Waiting on Wednesday: Down with the Shine by Kate Karyus Quinn

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 🙂

New WoW

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Lennie always assumed that when her uncles referred to the “family business” they were talking about bootlegging. Unfortunately they were talking about the wish granting effect that their homemade moonshine has.  Because of this misunderstanding, chaos erupts as Lennie grants more wishes in one night than her uncles would grant in an entire year.  This includes Lennie’s personal wish, the return of her best friend who was kidnapped and murdered just six months ago.  She must find a way to fix this mistake, when the rules state that a wish can’t be unmade.

This sounds like it is going to be a really eerie book, that I can’t wait to get my hands on.

Down with the Shine comes out April 26th, 2016, and is published by HarperTeen.

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Review: The Prince of the Mist by Carlos Ruiz Zafon

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The Prince of Mist

by Carlos Ruiz Zafon

Rating: 5/5 stars

    It’s Spain during WWII and 13 year old Max Carver is forced to move with his family to a beach house in order to avoid the conflict from the war.  No one in the family besides Max’s dad is excited about this move, but their lackadaisical attitudes are snapped to attention when strange occurrences begin.  Soon after, Max begins questioning his surroundings he learns that the previous owners had a son who drowned in the ocean, and Max is certain his death is connected to his family’s experiences.  With the help of a native boy named, Roland, Max and his sister set out to find answers.  They soon discover that their is a malicious spirit terrorizing their family, until he collects a debt he was promised many years before.

Review:  To begin with a disclaimer.  Had I read this book, rather than listening to the audiobook, I probably would have been more likely to rate it as a 3-3.5.  But the recording was so well performed, that I sped through this entire book in a single day!  This story was super creepy and I think it is a great Middle Grade book, that anyone could enjoy.  The music and sound effects did wonders in creating a spooky atmosphere and I would love to know if the other audiobooks were recorded in a similar format.

Top Ten Tuesday: Anti-Valentine’s Day Books

Top Ten Tuesday is a tag created by The Broke and The Bookish! Each week there is a new topic for book bloggers to discuss that features a variety of books.

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This week’s topic surrounds Valentine’s Day!  I chose to recommend 10 books that I consider to be Anti-Valentine’s Day Reads, and they go into a few different categories.

These first set of books are ones that are not anti-love, they just have a plot that surrounds something other than romance and really don’t dive into any relationship nonsense!

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Next up, are books that have a love story that is central to its plot, but because of the nature of the love story or how things play out, the reader is in no hurry to dive into a relationship!

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Finally, are the books that teach the reader about the strength of independence and friendship, rather than the importance of a romantic relationship.  I guess you could call these the Galentine’s Day Recommendations 🙂

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Simon vs. The Homo Sapiens Agenda

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Simon vs. The Homo Sapiens Agenda

by Becky Albertalli

Rating: 5/5 Stars

     Simon Spier is a 16 year old boy living in Georgia, who has spent the last school year communicating online with someone from his school whom he has never met.  Simon and Blue stumbled across one another on the internet and began confiding in each other after discovering that they are both gay and have yet to come out to their family and friends.  While they give each other the emotional support needed to take this step and Simon begins to realize that he is falling in love with Blue, Simon makes the mistake of not logging out of his e-mail on a school computer.  This classmate has discovered and printed all of Blue and Simon’s correspondence and uses it as blackmail against Simon.  Now, regardless of Simon’s comfortability with coming out, he is now on a timetable to tell everyone.

Review: I loved so many aspects of this story.  I think it is a unique premise, that is also very realistic.  Simon vs. the Homo Sapien Agenda is hilarious and heartwarming at the same time.  Simon and Blue’s e-mails are funny and the reader can easily see why they get along so well.  Albertalli did a great job of writing interesting side characters.  All of Simon’s friends were unique and distinguishable, but again, very realistic.  I never felt like I was reading a character from a story  who was acting a certain way in order to portray the author’s message.  I can definitely understand why this novel is a Morris Award winner, and can’t wait to see what Albertalli cooks up next.  According to rumors, it is going to be a companion novel to Simon. 🙂

Waiting on Wednesday: The Way I Used to Be by Amber Smith

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 🙂

New WoW

This week’s WoW book is The Way I Used to Be by Amber Smith!

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The Way I Used to Be by Amber Smith, follows Eden’s life as she goes through 4 years of high school.  In the beginning of her Freshman Year Eden is sexually assaulted by her brother’s best friend and someone she used to trust.  This novel follows Eden after she decides not to tell anyone of the attack and relive the nightmare.  It describes her high school friendships and first romantic relationships, the hardships of high school, and the lasting effect that trauma can have on someone despite the great strength they show in trying to take back their life.

I always appreciate and am interested in reading stories detailing how victims overcome their trauma and grief.  While this is sure to include some steps backward and times when they feel hopeless, this time is filled with victims making choices for themselves after they have been forced into a situation where all choice has been taken away.  The Way I Used to Be looks to be following a hopeful trend I have noticed, where authors choose to not focus so much on the abuse or attacks, but on the victims and their recovery instead.

The Way I used to Be comes out March 22nd 2016, and is published by Margaret K. McElderry Books.

#RockMyTBR Book Tag

Rock my TBR

Last Week I talked about the books I hope to read in 2016 that I already own through the #RockMyTBR reading challenge!  This week I am completing the book tag to go along with this! It was a lot of fun, a bit nostalgic, and helped me focus on the books I really want to make sure I get to next year.

“Smells Like Teen Spirit” (Nirvana) A contemporary I want to read

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I received What We Saw by Aaron Hartzler earlier this month, and am excited to get to it early next year!

“Shut Up and Dance” (Walk to the Moon) Most anticipated book I have

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Wolf by Wolf by Ryan Graudin has intrigued me since I first read about its publication.  An alternate version of history where a girl sets out to kill the victorious Hitler…? This is one I definitely have high on my TBR list!

“Centuries” (Remix) (Fall Out Boy)  A Twist on a Classic or Fairytale

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Strands of Bronze and Gold is a twist on the BlueBeard myths, which is a retelling I have never come across before.  It’s one I purchased off Book Outlet after the synopsis caught my attention.

“Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robot” (The Flaming Lips) a science fiction book or a book set in the future

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Midwinterblood is one that time hops and involves some other than human characters.  I got a really strong Cloud Atlas vibe when I bought it a few years ago.  It will be nice to finally have this off my TBR!

“She Looks So Perfect” (5 Seconds of Summer) a book with a girl on the cover

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I fully anticipate needing some tissues for this one!  The Summer of Letting Go follows a girl work through her grief and guilt after the death of her younger sibling.

“Africa” (Toto) a book set in a foreign country

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Jellicoe Road is about a group of boarding school students set in Australia.  Although I have heard people say that they really like this book, I don’t know too much about it other than that 🙂

“Another One Bites the Dust” (Queen) a book or books that will complete a series

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After reading Never Fade I went a bit lukewarm with this series. Hopefully my excitement picks back up as I read the last book in the Darkest Minds Trilogy.

“Someone New” (Hozier) a book by an author you haven’t read yet

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I picked up The Virgin Suicides by Jeffrey Eugenides at a used book store in the early part of last year.  I feel like this is something of a YA classic that I should have gotten to by now.

“Hello” (Adele) a book DNF or weren’t in the m old for at the time

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I tried reading The Kingdom of Little Wounds right after finishing Queen of the Tearling which I think was my big mistake!  Hopefully I’ll be able to get more invested in this, now that I haven’t read anything like it in a few months.

“Love at First Sight” (Kylie Minogue) a book you bought because of the cover

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This is a book I stumbled across while I was browsing Book Outlet. I barely read the synopsis before adding it to my cart and checking out. 🙂

So there it is! I challenge anyone else who is doing the #RockMyTBR reading challenge to do this book tag!

#RockMyTBR 2016 Reading Challenge

Rock my TBR

Like many readers, I have a problem where there are simply not enough hours in a day to read all of the books I plan too! As a result, I have acquired quite a pile of unread books that have been lying around…for years in some cases.  That is why I LOVE the #RockMyTBR challenge that Sarah over at The YA Book Traveler has created!  Here are the books that I’ve added to my shelves over the last couple of years that I  hope to read in 2016:

Sabriel – Garth Nix

Illusionarium – Heather Dixon

Furies of Calderon – Jim Butcher

Under the Banner of Heaven – Jon Krakauer

Assassin’s Aprrentice – Robin Hobb

In the Afterlight – Alexander Bracken

Assassin’s Curse Duology – Cassandra Rose Clarke

Jellicoe Road – Melina Marchetta

Some Boys – Patty Blount

First Fifteen Lives of Harry August – Clare North

All the Light We Cannot See – Anthony Doerr

The Bone Season – Samantha Shannon

Amelia Anne is Dead and Gone – Kat Rosenfield

Kingdom of Little Wounds – Susann Cokal

Virgin Suicides – Jeffrey Eugenides

Bossy Pants – Tina Fey

March – Geraldine Brooks

Midwinterblood – Markus Sedgwick

The Disreputable History of Frankie Landou-Banks – E. Lockhart

Girl in the Woods – Aspen Mathis

Wolf by Wolf – Ryan Gaudin

Between the Devil and the Deep Blue Sea

This Star Won’t Go Out – Esther Earl

The Wise Man’s Fear – Patrick Rothfuss

Mistborn – Brandon Sanderson

Me, Earl, and the Dying Girl – Jesse Andrews

Rebel Spring – Morgan Rhodes

So hopefully, I’ll be able to knock 2-3 of these out a month (give or take) and by this time next year my TBR should look a bit thinner 🙂

If any of these are on your list and you want to do a buddy read, let me know!

Waiting on Wednesday: A Study in Charlotte by Brittany Cavallaro

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 🙂

New WoW

This week’s WoW book is A Study in Charlotte by Brittany Cavallaro!

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As someone who spent most of their 7th grade English class reading Sherlock Holmes novels, the idea of a contemporary Holmes themed novel is too intriguing to pass up.  In this book, Sherlock Holmes and John Watson’s descendants meet at a Connecticut prep school but lack the chemistry their forefathers’ had.

Jamie Watson enters Sherringford Prep School intrigued by Charlotte Holmes.  He quickly realizes though, that with her great-great-grandfather’s odd quirks, Charlotte is very hard to get along with.  Despite their antagonistic relationship, they are forced to work together to clear their name when a student is found dead and Holmes and Watson are the prime suspects in the suspicious death.

This sounds like a really fun take on an old classic.  With the prep school setting I can’t wait for a setting the will have a ring of the old Holmes stories with an injection of contemporary YA characters and technology.

 

A Study in Charlotte comes out on March 1st 2016, and is published by Katherine Tegen Books.

Waiting on Wednesday: Salt to the Sea by Ruta Sepetys

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I can almost guarantee that I will love anything that Ruta Sepetys writes!!! That is why I cannot wait for her newest YA novel to come out this February!  I really appreciate how she is able to accurately create an atmosphere that fits the time period she is talking about but also make the reader empathize so deeply with an individual story.

That is why I am especially excited to read Salt to the Sea, which depicts the lives of several different characters who are trying to escape the horrors of WWII on the same boat.  Despite the tragedy these characters have already faced, they must face additional torment aboard the boat that is meant to bring them salvation.  It sounds so heartbreaking with the potential to be uplifting at times, describing the stories of those who are not mentioned in history books.

 

Salt to the Sea comes out February 2nd, 2016 and is published by Philomel Books.

A Step Towards Falling by Cammie McGovern

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“Friendships are complicated. Friends have power. Friends can break your heart.”

A Step Toward Falling

by Cammie McGovern

Rating: 5/5 Stars

     A Step Toward Falling is a contemporary dual perspective novel that chronicles the lives of two high school girls who have both been affected by a bullying incident.

     Emily is a high school student who witnesses Belinda, a student with developmental disabilities being assaulted and walks away without acting.  Now she and Lucas, another bystander who failed to act, must complete community service at a center that serves people with disabilities.  As time passes Emily begins to feel like she is making a difference in the class, but still feels guilty about the night of the attack.  When Belinda returns to school Emily makes a plan that she hopes will show Belinda how sorry she is and also give Belinda some positive attention that is long overdue.  As new information about the night of the attack comes to light however, Emily begins to second guess how to best help Belinda, and wonders if she is going to end up hurting her more in the end.

     Belinda has not returned to school since she was attacked.  She has fallen into a routine of watching Pride and Prejudice repeatedly hoping to rediscover the comfort she used to find in watching her favorite movie.  She used to believe that there were people like Mr. Darcy in the world but now she isn’t sure.  While her grandma and mom are very understanding and don’t mind that she is taking time off from school, Belinda knows she has to go back.  As Belinda tries to return to her school routine, she begins to understand that things have changed.  She needs to learn to adjust to new roles in her classroom and also finds that she may have some new friends to help her with all of these changes.

Review: This is McGovern’s second novel that I have fallen in love with.  She has a wonderful way of making people with disabilities her protagonists without making the conflict of the novel center around their disability.  Did Belinda’s disability play into how she recovered or reacted to her attack? Of course, but it wasn’t the only motive driving her actions or determining the next plot point.

     I loved the complexity of the feelings and people in this story.  This is seen best through the inaction of Emily and Lucas, despite neither of them being “bad kids”.  They froze, and despite their parents and peers telling them that it isn’t their fault or there is nothing they could have done, it’s not true.  Despite their mistakes at the beginning of the novel however, Emily and Lucas show great maturity in accepting their punishment and doing everything they can to improve the lives of the people they are meant to be serving.

    I cannot recommend this book enough! Whether to learn more about people with developmental disabilities, or just to read a YA book with great themes, character growth, and a heartwarming message.