Thursday, December 31, 2015

The Children's Home ~ Charles Lambert (earc) review [@charles_lambert @ScribnerBooks]

The Children's Home
Scribner
January 5, 2016
224 pages
add to Goodreads/buy from Book Depository/or Amazon


For fans of Shirley Jackson, Neil Gaiman, Roald Dahl, and Edward Gorey, a beguiling and disarming debut novel from an award-winning British author about a mysterious group of children who appear to a disfigured recluse and his country doctor,and the startling revelations their behavior evokes.

In a sprawling estate, willfully secluded, lives Morgan Fletcher, the disfigured heir to a fortune of mysterious origins. Morgan spends his days in quiet study, avoiding his reflection in mirrors and the lake at the end of his garden. One day, two children, Moira and David, appear. Morgan takes them in, giving them free reign of the mansion he shares with his housekeeper Engel. Then more children begin to show up.

Dr. Crane, the town physician and Morgan's lone tether to the outside world, is as taken with the children as Morgan, and begins to spend more time in Morgan's library. But the children behave strangely. They show a prescient understanding of Morgan's past, and their bizarre discoveries in the mansion attics grow increasingly disturbing. Every day the children seem to disappear into the hidden rooms of the estate, and perhaps, into the hidden corners of Morgan's mind.

The Children's Home is a genre-defying, utterly bewitching masterwork, an inversion of modern fairy tales like The Chronicles of Narnia and The Golden Compass, in which children visit faraway lands to accomplish elusive tasks. Lambert writes from the perspective of the visited, weaving elements of psychological suspense, Jamesian stream of consciousness, and neo-gothic horror, to reveal the inescapable effects of abandonment, isolation, and the grotesque - as well as the glimmers of goodness - buried deep within the soul.

The Children's Home was an interesting, kind of strange and confusing read for me. The writing itself reminded me more of short stories than of a novel (fitting, I suppose, as the author has also written short stories). The premise: a recluse living on a secluded estate befriends the town doctor and cares for the children that being appearing.

The children, their appearances, how Morgan reacts, the introduction of Dr Crane to their lives, and Morgan's past were all very intriguing. It is very much not your typical tale and trying to figure out what was happening and what was going to happen kept me reading.

It always seemed like we were getting odd bits of the story and characters, sometimes it was clear that it was important or would be, other times I wasn't sure of the why.

I know the ending represented something and that it was a big metaphor or allegory or whatever, but it really just ended up not making sense to me. There did not seem to be enough lead up to it and then it seemed rather rushed.

I liked the author's creativity with the children, their appearance and behavior, even Morgan, his past and how it was impacting his life. I think that how the story was told, the writing style and the short length just did not allow me to get everything out of this that I could have. Or wanted to.





review copy received, via NetGalley, from publisher

Wednesday, December 30, 2015

This Is Where It Ends ~ Marieke Nijkamp (earc) review [@SourcebooksFire @mariekeyn]

This is Where it Ends
Sourcebooks Fire
January 5, 2016
292 pages
add to Goodreads/buy from Book Depository/or Amazon


10:00 a.m.
The principal of Opportunity, Alabama's high school finishes her speech, welcoming the entire student body to a new semester and encouraging them to excel and achieve.

10:02 a.m.
The students get up to leave the auditorium for their next class.

10:03
The auditorium doors won't open.

10:05
Someone starts shooting.

Told over the span of 54 harrowing minutes from four different perspectives, terror reigns as one student's calculated revenge turns into the ultimate game of survival.
This is Where it Ends is told from four points of view: Autumn, Claire, Sylv and Tomas. Each of them is somehow connected to the others and also connected to the gunman. Whether it is their relationship - past or ongoing - with him that connects them, their own friendship or familial ties, there is something more that connecting them to the situation.

As those fifty-four minutes pass for the students - our narrators and others - there is, of course, the fear, horror and uncertainty, but we also build a deeper connection with the characters through their narrations. We learn not only who they are - or were - to each other, but about the good moments and the bad, what made (or makes) their relationships special. We see how much they care for others that are in danger, some that they can help, some that it seems an impossibility.

We also learn how it is they are connected to the young man who came into the auditorium with a gun.

I thought that the way the characters lives had intersected in the past, the relationships they currently had, and how everything played on and impacted everything else was very nicely done. It allows readers to get a fuller picture of the characters and who they are (outside of that auditorium on that morning) while not every pulling you away from that tense, anxious, horrific, dangerous situation.

There is, understandably, a lot of violence and, even, death in This Is Where it Ends and it surprised me how effective the almost matter-of-factness of it worked. People get shot. People die. It is there, it is graphic, it is horrifying and heartbreaking. Yet, somehow, how it happens without a always a lot of lead-in or follow-up, made it more real.

One seemingly smaller part of the novel that I really appreciated was the inclusion of texts, tweets and blog posts. It was only at the end of chapters, but it managed to bring the outside world in a bit, to show us how those removed from the situation were reacting. It was a very current, nice touch.

I do wish there had been a slight bit more about Sylv's mother and what her illness was. I definitely have guesses but I got slightly distracted thinking about it since it was never stated.(or I don't believe so).







digital review copy received, thanks to publisher, via NetGalley

Waiting On Wednesday [@michaelwbuckley @hmhkids]

Waiting On Wednesday is hosted by Breaking the Spine

My pick for this week:



RAGING SEA (Undertow #2) by Michael Buckley

In the first book of Michael Buckley’s Undertow trilogy, the Alpha arrived and the world was never the same. At the start of the second book, most of south Brooklyn is in ruins and the nation is terrified. Nearly everyone that Lyric Walker loves is either missing or presumed dead, including the mesmerizing prince Fathom. It’s up to Lyric to unite the Alpha before the second wave of a cataclysmic invasion wipes out mankind for good. The Undertow trilogy is an unforgettable reading experience that author E. Lockhart calls, "Allegorical and romantic, the book nevertheless reads like an action movie with especially awesome CGI."


published February 2nd by HMH Books for Young Readers

add to your Goodreads shelf // pre-order from Book Depo // or Amazon


Why?


The end of Michael Buckley's Undertow (review) was my favorite part! When the whole story: the characters, the action, what it all meant and everything that had happened came together, I loved it. The first book's ending has me really excited to find out what happens in Raging Sea

All of the Alpha, what they looked like and their society was a very unique idea and I am also looking forward to reading more about them and about Lyric - especially now that we know more about everyone!



That's my pick for this week, what's yours? Tell me in the comments and/or link me to your own post!

Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Life at the Speed of Us ~ Heather Sappenfield (earc) review [@fluxbooks @alpineheather]

Life at the Speed of Us
Flux
January 8, 2016
384 pages
add to Goodreads/buy from Book Depository/or Amazon


Silence is safe. Fate is not.

When Sovern Briggs survives a car crash, she stops talking to seal in the memory of the final sounds from her mother’s life. As conflict with her father builds and failure in school looms, Sovern seeks relief in a dangerous boyfriend and in speed’s adrenaline edge. These needs collide, leading Sovern to a snowboarding accident that changes her future and perhaps that of our universe.

Life at the Speed of Us weaves dyslexia, math, cutting-edge science, genius, and love into a young woman’s reluctant journey toward grace.
Life at the Speed of Us is definitely different, maybe even a bit weird. It is definitely not what I was expecting.

Sovern was a character different from any other i have read. After the car accident that killed her mother, but she survived, Sovern has nearly stopped speaking. She is not who she was before the accident, but much of that is on purpose. Now,she spends her time with her boyfriend and snowboarding on the mountain their town holds. Thanks to her dyslexia, school has never been easy for Sovern so she feels no remorse at frequently ditching for more time on the mountain. So long as she doesn't miss math.

Math is the one thing that has always worked for Sovern.

Now, after events that seem as though they should be impossible, math, quantum physics and her own instincts become more important to Sovern than anything else.

The way that Sovern's dyslexia, her love of and talent for math, quantum physics, her grief for her mother, her likely damaging coping techniques and porcupines all come together in Life at the Speed of Us is really quite something. It brings readers and characters alike into worlds they likely have never imagined and poses some very thought provoking questions.

I liked that the things Sovern discovers were not just, 'and then this happens,' without any sort of explanation. Even if the explanation was theoretical or not all together understood yet. The way quantum physics and what may be possible in science were a part of not only the action and plot but of Sovern's character and her self discoveries was really well done.

I do still have some trouble reconciling Sovern's initial reason for not speaking with her love of math and later quantum physics. It still seems very far from the facts she likes. I understand, however, that the decision, the path it and her mother's death had her on were, along with the math and science, her relationships and even where she lived, absolutely crucial to the novel and how everything worked.







review copy received, via NetGalley, from publisher

Top Ten Tuesday: Anticipated 2016 Releases (Pt 1)


This week's Ten:
Top Ten Most Anticipated Releases For The First Half of 2016





A Study in Charlotte by Brittany Cavallaro

The Mystery of Hollow Places by Rebecca Podos

If I Was Your Girl by Meredith Russo



Glass Sword (Red Queen #2) by Victoria Aveyard



Please leave a comment and let me know what books, coming in the first half of 2016, you are most anticipating - and if you're looking forward to any of the same ones I am!

Monday, December 28, 2015

Thicker Than Water ~ Brigid Kemmerer (earc) review [@KensingtonBooks @BrigidKemmerer]

Thicker Than water
Kensington Books
December 29, 2015
432 pages
add to Goodreads/buy from Book Depository/or Amazon


On his own

Thomas Bellweather hasn’t been in town long. Just long enough for his newlywed mother to be murdered, and for his new stepdad’s cop colleagues to decide Thomas is the primary suspect.

Not that there’s any evidence. But before Thomas got to Garretts Mill there had just been one other murder in twenty years.

The only person who believes him is Charlotte Rooker, little sister to three cops and, with her soft hands and sweet curves, straight-up dangerous to Thomas. Her best friend was the other murder vic. And she’d like a couple answers.

Answers that could get them both killed, and reveal a truth Thomas would die to keep hidden…
Thicker than Water is a much more compelling and addictive read than I was expecting. This book is definitely hard to put down. Both Thomas and the mystery of who killed his mother are intriguing from the start and make you want to - or need to - read more.

He is new in town, having only recently moved their with her mother after her marriage to a local police officer. Now, with his mother murdered and Thomas the suspect, he is incredibly alone. His lack of support, both in terms of anyone believing him and in having anyone who even really knows him (aside from his step-father) puts him in an interesting situation.

And that is where Charlotte Rooker comes in. She isn't so read to believe Thomas is the murderer everyone seems to think he is. Though her three cop brothers and cop father are doing everything they can to show her she's wrong.

They're not going to give Thomas a pass because of what she thinks or feels.

Thomas and Charlotte were great characters and seemed to make a great pair. In some ways they were opposites (Thomas has no one, no one's worrying about him; Charlotte has a big, caring family, all being (over)protective of her and her well being) but it caused their personalities to be somewhat similar. Though Thomas is, understandably, more cynical they both had those snarky reactions and thoughts.

The way they could be so similar and then interpret or react to things so very differently made their story, relationship and characters a lot of fun to read.

I was not very sure when, later in the book, things moved from a mystery to more of a paranormal mystery. It was a bit strange and, at first, seemed like it came out of nowhere to be the big explanation. The more information was given or discovered, the more it did fit together with the earlier parts of the story.

As a standalone, I am not sure how I feel about the ending. It does conclude the main mystery, but leaves a lot of things open (and, unless I missed it, does not fully explain one fairly major part). I hope there is a sequel, a novella, or that this will be a series and provide us more of those answers.

I am not sold on the paranormal twist the book took nor how things were (or were not) wrapped up but I loved the characters and how much the beginning makes you want to keep reading, reading, reading..



Another Book You May Also Enjoy: Vendetta (Blood for Blood #1) by Catherine Doyle




review copy received, via NetGalley, from publisher

Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Waiting On Wednesday [@goldywrites @scholastic]

Waiting On Wednesday is hosted by Breaking the Spine

My pick for this week:



KILL THE BOY BAND by Goldy Moldavsky

From debut author Goldy Moldavsky, the story of four superfan friends whose devotion to their favorite boy band has darkly comical and murderous results.

Okay, so just know from the start that it wasn't supposed to go like this. All we wanted was to get near The Ruperts, our favorite boy band.

We didn't mean to kidnap one of the guys. It kind of, sort of happened that way. But now he's tied up in our hotel room. And the worst part of all, it's Rupert P. All four members of The Ruperts might have the same first name, but they couldn't be more different. And Rupert P. is the biggest flop out of the whole group.

We didn't mean to hold hostage a member of The Ruperts, I swear. At least, I didn't. We are fans. Okay, superfans who spend all of our free time tweeting about the boys and updating our fan tumblrs. But so what, that's what you do when you love a group so much it hurts.

How did it get this far? Who knows. I mean midterms are coming up. I really do not have time to go to hell.

published February 23rd by Point

add to your Goodreads shelf // pre-order from Book Depo // or Amazon


Why?



The name Rupert is probably always going to make me think of Rupert Giles from Buffy, but I am kind of loving the idea of a boy band named The Ruperts - where they are each named Rupert!


Then, that the group of girls are superfans who don't mean to kidnap one of the Ruperts, but "It kind of, sort of happened that way"? I very much need to know how you kind of happen to kidnap a member of a famous boy band and hold him hostage.

I mean, how? 

Also, that they're still worried about (or even aware of) their midterms? I have some definite questions about these girls, but also cannot wait to read about what they get up to. (And the why/how/hunh?! of it all, of course.)

This sounds like a fun, maybe funny, perhaps dark and likely drama filled read. It is one I am looking forward to.

The cover also has me intrigued. I almost don't like it but at the same time, I do like that it's simple and stark. It definitely gets that title in your face.




That's my pick for this week, what's yours? Tell me in the comments and/or link me to your own post!

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

The Cage ~ Megan Shepherd review [@megan_shepherd @harperteen]

The Cage (The Cage #1)
Balzer + Bray
May 26, 2015
400 pages
add to Goodreads/buy from Book Depository/or Amazon

The Maze Runner meets Scott Westerfeld in this gripping new series about teens held captive in a human zoo by an otherworldly race. From Megan Shepherd, the acclaimed author of The Madman's Daughter trilogy.

When Cora Mason wakes in a desert, she doesn't know where she is or who put her there. As she explores, she finds an impossible mix of environments—tundra next to desert, farm next to jungle, and a strangely empty town cobbled together from different cultures—all watched over by eerie black windows. And she isn't alone.

Four other teenagers have also been taken: a beautiful model, a tattooed smuggler, a secretive genius, and an army brat who seems to know too much about Cora's past. None of them have a clue as to what happened, and all of them have secrets. As the unlikely group struggles for leadership, they slowly start to trust each other. But when their mysterious jailer—a handsome young guard called Cassian—appears, they realize that their captivity is more terrifying than they could ever imagine: Their captors aren't from Earth. And they have taken the five teenagers for an otherworldly zoo—where the exhibits are humans.

As a forbidden attraction develops between Cora and Cassian, she realizes that her best chance of escape might be in the arms of her own jailer—though that would mean leaving the others behind. Can Cora manage to save herself and her companions? And if so . . . what world lies beyond the walls of their cage?

After reading The Madman's Daughter, I knew I wanted to read The Cage. Of course, the 'human zoo' aspect of it didn't hurt either. It was surprising just how different The Cage is from The Madman's Daughter and just how much I loved it.

It reminded me a bit of if you took this (from The 100):

and mixed in the Supernatural episode, 'All Hell Breaks Loose (Part 1)' with Sam and the other characters waking up in the abandoned town, not knowing where they are, why they are there, who brought them there, who the others are and if they're safe or to be trusted.


It's great that we readers start out just as confused and lost as the characters. They've woken up in a confusing, unexplaineable place and we don't knows any more than they do. Then everyone gets to try to piece everything together as they explore their new 'world'

With chapters narrated by different characters, we see their differing views of not only their surroundings but of each other - and get to learn about who they are, or were. That they are each keeping secrets, from the world as a whole and now from each other adds a nice layer to the story.
While they struggle to discover where they are (not to mention why) and if they can get home, they also have to function (or fail) as a group. The different trials they face, individually and together, along with those secrets and who they want the others to see them as combine for some believable and interesting tension.

Where they end up being, why and who put them there was unexpected (okay, not if you read the full summary) and I am looking forward to seeing more of that explored in the latter books

Plus when you have a character who reminds me of this guy, looks-wise, that's just fun.



Top Ten Tuesday: (Hopeful) Books from Santa


This week's Ten:
Top Ten Books I Wouldn't Mind Santa Leaving Under My Tree This Year

To make narrowing it down to only ten books and to remind myself of the 2015 books I still really want to read, I am limiting this to books released in 2015 that I have not yet read.

Even When You Lie to Me by Jessica Alcott


Wild Crush (Wild Cards #2) by Simone Elkeles

Pretending to be Erica by Michelle Painchaud


Signal (Sam Dryden #2) by Patrick Lee


Anne & Henry by Dawn Ius



(I would gladly read thees but since I listened to the audio version of Crossing the Ice [review] I am going to dare to be specific with these and say I'd prefer the audio version.)


Charisma by Jeanne Ryan


Making Pretty by Corey Ann Haydu



Yard War by Taylor Kitchings


Please leave a comment and let me know what books you wouldn't mind Santa (or some other, less Christian being/person) leaving you this year - or if there are any 2015 releases you're still hoping to read!

Monday, December 21, 2015

This Raging Light ~ Estelle Laure (earc) review [@starlaure @HMHKids]

This Raging Light
HMH Books for Young Readers
December 22, 2015
288 pages
add to Goodreads/buy from Book Depository/or Amazon

Can the best thing happen at the worst time?

Her dad went crazy. Her mom left town. She has bills to pay and a little sister to look after. Now is not the time for level-headed seventeen-year-old Lucille to fall in love. But love—messy, inconvenient love—is what she's about to experience when she falls for Digby Jones, her best friend's brother. With blazing longing that builds to a fever pitch, Estelle Laure's soulful debut will keep readers hooked and hoping until the very last page.

I love when, whatever the why, I am not that sure I want to read a book but then I do . . . and I love it! It is such a fantastic surprise. This Raging Light was definitely a surprise to me.

I think a lot of that was that the summary bills the novel as a romance, promising Lucille falling for Diby is a main focus. Really, though, so much more is about Lucille, her little sister Wren and how they, Lucille, especially, must cope when their mother's 'vacation' goes on longer than anticipated.

Lucille has to figure out not only getting herself ready for senior year, but also Wren's first day of fourth grade, keeping their mother's absence secret from the adults around them, knowing what to tell her sister, and how to keep them both fed and okay. It is a lot for one teenage girl to handle, even with the help of her best friend Eden and form some unexpected sources.

While the circumstances are extraordinary, I enjoyed that Lucille's character - her friendship with Eden, her crush on Digby, her relationship, worries and care for Wren, her own doubts and questions -- was so real and easy to relate to. She wasn't someone with super powers, she didn't have all of the answers or always do the smartest thing. But she was trying. What she did do, her feelings, thoughts and decisions made sense.

Even when it seemed she wasn't quite keeping it all together, when things were just about to fall apart, you have to admire how well she is doing and you hope for things to work out. Whether or not the 'how' of that is easily discernible.

The romance is present, not nearly as central as the summary would make it seem, but it is there. While I enjoyed it - how the characters were with each other, the difficulties they faced, how things evolved, it is not what I am going to remember This Raging Light for. Rather, it is Lucille's strength, her love for her family, and all that she finds out about herself that I will keep with me.











review copy received, via NetGalley, from publisher
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