Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Review: At the Water's Edge

At the Water's Edge
By Sara Gruen
Published: March 31, 2015

In this thrilling new novel from the author of Water for Elephants, Sara Gruen again demonstrates her talent for creating spellbinding period pieces. At the Water’s Edge is a gripping and poignant love story about a privileged young woman’s awakening as she experiences the devastation of World War II in a tiny village in the Scottish Highlands.

After disgracing themselves at a high society New Year’s Eve party in Philadelphia in 1944, Madeline Hyde and her husband, Ellis, are cut off financially by his father, a former army colonel who is already ashamed of his son’s inability to serve in the war. When Ellis and his best friend Hank decide that the only way to regain the Colonel’s favor is to succeed where the Colonel very publicly failed—by hunting down the famous Loch Ness monster—Maddie reluctantly follows them across the Atlantic, leaving her sheltered world behind. 
The trio find themselves in a remote village in the Scottish Highlands, where the locals have nothing but contempt for the privileged interlopers. As the men go out looking for the monster, Maddie is left on her own at the isolated inn, where food is rationed, fuel is scarce, and a knock from the postman can bring tragic news. Yet Maddie finds herself falling in love with the stark beauty and subtle magic of the Scottish countryside. Gradually she comes to know the villagers, and the friendships she forms with two young women open her up to a larger world than she knew existed. She begins to see that nothing is as it first appears: the values she holds dear prove unsustainable, and monsters lurk where they are least expected.
As she embraces a fuller sense of who she might be, Maddie becomes aware not only of the dark forces around her, but to the beauty and surprising possibilities of life.

My review:

WWII may be raging overseas but the members of Philadelphia society carry on with their lavish lifestyle. Maddie and her husband Ellis (along with best friend Hank) go from one boozy party to another but Maddie is quickly tiring of it. Ellis is colorblind which exempts him from service, something his father the Colonel is deeply ashamed of. Things come to a head on New Year's Eve when Ellis gets roaring drunk and publicly humiliates his father by bringing up the whole Loch Ness monster debacle. In retaliation, Ellis is cut off financially so he decides he has to go and find the Loch Ness monster himself to repair things. Maddie reluctantly agrees to go along after Hank convinces her that it will help Ellis overcome his shame since he can't fight. Once in Scotland Maddie is awakened to how bad things really are in war time with rationing and hardship on the homefront. She also realizes the truth about herself and those she cares about.

I really felt sorry for Maddie. At first she comes across as extremely naive but as her background is revealed it helps the reader to realize why she behaves the way she does. She is the product of an unloving marriage between two people who should never have had children. Meeting Ellis after her difficult childhood was like an unexpected gift although his family does not approve of her. She becomes this weak person under the overbearing presence of the Colonel and his wife. The journey to Scotland is what really helps Maddie to gain strength to stand up for herself. While the villagers are hostile when they find out her connection to the Colonel, people begin to treat her with more kindness as they see what she is really like. I loved the friendships that Maddie formed with the women in the village, especially Meg. They sort of take her under their wing and help her to blossom away from the influence of Ellis and his family. 

Ellis was mostly just an unlikable character. He is whiny and selfish and a spoiled brat. It is hard to see why Maddie fell for him in the first place but I think she was just looking for a safe harbor and found it with Ellis and his friends. Ellis initially just seems like a weak guy but then the book reveals his secrets and you start to see his dark side though it takes Maddie some time to realize it.  He is not as overtly vile and villainous as August from Water for Elephants but I would have liked to see some more dimension to Ellis's character. 

While the book is not as intricately detailed as Water for Elephants, I enjoyed the setting and I love reading about this time period. I did question that Maddie and Ellis's family didn't seem to be affected by rationing though it was 1945.  It was all so new to her when she arrived in Scotland. That little detail niggled at me while I was reading but I thought perhaps she wasn't affected by rationing in the U.S. due to Ellis's family's wealth.

I liked Maddie as a protagonist and I really liked the charming secondary characters like Meg and Angus, especially. I also liked the whole Loch Ness angle and the possibility that the creature does exist. There is just a touch of the magical with the story. Overall I thought this was an entertaining novel that offered romance, mystery, and an interesting setting and I flew through the pages. 

Note: I received an ARC for review purposes courtesy of the publisher and Edelweiss

Thursday, March 26, 2015

Review: Vanishing Girls

Vanishing Girls
By Lauren Oliver
Release date: March 10, 2015

New York Times bestselling author Lauren Oliver delivers a gripping story about two sisters inexorably altered by a terrible accident.

Dara and Nick used to be inseparable, but that was before the accident that left Dara's beautiful face scarred and the two sisters totally estranged. When Dara vanishes on her birthday, Nick thinks Dara is just playing around. But another girl, nine-year-old Madeline Snow, has vanished, too, and Nick becomes increasingly convinced that the two disappearances are linked. Now Nick has to find her sister, before it's too late.

In this edgy and compelling novel, Lauren Oliver creates a world of intrigue, loss, and suspicion as two sisters search to find themselves, and each other.

My review:

Vanishing Girls looks at the relationships in one broken family. Nick is worried about her sister Dara who is becoming increasingly wild since their father moved out.  The close bond she shared with Dara began to fray as Dara became more beautiful and popular and started dating Parker, Nick's best friend. Nick also has feelings for Parker that she feels guilty about. After the accident, things only get worse. Dara can't stand Nick and no matter how much Nick tries to reach out, it doesn't work. Then Dara disappears and Nick wonders if maybe something bad happened to her.

The story goes back and forth in the past as well as the present "after the accident". When I started reading this book, I had a hard time liking Dara. She was a party girl and seemed to be kind of spoiled and petulant. The sisters are very different which lead to some complications in their relationship with each other. Nick came across as more caring but also kind of bossy in a big sister way before the accident. After the accident, Nick struggles a lot with guilt. She takes a job under duress at a local theme park where she reluctantly reconnects with Parker and makes some new friends. There she seems to bloom a little until her sister disappears. Then she starts trying to figure out what happened to Madeline Snow.

This is not a suspense novel though the missing Madeline Snow adds a little bit of intrigue to the plot. It is more about mending damaged relationships and forgiveness. There is also a shocking twist that I did not see coming. Maybe I just wasn't reading carefully enough but the author took me by surprise. It made me rethink how I felt about the book.

Overall I liked Vanishing Girls. The writing reminded me a little of Before I Fall, Lauren Oliver's debut novel which I loved after the disappointment of the Delirium trilogy. I liked that the book focused so much on sisters and less on romance though there is some there. I think readers who like darker contemporary novels will enjoy this the most though some may find the twist to be a gimmick. 

Note: I received an ARC for review purposes courtesy of the publisher and Edelweiss

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Waiting on Wednesday (149)

"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:

After You by Jojo Moyes
Release date: September 29, 2015

There isn't an official description of the book yet but it is a sequel to Me Before You, which I loved. 

Sophomore Year is Greek to Me by Meredith Zeitlin
Release date: April 21, 2015

A laugh-out-loud high school adventure set in Greece, perfect for fans of Meg Cabot 
High school sophomore Zona Lowell has lived in New York City her whole life, and plans to follow in the footsteps of her renowned-journalist father. But when he announces they’re moving to Athens for six months so he can work on an important new story, she's devastated— he must have an ulterior motive. See, when Zona's mother married an American, her huge Greek family cut off contact. But Zona never knew her mom, and now she’s supposed to uproot her entire life and meet possibly hostile relatives on their turf? Thanks... but no thanks. 
In the vein of Anna and the French Kiss, Zona navigates a series of hilarious escapades, eye-opening revelations, and unexpected reunions in a foreign country—all while documenting the trip through one-of-a-kind commentary.

I think this sounds like such a fun story. I like the setting and I think it would be a great book to pick up when I want something light and humorous. Plus I enjoy travel fiction :)

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Top Ten Books From My Childhood/Teen Years I'd Love to Revisit

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 Books From My Childhood/Teen Years I'd Love to Revisit.

Anne of Green Gables by L.M. Montgomery

I first read this book as a teenager. I admit that I picked it up after seeing the film version of Anne of Green Gables and Anne of Green Gables: The Sequel and swooning over Gilbert Blythe :) I also thought it was hilariously funny so I'd love the chance to revisit Avonlea.

Christy by Catherine Marshall

This is another gem that I picked up because of the TV series. When Christy was televised in the 90s, the book was reissued and I found it at my local Christian bookstore. I loved Christy (though I was disappointed about who she picked to marry) and I also loved Catherine Marshall's other novel, Julie. I even did a report on the author in English class. I was planning to be an English teacher at the time so of course Christy resonated with me even more.

The Other Side of Dark by Joan Lowery Nixon

This suspense novel really appealed to me as a young teen. I found it in the middle school library and I liked that it involved high schoolers and even had a touch of romance. I admit that I reread the book many times even though I knew who the killer was.

The Diary of a Young Girl by Anne Frank

I remember finding this at a school book fair and wanting to read it. I think I'd appreciate it much more now then I did when I was a kid.

To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee

I read this for a class but I'd like to revisit it now that I'm older and because Go Set a Watchman is being published this summer.

The Witch of Blackbird Pond by Elizabeth George Speare

This book and Johnny Tremain are the novels I credit with helping me to realize how much I love historical fiction. This time period and the witch hunts were fascinating to me so even though it was assigned reading, it didn't feel like a chore.

Number the Stars by Lois Lowry

I loved this book but I think my younger sister read it first. Usually I read books and passed them on to her!

Little House on the Prairie by Laura Ingalls Wilder

I loved the TV show and the novel though I haven't read all of the books in the series. I remember my teacher had a really cool display with Little House dolls in our classroom in elementary school.

A Home for Jessie by Christine Pullein-Thompson

This was one of my sister's books but I read it and loved it too. We both wanted a dog so desperately and I think reading about dogs was our way of educating ourselves and proving to our parents that we could take care of one!  

The Egypt Game by Zilpha Keatley Snyder

This was a classroom assignment and I was fascinated by the inclusion of Egyptian myth into the story. I had read Joan Lowery Nixon's The House on Hackman's Hill so I was really into Egyptian mythology already.

The Little Gymnast by Sheila Haigh

I read this book so many times that I can still remember things so vividly like Anda's birthday at her Gran's house when she first saw a gymnast on TV and decided she wanted to be one too. I secretly wanted to be a gymnast so it is no surprise that I loved this book so much :)

Ramona the Pest by Beverly Cleary

I loved stories of Ramona and I even got a cool nickname from it for my sister (Reneta the Pest) which she didn't really appreciate as much. I actually did reread this last year when my mom was sick. My sister and I took turns reading it to her in the hospital. We also read Charlotte's Web (my mom's favorite) and Amelia Bedelia. 

Sunday, March 22, 2015

It's Monday, What Are You Reading (208)

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.

I'm glad that spring is finally here...well, it sort of is anyway. It is officially spring though we did have some snow on Friday. Thankfully it didn't stick around and hopefully it will warm up again soon. I look forward to packing away my sweaters and my winter coat!

I feel like I haven't been reading as much lately. My reading pace is starting to slow down. Of course I've also been watching more TV now that some of my shows are back from hiatus. Last week's episode of The Flash was pretty big so I'm looking forward to seeing where things go this week. I also watched Arrow and Once Upon a Time and Jane the Virgin which is now on hiatus for a few weeks. Plus I finally got some TV series on hold at the library, namely Outlander and Game of Thrones Season Four. I've watched the first two episodes of Game of Thrones and the "Purple Wedding" lived up to expectations. It looks like Season 5 will be pretty interesting and possibly deviate from the book.

I don't want you to think I've been a couch potato though. :) I did finally work out again earlier this week after more than a month of not exercising. I hope to continue that trend especially now that warmer weather is around the corner. 

Books reviewed:

The Storyspinner by Becky Wallace
The Winner's Crime by Marie Rutkoski

Books read:

Maid of Deception by Jennifer McGowan

I liked this sequel to Maid of Secrets. Beatrice wasn't my favorite character in the first book (she was pretty mean to Meg) but I really felt bad for her in this one and seeing things from her perspective made me like her more.

A Heart Revealed by Josi S. Kilpack

I really liked this story. It is an unlikely kind of romance where you start out not liking the heroine (she really is pretty vain and mean) but then her character changes due to her difficult circumstances (hair loss, her family and society shun her, she lives in poor conditions) so you start to like her more and more. The love story comes later on too as the heroine has a lot of growing to do (and so does the hero).

Scarlett Undercover by Jennifer Latham

I thought this was an entertaining mystery. Scarlett is headstrong, smart, cocky, and fun as a teen detective. She does get herself in danger sometimes but she is very capable. The Goodreads description suggests this for fans of Veronica Mars and although I've only seen a few episodes of the show I can see the similar personalities.

Currently reading:

An Ember in the Ashes by Sabaa Tahir

I was struggling with this one after initially being drawn in to the story but now it is starting to get good again. I like the parts that are in Elias's perspective much more than Laia's. I will say it is a very violent and dark book. 

What I plan to read next:

I've sort of already started reading this on my Kindle but I need to finish An Ember in the Ashes soon since my review is due this week. This is our March selection in my afternoon book group so I need to read it by the end of the month. I like the story so far. I find it fascinating to learn about Robert Louis Stevenson. 

Thursday, March 19, 2015

Review: The Winner's Crime

The Winner's Crime
By Marie Rutkoski
Published: March 3, 2015

Note: I did my best to write this review in a "nonspoilery" way for readers who haven't read The Winner's Curse though there are some minor spoilers (where the characters are geographically at the start of the book for example). 

My review:

The Winner's Crime is a sequel to The Winner's Curse, one of my favorite debuts from last year. I thought it was just as good as the first book though the romance necessarily takes a backseat to other matters.

At the end of the first book, Kestrel made a deal to keep Arin safe and stop the Valorian army from destroying his people and the land. Now she is living at the palace, trapped as a pawn of the Valorian Emperor and playing a very dangerous game to survive. Arin meanwhile is in Herran but he can't keep his mind off of Kestrel. When their paths cross, Kestrel has to convince the emperor and his court that there is nothing between her and Arin, something that Arin's presence makes very difficult. The Herrani minister also asks her to spy for him which increases the stakes. One one hand she has to show that she supports her people and on the other she is desperate to save the Herrani.

I thought The Winner's Crime really built on The Winner's Curse. There is a greater focus on what is going on in the outside world. At the same time the court is filled with political machinations and Kestrel is always acting to keep herself alive. She has enemies and doesn't know who she can trust within the palace. Even her own maids are spying on her. I think that heightens the feeling of tension and suspense in the novel.

Arin is at times frustrating. He is easily swayed and at one point really believes the worst of Kestrel. He nearly ruins her plans a number of times. If only she had been honest with him! Of course all the secrets make the plot more interesting! Arin is also looking into forming some allies against Valoria so some intriguing new characters are introduced.

There is quite a bit of violence in this book. Kestrel witnesses some torture and there of course are killings but some of that happens off screen. The emperor reminded me of President Snow from The Hunger Games. He is very ruthless and cunning. He seems to know far more than he should. Of course Kestrel's father (who reminds me of Tywin Lannister) is similarly ruthless but he does seem to love his daughter or at least he is proud of her new position at the court. 

I felt really bad for Kestrel through most of the book. She continued to seek her father's love and she tried to mend fences with her best friend Jess. She is very isolated at the palace and even her music room doesn't bring her much joy. While some honesty would have made things easier between her and Arin, she was trying to protect the people she cared about even while making some dangerous decisions. 

The Winner's Crime ends with a shocking cliffhanger and I can't wait to find out what happens next. I thought it was a fantastic book and it definitely lived up to my expectations. I'd suggest this series to readers who enjoyed historical fantasy  with political scheming, secrets and romance like Falling Kingdoms by Morgan Rhodes and The Girl of Fire and Thorns by Rae Carson. If you like books with intelligent heroines, political intrigue and secrets, consider giving this series a try!

Note: I received an ARC for review purposes courtesy of the publisher and Edelweiss

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Waiting on Wednesday (148)

"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:

Finding Audrey by Sophie Kinsella
Release date: June 9, 2015

From the #1 New York Times bestselling author of the Shopaholic series comes a terrific blend of comedy, romance, and psychological recovery in a contemporary YA novel sure to inspire and entertain.
An anxiety disorder disrupts fourteen-year-old Audrey’s daily life. She has been making slow but steady progress with Dr. Sarah, but when Audrey meets Linus, her brother’s gaming teammate, she is energized. She connects with him. Audrey can talk through her fears with Linus in a way she’s never been able to do with anyone before. As their friendship deepens and her recovery gains momentum, a sweet romantic connection develops, one that helps not just Audrey but also her entire family.

I've been reading Sophie Kinsella's humorous books for adults for years now and I've enjoyed most of them so I am hopeful about her YA debut though it doesn't sound like the other books she has written. Then again, her usual formula wouldn't work as well for a teen protagonist! I also like that Linus sounds a little nerdy and that the book tackles the subject of anxiety disorders for teens.

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Top Ten Books on My Spring TBR List

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 Books on My Spring TBR List.

A Court of Thorns and Roses by Sarah J. Maas

I love fairy tale retellings so I am looking forward to this version of Beauty and the Beast. I've heard that this is classified as "New Adult" as opposed to YA fiction so I hope that I'll be able to decide if I should put it in the library's teen fiction collection or with our fiction for adults.

Inside the O'Briens by Lisa Genova

I recently read and loved Still Alice and this story sounds like it deals with some similar questions involving a hereditary disease (Huntington's Disease in this case).

The Wrath and the Dawn by Renee Ahdieh

This is a YA debut that I am particularly excited about since it is a retelling of A Thousand and One Nights.

Written in the Stars by Aisha Saeed

This debut is the story of a young Pakistani American teen who falls in love and is then taken to Pakistan where her parents plan to force her into an arranged marriage.

The Royal We by Heather Cocks and Jessica Morgan

I want to read this romantic comedy because it is loosely based on the romance of Prince William and Kate Middleton (if you couldn't guess by the cover).

P.S., I Still Love You by Jenny Han

I really liked To All the Boys I've Loved Before so I am eager to read this sequel and hope it won't disappoint!

Things We Know By Heart by Jessi Kirby

I am a fan of Jessi Kirby's books and this one sounds like it will be an emotional story. A young teen is grieving the death of her boyfriend and trying to get in touch with the boy who received his heart.

The Summer of Chasing Mermaids by Sarah Ockler

This is a contemporary romance with a "Little Mermaid" vibe to it. I like that the protagonist is from Trinidad too.

Letters to the Lost by Iona Grey

I love historical fiction set in WWII. In this novel, a young woman in modern times escapes a dangerous relationship and ends up in an abandoned house where she receives a letter written between an American bomber pilot and a British woman in 1942. She becomes determined to find out what happened to them.

Beach Town by Mary Kay Andrews

I love Mary Kay Andrews! Her books always remind me of summer. While I probably won't be near a beach this summer, I think this will be a fun book to welcome my favorite season :)

Thursday, March 12, 2015

Review: The Storyspinner

The Storyspinner
By Becky Wallace
Published: March 3, 2015

Drama and danger abound in this fantasy realm where dukes play a game for the throne, magical warriors race to find the missing heir, and romance blossoms where it is least expected.

In a world where dukes plot their way to the throne, a Performer’s life can get tricky. And in Johanna Von Arlo’s case, it can be fatal. Expelled from her troupe after her father’s death, Johanna is forced to work for the handsome Lord Rafael DeSilva. Too bad they don’t get along. But while Johanna’s father’s death was deemed an accident, the Keepers aren’t so sure.

The Keepers, a race of people with magical abilities, are on a quest to find the princess—the same princess who is supposed to be dead and whose throne the dukes are fighting over. But they aren’t the only ones looking for her. And in the wake of their search, murdered girls keep turning up—girls who look exactly like the princess, and exactly like Johanna.

With dukes, Keepers, and a killer all after the princess, Johanna finds herself caught up in political machinations for the throne, threats on her life, and an unexpected romance that could change everything.

My review:

Johanna Von Arlo has grown up believing that she is just a storyspinner and the daughter of a talented tightrope walker and singer. She has no idea what secrets her father kept or why anyone would want her dead. After tragedy strikes and her family is thrown out of their troupe, Johanna is offered the job of a lifetime to perform at the home of a duke, Lord Rafael DeSilva.  Unfortunately this only puts her in greater danger. There are those who believe that the lost princess is alive and that it might be her.

Jacaré is a Keeper and High Captain of the Guard. He strikes out on an unauthorized mission with his sister and friends to find the lost princess and bring her back to Donovan's Wall, which needs the princess's power to maintain the barrier between worlds. It is a race against time as the princess's enemies are also trying to track her down and killing those that look like her. 

Sometimes a book doesn't live up to its description or to the expectations the reader has when they pick it up. Thankfully that is not the case in The Storyspinner where the story more than exceeds my expectations and the cover copy doesn't quite do it justice.

When I read a fantasy novel, I am looking for particular things: a setting that captures my attention, excellent world building, characters I care about, intrigue, a little romance and magic. The Storyspinner delivered on all of these elements.

The Storyspinner has great world building with the seemingly ordinary Medieval-like setting combined with the magical details from the Keepers and their world of Olinda though we only see it briefly. There is a lot of political intrigue with the rivalries between the dukes and the secrets surrounding the death of the King and supposed death of the princess. 

The book is told through multiple viewpoints from the perspective of Johanna, Rafael, Jacaré, his sister Pira and Leão, a young Keeper. In a way this helps to both move the action of the story and to help readers get to know the cast of characters better though five is a lot of view points. I would have liked it more if it was written through just the eyes of Johanna, Rafael and Jacaré. 

Johanna and Rafael are both strong but flawed protagonists. Johanna in particular is stubborn and she initially refuses to believe she is in any danger despite Rafael's warnings. Rafael has had to adapt to becoming a duke after the death of his father and he feels like he isn't worthy to fill those shoes yet. Both characters have burdens thrust on them. Johanna has to look after her younger siblings and help provide for her family since her mother is inebriated most of the time.  I liked how both characters grew during the book. Their relationship gets off to a rocky start but it gradually develops into respect and then romantic interest though there are lots of stumbling blocks.

The secondary characters, the Keepers, are very interesting. They have magical abilities and in Santarem, the nonmagical world where Johanna and Rafael live, they are revered as gods who once walked the earth many years ago. The people of Santarem would get quite a shock if they found out that the Keepers were still around north of the Wall.  The dynamics between Jacaré, Pira, and Leão reminded me of the relationships between the Arrow, his sister Thea and Roy from the TV show Arrow for some reason. I had thought that I would be impatient to get back to the parts of the story about Johanna and Rafael but I really liked the Keepers and wanted to find out more about them and their secrets. There are also some really creepy villains with a secret agenda that I think we've only seen a little of in this book. 

Overall I thought this was a fantastic debut. I like the way it has a historical feel and it reminded me favorably of books like The Girl of Fire and Thorns, Falling Kingdoms, The Kiss of Deception and  Grave Mercy. It is one of my favorites of the year so far. If you like YA fantasy with a historical feel, intrigue and some romance, give The Storyspinner a try. I am looking forward to finding out what happens next!

Note: I received an ARC for review purposes courtesy of the publisher and Edelweiss

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Waiting on Wednesday (147)

"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:

Walk on Earth a Stranger by Rae Carson
Release date: September 22, 2015

Gold is in my blood, in my breath, even in the flecks in my eyes.
Lee Westfall has a strong, loving family. She has a home she loves and a loyal steed. She has a best friend—who might want to be something more.
She also has a secret.
Lee can sense gold in the world around her. Veins deep in the earth. Small nuggets in a stream. Even gold dust caught underneath a fingernail. She has kept her family safe and able to buy provisions, even through the harshest winters. But what would someone do to control a girl with that kind of power? A person might murder for it.
When everything Lee holds dear is ripped away, she flees west to California—where gold has just been discovered. Perhaps this will be the one place a magical girl can be herself. If she survives the journey.
The acclaimed Rae Carson begins a sweeping new trilogy set in Gold Rush–era America, about a young woman with a powerful and dangerous gift.
I loved The Girl of Fire and Thorns and I love the idea of mixing historical fiction and fantasy too. I can't wait to read this!

Sunday, March 8, 2015

It's Monday, What Are You Reading (207)

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.

Well it looks like winter is finally coming to an end :) Or maybe I'm being optimistic. With the time change and weather heading into the 50s this week, I hope spring is here to stay.

I've been busy this week at work getting ready for the edible book festival. I put together a couple of edible books for a display and I've also been working on a brochure and entry form. The event is barely a month away! I really hope it will be a success. 

On the health front I've noticed a marked lack of energy. I had planned to work out this weekend but I just couldn't bring myself to do it. I had been eating carefully to heal the GERD symptoms but I gave in to temptation and got some white chocolate carrot cake flavored M&Ms and some carob covered almonds. Bad me! I am giving the M&M's away at work so I won't eat the whole bag. The carob almonds are a maybe healthier choice. I was trying to cut back on sweets and I did really well for awhile but failed after seeing all that Easter candy at the store! In my defense I had to venture down the candy aisle to buy Peeps for my edible book display. The M&M's just leapt into my cart. Sneaky candy! ;) 

I found this idea from another library's edible book festival. Aren't the expecting Peep parents cute? You can't see it in the picture but they are sitting on Cadbury Mini Eggs :)

I also discovered that I like hot carob. It isn't the same as hot cocoa but it is tasty when I add cinnamon to it and I don't get reflux from drinking it. Just 1 cup nondairy milk, 1 Tbsp. carob powder, 1 Tbsp. honey and a couple sprinkles of cinnamon. Yum! I had some this afternoon while I read. It was a pleasant way to spend the day.

Books reviewed:

The Same Sky by Amanda Eyre Ward
First Frost by Sarah Addison Allen

Books read:

The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry by Gabrielle Zevin (reread)

I really enjoyed rereading this book. It was just as good the second time around. So many good bookish quotes and references too. My book group members liked the book also.

The Bridal Chair by Gloria Goldreich

I'm glad I was able to finish this on time and write the review. Marc Chagall was quite a character. He's portrayed here as a pretty selfish and immature artistic genius and not very good father. A complicated family relationship between Ida and her famous parents. 

The Nightingale by Kristin Hannah

This was a wonderful and sad book. It definitely lived up to the hype and I hope Kristin Hannah writes more historical fiction. I really cared about the characters and it was suspenseful waiting to see what would happen to them in the end. You may need tissues when you read so be prepared!

The Winner's Crime by Marie Rutkoski

I thought this was a fantastic sequel. It built on the first book and Kestrel had some difficult choices to make now that she is in the palace under the thumb of the emperor. The emperor is kind of like President Snow from The Hunger Games and Kestrel's dad is like Tywin Lannister from the Game of Thrones books. I felt sorry for her because she is so isolated and not knowing who is trustworthy. 

Currently reading:

Maid of Deception by Jennifer McGowan

After reading those darker books, I was in the mood for something a little lighter. Maid of Deception has some mystery/suspense but it has more romance and some humor too. I liked the first book in the series and I am enjoying this as well. I really like the Scottish hero and while Beatrice came across as a snob in book one, she is more sympathetic in this book where she is the main character. 

What I might read next:

A Heart Revealed by Josi Kilpack

I liked the other two books from the "Proper Romance" line (Edenbrooke and Blackmoore) but I wanted to read this one because it deals with something that is personal to me. The main character is at the top in Regency society but her fortunes change when she develops  a medical condition now called alopecia areata (a kind of hair loss that I also have). I am eager to see how the author portrays it and I know the book has received starred reviews from Kirkus and Publishers Weekly

Leaving Time by Jodi Picoult

I have been waiting to read this for a long time and it finally came in on hold at the library. I hope to read it soon.

An Ember in the Ashes by Sabaa Tahir

I got a copy of this for review from the Amazon Vine program. I've heard really good things about it and hopefully it won't disappoint.