Monday, February 13, 2017

YA Science Fiction: Scythe by Neal Shusterman

28954189Scythe by Neal Shusterman
Format: Ebook
Publisher: Simon and Schuster Books for Young Readers
Number of Pages:  448
Published:  November 22nd, 2016

Source:  Library


Why I wanted to read this:  Scythe won a Printz honor and I've been looking for some more YA books my child might like to read.  The premise piqued my interest:   

 " Thou shalt kill.   

 A world with no hunger, no disease, no war, no misery. Humanity has conquered all those things, and has even conquered death. Now scythes are the only ones who can end life—and they are commanded to do so, in order to keep the size of the population under control.   

Citra and Rowan are chosen to apprentice to a scythe—a role that neither wants. These teens must master the “art” of taking life, knowing that the consequence of failure
 could mean losing their own."  (From Goodreads)


Scythes have ten rules that they live by, rules that were designed to help control the population and guide them in the process of their "gleanings" (killing of others.)  The manner in which they choose to take someone's life defines what kind of Scythe they are. Scythes are supposed to be moral, just, and ethical, but not all follow the same rules.   Citra and Rowan are two teenagers who encounter Scythe Faraday as he is performing one of his gleanings, he becomes intrigued by the way they interact with him and see's potential for them to become scythes.  Enough to choose them both to be his apprentice, something that neither of them is interested in doing.   But, no one can refuse a scythe.  Faraday will train each of them, but only one of them can go on to be a scythe.  Shusterman creates this fascinating world where there is no aging or disease, and natural deaths don't occur anymore.  People have nanites which can heal you, you can wind back your age and even if you try to kill yourself (or "splat", which is a horrible image),  you get healed and are returned to your normal life.  Then there are the scythes, who are skilled in the art of killing.  They are supposed to randomly choose their targets, yet sometimes they make the choice of who and why they are going to kill someone. There's also a lot of power politics going on within the Scythedom, partial because Faraday should have never taken on two apprentices and because another scythe is scheming in the background.  Scythes also keep a daily journal, which Shusterman shares entries from between each chapter.  The entries pose some of the moral questions that scythes have about their work and give an insight to the various teachers of Rowan and Citra's thoughts about their work.  I really enjoyed Citra and Rowan's characters as they were navigating their way through their classes and training in the use of poisons, weapons etc.  Especially when the story takes a turn and the two are pitted against each other in a competition where the winner must glean the other. Way to raise the stakes. There's even this computer, algorithmic "conscious" mind called The Thunderhead that is sort of like the cloud and holds all sorts of information.  Quite an entertaining and unique read.    

Favorite Line:  "I feel bad for you,"  said Citra.  "Even when you're food shopping, death is hiding right behind the milk."  




Monday, February 6, 2017

Word of Mouse by James Patterson & Chris Grabenstein


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Word of Mouse by James Patterson and Chris Grabenstein
Format: Ebook
Publisher: Jimmy Patterson Books
Number of Pages:  254
Published:  December 12th, 2016

Source:  Library


Why I wanted to read this:    Chris Grabenstein wrote the Escape From Mr. Lemoncello's Library and together with James Patterson writes the series I Funny, House of Robots and Treasure Hunters.   I was curious about Patterson's new book imprint, Jimmy Patterson Books.  According to his website, he is investing all his proceeds from the sales of his Jimmy books back into reading initiatives.   


Opening line:  "My story starts on the day I lost my entire family."

While escaping the "horrible place" (research laboratory), Isaiah somehow manages to get separated from his ninety-six siblings.  They all get recaptured by the "long coats," but Isaiah is able to make it to the "outside."  A strange and dangerous place for a small mouse, especially when there are rats and an evil cat lurking around. If Isaiah is to survive, he will need to find some food and shelter.  After some quick maneuvering to get past Lucifer, the neighborhood cat, Isaiah manages to find Mikayla (a mouse with a beautiful singing voice).  Mikayla takes him to her family and soon Isaiah is learning how to scavenge for food and making plans to rescue his own family from the "horrible place."    At first, Isaiah is very scared being in the "outside," he's even terrified just by the word "cat" being spoken aloud. His transition to leading a charge against the laboratory happens as he gains confidence in himself.  He uses his voice to stand up to Lucifer and begins to see that words hold weight.  Isaiah also gets help from Mikayla and her family, as well as Hailey, a girl that he meets in the house next door. The two are able to communicate because Isaiah can read and write, so he uses a keyboard to type messages to her.  I think you can probably figure out that the story ends on a happy note.      

Although not expressly mentioned, the mice from the laboratory seemed to have undergone some kind of experiments.  Isaiah's fur is blue, while his siblings are different colors. The whole story kinda reminded me of a gentler version of The Secret of NIMH.  Isaiah is also pretty intelligent, which comes from him reading books,  and he has quite the vocabulary. He uses words like "dulcet," "ominous," and "crepuscular."  Each chapter begins with a quote followed by five to six pages per chapter.  Patterson also includes little tidbits of information about mice, like who knew a mischief is the name for a group of mice?  Plus the illustrations by Joe Sutphin are gorgeous.   I think Word of Mouse would make a great book to read aloud to a seven to ten-year-old so some of these more difficult words could be explained.  There was one thing that did come off as a bit odd, like why make the statement that girl mice aren't allowed to sing and then never really counter those words?  Mikayla does lead a sort of charge by singing, but her siblings also seemed to put her down too much for my taste.  They even call her "artsy-fartsy" at one point.  I  would've been perfectly fine if Word of Mouse was a stand alone, but it also might be interesting to see what Isaiah does now that he finds out there is a Lab still out there committing worse acts and this time it's the cats that are in danger.  

Wednesday, February 1, 2017

MG Fantasy/Adventure/Mystery: The Lost Property Office by James R. Hannibal

28954041The Lost Property Office by James R. Hannibal
Format: Hardcover
Publisher: Simon and Schuster books for Young Readers
Number of Pages:  390
Published:  November 8th, 2016

Source:  Library

Why I wanted to read this:    The beetle on the cover intrigued me and I was curious about who was looking for lost property, what kinds of things were lost? 

Opening Line:  "A pair of rather large, blue-green beetles buzzed north over the River Thames, weaving back and forth over the water's surface in that haphazard pattern that beetles fly."

When thirteen-year-old Jack Buckles' father goes missing in London, he travels with his mother and younger sister to try to find him.  Jack's mother tells them to stay put in the hotel while she searches the local hospitals, but Jack's sister wanders off after someone who looks just like their father. Jack and Sadie then stumble into the lost property office where they hope to get directions back to their hotel.  Instead, they find a secret society of detectives who track lost people and items and maybe they can help Jack and his sister.  What they do find is that Jack's father is being held by a man known only as the Clockmaker and unless Jack can find something called "the Ember,"  he plans to kill him.  

The Lost Property Office is an interesting place, home to a secret society of trackers able to see and hear things that others can't.  A skill that Jack inherited from a long line of  Buckles before him, but not one based on magic, instead is connected to neuroscience.  Jack has this ability that allows him to touch something made of wood, metal, or stone and in return receives information from the item.  A sort of "spark" or vision of something from the present or even past.   A pretty cool concept, but does have some dangers, like glass apparently being the most dangerous because it refracts things and can be overwhelming.   Jack isn't alone in his quest, he meets up with Gwen, an apprentice clerk who is a sort of guide around London and knowledgeable in the inner workings of the Lost Property Office.  Gwen does have her own reasons for wanting to help Jack, but the two do seem to make a great team.   There was also this mystery to solve and I liked how the history of the Great Fire of London in 1666 was included. Along the way, Jack finds out interesting facts about his families history, things his father has kept hidden from him including those talents Jack never knew he had.  A really nice introduction to a new series and I really hope Hannibal continues to incorporate historical places and people in the next book.         


Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Top Ten Tuesday: Favorite graphic novels, comics or picture books



This week's Top Ten is all about favorite graphic novels, comics or pictures books.  This isn't an area that I've read a lot of, well except for when my kiddo was really little and we read together at night, but there are quite a few books that we enjoyed.  So this is a list of picture books, graphic novels, and comics that I like to think sparked my child's love of reading and a few that I particularly enjoyed.  

Picture Books:




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Graphic Novels/Comics:  


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Tuesday, January 24, 2017

Top Ten Tuesday Freebie: 2016 Bookish Resolutions recap and 2017's




Top Ten Tuesday is a Meme hosted by The Broke and the Bookish  This week's Top Ten Tuesday is a Freebie, or pick whatever topic you want.  I decided that I would review my resolutions from last year and come up with some new ones (in bold).    So in no particular order... here are my resolutions from last year.....



1.  To read more diverse books- I think I met my goal last year thanks to  http://weneeddiversebooks.org/  and my actively looking and putting holds at the library.  One of my favorites last year was Lily and Dunkin by Donna Gephart.  I think this will always be a goal for me to include.   

2.  To read more classics-Last year I was only able to read a handful, Ellen Tebbits, Mary Poppins Comes Back, Ramona The Pest and a new favorite Emily of New Moon.   This year my plans are to re-read Alice in Wonderland and Peter Pan.  

3.  To read at least 100 books- I squeaked past 100, with the help of all my reading for the Cybils.  I came in at 123 in fact.  100 is a nice round number, so I'm going to shoot for that again this year.  Especially since I'm getting off to a slow start.   

4.  Finish some of the books that I own- I did a pretty good job in reading a few books that I received or bought, taking about two books off of the stack (Beneath and Hunters Chaos).  This is always such a hard goal for me.  Mostly cause I keep adding books to the ever leaning tower of books, but now I'm also purchasing books for the kiddo that I want to read.  Things like  A Monster Calls  and Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children , but I am going to shoot for reading more again this year.    

5.  Read more YA-  I planned on reading Dumplin and Truthwitch.  I did read Dumplin but also read Six of Crows, Dreamers Often Lie, Crown of Midnight, Nevernight and Blue Lily Lily Blue.  I so missed reading YA and this year have plans to read the sequel to Nevernight (no title yet) and to finally read The Raven King.  

6.  To weed my Goodreads TBR list down to about 300- At the time this seemed reasonable.   I did have quite a few books that I probably wasn't going to read anymore, and did get rid of a few picture books that I had on the list,  but I'm sitting at 596 books and steadily climbing.  Oh well,  I've given up on this one for now.  

7.  To read more science fiction- This is another goal that I didn't really get too last year.  I still want to keep this on the list though.  


8.  To read at least one non-fiction book- I finally found that book I was thinking of,  The Boys Who Challenged Hitler.  It's the only non-fiction book that I read last year, but I really did enjoy it.  I plan to modify this one into reading one Mystery book this year.  It's another genre that I haven't read in a long time and my kiddo has been asking for some good books.  If you have any YA Mystery suggestions, I'm certainly open to any recommendations.     

 9&10.  To finally read the Illustrated edition of Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone.  (I used to re-read these books each year, but for the past two years I just haven't gotten to it).   And to draw in my Harry Potter Colouring Book  Nope didn't happen, I'm not certain why either.  I did color in an animal coloring book and it was quite enjoyable.  I just couldn't bring myself to mark up my Harry Potter one.   I'm still planning on reading either my Illustrated edition of Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone or re-reading The Chamber of Secrets this year.  


Overall, I came in somewhere around 6/10 goals met.  Some I felt like I made progress on but others I'm nowhere near accomplishing (cutting down on my Goodreads TBR).  It's hopeless, or too daunting or  I don't know, maybe it doesn't matter to me that much.   One thing I did notice was that it was nice making out some goals for the year and seeing how I did.  Did you make out any bookish resolutions this year?  Now on to another year of fun reading for me!    

Monday, January 16, 2017

Getting Back into the Swing of Things 2017

Hard to believe it's already the second week of 2017, especially since I spent the beginning of the month recovering from a nasty cold and it feels like everything went by in a haze.  I still have the sniffles, but things are looking up and I'm ready to recap the Cybils and look on to books coming out this year. 

Boy, was it another fun Cybils year of reading Elem./MG Speculative Fiction.  There were something like 115 books nominated and I was able to read 95.  Which roughly translates to about 30, 000 pages.  Not too shabby.  I'm always excited to see what gets nominated but really just love reading the books that were selected.  One of these years I will read all of the nominations.   I'm really happy with the semifinalist's list and can't wait to see who the final winner will be, but here are some of my personal favorites that were nominated this year: 
  

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It should be no surprise then that some of these authors sequels will be on my 2017 list of books that I want to read.  


Middle-Grade books I'm looking forward to in 2017 Books

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Dream Magic  by Joshua Khan
Format: Hardcover
Publisher: Disney-Hyperion
Publishing:  April 11th, 2017

Why I want to read Dream Magic:  Shadow Magic was one of my favorite reads from the Cybils this year and I really enjoy the world of Gehenna.  

People throughout Gehenna are disappearing, even the feared executioner Tyburn. Many of the nobles believe the kidnappings to be the work of the northern trolls, raiding south for the winter, and when Baron Sable and others head off to fight them, Castle Gloom is left guarded by only the squires.

Lily is struggling with her growing necromantic powers. The castle fills with ghosts, drawn like moths to a flame by the brightness of her magic. Zombies roam the country, some left over from those raised in SHADOW MAGIC, others awakened by Lily. Families are troubled by the returning dead, so Lily tries to incorporate them into day-to-day life, much to the resentment of the living.

Then Lily is attacked in her own castle by a mysterious sorcerer known as Dreamweaver, a young man determined to conquer Gehenna using jewel-spiders, strange crystalline creatures whose bite doesn’t kill, but sends victims to sleep. Lily soon discovers that Dreamweaver is harvesting dreams to fuel his magic.

Lily enters the realm of sleep known as the Dream Time, in an attempt to awaken all the captive dreamers. Instead she finds herself trapped within a dream, one where her family is still alive. With the help of Thorn and the ever loyal Hades, she must somehow overcome the evil Dreamweaver by using his own magic against him – and reclaim her kingdom.
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Short  by Holly Goldberg Sloan
Format: Hardcover
Publisher: Dial Books
Number of Pages:  304
Published:  January 31st, 2017

Why I want to read Short:  The cover grabbed me and I really enjoyed Sloan's Counting by 7's. 


Julia is very short for her age, but by the end of the summer run of The Wizard of Oz, she'll realize how big she is inside, where it counts. She hasn't ever thought of herself as a performer, but when the wonderful director of Oz casts her as a Munchkin, she begins to see herself in a new way. As Julia becomes friendly with the poised and wise Olive - one of the adults with dwarfism who've joined the production's motley crew of Munchkins - and with her deeply artistic neighbor, Mrs. Chang, Julia's own sense of self as an artist grows. Soon, she doesn't want to fade into the background and it's a good thing because her director has more big plans for Julia!

30653902Miss Ellicott's School for the Magically Minded by Sage Blackwood
Format: Hardcover
Publisher: Katherine Tegan Books
Number of Pages:  368
Publishing: March 21st, 2017

Why I want to read Miss Ellicott's School for the Magically Minded:   I've read and enjoyed Jinx by the author and I love school stories and kids learning magic.  That cover is gorgeous.  


Chantel would much rather focus on her magic than on curtsying, which is why 
she often finds herself in trouble at Miss Ellicott’s School for Magical Maidens. But when Miss Ellicott mysteriously disappears along with all the other sorceresses in the city, Chantel’s behavior becomes the least of her problems.
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Without any magic protecting the city, it is up to Chantel and her friends to save the Kingdom. On a dangerous mission, Chantel will discover a crossbow-wielding boy, a dragon, and a new, fiery magic that burns inside her—but can she find the sorceresses and transform Lightning Pass into the city it was meant to be?
 


The Great Hibernation by Tara Dairman
Format: Hardcover
Publisher: Random House/Lamb
Publishing: September 12th, 2017

Why I want to read The Great Hibernation:   I loved Tara Dairman's All Four Stars Series and am excited to read her latest book.   


The most important tradition in tiny St. Polonius-on-the-Fjord is the annual Tasting of the Sacred Bear Liver. Each citizen over twelve must eat one bite of liver to prevent the recurrence of the Great Hibernation, when the town founder's fell asleep for months.

This year is Jean Huddy's first time to taste the liver. It doesn't go well. A few hours later, all the adults fall asleep. And no one can wake them.

The kids are left to run things, and they're having a blast. That is, until the town bullies take over the mayor's office and the police force.

Jean suspects that this "hibernation" was actually engineered by someone in town. She starts to investigate, and inspires other kids to join her in a secret plan to save St. Polonius.


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Midnight Without a Moon by Linda William Jackson
Format: Hardcover
Publisher: HMH Books for Young Readers
Published: January 3rd, 2017

Why I want to read Midnight Without A Moon:  Each year I try to read at least one historical fiction and I've been hearing such good things about this book.  

Rose Lee Carter, a 13-year-old African-American girl, dreams of life beyond the Mississippi cotton fields during the summer of 1955. Her world is rocked when a 14-year-old African-American boy, Emmett Till, is killed for allegedly whistling at a white woman. 



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Dragonwatch: A Fablehaven Adventure by Brandon Mull
Format: Hardcover
Publisher: Shadow Mountain 
Published: March 14th, 2017

Why I want to read Dragonwatch:  Fablehaven is my child's favorite series and I can't pass up this new installment.  

In the hidden dragon sanctuary of Wyrmroost, Celebrant the Just, King of the Dragons, plots his revenge. He has long seen the sanctuaries as prisons, and he wants nothing more than to overthrow his captors and return the world to the Age of Dragons, when he and his kind ruled and reigned without borders. The time has come to break free and reclaim his power.

No one person is capable of stopping Celebrant and his dragon horde. It will take the ancient order of Dragonwatch to gather again if there is any chance of saving the world from destruction. In ancient times, Dragonwatch was a group of wizards, enchantresses, dragon slayers, and others who originally confined the majority of dragons into sanctuaries. But nearly all of the original Dragonwatch members are gone, and so the wizard Agad reaches out to Grandpa Sorenson for help.

As Kendra and Seth confront this new danger, they must draw upon all their skills, talents, and knowledge as only they have the ability to function together as a powerful dragon tamer. Together they must battle against forces with superior supernatural powers and breathtaking magical abilities.

How will the epic dragon showdown end? Will dragons overthrow humans and change the world as we know it?
 


2017 Must Read YA Books:

32075671The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas
Format: Hardcover
Publisher: Balzer + Bray
Publishing: February 28th, 2017

Why I want to read The Hate U Give:  I've been seeing this pop-up a lot on Twitter and the premise makes this sound like I book that I wouldn't want to miss. 


Sixteen-year-old Starr lives in two worlds: the poor neighbourhood where she was born and raised and her posh high school in the suburbs. The uneasy balance between them is shattered when Starr is the only witness to the fatal shooting of her unarmed best friend, Khalil, by a police officer. Now what Starr says could destroy her community. It could also get her killed. Inspired by the Black Lives Matter movement, this is a powerful and gripping YA novel about one girl's struggle for justice. 
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The Upside of Unrequited by Becky Albertalli
Format: Hardcover
Publisher: Balzer + Bray
Publishing: April 11th, 2017

Why I want to read The Upside:  I have an EArc from Netgalley and this is my most anticipated YA read for this year.   

Seventeen-year-old Molly Peskin-Suso knows all about unrequited love. No matter how many times her twin sister, Cassie, tells her to woman up, Molly can’t stomach the idea of rejection. So she’s careful. Fat girls always have to be careful.

Then a cute new girl enters Cassie’s orbit, and for the first time ever, Molly’s cynical twin is a lovesick mess. Meanwhile, Molly's totally not dying of loneliness—except for the part where she is. Luckily, Cassie's new girlfriend comes with a cute hipster-boy sidekick. If Molly can win him over, she'll get her first kiss and she'll get her twin back. 

There's only one problem: Molly's coworker, Reid. He's a chubby Tolkien superfan with a season pass to the Ren Faire, and there's absolutely no way Molly could fall for him. 

Right?



Untitled or books without a cover or release date yet, but they are on my favorite authors/purchase list:  (links to Goodreads)
Middle-Grade

The Problem Children by Natalie Lloyd  A middle-grade series about seven strange siblings, all born on a different day of the week, and the neighbors who keep trying to tear their family apart. 

Impyrium #2  by Henry Neff   No description yet or title.  

Posted by John David Anderson   In middle school, words aren’t just words. They can be weapons. They can be gifts. The right words can win you friends or make you enemies. They can come back to haunt you. Sometimes they can change things forever.

When cell phones are banned at Branton Middle School, Frost and his friends Deedee, Wolf, and Bench come up with a new way to communicate: leaving sticky notes for each other all around the school. It catches on, and soon all the kids in school are leaving notes—though for every kind and friendly one, there is a cutting and cruel one as well.

In the middle of this, a new girl named Rose arrives at school and sits at Frost’s lunch table. Rose is not like anyone else at Branton Middle School, and it’s clear that the close circle of friends Frost has made for himself won’t easily hold another. As the sticky-note war escalates, and the pressure to choose sides mounts, Frost soon realizes that after this year, nothing will ever be the same.


The Empty Grave (Lockwood & Co. #5) by Jonathan Stroud   Five months after the events in THE CREEPING SHADOW, we join Lockwood, Lucy, George, Holly, and their associate Quill Kips on a perilous night mission: they have broken into the booby-trapped Fittes Mausoleum, where the body of the legendary psychic heroine Marissa Fittes lies. Or does it? This is just one of the many questions to be answered in Book 5 of the Lockwood & Co. series. Will Lockwood ever reveal more about his family's past to Lucy? Will their trip to the Other Side leave Lucy and Lockwood forever changed? Will Penelope Fittes succeed in shutting down their agency forever? The young agents must survive attacks from foes both spectral and human before they can take on their greatest enemy in a climactic and chaotic battle. And to prevail they will have to rely on help from some surprising--and shadowy--allies. Jonathan Stroud once again delivers a rousing adventure full of danger, laughs, twists, and frights. 


Young Adult 

Godsgrave by Jay Kristoff   Young assassin Mia continues her journey for revenge in this new epic fantasy from acclaimed author Jay Kristoff.

Jay Kristoff's masterful ability to create immersive universes continues to impress in this new fantasy, which continues where we left off with assassin Mia in her high-stakes quest for revenge.

Mia has found her place among the Blades, but many in the hierarchy think she hasn’t earned it. She’s no closer to avenging her family; in fact, she’s told directly that Consul Scaeva is off limits. But Mia has her own suspicions about the Red Church’s motives.

When it’s announced that Scaeva will be making a rare public appearance at the conclusion of the gladiatorial games, Mia sells herself into bondage to enter the games. Beneath the arena floor, Mia finds new rivals and allies. But as she is forced to kill those she counted as friends on the arena sands, those she trusts begin to question her cause and she’ll be forced to fight for her life with only the assistance of a mysterious shadowy figure.


Next post I'll be looking at my bookish resolutions from last year and seeing how well I did plus making a few new ones.   Thanks for stopping by and feel free to let me know if there are any books that I just must take a look at.   
Hope you have a great week!