Tuesday, December 30, 2014

The Best the New Year has to Offer

Ok Book Lovers,  let's talk new releases.  There are so many coming in 2015, but there are a handful that I am really looking forward to. Let's get down to the nitty gritty.

My most anticipated book doesn't come out until March 30th.  It seems like forever to wait for the next installment of Danielle Paige's wonderful Dorothy Must Die series.
In the second book, our heroine, Amy, will face even more challenges than Dorothy and her friends.  Just exactly who is that familiar shape on the cover?  What does it truly mean to be Wicked?  And will Amy and Nox figure out a way to have a relationship while still fighting for their precious cause?  When the book starts, Dorothy is no where to be seen.  Where did she go and what it the matter with the magic in Oz?   I can't wait for all these questions to be answered!

The next book I'm looking forward to is PS  I Still Love You by Jessica Han.  The first book, To All the Boys I've Loved Before was a delightful romp through the life of three teenage sisters.  I fell in love with the Song sisters and this often hysterical, always poignant tale of growing up and falling in love.  I can't wait to see what happens next.  Bummed I have to wait for June, but hey, it will be the perfect beach read!

Golden Son (Signed Book) (Red Rising Series #2)
The next book, Golden Son is the sequel to Red Rising, which I just finished.  Thankfully, I only have to wait 6 days for this one.  I can't wait to see what will happen to Darrow as he struggles with his identity and creating a dream of equality and freedom for his people.

This next one comes out January 20.  I read the first two books and loved them.  Sarah Addison Allen certainly knows how to bring the magic to life.  I'm looking forward to returning to Bascom, North Carolina to see what the Waverly sisters are up to.  If you haven't read Garden Spell or  Lost Lake, check them out.  

February 16th for this "beauty" 

This is the story of two friends, one strikingly beautiful who tries to play down her appearance to find true love; the other, a plain girl doing everything and anything to make herself more appealing to a man who has refused her.   I think this book will have many important things to say about what it really means to be beautiful.  I'm really looking forward to it.

June 9th - who can result a tale of forbidden love for a beach read?  A smart, teenage girl... her handsome, seemingly all - knowing English teacher.... yep, the perfect beach read. 

I'm sure there are more and will be more, but this is a good start for now.  What book release are you most looking forward to?

Sunday, December 28, 2014

Red Rising

I just finished Red Rising by Pierce Brown.  

This book was right up my alley.  It's a cross between Hunger Games and Ender's Game, with a little bit of Game of Thrones thrown into the mix. ( Wow, that's a whole lot of gaming...)  This is the story of 16 year old Darrow - a Red.  In Darrow's society, citizens are stratified by color with the Golds being the rulers and Reds living and dying a lie as slaves.  Circumstances arise in Darrow's life that change him physically, emotionally and mentally in ways that are initially impossible to foresee.  Darrow is seeking to change society for the better and, with the help of the Sons of Aries, this is something he tries to do from within.

There are wonderful conversations in this book about leadership and encouraging loyalty in others.  I loved all the various leadership styles included; especially those that Darrow goes through himself.  He truly grows as a person and as a leader, though the end of the story truly surprised me.  I  am looking forward to reading the second book in the series Golden Son.  

I highly recommend this book for all those who enjoyed Hunger Games and Game of Thrones, and also those who enjoy dystopian survival stories.  

Saturday, December 27, 2014

The Best of 2014

Every year I compile a list of the best books that I read in the previous year.  2014 was a year, like most others, with it's literary highs and lows.  These are the books, in no particular order, that stood out for me.

I am a HUGE fan of all things Oz.  I loved the original story by Frank L. Baum, I loved Gregory MacGuire's take on the friendship between the witches, but this.... this retelling is entirely fresh and new.  I loved every second of it.  I have started reading the prequels to understand why Dorothy returns to Oz in the first place and I am - quite literally - counting the seconds until the March release of the sequel called The Wicked  Will Rise.  If you love Oz or just enjoy a truly original retelling, this book is a must. 
This book by Rainbow Rowell is pure magic.  I love everything about it from the running soundtrack in my head to the absolute reality of the characters that she created.  Love is hard when you are a teenager because you feel everything so fiercely and yet, it's all so new and confusing.  Eleanor and Park isn't some sweet little teen love story - it is a gripping story about real problems and the way that people choose to face them.  

Ever since the Joy Luck Club,  I have absolutely loved Amy Tan. She has such a magical way of putting words together and painting pictures for her reader.  I love that she introduces me to strange cultures and yet makes her characters relate-able somehow.  This one sort of reminded me of Memoirs of a Geisha.  The first couple of chapters are a little difficult for some to get into, but this one is, in my opinion, well worth the effort.

I admit it.  I'm a dog lover and I'm a sucker for a book like this one.  It's typical early Sparks - it's a sad story with so much love in it.  I don't know why I hadn't read it before.  Probably because in his later works, Sparks has started to feel like a formula writer to me, but this one is still fresh and new.  I laughed and I cried.  It was just a wonderful, light and fluffy read that, in case you, like me, missed it the first time around, is well worth checking out.

This book was a book club selection - definitely something different for me.  It is the story of two young girls that have tragedy strike their lives.  As a result, they create a list of things that they will never do which should, statistically ensure that nothing ever happens to them again.  But, as we all know, life just does't work this way.  This is a gripping and compelling mystery.  The first and third chapters were difficult for me to read, but I was glad I did as they provide important clues to the rest of the story.  I read this in October.  It is truly the perfect Halloween read.

And from Halloween, we go to one of the two perfect beach reads that I gobbled down this summer while sitting by the beach or pool.  This one does have a bit of the supernatural to it.  E. Lockhart was a new author for me,  but I have since added four more of her books to my to be read list because I enjoyed this one so much.  It was quick and easy to read but there was just that something about it that made it memorable.

Ender's Game is one of my favorite all time novels.  I didn't know until recently that there were companion novels which told the same story but from the perspective of another main character, Bean.  As much as I loved Ender's Game and still do,  Ender's Shadow provided depth to all characters including my beloved Ender.  If you haven't read Ender's Game, what the hell are you waiting for?  If you do read it,  I highly suggest also reading Ender's Shadow.  Both books are brilliant.

This was the surprise breakout of the year for me.  My first Jojo Moyes book certainly won't be my last.  This book is a fantastic story about what makes a family and what a mother will do to help her children. I believe that truly great stories always make you feel something and boy, this one does that and then some.  I loved all the characters and found something about each one that I could relate to.  Norman is my favorite.  Don't know who Norman is?  Well you will definitely have to check this one out to find out.  I love how the story didn't go in the foreseeable way that I expected.  In the end, we all save ourselves.  :)

For all you thriller lovers out there, this book is a code ten heart attack.  It keeps you guessing from start to finish and never lets you off the hook.   I read this one during the height of the Ebola scare and it really had me going.  If you like spy stories and thrillers, this book is for you!

This book is the story of what happens to a beautiful, popular high school girl when she gets involved with Crank ( aka Meth)  It is told entirely in prose but beautifully written.  Everyone should read this book because it really demonstrates how drug use changes a person and effects every aspect of their lives and the lives of their loved ones.

My mother recommended this one and she never leads me wrong.  I loved this one because it is written about a time period - the 1920's just as the economic collapse is occurring - that I don't know much about.  It was a fascinating read and again - very quick, very easy to get into and the plot line keeps you guessing.  If you are looking for something different to read - definitely give this one a try.

These books were my top reads of 2014.  What were yours?

Friday, December 26, 2014

A Book Lover Celebrates the New Year

Everyone says that Christmas is the most wonderful time of year, but as for me, I prefer the New Year.  Its a time of new beginnings and fresh starts.  I love that.  As a book lover,  I set a reading goal every year because I always want to challenge myself to read new things and expand my horizons outside of my favorite genres.
I really like Goodreads for setting and trying to keep a reading goal.  I have set a goal for myself for the past two years.  Sadly, I didn't quite achieve my goal this year, but I remain undeterred.  I know some people would reduce their goal to help them attain it, but as for me,  I am going to persevere.  With one week left,  I am thirty books behind my goal of 150.  I will keep my goal at 150.
I know some of you are thinking, "You call yourself a book lover and you've only read 130 books this year?"   Please keep in mind that I don't usually read fluff, a romance novel is almost unheard of, and I don't count audio books.  Audio- that's listening - it isn't reading.  It's an entirely different skill set, but that is just my opinion.    If I were reading romance novels, well, I could polish off one - two a day, so a reading goal wouldn't be an issue.  I try to read books that will allow me to learn new things or expand my experiences or knowledge base.
At any rate, back to why I love the new year:   along with setting a reading goal, I select the first books of the new year.  The idea today as I perused my ever-growing to be read list was to select 10 books.  I managed to winnow it down to 19.  The first 19 of 2015.   Here they are:

I will be posting reviews on these books, and all my travels through the literary world as they occur.  I hope you will join me.  Don't hesitate to share your thoughts in the comments and share book suggestions.  I'm always looking for something good to read.