Thursday, March 30, 2017

ARC Review: Shadowcaster by Cinda Williams Chima

Shadowcaster
Author: Cinda Williams Chima
Series: Shattered Realms (Book 2)
Publication: HarperTeen (April 4, 2017)

Description: From New York Times bestselling author Cinda Williams Chima, this is a thrilling story of the unfathomable costs of war, the allure of dark magic, and two principled and conflicted characters drawn together despite everything they stand to lose.

Alyssa ana’Raisa, the reluctant princess heir to the Gray Wolf throne of the Fells, feels more comfortable striking with a sword than maneuvering at court. After a brush with death, Lyss goes on the offensive, meaning to end the war that has raged her whole life. If her gamble doesn’t pay off, she could lose her queendom before she even ascends to the throne. Across enemy lines in Arden, young rising star Captain Halston Matelon is being sent on ever more dangerous assignments. Between the terrifying rumors of witches and wolfish warriors to the north and his cruel king at home, Hal is caught in an impossible game of life and death.

Lyss and Hal’s intricately linked fates become inseparable when they fall under the shadow of a new enemy—a force that threatens to extinguish the last rays of hope in the Shattered Realms.

My Thoughts: SHADOWCASTER is the sequel to FLAMECASTER and follows a different set of characters as they fight a war that has gone on for at least twenty-five years. Lyss is the heir to the Queendom but is much more comfortable in her role as Captain Gray leading her troops in the army. She has lost her older sister, father, and older brother to the fighting and is her mother's only surviving child. She has come to believe that the war will never be done unless they take the fight onto the enemy's soil.

Captain Hal Matelon is one of the king of Arden's soldiers. However, since his father is one of the King's Thanes and in a conflict with the king, Hal finds himself leading troops on what is essentially a suicide mission. While the king won't kill him outright, he doesn't hesitate to put Hal in situations where the enemy will do it for him.

Breon is a young, leaf-addicted musician who has no memory of his life before the age of ten. When his handle gets him a gig using his magical talent to lure a girlie into the hands of a shy suitor, Breon finds himself inadvertently luring Lyss into an ambush which is designed to lead to her assassination. Breon's magemark on the back of his neck makes him a target for more than Lyss's forces.

Lyss survives which adds to her desire to take the fight into Arden. Breon flees but is eventually captured by Lyss's allies. Hal is also captured by Lyss when she takes the town in Arden he was sent to subdue. Lyss and Hal fall in love but it is a Romeo and Juliet sort of business. They are enemies from different countries. He doesn't know she's the heir to the throne, And he wants to escape to try to find out what has happened to his mother and sister who have come under the control of the king of Arden.

The story also gave us a cameo appearance by Jenna and her dragon Flamecaster who were major characters in the first book. This was a great story but with a major cliffhanger ending. Checking Chima's website lets me know that this is book 2 of 4. I can't wait to know what happens next.

Favorite Quote:
Maybe she'd be better off crossing the border on her own -- just one gray wolf with a longbow, a sword, and a thirst for vengeance. She'd keep ranging south, taking lesser prey along the way, until she found the king of Arden. And then she would show him what it was like to be hunted. 
I got this one for review from Edelweiss. You can buy your copy here.

Wednesday, March 29, 2017

ARC Review: Defy the Stars by Claudia Gray

Defy the Stars
Author: Claudia Gray
Publication: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers (April 4, 2017)

Description: She's a soldier.

Noemi Vidal is seventeen years old and sworn to protect her planet, Genesis. She's willing to risk anything--including her own life. To their enemies on Earth, she's a rebel.

He's a machine.

Abandoned in space for years, utterly alone, Abel has advanced programming that's begun to evolve. He wants only to protect his creator, and to be free. To the people of Genesis, he's an abomination.

Noemi and Abel are enemies in an interstellar war, forced by chance to work together as they embark on a daring journey through the stars. Their efforts would end the fighting for good, but they're not without sacrifice. The stakes are even higher than either of them first realized, and the more time they spend together, the more they're forced to question everything they'd been taught was true.

My Thoughts: DEFY THE STARS was a very engaging science fiction story. Noemi Vidal is an orphan, a pilot, and a member of a suicide squad determined to close the gate that brings forces from Earth who are trying to conquer her planet Genesis. Earth has worn itself out and needs new planets. However, the settlers on Genesis are willing to fight a war to keep Earth from destroying their planet.

On a training run, Noemi's friend Esther is injured and Noemi's only hope is to take her to a derelict ship near the gate in the hopes that the sick bay will have what she needs to help her friend. Noemi doesn't realize the the derelict ship has been the prison for an advanced mech for the last thirty years.

Abel is the first and greatest creation of cyberneticist Burton Mansfield. Mansfield also created the twenty-six other varieties of mech who do all sorts of jobs on Earth and the other Earth-seeded planets. From medicine to the military, various mechs are built for the various jobs. Abel is one of a kind however and his thirty years in isolation have let him develop new talents that his creator didn't anticipate.

When Noemi and Abel first meet, it is at the point of a gun. But Abel pledges his service to Noemi since his programming dictates that he serve the highest human authority on the vessel. Neither trusts the other at all. Noemi has been taught, and experience has shown her, that any mech is evil. Abel really wants to return to Burton Mansfield but years of loneliness overcome that wish.

When Abel tells Noemi that there is a way to disrupt the gate that won't require the suicide run that is in the plans, Noemi decides to take that option. They need things not available on the ship or on Genesis and need to go through the gate to the larger universe belong.

As they travel from planet to planet to get what they need, they both see what conditions are like for the humans on other planets and see that a resistance movement opposed to Earth's policies has been developing. They also both see that the need for another home for humans is becoming more and more desperate.

Their feeling for each other change as they travel. They make friends. And, eventually, they come up with a plan that won't necessitate the deaths of either of them. But that doesn't mean that they are at all safe. Burton Mansfield has his own plans for Abel and will go to great lengths to accomplish them.

This was excellent science fiction.

Favorite Quote:
Genesis doctrine says they need no other worlds. Noemi believes this. But even if you don't need something, can't you want it? Surely it can't be wrong to want to see more of creation. to behold the universe from every possible angle -- to be the way in which the universe if able to behold itself. As long as she can remember, she's yearned to explore beyond any limits.
I received this one for review from NetGalley. You can buy your copy here.

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Teaser Tuesday: Shadowcaster by Cinda Williams Chima

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 (from 10% in the eARC):
If they were sheep, the mudback captain was the sheepdog, by turns leading them into the fray, turning them away from danger, snapping at their heels, calling them to order when they fell apart.
This week I am reading Shadowcaster by Cinda Williams Chima. I got this eARC from Edelweiss. Here is the description from Amazon:
From New York Times bestselling author Cinda Williams Chima, this is a thrilling story of the unfathomable costs of war, the allure of dark magic, and two principled and conflicted characters drawn together despite everything they stand to lose.

Alyssa ana’Raisa, the reluctant princess heir to the Gray Wolf throne of the Fells, feels more comfortable striking with a sword than maneuvering at court. After a brush with death, Lyss goes on the offensive, meaning to end the war that has raged her whole life. If her gamble doesn’t pay off, she could lose her queendom before she even ascends to the throne. Across enemy lines in Arden, young rising star Captain Halston Matelon is being sent on ever more dangerous assignments. Between the terrifying rumors of witches and wolfish warriors to the north and his cruel king at home, Hal is caught in an impossible game of life and death.

Lyss and Hal’s intricately linked fates become inseparable when they fall under the shadow of a new enemy—a force that threatens to extinguish the last rays of hope in the Shattered Realms.


Monday, March 27, 2017

It's Monday! What Are You Reading? (March 27, 2017)

It's Monday, What Are You Reading? is a meme hosted at The Book Date.  Kellee at Unleashing Readers and Jen at Teach Mentor Texts have given it a kidlit focus.

It’s Monday!  What Are You Reading, is where we gather to share what we have read this past week and what we plan to read this week.  It is a great way to network with other bloggers, see some wonderful blogs, and put new titles on your reading list.

Other Than Reading...

This was a quiet week with cooler than normal temperatures which kept me inside.

I had a woman call and want to take a look at my house even though it won't go on the market officially until late in May. She liked it and thought it would work well for her and her two kids. She called the next day because her banker wanted information about the taxes. Seems like she could be a serious buyer for my house. My fingers are crossed that she can get everything in order to buy the house.

I also met with the painter who is going to paint the place from top to bottom. His bid came late in the week. Our original plan was to have it painted April 24-28 but I called and postponed until May 22-26. It will give me more time to get things in boxes and less time to scuff up the paint during my sale and moving. I'm hoping to sell enough to make some room for him to move around.

Last Friday a friend came over and we tackled my office. My office supplies closet is now empty with most things going into the rummage sale pile. Next Friday we are going to start packing books. Hopefully we'll get the ones in my family room and office boxed up. The main problem in that books in boxes take up much more room than books on shelves. But the bookshelves need to be empty and detached from the walls before the painter can do his job. We're going to save the wall of books in the Master Bedroom until after the rummage sale and the painting because those bookshelves are remaining, have backs, and can be painted around. Another large basket of clothes were discovered when we went through a couple more closets and were taken to the Salvation Army on Saturday.

Meanwhile at work, this coming week is the last week of the third quarter and will be filled with report cards for my 300+ students. I'm down to less than 50 work days remaining until retirement.

Read Last Week
The Inconceivable Life of Quinn by Marianna Baer was an interesting contemporary about a 16-year-old who finds herself pregnant without knowing how or when it happened and the results of her pregnancy on her father's campaign for Congress, her relationship with her boyfriend, and various other parties. My review will be posted on April 8.

While wandering around my high school media during times when my students were working independently and didn't need me, I grabbed a few books from the shelves the caught my attention. I've added some quick thoughts about each of these to LibraryThing and GoodReads but won't be writing reviews for the blog.
  • Sunny Side Up by Jennifer L. Holm & Matthew Holm was an engaging graphic novel with a young heroine dealing with spending the summer at her Grandfather's retirement home.
  • Woolvs in the Sitee by Margaret Wild was a sort of spooky, post-apocalyptic graphic novel the packed a lot into just a few pages.
  • Reaching for Sun by Tracie Vaughn Zimmer was a novel in verse telling about one year in the life of Josie who deals with her cerebral palsy and finds a friend.
Currently
Missing by Kelley Armstrong (April 18)

Next Week
Reviews Posted
 
Want to See What I Added to My Stack Last Week?
I got a surprise review book in my mail this week. We Come Apart by Sarah Crossan and Brian Conaghan will be released on June 13.

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

Saturday, March 25, 2017

ARC Review: 100 Hours by Rachel Vincent

100 Hours
Author: Rachel Vincent
Series: 100 Hours (Book 1)
Publication: Katherine Tegen Books (March 28, 2017)

Description: In this sexy, pulse-pounding new duology by New York Times bestselling author Rachel Vincent, a decadent spring break beach getaway becomes a terrifying survival story when six Miami teens are kidnapped.

Maddie is beyond done with her cousin Genesis’s entitled and shallow entourage. Genesis is so over Miami’s predictable social scene with its velvet ropes, petty power plays, and backstabbing boyfriends.

While Maddie craves family time for spring break, Genesis seeks novelty—like a last-minute getaway to an untouched beach in Colombia. And when Genesis wants something, it happens.

But paradise has its price. Dragged from their tents under the cover of dark, Genesis, Maddie, and their friends are kidnapped and held for ransom deep inside the jungle—with no diva left behind. It all feels so random to everyone except Genesis. She knows they were targeted for a reason. And that reason is her.

Now, as the hours count down, only one thing’s for certain: If the Miami hostages can’t thwart their captors’ plan, no one will make it out alive.

Tapping into our darkest fears while exploring issues of injustice, loss, and the courage to fight for what matters most, this thrilling read is perfect for fans of Nova Ren Suma, Becca Fitzpatrick, and Jennifer L. Armentrout.

My Thoughts: This was an exciting, fast-paced thriller with intriguing characters. Genesis, whose father own a large shipping company, is the leader of her crew which includes her cousins Ryan and Maddie, her boyfriend Holden, and her friends Pen and Neda. Instead of spending their Spring Break in the Bahamas, Genesis decides that Colombia would be a better choice. Her grandmother lives there, her father was born there, and Ryan and Maddie's father was killed there.

The story begins with two people running from a woman toward the beach and the hope of freedom. Then the story counts down the previous hundred hours from the alternating viewpoints of Genesis and Maddie as the group are kidnapped by strangers they later learn are both terrorists and drug smugglers.

I found Genesis's viewpoint fascinating though I didn't like her at all at first and gradually came to understand her better as the story progressed. I also liked Maddie's viewpoint as she discovered strengths and talents that she didn't know she had.

Fans of thrillers will enjoy this one and wait eagerly for the book which completes the duology.

Favorite Quote:
Luke shrugs. "It's clean. It's the only thing I had that was small enough to fit into his mouth. Not that my underwear is small." His face turns bright red. "Not that it's big either. I mean..." Finally he gives up with a sigh. "Stop talking while you're ahead, Luke," he mumbles.

"I'm not sure you were actually ahead."
I got this one for review from Edelweiss. You can buy your copy here.

Friday, March 24, 2017

Friday Memes: 100 Hours by Rachel Vincent

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:
"She's getting closer!"

I glance over my shoulder, and the movement throws me off balance. My cousin grabs my arm before I can fall, then she's in the lead, clutching the cell phone in one hand.
Friday 56 (from 56% of the eARC):
I'm starting to think they're going to march us all night.
This week I'm reading 100 Hours by Rachel Vincent. I got this eARC from Edelweiss. Here is the description from Amazon:
In this sexy, pulse-pounding new duology by New York Times bestselling author Rachel Vincent, a decadent spring break beach getaway becomes a terrifying survival story when six Miami teens are kidnapped.

Maddie is beyond done with her cousin Genesis’s entitled and shallow entourage. Genesis is so over Miami’s predictable social scene with its velvet ropes, petty power plays, and backstabbing boyfriends.

While Maddie craves family time for spring break, Genesis seeks novelty—like a last-minute getaway to an untouched beach in Colombia. And when Genesis wants something, it happens.

But paradise has its price. Dragged from their tents under the cover of dark, Genesis, Maddie, and their friends are kidnapped and held for ransom deep inside the jungle—with no diva left behind. It all feels so random to everyone except Genesis. She knows they were targeted for a reason. And that reason is her.

Now, as the hours count down, only one thing’s for certain: If the Miami hostages can’t thwart their captors’ plan, no one will make it out alive.

Tapping into our darkest fears while exploring issues of injustice, loss, and the courage to fight for what matters most, this thrilling read is perfect for fans of Nova Ren Suma, Becca Fitzpatrick, and Jennifer L. Armentrout.

Thursday, March 23, 2017

ARC Review: Shadow Run by Michael Miller and AdriAnne Strickland

Shadow Run
Author: Michael Miller and AdriAnne Strickland
Publication: Delacorte Press (March 21, 2017)

Description: Firefly meets Dune in this action-packed sci-fi adventure about a close-knit, found family of a crew navigating a galaxy of political intrigue and resource-driven power games.

Nev has just joined the crew of the starship Kaitan Heritage as the cargo loader. His captain, Qole, is the youngest-ever person to command her own ship, but she brooks no argument from her crew of orphans, fugitives, and con men. Nev can't resist her, even if her ship is an antique.

As for Nev, he's a prince, in hiding on the ship. He believes Qole holds the key to changing galactic civilization, and when her cooperation proves difficult to obtain, Nev resolves to get her to his home planet by any means necessary.

But before they know it, a rival royal family is after Qole too, and they're more interested in stealing her abilities than in keeping her alive.

Nev's mission to manipulate Qole becomes one to save her, and to survive, she'll have to trust her would-be kidnapper. He may be royalty, but Qole is discovering a deep reservoir of power--and stars have mercy on whoever tries to hurt her ship or her crew.

My Thoughts: This is fast-paced, action filled space opera. Qole, her brother Arjan, and their crew mine Shadow which is a very dangerous power source. They pick up a new crew member in Nev who has a hidden agenda for being on their ship.

Qole and her brother come from a family that has been involved in Shadow for a long time and, thus far, Shadow has proved to be fatal to most of the family. Qole is only sixteen and has charge of the ship because her parents and her older brother all went mad from too much Shadow and died. Qole feels that that will likely be her fate too. However, Shadow does have some benefits. She is stronger, faster, and a much better pilot than anyone else her age.

Nev has been sent by his family who are among the Royals who control everything to bring Qole back so that they can learn about her affinity with Shadow and how to use it. He doesn't realize that his father the King and his uncle the mad scientist are willing to dissect her to find out her secrets. He comes to a rude awakening when he learns that all the high ideals about honor and service to the people were just lies that his family told him.

When Qole and Arjan are kidnapped to be experimented on, Nev has to break from his family to rescue the young woman who deserves his loyalty.

The world building in this one was intriguing. It takes place after the collapse of the gates that allowed interstellar travel which has isolated many planetary systems. Qole's own home planet is an ice-covered planet that has been mined out by drones owned by Nev's family. The drones still exist but no one knows how to program them anymore. Now they are mainly hazards to Shadow fishers.

I liked the relationship that grew between Nev and Qole. I liked that both of them had to come to terms with who they wanted to be. Qole has to learn more about Shadow and learn how not to be overwhelmed by it. Nev has to learn to forge his own path since he can no longer follow his father's orders blindly.

The story has lots of adventures as Nev has to first rescue Qole and then Nev, Qole and the rest of the crew have to mount a rescue of Arjan. They need to battle the combined forces of the king to win through.

Favorite Quote:
If the other Qole was dangerous as a meteor, this Qole was dangerous like Shadow, an unknown element to the people around her, and they stayed well away, casting sideways glances.
I got this one for review from NetGalley. You can buy your copy here.

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

ARC Review: Blood Rose Rebellion by Rosalyn Eves

Blood Rose Rebellion
Author: Rosalyn Eves
Series: Blood Rose Rebellion
Publication: Knopf Books for Young Readers (March 28, 2017)

Description: The thrilling first book in a YA fantasy trilogy for fans of Red Queen. In a world where social prestige derives from a trifecta of blood, money, and magic, one girl has the ability to break the spell that holds the social order in place.Sixteen-year-old Anna Arden is barred from society by a defect of blood. Though her family is part of the Luminate, powerful users of magic, she is Barren, unable to perform the simplest spells. Anna would do anything to belong. But her fate takes another course when, after inadvertently breaking her sister’s debutante spell—an important chance for a highborn young woman to show her prowess with magic—Anna finds herself exiled to her family’s once powerful but now crumbling native Hungary.

Her life might well be over.

In Hungary, Anna discovers that nothing is quite as it seems. Not the people around her, from her aloof cousin Noémi to the fierce and handsome Romani Gábor. Not the society she’s known all her life, for discontent with the Luminate is sweeping the land. And not her lack of magic. Isolated from the only world she cares about, Anna still can’t seem to stop herself from breaking spells.

As rebellion spreads across the region, Anna’s unique ability becomes the catalyst everyone is seeking. In the company of nobles, revolutionaries, and Romani, Anna must choose: deny her unique power and cling to the life she’s always wanted, or embrace her ability and change that world forever.

My Thoughts: BLOOD ROSE REBELLION was an excellent historical fantasy about a society that hoards magic to itself and a girl born to that society who has no magic. Anna Arden is the middle child. The story begins at her older sister's debut - a time when a young woman shows off her magic to secure her place in society. Anna's sister has ordered her not to be anywhere close because, not only does Anna have no magic but, she is sometimes able to disrupt another person's spells.

When she catastrophically and thoroughly disrupts her sister's spells, she comes to the attention of the Society who want to study her. They fear that she might be able to disrupt the Binding Spell which keeps them in power.

To protect her, her father sends her with her Grandmother to Hungary to get her away from the Society. But the Society isn't willing to let her go. Anna arrives in Hungary feeling that she has been exiled from the life she wants. Her viewpoint changes when she meets her cousin and a young Romani man. In Hungary, Anna is exposed to many new ideas as she mingles with revolutionaries who want the Binding Spell gone. She sees how many people are oppressed by the current power structure.

Anna becomes the focus for those who want the Binding Spell gone and for those who want to preserve it. She has to decide which she wants more: the life she had or the new possibilities. This isn't an easy decision. Whichever path she chooses will cost almost more than she can survive.

I loved watching Anna grow throughout this story. The world building, based on the Hungarian Revolution of 1848, was well done. The characters were richly detailed and interesting people. I recommend this story to fantasy lovers. The story feels complete. There were no glaring cliffhangers, but the Epilogue does give intriguing hints for a possible sequel.

Favorite Quote:
I should feel jubilant as well -- and vindicated. I had set out to prove what I could do, and I had done it. But I felt neither: my stomach curled tight and I pressed my arms against my sides, my hands folded protectively before me. It was one thing to be a spell-binder, to shape air and light into illusions, to heal. It was something else entirely to destroy those spells, to turn gifts into curses, to release shadows into daylight.
I got this one in exchange for an honest review from the publisher. You can buy your copy here.

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Teaser Tuesday: Shadow Run by Michael Miller

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 (from 10% of the eARC):
"If you suck up any harder, I'll think we're already back out in the vacuum of space." Qole's lips twitched, her eyes still focused on out path between the buildings. I felt a glow of pleasure at that small reaction.
This week I am reading Shadow Run by Michael Miller and AdriAnne Strickland. I got this eARC from NetGalley. Here is the description from Amazon:
Firefly meets Dune in this action-packed sci-fi adventure about a close-knit, found family of a crew navigating a galaxy of political intrigue and resource-driven power games.

Nev has just joined the crew of the starship Kaitan Heritage as the cargo loader. His captain, Qole, is the youngest-ever person to command her own ship, but she brooks no argument from her crew of orphans, fugitives, and con men. Nev can't resist her, even if her ship is an antique.

As for Nev, he's a prince, in hiding on the ship. He believes Qole holds the key to changing galactic civilization, and when her cooperation proves difficult to obtain, Nev resolves to get her to his home planet by any means necessary.

But before they know it, a rival royal family is after Qole too, and they're more interested in stealing her abilities than in keeping her alive.

Nev's mission to manipulate Qole becomes one to save her, and to survive, she'll have to trust her would-be kidnapper. He may be royalty, but Qole is discovering a deep reservoir of power--and stars have mercy on whoever tries to hurt her ship or her crew.

Monday, March 20, 2017

It's Monday! What Are You Reading? (March 20, 2017)

It's Monday, What Are You Reading? is a meme hosted at The Book Date.  Kellee at Unleashing Readers and Jen at Teach Mentor Texts have given it a kidlit focus.

It’s Monday!  What Are You Reading, is where we gather to share what we have read this past week and what we plan to read this week.  It is a great way to network with other bloggers, see some wonderful blogs, and put new titles on your reading list.

Other Than Reading...

This week was sort of a busy one. I met with the realtor who will be listing my house to make some beginning plans. I met with a painter who is going to neutralize the colors in my house to make it more appealing to potential buyers.

A friend and I got together Friday evening to start dividing stuff into four piles - take, rummage sale, donate, or trash. We got through two closets. We'll be meeting the next few Friday evenings to continue sorting stuff. Next week -- my office!

I have to have my books packed and the bookshelves loose from the walls before the painter comes in. He and my realtor will be picking the colors since I don't care what color the walls are once I'm gone. I'm hoping to have him come and paint the beginning of May so that I have time to organize and box. I really don't want my things to sit in boxes for months either. I need to contact movers and get them set up to move my stuff around the 8th of June.

My realtor wants me to have flyers to hand out during my rummage sale May 19 - 20 in case anyone who comes might be interested in buying the place. Plans are now that no showings will happen until after May 20 to give me a chance to unclutter.
Read Last Week
Duels & Deception by Cindy Anstey was a Regency Romance. The plot was a little more complicated than many of the Regencies I've read. The characters were interesting and the mystery was a strong plot element. My review will be posted on April 6.

Currently
I've just begun Spindle Fire by Lexa Hillyer. It will be released on April 11.

Next Week
More review books:
Reviews Posted
Want to See What I Added to My Stack Last Week?
Carve the Mark by Veronica Roth was a Kindle Deal this week. I've been wanting to read it for a while.

I also got a package of middle grade ARCs from Bloomsbury this week.
The Girl with the Ghost Machine by Lauren DeStefano

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

Saturday, March 18, 2017

ARC Review: Miss Ellicott's School for the Magically Minded by Sage Blackwood

Miss Ellicott's School for the Magically Minded
Author: Sage Blackwood
Publication: Katherine Tegen Books (March 21, 2017)

Description: From the author of the acclaimed Jinx trilogy comes a spellbinding fantasy, perfect for fans of The School for Good and Evil, about a young heroine fighting to save a world that would dare to tame her.

Chantel would much rather focus on her magic than on curtsying, which is why she often finds herself in trouble at Miss Ellicott’s School for Magical Maidens. But when Miss Ellicott mysteriously disappears along with all the other sorceresses in the city, Chantel’s behavior becomes the least of her problems.

Without any magic protecting the city, it is up to Chantel and her friends to save the Kingdom. On a dangerous mission, Chantel will discover a cross-wielding boy, a dragon, and a new, fiery magic that burns inside her—but can she find the sorceresses and transform Lightning Pass into the city it was meant to be?

My Thoughts: Chantel is a thirteen-year-old orphan in the walled city of Lightning Pass. She was chosen to be a pupil at a school for Magical Maidens. Miss Ellicott is the sorceress who runs the school. Along with spells, the maidens are taught to be shamefast and biddable and to always conduct themselves with deportment. Chantel is good at the spells. In fact, she is the best at summoning and summoned a snake to be her familiar at age six. However, she is not very good at deportment, being shamefast or biddable.

When Miss Ellicott disappears and Marauders gather outside the walls in large numbers. Chantel and her friends need to find a way to locate their teacher and strengthen the wall. At least, that is what Chantel thinks they need to do.

But finding the missing sorceresses doesn't lead to the result Chantel wants and she needs to team with a young Maurader boy and her legendary dragon companion to make the city safe for all.

This was an enjoyable story with interesting world building. It reminded me a bit of Victorian times when manners were paramount and young women had very specific roles. Chantel is an intriguing character who finds her own strengths and purpose throughout this story.

Fans of fantasy will enjoy this story.

Favorite Quote:
And nobody even noticed she was there. Of course they didn't. They were too busy staring, running and yelling. When a girl rides in on a dragon, nobody notices the girl.
I got this eARC from Edelweiss. You can buy your copy here.

Friday, March 17, 2017

Friday Memes: Miss Ellicott's School for the Magically Minded by Sage Blackwood

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:
A secret nearly cost Chantel her life, on a dark summer morning when the rains ran down the stairstepped stone streets of Lightning Pass.
Friday 56 (from 56% of the eARC):
The dragon cocked a sardonic eyebrow at her. This was the first time Chantel had noticed he even had eyebrows.
This week I'm reading Miss Ellicott's School for the Magically Minded by Sage Blackwood. I got this eARC from Edelweiss. Here is the description from Amazon:
From the author of the acclaimed Jinx trilogy comes a spellbinding fantasy, perfect for fans of The School for Good and Evil, about a young heroine fighting to save a world that would dare to tame her.

Chantel would much rather focus on her magic than on curtsying, which is why she often finds herself in trouble at Miss Ellicott’s School for Magical Maidens. But when Miss Ellicott mysteriously disappears along with all the other sorceresses in the city, Chantel’s behavior becomes the least of her problems.

Without any magic protecting the city, it is up to Chantel and her friends to save the Kingdom. On a dangerous mission, Chantel will discover a cross-wielding boy, a dragon, and a new, fiery magic that burns inside her—but can she find the sorceresses and transform Lightning Pass into the city it was meant to be?

Thursday, March 16, 2017

ARC Review: The Hidden Memory of Objects by Danielle Mages Amato

The Hidden Memory of Objects
Author: Danielle Mages Amato
Publication: Balzer + Bray (March 21, 2017)

Description: The Hidden Memory of Objects is a highly original and beautifully written debut mystery novel with a speculative element, perfect for readers who loved Gayle Forman’s If I Stay.

Megan Brown’s brother, Tyler, is dead, but the cops are killing him all over again. They say he died of a drug overdose, potentially suicide—something Megan cannot accept. Determined to figure out what happened in the months before Tyler’s death, Megan turns to the things he left behind. After all, she understands the stories objects can tell—at fifteen, she is a gifted collage artist with a flair for creating found-object pieces. However, Megan now realizes that her artistic talent has developed into something more: she can see memories attached to some of Tyler’s belongings—and those memories reveal a brother she never knew.

Enlisting the help of an artifact detective who shares her ability and specializes in murderabilia—objects tainted by violence or the deaths of their owners—Megan finds herself drawn into a world of painful personal and national memories. Along with a trusted classmate and her brother's charming friend, she chases down the troubling truth about Tyler across Washington, DC, while reclaiming her own stifled identity with a vengeance.

My Thoughts: Megan Brown's beloved older brother Tyler is dead. He was found in an abandoned building far from home. The police know that he died of a heroin overdose but Megan can't believe it. That wasn't the brother she knew.

Megan is an artist whose medium is collage. So she goes looking for some of Tyler's objects to try to understand what happened. She feels pain and sees things when she touches some of Tyler's things but first puts it off to grief or medication or maybe a brain tumor. She can't believe that she is seeing the past when she touches things.

Her friend Eric is convinced that she has developed a superpower. Her new acquaintance Nathan who was a friend of Tyler's wants to help her learn more about Tyler but he is only handing out what he knows in bits and pieces. One of the pieces is a much read, annotated, and dog-eared biography of John Wilkes Booth. Tyler was focused on him in the days before he died.

The whole Lincoln assassination figures prominently in this mystery. Megan's mother organizes events at Ford's Theater. One of the people she consults is a noted Lincoln expert who has the same problem Megan does with touching objects that have strong memories attached to them.

This was a fascinating mystery. I loved how Megan learned about her brother and how what she learned changed how she saw herself and how she wanted to live her own life. I loved the information about Abraham Lincoln, John Wilkes Booth and the other surrounding characters from that time.

I found the story compelling and couldn't put it down until I reached the satisfying conclusion. Fans of mysteries with a little bit of the paranormal will really enjoy this well-written story.

Favorite Quote:
With one touch, the box had knocked me flat. This made it official: what I'd experienced by Tyler's locker was not a fluke, something brought on by grief and stress and migraine medication. I was really seeing images -- and suffering pain -- when I touched some of Tyler's belongings.
I got this eARC from Edelweiss. You can buy your copy here.

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

WoW: Just Fly Away by Andrew McCarthy

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!

Andrew McCarthy
March 28

From Amazon: A debut novel about one girl’s discovery of family secrets, first love, the limits of forgiveness, and finding one’s way in the world, written with wisdom and sympathy by the bestselling memoirist, actor, and director.

When fifteen-year-old Lucy Willows discovers that her father has a child from a brief affair, an eight-year-old boy named Thomas who lives in her own suburban New Jersey town, she begins to question everything she thinks she knows about her family and her life. Lucy can’t believe her father betrayed the whole family, or that her mother forgave him, or that her sister isn’t rocked by the news the way Lucy is. Worse, Lucy’s father’s secret is now her own, one that isolates her from her friends, family, and even her boyfriend, Simon, the one person she expected would truly understand. When Lucy escapes to Maine, the home of her mysteriously estranged grandfather, she finally begins to get to the bottom of her family’s secrets and lies.

Fans of the rebels and antiheroes in the novels of Rainbow Rowell, A. S. King, and Meg Wolitzer will welcome this sharp, observant new voice in young adult fiction.

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Teaser Tuesday: The Hidden Memory of Objects by Danielle Mages Amato

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 (from 10% of the eARC):
My father tried to wrap his arms around her, but she shrugged him off and disappeared down the hall. He stood frozen for a moment, his hands still outstretched. Then he followed her.
This week I'm reading The Hidden Memory of Objects by Danielle Mages Amato. I got this eARC from Edelweiss. Here is the description from Amazon:
The Hidden Memory of Objects is a highly original and beautifully written debut mystery novel with a speculative element, perfect for readers who loved Gayle Forman’s If I Stay.

Megan Brown’s brother, Tyler, is dead, but the cops are killing him all over again. They say he died of a drug overdose, potentially suicide—something Megan cannot accept. Determined to figure out what happened in the months before Tyler’s death, Megan turns to the things he left behind. After all, she understands the stories objects can tell—at fifteen, she is a gifted collage artist with a flair for creating found-object pieces. However, Megan now realizes that her artistic talent has developed into something more: she can see memories attached to some of Tyler’s belongings—and those memories reveal a brother she never knew.

Enlisting the help of an artifact detective who shares her ability and specializes in murderabilia—objects tainted by violence or the deaths of their owners—Megan finds herself drawn into a world of painful personal and national memories. Along with a trusted classmate and her brother's charming friend, she chases down the troubling truth about Tyler across Washington, DC, while reclaiming her own stifled identity with a vengeance.

Monday, March 13, 2017

It's Monday! What Are You Reading? (March 13, 2017)

It's Monday, What Are You Reading? is a meme hosted at The Book Date.  Kellee at Unleashing Readers and Jen at Teach Mentor Texts have given it a kidlit focus.

It’s Monday!  What Are You Reading, is where we gather to share what we have read this past week and what we plan to read this week.  It is a great way to network with other bloggers, see some wonderful blogs, and put new titles on your reading list.

Other Than Reading...

This week was a cold and busy one. We had Parent-Teacher Conferences Monday and Thursday evenings and then had Friday off. I set or tied my conference record when I spoke with the parents of 5 of my students - that's 5 out of 330 possible students. No one wants to talk to their child's media teacher unless their child is failing!

I was supposed to have my taxes done on my day off but my tax preparer had a family emergency and rescheduled for Monday after school. So, instead, I met with the realtor who will be listing my house for a first consultation. She did a quick walk-through and took some notes. We'll meet for longer this coming Wednesday evening. Also on tap for this week after school is a dentist's appointment for my semi-annual cleaning.

I used my extra time this weekend to go through my bedroom drawers and closet to sort out things to donate. I brought three grocery bags of stuff to the Salvation Army on Friday afternoon and have three more that I'll be dropping off on Monday. I'm paring down the wardrobe of clothes I haven't worn for a year but still have more paring down to do. I don't think I need 25 fleece cardigans of various colors and patterns but I couldn't decided which ones I did want to keep.

We are supposed to have a snowstorm rolling in Sunday afternoon that will last into Monday. I hope I can make it into town for my tax appointment Monday afternoon. I also hope that school isn't cancelled. A cancellation Monday will likely mean that we will be working Easter Monday instead of having it off as it is on the current schedule.
Read Last Week
Blood Rose Rebellion by Rosalyn Eves was an excellent historical fantasy. My review will be posted on March 22.

Pretty Fierce by Kieran Scott was also excellent. This romantic thriller has very nuanced characters and non-stop action. My review will be posted on April 1.

Journey Across the Hidden Islands by Sarah Beth Durst made me three for three on excellent books. This middle grade fantasy starred twin sisters and their flying, talking lion on a journey to renew promises to the dragon who keeps their islands safe. It was filled with action and had lots of thought-provoking parts about the power of story. My review will be posted on April 5.

Currently
Duels & Deception by Cindy Anstey is next on my review stack. This one will be released on April 11.

Next Week
Two more from my review stack:
Reviews Posted
Want to See What I Added to My Stack Last Week?
You can check Inside of a Dog (my other blog) to see what adult books I read, reviewed, and plan to read.