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Archive for April, 2014

Scan by Walter Jury and S.E. Fine

Posted by Caitie F on April 27, 2014

Title: Scan13451410
Author: Walter Jury and S.E. Fine
Hardcover: 336 pages
Pub Date: May 1, 2014
Publisher: Putnam
Rating: +++

Summary from pub:

Tate and his father don’t exactly get along. As Tate sees it, his father has unreasonably high expectations for Tate to be the best—at everything. Tate finally learns what he’s being prepared for when he steals one of his dad’s odd tech inventions and mercenaries ambush the school, killing his father in the process and sending Tate on the run from aliens who look just like humans.

Even with all he knows like how to defend himself with useful tools made out of bubblegum, Tate fears he’s still inadequate. With the help of his girlfriend and estranged mother, all Tate can really do is keep moving and ensure his father’s invention stays out of the hands of his pursuers and that his father didn’t die in vain

Review:

If you are looking for a science fiction book with aliens and a lot of action, look no further. It felt like the action rarely stopped.

Which isn’t a bad thing. When I read the description of the book, my first thought was that I hoped it would be action-packed and not too much on the science of it all and that is what I got. It is a hard book to put down because you keep wondering how Tate and Christina are going to get out of their situation alive.

I also thought their relationship was interesting, but wish Christina has expressed her thoughts more. I mean, she just found out she was an alien and while it freaks her out a little, I would have liked to know more. They were both good characters, thought Tate’s father trained him to be a little too perfect. He could go into a convenience store and figure out how to make a device that would save them a little too easily. But, he was basically bred to be a genius who is perfect, so it didn’t bother me too much.

The best part about this book was the dynamic of both The Fifty and The Core. Everyone in The Fifty has different opinions of the best way to do things. Some look for a peaceful route that can save everyone. Some want to kill all the aliens, even the ones that don’t know what they are (which makes for the most edge-of-your-seat moment in the book). Some are in the middle. There are even aliens who have left The Core who see things differently from the “take all the power’ group. I will read the next book in the series just to see where all that goes

It wasn’t the best book, but it was good. It lost an extra star because it didn’t actually end. The last sentence was just a cliffhanger for the next book and that is one of my pet peeves.

Have you read any good science fiction lately?

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Dewey’s Read-a-thon Wrap Up

Posted by Caitie F on April 27, 2014

 

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Another Read-a-thon has come to an end! As always, it was great! Here are my final stats:

Total pages read: 1357

Total time spent reading: 10 hours 11 minutes

 

  • Which hour was most daunting for you?

I needed a break around hour 7 and was done at hour 18

  • Could you list a few high-interest books that you think could keep a Reader engaged for next year?

Anything by Rainbow Rowell.

  • Do you have any suggestions for how to improve the Read-a-thon next year?

Nope!

  • What do you think worked really well in this year’s Read-a-thon?

The cheerleaders were fantastic!

  • How many books did you read?

I finished 4, DNF 2, read some short stories, started 2.

  • What were the names of the books you read?

I finished

Gods Behaving Badly by Marie Phillips
Landline by Rainbow Rowell
Every You, Every Me by David Levithan
Five Summers by Una LaMarche

I read a couple chapters and DNFed

The Year of Magical Thinking
Fever Pitch

I read 3 short stories in

Pretty Monsters by Kelly Link

And started

Cultures of War: Pearl Harbor / Hiroshima / 9-11 / Iraq by John W Dowe
Guards! Guards! by Terry Pratchett

  • Which book did you enjoy most?

Landline byRainbow Rowell

  • Which did you enjoy least?

Feer Pitch by Nick Hornby

  • How likely are you to participate in the Read-a-thon again? What role would you be likely to take next time?

As long as I am around and don’t have previous plans, I will participate as a reader.

 

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Read-a-thon Update #2

Posted by Caitie F on April 26, 2014

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We had a nice walk and got some ice cream, but the reading part didn’t go so well. I started two books and decided I didn’t like them and took them off of my to-read list. At least I know now. I will read while dinner is cooking.

Reading right now: I am going to read a little of Cultures of War: Pearl Harbor / Hiroshima / 9-11 / Iraq by John W Dowe and when I have had enough non-fiction will grab a fun YA book.

Books finished: Every You, Every Me by David Levithan, three short stories from Pretty Monsters by Kelly Link

Pages read since last update: 391

Total pages read: 891

Total time spent reading: 6 hours 39 minutes

Snacks: Got ice cream while it was still nice out!

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Read-a-thon Update #1

Posted by Caitie F on April 26, 2014

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How is your read-a-thon going? It is time for my break. It is gorgeous outside and I want to go for a walk with Jason. So far it has been awesome!

Here are the stats I will be keeping track of:

Reading right now: When I get back from my break, I am going to read Fever Pitch by NIick Hornby

Books finished: Gods Behaving Badly by Marie Phillips, Landline by Rainbow Rowell

Pages read since last update: 500

Total pages read: 500

Total time spent reading: 4 hours 15 minutes

Snacks: I had breakfast, lunch, and a full pot of coffee!

Read anything good yet? Landline was absolute perfection.

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Read-a-thon Kick Off Post!

Posted by Caitie F on April 26, 2014

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It has started. Okay – it started 40 minutes ago, but good enough for me! And, as always, I will start with the kick-off meme.

1) What fine part of the world are you reading from today?

New Jersey

2) Which book in your stack are you most looking forward to?

Landline by Rainbow Rowell.

3) Which snack are you most looking forward to?

I don’t have any planned! Right now – breakfast and coffee!

4) Tell us a little something about yourself!

I have an awesome husband who thinks I am a little nuts for doing this.

5) If you participated in the last read-a-thon, what’s one thing you’ll do different today? If this is your first read-a-thon, what are you most looking forward to?

What am I doing differently? Um,…I am not as prepared as usual or have anything to bake. 😦

 

Here are the stats I will be keeping track of:

Reading right now: Gods Behaving Badly by Marie Phillips

Books finished: 0

Pages read since last update: 0

Total pages read: 0

Total time spent reading: 0 hours

Snacks:

Making the coffee right now!

 

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Ready for the Read-a-thon!

Posted by Caitie F on April 25, 2014

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The April Dewey’s Read-a-thon is tomorrow! These days are some of my favorites of the year!

I am not quite as prepared for this years as I usually am, but I do have my stacks of books

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This is the stack from the library. All of these books are on my list for The 2014 TBR Pile Challenge. I figure I may as well try some of them!

Then I have these two stacks of ARCs that I have

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These are a bunch of fun books! I can’t wait to get started. I won’t set an alarm because it is the weekend.What should I make sure I read? I know I will read Landline!

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The One Safe Place by Tania Unsworth

Posted by Caitie F on April 24, 2014

Title: The One Safe Place18267072
Author: Tania Unsworth
Hardcover: 304 pages
Pub Date: April 29, 2014
Publisher: Algonquin for Young Readers
Rating: ++++

Summary from pub:

Devin doesn’t remember life before the world got hot; he has grown up farming the scorched earth with his grandfather in their remote valley. When his grandfather dies, Devin heads for the city. Once there, among the stark glass buildings, he finds scores of children, just like him, living alone on the streets. They tell him rumors of a place for abandoned children, with unlimited food and toys and the hope of finding a new family. But only the luckiest get there.

An act of kindness earns Devin an invitation to the home, but it’s soon clear that it’s no paradise. As Devin investigates the intimidating administrator and the zombie-like sickness that afflicts some children, he discovers the home’s horrific true mission. The only real hope is escape, but the place is as secure as a fortress.

Review:

I keep hearing that the dystopian trend is over, but then I read a book like this and see that is not true. There is plenty of room for new stories that look at a possible future in a different and scary way.

The actual story of this was completely engrossing. What is really going on is slowly hinted at, so by the time Devin figures it out the reader has just gotten it also. Figuring it out with him actually made it even more shocking because the realization just started to dawn on you. I don’t want to spoil it, but it is disturbing in the best possible way.

I adore Devin. He is such a good character. He is a good person, which always helps, but he is also bright, inquisitive, and very brave. I can see why he would get picked to come to the home. He isn’t perfect, but his imperfections make you want to root for him even more because he feels so real.

Some of the secondary characters fall a little flat, but the important ones are more well-rounded. The villain is also sufficiently creepy and intimidating. She is not an easy foe and she is very good at keeping secrets.

The whole premise of this book is very disturbing, mostly because it is a possible future. Climate change is going to have significant impacts and those impacts will be show the differences between the uber-wealthy and the poor even more. I like that there are some dystopian coming out about climate change because they feel so real.

This is a great dystopian book. Which do you feel could be the most realistic dystopian society? Let me know in the comments!

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The Prisoner of Night and Fog by Anne Blankman

Posted by Caitie F on April 23, 2014

Title: The Prisoner of Night and Fog17668473
Author: Anne Blankman
Hardcover: 398 pages
Pub Date: April 22, 2013
Publisher: Balzar & Bray
Rating: +++++

Summary from pub:

Gretchen Müller grew up in the National Socialist Party under the wing of her uncle Dolf—who has kept her family cherished and protected from the darker side of society ever since her father traded his life for Dolf’s. But Uncle Dolf is none other than Adolf Hitler. And Gretchen follows his every command.

When she meets a fearless and handsome young Jewish reporter named Daniel Cohen who claims that her father was actually murdered by an unknown comrade, Gretchen doesn’t know what to believe. She soon discovers that beyond her sheltered view lies a world full of shadowy secrets and disturbing violence.

As Gretchen’s investigations lead her to question the motives and loyalties of her dearest friends and her closest family, she must determine her own allegiances—even if her choices could get her and Daniel killed.

Review:

A lot of people are fascinated about the evil of Hitler and what he did. How did he get into power? How did it happen? This book takes a look at it through the eyes of a fictional teenager. The result is a powerful historical novel that has a lot of crossover appeal to the adult market.

The characters are amazing, especially since so many of them were real people. In the author’s note, it says that a lot of the events are accurate, but we obviously do not know all the specific conversations. They have been imagined very well and I felt like I was reading Hitler and his top advisors words. There was also a distinctive difference between Gretchen’s Uncle Dorf and when she sees him in a new light.

The completely fictional characters were so interesting. I wanted to shake Gretchen to see what was really happening and what Hitler really meant. There is also a scene in the beginning that is really hard to read with the way she is describing a Jewish man. Sadly, that is how people thought. Watching her learn what was going on and start to question things made me wonder if there were any Gretchen’s in his life that had to run and hide. Gretchen is bright and clever, but a little naive which just makes her more real.

Her brother is terrifying and it is scary to know that there are people like him in the world, but there are. Daniel was wonderful. He challenged those around him, was brave, and always wanted to do what was right, not what was easy. At some points it felt like he was perfect, but he wasn’t. He had to be so good though since only that would really help change Gretchen.

This isn’t just good as a historical novel, it is also a good look at psychology and sociology. I feel like I learned a lot from this book and really hope to see more from this author. It is hard to believe something this well-written and thrilling is a debut.

This is a fantastic book and I hope lots of people read it so we can all talk about it.

 

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The Inventor’s Secret by Andrea Cremer

Posted by Caitie F on April 22, 2014

Title: The Inventor’s Secret10123237
Author: Andrea Cremer
Hardcover: 336 pages
Pub Date: April 22, 2014
Publisher: Philomel
Rating: ++++

Summary from pub:

In this world, sixteen-year-old Charlotte and her fellow refugees have scraped out an existence on the edge of Britain’s industrial empire. Though they live by the skin of their teeth, they have their health (at least when they can find enough food and avoid the Imperial Labor Gatherers) and each other. When a new exile with no memory of his escape  or even his own name seeks shelter in their camp he brings new dangers with him and secrets about the terrible future that awaits all those who have struggled has to live free of the bonds of the empire’s Machineworks.

 

The Inventor’s Secret is the first book of a YA steampunk series set in an alternate nineteenth-century North America where the Revolutionary War never took place and the British Empire has expanded into a global juggernaut propelled by marvelous and horrible machinery.

Review:

I really think steampunk can be a successful genre, but so far, it hasn’t been. Combining it with an alternate history so different adds to the appeal, as does a best-selling author. So maybe this will be the book to finally break out. I hope it is.

It is great. In this world, there was no Revolutionary War and the class differences in the colonies is even worse than it is in the United States now. There are different levels of society and only the Upper Level can go wherever they please. It is a fascinating look at what could have been and what could be. But if alternate history isn’t your thing, there are great characters and a intriguing plot.

But there is a group that lives outside of the society, a group of children. Their parents are rebels and have set up a place run by older children so they can live outside of the tyranny and one day join the forces.  Charlotte and her brother are seen as the leaders and go into the city along with Jack to get more information. It is her first time in the city, and the culture shock is high. It was great to see it through her eyes because it showed how ridiculous the very wealthy are. Charlotte is an awesome character, no one expects as much from her because she is a young girl, but she is smart and daring.

There is a love triangle, but it is actually a very good one. I buy both love interests and see how she is pulled from one to the other. At one point I wanted to reach in the book and slap one of the guys…so it is pretty realistic too, because teenaged boys do stupid things!

The story is full of mystery and suspense. The answers are not always so clear and when they are revealed the reader is left with so many more questions, but in a good way.

This is a really great book and I look forward to the next one in the series. My only problem with it is that the end was a bit of a cliffhanger, which is always frustrating!

Do you like steampunk or alternate histories? Have you read any good ones? Let me know in the comments.

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The Boundless by Kenneth Oppel

Posted by Caitie F on April 18, 2014

Title: The Boundless17846771
Author: Kenneth Oppel
Hardcover: 336 pages
Pub Date: April 22, 2014
Publisher: Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers
Rating: ++++

Summary from pub:

The Boundless, the greatest train ever built, is on its maiden voyage across the country, and first-class passenger Will Everett is about to embark on the adventure of his life!

When Will ends up in possession of the key to a train car containing priceless treasures, he becomes the target of sinister figures from his past.

In order to survive, Will must join a traveling circus, enlisting the aid of Mr. Dorian, the ringmaster and leader of the troupe, and Maren, a girl his age who is an expert escape artist. With villains fast on their heels, can Will and Maren reach Will’s father and save The Boundless before someone winds up dead

Review:

It seems that Simon & Schuster for Young Readers also saw that we need more thrillers for middle grade readers, which is really exciting. I love it when a publisher sees an opening and finds truly wonderful books. This thriller also adds a little fantasy with mythical creatures that are awesome.

This book is a step above others because it also shows a young man from being poor to being more wealthy. The majority of the book takes place on a train after the family has become wealthy. It really works because he goes from the comfort of first class all the way to the very back, where people are getting taken advantage of when they already have so little. Since he has been in that situation, it shows compassionate and realistic look at the wealth disparity that was present in this time period and also goes on today. Of course, that wasn’t the point of the book, it is just something that Oppel showed incredibly well.

The point of this book is for Will to get to his father before everyone on the train dies. Those are pretty high stakes and the action in the book really makes it work. I feared for Will’s life several times and was eager to see how he would get out of the dangerous situations. Yet at the same time, you feel a little sorry for the bad characters because they have been worked hard all their lives for very little. Are there actions an appropriate response? Not really, but you can see why they are doing it, which always makes for a better villain.

My only issue with it was that there were a couple of slow parts that I had to push through and I had to suspend some disbelief a couple times. The train was supposed to be really long, but it didn’t seem to take Will enough time to get a great distance at times. It wasn’t enough to not recommend this book and it actually gets a 4.5 out of 5.

This is a fun and smart thriller appropriate for all ages of middle grade readers. I also think young adult readers would really enjoy this book too!

 

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