A Court of Thorns and Roses by Sarah J. Maas was everything I hoped it would be. Coming from the author of the Throne of Glass series, my expectations were very high and I was not disappointed. Anyone who is a fan of Maas, which really should be everyone, or is looking for a love story in a magical setting, should pick-up A Court of Thorns and Roses.
Gathering Blue by Lois Lowry is a haunting, well-written book that deserves all the praise it receives. It is a companion to The Giver, I assume in the same universe but it is difficult to tell if it is the same time. Gathering Blue follows Kira, after her mother dies, as she finds her place in society.
Kira has a great skill with thread which saves her and gives her a new opportunity to elevate her position. She is housed with other artists and they spend their days working on their craft. The simple and clean prose moves the story along perfectly as we began to see that everything is not as it seems.
Gathering Blue by Lois Lowry is extremely well-written and touches on values such as friendship, self-reliance, and bravery. It is difficult to put down and left this reader feeling introspective. I highly recommend Gathering Blue Lois Lowry to anyone who enjoys Dystopian and those who enjoy a story with a gradual build.
Cover image and summary from goodreads.
The Farm by Emily McKay is one of those books that I missed when it first came out. Luckily, my local library is excellent and I found it on the New Book shelf. I am very glad I decided to pick it up.
The Farm uses alternative points-of-view of Lily and Mel, twin sisters who are being held on a work camp of sorts, after an illness that turns people into monsters is released. The monsters, called Ticks because of their propensity for blood, are particularly attracted to the young and thus they are being held for their own safety. Lily and Mel are getting close to their 18th birthday and Lily is certain they have to leave before then.
Mel is autistic and Lily feels responsible for her. I truly enjoyed the chapters written from Mel’s point-of-view because diversity is always good and she tended to think in riddles. Very interesting to see inside the head of a character who thinks in such a different way than most.
Carter showing up changes everything. He helps both girls escape and they are eventually pulled in to a greater plot of what is really going on in this world. We are also treated to a little mystery about who to trust and what people are willing to do to survive.
I love how action packed The Farm is. There are a lot of fight scenes and a touch of gore. The Farm is a great twist on the dystopian genre, mixing in some horror with a bit of a love story. It is definitely a book that you can read in a sitting.
The Farm by Emily McKay is an action-packed, creepy dystopian book that has great pacing. I could not put it down and am so glad that there is a sequel. I highly recommend The Farm by Emily McKay.
Cover image and summary from goodreads.
Title: Far Far Away
Author: Tom McNeal
Publisher: Knopf Books For Young Readers
Publication Date: June 11, 2013
Genre: Young Adult, Fairy Tale
It says quite a lot about Jeremy Johnson Johnson that the strangest thing about him isn’t even the fact his mother and father both had the same last name. Jeremy once admitted he’s able to hear voices, and the townspeople of Never Better have treated him like an outsider since. After his mother left, his father became a recluse, and it’s been up to Jeremy to support the family. But it hasn’t been up to Jeremy alone. The truth is, Jeremy can hear voices. Or, specifically, one voice: the voice of the ghost of Jacob Grimm, one half of the infamous writing duo, The Brothers Grimm. Jacob watches over Jeremy, protecting him from an unknown dark evil whispered about in the space between this world and the next. But when the provocative local girl Ginger Boultinghouse takes an interest in Jeremy (and his unique abilities), a grim chain of events is put into motion. And as anyone familiar with the Grimm Brothers know, not all fairy tales have happy endings. . .
Far Far Away by Tom McNeal is very unique. It has the feel of a fairy tale. It is difficult to place the time when the book takes place and this timeless aspect is very well done. The book is full of quirky characters, none more that Jeremy Johnson Johnson who is obsessed with fairy tales and whom the ghost of Jacob Grimm is a pseudo-father figure.
The town of Never Better has that otherworldly feel to it. Filled with odd characters that are mostly likeable, especially the very spunky Ginger Boultinghouse. Ginger and her adventures take Jeremy down a path that is both dark and dangerous. The towns secrets are eventually revealed and we start to see people as they are.
Overall, Far Far Away by Tom McNeal is very enjoyable. The story itself is compelling and the writing is very strong. The problem I had with Far Far Away is how annoying Jacob Grimm is. I did not enjoy this ghost narrating much of the story and could not bring myself to like the character at all. Eventually, as more is revealed about Jacob, he becomes a bit more likeable but overall I could have used with less of him in the book.
Far Far Away will be a delight for fairy tale fans because it does an excellent job of capturing the feel of a fairy tale. The darkness that lurks beneath the surface. The ending is quite exciting and I truly enjoyed the later third of the book the most. Far Far Away by Tom McNeal is a solid choice for fairy tale fans and those that like a story that is a bit dark but not scary.
Cover images and summary from goodreads.
Title: Dirty Little Secret
Author: Jennifer Echols
Publisher: MTV Books
Publication Date: July 16, 2013
Source: Blog Tour
Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary
Bailey wasn’t always a wild child and the black sheep of her family. She used to play fiddle and tour the music circuit with her sister, Julie, who sang and played guitar. That ended when country music execs swooped in and signed Julie to a solo deal. Never mind that Julie and Bailey were a duet, or that Bailey was their songwriter. The music scouts wanted only Julie, and their parents were content to sit by and let her fulfill her dreams while Bailey’s were hushed away.
Bailey has tried to numb the pain and disappointment over what could have been. And as Julie’s debut album is set to hit the charts, her parents get fed up with Bailey’s antics and ship her off to granddad’s house in Nashville. Playing fiddle in washed-up tribute groups at the mall, Bailey meets Sam, a handsome and oh-so-persuasive guitarist with his own band. He knows Bailey’s fiddle playing is just the thing his band needs to break into the industry. But this life has broken Bailey’s heart once before. She isn’t sure she’s ready to let Sam take her there again…
Dirty Little Secret by Jennifer Echols has a lot of great elements in it. The Nashville setting, especially the scenes in the clubs, are interesting. It really gives you insight into what it takes to become big in a town full of talented musicians. The love story between Sam and Bailey get’s pretty steamy and I enjoyed how Jennifer Echols handled the sole sex scene. It is spicy without ever veering into cheesy territory.
I would have liked to have more of the family dynamic, especially between Bailey and her parents. It really does seem unnecessarily cruel when they ban her from playing her fiddle because of a few youthful indiscretions. I am not a parent, but it does seem like parenting 101 that when your child is making public, out of character mistakes, that they are often looking for attention. The fact that her parents instead decide to ignore her and focus solely on her sister, seems to cruel.
Dirty Little Secret by Jennifer Echols does touch on Sam’s dysfunctional relationship with his father. A man who never made it in Nashville, even though he is obviously talented. His character is almost used as a cautionary tale of what can happen when your dreams don’t come true and gives Sam some extra dimensions. Sam is interesting that he does have serious problems at home but is so focused and driven to success that he is willing to do anything.
Dirty Little Secret by Jennifer Echols is a solid read that music lovers will enjoy. There is humor and romance plus the added depths of dealing with familial dysfunction. I enjoyed Dirty Little Secret by Jennifer Echols and look forward to reading some of her other books.
Jennifer Echols was born in Atlanta and grew up in a small town on a beautiful lake in Alabama—a setting that has inspired many of her books. She has written nine romantic novels for young adults, including the comedy MAJOR CRUSH, which won the National Readers’ Choice Award, and the drama GOING TOO FAR, which was a finalist in the RITA, the National Readers’ Choice Award, and the Book Buyer’s Best, and was nominated by the American Library Association as a Best Book for Young Adults. Simon & Schuster will debut her adult romance novels in 2013, with many more teen novels scheduled for the next few years. She lives in Birmingham with her husband and her son.
I put a mix of older country, probably what Bailey and Sam played in the mall, with songs that capture a few important moments in Dirty Little Secret.
I was given a copy of Dirty Little Secret but all thoughts and opinions are my own.
What I added to my stacks (and stacks and stacks) this week. I am linking up with Stacking The Shelves by Tynga’s Reviews.
I am slowing down on the book buying front because my TBR mountain needs to be tackled. When you start to run out of shelf space, it means you need to read the books you own.
The Thinking Woman’s Guide To Real Magic by Emily Croy Barker
Nora Fischer’s dissertation is stalled and her boyfriend is about to marry another woman. During a miserable weekend at a friend’s wedding, Nora wanders off and walks through a portal into a different world where she’s transformed from a drab grad student into a stunning beauty. Before long, she has a set of glamorous new friends and her romance with gorgeous, masterful Raclin is heating up. It’s almost too good to be true.
Then the elegant veneer shatters. Nora’s new fantasy world turns darker, a fairy tale gone incredibly wrong. Making it here will take skills Nora never learned in graduate school. Her only real ally—and a reluctant one at that—is the magician Aruendiel, a grim, reclusive figure with a biting tongue and a shrouded past. And it will take her becoming Aruendiel’s student—and learning magic herself—to survive. When a passage home finally opens, Nora must weigh her “real life” against the dangerous power of love and magic.
The Thinking Woman’s Guide To Real Magic just sounds fun. I really do love magic in books and do not read enough of them with it. Also, the cover is very cool, seems to be filled with lots of hints at the plot.
What did you add to your stacks this week?
Summary and cover image taken from goodreads.
Title: Saving Ben
Author: Ashley Farley
Publication Date: January 31, 2013
Source: Blog Tour
Genre: New Adult, Contemporary Mystery
Life is sweet for Katherine Langley. A freshman at the University of Virginia, she is free from the drama of her parents’ dysfunctional marriage and ready to focus on studying to become a nurse. Her brother, Ben, belongs to the hottest fraternity on campus, and her new roommate, Emma, is beautiful and charming, a party girl whose answer for a hangover is happy hour. She is also a psychopath.
When Katherine’s obsessive-compulsive overprotective brother succumbs to Emma’s charms and falls dangerously off-track, Katherine must save Ben from himself. Lives are threatened and someone disappears on New Year’s Day. The only evidence left: a single set of footprints in the snow.
From the university campus to a cozy cottage on Carter’s Creek, Virginia, Saving Ben is a haunting tale of love and loyalty, anger management, substance abuse, and betrayal.
Saving Ben by Ashley Farley is really two stories. The first is the sibling relationship between Katherine and Ben. They are very close and always haven been. The second story is about Emma, who at first seems to be sweet and a little wild, but turns out to be someone with serious problems.
Emma and Ben begin a relationship which is pretty unhealthy from the start. In a short period of time, Ben starts to change. Katherine becomes very concern with Ben’s behavior and tries to help her brother anyway that she can. Emma not only effect’s Ben in a negative way but seems inflict damage on those closest to Katherine.
I found the beginning a bit on the slower side but Saving Ben really starts to pick-up towards the end. There is a mystery with a few twists and turns. The book errs on the side of tragic but does leave the reader with some hope. I enjoyed how Ashley Farley used her own life and relationship with her brother to shape the characters. Saving Ben by Ashley Farley is a solid choice if you enjoy the New Adult genre and are looking for a book that is not romance centered.
About The Author
I wrote a novel, SAVING BEN, in honor of my brother, the boy I worshipped, the man I could not save. It’s not a memoir, but a story about the special bond between siblings.
I’m a wife and mother of two teenagers. I have lived in Richmond, Virginia, for seventeen years, a city I love for its history and traditions. Personal experience with my brother inspired me to become involved with the leadership symposium in my son’s school where I’ve helped bring in speakers to raise parents’ awareness of the alcohol and drug problems children face. When I’m not steering volunteer committees or working on my next novel, I can be found swimming laps or playing tennis.
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I was given a copy of Saving Ben but all opinions are my own.
Top Ten Tuesday is hosted by The Broke and the Bookish. Each week they pick a fun topic for a top ten list. This weeks list is Top Ten Books Read In 2013.
The 5th Wave by Rick Yancey
Lives up to all the hype and I might sell my first born for a copy of book two.
The Lost Hero (The Heroes Of Olympus Book 1) by Rick Riordan
I love all of Rick Riordan’s books. Check back in 2014 and I am sure there will be another book written by Riordan on my list.
Code Name Verity by Elizabeth Wein
Haunting, inventive, and a non-stop thrill. Code Name Verity is amazing.
The Darkest Minds (The Darkest Minds #1) by Alexandra Bracken
Gritty and inventive with an ending that left me in tears.
Through The Ever Night (Under The Never Sky #2) by Veronica Rossi
The world Rossi creates is really cinematic and the love story between Perry and Aria is pitch-perfect.
The Cadet Of Tildor by Alex Lidell
I love High Fantasy and the political aspects of The Cadet Of Tildor drew me in. This is a strong debut and I am anxiously awaiting book two.
Where’d You Go, Bernadette by Maria Semple
This book is so funny and clever. The perfect vacation read.
Me, Earl, And The Dying Girl by Jesse Andrews
A laugh-out-loud read about a boy, his friend Earl, and a girl with cancer. It is a strange book but I loved every minute of it.
Prodigy (Legend #2) by Marie Lu
I loved every second of both books in the Legend series. Day and June just slay me.
The False Prince (The Ascendance Trilogy #1) by Jennifer A. Nielsen
I am such a sucker for Middle Grade books that when you through in a High Fantasy element, I will have to read it.
What are your favorite books of 2013?
Cover images from goodreads
Series: Paper Gods #1
Author: Amanda Sun
Publisher: Harlequin Teen
Publication Date: June 25, 2013
Genre: Young Adult, Paranormal
I looked down at the paper, still touching the tip of my shoe. I reached for it, flipping the page over to look.
Scrawls of ink outlined a drawing of a girl lying on a bench.
A sick feeling started to twist in my stomach, like motion sickness.
And then the girl in the drawing turned her head, and her inky eyes glared straight into mine.
On the heels of a family tragedy, the last thing Katie Greene wants to do is move halfway across the world. Stuck with her aunt in Shizuoka, Japan, Katie feels lost. Alone. She doesn’t know the language, she can barely hold a pair of chopsticks, and she can’t seem to get the hang of taking her shoes off whenever she enters a building.
Then there’s gorgeous but aloof Tomohiro, star of the school’s kendo team. How did he really get the scar on his arm? Katie isn’t prepared for the answer. But when she sees the things he draws start moving, there’s no denying the truth: Tomo has a connection to the ancient gods of Japan, and being near Katie is causing his abilities to spiral out of control. If the wrong people notice, they’ll both be targets.
I really wanted to like Ink by Amanda Sun but found the book problematic. The kiss of death for me, and the reason why I put the book down halfway into it, is insta-love. One page Katie is suspicious of Tomo and certain that he is a huge jerk (after having spoken to him two times) and the next page he is the person who understands her best. Yes, a tragic event in both of their lives could be the catalyst for this ridiculously quick love, but I just did not believe it.
When I am at the halfway point of a book, I know it is not going well if I do not care about the characters. The characters in Ink by Amanda Sun are not fleshed out. I never got the feel of Katie, even though I spent so many pages in her head. Katie has two friends from school, who should be more fleshed out but are not. Even her Aunt, who takes her in and must have an interesting story about why she lives in Japan, is not. In Ink, I was unable to connect to any of the characters and lost interest in the direction the story was going.
Ink by Amanda Sun is a decently written book, which gives me hope that Amanda Sun may write other books that would be more suited to my tastes. When my TBR stack is towering, I just cannot spend time reading books that leave me feeling nothing but a slight irritation. I wanted to like Ink by Amanda Sun for its beautiful cover and unique location but it was not enough.
Summary and cover image from goodreads.
I was given an eARC of Ink by Harlequin Teen but it did bot influence my review. All thoughts are my own.