Friday, June 23, 2017

Spinning Pages (13): Perfect Cover/ Bad Girl

Oftentimes, while I'm reading a song will pop into my head because the book makes me think of it; sometimes the reverse happens and a random song will make me think of a book I have readSpinning Pages is a combination of my love for books and music. More often than not, the inspiration for these posts strikes while I have music thumping in my ears while exercising (kind of like how this feature came to be). 

I had entirely too many songs that could have worked for this book. I seriously considered pairing more than one song up with Perfect Cover, but decided that it would be best to keep it down to one song. It might just be me, yet I think that the characters might, albeit mildly, approve of the song selection- Bad Girl by Ladies' Code.

Bad Girl by Ladies' Code-
I’m a bad girlYes, I’m that kind of girlA person who deceives for loveWho doesn’t knowHow to hurt or cryA bad girlIs what you would call meBad Girl bad girl bad bad girlPlease leave me alone now
“You’re a weak girlYou’re a nice girl in my eyesA pitiful girl”Don’t view me like thatI’m sick of this now

There were about five other songs that I considered using, yet this was the one that stood out the most for Perfect Cover. From being underestimated, by everybody, to their various attempts to use a certain boy to get behind enemy lines, this song just really worked for the book. 

To be quite honest, I selected this song with two characters in mind, Toby and Brooke, as both like to pretend that nothing gets to them. 

I almost did not use this song simply because it still makes me somewhat sad to listen to Ladies' Code after they loss two members a couple years ago. But in the end, the song is just too good and perfect to not use it; that and I've liked it since it first released.

You can listen to all of Ladies' Code's Bad Girl below!!


Wednesday, June 21, 2017

I Want to Read It (58): The Naturals

I Want to Read It, a hybrid between WLW (or WOW) and what's on my to-be-read pile. Well, instead of focusing just on books I would like to acquire, I will be using it to feature books that I just want to read. From the one's I want to buy to the one's sitting on my TBR at home.

The Naturals (The Naturals, 1) by Jennifer Lynn Barnes, November 5, 2013. Published by Disney-Hyperion. Source: Wishlist.
Seventeen-year-old Cassie is a natural at reading people. Piecing together the tiniest details, she can tell you who you are and what you want. But it’s not a skill that she’s ever taken seriously. That is, until the FBI come knocking: they’ve begun a classified program that uses exceptional teenagers to crack infamous cold cases, and they need Cassie.

What Cassie doesn’t realize is that there’s more at risk than a few unsolved homicides—especially when she’s sent to live with a group of teens whose gifts are as unusual as her own. Sarcastic, privileged Michael has a knack for reading emotions, which he uses to get inside Cassie’s head—and under her skin. Brooding Dean shares Cassie’s gift for profiling but keeps her at arm’s length.

Soon, it becomes clear that no one in the Naturals program is what they seem. And when a new killer strikes, danger looms closer than Cassie could ever have imagined. Caught in a lethal game of cat and mouse with a killer, the Naturals are going to have to use all of their gifts just to survive.

Having just finished Jennifer Lynn Barnes' The Squad duology, I was curious to see what her newer books looked like. Then I ran across The Naturals and I'm thinking that I need this series in my life!! 
 I really like the premise of this one; it just sounds so exciting. Sure, it's a skosh similar, with teens being drafted by the government for special jobs, to the Squad books, but it sure sounds fascinating. 

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Teaser Tuesday: Killer Spirit

Teaser Tuesday is hosted by MizB of Books And A Beat. To participate, simply do the following: Grab your current read Open to a random page Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page
BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn't give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!)
Share the title & author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers!

Monday, June 19, 2017

A Vintage Reads YA Review: Killer Spirit

Killer Spirit (The Squad, 2) by Jennifer Lynn Barnes, February 12, 2008. 324 pages. Published by Laurel Leaf. Source: Own.
Saying Toby Klein is an unlikely cheerleader is like saying Paris Hilton might be into guys--understatement of the year. But the varsity squad at Bayport High gives new meaning to the phrase All-American, and Toby's double life as a varsity cheerleader and a government operative means balancing protocol, pep rallies, computer hacking, and handsprings.

Now something's about to go down in Bayport, and the Big Guys Upstairs need to know what. The Squad is on the case, but it looks like this mission could put the "l" in lethal. And if the spy business doesn't kill Toby, it's starting to look like Brooke, the team's captain, might. The nominations are in for homecoming court, and rumor has it that Toby is the unlikely front-runner for queen.

Terrorist threat? Bloody mission gone wrong? Demented squad captain?

Bring it on.
First Sentence
Once upon a time, I thought that the cheerleaders at my high school were no more capable of intelligent thought or true athleticism than the average dachshund.

Well, I decided to just go ahead and review Killer Spirit this week instead of pushing it off till, well, who knows when. It would be nice to see the series reprinted with new covers; you know since the Squad was pretty entertaining. Now that I have finished this series, I'm looking forward to reading, one day, some of Jennifer Lynn Barnes' newer books.

  • I actually liked this one more than Perfect Cover. It felt more complete; and that my suspicion of a certain character, who was briefly introduced at the beginning of book one. Can you say exciting!! I love when my theories are proved correct and the way it tied in was, well, to be perfectly honest oh so fitting for the series. I refuse to say more on that plot piece because a) it's very spoiler filled and b) because it is best enjoyed in the moment when the "big" reveal is made. 
  • Well, my feelings about Toby were still the same as they were in the first book, but as much as I disliked her, the story was more interesting than book one. Perhaps my increased enjoyment  of the second volume came down to the fact that not everything went as planned for them; that and the backstory on a couple of the characters. Personally, I liked that they struggled more in this book. Not only with their missions but also with internal rivalry over the homecoming queen. I'll say this, Jennifer Lynn Barnes knows how to write a great snippy scene; those girls went straight for the kill with some of their cutting remarks.
  •  Honestly, the writing was much better in this one and the plot felt more complete. Generally, I just enjoyed the concept of this one more. It gave more depth to the characters, hello backstory, and even the side characters were more interesting. Though I must say that Toby's brother nearly killed me with laughter; frankly, I am very surprised that he survived the series after his actions. Though they did add some comedy.
Final Verdict: Killer Spirit- From a high stake mission that puts not only the Squad's existence but also their lives in jeopardy to high school, queen-bee cattiness, this book will keep you entertained. Even though there was more in-fighting, I still enjoyed reading it because, like sisters, you fight yet still know they'll have your back.

Don't forget, you can see my thoughts on Perfect Cover, the first book in Jennifer Lynn Barnes' The Squad.

Killer Spirit earns

A copy of this book was purchased by me. All thoughts are my own.

Saturday, June 17, 2017

DNF Review: Blood Rose Rebellion

The Blood Rose Rebellion (Blood Rose Rebellion, 1) by Rosalyn Eves, March 28, 2017. 416 pages. Published by Knopf Books for Young Readers. Source: Publisher.
Sixteen-year-old Anna Arden is barred from society by a defect of blood. Though her family is part of the Luminate, powerful users of magic, she is Barren, unable to perform the simplest spells. Anna would do anything to belong. But her fate takes another course when, after inadvertently breaking her sister’s debutante spell—an important chance for a highborn young woman to show her prowess with magic—Anna finds herself exiled to her family’s once powerful but now crumbling native Hungary.

Her life might well be over.

In Hungary, Anna discovers that nothing is quite as it seems. Not the people around her, from her aloof cousin Noémi to the fierce and handsome Romani Gábor. Not the society she’s known all her life, for discontent with the Luminate is sweeping the land. And not her lack of magic. Isolated from the only world she cares about, Anna still can’t seem to stop herself from breaking spells.

As rebellion spreads across the region, Anna’s unique ability becomes the catalyst everyone is seeking. In the company of nobles, revolutionaries, and Romanies, Anna must choose: deny her unique power and cling to the life she’s always wanted, or embrace her ability and change that world forever. 

First Sentence
I did not set out to ruin my sister's debut.

I was really excited at the chance to read The Blood Rose Rebellion as it sounded interesting and right up my alley. Unfortunately, it took me three weeks to read a hundred pages; which led me to DNF-ing it because I just did not care about the story nor the characters. There was nothing keeping me invested in the story.

  • I was really hoping that this would be a good read. Or at least one that I could happily get lost in the world; as it sounded promising when I first came across it. The premise, that of magic being bound to certain bloodlines, was what first piqued my interest. Sadly, The Blood Rose Rebellion failed to live up to my expectations. 
  •  All things considered, even though I did not finish nor like this one, there was one thing that I did sort of like. It's from pretty early on in the book so I do not think it is spoiler-ish so... The weirdness of debuting into society aside, I did like how those who debuted, like Anna's sister in the beginning of the book, where they would display their brand of magic. It was interesting to see them have to prove themselves, even if I did not like that it would decide whether or not they would be accepted into the higher echelons of society. The descriptions of the illusions made, as well as the mentions of the other powers, were well done. You could almost mentally see what the author was describing. 
  • My biggest complaints when it came to this book were the characters and the overall storyline. I just could not stand Anna. On the one hand, I applaud Anna for going after what she wants and trying to change her lack of power; yet, her quest for power made it impossible for me to like her. I apologize, I just cannot put into words why it bothered me so. It just flustered me! 
  • Even though I enjoyed the descriptive way the world's magic was told, I overall felt nothing about the writing. It, unfortunately, failed to capture my attention. While there were tiny glimmers that it could have been a decent book, there were just too many things about it that kept me from enjoying it. The story tropes, nay its whole "ness", just felt tired and "been there, done that". 
  • I have neither the time nor the patience to talk about the romance of this book. Other than to say that, yeah, saw that coming like when I first watched Frozen

Final Verdict: The Blood Rose Rebellion- A little over a hundred pages and nothing of consequence ever happened. I am highly disappointed because I was expecting something so much more exciting than what it turned out to be. 

The Blood Rose Rebellion earns

A copy of this book was received through Blogging for Books in consideration for review. All thoughts are my own.

Friday, June 16, 2017

Spinning Pages (12): Orphan Island/Be the Light

Oftentimes, while I'm reading a song will pop into my head because the book makes me think of it; sometimes the reverse happens and a random song will make me think of a book I have readSpinning Pages is a combination of my love for books and music. More often than not, the inspiration for these posts strikes while I have music thumping in my ears while exercising (kind of like how this feature came to be). 

So we meet again! Guys, it was so difficult choosing which book and song to pair select this week!! There were just too many options to choose from... But I decided that Laurel Snyder's Orphan Island would be taking the spotlight this go-round. 

Be the Light by Block B-

It’s dark and I can’t see
I put out my hand but only the wind clashes
I don’t know why but this place is strange
I’m getting used to this misery
I live like a shadow

I thought that you’ll look at me at least once
With the useless hope
In my imagination
I have the conversation with you all night
I deep inside of you
(I can’t get over)
Only you can light up my surroundings
(English translation from Color Coded Lyrics)
Be the Light is one of my favorite songs from Block B so, of course, I'm excited to be able to use it here today for this post. When I was preparing, by listening to tons of songs and, if necessary, looking up the English lyrics, I could not help but feel that this song really worked well for Jinny and every feeling she experienced as her world began changing. From the loss of her best friend Deen, to the raging feelings exploding within her.

Want to learn more about Laurel Snyder's Orphan Island, then check out my review and see why you want to read this one!!

Curious as to what the Be the Light sounds like, well then you are in luck because you can listen to it below. Hope you love this week's edition of Spinning Pages!!

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

I Want to Read It (57): Palace of Spies

I Want to Read It, a hybrid between WLW (or WOW) and what's on my to-be-read pile. Well, instead of focusing just on books I would like to acquire, I will be using it to feature books that I just want to read. From the one's I want to buy to the one's sitting on my TBR at home.

Palace of Spies (Palace of Spies, 1) by Sarah Zettle, November 5, 2013. Published by HMH Books for Young Readers. Source: Want to Read.
A warning to all young ladies of delicate breeding who wish to embark upon lives of adventure: Don't. 
Sixteen-year-old Peggy is a well-bred orphan who is coerced into posing as a lady in waiting at the palace of King George I. Life is grand, until Peggy starts to suspect that the girl she's impersonating might have been murdered. Unless Peggy can discover the truth, she might be doomed to the same terrible fate. But in a court of shadows and intrigue, anyone could be a spy—perhaps even the handsome young artist with whom Peggy is falling in love...
History and mystery spark in this effervescent series debut.

I don't know about you, but when summer rolls around I want all the books filled with spies, magic, or adventure. Having already read to spy books this summer, I was browsing Goodreads in hopes of finding another; enter Palace of Spies by Sarah Zettle. I only vaguely recall hearing about this one when it published four years ago, so I don't know if it was popular or not...but it sounds interesting with its court intrigue. 

The only thing that bothers me about this book, from what one can see from the synopsis, is the main characters name. Oh well! 

In a stroke of luck, my library actually has a copy so I'm off to see about checking it out. 

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Teaser Tuesday: Perfect Cover

Teaser Tuesday is hosted by MizB of Books And A Beat. To participate, simply do the following: Grab your current read Open to a random page Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page
BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn't give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!)
Share the title & author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers!

Monday, June 12, 2017

A Vintage Reads YA Review: Perfect Cover

Perfect Cover (The Squad, 1) by Jennifer Lynn Barnes, January 1, 2008. 275 pages. Published by Laurel-Leaf. Source: Own.
Bayport High operates like any other high school--jocks at the top, outsiders at the bottom, and everyone else in between. Enter Toby Klein, a sophomore computer hacker who doesn't play well with others. She has zero school spirit, a black belt in karate, and what her guidance counselor calls an attitude problem. She's the last person you'd expect to be invited to join the varsity cheerleading squad.
But things are different at Bayport.
Bayport's varsity cheer squad is made up of the hottest of the hot. But this A-list is dangerous in more ways than one. The Squad is actually a cover for the most highly trained group of underage government operatives the United States has ever assembled. Athletically, they're unmatchable, though they make it all look easy on the field. Mentally, they're exceptional--but with one flash of their gorgeous smiles, you'll completely forget that. Socially, they're gifted so they can command and manipulate any situation. And above all, they have the perfect cover, because, beyond herkies and highlights, no one expects anything from a cheerleader.
Toby Klein might not seem like the most likely recruit, but she's never been one to turn down a challenge. If she can handle the makeover, Bayport Hight may just have found its newest cheerleader.
First Sentence
If you'd told me at the beginning of sophomore year that I was going to end up a government operative, I would have thought you were crazy, but if you'd told me I was destined to become a cheerleader, I would have had you committed, no questions asked. 

Perfect Cover has been out for nine years...I've owned a copy for four years now...yeah, I'm thinking it was high time to "dust" it out and see what Jennifer Lynn Barnes cooked up with her cheerleaders/secret agents story!! Are you ready?

  • I don't really know why it took me so long to read Perfect Cover! There were definitely things I liked, and things I disliked about this book. Yet overall, it was a fairly good read and amusing enough to make up for the book the put me in a slight reading slump. There was a nice mixture of cheesy, lightheartedness and action to make it worth my time.
  • Even though I quite enjoyed reading it, there were a few things I did not enjoy. I'll be honest here, I did not like Toby. I know, I know, she was supposed to be "cool" with her "antisocial/I'm so different from the other girls-ness", but she annoyed the daylights out of me. Don't get me wrong, I enjoy characters that are different and not confined to a mold, yet her character seemed to be trying too hard to, you know, not be like her squad mates. I don't know, it could have just been the way the author wrote Toby's personality, or maybe just that she was, well, irritating. 
  • Toby aside, I really liked the premise of the book, that of cheerleaders being secret agents for the government, it was fascinating. Fascinating because she took how cheerleaders, and of we're honest women/girls, are underestimated and used it to conceal the Squads true purpose. While I did have my problems with some of the characters, I really enjoyed the tension amongst the squad and how not everyone got along as it gave the story more to draw from when they were not saving the world (or you know cheering). 
  •  Writing-wise, it was okay. Though you can definitely tell that it was written almost a decade ago as it is beginning to show it's age. Even though it was so 2008, I still found it enjoyable because who doesn't enjoy a good spy book during the summer. While predictable at times, I am still willing to give Jennifer Lynn Barnes another shot; maybe one of her newer books will be even more enjoyable.

Final Verdict: Perfect Cover- Interesting premise and some very (scary) dangerous girls that were deadly and snarky. It had its good and bad points, but overall an enjoyable read.

Perfect Cover earns

A copy of this book was purchased by me. All thoughts are my own.

Friday, June 9, 2017

All About Middle Grade [Blog Tour] Review: Sputnik's Guide to Life on Earth

I am thrilled to be talking about Frank Cottrell Boyce's upcoming release Sputnik's Guide to Life on Earth. This book was incredible, especially in the way the author wrote about the ties that bind family together.

About the Author
Frank Cottrell Boyce is the author of Sputnik's Guide to Life on Earth, The Astounding Broccoli Boy, Cosmic, Framed, and Millions, the last of which was a New York Times bestseller and was made into a movie by Oscar-winning director Danny Boyle. His books have won or been nominated for numerous awards, including the Carnegie Medal, the Guardian Children's Fiction Prize, and the Whitbread Children's Book Award. Frank is also a screenwriter, having penned the scripts for a number of feature films as well as the opening ceremony of the 2012 London Olympics. He lives in Liverpool with his family.

Sputnik's Guide to Life on Earth by Frank Cottrell Boyce, June 20, 2017. 336 pages. Published by Walden Pond Press. Source: publisher.
Award-winning author Frank Cottrell Boyce returns with another one-of-a-kind story of heart, humor, and finding one’s place in the universe.
Prez knows that the best way to keep track of things is to make a list. That's important when you have a grandfather who is constantly forgetting. And it's even more important when your grandfather can't care for you anymore and you have to go live with a foster family out in the country.

Prez is still learning to fit in at his new home when he answers the door to meet Sputnik—a kid who is more than a little strange. First, he can hear what Prez is thinking. Second, he looks like a dog to everyone except Prez. Third, he can manipulate the laws of space and time. Sputnik, it turns out is an alien, and he's got a mission that requires Prez's help: the Earth has been marked for destruction, and the only way they can stop it is to come up with ten reasons why the planet should be saved.
First Sentence
Before you start anything, make a list.

I cannot even begin to tell you how much I enjoyed Sputnik's Guide to Life on Earth. It was such a great read and even though it had its sad points, it brought a smile to my face.

  • Where does one even start when it comes to talking about what made this such a wonderful read. Well, I guess that would be the beginning. Like the story of why Prez is no longer able to live with his grandfather as well as the arrival of one Sputnik. There's just so much to talk about with this one!!
  • One of the things I really enjoyed was how the story unfolded. Most especially the way it took Prez coming to terms with the decline of his grandfather's memory. I cannot even find the words to describe why it was such a needed and well written, aspect of the book. The author did a great job of illustrating that ties that bind the family together; and the things one would do to keep them safe. MY HEART!! Just read it!! Because there are no suitable words to sum up my thoughts on this part of the book are just not happening. 
  • One can not talk about Sputnik's Guide to Life on Earth without mentioning Sputnik himself. At first, he annoyed me as trouble always ensued when he was around. Yet, the more mayhem he caused, because let's be honest he turned a toy light saber into one that functioned and gave it to a small child, and the crazier things got, the more he intrigued me. I enjoyed the fact that he pushed Prez out of his comfort zone. 
  • Writing-wise: I don't say this lightly, but I really enjoyed Frank Cottrell Boyce's writing. From the setting and the circumstances surrounding both Sputnik and Prez, this book had so many things going for it. Yet as much as I loved the premise, it was the way Mr. Boyce brought the story to life that really made it worth reading. I also loved the connections between Sputnik's knowledge of earth and Prez's family. While you'll have to read the book to find out how everything connects together,  
Final Verdict: Sputnik's Guide to Life on Earth- Unfortunately, there is no instruction manual for dealing with an alien trying to save the earth... Luckily for you, you can read about one who causes all sorts of mayhem in the process and the boy, Prez, who is trying to help him save our planet and find his grandfather in the process. From family to saving the earth, this book was a blast to read.

Sputnik's Guide to Life on Earth earns

An advanced copy of this book was received in consideration for review from the publisher. All thoughts are my own.

Tuesday, June 6, 2017

Teaser Tuesday: The Hate U Give

Teaser Tuesdays is hosted by MizB of Books And A Beat. To participate, simply do the following: Grab your current read Open to a random page Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page
BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn't give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!)
Share the title & author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers!

Monday, June 5, 2017

YA Review: The Hate U Give

The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas, February 28, 2017. 464 pages. Published by Balzer + Bray. Source: Borrowed from Library.
Sixteen-year-old Starr Carter moves between two worlds: the poor neighborhood where she lives and the fancy suburban prep school she attends. The uneasy balance between these worlds is shattered when Starr witnesses the fatal shooting of her childhood best friend Khalil at the hands of a police officer. Khalil was unarmed.

Soon afterward, his death is a national headline. Some are calling him a thug, maybe even a drug dealer and a gangbanger. Protesters are taking to the streets in Khalil's name. Some cops and the local drug lord try to intimidate Starr and her family. What everyone wants to know is: what really went down that night? And the only person alive who can answer that is Starr.

But what Starr does or does not say could upend her community. It could also endanger her life.
First Sentence
I shouldn't have come to this party.


Originally, I had no intention of reading The Hate U Give simply because it was overly hyped (that and one of the author blurbs); and I have not really enjoyed any of the big releases in young adult books from the last couple years (especially contemporary ones). It was nothing personal against the book nor the author, just me tired of being burned by "popular" books, you know.

  • Even though I read The Hate U Give in just a matter of hours, as Angie Thomas' writing really pulled me into Starr's world, there were a few things that nearly made me walkaway from it that were present throughout the whole book. I really was not a fan of the language in this book. They f-word, as well as taking the Lord's name in vain, was used so many times that I felt like I was back in Boston, and that was not pleasant. I'm not a fan of swearing; not in real life and I don't like reading it either. So, if I had not been as curious to see how things played out, well, I would have stopped reading because of the language. 
  • I'm still not entirely sure how I feel about this book. On the one hand, Angie Thomas' writing was highly readable; let's just say that I sat on the stairs, which are not comfortable, as her writing had thoroughly absorbed me. Like I said, the writing was really good and the story was fairly riveting...I just do not know if on a whole I liked it or what.
  • If I had to choose just one thing that I really enjoyed about Angie Thomas' book, it would have to be Starr's family. I especially enjoyed reading about her mom and dad as you could see how much they cared for their children and wanted so much more for them. Even though there were times when I did not agree with them, like Maverick's refusal to leave, I still found them to be one of the strongest parental, in a positive way, presences that I have read about in ages. 
Final Verdict: The Hate U Give- While not really my kind of book, it was definitely thought provoking. 

The Hate U Give earns

A copy of this book was borrowed from the library. All thoughts are my own.


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