Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Waiting on Wednesday #222 - Hidden Oracle & Dream On

"Waiting On Wednesday" is a weekly event, hosted by Breaking the Spine, that spotlights upcoming releases that we're eagerly anticipating. Be sure to post a link to your Waiting on Wednesday below!

This week's pre-publication "We can't wait to read it!" selections are...

Author: Rick Riordan 
Release Date: May 3, 2016 
Published by: Disney-Hyperion 

How do you punish an immortal?

By making him human.

After angering his father Zeus, the god Apollo is cast down from Olympus. Weak and disoriented, he lands in New York City as a regular teenage boy. Now, without his godly powers, the four-thousand-year-old deity must learn to survive in the modern world until he can somehow find a way to regain Zues's favour.

But Apollo has many enemies - gods, monsters and mortals who would love to see the former Olympian permanently destroyed. Apollo needs help, and he can think of only one place to go...an enclave of modern demigods known as Camp Half-blood. (Summary from Goodreads)

Yes! Another Riordan adventure! I'm in! :)

(Silver, Book 2)
Author: Kerstin Gier 
Release Date: May 3, 2016 
Published by: Henry Holt and Co. 

Things seem to be going well for Liv Silver: she's adjusting to her new home (and her new family) in London; she has a burgeoning romance with Henry Harper, one of the cutest boys in school; and the girl who's been turning her dreams into nightmares, Anabel, is now locked up. But serenity doesn't last for long.

It seems that Liv's troubles are far from over -- in fact, suddenly they're piling up. School gossip blogger Secrecy knows all of Liv's most intimate secrets, Henry might be hiding something from her, and at night Liv senses a dark presence following her through the corridors of the dream world. Does someone have a score to settle with Liv?  (Summary from Goodreads)

I hope this 2nd book is filled with just as many twists and turns as the 1st one!

Check out my review of Book 1:
Dream a Little Dream 

What are you waiting on this week?

Monday, April 25, 2016

Review: Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children

Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children 
Author: Ransom Riggs
Series: Miss Peregrine's Peculiar Children, Book 1 
Release date: June 7, 2011 
Pubished by: Quirk Books 
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

Jacob is trying to figure out what is really going on after his grandfather is killed in a violent struggle which everyone else says was animals. The problem is that Jacob disagrees because he saw the terrible thing his grandfather was ranting about too...or is he going crazy now too?

My thoughts: I've put off writing this for over 2 months now. I sadly didn't think much of this one. My middle school students, and a few teachers, have been telling me I need to read this series for years now. I have always found the covers very creepy and was unwilling to make the plunge just based on that. When this book came up as a suggestion for our Book Club, we jumped on it because most of us either owned it and had not read it yet, or had also heard that they should read it from students and staff. I made sure to read the whole book, hoping I might change my opinion along the way but it never became more then "meh" for me. I certainly didn't hate it, but a did not like it either sadly.

The basic idea for the book of using these fascinating old photographs to build a story from is a fantastic idea that I used on a much smaller scale back in my English Teacher days by putting one photograph up for students to free-journal about at the beginning of class to "get the brain flowing". Working from a picture was one of their favorite ones for journaling and made for fun reading later for me as well. 

Jacob was a well written character, as were many in the book, but I never could connect with him or with any other character either. The entire thing felt so incredibly already done. It's even extremely X-men honestly when you think about it. 

I am still glad that so many love these and have recommended them to their friends, and I will continue to recommend it as a read-alike to many others when patrons are looking for a book like this...but I will not be reading any farther in this series. I am very glad that I took the time to try it though because I always try to read the "hot book" when they suddenly become incredibly popular. This time I will just remain in the minority on this one. Oh well. :/

Final thoughts: Even though this book wasn't in my wheel-house, Tim Burton's movies almost always are which means I cannot wait for this movie!! Check out the trailer:
It's gorgeous! 

View all my reviews

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Waiting on Wednesday #221 - The Art of Not Breathing & Star-touched Queen

"Waiting On Wednesday" is a weekly event, hosted by Breaking the Spine, that spotlights upcoming releases that we're eagerly anticipating. Be sure to post a link to your Waiting on Wednesday below!

This week's pre-publication "We can't wait to read it!" selections are...

Author: Sarah Alexander 
Release Date: April 26, 2016 
Published by: HMH Books for Young Readers 

Since her twin brother, Eddie, drowned five years ago, sixteen-year-old Elsie Main has tried to remember what really happened that fateful day on the beach. One minute Eddie was there, and the next he was gone. Seventeen-year-old Tay McKenzie is a cute and mysterious boy that Elsie meets in her favorite boathouse hangout. When Tay introduces Elsie to the world of freediving, she vows to find the answers she seeks at the bottom of the sea. (Summary from Goodreads)

This one sounds like a heart-tugger of a book with a bit of a mystery as Elsie works through her grief.

Author: Roshani Chokshi 
Release Date: April 26, 2016
Published by: St. Martin's Griffin

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

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

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

Doesn't this sound great!? Plus that cover is gorgeous! Have you read it?

What are you waiting on this week?

Review: Tell the Wind and Fire

Tell the Wind and Fire 
Author: Sarah Rees Brennan
Release date: April 5, 2016
Published by: Clarion Books/HoughtonMifflin
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

Light and Dark divide this city where Lucie has done the impossible: she has pulled herself out of the Dark and into the Light. She has even found celebrity status next to the most powerful people of the Light, but when her golden boyfriend is pulled from a train and almost killed for crimes against the Light will everything she's built fall apart?

My thoughts: This was really just "ok" for me. I didn't like or love it, and I didn't hate it. This was my first Sarah Rees Brennan book. I found this to be a very imaginative story of a broken place with many broken people. I wish there had been a tagline on the front that made me realize that it was a twist/retelling of the tragic A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens. Having learned that afterwards, I do feel as though I have a better appreciation of the novel and what she was doing with it. Plus, it will make for a good one to entice both English teachers and their students with because of this fact.

The main character of Lucie had an ulterior motive for every single thing she did, and every single element of her life. She tells you over and over that everything she has done and feels for Ethan has been real and truthful, but she also never tells him the complete truth about so many things. Omission can be so incredibly powerful. I also found Lucie to be incredibly motivated by fear throughout the story which was hard to deal with for the entire book. There was never hope. 

Ethan is interesting in that he is the son of one of the most powerful people of the Light, but also someone without any magic at all. It seems from the beginning that Lucie is constantly trying to save him, or protect him from something or someone. This was an interesting twist on our "normal" storylines where the man is the strong and solid one that the woman leans on for answers and security. 

The bad guys were the typical power-hungry crew of men and women of whom there was one big, bad guy at the top who was really calling all the shots. Later, you begin to wonder if they were really that bad, or if the new bad guys are the really bad people. There just so much evil and corruption throughout all of their cities that you do not see goodness much, and certainly not hope. 

Final thoughts: Stick with it, and finish this one because it is worth the read especially if you have, or are planning to, read A Tale of Two Cities. I found that looking back on the read I find myself appreciating things I didn't while reading. There are many things that would be great to argue about at a book club too. I'm sure there are other merits I just missed unfortunately. If you had a really positive experience with this one, I'd love to hear about it. 

View all my reviews

Tuesday, April 12, 2016

Waiting on Wednesday #220 - Love, Lies and Spies & Ruined

"Waiting On Wednesday" is a weekly event, hosted by Breaking the Spine, that spotlights upcoming releases that we're eagerly anticipating. Be sure to post a link to your Waiting on Wednesday below!

This week's pre-publication "We can't wait to read it!" selections are...

Author: Cindy Anstey 
Release Date: April 19, 2016 
Published by: Swoon Reads 

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

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

Oh my! This sounds amusing and like an all around fun read. I want it.

(Ruined, Book 1)
Author: Amy Tintera 
Release Date: May 3, 2016 
Published by: HarperTeen 

Emelina Flores has nothing. Her home in Ruina has been ravaged by war. She lacks the powers of her fellow Ruined. Worst of all, she witnessed her parents' brutal murders and watched helplessly as her sister, Olivia, was kidnapped.

But because Em has nothing, she has nothing to lose. Driven by a blind desire for revenge, Em sets off on a dangerous journey to the enemy kingdom of Lera. Somewhere within Lera's borders, Em hopes to find Olivia. But in order to find her, Em must infiltrate the royal family.

In a brilliant, elaborate plan of deception and murder, Em marries Prince Casimir, next in line to take Lera's throne. If anyone in Lera discovers Em is not Casimir's true betrothed, Em will be executed on the spot. But it's the only way to salvage Em's kingdom and what is left of her family.

Em is determined to succeed, but the closer she gets to the prince, the more she questions her mission. Em's rage-filled heart begins to soften. But with her life--and her family--on the line, love could be Em's deadliest mistake. (Summary from Goodreads)

This sounds so good! I'm in! 

What are you waiting on this week?

Monday, April 11, 2016

Review: Inquisition

The Inquisition 
Author: Taran Matharu
Series: Summoner, Book 2
Release date: May 10, 2016
Published by: Feiwel & Friends/MacKids
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This time Fletcher is stuck in jail waiting to get his day in court. Will he have a future? That is seriously questionable with the people who are running things wanting him to suffer as much as possible. Then when the king announces an extremely dangerous mission which will send many of the newest graduates deep into Orc territory...while the empire watches LIVE. The winning fortune of gold motivates the young raiders on their way to glory. Will any make it out alive? Will elves, men and dwarves find peace as allies finally? Or will war spill over into the the empire at last from the Orcs and from within?

My thoughts: LOVED THIS!!! This was just as good as the first book. I always worry about this going into the next book in a series because the second book in a trilogy is typically slower leaving you struggling to get through it I find. I am VERY happy to say that this 2nd book was nothing like that! It was full of drama and adventure.

The book opens with Fletcher in Pelt's jail for his "attack" on his nemesis. Of course, WE as readers who were "there" when Fletcher first summoned Ignatius to him know that in fact they were defending themselves against a heinous attack against them from those people who he has been accused of attacking. Thank goodness he has Ignatius to keep him company throughout his imprisonment or he would have been incredibly broken by the time he gets his day in court. 

Fletcher and Ignatius are just as we remember from book 1. Their relationship still makes you smile. Matharu continued with the wonderful closeness that they created and we continue to get to see them watch each other's back in this installment. 

Fletcher's friends are just as we remember them, and extremely loyal and courageous which makes them so fantastic. They almost make me think of how Harry Potter becomes friends with elves and dwarves even though that is also not acceptable by most. Maybe that's what makes these feel so fulfilling when I read them. 

Boy are the bad guys bad in these books. They are the type of evil that the really bad bullies are born from; the kind who are bullies until the day they die. Matharu has created and continued characters who are just bad at an evil level, which makes for so much spine-tingling drama. 

Final thoughts: There are so many twists and turns that I was not expecting in this, which made for a fantastic read filled with both drama and adventure. If you haven't tried boook 1 I'm not sure what you're waiting for because these are "read it in one night/day" good! I cannot wait to get it on my own shelves AND on the library shelves! I already have kids asking me "when that 2nd one is coming"! ;)

Check out my review of Book 1:

View all my reviews

Tuesday, April 5, 2016

Waiting on Wednesday #219 - Scarlett Epstein Hates It Here & Inquisition

"Waiting On Wednesday" is a weekly event, hosted by Breaking the Spine, that spotlights upcoming releases that we're eagerly anticipating. Be sure to post a link to your Waiting on Wednesday below!

This week's pre-publication "We can't wait to read it!" selections are...

Author: Anna Breslaw 
Release Date: April 19, 2016 
Published by: Razorbill 

Meet Scarlett Epstein, BNF (Big Name Fan) in her online community of fanfiction writers, world-class nobody at Melville High. Her best (read: only) IRL friends are Avery, a painfully shy and annoyingly attractive bookworm, and Ruth, her pot-smoking, possibly insane seventy-three-year-old neighbor.

When Scarlett's beloved TV show is canceled and her longtime crush, Gideon, is sucked out of her orbit and into the dark and distant world of Populars, Scarlett turns to the fanfic message boards for comfort. This time, though, her subjects aren't the swoon-worthy stars of her fave series--they're the real-life kids from her high school. Scarlett never considers what might happen if they were to find out what she truly thinks about them...until a dramatic series of events exposes a very different reality than Scarlett''s stories, forever transforming her approach to relationships--both online and off. (Summary from Goodreads)

Okay, the characters in this one sound unique. Just what I like. :)

Author: Taran Matharu 
Release Date: May 10, 2016
Published by: Feiwel & Friends/MacMillan

On trial for a crime he did not commit, Fletcher must face the Inquisition who will decide his future - the process is grueling, lead by those who will do anything to see him suffer and haunted by ghosts from the past with clues to Fletcher's tragic origins.

But Fletcher has little time to dwell on these new revelations when the king announces a deadly challenge to the graduating students at Vocans. One that involves entering Orc territory to complete a risky mission. With loyal demons by their sides, commoners and nobles, dwarves and elves must overcome barriers of class and race and work together to triumph. The reward: a fortune in gold, the safety of an empire and PEACE.

With the entire empire watching, Fletcher has much to prove, but there are those out to get him and it soon becomes clear that there's a traitor in their midst, trying to thwart the mission and create unrest within the Empire.

With everything stacked against him, Fletcher must use everything in his power to fight his was to victory. (Summary from Goodreads)

I actually can't wait to buy this for our high school library! I already read this one weeks ago thanks the Mac & NetGalley and it was AWESOME! Just like book 1!

Check out my review of book 1:
The Novice 

What are you waiting on this week?

Monday, April 4, 2016

Reviews: Flunked and Charmed

Author: Jen Calonita
Series: Fairy Tale Reform School, Book 1
Release date: March 3, 2015
Published by: Sourcebooks
Stars: 5 of 5

In book one, Gilly is a thief and that's how she finds herself at Fairy Tale Reform School in the first place. She was caught red-handed for stealing a bag of fresh rolls and for lifting a hair clip for her home. 

At the Fairy Tale Reform School, Gilly makes a few new friends: a fairy named Kyla; and a mysterious boy named Jax. Together they are hopping to find and stop a witch.

My thoughts on Book 1: I really enjoyed the book. I would recommend this book to other people who enjoy different twists to fairy tales. 

Author: Jen Calonita
Series: Fairy Tale Reform School, Book 1
Release date: March 2016
Published by: Sourcebooks
Stars: 5 of 5

In book two, there is a new teacher who shows up to take the place of the former step-mother of Snow White. 

It takes a thief to catch a spy, and Enchantasia's pickpocket wants to stay locked up at Fairy Tale Reform School. Gilly and her friends may have defeated the Evil Queen and become the heroes, but the battle for Enchantasia has just begun. 

In the end, after going home she misses the Fairy Tale Reform School and is willing to do anything to get back in. 

My thoughts on Book 2: I really liked how we got to know about the evil step-parents even after they were banished from their kingdoms. Usually we only get to know that they were banished at the end of a story. We also get to learn all about how Cinderella, Sleeping Beauty and Snow White actually really appreciate their step-parents. 

The reason that I decided to give both of these books 5 gold stars is because I have always been interested in fairy tale books. These were amazing. I NEED MORE TWISTED FAIRY TALES!! 

Friday, April 1, 2016

Review: The Forbidden Orchid

The Forbidden Orchid 
Author: Sharon Biggs Waller
Release date: March 8, 2016
Published by: Viking
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Elodie Buchanan is the oldest in a family of 10 girls living in a time when there really were no rights at all for women. Elodie and her sisters have been encouraged to read as much as possible, but even that is highly looked down upon by most of society. Ladies should be most concerned with a household, their purity and finding a husband so they can begin raising children as soon as possible. When Elodie's plant hunting adventurer of a father becomes even more estranged from their family after some drama in China, she begins to not only take on even more responsibility in the house because her mother cannot but to also question many things in society. Once she decides to step out her door and take matters into her own hands to save her family, her world will forever be changed. The question is: will it be for good? or bad?

My thoughts: This was a slow starter for me. Once I convinced myself to stick with it and finish it, I was able to get to more interesting parts that appealed to me more. It's not that it wasn't good, or I wouldn't have given it a 4! It was very good. I had a very hard time connecting with the main character of Elodie. She was so weak, quiet and frustrating to me...of course that all changed as she grew and grew in personality and daring...

Elodie was so darn good based on what a young lady of that time was supposed to be, and apparently I must be almost at the other end of the spectrum because I really struggled to like her for oh so many pages. Here's the thing though, she finds so much bravery within herself because of the tragic issues around her that she has to deal with (or choses to deal with) that she grows into someone I would want as a friend. It's an incredible amount of growth that might seem unbelievable to you reading this, but the way that Waller spins her tale makes it believable. 

The parents in this are both so broken! That was something that I really struggled with as well, but I'm sure that we are supposed to as readers. There have been repeated dramas and atrocities enacted upon them throughout the story. The best part is that in the end we are left with so much hope and happiness which is something I was very worried about while reading. Taking these characters through all of these, and still being able to create this happiness and hope was something that fascinated me. 

The guy she meets is adorable and so good even though he's had a craptastic life mostly. That's was so interesting was how Elodie was surrounded by so many who had such tough lives and was still able to find that they were good people. The lesson in this that I'm taking away, and would strongly agree with, is that those who have had to endure so much in life are made stronger and better people then those who float through a perfect life. 

The bad guys were so darn creepy and/or bad in this too! They were obviously well written. That goes for the more minor characters of the sisters and others. You just need to give this one a try! You might be very surprise. 

Favorite part: That there were so many "based on actual events" parts to this book! I knew many of them, but others I didn't and being able to read the non-fiction details at the end was fantastic!! It also made me interested in reading a couple non-fiction books we have in our library now about plant hunters and plants...

What did you think of this one? 

View all my reviews