Monthly Archives: June 2014

ARC Review – The Fever: A Novel by Megan Abbott

18822308Title: The Fever

Author: Megan Abbott

Rating: ★★★ 1/2

Synopsis: The Nash family is close-knit. Tom is a popular teacher, father of two teens: Eli, a hockey star and girl magnet, and his sister Deenie, a diligent student. Their seeming stability, however, is thrown into chaos when Deenie’s best friend is struck by a terrifying, unexplained seizure in class. Rumors of a hazardous outbreak spread through the family, school and community.

As hysteria and contagion swell, a series of tightly held secrets emerges, threatening to unravel friendships, families and the town’s fragile idea of security.

Huge thank you to Little, Brown Books for Young Readers and Edelweiss for this ARC!

River’s Review:

I FLEW through this book. I really wanted to know what was causing all of the girls to get sick and in the end it wasn’t what I expected. I went back and forth between an actual virus/bacteria and the supernatural.

Basically, this book drags you in with it’s intrigue and holds you close with the tension. Why are all the girls dropping like flies? What’s causing it? Is Deenie the common factor? The lake? Something more?

I kept reading to have all of these questions answered and the answers were satisfactory, but just not what I was expecting.

Also, a lot of the reviews claim this is a ‘mean girl’ book but it doesn’t even really get like that until the very end. And even that wasn’t very ‘mean girl’-sh. I expect mean girl books to be like Courtney Summers books. THOSE are mean girl books.

The writing in this is dense, and sometimes I didn’t jive with it too well. I love beautiful writing, metaphors, similes, what have you. But sometimes the ones in this book just hit me at odd angles and didn’t work with me.

Overall I liked this book, but it didn’t quite deliver what I was hoping it would.

Book Ban – Completed!

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Not all of the books I read are featured here. 😦

So the book ban finished on the 1st of June, but I was away from my computer then. In fact, I was still in Disney World, the happiest place on earth (and I had a great time). Honestly this was a great experiment and I only broke my ban once (for the low price point of $3 to support Melissa Giorgio’s newest release, which I then read and nearly threw my Kindle because that ending broke my heart). I did successfully read fifteen books, but I failed to diversify a lot of what I read, but truthfully I don’t care.

I succeed at my goal and I made a dent my physical backlog which was the important thing. I’m not going to go into intense detail about what I completed but you can see what I finished on this Goodreads shelf.

Overall this was a positive experience to blog about. I was motivated and I proved to myself that I could avoid the temptations of getting all the books from the library or buying all the books at the store. Since the ban was lifted I only bought one new book (The last of the Never series by Lesley Livingston) and I’ve managed to not buy anything else. I did go the library and I took out ten books, but I’m actually going to pace my reading of those ten books (I’ve read all the graphic novels so seven books to read!). I want to keep this up though and just keep pushing through what I own. I will get better with this, but the big thing is pacing one’s self. If I had all the money in the world, I’d support authors, but it’s not the most viable reality at this moment, so the library has been very helpful as has galleys.

I want to see if I can push through and knock out more from my backlog. At some point then I want to go and sell off/donate more of my books, especially the ones I know I’m not going to read again or loan out. Those books need a good home too, y’know?

I definitely think I will do this again next year. Book bans are hard, but can be successful if it means you’re working through your backlog and finding what you love and what you’re okay with parting with.

Hope you all enjoyed reading my progress. I would love to hear other people’s stories of how they dealt with book bans or restraining themselves from spending all the money at the book store.

ARC Review – Child of a Hidden Sea by A.M. Dellamonica

18490629Title:  Child of a Hidden Sea

Author: A.M. Dellamonica

Rating: ★★★★

Synopsis: One minute, twenty-four-year-old Sophie Hansa is in a San Francisco alley trying to save the life of the aunt she has never known. The next, she finds herself flung into the warm and salty waters of an unfamiliar world. Glowing moths fall to the waves around her, and the sleek bodies of unseen fish glide against her submerged ankles. The world is Stormwrack, a series of island nations with a variety of cultures and economies—and a language different from any Sophie has heard.

Sophie doesn’t know it yet, but she has just stepped into the middle of a political firestorm, and a conspiracy that could destroy a world she has just discovered… her world, where everyone seems to know who she is, and where she is forbidden to stay.

But Sophie is stubborn, and smart, and refuses to be cast adrift by people who don’t know her and yet wish her gone. With the help of a sister she has never known, and a ship captain who would rather she had never arrived, she must navigate the shoals of the highly charged politics of Stormwrack, and win the right to decide for herself whether she stays in this wondrous world . . . or is doomed to exile.

Huge thank you to Tor and Netgalley for this ARC!

Sam’s Review:

Huge thank you to Tor and Netgalley for this ARC!

I’ve been having trouble trying to put into words why I enjoyed Child of a Hidden Sea. Timeslip novels are so difficult to do because they need to have some believability, but we all know how incredibly unrealistic they are as well. Usually what I factor is into is “do I want to timeslip back into this world again” and in the case of A.M Dellamoncia’s Stormwrack, the yes is unabashedly yes.

A.M Dellamoncia creates a strong and rich world in this novel, and one that is easy to visualize and sensationalize as well. You get a sense of how the water may smell, how the air is, how vivid towns and cities are, and she immerses the reader in all of this without much difficultly. Furthermore, she fleshes out the characters so well, as it’s easy to enjoy Sophie’s antics, or the mysteries surrounding the various deaths within Stormwrack. There’s a surprisingly number of them!

I like stories they do a great job of making the reader feel included. The only downside to this book I found was that sometimes the writing was a bit vague or confusing, and I know I had to reread bits to ensure I understood what was happening. There’s also a lot of telling in sections where I feel more showing would have benefited. The balance is not the best, but I don’t feel it makes the book so weak that it’s unreadable.

Overall, I can say that I had a lot of fun reading Child of a Hidden Sea. The mystery elements with the added layer of fantasy and magic just made for such a fun voyage. Also sailing! Politics! And Bram. Bram is a fantastic character, and easily my favourite. This is a great adventure, and if you want something that will whisk you away, check this book out when it releases.

ARC Review – Illusive by Emily Lloyd-Jones

18803174Title: Illusive

Author: Emily Lloyd-Jones

Rating: ★★★★

Synopsis: When the MK virus swept across the planet, a vaccine was created to stop the epidemic, but it came with some unexpected side effects. A small percentage of the population developed superhero-like powers. Seventeen-year-old Ciere Giba has the handy ability to change her appearance at will. She’s what’s known as an illusionist…She’s also a thief.

After a robbery goes awry, Ciere must team up with a group of fellow super-powered criminals on another job that most would consider too reckless. The formula for the vaccine that gave them their abilities was supposedly destroyed years ago. But what if it wasn’t?

The lines between good and bad, us and them, and freedom and entrapment are blurred as Ciere and the rest of her crew become embroiled in a deadly race against he government that could cost them their lives.

Huge thank you to Little, Brown Books for Young Readers and Edelweiss for this ARC!

River’s Review:

I really liked this, but there was a little something missing that prevented me from giving it a full five stars. And towards the end I started to get fatigued a bit and felt like I just wanted things to hurry up and wrap up. I have a feeling there could be a book after this and I kinda hope there is! I would love to learn more about everyone and find out what Ciere’s fate is.

Overall this book is really good. The immunities, virus, and vaccine were a little confusing (well, more than a little, but I just gave up on trying to totally figure it all out), and keeping track of the different powers was also a little too much for me. The names for everything, while clever, were difficult to remember.

But I liked the story, I liked their powers, and I liked the dialogue. Everything and everyone was so sassy and sexy. I would LOVE to see this as a movie.

Review – Full Colour Cromulence (By Crom! Book 2) by Rachel Kahn

Web_CoverTitle:  Full Colour Cromulence (By Crom! Book 2)

Author: Rachel Kahn

Rating: ★★★★★

Huge thank you to Rachel Kahn for this advance reader copy!

Sam’s Review:

So I have a confession to make: my spouse regularly games with Rachel Kahn so I always get the second hand fun that comes from the gaming sessions and what’s been going down on the Crom-ness. In any case, I love By Crom! and I love the idea that people can have a fictional spirit guide that is their voice of reason, understanding, and of course, inner strength. It’s hard not to love these comics as they deal with real world issues with a touch of Conan’s wise-wisdom of how our heroine should go about her day.

The art in these comics and beautiful and so expressive. I think what I love more is just how much I smile and laugh when I read these. There’s just so much honesty and that always seems to go a long way with me. The only thing that made me sad? Not enough Sam the dog. However, there is a Sam paper doll in the back of the book that I may have to print off, colour in and stick on my desk.

This second installment of By Crom! is worth every penny, and it’s worth supporting. If you want to buy it, you can grab it Big Cartel or check out all of Rachel’s comics here. And just to show you that I am not kidding about how awesome By Crom! is, have a strip to read because Rachel is awesauce.

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ARC Review – Chasing the Milky Way by Erin E. Moulton

18371361Title:  Chasing the Milky Way

Author: Erin E. Moulton

Rating: ★★★★★

Synopsis: Lucy Peevy has a dream–to get out of the trailer park she lives in and become a famous scientist. And she’s already figured out how to do that: Build a robot that will win a cash prize at the BotBlock competition and save it for college. But when you’ve got a mama who doesn’t always take her meds, it’s not easy to achieve those goals. Especially when Lucy’s mama takes her, her baby sister Izzy, and their neighbor Cam away in her convertible, bound for parts unknown. But Lucy, Izzy and Cam are good at sticking together, and even better at solving problems. But not all problems have the best solutions, and Lucy and Izzy must face the one thing they’re scared of even more than Mama’s moods: living without her at all.

Huge thank you to Razorbill CA/Philomel for this ARC!

Sam’s Review:

Chasing the Milky Way may be one of the best stories I’ve read that deals with mental illness as a prime focus. The book follows Lucy, a budding scientist at the age of twelve, who has to grow up a little faster than the other kids because her Mama isn’t quite all there. Refusing to take her meds, and being… all out frustrating, Lucy questions what it means to dream, when her reality is something she is struggling to change where and now.

I loved reading about the relationship between Lucy, Mama and Grammie. Throughout the books you’d get these italicized bits that really looked deeper into how these three woman all co-existed, especially Grammie and Mama in the treatment and raising of Lucy. There’s so much emotion within these sections, especially the fighting and aggression. Lucy functions as an observer throughout the text, and she’s watching her Mama come a part at the seams. It’s heartbreaking and raw, and I think many of us understand and have been in this kind of situation — sometimes you just never know how you should respond.

I think what I equally loved about this book is the maturity aspect. This is a middle grade novel, but it’s one that feels light-years ahead in terms of the overall themes and concepts. Lucy is very intelligent and mature for her age, yet she responds in the way any twelve year old might when encountering mental illness — she attempts to rationalize it. But coming to terms with mental illness is never that simple, and I love how Lucy tries to find logic in her situation when there’s no easy way to respond to it. All her feelings are so real and that made the connection is.

And then there’s Mama. So frustrating and aggravating, and even hateful at times. There were moments where I should have hated her — hated the treatment of her daughter and mother, and yet I couldn’t. I just couldn’t hate this woman with good conscience because of her desperation — her need for help but her lack of acceptance and will to find it. There are so many people like this, and you always want to hope that they do get the help they rightfully need, but it’s not as simple as we think it is, and the book does an amazing job illustrating that point.

I was captured by Chasing the Milky Way from the very first page. Erin E. Moulton has crafted some wonderfully real characters who feel so human in how they respond to the world around them. Lucy is the kind of dreamer where you want all the good to happen to her, and the ending is so bitter sweet that when you get there, there’s almost this sigh of relief. This is one emotionally little book and one middle grade read that definitely should be on your radar.

Also Lucy wants to build robots. BEST CHILD EVER.

SIT DOWN! SHUT UP! READ THIS! – June Edition

So River and I decided that June was a free-for-all month (well for River, as she’s stated she’s going to read what she feels like between now and when she moves, I’m waffling back and forth between a schedule and being like, to hell with it). But we decided to do a monthly no pressure feature called “Book Swap!” where we pick a book for each other that is in our backlogs and we go “READ IT!” at each other. At the end of the month, we’ll tell you how it went. This is a low pressure feature, so if we decided to DNF or bail, it’s totes allowed, no judgement and all that candy corn jazz. We even have special Goodreads shelves for crazy silly things like this and I love that River always plays along with my silly. Her shelf is totally “did-it-for-the-sammy” and mine for her is “river-made-me-do-it.” We have all the love for each other!

On with the book selections! So here’s what I selected for River…

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Get Well Soon by Julie Halpern

So I was in love with The F-it List last year, so much so that I beg/screamed/flailed/demanded that River read it, and she did (because I am a brat). I read this book earlier in the year and it was a quick read with the same signature sarcastic humor that Halpern’s heroines have. Hopefully River enjoys it (if not, she can give me crap and be like SAMMERS YOU STINK!)

And River’s pick for me…

17623143Dangerous Girls by Abigail Haas

This should be no surprise as this was the Christmas gift I got from my co-blogger and I am a jerk who hasn’t read it yet. It’s also one of River’s favourite books from last year! Plus she said I will probably get completely sucked in and then read it in a day. Those are seriously my favourite kind of books. Also this seems to have pretty-ugly-people which, if you notice on this blog, is something River and I lovelovelove. We can’t help it, we like reading about shitty people doing shitty things. It’s our thing, what can I say?

Have you read any of these? Think they are good picks/bad picks/omg why aren’t you guys reading The Fault in Our Stars right now picks? Let us know in the comments, and we’ll let you know what WE think at the end of the month.

ARC Review – (Don’t You) Forget About Me by Kate Karyus Quinn

18820442Title:  (Don’t You) Forget About Me

Author: Kate Karyus Quinn

Rating: ★★★★★

Synopsis: Welcome to Gardnerville. A place where no one gets sick. And no one ever dies. Except… There’s a price to pay for paradise. Every fourth year, the strange power that fuels the town exacts its payment by infecting teens with deadly urges. In a normal year in Gardnerville, teens might stop talking to their best friends. In a fourth year, they’d kill them. Four years ago, Skylar’s sister, Piper, was locked away after leading sixteen of her classmates to a watery grave. Since then, Skylar has lived in a numb haze, struggling to forget her past and dull the pain of losing her sister. But the secrets and memories Piper left behind keep taunting Skylar—whispering that the only way to get her sister back is to stop Gardnerville’s murderous cycle once and for all.

River’s Review (5 Stars)

Huge thank you to the publisher for letting me read an advanced copy of this. Writing this honest review to say thank you!

Sometimes I love a book and I don’t know why. This is one of those times. I liked Quinn’s debut novel a whole lot, but I didn’t love it like I loved this. As one of my most anticipated 2014 reads, I was SO pleased that this novel didn’t let me down.

But I’m not sure that I can pin down just what made me love this so much.

It might have been a combination of the present day sections and the flashbacks. I love when the time line is played around with in a story. I loved that parts of the story were told to the missing sister. I loved the sister relationship. And I loved how everyone just accepted how weird the town was. How children having powers and going crazy was just a part of life. And how the novel didn’t just TELL us about it, but rather wove the madness and strangeness in.

I loved how subtle Foote was. The very quite romance that was just another strand woven into this strange web. I liked how dark and weird it was. And I love love loved how beautiful the writing was.

The blurb for this book does not do it justice.

So just go into this with no expectations and enjoy the strange craziness.

 

River & Sam’s Fave Books of May

Another month has ended and a new one has begun again. River and I have been eyeing so many books for the month of June that we want to read, and we’ve talked about it a few times — we’re pretty sure our ARC schedule is going to go out the win this month what with all the fantastic books that have recently released or are coming soon (Can I have Ruin and Rising yet?). Let’s take a look back though at our favourite reads for May.

River’s Pick:

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Pills and Starships by Lydia Millet

So, I half expected River to pick something like #scandal or Say What You Will and yet I feel like I shouldn’t be surprised by this choice. Pills and Starships has a synopsis that just sounds to crazy to be real in some cases, and I love that cover. It makes me think of the Fallout series (the video games that is) based on the premise alone, and that definitely makes me want to check it out. SO CRAZY.

Sam’s Pick:

13206828Cress by Marissa Meyer

I had an amazing reading month in May and I struggled to pick something because I handed out a few fives with Summer Days, Starry Nights and The Unbounded topping my list, but Cress wins for being an almost six hundred page novel that kept my interest the whole way through. I find when I read chunky books my focus isn’t always there, let’s face it, chunky books demand a lot of attention because there’s always so much going on, though it’s also the worst offender for hundreds of pages of nothing happening too. I loved Cress and the characters were just so wonderfully engaging (the new ones, I mean, the old ones are still awesome), and just, I love this world. I don’t want it to end, but next year  it’s going to.

So there you have it! What was your stand out read in May? Let us know in the comments!

River — Hiatus

Lately I haven’t felt like blogging. Well, I haven’t felt like book blogging. I’ve felt like writing, but the effort of having to think of something clever to post, or interesting to write about just… isn’t in me. And finding images or book covers to go with the post… it’s just a lot of work that I don’t feel like doing. I feel a lot of pressure to be good at blogging sometimes and lately I just… haven’t. Sam is amazing and keeps things running and I cannot thank her enough. I feel like she is really owning things over here.

The thing is… I just want to read. I don’t want to always have to post a review that is worthy of being posted. I do put them up on goodreads and submit them for review because I want to keep my flow of ARCs coming. But sometimes I just can’t be bothered.

With my move back to the USA coming up in less than two months (I return to the land of the free on July 24th) I feel like I am constantly having a stroke. There is just SO much to do. Not only do I have to figure out how to leave Japan and go to the USA, I have to figure out how to live in the USA again after having been gone for seven years. With a husband who has never lived in the USA. With a husband who is going to be going to one of the most difficult graduate schools in the world. In a tiny apartment in a new city. Guys, I’ve never actually lived in a big city in the USA before. Isn’t it stupid? I’ve lived in freaking TOKYO, one of the biggest cities IN THE WORLD and I’m worried about living in Boston.

I am SO excited. You have no idea how excited I am. But I am also ready for this to all just be DONE. I want to be finished selling and throwing away my furniture. I want to be done packing, I want to be done flying. I want to be in Boston, I want my husband to be signed up for classes and have a schedule. I want to know where the grocery store is. I want to have a job and an income. I want to have my new eye doctor. I want to be settled and not have to move FOR THE NEXT FIVE YEARS.

So yes, I am reading. Yes I am reviewing. But I’m going off my ARC schedule. I’m taking a break from blogging. I need to just get these next 3-4 months out of the way and then I can get back to enjoying my life and doing the things that I want to do, not only the things that I need to do.

And with that I will hand things over to Sam. Please be kind to her as she takes over for me yet again. And I promise that when I see her next I will pummel her with hugs and hand the books over gently as to not harm her.

I will leave you with this, http://safeaslife.wordpress.com/, something I made. I might randomly update, or I might update a lot. I wanted to write on here about moving and Boston, but sometimes I feel like this blog has shifted so much into the book blogging world that maybe it’s no longer a place where I can just babble about random stuff. So here’s a personal blog, do with that what you will.