Friday, February 27, 2015

Librarian Review: Etiquette and Espionage by Gail Carriger

Etiquette & Espionage (Finishing School, #1)Summary:
Sophronia isn't the lady her mother wishes her to be. She likes climbing, figuring out how things work, and getting into trouble a bit too much. In an attempt to tame her wild ways, Sophronia's mother sends her off to finishing school. Little does she know this finishing school will do more than teach Sophronia the etiquette of polite society, it will also teach her how to be a phenomenal spy.

Often I  read the first book in a series and usually go no farther. Sometimes because the book fails to hook me and sometimes because I have so many other things to read. With this series I believe I will make an effort to read more. The characters were well drawn and interesting and I think I want to know more about Sophronia's life and lessons at finishing school.

As I said before, the characters are well drawn. Sophronia is an interesting main character and you never know what kind trouble she will be getting into. She is a plucky and sassy heroine who refuses to apologize for what society would see as her shortcomings. As the novel progresses you begin to realize that those shortcomings are her biggest assets. Throughout the novel, you begin to learn more about her new friends and the school. Some of the people she meets at the school are typical of the "bad girl" boarding school characters, but other characters are more fleshed out.

The action is fast paced and the plot resolves itself well. I really enjoyed all the humor in the book too--it is nice when a book isn't so serious. If all the books are like this, it will be a fun series to explore.

Audiobook Review:
The audiobook is narrated by Moira Quirk who does an excellent job with the narration. Her voices were fun and her pacing is great. The unabridged audio is 8 hours and 55 minutes in length. It is a Hachette Audio publication. I loved listening to the audio and will probably do the rest of the series on audio as well.

This is a fun and entertaining read that never takes itself too seriously. I recommend it for fans of steampunk and anyone who likes a good boarding school adventure.

Cautions for Sensitive Readers:

Sex: None
Alcohol: Might have been mentioned, but not significant.
Language: None
Violence: Some, but mostly just mild shenanigans.

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Waiting On Wednesday: The Orphan Queen by Jodi Meadows

“Waiting On Wednesday” is a weekly event hosted by Jill over at Breaking The Spine, and it gives you a chance to spotlight a book that you are eagerly waiting to be released.

This week, I picked:

The Orphan Queen
By Jodi Meadows
Publication Date: March 10, 2015

Summary from Goodreads:

Wilhelmina has a hundred identities.

She is a princess. When the Indigo Kingdom conquered her homeland, Wilhelmina and other orphaned children of nobility were taken to Skyvale, the Indigo Kingdom’s capital. Ten years later, they are the Ospreys, experts at stealth and theft. With them, Wilhelmina means to take back her throne.

She is a spy. Wil and her best friend, Melanie, infiltrate Skyvale Palace to study their foes. They assume the identities of nobles from a wraith-fallen kingdom, but enemies fill the palace, and Melanie’s behavior grows suspicious. With Osprey missions becoming increasingly dangerous and their leader more unstable, Wil can’t trust anyone.

She is a threat. Wraith is the toxic by-product of magic, and for a century using magic has been forbidden. Still the wraith pours across the continent, reshaping the land and animals into fresh horrors. Soon it will reach the Indigo Kingdom. Wilhelmina’s magic might be the key to stopping the wraith, but if the vigilante Black Knife discovers Wil’s magic, she will vanish like all the others

Jodi Meadows introduces a vivid new fantasy full of intrigue, romance, dangerous magic, and one girl’s battle to reclaim her place in the world.

Why I Picked it:

I absolutely adored Fire by Kristin Cashore, and Throne of Glass by Sarah J. Maas, and The Orphan Queen sounds like an intriguing mix of the two. Not to mention the fact that I like reading fairytales where the princess is the one who saves the day instead of playing the damsel in distress.

If you think that The Orphan Queen sounds interesting and would like to read it, click this link and it will take you to this book on the library’s Website where you can put your name on the hold list.

Monday, February 23, 2015

Monday Meme Spotlight: Classics Retold

     Ah, the classics. A lot of people pick them up and immediately put them back down. The print is tiny, the words are long, and the details come in heaps. But everyone says they're SO amazing- so how can you get the gist without reading the whole book or reading through the dry SparkNotes? Try a YA retelling- there's a whole lot out there. Here are a few that I like.

1. Masque of the Red Death- Bethany Griffin: This is a retelling of the short story of same name by the master of suspense, Edgar Allen Poe. While few, if any, can live up to his writing, Ms. Griffin does an admirable job expanding on the mysterious thriller. Though Poe's work is primarily metaphorical, Griffin takes a literal stance on the plot of a plague invading a lavish party. I thoroughly enjoyed it, and I appreciated the retelling of Poe's classic. Click here to get the retelling, or here to try Poe's classic. You won't regret either. And check out Poe's awesome statue by clicking that link. 

2. The Fool's Girl- Celia Rees: This is a retelling of Shakespeare's classic play, Twelfth Night. While it's not the first, it's absolutely one of my favorites. The novel takes place in Elizabethan England, and Shakespeare even makes an appearance as a character, leading, of course, to many adventures. It's filled with humor and suspense (one of the main characters is a fool, a jester, as the title implies) and leads to an epic quest to find a stolen relic. Check it out here or wade through Shakespearean English (with helpful commentary) here. They're both worth it!

3. For Darkness Shows the Stars- Diana Peterfreund: Here we find a really, really cool retelling of a great classic- Jane Austen's Persuasion, set in the wilds That's right. Space. It's a sci-fi delight, with love lost and regained, an extraordinary journey, and something that isn't a spin-off of the more well-known Pride and Prejudice (not that I don't love that one too). But this twist on a great classic provides a new perspective- humanity has been decimated, and they are living in a world ruled by anti-technology tyrants called 'Luddites'. It's a wild ride, I assure you. Click here to check out the book or here to enjoy Austen's classic.

4. The Once Upon a Time series- Various authors: There are a ton of books in this series, all classic fairy tales retold by some excellent authors. From Beauty and the Beast (Belle) to Jack and the Bean Stalk (The World Above) this series covers a wide variety of classic tales, so there are many options for every preference. My favorites, personally, are The World Above (previously mentioned), The Diamond Secret (a story of Anastasia), and Violet Eyes (The Princess and the Pea). Click here to take a look at the selection- I'm sure there will be something to interest you! Or click here to order a book that contains many of the original fairy tales from which these books are taken. 

    No matter what kind of book you like to read, there's something out there for you. If you don't feel like tackling the originals, check out one of these books or google 'classics retold' to find even more YA adaptations of those fantastic, if difficult, stories. 


Friday, February 20, 2015

Librarian Review: I Was Here by Gayle Forman

I Was HereSummary:

Meg planned it all carefully. She sent out timed emails, ordered the poison, tied up the loose ends, and finally she did it. What she didn’t realize was that her best friend Cody wouldn’t be able to let her go. Cody and Meg did everything together, they grew up together and were never without each other until Meg goes off to college and then commits suicide. After finding some encrypted files on Meg’s computer, Cody finds herself on a journey to understand, fill in the gaps, and discover that you never really know someone.


Gayle Forman’s touch is like gold. Every book she writes is a work of art. I remember crying my eyes out while reading If I Stay, something I don’t normally do. I still can’t bring myself to watch the movie. Still, I was thrilled to see this new offering from this remarkable author.

I Was Here is the story of a journey. Anyone who has been touched by a suicide knows that there are so many questions and recriminations that arise in the lives of the survivors. Cody both blames herself and strives to understand why her best friend would make that choice. She strives to understand why Meg would make that choice and leave her behind.

Cody’s emotions and her journey are incredibly believable. Cody follows Meg’s footsteps to find out what led her to her final choice. This journey is painful for Cody, and incredibly difficult. In this journey she will discover herself, her friend, and that knowing can be more painful that she ever imagined.

Audiobook Review:
The audio version of this book is produced by Listening Library and read by Jorjeana Marie. Marie does a fabulous job narrating this heart wrenching novel. Her narration makes Cody’s voice authentic and believable. The audiobook is 7 hours and 42 minutes in length and the production is well done. If you like audiobooks, this is a good way to experience this novel.


This is a difficult novel to both review and like. Forman’s writing is remarkable and her ability to dredge forth those tormented emotions is amazing. This novel is a mystery and a journey. Cody wants to understand and find the answers to why Meg did what she did. She finds herself walking and crossing some dangerous boundaries to find the reasons behind Meg’s actions. This book is very emotional, but readers will understand Cody’s frustration and need to know. Forman knows her audience and knows how to draw them in with an emotional and challenging story. Overall this book is incredibly well written and believable, just be prepared for the scars it may leave behind.

Cautions for Sensitive Readers:

Ultimately, this is a book about suicide and understanding the motivations behind a suicide. As such it is painful, and at times graphic. Cody’s journey is not easy and would not be realistic if it were easy.   These are college age teens and you will find references to sex, drugs, alcohol, and some foul language. Recommend this book to older teens who like the works of Forman, Ellen Hopkins, and authors who like to push the reader to the emotional edge. 

Click here to place a hold on the book.

Click here to place a hold on the book on CD.

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Waiting On Wednesday: A Wicked Thing by Rhiannon Thomas

“Waiting On Wednesday” is a weekly event hosted by Jill over at Breaking The Spine, and it gives you a chance to spotlight a book that you are eagerly waiting to be released.

This week, I picked:

A Wicked Thing
By Rhiannon Thomas
Publication Date: February 24, 2015

From Goodreads:

Rhiannon Thomas's dazzling debut novel is a spellbinding reimagining of Sleeping Beauty and what happens after happily ever after.

One hundred years after falling asleep, Princess Aurora wakes up to the kiss of a handsome prince and a broken kingdom that has been dreaming of her return. All the books say that she should be living happily ever after. But as Aurora understands all too well, the truth is nothing like the fairy tale.

Her family is long dead. Her "true love" is a kind stranger. And her whole life has been planned out by political foes while she slept.

As Aurora struggles to make sense of her new world, she begins to fear that the curse has left its mark on her, a fiery and dangerous thing that might be as wicked as the witch who once ensnared her. With her wedding day drawing near, Aurora must make the ultimate decision on how to save her kingdom: marry the prince or run.

Rhiannon Thomas weaves together vivid scenes of action, romance, and gorgeous gowns to reveal a richly imagined world … and Sleeping Beauty as she’s never been seen before.

Why I picked it:

I’ve always been a big fan of fairytale retellings, and I am even more excited for this one, because I’ve always been curios to see what happens after Aurora wakes up

If you’re curious to see how Aurora handles everything after being asleep for 100 years, click here to put your name on the hold list.

Monday, February 16, 2015

Monday Meme Spotlight: Debut Novels of 2014

     Writing is hard- take it from someone who's tried, and then decided it was just easier to read other people's books instead. No matter who you are, being an author is in your grasp if you have the tenacity and determination to do so. But innumerable times every year, someone bridges the gap between wannabe writer and actual author. Here are a few of my favorite YA debuts from last year, in no particular order. 

1. Prisoner of Night and Fog: Anne Blankman- This book grabbed me in seconds, and didn't let go until the last word. I know people say this a lot about books, and most of the time it isn't true for others, but seriously. It hooked me, and I'm not a fan of its type, normally. It tells the story of Gretchen, the daughter of one of Hitler's top men, who calls him Uncle Dolf and believes wholeheartedly in his practices, until she meets Jewish reporter Daniel Cohen, who opens her eyes to Hitler's horror and the truth behind her father's death. This book seriously has everything but magic and unicorns- thrills, suspense, danger, murder, romance, mystery, history, etc. I highly recommend it as one of the best books I've ever read, and you can get it from the library here. Also keep a lookout for its sequel, Conspiracy of Blood and Smoke, out in 2015.

2. The Aftermath: Jen Alexander- This book was a real roller coaster. The first in a new series, it's about a girl who sold herself to participate in a brutal real-life game where the people are controlled by rich teens not in the game. But the main character is different- she knows it's a game, and she wants out. With the help of a mysterious administrator of the game, she goes on a mission to get out- she knows there's a better life out there for her. This was a book I picked up becuase I ran out of things to read (amazingly) and it shocked me, amazed me, and made me eager for book two. Check it out here.

3. The Promise of Amazing: Robin Constantine- This debut novel promised amazing, and it delivered. Instead of being a normal, angsty teen romance, it provided a unique perspective, a fun plot, and a happy ending for all the believers in that sort of thing, like me. I'm planning to read it again, myself, so that should be proof enough that it was worth reading the first time. If  you want to read it, click here.

4. Alienated: Melissa Landers- This beginning to a new sci-fi YA series came out early in 2014, but it stuck with me. Not many books can manage to put so much of an imprint on me that I remember the plot a year later, but this one did, and I'm pumped for the recently-released book 2, Invaded. Alienated is normal high school drama, except for one thing- the exchange student is an alien. A hot alien. And this Aelyx, hot alien visitor, knows things about Earth that could change the world. As the main character, Cara, goes in search of answers to the mystery of what these aliens really want with them- and it moves past high-school drama into an intense thriller full of secrets and mystery for those who need more substance in their reading material. Click here to take a look and request it for yourself.

   Now that we're into 2015, I've already noted several new authors this year to check out as well, so keep an eye out for cool debuts you can look forward to this coming year!

Friday, February 13, 2015

Teen Book Review: The Summer I Turned Pretty by Jenny Han

The Summer I Turned Pretty (Summer, #1)The Summer I Turned Pretty by Jenny Han is an adorable story with relatable characters and a cute story line. Isabella, ‘Belly’ goes to her mother’s best friend, Susannah’s beach house, every summer. But this year something changes with Susannah’s two sons. They notice Belly’s beauty for the first time, and apparently they like what they see. With heart breaks and first dates, this book is a pleasing story to those of you who like a little love, and maybe some betrayal.
 (Reviewed by Gingerbread637, 13, Western Middle School)

Click here to reserve a copy.  

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Waiting On Wednesday: Dreamfire by Kit Alloway

“Waiting On Wednesday” is a weekly event hosted by Jill over at Breaking The Spine, and it gives you a chance to spotlight a book that you are eagerly waiting to be released.

This week, I picked:

By Kit Alloway
Publication Date: February 24, 2015

Summary from Goodreads:
Joshlyn Weaver has always lived with a big secret. Ordinary kids spend their free time going to the movies, hanging out with friends, and searching on the internet.  But for her, an evening at home usually means entering people's dreams.  For many generations, her family has been part of a very powerful and very secretive society of dream walkers. Tasked with the responsibility of lowering the world's general anxiety—which only leads to war and strife in the waking world—their job has always been to stop nightmares before they go too far.  By stopping nightmares while sleeping, they help to stop nightmares in real life. But when an ancient feud within the dream walker society resurfaces right when a seemingly unconnected series of very strange and very scary events start occurring during her dream walks, Josh finds herself in a race against time. The one true dream walker has never been known. Could she be the one?  

Why I Picked it:

The whole idea of there being a society of people whose purpose is to stop nightmares before the go too far is something that is very intriguing, and I can’t wait to see how exactly dream walking works. Is it an astral projection of yourself that steps into the dreams of other people? Or is it after you fall asleep yourself that you are able to “walk” into the dream?

If you think that Dreamfire sounds interesting and would like to read it, click the link and it will take you to this book on the library’s Website where you can put your name on the hold list.