Wednesday, August 27, 2014

What's On My Hold List?

Picture from YaBookNerd's blog,
because, though, I started this meme
she created a much cuter pic for it!
Welcome to the August 2014 edition


"What's on My Hold List?"

One of the most beautiful things about working in a Library is that I have the ability to put lots of things on hold and read them *before* I buy!! These are some of the books that I'm currently waiting for, though I may buy one or two of them after reading, as well.

These are the books I'm waiting for right now:

Gates of Thread and Stone 
by Lori M. Lee
by Phoebe North
Top Secret Twenty-One
by Janet Evanovich

Trial By Fire
by Josephine Angelini

You can click on each title to go to their Goodreads page for a description...

So, these are the books I'm waiting anxiously to get my hands on...what are you waiting for??

Friday, August 22, 2014

Storm Siren

Storm Siren
by Mary Weber
Storm Siren trilogy, book one

In a world at war, a slave girl’s lethal curse could become one kingdom’s weapon of salvation. If the curse—and the girl—can be controlled.

As a slave in the war-weary kingdom of Faelen, seventeen-year-old Nym isn’t merely devoid of rights, her Elemental kind are only born male and always killed at birth — meaning, she shouldn’t even exist.

Standing on an auction block, Nym is snatched up by a court advisor and given a choice: be trained as the weapon Faelen needs to win the war, or be killed. Choosing the former, Nym is unleashed into a world of politics, bizarre parties, and rumors of an evil more sinister than she’s being prepared to fight . . . not to mention the handsome trainer whose dark secrets lie behind a mysterious ability to calm every lightning strike she summons. But what if she doesn’t want to be the weapon they’ve all been waiting for?
(Description from

Ooh, there's nothing I like better in a supernatural fantasy than a heroine that I can relate to, even when I can't relate to her at all.  Meaning...Nym is an elemental, able to summon storms and control the weather...someone with powers I couldn't even imagine, yet Weber writes her emotions in such a way that I can actually imagine being Nym.  She freaks out over her powers, she feels guilty for all the destruction she causes, she falls in love, and fears for her life in the midst of an impending war.  She is a girl that I can imagine being or knowing outside of the powers...and then she's even cooler because, well, she can conjure a hurricane if she gets angry! Amazing. 

Though this world is a fictional land with its own history and belief system, interesting creatures and supernatural powers, Weber presents it so that it is not only easy to fall into the world, but also you can't help but be captivated by the crazy couture costumes at the fancy dress parties, be horrified by the flesh-eating war horses, or be terrified at the idea of a shapeshifting mad man looking to take over the world. 

I thoroughly enjoyed this book, loved the EPIC twist at the end, and I need book two as soon as I can get my greedy little hands on it! I want more Nym!! 

Full disclosure: ARC received from Wunderkind PR for honest review

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Mini Reviews: The Ever After High Edition

It's no surprise to my regular readers that I enjoy fantasy, fairy tale retellings, and I love middle grade books, though I don't always get to make time to read them anymore.  So...when Shannon Hale announced that she'd be writing the first novel in the new EVER AFTER HIGH series, I *knew* I would have to check it out.

The Storybook of Legends
by Shannon Hale
Ever After High, book one

At Ever After High, an enchanting boarding school, the children of fairytale legends prepare themselves to fulfill their destinies as the next generation of Snow Whites, Prince Charmings and Evil Queens...whether they want to or not. Each year on Legacy Day, students sign the Storybook of Legends to seal their scripted fates. For generations, the Village of Book End has whispered that refusing to sign means The End-both for a story and for a life.

As the daughter of the Evil Queen, Raven Queen's destiny is to follow in her mother's wicked footsteps, but evil is so not Raven's style. She's starting to wonder, what if she rewrote her own story? The royal Apple White, daughter of the Fairest of Them All, has a happy ever after planned for herself, but it depends upon Raven feeding her a poison apple in their future. What if Raven doesn't sign the Storybook of Legends? It could mean a happily never after for them both. (Description from

As a fairy tale lover, I really loved the concept of this book.  Getting to see the future generations of our beloved characters is a real treat.  Imagining the little ways that they would be different from the originals must have been so fun for Shannon Hale! Overall, I was really impressed with how fun this book was and yet, how well it presents really deep themes to kids - the concept of detiny vs. freedom of choice, self-identity versus fitting into the crowd, etc.  A great read. 

The Unfairest of Them All 
by Shannon Hale 
Ever After High, book two 

It's the aftermath of Legacy Day, the day when the students at Ever After High are supposed to pledge to follow in their fairytale parents' footsteps, and everyone is in a huff and a puff! Raven Queen, daughter of the Evil Queen, has refused to sign the Storybook of Legends, rejecting her story--and putting everyone else's in jeopardy. 

The Royal Apple White doesn't want to think Raven is being a rebellious pain, but Raven's choice means Apple might never get the poisoned apple, Prince Charming, and a kingdom to rule. Behind Apple stands the Royals, those who want to play by the book and embrace their stories. The Rebels, supporters of Raven, believe in breaking free from destiny and writing their own stories. 

But when the chaos and rivalry land wonderlandiful Madeline Hatter in trouble, Raven and Apple must bring the Royals and the Rebels together to shut the book on their feud before it threatens to end all of their Happily Ever Afters once and for all. (Description from

I loved returning to this world and seeing how the tween characters struggled to find their place after Raven chooses to follow her own path...not the one laid out for her.  Again, the way that concepts and themes were presented was so very well done, though with Hale writing this book as well, I shouldn't really have been surprised.  Maddie is one of my favorite characters and seeing how things go for her in this book and knowing that we get to explore a little more of the Wonderland-ish story in the next one makes me really excited! 

If you want to get a little taste of this series without having to read the entire 300 page first book, you can check out the ebook character introductions - available on all ebook platforms, I think... - which are short and very cute.  There's a bunch of them, and a few even give you a little more insight into the individual characters, adding depth to parts of the storylines in the regular novels.  

Full disclosure: Books Borrowed from my Library, enovellas "purchased" for my Kindle App 

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Treachery in Death

Treachery in Death 
by J. D. Robb
In Death series, book thirty two

Detective Eve Dallas and her partner, Peabody, are following up on a senseless crime—an elderly grocery owner killed by three stoned punks for nothing more than kicks and snacks. This is Peabody's first case as primary detective—good thing she learned from the master.

But Peabody soon stumbles upon a trickier situation. After a hard workout, she's all alone in the locker room when the gym door clatters open; and-while hiding inside a shower stall trying not to make a sound—she overhears two fellow officers, Garnet and Oberman, arguing. It doesn't take long to realize they're both crooked—guilty not just of corruption but of murder. Now Peabody, Eve, and Eve's husband, Roarke, are trying to get the hard evidence they need to bring the dirty cops down—knowing all the while that the two are willing to kill to keep their secret.
(Description from

I hadn't read a book from this series in SO long... and I LOVE them. I really need to catch up. This is a phenomenal series if you've never read them.  Start with book one, Naked in Death, and go from there.  Though each book is its own murder case, there is an overarching story about Eve Dallas and the characters in her life that continues from book to book.  They are wonderful characters and seeing them grow and change over time is AMAZING.  Trust me. Seriously one of the best series of books...EVER. 

Specifically in this book I loved how Robb makes Peabody and Dallas grow once again in terms of their careers.  In the face of hunting down corrupt cops, Dallas has to confirm that she has made the correct choices about who she is going to be as a homicide detective, and this allows Peabody to reaffirm the choices she's made both for herself and in who she views as mentors/heroes.  There are some fabulous moments where the characters connect in really great emotional ways and when the bad guys get their comeuppance, boy you can't help but cheer! 

Another fabulous book in the series.  I can't wait to read the next one. 

Full disclosure: Borrowed from my Library 

Monday, August 18, 2014

The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry

The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry 
by Gabrielle Zevin

On the faded Island Books sign hanging over the porch of the Victorian cottage is the motto "No Man Is an Island; Every Book Is a World." A. J. Fikry, the irascible owner, is about to discover just what that truly means.

A. J. Fikry's life is not at all what he expected it to be. His wife has died, his bookstore is experiencing the worst sales in its history, and now his prized possession, a rare collection of Poe poems, has been stolen. Slowly but surely, he is isolating himself from all the people of Alice Island-from Lambiase, the well-intentioned police officer who's always felt kindly toward Fikry; from Ismay, his sister-in-law who is hell-bent on saving him from his dreary self; from Amelia, the lovely and idealistic (if eccentric) Knightley Press sales rep who keeps on taking the ferry over to Alice Island, refusing to be deterred by A.J.'s bad attitude. Even the books in his store have stopped holding pleasure for him. These days, A.J. can only see them as a sign of a world that is changing too rapidly.

And then a mysterious package appears at the bookstore. It's a small package, but large in weight. It's that unexpected arrival that gives A. J. Fikry the opportunity to make his life over, the ability to see everything anew. It doesn't take long for the locals to notice the change overcoming A.J.; or for that determined sales rep, Amelia, to see her curmudgeonly client in a new light; or for the wisdom of all those books to become again the lifeblood of A.J.'s world; or for everything to twist again into a version of his life that he didn't see coming.
(Description from

This quirky story is set up in chapters, each headed by a different "review" of a book. As A.J.'s life changes, the reader sees the reflections in the vignettes of his life, and in the ways that the "reviews" change. The story is touching and heartfelt, I could not help but be charmed as cranky A.J. went from being the curmudgeonly bookseller to being a family man and part of the life blood of his small town.    

Zevin is an author that I like in general and I loved this foray into the adult world.  I felt that the characters were interesting and the whole concept was exceedingly well done.  The way the story unfolded was easy to follow and drew me right in, making me much more emotionally invested than I had thought I would be.  This was one of my favorite summer reads. 

Full disclosure: Borrowed from my Library

Friday, August 15, 2014

Gold Star Review: The Falconer

The Falconer 
by Elizabeth May
Falconer series, book one

Lady Aileana Kameron, the only daughter of the Marquess of Douglas, was destined for a life carefully planned around Edinburgh’s social events – right up until a faery killed her mother.

Now it’s the 1844 winter season and Aileana slaughters faeries in secret, in between the endless round of parties, tea and balls. Armed with modified percussion pistols and explosives, she sheds her aristocratic facade every night to go hunting. She’s determined to track down the faery who murdered her mother, and to destroy any who prey on humans in the city’s many dark alleyways.

But the balance between high society and her private war is a delicate one, and as the fae infiltrate the ballroom and Aileana’s father returns home, she has decisions to make. How much is she willing to lose – and just how far will Aileana go for revenge? (Description from

This book gripped me from page one and never let go.  It's action-packed with a good side of "feels."  Exactly the type of book that I love most - steampunk with dark faeries and a little romance.  The best thing is that this book reads like a great historical fiction, with just elements of steampunk to give May's world atmosphere without being overwhelming.  

The main character, Aileana, is a great heroine.  One who can act the part she's supposed to play while still being true to herself.  At first, she wants to deny both parts of herself, embracing neither, but then she realizes that she has to acknowledge both what is expected of her and what she wants and NEEDS for herself. She will not let anyone, not even the men who seem to want the best for her, stand in her way.  Spunky through to the end.  

Dark faeries.  Oh how I love dark faeries.  There are some great ones in this book.  Beautiful and destructive.  Bold and dangerous.  Looking to destroy the world.  

I *CANNOT* wait until book two comes out.  Definitely worth a big 'ol GOLD STAR. 

Full disclosure: Borrowed from my Library 

Monday, August 11, 2014

BEA Middle Grade Reviews: The Fog of Forgetting

The four great early reader and middle grade books I got at BEA 2014.

So, I decided to try and review my BEA books in some kind of order that actually made a little sense... both to me and hopefully to all of you! Since I've covered my picture books, now, I'm trying to cover the early reader and middle grade books that I received at BEA.  Then, soon, we'll move on to more of the YA and adult titles. Enjoy!
The Fog of Forgetting
by G. A. Morgan

Sneaking out for a quick boat ride on a summer day, five children find themselves engulfed in a curtain of dense, powerful fog that transports them from the rocky Maine coast to the mysterious island of Ayda. Rescued by Seaborne, a machete-toting wayfarer of few words, the children suddenly find themselves at the center of a centuries-old battle between Dankar, the ruler of Exor, and three siblings that rule the other realms of Ayda. At stake are the four stones of power and the elusive Fifth Stone that binds them all.

When 9-year-old Frankie is kidnapped by Dankar, her older sister Evelyn and the three Thompson brothers must learn to harness the powers of the daylights, ancient forces of earth, fire, water, and air, to navigate their way through the realms of Ayda, rescue her, and find a way home.
(Description from

This is the great start to an interesting new middle grade epic fantasy series. The main characters are siblings from two families, a little reminiscent of the Chronicles of Narnia.  What I really liked about this book, similarly to Lewis' or even Pullman's  His Dark Materials trilogy was how the children were definitely children and sounded authentically youthful and yet were also able to understand and define more adult concepts.  Something that we often, in real life, do not give children credit for being able to do for themselves.  We forget how strongly grief can affect anyone no matter the age, and how insightful and intuitive children can be as they observe the world around them. 

Thrust into a world full of dangers and new rules that they had not previously known, the children band even more strongly together.Even in the face of the worst sorts of danger, they are willing to stand up for each other, willing to throw themselves in front of man or beast to save one another.  These are some brave and compassionate kids.  Reading as they discover new wonders about the world they're now in and each other was a pleasure fitted neatly into a story that kept me on my toes.  

I look forward to seeing where book two takes us! 

Full disclosure: Received from publisher at BEA 2014

Friday, August 8, 2014

BEA Adult Reviews: Little Mercies

Little Mercies 
by Heather Gudenkauf

Veteran social worker Ellen Moore has seen the worst side of humanity; the vilest acts one person can commit against another. She is a fiercely dedicated children's advocate and a devoted mother and wife. But one blistering summer day, a simple moment of distraction will have repercussions that Ellen could never have imagined, threatening to shatter everything she holds dear, and trapping her between the gears of the system she works for.

Meanwhile, ten-year-old Jenny Briard has been living with her well-meaning but irresponsible father since her mother left them, sleeping on friends' couches and moving in and out of cheap motels. When Jenny suddenly finds herself on her own, she is forced to survive with nothing but a few dollars and her street smarts. The last thing she wants is a social worker, but when Ellen's and Jenny's lives collide, little do they know just how much they can help one another. (Description from

I've never read anything by this author before...I was a little nervous because I knew it had to do with a terrible accident.  I tend to "read" happier audio books when I can because I end up crying as I drive in the car and then I end up at work all gross-looking, LOL. This book, though, was a little less traumatic than I'd expected and well worth the listen.

At first, the two tales, Ellen's heartbreaking accident putting her daughter in mortal danger, and Jenny's sad attempt to survive the streets on her own when her Dad goes to jail, don't seem to have anything connecting them other than a common location.  Then as Gudenkauf starts to weave things together, more and more pieces fall into place, bringing readers into one large and satisfying story.  Even though horrible things are discussed and happen throughout, both Ellen and Jenny find that there IS good in the world and the people around them.  There is a heartwarming sense of hope that pervades the book and when things conclude, I was smiling through my tears.  

I look forward to reading more of Gudenkauf's books eventually. 

Full disclosure: Audio book received to review for AudioFile Magazine, Signed copy received from author at 2014 BEA 

Thursday, August 7, 2014

Rebel Belle

Rebel Belle
by Rachel Hawkins

Harper Price, peerless Southern belle, was born ready for a Homecoming tiara. But after a strange run-in at the dance imbues her with incredible abilities, Harper's destiny takes a turn for the seriously weird. She becomes a Paladin, one of an ancient line of guardians with agility, super strength and lethal fighting instincts.

Just when life can't get any more disastrously crazy, Harper finds out who she's charged to protect: David Stark, school reporter, subject of a mysterious prophecy and possibly Harper's least favorite person. But things get complicated when Harper starts falling for him—and discovers that David's own fate could very well be to destroy Earth.
(Description from

I had been so utterly excited for this book.  I loved Rachel Hawkins other series, Hex Hall.  She writes great snappy, funny dialogue and the storylines were great.  I had expected to LOVE this book.  Sadly, while I enjoyed parts of it, I found that this particular book just didn't hold my interest.  

The beginning was great.  I loved the set up and in the beginning I really liked Harper's character.  As the story went on, I also really enjoyed the introduction of the other characters.  Especially David.  I think that Hawkins is a super talented author at creating funny, realistic dialogue.  In fact, I would read a whole contemporary romance book just based around conversations if Hawkins wrote it! 

So, what didn't work for me?  I think that it was the whole mix of Southern culture and supernatural abilities/secret society/apocalypse stuff.  I just wanted it really to be one or the other.  I was so disappointed to have to admit that I just didn't care about the whole reason that Harper's life suddenly does a 180!  Until the twist at the end with the prophetic dream foretelling someone very important's death...and then I cared for a heartbeat.  Will I read the sequel?  Probably not....but if Hawkins writes another Hex Hall book or starts a new series you can bet your little tushie that I'll be reading it ASAP! 

Full disclosure: Book borrowed from my Library

Monday, August 4, 2014

Team Human

Team Human 
by Justine Larbalestier and Sarah Rees Brennan

Mel is horrified when Francis Duvarney, arrogant, gorgeous, and undead, starts at her high school. Mel’s best friend, Cathy, immediately falls for the vampire. Cathy is determined to be with him forever, even if having him turn her could inadvertently make her a zombie.

And Mel is equally determined to prove to her BFF that Francis is no good, braving the city’s vampire district and kissing a cute boy raised by vampires as she searches evidence in this touching and comic novel.
(Description from

While this is not going to be one of my top books for 2014, it was generally an enjoyable read.  There were a lot of funny moments and it did make you think about prejudice in a nice easy way.  It is tongue-in-cheek about the whole human/vampire love trope and I thought a lot of the side characters were great.  

My biggest (and pretty much only) complaint was that I often found the main character, Mel, to be annoying. I honestly think that the authors wrote her to be somewhat unlikable...and they did a good job of it. Her sheer pigheadedness and sometimes whiny personality just grated under my skin. I think listening to the book also enhanced this rather than making her easier to swallow.  

Not a book I'd recommend to everyone, but there are readers I know who would enjoy it at least as much as I did, if not more. 

Full disclosure:  Audio book received to review for AudioFile

Friday, August 1, 2014

BEA YA Reviews: Let's Get Lost

Signed YA ARCs that I received at BEA 2014

So, I decided to try and review my BEA books in some kind of order that actually made a little sense... both to me and hopefully to all of you! I've already covered the picture books, an early reader, and a middle grade title, and though I haven't finished all my younger books yet, I really wanted to read this summery looking YA book, so.... here you go! 

Let's Get Lost 
by Adi Alsaid

Five strangers. Countless adventures. One epic way to get lost. 

Four teens across the country have only one thing in common: a girl named LEILA. She crashes into their lives in her absurdly red car at the moment they need someone the most. 

There's HUDSON, a small-town mechanic who is willing to throw away his dreams for true love. And BREE, a runaway who seizes every Tuesday—and a few stolen goods along the way. ELLIOT believes in happy endings…until his own life goes off-script. And SONIA worries that when she lost her boyfriend, she also lost the ability to love. 

Hudson, Bree, Elliot and Sonia find a friend in Leila. And when Leila leaves them, their lives are forever changed. But it is during Leila's own 4,268-mile journey that she discovers the most important truth— sometimes, what you need most is right where you started. And maybe the only way to find what you're looking for is to get lost along the way. (Description from

This book is sort of a perfect summer read.  It's easy to read.  Alsaid has a fluid, funny, poignant writing style that had me flying through the pages. And yet, as I read, I found myself wanting to linger.  Alsaid has a magic way of capturing small moments.  The ones that we usually only have a second to appreciate before we have to move on, and making them feel important and lasting.  

Leila is a catalyst in this book, driving the five teens who meet her to consider the larger things in life.  What's great about the book, though, is that even while she's changing them, drawing them into a better, deeper place in their own lives, she's gleaning things from them, as well.  Reading I found myself thinking, whistfully usually, about life and the relationships we build in it.  It was almost philosophical and done in such a way that felt natural and not at all pointed or studied.  

I loved the way that Alsaid was able to explore what could be such heavy, emotionally-laden chapters in these characters lives and yet managed to keep the whole tone of the book uplifting.  Engrossing and enjoyable. This is the type of book you want to read while enjoying the summer sun. 

About the Author:
Photo by Peter Ross.
Adi Alsaid was born and raised in Mexico City. He attended college at the University of Nevada, Las
Vegas. While in class, he mostly read fiction and continuously failed to fill out crossword puzzles, so it's no surprise that after graduating he packed up his car and escaped to the California coastline to become a writer.

He's now back in his hometown, where he writes, coaches high school and elementary basketball, and has perfected the art of making every dish he eats or cooks as spicy as possible.

In addition to Mexico, he has lived in Tel Aviv, Las Vegas and Monterey, California. A tingly feeling in his feet tells him that more places will eventually be added to the list.

I was lucky enough to meet Adi Alsaid at the 2014 Book Expo in New York City this year.  He was super nice and now that I've read Let's Get Lost, I'm looking forward to seeing what he comes out with next!

Full disclosure: Signed ARC received at 2014 BEA