Tuesday, June 27, 2017

Teaser Tuesday: A Wrinkle in Time: The Graphic Novel by Madeleine L'Engle and Hope Larson

Teaser Tuesdays is a weekly bookish meme, hosted by The Purple Booker. 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:
We showed you the Dark Thing on Uriel because we thought it would be easier for you to understand if you saw it -- well, someplace else first, not your own earth.
This week I am reading A Wrinkle in Time: The Graphic Novel by Madeleine L'Engle and Hope Larson. This book has been on my TBR pile since 2013. Here is the description from Amazon:
The world already knows Meg and Charles Wallace Murry, Calvin O'Keefe, and the three Mrs--Who, Whatsit, and Which--the memorable and wonderful characters who fight off a dark force and save our universe in the Newbery award-winning classic A Wrinkle in Time. But in 50 years of publication, the book has never been illustrated. Now, Hope Larson takes the classic story to a new level with her vividly imagined interpretations of tessering and favorite characters like the Happy Medium and Aunt Beast. Perfect for old fans and winning over new ones, this graphic novel adaptation is a must-read.

Saturday, June 24, 2017

Book Review: The Hypnotists by Gordon Korman

The Hypnotists
Author: Gordon Korman
Series: The Hypnotists (Book 1)
Publication: Scholastic Press (July 30, 2013)

Description: An all-new, mesmerizing adventure from the masterful Gordon Korman!

Jackson Opus has always been persuasive, but he doesn't know that he's descended from the two most powerful hypnotist bloodlines on the planet. He's excited to be accepted into a special program at the Sentia Institute -- but when he realizes he's in over his head, Jackson will have to find a way to use his powers to save his friends, his parents, and his government.

My Thoughts: Jax Opus is a pretty ordinary kid except that he has a gift as a hypnotist. He is descended from two families noted for this ability. When it is discovered, he is offered a place at Sentia which is operated by Elias Mako who "has devoted his life to New York City education and is an inspiration to every single one of us." At first, Jax feels that Sentia is a waste of his time since no one will tell them what they are doing. He also has trouble getting to know the other kids there who are all really busy trying to be the best hypnotists.

Jax finally gets to the stage where he is making some progress when he meets a guy from a rival organization called the Sandmen who tells him Mako is not the benefactor to humanity that he says he is. When Mako convinces Jax to make a video to encourage all viewers to vote for Mako's candidate for president, Jax finally realizes that Mako isn't a good guy. But Mako has hypnotized Jax's parents and left a suggestion that they kill themselves which forces Jax to do what Mako wants.

Jax has to call on the Sandmen to help him get the better of Mako in an exciting scene at the presidential candidate's victory rally. I liked Jax and thought that he was a good kid who got into a bad situation. The story was filled with action enough to keep any middle grader turning the pages.

This is the first book of a three book series and will make readers want to get the rest to find out more about Jax and his abilities.

Favorite Quote:
Whatever the purpose of Sentia was, there seemed to be a standing order to keep newbies in the dark about it. Jax tried asking questions and was invariably referred to Ms. Samuels -- if he got any answer at all. Half teh time, the staff members pretended to be extremely busy, rushing off to be groundbreaking and revolutionary in some other part of the building.
I bought this one. You can buy your copy here.

Friday, June 23, 2017

Friday Memes: The Hypnotists by Gordon Korman

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:
There was something evil about the Third Avenue bus. 
Friday 56:
Learning you had mesmeric powers was one thing. Actually using them turned out to be quite another. 
This week I dug deep into my TBR pile for The Hypnotists by Gordon Korman. I bought this one at a school Book Fair in 2013. Here is the description from Amazon:
An all-new, mesmerizing adventure from the masterful Gordon Korman!

Jackson Opus has always been persuasive, but he doesn't know that he's descended from the two most powerful hypnotist bloodlines on the planet. He's excited to be accepted into a special program at the Sentia Institute -- but when he realizes he's in over his head, Jackson will have to find a way to use his powers to save his friends, his parents, and his government.

Thursday, June 22, 2017

ARC Review: The Waking Land by Callie Bates

The Waking Land
Author: Callie Bates
Publication: Del Rey (June 27, 2017)

Description: In the lush and magical tradition of Naomi Novik’s award-winning Uprooted comes this riveting debut from brilliant young writer Callie Bates—whose boundless imagination places her among the finest authors of fantasy fiction, including Sarah J. Maas and Sabaa Tahir.

Lady Elanna is fiercely devoted to the king who raised her like a daughter. But when he dies under mysterious circumstances, Elanna is accused of his murder—and must flee for her life.

Returning to the homeland of magical legends she has forsaken, Elanna is forced to reckon with her despised, estranged father, branded a traitor long ago. Feeling a strange, deep connection to the natural world, she also must face the truth about the forces she has always denied or disdained as superstition—powers that suddenly stir within her.

But an all-too-human threat is drawing near, determined to exact vengeance. Now Elanna has no choice but to lead a rebellion against the kingdom to which she once gave her allegiance. Trapped between divided loyalties, she must summon the courage to confront a destiny that could tear her apart.

My Thoughts: THE WAKING LANDS was a great fantasy novel filled with action and excitement. It begins with a five-year-old girl taken hostage by a king as a guarantee of her parents good behavior. Then fourteen years pass and Elanna has been thoroughly brainwashed into her captor's point of view and even thinks of him as a foster father which incites the jealousy and spitefulness of his daughter Loyce.

When the king is poisoned by a tainted mushroom, Elanna is the first suspect. She needs to flee to save her life but she doesn't know where to go. Some of her father's loyal people are urging her to return home to Caeris but she wants to go anywhere else. She would like to go to Ida and study botany and a representative of the emperor who is something of a double agent is willing to help with her plans.

However, she finds herself going to Caeris and learning more about the magic that she has been denying all her life since use of magic is forbidden by the emperor. Elanna changes greatly in this story as she learns that what she knew about her foster father was mostly lies and what he told her about her home and family was lies too. 

There are battles, betrayals, false friends and real ones. There is an intriguing magic that Elanna must learn to use to save her country. There is a romantic triangle with Elanna torn between the prince she was betrothed to as a child and the sorcerer from the empire that she might or might not be able to trust.

Fans of epic fantasy will enjoy this richly drawn story filled with intriguing characters and great world building.

Favorite Quote:
Finn reins in his horse to stare beneath the overhanging boughs of the firs. I watch him. There is something golden about him -- maybe it's his hair, but maybe it's his hope. I want to shudder away from it and at the same time I can't stop looking. 
I got this one for review from NetGalley. You can buy your copy here.

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

ARC Review: City of Angels by Kristi Belcamino

City of Angels
Author: Kristi Belcamino
Publication: Polis Books (May 18, 2017)

Description: Nikki Black, a self-imposed lone wolf since her mother died, fled suburban Chicago to escape her painful past. But when her so-called boyfriend reveals why he really lured her to Southern California, she ends up on the streets of L.A. with only the clothes on her back and a destitute twelve-year-old named Rain following in her shadows. The girls seek refuge at a residential hotel above a punk rock bar in downtown L.A. a few months before the city erupts into chaos during the 1992 riots. At The American Hotel, Nikki makes friends and, for the first time in years, feels as if she has a real family again. But everything changes when Rain disappears. Everyone believes Rain succumbed to the seductive allure of addiction and life on the streets. Determined to find Rain, Nikki burrows deeper into the underbelly of a city that hides a darkness beneath the glamour. And when she unveils a sinister cover-up by a powerful group that secretly controls the city of angels, she could lose everything, including her life. City of Angels is an edgy, gritty, mature Young Adult mystery about a young woman's struggle to not only belong ― but survive.

My Thoughts: CITY OF ANGELS tells an interesting story about a complex time in American history. Nikki Black has fled to southern California after her mother's death and her father's self-destruction. She finds herself in Los Angeles alone just in time for the LA riots that followed the Rodney King verdict in 1992. The story tells what life is like for a runaway with no friends.

Nikki finds herself staying in the American Hotel with a bunch of other young misfits. Since Nikki fled a creepy boyfriend and a movie producer who makes child porn with twelve-year-old Rain, she has to be careful that they don't find her. Rain is drug-addicted like Nikki's mother was and also being groomed by a child predator. When Rain disappears one night, Nikki is sure that she has been sucked back into the world the two recently escaped.

Nikki begins an investigation fueled by her own guilt at not being able to save Rain or her mother that has her looking at a new creepy church and the world of child porn. She is assisted by the motley crew that has become her family.

The mystery aspect of the story was engaging and well thought out. The problems I had with the story centered on two things. First, most of the characters were stereotypes: the happy-go-lucky gay character who just learns he's HIV positive, the former cover model who lost it all because of drugs and is just getting her life back in order, the multiracial couple, the musician with the string of girls and his own hidden guilt. Second, Nikki herself seemed much older and much more self-aware than any seventeen-year-old.

Fans of the time period and fans of teens forging their own futures will enjoy this one.

Favorite Quote:
Seeing their faces raptly watching me, I felt like I didn't need my leather jacket or my combat boots to be tough. I could reach down deep inside and find the strength I needed already there. And the best part of all was the realization that when I made myself vulnerable and turned to others for help, I was stronger and more powerful than I had ever been on my own.
I received this one for review from the publisher. You can buy your copy here.

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Teaser Tuesday: The Waking Land by Callie Bates

Teaser Tuesdays is a weekly bookish meme, hosted by The Purple Booker. 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 last time he came to court, though, he seemed more absurd than monstrous. He had an Agran monkey on a jeweled leash.
This week I am reading The Waking Land by Callie Bates. I got this eARC from NetGalley. Here is the description from Amazon:
In the lush and magical tradition of Naomi Novik’s award-winning Uprooted comes this riveting debut from brilliant young writer Callie Bates—whose boundless imagination places her among the finest authors of fantasy fiction, including Sarah J. Maas and Sabaa Tahir.

Lady Elanna is fiercely devoted to the king who raised her like a daughter. But when he dies under mysterious circumstances, Elanna is accused of his murder—and must flee for her life.

Returning to the homeland of magical legends she has forsaken, Elanna is forced to reckon with her despised, estranged father, branded a traitor long ago. Feeling a strange, deep connection to the natural world, she also must face the truth about the forces she has always denied or disdained as superstition—powers that suddenly stir within her.

But an all-too-human threat is drawing near, determined to exact vengeance. Now Elanna has no choice but to lead a rebellion against the kingdom to which she once gave her allegiance. Trapped between divided loyalties, she must summon the courage to confront a destiny that could tear her apart.

Saturday, June 17, 2017

Book Review: Battle Magic by Tamora Pierce

Battle Magic
Author: Tamora Pierce
Series: Circle Reforged (Book 3)
Publication: Scholastic Press; 1st edition (September 24, 2013)

Description: On their way to the first Circle temple in Gyongxi, mages Briar, Rosethorn, and Evvy pay a visit to the emperor's summer palace. Although treated like royalty when they first arrive, the mages soon discover that the emperor plans to invade Gyongxi, posing a fatal threat to the home temple of the Living Circle religion. Accompanied by one of the emperor's prize captives, the three mages rush to Gyongxi to warn its citizens of the impending attack. With the imperials hot on their trail, Briar, Rosethorn, and Evvy must quickly help the country prepare for battle. But even with the help of new allies, will their combined forces be enough to fight the imperial army and win the war?

My Thoughts: Rosethorn, Briar, and Briar's student Evvy having visited Gyongxe and gotten to know the young god-king are now traveling to Yanjing as guests of the emperor. While everything looks lovely around the emperor, they quickly come to realize that he is evil and wants to conquer all the lands around him. His next target is Gyongxe. Briar and Evvy free one of the emperor's slaves who happens to be a prince from another country and they try to make their way to Gyongxe with the emperor's minions hunting them.

Rosethorn is given a mission that requires her to take some sacred objects of her religion to a place were they can be kept safe from the emperor. She is required to do this alone despite Briar and Evvy lobbying to go with her.

Meanwhile, Briar and Evvy along with Parahan join with fighters including Parahan's twin sister as they try to get word to the god-king of the emperor's plans.

This story had a lot of battles and required all of our characters to dig deep inside themselves. Evvy is captured by the emperor's forces and tortured to tell what she knows about where Parahan, Rosethorn, and Briar are. The scenes of her torture are harrowing. Her torture does lead to her being rescued by the heart of the mountain who provides healing and a place of refuge. Meanwhile, Rosethorn and Briar are feeling guilt at leaving Evvy in what should have been a safe place and both are mourning her death.

I thought the world building in this story was excellent. I enjoyed watching our heroes show that their gifts could make them formidable opponents for a greedy emperor. All of the characters were well-developed and engaging.

This is an excellent fantasy series.

Favorite Quote:
Rosethorn held her hands palm up and looked at the sky. Gracious Mila, help me explain how close they came to the most horrible kind of death, she begged her goddess. Give them knowledge of the world before the world kills them. Give me patience, before I buy two barrels and ship them home that way. I beg you, my goddess, guide me before I do something dreadful and box their ears. 
I bought this one. You can buy your copy here.

Friday, June 16, 2017

Friday Memes: Battle Magic by Tamora Pierce

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:
Two boy-men sat on the river's eastern bank, where an open-fronted tent gave them shelter from the chilly spring wind.
Friday 56:
Slowly Evvy drifted to the end of the procession that followed Emperor Weishu, Rosethorn, and Briar through the series of garden they had entered shortly after dawn that morning. 
This week I dug deep into my TBR pile for Battle Magic by Tamora Pierce. Here is the description from Amazon:
On their way to the first Circle temple in Gyongxi, mages Briar, Rosethorn, and Evvy pay a visit to the emperor's summer palace. Although treated like royalty when they first arrive, the mages soon discover that the emperor plans to invade Gyongxi, posing a fatal threat to the home temple of the Living Circle religion. Accompanied by one of the emperor's prize captives, the three mages rush to Gyongxi to warn its citizens of the impending attack. With the imperials hot on their trail, Briar, Rosethorn, and Evvy must quickly help the country prepare for battle. But even with the help of new allies, will their combined forces be enough to fight the imperial army and win the war?


Thursday, June 15, 2017

Book Review: Ticker by Lisa Mantchev

Ticker
Author: Lisa Mantchev
Publication: Skyscape (December 1, 2014)

Description: A girl with a clockwork heart must make every second count.

When Penny Farthing nearly dies, brilliant surgeon Calvin Warwick manages to implant a brass “Ticker” in her chest, transforming her into the first of the Augmented. But soon it’s discovered that Warwick killed dozens of people as he strove to perfect another improved Ticker for Penny, and he’s put on trial for mass murder.

On the last day of Warwick’s trial, the Farthings’ factory is bombed, Penny’s parents disappear, and Penny and her brother, Nic, receive a ransom note demanding all of their Augmentation research if they want to see their parents again. Is someone trying to destroy the Farthings...or is the motive more sinister?

Desperate to reunite their family and rescue their research, Penny and her brother recruit fiery baker Violet Nesselrode, gentleman-about-town Sebastian Stirling, and Marcus Kingsley, a young army general who has his own reasons for wanting to lift the veil between this world and the next. Wagers are placed, friends are lost, romance stages an ambush, and time is running out for the girl with the clockwork heart.

My Thoughts: Penny Farthing lives with an artificial heart - a ticker - that was installed by a doctor now on trial for mass murder. He kidnapped, experimented on, and murdered a number of people to improve the heart and other augmentations. When the Farthing's factory is bombed and her parents kidnapped, Penny and her twin Copernicus (Nic) recruit some friends including baker Violet Nesselrode and entrepreneur Sebastian Stirling to help them find their missing parents and the papers the kidnappers have demanded as a ransom for them. They are assisted by Marcus Kingsley who is in charge of the local police and who has his own reasons for wanting to find the kidnappers.

This was a great steampunk story filled with wonderful gadgets not least of which was Penny's augmented heart which was in danger of failing throughout the story. The story had sort of a Victorian feel in terms of manners and costumes. It was a very nice mystery and a very nice romance too. I liked the relationship between Penny and her brother Nic and Penny and her best friend Violet.

I would be very happy to read more stories set in this world.

Favorite Quote:
Energy crackled between us until I felt an unexpected kinship with Tesla coils.
I bought this one. You can buy your copy here.

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

ARC Review: More of Me by Kathryn Evans

More of Me
Author: Kathryn Evans
Publication: Amulet Books (June 13, 2017)

Description: Teva goes to school, studies for her exams, and spends time with her friends. To the rest of the world, she’s a normal teenager. But when she goes home, she’s anything but normal. Due to a genetic abnormality, Teva unwillingly clones herself every year. And lately, home has become a battleground. When boys are at stake, friends are lost, and lives are snatched away, Teva has a fight on her hands—a fight with herself. As her birthday rolls around, Teva is all too aware that time is running out. She knows that the next clone will soon seize everything she holds dear. Desperate to hang on to her life, Teva decides to find out more about her past . . . and uncovers lies that could either destroy her or set her free.

My Thoughts: This science fiction story tells about a girl named Teva who looks pretty ordinary on the outside. She goes to school, hangs out with her best friend, and is devoted to her boyfriend Ollie. But on the inside things are not at all ordinary.

Each year, Teva unwillingly clones herself. Only the most recent Teva is allowed to go out of the house. This story is told by the most recent Teva who is very worried about having only one year before another Teva takes over. The previous Teva - Fifteen - is angry that the current Teva has taken over her life, best friend and boyfriend and is sneaking out of the house to be with him.

Despite her mother's demand that they keep their existence a secret, the current Teva begins an investigation to find out why they are like they are. She doesn't understand why her mother is so determined not to go to doctors to get some help. She begins a blog that talks about her strange illness in hopes of finding someone else who has the same thing happening in their life.

I liked a lot of this story. Teva was an interesting character who was rightly concerned that something was wrong with her. I liked her relationship with her best friend and I liked that she was building a relationship with a new boy in her design class. I liked that she was willing to fight to keep her life and that she was developing agency. Her younger selves, except for Fifteen, were willing to follow their mother without thinking about it.

I felt that it was unnecessary to Americanize the book by throwing in the names of US colleges. I felt that it made the story feel a little discordant to me. I had the feeling as I was reading that the story took place somewhere else and then an Americanism was thrown in.

Overall, I enjoyed the book and think it would appeal to many young adults.

Favorite Quote:
I couldn't help but smile. Sometimes, just sometimes, it felt like we were a normal family. Nearly. Keeping hold of Six, I scooped Eva onto my hip. She burrowed her fuzzy head into my neck, and I waddled into the kitchen.
I received this one for review from Amulet Books. You can buy your copy here.

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Teaser Tuesday: The Gentleman's Guide to Vice and Virtue by Mackenzi Lee

Teaser Tuesdays is a weekly bookish meme, hosted by The Purple Booker. 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:
I truly intend to make it a peck, just a small one, like it's only because of the rhyme and not because I've been going mad with wanting him for two years.
This week I am reading The Gentleman's Guide to Vice and Virtue by Mackenzi Lee. I got this eARC from Edelweiss. Here is the description from Amazon:
Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda meets the 1700s in this hilarious and swashbuckling stand-alone teen historical fiction novel. A young bisexual British lord who embarks on an unforgettable Grand Tour of Europe with his best friend/secret crush. An 18th-century romantic adventure for the modern age written by This Monstrous Thing author Mackenzi Lee.

Henry “Monty” Montague doesn’t care that his roguish passions are far from suitable for the gentleman he was born to be. But as Monty embarks on his grand tour of Europe, his quests for pleasure and vice are in danger of coming to an end. Not only does his father expect him to take over the family’s estate upon his return, but Monty is also nursing an impossible crush on his best friend and traveling companion, Percy.

So Monty vows to make this yearlong escapade one last hedonistic hurrah and flirt with Percy from Paris to Rome. But when one of Monty’s reckless decisions turns their trip abroad into a harrowing manhunt, it calls into question everything he knows, including his relationship with the boy he adores.

Witty, dazzling, and intriguing at every turn, The Gentleman's Guide to Vice and Virtue is an irresistible romp that explores the undeniably fine lines between friendship and love.

Saturday, June 10, 2017

ARC Review: We Come Apart by Sarah Crossan and Brian Conaghan

We Come Apart
Author: Sarah Crossan and Brian Conaghan
Publication: Bloomsbury USA Childrens (June 13, 2017)

Description: Authors Brian Conaghan and Sarah Crossan have joined forces to tell the story of Nicu and Jess, two troubled teens whose paths cross in the unlikeliest of places.

Nicu has emigrated from Romania and is struggling to find his place in his new home. Meanwhile, Jess's home life is overshadowed by violence. When Nicu and Jess meet, what starts out as friendship slowly blossoms into romance as the two bond over their painful pasts and their hope and dreams of a better future. But will they be able to save each other, let alone themselves?

This illuminating story told in dual points of view through vibrant verse will stay with readers long after they've finished.

My Thoughts: This novel in verse is told from two viewpoints. Jess is a girl in a bad home situation. Her mother's live-in boyfriend beats her and forces Jess to take videos on his phone. She knows that her mother will take punishment if she does anything to set the boyfriend off. Nicu is a recent immigrant from Romania. He has come with his parents who want to earn enough money to buy him a wife back home. But Nicu doesn't want a wife or to go back home.

The two meet as they are doing community service. Both were caught shop-lifting. At first, Jess doesn't want anything to do with him. She likes to be unnoticed and Nicu becomes a person people pick on for his poor English and foreign appearance.

Gradually the two become friends who try to lean on each other for support. They have big dreams about getting away together to start a new life. But getting away won't be easy. I enjoyed the working class North London setting. I liked that Nicu had dreams of a happier future but could also understand why Jess couldn't see past her current situation.

The combination of gritty realism and verse really made this an interesting story.

Favorite Quote:
"You can talking with me," Nicu says.

And for some reason
I know he'll be good at keeping secrets
so I start to speak.

But I can't tell him everything.
I got this one for review from Bloomsbury. You can buy your copy here.

Friday, June 9, 2017

Friday Memes: We Come Apart by Sarah Crossan and Brian Conaghan

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:
You have to be quick,
none of this pretending to be browsing business
that some shoplifters go for.
Friday 56:
Dawn drags her chair so close to mine
our knees touch.
"So, Jess,
how are things going?"
This week I am reading We Come Apart by Sarah Crossan and Brian Conaghan. Here is the description from Amazon:
Authors Brian Conaghan and Sarah Crossan have joined forces to tell the story of Nicu and Jess, two troubled teens whose paths cross in the unlikeliest of places.

Nicu has emigrated from Romania and is struggling to find his place in his new home. Meanwhile, Jess's home life is overshadowed by violence. When Nicu and Jess meet, what starts out as friendship slowly blossoms into romance as the two bond over their painful pasts and their hope and dreams of a better future. But will they be able to save each other, let alone themselves?

This illuminating story told in dual points of view through vibrant verse will stay with readers long after they've finished.



Thursday, June 8, 2017

ARC Review: The Fallen Kingdom by Elizabeth May

The Fallen Kingdom
Author: Elizabeth May
Series: The Falconer (Book 3)
Publication: Chronicle Books (June 13, 2017)

Description: The long-awaited final book in the Falconer trilogy is an imaginative tour-de-force that will thrill fans of the series. Aileana Kameron, resurrected by ancient fae magic, returns to the world she once knew with no memory of her past and with dangerous powers she struggles to control. Desperate to break the curse that pits two factions of the fae against each other in a struggle that will decide the fate of the human and fae worlds, her only hope is hidden in an ancient book guarded by the legendary Morrigan, a faery of immense power and cruelty. To save the world and the people she loves, Aileana must learn to harness her dark new powers even as they are slowly destroying her. Packed with immersive detail, action, romance, and fae lore, and publishing simultaneously in the UK, The Fallen Kingdom brings the Falconer's story to an epic and unforgettable conclusion.

My Thoughts: This is the third and final volume of the Falconer trilogy and it is packed with action and danger. Aileana Kameron has come back from the dead with vast powers that she struggles to control and that are killing her. Nonetheless, she is determined to find a way to break an ancient curse and save the lives of the people she loves.

She and her companions need to defeat the Morrigan who also has vast powers and who is also searching for the book Aileana and her companions need. The book will allow the Morrigan to have a body again and to take over Earth. Aileana wants to use the book to turn back time to before the fae escaped their prison. Of course, she would also like to save the lives of Aithinne and Kiaran who are cursed to kill each other.

This story was emotionally intense and filled with wonderful descriptions and characters. I enjoyed the world building. Fans of epic fantasy with strong female characters will enjoy this series.

Favorite Quote:
"I hate this," I mutter.

"Really? I'm having a grand time," Aithinne says brightly.

"That's because you're barmy."

"I believe you just mispronounced magnificent."
I got this one for review from NetGalley. You can buy your copy here.

Wednesday, June 7, 2017

ARC Review: Want by Cindy Pon

Want
Author: Cindy Pon
Publication: Simon Pulse (June 13, 2017)

Description: From critically acclaimed author Cindy Pon comes an edge-of-your-seat sci-fi thriller, set in a near-future Taipei plagued by pollution, about a group of teens who risk everything to save their city.

Jason Zhou survives in a divided society where the elite use their wealth to buy longer lives. The rich wear special suits, protecting them from the pollution and viruses that plague the city, while those without suffer illness and early deaths. Frustrated by his city’s corruption and still grieving the loss of his mother who died as a result of it, Zhou is determined to change things, no matter the cost.

With the help of his friends, Zhou infiltrates the lives of the wealthy in hopes of destroying the international Jin Corporation from within. Jin Corp not only manufactures the special suits the rich rely on, but they may also be manufacturing the pollution that makes them necessary.

Yet the deeper Zhou delves into this new world of excess and wealth, the more muddled his plans become. And against his better judgment, Zhou finds himself falling for Daiyu, the daughter of Jin Corp’s CEO. Can Zhou save his city without compromising who he is, or destroying his own heart?

My Thoughts: It starts as a simple plan - very dangerous, but simple; kidnap a rich young woman to gain the funds needed to bring down the Jin Corporation which is selling suits to the wealthy to protect them from the terrible pollution in Taipei. Of course, the corporation isn't above bribing politicians to keep legislation which would help fight the pollution from being passed.

Jason Zhou has grown up as a poor street kid in Taipei. He watched his mother die of an illness that could have been cured had they they money to access healthcare. He sees the sharp divide between the rich and the poor and wants to make life better for the poor of the city. Jason handles the kidnapping on his own. He didn't expect to see his victim as more than the means to an end.

When he infiltrates the rich to get information needed to bring down the Jin Corporation, he never expects to find that the girl he kidnapped is the daughter of the head of the Jin Corporation. Daiyu shouldn't remember their first meeting because of the drug he used on her. However, something about him intrigues her and they form a friendship. She becomes his guide to the Jin Corporation.

This was a great story with wonderful world building. I liked the descriptions both of the lives of the poor and of the rich. I found the description of the environmental suits interesting. I liked the way Jason becomes conflicted about the goal he and his friends are working for when he gets to know Daiyu better.

This is exciting science fiction set in an interesting part of the world.

Favorite Quote:
Means to an end.

Wasn't that the phrase usually used by villains in stories -- or, at best, misguided heroes?
I received this one for review from NetGalley. You can buy your copy here.

Tuesday, June 6, 2017

Teaser Tuesday: The Fallen Kingdom by Elizabeth May

Teaser Tuesdays is a weekly bookish meme, hosted by The Purple Booker. 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:
I reach out with my abilities - nothing more than a searching stroke through the air - and I sense that they're connected. A web of power links each soldier into a cohesive unit. 
This week I am reading The Fallen Kingdom by Elizabeth May. I got this review copy from NetGalley. Here is the description from Amazon:
The long-awaited final book in the Falconer trilogy is an imaginative tour-de-force that will thrill fans of the series. Aileana Kameron, resurrected by ancient fae magic, returns to the world she once knew with no memory of her past and with dangerous powers she struggles to control. Desperate to break the curse that pits two factions of the fae against each other in a struggle that will decide the fate of the human and fae worlds, her only hope is hidden in an ancient book guarded by the legendary Morrigan, a faery of immense power and cruelty. To save the world and the people she loves, Aileana must learn to harness her dark new powers even as they are slowly destroying her. Packed with immersive detail, action, romance, and fae lore, and publishing simultaneously in the UK, The Fallen Kingdom brings the Falconer's story to an epic and unforgettable conclusion.

Saturday, June 3, 2017

ARC Review: What I Lost by Alexandra Ballard

What I Lost
Author: Alexandra Ballard
Publication: Farrar, Straus and Giroux (BYR) (June 6, 2017)

Description: What sixteen-year-old Elizabeth has lost so far: forty pounds, four jean sizes, a boyfriend, and her peace of mind. As a result, she’s finally a size zero. She’s also the newest resident at Wallingfield, a treatment center for girls like her―girls with eating disorders. Elizabeth is determined to endure the program so she can go back home, where she plans to start restricting her food intake again.She’s pretty sure her mom, who has her own size-zero obsession, needs treatment as much as she does. Maybe even more. Then Elizabeth begins receiving mysterious packages. Are they from her ex-boyfriend, a secret admirer, or someone playing a cruel trick?

This eloquent debut novel rings with authenticity as it follows Elizabeth’s journey to taking an active role in her recovery, hoping to get back all that she lost.

My Thoughts: Elizabeth has an eating disorder. She is committed to Wallingfield by her parents but she isn't really convinced that she has a problem. At Wallingfield she meets other girls like her and makes some friends. She is undergoing intensive therapy to deal with her anorexia.

She also begins receiving mysterious packages. She thinks that they are from the boyfriend who dumped her. They give her hope that their relationship isn't over.

The book is from Elizabeth's point of view. So we learn from the inside how a girl with anorexia thinks and reacts. I will say that reading about the ways she avoided eating made me want snacks. Part of Elizabeth's problem comes from the fact that her mother seems to have an undiagnosed eating disorder too. Watching her mother avoid food and constantly change what she will or won't eat helped form Elizabeth's attitude toward food.

I liked the story. I thought it was realistic that the people around her, notably Tristan, couldn't understand why she just didn't eat. He is her ex-boyfriend's best friend and his sister is also a day patient at Wallingfield because of her bulimia. I liked that there wasn't a magical solution and that Elizabeth will have to keep fighting her anorexia in the future.

I recommend this one for young adults who might be overly concerned about their weight or who know someone who is.

Favorite Quote:
What he didn't understand was that we weren't choosing this. Not anymore, anyway. The first time Simone threw up, she made that choice. And no one else made me go on my bikini diet. But after a while our eating disorders messed with our brains. They became something we didn't have control over. Something we couldn't stop by ourselves even if we wanted to.
I received this one for review from Macmillan. You can buy your copy here.

Friday, June 2, 2017

Friday Memes: What I Lost by Alexandra Ballard

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:
No one told me that when I got skinny I'd grow fur.
Friday 56:
"So, you're a Smithie?" The words were barely out of my mouth before I cringed. What I'd meant to say was, Oh, cool, you go to Smith, but instead I sounded like one of those people who uses slang that nobody actually uses, like my Uncle Rodney, who lives in Atlanta and always says, "What's happening in Beantown these days?" when no local I know has ever called Boston Bean-anything.
This week I am reading What I Lost by Alexandra Ballard. I received this ARC from Macmillan. Here is the description from Amazon:
What sixteen-year-old Elizabeth has lost so far: forty pounds, four jean sizes, a boyfriend, and her peace of mind. As a result, she’s finally a size zero. She’s also the newest resident at Wallingfield, a treatment center for girls like her―girls with eating disorders. Elizabeth is determined to endure the program so she can go back home, where she plans to start restricting her food intake again.She’s pretty sure her mom, who has her own size-zero obsession, needs treatment as much as she does. Maybe even more. Then Elizabeth begins receiving mysterious packages. Are they from her ex-boyfriend, a secret admirer, or someone playing a cruel trick?

This eloquent debut novel rings with authenticity as it follows Elizabeth’s journey to taking an active role in her recovery, hoping to get back all that she lost.



Thursday, June 1, 2017

State of the Stack (June 1, 2017)

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 or near the first of the 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
City of Angels by Kristi Belcamino (May 18) arrived on May 27 from the author after her publisher let her know I featured the book on a recent Waiting on Wednesday post.

June
 We Come Apart by Sarah Crossan & Brian Conaghan (June 13)
More of Me by Kathryn Evans (June 13)
 The Last Place You Look by Kristen Lepionka (June 13)
Want by Cindy Pon (June 13)
 Indigo by Charlaine Harris et al. (June 20)
The Waking Land by Callie Bates (June 27)
 UNSUB by Meg Gardiner (June 27)
The Gentleman's Guide to Vice and Virtue by Mackenzi Lee (June 27)

July
 The Reluctant Queen by Sarah Beth Durst (July 4)
A Panicked Premonition by Victoria Laurie (July 4)
Some Kind of Hero by Suzanne Brockmann (July 11)
 Murder in Mayfair by D. M. Quincy (July 11)
Ash and Quill by Rachel Caine (July 11)
Shallow Grave by Brian Thiem (July 11)
 Bannerless by Carrie Vaughn (July 11)
Amid Stars and Darkness by Chani Lynn Feener (July 18)
The Emperor of Mars by Patrick Samphire (July 18)
What Goes Up by Katie Kennedy (July 18)
August
 The Countdown Conspiracy by Katie Slivensky (August 1)
Just Friends by Tiffany Pitcock (August 1)
The Danger Gang and the Pirates of Borneo! by Stephen Bramucci (August 1)
 In Some Other Life by Jessica Brody (August 8)
Hunting Hour by Margaret Mizushima (August 8)
Dead Man's Bridge by Robert J. Mrazek (August 8)
Among the Dead by J. R. Backlund (August 8)
September
 The Great Shelby Holmes Meets Her Match by Elizabeth Eulberg (Sept. 12)
Nyxia by Scott Reintgen (Sept. 12)
The Equals by Daniel Sweren-Becker (Sept. 12)
A Poison Dark and Drowning by Jessica Cluess (Sept. 19)
Murder, Magic, and What We Wore by Kelly Jones (Sept. 19)
Stolen Secrets by L. B. Schulman (Sept. 19)
October
Satellite by Nick Lake (Oct. 3)
Ally by Anna Banks (Oct. 3)
The Exact Location of Home by Kate Messner (Oct. 3)
 The Breathless by Tara Goedjen (Oct. 10)
Berserker by Emmy Laybourne (Oct. 10)
The Innocence Treatment by Ari Goelman (Oct. 17)
The Wicker King by K. Ancrum (Oct. 31)

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. The Girl with the Ghost Machine by Lauren DeStefano
  2. The Frog Princess Returns by E. D. Baker
  3. A Merciful Truth by Kendra Elliot (June 1)
  4. The Sandcastle Empire by Kayla Olson (June 1)
  5. Run to Ground by Katie Ruggle (June 3)
  6. Silver Silence by Nalini Singh (June 7)
  7. What I Lost by Alexandra Ballard (June 3)
  8. The Fallen Kingdom by Elizabeth May (June 8)
  9. Bad Housekeeping by Maia Chance (June 8)
  10. Want by Cindy Pon (June 7)
Read Previously, Reviews Posted This Month
  1. The Traitor's Kiss by Erin Beatty
  2. The Girl Who Knew Too Much by Amanda Quick
  3. A Gleam of Light by T.J. & M.L. Wolf
  4. The Best Kind of Magic by Crystal Cestari
  5. Death in the Abstract by Emily Barnes
  6. The Love Interest by Cale Dietrich
  7. Edited Out by E.J. Copperman
  8. Big City Heat by David Burnsworth
  9. Say You're Sorry by Melinda Leigh
  10. The Dragon with a Chocolate Heart by Stephanie Burgis 
  11. Ensnared by Rita Stradling
I Added These Books

These are listed in the order I received them. Links go to Amazon for the ones that aren't linked above.
  1. Silver Silence by Nalini Singh
  2. Want by Cindy Pon
  3. The Great Shelby Holmes Meets Her Match by Elizabeth Eulberg
  4. A Poison Dark and Drowning by Jessica Cluess
  5. Murder, Magic, and What We Wore by Kelly Jones
  6. Nyxia by Scott Reintgen
  7. The Breathless by Tara Goedjen
  8. Satellite by Nick Lake
  9. The Equals by Daniel Sweren-Becker
  10. Ally by Anna Banks
  11. The Wicker King by K. Ancrum
  12. The Innocence Treatment by Ari Goelman
  13. Berserker by Emmy Laybourne
  14. The Exact Location of Home by Kate Messner
  15. The Last Place You Look by Kristen Lepionka
  16. Bannerless by Carrie Vaughn
  17. UNSUB by Meg Gardiner
  18. City of Angels by Kristi Belcamino
  19. More of Me by Kathryn Evans
  20. Stolen Secrets by L. B. Schulman
Next Month's Plan

My goal for the next couple of weeks is just "survival." I am getting ready to end the school year, sell my house, and move. There are hundreds of things I need to do before the moving van comes on June 8 and reading is not at the top of the list.

With five books to read before June 14 including two new arrivals this week, I am starting to think that I won't be able to post those reviews on time. If that is so, it will be a first for me. I'm usually about a month ahead on my review books.