Monday, August 14, 2017

Moving Again

My family is moving. Again. I did this just a little over three years ago. Fortunately this time it looks as though we will be staying in the same place for a while. In the mean time, things around here might slow down a little. Or a lot.

In addition to the regular moving things, school just started. I can't exactly let that slide even a little bit or we will have a TERRIBLE year. It will be almost impossible to get them back on track if I let things slide even a tiny bit. And even more, moves in my husband's business happen fast. From the date we found out until he reports to work is six weeks, but I want the kids there for homeschool co-op so we really only have a five week turn around really. And we need to find a house.

I'm excellent at handling day to day stress. And even slightly extra stress. I've moved every 2-5 years my whole life so I'm actually pretty good at it. But there are several factors about this move that have ratcheted the stress up even higher than normal and several unknowns that need to turn into knowns very very quickly. And I tend to want to escape from everything with that sort of stress.

Not really. I usually want to run away to a blanket fort and read nothing but romance novels when this level of stress comes on. Though taking all the wine and dark chocolate with me to the blanket fort full of romance novels sounds like a plan. The end result is that I will not have the extra head space I need to read for review. Surely not while doing the books I'm reviewing any sort of justice. And I probably won't be reading any of those books anyway. There may be an occasional Top Ten Tuesday post or Shorter Musings round-up, but if there's nothing for a week or two, don't be surprised. I will be back eventually.

Friday, August 11, 2017

Future Favorite Friday (5)

This is a feature I am starting to highlight upcoming books I'm particularly excited about. If you would like to join me, you are welcome. Please just link back to this post in your own. I've included a Mr. Linky at the bottom. Right now I'm only going to do it the 2nd Friday of the month, but I'm open to doing it more often if there is enough interest.

I can't believe I haven't featured this book on the blog yet. I love Jason Reynolds. I have every book he's written and I adore every single one of them. The man is fiercely talented. This one sounds like it could become my favorite book of his so far. We are getting so many Jason Reynolds books this fall though it feels like drowning in riches. (This, Patina, and the Miles Morales Spiderman book. Woo-hoo!)

A cannon. A strap.
A piece. A biscuit.
A burner. A heater.
A chopper. A gat.
A hammer
A tool
for RULE

Or, you can call it a gun. That’s what fifteen-year-old Will has shoved in the back waistband of his jeans. See, his brother Shawn was just murdered. And Will knows the rules. No crying. No snitching. Revenge. That’s where Will’s now heading, with that gun shoved in the back waistband of his jeans, the gun that was his brother’s gun. He gets on the elevator, seventh floor, stoked. He knows who he’s after. Or does he? As the elevator stops on the sixth floor, on comes Buck. Buck, Will finds out, is who gave Shawn the gun before Will took the gun. Buck tells Will to check that the gun is even loaded. And that’s when Will sees that one bullet is missing. And the only one who could have fired Shawn’s gun was Shawn. Huh. Will didn’t know that Shawn had ever actually USED his gun. Bigger huh. BUCK IS DEAD. But Buck’s in the elevator? Just as Will’s trying to think this through, the door to the next floor opens. A teenage girl gets on, waves away the smoke from Dead Buck’s cigarette. Will doesn’t know her, but she knew him. Knew. When they were eight. And stray bullets had cut through the playground, and Will had tried to cover her, but she was hit anyway, and so what she wants to know, on that fifth floor elevator stop, is, what if Will, Will with the gun shoved in the back waistband of his jeans, MISSES.

And so it goes, the whole long way down, as the elevator stops on each floor, and at each stop someone connected to his brother gets on to give Will a piece to a bigger story than the one he thinks he knows. A story that might never know an END…if WILL gets off that elevator.

Release Date: October 17, 2017 from Atheneum Books

I was so excited to see this lovely surprise show up recently. (Thanks so much to Chachic from Chachic's Book Nook for immediately bringing it to my attention.) This is my favorite of Florand's series and I'm eagerly anticipating this book but thought we were going to have wait longer than this for it. But surprise! It comes out next month!

A hardened exile 

It had taken Lucien Rosier fifteen years at war to rebuild himself after he lost his family. To remake himself, he had left behind even his name. Now a captain in the Foreign Legion, the last thing he wanted was to face his past. Even for her... 

A woman longing for a home 

Lucien Rosier had been her hero once, when everyone else had turned away. Now it was Elena Lyon's turn to rescue him. If she could teach him to believe in love and family again, she would pay back her debts. But after a lifetime of abandonment, she wasn't about to make the mistake of believing in love herself. Not even for him... 

Could two broken hearts find in each other exactly what they needed to heal? 

Release Date: September 12, 2017 self-published

What upcoming releases do you hope are Future Favorites?

Monday, August 7, 2017

The Emperor of Mars

Last year's Secrets of the Dragon Tomb by Patrick Samphire was one of my favorite novels of 2016. The Sullivan Family won a forever place in my heart. That place was only solidified by the recently released sequel The Emperor of Mars.

The Sullivan family has taken up residence in Lunae City since their adventures of the previous year. Freddie is back to work as a spy. Father is working hard at the museum creating an exhibit about the dragon tomb they unearthed and continues to invent. Jane and their mother are still tied up with society function. Olivia is missing Freddie, but finding much to occupy her time. Putty is being Putty, inventing things and coming up with ways to evade her new and unwanted governess (though this latest governess is a force to be reckoned with). Edward finds himself at loose ends. Now that he has realized his family doesn't need him to look after them quite as much as he thought, he is on a quest to find out what he enjoys and wants to do with his life. Then he meets a mysterious thief, discovers an old friend has gone missing, mysterious people have been making ominous inquiries at the museum, and a man seems to be shadowing their family. Suddenly there is another mystery to solve and an old nemesis returns to threaten the Sullivan family again.

Edward's character arc is a truly fascinating one. The first book found him struggling with the responsibility he has for his family and then discovering that they had more depths and strengths than he realized. This book has him struggling to find a place for himself in his suddenly new life caused by the family's move and his own shifting perceptions of everyone around him. As his story continues, he comes to more new realizations about his family, especially his sister Jane, that leave him feeling more out of place and confused. The family dynamics are what I appreciate most about these books and they are further strengthened in this story. Edward and Putty's relationship is put through harder tests in particular. Both of them are struggling in similar yet different ways. Putty knows what she wants but has to deal with others expectations being different from hers. Edward can't figure out what he wants to be, but everyone assumes he is fine and going along as always. Putty wants to be with Edward much of the time, but he his trying to find himself. The conflict between them is real and will feel familiar to anyone who has a close sibling.

There are a few new characters introduced and they are as wonderful as the old. Mina, a half-Martian half-Human girl, is my favorite of  the new characters. She has a great story of her own and a complicated history and motivations. She is certainly there to help Edward discover some things about himself, but she also has her own thing happening that is equally important.

This book is even more action-packed than the first, which is saying something. I continue to be impressed by the Samphire is able to have such action filled plots and do such incredible character building at the same time. It is a fast paced, quick read with plenty of peril, battles, and intrigue to satisfy any avid adventure reader. I appreciate the humor in this book too, which is exactly as subtle and snarky as I like.

If you haven't read Secrets of the Dragon Tomb yet, you should read that one first. Then you won't be able to help but read this one too. They are an excellent set to give to any young adventurer. I could read  a dozen more books set in this world and still want more.

Sunday, July 30, 2017

'17-'18 School Books

Hello Again!

I took some unexpected time off from blogging when my kids were at camp and we were on a family vacation. I truly meant to get some posts scheduled, but it just never happened. Anyway. I am back and school is about to begin again in the Painter house. Every year I like to feature the books I'm requiring my kids to read and discuss with me. (They also get plenty of choice books in between these to just read and enjoy.)

With Bit (8th Grade) I'm doing a genre study over the next two years where we will look at classic examples and tropes in several different genres. These will be supplemented by current titles she gets to choose herself.  What we are tackling this year:

Poisoned Apples is part of a larger unit we're doing on Fairy Tales with a focus on feminism. (I have my fingers crossed she will want to read Bone Gap for her novel for this. I want to talk about it with her so much!!!!) And yes, my son will also get this when he's in 8th grade

We are also going to watch the 1996 Romeo and Juliet

LM (4th grade) is studying Middle Ages, Renaissance, and Reformation in history this year so some of his reading list reflects that. Some of it is just to inspire a further love of reading and have fun. 

He's also getting a unit on Fairy Tales that I will be using several different picture book versions of tales for. As part of that we will also read this Tam Lin by Susan Cooper and Saint George and the Dragon by Margaret Hodges.

I'm excited about this year and so are the kids. I buy them their own copies of all the books we read and they arrived this week. One week until we start!

Friday, July 14, 2017

Future Favorite Friday (4)

This is a feature I am starting to highlight upcoming books I'm particularly excited about. If you would like to join me, you are welcome. Please just link back to this post in your own. I've included a Mr. Linky at the bottom. Right now I'm only going to do it the 2nd Friday of the month, but I'm open to doing it more often if there is enough interest.

I don't think I need to explain my excitement for this first one. Look at that cover. LOOK AT THAT GIRL ON THE COVER. And if that doesn't convince you, read the synopsis. You should be convinced now. 


(But she doesn’t know it yet.)

On the morning of her twelfth birthday, Kiranmala is just a regular sixth grader living in Parsippany, New Jersey… until her parents mysteriously vanish later that day and a rakkhosh demon slams through her kitchen, determined to eat her alive. Turns out there might be some truth to her parents’ fantastical stories—like how Kiranmala is a real Indian princess—and a wealth of secrets about her origin they've kept hidden.

To complicate matters, two crushworthy Indian princes ring her doorbell, insisting they’re here to rescue her. Suddenly, Kiran is swept into another dimension full of magic, winged horses, moving maps, and annoying, talking birds. There she must solve riddles and slay demons all while avoiding the Serpent King of the underworld (who may or may not want to kill her) and the rakkhosh queen (who definitely does) in order to find her parents and basically save New Jersey, her entire world, and everything beyond it…

Release Date: February 14, 2018 from Scholastic Books (Goodreads)

I have to confess: I'm equal parts nervous and excited about this next one. I fervently hope its a favorite. Every time I think about it, I quietly whisper, "Please be good. Be so good." It could go very wrong. I know this. Shakespeare retellings often do. And this is a retelling of Much Ado About Nothing, which is my favorite so....

After she gets kicked out of boarding school, seventeen-year-old Beatrice goes to her uncle’s estate on Long Island. But Hey Nonny Nonny is more than just a rundown old mansion. Beatrice’s cousin, Hero, runs a struggling speakeasy out of the basement—one that might not survive the summer. Along with Prince, a poor young man determined to prove his worth; his brother John, a dark and dangerous agent of the local mob; Benedick, a handsome trust-fund kid trying to become a writer; and Maggie, a beautiful and talented singer; Beatrice and Hero throw all their efforts into planning a massive party to save the speakeasy. Despite all their worries, the summer is beautiful, love is in the air, and Beatrice and Benedick are caught up in a romantic battle of wits that their friends might be quietly orchestrating in the background.

Release Date: September 19, 2017 from Greenwillow Books (Goodreads)

Stephanie Burgis is an auto-buy author for me. I have read and loved all of her books. Even if this weren't written by her, I would want to read it. Look at the beautiful cover! Plus it is Regency England (or Angland in this universe) plus Magic!!! Because it's Stephanie, I know it's going to be good and she's going to get that Regency Magic thing RIGHT. (Because she already has. Read Kat Incorrigible if you haven't yet!)

Four months ago, Cassandra Harwood was the first woman magician in Angland, and she was betrothed to the brilliant, intense love of her life.

Now Cassandra is trapped in a snowbound house party deep in the elven dales, surrounded by bickering gentleman magicians, manipulative lady politicians, her own interfering family members, and, worst of all, her infuriatingly stubborn ex-fiancĂ©, who refuses to understand that she’s given him up for his own good.

But the greatest danger of all lies outside the manor in the falling snow, where a powerful and malevolent elf-lord lurks...and Cassandra lost all of her own magic four months ago.

To save herself, Cassandra will have to discover exactly what inner powers she still possesses – and risk everything to win a new kind of happiness.

Release Date: September 5, 2017 from Five Fathoms Press

What upcoming releases do you hope are Future Favorites?