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Archive for October, 2014

Get Happy by Mary Amato

Posted by Caitie F on October 28, 2014

Title: Get Happy20697547
Author: Mary Amato
Hardcover: 256 pages
Pub Date: Oct 28, 2014
Publisher: EgmontUSA
Rating: +++++

Summary from pub:

In this poignant, realistic, contemporary YA, a young songwriter builds a substitute family with her friends in place of the broken family she grew up with.

A hip high school girl who loves music, writes songs, and is desperate for a ukelele, learns to her shock that her father did not abandon her years ago and has been trying to keep in touch. She begins to investigate him, only to discover that he has a new life with a new family, including the perfect stepdaughter, a girl who Minerva despises

Review:

If you are looking for a book that will fill you with happiness, read this book!

It made me smile. It made me swoon. It made me really want to write a song and play a guitar – or even a ukulele. But it isn’t just a quick, fun and mindless read. There are major issues with her family that feel so authentic that I actually called and thanked my parents for being so awesome when I was growing up after I finished.

There is so much I loved about this. The job that they get is incredible. She and her best friend start working at a company that does parties for kids. They have costumes and have to get the kids through games. Minerva gets stuck with the mermaid (who is NOT Ariel) and it is really funny. It feels like a real first job experience.

Her friendship with Fin is also fantastic. He completely felt like a teenager. I had a couple of friends in high school that were a lot like him and Amato just got that voice. They both screw up sometimes and that makes the friendship so much better because no one is always a perfect friend, especially when you are a teen.

These characters are all smart, kind, and really funny. This book was a complete joy to read. I highly recommend it to anyone who loves YA.

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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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