Friday, May 29, 2015

The Boy on the Porch

by Sharon Creech

Summary from GoodReads

From Newbery Medal winner Sharon Creech comes a singular story that reminds us of the surprising connections that bloom when unconditional love and generosity prevail. For when a young couple finds a boy asleep on their porch, their lives take an unexpectedly joyous turn.

When John and Marta found the boy on the porch, they were curious, naturally, as to why he was there-and they didn't expect him to stay, not at first, but he did stay, day after day, until it seemed as if he belonged, running and smiling and laughing his silent laugh, tapping and patting on every surface as he made his music, and painting-with water, with paint, with mud-those swirly swirls and swings and trees.

One day a young couple wakes to find a boy asleep on their porch. Unable to speak, the boy cannot explain his history. What kind of person would leave their child with strangers? All they know is that they have been chosen to care for this boy. And as their connection to him grows, they embrace his exuberant spirit and talents. The three of them blossom into an unlikely family, and John and Marta and the boy begin to see the world in brand-new ways. Newbery Medal winner Sharon Creech delivers a poignant story of finding family when you least expect it.

Thoughts on the Book

I absolutely love Sharon Creech.  I grew up with Walk Two Moons, it's one of my favorite books I quote it all the time - still!  The Wanderer is another one of my favorites, I memorized the entire NATO alphabet because the main character in it had to.  I can go on and on about her books, Chasing Redbird (when I learned what the whooping cough was), Bloomability, Absolutely Normal Chaos...  Sharon Creech is one of my all-time favorite authors, and definitely my favorite children's author.  I got this book at BEA last year, so I thought it was appropriate to post it from BEA this year! 

My Review

I was disappointed in this book.  I don't know if it's because I'm older or if I've put Creech so high up on a pedestal in the years since I last read her, but it just didn't sit right with me.  I thought it would turn out to be something mystical like The Odd Life of Timothy Green, but it was just parents abandoning their son with complete strangers.  The couple that took him in, John and Marta, seemed nice, but were not very smart, their conversations to each other didn't flow and weren't even remotely like anything people would actually say to each other.  I also kept getting stuck on what these people did.  They owned a house, I'm pretty sure they were a younger couple, they had a barn with some animals, and yet John had to keep trading items at the general store for jelly beans and other items for the boy.  Despite that they happened to have enough gas to drive all over the place for clothes (which they somehow paid for) or to try to figure out where the boy came from.  Neither of them seemed to work, or have any source of income, until the very end.  

The characters all seemed so flat, Marta was a dull woman who only seemed to be able to marvel at what Jacob (the boy) was doing.  John was a slight misogynist who both didn't like and liked the boy, he was very wishy-washy with it, especially at the beginning of the book.  The boy was the strangest character, he didn't speak, only tapped, and seemed to have a natural affinity for the arts.  Nothing about him made sense and there was no attempt to explain anything about him.  The Sheriff was the worst character in the entire book, he was out to arrest everyone, he thought he was the smartest man alive, his word was law, yet in reality he was a blundering opinionated idiot and no one did anything about it.

Another frustrating part of this story is the setting.  Where is this backwater place?  The midwest? The south?  It definitely can't be either of the coasts.  What time period is this supposed to be?  Contemporary?  If so then where the heck are they?  Some long-forgotten hick town?  The character's behavior would be more acceptable if the story took place in the early 20th century somewhere in the middle of the country.  

I think the point of this story was a feel-good book for foster kids or adopted kids.  Specifically for those kids with a very low reading level.  But who knows?  I'm going to attempt to disassociate this book from Creech, so as not to tarnish how awesome of a writer she was with her other books.  I have to give this book a 4/10.

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Waiting on Wednesday

Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly meme hosted by Breaking the Spine that allows bloggers to share which books we are most anticipating.

This week I am waiting on Zeroes by Scott Westerfeld (September 29, 2015)

Summary from GoodReads

Ethan, aka "Scam," has a way with words. When he opens his mouth, whatever he wants you to hear comes out. But Ethan isn't just a smooth talker. He has a unique ability to say things he doesn't consciously even know. Sometimes the voice helps, but sometimes it hurts - like now, when the voice has lied and has landed Ethan in a massive mess. So now Ethan needs help. And he needs to go to the last people who would ever want to help him - his former group of friends, the self-named "zeros" who also all possess similarly double-edged abilities, and who are all angry at Ethan for their own respective reasons. Brought back together by Scam's latest mischief, they find themselves entangled in an epic, whirlwind adventure packed with as much interpersonal drama as mind-bending action.

Why I'm Waiting

Scott Westerfeld is amazing, I've loved every YA book he's written.  His adult fiction gets a little weird, but is still really enjoyable.  So a new Westerfeld book?  Sign me up!  I'm going to be at BEA tomorrow and Friday (hope to see some of you there!) and I'm hoping that I won't have to wait until September for this one!

Thursday, May 21, 2015

The Wild Road

by Gabriel King

Summary from GoodReads

Once in every age, there comes a special cat. His mission is not to rule, but to guide the rulers to their destiny, to uphold the balance of the natural world, and to discover the leonine heart and spirit that is the legacy of all cats everywhere. Now, in the grand storytelling style of "Watership Down" and "Tailchaser's Song," comes an epic tale of adventure and danger, of heroism against insurmountable odds, and of love and comradeship among extraordinary animals who must brave The Wild Road.

Secure in a world of privilege and comfort, the kitten Tag is happy as a pampered house pet--until the dreams come. Dreams that pour into his safe, snug world from the wise old cat Majicou: hazy images of travel along the magical highways of the animals, of a mission, and of a terrible responsibility that will fall on young Tag. Armed with the cryptic message that he must bring the King and Queen of cats to Tintagel before the spring equinox, Tag ventures outside. 

But had ancient Majicou somehow misjudged? Tag barely knows his own backyard and is scarcely equipped for a quest out into the wide world! But ready or not, Tag is catapulted into the unknown to face danger and win allies in the wily urban fox Loves a Dustbin, and the far-seeing magpie One for Sorrow. Along the way, others will join their quest: Cy, the strange little tabby; Sealink, the globe-trotting cat with an eye for a handsome tom; and Mousebreath, wise in the ways of the world. Together, this band of frightened yet courageous animals will brave the wild road to seek the King and Queen. 

But finding the royal pair is only half the challenge, as an evil human known only as the Alchemist doggedly pursues the Queen for his own ghastly ends. For the Queen, a descendant of the legendary line of Golden Cats, holds the key to an ancient prophecy that foretells enormous power for those who control this rare and extraordinary breed. 

And if the Alchemist achieves his goal, the world can never be safe again.
A stunning literary achievement, "The Wild Road" is a sweeping feat of the imagination, an amazing mystical highway to an unseen place known only to cats and their chosen, trusted companions.

Thoughts on the Book

I’m dedicating this post to my cat, Cypher Isis (June 6, 2002 – May 20, 2015).  I got Cy when I was a sophomore in high school and she was the best, fluffiest, nicest, most beautiful cat you could ever meet.  She would have turned 13 in two weeks, but sadly didn’t have it in her to continue fighting against whatever was making her sick (the vet could not definitively diagnose her).

When I met Cy at 4 weeks old (I had to wait another couple weeks so she’d be weaned properly to bring her home) I named her after one of my favorite characters from this book – Cy, Cy for Cypher!  I was seriously debating between Cy and Sealink, since she was a dead-ringer for Sealink, especially as she got older - a sassy calico Maine Coon.  Sadly my parents vetoed Sealink and allowed for Cypher (we had many arguments over the spelling - I won).  Fortunately there was no argument over the middle name, one of my favorite characters from The Golden Cat, The Wild Road’s sequel.

My Review

This book is about a cat, Tag, who gets lured outside by a magpie and where he gets lost and needs to learn to survive on his own.  He eventually learns that he's part of something far bigger than just himself, and he's mentored by a mysterious cat, Majicou.  He picks up some odd friends along the way, a fox, a magpie, as well as lots of other fellow cats.  It's a coming of age story for Tag, he's forced to grow up quickly in order to fulfill his destiny, save the king and queen and therefore the world.

I love this book.  The characters are all fantastic, how could you not love the cats?  Tag, Sealink, Cy, Ragnar Gustaffson Coeur de Lion (or to his chagrin Rags for short), Pertelot Fitzwilliam, Mousebreath, Stilton, Majicou.  All were amazingly developed, and somehow remained extremely catlike.  Tag’s your typical cat, young, not too crazy, learning things as he went, Sealink was the more sedate older cat who loved good food and people, Cy your typical crazy cat off chasing shadows or, really, anything that catches her interest, Ragnar and Pertelot are your aloof show cats, and Mousebreath your typical mouser.  Even the non-cat characters were awesome, Loves a Dustbin just might be my favorite in the entire series, and One for Sorrow was pretty awesome too.  And the Alchemist, he was such an awesome villain.  When reading you really truly hate him, and the more you find out about him the more awful he is.

The fantasy elements in the book are also really cool, and could very well exist in our world – we’d never know!  The Wild Road itself is something that only animals can see; it’s something house cats stare at through the windows.  It’s the reason why dogs bark at nothing.  It’s why you see an animal running by out of the corner of your eye, but when you look nothing is there.

The story itself is wonderful and engrossing with all sorts of twists and turns and unexpected phenomena. 

I give this book an 11/10, it’s so fantastically, awesomely, wonderfully, magnificent.  It’s one of those stories that stays with you for a very, very long time.  I highly recommend it to anyone who loves epic stories and/or cats.

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Waiting on Wednesday

Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly meme hosted by Breaking the Spine that bloggers to share which books we are most anticipating.

This week I am waiting on Soundless by Richelle Mead (November 10, 2015)

Summary From Good Reads

For as long as Fei can remember, there has been no sound in her village, where rocky terrain and frequent avalanches prevent residents from self-sustaining. Fei and her people are at the mercy of a zipline that carries food up the treacherous cliffs from Beiguo, a mysterious faraway kingdom.

When villagers begin to lose their sight, deliveries from the zipline shrink and many go hungry. Fei’s home, the people she loves, and her entire existence is plunged into crisis, under threat of darkness and starvation.

But soon Fei is awoken in the night by a searing noise, and sound becomes her weapon.

Richelle Mead takes readers on a triumphant journey from the peak of Fei’s jagged mountain village to the valley of Beiugo, where a startling truth and an unlikely romance will change her life forever...

Why I’m Waiting

Two words: Richelle Mead.  Enough said, that’s why I’m waiting, she’s amazing, anything she writes is amazing.  I’ve seriously loved every single book/series written by her, both YA and adult.  I honestly don’t think she can write anything bad, or have the main guy (or to be fair, any guy in her series) be completely swoon-worthy.  If Fei’s love interest is even half of what Dimitri, Adrian, Christian, Eddie, Seth, or Justin were then I’m going to fall for him too.  Besides, I’m overdue for a new Mead fix, The Ruby Circle came out in February, that’s ages ago!

Friday, May 15, 2015


by Alyxandra Harvey

Summary From GoodReads

Bad girls burn hot…

Red is the color of Kia Alcott's hair.
It's her temper, which blazes hot and always gets Kia into way too much trouble.
And it's the color of fire. Fires that Kia can start…just by thinking about them.

When her latest “episode” gets her kicked out of school, Kia is shipped off to her grandmother, who works for the wealthy Blackwoods. It's an estate shrouded in secrets, surrounded by rules, and presided over by a family that is far from normal…including the gorgeous and insolent Ethan Blackwood.

Ethan knows far more about the dangers of the forest surrounding the estate than Kia can ever imagine. For this forest has teeth, and Ethan is charged with protecting the outside world from its vicious mysteries.

But inside, even the most vibrant shade of red doesn't stand a chance against the dark secrets of the Blackwood family…

Thoughts on the book

Reading the summary of this book made it seem awesome.  A girl that can manipulate fire with her thoughts, a boy who guards his family’s secrets and protects the world from them – how could this book go wrong?  I had never heard of the author before, and I love trying out new stories and writing styles.


The story starts with a prologue about a girl, Kia who, after starting a fire at her school, gets sent to live with her grandmother she barely knows in a billionaire’s mansion.  She immediately finds out that the billionaire has a son her age, and shortly after she finds a “museum” of mystical things where she meets the son, Ethan.  Chapter one then goes on shortly after the prologue ends, making the prologue seem more like Chapter One and Chapter One seem like Chapter Two.  Almost the whole book is from Kia’s P.O.V. except for the random chapters that are in Ethan’s.  It’s weird to read that way.  I like splitting P.O.V.s when it’s done in a more regular fashion, like every other chapter, this is too random.  There are places where an Ethan chapter would have enhanced the story a lot, but Harvey sticks with Kia.

I didn't like Kia at all, she had no likable qualities.  She fancied herself a Goth, but didn’t even come close, her only backing for it was a bad attitude and red streaks in her hair, both of which are more punk then Goth.  She wasn't even punk she’s more of a wanna-be punk.  Her bad attitude didn't even feel genuine; it seemed more like she forced herself to act that way and to think that way so she could fit into the persona she wanted.  The relationships between the characters didn't seem to happen organically.  Sloane, one of Ethan’s friends, talked to Kia once, and voila! Sloane was now Kia’s best friend.  Kia’s former best friend inexplicably stopped talking to her (the logic used was that she was caught in the fire Kia had started accidentally and though Kia tried to burn her to death), and Kia was pestering her with texts and calls trying to get her to respond, then once Sloane became the new best friend she no longer cared about her old friend.  I guess Kia’s version of Goths couldn't have more than one friend at a time?  Ethan was the only character I actually liked.  He was the only one with any depth to his character, and his depth was more of the first step into the swimming pool rather than the concrete around the pool which was the depth of all of the other characters. 

Everything in the story was so predictable, and what wasn't predictable was so random that it didn't even fit into the narrative.  There also were no really engaging elements to the story either.  If there had been more Ethan chapters where the reader could get to know him better, there may have been at least a character to get behind and root for.  Even the conclusion left an empty feeling.  I think it was supposed to be a happy ending, but with the events right before that point it just felt stupid and a cop-out. 

Despite the lackluster writing and the bland characters the world was very cool (although, this could be because Harvey didn't elaborate on, and therefore ruin, it.)  The world had so much potential for a myriad of other stories.  I think Harvey got overwhelmed with the possibilities of it and tried to throw in as much of the mystical elements of the world as she possible could.  She should have just stuck with a few creatures to work with, and only hint at more oddities then just throw in names of others and have random side-events pulling in as many as possible. 

Overall I’ll give this book a 4/10.  It wasn't so horrible that I stopped reading, and the world was very cool.  All the elements for a great story were there, it was just the execution of it which was lacking.

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Waiting on Wednesday

Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly meme hosted by Breaking the Spine that allows bloggers to share which books we are most anticipating.

This week I am waiting on Emmy and Oliver by Robin Benway (June 23, 2015)

Summary From Good Reads

Emmy’s best friend, Oliver, reappears after being kidnapped by his father ten years ago. Emmy hopes to pick up their relationship right where it left off. Are they destined to be together? Or has fate irreparably driven them apart?

Emmy just wants to be in charge of her own life.

She wants to stay out late, surf her favorite beach—go anywhere without her parents’ relentless worrying. But Emmy’s parents can’t seem to let her grow up—not since the day Oliver disappeared.

Oliver needs a moment to figure out his heart.

He’d thought, all these years, that his dad was the good guy. He never knew that it was his father who kidnapped him and kept him on the run. Discovering it, and finding himself returned to his old hometown, all at once, has his heart racing and his thoughts swirling.

Emmy and Oliver were going to be best friends forever, or maybe even more, before their futures were ripped apart. In Emmy’s soul, despite the space and time between them, their connection has never been severed. But is their story still written in the stars? Or are their hearts like the pieces of two different puzzles—impossible to fit together?

Readers who love Sarah Dessen will tear through these pages with hearts in throats as Emmy and Oliver struggle to face the messy, confusing consequences of Oliver’s father’s crime. Full of romance, coming-of-age emotion, and heartache, these two equally compelling characters create an unforgettable story.

Why I'm Waiting

I'm waiting on this one becuase of the title, I'm not going to lie.  I love it, Emmy is the name I had always wanted to be called, but I guess Emma is short enough so I never really got a nickname.  And my boyfriend's name is Oliver, so a book called Emmy and Oliver - how could it be bad?  Oh, and the plot sounds good too :)

Sunday, May 10, 2015

Short Story Sunday

Wart By Jayge Carr


This story is about a cat, Wart, who lives on a spaceship and hunts pests.  He's the runt of the litter and half blind, but he's an excellent hunter, despite "Human-mommy" and "Human-tom"'s loud talking that disturbs his dust-bunnies.

This story is very cute and Wart is so silly, Carr perfectly captured cats, hunting a swishing cat's tail to feigned innocence, batting prey to make sure it's dead before trying to eat it and then burying it exactly where they shouldn't before returning proudly to the humans.

I loved this story and highly recommend it to all cat lovers, and Sci-Fi lovers.  I give this a 10/10.

Friday, May 8, 2015

The Perilous Sea

by Sherry Thomas

Summary from GoodReads

After spending the summer away from each other, Titus and Iolanthe (still disguised as Archer Fairfax) are eager to return to Eton College to resume their training to fight the Bane. Although no longer bound to Titus by a blood oath, Iolanthe is more committed than ever to fulfilling her destiny—especially with the agents of Atlantis quickly closing in.

Soon after arriving at school, though, Titus makes a shocking discovery, one that makes him question everything he previously believed about their mission. Faced with this devastating realization, Iolanthe is forced to come to terms with her new role, while Titus must choose between following his mother's prophecies—and forging a divergent path to an unknowable future.

Thoughts on the Book

After reading The Burning Sky I couldn’t wait to crack open the sequel, and I wasn’t disappointed.  The only issue I had reading this book was that this thing called ‘work’ got in the way of a day long reading spree.


The Perilous Sea picks up at an unknown amount of time after the Burning Sky ends (my best guess is 3-4 months) with a girl in the middle of a sandstorm in a desert.  We discover that it is in fact Fairfax, but she no longer remembers anything and is alone.  Chapter 2 jumps back to Titus seven weeks prior; then chapter 3 is back in the desert.  The entire book jumps back and forth between the present and the past which brought Fairfax to that desert.

This book is action packed; the desert chapters are fraught with peril and unknowns, while the Eton chapters are full of drama and surprising revelations.  Typically book 2 in a trilogy is all about fact gathering and plotting the actions for the epic conclusion in book 3.  No major events happen until the very end when the characters are left in a dire situation – a perfect cliff hanger for book 3 to happen.

The Perilous Sea, however, does not have any lulls in action.  Everything that Iolanthe and Titus find out about the Bane is discovered by quick thinking during quick breaks between the action.  Every plan formed in The Burning Sky is shattered by new information and Titus’s whole belief system needs re-evaluating with some new information.

Fairfax and Titus’s classmates play a larger role in this book as Fairfax spends more time with them.  I absolutely love Cooper and Kashkari!   I can’t wait for the final installment where I can spend more time with these wonderful characters!  I give this book a 10/10

Tuesday, May 5, 2015

Waiting on Wednesday

Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly meme hosted by Breaking the Spine that allows bloggers to share which books we are most anticipating.

This week I am waiting on From a Distant Star by Karen McQuestion (May 19, 2015)

Summary From Good Reads

Seventeen-year-old Emma was the only one who hadn’t given up on her boyfriend, Lucas. Everyone else—his family, his friends, his doctors—was convinced that any moment could be his last. So when Lucas miraculously returns from the brink of death, Emma thinks her prayers have been answered.

As the surprised town rejoices, Emma begins to question whether Lucas is the same boy she’s always known. When she finds an unidentifiable object on his family’s farm—and government agents come to claim it—she begins to suspect that nothing is what it seems. Emma’s out-of-this-world discovery may be the key to setting things right, but only if she and Lucas can evade the agents who are after what they have. With all her hopes and dreams on the line, Emma sets out to save the boy she loves. And with a little help from a distant star, she might just have a chance at making those dreams come true.

Why I’m Waiting

This story sounds like it could be awesome.  It will be a little weird reading a story where the protagonist has my name (I still can't get used to it in Once Upon a Time, and I've been watching it since it premiered...) but nevertheless I'm excited to read this one.  I'm dying to know what the twist is, how did Lucas get better?  I can't get a handle on where this story will lead, is it going to be sci-fi?  Some alien assistance?  Or will it be fantastical in nature?  A little bit of wishing magic to cure him and give them their happy ending?  Or will it be regular old modern day science that heals him?  And secret government tech that they stumble on?  Fortunately I don't have to wait long to find out!  

Sunday, May 3, 2015

Short Story Sunday

Paper Menagerie 

by Ken Liu

Summary From GoodReads

A gentle fantasy. Love, paper tigers, mail order bride, culture clash.

This story starts with a young boy of a mixed race family, an American father and a Chinese mother, who didn’t speak English.  The mother made several origami animals for her son, the first of which was a tiger.  When she breathed into them to inflate the animals to their proper size she blew life into them.  The story follows the little boy as he grows into an adult and it focuses on the relationship between him and his mother.

This is one of my favorite stories.  Ken Liu is an amazing author and knows exactly how to pull on your heartstrings.  I love how real the boy is, how he succumbs to peer pressure and tries his hardest to be “normal” before finally coming into himself.  I also love how Liu doesn’t artificially try to make things better for the main character; the people he surrounds himself with are not overly encouraging, there is no token best friend that makes everything okay.  It’s about solely about a boy who is at one with himself until he starts to be aware of how he is viewed by those around him and how he comes to term with his past and who he is.  It’s so realistic, substitute the magical origami animals and Quingming for anything that is culturally specific, and voila this story has played out among countless children growing up in a culture vastly different from their parents.

I first listened to this story on PodCastle, Rajan Khanna does an excellent job narrating.  I highly recommend a listen!