Thursday, January 28, 2016

First Family by David Baldacci

First Family (Sean King & Michelle Maxwell, #4)

Jacque's Review: 

First Family is the fourth installment in the King and Maxwell series.  Sean King and Michelle Maxwell were both members of the secret service and now run their own private investigation firm.  This time around they are hired by the First Lady to help find her twelve-year-old niece, Willa, who was kidnapped from her home. On the surface it appears to be a plot against the president, who is well on his way to reelection.  

Shortly into their investigation into Willa's disappearance, Michelle receives a phone call from one of her brothers.  Her mother passed away unexpectedly.  After a brief examination of the scene of death, Michelle begins to wonder if foul play may have been involved.  She calls Sean and they begin looking into her mother's case in addition to Willa's.

The closer Sean and Michelle get to uncovering the truth, the more resistance they receive from the First Lady.  She says her number one priority is returning Willa to her family safely, but that doesn't appear to be her only motivation for hiring Sean.  The two have known each other for years and it becomes clear that she is banking on that friendship once again.

I was extremely surprised by how this book ended.  In my opinion, Sean made the correct decision.  I don't want to spoil anything, so I will simply leave it at that.  I was also happy to see Michelle come to terms with her past.  She spend quite a bit of time in one of the previous books seeking counseling for an undisclosed reason.  We are finally clued into the events in her past that caused the emotional distress.  Now that everything has come to light, I believe she is well on her way to recovery.  The final scene also sets up a potential change in the status of Sean and Michelle's relationship.  I felt like this was a long time in coming, but the timing seemed to be perfect.  

Monday, January 25, 2016

February's Read Along: Attachments by Rainbow Rowell

The Book Nerds will be reading Attachments by Rainbow Rowell as our February Read Along, and we'd love for you to join us! If you're like me and this has been on your TBR for awhile, now may be the perfect time to read it!

Saturday, January 23, 2016

Bookish Sibling Tag hosted by Another Bookish Blog

I'm doing a tag!  This tag was created by Caroline from Another Bookish Blog!  If you don't know who she is, I recommend check out her blog!

1. Answer all the questions.  Repetitions are fine!
2. You can put yourself in any of the categories.
3. Tag others!
4. Fill in the categories with bookish characters!  These characters don't have to feel sibling-esque.  If you don't know, you can say, for example, "A character that... I can't stand is___"

The Questions

1. Your Older Brother
I think someone asked me this before and I said Augustus Waters from The Fault in Our Stars by John Green. I have no brothers, but I think he'd be a fun one to have.

2. Your Younger Brother
Sam from The 5th Wave! He is one tough little kid, and he never gives up hope in Cassie. He also inspires the best in both Cassie and Ben. And I'd think he'd inspire the best in me, too.

3. Your Sister
What's a book with a character who talks everyone into a random road trip? I feel like I've heard several books or book synopses with that plot line, but I can't think of any right now. That would be my RL sister -- especially if a boy band was involved.

4. The Popular One
Sam in Before I Fall by Lauren Oliver. 

5. Parent's Favorite
Q from Paper Towns. There was a deleted scene in the movie where his Mom is basically like (I'm paraphrasing), "Um...don't you want to even try to do something irresponsible and crazy while you're still a teenager?" 

6. The Little Rebel
Cammie from the Gallagher Girls series. She even annoyed me at some parts of the story because she kept deliberately disobeying her Mom and teachers.

7. Your Twin
Cara from Alienated by Melissa Landers. I was a lot like her in high school and I could see the exact same thing happening to me that happened to her if aliens showed up at my high school.

8. The One You Can't Stand
Clarisse from Percy Jackson. She can be not nice and hot-headed, but I feel, like Percy, I'd probably end up feeling like I should help bail her out of situations anyway.

9. The One You Could Prank the World With
I'm going to have to agree with Jacque here: Fred and George Weasley from the Harry Potter series.

10. The Shy Introvert
Again, going with Jacque :) -- Cath Avery from Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell

11. Your Ultimate Book Sibling
Bex from Gallagher Girls -- oh the hijinks that would ensue! Bex would always have my back no matter what crazy thing I wanted to do.

12. Your Blogging Sibling
Cress from the Lunar Chronicles. With her computer skills, she could make sure EVERYONE would see our posts.

Tag You're It

Thanks to Jacque @ Jacque's Book Nook for tagging me!

Movie Review: The 5th Wave

Movie Synopsis from IMBD
Four waves of increasingly deadly alien attacks have left most of Earth decimated. Cassie is on the run, desperately trying to save her younger brother.

Flo's Review
So, The Fifth Wave is our monthly read along for January on Book Nerds Across America. We chose it with the express goal of having the book read before the movie was released. I was successful and was also lucky enough to win tickets to a pre-screening of the movie on Wednesday night.

This was an interesting situation for me because I literally just finished the book a few days ago. Usually with these book to movie adaptations, it's been years since I've read the book. But I went into this movie with Rick Yancey's words very clear in my mind. And I can say that they did a very good job sticking to the story line in the book. There was one big thing that was missing and a few smaller events that were slightly altered, but for the most part it was spot on. Unfortunately, there was also some cheesy dialogue added that didn't need to be there. 

That time I met Chloe Grace Moretz
The movie moved along at a fast pace but not too fast. (Again, with book to movie adaptations, I often find myself thinking in the movie, "We're at this part already?!" I didn't do that with The 5th Wave.) As is almost always the case, we lost some of the depth that the book provided. I didn't feel like we got to spend much time with Cassie and Evan at the house or with Zombie's squad. So, unfortunately, when something big happened within Zombie's squad, it didn't have the effect that I felt in the book and that I felt it should have. 

Little thing I missed? Zombie trying to make Ringer smile. That was cute. I wish they'd kept that in there. The Scene of Realization (which is what I'll call it in hopes that I'm being non-spoilery, but those that have seen it will still understand what I mean) seemed too big and too out of nowhere to really ring true and inspire subsequent events to me.

But, overall, I was very entertained and I'm glad I saw the movie. I think book fans will not be disappointed. I'm curious about those who haven't read the book.

Please let me know your thoughts on the movie in the comments below!

Sunday, January 17, 2016

Winter by Marissa Meyer

Book Summary
Princess Winter is admired by the Lunar people for her grace and kindness, and despite the scars that mar her face, her beauty is said to be even more breathtaking than that of her stepmother, Queen Levana.

Winter despises her stepmother, and knows Levana won’t approve of her feelings for her childhood friend—the handsome palace guard, Jacin. But Winter isn’t as weak as Levana believes her to be and she’s been undermining her stepmother’s wishes for years. Together with the cyborg mechanic, Cinder, and her allies, Winter might even have the power to launch a revolution and win a war that’s been raging for far too long.

Can Cinder, Scarlet, Cress, and Winter defeat Levana and find their happily ever afters?

Flo's Review
I've found my audiobook length limit. Apparently it's 23 hours. I'd listened to the rest of the Lunar Chronicles books on audio -- I adore Rebecca Soler, who has an amazing range of voices and really brought these characters alive for me. When I heard of the length of this installment, I cowboyed up and starting listening. But I just couldn't do it, guys. On average, it takes me about 2 weeks to get through an 8 hour audiobook. This is 23 hours. You can imagine. I was enjoying hearing the story, but it was also starting to feel like there was no end in sight. So a little more than halfway through, I switched to the 824 page book.

Since they are based on fairy tales, I feel it's not a spoiler to say I was quite happy about the happy ending! This installment came together so nicely and really left all of our young heroes in a good place. Even though the book was really long, there was never a lag in the action. I never had a point where I was ready to put it down. I always wanted to continue reading so I could know what happened next. (Though there was a scene in the middle that left me quite disheartened.) The resourcefulness and courage of all of these characters was always fun to read, and I admire them all for everything they were able to accomplish. 

The connectedness of this entire series never ceased to blow me away. Things that were mentioned in passing in an earlier novel would come to play in a little one. Like, small details. They'd come back and be highly relevant. And, on top of that, they would fit perfectly with the fairy tale! The Lunar Chronicles are clever, well-written, and fun. I've really enjoyed reading this series and see why it comes so highly recommended.

Saturday, January 16, 2016

ALA Midwinter 2016 -- Part 2: Book Awards

There was an award show one of the nights I was in Boston attending the American Library Association Midwinter Meeting. Since I missed it, I figured it appropriate to do some mini awards with the books I got. Disclaimer: As I mentioned in the last post, the majority of my books are still in transit. So this post, while wholly accurate, is pulling from only the sample of books I was able to bring home with me in my suitcase.

Now, without further ado, the winners are...

Most Anticipated (I'll probably read this next): Heir to the Sky by Amanda Sun

Book I'm Most Excited About That I Didn't Know Existed Until I Saw It: A Tyranny of Petticoats, edited by Jessica Spotswood

Cover Love: And I Darken by Kiersten White

Non-YA Read that I'm Looking Forward To: Your Favorite Band is Killing Me by Steven Hyden

Best Surprise (you should have seen our reactions when they pulled this one out!): Furthermore by Tahereh Mafi

Save the Best of Last (the last book I picked up from the show): Poisoned Blade by Kate Elliott

Which of these are you most looking forward to?

ALA Midwinter 2016 -- Part 1: Swag

Oh, I love book conferences! I was able to attend the American Library Association's Midwinter Meeting in 2015 for the first time, and I had to go back to this year. Definitely one of the hardest parts about book conferences is shipping your books back to you and then having to wait for them to arrive! The 5 boxes (in my defense, some of the boxes are small -- lol!) I sent myself are set to arrive Tuesday. I've been stalking the tracking in hopes that they get here early and magically show up today, but I don't think so,

However, I still need to do my review and I need to do it today, so I will improvise! I'll talk about a couple of random things that are here and there in the next two posts, and I hope you enjoy having this look at it.

Swag is a fun bonus for upcoming releases. I have soo much swag, and I always like seeing the creative things that people will come up with to promote books. So I wanted to share with you some of my favorite swag that I got at the conference:
Starting at the top -- a duffel bag! I'm used to getting totes, which are nice, but I didn't have a useful duffel bag until now. Thank you, Simon!

Bottom row, from left to right -- These "Read" prints are actually really beautiful and are on nice quality card stock. We were commenting how they are perfect for framing. I might just do that. The 5 Hour Energy just made me laugh! Apparently they understand how intense conferencing is! Both of those are also from Simon and Schuster.

The Passenger notebook is a nice notebook, perfect size for sticking in my purse and carrying around. Also, I really enjoyed the book, which I had an opportunity to read a few weeks ago. The pamphlet next to it is a Magnus Chase guide to Boston. I haven't read this book yet, but I am looking forward to doing so! Apparently it takes place in Boston, so Disney put together a guide about all the places you can visit that are featured in the book. Props to Disney for both the little journal and the Boston guide.

Next to it are Boxcar magnet bookmarks. As in, the Boxcar Children! Throwback to my childhood! I can't remember where I picked them up, but I am pretty excited about them. Finally, AW Teen had these cute starfish bookmarks (pictured above the Boxcar Children). I love it! I am definitely using it with my next read.

In the next post, you'll see some books :)

Tuesday, January 5, 2016

The Queen's Army by Marissa Meyer

The Queen's Army (The Lunar Chronicles, #1.5)

Jacque's Review:

The Queen's Army is a very short (18 page) story that is 1.5 in the Lunar Chronicles series.  If you read Cinder, you will remember them mentioning The Queen's Army in passing, but I anticipate it will have a much larger presence in Scarlet.  This book shows how the members of the army are selected, physically altered, and trained.

Z is selected at the age of 12 and is taken from his family to begin training.  He is subjected to ruthless physical and mental challenges/abuse as part of the development process.  As he grows and matures he becomes one of the strongest members of his "pack"....yes, think werewolves.  One day, the queen arrives and wants to see two members from each pack demonstrate their skills.  Will Z be able to stand up to the test?

Overall this was a great introduction and behind the scenes look at what the Queen has in store for Earth.  We have already witnessed her mental manipulation and this army will add the physical force she likely needs to take over Earth.  I really hope Cinder, Emperor Kai, and the rest of the characters we met in Cinder are able to conquer this ruthless dictator.

I strongly advise reading this short story if you plan on continuing the Lunar Chronicles series.  There is a lot of background information that likely isn't presented in Scarlet.  It is a free download and should take less than 30 minutes of your time to complete.  The knowledge gained is well worth the investment of your time.

Monday, January 4, 2016

Until Midnight by Melissa Landers

Until Midnight (Alienated, #1.5)

Jacque's Review:

Until Midnight is a short story that bridges the gap between Alienated and Invaded.  It was a free download from Barnes & Noble, so of course I had to pick it up.

Cara and Aelyx spend their last day together on a transport ship before he has to return to Earth to repair human/alien relations.  The humans are still leery of the aliens after some of their crops mysteriously started dying and the aliens are more than resentful for the loss of one of their exchange students.  Aelyx has his work cut out for him if he is going to be able to return to Cara on L'eihr.

To spice up this short story, it takes place just prior to Christmas.  To make it a special occasion for Cara, Aelyx researches ALL of the Christmas traditions and tries to recreate them on the ship.  Of course, resources are limited so he does the best he can.  I literally laughed out loud a few times during the Christmas festivities.  My husband's family is from Belgium/Germany, so I could appreciate some of the European traditions Aelyx discovered, but Cara was more than confused by a few of them.  She did appreciate his thoughtfulness and tries to come up with an equally meaningful gift for Aelyx.

This was a very entertaining story and a great refresher since it has been a little while since I finished reading Alienated..  It was nice to return to the Alienated world and I can't wait to start reading Invaded.  I was equally excited to discover there will be a third book in this series.  United is scheduled to be released in August 2016 and will be the conclusion of this series.