Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Waiting on Wednesday (116)

"Waiting on" Wednesday is a weekly meme to discuss upcoming books we can't wait to get our hands on. Waiting on Wednesday is hosted by Jill at Breaking the Spine.   

This week, I'm waiting on:

Dare You To by Katie McGarry
Release date: May 28, 2013


If anyone knew the truth about Beth Risk's home life, they'd send her mother to jail and seventeen-year-old Beth who knows where. So she protects her mom at all costs. Until the day her uncle swoops in and forces Beth to choose between her mom's freedom and her own happiness. That's how Beth finds herself living with an aunt who doesn't want her and going to a school that doesn't understand her. At all. Except for the one guy who shouldn't get her, but does....
Ryan Stone is the town golden boy, a popular baseball star jock-with secrets he can't tell anyone. Not even the friends he shares everything with, including the constant dares to do crazy things. The craziest? Asking out the Skater girl who couldn't be less interested in him.
But what begins as a dare becomes an intense attraction neither Ryan nor Beth expected. Suddenly, the boy with the flawless image risks his dreams-and his life-for the girl he loves, and the girl who won't let anyone get too close is daring herself to want it all....
I liked the first book, Pushing the Limits, and I am interested in reading more about Beth's story. I read an excerpt and it sounds really good.

Vader's Little Princess by Jeffrey Brown
Release date: April 23, 2013


In this irresistibly funny follow-up to the breakout bestseller Darth Vader and Son, Vader—Sith Lord and leader of the Galactic Empire—now faces the trials, joys, and mood swings of raising his daughter Leia as she grows from a sweet little girl into a rebellious teenager. Smart and funny illustrations by artist Jeffrey Brown give classic Star Wars moments a twist by bringing these iconic family relations together under one roof. From tea parties to teaching Leia how to fly a TIE fighter, regulating the time she spends talking with friends via R2-D2's hologram, and making sure Leia doesn't leave the house wearing only the a skirted metal bikini, Vader's parenting skills are put hilariously to the test.

I thought Darth Vader and Son was a cute and funny book and this looks like it will be just as good. 

Sunday, January 27, 2013

It's Monday, What Are You Reading (135)

It's Monday, What Are You Reading is a fun weekly meme hosted by Sheila at Book Journey where we share what we've read and reviewed over the past week and what we plan to read next.

It is hard to believe that February is almost here! I've been lucky so far with winter weather. We did close the library an hour early on Friday due to snow but the roads were clear by the time I left. If we can just make it through the next month, spring will be here in the blink of an eye :)

I have been feverishly reading this past weekend to make up for my lack of reading during the week. I was too distracted by Pinterest! I love planning library programs and right now am in the middle of a planning what should hopefully be a really fun Star Wars program for all ages. I also have been working on the Blind Date With a Book adult winter reading program which just started last week and involved me wrapping up lots of books and writing "personal ads" for them. Now that I am getting caught up, hopefully this week I will do better about reading!

Books read:

Etiquette and Espionage by Gail Carriger

This was a fun and creative YA steampunk book though I definitely prefer the Parasol Protectorate series. 

Double Crossed by Ally Carter

This e-novella features Macy McHenry from the Gallagher Girls series and Hale from the Heist Society series and it was such a fantastic story. I hope that we will see more character crossover between the series in future!

Books reviewed:

Edenbrooke by Julianne Donaldson

Currently reading:

A Prayer for Owen Meany by John Irving

I have about 150 pages to go and I hope to finish this book by tomorrow. I think I definitely appreciate this novel more as an adult than I did back in college. 

What I plan to read next:

Also Known As by Robin Benway

I actually already started reading this book but had to put it aside to read my book discussion book. It is supposed to be similar to the Gallagher Girls books (it is also about a teenage spy but she isn't a very good one).

Star Wars: Scoundrels by Timothy Zahn

I have the e-book checked out from the library but I am hoping to get the audio book. I loved the narrator's reading of Heir to the Empire (he sounds like the movie characters-except for Leia). I am currently helping plan the library's Jedi Academy program with the Children's Librarian and this is the perfect book to put me in a Star Wars state of mind.

The Sugar Queen by Sarah Addison Allen

I am excited about reading this one as I've enjoyed all of her other books and this is the only one left to read. I love that the main character loves to read romance novels too.

Friday, January 25, 2013

Review: Edenbrooke

By Julianne Donaldson
Published: June 7, 2012

Marianne Daventry will do anything to escape the boredom of Bath and the amorous attentions of an unwanted suitor. So when an invitation arrives from her twin sister, Cecily, to join her at a sprawling country estate, she jumps at the chance. Thinking she’ll be able to relax and enjoy her beloved English countryside while her sister snags the handsome heir of Edenbrooke, Marianne finds that even the best laid plans can go awry.

From a terrifying run-in with a highwayman to a seemingly harmless flirtation, Marianne finds herself embroiled in an unexpected adventure filled with enough romance and intrigue to keep her mind racing. Will she be able to rein in her traitorous heart, or will a mysterious stranger sweep her off her feet? Fate had something other than a relaxing summer in mind when it sent Marianne to Edenbrooke.

My review:

I enjoyed reading Edenbrooke as a Regency romance that doesn't try to ape Jane Austen novels. It is also a "clean" or as the cover states "proper" romance without the usual scenes one finds in other romance novels, making it an appropriate read for young teens who enjoy Jane Austen. For those who prefer their romances with more heat, trust me when I say that in this instance, less is more.

Marianne is sometimes frustrating as a heroine. I liked her because of her intelligence and spark but her low self esteem issues could be annoying at times. She is a twin but she always allows her sister Cecily to overshadow her. She seems to believe it is her role to help her sister shine. Cecily on the other hand is a well-meaning but spoiled brat. Thankfully Marianne does learn to value herself more in the end.

The love interest, Philip, is one of those near-perfect Regency novel heroes like Mr. Darcy of Pride and Prejudice. Unlike Mr. Darcy however, Philip shows a good deal of warmth towards Marianne with the exception of their initial meeting. He encourages her to be herself instead of conforming to societal expectations. The relationship between Marianne and Philip develops believably even though a lot of it happens in just one week-it doesn't feel rushed at all. Their interactions were really sweet.

Even though this book has some flaws, I thought it was an enjoyable reading experience because of the romance. I would suggest Edenbrooke to fans of Julia Quinn and other Regency fiction or to those who just want a light, "feel good" story.

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Waiting on Wednesday (115)

"Waiting on" Wednesday is a weekly meme to discuss upcoming books we can't wait to get our hands on. Waiting on Wednesday is hosted by Jill at Breaking the Spine.   

This week, I'm waiting on:

The Shattered Mountain by Rae Carson
Release date: March 26, 2013

Description from Goodreads:

On the outskirts of Joya d'Arena, small villages fight for survival against the onslaught of sorcerers and raiders. Mara's village has been safe--so far--but Mara decides to escape anyway. Escape from her harsh, abusive father. Escape with her first love. But when their plans fall on the same day that the animagi burn the village to the ground, Mara faces losses that could destroy her. She's a survivor, though. She is going to make it through the mountains, and she is going to protect the refugees following her. Because there's a rumored safe haven . . . and some say they have found the Chosen One. Told from Mara's point-of-view, The Shattered Mountain is an alternate perspective of the beginning of the acclaimed The Girl of Fire and Thorns.

I love The Girl of Fire and Thorns series and I am looking forward to this e-novella to learn a little more about Mara.

And the Mountains Echoed by Khaled Hosseini
Release date: May 21, 2013


Khaled Hosseini, the #1 New York Times-bestselling author of The Kite Runner and A Thousand Splendid Suns, has written a new novel about how we love, how we take care of one another, and how the choices we make resonate through generations. In this tale revolving around not just parents and children but brothers and sisters, cousins and caretakers, Hosseini explores the many ways in which families nurture, wound, betray, honor, and sacrifice for one another; and how often we are surprised by the actions of those closest to us, at the times that matter most. Following its characters and the ramifications of their lives and choices and loves around the globe-from Kabul to Paris to San Francisco to the Greek island of Tinos-the story expands gradually outward, becoming more emotionally complex and powerful with each turning page.

I loved both of his other books and it has been a few years since A Thousand Splendid Suns so I can't wait till this book is published. I am sure it will be excellent and moving and "book club gold".

Sunday, January 20, 2013

It's Monday, What Are You Reading (134)

It's Monday, What Are You Reading is a fun weekly meme hosted by Sheila at Book Journey where we share what we've read and reviewed over the past week and what we plan to read next.

Books read:

I liked this prequel novella and was glad to receive an e-ARC of Mila 2.0 for review which I can't wait to start.

Summerset Abbey by T.J. Brown

I thought this book was pretty good in spite of its flaws. Though it is published for adults, I think it works well as a YA historical novel too.

Books reviewed:

Insurgent by Veronica Roth
Summerset Abbey by T.J. Brown

Currently reading:

Etiquette and Espionage by Gail Carriger

I am enjoying this book so far and hope to finish it soon. It even includes some familiar characters from the Parasol Protectorate series when they were young.

What I plan to read next:

A Prayer for Owen Meany by John Irving (reread)

This is a book discussion book that I need to reread before next Tuesday. It has been years since I first read it and I don't remember very much of it but I think I liked it...

Stacking the Shelves/In My Mailbox

This is my first Stacking the Shelves post and I haven't participated in IMM in months but I wanted to highlight some of the books I received for review because you can download and review them too if you sign up for an account with Edelweiss.

For review through Edelweiss:

Etiquette and Espionage by Gail Carriger

I'm a big fan of the Parasol Protectorate series so I was excited to have the opportunity to review this YA book set in the same world.

Golden by Jessi Kirby

I loved Moonglass and this book sounds like a great YA contemporary novel too. 

The Book of Broken Hearts by Sarah Ockler

I know we shouldn't judge books by their covers but I absolutely love this one! I also liked Ockler's Twenty Boy Summer a lot so I'm hopeful the story will be as great as the cover.

Wedding Night by Sophie Kinsella

I am super excited about this one. I am a big big fan of Sophie Kinsella and I plan to read this next month as soon as I can. Now she just needs to write another Becky Bloomwood book...

A Spear of Summer Grass by Deanna Raybourn

It may not be a Victorian mystery like her Julia Grey books but I am looking forward to starting A Spear of Summer Grass. I like that it is set in Kenya in the 1920s.

Mila 2.0 by Debra Driza

I am excited for this debut novel after reading the prequel novella. It is being compared to The Bourne Identity so I think it will be a lot of suspense...and fun.

Maid of Secrets by Jennifer McGowan

I like reading Tudor fiction and reading books with spies so this sounds like a win-win for me!

How My Summer Went Up in Flames by Jennifer Salvato Doktorski

I usually like road trip novels so I'm optimistic that I will enjoy this story. 

Thorn Abbey by Nancy Olin

This is a modern retelling of Rebecca by Daphne DuMaurier for teens. I am really intrigued...

A Moment Comes by Jennifer Bradbury

I've already read this YA historical novel set in India and I loved it! Very different from the other book I read by the author (Wrapped) which was equally good in its own way.

Chantress by Amy Butler Greenfield

This is a YA debut that I was really interested in because of the combination of history and magic.

Strands of Bronze and Gold by Jane Nickerson

This is a YA retelling of the Bluebeard fairy tale and I think it sounds really promising! The description on Edelweiss says it will appeal to fans of Jane Austen and Downton Abbey (that's me!) and it is set in the South before the Civil War.

Do you use Edelweiss? If you are a book blogger willing to read e-ARCs, you should definitely check it out! In addition to reviewing the e-ARCs they offer, I like to post reviews for other books they have listed in their catalogs so publishers get more feedback. I also like to see what other people thought of books I'm interested in purchasing for the library or reading for myself.

If you don't read e-books, I hope you will add some of these to your TBR list!

Stacking the Shelves is hosted by Tynga's Reviews and IMM is hosted by The Story Siren

Friday, January 18, 2013

Review: Summerset Abbey

Summerset Abbey
By T.J. Brown
Published: January 15, 2013

My review:

Prudence Tate is the daughter of a governess but she grew up as an equal to Rowena and Victoria Buxton. The girls are best friends and treat Prudence like a sister. Everything changes though when their father Sir Philip Buxton dies unexpectedly and Rowena and Victoria must go and live with their uncle, the Earl of Summerset. Unfortunately the only way Prudence can go is as their lady's maid. While it is an adjustment for Victoria and Rowena to live in a more structured and stuffy household, for Prudence it is nothing but misery as she is made to feel unwelcome.

The story is told from the point of view of Prudence, Rowena, and Victoria. Prudence is by far the more sympathetic character with her struggles to fit in and make sense of this very different role in life. Rowena was incredibly annoying and while I liked Victoria, she also got on my nerves occasionally. At least she showed personality and stood up for Prudence though she acted like a child about it sometimes.

The plot centers around a secret involving Prudence and her mother. Really it isn't that big of a surprise though if you've read this kind of book before and I could easily figure it out. I am kind of hoping there is more to the story that we will find out as the series continues. There are also love interests for the girls with Rowena falling for an unsuitable pilot and Prudence receiving attentions from both a handsome footman and a handsome aristocrat. I  was surprised by Prudence's decision but I approve of it and look forward to where that story line will go in the sequel.

While this book has some flaws, I still enjoyed the story and I think it is because of Prudence.  I wanted to see her triumph and hope she will yet rise above her circumstances. I also hope to see Victoria grow as a character. She showed some potential to be an interesting character. I am eager to read the sequel, Summerset Abbey: A Bloom in Winter which will be released later this year. Although this book is marketed to adults, I think it would work well as teen fiction because of the age of the characters and the style of the book. Readers who enjoyed Wentworth Hall, Anna Godbersen's Luxe series, or Cinders and Sapphires might want to give Summerset Abbey a try.

Note: I received an e-ARC for review courtesy of NetGalley

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Review: Insurgent

By Veronica Roth
Published: May 1, 2012

One choice can transform you--or it can destroy you. But every choice has consequences, and as unrest surges in the factions all around her, Tris Prior must continue trying to save those she loves--and herself--while grappling with haunting questions of grief and forgiveness, identity and loyalty, politics and love.

Tris's initiation day should have been marked by celebration and victory with her chosen faction; instead, the day ended with unspeakable horrors. War now looms as conflict between the factions and their ideologies grows. And in times of war, sides must be chosen, secrets will emerge, and choices will become even more irrevocable--and even more powerful. Transformed by her own decisions but also by haunting grief and guilt, radical new discoveries, and shifting relationships, Tris must fully embrace her Divergence, even if she does not know what she may lose by doing so.

My review:

Insurgent starts immediately after the events of Divergent with Tris, Four, and their friends dealing with the horrible aftermath. Things seem darker than ever and they don't know who they can trust. This is an action packed sequel that doesn't let up in intensity until the end.

Tris is struggling with PTSD to the point where she can't even handle a gun to defend herself or protect others. She is also keeping secrets from Four which causes difficulties in their relationship on top of everything else. I think her character really has a chance to grow in this book and she has become more introspective. 

While I enjoyed the action and the little bit of romance, I think the best part of this book was Tris's character development. I appreciated the time spent in exploring the effects of violence and its aftermath and overcoming fear. I liked learning about the other factions and their various strengths and weaknesses. I am also glad that we were able to find out about the factionless. I particularly liked the discussions on what it means to be a member of a particular faction and having your own identity instead of going along with the crowd. 

I thought this was an excellent sequel but it is definitely darker in tone which fits considering everything that happened in Divergent. There were some plot twists that I didn't see coming and some characters that showed unexpected depth. The ending wasn't exactly a cliffhanger but I do want to know what is going to happen next! 

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Waiting on Wednesday (114)

"Waiting on" Wednesday is a weekly meme to discuss upcoming books we can't wait to get our hands on. Waiting on Wednesday is hosted by Jill at Breaking the Spine.   

This week, I'm waiting on:

Mila 2.0 by Debra Driza
Release date: March 12, 2013

Description from Goodreads:

Mila 2.0 is the first book in an electrifying sci-fi thriller series about a teenage girl who discovers that she is an experiment in artificial intelligence.

Mila was never meant to learn the truth about her identity. She was a girl living with her mother in a small Minnesota town. She was supposed to forget her past —that she was built in a secret computer science lab and programmed to do things real people would never do.

Now she has no choice but to run—from the dangerous operatives who want her terminated because she knows too much and from a mysterious group that wants to capture her alive and unlock her advanced technology. However, what Mila’s becoming is beyond anyone’s imagination, including her own, and it just might save her life.

Mila 2.0 is Debra Driza’s bold debut and the first book in a Bourne Identity–style trilogy that combines heart-pounding action with a riveting exploration of what it really means to be human. Fans of I Am Number Four will love Mila for who she is and what she longs to be—and a cliffhanger ending will leave them breathlessly awaiting the sequel.

I read the prequel novella (available as a free e-book) Mila 2.0 Origins: The Fire and it was really riveting. I think this sounds like it could be a fantastic thriller.

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Bout of Books Wrap Up

Bout of Books Read-a-Thon

I had fun participating in Bout of Books again though I didn't spend as much time reading as I'd planned.

Goals completed:

Finished Touch of Power by Maria V. Snyder
Read The Queen's Army by Marissa Meyer
Read A Moment Comes by Jennifer Bradbury
Read Pushing the Limits by Katie McGarry
Read three chapters of The Christian World of the Hobbit by Devin Wilkerson
Read two chapters of Les Miserables by Victor Hugo

The read-a-thon helped me jump start my reading for 2013 so I feel a bit better about the pace I want to set. Now I just need to keep it up!

Sunday, January 13, 2013

It's Monday, What Are You Reading (133)

It's Monday, What Are You Reading is a fun weekly meme hosted by Sheila at Book Journey where we share what we've read and reviewed over the past week and what we plan to read next.

This past week was the Bout of Books Read-a-Thon so I tried to make more of an effort with my reading. Though I admit I still didn't spend as much time reading as I could have, I finally seem to have shaken off some of the reading slump. 

Tonight I will be watching Downton Abbey and keeping an eye on the Golden Globes online to see how my favorite movies and actors do (Congrats to Maggie Smith for winning Best Supporting Actress for Downton Abbey!). I am hoping that Les Miserables will do well as I know it won't have a chance at the Oscars (except for Anne Hathaway). So many of this year's nominated movies are based on books which makes me really happy. Do you watch the awards shows or Downton Abbey?

Books read:

Touch of Power by Maria V. Snyder (reread)

I thought this book was just as good the second time around. I had planned to read Scent of Magic immediately after but decided I needed a break and picked up other books instead.

The Queen's Army by Marissa Meyer

This is a little novella from the Lunar Chronicles series and features the story of a young Lunar teen who becomes a genetically modified member of the evil queen's army. I hope we will see him as a character in the regular series.

A Moment Comes by Jennifer Bradbury

I thought this was an excellent YA historical novel about Partition and the dividing of India and Pakistan in 1947. I love that the author tells the story through three different teens-a Muslim boy, a Sikh girl, and a British girl. If you like historical fiction put this on your TBR list!

Pushing the Limits by Katie McGarry

I was surprised by how much I liked this book. It had much more depth to it than I expected it would and I liked that it was about more than a romance. I will definitely be reading the next book.

Books reviewed:

Cinders and Sapphires by Leila Rasheed

Currently reading:

Les Miserables by Victor Hugo

I made some progress this week though it doesn't feel like it. Still reading about the Bishop of Digne. You'd think he was the main character rather than Jean Valjean...

Summerset Abbey by T.J. Brown

I just started this book today and I like it so far. I love reading books set during this time period though they just make me want to watch Downton Abbey!

What I might read next:

Scent of Magic by Maria V. Snyder

I am not sure if I will get to this book yet because I want a break from reading about the super creepy Tohon. Still I like this series so hopefully soon...

Etiquette and Espionage by Gail Carriger

I plan to pick up this book again soon since it will be published in early February. I read some positive reviews and look forward to reading about the spy school and Sophronia's adventures. 

A Prayer for Owen Meany by John Irving (reread)

I read this book as required reading years ago in college and this month it is the book for one of my book discussion groups. I am eager to rediscover it after all these years.

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Review: Cinders and Sapphires

Cinders and Sapphires
By Leila Rasheed
Published: January 22, 2013

My review:

Lady Ada Averley's life changes when she returns to England after living abroad in India. Her father, Lord Westlake, left India under a cloud of scandal and he is about to marry for the second time. Lady Ada has ambitions to attend Oxford, a dream that she shares with Ravi, the handsome young Indian man she meets aboard ship. She knows however that this is a dream unlikely to come true just like her secret romance with Ravi. Her new stepfamily also has its secrets and so do the servants at Somerton. 

Cinders and Sapphires capitalizes on the Downton Abbey craze but unlike other similar books, it tackles some serious issues along side the "scandal". Racism, Imperialism, women's rights, homosexuality, and social class are just a few of the themes that are explored. While these are serious topics, the book also manages to hold onto a lighter tone so it is never preachy or overbearing.

The main characters are Lady Ada and her maid Rose though we also get to read from the perspective of the valet Oliver and Lady Ada's new stepbrother Sebastian. There are many other side characters, perhaps too many. It might have worked better to save some of the story lines for the next book such as Sebastian's troubles. I think it would have allowed us to get to know the characters better without so many different stories to juggle.

Something that I really appreciated was the inclusion of an Indian as a main character. While we don't really get to read from Ravi's perspective (hopefully that will happen in the sequel) it was good to see an Indian character and to hear his thoughts on the politics of the day and how his perspective differed from Ada who thought she knew the real India. It would have been nice if this was covered in more detail but this type of book usually just touches the surface of historical topics, focusing on the scandals and romance instead.

The romance between Ada and Ravi didn't completely work for me. She fell in love with him pretty much instantly when she met him on the ship. Of course part of the appeal was that he was going to Oxford and she had dreams to go there too. He also didn't talk to her in the same way that young men of her acquaintance normally did. I just wish that the relationship was given more time to develop at a natural pace. I still liked both characters and look forward to seeing what the future holds for them as the series progresses.

Overall even with the flaws, I found this novel entertaining and even learned a little from reading it. It is somewhat similar to the Luxe series though it lacks the emotional pull. I think Cinders and Sapphires would appeal to readers who prefer their historical fiction on the lighter side and to those who just can't get enough of Downton Abbey

Note: I received an e-ARC for review courtesy of NetGalley

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Top Ten Bookish Goals for 2013

Top Ten Tuesday is an original feature/weekly meme created at The Broke and the Bookish. There is a new subject each week and this week's topic is "Top Ten Bookish Goals for 2013"

Kitty (my cat niece) is peeved that I've neglected so many of my Kindle books

1. Read more books from my TBR pile, especially on my Kindle (100s I haven't read!)
2. Finish reading Les Miserables by Victor Hugo
3. Reread The Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. Tolkien
4. Start reading A Clash of Kings by George R.R. Martin
5. Finish the reading challenges I sign up for
6. Get caught up on series like the Across the Universe series by Beth Revis
7. Read more nonfiction
8. Read books for fun and not just for review
9. Be okay with rereading
10. Read at least 100 books (I am secretly hoping to read 130 or more but will be happy with 100)