Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Exit, Pursued by a Bear by E. K. Johnston

“I love you,” Polly says suddenly when I’m almost to the door.

“I know,” I say.

Hermione Winters has been a flyer. She’s been captain of her cheerleading team. The envied girlfriend and the undisputed queen of her school. Now it’s her last year and those days and those labels are fading fast. In a few months she’ll be a different person. She thinks she’s ready for whatever comes next.

But then someone puts something in her drink at a party, and in an instant she finds herself wearing new labels, ones she never imagined:

Victim. Survivor. That raped girl.

Even though this was never the future she imagined, one essential thing remains unchanged: Hermione can still call herself Polly Olivier’s best friend, and that may be the truest label of all.

Heartbreaking and empowering, Exit, Pursued by a Bear is the story of transcendent friendship in the face of trauma.

“I love you,” I say, because I really, really do.

“I know,” says Polly.” - taken from Goodreads.com

Exit, Pursued by a Bear is based on William Shakespeare’s play, The Winter’s Tale, and takes it’s title from Shakespeare’s most famous stage direction from the same play. The first half of the play focuses on King Leontes jealousy, that he has dreamed up on his own, when he thinks his pregnant wife, Hermione, has cheated on him and the baby she carries is not his. The baby is abandoned but raised by a shepherd. The second half of the play actually occurs sixteen years later and focuses on the love story between Hermione and Leontes’ daughter and the son of King Polixenes, the man Leontes believed was the father of Hermione’s baby. In the end, Leontes realizes the girl really is his daughter and that Hermione is still alive. He is happy. Check out SparkNotes if you want a detailed summary of the play.

This book was incredible. Even though it touches and discusses taboo topics, that is not what the heart of this story is about. It is about what true friendship is and what it means to be on a team. Even though the ending is left somewhat open ended, there is enough to imagine what course Hermione’s life will take. A definite suggestion that I will continue to pass on.

Burning Glass by Kathryn Purdie (Burning Glass book 1)

“Her gift is the empire’s curse.”

“Sonya was born with the rare gift to feel what those around her feel, both physically and emotionally - a gift she’s kept hidden from the empire for seventeen long years. But when a tragic accident pushes her into the spotlight, Sonya is hauled off to the palace and forced to serve the emperor as his sovereign Auraseer.

Tasked with sensing the intentions of would-be assassins, Sonya is under constant pressure to protect the emperor. But Sonya’s power is untamed and reckless, and she can’t always decipher where other people’s impulses end and her own begin. In a palace full of warring emotions and looming darkness, Sonya fears that the biggest danger to the empire may be herself.

As she struggles to wrangle her abilities, Sonya seeks refuge in her tenuous alliances with the charming-yet-volatile Emperor Valko and his idealistic younger brother, Prince  Anton. But when threats of revolution pit the two brothers against each other, Sonya must choose which brother to trust - and which to betray..” - taken from the front flap

I enjoyed this book but several parts of it felt familiar; girl seeking redemption for her past actions, love triangle between two brothers, girl finding herself and which boy was her her. A good solid fantasy that I'll continue to read.

Visit Kathryn’s Purdie’s website.

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

The Last Boy and Girl in the World by Siobhan Vivian

“What if your town was sliding underwater and everyone was ordered to pack up and leave? How would you and your friends spend your last days together?

While the adults plan for the future, box up their possessions, and find new places to live, Keeley Hewitt and her friends decide to go out with a bang. There are parties in abandoned houses. Canoe races down Main Street. The goal is to make the most of every minute they still have together.

And for Keeley, that means taking one last shot at the boy she’s loved forever.

There’s a weird sort of bravery that comes from knowing there’s nothing left to lose. You might do things you normally wouldn’t. Or say things you shouldn’t. The reward almost always outweighs the risk.

Almost.

It’s the end of Aberdeen, but the beginning of Keeley’s first love story. It just might not turn out the way she thought. Because it’s not always clear what’s worth fighting for and what you should let become a memory.” - taken from the front flap

The author has loosely based the story on real events. Each chapter is dated and includes the weather forecast for Aberdeen on that day.

It hasn't stopped raining in Aberdeen. To make matters worse, the temperatures haven't risen, even though it is May. The ground isn't really thawed and there is no place for the excessive rainfall to go. It was almost as if spring never occurred. Junior Keeley Hewitt has harbored a crush on Senior Jesse Ford for years. She is known throughout the school as being obnoxious and doesn’t have a lot of experience in the guy department. A day of sandbagging on the riverfront leads to the beginnings of flirting by text messages between the two of them. Things begin to escalate on the night of the Spring Fling when the threats of a severe thunderstorm come true and the dance is almost canceled. When Keeley makes a mad dash for the gym during the downpour, Jesse sweeps her off of her feet to dance in the middle of the parking lot. Things are looking her way until she tells Jesse that she loves him. Her voice betrays her true feelings and in the end, Keeley comes across Jesse hooking up with his on again, off again girlfriend.

Heartbroken, for school nemesis, Levi Hamrick comes across her after witnessing Jesse with Victoria. And that's when the power goes off. Everyone leaves and days pass without a word from Jesse. The storm doesn't let up. Eventually, streets fill with water and the governor orders the citizens of Aberdeen to the high school, which is been set up as an evacuation center. When the knock on the door comes late one night at the Hewitt house, Keeley and her parents are surprised to find Sheriff Hamrick, Levi’s father there. Even though they live near the top of the hill, her family is made to leave. Her father vehemently protests, to no avail. Since her father became disabled, his only hobby has been going to the local government meetings and speaking out against and questioning things that are going on around town. Most of the residents think that Mr. Hewitt is a crackpot.

At the high school gym, things get interesting. Jesse begins talking with Keeley again but Mr. Hewitt realizes that his worst fears about the town of Aberdeen are coming true. The governor will be meeting with the town residents the next morning. Corps of Engineers’ vehicles are in the parking lot. When the mayor and Sheriff refuse to answer any of Mr. Hewitt's questions, he packs his family up and leaves. They borrow and sheriff office’s canoe to head towards home.

Sleeping in late the next morning, Keeley wakes up to discover that the house is full of people, including Jesse's family. It turns out that her father was right to question what was going on around Aberdeen. The governor has announced that the town of Aberdeen is being condemned because of all of the flooding And the reservoir will be created in its place. The townspeople start to look towards Mr. Hewitt for guidance. This disaster is just what he needed to get over his depression. He gets out of the house to organize cleanup and construction crews and begins the fight to save Aberdeen. Keeley gets a job with Levi to clear the houses around town for destruction.

What will happen to the town of Aberdeen? Is there something underhanded going on like Mr. Hewitt believes? Does the Hewitt family leave behind the town where they have lived for Generations? Who is the last boy in the world? How do he and Keeley play out their final days in Aberdeen? Is it Jesse Ford or Levi Hamrick?

Monday, May 16, 2016

Into the Dim by Helen B. Taylor (Into the Dim book 1)

Known mostly as “that homeschooled girl” in her small town, Hope Walton has crippling phobias and an eidetic memory that doesn’t exactly endear her to her adoptive father’s very blond, very southern family. When her mom is killed in a natural disaster thousands of miles from home, the sixteen-year-old recedes even further from her insular life. But after being shipped overseas to an aunt she’s never met, Hope learns there’s more to her mother’s “death” than she ever dreamed.

At her aunt’s manor, high in the Scottish Highlands, Hope begins to unravel the shocking truth about her family. Her mom was more than a brilliant academic but also a member of a secret society of time travelers. And she is alive, though currently trapped in the twelfth century during the age of King Henry II and Eleanor of Aquitaine. Now, in a last-ditch effort to save her mom, the sheltered teen must join the Viators, a team of time-jumping Indiana Joneses, who have only seventy-two hours to stage a rescue.

Passing through the Dim, Hope enters a brutal medieval world of political intrigue, danger, and violence. A place where any serious interference could alter the very course of history. And when she meets a boy who's face is impossibly familiar, she must decide between her mission and her heart - both of which could leave Hope trapped in the past forever..” - taken from the front flap

I literally devoured this book. Time travel seems to be the current rage in YA literature and this was the third such book I’ve read this year. What I really liked about this beginning of a new series is that the characters travel back to only one point in time. There, they are thrust into the court scene during the time in which Henry II and Eleanor of Aquitaine are crowned the King and Queen of England. Several historical figures play major roles in this book. This book does leave several plot lines unresolved and readers will be eagerly anticipating the next book.

Who is Hope Walton? Why did her mother keep her aunt from her? Can Hope go back in time and rescue her mother? How does she know this mysterious boy?

Thursday, May 12, 2016

Before I Fall by Lauren Oliver

“What if you only had one day to live? What would you do? Who would you kiss? And how far would you go to save your own life?”

“For popular high school senior Samantha Kingston, February 12—"Cupid Day"—should be one big party, a day of valentines and roses and the privileges that come with being at the top of the social pyramid. And it is…until she dies in a terrible accident that night.

However, she still wakes up the next morning. In fact, Sam lives the last day of her life seven times, until she realizes that by making even the slightest changes, she may hold more power than she ever imagined.” - taken from Goodreads.com

Ok, I listened to this title on audio and didn’t get to finish it before I had to return it. Knowing that, I read the end of the book. Devastated, I found a very spoiler review on Goodreads that told me what would happen. I didn’t finish listening to or reading this book. My emotional well being just wouldn’t allow it. It is being made into a movie and time will just have to tell if I will be able to watch it.

The Rose and the Dagger by Renee Ahdieh (The Wrath and the Dawn book 2)

SPOILER ALERT! If you haven’t read the first book in the series, The Wrath and the Dawn, Stop! I don’t want to ruin the story for you.

“I am surrounded on all sides by a desert. A guest, in a prison of sand and sun. My family is here. And I do not know whom I can trust.”

“In a land on the brink of war, Shahrzad has been torn from the love of her husband Khalid, the Caliph of Khorasan. She once believed him a monster, but his secrets revealed a man tormented by guilt and a powerful curse—one that might keep them apart forever. Reunited with her family, who have taken refuge with enemies of Khalid, and Tariq, her childhood sweetheart, she should be happy. But Tariq now commands forces set on destroying Khalid's empire. Shahrzad is almost a prisoner caught between loyalties to people she loves. But she refuses to be a pawn and devises a plan.

While her father, Jahandar, continues to play with magical forces he doesn't yet understand, Shahrzad tries to uncover powers that may lie dormant within her. With the help of a tattered old carpet and a tempestuous but sage young man, Shahrzad will attempt to break the curse and reunite with her one true love.” - Goodreads.com

Can the city of Rey be rebuilt? Will Despina allow Jalal into her and their child’s lives? Does Tariq allow the love of his life, Shahrzad, to live her own? What kind of magic does Jahander’s book contain and what powers does he possess? Can Shazi help Khalid end the curse? Will the two be able to have their own happily ever after?

With an on the edge of your seat action that is both gripping and heart wrenching, fans of the first book will be richly rewarded with an ending that is infinitely better than the fantastic beginning. LOVED this book!!!!!

Three enovellas have also been released.
The Moth and the Flame (book 0.25) is the story of the, Jalal al-Khoury, Captain of the Guard, and Despina.
The Crown and the Arrow (book 0.5) is the story of the night Khalid visits his seventy-second bride, Shahrzad al-Khayzuran, the girl who intrigues him (Free ebook) The Mirror and the Maze (book 1.5) takes place when Khalid finds the city of Rey burning and Shahrzad gone. (Free ebook)

Monday, May 9, 2016

The Crown by Kiera Cass (The Selection book 5)

SPOILER ALERT! If you haven’t read the first Four books in The Selection series, especially The Heir, Stop! I don’t want to ruin the story for you.

“Twenty years have passed since the events of The One, and America and Maxon’s daughter is the first princess to hold a Selection of her own. Princess Eadlyn didn’t think she would find a real partner among the Selection’s thirty-five suitors, let alone true love. But sometimes the heart has a way of surprising you... and now Eadlyn must make a choice that feels more difficult—and more important—than she ever expected.” - Goodreads.com

Who will Eadlyn choose? Does she find true love? What happens with Maxon, America and all their children? Will it be life happily ever after for IllĂ©a’s royal family?

A terrific wrap up to this series that should leave fans satisfied.

Visit Kiera Cass’ website.

Thursday, May 5, 2016

The Raven King by Maggie Stiefvater (The Raven Cycle book 4)

SPOILER ALERT! If you haven’t read the first three books in the series, The Raven Boys, The Dream Thieves and Blue Lily, Lily Blue, Stop! I don’t want to ruin the story for you.

Please visit the Recaptains blog in you need a refresher on the series. These are written by Maggie herself and are well worth the read!

“All her life, Blue has been warned that she will cause her true love's death. She doesn't believe in true love and never thought this would be a problem, but as her life becomes caught up in the strange and sinister world of the Raven Boys, she's not so sure anymore.” - Goodreads.com

Can Gansey finally Glendower and wake him? Will he receive his one favor if he does? Why did Blue's father disappear and who is he really? What is the truth behind Cabeswater? Does Gansey live or die? Will Blue finally kiss Gansey? Is he the “true love” from her prophecy? How does the story end for Blue, the Raven Boys and the ladies of 300 Fox Way?

A bit weird in the opening chapters, readers will soon race to the finish line to see if their suspicions are confirmed or if the rug will be pulled out from underneath their feet. A fitting end to the Raven Cycle.

Visit Maggie Stiefvater’s website.

Monday, May 2, 2016

Nick & Norah's Infinite Playlist by Rachel Cohn & David Levithan

Nick’s just seen the girl who dumped him walk in…with a new guy. What else can he do but ask the strange girl next to him to be his new girlfriend for the next five minutes?
Norah would do anything to avoid conversation with the not not-friend girl who dumped Nick…and to get over the Evil Ex whom Norah never really totally dumped. What else can she do but answer Nick’s question by making out with him?
With one electric, unexpected kiss, the five-minute couple of Nick and Norah set off on an uncharted adventure called the “first date” that will turn into an infinite night of falling in and out (and in and out, and maybe in and maybe out) of love. Theirs is a first date of music, laughter, heartache, confusion, passion, taxi driver wisdom, and a jacket named Salvatore. And of course a killer soundtrack.
As Nick and Norah wander through the middle-of-the-night mystic maze of Manhattan, they share the kind of night you want to never end, where every minute counts and every moment flickers between love and disaster.” front flap of the book.
Definitely not a middle grade book. I loved the story of one night in the lives of Nick and Norah; their adventures and getting to know one another. Be warned the the F word appears about 500+ times. There is also talk of sex and some action occurs but nothing graphic.
Visit Rachel Cohn’s website.
Visit David Levithan’s website.