Thursday, March 26, 2015

Tahleen gives two mini reviews



Tahleen here!

So I'm the worst and am only now getting my post up for today, and for that I'm sorry. I'm going to do a quick little review of the last few books I read, just enough to whet your appetites for some nice YA books.

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This one is a Morris Honor book for this year (for those of you who don't know, the Morris Award is given to the most outstanding YA debut of the year). Dragon slayer, you think; must be a high fantasy of some sort. Well, kinda. Not really.  It's more like urban (rural?) fantasy, set in a small town in Canada outside of Toronto. Just, dragons are normal here. And Owen is the nephew of the most famous Canadian dragon slayer since St. George, and the son of two more dragon slayers. He doesn't tell his own story though; that is Siobhan's job, a girl who turns out to be his bard.

What I liked about this book was Owen was just kind of this scrawny kid, who happened to be super famous by association with his Aunt Lottie, and because he was also training to be a dragon slayer (as is custom; the job is hereditary). It's a school story, but with dragons. And maybe a little outside investigation of possibly true nutso theories about the surge in the dragon population. The world Johnston has created here is very clever, so kudos!

That said, this one wasn't my very favorite book ever, and it took me a loooooong time to get through it. Speaking of the end, though, it was pretty abrupt and part of me is wondering if another one is in the works. It could go either way the way this one ended, to be honest. I was also annoyed to see some typos in there, but what can you do.

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Yay, it's Annith's turn to get a story! Quick catch-up: This trilogy is about assassin nuns of the convent of St. Mortain, god of death, in 15th-century Brittany. These ladies are pretty intense.

 Annith, to escape the Abbess's plot to make her the next Seeress of the convent of St. Mortain, has escaped to the wider world and quickly gets caught up in a band of Hellequin, dead men who serve the god of death in order to atone for sins they committed in life. She falls for Balthazar, their broody dark leader, but worries they are indeed hunting her because of her choice to abandon the convent. So once again she escapes, and finds her way to her sisters Ismae and Sybella who are serving the Duchess of Brittany in their attempt to keep their country free and safe.

We get some doozy revelations here, so I won't say a whole lot, but I thought this was a fitting end to a well-written trilogy. This one did start to feel a little long toward the end, but everything wrapped up well, so I can't complain too much. I especially liked the author's note at the end, providing readers with fact vs. fiction has far as history is concerned. Gold star for that.

Quick note on the audio version of this: I didn't think it was particularly good, but not awful. It wasn't as good as the second book's narration (excellently done), and it was not as bad as the first. So, whatever. It got the job done and I'm happy.

Did you read either of these? What did you think?

Disclaimer: I got these books from my local library (and you should too!)

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Julia's on Vacation - Tell Me about Yours

Me on my balcony in Maui

Today I actually have a backlog of three books that I could write reviews for, all of which I liked at least, Every Day, Three Weeks with Lady X and The Silkworm. But unfortunately for you guys I am on vacation and want to sit out in the sun and read instead of write up a review. Sorry about that all.

So instead, while I bask in the Maui sun and jump of waterfalls (I screamed like a girl once I worked up the courage to jump!), I want you guys to talk about the upcoming spring and summer months. Who is going on some cool vacations? Tell us about them!

This vacation is the first family vacation we have been on together in seven years. I am super stoked to leave the cold Ohio winter-spring season to burn all of my skin off in the Hawaii sun. I got so red between snorkeling and whale watching. Anyway, that's enough about me. What about you guys?

Tell me about your upcoming or recent vacations. If you don't have any planned, tell me about your dream vacations!


Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Top Ten Tuesday -- Ten Books From Our Childhood/Teen Years We'd Like To Revisit


For future Top Ten Tuesday topics & info on how to participate, click here!


We've talked favorite childhood books and the ones you WISH you read as a kid a while ago on Top Ten Tuesday so we figured it was high time to talk about the ones we would want to revisit.



Tahleen's Picks

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1. A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L'Engle and the rest of the Time Quartet. Every once in a while I feel the urge to reread this classic, beloved by me and many other readers out there. I feel like I gain something new each time, and it's like catching up with an old friend.

Sammy Keyes and the Hotel Thief

2. The Sammy Keyes series by Wendelin van Draanen. I started reading this series in 6th grade, and I still love it. It has been a while since I read one of them, though, and it might be time for me to pick up where I left off.

Bridget's Picks 


3. The Baby-Sitters Club series by Ann M. Martin (and various ghostwriters). I loved these books growing up; I actually read them well into high school as a break from the drudgery of school when I needed something mindless and easy. If I could find my old collection I'd totally read them again.


4. Nancy Drew!! I used to read the crap out of these—and my love of them was actually inspired by Claudia Kishi's collection in The Baby-Sitters Club. I would read these too if I could find them; I don't know what happened to my collection, unfortunately, but I had a whole bunch of them!

Jamie's Picks



5. The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath: I read this book my senior year and I'd love to revisit it. It was the kind of book I read at the right time and it saved me.



6. Catcher in the Rye by JD Salinger: I LOVED THIS BOOK AS A TEEN. I want to know what adult Jamie would think. I also want to reread Franny and Zooey but that was a college read so technically doesn't fit!




7. The Boxcar Children series: I LOVED THESE BOOKS. SO MUCH.




8. The Crucible by Arthur Miller: I remember loving this in high school and I wonder if it was the book or the amazing English teacher I had.



9. Blubber by Judy Blume: I loved all Judy Blume's books but I remember this was the first one I ever read.


10. Sweet Valley High books: I LOVED THIS SERIES. I read it as a pre-teen and wanted to live in those books.



Tell us YOUR favorite childhood faves that you would love to revisit!








Monday, March 23, 2015

Jana has no clue when it comes to YA Manga. Help!!

As you know, I'm currently in grad school to get my master's degree in library and information science. This semester I'm taking a YA Lit class. If you're interested in seeing the list of required reads for this class, click here!

Anyway, I'm hoping you can help me with my reading choices for week 10: graphically speaking. Here's that week's reading list:

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
Blankets by Craig Thompson.

Plus: Read a single YA manga title of your choice.

Feel free to comment on any of the books from the list I have to choose two from. I would LOVE your opinions.

My biggest issues here, though, is the single YA manga of my choice. I'm at a complete loss. I've never read manga, never seen it... I barely know what it is! So, can you help me? Tell me what to read!

Friday, March 20, 2015

Lori Reviews WILD by Cheryl Strayed

Title:  Wild:  From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail

Author:  Cheryl Strayed

Publication Information:  2012 by Knopf

How I Got This Book:  I purchased a copy online.


Goodreads Synopsis:  At twenty-two, Cheryl Strayed thought she had lost everything. In the wake of her mother’s death, her family scattered and her own marriage was soon destroyed. Four years later, with nothing more to lose, she made the most impulsive decision of her life. With no experience or training, driven only by blind will, she would hike more than a thousand miles of the Pacific Crest Trail from the Mojave Desert through California and Oregon to Washington State — and she would do it alone.

My Thoughts:  I loved this book.  Go read it.  :)

Oh, you want more than that?  OK, fine...

A lot has been said about the risks Strayed took in hiking the trail alone, without any sort of training ahead of time, and without much of a clue as to what to expect.  OK, yes.  Probably not the best idea in the world.  But I looked past all of that towards the personal journey she was on.

The first part of the book details Strayed's past and how she got to the point of hiking the trail.  She had an unusual childhood in a very primitive house.  Her mom got sick and it destroyed her and her family.  She went down a negative path, filled with drugs and lots of promiscuous sex, which led to the breakup of her marriage.

She decides to hike the Pacific Crest Trail as a way to finding a path to redemption.

She learns a lot about herself along the way.

I've had a year filled with a lot of change and a lot of grief--quitting a job, moving, caring for my grandfather while he was in the hospital, and then losing him.  There were tons of moments along the way where I wanted to just run away and do something so physically taxing that I could leave behind all of the emotions.  Like Strayed, I wanted to be so consumed with the very act of making it through the day that I couldn't focus on what was going on in my regular life.  Reading about Strayed's own journey helped me process a lot of things.

I loved how open and honest and raw her writing was.  She let it all out there, warts and all.  She spoke in a voice I was able to relate to, though I have not had the same struggles or experiences she has had.

Aside from the personal, inner journey, I loved reading about the outer journey of hiking that kind of distance.  I really enjoyed reading Bill Bryson's journey through the Appalachian Trail in A Walk in the Woods.  It appealed to my inner travel bug.  So much so that I told my mom that I want to go on a major hiking trip at some point.  And so much so that I am hitting a local trail this afternoon.

Bottom line--for my this book was appealing on more than one level and I would highly recommend it to people interested in the physical adventure and to people interested in the inner journey.  Not a "fun" read (in the sense of light), but definitely a good read that will make you think.

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Daisy Asks For Your Fluffy Contemporary Recs!


Ok guys, I've asked you for recommendations before, and obviously you're all awesome at this! So now I REALLY need more fluffy contemporaries in my life and I'm asking you to tell me what I should be reading. I want cute and aww-inspiring and swoony and just something that will make me smile. I prefer YA or NA, but if you have a good adult rec, that's fine too :)

If you're interested in my Goodreads shelves, you can find them here.

Thanks!

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Top Ten Tuesday -- Books On Our Spring TBR List!


For future Top Ten Tuesday topics & info on how to participate, click here!

Daisy's Picks


A Court of Thorns and Roses by Sarah J. Maas: I know so many people have already read this, but I'm not one of them and I cannot wait for my copy to get here to so I can meet all of these characters that everyone keeps raving about!

The Fill-In Boyfriend by Kasie West: Give me a fake relationship any day and I'll be a happy reader. Especially if it's written by Kasie West, cause she's awesome.

The Novice by Taran Matharu: this sounds like the start of an epic fantasy series and OMG that cover is just GORGEOUS!

The Invasion of the Tearling by Erika Johansen: I need this in my life after loving The Queen of the Tearling last year!

An Ember in the Ashes by Sabaa Tahir: it's a Rome-like world combined with fantasy goodness, OF COURSE I'M IN!


Tahleen's Picks

The Shadow Cabinet by Maureen Johnson: I've been waiting for this one to come out since I read the last book in the series, The Madness Underneath. I was super disappointed in the ending of that one, but I was told by a very reliable source that this one was better. Here's hoping!

Jackaby by William Ritter: I started this one a couple of months ago and enjoyed it, but things happened and I put it down for a bit. Then I saw it was going to be a Forever Young Adult book club pick in a few months, so I figured I'd wait to read it until then. It's sort of like Sherlock Holmes, but with paranormal stuff, a female Watson, and in late 19th-century America.


Jana's Picks

The Winner's Crime by Marie Rutkoski: I LOVED The Winner's Curse, and can't wait for the next one! I've had it for ages, I've just been so busy with school. Next week is Spring Break for me, and I plan to enjoy it!

The Heart of Betrayal by Mary E. Pearson: Pretty much ditto to my reasoning above. The Kiss of Deception is one of my favorite books ever, and I'm planning to read this one as soon as I'm done with my current read!

The Orphan Queen by Jodi Meadows: I've been hearing that this book might ruin me, but I love Jodi so much that I don't even care!








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