Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Graceling (This is really happening!)

Author: Kristin Cashore
Info: Harcourt, copyright 2008, 471 pages

Katsa has been able to kill man with her bare hands since she was eight - she a Graveling, one of the rare people in he land born with an extreme skill.  As niece of the king, she should be able to live a life of privilege, but Graced as she is with killing, she is forced to work as the king's thug.

When she first meets Prince Po, Graced with combat skills, Katsa has no hint of how her life is about to change.

She never expects to become Po's friend.

She never expects to learn a new truth about her own Grace - or about a terrible secret that lies hidden far away...

~Goodreads Description~

I felt it was only fitting that I close out 2014 with this here book review.  It has been a very, very long time coming.  It has been on my list of reading resolutions for the last three years.  It has been checked out, and then checked out again, repeatedly, in an attempt to finish just 471 pages.  It is the end of a very long marathon.  And I am making this way more dramatic than it is...but it's done.  I have finished Graceling by Kristin Cashore.

Katsa is a fierce warrior.  And she's stubborn.  Oh so stubborn.  Born with powers that make her dangerous, Katsa is tired of being used as a weapon, as a blunt object.  She wants to take her destiny into her own hands and offer her special gift for good.  But her Uncle has other plans.  He doesn't, however, expect her to meet and befriend Prince Po, a Lienid with Graces of his own, and the unique ability to whittle away at the shell that protects Katsa from herself.

The book was a bit more "lovey" than I expected.  I especially enjoyed the borderline ridiculous inner -arguement when atlas is deciding whether or not to make Po her "lover."  It's kind of making me laugh now just thinking about it.  I do, however, really enjoy fictional females who can take care of themselves, and fictional males who let them.  This book definitely fit that bill.  The most interesting character by far, however, was Bitterblue, a young princess who was a fighter more determined than anyone with a Grace.  She survives when she shouldn't.  She perseveres when you expect her to melt into a puddle.  And she is a force to be reckoned with in the latter portion of the book.

While I have no driving need to continue on in the story, I do kind of wonder what becomes of Bitterblue in the end.  Maybe one day.  But probably not 2015.

Goodbye Graceling.  I can now recommend you with confidence (and I do!), but I can also say goodbye and look for my new reading white whale.

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Top 10 Reading Goals for 2015

Top Ten Reading Goals for 2015
(Feature hosted by The Broke and the Bookish)

I'm not really big into New Year's resolutions.  Life just never plays out the way I want it to (this coming from the girl who planned out all her vacation days in January of 2014, but is now about to lose a whole week and carry one over :)  Stuff happens, so I just try to do my best every day and roll with the punches.

But reading goals are different.  They keep me focused.  And I'm just a total nerd.  TOTAL nerd.  SO book goals mean lists, and spreadsheets, and reviews, and this here blog...and I'm getting excited just think about it.  So if you will indulge me some as I spazz out a bit, here are my reading goals for 2015.

1) Read 20 adult books.  This is HUGE people.  I only read two in 2014.  A bit of a leap and a dream, but I've already got my list of to-reads going, and if I schedule accordingly, I think I can make it happen.

2) Read a work of Russian literature.  (Which is also two birds with one stone :) I think I've settled on Crime and Punishment.  We'll see how it goes.

3) Listen to 15 audiobooks.  (If you notice, I can pull double duty on a lot of these goals.  That is called "strategery.")

4) Read 5 nonfiction books.  Made it through one in the final days of 2014.

5) Read all of the books on the TBR winter/spring/summer/fall lists I create.  Kind of super bad at this.  Oh the distraction of shiny new books coming in to the library.

6) Read at least 1 hour a day.  While binging is fun, it wears me out.  Slow and steady wins the race.

7) Read at least 125 books.  Keeping the goal the same as 2014.  I just conquered in 2013 and fell just short in 2014, so it feels like a comfortable number.

8) Visit 5 new libraries.  Because that's a cool thing to do.  Don't roll your eyes at me.

9) Read at least 10 picture books.  Reading widely is the game for that has to include the joy of pictures and books.

10) Update my blog, Goodreads account , and awesome spreadsheet for every book I read.

So there it is.  My reading goals for 2015.  Wish me luck!

What's on your list of resolutions/goals for 2015?

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Merry Christmas

Fear not: for, behold, 
I bring you good tidings of great joy,
which shall be to all people.
For unto you is born this day in the city of David
a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord.
~Luke 2:10

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

My Reading Year

So I kept triple track of what I read this year.  There was this here blog, of course.  Goodreads, because you can never have too many Goodreads lists going.  And a Google Doc spreadsheet because I'm just that kind of girl :)

And here's my reading year by the 2014 goals and the numbers:

My 2014 reading goals were...

1) Reads at least 125 books.  As it stands right this moment, I've completed 108.  So a sort of fail...

2) Read one adult book each month.  FAIL.  Uber fail.  Gotta try a little harder next year on that one.  Maybe I'll have to make a reading calendar to go along with all of my lists :)

3) Read four nonfiction books.  FAIL.  One snuck in there :)

4) Listen to five audiobooks.  SUCCESS!!!  Who listened to 13 audiobooks?  This girl!  Please excuse me as I high-five myself!

5) Finally visit and explore my local comic book store.  SUCCESS!  And I visit often.

6) Participate in World Book Night.  FAIL.  Life.  Geez.

7) Complete one graphic novel/manga series each month.  FAIL.  But I read a lot, so I'm not feeling guilty.

8)  Update my blog and Goodreads account for every book I read.  SUCCESS!

9) Attempt, once again, not to feel guilt for not reading every new book that comes into the library.  FAIL.  Professional hazard.

10) Finish Graceling.  SUCCESS!!!!!!!!!!!  It only took me 3 years and 14 checkouts.  Who cares about the rest of the goals?  I conquered my white whale!

So a year by the numbers...

13 Audiobooks
3 eBooks
27 Graphic Novels
20 Manga
42 Teen Books
3 Adult Books

Not a bad year :)  There's still a little time left.  Maybe I can sneak a little closer to 125 by the 31st.

How did you do this year?

Monday, December 22, 2014

The Girl Who Chased the Moon

Author: Sarah Addison Allen
Info: Bantam, copyright 2010, 269 pages

Emily Benedict came to Lullaby, North Carolina, hoping to solve at least some of the riddles surrounding her mother's life.  Such as, why did Dulcie Shelby leave her hometown so suddenly?  And why did she vow never to return?  But the moment Emily enters the house where her mother grew up and meets the grandfather she never knew - a reclusive, real-life gentle giant - she realizes that mysteries aren't solved in Lullaby, they're a way of life: Here are room where the wallpaper changes to suit your mood.  Unexplained lights skip across the yard at midnight.  And a neighbor bakes hope int he form of cakes.

Every in Lullaby adores Julia Winterson's cake - which is a good thing, because Julia can't seem to stop baking them.  She offers them to satisfy the town's sweet tooth but also in the hope of rekindling the love she fears might be lost forever.  Flour, eggs, milk, and sugar...Baking is the only language the proud but vulnerable Julia has to communicate what is truly in her heart.  But is it enough to call back to her those she's hurt in the past?

Can a hummingbird cake really bring back a lost love?  Is there really a ghost dancing in Emily's backyard?  The answers are never what you expect.  But in this town of lovable misfits, the unexpected fits right in.

~Goodreads description

I think Sarah Addison Allen is my spirit animal.  Can a person be a spirit animal?  Not only does she consistently write whimsical gems set in the South, but she enjoys pastries and seems to be a hopeless romantic.

The Girl Who Chased the Moon isn't serious literature.  But it's also not quite fluff.  It's magic, and mystery, and hope wrapped up in a delicious, sweet package.  Her characters are thoughtful, a bit insecure, but always dreaming, hoping.  Her secondary characters could use a little attention.  Sometimes they're mentioned in glimpses, but you never get a full idea of who they are.  Her heroines, on the other hand are complicated and wonderful.

Emily takes the loss of her mother well...or as well as a teenager can take losing her only parent.  She is resilient and compassionate, allowing herself to open up to the grandfather she never knew and keeping an open mind toward the town her mother left behind.  And Julia.  Well Julia wants to believe she's independent.  Wants to believe she is a loner, better off and happier alone.  But the pull toward happiness, toward someone or something has led her back to the town she also tried to leave behind.

Mullaby reminded me a little of Stars Hollow.  Everyone seems to know everyone.  The Mayor likes to make himself seen (for some reason I pictured him as Colonel Sanders...not sure why, but it made for a great play in my head :), and there's a diner that everyone likes to visit.  There's tons of Southern hospitality, tasty barbecue, and enough sugar to make you hungry while you're reading.

Like all of Allen's books, I wanted more.  I wanted to live in the story with these characters for just a bit longer.  But she's still got a few on the shelf that I haven't picked up yet, so that will have to do.

Friday, December 19, 2014

This One Summer

Author: Mariko Tamaki
Illustrator: Jillian Tamaki
Info: First Second, copyright 2014, 320 pages

Every summer, Rose goes with her mom and dad to a lake house in Awago Beach.  It's their getaway, their refuge.  Rosie's friend Windy is always there, too, like the little sister she never had.  But this summer is different.  Rose's mom and dad won't stop fighting, and when Rose and Windy seek a distraction from the drama, they find themselves with a whole new set of problems.  It's a summer of secrets and sorrow and growing up, and it's a good thing Rose and Windy have each other.

~Goodreads Description

This one popped up on a few must-read graphic novels of 2014, so I thought I'd give it a whirl.  Sure glad I did.  The thing is, I'm a sucker for stories with summer lake houses.  I'm not sure why, but one day, when I hit the lottery, I'm going to get myself a lake house getaway :)

Hopefully there won't be quite the drama though.  Rose's mother is growing increasingly distant, struggling with fertility and memories of the previous summer at the bakehouse and a great loss.  And her father isn't coping well.  But Rose has Windy, her summer friend who has a cheery, optimistic look on life.  The two young girls become captivated by the lives of the teens living near the lake.  They're growing, maturing, questioning sexuality, starting to fall victim to peer pressure, and the creeping angst that comes with adolescence.

It's a summer of changes and a summer of new beginnings.

I only wish people would just talk more.  Of course, in literature, if people talked to one another there would be no conflict.  And if there's no conflict, there's really no story.  So surprise, one really communicates in this book.

I'm not sure I would call this one of the best of the year, but it's defintely one worth reading.

Thursday, December 18, 2014


Author: Rainbow Rowell
Info: St. Martin's Press, copyright 2014, 310 pages

Georgie McCool knows her marriage is in trouble; it has been for a long time.  She still loves her husband, Neal, and Neal still loves her, deeply - but that almost seems beside the point now.

Maybe that was always beside the point.

Two days before they're supposed to visit Neal's family in Omaha for Christmas, Georgie tells Neal that she can't go.  She's a TV writer, and something's come up on her show; she has to stay in Los Angeles.  She knows that Neal will be upset with her - Neal is always a little upset with Georgie - but she doesn't expect him to pack up the kids and go home without her.

When her husband and the kids leave for the airport, Georgie wonders if she's finally done it.  If she's ruined everything.

That night, Georgie discovers a way to communicate with Neal in the past.  It's not time travel, not exactly, but she feels like she's been given an opportunity to fix her marriage before it starts...

Is that what she's supposed to do?  Or would Georgie and Neal be better off if their marriage never happened?

~Goodreads Description

Oh Rainbow Rowell.  Sweet, talented, romantic Rainbow Rowell.  Some author's are just a joy to read, especially when they're really, really good at what they do.  Rowell's writing is almost poetry.  It's beautiful getting to experience the way she puts words together.

Georgie is a hard working, quick witted, powerhouse of a woman.  She takes what she wants.  She makes plans, dreams big, and goes after the impossible.  She's definitely a force to be reckoned with.

Neal is a bit of a curmudgeon.  He rarely smiles, doesn't laugh, and has an intense way of seeing and feeling everything.

They're opposite, but somehow they work.

The time altering elements reminded me a lot of The Lake House.  Neal is no Keanu Reeves (sigh...)  but the plot element was just enough, not overwhelming and not overdone.  I wanted to give the book 5 stars.  I really, really did, but I just couldn't.  Georgie was a bit whiny at times, understandable so, but whiny starts to grate on my nerves after awhile.

And then there was the relationship woes.  Neal has cause to be mad.  Their lives have revolved around Georgie and her career since the beginning of the relationship.  Neal gives, Georgie takes.  But Neal made me mad as well.  He chose the life he's living.  He could do something, be somebody, but he has chosen not to.  He has chosen not to make a life for himself away from Georgie.  So some of the blame should rest on him and his lack of communication skills.

But they'll be better.  And I like to believe they will in the fictional future that has been playing out in my head for them :)

Read this book.  You'll love it.

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

The Unnaturalists

Author: Tiffany Trent
Info: Simon & Schuster, copyright 2012, 308 pages

In an alternate London where magical creatures are preserved in a museum, two teens find themselves caught in a web of intrigue, deception, and danger.

Vespa Nyx wants nothing more than to spend the rest of her life cataloging Unnatural creatures in her father's museum, but as she gets older, the requirement to become a lady and find a husband is looming large.  Cyrus Reed's Tinker family has always served and revered the Unnaturals from afar, but when his family is captured to be refinery slaves, he finds that his fate may be bound up with Vespa's - and with the Unnaturals.

As the danger grows, Vespa and Syrus find themselves in a tightening web of deception and intrigue. At stake may be the fate of New London - and the world.

~Goodreads Description

I was in a steampunk kind of mood so I went on a hunt in the Teen Room for something whimsical and fun.  Enter the The Unnaturalists by Tiffany Trent.  Not quite as whimsical as I had hoped, but still chalked full of un.

Vespa works at the museum with her father, cataloging ancient artifacts and rummaging through old relics with a history of magic and power.  One day, after almost losing her life to a Sphinx, Vespa meets the mysterious Hal who wields a magic all his own and holds a secret that could very well save her life.

The story jumps between Vespa and Syrus, a young boy who is at one with "nature" (a.k.a. magic) and who has been given the task of finding Vespa to save all creation.  The problem is that the different perspectives have different persons.  It becomes a little jarring switching between I and he over and over again.  Then there's the story which is a little overwhelming.  I like to use my imagination, but there was so much going on in this story, so much story left untold an atmosphere missing that it was difficult to picture anything in my head.

Not sure if I'll read the sequel.  There's a promising love story building, but at the same time, Vespa's a little whiney, so I just don't know. Not a bad read though.  I can definitely see it appealing to folks who love steampunk and a magical adventure.

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Top 10 Books I Read In 2014

Top Ten Books I Read in 2014
(Feature hosted by The Broke and the Bookish)

I can't help thinking that this year didn't quite match up to some of the awesome I read last year.  This isn't to say that there aren't ten books I thoroughly enjoyed, because there, like, more than ten.  But when I compare my lists, I became strangely attached to more last year than this year.  Kind of interesting.

So here goes.  Emily's "Top Ten Books Read in 2014" despite the fact that I'm off this week and doing some serious reading.  I might have to write addendum next week :)

1) Blue Lily, Lily Blue by Maggie Stiefvater

2) Between Shades of Gray by Ruta Sepetys

3) Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell

4) Isla and the Happily Ever After by Stephanie Perkins

5) We Were Liars by E. Lockhart

6) The Impossible Knife of Memory by Laurie Halse Anderson

7) I Am the Weapon (Boy Nobody) by Allen Madoff

8) Jackaby by William Ritter

9) Saga (Volumes 1-3) by Brian K. Vaughn

10) Heir of Fire by Sarah J. Maas

Friday, December 12, 2014

Delilah Dirk and the Turkish Lieutenant

Author: Tony Cliff
Info: First Second, copyright 2013, 169 pages

Lovable ne'er-do-well Delilah Dirk has travelled to Japan, Indonesia, France, and even the New World. Using the skills she's picked up on the way, Delilah's adventures continue as she plots to rob a rich and corrupt Sultan in Constantinople. With the aid of her flying boat and her newfound friend, Selim, she evades the Sultan's guards, leaves angry pirates in the dust, and fights her way through the countryside. For Delilah, one adventure leads to the next in this thrilling and funny installment in her exciting life.  

A little bit Tintin, a little bit Indiana Jones, Delilah Dirk is a great pick for any reader looking for a smart and foolhardy heroine...and globetrotting adventures.

~Goodreads Description

A former (much missed!) co-worker put this on my desk one day and strongly encouraged me to read it.  And then I got distracted.  About six months later, grabbing hurriedly at books to have at home during my "vacation," I picked it back up and decided to finally give it a whirl.

Delilah Dirk is a female roguish character with a lot of personality, a lot of spunk, and a penchant for adventure.  After being captured and arrested for trespassing in a Turkish palace, Delilah finds herself an unexpected traveling companion, a young, hapless Lieutenant, Selim, who makes a wicked cup of tea.  The two travel away on Delilah's flying boat, Delilah look for adventure, Selim just trying to hold on.

I kind of loved this graphic novel.  It's definitely a departure from what I've been reading lately, not as dark, not as moody, just a fun ride.  Delilah is a bit of an antihero.  You can't help root for her despite the fact that she's a thief.  She's quick witted, often hilarious, and seemingly always in a good mood.  Selim is a bumbling fool but endearing, and I really appreciated his journey from comfort to daredevil.

I can't wait to see what happens in future volumes.

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Rebel Belle

Author: Rachel Hawkins
Info: Putnam Juvenile, copyright 2014, 345 pages

Harper Price, peerless Southern belle, was born ready for a Homecoming tiara. But after a strange run-in at the dance imbues her with incredible abilities, Harper's destiny takes a turn for the seriously weird. She becomes a Paladin, one of an ancient line of guardians with agility, super strength and lethal fighting instincts.

Just when life can't get any more disastrously crazy, Harper finds out who she's charged to protect: David Stark, school reporter, subject of a mysterious prophecy and possibly Harper's least favorite person. But things get complicated when Harper starts falling for him—and discovers that David's own fate could very well be to destroy Earth.

With snappy banter, cotillion dresses, non-stop action and a touch of magic, this new young adult series from bestseller Rachel Hawkins is going to make y'all beg for more.

~Goodreads Description

So I lead the Indy chapter of the ForeverYoungAdult book club and this is our selection for December.  (If you're in the Indy area, you should join us!)  I'm not sure I would have picked this up on my own, but it was a very pleasant surprise, and I genuinely mean surprise because the premise is a little off the wall.

The setup of the story had me worrying it was going to be a fantastical, Southern version of Mean Girls.  Harper has that presence.  She's smart, driven, and people want to be around her.  But Harper isn't mean, vindictive, or cruel.  She's a really sweet girl who believes in hard work and like any dedicated Southern belle, has her future planned out.  That future did not include becoming a Paladin, an ancient guardian of an oracle, and that future most certainly did not include spending extended periods of time with David Stark, her mortal enemy.

This book falls nicely in-between good literature and fluff.  It's not a mind-bending, thought-provoking story that makes you change your outlook on life.  It's fun and entertains, just as I suspect it was intended to do.  Harper is likable (her friends and family equally so), and the plot is interesting and quick paced.  It might certainly encourage any Greek myth loving teen reader to investigate the concepts of Paladins and oracles a bit more.  And it has a certain Southern charm that is always agreeable as far as I'm concerned.

The audiobook, by the way, is excellent.  I think it was the reader's Southern accent that had me at hello.  All of the guy characters sound confusingly similar, but Harper's drawl is fantastic.  I'm pretty sure I'll be picking up the sequel.

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Top 10 New-To-Me Authors I Read In 2014

Top Ten New-to-Me Authors I Read in 2014
(Feature hosted by The Broke and the Bookish)

Looking back at my google doc of books read in 2014, I realize that I didn't really test the waters much this year.  There are a lot of repeat offenders.  Genius offenders :), but repeats none the less.  Looks like another reading goal for some new people.

That being said, here are a few "new-to-me" that stand out this year.

Who should I get to know next year?

1) A.S. King
Ask the Passengers
Probably one of my favorites of the year.  King's take sexuality, relationships, and family dynamics was refreshing and realistic.  I'm definitely going to be checking out the rest of her collection of titles.

2) Alex London
Not only was Proxy a fun book, but Alex London is just a really cool guy.  I'm hoping to check out the sequel, Guardian sometime very, very soon.

3) Andrew Klavan
If We Survive
I can't say this was the most well-written book I picked up this year, but it was good, and exciting, and kept me on the edge of my seat from page one.  The true sign of a master storyteller.

4) Allen Zadoff
I Am the Weapon
Another great "boy" book that I didn't see coming.  In fact, before my assigned reading, I can honestly say that I hadn't even heard of this series or title.  Thank goodness for homework.

5) Lauren Oliver
I'm a little late to the Lauren Oliver party, but better late than never!  Panic was a thrill ride and a joy to listen to.  Lauren was pretty cool and hipster as well at YALLfest, so she definitely makes the list.

6) Matthew Quick
Forgive Me, Leonard Peacock
A welcoming addition to the world of teen contemporary fiction, taking on the tough subjects and creating compassionate, endearing, and imperfect characters that tug at your heartstrings.

7) Marcus Sedgwick
So I didn't like this particular book, but I do appreciate the way Sedgwick puts words together.  He's smart, and he doesn't shy away from assuming his readers are smart as well.  I'll be checking out what else he has to offer.

8) Alaya Dawn Johnson
The Summer Prince
A clever, creative voice I would like to hear more from.

9) Christina Baker Kline
Orphan Train
Kline has an ease of storytelling in the way she spins words.  It's like someone was telling you a bedtime story.  The story matter was tough, but familiar and interesting.

10) Carolee Dean
Forget Me Not
A mixture of poetry, prose, and dialogue, Dean's story is equal parts visually and artistically appealing.  She offers a fresh, creative take on a well-worn topic.

Monday, December 8, 2014

Q & A: The Librarian Way - Fun with Mike Mullin!

Our first special guest!  Mike Mullin came for a school visit, and Julia carved out a little time for us to invite the local author made of awesome onto The Librarian Way.

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Two Girls Staring at the Ceiling

Author: Lucy Frank
Info: Schwartz & Wade, copyright 2014, 272 pages

This novel-in-verse—at once literary and emotionally gripping—follows the unfolding friendship between two very different teenage girls who share a hospital room and an illness.

Chess, the narrator, is sick, but with what exactly, she isn’t sure. And to make matters worse, she must share a hospital room with Shannon, her polar opposite. Where Chess is polite, Shannon is rude. Where Chess tolerates pain silently, Shannon screams bloody murder. Where Chess seems to be getting slowly better, Shannon seems to be getting worse. How these teenagers become friends, helping each other come to terms with their illness, makes for a dramatic and deeply moving read.

~Goodreads Description

I picked this one up on a whim.  I hadn't read any reviews and just sort of remembered reading a description during the ordering process at my library.  But I'm trying to read 15 stand-alone titles this year, and this one was within reach so I went for it.  Then I realized it was a novel in verse that had to be read in a particular way, and I almost bailed.  But I decided to be a good librarian and reader and power through.

Chess is in the hospital with severe stomach cramps.  Lying in bed, feeling extremely sorrow for herself, she meets the girl on the other side of the curtain, Shannon, who is exceptionally bitter after years of hospitalization.  Over the course of the week, the girls bond over shared misery and hope, struggling to come to terms with their disease and learning to live life anyway.

So that's the gist.  Sometimes the verse felt structured.  Other times it felt all free form and was terribly confusing to follow (which could totally just be me because I'm not one to read poetry).  You don't really get to learn much about either girl.  While I felt sorrow for Chess, especially has reveals the story of a summer night with a crush, nothing much is resolved and she seemed a bit selfish.  

Like a lot of books I read, I felt like author Lucy Frank was on to something pretty good, but Two Girls Staring at the Ceiling just fell a bit short.  I wanted a little more.  A little more character development.  A little more emotional impact.

Overall, a decent effort, and if you're a fan of interestingly formatted books, this might be a good choice.  If you're not a fan of novel-in-verse, maybe skip this one.  Or not.  You never know!

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Top 10 Books I'm Looking Forward To In 2015

Top Ten Books I'm Looking Forward to in 2015
(Feature hosted by The Broke and the Bookish)

This list is a little inaccurate.  I didn't want to put titles that I've used in the last few lists, but in truth, a Maggie Stiefvater or Sarah J. Maas, or Alethea Kontis...they're at the top of my list.  This ten, however, are pretty high up on the "I can't wait to read!" list.

What are you looking forward to in 2015?

1) A Court of Thorns and Roses by Sarah J. Maas
Released May 5, 2015

2) Saint Anything by Sarah Dessen
Released May 5, 2015

3) Lair of Dreams by Libba Bray
Released April 14, 2015

4) The Storyspinner  by Becky Wallace
Released March 3, 2015

5) Daughter of Deep Silence by Carrie Ryan
Released June 2, 2015

6) Woven by Michael Jensen
Released January 27, 2015

7) Mechanica by Betsy Cornwell
Released August 4, 2015

8) Mosquitoland by David Arnold
Released March 3, 2015

9) Rook by Sharon Cameron
Released April 28, 2015

10) The Night We Said Yes by Lauren Gibaldi
Released June 16, 2014

Monday, December 1, 2014

The Clockwork Scarab

Author: Colleen Gleason
Info:  Chronicle Books, copyright 2013, 356 pages

Evaline Stoker and Mina Holmes never meant to get into the family business. But when you’re the sister of Bram and the niece of Sherlock, vampire hunting and mystery solving are in your blood. And when two society girls go missing, there’s no one more qualified to investigate.

Now fierce Evaline and logical Mina must resolve their rivalry, navigate the advances of not just one but three mysterious gentlemen, and solve murder with only one clue: a strange Egyptian scarab. The stakes are high. If Stoker and Holmes don’t unravel why the belles of London society are in such danger, they’ll become the next victims.

~Goodreads Description

Sometimes there are too many reading choices and it makes me anxious.  Is that weird?  What should I read?  Do I want realistic or fantasy?  Do I want series or stand alone?  Do I want to laugh, cry, go on an adventure?  Sometimes the choice is just too much.  So I let others make my reading choices for me :)

Enter The Clockwork Scarab, pulled off the shelve by the Teen Librarian at my library.  Boy it's nice having staff with good taste in reading.

Mina Holmes has ambitions to follow in her famous Uncle's footsteps.  Incredibly intelligent with an eye for observation, Mina jumps at the chance to service Queen and country in a clandestine mission. Eveline Stoker is basically the Buffy of Victorian, London.  She's supernaturally strong, fast, and lethal...unfortunately there's not a vampire in sight.  Together, they should be an unstoppable force, brains and braun, but sometimes opposites do not attract.

The book has a lot going for it.  First, you've got the fun of Holmes and Stoker, a reinvention of the classics.  Secondly, there's a healthy dose of steampunk, airships, cogs, and awesomeness.  Boy do I love steampunk :) Third, is the exciting inclusion of ancient lore and mythology.  I've always had a fascination with ancient Egypt, and Gleason makes you feel like you're watching a sequel to The Mummy which is just a whole lot of fun.  And finally, there's Pix and Grayling who I hope will prove to be very interesting (and present) in volumes to come.

Now for what it doesn't have going for it, time travel.  Why, oh why, did Gleason need to include time travel?  Sure, there's an "explanation," but it doesn't add anything to the story.  The boy sent through time is one dimensional, and the time period and heroines are interesting enough.  Maybe it will be flushed out a bit more in the sequel.  I suppose we'll see.

There's a lot of unanswered questions after book one, but Gleason sets the story and characters up nicely for more adventures to come.  And it's always nice to have strong, female characters who rely on intelligence to get out of sticky situations.  Just a lot of fun.

It was super close to 4 stars, but I'll hold off until I find out what happens in The Spiritglass Charade.

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