Pub Writes

About the publishing Industry, editorials, and reviews

Playing for the Commandant by Suzy Zail

Posted by Caitie F on October 13, 2014

Title: Playing for the Commandant
Author: Suzy Zail
Hardcover: 256 pages
Pub Date: Oct 14, 2014
Publisher: Candlewick
Rating: ++++

Summary from pub:

A young Jewish pianist at Auschwitz, desperate to save her family, is chosen to play at the camp commandant’s house. How could she know she would fall in love with the wrong boy?

“Look after each other . . . and get home safe. And when you do, tell everyone what you saw and what they did to us.”

These are Hanna’s father’s parting words to her and her sister when their family is separated at the gates of the Auschwitz-Birkenau concentration camp. Her father’s words — and a black C-sharp piano key hidden away in the folds of her dress — are all that she has left to remind her of life before. Before, Hanna was going to be a famous concert pianist. She was going to wear her yellow dress to a dance. And she was going to dance with a boy. But then the Nazis came. Now it is up to Hanna to do all she can to keep her mother and sister alive, even if that means playing piano for the commandant and his guests. Staying alive isn’t supposed to include falling in love with the commandant’s son. But Karl Jager is beautiful, and his aloofness belies a secret. And war makes you do dangerous things.

Review:

Books about the Holocaust are alway hard to read, even if they are fiction, but as long as they are written, I will read them. We need to remember not just what happened, but how it happened and how humans treated other humans and make sure it doesn’t happen again.

This book is truly beautiful. It will break your heart a hundred times, but the writing and the characters are really just beautiful. Hanna is strong, smart and so loving. She takes risks for her family and tries to be strong even when it is impossible. Playing for the commandant is not easy for her or even safe – she hears all about what happened to the pianist who made a mistake. She is constantly in danger, but does what she can to save her family.

The book is full or sorrow and suspense in the worst possible way, but also has hope in the form of the others who work in the commandant’s home and even his family.Without giving too much away, not all secrets are bad ones.

Playing for the Commandant is a wonderful book with characters that make it a wonder to read. It is the perfect book for when you are in the mood for a serious historical fiction book with wonderful characters and a romance in an unexpected place.

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The Eye of Zoltar by Jasper Fforde

Posted by Caitie F on October 6, 2014

Title: The Eye of Zoltar
Author: Jasper Fforde
Hardcover: 416 pages
Pub Date: Oct 7, 2014
Publisher: Harcourt Children’s
Rating: ++++

Summary from pub:

Although she’s an orphan in indentured servitude, sixteen-year-old Jennifer Strange is pretty good at her job of managing the unpredictable crew at Kazam Mystical Arts Management. She already solved the Dragon Problem, avoided mass destruction by Quarkbeast, and helped save magic in the Ununited Kingdoms. Yet even Jennifer may be defeated when the long-absent Mighty Shandar makes an astonishing appearance and commands her to find the Eye of Zoltar—proclaiming that if she fails, he will eliminate the only two dragons left on earth.

How can a teenage non-magician outdo the greatest sorcerer the world has ever known? But failure is unacceptable, so Jennifer must set off for the mysterious Cadir Idris in the deadly Cambrian Empire—a destination with a fatality index of fifty percent. With the odds against them, will Jennifer and her traveling companions ever return to the Kingdom of Snodd?

Review:

This series continues to be one of my favorites. I always worry that a great series will go downhill, especially when it starts as well as this one did!

Jennifer Strange continues to be a fantastic character. She is smart, funny, and adventurous. She looks at the world differently than most other people. She cares about all of those around her and always thinks of others.

My second favorite character in this book was the princess who has to deal with being…not a princess for a little while. She starts off as such a spoiled little brat, which is really fun to read. Sure, she is annoying, but understanding how ridiculous she is just makes her funny! She is also really smart when it comes to very specific areas.It is nice that she isn’t a complete stereotype.

This book had a lot of action and imagination in it. I don’t know how Fforde thinks of so many of the beast and rules of the world, but they are all great. If you want to flex your imagination a little, you need to read this series.

My one complaint is a couple of the side characters felt a little flat. I get that part of it was just who they are, but I would have liked to see a little more.

This continues to be one of my favorite series and I will be so excited to read the next book!

Have you read any of Fforde’s books?

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Lick by Kylie Scott

Posted by Caitie F on October 2, 2014

Title: Lick18873617
Author: Kylie Scott
Softcover: 304 pages
Pub Date: May 6, 2014
Publisher: St Nartin’s Griffin
Rating: ++++

Summary from publisher:

Waking up in Vegas was never meant to be like this.

Evelyn Thomas’s plans for celebrating her twenty-first birthday in Las Vegas were big. Huge. But she sure never meant to wake up on the bathroom floor with a hangover to rival the black plague, a very attractive half-naked tattooed man in her room, and a diamond on her finger large enough to scare King Kong. Now if she could just remember how it all happened.

In Kyle Scott’s Lick, one thing is certain: being married to one of the hottest rock stars on the planet is sure to be a wild ride

Review:

A coworker recommended this book to me. I have been wanting to find a true new adult romance that I liked, so I went for it.

And it was good. I LOVED the main character. She is smart, headstrong and a little awkward. Reading how they met made me cheer. She is just great. She speaks up for herself and doesn’t take crap from anyone, even the rich and famous.

The guy is pretty awesome too – he is not your typical rock star, though some of his bandmates are. When he finds out she blacked out for most of one of the best nights of his life, he is pretty devastated. He isn’t perfect though – he has MAJOR jealousy issues and some anger issues that he is trying to be better about.

The romance is steamy and fun – I totally bought them as a couple and the situations they were in.

It was a little fairy tale at points, but if there weren’t some fairy tale it wouldn’t feel so romantic.

I enjoyed this and will continue the series.

Have any other new adult romances you can recommend?  I am willing to try!

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Mini Reviews: City of Heavenly Fire, Dark Triumph, Throne of Glass

Posted by Caitie F on October 1, 2014

It is that time of year again – when I post some mini-reviews! This is specifically for YA fantasy series! I read these all in August, but never felt like I had a whole review in me, but I still wanted to share my thoughts.

Title: City of Heavenly Fire8755785
Author: Cassandra Clare
Hardcover: 725 pages
Pub Date: May 27, 2014
Publisher: Margaret K McElderry
Rating: ++++

Summary:

Sebastian is on the move, turning Shadowhunter against Shadowhunter. Bearing the Infernal Cup, he transforms Shadowhunters into creatures out of nightmare, tearing apart families as the ranks of his army swell.

The embattled Shadowhunters withdraw to Idris – but not even the famed demon towers of Alicante can keep Sebastian at bay. And with the Nephilim trapped in Idris, who will guard the world against demons?

When one of the greatest betrayals the Nephilim have ever known is revealed, Clary, Jace, Isabelle, Simon, and Alec must flee – even if their journey takes them deep into the demon realms, where no Shadowhunter has set foot before, and from which no human being has ever returned

Review:

The series is over and I know a lot of people like to make fun of it, but I really enjoyed the last installment. Sometimes it got cheesy, the writing wasn’t always the best, but the story had me engaged and reading more. Not every book or series has to be a masterpiece to be a good series. If you are looking for a fun, paranormal series with every kind of creature and a lot of feelings, read it for yourself. And Magnus Bane is one of my favorite characters in any series. I say it is worth reading the books just for him

Title: Dark Triumph9943270
Author: Robin LaFevers
Hardcover: 385 pages
Pub Date: April 2, 2013
Publisher: Houghton Mifflin for Children
Rating: +++++

Summary:

When Sybella arrived at the doorstep of St Mortain half mad with grief and despair the convent were only too happy to offer her refuge – but at a price. The sisters of this convent serve Death, and with Sybella naturally skilled in both the arts of death and seduction, she could become one of their most dangerous weapons.

But her assassin’s skills are little comfort when the convent returns her to the life that nearly drove her mad. Her father’s rage and brutality are terrifying, and her brother’s love is equally monstrous. But when Sybella discovers an unexpected ally she discovers that a daughter of Death may find something other than vengeance to live for.

Review:

This series is very cool, since each book takes the perspective of a different assassin. This book did not take place in the same area of the conflict as the first book, which I really liked. Readers get to see what is going on in an entirely different area. The characters are so strong, smart, and stubborn. If you like your fantasy with some history, or your historical fiction with some extras, read this series. I really look forward to book 3!

Title: Throne of Glass7896527
Author: Sarah J Maas
Hardcover: 404 pages
Pub Date: August 7, 2012
Publisher: Bloomsbury USA Children’s
Rating: ++++

Summary:

After serving out a year of hard labor in the salt mines of Endovier for her crimes, 18-year-old assassin Celaena Sardothien is dragged before the Crown Prince. Prince Dorian offers her her freedom on one condition: she must act as his champion in a competition to find a new royal assassin. If she beats her opponents in a series of eliminations, she’ll serve the kingdom for three years and then be granted her freedom.

Then one of the other contestants turns up dead… quickly followed by another.

Can Celaena figure out who the killer is before she becomes a victim? As the young assassin investigates, her search leads her to discover a greater destiny than she could possibly have imagined.

Review:

This book is SO COOL! How did it take me so long to read it? There is seriously something wrong with me. Celaena is one of my favorite characters in YA literature. She totally kicks butt, but she still likes to dress up and look pretty. It is nice to see a character be both. I wouldn’t want it in every YA book, but it is nice to see in one or two.

The book is so exciting and well-written. I read it in all in one sitting because I could not put it down, I had to find out who the murderer was and see Celaena be awesome.

I will read the next two books in the series soon!

 

 

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Deadly Little Sins by Kara Taylor

Posted by Caitie F on September 29, 2014

Title: Deadly Little Sins18404162
Author: Kara Taylor
Paperback: 288 pages
Pub Date: August 5, 2014
Publisher: St Martin’s Griffin
Rating: ++++

Summary from publisher:

t’s August and Anne is back in New York City for the summer, but she can’t escape the memories of the terrible things that happened at the Wheatley School last spring— and the possibility of being expelled looming over her. When an unexpected— and suspicious— turn of events gets Anne sent back to Wheatley, she’s determined to figure out what happened to her favorite teacher and only adult ally at the school: Ms. Cross.

After a shocking, gruesome murder with connections to the Wheatley School occurs, Anne is convinced there’s more to Ms. Cross’s sudden disappearance, and that her favorite teacher is in danger. But after an ugly breakup with Brent and a new, inexplicable distance between her and Anthony, Anne isn’t sure who she can trust. And even worse, someone at Wheatley knows the truth about what happened to Ms. Cross— someone who will stop at nothing to keep Anne from learning the truth in this engrossing, unputdownable read.

Review:

I liked the second book so much that I immediately picked up the last book in the series and read it the very next day!

The series really goes out with a bang – more murder, more sneaking around, some PTSD, and a LOT of suspense. You will be on edge the entire time you read this, but if you are like me, you will LOVE it.

While this book felt a little rushed at a couple points, it was still my favorite of the three, mainly because it had the best villains/people you think are the villains. That is my favorite thing about this series, you never really know who is bad, and who is just a little dumb and does some things they shouldn’t.

This book had the most realistic relationships between characters, Things aren’t easy, there are misunderstandings and fights. You want to yell at the characters to just talk to each other, but they don’t and people don’t. It can be frustrating, but humans are frustrating.

If you have not read this series yet, go get all three books and enjoy! It is one of my favorite under-rated series/author.

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Wicked Little Secrets by Kara Taylor

Posted by Caitie F on September 27, 2014

Title: Wicked Little Sins17905353
Author: Kara Taylor
Softcover: 304 pages
Pub Date: March 16, 2014
Publisher: St Martin’s Griffin
Rating: ++++

Summary from Publisher:

When Anne learns that her boyfriend Brent’s dad is one of the now-powerful Wheatley alumni who rowed crew with Matthew, and that the crew team continues to induct new members with a creepy-sounding ritual called “The Drop,” she knows further investigation could put her relationship with Brent in danger.

Determined to discover the truth, she reaches out to Anthony, Isabella’s townie brother, who helps her delve deeper into the secrets in Wheatley’s past. Secrets someone would kill to keep hidden. As the school’s Spring Formal—and its notorious afterparty—approaches, Anne sees the perfect opportunity to do some off-campus digging into the lives of Wheatley’s VIPs in this thrilling, unputdownable read—but if she’s not careful, she’ll be the next student who never comes back.

Review:

I really enjoyed the first book in this series, Prep School Confidential and realized I never read the other two books in the series and I have no idea why! So I changed that.

And I enjoyed this book as much as the first. It still has an amazing heroine. Anne is funny and inquisitive. She doesn’t give up, even when she totally should. She isn’t a bad person, and she is really trying to be better, but things get in the way, things like murder.

At times, mysteries like this can feel unrealistic, but for some reason I bought these ambitious people being capable of murder. It doesn’t go too far, like sometimes Revenge did, but it is what you think some rich and powerful people do.

I still felt like some of the romance was tacked on and I didn’t really buy the love triangle, but it felt like teenage romance that doesn’t always work.

This is a series that needs SO much more attention than it has because it is SO good!

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Top Ten Tuesday: My Fall TBR List

Posted by Caitie F on September 23, 2014

Thanks to the wonderful people over at Broke and the Bookish for hosting! On my old work blog I did one of these posts in the spring and another in the summer and wow did I fail spectacularly!  I read two of those books. Total. Not counting the picture books because…well I read those but they are picture books!

So this fall, I hope not to fail quite as badly. I probably will, but I can always try. At my first thinking of this list, it was VERY literary, so I am going to throw in some more fun reads.

1. The Mark of Athena by Rick Riordan

mark of

This was on both lists. It is sitting on my table right now. I WILL read it this fall. After I get to my library books that is.

2. 11/22/63 by Stephen King

11:22:63

I have started this book! I really really love this book! Now just to finish this complete monster of a book.

3. The Marriage Plot by Jeffrey Eugenides

marriage

It’s part of my TBR challenge that I could actually complete this year. Plus everyone keeps saying i should read it.

4. The Litigators by John Grisham

litigators

Another book in that challenge that I just need to read already

5. The Day Before by Lisa Schroeder

daybefore

The final book that I was to read this fall from that challenge! I can do this right? (Okay, there is one more, but my library doesn’t have it, so if I can’t find it, I still am claiming victory)

6. Little Princes by Conor Grennan

princes

I need some nonfiction in my season.

7. Redshirts by John Scalzi

redshirts

I love his blog and his twitter account and desperately want to read one of his books. This is the one we own, so this is the winner!

8. Night Owls by Lauren M Roy

night

Because I need to read some more genre fiction!

9. Crown of Midnight by Sarah J Mass

crown of

Since i loved Throne of Glass

10. Nantucket Blue by Leila Howland

nantucket

I own both of these books and haven’t read either. I really should, since if I like them, I know exactly who to pass them on to!

 

Have you read any of these? Which should I make my priority? Can I say I completed my TBR challenge even if I can’t find the last book? Let me know in the comments!

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Tabula Rasa by Kristen Lippert-Martin

Posted by Caitie F on September 22, 2014

Title: Tabula Rasa
Author: Kristen Lippert-Martin
Hardcover: Sept 23. 2014
Pub Date: 352 pages
Publisher: EgmontUSA
Rating: ++++

Summary from pub:

The Bourne Identity meets Divergent in this heart-pounding debut.

Sixteen-year-old Sarah has a rare chance at a new life. Or so the doctors tell her. She’s been undergoing a cutting-edge procedure that will render her a tabula rasa—a blank slate. Memory by memory her troubled past is being taken away.

But when her final surgery is interrupted and a team of elite soldiers invades the isolated hospital under cover of a massive blizzard, her fresh start could be her end.

Navigating familiar halls that have become a dangerous maze with the help of a teen computer hacker who’s trying to bring the hospital down for his own reasons, Sarah starts to piece together who she is and why someone would want her erased. And she won’t be silenced again.

Review:

I have mentioned that I am always looking for young adult thrillers, so when I saw “Bourne Identity meets Divergent” I was excited. I was hoping for a crazy fast-paced book with killer action scenes.

And that is exactly what I got. The book was so exciting. There were bad guys with guns. There were good guys with guns. There were crazy fight scenes and gun battles that had me on the edge of my seat and it was absolutely impossible to put the book down. I skipped lunch to finish that book.

Is the book perfect? No. There are a lot of plot devices, but it was so exciting that I did not even care. It was just like action movies – things have to be done or taken in x amount of time to add suspense and risk. And that is okay, it just took me out of the story for a second.

The hospital and what they are doing there is kind of mind blowing. The more I found out, the scarier it was. I could totally see some people trying to do it…and being manipulative with it to hurt people they didn’t like.

My only issue with the book was that the end felt like an info dump. Someone explains everything they did and how they did it, like it was a Scooby Doo cartoon. I think it could have been done a little better, but it didn’t ruin the book.

If you are looking for a fast-paced action thriller that will keep you guessing, pick this up!

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Tut: The Story of My Immortal Life by P.J. Hoover

Posted by Caitie F on September 17, 2014

 

Title: Tut: The Story of My Immortal Life 13644324
Author: P. J. Hoover
Hardcover: 320
Pub Date: Sept 16, 2014
Publisher: Starscape (Tor)
Rating: ++++

Summary from pub:

You’d think it would be great being an Egyptian demigod, but if King Tut has to sit through eighth grade one more time, he’ll mummify himself.

Granted the gift of immortality by the gods—or is it a curse?—Tut has been stuck in middle school for ages. Even worse, evil General Horemheb, the man who killed Tut’s father and whom Tut imprisoned in a tomb for three thousand years, is out and after him. The general is in league with the Cult of Set, a bunch of guys who worship one of the scariest gods of the Egyptian pantheon—Set, the god of Chaos.

The General and the Cult of Set have plans for Tut… and if Tut doesn’t find a way to keep out of their clutches, he’ll never make it to the afterworld alive.

Review:

If you like Rick Riordan and are looking for more books with mythology set in today’s world, look no further, especially if you are interested in Egyptian mythology! You should be interested in Egyptian mythology because it is really awesome.

The concept is really cool. King Tut did not die, but was made immortal. The problem? He is stuck as an eighth grader forever, so there is so much he will never experience, including high school. He doesn’t have many friends, since he nevers ages and moves around a lot. Sometimes, he doesn’t even go to school.

But being immortal isn’t all bad. He lives with his mentor Gil and a cat, that isn’t really just a cat. There is magic, adventures, and learning whatever he wants to.

That isn’t much of a story though, and the Cult of Set is after him along with the person who originally murdered him, because of course he isn’t dead either. There are so many great side characters on both sides of the battle and so much action that it was hard to put down.

If you are looking for a great middle grade novel with good characters, an exciting plot, and lots of information on Egyptian mythology, this is a book for you!

 

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Top Authors I’ve Only Read One Book From But NEED to Read More

Posted by Caitie F on September 16, 2014

Thanks to the wonderful readers over at The Broke and the Bookish for hosting! Today’s topic is pretty self-explanatory, so let’s just start!

1. Susanna Kearsley

I read and LOVED The Winter Sea, so now I want more!

2. Jandy Nelson

I just reviewed I’ll Give You the Sun yesterday, and it is one of my favorite books of the year. I need to read her debut!

3. Sarah J Mass

I just finished the first book in her series and need to read the rest because she is fantastic!

4. Catherynne Valente

I read one of her books and it was magical, Must read more!

5. Patrick Rothfuss

The Name of the Wind was an incredible book and I need to read more – he has a way of writing that takes the reader completely out of their own world and into his.

6. Margaret Atwood

I have only read Surfacing, and while it was just okay, I thought the writing was very good and I will read at least three or four more of her books

7. Jennifer E Smith

I have only read one of her books (no ida how that happened), but plan on reading more.

8. Karen Finneyfrock

Starbird Murphy and the World Outside was a book that was SO written for me to love, so I need to see what else she has done

9. Huntley Fitzpatrick

I absolutely adored What I Thought was True, and have heard others liked her first book even more, so I need to read it.

10. Jennifer Lynn Barnes

The Naturals is exactly what I have been looking for in YA, so obviously I need to read more!

Posted in Blogging, Editorial | 1 Comment »

 
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