Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Cover Characteristics - July 23rd, 2014 - Ships

Cover Characteristics is hosted at  Sugar and Snark.  Here are the guidelines for how it works if you want to join in:

Each week we will post a characteristic and choose 5 of our favorite covers with that characteristic. If you want to join in and share your 5 favorite covers with the weeks particular characteristic, then just make a post, grab the meme picture (or make your own) and leave your URL in Linky (so we can visit).
You don’t even need to participate, just stopping by and saying hi would be great! Don’t forget to stop by the other participants!

I always try to pick books that I've read, so mine may not be as spectacular as ones that are out there.

This week's characteristic is:  Ships




I know it is old fashioned looking, but it was one of my favorite books when I was younger.



I'm sure I had a lot more books I've read that have ships on the cover, such as the many I've read about the Titanic.  But, these are the ones that stuck out in my head when I saw the theme for this week.  What do you think of my choices?  Are they books you're familiar with?   

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Review: The Fever by Megan Abbott

This is one I was lucky enough to get an ARC of at BEA this summer, along with an autograph.  It was one I wanted for sure, the little synopsis sounded good.  But I guess I only read the first sentence or two of that, because I didn't realize that it was about the same incident that a book I finished reading a little while ago, Conversion, talked about.   Again, I remember the story of the girls who were all of a sudden coming down with tics and other ailments for seemingly no reason, out of nowhere.  While Conversion kind of went with a tie to the Salem witch trials, this book was different.

The main character is really Deenie.  All of the problems begin when her friend Lise collapses in the middle of class and begins having a seizure.  Unfortunately in this day and age of the cell phone, other students take pictures of her in this situation, and many aren't flattering.  She goes home, has another seizure, which leads to a cardiac event of some sort, and she falls and hits her head on a coffee table.  She is taken back to the hospital, where soon she is just unconscious, basically in a coma.  Her mother begins trying to figure out what is the cause.  And not long after this, Deenie's other best friend, Gabby, also seems to have a seizure, at school, in the middle of an orchestra concert.  Hers doesn't seem to be quite as bad.  But now all the parents are up in arms, trying to figure out what is going on.  One thing that is jumped on is the HPV vaccine that the school had begun making all girls get, or getting a note to get out of it.  But then another girl gets sick, and it turns out that she didn't have the vaccination.  So talk in the town turns to the really gross polluted lake nearby.  And of course there is even some talk about girls getting sexually active too soon. Which the girls do talk about in this book. 

We also get part of the story from Deenie's father, Tom's point of view.  He is a teacher at the school, so it is definitely good to get both a parent, as well as a staff member at the school's take on what is happening.  As a science teacher, he is able to be rational about what the cause might be even.

We also get some bits from the point of view of Deenie's brother Eli.  Eli seems to be a bit of a womanizer.  And I don't know that I really am a huge fan of his from how the book portrays him.  I can't quite figure out what is going on with him.  I think that the author is trying to show how confusing it might be for a boy that age to have girls throwing themselves at him, all the time thinking about how he would feel if his sister did those things, and if boys treated her the way he treated some girls so casually.

Definitely a different take than Conversion, and the story is told in a way I got to know the characters better than I felt I did in Conversion.  But both have their own good parts.  So I think it could be something to have students read both books and compare, then look at maybe newspaper articles of the actual events these are kind of based on. 

Me with Megan Abbott

Monday, July 21, 2014

Review: XY by Shanta Everington and Giveaway!

I got an e-copy of this book for being part of the Blog Tour this week.  So thanks to the author and also YA Reads Blog Tours.  I don't do a lot of blog tours, but have agreed to do a couple to help out this summer while I have some extra time.  I was definitely intrigued when I was approached about this one, because it is a future/dystopian type of story, and the idea behind it was so different.  Here is the book blurb:

Book blurb

Would it possible to live without gender?

Fifteen year old Jesse lives in a world where babies are born neither male nor female - Compulsory Gender Assignment is carried out at birth. Will the secret she closely guards be found out? Boyfriend Zeus, mother Ana's Natural Souls, and new friend Ork, leader of We Are One, pull Jesse in different directions, forcing her to make her own mind up about who she really is.  

Cover quote:

“A highly original and thought-provoking dystopian novel. I don’t think I’ve ever read anything like it!”

Luisa Plaja, Chicklish, the UK’s Teen Fiction Site

Doesn't that sound really interesting?  With some of the types of environmental issues causing animals to be born with these types of issues, as well as many of the gender issues more people seem to have these days, I just thought this could be a good story.

My Review:

Okay, I definitely feel that this was a book that was very interesting.  I will admit that personally I was made either a bit uncomfortable, or maybe not happy completely about some of the decisions the characters made.  But I couldn't mark the review down on Goodreads at all, because I figure those issues had more to do with me as opposed to the book itself.

Jesse is the main character.  In this world where about 90% of all babies born don't have just one gender.  So at birth the government says their parents must choose the gender.  It is called Compulsory Gender Assignment.  I wasn't exactly clear on how that was decided though.  Is it the parents' choice?  Or did the government pick?  I may have missed that in the story, so it could have been there, but I don't know if it went into as much detail as I'd have liked.  Her mother Ana is part of an underground movement called Natural Souls.  She helps mothers to have their babies outside of the government's control, so that they can give their child the chance to grow up and choose which gender they want to be.  They still will choose at a certain time, they are just given time to discover it for themselves, instead of possibly having to live their whole lives as a sex they don't identify with.  Jesse's brother Randy, (notice both have very gender neutral names, something that works for this group in order to help them with deciding on their own) chose to become a boy several years before our story starts.  Jesse thinks she wants to be a girl, but hasn't chosen to have the operation yet.  It technically is illegal to not be one gender, so she must be careful and not let the wrong people know.  She becomes friends with her brother's girlfriend, Artemis.  Artemis knows Jesse's secret, and also knows that Jesse is feeling uncertain about making her choice.  So she introduces Jesse to people who are not going to change.  They are part of a group called We are One.  This group wants to have the government recognize a third sex.  Ork is one of the leaders.  And Jesse feels an attraction to Ork.  Ork tries to convince Jesse to not have the change, to be happy the way things are.  But Jesse is kind of attracted to her brother's best friend, Zeus.  Zeus is one of the 9% who were born as only one sex.  Jesse decides she wants to go through with her surgery.  But now she doesn't know how her life will change.  Will Ork still like her?  Will Zeus really believe she's always been a girl?  And will she finally be doing what her mom seems to need to be proud of her?  All along the way there are flashbacks to her mom Ana's past, and the loss of her brother.  There is the danger of the government finding out about either of the groups, Natural Souls or We Are One.  In fact, We Are One wants to take on the government, protesting, and helping to get their message out, and to help others who are like them.

It was a very good story.  I feel some parts could have been fleshed out a bit more.  But I feel like this was a very honest look at this type of a situation, and that it might be an interesting read for those out there who may have feelings of being trapped in the wrong sex, or those who may have been born with both sex organs, because there are those like that.  Obviously in no way as many as this book has, but still.  The only other problem I had is one that is again, just a difficulty for me.  The group, We Are One, has come up with their own pronouns for people who are both sexes.  The used phe and phers as two of them.  Let's just say, it was kind of hard for me to read when it should have been, he or she, or his or hers, or him or her.  I think the idea of these new pronouns is really creative and great.  It just made it hard for me to read.  So that is really my only complaint, and as I said, I think it was just me.

If you are ready for a new, very original, but could be very controversial topic for a story, then definitely you should give this a try.


Publication date: 5 June 2014

Genre: Young adult (Dystopia)

Author: Shanta Everington

Paperback: 152 pages

Publisher: Bridge House (Red Telephone Books)

Language: English

ISBN-10: 1907335323

ISBN-13: 978-1907335327

Formats: Paperback and e-book (Mobi only)

Giveaway: Paperback (UK only) and Mobi (non-UK)

Author bio:

Shanta Everington is the author of seven books, including three young adult novels – Give Me a Sign, Boy Red and latest release XY (joint winner of the Red Telephone Books YA Novel Competition). She has had all sorts of jobs in the past, from baking vegan muffins and working as a private tutor to appearing as a guest agony aunt and running a teen sexual health helpline. With an MA in Creative Writing with distinction, Shanta currently teaches Creative Writing with The Open University. She lives in London, UK, with her husband and two children.


The Giveaway:

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Sunday, July 20, 2014

Stacking the Shelves July 20th, 2014

Stacking the Shelves is hosted by Tynga's Reviews.  It is a way for us to share the new books we have collected.   I've got quite a bit to share this week!  So let's get started.

E-galleys from Netgalley:

 Friday Free Nook Book:

 The funny thing is I decided to get this one when I saw a fellow Barnes and Noble employee online dissing it.  Their complaint actually peaked my interest.  And hey, free!

Borrowed from friend:


I had checked the first one out from my high school library.  And decided after finishing it that I wanted to go ahead and read on.  So I knew my friend Kim had at least the first compendium, so I texted and asked her to borrow it.  And she brought it to me on Tuesday, along with the next one in the series.  Guess that way I can decide how many more will be okay to order for my school library.  And it should help tide me over until October when the show will finally be new again!


 Now, I did get an ARC of Sinner, by Maggie Stiefvater at BEA.  And while the ARCs are normally my favorite copies of books to have, when I saw she had created these special book covers, I had to have one.  Unfortunately, the only way to get one was on her tour, or to pre-order it from Fountain Books.  So, I pre-ordered one, and finally got it this week.  The 2nd one is because I need to read on in the series, it will go along with my September is for Sequels Challenge that I've done the past two years, as well as my Prequel and Sequels challenge.  The 3rd book was on the bargain table for $3.98 at Barnes and Noble.  And with my 30% employee discount, I couldn't pass it up when I saw that Jonathan Maberry was one of the authors included.

So those are the things I've added to my shelves this week.  What all did you add this week?

Saturday, July 19, 2014

Review: Surrounded by Sharks by Michael Northrop

I was lucky enough to get an e-galley of this title from Scholastic through Netgalley.  I am a fan of this author, at least I enjoyed another one of his books, Trapped.   I've also been fascinated with sharks, really who hasn't, for a long time.  I remember watching Shark Week when it first started.  Now as cool as I think sharks are, I don't really want to go swimming with them. Especially not in this type of a situation. 

The main character is Davey.  He is a quiet, bookish type of boy, about 14 I think.  His family is on vacation, near Key West, but on a much smaller island nearby.  He wakes up before the rest of his family, pretty early, and decides to take his book and go out on the beach and read where he won't have to deal with the snoring of his brother and father.  He can't really just go back to sleep, you see he had to sleep on the cot for the night, while his brother got the other bed.  Tomorrow night he should get his turn on the bed.  But for now he just wants to go out and read in peace.  He goes down to the beach, there's no one on duty at the front desk, and not really anyone outside at the little huts on the beach yet.  The first place he chooses soon gets a little busier than he'd like just as everyone starts lining up at the dock to get a ride back so they can catch their planes home, or else just to go to the busier Key West for the day.  He sees a few people, including a girl about his age named Drew.  Drew also is kind of a main character as we get some of the chapters from her viewpoint.  Drew is from England, and is there with her mom and dad as well.  She's not real thrilled to be on this tiny island.  Kind of wants to get to Key West where her friend told her the "party is at." 

Davey wanders off to a more secluded beach to read.  There is a sign there that says no swimming.  After a while though, the water looks so nice, that Davey thinks he will just wander in a bit, just wade.  So he hides his book, shoes, and glasses, so that no one would steal them or see them if they came along.  As he wades a bit further, and further, he notices that he's gotten a long way from the beach without realizing it.  When he decides to go back to the beach, he tries walking and swimming back, but only getting pulled further away.  Seems the current has him.  Soon he is so far away he can't even see land anymore.  And without his glasses, he's not really able to see much of anything.  At one point he sees what he thinks is land, and swims toward it.  It turns out to be a plastic water bottle, like you'd see in an office that you put on the stand with a spigot to get drinks from.  He's frustrated at first, but then realizes he can at least use it to help float.  And there he stays, hoping that someone soon will find him.  Of course there are things in the water that notice him there.  Little fish, who nibble on him.  And then larger animals, sharks.  Now he is just waiting to be rescued. 

It will take his family almost the whole day, with the help of the hotel's staff, as well as police, and coast guard to get an idea where he is.  Even Drew, who saw him during their morning walk, will come in as a big help.

I like that this story took place over just one day really.  I think it is a very interesting book, and maybe a good read for someone who is a reluctant reader.  Definitely a quick read, and one that I had trouble putting down because I needed to know what would happen with the sharks, and when would his family finally figure out where he had disappeared to. 

Friday, July 18, 2014

Review: Hollow City (Miss Peregrine's Peculiar Children #2) by Ransom Riggs

I was lucky enough to get to see Ransom Riggs back in January, when he was here with Rainy Day Books.  It was very interesting to hear him talk about how he started collecting the old photographs that he used for these books.  Enough that when I went to a flea market/antique store a few months ago I actually ended up buying old pictures, thinking maybe I could try to do a story like that myself.  I don't know that I will.  Maybe I should just send the ones I found to him and let him see if he can do anything with them.  That is where I actually got this book, got it autographed, but not personalized.  And then I took it in and donated it to the high school library where I work.  I just didn't know when I'd get around to reading it, even though I did enjoy the first one for the most part.  But, it just wasn't the kind of story that sucked me in right away, so it was harder to pick up and read.  Once I did, it still took a bit to remember bits of it, but eventually I got back into the story where it was at, and was able to read it quickly at that point.  There will be just a few spoilers in this review since it is a sequel but only if you haven't read the first one yet.

Jacob is our main character.  And he was from the present day.  But stumbled into what is called a "loop" which is kind of a time loop, that was used by children that were called peculiar.  The one that was near where his grandfather lived, and when he did that, he ended up getting involved with the group of children that were with Miss Peregrine.  And they are now being hunted by another form of peculiars, called wights.  These wights have captured all the other headmistresses like Miss Peregrine. They were even able to get her, until Jacob and his friends got her back.  But now they can't seem to get her to turn back from a bird. So they journey to London to try to get help.  They must deal not only with the dangerous wights, but also monsters called hollows, and other people that might be out to get them, as well as World War II that is going on at the time. 

As with the first book there are photographs worked in.  This time there are many that aren't as peculiar as the last book, but they fit in mostly with the story.  And we are left at the end hanging a bit, so that now I'm ready to read on in the next book.  Which I have no idea when it will come out.  One really cool thing though, is that supposedly Tim Burton might be making a movie of the first book, according to the author when I saw him in January.  I can think of no one else that would be as perfect to do this.  So I recommend this to those who read the first book and were intrigued with the characters and keeping up with their adventures. 

Ransom Riggs with me.

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Review: The Walking Dead Volume 1: Days Gone By Graphic Novel by Robert Kirkman and Tony Moore

I ordered this book into the high school library where I work because I figured we needed more graphic novels, and surely this would be popular.  Of course we didn't get it until the end of the school year, so I'm hoping to see it get more use next year.  I have watched the show from the very beginning and love it.  And I'm not really much of a comic or graphic novel person.  I mean, I love all the novels that go with Buffy the Vampire Slayer, but wasn't able to keep going with the Season 8 comics.  However, I decided to check The Walking Dead out over the summer and read it for myself.  It was a quick read, and so I asked my friend who owns the first Compendium if I could borrow that next, so I'll be reading that too.

I won't talk a lot about the plot, because if you've seen the show you know it.  But I guess the comics/graphic novels basically follow Rick, the sheriff.  So of course there will be many characters either left out, or changed from the tv show.  As I've been informed, sadly, one of my favorite characters on the show, Daryl, is one not in the book.  But the story is pretty much the same to start.  Rick gets shot, then wakes up in a hospital all alone.  He finds the zombies, but doesn't have any idea what is going on, as he was in a coma for quite a while it seems.  He goes home, and finds his wife and son are gone, but then gets hit on the head.  When he wakes up again, he is with a man and his son, who tell him about what is going on.  Soon he decides he must go find his wife and son.  There are many scenes that are the same from the show.  Rick riding into Atlanta on a horse.  Walking with Glen through Atlanta with zombie body parts draped all over themselves as a disguise to be able to walk through the zombies and get supplies that are needed back in town.  But, and big SPOILER ALERT, Shane, Rick's co-police officer, dies at the end of this.  Whereas in the show he stayed around much longer.  But I'm totally okay with it, as I wasn't a huge fan of Shane.

I can't wait to read on, and see what else is the same and what is different.  From what I've heard, they've stayed a lot closer on plot and such compared to another tv show I like that is based on books, True Blood.  So I'm sure reading on I'll eventually get to where I recognize things that are coming up.  Like people did with the Governor, as well as now with Terminus. 

I definitely recommend these graphic novels and will be stocking up on them for my school library, and for the students to enjoy.