Waiting on Wednesday – Spotlight on DEFY THE STARS by Claudia Gray

New WoW“Waiting On” Wednesday is a weekly event, hosted at Breaking the Spine, which encourages fellow bloggers to spotlight upcoming releases that we’re excited about.

My “Waiting On” Wednesday selection for this week is Defy the Stars by Claudia Gray.  I’m a big sci-fi fan anyway, but I have to admit the fabulous cover is what initially drew me to this book, but once I read the starred reviews from both Kirkus and Publisher’s Weekly where they mention religion, terrorism, love, free will, and high stakes action (just to name a few things!) I knew this one had to go on my TBR.

Defy the Stars

by Claudia Gray

Publication Date:  April 4, 2017

From Amazon:

Noemi Vidal is a teen soldier from the planet Genesis, once a colony of Earth that’s now at war for its independence. The humans of Genesis have fought Earth’s robotic “mech” armies for decades with no end in sight.

After a surprise attack, Noemi finds herself stranded in space on an abandoned ship where she meets Abel, the most sophisticated mech prototype ever made. One who should be her enemy. But Abel’s programming forces him to obey Noemi as his commander, which means he has to help her save Genesis–even though her plan to win the war will kill him.

Together they embark on a daring voyage through the galaxy. Before long, Noemi begins to realize Abel may be more than a machine, and, for his part, Abel’s devotion to Noemi is no longer just a matter of programming.

Advance Praise for Defy the Stars:

*”Nuanced philosophical discussions of religion, terrorism, and morality advise and direct the high-stakes action, informing the beautiful, realistic ending. Intelligent and thoughtful, a highly relevant far-off speculative adventure.”―Kirkus Reviews (starred review)

*”Poignant and profound…a tale that examines the ethics of war and tackles questions of consciousness, love, and free will. Gray’s characters are nuanced, her worldbuilding is intelligent, and the book’s conclusion thrills and satisfies while defying expectations.”―Publishers Weekly (starred review)

“Replete with rebels, bots, and battles, this top-notch space adventure features a well-developed plot and an unexpected, satisfying ending. This is a complex and well-told tale about loyalty, love, and the meaning of life. A must-buy for sci-fi readers.”―School Library Journal

“The story plays with themes of destiny, honor, and faith, while ultimately asking readers to consider what makes one human. Recommend to fans of The Lunar Chronicles and The Illuminae Files, or to romance readers wanting a sci-fi entry point.”―School Library Connection

“This first-rate STEM-packed adventure explores what it means to be human and whether people are truly their brothers’ keepers.”―Booklist

“With a love story that sweeps across the galaxy and a heart-racing high-action plot, Defy the Stars brilliantly explores what it means to be human. This book shines like the stars.”―Beth Revis, New York Times bestselling author of the Across the Universe series

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I’d love to hear what upcoming book releases you’re waiting on this Wednesday? Leave me your link in the comments below and I’ll stop by and check out your WoW selection for this week. 🙂

Top Ten Tuesday: Top 10 Books on my Spring TBR

top ten tuesday

Top Ten Tuesday is a fun weekly meme hosted by The Broke and the Bookish. This week’s topic is  Top Ten Books on my Spring TBR.  This topic came along at just the right time because I’ve just been trying to decide which books I want to prioritize for spring reading.  Here’s my tentative list, always subject to change since I’m such a mood reader.  These titles are a mix of 2017 releases that I either already have ARCs for or am just planning to read as soon as they release as well as titles that I’m hoping to knock out as part of the Beat the Backlist challenge I’m participating in this year.

Top Ten Books on My Spring TBR

1. DEFY THE STARS by Claudia Gray

Goodreads Synopsis: Noemi Vidal is a teen soldier from the planet Genesis, once a colony of Earth that’s now at war for its independence. The humans of Genesis have fought Earth’s robotic “mech” armies for decades with no end in sight.

After a surprise attack, Noemi finds herself stranded in space on an abandoned ship where she meets Abel, the most sophisticated mech prototype ever made. One who should be her enemy. But Abel’s programming forces him to obey Noemi as his commander, which means he has to help her save Genesis–even though her plan to win the war will kill him.

Together they embark on a daring voyage through the galaxy. Before long, Noemi begins to realize Abel may be more than a machine, and, for his part, Abel’s devotion to Noemi is no longer just a matter of programming.   (Read more…)

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2. THE TWELVE LIVES OF SAMUEL HAWLEY by Hannah Tinti

Goodreads Synopsis: A father protects his daughter from the legacy of his past and the truth about her mother’s death in this thrilling new novel from the prize-winning author of The Good Thief.

After years spent living on the run, Samuel Hawley moves with his teenage daughter, Loo, to Olympus, Massachusetts. There, in his late wife’s hometown, Hawley finds work as a fisherman, while Loo struggles to fit in at school and grows curious about her mother’s mysterious death. Haunting them both are twelve scars Hawley carries on his body, from twelve bullets in his criminal past; a past that eventually spills over into his daughter’s present, until together they must face a reckoning yet to come. This father-daughter epic weaves back and forth through time and across America, from Alaska to the Adirondacks.

Both a coming-of-age novel and a literary thriller, The Twelve Lives of Samuel Hawley explores what it means to be a hero, and the cost we pay to protect the people we love most.  (Read more…)

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3. THE UPSIDE OF UNREQUITED by Becky Albertalli

Goodreads Synopsis:  Seventeen-year-old Molly Peskin-Suso knows all about unrequited love. No matter how many times her twin sister, Cassie, tells her to woman up, Molly can’t stomach the idea of rejection. So she’s careful. Fat girls always have to be careful.

Then a cute new girl enters Cassie’s orbit, and for the first time ever, Molly’s cynical twin is a lovesick mess. Meanwhile, Molly’s totally not dying of loneliness—except for the part where she is. Luckily, Cassie’s new girlfriend comes with a cute hipster-boy sidekick. If Molly can win him over, she’ll get her first kiss and she’ll get her twin back.

There’s only one problem: Molly’s coworker, Reid. He’s a chubby Tolkien superfan with a season pass to the Ren Faire, and there’s absolutely no way Molly could fall for him.

Right?   (Read more…)

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4. THE NAMES THEY GAVE US by Emery Lord

Goodreads Synopsis:  Lucy Hansson was ready for a perfect summer with her boyfriend, working at her childhood Bible camp on the lake. But when her mom’s cancer reappears, Lucy falters—in faith, in love, and in her ability to cope. When her boyfriend “pauses” their relationship and her summer job switches to a different camp—one for troubled kids—Lucy isn’t sure how much more she can handle. Attempting to accept a new normal, Lucy slowly regains footing among her vibrant, diverse coworkers, Sundays with her mom, and a crush on a fellow counselor. But when long-hidden family secrets emerge, can Lucy set aside her problems and discover what grace really means?  (Read more…)

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5. WE ARE OKAY by Nina LaCour

Goodreads Synopsis: You go through life thinking there’s so much you need…

Until you leave with only your phone, your wallet, and a picture of your mother.

Marin hasn’t spoken to anyone from her old life since the day she left everything behind. No one knows the truth about those final weeks. Not even her best friend, Mabel. But even thousands of miles away from the California coast, at college in New York, Marin still feels the pull of the life and tragedy she’s tried to outrun. Now, months later, alone in an emptied dorm for winter break, Marin waits. Mabel is coming to visit, and Marin will be forced to face everything that’s been left unsaid and finally confront the loneliness that has made a home in her heart.  (Read more…)

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6. UNDER ROSE-TAINTED SKIES by Louise Gornall

Goodsreads Synopsis:  At seventeen, Norah has accepted that the four walls of her house delineate her life. She knows that fearing everything from inland tsunamis to odd numbers is irrational, but her mind insists the world outside is too big, too dangerous. So she stays safe inside, watching others’ lives through her windows and social media feed.

But when Luke arrives on her doorstep, he doesn’t see a girl defined by medical terms and mental health. Instead, he sees a girl who is funny, smart, and brave. And Norah likes what he sees.

Their friendship turns deeper, but Norah knows Luke deserves a normal girl. One who can walk beneath the open sky. One who is unafraid of kissing. One who isn’t so screwed up. Can she let him go for his own good—or can Norah learn to see herself through Luke’s eyes? (Read more…)

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7. SIX OF CROWS by Leigh Bardugo

Goodreads Synopsis:  Criminal prodigy Kaz Brekker has been offered wealth beyond his wildest dreams. But to claim it, he’ll have to pull off a seemingly impossible heist:

Break into the notorious Ice Court
(a military stronghold that has never been breached)

Retrieve a hostage
(who could unleash magical havoc on the world)

Survive long enough to collect his reward
(and spend it)

Kaz needs a crew desperate enough to take on this suicide mission and dangerous enough to get the job done – and he knows exactly who: six of the deadliest outcasts the city has to offer. Together, they just might be unstoppable – if they don’t kill each other first.  (Read more…)

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8. A SHADOW BRIGHT AND BURNING BY JESSICA CLUESS

Goodreads Synopsis:  I am Henrietta Howel. The first female sorcerer. The prophesied one. Or am I?

Henrietta Howel can burst into flames. When she is brought to London to train with Her Majesty’s sorcerers, she meets her fellow sorcerer trainees, young men eager to test her powers and her heart. One will challenge her. One will fight for her. One will betray her. As Henrietta discovers the secrets hiding behind the glamour of sorcerer life, she begins to doubt that she’s the true prophesied one. With battle looming, how much will she risk to save the city–and the one she loves? (Read more…)

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9. JELLICOE ROAD by Melina Marchetta

Goodreads Synopsis:  I’m dreaming of the boy in the tree. I tell him stories. About the Jellicoe School and the Townies and the Cadets from a school in Sydney. I tell him about the war between us for territory. And I tell him about Hannah, who lives in the unfinished house by the river. Hannah, who is too young to be hiding away from the world. Hannah, who found me on the Jellicoe Road six years ago.

Taylor is leader of the boarders at the Jellicoe School. She has to keep the upper hand in the territory wars and deal with Jonah Griggs – the enigmatic leader of the cadets, and someone she thought she would never see again.

And now Hannah, the person Taylor had come to rely on, has disappeared. Taylor’s only clue is a manuscript about five kids who lived in Jellicoe eighteen years ago. She needs to find out more, but this means confronting her own story, making sense of her strange, recurring dream, and finding her mother – who abandoned her on the Jellicoe Road.

The moving, joyous and brilliantly compelling new novel from the best-selling, multi-award-winning author of Looking for Alibrandi and Saving Francesca. (Read more…)

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10. THE RAVEN BOYS by Maggie Stiefvater

Goodreads Synopsis:  “There are only two reasons a non-seer would see a spirit on St. Mark’s Eve,” Neeve said. “Either you’re his true love . . . or you killed him.”

It is freezing in the churchyard, even before the dead arrive.

Every year, Blue Sargent stands next to her clairvoyant mother as the soon-to-be dead walk past. Blue herself never sees them—not until this year, when a boy emerges from the dark and speaks directly to her.

His name is Gansey, and Blue soon discovers that he is a rich student at Aglionby, the local private school. Blue has a policy of staying away from Aglionby boys. Known as Raven Boys, they can only mean trouble.

But Blue is drawn to Gansey, in a way she can’t entirely explain. He has it all—family money, good looks, devoted friends—but he’s looking for much more than that. He is on a quest that has encompassed three other Raven Boys: Adam, the scholarship student who resents all the privilege around him; Ronan, the fierce soul who ranges from anger to despair; and Noah, the taciturn watcher of the four, who notices many things but says very little.

For as long as she can remember, Blue has been warned that she will cause her true love to die. She never thought this would be a problem. But now, as her life becomes caught up in the strange and sinister world of the Raven Boys, she’s not so sure anymore.

From Maggie Stiefvater, the bestselling and acclaimed author of the Shiver trilogy and The Scorpio Races, comes a spellbinding new series where the inevitability of death and the nature of love lead us to a place we’ve never been before. (Read more…)

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Question:  What books are you planning to read this Spring?

Diversity Spotlight Thursday # 1

Diversity Spotlight Thursday was created by Aimal at  Bookshelves and Paperbacks.  The idea behind this feature is to create “a weekly spotlight that illuminates diverse literature specifically.”  I’ve been looking for a Thursday or Friday meme for a while now but just couldn’t settle on one that appealed to me.  This one sounds perfect though, so I’m going to give it a go.  Thanks so much to Aimal for coming up with such a great idea!

Here’s how the meme works.  Basically you select three books to spotlight each week, using this format:

  1.  A diverse book you have read and enjoyed.
  2. A diverse book that has already been released but you have not read.
  3. A diverse book that has not yet been released.

 

A Diverse Book I have Read and Enjoyed

Goodreads Synopsis:  Solimar Castro Valdez is eighteen and dazed with optimism when she embarks on a perilous journey across the US/Mexican border. Weeks later she arrives on her cousin’s doorstep in Berkeley, CA, dazed by first love found then lost, and pregnant. This was not the plan. But amid the uncertainty of new motherhood and her American identity, Soli learns that when you have just one precious possession, you guard it with your life. For Soli, motherhood becomes her dwelling and the boy at her breast her hearth.

Kavya Reddy has always followed her heart, much to her parents’ chagrin. A mostly contented chef at a UC Berkeley sorority house, the unexpected desire to have a child descends like a cyclone in Kavya’s mid-thirties. When she can’t get pregnant, this desire will test her marriage, it will test her sanity, and it will set Kavya and her husband, Rishi, on a collision course with Soli, when she is detained and her infant son comes under Kavya’s care. As Kavya learns to be a mother–the singing, story-telling, inventor-of-the-universe kind of mother she fantasized about being–she builds her love on a fault line, her heart wrapped around someone else’s child.

Lucky Boy is an emotional journey that will leave you certain of the redemptive beauty of this world. There are no bad guys in this story, no obvious hero. From rural Oaxaca to Berkeley’s Gourmet Ghetto to the dreamscapes of Silicon valley, author Shanthi Sekaran has taken real life and applied it to fiction; the results are moving and revelatory.

Why I’m Spotlighting Lucky Boy:  I literally just finished this book – haven’t even written my review yet – but it’s just such a beautifully written, moving, and relevant book that I couldn’t wait to share it with my fellow readers.  The main characters are Solimar Castro Valdez, who is an illegal immigrant from Mexico, and Kavya and Rishi Reddy, who are Americans of Indian descent.  When Solimar is detained because of her illegal status, her infant son Ignacio, who was born in the U.S., is taken from her and put into foster care with the Reddys.  The Reddys have been desperately trying to have a child for a long time and instantly fall head over heels for Ignacio and are very hopeful that they’ll be able to keep him.  It’s an incredibly gut-wrenching read because you, of course, want Solimar to get her son back, but then you also see how loved and well cared for he is by Kavya and Rishi and so it’s just an impossible situation because no matter how it plays out, someone will end up with a broken heart.  It really got to me, both as a mother and as someone who hates seeing how deportations  literally rip families apart.

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A Diverse Book That Has Already Been Released, But I Have Not Read

Goodreads Synopsis:  The unforgettable New York Times best seller begins with the story of two half-sisters, separated by forces beyond their control: one sold into slavery, the other married to a British slaver. Written with tremendous sweep and power, Homegoing traces the generations of family who follow, as their destinies lead them through two continents and three hundred years of history, each life indeliably drawn, as the legacy of slavery is fully revealed in light of the present day.

Effia and Esi are born into different villages in eighteenth-century Ghana. Effia is married off to an Englishman and lives in comfort in the palatial rooms of Cape Coast Castle. Unbeknownst to Effia, her sister, Esi, is imprisoned beneath her in the castle’s dungeons, sold with thousands of others into the Gold Coast’s booming slave trade, and shipped off to America, where her children and grandchildren will be raised in slavery. One thread of Homegoing follows Effia’s descendants through centuries of warfare in Ghana, as the Fante and Asante nations wrestle with the slave trade and British colonization. The other thread follows Esi and her children into America. From the plantations of the South to the Civil War and the Great Migration, from the coal mines of Pratt City, Alabama, to the jazz clubs and dope houses of twentieth-century Harlem, right up through the present day, Homegoing makes history visceral, and captures, with singular and stunning immediacy, how the memory of captivity came to be inscribed in the soul of a nation.

Why I’m Spotlighting Homegoing:  I purchased Homegoing a few months ago because of all of the rave reviews it has received but somehow it got shuffled down my TBR and I haven’t gotten around to reading it yet.  I’m planning to read it soon though as part of the Beat the Backlist challenge I’m participating in.

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A Diverse Book That Has Not Yet Been Released

Goodreads Synopsis:  Seventeen-year-old Delilah Green wouldn’t have chosen to do her last year of school this way, but she figures it’s working fine. While her dad goes on a trip to fix his broken heart after her mom left him for another man, Del manages the family cafe. Easy, she thinks. But what about homework? Or the nasty posse of mean girls making her life hell? Or her best friend who won’t stop guilt-tripping her? Or her other best friend who might go to jail for love if Del doesn’t do something? But really, who cares about any of that when all Del can think about is beautiful Rosa who dances every night across the street. . . . Until one day Rosa comes in the cafe door. And if Rosa starts thinking about Del, too, then how in the name of caramel milkshakes will Del get the rest of it together?

Why I’m Spotlighting Get It Together, Delilah!:  The few early reviews I’ve read about this book describe it as a fun and light-hearted read.  They make it sound a lot like Simon Vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda, which was one of my favorite reads from last year.   It features an LGBT romance and a focus on family and friendships.  Get it Together, Delilah! released on April 4, 2017.

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Have you read any great Diverse books recently?  Or do you have any upcoming releases that you’re looking forward to?

Waiting on Wednesday – Spotlight on One of Us is Lying by Karen McManus

New WoW“Waiting On” Wednesday is a weekly event, hosted at Breaking the Spine, which encourages fellow bloggers to spotlight upcoming releases that we’re excited about.

My “Waiting On” Wednesday selection for this week is One of Us is Lying by Karen M. McManus.  This one had me at “The Breakfast Club meets Pretty Little Liars.”  The Breakfast Club is one of my all-time favorite movies and Pretty Little Liars is my ultimate guilty pleasure TV show, so this just sounds like the perfect read for me.  It sounds positively scandalous!

One of Us is Lying

by Karen M. McManus

Publication Date:  May 30, 2017

lying

From Amazon:

The Breakfast Club meets Pretty Little Liars, One of Us Is Lying is the story of what happens when five strangers walk into detention and only four walk out alive. Everyone is a suspect, and everyone has something to hide.

Pay close attention and you might solve this.

On Monday afternoon, five students at Bayview High walk into detention.
Bronwyn, the brain, is Yale-bound and never breaks a rule.
Addy, the beauty, is the picture-perfect homecoming princess.
Nate, the criminal, is already on probation for dealing.
Cooper, the athlete, is the all-star baseball pitcher.
And Simon, the outcast, is the creator of Bayview High’s notorious gossip app.

Only, Simon never makes it out of that classroom. Before the end of detention Simon’s dead. And according to investigators, his death wasn’t an accident. On Monday, he died. But on Tuesday, he’d planned to post juicy reveals about all four of his high-profile classmates, which makes all four of them suspects in his murder. Or are they the perfect patsies for a killer who’s still on the loose?

Everyone has secrets, right? What really matters is how far you would go to protect them.

 Advance Praise for One of Us is Lying

“An addictive, devour-in-one-sitting thriller with so many twists and turns you’ll be wondering until the very end: Who really killed Simon?”—Kara Thomas, author of The Darkest Corners and Little Monsters

“This fast-paced blend of Gossip Girl, Pretty Little Liars, and classic John Hughes will leave readers racing to the finish as the try to unravel the mystery on their own.”—Kirkus Reviews

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I’d love to hear what upcoming book releases you’re waiting on this Wednesday? Leave me your link in the comments below and I’ll stop by and check out your WoW selection for this week. 🙂

Top Ten Tuesday: My Top 10 Favorite Quotes from Harry Potter

top ten tuesday

Top Ten Tuesday is a fun weekly meme hosted by The Broke and the Bookish. Top Ten Tuesday is currently on hiatus, so I decided to make this a FREEBIE week for myself.  I’ve spent the past year or so re-reading the Harry Potter series with my 9-year old son.  It has been a lengthy endeavor because he likes me to read aloud and those last few books in the series are huge, but I have to admit it has been a labor of love. My son adores the series just as much as I do and it has really provided us with lots of quality mother-son time as we make our way through the series together.  We’re nearly finished with the final books now, so I thought it would be fun to share some of our favorite quotes from the series.  Some were quotes that made us giggle while we read, while others we found to just be incredibly moving and inspiring.  Harry Potter really is one of the best series out there for readers of all ages.

Top Ten Favorite Quotes from the Harry Potter Series

* * * * *

1. “It takes a great deal of bravery to stand up to our enemies, but just as much to stand up to our friends.”

(Albus Dumbledore, speaking of Neville Longbottom, Harry Potter and the Sorceror’s Stone)

 * * * * *

2. “It does not do to dwell on dreams and forget to live.” 

(Albus Dumbledore,  Harry Potter and the Sorceror’s Stone)

* * * * *

3. “Because that’s what Hermione does…When in doubt, go to the library.”

(Ron Weasley, speaking of Hermione Granger, Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets)

* * * * *

4. “Oh, honestly. Don’t you two read?”

(Hermione Granger, speaking to Ron and Harry, Harry Potter and the Sorceror’s Stone)

* * * * *

5.  “It is our choices, Harry, that show what we truly are, far more than our abilities.”

(Albus Dumbledore, speaking to Harry, Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets)

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6. “You look in excellent health to me, Potter, so you will excuse me if I don’t let you off homework today.  I assure you that if you do die, you need not hand it in.” 

(Professor McGonagall, speaking to Harry, Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban)

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7. “I solemnly swear that I am up to no good.”

(The key to accessing the awesome Marauder’s Map, Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban)

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8. “Do not pity the dead, Harry. Pity the living, and above all, those who live without love.” 

(Albus Dumbledore, speaking to Harry, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows)

* * * * *

9.  “It matters not what someone is born, but what they grow to be.”

(Albus Dumbledore, Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire)

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10.  “Are you quite sure you wouldn’t like a cough drop, Dolores?” 

(Professor McGonagall, being awesomely snarky to Delores Umbridge, who keeps interrupting her with her annoying little coughs, Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix)

 

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Question:  What are your favorite quotes from the Harry Potter series? Do any of these make your list?

Waiting on Wednesday: Spotlight on A Court of Wings and Ruin

New WoW“Waiting On” Wednesday is a weekly event, hosted at Breaking the Spine, which encourages fellow bloggers to spotlight upcoming releases that we’re excited about.

My “Waiting On” Wednesday selection for this week is A Court of Wings and Ruin by Sarah J. Maas.  Why?  Because I just finished the second book last week and I’m now dying to know what happens next in this incredibly addicting series!  Thank goodness I have tons of other books to keep me busy because May is just so far away…

A Court of Wings and Ruin

by Sarah J. Maas

Publication Date:  May 2, 2017

From Amazon:

Feyre has returned to the Spring Court, determined to gather information on Tamlin’s maneuverings and the invading king threatening to bring Prythian to its knees. But to do so she must play a deadly game of deceit-and one slip may spell doom not only for Feyre, but for her world as well.

As war bears down upon them all, Feyre must decide who to trust amongst the dazzling and lethal High Lords-and hunt for allies in unexpected places.

In this thrilling third book in the #1 New York Times and USA Today bestselling series from Sarah J. Maas, the earth will be painted red as mighty armies grapple for power over the one thing that could destroy them all.

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I’d love to hear what upcoming book releases you’re waiting on this Wednesday? Leave me your link in the comments below and I’ll stop by and check out your WoW selection for this week. 🙂

Top Ten Books I Just HAD to Buy…But Still Have Yet to Read

top ten tuesday

Top Ten Tuesday is a fun weekly meme hosted by The Broke and the Bookish. Top Ten Tuesday is officially on hiatus until March 7th, so I decided to go back and do an older topic that I hadn’t yet completed.  The one I selected is “Top Ten Tuesday: Top Ten Books I Just HAD to Buy…But Still Have Yet to Read”.  This one is perfect for me because I’m the worst impulse buyer on the planet when it comes to books.  I could have 1,000 books on my TBR, but if I see a book I want on sale, I can’t help myself.  I really blame the Kindle Daily Deals for many of these purchases because $1.99 is just irresistible to me, haha!  Anyway, here are 10 books that I couldn’t stop myself from buying but still have yet to read yet.  I swear I’m going to though!

Top Ten Books I Just HAD to Buy…But Still Have Yet to Read

* * * * *

1. AND I DARKEN 

by Kiersten White

* * * * *

2. THIS SAVAGE SONG

by Victoria Schwab

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3. THE SUMMER THAT MELTED EVERYTHING

by Tiffany McDaniel

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4. A LITTLE LIFE

by Hanya Yanagihara

* * * * *

5. RUINED

by Amy Tintera

* * * * *

6. THE RAVEN BOYS

by Maggie Stiefvater

* * * * *

7. MY BRILLIANT FRIEND

by Elena Ferrante

* * * * *

8. THE GRAVEYARD BOOK

by Neil Gaiman

* * * * *

9.  IN A DARK, DARK WOOD

by Ruth Ware

* * * * *

10.  WHEN WE COLLIDED

by Emery Lord

Question:  Are you an impulse buyer when it comes to books?  What books did you just HAVE to buy but somehow still haven’t gotten around to reading yet?

Waiting on Wednesday – Spotlight on Royal Bastards by Andrew Shvarts

New WoW“Waiting On” Wednesday is a weekly event, hosted at Breaking the Spine, which encourages fellow bloggers to spotlight upcoming releases that we’re excited about.

My “Waiting On” Wednesday selection for this week is Royal Bastards by Andrew Shvarts. What first caught my eye about this book was of course the title, which made me chuckle as soon as I saw it.  Reading the synopsis really sealed the deal for me because it has me envisioning this book as perhaps something similar to My Lady Jane – a humorous, yet exciting and dangerous adventure.  I’m curious to see if I’m right, but regardless, I’m looking forward to reading Royal Bastards.

Royal Bastards

by Andrew Shvarts

Publication Date:  June 6, 2017

From Amazon:

Being a bastard blows. Tilla would know. Her father, Lord Kent of the Western Province, loved her as a child, but cast her aside as soon as he had trueborn children.
At sixteen, Tilla spends her days exploring long-forgotten tunnels beneath the castle with her stablehand half brother, Jax, and her nights drinking with the servants, passing out on Jax’s floor while her castle bedroom collects dust. Tilla secretly longs to sit by her father’s side, enjoying feasts with the rest of the family. Instead, she sits with the other bastards, like Miles of House Hampstedt, an awkward scholar who’s been in love with Tilla since they were children.
Then, at a feast honoring the visiting princess Lyriana, the royal shocks everyone by choosing to sit at the Bastards’ Table. Before she knows it, Tilla is leading the sheltered princess on a late-night escapade. Along with Jax, Miles, and fellow bastard Zell, a Zitochi warrior from the north, they stumble upon a crime they were never meant to witness.
Rebellion is brewing in the west, and a brutal coup leaves Lyriana’s uncle, the Royal Archmagus, dead–with Lyriana next on the list. The group flees for their lives, relentlessly pursued by murderous mercenaries; their own parents have put a price on their heads to prevent the king and his powerful Royal Mages from discovering their treachery.
The bastards band together, realizing they alone have the power to prevent a civil war that will tear their kingdom apart-if they can warn the king in time. And if they can survive the journey . . .

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I’d love to hear what upcoming book releases you’re waiting on this Wednesday? Leave me your link in the comments below and I’ll stop by and check out your WoW selection for this week. 🙂

Top 10 Tuesday – 5 Books That Blew Me Away & 5 Books That…Not So Much

top ten tuesday

Top Ten Tuesday is a fun weekly meme hosted by The Broke and the Bookish. This week’s topic is “Ten Books I Loved Less/More Than I Thought I Would (recently or all time) — or you could do something like books I liked more/less than everyone else.”

Okay, so I struggled with this topic a bit. I couldn’t think of 10 books I loved more or less than I thought I would, so I split it down the middle and did five of each.  What I went for here are books I read in 2016 that either far exceeded my expectation or else didn’t meet my expectations at all or live up to the hype that surrounded them.  In other words, I liked them well enough; I just didn’t love them like I was sure that I would.  Let’s start with the good…

5 BOOKS THAT BLEW ME AWAY

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1. THE MARTIAN by Andy Weir

To this day, I still can’t get over how much I truly loved this book.  The only reason I even picked it up was because of the Matt Damon movie and my rule about always reading the book first.  I ended up devouring it in less than a day.  It fed both my inner geek and my inner smart ass and I loved every page of it.  Talk about exceeding expectations – if you haven’t read it yet, I highly recommend it!

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2. A COURT OF MIST AND FURY by Sarah J. Maas

I’m actually finishing this book as we speak and cannot believe how quickly I’ve blown through 600+ pages.  This is one of the few books I’ve read in the past year or so that really lives up to all of the hype that has surrounded it and as much as I enjoyed A Court of Thorns and Roses, I think this book far exceeds that one.  I’ll be reviewing this book soon so don’t want to say too much, but  I’m beyond ready to get my hands on the third book!

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3. MY LADY JANE by Cynthia Hand Brodi Ashton, and Jodi Meadows

I truly had no idea what to expect when I picked up My Lady Jane but it ended up being one of my favorite reads of 2016.  Written in the vein of The Princess Bride or perhaps Monty Python, if you love random and quirky humor, definitely put this one on your TBR. It’s truly laugh-out-loud funny!

 

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4. THE BEAR AND THE NIGHTINGALE by Katherine Arden

I honestly chose this book because I thought the cover was so beautiful and because I was intrigued by the idea of a retelling involving Russian folklore.  I was thrilled to find that the writing inside is just as beautiful as the cover outside.  Truly exquisite. This is a title that I hope receives the acclaim I believe it deserves.  I still can’t believe it’s Arden’s debut novel.

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5. LILAC GIRLS  by Martha Hall Kelly

I’ve always been drawn to historical fiction so I picked this book up as soon as I heard it was centered during World War II and focused on a women’s concentration camp.  Lilac Girls is a powerful exploration of how women in particular were impacted by the atrocities committed by the Nazis during WWII. The primary setting of the book is the Nazi concentration camp Ravensbruck and its primary focus, the women — primarily Polish political prisoners — who were detained there, with special attention paid to those known as the “Ravensbruck Rabbits”, a group of prisoners who were experimented on against their will by Nazi doctors.  One of the most compelling qualities of Lilac Girls, in my opinionis its moving portrayal of the strength and courage of the Ravensbruck prisoners. Up against inhumane treatment and almost certain death, they demonstrated such resilience, determination, and even at times, defiance, that it just blew me away. I found the sisterhood they created for themselves within the camp very moving as well – the way they worked so hard to keep hope alive, no matter how hard the Nazis tried to dehumanize them and strip that hope away.   I knew it would be a compelling read and an educational one, but I still wasn’t prepared for just how much it would blow me away.  Lilac Girls was a 2016 Goodreads Choice finalist and it’s my most recommended book of 2016.  It’s an important book because of the story that it tells and it’s also an incredibly well written book.

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5 BOOKS THAT … NOT SO MUCH

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6. THE UNDERGROUND RAILROAD by Colson Whitehead

underground railroad colson whitehead

I liked this book, but I hate that I didn’t completely love it, especially considering the widespread acclaim it has received. I thought Cora’s story was very compelling and that Whitehead’s writing is powerful in the way it exposes so many of the horrors of slavery. I also loved the imaginative idea of the Underground Railroad as an actual physical railroad — Cora’s journey on the various stops was probably my favorite part of the novel. That said, there was still just something about this book that made it a difficult one for me to get through. I’m thinking maybe it was something stylistic or maybe the point of view, but I just wasn’t as riveted by what was going on as I would have expected to be. It took me nearly two months to finish the book, which just isn’t like me at all.

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7. HARRY POTTER AND THE CURSED CHILD by John Tiffany, Jack Thorne, and J.K. Rowling

I don’t know if there was anyway this could possibly live up to the hype, but I found it to be a real letdown.  I’m sure it’s a phenomenal play, but that’s the thing. It’s meant to be seen rather than read.  I found the script to be just too bare bones for my liking and many of the characters that should feel familiar just didn’t.

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8. THE GIRL ON THE TRAIN by Paula Hawkins

I guess maybe I was just already over the hype of “The Girl….” books with unreliable narrators and unlikable characters by the time this one came out, but The Girl on the Train just didn’t do much for me to live up to all of the hype it was generating.

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9.  MODERN LOVERS BY EMMA STRAUB

This was another super-hyped book that just didn’t do much for me.  I literally saw it on every “Most Anticipated”, “Must Read” books list I came across last year and after I read it, I just sat there like “I don’t get it. What was all the fuss about?”

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10.  RED QUEEN by Victoria Aveyard

I have a love-hate relationship with the Red Queen series. It’s one of the most fast-paced and entertaining series out there, which is why I love it, but it also has Mare and her endless distracted behavior when she’s around her crushes. And don’t even get me started on the love triangle/love square thing she has going on in the first book.  What the heck?  I soooo want this to be a 5 star read because so many parts of it are so epic, but every time the love gets in the way of the rest of the storyline, I want to scream and so I end up rating it as a 3 star read.  I’m still hoping for that 5 star amazing-ness when the next book comes out later this year though!

Question: What books have blown you away recently or have let you down?

Waiting on Wednesday – Spotlight on Marlena by Julie Buntin

New WoW“Waiting On” Wednesday is a weekly event, hosted at Breaking the Spine, which encourages fellow bloggers to spotlight upcoming releases that we’re excited about.

My “Waiting On” Wednesday selection for this week is Marlena by Julie Buntin. This book first caught my eye because I love books that explore friendships, and based on all of the glowing advance reviews, it sounds like Marlena is going to be a beautiful, powerful, and heartbreaking read. That’s a combination that I’m a sucker for, so I’m really looking forward to getting my hands on this book. It sounds like it has the potential to be one of the best debuts of 2017.

Marlena

by Julie Buntin

Publication Date:  April 4, 2017

From Amazon:

An electric debut novel about love, addiction, and loss; the story of two girls and the feral year that will cost one her life, and define the other’s for decades

Everything about fifteen-year-old Cat’s new town in rural Michigan is lonely and off-kilter, until she meets her neighbor, the manic, beautiful, pill-popping Marlena. Cat, inexperienced and desperate for connection, is quickly lured into Marlena’s orbit by little more than an arched eyebrow and a shake of white-blond hair. As the two girls turn the untamed landscape of their desolate small town into a kind of playground, Cat catalogues a litany of firsts―first drink, first cigarette, first kiss―while Marlena’s habits harden and calcify. Within the year, Marlena is dead, drowned in six inches of icy water in the woods nearby. Now, decades later, when a ghost from that pivotal year surfaces unexpectedly, Cat must try to forgive herself and move on, even as the memory of Marlena keeps her tangled in the past.

Alive with an urgent, unshakable tenderness, Julie Buntin’s Marlena is an unforgettable look at the people who shape us beyond reason and the ways it might be possible to pull oneself back from the brink.

Advance Praise for Marlena:

“The gifted young writer Julie Buntin has written a novel of deep and exquisite intelligence, humor, and riveting sensitivity. A terrific debut.”–Lorrie Moore

“Julie Buntin captures that unique moment at the precipice of adulthood with emotional honesty and insight. She writes the kind of piercing, revelatory sentences you have to read to whomever is near, sentences you find yourself remembering years later.”–Jonathan Safran Foer

“Marlena is absolutely lacerating. The most accurate portrait I’ve read about angst, lust, boredom, and the blindness of youth. It isn’t merely a friendship chronicle, nor is it a profile of a doomed, beautiful girl. It’s the story of a haunting, about the ghosts that never release us and continue to define us. Julie Buntin’s command of her craft is so flawless you forget that it’s fiction. I binge-read Marlena – sick to my stomach, with equal parts fear and nostalgia- stunned that any of us made it out of our adolescence alive.” –Stephanie Danler, author of Sweetbitter

“The true magic of Julie Buntin is she writes stories that feel like your own. This gorgeous, assured debut captures the romance of young friendship, cutting deep with the finest touch.”–Julia Pierpont, author of Among the Ten Thousand Things

“Marlena slayed me. Gorgeously written, with a sense of place so perfect I didn’t even have to close my eyes to pretend I was there, this novel is rich and sensuous and beautifully conceived. Buntin writes about the all-consuming bond between teenage girls with urgency and suspense and despair. I loved every word.”–Anton DiSclafani, bestselling author of The After Party and The Yonahlossee Riding Camp for Girls

“In Marlena, Julie Buntin revitalizes a classic story making it all her own with sensuous, vibrant prose and a narrator who feels deeply even as she feints certain painful truths about herself. In these pages I not only saw my own story, I came to understand it better. Many readers will too. This is a fierce and gorgeous debut.”Edan Lepucki, bestselling author of California

“Sensitive and smart and arrestingly beautiful, debut novelist Buntin’s tale of the friendship between two girls in the woods of Northern Michigan makes coming-of-age stories feel both urgent and new. . . .Buntin creates a world so subtle and nuanced and alive that it imprints like a memory. Devastating; as unforgettable as it is gorgeous.”–Kirkus, starred review

“A keenly observed study of teenage character. . .poignant and unforgettable”
–Publishers Weekly, starred review

“[A] vivid debut. . . .Buntin’s prose is emotional and immediate, and the interior lives she draws of young women and obsessive best friends are Ferrante-esque.” –Booklist, starred review

“I tore through this stunning debut. . . .maddening, complicated, beautiful, essential. . . .Buntin beautifully captures that time in our lives, when our reliance on our friends feels as profound as our need for water or air.”NYLON, 50 Books We Can’t Wait to Read in 2017

“A novel that’s as invigorating and devastating as an intense teenage crush, Marlena is about the people we encounter in life ― no matter how briefly ― who leave a permanent mark. Julie Buntin’s stellar debut has the emotional sophistication of only the very best coming-of-age novels, so it’s no wonder it comes with a glowing blurb from Who Will Run the Frog Hospital author Lorrie Moore.” -Vulture, 25 of the Most Exciting Book Releases for 2017

“A buzzy debut that melds psychological suspense with pure literary fiction, Marlena revolves around the death of the title character, who drowns in just a few inches of icy water as a teenager, and her friendship with the narrator, Cat. “Tell me what you can’t forget,” Cat begins, “and I’ll tell you who you are.” It’s Marlena, and what she did or didn’t do to save her friend, that Cat can never forget or escape ? a constantly expanding conundrum of responsibility, guilt, and self-loathing that novel explores” Huffington Post, 2017 Book Preview

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I’d love to hear what upcoming book releases you’re waiting on this Wednesday? Leave me your link in the comments below and I’ll stop by and check out your WoW selection for this week. 🙂