Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Waiting on Wednesday: Silver Shadows by Richelle Mead

Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly meme hosted by Breaking The Spine, which spotlights upcoming releases we are eagerly anticipating.  

Silver Shadows by Richelle Mead (Bloodlines #5)
Release Date: July 29, 2014

Silver Shadows (Bloodlines, #5)

I just started reading the Vampire Academy series at the end of January.  I've finished the first two books and I already picked up the third book in the series.  At my current pace, I should finish the VA series and be able to move onto the Bloodlines series prior to the release of this book.  If this series is half as good as Vampire Academy, I don't know if I will be able to space out the books far enough to allow me to keep reading until the release of the sixth book in the series.

Goodreads Overview:

Sydney Sage is an Alchemist, one of a group of humans who dabble in magic and serve to bridge the worlds of humans and vampires. They protect vampire secrets—and human lives.

In The Fiery Heart, Sydney risked everything to follow her gut, walking a dangerous line to keep her feelings hidden from the Alchemists.

Now in the aftermath of an event that ripped their world apart, Sydney and Adrian struggle to pick up the pieces and find their way back to each other. But first, they have to survive. 

For Sydney, trapped and surrounded by adversaries, life becomes a daily struggle to hold on to her identity and the memories of those she loves. Meanwhile, Adrian clings to hope in the face of those who tell him Sydney is a lost cause, but the battle proves daunting as old demons and new temptations begin to seize hold of him. . . .

Their worst fears now a chilling reality, Sydney and Adrian face their darkest hour in this heart-pounding fifth installment in the New York Times bestselling Bloodlines series, where all bets are off.

Sunday, March 23, 2014

Review: Mrs. Poe by Lynn Cullen

Lynn Cullen is coming to Ohio State to speak this May, so a co-worker suggested that I read Mrs. Poe.  It is well outside my normal comfort zone, but I decided to tackle this piece of historical fiction.

I really didn't know much about the life of Edgar Allan Poe, besides The Raven and a few of his other works I may have read in high school, prior to reading Mrs. Poe.  His father left when he was around two and his mother died about a year later.  He went to live with a wealthy family, who sent him to various boarding schools and provided little to no financial or emotional support as he was growing up.  As a result, he was poor and lacked confidence.  He ended up marrying his 13 year old first cousin when he was 23 years old.  The book implied that she was actually the more mature of the two at the time.

As his popularity and success increased, his finances didn't appear to improve substantially.  He did, however, connect with another poet much closer to his age.  It is believed that a relationship between the two developed.

This story is told from the perspective of Mrs. Osgood, the "other woman" in Mr. Poe's life.  They had many of the same friends and attended the same literary functions, which brought them into contact with one another rather frequently.  Mrs. Poe even took an interest in Mrs. Osgood's writing and they developed a very awkward relationship.

Lynn does a remarkable job of incorporating 1800's terminology and culture into this page turning romance.  After only a few chapters, I couldn't put this book down.  I would let myself read 1 more chapter...then another...until it was well past my bed time a few consecutive nights in a row.  The story paints a brighter picture of Poe's life than I believe was actually the case, but that is the benefit of fiction.  Overall, it was a very entertaining story that I would recommend to any fan of historical fiction.

After reading Mrs. Poe, I am eager to hear Lynn Cullen speak.  I will be sure to post an update with any comments she has on the book, her inspiration, etc.

Friday, March 14, 2014

Review: Frostbite by Richelle Mead

Frostbite is the second book in the Vampire Academy series and was even more entertaining than the first.  Rose is six months away from graduation and has almost caught up with her classmates.  She is about to take her junior year assessment when it is discovered that there was a major Stigoi attack.  Several Moroi Royals and their Dampir guardians are  dead.  It is believed that the Stigoi are now working with humans, which makes them even more deadly.  Daylight and Moroi magic can no longer guarantee safety.

The relationship between Rose and Dimitri is still very awkward and not at all where Rose would like for it to be.  Christian and Lissa are a lot closer, but another royal named Adrian starts to put a strain on their relationship.  There is something going on between Adrian, Lissa, and Rose, which causes Christian to become jealous...even though he has no reason to be.  I guess I am a sucker for the arrogant guys because I actually liked Adrian.  He reminded me a lot of Noah Shaw from the Mara Dyer series, which is always a good thing.  He has some very unique abilities and was more than willing to help Rose and Lissa when they needed it most.

Rose, Christian, and a few other students from the Academy find themselves in a very dangerous situation, which created an action packed conclusion to this book.  I can't imagine the frustration I would have felt if I had to wait a year to find out what happens next.

Sunday, March 9, 2014

Review: Maddie's Tattoo by Katie Kacvinsky

Maddie's Tattoo is a 28 page short story that takes place prior to the first book in the Awaken series.  It has been a little over a year since I finished reading Middle Ground, so it was nice to get a refresher before the release of Still Point this September.

The book gives us a taste of how Maddie began interacting with others who are not DS supporters.  She wants to experience the world and see things with her own eyes.  She doesn't want to only have access to content the administrators of DS feel is appropriate and safe for her to experience.

I honestly do not recall Maddie's tattoo being mentioned in either Awaken or Middle Ground.  If it was, it wasn't a significant part of the series and it did not leave a lasting impression.  The story behind how she decided upon the image she used and where she acquired it is revealed.  Based upon some of the comments Katie has made, I believe this knowledge will greatly enhance one's ability to understand and appreciate some of the content in Still Point.  I have a very good idea how this will eventually play out, but I am not going to give any spoilers.

Overall, I felt like it was a nice addition to the series.  It provides some additional background information, but it wasn't as gripping as the other books in the series.

Friday, March 7, 2014

Review: The Fault In Our Stars by John Green

The Fault In Our Stars has been on my TBR list since February 2012, which is the month after it was released.  I've heard amazing things about John Green, but I just couldn't bring myself to read it.  I'm sure just about everyone has been touched by cancer at some point in their lives and I am no exception.  The topic is never easy to deal with and I handle it, and death in general, as poorly as anyone.

After two years of waiting, I finally decided it was time.  I started reading and found it to be absolutely hilarious.  Isaac, Augustus, and Hazel are all part of a support group for teens dealing with cancer.  Rather than focus on the negative, they are surprisingly optimistic and brutally honest...all while keeping a firm grip on reality.  Isaac has a form of eye cancer.  At one point he reiterates to Augustus and Hazel a conversation he had with his physician, which was one of the funniest things I have read in a long time.  Granted...I work with several ophthalmologists (eye surgeons), so I could more than relate to his thoughts on what his surgeon had to say.

The story details the struggles each character is going through, but it focuses more on their day to day lives and less on their diseases.  As one of the many "cancer perks" Augustus and Hazel get to take a trip to the Netherlands to meet one of their favorite authors.  What book nerd wouldn't love the opportunity to travel  abroad to discuss their favorite book with the author?

The last seventy pages took a surprising turn.  I knew going into this that tissues would be required.  I anticipated a certain ending from the beginning, but I was dead wrong.  I think the surprise factor along with my aforementioned inability to deal with certain topics sent me into a tailspin.

I absolutely loved this book.  It is beautifully written, but please do not think you will get through this with less than half a box of tissues.  (That is a VERY conservative estimate.)  I have already recommended it to a couple of the physicians I work with, but not without a disclaimer.  I will not be held responsible for any emotional distress they experience.  

While Augustus may say he is on "a roller coaster that is only going up"...this book will take you from high to low with several twists and turns in between.

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Waiting on Wednesday: Side Effects May Vary by Julie Murphy

Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly meme hosted by Breaking The Spine, which spotlights upcoming releases we are eagerly anticipating.  

Side Effects May Vary by Julie Murphy:
Release Date: March 18, 2014

I've seen this on numerous WoW posts over the past several months and added it to my TBR list a while ago.  Now that it is closer to the release date, I am getting excited about it.  

The topic of cancer is usually something I shy away from.  It is the one and only reason I put off reading The Fault In Our Stars for almost two years.  Now that I have crossed that bridge, I definitely think I can handle this one.  I can only imagine what sort of messes someone could create if they thought there would be no long term consequences to their actions.   

Side Effects May VaryGoodreads Overview: 

What if you’d been living your life as if you were dying—only to find out that you had your whole future ahead of you? 

When sixteen-year-old Alice is diagnosed with leukemia, her prognosis is grim. To maximize the time she does have, she vows to spend her final months righting wrongs—however she sees fit. She convinces her friend Harvey, whom she knows has always had feelings for her, to help her with a crazy bucket list that’s as much about revenge (humiliating her ex-boyfriend and getting back at her arch nemesis) as it is about hope (doing something unexpectedly kind for a stranger and reliving some childhood memories). But just when Alice’s scores are settled, she goes into remission.

Now Alice is forced to face the consequences of all that she’s said and done, as well as her true feelings for Harvey. But has she done irreparable damage to the people around her, and to the one person who matters most? 

Julie Murphy’s SIDE EFFECTS MAY VARY is a fearless and moving tour de force about love, life, and facing your own mortality.