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Tag Archives: ALA 2013

17290271My Basmati Bat Mitzvah by Paula J. Freedman
Release Date: October 1, 2013
Publisher: Harry N. Abrams
Source: ALA2013
Rating: starstarstarstarblank_star
Buy It: Amazon | IndieBound

During the fall leading up to her bat mitzvah, Tara (Hindi for “star”) Feinstein has a lot more than her Torah portion on her mind. Between Hebrew school and study sessions with the rabbi, there doesn’t seem to be enough time to hang out with her best friend Ben-o–who might also be her boyfriend–and her other best friend, Rebecca, who’s getting a little too cozy with that snotty Sheila Rosenberg. Not to mention working on her robotics project with the class clown Ryan Berger, or figuring out what to do with a priceless heirloom sari that she accidentally ruined. Amid all this drama, Tara considers how to balance her Indian and Jewish identities and what it means to have a bat mitzvah while questioning her faith. – Goodreads

Review:

I adore this book. My only regret is that I did not read it sooner. My Basmati Bat Mitzvah is the story of Tara who is not sure of herself. Not only is she in middle school (which is the toughest period for anyone), but she’s also fighting between being too Indian and too Jewish. While both of her parents love her and obviously want just want what’s best for Tara, Tara isn’t sure herself.

Does she believe in God enough to have her Bat Mitzvah? Tara is such an adorable middle grade character that I spend most of my time wanting to hug and squeeze and tell her that she would be okay. Maybe not at that moment, but she would be. She’s scared she’s lost her best friend, she’s scared she’s falling for her other friend. What Freedman did was create a universal story that captures the feeling of middle school. Tara loves movie nights with her best friend, she deal And she continues to practice for a Bat Mitzvah, where a good portion of her classmates are either making fun of her for being half Indian or the fact her mother isn’t really Jewish because she converted.

It wasn’t too long ago that Id almost lost Rebecca–I’d taken her for granted, and she went and found herself another best friend. That should have woken me up, but it hadn’t. Probably I was a very terrible person.–ARC pg 210

I loved Tara. I loved how relatable she was. I loved that she was jealous, that she questioned things, that she worried that she ruined a family heirloom. She wasn’t a perfect character, but her growth throughout My Basmati Bat Mitzvah was amazing. What was awesome was that Freedman had major character growth for multiple characters and she wrote a book which includes the parents! You know what I love in Middle Grade books and Young Adult books? When parents are featured. I have a friend that calls them a mythical unicorn and it’s true! It’ so rare but when they’re done, and done well, it’s worth it.

Although I waited far too long to read My Basmati Bat Mitzvah it quickly became a new favorite.


18196040The Walled City by Ryan Graudin
Release Date: November 4, 2014
Publisher: Little Brown
Source: Netgalley
Buy It: Amazon | IndieBound

Review: I tried to pick it up a few times and every time I just could not find myself to care. There are too many books in the world for me to read/care about. This was not one of them.

 

 

 

 

18106985Exquisite Captive (Dark Caravan Cycle #1) by Heather Demetrios
Release Date: October 7, 2014
Publisher: Balzer+Bray
Source: ALA2014
Buy It: Amazon | IndieBound

Review: Never jumped off the page and excited me. It annoyed me more than anything. I may go back and pick it up in the future, but at the moment with my long TBR pile there are too many books out there.

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The Waking Dark by Robin Wasserman
Release Date: September 10, 2013
Publisher: Little Brown
Source: ALA2013
Buy It: Amazon | IndieBound

Review: I made it to 12% and was bored out of my mind. Maybe it’s wrong book, wrong time. I may come back to it later. But there were so many side stories it was hard to stay concentrated.


13206828Cress (Lunar Chronicles #3) by Marissa Meyer
Release Date: February 4, 2014
Publisher: Feiwel & Friends
Source: ALA 2013
Rating: starstarstarblank_starblank_star
Buy It: Amazon | IndieBound

Rapunzel’s tower is a satellite. She can’t let down her hair—or her guard.

In this third book in the bestselling Lunar Chronicles series, Cinder and Captain Thorne are fugitives on the run, with Scarlet and Wolf in tow. Together, they’re plotting to overthrow Queen Levana and her army.

Their best hope lies with Cress, who has been trapped on a satellite since childhood with only her netscreens as company. All that screen time has made Cress an excellent hacker—unfortunately, she’s just received orders from Levana to track down Cinder and her handsome accomplice.

When a daring rescue goes awry, the group is separated. Cress finally has her freedom, but it comes at a high price. Meanwhile, Queen Levana will let nothing stop her marriage to Emperor Kai. Cress, Scarlet, and Cinder may not have signed up to save the world, but they may be the only ones who can. – Goodreads

Review:

It took me months to read this book. Months. And that breaks my heart because I really enjoy this series, but I could not get into Cress and I tried.  I first read a good portion of it and then I had to set it to the side. Then I put the audiobook at hold at the library and figured why not, let’s try it again. The audiobook worked better for me than the actual book did, which does happen occasionally.

The problem with this book for me ultimately came down to the fact it was told from so many point of views, the book felt sloggy and almost never ending because of that. My friend, Renae said it best:

This is one of those situations where I can understand and agree with the appeal other readers see in a particular book, but at the same time, I don’t, objectively, think the same book is actually very well-done.

I read her review as I was finishing the book and agreed so much I sent her a text message going something along the lines of “I’M NOT ALOOOOONE.” Yes. I’m as dramatic in text messages as you would think I would be. But when it comes to Cress I couldn’t help but agree.

I thought that it was an enjoyable book, but the flaws of the book pulled me out. The number of people! Should I have kept a list of the character, their role and the fact there wasn’t much character development because there was so many characters in one book that I didn’t get a good feel for any of them. If the narrator didn’t do different voices, all the characters would actually be one to me. Which is hard as a reader because they did so much planning in this novel. I love a heist as much as the next (Looking at you Oceans’ Eleven) but there was so much planning with so many people that I honestly spent a lot of time confused. And lost, so lost.

Also, I spent most of the book wondering when something was going to happen. I just finished the book and I’m still wondering when something is going to happen. While I’m fine with planning, this suffered from middle book syndrome where one spends a lot of their time bored. With this being a hefty book (550 pages) that is a lot of time to spent bored.

While, Meyer was able to intertwine all of the characters beautifully there was a downfall while she was doing this.  I understand the appeal of Cress and I love what it has done to the genre of Young Adult but it still took me months to finish. The pain of putting a book on my goodreads “hold” shelf is never a good sign, which ultimately effected my rating on Cress.


Boy Nobody (The Unknown Assassin #1) by Allen Zadoff
Release Date: June 2013
Publisher: Little, Brown and Company
Source: ALA2013
Rating: starstarstarstarblank_star
Buy It: Amazon | IndieBound

They needed the perfect assassin.

Boy Nobody is the perennial new kid in school, the one few notice and nobody thinks much about. He shows up in a new high school in a new town under a new name, makes a few friends, and doesn’t stay long. Just long enough for someone in his new friend’s family to die — of “natural causes.” Mission accomplished, Boy Nobody disappears, moving on to the next target.

But when he’s assigned to the mayor of New York City, things change. The daughter is unlike anyone he has encountered before; the mayor reminds him of his father. And when memories and questions surface, his handlers at The Program are watching. Because somewhere deep inside, Boy Nobody is somebody: the kid he once was; the teen who wants normal things, like a real home and parents; a young man who wants out. And who just might want those things badly enough to sabotage The Program’s mission.

In this action-packed series debut, author Allen Zadoff pens a page-turning thriller that is as thought-provoking as it is gripping, introducing an utterly original and unforgettable antihero. – Goodreads

Review:

From the first line of this book I was enthralled. Could not put it down enthralled. Part of me is almost glad I sat on it for as long as I did because now I can go to the second book right away. The other part of me is of course annoyed I waited for so long, because it was so good. Boy Nobody, which has now changed titles to I am the Weapon, is the story of Boy Nobody, a teen who wants a normal life, but doesn’t have anything close to one. He has parents, Mother and Father, who are nothing more than his bosses, his handlers. He is alone and more importantly, he is a killer. That is Boy Nobody’s speciality: he is a trainer killer.

One day, Boy Nobody is assigned to kill the mayor of New York City, but this assignment is very different for him. The mayor reminds him of his father, and his way in with the mayor is his daughter, Sam, who happens to be Boy’s age. What Zadoff does well is immerse the reader into the world, not only did I feel like I was in New York City with these characters, but I also felt like I was in high school again with them. The awkwardness of being in high school, and the uncomfortable in your own skin comes out. You want to be yourself, but being yourself is often the worst thing you could do. Boy has started high school so many times, and has had so much training from The Program, that to him it’s just another target. Or so he keeps telling himself.

Mother and Father catch on to the fact this is not just another target, something is shifting within Boy and this is not a good thing. They must nip it in the bud ASAP. While Boy tells them continuously that he can handle it, he really can’t. He starts to miss the boy he once was, the boy he should have been. Although his target is the mayor of New York, he reminds him of the father he once had and he is having problems separating the two. Then the assignment kills, he is no longer meant to kill the mayor, but Sam, the mayor’s daughter. Can Boy do that? In a short period of time he’s fallen in love with her and he can’t kill the person he loves. That’s impossible.

This is the perfect first book in the series, it hooked me in and made me demanding more.


17167166Crown of Midnight (Throne of Glass #2) by Sarah J. Maas
Release Date: August 27, 2013
Publisher: Bloomsbury USA Childrens
Source: Personal Copy
Rating: starstarstarstarblank_star (4.5)
Buy It: Amazon | IndieBound

“A line that should never be crossed is about to be breached.

It puts this entire castle in jeopardy—and the life of your friend.”

From the throne of glass rules a king with a fist of iron and a soul black as pitch. Assassin Celaena Sardothien won a brutal contest to become his Champion. Yet Celaena is far from loyal to the crown. She hides her secret vigilantly; she knows that the man she serves is bent on evil.

Keeping up the deadly charade becomes increasingly difficult when Celaena realizes she is not the only one seeking justice. As she tries to untangle the mysteries buried deep within the glass castle, her closest relationships suffer. It seems no one is above questioning her allegiances—not the Crown Prince Dorian; not Chaol, the Captain of the Guard; not even her best friend, Nehemia, a foreign princess with a rebel heart.

Then one terrible night, the secrets they have all been keeping lead to an unspeakable tragedy. As Celaena’s world shatters, she will be forced to give up the very thing most precious to her and decide once and for all where her true loyalties lie…and whom she is ultimately willing to fight for. – Goodreads

Review:

I get it now. I get high fantasy. Sarah J. Maas has finally made me understand and love the genre. It took me a long time to get here. I resisted for so long. It took at least three good friends, who’s opinion I trust with no questions asked, to recommend this series for me to give it a try. Then I devoured what is out of the series, within days. I could not put Crown of Midnight down. I tried. Work called. Sleep called and I continued to read.

Crown of Midnight gave me so many feels I continue to be unable to talk about them. There was a lot of yelling a certain boys name and being so entranced in a world that Maas created that at a point I forgot that I was reading high fantasy. I wanted more of this world. I wanted more of happy Celaena. I wanted more of bad ass Celaena who loathes the crown and I got this in Crown of Midnight. The first half is dedicated to what comes to be known as the Pre-Celaena. She is partaking in what comes to be a deadly charade while seeking for justice. While the King believes she is working for him, as she is the King’s Assassin, she is actually turning it into her own little game. Hopefully the King never finds out, right? RIGHT?!

The King believes that there is this secret rebellion against him and is worried (Spoiler: there is!) While this is going on the important part of the novel is going on: CHAOL AND CELAENA. Yes. I found my shipper side while reading Crown of Midnight. I spent most of the first novel, Throne of Glass, undecided. HAHA. I AM UNDECIDED NO MORE. It also seems that Dorian is also accepting the fact that Chaol and Celaena love each other (because they do!) Things seem happy! Everything is good! Too bad we’re only about 35% through the novel. Because then post-Celaena shows up. Post-Celaena occurs because there is a death in the novel that shakes Celaena to her very core. AND EVERYTHING HURTS (to this reader.) Celaena is now on a rampage and attacks anyone in her immediate vicinity. She lashes out. Maas’ ability to take me from hearts in my eyes to tears is amazing.

Throughout the second half of the novel I could not believe the growth of all the characters, not just Celaena. Dorian grows not only as a Prince, but as a person. Chaol decides to research more into Celaena’s background, even though she tried to kill him. And Celaena is not only researching more about the magic that she has been told about, but also slowly starts to put together the pieces of the puzzle that Maas beautifully intertwined into the book. And the final chapter of the book? Damn Maas. You’re good.


17573559Roomies by Sara Zarr & Tara Altebrando
Release Date: December 24, 2013
Publisher: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
Source: ALA 2013
Rating: starstarstarblank_starblank_star
Buy It: Amazon | IndieBound

It’s time to meet your new roomie.

When East Coast native Elizabeth receives her freshman-year roommate assignment, she shoots off an e-mail to coordinate the basics: television, microwave, mini-fridge. That first note to San Franciscan Lauren sparks a series of e-mails that alters the landscape of each girl’s summer — and raises questions about how two girls who are so different will ever share a dorm room.

As the countdown to college begins, life at home becomes increasingly complex. With family relationships and childhood friendships strained by change, it suddenly seems that the only people Elizabeth and Lauren can rely on are the complicated new boys in their lives . . . and each other. Even though they’ve never met.

National Book Award finalist Sara Zarr and acclaimed author Tara Altebrando join forces for a novel about growing up, leaving home, and getting that one fateful e-mail that assigns your college roommate. – Goodreads

Review:

This book gave me, mostly good, flashbacks. Flashbacks to myspace (she didn’t have a facebook!) messaging my freshman year roommate the summer of 2006 worried about how it would be and who would do what. Hint: she was a fabulous roomate and we still talk to this day. Mostly about how we went to a party school for undergrad and ended up staying in watching massive amount of TV and eating pizza (Hi Kristie! Miss you! Lets catch up!) It also gave me flashbacks to a few (almost two!) years ago when I sent Tina a DM going “hey! Can I email you?” and her going “OF COURSE” and our lives never being the same.

Here’s the thing about Tina and I. We cannot text or IM each other. When we need to in VERY IMPORTANT situations we will, but it’s almost awkward and forced and not us. It’s painfully not us. Trust me, we’ve tried. I know you’re thinking, it’s the same! Just shorter. Yeah, Tina and I are verbose in emails. We start the day with the simple hi and then I get all dramatic and throw CAPLOCKS around and it’s a failing mess.

The reason I’m bringing up these two moments in my life is not only did they define who I am as a person, but this book brought back a lot of those feelings that I once had and sometimes still have. Just because you’re BFFs and you email a lot doesn’t mean you don’t read an email with a wrong tone. I’ve had days where I was convinced Tina was mad at me, only to have her later tell me that we were fine and I just read the email in the wrong tone. That happens throughout this novel and it made me chuckle every time it happened.

This is the story of Elizabeth, EB and Lauren, two girls who’s lives could not be more opposite if they tried. If they went to the same high school their lives would have probably never intertwined. Of course their college decided their lives should intertwine. Zarr and Altebrando write this novel in alternating chapters, from each girls POV and then sprinkle in a few emails. I adored the emails because that is when the characters shined, in my opinion.

For example, once, Lauren is being bogged down by her 5 brothers and sisters so she is short and tense in an email to EB, without meaning to. Of course EB takes it personal like “what is that bitch’s problem.” Then we get their dialogue about “what did I do wrong?! I thought I was nice” I related to that. Heck, I still relate to that (Tina is now rolling her eyes.)

While this was an enjoyable book for me, there was nothing overly memorable about the book. There were times I wanted to strangle both of the girls because they’re teenagers and you could see the moment was going to crash and burn and ultimately hurt them but Zarr and Altebrando made it work for them. If anything it was a solid novel, the ending however was a bit of a let down for me, but I can see why the authors decided to end it where they did.


coldestThe Coldest Girl in Coldtown by Holly Black
Release Date: September 3, 2013
Publisher: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
Source: ALA 2013
Rating: starstarblank_starblank_starblank_star
Buy It: Amazon | IndieBound

Tana lives in a world where walled cities called Coldtowns exist. In them, quarantined monsters and humans mingle in a decadently bloody mix of predator and prey. The only problem is, once you pass through Coldtown’s gates, you can never leave.

One morning, after a perfectly ordinary party, Tana wakes up surrounded by corpses. The only other survivors of this massacre are her exasperatingly endearing ex-boyfriend, infected and on the edge, and a mysterious boy burdened with a terrible secret. Shaken and determined, Tana enters a race against the clock to save the three of them the only way she knows how: by going straight to the wicked, opulent heart of Coldtown itself.

The Coldest Girl in Coldtown is a wholly original story of rage and revenge, of guilt and horror, and of love and loathing from bestselling and acclaimed author Holly Black. – Goodreads

Review:

If there was to be an IT-Book of ALA 2013 for Tina and me, it would be this book. Tina and I spent months discussing this book and the fact that Holly Black would be there. Heck we even got to the line early to be turned away because “guys, really, you’re that early.”

I’m telling you all of this because I actually DNF (Did Not Finish) this book. In this blogging duo, it is known I finish books, Tina is the one who has no problem letting books go. Which is why it came as a shock to both Tina and I went I sent Tina an email going “TINA I DNF ANOTHER BOOK” and then we were both disappointed when it was this one.

While the writing is solid, the story bored me to pieces. I got to chapter 9, or through 84 pages. Those 84 pages took me about three months. No book ever takes me three months. I heard rumors that the book gets better about half way through, but my TBR list is already too long and the line has been drawn.

It’s upsetting because Black’s writing is as solid as ever, but the story was just..boring. There is no other way for me to put that. I was so bored. The world building, the info dump, I was just sick of it. I wanted more of the actual story and that never happened.

Did this book work for you? Please tell me, what did I miss?!