Saturday, May 28, 2016

Stacking the Shelves - New Books from Favorite Authors

Sometimes you see an author's name and it doesn't even matter what the book is about, you just request it.  Here's what I got this week:

For Review:
Three Dark Crowns by Kendare Blake book cover
Three Dark Crowns, by Kendare Blake from Edelweiss

Leave Me by Gayle Forman book cover
Leave Me, by Gayle Forman from Edelweiss

The Plot to Kill Hitler  by Patricia McCormick book cover
The Plot to Kill Hitler, by Patricia McCormick from Edelweiss

Small Great Things, by Jodi Picoult from NetGalley


From the Library:
The Fall by James Preller book cover
The Fall, by James Preller
I've already read this and will post my review this coming week

Purchased:
And Then There Were None, by Agathe Christie
Kindle Daily Deal. I've always wanted to read this.

So that's a pretty big week for me. I'm looking forward to all of them. What did you get? Leave me a link so I can add to my list. Be sure to visit our hosts, Team Tynga's Reviews.






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Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Book Review: The Fireman by Joe Hill

To summarize my feelings about The Fireman very quickly: fascinating premise but too long.

A new disease is spreading like wildfire (pun intended.) This disease causes the person to get scales like a dragon, but eventually the victim bursts into flame and burns up, many times burning everything surrounding them.

Harper is a nurse who volunteers to help those who are infected, at least until they burn up. There is no cure. The hospital eventually burns and she returns home to her husband to try to stay safe. But that isn't to be. She becomes infected and her husband leaves her.

She ends up meeting some people who have started a community for those who are infected to live. They are in hiding, since there are Cremation Squads who are looking for the infected so they can wipe them out. They also have discovered a way to stay alive. They don't have a cure, but they've adapted so that they can control the disease. One of these people, The Fireman, actually can use the disease to help them fight. Harper is pregnant, her husband has gone rogue and is hunting her down, and all she wants to do is stay safe until her baby is born.

Life is not easy, dealing with the disease, trying to hide, and trying to get along with the leaders of the camp. There are interesting side characters that I also became attached to. Harper must overcome obstacle after devastating obstacle. Just when you think she's finally safe -- well, she's not.

There is a lot of excitement and tension within the pages of The Fireman. But there's a lot of boring, long, extra spots too. That's really my only complaint. Sometimes, for example when Harper first gets to the camp, it's just too long before anything significant happens. I know that Joe Hill is Stephen King's son, so I guess he gets this penchant for long books from his father...

I would definitely recommend The Fireman to those who enjoy apocalyptic novels. Just be prepared to spend some time with this one.

Published by William Morrow, May 17, 2016
Copy obtained from Edelweiss
768 pages

Rating: 4/5





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Monday, May 16, 2016

Book Review: The Crown's Game by Evelyn Skye @EvelynSkyeYA

The Crown's Game by Evelyn Skye book cover and review
I keep thinking about The Crown's Game. I became attached to these characters and really suffered with their dilemma.

The two main characters, Vika and Nikolai are Enchanters. They are in training and don't know about each other. The setting is an alternate historical Russia and the country has become somewhat unstable and the king needs an Enchanter to help him make decisions and use magic to control the people. It's very unusual to have two Enchanters, so they must hold the Crown's Game to decide which one is worthy. The other one must die.

Vika and Nikolai get to know each other during the games and begin to care for each other. The games are not the type I expected, where they compete against each other, at least not a first. They just each take turns creating magical things that please the King and the Prince, who happens to be Nikolai's best friend. But the Prince doesn't know Nikolai is an Enchanter. The creations are pleasing, but might also be deadly to their opponent.

There's a bit of a romance and even a love triangle, but it's slow and subtle and fits in nicely with the plot. The world and the magical creations are vivid and delightful.

The ending is devastating, as it must be, since we are going to lose one of our main characters. Or are we?  The Crown's Game is a imaginative, well-written story. There is some tension, but not too much. Some romance, but not over the top. Wonderful characters and lots of unique elements. Too bad it's almost summer (not really) and I can't recommend this for our next book club pick. Hopefully next fall we'll choose The Crown's Game.  In the meantime, I'll be recommending this one a lot.

P.S. This is my favorite cover of the year. Love it.

Published by Balzer + Bray, May17, 2016
eARC obtained from Edelweiss
416 pages

Rating: 5/5





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Saturday, May 14, 2016

Stacking the Shelves - Surprise! More Books!

It's really no surprise. I got a couple new books this week.

For Review:
Incognita by Kristen Lippert-Martin book cover
Incognita, by Kristen Lippert-Martin from Edelweiss
Sequel to Tabula Rasa

Replica, by Lauren Oliver from Edelweiss
It's Lauren Oliver

So that's what caught my eye this week. How about you? What's new on your TBR? Be sure to visit our hosts, Team Tynga's Reviews. Thanks for stopping by.






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Tuesday, May 10, 2016

Book Review: Summer Days and Summer Nights: Twelve Love Stories (that didn't grab my attention)

Summer Days and Summer Nights is a compilation edited by Stephanie Perkins. I quit reading after five stories. Maybe I'm just not in the mood, but none of these stories really grabbed me.

It's not that they were bad, but they just didn't stand out. They didn't make my heart pound. I didn't connect with the characters. I often have difficulty with short stories because it's hard to connect, but I wanted to give these a chance because I really enjoyed (gave it 5 hats!) My True Love Gave to Me: Twelve Holiday Stories, also edited by Perkins and written by some of the same authors.

So, like I said, maybe I'm not in the mood. I have too many books I'm looking forward to so I decided to quit on this one.

If you've read this and there is one particular story you think I shouldn't miss, please let me know.

Published by St. Martin's Griffin, May 17, 2016
eARC obtained from NetGalley
156/400 pages

Rating: DNF




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Monday, May 9, 2016

October Mourning, by Leslea Newman

October Mourning by Leslea Newman book cover and review
October Mourning: A Song for Matthew Shepard was written to commemorate and remember the brutal murder of Matthew Shepard, a gay student, in Wyoming in 1998.

I'm a very tolerant person. I can understand why people don't agree with me (about anything, not just homosexuality), but I don't understand how someone can get so violent because of a difference of opinion. I guess I'm a "live and let live" kind of person. Why can't everyone be?

October Mourning made me emotional. No one deserves to suffer like that. No one's family and friends should have to live with this memory. There just isn't any reason that makes any sense for this to have happened.

October Mourning is beautifully written in verse and is easy to understand. The author makes it clear that the thoughts expressed in the poems are her own, but she has included extensive notes explaining each poem and the truths that inspired it.

October Mourning is a quick, but very powerful read that I plan to offer to a lot of students. It helps that it is on our Abe Lincoln Award List for 2017.

Published by Candlewick, 2012
Copy obtained from the library
111 pages

Rating: 4/5





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Saturday, May 7, 2016

Stacking the Shelves -- Thinking About Summer Reading

Another one-book week for me. And that's OK. Because I have a huge stack from the library that I'll be working on over the summer.

For Review:
The Hawkweed Prophecy by Irena Brignull book cover
The Hawkweed Prophecy, by Irena Brignull from the publisher

From the Library:

I haven't really checked these out yet, and I know I won't get through all of them, but here's my pile for the summer. (Plus Six of Crows, which is still checked out.) Wish me luck!

Annette's Book Spot summer reading

Twelve more days of school for me. I'll be moving into our new house over the summer, so I'm afraid this pile is quite optimistic. Any recommendations about which I should read first?

Thanks for stopping by. Leave me a link (not that I need any more books to read!), and make sure to visit our hosts, Team Tynga's Reviews. Have a great weekend.





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Thursday, May 5, 2016

Audio Book Review: Mr. Mercedes by Stephen King

Mr. Mercedes by Stephen King book cover and review
I think it has been said plenty. Stephen King is a great writer. I used to read everything he wrote as soon as it was released, but I've fallen behind. Mr. Mercedes is a bit different for King; there's no supernatural element. It's just a straight-up detective mystery. Well, nothing by King is really straight up, is it?

Bill Hodges is a retired detective and he's bored and depressed.  All that is about to change. He receives a letter from a person who claims to be the perpetrator of a mass murder that Hodges was unable to solve.

Hodges begins to quietly investigate, without the knowledge of the police, and he inadvertently involves a couple of very unlikely partners. One is the African American high school kid who mows his lawn and happens to be very good with computers. The other is Holly, the niece of the old woman whose car was stolen and used for this crime. In essence, the car (a Mercedes) was the murder weapon. Holly is in her 40s but has some mental problems (maybe Asperger's?) However, her computer skills are just as good as the kid's, if not better. This unlikely trio of characters are the heart and soul of Mr. Mercedes.

We also get the perspective of the "perk" (as he calls himself instead of "perp"), Brady. He's a messed up individual who is out to ruin Hodges and maybe take a whole bunch of people with him. Hodges is clever. He was one of the best detectives in the department. Brady, for all his craziness, is clever too. Their head-to-head competition is fascinating.

Things get more personal as we get to know these characters and my heart was pounding a bit as the tension mounts. The ending is satisfying, which we don't always get from King. Mr. Mercedes is the first book in the Bill Hodges Trilogy.  The second is already available, and the third comes out soon. I'm putting them both on my list.

Fans of King should be happy with this, unless you are all about the paranormal. Fans of thrilling mysteries should love it too. It's also not as wordy as some of King's novels can be. The audiobook narrator, Will Patton, is superb. His voices are great but not over the top, and he doesn't read too slowly. Mr. Mercedes can be recommended to teen mystery fans also, and I've already done so.

Published by Scribner, 2014, Simon & Schuster Audio
Audiobook obtained from the library
448 pages

Rating: 5/5





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Wednesday, May 4, 2016

Book Review: The May Queen Murders by Sarah Jude @SarahEJude

The May Queen Murders by Sarah Jude book cover and review
A couple of things make The May Queen Murders stand out among murder mysteries. The strange, back-country setting adds an additional mysterious element. And I was shocked at the level of gore, especially the ending.

Ivy's best friend is Heather, who is also her cousin. Ivy follows the superstitious teachings of her grandmother to the letter but Heather seems to take these premonitions more lightly. Heather is keeping big secrets from Ivy, and Ivy feels them growing apart. When Ivy tries to warn Heather the signs indicate she's in danger, Heather once again pulls away.

The small town where they live called The Glen has been haunted for years by the disappearance of the last May Queen. She was brutally murdered by Birch Markle, who was never caught and still haunts the woods surrounding The Glen. You can't go out at night, and at times you hear Birch screaming.

Pets are being brutally murdered, and everyone is on edge. The town decides to put all the fear behind them and crown a new May Queen. Heather disappears during the festivities and this is the beginning of the real story of The Glen. Secret after secret is exposed, and you can't possibly predict them.

The folklore is interesting. There's a nice little romance brewing. And, on top of it all, there is some stomach-turning violence going on! I did think The May Queen Murders spent a lot of time on the buildup. At about 60% things really take off, and I couldn't put the book down. I loved that it seemed like everything was resolved after the murderer is found, but believe me, that's only the beginning of the end.

I think The May Queen Murders will appeal to teen mystery fans, especially those that like a very macabre story. You have to be able to take some bloody descriptions, but this is a compelling story that will keep your interest.

Published by HMH BFYR, May 3, 2016
eARC obtained from Edelweiss
304 pages

Rating: 4/5





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