Thursday, March 31, 2016

ARC April 2016 TBR

   Similar to ARC August, ARC April is a month long challenge where you tackle all the ARCs you have received. ARC August was pretty successful for me and I have some April and May releases I'd like to get to. I would be surprised if I read all six books, but I will be happy if I can read and review four books in April. I received all these digital ARCs from publishers through NetGalley and Edelweiss.


But first here are the GUIDELINES:

ARC April, like ARC August is all about YOUR personal goal in regards to YOUR ARCs! This was made as a “low pressure” but maximum benefits kind of challenge and I really want to continue that! The only real rule for ARC April is any books you count towards the challenge MUST be an ARC. It can be an e-ARC or physical ARC. It can have a 2017 release date or an overdue date of 2010! As long as it is an ARC we won’t judge you or take that accomplishment lightly.



This Is the Story of You by Beth Kephart. April 12, 2016 by Chronicle Books. 264 pgs.

The Darkest Corners by Kara ThomasApril 19,2016 by Delacorte. 336 pgs.

Sleeping Giants (Themis Files #1) by Sylvain Neuvel. April 26, 2016 by Del Rey. 320 pgs. 

The People in the Castle: Selected Strange Stories by Joan AikenApril 26, 2016 by Small Beer Press. 256 pgs.

Wandering Wild by Jessica Taylor. May 3,2016 by Sky Pony Press. 304 pgs. 

The Girl from Everywhere by Heidi Heilig. UK: March 3,2016 by Hot Key Books. 343 pgs.

Tuesday, March 29, 2016

Top Ten Tuesday: My Most Recent 5 Star Reads

     Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted by the lovely ladies at The Broke and the Bookish! Each week, a new topic is put into place and bloggers share their top ten accordingly.

For this Top Ten I won't be able to give ten 5 Star reads. I will go until the first of January 2016 since it says to put my most recent. That only leaves four books. It will be a small Top Ten obviously this week, but I am fine with that. We aren't pressured to put a complete list of 10 books. There are a few books that were close to receiving a 5 star for me in the end, but I won't include them here.

My January-March 2016 5-Star Reads:

The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins. I think the Audiobook really helped this become a 5 Star for me. They chose great actresses who had me emotionally connected to them. A great psychological thriller for those who loved Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn. 

The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chobsky. I finally read this book! It was great and I know I would have loved it more if I had read it as a teenager. 

Clean Sweep by Ilona Andrews. I love the worlds Andrews builds in their novels and the sassy heroines.

Y: The LastMan (Vol.5): Ring of Truth by Brian K.Vaughan. One of my favorite out of the series so far. A lot of questions answered and a great mid-point for the series. 

Friday, March 18, 2016

Book Review: Future Shock by Elizabeth Briggs

Future Shock
by Elizabeth Briggs
Publication Date: April 1, 2016
Publisher: AW Teen (Albert Whitman & Company)
Buy It: Amazon / BookDepository 
Source: NetGalley

"Elena Martinez has hidden her eidetic memory all her life—or so she thinks. When powerful tech giant Aether Corporation selects her for a top-secret project, she can’t say no. All she has to do is participate in a trip to the future to bring back data, and she’ll be set for life. Elena joins a team of four other teens with special skills, including Adam, a science prodigy with his own reason for being there.

But when the time travelers arrive thirty years in the future, something goes wrong, and they break the only rule they were given: do not look into their own fates. Now they have twenty-four hours to get back to the present and find a way to stop a seemingly inevitable future from unfolding. With time running out and deadly secrets uncovered, Elena must use her eidetic memory, street smarts, and a growing trust in Adam to save her new friends and herself."

My Thoughts:
   A short and sweet novel about five teenagers being recruited by a technological research facility to travel forward in time. Elena, our main character is a foster kid who has an eidetic memory and sees it as a curse. It's through her time travelling that she realizes it is an amazing ability after all. All five teenagers are chosen for the trip because of certain skills they have that would prove beneficial for the task to bring back future technology. However, they quickly find out they weren't told everything about Project Chronos and were lied to. Future Shock is a time travel thriller that sucked me in. I wanted to know what new discoveries the group would make regarding the technology of the future and developments with their own futures. I loved reading about the future technology, but I hope our society will never think lights on clothes is a fashion statement. The novel makes you wonder if you can really change the past to affect the future or if we are all on a loop, that what the group knows about the future is what helps the group in the novel shape it. I love these types of books that makes you think while reading it and it isn't just this formula: action+love+more action+everything resolved.
   I liked the book overall and felt the pace was great. The narration and descriptions were to the point and nothing was dragged out too much. Every paragraph was useful and every piece of information you read was important. The characters were interesting and they each became important and necessary for the plot that left no one out. I felt this story had been planned great and time-travel questions that could come up were answered. I love futuristic setting and while there were some technological advances it wasn't too advanced to where it was unbelievable. However, putting lights on clothes as a fashion statement and eating foam is not something I would ever do. The book fits in well with the age group it is intended for and the writing is well done.
   I really like Elena as a character and she had good character development. She could be the young Kate Daniels in regards to her attitude and intellect. I loved reading from her perspective. I love that she is a Mexican-American and helping to diversify the main characters of YA. The whole crew of characters in the book were diverse and Briggs's writing helped you sympathize for them. Overall I really liked this book and hope many more people get a chance to read it.

I gave this book 4/5 Stars. 

Time travel + thriller + diverse characters

Aspects for a 5 star read:
More explanation would have been great about Project Chronos. Why did they make this project to begin with? They just sent the kids without any explanation about anything. Why did they think technology would change so much in 10 years? I felt there was information that would have helped the story. 4 Stars is still REALLY good in my rating system. I would still recommend this book to anyone who is interested.

About the Author:
Elizabeth Briggs is a full-time geek who writes books for teens and adults. She graduated from UCLA with a degree in Sociology, currently mentors teens in writing, and volunteers with a dog rescue group. She's the author of the new adult Chasing The Dream series and the upcoming young adult novel Future Shock. Elizabeth lives in Los Angeles with her husband and a pack of fluffy dogs. You can connect with her online

Thank you Albert Whitman and Company for allowing me to review this book through NetGalley! 
Tuesday, March 15, 2016

Top Ten Tuesday: Books on my Spring TBR

A great weekly meme thought of by The Broke and the Bookish.  Have you read any of these books yet? What did you think of them? I have 15 books instead of 10...oops!

For Review:

Sleeping Giants (Themis Files #1) by Sylvain Neuvel. Expected Publication: April 26, 2016 by Del Rey. A thriller said to be World War Z meets The Martian that sounds like it could be in the style of Illuminae. I'm intrigued.

Into the Dim (#1) by Janet B. Taylor. Publication Date: March 1, 2016 by HMH Books for Young Readers. Scotland + Secret Society + Time Travel.

Wandering Wild by Jessica Taylor. Expected Publication: May 3, 2016 by Sky Pony Press. Magical realism + Nomadic life + Unwanted arranged marriage.

The Last Days of Magic by Mark Tompkins. Publication: March 1, 2016 by Viking. "An epic novel of magic and mysticism, Celts and faeries, mad kings and druids, and the goddess struggling to reign over magic’s last outpost on the Earth."

The Taxidermist's Daughter by Kate Mosse. Expected Publication: March 29, 2016 by William Morrow. Gothic historical thriller that sounds so good!!! Eerie and dark. I think it originally came out in 2014 and is being republished.

The Girl from Everywhere by Heidi Heilig. Publication: March 3, 2016 (UK) by Hot Key Books. Pirates + Time Travel (I've been into time travelling lately.)

This Is the Story of You by Beth Kephart. Expected Publication: April 12, 2016 by Chronicle Books. "About the beauty of nature and the power of family, about finding hope in the wake of tragedy and recovery in the face of overwhelming loss." This seems like something out of my comfort zone.

The People in the Castle: Selected Strange Stories by Joan Aiken. Expected Publication: April 26, 2016 by Small Beer Press. "Tales of suspense and the supernatural that will chill, amuse, and exhilarate." I am so freaking stoked I get to review this!

Fever at Dawn by Peter Gardos. Expected Publication: April 30, 2016 by Anansi International. A tale of how a Holocaust survivor finds the love of his life. I think this is based on how the author's parents met.

Library Books and My Books: 

Sense and Sensibility by Jane Austen. I want to get as many of Jane Austen's novels read this year as I can. I will be going in chronological order of publication so this is the first.

Sepulchre by Kate Mosse. I will be posting on how I am picking my books to read in a later post. I've had this book for years and I'd love to see if I love it or not to keep it. 

My Life Next Door by Huntley Fitzpatrick. This is a book I've been waiting on from the digital library.

Salvage the Bones by Jesmyn Ward. This is a book I've seen a lot, but never thought of reading it. I also got this from my digital library and will be my pick for Pop Sugar's Reading Challenge for National Book Award Winner.

Lola and the Boy Next Door by Stephenie Perkins. I read Anna and the French Kiss lat year and loved it. I heard this is the least favorite of the three books she wrote. I have a copy of it and I am looking forward to getting those feelings I felt while reading the first book!

The Martian by Any Weir. I finally got this book! Super excited!

Monday, March 14, 2016

Newly Added to TBR: Man Booker International Prize 2016 Longlist

The first longlist ever was announced this past week for the Man Booker International Prize for works translated to English! The author of the novel and the translator will share the prize money of 50,000 GBP. Which is really exciting! Why?: 
    1. Translators are given recognition for their work and aids their career. Translators are some unsung heroes of the publishing world that allows us to experience new, international authors.  
    2. This increases the mainstream publishing diversity that is available to us English speakers. These authors can offer greater insight or different perspectives on current or historical events and cultures in their own sociopolitical setting.  

I'm always wanting to find new books for my TBR and I found several novels on the list that interest me. I listed them below and added the covers and descriptions. All the cover designs were done well. I don't know if I will get around to read all of these this year, but I plan to at some point. Have you read any of these so far? Do you plan on reading any this year in anticipation for the shortlist? 

Here's the link to the list and other information, such as about the five judges:

The longlist nominees are listed by the author, native country, the tanslator, title and publisher.

José Eduardo Agualusa (Angola) Daniel Hahn, A General Theory of Oblivion (Harvill Secker)
The brilliant new novel from the winner of the Independent Foreign Fiction Prize.On the eve of Angolan independence an agoraphobic woman named Ludo bricks herself into her apartment for 30 years, living off vegetables and the pigeons she lures in with diamonds, burning her furniture and books to stay alive and writing her story on the apartment’s walls.Almost as if we’re eavesdropping, the history of Angola unfolds through the stories of those she sees from her window. As the country goes through various political upheavals from colony to socialist republic to civil war to peace and capitalism, the world outside seeps into Ludo’s life through snippets on the radio, voices from next door, glimpses of someone peeing on a balcony, or a man fleeing his pursuers.A General Theory of Oblivion is a perfectly crafted, wild patchwork of a novel, playing on a love of storytelling and fable. 

Han Kang (South Korea) Deborah Smith, The Vegetarian (Portobello Books)
Before the nightmare, Yeong-hye and her husband lived an ordinary life. But when splintering, blood-soaked images start haunting her thoughts, Yeong-hye decides to purge her mind and renounce eating meat. In a country where societal mores are strictly obeyed, Yeong-hye's decision to embrace a more “plant-like” existence is a shocking act of subversion. And as her passive rebellion manifests in ever more extreme and frightening forms, scandal, abuse, and estrangement begin to send Yeong-hye spiraling deep into the spaces of her fantasy. In a complete metamorphosis of both mind and body, her now dangerous endeavor will take Yeong-hye—impossibly, ecstatically, tragically—far from her once-known self altogether.A disturbing, yet beautifully composed narrative told in three parts, The Vegetarian is an allegorical novel about modern day South Korea, but also a story of obsession, choice, and our faltering attempts to understand others, from one imprisoned body to another. 

Eka Kurniawan (Indonesia) Labodalih Sembiring, Man Tiger (Verso Books)
“After half a century,” writes renowned Indonesia scholar Benedict Anderson, “Pramoedya Ananta Toer has found a successor.” Eka Kurniawan has been described as the “brightest meteorite” in Indonesia’s new literary firmament, the author of two remarkable novels whose sheer beauty, elegance, cosmopolitanism, and ambition have brought comparisons not only to Pramoedya, universally considered Indonesia’s modern literary genius, but also to Salman Rushdie, Gabriel Garcia Marquez, and Mark Twain.A new generation of young literary figures in Indonesia, emerging after decades of repressive dictatorship ended in 1998, is renewing the culture of the world’s largest Muslim nation (and its language, which was only nationally instituted in 1945). Kurniawan’s Beauty Is a Wound and Man Tiger are the capstones of this movement. A slim, wry story set in an unnamed town near the Indian Ocean, Man Tiger tells the story of two interlinked and tormented families, and of Margio, an ordinary half-city, half-rural youngster who also happens to be half-man, half-supernatural female white tiger (in many parts of Indonesia, magical tigers protect good villages and families).At once elegant and bawdy, experimental and political, Man Tiger will help to establish Indonesia’s new voice, underrepresented in world literature, while demonstrating the influence of world literature on Indonesian writers.
     *Also interested in his other novel, Beauty is a Wound.

Yan Lianke (China) Carlos Rojas, The Four Books (Chatto & Windus)
'One of China's greatest living authors and fiercest satirists'GuardianIn the ninety-ninth district of a sprawling labour camp, the Author, Musician, Scholar, Theologian and Technician are undergoing Re-education, to restore their revolutionary zeal and credentials. In charge of this process is the Child, who delights in draconian rules, monitoring behaviour and confiscating treasured books.The inmates – and hundreds of intellectuals just like them -- must meet challenges set by the higher-ups: to grow an ever-spiralling amount of wheat per li of land, and to smelt vast quantities of steel. The stakes are high: they can win their freedom if they are awarded enough of the small red blossoms, medium red blossoms and pentagonal stars given out for effort, obedience and informing on others.But when bad weather arrives, followed by the ‘three bitter years’ of the Great Famine, the intellectuals are abandoned by the regime and left on their own to survive.Divided into four narratives, echoing the four texts of Confucianism and the four Gospels of the New Testament, The Four Books tells the story of one of China’s most controversial periods. It also shows us the power of camaraderie, love and faith against oppression and the darkest possible odds.

Fiston Mwanza Mujila (Democratic Republic of Congo/Austria) Roland Glasser, Tram 83 (Jacaranda)
In an African city in secession, which could be Kinshasa or Lubumbashi, land tourists of all languages and nationalities. They have only one desire: to make a fortune by exploiting the mineral wealths of the country. They work during the day in mining concession and, as soon as night falls, they go out to get drunk, dance, eat and abandon themselves in Tram 83, the only night-club of the city, the den of all the outlaws: ex children-soldiers, prostitutes, blank students, unmarried mothers, sorcerers' apprentices …Lucien, a professional writer, fleeing the exactions and the censorship, finds refuge in the city thanks to Requiem, a youth friend. Requiem lives mainly on theft and on swindle while Lucien only thinks of writing and living honestly. Around them gravitate gangsters and young girls, retired or runaway men, profit-seeking tourists and federal agents of a non-existent State.Tram 83 plunges the reader into the atmosphere of a gold rush as cynical as, sometimes, comic and colorfully exotic. It's an observation of human relationships in a world that has become a global village. It could be described as an African-rap or rhapsody novel or puzzle-novel hammered by rhythms of jazz.

Raduan Nassar (Brazil) Stefan Tobler, A Cup of Rage (Penguin Modern Classics)
'Yes, bastard, you're the one I love' A pair of lovers - a young female journalist and an older man who owns an isolated farm in the Brazilian outback - spend the night together. The next day they proceed to destroy each other. Amid vitriolic insults, cruelty and warring egos, their sexual adventure turns into a savage power game. This intense, erotic cult novel by one of Brazil's most infamous modernist writers explores alienation, the desire to dominate and the wish to be dominated. A new translation by Stefan Tobler.

Marie NDiaye (France) Jordan Stump, Ladivine (Maclehose Press)
From the hugely acclaimed author of Three Strong Women—“amasterpiece of narrative ingenuity and emotional extremes” (The New York Times)—here is a harrowing and subtly crafted novel of a woman captive to a secret shame.On the first Tuesday of every month, Clarisse Rivière leaves her husband and young daughter and secretly takes the train to Bordeaux to visit her mother, Ladivine. Just as Clarisse’s husband and daughter know nothing of Ladivine, Clarisse herself has hidden nearly every aspect of her adult life from this woman, whom she dreads and despises but also pities. Long ago abandoned by Clarisse’s father, Ladivine works as a housecleaner and has no one but her daughter, whom she knows as Malinka. After more than twenty-five years of this deception, the idyllic middle-class existence Clarisse has built from scratch can no longer survive inside the walls she’s put up to protect it. Her untold anguish leaves her cold and guarded, her loved ones forever trapped outside, looking in. When her husband, Richard, finally leaves her, Clarisse finds comfort in the embrace of a volatile local man, Freddy Moliger. With Freddy, she finally feels reconciled to, or at least at ease with, her true self. But this peace comes at a terrible price. Clarisse will be brutally murdered, and it will be left to her now-grown daughter, who also bears the name Ladivine without knowing why, to work out who her mother was and what happened to her.A mesmerizing and heart-stopping psychological tale of a trauma that ensnares three generations of women, Ladivineproves Marie NDiaye to be one of Europe’s great storytellers. 

Aki Ollikainen (Finland) Emily Jeremiah & Fleur Jeremiah, White Hunger (Peirene Press)
What does it take to survive? This is the question posed by the extraordinary Finnish novella that has taken the Nordic literary scene by storm.1867: a year of devastating famine in Finland. Marja, a farmer’s wife from the north, sets off on foot through the snow with her two young children. Their goal: St Petersburg, where people say there is bread. Others are also heading south, just as desperate to survive. Ruuni, a boy she meets, seems trustworthy. But can anyone really help? 

Orhan Pamuk (Turkey) Ekin Oklap, A Strangeness in My Mind (Faber & Faber)
A Strangeness In My Mind is a novel Orhan Pamuk has worked on for six years. It is the story of boza seller Mevlut, the woman to whom he wrote three years' worth of love letters, and their life in Istanbul.In the four decades between 1969 and 2012, Mevlut works a number of different jobs on the streets of Istanbul, from selling yoghurt and cooked rice, to guarding a car park. He observes many different kinds of people thronging the streets, he watches most of the city get demolished and re-built, and he sees migrants from Anatolia making a fortune; at the same time, he witnesses all of the transformative moments, political clashes, and military coups that shape the country. He always wonders what it is that separates him from everyone else - the source of that strangeness in his mind. But he never stops selling boza during winter evenings and trying to understand who his beloved really is.What matters more in love: what we wish for, or what our fate has in store? Do our choices dictate whether we will be happy or not, or are these things determined by forces beyond our control?A Strangeness In My Mind tries to answer these questions while portraying the tensions between urban life and family life, and the fury and helplessness of women inside their homes.

Robert Seethaler (Austria) Charlotte Collins, A Whole Life (Picador)
Andreas lives his whole life in the Austrian Alps, where he arrives as a young boy taken in by a farming family. He is a man of very few words and so, when he falls in love with Marie, he doesn't ask for her hand in marriage, but instead has some of his friends light her name at dusk across the mountain. When Marie dies in an avalanche, pregnant with their first child, Andreas' heart is broken. He leaves his valley just once more, to fight in WWII - where he is taken prisoner in the Caucasus - and returns to find that modernity has reached his remote haven...
Friday, March 11, 2016

Book Review: This Raging Light by Estelle Laure

This Raging Light
by Estelle Laure
Publication Date: December 22, 2015
Publisher: HMH Books for Young Readers
Buy It: Amazon / TBD
Source: NetGalley

"Can the best thing happen at the worst time?

Her dad went crazy. Her mom left town. She has bills to pay and a little sister to look after. Now is not the time for level-headed seventeen-year-old Lucille to fall in love. But love—messy, inconvenient love—is what she's about to experience when she falls for Digby Jones, her best friend's brother. With blazing longing that builds to a fever pitch, Estelle Laure's soulful debut will keep readers hooked and hoping until the very last page."

My Thoughts:

   I liked the premise of this story and felt it would appeal to a lot of people, especially pre-teens and teenagers. It's about two sisters abandoned by their mother and an absent father with the oldest not yet 18 years old who has to take care of herself, her younger sister, and become financially independent. She has to start balancing her schoolwork, watching out for her sister, starting a job, and a hopeful romance. I think a lot of kids wonder what it would be like without adults and having more freedom. This novel explores that and puts it in a realistic setting with bills, repairs, and other consequences non-adults don't realize will happen. The cover is pretty and makes it obvious the target audiences are pre-teens and teenagers, which I agree correlates with the content of the novel. The plot itself I liked and I like how the story unfolded. I liked the structure of the novel, how it as parted and that the chapter headings signified time centered around their abandonment.  
   I didn't like any of the characters, especially Lucille. She made everything more dramatic than it was and how she spoke didn't seem like a teenager. There were weird analogies used at random times. The author is totally allowed to write like that and have her characters how she wants them to be, but I didn't like it. The prose tried too hard to be whimsical in my opinion. Lucille and Wren's parents were not likable, but they also weren't written deeper than showcasing their problems which led to the abandonment of their daughters. It was intriguing and the novel could have included more bits with memories of them. I guess I didn't really feel any sort of attachment to the characters. I sympathized more for Wren than any of the other characters. However, I tend to do that with a lot of books.   
  Why did her father just finally snap? Why couldn't her mother have just waited until Lucile was 18 years old or she finished her last year of school?  
   Overall, I don't think this novel was outstanding. I felt it tried to hard to be edgier than it was with awkward writing. I didn't find any of the characters interesting or like them. This novel focuses more on familial relationships, than romance (I think it was advertised as more romance than it is). I felt the novel length was too short and could have gone on a bit longer. I got more interested towards the end of the novel and wanted the story to continue. Based on other reviews I feel like this is a book you really loved or you just felt "meh" about. While there were some positive aspects I felt "meh" overall. What did you think of This Raging Light? 

Estelle Laure

About Estelle Laure:
Estelle Laure is a Vonnegut worshipper who believes in love and magic and the power of facing hard truths. She has a BA in Theater Arts from New Mexico State University and an MFA in Writing for Children and Young Adults from Vermont College of Fine Arts, and thinks everyone should have to wait tables or work in a kitchen at least once in their lives. She lives in Taos, New Mexico with her children.

Buy It  -  Borrow It  -  Skip It

Tuesday, March 8, 2016

Top Ten Tuesday: Futuristic Societies I'd Love To Read & Books I Want to Read

Top Ten Tuesday is hosted by the Broke and the Bookish. I reverted to an older topic because I didn't have time to do it then. I split the topic into two because I could only think of five things for the original: Futuristic Societies I'd Love to Read. After that mini-list I added Futuristic Books I Want to Read. 

Futuristic Societies I'd Love to Read: 

+Human colonies on other planets: How humans adapted and differences in flora and fuana. 

+Colonies/Firefly-esque scenarios on Spaceships

+Non-Dystopian Societies (I know it gives a good plot, but I don't want to read that all the time!)

+Futuristic society with advanced technology: One of my favorite things to find out in futuristic books!

+Society with realistic international relations


Futuristic Books I Want To Read:

Station Eleven by Emily St.John Mandel

The Road by Cormac McCarthy

Legend Series by Marie Lu

The 5th Wave by Rick Yancey

Oryx and Crake by Margret Atwood

Monday, March 7, 2016

On Hold: Anticipated Library Loans

Down the Rabbit Hole by Holly Madison.

Glass Sword (Red Queen 2) by Victoria Aveyard. Pop Sugar Challenge: Book and it's Prequel.

My Life Next Door by Huntley Fitzpatrick.

Salvage the Bones by Jesmyn Ward. Pop Sugar Challenge: A National Book Award Winner.

My Life on the Road by Gloria Steinem. Pop Sugar Reading Challenge:An Autobiography.

Dear Mr. You by Mary-Louise Parker.

Jackaby by William Ritter.