's closet tear them apart?

Monday, October 26, 2015

State of the Stack (October 26, 2015)

This is my monthly State of the Stack post. It is my way to keep track of my review books and to hopefully reduce the stack that I have waiting for me. I take a look at my review commitments on the last Monday of each month. Please feel free to join in and let me know the state of your stack.

Here is my Review Books Spreadsheet I list them in publication order and sort them by month. I can quickly see how many books I have for each date. Ideally, this keeps me from over-committing to review books. Check my spreadsheet to find out where I got each book.

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

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

My Review Pile

December
Haunting Investigation by Chelsea Quinn Yarbro (Dec. 31)

January
Teen Frankenstein by Chandler Baker (Jan. 12)
Secrets of the Dragon Tomb by Patrick Samphire (Jan. 12)
 The Eighth Circle by Sarah Cain (Jan. 12)
The Capture by Tom Isbell (Jan. 19)
 Friday Barnes Girl Detective by R. A. Spratt (Jan. 19)
Sword and Verse by Kathy MacMillan (Jan. 19)
The Mystery of Hollow Places by Rebecca Podos (Jan. 26)

February
 Burning Midnight by Will McIntosh (Feb. 2)
Assassin's Heart by Sarah Ahiers (Feb. 2)
 Reign of Shadows by Sophie Jordan (Feb. 9)
The Girl from Everywhere by Heidi Heilig (Feb. 16)
The Shadow Queen by C. J. Redwine (Feb. 23)
Tumbled Graves by Brenda Chapman (Feb. 26)

March
 Burning Glass by Kathryn Purdie (March 1)
A Study in Charlotte by Brittany Cavallaro (March 1)
 The Great Hunt by Wendy Higgins (March 8)
A Drop of Night by Stefan Bachmann (March 15)
The Inn Between by Marina Cohen (March 22)
The Girl in the Tower by Lisa Schroeder (March 29)

April
Flamecaster by Cinda Williams Chima (April 5)
Mr. Fahrenheit by T. Michael Martin (April 19)
Cold Girl by R. M. Greenaway (April 19)

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. In the Company of Wolves by Paige Tyler (Dec. 2)
  2. Inherit the Stars by Tessa Elwood (Dec. 3)
  3. Secret Sisters by Jayne Ann Krentz (Dec. 3)
  4. The Producer's Daughter by Lindsay Marcott (Nov. 11)
  5. The Impostor Queen by Sarah Fine (Dec. 31)
  6. Tenacity by J. S. Law (Oct. 29) 
  7. Clean Sweep by Ilona Andrews (Oct. 31) 
  8. Tracks of Her Tears by Melinda Leigh (Nov. 18)
  9. Dead in Her Tracks by Kendra Elliott (Nov. 18)
Read Previously, Reviews Posted This Month
  1. A Thousand Nights by E. K. Johnston (Sept. 30)
  2. Spinning Starlight by R. C. Lewis (Oct. 1)
  3. Autumn Moon by Jan DeLima (Oct. 1)
  4. The White Rose by Amy Ewing (Oct. 3)
  5. Sinner's Steel by Sarah Castille (Oct. 3)
  6. Thirty and a Half Excuses by Denise Grover Swank (Oct. 6)
  7. Silent City by Carrie Smith (Oct. 7)
  8. Dreamstrider by Lindsay Smith (Oct. 7)
  9. Ice Like Fire by Sara Raasch (Oct. 8)
  10. Newt's Emerald by Garth Nix (Oct. 10)
  11. Dead Investigation by Charlie Price (Oct. 14)
  12. A Sliver of Stardust by Marissa Burt (Oct. 15)
  13. Losers Take All by David Klass (Oct. 17)
  14. These Shallow Graves by Jennifer Donnelly (Oct. 22)
  15. Nine Lives by Wendy Corsi Staub (Oct. 22)
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. Thirty and a Half Excuses by Denise Grover Swank (Oct. 13)
  2. The Impostor Queen by Sarah Fine (Jan. 5)
  3. The Producer's Daughter by Lindsay Marcott (Nov. 10)
  4. Tenacity by J. S. Law (Nov. 3)
  5. The Capture by Tom Isbell (Jan. 19)
  6. Tracks of Her Tears by Melinda Leigh (Nov. 10)
  7. Dead in Her Tracks by Kendra Elliott (Nov. 17)
  8. Cold Girl by RM Greenaway (March 26)
  9. Sweep in Peace by Ilona Andrews (Nov. 13)
Next Month's Plan

I have had a gap in my review stack that has let me spend a lot of time reading books from my TBR mountain. I am also staying ahead. I have only one review book in December before I start January's books. 

Since a lot of the adult books I get for review have much quicker turnaround times that the YAs on my stack being so far ahead isn't necessarily an advantage. I seem to spend a lot of time rearranging my already scheduled blog posts to fit in new arrivals so that the reviews are near publication dates of the books. 

I suppose that is actually a good problem to have as I have reviews on my adult blog scheduled into February. 

It's Monday! What Are You Reading? (October 26, 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...

I don't know where this week went. I could have sworn that yesterday was Monday. I suppose three after-school meetings can fill up a week. I also got my flu shot and have been feeling just a little out of sorts; I've been going to bed pretty early this week.

Our weather has been glorious this past week. We have had cool, crisp nights and comfortably warm days with those blue skies one only sees in autumn. Friday afternoon and evening we saw just a little bit of much needed rain.

My newly arriving review copies on my adult blog have had me rearranging my blogging calendar a few times this week already. I have been too busy working with my blog and calendars to actually get much reading done. I'm writing this Friday evening and hoping that Saturday and Sunday will have lots of uninterrupted reading time.

Read Last Week
I pulled Ranger's Apprentice: The Lost Stories by John Flanagan from my stack where it had been sitting since October 4, 2011 and enjoyed all of the stories. My review will be posted on December 17.

Currently
I am currently reading The Tournament at Gorlan by John Flanagan. This is the first in his new Ranger's Apprentice prequel series.

Next Week
Next on my stack are Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo and Dumplin' by Julie Murphy.

Reviews Posted
Want to See What I Added to My Stack Last Week?
Tiger Lily by Jodi Lynn Anderson was a deal for my Kindle this week.

I also got a copy of Illuminae by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff.

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

Saturday, October 24, 2015

Book Review: Cold Burn of Magic by Jennifer Estep

Cold Burn of Magic
Author: Jennifer Estep
Series: Black Blade Book 1
Publication: Kensington (April 28, 2015)

Description: There Be Monsters Here. . .

It's not as great as you'd think, living in a tourist town that's known as "the most magical place in America." Same boring high school, just twice as many monsters under the bridges and rival Families killing each other for power.

I try to keep out of it. I've got my mom's bloodiron sword and my slightly illegal home in the basement of the municipal library. And a couple of Talents I try to keep quiet, including very light fingers and a way with a lock pick.

But then some nasty characters bring their Family feud into my friend's pawn shop, and I have to make a call--get involved, or watch a cute guy die because I didn't. I guess I made the wrong choice, because now I'm stuck putting everything on the line for Devon Sinclair. My mom was murdered because of the Families, and it looks like I'm going to end up just like her. . .

My Thoughts: Lila lives in "the most magical place in America." Cloudburst Falls has all sorts of magical people and monsters which makes it a real draw for tourists. However, it also has magical Families that make up its own version of the Mafia. Lila has been making a living as a thief and living secretly in the basement of the Public Library since her mother was killed. She has a magical ability of her own called Sight which lets her see in very little light and lets her read another's character when she looks into their eyes.

Her plan to stay under the radar of the Families fails when she is in her friend Mo's pawn shop and she foils a kidnapping attempt on the son of the head of the Sinclair family. Devon is just a couple years older than she is. She blames him and his mother for her mother's death because she was killed after preventing an earlier kidnapping attempt. But now, Lila is blackmailed into acting as Devon's new bodyguard.

Because she spends so much time with him, she learns that he is not a bad person and finally lets go of the anger she feels at his part in her mother's death. However, Devon has enough guilt for both of them. He hates that so many people he knows have died defending him.

Since the attacks on him aren't stopping, Lila is determined to discover who wants Devon dead. She has lots of suspects especially the members of the Draconis Family who are the Sinclair's biggest rivals.

I enjoyed this story and like that even though Lila and Devon are attracted to each other, they did not start a romance. I liked the world building and thought the monsters who shared the town with the people were fascinating. I liked the drunk, Redneck pixie who was supposed to be taking care of Lila and her room.

I look forward to reading more in this series.

Favorite Quote:
I didn't tell them how I'd seen that mix of cold sorrow, hard strength, and warm goodness inside Devon's head. How I'd been so drawn to him, despite myself. And I especially didn't tell them how I thought it would have been a shame for that little spark of light buried so deeply inside him to be snuffed out so brutally. Nobody needed to know that, not even Mo. He'd think I was going soft, and he would be right.
I bought this one for my Kindle. You can buy your copy here.

Friday, October 23, 2015

Friday Memes: Cold Burn of Magic by Jennifer Estep

Happy Friday everybody!!
Book Beginnings on Friday is now hosted by Rose City Reader. The Friday 56 is hosted at Freda's Voice. Check out the links above for the rules and for the posts of the participants each week. Don’t dig for your favorite book, the coolest, the most intellectual. Use the CLOSEST.

Beginning:
Bad things always come in threes.

Three strikes. Those three bears that Goldilocks ran into.

The three guards with swords who were chasing me right now.
Friday 56:
I cursed myself for getting involved in the fight, even though there was nothing I could do now but see things through to the end. I wasn't sure why, but I couldn't let Devon die.
This week I am spotlighting Cold Burn of Magic by Jennifer Estep. I bought this one for my Kindle in June. Here is the description from Amazon:
There Be Monsters Here. . .

It's not as great as you'd think, living in a tourist town that's known as "the most magical place in America." Same boring high school, just twice as many monsters under the bridges and rival Families killing each other for power.

I try to keep out of it. I've got my mom's bloodiron sword and my slightly illegal home in the basement of the municipal library. And a couple of Talents I try to keep quiet, including very light fingers and a way with a lock pick.

But then some nasty characters bring their Family feud into my friend's pawn shop, and I have to make a call--get involved, or watch a cute guy die because I didn't. I guess I made the wrong choice, because now I'm stuck putting everything on the line for Devon Sinclair. My mom was murdered because of the Families, and it looks like I'm going to end up just like her. . .

Thursday, October 22, 2015

ARC Review: These Shallow Graves by Jennifer Donnelly

These Shallow Graves
Author: Jennifer Donnelly
Publication: Delacorte Press (October 27, 2015)

Description: From Jennifer Donnelly, the critically acclaimed New York Times bestselling author of A Northern Light and Revolution, comes a mystery about dark secrets, dirty truths, and the lengths to which people will go for love and revenge. For fans of Elizabeth George and Libba Bray, These Shallow Graves is the story of how much a young woman is willing to risk and lose in order to find the truth.

Jo Montfort is beautiful and rich, and soon—like all the girls in her class—she’ll graduate from finishing school and be married off to a wealthy bachelor. Which is the last thing she wants. Jo dreams of becoming a writer—a newspaper reporter like the trailblazing Nellie Bly.

Wild aspirations aside, Jo’s life seems perfect until tragedy strikes: her father is found dead. Charles Montfort shot himself while cleaning his pistol. One of New York City’s wealthiest men, he owned a newspaper and was a partner in a massive shipping firm, and Jo knows he was far too smart to clean a loaded gun.

The more Jo hears about her father’s death, the more something feels wrong. Suicide is the only logical explanation, and of course people have started talking, but Jo’s father would never have resorted to that. And then she meets Eddie—a young, smart, infuriatingly handsome reporter at her father’s newspaper—and it becomes all too clear how much she stands to lose if she keeps searching for the truth. But now it might be too late to stop.

The past never stays buried forever. Life is dirtier than Jo Montfort could ever have imagined, and this time the truth is the dirtiest part of all.

My Thoughts: Jennifer Donnelly has written an engaging historical mystery and coming of age story in THESE SHALLOW GRAVES.

Josephine Montfort's world changes dramatically when her father dies. Her sheltered life as the daughter of one of the first families of New York didn't prepare her for what she learns. But Jo doesn't really fit into her sheltered life. She wants to be a newspaper reporter like the famous Nelly Bly. She doesn't want to spend her life married to a rich man she doesn't love, caring for his home, and raising his children.

Jo has a handsome potential fiance in Bram Aldrich whom she has known since they were children but she has no romantic interest in him despite knowing that she should.  When she meets reporter Eddie Gallagher, her future certainties are challenged. As she and Eddie investigate the murder of her father and she falls in love with him, she questions more and more the future that has been planned for her.

Eddie introduces her to parts of New York that she has never seen and people she would never have gotten to know. She becomes friends with Fairy Fay, a young woman who has been raised by the local Fagin as a pickpocket and who has outgrown it and is to be sold to a madam as a prostitute.

Jo makes discoveries that shatter what she knows of her family and her father. I had figured out who the villain was pretty early in the story and had some ideas about the secret that was being hidden but enjoyed discovering the truth along with Jo. I also enjoyed the glimpse into the 1890s for both the rich and the poor. Seeing what a woman's role and choices were made me very glad that I am living now and not then.

This was a great story that was as much a mystery as an exploration of a time in history that is thankfully past. Readers will enjoy both the mystery and the strong character of Jo Montfort who finally makes her own choices.

Favorite Quote:
"Every time I see you, it's an adventure, Jo Montfort. You're a very unusual girl," he said as she got out of the cab.

"Oh, not really. Most girls are a lot like me. Wanting answers to their questions," Jo replied. "They usually don't seek them at the morgue, however. I'll give you that."

Eddie smiled, but then turned serious. "It was a very hard night for you. I'm sorry for that. I hope you know what you've gotten yourself into. What's coming won't be easy. I doubt tonight will be the last time you cry for your father."
I got this ARC from NetGalley. You can buy your copy here.

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Book Review: Legend by Marie Lu

Legend
Author: Marie Lu
Series: Legend (Book 1)
Publication: Speak; Reprint edition (April 16, 2013)

Description: What was once the western United States is now home to the Republic, a nation perpetually at war with its neighbors. Born into an elite family in one of the Republic's wealthiest districts, fifteen-year-old June is a prodigy being groomed for success in the Republic's highest military circles. Born into the slums, fifteen-year-old Day is the country's most wanted criminal. But his motives may not be as malicious as they seem.

From very different worlds, June and Day have no reason to cross paths - until the day June's brother, Metias, is murdered and Day becomes the prime suspect. Caught in the ultimate game of cat and mouse, Day is in a race for his family's survival, while June seeks to avenge Metias's death. But in a shocking turn of events, the two uncover the truth of what has really brought them together, and the sinister lengths their country will go to keep its secrets.

Full of nonstop action, suspense, and romance, this novel is sure to move readers as much as it thrills.

My Thoughts: This book is told in alternate chapter by Day, a boy from the poor part of Los Angeles, and June, a girl from the highest military caste who is being groomed for a prestigious military career. Both were tested at age 10. June got a perfect score and finds herself in military college at twelve; Day also got a perfect score but was told he failed and found himself in a military hospital being experimented on. He escapes and spends his time trying to help his family and hinder the Republic's military plans.

In this city, there are recurring plagues that hit mainly the poor parts of town. When plague hits his family house and his young brother Eden is a victim, Day is determined to get the cure. After a failed attempt to steal the potion in which a soldier is killed, he has to find another way to get money to buy the cure.

The soldier who was killed was June's brother Metias which makes June determined to track down Day and bring him to justice. She goes undercover, finds him, spends time with him, and begins to see that he is much different than she had thought. She still turns him in but things happen that disillusion her about the military's goals. She has to find a way to break him out before his execution.

This was a good story. It is easy to see that people in the Republic are being fed misinformation but also easy to see how someone in June's class would believe it. I look forward to the rest of the series to see what happens next for Day and June.

Favorite Quote:
I feel wrong...like I did a terrible thing by betraying a boy who trusted me.
I bought this one on April 13, 2013. You can buy your copy here.

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Teaser Tuesday: These Shallow Graves by Jennifer Donnelly

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:
"Who's Eleanor Owens?" Jo whispered. She wasn't a friend or a family member—Jo had never heard her name mentioned. She wasn't an employee, either. Van Houten only had one female employee—the women who cleaned their offices—and her name was Tillie Polk. If Eleanor Owens wasn't a friend or an employee, who was she?

Then the answer came to Jo and she gasped. "Dear God," she said aloud, "Papa had a mistress."
This week my teaser comes from These Shallow Graves by Jennifer Donnelly. I got this eARC from NetGalley. Here is the description:
From Jennifer Donnelly, the critically acclaimed New York Times bestselling author of A Northern Light and Revolution, comes a mystery about dark secrets, dirty truths, and the lengths to which people will go for love and revenge. For fans of Elizabeth George and Libba Bray, These Shallow Graves is the story of how much a young woman is willing to risk and lose in order to find the truth.

Jo Montfort is beautiful and rich, and soon—like all the girls in her class—she’ll graduate from finishing school and be married off to a wealthy bachelor. Which is the last thing she wants. Jo dreams of becoming a writer—a newspaper reporter like the trailblazing Nellie Bly.

Wild aspirations aside, Jo’s life seems perfect until tragedy strikes: her father is found dead. Charles Montfort shot himself while cleaning his pistol. One of New York City’s wealthiest men, he owned a newspaper and was a partner in a massive shipping firm, and Jo knows he was far too smart to clean a loaded gun.

The more Jo hears about her father’s death, the more something feels wrong. Suicide is the only logical explanation, and of course people have started talking, but Jo’s father would never have resorted to that. And then she meets Eddie—a young, smart, infuriatingly handsome reporter at her father’s newspaper—and it becomes all too clear how much she stands to lose if she keeps searching for the truth. But now it might be too late to stop.

The past never stays buried forever. Life is dirtier than Jo Montfort could ever have imagined, and this time the truth is the dirtiest part of all.

Monday, October 19, 2015

It's Monday! What Are You Reading? (October 19, 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...

After regular school on Monday and Tuesday and parent-teacher conferences on Monday and Tuesday evenings, I had the rest of the week off. I spent my time off doing some more purging at my house and hauling the things I no longer need to the Salvation Army.

I also did some extra reading but mostly stories and novellas from anthologies that have been sitting on my TBR mountain for quite a while.

I spent all day Saturday at the Twin Cities Book Festival hanging out in the Middle Grade and Teen Tents. I had a chance to hear so many authors speak, have them sign my autograph books, and buy books for them to autograph too. It was the first time I had a chance to meet John Flanagan and Julie Kagawa. I also saw again some authors I had met before. I thought I exercised remarkable restraint because I managed to buy only 5 books. I also bought a copy of A Thousand Nights by E. K. Johnston that I didn't picture below. I bought this one to donate since I've already read the ARC.

Please visit this link and sign up for a chance to win a box of adult mysteries - both finished and ARCs. The contest ends on Halloween and I have not gotten very many entries. US only, I'm afraid. It is a large box and shipping is too expensive to send it outside the US. 

Read Last Week
In the Shadows by Kiersten White and Jim Di Bartolo was a interesting combination of novel and graphic novel. I enjoyed both stories and how they came together at the end. My review will be posted on December 10.

The Impostor Queen by Sarah Fine was an entertaining fantasy novel. I particularly enjoyed watching the main character find her place in the world. My review will be posted on Dec. 31 for this January release.

Currently
Next on my stack is Zeroes by Scott Westerfeld, Margo Lanagan, and Deborah Biancotti.

Next Week
Next up on the reading list are The Unquiet Past by Kelley Armstrong and Dumplin' by Julie Murphy.

Reviews Posted
Want to See What I Added to My Stack Last Week?
The Capture by Tom Isbell is the sequel to The Prey and the middle book of a trilogy. I got the ARC from the author when I met him at the Twin Cities Book Festival. The book will be released on January 19.

I also got Project Alpha by D. J. MacHale at the festival. It is the first of six books in a multi-author middle grade science fiction series.
I also got The Shadow Behind the Stars by Rebecca Hahn at the festival. This is a standalone fantasy based on Greek mythology.

Nicola Yoon signed my copy of Everything, Everything at the festival too. I have heard all sorts of good things about this contemporary story.
I got a chance to meet John Flanagan at the book festival too. He autographed my copy of his newest book - The Tournament at Gorlan - which begins a prequel series to the Ranger's Apprentice.

The Masked Truth by Kelley Armstrong arrived in the mail this week too.

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