Thursday, August 4, 2016

Review ~ The Outliers by Kimberly McCreight

The Outliers by Kimberly McCreight

Series: Outliers (Book 1)
Hardcover: 352 pages
Publisher: HarperCollins (May 3, 2016)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0062359096
ISBN-13: 978-0062359094

I received this book for review this does not affect my opinion on this book, all opinions are my own. 

Synopsis:
From the New York Times bestselling author of Reconstructing Amelia comes a fast-paced teen series where one girl learns that in a world of intrigue, betrayal, and deeply buried secrets, it is vital to trust your instincts.

It all starts with a text: Please, Wylie, I need your help. Wylie hasn’t heard from Cassie in over a week, not since their last fight. But that doesn’t matter. Cassie’s in trouble, so Wylie decides to do what she has done so many times before: save her best friend from herself.

This time it’s different, though. Instead of telling Wylie where she is, Cassie sends cryptic clues. And instead of having Wylie come by herself, Jasper shows up saying Cassie sent him to help. Trusting the guy who sent Cassie off the rails doesn’t feel right, but Wylie has no choice but to ignore her gut instinct and go with him.

But figuring out where Cassie is goes from difficult to dangerous, fast. As Wylie and Jasper head farther and farther north into the dense woods of Maine, Wylie struggles to control her growing sense that something is really wrong. What isn’t Cassie telling them? And could finding her be only the beginning?

In this breakneck tale, New York Times bestselling author Kimberly McCreight brilliantly chronicles a fateful journey that begins with a single decision—and ends up changing everything.

My thoughts prior to reading:

When I first got this book I wasn't very interested in it. I hadn't heard much about it, and the cover looked a bit creepy but when my friend saw I had this book she got so excited. That made me wonder what the book was about and I became more interested in reading it. I then picked it up and was unable to put it down. 

My thoughts after reading:

When I turned that last page I thought what a cliff hanger? I want the next book now! Kimberly manages to create a very unpredictable book. Just when you think you get what is going on in the book there is a plot twist! Again and again she caught me off guard.


The Characters: 

Wylie: Wylie is the main character, a 16 year old who refuses to leave her home partly due to her mom's passing. Wylie is prone to being nervous and she is unable to control it. She has a therapist Dr. Shepard whom she can no longer go see because she is unable to make herself leave the house. To make matters worst her once best friend Cassie no longer comes to visit her. They had a falling out and now she is lonelier than ever.
Wylie misses her mom and although her father tries to make up for their loss he just isn't enough. The fact is that Wylie's mom loved unconditionally but she was also tough as nails when she needed to be. Wylie's dad is just "a hard-core nerd scientist who lives entirely in his head" and is unable to recreate her mother's affection.
Jasper: Jasper is Cassie's boyfriend. He shows up to Wylie's house because he gets a cryptic message from Cassie saying "Go to Wylie's house". He is worried for her and although he doesn't know Wylie very well and Wylie isn't very fond of him he goes. Once at Wylie's house Cassie says more messages indicating that she needs Wylie's help and that Jasper will be willing to drive her. Jasper does this even though it means he can't go back home to grab anything he might need, he will be leaving with just the clothes on his back.
Cassie: Although she is a essential character in this book we don't actually meet her in till later on in the book. What we know about her is from what she tells Wylie and Jasper via the text messages. The messages let us know that she messed up and is in trouble but not to call the police. Each message that she sends seems to get more frantic than the last. At one point she seems so desperate that she doesn't care if they call the police she just wants to be found. 
Jasper and Wylie set of not knowing where they are going Cassie only tells them vague directions like head north on x highway not a specific point where to go. They do as their told but Jasper's car starts to malfunction. Jasper is furious that his car gave out on him so early on in the rescue mission. Wylie glances around the gas station and sees if anyone might be willing to offer them help. She sees a woman with an infant and wonders if she would be willing to help. Wylie approaches her and asks to her surprise she says yes although the woman's husband seems to need more convincing than she did. Finally they set off on the road once again. Wylie and Jasper slightly cramped in the car but headed the right way nonetheless. As they stop at a place to eat things get out of hand. One thing leads to another and Wylie and Jasper end up running for their lives. This makes matters much more difficult in finding Cassie. Things seem to rapidly get worst before they get any better. You think you may be walking into a nice easy read but wind up with something entirely unexpected. This GIF shows how I felt when I started reading it and how I felt when I finished it.
This book was so intriguing just seeing what Jasper and Wylie do to get to Cassie. Once they find her the twists and turns this book takes. I highly recommend this book it is very enjoyable. The characters aren't always what they seem and just as you think you figured it out you will be blown away.

My Rating:

★★★★★
Check out the trailer below:




Wednesday, August 3, 2016

Waiting on Wednesday # 25


"Waiting On" Wednesday is a weekly event, hosted here, that spotlights upcoming releases that we're eagerly anticipating.

This week's pre-publication "can't-wait-to-read" selection is:


Frazzled: Everyday Disasters and Impending Doom by Booki Vivat 

Publication date: September 27, 2016
Synopsis:

Meet Abbie Wu. Abbie is in crisis—and not just because she’s starting middle school or because she’s stuck in a family that doesn’t quite get her or because everyone seems to have a Thing except her. Abbie Wu is always in crisis.

From debut author and professional doodler Booki Vivat, Frazzled dives right into the mind of this hilariously neurotic middle school girl as she tries to figure out who she is and where she belongs. Akin to Smile by Raina Telgemeier, Frazzled is heavily illustrated, embarrassingly honest, and sure to appeal to anyone in the middle of figuring out how to survive the everyday disasters of growing up.

What book are you looking forward to reading? Please let me know in a comment below.

Monday, July 4, 2016

Review ~ The Star Touched Queen by Roshani Chokshi

The Star-Touched Queen by Roshani Chokshi


Hardcover: 352 pages
Publisher: St. Martin's Griffin (April 26, 2016)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1250085470
ISBN-13: 978-1250085474

Synopsis:

An instant New York Times Bestseller!

Fate 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.

My thoughts prior to reading:

I saw so much hype about this book in the twitterverse and it had piqued my interest. I didn't think I would be picking it up soon because I have too many books I should already be reading but... when I went to visit a friend and they had a copy of it I picked it up to skim through it and ended up "borrowing" the book in till I was done. Yes... I gave it back... eventually  (you don't know how hard that was).

My thoughts after reading:

As soon as you open that first page and read about Maya and how others treat her only because of what the stars predict her future will be like. Everyone avoids her like the plague as if they too could catch her condemning horoscope. The only friend Maya has is her younger sister Gauri. A young girl who loves to hear Maya's stories regardless of what other people think of her. That was ultimately Maya's life in the palace but suddenly everything changes when her father informs her that she is to be married to avoid political turmoil. Maya is stunned but does as she is told willing to fulfill everything her father requests of her to the letter.
Maya is taken to a room full of prospective husbands ultimately she leaves the room with Amar from Akaran as her husband. He promises her so much, that she will be, the only one for him, rule equally, and so much more. Everything he has to offer seems a little too good to be true. Considering how Bharata is so different. Her own father had a harem of women. How was she to believe that she will be the only one for Amar? Maya also realizes that Amar is holding back a lot of information.  Maya becomes curious and demands answers via the secrets that the palace holds. What she finds and what she does with it will alter so much.

The way the book tells the story will make it hard for you to put down the book. I found myself absorbed in their world and turmoil. I loved the relationship with Maya and Amar and when I realized how much Amar was holding back I was still cheering for them. I knew this had to resolve itself right? Right?! This book should be added to your to-be-read shelf.

My Rating:

★★★★★

Friday, July 1, 2016

Review ~ Teacher Misery by Jane Morris

Teacher Misery: Helicopter Parents, Special Snowflakes, and Other Bullshit by Jane Morris


Paperback: 244 pages
Publisher: Truth Be Told Publishing (May 5, 2016)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0692697950
ISBN-13: 978-0692697955

Synopsis:

Teacher Misery perfectly encapsulates the comical misery that has become the teaching profession. Morris’ strange, funny, and sometimes unbelievable teaching experiences are told through a collection of short stories, essays and artifacts including real emails from parents, students and administrators. From the parents who blame their son’s act of arson on the teacher for causing him low self-esteem, to the student who offers to teach the teacher how to sell drugs so she can pay her bills, to the administrator whose best advice is to “treat kids like sacks of shit,” one story is more shocking than the next. An important read for teachers and non-teachers alike-- Teacher Misery paints an amusing and thoroughly entertaining picture of what has become of our education system, without detracting from the overall point that what teachers have to put up with today is complete, utter, unacceptable insanity.

My thoughts prior to reading:

I saw this book while scrolling through books that I would eventually like to read (like I don't have enough books to read). I saw this one online and thought this looks like a fun honest book I would love to read. So I reached out and requested a review copy. With that being said all my opinions are my own. 

My thoughts after reading:

I picked up the book almost immediately after receiving and I found myself turning page after page seeing teachers in a whole new light. I knew they had to put up with a lot but I never realized how much they truly go through. When I turned the last page I was quite frankly stunned at the things that go on in schools that we don't know about. Teachers get treated horribly by students, parents and on occasions by administrators (who I believe should be helping teachers not making their job worst). This book explains why so many teachers quit with vivid real life examples. I found myself engrossed with some of the stories given they seemed exaggerated or fabricated but these are all very much true (with the exemptions of the names). I love how Jane Morris wrote this book although clearly these events were less than pleasant she wrote in a funny way that we can laugh at. I can imagine her that although these terrible, terrible events happened she didn't see them as something negative she chose to shake her head and laugh it off. She seems like the type not to hold grudges but learn from each of these events.

This book is a great read and a real eye opener. I recommend you to pick up this book and check it out and with the upcoming school year, why not give a copy to a teacher as a sign of faith and moral support. They will need some good laughs through out the school year (which lets face it they will need it).  Have any of you experienced something crazy at a school? I have once while sitting waiting in the lobby I saw a mom yell at a teacher for a ridiculous reason but the teacher was calm and explained why he did what he did with tact but the mom just kept screaming at him and I was just there in the lobby filling pity for the teacher and anger for the mom's behavior. Please leave a comment below telling me a crazy story you have seen or heard at a school. 

My Rating:
★★★★★

Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Review ~ And I Darken by Kiersten White

And I Darken
And I Darken by Kiersten White

Age Range: 12 and up
Grade Level: 7 and up
Lexile Measure: 0750
Hardcover: 496 pages
Publisher: Delacorte Press (June 28, 2016)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0553522310
ISBN-13: 978-0553522310

Synopsis:
This vividly rendered novel reads like HBO’s Game of Thrones . . . if it were set in the Ottoman Empire. Ambitious in scope and intimate in execution, the story’s atmospheric setting is rife with political intrigue, with a deftly plotted narrative driven by fiercely passionate characters. Fans of Victoria Aveyard’s THE RED QUEEN, Kristin Cashore’s GRACELING, and Sabaa Tahir’s AN EMBER IN THE ASHES won’t want to miss this visceral, immersive, and mesmerizing novel, the first in a trilogy.

NO ONE EXPECTS A PRINCESS TO BE BRUTAL. And Lada Dragwlya likes it that way. Ever since she and her gentle younger brother, Radu, were wrenched from their homeland of Wallachia and abandoned by their father to be raised in the Ottoman courts, Lada has known that being ruthless is the key to survival. She and Radu are doomed to act as pawns in a vicious game, an unseen sword hovering over their every move. For the lineage that makes them special also makes them targets.

Lada despises the Ottomans and bides her time, planning her vengeance for the day when she can return to Wallachia and claim her birthright. Radu longs only for a place where he feels safe. And when they meet Mehmed, the defiant and lonely son of the sultan, who’s expected to rule a nation, Radu feels that he’s made a true friend—and Lada wonders if she’s finally found someone worthy of her passion.

But Mehmed is heir to the very empire that Lada has sworn to fight against—and that Radu now considers home. Together, Lada, Radu, and Mehmed form a toxic triangle that strains the bonds of love and loyalty to the breaking point.

From New York Times bestselling author Kiersten White comes the first book in a dark, sweeping new series in which heads will roll, bodies will be impaled . . . and hearts will be broken.

My thoughts prior to reading:

I received this book from a Twitter giveaway. Once I glimpsed at the synopsis I knew I had to read it, plus that cover is stunning.

My thoughts after reading:

The book started of strong introducing you to the main characters when they were children and you get to see them grow up. Lada is strong and not afraid to speak her mind while her brother Radu is the complete opposite he is quiet but people naturally gravitate towards him and confide in him. Lada and Radu are sent to the Ottomans only because his father seeks some sort of protection. Lada and Radu are both upset by this, Lada more so than Radu. For her Walachia holds a large part in her heart it is her country, and her home. Not once does she forget her home while she is living in a foreign country. Their time there is however not all bad. They make a friend, Mehmed, who is also the heir to the Ottoman's empire. As time progresses their friendship only grows stronger but time also brings trials for them. They each do what they can to overcome them. Lada, Radu and Mehmed's friendship truly becomes tested when their friendships warps into a love triangle that will test their loyalty. 
I enjoyed this book but when I was about 3/4 of the way it got really slow and I almost thought about putting it down but I didn't and I must admit the ending was magnificent. The book is nearly 500 pages long so if you don't like long books this may not be for you. There were a lot of points through out the book that I began to loose interest but it usually picks back up. This book is part of a series The Conquerors Saga. With that being said will I be reading the next book? Probably not there were too many times when the plot got slow and boring and the fact that I almost stopped reading doesn't help. I will most likely wait and see what other people think of the second book then decide to pick it up or not. 

My Rating:
★★★

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Matchmaker Play book by Rachel Van Dyken

Print Length: 306 pages
Publisher: Skyscape (April 5, 2016)
Publication Date: April 5, 2016

Synopsis (From Amazon):

Wingman rule number one: don’t fall for a client.

After a career-ending accident, former NFL recruit Ian Hunter is back on campus—and he’s ready to get his new game on. As one of the masterminds behind Wingmen, Inc., a successful and secretive word-of-mouth dating service, he’s putting his extensive skills with women to work for the lovelorn. But when Blake Olson requests the services of Wingmen, Inc., Ian may have landed his most hopeless client yet.

From her frumpy athletic gear to her unfortunate choice of footwear, Blake is going to need a miracle if she wants to land her crush. At least with a professional matchmaker by her side she has a fighting chance. Ian knows that his advice and a makeover can turn Blake into another successful match. But as Blake begins the transformation from hot mess to smokin’ hot, Ian realizes he’s in danger of breaking his cardinal rule…



My thoughts prior to reading:

When this book first arrived the cover did no appeal to me (I know I judge a book by a cover I am terrible), but once I read the synopsis I immediately picked it up to read. I mean how does that not catch your attention? Hunter sounds amazing and the fact that he is a major player but is falling hard for a girl, just one. Blake also sound it so cute and darn adorable.

My thoughts after reading it:



I may have melted a bit after reading it. It was as cute and lovable as I expected it to be. Hunter is your typical player and when he first meets Blake he acts like a total douchebag. Blake looks like a total tomboy when they first meet and she refuses his charms. Later unique circumstances bring them together again. Blake wants to get noticed by her childhood crush and hires Wingmen Inc. Only to find out that Hunter is the one behind it. Hunter quickly helps her change her fashion choices along with a few other tips. Hunter is surprised how stunning she looks after and wonders how he had not noticed her before. He finds himself delaying Blake’s progress because he did not want to let her go. He finds himself attracted more and more to her. The turmoil within Hunter will have you rooting for him and yelling at him to get over his self-doubt. You will also fall in love with Blake with her innocence. You will silently or not so silently want Blake to leave her childhood crush and get with Hunter. I highly recommend this book.


My Rating:
★★★★1/2

Thursday, May 12, 2016

Excerpt ~ The Kingdom of Oceana by Mitch Hookipa


Excerpt from Ch. 1: Waimoku Falls

            We climbed the backside of the canyon, still winding through the singing forest. A sudden gust blew through the treetops, causing the tall hollow stalks to cry a warning and my heart to beat faster. What danger was Nahoa getting me into this time?
            By midday we reached the tree line, and the terrain became near vertical, with slabs of volcanic rock stacked in a series of small ledges and caves.

            I turned around, looking out over the green bamboo treetops. To my right, the towering snow-capped summit of Mauna Kea dominated the sky. It was the tallest and most sacred spot on the Great Island, and on rare occasions smoke and ash billowed from its peak, rising above the icy white snowdrifts. Fortunately, there had not been a major eruption or lava flow in many generations.

            “I’ll race you to the top,” Nahoa challenged. “I’ll even give you a head start.”

            We had always enjoyed a spirited rivalry, feeding off each other’s competitive nature. I surveyed the cliff, picking my route.
            “You’re on,” I said as I hoisted myself up and grabbed onto a small lava finger hold. Just above me was a long fissure in the rock, sloping upward to my right and then back to the left. While this path would take me on a longer course, it was less demanding, and my best chance to beat Nahoa to the crest.

            He saw my plan. “Good, little brother. That path is safer.”

            I carefully moved forward, while Nahoa soon got stuck above me on the sheer vertical wall of lava, his legs dangling and his feet probing the cliffside.

            “Fingers getting tired?” I asked him as I moved closer to the top. I was going to beat him, for once.

            “I won’t be here long,” he said.

            As I followed the crevice back to the left, Nahoa whipped his body to the right and leapt off the cliff, his foot landing on my shoulder. He pushed off my neck and hoisted himself onto the ledge above me, just below the crest.

            “Thanks, omo,” he said with a wicked laugh.

            As I pulled myself onto the ridgetop I saw Nahoa ahead, following a fast-moving river that disappeared in the distance.
           
            “Move it!” he yelled above the sound of the rushing water.

            I hurried to catch up and we crossed the river along a jagged path of partially submerged boulders smoothed over by the rapids.

            Before us, the river gained strength where it merged with a smaller tributary and formed a swirling vortex that plummeted off the cliff as Waimoku Falls.

            “That’s it,” said Nahoa, pointing at a small hill piled with rubble just in front of where the two rivers joined.

            There we found the remains of a crescent-shaped fortress made from stacked lava rocks. The curved wall was crumbling, with crusty orange lichen growing in the crevices and bright green geckos sunning themselves on top. The ground was littered with shark teeth, razor sharp and bleached by the scorching tropical sun.
            I was disappointed. I’d hoped to find a great temple with cryptic markings or intricate carvings. What lay before us was nothing more than a pile of weather-beaten rocks.

            “Well, this is a waste of time,” said Nahoa. He picked up a stone and hurled it at the remains of the fortress. From beneath the broken wall, a gathering of centipedes scrambled to escape the sunlight.
            An icy wind went through me. It wasn’t like a tropical breeze that cools your sweaty cheek. No, it pierced my flesh like I was no more solid than a palm frond. Disturbing the centipedes was a bad omen—they were minions of the shadows.

            “Did you feel that?” I asked.

            Nahoa stood frozen, the hair on his arms standing on end.

            He swallowed. “Feel what?”

            “I don’t think we should be here,” I said, motioning for us to leave. For once, I hoped he’d agree with me.

            “Do you want me to hold your hand, little brother? We’ll just have a look around, that’s all.”
            Nahoa walked over to where he’d thrown the rock and knelt to examine the rubble. He picked through and uncovered a wooden tiki head. The carving was badly weathered, its left ear missing. Its mouth snarled, and its eyes glared with menace.
            I looked at my brother’s face. He was in a trance, his head tilted down and his eyes looking up. They were cold and lifeless.

            “Nahoa,” I screamed. “Stop playing around. That’s not funny!”

            But he just stood there. I yelled again, “Nahoa! We shouldn’t be here. Let’s go!”
            He blinked, but otherwise remained perfectly still.

            As I stepped toward him, Nahoa pulled his knife and backed me toward the rushing river.

            “It’s you that doesn’t belong here, little brother,” he said in a hushed tone.

            Then he charged at me like a wild boar, knocking me into the water. I stood up, knee- deep in the fast-moving river, and dug my feet into the rocky bottom, bracing myself so the current didn’t pull me downstream. Nahoa leapt again and landed on top of me, sending us both tumbling into the whitewater.

            Since we were old enough to walk, Nahoa and I had been schooled by the masters in lua[4]—wrestling, hand-to-hand combat, and the use of our tribe’s most savage battle weapons. From years as sparring partners, I knew all his offensive moves and counter attacks as though they were my own. But as we raced downstream, bouncing off the rocks and plummeting down the rapids, I felt as though I was fighting a stranger. And I was fighting for my life.

            Up ahead, jagged rocks rose above the waterline. I flipped onto my back with my feet below me, struggling against Nahoa’s hands wrapped around my throat. I kicked free of him, but that only quickened my pace down the rapids. I slammed into a boulder, my feet bracing my impact. I was exhausted, but knew I had to get out of the water before I reached the falls. I managed to clamber partway up a slippery rock, then gathered the strength to hoist myself completely from the rushing current. Upstream, I saw Nahoa dangling from a tree branch, the rapids churning below him.
            My footing slipped and in an instant I was back in the river. The turbulence engulfed me, pulling me into the foaming whitewater. Then I was weightless, freefalling.


[4]Anicent Hawaiian school of martial arts
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