Friday, July 29, 2016

Library GrabBag: Get Inspired Programming Calendar

Cool news! I've had the pleasure of working with DEMCO over the last couple of months on their Ideas & Inspiration blog.  It's a great resource for articles written by professionals on programming, classroom/curriculum tie-ins, and library services.

My contribution is a series of monthly programming calendars geared specifically toward librarians working with teens in public and school libraries, and the first one is coming out today!  There are passive program suggestions, book and board game pairings, special events for national holidays, and special days in history to highlight in your library.  It has been super fun to work on, and while I'm a bit flabbergasted that DEMCO got in touch with me for this particular project, it has been an absolute pleasure working with them.

So you should check it out.  Really.  We can say our goodbyes here, and you can click on this very nifty link (http://ideas.demco.com/trends-topics/community-engagement/teen-activity-calendar-september-2016/) that will take you directly to the blog that is currently featuring the programming calendar.

http://ideas.demco.com/trends-topics/community-engagement/teen-activity-calendar-september-2016/
If you're reading this line, you've missed your cue.  Go.  Enjoy, and I'll see you next week.

Happy reading!!
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Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Magonia

Magonia (Magonia, #1)Author: Maria Dahvana Headley
Info: HarperCollins, copyright 2015, 309 pages

Aza Ray is drowning in thin air.

Since she was a baby, Aza has suffered from a mysterious lung disease that makes it ever harder for her to breathe, to speak, to live.

So when Aza catches a glimpse of a ship in the sky, her family chalks it up to a cruel side effect of her medication.  But Aza doesn't think this is a hallucination.  She can her someone on the ship calling her name.

Only her best friend, Jason, listens.  Jason, who's always been there.  Jason, for whom she might have more-than-friendly feelings.  But before Aza can consider that thrilling idea, something goes terribly wrong.  Aza is lost to our world - and found, by another.  Magonia.

Above the clouds, in a land of trading ships, Aza is not the weak and dying thing she was.  In Magnolia, she can breathe for the first time.  Better, she has immense power - and as she navigates her new life, she discovers that war is coming.  Magonia and Earth are on the cusp of a reckoning.  And in Aza's hands lies the fate of the whole of humanity - including the boy who loves her.  Where do her loyalties lie?

~Goodreads Description

This one stressed me out.  It was so very close to a will-not-finish, but I'm a stubborn girl, and I was determined to see it through to the end.

My dislike had nothing to do with the writing.  It was decently put together.  It was the story.  I just couldn't get into the story or care for any of the characters.  Mostly because I had NO idea what was going on or why it mattered.  And there were airships in it!  And pirates!  I love airships and pirates!  I tried to imagine them as pirate ships with hand quilted sails, for some reason, floating through the clouds, but even that didn't help.

Quick summary - When we meet Aza, she's dying, and she's doing it with flare, as only Aza can apparently do things.  She's quick to joke, to illicit reactions through sarcastic wit, and to spin a tale using her illness as a crutch.  But it's a bit of a cry-wolf situation.  One day in class, looking out the window, she sees a ship in the sky and a voice is calling her name.  Before she's ready, the illness has taken her life in a bizarre, bird-frenzy occurrence, and she wakes up on a ship, surrounded by people who claim she is kind of like a changeling...not human, but in fact from Magonia and the daughter of a Captain with the ability to use a bird living in her chest to sing and control the elements.

And then I was lost.  She wants to make it home.  She can't.  But this bird thing.  Not sure about this bird thing.

As I was reading, I felt myself constantly questioning who Aza really was.  I felt like I got a picture of her (and it wasn't necessarily a pretty picture), but never really met the real thing.  The same with her best friend, Jason, who strangely never really believed she was gone.  Aza is rough around the edges, and while not angsty, was very irritating.  She was almost too abrasive.

The idea of Magonia is very unique and original, but the execution was a bit all over the place.  I can only imagine how difficult it is to world build something living solely in your head and not in legend somewhere to pull ideas and details from.

The cover designers knocked it out of the park though.  Beautiful.


Tuesday, July 26, 2016

10 Things Books Have Made Me Want to Do/Learn

Ten Things Books Have Made Me Want to Do/Learn
(Feature hosted by The Broke and the Bookish)

I thought and pondered all last evening trying to think of something I read about in a book that I had the strong desire to do or try.  I came up with nothing.  Well, that's not entirely true.  I came up with a lot of things, but nothing legit.  Nothing like "that character was a glass blower and now I really want to learn to create beautiful pieces of art using glass and fire."  That does sound intriguing, but it also sounds very dangerous.  And for a girl who is a self-proclaimed (and often observed) walking accident...glass and fire is a very bad life choice.

So here are some less legit things that I would like to do having reading about them in a book (or 10 things that sent my imagination into a whirlwind of possibility):

1) Receive 13 letters from a dearly departed aunt who sends me on an adventure in Europe
13 Litle Blue Envelopes by Maureen Johnson

2) See a flash mob, outdoor performance of a Shakespeare play in Stratford, England
Just One Day by Gayle Forman

Amy & Roger's Epic Detour
3) Create well-curated playlists for a road trip across the United States
Amy & Roger's Epic Detour by Morgan Matson

The Book of Blood and Shadow
4) Get caught up in a conspiracy theory with a secret society that takes me to Prague
The Book of Blood and Shadow by Robin Wasserman

5) Turn into an animal (hopefully something adorable like a pygmy goat or elephant)
My Lady Jane by Cynthia Hand, Jodi Meadows, and Brodi Ashton

6) Play World of Warcraft and find myself a crazy guild that becomes my game loving 
dysfunctional family
You're Never Weird on the Internet by Felicia Day

7) Explore a circus that arrives without warning while wearing a red scarf and a fancy Victorian dress
The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern

8) Live in Colby, North Carolina
The Moon and More by Sarah Dessen

The Raven Boys (The Raven Cycle, #1)
9) Have my fortune told at 300 Fox Way
The Raven Boys by Maggie Stiefvater

10) Attend a class at Mademoiselle Geraldine's Finishing Academy for Young Ladies of Quality
Etiquette and Espionage by Gail Carriger

I also want to meet an alien rock band (The Prom Goer's Interstellar Excursion by Chris McCoy), visit the planet Goondocks (Ready Player One by Ernest Cline), sit down for a meal made by Claire Waverly (Garden Spells by Sarah Addison Allen), and have a conversation with Mrs. Whatsit (A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L'Engle).

And that's why I love to read.  I read to escape.  To travel to new places and participate in new adventures.  To dream. To love.  To imagine.

What's on your list?  Happy reading!

Monday, July 25, 2016

The Siren

The SirenAuthor: Kiera Cass
Info: HarperTeen, copyright 2016, 327 pages

Love is a risk worth taking.

Years ago, Kahlen was recused from drowning by the Ocean.  To repay her debt, she has served as a Siren ever since, using her voice to lure countless strangers to their deaths.  Though a single word from Kahlen can kill, she can't resist spending her days on land, watching  ordinary people and longing for the day when she will be able to speak and laugh and live freely among them again.

Kahlen is resigned to finishing her sentence in solitude...until she meets Akinli.  Handsome, caring, and kind, Akinli is everything Kahlen ever dreamed of.  And though she can't talk to him, they soon forge a connection neither of them can deny...and Kaylen doesn't want to.

Falling in love with a human breaks all the Ocean's rules, and if the Ocean discovers Kahlen's feelings, she'll be forced to leave Akinli for good.  But for the first time in a lifetime of following the rules, Kahlen is determined to follow her heart.

~Good Description

There are some decisions that change your life forever.  When Kahlen was faced with that decision, she chose life and 100 years of servitude to the Ocean.  Her voice became a deadly weapon, and the call to sing would overwhelm her and leave her guilt stricken and terrified.  She wanted to be normal. But normal wasn't possible.  And normal became very dangerous when she met Akinli.

I'm pretty sure this is the first paranormal teen fiction title that I've read about sirens.  I'll be honest.  I'm not crazy about them.  I like Kiera Cass and her writing style, but the siren thing just wasn't that interesting to me.  It comes down to the limits of my imagination apparently.  I just couldn't picture a bunch of girls swimming in the ocean in dresses made of shells.  Hmmm...

And I never really got attached to any of the characters.  Except maybe the Ocean, which is probably weird, since the Ocean kind of plays the part of the villain.  She captures young girls and forces them to kill people.  And while it appears that she doesn't have much of a choice, I don't really believe that.  Because I am stubborn.

Here's the problem with angsty teenage characters.  They usually have a reason to be moody.  But that doesn't make them fun to read about.  Kahlen can't talk to anyone but her sister sirens, which really stinks when she meets a boy that changes everything.  But an entire story of her moodiness and inner dialogue just isn't that much fun.  I think I wanted a little something more, a little more than just a love story.  There wasn't any grit or adventure.  It was too clean.

I feel like I'm bashing the book a little.  Not my intent.  It's well written and worth a read.  It just was not for me.


Friday, July 22, 2016

Graphic Novel Round-Up: July 2016 Edition

I've been exploring the selection of graphic novels on hoopla this month, and while there isn't any Marvel, the variety is quite impressive.  You might check and see if your local library subscribes to Hoopla.  It offers quick and easy delivery of some of the most popular titles in comic books directly to your smart devices!


Invincible, Vol. 1: Family MattersInvincible : Family Matters Vol. 1 & Eight is Enough Vol. 2
Author: Robert Kirkman (author), Cory Walker, Bill Crabtree, and Kurt Busiek (artists)
Info: Image Comics, copyright 2006, 120 pages

This came highly recommended by one of my favorite teens.  If I remember correctly, it was pitched as a superhero graphic novel featuring a whole bunch of superheroes no one knows.

Ok then.  This is about Mark Grayson who is just coming into his powers.  By day he is your average high school student, and by night he is "Invincible", the newest crimefighter on the block.  His father is kind of known as being the most powerful superhero on the planet and is often pulled away from home to deal with any number of emergencies, some taking him through portals into different universes.  So Mark is learning on his own.

In volume two, the Guardians of the Globe (a.k.a. the Avengers or Justice League of unknown superheroes) find themselves in grave peril.

And now I'm highly recommending this one to you!  The teen was right.  This one is kind of awesome.

Grace Randolph's Supurbia Vol. 1Supurbia Vol. 1
Author: Grace Randolph (author), Russell Dauterman (artist)
Info: BOOM! Studies, copyright 2012, 112 pages

This is tagged as the "'Real Housewives' of Earth's greatest super-team," but I'm not sure I agree with that comparison.  It didn't really have all that much to do with the wives.  And you don't really get to know a whole lot about any of the heroes.  So...really...not a lot happened.

Like Invincible, this isn't a group of superheroes you're familiar with.  Their a part of the "Meta Legion," a strange group of individuals including an old fella who is trying to relive his glory days, a marine trying to prove himself, an alien woman who is really mean to her children, a guy who ends up in a cocoon, and a batman-esque dude who is having an affair with his sidekick.  None of them really have any amazing powers or great personalities.  In the end, the spouses decide to create a group of their own to help, so maybe the "housewives" thing is building.

Maybe I'll continue the series.  There are a few others I want to try first, and if I can remember enough about volume one when I come back around, I'll give the rest a whirl.

Ghosted, Vol. 1: Haunted HeistGhosted : Haunted Heist Vol. 1
Author: Joshua Williamson (author), Goran Suzuka and Miroslav Mrva (artists)
Info: Image Comics, copyright 2013, 144 pages

Jackson T. Winters is a thief and con man.  He's a thief and con man that has just been broken out of jail to attempt the impossible.  Markus Schrecken is a collector of the unusual, and now he wants a special item to add to his collection, and he wants Jackson Winters to find it.  A ghost from the Trask Mansion that is known for being uber-haunted.  As Winters recruits his team (in the spirit of Ocean's 11), he has one main rule...don't get caught in the mansion after dark.

Not sure I'll continue on with this one.  The current plot line seemed complete, but I gather Winter's and his abilities might go on more capers in later volumes.  A bit creepy, and not bad, but Locke & Key does creepy a lot better.

Archie, Vol. 1: The New RiverdaleArchie : The New Riverdale Vol. 1
Author: Mark Waid (author), Fiona Staples, Annie Wu, Veronica Fish (artists)
Info: Archie Comics, copyright 2016, 176 pages

Archie has recently broken up with Betty over the "lipstick" incident, and nursing a broken heart, he decides to move on and into the arms of the new girl in school...Veronica Lodge.

The artwork is beautiful, and while it's the characters of old, they have definitely been modernized.  Archie has always been, well, just fun.  And this rebook doesn't disappoint.  Archie is still a goof and a klutz; Betty is still he girl next door that everyone falls in love with; Veronica is still the little rich girl that has a heart buried underneath all the expensive clothes;  Reggie is still a butt; and Jughead is still the guy you want as your best friend.  A must read!

Next up:

  • Army of Darkness: Ash Gets Hitched
  • Saga Vol. 6
  • iZombie Vol. 1
  • Oz Vol. 1

What do you suggest?  Happy reading!!
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Thursday, July 21, 2016

Highly Illogical Behavior

Highly Illogical BehaviorAuthor: John Corey Whaley
Info: Dial Books, copyright 2016, 256 pages

Sixteen-year-old Solomon is agoraphobic.  He hasn't left the house in three years, which is fine by him.

Ambitious Lisa desperately wants to get into the second-best psychology program for college (she's being realistic).  But is ambition alone enough to get her in?

Enter Lisa.

Determined to "fix" Sol, Lisa steps into his world, along with her charming boyfriend, Clark, and soon the three form an unexpected bond.  But, as Lisa learns more about Sol and he and Clark grow closer and closer, the walls they've built around themselves start to collapse and their friendships threaten the same.

~Goodreads Description

John Corey Whaley is really growing on me.  I enjoyed Where Things Come Back, despite the feeling like he was really trying to tell me something that I just wasn't grasping.  And Noggin was interesting and thoughtful.  But he hit it out of the park with Highly Illogical Behavior.  There was an intensity that left me nervous for the better part of the book, and it was an intensity I hadn't planned on feeling.

Simple premise.  Solomon is afraid to step outdoors.  The very thought leaves him crippled by panic attacks.  Lisa wants out of her sleepy town.  She dreams of becoming a psychologist, eager to enter a profession where she can help people.  When the college she wants to attend requires an essay about her personal relationship with mental illness, Lisa decides to take Solomon on as a case study.  If she can get him to take the giant leap outside, surely she would be a shoe-in for a full-tuition scholarship.

Of course Lisa doesn't tell Solomon about the essay.  Of course they become friends and things get complicated.

And then the story becomes beautiful.  Solomon, Lisa, and her boyfriend Clark are all lost, and flawed, and searching for something.  They're teenagers that just happen to stumble upon a friendship that will define who they become.  They are far from perfect, but they are forgiving and genuine.  And I adored them all.  Solomon with his quick wit.  Lisa with her ambition.  And Clark with his kindness and gentility.  They were all kind of awesome.

Also awesome...Solomon's parents and grandmother.  I mentioned earlier this week that I loved Howard from Love & Gelato for being a cool, supportive adult.  Well, these three adults gave him a run for his money.  Seriously, there son/grandson is a recluse.  They have every reason to be angry and frustrated.  But they've found humor in the situation and they love their son/grandson unconditionally.  They are seriously awesome.

And the finale.  I don't want to give it away, but it's very Breakfast Club.  Can't really ask for more than that.

Not too heavy, not too angsty, but full of heart.  A great contemporary read, so please read it!



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Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Love & Gelato

Love & GelatoAuthor: Jenna Evans Welch
Info: Simon Pulse, copyright 2016, 390 pages

Lina is spending the summer in Tuscany, but she isn't in the mood for Italy's famous sunshine and fairy-tale landscape.  She's only there because it was her mother's dying wish that she get to know her father.  But what kind of father isn't around for sixteen years?  All Lina wants to do is get back home.

But then she is given a journal that her mom had kept when she lived in Italy.  Suddenly Lina's uncovering a magical world of secret romances, art, and hidden bakeries.  A world that inspires Lina, along with the ever-so-charming Ren, to follow in her mother's footsteps and unearth a secret that has been kept for far too long.  It's a secret that will change everything she knew about her mother, her father - and even herself.

People come to Italy for love and gelato, someone tells her, but sometimes they discover much more.

~Goodreads Description

Lina is mourning the loss of her mother and trying to figure out why in the world she agreed to travel halfway across the world to spend the summer with a man she's never met.  In her first moments in Italy, she's counting down the days until she can go home to Seattle and stay with her best friend Addie.  And then she is given a journal that her mother wrote sixteen years before during a magical year that she lived and went to school in Florence.  Lina discovers a woman that she never knew in her mother.  A woman who loved and lost and made hard decisions.  And in the process of meeting this side of her mother for the first time, she discovers a lot about herself and who she can become if she gives Italy, and this father she has never known, a chance.

This is totally Anna and the French Kiss meets My Girl 2.  Anna because of the European setting, introduction to a quirky group of friends, and an ode to a beautiful, ancient city.   My Girl 2 because Lina, and her fast friend Lorenzo (Ren) are hunting for long lost secrets about Lina's mother, bonding along the way.  This comparison is not a bad thing.  In fact, it's a wonderful thing, because I've determined that it makes quite a lovely summertime read.

It is obvious from the get go that the author is in love with Florence, and by the end of the book, she makes you fall in love with it as well.  The history and artwork is a character in of itself, not to mention the delicious descriptions of food and gelato.  You can almost imagine yourself riding on the back of a scooter, traveling down country road that weave their way through vineyards to an ancient city with narrow streets that are shaded by laundry hanging from window sills above.  Sigh.  I have had the amazing fortune of traveling to Florence, but now I long to return.

As for the characters.  I want to start with my favorite, because he is, by far, my favorite adult featured in a teen book thus far in 2016 (actually maybe one of my favorites of all time).  Howard, the giant Southern with a heart of gold reminds me A LOT of Liam Neeson's character in Love Actually.  He obviously cares deeply about Lina, but he also lets her live.  He trusts her and talks to her and becomes a confidant.  His genuine kindness just blew me away, and I SO want to go stay with him in his cemetery home.

He did luck out with Lina.  Despite being dealt a rather harsh hand early in life, she's not a rebel.  The death of her mother didn't make her mean or, well, rude.  She's hurting, but she's discovering in a healthy way, surrounded by healthy adults and healthy peers.  This is a hopeful, light book that is endearing.  She is a confident, outspoken young woman, and by the end, I imagine her growing up to take the world by storm.

And Ren.  Well, Ren is the boy you wish you had met in a foreign country at sixteen.  He's a friend first.  A wonderful friend.  And unsurprisingly he becomes more in the end.  But he's also responsible and honest, a lovingly afraid of Howard.

As for the secondary characters...they were woefully underdeveloped and underutilized.  Minus one plot point, the "group" didn't add to the story at all.  I can get past that though, but I genuinely enjoyed this book and its setting.

If you're looking for something light and not angsty, pick up this adorable summertime romance, and pretend you're taking a vacation in Italy, sitting in a piazza and eating gelato (it really is heavenly).


Tuesday, July 19, 2016

10 Books Set Outside the US

Ten Books Set Outside the U.S.
(Feature hosted by The Broke and the Bookish)

There were no stipulations besides the "U.S." thing, but I didn't let myself go crazy.  I chose to stay away from magical lands that are technically not in America, and stuck with realistic fiction (for the most part).  I did, however, take full advantage of teen travel titles that send the characters on a journey through Europe to find themselves or some great truth.

What's on your list?  Happy reading!


1) Anna and the French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins (France)

2) A Time to Dance by Padma Venkatraman (India)

Love & Gelato
3) Love & Gelato by Jenna Evans Welch (Italy)

13 Little Blue Envelopes (Little Blue Envelope, #1)
4) 13 Little Blue Envelopes by Maureen Johnson (Europe)

5) Just One Day by Gayle Forman (Europe)

6) The Good Braider by Terry Farish (Sudan)

7) Between Shades of Gray by Ruta Sepetys (Lithuania/Siberia)

8) Code Name Verity by Elizabeth Wein (England/France)

The Royal We
9) The Royal We by Heather Cocks (England)

10) The Martian by Andy Weir (Mars)
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Monday, July 18, 2016

Their Fractured Light

Their Fractured Light (Starbound, #3)Author: Amie Kaufman and Meagan Spooner
Info: Disney-Hyperion, copyright 2015, 425 pages

A year ago, Flynn Cormac and Jubilee Chase made the now infamous Avon Broadcast, calling on the galaxy to witness for their planet, and protect them from destruction.  Some say Flynn's a madman, others whisper about conspiracies.  Nobody knows the truth.  A year before that, Tarver Merendsen and Lilac LaRoux were rescued from a terrible shipwreck - now, they live a public life in front of the cameras, and a secret life away from the world's gaze.

Now, in the center of the universe on the planet of Corinth, all four are about to collide with two new players, who will bring the fight against LaRoux Industries to a head.  Gideon Marchant is an eighteen-year-old computer hacker - a whiz kid and an urban warrior.  He'll climb, abseil and worm his way past the best security measures to pull off onsite hacks that others don't dare touch.

Sofia Quinn has a killer smile, and by the time you're done noticing it, she's got you offering up your wallet, your car, and anything else she desires.  She holds LaRoux Industries responsible for the mysterious death of her father and is out for revenge at any cost.

When a LaRoux Industries security breach interrupts Gideon and Sofia's separate attempts to infiltrate their headquarters, they're forced to work together to escape.  Each of them has their own reason for wanting to take down LaRoux Industries, and neither trusts the other.  But working together might be the best chance they have to expose the secrets LRI is so desperate to hide.

~Goodreads Description

The conclusion.  The grand finale.  The many pieces coming together to form a beautiful, cautionary tale about the consequences of seeking power and dangers of oppression.  I told you, people.  I told you it was all going to make sense in the end.  The bouncing between characters - the jumping between planets - the whispers...it all (well mostly) made beautiful sense (generally sensible) in the end.

(So the parenthetical commentary...let me explain.  No, there is too much.  Let me sum up (got distracted there thinking about the Princess Bride.  Is it inappropriate to do a parenthetical comment inside of a parenthetical comment?) Back to the explaining - I found the end a wee bit confusing.  I mean, I mean, I knew what was going on, but the details eluded me a bit.)

We leave Flynn and Jubilee as ambassadors on Avon, defending the survival of their planet, and head to Corinth for this final installment.  We met Sofia back in This Shattered World, her father meeting an untimely and horrific death.  She has been hopping around the galaxy, trying to escape the Knave of Hearts, a hacker that seems set on finding her and uncovering her true identity.  She is dead set on taking down LaRoux Industries at an cost to avenge her father.  In one such attempt she meets Gideon Marchant, a hacker with a secret.  Gideon has his own reasons to hate LaRoux.  Together they scheme and strategize a way to bring down the mogul.  And as the entire cast of characters come together, they realize they are stronger together than they ever were apart.

I didn't really like Sofia has much as I came to like Jubilee and Lilac.  Not sure why.  She seemed a bit whinier, a bit less self-sufficient despite her abilities to con people out of their money.  Or maybe it was her stubborn distrust of everyone and an almost tiring inner-dialogue about her feelings toward Gideon.  Gideon, on the other hand, I liked.  He was compassionate and thoughtful, vulnerable yet strong.

About halfway through the book, I realized that it reminded me a lot of Marissa Meyer's Lunar Chronicles.  Not in plot, but design.  Each book a new setting and list of characters, and in the end everyone and everything coming together for the ultimate climax.   And I realized that I like this format.  It keeps the reader in invested.  The fun is waiting to see how everything fits, hoping you caught all of the little intricacies that make the ending worth it.

This series is very heavily character driven.  The authors introduce you to a varying group of personalities, and they put them in a very extraordinary situation.  They do get to space again...briefly...and I enjoyed the conversation about imperialism and oppression.  Not sure if that is what they were intending the conversation to be about, but that's where my head went.

This series is worth the read.  It's fun, romantical, and thoughtful.  And it fills the time until Kaufman's Illuminae sequel (Gemina) arrives in October.


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Thursday, July 14, 2016

Library GrabBag: #GPLtalk July 2016

Three crazy librarians got together to talk about their summer reading lists and upcoming programs they are super psyched about at the library!

Wednesday, July 13, 2016

This Shattered World

This Shattered World (Starbound, #2)Author: Amie Kaufman and Meagan Spooner
Info: Disney-Hyperion, copyright 2014, 390 pages

The second installment in the epic Starbound trilogy introduces a new pair of star-crossed lovers on two sides of a bloody war.

Jubilee Chase and Flynn Cormac should never have met.

Lee is captain of the forces sent to Avon to crush the terraformed planet's rebellious colonists, but she has her own reasons for hating the insurgents.

Rebellion is in Flynn's blood. Terraforming corporations make their fortune by recruiting colonists to make the inhospitable planets livable, with the promise of a better life for their children. But they never fulfilled their promise on Avon, and decades later, Flynn is leading the rebellion.

Desperate for any advantage in a bloody and unrelentingly war, Flynn does the only thing that makes sense when he and Lee cross paths: he returns to base with her as prisoner. But as his fellow rebels prepare to execute this tough-talking girl with nerves of steel, Flynn makes another choice that will change him forever. He and Lee escape the rebel base together, caught between two sides of a senseless war.

~Goodreads Description

In These Broken Stars, Lilac LaRoux and Tarver Merendsen escape the terrifying wreck of the space liner, Icarus, and uncover a mysterious race of "beings" being persecuted by Lilac's mogul father.  The story continues on a new planet with new pieces moving toward a very dramatic end.  Avon is a planet plagued by war.  Flynn Cormac is looking for a peaceful way to end the bloodshed and save his planet and people from destruction.  Avon hasn't progressed through the terraforming process as quickly as it should, and Flynn wants to know why.  Jubilee Chase is the military hero that everyone fears.  She's a soldier, obeying commands and doing what is necessary to keep her men alive.  When the "whispers"that saved Lilac's life appear on Avon, the two enemies discover that, in the end, they're fighting for the same thing.

I always have a bit of a problem when a series changes voices with each book.  I had gotten to know Lilac and Tarver, adore Lilac and Tarver, and trust Lilac and Tarver.  But all of the sudden I'm dropped onto Avon, knowing no one, and wondering how in the world everything is going to come together.  Jubilee and Flynn grew on me though, Flynn in particular.  He's a good man.  Despite a horrible lot in life, he maintains hope.  Jubilee was a little more difficult to get to know.  She was guarded and complicated.  In the end, she made a decision using her heart and not her instincts which was noble.

The love story seemed a little too convenient and easy in this series sequel just as it had in its predecessor, but the conflict and tension is definitely heightened.  The stakes are building and a tipping point felt near at the end of the book.  There is little to no development for secondary characters, but interesting facts are revealed about both Jubilee and Flynn through the interludes between chapters.  The "whispers" are real, present, and observant.  And they're mad.

Still very little to do with space, but I've come to like this terraforming thing.

(I wrote this whole thing without getting weird or gushing about Amie Kaufman.  Wasn't easy!)


Tuesday, July 12, 2016

10 Facts About Me

Ten Facts About Me
(Feature hosted by The Broke and the Bookish)

General Facts
1) I'm an aunt to a precious little creature named after a movie character.
Meet "Wonder Boy" Roy Hobbs!
(I know...he's kind of a stud)

2) This is my cowardly canine, Luna Lovegood, and occasionally adorable cat, Nellie.
Luna loves Nellie.
Nellie hates Luna.
Good times.

3) I have only every worked in a library.
It has been 18 years.
I'm only 34.

4) I make popcorn at least three times a week.
And I make more than I can eat in a sitting.
So, basically, I eat popcorn every day.

5) I am compiling a bucket list of ridiculous things I want to do before I die that includes 
 * see a Moose in its natural habitat
* have a conversation with someone who believes they have been abducted by an alien
* play tambourine onstage at a concert
* hug an elephant
* hold a baby pygmy goat. 

Bookish / Blogger Facts

6) I don't like to read "classic" literature.   
I do it because I feel like I should do it, but I don't like it.  
Still planning on reading Crime and Punishment at some point this year.
But I'm not excited about it. 

7) I choose audiobooks by the reader.
If the reader has an accent, the more likely I am to listen from beginning to end.

8) I am terribly at proofreading my blog posts. :)

9) I LOVE adding parenthetical commentary
(which I'm sure amuses me more than my readers)

10) Blogging has given me the confidence to branch out and try to write fiction.
(Not saying my fiction is good...it's actually kind of bad.  But I like the challenge)
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Thursday, July 7, 2016

Modern Romance

Modern RomanceAuthor: Aziz Ansari
Info: Penguin Press, copyright 2015, 277 pages

A hilarious, thoughtful, and in-depth exploration of the pleasures and perils of modern romance from one of this generation’s sharpest comedic voices

At some point, every one of us embarks on a journey to find love. We meet people, date, get into and out of relationships, all with the hope of finding someone with whom we share a deep connection. This seems standard now, but it’s wildly different from what people did even just decades ago. Single people today have more romantic options than at any point in human history. With technology, our abilities to connect with and sort through these options are staggering. So why are so many people frustrated?

~Goodreads Description

This is my first book written by a comedian this year :)  Took me awhile.  I think I've been powering through most of the popular memoir/commentaries over the last couple of years.  I've got a Nick Offerman title on my wish list, so don't be surprised if you see another review in the not too distant future.

Modern Romance was a little different than your run-of-the-mill celebrity book.  It had very little to do with author Aziz Ansari personally, which was both refreshing and disappointing all at the same time.  Instead, it was a commentary on the state of contemporary romance, the frustrations and successes of internet dating, and the struggles of connecting with another human being.  There was also a LOT of conversation about food.  Apparently Ansari is always hungry.  And while I was relatively impressed with his research on the topic, decent in scope and purpose with a well-timed explanation that the information provided is not meant to be exhaustive, it's not really what I wanted from him.

I chose the book because it was written by a comedian I adore from Parks & Recreation.  And while it is very clearly written in his "voice", I missed the personal stories and anecdotes that I came to love in Bossypants, Yes, Please, and Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me?  In the end, I didn't really want to hear about "modern romance" from Aziz Ansari.  His commentary was sprinkled throughout, but next to the "scientific" findings of the interviews and forums he conducted, it sometimes just seemed off or overly...harsh?  crude?  (I mean, it was crude at times, but that did surprise or offend me per say) just didn't fit?  I guess that's it.  In the end it just didn't seem to fit.

Perhaps I just wanted something different.  Not sure.  Not that it wasn't worth the read (especially the audiobook.  Definitely wouldn't have been the same without his voice in my ear), but maybe I've just been listening to too many other similar titles of late.

If you like Ansari, listen.  If you don't, maybe pick up Bossypants.  If you're interested in why internet dating works for some and not others, give it a listen.  It's not a guide book by any means, but it does have some heart and quite a bit of hope.


Wednesday, July 6, 2016

These Broken Stars

These Broken Stars (Starbound, #1)Author: Amie Kaufman and Meagan Spooner
Info: Disney Hyperion, copyright 2013, 374 pages

Luxury spaceliner Icarus suddenly plummets from hyperspace into the nearest planet. Lilac LaRoux and Tarver Merendsen survive – alone. Lilac is the daughter of the richest man in the universe. Tarver comes from nothing, a cynical war hero. Both journey across the eerie deserted terrain for help. Everything changes when they uncover the truth.

The Starbound Trilogy: Three worlds. Three love stories. One enemy.

~Goodreads Description

I am now completely on the Amie Kaufman bandwagon.  I mean, I was kind of on board after Illumine, but now, powering through her Starbound series co-authored with Meagan Spooner, I'm thinking about conducting the wagon.  (That made NO sense at all and was completely ridiculous.  I apologize.  What I meant to say is that I'm a full-fledged fan.  See how easy that was?  Not sure why I couldn't just lead with that, but so it goes.)

The Goodreads description sums it up pretty well.  Spaceship crashes leaving socialite, Lilac LaRoux, stranded on a mysterious planet with military hero Tarver Merendsen.  At first they can't stand one another, but it's a fight for survival, and there are feels.

This isn't quite the "space" fiction I'd been hoping for.  It starts out in space, on a spaceship (which feels a little bit like the ship in The Fifth Element with Ruby Rhod walking around schmoozing with the elite acting a little crazy), but then the ship crashes, and there is no more space...which made me sad.  Because I like space, but I am now pretty interested in the concept of terraforming (what I take to mean preparing a new planet for human life).  So no more space.  And at first glance, the romance between Lilac and Tarver is pretty superficial.  There's a lot of swooning over the ridiculous and "I shouldn't feel this way...but I do" inner-dialogue that was on the verge of exhausting.

But...

But despite its faults (and after continuing on with the series), it's kind of brilliant.  Lilac is a whiny rich girl, expect she isn't.  She has layers (like an ogre ~ okay, I really need to stop.  Not sure what is wrong with me with this review...)  Despite the wealth and power of her father, Lilac is a girl who is looking for love and acceptance and isn't afraid to get her hands dirty.  She's fierce and stubborn.  She's independent and thoughtful.  She trusts herself, and while she doesn't trust Tarver at first, she becomes an ally instead of a damsel in distress.

Tarver is a little more one-dimensional (a.k.a. the boy has fewer layers).  He's a war hero trying to get home.  He's a war hero who doesn't want to be seen as the hero.  He's a war hero who doesn't like the spotlight.  And he just so happens to fall in love with the last girl in the universe that he should look at.

The ending is confusing, and I would love to explain, but I don't want to give too much away.  While I'm not opposed to spoilers, I appreciate an aversion to them.  I've read some reviews that go on about the confusing ending, and it's true.  But it's the first in a series and the confusion has a purpose.  The world building seems to flounder just a bit because this is only stage one.  The authors don't want you to get too comfortable; this is only ONE world in the grander scheme of things.  They are setting the stage, introducing the larger conflict, and preparing you for the ride.  That's why I liked the story (albeit moreso after reading books two and three).

Lilac and Tarver's survival and the world they discover brings to light a terrible reality that weaves its way through the entire series.  There really is conspiracy and foul play and it's worth the read to watch it unfold.  And there are the feels.  Because in the end, despite the high-schoolesque beginning to their romance, the feels are real.

So feel the feels, and read the series, and join me on the Amie Kaufman wagon that is a little weird cause apparently I'm driving now, whatever that means.

Sidenote:  Not sure what is up with the cover.  Or all of the covers in the series for that matter.  Kind of silly and doesn't really convey any of the grit that is within he story.


Tuesday, July 5, 2016

10 Books I Enjoyed With Under 2,000 Goodreads Ratings

Ten Books I Enjoyed With Under
2,000 Goodreads Ratings
(Feature hosted by The Broke and the Bookish)

It was fun to go back and look at the ratings on some of the books I've read and loved.  I tried to keep newer books off the list, wanting to give them time to get the ratings they deserve.  So, you're welcome.  I'm not going to gush about My Lady Jane again.  (Have you read it yet?  Why not?  Go read it!!!!!!) 

Here are 10 titles that didn't get the ratings they deserve.  Go check one out at your local library, and lets see those ratings go up!

(259 ratings)  I enjoyed "space fiction" before this book, but I LOVED it after.  It sparked my current reading obsession.  Both witty and exciting like Douglas Adams's The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, this could very well be your new favorite :)

2) Two Parties, One Tux, and a Very Short Film about the Grapes of Wrath by Steven Goldman
(469 ratings) An underappreciated gem about friendship.  The first chapter had me rolling with laughter and it kept getting better after that.

3) Cupid: A Tale of Love by Julius Lester
(736 ratings) The first Julius Lester book I read, but definitely not the last.  This one was light and romantical (as a story about cupid should be :)) 

4) Shutter by Courtney Alameda
(1,530 ratings) This one deserves SO many more ratings.  It's still "newish" so there's time.  It's creepy, and scary, and extremely exciting.  You should totally read this one, or wait until October for a spooky Halloween read.

5) Mothership by Martin Leicht and Isla Neal
(1,059 ratings) Sigh.  I book talk this one to death, but I can never get a teen to read it.  It does make its way off the shelves on occasion, but I never get the opportunity to share my love with someone who has read it.  So, maybe you could read it so we can talk...

6) The Accidental Highwayman by Ben Tripp
(1,582 ratings) Not my most favorite book ever, but worth a read.  A boy disguised as a highwayman and a faerie princess on the run from evil forces.  Yeah - it's worth a read.

7) The New Policeman by Kate Thompson
(1,919 ratings)  Just made the cut :)  I have a completely understandable obsession with Ireland (what with the fancy accents, lush scenery, and interesting folklore).  What happens when you find yourself in Tir na nOg, the land of the fairies, where time isn't on your side?

8) Jenna & Jonah's Fauxmance by Brendan Halpin
(1,520 ratings) The romance seemed real on their popular TV show, but in real life, Jenna and Jonah's romance is one big publicity stunt.  It's fluff, yes, but it's fun fluff.

9) Wonder Show by Hannah Barnaby
(1,413 ratings) A heartbreaking coming-of-age story with one of the most terrifying villains I've come across.  A beautiful debut by Hannah Barnaby.

10) If We Survive by Andrew Klavan
(1,253 ratings) This was a fast-paced, edge-of-your-seat adventure about a group of teens on a mission trip in Costa Verde caught in a deadly revolution.  The jungle is a very scary place, especially when you're being hunted by militant revolutionaries.

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