From Generic

*Review* Echo ~ Pam Muñoz Ryan ~ 4/12/16


 

Goodreads Summary: 

Winner of a 2016 Newbery Honor, ECHO pushes the boundaries of genre, form, and storytelling innovation.

Lost and alone in a forbidden forest, Otto meets three mysterious sisters and suddenly finds himself entwined in a puzzling quest involving a prophecy, a promise, and a harmonica.

Decades later, Friedrich in Germany, Mike in Pennsylvania, and Ivy in California each, in turn, become interwoven when the very same harmonica lands in their lives. All the children face daunting challenges: rescuing a father, protecting a brother, holding a family together. And ultimately, pulled by the invisible thread of destiny, their suspenseful solo stories converge in an orchestral crescendo.

Richly imagined and masterfully crafted, this impassioned, uplifting, and virtuosic tour de force will resound in your heart long after the last note has been struck.


 

I have read a lot of books in my time, but I can honestly say that I have never read a book quite like this one. Echo is one of the most beautifully crafted stories that I have ever had the privilege of listening to.  I took the opportunity to read this book, via audiobook and I am not even a little bit sorry that this was the route I took.  I know that audiobooks generally take me a bit longer to get through, but this book was so worth it.

Pam Muñoz Ryan spun a tale that was so tightly woven, I would have had a difficult time not devouring it in one sitting had I been reading the story book-in-hand.  However, with the audiobook, I was transported through space and time with music, accents, and a special brand of magic shared so beautifully between the three different narrators, that I felt like I was watching the story unfold as I listened.

This story definitely deserved to win the Newberry Honor this year.  I loved every minute of it and I have been pushing it into the hands of readers since I finished!

Gold star

*Review* Half-Blood ~ Jennifer L. Armentrout ~ 1/27/16

Goodreads Summary: The Hematoi descend from the unions of gods and mortals, and the children of two Hematoi pure bloods have godlike powers. Children of Hematoi and mortals–well, not so much. Half-bloods only have two options: become trained Sentinels who hunt and kill daimons or become servants in the homes of the pures.

Seventeen-year-old Alexandria would rather risk her life fighting than waste it scrubbing toilets, but she may end up slumming it anyway. There are several rules that students at the Covenant must follow. Alex has problems with them all, but especially rule #1:Relationships between pures and halfs are forbidden. Unfortunately, she’s crushing hard on the totally hot pure-blood Aiden. But falling for Aiden isn’t her biggest problem–staying alive long enough to graduate the Covenant and become a Sentinel is.

If she fails in her duty, she faces a future worse than death or slavery: being turned into a daimon, and being hunted by Aiden. And that would kind of suck.


Hello, everyone!  I’m back from a little blogging hiatus and I am hoping that I will be able to get into a stronger routine of posts as we move forward into 2016.  I had some issues with my computer going caput at the end of last year, which made blogging extraordinarily difficult, and I started taking classes toward my Doctorate in Education!  Needless to say, my plate was getting a bit too full and I had to figure out how to manage my time a bit differently before I could get myself back into a regular blogging routine.  The good news is that I have a back log of books that I need to write reviews for, so I should have book review content for the foreseeable future!  Thank you so much to everyone who takes the time to read and comment.


Half-Blood was a fast-paced read that had me intrigued from the very first pages.  I loved the concept Jennifer Armentrout designed that twisted Greek mythology and created a world full of pure-blood and half-blood Sentinels who were fighting against evil forces threatening to keep an entire species oppressed.  The vicious, aether-addicted daimons were another wonderful addition to this world that kept me hooked and wondering what was going to happen next!

While reading, I definitely felt similarities to the Vampire Academy novels – especially with the love story between Alex and Aiden.  However, I wasn’t bothered by the connections that were similar to the Vampire Academy because I loved the series. Aiden and Alex gave Rose and Dimitri a run for their money in this first book of the Covenant series. I thought the connection between Aiden and Alex was realistic, if a bit predictable at times, but I LOVE them as a couple – even if the laws of their society mandate that their union would be punishable by DEATH.

Overall, I loved this book as an introduction to a series and I have already read the next two books!  Keep your eyes out for more reviews to follow!

Gold star

*Review* Tease~ Amanda Maciel

 

Goodreads Summary: Provocative, unforgettable, and inspired by real-life incidents, Amanda Maciel’s highly acclaimed debut novel Tease is the story of a teenage girl who faces criminal charges for bullying after a classmate commits suicide. With its powerful narrative, unconventional point of view, and strong anti-bullying theme, this coming-of-age story offers smart, insightful, and nuanced views on high school society, toxic friendships, and family relationships.

Emma Putnam is dead, and it’s all Sara Wharton’s fault. At least, that’s what everyone seems to think. Sara, along with her best friend and three other classmates, has been criminally charged for the bullying and harassment that led to Emma’s shocking suicide. Now Sara is the one who’s ostracized, already guilty according to her peers, the community, and the media. In the summer before her senior year, in between meetings with lawyers and a court-recommended therapist, Sara is forced to reflect on the events that brought her to this moment—and ultimately consider her own role in an undeniable tragedy. And she’ll have to find a way to move forward, even when it feels like her own life is over.


 

Wow!  This book is a game-changer, folks.  I have never read anything like it before, which I really appreciate.  Amanda Maciel has spun a controversial and thought-provoking tale and yet, she did an excellent job of keeping the writing objective when it could have come across as accusatory to the readers.  Personally, I don’t think it matters whether or not people love or hate this book, I think it matters that people READ this book and that they continue to have the discussion about bullying and suicide in schools.  I thought the writing was brilliant.  I thought the story was poignant and I think it is up to the reader to decide how they feel about Sara Wharton and the role she played in Emma Putnam’s death.

Gold star

*Top Ten Tuesday* ~ 9/1/15

top ten tuesday


 Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted by the Broke and the Bookish.  This week’s topic is the ten characters you just didn’t click with.  As a school teacher, this list grabbed me because I have had to read a ton of books starring a host of characters that have ranged from despicable to diabolical.  I have had difficulty clicking with a great many characters over the years, but that is not to say that the literature in which they are featured is not valuable.  For whatever reason, I just had a hard time connecting with these heroes and heroines of the written word.  Let me know what you think!


  1. Holden Caulfield – The Catcher in the Rye ~ J.D. Salinger
  2. Catherine Earnshaw – Wuthering Heights ~ Emily Bronte
  3. Libby Day – Dark Places ~ Gillian Flynn
  4. Piggy – Lord of the Flies ~ William Golding
  5. Rachel – Girl on the Train ~ Paula Hawkins
  6. Esther Greenwood – The Bell Jar ~ Sylvia Plath
  7. Estella – Great Expectations ~ Charles Dickens
  8. Lady Macbeth – Macbeth ~ William Shakespeare
  9. Juliet Capulet – Romeo and Juliet ~ William Shakespeare
  10. Hanna Baker – Thirteen Reasons Why ~ Jay Asher

My Favorite Books to Re-Read

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When summer hits, I get so excited for the opportunity to re-read some of my favorite books! My loving and supportive husband constantly shakes his head at my choices to re-read because I have so many stacks to address on my TBR list.  However, I just can’t let a year go by without visiting some of my favorite worlds and characters again!  For me, re-reading a favorite novel is like taking a luxury vacation every year.  Below, I have listed a few books/series that I never grow tired of reading.  I hope you enjoy this list as much as I enjoyed making it!


 

1. Harry Potter (Series) ~ J.K. Rowling

2. Graceling (Series) ~ Kristin Cashore

3. Poison Study (Series) ~ Maria V. Snyder

4. The Lord of the Flies ~ William Golding

5. The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time ~ Mark Haddon

6. Walk Two Moons ~ Sharon Creech

7. The Night Circus ~ Erin Morganstern

8. The Secret Life of Bees ~ Sue Monk Kidd

9. The Hobbit ~ J.R.R. Tolkien

10. Revolution ~ Jennifer Donnelly

*Review*~ Shadow Study ~ Maria V. Snyder


Goodreads Summary: 

Once, only her own life hung in the balance…

Oddly enough, when Yelena was a poison taster, her life was simpler. But she’d survived to become a vital part of the balance of power between rival countries Ixia and Sitia. Now she uses her magic to keep the peace in both lands—and protect her relationship with Valek.

Suddenly, though, they are beset on all sides by those vying for power through politics and intrigue. Valek’s job—and his life—are in danger. As Yelena tries to uncover the scope of these plots, she faces a new challenge: her magic is blocked. She must keep that a secret—or her enemies will discover just how vulnerable she really is—while searching for who or what is responsible for neutralizing her powers.

Yes, the days of tasting poisons were much simpler. And certainly not as dangerous…


 

 

Wow!  I absolutely LOVED this book.  Maria V. Snyder is one of my all-time favorite authors and I think that she deserves more credit than she receives for writing incredible fantasy novels.  I started my Maria V. Snyder addiction with Poison Study, which is the first novel in her Study Series.  Since then, I have shamelessly devoured every book she has ever published, many of which have centered around Yelena and Valek’s world.  She is up there with the likes of J.K. Rowling, Neil Gaiman and Kristen Cashore as far as I am concerned.

Shadow Study is a new tale centered around Yelena and Valek, who haven’t had their own story since the conclusion of the Study Series – even though their characters have existed in the spin-offs.  I loved this book because it provided a taste of the romance and adventure that Valek and Yelena created in Poison Study, but it also showcased just how much Yelena and Valek have transformed since their stories began.

Without giving too much away, I love how both characters stay true to their ideals and remain focused on the greater good of their world despite facing the temptations of power and corruption at every turn.  I also adored that readers were able to find out more about Valek’s history!  His back story is even more incredible than I could have imagined and I was fascinated with learning more about him.

I am so excited about the prospect of more stories with Yelena and Valek that I can’t stand it!

Gold star

*Review* ~ Isla and the Happily Ever After ~ Stephanie Perkins

 

Goodreads Summary:

Love ignites in the City That Never Sleeps, but can it last?

Hopeless romantic Isla has had a crush on introspective cartoonist Josh since their first year at the School of America in Paris. And after a chance encounter in Manhattan over the summer, romance might be closer than Isla imagined. But as they begin their senior year back in France, Isla and Josh are forced to confront the challenges every young couple must face, including family drama, uncertainty about their college futures, and the very real possibility of being apart.

Featuring cameos from fan-favorites Anna, Étienne, Lola, and Cricket, this sweet and sexy story of true love—set against the stunning backdrops of New York City, Paris, and Barcelona—is a swoonworthy conclusion to Stephanie Perkins’s beloved series.


 

I know I have previously mentioned my love for all things written by Stephanie Perkins, and this book did NOT disappoint.  I loved the story of Isla and Josh.  Watching their romance unfold brought back all sorts of memories of first love – the agony, the nerves, the pain, the butterflies and the joy.

However, this story was so much more fun to read than your typical teen romance because it was set against the backdrop of some of the most romantic European cities.  Barcelona and Paris were like minor characters in this novel.  I love the details that Stephanie Perkins included about the architecture of the cities down to the detailed maps that were drawn by Kurt, Isla’s best friend.

This story deals with the nitty-gritty logistics of long-distance relationships while also addressing dysfunctional families and the pressures that kids feel to perform and live up to familial expectations.  I think that both Isla and Josh were exceptionally realistic throughout the novel in both their decision-making and their insecurities.  As the story progresses, both characters transform into more mature and believable representations of the characters they were at the start of the book.

Stephanie Perkins knocked another one out of the park with this novel and I am utterly bereft at the thought of this series coming to a close.  That being said, I am so happy that I finally finished the series, I had put if off long enough and it truly provided the ‘Happily Ever After’ that I wanted for this family of characters.

Gold star

*Top Ten Tuesday* ~ 4/28/15

top ten tuesday

Top Ten Tuesday
Hosted by: The Broke and the Bookish
Description: Top Ten Tuesday is an original feature/weekly meme created here at The Broke and the Bookish. This feature was created because we are particularly fond of lists here at The Broke and the Bookish. We’d love to share our lists with other bookish folks and would LOVE to see your top ten lists!


 

Today’s Top Ten Tuesday Features Great Books With Musical Themes!

 


1. If I Stay ~ Gayle Foreman

Goodreads Summary: Just listen, Adam says with a voice that sounds like shrapnel.

I open my eyes wide now.
I sit up as much as I can.
And I listen.

Stay, he says.

Choices. Seventeen-year-old Mia is faced with some tough ones: Stay true to her first love—music—even if it means losing her boyfriend and leaving her family and friends behind?

Then one February morning Mia goes for a drive with her family, and in an instant, everything changes. Suddenly, all the choices are gone, except one. And it’s the only one that matters.

If I Stay is a heartachingly beautiful book about the power of love, the true meaning of family, and the choices we all make.


2. Nick & Nora’s Infinite Playlist ~ Rachel Cohn

Goodreads Summary: It all starts when Nick asks Norah to be his girlfriend for five minutes. He only needs five minutes to avoid his ex-girlfriend, who’s just walked in to his band’s show. With a new guy. And then, with one kiss, Nick and Norah are off on an adventure set against the backdrop of New York City–and smack in the middle of all the joy, anxiety, confusion, and excitement of a first date.
This he said/she said romance told by YA stars Rachel Cohn and David Levithan is a sexy, funny roller coaster of a story about one date over one very long night, with two teenagers, both recovering from broken hearts, who are just trying to figure out who they want to be–and where the next great band is playing.
Told in alternating chapters, teeming with music references, humor, angst, and endearing side characters, this is a love story you’ll wish were your very own. Working together for the first time, Rachel Cohn and David Levithan have combined forces to create a book that is sure to grab readers of all ages and never let them go.


3. Revolution ~ Jennifer Donnelly

Goodreads Summary: BROOKLYN: Andi Alpers is on the edge. She’s angry at her father for leaving, angry at her mother for not being able to cope, and heartbroken by the loss of her younger brother, Truman. Rage and grief are destroying her. And she’s about to be expelled from Brooklyn Heights’ most prestigious private school when her father intervenes. Now Andi must accompany him to Paris for winter break.

PARIS: Alexandrine Paradis lived over two centuries ago. She dreamed of making her mark on the Paris stage, but a fateful encounter with a doomed prince of France cast her in a tragic role she didn’t want—and couldn’t escape.

Two girls, two centuries apart. One never knowing the other. But when Andi finds Alexandrine’s diary, she recognizes something in her words and is moved to the point of obsession. There’s comfort and distraction for Andi in the journal’s antique pages—until, on a midnight journey through the catacombs of Paris, Alexandrine’s words transcend paper and time, and the past becomes suddenly, terrifyingly present.


4. Drums, Girls & Dangerous Pie ~ Jordan Sonnenblick

Goodreads Summary: Steven has a totally normal life (well, almost). He plays drums in the All-City Jazz Band (whose members call him the Peasant), has a crush on the hottest girl in school (who doesn’t even know he’s alive), and is constantly annoyed by his younger brother Jeffrey (who is cuter than cute – which is also pretty annoying).
But when Jeffrey gets sick, Steven’s world is turned upside down, and he is forced to deal with his brother’s illness, his parents’ attempts to keep the family in one piece, his homework, the band, girls, and Dangerous Pie (yes, you’ll have to read the book to find out what that is!)


5. Eleanor & Park ~ Rainbow Rowell

Goodreads Summary: Two misfits.
One extraordinary love.

Eleanor… Red hair, wrong clothes. Standing behind him until he turns his head. Lying beside him until he wakes up. Making everyone else seem drabber and flatter and never good enough…Eleanor.

Park… He knows she’ll love a song before he plays it for her. He laughs at her jokes before she ever gets to the punch line. There’s a place on his chest, just below his throat, that makes her want to keep promises…Park.

Set over the course of one school year, this is the story of two star-crossed sixteen-year-olds—smart enough to know that first love almost never lasts, but brave and desperate enough to try.


6. Shiver ~ Maggie Stiefvater

Goodreads Summary: For years, Grace has watched the wolves in the woods behind her house. One yellow-eyed wolf—her wolf—is a chilling presence she can’t seem to live without.

Meanwhile, Sam has lived two lives: In winter, the frozen woods, the protection of the pack, and the silent company of a fearless girl. In summer, a few precious months of being human… until the cold makes him shift back again.

Now, Grace meets a yellow-eyed boy whose familiarity takes her breath away. It’s her wolf. It has to be. But as winter nears, Sam must fight to stay human—or risk losing himself, and Grace, forever.


7. Tithe ~ Holly Black

Goodreads Summary: Sixteen-year-old Kaye is a modern nomad. Fierce and independent, she travels from city to city with her mother’s rock band until an ominous attack forces Kaye back to her childhood home. There, amid the industrial, blue-collar New Jersey backdrop, Kaye soon finds herself an unwilling pawn in an ancient power struggle between two rival faerie kingdoms – a struggle that could very well mean her death.


8. Just Listen ~ Sarah Dessen

Goodreads Summary: Last year, Annabel was “the girl who has everything” — at least that’s the part she played in the television commercial for Kopf’s Department Store.

This year, she’s the girl who has nothing: no best friend because mean-but-exciting Sophie dropped her, no peace at home since her older sister became anorexic, and no one to sit with at lunch. Until she meets Owen Armstrong.

Tall, dark, and music-obsessed, Owen is a reformed bad boy with a commitment to truth-telling. With Owen’s help, maybe Annabel can face what happened the night she and Sophie stopped being friends.


9. Supergirl Mixtapes~ Meagan Brothers

Goodreads Summary: In Meagan Brothers’s Supergirl Mixtapes, a music-obsessed girl travels to New York City to find herself. After years of boredom in her rural South Carolina town, Maria is thrilled when her father finally allows her to visit her estranged artist mother in New York City. She’s ready for adventure, and she soon finds herself immersed in a world of rock music and busy streets, where new people and ideas lie around every concrete corner. This is the freedom she’s always longed for—and she pushes for as much as she can get, skipping school to roam the streets, visit fancy museums, and flirt with the cute clerk at a downtown record store.

But just like her beloved New York City, Maria’s life has a darker side. Behind her mother’s carefree existence are shadowy secrets, and Maria must decide just where—and with whom—her loyalty lies.


10. The Sky is Everywhere ~ Jandy Nelson

Goodreads Summary: Seventeen-year-old Lennie Walker, bookworm and band geek, plays second clarinet and spends her time tucked safely and happily in the shadow of her fiery older sister, Bailey. But when Bailey dies abruptly, Lennie is catapulted to center stage of her own life – and, despite her nonexistent history with boys, suddenly finds herself struggling to balance two. Toby was Bailey’s boyfriend; his grief mirrors Lennie’s own. Joe is the new boy in town, a transplant from Paris whose nearly magical grin is matched only by his musical talent. For Lennie, they’re the sun and the moon; one boy takes her out of her sorrow, the other comforts her in it. But just like their celestial counterparts, they can’t collide without the whole wide world exploding.

This remarkable debut is perfect for fans of Sarah Dessen, Deb Caletti, and Francesca Lia Block. Just as much a celebration of love as it is a portrait of loss, Lennie’s struggle to sort her own melody out of the noise around her is always honest, often hilarious, and ultimately unforgettable.

 

*Thursday Quotables* ~ 4/16/15

Thursday Quotables

Thursday Quotables

Hosted by: Bookshelf Fantasies
Description: Share a favorite quote, line, or passage from your reading each week!


 

 

“Meeting your soul mate is like walking into a house you’ve been in before – you will recognize the furniture, the pictures on the wall,the books on the shelves, the contents of drawers: You could find your way around in the dark if you had to.”~ Jandy Nelson I’ll Give You the Sun

“Maybe some people are just meant to be in the same story.”  ~ Jandy Nelson I’ll Give You the Sun


Goodreads Summary: A brilliant, luminous story of first love, family, loss, and betrayal for fans of John Green, David Levithan, and Rainbow Rowell

Jude and her twin brother, Noah, are incredibly close. At thirteen, isolated Noah draws constantly and is falling in love with the charismatic boy next door, while daredevil Jude cliff-dives and wears red-red lipstick and does the talking for both of them. But three years later, Jude and Noah are barely speaking. Something has happened to wreck the twins in different and dramatic ways . . . until Jude meets a cocky, broken, beautiful boy, as well as someone else—an even more unpredictable new force in her life. The early years are Noah’s story to tell. The later years are Jude’s. What the twins don’t realize is that they each have only half the story, and if they could just find their way back to one another, they’d have a chance to remake their world.

This radiant novel from the acclaimed, award-winning author of The Sky Is Everywhere will leave you breathless and teary and laughing—often all at once.

*Top Ten Tuesday* ~ 4/14/15

top ten tuesday

Top Ten Tuesday
Hosted by: The Broke and the Bookish
Description: Top Ten Tuesday is an original feature/weekly meme created here at The Broke and the Bookish. This feature was created because we are particularly fond of lists here at The Broke and the Bookish. We’d love to share our lists with other bookish folks and would LOVE to see your top ten lists!


This week’s Top Ten Tuesday is the Top Ten Inspiring Quotes from Books (anything that inspires you, challenges you, makes you think, encourages you, etc.)


1. “I believe good things happen every day. I believe good things happen even when bad things happen…” ~Gabrielle Zevin Elsewhere

2. “Instead of agonizing about the things you can’t change, why don’t you try working on the things you can change..” ~Jordan Sonnenblick Drums, Girls and Dangerous Pie

3. “If you want to know what a man’s like, take a good look at how he treats his inferiors, not his equals.” ~ J.K. Rowling Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire

4. “The more you know who you are, and what you want, the less you let things upset you.” ~Stephanie Perkins Anna and the French Kiss

5. “The important people in our lives leave imprints. They may stay or go in the physical realm, but they are always there in your heart, because they helped form your heart.  There’s not getting over that.” ~ David Levithan Dash & Lily’s Book of Dares

6. “Secrets have power. And that power diminishes when they are shared, so they are best kept and kept well. Sharing secrets, real secrets, important ones, with even one other person, will change them. Writing them down is worse, because who can tell how many eyes might see them inscribed on paper, no matter how careful you might be with it. So it’s really best to keep your secrets when you have them, for their own good, as well as yours.” ~ Erin Morgenstern The Night Circus

7. “Don’t judge a man until you’ve walked two moons in his moccasins.” ~ Sharon Creech Walk Two Moons

8. “We all possess different gifts and abilities.  How we use those gifts determines who we are.” ~ Brandon Mull Secrets of the Dragon Sanctuary

9.”It’s funny how humans can wrap their mind around things and fit them into their version of reality.” ~ Rick Riordan The Lightning Thief

10. “Be a little kinder than you have to.” ~ E. Lockhart We Were Liars