Monday, January 23, 2017

Scythe by Neal Shusterman

Author: Neal Shusterman 
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
Publication Date: November 22, 2016

This had so much potential and it never materialized into anything. That is the intense tragedy of Scythe. It is a novel with an interesting premise: the world has grown so advanced that no one dies anymore and Scythes are tasked with killing people in an ordered, systematic way.

The characters in this interesting world were completely flat. Citra and Rowan were selected to be Scythes in training. They both don’t want this job. Which is a good thing, you shouldn’t want to be a killer. But, they had no feelings. They weren’t grappling with big decisions. They were just there. It sucked the life out of this interesting premise to have two so very vanilla characters.

The worldbuilding was overdone. This was a long read and it was almost entirely worldbuilding. Which would have been fine except there was nothing else going on in the story. The characters were pawns with little to no personality.

The one thing I did enjoy about this story was that it spanned multiple generations of characters and ideological viewpoints. It was really about internal power struggles in organizations that are immune from law. I enjoyed that aspect but the story read as rather dry. I was expecting something with more zest and this wasn’t it.

Overall, this was so-so read. It had tons of promise that never materialized. I don’t plan on continuing this series, there just wasn’t enough to keep my attention.

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Waiting on Wednesday: Wicked Like A Wildfire

Wicked Like A Wildfire
Author: Lana Popovic
Publisher: Katherine Tegen Books
Publication Date: August 15, 2017

All the women in Iris and Malina's family are born with a gleam—a unique way of manipulating beauty through magic. Seventeen-year-old Iris sees flowers as fractals and turns her kaleidoscope visions into glasswork, her twin sister Malina interprets moods as music, and their cold, distant mother Jasmina bakes scenery into decadent treats at her confectionery in Old Town Cattaro, Montenegro.

Jasmina forbids Iris and Malina to share their gleams with anyone, and above all, she forbids them to fall in love—being discovered could shatter the quiet lives they’ve built in their tucked-away, seaside town. But Iris and Malina are tired of abiding by their mother’s rules and rebel in secret whenever they can.

Yet when a mysterious, white-haired woman attacks their mother and leaves her hovering between life and death, the sisters unearth an ancient curse that haunts their line—a wicked bargain that masquerades as a blessing, and binds the twins’ fates—and hearts—to a force larger than life. To save each other, they must untangle a thousand years of lies and reveal their own hurtful secrets. But even the deepest sacrifice might not be enough.

Wicked Like a Wildfire is the first book in a sumptuous, bewitching duology about the power of love, death, magic, and the many faces of beauty.
My Thoughts: GIVE ME THIS BOOK!!! No really. Give it to me. This premise, that cover. I haven't done a waiting on Wednesday post in a long time but this book mad me do one. Make sure you're adding this to your TBR lists now. I have a feeling it's going to be a big book in 2017.

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

Top 10 2016 Releases I Meant To Read But Didn't

I had a HUGE reading slump in 2016. There were a ton of books I meant to read but for one reason or another didn't get to. These are the top books that I didn't get to I plan to read sometime this year!

1 Crooked Kingdom by Leigh Bardugo
2 And I Darken by Kiersten White 
3 Labyrinth Lost by Zoraida Córdova

4 Just Kill Me by Adam Selzer 
5 The Lovely Reckless by Kami Garcia

6 With Malice by Eileen Cook 
7 The Monster on the Road is Me by J.P. Romney
8 Glitter by Aprilynne Pike

9 Nevernight by Jay Kristoff
10 The Queen of the Night by Alexander Chee

Monday, January 9, 2017

A List of Cages by Robin Roe Blog Tour + Giveaway

Thanks to Disney for sending me a review copy of this book and for providing the prize pack!

A List of Cages
Author: Robin Roe
Publisher: Disney-Hyperion
Publication Date: January 10, 2017

When Adam Blake lands the best elective ever in his senior year, serving as an aide to the school psychologist, he thinks he's got it made. Sure, it means a lot of sitting around, which isn't easy for a guy with ADHD, but he can't complain, since he gets to spend the period texting all his friends. Then the doctor asks him to track down the troubled freshman who keeps dodging her, and Adam discovers that the boy is Julian--the foster brother he hasn't seen in five years.

Adam is ecstatic to be reunited. At first, Julian seems like the boy he once knew. He's still kind hearted. He still writes stories and loves picture books meant for little kids. But as they spend more time together, Adam realizes that Julian is keeping secrets, like where he hides during the middle of the day, and what's really going on inside his house. Adam is determined to help him, but his involvement could cost both boys their lives.

First-time novelist Robin Roe relied on life experience when writing this exquisite, gripping story featuring two lionhearted characters.
Amazon | B&N | Goodreads | Disney

Kindness Goals of 2017
I feel like everyone had an awful 2016...but me. I had an amazing 2016. I got engaged, finished my masters degree in library science, landed my dream job, and moved to a new state! In 2017 I want to pass this good energy to everyone.
  • Be more understanding. 

  • Be positive. In exchanges with other people, both in person and online. I'm going to radiate positive energy and believe the best in others. The bookish community, on twitter especially, can be so negative. I'm not going to be a part of this. I'm going to take everyone at face value and think the best of others.

  •  Be of Service. I want to make positive contributions to my library, neighborhood, and the bookish community.  
About the Author
Robin Roe has a bachelor's degree from Cornell University and a master's from Harvard. She counseled adolescents in Boston before she moved to Dallas, Texas to run a mentoring program for at-risk teens. This is her first novel.
One (1) winner receives:
  • A copy of A List of Cages
  • Plus a $50 Visa gift card to put towards a day of friendship.
a Rafflecopter giveaway

Friday, January 6, 2017

Bookish Discussions: I'm a Librarian in a New City!

WOW! The last few months have been a whirlwind for me! I apologize for letting my blogging slack but so many exciting things have been happening.

I accepted a job at a law school library in Boise, Idaho! Me and Allan (my fiance) packed up all our things and made the move from Tacoma, Washington to Boise, Idaho. It was a hectic month of moving, stressing, and finally arriving at our new place.

The moving company delivered our stuff  a few days after we got here in October and since then we've been slowly unpacking. My favorite part of unpacking is finding the things I packed up weeks ago and forgot I owned. Moving also makes me realize the sheer number of books I own. Around 500 now? And that is after I donated/sold about 75 to Half Price Books.

I started my first job out of library school as a Public Services Librarian! It's great to put to use all of the things I learned while in library school. My favorite thing about my job is still helping students with research questions. I love that moment when everything clicks and students are able to actually find what they were looking for. Although, faculty questions are fun and challenging so I like those too!

In 2017 I've decided to focus more on my writing. Last year I attended Madcap Retreats in March and I learned so much. But I got caught up in school, finding a job, and everything took a back seat. This will be the first year that I haven't been a student in ages. Now that life is settling down a little I'm ready to shift my focus onto writing and getting published.

I hope to blog a little more this year and share some of my own writing here! So that is where I've been. Here's to 2017 and all the exciting things it holds!

Tuesday, January 3, 2017

Top 10 2017 Debuts I'm Excited For

1 Daughter of the Pirate King by Tricia Levenseller (I've already read this and it's great!!)
2 Wicked Like a Wildfire by Lana Popovic
3 A List of Cages by Robin Roe (This releases on the 10th so not a long wait)

4 Seven Days of You by Cecilia Vinesse
5 Shimmer and Burn by Mary Taranta

6 Daughter of the Burning City by Amanda Foody
7 One of Us is Lying by Karen M. McManus
8 Poison's Kiss by Breeana Shields

9 You Don't Know My Name by Kristen Orlando
10 #Famous by Jilly Gagnon

Monday, January 2, 2017

Freeks by Amanda Hocking Blog Tour + Giveaway

Author: Amanda Hocking
Publication Date:

Welcome to Gideon Davorin’s Traveling Sideshow, where necromancy, magical visions, and pyrokinesis are more than just part of the act…

Mara has always longed for a normal life in a normal town where no one has the ability to levitate or predict the future. Instead, she roams from place to place, cleaning the tiger cage while her friends perform supernatural feats every night.
When the struggling sideshow is miraculously offered the money they need if they set up camp in Caudry, Louisiana, Mara meets local-boy Gabe…and a normal life has never been more appealing.
But before long, performers begin disappearing and bodies are found mauled by an invisible beast. Mara realizes that there’s a sinister presence lurking in the town with its sights set on getting rid of the sideshow freeks. In order to unravel the truth before the attacker kills everyone Mara holds dear, she has seven days to take control of a power she didn’t know she was capable of—one that could change her future forever.
Your characters are sent into the Hunger Games. Who wins?
If it’s just the characters from FREEKS, and only one could win, I would put my money on Luka or maybe Roxie. Luka because he can heal from injuries, which gives him a crazy advantage, but Roxie is smart and she’s a survivor. Plus, she has the power of pyrokinesis, which I think I would come in handy in a battle to the death.

What do you listen to while you write? Or do you prefer silence?
I almost always listen to music when I write, unless I’m writing a really difficult scene. Sometimes the silence helps me focus, but most of the time, I prefer music. For FREEKS, I got to make a really fun 80s playlist, so I especially enjoyed working to that.

What is the most embarrassing thing you’ve looked up in the name of research – or what do you think the government has maybe flagged you for?
There are sooo many things. For FREEKS, I had to do fun stuff like, “What does a dead body smell like?” and “How much blood can a human lose?” And then after those macabre questions, I did a bunch of googling on fireflies and tarot cards. My search history when I’m working can be pretty exciting like that.

What was your favorite part of writing FREEKS?
I love Southern Gothics and I love pulpy 80s horror movies, so I was excited to be able incorporate those things in FREEKS. But my favorite part was actually Mara and Gabe. I think they complement each other well, and it was fun writing their banter and flirtations.

Which actor/actress would you like to see playing your main characters from FREEKS?
For Mara, I envisioned Cassie Steele from the start. I used to be a hardcore Degrassi fan, and I loved Cassie Steele on that. For Gabe, I like Ryan Guzman. I saw him in a Jennifer Lopez movie, and I was like, “Yep. That could be Gabe.”
Chapter 1 Premonitions
My feet rested against the dashboard of the Winnebago as we lumbered down the road, the second vehicle in a small caravan of beat-up trailers and motorhomes. The sun hadn’t completely risen yet, but it was light enough that I could see outside. Not that there was much to see. The bridge stretched on for miles across Lake Tristeaux, and I could see nothing but the water around us, looking gray in the early morning light. The AC had gone out sometime in Texas, and we wouldn’t have the money to fix it until after this stint in Caudry, if we were lucky. I’d cracked the window, and despite the chill, the air felt thick with humidity. That’s why I never liked traveling to the southeastern part of the country—too humid and too many bugs. But we took the work that we got, and after a long dry spell waiting in Oklahoma for something to come up, I was grateful for this. We all were. If we hadn’t gotten the recommendation to Caudry, I’m not sure what we would’ve done, but we were spending our last dimes and nickels just to make it down here. I stared ahead at Gideon’s motorhome in front of us. The whole thing had been painted black with brightly colored designs swirling around it, meant to invoke images of mystery and magic. The name “Gideon Davorin’s Traveling Sideshow” was painted across the back and both the sides. Once sparkles had outlined it, but they’d long since worn off. My eyelids began to feel heavy, but I tried to ward off sleep. The radio in the car was playing old Pink Floyd songs that my mom hummed along to, and that wasn’t helping anything. “You can go lay down in the back,” Mom suggested. She did look awake, her dark gray eyes wide and a little frantic, and both her hands gripped the wheel. Rings made of painted gold and cheap stones adorned her fingers, glinting as the sun began to rise over the lake, and black vine tattoos wrapped around her hands and down her arms. For a while, people had mistaken us for sisters since we looked so much alike. The rich caramel skin we both shared helped keep her looking young, but the strain of recent years had begun to wear on her, causing crow’s feet to sprout around her eyes and worried creases to deepen in her brow. I’d been slouching low in the seat but I sat up straighter. “No, I’m okay.” “We’re almost there. I’ll be fine,” she insisted. “You say we’re almost there, but it feels like we’re driving across the Gulf of Mexico,” I said, and she laughed. “We’ve probably reached the Atlantic by now.” She’d been driving the night shift, which was why I was hesitant to leave her. We normally would’ve switched spots about an hour or two ago, with me driving while she lay down. But since we were so close to our destination, she didn’t see the point in it. On the worn padded bench beside the dining table, Blossom Mandelbaum snored loudly, as if to remind us we both should be sleeping. I glanced back at her. Her head lay at a weird angle, propped up on a cushion, and her brown curls fell around her face. Ordinarily, Blossom would be in the Airstream she shared with Carrie Lu, but since Carrie and the Strongman had started dating (and he had begun staying over in their trailer), Blossom had taken to crashing in our trailer sometimes to give them privacy. It wasn’t much of a bother when she slept here, and in fact, my mom kind of liked it. As one of the oldest members of the carnival—both in age and the length of time she’d been working here—my mom had become a surrogate mother to many of the runaways and lost souls that found us. Blossom was two years younger than me, on the run from a group home that didn’t understand her or what she could do, and my mom had been more than happy to take her under her wing. The only downside was her snoring. Well, that and the telekinesis. “Mara,” Mom said, her eyes on the rearview mirror. “She’s doing it again.” “What?” I asked, but I’d already turned around to look back over the seat. At first, I didn’t know what had caught my mom’s eye, but then I saw it—the old toaster we’d left out on the counter was now floating in the air, hovering precariously above Blossom’s head. The ability to move things with her mind served Blossom well when she worked as the Magician’s Assistant in Gideon’s act, but it could be real problematic sometimes. She had this awful habit of unintentionally pulling things toward her when she was dreaming. At least a dozen times, she’d woken up to books and tapes dropping on her. Once my mom’s favorite coffee mug had smacked her right in the head. “Got it,” I told my mom, and I unbuckled my seat belt and went over to get it. The toaster floated in front of me, as if suspended by a string, and when I grabbed it, Blossom made a snorting sound and shifted in her sleep. I turned around with the toaster under my arm, and I looked in front of us just in time to see Gideon’s trailer skid to the side of the road and nearly smash into the guardrail. “Mom! Look out!” I shouted. Mom slammed on the brakes, causing most of our possessions in the trailer to go hurtling toward the floor, and I slammed into the seat in front of me before falling to the ground. The toaster had slipped free from my grasp and clattered into the dashboard. Fortunately, there was no oncoming traffic, but I could hear the sound of squealing tires and honking behind us as the rest of the caravan came to an abrupt stop. “What happened?” Blossom asked, waking up in a daze from where she’d landed on the floor beneath the dining table. “Mara!” Mom had already leapt from her seat and crouched in front of where I still lay on the worn carpet. “Are you okay?” “Yeah, I’m fine,” I assured her. “What about you?” Mom reached out, brushing back Blossom’s frizzy curls from her face. “Are you all right?” Blossom nodded. “I think so.” “Good.” That was all the reassurance my mom needed, and then she was on her feet and jumping out of the Winnebago. “Gideon!” “What happened?” Blossom asked again, blinking the sleep out of her dark brown eyes. “I don’t know. Gideon slammed on his brakes for some reason.” I stood up, moving much slower than my mother. We had very narrowly avoided crashing into Gideon. He’d overcorrected and jerked to the other side of the road, so his motorhome was parked at an angle across both lanes of the highway. “Is everyone okay?” Blossom had sat up, rubbing her head, and a dark splotch of a bruise was already forming on her forehead. That explained why she seemed even foggier than normal—she’d hit her head pretty good. “I hope so. I’ll go check it out,” I said. “Stay here.” By the time I’d gotten out, Seth Holden had already gotten out of the motorhome behind us. Since he was the Strongman, he was usually the first to rush into an accident. He wanted to help if he could, and he usually could. “Lyanka, I’m fine,” Gideon was saying to my mother, his British accent sounding firm and annoyed. “You are not fine, albi,” Mom said, using a term of affection despite the irritation in her voice. I rounded the back of his motorhome to find Gideon leaning against it with my mom hovering at his side. Seth reached them first, his t-shirt pulled taut against his muscular torso. “What’s going on? What happened?” Seth asked. “Nothing. I just dozed off for a second.” Gideon waved it off. “Go tell everyone I’m fine. I just need a second, and we’ll be on our way again.” “Do you want me to drive for you?” Seth asked. “Carrie can handle the Airstream.” Gideon shook his head and stood up straighter. “I’ve got it. We’re almost there.” “All right.” Seth looked uncertainly at my mom, and she nodded at him. “I’ll leave you in Lyanka’s care and get everyone settled down.” As soon as Seth disappeared back around the motorhome, loudly announcing that everything was fine to everyone else, Gideon slumped against the trailer. His black hair had fallen over his forehead. The sleeves of his shirt were rolled up, revealing the thick black tattoos that covered both his arms. “Gideon, what’s really going on?” Mom demanded with a worried tremor. He swallowed and rubbed his forehead. “I don’t know.” Even though the sun was up now, the air seemed to have gotten chillier. I pulled my sweater tighter around me and walked closer to them. Gideon leaned forward, his head bowed down, and Mom rubbed his back. “You didn’t fall asleep, did you?” I asked. Gideon lifted his eyes, looking as though he didn’t know I was there. And guessing by how pained he was allowing himself to look, he probably hadn’t. Gideon was only in his early thirties, but right now, he appeared much older than that. That wasn’t what scared me, though. It was how dark his blue eyes were. Normally, they were light, almost like the sky. But whenever he’d had a vision or some kind of premonition, his eyes turned so dark they were nearly black. “It was a headache,” Gideon said finally. “There’s something off here,” Mom said. “I felt it as soon as we got on the bridge. I knew we should turn back, but I hoped that maybe I was imagining things. Now that I look at you, I know.” That explained that frantic look in her eyes I’d seen earlier in the Winnebago, and how alert she’d been even though she’d been awake and driving for nearly twenty hours straight. Mom didn’t see things in the way Gideon did, but she had her own senses. “It’s fine, Lyanka,” Gideon insisted. He straightened up again, and his eyes had begun to lighten. “It was only a migraine, but it passed. I am capable of having pain without supernatural reasons, too.” Mom crossed her arms over her chest, and her lips were pressed into a thin line. “We should go back.” “We’re almost there.” Gideon gestured to the end of the road, and I looked ahead for the first time and realized that we could see land. The town was nestled right up to the lake, and we couldn’t be more than ten minutes outside the city limits. “We could still turn around,” Mom suggested. “We can’t.” He put his hands on her arms to ease her worries. “We don’t have any money, love. The only way we can go is forward.” “Gideon.” She sighed and stared up at the sky, the violet fabric of her dress billowing out around her as the wind blew over us, then she looked back at him. “Are you sure you’re okay to drive?” “Yes, I’m sure. Whatever pain I had, it’s passed.” He smiled to reassure her. “We should go before the others get restless.” She lowered her eyes, but when he leaned in to kiss her, she let him. She turned to go back to our motorhome, and as she walked past me, she muttered, “I knew we should never travel on Friday the thirteenth. No good ever comes of it.” I’d waited until she’d gone around the corner to turn back to Gideon, who attempted to give me the same reassuring smile he’d given my mom. “We could go back,” I said. “There’s always a way. We’ve made it on less before.” “Not this time, darling.” He shook his head. “And there’s no reason to. Leonid assured me there’d be a big payday here, and I’ve got no reason to doubt him. We can make a go of it here.” “As long as you’re sure we’ll be okay.” “I haven’t steered you all wrong yet.” Gideon winked at me then, but he was telling the truth. In the ten years that my mom and I had been following him around the country, he’d always done the best he could by us. I went back and got into the Winnebago with my mom and Blossom. Within a couple minutes, Gideon had straightened his motorhome out, and the caravan was heading back down the road. At the end of the bridge was a large sign that read WELCOME TO CAUDRY, POPULATION 13,665. As soon as we crossed the line into town, the air seemed even colder than before. That’s when I realized the chill wasn’t coming from outside—it was coming from within me. Copyright © 2016 by Amanda Hocking and reprinted by permission of St. Martin’s Griffin.
About the Author
Amanda Hocking is a lifelong Minnesotan obsessed with Batman and Jim Henson. In between watching cooking shows, taking care of her menagerie of pets, and drinking too much Red Bull Zero, she writes young adult urban fantasy and paranormal romance.

Several of her books have made the New York Times Bestsellers list, including the Trylle trilogy and Kanin Chronicles. Her zombie series, The Hollows, has been adapted into a graphic novel by Dynamite. She has published over fifteen novels, including the Watersong quartet and My Blood Approves series. Frostfire, Ice Kissed, and Crystal Kingdom - all three books in her latest trilogy, The Kanin Chronicles - are out now.

Her next book will be Swear, the final book in the My Blood Approves series, and it will be out November 9, 2016. After that, her next book is Freeks - a standalone YA paranormal romance novel set in the 1980s that follows a travelling sideshow. It will be out sometime in early 2017, with the St. Martin’s Griffin.