Sunday, July 28, 2013

Inhuman by Kat Falls. Reviewed from ARC received at ALA Annual. To Be Published Oct. 2013.

Please, please, don't put the girl on the cover of this book like I saw on some covers when I did a Google Image search. Yuck.

Lane lives a decent life in the West--she doesn't know what's over the Titan Wall.  The Wall is built along the Mississippi River, separating the humans from the feral.  A virus turns humans into animals, and although Lane wants to know more, she isn't able to.  However, she soon finds out that her dad is a frequent visitor of the East. Why? He's a fetcher--going over the wall to bring back precious artifacts like artwork or photographs.  Lane had no idea that her father had told her of his adventures in his bedtime stories, and she handles the East better than she ever would have thought.  

Suspend reality and just accept the ride that this book offers. Lane's world is dystopian and dark, but family is still important.  Give this to fans of Hunger Games and Divergent.  There will be a Book Two, of course. 

The Crown of Embers by Rae Carson (Fire and Thorns #2)

First of all, you have to get past the idea that the main character has a jewel in her belly button called a Godstone. This is the source of her powers. Once you make it past that idea, this series is pretty good--a typical epic journey fantasy. Elisa is learning how to be queen, but she doesn't know how to harness her power of the Godstone so she's messing up.  A lot.  But, hey, rub your belly button, Elisa, and you'll figure out what to do!

Don't forget to read The Girl of Fire and Thorns first! 

Caged graves by Dianne Salerni

Of course I want to know why there are cages around the graves! Vampires? Witches? Zombies? Verity Boone travels back home to live with her father in PA in 1867 in order to marry a man she has never met. Her life is put on hold when she finds the cage around her mother's grave--why? And so she tries to solve the mystery and find out her family's secrets.  The love triangle was silly, but I loved everything about the grave cages! 

Spirit's Chosen by Esther Friesner (sequel to Spirit's Princess)

This wasn't as good as what I remember the first book being. Himiko is back and still has to deal with warring families in feudal Japan. She is a shaman/princess and still struggling to find her way in life. I love reading historical fiction about Japan, so I found that part interesting, but her soul searching was too slow for me. I wanted a hundred fewer pages of this ARC. 

Monday, July 22, 2013

Winger by Andrew Smith

*LOVE this cover!*

This is one of those books that punches you in the gut because it's just that good.  At first glance, it's like a lot of books out there--puny kid goes to boarding school and gets beaten up a lot.  But it's far more than that. It's a story of first love and how loving anyone at age 14 is complicated when hormones get in the way. It's about being smart and using it to your advantage. It's about friendship and rugby teams and how cruel boys can be to each other.  But it's also about redemption and coming of age and just awesomeness.  I laughed out loud and almost cried as I read this one--how many books make you laugh loudly? Not many! To me, this is the perfect combination of drama, comedy, and sports.  Not too much of any one thing, but enough to be keep me very, very interested.  

Recommended for fans of John Green and grown-up Wimpy kid books. 

Maggot Moon by Sally Gardner

My librarian friends were swooning over this title at ALA Annual a month ago, so I figured I had better take a look at it.  I'm not as thrilled as they are.

First, yes, it's told in a very distinct voice from the POV of a boy who is considered to be stupid. He lives in a strange Communist-ish, Nazi-ish dystopian part-way real world that really frustrated me. I wanted to know where the Motherland was in the 1950s and was ticked that I couldn't figure it out.  I wanted to know where these people were being squirreled away in zones that didn't have enough resources to survive.  I guess I didn't like that the dystopian setting was so close to actual historical settings of Europe? I kept thinking of books I've read about cities in Poland during WWII and Slavic war memoirs. It seemed real, yet not.

This is the kind of book that people on committees will argue about--I'm interested to see what awards it does win.  It isn't a Top Read for me this year, but I'm sure it will be on a lot of people's lists.

Recommended for people who love Adam Rapp's books and want to read the Printz contenders for this year. :)

Sunday, July 21, 2013

Divergent by Veronica Roth, Performed by Emma Galvin

Thank you, Emma Galvin, for narrating the very first audiobook that my daughter enjoyed listening to! We were both on the edge of our carseats for the last week as we listened to Tris's adventures.

In a Chicago divided into factions, Tris must choose a group of people to belong to for the rest of her life. The factions don't always get along (think of the Hunger Games' districts) and she  may never see her family again.  By joining the Dauntless clan, she has to perform acts of bravery (or stupidity?) to prove that fear will never get the best of her.  But factions are the least of her worries--she has to worry about war and saving those she loves.

Absolutely can't wait to see the movie in March 2014!

Game by Barry Lyga, the sequel to I Hunt Killers

Love, love, love this series! Jazz Dent is back, and still terrified that he is going to end up a serial killer like his father. He can't help it that his dad taught him how to track prey and kill, and he is doing his best to suppress bad impulses, even if it means never having sex with his hot girlfriend.

When bodies start piling up in NYC, Jazz is consulted by an enthusiastic police officer to help solve the case. He is able to notice things the police don't and help with profiling the Hat/Dog Killer much easier than you might expect.  But, then, Jazz is always able to figure things out when it comes to his dad.

Recommended for teen AND adult readers of suspense, crime novels, and gore.

Running Like a Girl: Notes on Learning to Run by Alexandra Heminsley

I was excited when I noticed this Advance Reader's Copy on Edelweiss--just the inspiration I need when I'm starting the Couch to 5K program (again). Last year, I never made it past Week 4, so I need all the inspiration I can get.  I admire runners--especially when I visit big cities.  All that lycra and bouncing ponytails and iPods in use.  But I feel like a lumbering idiot when I attempt it and then I give up too easily when it hurts.  So I thought I'd tackle this adult memoir.

Alexandra was always the curvy class clown--she didn't exercise much, but didn't like how she looked in pictures.  She started walking for hours around London, and attempted a run around the block, but was disappointed by the pain, red face, and overall soreness.  However, she had familial support. Her dad ran marathons, as did her brother.  They kept telling her that she was perfectly capable.  And so she tackled a 5K jog.  This is the part I didn't like--really? a 5K practice run right off the bat? No building up to it?  And so begins her journey to run the London Marathon.  I loved all the details of her preparation--planning the runs, the playlists, buying the right clothes, and just running in general.  Who knew about Vaseline? I'm going to start lubing up my feet before my runs, too. No blisters and soft feet? I'm in! Her struggle with finding the right sports bra was rather funny, as well as her fear of unexpected potty breaks along the longer runs. She even covers what happens in her mid-marathons slump. It was nice to hear that even marathon runners stop practicing now and then.  She didn't understand the purpose, but found her away again.

Sunday, July 7, 2013

The Testing by Joelle Charbonneau

With a cover like that, can you guess that this book is a read-alike to The Hunger Games? And it doesn't disappoint. Give this to fans of Collins' trilogy and they won't be disappointed.

Cia has grown up wanting to be selected to attend The Testing at the capital city of what once was the United States. Only the smartest and the best are chosen to be tested, all in the chance of winning a spot at the University. Of course, this is a dystopia, so the government isn't awesome and people cannot be trusted. There are rebels, mutant killer animals, strange hairy humans, and contaminated water. But there are also loyal families, a cute boy from home, and some kind strangers. This is very much like The Hunger Games, but I was impressed that it's just a likable book, too. I enjoyed the read.  Book Two The Testing:Independent Study comes out in Jan. 2014.

Friday, July 5, 2013

The Secret Ingredient by Stewart Lewis, Reviewed from NetGalley

On NetGalley, this book was compared to one of Sarah Dessen's, so I had to take a look. Set in L.A., Olivia's life is interesting enough to demand a novel. She is adopted, has two dads, and is a great cook who wants to become a chef at Cordon Bleu in Paris.

But then she has her fortune told in an elevator and I couldn't help but want this plot line to disappear forever. Seriously, couldn't her story have been told without some mysterious lady in the elevator? I loved the idea that she recreates the story of the owner of a used cookbook she finds in a thrift shop. I love that Olivia runs into a boy she used to like. I love that she finds a job in a casting agency and has a crazy older brother who just might make it big.  But the fortune teller--take that out!

The Radleys by Matt Haig, Narrated by Toby Leonard Moore

2011 Alex Award Winner!

Way back in 2007, I loved this author's The Dead Fathers Club, so I've been looking for the audiobook of this one!

The Radley's are trying their best to raise their daughter and son normally. But when Clara attacks a boy and kills him, um, with her teeth, their history comes out. The Radleys are vampires, even though they have been trying to abstain from blood. However, it's difficult to stop being what you are!

This isn't your typical vampire book--published for adults, but great for teens, too.