Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Review: Lost Stars by Claudia Gray

Lost Stars (Journey to Star Wars: The Force Awakens)Title:  Lost Stars
Author:  Claudia Gray
Publisher: Disney LucasFilm Press
Publishing Date: September 4th 2015
Pages: 551
Genre: YA/NA Sci Fi Fantasy/ Space Opera
Series:  Stand Alone? 
Source:  Audio
Star Wars meets Romeo and Juliet in this epic YA novel that follows two best friends who find themselves on opposite sides of the war between the Empire and the Rebellion.

This thrilling YA novel gives readers a macro view of some of the most important events in the Star Wars universe: from the purge of the Jedi in Episode III, to the beginnings of the rebellion in Star Wars Rebels, and through the fall of the Empire in Episodes IV-IV. Readers will experience these major moments through the eyes of two best friends who grow up in these troubling times, and find themselves on opposite sides of the war.

As with other Journey to Episode VII titles, hints about the upcoming film will be included in the narrative, as well a original, post-Episode VI content that sets up the new film.

DUAL NARRATIVE: Chapters alternate perspectives between our two protagonists – one a Rebel pilot, the other an Imperial officer. By exploring these two different worlds, readers will experience many of the major moments in the original Star Wars trilogy – from the destruction of the Death Star to the battle of Hoth – through these two characters' eyes.

I don't think this book was highly advertised and I am not sure why. I was so super excited when I found this book and literally counted down til I could read the book. I am a huge Star Wars fan but have never read any of the books from the Star Wars world. I decided this would be my first and I really enjoyed it.It was fun and it was different but yet still Star Wars. 

This book takes place after the Empire takes over - about 8 years. The main characters are the same sage as the Empire (or that age of Luke and Leia) The story is about Ciena and Thane. Two kids who grow up wanting to be pilots in the Empire. We see them grow up together through age 8 all the way through their early twenties. Jest of it is.... One is on the rebel side and one is in the Empire. It's their love story and we get to see what Star Wars looks like from the outside.

What I loved about the book. It takes  place through all the major events and battles in Star Wars. We hear quotes from Star Wars... all through out the book. I loved it. We see events or hear about the events of Leia being captured. The Death Star being destroyed. The Battle of Hoth. We hear from minor characters from Star Wars. It was fun. Very very fun. Oh and the famous quote "I have a really bad feeling about this" is in the book. How AWESOME. 

I liked the characters. I liked Ciena enough. I liked her in the beginning, got mad at her in the middle, hated her at one point, then loved her in the end and hated her in the end. She was loyal, too loyal and it gave her beer goggles. I really wanted to slap her but had to remember.... I know how this story ends... she doesn't yet. 

I liked Thane. He was a bit on the stubborn side. Thought rules were meant to be broken. Was also loyal. Spoke up even when he shouldn't. He was the smarter out of the two when it came to street smart where as Ciena was smarter in strategy. 

The romance was sweet. It was very slow and as a a reader I could see it building for a very long time when the characters were pretty stupid about it. Started at a very young age... friends and slowly became more as they aged. 

The book was romance... I wouldn't call it Romeo and Juliet... but it was forbidden love. It was a nice part of the book but the parts that I enjoyed were the struggles. Where does the loyalty land and when should the loyalty end. Where should one's loyalty really lie... with country, with family, with friendship.... When is too much sacrifice of innocent lives too much. How does one know what is right or wrong and it is clear  cut. Lots of struggles in the book, inner turmoil, life changing decisions. I liked it. 

It very much had the entire Star Wars feel down and I loved that. I actually listened to the audio and all the great Star Wars music and sound effects were present. That added to the fun for sure. 

My only complaint... there were some slow parts. Not many but they were present.

I loved it and I think if you are a star wars fan grab and read it. If not a fan.. well just try it. 

Claudia Gray

Claudia Gray is not my real name. I didn't choose a pseudonym because my real name is unpleasant (it isn't), because I'd always dreamed of calling myself this (I haven't) or even because I'm hiding from the remnants of that international diamond-smuggling cartel I smashed in 2003 (Interpol has taken care of them). In short, I took a pseudonym for no real reason whatsoever. Sometimes this is actually the best reason to do things.
I live in New Orleans. So far, in life, I've been a disc jockey, a lawyer, a journalist and an extremely bad waitress, just to name a few. I especially like to spend time traveling, hiking, reading and listening to music. More than anything else, I enjoy writing.

Thursday, September 24, 2015

Review: Lock & Mori by Heather W. Petty

Lock & Mori (Lock & Mori, #1)Title: Lock & Mori  
Author:  Heather W. Petty
Publisher: Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers
Publishing Date:  September 15th 2015
Pages: 256
Genre: YA Mystery/ Classic Retellings
Series: Lock & Mori #1
Source: ARC 

FACT: Someone has been murdered in London’s Regent’s Park. The police have no leads.

FACT: Miss James “Mori” Moriarty and Sherlock “Lock” Holmes should be hitting the books on a school night. Instead, they are out crashing a crime scene.

FACT: Lock has challenged Mori to solve the case before he does. Challenge accepted.

FACT: Despite agreeing to Lock’s one rule—they must share every clue with each other—Mori is keeping secrets.

OBSERVATION: Sometimes you can’t trust the people closest to you with matters of the heart. And after this case, Mori may never trust Lock again.

This was the first Holmes book I have ever read. I know terrible. I am hoping to read the classic real soon and I know I started this backwards by reading a retelling first. But this book did its job as a retelling and made me want to read the original so that will done soon. Now back to this book, it was was great. I enjoyed this read so very much. I loved the classic mystery feel, I loved the characters, and I loved the story. I am not sure how it measures up to the original but this retelling had me stuck and invested from page one. 

Well not much to tell here. Its about Sherlock and its about Moriarty. Sherlock is a teenage boy.. obsessed with mysteries, puzzles, and games. Moriarty is a teenage girl. One who has a hard home life, very smart with life and books, and needs a friend. There have been a string of murders in the park and Sherlock and Moriarty decide to get together to investigate them. Solve them, Its a game, a challenge, a competition. The game is afoot. 

This book really surpassed my expectations. I really didn't know what to expect but I didn't expect to like this book and enjoy it as much as I did. The beginning started off a little slow for me but it didn't take me long to really grab onto the characters and run with them.

My favorite part of this book was the characters. The mystery was great and I didn't expect it to turn out the way it did so yay for keeping me in the dark.... but it was just a murder mystery. Well executed and enjoyable but not anything extraordinary. The characters however were.

I loved these two. They were quite the opposite but they got a long... well they went together well. They start off as just two smart bored kids with a mystery to solve, then they become friends, then they fall in love.... it was fast but it was so much fun. The bickering, the chemistry, the need for each other was all wrapped in a sweet but troubled way. It wasn't the usual romance. It wasn't all fluffy and irresistible. It was a need and a connection and of course great timing for these two. It worked and it worked very well.

I didn't connect to Moriarty as much as I wanted, She was a hard cookie to feel but I did connect enough to want to know her more and take my time figure her out. She  had it rough and she was a bit closed off. Only opening herself up enough to keep Sherlock around. She needed him and even though she hated to admit it, she kept him around because she needed  him. She was very smart, Very street smart and book smart. She is very loyal.. to her family and now I think to Sherlock. She was screwed up... just a little from being smacked around and hated by her father. She was a a survivor.

Sherlock was an interesting character. I wish I has more of him. This story was told from Moriarty's point of view so Sherlock was in the background. He did catch my eye though. Smart... well book smart. Socially awkward. Conceited a bit. Yes all the things expected but.. He had a huge heart for Moriarty. He was kind (what he knew of kind) He protected her, he had a huge sense of needing to protect her. His love was for Moriarty was quite evident.

So they mystery was good. The story was an introduction for more to come in the relationship of Moriarty and Sherlock, The romance was well done. The book was a very very fast read. It happened quick and it was a page turner once I got past the first two chapters. It was a real winner for me. I really liked this one and expect the next one to blow me away. 

If you like Sherlock Holmes read this, if you have never read Sherlock Holmes read this, If you have read Sherlock Holmes and didn't care for it... read this. I think you will  like it.

Heather Petty writes Young Adult novels about grim reapers with English accents, snarky magic shop cashiers, and faery-infested summer camps, all of which are represented by Laurie McLean of Fuse Literary.
Her debut YA mystery, LOCK & MORI, is coming Fall 2015 from Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers.

Heather is also a granola mom, avid reader, technical writer, and freelance editor. She lives in Reno, Nevada with a Lumberjack, a Fairy-Child, and four cats who she’s pretty sure are plotting her demise.

Monday, September 21, 2015

Delightful Discoveries

Delightful Discoveries are books that I have discovered recently... old, new, just released... from blogs, Goodreads, libraries, friends, or bookstores. 

Thicker Than Water
Thicker Than Water by Kelly Fiore 

Cecelia Price killed her brother. At least, that’s what the police and the district attorney are saying. And although Cecelia is now locked up and forced into treatment, she knows the real story is much more complicated.

Cyrus wasn’t always the drug-addled monster he’d become. He was a successful athlete, but when an injury forced him off the soccer field and onto pain medication, his life became a blur of anger, addiction, and violence. All CeCe could do was stand by and watch, until she realized one effective way to take away her brother’s drugs while earning the money she needed for college: selling the pills.

Soon, CeCe becomes part drug dealer, part honor student. But even when all she wants is to make things right, she learns that sometimes the best intentions lead to the worst possible outcome.

Thicker than Water is an unforgettable dark, harrowing look into the disturbing truth of drug addiction and the desperate love of a sister watching her brother deteriorate before her eyes.

The Land of 10,000 Madonnas
The Land of 10,000 Madonnas by Kate Hattemer

Five teens backpack through Europe to fulfill the mysterious dying wish of their friend in this heartwarming novel from the author of The Vigilante Poets of Selwyn Academy.

Jesse lives with his history professor dad in a house covered with postcards of images of the Madonna from all over the world. They’re gotten used to this life: two motherless dudes living among thousands of Madonnas. But Jesse has a heart condition that will ultimately cut his life tragically short. Before he dies, he arranges a mysterious trip to Europe for his three cousins, his best friend, and his girlfriend to take after he passes away. It’s a trip that will forever change the lives of these young teens and one that will help them come to terms with Jesse’s death.

With vivid writing, poignant themes, and abundant doses of humor throughout, Kate Hattemer’s second novel is a satisfying journey about looking for someone else’s answers only to find yourself.

Hello by Liza Wiemer

One HELLO? can change a life. One HELLO? can save a life.

Tricia: A girl struggling to find her way after her beloved grandma's death.
Emerson: A guy who lives his life to fulfill promises, real and hypothetical.
Angie: A girl with secrets she can only express through poetry.
Brenda: An actress and screenplay writer afraid to confront her past.
Brian: A potter who sets aside his life for Tricia, to the detriment of both.

Linked and transformed by one phone call, Hello? weaves together these five Wisconsin teens' stories into a compelling narrative of friendship and family, loss and love, heartbreak and healing, serendipity, and ultimately hope.

Told from all five viewpoints: narration (Tricia), narration (Emerson), free verse poetry (Angie), screenplay format (Brenda), narration and drawings (Brian)

The Next TogetherThe Next Together by Lauren James 

How many times can you lose the person you love? 

Katherine and Matthew are destined to be born again and again, century after century. Each time, their presence changes history for the better, and each time, they fall hopelessly in love, only to be tragically separated. 

Spanning the Crimean War, the Siege of Carlisle and the near-future of 2019 and 2039 they find themselves sacrificing their lives to save the world. But why do they keep coming back? What else must they achieve before they can be left to live and love in peace? 

Maybe the next together will be different...

A powerful and epic debut novel for teenagers about time-travel, fate and the timelessness of first love. The Next Together is told through a mixture of regular prose, diary entries, letters, "original" historical documents, news reports and internet articles.

Wink Poppy Midnight
Wink Poppy Midnight by April Genevieve Tucholke

The intrigue of The Virgin Suicides and the "supernatural or not" question of The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer coalesce in this young adult mystery, where nothing is quite as it seems, no one is quite who you think, and everything can change on a dime.

Every story needs a hero.
Every story needs a villain.
Every story needs a secret.

Wink is the odd, mysterious neighbor girl, wild red hair and freckles. Poppy is the blond bully and the beautiful, manipulative high school queen bee. Midnight is the sweet, uncertain boy caught between them. Wink. Poppy. Midnight. Two girls. One boy. Three voices that burst onto the page in short, sharp, bewitching chapters, and spiral swiftly and inexorably toward something terrible or tricky or tremendous.

What really happened?
Someone knows.
Someone is lying.

For fans of Holly Black, We Were Liars, and The Raven Boys, this mysterious tale full of intrigue, dread, beauty, and a whiff of something strange will leave you utterly entranced. 

Friday, September 18, 2015

Review: What We Saw by Aaron Hartzler

What We SawTitle: What We Saw 
Author:  Aaron Hartzler
Publisher: Harper Teen 
Publishing Date: September 22 2015
Pages: 336
Genre: YA Realistic Fiction /Drama/Mystery
Series: Stand Alone
Source: ARC 
Kate Weston can piece together most of the bash at John Doone’s house: shots with Stacey Stallard, Ben Cody taking her keys and getting her home early—the feeling that maybe he’s becoming more than just the guy she’s known since they were kids.

But when a picture of Stacey passed out over Deacon Mills’s shoulder appears online the next morning, Kate suspects she doesn’t have all the details. When Stacey levels charges against four of Kate’s classmates, the whole town erupts into controversy. Facts that can’t be ignored begin to surface, and every answer Kate finds leads back to the same question: Where was Ben when a terrible crime was committed?

This story—inspired by real events—from debut novelist Aaron Hartzler takes an unflinching look at silence as a form of complicity. It’s a book about the high stakes of speaking up, and the razor thin line between guilt and innocence that so often gets blurred, one hundred and forty characters at a time.

I knew when I first saw this book, I would need to read it and I would love/hate it. And I was right. I received an ARC copy and finally found it next on my list and tore through it. I couldn't put it down. I did love it and I did hate it. I loved it because it was real and raw and good. I  hated it because it was honest, heartbreaking. This book is one of those reads that is a must read, especially for every teen boy and girl out there. It was amazing, well written, and straight to the heart honest. 
There was a party, there was drinking. Kate was there but left early because she was drunk. Stacy was drunk too and the day after the party Stacy goes to the cops. There are four boys, important boys, boys who are good at school, sports, who are well liked. They are charged with rape and sexual assault. No one believes this happened, everyone feels sorry for the boys and doesn't think about Stacy. Except for Kate, she wants to get to the bottom of things, she wants the truth, and she wants those responsible to have consequences. She sets out for the truth and she finds it. 

Okay so in reading the reviews I found that there was a similar case that this book was based off. I am glad to know this but wished I hadn't It made things so much worse for me. I think. I don't really know if this book could make the feels I felt worse. I am just really saddened that things like this really happen and have happened and that is why every girl and every boy should read this book. 

Now to the review of the book. I was amazed by this book. I like realistic fiction enough but it's not my favorite. I am not a teenage girl and so some realistic fiction is just too much for me. I grew up and realized life isn't all that bad. But this story... doesn't matter how old you are. It happens and its heartbreaking. This story was very well written. I liked that I was reading what felt like a news story of events and someones diary. It was written as a regular story but the feel I got was of a news story and a diary. 

It was not easy to be in Kate's head, but it was a journey. The thoughts, the way she worked through it, was good. She was determined to find the truth and she was determined not to let every other person's thoughts and words decided who was right and who was wrong. She worked through it, emotionally and mentally until she could deal with it. She worked through it til she know what was right and what to do. The she found the truth and worked through it some more until she made her thoughts and facts action. She stood up for what was right even though it destroyed her. She was a very strong character and I really enjoyed being in her mind. 

There was romance but I really don't want to say too much about the romance. It was sweet, a little fast for the book, but not for the overall story. There were some pretty strong friendship relationships and a touch of parental relationship added in. This book really touched on every relationship a teen has in her/his life. 

The story itself is just heartbreaking. It's shameful that things like this happen and it sucks that the girl is the one that had to work so hard to prove she was right. This is why girls do not report things. Boys will boys is not an excuse and the though that people actually thought this sickens me. I don't want to get on too much of a rant because this would be the length of 10 reviews, but this is a serious issue and I am so happy that there are authors who can shed some light on the subject through stories. It was very well done. A very fast read, yes again I say heartbreaking, it brought tears to my eyes but it was enjoyable. 

Really is a must read but get the tissues out and maybe something to punch now and then.

Aaron Hartzler
Aaron Hartzler is the author of Rapture Practice (Little, Brown), a memoir about getting kicked out of his Christian high school two weeks before graduation. The New York Times called Rapture Practice "effervescent and moving, evocative and tender." It was also named one of Kirkus Reviews and Amazon's Best Books of 2013, and was a finalist for the Lambda Literary Award. His next book, a novel called What We Saw, will be published by HarperTeen on September 22, 2015. It's the story of a girl named Kate whose friend is assaulted by student athletes at a party, and how Kate navigates small town politics to find out what really happened. Aaron lives by the beach in Santa Monica with his two dogs, Charlie and Brahms. You can find him on Twitter and Facebook.

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