Friday, July 25, 2014

Format: Paperback
Publisher: Three Rivers Press
Pages: 288 pages
Release Date: May 7, 2013
Source of my copy: Blogging For Books
Synopsis (from Goodreads)
In Dad is Fat, stand-up comedian Jim Gaffigan, who’s best known for his legendary riffs on Hot Pockets, bacon, manatees, and McDonald's, expresses all the joys and horrors of life with five young children—everything from cousins ("celebrities for little kids") to toddlers’ communication skills (“they always sound like they have traveled by horseback for hours to deliver important news”), to the eating habits of four year olds (“there is no difference between a four year old eating a taco and throwing a taco on the floor”). Reminiscent of Bill Cosby’s Fatherhood, Dad is Fat is sharply observed, explosively funny, and a cry for help from a man who has realized he and his wife are outnumbered in their own home.

I don't watch a lot of stand-up comedy because to tell the truth I'm a bit slow when it comes to jokes. But I love watching Jim Gaffigan's standup comedies--I think I watched all of his stuff that is available on YouTube. He is one of the few comedians whose jokes I genuinely crack-up laughing because I'm able to relate to them. Hot Pockets? McDonalds? Yeah, I've been there.

I had high expectations for Dad Is Fat. I was going to be laughing and entertained all the way through. I enjoyed Dad Is Fat, there's no question about that but at the same time it wasn't the book I had in my head...

Dad Is Fat is about Jim Gaffigan's adventures, reflections and opinions about fatherhood told through essays (which were relatively short--at most four to five pages each). He goes from a loose chronological, starting when he was a single guy just looking on at his friends having babies to when he has five children of his own and taking them on the road on to his shows/family vacations.

With a title like Dad Is Fat, the book description being what it was, and the fact that when I quickly flipped through the book, almost all the pictures I saw were of kids, you'd think I'd realize that it was going to be all about fatherhood through the eyes of Jim Gaffigan. But I was expecting sort of a hodgepodge of topics, like his stand-up shows are. However, I enjoyed reading about his experiences even though I didn't laugh as much as I thought I was going to--though there were some lines I found myself chuckling. Some of my favorites were the parts about his opinions about several children's books after rereading them many, many times, the "art" children make in school and the different types of babysitters (the manny, the warm body, the college student, etc.). If you watch his shows, you'll recognize lines throughout the book from them. I thought he wrote in a way that was entertaining and the tone was fun and lighthearted but with a genuine-ness of a father who loves his children and wife very much.

Dad Is Fat can be appreciated by non-parents like myself, but I think readers with children will appreciate it all the more because they can all the more relate to his experiences and anecdotes about raising young children. Overall, it was a fun, entertaining read but not a stand-out.

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Book I Covet: Shadow Scale by Rachel Hartman

Wednesday, July 23, 2014 with
I love, love, LOVE, LOVE (so much love!) Seraphina. I needed Shadow Scale yesterday! You better believe I already pre-ordered it.

Seraphina took the literary world by storm with 8 starred reviews and numerous “Best of” lists. At last, her eagerly awaited sequel has arrived—and with it comes an epic battle between humans and dragons.

The kingdom of Goredd: a world where humans and dragons share life with an uneasy balance, and those few who are both human and dragon must hide the truth. Seraphina is one of these, part girl, part dragon, who is reluctantly drawn into the politics of her world. When war breaks out between the dragons and humans, she must travel the lands to find those like herself—for she has an inexplicable connection to all of them, and together they will be able to fight the dragons in powerful, magical ways.

As Seraphina gathers this motley crew, she is pursued by humans who want to stop her. But the most terrifying is another half dragon, who can creep into people’s minds and take them over. Until now, Seraphina has kept her mind safe from intruders, but that also means she’s held back her own gift. It is time to make a choice: Cling to the safety of her old life, or embrace a powerful new destiny?

Shadow Scale will be released on March 10, 2015. Click on the cover to go to the book's Goodreads page.

What book(s) do you "covet" this week?
Leave us a comment with a link so we can check your WoW of the week too.

"Books I Covet" is a weekly or bi-weekly blog post series we do here on Wednesdays. It will feature books we are very excited about reading and plan on buying/borrowing in the near future. It is basically the "Waiting On" meme hosted by Jill of Breaking the Spine, but we just like the title "books we covet" better. We will include the books' blurb, cover art, and/or release date if they're available. 

Monday, July 21, 2014

Format: ARC
Publisher: Roaring Brook Press
Pages: 345 pages
Release Date: April 1, 2014
Source of my copy: publisher
Synopsis (from Goodreads)
An empty mind is a safe mind. 
Yulia's father always taught her to hide her thoughts and control her emotions to survive the harsh realities of Soviet Russia. But when she's captured by the KGB and forced to work as a psychic spy with a mission to undermine the U.S. space program, she's thrust into a world of suspicion, deceit, and horrifying power. Yulia quickly realizes she can trust no one--not her KGB superiors or the other operatives vying for her attention--and must rely on her own wits and skills to survive in this world where no SEKRET can stay hidden for long.

As soon as I read the synopsis of Sekret, I immediately fell in love with the idea of a secret group of mind-bending teenagers living in and serving Soviet Russia during the Cold War. I couldn't wait to dive into all the history and fiction the novel promised, and so, I began reading Sekret with very high expectations. Fortunately, they were all well met.

I absolutely adored the characters of Sekret. I thought they were all very well-developed and very well portrayed. Each were their own person, all of them having their share of secrets and motivations for doing what they did, and those who were gifted with mind-controlling powers were especially fascinating and cool. Their interactions with each other and their missions for their Russian country thrilled and excited me to the very end of the story, so that, when I finally finished the novel, I was sad to have left them and their exciting world.

I particularly loved the heroine Yulia. Stubborn, resourceful, brave, and deeply loving, she is now one of my favorite YA heroines. I loved watching her grow stronger and braver with every passing, challenging moment in the novel, and even more interesting, that her unique power also grew and developed. I rooted for her all throughout the story as she desperately tried to protect her family, friends, and even herself from the many people who wanted to take advantage of her gift.

Debut author Lindsay Smith's passion for Russia and its culture truly shined in her novel Sekret. Going into the book, I didn't know much about the time period, let alone the Russian perspective of it, so I was really fascinated by all the historical references and the world-building in the novel. I thought Smith did a fantastic job mixing history and fiction through a plotline that was suspenseful and full of mystery. Her writing especially helped, for it flowed very nicely and smoothly.

Needless to say, Sekret was a refreshingly different read in more than one aspect: great, gifted characters; a mysterious and thrilling plotline; a fascinating and foreign setting; and a passionate, new voice. I highly recommend this book to anyone needing an exciting read and/or who enjoys learning about history as much as they enjoy reading, for I believe Sekret will not disappoint. I look forward to reading more from author Lindsay Smith.

Saturday, July 19, 2014

Weekly Wrap-up + New Books

Saturday, July 19, 2014 with
Hello everyone,
I didn't post nearly as much this week as last week because I was in the midst of the BookTubeAThon reading marathon. It's going well--I'm on my fifth book with two more days left! May be able to sneak in another book before it officially ends. However, Leslie came back to the blogging world (after a 4-month hiatus) with a review. Yay!

I vlogged! I shared what books I'm planning to read for the BookTubeAThon.

Review: Strange Sweet Song by Adi Rule
An underrated debut. More people need to read this book.

Book I Covet: First There Was Forever by Juliana Romano
The description said this debut novel is perfect for Huntley Fitzpatrick fans.

Loved one, liked one and one was meh.

Leslie: Haze (The Rephaim #2) by Paula Weston

Michelle: Dad Is Fat by Jim Gaffigan

I didn't think we were going to get any books this week but my Amazon orders surprisingly got delivered sooner than I thought. And we got a review copy of a book we've both been highly anticipating.

Blackfin Sky by Kat Ellis (ARC for review)
This is the one where the whole town mourned for the main character's death but she reappeared months later like nothing happened and she's strangely drawn to the mysterious circus in the woods.
Haven by Kristi Cook (bought)
Mirage by Kristi Cook (bought)
I quite enjoyed Kristi Cook's Magnolia (my review) so I thought I'd check out her other books.
Arranged by Catherine McKenzie (bought)
I was craving a straight-up chick lit and this one sounds really good and has high ratings.

And here are the covers of the books.

What new books did you guys get? I wanna see! Leave your STS* link so I can come gush over them.

Happy reading,

*Stacking the Shelves, or STS, is hosted by Tynga's Reviews

Friday, July 18, 2014

Hello everyone,
Today I'll be speed reviewing three books: two contemporary YA and one dystopian.

Publisher: Dial
Pages: 416 pages
Release Date: April 15, 2014
Source of my copy: ARC via publisher
Summary (for full synopsis visit Goodreads)
Seventeen-year-old Gwen Castle is a working-class girl determined to escape her small island town, but when rich-kid Cass Somers, with whom she has a complicated romantic history, shows up, she's forced to reassess her feelings about her loving, complex family, her lifelong best friends, her wealthy employer, the place she lives, and the boy she can't admit she loves.
Michelle's Thoughts:
What I Thought Was True was hands-down the best YA novel I read this summer. The beginning was a little shaky and I got confused trying to figure what exactly happened to Gwen and Cass, and the whole Spence and Alex thing and what exactly went down, but, really, that was minor.

I loved Fitzpatrick's debut novel My Life Next Door and I eagerly waited for her sophomore novel. I knew it was going to be fantastic and I was right. But while My Life Next Door was all about the swoon factor of falling in love and first love, What I Thought Was True hit closer to home because I relate to Gwen and her family so much. Our working-class families are constantly trying to make ends meet; Gwen's mom and my mom are both housekeepers; her brother has a disability and so does mine, etc.

I think the way teenage sexuality was presented in this novel was refreshingly open and realistic.

And Cass. Oh, he was such a sweetheart. I loved him! I may even love him slightly more than Jace Garrett.

Publisher: Poppy
Pages: 337 pages
Release Date: April 15, 2014
Source of my copy: eARC via Netgalley/publisher
Summary (for full synopsis visit Goodreads)
Sparks fly when sixteen-year-old Lucy Patterson and seventeen-year-old Owen Buckley meet on an elevator rendered useless by a New York City blackout. Soon after, the two teenagers leave the city, but as they travel farther away from each other geographically, they stay connected emotionally, in this story set over the course of one year.
Michelle's Thoughts:
The Geography of You and Me book didn't resonate with me as Jennifer E. Smith's other books did, but it was still really good. One night brought Lucy and Own together, and despite the months, the ocean and the many states and countries, new experiences, as well as other [romantic] relationships along the way they still found a way to get back to each other. This novel was so dreamy and romantic, well-written and very quotable. Take this gem for example:

Sometimes it seemed as if his whole life was an exercise in waiting; not waiting to leave, exactly, but simply waiting to go. He felt like one of those fish that had the capacity to grow in unimaginable ways if only the tank were big enough. But his tank had always been small, and as much as he loved his home- as much as he loved his family- he'd always felt himself bumping up against the edges of his own life.

That was exactly how I felt pre-college, but here, stated in such a brilliant way. There were so many other quotes too that perfectly described how I felt at the characters' age.

Then, why the 3.5 stars? Well, I just didn't connect with Lucy and Owen the way I wanted to. I didn't quite feel the chemistry between them... maybe because they spent too much time apart? The love story between Lucy and Oliver had this epic-ness to it (despite the months, being oceans and continents apart, tribulations, etc.) that didn't quite deliver. I wasn't as satisfied after I finished reading this novel the way I wanted to be after reading a good romantic story. It was missing... something.

Publisher: HarperTeen
Pages: 327 pages
Release Date: April 24, 2012
Source of my copy: bought
Summary (for full synopsis visit Goodreads)
Sixteen-year-old America Singer is living in the caste-divided nation of Illéa, which formed after the war that destroyed the United States. America is chosen to compete in the Selection--a contest to see which girl can win the heart of Illéa's prince--but all she really wants is a chance for a future with her secret love, Aspen, who is a caste below her
Michelle's Thoughts:
I thought I could breeze through The Selection in one day. Nope. It took me three days to read this thing because I was just not compelled to pick it up after I put it down. Overall, this book was just okay.

America Singer (WTF kind of name is that?!) was an annoying brat and had me rolling my eyes throughout the book. The love triangle was ridiculous--Aspen walked all over America and Maxon was too nice and just took America's annoying antics. I didn't feel much chemistry between America and any of the two boys. The writing felt juvenile.

Do I want to read The Elite (book 2)? I don't know. I own it (as well as book three
The One) and I am challenging myself to finish an entire series this year so... maybe. I have to be in the mood for it, or I think I'm going to need to read some really positive reviews of The Elite to get excited and motivated to pick it up.

Have a great weekend and happy reading,

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

I love Huntley Fitzpatrick's books and First There Was Forever is perfect for HF fans. Okay, I'll bite. But, seriously, it sounds like my kind of contemporary YA read.

Perfect for fans of Jenny Han’s The Summer I Turned Pretty and Huntley Fitzpatrick’s My Life Next Door, Juliana Romano's expressive debut is an absorbing and bittersweet story about first love, first loss, and the friends that carry us through it all.

Lima and Hailey have always been best friends: Lima shy and sensitive, Hailey funny and free-spirited. But Hailey abandons Lima to party with the popular kids and pursue Nate, her disinterested crush. As their friendship falters, Lima and Nate begin spending more time together. And before Lima knows what she’s feeling, she and Nate do something irreversible. Something that would hurt Hailey....if she knew it happened.

Lima thinks she’s saving her friendship by lying, but she’s only buying time. As the secrets stack up, Lima is forced to make a choice: between her best friend forever, and the boy who wasn’t meant to be hers.

First There Was Forever will be released on April 14, 2015. Click on the cover to go to the book's Goodreads page.

What book(s) do you "covet" this week?
Leave us a comment with a link so we can check your WoW of the week too.

"Books I Covet" is a weekly or bi-weekly blog post series we do here on Wednesdays. It will feature books we are very excited about reading and plan on buying/borrowing in the near future. It is basically the "Waiting On" meme hosted by Jill of Breaking the Spine, but we just like the title "books we covet" better. We will include the books' blurb, cover art, and/or release date if they're available.