Monday, March 30, 2015

Top 10 Books We Recently Added To Our TBR List

Top Ten Tuesday is a meme hosted by The Broke and the Bookish.

Christina's Picks
Sherlock's Sisters: The British Female Detective, 1864-1913 by Joseph A. Kestner
I put a lot of Edwardian history books on my TBR list recently (I won't bore you with them all) but this one I found particularly interesting. I'm really looking forward to reading it.

Ross Poldark (Poldark #1) by Winston Graham
I just started watching the BBC show called Poldark and love it. I'm hoping the book will be good as well.

The Immortal Heights (Elemental Trilogy #3) by Sherry Thomas
I just started reading the series this year and I can't wait to read the conclusion to the series.  

Lock & Mori by Heather W. Petty
A modern YA Sherlock and a female Moriarty. I really don't know what to think of this, but I guess the only way to find out if it's good or not would be to read it... or I'll just wait until more reviews for it come out and then decide.

Under a Painted Sky by Stacey Lee 
Two girls disguised as boys travel on the Oregon Trail towards the California gold rush. It sounds fantastic! And I can't wait to learn more about the Oregon Trail!

Sarah's Picks 
When I Wake by Elizabeth Norris
It will be interesting to see what a modern day Prohibition looks like. Add in a girl stuck between the Feds and the Criminals and you've got the makings for a great story!

The Wrong Side of Right by Jenn Marie Thorne
There is definitely a recipe for drama when you throw a girl into the life of her new found father... who just so happens to be running for President. I'm very selective with the contemporary's I read but this one sounds really interesting.

Landry Park (Landry Park #1) by Bethany Hagen
One of the reason I added this to my TBR list was because they mentioned it had a bit of Downton Abbey feel (which I am currently obsessing over) and it's dystopian. can't get much better than that!

Stolen Songbird (The Malediction Trilogy #1) by Danielle L. Jensen
I've seen this around but have only recently added it to my TBR list. I'm not really sure what my expectations are but the trolls sounds interesting.

Ice Like Fire (Snow Like Ashes #2) by Sara Raasch
I just finished Snow Like Ashes a couple weeks ago and loved it! I can't wait to read more of Meira's adventures (and I really want to see Theron

Thursday, March 26, 2015

Team Human by Sarah Rees Brennan & Justine Larbalestier

Title: Team Human 
Author: Sarah Rees Brennan & Justine Larbalestier 
Publisher: HarperTeen 
Publication Date: 3 July 2012 
Rating: 4 Stars
Readers who love vampire romances will be thrilled to devour Team Human by Justine Larbalestier and Sarah Rees Brennan. Team Human celebrates and parodies the Twilight books, as well as other classics in the paranormal romance genre.

Mel is horrified when Francis Duvarney, arrogant, gorgeous, and undead, starts at her high school. Mel’s best friend, Cathy, immediately falls for the vampire. Cathy is determined to be with him forever, even if having him turn her could inadvertently make her a zombie.

And Mel is equally determined to prove to her BFF that Francis is no good, braving the city’s vampire district and kissing a cute boy raised by vampires as she searches evidence in this touching and comic novel. - Summary from Goodreads
When I first heard about Team Human the first thing I thought was that it was a parody. Our society has been through a few years of the vampire craze (not that there’s anything wrong with that, I like a good vampire story too) and has moved onto a love/hate relationship. But the authors make it clear that they are not vampire haters, without the vampire novels out there Team Human wouldn’t even exist. I like to think of Team Human not as a parody, but as a different perspective on the vampire/human romance stories out there.

The book has a lot of typical YA vampire tropes: a vampire in high school, a vampire dating a teenager, the cafeteria scene… All of these familiar scenes are shown through Mel’s perspective and she doesn’t think it is cool or romantic, she just finds it all creepy and she doesn’t want her best friend getting mixed up with a vampire. Basically, Mel has the opposite reaction towards Francis than the average MC in a vampire novel. She has very strong opinions about vampires and tries to do everything to get Cathy see things her way. She’s kind of obnoxious about it to the point where I just want to tell her to lay off of it, but at the same time I understand that she’s doing all this to protect her friend. She just doesn’t want Cathy to get hurt.

Throughout the book we see a lot of different opinions on vampires from all different people. It isn’t just Mel’s view that we are shown, a lot of characters weigh-in on the topic in a very realistic way and make us question how we would see it if we lived in this world. This book is surprisingly serious and I was in tears at the end of it.

Team Human offers a variety of different perspective on the classic teen vampire romance stories out there. It manages to be funny while still bringing up serious topics that the main character has to consider. It is definitely worth reading whether or not you’re a fan of vampires because, either way, there will be characters inside these pages who share your perspective. 

Monday, March 23, 2015

Top 10 Books From Our Childhood (Or teen years) That We'd Love To Revisit

Top Ten Tuesday is a meme hosted by The Broke and the Bookish.
Christina's Picks  
The truth is that I wasn't much of a reader when I was younger. When I finally learned to love reading I didn't branch out much, I had specific book series that I read that were VERY LONG that I read through. And once I got into my teen yours I discovered books that I'm still rereading now, so I don't consider them as belonging to my childhood.

Thoroughbred series by Joanna Campell
I went back and forth between SC and TB as my favorite series, but I think I like a lot more of the TB series. I've been collecting the books at library booksales since 2005 and I've got all but three books in the series out of over seventy. I don't want to reread the whole series, but I'd like to revisit the first four books and maybe some of Melanie or Cindy's books.

Saddle Club series by Bonnie Bryant
I tried to collect all of the books, but then I realized that I just didn't love all 101 (plus special editions). So I got rid of half my collection and just kept the ones I loved. My favorite ones involve Kate Devon and the Bar None Ranch, Phil, Tess, and such. My favorite books in the series are a two parter called Wagon Trail and Quarter Horse where the Saddle Club travel on the Oregon Trail as part of a reenactment trip.

Phantom Stallion series by Terri Farley
Not my favorite series, but I did really enjoy it. For a children's series there was plenty of sexual tension between Sam(antha) and Jake. I totally shipped it!

The American Girl series by Various Authors
I especially want to reread Josefina and Felicity's books, but I'd also like to revisit Kirsten and Samantha because I don't really remember their books anymore.

Nancy Drew by Carolyn Keen
I didn't read them much when I was younger, but I did listen to the first two books on cassette tape quite a few times. The only problem is that I was reading the first couple of pages out loud to Sarah and I couldn't help mocking it... really, I couldn't stop myself. I felt horrible.

Sarah's Picks
I did read quite a bit when I was a child but like Christina I didn't branch out much and most I don't think I would revisit but there were some, mostly classic's, that I'd like to reread.

The Witch of Blackbird Pond by Elizabeth George Speare
Truthfully, I didn't read this until I was 18 in my Children's Lit class but I loved it and would love to try a reread.

Little House on the Prairie by Laura Ingalls Wilder
I read these as a kid but never thought much of rereading them until I became friends with a huge Laura Ingalls Wilder fan.  Now I'm thinking about trying some of them out again (just don't tell her I told you

Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. Tolkin
I first read these in 7th grade when the movies first started coming out and I hadn't read much fantasy before. I think it's definitely time to try them out again.

Where the Red Fern Grows by Wilson Rawls
My mom read this book to us and I remember bawling my eyes out.... almost makes me wonder why I want to put myself through a reread but I

The Young Underground series by Robert Elmer
This is another series my mom read to my brother and I (Christina was still a bit young) and we really enjoyed it. I was finally able to get the last book in the series that I needed a few months ago so now I just need the time and the motivation for a reread.

Monday, March 16, 2015

Top 10 Books On Our Spring TBR List

Top Ten Tuesday is a meme hosted by The Broke and the Bookish.
Christina's Pick
A Cold Legacy (The Madman's Daughter #3) by Megan Shepherd
It's the conclusion of the trilogy so I really need to read it before too much time has past. I really loved the first book, but I had some issues with the second one and I don't know how I'll feel about this one.

Snow Like Ashes (Snow Like Ashes #1) by Sara Raasch
I've heard so many great things about this book, I really need to read it. I've been reading a lot of really great high fantasy lately so I'm hoping this will be another good one.

The Eighth Guardian (Annum Guard #1) by Meredith McCardle
I won the sequel to this book, but I've never read the first one. I haven't heard of it before now, but it involves time travel so I'm sure I'll love it.

The Sin Eater's Daughter (The Sin Eater's Daughter #1) by Melinda Salisbury
I read a really great review for this book and the cover is absolutely stunning! Truthfully, I don't really remember the summary, but it came in at the library and I'm excited to read it.

The Winner's Curse (The Winner's Trilogy #1) by Marie Rutkoski
I liked it the first time I read it, but I didn't love it. I'm hoping to like it better the second time around and it'll prepare me for book 2!

Sarah's Pick
Since the North Texas Teen Book Festival is over, and I don't have to catch up on those books anymore, there's so much I want to read now! These are just a few that I plan to read soon:

 Heir of Fire (Throne of Glass #3) by Sarah J. Maas
I keep hearing about this book and I can't wait to read it and see for myself the awesomeness of it all. I actually have it on my shelf so hopefully it will get read soon.

 Snow Like Ashes (Snow Like Ashes #1) by Sara Raasch
I've been reading a lot of fantasy's lately and this one sounded really good and the cover is just gorgeous! I just got it from the library so I should have it read within 3

 The Fixer (The Fixer #1) by Jennifer Lynn Barnes
Christina was lucky enough to pick up an ARC of this at NTTBF and said it was awesome so I really can't wait to read it! This will probably be my next book. I love having a sharing sister! :)

 The Orphan Queen (The Orphan Queen #1) by Jodi Meadows
A Princess, thieves, spy's, trying to take back a kingdom? What more could a read want? I'm there!!!

The Winner's Crime (The Winner's Trilogy #1) by Marie Rutkoski
Do I need to say why I must have this book?

The Dead Secret by Wilkie Collins

Title: The Dead Secret
Author: Wilkie Collins
Publication Date: 1856
Rating: 3
The Dead Secret, as with Collins's later works, centres around a socially and morally questionable event, from which all incidents derive, and towards which all characters inevitably move. The secret, identified with the Cornish mansion Porthgenna, has all but ruined the life of the young servant girl Sarah Leeson; 15 years later it comes back to confuse and haunt Rosamond, the heir of Porthgenna. Collins's talent for eccentric characters is given full scope in the misanthropic hermit, Andrew Treverton, his bullying servant Schrowl, and the actress whose powerful will lies behind the secret. The Dead Secret is a relentless quest to uncover a forgotten crime; the heir's detective work must finally lead to a disastrous revelation.-Summary from Goodreads

This is the fourth Wilkie Collins book that I have read and I still think he has the easiest writing style of any Victorian author out there. It is a classic and thus will take you longer to read than your average YA book, but it’s not like some classics where you just HOPE that you understand half of it. Collins’ style is simple and enjoyable.

That being said, I would not recommend The Dead Secret to someone who is new to Collins because it is not his best work. I guess my main issue with it was lack of focus. I couldn’t tell who the main character was in this story. The story follows the plot to whichever character sees its advance. The main character seemed to be Sara Leeson at the beginning, but then it changed POV and I thought it would be Rosamund, but she took a long time to fill in to her role as a main character before it switched again. And there were some chapters which were told from the POV of Dr. Chenney, Uncle Joseph, Arthur Treverton, Treverton’s servant, etc. The way it was set up didn’t make it easy to connect with the characters. In Collins’ defense he was writing this story and publishing it weekly in a magazine. I can’t imagine how difficult that must have been to publish while writing.

The characters themselves were not always likeable, but they were realistic. Uncle Joseph, the old German, was the most likeable of the bunch. He is so friendly with everyone that even the servants were offended by his familiarity. Sarah is a hard character to like, she’s so nervous and frazzled that reading from her POV made me feel like I was starting to lose my mind, but once she got a chance to tell her side of the story to a sympathetic listener, I was finally able to (almost) like her. Rosamund is hard for me, I like how she doesn’t care about social standing and treats everyone the same, but I didn’t always like her temper. She’s overall a good character, but never consistently likable.

This is the one of the few Gothic novels that I’ve read and it was fun picking out the clich├ęs. There was a rundown mansion which held a dreadful secret, a woman who was driven mad by the secret, tales of a ghost, and all set on the moors of Cornwall. I enjoyed the Gothic feel and sometimes it even felt creepy to me, but mostly it felt like overkill. I had an idea about the secret from the beginning and, while I got the details wrong, I had the right idea and everyone’s reactions seemed a bit over dramatic. I know it was a different time, but come on! There is one scene where Sarah tells Rosemund (very mysteriously) not to go into the Myrtle Room and Rosamund screams. Everyone seems to overreact! But I guess that might be part of the fun of the story. I now understand why Jane Austen wrote Northanger Abbey.

In the end, The Dead Secret is a good representation of a Gothic novel and has a great resolution to the story. If you’ve read a ton of Wilkie Collins books then this one might be the next on your list, otherwise I would recommend The Moonstone, The Woman in White, or Armadale (in that order) before this book.

Monday, March 9, 2015

Top 10 Books to Read if You Love...

  Top Ten Tuesday is a meme hosted by The Broke and the Bookish.

Christina's Picks
I actually didn't know what I was going to do for this post, but I recently realized that there was a whole genre of books out there that are so much more than contemporary. Before, Ally Carter was was the only one I had read that had contemporary books that had fantastical ideas like spies and thieves and everything we fantasize about that's not really fantasy. For now, I'll just call them abnormal contemporaries. If you enjoy reading Ally Carter's series': Gallagher Girls, Heist Society, Embassy Row and/or Jennifer Lynn Barnes' The Naturals then here's some books that you should keep an eye on that'll be coming out this year. With the exception of The Fixer, I have yet to read any of these book.

The Fixer by Jennifer Lynn Barnes
Release Date: July 7, 2015
This is an amazing political thriller that I loved from the very beginning. I've heard it compared to Veronica Mars and Scandal. I've never heard of Scandal, but I'd say the VMars comparison is right on. The MC is more serious and not as snarky as Veronica, but she is smart, has the ability to make allies and enemies without trying too hard, and gets into lots of trouble.
Daughter of Deep Silence by Carrie Ryan
Release Date: June 2, 2015
 Sounds a lot like the TV show Revenge, so I'm totally in. Also, that cover if beautiful.

All In (The Naturals #3) by Jennifer Lynn Barnes
Release Date: November 3, 2015
 Who doesn't love teenage criminal profilers? The first book was fantastic and the second was even better, I can't wait to see what happens next.

The Conspiracy of Us by Maggie Hall
Release Date: January 13, 2015
 Sounds like another amazing political thriller. I can't wait to get this one from the library

The Third Twin by CJ Omololu
Release Date: February 24, 2015
Sounds so creepy and twisted, I'm really looking forward to it. It also has the added bonus of being a sister book!

Sarah's Picks
I really only have two "If You Like... You Might Like" choices right now -because I can't really think of more at the moment- but they are all amazing books that I think everyone should read. They all make my favorite book and heroine list (and they have awesome book boyfriends). So what are you waiting for? read them!

 If You Like...
 Then You Might Like...
These are both great Dystopian worlds that, while different, have similar heroines who are tough, sometimes reckless, and have roles thrust upon them that they never asked for. All they want to do is protect those they care about and survive. They just happen to create a lot of trouble for the bad guys along the way.

 If You Like...
You Might Like...
I can't get enough of these books! Both were a surprise for me and I just love their stories and characters. They both involve betrayal, heartache, strong and smart heroines who want more but also understand how to play the game of survival.

Prom and Prejudice by Elizabeth Eulberg

Title: Prom and Prejudice
Author: Elizabeth Eulberg
Publication Date: January 4, 2011
Rating: 3 Stars
It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single girl of high standing at Longbourn Academy must be in want of a prom date.
After winter break, the girls at the very prestigious Longbourn Academy become obsessed with the prom. Lizzie Bennet, who attends Longbourn on a scholarship, isn't interested in designer dresses and expensive shoes, but her best friend, Jane, might be - especially now that Charles Bingley is back from a semester in London.
Lizzie is happy about her friend's burgeoning romance but less than impressed by Charles's friend, Will Darcy, who's snobby and pretentious. Darcy doesn't seem to like Lizzie either, but she assumes it's because her family doesn't have money. Clearly, Will Darcy is a pompous jerk - so why does Lizzie find herself drawn to him anyway? - Summary from Goodreads
I want to preface this review by saying that although I stand by everything that I said about this book, that doesn't mean that everyone will feel the same. My sister absolutely loved Prom and Prejudice and gave it 5-stars. Normally whoever loves the book most is the one who reviews it, but in this case I had already written mine.
                                                          *                      *                        *

Prom and Prejudice follows Lizzie Bennett who is a scholarship student at the prestigious, all-girl school, Longbourn Academy. Instead of being pressured into finding a husband, these girls are dead serious about finding a prom date. No lie, their prom has crazy expectations. Prom is not the only thing crazy about this school, the students are also known for being incredibly cruel to scholarship students. Lizzie’s roommate, Jane is the exception. All of the characters are similar to their P&P counter parts, the only exception being Lizzie. While retelling this classic story Lizzie’s spark of humor and light-hearted personality is lost. When the girls at Longbourn treat her horribly the Lizzie in this story cries or hides, which is what any human being would do, but it isn’t what Elizabeth Bennett would do. Elizabeth Bennett would have laughed off whatever they did to her until they got bored or she would have gotten even. In my opinion, by not capturing Elizabeth’s character the story lost something important.

The first half of the book stays very close to its source. In my opinion that was a bad thing because it was just a modern, highschool version of P&P, which is why I got annoyed at small changes. Over halfway through the book it started finding its footing and taking on a life of its own and that’s when I began to enjoy it.

The relationship between Lizzie and Darcy progressed like it does in the book. I started out by disliking him, but like Lizzie, eventually I began to see his good qualities. I loved his relationship with his sister and the confrontation with Wick. I was worried that the happy ending with Lizzie and Darcy might be forced, but in the end I was convinced that they should be together just as I would be in P&P.

There have been plenty of retellings and tributes to Jane Austen’s famous novel Pride and Prejudice, but I can’t say that Prom and Prejudice stands out from that group. It’s a cute story and it’s always fun to pick out the characters and scenes that the story is remodeling, but it takes a while to find its footing. If you are a huge fan of Jane Austen and love reading tributes to her work, Prom and Prejudice might be for you.