Book Reviews, Lists, Discussions, and Displays

Tag: October 2015

Book Review: First & Then

First and Then

First & Then – Emma Mills – Henry Holt and Co – Published 13 October 2015

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Synopsis

Devon Tennyson wouldn’t change a thing. She’s happy watching Friday night games from the bleachers, silently crushing on best friend Cas, and blissfully ignoring the future after high school. But the universe has other plans. It delivers Devon’s cousin Foster, an unrepentant social outlier with a surprising talent for football, and the obnoxiously superior and maddeningly attractive star running back, Ezra, right where she doesn’t want them first into her P.E. class and then into every other aspect of her life.

My thoughts

A charming and enjoyable novel, First & Then sweeps you into a tremendous mix of family, friendship, football and that tenuous time of nearing the end of high school and trying to decide on the next step (oh, and a gorgeously sweet romance).

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New Book Releases October 2015

New Book Releases for October 2015

Here are the books due for release in October 2015 that have had the pleasure to read or have made it onto my to-read list. Click on the covers for detailed reviews.

Young Adult Fiction

A Thousand NightsA Thousand Nights – E.K. Johnston – Disney Hyperion – Published 6 October 2015

Lo-Melkhiin killed three hundred girls before he came to her village, looking for a wife. When she sees the dust cloud on the horizon, she knows he has arrived. She knows he will want the loveliest girl: her sister. She vows she will not let her be next.

And so she is taken in her sister’s place, and she believes death will soon follow. Lo-Melkhiin’s court is a dangerous palace filled with pretty things: intricate statues with wretched eyes, exquisite threads to weave the most beautiful garments. She sees everything as if for the last time.But the first sun rises and sets, and she is not dead. Full review.

Young adult fiction: Fantasy – fairytale retelling.


A Step Toward Falling

A Step Toward Falling – Cammie McGovern – HarperTeen – Published 6 October 2015

A Step Toward Falling is a book that is beautifully written and has a wonderful message of friendship and love, of fear and bravery, and of learning to reach out and stand up. This is a book that is well worth reading.

Lucas and Emily. One a successful football player and part of the popular social group at school, the other an academic activist. Now they are connected by one night where they both failed to act when Belinda, a fellow student with developmental disabilities, was being attacked.  Full review.

Young adult fiction: Contemporary.


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Book Review: A Thousand Nights

A Thousand Nights

A Thousand Nights – E.K. Johnston – Disney Hyperion – Published 6 October 2015

♥♥♥♥

Synopsis

Lo-Melkhiin killed three hundred girls before he came to her village, looking for a wife. When she sees the dust cloud on the horizon, she knows he has arrived. She knows he will want the loveliest girl: her sister. She vows she will not let her be next.

And so she is taken in her sister’s place, and she believes death will soon follow. Lo-Melkhiin’s court is a dangerous palace filled with pretty things: intricate statues with wretched eyes, exquisite threads to weave the most beautiful garments. She sees everything as if for the last time.But the first sun rises and sets, and she is not dead. Night after night, Lo-Melkhiin comes to her and listens to the stories she tells, and day after day she is awoken by the sunrise. Exploring the palace, she begins to unlock years of fear that have tormented and silenced a kingdom. Lo-Melkhiin was not always a cruel ruler. Something went wrong.

Far away, in their village, her sister is mourning. Through her pain, she calls upon the desert winds, conjuring a subtle unseen magic, and something besides death stirs the air.

Back at the palace, the words she speaks to Lo-Melkhiin every night are given a strange life of their own. Little things, at first: a dress from home, a vision of her sister. With each tale she spins, her power grows. Soon she dreams of bigger, more terrible magic: power enough to save a king, if she can put an end to the rule of a monster.

My thoughts

This is a clever and beautiful story, spun out of simple story threads and woven together to create a rich tapestry that sings.

When King Lo-Melkhiin’s group travels to her town, she knows that he will hardly resist the beauty of her sister, and that in being chosen as his bride her sister will go to her death, just like so many girls before her. And so, she does what she can by offering herself in her sister’s place. At the King’s qasr she is stunned to survive not only the first night, but each that follows. As she spins her stories, her power grows and with it her knowledge of the castle and the people within it, as well as Lo-Melkhiin himself and what plagues him.

This book reminded me of Gail Carson Levine’s fairytale retellings, particularly Ever, in the way it was written and the great layers of depth to the story. Gail Carson Levine is one of my favourite authors and, in my opinion, the writer of the best fairytale retellings, so that is some compliment.  Continue reading

Book Review: Deadlock

Deadlock

Deadlock – DiAnn Mills – FBI: Houston #3 – Tyndale House Publishers – Published 1 October 2015

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Synopsis

Two murders have rocked the city of Houston. Are they the work of a serial killer, or is a copycat trying to get away with murder?

That is the question facing Special Agent Bethany Sanchez, who is eager for her new assignment in violent crimes but anxious about meeting her new partner. Special Agent Thatcher Graves once arrested her brother, and he has a reputation for being a maverick. Plus, their investigative styles couldn’t be more opposite: he operates on instinct, while she goes by the book.

When hot leads soon fizzle out, their differences threaten to leave them deadlocked. But an attempt on their lives turns up the heat and brings them closer together, and a third victim might yield the clue that will help them zero in on a killer. This could be the case of their careers . . . if they can survive long enough to solve it.

My thoughts

As with the other FBI Houston books Deadlock jumps straight into the crime-fighting action. It read like a great crime TV show, high on dialog, short sharp sentences and minimal other details, with touches of romance and faith.

It’s the first day on the job for Special Agent Bethany Sanchez, who has transferred from civil rights division to violent crimes. Eager to start, yet anxious about working with her new partner Special Agent Thatcher Graves, Bethany is plunged straight into the middle of a serial killer case. Things get complicated when Bethany isn’t sure the second murder really is the work of the serial killer, while Thatcher is adamant his gut is correct in assuring him the murders are the work of the same person. Add family drama and growing feelings between Bethany and Thatcher and the case is soon heating up.

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Book Review: Ice Like Fire

Ice Like Fire

Ice Like Fire – Sara Raasch – Snow Like Ashes #2 – Balzer + Bray – Published 13 October 2015

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Synopsis

It’s been three months since the Winterians were freed and Spring’s king, Angra, disappeared—thanks largely to the help of Cordell.

Meira just wants her people to be safe. When Cordellan debt forces the Winterians to dig their mines for payment, they unearth something powerful and possibly dangerous: Primoria’s lost chasm of magic. Theron sees this find as an opportunity—with this much magic, the world can finally stand against threats like Angra. But Meira fears the danger the chasm poses—the last time the world had access to so much magic, it spawned the Decay. So when the king of Cordell orders the two on a mission across the kingdoms of Primoria to discover the chasm’s secrets, Meira plans to use the trip to garner support to keep the chasm shut and Winter safe—even if it means clashing with Theron. But can she do so without endangering the people she loves?

Mather just wants to be free. The horrors inflicted on the Winterians hang fresh and raw in Januari—leaving Winter vulnerable to Cordell’s growing oppression. When Meira leaves to search for allies, he decides to take Winter’s security into his own hands. Can he rebuild his broken kingdom and protect them from new threats?

As the web of power and deception weaves tighter, Theron fights for magic, Mather fights for freedom—and Meira starts to wonder if she should be fighting not just for Winter, but for the world.

My thoughts

I loved Snow Like Ashes, the first book in this trilogy. Now having had the pleasure to read book two, I found I struggled at first to engage with Ice Like Fire. Second books in trilogies are always hard reads for me – I find they are often just setting up the main events that will occur in the third book. But slowly working through this book was worth it and by half way I was once again absorbed by the suspense and action of this continuing story. Bring on book three!

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Book Review: Night Owls

night Owls

Night Owls (AKA The Anatomical Shape of a Heart) – Jenn Bennett – Simon & Schuster/ Feiwel & Friends – Published 1 October 2015 (varies in each region, August – UK, November – US).

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Synopsis

Missing the last train home, Beatrix finds herself on the Owl – San Francisco’s night bus – and meets a boy who turns her summer plans upside-down. Jack is charming, drop-dead sexy… and possibly one of San Francisco’s most notorious graffiti artists, daubing beautiful words in gold in locations across the city. Beatrix herself has an incredible artistic talent and is determined to become a medical illustrator. Across midnight buses, blog posts and through her artwork, Beatrix unravels the enigma that is Jack while the two of them fall passionately in love. But will the secrets Jack stubbornly guards come back to haunt him? Or will Bex’s own complex family fall apart first?

My thoughts

This book just completely blew me away. I don’t know why but for some reason I utterly underestimated how awesome it was going to be. It was a book I thought I’d try but didn’t expect to love. Well, I loved it. Totally and absolutely loved every single minute and every word of it. It was funny, heartwarming, sad, moving, beautiful, completely passionate and full of life and love and art.

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Book Review: Love in the Details

Love in the Details

Love in the Details – Becky Wade – A Year of Weddings 2 #12 – Zondervan – Published 27 October 2015

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Synopsis

She left him to save his future, but they’ve never gotten over each other. When Josh returns to his hometown of Martinsburg, Texas, to help his best friend get married, he didn’t intend to run into church wedding coordinator—and ex-girlfriend—Holly. He can’t help but pine after the girl he never got over.

Holly broke up with Josh years ago in an attempt to ensure his future success. But she loved him then and still loves him now. As she helps him plan his best friend’s wedding, she can’t help but feel horrible for the pain she caused him. And even though she longs to be with Josh, she doesn’t feel worthy of his big-time lifestyle when she is more comfortable in her small town world. Will Josh and Holly be able to keep things as they are when their true feelings threaten to surface at every turn?

My thoughts

I really, really loved this story.

I have had a bit of a love-hate relationship with this second series of Year of Weddings novellas, and, as such, decided to stick to authors who I knew consistently wrote brilliant, faith-based romance. Becky Wade is certainly just such an author. I love her Porter Family series and eagerly await any new book she has to offer. So, I knew it would be worth reading her addition to the Year of Wedding series. I was right. This novella has all of Becky Wade’s trademark charming writing style, great characters and swoony romance.

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Book Review: Spinning Starlight

Spinning Starlight

Spinning Starlight – R.C. Lewis – Disney Hyperion – Published 6 October 2015

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Synopsis

Sixteen-year-old heiress and paparazzi darling Liddi Jantzen hates the spotlight. But as the only daughter in the most powerful tech family in the galaxy, it’s hard to escape it. So when a group of men show up at her house uninvited, she assumes it’s just the usual media-grubs. That is, until shots are fired.

Liddi escapes, only to be pulled into an interplanetary conspiracy more complex than she ever could have imagined. Her older brothers have been caught as well, trapped in the conduits between the planets. And when their captor implants a device in Liddi’s vocal cords to monitor her speech, their lives are in her hands: One word and her brothers are dead.

Desperate to save her family from a desolate future, Liddi travels to another world, where she meets the one person who might have the skills to help her bring her eight brothers home-a handsome dignitary named Tiav. But without her voice, Liddi must use every bit of her strength and wit to convince Tiav that her mission is true. With the tenuous balance of the planets deeply intertwined with her brothers’ survival, just how much is Liddi willing to sacrifice to bring them back?

My thoughts

A clever fairytale reconstruction set in a world of advanced technology, interplanetary journeys and magic.

Firstly, I feel that I should point out that this is a companion to Stitching Snow in that it is a fairytale retelling. Spinning Starlight is set in a different world and has a completely new set of characters. It can be read as a standalone.

Liddi is heir to the Jantzen Technology Innovations company. She also can’t seem to create anything new or exciting or even near worthy of the Jantzen name. But when her eight older brothers are placed in danger it is up to Liddi to save them. Those threatening her family have also ensured that she can not speak and that she has no one to turn to for help. When her brothers manage to get her to moderate safety, she realises the world she knows is far larger and more diverse than she could have imagined and that the danger that threatens her family could also irrevocably destroy not only the seven planets of her home but the eighth planet on which she now takes refuge.

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Book Review: A Step Toward Falling

A Step Toward Falling

A Step Toward Falling – Cammie McGovern – HarperTeen – Published 6 October 2015

♥♥♥♥

Synopsis

Emily has always been the kind of girl who tries to do the right thing—until one night when she does the worst thing possible. She sees Belinda, a classmate with developmental disabilities, being attacked. Inexplicably, she does nothing at all.

Belinda, however, manages to save herself. When their high school finds out what happened, Emily and Lucas, a football player who was also there that night, are required to perform community service at a center for disabled people. Soon, Lucas and Emily begin to feel like maybe they’re starting to make a real difference. Like they would be able to do the right thing if they could do that night all over again. But can they do anything that will actually help the one person they hurt the most?

My thoughts

A Step Toward Falling is a book that is beautifully written and has a wonderful message of friendship and love, of fear and bravery, and of learning to reach out and stand up. This is a book that is well worth reading.

Lucas and Emily. One a successful football player and part of the popular social group at school, the other an academic activist. Now they are connected by one night where they both failed to act when Belinda, a fellow student with developmental disabilities, was being attacked. As Belinda deals with the aftermath of the attack she must decide what direction she wants her life to take, while Emily and Lucas must each deal with their guilt while undertaking community service at a relationship skills class hosted at the local centre for people with disabilities.

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