Monthly Archives:: January 2015

The Story of Owen by E.K. Johnston | Book Review

January 30, 2015 Book Review, Young Adult 1 ★★★

The Story of Owen by E.K. Johnston | Book ReviewThe Story of Owen: Dragon Slayer of Trondheim by E.K. Johnston
Series: Dragon Slayer of Trondheim #1
Published by Carolrhoda Books on March 1, 2014
Genres: Alternate History, Fantasy
Pages: 312
Format: eBook
Source: Bought from Amazon
Amazon Add to Goodreads
3 Stars
Listen! For I sing of Owen Thorskard: valiant of heart, hopeless at algebra, last in a long line of legendary dragon slayers. Though he had few years and was not built for football, he stood between the town of Trondheim and creatures that threatened its survival. There have always been dragons. As far back as history is told, men and women have fought them, loyally defending their villages. Dragon slaying was a proud tradition. But dragons and humans have one thing in common: an insatiable appetite for fossil fuels. From the moment Henry Ford hired his first dragon slayer, no small town was safe. Dragon slayers flocked to cities, leaving more remote areas unprotected. Such was Trondheim's fate until Owen Thorskard arrived. At sixteen, with dragons advancing and his grades plummeting, Owen faced impossible odds armed only with a sword, his legacy, and the classmate who agreed to be his bard. Listen! I am Siobhan McQuaid. I alone know the story of Owen, the story that changes everything. Listen!

This book was a required read for my Young Adult Literature class as part of my MLIS program.

So… I’m not going to write a formal review of The Story of Owen. I’m just going to post my thoughts that I wrote for a couple assignments in my class. Unfortunately, this book was not my favorite. Its had its moments, but overall I had some complaints I could not reconcile.

1. It started out very slowly for me, and never really picked up very much. Maybe things were a bit slow going because the author took her time to build the world. She spent a lot of time going through historical elements to establish dragons as a part of life, and we also read flashbacks to get to know Siobhan and Owen better. I like worldbuilding a lot, but I felt bogged down by so many details and information dumps.

2. I can imagine the author had to do a lot of research to figure out ways to add dragons to history. And I did find some of these historical facts interesting and even cool, but there was just too much.

3. One interesting thing I am slightly confused by is Owen’s need for a bard. It almost seems as
though the author is trying to make Owen’s story a tall tale of sorts, that people talk about for generations… like John Henry. It’s definitely a unique plot mechanism, but I’m not sure I like it.

4. I do love Owen’s and Siobhan’s friendship. They have this mutual caring and admiration for one another that I think is sweet. There are some very tender moments throughout.

5. There’s a very strong “girl power” message throughout the story. The story is dominated by powerful, strong ladies. I think it’s refreshing, and I wonder if the author had a reason for doing this. I think this would be a great book to recommend to girls who are looking for strong heroines.

6. There’s suggestions of possible romance throughout the book, but it never develops into the full-blown romance/infatuation that is so typical in books for young adults. I’m not complaining. I find it refreshing that the author has chosen to hook readers with strong friendships instead.

7. Siobhan’s and Owen’s personalities might be the reason for this lack of romance. To me, they both act younger than the book says they are. I was very surprised when Siobhan drove the two of them or offered to pick Owen up for something, but then remembered she’s old enough. It could just be that these two are a little behind socially and friendship feels more natural than romance.

8. The ending was definitely my favorite part of the story. I can’t even really say why, I was just very happy with how everyone ended up.

9. I can see The Story of Owen having a wide appeal because it is not gender specific and it has lots of different story elements (homosexuality, adventure, bravery, friendship, tradition, history/alternate history, perseverance, familial relationships, etc.).

All in all, I’m a romance girl! I think the lack of romance, which would not have worked in this story anyway so I’m glad the author did not add it, combined with the huge info dumps that ripped me out of the story are my biggest complaints. But I also did not really connect with the characters. I never felt anything for any of them. So really, things were just a mess for me.


Inner Child: Winnie by Sally M. Walker

January 28, 2015 Children's Book Review 1

InnerChild

Inner Child is an original Artsy Reader Girl feature, where I take a moment to highlight a cute book for kids! I love children’s books. Hey, I started out on them! They are the foundation of my love of reading. When I need a smile, or a quick dose of the “good old days”, I never hesitate to crack open a picture book and feed my inner child.

 

Winnie: The True Story of the Bear Who Inspired Winnie-the-Pooh by Sally M. Walker
Illustrated by Jonathan D. Voss
Published by: Henry Holt and Co.
Pages: 40
Source: From the publisher
Buy the BookAdd to Goodreads

Who could care for a bear? When Harry Colebourn saw a baby bear for sale at the train station, he knew he could care for it. Harry was a veterinarian. But he was also a soldier in training for World War I. Harry named the bear Winnie, short for Winnipeg, his company’s home town, and he brought her along to the training camp in England. Winnie followed Harry everywhere and slept under his cot every night. Before long, she became the regiment’s much-loved mascot. But who could care for the bear when Harry had to go to the battleground in France? Harry found just the right place for Winnie while he was away—the London Zoo. There a little boy named Christopher Robin came along and played with Winnie—he could care for this bear too!

Sally Walker’s heartwarming story, paired with Jonathan Voss’s evocative illustrations, brings to life the story of the real bear who inspired Winnie the Pooh.

This book warmed my heart. I absolutely loved Winnie the Pooh as a child. To be honest, I still do. I had heard Winnie the Pooh was inspired by true events, but I had never heard the story. And honestly, it’s one of the sweetest stories I’ve read in a long time.

The story takes place during WWI times, and just enough information is provided to the reader to understand what’s going on without scaring them. The focus is entirely on Harry and his bear. Harry met little Winnie at the train station, where she climbed into his lap and licked his chin. He bought her for $20. From the beginning, her relationship with Harry was so sweet. Readers learn what Winnie and Harry did together, how Winnie played, what she ate, where she lived, and where she slept. She nuzzled the muzzles of horses, and then needed cuddle time if they scared her. How cute is that? It is no question at all that little Winnie was a unique and special bear. She was brought to the London zoo when Harry and the other soldiers could no longer care for her (they went to war), and little children played with her there (one of them was named Christopher Robin). They even rode on her back! She was so happy. And the story has a happy ending with a bit of a twist that will make you smile. :)

The illustrations are simply beautiful. The tenderness between Harry and Winnie is so perfectly illustrated with soft watercolor tones. As a bonus, black and white photos of the real Harry and the real Winnie are included as well, and they are such a wonderful addition to the story. We get to see Winnie sitting in Harry’s lap for the regiment’s group picture and we get to see her do tricks for apples. There’s an author’s note at the end of the book, which provides more information about Harry’s and Winnie’s lives. Sources are also cited.

I love this story. It’s perfect for lovers of animals, Winnie the Pooh, history, and magical stories. People today would never buy a baby bear, much less take it on a transatlantic voyage to England. This gives the story a sense of fantasy, but children will be delighted to hear it’s true! Definitely pick up a copy of Winnie. It’s one of the best children’s books I’ve read in a while.


The Recipe Hacker by Diana Keuilian | Cookbook Review

January 26, 2015 Book Review 3

The Recipe Hacker by Diana Keuilian | Cookbook ReviewThe Recipe Hacker: Comfort Foods without Soy, Dairy, Cane Sugar, Gluten, and Grain by Diana Keuilian
Published by Cedar Fort on December 9, 2014
Genres: Cookbook
Pages: 200
Format: Paperback
Source: From the Publisher
Amazon Add to Goodreads
Break the recipe code for your favorite foods! Free of grains, gluten, dairy, cane sugar, and soy, The Recipe Hacker is a mouthwatering collection of your favorite comfort foods with a healthy twist. Learn to use easy ingredient substitutions to transform traditional dishes into real, healthy comfort food masterpieces, without sacrificing any of the flavor! Enjoy healthier, whole-food versions of Key Lime Pie Crispy Orange Chicken and Banana Pancakes Step-by-step photos, dozens of recipes, and delicious flavors will keep you coming back for more. Enjoy all the comfort foods you crave and keep your body (and skinny jeans) happy at the same time!

Recently I’ve started considering the fact that several of my health issues might be alleviated by giving up certain foods that typically cause allergies. I’ve got a lot of inflammation in my body, and I’ve read that food allergies can manifest themselves in less noticeable ways, or can disguise themselves as other problems. Needless to say, I was super excited to try out this cookbook because it lines up with a lot of the foods I’ve been thinking about giving up.

The contents of the cookbook include breakfasts, appetizers, main dishes, sides, and desserts. The author has come up with some very creative workarounds, and her recipes sounds amazing! Before I get into the recipes, though, I’d like to touch on the information the author provides for her readers. There’s a short note where she introduces herself and explains why she think healthy eating should be an important part of our lives, followed by a small list of healthy ingredients. She pushes organic eating and her favorite flour substitute is blanched almond flour (although people allergic to almonds can used ground sunflower seeds or gluten free oats instead). She also lists other flour, cane sugar, milk substitutes.

Now, to get into the foods! There are 100 recipes in all, most are accompanied by a sizable photo that looks so yummy I could eat it! I’m going to mention just a few that I think sounds interesting, but I’ll have to do a little more tweaking because I’m allergic to all nuts and seeds. It appears my gluten substitutes are limited!

Starting with breakfast, there’s a recipe for a donut breakfast sandwich, which sounds really yummy. It’s got a fried egg and bacon in it, and the donut is sweetened with pure maple, almond, and vanilla extracts. Sounds so good! There’s also a recipe for bagels, and I LOVE bagels. The author has included tweaks to make several different kinds, including blueberry and cinnamon (I’ll skip the raisins! Not a fan.).

Moving on to appetizers, the first recipe is onion rings–one of my guilty pleasures for sure! There’s ground almonds in them, though, so I’ll have to get a little creative. How does this sound: teriyaki spiked, tender rib eye-wrapped asparagus. Sounds crazy to me, but I’m intrigued! There’s also a recipe for pretzel bites, garnished with sea salt. Yum!

Ok, dinner time! I’m a sucker for pizza, and there’s a recipe for pizza dough made from almond flour, coconut flour, and arrowroot starch (and some other stuff) that I’d love to try. There are a few recommendations for toppings as well. Beef brisket and crispy orange chicken sound good, too! To go with dinner there’s recipes for cauliflower rice, almond bread, and egg white biscuits. I’m kind of a carb addict.

Finally, we’re on to my favorite: dessert! The chocolate fudge cake, sweetened with coconut oil and raw honey, looks amazing in the picture. Angel food cake, my favorite! And hello apple pie (topped with dairy-free vanilla ice cream, recipe included). There’s a bunch of cookie recipes, some brownies, and even cheesecake bites (no cheese included). I think the author might love dessert the most, just like I do!

All in all, I’m super excited to try some of these recipes! It seems like Keuilian is very creative, and has thought about pretty much all the comfort foods that are so hard to give up when you’re trying to avoid certain ingredients. I really appreciate that the author avoided sugar substitutes, which are so much worse for you than regular sugar is. My only qualm is that these recipes use ingredients that are higher in fat than the foods they are substituting (nuts and coconut milk are commonly used ingredients), but if you’re going for avoiding allergens over losing weight you won’t have to worry. It’s nice to have some alternatives to gluten, dairy, and sugary foods you love! The cookbook is very well-designed, of good quality, and the photography is wonderful!


The Debut Dish: Michelle Falkoff

January 25, 2015 Author Interview, Debut Dish 0

The Debut Dish, a Debut Author Challenge feature, is where you go for the scoop on some pretty awesome debut authors and their new books! Hopefully these interviews will inspire you to add many, many more books to your to-read list. Because, really, who doesn’t need more books in their lives?


Playlist for the Dead by Michelle Falkoff
January 27, 2015 from HarperTEEN
Add to Goodreads | Author Website

A teenage boy tries to understand his best friend’s suicide by listening to the playlist of songs he left behind in this smart, voice-driven debut novel.

Here’s what Sam knows: There was a party. There was a fight. The next morning, his best friend, Hayden, was dead. And all he left Sam was a playlist of songs, and a suicide note: For Sam—listen and you’ll understand.

As he listens to song after song, Sam tries to face up to what happened the night Hayden killed himself. But it’s only by taking out his earbuds and opening his eyes to the people around him that he will finally be able to piece together his best friend’s story. And maybe have a chance to change his own.

Part mystery, part love story, and part coming-of-age tale in the vein of Stephen Chbosky’s The Perks of Being a Wallflower and Tim Tharp’s The Spectacular Now, Playlist for the Dead is an honest and gut-wrenching first novel about loss, rage, what it feels like to outgrow a friendship that’s always defined you—and the struggle to redefine yourself. But above all, it’s about finding hope when hope seems like the hardest thing to find.

Describe your book in five words or less.
Sad teenage boys and music.

Why should readers pick up your book?
I hope I’ve given them a few reasons, since there are an infinite number of things that people look for when they read. Here are two possibilities: 1) I wanted to write something that focused on someone who was going through a really hard time and had to struggle, but who ultimately was going to be okay. I think it’s important to be aware of how often people are going through difficult things that they don’t share, but sometimes talking about it can be what saves you. Or listening to others. 2) Music! I had a blast putting together the playlist for this thing, and I tried to use a good mix of contemporary and slightly older stuff. It’s an eclectic mix, so there should be something for everyone. I even put it on Spotify: Playlist for the Dead.

What’s the best thing about being a debut author?
The community of readers and writers. I’m part of the Fearless Fifteeners debut group, and they’ve all been tremendously supportive, and their books are fantastic. Though the book’s not out yet, a number of bloggers have been reading and commenting on it online, which is so exciting—some people might write just for themselves, but I always thing of writing as being part of a conversation, and it’s not a conversation if I’m just talking to myself.

What’s your favorite movie theater candy?
That’s actually a really hard question. It used to be Sno-Caps, then it was Raisinets, but now it’s probably Junior Mints. I’m on a big mint kick right now. Have you tried those dark chocolate mint M&Ms? They’re crazy good.

WeirdWhat’s the oddest thing on your desk right now?
This. It’s actually an issue of McSweeney’s from a few years ago—it’s a box filled with stories. McSweeney’s totally understands that much of the future of print books is going to lie in how they work as physical objects, and the books and magazines it produces are fabulous.


Love, Lucy by April Lindner | Book Review

January 23, 2015 Book Review, Young Adult 6 ★★★★★

Love, Lucy by April Lindner | Book ReviewLove, Lucy by April Lindner
Published by Poppy on January 27, 2015
Genres: Contemporary, Contemporary Romance, Romance
Pages: 304
Format: ARC
Source: From the publisher at ALA
Amazon Add to Goodreads
5 Stars
While backpacking through Florence, Italy, during the summer before she heads off to college, Lucy Sommersworth finds herself falling in love with the culture, the architecture, the food...and Jesse Palladino, a handsome street musician. After a whirlwind romance, Lucy returns home, determined to move on from her "vacation flirtation." But just because summer is over doesn't mean Lucy and Jesse are over, too.

In this coming-of-age romance, April Lindner perfectly captures the highs and lows of a summer love that might just be meant to last beyond the season.

Love, Lucy is a glorious, wonderful, perfectly fabulous book. I seriously read this book in August, and I have not been able to figure out how to explain my love for it, but I have to!! There was not one thing I didn’t love, so I’m just going to make a little fangirl list of the best things about Love, Lucy before I push you off to buy yourself a copy.

– Love, Lucy took me right back to the magical city of Florence, Italy. Florence is one of my favorite places in the world, and April did it right. She made me want to go back again right now.

– Travel. Come on. Everyone knows that traveling makes you fall in love with the person that you are, and Love, Lucy had everything I could have ever wanted in a travel book.

– Not only is the book about travel, but it encourages travel. It’s an inspiring story that makes you want to make your traveling dreams come true, not to mention it makes you feel like you can do it. Lucy is just a young high school grad, but she did it. And you can too.

– In that same vein, this book is about a girl discovering who she is. I love those kinds of books.

– Lucy happens upon Jesse, a sexy street performer (a musician, holy swoon), and a flirtatious little love-ish thing starts. It’s a perfect romance. Jesse is perfection.

– Love, Lucy is happy. It made me happy. This is what books are supposed to do.

– I was so sad when it was over.

– I might love this more than I love Just One Day, which is a lot, so that’s saying something.

Basically, you need to read this. You need to, your mom needs to (my mom LOVED it), your best friend needs to. And then you all need to go to Florence together so you can see that the magic April Lindner speaks of is real. You need to meet and fall in love with Jesse, and you need to explore the city on the back of his moped. I wish I could go back and read it again for the first time.


Top Ten Authors I’ve Only Read One Book From But NEED to Read More

January 20, 2015 Top Ten Tuesday 16

TTT

Top Ten Tuesday is hosted over at the other blog I write for, The Broke and the Bookish.

This week is a freebie, and I missed this one a few months ago. So, we’re talking about authors we like, but haven’t been able to get enough of them yet! I’m pretty bad at finding an author and then reading a TON of books by them. I love exploring and promoting new authors, so I’ve read a ton of books by a ton of different authors. Many of them have released new books and I just haven’t had time to grab them yet!

Jennifer L. Armentrout
I read Don’t Look Back, and loved it! Now I want to read more from JLA! I’m thinking of starting the Lux series. Or is there another I should read instead?

Tessa Dare
I thought Romancing the Duke was really cute, and I would love to read more from Tessa! I’ve got Say Yes to the Marquess, which is the second book in the Castles Ever After series, but I’ve also got A Night to Surrender, and Surrender of a Siren. Where do I begin with these!? Or, does she have any book you love even more that I should get?

John Green
I actually have not read a full-length novel from John Green yet, but I want to! I really liked his short story in the Let It Snow anthology, and just don’t know where to go now. I hate crying, and I hate reading sad books… are any of his not tear-jerkers?

Abigail Haas
Dangerous Girls was insane and intense! I loved it! Now I’m wanting to read Dangerous Boys. Is it as good? I’m worried I won’t love it as much.

Kirsten Hubbard
Wanderlove is one of my favorite books ever, and I want Kirsten to write more like it! Like Mandarin does not sound like my kind of book, and her new book coming out this year called Watch the Sky is a middle grade… so I don’t know what to do. She got a thriller called Cloudforest coming out in 2016 that sounds good. I might just have to wait until then.

Sophie Kinsella
I don’t even know where to begin with Sophie. I really liked I’ve Got Your Number. I think I own the entire shopaholic series, but there’s others of hers I hear more about like Remember Me? and The Undomestic Goddess. Thoughts?

J.K. Rowling
This is kind of a no-brainer. I read Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone last year and really want to finish the series this year. We’ll see if I have time!

Mary E. Pearson
I LOVED The Kiss of Deception sooooo much, and I own the Jenna Fox Chronicles, which I’m pretty excited about. We’ll see if I get to it before The Heart of Betrayal comes out, which I will stop the world for.

Marie Rutkoski
Ahhhh… The Winner’s Curse was glorious! It was super good, and I’ve got an ARC of The Winner’s Crime staring at me as we speak. But I also have The Shadow Society, which sounds pretty cool. How are her other books?

Anna Scarlet
This is more of a plea than a decree because Anna Scarlet has only written one book, Degrees of Wrong, which I loved. I want more, whether it be a sequel or a new standalone. I don’t care. But I loved it! And did you know Anna Scarlet is Anna Banks? All the more reason for her to write another adult novel. :D


The Debut Dish: Lee Kelly (+ Giveaway), Dan Gemeinhart, and Amy Bai (+ giveaway)

January 18, 2015 Author Interview, Debut Author Challenge, Debut Dish, Giveaway 8

The Debut Dish, a Debut Author Challenge feature, is where you go for the scoop on some pretty awesome debut authors and their new books! Hopefully these interviews will inspire you to add many, many more books to your to-read list. Because, really, who doesn’t need more books in their lives?


City of Savages by Lee Kelly
February 3, 2015 from Simon and Schuster/Saga Press
Add to Goodreads | Author Website

It’s been nearly two decades since the Red Allies first attacked New York, and Manhattan is now a prisoner-of-war camp, ruled by Warden Rolladin and her brutal, impulsive warlords. For 17-year-old Skyler Miller, Manhattan is a cage that keeps her from the world beyond the city’s borders. But for Sky’s 16-year-old sister, Phee, the P.O.W. camp is a dangerous playground of possibility, and the only home she’d ever want.

When Sky and Phee discover their mom’s hidden journal from the outbreak of the war, they both realize there’s more to Manhattan—and their mother—than either of them had ever imagined. And after a group of strangers arrives at the annual P.O.W. census, the girls begin to uncover the island’s long-kept secrets. The strangers hail from England, a country supposedly destroyed by the Red Allies, and Rolladin’s lies about Manhattan’s captivity begin to unravel.

Hungry for the truth, the sisters set a series of events in motion that ends in the death of one of Rolladin’s guards. Now they’re outlaws, forced to join the strange Englishmen on an escape mission through Manhattan. Their flight takes them into subways haunted by cannibals, into the arms of a sadistic cult in the city’s Meatpacking District, and, through the pages of their mom’s old journal, into the island’s dark and shocking past. Sky and Phee are dependent on each other, and their ragged posse, for survival, but as their feelings grow toward the handsome English boy Ryder, love and jealousy threaten to break them apart.

While primarily a thriller, City of Savages is also a story about the many meanings of sisterhood, told across two generations of New York women—those who survived a terrible tragedy, and those who were raised to live in its aftermath.

Describe your book in five words or less. 
Family saga in post-WWIII Manhattan.

Why should readers pick up your book?
I’d like to think that the novel has plenty of action and twists, but that at its heart, it’s a story about family and relationships. As a reader, I seek out stories that manage to marry plot with complicated, follow-them-anywhere characters, and I very much hope CITY OF SAVAGES is one of those stories!

What’s the best thing about being a debut author?
Good question! I’ve got two best’s if that’s okay: 1) working with a top-notch editor like mine to make your book as good as it can be, and 2) getting to know my fellow 2015 debuters — the YA community is really so spectacular and supportive.

What’s your favorite movie theater candy?
Ooh, another good question! It would be a tie between chocolate-covered gummy bears and Sour Patch Kids.

What’s the oddest thing on your desk right now?
I’ve got my tickets to NY Comic Con right next to my son’s immunization records for preschool — the writing mom life! :)

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The Honest Truth by Dan Geimeinhart
January 27, 2015 from Scholastic Press
Add to Goodreads | Author Website

In all the ways that matter, Mark is a normal kid. He’s got a dog named Beau and a best friend, Jessie. He likes to take photos and write haiku poems in his notebook. He dreams of climbing a mountain one day. But in one important way, Mark is not like other kids at all. Mark is sick. The kind of sick that means hospitals. And treatments. The kind of sick some people never get better from. So Mark runs away. He leaves home with his camera, his notebook, his dog, and a plan to reach the top of Mount Rainier–even if it’s the last thing he ever does. The Honest Truth is a rare and extraordinary novel about big questions, small moments, and the incredible journey of the human spirit.

Describe your book in five words or less.
Boy with cancer runs away.

Why should readers pick up your book?
It’s an exciting, heartfelt, emotional adventure. It means a whole lot to me, and I hope it ends up meaning a lot to you, too. There’s a lot of sincere pain and sincere love in it, but at the end of the day I hope it’s just a really good story.

What’s the best thing about being a debut author?
The palpable feeling everyday of a dream coming true.

What’s your favorite movie theater candy?
Sour Patch Kids. Hands down. 2nd Place: Twizzlers.

What’s the oddest thing on your desk right now?
All of our foreign exchange student’s homework. She has taken over.

Exciting Tidbit: Dan’s book was recently selected by the American Booksellers Association as one of their top ten “Indies Introduce” books for 2015!


Sword by Amy Bai
February 10, 2015 from Candlemark & Gleam
Add to Goodreads | Author Website

Sword shall guide the hands of men . . .

For over a thousand years the kingdom of Lardan has been at peace: isolated from the world, safe from the wars of its neighbors, slowly forgetting the wild and deadly magic of its origins. Now the deepest truths of the past and the darkest predictions for the future survive only in the verses of nursery rhymes.

For over a thousand years, some of Lardan’s fractious provinces have been biding their time.

Kyali Corwynall is the daughter of the Lord General, a child of one of the royal Houses, and the court’s only sword-wielding girl. She has known for all of her sixteen years what the future holds for her–politics and duty, the management of a House, and protecting her best friend, the princess and presumed heir to the throne. But one day an old nursery rhyme begins to come true, an ancient magic wakes, and the future changes for everyone. In the space of a single night her entire life unravels into violence and chaos. Now Kyali must find a way to master the magic her people have left behind, or watch her world–and her closest friends–fall to a war older than the kingdom itself.

Describe your book in five words or less.
Love, loyalty, politics, angst, snark.

Why should readers pick up your book?
Because awesome. More seriously, because of the characters. I write very character-driven books, and these particular characters pretty much just pounded their way out of my gray matter onto the page. I still have a headache. Also, it’s very much with the angst and snark, if you’re into that sort of thing.

What’s the best thing about being a debut author?
The money and the power. I had no idea. (I’ve met so many wonderful, supportive, smart people since I announced the book deal. Publishing can be a really hard and discouraging industry at times, and they more than make up for that part.)

What’s your favorite movie theater candy?
I’m more of a popcorn girl (salt! grease! crunchies!) myself, but I do love me a KitKat now and then.

What’s the oddest thing on your desk right now?
A Spock action figure wearing a tiny toga. Don’t ask.

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That Artsy Librarian | My Young Adult Literature Class Reading List

January 15, 2015 That Artsy Librarian 35

ThatArtsyLibrarian

That Artsy Librarian is a feature all about my journey through graduate school as I work towards my Master’s degree in Library and Information Science.

Another year, another semester! This Spring, I’m taking Introduction to Public Libraries and Young Adult Literature. I’m excited for both, but obviously I’m kind of REALLY excited about my YA Lit class! I’m posting the reading list here because I would LOVE opinions on which books are the best and which ones I need to steer clear of. Please, PLEASE give me your opinions because I’m so overwhelmed and some of these titles scare me! And holy MOLY, this is a lot of reading! I also have two textbooks in this class, plus the teacher assigns scholarly articles as well! I’m gonna be a busy girl!

Weeks 1 & 2: ALA Youth Media Awards
Choose 2: The Carnival at Bray by Jessie Ann Foley, The Story of Owen: Dragon Slayer of Trondheim by E.K. Johnston, Gabi, a Girl in Pieces by Isabel Quintero, The Scar Boys by Len Vlahos, The Strange and Beautiful Sorrows of Ava Lavender by Leslye Walton.

Week 3: Series
Required: The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins
Choose 2: A Brief History of Montmaray by Michelle Cooper, The Diviners by Libba Bray, The Fifth Wave by Rick Yancey, The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making by Catherynne M. Valente, Hold Me Closer, Necromancer by Lish McBride, Little Brother by Cory Doctorow, The Raven Boys by Maggie Stiefvater, Wake (Wake Series, Book 1) by Lisa McMann.

Week 4: Living and Dying
Required: The Fault in Our Stars by John Green
Choose 1: The Hate List by Jennifer Brown, It’s Kind of a Funny Story by Ned Vizzini, Mockingbird by Kathryn Erskine, Thirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher.

Week 5: The Lives of Teens
Choose 2: The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian by Sherman Alexie, Beneath a Meth Moon by Jacqueline Woodson, The First Part Last by Angela Johnson, In Darkness by Nick Lake, Pinned by Sharon Flake, The Road to Paris by Nikki Grimes, Shine by Lauren Myracle, Brown Girl Dreaming by Jacqueline Woodson, We Were Liars by E. Lockhart.

Week 6: The Past
Choose 2: The Book Thief by Markus Zusak, Code Name Verity by Elizabeth Wein, Fallen Angels by Walter Dean Myers, How I Live Now by Meg Rosoff, Inside Out and Back Again by Thanhha Lai, Mare’s War by Tanita Davis, Milkweed by Jerry Spinelli, Out of the Easy by Ruta Sepetys, Revolution by Jennifer Donnelly, The Revolution of Evelyn Serrano by Sonia Manzano.

Week 7: Awards
Required: Printz Award Winning book (announced Feb. 2)
Choose 2: The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman and Dave McKean, The House of the Scorpion by Nancy Farmer, Monster by Walter Dean Myers, Moon Over Manifest by Clare Vanderpool, A Single Shard by Linda Sue Park, Sold by Patricia McCormick, A Step from Heaven by An Na, When You Reach Me by Rebecca Stead, Where Things Come Back by John Corey Whaley.

Week 8: Cross-Overs
Choose 2: Girl in Translation by Jean Kwok, The House of Tomorrow by Peter Bognanni, Juvenile in Justice by Richard Ross, The Ocean at the End of the Lane by Neal Gaiman, The Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake by Aimee Bender, The Radleys: A Novel by Matt Haig, The Reapers Are the Angels by Alden Bell, Room by Emma Donoghue, Tell the Wolves I’m Home by Carol Rifka Brunt.

Week 9: Coming of Age and LGBTQ
Required: Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe by Benjamin Alire Saenz
Choose 1: The Last Summer of the Death Warriors by Francisco X. Stork, Okay for Now by Gary D. Schmidt, The Vast Fields of Ordinary by Nick Burd, Winger by Andrew Smith, Yaqui Delgado Wants to Kick Your Ass by Meg Medina.
Choose 1: Will Grayson, Will Grayson by John Green & David Levithan, Fat Angie by e.E. Charlton-Trujillo, Two Boys Kissing by David Levithan, Putting Makeup on the Fat Boy by Bil Wright, Blankets by Craig Thompson.

Week 10: Graphically Speaking
Required: The Arrival by Shaun Tan
Choose 2: Anya’s Ghost by Vera Brosgol, Boxers and Saints by Gene Luen Yang (2 books count as 1), The Complete Maus by Art Spiegelman (2 books count as 1), The Complete Persepolis by Marjane Satrapi (2 books count as 1), Drama by Raina Telgmeier, The Sculptor by Scott McCloud, This One Summer by Mariko Tamaki & Jillian Tamaki
Plus: Read a single YA manga title of your choice

Week 11: Real Lives
Required: The Port Chicago 50 by Steve Sheinkin
Choose 1: Bomb: The Race to Build – and Steal – the World’s Most Dangerous Weapon by Steve Sheinkin, Courage Has No Color: The True Story of the Triple Nickels, America’s First Black Paratroopers by Tanya Lee Stone, Darkroom: A Memoir in Black and White by Lila Quintero Weaver, Imprisoned: The Betrayal of Japanese Americans During World War II by Martin W. Sandler, We’ve Got a Job: The 1963 Birmingham Children’s March by Cynthia Y. Levinson, Wheels of Change: How Women Rode the Bicycle to Freedom (With a Few Flat Tires Along the Way) by Sue Macy.

Week 12: Steampunk
Choose 1: Leviathan by Scott Westerfeld and Keith Thompson, Steampunk!: An Anthology of Fantastically Rich and Strange Stories by Kelly Link and Gavin J. Grant, The Girl in the Steel Corset by Kady Cross, Clockwork Angel (The Infernal Devices) by Cassandra Clare.
Choose 1 Film: 9, City of Ember, Coraline, The Golden Compass, Howl’s Moving Castle, Stardust.

Week 13: Book Challenges and Pushing Boundaries
Required: Eleanor and Park by Rainbow Rowell and Fat Kid Rules the World by K. L. Going.
Choose 1: The Giver by Lois Lowry or Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson


Phew! I told you it was a lot of reading! So, help me out! In some situations I don’t have a choice, and in others I have a few things to choose between. Which books would you recommend I read? Which ones should I run away from? We all know I hate crying, but crying is inevitable with this list. So really, I’m looking for books that will not shred my soul.


Top Ten 2014 Releases I Meant to Read but Didn’t Get To

January 12, 2015 Top Ten Tuesday 24

TTT

Top Ten Tuesday is hosted over at the other blog I write for, The Broke and the Bookish.

There just aren’t enough hours in the day (or the year) to get to every book I want to read! Here’s a list of just a few of the books that came out last year that I just did not have time for. Hopefully this year. :)

 

2014releases

Isla and the Happily Ever After by Stephanie Perkins
Heir of Fire by Sarah J. Maas
Sinner by Maggie Stiefvater
Of Neptune by Anna Banks
A Mad, Wicked Folly by Sharon Biggs Waller
Top Ten Clues You’re Clueless by Liz Czukas
Snow Like Ashes by Sara Raasch
Princess of Thorns by Stacey Jay
This Shattered World by Amie Kaufman and Meagan Spooner
Impulse by Vanessa Garden

So, let’s chat! Have you read any of these? Did you love them? Hate them? Are there any I need to move to the top of my TBR? Let me know! And if you leave me a link to your list, I’ll be sure to stop by and leave my opinions as well. :)


The Conspiracy of Us by Maggie Hall | 2015 Debut Book Review

January 12, 2015 Book Review, Young Adult 10 ★★★★★

The Conspiracy of Us by Maggie Hall | 2015 Debut Book ReviewThe Conspiracy of Us by Maggie Hall
Published by Putnam Juvenile on January 13, 2015
Genres: Contemporary, Mystery, Romance, Thriller
Pages: 336
Format: Hardcover
Source: From the Publisher
Amazon Add to Goodreads
5 Stars
To fight her destiny as the missing heir to a powerful and dangerous secret society, sixteen-year-old Avery West must solve an ancient puzzle in a deadly race across Europe. Forbidden love and code-breaking, masked balls and explosions, destiny and dark secrets collide in this romantic thriller, in the vein of a YA DaVinci Code.

Avery West's newfound family can shut down Prada at the Champs-Elysees when they want to shop in peace, and can just as easily order a bombing when they want to start a war.

They are part of a powerful and dangerous secret society called the Circle of Twelve, and Avery is their missing heir. If they discover who she is, some of them will want to use her as a pawn. Some will want her dead.

To thwart their plans, Avery must follow a trail of clues from the landmarks of Paris to the back alleys of Istanbul and through a web of ancient legends and lies. And unless she can stay one step ahead of beautiful, volatile Stellan, who knows she’s more than she seems, and can decide whether to trust mysterious, magnetic Jack, she may be doomed after all.

I’ve always had this weird interest in conspiracy theories. Now, I’m not some paranoid theorist, but I find these theories very entertaining to read about. So naturally, The Conspiracy of Us had me very intrigued from the get go. And when I read that is was being compared to The Da Vinci Code, I was even more excited! I ended up LOVING this book, and am so excited to read more from debut author, Maggie Hall! As always, my main points are bolded. :)

1. I learned very quickly that I would need to suspend a little disbelief in order to immerse myself in the story. Avery is 16 years old, so I found it to be a little unbelievable that she was so valuable and in so much danger, with so many people out to kill her. We’re not given a ton of details in the beginning, so just roll with it and Maggie Hall will convince you. The story ended up being pretty fantastic, and I believed all of it.

2. The world in this story is amazingly secretive and interesting. The Conspiracy of Us is contemporary, but with this underlying mystery that is believable and unbelievable at the same time. Basically, The Circle of Twelve is a group of twelve families who rule the world. They have family members in every government system, in every country, and in pretty much every facet of life. You think you know why WWI happened, but you’re wrong. It was because of dueling families. And these families go all the way back to Alexander the Great and Napoleon. I loved learning about all these secrets and mysteries of the world. Everything fits together in a really complicated puzzle that was so much fun to try and put together.

3. The Conspiracy of Us is FILLED with action and excitement. I flew through this book because there was never a good stopping point! Crazy things happen back to back to back, and I barely had time to catch my breath.

4. I loved the travel aspect. We bounce around Paris and Istanbul, and I loved it! Things happen in Notre Dame and at the Hagia Sophia. I’ve been to Paris, so I loved revisiting, and now I want to go to Istanbul super bad.

5. The romance is pretty perfect. Jack is so swoony and perfect. Plus, he has a British accent. I mean, really. There is the one chapter that just had me melting. It was the sexiest, most tender, most romantic moment that I’ve ever read in young adult fiction.

6. Maggie’s writing is beautiful, and I just know she is going to become a strong facet of the young adult community. I was truly intoxicated by some of her passages, not to mention her vivid imagination.

7. I loved the characters, but Jack has stolen my heart. Holy swoonfest.

8. The Conspiracy of Us is fun and light, but also has some serious elements. The characters are flawed, and we get to learn about those flaws. I tend to love and connect with characters for their flaws because it makes them more real.

All in all, The Conspiracy of Us was my perfect book. I love the secrets, the mystery, the puzzle, the romance, the travel, the characters, the writing. I really can’t come up with a complaint, except that it’s not a standalone and I’m DYING for the next book! I recommend this to all fans of YA. There’s a little something for everyone. I’m so excited for Maggie, and hope she plans to stick around the YA scene for a long time.