Thursday, January 22, 2015

Review: Rain Reign by Ann M. Martin

Rain Reign by Ann M. Martin
Published: 2014, Feiwel & Friends
Genre: Middle Grade Contemporary
Format: Hardcover
Source: Library

Where are you, Rain?
My heart starts to pound.
Two, three, five, seven, eleven, thirteen.

The most important things according to Rose Howard are following the rules, homonyms, prime numbers, and her dog, Rain. Rose has Asperger’s Syndrome, which is a form of high-functioning autism. To make sense of her life, the things she enjoys become almost an obsession. Despite the fact that she has no real friends and a father is unable to cope with her needs, Rose has Rain and so is happy. So when Rain disappears the night of a particularly intense hurricane, Rose is devastated and puts all of her energy into finding Rain again.

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Top Ten Most Anticipated Debut Novels For 2015

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted by The Broke and the Bookish. This week is a freebie week, so I decided to go back to a prompt from earlier this year that I hadn't posted yet: my top ten most anticipated debut novels for 2015.

Red Queen by Victoria Aveyard 
Monstrous by MarcyKate Connolly 
A Wicked Thing by Rhiannon Thomas 
The Storyspinner by Becky Wallace 
Under a Painted Sky by Stacey Lee 
The Girl at Midnight by Melissa Grey 
5 to 1 by Holly Bodger 
The Witch Hunter by Virginia Boecker 
Valiant by Sarah McGuire 
The Sacred Lies of Minnow Bly by Stephanie Oakes 

A little late, but here's my list. Hoping to get to many of these this year!

What 2015 debuts are you looking forward to?

Sunday, January 18, 2015

Review: I’ll Give You the Sun by Jandy Nelson

I’ll Give You the Sun by Jandy Nelson
Published: 2014, Dial
Genre: Young Adult Contemporary
Format: Hardcover
Source: Library

I don’t know how this can be but it can: A painting is both exactly the same and entirely different every single time you look at it. That’s the way it is between Jude and me now.

As children, fraternal twins Noah and Jude were incredibly close. So close, in fact, that they referred to themselves as NoahandJude, one soul divided between two bodies. But their thirteenth year is one of major changes for both of them, and the tragedies of their lives cause the twins’ relationship to fracture. At sixteen, the twins have seemingly lost their connection with one another, and both are so damaged, so bitter, so hopeless, that reconciliation seems impossible. A mutual love of art and creation that helped make Noah and Jude inseparable, and nothing short of rekindling that love will allow them to forgive each other and begin the slow healing process.

Friday, January 16, 2015

Ready to Become a Fan of... Sarah Addison Allen

Ready to Become a Fan of... focuses on those authors new and old whose works I have every intention of eventually reading, but haven't been able to devote the time to just yet. By discussing authors and their works that I'm sure I'll love, given the chance, hopefully I can be more easily compelled to take the next step in not simply acquiring one of their books, but actually take the time to read it.

This month I'm putting on record that I am ready to become a fan of Sarah Addison Allen.

About the author:
New York Times Bestselling novelist Sarah Addison Allen brings the full flavor of her southern upbringing to bear on her fiction -- a captivating blend of magical realism, heartwarming romance, and small-town sensibility. She is the author of Garden Spells (2007) The Sugar Queen (2008) The Girl Who Chased the Moon (2010) The Peach Keeper (2011), Lost Lake (2014), and First Frost (2015). (Modified from Goodreads)

Work I'm most looking forward to reading:
Garden Spells

The women of the Waverley family -- whether they like it or not -- are heirs to an unusual legacy, one that grows in a fenced plot behind their Queen Anne home on Pendland Street in Bascom, North Carolina. There, an apple tree bearing fruit of magical properties looms over a garden filled with herbs and edible flowers that possess the power to affect in curious ways anyone who eats them.

For nearly a decade, 34-year-old Claire Waverley, at peace with her family inheritance, has lived in the house alone, embracing the spirit of the grandmother who raised her, ruing her mother's unfortunate destiny and seemingly unconcerned about the fate of her rebellious sister, Sydney, who freed herself long ago from their small town's constraints. Using her grandmother's mystical culinary traditions, Claire has built a successful catering business -- and a carefully controlled, utterly predictable life -- upon the family's peculiar gift for making life-altering delicacies: lilac jelly to engender humility, for instance, or rose geranium wine to call up fond memories. Garden Spells reveals what happens when Sydney returns to Bascom with her young daughter, turning Claire's routine existence upside down. With Sydney's homecoming, the magic that the quiet caterer has measured into recipes to shape the thoughts and moods of others begins to influence Claire's own emotions in terrifying and delightful ways.

As the sisters reconnect and learn to support one another, each finds romance where she least expects it, while Sydney's child, Bay, discovers both the safe home she has longed for and her own surprising gifts. With the help of their elderly cousin Evanelle, endowed with her own uncanny skills, the Waverley women redeem the past, embrace the present, and take a joyful leap into the future. (Goodreads)

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Top Ten 2014 Releases I Meant to Read

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted by The Broke and the Bookish. This week we're listing the books those 2014 releases we meant to read, but somehow never got around to over the past year. 

The Goblin Emperor by Katherine Addison — So convinced was I that I'd love this that I went and bought a hardcover. I'm still pretty sure I'll love it when I get around to reading it.
Red Rising by Pierce Brown — I own the Kindle version of this. With the recent publication of the sequel Golden Son, now sounds like the perfect time to read this YA/Adult dystopian crossover.
Rites of Passage by Joy N. Hensley — Everyone seems to have strong opinions on this one (mostly positive), and I can't wait to add mine to the mix. Very interested in this story about the struggles a girl must endure to join a military academy.
Cruel Beauty by Rosamund Hodge — I also own the hardcover of this (though I was gifted it). This fairy-tale retelling sounds like everything I should love in a story, and with the companion novel Crimson Bound releasing later this year, it's time to read Cruel Beauty.
Stolen Songbird by Danielle L. Jensen  — I own the Kindle edition of this. I'm not actually quite sure about the status of the sequels for this series, since the first was published by the now cancelled Strange Chemistry, but I've nevertheless intrigued by this debut.
Snow Like Ashes by Sara Raasch — This is a YA fantasy that promises political intrigue, a magical world, and a fighting female protagonist. Of course I'll be reading this one! 
Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel — Everyone seems to be impressed by this well-written, post-apocalyptic tale. I'm always happy to see speculative fiction works become mainstream, so I'll be checking this one out soon.
The Art of Lainey by Paula Stokes — This sounds so freaking adorable. And I'm always down for books that allude to classics (in this case Sun Tzu's The Art of War). I'm just waiting for the right occasion to read a fluffy book.
The Girls at the Kingfisher Club by Genevieve Valentine  — Historical fiction and fairy-tale retellings go together so well, or at least they have in my reading experience. I love the idea of "The Twelve Dancing Princesses" taking place during the 1920s. 
Brown Girl Dreaming by Jacqueline Woodson — This one I had borrowed briefly from the library before needing to return it again. But I will be checking this out again soon. There's been a lot of award buzz over this, and it sounds like a powerful book.

What 2014 releases do you still need to read?

Monday, January 12, 2015

Review: Princess of Thorns by Stacey Jay

Princess of Thorns by Stacey Jay
Published: December 9, 2014, Delacorte Press
Genre: Young Adult Fantasy
Format: eARC
Source: Publisher via Netgalley

A broken promise breaks something inside of you, leaving less of you than there was before.

In Jay’s continuation of Charles Perrault’s “Sleeping Beauty,” Sleeping Beauty and her family never receive their happily-ever-after ending. The prince is killed, and Sleeping Beauty and her two children are locked up by the ogre queen, Queen Ekeeta, and her people, who have effectively taken control of Norvere after the old king died. Rather than allowing herself and her children to be sacrificed to the ogres’ magic, Sleeping Beauty kills herself, bestowing her daughter Aurora with the fairy blessings of bravery, mercy, and strength in the process. Aurora and her younger brother Jor then escape and hide in separate parts of the country under the protection of the fey.

Over the following decade, they are hunted relentlessly by the ogres. For ogre prophecy tells of the rise of a living darkness that will consume the planet and allow all souls - ogres and human alike - to rest in peace for eternity. For this prophecy to come to fruition, the souls of the briar-born children (descendents of the Sleeping Beauty) must be collected. When Aurora learns that Jor has been captured by the ogres and will likely be used to help usher in the age of living darkness, she comes out of hiding and seeks a way to end the ogres’ reign once and for all.

Friday, January 9, 2015

New Resolutions, New Year

I rather like the retrospection that comes with the start of a new year. Even if I haven’t accomplished everything I wanted over the past twelve months, there’s a new year ahead of me and, with it, infinite possibilities.

In 2014, I hoped to read at least 70 books (I read 81, without counting the many short stories I read and the picture books I read for work). I participated in the Debut Author Challenge, where I was supposed to read a total of 12 2014 debuts from YA and MG authors (I read 11). I also gave myself the personal challenge of reading more books over 500 pages (I read 7). I’m satisfied with what I did manage to read, even if it didn’t all fit nicely into the categories I had created.

This year I’m still going to give myself a few challenges. I find that I read more and a greater variety when I am working towards a particular goal, after all.

Read 90 books this year. I read 81 books this year and totally think it’s possible to push myself a bit more this year. The number of books I want to read will only continue to grow, and I need to try to make some dent on it.

Read a wider variety of books. It’s so, so easy to stick with what I know I like, but my job at a library working with kids and the #weneeddiversebooks campaign have both really made me reconsider my book choices. I don’t want my reading experiences limited by genre, age level, gender (author or character), or race (author or character).

Take some time to re-read older favorites. I used to be such a re-reader, but I’ve had a difficult time justifying re-reads since I started blogging, unfortunately. Fortunately, joining the Re-Read Challenge should provide me with some great encouragement.

In a similar vein, take some time to read more classics and other books that I may not necessarily want to review here on the blog. I want to keep in mind that reading for personal interest is just as important as reading for my blog.

Continue to read lengthy novels. It can be so easy to bypass a longer, more complex book for a few shorter ones that will not only raise my read book number, but that can provide content for review posts. I love lengthy novels, however, and will not let length interfere with reading choices.

Basically, this year I resolve to read what I want, when I want to. It’s far easier said than done, but I plan to make 2015 the year in which I not only embrace my personal reading preferences, but also read with intention. I'll still read some of the popular releases, of course, but perhaps not as many as I have in the past.

I wish everyone a successful year of reading!