Wednesday, February 12, 2020

Review: Stealing Snow by Danielle Paige

About the Book

Stealing Snow by Danielle Paige
Published by Bloomsbury USA Children on September 20, 2016

GoodReads Description

First kisses sometimes wake slumbering princesses, undo spells, and spark happily ever afters.

Mine broke Bale.


Seventeen-year-old Snow has spent her life locked in Whittaker Psychiatric—but she isn’t crazy. And that’s not the worst of it. Her very first kiss proves anything but innocent…when Bale, her only love, turns violent.

Despite Snow knowing that Bale would never truly hurt her, he is taken away—dashing her last hope for any sort of future in the mental ward she calls home. With nowhere else to turn, Snow finds herself drawn to a strange new orderly who whispers secrets in the night about a mysterious past and a kingdom that’s hers for the taking—if only she can find her way past the iron gates to the Tree that has been haunting her dreams.

Beyond the Tree lies Algid, a land far away from the real world, frozen by a ruthless king. And there too await the River Witch, a village boy named Kai, the charming thief Jagger, and a prophecy that Snow will save them all.

My Thoughts

I really wanted to love this book.  I was so surprised that I didn't!  After all, many of my favorite books are fairy tale retellings and I had heard so many good things about this retelling of The Snow Queen.  As you will see below, there were plenty of things that I liked about it.  Unfortunately, however, the things that I didn't like outweighed the things that I did like.


What I Liked

  • I was drawn to this novel by its interesting premise.  I couldn't wait to see what Paige changed or didn't change from the original fairy tale.  Although elements of the original tale were definitely evident, there were not enough of these elements to feel like I was reading a true retelling.  However, I did like the elements that were presented because I felt like I was revisiting an old friend, The Snow Queen.
  • The cover is absolutely GORGEOUS! Even though I didn't like this very much, I may keep my copy around just to keep my shelf looking nice! 
  • There was never a dull moment in this novel.  It was constant action and I never found myself getting overwhelmed or lost in the action.  After all, it kept me interested and held my attention.  I simply needed to know what happened next!

What I Didn't Like As Much

  • I truly believe that Paige forgot to do any form of world-building for this novel.  Perhaps she had the idea of Algid so firmly in mind that she felt she didn't need to introduce it to her audience because they were as familiar with it as she was.  For me, this presented a huge problem as I was thrown into a foreign world with no form of map.  This made the plot much more difficult to understand and left the novel feeling lackluster.
  • This novel was definitely too short for all that Paige tried to put into it.  This means that although she introduces several wonderful ideas and subplots, none of them are fully developed.  Most readers, myself included, want to see these things become developed!  This was beyond frustrating for me, especially as the world surrounding these events was not built either.  In the end, this novel was a confusing pile of places and people that I wanted to know better.
  • What the heck happened at the end?  I have no idea why Snow goes to the place she chooses to go. I have no idea why she is so upset with another character that she knew was a liar the entire freaking time.  
Overall, I was disappointed with this novel.  I had wanted to see so much more, but it just wasn't there.  The sequel is set to be released in October 2020 and I must decide if I will read it or just let it fall to the wayside.  Part of me is curious to see how her writing has developed in the years between novels.  The other part does not want to be disappointed again.

Notable Quote

And maybe, just maybe, it didn't matter how you looked going into battle.  It just mattered that you went.

My Rating


Sunday, February 9, 2020

DNF Chronicles #1: Searoad by Ursula K. LeGuin

About the Book

Published January 27, 2004 by Shambhala

GoodReads Description

In one of her most deeply felt works of fiction, Le Guin explores the dreams and sorrows of the inhabitants of Klatsand, Oregon, a beach town where ordinary people bring their dreams and sorrows for a weekend or the rest of their lives, and sometimes learn to read what the sea writes on the sand. Searoad is the story of a particular place that could be any place, and of a people so distinctly drawn they could be any of us.

I did not Finish this Book because...

I simply did not care about any of the characters in the first two character sketches.  I truly wanted to like this book because I know that LeGuin is a famous author that many of my favorite writers truly adore.  Instead of adoring her work, I found myself dreading sitting down to read about characters that I had no reason to care about.  This piece was written without a plot in mind, so I knew that I would not see any long lasting character growth. 

In the Future...

I may choose to try this book again after reading some of LeGuin's more famous novels.  As I have never read any of her work before trying Searoad, I wonder if my opinion may change when I am more familiar with her work and her style.

Wednesday, January 29, 2020

Review: This is Where it Ends by Marieke Nijkamp

About the Book

This is Where it Ends by Marieke Nijkamp
Published by Sourcebooks Fire on January 5, 2016

GoodReads Description

10:00 a.m. The principal of Opportunity High School finishes her speech, welcoming the entire student body to a new semester and encouraging them to excel and achieve.

10:02 a.m. The students get up to leave the auditorium for their next class.

10:03 a.m. The auditorium doors won't open.

10:05 a.m. Someone starts shooting.

Told from four different perspectives over the span of fifty-four harrowing minutes, terror reigns as one student’s calculated revenge turns into the ultimate game of survival.

My Thoughts

This is Where it Ends was recommended to me by a paraprofessional at my school.  I was surprised that she was so willing to lend it to me as she was in the middle of it herself.  As a result, I read it as quickly as possible so that I could let her get back to her reading.  Reviewing this book proved difficult because I have an opinion of it as a regular person and a different opinion of it as a teacher.  Therefore, I decided that I should use this review as a way to combine those two opinions.

What I Liked

  • The characters in this novel were very well developed.  Of them, my favorite two were Autumn and Claire.  Both of these girls knew the shooter rather intimately and yet had very different opinions of what happened.  While they both agreed that they were scared and that there was senseless violence occurring, both were affected in very strong ways by the very same person.  This definitely demonstrates the massive impacts that one person can have on the lives of several.
  • Although I had two favorite characters, I loved that Nijkamp chose to write from the points of view of several characters.  Because of this, I felt that Nijkamp did a wonderful job of showing how the actions of one person can change the lives of so many others. 

What I Didn't Like As Much

  • In my opinion, and apparently a few people on GoodReads as well, Tyler's character fell flat.  He was supposed to be this very conflicted and troubled young man.  Instead, he was portrayed as simply "evil" or "bad."  While I will agree that his actions were unthinkable, I have a hard time accepting the black and white thinking involved in this scenario.  By the time the majority of school shootings take place, the perpetrator has demonstrated behaviors that show he/she needs help.  This could be for a variety of reasons such as mental health issues or family troubles.  As long as the general public and authors such as Nijkamp perpetuate the ideology that all school shooters do it because they are evil, it becomes increasingly difficult for these students to get the help they need before the shooting or other attack occurs.

My Rating



Let's Chat

Do you think that this book should go into my classroom library?  Would you put a similar book in your classroom?  Explain your answer in the comments below!

Wednesday, January 22, 2020

The Top Three Reasons You Should Read The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern

About the Book

The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern
Published by Doubleday on September 13, 2011

GoodReads Description

The circus arrives without warning. No announcements precede it. It is simply there, when yesterday it was not. Within the black-and-white striped canvas tents is an utterly unique experience full of breathtaking amazements. It is called Le Cirque des RĂªves, and it is only open at night.

But behind the scenes, a fierce competition is underway—a duel between two young magicians, Celia and Marco, who have been trained since childhood expressly for this purpose by their mercurial instructors. Unbeknownst to them, this is a game in which only one can be left standing, and the circus is but the stage for a remarkable battle of imagination and will. Despite themselves, however, Celia and Marco tumble headfirst into love—a deep, magical love that makes the lights flicker and the room grow warm whenever they so much as brush hands.

True love or not, the game must play out, and the fates of everyone involved, from the cast of extraordinary circus performers to the patrons, hang in the balance, suspended as precariously as the daring acrobats overhead.

Written in rich, seductive prose, this spell-casting novel is a feast for the senses and the heart.

The Top Three Reasons You Should Read This Book

  1. The world building in this novel is phenomenal! There was not a single sentence that left me wondering where I was or why the scenery was mentioned.  I absolutely adored each moment of this enchanting tale because I never knew what would be around the next corner.  What would Marco create next? What would Celia bring?
  2. The love between Marco and Celia is strong and passionate.  It is not, however, erotic or graphic.  I was blown away by Morgenstern's ability to create such a pure love that shows the importance of self-sacrifice and true dedication.  Too often, our society values sex and lust in relationships.  I found it refreshing to see a romance that brought us back to the most important fundamentals of true love.
  3. This novel takes place in the 18th century and Morgenstern's writing style reflects that.  Rather than choosing to write as a modern woman writing about that time period, she writes as many authors in the 18th century would have.  For the reader, this adds to the enchanting experience as the reader is truly transported back in time.  This could not have been completed with any other writing style.

My Rating





Wednesday, January 15, 2020

Review: Made You Up by Francesca Zappia

About the Book

Made You Up by Francesca Zappia
Published by Greenwillow Books on May 19, 2015

GoodReads Description

Reality, it turns out, is often not what you perceive it to be—sometimes, there really is someone out to get you. Made You Up tells the story of Alex, a high school senior unable to tell the difference between real life and delusion. This is a compelling and provoking literary debut that will appeal to fans of Wes Anderson, Silver Linings Playbook and Liar.

Alex fights a daily battle to figure out the difference between reality and delusion. Armed with a take-no-prisoners attitude, her camera, a Magic 8-Ball, and her only ally (her little sister), Alex wages a war against her schizophrenia, determined to stay sane long enough to get into college. She’s pretty optimistic about her chances until classes begin, and she runs into Miles. Didn't she imagine him? Before she knows it, Alex is making friends, going to parties, falling in love, and experiencing all the usual rites of passage for teenagers. But Alex is used to being crazy. She’s not prepared for normal.

Funny, provoking, and ultimately moving, this debut novel featuring the quintessential unreliable narrator will have readers turning the pages and trying to figure out what is real and what is made up.

My Thoughts

I have really been hitting the jackpot on books at Goodwill lately!  I was so excited when I found this one because I absolutely fell in love with the cover.  The cover is beautiful, the contents are enchanting.

If you are looking for an absolute roller coaster read, this is a good option for you.  Because Zappia took the time needed to understand paranoid schizophrenia and uses first person point of view, the reader is able to experience the experiences that Alex goes through right along with her.  Much like Alex, the reader has no way of predicting when or where the hallucinations will hit.  This adds to the realism of the novel and had me hanging on to every breath to see what was next.

Alex is a very well-written character.  Not only is her disorder well-researched and brought to life, she is a typical high school girl who struggles with typical high school things.  I loved that Zappia did not try to write Alex as an extra mature or more "adult" teen.  Alex is awkward and gawky and weird.  She is trying to figure out things that all high school girls need to go through.  Not only does this make her easier for the intended audience to relate to, it helps them to understand what life with a disorder such as paranoid schizophrenia could be like.  I am excited to add this to my classroom library because I believe that it will help encourage student empathy.

Because Made You Up is filled with brilliant characterization and simple world-building, it can be very easy for the reader to tell what Alex is hallucinating.  I loved that it was not always easy.  I spent almost the entire novel believing that Miles would be the made up character.  When I found out who it was, I was MAD.  I slammed the books shut, called my boyfriend, and made him listen to me rant about it for half an hour.  When I was done annoying him, I texted my friend and blew up her phone.  Zappia made me that person with her wonderful writing skills.

I absolutely loved this book!  It was funny and filled with surprises.  It encourages empathy and brings the reader into a world that becomes their own.  I cannot wait to read more of Zappia's wonderful work!

My Rating


Sunday, January 12, 2020

Promo Post: Beautifully Broken by Bailey B.

About the Book

Title: Beautifully Broken
Author: Bailey B.
Published: December 20th, 2019
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Age Recommendation: 16+

Synopsis


Piper


Most people don’t think about the day they’ll die. They coast through life, blissfully unaware of how their time is ticking away. I wasn’t like most people. I welcomed death, wanted her to take me away from the prison I called life, but she refused. I tried twice only to survive. And then, when I thought I had nothing left it came.
A reason to live.

Rex was a small, unexpected ray of light my world of darkness that blossomed into a beam of sunshine. I thought, maybe this was why Death didn’t take me. Maybe she knew that if I held on a little longer things would turn around. But the third time Death came to my door wasn’t by choice. Someone else brought her, and I fear this time she might take me.

Rex

Being the son of a country star sucks. My parents are never around, I move every year or so, and I have no real friends. Everyone around me has an agenda. Everyone except Piper Lovelace. I can’t get that girl to notice me. Trust me I’ve tried.

Thankfully, fate stepped in and gave me the break I needed. I’ve got her attention, now I need her to give me a chance.

About the Author

Bailey B is an up and coming New Adult author. She lives in Lehigh Acres Florida with her husband, twin girls, and two fur babies. She enjoys (but doesn’t get to take part in because of her crazy daughters) the simple things like Disney+ binge watching, Netflix romcoms, reading and sleeping. She reads two to three books a week and thinks if narwhal’s are real animals then unicorns might be too.




Excerpt

“Stop,” I mumble, my smile growing harder to contain. There’s a playful energy building between us, one I wish he’d act on.

The corner of Rex’s lips twitch as he tries to hold a straight face. “Stop what?”

“Looking at me. It’s weird.” My heart hammers in my chest, beating against my flesh like a caged animal desperate to get out. I lick my lips. Why? I don’t know. Apparently, my tongue has a mind of its own and wants his attention. Rex’s gaze flickers down to it for a full second then finds my eyes again. He shifts, turning his body towards me, leaning an inch closer.

I can do this. If he can touch me, he can kiss me. What’s the worst that can happen? I don’t know, a debilitating panic attack where you seize up and die? Meh, I’ll risk it.

“I can’t help it,” Rex says breaking eye contact to take a sip of his water. “You’re beautiful.”

Butterflies swarm in my stomach. I don’t know how he’s doing this to me. I feel alive again. Maybe this is why Death didn’t take me. Maybe she knew Life had a plan and something good was coming. Rex could be that something good. I roll my eyes, a nervous laugh escaping me. “Yeah. Okay.”

Rex leans back against the arm of the couch, his brows knitting together. “Can I ask you something?

Oh gosh, this is it. He’s going to ask to kiss me like a true gentleman. Yes! The answer is yes! “Maybe.”

He chuckles, and the sound sends the butterflies into overdrive. So much flipping and thumping inside me. I can’t take the anticipation anymore. I’m ready.



Wednesday, January 1, 2020

2020 Reading Challenges

Hey everyone!

As usual, I'm going to try to complete the GoodReads Reading Challenge.  I did not meet my goal in 2019, so I am going to keep the same goal in 2020 with 52 books.

For an extra push, I've decided to do two other reading challenges. 

First, we have a BINGO style challenge with broad categories.  Welcome to Armed With a Bingo from Armed With a Book.


Next, we have a second BINGO style challenge.  This time the categories are more challenging as all of the books must be retellings. This is brought to us by Cornerfolds.



As the year progresses, I will keep you updated on both of these challenges.  I plan to have a page for each one so that you can follow along!