Tuesday, May 31, 2016

10 Books I Wish I Was Reading On the Beach

Top Ten Books I Wish I Was Reading On a Beach
(Feature hosted by The Broke and the Bookish)

The beach is not in my future this summer.  I won't lie - it's a little disappointing.  I'll be in Florida for a conference in a couple of weeks, but I won't be feeling the sand beneath my toes or the feeling of the waves washing over my ankles during an evening walk on the shoreline as the sun sets.  Sometimes "adulting" is a bummer.  And while I had options for this week's beach themed "Top Ten Tuesday" (great beach reads, go-to authors for beach reads, not your typical beach reads, etc.), I've chosen to go with ten books I would be reading on the beach  if I was legit vacationing :)


Ink and Bone (The Great Library, #1)
1) Ink and Bone by Rachel Caine

Wanderlost
2) Wanderlost by Jen Malone

Don't Get Caught
3) Don't Get Caught by Kurt Dinan

Love & Gelato
4) Love and Gelato by Jenna Evans Welch

The Book of Bright Ideas
5) The Book of Bright Ideas by Sandra Kring


My Lady Jane
6) My Lady Jane by Cynthia Hand

Summer Days & Summer Nights: Twelve Love Stories
7) Summer Days & Summer Nights: Twelve Love Stories edited by Stephanie Perkins

A Court of Mist and Fury (A Court of Thorns and Roses, #2)
8) A Court of Mist and Fury by Sarah J. Maas

Airships of Camelot: The Rise of Arthur

The Boy Most Likely To
10) The Boy Most Likely To by Huntley Fitzpatrick

I hope you find your way to the beach this summer, and I would love to hear what books you plan to download on your Kindle or stuff into your bag :)

Happy Reading!!

Friday, May 27, 2016

Everland

Author: Wendy Spinale
Info: Scholastic Press, copyright 2016, 320 pages

Forget the story of Peter Pan you know. Because in Everland, the only way to grow up is to survive.

London has been destroyed in a blitz of bombs and disease. The only ones who have survived are children, among them Gwen Darling and her siblings, Joanna and Mikey. They spend their nights scavenging and their days avoiding the ruthless Marauders -- the German Army led by Captain Hanz Otto Oswald Kretschmer.

Unsure if the virus has spread past England's borders but desperate to leave, Captain Hook hunts for a cure, which he thinks can be found in one of the survivors. He and his Marauders stalk the streets snatching children for experimentation. None ever return. Until the day they grab Joanna. As Gwen sets out to save her, she meets a mysterious boy named Pete. Pete offers the assistance of his gang of Lost Boys and the fierce sharpshooter Bella, who have all been living in a city hidden underground. But in a place where help has a steep price and every promise is bound by blood, it will cost Gwen. And are she, Pete, the Lost Boys, and Bella enough to outsmart Captain Hook?

~Goodreads Description

I've made no secret out of the fact that Peter Pan retellings are some of my favorites at the moment.  At the end of last year I read Tiger Lily by Jodi Lynn Anderson and back in February I got my hands on Unhooked by Lisa Maxwell.  Peter was not a nice guy in the original tale, but these new adaptations have often shined him in a different light, a more compassionate light, and that's quite alright by me.

Wendy Spinale's "Peter Pan" is a steampunk(ish) adventure set in a war-tortured, plague-ridden London.  German forces have invaded the city and unwittingly released a deadly plague that has killed almost all adults and most of the child population.  Captain Hanz Otto Oswald Kretschmer is leading the charge to find the remaining children in hopes of discovering a cure before returning to the German Queen with his tail between his legs.  His conquering of London did not quite go as planned.  Gwen, along with her sister Joanna and brother Mikey, have become scavengers, surviving in an abandoned buildings and living off whatever food Gwen can find on her nightly trips into the city, trying not to get captured by Hook's Marauders.  Then she meets Pete, the brave and loyal leader of the Lost Boys who have built a city of their own underground.  When Joanna is taken by the Marauders, Pete agrees to do the impossible, and help Gwen get her back.

There's so much else going on.  The story alternates between Gwen and Hook.  Hook is not as power-driven has he appears on the surface.  He really just wants to find the cure and get out of dodge.  He is more of a Lost Boy than he would ever admit, wishing he had had the love of his mother and step-father, but instead sent on a fool's errand.  Gwen resents having to grow up too quickly, but she does was needs to be done to care for her younger sister and brother.  She falls for Pete a little too quickly, and the story progresses at such a quick pace that character development is sacrificed a bit for plot.

Regardless, it's a fun take on the original tale.  Spinale carefully and creatively weaves the familiar into this new setting.  Gwen as Wendy; Bella as Tinkerbell (who has mechanized wings she wears); Joanna as John; and so on.  The Lost Boys each have fun nicknames and somehow Hook has crocodiles named Tick and Tock at his disposal for torture.  Are there crocodiles in England?  Hmmm....

A fun summer read.  And coolest of all - it seems to be a stand-alone title :)



Wednesday, May 25, 2016

The Season of Binge Watching


The last of my spring shows is now on hiatus, and for some reason, I always feel like a weight has been lifted off my shoulders.  Sounds ridiculous, I know, but I'm no longer held hostage by my television in the evening.  Sure, I could cut back at my viewing, but when you like a show, you like a show.  During the summer I often find myself sitting outside in the evenings, listening to more audiobooks, or listening to music.  The TV isn't turned on near as much.

But that doesn't mean I don't tackle a binge watching plan, because there are always days when it's just too hot or a just need to veg out.

Here's my summer binging plan:

Peaky Blinders season 3
People - I. Love. This. Show.  So so much.  A historical gangster tale set in Birmingham, England.  It's just so good, and I can't wait for season 3 to magically appear on my Netflix account.

Daredevil
I started.  And then I stopped.  So I shall start over and watch the whole thing.  Especially since I'm tired of my teens at work hassling me that I haven't finished yet.

House of Cards
Not sure why I haven't watched this yet, but I figure now's as good a time as any.

Longmire
Because my mother said so.

Do you have any summer binging plans?  There will, of course, be more books than TV, because, well, librarian.  But in an attempt to learn how to relax, I'm hoping the more I plan for my relaxing, the more likely that will happen.

Happy Wednesday!

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

6 Books I Feel Differently About After Time Has Passed

 Top "Ten" Books I Feel Differently About 
After Time Has Passed
(Feature hosted by The Broke and the Bookish)

Only going with 6 titles on this Top Ten Tuesday.  It's just one of those kind of days.  Apparently I don't have excess brain power to spare.

Some of the following titles grew on me with the passing of time and the opportunity to ponder over the stories.  Others didn't fare so well.  They were reads that I loved initially, but after absorbing other titles came to realize they weren't really worth the obsessive hype.  Not to say they shouldn't be read, but read knowing there are other amazing titles in similar genres out there.

1) I'll Give You the Sun by Jandy Nelson
I was initially very put off.  And then I thought it was okay.  And while I still have issues with some of the characters, I've come to really appreciate the quality of writing and storytelling.  This is a unique story that should be read.

Twilight (Twilight, #1)
2) Twilight by Stephanie Meyer
I read them all.  I enjoyed them all.  And now I really want to move on and never have to talk about them again.  This librarian is really Twilight-ed out.

The Hunger Games (The Hunger Games, #1)
3) The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins
Another series I initially loved, and might still have the same affection for had the movies not run the story into the ground.  They were decent, but four movies and that many plus years talking about them is enough.  I've read several other dystopias that stand up much better than the series as a whole.


4) Harry Potter by J.K. Rowling

It might be blasphemous to speak ill of the series.  This was a plot-driven story.  Well written but not exceptionally written.  And while the hype was overwhelming, what Harry Potter did for the book publishing world, for librarians and teachers, is truly spectacular.  In my humble opinion, without this seven book series about a boy wizard facing unbelievable odds, we would not be experiencing the amazing resurgence of book nerdom we are today.  At The Book Con, Harry Potter shirts, by far, were the most popular fashion...including on this girl, proudly sporting her Gryffindor Quidditch t-shirt.  Harry Potter is king.  Always.  And my appreciation grows with each passing year as my Teen Room is filled with new, exciting titles.


5) Second Chance Summer by Morgan Matson


Contemporary teen fiction is all about the angst, usually centered around a death, and often times maddeningly melodramatic.  On the surface, Matson's book isn't much different, but this one is special.  The drama builds slowly, happening around the main character instead of too her.  You know at the onset what is going to happen.  It's no secret.  But she takes her time, showing the struggles, and heartache that happen gradual as loss eats away you.  So good.  And so much better than a lot of similar titles out there.


6) Ask the Passengers by A.S. King
I've read my fair share of LGBT titles over the last couple of years.  To be honest, I've only really liked a handful.  Ask the Passengers stands out, and it's one I recommend often.  King has written a character driven story that isn't a soap-box, topic-driven story.  It's just about a girl, falling in love for the first time, and trying to find out what that means.  It's kind of beautiful.



Monday, May 23, 2016

Mr. Penumbra's 24-Hour Bookstore

Author: Robin Sloan
Info:  Farrar, Straus, and Giroux, copyright 2016, 288 pages

The Great Recession has shuffled Clay Jannon away from life as a San Francisco web-design drone and into the aisles of Mr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore. But after a few days on the job, Clay discovers that the store is more curious than either its name or its gnomic owner might suggest. The bookstore’s secrets extend far beyond its walls.

~Goodreads Description

I was in need of a new audiobook, so I decided to visit my ever-growing to-be read list on Goodreads for some suggestions.  Highly recommended by my boss, I sampled Robin Sloan's Mr. Penumbra's 24-Hour Bookstore, liked the reader, and decided to give it a whirl.  I'm not sure I LOVED it as much as she did, but it was definitely a thoroughly enjoyable read.

Clay Jannon has a tech background, web design to be exact, and finding himself unemployed, he wanders into Mr. Penumbra's 24-Hour Bookstore.  The customers are scarce, and his employer is eccentric to put it mildly, but there is something about the small space filled floor to ceiling with books that intrigues young Clay.  And then he discovers that Mr. Penumbra's bookstore isn't quite what it seems.  Coded messages in books.  A secret society.  And the clash between the digital age, the power of google, and the importance of the written word hold high stakes for the little bookstore.

This book felt familiar.  You should read it.  And that's my review :)

But seriously, it really did feel familiar.  Not that the story was a formulaic retelling of something I had read before.  And not that the characters seemed like stock individuals you see in any book.  It was familiar in the good way...that feeling you get when you discover a story that seems to fit you, your reading tastes, your humor.  It was a little bit of Ready Player One, a little bit of The Da Vinci Code, and maybe a little bit of some heroic fantasy novel with a hero, a wise counselor, and a mage.

Both Clay and Penumbra are likable characters.  Clay could be any guy you meet on the street.  He's smart but not too smart.  He's curious but lacks a bit of common sense which makes him endearing.  And Penumbra reminded me of a grandpa.  Soft spoken and supportive.  A grandpa that would go around talking about "the youths" and all that they get up too.  There wasn't a lot of character development.  The characters weren't really the main focus of the story, but the lacking didn't hurt the story either.  It was fast paced and interesting, keeping you in it until the last page.  Mr. Penumbra's 24-Hour Bookstore is an adventure novel and sort of a love letter to both getting immersed in books (the seeking of knowledge) and the power at our fingertips with each computer stroke.  It never came off as a cautionary tale about the evils of technology.  Thank goodness.

The narrator is fantastic.  The book is fun.  And the world could definitely use a 24-hour bookstore run by a sweet, curious, mysterious old man.


Thursday, May 19, 2016

A Study in Charlotte

Author: Brittany Cavallaro
Info: Katherine Tegen Books, copyright 2016, 321 pages

The last thing Jamie Watson wants is a ruby scholarship to Sherringford, a Connecticut prep school just an hour away from his estranged father.  But that's not the only complication: Sherringford is also home to Charlotte Holmes, the famous detective's great-great-great-granddaughter, who has inherited not only Sherlock's genius but also his volatile temperament.  From everything Jamie has heard about Charlotte, it seems safer to admire her from afar.

From the moment they meet, there's a tense energy between them, and they seem more destined to be rivals than anything else.  But when a Sherringford student dies under suspicious circumstances, ripped straight from the most terrifying of the Sherlock Holmes stories, Jamie can no longer afford to keep his distance.  Jamie and Charlotte are being framed for murder, and only Charlotte can clear their names.  But danger is mounting and nowhere is safe - and the only people they can trust are each other.

~Goodreads Description

Charlotte is exactly what you would expect from a Holmes.  She's wildly unpredictable, terribly moody, and borderline sociopathic.  Jamie is exactly what you would expect from a Watson.  He's loyal to a fault, tolerant beyond understanding, and the calm in the storm.  When a fellow Sherringford student is discovered murder on campus, Holmes and Watson are the first suspects - but they're also the best chance to find out what really happened.

It's the kind of murder mystery that you don't often see in teen fiction.  It has taken the heart of a classic, introducing a new generation to the genius of Holmes, but sets it in a contemporary setting with witty, mouthy, curious teens who aren't afraid to get their hands a little dirty.  Jamie Watson is likable enough that you forgive the hostile force that is Charlotte Holmes.  And Charlotte Holmes is tortured enough to keep things interesting.  Adults play the fool a little bit too often for my liking, but that isn't uncommon when you have teen detectives, and character development falls just short trying to match up so closely with its inspiration.

Overall, a very satisfying outing with characters that I want to see grow.  There are more murders to be solved and lives to be saved.  As long as Watson can keep Holmes sober and on point, this could be a very interesting series indeed.



Tuesday, May 17, 2016

10 Books I Picked Up On a Whim

To Ten Books I Picked Up On a Whim
(Feature hosted by The Broke and the Bookish)

I was all "this one's going to be easy!" until I realized that almost all of my book selections come from researching reviews and talking to patrons and staff.  Librarian woes... But I scoured my Goodreads lists and determined that these here ten books are as close as it is going to get.  Books that I didn't know much about before picking up.  Books I picked up because I kind of liked the cover.  Books that said "read-alike for the Night Circus" because that's all it takes to get me to read certain titles.

What was the last book you picked up on a whim?

1) Atlantia by Ally Condie

2) Church of Marvels by Leslie Parry

3) Hellhole by Gina Damico

4) Love Lies and Spies by Cindy Anstey

5) Firstlife by Gena Showalter

6) The Inventor's Secret by Andrea Cremer

7) Vengeance Road by Erin Bowman

The Gracekeepers
8) The Gracekeepers by Kristy Logan

Moon Called (Mercy Thompson, #1)
9) Moon Called by Patricia Briggs

10) Mr. Penumbra's 24-Hour Bookstore by Robin Sloan

Monday, May 16, 2016

Mike the Gnome @TheBookCon 2016

It happened people.  It really happened.  I'm still having trouble really wrapping my brain around what happened, but it did.  The Book Con at Chicago's McCormick Place was huge.  Unbelievable authors and readers came together in an overly packed exhibit hall with enormous lines.  It was exhausting, and it was fun, and it really happened.  Let's go through the fun in pictures...

The moment when I somehow got the three wristbands I'd been hoping for at the event.  Maggie Stiefvater.  Morgan Matson.  Sabaa Tahir.

The moment Mike the Gnome was FIRST in line to meet Maggie Stiefvater.  He was a little nervous.  A little apprehensive.  But he played it super cool in the end.

Because he had to be prepared for this.  It wasn't supposed to happen.  She wasn't going to take pictures.  But who can resist that face?  I mean, he is kind of adorable.  And Maggie is a rock star.  Dream come true.

A group of weirdos trying to come down after the big moment.

Mike was all pro after his first encounter.  Here he is looking dashing with the fantastic Sabaa Tahir.

And then getting a little boost from the amazing and SO NICE Morgan Matson.

But wait!  He wasn't supposed to meet Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff!  But he did.  And Amie got all DFTBA for the camera.

And finally the super talented, friendly, wonderful Ms. Ruta Sepetys.  Sigh.  I want to be her best friend and research assistant.

Needless to say, Mike had a big day.  He was kind of exhausted in the end.  It's hard work standing in lines.  But he made some new friends and memories.  Oh the adventures I have with my tiny garden friend.

Thursday, May 12, 2016

Alienated

Alienated (Alienated, #1)Author: Melissa Landers
Info: Disney Hyperion, copyright 2014, 344 pages

Two years ago, the aliens made contact. Now Cara Sweeney is going to be sharing a bathroom with one of them.

Handpicked to host the first-ever L’eihr exchange student, Cara thinks her future is set. Not only does she get a free ride to her dream college, she’ll have inside information about the mysterious L’eihrs that every journalist would kill for. Cara’s blog following is about to skyrocket.

Still, Cara isn’t sure what to think when she meets Aelyx. Humans and L’eihrs have nearly identical DNA, but cold, infuriatingly brilliant Aelyx couldn’t seem more alien. She’s certain about one thing, though: no human boy is this good-looking.

But when Cara's classmates get swept up by anti-L'eihr paranoia, Midtown High School suddenly isn't safe anymore. Threatening notes appear in Cara's locker, and a police officer has to escort her and Aelyx to class.

Cara finds support in the last person she expected. She realizes that Aelyx isn’t just her only friend; she's fallen hard for him. But Aelyx has been hiding the truth about the purpose of his exchange, and its potentially deadly consequences. Soon Cara will be in for the fight of her life—not just for herself and the boy she loves, but for the future of her planet.

~Goodreads Description

Had high hopes for Alienated coming off my love affair with Landers's Starflight.  It was a solid outing as alien books go, but not quite as entertaining as her newest series.

Cara Sweeney is a brain, a hopeful journalist, and the winner of a scholarship.  She is also now a part of an exchange program with a L'eihr student.  Aleyx, her new roommate, will come stay awhile here on Earth, and then she'll travel to his planet to better understand the alien culture.  Not everyone is happy about this little experiment.  There's an anti-L'eihr faction in town that wants Aleyx to leave. Immediately.  Between the secret that Aleyx is hiding and his undeniable feelings toward Cara, life is getting pretty dangerous in town.

I'm not overly pleased with that summary, but it will just have to suffice.  This one was just a little too romance driven for me which is kind of disappointing considering Cara's brains and drive.  It wasn't love at first sight, thank goodness, but feelings developed extremely quickly.  That, paired with a lack of character development, left a bit of a fizzle in the plot.

Perhaps I just really wanted something important to happen in space.  I was a little spoiled with Starflight and Amie Kauffman and Jay Kirstoff's Illuminae.  This one just left me wanting something more.  Or something different.  Or perhaps a little bit of both.

This is the first in a series, and I have yet to decide whether or not I'll continue on - maybe if I can get my hands on the audiobook or need another Melissa Landers fix before the sequel to Starfall comes out.  I'm trying hard not to leave new series I start unfinished.  It's a new Emily.

If you like romance over alien domination, this might be a great read for you.  If you prefer your aliens to be dangerous, or in space, then maybe pick up Ernest Cline's Armada.


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