Monday, September 1, 2014

Weekly Update (9/1/2014): What I'm Reading Now

My parents came down from Canada to visit me last week.  It was so much fun to see them and show them around.  I only get to see my family once or twice a year, so I was really happy to have them here.  They went home to the frozen north once again, while I am left to sit and swelter in North Carolina. Not that I'm complaining.  I don't like the cold.  I would take the humidity over the snow any day.

At any rate, my reading has been pretty sparse while they were here, but I managed to get a few books in after they left.  I went on a complete early chapter book binge readathon.  I'm not going to lie; I enjoyed every minute of it!

What I read the last two weeks:

Illusions of Fate was SO good!  I loved it.  A Tale of Light and Shadow was also good.  Once I adjusted my expectations, I really liked the story.  Wonder was amazing.  Just amazing.  Zita the Spacegirl was better than expected and Flora and Ulysses made me laugh out loud until I was crying.  Wild Water Magic, Franny K. Stein, and Roxie and the Hooligans were all fun, short chapter books full of adventure.

What I'm currently reading:

I'm about halfway through the second Janitors book, but I haven't made much progress on my business book or The Worst Hard Time.  I got distracted with a new project and have been reading a bunch of fun chapter books.

What I plan to read next:

Again, I've been distracted and I've added more to my pile than I normally would.  There are just so many good books out there!  Hopefully I'll get them all read.  Wish me luck!

What are you reading?

Giveaways to Enter:

There are just a couple of days left on some of these giveaways, so be sure to swing over and get your entries in!

Saturday, August 30, 2014

Stacking the Shelves #22: Meet My New Books!

Welcome to Stacking the Shelves, hosted by Tynga's Reviews.  This is where I share the new books I've gotten recently.

I've been very good about keeping my TBR pile under control.  These are the books I've received in the last two weeks. 

Middle Grade Books:

Thank you to Random House and NetGalley for this egalley of Nest! I'm looking forward to reading this middle grade novel. I'm already hearing great things about it, so my hopes are up that it will be a winner!

Young Adult Books:
Thank you to Random House and Blogging for Books for sending me a copy of The Young Entrepreneur's Guide to Starting and Running a Business! I've already started reading this book and it's a great resource for kids in high school, college, or anyone that has no business experience.

Non-Review Books:
These books are ones that I've downloaded for free or purchased on sale.  They were not sent to me for review.

That's it for new books for me this week. Have you gotten any new books recently?

Friday, August 29, 2014

Friday Favorites #23: Illustrator Spotlight on Alexander Jansson

Today I'm featuring Alexander Jansson!

I'm really excited to share this illustrator with you today!  His artwork is dark, whimsical, and imaginative.  It's beautiful in a creepy sort of way.  In case you are wondering about these Friday Favorites posts, Tressa from Wishful Endings hosts this meme every Friday and I use it to highlight some of my favorite illustrators.

Alexander's Art:

I love Alexander's artwork!  There is so much going on in each piece.  And look at the texture!

About Alexander Jansson:

Alexander Jansson is an artist, illustrator, graphic designer and animator from Gothenburg, Sweden. He has been educated in the fine arts at the New Domen School of art in Gothenburg and 2d/3d animation at the Steneby School of Design and Craft. His whimsical and imaginative style is a mixture of traditional and digital mediums such as paintings, photography, drawings and 3d objects.

Alexander has created book jackets and interior art for Random House, Scholastic, Bloomsbury, Clarion, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, Penguin, Pearson and Roaring Brook and also been commissioned by the likes of The New York City Ballet, Disney and Weekly Reader

Books with Alexander Jansson's Art:

Thursday, August 28, 2014

YA Review of Storm Siren by Mary Weber

Storm Siren by Mary Weber

Age Range: 12 and up

Series: Storm Siren Trilogy #1

Genre: Fantasy

Hardcover: 352 pages

Publisher: Thomas Nelson (August 19, 2014)

Source: BookLook Bloggers for review

My Rating: 3.5 of 5 stars

About the Book:

"I raise my chin as the buyers stare. Yes. Look. You don't want me. Because, eventually, accidentally, I will destroy you."

In a world at war, a slave girl's lethal curse could become one kingdom's weapon of salvation. If the curse - and the girl - can be controlled.

As a slave in the war-weary kingdom of Faelen, seventeen-year-old Nym isn't merely devoid of rights, her Elemental kind are only born male and always killed at birth - meaning, she shouldn't even exist.

Standing on the auction block beneath smoke-drenched mountains, Nym faces her fifteenth sell. But when her hood is removed and her storm-summoning killing curse revealed, Nym is snatched up by a court advisor and given a choice: be trained as the weapon Faelen needs to win the war, or be killed.

Choosing the former, Nym is unleashed into a world of politics, bizarre parties, and rumors of an evil more sinister than she's being prepared to fight . . . not to mention the handsome trainer whose dark secrets lie behind a mysterious ability to calm every lightning strike she summons.

But what if she doesn't want to be the weapon they've all been waiting for?

Set in a beautifully eclectic world of suspicion, super abilities, and monsters, Storm Siren is a story of power. And whoever controls that power will win.


"There are few things more exciting to discover than a debut novel packed with powerful storytelling and beautiful language. STORM SIREN is one of those rarities. I'll read anything Mary Weber writes. More, please!" -Jay Asher, New York Times bestselling author of THIRTEEN REASONS WHY 

"Storm Siren  is a riveting tale from start to finish. Between the simmering romance, the rich and inventive fantasy world, and one seriously jaw-dropping finale, readers will clamor for the next book--and I'll be at the front of the line!" --MARISSA MEYER,  New York Times bestselling author of the Lunar Chronicles
"Weber builds a fascinating and believable fantasy world. Inventive and entertaining." --Kirkus Reviews

"[F]antasy readers will feel at home in Weber's first novel . . .a detailed backdrop and large cast bring vividness to the story." --Publishers Weekly

"Readers will easily find themselves captivated. The breathtaking surprise ending is nothing short of horrific, promising even more dark and bizarre adventures to come in the Storm Siren trilogy."--RT Book Reviews, 4 stars

About the Author:

Mary Weber is a ridiculously uncoordinated girl plotting to take over make-believe worlds through books, handstands, and imaginary throwing knives. In her spare time, she feeds unicorns, sings 80's hairband songs to her three muggle children, and ogles her husband who looks strikingly like Wolverine. They live in California, which is perfect for stalking L.A. bands, Joss Whedon, and the ocean.
She gets nerdy @ mchristineweber.com, FACEBOOK @ marychristineweber, TWITTER @mchristineweber, and GOODREADS. Come say hi!!

My Thoughts:

Nymia is a storm siren, meaning she can conjure frightening storms, but she can't control them. She is sold as a slave to a woman who wants to train Nym as a weapon against an invading army.

Many aspects of this book are typical of the young adult fantasy genre. A protagonist with an attitude and a frightening ability she can't control, an opportunity to learn to control it, and a mysterious and oh-so-handsome trainer that she can't resist. The fate of her country lies within her ability to learn to master her powers. It's a familiar story, and it's an addictive story as well.

I liked a lot of things about this book. I liked the intrigue of the High Court, the backstabbing and plotting, and the political games where nobody is exactly who they appear to be. I liked Nymia's will to survive and her tenacity. I loved the way she clung to her humanity even in the midst of war.

While the book wasn't perfect, it was entertaining. It was also very clean for the genre. I'm interested to see where the story goes next and I will definitely be picking up the sequel when it comes out.

Content: Violence and innuendo

Source: I received this book from BookLook Bloggers in exchange for an honest review.


Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Mini Review of Kiss in the Dark by Marcia Lynn McClure

Kiss in the Dark by Marcia Lynn McClure

Age Range: Adult (appropriate for teens, too)

Series: None

Genre: Contemporary romance

Print Length: 250 pages
Publisher: Distractions Ink (December 31, 2010)

Source: Bought

My Rating: 4 of 5 stars

About the Book:

“Boston ,” he mumbled.
“I mean… Logan …he’s like the man of my dreams! Why would I blow it? What if…” Boston continued to babble.
“ Boston ,” he said. The commanding sound of his voice caused Boston to cease in her prattling and look to him.
“What?” she asked, somewhat grateful he’d interrupted her panic attack.
He frowned and shook his head.
“Shut up,” he said. “You’re all worked up about nothing.” He reached out, slipping one hand beneath her hair to the back of her neck.
Boston was so startled by his touch, she couldn’t speak—she could only stare up into his mesmerizing green eyes. His hand was strong and warm, powerful and reassuring.
“If it freaks you out so much…just kiss in the dark,” he said.
Boston watched as Vance put the heel of his free hand to the light switch. In an instant the room went black.

About the Author:

Marcia Lynn McClure's intoxicating succession of novels, novellas, and e-books--including The Visions of Ransom Lake, A Crimson Frost, The Pirate Ruse, and Kissing Cousins--has established her as one of the most favored and engaging authors of true romance. Her unprecedented forte in weaving captivating stories of western, medieval, regency, and contemporary amour void of brusque intimacy has earned her the title "The Queen of Kissing."

Marcia, who was born in Albuquerque, New Mexico, has spent her life intrigued with people, history, love, and romance. A wife, mother, grandmother, family historian, poet, and author, Marcia Lynn McClure spins her tales of splendor for the sake of offering respite through the beauty, mirth, and delight of a worthwhile and wonderful story. 

My Thoughts:

It wasn't my favorite Marcia Lynn McLure book, but it was still entertaining. It was a lighthearted, clean romance with deeper issues that were lightly touched on. It was heavy on character development and the sense of friendship/family and happiness that exist in all MLM books. There wasn't as much kissing as some of her other books, but it was a satisfying, clean romance.

Content: Some innuendo and mild cursing.


Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Middle Grade Review of Loki's Wolves by K.L. Armstrong and M.A. Marr

Loki's Wolves by K.L. Armstrong and M.A. Marr

Age Range: 8 - 12 years
Grade Level: 3 - 7
Genre: Fantasy

Series: Blackwell Pages (Book 1)
Hardcover: 368 pages
Publisher: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers; First Edition edition (May 7, 2013)

Source: Publisher via NetGalley

My Rating: 3 of 5 stars

About the Book:

In Viking times, Norse myths predicted the end of the world, an event called Ragnarok, that only the gods can stop. When this apocalypse happens, the gods must battle the monsters--wolves the size of the sun, serpents that span the seabeds, all bent on destroying the world.

The gods died a long time ago.

Matt Thorsen knows every Norse myth, saga, and god as if it was family history--because it is family history. Most people in the modern-day town of Blackwell, South Dakota, in fact, are direct descendants of either Thor or Loki, including Matt's classmates Fen and Laurie Brekke.

However, knowing the legends and completely believing them are two different things. When the rune readers reveal that Ragnarok is coming and kids--led by Matt--will stand in for the gods in the final battle, he can hardly believe it. Matt, Laurie, and Fen's lives will never be the same as they race to put together an unstoppable team to prevent the end of the world.  

My Thoughts:

Matt, Fen, and Laurie have to put aside their differences and learn to work together as they go in search of other kids to help them save the world.  This book was interesting. It was a lot like the Percy Jackson books, but I didn't like it quite as much. The three main characters came across as formulaic. Two boys, one girl. A redhead with a temper, an orphan with an attitude, and a girl with a brain. I've read far too many books with a similar cast of main characters.

I think I would have liked this book more if I hadn't already read a few dozen just like it. It's written well enough, and I liked the concept of the kids being descended from Norse gods. The characters are likable and their differences kept their interactions interesting. There are a lot of action and fight scenes in the book, and I think kids will like this series as long as they haven't read too many other books in the same genre.

Content: One off color comment.

Source: I received a digital galley of this book in exchange for an honest review.


Monday, August 25, 2014

YA Review of The Geography of You and Me by Jennifer E. Smith

The Geography of You and Me by Jennifer E. Smith

Age Range: 12 and up

Grade Level: 7 and up

Series: None

Hardcover: 352 pages

Publisher: Poppy (April 15, 2014)

Genre: Contemporary romance

Source: Publisher via NetGalley

My Rating: 4 of 5 stars

About the Book:

Lucy lives on the twenty-fourth floor. Owen lives in the basement. It's fitting, then, that they meet in the middle -- stuck between two floors of a New York City apartment building, on an elevator rendered useless by a citywide blackout. After they're rescued, Lucy and Owen spend the night wandering the darkened streets and marveling at the rare appearance of stars above Manhattan. But once the power is back, so is reality. Lucy soon moves abroad with her parents, while Owen heads out west with his father.

The brief time they spend together leaves a mark. And as their lives take them to Edinburgh and to San Francisco, to Prague and to Portland, Lucy and Owen stay in touch through postcards, occasional e-mails, and phone calls. But can they -- despite the odds -- find a way to reunite?

Smartly observed and wonderfully romantic, Jennifer E. Smith's new novel shows that the center of the world isn't necessarily a place. Sometimes, it can be a person.  

My Thoughts:

Owen and Lucy meet when they get stuck in an elevator together. The power in New York City goes out and they spend an entire night together, watching the stars. Soon, both of them are pulled away from New York with their families, but they keep in touch sporadically and meet up now and then. It is a slow paced, gentle romance that reminds me of the way romance novels used to be. Sweet, genuine, and real.

The only problem with it is that I've read several other books that are very similar.  But it's nearly impossible to write something that's unlike anything else, so it's not really a complaint. The book is clean, sweet, and it's the way romance is supposed to be. It's about building a relationship and getting to know someone.  I really liked it!

Content: About 3-4 mild curse words.

Source: I received a digital galley of this book in exchange for an honest review.


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