Saturday, May 31, 2014

Stacking the Shelves Saturday #3

Stacking The Shelves is all about sharing the books you are adding to your shelves, may it be physical or virtual. This means you can include books you buy in physical store or online, books you borrow from friends or the library, review books, gifts and of course ebooks!  It is hosted by Tynga's Reviews.

I didn't make it to BEA this year (sigh), but I still managed to find a bunch of new books to read this week! Check it out! 

ARC Review Copies


Hard Copies



What did you find for your shelves this week? 

Friday, May 30, 2014

The Great Greene Heist by Varian Johnson

Genre: MG Contemporary

Jackson Greene swears he's given up scheming. Then school bully Keith Sinclair announces he's running for Student Council president, against Jackson's former friend Gaby de la Cruz. Gaby wants Jackson to stay out of it -- but he knows Keith has "connections" to the principal, which could win him the presidency no matter the vote count. 

So Jackson assembles a crack team: Hashemi Larijani, tech genius. Victor Cho, bankroll. Megan Feldman, science goddess. Charlie de la Cruz, reporter. Together they devise a plan that will take down Keith, win Gaby's respect, and make sure the election is done right. If they can pull it off, it will be remembered as the school's greatest con ever -- one worthy of the name THE GREAT GREENE HEIST.

It's been a while since I read a MG novel, and even longer since I read any novel featuring a male protagonist, so I was excited to crack open The Great Greene Heist.

The Great Greene Heist is a standalone book, but it certainly doesn't seem like it. I actually had to use google to verify it wasn't the third book in a series featuring Jackson Greene and his middle school friends (third because two previous cons were mentioned). It seems as if Great Greene jumps right in the middle of a world we should be familiar with, with little introduction. More about this later! This particular adventure involves student council elections and Jackson's secret (or not so secret!) crush on presidential nominee, Gaby. Jackson learns that his nemesis, Keith, has taken dirty measures to ensure he wins the election. Jackson's not about to let that happen. It's a good thing he knows all the right people to help him pull his biggest con ever ...

I loved the diverse team Jackson assembles, especially Star-Trek loving Hasemi. I also loved Gaby, who was a perfect contradiction of all the things that make up a pre-teen. There were a few characters that I kept confusing with each other -- I had to flip back through the book to keep them straight. And that's my biggest complaint about the book. While it was lively with an engaging plot, I felt most of the characters weren't well developed. What made Charlie uniquely different from Lincoln, other than being Gaby's brother? It was never clear. Part of this was due to the third person narrative, which bounced around from various vantage points. I wish it had been limited to Jackson. He was an intriguing character, and I wanted to get into his head just a little bit more. 

I thought the brief scenes involving Jackson's family were great. I definitely wanted to spend more time with them! There was mention of his older brother's legendary cons (and even a brief cameo!), and how both boys were taught the tricks of the trade from their grandfather. I wanted to know a lot more about this mysterious character! When I first read the book, I assumed this had been discussed at length in the previous two books I convinced myself existed. Ahh ...

And the injustice of having such an unfair principal! I know this wouldn't be the cool thing to do, and definitely not Jackson's style, but I really wanted him to get his parents involved. 

This is a great book for pre-teens, especially those interested in a kids-take-down-an-authority-figure story line. I was just a bit outside this demographic, unfortunately! 

**There is a short prequel to The Great Greene Heist on Varian Johnson's blog. Read The Kelsey Job here.

Thursday, May 29, 2014

The Reflections of Queen Snow White by David Meredith

The Reflections of Queen Snow White by David Meredith

Genre: Fantasy, fairy tale re-telling 

Publisher: Self

Rating: 4.5

What happens when "happily ever after" has come and gone?

On the eve of her only daughter, Princess Raven's wedding, an aging Snow White finds it impossible to share in the joyous spirit of the occasion. The ceremony itself promises to be the most glamorous social event of the decade. Snow White’s castle has been meticulously scrubbed, polished and opulently decorated for the celebration. It is already nearly bursting with jubilant guests and merry well-wishers. Prince Edel, Raven's fiancé, is a fine man from a neighboring kingdom and Snow White's own domain is prosperous and at peace. Things could not be better, in fact, except for one thing:

The king is dead.

The queen has been in a moribund state of hopeless depression for over a year with no end in sight. It is only when, in a fit of bitter despair, she seeks solitude in the vastness of her own sprawling castle and climbs a long disused and forgotten tower stair that she comes face to face with herself in the very same magic mirror used by her stepmother of old.

It promises her respite in its shimmering depths, but can Snow White trust a device that was so precious to a woman who sought to cause her such irreparable harm? Can she confront the demons of her own difficult past to discover a better future for herself and her family? And finally, can she release her soul-crushing grief and suffocating loneliness to once again discover what "happily ever after" really means?

Only time will tell as she wrestles with her past and is forced to confront The Reflections of Queen Snow White. 

The Reflections of Queen Snow White lets us into the world of an aged Snow, mourning the death of her Prince Charming. There is her daughter's royal wedding to plan, and court qualms to settle, but Snow is unable to step back into the world of living. By stumbling across her stepmother's enchanted mirror, Snow relives scenes from her past and makes important decisions about life ahead.

'Reflections' is an apt title for this short novel. It's not an action packed book, so don't expect sword fights. Instead, this is a thoughtful character study of a woman who was grossly abused as a child, finally found solace in a husband, and then lost that solace with his death. How does she struggle past such trauma and embrace life again?

I found the beginning a tad slow, but soon found myself engrossed in the story. The Reflections of Queen Snow White remains true to the real Snow White fairy tale (not the Disney version), and I loved learning about Snow's journey from the clutches of the wicked Queen to her own struggles in court. More importantly, her story transcends the fairy tale origins to discuss very real topics like child abuse, grief, and self-empowerment. 

Snow is a three-dimensional character who has her own faults and weaknesses. Prince Charming is also more than the stock hero we all know and love -- he's a great husband, yes, but also a man who doesn't hesitate to inflict violence against those who threaten his loved ones. I love those contradictions. This novel might be not for the squeamish -- there are some graphic descriptions of abuse Snow suffered as a child -- but I definitely recommend it, even for readers who might not be interested in fairy tale retellings. The Reflections of Queen Snow White is so very much more.

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Waiting on Wednesday #1

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

This week's selection is:

Title: Kiss of Deception

Author: Mary E. Pearson

Published: July 8th 2014 by MacMillan

Pre-order: Amazon

SynopsisIn a society steeped in tradition, Princess Lia’s life follows a preordained course. As First Daughter, she is expected to have the revered gift of sight—but she doesn’t—and she knows her parents are perpetrating a sham when they arrange her marriage to secure an alliance with a neighboring kingdom—to a prince she has never met.

On the morning of her wedding, Lia flees to a distant village. She settles into a new life, hopeful when two mysterious and handsome strangers arrive—and unaware that one is the jilted prince and the other an assassin sent to kill her. Deception abounds, and Lia finds herself on the brink of unlocking perilous secrets—even as she finds herself falling in love.

The Kiss of Deception is the first book in Mary E. Pearson's Remnant Chronicles.

This book looks amazing! The cover is gorgeous, I love novels about girls who don't do what they're told, and the love story sounds intriguing. Can't wait! 

What's your WoW? 

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Top Ten Tuesday Freebie!

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme created by The Broke and the Bookish. This week's topic is a freebie.

We're all familiar with Romeo and Juliet. Love him or hate him, William Shakespeare hit all the bases: parental disapproval, gang warfare, teen marriage, murder, and suicide. And this was in the 16th century!! It's hard to follow in his gigantic footsteps. So in his grand tradition, I present you with: 

Top Seven YA Books about Star-Crossed Lovers! 
*Seven because I ran out of ideas and time! :)

What makes it Shakespeare worthy: Clary and Jace, Shadowhunter extraordinaire, are intensely drawn to each other. There's only one hitch: they might be siblings. Oh yeah, and their father is plotting to destroy the world.  

What makes it Shakespeare worthy: Oh my, where to begin?! Mia's in a coma after a horrific car accident. She's caught in limbo, her body immobile, her mind sharp. Her boyfriend, Adam, sits in her hospital room day after day. If his voice enough to convince her that her life is worth fighting for? 

What makes it Shakespeare worthy: Teenagers fighting to the death in a manipulated environment. Katniss taking her little sister's place as tribute. The scene at the very end with the berries (so very Shakespearean!!). The genius is that there are two pairs of starcrossed lovers in play here -- Katniss and Gale (who I admit I was rooting for), and then Katniss and Peeta. 

What makes it Shakespeare worthy: Hazel has terminal cancer. Augustus is an amputee and cancer survivor. You know that time is running out for this pair before they even meet, but you read the novel anyway, and then you find yourself both laughing and crying. Because John Green is a genius. But you already knew that, right? 

What makes it Shakespeare worthy: First, a confession. This is technically not a YA. It's MG. But that said, everyone should read this novel. It's a mystery, a sci-fi, and a tear-inducing masterpiece. And because this is MG, there are no "lovers" in the traditional sense, but Miranda and Marcus's story is intricate, beautiful, and tragic. 

What makes it Shakespeare worthy: A and Rhiannon's relationship is impossible from the very beginning. A wakes up every morning in a different body. A meets Rhiannon while inhabiting her boyfriend's body, and feels a connection to her that A has never felt before. But how can they maintain a connection when A is never the same person twice? 

What makes it Shakespeare worthy: Lyra and Will are children burdened with the impossible task of saving the world. They come from different worlds (literally), and don't even cross paths until the second book. When they finally do meet, their lives are never the same again. The climactic scene in book three makes me weepy just to think about.  

Saturday, May 24, 2014

Stacking the Shelves Saturday #2

Stacking the Shelves is a meme hosted by Tynga's Reviews in which book bloggers recount their recent book hauls. 

I got some more great Kindle deals on Amazon this week!  

I stumbled upon this find by accident, I was looking for the other Stray novel (not realizing it hasn't been published yet). This looks like such an interesting read, and it was free! Can't wait to read! 

I saw this one on another blogger's entry for Stacking the Shelves, and was intrigued enough to snag my own copy for 99 cents on Amazon. Yay! STS is so very awesome (and dangerous) for this very reason! 

It's really weird that I haven't already read this book. It's been in my to-be-purchased list for a long time. I love fairy tales, and I love robots, so this should be a no-brainer. So when I saw the ebook version was only 2.99 on Amazon, I had to get a copy. 

One more! I really enjoyed the first book in the Cahill Witch Chronicles, so I'm looking forward to reading this. I prefer reading print copies of books (I know, this makes me sound old-fashioned!!!), so I indulged and bought the paperback version. 

What gems have you guys found this week?

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Interview with Marilyn Peake, Author of Shade!

I'm excited about my very first interview on this blog! I was fortunate enough to interview Marilyn Peake, author of numerous books, including Shade.  

What type of books do you write?

I’ve written a variety of fiction: short stories and novels; children’s, young adult,  and adult literature; and I’ve written in the genres of science fiction, fantasy, mystery, and literary.  My most recent novel is SHADE, a Young Adult Mystery novel with Paranormal elements.

Where do you get your ideas for your stories?

I get a lot of my ideas from world events in the news.  I add twists and fantastical elements until I have a story that ends up being speculative fiction based on real-world events.

My trilogy of children’s novels – THE FISHERMAN’S SON, THE CITY OF THE GOLDEN SUN, and RETURN OF THE GOLDEN AGE – were a bit different. In that case, I visualized a poor young boy named Wiley O’Mara who lived on a Celtic island somewhere far up north where it’s very cold, around the beginning of the nineteenth century.  I pictured his mother dying from a disease passing through their village, an abusive and distant father, and Wiley setting out on a path that results in him becoming a hero.  As the story unfolded, I created several fantasy characters who became Wiley’s mentors, guiding him along the path of his hero’s journey.  His primary mentor is a magical dolphin named Elden who speaks to him and with whom he’s able to swim underwater.  Another mentor is Lucinda, a fairy godmother type character. The scenes in these novels are very visual.

I reviewed your Young Adult novel, Shade, on Goodreads (read the review here!).  Can you tell everyone what it’s about?

Thanks so much for your review!  I’m glad you enjoyed SHADE.  It’s a Young Adult Mystery novel with Paranormal elements.  SHADE was one of my most favorite novels to write.  As I created her story, Shade became one of my favorite characters.  She’s smart and sassy.  She’s both rebellious and highly moral.  Her mother’s a drug addict and alcoholic with a chaotic lifestyle.  Breaking up with one boyfriend after another, even after Shade becomes attached to them, and moving to new locations, her mom is forever destroying any stability Shade might establish in her life.  Shade’s full name is Galactic Shade Griffin, a name given to her by her mother and one that Shade resents.  She envies everyone with a normal name.  In order to control all the chaos in her life, Shade repeatedly cuts herself.

The summer before Shade’s junior year of high school, her mother breaks up with yet another boyfriend and moves them to an old run-down Victorian house in yet another new town.  Shade’s thankful for at least having a pretty cool attic bedroom all to herself…until she discovers it’s haunted by the ghost of a teenaged boy, Brandon Yates.  It turns out he has a troubled past that blocks his way to eternal peace until he helps another person back on Earth.  Gradually, as Shade and Brandon come to know one another, they help each other solve their problems.  With tremendous courage, Shade goes on to help many other people.  She straightens out her own life and becomes a hometown hero.

SHADE deals with difficulties faced by many teenagers.  It’s primarily a story about the struggle of growing up and finding out who you really are.  It also deals with some serious world events that are frequently in the news.  For Shade, she comes face-to-face with these events when her best friend, Annie Green, and some other girls from their high school go missing.

What have you enjoyed most about being a writer?

I find writing both difficult and exhilarating.  On the days when all the words are flowing, it’s exhilarating and that’s one of the best things about being a writer.

After a book’s completed and published, I absolutely love interacting with readers and reviewers. One of the best feelings in the world is sharing a new book with readers!  I’ve had a wonderful time introducing SHADE over on Goodreads because there are so many enthusiastic readers and reviewers over there – including you, Wendi!

What are your plans for future writing projects?

Right now, I’m writing a story set in Hugh Howey’s WOOL universe, a story for which Hugh Howey has given me his complete blessing.  I’m very excited about this!  I’m also beginning to formulate ideas for a possible series of SHADE novels, continuing on into her college years.

Do you have any advice for other writers?

To never give up!  Writing can be hard, but it’s also very rewarding.  It takes practice and patience to succeed at writing and publishing stories.

Do you have a website?

Yes, I do.  My website is:  
Thanks so much for this interview, Wendi!

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Ten Books About Friendship

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme created by The Broke and the Bookish

This week's topic is ten books about friendship. Definitely a fun category. :)

There's the books about friendships between a girl and a guy (Could it lead into something more? Read them and see!)...

There's the weepy friendship reads (warning: have a box of tissues on hand at all times!)

And novels about friendship that take a darker turn...

And finally, novels about friendship in my TBR pile:

What are your picks?

Sunday, May 18, 2014

To All The Boys I've Loved Before by Jenny Han

To All The Boys I've Loved Before by Jenny Han

Genre: Contemporary YA

Publisher: Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers

Rating: 4

Lara Jean’s love life goes from imaginary to out of control in this heartfelt novel from the New York Times bestselling author of The Summer I Turned Pretty series.

What if all the crushes you ever had found out how you felt about them…all at once?

Lara Jean Song keeps her love letters in a hatbox her mother gave her. They aren’t love letters that anyone else wrote for her; these are ones she’s written. One for every boy she’s ever loved—five in all. When she writes, she pours out her heart and soul and says all the things she would never say in real life, because her letters are for her eyes only. Until the day her secret letters are mailed, and suddenly, Lara Jean’s love life goes from imaginary to out of control.

I really wanted to love this book with a capital 'L.' I purchased a copy at my local Barnes and Noble because I was so freaking happy to see an Asian girl on the cover of a YA book. In fact, I think I did a little dance in the aisle. Plus, the premise sounded cute, and I've been in the mood to read something other than dark YA or fantasy.

My first stumbling block was Lara Jean, and stumbling is an apt word. When her older sister goes away to college, Lara Jean has to figure out how to fill Margot's very big footsteps. She needs to wrangle her littlest sister, reassure her father that everything is going smoothly, and navigate her way through her junior year. When her old love letters are "accidentally" mailed out, Lara Jean embarks on a complicated fake relationship with one boy in order to keep another boy (Margot's ex-boyfriend) from thinking that she still has feelings for him, even though she, umm, does. At times, Lara Jean seems much younger than sixteen, and very naive. 

This is a novel about first love, which it does well. But I feel that the most important relationship in this book is between Lara Jean and her older sister, Margot. The problem is that Margot is out of the country until the last few chapters. There are a few letters and an awkward video conference beforehand, but that's it. I love how the novel ends, but I wish Margot had more of a real presence. 

Other things I love? The very genuine way the Song girls struggle to get in touch with their Korean heritage (they're half Korean), especially when they don't get to see their Korean relatives often. Lara Jean has a few memories of dishes her mother used to cook, but that's about it. 
There are very limited options for Asian girls on Halloween. Like one year I went as Velma from Scooby-Doo, but people just asked me if I was a manga character. I even wore a wig! So now I'm committed to dressing up as Asian characters exclusively. 
This! This is so true!!

So ultimately Lara Jean endeared herself to me, and I did feel sad as I read the last few pages and closed the book. I'll definitely read the sequel, if one's in the works. 

Saturday, May 17, 2014

Stacking The Shelves Saturday

Stacking the Shelves is a meme hosted by Tynga's Reviews in which book bloggers recount their recent book hauls. 

Happy Saturday, everyone! I've been doing more browsing on Amazon. I've found three new novels that I've downloaded and want to share with you!

Ruth Silver's new novel is a YA fantasy about parallel universes. In addition to a kickass cover, it also has an intriguing synopsis:

Join forces with a parallel universe.  
Dark forces, magical creatures, and the world Lil thought she knew collide when a dream transports her to the strange world of Orenda. Stunned and terrified, Lil comes face to face with her doppelganger, Willow, who possesses the ability to travel between the two worlds. Everything Lil knows logically says that Orenda can’t exist, but a small clue may be proof that it was more than an ordinary dream. With the threat of her sister in danger, Lil crosses dimensions but it may cost her even more than she bargained for.  
A sword wielding girl, the eternal suit, and a parallel universe come together in this action-packed Young Adult fantasy adventure that will keep readers of all ages turning the pages. Orenda is the first novel in the Orenda series.
Can't wait to read this!

Here's a new addition to my fairy tale collection! Jamie Campbell's novella is a retelling of the Cinderella fairy tale from the perspective of one of the ugly step-sisters.

History is told from one person's perspective. Sometimes they don't get it right.

Ugly Stepsister Anna has wrongly been accused of being mean and evil. Now it is time she got the opportunity to tell her side of the story.

With Cinderella so perfect and wonderful, it is no wonder Anna feels ugly in comparison. Dealing with bullies, a grumpy mother and the death of her step-father, Anna is at her wits end.

When the Prince's ball approaches, Anna is told she must find a husband to save the family fortune. Attending with her sisters, the sulky Prince Charming only has eyes for Cinderella.

With the burden of being the only one to unite her step-sister with the Prince, will Anna act as cupid? Or will she protect Cinderella from the arrogant Charming?

A charming twist to the story of Cinderella, told completely from the point of view of the Ugly Step-Sister.

Okay, we've got our fantasy and fairy tale bases covered. What's left? A dark contemporary YA novel, of course.

In just a few months Harp Evans will be officially coming of age and graduating from high school. She will be free from the mother that never wanted her, the house that never felt like home, and the disappointment of the last seventeen years. What she doesn’t know is that her mother has been holding onto a secret that has the potential to derail her dreams and destroy her already faulty sense of self.  
A self-proclaimed recluse, Harp spends most of her time practicing the cello, in the hopes of earning a full scholarship that will grant her freedom, but will also send her away from her best friend Connor Williams, who is becoming more than just a friend. 
As revelations are made, will Harp still feel the same way about leaving everyone that cares about her behind? Or will she continue to pursue the life she’s been dreaming of, for as long as she can remember?

So excited to read this one!!

Find any new reads this week? Let me know what it is in the comment section!