Wednesday, July 25, 2012

The Girl is Murder

The Girl is Murder by Kathryn Miller Haines 
New York, NY: Roaring Book Press, 2011
8.75 hours (342 pages)
5 out of 5

It's the Fall of 1942 and Iris's world is rapidly changing. Her Pop is back from the war with a missing leg, limiting his ability to do the physically grueling part of his detective work. Iris is dying to help, especialy when she discovers that one of Pop's cases involves a boy as her school. Now, instead of sitting at home watching Deanna Durbin movies, Iris is sneaking out of the house, double crossing her friends, and dancing at the Savoy till all hours of the night. There's certainly never a dull moment in the private eye business.

Fabulous. That is the best word I can come up with to describe this book.

Iris is making the transition from private school girl to public school girl in the midst of World War II. She's also getting used to living with her private detective Pop after the unexpected death of her mother. When a student from her school goes missing, and his parents approach her Pop, Iris decides to do some investigating of her own.

This book has everything just right. The pacing, the setting, the characters, the mystery all just come together to create a wonderful book by Haines. The historical setting feels very authentic, yet has elements that modern readers can relate to.

Reader Rachel Botchan brings this story to life. This is one of the best audio books I have listened to and Botchan does a fantastic job of bringing the right voice to the right character.

The next book The Girl is Trouble comes out July 3!

Disclosure: Borrowed from the library

Wednesday, July 18, 2012


Charmfall by Chloe Neill 
New York: New American Library, 2012
272 pages
3.5 out of 5

Protecting Chicago from the dark side can be an exhausting job, especially when you're a sophomore. So when the girls of St. Sophia's start gearing up for Sneak, their fall formal, Lily decides to join in on some good old-fashioned party prep--even if it means not giving demons, vampires, and the twisted magic users known as Reapers her undivided attention.

But when a Reaper infiltrates the school Lily doesn't forget what she's sworn to protect. She reaches deep inside herself to draw out her magic--and finds that it's gone. And it turns out that she's not alone. A magic blackout has slammed through paranormal Chicago, and no one knows what--or who--caused it. But for Lily, getting back her magic is worth the risk of going behind enemy lines....

The Dark Elite series fall into my "guilty pleasure" category. Even though I really do enjoy these books, there's not a whole lot of substance. That's not a knock against the series or the author at all. My brain needs a break sometimes, and I'd much rather get that break reading something fun and interesting instead of numbing myself out with TV.

Lily is still trying to figure out the connection between her parents the boarding school she's now attending. And in the meantime, she's fighting Reapers and destroying their evil plans. This installment explores the magical worlds a little more by introducing new characters and further developing existing characters like the Reapers. The real world is already known to me, so seeing more of Neil's created world is nice.

The three novels are absolutely connected and it is highly recommended that you read them in order: Firespell, Hexbound, and Charmfall. The way this one ends requires that there be a fourth and perhaps more. I'm looking forward to it.

Disclosure: Borrowed from the library.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Everybody Sees the Ants

Everybody Sees the Ants by A.S. King 
New York, NY: Little Brown, 2011
282 pages
3.5 out of 5

Lucky Linderman didn't ask for his life. He didn't ask his grandfather not to come home from the Vietnam War. He didn't ask for a father who never got over it. He didn't ask for a mother who keeps pretending their dysfunctional family is fine. And he didn't ask to be the target of Nader McMillan's relentless bullying which has finally gone too far.

But Lucky has a secret--one that helps him wade through the daily mundane torture of his life. In his dreams, Lucky escapes to the war-ridden jungles of Laos--the prison his grandfather couldn't escape--where Lucky can be a real man, an adventurer, and a hero. It's dangerous and wild, and it's a place where his life just might be worth living. But how can Lucky keep hiding in his dreams before reality forces its way inside?

I'm still not sure how I feel about this book. It wasn't bad by any means, in fact, I liked many element of it. The problem arises from just not knowing what to make of it. It can absolutely be classified as magical realism, and it is the inclusion of these fantastic moments that lose me.

On the realistic side of things, this novel tackles quite a few issues, including parental separation, bullying, and abuse. Most of these issues come to a resolution in the real world but with help from fantasy elements, such as Lucky spending evenings with his POW Grandfather in the jungles of Vietnam, and his talking with dancing ants.

The dream nights with Grandpa are what I had the most difficulty with. The more I consider this novel, the more I feel that maybe I should reread it. Maybe a second time around the jungle will provide me with some answers like it did for Lucky.

As my review shows, I'm a bit ambiguous about this one. I really liked some parts, but didn't like others. The characters are very well fleshed out, and I love Lucky's comparisons of his parents to animals. But the purpose of some elements is unclear to me. In fact, the novel itself is a little fuzzy as I try to look back on it. I'll have to give it another go at some point.

Disclosure: Borrowed from the library.

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Happy 4th of July!

Enjoy the day!

Sunday, July 1, 2012

June Reads

I've decided to do a monthly listing of all that I've read and maybe highlight titles I really enjoyed. I've seen monthly wrap-ups on a few blogs, some I follow and others I don't. So this idea is definitely borrowed but not copied exactly. As least as far as I know. (Note: links go to Shelfari).

This month was a little slower than the last two, but I finally finished up a few I've been working on for a while.

64: Daughter of Smoke and Bone by Laini Taylor^
65: Level Up by Gene Yang^"
66: Big Girl Small by Rachel DeWoskin^
67: Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs*
68: How They Croaked by Georgia Bragg
69: Roald Dahl's Revolting Rhymes by Roald Dahl
70: Wonderstruck by Brian Selznick
71: Ugly to start with by John Michael Cummings
72: The Angel Experiment (Maximum Ride #1) by James Patterson

^ Best of the Best Challenge (3)
* Off the Shelf Challenge (1)
" New Adult Challenge (1)

Best of the Month

Also since we're now halfway through the year, it's time for an update on all of my challenges.

Best of the Best Challenge - Completed 26 of 25 books. Ended: 6/30/12
Off the Shelf Challenge - Completed 4 out of 15 books.
New Adult Challenge - Completed 3 out of 3.
100 Book Challenge - Completed 72 out of 100.

Mostly what I've noticed is that I need to stop getting distracted by side challenges, such as the Bout-of-Books and the Best of the Best Challenge, and shiny new books. But they're so new...and SHINY!

How are you doing with your challenges?