Saturday, January 30, 2016

ARC Review: Burning Midnight by Will McIntosh

Burning Midnight
Author: Will McIntosh
Publication: Delacorte Press (February 2, 2016)

Description: For fans of The Maze Runner and The Fifth Wave, this debut YA novel from Hugo Award winner Will McIntosh pits four underprivileged teens against an evil billionaire in the race of a lifetime.

Sully is a sphere dealer at a flea market. It doesn’t pay much—Alex Holliday’s stores have muscled out most of the independent sellers—but it helps him and his mom make the rent.

No one knows where the brilliant-colored spheres came from. One day they were just there, hidden all over the earth like huge gemstones. Burn a pair and they make you a little better: an inch taller, skilled at math, better-looking. The rarer the sphere, the greater the improvement—and the more expensive the sphere.

When Sully meets Hunter, a girl with a natural talent for finding spheres, the two start searching together. One day they find a Gold—a color no one has ever seen. And when Alex Holliday learns what they have, he will go to any lengths, will use all of his wealth and power, to take it from them.

There’s no question the Gold is priceless, but what does it actually do? None of them is aware of it yet, but the fate of the world rests on this little golden orb. Because all the world fights over the spheres, but no one knows where they come from, what their powers are, or why they’re here.

My Thoughts: Will McIntosh (SOFT APOCALYPSE, HITCHERS, etc.) has made a successful transition to YA science fiction with his new novel BURNING MIDNIGHT. The setting is the present day with one exception. Some years in the past the Earth was seeded with various colored spheres. Holding two matching spheres to your temple would grant you some new ability from the minor like white, straight teeth to major like higher IQ.

The main character is David Sullivan who is seventeen and who once discovered a rare sphere. However, he was cheated out of his $2.5 million paycheck when the sphere didn't perform as the buyer - Alex Holliday - didn't expect. Currently Sully is buying and selling spheres at a flea market trying to make enough money so that he and his mother aren't kicked out of their apartment and forced to move away and live in a relative's basement.

Things change when a young woman who calls herself Hunter comes to his stall at the market and offers to sell him a rarity.  Though they lose that sphere to hijackers, the two form a partnership to find more spheres. And, when Holliday announces the discovery of a bigger sphere in a previously undiscovered color, Sully and Hunter are even more determined to find spheres.

The kids find another new sphere - a gold one. But this one is different; it moves. The kids believe that it is trying to guide them to its match and set off on a road trip that takes them from Yonkers to Mexico City. Sully recruits his friends Dom and Mandy to go along to help for a cut in the take for the new sphere. Holliday and his goons are also on their trail and it becomes a race to see who can get to the other gold first. Rather than surrender the golds to Holliday, Hunter burns them which has very unexpected results.

This was an action-packed story with lots to think about too. We do discover what the spheres are for and what the dangers are. I liked that the four kids had a variety of viewpoints about the spheres. Sully wasn't opposed to using them but he needed to sell them to make money his family desperately needed. Dom just wanted the adventure and to make his family name stand for something other than the actions of his infamous uncle. Mandy didn't think the spheres should be used until the long term consequences were known. Hunter's motives were less clear. She wanted the spheres for the money and security they could offer her but she also wanted to find them just because they existed.

Fans of science fiction won't want to miss this exciting story.

Favorite Quote:
Sully found it interesting how split religions were on the spheres. The pope thought they were okay, because they didn't go against anything in the Bible and didn't hurt anyone. Some of the evangelists on TV were like this guy on the podium; others claimed the spheres came straight from God. If there was a God, Sully didn't think he had anything to do with the spheres. They weren't angels or devils; they were pretty obviously things, even if no one could explain how they suddenly materialized all over the world or why they gave people enhanced abilities. 
I got this ARC from NetGalley. You can buy your copy here.

Friday, January 29, 2016

Friday Memes: Burning Midnight by Will McIntosh

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:
Sully pulled the thin wad of bill from his pocket and counted. Thirteen bucks. He'd hauled his butt out of bed at six a.m. on a Saturday to make thirteen bucks in seven hours. 
Friday 56:
He wanted to ask her what her life was like, but she didn't seem eager to talk about life in the Bronx. Mostly she wanted to talk about spheres. That was fine with Sully.
This week I am spotlighting Burning Midnight by Will McIntosh. I found this one when I was browsing NetGalley. Here is the description from Amazon:
For fans of The Maze Runner and The Fifth Wave, this debut YA novel from Hugo Award winner Will McIntosh pits four underprivileged teens against an evil billionaire in the race of a lifetime.

Sully is a sphere dealer at a flea market. It doesn’t pay much—Alex Holliday’s stores have muscled out most of the independent sellers—but it helps him and his mom make the rent.

No one knows where the brilliant-colored spheres came from. One day they were just there, hidden all over the earth like huge gemstones. Burn a pair and they make you a little better: an inch taller, skilled at math, better-looking. The rarer the sphere, the greater the improvement—and the more expensive the sphere.

When Sully meets Hunter, a girl with a natural talent for finding spheres, the two start searching together. One day they find a Gold—a color no one has ever seen. And when Alex Holliday learns what they have, he will go to any lengths, will use all of his wealth and power, to take it from them.

There’s no question the Gold is priceless, but what does it actually do? None of them is aware of it yet, but the fate of the world rests on this little golden orb. Because all the world fights over the spheres, but no one knows where they come from, what their powers are, or why they’re here.

Thursday, January 28, 2016

ARC Review: Assassin's Heart by Sarah Ahiers

Assassin's Heart
Author: Sarah Ahiers
Publication: HarperTeen (February 2, 2016)

Description: With shades of Game of Thrones and Romeo and Juliet, this richly imagined fantasy from debut author Sarah Ahiers is a tale of love, lies, and vengeance. Fans of Kristin Cashore and Rae Carson will devour the flawlessly crafted action and inventive world building.

Seventeen-year-old Lea Saldana is a trained assassin. She was born into one of the nine clipper Families in the kingdom of Lovero who lawfully take lives for a price. As a member of the highest-ranking clan, loyalty to Family is valued above all, but that doesn't stop Lea from getting into a secret relationship with Val Da Via, a boy from a rival clan. Despite her better judgment, Lea has fallen in love with him; but she's confident she can anticipate any threat a mile away.

Then she awakens one night to a house full of smoke. Although she narrowly escapes, she isn't able to save her Family as their home is consumed by flames. With horror, she realizes that Val and his Family are the only ones who could be responsible. Devastated over his betrayal and the loss of her clan, there's just one thing on her mind: making the Da Vias pay. The heart of this assassin craves revenge.

My Thoughts: Lea Saldana is left a hunted orphan when the Da Vias attack and kill her family. Lea's family were number one in status of the nine families of assassins who murder as a form of worship for their goddess Safraella in the city of Lovero. She was having a secret relationship with Val Da Via and feels guilt that she might have given him information his family could use to ambush her family. She swears that she will have her vengeance on the Da Vias but first she has to escape to a place of relative safety to plan and search for allies.

She flees across the dead plains which are haunted by angry ghosts to the town of Yvain in search of the uncle who was exiled before her birth. Since the uncle had been married to a Da Via, Lea hopes to recruit his assistance in her vengeance and find out the location of the Da Via's secret home. But Yvain isn't like her home city. They don't worship Safraella. Lea attracts the attention of a corrupt police officer before she manages to track down her elusive uncle. First she meets Alessio who is an orphan boy that her uncle has partially trained to be an assassin. He offers to help her with her vengeance when her uncle does not.

This was an excellent story with great world building. I was fascinated by the assassins who murder as a form of worship for their goddess who promises rebirth for those who are killed in her name. Lea is a very devout daughter of her goddess and is rewarded by her goddess in quite a surprising way. I also enjoyed Lea's conflict between family and Family which is at the heart of this story and its major theme.

Fantasy lovers will enjoy this debut novel because of its interesting setting, intriguing plot, and great characters.

Favorite Quote:
"The Da Vias killed my Family, yes, but only a fool would think they did it as an at of worship. Maybe that's what they want the common to think, but the nine Families know that the Da Vias attacked us because they were the second Family and we were the first and by killing us they got power. Anything else was just a bonus."
I got this ARC from Edelweiss. You can buy your copy here.

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Spotlight: Leviathan by Scott Westerfeld

I have decided that 2016 is the year when I take a look at books on my TBR mountain and read them or donate them. I'm starting with the books that have been on the stack the longest.

Hopefully by the end of 2016, my TBR mountain will be only a foothill.

This week I'm turning the spotlight on Leviathan by Scott Westerfeld. I bought this one and the rest of the trilogy on October 26, 2010 when I met Mr. Westerfeld at a book signing at the Wild Rumpus bookstore in Minneapolis.

Here is the description from Amazon:
It is the cusp of World War I. The Austro-Hungarians and Germans have their Clankers, steam-driven iron machines loaded with guns and ammunition. The British Darwinists employ genetically fabricated animals as their weaponry. Their Leviathan is a whale airship, and the most masterful beast in the British fleet.

Aleksandar Ferdinand, a Clanker, and Deryn Sharp, a Darwinist, are on opposite sides of the war. But their paths cross in the most unexpected way, taking them both aboard the Leviathan on a fantastical, around-the-world adventure….One that will change both their lives forever.
I like steampunk and I have read and enjoyed other books by Westerfeld. I don't know why these have been on the stack so long.

Have you read this series? Should I move it up the stack?

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Teaser Tuesday: Assassin's Heart by Sarah Ahiers

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:
My stomach sank whenever she spoke like this. Like our rank compared to the other Families was more important than the people we lost.
This week my teaser comes from Assassin's Heart by Sarah Ahiers. I got this eARC from Edelweiss. Here is the description from Amazon:
With shades of Game of Thrones and Romeo and Juliet, this richly imagined fantasy from debut author Sarah Ahiers is a tale of love, lies, and vengeance. Fans of Kristin Cashore and Rae Carson will devour the flawlessly crafted action and inventive world building.

Seventeen-year-old Lea Saldana is a trained assassin. She was born into one of the nine clipper Families in the kingdom of Lovero who lawfully take lives for a price. As a member of the highest-ranking clan, loyalty to Family is valued above all, but that doesn't stop Lea from getting into a secret relationship with Val Da Via, a boy from a rival clan. Despite her better judgment, Lea has fallen in love with him; but she's confident she can anticipate any threat a mile away.

Then she awakens one night to a house full of smoke. Although she narrowly escapes, she isn't able to save her Family as their home is consumed by flames. With horror, she realizes that Val and his Family are the only ones who could be responsible. Devastated over his betrayal and the loss of her clan, there's just one thing on her mind: making the Da Vias pay. The heart of this assassin craves revenge.

Monday, January 25, 2016

It's Monday! What Are You Reading? (Jan. 25, 2016)

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...

This week was filled with lots more excitement than I really wanted. I came out of the Elementary School on Monday planning to drive to the high school and found that the battery was dead in my car. A friend jump started me and I drove home and put the car in my garage. I then walked to the high school braving wind chills that were quite a ways below zero. I walked home after school and tried to start my car but it was completely dead. I called my car dealership to make an appointment to get a new battery and then started looking for someone who would come jump start my car so that I could get to the appointment. Naturally, the appointment was for Tuesday afternoon.

A friend drove me to work on Tuesday. I walked between schools and home again braving wind chills that were well below zero again. When the guy came to start my car, it wouldn't even start with a jump start. Luckily, he came in his tow truck. I had to have my car towed about 25 miles to the dealership and I got to make conversation with a big black dude named Bubba all the way there. He was quite a nice young man!

I waited at the dealership because they said they could fix the car in a couple of hours. While running the diagnostics to find out what the problem was (in case it was more than a battery that was too old), they discovered that I needed new front brake pads. Since I was already there, I had that done and an oil change. Since I knew I'd be waiting, my Kindle was in my purse. I managed to finish reading one book and read 10% of another.

After reclaiming my now very reliable car, I decided to run a couple of other errands before going back home. I stopped at Great Clips and had six inches cut off my hair. I was trying to grow it out but decided that my fine hair wasn't suitable for long hairstyles. I was getting tired of eating it and picking up long strands of white hair all over my house.

Finally, I took myself out to dinner at Outback and came home with half a steak to eat another day. I arrived home to find that the book fairy had stopped at my house. I received a big box of YA titles from Macmillan and two adult mysteries from a publicist.

Wednesday, bright and early (actually dark and early), I drove into Rochester again to have lab work done before my annual physical. Then I was off to work just one hour late which worked out quite well because we always start one hour late on Wednesdays so that teachers can be in Professional Learning Teams.

Thursday was blessedly normal and Friday was an early out for students and work time for teachers to do grades. Our first semester is over! I left at my usual 1:30 and had my annual physical where I learned that I was doing okay - no changes from last year. However, I do have couple more medical tests on the horizon to get more data for my doctor.

The weekend was quieter with reading, blogging, and assessing 90+ fifth grade reports on scientists. Monday is a work day in preparation for the second semester. I'll be working my new schedule of 9 until 3. I'm eager to see if I like that schedule as well as I have liked my 7:30 until 1:30 schedule.

Read Last Week

Nothing. I've been concentrating on reading the four new mysteries I got for review and which are all being released in early February.

Currently
I'm stuck at the 10% mark of Burning Glass by Kathryn Purdie which I read while waiting for my car to be repaired. I had to switch to one of my adult mystery review books when I got home because it will be released before Burning Glass. I'll be eager to get back to this one.

Next Week
These are all hold-overs from last week which slid down to stack behind some new arrivals.

Reviews Posted
Want to See What I Added to My Stack Last Week?

I only bought two books this week. I have been hearing great things about both of these and want to be part of the in-crowd who has read them.
I also received a bunch of review books this week. Most of them arrived in a big box from Macmillan. I'm only waiting for two more that I requested from their Spring catalog.
Tommy McKnight and the Great Election by Danny Kravitz came as a result of an email solicitation. I like historical fiction and thought this sounded like a good middle grade title. Though it was released on Jan. 1, I committed to reading and reviewing it in April.

The Girl I Used to Be by April Henry came from Macmillan. It will be released on May 3.

The Vanishing Throne by Elizabeth May was one I discovered while browsing NetGalley. This sequel to The Falconer will be released on June 7.

All the rest of these came from Macmillan.
The Haunting of Falcon House by Eugene Yelchin will be released on June 14.

Trapped by S. A. Bodeen will be released on July 26.
The Ministry of SUITS by Paul Gamble will also be released on July 26.

The Gilded Cage by Lucinda Gray will be released on August 2.

The Secret Sea by Barry Lyga will be released on August 23. 

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

Saturday, January 23, 2016

Book Review: The Iron Warrior by Julie Kagawa

The Iron Warrior
Author: Julie Kagawa
Series: The Iron Fey (Book 7)
Publication: Harlequin Teen (October 27, 2015)

Description: The Iron Prince—my nephew—betrayed us all. 

He killed me. 

Then, I woke up. 

Waking after a month on the brink of death, Ethan Chase is stunned to learn that the Veil that conceals the fey from human sight was temporarily torn away. Although humankind's glimpse of the world of Faery lasted just a brief moment, the human world was cast into chaos, and the emotion and glamour produced by fear and wonder has renewed the tremendous power of the Forgotten Queen. Now she is at the forefront of an uprising against the courts of Faery—a reckoning that will have cataclysmic effects on the Nevernever.

Leading the Lady's Forgotten Army is Keirran himself: Ethan's nephew, and the traitor son of the Iron Queen, Meghan Chase.To stop Keirran, Ethan must disobey his sister once again as he and his girlfriend, Kenzie, search for answers long forgotten. In the face of unprecedented evil and unfathomable power, Ethan's enemies must become his allies, and the fey and human worlds will be changed forevermore.

My Thoughts: This story brings the Iron Fey fantasy series to a conclusion. I thought that the conclusion was satisfying. I am going to try to be as non-spoilery as I can be which is going to make this sort of generic.

Ethan Chase is the narrator of this story. Despite his dislike of Faery, he finds himself embroiled in ancient prophecies, family betrayal and a war that would change the course of life in the human world and in the Nevernever.

He and is girlfriend Kenzie along with some former enemies turned allies have to find a way to convince his nephew Keirran to renounce his alliance with the Forgotten Queen. The story includes soul stealing amulet which has made Keirran forget his loved ones. The story is about making choices and dealing with the unforeseen consequences of those choices.

The story is also about love. Keirran's love for the Summer girl Annwyl precipitated the conflict. Ethan's love for his nephew Keirran guides a lot of his actions. There is also Ethan's growing love for Kenzie.

The book had both epic battles and small personal ones. Many characters had to make difficult decisions. Fans of the series will enjoy this final visit.

Favorite Quote:
I was, I realized, getting tired of Faery. I was tired of its wars and power struggles. I was tired of its stupidly dangerous landscapes that defied logic and sanity and would drive you nuts if you thought too hard about it. I was tired of faeries and faery bargains and quests and impossible choices. I was tired of it all.
I bought this book. You can buy your copy here.

Friday, January 22, 2016

Friday Memes: The Iron Warrior by Julie Kagawa

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:
My name is Ethan Chase.

And I can't be certain, but I think I might have died.
Friday 56:
I looked down at the note and flipped it open. The handwriting was simple and elegant, but I didn't know if it was Meghan's. The message was also short, direct and to the point.

Come to the library, it read. That was it.
This week I am spotlighting The Iron Warrior by Julie Kagawa. This is the seventh and final book in her Iron Fey series. Here is the description from Amazon:
The Iron Prince—my nephew—betrayed us all. 

He killed me. 

Then, I woke up. 

Waking after a month on the brink of death, Ethan Chase is stunned to learn that the Veil that conceals the fey from human sight was temporarily torn away. Although humankind's glimpse of the world of Faery lasted just a brief moment, the human world was cast into chaos, and the emotion and glamour produced by fear and wonder has renewed the tremendous power of the Forgotten Queen. Now she is at the forefront of an uprising against the courts of Faery—a reckoning that will have cataclysmic effects on the Nevernever.

Leading the Lady's Forgotten Army is Keirran himself: Ethan's nephew, and the traitor son of the Iron Queen, Meghan Chase.To stop Keirran, Ethan must disobey his sister once again as he and his girlfriend, Kenzie, search for answers long forgotten. In the face of unprecedented evil and unfathomable power, Ethan's enemies must become his allies, and the fey and human worlds will be changed forevermore.

Thursday, January 21, 2016

ARC Review: The Mystery of Hollow Places by Rebecca Podos

The Mystery of Hollow Places
Author: Rebecca Podos
Publication: Balzer + Bray (January 26, 2016)

Description: The Mystery of Hollow Places is a gorgeously written, stunningly original novel of love, loss, and identity, from debut author Rebecca Podos.

All Imogene Scott knows of her mother is the bedtime story her father told her as a child. It’s the story of how her parents met: he, a forensic pathologist; she, a mysterious woman who came to identify a body. A woman who left Imogene and her father when she was a baby, a woman who was always possessed of a powerful loneliness, a woman who many referred to as “troubled waters.”

Now Imogene is seventeen, and her father, a famous author of medical mysteries, has struck out in the middle of the night and hasn’t come back. Neither Imogene’s stepmother nor the police know where he could’ve gone, but Imogene is convinced he’s looking for her mother. And she decides it’s up to her to put to use the skills she’s gleaned from a lifetime of reading her father’s books to track down a woman she’s only known in stories in order to find him and, perhaps, the answer to the question she’s carried with her for her entire life.

My Thoughts: This was a fascinating story about a young woman's search for her father, her mother, and answers to questions that have been unanswered all her life. Imogene Scott is a high school senior. All she knows about her mother is the stories that her father has told her which give a picture of a troubled young woman perhaps cursed to be lonely. Imogene's father is a former forensic pathologist turned mystery author. He also suffers from bi-polar disorder. He has recently married his former therapist Lindy. Lindy and Imogene are tentatively building a family but Imogene is used to being her father's only support system so it isn't going very well.

One morning around Valentine's Day, her father disappears leaving a geode that he has always told Immy was her grandmother's heart for her to find. Immy decides to use the the knowledge she has gained from her lifelong reading of mysteries, including her father's, to find her father by tracking down her mother. She feels sure that he went off to find her mother. Lindy calls the police and post signs; Immy wants to find her father herself.

She does enlist the help of her best friend Jessa and the boy she has had a crush on since she was in fifth grade - Jessa's older brother Chad. One of the most interesting parts of this story to me were the relationships Immy has with other people. She isn't sure why Jessa is her friend because they don't have a lot in common. Immy isn't close to many people as she feels the need to hold everyone at a distance. She says at one point that she never wants to have anything that she can't survive without which includes relationships with other people.

As the story goes on, Immy follows faint clues as she tries to track down her mother. Along the way she learns a lot about her mother, her father and herself. Nothing is quite like Immy is imagining and nothing wraps up neatly like the mystery stories Immy loves.

This was an engaging story with a very determined heroine. Fans of mysteries and coming-of-age stories will enjoy it.

Favorite Quote:
There's just something about a mystery. You've got this question rattling around your head, so all-consuming that there's hardly room for anything else. What's Moriarty up to now? Who's the devil in the blue dress? What is the secret of the old clock? But the whole time, you have faith you'll have your answer by the last page.
I got this ARC from Edelweiss. You can buy your copy here.

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Spotlight: Boneshaker by Cherie Priest

I have decided that 2016 is the year when I take a look at books on my TBR mountain and read them or donate them. I'm starting with the books that have been on the stack the longest.

Hopefully by the end of 2016, my TBR mountain will be only a foothill.

This week I'm turning the spotlight on Boneshaker by Cherie Priest. I bought this one January 11, 2010. I was attracted by the steampunk aspects of this story.

Here is the description from Amazon:
In the early days of the Civil War, rumors of gold in the frozen Klondike brought hordes of newcomers to the Pacific Northwest. Anxious to compete, Russian prospectors commissioned inventor Leviticus Blue to create a great machine that could mine through Alaska's ice. Thus was Dr. Blue's Incredible Bone-Shaking Drill Engine born.

But on its first test run the Boneshaker went terribly awry, destroying several blocks of downtown Seattle and unearthing a subterranean vein of blight gas that turned anyone who breathed it into the living dead.

Now it is sixteen years later, and a wall has been built to enclose the devastated and toxic city. Just beyond it lives Blue's widow, Briar Wilkes. Life is hard with a ruined reputation and a teenaged boy to support, but she and Ezekiel are managing. Until Ezekiel undertakes a secret crusade to rewrite history.

His quest will take him under the wall and into a city teeming with ravenous undead, air pirates, criminal overlords, and heavily armed refugees. And only Briar can bring him out alive.
I think what has been holding me back from reading this one is the mention of zombies. I don't read books about zombies. Is there enough steampunk to outweigh the zombies?

Have you read this one? Should I move it up on my stack?

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Teaser Tuesday: The Mystery of Hollow Places by Rebecca Podos

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:
In the very back where the author's headshot should go, there is instead a picture of my mother holding me in her hospital room at Good Shepherd (which gives the impression that Joshua Scott is either a small woman with a masculine name, or a baby).
This week my teaser comes from The Mystery of Hollow Places by Rebecca Podos. I got this eARC from Edelweiss. Here is the description from Amazon:
The Mystery of Hollow Places is a gorgeously written, stunningly original novel of love, loss, and identity, from debut author Rebecca Podos.

All Imogene Scott knows of her mother is the bedtime story her father told her as a child. It’s the story of how her parents met: he, a forensic pathologist; she, a mysterious woman who came to identify a body. A woman who left Imogene and her father when she was a baby, a woman who was always possessed of a powerful loneliness, a woman who many referred to as “troubled waters.”

Now Imogene is seventeen, and her father, a famous author of medical mysteries, has struck out in the middle of the night and hasn’t come back. Neither Imogene’s stepmother nor the police know where he could’ve gone, but Imogene is convinced he’s looking for her mother. And she decides it’s up to her to put to use the skills she’s gleaned from a lifetime of reading her father’s books to track down a woman she’s only known in stories in order to find him and, perhaps, the answer to the question she’s carried with her for her entire life.

Monday, January 18, 2016

It's Monday! What Are You Reading? (Jan. 18, 2016)

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...

This was a quiet week. We are nearing the end of the semester and so students are busy finishing final projects. We had a tour of the new part of the elementary which should be open for business by the end of the month. Preschool classes are already started in their new location but the offices and cafeteria still have some work that needs to be done.

Our weather had taken a turn for the cold here in Minnesota. We haven't had much snow and that doesn't look like its going to change in the near future. That is a good thing because I have a couple of doctor's appointments next week that I don't want to have to reschedule because of weather. 

I'm disappointed but not surprised that I didn't win the Powerball last week. I guess I'll just have to continue life as usual instead of moving to a tropical location where I can just laze on the beach.

Read Last Week
I read two good ones from my review stack this week.

The Shadow Queen by C. J. Redwine was an excellent fantasy loosely based on the Snow White fairy tale. I loved the action and the romance. My review will be posted on Feb. 18.

The Girl from Everywhere by Heidi Heilig was an excellent time travel story. The main character was wonderful. I enjoyed the Hawaiian setting too and even liked the potential romantic triangle in the book. My review will be posted on Feb. 20.

Currently
Burning Glass by Kathryn Purdie is next on my review stack. This is a fantasy recommended for fans of Red Queen and Shadow and Bone, both of which I enjoyed.

Next Week
These review books are next on my stack:
Reviews Posted
Want to See What I Added to My Stack Last Week?
I was approved for The Giant Smugglers by Chris Pauls and Matt Solomon at NetGalley this week. I also requested it from the Macmillan catalog earlier. This is a middle grade fantasy that will be released on May 17.

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

Saturday, January 16, 2016

ARC Review: Friday Barnes, Girl Detective by R. A. Spratt

Friday Barnes Girl Detective
Author: R. A. Spratt
Publication: Roaring Brook Press (January 19, 2016)

Description: Imagine if Sherlock Holmes was an eleven-year-old girl!

When Friday Barnes, girl genius, solves a bank robbery, she uses the reward money to send herself to Highcrest Academy, the most exclusive boarding school in the country―and discovers it's a hotbed of crime!

Soon she's investigating everything from disappearing homework to the terrifying Yeti haunting the school swamp. But the biggest mystery yet is Ian Wainscott, the handsomest (and most arrogant) boy in school who inexplicably hates her. Will the homework be found? Can they ever track down the Yeti? And why is Ian out to ruin her?

With black-and-white art throughout, Friday Barnes, Girl Detective is the launch of an exciting new mystery series Kirkus calls, "Delightful, highly logical, and well-informed fun."

My Thoughts: Friday Barnes is an eleven-year-old genius who has more or less raised herself since she was the family afterthought and her parents were too busy being academics to pay any attention to her. She has read her parents' multi-thousand volume library and spends her time in school reading detective stories.

Her only friend is her uncle Bernie who works as an investigator for an insurance company. He spends every Thursday evening with Friday. One week his is troubled about a case at work which Friday offers to solve for him. Once she does, and collects the substantial reward, she decides to attend the most prestigious boarding school available.

Friday finally makes a friend in her new roommate Melanie and begins solving problems around the school. She searches for things ranging from missing homework to the mysterious Yeti haunting the school swamp. She is teased by the in-crowd of schools and pranked by the student who previously had the school's high IQ but nothing stops Friday's investigations or her wry comments an the actions of others.

This was a fun story to read. I loved Friday's observations on other people and their motives. All of the characters were more caricatures than realistic people with their eccentricities spotlighted. I can't wait to read the sequels and follow more of Friday's adventures. The cliffhanger ending makes me especially eager for the next book.

Favorite Quote:
But the problem is that when you devote your entire time to going unnoticed by your parents, that talent seeps over into every other aspect of your life. Friday went unnoticed at school, on the bus, and at shops as well.
I got this ARC from Macmillan. You can buy your copy here.

Friday, January 15, 2016

Friday Memes: Friday Barnes, Girl Detective by R. A. Spratt

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:
Friday Barnes was not an unhappy child. That said, she wasn't deliriously over the moon either.
Friday 56:
Friday patted the girl on the shoulder as her eyes leaked and her shoulders heaved. This girl was obviously an expert crier.
This week I am spotlighting Friday Barnes, Girl Detective by R. A. Spratt. I got this middle grade mystery ARC from Macmillan. Here is the description from Amazon:
Imagine if Sherlock Holmes was an eleven-year-old girl!

When Friday Barnes, girl genius, solves a bank robbery, she uses the reward money to send herself to Highcrest Academy, the most exclusive boarding school in the country―and discovers it's a hotbed of crime!

Soon she's investigating everything from disappearing homework to the terrifying Yeti haunting the school swamp. But the biggest mystery yet is Ian Wainscott, the handsomest (and most arrogant) boy in school who inexplicably hates her. Will the homework be found? Can they ever track down the Yeti? And why is Ian out to ruin her?

With black-and-white art throughout, Friday Barnes, Girl Detective is the launch of an exciting new mystery series Kirkus calls, "Delightful, highly logical, and well-informed fun."

Thursday, January 14, 2016

ARC Review: Sword and Verse by Kathy MacMillan

Sword and Verse
Author: Kathy MacMillan
Publication: HarperTeen (January 19, 2016)

Description: In a sweeping fantasy that award-winning author Franny Billingsley calls "fascinating and unique," debut author Kathy MacMillan weaves palace intrigue and epic world-building to craft a tale for fans of Rae Carson and Megan Whalen Turner.

Raisa was just a child when she was sold into slavery in the kingdom of Qilara. Before she was taken away, her father had been adamant that she learn to read and write. But where she now lives, literacy is a capital offense for all but the nobility. The written language is closely protected, and only the King, Prince, Tutor, and Tutor-in-training are allowed to learn its very highest form. So when she is plucked from her menial labor and selected to replace the last Tutor-in-training who was executed, Raisa knows that betraying any hint of her past could mean death.

Keeping her secret guarded is hard enough, but the romance that's been blossoming between her and Prince Mati isn't helping matters. Then Raisa is approached by the Resistance--an underground rebel army--to help liberate the city's slaves. She wants to free her people, but that would mean aiding a war against Mati. As Raisa struggles with what to do, she discovers a secret that the Qilarites have been hiding for centuries--one that, if uncovered, could bring the kingdom to its knees.

My Thoughts: This fantasy was an engaging story. The main character is Raisa who goes from beloved daughter of rebels to slave to tutor to revolutionary to priestess in the course of 384 pages. Raisa and all her ethnic group are slaves. Raisa works in the palace before she is chosen as tutor-in-training. Literacy is reserved for only the Scholar class but Raisa's father was a Learned One who was about to begin teaching her to write when the raid that captured her killed him, her mother, and her brother. Her only gift from him is a bit of paper that she is unable to read which contains her heart-verse. Her initial motivation is to learn to write in order to translate this verse.

She learns side-by-side with Prince Mati who is the heir to the throne. As is often the case with two young, healthy people who spend a lot of time together, they fall in love. But the course of love isn't destined to run smooth. There is the betrothal to a rich Scholar's daughter and Raisa's growing role with the Resistance which conspires to separate them. There are many other stressors on their relationship too. Both tend to mistrust each other and each keeps secrets from the other.

After his father is assassinated, Mati is besieged on all sides. The priests want to depose him and take over the kingdom. His future father-in-law is also conspiring with the priests with the goal of putting his daughter on the throne. Then there are the Revolutionaries who view him as the symbol of all the oppression that they live under. Raisa needs to act as a bridge between Mati and the Revolutionaries which is an extremely difficult task.

Finally, a paranormal aspect comes into the story too. Each chapter begins with parts of the story of the gods who formed the world. But the gods are not gone and Raisa's actions manage to free one who has been imprisoned since the beginning of time. And she is bent on revenge.

This was an excellent story that has the added benefit of being a stand-alone fantasy. While more in the world would be wonderful, nothing is needed. The story is complete.

Favorite Quote:
My fingers curled angrily around the edges of my heart-verse. What did he know? I'd been taking risks my whole life, just being alive as the daughter of a Learned One. And what could I possibly do to change all those horrible things? He was mad to think that learning to write would help the Resistance defeat anyone.
I got this ARC from Edelweiss. You can buy your copy here.

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

Spotlight: The Warrior Heir by Cinda Williams Chima

I have decided that 2016 is the year when I take a look at books on my TBR mountain and read them or donate them. I'm starting with the books that have been on the stack the longest.

Hopefully by the end of 2016, my TBR mountain will be only a foothill.

This week I'm turning the spotlight on The Warrior Heir by Cinda Williams Chima. I bought this book on November 11, 2009 along with the next two books in the Heir series.

Here is the description from Amazon:
Before he knew about the Roses, 16-year-old Jack lived an unremarkable life in the small Ohio town of Trinity. Only the medicine he has to take daily and the thick scar above his heart set him apart from the other high-schoolers. Then one day Jack skips his medicine. Suddenly, he is stronger, fiercer, and more confident than ever before. And it feels great-until he loses control of his own strength and nearly kills another player during soccer team tryouts.

Soon, Jack learns the startling truth about himself: He is Weirlind; part of an underground society of magical people who live among us. At the head of this magical society sit the feuding houses of the Red Rose and the White Rose, whose power is determined by playing The Game-a magical tournament in which each house sponsors a warrior to fight to the death. The winning house rules the Weir.

As if his bizarre magical heritage isn't enough, Jack finds out that he's not just another member of Weirlind-he's one of the last of the warriors-at a time when both houses are scouting for a player.
I also have a some of the books in the Seven Realms series. And I recently added her newest - Flamecaster - to my review stack.

Have you read this series? Should I move this series higher on the reading stack?