Friday, May 12, 2017

Outside In review

Outside In
by Maria V. Snyder
Harlequin Teen
February 2011

First line: "My world changed in a heartbeat."

Trella's journey through space continues in this sequel to Inside Out. As before, time is referred to in weeks - characters are so many "weeks old" events happened a certain number of "weeks ago." It gives the whole book a bit of alien flavor. The ship's estimated time of arrival, one million weeks, means they'll actually be spending nearly 2,000 years in space! The mystery of where they are has been solved: the crew of their generation spaceship will be spending the rest of their lifetimes (and their children's lifetimes) traveling towards a planet where they can finally live "Outside" again.

In the meantime, Trella is facing the hard work of reuniting the "scrubs" and the "uppers" on board the ship. Frankly, the same kind of loner, adventurer spirit that enabled her to explore the ships air ducts for hours on end, eventually discovering the "Gateway" airlock to Outer Space, as well as additional levels of the ship, planned by their ancestors for the inevitable population crowding that they face, is exactly the same kind of spirit that makes her a stunningly inappropriate choice to be on the ruling council. She regularly skips out on council meetings in favor of poking around the ship's tunnels as she used to do.

Engine problems on the ship create chaos, just as Trella is dealing with being reunited with her estranged mother Dr. Lamont as well as her deepening relationship with her boyfriend Riley. It turns out that the ship's mechanical problems are due to outside interference. But who or what could be harassing the citizens of Inside from so deep in space? 

I'll recommend this for tween readers who aren't quite ready for Across the Universe by Beth Revis. The plot moves quickly, and the romance is fairly tame.

Compare to:
Across the Universe - Beth Revis
Glow - Amy Kathleen Ryan

Enclave - Ann Aguire

I received a free copy of this book from the publisher.

Friday, May 5, 2017

Read in April

Last month I read the following:

1. March: Book Three - John Lewis, Andrew Aydin & Nate Powell

picture credit: Jeune fille lisant, Charles Chaplin 1857

Friday, April 14, 2017

Frozen review

by Robin Wasserman
Simon Pulse
October 2011

First line: "Lia Kahn is dead. I am Lia Kahn."

Teenager Lia Kahn leads a charmed life until a car accident robs her of everything, including her body. Her wealthy and pushy father has her memories downloaded into an android body. Lia is horrified at she's been turned into but still makes an effort to try and adjust. Wasserman mines a lot of ethics questions here including what makes us really human, our bodies or our memories? While Lia is coping with her own overwhelming feelings over the accident and adjusting to her new body, there are also a lot of sibling rivalry issues. Her younger sister Zoie, who should have been in the car that day, has spent her whole life being overshadowed by Lia, who has always been daddy's favorite and a bit of a Queen Bee. It's finally Zoie's turn to shine at school as Lia is shunned as freak; Zoie even goes so far as to steal Lia's old boyfriend. Talk about a shocking betrayal!

Having her life turned upside-down in this way really changes Lia - and makes her parents wonder if she really is their daughter anymore, or just a close simulacrum of her. Her brusque and demanding father practically admits that he regrets pushing for the procedure. He thought he was saving his daughter, not dooming himself to having to live with a robot who reminds him of what he lost. Ouch!

In the meantime, Lia meets a group of underground rebels who are campaigning for mechs' rights. They're a desperate and sad group, taking wild risks just to prove that they can and are angry that doctors won't "upgrade" them with vision or hearing that outperforms human standards. There's just a hint of a love triangle. When things don't work out with Lia's odious ex-boyfriend Walker, she finds new friends: nerdy technology-loving human Auden and intense skinner Jude. With her new circle of friends, 
she may not be the old Lia Kahn, but she reasons that she's still a sentient being with hopes and dreams for the future. Just as Lia is just starting to pull herself together, the book ends on a shocking cliffhanger.  Not realizing her own strength, she seriously injures her friend Auden in an accident. Will he recover or die? Or will he become like Lia? Frozen is the first book in the Cold Awakening trilogy and was originally released under the title, Skinned.

Compare to:
The Adoration of Jenna Fox - Mary E. Pearson
Feed - M.T. Anderson

Uglies - Scott Westerfeld
Being Nikki - Meg Cabot

I borrowed this book from the library.

Friday, April 7, 2017

Read in March

Last month I read the following:

1. The Sound of Gravel - Ruth Wariner

picture credit:  Bertha Reading, Albert Anker

Friday, March 10, 2017

Iron King review

The Iron King
by Julie Kagawa
Harlequin Teen
February 2010

First line: "Ten years ago, on my sixth birthday, my father disappeared."

I love the whole mythol
ogy behind faeries. Not the sweet, rainbow, cute, flower fairies that little girls go crazy for - the ancient, powerful, inhuman yet awesomely beautiful sort. 

16-year-old Meghan Chase is haunted by the mysterious disappearance of her father when she was six. In the meantime, her mother has moved the family to a tiny town in Louisiana where they struggle to get by. Like any typical teenager, Meghan is obsessed with getting a car. Sounds like a pretty normal realistic fiction novel so far, right?

Meghan's best friend's name was a huge giveaway that magical things are about to be afoot, at least, for anyone in the know: Robbie Goodfell. He's an inveterate prankster but always manages to look out for Meghan, giving her the nickname, "Princess." Meghan's crushing on quarterback Scott Waldron, who we are given to understand is a good-looking, big, dumb, lunk. Rob's impassioned pleas for Meghan to steer clear of him had me wondering if Rob had feelings for Meghan, despite being friend-zoned.

There are a lot of classic themes here: Meghan's younger half-brother Ethan is kidnapped by fairies, who leave behind an evil proxy changeling in his place. She can't let this go, and is tireless in her efforts to rescue him. The older sister protecting her younger brother is common in Celtic lore. In traditional legends the fae have an aversion to iron, so the idea of having a faery rebel trying to build a powerful faction using iron and magic was a neat twist.

The story really picks up when Meghan is finally in the faerie world and introduced to Prince Ash, a coldly seductive faerie, who may or may not have her best interests at heart. One of the most terrifying things about faeries, is that they just don't have the same agendas or goals as humans. Sometimes they may feel passionately about things and in the next moment they don't care at all. If I had to choose a "team" I'd be Team Robbie, all the way. The whole faerie world is so surreal, like a dream sequence - this book would make a visually stunning movie, for sure. There's a certain art to being able to end a book satisfyingly, while still leaving enough unresolved questions to merit more in the series, and Kagawa definitely delivers on that score.

Compare to:
Lament - Maggie Stiefvater
Wicked Lovely - Melissa Marr
Dust Girl - Sarah Zettel
Dragonswood - Janet Lee Carety

I borrowed this book from the library.

Friday, March 3, 2017

Read in February 2017

Last month I read the following:

1. Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Old School - Jeff Kinney
2. Eligible: A Modern Retelling of Pride and Prejudice - Curtis Sittenfeld
3. March: Book One - John Lewis, Andrew Aydin & Nate Powell
4. March: Book Two  - John Lewis, Andrew Aydin & Nate Powell

picture credit:  A Reader, Albert Moore

Friday, February 10, 2017

Firelight review

by Sophie Jordan
Harper Teen
September 2010

 line: "Gazing out at the quiet lake, I know the risk is worth it."

I love shape-changing dragons, and was pleased to find that this book had them in scores. Sixteen year-old Jacinda Jones is all but promised to Cassian, the alpha male heir-apparent to their isolated mountain community of dragonkin. The draki society contains several different subtypes of draki with different powers. They live mostly as humans, only occasionally taking dragon form. Jacinda is a super-rare fire-breather, and the other draki in their village can't wait for her to start having children, hopefully repopulating their kind with fire-breathers again. Jacinda's a bit of a rebel and a risk-taker and the last thing she wants is to pair off with pushy, demanding Cassian. After a forbidden sunrise flight, and a close call with draki hunters, their tribe wants to clip her wings - all but tying her up to force her to breed. Her hard-edged mother decides the only way to save her is to relocate to the desert - hoping the hot dry weather will kill off Jacinda's draki half and shape-changing abilities altogether.

Once they've made their escape from their cool, foggy mountain home, Jacinda's younger twin sister Tamra is delighted to finally not have to play second-fiddle to her superstar older sister. Tamra loves the opportunity to finally be able to go to a normal high school and quickly makes new friends. While Jacinda has never been attracted to Cassian, and is glad to be free of the pressures and politics of the draki society, she loves flying and doesn't want to give up her dragon form. She's desperately holding on, by sneaking out for a few nighttime practice flights, and winds up meeting sensitive, handsome Will, who, it turns out, is the youngest son in a family of murderous draki hunters, providing a forbidden Romeo and Juliet aspect to their romance.

Compare to:
Nightshade - Andrea Cremer
Tempest Rising - Tracy Deebs
Dragonswood - Janet Lee Carey
Seraphina - Rachel Hartman

I borrowed this book from the library.

Friday, February 3, 2017

Read in January 2017

Last month I read the following:

1. The Unwanted - Lisa McMann
2. Holding on to Zoe - George Ella Lyon
3. The Accidental Abduction - Darcie Wild

picture credit:  Elegante, Frederic Soulacroix

Friday, January 27, 2017

Thinning the herd

It's time, once again, for my overhaul of my To Read List.
I'm trimming a couple titles this go around that I've been on the fence about for quite some time. I've added them... taken them off... added them back. Okay! Time to say goodbye to these:

Lost (Magic Thief, #2)
The Faerie Path (Faerie Path, #1)
Raised by Wolves (Raised by Wolves, #1)
The Hidden Gallery (The Incorrigible Children of Ashton Place #2)
The Off Season (Dairy Queen, #2)
When You Reach Me
The Mysterious Benedict Society and the Perilous Journey (The Mysterious Benedict Society, #2)
A Beautiful Dark (A Beautiful Dark, #1)
The Storm in the Barn
A Tale of Two Castles (A Tale of Two Castles, #1)
The Guild (The Guild, #1)
Dearly, Departed (Gone With the Respiration, #1)
The Springsweet (The Vespertine, #2)
Through the Ever Night (Under the Never Sky, #2)
The Glimpse (The Glimpse, #1)
The Secret of the Fortune Wookiee  (Origami Yoda, #3)
Tiger Lily
Ivy's Ever After
The Other Half of Me
These Broken Stars (Starbound, #1)
The Year of the Gadfly
Hollow City (Miss Peregrine’s Peculiar Children, #2)
Sleeping Beauty's Daughters
The Various (Touchstone Trilogy, #1)
The Blade Itself (The First Law #1)
Lady Thief (Scarlet, #2)
The Devil's Intern (The Devil's, #1)
The Two Princesses of Bamarre
Sweet Little Lies (L.A. Candy, #2)
Paper Towns
Royally Lost
The Theory of Opposites
Thumped (Bumped, #2)

Friday, January 20, 2017

ALA Midwinter 2017

Wow, it's finally here! The American Library Association is coming to my town for their Midwinter meeting. It's a great opportunity to meet with other librarians and get all the latest ideas for innovative, inspiring programs and hottest upcoming books. I'm looking forward to hearing the Youth Media Awards announced.

Friday, January 13, 2017

New Year's Resolutions 2017

Every year I make some resolutions... and check up to see how I did with last year's resolutions.

  • Last year I wanted to blog once a week. I mostly kept up with it, although I did take a break in August, a very busy month!
  • I resolved to keep writing reviews immediately after finishing a book. I wrote a few new reviews this year... but not many. I'll keep plugging at it.
  • I promised to trim my TBR down to less than 365 books. Success! I currently have 345 books listed as "to read" on my Goodreads page.
  • My big goal was to read a book a day with my daughter, and I did! I read 388 board books with her this year! 
In 2017 I'm hoping to:
  • Read at least 15 novel-length books.
  • Thin out my personal bookshelves. I have a lot of "tsundoko," books I've purchased and let pile up unread. I'll be gifting a lot of these to Little Free Libraries this year.
  • Continue blogging once a week.
  • And my big, non-book related goal is to lose weight and stay in shape!

Friday, January 6, 2017

2016 Reading Roundup

Last year was an interesting one for me. I tended to read in spurts... lots of books in the spring, and just a sprinkling of titles through the rest of the year. 27 books this year! A lot less than in years past, but that's still more than 2 books a month. I branched out quite a bit and ended up reading a lot of non-fiction and adult fiction. I also read 388 board books this year as part of my project to read at least a book a day to my daughter! Here's my complete list:

1. The Psychopath Test: A Journey Through the Madness Industry - Jon Ronson
2. The Storybook of Legends - Shannon Hale
3. Pivot Point - Kasie West
4. Outlander - Diana Gabaldon
5. Overdressed: The Shockingly High Cost of Cheap Fashion - Elizabeth L. Cline
6. A Discovery of Witches - Deborah Harkness
7. Firefight - Brandon Sanderson
8. Uprooted - Naomi Novik
9. You're Never Weird on the Internet - Felicia Day
10. The Ring and the Crown - Melissa de la Cruz
11. The Autobiography of James T. Kirk - David A. Goodman

12. Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Coast Trail - Cheryl Strayed
13. Boundaries: When to Say Yes, How to Say No to Take Control of Your Life - Henry Cloud
14. Moloka'i - Alan Brennart
15. Becoming Grandma - Lesley Stahl
16. Cruel Beauty - Rosamund Hodge
17. Disrupted: My Misadventure in the Start-up Bubble - Dan Lyons
18. Life Before Death - Abby Frucht
19. Lily and the Octopus - Steven Rowley
20. This Body - Laurel Dowd
21. What to Do With a Houseful of Memories: A Heartfelt Guide to Downsizing - Marni Jameson
22. This Savage Song - Victoria Schwab
23. The Angel and the Highlander - Donna Fletcher
24. The Midnight Queen - Sylvia Izzo Hunter
25. Kitchen Confidential: Adventures in the Culinary Underbelly - Anthony Bourdain
26. Come What May - A.M. Arthur
27. Three Dark Crowns - Kendare Blake


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