Saturday, April 30, 2016

The Girl at Midnight by Melissa Grey

Book Summary
For readers of Cassandra Clare's City of Bones and Leigh Bardugo's Shadow and BoneThe Girl at Midnight is the story of a modern girl caught in an ancient war.
Beneath the streets of New York City live the Avicen, an ancient race of people with feathers for hair and magic running through their veins. Age-old enchantments keep them hidden from humans. All but one. Echo is a runaway pickpocket who survives by selling stolen treasures on the black market, and the Avicen are the only family she's ever known.
Echo is clever and daring, and at times she can be brash, but above all else she's fiercely loyal. So when a centuries-old war crests on the borders of her home, she decides it's time to act.
Legend has it that there is a way to end the conflict once and for all: find the Firebird, a mythical entity believed to possess power the likes of which the world has never seen. It will be no easy task, though if life as a thief has taught Echo anything, it's how to hunt down what she wants . . . and how to take it.
But some jobs aren't as straightforward as they seem. And this one might just set the world on fire.

Flo's Review
The Girl at Midnight is a classic case of a book that's been on my TBR for awhile, but then I'm finally spurred to bump it up and read it when I receive the ARC of book 2. Let's start this review with a quick minute of Cover Love. It's so purple and pretty! Firedrakes are there really horrible murderous creatures, but whenever I read about them, I just thought of this pretty, calming book cover. Lol

I listened to this one on audio and for the most part that went well. Julia Whelan did a great job of distinguishing her voice between the characters in a way that matched their personalities. The downfall was that this book took a really long time to get into. Being the first book in a fantasy world, a lot of book 1 falls on explaining the world and how it works. With this one, I think the combination of that fact and the feeling of audiobooks sometimes going slower than reading, made me really struggle in the beginning. I almost DNF but decided to push through. At about 41% through the book, the story really started to take off.

The second thing about this book was that I read the reviews beforehand and many of them compare this book to another popular YA book series. This made me a little nervous, because I did not really connect with that other series. I read the first book and then didn't read the next two, although I own them. I am purposely not telling you the book series, because knowing what happened in the first story and seeing all the comparisons between that and this became kind of a spoiler for me. I was still surprised at the end of Midnight, but not as much as I would have been -- some of the connections had already been made.

Those two points aside, I really started to enjoy this story and by the end I was exploding with feels. Oh, I want my ships to happen! Not just the main one (that's a thing regardless), but the other one! I'm really hoping they become a thing in book 2. The interesting thing about how this book ends is that I have absolutely no idea where Melissa Grey is going to go with the story now. I kind of like that! It will have a distinct feel of a whole new story, but also feel familiar as we continue on the journey with Echo, Ivy, the Alla, Caius, Jasper, and Dorian. And the bad guys, of course.

Thursday, April 28, 2016

The Sword Thief by Peter Lerangis (39 Clues #3)

The Sword Thief (The 39 Clues, #3)

Jacque's Review:

The third book in the 39 Clues series brings a few of the participants together to work as a "team." 

 Amy and Dan were warned at the start of the contest not to trust ANYONE, but they don't really see another option.  Nellie, their au pair/nanny, just departed Venice on a flight to Japan while they remain stranded at the Venice airport.  Without Nellie, they are forced to accept help from their Uncle Alistair, who has betrayed them on at least two occasions.  He graciously allows them to travel with him on his private plane, but he really just needs their help to determine the next destination in the race.  

While in Japan, we learn about Hideyoshi, who is the first son on the Tomas side of the family.  He was a great warrior and tried to conquer most of Asia.  In an unusual turn of events, the Kabras appear with Nellie and join the alliance between Amy, Dan, and Alistair.  They all have a piece of the puzzle necessary to find Hideyoshi's treasure and hopefully their next clue, which they discover could be in Korea.  They travel to Alistair's home in Korea to continue their investigation.  

Ian begins to soften and Amy believes they are developing a real friendship.  This eventually backfires and the kids are left wondering why they trusted any of their relatives in the first place.  Fortunately, they didn't share ALL of the information they had leading to the next clue and even gave the Kabras some misinformation.  

If they can just get out of the trap the Kabras left them in, they may still be in the race.  

There wasn't much interaction with the other relatives in the contest this time around.  Amy and Dan did encounter the Holts early on in the book, but we didn't see them after that.  Jonah Wizard didn't make an appearance at all and we left Irina Spasky in the dust somewhere on the way to Japan.  We will see if any of them show up in the fourth book, which appears to be taking us to Egypt.  

I didn't think this book was quite as good as the first two in the series, but it is still holding my son's attention, so we will continue on.  He loves the Hawaii Five-O television series, so he was intrigued by the fact that the Yakuza were mentioned in the book.  They are the 'bad guys" that are often referenced in Five-O, so there was a tie in that he could understand.  He was also intrigued by the swords and possible treasure that could be found along the way. 

Thursday, April 21, 2016

Inside the World of Die for Me by Amy Plum

Book Summary
The ultimate resource for fans of DIE FOR ME, and the go-to guide for anyone who wishes to walk with revenants. With character profiles, in-depth revenant history, and previously unreleased deleted scenes, INSIDE THE WORLD OF DIE FOR ME will plunge you deeper into the realm of all things revenant. Explore the locations where your favorite stories happened, test your level of revenant knowledge in the trivia game, see exclusive images from the books, explore the minds of the kindred through their point of view pieces, and much more.

Flo's Review
This is basically the Revenant SuperFan guide. It's been a minute since I've read the Die for Me series and I didn't get the chance to read all the novellas that came after, so this was a nice way to get refreshed on what happened and then 100% caught up with everything that happened after. 

My favorite part was seeing pictures of actual places in Paris (and some other locales) where scenes in the story took place. I almost wish I had this as I was reading, so that I could have looked at the picture and then read the scene. I also really enjoyed hearing about how the idea for revenants came to be and how Amy ultimately got to the events of If I Should Die.

Our reviews of the series:

Die For Me
Until I Die
Die for Her (novella)
If I Should Die

Friday, April 15, 2016

What I Told My Daughter: Lessons from Leaders on Raising the Next Generation of Empowered Women by Nina Tassler

Book Summary
In What I Told My Daughter, entertainment executive Nina Tassler has brought together a powerful, diverse group of women—from Madeleine Albright to Ruth Bader Ginsburg, from Dr. Susan Love to Whoopi Goldberg—to reflect on the best advice and counsel they have given their daughters either by example, throughout their lives, or in character-building, teachable moments between parent and child.

A college president teaches her daughter, by example, the importance of being a leader who connects with everyone—from the ground up, literally—in an organization. A popular entertainer and former child star urges her daughter to walk in her own truth, to not break glass ceilings if she yearns to nurture a family as a stay-at-home mother or to abandon a career if that’s her calling. One of the country’s only female police chiefs teaches her daughter the meaning of courage, how to respond to danger but more importantly how not to let fear stop her from experiencing all that life has to offer. A bestselling writer who has deliberated for years on empowering girls, wonders if we’re unintentionally leading them to believe they can never make mistakes, when “resiliency is more important than perfection.”

In a time when childhood seems at once more fraught and more precious than ever, What I Told My Daughter is a book no one concerned with connecting with a young girl can afford to miss.

Flo's Review
I skimmed through this book on a short plane ride. This is a collection of little essays/letters/etc., so it's nice because you don't have to read it cover to cover. You can pick and choose from women you've heard of or titles that seem interesting. These women shared their own perspectives on what it means to raise empowered women. Some told specific stories about themselves and what they learned through their actions, while others told stories about their children and what their daughters taught them. 

This little collection gave me hope. Change starts at home, at the family level, and if there are great women like this teaching their daughters to be great women, then the positive chain will continue as their children have children and so forth. 

Thank you to Atria Books for providing me with a copy in exchange for my honest review.

Thursday, April 14, 2016

Morning Star by Pierce Brown

Book Summary
Darrow would have lived in peace, but his enemies brought him war. The Gold overlords demanded his obedience, hanged his wife, and enslaved his people. But Darrow is determined to fight back. Risking everything to transform himself and breach Gold society, Darrow has battled to survive the cutthroat rivalries that breed Society's mightiest warriors, climbed the ranks, and waited patiently to unleash the revolution that will tear the hierarchy apart from within.

Finally, the time has come.

But devotion to honor and hunger for vengeance run deep on both sides. Darrow and his comrades-in-arms face powerful enemies without scruple or mercy. Among them are some Darrow once considered friends. To win, Darrow will need to inspire those shackled in darkness to break their chains, unmake the world their cruel masters have built, and claim a destiny too long denied - and too glorious to surrender.

Flo's Review
This trilogy has really taken me for a ride. I have seriously been on all sides of the field with it. I set aside both of the first two books because they weren't holding my attention. Then I picked them back up, of course, which is why we are here. While reading the first two books I also skimmed through a lot of the detailed war scenes, as they were quite complex and not quite capturing me. 

But Red Rising and Golden Son both had these intense endings -- especially Golden Son. So when it was time for Morning Star, I wasn't sure how things would go. Morning Star is also quite hefty at 524 pages, and I tend not to do well with books that seem to take me forever to read.

Ahh, but this book! It was a beauty and a roller coaster. My emotions were everywhere: I laughed, I cried, I was happy, I was sad, I was doubtful, I was hopeful -- everything. It did seem to take me forever to read, but unlike the first two books I did not ever set it aside in exchange for other books, and I did not skim through entire battle scenes. This one kept my attention. As always, Darrow remains clever and I love to see how his plans shake out. He never loses his compassion, even in the face of the horrors of war, and I applaud him for that. There were several twists that I didn't see coming and a good amount of scenes that literally made me cry. 

Morning Star ended very well, and I am satisfied with where we have left these characters. This series is going to be one that I recommend widely, to various people with different tastes and levels of love for reading.

Friday, April 8, 2016

The Girl Who Played with Fire by Stieg Larsson

The Girl Who Played with Fire (Millennium, #2)

Jacque's Review:

The Girl who Played with Fire is the sequel to The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, which introduced us to Lisbeth Salander and Mikael Blomkvist.  Blomkvist is a journalist who uncovered a huge corporate scandal as well as a dark secret within the Vanger family.  Lisbeth is a "researcher" Blomkvist hired to assist him with his investigation.  She is actually a hacker with a photographic memory and a genius level IQ, but she has a very troubled past.

This installment starts out innocently enough with Mikael and his magazine, Millennium, getting ready to publish another ground breaking piece involving sex trafficking in Eastern Europe and Sweden.  They are collaborating with a journalist, Dag Svensson, and his girlfriend, Mia Johansson, who is completing her thesis on the subject.  They plan on publishing an entire issue of the magazine devoted to the topic as well as Dag's book, which will expose several prominent figures in the community.

The publication is put on hold when it is discovered that Mia and Dag have been murdered.  Lisbeth is considered the prime suspect because her fingerprints are on the murder weapon, but Blomkvist insists the murders must be related to what the couple had been working on.  The murderer has to be one of the individuals they were getting ready to expose in Dag's book, but the police and media are dead set on finding and convicting Salander.

The remainder of the book is a brilliantly woven investigation into the murders of Mia and Dag, which simultaneously digs deep into Salander's past.  We discover why she was considered incompetent as a minor, institutionalized and ultimately placed in the custody of a legal guardian.  It should have been clear to anyone who met Salander that she is far from incompetent, but she does struggle with aggressive behavior and lacks social skills.

Salander communicates with Blomkvist throughout the book via messages delivered to his hard drive.  She hacks into his system and he responds with a corresponding word document left in a folder on his desktop.  Together they put together the pieces Mia and Dag had been missing, why they were murdered, and who was responsible.

I never would have guessed who was behind "all the evil" as Lisbeth so accurately described it.  Once the individual is identified, it becomes clear the danger Salander and Blomkvist are in and what must be done if either of them plan on coming out of this alive.

I was completely shocked by the way Larsson chose to end this novel.  There is a third book in the series, which I assume will tie up loose ends, but we are left hanging in the balance.  I though for sure there would be an epilogue or something to explain what happens after the final scene, but that was not the case.  I guess I will need to read The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet's Nest sooner than I was originally planning.

This is an extremely well written murder mystery.  I gave it 5 stars on Goodreads and would highly recommend it to adult readers.  The subject matter is NOT suitable for children.  There is a considerable amount of adult language and content that I would probably classify as NC-17 if this were a movie.

Sunday, April 3, 2016

Flo's Book Nerd Lent Challenge 2016: How did she do?!

So...if you are cradle Catholic like me, you have heard about the Lenten Loophole. Basically, this means that you are still doing what you're supposed to be doing, but maybe in an out-of-the-box kind of way that will benefit you. There's no shame. We've all done it.

Well, that's what happened to me and this challenge. The reality is, I didn't get to either one of these two pictured books  :( I am a little sad about it, because I really do want to read both. Unfortunately, my time constraints and immediate TBR did not allow it.

However, my goal was to read outside my comfort zone, and more specifically non-YA. I did complete one book and start another one that falls within those parameters. Remember Ready Player One? Straight up Science Fiction, my friends. And same with my current April read, which I started during Lent: Morning Star by Pierce Brown.

So did I read The Flight of the Silvers and Reveries of a Solitary Walker? No.
Did I read outside my genre, by completing and starting two Science Fiction books? Yes.

Lenten Challenge successful.
(And that is how the Lenten Loophole works.)

Saturday, April 2, 2016

Penguin Teen Tour

Alison Goodman, Alwyn Hamilton, Rachel Hawkins, Sabaa Tahir, and April Genevieve Tucholke came to my favorite bookstore Books and Books on Tuesday, Mach 22nd and I was able to attend. These ladies were all fantastic and I had such a great time! The stop was the first one on the tour and some great questions were asked and answered. I took some fun pictures that I'm just now pulling off my phone and wanted to share. I'm not sure why I didn't get a picture with Rachel :( #FloFail

With Sabaa Tahir. If you haven't read An Ember in the Ashes, drop what you're doing so and read it immediately!

Love this pic with April Genevieve Tucholke!

With Alwyn Hamilton 

Alison Goodman is so adorable!

Friday, April 1, 2016

Mary's Booknerd Lent Challenge

I know this is a week late...but it's been a busy week!!

For my Lent Challenge I decided to not pick a number of books, like I did last year, but just a theme. My theme: Paranormal. It seems like forever since I read a lot of good paranormal books.

Here's the list and a short review of each:

Alien Commander's Bride (Draconians #1): (a novella)  I've never been a BIG dragon reader. Sure there's been dragons in the story, but never as hot as Nash and the Draconians. In this story the world has been taken over by Dragons (aka the Draconians). They want to mate and to do that they need human woman. Therefore, the woman sign up for the lottery. Then they are matched with their mate. Nash is the Commander of the Draconians and H-O-T! Lexi Garcia is trying to save her family and she signs up for the lottery. This is a short book but full of hot sex scenes and a deep connection to the humans and dragons!!

Alien Warrior's Mate (Draconians #2): (a novella) Of this whole series this is by far my fave! This sweet, kind Loretta is just trying to take care of her grandmother and siblings and did the right thing by going to school and gaining her MBA. Then came the dragons! Mylash is also my favorite dragon as well! He's a lot like Loretta, but in a hot male dragon form!

Alien Fighter's Woman (Draconians #3): (a novella) Tabby is an amazing character in this series. Rough around the edges, but wants to do the right thing. The problem: her mate: Oro! Talk about a thick skull. I felt bad for the dragon at times, but other times I wanted to shake him.

Alien General's Wife (Draconians #4): (a novella) Of all in this series, I think this is the longest book! And thank goodness it is. This is the action packed one I'd been hoping for. Indigo is a relatable character, but her mate and General, Vlosh, I didn't get this dragon at all!  Sometimes, I just skipped the parts of him alone. He's...strange!

Alien Architect's Bride (Draconians #5): (a novella) This one I have a like/dislike complex with. There's parts I like because of the interactions with the humans and dragons and dislike but this dragon, Joss, a big jerk! Seriously. I don't mind an alpha male type, but OMG ... just no!!! Overall, it's my least fave of the series.

New Beginnings (Others of Edenton 0.5): YES!! I have fallen in love with this series!! Everyone stop what you're doing and just go buy all these books!! That's what I did when I finished this first one. I came across this series by accident. It popped up on my "Recommend Reads" from Amazon. I never even heard of this author before, but I won't forget her name now! Even though I usually love just reading a whole series of one type of paranormal, this has them ALL! I didn't think I'd like it, but OMG I totally do!

Slater is the Alpha of Edenton. Jess moves into town from another pack, because she had to get away from her jerk of an Alpha. Of course neither are looking for mates, but who ever stops looking for their one true love. However, there's a lot more to this story than just love. So much more!!!!

In Too Deep (Others of Edenton #1): Fallon and Brody are by far my favorite couple in this series (thus far). Fallon and Brody are two broken souls and when they connect it hard to see them both fighting it. But, their dark pasts and secrets are why they're so strong now!!!

Shadows of the Past (Others of Edenton #2): Amethyst and Hayden! *sigh* I love these two. Then you add in Preston (oh, yes! More Others!) and you can have yourself a party! Well, not really, but it's a serious love triangle that keeps you flipping through the chapters. This one has A LOT of action in it as well. I made have shed a tear or two near the end!

Falling into Place (Others of Edenton #3): This comes with a warning (I'm not spoiling anything it's in the blurb) but this is a very sexual book, a lot more than the others thus far. So, if that isn't your thing, skip this one. Like the others, this is a bit darker and there are seriously violent scenes. Robert, Liz, and Termaine are three characters you won't forget! Ever!

Breaking Free (Others of Edenton #4): Devlin and Jamie ... wow! I think Jamie is one of my faves in this series. She's down-to-earth and her back story is very sad, but touching too. She's come a long way ... bring in Devlin! Another Other with a dark past trying to find his way ... oh and does he ever!!

Mending Scars (Others of Edenton #5) I know I said Fallon and Brody were my faves ... that's until this book!! Preston and Dacia...OMG! I really disliked Dacia up until this point. She's super-duper annoying and a real pain! No joke! But when you see her trails and past and why she's the way she is ... well, you can make the judgement call. Preston is still swoon-worthy! I adore him and in this book you find out EVERYTHING about him!!

Light In Darkness (Others of Edenton #6) Oh Lincoln! That sweet, kind angel! I adore him and throughout this series I just want to protect this kid! He's so precious! (Then again, he is an angel!) Victoria, Ms. Vampire, is (portrayed) to be the opposites of Lincoln, but like always we don't get the whole story until you read through! These two ... hot ... hot ... hot!

Now that's all I did for the Lent Challenge. However, I'm on this one: Blissful Agony (Others of Edenton #7) and there's more to come!!!