December 31, 2014

Review: Let It Snow by John Green, Maureen Johnson & Lauren Myracle

Let It Snow by John Green, Maureen Johnson & Lauren Myracle
Published: 2008, Speak
Genre: Young Adult Contemporary
Format: Paperback
Source: Library

“Do you think couples all over the world get together on Christmas Eve?” I said, wondering this for the first time. “Because it’s all...Christmasy and magical, only then it’s not, and everything sucks?”

Let It Snow is collection of three interrelated novellas that take place during a major snowstorm over the Christmas holiday in the fictional, East-Coast town of Gracetown. In “The Jubilee Express,” written by Maureen Johnson, Julie (Jubilee) is stranded on a Christmas Eve train traveling down to Florida to spend the holiday with her grandparents, as her parents were arrested for participating in a toy riot. In “A Cheertastic Christmas Miracle” by John Green, friends Tobin, JP, and the Duke fight their way through a massive snowstorm to hang out with stranded cheerleaders at the local Waffle House. And in “The Patron Saint of Pigs,” written by Lauren Myracle, Addie tries to purchase her friend’s teacup pig while struggling with a major heartbreak.
Read more »

December 29, 2014

Review: Relish: My Life in the Kitchen by Lucy Knisley

Relish: My Life in the Kitchen by Lucy Knisley
Published: 2013, First Second
Genre: Memoir, Graphic Novel
Format: Paperback
Source: Library
Goodreads · Amazon · Barnes & Noble

The daughter of a chef and a foodie, Lucy’s life has always revolved around food. So it makes sense, then, as she writes her memoir, that it, too, should revolve around food. As she explains: “My most vivid memories consistently jog my brain with the recollection of how things tasted.” Relish tells the story of Lucy’s life, from her early childhood memories (and some memories that were shared with her) to her current unsure (but hopeful) plans for the rest of her life and for the state of American food.

My experiences reading graphic novels are few and far between, but I am very glad that I gave Relish a chance. Knisley’s story is humorous, witty, and surprisingly educational. She shapes each chapter around a specific type of food that influenced her childhood, like Chapter Three, which recounts her efforts as a tween to recreate her mother’s perfect chocolate chip cookies. The way in which each chapter is influenced by a particular food group or experience is well done, and they all tie together quite nicely into a cohesive narrative.
Read more »

December 23, 2014

Top Ten Books On My Winter 2014/2015 TBR

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted by The Broke and the Bookish. This week we're listing the books that have made it to the top of our Winter 2014/2015 TBR piles. 
This topic was actually for Tuesday, November 25. I love creating seasonal TBR lists, but unfortunately I was on hiatus for most of November and missed participating for this one. Because the winter solstice only just happened this past Sunday, however, I think that this post is still timely.

New & Upcoming Winter Releases:
Red Queen by Victoria Aveyard —I have a hard time resisting any high fantasy YA novels. Add in mentions of political intrigue and I'm hooked. Every. Single. Time.
Shadow Scale by Rachel Hartman — Words cannot express my excitement over the long-delayed publication of the sequel to Seraphina. I freaking loved that book, and will probably do a re-read prior to reading the new installment.
Princess of Thorns by Stacey Jay — I've had a difficult time reading anything outside of library books for the past few months, and so I've had yet to read my ARC. But this sounds like something I should theoretically really like, so hoping to get to this one soon!

Owned Older Reads:
The Snow Child by Eowyn Ivey — I keep putting this story off because I want to spend a snowy day (or weekend) reading this. I think now's finally the time. I will prioritize this within the coming month.
The Name of the Wind by Patrick Rothfuss — Another story I've been meaning to read for ages, and Courtney kindly gifted me a copy for my birthday this fall. I actually got my boyfriend into this series, so it's high time I read it for myself.
Breadcrumbs by Anne Ursu — Technically I don't own this book, but my little sister is letting me borrow her copy until I finally do read it. It's very seasonal, it's a retelling of "The Snow Queen," and it's for middle graders. I plan on spending a lazy afternoon sipping hot chocolate and reading this.

Library Books:
Anne of Green Gables by L.M. Montgomery — Confession time: I've never read this series before. I'm not quite sure how I managed to miss out on this one, especially considering that I did read quite a few children's classics as a child.
Let It Snow by John Green, Maureen Johnson & Lauren Myracle — I tend not to do seasonal reads, but I'm making an exception here. This sounds like a perfect pre-Christmas airport read (my trip is today, actually).
The Kiss of Deception by Mary Pearson — I'm not actually sure how much I'll enjoy this one. Based on the synopsis, it has the potential to be something that I love. Really hoping that's the case here!
The Scandalous Sisterhood of Prickwillow Place by Julie Berry
— My first (and only) experience reading a work of Berry's gave me one of my favorite reads of the year. I liked the idea of closing out the year with another of her works, but I'll settle for reading this in the early part of 2015 instead.

Please be sure to let me know what books you plan on reading this winter!
Read more »

December 18, 2014

Review: The Martian by Andy Weir

The Martian by Andy Weir
Published: 2014, Crown (Originally 2012)
Genre: Adult Science Fiction
Format: Hardcover
Source: Library

I’m stranded on Mars. I have no way to communicate with Earth. I’m in a Habitat designed to last 31 days. If the Oxygenator breaks down, I’ll suffocate. If the Water Reclaimer breaks down, I’ll die of thirst. If the Hab breaches, I’ll just kind of explode. If none of those things happen, I’ll eventually run out of food and starve to death. So yeah. I’m screwed.

An unexpectedly powerful dust storm causes the astronauts on NASA’s current Mars mission to abort their mission and head back to Earth. While following his crewmembers to their transport vehicle, Mark Watney comes into contact with flying debris, which causes him to fall back into the storm, his suit to rip, and his vitals to flatline. The rest of the crew assumes he’s dead and leaves for their return journey to Earth.

Their assumption proves to be incorrect, however, as Mark somehow survives. But now he’s stranded on the surface of Mars with no way to contact his crewmates or Earth and a minimal number of supplies. To survive for any amount of time, Mark must combine his knowledge of engineering and botany with more than a little ingenuity.
Read more »

December 16, 2014

Top Ten Books I Read In 2014

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted by The Broke and the Bookish. This week we're listing the top books we've each read in 2014.

All the Truth That's in Me by Julie Berry (My review)
Something Real by Heather Demetrios (My review)
Bitter Greens by Kate Forsyth (My review is upcoming)
The Young Elites by Marie Lu (My review is upcoming)
The Lies of Locke Lamora by Scott Lynch (My review)
Quintana of Charyn by Melina Marchetta (My review)
I'll Give You the Sun by Jandy Nelson (My review is upcoming)
Nowhere But Home by Liza Palmer (My review)

Lies We Tell Ourselves by Robin Talley (My review)
The Strange and Beautiful Sorrows of Ava Lavender by Leslye Walton (My review)

Five of these have fantasy elements (six if you count the magical realism elements of I'll Give You the Sun). Four are historical fiction. Three are contemporary. Not bad. Obviously I still have a preference for fantasy, but I'm working on diversification!

Please let me know what are some of your top books for this past year!
Read more »

December 12, 2014

Review: Doll Bones by Holly Black

Doll Bones by Holly Black
Published: 2013, Margaret K. McElderry Books
Genre: Middle Grade Fantasy
Source: Library

It made him feel, for a moment, like maybe no stories were lies… Maybe all stories were true ones.

Although at twelve years old friends Poppy, Alice, and Zach are now past the age where they should be playing with action figure toys, none of them is quite ready to give up their games. For Poppy, their games give her some love and attention lacking in her home life. For orphaned Alice, their games allow her to escape the strict rules that come with living with her grandmother. And for Zach, playing with Poppy and Alice has always been an important part of his life. They’ve constructed elaborate tales around their toys and created fantastical worlds.

One day, however, Zach’s father throws all of Zach’s toys away, deciding that it’s past time for his son to stop playing with them. Heartbroken, Zach refuses to play with new toys, and also chooses to keep the truth from Poppy and Alice, instead saying that he’s simply no longer interested in playing anymore. Not only their game, but their friendship itself is at stake when Poppy reveals she’s been receiving dreams from the Queen, a china doll kept locked away in her family’s cabinet. The Queen apparently contains the ashes of a murdered girl, who asks that they be laid to rest.

And so, for the first time in their years of friendship and playing fantastical games, Poppy, Alice, and Zach embark on a real quest.
Read more »

December 9, 2014

Top Ten New-To-Me Authors I Read In 2014

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted by The Broke and the Bookish. This week we're discussing the top ten authors we've discovered this past year, both recently published and not. 

Author: Julie Berry
Why: I've made no secret of my love for All the Truth That's in Me. It is definitely among my favorite books read this year. And if my library hold comes in within the next week or so, I'm hoping to close off my year with another Berry book, though one that sounds quite different. But hopefully just as wonderful.

Book Read: Something Real
Next Book: Exquisite Captive
Why: Something Real was a pleasant surprise. Demetrios created a story centered around a reality television show and actually made it into a meaningful story. But not going to lie - Exquisite Captive sounds more like my type of story.
Read more »

December 7, 2014

Showcase Sunday #20

Showcase Sunday is a weekly meme hosted by Vicki at Books, Biscuits and Tea. Its aim is to showcase our newest books or book related swag and to see what everyone else received for review, borrowed from libraries, bought in bookshops and downloaded onto eReaders this week.

The Darkest Minds (The Darkest Minds, #1) by Alexandra Bracken So this was free for Kindle at some point last month. I've said before that I'm more interested in Bracken's Brightly Woven, but the marketing for the concluding book of this series got me interested in this one as well.
Garden Spells by Sarah Addison Allen
Magical realism! In a modern-day America! Nearly all of my knowledge of and love for the magical realism genre (subgenre?) is due to some fantastic Latin American authors, so I'm excited to see magical realism apply to a different type of story.
Among Others by Jo Walton
Just everything about this book sounds like something I'd love to read. Bookish protagonist, a world with a hint of the fantastical, an epistolary writing style. Here's hoping I can get to this one soon.
Read more »

November 26, 2014

Featured Blogger for Book and a Beverage

Hello, lovely readers!

I apologize for the unexpected hiatus. Life's been a bit crazy recently, and while I've been reading as much as usual, I haven't had time to maintain my own blog or be a dedicated blog reader. That should be changing very soon, however. Expect quite a few science fiction reviews (since I totally missed out on Sci Fi November), as well as a few others.

In the meantime, I wanted to note that today I'm the featured Book and a Beverage blogger over at The Book Addict's Guide. I always love reading Brittany's feature, so I was definitely excited to have the chance to be featured there myself. Please feel free to check out my interview!

Read more »

November 2, 2014

Showcase Sunday #19

Showcase Sunday is a weekly meme hosted by Vicki at Books, Biscuits and Tea. Its aim is to showcase our newest books or book related swag and to see what everyone else received for review, borrowed from libraries, bought in bookshops and downloaded onto eReaders this week.

Birthday presents from the lovely Courtney!

Vessel by Sarah Beth Durst  
I think I’ve said it before, but it’s worth repeating: Courtney is the best. She knew how much I loved Vessel (my review), and so bought me my own copy of it for my birthday. I can’t wait to re-read it soon. Thank you, dear!  
The Name of the Wind (The Kingkiller Chronicle, #1) by Patrick Rothfuss This was also a birthday present from Courtney. It was such a perfect pick, as I’ve been meaning to start this series for a while now. So, so excited to get my adult fantasy on with a reading of this series.
Read more »

October 31, 2014

The Monthly Digest: October 2014

Welcome back to The Monthly Digest here at Late Nights with Good Books. With these posts I hope to recap everything reading- and blogging-related for the past month.

The Books

Favorite Read from October:
I'm actually not sure. I enjoyed a number of these, but nothing really stood out to me. If I had to pick, I'd go with Starglass by Phoebe North.

Notable Quote from October:
And there comes a time in your life when you realize that if you don't take the opportunity to be happy, you may never get another chance again.
Richard Russo, Empire Falls

October Features:

In My Life
Unsurprisingly, October was a pretty busy month for me. So much has been happening that's required me to keep moving that I haven't had much of a chance to reflect on all the changes.

First off, I was offered a part-time youth reference assistant job at a public library. Yay! It's been a wonderful experience so far, and has really helped justify my desire to become a public librarian (not to mention it's now making me strongly consider becoming a youth librarian in particular). It's also been really nice to finally start practically applying all that I've been learning from my classes.

Because my job is focused on children, I am going to make some slight reading and reviewing adjustments. I haven't read many books targeted at an audience younger than YA recently, but now I'm going to start reading more MG fiction. I want to be able to give recommendations for books I've actually read, after all. So expect some more MG reviews on here (though probably not books for any audiences younger than that).

Between the new job, my classes, homework, and splitting my home between two locations, blogging's kind of had to take a backseat, and this trend will probably continue at least until the semester ends. However, I am participating in SciFi November. I plan on having about five reviews and two or three other posts going up throughout the month (just have to write them up), so be on the lookout for them!

How was your October?
Read more »