Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Ten Books I Recently Added to My To-Be-Read List

Ten Books I Recently Added to My To-Be-Read List
(Feature Hosted by The Broke and the Bookish)

Oh the ever growing to-be-read list.  I can't tell you the last time I actually visited the list to pick out my next read.  I usually just grab the book closest that tickles my fancy or the shiny new book that I nab as quickly as possible at the library.  But thank goodness for Goodreads.  Thank goodness for a place where I can at least be reminder of titles that I would surely forget and for a community of readers that help me make that next selection.

So here are ten that I recently added to that good ol' shelf to, hopefully, be read soon:

2) Like It Never Happened  by Emily Adrian

3) Pretending to Be Erica by Michelle Painchaud

4) Joyride by Anna Banks

5) The Tenderness of Thieves by Donna Freitas

7) Prudence by Gail Carrier

8) Killer Instinct by Jennifer Lynn Barnes

9) The Lies of Locke Lamora by Scott Lynch

10) Trigger Warning by Neil Gaiman

So what's on your list?  Anything spectacular I need to add?

Happy reading!

Friday, March 27, 2015

In Real Life

Author: Cory Doctorow, Illustrator: Jen Wang
Info: First Second, copyright 2014, 187 pages

A review in 10 words (or thereabouts): The startling realization that there is a person behind the avatar.

Anda loves Coarsegold Online, the massively-multiplayer role-playing game where she spends most of her free time.  It's a place where she can be a leader, a fighter, a hero.  It's a place where she can meet people from all over the world, and make friends.

But things become a lot more complicated when And a befriends a gold farmer -- a poor Chinese kid whose avatar in the game illegally collects valuable objects and then sells them to players from developed countries with money to burn.  This behavior is strictly against the rules in Coarsegold, but Anda soon comes to realize that questions of right and wrong are a lot less straightforward when a real person's livelihood is at stake.

~Goodreads Description

This is strangely my first Cory Doctorow book.  I've glanced at, picked up, and considered just about every Doctorow story in my library, but this one I took home and for the only reason that I'm in a graphic novel kind of mood these days.

Coarsegold Online is a video game, and Fahrenheit is a guild of girl gamers, very talented, intense girl gamers.  Anda is selected as a temporary guild member.  Day by day she builds her avatar, increases her power, and goes on quests, finding a home in the virtual world.  Then she meets Lucy who likes to live on the edge.  Lucy, who likes dangerous quests, extra quests that seek out avatars who are illegally collecting gold.

To be honest...I have no idea what that means.  I have never played a role-playing-game, and I'm not sure how a game is designed that allows someone to skirt the system.  I take that back.  I play Wii Lego games all of the time, and I won't deny that after a quick run through I look for the cheat codes. Maybe it's something like that?  A way to give me an edge?

Anyway, much of this story was lost on me.  I loved the artwork, and I loved the characters (though character development was pretty light), but the gaming stuff went almost completely over my head.  I do however really like the idea of empowered female gamers who want recognition for the talents.  To stand equally to male gamers.  And, well, to kick some butt.

So despite the confusion, I liked the book.  It wasn't the best I've ever read, but it's good.  And it kind of really made me want to revisit Ready Player One by Ernest Cline, which I don't really need an excuse to do.  Especially since I haven't listened to the audiobook read by Will Wheaton :)

Not a bad choice for my graphic novel craving.

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Waiting On Wednesdays

Miss Mayhem
Rebel Belle #2
By Rachel Hawkins
Release Date: April 7, 2015

Life is almost back to normal for Harper Price.  The Ephors have been silent after their deadly attack at Cotillion months ago, and best friend Bee has returned after a mysterious disappearance.  Now Harper can return her focus to the important things in life: school, canoodling with David, her nemesis-turned-ward-slash-boyfie, and even competing in the Miss Pine Grove pageant.

Unfortunately, supernatural chores are never done.  The Ephors have decided they'd rather train David than kill him.  The catch: Harper has to come along for the ride, but she can't stay David's Paladin unless she undergoes an ancient trial that will either kill her...or connect her to David for life.

~Goodreads Description

The first in the series took me by surprise.  Rachel Hawkins has created a fun world filled with interesting characters and a lot of action.  Harper Price is a force to be reckoned with, and I can't wait to see what she does in book 2!

Look at me getting exciting for a series sequel.  I feel like I'm on top of things!

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Top 10 Books From My Childhood That I Would Love To Revisit

Top Ten Books From My Childhood 
That I Would Like to Revisit
(Feature hosted by The Broke and the Bookish)

I read as a child, but I wasn't a "reader."  There weren't that many books that I obsessed over, re-read countless times, or have marked as the stories of my youth.  When I think back on my childhood, I really think of the picture books we would pick out for my little brother.  Not for me.  It wasn't until college, when I was SO sick of reading text books that I was willing to read anything else, that I became the reader I am today.

After racking my brain for the better part of ten minutes, here are ten books I do remember reading as a child and wouldn't mind revisiting again, one day.

What's on your list?

1) Daniel's Story by Carol Matas

2) The Kissed That Missed by David Melling

3) Amelia Bedelia by Peggy Parish

4) Hop On Pop by Dr. Seuss

5) The Boxcar Children by Gertrude Chandler Warner

6) The Borrowers by Mary Norton

7) Charlotte's Web by E.B. White

8) Ramona Quimby by Beverly Cleary

9) Encyclopedia Brown, Boy Detective by Donald J. Sobol

10) Any Christopher Pike book :)

Monday, March 23, 2015

Spring Project

I have this friend (really...this isn't the start of one of those kinds of stories) who loves a good project.  She loves to dive in head first putting her blood, sweat, and tears into something big.  And I do mean big.  These projects are never for the faint of heart.  And that's what I absolutely adore about her.  She loves to try new things and have a little fun, never afraid to put herself out there.

One night while chatting online, this friend asked me to join her in a project.  I was intrigued, especially since she lives in Florida and I live in Indiana.  What kind of cross-country project could she have in mind?  Then she threw down the gauntlet.  30 days of May, 30 hand-made skirts.

I immediately turned her down :)  There are many reasons why I found this particular project a little too daunting.  1) I am not a confident sewer...or "domestic" in any way, shape, or form. 2) I do not have the stamina for sewing 30 individual skirts.  3)  Where in the world would one store 30 skirts?  4) I only own maybe a total of five dresses and skirts combined...the thought of wearing a skirt every day for a month kind of terrifies me.

So I offered her a compromise.  4 weeks of May, 4 hand-made skirts.  I can make four skirts.  Right?  We shall see I suppose.  Every week in May I'll be wearing a hand-made skirt.  And I'm starting the sewing now.  It might take me making ten skirts to get four I'll actually wear in public.

Here's skirt #1 of the "Sew Awesome: A month of skirt craziness" 2015 project with Kendrabookgirl.

Picked this one out because of the "One Easy Project" label on the package.  It's not the most flattering thing in the world...and picking out the wrong fabric means it's completely see-through which is a problem, but I'm pretty darned proud of myself for completing it without crying.  It definitely resembles the picture, and I only had to call my mother about five times.  Not a bad start.

Friday, March 20, 2015

The Bridge from Me to You

Author: Lisa Schroeder
Info: Point, copyright 2014, 336 pages

A review in 10 words (or thereabouts): The not quite Friday Night Lights.

Lauren has a secret.  Colby has a problem.  But when they find each other, everything falls into place.  

Lauren is the new girl in town with a dark secret.  Colby is the football hero with a dream of something more.  In alternating chapters, they come together, fall apart, and build something stronger than either of them thought possible -- something to truly believe in.

~Goodreads Description

So I thought this was a novel-in-verse.  And then it wasn't.  But then it was again.  And then I had to take a moment to regroup.  What exactly am I reading, and how can I reconcile free verse and prose together in one story.

I'll be honest; it wasn't easy.  It might have been easier if Lauren's voice (which was mostly verse) stayed consistent.  Lauren is a troubled young girl.  The blurb above says she has a dark secret.  Truth be told, her secret isn't that big, and it isn't that dark, but for some reason, when she talks to her therapist, she speaks to her in prose.  The rest of the world gets bare bones verse.  Colby, on the other hand, has a consistent tone throughout the book.  It is maybe a little too consistent at times.

The back and forth puts a barrier up between the characters and the reader.  You never really get a sense of who they are.  Schroeder does a nice job of showing you what they're facing, but who are they?  What are they like apart to make what they have together special?

The secondary characters felt much the same way.  We get snapshots of who they are, but we never get to know them.  Lauren has an amazing Aunt and Uncle and nieces and nephews that she falls in love with, but why?  We get glimpses of them welcoming her into the family, but not enough for the heart tugging need for her to stay at the end.  Colby has great grandparents who linger on the sidelines and a coach that preaches "I believe," but why should we believe him.  What kind of man is he?  Why should we expect those two words to mean so much to a team, a town, at the end of the story?

I really wanted to like this one.  When I started reading it I got really excited because it felt like the high school movies I'm strangely addicted to.  I figured it would be a little predictable, but those stories always resonate with me on some level.  Everyone wants to be beautiful.  Everyone wants to be loved.  It's the inside that counts.  I know.  Cheesy.  But it's a feel good cheesy I can get behind.  The Bridge from Me to You came off a little more Hallmark.  Everything was too tidy and clean.  The dialogue seemed a bit forced at times, and in the end, I wasn't really sure I liked any of the characters.

The potential was there, but I just think this one fell a little flat.

I've read some other Lisa Schroeder titles, and I highly recommend her.  If you like variety in format and changing perspectives, than maybe you should give this a try.

Thursday, March 19, 2015

Poisoned Apples

Author: Christine Heppermann
Info: Greenwillow Books, copyright 2014, 114 pages

A review in 10 words (or thereabouts): There is violence in beauty and happily ever afters.

Once upon a time...
you were a princess,
or an orphan.
A wicked witch,
fairy godmother,
prom queen,
team captain,
Big Bad Wolf,
Little Bo Peep.
But you are more than just a hero or
a villain, cursed or charmed.  You are
everything in between.
You are everything.

In fifty poems Christine Heppermann places fairy tales side by side with the modern teenage girl.

~Goodreads Description

I'm not big on poetry.  The way the words are put together is beautiful, I just don't understand them in that particular abstract order.  But Heppermann I kind of got.  Poisoned Apples is like seeing the back side of the fairy tale.  The story without the happily ever after.  The truth behind the scenes.  It's fairy tale versus reality.  I suppose it's truth revealing.  There's a violence in beauty, inside and out

It's poetry that I can find a connection with, and it's poetry that I think is really important in the Teen Room.

That being said, I think fairy tales are important too.  While they leave a lot to be desired, there's a beauty in hope, perseverance, and dreaming of something better.  You take from stories what you want to take from stories.  It's a conversation.  A dialogue that demands to be had.  A feminist can love Cinderella, and it's okay to dream of a happily ever after.  But that's just my two cents (and maybe I completely adored the newest Cinderella movie.  It's beautiful.)

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

I'll Be There

Author: Holly Goldberg Sloan
Info: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers, copyright 2011, 392 pages

A review in 10 words (or thereabouts):  Some people are bad, some families dysfunctional, some lives destroyed.  But the right person can help you save yourself.

Sam Border wishes he could escape, but there's nowhere for him to run.  He and his little brother, Riddle, have spent their entire lives constantly uprooted by their unstable father.  That is, until Same sees Emily.  That's when everything changes.

As Sam and Riddle are welcomed into the Bells' lives, they witness the warmth and protection of a family for the first time.  But when tragedy strikes, they're left fighting for survival in the desolate wilderness, and wondering if they'll ever find a place where they can belong.

~Goodreads Description

This was a book club assignment, and thank goodness for that.  I would have never have found this particular title on my own.  And for readers of contemporary fiction and stories that tug at the heartstrings, this is a must-read.

Sam learned at a very young age not to get attached to anything or anyone.  He lives a life on the road, drifting like a leaf in the wind, blown around by the whims of his convict father.  Sam's only tie to the world, to hope, is his younger brother Riddle.  But then one day Sam wanders into a church and sees a girl.  Not just any girl.  Emily, the girl who sees into his soul.  Now Sam has a reason to stay and desperately wants a new life with Riddle, away from his father.

Sloan writes in a very bare-bones kind of way.  There's not a lot of description.  Not a lot of touchy-feely sentiment.  The story is gritty and real.  She's a screenwriter, and that definitely shines through.  And I think that's what I really liked about the book.  There were a few overly-dramatic moments, but for the most part, there was no angst.  There was real feeling and real confusion set in a sad yet hopeful world.  Sam's father Clarence is the worst example of a parent, but the story is balanced by Tim and Debbie Bell. It's always refreshing to find parents who act like decent parents.

And Emily is never swoon-y.  She's interested and infatuated, but she keeps a level head.  There's no over-reacting.  There's life, moving forward, despite some really bad stuff.

So I liked it.  I really liked it, and there's a very good chance I'm going to read the sequel.  I'm not really sure if it needs a sequel, it stands alone very well, but I wouldn't mind seeing what happens next.  The only reason I wouldn't read it is because I'll forget.  Just speaking truth :)

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Top 10 Books On My Spring TBR List

Top Ten Books On My Spring TBR List
(Feature hosted by The Broke and the Bookish)

I'm going to do it this year.  I'm going to put ten books down on this here list...and then I'm going to read them.  Did you hear me interwebs?!  I'm going to read these books in a semi-timely manner! (And yes.  If you've visited before, some of these titles have been on other lists.  Don't judge.)

What's on your list?  Oh!  And Happy St. Patrick's Day!

1) Maybe One Day by Melissa Kantor

2) Belzhar by Meg Wolitzer

3) What I Thought Was True by Huntley Fitzpatrick

4) The Summer I Became a Nerd by Leah Rae Miller

5) I Was Here by Gayle Forman

6) Dearest by Alethea Kontis

7) The Beginning of Everything  by Robyn Schneider

8) Guy in Real Life by Steve Brezenoff

9) Rebecca by Daphne Du Maurier
(I started it!  Twice :) Third times the charm!  Right?)

10) Waistcoats and Weaponry by Gail Carrier

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

The Naturals

Author: Jennifer Lynn Barnes; Narrator: Amber Faith
Info: Disney-Hyperion, copyright 2013, 308 pages, 6 discs

A review in 10 words (or thereabouts): Criminal Minds meets CSI in a fun and thrilling teen mystery series.

Seventeen-year-old Cassie is a natural at reading people.  Piecing together the tiniest details, she can tell you who you are and what you want.  But it's not a skill that she's ever taken seriously.  That is, until the FBI come knocking: they've begun a classified program that uses exceptional teenagers to crack infamous cold cases, and they need Cassie.

What Cassie doesn't realize is that there's more at risk than a few unsolved homicides -- especially when she's sent to live with a group of teens whose gifts are as unusual as her own.  Sarcastic, privileged Michael has a knack for reading emotions, which he uses to get inside Cassie's head -- and under her skin.  Brooding Dean shares Cassie's gift for profiling, but keeps her at arm's length.

Soon, it becomes clear that no one in the Naturals program is what they seem.  And when a new killer strikes, danger looms closer than Cassie could ever have imagined.  Caught in a lethal game of cat and mouse with a killer, the Naturals are going to have to use all of their gifts jus to survive.

~Goodreads Description

My first audiobook of the year and it was pretty darn good.

Cassie is special.  She has the ability to read people, to know at a glance their personality and behavior tendencies.  Then one day the FBI shows up on her doorstep and offers her the opportunity to be trained by professionals, to help solve crimes and make a difference.  The Naturals, teens with the born ability to recognize emotions and liars, are in training until an unsolved case puts them right in the middle of the action.

So I'm a sucker for shows like Criminal Minds and Dateline.  I really like the mystery, the idea of hunting down clues and solving a case.  I was an Encyclopedia Brown kind of kid, despite the fact that I never once successfully solved the mystery.  But that's exactly what The Naturals felt like.  A good, old-fashioned kind of mystery story.

Barnes does an excellent job building suspense.  She releases information slowly and shows the dark side of getting into a killer's mind.  It would have to be exhausting having a natural ability to profile people.  And oh so lonely.  How could you ever really have friends?  How would you trust people?  How would anyone trust you if they thought you were always analyzing them?

I'll definitely be checking out the rest in the series.

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Top Ten Books For Readers Who Like Contemporary Teen Romance

Top Ten Books for Readers of Contemporary Teen Romance
(Feature hosted by The Broke and the Bookish)

I'm a sucker for a sweet love story, and as far as I'm concerned, contemporary teen romance writers often get it right.  There's a bit of angst, a whole lot of uncertainty, and heavy doses of sweetness without all the stuff that makes me blush.  There are feels.  Lots and lots of feels.

So here's we go.  My list of favorite contemporary teen romances.  What would you add to the list?

1) Amy & Roger's Epic Detour by Morgan Matson
"The road home may be unfamiliar - especially with their friendship venturing into uncharted territory - but together, Amy and Roger will figure out how to map their way."

2) Truth About Forever by Sarah Dessen
"A long, hot summer....that's what Macy has to look forward to while her boyfriend, Jason, is away at Brain Camp.  But sometimes, unexpected things can happen - things such as the catering job at Wish, with its fun-loving, chaotic crew."

3) Ann and the French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins
"Anna is looking forward to her senior year in Atlanta, where she as a great job, a loyal best friend, and a crush on the verge of becoming more.  Which is why she is less than thrilled about being shipped off to boarding school in Paris - until she meets Etienne St. Clair."

4) 13 Little Blue Envelopes by Maureen Johnson
"Inside little blue envelope 1 are $1,000 and instructions to buy a plane ticket."

5) My Life Next Door by Huntley Fitzpatrick
"The Garretts are everything the Reeds are not.  Loud, messy, affectionate.  And every day from her rooftop perch, Samantha Reed wishes she was one of them...until one evening, Jase Garrett clips up next to her and changes everything."

6) Just One Day by Gayle Forman
"Allyson Healey's life is exactly like her suitcase - packed, planned, ordered.  Then on the last day of her three-week post-graduation European tour, she meets Willem."

7) Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell
"A coming-of-age tale of fan fiction, family, and first love."

8) Peaches by Jodi Lynne Anderson
"In a Ya-Ya Sisterhood for teens, Peaches combines three unforgettable heroines who have nothing in common but the troubles that have gotten them sentenced to a summer of peach picking at a Georgia orchard."

9) The Statistical Probability of Love at First Sight by Jennifer E. Smith
"Four minutes changes everything.  Hadley Sullivan misses her flight at JFK airport, is late to her father's second wedding in London with never-met stepmother.  Hadley meets the perfect boy."

10) The Avery Shaw Experiment by Kelly Oram
"When Avery Shaw's heart is shattered by her life long best friend, she chooses to deal with it the only way she knows how - scientifically."

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