Waiting on Wednesday: Devil and the Bluebird by Jennifer Mason-Black

Waiting on Wednesday is a topic hosted by Breaking the Spine, where bloggers post about books that they are looking forward to being published in the near future 🙂

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Devil and the Bluebird is described as a YA take on the “Deal with the Devil” folklore.  In this novel, Blue Riley has been struggling to come to terms with her mother’s loss to cancer.  Amidst this struggle she comes across a devil who she makes a deal with, in order to save her sister who has runaway.  After making this deal, Blue strikes out west with the bare necessities, a guitar, and a pair of magical shoes that she hopes will help her find her sister.

From the description and cover of this book I get a bit of an Americana/Appalachian vibe that I am very excited about.  I can’t wait to see how Moson-Black depicts this rare retelling!!

Devil and the Bluebird is published by Amulet Books, and comes out on May 17th, 2016.

 

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Review: Front Lines by Michael Grant

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Front Lines (Soldier Girl, #1)

by Michael Grant

Rating: 3.5/5 stars

Front Lines is an alternate history of World War II, exploring what could have happened if women were allowed to fight on the front lines of battle.  This is a multiple perspective book that details the lives of 3 girls who have enlisted for a variety of reasons.  One is a black medic, who must overcome sexism as well as racism in order to serve her country.  Second is a Jewish girl from New York, who works in army intelligence. And the third perspective, is from a girl who is forced to re-examine who she believes she is in order to accept her new talents to further the USA’s goals in Europe.  All three of these girls have very different experiences, and provide the reader with a glimpse into previously unexplored possibilities while still accurately describing the true horrors of war.

Review:  I received this ARC from EpicReads! in exchange for an honest review.  I have mentioned this book previously on my blog and was very excited to finally read it.  Within the first couple of pages, I fell a little bit in love with this story.  It opens with an unknown, almost omniscient, narrator who introduces the characters to the reader.  It gave me chills and reminded me a lot of the narrator used in The Book Thief.  However, I was a little disappointed to discover that this narration occurs for only about 10 pages of the entire novel.

I also would have loved to hear more from the perspective of the soldier working in intelligence throughout part I of the novel, when they are receiving their training.  This was such a unique perspective and I feel like it could have used more fleshing out and attention.

Although the beginning of the novel dragged a bit in some places, I was really impressed with Grant’s writing during the conflict scenes, and started flying through pages once Part II arrived.  Now that the girls have officially transitioned into combat life, I could easily see myself enjoying the next installment of this series.  I found this to be a great start to a very intriguing series.

Waiting on Wednesday: Stone Field by Christy Lenzi

Waiting on Wednesday is a topic hosted by Breaking the Spine, where bloggers post about books that they are looking forward to being published in the near future 🙂

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This week’s WoW book is Stone Field by Christy Lenzi!

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Stone Field is a historical fiction retelling of Wuthering Heights. Set right before the Civil War, it is a love story about Catrina and Stonefield.  They first meet when Catrina stumbles upon a man with no memory of who he is or what he was doing before they met each other.

Despite the war, the town’s opinion, or Stonefield’s amnesia, the two fall in love and want nothing more than to live by themselves and shut out the horrors that come with war.  However, the past doesn’t disappear, and with war approaching, events are set in motion that are out of Catrina and Stonefield’s hands.

This book seems to capture the spooky mystery of Wuthering Heights really well, and I can’t wait to see what has been adapted and imagined to make Stone Field it’s own intriguing read.

Stone Field comes out March 29th 2016, and is published by Roaring Books Press.

Review: Second Chance Summer by Morgan Matson

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Second Chance Summer

Author: Morgan Matson

Rating: 5/5 Stars

Having gone several years without spending the summer at their lake house, Taylor’s family has slowly drifted apart after getting caught up in the everyday grind.  Now with her father facing an aggressive cancer diagnosis, its his wish to return to their summer home once more.  While Taylor clearly understands her father’s reasoning behind this decision it is something she is not looking forward to.

5 years earlier, Taylor left the lake on bad terms with the only friends she had there.  She tries not to think about the poor decisions she made, but upon arrival is immediately confronted with all of her awful memories.  While trying to patch things up with the people she has wronged and getting the hang of working her first summer job, Taylor constantly has her dad’s condition resting in the back of her mind.

Review:

Second Chance Summer is a story of redemption and making up for lost time, that constantly had me reaching for a new tissue.  While Taylor’s time with her friends is important within the story, it is the familial interactions that had me coming back for more.  I think this is my favorite depiction of family that I have read in a YA novel so far.  The balance in the sweetness of watching Taylor’s family reconnect after so long mixed with the reality of the entire family watching their family patriarch’s declining health is utterly heartbreaking.  I feel like most YA I read picks up after the tragedy has already struck and it is about the protagonist moving through grief and healing.  Matson’s novel however, dives right into the gritty reality of sickness and packs a punch to readers’ emotions.

Review: Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo

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“No Mourners.”

“No Funerals.”

Six of Crows

Author: Leigh Bardugo

Rating: 5/5 stars

When renowned street lord, Kaz Brekker, is offered an impossible job, he assembles the most talented members from his gang to attempt the impossible.  Much like the Island of Misfit Toys, most of the six members of this heist, are castaways or runaways seeking refuge under Kaz’s protective umbrella.  While very few of them get along, they each have a specific skill that everybody recognizes is needed to pull off this task.

A fantastic start to this Duology! I was left excited for more through the entire novel 🙂

Review:

I don’t want to give much of the plot away because I read it not knowing much and think it was a better experience because of that.  I do want to talk about the characters and quotes though!  This was my first Leigh Bardugo read, and the quick banter and memorable passages sprinkled throughout this novel, made me hungry for so much more!  This book had many serious and stunning quotes that stuck with me long after I had put it down for the night. For example, when declaring undying love, these characters have a flair for it:

I have been made to protect you. Only in death will I be kept from this oath.

or there is:

“I will have you without armor, Kaz Brekker. Or I will not have you at all.”

But Bardugo also drops some hilarious interactions amongst the gang to show their antagonistic behavior as well.

“It’s not natural for women to fight.”

“It’s not natural for someone to be as stupid as he is tall, and yet there you stand.”

I could quote this book for days, but for now, I will leave just one more.  Kaz is a really interesting and morally dubious character.  But for all the uncertainty of whether I really like him or not, there were several times in the book I couldn’t help but respect him.  Raised on the streets, and only 17 years old, there are several times when Kaz has to interact and confront men much older and much more experienced than himself.  And each time, he is able to hold his own.  This quote from the beginning of the novel, was one of the first time’s when I was reading and realized that Six of Crows was going to something pretty epic!  This interaction occurs as another street lord is commenting on the lack of commitment Kaz’s benefactor has to taking over other areas of the city.

“Quit flexing, boy,” Geels said. “We all know the old man doesn’t have the stomach for a real brawl.”

Kaz’s laugh was dry as the rustle of dead leaves. “But I’m the one at you table, Geels, and I’m not here for a taste. You want a war, I’ll make sure you eat your fill.”

I can’t recommend this book enough, and can easily say it deserves all of the hype it has received.

Waiting on Wednesday: The Leaving Season by Cat Jordan

Waiting on Wednesday is a topic hosted by Breaking the Spine, where bloggers post about books that they are looking forward to being published in the near future 🙂

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This week’s WoW book is The Leaving Season by Cat Jordan!

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Middie is finding the strength to make it happily through the next year while her boyfriend, Nate, spends the year after graduation volunteering in Central America.  This becomes much more difficult for Middie after a tragic accident leaves her reeling. Feeling isolated in her grief, Middie turns to solace in the most unlikely of places, Nate’s best friend, Lee.

Though the two haven’t gotten along in the past, Lee and Middie find they can lean on each other in order to find their way forward again.

I am interested to see how Cat Jordan portrays Lee and Middie’s grief in The Leaving Season.  I feel like this is a common time in life when people experience and process loss for the first time and there are so many different outlets that people use to express their emotions.  I could easily see this being a very heartbreaking and healing story.

The Leaving Season comes out March 1st 2016, and is published by Harper Teen.

Waiting on Wednesday: The Girl From Everywhere by Heidi Heilig

Waiting on Wednesday is hosted by Breaking the Spine book blog!

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This week I can’t wait to read The Girl From Everywhere by Heidi Heilig!!

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This book follows a girl, Nix, who can travel to any time and place with her father and his ship.  Although she loves her life, this ability may put everything in jeopardy when her father goes back in time to try and save her mother from dying in childbirth.  No one knows what will happen to Nix with her father trying to change history so close to her birth, but ending her father’s heartbreak may cost Nix everything.

This sounds like a totally unique and interesting story.  I can’t wait to read about all the interesting time periods that are visited in this novel and how Heilig has the people aboard the ship interact with those that are stuck in their own time and place.  There are so many cool directions that this book could go and I’m excited to see what happens and what kind of help Nix discovers along the way.

The Girl from Everywhere comes out February 16th, 2016 and is published by Greenwillow Books!

Top 5 Wednesday (on Friday): 5 books we are thankful for

Hi All! Top 5 Wednesday is a tag created by GingerReadsLainey over at Booktube, and this weeks topic is “5 books we are thankful for”.  This is going to be a mix of children’s and adult lit. But other than that it doesn’t really follow a theme.

  1. Little House in the Big Woods by Laura Ingalls Wilder

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When I was younger, reading with my mom before going to bed was an everyday thing.  For some reason this book (and series in general) really stands out for me.  I loved reading these stories, and I think this series is one on of the main reasons I became a more independent reader of larger chapter books in second and third grade.

2. Quiet by Susan Cain

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I read Quiet right after I graduated from college and it was so beneficial to me.  I have always been an introvert and it has never seemed like a positive thing.  Reading this novel altered that perspective.  It provides plenty of examples of introversion leading to positive results, as well as how to use those characteristics to become a better leader and advocate.  It was super beneficial to me when I was in my post-college flounder 🙂

3. The Lorax by Dr. Seuss (or any Seuss in general)

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The Lorax is my favorite Seuss book but really any of them can be counted among my favorites from childhood 🙂

4. Shel Silverstein

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I love how creative and silly Shel Silverstein is with his poetry while still being able to deliver a pretty important message.  Rarely do his poems make much sense but I am always up for a re-read if I find one of his books in my vicinity.

5. Pillars of the Earth by Ken Follett

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This book is one that I could read repeatedly and still feel like I am reading it for the first time.  There is so much to take in and so many personalities to understand, that I encounter something new with every re-read.

Rook – Sharon Cameron

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Rook

by Sharon Cameron

Rating: 4/5 stars

Rook is a retelling of The Scarlet Pimpernel, a story published in 1905 and set during the time of the French Revolution.  I had not heard of the original story until I came across Rook, but apparently it is the first story ever written about a masked vigilante.  Basically, the original Batman or Zorro.

Rook takes place in a future Paris, where technology has failed mankind and people are reduced to a lifestyle that would have been common during the early 19th century.  In fact, the new government that is in charge, expressly forbids anyone from using any type of technology from our current times. A large part of this novel focuses on the theme of history repeating itself, so just like the French Revolution, the government gives the general public someone to blame for their current destitution and appeases them with very public executions of the wealthy.  Regardless, of whether the current state of affairs is their fault or not.

This is where the Rook comes into play.  The Rook is a vigilante who frees prisoners just before their execution and nobody knows who he/she is because all that is left behind is a single red tipped feather of the Rook.

It is revealed early on that the Rook is a wealthy young woman, named Sophia, who must conceal her identity, while also trying to save her family’s home from being seized for debts by marrying a foppish Parisian who she cannot stand.  While the law slowly closes in on her and her fiancee begins questioning her bizarre behavior, Sophia must make sacrifices to protect those she is closest to and use precise judgement to determine who can be trusted with her secret.

Review:  This novel had so many plot twists and so much going on that I was thoroughly entertained throughout the entire story.  Cameron works hard to make all the characters’ actions and motives known without overwhelming the reader too much.  I was really impressed with her ability to keep enough hidden from the reader to continue to make them question how the book was going to resolve while also giving us enough background information so we weren’t bogged down in confusion.  All of the characters had a specific end goal in mind and were driven by a wide variety of motives that helped diversify all the players.  This, with an interesting premise and setting made Rook a fantastic dystopian read, that was really different than any other book I have read recently in this genre.

Throne of Glass – Sarah J. Maas

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Throne of Glass

By Sarah J. Maas

Rating: 1/5 stars

Throne of Glass is a fantasy novel about Calaena Sardothien, an assassin who has just spent a year sentenced to working in Salt Mines after being caught.  The Crown Prince, Dorian, has had her released on the condition that she will compete in a competition to find the King of Erilea’s next Champion, or assassin.  Calaena agrees on the condition that if she wins, after 4 years of service she will be free.  As the competitors begin completing tasks and slowly being eliminated, they soon have additional concerns as someone has started to kill competitors outside of the specific tasks.  Calaena now has to find a way to survive these attacks while also building her strength to succeed in the tournaments.  Also distracting her is a new friendship with the Princess of a neighboring nation that is being threatened by Erilea, as well as the romantic feelings she has for her guard Chaol and the Crown Prince.  Trying to overcome all of these factors, Calaena must put other thoughts aside if she hopes for a chance for her freedom in the foreseeable future.

Review:  So I will put a disclaimer out right in the beginning of this review stating I might be a little more harsh on this book than normal because of all the hype that is surrounding it.  Because Queen of Shadows,  the 4th book in this series, came out this month I have been seeing a lot of raves about it and thought I should finally get this series read.

It was almost painful at times trying to get through this book.  I think the main problem I had with trying to get into this novel is it is completely inconsistent.  Calaena is supposedly the greatest assassin in Erilea, however her characterization and the way other characters in the novel treat her don’t align with this at all.  This is supposed to be a character that broke her own wrist when she was still a preteen in order to become a stronger fighter in her less dominant hand, however, throughout the whole novel there were constant complaints about blisters, uncomfortable high heels, having to walk in wet shoes.  I found the amount she whined made any of her previous claims and experiences unbelievable.  Also the way the male characters treat her also undermine her claim to greatness.  Her tendency to become a Damsel in Distress around Chaol, was really at odds with her background and it kept me from being pulled into the story.

I also felt a lot of plot decisions were made because they were necessary for moving the story forward but did not make sense with the setting the author had created.  Having guards constantly around the Princess and Calaena for protection, and then having them just randomly be out of sight the one time somebody approaches them and makes a threat just does not make sense.

I have heard that the next novels in this series do get better as they continue, but because of the awful experience I had reading this book, I really have no interest in learning what happens to these characters or seeing how their stories resolve.