Review: These Broken Stars by Amie Kauffman & Meagan Spooner

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Author: Amie Kauffman |
Website | Twitter | Meagan Spooner |
Website | Twitter
Publication Date: December 10th, 2013 |
Publisher: Disney Hyperion |
My Interest: Sci-Fi month, Hype |
Source: Literary Lushes, Library|
Age Group | Genre: YA| Sci-Fi | Romance
Series: Yes | Starbound series
Pages: 374 |

Sci-Fi month is growing on me. I actually read this book back at the very beginning of the year in anticipation for this month, and I had heard a lot of hype for this story. I was a huge Titanic fan as a kid, so for a story marketed as Titanic in space, I totally had to see what was up.

I was first loaned an ARC from Literary Lushes, and then checked out a copy from my local library. I was not compensated in any way for my words (cross my heart) nor did I promise a good rating. All thoughts and opinions expressed in this review are 100% mine.

The Story

“It’s a night like any other on board the Icarus. Then, catastrophe strikes: the massive luxury spaceliner is yanked out of hyperspace and plummets into the nearest planet. Lilac LaRoux and Tarver Merendsen survive. And they seem to be alone.

Lilac is the daughter of the richest man in the universe. Tarver comes from nothing, a young war hero who learned long ago that girls like Lilac are more trouble than they’re worth. But with only each other to rely on, Lilac and Tarver must work together, making a tortuous journey across the eerie, deserted terrain to seek help.

Then, against all odds, Lilac and Tarver find a strange blessing in the tragedy that has thrown them into each other’s arms. Without the hope of a future together in their own world, they begin to wonder—would they be better off staying here forever?

Everything changes when they uncover the truth behind the chilling whispers that haunt their every step. Lilac and Tarver may find a way off this planet. But they won’t be the same people who landed on it. 

-via Goodreads

My Thoughts

Well Sci-Fi. We have an interesting relationship. I love you at times (ahem Doctor Who) and then other times I find it hard to be interested in you.

This was kind of one of those times. I blame part of that reason on the fact that I first received an ARC of this book while I was visiting my best friend whom I hadn’t seen in three years. Needless to say, my mind was NOT on any sort of reading.
But in fairness to the game, I sent off the ARC to the next lucky reader just in time, and immediately queued up the read at my library. I wasn’t about to let this story go unfinished, and I’m really glad I didn’t.

I was intrigued by the story. A whole bunch of people in the future on this gigantic “unsinkable” space liner, and then suddenly it becomes sinkable. I remember thinking this story is the epitome of sci-fi: outer space, weird planets, whispers. I found myself turning the pages one right after another simply because I had to know where the plot was going. It seemed like These Broken Stars was holding secrets for me–I ended up anticipating something really big for the ending, and then it just wasn’t quite what I wanted. BUT, this is the first in a series so who knows what the next book holds.

To be honest, I also had a hard time getting into Lilac and Tarver’s story. I just couldn’t connect to either one of them as a character–but I did enjoy the love connection between them. It reminded me of Darcy and Elizabeth, and I’m all for some P&P romantic tension. I found myself hoping for them to fall in love more so than I hoped for them to get off the planet. I know–terrible.

Despite my troubles getting into this story, I thought it was wholly original and definitely a page turner both in conflict/plot and action-wise. As a reader, I simply struggled with connecting to this book most likely because I’m not a huge sci-fi nerd. Sci-Fi is a very new world for me (pun intended) so I’m trying to keep an open mind this month. Normally, I would have tossed this book into the What I’ve {Not} Been Reading Lately pile, but after making it to the end (AND boy—what a little twist there!) I’m anticipating the next book! I really want to connect to Lilac more, and even see what happens between her and Tarver. After all, I  do enjoy a swoon-worthy read, and this relationship was definitely Jack and Rose worthy.

Pick this read up if you like…

Stars, Sci-Fi, a little bit of mystery, The Titanic, Darcy/Elizabeth-like romantic tension, strange worlds, outer space

Then when you’re finished, try….

All Our Yesterdays by Cristin Terrill

  

Not a Drop to Drink by Mindy McGinnis

Book Talk: Have you read These Broken Stars yet? What did you think about it? Was it as exciting as you thought? Or were you a bit let down like me?

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Marvelous Middle Grade Monday: When You Reach Me by Rebecca Stead

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Author: Rebecca Stead | Website | TwitterRelease Date: July 4th, 2009
Publisher: Wendy Lamb Books   | Genre: Sci-Fi, Mystery, Magical Realism Pages 197 |

Wowsers you guys! WHY do I torture myself and wait so long to read books that I know I’m going to love from the very beginning? I do this too often: I find/read about/see a book that I think I will absolutely love, then I file it away to be read, only to read a slew of other books I enjoy but don’t absolutely LOVE. Then I get in a reading slump, finally pick up said book, and am renewed in my belief about the power of story!
By the way–that’s a true story about this book. I waited far to long to read it, but it has renewed my book spirit!

I borrowed a copy from my local library. I was not compensated in any way for my review (cross my heart) nor did I promise a good rating. All thoughts and opinions expressed in this review are 100% mine. Marvelous Middle Grade Monday is hosted every Monday at author Shannon Messenger’s blog

Summary

By sixth grade, Miranda and her best friend, Sal, know how to navigate their New York City neighborhood. They know where it’s safe to go, like the local grocery store, and they know whom to avoid, like the crazy guy on the corner.

But things start to unravel. Sal gets punched by a new kid for what seems like no reason, and he shuts Miranda out of his life. The apartment key that Miranda’s mom keeps hidden for emergencies is stolen. And then Miranda finds a mysterious note scrawled on a tiny slip of paper: 

I am coming to save your friend’s life, and my own.
I must ask two favors. First, you must write me a letter.

The notes keep coming, and Miranda slowly realizes that whoever is leaving them knows all about her, including things that have not even happened yet. Each message brings her closer to believing that only she can prevent a tragic death. Until the final note makes her think she’s too late.

-via Goodreads

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Judging Genres: A Definition of Sci-Fi

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Hey readers! I cannot believe we’re starting February and ready for month two of Judging Genres! I’m really excited about this month because I’m stepping out the box. Technically, we’re still in the realm of fantasy (that which cannot happen in the world as we know it) but I’m digging a bit deeper. This month (and next) I’m going to explore some subgenres of fantasy that often could be a whole genre of their own. 

Up this month is:

scifidef

My husband is a FANATIC when it comes to science-fiction (sci-fi) and he has been trying to get me to read it for years. I mean–I’ll watch Star Wars with him over and over again any day, but Ender’s Game? That was a rough read.

I guess there are elements of sci-fi that just never seemed to interest me, and I think that’s because I haven’t been reading the right kind of sci-fi. But I’ll get to that in a minute. Let’s break down the definition first.
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Review: Going Rogue by Robin Benway

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Author: Robin Benway |
Website | Twitter |
Publication Date: January 14th, 2014 |
Publisher: Bloomsbury USA Children’s |
My Interest: series love, spy thriller |
Source: NetGalley |
Age Group | Genre: YA| Spy Thriller, Contemporary | Romance
Series: Yes | Also Known As series
Pages: 320 |

I’ve have yet to tell my junior high students that I sort of lead a double life in that I’m a spy. See, I figure the best way to keep my cover is to blow it, because no one really believes you when you say you’re a spy.
Regardless, I was super excited to jump back into Maggie’s world–if only to pick up some tips and tricks for my own life.

I received an ARC via NetGalley. I was not compensated in any way for my words (cross my heart) nor did I promise a good rating. All thoughts and opinions expressed in this review are 100% mine.

The Story

“Being permanently based in a local New York City high school as an undercover operative has its moments, good and bad, for 16-year-old safecracker Maggie Silver. Pros: More quality time with her former mark-turned-boyfriend Jesse Oliver and insanely cool best friend, Roux. Getting to spend quality time with her semi-retired and international spy honorary uncle, Angelo. Cons: High school and the accompanying cliques, bad lunches, and frustratingly simple locker combinations. But when Maggie’s parents are falsely accused of stealing priceless gold coins, Maggie uses her safecracking skills to try and clear their names. Too bad it only serves to put her and everyone she loves in danger. Maggie and her “new team” flee to Paris where they must come up with a plan to defeat their former allies.

-via Goodreads

My Thoughts

Somehow I kind of, sort of almost forgot I even had this read! I haven’t been too close to my Nook for a while simply because I just love real books. But on a whim over break I decided to peruse NetGalley and the the heaven’s opened up with this gem. When I gained approval, I downloaded it and promptly forgot it was on my Nook since I don’t tend to carry it everywhere with me.

But wouldn’t you know, I picked it up one snowy day and just couldn’t put it down.
Going Rogue is a newer title for 2014 (just released last month) and one story on my super long list of anticipated reads. I read Also Known As last summer excited to have found a teen stand-alone spy thriller. THEN I discovered it was going to be part of a series–I sort of love it when a book does that.

I almost feel that Going Rogue is better than the first story, only because we learn so much more about the characters. Since it had been awhile since I closed the pages of AKA I was a little worried about jumping back into the story, but Benway weaves in story 1 details perfectly. She doesn’t overdo the recap, but helps readers remember the plot in a way that moves book 2 along perfectly. I felt as if I jumped right back into Maggie’s spy life ready for another adventure with her. And adventure is what we get.

In fact, the plot really thickens in Going Rogue. If you remember The Collective from book one, they play a huge part in the happenings of this story, but in a way that leads to adventure in Europe, way more action, and a whole lot of espionage. What I love most about this series is that it’s a contemporary (in that it could be happening right now) but it is extremely believable. Do I think there are teenage spies out in our world? Maybe. Do I think Maggie could really (I mean, really) be a spy? Heck yes! Benway’s story isn’t so far-fetched that it’s fantasy. She has a plot that isn’t too movie-esque, bad guys who aren’t too Russian, and strong, reliable main characters. As a reader, I’m swept away into this thrill of a read, but at the same time a part of me really does think this could totally happen in real life. ( I mean, after all I am a spy, so it sort of does.)

It boils down to the characters for me. Maggie, Roux, Jesse, Angelo, and Maggie’s parents are back! In fact, we even see a few more people join the crew. While we get  a whole lot more back story on some of the characters (I LOVE the focus on Roux!!) we also see more of Maggie’s struggles. For me, it’s so important that a main character struggles. Teens don’t live perfect lives, and if they want to connect to a character, then that character has to struggle. Having the chance to see some of Maggie’s vulnerability, not to mention Roux’s and Jesse’s, simply cemented this read for me.

If you loved AKA as much as I did, then you’re going to love Going RogueAs much as I wanted the first to be a stand alone novel, I am so excited that Benway wrote a sequel. I could definitely jump back into Maggie’s world should another book come along, but I’m also, once again, really happy with this ending. If you’re looking for some witty dialogue, a whole lot of thrill, and just an all-around feel-good read, Going Rogue is definitely it.

Pick this read up if you like…

Espionage, adventure, secrets, romance, Europe, wit,  spy thrillers, rebels, contemporary stories, strong characters

Then when you’re finished, try….

Heist Society by Ally Carter

  

NCode Name Verity by Elizabeth Wein

Book Talk: Have you read Going Rogue yet? Do spy thrillers excite you and leave wanting to live a double life? Or are you more of an eh, this doesn’t happen in real life kind of believer? 

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Marvelous Middle Grade Monday: The Forbidden Stone by Tony Abbott

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Author: Tony Abbott | Website | TwitterRelease Date: January 7th, 2014
Publisher: Katherine Tegen Books  | Genre: Fantasy, Adventure, Mystery, Sci-Fi Pages 423 |

I’m a library addict-browser. Sometimes, I have a stack of books at home, but I’m downtown running errands and decide I just have to stop in the library to look at the shelves to make sure there isn’t a book I’ve missed.
Last week, I stopped in to pick up a few books I had ordered and happened to find today’s gem on the NEW Middle Grade Reads shelf. The cover was gorgeous, the title sounded enticing, and the synopsis sealed the deal.
Then I read it–and I had a few twitter moments. You guys, this read is FABULOUS!

I’m also featuring it as my first MG read for my sci-fi month. I’m kind of weird in my sci-fi thinking, but I consider time travel (which is a fantasy trait) more of a sci-fi sub trait. And since this book hints at it, right now it’s very sci-fi-ish to me. (Tune in Thursday for more sci-fi discussion.)

I borrowed a copy from my local library.
I was not compensated in any way for my review (cross my heart) nor did I promise a good rating. All thoughts and opinions expressed in this review are 100% mine. Marvelous Middle Grade Monday is hosted every Monday at author Shannon Messenger’s blog

Summary

It all began when four friends-Wade, Lily, Darrel, and Becca-received a strange, coded email from Wade’s uncle Henry shortly before the old man’s sudden death. They set off for Germany to attend the funeral with Wade’s father, Roald, and discover that Uncle Henry left them yet another baffling message that they suspect is the key to figuring out how and why he died.

The message leads to a clue, and the more clues they discover, the farther they travel down a treacherous path toward an ancient, guarded secret. Soon they are in a breathless race across the globe, running for their lives as a dangerous shadow organization chases them around every corner. Their only hope of saving themselves-and the world that they know-is to find twelve magical relics from a hidden past that will unlock the Copernicus Legacy.

-via book jacket

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Judging Genres: Young Adult Guide to Fantasy

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Did last week’s field guide lead you to any fabulous middle grade reads? I hope so!I n fact during my own research I picked up a few new fantasy/mythological novels that I’m incorporating into lit circles for my 7th graders.

Sometimes I wish I could just research books all day because I LOVE finding new reads!

Which is why this week’s Judging Genres is featuring YA fantasy! I admit that I tend to read much more fantasy geared for middle graders than I do for young adult. But after compiling this list, I’m kind of ready to skip all the genres and focus on fantasy all year!

But I won’t. I’ve made you a promise after all.
So, once again I give you a field guide so you can explore the genre!

YAfguide

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Marvelous Middle Grade Monday: The Runaway King by Jennifer Nielsen

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Author: Jennifer Nielsen | Website | TwitterRelease Date: March 1st, 2013
Publisher: Scholastic Press | Genre: Fantasy, High Fantasy | Pages: 331 |

I start wrapping up my fantasy month this week, but I just had to squeeze one more great read in. Ok–so I might be knee deep in about three other fantasies still–but I’m branching out next month, really.
I am so excited about today’s read though because I fell so in love with this series just a few weeks ago that I had to keep reading it, AND the last book comes out in a only a few weeks, so I really don’t have to wait that long!

I borrowed a copy from my local library.
I was not compensated in any way for my review (cross my heart) nor did I promise a good rating. All thoughts and opinions expressed in this review are 100% mine. Marvelous Middle Grade Monday is hosted every Monday at author Shannon Messenger’s blog

Summary

Just weeks after Jaron has taken the throne, an assassination attempt forces him into a deadly situation. Rumors of a coming war are winding their way between the castle walls, and Jaron feels the pressure quietly mounting within Carthya. Soon, it becomes clear that deserting the kingdom may be his only hope of saving it. But the further Jaron is forced to run from his identity, the more he wonders if it is possible to go too far. Will he ever be able to return home again? Or will he have to sacrifice his own life in order to save his kingdom?

-via book jacket

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Weekly Happenings – January 25th

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Wow. I can’t believe today is my last day of break. These last six weeks have been a nice long, and restful semester break but I am so ready to start in the classroom on Monday! Which means it might be slower than normal around here. Especially with all that I’ve got planned for my kids! But don’t worry, I’ll be chugging along with my genre quests–and keeping up on twitter. Until then, this is what I’ve been up to this past week!

Links I loved

  • I was sort of bummed when I read in The Atlantic about “The Decline of the American Book Lover.” Research shows that nearly a quarter of Americans did not read last year. My question is WHY NOT? However, some good news is that the number of younger readers reading for pleasure has stopped declining. It might not have spiked, but at least some kids are still reading for fun’s sake!


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