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Sunday, November 23, 2014

Out This Week (Nov 23-29)

There's not a ton of titles coming out this week, but these look amazing. 
 11.25.14 Caught Up by Amir Abrams
11.25.14 Captive (Blackcoat Rebellion #2) by Aimee Carter
 11.25.14 On the Edge by Allison van Diepen
11.25.14 Anomaly by Tonya Kuper
11.24.14 House of Robots by James Patterson and Chris Grabenstein
11.25.14 Girl Online by Zoe Sugg

Monday, November 17, 2014

Talon by Julie Kagawa

Title: Talon
Author: Julie Kagawa
ISBN: 9780373211395
Publisher: Harlequin Teen
Released: October 28, 2014
Series: Talon #1
Page #: 449
Source: My own copy

"Long ago, dragons were hunted to near extinction by the Order of St. George, a legendary society of dragonslayers. Hiding in human form and growing their numbers in secret, the dragons of Talon have become strong and cunning, and they're positioned to take over the world with humans none the wiser.

Ember and Dante are the only sister and brother known to dragonkind. Trained to infiltrate society, Ember wants to live the teen experience and enjoy a summer of freedom before taking her destined place in Talon. But destiny is a matter of perspective, and a rogue dragon will soon challenge everything Ember has been taught. As Ember struggles to accept her future, she and her brother are hunted by the Order of St. George.

Soldier Garret Xavier Sebastian has a mission to seek and destroy all dragons, and Talon's newest recruits in particular. But he cannot kill unless he is certain he has found his prey - and nothing is certain about Ember Hill. Faced with Ember's bravery, confidence and all-too-human desires, Garret begins to question everything that the order has ingrained in him - and what he might be willing to give up to find the truth about dragons."
First Lines:

"'Ember, when did your parents die, and what was the cause of death?'
I stifled a groan and tore my gaze from the car window, where the bright, sunny town of Crescent Beach shimmered beyond the tinted glass."
Page 11

Undercover dragons living among humans - researching humans - trying to go undetected? I'm totally in.

Ember and Dante have been given the opportunity to live among humans and learn as much as they can until they are given their official assignments. They've been extremely sheltered until now, so this is a huge change for them. Ember greets the challenge head-on. She makes friends, meets a guy, learns to surf... until she meets a mysterious stranger who seems to know all about her. Not to mention she is trying to avoid being detected by their nemesis - the Order of St. George.

While I know the bones of this story are a little silly... this book was awesome. It's the perfect mix of light-hearted fun and surfing, but serious danger and training. The whole concept of undercover dragons is a total new one for me and I love it. There are some pretty epic battle scenes that will make this book very appealing to action lovers, and I think there's plenty of relationship stuff that will appeal to the romance lovers. Shall we say that this book has something for everyone? Maybe. :)

You get hints about where Ember and Dante have come from, but there's never a clear picture of their home. Their training. Did they have friends there? Did they have family? You get the feeling that they have come from a scientific lab... that they have never interacted with anyone. But I also find their relationship very interesting - especially if they come from that sort of background. They're very protective of each other, as twins often are. But That's not something they were taught and not something their parent organization (Talon) is a fan of. So I found them to be very interesting. I get the feeling that we'll get a lot more of Dante's side of things in the next book.

As you can imagine, there is a definite love triangle going on here. The guys could not be more opposite - one is a rogue dragon that he denounced anything Talon-related and wants Ember to join him, the other is a dragon hunter who doesn't really know who she is, but has his suspicions! I mean, how much more emotionally charged can you get? Why couldn't she just find some cute surfer boy? Alas!

Seriously, though... I totally bought into the story. I wanna know what's going to happen next. I want to see where all of the characters end up. I feel pretty invested. I will say that I don't think this is Kagawa's best book to date. I mean, can you ever live up to the Iron Fey series? I think not. :) But honestly, I think it's an original story that people will love. Especially those fans of paranormal romance. You don't get much more paranormal than dragons, right?
Other Blog Reviews:

Star-Crossed Book Blog
Bookish Broads
The Irish Banana
Read. Breathe. Relax.
Words Read and Written
Fictional Thoughts
Musings of a YA Reader
Reading Bifrost
Icey Books
Goldilox and the Three Weres

Saturday, November 15, 2014

Breathe, Annie, Breathe by Miranda Kenneally

Title: Breathe, Annie, Breathe
Author: Miranda Kenneally
ISBN: 9781402284793
Publisher: Sourcebooks Fire
Released: July 15, 2014
Page #: 307
Source: ARC from the publisher

"Annie hates running. No matter how far she jogs, she can't escape the guilt that if she hadn't broken up with Kyle, he might still be alive. So to honor his memory, she starts preparing for the marathon he intended to run.

But the training is even more grueling than Annie could have imagined. Despite her coaching, she's at war with her body, her mind - and her heart. With every mile that her training partner, Jeremiah, cheers her on, she grows more conflicted. She wants to run into his arms... and sprint in the opposite direction. For Annie, opening up to love again may be even more of a challenge than crossing the finish line."
First Lines: (Quoted from the galley - see final copy for edits)

"As a kid, I had the worse mile time ever. 
Our gym teacher made us run the mile a few times a year for something called the Presidential Fitness Test. I'd huff and puff and wonder why the hell President Bush cared how fast I could run laps around the playground."
Page 3

It's not very often that a book is set in and around Nashville. So, of course, I had to give this one a shot.

After her boyfriend dies, Annie decides that she has to finish the marathon that he was training for. She's not a runner, though, so she has to go through a fairly grueling training process to even think about finishing the marathon. Along the way, she meets lots of amazing people who have their own demons. Not to mention there's a guy she doesn't expect... and he starts some feeling she's not sure she is ready for. It's all a mess and she's worried that she doesn't even have the strength to finish the race.

I'm always a fan of stories about mental toughness overcoming physical pain and heartbreak. Annie has all of this. She's dealing with the death of her long-term boyfriend - a death that she's convinced she could have prevented. As she finished up high school, there are lots of things she never thought she would have to do on her own. She gets stronger both mentally and physically throughout the course of the book - and it's not without its bumps and hurtles.

Of course, I loved all of the Nashville area markers. It's kind of fun to read about a place I know so well. For me, that was almost worth reading the book altogether. There were a few places that I'd never heard of, so I wonder if they were made up for the purpose of the book. But it worked well and I could easily imagine those trails and the places they stopped... This probably just means there need to be more books set here.

The story spans several months because you start with Annie's first training sessions. Throughout that time, she graduates high school and starts college with some unlikely friends. I appreciate that the author didn't cut any corners because of the timing. I imagine training for a marathon takes at least that long. But you do wonder if there are some things missing because you're only getting the highlights from those months. On the other hand, it allows you to imagine what her life is like other times - which is probably pretty normal.

Because the book spans so much time, that really makes it a lot easier to believe the romance that blooms throughout. It's not fast. Annie wants to take it slow because of her past - and because of who the guy is. It's just really sweet and shows what it can be like when two people are totally falling for each other. With it branching into college, you can imagine she's dealing a little bit with more adult situations of living on her own, but it's well done.

I also enjoy that Annie doesn't come from some amazing background or privilege. She has to work for everything she wants - quite literally. She has to spend her time as a waitress so that she can earn enough money for her training sessions and books for college. I really liked reading about someone who has goals and is willing to work hard for them. And I feel like there might be a lot of kids in that sort of situation who might benefit from hearing her voice.

I would recommend this book for upper YA readers because of all the college stuff. It's sort of a sports book with all of the running and extreme sports. And it would probably be more for wanna-be athletes rather than people who are already good at it. :) But it's a good story and I had a fun time reading it. I think some teens will have the same experience.
Other Blog Reviews:

Teen Librarian Toolbox
Dear Author
A Bookish Escape
Just a Couple More Pages
Effortlessly Reading
Snuggly Oranges
Hey, Library Girl!
The Talking Bookworm
Smitten Over Books

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Kinda Like Brothers by Coe Booth

Title: Kinda Like Brothers
Author: Coe Booth
ISBN: 9780545224963
Publisher: Scholastic
Released: August 26, 2014
Page #: 248
Source: My public library

"It was one thing when Jarrett's mom took care of foster babies who needed help. But this time it's different. This time the baby who needs help has an older brother - a kid Jarrett's age named Kevon.

Everyone thinks Jarrett and Kevon should be friends - but that's not gonna happen. Not when Kevon's acting like he's better than Jarrett - and not when Jarrett finds out that Kevon's keeping some major secrets.

Jarrett doesn't think it's fair that he has to share his room, his friends, and his life with some stranger. He's gotta do something about it - but what?"
First Lines:

"He's leaving.
He's in the corner of the room throwing stuff in that stupid army bag he got, trying to be real quiet."
Page 1

I'm pretty much a fan of anything Coe Booth puts out there. This is no exception.

Jarrett's mom is known for taking in foster babies - at any time of night. So when one of those babies comes in with a little extra baggage (aka a big brother), Jarrett realizes that his life is about to change. He has to share everything and his mom expects he and Kevon to get along famously. That's just not the case. In fact, they butt heads at every turn. Neither of them like the situation, and Jarrett cannot wait to get his normal life back.

It's so refreshing to have this sort of middle grade book. It deals with so many issues and it seems like something many kids will be able to relate to. I think some of my favorite things were about the Center. I loved that these boys were doing a step routine, that the boys decide to take yoga, that Jarrett was learning to be a film maker... I just think it's great to show them trying lots of new things and learning more about the world around them.

I think it all boils down to how relatable this book is - and how relatable I hope it is. I hope kids have a place like the Center to go. I hope there are classes happening about being how to be a good man. I hope there are mentors out there like the various men in Jarrett's life. I hope there are women like Jarrett's mom who take in and love babies who need a place to go. I really, really hope that kids who pick up this book find a little bit of themselves in Jarrett - no matter where they're from or what their lives are like.

The storyline about Jarrett struggling in school and probably failing sixth grade makes me really sad. But the thing I really liked about this was the fact that nothing was sugar-coated. He doesn't read well, he doesn't test well. This is a reality for lots of kids out there. But I hope they are able to read this kid's story and realize that there is hope for them. And that they might find comfort that they aren't the only ones.

So, I've got lots of pie-in-the-sky thinking about this book, obviously. It's well written and I think it's packed with wonderful messages. I hope others get the same feelings from it that I did. While I love the YA books that Booth writes, I sort of hope she continues writing for middle graders as well. She is very skilled at both and I look forward to whatever she's got coming in the future.
Other Blog Reviews:

Guys Lit Wire
Wandering Librarians
The One and Only Marfalfa
Running Through the Stars
Reaching Reluctant Readers
YA Books Central
Teen Librarian Toolbox
The Pirate Tree

Sunday, November 9, 2014

Out This Week (November 9-15)

Publishing is slowing down a little for the year, but there are some great books coming out this week. Have a look!
11.11.14 Revolution by Jenna Black
11.11.14 The Bane Chronicles by Cassandra Clare
11.11.14 Slayers: Friends & Traitors by C.J. Hill
11.11.14 The Name of the Blade by Zoe Marriott
 11.11.14 Stone Cove Island by Suzanne Myers
11.13.14 Stranger by Sherwood Smith & Rachel Manija Brown
 11.11.14 In Real Life by Lawrence Tabak
11.11.14 Autumn Falls by Bella Thorne
 11.11.14 Like Water on Stone by Dana Walrath
11.11.14 Ask Amy Green: Wedding Belles by Sarah Webb 

Friday, November 7, 2014

The Unfinished Life of Addison Stone by Adele Griffin

Title: The Unfinished Life of Addison Stone
Author: Adele Griffin
ISBN: 9781616953607
Publisher: Soho Teen
Released: August 12, 2014
Page #: 241
Source: My public library

"'From the moment she stepped foot in NYC, Addison Stone's subversive art made her someone to watch. And her violent drowning left her fans and critics craving to know more. I conducted interviews with those who knew her best - including close friends, family, teachers, mentors, art dealers, boyfriends, and critics - and retraced the tumultuous path of Addison's life. I hope I can shed new light on what really happened the night of July 28.'
-Adele Griffin
'Some people wonder if they dare disturb the universe. Other people smash their universe to pieces just to see how it looks the next morning. For those of you who never knew her, take this book. Read her life. Be inspired to be more.'
-Lincoln Reed, Addison Stone's former boyfriend
'I don't believe in magic, but Addy lives right here in these pages - in the memories of all of us who knew her best.'
-Lucy Lim, childhood best friend"
First Lines:

"I met Addison Stone only once. She had enrolled as a freshman in my creative writing workshop at Pratt Institute. There were only six other students in my class, and as a visiting instructor, I was happy we'd be such a tight group."
Page 3

I don't think I can even begin to tell you how fascinated I was by this story.

This is the chronicle of the life of Addison Stone by her nearest and dearest. After her death, everyone has had a chance to really assess their relationship with her and what they think has happened. She was a fabulous portrait artist who was just making a name for herself in the NYC art community. It's a tragedy and these interviews show how her friends and family are dealing with it and all the rumor surrounding Addison's life.

I've never read anything like this before. A coworker told me there are several adult books written this way, but I'm still in awe about the format. I can see things being written in an interview format, but to really let it go on almost like it's a biography instead of fiction is fascinating. I legit had to do some research when I started this book - because I honestly thought I was reading about someone's real life. In that, I think it's a nod to how awesome this author is that it's pulled off perfectly.

Addison's life was certainly troubled, but full of energy and possibility. She's an artist who grew up in a small community until someone realized the potential of her talent. Even before she is discovered, she is literally and figuratively haunted by voices of the past. Unfortunately, she listened to those voices and really bad things came from it. I feel like this is something that is often a part of the artist community - people are a little more manic, a little more intense, and a little more on edge. And that really rings true in this story of Addison and her rise to the top.

There is a really intense focus on mental illness in this book. Addison ends up taking anti-psychotics and having a stint in an institution to help her through a rough patch. I appreciate that it's treated by her family and friends as just a fact of her life. Not something weird or troubling, just that she needs help and is able to get it. I think that's a great look at that sort of instance - and what part it may have played in her death. Her struggles with this is really what brings into question whether it was an accident or not.

Having this little window into the arts world of New York is sort of cool. I mean, you know about people like this, you've read about them in the tabloids. It's just an interesting look into the life of someone in that position and how those things changed her life - both for the better and worse. And to think about all of the tiny things a person owns during their life that might become valuable once they have died. Especially if there is some sort of story behind it... no matter how small. There's a little bit of that sort issue that happens in this story because of Addison's slimy handler.

I guess my only "complaint" about this book is the ending. You effectively know what's going to happen from page one. It's spelled out there. So it almost feels anti-climactic, but only because there are no twists or turns. You do get a little more information about that night and a couple of things that sort of stand out. But of course it doesn't change what happens... and the conclusion is still left in the hands of the reader. All of which is probably intentional.

I think I'm honestly in awe of this book. I've been talking it up to just about everyone I can think of. It will probably cross lots of genres and bring more adults into the YA world. I've read other books by this author and this is definitely the one that is going to stick with me. But I'm forever a fan.
Other Blog Reviews:

The Flyleaf Review
Justin's Book Blog
Refracted Light Reviews
Waking Brain Cells
Paper Cuts
Read. Write. Ramble.
A Nook for Books
The Reading Addict
We Live and Breathe Books

Sunday, November 2, 2014

Out This Week (November 2-8)

Another weekly roundup of great titles coming out this week. Take a look! 
 11.4.14 Killer Instinct (The Naturals #2) by Jennifer Lynn Barnes
11.4.14 Visitors (Pathfinder #3) by Orson Scott Card
 11.4.14 Waistcoats & Weaponry (Finishing School #3) by Gail Carriger
11.4.14 Broken by Marianne Curley
 11.4.14 Empire of Shadows by Miriam Forster
11.4.14 The Walled City by Ryan Graudin
 11.4.14 The Retribution of Mara Dyer by Michelle Hodkin
11.4.14 Anomaly by Tonya Kuper
 11.4.14 Mortal Heart (His Fair Assassin #3) by Robin LaFevers
11.4.14 Forbidden by Kimberley Griffiths Little
11.4.14 Watched by C.J. Lyons
11.4.14 True Fire by Gary Meehan

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