Thursday, July 31, 2014

ReReadathon/Shelf-Sweeper Final

I have been participating in this fun event for July and have been able to read so much. I'm all ahead on my blog posts and everything.

Rereads:
The Chocolate Rose by Laura Florand

Shelf Sweeper:
Major Crush by Jennifer Echols
The Celestial Globe and The Jewel of Kalderash by Marie Rutkoski
Yaqui Delgado Wants to Kick Your Ass by Meg Medina

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

WoW: The Penderwicks in Spring

"Waiting On" Wednesday is a weekly event, hosted by Jill of Breaking the Spine, that spotlights upcoming releases that we're eagerly anticipating.


Springtime is finally arriving on Gardam Street, and there are surprises in store for each member of the family. 
Some surprises are just wonderful, like neighbor Nick Geiger coming home from war. And some are ridiculous, like Batty's new dog-walking business. Batty is saving up her dog-walking money for an extra-special surprise for her family, which she plans to present on her upcoming birthday. But when some unwelcome surprises make themselves known, the best-laid plans fall apart. 
Filled with all the heart, hilarity, and charm that has come to define this beloved clan, "The Penderwicks in Spring" is about fun and family and friends (and dogs), and what happens when you bring what's hidden into the bright light of the spring sun.

Why am I waiting for this? Because it's a Penderwick book. Anyone who has read about this family, wants to read more. Trust me. If you never have, you definitely need to. The Penderwicks in Spring releases on March 24, 2015.

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

TTT: Authors I Own The Most Books From


This week's TTT topic: Authors I Own the Most Books From

FUN TOPIC!  I can't wait to see other people's posts. Here are mine with favorite from each collection:


Diana Wynne Jones Total: 19


C.S. Lewis Total: 18


N.D. Wilson Total: 10


J.K. Rowling Total: 10


Laura Florand Total: 9


Jane Austen Total: 7


Dorothy Sayers Total: 7


R.J. Anderson Total: 7


Elizabeth Wein Total: 6


Sarah Prineas Total: 6

Whose books do you own the most of?

Monday, July 28, 2014

Magnolia

Magnolia by Kristi Cook captured my attention because it takes place in the south and seemed from the synopsis to be exactly the sort of love story I like. The thought of a reverse Romeo and Juliet (where the families are super close but kids are not having it) is an intriguing one. The promise of those things in the synopsis is fully delivered, and despite a little more melodrama than I typically like in my contemporary YA, it was a fun and enjoyable read.

Synopsis: 
In Magnolia Branch, Mississippi, the Cafferty and Marsden families are southern royalty. Neighbors since the Civil War, the families have shared vacations, holidays, backyard barbecues, and the overwhelming desire to unite their two clans by marriage. So when a baby boy and girl were born to the families at the same time, the perfect opportunity seemed to have finally arrived.
Jemma Cafferty and Ryder Marsden have no intention of giving in to their parents’ wishes. They’re only seventeen, for goodness’ sake, not to mention that one little problem: They hate each other! Jemma can’t stand Ryder’s nauseating golden-boy persona, and Ryder would like nothing better than to pretend stubborn Jemma doesn’t exist.
But when a violent storm ravages Magnolia Branch, it unearths Jemma’s and Ryder’s true feelings for each other as the two discover that the line between love and hate may be thin enough to risk crossing over.


Magnolia is told in first person from Jemma's perspective, but it is equally Ryder's story. Due to the close relationship between their families, he is there for every important event in Jemma's life and highly present through the entire novel. I liked both of their characters a lot. She is fiery, stubborn, and temperamental. He is loyal, patient, and all around good guy. Both of them make some mistakes very typical of their ages. I loved how brave both of them were though in pursuing their dreams and wanting to carve out their own futures, and not live the lives the parents were dreaming for them. I also liked how they are not your typical modern YA characters. He is the quarterback of the football team and she is the co-coptain of the cheerleading squad. They are not part of the quirky outcast group, who thumbs up their noses at the popular kids and demonizes them. They ARE the popular kids. And why shouldn't there be some YA books that has those kids as the heroes? It just isn't something we see as much anymore and it was refreshing. The evolution of their relationship is one that I loved. It is sort of a hate to love story, but it is ALSO sort of a best friend to lovers story. I love both of these types and never in a million years thought they could be successfully combined, but here you go. The chemistry between Jemma and Ryder is strong and there are some intense and outright hot scenes in the book. It is a slow burn type romance full of tension and heated glances and a longing for them to just get on with it already. All things I like in a romance.

The plot revolves around the life Jemma and Ryder lead, the parties, the old southern traditions, and football. I liked the way the setting is handled. I have little patience for southern novels that don't portray the south correctly, and this one does. However, the plot veered a little bit more into the melodramatic than I typically like. Jemma's sister has a benign brain tumor that needs an operation which is how her and Ryder end up alone at her house when a hurricane hits. Her parents and his mom have taken her sister to Houston for her surgery when the storm comes. And to me, brain  surgery plus tornado spawning hurricane plus romantic tension is plenty of drama for one story. That part was working just fine. Except something ELSE is added to that post hurricane that tipped the story into the too much category for me. I was invested enough in Jemma and Ryder that it is only a minor quibble for me, but it did have me rolling my eyes when it happened. 

I very much enjoyed Magnolia overall and am looking forward to reading more books by this author.

I received an e-galley from the publisher, Simon & Schuster, via Edelweiss. Magnolia is available for purchase on August 5. 


Saturday, July 26, 2014

Shorter Musings: MG Realistic

Sometimes I read a book, and I even enjoy it, but I don't have much to say about it. I jot down a few thoughts and then I move on. When these start to pile up, I put them together in one post.

Here are some reviews of MG realistic fiction I've read recently:


Absolutely Almost by Lisa Graff
There are quite a few stylistic elements here that tend to annoy me a great deal, the episodic nature of the plot, how it just sort of ends with no real closure, and the tropes that are often overused in MG realistic fiction. The fact that I liked it as much as I did despite these things says a lot about the quality of the writing and character development in the book. Albie is an excellent every-kid narrator. The whole concept of being an "almost" is one so many can relate to and his voice is absolutely perfect. He tells his story exactly the way a child in his situation would (which is why the episodic plot makes sense even if it's not my favorite thing to read) and his observations are spot on and conveyed exactly like a fifth grader would do it. One of my favorite parts after a classmate calls Albie a "retard" and the principal makes an announcement that the word is "outlawed" at the school:
But Darren Ackleman doesn't call me "retard" anymore.
Moron.
That's what he called me on Thursday.
Moron. Numbskull. Bozo. Idiot.
Stupid little rat.
Marblehead. Freak. Dum-dum. Hopeless. Lamebrain. Crybaby. F-minus.
Dummy
That's what he called me on Friday, and every day since.
Dummy.
Dummy.
Dummy.
Darren Aclkleman doesn't cal me "retard" anymore.

But I think maybe it's not words that need to be outlawed.

Absolutely pitch perfect.

Upside Down in the Middle of Nowhere by  Julie T. Lamana
Emotionally moving and informative story of Hurricane Katrina, this is a book that packs a punch. Lamana does an excellent job setting the scene and describing what is going on. There are places where you actually feel you are and she does not shy away from including all of the ugly truths, but includes them in a way that works well for the intended audience. It is never overwhelming and has exactly the right amount of action balanced with emotion to keep readers engaged. That is no small thing to do when dealing with an event of this magnitude.

Zane and the Hurricane by Rodman Philibrick
Zane and the Hurricane is an interesting look at the events of Hurricane Katrina from a boy not from New Orleans but who was visiting his great grandmother who lived in the Ninth Ward. It covers all the main points that need to be covered: the evacuation notice, the levees breaking, the chaos at the Dome, and the lawlessness. For some reason I felt emotionally detached from it all though. The story did not impact me in the same way Upside Down in the Middle of Nowhere , the other Hurricane Katriana MG novel that came out this year, did. This is a great pick for more reluctant readers as it is shorter though.