Category Archives: Series

Monsters on the Run

Finished Monsters on the Run by Kevin Sherry.  I received a copy from the publisher for review.

Summary (from Goodreads):

Blizz Richards and his band of wacky cryptids are back for another illustrated adventure!

Everyone thinks the Loch Ness monster is one-of-a-kind. But that just means Nessie’s lonely. And only yeti Blizz Richards and his team of cryptozoologists can help her find a friend just like her. With a little help from a time-traveling leprechaun, the gang travels back 65 million years to the age of dinosaurs to begin the search.

But they aren’t ready for the dangers that wait for them: monstrously mean dinos. Giants with razor-sharp teeth. Terrifyingly cute little kitties. Can Blizz keep his team safe, or will they have to sacrifice everything to help Nessie find a friend?”

This book randomly showed up in my house one day, and seemed like a perfect early chapters read (I’m sure there’s a term for this, the books that are probably one step below middlegrade?) for me, the kind of book I would’ve loved when I was little.

Blizz and his friends seem to help out mythical creatures (I haven’t read the first book, but now I want to) and their new project is to help Vanessa (the Loch Ness Monster) find her family.  (ADORABLE RIGHT?)  They find a way to go back in time, because they believe that she must be a dinosaur or dinosaur descendent that didn’t die off when everyone else did.

So now they’re back with the dinosaurs and—as anyone who has ever seen Jurassic Park can tell you—it’s not fun like you’d think.  Nessie gets to find relatives and they’re nice but a lot of the other dinosaurs are mean. Also, hungry.

The best part of the book, though? A shoutout to Chessie, the Chesapeake Bay version of the Loch Ness Monster!

Recommended for new readers.

Of Dreams and Rust

Finished Of Dreams and Rust by Sarah Fine.  I received a copy from the publisher for review.

Summary (from Goodreads):

War erupts in this bittersweet sequel to “Of Metal and Wishes”, inspired by The Phantom of the Opera and called “relentlessly engrossing” by The Romantic Times.

In the year since the collapse of the slaughterhouse where Wen worked as her father’s medical assistant, she’s held all her secrets close. She works in the clinic at the weapons factory and sneaks away to nurse Bo, once the Ghost, now a boy determined to transform himself into a living machine. Their strange, fragile friendship soothes some of the ache of missing Melik, the strong-willed Noor who walked away from Wen all those months ago—but it can’t quell her fears for him.

The Noor are waging a rebellion in the west. When she overhears plans to crush Melik’s people with the powerful war machines created at the factory, Wen makes the painful decision to leave behind all she has known—including Bo—to warn them. But the farther she journeys into the warzone, the more confusing things become. A year of brutality seems to have changed Melik, and Wen has a decision to make about him and his people: How much is she willing to sacrifice to save them from complete annihilation?”

I was so obsessed with the first book in this series (Of Metal and Wishes) and I was beyond delighted when this came in my mailbox.

This is a reimagining of the Phantom of the Opera story and with Phantom, I am totally Team Phantom but with this, I love the Raoul character (or Melik, as he’s known here).  But I also love Bo (the Phantom).

And I love Wen, who is a total badass and is willing to put herself at risk to save the people she loves.

Like Of Metal and Wishes, this is amazing. And it made me cry a little bit.

Recommended.

 

The Boy Most Likely To

Finished The Boy Most Likely To by Huntley Fitzpatrick.  I received a copy from the publisher for review.

Summary (from Goodreads):

Surprises abound and sparks ignite in the highly anticipated, utterly romantic companion to My Life Next Door

Tim Mason was The Boy Most Likely To:
– find the liquor cabinet blindfolded
– need a liver transplant
– drive his car into a house

Alice Garrett was The Girl Most Likely To:
– well, not date her little brother’s baggage-burdened best friend, for starters.

For Tim, it wouldn’t be smart to fall for Alice. For Alice, nothing could be scarier than falling for Tim. But Tim has never been known for making the smart choice, and Alice is starting to wonder if the “smart” choice is always the right one. When these two crash into each other, they crash hard.

Then the unexpected consequences of Tim’s wild days come back to shock him. He finds himself in a situation that isn’t all it appears to be, that he never could have predicted . . . but maybe should have.

And Alice is caught in the middle.

Told in Tim’s and Alice’s distinctive, disarming, entirely compelling voices, this return to the world of My Life Next Door is a story about failing first, trying again, and having to decide whether to risk it all once more.”

After reading My Life Next Door, I was so excited to dive immediately back into the world of the Garretts.  This time, it’s about Jase’s older sister Alice and her relationship with Tim (who we know from My Life Next Door; he’s Samantha’s best friend’s brother).  I didn’t really like Tim from the first book; I absolutely fell in love with him here. And I want to marry Alice.

Like My Life Next Door, this book is a great love story but the better story here is Tim trying so hard to reinvent himself and to be better than he’s been in the past. It’s easy to say that it’s because of Alice (and I’m sure that’s part of it) but it has more to do with the fact that he wants to wants to be better for his own sake, too.

(I’m hoping the next Garrett book will be a middlegrade from George’s point of view.  I think that book would be absolute perfection.)

Highly recommended.

My Life Next Door

Finished My Life Next Door by Huntley Fitzpatrick.

Summary (from Goodreads):

The Garretts are everything the Reeds are not. Loud, messy, affectionate. And every day from her rooftop perch, Samantha Reed wishes she was one of them . . . until one summer evening, Jase Garrett climbs up next to her and changes everything.

As the two fall fiercely for each other, stumbling through the awkwardness and awesomeness of first love, Jase’s family embraces Samantha – even as she keeps him a secret from her own. Then something unthinkable happens, and the bottom drops out of Samantha’s world. She’s suddenly faced with an impossible decision. Which perfect family will save her? Or is it time she saved herself?

A transporting debut about family, friendship, first romance, and how to be true to one person you love without betraying another.”

This is my very first Huntley Fitzpatrick novel and, for someone who is completely obsessed with contemp YA, that’s an embarrassing thing to admit.

I’d heard her books were excellent, and they seemed like something I’d really love, but I still kept putting them off.

And then I read this one and just completely fell in book smit.  It was everything I had been told and more.

My Life Next Door is sweet, but there’s so much going on there.  It’s a love story, yes, but also about family (and the fact that the family you choose can be better than the family you have) and it’s just amazing.

I love Samantha and the way that she’s so fascinated with this loud family next door, even though her mom is so completely snobby about them.  And I love the loud family next door (seriously, can they adopt me? Because they already have a lot of people and I do earn money) even though in general, I dislike loud.

It’s just perfect.  If, like me, you’ve been avoiding her books, change that.  NOW.

Highly recommended.

X

Finished X by Sue Grafton.  I received a copy for review from the publisher.

Summary (from Goodreads):

X:  The number ten. An unknown quantity. A mistake. A cross. A kiss.

X:
 The shortest entry in Webster’s Unabridged. Derived from Greek and Latin and commonly found in science, medicine, and religion. The most graphically dramatic letter. Notoriously tricky to pronounce: think xylophone.

X: 
The twenty-fourth letter in the English alphabet.

Sue Grafton’s X: Perhaps her darkest and most chilling novel, it features a remorseless serial killer who leaves no trace of his crimes. Once again breaking the rules and establishing new paths, Grafton wastes little time identifying this sociopath. The test is whether Kinsey can prove her case against him before she becomes his next victim.”

Sue Grafton is one of the longest literary relationships of my life.  I’m pretty sure she’s the third longest author (first two are Stephen King and Sara Paretsky, respectively) whose new books I still read at the first available chance.  I started reading her books in high school, and each new mystery is still welcomed with much excitement.

I feel like her books are getting darker and this one is no exception.  We learn who the villain is pretty early on but the novel is still incredibly interesting and tense because where is the proof? It’s all well and good to say, “Oh, this guy is straight up murdering people” but unless you can prove it, nothing can be done.

This isn’t my favorite of hers, but it’s very interesting and creepy.  (Sociopaths are scary, guys.)  And it’s always wonderful to spend a few hours with Kinsey.

We only have two books left.  :(

Recommended.

Queen of the Tearling

Finished Queen of the Tearling by Erika Johansen.  I received a copy from the publisher for review.

Summary (from Goodreads):

An untested young princess must claim her throne, learn to become a queen, and combat a malevolent sorceress in an epic battle between light and darkness in this spectacular debut—the first novel in a trilogy.

Young Kelsea Raleigh was raised in hiding after the death of her mother, Queen Elyssa, far from the intrigues of the royal Keep and in the care of two devoted servants who pledged their lives to protect her. Growing up in a cottage deep in the woods, Kelsea knows little of her kingdom’s haunted past . . . or that its fate will soon rest in her hands.

Long ago, Kelsea’s forefathers sailed away from a decaying world to establish a new land free of modern technology. Three hundred years later, this feudal society has divided into three fearful nations who pay duties to a fourth: the powerful Mortmesne, ruled by the cunning Red Queen. Now, on Kelsea’s nineteenth birthday, the tattered remnants of the Queen’s Guard—loyal soldiers who protect the throne—have appeared to escort the princess on a perilous journey to the capital to ascend to her rightful place as the new Queen of the Tearling.

Though born of royal blood and in possession of the Tear sapphire, a jewel of immense power and magic, Kelsea has never felt more uncertain of her ability to rule. But the shocking evil she discovers in the heart of her realm will precipitate an act of immense daring, throwing the entire kingdom into turmoil—and unleashing the Red Queen’s vengeance. A cabal of enemies with an array of deadly weapons, from crimson-caped assassins to the darkest blood magic, plots to destroy her. But Kelsea is growing in strength and stealth, her steely resolve earning her loyal allies, including the Queen’s Guard, led by the enigmatic Lazarus, and the intriguing outlaw known simply as “the Fetch.”

Kelsea’s quest to save her kingdom and meet her destiny has only just begun. Riddled with mysteries, betrayals, and treacherous battles, Kelsea’s journey is a trial by fire that will either forge a legend . . . or destroy her.”

I had to read this for book club and it was excellent.  I wasn’t sure going in (fantasy is not really my genre of choice) but I was absolutely blown away.

Kelsea is the new queen, but—even though she has known this her entire life—she has no idea how to be a queen.  And she certainly doesn’t look the part.

Once she assumes the throne, she also inherits all the kingdom’s problems.  And there are a LOT of them.  She wants to make things better for her people, but every decision she makes has potentially fatal consequences.

(Also there are two separate factions of people who want her dead.)

Kelsea is awesome and I love her so much.  She’s smart and genuinely cares about her subjects.  I can’t talk much about it because of spoilers, but you want to read this.

I have the sequel and can’t wait to read it.

Recommended.

Another Day

Finished Another Day by David Levithan.  I received a copy from the publisher for review.

Summary (from Goodreads):

The eagerly anticipated companion to David Levithan’s New York Times bestseller Every Day

In this enthralling companion to his New York Times bestseller Every Day, David Levithan (co-author of Will Grayson, Will Grayson with John Green) tells Rhiannon’s side of the story as she seeks to discover the truth about love and how it can change you.

Every day is the same for Rhiannon. She has accepted her life, convinced herself that she deserves her distant, temperamental boyfriend, Justin, even established guidelines by which to live: Don’t be too needy. Avoid upsetting him. Never get your hopes up.

Until the morning everything changes. Justin seems to see her, to want to be with her for the first time, and they share a perfect day—a perfect day Justin doesn’t remember the next morning. Confused, depressed, and desperate for another day as great as that one, Rhiannon starts questioning everything. Then, one day, a stranger tells her that the Justin she spent that day with, the one who made her feel like a real person . . . wasn’t Justin at all.”

This is not a sequel, which makes me sad.  Instead, it’s Every Day as told from Rhiannon’s perspective.

This was really helpful because even though I liked Rhiannon in Every Day, it wasn’t really obvious why A loved her so much.  I mean, she was fine, but I couldn’t really get why she was so irreplaceable.  Being in her head made me understand that a lot more.

And while I obviously wanted A and Rhiannon to figure out a way to be together, I could also figure out her hesitation.  I can see how you could love a person regardless of gender in theory, but in practice, I’m not sure how well that would work.  There are guys I love a great deal, for example, and I can see how people find Jon Hamm attractive, but that doesn’t mean I would want to have sex with a guy.  And so I totally get how Rhiannon wouldn’t want to have sex with a girl, even if A was inhabiting that girl’s body.

I’m hoping that there will be a third book, one that actually is a sequel.  Either way, this is still recommended.

Every Day

Finished Every Day by David Levithan.

Summary (from Goodreads):

Every day a different body. Every day a different life. Every day in love with the same girl.
There’s never any warning about where it will be or who it will be. A has made peace with that, even established guidelines by which to live: Never get too attached. Avoid being noticed. Do not interfere.

It’s all fine until the morning that A wakes up in the body of Justin and meets Justin’s girlfriend, Rhiannon. From that moment, the rules by which A has been living no longer apply. Because finally A has found someone he wants to be with—day in, day out, day after day.”

You know those books that everyone reads and loves, the kind that you don’t read at first because they can’t possibly be that good? And then you DO read them, for whatever reason, and not only ARE they that good, they’re actually better?  And then you hate yourself for being stupid and not reading them long before you did?

That is the story of Kelly and Every Day: A Love Story.

If you read and loved The Time Traveler’s Wife, this book is for you.  It’s the closest comparison I can think of.  Yes, this is YA and that is adult, but even so.  It’s a love story that cannot be for reasons beyond the couple’s control.

This is a happy and heartbreaking novel, one of those that you will immediately want to re-read (the only reason I’m not is because my next read is its companion novel, Another Day; that’s from Rhiannon’s perspective and I seriously cannot wait).

I read a lot, as you know.  I enjoy most of what I read because I know my tastes really well.  I love a not-small number of books a year.  This has become one of my all-time favorite books, and that’s not something that happens that often.  It’s hard for me to pick my 10 favorites from a year, yes, but my 10 favorites ever? That’s much simpler.  This is now on it.

Highly recommended.

Loving Dallas

Finished Loving Dallas by Caisey Quinn.  I received a copy from the publisher for review.

Summary (from Goodreads):

In the second novel in bestselling author Caisey Quinn’s Neon Dreams series, a country rock band and its members embark on the rocky road to fame and find love along the way.

Dallas Lark is so close to achieving his dream of making it big in country music that he can taste it. Arriving in Nashville after signing with sexy, successful manager Mandy Lantram, his life goes from tragedy and turmoil to one lucky break after another—except it isn’t really luck because Dallas has sacrificed everything for his career, leaving behind his band, sister, best friend, and high school sweetheart, Robyn, in the pursuit of fame.

Robyn Breeland is a successful marketing coordinator and promotions specialist for a thriving liquor distributor out of Texas. She loves every aspect of her job: coming up with new ideas, traveling, hosting promotional parties and exclusive events—until it brings her face-to-face with the man who broke her heart, prompting her to erect a steel cage around it.

When their paths collide and they’re forced to work together, Dallas and Robyn realize that the old spark they thought they’d extinguished might still be a burning flame.”

Okay, so I am officially obsessed with this series. (I loved Leaving Amarillo, the first book in the series, and this one was even better.  I cannot wait for the third/last book, Missing Dixie.  It’s out in October, and that is so far away.)

I didn’t get much of a sense of Dallas in the first book (not surprisingly, because it’s Dixie and Gavin’s story) and what I did see of Dallas, I didn’t particularly like.  Fortunately, he overcame that almost immediately in this book.

And I LOVE ROBYN.  It’s so obvious that they’re meant to be, and that circumstances (pride and a refusal to talk openly with each other—which makes sense, because they were so young at the time) kept them apart.  And now they’re older and wiser and better…and, yes, hotter.  So basically, OH THIS BOOK. :)

I also want to point out that this book is basically a bridge between Dixie and Gavin’s story, and there is a development for them in this book that I do not like. I’m trying to give Gavin the benefit of the doubt, but I just want this new book so I know what’s going on.

Highly recommended.

Brush Back

Finished Brush Back by Sara Paretsky.  I received a copy from the publisher for review.

Summary (from Goodreads):

Chicago’s V. I. Warshawski confronts crooked politicians and buried family secrets in the gritty new novel from New York Times–bestselling author Sara Paretsky.

No one would accuse V. I. Warshawski of backing down from a fight, but there are a few she’d be happy to avoid. High on that list is tangling with Chicago political bosses. Yet that’s precisely what she ends up doing when she responds to Frank Guzzo’s plea for help.

For six stormy weeks back in high school, V.I. thought she was in love with Frank. He broke up with her, she went off to college, he started driving trucks for Bagby Haulage. She forgot about him until the day his mother was convicted of bludgeoning his kid sister, Annie, to death. Stella Guzzo was an angry, uncooperative prisoner and did a full twenty-five years for her daughter’s murder.

Newly released from prison, Stella is looking for exoneration, so Frank asks V.I. for help. V.I. doesn’t want to get involved. Stella hated the Warshawskis, in particular V.I.’s adored mother, Gabriella.

But life has been hard on Frank and on V.I.’s other childhood friends, still stuck on the hardscrabble streets around the dead steel mills, and V.I. agrees to ask a few questions. Those questions lead her straight into the vipers’ nest of Illinois politics she’s wanted to avoid. When V.I. takes a beating at a youth meeting in her old hood, her main question becomes whether she will live long enough to find answers.”

If you’ve ever spent any time on this blog, you’ve probably heard me speak of my love for Sara Paretsky and VI Warshawski.  (If not, just trust me: they are two of my favorites.)  It seems like a new VI Warshawski novel shows up just when I need it most, and this time was no exception.

I love how these novels are political.  (Warning: if you are conservative, you will probably not appreciate this as much, but our politics align nicely, so…)

It’s not exactly a secret that VI’s family is a major sore spot for her, for lack of a better term.  She loved her parents and cousin fiercely and the best way to get her to do something is to attack them.  (So the fact that Stella Guzzo basically slanders all three is a majorly dumb move.)  I don’t want to discuss the plot too much, but it was really nice to hear more about her hockey-playing cousin Boom Boom.

My favorite part, though, is how the most recent novels are definitely set in the present but also give us a major glimpse into VI’s past or Lotte’s past.  I love Lotte too, and more time with her is a great thing.  Maybe we can get more Mr. Contreras next time; he was largely absent in this book.  (That is literally my only complaint.)

Here’s hoping the next two years fly by; I miss VI already.

Highly recommended.