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Friday, February 28, 2014

YA Review: Burning Sky by Sherry Thomas

The Burning Sky by Sherry Thomas
Publication Date: September 17th, 2013
Publisher: Balzer + Bray
Page Count: 464 pages
Format: Finished Copy
Source: NCIBA Conference
Genre: Fantasy
Ages: 14+

It all began with a ruined elixir and an accidental bolt of lightning…

Iolanthe Seabourne is the greatest elemental mage of her generation—or so she's being told. The one prophesied for years to be the savior of The Realm. It is her duty and destiny to face and defeat the Bane, the greatest mage tyrant the world has ever known. A suicide task for anyone let alone a sixteen-year-old girl with no training, facing a prophecy that foretells a fiery clash to the death.

Prince Titus of Elberon has sworn to protect Iolanthe at all costs but he's also a powerful mage committed to obliterating the Bane to avenge the death of his family—even if he must sacrifice both Iolanthe and himself to achieve his goal.

But Titus makes the terrifying mistake of falling in love with the girl who should have been only a means to an end. Now, with the servants of the Bane closing in, he must choose between his mission and her life.

After hearing everyone rave about Burning Sky and how amazing it is I knew it would be a great book club pick and I was not wrong at all. High fantasy is incredibly rare in YA these days and I'm always looking for a mystical, magical world to sink myself into so Burning Sky became a must read. Let me just tell you, if you're looking for a world like Hogwarts or Narnia but for teens, than this is the book for you. Burning Sky is a mixture of high fantasy thriller and magical realism that will keep you guessing until the last page. I'm so thrilled that this is going to be a trilogy because I still have so many questions!

Iolanthe is supposedly the greatest mage of her generation and everyone wants something from her. The enigmatic and standoffish Prince wants her love, the Bane wants her power, but Iolanthe just wants to be free. Iolanthe is a great character. She's still naive enough to make poor choices, but strong enough to stand on her own when she needs to. There are also a lot of secondary characters that I just loved and I really hope that they come back in the next novels. 

If you're looking for an exciting and fast-paced fantasy story this is one for you. I know this book has been getting a lot of hype but it's for a good reason. My entire YA book club loved it and agreed that it's a great edition to the YA genre. I can't wait to see what else Sherry Thomas comes up with and I need more Prince Titus in my life! If you've been on the fence about reading this one than definitely sway toward READING IT NOW! I promise, you won't be disappointed! Burning Sky is great for fans of Graceling, Harry Potter, and Tamora Pierce!

Thursday, February 6, 2014

Upcoming NYMBC Events in the Bay Area!

The Bay Area has tons of great young adult events happening all the time! Check out what's coming up and mark your calendars for the awesome!!

Monday, February 3, 2014

Discussion Post - Do you reread books over and over again?

Rereading Books: Why I rarely do it, but probably should.

Why I rarely reread books.
I don't have the time. Seriously, finding the time to read a book once is hard enough and finding time to read that same book again is just impossible. As much as I love some books and genuinely want to reread them, it's hard to make an argument for it. I mean, I already know how the story is going to end, and I could spend that 5 hours it will take me to reread it to read something completely new.

I guess, some of the reasoning also has to do with work and blogging. When you work as a children's specialist, people expect you to be up-to-date on the newest and best books for kids. However, they also expect you to recommend classic books that their kids may not have read yet. For example, The Phantom Tollbooth or Secret of Platform 13, which are two books I read as a kid and loved. Do I remember anything about Secret of Platform 13? Not at all. I remember I loved it, but I have no idea what it's about anymore. It's hard to recommend a book that you don't remember the plot for. I find myself regularly thinking, "I should go back and reread that book..." and then never get around to it.

I think the biggest reason I don't reread books is because I just can't commit myself to the time it will take to read something old when I have over 300 books that need to be read for the first time on my shelves. I feel like I'm missing out on the opportunity to discover a whole new world by revisiting an old one. Also, a lot of what I read is so heavily dictated by blogging and work that I feel like by rereading something I'm missing out on the opportunity to review something new that people may not have heard of yet. I know it's kind of a ridiculous notion, and something I'm really trying to get away from this year, but still. Blogging and work will constantly be in the background of my reading choices.

Why should I even reread books?
Like I said earlier, there are a lot of books that I read when I was younger and I want to recommend them to kids now, but for the life of me I can't remember what they're about. Most of my memories come from watching the movie, if it came out later. Like Holes? I read Holes when I was in like, second grade, but what I remember the most is what happened in the (seriously awesome and hilarious) movie. I should probably reread Holes, mostly for content.

As a bookseller, it's important that I don't recommend books to kids that might be inappropriate for them. When parents ask about content, I need to know what the worst part of the book might be for specific kids. Kids who get scared easily aren't going to like Harry Potter or Wildwood. They get dark, people die, there is blood. These are things that sensitive kids won't be able to deal with. Which is fine. But, it's necessary for me to know how dark the content may get so that I don't recommend those books to kids who won't be able to handle it.

Also, sometimes I know a book will be great for someone, but my ability to talk it up is compromised when I can't remember what it's about. I have to say more than, "Yeah it's awesome! There are fairies or something like that!" Would you read that book? Probably not. I have to at least remember the basic premise. Also sex. I need to know if there's some crazy sex scene in it. I don't want to give a book to a 12 year old's grandma that has an intense sex scene in it. Usually working with kids is easier because I can ask them what they've read and how they felt about it and I can judge their interests and maturity levels better. But still. I need to know these things.

Which books do I actually reread?
There are very few books I've reread in my life, but some of them include: The Great Gatsby, which I read every summer just to remind myself why I love it so much; Chronicles of Narnia, which I also read every summer, all of them; Harry Potter, which I try to read every couple of years, but it usually takes me awhile.

Okay that's it. I've reread some books, mostly for school, but I don't revisit them regularly.

So which books, if any, do you reread? Are you a repeat reader?

Friday, January 31, 2014

YA Review - More Than This by Patrick Ness

More Than This by Patrick Ness
Publication Date: September 10th, 2013
Publisher: Candlewick
Page Count: 480 pages
Format: ARC
Source: NCIBA 2013
Genre: Science Fiction?
Ages: 14+
Buy It
From two-time Carnegie Medal winner Patrick Ness comes an enthralling and provocative new novel chronicling the life — or perhaps afterlife — of a teen trapped in a crumbling, abandoned world.

A boy named Seth drowns, desperate and alone in his final moments, losing his life as the pounding sea claims him. But then he wakes. He is naked, thirsty, starving. But alive. How is that possible? He remembers dying, his bones breaking, his skull dashed upon the rocks. So how is he here? And where is this place? It looks like the suburban English town where he lived as a child, before an unthinkable tragedy happened and his family moved to America. But the neighborhood around his old house is overgrown, covered in dust, and completely abandoned. What’s going on? And why is it that whenever he closes his eyes, he falls prey to vivid, agonizing memories that seem more real than the world around him? Seth begins a search for answers, hoping that he might not be alone, that this might not be the hell he fears it to be, that there might be more than just this. . . .
Let me start off by saying, I love Patrick Ness. I really do. A Monster Calls is one of my all-time favorite books. But, More Than This really just felt like a throw away novel to me. At over 500 pages with more than 20-something unfinished plot lines, More Than This is just a bogged down mess of nonsense. Don't get me wrong, the writing style maintains the same lyrical and mesmerizing lilt that Ness's other books carry, but the story is just a confusing and slow-moving science fiction wannabe. I honestly finished this book and thought, "But wait, there has to be MORE THAN THIS." Even now I still don't understand what I read.

The story starts off with an intriguing prologue, where Seth is dead and he wakes up in what can only be his own personal hell. Right? Sure looks that way to me. But is it? I still don't know. 500 pages later and I know less than I did when I began. I can't tell if Patrick Ness began this book as an attempt to write a hard science fiction novel, or a philosophical look at the afterlife, or maybe an example of the struggles that teens can face, or maybe even an idea of where our overly techie world is headed. Seriously, I have no idea. No questions were answered, but more questions were definitely raised. I will admit that after 300 pages I skipped to the end. I couldn't take the waiting anymore. It felt like nothing was ever going to happen. I did talk with a friend about what happened in between and together we were still confused. Are there some positives? Sure. The writing is great. Okay that's it. The characters are poorly developed, there are over 20 plot lines that are never finished and just fall off the face of the planet, and there are probably 200 pages too many. Patrick Ness, what are you doing to me?

Would I recommend this book to anyone? No, probably not. Instead pick up, A Monster Calls or Knife of Never Letting Go and "call" this one a throw away because you can't "let go" of the confusion you feel after reading it. Seriously, there has to be MORE THAN THIS. Ha. You see what I did there? That's why he chose the title.

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Waiting on Wednesday - Brazen by Katherine Longshore

****"Waiting on Wednesday" is a weekly event hosted by Jill at the Breaking The Spine, that spotlights upcoming releases that we're eagerly anticipating.****

Brazen by Katherine Longshore
Expected Publication Date: June 12th, 2014
Publisher: Viking Children's Books
Page Count: 528 pages
Genre: Historical Fiction, Romance
Ages: 14+
Buy Now
Mary Howard has always lived in the shadow of her powerful family. But when she’s married off to Henry Fitzroy, King Henry VIII’s illegitimate son, she rockets into the Tudor court’s inner circle. Mary and “Fitz” join a tight clique of rebels who test the boundaries of court’s strict rules with their games, dares, and flirtations. The more Mary gets to know Fitz, the harder she falls for him, but is forbidden from seeing him alone. The rules of court were made to be pushed…but pushing them too far means certain death. Is true love worth dying for?
Why I Can't Wait: I absolutely adore Katherine's books. If you've followed me for awhile you know how much I love her books. Tudor era fiction is my favorite, FAVORITE, and I've been looking forward to Brazen for a long time now. In fact, I'll let you in on a little secret. I've already read it. Yeah and it's amazing. SO BE PREPARED FOR SOME AWESOMENESS.


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According to FTC guidelines I must point out that all of the books that I review on my blog were either purchased by me or were given to me by the author/publisher. All words and opinions expressed are my own and I do not receive any monetary goods for writing reviews. I will state in my review which books I have received for review and which books I have purchased/borrowed. All images and synopsis are taken from unless otherwise stated.
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