August 27, 2013

ARC August Update #4

It was another great week for ARC August. 
I finished 6 review copies
(2 regular length novels,1 audiobook, 1 novel in verse, and 2 novellas.)

August 19, 2013

ARC August Update #3

This week I finished 2 ARCs. 

And I started this one on Sunday night! 

It's Bout of Books 8.0 week, so I hope to get through 3 or more ARCs during the readathon. 

Bout of Books 8.0

Bout of Books

It's time for another Bout of Books Read-a-thon!
Rather than making a goal for number of pages or books read, my goal is to read for a certain amount of time each day:

Read 2 hours a day
Listen to 2 hours of audiobooks a day

Day 1 Progress:
Read 2 hours (Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell)
Listened to 2 hours of audio (Beautiful Redemption by Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl)
No books finished

Day 2 Progress: 
Read 2 hours (Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell)
Listened to 1.5 hours of audio (Beautiful Redemption by Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl; Little Women by Louisa May Alcott)
No books finished--but I am close to the end of 2!

Day 3 Progress: 
Read 2 hours (Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell, Hideous Love by Stephanie Hemphill)
Listened to 2 hours of audio (Beautiful Redemption by Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl; Little Women by Louisa May Alcott; Code Name Verity by Elizabeth Wein)

Books finished: Beautiful Redemption by Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl; Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell

Day 4 Progress:
Read 1 hour (Hideous Love by Stephanie Hemphill)
Listened to 1 hour of audio (Code Name Verity by Elizabeth Wein)
Books finished: Hideous Love by Stephanie Hemphill

Day 5 Progress:
I had the day off! Read 5 hours (Honeymoon in Paris by JoJo Moyes, Double Crossed by Ally Carter, Friends with Boys by Faith Erin Hicks, The Infinite Moment of Us by Lauren Myracle)

Books finished: Honeymoon in Paris by JoJo Moyes, Double Crossed by Ally Carter, Friends with Boys by Faith Erin Hicks

Day 6 Progress:
Read 2 hours (The Infinite Moment of Us by Lauren Myracle)
Books finished: The Infinite Moment of Us by Lauren Myracle

Day 7 Progress:
Read 1 hour (Hopeless by Colleen Hoover)
Listened to 3 hours of audio (This Is W.A.R. by Lisa Roecker and Laura Roecker)
Books finished: none

August 17, 2013

Crown of Midnight by Sarah J. Maas

I received a review copy from the publisher via NetGalley. 

**Spoiler warning**

Description: An assassin’s loyalties are always in doubt. But her heart never wavers.

After a year of hard labor in the Salt Mines of Endovier, eighteen-year-old assassin Celaena Sardothien has won the king's contest to become the new royal assassin. Yet Celaena is far from loyal to the crown – a secret she hides from even her most intimate confidantes.

Keeping up the deadly charade—while pretending to do the king's bidding—will test her in frightening new ways, especially when she's given a task that could jeopardize everything she's come to care for. And there are far more dangerous forces gathering on the horizon -- forces that threaten to destroy her entire world, and will surely force Celaena to make a choice. 

Where do the assassin’s loyalties lie, and who is she most willing to fight for?

My Review: I loved Throne of Glass, but Crown of Midnight is even better. "WOW!" is all I could think after I finished. (I'm still trying to formulate coherent thoughts, but I'll do the best I can to write this review.) 

The characters are so vivid and real and awesome. Just don't get too attached to any characters in particular because Maas is not afraid to kill off characters we love! I guess you have to expect a certain amount of bloodshed in a book revolving around an assassin, you know? 

The world building is really well done. In this book, we learn a lot more about the history of magic in the kingdom and the secrets that Celaena has discovered. (Some of the questions I had from the previous book were answered.) We also get a lot more information about Celaena's own background, including a HUGE reveal at the end that totally surprised me. What an ending! Can we have the next book NOW, please?!

I love that this fantasy novel has elements of action, mystery, and romance intertwined. While there are two potential love interests, Caleana makes her choice and sticks with it. Their relationship is definitely up and down like a rollercoaster, but there are happy times to read about in the midst of all the loss and tragedy. 

Maybe it's because I've been listening to this new song by The Civil Wars on repeat when I'm not reading, but the lyrics remind me of Calaena and her lover, especially the second verse and chorus: 

So basically, you need to drop whatever you're reading and start this series now so that you're ready to read Crown of Midnight when it releases on August 27. You'll be glad you did! 

August 16, 2013

Open Mic: Riffs on Life Between Cultures in Ten Voices, edited by Mitali Perkins

I received a review copy from the publisher via NetGalley. 

Description: Using humor as the common denominator, a multicultural cast of YA authors steps up to the mic to share stories touching on race. Listen in as ten YA authors -- some familiar, some new -- use their own brand of humor to share their stories about growing up between cultures. Henry Choi Lee discovers that pretending to be a tai chi master or a sought-after wiz at math wins him friends for a while -- until it comically backfires. A biracial girl is amused when her dad clears seats for his family on a crowded subway in under a minute flat, simply by sitting quietly in between two uptight white women. Edited by acclaimed author and speaker Mitali Perkins, this collection of fiction and nonfiction uses a mix of styles as diverse as their authors, from laugh-out-loud funny to wry, ironic, or poignant, in prose, poetry, and comic form.

My Review: Open Mic is a quick, humorous read in which ten different authors share how their cultural identity shaped their experiences growing up. It gives readers a chance to walk in someone else's shoes for a while and learn what it's like to grow up in a different culture.  I enjoyed every piece, and I appreciated how several different formats were used to tell their stories. I tried to pick a favorite selection, but I think they were all fairly well-written and entertaining. I wish it had been longer and included even more voices! This would be a great addition to a K-12 school library or a public library YA collection.

August 15, 2013

A Really Awesome Mess by Trish Cook and Brendan Halpin

 I received a review copy from the publisher via NetGalley. 

Description: Two teenagers. Two very bumpy roads taken that lead to Heartland Academy.

Justin was just having fun, but when his dad walked in on him with a girl in a very compromising position, Justin's summer took a quick turn for the worse. His parents' divorce put Justin on rocky mental ground, and after a handful of Tylenol lands him in the hospital, he has really hit rock bottom.

Emmy never felt like part of her family. She was adopted from China. Her parents and sister tower over her and look like they came out of a Ralph Lauren catalog-- and Emmy definitely doesn't. After a scandalous photo of Emmy leads to vicious rumors around school, she threatens the boy who started it all on Facebook.

Justin and Emmy arrive at Heartland Academy, a reform school that will force them to deal with their issues, damaged souls with little patience for authority. But along the way they will find a ragtag group of teens who are just as broken, stubborn, and full of sarcasm as themselves. In the end, they might even call each other friends. A funny, sad, and remarkable story, A Really Awesome Mess is a journey of friendship and self-discovery that teen readers will surely sign up for.

My Review: I'm always nervous about stories with alternate narrators because sometimes you can't really distinguish between the characters. However, that was not the case here. Emmy (love that name!) and Justin  have unique voices and they both acted like real teenagers. 

The extended cast of characters was an interesting bunch, and all the teens at Heartland came to life as we got to know more about their backstories. I appreciated the bonds that they formed and the ways that they worked together to help one another overcome their problems. 

Personally, I had a few issues with the way that eating disorders were portrayed, and I felt like the romantic relationship was unnecessary to the story as I was far more interested in Emmy's relationships with her family members. Overall, though,  I was entertained by this book and ending up laughing quite a few times and rooting for the characters to work out their issues. I think teens will like it! 

August 14, 2013

Forgive Me, Leonard Peacock by Matthew Quick

I received a review copy from the publisher via NetGalley.

Description:In addition to the P-38, there are four gifts, one for each of my friends. I want to say good-bye to them properly. I want to give them each something to remember me by. To let them know I really cared about them and I'm sorry I couldn't be more than I was—that I couldn't stick around—and that what's going to happen today isn't their fault.

Today is Leonard Peacock's birthday. It is also the day he hides a gun in his backpack. Because today is the day he will kill his former best friend, and then himself, with his grandfather's P-38 pistol.

But first he must say good-bye to the four people who matter most to him: his Humphrey Bogart-obsessed next-door neighbor, Walt; his classmate Baback, a violin virtuoso; Lauren, the Christian homeschooler he has a crush on; and Herr Silverman, who teaches the high school's class on the Holocaust. Speaking to each in turn, Leonard slowly reveals his secrets as the hours tick by and the moment of truth approaches.

In this riveting book, acclaimed author Matthew Quick unflinchingly examines the impossible choices that must be made—and the light in us all that never goes out.

My Review: WOW. That was my immediate reaction after finishing this novel! It was so gripping, thought-provoking, and real. It was an intense and suspenseful read, and the pages flew by as I just had to know what would happen next. I wanted to know what Asher did in order to make Leonard feel that he had no choice but to kill him. And I was on the edge of my seat hoping that someone would interfere or something would make Leonard change his mind so that he wouldn't follow through with his sinister plans. I didn't think I would ever sympathize with a character like Leonard, but I totally did. And Herr Silverman...what an amazing character! 

The format of the story was unique, incorporating footnotes, poetry, and letters from the future. . 

I feel like I'm going to start gushing if I try to write any more, and I'm not sure I can really put my thoughts into words without spoiling the story too much. So I'll leave you with a quote from a really awesome review of this book by Sarah from Forever Young Adult (posted on Kirkus Reviews): 

"Pro-tip: Never, ever play Paper Rock Scissors with Matthew Quick. Because he will always win with paper. You could have the sharpest pair of finger scissors, and dude will come out of nowhere with a piercing page of words and DESTROY YOU." 

August 13, 2013

Hallowed by Cynthia Hand

**Spoilers for Unearthly**

Description: For months Clara Gardner trained to face the fire from her visions, but she wasn't prepared for the choice she had to make that day. And in the aftermath, she discovered that nothing about being part angel is as straightforward as she thought.

Now, torn between her love for Tucker and her complicated feelings about the roles she and Christian seem destined to play in a world that is both dangerous and beautiful, Clara struggles with a shocking revelation: Someone she loves will die in a matter of months. With her future uncertain, the only thing Clara knows for sure is that the fire was just the beginning.

In this compelling sequel to Unearthly, Cynthia Hand captures the joy of first love, the anguish of loss, and the confusion of becoming who you are.

My Review: In a way, I'm kind of glad I didn't get around to starting this series when it was originally published. It's really nice to be able to read series books back to back and not have a year or two of waiting time in between! I was excited to be able start Hallowed soon after finishing Unearthly.

Second books in a trilogy can sometimes be disappointing, but Hallowed was great. There were so many
plot twists and reveals that I didn't see coming. The characters showed growth, and the love triangle got even more interesting...I don't have a clear favorite at this point. While there were some dark and emotional moments, there was still quite a bit of the humor that I loved in the first book. I'm really looking forward to Boundless!

Radical Readalong: Hallowed Day 5 Discussion


We've finally made it to the last section! As soon as I saw the Chapter 17 title ("The Part Where I Kiss You"), I thought "Uh, comes trouble." I mean, I've always liked Christian and even preferred him over Tucker in the last book, but now things are much more complicated and I feel conflicted about Clara kissing him.

All the stuff with her mom made me tear up.

"Mom, are you ever going to tell me about your purpose?"
She pulls back, looks at me thoughtfully. "My purpose is you." - page 239

Speaking of purpose...apparently it was Jeffrey's purpose to start the fire. And now we finally know what he's been hiding all this time. 

The last chapter was so emotional--her last kiss with Tucker and then her dad taking her to where she can see her mom. Ahh! So many feelings. 

I think I'm going to have to pick up Boundless at the library today and maybe buy the short story Radiant for my Kindle too!

August 12, 2013

ARC August Update #2

I had another great week of reading! I finished 4 ARCs

  The Tao of Martha: My Year of LIVING; 
Or, Why I'm Never Getting All That Glitter Off of the Dog 
by Jen Lancaster

Open Mic: Riffs on Life Between Cultures in Ten Voices 
edited by Mitali Perkins

Confessions of a Bad Teacher: The Shocking Truth from the Front Lines of American Public Education 
by John Owens

  A Really Awesome Mess by Trish Cook and Brendan Halpin

So that brings my August total up to 7 ARCs read so far. I have posted or scheduled reviews for all the them. Let's hope I can keep up my motivation and continue to read and review 3 or 4 a week! The Bout of Books 8.0 Readathon, is coming up, and I will try to focus on ARCs mostly.

Radical Readalong: Hallowed Discussion Day 4

**Spoilers up to Chapter 16**

Prom was definitely interesting...Christian and Tucker argued with one another until Clara stepped in and reminded them it was her choice about who she would dance with. 

  "Before I moved here, I never got the whole love-triangle thing. You know, in movies or romance novels or whatnot, where there's one chick that all the guys are drooling over, even though you can't see anything particularly special about her. But oh, no, they both must have her. And she's like, oh dear, however will I choose? William is so sensitive, he understands me, he swept me off my feet, oh misery, blubber, blubber, but how can I go on living without Rafe and his devil-may-care ways and his dark and only-a-little-abusive love? Upchuck. So unrealistic, I always thought. 
  Joke's on me, I guess." - page 167

Clara had to fight off Samjeeza again, and luckily Mr. Phibbs came to assist. Then they had a close call at the school when Samjeeza shows up in the form of a dog and Jeffrey almost takes him home...yikes!

Finally, Clara's mom revealed something she's been keeping from the kids--their dad is an angel. Whoa! Yet another plot twist that I didn't see coming. And that means that Clara and Jeffrey are actually Triplare, three-quarters angel. 

  "It gets quiet while Jeffrey and I try to absorb this news. Triplare. Three-quarter angel. Not Quartarius, after all. And there's something Dad said that burns like a live coal in my mind. 
  More angel than human." - page 205

I can't wait to find out what other plot twists are awaiting us in the final chapters!

August 11, 2013

A Summer of Sundays by Lindsay Eland

I received a review copy from the publisher via NetGalley.

Description: When you're the third of six kids, it's easy to get lost in the shuffle, but Sunday Fowler is determined that this summer she'll find the one thing that makes her stand out from her siblings. 

And when she discovers a silver box in the basement of the library her parents are renovating, she might just have found something to gain her the attention she so craves. Inside is a series of letters addressed to "The Librarian" and a manuscript. But who wrote them? With the help of annoying neighbor-turned-new-friend Jude, Sunday is determined to track down the author. And when she unveils this novel to the world, she'll be famous!

But uncovering this manuscript means stirring up secrets that some people in the town hoped to keep buried. And Sunday must decide if some things -- loyalty, trust, friendship -- are worth more than her name in the headlines. 

My Review: This was a fun read that I can see middle grade readers really enjoying. I think anyone with siblings can relate to Sunday's feeling of being overlooked. While the family dynamics were a big part of the story, the mystery added another interesting element to it. I loved the idea of finding a hidden manuscript in the basement of the library--how exciting! It was pretty easy to solve the mystery myself before the characters finally figured it out, though. 

Sunday is faced with an ethical dilemma once she realizes what will happen once she reveals the secrets she's discovered. Readers will find themselves wondering how they would react in that situation. 

A Summer of Sundays will appeal to young readers looking for a light mystery with a charming small town setting and a relatable main character. 

Radical Readalong: Hallowed Day 3 Discussion

**Spoilers up to Chapter 12**

Well, I was hoping that it wouldn't end up being Tucker that was supposed to die. But I also didn't want it to be Clara's mom! I didn't see that coming. 

Clara is feeling conflicted about Christian. I wonder what will happen between them. 

"If you want to know what's going on in my head, ask me, " he says. "But I get the distinct impression that you don't want to know." 

"Hey, I want to know everything," I protest, even though that's not completely true. Because I don't want to understand what our future would have been if I hadn't chosen Tucker. I don't want to feel what he always makes me feel: confused, scared, excited, guilty, yearning, aware of myself and everything I feel and he feels, like he has the power to magically switch on my empathy, even when it's true--I don't want to know. I don't want to need him." - page 124

Tucker is starting to notice their connection and is understandably jealous. And now Clara has been accepted to Stanford and could be leaving him behind...I need to read the next 4 chapters right away so I can see how some of these situations will work out!

August 10, 2013

Radical Readalong: Hallowed Discussion Day 2

**Warning: Spoilers up to Chapter 8**

“Three a.m. No possibility of sleep. I’ve been thrashing in my blankets all night, unable to quiet all the crazy thoughts bouncing around in my head. My mother being friends with a fallen angel. College plans. Christian. Purposes that last a hundred years. A flood that kills all the angel-bloods on earth. Angela wanting me to go to Stanford with her. Tucker staying here, always and forever. Ms. Baxter all hopeful and sweet and completely annoying. And somebody dying, let’s not forget. Somebody. And I still have no clue who.” - page 59

There’s got to be a lot more to the story of how Clara’s mom knows Samjeeza...I wonder how long we’ll have to wait to find out all the details?

“So that’s why you keep telling me to relax about the college thing. I don’t have to pick a single career. When you’re going to live hundreds of years, you have time to be everything that interests you.” - page 61

My nerdy self is jealous of the fact that angel bloods can go to school multiple times and try out different careers. I remember how stressed I was about picking a college major and career path! 

Clara is discovering more details each time she has the cemetery dream. Now she thinks it’s Tucker that will die, and it will happen in the spring. Nooooooo! Let’s hope she’s wrong.

I wonder who started the fire that almost killed Tucker? 

I’m glad Midas turned up, finally! What a sweet moment. 

The whole part with the congregation was interesting. I wonder why Christian never told the other members of the angel club about it? And now we've found out that he can sometimes hear people’s thoughts and also send thoughts back to them. Weird!

A to Z Survey

Jamie at The Perpetual Page Turner came up with this creative bookish idea!

A-Z survey 

Author you’ve read the most books from:

Meg Cabot (25 books)

Best Sequel Ever:

Where She Went by Gayle Forman

Currently Reading:

Crown of Midnight by Sarah J. Maas

Drink of Choice While Reading:

Coffee in the morning / Diet Coke in the afternoon / Wine in the evening

E-reader or Physical Book?

Both! I like my Kindle for the convenience, but my hardcovers look pretty on the shelf.

Fictional Character You Probably Would Have Actually Dated In High School:

Eli in Along for the Ride by Sarah Dessen

Glad You Gave This Book A Chance:

Garden Spells by Sarah Addison Allen

Hidden Gem Book:

Ex Libris: Confessions of a Common Reader by Anne Fadiman

Important Moment in your Reading Life:

Taking a Young Adult Literature seminar in graduate school. I already knew I enjoyed reading YA, but this course deepened my appreciation and understanding of it. Plus I got to read tons of great books and call it homework. ;)

Just Finished:

A Really Awesome Mess by Trish Cook and Brendan Halpin

Kinds of Books You Won’t Read:

I’ll read pretty much anything! I am not a big fan of westerns, but I’ve read one for a Readers’ Advisory class and plan to read at least one more for a genre challenge.

Longest Book You’ve Read:

David Copperfield by Charles Dickens (974 pages)

Major book hangover because of:

Daughter of Smoke and Bone by Laini Taylor

Number of Bookcases You Own:

We have 3: 2 for me and 1 for my husband.

One Book You Have Read Multiple Times:

Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone by J.K. Rowling. I’ve read it 3 times now, but I’m sure I’ll read it again many more times!

Preferred Place To Read:

On the couch

Quote that inspires you/gives you all the feels from a book you’ve read:

“I play until my fingertips are raw. Until I rip a nail and bleed on the strings. Until my hands hurt so bad I forget my heart does.” - Revolution by Jennifer Donnelly

Reading Regret:

Like Jamie, I also regret not having read Harry Potter when it came out. (But on the plus side, it was great to be able to read all the books in the series with no waiting!)

Series You Started And Need To Finish(all books are out in series):

I’m working on the Unearthly trilogy by Cynthia Hand right now.

Three of your All-Time Favorite Books:

To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee, The Secret Life of Bees by Sue Monk Kidd, The Fault in Our Stars by John Green

Unapologetic Fangirl For:

John Green, David Levithan, Meg Cabot

Very Excited For This Release More Than All The Others:

Isla and the Happily Ever After by Stephanie Perkins

Worst Bookish Habit:

Reading several books at the same time. I always start new books before I finish the ones I’m currently reading. Right now I have 2 audiobooks and 2 eBooks going.

X Marks The Spot: Start at the top left of your shelf and pick the 27th book:

The Diviners by Libba Bray

Your latest book purchase:

When I Found You by Catherine Ryan Hyde

ZZZ-snatcher book (last book that kept you up WAY late):

The Sea of Tranquility by Katja Millay


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