Sunday, August 25, 2019

New Releases in YA! (August 25th-30th)

Every week I list all (or almost all) of the YA books (and the occasional MG) that are coming out within that week!
There's not much coming out this week, but here's what you get to look forward:
P.S. Click on the book's cover for the Goodreads page!
Did I miss any books?
What books, if any, do you plan to read?

Thursday, August 22, 2019

REVIEW: We Walked the Sky by Lisa Fiedler

We Walked the Sky
A stunning, multigenerational story about two teenagers: Victoria, who joins the circus in 1965, and her granddaughter, Callie, who leaves the circus fifty years later.

In 1965 seventeen-year-old Victoria, having just escaped an unstable home, flees to the ultimate place for dreamers and runaways--the circus. Specifically, the VanDrexel Family Circus where, among the lion tamers, roustabouts, and trapeze artists, Victoria hopes to start a better life.

Fifty years later, Victoria's sixteen-year-old granddaughter Callie is thriving. A gifted and focused tightrope walker with dreams of being a VanDrexel high wire legend just like her grandmother, Callie can't imagine herself anywhere but the circus. But when Callie's mother accepts her dream job at an animal sanctuary in Florida just months after Victoria's death, Callie is forced to leave her lifelong home behind.

Feeling unmoored and out of her element, Callie pores over memorabilia from her family's days on the road, including a box that belonged to Victoria when she was Callie's age. In the box, Callie finds notes that Victoria wrote to herself with tips and tricks for navigating her new world. Inspired by this piece of her grandmother's life, Callie decides to use Victoria's circus prowess to navigate the uncharted waters of public high school.

Across generations, Victoria and Callie embrace the challenges of starting over, letting go, and finding new families in unexpected places.

1965: Victoria's mother is dying and she's being abused by her father. When the circus comes to town, she takes her chance and asks for a job, creating a new life for herself. Now: Callie is a tightrope-walker at her family circus, at least, she was until her mom decides to move her and Callie to an animal sanctuary. Both Victoria and Callie think that their situation is only temporary.

Once I read the synopsis to this book, I knew I had to read it. This was a wonderfully written book and I was drawn into the story. The book is in dual POV, switching between Victoria and Callie. I loved that this book has a dual perspective of family, within two different time periods. So many YA books use dual POV for romance and it was a breath of fresh air to see it used differently.

Out of the two narratives, Victoria's was my favorite. She was such a strong character, even though she didn't always feel strong, because she worked hard once she was in the circus and she had the courage to run away from her dangerous home environment. She really grows so much throughout her chapters and it was written extraordinarily well. Her story is also a bit more interesting. Yes, there is the historical backdrop and the circus setting that made it interesting, but there was an actual story progression in her chapters that made me want to keep reading forward. Even though I knew how parts of her story would end, thanks to Callie's chapters, and I knew that it would break my heart, I wanted to see how it got there.

Callie's chapters didn't interest me as much. Partially because I didn't like Callie very much. She lived in the circus her whole life but didn't care enough about anyone (except her grandmother) to make friendships with anyone. It made me a bit sad, honestly, but her character came off as obnoxious because she didn't seem to care about anyone else and just wanted to go back to the circus. Unlike Victoria, who had more of a reason to want to leave her home life and become her own person, Callie's reasoning just didn't feel as strong. I did like seeing her connection with tightrope-walking and all of her grandmother's notes helping her along. Callie's chapters worked the best when they felt like they were intertwined with Victoria's story, but there wasn't much of a plot driving her chapters, and I just wanted to go back to Victoria's chapters.

Overall, this is a fantastic book, wonderfully narrated, and I loved the focus on family. Again, I preferred Victoria's story to Callie's and that greatly affected my rating, but I did like seeing hints of Victoria in Callie's chapters. The ending punches you in the gut. It hurts and I am again astounded by Victoria's strength. This is the first book I've read by Lisa Fiedler, but I will keep my eyes open for any more YA from her in the future.

I hereby give this book
3.5 Stars
Meaning: I liked it, but it wasn't quite amazing.

Cover vs Cover: Fireworks by Katie Cotugno

This week's pick is...

29523625VS.  44890101. sy475
Original                           Redesign
Okay, I'll admit that the book was meh, but I am not a fan of the art style for the new cover. I feel bad saying this but... it looks like something I would have drawn when I was ten. It does not read book cover to me. It also does a worse job of telling you what the book is about. This book is about two friends competing in a girl band in the '90s. Sure, the original cover doesn't exactly say that, but it sure tells you a lot more than the new cover.
Final Verdict: Original
What do you think? Give me your thoughts on which cover is the best!

Wednesday, August 21, 2019

Waiting on Wednesday: The Magnolia Sword: A Ballad of Mulan by Sherry Thomas

Waiting on Wednesday (or Can't Wait Wednesday) is a weekly meme, hosted by Wishful Endings, where you talk about whatever book you are IMPATIENTLY WAITING for!

This week I am waiting for...
The Magnolia Sword: A Ballad of Mulan

CHINA, 484 A.D.

A Warrior in Disguise
All her life, Mulan has trained for one purpose: to win the duel that every generation in her family must fight. If she prevails, she can reunite a pair of priceless heirloom swords separated decades earlier, and avenge her father, who was paralyzed in his own duel.

Then a messenger from the Emperor arrives, demanding that all families send one soldier to fight the Rouran invaders in the north. Mulan's father cannot go. Her brother is just a child. So she ties up her hair, takes up her sword, and joins the army as a man.

A War for a Dynasty
Thanks to her martial arts skills, Mulan is chosen for an elite team under the command of the princeling--the royal duke's son, who is also the handsomest man she's ever seen. But the princeling has secrets of his own, which explode into Mulan's life and shake up everything she knows. As they cross the Great Wall to face the enemy beyond, Mulan and the princeling must find a way to unwind their past, unmask a traitor, and uncover the plans for the Rouran invasion . . . before it's too late.

Inspired by wuxia martial-arts dramas as well as the centuries-old ballad of Mulan, The Magnolia Sword is perfect for fans of Renee Ahdieh, Marie Lu, or Kristin Cashore--a thrilling, romantic, and sharp-edged novel that lives up to its beloved heroine. 
Release Date: September 10th, 2019

Why am I waiting?
Just say Mulan Retelling and I'm there!
What book are you waiting for this week?

Monday, August 19, 2019

REVIEW: Broken Symmetry by Dan Rix

Broken Symmetry

Sixteen-year-old Blaire Adams can walk through mirrors.

It’s called breaking symmetry. To her, a mirror feels like a film of honey. She can reach through it, grab things…even step inside.

On the other side she lives every teenager’s fantasy: a universe all her own, zero consequences. She can kiss the hot guy, break into La Jolla mansions, steal things…even kill. When finished, she just steps back into reality and smashes the mirror—and in an instant erases every stupid thing she did. Gone. It never happened.

But breaking symmetry is also dangerous. First there’s the drug-like rush she gets when passing through the glass, like a shot of adrenaline. She suspects it’s degrading her body, making a new copy of her each time. A reflection of a reflection, each one a little hazier. Then, of course, there’s the risk of getting cut off from reality.

When she narrowly escapes a military quarantine zone with the San Diego Police Department hot on her heels only to discover her escape mirror littering the floor in shards, her worst fear is realized. Now, trapped in a broken reflection, she must flee through a mind-bending maze of mirrors, going deeper into the nightmare as she struggles to grasp a betrayal, uncover the chilling truth about her ability, and somehow find a way out of a dead-end universe that “never happened.”

Somehow, she must find a way home.

I love books featuring parallel universes! When I saw this one hiding in my ebook library, I immediately wanted to read it. It took the book too long to get interesting, but it did have a lot of unique concepts.

Blaire's father has been missing for a while and when he is finally found, he doesn't seem like himself. He doesn't even recognize Blaire and, unfortunately, he dies before Blaire cane find out where he went. All he left was a mysterious notebook, but the police have taken it as evidence before Blaire could read it herself. Blaire wants to find out what happened so she decides to ask her dad's boss and she ends up in an internship that isn't what it seems.

First of all, the synopsis on Goodreads that originally made me want to read this book is hugely misleading. It takes over 100 pages to even get to the mirror thing and most of the synopsis doesn't even happen in the book until almost the very end. This made me almost give up on the book because it took forever to get to what I thought was the plot of the book. To be honest, so much of the first 100 pages were completely unnecessary. Once I got past that and the parallel universe aspect came into play, I did find the book a lot more interesting. I do think it takes the concept of parallel universes in an unusual direction and does its best to explain it. I guessed some things pretty early on, but the book still went in surprising and very dark directions.

I had difficulty with Blaire at times. She made very reckless decisions in the beginning and I constantly felt secondhand embarrassment. It also frustrated me when she wouldn't figure things out that seemed obvious to me. As the story continued, I did like her more and she seemed to think more before she acted.

As far as romance goes, it was okay, I guess. It's really hard for me to like romance in books. By the end of it, I admit that I was hoping that something would work for them because things got really dark, but for the most part, I didn't feel anything between them. He was the only guy around her age in the book so it kind of felt like they were together because of proximity. He was also incredibly reckless, dangerously so, and he continued on his reckless path throughout the book.

Overall, I did end up liking the book by the end. I know I sound more negative than positive, but the aspects I thought were the most interesting are major spoilers. I am glad that I decided to continue reading this book after the slow beginning.

I hereby give this book
3.5 Stars
Meaning: I liked it, but it wasn't quite amazing.

Sunday, August 18, 2019

New Releases in YA! (August 18th-24th)

Every week I list all (or almost all) of the YA books (and the occasional MG) that are coming out within that week!
There's not much coming out this week, but here's what you get to look forward:
P.S. Click on the book's cover for the Goodreads page!
Did I miss any books?
What books, if any, do you plan to read?

Saturday, August 17, 2019

Short and Simple Reviews: A Wolf Called Wander, Meet the Sky, and The Things She's Seen

This is a place for books that I didn't fully review.
Maybe I listed my likes and dislikes, had a little short paragraph, or a few sentences to convey my feelings on the book, but whatever the "review" is, all of them are short and simple. (hence the clever name)

A Wolf Called WanderThe wolf star, brightest of all in the summer sky, shines over my home ground. I know every hidden lake and rocky ridge, but if my pack is not in the mountains, then it is no home to me. I feel a howl deep inside, but dare not let it out.

Swift lives with his pack in the mountains, until one day his home and family are lost. Alone and starving, Swift must make a choice: stay and try to eke out a desperate life on the borders of his old hunting grounds, or strike out and find a new place to call home. The journey Swift must go on is long and full of peril for a lone wolf, and he'll need to take every chance he can. Will he find the courage to survive all by himself?

Inspired by a true story, A Wolf Called Wander is about family, courage and survival. With beautiful illustrations from artist Mónica Armiño and an extra factual section about wolves and their environment, this book is perfect for animal lovers. 
  Goodreads / Amazon / Barnes & Noble / Book Depository

I picked this book up preciously because it's exactly the kind of book I would have picked up when I was in middle school. The book reminded me a bit of A Dog's Life: The Autobiography of a Stray, but this is from the POV of a wolf. This is a fairly quick read, the language is short and to the point. It really read the closest it could to the consciousness of a wolf. At times I had to translate what the wolf was referring to (for instance: black river means road). The book was also full of wonderful illustrations. The story of Swift (which is based on a real wolf, by the way) is not the easiest or the happiest story, but I still found myself wanting to read more of it and to see how his story would turn out. Overall, I thought this was a great book. (less)

 I hereby give this book
4 Stars
Meaning: It was amazing!

Meet the SkyIt all started with the accident. The one that caused Sophie’s dad to walk out of her life.
The one that left Sophie’s older sister, Meredith, barely able to walk at all.

With nothing but pain in her past, all Sophie wants is to plan for the future—keep the family business running, get accepted to veterinary school, and protect her mom and sister from another disaster. But when a hurricane forms off the coast of North Carolina’s Outer Banks and heads right toward their island, Sophie realizes nature is one thing she can’t control.

After she gets separated from her family during the evacuation, Sophie finds herself trapped on the island with the last person she’d have chosen—the reckless and wild Finn Sanders, who broke her heart freshman year. As they struggle to find safety, Sophie learns that Finn has suffered his own heartbreak; but instead of playing it safe, Finn’s become the kind of guy who goes surfing in the eye of the hurricane. He may be the perfect person to remind Sophie how to embrace life again, but only if their newfound friendship can survive the storm.

  Goodreads / Amazon / Barnes & Noble / Book Depository

I listened to this on audio. The book worked fine on audio but my main feeling after finishing it was that it's an okay book. It did deal with some serious subjects. The main character's sister has a traumatic brain injury, her dad left, and now a hurricane is heading her way. She's separated from her mother and sister and now has to survive with Finn, the boy who stood her up at a dance. I liked seeing (hearing?) the interactions between them and, again, it gets into some serious topics, but...I wish this book didn't go into romance. Maybe that's just me tired of romance being placed in so many books, but I just want more books to show that it's normal for a teenager to not be in a romantic relationship. I wanted to focus to stay on surviving the hurricane because that what the focus should be on? Although, it did have a strong focus on family even though the MC was not with her family most of the book. Overall, I did like this book.

I hereby give this book
3 Stars
Meaning: I liked it

The Things She's SeenNothing's been the same for Beth Teller since the day she died.

Her dad is drowning in grief. He's also the only one who has been able to see and hear her since the accident. But now she's got a mystery to solve, a mystery that will hopefully remind her detective father that he is still alive, that there is a life after Beth that is still worth living.

Who is Isobel Catching, and why is she able to see Beth, too? What is her connection to the crime Beth's father has been sent to investigate--a gruesome fire at a home for troubled youth that left an unidentifiable body behind? What happened to the people who haven't been seen since the fire?

As Beth and her father unravel the mystery, they find a shocking and heartbreaking story lurking beneath the surface of a small town, and a friendship that lasts beyond one life and into another... 

This is a strange but fairly quick read. It took me a bit to get into this book because, at the start, it read like an adult book rather than YA. I am an adult, but I get a bit suspicious when a YA book reads more for an adult audience. One of the MCs, Beth, is dead and is helping her dad solve a case. I think the fact that the book begins with solving a mystery with an adult (as a ghost) did not read YA at first. Especially since Beth had a lot of focus on her dad. As the book continued, it did shift so that Beth became a major focus. The book also has dual perspectives. The other perspective is from Isobel Catching and her entire POV is in verse as she tells Beth and Beth's dad what happened to her. Her story goes into the realm of unusual but it was very interesting. Both main characters are aboriginal and a lot of this book carries inspiration from aboriginal stories which was great. While it did take me a bit to get into this book, the ending was absolutely fantastic and surprising. I think the way this book came together will stick with me.

I hereby give this book
3.5 Stars
Meaning: It was almost amazing, but not quite

Thursday, August 15, 2019

REVIEW: Maybe This Time by Kasie West

Maybe This Time

One year. Nine events. Nine chances to . . . fall in love?

Weddings. Funerals. Barbecues. New Year's Eve parties. Name the occasion, and Sophie Evans will be there. Well, she has to be there. Sophie works for the local florist, so she can be found at every big event in her small hometown, arranging bouquets and managing family dramas.

Enter Andrew Hart. The son of the fancy new chef in town, Andrew is suddenly required to attend all the same events as Sophie. Entitled, arrogant, preppy Andrew. Sophie just wants to get her job done and finish up her sketches so she can apply to design school. But every time she turns around, there is Andrew, getting in her way and making her life more complicated. Until one day she wonders if maybe complicated isn't so bad after all . . .

Told over the course of one year and following Sophie from event to event, this delightful novel from master of romantic comedy Kasie West shows how love can blossom in unexpected places.

I wouldn't consider this my favorite Kasie West book. I wanted a little bit more. To be honest, I keep hoping for Kasie West to write another book as great as Pivot Point and while her other books are still wonderful, I keep starting out with high expectations. Maybe This Time is still a great contemporary romance. It made me smile and I liked that the book had a little bit of a different layout.

Sophie dreams of leaving her small town and becoming a fashion designer in New York. Right now she has to deal with working at a florist that helps out with every major event in town (she couldn't get a job at the one place that fixes clothes). When her best friend's dad, a local caterer, wins a contest to be mentored by a famous chef, going to all of the major events in town have become less routine. Now Sophie has to deal with the judgemental and quick to anger chef and, worse, his son. Sophie sees him as judgmental as well and quickly sees him as an enemy rather than a friend, but throughout the year the two will get to know each other.

This book is divided by occasion and takes place throughout the year. We only see Sophie and the rest on the characters when they are at the event, anything between is either quickly summarized or inferred. I really liked this layout, I've never seen a book organized in this specific way. At times I did feel like I didn't know enough about the characters' outside lives, but at the same times, it really worked for the book. Sophie and Andrew only see each other at these events, so it really makes sense that we only see them at the events.

I love hate-to-love relationships in books but I wasn't completely on board with this one. I knew from the get-go that they were going to end up together and while there was supposedly dislike coming from Sophie's end, I never believed that she hated him. Annoyed maybe, but they acted like friends for most of the book. There was great banter between them and, don't get me wrong, seeing them talk with each other just made me smile, but... there wasn't enough conflict in this book to even trick me into believing that they would not end up together. 

I do like that the book focused on other aspects of life so it wasn't all romance. Sophie is embarrassed by her mom, helping to take care of her brother, has a father who left them, and is stressing out about leaving to a big city. She also has a great best friend. Most of this comes through in just the character interactions because, again, we only see them during special occasions. 

Overall, I did like this book and it is a great contemporary read. I liked the new format to the book but I also wanted more. It's not my favorite book by Kasie West, but she is still going to be an auto-read author for me.

I hereby give this book
3 Stars
Meaning: I liked it.

Wednesday, August 14, 2019

Waiting on Wednesday: The Kingdom of Back by Marie Lu

Waiting on Wednesday (or Can't Wait Wednesday) is a weekly meme, hosted by Wishful Endings, where you talk about whatever book you are IMPATIENTLY WAITING for!

This week I am waiting for...

The Kingdom of Back
From #1 New York Times bestselling author Marie Lu comes a historical YA fantasy about a musical prodigy and the dangerous lengths she'll go to make history remember her—perfect for fans of Susanna Clarke and The Hazel Wood.

Two siblings. Two brilliant talents. But only one Mozart.

Born with a gift for music, Nannerl Mozart has just one wish—to be remembered forever. But even as she delights audiences with her masterful playing, she has little hope she'll ever become the acclaimed composer she longs to be. She is a young woman in 18th century Europe, and that means composing is forbidden to her. She will perform only until she reaches a marriageable age—her tyrannical father has made that much clear.

And as Nannerl's hope grows dimmer with each passing year, the talents of her beloved younger brother, Wolfgang, only seem to shine brighter. His brilliance begins to eclipse her own, until one day a mysterious stranger from a magical land appears with an irresistible offer. He has the power to make her wish come true--but his help may cost her everything.

In her first work of historical fiction, #1 New York Times bestselling author Marie Lu spins a lush, lyrically-told story of music, magic, and the unbreakable bond between a brother and sister.
Release Date: March 3rd, 2020

Why am I waiting?
I love Marie Lu's books and this has been on my TBR since before I even knew what it was about. Now that I know what is it about I'm even more excited to read it! It sounds so different from any other book I've read and I'm really curious!
What book are you waiting for this week?

Sunday, August 11, 2019

Stacking the Shelves (July 7th-August 10th)

Hosted by Tynga's ReviewsStacking the Shelves is where all the booknerds can post about the lovely (or not so lovely) books that we've read, acquired, or discovered in the past week (or so).

So, it's been a while since I've done a Stacking the Shelves post! I've been out of town for the last four weeks attending the Denver Publishing Institute. I was in classes from 9-5 most days. This meant I was a little absent from the blogosphere lately. I decided to hold off on posting a Stacking the Shelves until I got back home (which was last night). I had a really great time in Denver, I learned a lot, but now I have to worry about getting a job!

Books I've Read
I did get some reading done while I was in Denver but I'm super behind on reviews! 

From Denver
All of these are books I picked up in Denver for free! Adding more books to my overflowing to-read list, of course. 


Short & Simple

New Discoveries