Saturday, April 30, 2016

ARC Review: Traitor Angels by Anne Blankman

Traitor Angels
Author: Anne Blankman
Publication: Balzer + Bray (May 3, 2016)

Description: A romantic and exhilarating historical adventure about a girl who must unlock the secrets within Paradise Lost to save her father—perfect for fans of Revolution and Code Name Verity—from acclaimed author Anne Blankman, whose debut novel, Prisoner of Night and Fog, was a Sydney Taylor Notable Book for Teens in 2015

Six years have passed since England’s King Charles II returned from exile to reclaim the throne, ushering in a new era of stability for his subjects.

Except for Elizabeth Milton. The daughter of notorious poet John Milton, Elizabeth has never known her place in this shifting world—except by her father’s side. By day she helps transcribe his latest masterpiece, the epic poem Paradise Lost, and by night she learns languages and sword fighting. Although she does not dare object, she suspects that he’s training her for a mission whose purpose she cannot fathom.

Until one night the king’s men arrive at her family’s country home to arrest her father. Determined to save him, Elizabeth follows his one cryptic clue and journeys to Oxford, accompanied by her father’s mysterious young houseguest, Antonio Viviani, a darkly handsome Italian scientist who surprises her at every turn. Funny, brilliant, and passionate, Antonio seems just as determined to protect her father as she is—but can she trust him with her heart?

When the two discover that Milton has planted an explosive secret in the half-finished Paradise Lost—a secret the king and his aristocratic supporters are desperate to conceal—Elizabeth is faced with a devastating choice: cling to the shelter of her old life, or risk cracking the code, unleashing a secret that could save her father . . . and tear apart the very fabric of society.

My Thoughts: This historical fiction story is set in England in 1666. Charles II is on the throne and Cromwell's government is disbanded. The narrator is Elizabeth Milton, daughter of John, who is determined to protect her blind father from being executed by Charles for his role in Cromwell's government. She had been educated as a boy, learning languages and sword-fighting, and she acts as her father's secretary as he is writing Paradise Lost. When a young man arrives from Italy to speak to her father a chain of events begins that will shake her world.

Antonio Viviani is a student of Vincenzo Viviani who was a student of Galileo and a noted mathematician in Italy. In this story, Milton met Galileo when he was a young man and Galileo shared with him a secret that could topple kings and discredit the Church. Milton has hidden clues to the secret in his poetry and in Paradise Lost. When the king has Milton imprisoned, it is up to Elizabeth and Antonio to solve the hidden clues and convince the king to spare Milton.

Antonio and Elizabeth are aided by Robert, Duke of Lockton, Charles II's oldest illegitimate son. Robert convinces them that he is on their side and eager to keep his father from gaining control of Galileo's discovery which he fears will make his father a tyrant. But Robert has a hidden agenda of his own which leaves Elizabeth trying to decide who she can trust.

I enjoyed this story about a young woman who has her cherished beliefs shattered and who has to remake her own reality to conform to new information. I enjoyed the historical setting and the glimpses of non-fictional personages of the day - Samuel Pepys, Robert Boyle, and Robert Hooke, among them. I enjoyed being able to immerse myself in the worldview of the time when the Bible was held as the literal truth and science was in its infancy. I also enjoyed the romance that grew between Elizabeth and Antonio.

Fans of historical fiction will enjoy this engaging story.

Favorite Quote:
All afternoon, I had been reflecting on Galileo's discovery, poking at it as I would with a wound, my fingers soft and hesitant. I had been taught that every passage in the Bible contained incontrovertible truths. To think otherwise was sacrilege. Galileo's story could divide hearts and empires, bring governments crashing down and crack the Church in two. If Antonio and Robert were right and the answers to divine mysteries were rooted in natural philosophy, then every piece in our carefully constructed world would unravel, like threads in a tapestry, leaving a half-formed picture.
I got this ARC from Edelweiss. You can buy your copy here.

Friday, April 29, 2016

Friday Memes: Traitor Angels by Anne Blankman

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:
"In this earthly life," my father often said to me, "we move with real or willful blindness. But only one way leads to true darkness."
Friday 56:
I saw at once how Francis had known they were king's men; beneath their broad-brimmed hats they sported the shaven heads of noblemen, having forgone their usual wigs for the journey. Everyone knew the aristocrats were loyal to the king; these men were our enemies.
This week I am spotlighting Traitor Angels by Anne Blankman. I got this eARC from Edelweiss. Here is the description from Amazon:
A romantic and exhilarating historical adventure about a girl who must unlock the secrets within Paradise Lost to save her father—perfect for fans of Revolution and Code Name Verity—from acclaimed author Anne Blankman, whose debut novel, Prisoner of Night and Fog, was a Sydney Taylor Notable Book for Teens in 2015

Six years have passed since England’s King Charles II returned from exile to reclaim the throne, ushering in a new era of stability for his subjects.

Except for Elizabeth Milton. The daughter of notorious poet John Milton, Elizabeth has never known her place in this shifting world—except by her father’s side. By day she helps transcribe his latest masterpiece, the epic poem Paradise Lost, and by night she learns languages and sword fighting. Although she does not dare object, she suspects that he’s training her for a mission whose purpose she cannot fathom.

Until one night the king’s men arrive at her family’s country home to arrest her father. Determined to save him, Elizabeth follows his one cryptic clue and journeys to Oxford, accompanied by her father’s mysterious young houseguest, Antonio Viviani, a darkly handsome Italian scientist who surprises her at every turn. Funny, brilliant, and passionate, Antonio seems just as determined to protect her father as she is—but can she trust him with her heart?

When the two discover that Milton has planted an explosive secret in the half-finished Paradise Lost—a secret the king and his aristocratic supporters are desperate to conceal—Elizabeth is faced with a devastating choice: cling to the shelter of her old life, or risk cracking the code, unleashing a secret that could save her father . . . and tear apart the very fabric of society.

Thursday, April 28, 2016

ARC Review: The May Queen Murders by Sarah Jude

The May Queen Murders
Author: Sarah Jude
Publication: HMH Books for Young Readers (May 3, 2016)

Description: Stay on the roads. Don’t enter the woods. Never go out at night. 

Those are the rules in Rowan’s Glen, a remote farming community in the Missouri Ozarks where Ivy Templeton’s family has lived for centuries. It’s an old-fashioned way of life, full of superstition and traditions, and sixteen-year-old Ivy loves it. The other kids at school may think the Glen kids are weird, but Ivy doesn’t care—she has her cousin Heather as her best friend. The two girls share everything with each other—or so Ivy thinks. When Heather goes missing after a May Day celebration, Ivy discovers that both her best friend and her beloved hometown are as full of secrets as the woods that surround them.

My Thoughts: Set in the Ozarks, in the town of Rowan's Glen, THE MAY QUEEN MURDERS tells the story of generations of secrets coming to light. The kids have always been scared into obedience by the tale of Birch Markle who murdered the last May Queen and who ran away to the woods and can now be heard screaming in the night.

This is a story told by Ivy who loves living in Rowan's Glen. She buys into all the superstitions and practices. She tells about her cousin Heather who has been her best friend since they were born. Heather is discontented with life in the Glen and eager to escape. She is keeping secrets from Ivy which hurts Ivy. The two begin arguing about Heather's choices and their friendship almost breaks when Ivy believes that Heather and Rook, the boy Ivy loves, are in a relationship.

When Heather is crowned the May Queen, disappears, and is found murdered, Ivy needs to solve the mystery of Heather's life and uncover the secrets in the Glen.

This story was by turns homey and scary. The richly detailed Ozark setting and the insular nature of Rowan's Glen contrasted nicely with the dark evil that had been living there for generations.

Fans of mysteries will enjoy this story.

Favorite Quote:
Heather disregarded Mamie's tales, but I couldn't. I needed their truth. They were mythic and strange and disarming, as much a part of my life as tending to fields and brushing dirt from the house. To hear the stories over a pinewood fire, the smells of clove tea and floral powder on an old woman's skin, was a joy lost once Mamie quit talking. Heather couldn't take it away again.
I got this ARC from Edelweiss. You can buy your copy here.

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

ARC Review: The Star-Touched Queen by Roshani Chokshi

The Star-Touched Queen
Author: Roshani Chokshi
Publication: St. Martin's Griffin (April 26, 2016)

Description: Fate and fortune. Power and passion. What does it take to be the queen of a kingdom when you're only seventeen?

Maya is cursed. With a horoscope that promises a marriage of Death and Destruction, she has earned only the scorn and fear of her father's kingdom. Content to follow more scholarly pursuits, her whole world is torn apart when her father, the Raja, arranges a wedding of political convenience to quell outside rebellions. Soon Maya becomes the queen of Akaran and wife of Amar. Neither roles are what she expected: As Akaran's queen, she finds her voice and power. As Amar's wife, she finds something else entirely: Compassion. Protection. Desire...

But Akaran has its own secrets -- thousands of locked doors, gardens of glass, and a tree that bears memories instead of fruit. Soon, Maya suspects her life is in danger. Yet who, besides her husband, can she trust? With the fate of the human and Otherworldly realms hanging in the balance, Maya must unravel an ancient mystery that spans reincarnated lives to save those she loves the most. . .including herself.

A lush and vivid story that is steeped in Indian folklore and mythology. The Star-touched Queen is a novel that no reader will soon forget.

My Thoughts: Maya has grown up in her father's harem as a forgotten princess. Her mother died when she was born and, since her horoscope was very grim, it is believed that she is cursed. Her only supporter in the harem is her younger half-sister Gauri. She is used to scaring away tutors and climbing into the rafters to hear her father as he meets with councilors and envoys. She knows that her country is at war - a war they are losing.

Her father proposes that Maya be offered as a bride to the leaders of the warring countries. Maya is very surprised as she thought her curse might allow her to stay at home and spend her life reading and studying. She is heartbroken to find that her father has a devious plan that requires her to commit suicide rather than choose one of her suitors.

She is saved on the verge of suicide by a suitor she doesn't remember being introduced to. Amar of Akara proposes that he take her away and marry her. She agrees and her adventures begin. She finds herself visiting the otherworld, living in a very strange castle, and coming to love her husband despite not really being able to trust him.

The secrets he is keeping almost manage to destroy their relationship. Her journey to trust makes up most of this story which is lushly told, filled with creatures from Indian mythology, and packed with heart-wrenching decisions. Maya is an intrepid heroine who has to make some very hard decisions. Fans of fantasy will greatly enjoy getting to meet Maya and Amar.

Favorite Quote:
"I am Maya and Yamuna and Yamini. I am a frightened girl, a roaring river and night incarnate," I said. My voice strong and clear. Around me, the tapestry shrank back, like a scolded animal. "I have been a forgotten princess, a stubborn queen and a false sadhvi. And I will not be tethered."
I got this ARC from Amazon Vine. You can buy your copy here.

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Teaser Tuesday: The May Queen Murders by Sarah Jude

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:
"It ain't the picture." I tamped the grains of glass into the dustpan and waited until another student distracted Mrs. Fenton before I whispered to Rook, "Mamie says a picture that falls without warnin' brings death in the mornin'."
This week I am spotlighting The May Queen Murders by Sarah Jude. I got this eARC from Edelweiss. Here is the description from Amazon:
Stay on the roads. Don’t enter the woods. Never go out at night.  
 
Those are the rules in Rowan’s Glen, a remote farming community in the Missouri Ozarks where Ivy Templeton’s family has lived for centuries. It’s an old-fashioned way of life, full of superstition and traditions, and sixteen-year-old Ivy loves it. The other kids at school may think the Glen kids are weird, but Ivy doesn’t care—she has her cousin Heather as her best friend. The two girls share everything with each other—or so Ivy thinks. When Heather goes missing after a May Day celebration, Ivy discovers that both her best friend and her beloved hometown are as full of secrets as the woods that surround them.

Monday, April 25, 2016

It's Monday! What Are You Reading? (April 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...

Not much is happening around here right now. The weather is improving and school is keeping me really busy. We are down to less than 30 days left of this school year. I am ready for a break because I'm really tired of correcting papers. This is also the season when we learn who is moving on to another job or who is retiring. It looks like we are going to have more than the usual turnover this year.

I spent some time this week browsing my TBR mountain and pulling some books I really want to read this summer. I also added some adult reads to my review stack too. Most are from authors I have enjoyed in the past or from a publisher who publishes consistently enjoyable books. I am not in the mood to try something new. I just want old favorites. I set up all my blog posts for June and made a stack of the books that are in physical form. More than half are Kindle books and are already stashed on my Kindle.

Read Last Week
Rebel Belle by Rachel Hawkins - I know I'm late to the party on this one but I recently attended a signing and got the first two books in the series autographed. In another way I'm just on time as the third and final book of this series is being released soon. My review will be posted on May 25.

The Underdogs by Sara Hammel - I read an ARC of this one. I chose it because it was a middle grade mystery. I really enjoyed it and was completely surprised by the twist at the end. My review will be posted on May 26.

Currently
I got The Dark Days Club by Alison Goodman at the same recent signing. With a little gap before I need to start reading June review books, I grabbed it because it sounded like fun.

Next Week

Back to review books. These are being released on June 7 and June 14:
Julia Vanishes by Catherine Egan is a fantasy I got from NetGalley.

The Vanishing Throne by Elizabeth May is a historical fantasy and sequel to a book I read a while ago. This one also came from NetGalley.
With Malice by Eileen Cook is from Edelweiss. This is a psychological thriller.

Steeplejack by A. J. Hartley was also from NetGalley. This is steampunk and a mystery set in South Africa.

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

    Nothing. All the additions were adult books this week.

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

    Saturday, April 23, 2016

    ARC Review: The Outliers by Kimberly McCreight

    The Outliers
    Author: Kimberly McCreight
    Series: Outliers (Book 1)
    Publication: HarperCollins (May 3, 2016)

    Description: From the New York Times bestselling author of Reconstructing Amelia comes a fast-paced teen series where one girl learns that in a world of intrigue, betrayal, and deeply buried secrets, it is vital to trust your instincts.

    It all starts with a text: Please, Wylie, I need your help. Wylie hasn’t heard from Cassie in over a week, not since their last fight. But that doesn’t matter. Cassie’s in trouble, so Wylie decides to do what she has done so many times before: save her best friend from herself.

    This time it’s different, though. Instead of telling Wylie where she is, Cassie sends cryptic clues. And instead of having Wylie come by herself, Jasper shows up saying Cassie sent him to help. Trusting the guy who sent Cassie off the rails doesn’t feel right, but Wylie has no choice but to ignore her gut instinct and go with him.

    But figuring out where Cassie is goes from difficult to dangerous, fast. As Wylie and Jasper head farther and farther north into the dense woods of Maine, Wylie struggles to control her growing sense that something is really wrong. What isn’t Cassie telling them? And could finding her be only the beginning?

    In this breakneck tale, New York Times bestselling author Kimberly McCreight brilliantly chronicles a fateful journey that begins with a single decision—and ends up changing everything.

    My Thoughts: Wylie is dealing with the death of her mother in a car accident while also dealing with mental issues. The high school junior has been seeing a therapist since she was in elementary school. Wylie has a tendency to throw up or pass out when the situation gets stressful. Since the death of her mother, she has also developed agoraphobia and has not left the house for weeks.

    One day she gets a mysterious text from her ex-best friend begging for help. Wylie is mad at her but is also determined to save her friend Cassie if it is at all possible. Cassie has turned self-destructive and now spends too much time partying and drinking. Most of their recent fights have been about Cassie's self-destructive behavior. But when Cassie calls, Wylie goes to her rescue.

    Cassie sends her boyfriend Jasper to help Wylie who doesn't drive. Jasper has been having some of the same issues with Cassie that Wylie has. He hasn't been able to save her from her bad decisions either. Wylie doesn't like Jasper because she has formed some opinions about him without really knowing him and she blames him for some of Cassie's problems.

    The two get to know each other better as they travel from Boston up into Vermont, New Hampshire and Maine following Cassie's cryptic clues. Along the way they meet people who help them and people who hinder them. When they find Cassie, they learn that all of their problems are just beginning.

    This was an entertaining story about the length someone will go for their friends. It also take sort of a science fiction twist before its cliffhanging conclusion.

    Favorite Quote:
    "Something has to matter, Wylie, or nothing will."

    It's one of his favorite sayings.

    I shrug. "Okay, whatever."
    I got this ARC from You can buy your copy here.

    Friday, April 22, 2016

    Friday Memes: The Outliers by Kimberly McCreight

    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:
    Why are the bad things always so much easier to believe? It shouldn't be that way. But it is, every single time.
    Friday 56:
    "She didn't want me to." He shrugs. "She just wanted to drop off the note."

    "What note, Gideon?" I'm up off the couch now. "You didn't give me any note."
    This week I am spotlighting The Outliers by Kimberly McCreight. I got this eARC from Edelweiss. Here is the description from Amazon:
    From the New York Times bestselling author of Reconstructing Amelia comes a fast-paced teen series where one girl learns that in a world of intrigue, betrayal, and deeply buried secrets, it is vital to trust your instincts.

    It all starts with a text: Please, Wylie, I need your help. Wylie hasn’t heard from Cassie in over a week, not since their last fight. But that doesn’t matter. Cassie’s in trouble, so Wylie decides to do what she has done so many times before: save her best friend from herself.

    This time it’s different, though. Instead of telling Wylie where she is, Cassie sends cryptic clues. And instead of having Wylie come by herself, Jasper shows up saying Cassie sent him to help. Trusting the guy who sent Cassie off the rails doesn’t feel right, but Wylie has no choice but to ignore her gut instinct and go with him.

    But figuring out where Cassie is goes from difficult to dangerous, fast. As Wylie and Jasper head farther and farther north into the dense woods of Maine, Wylie struggles to control her growing sense that something is really wrong. What isn’t Cassie telling them? And could finding her be only the beginning?

    In this breakneck tale, New York Times bestselling author Kimberly McCreight brilliantly chronicles a fateful journey that begins with a single decision—and ends up changing everything.

    Thursday, April 21, 2016

    ARC Review: Ferals #2: The Swarm Descends by Jacob Grey

    The Swarm Descends
    Author: Jacob Grey
    Series: Ferals (Book 2)
    Publication: HarperCollins (April 26, 2016)

    Description: Ferals #2: The Swarm Descends is the second book in a dark middle grade fantasy series that’s part Batman, part The Graveyard Book, and all page-turning adventure.

    The sinister Spinning Man has been defeated—but a powerful new villain has risen from the shadows. The Mother of Flies has eyes everywhere, and she is searching for Caw. As the last survivor of a long line of crow ferals, Caw holds a crucial piece of Blackstone’s legacy—one the Mother of Flies will stop at nothing to find.

    With his friend Lydia and his loyal crows by his side, Caw believes he can protect his city. But it will take more than crows to defeat this darkness....

    My Thoughts: Caw is not finished with adventures, this time it begins when a mysterious man give him a stone. He tells Caw that he had been entrusted with the stone by Caw's mother who instructed him to give it to Caw and have Caw keep it secret.

    The problem is that there is a new feral villain in town who will do anything to get the stone from Caw. Caw and his friend Lydia along with new companion Selina have to learn what the stone is for and how they can use it to defeat the Mother of the Flies.

    This series has lots of creepy scenes and the action never stops. Caw is a great character who has a deep sense of honor and a deep desire to protect his fellow ferals. Not bad for a young teenager who was raised by crows after the deaths of his parents and who has just recently learned to interact with humans and other ferals.

    Fans of the first book will be glad to see Caw having new adventures along with his crow companions. 

    Favorite Quote:
    "My mother used to tell us stories about the fly ferals to make us behave," said the driver. "She said they could sneak into any room as long as there was a hole big enough for a single fly. My sister and I used to block up the keyhole to our bedroom at night just in case the Mother of the Flies came for us."
    I got this ARC from Edelweiss. You can buy your copy here.

    Wednesday, April 20, 2016

    Spotlight: Tate Hallaway

    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.
    These have been on my stack since August 11, 2012 and they are even autographed:
    I enjoyed the author's adult Garnet Lacey series. I like books about vampires and books set in my home state of Minnesota. But somehow these got onto TBR mountain and have just sat. 

    Has anyone read these? Should I move them to my currently reading stack or add them to my donate pile?

    Tuesday, April 19, 2016

    Teaser Tuesday: Ferals #2: The Swarm Descends by Jacob Grey

    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:
    "He might know something about that black stone," said Caw.

    He couldn't just carry it around without the slightest clue why it was so special and he was pretty sure that his mother wouldn't want him to. She would have told him what it was herself, if she could. He was sure of it.
    This week my teaser comes from The Swarm Descends by Jacob Grey which is the second book in the Ferals series. Here is the description from Amazon:
    Ferals #2: The Swarm Descends is the second book in a dark middle grade fantasy series that’s part Batman, part The Graveyard Book, and all page-turning adventure.

    The sinister Spinning Man has been defeated—but a powerful new villain has risen from the shadows. The Mother of Flies has eyes everywhere, and she is searching for Caw. As the last survivor of a long line of crow ferals, Caw holds a crucial piece of Blackstone’s legacy—one the Mother of Flies will stop at nothing to find.

    With his friend Lydia and his loyal crows by his side, Caw believes he can protect his city. But it will take more than crows to defeat this darkness....

    Monday, April 18, 2016

    It's Monday! What Are You Reading? (April 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...

    The weather is finally improving. After a cold start to the week, temperatures rebounded into the 60s with a momentary jump into the 70s. I am loving the longer days and warmer temperatures. One of these days I'll even have to head outside for a walk. 

    My Atlanta Braves finally won their first game of the season on Friday night. For a while, I thought they really would go 0-162. I'm also still glued to my TV when The Voice is on, even though one of my favorites didn't make it to the top 12.

    I usually don't start counting this early but we have only 34 student contact days left this year (and one teacher work day) before I will have finished my 40th year as a school librarian/media specialist. I'm eager for summer when I can set my own schedule.

    I am reading down my review stack. Currently I have only 17 review books on my stack. I hope by summer that I will be able to concentrate on reading books from my TBR mountain. I am so eager to dig into the many books I have bought and set aside until I had time to read them.

    Read Last Week
    Spark by Holly Schindler was an entertaining contemporary romance with a strong theater theme. It is about star-crossed love and making old dreams come true. My review will be posted on May 12.

    Megan's Brood by Roy Burdine is harder to classify. It looks like a story for beginning chapter book readers but stars a Goth 12-year-old and features a vocabulary that would challenge middle schoolers. It is a fast read that begins a series. My review will be posted on May 18.
    The Crown's Game by Evelyn Skye was a very entertaining epic fantasy set in Imperialist Russia which told the story of two enchanters rivaling to be the Tsar's enchanter. The problem is that only one can survive the game and the two are falling in love. My review will be posted on May 14.

    The Hunt by Megan Shepherd is the second book in this science fiction series. It is packed with adventure but ends on a major cliffhanger. I'd recommend buying it now but setting it aside until the third book is released. My review is scheduled for May 19.
    The Giant Smugglers by Chris Pauls and Matt Solomon was also action-packed. It tells the story of an ordinary middle school boy who discovers and befriends a giant and then has to do extraordinary things to get him to safety. The enemies are over-the-top but the friendship that grows between the boy and his giant friend is very realistic. My review will be posted on May 21.

    Currently
    Next on the stack is The Underdogs by Sara Hammel. It will be released on May 31.

    Next Week
    Then I begin reading June releases:
    Reviews Posted
    Want to See What I Added to My Stack Last Week?
    I'm trying to resist adding review books to my stack but couldn't pass up Steeplejack by A. J. Hartley. A steampunk mystery set in a fantasy 19th Century South Africa hit too many of my buttons. Besides, Ksenia has never steered me wrong. This one will be released on June 14.

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

    Saturday, April 16, 2016

    ARC Review: Love, Lies and Spies by Cindy Anstey

    Love, Lies and Spies
    Author: Cindy Anstey

    Publication: Swoon Reads (April 19, 2016)

    Description: In Love, Lies and Spies, Cindy Anstey's hilarious homage to Jane Austen, a lady with a penchant for trouble finds a handsome spy much more than merely tolerable.

    Juliana Telford is not your average nineteenth-century young lady. She's much more interested in researching ladybugs than marriage, fashionable dresses, or dances. So when her father sends her to London for a season, she's determined not to form any attachments. Instead, she plans to secretly publish her research.

    Spencer Northam is not the average young gentleman of leisure he appears. He is actually a spy for the War Office, and is more focused on acing his first mission than meeting eligible ladies. Fortunately, Juliana feels the same, and they agree to pretend to fall for each other. Spencer can finally focus, until he is tasked with observing Juliana's traveling companions . . . and Juliana herself.

    My Thoughts: I really enjoyed this historical romance set in Regency England. We meet our heroine dangling from a cliff and in need of rescue but still brave. Juliana is rescued by two gentlemen who promise to keep her adventures a secret in return for her promise not to mention that they were there on the cliff overlooking the sea.

    When she meets Lord Randolph Bobbington and Mr. Spencer Northam later in her aunt's parlor, they pretend not to know each other. Juliana is staying with her aunt and uncle and preparing to be introduced into society with her cousin Carrie. Juliana isn't looking for a husband, though. She is much more interested in finding a publisher for her natural history book which details her study of the Lady Beetle.

    Spencer isn't looking for a wife either. He is has been tasked by the War Office to identify some traitors to the Crown and plant false information that will make its way to Napoleon. He is watching the Pyebalds - Lord and Lady Pyebald, their daughter Vivian and their son Maxwell. Juliana's aunt and uncle will be hosting the Pybalds once they all arrive in London.

    This was a wonderfully tangled story which combines social maneuvering, i.e. the girl's quests for suitable husbands, and political maneuvering as Bobbington and Northam try to track down their spies. It was fun to watch the desperate-to-marry a fortune Pyebalds try to attract Northam for their daughter and Juliana for their son while Spencer and Juliana are falling in love.

    Fans of Regency romances with a nice touch of spying will enjoy this tale filled with interesting characters.

    Favorite Quote:
    If Spencer were ever to consider the possibility of a marital union, it would be in the form of a young lady somewhat like—if not exactly like—Juliana. Someone with intelligence, humor, and an engaging manner. Someone who made liberal use of his rescuing tendencies and yet fiercely declared independence. Someone with whom to share dreams and ideas—not to mention long, passionate nights.
    I got this ARC from NetGalley. You can buy your copy here.

    Friday, April 15, 2016

    Friday Memes: Love, Lies and Spies by Cindy Anstey

    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:
    "Oh, my, this is embarrassing," Miss Juliana Telford said aloud. There was no reason to keep her thoughts to herself, as she was alone, completely alone. In fact, that was half of the problem. The other half was, of course, that she was hanging off the side of a cliff with the inability to climb either up or down and in dire need of rescue.
    Friday 56 (from location 560 on my Kindle):
    "You refer to the security of a well-heeled purse."

    "I hesitate to be indelicate, but yes."

    There was no missing the glance that traveled up and down her old riding costume.

    Juliana shook her head and tried, unsuccessfully, not to grin. "I have no concerns in that regard."
    This week I am spotlighting Love, Lies and Spies by Cindy Anstey. I got this eARC from NetGalley. Here is the description from Amazon:
    In Love, Lies and Spies, Cindy Anstey's hilarious homage to Jane Austen, a lady with a penchant for trouble finds a handsome spy much more than merely tolerable.

    Juliana Telford is not your average nineteenth-century young lady. She's much more interested in researching ladybugs than marriage, fashionable dresses, or dances. So when her father sends her to London for a season, she's determined not to form any attachments. Instead, she plans to secretly publish her research.

    Spencer Northam is not the average young gentleman of leisure he appears. He is actually a spy for the War Office, and is more focused on acing his first mission than meeting eligible ladies. Fortunately, Juliana feels the same, and they agree to pretend to fall for each other. Spencer can finally focus, until he is tasked with observing Juliana's traveling companions . . . and Juliana herself.

    Thursday, April 14, 2016

    ARC Review: Mr. Fahrenheit by T. Michael Martin

    Mr. Fahrenheit
    Author: T. Michael Martin
    Publication: Balzer + Bray (April 19, 2016)

    Description: Super 8 meets Friday Night Lights in this smart and action-packed coming-of-age novel from the author of The End Games, T. Michael Martin.

    Benji’s lived his whole life in the same sleepy midwestern town—the same town his father grew up in, and his grandfather. But he wants nothing more than to put his past in the rearview mirror as soon as he graduates high school. Benji yearns for a Moment—the Moment that will redeem and transform his ordinary life. The Moment that will propel him into a new, star-bright future.

    Then one night, the Moment happens: Benji and his tight group of friends—CR, Ellie, and Zeeko—accidentally shoot down a flying saucer in the local quarry. At Benji’s urging, they decide to keep it a secret and solve its mysteries on their own. But as they face threats both earthly and alien, and old tensions among the friends surface, Benji begins to question whether this Moment is the miracle he’s always dreamed of—or a curse that could destroy them all.

    My Thoughts: This is the story of an ordinary, nerdy kid who dreams that someday something special will happen to lift him out of the ordinary. But, when it does, coping with the changes might be enough to ruin everything he wanted or maybe not...

    Benji Lightman is a magician who dreams of being an apprentice at a magician's workshop in Chicago but spends his time as a mascot for the football team doing magic tricks at the beginning of the games. His best friends are Zeeko, Ellie and CR. They have been friends since junior high. CR is the team quarterback with a bright future attending a top-notch university on a football scholarship. Ellie is a budding filmmaker hoping to pursue film making in college. Zeeko wants to follow his dad's footsteps into medicine.

    One night, the four of them are partying with bunches of other people at a quarry when something comes from outer space. When Benji almost accidentally shoots it down, it starts a series of events that will change the kids' lives.

    I thought the story was filled with action and filled with interesting characters. I liked the way Benji grew during the story. Fans of science fiction will enjoy this fast-paced story.

    Favorite Quote:
    As a little kid, he had always assumed something miraculous would happen to him. He'd get superpowers, maybe, or a letter from Hogwarts, or he'd spend summer break getting really buff and come in on the first day of school wearing only swimming trunks, and maybe he'd flex a couple of time in front of the class and borrow the teacher's hairbrush to comb his mustache. Something subtle like that. 
    I got this ARC from Edelweiss. You can buy your copy here.

    Wednesday, April 13, 2016

    WoW: The Way Back to You by Michelle Andreani and Mindi Scott

    Waiting on Wednesday is a meme hosted by Jill at Breaking the Spine. She has a linky widget at her site each week for your post and to make it easy to find posts by other people.

    The purpose of the meme is to spotlight books that we are eagerly anticipating. It is fun to take a look at what others are waiting for. I have noticed that it has expanded my wishlist though. Be warned!
    Michelle Andreani and Mindi Scott
    May 3, 2016

    Here is the description from Amazon:
    Six months ago, Ashlyn Montiel died in a bike accident.

    Her best friend CLOUDY is keeping it together, at least on the outside. Cloudy's insides are a different story: tangled, confused, heartbroken.

    KYLE is falling apart, and everyone can tell. Ashlyn was his girlfriend, and when she died, a part of him went with her. Maybe the only part he cared about.

    As the two people who loved Ashlyn best, Cloudy and Kyle should be able to lean on each other. But after a terrible mistake last year, they're barely speaking. So when Cloudy discovers that Ashlyn's organs were donated after her death and the Montiel family has been in touch with three of the recipients, she does something a little bit crazy and a lot of out of character: she steals the letters and convinces Kyle to go on a road trip with her, from Oregon to California to Arizona to Nevada. Maybe if they meet the recipients--the people whose lives were saved by Ashlyn's death--the world will open up again. Or maybe it will be a huge mistake.

    With hundreds of miles in front of them, a stowaway kitten, and a list of people who are alive because of Ashlyn, Cloudy and Kyle just may find their way back to her . . . and to each other.