August 31, 2014

The Monthly Digest: August 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 August:
Lies We Tell Ourselves by Robin Talley

Notable Quote from August:
I know that people change. I thought ... I thought we're going to change together. I thought that's what it meant to be in love.
Rainbow Rowell, Attachments

The Blog
August Reviews:
Prisoner of Night and Fog by Anne Blankman
Vampire Academy by Richelle Mead
Half a King by Joe Abercrombie
The Glass Casket by McCormick Templeton
Legend trilogy by Marie Lu
Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro
Lies We Tell Ourselves by Robin Talley

August Features:
ARC August Sign-Up
Showcase Sunday #16
Top Ten Books I'm Not Sure I Want To Read
Ready to Become a Fan of... Patrick Ness
Top Ten Books I Really Want To Read But Don't Own Yet

In My Life
August was a crazy month for me. I quit my job in preparation for becoming a full-time Library and Information Sciences grad student starting this September. My priorities for the indefinite future will be classes and finding a part-time job. And blogging, too.

Immediately after finishing my job, I went to visit relatives for an extended weekend. Then the following weekend my boyfriend and I traveled to a college friend's wedding; she's actually getting married today!

All in all, I'm a bit surprised by how much reading I got done. But a couple of plane rides and a bit of free time helped tremendously. As did participating in ARC August - I'll have a recap of my challenge posted early next week.

So much change is a bit scary, but I'm trying to learn to embrace all the uncertainties and maintain a positive attitude. After all, change is exciting, too.

How was your August?

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August 28, 2014

Review: Lies We Tell Ourselves by Robin Talley

Lies We Tell Ourselves by Robin Talley
Published: September 30, 2014, Harlequin Teen
Genre: Young Adult Historical Fiction, LGBT
Source: Publisher via Netgalley

I can’t shake the feeling someone’s been lying to me all along. Because they don’t think I’m smart enough to understand the truth.
I’ve had enough.
It’s time I figured out the truth for myself.

Along with a few other students considered to be the crème de la crème of Johns, the all-black high school for Davisburg, Virginia, Sarah Dunbar is enrolled to attend her senior year at Jefferson, the previously all-white high school. No one thought that school integration would be easy, as the white people of Davisburg have spent five years fighting against the Supreme Court’s desegregation laws. Sarah, her younger sister Ruth, and a few of their friends know that desegregation is going to be tough and potentially dangerous, but that knowledge doesn’t prevent them from supporting the NAACP’s cause, and fighting for the right to be a part of the first school integration in Virginia.

But there’s a big difference between taking a stance on an issue on a theoretical basis and then enduring the consequences of that stance on a very real level.

Among the more vocal of the desegregation opponents is the editor of the town’s local newspaper, who happens to be the father of Linda Hairston, a senior of Jefferson High. Linda knows that integration is wrong, because that’s all she’s been told her entire life. And nothing in her life thus far has forced her to think otherwise.

But witnessing the atrocities that the black students endure from her fellow classmates and becoming acquainted with Sarah makes Linda begin to question her firmly entrenched beliefs.
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August 26, 2014

Top Ten Books I Really Want To Read But Don't Own Yet

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted by The Broke and the BookishThis week we are discussing books that we really want to read but don't own (or have access to a copy of) just yet.

My to-be-read list is out of control, so I'm going to limit my list to a few choice books that I not only want to read, but want to own for potential re-reads.

Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Won't Stop Talking by Susan Cain — I've mentioned before that non-fiction books really aren't my thing, but this one sounds just perfect. I'm an introvert myself and I feel like extraverts tend to be given the more positive spin, so it will be interesting to see what Cain has to say.
The Inheritance Trilogy by N.K. Jemisin — This is a bind up of the entire trilogy, which includes The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms (which I loved), The Broken Kingdoms, and The Kingdom of the Gods. I like the idea of having all the books in the trilogy packaged together in one convenient (if massive) volume.
Red Seas Under Red Skies by Scott Lynch The Lies of Locke Lamora is still one of the best books I read this year, and so I really do want to continue with this series as soon as possible. More Locke! More Jean! More shenanigans! Come at me!
Saving Francesca by Melina Marchetta — I loved Marchetta's Lumatere Chronicles and Jellicoe Road. Although I'd be happiest if Marchetta had more fantasy novels, I still need to read more of her works, and, of her remaining works, this sounds best to me.
Remaining Sevenwaters novels by Juliet Marillier — I read the first three novels in this series years ago and was recently given copies of them. After re-reading the first three, though, I do want to continue with the series and see what happens next.
Princesses Behaving Badly: Real Stories from History Without the Fairy-Tale Endings by Linda Rodriguez McRobbie — I absolutely love the premise of this work of non-fiction: providing readers with real-life examples of princesses and their lives. I anticipate this being perfect for writing research and just satisfying my curiosity. 
The Name of the Wind by Patrick Rothfuss — I'm feeling somewhat judged that I consider myself to be a fantasy fan and yet haven't started this series yet. It sounds right up my alley, so I'm eager to give this a read.
The Girls at the Kingfisher Club by Genevieve Valentine — This is a retelling of the "Twelve Dancing Princesses" that takes place in New York City during the 1920s. Really, that's all I need to know at this point.

With my birthday next month, I'm hoping that maybe I'll receive a few of these.

What books do you hope to own soon?
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August 25, 2014

Review: Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro

Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro
Published: 2006, Vintage (Originally 2005)
Genre: Adult Literary Fiction, Science Fiction
Source: Library
Goodreads · Amazon · Barnes & Noble

It had never occurred to me that our lives, which had been so closely interwoven, could unravel with such speed. If I’d known, maybe I’d have kept tighter hold of them, and not let unseen tides pull us apart.

Kathy H. is proud to admit that she’s a really good carer. So good, in fact, that she’s been doing the job for over eleven years now, long after her friends and peers have moved on to the next stages of their lives. But being reunited with her childhood friend Ruth has helped Kathy to reminisce about their past, back from when they were classmates at the idyllic and isolated private school, Hailsham, in an alternate 1970s England. There the students were given a solid education and rewarded for their creativity, yet kept separate from the rest of the world.

As Kathy’s memories progress through time and become intertwined with her current relationships with Ruth and their friend Tommy, she slowly reveals the truths about their education, their lives, and their futures.
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August 20, 2014

Series Review: The Legend Trilogy by Marie Lu

Opening Thoughts
Lu’s debut trilogy hadn’t really been on my radar until two coworkers decided to establish an impromptu readalong. Because when do I ever say no to an additional chance to read and discuss books?

I wasn’t overly impressed with Legend and would have been content to end reading the trilogy there, but shortly thereafter I had the opportunity to borrow the remaining two books and took it. And I’m actually glad I did so. Overall, the story got better as the series progressed.

Although I will try to focus here on my general thoughts of this series, this review will contain some spoilers for Legend. I will try to limit spoilers for Prodigy and Champion.

Legend by Marie Lu
Series: Legend, #1
Published: 2011, Penguin
Genre: Young Adult Dystopian
Source: Library

June Iparis has achieved the practically-impossible score of 1500 out of 1500 on the government-mandated Trial each citizen must take at the age of 10. She’s considered to be a prodigy and the Republic of America’s most valuable asset.

Day received a failing score on his Trial, which means that his “inferior” genes are not wanted by the Republic as it continues to wage war against the Colonies, another governmental system developed in the ruined wasteland that once was the United States of America. Day was experimented on and then was supposed to be sent to a “work camp” (in actuality a death camp), but he escaped and has been actively working to thwart the Republic ever since.

The Republic, which has worked so hard to turn June into a model soldier and place Day behind bars, is ultimately responsible for bringing the two of them together. And once together, they discover that neither is able to return to his/her old life ever again.
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August 18, 2014

Review: The Glass Casket by McCormick Templeman

The Glass Casket by McCormick Templeman
Published: 2014, Delacorte Press
Genre: Young Adult Fantasy
Source: Purchased

No, it was best not to look straight at the truth of the thing. Only sometimes, truth has ways of revealing itself.

The Glass Casket is essentially a work of Gothic fiction, replete with a naive young heroine, a doomed romance, deaths that hint at the supernatural, and an isolated provincial town. Well, a work of Gothic fiction that traverses far past the line of being probably supernatural, instead becoming undeniably supernatural.

Rowan Rose and her scholarly father live in the quiet village of Nag’s Head. Nag’s Head is a town isolated from the rest of the kingdom, whose people rely on superstitions and centuries-old beliefs to drive their actions. Practical, scientifically-minded Rowan and her father don’t quite fit in with their neighbors, but it is where they call home.

Being in Nag’s Head has helped them lead safe, if uneventful, lives since the death of Rowan’s mother shortly after Rowan was born. But then changes start happening to their village - changes that threaten their underlying sense of safety, of certainty. First, five royal soldiers journey past Nag’s Head into the mountainous, wintery forest and are found dead shortly thereafter. Then, a man, a woman, and a girl Rowan’s age move into the village, claiming to be Rowan’s relatives. Because the deaths of five of its soldiers cannot go unnoticed, the crown sends the queen’s brother, along with his young ward, to aid the town in some investigation into the incident. With the influx of new people, a loss of the village’s anonymity, and an unspoken terror that comes ever closer, Rowan knows that things can never be the same.
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August 15, 2014

Ready to Become a Fan of... Patrick Ness

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 Patrick Ness.

About the Author:
Patrick Ness, an award-winning novelist, has written for England’s Radio 4 and Sunday Telegraph and is a literary critic for The Guardian. He has written many books, including the Chaos Walking Trilogy, The Crash of Hennington, Topics About Which I Know Nothing, and A Monster Calls.

He has won numerous awards, including the Guardian Children’s Fiction Prize, the Booktrust Teenage Prize, and the Costa Children’s Book Award. Born in Virginia, he currently lives in London. (source

Work I'm most looking forward to reading:
The Knife of Never Letting Go
Prentisstown isn't like other towns. Everyone can hear everyone else's thoughts in an overwhelming, never-ending stream of Noise. Just a month away from the birthday that will make him a man, Todd and his dog, Manchee -- whose thoughts Todd can hear too, whether he wants to or not -- stumble upon an area of complete silence. They find that in a town where privacy is impossible, something terrible has been hidden -- a secret so awful that Todd and Manchee must run for their lives.

But how do you escape when your pursuers can hear your every thought? (Goodreads)

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August 12, 2014

Top Ten Books I'm Not Sure I Want To Read

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted by The Broke and the BookishThis week we're discussing those books we once had every intention of reading...and now, we're not so sure about. I limited my response to some books that I have actually acquired/purchased (so have in my possession) that I just may not actually take the time to read.

 First, an ARC:
Plus One by Elizabeth Fama
I was actually really excited about reading this at one point, and I can't even pinpoint just why I no longer feel like reading it. I'd say it's because I don't want to read dystopians, but that's not quite true. I just can't muster enough curiosity to battle this inertia.

Then, some ebooks:  
The Testing (The Testing, #1) by Joelle Charbonneau
Partially because I'm not in the mood for a new dystopian series. Mostly because I'm not sure how interested I ever was in this particular series. I fell bait to it being free for Kindle.
The Night Creatures trilogy (Burn Bright, Angel Arias, Shine Light) by Marianne de Pierres
Again, free for Kindle. It sounds like a cool concept and it's Aussie YA. But I haven't heard the best things with regard to this series, so that's definitely affecting my desire to pick this up. 
The Books of Bayern series (Enna Burning, River Secrets, Forest Born) by Shannon Hale I did love Hale's The Goose Girl (my review), but I think mainly because it was a fairy-tale retelling. I'm just not sure I love this world/these characters enough to continue reading about it. 
Stray (Touchstone, #1) by Andrea K. Höst I didn't love Höst's And All the Stars (my review) nearly as much as I'd hoped. I have heard great things about her works (this series in particular), but, really, I just bought this because it was free for Kindle.  
Entangled (Spellbound, #1) by Nikki Jefford This was actually the first ebook I purchased when I started blogging. I'm not sure how I heard about it, but I thought buying it was a good idea at the time. It just doesn't sound like the type of story I'd enjoy, unfortunately.   
The Registry (The Registry, #1) by Shannon Stoker I know that basically everyone seems to have disliked this book. But I found it free on Kindle and it does sound like something I could like. The issue here is going to be starting it with the knowledge so many people haven't enjoyed it.
Finally, a few audio books:
Of Poseidon (Of Poseidon, #1) by Anna Banks
The False Prince (The Ascendance Trilogy, #1) by Jennifer A. Nielsen
The Raven Boys (The Raven Boys, #1) by Maggie Stiefvater These basically all have the same rationale. I'm not opposed to reading them (in fact, I really, really want to read the latter two), but I have no real way to listen to audiobooks at this time, so the amount of effort I'll have to put in to listen to them makes me disinclined to read them.
So, am I crazy? Should I reconsider any of these books?
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August 11, 2014

Review: Half a King by Joe Abercrombie

Half a King by Joe Abercrombie
Series: Shattered Sea, #1
Published: 2014, Del Rey
Genre: Young Adult Fantasy
Source: Publisher via Netgalley

A wise minister weighs the greater good, Mother Gundring always said, and finds the lesser evil. Surely a wise king could only do the same?

In a world where a leader’s worth seems to be determined by his fighting skills, Prince Yarvi of Gettland had the misfortune of being born with a crippled hand. Due to a considerable degree of mental acuity and the fact that he’s only the second son, Yarvi has found a way out of the constant pain and harassment of being seen as half a man; instead, he’s been training for years to become a minister, an advisor for the people.

All is as it should be until shortly before Yarvi is poised to take the test to become a minister, when he learns that his father and brother have been murdered in one fell swoop, effectively leaving him as King Yarvi. It’s a position that no one wants for him, least of all Yarvi himself. Determined to make the best of his situation, Yarvi pledges to avenge his father and brother. The act of vengeance, however, is no simple task, and soon Yarvi finds himself far away from home, with seemingly insurmountable obstacles barring his path.

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August 8, 2014

Review: Vampire Academy by Richelle Mead

Vampire Academy by Richelle Mead
Series: Vampire Academy, #1
Published: 2013, Razorbill (Originally 2007)
Genre: Young Adult Paranormal
Source: Purchased

Only a true best friend can protect you from your immortal enemies.

Rose and Lissa have adjusted to life on the road as much as could be expected for two teen girls being hunted by vampires can be. Nearly a year ago they fled their academy without warning, but as the last of her line and of a royal lineage to boot, the academy’s forces have been searching for them. The academy isn’t the only danger present to Rose and Lissa, however; the undead vampires, known as Strigoi, are always seeking out Lissa’s kind.

For Lissa is a Moroi, a full-blooded vampire. And Rose is known as a dhampir, a half-vampire, half-human being whose main purpose is to protect the Moroi. Although they haven’t gone through any formal ceremony, Rose has bonded herself to Lissa, considering herself to be Lissa’s de facto guardian.

Rose thinks she’s got things under control until they find themselves at a stalemate with another dhampir from their academy, and soon the two girls are being brought back to their “home,” the place where they’re trained and kept safe from the Strigoi. But they left St. Vladimir's Academy for a reason, and Rose is no longer convinced being there will keep Lissa safe.

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August 5, 2014

Review: Prisoner of Night and Fog by Anne Blankman

Prisoner of Night and Fog by Anne Blankman
Series: Prisoner of Night and Fog, #1
Published: 2014, Balzer + Bray
Genre: Young Adult Historical Fiction
Source: Library

A dull buzzing sounds in her ears. If she and her people were mistaken about the Jews, then they were mistaken about everything. Without that screw, the entire machine would eventually break down. She felt a sob rise in her throat, and had to swallow it down. Uncle Dolf and Papa couldn’t be wrong, could they?

The past decade has been a pretty charmed one for Gretchen Müller. After witnessing first-hand the hunger, insecurity, and hopelessness that pervaded the German people following its defeat in World War I, Gretchen’s family started regaining hope through the efforts of the up-and-coming National Socialist Party, led by her father’s war comrade. Their loyalty to this new party came at a cost - her father’s life - but, ever since Gretchen’s father died in service to Adolf Hitler, the Müllers have been take care of and respected. Gretchen lovingly refers to Hitler as her uncle and is proud to support his causes.

Until suddenly she finds that she’s not. Her awakening starts with the sight of her brother and his friend brutally attacking a Jewish man simply for being present, and continues as she meets a young Jewish reporter and realizes that he isn’t all that different from her after all. Soon Gretchen realizes that all the truths she’s held dear are little more than a lie, and she’s determined to no longer contribute to the National Socialist Party’s cause. But deciding to rebel is one thing - actually rebelling is a whole other challenge.

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