Friday, July 24, 2015

Bookish Banter : Why YA?


A little Bookish Banter to get us through.  Bookish Banter is a little bit of banter about our bookish thoughts as we have a friendly discussion over a nice cup of tea. 






Here is a food for thought..... Why YA. That is a question I get asked all the time. I am 39 years old, I have two grown kids. Why do I like  YA. SO I know why I like...er love YA.... So yes I will answer this and Ash will comment. Agree...disagree.. don't care. We will see as we banter with the question ... why YA?


So here are the top three reasons I love YA.... yes there is more than three but I feel as if some would fall under these bigger categories.



1. They are INNOCENT.... well for the most part. 
  • Light on the Sex but not non-existent. I can still get my passion fill but I don't feel like a peeping Tom or an old perv. I can appreciate the build up, the tension, and knowing it happened. I cannot handle the during details. It's just not me. Some people like it, I am not one of them... so No to Fifty Shades of Gray
  • Bad language is a no no no for me. There is a simple reason for this. I don't like to use curse words. I feel my vocabulary and my properness (yes I know what that says about my vocabulary) is much higher and I don't need these ugly words. I don't want them in my books because I read a lot.. all the time... The more I read them, the more they are in my head, the more they will sneak out of my mouth. Lol you talk about having a high vocabulary, you realize properness is not word. It is a word... I just made it up. 
  • Violence and Drugs.... well I had my fair share of these when I was young so I don't need to relive any glory days here. Now I will say that I think these do play a part in some stories and if it's present but not overwhelming I am okay with that. I just have a low tolerance for any book that glorifies these two things. I don't think there is ever a time they are okay. 
2. They are faster paced.... not as much nonsensical input overload
  • So I have a bit of ADD. I get a bit lost and unfocused if there is a vomit of details. I am not a big lets imagine the entire picture kind of person. I do imagine some scenes and characters but I am okay with just the story and the feelings. I do not need three pages on they way the ceiling looked or how the tree fit perfectly into the forest. I just need enough to get the feel, the tone, and the setting. Than I need lots of feelings The more the better. I am a real feeler. She says she has a BIT of ADD. You should live with her, it's a whole "squirrel!" from UP type of thing, I swear. But it is very true that YA books are much faster paced, I have a very vivid imagination when it comes to reading, so sometimes I like a bit more detail than what a lot of YA have, but for the most part it's much easier to read. Hey Ash...SQUIRREL!!!. Really this is not me. Hmmm squirrel is a very strange word with a very strange spelling. I guess it fits for a very strange animal. 
  • They are shorter (most of the time) Yes there are some over 500 pages in ya....mostly in fantasy which do need the vomit of details... but generally speaking 300-400 pages is average for a YA book. That is about 2 days of reading if I am really into the book, Or half a day if its a weekend. This means I can read more books and that is wonderful for my ADD. Ha, I'm lucky to read a book a week anymore, but yes, shorter books are good. I generally like to read more than one book at a time anyway, so shorter books make it a bit easier to read a bunch at once. See I am not the only one with ADD. I read about 4 books at once. Or more, it depends if I have the one I am currently reading where I am currently sitting. If not... I pick up another one. Lazy or ADD hmmm. 
  • Things happen faster. I don't 2 hours reading a 10 chapters and just begin to find out what is going on... Who did what... Where we are.... What's the objective again. That drives me insane. I want things to happen in the first few pages... at least he first chapter. Also shorter chapters, means that whole "only one more chapter until bed" thing a lot easier. Even though most of the time, "one chapter" turns into 5, or 10, or more...
3. They are fun,. I like to feel a bit carefree and young every now and again
  • I remember being a teen. Yes it was a while ago but my memory hasn't forsaken me completely. Everything was new and interesting and exciting. First kiss, first love, first drive.... Oh it was wonderful. Now given I never had a first chased by a serial killer, first discovery of a dead body, or first monster sighting.... but I could imagine how that would feel because I remember when everything was so real and so big. Now life is stable and simple and well sometimes a bit boring. Uhm, I haven't had the whole.. first discovery of a dead body thing either.. the whole first monster sighting, I don't want to talk about that one. But it is definitely very exciting reading a book and knowing exactly how they feel, because as teens they feel everything so much harder and stronger, and it is more fun to read.  I can't believe you found my monster! 

  • The young adult characters are so vibrant and colorful. I like vibrant I like color. I love that they live the moment and they seem to live as full as they can for their life. No fear, no hesitation. They make stupid choices, spur of the moment decisions, and they do regrettable stuff. Stuff I would never have the courage to do. Its good though. My main characters live through it. (except in horror stories... they usually have dead characters) SO its nice to live carefree and un-judged. It's funny because horror stories are my favorite. Anyway, but yes sometimes it is nice to have a happy ending, a "this is the exact same thing that happens in every fairytale" kind of ending. Sometimes I want something unexpected and gasp worthy though. Yes happy endings are nice but I love the books I want to to throw because of the "that did not just happen" moments. Especially in the end moments
  • So much passion.... oh my goodness. The emotions are everywhere and everything is so over the top its ridiculous.. but in a good way.  I mean insta love for instance. I know some of you guys out there hate insta love but truly most teens I know including me when I was one... the guy was the whole world and it didn't take long to make that revelation. So even though its not really love its true emotion and its wild and deep and just so much PASSION. They feel hard! I already commented on this up there, but again. Yes it's nice to feel everything they feel on every level. 

SO there  you have it guys... that is why I like YA and I guess ash agrees. 

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Monday, July 13, 2015

Delightful Discoveries #105




Delightful Discoveries are books that I have discovered recently... old, new, just released... from blogs, Goodreads, libraries, friends, or bookstores. 






After the Woods
After The Woods by Kim Savage 



An emotionally-charged debut novel about the deadly lies hidden beneath a destructive friendship.
One year ago, two best friends, Liv and Julia, were attacked in the woods by a paroled predator. In an attempt to save Liv, Julia was left behind while Liv escaped. After spending three days in the woods trying to escape her abductor, Julia was rescued. She only remembers what happened in the woods in terrifying flashbacks. Now, on the eve of the anniversary of the attack, a body is found in the woods. This discovery rips open fresh wounds between the two girls as the truth about Liv's role in the kidnapping is revealed.




A Drop of Night
A Drop of Night by Stefen Bachmann



Five gifted teenagers are selected out of hundreds of other candidates to fly to France and help with the excavation of a vast, underground palace buried a hundred feet below the suburbs of Paris. Built in the 1780's to hide an aristocratic family and a mad duke during the French Revolution, the palace was sealed after the aristocrats fled there. No one has set foot in it for over two centuries.

Now, in the present day, the teenagers enter with cutting-edge technology, state-of-the-art security, scientists and chaperones. And then a brutal accident occurs. No way out. Caught in the dark.

They will have to fight to survive. But are they really alone in the depths?






Revenge and the Wild
Revenge and The Wild by Michelle Modesto



The two-bit town of Rogue City is a lawless place, full of dark magic and saloon brawls, monsters and six-shooters. But it’s perfect for seventeen-year-old Westie, the notorious adopted daughter of local inventor Nigel Butler.

Westie was only a child when she lost her arm and her family to cannibals on the wagon trail. Nine years later, Westie may seem fearsome with her foul-mouthed tough exterior and the powerful mechanical arm built for her by Nigel, but the memory of her past still haunts her. She’s determined to make the killers pay for their crimes—and there’s nothing to stop her except her own reckless ways.

But Westie’s search ceases when a wealthy family comes to town looking to invest in Nigel’s latest invention, a machine that can harvest magic from gold—which Rogue City desperately needs as the magic wards that surround the city start to fail. There’s only one problem: the investors look exactly like the family who murdered Westie’s kin. With the help of Nigel’s handsome but scarred young assistant, Alistair, Westie sets out to prove their guilt. But if she’s not careful, her desire for revenge could cost her the family she has now.

This thrilling novel is a remarkable tale of danger and discovery, from debut author Michelle Modesto.


Blackhearts
Blackhearts by Nicole Castroman





Blackbeard the pirate was known for striking fear in the hearts of the bravest of sailors. But once he was just a young man who dreamed of leaving his rigid life behind to chase adventure in faraway lands. Nothing could stop him—until he met the one girl who would change everything. This is their story.

Edward "Teach" Drummond, son of one of Bristol's richest merchants, has just returned from a year-long journey on the high seas to find his life in shambles. Betrothed to a girl he doesn’t love and sick of the high society he was born into, Teach dreams only of returning to the vast ocean he’d begun to call home. There's just one problem: convincing his father to let him leave and never come back.

Following her parents' deaths, Anne Barrett is left penniless and soon to be homeless. Though she’s barely worked a day in her life, Anne is forced to take a job as a maid in the home of Master Drummond. Lonely days stretch into weeks, and Anne longs for escape. How will she ever realize her dream of sailing to CuraƧao—where her mother was born—when she's stuck in England? 

From the moment Teach and Anne meet, they set the world ablaze. Drawn to each other, they’re trapped by society and their own circumstances. Faced with an impossible choice, they must decide to chase their dreams and go, or follow their hearts and stay. 






The Stars Turned Away
The Stars Turned Away by Lisa Maxwell



For as long as she can remember, Gwendolyn Allister has never had a place to call home—all because her mother believes that monsters are hunting them. Now these delusions have brought them to London, far from the life Gwen had finally started to build for herself. The only saving grace is her best friend, Olivia, who’s coming with them for the summer.

But when Gwen and Olivia are kidnapped by shadowy creatures and taken to a world of flesh-eating sea hags and dangerous Fey, Gwen realizes her mom might have been sane all along.

The world Gwen finds herself in is called Neverland, yet it’s nothing like the stories. Here, good and evil lose their meaning and memories slip like water through her fingers. As Gwen struggles to remember where she came from and find a way home, she must choose between trusting the charming fairy-tale hero who says all the right things and the roguish young pirate who promises to keep her safe.

With time running out and her enemies closing in, Gwen is forced to face the truths she’s been hiding from all along. But will she be able to save Neverland without losing herself?

Sunday, July 12, 2015

Answer Me This......Coffee or Tea



Answer Me This. We are hoping this will help our friends get to know us a just a tad bit better. 
A question will be asked and answers will be given by both Ash and Jenn. We hope you enjoy getting to know us outside of the bookshelves.


Question: 

Are you a coffee girl or are you a tea girl?


Jenn's answer:

I am both. I love coffee and I love tea. I like my coffee first thing. Hot or cold.    




I like a strong coffee taste and just a little bit of sweet. My favorite during the weekday mornings is my breakfast blend with a bit of all natural sweet cream. On the weekend mornings or every now and then afternoon treat.. Starbucks Toffee Nut frappuccino with non fat milk and an extra shot.  



 I like my tea iced unsweet or naturally flavored, peach or raspberry are my favorite. I like them with my meals or just as refresher. I do like hot tea when I am feeling off... orange or lemon black tea. Not much of a green tea person. Wish I was, its good for you but I don't like the taste. 
So that is it for me.   

What about you Ash....



Ash's Answer:

Oh hello.. I too love both coffee and tea. I love my tea unsweet and iced, though every once in a while a hot cup of chamomile is great. My favorite tea is the unsweet iced tea from Starbucks, if you ever want to get me anything, you can never go wrong with that.

As for my coffee, I am a bit of a coffee snob. I really don't like homemade coffee. I'll drink it if it's all I have, but really I like to have iced (or sometimes hot) coffee from Starbucks. If I drink it at home, I have a few giant coffee mugs that I use, and literally two thirds of the cup is filled with cream, the rest is coffee. My choice of coffee from Starbucks is a white mocha with caramel (The drizzle AND the syrup) with light ice, and an extra shot. Always have to have the extra shot. Believe I'm a coffee snob now? 


Here's the mugs that I have: 

From left to right;
Disappearing Tardis, Classic Marvel Comics, Classic Ironman, Chewbacca, Yoda, Jack Skellington, and a Mustache mug.








     
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Saturday, July 11, 2015

Revew: Mister Death's Blue-Eyed Girls by Mary Downing Hahn


Mister Death's Blue-Eyed GirlsTitle: Mister Deaths's Blue-eyed Girls
Author: Mary Downing Hahn 
Publisher: Clarion Books
Publishing Date: April 17th 2012
Pages: 330
Genre: YA  Historical Fiction/Coming of Age
Series: Stand Alone
Source: Audio
 
Based on an actual crime in 1955, this YA novel is at once a mystery and a coming-of-age story. The brutal murder of two teenage girls on the last day of Nora Cunningham's junior year in high school throws Nora into turmoil. Her certainties, friendships, religion, her prudence, her resolve to find a boyfriend taller than she is - are shaken or cast off altogether. 


Most people in Elmgrove, Maryland, share the comforting conviction that Buddy Novak, who had every reason to want his ex-girlfriend dead, is responsible for the killings. Nora agrees at first, then begins to doubt Buddy's guilt, and finally comes to believe him innocent - the lone dissenting voice in Elmgrove.

Told from several different perspectives, including that of the murderer,Mister Death's Blue-Eyed Girls is a suspenseful page-turner with a powerful human drama at its core.
I have had this book on my tbr for such a long time. I had the paperback arc so…. that is how long I have had it on my list. I wanted to read it, I refused to get rid of the ARC, but I never seemed to grab it when grabbing a new book to read. Then it came out on audio and moved it up on my list but still took me a while to grab. I finally grabbed it and I loved it. What took me so dang long. This book was amazing. I will say it was not in the least what I expected. It was more a drama, coming of age book then a murder mystery… but the feels I felt in the book made it amazing for me. Tears, anger, laughter, pity, it was all just crazy…. And yes there was some happy too. Not all terrible. This was real book for me though. It tore me to pieces.
In a very small town in 1956, two teenage girls are murdered as they travel to their last day of the school year. Nora is their friend and she has a hard time dealing with the events that happened. Buddy was one of the girls boyfriend. He is the main suspect and even though there is no evidence everyone believes it was him. This is the story of these two teens and how they dealt with the tragedy, how they dealt with the loss, and how they went on with life. 

One thing I noticed as soon as I read about this book, the thing that grabbed me – beyond the title- the fact it was based on a real crime. This is not a non- fiction, there is a bunch of fiction but the story was based around a real crime from 1955. This became intriguing to me because its about two teen age girls that were brutally shot in the 1950’s. yes crime did happen back in the good ole days but it just seemed so rare and the 50’s has always been an era that peaked my interest. Fun, innocent, laid back. That is what I think of when I think of this decade. So murder interests me and the 50’s interest me so I needed to read this book and this book gave me what I wanted even if it wasn’t in the delivery that I expected. I did expect more murder mystery feel or thriller style but it came in a coming of age story. Which worked exceptionally well for this book.

The setting for the story was a very small town in Maryland in the 1950's. The feel, the descriptions, the ways of living for the characters completely enveloped me into this time and place. This was done so well I had a hard time separating myself once I closed the book.  This was the kind of story where a great setting and a great tone was needed to really portray the feelings and thoughts of the narratives and it was done exceptionally well. Not only did I feel,see, and live this story I was able to connect very early on to the characters. It was so beautifully written. 

The characters were all great. The story is told from multiple narratives but the main one is Nora. A friend of the murdered girls. This is her story and how she copes with the tragedy, the questions that the murders bring, and losing those she loves. Nora was a naive girl however she felt genuine to this time. I don't feel she was more naive than any other girl at 16 of this decade. Nora experiences so much in this story from kissing to crime and it was a real journey to experience it with her. She didn't handle things well. I think that she would have handled so much more if the murders hadn't happened. Knowing the murders did happen and not knowing what it means or why it happened Nora questions everything and feels everything so strongly. 

Another narrative is from Buddy, the boy that the entire town believes murdered the girl. This was a very sad story. From the very beginning the readers know Buddy didn't commit the crimes even if they do not know who did. So knowing that the entire town insists he is the murderer and knowing he lost someone he truly loved, its hard to be in his head. Its sad and Buddy does the best he can to deal with it all. 

There is also the voice of the murderers in this book. Not know who they are by name but knowing they did the killing. They were creepy and haunting and just sick in the head. It was nice to get a glimpse of evil too. 

There were so many narratives but these were the most common and I do believe it was more their story. The narratives connected well and were well done. I never felt lost over whose head I was in and the voices were so extremely different, it ran very smoothly. 

The friendships and loves were so good in this book. My favorite was the friendship between Buddy and Nora. I wanted so much more from them and their time together was so short. I wanted to see it bloom and take off but it wasn't for this story. I was happy with what I did get and it was sweet and honest. Comforting. 

The story really was compelling and beautiful. Like I said so many feels and in such a short time. The book isn't long and its a very fast read but it's deep and real and honest. It captured my heart and then broke it and then healed it and finally set it free. 

The reader of this audio was one of my favorites and I can't ever say enough about her. I really enjoy Kate Rudd.. I love her readings, she brings the voices to life so well. Nick
Podehl also narrates and he is extremely good too. Actually kind of scary how good he does the evil. Two great readers so if you like audio books.... this one is for sure one to listen to instead of read. 


One more thing.... after the story there is an afterward by the author about the real crime and how this book was a fictional story based around the events of the real crime. I liked the afterward and I am glad it was there. It just made so much of my feels feel even more real. 


Loved it! This story will forever be a part of my heart. 




Mary Downing HahnI grew up in a small shingled house down at the end of Guilford Road in College Park, Maryland. Our block was loaded with kids my age. We spent hours outdoors playing "Kick the Can" and "Mother, May I" as well as cowboy and outlaw games that usually ended in quarrels about who shot whom. In the summer, we went on day long expeditions into forbidden territory -- the woods on the other side of the train tracks, the creek that wound its way through College Park, and the experimental farm run by the University of Maryland.                                                                                                                                                              
By the time my first novel was published, I was 41 years old. That's how long it took me to get serious about writing. The Sara Summer took me a year to write, another year to find a publisher, and yet another year of revisions before Clarion accepted it.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Since Sara appeared in 1979, I've written an average of one book a year. If I have a plot firmly in mind when I begin, the writing goes fairly quickly. More typically, I start with a character or a situation and only a vague idea of what's going to happen. Therefore, I spend a lot of time revising and thinking things out. If I'd paid more attention to the craft of outlining back in elementary school, I might be a faster writer, but, on the other hand, if I knew everything that was going to happen in a story, I might be too bored to write it down. Writing is a journey of discovery. That's what makes it so exciting. 







Wednesday, July 8, 2015

Review: Surviving Santiago by Lyn Miller-Lachmann

Surviving Santiago
Title: Surviving Santiago 
Author: Lyn Miller-Lachmann
Publisher: Running Press Kids
Publishing Date: June 2nd 2015
Pages: 320
Genre: Historical Fiction 
Series: Stand Alone
Source:  ARC 

 


Returning to her homeland of Santiago, Chile, is the last thing that Tina Aguilar wants to do during the summer of her sixteenth birthday. It has taken eight years for her to feel comfort and security in America with her mother and her new husband. And it has been eight years since she has last seen her father.Despite insisting on the visit, Tina’s father spends all his time focused on politics and alcohol rather than connecting with Tina, making his betrayal from the past continue into the present. Tina attracts the attention of a mysterious stranger, but the hairpin turns he takes her on may push her over the edge of truth and discovery.The tense, final months of the Pinochet regime in 1989 provide the backdrop for author Lyn Miller-Lachmann’s suspenseful tale of the survival and redemption of the Aguilar family, first introduced in the critically acclaimed Gringolandia.


This book wasn't on my radar at all until I was contacted bu the publisher. This book was a nice little surprise for me. I was pleasantly surprised by this read. It was good.  A great story that had a bit of romance and suspense and a bunch of family drama and some good world history. 


Tina is from Santiago and has lived in the states for a few years now well about 8 years I think. Santiago has been under a dictatorship for quite some time and her father used to work underground in a rebellion. He was captured tortured and set free and began to drink. Now Tina's parents are living in separate countries. Tina's mother is getting married. The condition of the divorce so she could get married... send Tina to Santiago for a summer visit.  So this is where are story begins. Tina goes to Santiago.. her father is an alcoholic and a workaholic. She is left to her own thoughts or with her aunt most of the visit. She meets Frankie a cute boy that drives a motorcycle and has lots of secrets. Secrets that are deadly. Tina finds herself mixed up in stuff that could hurt her and her family and in love.  This leads her to figure out where her loyalties really lie. 
It was good. Really good. I was really into this story. I think it had a bit over everything and I enjoyed all the little parts that made the whole. The story was pretty well paced and I felt very entertained while reading the book. I also learned some.

 The story behind the story was interesting. I really knew nothing about Santiago and so when I agreed to read the book for a review, I googled Santiago and Pinochet  and learned just a few facts that set me in the right area for the read. The book really brought some of those things to life for me. Without overwhelming me with details, I got a good look inside the country of Santiago during the Pinochet rule. Well actually the end of it, but there was still enough there to give me a sense of hatred for this dictator. It was a good little history lesson and a really good historical novel. 


The romance was sweet in this book, although a bit rushed and the entire time I knew something wasn't right I still felt wrapped up in Tina's love story. I didn't really connect with Frankie throughout the story but I did connect with Tina so  I was into the romance for her. 


Tina was a pretty real character for me. She made dumb decisions, she felt extreme in her emotions, she was a bit careless and didn't think things through. So really she was like a real 15 year old. I connected with her fast and really felt for her. She has had a hard life and just when things seemed normal to her she was shipped off to see a father she hasn't seen for years. She gets to Santiago and tries to make the best of it but her father just isn't into anything but drinking and working. So during the day she is left to her own devices and then in the evening when her father comes home, she ends up spending her time listening to his drunken rants and taking care of him. Still she does her best to build the relationship. 


The story behind the romance was quite good, ineteresting and suspenseful. Like I said, from the beginning I knew Frankie wasn't all candy and sunshine. Something was off. When it was time to reveal what I was a bit surprised and angry and for just a bit I was thrown into some good suspense thrilling stuff. A nice break from the oh so sweet and gushy romance. 


The ending was wrapped up a bit too nicely for me but it still gave me a smile and warm fuzzies inside. It was too good for real life but worked well for a happy ending in a story. 




It was a good solid read that kept me entertained and happy from beginning to end. 







I've practiced writing ever since I was six years and invented an entire classroom of 24 kids who wanted to be my friends. The follo
wing year, my mother gave me a typewriter, and I started putting my stories on paper. It was my way of creating a world where everything worked out the way I wanted it to.
When I became a high school teacher, I started collecting my students’ stories, and I incorporated these into my first efforts to write for others. I taught English to refugees from Latin America and organized concerts of Latin American music, and the people I met inspired and encouraged me to write the novel that years later would become Gringolandia. After Gringolandia came out in 2009, I enrolled in the MFA program in Writing for Children & Young Adults at Vermont College of Fine Arts and there gained the confidence to write the story I’d been avoiding or skirting for my life up to that point—growing up with Asperger’s Syndrome, a mild form of autism that made it so hard for me to make and keep friends. My 2013 novel, Rogue, is based on two incidents that happened to me as a teenager.
In addition to my published fiction for preteens and teens, I have complete drafts of two young adult novels, one of them a companion to Gringolandia, and am writing a middle grade novel. I am also working on a graphic novel featuring a Lego town I’ve built, Little Brick Township, and the minifigures who live there and/or visit. The stuff that happens in Little Brick Township sometimes appears on my blog, along with tips for other Lego builders. While I occasionally offer writing advice, my blog mainly features my other interests, including the experience of living abroad and learning another language (I spent the last four months of 2012 in Portugal and hope to return), my work as assistant host of a bilingual radio show of Latin American, Spanish, and Portuguese music, and what’s new in Little Brick Township.
 
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