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Wishlist Wednesday – 27 January 2016

Wishlist WednesdayWishlist Wednesday is a weekly meme hosted by Pen to Paper where we post about one book that has been hanging out on our wish list (either for a long time, or not so long)

My pick for this weeks Wishlist Wednesday is a book that is actually due out in less than a week and that I already have reserved at the library for when their copies come in (here’s hoping, I’ll be one of the first to get to read it).

salt to the sea
Salt to the Sea
Author: Ruta Sepetys
Release Date: Feb 2, 2016
Genres: Young Adult, Historical Fiction, World War 2 Fiction

Description:
In 1945, World War II is drawing to a close in East Prussia, and thousands of refugees are on a desperate trek toward freedom, almost all of them with something to hide. Among them are Joana, Emilia, and Florian, whose paths converge en route to the ship that promises salvation, the Wilhelm Gustloff. Forced by circumstance to unite, the three find their strength, courage, and trust in each other tested with each step closer toward safety.

Just when it seems freedom is within their grasp, tragedy strikes. Not country, nor culture, nor status matter as all ten thousand people aboard must fight for the same thing: survival.

Why am I excited to read it?
Ruta Sepetys’ debut book a few years back (2011), Between Shades of Grey, told the story of a teenager displaced and sent to Siberia when Russia annexed the Baltic states in 1941. It was a unique story to me as I read it, because not only did it touch on an era in history that isn’t routinely taught in high school (or college to my knowledge), but that it was also based in part on experiences by her family members. Ms Sepetys has the ability to write historical fiction in a way that just sucks you in and if her newest is like Between Shades of Grey, I might have to plan on a sleepless night, because I couldn’t put it down…

 
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Posted by on January 27, 2016 in Wishlist Wednesday

 

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Waiting on Wednesday – 20 January 2016

Wishlist WednesdayWishlist Wednesday is a weekly meme hosted by Pen to Paper where we post about one book that has been hanging out on our wish list (either for a long time, or not so long)

When I started to look and upcoming book releases, I came to the realization that I don’t have all that many books sitting on my new release can’t wait to read shelf. Mostly due to the lack of time to sit and browse the upcoming release websites, but also because in general, very few of the authors that I follow on facebook (or other forms of social media) have posted about upcoming new releases that have piqued my interest. But I made sure to carve out a few minutes last night, post cycling workout, pre-dinner and bed (yeah, I was eating dinner right before I went to bed), to see if there was anything that caught my eye. Thanks to FictionDB and their new release database, I found the following that caught my eye

assassin's heartAssassin’s Heart – Sarah Ahiers
Release Date: February 2, 2016

Description:
In the kingdom of Lovero, nine rival Families of assassins lawfully kill people for a price. As a highly skilled member of one of these powerful clans, seventeen-year-old Lea Saldana has always trusted in the strength of her Family. Until she awakens to find them murdered and her home in flames. The Da Vias, the Saldanas’ biggest enemy, must be responsible—and Lea should have seen it coming. But her secret relationship with the Da Vias’ son, Val, has clouded her otherwise killer instinct—and given the Da Vias more reason than ever to take her Family down.

Racked with guilt and shattered over Val’s probable betrayal, Lea sets out to even the score, with her heart set on retaliation and only one thought clear in her mind: make the Da Vias pay.

Why I Can’t Wait?
I’ll admit that I have a thing for novels with assassin’s as the main characters ever since I read Robin LaFever’s series with assassin nuns. Added to that, the whole secret love (or so it sounds from the description), possible revenge theme as described sounds intriguing and I’ll be interested to see how the author approaches it. I know i’m already checking my library to see if that have it on order (and if they don’t, well then, i’ll (hopefully) sweet talk my favorite librarian into getting it for them).

What about you – what book(s) are you eagerly anticipating?

 
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Posted by on January 20, 2016 in Wishlist Wednesday

 

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The Case of the Traveling Book

hate is such a strong word 1 (1)One of the things I love about communities like Goodreads is how it can bring together people across the world over a simple topic, the love of books – (yes, I’m a dork and gushing…lol). I have made many friends over the years on that website, many of whom I have never met in person (and likely never will) and yet, I feel like I know them. Over the last few years, one of the groups I’m part of (YA Rated MA) has been doing a fun event called the traveling book.

hate is such a strong word 1 (2)The premise is simple, a group member donates a book that they think other members would be interested in reading – normally maybe an ARC of a YA book soon to come, or a book not widely released in the US (since that is where the majority of our members are from) and the book then travels from member to member. At each stop, its read (well, duh) and members are encourages to write notes in the book, highlight passages that really struck home for them (shock, horror if you don’t like writing in books) and sign their name in the front cover and leave a quick note in the back about their overall opinion. Best of all, they each include a postcard from where they live, so when the person who originally donated the book gets it back, there is like a treasure trove of gifts.

Over the last few months, my book donation of Hate is such a Strong Word by Sarah Ayoub has been traveling around the various members of the group and on Saturday, it arrived back home (and yes, there might have been a slight happy dance when I saw it in the mail). Hate is Such A Strong Word is a book that my mom sent me from Australia, written by a Lebanese-Australian author. The story revolves about Sophie, a 12th grader who is in a cultural clash between her Lebanese family and the more modern society she is living in (or so I have gauged from the description, because I haven’t read it yet).

I’m looking forward to reading Hate is Such a Strong Word in the next few weeks and until then, I’m going to enjoy looking through all the different postcards that i got in the package.

hate is such a strong word 1 (3)

 
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Posted by on December 30, 2015 in Reading Events

 

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Thursday Quotables – UnDivided

quotation-marks4

Thursday Quotables is a weekly feature hosted by Bookshelf Fantasies. It is a weekly feature where readers highlight a quote or quotes from their current weeks reading. Whether it’s something funny, startling, gut-wrenching, or just really beautifully written.

undivided

I wasn’t sure if I was going to do a Thursday Quotables for this week, but after finishing up UnDivided over the weekend, there were enough quotes in there that resonated with me (especially in this time of upcoming political elections) that it just seemed right. As a bit of background, UnDivided is the 4th book in the UnWind Dystology by Neal Shusterman. The premise of this dystopian series is that there was a war known as the Heartland’s War fought in the past, and as a consequence, teenagers started to run wild. So the government instituted a program called Unwinding – which was basically taking an teenager and surgically disembodying them, and the parts were then used for transplants or cosmetic desires. It is set in a time, when all body parts (including portions of the brain) could be easily divided and used. I came across this series a few years ago, when it was only one book (and hadn’t heard that there was going to be follow-on ones) and while horrified in places, also enjoyed the writing style and the questions that Shusterman posed.

“Tools are neither demonic nor divine. It’s all about who wields them.”

“…facts never prevent the ignorant from jerking their knees into the groin of science.”

“In a population of hundreds of millions, such a small number of people is a mere drop in the bucket… but enough drops can make any bucket overflow”

“We must always be careful of the actions we take, for there are always unintended consequences. Sometimes they are serendipitous, other times they are appalling, but those consequences are always there. We must tread lightly in this world…until we are sure of foot.”

 
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Posted by on November 12, 2015 in Thursday Quotables

 

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Audiobook Review – I Will Always Write Back – Caitlin Alifirenka and Martin Ganda

i will always write backI Will Always Write Back: How One Letter Changed Two Lives
Authors: Caitlin Alifirenka and Martin Ganda
Rating: ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆

Narrators: Chukwudi Iwuji, Emily Bauer
Run Time: 8hrs 52min
Audiobook Rating: ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆

Audiobook Review Copy Provided by Hachette Audio

Description:
It started as an assignment. Everyone in Caitlin’s class wrote to an unknown student somewhere in a distant place. All the other kids picked countries like France or Germany, but when Caitlin saw Zimbabwe written on the board, it sounded like the most exotic place she had ever heard of–so she chose it.
Martin was lucky to even receive a pen pal letter. There were only ten letters, and forty kids in his class. But he was the top student, so he got the first one.

That letter was the beginning of a correspondence that spanned six years and changed two lives.

In this compelling dual memoir, Caitlin and Martin recount how they became best friends –and better people–through letters. Their story will inspire readers to look beyond their own lives and wonder about the world at large and their place in it.

Review
I’ll admit that many times when it comes to reading/listening to memoirs, I end up coming away under-enthused about the subjects, because there always seems to be something fake about them (even if that is not entirely the case). However, when I was browsing the recent audiobook release offerings from Hachette, this YA memoir caught my eye and I am beyond glad that I requested it. Not only because the audiobook was nothing short of amazing, but because there seemed to be an honesty in the writing of both Caitlin and Martin. But let’s back up…

I grew up around the same time period as Caitlin and Martin (they are a couple of years younger than me), but I think for me when listening, it helped to establish a commonality between what they were talking about and somehow I had experienced it. I remember signing up for pen pal programs in school, although my experiences tended to be more like Caitlin’s classmates – one or two letters and then it kind of dwindled off – compared to the friendship that Caitlin and Martin developed over the years. Its kind of sad knowing that in the technological age that kids grow up in today, that joy of waiting for letters from some mysterious place overseas is something many likely won’t experience. Nowadays, we shoot off an email and it miraculously appears in someone else’s inbox on the other side of the world, the country or even next door. I love to see people take the time to write letters (and wonder if there are still organizations that do penpal exchanges out there…).

Its hard to say that I loved how the differences in Caitlin and Martin’s lives were portrayed, because you couldn’t help but get emotionally involved in Martin’s story – him and his family struggling for food, the type of house that they live in (if you could call it a house) and ultimately, how little it took to get them much needed supplies. And that Caitlin and her family just stepped up and did that because of the friendship between the two of them (actually, amend that, they are family), shows what a difference that little bit extra can be. How the actions of one person can literally save a life, or lives. I wonder if Caitlin hasn’t picked Zimbabwe from the list of countries, what if she had gone with France or Spain, or one of the more common countries…its mind-boggling to me how that one tiny decision had some many ramifications over the years.

I don’t know if the audiobook producers could have selected two narrators who were better suited to this project than Chukwudi Iwuji and Emily Bauer. Emily pegged the narration for an American teenager from the East Coast, down to the bratty-ness that I kind of expected at times; along with a touch of self-centered ness – seeing Caitlin transition from that I’m the center of the world, to wow, there is so much out there that I don’t know/understand was for me one of the best parts of the book. While I’m only had limited opportunities to interact with individuals from Africa, Chukwudi is how I visualized Martin sounding – that way of speaking with the very proper/formal English, compared to the more relaxed form that you hear elsewhere. For me, the audiobook just took what was already a good book and made it a great book.

I think this book (either reading or audio) would be a great addition to school classrooms when it comes to studying other countries (do they still do that?) and I’m going to recommend it to my local library to buy if they haven’t already. I’m intrigued enough to see if i can find any similar books (either fiction or non-fiction). I gave the book 4 stars and the narration 5 stars.

 
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Posted by on October 8, 2015 in Audiobook Review

 

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Wishlist Wednesday – 26 August 2015

Wishlist WednesdayWishlist Wednesday is a weekly meme hosted by Pen to Paper where we post about one book that has been hanging out on our wish list (either for a long time, or not so long)

One of the things I love about this feature is the fact that many books that are featured by other bloggers, often end up on my to read list. i’m pretty sure that I came across my pick for this week from another blogger (I only wish I could remember who…) My pick this week is a new to me author (Louise O’Neill), but there is something about the description that caught my eye – as well as the barbie-doll-esque model on the cover and I’m typically a fan of realistic young-adult fiction

asking for it

Description:
It’s the beginning of the summer in a small town in Ireland. Emma O’Donovan is eighteen years old, beautiful, happy, confident. One night, there’s a party. Everyone is there. All eyes are on Emma.

The next morning, she wakes on the front porch of her house. She can’t remember what happened, she doesn’t know how she got there. She doesn’t know why she’s in pain. But everyone else does.

Photographs taken at the party show, in explicit detail, what happened to Emma that night. But sometimes people don’t want to believe what is right in front of them, especially when the truth concerns the town’s heroes…

 
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Posted by on August 26, 2015 in Wishlist Wednesday

 

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Review – The Truth About Alice – Jennifer Mathieu

16068341The Truth About Alice
Author: Jennifer Mathieu
Rating: ☆ ☆ ☆ ½

Review Copy Provided by Publisher

Description:
Everyone knows Alice slept with two guys at one party.

But did you know Alice was sexting Brandon when he crashed his car?

It’s true. Ask ANYBODY.

Rumor has it that Alice Franklin is a slut. It’s written all over the bathroom stall at Healy High for everyone to see. And after star quarterback Brandon Fitzsimmons dies in a car accident, the rumors start to spiral out of control.

In this remarkable debut novel, four Healy High students—the girl who has the infamous party, the car accident survivor, the former best friend, and the boy next door—tell all they know.

But exactly what is the truth about Alice? In the end there’s only one person to ask: Alice herself.

Review:
So I actually read this book earlier this year and marked it off as being reviewed, when apparently I only actually imagined doing that…lol! So some of my thoughts on this may be a bit patchy but there are also parts that really stick out (even 6 months or so later). I’ll be the first to admit that one of my guilty pleasures are lifetime movies (you know the ones, my daughter ran away and became addicted to drugs; my daughter got pregnant as a teen; my son is going to be a teen father and adopt the child type movies). They are like cotton candy for me, I get emotionally invested in them, and by the end of the movie, I’m happy that my life isn’t screwed up like that and I just move on to other things. The Truth About Alice kind of reminded me of one of those movies (and that isn’t necessarily a bad thing).

The book itself is told in an alternating POV from 4 different students at the high school where the title character was also a student. I found it intriguing how the author didn’t actually include Alice as a POV – maybe to keep up the idea of the perceived “truth” about her, rather than the actual truth…It was also interesting seeing how the characters devolved into the gossips and then evolved into more responsible young adults as the book progressed – although it was the person that I kind of least expected to stand up to the gossip that did.

My biggest complaint, I think, was the everything tied up too quickly – it was like alice is a slut, she did xyz and then all of the sudden, everything seemed back to normal…maybe that was how it was supposed to be – indicative of how gossip is hot one day and then not the next…but it left me feeling kind of empty in the long run. I wanted a bit more closure at the end…Overall, I gave the Truth about Alice 3.5 stars because it was something different (or at least that I’ve read) in the YA writing world.

 
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Posted by on August 20, 2015 in Book Review

 

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