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Creepy Chills and Gatsby: The Diviners by Libba Bray

Hi!

For as long as I can remember I’ve been interested in the Roaring 20s. My mom bought a history of fashion books when I was a little kid and I remember paging through it and always stopping on the 1920s fashion plates. I begged my mom to let me be a flapper for Halloween in 6th grade (I was an age appropriate flapper), and anytime there is a costume party, the 20s flapper is one of my go-to dress up eras!

Although I had head that it was pretty creepy, once I realized that The Diviners by Libba Bray was set in New York in 1926, I knew I wanted to read it.

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Evie O’Neill has been exiled from her boring old hometown and shipped off to the bustling streets of New York City—and she is pos-i-tute-ly ecstatic. It’s 1926, and New York is filled with speakeasies, Ziegfeld girls, and rakish pickpockets. The only catch is that she has to live with her uncle Will and his unhealthy obsession with the oThe Diviners by Libba Brayccult. Evie worries he’ll discover her darkest secret: a supernatural power that has only brought her trouble so far. But when the police find a murdered girl branded with a cryptic symbol and Will is called to the scene, Evie realizes her gift could help catch a serial killer.

As Evie jumps headlong into a dance with a murderer, other stories unfold in the city that never sleeps. A young man named Memphis is caught between two worlds. A chorus girl named Theta is running from her past. A student named Jericho hides a shocking secret. And unknown to all, something dark and evil has awakened.

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Libba Bray rocks my socks off. Her Gemma Doyle trilogy (set in Victorian England) is one of my favorite YA series ever and she definitely didn’t disappoint me with The Diviners! One of the best things about The Diviners is the setting. Evie’s story is set smack dab in the middle of New York City at the height of the Roaring Twenties, a decade that was made for excitement, drama, pleasure, and parties. Spiritualism was quite the trend at the time so what better place to set your paranormal thriller than in this era of heightened experiences? Bray delves so deep into the period that the story just drips with flappers and jazz!  Everything from the catch phrases to fashion and dancing, and as the history nerd I am I really enjoyed seeing tidbits of other social issues like prohibition, eugenics, and cultism in response to society’s loosening structure….it’s all there!

Our main character Evie, is the 1920s personified. Evie is your small town girl searching for love, life, and excitement in the big city. I just love her! Yes, she is annoyingly rebellious, stubborn and overly ready to get her way, but she is also endearing and loyal and all around fun! Sometimes she creates drama where drama needn’t be…like in a creepy basement where murders may or may not have happened, but in the end Evie is a girl who wants to feel everything and is constantly seeking ways to make life even the teensiest bit more intoxicating. She’s definitely the kind of girl you want in your group of friends because life is always interesting with Evie! The supporting characters are all really engaging as well, especially Memphis and Theta! I assume we’ll get even more of them as the series progresses, which is good because there is some weird stuff going on with this group of friends!

The Diviners is super long (550+ pages) but is so well paced you just can’t stop reading (or listening in my case) and I never once felt like the story was dragging in any way. Yes, there is the fun flapper aspect to the story, but with Naughty John, The Diviners is also a dark, frightening paranormal thriller complete with the occult, ritualistic killings, and characters who have mysterious supernatural gifts. This story definitely has enough creep factor to make you keep all the lights on at night!

For those of you (eighth grade and up) who enjoy paranormal thrillers and want a book that will give you chills while also make you want to throw a Gatsby themed party, The Diviners is absolutley, pos-i-tute-ly a must. One warning though, it will leave you wanting so much more! Since this is the first in a series there are tons of unanswered questions and plot points that have yet to fully unravel! I can’t wait for Lair of Dreams!

Author: Libba Bray

Publisher:  Little, Brown Books for Young Readers (September 18, 2012)

Format: Audiobook (Listening Library)

Length: 18 hours and 14 minutes

Narrator(s): January LaVoy

Series: First in the Diviners series

YA/MG: YA

Buy the Book:

 

 

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Waiting On Wednesday: Rivals in the City

Hi there friends!

Memorial Day weekend is such a tease.

It’s this little teeny tiny taste of summer, but you go back to work on Tuesday and you still have 9 school days left. Such a tease!

If you’re a book fan (which you probably are or else why would you be reading this blog?!) you know that these Waiting on Wednesday posts are also a bit of a tease as well! I showcase books that we’re all waiting and excited for only to remind you that these books aren’t yet released. Bummer.

Today’s is a doozy too because it won’t be released until February 2015! Rivals In the City by YS Lee

Today’s feature title is Rivals in the City, the final book in The Agency series by Y.S. Lee.

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This is the fourth colorful and action-packed Victorian detective novel about the exploits of agent Mary Quinn. Mary Quinn and James Easton have set up as private detectives and are also unofficially engaged to be married. But when the Agency asks Mary to take on a special final case, she can’t resist, and agrees. Convicted fraudster Henry Thorold (from book one, A Spy in the House) is dying in prison. His daughter, Angelica, is coming to see him one last time. Mary’s brief is to monitor these visits in case Mrs Thorold, last heard of as a fugitive in France, decides to pay him one last visit. But Mrs Thorold’s return would place James in grave personal danger. Thanks to the complications of love and family loyalties, the stakes for everyone involved are higher than ever. This is the final book in the Mary Quinn Mystery series. It is perfect for fans of Philip Pullman’s Sally Lockhart series and Victorian culture.

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In all actuality, I haven’t yet read the other books in The Agency series, but I’ve had my eyes on them for a little while now. They all sound like they’d fit perfectly into my love for Victorian settings and mysteries! Well, now that the series is officially ending, I can go ahead and read them without worry of having to wait for the next installment. Yay! Except, that I do have to wait until the New Year. Drats!

 

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Top Ten Tuesday: Southern YA

Hi ya’ll!

hahahaha

I don’t really say “ya’ll”, unless I’m tired. Not that there’s anything wrong with it (heya Seinfeld fans!!), but I am not a Southerner by birth and instead say “yous guys” (which isn’t any better!), because I spent most of my childhood in northern California.

But I digress…

I threw in that southern greeting because this week’s Top Ten Tuesday theme is a freebie.I am currently living in Columbia, South Carolina and I’m loving this gorgeous southern spring weather, so I’m focusing on Southern YA this week! All of the titles on today’s list are set in the South, and will make you want to relax on the front porch and sip sweet tea from a mason jar!

Books I’ve Read

Beautiful Creatures by Kami Garcia Paper Towns by John Green

Beautiful Creatures by Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl (South Carolina)

Paper Towns by John Green (Florida…actually Winter Park, FL! Where I used to live!)

Such a Rush by Jennifer Echols The Raven Boys by Maggie Stiefvater

Such a Rush by Jennifer Echols (South Carolina)

The Raven Boys (The Raven Cycle books) by Maggie Stiefvater (Virginia)

Along for the Ride by Sarah Dessen Scat by Carl Hiaasen

Along for the Ride by Sarah Dessen (fictional North Carolina beach town, Colby, like all of her books)

Scat by Carl Hiaasen (Florida, like all of his books)

Books I Want to Read

Out of the Easy by Ruta Sepetys Catching Jordan By Miranda Kenneally

Out of the Easy by Ruta Sepetys (Louisiana)

Catching Jordan by Miranda Kenneally (Tennessee, like all of her books)

A Kiss in Time by Alex Flinn Hex Hall by Rachel Hawkins

A Kiss in Time by Alex Flinn (Florida)

Hex Hall by Rachel Hawkins (Georgia)

I know there are tons of other YA and MG titles that are set in the South, but I only had room for ten, so feel free to share your favorites in the comments section below!

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Perfect for Summer Lounging: Better Off Friends by Elizabeth Eulberg

Hello!

It’s getting to be about that time…summertime!

Yes, it’s true! Teachers and students around the country are beginning to rejoice! Whoot!

With that said, let’s talk about a great read for your beach/pool bag. It’s not actually set in the summer, Better Off Friends by Elizabeth Eulbergbut it’s a fun contemporary novel…and what better for the summer than a good contemp?!

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 Levi 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?

From romantic comedy superstar Elizabeth Eulberg comes a fresh, fun examination of a question for the ages: 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?

Right?! It’s a romance…or is it?! Perfect for lounging by the pool or on the beach!

It has been said by reviewers before me, but I’ll say it again; Better Off Friends really is like the YA version of When Harry Met Sally. One of the best things about that movie was the mini interviews with all the different couples that were in between scenes throughout the movie, and Eulberg does something similar in this book. Instead of interviews with random couples however, she gives us dialog between Levi and Macallan as if they’re sitting with us at a table over coffee telling their story. Their back-and-forth teasing banter is just so spot-on!

In fact, so much of what Levi and Macallan deal with over the course of their story is so spot-on realistic. In addition to their own friendship/relationship drama, both Levi and Macallan are also confronted individually with the regular middle/high school woes. They have friend issues, family problems and school troubles just like normal teens do and Eulberg writes them with authenticity, while also keeping in line with the fun, light, and all around adorable plot.

Additionally, in keeping with the honesty of the story, both Levi and Macallan are average, non-perfect people. Most of the miscommunications and misunderstandings that go on between them stem from their flaws and inability to deal with awkward and difficult situations. Just like real life! I’m not a teenager anymore (not by a long shot!! haha) but I still struggle with figuring out how to deal when things are awkward and difficult!

The story’s pacing in quick. Levi and Macallan start off in middle school on the day they first meet and over the course of the book their story takes us all the way into high school. Both narrators give us the details on pivotal moments throughout the course of their friendship and they alternate chapter to chapter, which also helps an already fast paced story feel quicker, which can be good or bad depending on your preference. I happened to like the quickness because it makes it that much more perfect for your poolside summer lounging.

So do they remain just friends or do they take the leap and pursue more? I can’t tell you! You’ll have to pack Better Off Friends in your beach/pool bag! It really is a fun, sweet, and light-hearted contemporary read that will make you smile!

Author: Elizabeth Eulberg

Publisher: Point (February 25, 2014)

Format: e-galley

Length: 288 pages

Series: Standalone

YA/MG: YA (possibly older MG too)

Buy the Book:

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Waiting on Wednesday: Blue Lily, Lily Blue

Hi there!

Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly event, hosted by Breaking the Spine. It’s set aside as a time to celebrate upcoming new releases that I’m excited about. This week, I’m looking forward to Blue Lily, Lily Blue, the third installment in Maggie Stiefvater’s Raven Cycle.

Blue Lily, Lily Blue by Maggie StiefvaterI read the first book, The Raven Boys, in the series and really, really enjoyed it! I was pleasantly surprised by how unique it was among all the other supernatural fiction out there. But then I read The Dream Thieves, the second book in the series, and had issues. Maybe it was just the wrong time for me to read it or something, but we just didn’t mesh. It took me forever to finish it. With that said, I’m definitely interested in Blue Lily, Lily Blue because I’m wondering how the rest of the series will go. I really, really want it to be as good as the first book…I want to love it!

I can’t find a summary anywhere online, so I guess Stiefvater hasn’t released it yet. I’ll have to keep my eyes out for it, but I do know that Blue Lily, Lily Blue is scheduled to be released this coming October.  I’m excited to see how this one goes!

What book are you waiting on this week?

 

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Top Ten Tuesday: Friendship Favorites

Hi and Happy Tuesday!

As usual I’m participating in Top Ten Tuesday which is hosted by The Broke and Bookish. This week’s list topic is all about friendship books. The titles that have made my list today all highlight different parts of friendship that are important and all come highly recommend by me!

The Lions of Little Rock by Kristin LevineThe Lions of Little Rock by Kristin Levine

This touching historical fiction about friendship with those who you feel a connection with despite what others think.

Better Off Friends by Elizabeth EulbergBetter Off Friends by Elizabeth Eulberg

Eulberg deals with the question, can a boy and a girl be friends non-romantically?

Okay for Now by Gary D. SchmidtOkay for Now by Gary D. Schmidt

This one deals with how friendship can heal and challenge us to be better.

The Humming Room by Ellen PotterThe Humming Room by Ellen Potter

A re-telling of The Secret Garden that reminds us that friendship is supposed to be life-giving.

Wild Things by Clay CarmichaelWild Things by Clay Carmichael

This one centers on how our friends can become our family.

Thirteen Reasons Why by Jay AsherThirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher

This haunting read shows us what can happen if we don’t reach out to others in friendship.

Along for the Ride by Sarah DessenAlong for the Ride by Sarah Dessen

Dessen’s novel inspires me to be purposeful in my friendships and how sometimes you can be surprised by who wants to be your friend.

Smiles to Go by Jerry SpinelliSmiles to Go by Jerry Spinelli

A fun middle grades novel that deals with how friendships can change over time.

Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants by Ann BrasharesThe Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants series by Ann Brashares

Who wouldn’t want the love and support of this group of friends?!

A Tale of Two Castles by Gail Carson LevineA Tale of Two Castles by Gail Carson Levine

One I could have used in middle school because it deals with choosing your friends wisely.

Do you have any friendship related books I need to read? Feel free to share them in the comment section below! :)

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Well Played: The Eye of Minds by James Dashner

Welcome back BookTasty friends!

James Dashner is one of my favorite YA authors and his Maze Runner series is always my number one recommendation in my library. So, I was pretty excited to see that he had another book coming out! The Eye of Minds is the first book in the Mortality Doctrine series.

Michael is a gamer. And like most gamers, he almost spends more time on the VirtNet than in the actual world. The VirtNet offers total mind and body immersion, and it’s addictive. Thanks to Eye of Minds by James Dashnertechnology, anyone with enough money can experience fantasy worlds, risk their life without the chance of death, or just hang around with Virt-friends. And the more hacking skills you have, the more fun. Why bother following the rules when most of them are dumb, anyway?

But some rules were made for a reason. Some technology is too dangerous to fool with. And recent reports claim that one gamer is going beyond what any gamer has done before: he’s holding players hostage inside the VirtNet. The effects are horrific—the hostages have all been declared brain-dead. Yet the gamer’s motives are a mystery.The government knows that to catch a hacker, you need a hacker. And they’ve been watching Michael. They want him on their team.
But the risk is enormous. If he accepts their challenge, Michael will need to go off the VirtNet grid. There are back alleys and corners in the system human eyes have never seen and predators he can’t even fathom—and there’s the possibility that the line between game and reality will be blurred forever.

Let me start by saying that The Eye of Minds is not as good as The Maze Runner books, but it is an entertaining adventure that has Dashner’s signature non stop action style!

In typical Dashner fashion, the first scene is so intense that you’re automatically captivated by the story! We quickly learn that, Michael lives in a future where many people get their entertainment in a virtual reality experience, the VirtNet. I like this take on futuristic technology and the idea that there is someone, or something, in this “game” that is hurting people in real life, as well as in the virtual one. It makes for a very menacing and mysterious villain.

One thing about this book I enjoyed was that Micahel isn’t in it alone. He doesn’t leave everyone else behind to achieve his goal. He takes his friends with him because he knows that they all have different strengths and weaknesses. Although the characters fell a tiny bit flat at times, I still really liked Michael and his friends mostly because of the way they interacted together, which is a change from the usual YA “only you can save the world”.

The Eye of Minds reminded me of a giant game of Mouse Trap, in that each chapter is action packed with hurdles and challenges for Michael and his friends to overcome (they reminded me a little of Doctor Who episodes sometimes). However, there is a sense of predictability in the overall plot. Until you get to the twist of course! I remember standing in my kitchen cooking dinner while listening to the audiobook and having to relisten to the final chapter because I was so stunned and surprised by what had happened! Well played Mr. Dashner. Well played.

Although this is not the first Dasher title I’d recommend to people, I think that those who are fans of his writing will ultimately enjoy The Eye of Minds. It’s not as strong as I would’ve liked, but it was still a fun and exciting read.

Author: James Dashner

Publisher: Listening Library (October 8, 2013)

Format: Audiobook

Length: 8 hours and 36 minutes

Narrator(s): Erik Davies

Series: First in the Mortality Doctrine series

YA/MG: MG

Buy the Book:

 

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Waiting on Wednesday: The Iron Trial

Hiya!

It’s Wednesday and that means it’s time to focus on an upcoming new release that I’m excited for in the weekly Waiting on Wednesday.

While scouring the interwebs for upcoming titles, I was surprised to come across The Iron Trial by Holly Black and Cassandra Clare! It seems that the two awesome authors are combining their powers The Iron Trial by Holly Black and Cassandra Clareto create a new middle grades series!

A dazzling and magical middle-grade collaboration centering on the students of the Magisterium, an academy for those with a propensity toward magic. In this first book, a new student comes to the Magisterium against his will — is it because he is destined to be a powerful magician, or is the truth more twisted than that? It’s a journey that will thrill you, surprise you, and make you wonder about the clear-cut distinction usually made between good and evil.

I just recently finished reading Doll Bones by Holly Black, which made me a fan and I already loved Clare’s books, so I’m pretty interested to see this project! The Iron Trial, first in the Magisterium series, is scheduled for release in early September of this year.

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Top Ten Tuesday: Books I Almost Put Down But Didn’t

Hi there!

I have a real issue with not finishing books. If I make that decision to actually stop reading and put it down that choice stays with me forever. It feels like a little mini failure that plagues me! One time, however, a fellow book blogger (and I honestly can’t remember who it was) said that she doesn’t worry about not finishing books.  She said that there are too many books she wants to read that she isn’t going to waste time with books she isn’t enjoying.

This really resonated with me, but alas sometimes I just can’t give up on a book.  Sometimes it turns out to be a surprise and I actually end up enjoying the book, but other times I’m let down.  So, today’s Top Ten Tuesday theme is “Books I Almost Put Down but Didn’t”.  It’s going to be a mix of those I am glad I finished and those I regret finishing.

Those I Should’ve Put Down, But Didn’t

These are the books I kept pushing through thinking “Surely, I’m going to end up liking this.” Nope.

Fallen by Lauren KateFallen by Lauren Kate

The Hypnotists by Gordon KormanThe Hypnotists by Gordon Korman

Icons by Margaret StohlIcons by Margaret Stohl

Vixen by Jillian LarkinVixen by Jillian Larkin

Tunnels by Roderick GordonTunnels by Roderick Gordon and Brian Williams

Those I’m Glad I Kept Reading

These were books I wasn’t necessarily in love with when I began them, but in the end, am glad I stuck around to finish them because some of them have become books I love!

Daughter of Smoke nd Bone by Lani TaylorDaughter of Smoke & Bone by Lani Taylor

If I Stay by Gayle FormanIf I Stay by Gayle Forman

Along for the Ride by Sarah DessenAlong for the Ride by Sarah Dessen

Fever Crumb by Philip ReeveFever Crumb by Philip Reeve

Allegiant by Veronica RothAllegiant by Veronica Roth

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Charming: The Sound of Your Voice…Only Really Far Away by Frances O’Roark Dowell

Hello!

I accidentally read the third book in a trilogy recently…before reading the first two! OOPS!

I honestly didn’t know The Sound of Your Voice…Only Really Far Away by Frances O’Roark Dowell belonged in a trilogy because it really did seem to stand on it’s own.

In the conclusion to the bestselling Secret Language of Girls trilogy, Marylin and Kate find that boys can be just as complicated as friendship. Marylin knows that, as a middle school cheerleader, she has certain obligations. She has to smile as she walks down the hall, be friends with the right The Sound of Your Voice Only Really Far Away by Frances O'Roark Dowellpeople, and keep her manicure in tip-top shape. But Marylin is surprised to learn there are also rules about whom she’s allowed to like;and Benjamin, the student body president, is deemed unacceptable. But maybe there is a way to convince the cheerleaders that her interest in Benjamin is for their own good.

Kate, of course, finds this ludicrous. She is going to like whom she likes, thank you very much. And she just so happens to be spending more time than ever with Matthew Holler. But even a girl who marches to the beat of her own guitar strings can play the wrong notes;and are she and Matthew even playing the same song? She’s just not sure. So when Matthew tells Kate that the school’s Audio Lab needs funding from the student government, she decides to do what she can to help him get it.

But there isn’t enough money to go around, and it soon becomes clear that only one of the two girls can get her way. Ultimately, though, is it even her way? Or are both girls pushing for something they never really wanted in the first place?

One thing I absolutely think is perfect about this book is the cover. The colors are just so bright and inviting. It is one of my favorite books to display in my media center!

Like I mentioned before, The Sound of Your Voice, is the conclusion of a trilogy. Since I read it without having read the first two books I can honestly say that I do believe it can stand alone and you don’t have to have read the previous books. Dowell does a good job of providing context in a way that doesn’t feel like she is playing catch up; there is no “previously on Dawson’s Creek” moments.

Identity and personal ethics are big themes for this book. Both Marilyn and Kate are struggling to figure out their own identities and how these identities relate to and influence the choices they make. They’re basically asking themselves questions about the type of person they will be.

The girls’ on-and-off-again friendship is completely relateable to anyone who has experienced middle school. While struggling with the shape of their own identities, they’re also figuring out if its okay for their friend to have a totally different identity – can friendship even happen with they’re so different from one another? These questions are so well known to middle schoolers that it just amazes me how well Dowell writes them. It’s like she vividly remembers what it was like to be at this pivotal stage in life.

As implied on the cover and in the book’s summary, there is some romance woven throughout the story, but it really does take a backseat to the real focus, which is Marilyn and Kate’s personal and relational issues.

For those of you who have actually read the first two books, you’ll enjoy hearing from these characters again. And for the people like me, who happened on The Sound of Your Voice…But Only Really Far Away without knowledge of the trilogy, you’ll be pleased with this charming contemporary story of friendship and identity.

Author: Frances O’Roark Dowell

Publisher: Atheneum Books for Young Readers (August 27, 2013)

Format: Hardcover

Length: 192 pages

Series: Third book in The Secret Language of Girls trilogy

YA/MG: MG

Buy the Book: The Sound of Your Voice, Only Really Far Away (Secret Language of Girls)