Saturday, November 30, 2013

Stacking the Shelves: More Exciting Books!

Welcome to my blog. I hope you are having a wonderful weekend, a long one for a lot of us! Here's what ended up at my house or on my Kindle this week:

For Review:
Defy, by Sara B. Larson, from NetGalley

Neverwas, by Kelly Moore, Tucker Reed, and Larkin Reed
Sequel to Amber House. eBook from the author.

Monsters, by Ilsa J. Bick from The Paperback Princesses
Already read this one. It will go in my library.

From the Library:
Game, by Barry Lyga

How about you? Have any recommendations for me? Please leave a link! And go visit Team Tynga's Reviews and some of the other participants! Hope to see you soon.

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Friday, November 29, 2013

Feature & Follow Friday - Thanksgiving Food!

Alison Can Read Feature & Follow
The day after Thanksgiving...I'm shopping. My sisters and I have a tradition of going shopping this day every year. We went shopping on Black Friday before they even called it that!! It used to be frantic..trying to buy for all the kids, and we'd come home exhausted. Now that all the kids a grown, we just exchange names. It's much more laid back, and the best part is stopping for margaritas!

But let's reflect back on yesterday...

What’s your favorite Thanksgiving Day food? If you’re not American or Canadian, what is your favorite holiday food?

Well, my dad's family has a traditional dressing they make -- it's potato dressing (not the usual bread dressing) and it's awesome. My dad is in his 80s, so we kids need to figure out how to make this before he's gone. My sister made it with him once, so she's "in training." Of course, there's no recipe. My grandma didn't write recipes!

Also, I can't not mention pecan pie. Yum.....

How about you? Any unusual traditional foods that you enjoy during the holidays? Leave a link! Thanks for stopping by, and don't forget to visit our hosts, Parajunkee and Alison.

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Thursday, November 28, 2013

Happy Thanksgiving!

If you are from the United States, I hope you have a great and restful Thanksgiving holiday. Enjoy all the wonderful treats that are reserved for this day. (Everything has zero calories on Thanksgiving, right?)

I have so much to be thankful for -- I'm feeling very lucky.

If you aren't from the US, I hope you have a great day anyway. I'm taking the day off, and hope to see you back here soon...

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Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Book Review: I Am Half-Sick of Shadows, by Alan Bradley

Flavia de Luce is at it again in I am Half-Sick of Shadows. And this was the perfect read for now, since it takes place during Christmas!

The de Luce's are about to lose Buckshaw because of financial difficulties, so the Colonel decides to allow a filming crew to use the house for a couple of weeks during the holidays. This means that one of the world's biggest film stars, Phyllis Wyvern, will be staying in the house. Of course, no way is Flavia going to leave this alone....

The reverand convinces the stars to give a performance at Buckshaw to benefit the roof repairs at St. Tankred. It turns out that the snow storm gets worse and worse, causing the entire audience (most of Bishop's Lacey) to have to spend the night.

It takes a while for the story to get started. (It's about halfway through the book before the dead body appears), but we get to hear about Flavia's latest  schemes while we're waiting. She's come up with a method to prove (or disprove) the existence of Father Christmas. She's also planning a great display of her fireworks to be shot from the roof on Christmas Eve. And, she investigates the film crew and the stars in the usual manner.

Once we have a dead body, then Flavia goes to work. Her methods and the science she uses are, as usual, creative and entertaining.

I did miss some of the snarky attitude between Flavia and her sisters in I Am Half-Sick of Shadows. They just didn't seem to be their usual hateful selves, and Flavia didn't even get to trick them with one of her concoctions.

I've listened to most of the Flavia de Luce books on audio and really enjoyed them. However, I really enjoyed the reading experience too (and it took a lot less time!)

If you enjoy a light-hearted murder mystery, in a historical English setting, with a precocious eleven-year-old sleuth, you really must read these books. It isn't necessary to read them all in order, but why not?

Published by Delacorte Press, 2011
Copy obtained from the library
297 pages

Rating: 4/5

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Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Book Review: Eleanor & Park, by Rainbow Rowell

If you love books about sweet teen romance, than you will love Eleanor & Park. For me though, I think I prefer a little more than romance in the books I read.

Don't get me wrong. I really loved Eleanor & Park. It's very well written, the characters are interesting and easy to become attached to. The romance is verrrrry slow -- if you aren't a fan of "insta-love" in books, then you will be very happy with Eleanor & Park. This romance is almost frustrating in its painfully slow development -- almost.

Nothing happens in Eleanor & Park except the romance. Yes, we learn about Eleanor's totally dysfunctional family, and she is being bullied at school. Yes, we also learn about Park's parents and their almost perfect relationship. But none of that has anything to do with the plot of Eleanor & Park. It's all about this unlikely romance.

The ending is perfect. You get the feeling all through the book that things are eventually going to explode in Eleanor's life. But, I really like the way it all went down.

So, as I said at the beginning -- this is a stellar, one might even say "perfect," romance. I'm glad I read Eleanor & Park, and I have a lot of students I can offer it to. I enjoyed the reading experience, but I couldn't read two of these types of books in a row. I'm just not a "teen romance" kind of person. I prefer my romance as a secondary story line. Or at least, I need other secondary story lines besides the romance. Personal opinion only. For the type of book this is, it's one of the best I've ever read.

Published by St. Martin's Griffin, February 26, 2013
Copy obtained from the library
325 pages

Rating: 4/5

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Monday, November 25, 2013

Book Review: The Way We Fall, by Megan Crewe @megancrewe

The Way We Fall is a scary book about what can happen to an isolated community if a deadly disease starts spreading.

Kaelyn lives on an island close enough so that she can see the mainland. When her friend's dad gets sick and dies, it is alarming. Then her father, who is a doctor, starts seeing more and more patients with this disease, and nothing they try is helping them get better.

Crewe does a great job with the escalation of the situation. At first, they are quarantined, but they have lots of government support. Then things start to crumble. They lose communications and eventually power. There's some violence and the government basically abandons them. At the same time, society is crumbling too. Of course there's panic, which leads to looting. People are afraid, not only of the disease, but of the gangs. Although Kaelyn discovers some kids that are doing a lot to help, and joins up with this group which is led by Gav. He's the love interest, and I enjoyed the development of this budding romance.

Also, midst all the hardship and loss, Kaelyn begins an unlikely friendship with Tessa, who she thought hated her in school (before the disease struck.) It's an interesting lesson in how our impressions of people can be so wrong, just because we make assumptions and don't really take the time to find out anything about them.

Kaelyn tells the story in a journal format. She's writing a journal to her estranged friend/boyfriend, Leo, who is on the mainland. Also interesting  is the fact that Leo's new girlfriend is Tessa. The journal works OK, but at times I forgot it was a journal. But that's no big deal. We never quite figure out all the details of Kaelyn and Leo's relationship, so I guess that's something to look forward to in the second book.

The Way We Fall reminded me a bit of Sylo, although I liked this one a bit better. I felt more of a connection to the characters and the premise was more believable.

There is enough depth to the characters that we really fear for them. The disease is brutal, and Crewe doesn't hesitate to wipe out some main characters. The ending is very open. I won't say too much, but even though things seem to be calming down on the island, from what happens at the end of the book, I'm sure it's not over. The Lives We Lost, the second book of the Fallen World Trilogy, is already available. And I have it! So, hopefully I'll get to it soon.

Published by Disney-Hyperion, 2012
Copy won from the publisher during Armchair BEA
309 pages

Rating: 3.5/5

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Saturday, November 23, 2013

Stacking the Shelves -- No eBooks!

I'm an eBook nut, so much so, that when I was reading a hardback last night my husband asked me if it felt funny! Of course not! And this week I got new books -- but none of them are eBooks...

For Review:
The Last Dead Girl, by Harry Dolan from the publisher

From the Library:
Eleanor & Park, by Rainbow Rowell

Crossed, by Ally Condie

Frostbite, by Richelle Mead

I Am Half-Sick of Shadows, by Alan Bradley

I have a little time between review books, so I'm excited to catch up on some library books I've been wanting to read for a while. So, how was your week? Leave me a link so I can check out your haul. Make sure you check out all the awesome blogs participating at Team Tynga's Reviews. Thanks for visiting, and there's a couple more days to enter my Giveaway of THE TRAP! Awesome book, you don't want to miss it!

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Friday, November 22, 2013

Feature & Follow Friday: Tag! You're It!

Alison Can Read Feature & Follow
This week we have more of an activity, rather than a question:

You Are It! We are playing #FF tag this week. Comment on as many blogs as you can, even if they aren’t participating in #FF. Just say Happy #FF! At the end of your comment. Keep a running total if you want and update your post with it. The bigger the number the more impressed we will be!

OK. I'll do my best, but I'm at work all day so not much may happen until later. Also, I don't usually just copy and paste comments. I make comments based on your post, but in this case...well...I'm not sure what to say. So I'll participate, and we'll just see how it goes...

Updated Commenting Total for Annette: 17 (yes, epic fail...)

Also, my current giveaway ends MONDAY, so it's not to late to enter to win a copy of The Trap! 

Back to Annette's Book Spot Homepage Copyright © 2013 Annette's Book Spot. All Rights Reserved

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Book Review: Morning Glory, by Sarah Jio @sarahjio

My love for Sarah Jio's books continues with Morning Glory. I always know that her books will immerse me in a place and a time that I will be sad to leave.

Ada lost everything, her husband and her daughter, in an accident two years ago. She's tried to immerse herself in her work as an editor of a popular magazine, but she decides she needs to leave New York to get away from the memories. She quits her job and rents a houseboat in Seattle for the summer.

Now, of course we expect her to find a guy that she's attracted to and fall in love. And Jio writes this romance with her usual style. But, there's also a mystery on Boat Street. Many years ago the woman that lived in Ada's houseboat, Penny, disappeared. It's very clear that some of the people on Boat Street know more about this than they are letting on.

Ada can't stand not knowing what happened, especially after she finds a trunk of Penny's things, and she vows to figure it out. We get a dual perspective in Morning Glory. Penny's perspective reveals more than Ada knows, so the reader is always rooting for Ada to find out what we already know. It makes for quite a page turner.

We also eventually find out about the accident that killed Ada's family. What a surprise. The whole time I was just assuming car accident, but no. How horrible!

I'm not a big crier, but I did find myself tearing up a bit at the end of Morning Glory. The only thing I didn't like was the epilogue. I would have preferred that Jio just left that off. I think it tied things up a bit too nicely, and in doing so, the story lost a bit of credibility.

Jio fans should definitely pick this one up. If you haven't read anything by Sarah Jio, Morning Glory is a great place to start! Her books are sweet and clean and totally appropriate for teens too.

Published by Plume, November 26, 2013
eARC obtained from Edelweiss
304 pages

Rating: 3.5/5

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Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Book Review: Pawn, by Aimee Carter

Pawn is an entertaining dystopian that easily kept my attention and managed to arouse my curiosity. I didn't feel "wowed" by the story; nothing felt that different than the countless other dystopians I've read, but I still thoroughly enjoyed it.

Everyone takes a test when they turn 17, and the higher you score, the better your prospects for the rest of your life. Kitty takes the test and receives a III -- which means she will spend her life away from everyone and everything she has ever known, cleaning out sewers.

Benjy, her boyfriend from the group home, wants her to escape with him, but she knows Benjy will score much higher on the test and doesn't want to ruin his chances. So, Kitty decides to escape into prostitution. One thing that Kitty has going for her is the color of her eyes -- it's the same color as the ruling family.

Because of this feature, she is snatched up by the head of this family and given an offer she can't refuse. She will be given a ranking of VII, reserved for the rulers, if she agrees to impersonate one of their members.

The tension is created because Kitty is constantly in fear for her life. She knows that with one wrong move, she will be killed, and no one will ever know what happened to her. Of course, there is a rebellion, and Kitty is pressured to become a part of it.

There are several twists that the story takes that keep the excitement up. There are also some really conveniently constructed plot points, like what happens to Benjy, that weaken the story.

It's a battle of good against evil, and the young people are the ones trying to make changes. There is a nice resolution to this part of the story, but the bigger picture has a long way to go to be resolved. So, Pawn is the first in a series (The Blackcoat Rebellion) and, while it didn't WOW me, I'm looking forward to continuing the story.

Fans who can't get enough of young adult dystopians will be happy to see Pawn added to the list. The pacing keeps your interest, and the characters are established well enough that you care about what happens to them.

Published by Harlequin Teen, November 26, 2013
eBook obtained from NetGalley
352 pages

Rating: 4/5

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Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Book Review: The Elite, by Kiera Cass

The Selection series is so much fun, and The Elite just added to it.

We pick up right after the end of The Selection. There are six girls left in the running to marry Prince Maxon, and our main character, America, appears to be favored by the Prince.

Everything should work out just fine, but of course things happen to make the road not so smooth. I liked the additional things we learn about how the United States turned into this strange country with a caste system that is imperative to its survival. I thought some of the challenges the candidates were asked to do (host a foreign dignitary and come up with a philanthropic idea) added something to the political aspect of The Elite.

There are some supposedly dangerous moments, when rebels attack, but these moments didn't really get my heart pounding. I still see this as a fun, lighthearted series and can't really take the threats seriously.

I think America is pretty stupid at times. Every little thing that Maxon says or does makes her change her mind and go back to Aspen. And, by the way, I just don't get Aspen. Nice guy, but I'm definitely team Maxon, and at this point I'd be surprised if Aspen has many fans. I got tired of America's wishy-washy attitude. She wouldn't communicate, and therefore missed so many opportunities to clear things up. I got a bit frustrated with both America and Maxon. His behavior was incongruous at times too.

Not much progress is made. We are down to four candidates at the end of The Elite. We got to learn a little bit more about the girls and the political situation (and the King!) but I felt there was a lot of filler (mostly America loving Maxon, then hating him, then loving him, then hating him...) You get the idea.

The Elite reads quickly! I read the ebook and thought is was about 250 pages, but that's not what the print book says. Like I said at the beginning, I think these books are a lot of fun, and if you enjoyed The Selection, I think you will enjoy The Elite also.

I just have to comment on how I acquired The Elite. Our library system has a new eBook platform! I know that lots of libraries have ebooks for their patrons, but not many school libraries because it is so expensive. But, the state of Illinois has struck a deal, and got a grant, and the price of joining is really reasonable. So, hopefully soon my kids will have access to download ebooks onto their devices. We are in a trial period now, and The Elite was the first ebook I checked out, and it was great! I'm very excited!

Published by HarperTeen, April, 2013
eBook obtained from THE LIBRARY!!!
336 pages (qualifies for my Books You Can Read in a Day Challenge!)

Rating: 3/5

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