Posted on May 15th, 2013 by audra
In these categories Review, Society's Bookshelf

 

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Book Title: Night School
Author: C.J. Daugherty
Release Date: May 21, 2013 (US Version)
Publisher: Katherine Tegen Books
Allie’s world is falling apart…
She hates her school. Her brother has run away. And she’s just been arrested.
Again.
Now her parents are sending her away to a boarding school where she doesn’t know a soul.
But instead of hating her new school, Allie finds she’s happy there. She’s making friends. And then there’s Sylvain, a suave French student who openly flirts with her. And Carter, the brooding loner who seems to have her back.
Soon, though, Allie discovers Cimmeria Academy is no ordinary school. Nothing there is as it seems. And her new friends are hiding dangerous secrets

After a series of arrests and unfortunate incidents with authority, Allie is sent to Cimmeria Academy where there’s no cell phones, no computers, just good old fashioned education. She makes friends quickly with Jo, and we can’t forget the boys Sylvain and Carter who both have warnings about the other for Allie. Despite all the rules, Cimmeria soon feels like home to Allie but not long after mysterious things start to happen and people even end up hurt.

Night School was absolutely nothing like I thought it would be. For some reason I had the pre-conceived notion that this was going to be a paranormal type book with ghosts, vampires or other other wordly creatures. There was a ton of intrigue and suspense, and was a fantastic YA thriller. The characters felt real and relatable. Nothing in this came forced or cheesy which is honestly what I expected.

There were some things that I felt were lacking. I felt that for the first book in a series I was strung along a bit longer than what made me comfortable. At times, even though things were always going on, the pacing of the book felt a little ho-hum. There were these hints of a secret underground group, The Night School, but we didn’t find out much about it until the book was almost over which left me feeling a bit disappointed.

Regardless, I still felt that this was an interesting read. This book was absolutely thrilling and haunting for the majority of it and I’m looking forward to reading the sequel.

Posted on May 15th, 2013 by audra
In these categories Society's Bookshelf, Waiting on Wednesday

waiting
Waiting on Wednesday was started by Jill at Breaking the Spine, and gives us a chance to feature a book we’re waiting to read.

This week I’m waiting on The Vow by Jessica Martinez!

Title: The Vow
Author: Jessica Martinez
Release Date: October 15, 2013

No one has ever believed that Mo and Annie are just friends. How can a guy and a girl really be best friends?

Then the summer before senior year, Mo’s father loses his job, and by extension his work visa. Instantly, life for Annie and Mo crumbles. Although Mo has lived in America for most of his life, he’ll be forced to move to Jordan. The prospect of leaving his home is devastating, and returning to a world where he no longer belongs terrifies him.

Desperate to save him, Annie proposes they tell a colossal lie—that they are in love. Mo agrees because marrying Annie is the only way he can stay. Annie just wants to keep her best friend, but what happens when it becomes a choice between saving Mo and her own chance at real love?

The Vow definitely piqued my interest, can’t wait to get to read this one. What book are you waiting on this week?

Posted on May 15th, 2013 by audra
In these categories Society's Bookshelf, Top Ten Tuesdays

top ten tuesday
Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme created by The Broke and the Bookish. Today’s Theme is: Top Ten Books Dealing With Tough Subjects (abuse, suicide, grief etc or something personal hard for you). I have a hard time reading tough issue books as they usually put me in a funk for a while. Here’s the first five that could come to mind.

The Fault in our Stars by John Green
I wouldn’t be surprised if this dog was on everyone’s list this week. It deals with the tough subject of death in a completely heartwrenching and heartwarming way.

The Secret Life of Bees by Sue Monk Kidd
I’ve read this book and seen the movie a couple of times now and each time it leaves me taking something new away from it. The Secret Life of Bees deals with a plethora of tough issues from segregation, loss and family issues.

Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson
This was a difficult book for me to get through, and deals with abuse and bullying.

Eleanor and Park by Rainbow Rowell
This was a recent read of mine that I absolutely loved. A lot of this book also spoke personally to me. Issues include bullying, abuse and family issues.

The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky
I have a hard time with this one. On one hand it’s a wonderful book about growing up. On the other hand, it deals with a lot of those coming of age issues. Sexual identity, abuse, and suicide are issues featured in this one.

Posted on May 14th, 2013 by audra
In these categories Review, Society's Bookshelf

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Book Title: Towering
Author: Alex Flinn
Release Date: May 14, 2013
Publisher: HarperTeen

At first, I merely saw his face, his hands on the window ledge. Then, his whole body as he swung himself through the window. Only I could not see what he swung on.
Until, one day, I told my dream self to look down. And it was then that I saw. He had climbed on a rope. I knew without asking that the rope had been one of my own tying.

Rachel is trapped in a tower, held hostage by a woman she’s always called Mama. Her golden hair is growing rapidly, and to pass the time, she watches the snow fall and sings songs from her childhood, hoping someone, anyone, will hear her.

Wyatt needs time to reflect or, better yet, forget about what happened to his best friend, Tyler. That’s why he’s been shipped off to the Adirondacks in the dead of winter to live with the oldest lady in town. Either that, or no one he knows ever wants to see him again.

Dani disappeared seventeen years ago without a trace, but she left behind a journal that’s never been read, not even by her overbearing mother…until now.

A #1 New York Times bestselling author, Alex Flinn knows her fairy tales, and Towering is her most mind-bending interpretation yet. Dark and mysterious, this reimagining of Rapunzel will have readers on the edge of their seats wondering where Alex will take them next!

The very first thing that I loved about Towering is the cover. I think it’s absolutely gorgeous and pulled me in right off the back. The second thing I loved is the books setting. It’s a fictional town in New York, but is situated where a lot of my family lives in New York. I love when I can identify with a story based on its vacation, so I knew we were off to a good start.

Rachel has lived in a tower for most of her life, not spotting anyone other than her mother. Wyatt is sent off to live with a friend of his mother’s, Mrs. Greenwood and from his first night there things go from weird to weirder. He finds a journal of his mother’s high school friend, Dani, and he thinks he can begin to hear her voice calling to him.

Flinn takes us on a journey of mystery and intrigue as we try to figure out exactly what is going on in this town. Personally, things got a little weird for me, and I felt removed from the story towards the end as things just got unbelievable weird. Despite this, Flinn has crafted an amazing retelling of the classic Rapunzel fairy tale. Her characters were charming, and I couldn’t help but get pulled into the story thanks to them.

This was my first book of Flinn’s that I’ve experienced, and after reading Towering I definitely plan on going back and reading her others.

Posted on May 13th, 2013 by audra
In these categories Society's Bookshelf

yaiconstour

Reminder! Ally Condie will be at the Icons book tour tomorrow, Tuesday May 14 at 7pm at The Kings English Salt Lake City, UT.

If you haven’t heard, Ally said this about Icons ”Epic in scale and exquisite in detail — a haunting futuristic fable of loss and love.”

Awesome right?

We were able to meet Margaret at the Seattle book signing, and we had a copy signed to giveaway to YOU! Just enter below!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Posted on May 13th, 2013 by audra
In these categories Review, Society's Bookshelf

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Title: Openly Straight
Author: Bill Konigsberg
Release Date: May 28, 2013
Publisher: Author A. Levine Books

Rafe is a normal teenager from Boulder, Colorado. He plays soccer. He’s won skiing prizes. He likes to write.

And, oh yeah, he’s gay. He’s been out since 8th grade, and he isn’t teased, and he goes to other high schools and talks about tolerance and stuff. And while that’s important, all Rafe really wants is to just be a regular guy. Not that GAY guy. To have it be a part of who he is, but not the headline, every single time.

So when he transfers to an all-boys’ boarding school in New England, he decides to keep his sexuality a secret — not so much going back in the closet as starting over with a clean slate. But then he sees a classmate breaking down. He meets a teacher who challenges him to write his story. And most of all, he falls in love with Ben . . . who doesn’t even know that love is possible.

This witty, smart, coming-out-again story will appeal to gay and straight kids alike as they watch Rafe navigate being different, fitting in, and what it means to be himself.

Openly Straight tells the story of Rafe while he’s on the cusp of some big changes. In Boulder, CO he’s known as the gay kid. His mom is the president of PLAG and his dad will smother you with his charm. Rafe sees his admittance to Natick as his blank slate, which he uses as a way to live label free.

As a lesbian myself, I feel ashamed to admit that this is my first LGBT themed book. Sure, I’ve read books with notions of LGBT-ness, but this is the first one I’ve had the pleasure of reading with a gay main character. I couldn’t have imagined a better book to introduce me to this genre either. I truly understand where Rafe was coming from. You see, I am a lesbian that doesn’t believe in Pride Parades, rainbow stickers on cars, etc. I know we have had a hard past and we have a road to go, but I don’t see or like all the pomp and circumstance in these things. I just want to be Audra, the married lesbian, no different from anyone else I know.

So, I see where Rafe is coming from, but it seems like things went pretty far downhill from there for him. One thing that continued to bother me was his denial about the fact that he was putting himself back in the closet. The closet is a scary place to be, where lots of bad things can happen. Rafe doesn’t see it as this, and it got me rather worked up about it. I wanted to scream at him- “You’re being an idiot and stuffing yourself back in the closet!” But, he’s a young guy who thinks he knows what’s best and of course thinks that means everything is going to turn out okay. And I’m sure it’s easy to guess how things will end up for him.

I loved Konigsberg use of Rafe’s English teacher to explore his past to show us more his reasons for how things ended up this way. We get to delve a bit deeper into the relationship with his parents, and his best friend Claire Olivia. Konisberg did an excellent job with all these characters- especially Rafe and Ben. I would have liked to have seen more development with characters like Bryce, but I can see why there wasn’t more.

Overall, this was a great coming of age sort of tale, and I’m thrilled I was able to dip my toes into the LGBT genre with this one. I can’t wait to read my next!

Posted on May 10th, 2013 by audra
In these categories Review, Society's Bookshelf

11819981
Title: The Lucy Variations
Author: Sara Zarr
Release Date: May 7, 2013
Publisher: Little, Brown

Lucy Beck-Moreau once had a promising future as a concert pianist. The right people knew her name, her performances were booked months in advance, and her future seemed certain.

That was all before she turned fourteen.

Now, at sixteen, it’s over. A death, and a betrayal, led her to walk away. That leaves her talented ten-year-old brother, Gus, to shoulder the full weight of the Beck-Moreau family expectations. Then Gus gets a new piano teacher who is young, kind, and interested in helping Lucy rekindle her love of piano — on her own terms. But when you’re used to performing for sold-out audiences and world-famous critics, can you ever learn to play just for yourself?

National Book Award finalist Sara Zarr takes readers inside the exclusive world of privileged San Francisco families, top junior music competitions, and intense mentorships. The Lucy Variations is a story of one girl’s struggle to reclaim her love of music and herself. It’s about finding joy again, even when things don’t go according to plan. Because life isn’t a performance, and everyone deserves the chance to make a few mistakes along the way.

Time for a confession. This was my first Sara Zarr book I’ve ever read. I’ve had the pleasure of meeting her in person, and I have been wanting to read her books, but I think fate wanted me to read The Lucy Variations first. I started reading this, and starting judging how much I wouldn’t be able to get into this book before I gave it a chance. Although I’m from a musical family, I’ve never cared too much about music. It gives me background noise, but I’ve never been obsessive about a certain musician or band. If it’s possible to have negative musical talent, I would have it.

I quickly started putting my music issues on this book. Around the second chapter I realized what I was doing and let my guard down and just absorbed this book. Once that happened I began living and breathing The Lucy Variations. I absolutely couldn’t put it down!  Lucy has a lot on her plate. She was given heavy expectations from her mother and grandfather, and when she lets them down, her world sort of crumbles. Things that should be easy, like getting up on time for school, become difficult tasks for her.

Lucy has to readjust to life without performing. It’s been eight months and she has to navigate problems with family, friends, crushes and ultimately even herself. I found myself identifying more with this story than I thought I would. I really enjoyed the character interactions and the obstacles they all need to overcome. I don’t think I realized how much I needed to read this book. I’ve been reading way too much dystopian/sci-fi and The Lucy Variations was not only a perfect break to that monotony but also a great introduction to Zarr.

Posted on May 9th, 2013 by audra
In these categories Review, Society's Bookshelf

Reboot
Book Title: Reboot
Author: K.A. Amy Tintera
Release Date: May 7, 2013
Publisher: HarperTeen

Five years ago, Wren Connolly was shot three times in the chest. After 178 minutes she came back as a Reboot: stronger, faster, able to heal, and less emotional. The longer Reboots are dead, the less human they are when they return. Wren 178 is the deadliest Reboot in the Republic of Texas. Now seventeen years old, she serves as a soldier for HARC (Human Advancement and Repopulation Corporation).

Wren’s favorite part of the job is training new Reboots, but her latest newbie is the worst she’s ever seen. As a 22, Callum Reyes is practically human. His reflexes are too slow, he’s always asking questions, and his ever-present smile is freaking her out. Yet there’s something about him she can’t ignore. When Callum refuses to follow an order, Wren is given one last chance to get him in line—or she’ll have to eliminate him. Wren has never disobeyed before and knows if she does, she’ll be eliminated, too. But she has also never felt as alive as she does around Callum.

The perfect soldier is done taking orders.

Wren spent 178 minutes dead after being shot three times in the chest. Lucky (unlucky?) for her she came back as a Reboot with only a gnarly scar. Reboots are kind of like zombie’s in that they are alive after they die, but most similarities stop there. Reboots are  taken in by HARC where they become soldiers. After training they go out into the field to retrieve criminals, reboots, the sick and dying, etc. Basically the dirty work that the human officers don’t want to do.

Wren is a Reboot trainer and since her death number is so high, she gets to pick which newbie she wants to train. Usually this means she picks the highest number as they seem to have a higher survival rate. Her reasoning is that they are less emotional, more stable. Enter Callum who’s number is a whoppingly low 22. Wren doesn’t even eat lunch with numbers that low, let alone train them. Calum is here to change all that.

He manages to  make her think a bit more about why she chooses the higher numbers, and maybe why the lower numbers are out to fail. So, she decides to take on Callum as her her trainee. Training Reboots isn’t easy. It involves way more bone breaking than I am comfortable with, especially when bones end up popping out of skin- yuck.

Overall, I really enjoyed this Reboot. I feel that Amy really nailed the characters. Wren was a great heroine, who shines despite her faults. It was also refreshing to see the girl saving the guys. There is romance, and I think it was done well. Not overpowering, not too cheesy. On that note though, I feel that this is a book that could have been done without the romance and would still be just as amazing. Some points it seemed that things were being done by the characters because of their love interest, which bothers me when it’s characters that have known each other for such a little amount of time. I almost would have preferred this to be an all action no romance book, but despite this it’s still an amazing book.

Reboot has a pretty unique storyline and I feel fans of series such as Divergent and Matched will love Reboot. Amy set up a great first book, there will be a sequel, and ended the first book at a perfect point. I can’t wait to see what’s in store for Wren and the rest of the Reboots in the sequel!

Posted on May 7th, 2013 by audra
In these categories Society's Bookshelf, Top Ten Tuesdays

top ten tuesday
Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme created by The Broke and the Bookish. Today’s Theme is: Top Ten Books When You Need Something Light & Fun

I haven’t really ever looked to a book for something light or fun, however these are definitely the books I would recommend in that situation. This week’s topic also made me realize that a lot of the books I’ve been reading lately are really intense. Maybe it’s time for a bit of a switch up. Many of these are what I would consider classics. Something I would picture reading to my kids before bed night after night.

Peter Pan by J.M. Barrie
Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll
Harry Potter and the Sorceror’s Stone by JK Rowling
Confessions of a Shopaholic by Sophia Kinsella
The Wishing Spell by Chris Colfer
Something Borrowed by Emily Giffin
Anna and the French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins
Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants by Ann Brashares
The Giver by Lois Lowry
The Princess Diaries by Meg Cabot

Posted on May 7th, 2013 by audra
In these categories Review, Society's Bookshelf

endgame
Book Title: The End Games

Author: T. Michael Martin

Release Date: May 7, 2013

Publisher: HarperCollins

It happened on Halloween.

The world ended.

And a dangerous Game brought it back to life.

Seventeen-year-old Michael and his five-year-old brother, Patrick, have been battling monsters in The Game for weeks.

In the rural mountains of West Virginia, armed with only their rifle and their love for each other, the brothers follow Instructions from the mysterious Game Master. They spend their days searching for survivors, their nights fighting endless hordes of “Bellows”—creatures that roam the dark, roaring for flesh. And at this Game, Michael and Patrick are very good.

But The Game is changing.

The Bellows are evolving.

The Game Master is leading Michael and Patrick to other survivors—survivors who don’t play by the rules.

And the brothers will never be the same.

T. Michael Martin’s debut novel is a transcendent thriller filled with electrifying action, searing emotional insight, and unexpected romance.

The cover and synopsis for The End Games pulled me in, and the amazing story kept me reading. Michael and Patrick have been through a lot, although Michael is really the only one who carried the burden of how serious their journey was. Thanks to some quick thinking, Michael is able to project an idea of safety for his brother Patrick. In keeping his brother safe from the Bellows and at some points even Patrick himself, Michael is able to move them closer to their ideal “safe zone” that the Game Master promises.

This was a Walking Dead meets Virtual Reality come to life book that delivered a solid action-adventure zombie thriller. The characters were identifiable, the setting was perfect for this kind of scenario, and some of the scenes were down right scary. The scenes were so well written that I could see myself in them, watching it all unfurl almost like a scary movie.

The End Games is a solid 5 star story. The relationship between the two brothers is strong and comical at times, and absolutely heartbreaking during others. The West Virginia country settings add an extra element of creepiness that left me on the edge of my seat from start to finish.