Monday, December 30, 2013

Seriously Series Reading Challenge 2014



The Seriously Series Reading Challenge is hosted by Kelly at Reading the Paranormal and you can sign up at this link. I am going to try for Semi-Serious in all categories.


series started before 2014 series started in 2014 series rereads
Semi-Serious 1-6 series 1-6 1-6
Seriously Serious 7-12 7-12 7-12
Super Seriously Serious 13-18 13-18 13-18
Seriously Spectacular Series Star 18+ 18+ 18+
FYI, reading novellas and short stories from a series does count here -- if you want it to!
I hope to reread the The Kane Chronicles by Riordan and the Lemony Snicket Series of Unfortunate Events. I am going to reread the Alchemyst series by Michael Scott, but I already reread the first book this year, so I don't know if I can count that series for this challenge. For the series started before 2014, I would like to finish the Iron Fey series by Kagawa, the Infernal Devices series by Cassandra Clare, the Heroes of Olympus series by Riordan, and the Legend trilogy by Lu. I am not for sure what series I  will start in 2014 and I will probably add more choices to the other two categories.
I will keep track of my progress here.

Sunday, December 29, 2013

My Best Books of 2013

I had several favorites this year and several more books I wish I could have read this year! I still hope to finish a book or two before Wednesday, but I don't think they will beat my current picks.

My favorite book of 2013 was Prodigy by Marie Lu!

Favorite Stand-alones
1. Chaos of Stars by Kiersten White
The Chaos of Stars
HarperTeen

I loved her Paranormalcy series and her Mind Games series is great too! In Chaos of Stars I loved her take on Egyptian mythology and what life would be like for a mortal child with immortal parents. I loved the character of Isadora and her angry vulnerability. Obviously with the number of quotes in my review, you can tell I loved this book!

2. Towering by Alex Flinn
Towering
HarperTeen

I love Flinn's retellings and this one based on Rapunzel was beautiful! I love how she twisted the use of rampion in the story and how she played with the idea of villains. I used this as part of Classic Double Challenge and my review is here.

3. Monstrous Beauty by Elizabeth Fama
Monstrous Beauty
Farrar, Staus, Giroux


A dark twist on mermaid lore, this was a read I really didn't think I would like. It was a Random Read choice and despite its darkness, I loved it. The twists with ghosts, history, and love were breathtaking at times. My review is here.

Favorite Junior Fiction: I limited this to one book and I realize I need to read more junior fiction or middle grades fiction as most people call it.

1. Jinx by Sage Blackwood
Jinx
HarperCollins

This was my January Random Read choice and one of the first books I read in 2013. I loved the dry humor and the way good and evil was presented. Blackwood's writing style sucks you in and I hope to read the second book in the series early in January! My review is here.

Favorite Adult Fiction read:

1. Cuckoo's Calling by Robert Galbraith
The Cuckoo's Calling (Cormoran Strike, #1)
Mulholland Books


I picked this up because it is JK Rowling, but even if it wasn't written by her, it would still be my favorite adult read. Strike and Robin are interesting and likeable characters and they mystery reminded me of Agatha Christie with a bit more language. Reviewed here.

Favorite YA reads:

1. Earthbound by Aprilynne Pike
Earthbound (Earthbound, #1)
Razorbill

The characters were great and I liked that you don't know who can be trusted, even at the end of the book. I like how she played with mythology and the idea of a fallen goddess. I enjoyed her Wings series, but I think this series will be even better. Reviewed here.

2. Hero by Althea Kontis
Hero (Woodcutter Sisters #2)
Harcourt


This had one of my favorite characters, Sunday! She is brave, not very girly, and extremely stubborn. I love that this was a damsel saves boy story and I can't wait until the next in the series! I reviewed it here.

3. Looking for Alaska by John Green
Looking for Alaska
Speak

Wow, his books are deep and unfortunately leave me with severe book hangover. He is a great author with complex and flawed characters. I love the quirky male characters and wish the girls had a bit more depth to them. However what they lack in depth, they make up for with their flaws. I am definitely going to read Fault in Our Stars next year, because I want to meet Hazel. Reviewed here.

Favorite Series books:

1. Prodigy by Marie Lu
Prodigy (Legend, #2)
Putnam


I literally gasped at the end of this book. The end quotes are beautiful and June and Day could not be better characters. I will be tackling Champion in January for sure and can't believe I haven't got to it yet! Review here.

2. House of Hades by Rick Riordan
The House of Hades (The Heroes of Olympus, #4)
Hyperion Books

I think as long as he writes a book a year, he will always be on my list. This one seemed to have a bit more controversy than the others at least for some of the library patrons. I love the way he uses mythology and the characters he creates. I am glad he showed the flaws his heroes have in this book and I was glad to see Piper and Frank embracing their strengths. Reviewed here.

3. Girl with the Iron Touch by Kady Cross
The Girl with the Iron Touch (The Steampunk Chronicles, #3)
Harlequin Teen

I look forward to each Steampunk Chronicles book and am really attached to the characters. I love that there are some really strong female characters in this series! Reviewed here.




Friday, December 27, 2013

Looking for Alaska by John Green

Looking for Alaska
This book has been on my shelf for at least 5 years, possibly more. I was lucky enough to meet John at the McConnell Conference and have this book signed, but still I let it sit for another 3 years. I finally read it and of course loved it and have waited almost a month to sit down and write the review. I am not for sure what is wrong with me, but finally I am going to review it. I usually have to sit awhile and think after reading one of Green's books, because they are very deep and there is so much to deliberate about.

Miles is tired of his mundane high school experience and is excited to try life at a boarding school, a school his father attended and remembers with fondness. Miles loves last lines, words that people speak with their dying breaths and loves reading biographies. He is particularly attracted to the idea of a "Great Perhaps," that we should find the path that leads to our destiny and not regret a thing. For Miles, one great perhaps is Alaska. Alaska, along with Takumi, the Colonel, and Lara, are friends Miles makes at boarding school, but more importantly they are the ones who help him truly live. When the unthinkable happens, Miles and his friends must learn to live with their mistakes, but also learn that life goes on even in the face of loss.

Wow is about all I can say about this book. It was heartbreaking and wonderful and breaks you and rebuilds you within its 200 or so pages. I read this almost entirely in one sitting and felt a little lost when I finished it. I love that he divided the book into a before and after and that although the characters are shattered, there is still hope. I am trying to write this review without spoilers and it is very difficult, but that is about all I can say without getting into spoilers.

Favorite Character: Probably Takumi, he is a caring character and even though he also messes up in the story, he seems to be the one who genuinely cares about the rest of them. I love all of the flawed characters in the book and you can't help but love them, even when it is hard to like them.

Favorite Quotes: Wow, this is an extremely hard one. I could just put almost the entire book in quotes and be done with it, but I will try to pick.
"If only we could see the endless string of consequences that result from our smallest actions. But we can't know better until knowing better is useless."
"But that part of us greater than the sum of our parts cannot begin and cannot end, and so it cannot fail."

This book makes you think about so many things, life, death, growth, mistakes, and forgiveness. It speaks to both teens and adults, because it is fairly true to life and loss. 5 cups of cocoa!

Thursday, December 26, 2013

Along for the Ride by Sarah Dessen

 Along for the Ride
I read this to discuss with my high school book group and only two of us finished it. :( The girls did tell me they prefer fantasy/sci-fi, so I have ordered The Adoration of Jenna Fox for the next meeting. I am just excited that they want to meet at the library and discuss books, since I have a difficult time getting teens to come to programs for them. They are great volunteer helpers though. I really enjoyed my first Sarah Dessen book and I am glad I finally picked one up to read.

Auden has spent her whole life preparing academically for the future. Her parents are divorced and her brother tends to flit through life with no plan in mind, something his parents admire about him. From Auden they expect perfection and for her to be a mature adult who will do whatever they want her to do. When her brother sends her a graduation gift of a picture frame with a picture of himself inside and the words Best of Times across the top, Auden realizes she hasn't had any best of times. She decides to go visit her father, step-mother Heidi, and newborn half-sister Thisbe at their beach house in the hopes of having a fun summer. She comes into the situation feeling like she is superior to everyone, but as days go on, she realizes she has never truly lived. She meets Eli who is trying to cope with the death of his best friend and he teaches her how to be a child and how to create the best of times that she has missed. Along the way, she realizes life is not always serious and you have to risk failing to truly live.

I loved the family dynamics in the book and the various friendships in the book. The girls who work for Heidi are great and are very accepting of Auden. I love how the book revolves around the shops, particularly the Gas/Gro, and how the group makes their snack purchasing decisions. This would be the perfect summer read and it was still good as a winter read.

Favorite Character: I loved Maggie, who becomes Auden's best friend by the end of the book. Maggie is fearless, but loving. She is smart, but also able to talk endlessly about fashion. Like Auden, you judge her one way at the beginning of the story, but like Auden, you realize who she really is by the end of the book.

Favorite Quotes: "You're supposed to fail sometimes. It's a required part of the human existence."
"Failing sucks. But it's better than the alternative. Which is? Not even trying."

I really enjoyed this story! It was cute, but in certain ways also deep. 4.5 cups of cocoa!

Monday, December 23, 2013

End of the Year Read-a-thon Wrapup



I finished 3 books, Call Me Mrs. Miracle, Along for the Ride, and The Alchemyst and completed 5 mini-challenges. My total pages read was 1132 pages which is great for me! Overall not a bad read-a-thon. I still have several books I need to read before the end of the year, but this was a good start. Thanks to Dana and Jen for hosting!

Sunday, December 22, 2013

Mrs. Miracle and Call Me Mrs. Miracle by Debbie Macomber

I read both of these for the Christmas Spirit Reading Challenge. I have seen both of the movies and loved them, so I wanted to give the books a try. These are also the first Debbie Macomber books I have read, so I used Mrs. Miracle as a New Author read.

In Mrs. Miracle, we are introduced to Seth, a single dad who is raising twin boys. Seth is a widower who has closed his heart to love and rarely talks to his boys about their mother. The other main character is Reba, who was betrayed by her sister and refuses to forgive her. In order to remind these two about the beauty of Christmas, Mrs. Emily Merkle appears as a nanny for the twins. Mrs. Miracle as the boys call her works to try to bring Seth and Reba together and to remind them of the power of family and love. Mrs. Miracle also works to bring together Seth's in-laws whose marriage has crumbled since the death of their daughter. Can Mrs. Miracle work her magic and bring the couples together?

In Call Me Mrs. Miracle, Jake is the heir of Finley's department store and currently running the toy department. He wants to make his father proud and makes a risky purchase for the store. He is going to need a miracle to sell 500 robots before Christmas and of course his miracle is Mrs. Miracle. Jake and his father also need help remembering the joy of Christmas, since they have avoided it after the death of Jake's mother and sister. Holly is trying to raise her nephew, Gabe, while his father is fighting in Afghanistan and works under a demanding boss who desperately wants to be loved herself. Gabe's one desire for Christmas is one of the expensive robots that Jake has in his department store. Can Mrs. Miracle bring Jake and Holly together and give Gabe the greatest present of all?

Favorite Quote: "To forgive is to set the prisoner free and then to discover the prisoner was you. Mrs. Miracle"

Both stories are heartwarming and simple stories of Christmas joy. Mrs. Miracle shows the value of forgiveness and how hate can ruin our lives. Call Me Mrs. Miracle shows how a little faith and love can make all the difference. They are the perfect way to get into the Christmas spirit and great, quick and easy reads. I think Mrs. Miracle was my favorite of the two, because you could not help rooting for Seth and Reba to open their hearts again. Mrs. Emily Merkle (Miracle) is a great character and I hope Debbie Macomber writes more of her stories! 4 cups of cocoa for both!

Friday, December 20, 2013

End of the Year Read-a-thon Update: Day 12-14



Day 12:
Currently reading:  Call Me Mrs. Miracle, Don't Judge a Girl by Her Cover, Scarlet
Pages read: Call Me Mrs. Miracle- 85 pages and finished!, Don't Judge a Girl by Her Cover- 35 pages, Scarlet- 4 pages
Books finished: 3

Day 13:
Currently reading: Don't Judge a Girl by Her Cover, Queste, Scarlet
Pages read: Don't Judge a Girl by Her Cover- 18 pages, Queste- 55 pages, Scarlet- 6 pages

Day 14:
Currently reading: Queste, Forest of Hands and Teeth, Splintered
Pages read: Queste- 12 pages, Forest of Hands and Teeth- 36 pages, Splintered- 22 pages

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

End of the Year Read-a-thon Mini-challenges

 

Spine Poetry: Hosted by Lori @ Writing My Own FairyTale
You must use book spines to make a poem and you can only use books that you read in 2013.You can include as many extra words in your poem as books that you use.
 
Here is my poem:
Full Moon Kisses
Dirty Little Secrets
The Art of Wishing
Beauty Sleep

Seasonal Challenge: Hosted by Michelle @ Book Briefs
Recommend a book good for a snow day
 
I had to read this for one of my history classes about writing a narrative and how we use "evidence" and sources. I loved the storytelling in it along with the lessons I learned.
 
Recommend a book good for a rainy day
 The Lightning Thief (Percy Jackson and the Olympians, #1)
One of my all time favorites. It reminds me of a slightly stormy day.
 
Recommend a book good for a beach day
 Austenland (Austenland, #1)
It is just a nice and quick read, perfect for the beach!
 
Recommend a book good for a spooky night
I Hunt Killers (Jasper Dent, #1)
One of the most terrifying books I have ever read! I don't like horror or serial killer books and this one gave me lots of nightmares, but this one hooks you.


Song Challenge: Hosted by Tanya @ BookLovingHippo

I am going to pick Hero by Althea Kontis and the song Roar by Katy Perry. Sunday seems to think she is the only one not special in her family and that she has ruined everything at the beginning of the story, but she becomes the hero she is meant to be.


End of the Year Read-a-thon Update: Day 8-11



Day 8:
Currently reading: Along for the Ride
Pages read: Along for the Ride- 84 pages

Day 9:
Currently reading: Along for the Ride, Queste
Pages read: Along for the Ride- 22 pages, Queste- 35 pages

Day 10:
Currently reading: Along for the Ride, Queste
Pages read: Along for the Ride- 42 pages, Queste- 30 pages

Day 11:
Currently reading: Along for the Ride, Don't Judge a Girl by Her Cover
Pages read: Along for the Ride- 35 pages and finished!, Don't Judge a Girl by Her Cover- 18 pages
Books finished: 2

Monday, December 16, 2013

End of the Year Read-a-thon Update: Day 7 and Week one



Day 7: I did not read at all, but did finish a short review of Pride and Prejudice. December 15 is our anniversary, so I spent time with my husband. We went to a Christmas concert and went shopping, since Christmas is only 10 days away (now just 9)!

Week one: I am proud of my first week, even though I have only finished one book and it was a reread. I read 593 pages so far and finished two mini-challenges. I plan on making a mini-challenge post tomorrow and completing a few more challenges.

I have to read Along for the Ride by Friday, since that is the high school book club book. I really like it so far, so I don't think that will be a problem. I am over halfway through Call Me Mrs. Miracle, so I feel like I will finish that by the weekend too. I just can't seem to get fully involved in any book right now, so I am just hoping that one of the books on my TBR pile will steal my attention and keep it. Hope everyone else is having a great reading time!

Sunday, December 15, 2013

Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen- short review

I don't think there is much I can add about the storyline or even reviewing the book, since everyone in the world has read it. I can finally say I have read it too! I love the movies and the mini-series and I am surprised I waited this long to read it. It was absolutely wonderful! I love how well the BBC mini-series with Colin Firth matched this story and I love the 2005 version with Kiera Knightly too.

Jane Austen's satire on her time and the way men and women in a well-to-do country society behaves is a classic for good reason. You can't help falling in love with the characters and wanting them to triumph in love.

Favorite Character: Jane, she is so sweet and loving and never has a harsh word for anyone. However like most people I identify more with Elizabeth and her snarkiness and pride in herself. 
Favorite Quotes: "I cannot fix on the hour, or the spot, or the look, or the words, which laid the foundation. It is too long ago. I was in the middle before I knew that I had begun." This is the perfect description of falling in love and staying there.
"Till this moment, I never knew myself." I just love this line and have felt this way on a number of occasions!

This is of course a 5 cups of cocoa book! This is definitely in the top 10 of my favorite reads ever and I can't believe it took me this long to pick it up and read!

Friday, December 13, 2013

End of the Year Read-a-thon Update post: Day 4-6




Day 4 update:
Currently reading: The Alchemyst, Along for the Ride
Pages read:  The Alchemyst- 92 pages, Along for the Ride- 30 pages

Day 5 update:
Currently reading: The Alchemyst
Pages read:  The Alchemyst- 64 pages

Day 6 update:
Currently reading: The Alchemyst, Call Me Mrs. Miracle, The Forest of Hands and Teeth, Along for the Ride
Pages read:  The Alchemyst- 25 pages and finished!, Call Me Mrs. Miracle- 160 pages, TFHT- 20 pages, Along for the Ride- 40 pages
Books finished: 1

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

End of the Year Read-a-thon Update post: Day 1-3



End of the Year Reading Cram Read-a-thon is hosted by Juliababyjen's Reading Room and DanaSquare.

Day 1 update:
Currently reading: Champion, The Alchemyst
Pages read: Champion- 15 pages, The Alchemyst- 64 pages
Mini-challenge: TBR pile

Day 2 update:
Currently reading: The Alchemyst
Pages read:  The Alchemyst- 25 pages

Mini-challenge: Post two teaser sentences from a book you are reading:

We're inside a tree. Do you think it could still be alive?
The Alchemyst page 128

Day 3 update:
Currently reading: The Alchemyst
Pages read:  The Alchemyst- 58 pages

Monday, December 9, 2013

End of the Year Reading Cram Read-a-thon TBR and Goals



End of the Year Reading Cram Read-a-thon is hosted by Juliababyjen's Reading Room and DanaSquare.

This is my TBR for the reading challenge:

The Forest of Hands and Teeth by Carrie Ryan
Along for the Ride by Sarah Dessen
Wanderlove by Kirsten Hubbard
The Alchemyst by Michael Scott (reread)
Call Me Mrs. Miracle by Debbie Macomber
Splintered by A.G. Howard
Champion by Marie Lu
Clockwork Princess by Cassandra Clare
Don't Judge a Girl by Her Cover by Ally Carter
Iron Queen by Julie Kagawa
Daughter of Smoke and Bone by Laini Taylor
The Calling by Kelley Armstrong
Scarlet by A.C. Gaughen
Fault in Our Stars by John Green

I would like to finish 6 of these books, but I would be happy with at least 4. If I could finish them all, then I would complete all of my challenges for the year. Good luck to everyone and thanks to Jen and Dana for hosting!


Sunday, December 8, 2013

The I Haven't Reached my Reading Challenge Goals Yet! Wrapup

read-a-thon2

I was able to finish two books: Looking for Alaska and Pride and Prejudice, so I am happy with that! I read a total of 403 pages, since my copy of Pride and Prejudice was huge with small writing the page total seems low, but I will take it! I hope everyone met their goals and thanks to Debz for hosting!

Thursday, December 5, 2013

End of the Year Reading Cram Read-a-thon Signup




End of the Year Reading Cram Read-a-thon is hosted by Juliababyjen's Reading Room and DanaSquare and it is a fun way to try to conquer your TBR pile or mountain if you are like me. This will run from December 9 through 22nd. They will have challenges and loads of encouragement!

I will post my reading list soon and goals very soon!

Monday, December 2, 2013

The I Haven't Reached My Reading Challenge Goals Yet! Update post

read-a-thon2
Updates:

Day 1:
Currently reading: Champion, Wanderlove, and Looking for Alaska
Pages read: Champion- 34 pages, Wanderlove- 10 pages, Looking for Alaska- 205 pages and finished!
Books finished: 1 Looking for Alaska

I had trouble finding a book that would total keep my attention, but finally Looking for Alaska got me hooked. The first half I had trouble getting into it, but the After half was really good and so I had to finish it last night.

Day 2:
Currently reading: Pride and Prejudice
Pages read: Pride and Prejudice- 28 pages

Day 3:
Currently reading: Pride and Prejudice
Pages read: Pride and Prejudice- 5 pages

Day 4:
Currently reading: Pride and Prejudice
Pages read: Pride and Prejudice- 34 pages

Day 5:
Currently reading: Pride and Prejudice
Pages read: Pride and Prejudice- 30 pages

Day 6:
Currently reading: Pride and Prejudice
Pages read: Pride and Prejudice- 37 pages and finished!

Day 7
Currently reading:The Alchemyst
Pages read: The Alchemyst- 20 pages

Sunday, December 1, 2013

The I Haven't Reached My Reading Challenge Goals Yet! Read-a-thon Starting Line

read-a-thon2


This read-a-thon is hosted by Debz at Debz Bookshelf. The goal is to read books for the book challenges of 2013. I don't even know where to start. I have two books still to read for the Paranormal Challenge, my demon and zombie books. I need to read three new authors to reach my goal of 15 authors for the New Author challenge. I only need one more book for the Dusty Bookshelf Challenge and like 14 more books for a coverall on the Book Bingo Challenge. So just a little reading left. ;)

My reading stack from which I will choose books this week:

Wanderlove by Kirsten Hubbard- New Author and Book Bingo Challenge/ everyone else has read
The Alchemyst by Michael Scott- Book Bingo/ reread
Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen- Book Bingo/ everybody else
Along for the Ride by Sarah Dessen- New Author and Book Bingo/ everybody else
Splintered by A.G. Howard-New Author and Book Bingo/series
Champion by Marie Lu-Book Bingo/series
Looking for Alaska by John Green-Dusty Bookshelf and Book Bingo/everybody else
The Forest of Hands and Teeth by Carrie Ryan-New Author, Paranormal/Zombies and Book Bingo/ everybody else
Don't Judge a Girl by her Cover by Ally Carter- Book Bingo/ TBR
The Calling by Kelley Armstrong- Book Bingo/TBR
Clockwork Princess by Cassandra Clare- Paranormal/ Demons



Now all I have to do is choose a book to start reading. I hope to finish two books this week and I would love to complete one of these challenges. Have you read any of these or any that you recommend I start right away? Good luck to everyone!

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

2013 Christmas Spirit Reading Challenge



This reading challenge is hosted by Michelle @ True Book Addict on the Christmas Spirit Blog. The goal is to read Christmas themed books and there are different categories. You can sign up at this link.
I am trying for the Mistletoe category of 2-4 books. I know Mrs. Miracle will be one of the books and I haven't decide yet on any others. If I like Debbie Macomber, I may read another one of her books for the challenge. I am also going to do the Fa La La La Films, because my husband loves Christmas movies and we will be watching a bunch of them, starting with Miracle on 34th Street, which we watch Thanksgiving night. Thanks to Michelle for hosting!

Books read:
Mrs. Miracle by Debbie Macomber

Movies:
Miracle on 34th Street
Elf

Monday, November 25, 2013

Christmas Spirit Read-a-thon Wrapup



I was able to finish my reread of Legend by Marie Lu just in time for the booktalk today! I read 267 pages. I did not get to start Mrs. Miracle yet, but maybe this week. I also need to post a signup post for the Christmas Spirit Reading Challenge, which I can hopefully do tomorrow, since I work a 10 hour day today and will not have any time. Thanks to Michelle for hosting!

Sunday, November 24, 2013

The I Haven't Reached My Reading Goals Yet! Read-a-thon Signup

read-a-thon2

This read-a-thon is hosted by Debz at Debz Bookshelf. The goal is to read books for the book challenges of 2013. I have several challenges I need to finish including the New Authors Challenge, Paranormal Reading Challenge, Dusty Bookshelf, and Book Bingo. I am working on a few titles this week, so I will update this post with a reading list hopefully on Saturday. You can signup at this link. Good luck to everyone and thanks to Debz for hosting!


Friday, November 22, 2013

Monster Read-a-thon and Review-a-thon Wrapup


thon

I managed to review 3 books and realized I actually had reviewed Dirty Little Secrets the first time I read it, so I reviewed all my backlogged books! I read 699 pages and finished Unstoppable and Dirty Little Secrets. I also managed to finish Midnight in Austenland shortly after the end of the read-a-thon, so I reviewed Shelter, Midnight in Austenland, and Unstoppable. I should be ready for my booktalks on Monday! Thanks to The Book Monsters for hosting!

Shelter by Harlan Coben

This is another one of my reads for the March Madness booktalks. This is book one in Coben's Mickey Bolitar series. I have not read any of his Myron Bolitar books, but I know Mickey is mentioned in Live Wire.

Mickey Bolitar is still reeling from the death of his father and from his mother's drug addiction and only wants a little normalcy. Unfortunately for Mickey, his life is complicated. He is forced to live with his uncle who spent the last fifteen years, Mickey's whole life, ignoring Mickey's father. Mickey starts a new school and thinks he has found a nice, sweet girlfriend, but then Ashley vanishes, leaving Mickey stunned. Driven to find her, Mickey searches for clues and believes the Bat Lady may have the answers he needs. When the Bat Lady yells at him that his father is still alive, Mickey will risk everything to find out the truth. Joined with by Spoon and Ema, who are outcasts, Mickey will have to spy in a strip club, face down a notorious war criminal, and risk his life if he wants to find Ashley and some answers.

Even though they visit a strip club, called a "go-go dance club," the book still would fit for ninth grade. There was enough action and suspense to make this a quick read, but it does seem written for a lower level. I liked the characters, although the bullies seemed a little too one dimensional and cliche. Mickey's friends are funny and endearing and his uncle seems to be someone Mickey can rely on. The ending was sort of a cliff-hanger, but most of the story-lines seemed to come to a close.

Favorite Character: Mickey. He is very loyal, almost too much so. He is both tough and in need of some guidance.

Favorite Quote: "The court is my escape and my paradise." The section about how basketball is his escape was really well-written.

I did like most of the characters and this was a fairly quick read. I do want to read the sequel, but it may be awhile before I pick it up. I also want to try to read one of the Myron Bolitar books. 3.5 cups of cocoa.

Christmas Spirit Signup and Starting Line




This is a read-a-thon hosted by Michelle at Seasons of Reading...Christmas! You do not have to read Christmas related books for the read-a-thon, but you do for the Christmas Spirit Reading Challenge.
I am just now signing up, but I am also going to make this my starting line post. I have to reread Legend by Marie Lu this weekend, because I have to booktalk it Monday at the high school. I am mainly worried I will reveal too much, since I have already read Prodigy. I did stop myself from reading Champion until after the booktalk. If I finish Legend, I may start Mrs. Miracle by Debbie Macomber. Thanks to Michelle for hosting!

Read pages 38-305 in Legend and finished it!

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Unstoppable by Tim Green

This is one of my books for our March Madness booktalk event I am doing with our local high school librarian. I usually don't pick up sports stories, but this was a good, quick read.

Harrison's life has always been hard. His mom is an addict and he has been through 6 different foster families. When his mother misses a hearing about his future, Harrison is forced into an adoption with a vicious foster parent. When a tragic accident occurs, Harrison flees fearing he will be in trouble, but out of his trouble comes a ray of hope. The social worker recognizes he is not a troublemaker, only someone who has lived a hard life. She sends the boy to live with her own daughter, who is a lawyer, and his husband, a football coach. Coach sees Harrison's potential and introduces him to football. Harrison excels in the sport, begins a romance with the local doctor's daughter, and makes a true friend. After an injury, Harrison is facing a diagnosis that may be too much to bear. Is he truly unstoppable?

This book was based on the author's own experiences with his wife's cancer. Green is a veteran football player turned sports author and he knows how to capture the sport. At times though Harrison faces so much that it seems just a little unreal.

Favorite Character: Justin. He is a real friend to Harrison and even though he faces his own demons, he remains a good and loyal person.

Favorite Quote: "Believe in the incredible and you can achieve the impossible."

This would be a great read for reluctant male readers and I think some of the teen boys will want to pick this as their March Madness choice. It is a quick and easy read, but full of action. 3.5 cups of cocoa.

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Midnight in Austenland by Shannon Hale

I read this for my Free Square for Book Bingo. It was suggested to me, because I read Austenland. I love Shannon Hale's novels and this one was just as good as the first book. You could read this one and not have read Austenland, because the stories only slightly connect.

Charlotte has been dumped by her husband who had been cheating on her for months, but Charlotte is nice, so she bottles up all her emotions and does not fight back. She is also an overprotective mother who basically stalks her daughter's boyfriend, because she is afraid that all men are terrible. With all this self-doubt and for her children, Charlotte decides to take a vacation. Since she just read all of Austen's collected works, she decides on England and her travel agent sets her up with an extra special vacation at Austenland. This Austen-themed park is right up Charlotte's alley and she is paired with the brooding Mr. Mallery and she is given a brother in the sweet Edmund Grey. What really peaks Charlotte's interest is a murder mystery that just may be real. Part Agatha Christie and part Austen, Hale creates a heroine who is just recognizing her strength and gives her the perfect setting.

I loved the romance and mystery in this one! It really felt like she had captured some of the Christie mystery style with the subtle romance of Austen. I love reading Christie's novels and I loved the one Jane Austen I read, so this was a great read for me. I feel like I should definitely read more Austen soon. I also loved that Charlotte remained nice, but finally learned to express healthy anger and pride.

Favorite Character: Charlotte. As corny as it sounds, she really grew throughout the story, but maintained her goodness. She is meek and nice at the beginning and by the end she knows proper boundaries and reactions. She can be nice without being a doormat.

Favorite Quote: "But how do you know if the ending is truly good for the characters unless you've traveled with them through every page?" I am bad about reading the ending and then the story and this quote really made me think about the wrongness of that.

I loved the story and Charlotte and I really hope Hale writes more of these! 5 cups of cocoa for sure!

Monster Review-a-thon

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So I didn't really drop off the face of the earth, but work has kicked my butt lately! We are so short-staffed and I end up doing most of my prep work for programs and school visits at home now, so little reading, reviewing, and blogging here. I do hope to review my 3 backlogged books, but I don't know if I will finish them all by Friday. My goal is to write at least one tonight and hopefully finish a couple on Friday. Hopefully I will be back posting a little more regularly very soon!

Sunday, November 10, 2013

Monster Read-a-thon Updates

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I will just include all my updates for this read-a-thon in one post.

Day 1:
Currently reading: Unstoppable, Along for the Ride
Pages read: Along for the Ride- 5 pages, Unstoppable- 238 pages

Day 2
Currently reading: Unstoppable, Along for the Ride, and Midnight in Austenland
Pages read: Unstoppable- 122 pages and finished!, Along for the Ride- 5 pages, Midnight in Austenland- 10 pages, Dirty Little Secrets- 112 pages

Day 3
Currently reading: Along for the Ride, Dirty Little Secrets, Midnight in Austenland
Pages read: Dirty Little Secrets- 112 and finished!, Along for the Ride- 18 pages, Midnight in Austenland- 39 pages

Day 4
Currently reading: Along for the Ride
Pages read: Along for the Ride- 4 pages

Day 5
Currently reading: Didn't read my books at all today :(
Pages read: None :(, too many household chores, sigh

Day 6
Currently reading: Midnight in Austenland
Pages read:Midnight in Austenland- 21 pages

Day 7
Currently reading: Midnight in Austenland
Pages read: Midnight in Austenland- 13 pages

Saturday, November 9, 2013

The Monster Read-a-thon

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This is hosted by Kate and Kristen @ Book Monsters. Since I am not doing so great with my reading lately, I think it is definitely time for another read-a-thon! As far as the reviewing goes, we will see if I can actually finish some books. Since I am doing booktalks with the high school librarian next month and we really need to decide on books, I will be focusing at least the first part of the week on these. We are going to do a March Madness reading challenge and present our "teams," aka books and characters. Books may come and go, if I realize they are not going to work, but for now this is the list:

For booktalks:
Unstoppable by Tim Green-finished!
Along for the Ride by Sarah Dessen
Dirty Little Secrets by CJ Omololu- reread and finished!

For fun:
Midnight in Austenland by Shannon Hale
Splintered by A. G. Howard
Champion by Marie Lu

I also realize it is November and I need to finish up some of  year-long challenges. I still have to find several Everybody has read this, but you books and a few new authors. Good luck everyone with the reading and thanks to Book Monsters for hosting. I will do an update post soon!

Friday, November 1, 2013

R.I.P. VIII Wrap-up

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This challenge is hosted by Carl at Stainless Steel Droppings and runs from September 1 through October 31. I was able to finish four book, well five if you count House of Hades. Even though these books would probably not creep out anyone else, they were as scary and/or suspense as I can stand!
1. Always a Witch by Colleen MacCullough
2. Ocean at the End of the Lane by Neil Gaiman
3. Teacher's Pest by Charles Gilman
4. Something Borrowed, Someone Dead by MC Beaton- no review
5. House of Hades by Rick Riordan

I also read all of the short stories by Poe that are in the Nevermore Poe Collection. I had never read William Wilson before and it had Poe's usual twisted ending. I still like Tell-Tale Heart the best, because the guy just had to tell what he did. This collection also included the Raven, which is one of my favorite poems, perfectly sad and creepy! Thanks to Carl for hosting and I hope to do this again next year!

House of Hades by Rick Riordan

This is the fourth book in the Lost Heroes of Olympus series, so this review will definitely have spoilers for the first three books. It will also have spoilers for the Percy Jackson and the Olympians series, which should be read before the Lost Heroes of Olympus series.


While Percy and Annabeth are suffering their way through Tartarus, the rest of the crew of the Argo II are trying to make their way to the House of Hades, a temple dedicated to Hades that just so happens to also link to the Doors of Death. For Percy and Annabeth to survive, they will have to make their way to the Doors and to stop the monsters from regenerating they will also have to shut the Doors after they have made it inside. A seemingly impossible task, but some beings from the past could be their way to survive or their worst nightmare. Percy must face that he is not the completely nice and unselfish guy that he thought he was and Annabeth must face that she cannot always be the one to control her own destiny. Leo will have to make a difficult choice, love or duty, and Frank will have to embrace his destiny as a son of Mars/Ares. Hazel must learn to use the magic given to her by her mother's blood and Piper learns that to be a true warrior means to see her beauty as the weapon it is. Jason learns to let others lead and that being a true friend is sometimes the best remedy for someone with a broken heart. Poor Nico must reveal his unrequited love and hope for acceptance. The two demigod camps are heading to battle and Reyna must decide if she can trust the Greeks and just how much of herself she can sacrifice.  If the group can embrace their flaws they may survive the House of Hades and have a greater chance of saving the world from Gaea.

I think this book could also be entitled "Everybody Loves/Hates Percy." I won't reveal too much, but we do see Percy's main flaw, that he often forgets his friends once the immediate danger is over. He has forgotten Calypso, he forgets the titan Bob, and he finally has to face all those he has killed in a unique and painful way. Riordan makes the characters grow up in this one and that is why the publisher recommended age is a little higher on this one. If you didn't feel sorry for Nico before this book, you will at the end and that is all I will mention or I will give away a pretty big spoiler. I will say I love how the characters matured and dealt with the huge flaws that hang over their heads. This is a great penultimate book and I am kind of afraid of the last book in this series. I am hoping we do not have to say goodbye to anyone of the seven or Nico.

Favorite Character: Hmm, my favorite is kinda of a spoiler, but I won't reveal too much about the situation. Calypso captured my heart in the first series and she does again in this one. Life is so unfair for her. She supported her dad, but she has paid for the support she gave, just let her have someone! I love her transformation in this one and there are two scenes with her in this book that broke my heart! One is an indirectly related scene and the other is with her.

Favorite Quote: "Not giving people a second thought...that can be dangerous." This is pretty much the theme of the entire book, but it is true in life as well.


Riordan's books are always 5 cups of cocoa for me. His writing style is awesome and you grow attached to his characters. I can't believe I have to wait another year for the next and last one in this series!

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

The Ocean at the End of the Lane by Neil Gaiman

I read this for the R.I.P challenge and because Neil Gaiman's books tend to creep me out, in a good way. This was a short novel and a fairly quick read, but as usual it is a really deep read too.

The male protagonist returns to his old country neighborhood, because of a funeral. He goes to where his old house used to stand and walks down the road to the Hempstock farm. There he remembers an incident in his childhood, when magic and evil collided and he became friends with Lettie Hempstock. The boy starts the tale with the death of his kitten and the suicide of an opal miner. This leads him to meet the Hempstock women and to go on an adventure with Lettie that ends with an evil presence invading his life. To get rid of the evil, it will require a huge sacrifice and the boy will never be the same.

All of Gaiman's books have a deeper meaning to them. This seems to be about the magical Hempstock family, but it is also about the loss of innocence in childhood. It also seemed to me to be about memory and how we choose to remember things in our past. The man in his flashback remembers most of the story, but even that is clouded and he never remembers the story in the same way. You are always left breathless at the end of a Gaiman novel.

Favorite Character: Lettie and really any of the Hempstock women. Lettie is self-sacrificing, her grandmother is wise, and her mother is strong. What great heroines!

Favorite Quotes: "Different people remember things differently, and you'll not get any two people to remember anything the same, whether they were there or not. You stand two of you lot next to each other, and you could be continents away for all it means anything."

"You don't pass or fail at being a person, dear."

A quick deep read with just a touch of creepiness. 4 cups of cocoa!

Monday, October 21, 2013

Wonderfully Wicked Read-a-thon Wrap-up

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Wonderfully Wicked Read-a-Thon is hosted by My Shelf Confessions. I did meet my goals. I finished both Something Borrowed, Someone Dead and House of Hades and hope to review House of Hades soon. I did manage to review two books I read awhile back, so that was good too. I did not interact all that much with people though, I only made a few comments and found two new blogs to follow, because I had a really busy week at work and did not have computer access for a couple of those days. I completed two mini-challenges, which were super fun. Thanks again to My Shelf Confessions for hosting! I hope everyone else had a great reading week!

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Chaos of Stars by Kiersten White

I feel very ashamed that I am just now writing this review. I read this about a month ago and loved it and had so many thoughts about it, but I am just now writing this review. I think part of the issue is that I was still grieving the cat and this book has many deep thoughts on the subject of death. Now it is not a sad book at all, but I think Isadora goes through the different stages that people do when they contemplate death. She is mad and angry most of the time, in denial some of the time, and numb part of the time, but she finally reaches acceptance in the end.

I received this as an eARC on Edelweiss from HarperTeen in exchange for an honest review. I love the cover!
 The Chaos of Stars

Isadora is the daughter of Isis and Osiris. As a child of gods, she assumes she is immortal too, so when her parents inform her she is working on designing her own tomb, she realizes just how impermanent her existence is. She is angry at her mom for loving Whore-us as she calls Horus, immortal, but leaving the rest of her children as mortal. When she finds out her mother is pregnant, she feels really abandoned. When her mother senses a dark presence that could destroy Isadora and Isis, Isis sends her to live with her brother in California. California is very different than Egypt, but Isadora makes some good friends Tyler and Scott and meets a boy, Ry, who could be the love of her life, if she will let him in. Can you truly love someone when you know life is not forever? Isadora learns to let go of forever to embrace today and she learns the importance of family.

The mix of Egyptian mythology with just a hint of other myths was well-done. I loved how Isadora told us the story of the gods and then showed how this was her family. Her snarkiness is great and she uses that to hide her vulnerability. White has the best humor mixed with the seriousness of worrying about the future. She knows how to present family troubles even in an immortal family with the realism of what teens feel and think.

Favorite Character: Isadora- She is angry, loyal, funny, and vulnerable in just the right combination. She may be one of my favorite characters ever. I think she is each one of us, when we realize for the first time that life is not permanent and we want to fight this even if it means being angry and numb. Ry/Orion is pretty great too and we all need a guy like that. :)

Favorite Quote: Well I think I could quote from every single page, I had so many aha moments and tears and feels as people say from this book. I will try to limit it to just a few favorites.

"But none of us is perfect, right? And if you love someone, you have to deal with that. If you ask me, love is what makes everything worth it."

"You can't really love someone romantically unless you're already whole anyway, though."

"I get that you're scared and that you've been hurt. But doing what is easy and safe is no way to live, and a life without passion and love is so far beneath what you deserve."

"I was thinking about framing, and how so much of what we think about our lives and our personal histories revolves around how we frame it. The lens we see it through, or the way we tell our own stories. We mythologize ourselves." "It's all a matter of perspective. And maybe we thought we were living one story, when if we look at it a little different, we can reframe everything-all our memories and attribute and experiences- and see that we're actually living a different story."

"I didn't fall in love with you. I walked into love with you, with my eyes wide open, choosing to take every step along the way. I do believe in fate and destiny, but I also believe we are only fated to do the things that we'd choose anyway. And I'd choose you; in a hundred lifetimes, in a hundred worlds, in any version of reality, I'd find you and I'd choose you."

With a dash of Egyptian myths, fear of death, and a touch of romance, White wove a story that captures your heart and is complete with a dreamy guy and strong heroine. This is my front runner for my favorite book of the year! 5 cups of cocoa!!

Sunday, October 13, 2013

Wonderfully Wicked Read-a-thon Starting Post/Updates

WWReadathon

Wonderfully Wicked Read-a-Thon is hosted by My Shelf Confessions. I am getting my starting post up late, because I was away at a friend's house most of the weekend and without a computer. I hope to finish at least two books this week and two Poe short stories.

October 11-Day 1 update:
Currently reading/listening: House of Hades
Pages/Percent/CDs: I listened to two CDs, which was around 133 pages

October 12- Day 2 update:
Currently reading/listening: House of Hades
Pages/Percent/CDs: I listened to two CDs, which was around 133 pages

Day 3 update:
Currently reading: House of Hades, Something Borrowed Someone Dead,
Pages/Percent:House of Hades- 8 pages, SBSD- 15 pages
Commented on three blogs, now following Daisy's Place

Day 4 update:
Currently reading: House of Hades, Something Borrowed Someone Dead
Pages/Percent:House of Hades- 1 and 1/2 CDs around 49 pages, SBSD-  122 pages
Commented on one blog, now following Listful Booking

Day 5 update:
Currently reading: House of Hades, Something Borrowed Someone Dead
Pages/Percent: House of Hades- 1 CD about 35 pages, SBSD- 51 pages and finished!
Books finished-1

Day 6 update:
Currently reading: House of Hades
Pages/Percent: House of Hades- 44 pages
Mini-challenges: Jigsaw Cover Love hosted by My Shelf Confessions, Wicked Title Trouble Challenge hosted by Melissa's Eclectic Bookshelf

Day 7 update:
Currently reading: House of Hades, Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children
Pages/Percent: House of Hades- 99 pages and finished!, Miss Peregrine's- 26 pages

Day 8 update:
Currently reading: Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children
Pages/Percent:Miss Peregrine's- 13 pages

Day 9 update:
Currently reading: Every Day, Just One Day, Gone Girl
Pages/Percent: Every Day- 6 pages, Just One Day- 16 pages, Gone Girl- 13 pages

Day 10 update:
Currently reading: Nevermore Poe Collection
Pages/Percent: William Wilson, Poem-Alone

Monday, October 7, 2013

Wonderfully Wicked Read-a-Thon

WWReadathon

Wonderfully Wicked Read-a-Thon is hosted by My Shelf Confessions and will start on October 11. Their read-a-thons are always a blast. You can read any books on your TBR, the point is just to read. They also host Twitter parties and mini-challenges. I will be picking a reading list very soon. I will not be reading much on October 11 and 12, although I will be listening to an audiobook those days since I have a three hour drive to a friend's house. I am hoping to be listening to House of Hades if it comes in at work before I leave on Friday.

Reading list:
Audio: House of Hades- I already have it from work and hope to start it soon!

Finish: Something Borrowed, Someone Dead by MC Beaton

Miss Peregrine's School for Home for Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs
Just One Day by Gayle Forman
Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell
Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn

Goals:
Read at least 2 more Poe short stories from Nevermore Poe Collection
Finish at least two books
Do a mini-challenge
Comment on a few blogs and find a few to follow

I may add a few different books to the list, but I will wait to see what kind of reading mood I am in.

FrightFall Read-a-thon Wrap-up




This challenge is hosted by Michelle @ The True Book Addict and Castle Macabre. I did read mainly "scary" books, well scary for me anyway. I did finish both Dream Dark and The Ocean at the End of the Lane. I also read Teacher's Pest by Charles Gilman and reviewed it. I still have to review The Ocean at the End of the Lane, hopefully I can get to that this week. I read 5 Poe short stories, so definitely reached my goal there. I read 381 pages total, so way more than the 250 pages goal I set. I was sick most of the week, so that is why I had a higher number of pages! I had lots of fun and thanks again to Michelle for hosting!

Sunday, October 6, 2013

Dealing with Dragons by Patricia Wrede

I read this for the Book Bingo Challenge, New Authors challenge, and for the Paranormal Challenge: dragons category.

Cimorene is an improper princess. She wants to learn Latin, magic, cooking, and fencing and does not want to learn embroidery and etiquette. She does not want to marry the prince picked out for her and instead of running from dragons, she goes out to find one. Cimorene becomes the princess of the dragon, Kazul and when knights and princes come to take her away, she asks them to leave. Through Kazul, she mets Morwen, a witch, and while exploring Cimorene also meets evil wizards. The wizards want something from the dragons and it is up to Cimorene to stop them, before it is too late.

I loved the characters in the story, particular Cimorene and Kazul. I like how both of the main leads were female and strong and independent. The story was a very quick read full of adventure and humor. I love how Cimorene's habits were referred to as not proper, because no one could really give her a reason for why princess could not do all the things she wanted to do.

Favorite Character: Cimorene was a great heroine. She takes the initiative to find the dragons to escape being forced to marry the prince. She does not shirk from danger or adventure. She does what is best for her friends and for herself.

Favorite Quote: "'He doesn't seem very impressed,' Cimorene commented in some amusement. 'Why should he be?' Kazul answered. 'Well, you're a dragon,' Cimorene answered a little taken aback. 'What difference does that make to a cat?'" I thought that was a fitting description of a cat's attitude to most large things, particularly humans.

This was a great quick read with a great heroine. This is perfect for upper elementary and lower middle school and for adults who like middle grades fiction. I can't wait to read the rest in the series. 5 cups of cocoa!

Stacking the Shelves # 8

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Stacking the Shelves is hosted by Tynga's Reviews and is a meme for sharing books you've purchased, borrowed, or been sent for review. They can be physical or e-format.
It has been a long time since I posted one of these! I went a few weeks without new books and so I thought I would wait until I had a few new things to share. I was also really sad about the cat, so little blogging, reading, and buying done in the last month.

Library:
Fangirl  Searching for Dragons (Enchanted Forest Chronicles, #2)  Don't Judge a Girl by Her Cover (Gallagher Girls, #3)

Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell ( I have seen nothing but positive reviews about this book, so I am excited to read it.)
Searching for Dragons by Patricia Wrede (I hope to review the first book really soon. It was a fun read with a strong heroine.)
Don't Judge a Girl by Her Cover by Ally Carter (I love both of her series and she is another one who creates really strong female leads.)


Bought:
 Confessions of a Prairie Bitch: How I Survived Nellie Oleson and Learned to Love Being Hated  My Own Mr. Darcy
Confessions of a Prairie...by Alison Arngrim (1.99 Amazon Kindle Monthly Deal) Even though it has one of my least favorite words in the title, I had to purchase this. I read Melissa Gilbert's biography and loved learning more about their lives on and off the set.

My Own Mr. Darcy by Karey White (I have seen this on several blogs with really good reviews, so I had to purchase it.)


Won:
Teardrop (Teardrop, #1)
Teardrops by Lauren Kate from Jen at YA Romantics. I loved the Fallen series, so I am super excited to receive this one! I participated in the Tackle Your TBR read-a-thon and Jen hosted a Book Pairing challenge, which was really fun. Thanks again Jen, you are awesome!

Review: Thanks to Harlequin Teen, Abrams, Entangled, Dial, Netgalley, and Edelweiss for these great books!

Pawn (The Blackcoat Rebellion, #1) The Iron Traitor (The Iron Fey: Call of the Forgotten, #2) Unhinged (Splintered, #2) Olivia Twisted What I Thought Was True

Pawn by Aimee Carter (Harlequin Teen) I loved the Goddess Test series and read them all as egalleys and read them all before they released, so I was super excited to see this one.
Iron Traitor by Julie Kagawa (Harlequin Teen) I am getting close to the end of the Iron Fey series, so I can't wait to start the Call of the Forgotten series.
Unhinged by A.G. Howard (Abrams)  and I was also auto-approved for Abrams, so very exciting! I read Alice in Wonderland and I really want to start reading all the great retellings and twists on the story. I know this is a favorite series, so I was excited to get this one.
Olivia Twisted by Vivi Barnes (Entangled) This is a retelling of Oliver Twist, one of my favorite classics!
What I Thought Was True by Huntley Fitzpatrick (Dial) The teens that come into the library love The Boy Next Door, so I just had to request this one, so I could booktalk it!

I also received a paper galley of Rags and Bones from Little, Brown. I think this will work as a great pairing with the original tales. This has some great authors and I will have to read some classic short stories to see how they compare.


I hope you got some great books!