Where reading is a way of life

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Going Rogue by Robin Benway

320 pages, YA Contemporary, Espionage
Also Known As #2
My rating: 4.5 stars


Being permanently based in a local New York City high school as an undercover operative has its moments, good and bad, for 16-year-old safecracker Maggie Silver. Pros: More quality time with her former mark-turned-boyfriend Jesse Oliver and insanely cool best friend, Roux. Getting to spend quality time with her semi-retired and international spy honorary uncle, Angelo. Cons: High school and the accompanying cliques, bad lunches, and frustratingly simple locker combinations. But when Maggie's parents are falsely accused of stealing priceless gold coins, Maggie uses her safecracking skills to try and clear their names. Too bad it only serves to put her and everyone she loves in danger. Maggie and her "new team" flee to Paris where they must come up with a plan to defeat their former allies.

My 2 cents

The follow up sequel to Also Known As was just as good, if not better! I love this fun world that Benway has created for the reader, and I absolutely love the headstrong MC, Maggie. I also really the supporting characters of Jesse, Roux, and Angelo. 

In this adventure, Maggie's parent's reputation and the family's very way of life is on the line. Maggie must prove her parent's innocence, or they will be kicked out of The Collective. But what starts as a seemly easy case for Maggie soon becomes quite complicated.

What really loved about this one was how high the stakes became. It really ratches up the tension for the reader, as well as the relationships with Maggie and her parents, as well as her relationships with Roux and Jesse. Also the setting felt more "spy." It starts out in NYC, but the last half of the book takes place in Paris, which was so cool! We also get to meet an entire new cast of spy characters, which was really fun!

I'm not sure if Benway has planned any more books for this series, but I'm hoping she does! I really want some more Maggie, Jesse, and Roux!

Friday, January 17, 2014

Book Haul 1/18

This was a pretty quiet week in books for me, although I got some books I am really excited about!  

Review Books

Queen of Hearts by Colleen Oakes
Emilie and The Sky World by Martha Wells
The Garden of Darkness by Gillian Murray Kendall
Better Off Friends by Elizabeth Eulberg 
The Shadow Throne by Jennifer A. Nielsen
The Truth Against the World by Sarah Jamilla Stephenson
Grim by Christine Johnson
The Secret Diamond Sisters by Michelle Madow
Four Seconds to Lose by K.A. Tucker
Fire and Flood by Victoria Scott


Destiny by Cindy Ray Hale
Spychild by Harper Alexander

Library Books

Pantomime by Laura Lam
Shadowplay by Laura Lam
The Coincidence of Callie and Kayden by Jessica Sorenson
Teardrop by Lauren Kate

Purchased Books

Deadly Little Secret by Laurie Faria Stolarz
Hollow City by Ransom Riggs
Horde by Ann Aguirre

What did you get in books this week?

Sometimes Never, Sometimes Always by Elissa Janine Hoole

349 pages, YA Contemporary
My rating: 3.5 stars


Cassandra fears rocking the family boat. Instead, she sinks it. Assigned by her English teacher to write a poem that reveals her true self, Cassandra Randall is stuck. Her family's religion is so overbearing, she can NEVER write about who she truly is. So Cass does what any self-respecting high school girl would do: she secretly begins writing a tarot-inspired advice blog. When Drew Godfrey, an awkward outcast with unwashed hair, writes to her, the situation spirals into what the school calls "a cyberbullying crisis" and what the church calls "sorcery." Cass wants to be the kind of person who sticks up for the persecuted, who protects the victims the way she tries to protect her brother from the homophobes in her church. But what if she's just another bully? What will it take for her to step up and tell the truth?

My 2 cents

This was definitely one the most interesting contemporaries I've read this year. It focuses on Cass and her very religious family. I have very strong feelings about religion in society in general, and this book just confirmed those feelings. I didn't love it, but that may have been a more personal taste kind of thing.

The book itself is good--the writing was excellent, and I wasn't bored at anytime through it. This book might have gotten 4 stars except for the one thing that really irked me--the perpetration of the Tarot. I myself am not Wiccan, but I have used the Tarot for years. And this is one of those subjects that's really hard to portray in a YA novel, so I will forgive the author that. The Tarot was either portrayed as evil Devil's work, or something really silly, kind of like a fortune teller's game. I don't want to get all preachy, but neither is correct. 

Moving on! The part of the novel that had my glued was Cass's older brother, who is gay and trying desperately to hide it from their parents. Cass and her brother are extremely close, and she worries about him. The story has a lot of bullying going on, and I loved how the author took Cass's character, and made her a standby bully with the outcast, Drew, or standby victim, concerning her brother. Cass was really on a tightrope, and the bullying part of the story felt very realistic. This is what made the book so relevant to today's world. I think a lot of people are standby bullies or victims and I loved how the novel showed this in a realistic way.

Thursday, January 16, 2014

Red River by Kelly Van Hull

318 pages, YA Dystopian
Tent City #2
My rating: 4 stars


No one knows Brody’s secret and Dani plans to keep it that way.

It's been seven years since the first plague. Things seem safe - until the river runs red and the blood-filled waters set off a series of catastrophic events. Seeking refuge once again, Dani and her group make their way back to Tent City, unsure of what the future holds. 

Can Dani keep Brody safe long enough to fulfill the prophecy? Who can she trust? Will she be able to bring down The Council before they destroy what she holds most dear? With the plagues looming, is there a bigger threat than just The Council? 

In the midst of chaos, Dani finds love, but is forced to choose between two brothers - the one who can’t live without her and the one she has promised herself to – knowing the decision could destroy their relationship forever. 

Red River is the second book in the Tent City series. It is a young adult dystopian novel of biblical proportions set in the Black Hills of South Dakota.

My 2 cents

*I received a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

I was really excited to continue this story, and to find out what happens next--especially with Brody! Overall, I'd say that I liked this one better than Tent City. I thought the story improved, and we got a little more world building.

We also got to meet, I think, my favorite character of this story, Milo. Milo was awesome, and I really would have liked more scenes with just him and Dani. What I loved was there wasn't a romantic interest between them, that it was just friendship.

I also could have used some more clarity on the Advancements. We start to learn more about them, and how they tie in with Brody and the Plagues, but I was still pretty confused by the end. I also felt like we needed just a bit more action and less of Dani's thoughts. Instead of Dani telling us what was happening, it would have been better to experience it ourselves as readers!

But other than these small gripes, I really enjoyed this story, the characters, and especially the ending. The ending was epicly amazing, which made the book for me!

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Also Known As by Robin Benway

YA Contemporary, Espionage
Also Known As #1
My rating: 4.5 stars


Which is more dangerous: being an international spy... or surviving high school?

Maggie Silver has never minded her unusual life. Cracking safes for the world's premier spy organization and traveling the world with her insanely cool parents definitely beat high school and the accompanying cliques, bad lunches, and frustratingly simple locker combinations. (If it's three digits, why bother locking it at all?)

But when Maggie and her parents are sent to New York City for her first solo assignment, her world is transformed. Suddenly, she's attending a private school with hundreds of "mean girl" wannabes, trying to avoid the temptation to hack the school's elementary security system, and working to befriend the aggravatingly cute son of a potential national security threat... all while trying not to blow her cover.

From the hilarious and poignant author of Audrey, Wait! comes a fast-paced caper that proves that even the world's greatest spies don't have a mission plan for love.

My 2 cents

I really enjoyed reading this book! Totally surprised me! It was a very fun, quick read! Anyone who likes Ally Carter's The Heist Society should really enjoy this one!

So Maggie is a real life spy. She and her parents work for the good guys, an organization called The Collective that takes down the bad guys. Maggie is a born prodigy, and is known as a safecracker. She can break into any lock within minutes. She and her parents work on their cases as a team, and normally she comes in at the very end to "crack open the safe."

But this time is different. After dreaming about it for years, she has her own case to solve in NYC. Her target is a teen boy named Jesse Oliver, a rich "bad" boy type. Maggie soon makes friends with him, and an outcast girl, Roux. She just didn't realize how hard it would be to keep her professional and personal life separate!

I LOVED this story! Maggie was spunky and fun, and I really loved her as an MC. It was hilarous to watch this top-notch spy try to be a normal teen. Drunken parties, detention, failing French pop quizzes--made it so fun to read! Roux was also really spunky and fun, and a total mean girl drama queen. And then there's Jesse, who you couldn't help falling in love with. 

I loved that we got all the contemporary teen drama, complete with parental fights about "curfew", but there was plenty of action, spy work, and mystery. I was totally wrong on who the bad guy was (thankfully!) so I loved the surprise at the end. I can't wait to read the sequel! 

Sunday, January 12, 2014

Book Haul 1/12

Like the picture?  It really has nothing to do with books, its just one I took fairly recently at a very cute little soda fountain/diner.

Anyways, Book Haul time!  Its been a long time since I've done this, so there is quite a bit!  This covers about the last month! Here we go!

Books for Review

Salt by Danielle Ellison
A Million Little Snowflakes by Logan Bryne
The Gleaning by Heidi R. Kling
Witch's Brew by Heidi R. Kling
The Destiny of Violet & Luke by Jessica Sorenson
Masquerade by Nyrae Dawn
The Edge of Always by J. A. Redmerski
The Ever After of Ella and Micha by Jessica Sorenson
Lila and Ethan: Forever and Always by Jessica Sorenson
Knightley & Son by Rohan Gavin
And We Stay by Jenny Hubbard
The Winter Prince by Elizabeth Wein
Windwalker by Natasha Mostert
The Midnight Side by Natasha Mostert
Season of the Witch by Natasha Mostert
Such Sweet Sorrow by Jenny Trout


Crash by Nicole Williams
Taken by Erin Bowman
Imitation by Heather Hildenbrand
In the After by Demitria Lunetta
Through the Ever Night by Veronica Rossi
Touching Melody by Rashelle Workman
Blood and Snow--Vol. 1-4 by Rashelle Workman
The Cindy Chronicles by Rashelle Workman
Text Me by Shana Norris
The Pledge by Kimberly Derting
Tragic by J.A. Huss
Unraveling by Elizabeth Norris
Soulless by Gail Carriger
Broken Silence by Natasha Preston
Silence by Natasha Preston
Water by Terra Harmony
Witch Song by Amber Argyle
Steelheart by Brandon Sanderson
Starters by Lissa Price
Not a Drop to Drink by Mindy McGinnis
Mila 2.0 by Debra Driza
The Red Pyramid by Rick Riordan
Lady of Devices by Shelly Adina
In Your Dreams by Amy Martin

Library Books

Incarnate by Jodi Meadows
The Impossible Knife of Memory by Laurie Halse Anderson
Meant to Be by Lauren Merrill
Also Known As by Robin Benway
Impossible by Nancy Werlin
Unthinkable by Nancy Werlin
School of Fear by Gitty Daneshvari
The School of Good and Evil by Soman Chainani
Curtsies and Conspiracies by Gail Carriger
Frozen by Melissa De La Cruz and Michael Johnston

Purchased books

Dreaming Anastasia by Joy Preble
Black City by Elizabeth Richards
The Pretty One by Lucinda Rosenfeld
A Conspiracy of Alchemists by Liesel Schwarz
A Clockwork Heart by Liesel Schwarz

Christmas Present

I only got one bookish present this year, but that's all right, because its all I really wanted and asked for!  I got the new set of HP books--aren't they beautiful?  Unfortunately, the box case was damaged somehow after it was wrapped, and I need to fix it.  But the books are absolutely beautiful!

So that was my haul for the last month!  Any books look interesting? Any comments on ones you've read?  Leave comments below!

These Broken Stars by Amie Kaufman and Meagan Spooner

YA Sci-Fi, 374 pages
Starbound #1
My rating: 5 stars


It's a night like any other on board the Icarus. Then, catastrophe strikes: the massive luxury spaceliner is yanked out of hyperspace and plummets into the nearest planet. Lilac LaRoux and Tarver Merendsen survive. And they seem to be alone. 

Lilac is the daughter of the richest man in the universe. Tarver comes from nothing, a young war hero who learned long ago that girls like Lilac are more trouble than they’re worth. But with only each other to rely on, Lilac and Tarver must work together, making a tortuous journey across the eerie, deserted terrain to seek help. 

Then, against all odds, Lilac and Tarver find a strange blessing in the tragedy that has thrown them into each other’s arms. Without the hope of a future together in their own world, they begin to wonder—would they be better off staying here forever?

Everything changes when they uncover the truth behind the chilling whispers that haunt their every step. Lilac and Tarver may find a way off this planet. But they won’t be the same people who landed on it.


A timeless love story, THESE BROKEN STARS sets into motion a sweeping science fiction series of companion novels. The Starbound Trilogy: Three worlds. Three love stories. One enemy.

My 2 cents

AMAZING 5 star read!!

Seriously, this was one of my favorite books I read in 2013. It was totally fresh and new and exciting, and also very surprising how much I loved it!

I would classify this one as YA sci-fi/romance. Basically this takes place in the far future in space. We have Lilac, the daughter of one of the richest men in the universe. She is basically like a spoiled princess, but there is more to her than meets the eye. Then we have Tarver, a soldier who is somewhat of a hero, even though he really wants nothing to do with the upper class society.

Lilac and Tarver end up being the only survivors on a huge space ship, and crash land on a strange planet. Things are not looking good for them--they don't know where they are, and all of their radio equipment has been destroyed. They set off on a journey across the planet to find the wreck of the big shape ship, and hopefully, find a rescue team there.

Lilac and Tarver can't stand each other and have almost nothing in common, but at the same time, they must rely on each other for survival. And so a strange love/hate relationship blossoms.
At the same time, there is obviously something really strange about the planet. Lilac keeps hearing whispers, and strange events soon start taking place. 

What I loved about this book--the setting, the characters (so likable, realistic and fun!), the mystery, the twists (one of them literally made my heart skip a beat!), and the plot. 

What I didn't like about this book? Absolutely nothing. This book was perfection from beginning to end! Anyone who likes sci-fi/fantasy at all will want to read this. Anyone who loves a believable romance WITHOUT A LOVE TRIANGLE will want to read this! This book completely transcends it genre, and its hard for me to imagine anyone NOT liking this one! 

Tent City by Kelly Van Hull

YA Dystopian, 278 pages
Tent City #1
My rating: 4 stars


After a devastating plague, introverted 17-year-old Dani Campbell and her family find themselves living in a very different America, one run by a cult-like leader, who forces children to move to "safety camps" designed to protect the human race. Encouraged to flee by her parents, Dani and her five-year-old brother seek refuge in the Black Hills of South Dakota. On the run with danger around every corner, Dani must fight to ensure their survival in this new world while trying to unmask the mystery of how it all came to be.

My 2 cents

I received an ecopy of this book in exchange for a honest review.

Tent City is a start of a new dystopian series that is unlike any I've read so far. While reading it, I was actually thinking of the book In the Forest of Hands and Teeth by Carrie Ryan. Although the plots are really not the same at all, it just had that dark, religious fervor kind of feel. The actual concept of the novel and the atmosphere of it was definitely my favorite things about Tent City!

Basically, in this future world, or world has gone to crap, and there is a new government (run by what's called The Council) and headed by a religious prophet (or so he calls himself), Burke. Burke is plain evil and has started taking all the children to "safe" camps. Dani is 17, and her parents ask her to run away to her uncle's cabin in the middle of nowhere in South Dakota with her little brother, Brody (who is 5). Only when they get there, a whole group of rebel kids have taken over the cabins and surrounding area and started "Tent City."

Bentley is the head of Tent City, and he and Dani immediately feel a connection. But even though Dani is attracted to him, she meets another boy by the name of Jack, and so somewhat of a love triangle results, even though its obvious both boys are hiding some big things from Dani.

My biggest problem with the story was all of the secrets. It frankly drove me crazy in how not only where there so many secrets being kept, but that Dani wasn't trying too hard to get to the bottom of things. Certain scenes were just frustrating to read.

Things I loved about this book? There were many! Like I said, the setting and atmosphere, a decent amount of action, the originality of the plot, the characters--especially Jack, Brody, and Jonah. I wasn't a huge fan of the MC, Dani, just because I got a little tired of her sarcasm. But I still liked her enough to sympathize with her plight. 

The ending of this one was beyond amazing! I kind of wish the rest of the book had been as good! Really, the ending is what bumped it up to 4 stars for me, until then it was more like a 3.5 maybe. But be forewarned, there is a big cliffhanger, so you will want to have Red River all ready to read!

Thursday, January 9, 2014

Q&A with Cristin Terrill, Author of All Our Yesterdays!

Right now, Cristin Terrill is making an appearance on my favorite Goodreads group, David Estes Fans and YA Book Lovers Unite!  She has been just awesome, and answering some amazing questions!

Here are a few of my faves:

 Karen--How did you decide on this story and how the heck do you keep up with all the times and interweaving that a time travel story needs?

Cristin--The idea for the story came from a hundred different places, but I can trace the bulk of it back to three different elements coming together. 

a) One night when I couldn't sleep I ended up watching THE TERMINATOR on cable and started wondering what the story would be like if the killer robot from the future was actually the good guy instead of the villain. Then, because I write YA, I wondered what it would be like if he was a teenage girl. 

b) I have this theory about teen television (of which I watch waaaaay too much) that the best friend/brother of the Obvious Love Interest always ends up being the more interesting and usually more suitable love interest, but I always wanted to try to make that dynamic work in a book.

c) I was looking at old pictures of myself from high school and thinking about how I wasn't nearly the hideous loser I was convinced I was at sixteen. 

Those three things eventually came together in my head and formed the main backbone of ALL OUR YESTERDAYS. 

As for keeping track of the various timelines and plot elements, I tried to create about a hundred different systems for keeping that stuff straight (spreadsheets, notecards, mind maps, you name it), but in the end nothing really worked for me except sitting down and THINKING THROUGH every step. So I spent a LOT of my time writing this book with my head down on my desk trying to figure out just what the hell was going on. It was a real mental challenge to write sometimes, and my brain usually felt like oatmeal by the end of the day. 

Carl--All Our Yesterdays ended with most of the plot threads apparently tied up. In general terms, where can the sequel go? 

Cristin--I get this question a lot, because, yes, the book does end with very few loose ends so everyone wants to know what can possibly happen to the characters after AOY ends. Buuuuut since this is a universe where time travel can exist, the story doesn't have to be about what happens to them after AOY. 

Mimi--Do you think time travel is actually possible?

Cristin--Time travel IS possible. It happens every day, although so minutely that we don't notice. Time and space are inversely linked, so if you're traveling very quickly, time actually slows down for you. So if you took a plane to China, you would have aged very slightly less than someone who wasn't on that plane. If you extrapolate that, space travelers could travel for a year in space and come home to find that fifty years have passed on Earth. But I seriously doubt the kind of time travel that exists in ALL OUR YESTERDAYS will ever exist. Most physicists agree that time travel to the past is probably impossible given how we think the universe works. 

Theses are just a few of my faves!!

If you want to read some more, or ask your own questions of Cristin, head on over to THIS THREAD to join on in!  AND there is a GIVEAWAY for participants!  Cristin is giving away a signed copy of All Our Yesterdays as well as some signed bookmarks!  The Q&A ends on Sunday, Jan. 12th.  

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Wishlist Wednesday 1/8

Wishlist Wednesday is a blog hop meme hosted by Pen to Paperwhere we will post about one book per week that has been on our wishlist for some time, or just added (it's entirely up to you), that we can't wait to get off the wishlist and onto our wonderful shelves.

I haven't participated in this meme in quite awhile!  I have so many on my wishlist right now--so many new releases coming out that I can't wait to own!  Why is everything releasing in January?  Don't these publishers realize we have no money left after Christmas?  

Anywho, today's Wishlist Wednesday is...

The Offering by Kimberly Derting
True love—and world war—is at stake in the conclusion to The Pledge trilogy, a dark and romantic blend of dystopia and fantasy.
Charlie, otherwise known as Queen Charlaina of Ludania, has become comfortable as a leader and a ruler. She’s done admirable work to restore Ludania’s broken communications systems with other Queendoms, and she’s mastered the art of ignoring Sabara, the evil former queen whose Essence is alive within Charlie. Or so she thinks.

When the negotiation of a peace agreement with the Queendom of Astonia goes awry, Charlie receives a brutal message that threatens Ludania, and it seems her only option is to sacrifice herself in exchange for Ludanian freedom.

But things aren’t always as they seem. Charlie is walking into a trap—one set by Sabara, who is determined to reclaim the Queendoms at any cost.

I'm beyond excited for the final book in this wonderful dystopian/fantasy!  And I'm always excited by anything that Kimberly Derting writes!

So what is on your wishlist this Wednesday?

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Favorite Fantasy of 2013

Fantasy is my all time favorite genre.  Ever.  Nothing is better to me than a world I can totally lose myself in!  I read some amazing fantasy this year! The following books are all very different--lots of high fantasy, Russian fantasy, Middle Grade, magic, monsters, and amazing book boyfriends.  If you love fantasy, I STRONGLY recommend reading any of the following!

10. Bound (Mirrors of Bershan) by J. Elizabeth Hill

9. A Monster Calls by Patrick Ness

8. Shadow & Bone and Siege & Storm by Leigh Bardugo

7. Far, Far Away by Tom McNeal

6. The False Prince and The Runaway King by Jennifer A. Nielsen

5. Fyre by Angie Sage

4. Daughter of Smoke and Bone by Laini Taylor

3. Throne of Glass and Crown of Midnight by Sarah J. Maas

2. Asunder by Jodi Meadows

1. Crown of Embers and The Bitter Kingdom by Rae Carson

What was your favorite fantasy you read in 2013?

Sunday, January 5, 2014

Favorite Historical Fiction in 2013

I don't read a lot of historical, especially in YA...but this year I kept getting recommends from friends that I must "read this book!" The majority took place during World War II.  And let's face it, you can never know too much about that era! 
Looking forward to reading a lot more historical in 2014!

6. Keeping the Castle by Patrice Kindl

5. Briar Rose by Jane Yolen

4. Last Days of Summer by Steve Kluger

3. Out of the Easy by Ruta Sepetys

2. Code Name Verity by Elizabeth Wein

1. The Book Thief by Marcus Zusak

What about you?  Did you get to read any historical in 2013?

Saturday, January 4, 2014

Favorite Suspense/Mysteries in 2013

Ever since I was a kid and fell in love with Nancy Drew books, I have loved mysteries.  I also really love suspenseful stories, and the creepier the better!  Any book that you have to read with all the lights blazing and your door locked are worth a read for me!  I love being deliciously scared, but I do recommend reading the following during the daytime!

8. The Dark Unwinding and A Spark Unseen by Sharon Cameron

7. Deadly Little Lessons by Laurie Faria Stolarz

6. Catherine by April Lindner

5. The Diviners by Libba Bray

4. I Hunt Killers by Barry Lyga

3. Dead Silence by Kimberly Derting

2. Name of the Star and The Madness Underneath by Maureen Johnson

1. Notes From Ghost Town by Kate Ellison

What books did you read in 2013 that gave you the chills?