Wednesday, August 31, 2016

Book Review: The Faerie Ring by Kiki Hamilton

The Faerie Ring
Author: Kiki Hamilton
Series: Faerie Ring (Book 1)
Publication: Tor Teen; 1st edition (September 27, 2011)

Description: THE YEAR IS 1871...

Tiki has been making a home for herself and her family of orphans in a deserted hideaway adjoining Charing Cross Station in central London. Their only means of survival is by picking pockets. One December night, Tiki steals a ring, and sets off a chain of events that could lead to all-out war with the Fey. For the ring is a reservoir that holds a truce between the English royals and the world of the Fey. But there are many who want the ring, including the mysterious Rieker, a handsome pickpocket who has been watching Tiki, and a rebel group of UnSeelie fey who would do anything to break the truce...

A delicious blend of urban fantasy and heart-stopping suspense, the story of THE FAERIE RING takes you from the gritty slums of London to the glittering ballrooms of the Royal Palace to the menacing Otherworld - in a spellbinding tale of mystery and suspense where nothing is what it seems...

A stolen ring, a broken truce, a kingdom in peril...

My Thoughts: This fantasy is set in 1871 London. Tiki is an orphan who has been living on the street and picking pockets to take care of her new adoptive family. After narrowly escaping her latest victim by catching a ride on the back of a coach, she finds herself in Buckingham Palace. At first she just plans to steal some food from the abundance but she finds herself in a library and ends up taking a ring that was dropped on the floor.

Tiki never expected that it was the ring that holds the truce between the human world and faerie. Everyone wants it. Some faeries want it to break the truce. The Queen's youngest son Leo wants it back because he is the one who took it from its safe place and lost it.

Rieker also wants the ring. Rieker is another pickpocket who has been following Tiki around for quite a while. He is quite a mysterious character and Tiki isn't about to trust him with the safety of her family or the ring.

This story was very engaging. I liked that Tiki built her own family after her parents died of a fever. I liked her willingness to do anything for the good of young Clara who she found almost dead on the street a few years previously.

I enjoyed this fantasy and am eager to read the next three books in the series to learn more about Tiki, Rieker, and the other kids.

Favorite Quote:
Rieker lowered his head toward her. Tiki leaned into him, the physical pull between them more than she could deny. she rested her hand on his chest, a sudden yearning filling her. His fingers slipped behind her head as his lips descended on hers, warm and urgent, as though he wanted to claim her before she was snatched from him.
I bought this one. You can buy your copy here.

Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Teaser Tuesday: The Ones by Daniel Sweren-Becker

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:
"Did they push you off, too?" she asked.

James hesitated for a moment, then answered softly. "No. I jumped."
This week I am reading The Ones by Daniel Sweren-Becker from my review stack. Here is the description from Amazon:
We are not all created equal.

Seventeen-year-old Cody and her boyfriend, James, were two of the lucky ones randomly selected before birth to receive genetic engineering.

Known as the Ones, this one percent of the population is healthy, beautiful, and talented…and to some that's not fair. Mounting fear and jealousy of the Ones’ success leads to the creation of the Equality Movement, which quickly gains enough political traction to demote Cody, James, and others like them to second-class citizens.

Cody knows even before the brick smashes through her window that it's going to be bad. As their school, the government, and even family and friends turn against them, Cody begins to believe they have no other choice but to protect their own. She draws closer to a group of radical Ones led by the passionate and fevered Kai, and James begins to question just how far she is willing to go for the cause…

Themes of justice, discrimination and terrorism mix with actual science to create a frightening version of our near future in this pulse-pounding thriller.

Monday, August 29, 2016

It's Monday! What Are You Reading? (August 29, 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...

Vacation is over! We have workshop/workdays Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday this week. This semester I am working half-time and only at the Elementary building. I'll be seeing fifth, third, and first graders this first semester on a fixed schedule for 50 minute blocks. I think this will be the first time in my 40 years as a media specialist that I have only been at one school in a day. I've always split my time between two buildings each day.

Half my brain will still be in Duluth though. I'm closing on my retirement home in Duluth on Friday, Sept. 2 just 30 days after I first toured the house. It will be nice when my brother and I are all settled in the new place but that is still a long way off. I'm scheduling the moving truck for our MEA break on Oct. 21 to move the big things, i.e. things that won't fit in the Subaru Outback. Hopefully, he will have gone through what is in the house there to decide what we want to move. The new house is only about two miles from the old house. We're planning to make lots of trips back and forth as we decide what stuff to take with us and what stuff to leave for an estate sale.

We also have to decide what we are taking from my house since, naturally, we have huge amounts of duplication. I plan to spend a lot of this year gradually paring down the amount of stuff I have in my house in Eyota since I will be selling and moving next June.

Read Last Week
The Lovely Reckless by Kami Garcia was an emotionally intense romance that reminded me a lot of Katie McGarry's YA contemporaries. Fans of her work will like this one too. My review will be posted on Sept. 29.

The Littlest Bigfoot by Jennifer Weiner was a nice middle grade story about friendship and acceptance that also had a nice dose of fantasy. My review will be posted on September 8.

Like a River Glorious by Rae Carson is the second book in her frontier fantasy trilogy and was a great story. My review will be posted on Sept. 28.
Last Seen Leaving by Caleb Roehrig was an excellent thriller about a girl who disappears told by her boyfriend who has his own issues with his sexuality to deal with too. My review will be posted on Oct. 1.

Embers & Echoes by Karsten Knight is the middle book in the Wildefire trilogy and filled with all sorts of antics of modern day reincarnations of gods from many mythologies. My review will be posted on Oct. 5.

The Row by J. R. Johansson tells the story of a girl with a father on death row who is determined to prove his innocence before he is executed. Riley has lived with a father on death row for 11 years and has had constant faith that he was innocent. Now she is learning that things aren't always so clear. My review will be posted on Oct. 6.

Currently

Nothing. I still have a book hangover from The Row.

Next Week
Next on TBR Mountain:
Next on my review stack:
Reviews Posted
Want to See What I Added to My Stack Last Week?

Nothing. I didn't have time to shop 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, August 27, 2016

Book Review: Shadows by Robin McKinley

Shadows
Author: Robin McKinley
Publication: Nancy Paulsen Books (September 26, 2013)

Description: A compelling and inventive novel set in a world where science and magic are at odds, by Robin McKinley, the Newbery-winning author of The Hero and the Crown and The Blue Sword, as well as the classic titles Beauty, Chalice, Spindle’s End, Pegasus and Sunshine

Maggie knows something’s off about Val, her mom’s new husband. Val is from Oldworld, where they still use magic, and he won’t have any tech in his office-shed behind the house. But—more importantly—what are the huge, horrible, jagged, jumpy shadows following him around? Magic is illegal in Newworld, which is all about science. The magic-carrying gene was disabled two generations ago, back when Maggie’s great-grandmother was a notable magician. But that was a long time ago.

Then Maggie meets Casimir, the most beautiful boy she has ever seen. He’s from Oldworld too—and he’s heard of Maggie’s stepfather, and has a guess about Val’s shadows. Maggie doesn’t want to know . . . until earth-shattering events force her to depend on Val and his shadows. And perhaps on her own heritage.

In this dangerously unstable world, neither science nor magic has the necessary answers, but a truce between them is impossible. And although the two are supposed to be incompatible, Maggie’s discovering the world will need both to survive.

My Thoughts: I enjoyed SHADOWS very much. It is narrated by Maggie who is a new high school senior. Her mother has just married a man named Val who comes from Oldworld where they still practice magic. In Maggie's Newworld magic is so illegal that a couple of generations earlier a medical procedure was developed to remove the magic gene from anyone who had one. Of course, that didn't work quite as expected.

Maggie dislikes Val not just because he is short and hairy and has no fashion sense, but because he is surrounded by scary shadows that only she can see. She stays away from him by spending more time at the Orchard Animal Shelter where she got her own Border Collie Mongo. Maggie seems to have unique understanding with animals.

One day she meets a gorgeous new boy named Casimir who is also from the Oldworld and who has come to study worlds philosophy at the local college. The two of them happen to be together when their is a magical occurrence that which Maggie is able to contain by using origami figures she makes from her Enhanced Algebra textbook. No one is more surprised and confused that this works than Maggie herself.

The military is called in to figure out what happened which raises suspicions about Maggie and Val. When Val is arrested, Maggie and her friends are determined to rescue him. Along the way, Maggie learns a lot about magic and herself.

The story was action-packed. I liked Maggie's relationship with her dog Mongo. I also liked her relationship with her friends Jill and Takahiro who are both closet magic users themselves. The world that the author created was well realized and well rounded.

Fans of fantasy who want an intrepid female main character will enjoy this one.

Favorite Quote:
I wanted to scream or throw up or run away or all three, but I couldn't. Takahiro , as many times as I'd wanted to kill him in the last more than seven years. was my friend. And werewolves were a myth. Like mgdagas. I gut up, a little unsteadily, and picked up the mug of coffee on Val's table. "Coffee?" I said inanely, and held it out toward Takahiro.
I bought this one. You can buy your copy here.

Friday, August 26, 2016

Friday Memes: Shadows by Robin McKinley

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:
The story starts like something out of a fairy tale: I hated my stepfather.

It's usually stepmothers in fairy tales. Well, equal time for stepfathers.
Friday 56:
There was a mob at the back of Mrs. Andover's homeroom as we all fought to get into the last row. Jill and I lost and were in the middle row, but at least we were together.
This week I am reading Shadows by Robin McKinley. I bought this one August 18, 2013. Here is the description from Amazon:
A compelling and inventive novel set in a world where science and magic are at odds, by Robin McKinley, the Newbery-winning author of The Hero and the Crown and The Blue Sword, as well as the classic titles Beauty, Chalice, Spindle’s End, Pegasus and Sunshine

Maggie knows something’s off about Val, her mom’s new husband. Val is from Oldworld, where they still use magic, and he won’t have any tech in his office-shed behind the house. But—more importantly—what are the huge, horrible, jagged, jumpy shadows following him around? Magic is illegal in Newworld, which is all about science. The magic-carrying gene was disabled two generations ago, back when Maggie’s great-grandmother was a notable magician. But that was a long time ago.

Then Maggie meets Casimir, the most beautiful boy she has ever seen. He’s from Oldworld too—and he’s heard of Maggie’s stepfather, and has a guess about Val’s shadows. Maggie doesn’t want to know . . . until earth-shattering events force her to depend on Val and his shadows. And perhaps on her own heritage.

In this dangerously unstable world, neither science nor magic has the necessary answers, but a truce between them is impossible. And although the two are supposed to be incompatible, Maggie’s discovering the world will need both to survive.

Thursday, August 25, 2016

Book Review: Stormdancer by Jay Kristoff

Stormdancer
Author: Jay Kristoff
Series: The Lotus War (Book 1)
Publication: Thomas Dunne Books; 18 edition (September 18, 2012)

Description: Stormdancer is the first in the epic new fantasy series The Lotus War, introducing an unforgettable heroine and a stunningly original dystopian steampunk world with a flavor of feudal Japan

The Shima Imperium verges on the brink of environmental collapse; an island nation once rich in tradition and myth, now decimated by clockwork industrialization and the machine-worshipers of the Lotus Guild. When hunters of Shima's imperial court are charged by their Shogun to capture a legendary griffin, they fear their lives are over. Any fool knows the beasts have been extinct for more than a century, and the price of failing the Shogun is death. Accompanying her father on the Shogun's hunt, the girl Yukiko finds herself stranded: a young woman alone in Shima's last wilderness, with only a furious, crippled griffin for company. Even though she can hear his thoughts, even though she saved his life, all she knows for certain is he'd rather see her dead than help her. But together, the pair will form an indomitable friendship, and rise to challenge the might of an empire.

My Thoughts: STORMDANCER was an amazing steampunk fantasy set in an alternate world Japan. It is a land controlled by a despot Shogun. Our heroine is Kitsuna Yukiko. Her father is the hunter for the Shogun. The Shogun commands her father to find the legendary arashitora - storm tiger - because he has seen himself riding it in a vision wherein her finally defeats the gaijin armies.

Yukiko's father does not believe that there are any living arashitora but can't refuse to do the Shogun's bidding or he will be killed. When the find one, capture it, and clip its wings, they plan to bring it back to the Shogun but the storm ruins the air ship. Yukiko has the ability to talk to animals which happens to be an ability that will get her burned at the stake if Guildmen find out about it. When the ship goes down, she stays aboard to let the storm tiger out of its cage. They manage to fly down to the ground but are separated from the rest of their party.

Journeying together help Yukiko and the storm tiger she names Buruu have to band together to survive. They also become friends. When they run into rebels against the shogunate, Yukiko decides that she will assassinate the shogun to get revenge for all that he has cost her. She finds that there is a substantial underground of rebels who will help her.

This was an interesting story partially because of the Japanese setting but also because of the worldbuilding. The country is in danger of polluting itself to death because of the dependence on the blood lotus crop. While the blood lotus provides everything from medicine, to drugs, to fuels for the technology, it also kills the land where it grows requiring more and more land being devoted to its cultivation. Its processing pollutes the air and the water and causes cancers. People who can afford it wear sophisticated goggles and breathing equipment. The poor wear cloth masks and die of lung cancers.

The rebels want to stop the production of the blood lotus. Buruu also wants to get rid of the blood lotus. He wouldn't really mind if all the humans were eleminated too. At least, he felt that way until he fell in love with Yukiko.

This story is epic fantasy and begins a three book series.

Favorite Quote:
THEY WILL WIN. THOUGH IT TAKE A HUNDRED YEARS, THEY WILL TIPPLE YOUR SHOGUN. BURN HIS FIELDS AND CITIES. FADE AWAY INTO SHADOW. INTO PLACE HIS ARMIES CANNOT REACH. MORE THAN FLESH. THEY ARE AN IDEA.
I bought this one December 28, 2012. You can buy your copy here.

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Book Review: Illuminae by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff

Illuminae
Author: Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff
Series: Illuminae Files (Book 1)
Publication: Knopf Books for Young Readers; 1St Edition edition (2015)

Description: This morning, Kady thought breaking up with Ezra was the hardest thing she’d have to do. This afternoon, her planet was invaded.
    
The year is 2575, and two rival megacorporations are at war over a planet that’s little more than a speck at the edge of the universe. Now with enemy fire raining down on them, Kady and Ezra—who are barely even talking to each other—are forced to evacuate with a hostile warship in hot pursuit.
   
But their problems are just getting started. A plague has broken out and is mutating with terrifying results; the fleet’s AI may actually be their enemy; and nobody in charge will say what’s really going on. As Kady hacks into a web of data to find the truth, it’s clear the only person who can help her is the ex-boyfriend she swore she’d never speak to again.
    
Told through a fascinating dossier of hacked documents—including emails, maps, files, IMs, medical reports, interviews, and more—Illuminae is the first book in a heart-stopping trilogy about lives interrupted, the price of truth, and the courage of everyday heroes.

My Thoughts: ILLUMINAE was an amazing book. It is told through a variety of hacked documents and details what happens after a planet is invaded. Kady Grant had just broken up with her boyfriend Ezra Mason when the attack happened. They watched their planet get bombed, people die all around them, and barely made it to the shuttles taking them up to rescue ships.

Kady and Ezra get loaded onto two different ships. Kady finds herself on the research ship Hypatia while Ezra ends up on the United Terran Authority battlecruiser Alexander. The third ship that took in refugees was the freighter Copernicus. The Alexander was damaged in the fight with the BeiTech dreadnought Lincoln which is actively pursuing the three ships with refugees.

Because of the damage to the Alexander which included damage to the Artificial Intelligence called AIDAN which controlled the ship, they needed to travel for months to get to a place of potential safety. Ezra gets conscripted into the UTA as a pilot for one of the Cyclones which protect the Alexander. Kady is a gifted computer hacker but not a team player. She isn't conscripted but she works secretly with other hackers in the fleet to try to find out what is going on.

They soon learn that BeiTech was using biological warfare on the planet and that many of the evacuees were infected. Because of the level of infection, AIDAN decides to destroy the Copernicus which had the most refugees. The Alexander tries to cover up the destruction by blaming it on the Lincoln.

Despite its unconventional style, this book was surprisingly intense emotionally as we see the kids face loss after loss. Ezra's father didn't make it off the planet; Kady's mother had been transferred to the Copernicus before it was destroyed. Both lose friend after friend too. They do manage to reconcile and try to cling to each other as the only one each of them has left.

Fans of science fiction will enjoy this excellent story with a couple of interesting twists at the end.

Favorite Quote:
Mason, E, LT 2nd: i meant the 1st time i kissed u in my head

ByteMe:...wut?

Mason, E, LT 2nd: yeah. i had to work up the guts to actually DO IT. so i practiced in my head. every time i walked you home.

Mason, E, LT 2nd: you were pretty good, in case you were wondering
I bought this one. You can buy your copy here.

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Teaser Tuesday: Stormdancer by Jay Kristoff

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:
"That was very brave, Lady."

Yukiko stared, her tongue somewhere in her sandals.

Gods, he's gorgeous...
This week I am reading Stormdancer by Jay Kristoff. I bought this one Dec. 28, 2012. Here is the description from Amazon:
Stormdancer is the first in the epic new fantasy series The Lotus War, introducing an unforgettable heroine and a stunningly original dystopian steampunk world with a flavor of feudal Japan

The Shima Imperium verges on the brink of environmental collapse; an island nation once rich in tradition and myth, now decimated by clockwork industrialization and the machine-worshipers of the Lotus Guild. When hunters of Shima's imperial court are charged by their Shogun to capture a legendary griffin, they fear their lives are over. Any fool knows the beasts have been extinct for more than a century, and the price of failing the Shogun is death. Accompanying her father on the Shogun's hunt, the girl Yukiko finds herself stranded: a young woman alone in Shima's last wilderness, with only a furious, crippled griffin for company. Even though she can hear his thoughts, even though she saved his life, all she knows for certain is he'd rather see her dead than help her. But together, the pair will form an indomitable friendship, and rise to challenge the might of an empire.

Monday, August 22, 2016

It's Monday! What Are You Reading? (August 22, 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 has been another week of jumping through hoops to get a mortgage. Lots of phone calls and emails have been flying between my banker, my employer, my insurance agent, and me.

My friend went home last Monday after a nice visit. I spent the rest of the week watching the Olympics and playing lots of computer games.

I just have one week of vacation left before I return home for a few days of workshops and then the start of school. I'm eager to meet all of our new staff. We have 13 new professional staff and still a number of paraprofessional positions to fill.

Read Last Week
A Shadow Bright and Burning by Jessica Cluess begins a new historical fantasy series. I enjoyed this one and can't wait for the rest of the trilogy. My review will be posted on September 22.

Currently
Like a River Glorious by Rae Carson is the second book in her historical Gold Seer fantasy series. I love the 1849 California setting.

Next Week

I am being overly ambitious in thinking I'll read all these next week but they are the next six on my reading list.
Reviews Posted
Want to See What I Added to My Stack Last Week?
Additions to my review stack:
House of Secrets by Stephanie Burgis - novella for my Kindle

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

Saturday, August 20, 2016

Book Review: The Silence of Murder by Dandi Daley Mackall

The Silence of Murder
Author: Dandi Daley Mackall
Publication: Knopf Books for Young Readers; First Edition first Printing edition (October 11, 2011)

Description: Seventeen-year-old Hope Long's life revolves around her brother Jeremy.  So when Jeremy is accused of killing the town's beloved baseball coach, Hope's world begins to unravel. Everyone is convinced Jeremy did it, and since he hasn't spoken a word in 9 years, he's unable to defend himself.  Their lawyer instructs Hope to convince the jury that Jeremy is insane, but all her life Hope has known that Jeremy's just different than other people—better, even. As she works to prove his innocence—joined by her best friend T.J. and the sheriff's son, Chase—Hope uncovers secrets about the murder, the townspeople, her family, and herself. She knows her brother isn't the murderer.  But as she comes closer to the truth, she's terrified to find out who is.

My Thoughts: This excellent mystery, an Edgar YA winner in 2012, tells the story of Hope Long who is convinced that her brother Jeremy is not guilty of killing baseball coach John Johnson. Since Jeremy is autistic and selectively mute, he can't explain why he was running away from the barn where Johnson was found. That the murder weapon was his own wooden bat doesn't help either.

Hope knows that her brother couldn't have done that but she is alone in her opinion. Her brother's lawyer and her own mother are trying for a Not Guilty by Reason of Insanity defense. Hope decides that she needs to investigate if she wants to clear her brother.

Her companions in the investigation are TJ who is her only friend in town and Chase who is the son of the sheriff and who spends summers with his father. She and the boys try to find other suspects. Could it be the coach's wife who is dying of cancer? Is it another member of the baseball team that Johnson coached?

This story was intensely emotional. I loved Hope's determination to prove her brother innocent. I loved that she knew about all of Jeremy's quirks but still thought he was special and wonderful. I felt bad for her and for Jeremy because of the mother they had. Rita was extremely self-centered and an alcoholic who dragged her kids all over the country before returning to her home town picking up men all along the way to give her "loans."

The writing was excellent and the pacing in this story helped build the tension as Hope comes closer and closer to finding out who really killed John Johnson. I recommend this mystery to all ages.

Favorite Quote:
I can't take any more of this. Rita knows exactly how to shut me down. I run past her to my room and slam the door. My whole life this is how it's been. I hate the arguing. It's so much easier to just let Rita have her way.

Only not this time. For Jeremy's sake, not this time.
I bought this one on January 25, 2012. You can buy your copy here.

Friday, August 19, 2016

Friday Memes: The Silence of Murder by Dandi Daley Mackall

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:
The first time Jeremy heard God sing, we were in the old Ford, rocking back and forth with the wind.
Friday 56:
Raymond warned me to keep my answers short and not volunteer information not asked. So I wait to be asked.
This week I am reading The Silence of Murder by Dandi Daley Mackall which has been on my TBR pile since January 19, 2012. Here is the description from Amazon:
Seventeen-year-old Hope Long's life revolves around her brother Jeremy.  So when Jeremy is accused of killing the town's beloved baseball coach, Hope's world begins to unravel. Everyone is convinced Jeremy did it, and since he hasn't spoken a word in 9 years, he's unable to defend himself.  Their lawyer instructs Hope to convince the jury that Jeremy is insane, but all her life Hope has known that Jeremy's just different than other people—better, even. As she works to prove his innocence—joined by her best friend T.J. and the sheriff's son, Chase—Hope uncovers secrets about the murder, the townspeople, her family, and herself. She knows her brother isn't the murderer.  But as she comes closer to the truth, she's terrified to find out who is.

Thursday, August 18, 2016

Book Review: Serafina and the Black Cloak by Robert Beatty

Serafina and the Black Cloak
Author: Robert Beatty
Publication: Disney Hyperion (July 14, 2015)

Description: "Never go into the deep parts of the forest, for there are many dangers there, and they will ensnare your soul."

Serafina has never had a reason to disobey her pa and venture beyond the grounds of Biltmore Estate.There's plenty to explore in her grand home, although she must take care to never be seen. None of the rich folk upstairs know that Serafina exists; she and her pa, the estate's maintenance man, have secretly lived in the basement for as long as Serafina can remember.

But when children at the estate start disappearing, only Serafina knows who the culprit is:a terrifying man in a black cloak who stalks Biltmore's corridors at night. Following her own harrowing escape, Serafina risks everything by joining forces with Braeden Vanderbilt, the young nephew of Biltmore's owners. Braeden and Serafina must uncover the Man in the Black Cloak's true identity before all of the children vanish one by one.

Serafina's hunt leads her into the very forest that she has been taught to fear. There she discovers a forgotten legacy of magic, one that is bound to her own identity. In order to save the children of Biltmore, Serafina must seek the answers that will unlock the puzzle of her past.

My Thoughts: Serafina has grown up in the basements of the Biltmore Estate where her father is a maintenance man. It is a secret the Serafina and her Pa live there. Serafina has learned to live there without being spotted by any of the other people on the estate. She knows the hiding places and the secret ways. She has appointed herself the Chief Rat Catcher and she is able to use her hunting skills to find and catch them. She can see in the dark and move without sound.

One night, while prowling the basements, she sees a man in a black cloak who is chasing after a girl in a yellow dress. When he catches her, he wraps her in the cloak and the girl disappears. When he spots Serafina, he chases her but she manages to escape. Soon the estate is mobilized to search for the missing girl and Serafina meets Braeden Vanderbilt who is one of the few people who notice her.

She and Braeden need to work together to find the man in the black cloak and keep him from harming more children. Serafina needs to explore the woods near the estate which her father has told her are filled with dangers. In the forest, Serafina learns some secrets from her past and learns who she is.

This was a scary middle grade fantasy with an intrepid main character. It would make a great read-aloud because each chapter ended an an exciting bit that almost demanded that the reader keep reading. 

Favorite Quote:
Every person was a hero in his own mind, fighting for what he thought was right, or just fighting to survive another day, but no one thought they were evil.
I bought this one. You can buy your copy here.

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Book Review: Code by Kathy Reichs and Brendan Reichs

Code
Author: Kathy Reichs and Brendan Reichs
Series: Virals (Book 3)
Publication: Puffin Books (December 5, 2013)

Description: Tory and the rest of the Virals are put to the ultimate test when they find a geocache containing an ornate puzzle box. Shelton decodes the cipher inside, only to find more tantalizing clues left by "The Gamemaster." A second, greater geocache is within reach—if the Virals are up to the challenge. But the hunt takes a dark turn when Tory locates the other box—it contains a fake bomb, along with a sinister proposal from The Gamemaster. Now, the real game has begun: another bomb is out there—a real one—and the clock is ticking.

My Thoughts: The action never stops in this science fiction thriller series. This time Tory and the other Virals find themselves in a race to solve the clues left by the Gamemaster before he unleashes a terrible tragedy. It begins innocently when Hi buys a metal detector and begins geocaching. The kids discover a hidden box Loggerhead Island that begins a treasure hunt with codes, clues from chemistry, and other clues to test their abilities. They need to keep the game secret or face serious consequences.

Meanwhile, Tory is still being dragged into becoming a debutante by her father's girlfriend Whitney. The current dilemma is choosing the boy to escort her when she is presented. She is torn between golden boy Jason and her friend Ben who is also one of the Virals. The two boys definitely do not get along and, in fact, have a couple of fistfights during this story. Tory is fourteen and has never really had a boyfriend. Despite being precocious and mature for her age, she isn't quite ready for that.

Speaking of Whitney, she is gradually moving stuff into Tory's father's home and trying to become Tory's best friend. Tory doesn't really get along with her and she certainly isn't thinking of Whitney as the one to replace the mother she lost in a drunk driving accident a year earlier. Tory throws a tantrum when her father Kit announces the Whitney will be moving in which makes her seem like a more realistic 14-year-old.

To complicate matters even more, Chance has been released from the mental hospital he was in during the last book and is determined to find out what is going on with the Virals. He is aided by Madison who one of the mean girls at school and who witnessed Tory flaring and is now convinced she is possessed.

This story sees the Virals learning more about their new powers and also sees a betrayal by one of the kids. I couldn't put this fast-paced adventure down and loved it.

Favorite Quote:
Kit once said I terrified him. He meant it in a good way. I think. Pretty sure.
I bought this one. You can buy your copy here.

Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Teaser Tuesday: Serafina and the Black Cloak by Robert Beatty

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:
At night, when everyone else in the house went to sleep, she crept upstairs and snatched books to read in the moonlight. 
This week I am reading Serafina and the Black Cloak by Robert Beatty which I bought as a recent Kindle Daily Deal. Here is the description from Amazon:
"Never go into the deep parts of the forest, for there are many dangers there, and they will ensnare your soul."

Serafina has never had a reason to disobey her pa and venture beyond the grounds of Biltmore Estate.There's plenty to explore in her grand home, although she must take care to never be seen. None of the rich folk upstairs know that Serafina exists; she and her pa, the estate's maintenance man, have secretly lived in the basement for as long as Serafina can remember.

But when children at the estate start disappearing, only Serafina knows who the culprit is:a terrifying man in a black cloak who stalks Biltmore's corridors at night. Following her own harrowing escape, Serafina risks everything by joining forces with Braeden Vanderbilt, the young nephew of Biltmore's owners. Braeden and Serafina must uncover the Man in the Black Cloak's true identity before all of the children vanish one by one.

Serafina's hunt leads her into the very forest that she has been taught to fear. There she discovers a forgotten legacy of magic, one that is bound to her own identity. In order to save the children of Biltmore, Serafina must seek the answers that will unlock the puzzle of her past.

Monday, August 15, 2016

It's Monday! What Are You Reading? (August 15, 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 house purchase is going okay. I think they are ready to put the "Pending" sign on the For Sale sign. It seems like I am talking to bankers, insurance agents, and realtors a couple of times a day.

I have a friend visiting for the weekend and we are playing computer games, watching the Olympics, and watching the final season of Bitten. We are also going out to eat and maybe doing some tourist things. 

Because of all this stuff, I haven't had much time to read. I have been reading the same book since Wednesday and am not even half way.

Read Last Week
Trace Evidence by Kathy Reichs and Brendan Reichs collects the novellas written around the Virals series. I enjoyed the multiple viewpoints and that the first story was when Tory first meets Kit and the last was at Kit's wedding. My review will be posted on September 21.

I read Chasing Impossible by Katie McGarry which features a number of characters from her Pushing the Limits series. It was a nice contemporary romance. My review will be posted on November 3.
The Initiation (Lock & Key) by Ridley Pearson begins a new series which moves Sherlock Holmes and James Moriarty to modern times and high school. My review will be posted on September 15.
 
Finn's Choice by Darby Karchut is the final book in this middle grade series. I will miss these characters. My review will be posted on September 17.

Currently
I am currently reading A Shadow Bright and Burning by Jessica Cluess. I just got this September 20 release this week.

Next Week

Three October releases are on the top of my stack for this week.
Reviews Posted
Want to See What I Added to My Stack Last Week?
A Shadow Bright and Burning by Jessica Cluess (Sept. 20)
The Rains by Gregg Hurwitz (Oct. 18)
The final SYNC audiobooks were:
I also bought a copy of middle grade mystery Friday Barnes: Under Suspicion by R. A. Spratt. I read the first book in this series as an ARC and enjoyed it.

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