Friday, September 20, 2013

New Releases: September 2013

So yes, this post is late again.  But here you go, all the September releases I'd like to read.

Thursday, August 22, 2013

New Releases: August 2013

So I'm way late with this and August is almost over already, but oh well.  These are the August 2013 books I'd like to read. I've already got If You Could be Mine on hold from the library.

Friday, July 19, 2013

Friday Faves: Summer Reads

So based on my own rules, I guess I was supposed to do this a couple of weeks ago.  Oh well.  It's my blog and I can slack off if I want to.

There's still a little bit of summer left, so today's Friday Faves topic is summer books.  I thought I should start by saying what I think makes a good book for summer.  In my opinion, a good summer read is a contemporary book that takes place in the summer.  Though it may take on some serious topics, it should be largely lighthearted and fun to read.  Good summer reads often involve romance, but not always.

So here's five summer reads I love.

Monday, July 15, 2013

Sidekicked by John David Anderson

Published June 25th 2013 by Walden Pond Press

With not nearly enough power comes way too much responsibility. 

Andrew Bean might be a part of H.E.R.O., a secret organization for the training of superhero sidekicks, but that doesn’t mean that life is all leaping tall buildings in single bounds. First, there’s Drew’s power: Possessed of super senses – his hearing, sight, taste, touch, and smell are the most powerful on the planet – he’s literally the most sensitive kid in school. There’s his superhero mentor, a former legend who now spends more time straddling barstools than he does fighting crime. And then there’s his best friend, Jenna – their friendship would be complicated enough if she weren’t able to throw a Volkswagen the length of a city block. Add in trying to keep his sidekick life a secret from everyone, including his parents, and the truth is clear: Middle school is a drag even with superpowers. 

But this was all before a supervillain long thought dead returned to Justicia, superheroes began disappearing at an alarming rate, and Drew’s two identities threatened to crash head-on into each other. Drew has always found it pretty easy to separate right from wrong, good from evil. It’s what a superhero does. But what happens when that line starts to break down?
Rating: 4/5


Drew's superpower doesn't seem very super: he has heightened senses.  But it was enough to land him in H.E.R.O., a training program for sidekicks.  Unfortunately, the superhero he gets paired with isn't that great either.  The Titan, once the greatest superhero that Justicia had, is now washed up and out of shape.  Needless to say, Drew's feeling out of place, both in H.E.R.O., where he feels he's lagging behind his friends, and in his daily life, where he has to keep his secret identity to himself.

So first of all, you should know that Sidekicked is a middle grade novel.  This is the first time I've done a middle grade review on the blog.  Though I mostly read and review YA, you may see a few more middle grade reviews pop up here from time to time.

This book has a strong middle grade voice and a humorous tone.  It pokes fun at superhero tropes and isn't afraid to be silly.  At the same time, it has a compelling plot and interesting relationships between the characters.  I thought it captured the essence of the awkward middle school years well.  The adult characters were great, too.  While Sidekicked didn't shy away from the fact that grown-ups aren't perfect, it also didn't dismiss them as useless the way some middle grade and young adult books do.  John David Anderson found a good balance there.

One thing I would have liked to see more of was the relationship between Drew and his parents.  Drew's secret identity keeps them at a distance, and although he dresses up in costume to be a sidekick, it's at home that he feels like he's wearing a mask.  I wanted to see Drew's relationship with his parents develop further, but to me disappointment, it didn't.

Honestly, I'm a little disappointed that there's no sequel planned for this book.  I really liked it, and I wish there was more to read.

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

First Lines I Love: An Addition

Hi lovelies,
A while back, I made a post called Friday Faves: First Lines I Love.  I've just come across another lovable first line, one which I would have included if I'd read the book at that time, and I wanted to share it.

My Life Next Door by Huntley Fitzpatrick
First Sentence: "The Garretts were forbidden from the start."
Why I Love It:  Who can resist a forbidden thing?  I certainly can't.

Monday, July 8, 2013

Five Things I Love About Kady Cross' Steampunk Chronicles

Hello lovelies,
Earlier this week, I was able to read The Girl with the Iron Touch, the third book in the Steampunk Chronicles series by Kady Cross.  Instead of writing you a review of just this book, I came up with a list of five things I love about this series as a whole.

1. Steampunk
     This one seems obvious.  The series is, after all, called The Steampunk Chronicles.  But I love well-executed steampunk, and this series has it.

2. Strong Female Characters
     Finley and Emily are fully developed, fiercely independent characters.  Finley has physical strength; Emily has mental strength.  Both girls display emotional strength.  I adore these young women.

3. Romance To Die For
     Emily and Sam are the absolute cutest couple ever.  I found it fascinating to watch Finley with both Griffin and Jack.  Kady Cross gets bonus points for writing a totally non-sickening love tringle.

4. Expert Plotting
     This series has plots that keep you on your toes with endless action, danger, and twists.

5. Beautiful Covers
     I admit it - I judge books by their covers.  I love the covers for all three books in this series.  They're beautiful and completely fitting.  I like the one from The Girl with the Iron Touch best of all.

In short - I love, love, love these books.  I find myself recommending them to people I know all the time (and once even to a stranger).  Now, I'm recommending them to all of you.

Note: I won a copy of The Girl with the Iron Touch from a giveaway run by the publisher.

Thursday, July 4, 2013

Truth or Dare by Jacqueline Green

Published May 14th 2013 by Little, Brown Books for Young Readers

When a simple round of truth or dare spins out of control, three girls find it’s no longer a party game. It’s do or die.

It all started on a whim: the game was a way for Tenley Reed to reclaim her popularity, a chance for perfect Caitlin “Angel” Thomas to prove she’s more than her Harvard application. Loner Sydney Morgan wasn’t even there; she was hiding behind her camera like usual. But when all three start receiving mysterious dares long after the party has ended, they’re forced to play along—or risk exposing their darkest secrets.

How far will Tenley, Caitlin and Sydney go to keep the truth from surfacing? And who’s behind this twisted game?

Set against the backdrop of Echo Bay, an isolated beach town haunted by misfortune, Truth or Dare is a highly charged debut that will keep readers in suspense from beginning to end.

Rating: 2/5


In a small town, a group of beautiful girls are being sent anonymous notes.  The note sender is threatening to reveal their darkest secrets if they don't do exactly what the notes say to.

Oh, wait.  Haven't I read this book before?  I'm pretty sure I have, but it was called Pretty Little Liars and it was much better than this.

I loved Pretty Little Liars (or at least the first 4 books, but that's a rant for another time), and I've been waiting for someone to pull off another story of its kind.  But I'll have to keep waiting, because Truth or Dare didn't quite get it right.   After a game of truth or dare at a party, an anonymous "darer" began sending three girls notes, continuing the game.  The darer threatens to reveal the girls' darkest secrets if they don't play.

And that's where we hit the first snag, because the secrets these girls are keeping aren't even that interesting.  Certainly not scandalous enough to warrant the lengths they go to to keep them secret.  And, apparently, none of them has more than one secret, so the darer keeps making the same threats over and over.  By the end, it felt tired.

The seond problem I had with this book was the girls' backstories.  Tenley's father is dead.  Caitlin was kidnapped, though the book never specifies for how long or how she was found.  Sydney has an addiction to playing with fire.  These aspects of the characters could have been really interesting, but they weren't incorporated into the book well.  Instead of enhancing the story, they muddled it, and really held the plot back.

My last problem with this book was the ending, which was rushed, predictable, and just an overall disappointment.

This book gets 2 stars, because the writing wasn't bad on a technical level, and I was able to finish the book.  I certainly won't be reading the rest of this series, though.  It's not worth the time.

I received a copy of this book through a Goodreads giveaway.

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Viral Nation by Shaunta Grimes

Published July 2nd 2013 by Berkley Trade

After a virus claimed nearly the entire global population, the world changed. The United States splintered into fifty walled cities where the surviving citizens clustered to start over. The Company, which ended the plague by bringing a life-saving vaccine back from the future, controls everything. They ration the scant food and supplies through a lottery system, mandate daily doses of virus suppressant, and even monitor future timelines to stop crimes before they can be committed.

Brilliant but autistic, sixteen-year-old Clover Donovan has always dreamed of studying at the Waverly-Stead Academy. Her brother and caretaker, West, has done everything in his power to make her dream a reality. But Clover’s refusal to part with her beloved service dog denies her entry into the school. Instead, she is drafted into the Time Mariners, a team of Company operatives who travel through time to gather news about the future.

When one of Clover’s missions reveals that West’s life is in danger, the Donovans are shattered. To change West’s fate, they’ll have to take on the mysterious Company. But as its secrets are revealed, they realize that the Company’s rule may not be as benevolent as it seems. In saving her brother, Clover will face a more powerful force than she ever imagined… and will team up with a band of fellow misfits and outsiders to incite a revolution that will change their destinies forever.

Rating: 3.5/5


What I love about this book is that the main character, Clover, is autistic - but the book isn't about autism.  The book is about a dystopian future, time travel, and revolution.  I want to see more books like this, but not just for autistic characters.  I want to see more characters who are in some way different from the norm going on adventures or falling in love.  I want to see them doing everything that "regular" characters get to do in books.

I did have some complaints about this book.  For one, I thought the time travel aspect was introduced too late.  I didn't read the book description before starting this book, so all I knew about it was that it was dystopian.  A lot of the beginning of the book was showing how Clover and West lived, and talking about the Academy.  When they finally started talking about time travel, I felt like it came out of nowhere.

I think I've mentioned before that I'm not a fan of multiple points of view.  This book was told in the third person, alternating between Clover and West's point of view.  And that was completely working for me, but then about halfway through the book she included a section from their father's point of view, and I didn't like that at all.

My last issue with the book is that I didn't feel anything was resolved at the end.  As Clover and West unraveled the complicated web that they were wrapped up in, it just kept leading to more questions, and very few answers.  I know that this book is the first in a series, but I still don't really like to be left hanging like that.

I'm not sure how the series as a whole will turn out.  I think it will take a lot of skill to tie all the threads of the story together in a satisfying way.  It could be incredible, or it could crash and burn.  I guess we'll just have to wait and see.

Viral Nation is available today! I was able to read this book through NetGalley.

Sunday, June 30, 2013

New Releases: July 2013

Hello Lovelies,
Tomorrow is July first, so here's all the YA releases I'm looking forward to in the upcoming month.

What new books are you looking forward to reading? Tell me in a comment.

Thursday, June 27, 2013

Linked by Imogen Howson

Published June 11th 2013 by Simon & Schuster Books For Young Readers

Elissa used to have it all: looks, popularity, and a bright future. But for the last three years, she’s been struggling with terrifying visions, phantom pains, and mysterious bruises that appear out of nowhere.

Finally, she’s promised a cure: minor surgery to burn out the overactive area of her brain. But on the eve of the procedure, she discovers the shocking truth behind her hallucinations: she’s been seeing the world through another girl’s eyes. 

Elissa follows her visions, and finds a battered, broken girl on the run. A girl—Lin—who looks exactly like Elissa, down to the matching bruises. The twin sister she never knew existed. 

Now, Elissa and Lin are on the run from a government who will stop at nothing to reclaim Lin and protect the dangerous secrets she could expose—secrets that would shake the very foundation of their world. 

Rating: 4/5


Elissa was born with an identical twin.  The government took this twin at birth and classified her as a "nonhuman human-sourced entity."  They kept her in a secret facility and, for reasons that aren't revealed until the end, did things that caused her to be in physical pain.

Meanwhile, Lissa got to live a normal life with her mom, dad, and older brother - until three years ago, when she began to experience halucinations, inexplicable pain, and bruises that appear out of nowhere.  Just after she schedules a surgery that is promised to cure her, she discoveres the truth: all of her symptoms are caused by a psychic link between her and the twin sister she didn't know existed.  The pains and bruises are echoes of the pain her twin has been experiencing, and the halucinations are actually visions of the twin's life.  The twin, who names herself Lin, has escaped and needs Lissa's help.

This book had more sci-fi aspects than I expected from reading the description.  For one, it doesn't even take place on Earth, but on a planet called Sekoia.  Another is that space travel played an important role.  Other things, such as terraforming, are mentioned in passing.

One of the most interesting parts of this book, for me, was seeing Lin develop empathy for others.  Lin has been repeatedly told that she isn't human, and those she's known who are considered human have done nothing but hurt her.  In the beginning, she holds negative feelings towards everyone who was classified as human, except for Lissa, and doesn't understand why she should care what happens to them.  I liked seeing her begin to do selfless things for other people.

Something else I liked was how Lissa and Lin connected as sisters.  Lin already knew that Lissa existed, but Lissa had no idea about Lin.  Although she applies the term "sister" to Lin almost right away, it takes longer for Lissa to really trust her.

Although the aspects I most enjoyed about this book were the character development aspects, it was also very fast-paced and had plenty of action.  There was near-constant suspense over the possibility of Lissa and Lin being caught, and a little bit of a mystery in what the government was using Lin and others like her for.

There were things about this  book I didn't understand.  I wasn't sure if there was something special about twins that made them ideal for the government's purposes, or if any human would do, but a twin was just easiest to take.  I like this could have been explained more thoroughly.

I also didn't think that the side characters were developed enough.  Near the end of the book, Lissa describes her relationship with some of the side characters as being "something like family", but I just didn't feel that connection at all.  Since this is a series, I'm hoping these characters will be expanded upon in the future.

This book wasn't perfect, but it was a fun, fast read.  I enjoyed it.

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

My To-Be-Read Pile

Yesterday, I posted about the books I am eagerly waiting to receive from my local library.  The truth is, though, I have plenty of books I haven't read piled up already.  They're books of all kinds: new releases, older titles, library books, books I've purchased, ebooks, library ebooks, audiobooks.  I have so many books, and I thought I'd show them to you.  Here's a picture of my to-read shelf:

And in list form, in case you can't see all the titles in the picture:
- Libba Bray's Gemma Doyle Trilogy
- A Curse Dark as Gold by Elizabeth C. Bunce
- Double Identity by Margaret Peterson Haddix
- The first 3 Alex Rider books (Stormbreaker, Point Blank, and Skeleton Key) by Anthony Horowitz.  I already read these when I was a kid, but I put them on my to-read shelf because I intend to reread them.
- The Bermudez Triangle by Maureen Johnson (also known as On the Count of Three)
- Of Bees and Mist by Erick Setiawan
- Skinned, Crashed, and Wired by Robin Wasserman
- I am the Messenger by Marcus Zusak
- Invisibility by Andrea Cremer and David Levithan
- Unremembered by Jessica Brody
- This Is What Happy Looks Like by Jennifer E. Smith
- Mind Games by Kiersten White
- The Archived by Victoria Schwab
- That Time I Joined the Circus by J.J. Howard
- Powers by Ursula K. LeGuin 
- Storm Glass by Maria V. Snyder

But that's not all.  I have ebooks and audiobooks too, and here's a list of those:

Pretty Dark Nothing
Heather L. Reid

Viral Nation
Shaunta Grimes

I'm Not Her
Janet Gurtler

Mila 2.0
Debra Driza

17 & Gone
Nova Ren Suma

Tammara Webber

My Life Next Door
Huntley Fitzpatrick

The Friday Society
Adrienne Kress

Daughter of Smoke and Bone
Laini Taylor

So that's, like, 30 books.  Which is actually even more than I thought I had before I wrote this post.  It seems I'd better get reading, fast!

Does anyone else have a to-read pile as big as mine?  Tell me in comments.