Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Crimson Skew, The--S.E. Grove

Title: The Crimson Skew
Author: S.E. Grove
Publisher: Viking, 2016
Pages: 432 p.
Source: VOYA
Compensation: None
Read: May 2016

S.E. Grove's The Crimson Skew

The Crimson Skew is the third and final book in the Mapmaker’s Trilogy, a fantasy series unlike any other. The first two books (The Glass Sentence and The Golden Specific) set up the main plot. In 1799 the world experienced what is known as the Great Disruption—all of the continents were strangely pulled out of time and put back in different eras. Nearly a century later, Sophia and Theo, two young friends searching for answers in this disjointed universe, continue on their separate journeys in this exhilarating conclusion to the trilogy. Sophia is closer than ever to finding out the truth about the disappearance of her parents. Theo is forced to fight in a war he does not believe in, while Sophia’s Uncle Shadrack is forced to work in a government he does not believe in. They all have very important roles to play in the final battle and the future of the world.

S.E. Grove has created a wonderfully unique series with multiple layers for students and teachers to explore. On the surface, this is an entertaining fantasy and adventure story for kids. Deeper, there are themes of xenophobia and racism and how people’s actions have an affect on the world on a fundamental level. The Crimson Skew and the entire trilogy are great fun books to read, as well as perfect choices for book groups and class reading.

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Monday, June 20, 2016

Dying to Tell Me--Sherryl Clark

Title: Dying to Tell Me
Author: Sherryl Clark
Publisher: Kane Miller, 2011
Pages: 217 p.
Source: Purchased
Compensation: None
Read: June 2016

Sherryl Clark's Dying to Tell Me

Let me start out by saying that I did not get paid anything to write this review. I purchased the book with my own money but I did get a 25% discount for being an Usborne Books & More consultant. I chose to buy the book and review it.

Dying to Tell Me is a quick middle school read. Sasha is a cranky teenager, angry at her mother for leaving the family, angry that she has to move to the secluded country, angry that she has no friends. Her father is the new policeman so when the family moves to Manna Creek, Sasha and her younger brother are left alone to explore the tiny Australian town. Things don't go well right from the very first day-- Sasha slips running near a creek and winds up with a concussion. Someone is not happy to have a new policeman in town and tries to scare the family away. Sasha's father adopts a retired police dog to help watch over the kids while he investigates a series of art burglaries. Just when Sasha thinks things can't get weirder, she starts hearing and seeing things that no one else can. Their dog, King, winds up being more comforting than Sasha could have ever imagined.

This was a really quick read--granted I was on a bus for multiple hours--with the right amount of adventure, suspense, and mystery, with a bit of supernatural thrown in. If you're a regular reader of this blog you know how I love my Australian authors (Garth Nix, Melina Marchetta) so I had a feeling I would respond to this one. Sasha's voice as a disgruntled teenager torn between her anger at her mom and her desire to make her Dad happy is authentic. In a weird twist of coincidence, Dying to Tell Me was selected for VOYA's Top Shelf Fiction for Middle School Readers List (February 2011)-- a list that I chaired many moons ago. This was a good entertaining read that will keep middle school readers engaged.

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Friday, June 17, 2016

Golden Specific, The--S.E. Grove

Title: The Golden Specific
Author: S.E. Grove
Publisher: Viking, 2015
Pages: 501 p.
Source: Library
Compensation: None
Read: May 2016

S.E. Grove's The Golden Specific

The Golden Specific is the sequel to The Glass Sentence and is the second book in The Mapmaker's Trilogy. Make sure you've read The Glass Sentence first because this fantasy world is a bit complex. And because you'll enjoy it. While I generally try to avoid major spoilers in my reviews, any review of a second book will spoil the first, so consider yourself warned.

I think I may have even enjoyed The Golden Specific more than the first book. So much happens! Sophia and Theo have rescued Shadrack and are enjoying life in New Occident together. Theo has begun exploring with one of Shadrack's closest friends and Shadrack has been given a seat in the government, which leaves Sophia alone to continue the search for her parents. She finds a clue that will surely lead her to more information and when Theo returns from his expedition, they decide to travel together to follow up--without Shadrack's knowledge or permission. On the day they are supposed to leave, Theo gets caught up in a murder case and Shadrack is blamed. Unaware of the trouble at home, Sophia thinks Theo has abandoned her and leaves on a ship alone. Thus begins Sophia and Theo's separate adventures.

The novel is told through both Sophia and Theo's perspectives. This lets us have more information about Theo's background and why he is so untrusting. In addition to Sophia's storyline, we also get snippets from her mother's diary from right before she and her husband disappear. Sophia befriends a couple of unlikely travel companions and learns more about mapmaking and reading as she tries to retrace her mother's footsteps.

The Golden Specific is a solid fantasy novel that is entertaining and thought-provoking. Luckily for me, I had the ARC of the final book in the trilogy waiting for me when I finished this second installment. It would have been a very long wait otherwise!
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Wednesday, June 15, 2016

Glass Sentence, The--S.E. Grove

Title: The Glass Sentence
Author: S.E. Grove
Publisher: Viking, 2014
Pages: 493 p
Source: Library
Compensation: None
Read: May 2016

S.E. Grove's The Glass Sentence

Thank you VOYA. VOYA has a tendency to send me the third in a trilogy to review... when I haven't read the first two. Sure, I grumble because I'm the type of person who has to read the first two and my time is seriously limited, but without fail I wind up loving the books and grateful for being introduced to them.

This case is no exception.

The Glass Sentence is the first book in a truly unique fantasy series for Middle School students. Sophia Tims is a young girl living in Boston in 1891. But this is not Boston in the United States because there is no United States. In 1799 time paused for everyone--people frozen in whatever they were doing--as they watched an entire year flash before their eyes. When time resumed again, the continents were all flung into different time periods. Places that were once known, were now foreign and undiscovered. After a hundred years the Eastern Seaboard became known as New Occident and developed quite differently than it would have without the Great Disruption of 1799.

Sophia lives with her Uncle Shadrack, a famous cartologer and explorer, because her explorer parents disappeared 8 years earlier on an urgent mission. When the government decides it needs to close the borders and prevent foreigners from coming in, Sophia is concerned her parents will never find their way home. When Shadrack is kidnapped, Sophia knows it's up to her to save him and embarks on her first adventure outside of the border. She's joined by Theo, a refugee from the West, who has his own secrets.

I truly enjoyed this novel. The premise was pretty unique--a world made up of different time periods--as well as the fantasy elements--maps are not just two-dimensional pieces of paper but can be made using different elements and when awoken they let the mapreader actually experience what the map shows (memory maps). I'm a big fantasy reader and I loved the world-building in this series. It's the perfect book group book--some kids might need a little help conceptualizing the different time periods--and it has much deeper issues that are relevant today of border closings and being afraid of foreigners. My 11 1/2 year old blitzed through the series after I gave him a brief description (and chose to do his school book talk on the second one) and my 9 year old just started it. It might be a bit above her with all of the time talk and memory maps, but I had no problem letting her try it.

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Monday, June 13, 2016

Dearest--Alethea Kontis

Title: Dearest
Author: Alethea Kontis
Publisher:  HMH for Young Readers, 2015
Pages: 288 p.
Source: Library
Compensation: None
Read: May 2016

Alethea Kontis's Dearest

I really loved Enchanted and Hero by Alethea Kontis so it's not surprising this third book in the series about the Woodcutter sisters is just as good. Dearest focuses on Friday, the fifth oldest Woodcutter sister, who is a magical seamstress. Friday's carriage is a casualty of Saturday's flood, but luckily for her, a traveler discovers the unconscious girl and brings her to Queen Sunday's castle. While at the castle she stumbles upon seven sleeping brothers and falls immediately in love with Tristan. Unfortunately her beloved and his brothers are cursed to be swans during the day. Their sister holds the key to the salvation--but only if she can weave seven shirts from nettles before the new moon. Can Friday's special magic help the cursed siblings and save her true love?

Fans of the Woodcutter sisters will not be disappointed with this installment. Although I enjoyed the first two a bit more, I still really like Dearest and would recommend it to anyone who likes fairy tales.

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Thursday, April 07, 2016

Epidemic, The--Suzanne Young

Title: The Epidemic
Author: Suzanne Young
Publisher: Simon & Schuster, 2016
Pages: 384 p.
Source: VOYA
Compensation: None
Read: February 2016

Suzanne Young's The Epidemic

In a dystopian society, closers are hired by grieving families to impersonate a deceased child and give the family a chance at closure. Quinlan McKee is the best closer there is, but then she discovers that everything she has ever believed is a lie. Not sure who she can trust, Quinn flees her controlling employers and sets out to discover who she really is, uncovering far more than she could imagine.

Quinn is a sympathetic character and readers will want her and fellow closer on the run, Deacon, to succeed in their mission and their relationship. Suzanne Young's latest book perfectly illustrates how good intentions can lead to horrible results. An effort to save people from pain and grief actually causes much more damage than simply letting people feel hurt. The Epidemic is the sequel to The Remedy and both novels serve as companion books that lead to the events in Young's popular Program duology. Although this new duology can stand on its own, teens who have read The Program and The Treatment already will finish The Epidemic with a deeper understanding of how and why society could wind up like it did. Readers who have not read the Program duology yet will be interested enough to continue with Young's unique dystopian world.

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Tuesday, April 05, 2016

Trix and the Faerie Queen--Alethea Kontis

On Tour with Prism Book Tours.

I don't normally sign up for book tours (in fact I've never signed up for one!) but how could I pass up an opportunity to get a copy of Alethea Kontis's newest Arilland book? Read on for information from the tour, my review of the book, and a giveaway. Don't forget to check out the other tour stops.

Title: Trix and the Faerie Queen

Author: Alethea Kontis
Publisher: Alethea Kontis, 2016
Pages: 210 p.
Source: Author/Prism Book Tours
Compensation: None

Trix and the Faerie Queen (Books of Arilland Book #6)
Alethea Kontis's Trix and The Faerie Queen
Summary from the tour:

Join Trix Woodcutter on an epic new animal-filled adventure!

Fey magic and animal magic: that troublemaking imp Trix Woodcutter has both, if not the ability to use them to their full potential. While traveling with his companion—the golden girl Lizinia—to see the King of Eagles, Trix is sent a vision of the Faerie Queen, who is in desperate need of his help. An evil sorceress has stormed Faerie and trapped all the fey magic under the Hill, leaving the Faerie Queen powerless! Trix’s talent for communicating with animals is desperately needed…but before he braves the wild world of Faerie he must arm himself, with nothing less than the bow and arrows of a god.

With the help of his gilded companion, her ghost-cat godfather, a blind brownie and a sister or two, the Boy Who Talks to Animals must befriend a mischievous leprechaun, best a wolf, and journey into the depths of Faerie to restore order and free the fey magic before the imbalance destroys the world.

Trix and the Faerie Queen is second in The Trix Adventures and sixth in the Books of Arilland.

Fans of the Woodcutter Sisters: Desperate to know what happened to Saturday and Peregrine after they found Trix at the end of HERO? Here’s your chance!

My review:

Trix and the Faerie Queen picks up where Trixter left off-- Trix and his new companion are on their way to find the King of Eagles. But Trix has yet another vision, this time from the Faerie Queen, which delays his quest and sets him on a new adventure to rescue the Queen and save all of Faerie-land.

This latest offering is a very quick read. Readers will enjoy the blossoming fairy tale friendship between Trix and his golden girl Lizinia. Their budding relationship is totally fairy tale--Lizinia is the perfect companion and Trix is completely appreciative of her talents. Fans of Arilland will be happy to see a couple of Trix's sisters and hear about more. Readers will be left clamoring for more at the end of the novel and eagerly await the next installment.

There were a few instances in the ebook I received that would benefit from better editing to fix the typos and incomplete sentences, but overall the story is quite good and anyone interested in Arilland will overlook them.

Other Books in the Series

Hero (Woodcutter Sisters #2)
Trixter (Books of Arilland #3)Dearest (Woodcutter Sisters, #3)Tales of Arilland (Books of Arilland #5)

Alethea Kontis is a princess, author, fairy godmother, and geek. Her bestselling Books of Arilland fairytale series won two Gelett Burgess Children’s Book Awards (Enchanted and Tales of Arilland), and was twice nominated for the Andre Norton Award. Alethea also penned the AlphaOops picture books, The Wonderland Alphabet, Diary of a Mad Scientist Garden Gnome, Beauty & Dynamite, The Dark-Hunter Companion (w/Sherrilyn Kenyon), and a myriad of poems, essays, and short stories. Princess Alethea lives and writes on the Space Coast of Florida with her teddy bear, Charlie. You can find her on her YouTube channel, all the social media, and at www.aletheakontis.com.

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Monday, April 04, 2016

Trixter--Alethea Kontis

Title: Trixter
Author: Alethea Kontis
Publisher: Alethea Kontis, 2015
Pages: 144 p.
Source: Purchased ebook
Compensation: None
Read: March 2015

Alethea Kontis's Trixter

I discovered Alethea Kontis's first book in the Arilland series, Enchanted, while browsing my library's shelves for something interesting.  Then I discovered the second book, Hero, while browsing my library's ebook shelves. After that I would periodically check the ebook collection to see if there were more. I came across the rest quite by accident--or fate--while checking my twitter feed one night. I'm not quite as good about checking that account--I'm usually on my personal one talking about running--but I've been trying to be better about it. This particular night Kontis tweeted the covers of the other books in the series and I realized I was quite behind! My library still didn't own the ebooks and I was sitting on my couch, so when she tweeted that Amazon was selling the ebook for only .99, I figured I'd better listen & buy it.

Trixter tells some of the events of Hero from adopted cousin-brother Trix's point of view. At the beginning of Hero, Trix has poisoned his family so that he could travel to see his recently deceased birth-mother. After discovering what Trix has done, Saturday unwittingly summons an ocean and sets about on her adventure. In Trixter, we see the effects of that magical ocean as well as the rest of Trix's journey. Before Trix can complete his quest to see his birth-mother, he must survive the ocean's sudden coming and leaving. The Boy Who Talks to Animals is helped by both normal animals and magical creatures and gains a new traveling companion when he stumbles upon a bewitched cottage with a golden girl.

Just as enchanting as the previous books of Arilland, Trixter will not disappoint fairy tale fans.

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Tuesday, March 22, 2016

Lady Midnight--Cassandra Clare

Title: Lady Midnight
Author: Cassandra Clare
Publisher: Margaret K. McElderry, 2016
Pages: 720 p.
Source: Library e-book
Compensation: None
Read: March 2016

Cassandra Clare's Lady Midnight

Oh, the FEELS.

I am officially proclaiming my membership in the Shadowhunter fan club. I wasn't sure how I would react to this book... I am a Jace/Clary fan and I found the Emma parts of the previous series to be a bit distracting. So I went into this new series a little hesitant. I mean, I knew I would read it, but would I love it? Would I respond to Emma the way I did to Clary?

I'm getting ahead of myself though.

Lady Midnight takes place five years after the events in City of Heavenly Fire. The Shadowhunters are trying to recover from Sebastian's treachery and the Dark War. 17 year old Emma is still trying to recover from the murder of her parents--blamed on Sebastian although she doesn't believe it--and bent on revenge. Afraid that she would be taken from the only family she's known, she agreed to be parabatai with Julian Blackthorn when she was just 12 years old. Julian's father was also killed during the Dark War and even though his Uncle has legal custody of him and his 4 siblings, Julian is the one who really takes care of both the family and the Institute. 

As parabatai, Julian and Emma have a sacred bond. One that prohibits romantic love. This isn't a problem until a series of events occur that push the two closer together. The Clave has laws that seem unjust and unnecessary, but sometimes their laws really are intended to protect Shadowhunters. But for Emma and Julian, it might be too late.

At the same time Emma and Julian are dealing with forbidden love, dead bodies have been turning up with cryptic writing on them--just like the writing found on Emma's parents. Some of the bodies have been fairies, so the Wild Hunt makes a bargain with the Blackthorns. If they investigate, they will release half-fey Mark Blackthorn from his service to the Wild Hunt and allow him to choose his own fate. Mark has been gone 5 human years, but countless fairy ones, so his transition back to the family is not as smooth as the younger Blackthorn siblings had hoped.

There are twists and big plot reveals that I am trying very hard not to spoil. It is going to be quite difficult waiting for the next book!

So, yes, I did fall in love with Emma and Julian. I did get swept up in the story and invested in their futures. Fans of the Shadowhunters will love this one as well. Those unfamiliar will want to read the earlier books. Although this is Emma and Julian's story, our favorites do make tiny cameos. Clary and Jace, Magnus, Jem and Tessa. Others are mentioned as well giving us updates on characters from the other series. I can't wait for the next one!

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Wednesday, March 02, 2016

See How They Run--Ally Carter

Title: See How They Run
Author: Ally Carter 
Publisher: Scholastic, 2015
Pages: 336 p.
Source: Library e-book
Compensation: None
Read: February 2016

Ally Carter's See How They Run

There are a few authors that I consider must-reads. I will read absolutely any and all of their books--Sarah Dessen, Melina Marchetta, Garth Nix, Rainbow Rowell. Ally Carter is quickly climbing to the top of that list. I hope she doesn't start publishing her grocery lists because I have enough to read.

I've read all of the Gallagher Girls, the Heist Society books, the short stories tying them together, and now her latest Embassy Row series. I loved loved all of her books, but I think that maybe Embassy Row might be favorite. It's difficult to say, but I think it's true.

See How They Run picks up the story right where All Fall Down left off. If you haven't read All Fall Down yet, get on it. Now. Go the library, go to Amazon, go where ever you need to go and get it read. This is not a pick it up in the middle type of series. I'm not responsible for spoiling you on All Fall Down if you continue reading this review.

In All Fall Down, Grace learns that almost everything she has believed has been wrong. She was right in that her beloved mother did not perish in a fire and was indeed shot to death. She was wrong in blaming the "Scarred man" for pulling the trigger. The Scarred Man *was* sent to kill her but was actually trying to save her. The truth is so much worse than what she feared--Grace is the one who fired the fateful shot. See How They Run deals with the aftermath of Grace's discovery and reveals the mystery surrounding Grace's mother is even deeper than Grace believed. The more that Grace learns, the more secrets she must keep from her new friends and her protective older brother Jamie. But as Grace digs deeper, she quickly realizes her own life is in danger and that some people are willing to murder to keep secrets from becoming known.

Grace is such a complex character. She is stronger than she admits, but also vulnerable. There are so many secrets and lies that she doesn't even know if she can believe herself anymore. Is she completely crazy? Or is she the only one who can see the truth?

There is so much in this book--Grace's complicated relationship with her older brother Jamie who comes to check on his fragile sister; Grace's relationship with her brother's best friend & her romantic interest Alexei; the political ramifications when Jamie's West Point roommate is murdered and Alexei is blamed. It is nearly impossible to put down See How They Run--the pages practically drip with intrigue. The story is gripping, the characters are gripping, the only downside is having to wait for Carter to release the next one. The ending of See How They Run will have you gasping for more.

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Monday, February 29, 2016

Never Always Sometimes--Adi Alsaid

Title: Never Always Sometimes
Author: Adi Alsaid
Publisher: Harlequin Teen, 2015
Pages: 320 p.
Source: Library e-book (I think)
Compensation: None
Read: November 2015 (I think)

Adi Alsaid's Never Always Sometimes

I almost forgot to review this book. Not because it wasn't good. Not because I didn't like it. I just simply forgot to put it on my Goodreads... And when you go months with just reading and not reviewing, well, you need to rely on your Goodreads to help you remember what you've read! From the gap in my log I am guessing that I read this in November. I am also guessing that it was an e-book since I seem to be reading a lot of e-books lately. I'm pretty sure I forgot to list it because I read it so quickly.

Anyway, I enjoyed Adi Alsaid's first book, Let's Get Lost, when I reviewed it for VOYA. I enjoyed this one too. Told in alternating chapters, Never Sometimes Always tells the story of best friends Dave and Julia who have decided in their senior year to do all the cliche things they promised they wouldn't. The only problem is that Dave is already doing one of the biggest things--falling in secret love with his best friend. He's pined for her since he met her but was always safely in the friend zone. Crossing things off the cliche list is presenting him with new opportunities--but sometimes you need to be careful what you wish for.

This was a really quick read for me. I liked Dave and I liked Julia (as oblivious as she was) and even though I have no official record of reading this, it has stayed with me. I remember staying up late into the night to finish. I'd recommend it to older YA readers (this is not a tween book) and look forward to Alsaid's future stories.

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Wednesday, February 17, 2016

Remedy (The)--Suzanne Young

Title: The Remedy
Author: Suzanne Young
Publisher: Simon Pulse, 2015
Pages: 401 p
Source: Library
Compensation: None
Read: February 2016

Suzanne Young's The Remedy

Quinlan McKee can be anyone. Just by changing her hair and eye color and studying the mannerisms of a particular person, she can reasonably pass for any white teenage girl. It's a good trait to have when you are a closer--someone hired by a grieving family to act as the deceased and give the family a chance to say goodbye. It's the ultimate therapy and can be very beneficial but it's not always understood or appreciated by everyone in the deceased's life. Quin must immerse herself in somebody else's life while remaining detached enough to remember who she is. When she is sent on a job immediately after returning from one and it turns out to be the longest one yet, she's at risk of completely losing herself.

The Remedy is a prequel to Suzanne Young's popular duology The Program and The Treatment. I have not read those books but I just got the sequel to The Remedy to review for VOYA so I figured I'd better at least read this one. Despite my lack of familiarity with this dystopian world, I enjoyed this novel. It is an interesting premise--how often have we wanted the chance to say goodbye to a loved one? You can see the appeal to therapy like this and also the horrible risks to everyone involved. The very end of the book is a bit mind blowing. Although I had no trouble reading this and it definitely has its own story, I'm sure that if I had been able to read the other books I would have gotten even more satisfaction out of it. An "a-ha, so that's how it all started" moment. I am looking forward to reading the next one and seeing how it all plays out.

Monday, February 15, 2016

Rogue--Mark Frost

Title: Rogue
Author: Mark Frost
Publisher: Random House, 2015
Pages: 368 p.
Source: Library e-book
Compensation: None
Read: January 2016

Mark Frost's Rogue
At the end of the last novel, Will West discovers that the old man he has been interning with is actually his grandfather and his grandfather is not only in league with the bad guys--he's in charge. Forced to make a tough decision to save the people he loves, Will pretends to go along with his grandfather. He works "undercover" as a dutiful grandson learning about his family legacy, all while building a plan to end the Other Team's nefarious plot to take over our world. Will is not alone in his work. Trusted friends Ajay, Nick, Elise and Shaman/cross country coach Jericho all assist him in his most daring plan ever--to break into the Never-Was, rescue good guy Dave, and save the world from the bad guys (humans and demons).

This final novel is a non-stop action ride. While a lot of the second book was surveillance and information-gathering, this one is one battle after the next. The majority of the story takes place in the demonic realm, the Never-Was, and is appropriately full of monsters and supernatural events. Will and his friends are able to use more of their new-found powers. The Paladin Prophecy dipped its toes in the supernatural, but Rogue is fully immersed in it. 

I thoroughly enjoyed this trilogy. I would have liked just a bit more with Dave and the Hierarchy, but I was satisfied with the ending of this series. (Although a short story featuring Dave would be pretty awesome. And if there is ever a movie made he should be played by Jason Statham). Fans of action packed adventure stories will not be disappointed.

Friday, February 12, 2016

Lifeboat Clique--Kathy Parks

Title: Lifeboat Clique
Author: Kathy Parks
Publisher: HarperCollins, 2016
Pages: 336 p.
Source: VOYA
Compensation: None
Read: December 2015

Kathy Parks's Lifeboat Clique

Denver has been ostracized at school for years thanks to her ex-BFF Abigail, but things are finally looking up when a good-looking nice boy asks her to go to a party with him. Despite her reservations about going to one of Abigail's parties (and lack of parental approval), Denver decides to take the risk and accept Croix's invitation. Not even Abigail and her ditzy flunkies Sienna and Hayley can ruin her good night with Croix but just as their lips are about to touch, an earthquake and subsequent tsunami hit the coast of California. Croix and Denver manage to crawl to a rooftop but Croix is knocked off by a palm tree. Denver, the outcast, is left alone on the now floating rooftop with Abigail, Sienna, Hayley and Trevor, the popular kids. Luckily for them Denver has watched a lot of Discovery Channel while they were all having fun without her, but even she cannot save them all.

Although the plot is pretty grim--Denver and her companions battle dehydration, hunger, hallucinations, and death--Kathy Parks has created such a witty, sardonic main character that the book itself is not grim. It is easy and fun to read. Readers get the backstory of why Abigail and Denver are ex-BFFs as Parks deftly weaves it through the main plot. Readers looking for a bit of humor and a side of sarcasm with their tragedy will gravitate towards Lifeboat Clique.

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Peas & Carrots--Tanita S. Davis

Title: Peas & Carrots
Author: Tanita S. Davis
Publisher: Knopf, 2016
Pages: 288 p.
Source: VOYA
Compensation: None
Read: November 2015
Tanita S. Davis's Peas & Carrots
Dess has never had a normal family life. She’s moved from place to place with her drug addict mother, living in fear of her criminal drug dealing father. When her mother has a child with another man, Dess knows she needs to intervene or her dangerous father will hurt them all. Four years later, Dess has settled into a predictable life in a group home while she waits for her mother to get out of prison and testify against her father, but then the unpredictable happens and Dess is placed in a foster home—the same one her little brother has grown up in. Dess is completely out of her element and immediately clashes with her brother’s loving African American family, especially his fifteen year old foster sister, Hope. When Dess’s life is thrown another curve ball, she realizes what family really means.

Written in chapters alternating Dess’s and Hope’s views, Davis manages to address racial stereotypes without being heavy-handed. Although Dess and Hope are very different on the outside, they both face the same insecurities. Peas and Carrots is a quick interesting read. There are some unanswered questions about Dess’s parents--will her mother actually testify against her father and will Dess ever be safe from him again--but ultimately this story is about Dess’s new family and new beginnings.

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Monday, February 08, 2016

Tales from the Shadowhunter Academy--Cassandra Clare

Title: Tales from the Shadowhunter Academy
Author: Cassandra Clare
Publisher: Margaret K. McElderry Books, 2015
Source: Library e-book
Compensation: None
Read: January 2016

Cassandra Clare's Tales of the Shadowhunter Academy

Welcome to Shadowhunter Academy
The Lost Herondale
The Whitechapel Fiend
Nothing But Shadows
The Evil We Love
Pale Kings and Princes
Bitter of Tongue
The Fiery Trial
Born to Endless Night
Angels Twice Descending

There are many people that think Cassandra Clare has gone too far with the Shadowhunter series...and there are many people who will read anything that has to do with the Shadowhunters. I guess I fall into the latter category. This is a series of stories or novellas that chronicle Simon Lewis's time at the Shadowhunter Academy. The regulars from both The Mortal Instruments and The Infernal Devices make appearances throughout the different stories to help support Simon on his quest to graduate the Academy and be a real Shadowhunter (and get his full memories back).

I read each of the novellas as separate books because that's how my library had them as e-books. I think they will be bound together at some point under the title Tales From the Shadowhunter Academy. I finished many of them (sometimes more than one) in a single day. They were quick to read and I enjoyed them all. Some were better than others. Like the Bane Chronicles, they were co-authored by different people. Many of them gave some background info to the characters we already know from the other series and some set up the next series. If you're a Shadowhunter fan, you'll enjoy revisiting the world.

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Saturday, February 06, 2016

Lady Renegades--Rachel Hawkins

Title: Lady Renegades
Author: Rachel Hawkins
Publisher: G.P. Putnam's, 2016
Pages: 272 p.
Source: VOYA
Compensation: None
Read: December 2015

Rachel Hawkins's Lady Renegades
Normal school girl Harper Price has accepted her new life as a warrior Paladin--a mystical bodyguard for the future-predicting Oracle. She has accepted her new role as the Oracle's girlfriend. She has accepted her ex-boyfriend's new position as the Oracle's Mage. After finally doing all this accepting, Harper's life drastically changes once again when Oracle David cannot control his powers and escapes the safety of Pine Grove. As David loses more of his humanity, he unwittingly turns teenage girls into more Paladins who believe his number one threat is Harper. As if battling her sadness over David's departure wasn't enough, now Harper has to protect herself from his new Paladins, all while her powers grow weaker in David's absence. Determined to save him from himself, Harper embarks on the ultimate summer road trip to find David and make things right.

Reminiscent of the Buffy the Vampire Slayer tv show, Rachel Hawkins does not disappoint in this final book of the Rebel Belle trilogy. Funny and sassy, Harper is the perfect combination of strong heroine and Southern lady. Although Hawkins gives enough information for new readers to pick up the story, reading the first two books greatly enhances enjoyment of the third. Lady Renegades is a must read for fans of books with the "chosen one" storyline, as well as strong female lead characters.

This is obviously my VOYA review since it's well-written but I feel compelled to add: I really really loved this series. 

Friday, February 05, 2016

Miss Mayhem--Rachel Hawkins

Title: Miss Mayhem
Author: Rachel Hawkins
Publisher: Putnam Juvenile, 2015
Pages: 273 p.
Source: Library e-book
Compensation: None
Read: December 2015

If you haven't read Rebel Belle yet, you may want to do that before you read this review.

Rachel Hawkin's Miss Mayhem

Harper Price's life has been turned completely upside down but she's finally got a handle on it. She and ex-boyfriend new-Mage Ryan have teamed up to protect new-boyfriend Oracle David and keep his powers in check. There don't seem to be any threats on his life anymore and Harper can breathe a little easier. Until, of course, things change. The Ephors (or Powers-That-Be) have decided that instead of try to kill David, they should train him instead. But before they can train him, Harper has to go through a final test to be a true Paladin. A test that will either make her stronger than ever or kill her. On top of it all she's decided to be in the Miss Pine Grove pageant.

I loved this so much. Fun and quick to read. It was just as good as the first one. I truly don't know how I missed this series when it first came out, but I will blame the children. The end is a bit of a cliffhanger which is unfortunate for people who didn't get the ARC mailed to them to review.  Luckily, I did.

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