Monday, August 25, 2014

September Newsletter


Next Friday, I will feature a guest post with another Blogger. Want it to be you? Email me at With that in mind, here is September's Monthly Newsletter.

Books Coming Out in September 2014

Rooms by Lauren Oliver
Release Date: September 23rd

The New York Times bestselling author of Before I Fall and the Delirium trilogy makes her brilliant adult debut with this mesmerizing story in the tradition of The Lovely Bones, Her Fearful Symmetry, and The Ocean at the End of the Lane—a tale of family, ghosts, secrets, and mystery, in which the lives of the living and the dead intersect in shocking, surprising, and moving ways 

Wealthy Richard Walker has just died, leaving behind his country house full of rooms packed with the detritus of a lifetime. His estranged family—bitter ex-wife Caroline, troubled teenage son Trenton, and unforgiving daughter Minna—have arrived for their inheritance. 

But the Walkers are not alone. Prim Alice and the cynical Sandra, long dead former residents bound to the house, linger within its claustrophobic walls. Jostling for space, memory, and supremacy, they observe the family, trading barbs and reminiscences about their past lives. Though their voices cannot be heard, Alice and Sandra speak through the house itself—in the hiss of the radiator, a creak in the stairs, the dimming of a light bulb. 

The living and dead are each haunted by painful truths that will soon surface with explosive force. When a new ghost appears, and Trenton begins to communicate with her, the spirit and human worlds collide—with cataclysmic results.

Elegantly constructed and brilliantly paced, Rooms is an enticing and imaginative ghost story and a searing family drama that is as haunting as it is resonant.

Michael Vey: Hunt for the Jade Dragon by Richard Paul Evans
20759481Release Date: September 16th 

Michael and his friends must rescue a child prodigy as the thrilling action continues in this electrifying fourth installment of the #1 New York Times bestselling series!

Michael, Taylor, Ostin and the rest of the Electroclan head to China in search of a girl who may have discovered why Michael and his friends became electric. Her name is Lin Julung, or Jade Dragon, and she’s a child prodigy with an IQ higher than Einstein’s—and Ostin’s.

But Hatch gets to her first, and the Elgen are holding her prisoner in their Taiwan Starxource plant. Now the Voice wants Michael and the Electroclan to go to Taiwan and free her before Hatch can realize his dreams of an army of electric children.

The hunt for Jade Dragon is on, and it’s a race against time!

Unmarked by Kami Garcia
21283134Release Date: September 16th

The heart-pounding sequel to the instant New York Times bestseller, Unbreakable, by New York Times bestselling Beautiful Creatures co-author Kami Garcia.

He is here... and he could be anyone.

Kennedy Waters lives in a world where vengeance spirits kill, ghosts keep secrets, and a demon walks among us–a demon she accidentally set free. 
Now Kennedy and the other Legion members–Alara, Priest, Lukas, and Jared–have to hunt him down. As they learn more about the history of the Legion and the Illuminati, Kennedy realizes that the greatest mystery of all does not belong to any secret order, but to her own family. With the clock ticking and the life of someone she loves hanging in the balance, Kennedy has to ask the question she fears most: what is it about her past that has left her Unmarked? 

Afterworlds by Scott Westerfield
Release Date: September 23rd

18367581Darcy Patel has put college and everything else on hold to publish her teen novel, Afterworlds. Arriving in New York with no apartment or friends she wonders whether she's made the right decision until she falls in with a crowd of other seasoned and fledgling writers who take her under their wings… 
Told in alternating chapters is Darcy's novel, a suspenseful thriller about Lizzie, a teen who slips into the 'Afterworld' to survive a terrorist attack. But the Afterworld is a place between the living and the dead and as Lizzie drifts between our world and that of the Afterworld, she discovers that many unsolved - and terrifying - stories need to be reconciled. And when a new threat resurfaces, Lizzie learns her special gifts may not be enough to protect those she loves and cares about most.

Friday, August 22, 2014

Midnight in Austenland

Midnight in Austenland by Shannon Hale

This is one of those books that, while it is technically the second in a series, you do NOT have to read the first book in order to understand what is going on. There are only two similar characters, and the main character meets them with you there, so it isn't confusing. 

In case you don't know anything about Austenland, I will provide a little bit of background for you. But I suggest that a) you read the first book, because it's adorable b) and watch the movie, because it's even more adorable. The sequel is less adorable, and more of a bone chilling mystery with a little romance thrown in. Other than this book's overuse of the word "Ominous," I thought this was a pretty good book.

Ominous: giving the impression that something bad or unpleasant is going to happen; or in the case of this book; evil, creepily, uneasy, scared, dark, and a million other things.

This book is told from the perspective of a woman named Charlotte, who got her heart broken when she was dumped by her husband James. They divorced, he remarried, and she stayed behind with hurt feelings and two kids. After many failed first dates, Charlotte decides she needs a fantasy; and with plenty of money, she decides to take a vacation to Austenland, a place in England where actors are paid to pretend to fall in love with her. What could possibly be better to take her mind off the past?

But as she goes through the trip, it's hard to separate the fantasy and reality. A murder mystery has been invented to keep the guests entertained. During a game of Bloody Murder, Charlotte stumbles in a secret room and discovers what she is sure to be a dead body. The darkness hides anything she could see; but when she comes back in the morning, the body is gone. Is the fantasy making her crazy, or is something going on? 

What was supposed to be fun and games turns into something more sinister and scary. Can Charlotte uncover the secrets of Pembrook Park and the Windy Manor before it's too late?

Bring a dictionary with you unless you are an adult, an advanced and intellectual human being, or in fact, a dictionary. 

This book used the word "ominous" a lot. I already said that, but it seriously does. And since they are pretending to be in the 1800s, there are some words that you might not know. 

Other than that, this is a really great read!!

Was this review long enough? Comment below! 

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Sarah's Top Ten List: Fairytale Retellings


So, I've been looking around at all of the movies coming out soon, and it seems like we have faded from sci-fi dystopia into fairytale retellings. Maleficent has already been released, and Into the Woods is coming soon. 2015 is full of fairytale retellings, including Belle, starring Emma Watson, Cinderella, and many Peter Pan movies, with a Sleeping Beauty retelling also. I am so excited for this because my favorite genre is fairytale retellings. My absolute favorite fairytale to read about would have to be Beauty and the Beast, but I have thrown in some other fairytales that should satisfy your tastes. Some have been bestsellers, and some are not as popular as I believe they deserve to be. 

10. Princess of The Midnight Ball by Jessica Day George 

A tale of twelve princesses doomed to dance until dawn… 

Galen is a young soldier returning from war; Rose is one of twelve princesses condemned to dance each night for the King Under Stone. Together Galen and Rose will search for a way to break the curse that forces the princesses to dance at the midnight balls. All they need is one invisibility cloak, a black wool chain knit with enchanted silver needles, and that most critical ingredient of all—true love—to conquer their foes in the dark halls below. But malevolent forces are working against them above ground as well, and as cruel as the King Under Stone has seemed, his wrath is mere irritation compared to the evil that awaits Galen and Rose in the brighter world above. 

Captivating from start to finish, Jessica Day George’s take on the Grimms’ tale The Twelve Dancing Princesses demonstrates yet again her mastery at spinning something entirely fresh out of a story you thought you knew.

9. Cloaked by Alex Flinn

I’m not your average hero. I actually wasn't your average anything. Just a poor guy working an after-school job at a South Beach shoe repair shop to help his mom make ends meet. But a little magic changed it all.

It all started with the curse. And the frognapping. And one hot-looking princess, who asked me to lead a rescue mission.

There wasn’t a fairy godmother or any of that. And even though I fell in love along the way, what happened to me is unlike any fairy tale I’ve ever heard. Before I knew it, I was spying with a flock of enchanted swans, talking (yes, talking!) to a fox named Todd, and nearly trampled by giants in the Keys. 

Don’t believe me? I didn’t believe it either. But you’ll see. Because I knew it all was true, the second I got CLOAKED. 

8. The Fairy's Return and Other Stories by Gail Carson Levine

Ever since Newbery Honor author Gail Carson Levine introduced the magical village of Snettering-on-Snoakes in the faraway Kingdom of Biddle, young readers have been laughing their way through her hilarious retellings of famous and not-so-famous fairy tales.

Now, for the first time, the six beloved Princess Tales are together in one magnificent volume:

The high jinks begin in The Fairy's Mistake, which pokes fun at a meddlesome fairy whose plans for good go terribly awry. In The Princess Test, the author spoofs the notion that a pea can prove a person's pedigree. Princess Sonora and the Long Sleep features a genius of a princess, a hundred years of snooze, two princes, and a flock of balding sheep! Cinderella is a boy in Cinderellis and the Glass Hill, and the glass slipper is a glass hill. In For Biddle's Sake, Parsley tries to forget her beloved prince and get used to life as a Biddlebum Toad. The road to happily-ever-after isn't easy when a baker's son and a princess fall in love in The Fairy's Return.

Elements of the classics are woven into these not-so-typical retellings of "Toads and Diamonds," "The Princess and the Pea," "Sleeping Beauty," "The Princess on the Glass Hill," "Puddocky," and "The Golden Goose." The fresh and funny twists on favorite fairy tales will win the hearts and capture the imaginations of young readers everywhere.

7. Sun and Moon, Ice and Snow by Jessica Day George 

6443645When a great white bear promises untold riches to her family, the Lass agrees to go away with him. But the bear is not what he seems, nor is his castle. To unravel the mystery, the Lass sets out on a windswept journey beyond the edge of the world. Based on the Nordic legend East of the Sun, West of the Moon, with romantic echoes of Beauty and the Beast, this re-imagined story will leave fans of fantasy and fairy tale enchanted by Jessica Day George.

6. Fairest by Gail Carson Levine 

Once upon a time, there was a girl who wanted to be pretty . . .

Aza's singing is the fairest in all the land, and the most unusual. She can "throw" her voice so it seems to come from anywhere. But singing is only one of the two qualities prized in the Kingdom of Ayortha. Aza doesn't possess the other: beauty. Not even close. She's hidden in the shadows in her parents' inn, but when she becomes lady-in-waiting to the new queen, she has to step into the light—especially when the queen demands a dangerous favor. A magic mirror, a charming prince, a jealous queen, palace intrigue, and an injured king twine into a maze that Aza must penetrate to save herself and her beloved kingdom.

5. Peter and The Starcatchers by Ridley Pearson and Dave Barry 

34262Don't even think of starting this book unless you're sitting in a comfortable chair and have lots of time. A fast-paced, impossible-to-put-down adventure awaits as the young orphan Peter and his mates are dispatched to an island ruled by the evil King Zarboff. They set sail aboard the Never Land, a ship carrying a precious and mysterious trunk in its cargo hold, and the journey quickly becomes fraught with excitement and danger. 

Discover richly developed characters in the sweet but sophisticated Molly, the scary but familiar Black Stache, and the fearless Peter. Treacherous battles with pirates, foreboding thunderstorms at sea, and evocative writing immerses the reader in a story that slowly and finally reveals the secrets and mysteries of the beloved Peter Pan.

4. Entwined by Heather Dixon 

8428195Come and mend your broken hearts here. In this retelling of the classic tale "The Twelve Dancing Princesses," the eldest princess must fight to save her family—and her heart—from an ancient dark magic within the palace walls. "Full of mystery, lush settings, and fully orbed characters, Dixon's debut is both suspenseful and rewarding."—ALA Booklist

Just when Azalea should feel that everything is before her—beautiful gowns, dashing suitors, balls filled with dancing—it's taken away. All of it. And Azalea is trapped. The Keeper understands. He's trapped, too, held for centuries within the walls of the palace. So he extends an invitation.

Every night, Azalea and her eleven sisters may step through the enchanted passage in their room to dance in his silver forest, but there is a cost. The Keeper likes to keep things. Azalea may not realize how tangled she is in his web until it is too late. "Readers who enjoy stories of royalty, romance, and magic will delight in Dixon's first novel."—Publishers Weekly

3. Ella Enchanted by Gail Carson Levine 

607014At birth, Ella is inadvertently cursed by an imprudent young fairy named Lucinda, who bestows on her the "gift" of obedience. Anything anyone tells her to do, Ella must obey. Another girl might have been cowed by this affliction, but not feisty Ella: "Instead of making me docile, Lucinda's curse made a rebel of me. Or perhaps I was that way naturally." When her beloved mother dies, leaving her in the care of a mostly absent and avaricious father, and later, a loathsome stepmother and two treacherous stepsisters, Ella's life and well-being seem to be in grave peril. But her intelligence and saucy nature keep her in good stead as she sets out on a quest for freedom and self-discovery as she tries to track down Lucinda to undo the curse, fending off ogres, befriending elves, and falling in love with a prince along the way. Yes, there is a pumpkin coach, a glass slipper, and a happily ever after, but this is the most remarkable, delightful, and profound version of Cinderella you'll ever read.

Gail Carson Levine's examination of traditional female roles in fairy tales takes some satisfying twists and deviations from the original. Ella is bound by obedience against her will, and takes matters in her own hands with ambition and verve. Her relationship with the prince is balanced and based on humor and mutual respect; in fact, it is she who ultimately rescues him. Ella Enchanted has won many well-deserved awards, including a Newbery Honor.

2. Cinder by Marissa Meyer

Humans and androids crowd the raucous streets of New Beijing. A deadly plague ravages the population. From space, a ruthless lunar people watch, waiting to make their move. No one knows that Earth’s fate hinges on one girl. . . . 

Cinder, a gifted mechanic, is a cyborg. She’s a second-class citizen with a mysterious past, reviled by her stepmother and blamed for her stepsister’s illness. But when her life becomes intertwined with the handsome Prince Kai’s, she suddenly finds herself at the center of an intergalactic struggle, and a forbidden attraction. Caught between duty and freedom, loyalty and betrayal, she must uncover secrets about her past in order to protect her world’s future.

1. Beauty by Robin McKinley 

A strange imprisonment...

41424Beauty has never liked her nickname. She is thin and awkward; it is her two sisters who are the beautiful ones. But what she lacks in looks, she can perhaps make up for in courage.

When her father comes home with the tale of an enchanted castle in the forest and the terrible promise he had to make to the Beast who lives there, Beauty knows she must go to the castle, a prisoner of her own free will. Her father protests that he will not let her go, but she answers, "Cannot a Beast be tamed?"

Robin McKinley's beloved telling illuminates the unusual love story of a most unlikely couple, Beauty and the Beast.

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Goose Girl {Review}

Goose Girl by Shannon Hale

If we don't tell strange stories, when something strange happens we won't believe it.”

This was a re-read- the book was on sale on my Kindle, and I happened to have a Amazon gift card, therefore resulting in my purchase.

The reason Shannon Hale is one of my favorite authors is because she weaves words in a way that is different and mesmerizing. Her stories are so imaginative, yet they follow the basic rules of a fairytale.

Goose Girl is about a princess named Anidori. Anidori has a special gift- she can speak to animals, especially her horse, Falda, and the swans in the pond. When Anidori grows older, her mother sends her off to the kingdom of Bayern. She wants to force Ani to marry the crown prince in order to create peace between their kingdoms.

Ani reluctantly agrees to go- along with a few guards and her lady in waiting, Selia. They begin to make the long trek to Bayern on horseback, stopping every night to rest in the tents. Ani can’t help but feel a bit uneasy about some of the guards, and after she is almost certain one of them tried to drown her in the river, she isn’t sure who she should trust.

On the way there, Ani overhears her Selia and guards. They are planning to kill Ani so Selia can pose as the princess in her place and take over the throne. Before they can carry out their plans, Ani flees the forest and stumbles upon a woman and her son. She stays with them for a while and then makes her way to Bayern in disguise.

“But when she turned her back to the lights, she saw that the night was so dark...She could not see the stars. The world felt as high as the depthless night sky and deeper than she could know. She understood, suddenly and keenly, that she was too small to run away, and she sat on the damp ground and cried.”

Ani becomes a goose girl for the king, and soon finds that she can talk to geese almost as easily as talking to swans. She discovers that she loves working with the geese, and befriends a girl named Enna. Just as she becomes comfortable with her new life, she overhears that Selia has been spreading false rumors that Kildenree {Ani’s home kingdom} is planning to attack Bayern in order to start a war. Ani must confess to the king who she really is before it’s too late- the only problem is that Selia is surrounded by many guards, who also want to kill her.
This book is a fairytale, but it is so action packed and full of surprising twists that you will not be able to put it down. The ending is definitely something you will not see coming. Also- for the girls out there that want a little bit of romance, Ani falls in love with the prince’s guard, Geric.

“Geric," she called.
He turned back around.
"What kind of flowers were they?"
"I don't rightly know," he said. He made faltering gestures with his hands, forming their size and shape from the air. "They were yellow, and smallish, and had lots of petals."
"Thank you," she said. "They were beautiful.”

To conclude this fairly short- and long overdue review, I would just like to say: read this book. Hale’s story of betrayal, love, magic, and finding the power inside yourself will stay with you long after you shut the pages.

Saturday, August 9, 2014

Books Coming Out in August

Rule of The Thoughts by James Dashner
Release Date: August 26th

17700320From the New York Times bestselling author of the Maze Runner series comes The Rule of Thoughts, the exciting sequel to The Eye of Minds. Fans of the Divergent series by Veronica Roth and The Hunger Games will love the new Mortality Doctrine series. 

Michael completed the Path. What he found at the end turned everything he’d ever known about his life—and the world—completely upside down.

He barely survived. But it was the only way VirtNet Security knew to find the cyber-terrorist Kaine—and to make the Sleep safe for gamers once again. And, the truth Michael discovered about Kaine is more complex than they anticipated, and more terrifying than even the worst of their fears.

Kaine is a tangent, a computer program that has become sentient. And Michael’s completing the Path was the first stage in turning Kaine’s master plan, the Mortality Doctrine, into a reality.

The Mortality Doctrine will populate Earth entirely with human bodies harboring tangent minds. Any gamer who sinks into the VirtNet risks coming out with a tangent intelligence in control of their body. 

And the takeover has already begun.

A Wonderlandiful World by Shannon Hale
Release Date: August 26th
At Ever After High, everyone is expected to sign the Storybook of Legends, pledging to follow in their fairytale parent's footsteps. But when Raven Queen came along, things became fairy, fairy confusing. Now no one's destiny is certain, not even for the most royal of them all, Apple White.When a mysterious being from Wonderland begins to infect Ever After High with a strange magic, everything goes topsy-turvy. The students transform into animals and objects, palace mice talk, and the beautiful green grounds on campus fade to black-and-white. Lizzie Hearts, Wonderland's future queen, Cedar Wood, daughter of Pinocchio, and Madeline Hatter, heir to the Mad Hatter's Hat and Tea Shoppe, seem to be the only ones who haven't completely lost their heads. It's up to them to save their best friends forever after from a curse that threatens to give their school-and their lives-a very unhappy ending.Don't miss Book #1, Ever After High: Storybook of Legends and Book #2, Ever After High: The Unfairest of Them All!

35 Days of Wonder by R.J. Palacio

Release Date: August 26th

In the #1 New York Times bestselling novel Wonder, readers were introduced to memorable English teacher Mr. Browne and his love of precepts. Simply put, precepts are principles to live by, and Mr. Browne has compiled 365 of them—one for each day of the year—drawn from popular songs to children’s books to inscriptions on Egyptian tombstones to fortune cookies. His selections celebrate kindness, hopefulness, the goodness of human beings, the strength of people’s hearts, and the power of people’s wills. Interspersed with the precepts are letters and emails from characters who appeared in Wonder. Readers hear from Summer, Jack, Charlotte, Julian, and Amos.

There’s something for everyone here, with words of wisdom from such noteworthy people as Anne Frank, Martin Luther King Jr., Confucius, Goethe, Sappho—and over 100 readers of Wonder who sent R. J. Palacio their own precepts.

Monday, August 4, 2014

The Geography of You and Me {Book Review}

18295852The Geography of You and Me

“You can't know the answer until you ask the question.”

I am still in awe of how completely amazing the story of Lucy and Owen was. Smith has a beautiful way of telling a story that weaves the words through your soul and up to the sky, leaving you watching the story fly high above you, creating a breathtaking image.

Lucy and Owen meet in an elevator in New York. The elevator suddenly stops, and they are stuck inside the hot and stuffy contraption for about half an hour. When they finally get out, they spend the rest of the night together, a night that is both etched into their minds for the rest of their lives.

How long could a single night really be expected to last? How far could you stretch such a small collection of minutes? He was just a boy on the roof. She was just a girl in an elevator.

Just as the sparks between them are starting to ignite, they are both yanked in completely different directions, Lucy to a completely different country, and Owen to the other side of the U.S. Despite the distance between them and the impossibility of them ever being together again, they can’t stop thinking about each other.

Through fate, a few emails, and quite a few postcards, they find themselves spiraling towards each other again and again. Can they fall in love despite the odds?

This story was so freaking cute. Enter Owen, the shy geeky boy whose father works on the building and lives in the basement, and Lucy, a girl who has dreams of traveling the world with her parents, but is constantly left alone in her apartment with only a fridge stuffed full of postcards to keep her company.

“But there's no such thing as a completely fresh start. Everything new arrives on the heels of something old, and every beginning comes at the cost of an ending.”

One day, they are both taking the elevator when it suddenly lurches to a stop. The lights go out, leaving them alone together in the darkness of the stuffy contraption. The only thing to do while they wait is talk- which they do. When they finally get out of the elevator, Owen goes up with Lucy and they spend the night looking at the stars together on the roof. That night is the beginning of a spark that ignites between the two of them.

“Maybe they were never meant to have more than just one night. After all, not everything can last. Not everything is supposed to mean something.”

I was thinking, yes, yes yes- and then it happened. Lucy’s parents come home off the trip with the news that they are moving. Lucy’s father got a job in Scotland, and they are taking Lucy with them. Meanwhile, Owen’s father loses his job in the apartment and they are forced to leave New York and go on a road trip. What could have been is ended quite abruptly, when they are both thrown to the opposite ends of the world.

But, when you’re falling in love, distance can’t stop your heart from wanting. From hoping.

“If you were to draw a map of the two of them, of where they started out and where they would both end up, the lines would be shooting away from each other like magnets spun around on their poles. And it occurred to Owen that there was something deeply flawed about this, that there should be circles or angels or turns, anything that might make it possible for the two lines to meet again. Instead, they were both headed in the exact opposite directions. The map was as good as a door swinging shut. And the geography of the thing- the geography of them- was completely and hopelessly wrong.”

Somehow, like fate is sending them in each other's directions again and again, they find ways to see each other. Whether it is in person or through a postcard, Lucy and Owen cannot forget each other- and their hearts can’t, either.

“The most basic sort of love: to be worried about the one who was worrying about you.”

I fell in love with their story with every page that I turned. Lucy and Owen’s story is not one that I will soon forget.

“It is what it is..." he murmured, letting the words trail off at the end.

"I hate that expression," Lucy said, a bit more forcefully than intended. "Nothing is what it is. Things are always changing. They can always get better.”

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