Monday, July 25, 2016

Snapshot Musings: Dusting Off the Shelves

One of my blogging goals was to have more discussion posts. I've said this for a long time, but somehow never quite write them. Having Snapshot Musings will hopefully encourage me to post more than just book reviews and regular memes. Some posts may be long, some short, and some mainly asking for opinions of fellow bloggers. If there's any topic you'd like to see featured, feel free to email me with the idea!

For the past couple of weeks, I have been trying to reorganize my bookshelves. I've been going through ARCs and finished copies that date back several years. I've managed to fill a 12-cubby bookshelf from IKEA, and there are still more books stacked on my floor, in my closet, on the four other bookcases that I have in my apartment. Some of these books I have read, and I'm trying to find my favorite ones places of honor on my remaining shelves. But in all of the books I haven't read, there are so many great stories, so many that I want to read, and yet I have one major reservation about them: I run a book review blog.

It might seem odd to say that running a book review blog is keeping me from reading books I want to read. But how can I read all of the old stories and still have time to review the new ones? Is publishing reviews of books that are several years old doing any kind of service to the blogging community? Surely someone hasn't read the book either--there are only so many hours in the day--but would it do more good to only review more recent books? Should the older books get their own special feature? Is it possible to read old books without reviewing them and without feeling guilty for taking time away from the blog?

As nice as it is to say that blogging still has to be about reading what you want, when you want, the pressure to keep up doesn't go away. We want to share new books and help them get exposure, or we wouldn't be blogging in the first place. The to-read lists are endless and ever-growing. I still want all of the new, shiny books, but I can't bring myself to let go of all of the other books still on my shelves. What do you do when books start to pile up? How do you balance older books with new releases? Is it ever too late to review a book? Let's talk!

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

"Waiting on" Wednesday

"Waiting on" Wednesday is a weekly event hosted by Jill at Breaking the Spine that spotlights upcoming releases that we're eagerly anticipating.

This week's selection is:

By: Gayle Forman
Published By: Algonquin Books
Release Date: Sept. 6, 2016
Preorder the Book: Amazon

Goodreads Summary: International bestselling author Gayle Forman's trademark humor and insight abound in this masterful adult debut, showing us that sometimes you have to leave home in order to find it again.

For every woman who has ever fantasized about driving past her exit on the highway instead of going home to make dinner, for every woman who has ever dreamed of boarding a train to a place where no one needs constant attention--meet Maribeth Klein. A harried working mother who's so busy taking care of her husband and twins, she doesn't even realize she's had a heart attack.

Afterward, surprised to discover that her recuperation seems to be an imposition on those who rely on her, Maribeth does the unthinkable: She packs a bag and leaves. But, as is so often the case, once we get to where we're going, we see our lives from a different perspective. Far from the demands of family and career and with the help of liberating new friendships, Maribeth is finally able to own up to secrets she has been keeping from those she loves and from herself.

With big-hearted characters who stumble and trip, grow and forgive, Leave Me is about facing our fears. Gayle Forman, a dazzling observer of human nature, has written an irresistible novel that confronts the ambivalence of modern motherhood head-on.

Why it's Wanted:

I know this is a YA book blog, and usually I stick to YA because I love the journeys of self-discovery, the thrill of first true love, and everything with it. However, Gayle Forman is one of my auto-buy authors because her books are just that amazing, and I think I'd enjoy reading self-discovery from an adult perspective.

Wednesday, July 13, 2016

"Waiting on" Wednesday

"Waiting on" Wednesday is a weekly event hosted by Jill at Breaking the Spine that spotlights upcoming releases that we're eagerly anticipating.

This week's selection is:

By: Leila Sales
Published By: Farrar, Strauss, & Giroux
Release Date: Sept. 15, 2016
Preorder the Book: Amazon

Goodreads Summary: Recklessly loyal.

That’s how seventeen-year-old Arden Huntley has always thought of herself. Caring for her loved ones is what gives Arden purpose in her life and makes her feel like she matters. But lately she’s grown resentful of everyone—including her needy best friend and her absent mom—taking her loyalty for granted.

Then Arden stumbles upon a website called Tonight the Streets Are Ours, the musings of a young New York City writer named Peter, who gives voice to feelings that Arden has never known how to express. He seems to get her in a way that no one else does, and he hasn’t even met her.

Until Arden sets out on a road trip to find him.

During one crazy night out in New York City filled with parties, dancing, and music—the type of night when anything can happen, and nearly everything does—Arden discovers that Peter isn’t exactly who she thought he was. And maybe she isn’t exactly who she thought she was, either.

Why it's Wanted:

This book sounds like one fun, fast-paced, crazy ride and a perfect fall break read. I'm looking forward to seeing what feelings are explored and living vicariously through all of their shenanigans.

Tuesday, July 12, 2016

Teaser Tuesday (94)

I'm very excited to be one of the many blogs participating in Teaser Tuesdays! TT is a weekly meme hosted by MizB at Books and a Beat. To participate:

* Grab your current read
* Open to a random page
* Share two “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page
(Make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!)
* Share the title & author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers!

"I’m scared to put myself back out there again, but this is Ezra. The guy I’ve known forever. The friend I can talk to. The one I can trust?"

Taken from p. 119 of DEFENDING TAYLOR
by Miranda Kenneally

Please share your teasers - post them or link to your blog!

Monday, July 11, 2016

Book Sketch: Defending Taylor by Miranda Kenneally

By: Miranda Kenneally
Published By: Sourcebooks Fire
Release Date: July 5, 2016
Series: None
Pages: 304
Genre: Contemporary
Reading Level: Young Adult
Source: Publisher
Buy the Book: Amazon

Goodreads Summary: There are no mistakes in love.

Captain of the soccer team, president of the Debate Club, contender for valedictorian: Taylor's always pushed herself to be perfect. After all, that's what is expected of a senator's daughter. But one impulsive decision-one lie to cover for her boyfriend-and Taylor's kicked out of private school. Everything she's worked so hard for is gone, and now she's starting over at Hundred Oaks High.

Soccer has always been Taylor's escape from the pressures of school and family, but it's hard to fit in and play on a team that used to be her rival. The only person who seems to understand all that she's going through is her older brother's best friend, Ezra. Taylor's had a crush on him for as long as she can remember. But it's hard to trust after having been betrayed. Will Taylor repeat her past mistakes or can she score a fresh start?

First Thought After Finishing: I’ve missed Miranda Kenneally’s books and her wonderfully relatable characters.

Sometimes you read a book that just fits your day or your current situation even when you weren’t expecting it. Defending Taylor happened to be just that. Miranda Kenneally’s books deal with issues that go beyond the high school setting or the sports field and speak to different phases of life.

Taylor is a senior in high school, captain of her soccer team, and Yale-bound. Her father, a US Senator from Tennessee, has tried to instill the best values in her and holds her to high standards. However, one major mistake lands Taylor expelled from her boarding school and attending Hundred Oaks High. She has to try and put her life back together if she wants to get into Yale, and she has to do it without her best friends and boyfriend, all while handling her family’s disappointment. As Taylor tries to get back on track, she begins to wonder if her father’s track is really the right one for her.

"What do I expect of myself? I have no clue. I’ve never felt so lost, but the more I think about it, I wonder if I’ve ever actually found myself to begin with. Maybe I’ve always been lost."

One of the reasons that I love YA books is that I enjoy the self-discovery stories. Taylor’s story was no exception. She’s courageous as she challenges the expectations from her family and herself. She learns that some things are beyond her control, there is such a thing as too little, too late, but sometimes we can only make the best of what we have. In the process of finding herself, she realizes that it’s okay to be passionate about what she wants and to try and make her own happiness. It’s a quality that I admire.

Another thing I love about Miranda’s books is that the characters are always more than they seem. And even when we don’t see a character very much, we still get to know them. For instance, Taylor’s love interest, Ezra, is a guy that we all hope to have. Like Taylor, he’s trying to make his own path, but there is more to his story than simple rebellion against his parents. I enjoyed watching the two of them develop a relationship that was meaningful. Taylor’s soccer friends and family also play a role in the book. It was refreshing to see such a well-rounded picture of life, very real, encouraging, and sweet.

Most Memorable Aspect: Taylor’s morning conversations with Ezra. I love that they cared enough about each other to talk about hard things.

Wednesday, July 6, 2016

"Waiting on" Wednesday

"Waiting on" Wednesday is a weekly event hosted by Jill at Breaking the Spine that spotlights upcoming releases that we're eagerly anticipating.

This week's selection is:

By: Norah Olson
Published By: Katherine Tegen Books
Release Date: July 26, 2016
Preorder the Book: Amazon

Goodreads Summary: 16 -year-old Gretchen takes photographs to understand the world around her, a passion her mother Mona fostered and encouraged when she was still around. Since her mom disappeared years ago, Gretchen and her dad have lived on their own in New York City, haunted by Mona’s absence.

When Gretchen’s great aunt Esther calls unexpectedly to tell her that she has inherited the pre-Civil War mansion on her mother’s side of the family in upstate New York, Gretchen understands nothing except that her aunt needs her help. But what she finds there is beyond her imagination. The house is crumbling apart, filled with stacks of papers and journals from decades, even centuries past, and it’s crawling with rodents. It’s also full of secrets and a legacy of racism and violence so reprehensible that the ghosts of the past are exacting revenge on the living.

Somehow the mystery of Mona’s disappearance and the atrocities that happened on the land during the Civil War are inextricably intertwined, and it’s up to Gretchen to figure out how…before even more lives are lost.

Why it's Wanted:

A ghost story with historical elements? Yes please! This sounds like a gripping story that will make for a good thunderstorm read.

Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Teaser Tuesday (93)

I'm very excited to be one of the many blogs participating in Teaser Tuesdays! TT is a weekly meme hosted by MizB at Books and a Beat. To participate:

* Grab your current read
* Open to a random page
* Share two “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page
(Make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!)
* Share the title & author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers!

"Even if I can't trust Kilorn, Cal, or anyone else, I can trust in ability. In strength. In power. With Cal's fire, my storm, and Shade's speed, nothing and no one can touch us."

Taken from p. 74 of GLASS SWORD
by Victoria Aveyard

Please share your teasers - post them or link to your blog!

Monday, June 27, 2016

Book Sketch: A Season for Fireflies by Rebecca Maizel

By: Rebecca Maizel
Published By: Harper Teen
Release Date: June 28, 2016
Series: Nonen
Pages: 256
Genre: Contemporary
Reading Level: Young Adult
Source: Edelweiss
Buy the Book: Amazon

Goodreads Summary: A story of second chances from the author of Between Us and the Moon, which Kirkus Reviews called “what first love is meant to be.”

A year ago, Penny Berne was the star of her high school’s theater department, surrounded by a group of misfit friends and falling in love for the first time. Now her old friends won’t talk to her, her new best friend is the most popular girl in school, and her first love, Wes, ignores her. Penny is revered and hated. Then, in a flash, a near-fatal lightning strike leaves Penny with no memory of the past year—or how she went from drama nerd to queen bee.

As a record number of fireflies light up her town and her life, Penny realizes she may be able to make things right again—and that even if she can’t change the past, she can learn to see the magic where she never could before.

This captivating new novel about first love, second chances, and the power of memory is perfect for fans of Lauren Oliver’s Before I Fall and Katie Cotugno’s How to Love.

First Thought After Finishing: Like Shakespeare said, all’s well that ends well--no matter how you get there.

Some books are quick reads but leave you thinking; others you have to take stretch out over several days. A Season for Fireflies is the former. I read the book in one day, mostly in one sitting, but it’s been on my mind for a few days since then.

Penny lives for theater. She acts in plays year-round and hopes to be an actress, and her best friends are there. However, her best acting job is what she dos every day—hiding how bad her mom’s drinking is from everyone. However, when the effects catch up with her, she’s desperate for a change that gets her out of the spotlight and away from questions. She spends a year hanging out with the popular crowd, balancing partying and studying, as long as it keeps her away from home. But when a lighting strike takes a year of her memory, Penny has to decide how she wants to rebuild her life.

Penny’s struggles hit close to home. Opening up and accepting help can be a challenge. She finds it easier to ignore the problems, to push away others before they can push her away. Wes, who wants to be more than her friend, scares her most of all. But when she has to face how she reinvented herself, she realizes that even though parties are fun, she can’t escape from life for forever. For anyone who has a hard time sharing personal information for fear of reactions, Penny’s story is worth reading.

This story was easy to get caught up in. I wanted to know if Penny could rebuild her relationships and if she would get her memory back. Her friends were also fun to read about. Panda especially made me smile and was someone I wanted to know more about—if there was to be a spinoff story, I would choose him to be the main character. Then there was Wes. He’s the kind of first crush that every girl deserves, and he plays an important role in the story. Finally, I loved the idea through the book of creating a life for yourself. Life didn’t have to be all or nothing; sometimes bold choices work out for the best.

Most Memorable Aspect: I liked the firefly imagery throughout the book. It brought back so many childhood memories and made me wish I’d had some of the same picturesque backdrops. I also loved the theater references throughout the story.

Thursday, June 23, 2016

Book Sketch: Red Queen by Victoria Aveyard

By: Victoria Aveyard
Published By: Harper Teen
Release Date: February 10, 2015
Series: Red Queen
Pages: 383
Genre: Fantasy
Reading Level: Young Adult
Source: Borrowed
Buy the Book: Amazon

Goodreads Summary: This is a world divided by blood – red or silver.

The Reds are commoners, ruled by a Silver elite in possession of god-like superpowers. And to Mare Barrow, a seventeen-year-old Red girl from the poverty-stricken Stilts, it seems like nothing will ever change.

That is, until she finds herself working in the Silver Palace. Here, surrounded by the people she hates the most, Mare discovers that, despite her red blood, she possesses a deadly power of her own. One that threatens to destroy the balance of power.

Fearful of Mare’s potential, the Silvers hide her in plain view, declaring her a long-lost Silver princess, now engaged to a Silver prince. Despite knowing that one misstep would mean her death, Mare works silently to help the Red Guard, a militant resistance group, and bring down the Silver regime.

But this is a world of betrayal and lies, and Mare has entered a dangerous dance – Reds against Silvers, prince against prince, and Mare against her own heart.

First Thought After Finishing: This book has everything a good story needs.

Some books do not live up to all of the hype about them, but Red Queen certainly does. This book has all of the elements of a fantastic story—an interesting world, political hierarchy and intrigue, underground rebellion, and, of course, romance. If there is an aspect of books that you love, it’s probably found in Red Queen.

"What would I give to see my mother looking at me like that, back when I was nothing but a thief? What would I give now? The world is Silver, but it is also gray. There is no black-and-white."

Mare Barrow is a Red, living under the rule of Silvers. All of her brothers have been drafted to the same war that injured her father. She lives as a thief, until the night she tries to rob the wrong person. Soon she finds herself in another life, caught up in a Silver world that she never imagined existed. In the Silver world, the people have a variety of abilities, from healing to super-strength to controlling fire. Nobles from the High Houses jockey for favor in the royal court. A Scarlet Guard threatens to overthrow the government. And in the midst of all of this chaos, Mare must come to terms with who and what she is.

As intriguing as the world is, what made this book was the characters. Mare isn’t perfect, but she us strong and dedicated to what she believes in. Cal and Maven are brothers but like opposite sides of the same coin. Both have their own troubles but their own allure, working their way into my heart. Like Mare, I found myself torn between them, wanting to believe the best of both of them but never quite certain. But make no mistake, this isn’t anything like a normal love triangle. There are secrets and scandals, shifting emotions and tenuous connections. I loved these portions of the story as well as the more adventurous portions.

This book was an emotional journey as well as an exciting one. It was hard to know what characters to trust, what everyone was hiding, and who I was hoping would prove to be the best in the end. I know there is much more to the story to come, and I’m looking forward to seeing how the characters keep developing.

Most Memorable Aspect: This book was constantly full of surprises, which isn’t always common. I loved the twists and suspense that kept me guessing.

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

"Waiting on" Wednesay

"Waiting on" Wednesday is a weekly event hosted by Jill at Breaking the Spine that spotlights upcoming releases that we're eagerly anticipating.

This week's selection is:

By: Victoria Schwab
Published By: Greenwillow Books
Release Date: July 5, 2016
Preorder the Book: Amazon

Goodreads Summary: There’s no such thing as safe in a city at war, a city overrun with monsters. In this dark urban fantasy from author Victoria Schwab, a young woman and a young man must choose whether to become heroes or villains—and friends or enemies—with the future of their home at stake. The first of two books.

Kate Harker and August Flynn are the heirs to a divided city—a city where the violence has begun to breed actual monsters. All Kate wants is to be as ruthless as her father, who lets the monsters roam free and makes the humans pay for his protection. All August wants is to be human, as good-hearted as his own father, to play a bigger role in protecting the innocent—but he’s one of the monsters. One who can steal a soul with a simple strain of music. When the chance arises to keep an eye on Kate, who’s just been kicked out of her sixth boarding school and returned home, August jumps at it. But Kate discovers August’s secret, and after a failed assassination attempt the pair must flee for their lives.

Why it's Wanted:

I've read one of Victoria Schwab's books before and enjoyed it. This book has an interesting premise and a lot of hype, so I'm eager to see what it has in store.

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