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Waiting on Wednesday: Prisoner of Night and Fog

Hello!

Are you in the mood for some historical fiction?! Well, I am which is why today’s Waiting on Wednesday features Prisoner of Night and Fog by Anne Blankman.

In 1930s Munich, danger lurks behind dark corners, and secrets are buried deep within the city. But Priosner of Night and Fog by Anne BlankmanGretchen Müller, who grew up in the National Socialist Party under the wing of her “uncle” Dolf, has been shielded from that side of society ever since her father traded his life for Dolf’s, and Gretchen is his favorite, his pet. Uncle Dolf is none other than Adolf Hitler. And Gretchen follows his every command.

Until she meets a fearless and handsome young Jewish reporter named Daniel Cohen. Gretchen should despise Daniel, yet she can’t stop herself from listening to his story: that her father, the adored Nazi martyr, was actually murdered by an unknown comrade. She also can’t help the fierce attraction brewing between them, despite everything she’s been taught to believe about Jews. As Gretchen investigates the very people she’s always considered friends, she must decide where her loyalties lie. Will she choose the safety of her former life as a Nazi darling, or will she dare to dig up the truth—even if it could get her and Daniel killed? From debut author Anne Blankman comes this harrowing and evocative story about an ordinary girl faced with the extraordinary decision to give up everything she’s ever believed . . . and to trust her own heart instead.

Aren’t you intrigued?! I mean the whole idea of your uncle being Hitler…THE Hitler is crazy. I’ve always wondered about those related to Hitler and what they thought of his choices and how they must have felt after his demise. Prisoner of Night and Fog will probably be an intense read, but we have to wait until April 22 to get our hands on it.

What books are you waiting for today?

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Sheer Perfection: Better off Friends by Elizabeth Eulberg

Hola!

Sometimes the perfect book comes along at just the perfect time. That’s what happened for me with Elizabeth Eulberg’s Better off Friends.

For Macallan and Levi, it was friends at first sight. Everyone says guys and girls can’t be just friends, but these two are. They hang out after school, share tons of inside jokes, their families are super close, and Better Off Friends by Elizabeth EulbergLevi even starts dating one of Macallan’s friends. They are platonic and happy that way.

Eventually they realize they’re best friends — which wouldn’t be so bad if they didn’t keep getting in each other’s way. Guys won’t ask Macallan out because they think she’s with Levi, and Levi spends too much time joking around with Macallan, and maybe not enough time with his date. They can’t help but wonder, are they more than friends or are they better off without making it even more complicated? Can guys and girls ever really be just friends? Or are they always one fight away from not speaking again — and one kiss away from true love?

Seriously, this one came along at the best time. I’ve been on a pretty big fantasy kick recently (for like the past year! haha) so I think I was ready for a quality contemporary read to really dig into. And talk about quality! Better off Friends is probably one of the best contemporary romances I’ve read in a while…right up there with Stephanie Perkins and Sarah Dessen!

I’d heard this one compared to a high school version of When Harry Met Sally and for real, Better off Friends is definitely an homage to that classic film. Macallan and Levi are kind of thrown together by their school principal, but quickly form a relationship based on need and a very silly British television show. Macallan is struggling to make a new life after her mother’s death, while new-guy Levi is simply looking to fit in, so both think of their friendship as kind of a new start. I can completely relate to Macallan and Levi’s friendship because it’s always been easier for me to be friends with guys than with girls. There is a freedom that comes from a friendship with a guy that one can’t get with another girl, but as Levi and Macallan soon discover that freedom usually comes with it’s own share of drama.

Eulberg writes the swoony, drama laden friendship between Macallan and Levi with expert skill. Each chapter alternates between Levi’s narration and Macallan’s. As I’ve mentioned in the past, sometimes switching between narrators can annoy me, but Levi and Macallan’s voices are so clear and distinct that I never have to check back to see who is telling the story. In between each chapter Eulberg has inserted commentary from both narrators, just like in When Harry Met Sally, and the banter between the two is sheer perfection! These were probably my favorite parts of the story, they just added both fun and perspective to Macallan and Levi’s story.

But this isn’t just Levi and Macallan’s story. Throughout the book, we get glimpses of how friendships change as we get older, especially in that transition from middle school to high school. Also, we see the way in which Levi’s mother serves as a stand-in mom for Macallan who is navigating her teenage years without her own mother. Each of these secondary relationships are realistically painful and joyful and just so well portrayed.

You really need to consider adding Better off Friends to your TBR list. I promise you wont’ be sorry, especially if you are looking for a strong contemporary read! It is most definitely a YA title, but I believe that older middle school readers, as well as adults, will appreciate it just as much as I did.

Author: Elizabeth Eulberg

Publisher: Point (February 25, 2014)

Format: ARC (e-galley)

Length: 288 pages

Series: Standalone

YA/MG: YA/MG

Buy the Book: Better Off Friends

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Waiting on Wednesday: Wish You Were Italian

Well we’re a few weeks into our extra six weeks of winter thanks to that little cutie Punxsutawney Phil, but I’m already starting to think about spring and summer.  The book I’d like to share with you for Waiting on Wednesday, Wish You Were Italian by Kristin Rae, sounds like it’s going to be a fun summerish read.

Pippa is in Italy for the summer and, despite her parents’ wishes, she has no intention of just studying the Wish You Were Italian by Kristin Raelocal art! She has a list of things of her own to do: from swimming in the Mediterranean Sea to getting a makeover – and falling for an Italian boy! As Pippa explores the dramatic ruins of Rome and Pompeii, she is swept into her own drama with two guys: an irresistible local she knows is nothing but trouble and a cute American archaeology student . . . Will she find her true love?

Okay so I admit, this one has potential to be a really cute or a really silly read. I hope it’s a really cute one because I love books about traveling in Europe and when Wish You Were Italian is released in May this year, I’ll probably be in the mood for a light summer romance.  :)

So, what books are you waiting for this week?

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A Sometimes Predictable Page Turner: Changeling by Philippa Gregory

Happy Valentine’s Day everyone!

Grumpy Cat Dislikes Valentine's DayAwww…I hope you aren’t left alone with Grumpy Cat today!

In college I devoured Philippa Gregory’s shocking Wideacre trilogy (I totally don’t recommend that series…just trust me) and The Other Boleyn Girl pretty quickly. I love historical fiction, especially when it involves some romance thrown in there for good measure. So, when I heard Gregory had written a Young Adult novel, I was intrigued. Well, this YA novel, Changeling, was at my Fall Book Fair so I knew I had to buy myself a copy…to help the kids of course! :)

Italy, 1453. Seventeen-year-old Luca Vero is brilliant, gorgeous—and accused of heresy. Cast out of his religious order for using the new science to question old superstitious beliefs, Luca is recruited into a secret sect: The Order of the Dragon, commissioned by Pope Nicholas V to investigate evil and danger Changeling by Philippa Gregoryin its many forms, and strange occurrences across Europe, in this year—the end of days.

Isolde is a seventeen-year-old girl shut up in a nunnery so she can’t inherit any of her father’s estate. As the nuns walk in their sleep and see strange visions, Isolde is accused of witchcraft—and Luca is sent to investigate her, but finds himself plotting her escape.

Despite their vows, despite themselves, love grows between Luca and Isolde as they travel across Europe with their faithful companions, Freize and Ishraq. The four young people encounter werewolves, alchemists, witches, and death-dancers as they head toward a real-life historical figure who holds the boundaries of Christendom and the secrets of the Order of the Dragon.

Philippa Gregory’s books, simply put, are fun travels through time, nothing more and I’m pretty sure I read Changeling in a manner of days. I was hooked from the beginning when you meet Luca in his medieval prison cell.  We quickly learn of The Order of the Dragon, a real religious order specially selected and tasked with defending Christianity from it’s enemies, which of course was a big deal in medieval Europe. Luca is so ready to be rid of his charge of heresy that he accepts the “call” to this order without really knowing anything about it. So, he is sent off to travel Europe to learn about the things Christians fear.

Enter Isolde, her mysterious ladies’ maid and the nunnery she is forced into.  Enter romance (wink wink)! Also, enter the mystery.  The nuns are having strange visions, there is talk of werewolves, witches and other heretical occurrences. What the reader gets is a historcial mystery that is so engrossing you really can’t stop turning the pages! I had to know what was really going on in this nunnery!

The burgeoning romance between Isolde and Luca is interesting because it’s forbidden. Both have committed to the monastic life, although each was forced into it in different ways. Romantic love is not a possibility for them, even though it’s staring them in the face. Gah! The tension and frustration was fun, but also incredibly predictable. There is another romance brewing however, that is a little more interesting and less predictable.

Okay, so Changeling wasn’t the best book I’ve ever read, but it was entertaining and intriguing. It’s kind of like a YA Davinci Code, a page turner you can’t help but enjoy and I’m definitely down for continuing the series.

Author: Philippa Gregory

Publisher: Simon Pulse (May 24, 2012)

Format: Hardcover

Length: 256 pages

Series: First book in The Order of Darkness series

YA/MG: YA

Buy the Book: Changeling (Order of Darkness 1) by Gregory. Philippa ( 2013 ) Paperback

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Waiting on Wednesday: The Break-Up Artist

Hi everyone!

For today’s Waiting on Wednesday I wanted to showcase The Break-Up Artist by Philip Siegel.

Some sixteen-year-olds babysit for extra cash. Some work at the Gap. Becca Williamson breaks up couples. 

After watching her sister get left at the altar, Becca knows the true damage that comes when people utter the The Break-Up Artist by Philip Siegeldreaded L-word. For just $100 via paypal, she can trick and manipulate any couple into smithereens. With relationship zombies overrunning her school, and treating single girls like second class citizens, business is unfortunately booming. Even her best friend Val has resorted to outright lies to snag a boyfriend.

One night, she receives a mysterious offer to break up the homecoming king and queen, the one zombie couple to rule them all: Steve and Huxley. They are a JFK and Jackie O in training, masters of sweeping faux-mantic gestures, but if Becca can split them up, then school will be safe again for singletons. To succeed, she’ll have to plan her most elaborate scheme to date and wiggle her way back into her former BFF Huxley’s life – not to mention start a few rumors, sabotage some cell phones, break into a car, and fend off the inappropriate feelings she’s having about Val’s new boyfriend. All while avoiding a past victim out to expose her true identity. No one said being the Break-Up Artist was easy.

Doesn’t this sound like an really interesting contemporary read? I’m so intrigued by the idea of being paid to break people up…I mean I wouldn’t want the job, but it does sound like it could pay pretty well! haha Also, that is a pretty cool cover…its so different from what we normally see in YA today that it will really stand out on the shelf!

The Break-Up Artist is scheduled for release on April 29.

What do you think? Are you excited about this one too?

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Top Ten Tuesday: Fantastic Swoons

Happy Tuesday everyone!

We all know that Valentine’s Day is this Friday and while some of you may eschew this particular holiday, some of you may be in the mood for some majorly swoon worthy reads to cuddle up with. Well, you’re in luck because this week’s Top Tuesday theme is centered around romance!

I read tons of books and most of them involve some sort of romance, because I just like it. Now, I’ve actually done this theme before and it feels too soon to do it again the same way, so this year I’m going to focus on Fantastic Swoons…romances that take place in a fantasy setting of some sort.

Grave Mercy by Robin LaFeversThe Girl of Fire and Thorns by Rae Carson

1. Grave Mercy by Robin LaFevers. This book is kind of like a historical fantasy and there is some major romantic tension between two of the characters.

2. The Girl of Fire and Thorns trilogy by Rae Carson. Most of the swoon making happens in the second and third book, but you have to read book 1 to get the whole picture!

The Burning Sky by Sherry ThomasClockwork Angel by Cassandra Clare

3. The Burning Sky by Sherry Thomas. If you enjoyed The Night Circus by Erin Morganstern, you’ll like the romantic tension in this one too…it has a similar feel.

4.The Infernal Devices trilogy by Cassandra Clare. Seriously, there is some mad romance going on in these steampunk books.

The Scorpio Races by Maggie StiefvaterGreat and Terrible Beauty by Libba Bray

5. The Scorpio Races by Maggie Stiefvater. The heat in this one isn’t in your face, instead it simmers just below the surface.

6. The Gemma Doyle trilogy by Libba Bray. Kartik and Gemma. Say no more!

Graceling by Kristin CashoreA Curse Dark as Gold by Elizabeth C Bunce

7. Graceling by Kristin Cashore. Po….be still my heart!

8. A Curse Dark as Gold by Elizabeth C. Bunce. Super creepy but super swoons too.

Book of A Thousand Days.jpgFire by Kristin Cashore

9. Book of a Thousand Days by Shannon Hale. I love a good romantic fairy tale retold.

10. Fire by Kristin Cashore. A fabulous fantasy with an even better romance!

Like I said before, if you like a good fantasy and a lot of romance thrown in these books are sure to get you in the mood for Valentine’s Day!

Are there any romantic fantasies that aren’t on my list but I should know about? Go ahead and share them in the comments below! :)

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My Husband Likes YA: Legend and Prodigy by Marie Lu

Hi!

Every once in a while I suggest that my husband and I listen to a YA audiobook together. We’ve done the Harry Potter series, The Hunger Games trilogy and The Maze Runner series before and we both had fun listening to them together. He usually enjoys the titles I’ve picked, but I do have to choose the right book to get him interested, which is why I was excited when I read the summary for Legend by Marie Lu.

What was once the western United States is now home to the Republic, a nation perpetually at war with iLegend by Marie Luts neighbors. Born into an elite family in one of the Republic’s wealthiest districts, fifteen-year-old June is a prodigy being groomed for success in the Republic’s highest military circles. Born into the slums, fifteen-year-old Day is the country’s most wanted criminal. But his motives may not be as malicious as they seem.

From very different worlds, June and Day have no reason to cross paths – until the day June’s brother, Metias, is murdered and Day becomes the prime suspect. Caught in the ultimate game of cat and mouse, Day is in a race for his family’s survival, while June seeks to avenge Metias’s death. But in a shocking turn of events, the two uncover the truth of what has really brought them together, and the sinister lengths their country will go to keep its secrets.

In October, the Husband and I were driving back to Florida for my brother’s wedding.  It was a six hour drive so we knew we needed an audiobook. We chose Legend and loved it! When we got back to South Carolina we snagged the second book, Prodigy from the library too.

One thing that was special about this audiobook is that there are two narrators; one for Day and one for June.  It makes sense because the chapters alternate between Day and June’s point of view. I think I Prodigy by Marie Luprefer listening to books with multiple points of view on audio rather than reading them because the voices help me remember who is speaking. Even when the two characters’ voices are very different from each other, I still end up getting a bit confused so it helps having literally two different voices!

Speaking of June and Day I liked the combination of the two personalities and backgrounds coming together to help each other. June is very much a tom-boy, incredibly analytical, and often doesn’t realize how much her sheltered and privileged background shapes her world view.  This, mixed with the chip Day has on his shoulder from having been born to a life that is the complete and total opposite of June’s. The two don’t trust one another at first and it’s interesting to see just how they learn to do so.

The dystopian world Day and June live in is hinted at in Legend and the reader (or in our case, listeners) get even more of it in book two, Prodigy. We learn more and more about this futuristic version of the United States as June does. There are characteristics about this dystopian US that are believable (natural disasters taking a toll), but other aspects that seem a fall a little short (where is the rest of the world while the US is dealing with this stuff?!).  I was incredibly intrigued by the whole skills testing teens undergo to get placed (or tracked) into specific careers or…other things. As an educator I see creepy similarities to our focus on testing.

Although both books are incredibly fast paced with pretty much non stop action the entire time, I preferred Prodigy to Legend. It’s not uncommon for me to prefer the second book in a series to the first though, because I tend to get really excited when the characters’ world opens up and we learn about deeper layers of the story and new characters are introduced.

This series is pretty fun and totally accessible to middle grade readers, older young adult readers and up and the audiobooks are highly recommend by me and the Husband (we’re currently trying to get our hands on book three, Champion!) So, if you’re a fan of dystopian YA, or are simply trying to lure your significant other in the world of YA,  Legend and Prodigy are good additions to your TBR stack!

Author: Marie Lu

Publisher: Penguin Audio (Nov. 29, 2011) & (Jan. 29, 2013)

Format: Audiobooks

Length: Legend (7 hours and 48 minutes), Prodigy (10 hours and 10 minutes)

Narrator(s): Steven Kaplan, Mariel Stern

Series: Books 1 & 2 in the Legend series

YA/MG: MG/YA

Buy the Book: Legend    Prodigy: A Legend Novel

 

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Waiting on Wednesday: Camelot Burning

Happy Wednesday!

For today’s Waiting on Wednesday (hosted by Breaking the Spine) I’m highlighting a fantasy (as usual haha) debut that sounds like it has potential to be fun, Camelot Burning by Kathryn Rose.

By day, Vivienne is Guinevere’s lady-in-waiting. By night, she’s Merlin’s secret apprentice, indulging in Camelot Burning by Kathryn Rosethe new mechanical arts and science of alchemy. It’s a preferred distraction from Camelot’s gossipy nobility, roguish knights, and Lancelot’s athletic new squire, Marcus, who will follow in all knights’ footsteps by taking a rather inconvenient vow of chastity.

More than anything, Vivienne longs to escape Camelot for a future that wouldn’t include needlework or marriage to a boorish lord or dandy. But when King Arthur’s sorceress sister, Morgan le Fay, threatens Camelot, Vivienne must stay to help Merlin build a steam-powered weapon to defeat the dark magic machine Morgan will set upon the castle. Because if Camelot falls, Morgan would be that much closer to finding the elusive Holy Grail. Time is running out and Morgan draws near, and if Vivienne doesn’t have Merlin’s weapon ready soon, lives would pay the price, including that of Marcus, the only one fast enough to activate it on the battlefield.

I’m not a huge fan of the cover, although I do like the girl’s (Vivienne?!) gown and cape. I’m intrigued by the idea of a secret apprentice learning spells and potions! Also, I like that this seems to be a kind of retelling of the King Arthur/Camelot story since I’m into fairy tale retellings.

Camelot Burning is a 2014 debut and is scheduled for release on May 8, so I’ll have to brush up on my King Arthur knowledge before then! What titles are you waiting on this week?

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Top Ten Tuesday: Books That Want to Make You Cry

Hi!

This week’s Top Ten Tuesday (hosted by The Broke and Bookish) was a difficult one for me. Why you may ask? Well, let me tell you…

…because I don’t do books that want to make me cry.
nope

Nope. I don’t like them at all.

Except that sometimes I make myself read one or two because I am a librarian and it is part of my job to be well read. Unfortunately, I ended up actually liking some of these books, but not because they made me cry…or did they? YOU CAN’T PROVE ANYTHING!

The first five titles on my list are books I’ve read whose sole purpose in publication is to make me cry. All five of these were, in the end, good books that I’d recommend if you prefer an emotional read.

Between Shades of Gray by Ruta SepetysBetween Shades of Grey by Ruta Sepetys

If I Stay by Gayle FormanIf I Stay by Gayle Forman

Thirteen Reasons Why by Jay AsherThirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher

One for the Murphys by Linda Mullaly HuntOne for the Murphys by Linda Mullaly Hunt

A Long Walk to Water by Linda Sue ParkA Long Walk to Water by Linda Sue Park

The second half of today’s list is books that I’ve stayed away from because I suspect they’ve been told to make me cry. I’m told they’re all really, really good books, but so far I’ve kept my distance.  If you’re someone who enjoys a good cry while reading then these may be quality suggestions for you!

The Book Thief by Marcus ZusakThe Book Thief by Markus Zusak

The Fault in Our Stars by John GreenThe Fault in Our Stars by John Green

SpeakSpeak by Laurie Halse Anderson

The Boy in the Striped Pajamas by John BoyneThe Boy in the Striped Pajamas by John Boyne

How to Save a Life by Sara ZarrHow to Save a Life by Sara Zarr

So there you have it! Please share which books have turned you into a sob monster (that way I’ll know to stay away from them! haha)

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A Dreamy-Weamy Fresh Mix: Cress by Marissa Meyer

Hiya!

Those of you who have been following BookTasty for a while know that one of my favorite genres is fairy tale retellings. I just love seeing what happens when an author adds their own creativity to a classic tale. And you might even know that Marissa Meyer’s Lunar Chronicles series is one of the most imaginative fairy tale retellings I’ve read in a while. Cress, the third book in the series is no different…except for the fact that I kind of think it’s the best one so far!

Rapunzel’s tower is a satellite. She can’t let down her hair—or her guard. In this third book in the bestselling Lunar Chronicles series, Cinder and Captain Thorne are fugitives on the run, with Scarlet and Wolf in tow. Together, they’re plotting to overthrow Queen Levana and her army.

Cress by Marissa Meyer

Honestly, the covers in this series are all so pretty to look at, especially this one! *gazes dreamily at cover*

Their best hope lies with Cress, who has been trapped on a satellite since childhood with only her netscreens as company. All that screen time has made Cress an excellent hacker—unfortunately, she’s just received orders from Levana to track down Cinder and her handsome accomplice.

When a daring rescue goes awry, the group is separated. Cress finally has her freedom, but it comes at a high price. Meanwhile, Queen Levana will let nothing stop her marriage to Emperor Kai. Cress, Scarlet, and Cinder may not have signed up to save the world, but they may be the only ones who can.

Okay, so book one, Cinder, was focused on the story of Cinderella, while in Scarlet, the second book, we meet Little Red Riding Hood.  Well, in Cress, we meet Rapunzel. All of these well known characters have been plucked from their traditional settings and have now been dropped into this rich sci-fi setting. Our Rapunzel isn’t a prisoner in a tower but is instead a computer hacker isolated in a satellite that orbits both Earth and Luna. How freakin’ cool is that?!

After reading, and loving the first two books, I have to say that Cress is by far my favorite of the series. First you have Cress, who I find that I can so easily relate to. Cress is a hopelessly dreamy-weamy romantic who crushes on none other than one of the criminals she’s been tasked with locating. She is the kind of girl who is so innocent and awkward that she hides in embarrassing situations and frequently imagines she is someone else. Awww Cress, I just feel like I get you and your ability to make a situation totally more awkward than it has to be and it’s why I love you! Despite her ungraceful ways, Cress is a brilliant hacker and has the ability to draw from internal strength she never could have guess she had.

In addition to the adorable Cress, Cinder and her whole crew are back. We get to see more Captain Thorne, Scarlet, Wolf, Iko, Dr. Erland and even Prince Kai as the group moves closer and closer to stopping Queen Levana in her quest to control both Luna and Earth. With all of these characters there is a lot going on in Cress, but I never once felt overwhelmed. The action was so captivating that I just wanted to keep reading and stay in this imaginative Firefly-like world forever! There is a freshness about Cress that, partly comes from Cress herself and in part comes from the old and new characters mixing to creating exciting new storylines.

I genuinely cannot think of any major flaws, except that I really wanted this 500 plus page book to be even longer. There is so much that I want to figure out and I hated having to say goodbye to these characters, who feel like good friends, for another year before book four, Winter, is released. If you haven’t yet started this creative and fun series, please go to your library now and start reading! If you hurry you can get to Cress by tomorrow’s release day!

And a big huge massive friendly thank you to Kyle at A Reader’s Pensieve who loaned me her ARC! She’s pretty awesome, and if you aren’t familiar with her blog, you totally should be! :)

Author: Marissa Meyer

Publisher: Feiwel &Friends (Feb. 4, 2014)

Format: ARC

Length: 560 pages

Series: Third book in The Lunar Chronicles

YA/MG: MG/YA

Buy the Book: Cress (Lunar Chronicles)