Monday, July 14, 2014

Hush, Hush: review

Rating: 3 stars
Summary: Romance was not part of Nora Grey's plan. She's never been particularly attracted to the boys at her school, no matter how hard her best friend, Vee, pushes them at her. Not until Patch comes along. With his easy smile and eyes that seem to see inside her, Patch draws Nora to him against her better judgment.

But after a series of terrifying encounters, Nora's not sure whom to trust. Patch seems to be everywhere she is and seems to know more about her than her closest friends. She can't decide whether she should fall into his arms or run and hide. And when she tries to seek some answers, she finds herself near a truth that is way more unsettling than anything Patch makes her feel.

For she is right in the middle of an ancient battle between the immortal and those that have fallen - and, when it comes to choosing sides, the wrong choice will cost Nora her life.

My review:

Pretty mixed feelings in this one. First of all, wow, throwback before the dystopian craze, eh? Kind of a nice break there! 

There isn't much substance, and that's where the stars disappear. There's like 300 whole pages of biology-homework-related-googley-eyes-after-mysterious-hot-guy. Then the last 80 pages or so something exciting/supernatural actually happens! So that took a while.

What I didn't get. Nora didn't like Patch. Yeah there's that "he's dangerous but I feel drawn to him!!" thing going on. But I never even felt their chemistry!! And she kept bugging him and everything. He wasn't the stalker it seemed, she was. I didn't even like Patch all that much: he wasn't as witty/snarky as Jace, but not smexy enough to be like Daemon. So it was a definite "eh" for me. 

As far as angel-genre books go, pretty good! although I only have just the barest glimpse of this lore, it's fascinating and I'd like to learn more about it. Points for that.

Nora is a good character, not too cookie cutter, but sort of flat still...I mean, I couldn't even name any hobbies she has? She's pretty independent, but also falls to the trope of "drawn to dark and dangerous (and says that exact thing in her narration) but what can you do?" After all, Nora is even more masochistic in my eyes than Bella, and that's impressive. (Almost so bad it's good, kinda thing?) For every good aspect I can think about her, I remember something just as annoying sooo that wasn't helpful at all. Oh she does have an awesome tropey best friend Vee who has some hilarious lines. 

Hush, hush is a pretty fun book. It's not going on my shelf, but I don't regret reading it. Good for an escape read. I, personally, won't be continuing the series. Too many other awesome books out there.

Jane :)

Saturday, July 12, 2014

Picture books you just have to take ten minutes to read.

I'm working a lot in the children's section of my bookstore, and I have found that picture books, a genre previously unexplored to me, are freaking awesome. Here are a few that I sat down and read and absolutely loved. I won't really review them, because I'm picking them because I like them. I'll just put summaries and links.

This magical story begins on an island far away where an imaginary friend is born. He patiently waits his turn to be chosen by a real child, but when he is overlooked time and again, he sets off on an incredible journey to the bustling city, where he finally meets his perfect match and-at long last-is given his special name: Beekle.

New York Times bestselling and award-winning author and illustrator Dan Santat combines classic storytelling with breathtaking art, creating an unforgettable tale about friendship, imagination, and the courage to find one's place in the world.


In this quirky twist on The Boy Who Cried Wolf, a boy's excuses turn out to have an unexpected element of truth.


The ingenious author of 17 Things I'm Not Allowed to Do Anymore and a brilliant illustrator and production designer of the Coraline movie have created a hilarious, touching picture book perfect for young animal lovers. Like the Caldecott Medal-winning Officer Buckle and Gloria, Sparky stars a pet who has more to offer than meets the eye. When our narrator orders a sloth through the mail, the creature that arrives isn't good at tricks or hide-and-seek . . . or much of anything. Still, there's something about Sparky that is irresistible.

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

The Maze Runner: book review

Rating: 3 stars
Summary: "If you ain't scared, you ain't human." 

When Thomas wakes up in the lift, the only thing he can remember is his name. He's surrounded by strangers--boys whose memories are also gone.

Outside the towering stone walls that surround the Glade is a limitless, ever-changing maze. It's the only way out--and no one's ever made it through alive.

Then a girl arrives. The first girl ever. And the message she delivers is terrifying.

My review:

Pretty mixed feels here.

Yes, I read this finally for the sole reason that a movie is coming out. Also, I did listen to the audiobook, I didn't read it. (I hope I spell things right.)

When Thomas wakes up in the box and enters the Glade…..a hundred pages later something interesting happens. If you like lord of the flies, or are a 14 year old boy, you will probably love this book. For me, as I fall into neither of those categories, this is not my kind of book. I really don't like to put gender labels on books but this felt like a boy book to me. I seem to be in the minority in not liking it though, so I'll try not to rant.

The narrator wasn't my favorite, but I tried not to let that influence my opinions too much. He did al the accents really distinctly, so that was much help. If I was reading this book myself, I would have put it down probably 50 pages in from boredom and confusing slang. So it does have a slow start, but for the last maybe third of the book, things get super exciting, and I really enjoyed it. Unfortunately the fall-flat parts for me were that the writing was very predictable and simple, and the only girl character was in a coma the entire time, and wasn't remarked upon unless Thomas said she smelled like flowers (which makes no freaking sense) or to mention four whole times that she has black hair, pale skin, and blue blue eyes. I guess you can't say much more about a character who goes into a coma after blurting out one creepy sentence.

For the other boys, it was a strange set up, some boys having been there the two years, and lots of newer ones joining. I feel like the older boys (been there longer, ages were vague) were a little bullheaded, and close-minded to Thomas's suggestions. Whereas I was like yes yes! when he had an idea, there's like, lets lock up the girl for no good reason! Huh? C'mon you guys, you really want to be stuck in that maze forever? Why not keep grabbing onto new ideas? Boys...

Now, really near the ending, things took some unexpected turns so I was finally surprised with some events…and so maybe maybe I'll read the second one sometime. I can tell it'd be really different from this first one.

I never say this, but the movie looks way more awesome than the book, so I am really excited to see it!

Monday, July 7, 2014

Mini reviews: McMann & Plum

Gasp (Visions #3) by Lisa McMann
Rating: 5 stars
Summary: After narrowly surviving two harrowing tragedies, Jules now fully understands the importance of the visions that she and people around her are experiencing. She’s convinced that if the visions passed from her to Sawyer after she saved him, then they must now have passed from Sawyer to one of the people he saved.

That means it’s up to Jules to figure out which of the school shooting survivors is now suffering from visions of another crisis. And once she realizes who it is, she has to convince that survivor that this isn't all crazy—that the images are of something real. Something imminent.

As the danger escalates more than ever before in the conclusion to the Visions series, Jules wonders if she'll finally find out why and how this is happening—before it's too late to prevent disaster.

For an ending to a trilogy, this is great and I will venture to say it's better than the last one (it's not fair to compare though because it's so different.) It's a literal page-turner with the aid of short chapters and I couldn't put it down till I knew how it all ended. The stakes are at an all time high in Gasp; with an outside source to the visions and a high possible body count. Thankfully the Scoobies now have a system down to figuring out these premonition disasters.

My review: 

I think what I love most in these three books are the sibling relationships. It's not done enough in YA. Jules has an older brother (who is gay and not a single family member blinks to this and so that is just amazing) and a younger sister, and between the three of them it's hilarious to watch them interact just with the small things, as in rushing to take the bathroom first before school in the morning. Though this is a thriller story, she manages to keep a balance of actual present-family- going ons in play and not in the backseat like a leftover thought. Her parents are alive, and the five of them are very close. There was also a non-vision-related twice that really caught me off guard, and was necessary for some side-character development which didn't happen in the first two books. All in all, I'll miss these characters but it was a wonderful, if heart-stopping farewell.

Rating: 5 stars
Summary: World War III has left the world ravaged by nuclear radiation. A lucky few escaped to the Alaskan wilderness. They've survived for the last thirty years by living off the land, being one with nature, and hiding from whoever else might still be out there.
At least, this is what Juneau has been told her entire life.
When Juneau returns from a hunting trip to discover that everyone in her clan has vanished, she sets off to find them. Leaving the boundaries of their land for the very first time, she learns something horrifying: There never was a war. Cities were never destroyed. The world is intact. Everything was a lie.
Now Juneau is adrift in a modern-day world she never knew existed. But while she's trying to find a way to rescue her friends and family, someone else is looking for her. Someone who knows the extraordinary truth about the secrets of her past.
My review:

Should I dare say dystopians are getting better again? This doesn't really count though. It's pseudo-dystopian. I'm not even sure what genre to classify it, but it's super unique and awesome. If I didn't know the author, I would never have recognized Amy Plum's writing; it's good but completely different than her Die For Me series. (don't get wrong, I liked those!)

If you're looking for a one-stop adventure/spiritual journey, you've gotta read After the End. Juneau is a character I immediately felt for, and she's strong. Juneau believes her whole life that she lives in a post apocalyptic world (from WWIII in 1984,) when suddenly she finds herself stepping into the streets of Seattle with a fully functioning modern society. Her whole way of thinking is turned around. I admire her talent to adapt, she's smart and a quick learner, and her naiveness is hilarious from a present-day point of view.

The chapters alternate between Juneau and Miles, the new friend she picks up along the way. I think the dual third person storytelling is well done--I could definitely tell the difference between the two. Especially when Miles gives her a hard time for blanching at practically everything from the modern world.

The spiritual aspect, the "Yara" fascinates me. It's so normal for her to connect to the universe and manipulate things, even as normal people think it magic. Hell, I think it's magic. (it's not magic.) And what a cliffhanger. I would really love the next one right now please!

Jane :)

Thursday, July 3, 2014

Mini review set Gaiman & Zevin style

3 stars because of creepiness. 5 stars for awesomeness.
Sussex, England. A middle-aged man returns to his childhood home to attend a funeral. Although the house he lived in is long gone, he is drawn to the farm at the end of the road, where, when he was seven, he encountered a most remarkable girl, Lettie Hempstock, and her mother and grandmother. He hasn't thought of Lettie in decades, and yet as he sits by the pond (a pond that she'd claimed was an ocean) behind the ramshackle old farmhouse, the unremembered past comes flooding back. And it is a past too strange, too frightening, too dangerous to have happened to anyone, let alone a small boy.

Forty years earlier, a man committed suicide in a stolen car at this farm at the end of the road. Like a fuse on a firework, his death lit a touchpaper and resonated in unimaginable ways. The darkness was unleashed, something scary and thoroughly incomprehensible to a little boy. And Lettie—magical, comforting, wise beyond her years—promised to protect him, no matter what.

My thoughts:
Okay what did I just read? I *think* I liked it? Maybe? Perhaps I loved it? I know it creeped me out. A lot. But it was also brilliant in the usual Gaiman way and I was entranced the whole time, terrified or not. I also listened to it, in his voice. Mhm. I'd like to give it four stars, but I can't quite do it right now. Very…mind bending and interesting. It's 'childhood' in the form of a book. I didn't know that was possible.

5 stars
Summary: On the faded Island Books sign hanging over the porch of the Victorian cottage is the motto "No Man Is an Island; Every Book Is a World." A. J. Fikry, the irascible owner, is about to discover just what that truly means.

A. J. Fikry's life is not at all what he expected it to be. His wife has died, his bookstore is experiencing the worst sales in its history, and now his prized possession, a rare collection of Poe poems, has been stolen. Slowly but surely, he is isolating himself from all the people of Alice Island-from Lambiase, the well-intentioned police officer who's always felt kindly toward Fikry; from Ismay, his sister-in-law who is hell-bent on saving him from his dreary self; from Amelia, the lovely and idealistic (if eccentric) Knightley Press sales rep who keeps on taking the ferry over to Alice Island, refusing to be deterred by A.J.'s bad attitude. Even the books in his store have stopped holding pleasure for him. These days, A.J. can only see them as a sign of a world that is changing too rapidly.

And then a mysterious package appears at the bookstore. It's a small package, but large in weight. It's that unexpected arrival that gives A. J. Fikry the opportunity to make his life over, the ability to see everything anew. It doesn't take long for the locals to notice the change overcoming A.J.; or for that determined sales rep, Amelia, to see her curmudgeonly client in a new light; or for the wisdom of all those books to become again the lifeblood of A.J.'s world; or for everything to twist again into a version of his life that he didn't see coming.

My review: 
I went into this pretty blind; all I remember when adding this is ooh a book about a bookstore and a cool cover! I haven't liked any of Zevin's young adult books, but I was sure this book would be awesome, and it was. It is sentimental, but not over the top, and hit all the right heartstrings. And it's about a bookstore and bookish people with bookish references all over the place, so really how can any bibliophile not like it? Reading it was like the author was in my head, describing things as I do, and I could probably read this book again right now, and still enjoy it as much as the first. It's a fantastic piece of work; the dialogue is sharp and the people are flawed. Prepare to be delighted when you read about Island Books, and its quirky short-story-loving owner who finds love and community on Alice Island for a second time later in his life. I highly recommend. 

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Old ARCs- need to go

UPDATE: ALL have found good homes!

I have an overwhelming amount of ARCs for books that've been released. They need homes. Pick as many as you want--please, and I'll just charge (paypal) you what it costs to ship them. (or if you wanted to trade) Otherwise they'll be donated.

Email me if you want any!

The Taking: review

The Taking by Kimberly Derting
My rating: 2.5 stars
Released April 29, 2014
Summary: When sixteen-year-old Kyra Agnew wakes up behind a Dumpster at the Gas ’n’ Sip, she has no memory of how she got there. With a terrible headache and a major case of déjà vu, she heads home only to discover that five years have passed . . . yet she hasn’t aged a day. 

Everything else about Kyra’s old life is different. Her parents are divorced, her boyfriend, Austin, is in college and dating her best friend, and her dad has changed from an uptight neat-freak to a drunken conspiracy theorist who blames her five-year disappearance on little green men. 

Confused and lost, Kyra isn’t sure how to move forward unless she uncovers the truth. With Austin gone, she turns to Tyler, Austin’s annoying kid brother, who is now seventeen and who she has a sudden undeniable attraction to. As Tyler and Kyra retrace her steps from the fateful night of her disappearance, they discover strange phenomena that no one can explain, and they begin to wonder if Kyra’s father is not as crazy as he seems. There are others like her who have been taken . . . and returned. Kyra races to find an explanation and reclaim the life she once had, but what if the life she wants back is not her own?

My thoughts:

Rant warning. It's not bad things, I just have some things to say that probably aren't very constructive.

Hm, this is a trilogy, not a duo? Could have been a standalone, had potential.

While I liked The Taking all right, I didn't like it as much as The Pledge trilogy. But ALIENS. Seriously that just bumps up the points a lot, because there aren't an overwhelming amount of ya books on that subject right now. Abductions are awesome.

I had a hard time getting to like Kyra, our main character. It took quite a long while, especially since she keeps saying things like "grown ups" and not ironically, like I do. All the sudden 16 sounds so freaking young to me. And the boy-next-door (who is actually across the street) is of the wise old age of 17, which is how old my younger brother is, which totally creeped me out. So, personally, I think I've about had it with young adult, but for people who don't mind reading about gushy feelings with some aliens on the side, I'm sure you'll love it. And I eventually did feel sorry for Kyra, because I thought, if I was gone for five years and came back but it was only yesterday to me, yeah, it would totally suck. BUT I would understand that everybody moved on. I mean, I wouldn't want my family to be miserable forever. She's just kinda whiny about it. And she doesn't swear enough. You can tell she wants to though. But that might be too grown-up for her.

Mostly, the story focused on the mushy things too much, she could  have made this real hard core, but nope, mushy. I suppose that sums up what that last huge paragraph said.

It is a fast read; everything happens very precisely on time, (Kyra has an obsession of looking at the clock a lot) and I think the book spans six days. Which GUYS IT'S NOT ENOUGH TIME TO FALL IN LOVE sorry. That bothered me. There was a good amount of suspense, but the mushy part overwhelmed it juuust over the border for my tastes.

If you a fan of Kimberly Derting, you will like it. If you like fireflies, or corrupt government agencies with off the grid work, then you will like it. If you like alien abductions and mysterious circumstances, you'll like it. If you need a cliffhanger, this one has it.