Thursday, April 28, 2016

Book Review: Holding Smoke by Elle Cosimano @ElleCosimano

Holding Smoke by Elle Cosimano book cover and review
Holding Smoke is fast-paced and gritty. It's a mystery with a very well done paranormal element that makes the genre difficult to pin down.

John is in a juvenile prison serving time for two murders. One was self defense and the other one he didn't do. But he's been convicted and now has lost all hope and is trying to survive in prison. He has a bit of a secret weapon though.

John was brutally attacked by his father and was legally dead for six minutes. After a lengthy recovery, he has the ability to leave his body and travel through space without anyone knowing. Basically he's a ghost that is also still alive. He's surviving in prison doing favors for other inmates. He leaves his cell and investigates questions they may have about their loved ones and acquaintances.

Things get complicated when John encounters someone who can see him. He unknowingly puts her in danger and so now he's trying to keep himself alive and also keep her safe. Cosimano doesn't sugarcoat prison life. It's gritty and dangerous and may disturb some readers.

Holding Smoke is interjected with scenes from John's past life--the crime he supposedly committed, some of his time in the hospital, and the beating that started it all. As we continue through the story we get more and more details about what really happened. And of course, in the end, we find out the true murderer.

Holding Smoke moves at a fast pace and easily keeps your interest. The tension builds at the end and the resolution is exciting and suspenseful. I can think of lots of students, including some male reluctant readers, to whom I can recommend Holding Smoke.

Published by Disney-Hyperion, May 3, 2016
eARC obtained from NetGalley
336 pages

Rating: 4/5





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Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Book Review: Ruined by Amy Tintera

Ruined by Amy Tintera book cover and review
While Ruined does follow a familiar trope, it is action packed and managed to keep my interest.

Emelina is a Ruined. And she's the worst form of a Ruined -- she has no magical powers. The Ruined are an oppressed people; they are in a war and the enemy is trying to exterminate them. Em's parents have been murdered and her sister has been kidnapped. In order for her to rescue her sister, she has murdered the princess who is betrothed to the enemy prince. She will pose as the princess, marry the prince, and in the process find her sister. The Ruined have also made an ally and they are planning to attack the enemy kingdom.

You know going into this one that Em and the enemy prince are going to fall in love, it's just a matter of how is it going to happen. And what about Em's vow to kill the entire royal family, including the prince?

Em is a very determined character and a great swordsman, which helps get her out of several serious predicaments. The action keeps coming, so even though the romance is inevitable, there's enough other stuff that keeps you from dwelling on it. The political turmoil is interesting, if a bit familiar. The ending isn't all "happy ever after," and this is the first book in a series, so I'm interested in seeing where this story goes.

Teens who can't get enough of these female heroines who are trying to take over the world will enjoy Ruined.

Published by HarperTeen, May 3, 2016
eARC obtained from Edelweiss
368 pages

Rating: 4/5





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Thursday, April 21, 2016

Book Review: Traitor Angels, by Anne Blankman

Traitor Angels by Anne Blankman book cover and review
Traitor Angels is a story about the life of John Milton's fictional daughter, Elizabeth. It takes place in the late 1600s, and all of the political attitudes of the time are accurate.

Milton is blind, and he's dictating Paradise Lost to his daughter, Elizabeth. He's a political outcast, and fears he may lose his head if the king decides to take it. When Antonio arrives from France, Elizabeth is confused as to why her father would have summoned him and wonders who he is and what her father is hiding. Soon after, the king's men arrive and haul her father off to a prison in London, and all of her family is taken to their London home.

This begins Elizabeth's and Antonio's quest to figure out the hidden message contained in Paradise Lost and save her father from the gallows. The details and the atmosphere of 17th century England are rich. The characters are well developed and the story has some complexity. The pacing of the adventure is what concerns me. The story moves slowly, and the tension stagnates until the very end. I'm afraid many teens will give up before they get to the good part. There is the development of a romance that will hold the attention of some.

The explanation at the end of the book of the truthful aspects of the story is appreciated and a detailed bibliography is also included.

Traitor Angels is an interesting historical fiction that made me curious about Milton and his work. However, I'm concerned about its appeal to the average teen because of its slow pace at times.

Published by Balzer + Bray, May 3, 2016
eARC obtained from Edelweiss
400 pages

Rating: 3/5





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Saturday, April 16, 2016

Stacking the Shelves: Why Do I Keep Doing This?

I know this sounds cliche, but "so many books, so little time!" I need to stop looking at NetGalley and Edelweiss, but what's the fun in that? So, I got a couple more books this week to review. I didn't need them, I just wanted them...

For Review:
Forgive Me by Daniel Palmer book cover
Forgive Me, by Daniel Palmer from NetGalley
Any book that says "for Harlan Coben fans" hooks me immediately. (Great cover too!)

The Star-Touched Queen by Roshani Chokshi book cover
The Star-Touched Queen, by Roshani Chokshi from NetGalley
I just read several really good reviews of this one so I decided to grab it.

I wish I could read both of these right now! My reading pace has been slow lately, but I haven't stopped requesting books. That's a problem! Thanks for stopping by. Make sure you visit our hosts, Team Tynga's Reviews. Leave me a link!





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Thursday, April 14, 2016

Book Review: Strike by Delilah S. Dawson

Strike by Delilah S. Dawson book cover and review
Strike is the sequel to Hit and continues the relentless pace that the first book started.

Patsy and Wyatt are on the run. They think they have escaped the clutches of Valor Savings, who have taken over the country. They encounter another rag-tag group of kids trying to survive just like them and decide to check out a meeting of a group called The Citizens for Freedom. This group is supposedly organizing to fight Valor. It turns out they end up selling their souls to a crazy man, Leon Crane, and it's kind of an "out of the frying pan, into the fire" situation. To earn their keep they are required to go on dangerous missions to disrupt Valor's takeover. Life at the Crane compound is like the Wild West. Disputes are settled with guns.

Strike is tense and action packed. The whole premise is way over the top, but I still found myself getting invested in these characters. I liked Patsy a lot more in Strike. She is having bad dreams, panic attacks, and other symptoms of PTSD. Finally. One of my complaints in Hit was that it all seemed to easy for her. She seemed much more genuine in Strike.

As in Hit, Strike is very violent, so be warned. This is an action-packed series that is easy to read and keeps your interest. Great for reluctant readers, although a bit long. You should definitely read Hit first. And if you enjoy that one, Strike will make you feel more hopeful since in this one, the kids are fighting back.

Published by Simon Pulse, April 12, 2016
ARC obtained from School Library Connection Magazine
470 pages

Rating: 4/5





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Monday, April 11, 2016

Book Review: Tell the Wind and Fire by Sarah Rees Brennan

Tell the Wind and Fire by Sarah Rees Brennan book cover and review
Tell the Wind and Fire takes a while to get going, but the ending made my heart pound.

Tell the Wind and Fire is a loose retelling of A Tale of Two Cities, and I have not read that book, so I'll not be doing a comparison. There are two halves of the city -- the Dark and the Light. Lucie, our main character, was born in the Dark, but has made her way to the Light and is the girlfriend of Ethan, a member of the Light's most powerful family. Lucie has Light magic; she has rings and can influence the environment by using them.  She does run out of magic, and needs to be drained by someone with Dark magic to get her's back. That's why the Lights keep the Darks around--to drain off their magic. Or something.  This part was a little vague to me. Lucie only uses her magic a couple of times, and I really forgot about it other than those times.

The people in the Dark are oppressed. They are poor and hungry. Another important character is Ethan's doppelganger, a person who was "born" when Ethan was a baby and he was about to die. Some magic allowed this twin to appear and it saved Ethan. This is highly illegal, and Ethan's family needs to keep this secret. The doppelganger, who has been living in the Dark, shows up. Lucie makes some bad decisions, and everyone's safety is at risk.

Eventually the Dark revolts, executing a well-organized scheme to take over the Light half. This is when the plot actually grabbed my attention. I didn't really connect with Lucie, given that she made huge mistakes and then kept it all a secret while risking Ethan and several other people's lives.

The world and magic is a bit murky. There is no background information to explain how this situation started. It is obvious that there is a big inequality, and the fight for freedom is compelling. So, I have mixed feelings about Tell the Wind and Fire.

Published by Clarion, April 5, 2016
eARC obtained from NetGalley
368 pages

Rating: 3/5





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Saturday, April 9, 2016

Stacking the Shelves - Couldn't Pass These Up

Just some random books I saw on Edelweiss this week...

For Review:

Three Truths and a Lie by Brent Hartinger book cover
Three Truths and a Lie by Brent Hartinger from Edelweiss

Secrets, Lies, and Scandals by Amanda K. Morgan book cover
Secrets, Lies, and Scandals by Amanda K. Morgan from Edelweiss

The Diabolic by S. J. Kincaid book cover
The Diabolic, by S. J. Kincaid from Edelweiss

A Deadly Affection by Cuyler Overholt book cover
A Deadly Affection, by Cuyler Overholt from Edelweiss

That's it for me. How about you? Anything I need to get my hands on? Leave me a link! Thanks for stopping by. Be sure to visit our hosts, Team Tynga's Reviews. Enjoy your week!








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Tuesday, April 5, 2016

A Reading Slump? Or Just Some Unlucky Choices?


I've read past the half-way point of two different books, and now I've started a third. All three of the books are releasing today. I'm trying to figure out if it's me or the books? In the past month, I think I've DNF'd four books. I know I'm somewhat preoccupied. We're building a new house and my head is full of a plethora of details and decisions. But reading is my escape, and I have enjoyed several other books in between these duds. I'm not sure. I don't feel like I don't want to read. I just don't want to read these books!

So, I'll try again. But for now, I have nothing to report as far as book reviews...

Wish me luck.





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Friday, April 1, 2016

2016 EBook Reading Challenge - Post you April Reviews HERE!



How's everyone doing? Hopefully you are continuing to make progress on your 2016 EBook Reading Challenge. How's it going?

You can sign up for the 2016 EBook Reading Challenge here.

You can see my progress on my 2016 Reading Challenges Page.

Here's a link to the March Reviews Page.

Thanks for participating!

Post your April reviews below:






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Thursday, March 31, 2016

Book Review: The Girl in the Blue Coat, by Monica Hesse

Girl in the Blue Coat held my interest and added to my knowledge of affairs during World War II. I know it was supposed to be tense and exciting, but that's where I found it a bit lacking.

Hanneke is doing her best to survive and take care of her parents in Amsterdam after the German occupation. It's 1943, and Hanneke is lucky to have a job working for an undertaker. She also has a secret job locating things on the black market for people who can pay for them.

When one of her customers reveals she has been hiding a Jewish girl in her pantry and that the girl has disappeared, Hanneke's life changes. She doesn't know where to begin to find out what happened to this girl who was wearing a blue coat, but she can't help but try.  She ends up being unwillingly drawn into the Dutch Resistance and taking risks that she never believed she would take.

Girl in the Blue Coat is an easy, quick read. And it's historical fiction, my favorite, so I enjoyed the time I spent. I did learn about the role of the Dutch in Hitler's plans and how the people, especially the Jews, suffered under the occupation.

I just didn't really emotionally connect with Hanneke or her story. I found it informative, but not emotional. I can't say why, and other readers might have a totally different reaction. So I would still recommend Girl in the Blue Coat to my readers who want more Holocaust and WWII stories. 

Published by Little, Brown BFYR, April 5, 2016
eARC obtained from Edelweiss
320 pages

Rating: 3.5/5





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