Thursday, March 31, 2016

State of the Stack (March 31, 2016)

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

May
The Girl I Used to Be by April Henry (May 3)
Traitor Angels by Anne Blankman (May 3)
The Last Time We Were Us by Leah Konen (May 10)
Even If the Sky Falls by Mia Garcia (May 10)
The Giant Smugglers by Chris Pauls and Matt Solomon (May 17)
The Crown's Game by Evelyn Skye (May 17)
Spark by Holly Schindler (May 17)
The Hunt by Megan Shepherd (May 24)
The Underdogs by Sara Hammel (May 31)
 
June
 To Love a Wolf by Paige Tyler (June 7)
Fan the Flames by Katie Ruggle (June 7)
Julia Vanishes by Catherine Egan (June 7)
The Vanishing Throne by Elizabeth May (June 7)
With Malice by Eileen Cook (June 7)
The Haunting of Falcon House by Eugene Yelchin (June 14)
Autofocus by Lauren Gibaldi (June 14)
The Secret Fire by Whitaker Ringwald (June 21)
The Marked Girl by Lindsey Klingele (June 21)

July & August
This Savage Song by Victoria Schwab (July 5)
What the Dead Want by Norah Olson (July 12)
Trapped by S. A. Bodeen (July 26)
The Ministry of SUITs by Paul Gamble (July 26)
The Gilded Cage by Lucinda Gray (August 2)
The Secret Sea by Barry Lyga (August 23)

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. A Lady in the Smoke by Karen Odden (March 24)
  2. Silence by Mercedes Lackey and Cody Martin (March 30)
  3. Stone Field by Christy Lenzi (March 26)
  4. The Glittering Court by Richelle Mead (March 30)
  5. I Dream of Dragons by Ashlyn Chase (March 31)
  6. Tommy McKnight and the Great Election by Danny Kravitz (April 7) 
  7. Flamecaster by Cinda Williams Chima (March 31)
  8. Hold Your Breath by Katie Ruggle (April 2) 
  9. Flawed by Cecelia Ahern (April 2)
  10. Nightstruck by Jenna Black (April 6)
  11. Tell the Wind and Fire by Sarah Rees Brennan (April 9) 
  12. The Obsession by Nora Roberts (April 9) 
  13. Dying for a Taste by Leslie Karst (April 13)
  14. Mr. Fahrenheit by T. Michael Martin (April 14)
  15. Cold Girl by RM Greenaway (April 14)
  16. Love, Lies and Spies by Cindy Anstey (April 16) 
  17. 'Til Death Do Us Part by Amanda Quick (April 16) 
  18. Ferals #2: The Swarm Descends by Jacob Grey (April 21) 
  19. The Outliers by Kimberly McCreight (April 23) 
  20. The Star-Touched Queen by Roshani Chokshi (April 27)
Reviewed This Month
  1. Where You'll Find Me by Natasha Friend
  2. The Great Hunt by Wendy Higgins
  3. A Drop of Night by Stefan Bachmann
  4. The Skeleton Garden by Marty Wingate
  5. The Inn Between by Marina Cohen
  6. Tumbled Graves by Brenda Chapman
  7. Fool Me Once by Harlan Coben
  8. The Nameless City by Faith Erin Hicks
  9. The Girl in the Tower by Lisa Schroeder
  10. A Lady in the Smoke by Karen Odden
  11. Stone Field by Christy Lenzi
  12. The Glittering Court by Richelle Mead
  13. Silence by Mercedes Lackey and Cody Martin
  14. Flamecaster by Cinda Williams Chima
  15. I Dream of Dragons by Ashlyn Chase
I Added These Books

These are listed in the order I received them. Links go to Amazon. Date published is listed in parentheses.
  1. The Obsession by Nora Roberts (Penguin's First to Read - April 12)
  2. The Star-Touched Queen by Roshani Chokshi (Amazon Vine - May 3)
  3. To Love a Wolf by Paige Tyler (NetGalley - June 7)
  4. Megan's Brood by Roy Burdine (Author - July 7, 2015)
Next Month's Plan

Things are moving in the right direction. I added four books and read 20. My goal is zero review books ASAP. As much as I love reviewing books, I really want to read some of the books that have been gathering dust on TBR mountain while I focused on review books. 

ARC Review: Flamecaster by Cinda Williams Chima

Flamecaster
Author: Cinda Williams Chima
Series: Shattered Realms (Book 1)
Publication: HarperTeen (April 5, 2016)

Description: Set in the world of the New York Times bestselling Seven Realms series, a generation later, this is a breathtaking story of dark magic, chilling threats, and two unforgettable characters walking a knife-sharp line between life and death. This dazzling beginning to a new series is indispensable for fans of Cinda Williams Chima and a perfect starting point for readers who are new to her work.

Adrian sul’Han, known as Ash, is a trained healer with a powerful gift of magic—and a thirst for revenge. Ash is forced into hiding after a series of murders throws the queendom into chaos. Now he’s closer than ever to killing the man responsible, the cruel king of Arden. With time running out, Ash faces an excruciating choice: Can he use his powers not to save a life but to take it?

Abandoned at birth, Jenna Bandelow was told that the magemark on the back of her neck would make her a target. But when the King’s Guard launches a relentless search for a girl with a mark like hers, Jenna assumes that it has more to do with her role as a saboteur than any birth-based curse. Though Jenna doesn’t know why she’s being hunted, she knows that she can’t get caught.

Eventually, Ash’s and Jenna’s paths will collide in Arden. Thrown together by chance and joined by their hatred of the ruthless king, they will come to rescue each other in ways they cannot yet imagine.

My Thoughts: This was an entertaining epic fantasy novel that begins a new series set in the world of the Seven Kingdoms. It is filled with interesting characters. Adrian sul'Han, who is better known as Ash, is the son of the Queen of the Fells and a budding mage. When his father is killed in front of him, he runs, vowing revenge on the King of Arden, who ordered the murder. He spends four years learning to be a healer and expert poisoner and keeping the fact that he is alive secret from most. He spends his summer in Arden using his skills as a poisoner to disrupt things for the king as he plots and plans to assassinate the king.

Jenna Bandelow is an orphan who has a mysterious mark on the back of her neck. She has been working in the mines of Delphi until she watches the King of Arden murder her two best friends. Jenna is also determined to kill the king. She begins as a saboteur in Delphi since she is an expert with explosives. She is active in the underground that is trying to retake the city of Delphi from the king.

However, the king has set his spies to find the girl with the mysterious mark on her neck because the Empress of Carthia is willing to trade an army for her. The king needs the army to finally win the 25 year war that he has been waging on the Fells - a war that started over a declined marriage proposal but is now more about religious differences. The Fells is ruled by mages and Arden believes mages are demons and that they must be killed.

After activities of their own, both Ash and Jenna meet in the king of Arden's palace. She is a prisoner and he is too though she is in a cell and he is collared to control his magic and working for the king as a healer and magic detector. They fall in love which is completely unexpected for each of them.

Jenna and Ash aren't the only ones who want to kill the King of Arden. He is not universally beloved. Nor are they the only ones plotting in Arden. Other interesting characters are Lila, who is a fellow student at the school where Ash has been hiding and learning, and Destin Karn, who is the son of the king's most loyal General. Still another interesting character is Evan Strangward who comes to Arden as an emissary of the Empress of Carthia. Everyone has a hidden agenda.

I can't wait to read the next book in this series. There are so many plot threads left dangling and I need to know how the author manages to knit them together.

Favorite Quote:
"By most standards, I've had a miserable life. Orphan, raised in Delphi, forced into the mines at a young age. Marked for death since birth."

He eyed her, his brow furrowed, as if waiting for the punch line. "So? How does that—?"

"And yet, dozens of times, I've been ambushed by joy and beauty in the most unexpected places. Things I would have missed if I'd been preoccupied with pain. A sunrise over a slag heap. Ham for breakfast when I didn't expect it. A song that goes straight to the heart." She ran her fingers along his thigh, feeling his muscles tighten under her hand. "Maybe it's primitive, to live in the moment, but there are advantages. For instance, I never expected to be ambushed by love in a dungeon."
I got this eARC from Edelweiss. You can buy your copy here.

Wednesday, March 30, 2016

ARC Review: The Glittering Court by Richelle Mead

The Glittering Court
Author: Richelle Mead
Series: The Glittering Court (Book 1)
Publication: Razorbill (April 5, 2016)

Description: Big and sweeping, spanning the refined palaces of Osfrid to the gold dust and untamed forests of Adoria, The Glittering Court tells the story of Adelaide, an Osfridian countess who poses as her servant to escape an arranged marriage and start a new life in Adoria, the New World. But to do that, she must join the Glittering Court.

Both a school and a business venture, the Glittering Court is designed to transform impoverished girls into upper-class ladies who appear destined for powerful and wealthy marriages in the New World. Adelaide naturally excels in her training and even makes a few friends: the fiery former laundress Tamsin and the beautiful Sirminican refugee Mira. She manages to keep her true identity hidden from all but one: the intriguing Cedric Thorn, son of the wealthy proprietor of the Glittering Court.

When Adelaide discovers that Cedric is hiding a dangerous secret of his own, together, they hatch a scheme to make the best of Adelaide’s deception. Complications soon arise—first, as they cross the treacherous seas from Osfrid to Adoria, and later, when Adelaide catches the attention of a powerful governor.

But no complication will prove quite as daunting as the potent attraction simmering between Adelaide and Cedric. An attraction that, if acted on, would scandalize the Glittering Court and make them both outcasts in wild, vastly uncharted lands. . . .

My Thoughts: Lady Elizabeth Witmore, Countess of Rothford, has fallen on hard times. Since the death of her parents, she and her grandmother have been selling off properties. Now it is essential that Lady Elizabeth make a good marriage. Despite her glorious bloodlines and beauty, there are few suitors for a woman with no money. Her only suitor is a a distant cousin who is not at all attractive and comes with an overbearing grandmother who is threatening to take Elizabeth "under her close supervision."

When Elizabeth learns that one of her maids has been offered a contract to travel to Adoria as a wife for one of the settlers, Elizabeth sees a way out for herself. Since the maid doesn't want to go and would prefer to travel to her family and work in a dairy, Elizabeth assumes her identity and becomes Adelaide Bailey. She travels to the Glittering Court where she is to be taught to be a lady and a suitable wife for a successful man in Adoria. There she meets and becomes friends with Tamsin, a former laundress, and Mira, a Sirminican refugee.

She is also attracted to Cedric Thorne whose father and uncle are behind the whole Glittering Court scheme. He is the only one who knows her secret since he met her when he was recruiting her maid. He doesn't give her away as he has secrets of his own which Adelaide soon discovers.

This was an excellent story filled with adventure and romance as the characters travel from Osfrid to the new land of Adoria. There are storms at sea, persistent suitors, villains, and heroes. I loved the growing romance between Cedric and Adelaide. I also loved the friendship that grew between Tamsin, Mira and Adelaide. I really would like to know Tamsin's story and Mira's and hope that more books will be coming to tell them.

Favorite Quote:
Adoria. The very sound of it inspired adventure and excitement. It was a new world, a world far removed from the one in which I was required to marry my itching cousin—but also a world without galleries and theaters and luxuriously dressed nobility.
I got this ARC from Penguin's First to Read program. You can buy your copy here.

Tuesday, March 29, 2016

Teaser Tuesday: Flamecaster by Cinda Williams Chima

Teaser 

Teaser Tuesdays is a weekly bookish meme, hosted by MizB of Books and a Beat. 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 (from the 10% mark on my Kindle):
The herb shop stood in a Delphian neighborhood so desperate that the toughest streetlord from Ragmarket would think twice before moving in. First off, there was nothing worthwhile to steal. He'd already seen a knife fight break out over a warm pair of gloves.
This week my teaser comes from Flamecaster by Cinda Williams Chima. I got this eARC from Edelweiss. Here is the description:
Set in the world of the New York Times bestselling Seven Realms series, a generation later, this is a breathtaking story of dark magic, chilling threats, and two unforgettable characters walking a knife-sharp line between life and death. This dazzling beginning to a new series is indispensable for fans of Cinda Williams Chima and a perfect starting point for readers who are new to her work.

Adrian sul’Han, known as Ash, is a trained healer with a powerful gift of magic—and a thirst for revenge. Ash is forced into hiding after a series of murders throws the queendom into chaos. Now he’s closer than ever to killing the man responsible, the cruel king of Arden. With time running out, Ash faces an excruciating choice: Can he use his powers not to save a life but to take it?

Abandoned at birth, Jenna Bandelow was told that the magemark on the back of her neck would make her a target. But when the King’s Guard launches a relentless search for a girl with a mark like hers, Jenna assumes that it has more to do with her role as a saboteur than any birth-based curse. Though Jenna doesn’t know why she’s being hunted, she knows that she can’t get caught.

Eventually, Ash’s and Jenna’s paths will collide in Arden. Thrown together by chance and joined by their hatred of the ruthless king, they will come to rescue each other in ways they cannot yet imagine.
I have, but haven't read, the Seven Realms series. I'm hoping this is a good introduction.

Monday, March 28, 2016

It's Monday! What Are You Reading? (March 28, 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...

Our Spring Break began a day early thanks to ten inches of heavy wet snow. Since we found out Wednesday night, I was able to sleep in on Thursday. Currently we have piles of snow but the roads are clean and dry.

Since I didn't have travel plans, I have been able to do some extra reading and have just been relaxing. For the first time that I recall, I don't have masses of correcting to do this weekend. Next week is the end of the quarter and report cards so I imagine I'll be dealing with late work all week.

I spent a good part of Saturday morning setting up blog posts for May. I have thirty scheduled posts and sixteen reviews in draft. I have five more books to read that will be on my April calendar but I have finished reading all of my April releases. 

Read Last Week
Mr. Fahrenheit by T. Michael Martin was a science fiction story that was reminiscent of the cheesy science fiction movies of the 1950s and quite proud of it. I liked the characters and thought the story was fast-paced and interesting. My review will be posted on April 14.

Love, Lies and Spies by Cindy Anstey was a very entertaining Regency romance. I loved the heroine who was not a simpering miss but an original - accident-prone but also independent. The hero was suitably heroic. It was fun watching those two marriage-averse characters fall in love and change their minds while trying to root out Napoleon's spies. My review will be posted on April 16.
Ferals #2: The Swarm Descends by Jacob Grey is the sequel to FERALS. Caw and his friends have another exciting adventure as they face another villain who wants to take over the city. This is fast-paced, middle grade fantasy. My review will be posted on April 21.

Currently
Next on my stack is The Outliers by Kimberly McCreight. This is supposed to be a contemporary thriller. I can't wait to dig in.

Next Week
More from my review stack this week:
      Reviews Posted
      Want to See What I Added to My Stack Last Week?

      Nothing!

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

      Saturday, March 26, 2016

      ARC Review: Stone Field by Christy Lenzi

      Stone Field
      Author: Christy Lenzi
      Publication: Roaring Brook Press (March 29, 2016)

      Description: A stunning debut novel that offers a new look at a classic love story about soul mates torn apart by the circumstances of their time.

      Catrina Dickinson is haunted by her past and feels caged in by life in small town Missouri. When she discovers a strange man in Stone Field where her family grows their sorghum crop, her life takes on new meaning. He has no memory of who he is or what brought him to Cat's farm, but they fall passionately in love. Meanwhile, the country is on the brink of the Civil War, and the conflict in Missouri demands that everyone take a side before the bloodbath reaches their doorstep.

      A passionate and atmospheric reimagining of Emily Bronte's Wuthering Heights, Stone Field explores how violence and vengeance perverts the human spirit, and how hatred can be transcended by love.

      My Thoughts: This reimagining of Wuthering Heights stars Catrina Dickinson who is a young woman living in Missouri during the Civil War. She is dreamy, artistic, not interested in "womanly" things, and guilt-stricken over her role in her mother's death. When she finds a naked man in the families sorghum field, she brings him home. She takes one look at him and feels that he is her soul-mate. When he awakens from the fever that left him unconscious in the field, he has no memory of his past. She names him Stonefield after the field where he was found and the two become close. Since he is likely at least part Creek Indian, he becomes the target for prejudices of the day.

      The whole area is in turmoil because some support the Union, some the Confederacy, and some just want both sides to leave them alone. Catrina's brother Henry is a strong supporter of the Union. Her friend Effie who is the black daughter of a former missionary in Africa who inherited property and became the richest man in town has her own issues to deal with. Effie would be a doctor if she were not female and black. A new preacher comes to town and stirs up trouble for Catrina when he decides that she is possessed by the devil because she doesn't behave the way a proper woman should.

      The story was moody, atmospheric, and still rooted in the very difficult time that was the Civil War. Catrina would love to let the whole thing pass by her and live in the present with her love Stonefield but outside forces won't let her. Fans of historical fiction and fans of Wuthering Heights will enjoy this creative reimagining.

      Favorite Quote:
      I love that Stonefield thinks the way I do. We should just keep living in the here and now. The past is too painful and the future is too uncertain. 
      I got this eARC from Macmillan. You can buy your copy here.

      Friday, March 25, 2016

      Friday Memes: Stone Field by Christy Lenzi

      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:
      I'm a loaded gun.

      Henry knows. He thinks he and Jesus can save me from myself.
      Friday 56 (Location 560 on my Kindle):
      Oh Hell. Folks wouldn't want her to be the one teaching their children. Sometimes I forget. Effie says that's because I'm self-centered and don't pay attention to what's happening around me, but I say its because I'm just good at minding my own business and maybe she should try it.
      This week I am spotlighting Stone Field by Christy Lenzi. I got this eARC from Macmillan through NetGalley. Here is the description:
      A stunning debut novel that offers a new look at a classic love story about soul mates torn apart by the circumstances of their time.

      Catrina Dickinson is haunted by her past and feels caged in by life in small town Missouri. When she discovers a strange man in Stone Field where her family grows their sorghum crop, her life takes on new meaning. He has no memory of who he is or what brought him to Cat's farm, but they fall passionately in love. Meanwhile, the country is on the brink of the Civil War, and the conflict in Missouri demands that everyone take a side before the bloodbath reaches their doorstep.

      A passionate and atmospheric reimagining of Emily Bronte's Wuthering Heights, Stone Field explores how violence and vengeance perverts the human spirit, and how hatred can be transcended by love.

      Thursday, March 24, 2016

      ARC Review: The Girl in the Tower by Lisa Schroeder

      The Girl in the Tower
      Author: Lisa Schroeder
      Publication: Henry Holt and Co. (BYR) (March 29, 2016)

      Description: Ever since she could remember, Violet and her mother have been locked away in a tower by the evil Queen Bogdana, who has the kingdom under her spell. The queen has all she wants except one thing-beauty. Violet possesses this beauty. She also has a secret: though she is very small, both her spirit and her heart are mighty.

      When Violet is summoned by Bogdana to start training to become a real princess, it seems like her life might be taking a turn for the better. But hope quickly fades when Violet's mother is expelled from the castle and they're forbidden to see each other ever again. With everyone's lives in the balance, it's up to Violet to break the spell and reunite her family.

      My Thoughts: This story begins in a kingdom controlled by the evil Queen Bogdana. She is a witch who has cast a spell over everyone. She can have everything she wants except beauty. The spell to become beautiful requires two very special ingredients - a feather from a living hummingbird and a long hair from a dark-haired girl with lavender eyes between the ages of eleven and twelve.

      The queen goes to great trouble and expense to import hummingbirds to live in her garden. She also imprisons a traveling minstrel and her newborn daughter in a tower when the child is born with lavender eyes. This is the story of that girl - Violet - and her mother who have lived imprisoned in the tower for almost eleven years.

      Her mother Nuri has tried to make the tower a bearable experience for Violet but encouraging her imagination and telling her stories. Nuri also tells her stories about her father who is also a traveling musician and who is surely searching for the two of them. Violet has grown to be both brave and kind. Nuri has been assisted by a palace maid named Maggie and her husband George who is a gardener. He has made a secret garden for Violet where she has been befriended by the queen's hummingbirds.

      This is the story of what happens when the queen discovers Violet, decides to turn her into a princess, and banishes Nuri from the castle. This was a sweet story suitable for elementary students. Its message is that love and kindness is the true beauty. This would make a good first long chapter book for second and third graders who love stories that are like fairy tales.

      Favorite Quote:
      Nuri awoke to a light pitter-patter on the roof the next morning. Instinctively, she reached over for Violet, to tell her to listen for the rain. But when she opened her eyes, a sea of sadness washed over her, and she lay there for a while until it passed.
      I got this ARC from Macmillan. You can buy your copy here.

      Wednesday, March 23, 2016

      Lucky Leprechaun Giveaway Hop Winner

      lucky leprechaun 

      Congratulations to Jaime.

      Your $15 Amazon Gift Card has been sent.

      ARC Review: The Nameless City by Faith Erin Hicks

      The Nameless City
      Author: Faith Erin Hicks
      Series: The Nameless City (Book 1)
      Publication: First Second (April 5, 2016)

      Description: Every nation that invades the City gives it a new name. But before long, new invaders arrive and the City changes hands once again. The natives don't let themselves get caught up in the unending wars. To them, their home is the Nameless City, and those who try to name it are forever outsiders.

      Kaidu is one such outsider. He's a Dao born and bred--a member of the latest occupying nation. Rat is a native of the Nameless City. At first, she hates Kai for everything he stands for, but his love of his new home may be the one thing that can bring these two unlikely friends together. Let's hope so, because the fate of the Nameless City rests in their hands.

      My Thoughts: Kaidu is new to the city that his people conquered thirty years ago. He had been living with his mother in the homelands but has come to the city to meet his father. On his second day in the city he gets lost and meets a local girl who steals his knife. He chases her down and manages to catch her which impresses her. But she wants nothing to do with one of those who conquered her city. But Kaidu makes a trade - food for running lessons - and the two begin a friendship.

      As she teaches him to run and find his way around the city, the friendship grows between the two of them. She tells him that her name is Rat and introduces him to some of the people who are important to her. She tells him that most of her people just want to live and don't take part in any of the battles for control of the city.

      They attend the Festival of the Ruins together where Kaidu learns that not every citizen of the Nameless City feels the same way. He hears some agitating for action and trying to build momentum for a revolution. When Rat overhears plans for an assassination attempt on the General of All Blades, she and Kaidu must band together and face very difficult odds to save the city they both love.

      I thought the art was well done in this story. I liked that I could easily tell the characters apart. I liked the rich detail in the drawings that really made the city come to life. I also thought the story was stronger than in many of the graphic novels I have read.

      Fans of graphic novels and stories about friendship will enjoy this one. 

      Favorite Quote:
      The city is invaded and conquered over and over, so the named choose not to fight. We let the cycle of war and invasion pass over us. Don't fight. Just live.
      I got this ARC from Macmillan. You can buy your copy here.

      Tuesday, March 22, 2016

      Teaser Tuesday: The Girl in the Tower by Lisa Schroeder

      Teaser Tuesdays is a weekly bookish meme, hosted by MizB of Books and a Beat. 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:
      "The hummingbirds are like me," she'd said, flapping her arms and running around the garden. "They are small, but they can do amazing things. I might be small, but I can be a pirate or a princess or an artist. I can do amazing things, too. We are alike, the birds and me." She'd flapped her arms harder, pretending to fly.
      This week my teaser comes from The Girl in the Tower by Lisa Schroeder. I got this ARC from Macmillan. Here is the description:
      Ever since she could remember, Violet and her mother have been locked away in a tower by the evil Queen Bogdana, who has the kingdom under her spell. The queen has all she wants except one thing - beauty. Violet possesses this beauty. She also has a secret: though she is very small, both her spirit and her heart are mighty.

      When Violet is summoned by Bogdana to start training to become a real princess, it seems like her life might be taking a turn for the better. But hope quickly fades when Violet's mother is expelled from the castle and they're forbidden to see each other ever again. With everyone's lives in the balance, it's up to Violet to break the spell and reunite her family.

      Monday, March 21, 2016

      It's Monday! What Are You Reading? (March 21, 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...

      It has been another week of changeable weather in Minnesota. One day I haul out the spring jacket, the next day it's back to the winter one. I am enjoying having more daylight at the end of the day but am still trying to catch up from the lost hour of sleep. We have three four-day weeks in a row coming up at work as we get Friday and Monday off over Easter and then have the following Monday for staff in-service before we begin our final quarter.

      I am hoping to get a little extra reading time with a couple extra days off. I won't be traveling except for a few hours up to the Cities for an author event. A friend and I are taking that road trip next Saturday. I can't wait to take lots of pictures and meet authors I haven't met before.

      Read Last Week
      All three books I read this past week were from my review stack.

      Flawed by Cecelia Ahern was a dystopian story set in a plausible near future. I enjoyed the main character and the story but hated the cliffhanger ending. My review will be posted on April 2.

      Nightstruck by Jenna Black was a paranormal set in the present day. It was creepy and filled with tension. I liked that it was a normal girl who was caught in a very paranormal situation. This was another one with a cliffhanger ending. My review will be posted on April 6.

      Tell the Wind and Fire by Sarah Rees Brennan gave A Tale of Two Cities a dystopian twist by setting it in a New York City divided into two magical camps - the Dark and the Light. Revolution is brewing and our heroine, who just wants to keep her head down and live, finds herself the poster child for both sides of the upcoming conflict. My review will be posted on April 9.

      Currently
      Mr. Fahrenheit by T. Michael Martin is an eARC from Edelweiss. It combines science fiction with a coming of age story and got a starred review at Booklist.

      Next Week
      Still more review books are on the horizon for next week.
      Reviews Posted
      Want to See What I Added to My Stack Last Week?
      After finishing Winter by Marissa Meyer, I decided I needed to read the novellas and short stories set in the world and bought Stars Above.

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

      Saturday, March 19, 2016

      Book Review: Winter by Marissa Meyer

      Winter
      Author: Marissa Meyer
      Series: Lunar Chronicles (Book 4)
      Publication: Feiwel & Friends (November 10, 2015)

      Description: Princess Winter is admired by the Lunar people for her grace and kindness, and despite the scars that mar her face, her beauty is said to be even more breathtaking than that of her stepmother, Queen Levana.

      Winter despises her stepmother, and knows Levana won't approve of her feelings for her childhood friend--the handsome palace guard, Jacin. But Winter isn't as weak as Levana believes her to be and she's been undermining her stepmother's wishes for years. Together with the cyborg mechanic, Cinder, and her allies, Winter might even have the power to launch a revolution and win a war that's been raging for far too long.

      Can Cinder, Scarlet, Cress, and Winter defeat Levana and find their happily ever afters? Fans will not want to miss this thrilling conclusion to Marissa Meyer's national bestselling Lunar Chronicles series.

      My Thoughts: What a breathtaking and wonderful conclusion to the Lunar Chronicles! WINTER reunites all of our favorite characters from earlier books in the series and lets us get to know Princess Winter who is going crazy from not using her lunar gift but who often sees the truths of things others can't see.

      This is a the story of a revolution as Cinder and her allies are determined to end the rule of the evil Queen Levana and free the lunar people. We see them working together and alone in building the revolution from the grass roots to the queen's palace. We see the characters in incredible danger. We also see them building their own relationships with their loves too.

      The book is told from multiple viewpoints. The only viewpoints that I didn't notice were Thorne and Iko's though they may have been there and they certainly weren't neglected characters. I loved Thorne's egotistical moments and Iko's profound loyalty to her friend Cinder. Every character had multiple shining moments.

      I think this book was an excellent conclusion to a very enjoyable series.

      Favorite Quote:
      "I need him as much as he needs me. But that doesn't make it love."

      Winter lowered her lashes. "Actually, dear friend, I suspect that is precisely what makes it love."
      I bought this one. You can buy your copy here.

      Friday, March 18, 2016

      Friday Memes: Winter by Marissa Meyer

      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:
      Winter's toes had become ice cubes. They were as cold as space. As cold as the dark side of Luna. As cold as—

      "...security feeds captured him entering the AR-Central med-clinic's sublevels at 23:00 U.T.C..."
      Friday 56:
      "All right. I'm going to make you a sandwich." Standing, Cress gathered her courage, along with her most demanding voice, and planted a hand on her hip. "And you are going to eat it without argument. You need to keep up your strength if you're goint to be of any use to us, and Scarlet."
      This week I am spotlighting Winter by Marissa Meyer which bring the Lunar Chronicles series to its conclusion. Here is the description from Amazon:
      Princess Winter is admired by the Lunar people for her grace and kindness, and despite the scars that mar her face, her beauty is said to be even more breathtaking than that of her stepmother, Queen Levana.

      Winter despises her stepmother, and knows Levana won't approve of her feelings for her childhood friend--the handsome palace guard, Jacin. But Winter isn't as weak as Levana believes her to be and she's been undermining her stepmother's wishes for years. Together with the cyborg mechanic, Cinder, and her allies, Winter might even have the power to launch a revolution and win a war that's been raging for far too long.

      Can Cinder, Scarlet, Cress, and Winter defeat Levana and find their happily ever afters? Fans will not want to miss this thrilling conclusion to Marissa Meyer's national bestselling Lunar Chronicles series.