Wednesday, April 23, 2014

2 new paperbacks


The House at the End of Hope Street by Menna Van Praag was absolutely charming. I don't always love magical realism, because it's rarely done well, but this one (along with those by Sarah Addison Allen) was an exception. 


The story of Alba Ashby, a young PhD student at Cambridge, and the house she falls in love with at 11 Hope Street. She has 99 nights to stay in the house and change her life. Many women from the past have entered the door and allowed the house to work its magic on them and they went on to have incredibly successful lives -- Agatha Christie, Dorothy Parker, and Florence Nightingale to name a few. Alba quickly learns, if her life is to actually be changed, this is the place to do it. 

While reading this one, I felt transported to 11 Hope Street. The writing is fantastic and I loved the premise of the plot. It was truly a charming novel and one I'll happily recommend to all readers, even those who aren't typically into magical realism. 


I also wanted to make a brief mention of the paperback release of one of my favorite books of last year, Looking for Me by Beth Hoffman. I raved about this book back in May and now it's available in paperback. If you haven't read it yet, grab a copy now -- it's a sweet, fun read with quirky, well-developed characters and lots of Southern charm.  I'll be gifting this one to a few of my favorite moms for Mother's Day! 

Thanks to Penguin for the review copies!

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Twitterature

This week I'm linking up (a day late) with one of my favorite bloggers, The Modern Mrs. Darcy, for her Twitterature feature. You can find the rules here, but they're pretty simple: just share what you're reading in 140 characters or less. I've been reading a lot, but my blogging time has been minimal, so I thought this would be the perfect chance to jump into this feature!



High & Dry by Sarah Skilton
Fast-paced thriller with great characterization. The author has created a complex story rich with realistic, thought-provoking characters. 




Noggin' by John Corey Whaley
Absolute hilarity paired with amazing writing. Reads like an awesome contemporary, even with the cryogenically frozen head. ;)



Attachments by Rainbow Rowell
Fun, cute romance. A little too long for my liking, but it was an enjoyable read and one that kept me chuckling.


The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry by Gabrielle Zevin
LOVED this book. Excellent fiction for all book nerds, but booksellers will especially appreciate. Sweet story with lovely characters!



And the Dark Sacred Night by Julia Glass
Had a hard time getting into this one after loving her last. Deep, complex characters, but plot had me a little lost much of the time.




Boys of Blur by N.D. Wilson
A bit slow-moving, but the writing is worth it. Descriptions of setting, sounds, people, etc. are beautiful. Would be a great class read.


 Thanks to Random House, Simon & Schuster, and Amulet for the review copies. And the library for the others!

Monday, April 7, 2014

The Last Forever by Deb Caletti


Deb Caletti is one of those authors who I just love. I anticipate early spring every year, because that means a new book will be on the shelves for me to fall in love with. Her writing is just beautiful and her characters relatable and complex. Her books are some of my very favorites to gift my teen nieces, because I know they'll be a hit, no matter the subject. 


The Last Forever is the latest of Caletti's lovelies to hit the shelves. We meet Tessa, a sweet girl still mourning the death of her mother. She's desperate to keep her mother's rare plant alive, believing it's the last link they really share. Throw in a road trip, a beach town, a new job, and a kind (and cute) guy and the combination creates a beautiful story. 

I always find a bit of myself in Caletti's stories and this one was no exception. When my own mother passed away a little over five years ago, I became the owner of her huge, beautiful jade plant. Unfortunately, having to move it from Florida to New Mexico and then eventually to Virginia was just too much for that plant and little by little it died, until I was only left with about a 4 inch stem I was determined to transplant and keep alive (spoiler alert... I failed). I saw myself in Tessa - desperate to keep that last connection to something beautiful, something my mother loved, even though it was simply a material thing. 

The writing is gorgeously detailed and the characters each were perfectly plotted into the story. I loved every minute with this book and I know I'll be eagerly waiting for next spring to get another book by this fabulous author. Thanks for the experience, Ms. Caletti... it's always a pleasure!

Thank you to Simon & Schuster for the review copy. 


Tuesday, April 1, 2014

The Winner's Curse by Marie Rutkoski

Kestrel is the daughter of a general. She's incredibly wealthy and leads a comfortable life, despite the war going on outside her city walls. Her father has told her she must either join the military and serve her people, as he does, or she must get married. Kestrel, of course, would prefer not to do either.

When on a shopping expedition to the market, Kestrel passes by the auction block where slaves are being sold. Something draws her to Arin and before she realizes what she's done, she has paid an exorbitant amount of money for a slave she did not need or want. He follows her home, is put to work as a blacksmith, and Kestrel believes that will be the end of it. 

As I'm sure you can imagine, the pair end up falling in love and are forced to fight to be together. This wasn't the typical teen love story though -- it goes deeper. Their relationship is one of both love and war, just like the lives they live. Kestrel is supposed to become a warrior and Arin be her slave, though fate seems to have other things in store. 

The detailed descriptions are what pulled me into this book and the dramatic explanation of the setting. I was hooked from the beginning and am definitely looking forward to the 2nd book of the series. Kestrel was a great main character -- and though I won't spoil anything for you -- I LOVED the ending!

Thanks to FSG for the review copy!

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Some Bugs by Angela DiTerlizzi

This adorable book completely charmed both Elliott and I. Though we haven't hit the bug stage in our house yet, though this one could most definitely be the gateway book to all things "bugs."

The illustrations are a great mix of quirky and cute and the text is surprisingly simple, yet helps to inform young readers on some pretty cool bug traits. The back pages have a great spread of all the bugs referenced throughout the book, with their names making for a great reference source.

We loved it and can't wait to see more from this author/illustrator duo!

Thanks to Simon & Schuster for the review copy!

Monday, March 24, 2014

The Secret Side of Empty review

M.T. seems like the typical American teenager. She has a guy she's interested, friends, a social life, and gets excellent grades. M.T. also has a big secret -- she's an undocumented immigrant. 

Though this huge part of M.T.'s life has been fairly easy to hide through high school, her life as a senior has thrust everything into a tailspin. Her friends don't understand why she won't get her driver's license or why she constantly avoids any talk of applying to colleges, and when her roll in the Honor Society necessitates the planning of a trip abroad, M.T. knows she's in trouble. 

I totally saw myself in this girl. She was me in high school. The grades, the friends, Honor Society, etc. Her story completely opened my eyes to a whole new perspective of what some teens are handed and forced to deal with throughout their high school years, due to circumstances beyond their own control. I can't imagine being in M.T.'s position, though I definitely appreciated the author forcing me to feel that way. She's a typical teen...except, she's not. 

I was uncomfortable while reading this book and I think that was a necessary feeling to truly grasp the emotional nature of M.T.'s story. I could't put it down once I started reading and needed to know what happened to this girl who reminded me so much of my younger self. 

The subject is timely and the character realistic and easy to connect to. Maria Andreu is a debut author and I look forward to whatever she writes next. Highly recommended. 

Thanks to Running Press for the review copy. 

Friday, March 14, 2014

The Unbound by Victoria Schwab

I don't typically talk about sophomore books in a series here, choosing to mainly focus on the first in a series or an entire series as a whole, but this book deserves a post of its own. It's that good! 


Victoria Schwab happens to be a local author and when The Archived came out last year, I went to her signing at my favorite local indie, One More Page Books. It ended up being one of my favorite books of the year and I eagerly anticipated the arrival of The Unbound this winter. When it showed up at my door, I held off reading it for a few weeks, knowing I'd want to savor it... and I was right. Once again, it's that good. 


Mackenzie Bishop is once again our main character and she is still a Keeper for the Archive. Dealing with the emotional ramifications of almost dying has taken over her life and she's struggling to stay afloat. Yet, when people start disappearing -- all of them knowing Mackenzie -- she knows that her past may very well have come back to haunt her, as impossible as that may seem. 

As she attempts to track the person responsible for the disappearances, Mackenzie quickly becomes the prime suspect. She knows she has to prove her theory to the Archive before they take away her role as Keeper... and her memories. 

The writing in these books is just amazing. Not only does Schwab make it incredibly easy to connect to the characters and almost instantly care about them, but she also provides such great plot that I wanted to just fly through the pages. Her prose is beautiful, yet suspenseful -- the perfect combo for this series. 

Taking on issues of grief and PTSD is probably difficult enough on its own, but adding those topics to a fantasy novel have to be even more difficult, but Schwab created a realistic world in the Archive, while also allowing her readers to see the journey a person goes on while recovery from tragedy and trauma. I love these books and can't wait to see what Victoria Schwab does next. 

Thanks to Hyperion for the review copy!