Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Waiting on Wednesday (111)

"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 Lucy Variations by Sara Zarr
Release date: May 7, 2013

Description from Goodreads:

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

That was all before she turned fourteen.

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

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

I became a fan of Sara Zarr after reading How to Save a Life earlier this year. I think this book sounds fantastic. I love that it is about a teen who plays the piano because that was a big part of my life when I was a teen and it is great to see more YA books featuring the arts. 

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Top Ten Most Anticipated Books 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 Most Anticipated Books for 2013". 


The Bitter Kingdom by Rae Carson

This is one of my favorite YA series. The Girl of Fire and Thorns was an amazing fantasy debut in 2011 and I loved The Crown of Embers too. I'm excited about reading The Bitter Kingdom even though it will be the last book in the series.


The Indigo Spell by Richelle Mead

I am glad that I only have a few months to wait till I can get my hands on The Indigo Spell. I love this Vampire Academy spin-off series. 

The House of Hades by Rick Riordan

After the cliffhanger ending of The Mark of Athena, I am eager to get my hands on this sequel. I love Rick Riordan's YA books. They are always entertaining, suspenseful, and funny.

Requiem by Lauren Oliver

I have to admit that I was a little disappointed with Pandemonium but I do want to know how this series will wrap up. 

Gallagher Girls Book 6 by Ally Carter

It doesn't even have a title yet but I love the Gallagher Girls series and I'm sure this (final?) book will be fantastic. 


Perfect Scoundrels by Ally Carter

While I don't enjoy it as much as the Gallagher Girls books, the Heist Society series is still a lot of fun (and they get to travel more!). 

Etiquette and Espionage by Gail Carriger

This is a new YA series that will be set in the same world as the Parasol Protectorate (but earlier in time). I am eager to see how Carriger will write YA books. 

Divergent #3 by Veronica Roth

It doesn't have a title or cover image yet but I am sure this will be an amazing book. I have to admit that I haven't read Insurgent yet but I plan to fix that before the end of the year!

Wedding Night by Sophie Kinsella

While I hated Twenties Girl, I enjoyed every other Sophie Kinsella book I've read, especially the Shopaholic series. I think this book definitely has potential and I'm sure it will have some laugh out loud moments at least.

Dead Ever After by Charlaine Harris

I am glad this series is finally ending. I used to be a fan but now I'm just tired of the books. I just want to know how it wraps up! 

Sunday, November 25, 2012

It's Monday, What Are You Reading (127)

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 had a great Thanksgiving and enjoyed spending time with my parents especially. It is always fun for my mom and I to work together on the Thanksgiving meal though it is funny how we put so much time and effort into preparing the meal and then it seems to be devoured in a matter of seconds :)

I only had time to finish one book but this week I will have to redouble my efforts with my book group meeting coming up on Tuesday. I still have to finish the book for the evening discussion group but at least I finished the book for the afternoon group already (Zeitoun).

Books read:

The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien (reread)

I am glad that I decided to reread this book. I think I judged it unfairly the first time I read it since I'd just finished The Lord of the Rings. This book is not as good as The Lord of the Rings but I liked it anyway and definitely gained a greater appreciation for it the second time around. 

Currently reading:

Matched by Ally Condie (reread)

I loved Matched when I first read it and I am enjoying this rereading. I liked the world building and learning about the Society. 

Keeping Faith by Jodi Picoult

Sometimes we have to read books we don't want to read. Just like being forced to eat vegetables when we were kids. This is one of those books for me. I thought I'd love it (I'm glad it was a Kindle deal when I bought it) but I find the characters to be really annoying. Oh well. Hopefully we will have a spirited book discussion about it on Tuesday. Sometimes it is more fun to talk about why we hated a book or why it didn't work for us than it is to talk about a book that was universally loved.

What I plan to read next:

Crossed by Ally Condie (reread)

I liked Crossed but didn't think it was as good as Matched. Maybe I will feel differently when I reread it. 

Reached by Ally Condie

I can't wait to see how this series ends. I have high hopes based on the positive reviews I've read. 

The Fire Chronicle by John Stephens

I know that unless I have my own little readathon I won't get to this book yet but it is coming up on my reading list soon. The first book was a fun MG fantasy novel that I wasn't expecting to like as much as I did. 

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Happy Thanksgiving!

I wish you and your family a very happy Thanksgiving! 

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Waiting on Wednesday (110)

"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 Firebird by Susanna Kearsley
Release date: June 4, 2013

Description from Goodreads:

Nicola Marter was born with a gift: when she touches an object, she sometimes glimpses those who have owned it before. When the gallery she works in receives a wooden carving she can see the object’s history and knows that it was named after the Firebird, the mythical bird that inspires an old Russian fairytale and was once owned by Russia’s famed Empress Catherine. 

Nicola’s investigation into the Firebird’s origin draws her into the 1715 world of Anna Logan and leads her on a quest through Scotland, France and Russia, unearthing a tale of love and sacrifice, of courage and redemption.

I loved The Winter Sea and really enjoyed Susanna Kearsley's other books that I've read so I am excited about this one. It will be interesting to read about Russia as well as Scotland (where a lot of her books are set) and France. 

Sunday, November 18, 2012

It's Monday, What Are You Reading (126)

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 can't believe it is already the week of Thanksgiving! This year is just flying by. Today I went to see the final Twilight movie, Breaking Dawn Part 2 and I was taken by surprise with the twist (which I will not spoil for anyone who hasn't seen it!). I did get to see the trailer for The Hobbit which looked fantastic on the big screen. There was also an ad for the Catching Fire movie but sadly no teaser trailer or images yet. 

Books read:

Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets by J.K. Rowling (reread)

I always enjoy rereading the Harry Potter books. This is the book I've probably reread the least so I'd forgotten some of the details. 

Zeitoun by Dave Eggers

This is the November selection for my afternoon book discussion group. The book portrays Mr. Zeitoun as a hero during Hurricane Katrina who was unjustly arrested afterwards on suspicions of terrorist activity or looting. The book is really inspiring (it was published in 2009)-until you find out about the recent arrest of Mr. Zeitoun for trying to have his ex-wife and her son killed and how he was abusive throughout their marriage. I am sure we will have much to discuss at book club!

Books reviewed:

Mr. Churchill's Secretary by Susan Elia MacNeal

Currently reading:

The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien (reread)

I did not enjoy The Hobbit when I first read it because I had already read The Lord of the Rings and this book was not on the same epic scope. This time around, I am just enjoying the reading experience and I find the story to be charming. I am so excited about the movie release next month, especially after seeing the trailer today. 

What I plan to read next:

Vessel by Sarah Beth Durst

I am looking forward to reading Vessel and hope I will get to it soon. 

Keeping Faith by Jodi Picoult

I will have to read this book before next week's book group meeting but I am planning to wait till after Thanksgiving to pick it back up. Thankfully Jodi Picoult books are usually quick reads. I just wasn't that impressed with what I've read so far. I hate when main characters are so whiny and annoying.

The Fire Chronicle by John Stephens

This is the sequel to The Emerald Atlas, an MG fantasy novel which I really enjoyed last year. It is similar in some ways to the Lemony Snickett books as well as Harry Potter. I hope to listen to the audio book versions sometime too as they are narrated by Jim Dale, the king of audio book narrators (in my opinion).

Matched by Ally Condie (reread)

I want to reread Matched (and maybe Crossed) before I read Reached. I am curious to see how this series will end and hope I won't be disappointed!

What have you been reading lately? 
I hope you have a great week and a Happy Thanksgiving for those of you in the States!

Saturday, November 17, 2012

2013 E-book Challenge

I've enjoyed participating in the 2012 E-book Challenge this past year and I am looking forward to participating again next year. When I started the 2012 challenge, I thought I'd only read a few e-books but due to my wrist problems, it's easier to read on my Kindle than holding heavy books for any length of time. Most of the books I've read this year have been e-books and I've even been able to download e-books from my library. 

The 2013 E-book Challenge goes from January 1st-December 31, 2013 and you can sign up any time between now and December 15, 2013. There are seven different reading levels from Level 1 (5 e-books) to Level 7 (150 e-books). 

My goal for this past year was only 10 e-books and since I've done well with it this year, I think I will set next year's goal higher and aim for Level 4 (50 books).

If you'd like to participate in the 2013 E-book Challenge, you can find out all about the challenge and sign up at Workaday Reads.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Waiting on Wednesday (109)

"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:

Nobody by Jennifer Lynn Barnes
Release date: January 22, 2012

Description from Goodreads:

There are people in this world who are Nobody. No one sees them. No one notices them. They live their lives under the radar, forgotten as soon as you turn away. 

That’s why they make the perfect assassins.

The Institute finds these people when they’re young and takes them away for training. But an untrained Nobody is a threat to their organization. And threats must be eliminated.

Sixteen-year-old Claire has been invisible her whole life, missed by the Institute’s monitoring. But now they’ve ID’ed her and send seventeen-year-old Nix to remove her. Yet the moment he lays eyes on her, he can’t make the hit. It’s as if Claire and Nix are the only people in the world for each other. And they are—because no one else ever notices them.

I am not a fan of "insta love" but having read four of her previous novels, I trust Jennifer Lynn Barnes. I think this book sounds like it has potential anyway and because I loved the Raised By Wolves series and liked Every Other Day, I will give this one a try.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Review: Mr. Churchill's Secretary

Mr. Churchill's Secretary
By Susan Elia MacNeal
Published: April 3, 2012

"London, 1940. Winston Churchill has just been sworn in, war rages across the Channel, and the threat of a Blitz looms larger by the day. But none of this deters Maggie Hope. She graduated at the top of her college class and possesses all the skills of the finest minds in British intelligence, but her gender qualifies her only to be the newest typist at No. 10 Downing Street. Her indefatigable spirit and remarkable gifts for codebreaking, though, rival those of even the highest men in government, and Maggie finds that working for the prime minister affords her a level of clearance she could never have imagined—and opportunities she will not let pass. In troubled, deadly times, with air-raid sirens sending multitudes underground, access to the War Rooms also exposes Maggie to the machinations of a menacing faction determined to do whatever it takes to change the course of history.

Ensnared in a web of spies, murder, and intrigue, Maggie must work quickly to balance her duty to King and Country with her chances for survival. And when she unravels a mystery that points toward her own family’s hidden secrets, she’ll discover that her quick wits are all that stand between an assassin’s murderous plan and Churchill himself."

My review:

Mr. Churchill's Secretary starts out with the murder of a young woman who worked as a typist at 10 Downing Street. Then the pacing slows as we are introduced to Maggie Hope and her friends and the situation with the war in Britain. In between all of this we get glimpses of one of the villains, Michael Murphy, who is involved with the IRA. 

The story becomes more interesting as Maggie starts working directly with Churchill. The reader learns about Churchill's mannerisms and habits, the politics in Britain at the time, and the lives of ordinary people living under the threat of air raids. There is plenty of mystery mixed in with all of the historical fact. The central mystery is about the plot of a group with links to both the Nazis and the IRA and there is a secondary mystery involving Maggie's family. I liked the mystery and seeing how Maggie proved herself to those in charge. I loved the unexpected plot twists. I usually pick up on things quickly and I'm not easily fooled but I was taken in by the twists in this book! 

As a protagonist Maggie is brave and smart and daring. There are several scenes where she is pushed to the limit and she proves that she is capable for much more than her employers give her credit for. The other characters don't quite standout to me like Maggie did. I liked seeing the portrayal of real historical figures like Churchill but some of the secondary characters were rather standard. 

Overall I thought this was a fantastic mystery and start to the series but I do wish that some of the storyline had been tightened. There is a lot going on with the war, the family secrets, the romantic issues, etc. and there were times when I thought the story got a little too far from the mystery. Still, I enjoyed this book and loved that it surprised me in the end. If you like historical mystery you should consider giving this book a try.

Sunday, November 11, 2012

It's Monday, What Are You Reading (125)

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 read two books that I really liked and the struggled to find something to read next. Finally I decided to start Keeping Faith because it is a book group book and the month is flying by so the next book discussion meeting will be here in the blink of an eye. 

Even though it is a long weekend I didn't have much time to read as I spent time hanging out with my sister and helping her shop for Christmas decorations (yes, she is one of those people but it was a lot of fun). This week I hope to make progress with the book group books and do some reading for fun too.

 Books read:

Princess Elizabeth's Spy by Susan Elia MacNeal

I enjoyed this sequel to Mr. Churchill's Secretary but the mystery was a little predictable and at times I grew frustrated with Maggie because she didn't see the obvious. 

The Shadowy Horses by Susanna Kearsley

I loved this story! It was interesting to read about the history and archaeology but my favorite part was the romance :)

Books reviewed:

Code Name Verity by Elizabeth Wein
Sapphire Blue by Kerstin Gier

Currently reading:

Keeping Faith by Jodi Picoult

I am not a fan of this book so far. I find Mariah to be really whiny and annoying. Sometimes I love Jodi Picoult's books and sometimes I don't.

What I might read next:

Vessel by Sarah Beth Durst

I hope I get to this book soon! I've read really positive reviews of it and I liked the excerpt I read. It sounds like a unique fantasy novel.

The Walnut Tree by Charles Todd

I am looking forward to reading this book. It is a historical novel set during WWI and it is also a romance. The authors write two different mystery series that I want to try someday too.

Zeitoun by Dave Eggers

I do not want to read this book but I have to as it is a book discussion book. I wish I'd read it before I found out the truth about him (Zeitoun) and what kind of person he really is. 

Cinders and Sapphires by Leila Rasheed

I may not read this till next month since the book won't be published till January. I am eager to give it a try as it is set in the same time period as Downton Abbey and it features an interracial love interest.

What books are on your list this week?

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Review: Sapphire Blue

Sapphire Blue
By Kerstin Gier
Published: October 30, 2012

My review:

In Ruby Red, Gwyneth Shepherd realizes that instead of her snooty cousin Charlotte (who was prepared and trained for it), she is the one who inherits their family's time traveling gene. She also is supposed to fulfill an important prophecy that is a complete mystery to her. In this sequel, she is still learning about her role and all the pitfalls of time travel as well as dealing with the confusing hot and cold behavior of Gideon, her fellow time traveler and would-be love interest. 

I am glad that I reread the first book before picking this one up so everything was fresh in my mind. Sapphire Blue starts off right where Ruby Red ended. Gwyneth still has many questions about time travel and no one gives her answers.  She is also frustrated because of Gideon and his constantly changing behavior towards her. While the romance aspect grated on my nerves at times, I was pulled into the story, wanting to find out more about the prophecy, the Count, and Lucy and Paul in particular. 

Gwyneth is still the same fun and spunky protagonist from the first book (except when she is crying over Gideon). I enjoyed her interactions with Lesley and the gargoyle Xemerius especially. I hope that the third book will show Gwyneth emerging as a strong character who believes in herself. 

Overall I thought this was a fun book aside from the angsty romance. I liked the time travel, humor, and mystery. I do wish more answers were given in this book as I have a feeling that the third and final book, Emerald Green will have to cover a lot of ground to make up for it. I can't wait to find out what the prophecy means and what part Gwyneth will play in it.

Note: I received an ARC of this book for review purposes from Amazon Vine

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Waiting on Wednesday (108)

"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:

Scent of Magic by Maria V. Snyder
Release date: December 18, 2012

Description from Goodreads:

Hunted, Killed—Survived?

As the last Healer in the Fifteen Realms, Avry of Kazan is in a unique position: in the minds of her friends and foes alike, she no longer exists. Despite her need to prevent the megalomanical King Tohon from winning control of the Realms, Avry is also determined to find her sister and repair their estrangement. And she must do it alone, as Kerrick, her partner and sole confidant, returns to Alga to summon his country into battle.

Though she should be in hiding, Avry will do whatever she can to support Tohon’s opponents. Including infiltrating a holy army, evading magic sniffers, teaching forest skills to soldiers and figuring out how to stop Tohon’s most horrible creations yet; an army of the walking dead—human and animal alike and nearly impossible to defeat.

War is coming and Avry is alone. Unless she figures out how to do the impossible ... again.

I loved Touch of Power and I can't wait to pick up this sequel! I have become a fan of Maria V. Snyder's fantasy novels.

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Review: Code Name Verity

Code Name Verity
By Elizabeth Wein
Published: May 15, 2012

"Oct. 11th, 1943--A British spy plane crashes in Nazi-occupied France. Its pilot and passenger are best friends. One of the girls has a chance at survival. The other has lost the game before it's barely begun. 
When "Verity" is arrested by the Gestapo, she's sure she doesn't stand a chance. As a secret agent captured in enemy territory, she's living a spy's worst nightmare. Her Nazi interrogators give her a simple choice: reveal her mission or face a grisly execution.
As she intricately weaves her confession, Verity uncovers her past, how she became friends with the pilot Maddie, and why she left Maddie in the wrecked fuselage of their plane. On each new scrap of paper, Verity battles for her life, confronting her views on courage and failure and her desperate hope to make it home. But will trading her secrets be enough to save her from the enemy?"

My review:

Code Name Verity is a story that packs a powerful emotional punch. It is cleverly written and full of historical details as well as suspense and even a little humor. Verity and Maddie both leap off the page as realistic and moving characters but it is Verity who stole my heart with her bravery and intelligence in the face of torture. There is one scene in particular that just broke my heart and even months later it is still fresh in my mind.

I love historical fiction but rarely have I been moved like I was with this book. I expected a suspenseful spy story and found something much more. I thought the author did an excellent job of making the characters sound authentic as British women from that time period. It did take some time to get used to the writing style but the story was well worth the effort. While some teen readers may be put off by the writing style or method of telling the story, readers who persevere will be rewarded. I know that Elizabeth Wein has written some fantasy novels but I hope she will write more historical fiction in the future. 

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

Sunday, November 4, 2012

It's Monday, What Are You Reading (124)

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 had a busy week but managed to finish a few books anyway. On Thursday I went to a library workshop where I got to hear Melanie Gideon speak about her new novel Wife22 and her experiences in the publishing world. It was really interesting. I may have to pick up her nonfiction book someday. She was an entertaining speaker.

Books read:

The Art of Hearing Heartbeats by Jan-Philipp Sendker

I did not care for this book in the end though some of the other members of the book group did enjoy it. It reminded me of The Tiger's Wife which I also didn't like.

Silent Night by Deanna Raybourn

I love the Lady Julia mysteries but this novella was not a real mystery. It was still a nice little story and great to see some of my favorite characters again.

Falling Kingdoms by Morgan Rhodes

This YA fantasy novel wasn't perfect but I still liked it quite a bit. I was surprised that I liked it since I was expecting to be disappointed.

Books reviewed:

Hidden by Sophie Jordan

Currently reading:

Princess Elizabeth's Spy by Susan Elia MacNeal

I am about halfway done with this historical mystery and I enjoy it so far. I think I like it more than the first book. 

The Shadowy Horses by Susanna Kearsley

I haven't gotten very far with this book yet but Susanna Kearsley's books usually have slower pacing. I'm sure I will enjoy it though since I liked her other books that I've tried.

What I plan to read next:

Cinders and Sapphires by Leila Rasheed

Vessel by Sarah Beth Durst

I read a sample of this book and it really interested me. I am thinking of buying it so I can read it right away once I'm done with my current books! I like seeing diversity in YA fantasy novels. 

Keeping Faith by Jodi Picoult

This book is the November selection for my evening book discussion group. I haven't read it before but I usually like Jodi Picoult's books. I'm sure it will be great for discussion anyway.

What have you been reading lately?