October 29, 2013

World Book Night: April 23, 2014

I think it's crazy to be talking about 2014 already but, alas, World Book Night applications are now being accepted!  It's a great list of books this year so get your applications in fast.  I'm a huge fan of World Book Night as a great opportunity to meet others in your community while spreading the love of reading.  Can't wait to do it again.  Get your application in soon! 

October 8, 2013

Six Months Later by Natalie Richards

Have you ever forgotten what you ate for dinner the night before?  What about that thing you did last weekend?  Well, how would you feel waking up to realize six months have gone by and you have no recollection whatsoever of those months? 

In May, Chloe Spinnaker was just an average Junior coasting through high school.  Come November she has the highest SAT scores of her school, has one of the best GPAs and is dating her crush and one of the most popular guys in school.  She has no idea how she went from taking a nap in study hall one day to this strangely perfect life.  Despite being newly popular, Chloe has no one to trust, her best friend won’t answer her calls and ignores her in the hallways and her boyfriend Blake makes her feel uneasy.  How is she supposed to find out where her six months went?  A suspenseful and intriguing read. 

August 29, 2013

The Ghost Bride by Yangsze Choo

In the British ruled colony of Malaya in 1893, an opium addicted father tells his daughter he received an unusual marriage proposal for her.  The wealthy Lim family has a son that recently passed away and they want Li Lan to marry him.  To marry the living to the deceased is an uncommon practice but nonetheless it is custom in order to placate a spirit.  Li Lan would then be taken care of in the family’s home for life.  Although, with zero other marriage prospects, Li Lan is not pleased with this proposal.  Things are even worse when Lim Tian Ching begins to haunt Li Lan in her dreams.  Choo creates a detailed parallel world of the dead in which Li Lan finds herself trapped.  I hadn’t ever considered tales of the Chinese afterlife to be so desirable but Choo writes on such a level to make the supernatural alluring. 

July 30, 2013

Time Between Us by Tamara Ireland Stone

Anna lives in 1995 Evanston, IL while Bennett primarily lives in present day San Francisco although he can travel back and forth in time at will.  Bennett likes taking his sister with him into the past to 90’s alternative concerts.  It’s during one of these concerts that Bennett ‘falls’ back to his present 2012, leaving his sister behind in Illinois.  He must travel back and stay for an extended period of time in order to find his sister and bring her home.  This is when he meets Anna, the first person he trusts enough to share his secret with outside his immediate family.  Anna has longed to travel period.  Her dad bought her a map of the world so she can track her travels with red push pins.  She has one push pin and it’s in Michigan.  Lucky for Anna her new boyfriend can take her exotic places but at a cost. 

July 29, 2013

Crown of Midnight by Sarah J. Maas

I just finished an advanced reader's copy of Crown of Midnight and could not be more pleased!  Maas' first book Throne of Glass was amazing and I think this one is even better.  I love when that happens!  Celaena Sardothien has won the brutal contest to become King of Adarlan's personal assassin and has begun working towards her freedom by killing the King's enemies.  Although it would appear so, Celaena's loyalties do not lie with the King.  She has been faking her targets' deaths and helping them flee.  The King's next target must be killed for starting a resistance group against the King's "plans". Celaena feels she must find out more information about the resistance and these so called plans before acting.  All the while her relationship with the Captain of the Guard keeps growing, along with her intrigue of the Glass Castle's secrets.  I can definitely see this as the next big YA series. 

June 25, 2013

Dad is Fat by Jim Gaffigan

Whether a parent or not, you'll still find Dad is Fat hilarious.  I wisely opted to listen to the audiobook as it is read by Gaffigan himself, and really the only way it should be read.  He had me laughing even before he started reciting the text! Gaffigan has five kids.  All under the age of eight.  Living in a two bedroom apartment in New York City.  The daily goings-on in that apartment alone have to be ridiculous and with Gaffigan's voice and insight it's all the better.  Highly amusing!

June 13, 2013

Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell

Even after hearing all the good reviews for Eleanor & Park I was still surprised by how much I liked it.  Outcasts, Eleanor, the new girl with crazy red hair, and Park, the half-Korean kid, regrettably find themselves sharing a bus seat to and from school.  Soon Park realizes Eleanor has been quietly reading his comics over his shoulder and they gradually start to talk about X-Men and The Smith's.  Eleanor's personal story takes time to unfold and we find out her home life is terrible; with an abusive stepfather who kicked her out a year ago.  And although Park's home life looks idyllic, especially to Eleanor, Park has his own father/son issues.  Their first love blossoms as their trust grows and they begin to lean on each other when life gets tough. 

May 27, 2013

The Shadow Society by Marie Rutkoski

Darcy Jones was five when she was abandoned at a firehouse in Chicago and has been flying through foster parents since.  At the age of sixteen she is finally going to the same school for a second year in a row.  This new year has been great up until she kisses her crush, gets arrested and her foster mother throws a kitchen knife at her all in the same day.  Darcy responds by vanishing.  And by doing so she finally starts to find some answers.  Fantastic book.

May 9, 2013

Throne of Glass by Sarah J. Maas

Celaena Sardothien, best assassin in the land, who happens to be serving out a sentence in the mines, is tracked down by the Crown Prince of Adarlan to be his chosen Champion in the King’s search for an assassin.  The last man, or woman, standing in this competition receives the honor of killing for the King.  Initially, the book reminded me of Hunger Games, however it took a different turn and wasn’t solely about the competition.  I do recommend it if you liked Hunger Games.  Anyway, back to Throne of Glass.  In an attempt to regain control of her freedom, Celaena accepts the King’s challenge.  When the other Champions, an assortment of assassins, soldiers, and thieves, start to turn up gruesomely slaughtered outside of the prearranged Tests, Celaena tries to put meaning to the strange Wyrdmarks and sinister-looking gargoyles that can be found throughout the Glass Castle.  The action really picks up when Celaena finds a hidden passageway leading from her room to a catacomb.  And also what teen book wouldn’t be complete without a love triangle! 

April 29, 2013

Nantucket Blue by Leila Howland

I was lucky enough to receive an Advanced Reader's Copy of Nantucket Blue, although it comes out very soon, May 7th, so I don't feel too bad recommending a book not yet released.  I could not put this book down and found myself forcing it to my nightstand once midnight had finally hit.  It took me straight back to high school with the teen language and fights and crushes.  Cricket Thompson has been madly in love with Jay Logan forever and even has a Jay playlist she constantly listens to.  When her best friend, Jules Clayton, invites her to spend the summer at her family's beach home on Nantucket she couldn't be happier.  Of course, knowing Jay will be on the island all summer will make this the all-time best summer vacation!  When the Clayton family is hit with a tragedy and Jules tells Cricket she can no longer come to Nantucket, Cricket is beside herself.  However, a rescinded invitation is not going to stop her from having the best summer ever!

March 26, 2013

Pivot Point by Kasie West

Addie Coleman lives on the Compound where people with advanced mental abilities reside and work.  Kind of like X-Men but with strictly mental powers.  Addie is a Searcher, when faced with a decision, she can see into the future for the outcome of either choice she may make.  With her parents’ divorce she must decide to either stay on the Compound with her mother or move to the normal world with her father.  Each choice is laid out in alternating chapters and filled with good and bad outcomes.  Knowing the possible futures in her case doesn’t seem to make the decision any easier.  Addie finds love in either future however she also finds danger and betrayal.  I loved this book, it kept me guessing the whole time. 

February 19, 2013

Guitar Zero by Gary Marcus

I’ve wanted to learn the violin for a very, very long time now but I keep talking myself out of it.  I figure I won’t be very good since I’m starting so much later in life, ok, not that much later but I’m no longer a kid.  I fear that I’ll give it up right away because I’m certain I have no natural musical talent.  So when I happened upon Guitar Zero: the science of becoming musical at any age, I thought I’d find out how someone who was about to turn 40 handled learning the guitar.  Gary Marcus, a cognitive psychologist, chronicles his experience learning an instrument as well as sharing several renowned musicians’ own experiences.  Marcus provides research findings throughout the book challenging the perception that musical talent is innate.  From self-teaching to the Dalcroze method to playing in a band with 11 year olds at a summer camp, Marcus explores a myriad of techniques in learning an instrument.  It’s a very interesting book for anyone considering, and possibly running away from, picking up an instrument.  And as my thirtieth birthday approaches, I’ll be asking for a beginner’s violin so that I can finally get over my fear and possibly bring great joy in my life at learning something new.  I’ll let you know how it goes. 

February 6, 2013

Winter Garden by Kristin Hannah

I believe I have found a new favorite author in Kristin Hannah.  Her intricate storytelling reminds me of Jodi Picoult as well as her ability to delve into family relationships and the complexities that come along with them.  Winter Garden is about two sisters that are nothing alike and their relationship with their cold and apathetic mother, Anya.  The eldest, Meredith, married, had kids early and stayed at home helping run the family apple orchard while Nina, a photojournalist, fled home as early as possible and has been traveling the world ever since.  The two are back under their parents’ roof when their father becomes ill.  One of his last dying wishes is for the girls to get to know their mother.  Having never been close with Anya the sisters take this promise in very different ways.  What unfolds is a beautiful and tragic story of their mother’s past. 

January 29, 2013

Vacation Reading is (Usually) the Best

I just got back from vacation which, to me, means crazy amounts of reading was to be completed.  I brought along a few books and was really counting on the hotel's book exchange "library" for more reading material but was pretty disappointed by the selection.  That hasn't happened before, next time I'm bringing several books and just dealing with the extra heft in my luggage.

I'll give you a brief overview of the four books I read on my trip:

Janet Evanovich's Visions of Sugar Plums: I brought this along because it was going to be a very quick read (finished it on the plane) and so that I could give it to the hotel's book exchange on arrival.

Karen White's After the Rain:  the first book I grabbed from the exchange, not something I would typically read, but it was alright.  Basically it's a girl meets boy, complications arise (surprise!), girl tries to run away, boy still wants girl after all the drama, girl gets boy in the end.  What a summary, right?!

R.J. Anderson's Quicksilver: I've been waiting to read this and had high hopes for it after loving Ultraviolet so much.  However, the story was sadly not as gripping as the first.  This companion novel follows Tori, the girl who goes missing in the first novel, as she tries to flee the cops and doctors tracking her who ultimately want to uncover her secret.  Fortunately, the characters from the first novel appear to help keep her free. 

Matthew Quick's Silver Linings Playbook: by far my favorite read of the week.  I haven't seen the movie and really hope they didn't muck it up.  It was a very heart-warming yet thought-provoking book and I think it really lives up to all the hype.  Go read it!

January 7, 2013

World Book Night, April 23, 2013

It's that time again.  World Book Night is back!  January 23rd is the last date to submit your application to be a Book Giver so get moving.  Last year was amazing and I can't wait to do it again.  WBN is the opportunity to choose one of your favorite books from a long list and help pass them out in your community to light or non-readers.  It's such a great opportunity to meet people in your community while talking about books!  Please sign up if you haven't already.