Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Spelled | Wanted


Author: Betsy Schow
Info: Sourcebooks Fire, copyright 2015, 345 pages

Fairy Tale Survival Rule #32: If you find yourself at the mercy of a wicked witch, sing a romantic ballad and wait for your prince Charming to save the day.

Yeah, no thanks.  Dorthea is completely prince out.  Sure being the crown princess of Emerald has its perks - like Glenda Original ball gowns and Hans Christian Louboutin heels.  But a forced marriage to the brooding prince Kato is so not what Dorthea had in mind of her enchanted future

Talk about unhappily ever after.

WantedTrying to fix her prince problem by wishing on a (cursed) star royally backfires, leaving the kingdom in chaos and her parents stuck in some place called "Kansas."  Now it's up to Dorthea and her pixed off prince to find the mysterious Wizard of Oz and undo the curse...before it releases the wickedest witch of all and spells The End for the world of Story.

~Goodreads Description

Sigh.  I adore this series.  Sure, it's not the highest quality literature you will ever read, but there's something to be said about a genuinely fun romp through a land of imagination.  In fact, this is the kind of story I would like to write - a funny, creative story that is both familiar and new.

Schow turns the Wizard of Oz on its head with crown princess Dorothea, a stuck-up snob of a royal who is haunted by a curse that promises the destruction of her entire kingdom.  In a fit of teen angst, Dorthea wishes on a wishing star and sends the world of Story into complete chaos.  In an attempt to fix magic itself, she faces a number of familiar individuals, finds love, and causes a substantial amount of trouble.

Schow offers some cheap, predictable thrills, but weaves in hilarious dialogue that doesn't go too kitschy, fun-loving characters, and enough adventure to keep the story moving at a steady pace.  The second in the series picks up almost immediately after the first, switching focus to one of Dorthea's sidekicks, Rexi, daughter of Robin Hood, in a surprising turn of events.

After all of the heavy-handed realistic fiction I've been reading this year, Betsy Schow was a breath of fresh air, getting me back to my fantasy-loving reading tastes.  It also stirred in me a desire to get writing again.  Whether or not that actually happens has yet to be seen, but for now I'm content to dream of storybook lands and wait patiently for book three.

Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Top 10 Most Anticipated Books for the Second Half of 2017

Top 10 Most Anticipated Books for the Second Half of 2017

Well this was an easy list to put together.  Thank you Goodreads and your ability to sort my "to-read" list by publication date!  Thank goodness these are coming out this fall so that I'm not distracted from my "Summer of Sarah Dessen" and the WILL BE FINISHED reading list I put together last week.

What are you looking forward to reading this fall?

1) Artemis by Andy Weir
Release Date: Nov 14, 2017

Retribution Rails
2) Retribution Falls by Erin Bowman
Release Date: Nov 7, 2017

3) Renegades by Marissa Meyer
Release Date: Nov 7, 2017
All the Crooked Saints
4) All the Crooked Saints by Maggie Stiefvater
Release Date: Oct 10, 2017

The Language of Thorns: Midnight Tales and Dangerous Magic
5) The Language of Thorns: Midnight Tales and Dangerous Magic by Leigh Bardugo
Release Date: Sept 26, 2017

There's Someone Inside Your House
6) There's Someone Inside Your House by Stephanie Perkins
Release Date: Sept 26, 2017

Speak Easy, Speak Love
7) Speak Easy, Speak Love by McKelle George
Release Date: Sept 19, 2017

Warcross (Warcross, #1)
8) Warcross by Marie Lu
Release Date: Sept 12, 2017

They Both Die at the End
9) They Both Die int he End by Adam Silvera
Release Date: Sept 5, 2017

Genuine Fraud
10) Genuine Fraud by E. Lockhart
Release Date: Sept 5, 2017 

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

10 Books On My Summer To-Read List

10 Books On My Summer To-Read List

This is it.  This is the list that I actually finish.  It's just ten books.  It can be done.  I have the will power to only read these books and not get distracted by something new and shiny.  Seriously.  I can do this.  (She said for the hundredth time - but who knows...maybe this IS the list that I actually finish :)

What's on your summer reading list?

Once and for All
1) Once and For All by Sarah Dessen

The Unexpected Everything
2) The Unexpected Everything by Morgan Matson

Duels and Deception
3) Duels and Deception by Cindy Anstey

The Night the Lights Went Out

Starfall (Starflight, #2)
5) Starfall by Melissa Landers

And We're Off
6) And We're Off byDana Schwartz

Summer House
7) Summer House by Nancy Thayer

Gem & Dixie
8) Gem & Dixie by Sara Zarr

The Comet Seekers
9) The Comet Seekers by Helen Sedgwick

The Valiant (The Valiant, #1)
10)  The Valiant by Lesley Livingston

Monday, May 22, 2017

The Hate U Give

The Hate U GiveAuthor: Angie Thomas
Info: Balzer & Bray/Harperteen, copyright 2017, 453 pages

Sixteen-year-old Starr Carter moves between two worlds: the poor neighborhood where she lives and the fancy suburban prep school she attends. The uneasy balance between these worlds is shattered when Starr witnesses the fatal shooting of her childhood best friend Khalil at the hands of a police officer. Khalil was unarmed.

Soon afterward, his death is a national headline. Some are calling him a thug, maybe even a drug dealer and a gangbanger. Protesters are taking to the streets in Khalil's name. Some cops and the local drug lord try to intimidate Starr and her family. What everyone wants to know is: what really went down that night? And the only person alive who can answer that is Starr.

But what Starr does or does not say could upend her community. It could also endanger her life.

~Goodreads Description

The Hate U Give was a pleasant surprise - a book that received a lot of hype that was actually worthy of the praise.  There are many authors who sacrifice character development and plot for a soapbox - intent on ramming an idea or conversation down your throat instead of trusting in the sincerity of the story and the intelligence of the reader to fully understand the importance of their message.

Thomas gets it right with a diverse cast of characters that you come to care a about and story that is difficult to read while remaining genuine.  Starr Carter moves between two worlds, but they are both believable worlds - her neighborhood that, despite a history of violence, is filled with compassionate and interesting characters that create a community, and the prep school she attends filled with teens who don't always say or do the right thing and are imperfectly finding their way.

Angie Thomas has created a compassionate story of a girl dealing with loss, a community trying to understand and come to terms with a terrible injustice, and a struggle of loyalty.  Starr feels helpless through most of the book until she finds her voice and realizes that is the most important weapon she will every possess.  As Starr comes to find out, finding your voice can sometimes be easier said than done, but that's what I appreciate about her story.  She had to find the strength on her own, and she also learns to let go, even when its a friendship that you've cherished for a long time.

The Hate U Give was good.  It was very good.  Thomas could have easily created a cliche story about a hot button topic, but instead she took the time to develop characters and an event that are so much more than they seem.  Can't recommend highly enough.

Monday, May 15, 2017

Library GrabBag: July Teen Programming Inspiration

It's calendar time!  DEMCO recently released the July Teen Programming calendar on their Ideas and Inspiration blog.  If you haven't visited their lovely site before, it is stocked full of interesting articles on library programming, marketing, and design.  There are also some awesome calendars available to spark programming inspiration (but then again, I'm kind of biased).

 Click here for a link to the blog and printable copies of the calendar

Thursday, May 11, 2017

Empress of a Thousand Skies

Empress of a Thousand Skies (Empress of a Thousand Skies, #1)Author: Rhoda Belleza
Info: Razorbill, copyright 2017, 314 pages


The only surviving heir to an ancient Kalusian dynasty, RHEE has spent her life training to destroy the people who killed her family. Now, on the eve of her coronation, the time has finally come for Rhee to claim her throne - and her revenge.

ALYOSHA is a Wraetan who has risen above his war refugee origins to find fame as the dashing star of a DroneVision show. Despite his popularity, Aly struggles with anti-Wraetan prejudices and the pressure of being perfect in the public eye.

Their paths collide with one brutal act of violence: Rhee is attacked, barely escaping with her life. Aly is blamed for her presumed murder.

The princess and her accused killer are forced to go into hiding - even as a war between planets is waged in Rhee's name. But soon, Rhee and Aly discover that the assassination attempt is just one part of a sinister plot. Bound together by an evil that only they can stop, the two fugitives must join forces to save the galaxy.

~Goodreads Description

We all know the saying "if you can't say something nice, don't say anything at all."  I'm going to keep brief.

Rhee = scorned, orphaned princess out for revenge.  Alyosha = reality TV star/war refugee in over his head and accused of Rhee's murder even though she's not dead.  There's a shifty guy who wants to start a war and a guy following Rhee around that I feel like we learned absolutely nothing about.  And that's about all I've got in the way of a description.

This book was a bit of a hot mess.  The plot was confusing, there was little character development, and it tricked me into believing that it was space fiction.  I don't like to be tricked.  For a storyline rather large in scope and hinging on past events, very little was actually explained.  That, paired with the not really liking or understanding the motivations of any of the characters, left me underwhelmed.

The cover is pretty though - so there is something nice said.  I don't think I'll be continuing on in the series, but if you like audiobooks read by Rebecca Solar, you might give it a try.

Tuesday, May 9, 2017

10 Things On My Reading Wishlist

 Ten Things On My Reading Wishlist

All the books.  All the books are on my reading wishlist.  Well...I'm a little over "dead siblings," but as long as there isn't a talking animal I'm game.

Here are 10 things I definitely want to see more of:

1) Space - Legit space.  With spaceships and space battles and cool planets at the edge of the cosmos.

2) Morgan Matson - I'm getting a new Sarah Dessen book this summer, but it would be so nice to also be getting a new Morgan Matson.

3) Quirky circuses - Preferably of the "Night Circus" variety, but I'm flexible.

4) Road trips with music playlists - Again with the Morgan Matson, but I LOVED that addition to Amy & Roger's Epic Detour

5) Aliens - As far as I'm concerned there aren't enough aliens in teen fiction

6) Secret societies in Prague - I love the historical hunt for information while characters are being chased by shifty, violent evil people.  Yes.  I know how that sounds.  But I'd love to see more like Elizabeth Kostova's The Historian or Robin Wasserman's The Book of Blood and Shadow.

7) Steampunk - Don't you think world just needs a little more steampunk?  Adventure in airships, cool weaponry, characters with manners.  Yep.  Steampunk.

8) The 1920s - Flappers, prohibition, jazz music, and a mystery around every corner.

9) Countdowns - I haven't read a good countdown book since Michael Crichton's Timeline.  The countdown increases the tension and usually makes me a nervous wreck.

10) The Darkling - Or maybe just more villains like Leigh Bardugo's Darkling.  Suave, charming, and deadly.  You can't help but love them just a little bit (even though they would totally kill you at the first chance)

What's on your list?

Monday, May 8, 2017

By Your Side

By Your SideAuthor: Kasie West
Info: Harper Teen, copyright 2017, 346 pages

When Autumn Collins finds herself accidentally locked in the library for an entire weekend, she doesn’t think things could get any worse. But that’s before she realizes that Dax Miller is locked in with her. Autumn doesn’t know much about Dax except that he’s trouble. Between the rumors about the fight he was in (and that brief stint in juvie that followed it) and his reputation as a loner, he’s not exactly the ideal person to be stuck with. Still, she just keeps reminding herself that it is only a matter of time before Jeff, her almost-boyfriend, realizes he left her in the library and comes to rescue her.

Only he doesn’t come. No one does.

Instead it becomes clear that Autumn is going to have to spend the next couple of days living off vending-machine food and making conversation with a boy who clearly wants nothing to do with her. Except there is more to Dax than meets the eye. As he and Autumn first grudgingly, and then not so grudgingly, open up to each other, Autumn is struck by their surprising connection. But can their feelings for each other survive once the weekend is over and Autumn’s old life, and old love interest, threaten to pull her from Dax’s side?

~Goodreads Description

Kasie West, you had me at "accidentally locked in the library," but then you went and lost me on the execution.  I wanted so much to love this book.  Isn't it a book lover's dream to get locked somewhere with the source of your nerdiness at your fingertips?  A whole night (or weekend in this case) to sit and read without interruption?  But I think working in a library ruined this one for me - or more specifically my director ruined it for me :)  Over the last couple of years I've learned a lot about maintaining a building - cleaning floors, monitoring an HVAC, security systems.  This is great knowledge to have for my position, but I have found that it is seeping into my "everyday" life.  Like going to the Guggenheim in NYC and getting distracted by the state of their terrazzo instead of admiring the artwork on the walls.  Work hazard I suppose.

But that's what drove me NUTS about this book.  This library is unsafe.  Like, has serious security issues.  All of the public doors should have had crash bars so patrons could get out in the case of an emergency.  No one should really be able to get locked in.  Sneak in and stay, yes, but held against your will.  No.  And where were the telephones?!  How are librarians answering phone calls at the Reference Desk?

It all just seemed extremely implausible, which was a shame, because By Your Side has a bit of a While You Were Sleeping vibe.  Autumn has been crushing on Jeff forever, and just when she thinks something could happen between them, she goes and gets herself locked in the library with a mysterious-loner dude.  They connect through relatively little conversation, and while they don't hang in the same circles at school, they find that they are drawn to one another even after the weekend ends.  Autumn must choose between the boy she as adored for years and the one that has just stolen her heart.  (Oh...Jeff was in a car accident at the beginning of the book and spends the first part of the story in a coma - so While You Were Sleeping).

Thi sis my second Kasie West attempt.  P.S. I Like You left me underwhelmed, but I was hoping that it was just a one-time thing.  I don't think it is.  When you've seen contemporary, romantic teen fiction done really well, anything less just feels "eh".  I can definitely see the appeal of her work though, which means that I'm still going to be recommending her titles for the teens who love a good, sappy romance.

Friday, May 5, 2017

A Summer of Dessen

I feel like it has been forever since I've written a blog post!  It was just one of those kinds of weeks, dear readers.  The kind of week where you feel like Monday should be Thursday and every day is both super long and super short.  It was also the kind of week where it felt like I was running around like a chicken with its head cut off, but got absolutely nothing done.

So I'm taking a breath and writing a post.  Because I both want to and need to so that I can keep my sanity.

This summer Jessica over at Book Plots & Polka Dots and I are embarking on "A Summer of Sarah Dessen."  The plan is to read all of her books in publication order and sit down to discuss them for no particular reason other than that we want to and love her books.  The year has felt heavy with tough hitting realistic fiction and lots of talk about suicide with the Thirteen Reasons Why Netflix show, and we are in desperate need of happy.  And Sarah Dessen makes us happy.

Here's the schedule, just in case you want to read along with us.  We'll be meeting at the Jockamo's in Greenwood at 12pm on the dates listed if you want to join the conversation.  We'd love to spread some Sarah love around Greenwood!
  • May 30th we're discussing That Summer and Someone Like You.
  • June 13th we're discussing Keeping the Moon and Dreamland.
  • July 3rd we're discussing This Lullaby and The Truth About Forever.
  • August 15th we're discussing Along for the Ride and What Happened to Goodbye.
  • September 5th we're discussing The Moon and More and Saint Anything.
  • And September 19th we're discussing her new release Once and For All.
Do you have any fun reading plans this summer?
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