Throwback Thursday 17/3/2016

Happy St. Patrick’s Day!

It’s time for another Throwback Thursday! I have to admit, this book popped into my head and I’ve had a bit of trouble searching for a decent synopsis for it.

So, my pick for this week is… Winter Dreams, Christmas Love by Mary Francis Shura.

Synopsis:

winterdreamsThis lengthy tale of obsessive love begins when Ellen, 14, meets Michael, a popular high-school junior. Responding to the young man’s immediate and intense effect on her, Ellen soon realizes she’s in love. Michael’s friendly overtures have Ellen believing he returns her affections, but she feels otherwise when he constantly comments on their age difference. A sensible girl, she tries desperately to forget him with a busy schedule and other relationships, but for two years Michael’s hold on her continues. Shura ( The Sunday Doll ; Don’t Call Me Toad ) conveys unerringly the hurt and befuddlement engendered by a passive romance. Yet the largely internal story grows repetitive, and some sentences are either ungrammatical (“She acted hateful”) or badly cast (“The girl wasn’t anything like as pretty as Val”). Ellen’s suffering may, however, strike a responsive chord with readers; in any case they will certainly sympathize with her experience. Continue reading

Waiting on Wednesday 16/3/2016

It’s time for another Waiting on Wednesday!

This week I’ve chosen to feature The Museum of Heartbreak by Meg Leder.

First, a synopsis from Amazon:

museumIn this ode to all the things we gain and lose and gain again, seventeen-year-old Penelope Marx curates her own mini-museum to deal with all the heartbreaks of love, friendship, and growing up.

Welcome to the Museum of Heartbreak.

Well, actually, to Penelope Marx’s personal museum. The one she creates after coming face to face with the devastating, lonely-making butt-kicking phenomenon known as heartbreak.

Heartbreak comes in all forms: There’s Keats, the charmingly handsome new guy who couldn’t be more perfect for her. There’s possibly the worst person in the world, Cherisse, whose mission in life is to make Penelope miserable. There’s Penelope’s increasingly distant best friend Audrey. And then there’s Penelope’s other best friend, the equal-parts-infuriating-and-yet-somehow-amazing Eph, who has been all kinds of confusing lately.

But sometimes the biggest heartbreak of all is learning to let go of that wondrous time before you ever knew things could be broken… Continue reading

Just One Day by Gayle Forman

Oh, this book gave me the feels.

I didn’t think it would, to be honest. But before I explain, I should probably give you the synopsis…

justonedayFrom Amazon:

When sheltered American good girl Allyson “LuLu” Healey first meets laid-back Dutch actor Willem De Ruiter at an underground performance of Twelfth Night in England, there’s an undeniable spark. After just one day together, that spark bursts into a flame, or so it seems to Allyson, until the following morning, when she wakes up after a whirlwind day in Paris to discover that Willem has left. Over the next year, Allyson embarks on a journey to come to terms with the narrow confines of her life, and through Shakespeare, travel, and a quest for her almost-true-love, to break free of those confines.

Continue reading

Throwback Thursday 10/3/2016

It’s Throwback Thursday! That means it’s time to feature a teen or YA relevant book that was published pre-2000.

I think it’s really important to consider titles published before YA seemed to blow up as a genre because there’s such an amazing trove of books that were in print and helped inspire the writers that we know and love today.

My choice today isn’t just one book… it’s its own genre of books…

Lurlene McDaniel books.

You know the ones. You can’t pick just one because they’re all so similar.

My high school library got a complete overhaul my sophmore and junior year of high school, and we got a grant to get loads of new books. They were switching over to AR books and needed help over the summer to do it, so I had a summer job for two years helping them do this. It was my first job.

Anywho, I remember stocking the shelves with like, 50 of these Lurlene McDaniel books. During the school year, that shelf would be completely empty and remain nearly empty because so many girls would check out every single book ALL THE TIME. They were popular.

My first Lurlene McDaniel read was “Til Death Do Us Part”, and I think I received it in a bookclub my mom had signed me up for. Continue reading

Waiting on Wednesday 9/3/2016

And here’s another entry for Waiting on Wednesday!

My pick for this week is The Star-Touched Queen by Roshani Chokshi.

First, a synopsis from Amazon:

startouchedFate and fortune. Power and passion. What does it take to be the queen of a kingdom when you’re only seventeen?

Maya is cursed. With a horoscope that promises a marriage of Death and Destruction, she has earned only the scorn and fear of her father’s kingdom. Content to follow more scholarly pursuits, her whole world is torn apart when her father, the Raja, arranges a wedding of political convenience to quell outside rebellions. Soon Maya becomes the queen of Akaran and wife of Amar. Neither roles are what she expected: As Akaran’s queen, she finds her voice and power. As Amar’s wife, she finds something else entirely: Compassion. Protection. Desire…

But Akaran has its own secrets — thousands of locked doors, gardens of glass, and a tree that bears memories instead of fruit. Soon, Maya suspects her life is in danger. Yet who, besides her husband, can she trust? With the fate of the human and Otherworldly realms hanging in the balance, Maya must unravel an ancient mystery that spans reincarnated lives to save those she loves the most. . .including herself.

A lush and vivid story that is steeped in Indian folklore and mythology. The Star-touched Queen is a novel that no reader will soon forget.

Continue reading

The Sin Eater’s Daughter by Melinda Salisbury

Oh my gosh I loved this book. I loved the drama, I loved the mythology, I loved the struggle of belief. I loved the intrigue, I loved the romance, and I loved the setting. I loved the internal dialogue, though sometimes I wanted to shake Twylla. I loved everything about this book, and I can’t wait to read the sequel.

First, I should let you read a synopsis from Amazon:

sineaterSeventeen-year-old Twylla lives in the castle. But although she’s engaged to the prince, Twylla isn’t exactly a member of the court. She’s the executioner. As the Goddess embodied, Twylla instantly kills anyone she touches. Each month she’s taken to the prison and forced to lay her hands on those accused of treason. No one will ever love a girl with murder in her veins. Even the prince, whose royal blood supposedly makes him immune to Twylla’s fatal touch, avoids her company. But then a new guard arrives, a boy whose easy smile belies his deadly swordsmanship. And unlike the others, he’s able to look past Twylla’s executioner robes and see the girl, not the Goddess. Yet Twylla’s been promised to the prince, and knows what happens to people who cross the queen. However, a treasonous secret is the least of Twylla’s problems. The queen has a plan to destroy her enemies, a plan that requires a stomach-churning, unthinkable sacrifice. Will Twylla do what it takes to protect her kingdom? Or will she abandon her duty in favour of a doomed love? Continue reading

At the Edge of the Orchard by Tracy Chevalier

I received an advance copy of this to review in a Goodreads Giveaway. I’m so glad I got this book! It was so engaging and I read a majority of it in one sitting. Tracy Chevalier has a talent for writing historical characters. I especially appreciated her depiction of John Chapman, better known as Johnny Appleseed.

Before I say anything else, a synopsis from Amazon:

orchardWhat happens when you can’t run any further from your past?

Ohio, 1838. James and Sadie Goodenough have settled in the Black Swamp, planting apple trees to claim the land as their own. Life is harsh in the swamp, and as fever picks off their children, husband and wife take solace in separate comforts. James patiently grows his sweet-tasting ‘eaters’ while Sadie gets drunk on applejack made fresh from ‘spitters’. Their fighting takes its toll on all of the Goodenoughs – a battle that will resonate over the years and across America.

Fifteen years later their youngest son, Robert, is drifting through Gold Rush California and haunted by the broken family he fled years earlier. Memories stick to him where mud once did. When he finds steady work for a plant collector, peace seems finally to be within reach. But the past is never really past, and one day Robert is forced to confront the brutal reason he left behind everything he loved.

In this rich, powerful story, Tracy Chevalier is at her imaginative best, bringing to life the urge to wrestle with our roots, however deep and tangled they may be. Continue reading

What I Saw and How I lied by Judy Blundell

This ended up coming across my GoodReads recommendations a while ago, so I added it to my “Want to Read” list because it sounded interesting. I was so excited when I found this in a charity shop for £1!

First, a synopsis from Amazon:

whatisawIt seemed like a dream. The world had exploded… Summer’s ending, Evie’s step-father is finally home from the Second World War, and Evie is sick of her glamorous mother treating her like a little girl. Then a mysterious stranger appears: a handsome ex-GI who served in combat with Evie’s step-father. Slowly, Evie realizes that she is falling in love with him. But he has dark secrets, and a strange control over her parents. When he is found dead, Evie’s world is shattered. Torn between her family and the man she loved, Evie must betray someone. But who? “Gripping … beautifully paced and told” The Times “You’ll be holding your breath as you turn every page” News of the World

Continue reading

By Royal Command and The Betrayal by Mary Hooper

So, I finished Mary Hooper’s “At the House of the Magician” series.

byroyalSynopsis from Amazon:

Lucy has become a firm fixture in the household of Dr Dee, a real-life figure who was court magician to Queen Elizabeth 1. Lucy, in return for saving the queen’s life, has been told that she is to work as a spy for Her Grace and that she is to remain with the Dee family and await further instruction …And then Lucy hears unexplained cries in the Dee house, and finds a young girl imprisoned there. What is Dr Dee doing? Lucy means to find out. A thrilling historical story, full of intrigue and royal plots and counter-plots, from the acclaimed Mary Hooper.

Okay, so I have to admit, this book wasn’t quite as interesting as the synopsis would lead. That storyline maybe takes up two chapters at the beginning of the book. The rest of it is Lucy being given a spying task – to watch one of QE1’s ladies and follow her. That was interesting, because in one of the events where she follows her, she flees down the river toward London and it was fun to hear the different places she was going through. This book felt a little weak, but again, it’s aimed at middle schoolers. Continue reading

Discovering New Favorites

So, I’m gearing up to post about four reviews in a row! However, I thought I would have some fun book discussion first.

How do you choose what books to read or bring into your collection?

Do you go into a bookstore or library and pick up anything that looks interesting?

Do you comb GoodReads for recommendations that are similar to books you love?

Are you a best-seller reader?

Or, do you comb Kindle sales like me and pick up whatever looks interesting and is cheap or free?

How do you choose your books?

Like I said, I have been combing Kindle sales and freebies. I left my job a year and a half ago to move to the UK to study, and I could only bring a few books with me! I brought my Kindle instead. Also, since I was living off of savings, I wanted to be sure to stretch those savings, so any books I downloaded would usually be free. I’ve found some really good books this way! And, reading on my Kindle was best for me. My husband and I didn’t have the room to store physical books since we were both studying and any books we needed for our courses were priority. Reading on my Kindle really offset going to the library every day and combing manuscripts and old books for eight hours. It was easier to lose myself in electronic print when so my mind was so tied to academia in physical print.

I also try to comb GoodReads to find old favorites and books that are similar to ones I’ve read. I love some really specific types of stories and crave them desperately, so GoodReads has been an absolute goldmine and lifesaver for when I need my fix!

What about you? How do you choose your books? Are you set in your ways, or is it a mixture of ways?