Title: Magonia
Author: Maria Dahvana Headley
Pages 320
Publisher: HarperCollins
Published: April 28, 2015
Rating: 3/5

     Neil Gaiman’s Stardust meets John Green’s The Fault in Our Stars in this fantasy about a girl caught between two worlds... two races…and two destinies.
      Aza Ray is drowning in thin air. 
      Since she was a baby, Aza has suffered from a mysterious lung disease that makes it ever harder for her to breathe, to speak—to live. 
      So when Aza catches a glimpse of a ship in the sky, her family chalks it up to a cruel side effect of her medication. But Aza doesn't think this is a hallucination. She can hear someone on the ship calling her name.
       Only her best friend, Jason, listens. Jason, who’s always been there. Jason, for whom she might have more-than-friendly feelings. But before Aza can consider that thrilling idea, something goes terribly wrong. Aza is lost to our world—and found, by another. Magonia. 
       Above the clouds, in a land of trading ships, Aza is not the weak and dying thing she was. In Magonia, she can breathe for the first time. Better, she has immense power—and as she navigates her new life, she discovers that war is coming. Magonia and Earth are on the cusp of a reckoning. And in Aza’s hands lies the fate of the whole of humanity—including the boy who loves her. Where do her loyalties lie?

     Hello, readers! Today's book is one I've talked about in the past- one of my more recent book trailers featured Magonia as the subject. Now that I've got my hands on it, I have to say- not whatsoever what I was expecting, in both a good and bad way.
     We'll start with our protagonist, a girl with a name so strange she must be out of this world. She's been plagued with bad lungs all her life, due to being a denizen of the world of Magonia, whose air is equally unbreathable to those living below. She's aided through life by Jason, in which turns out to be quite the heartwarming relationship. They try to out-fact each other and have fun compensating for each other- it helps that Jason is off the wall in terms of conventional thinking. He's slightly rich and in touch with the dark side of the internet, which makes for a contrast once Aza heads up into the sky. Happily, everyone else on Earth is just as fun- but I can't say that for anyone on Magonia. All of them manage to be supremacist in their view of "drowners", and decide to explain nothing about Magonia to Aza despite their desperate need of her. Dai the first mate especially is unlikable, as the only thing going for him is a sad backstory about how humans ruined his home. Yeah, air pollution and acid rain is hurting their ecosystem and making their perfect world harder to live in. While it's a fair moral in and of itself, it's pushed much too hard to make it anything but annoying, along with the fact that the Magonians never reveal themselves to the humans in order to make a point, and never give a reason why they stay hidden. The setting itself shouldn't be frowned upon, however. The whole place feels very real, with the ships sailing around using flying animals and bird-people working the decks. Singing holding unimaginable power, but often only in a group? Eh, I can deal with that, even if it's stretching.
     While Magonia isn't all it's cracked up to be, the book is still interesting enough to hold my fancy for the length of it. And since the perspective shifts every now and then, you get a nice breather with the earthlings to keep you grounded. See you all on Friday!


    Hello readers! What do you know, another vacation book trailer! Except it seems that these loose teens are on a permanent vacation, for reasons only known to them. This week's trailer is pretty sweet, mostly from all the cool shots- that nearly-monotone narrator isn't helping much. It's pretty clear they wanted her to sound world-weary and sardonic, but she just sounds bored: "Best time of our lives. Woohoo." But she's drowned out by the story told:

      The good girl, the bad boy, the diva, the hustler, the rock star, and the nerd. Six teens legally liberated from parental control for six different reasons, all with one thing in common: something to hide. 
      Now they’re sharing a house in Venice Beach, acting like a family, and living their lies. No parents. No limits. No alibis. One witnessed a crime, another might be a murderer—and one’s been spying on them all.
      As they cling to a fantasy of freedom and slowly let down their guards, the past creeps up on them. And when one of them gets arrested, everyone’s carefully constructed facade comes crumbling down. 
      In this steamy, drama-filled series, relationships are tested and secrets revealed as lies threaten to destroy their perfect setup.

    Not so perfect, if you ask me. Who's got a job to pay for the house and food, or is the house abandoned and they just spruced it up a bit? And really, have these teens met before or did they all show up at the same abandoned house and fell in together? Pooling together some stolen or parent-given funds, fixing up a house- great bonding activities, there. Though even if they're all buddy-buddy, with new lives for everyone, I'm not going to trust anyone in there once the arrests start flying. But I'll figure it out in my own free time once the book is released on the 26th this month! See you all Monday!




The Porcupine of Truth by Bill Konigsberg
Release Date: May 26, 2015

Carson Smith is resigned to spending his summer in Billings, Montana, helping his mom take care of his father, a dying alcoholic he doesn't really know. Then he meets Aisha Stinson, a beautiful girl who has run away from her difficult family, and Pastor John Logan, who's long held a secret regarding Carson's grandfather, who disappeared without warning or explanation thirty years before. Together, Carson and Aisha embark on an epic road trip to find the answers that might save Carson's dad, restore his fragmented family, and discover the "Porcupine of Truth" in all of their lives.






Immaculate  by Katelyn Detweiler 
Release Date: May 26, 2015

Mina is seventeen. A virgin. And pregnant.
Mina is top of her class, girlfriend to the most ambitious guy in school, able to reason and study her way through anything. But when she suddenly finds herself pregnant—despite having never had sex—her orderly world collapses. Almost nobody believes Mina’s claims of virginity. Her father assumes that her boyfriend is responsible; her boyfriend believes she must have cheated on him. As news of Mina’s story spreads, there are those who brand her a liar. There are those who brand her a heretic. And there are those who believe that miracles are possible—and that Mina’s unborn child could be the greatest miracle of all.








Dime by E. R Frank
Release Date: May 26, 2015

As a teen girl in Newark, New Jersey, lost in the foster care system, Dime just wants someone to care about her, to love her. A family. And that is exactly what she gets—a daddy and two “wifeys.” So what if she has to go out and earn some coins to keep her place? It seems a fair enough exchange for love.
Dime never meant to become a prostitute. It happened so gradually, she pretty much didn’t realize it was happening until it was too late.
But when a new “wifey” joins the family and Dime finds out that Daddy doesn’t love her the way she thought he did, will Dime have the strength to leave? And will Daddy let her?


                  Title: Rose and Hugo                     Author:  Bridget Foley
  Pages: 352
 Publisher: St. Martin's Press
               Published: May 5, 2015                  Ranking: 3/5    

Rose is disappointed with her life, though she has no reason to be - she has a beautiful family and a perfectly nice house in the suburbs. But to Rose, this ordinary life feels overshadowed by her other life - the one she leads every night in her dreams. 

After a childhood accident, Rose's dreams take her to a wondrous island fraught with adventure. On this island, she has never been alone: she shares it with Hugo, a brave boy who's grown up with her into a hero of a man. 

But when Rose stumbles across Hugo in real life, both her real and dream worlds are changed forever. Here is the man who has shared all of her incredible adventures in impossible places, who grew up with her, even if they aren't what either one imagined. Their chance encounter begins a cascade of questions, lies, and a dangerous obsession that threatens to topple everything she knows. Is she willing to let go of everything she holds dear to understand their extraordinary connection? And will it lead her to discover who she truly wants to be?
Everything in life is a balancing act. You have to balance work and school and relaxation. You have to balance the ingredients while cooking dinner. You have to balance the number of pages you read when you sit down or you just might waste the entire day (not that I've mastered that balance yet. Books are a balancing act too. You need just the right combination of plot and characters and filler. Of suspense and relaxation and pizzaz. And while no one goes through a book expressly noting this balance, it is really obvious when it's missing.

This book never seemed to achieve the balance it so desperately needed.

And don't get me wrong, there were many good things about the novel. The idea of mixing dreams and reality was intriguing, Rose was, on the whole, sympathetic and likable, and the book managed to give in depth profiles to even the supporting characters, making the book seem real even with the fantastical elements. I managed to get through the book without becoming so bored that I set it down and had to force myself to pick it up again.

Unfortunately, these good things could get twisted when not in balance. The dream sequences came up far to often in the book for my taste and I found myself speeding through them because they felt childish and boring. My sympathy for  the minor characters made me disinclined to forgive Rose when she hurt one of them. Even the suspense the author attempted to create near the end felt forced and out of place. It was as if the book had completely lost its balance and tumbled into something else entirely.

Bad book? Not exactly. I enjoyed the main plot idea and even most of the characters but the execution of many of them just went amiss in many parts.

It might be a book suited to another's taste, but for me it was just ehhh.

--Sarah 


This book is a ARC given to me by Saint Martin's Press While I love getting free books and am eternally grateful to the author and the publisher, all above opinions are mine and mine alone. 

Both the synopsis of the book and the picture of its cover come from Amazon. I mean absolutely no copyright infringement and use both, with proper credit given, under fair use policies.   

Hello, readers! It's a late article today, but one you might want to check out. Today's trailer is a thirty-second piece about a human zoo- oh so subtly shown by the girl being in a cage and being watched by only humanoid creatures. The trailer is pretty enough, aside from the fact that the girl they pasted in looks a bit off and flat compared to the pretty background- but apparently she's good enough to be put on display:

The Maze Runner meets Scott Westerfeld in this gripping new series about teens held captive in a human zoo by an otherworldly race. From Megan Shepherd, the acclaimed author of The Madman's Daughtertrilogy.

When Cora Mason wakes in a desert, she doesn't know where she is or who put her there. As she explores, she finds an impossible mix of environments—tundra next to desert, farm next to jungle, and a strangely empty town cobbled together from different cultures—all watched over by eerie black windows. And she isn't alone.

Four other teenagers have also been taken: a beautiful model, a tattooed smuggler, a secretive genius, and an army brat who seems to know too much about Cora's past. None of them have a clue as to what happened, and all of them have secrets. As the unlikely group struggles for leadership, they slowly start to trust each other. But when their mysterious jailer—a handsome young guard called Cassian—appears, they realize that their captivity is more terrifying than they could ever imagine: Their captors aren't from Earth. And they have taken the five teenagers for an otherworldly zoo—where the exhibits are humans.

As a forbidden attraction develops between Cora and Cassian, she realizes that her best chance of escape might be in the arms of her own jailer—though that would mean leaving the others behind. Can Cora manage to save herself and her companions? And if so . . . what world lies beyond the walls of their cage?


Oh dear, an alien romance. Who's going to become a traitor to their own kind this time? Though I don't know what kind of zookeeper Cassian is that spends enough time in there to fall in love with Cora. Aren't there any other shifts for the darn thing, especially for how large it is? Shouldn't he just throw some food in, and at the most clean out the exhibit? Also, how would a zookeeper manage to have the resources to get even one of the specimen back across the galaxy- unless he has the keys to the spaceship.its bound to be an odd piece, so I'll be looking for this book out on May 26th! See you all on Monday!
Title: Since You've Been Gone
Author: Morgan Matson
Pages: 464
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
Published: May 6, 2014
Rating: 3/5

     The Pre-Sloane Emily didn't go to parties, she barely talked to guys, she didn't do anything crazy. Enter Sloane, social tornado and the best kind of best friend—the one who yanks you out of your shell. 
     But right before what should have been an epic summer, Sloane just… disappears. No note. No calls. No texts. No Sloane. There’s just a random to-do list. On it, thirteen Sloane-selected-definitely-bizarre-tasks that Emily would never try… unless they could lead back to her best friend.
     Apple Picking at Night? Okay, easy enough.
     Dance until Dawn? Sure. Why not?
     Kiss a Stranger? Um... 
     Getting through Sloane’s list would mean a lot of firsts. But Emily has this whole unexpected summer ahead of her, and the help of Frank Porter (totally unexpected) to check things off. Who knows what she’ll find?
     Go Skinny Dipping? Wait... What?

     Hello readers! Want another 'best summer ever' style of book? No? Well too bad, I've already read this one. But instead of a quirky protagonist trying to find something missing in her life, we have an introvert protagonist trying to find someone missing in her life. And while it does have its problems, the book is heartwarming enough to keep my interest and recommend it to anyone looking for a fun read.
     Emily, as opposed to most other teenage girl protagonists, has one of the most believable character developments I've ever seen- of course, that only includes the girls with near-realistic stories; Katniss Everdeen can go through as much 'realistic' trauma she wants and win us over, but it takes a good amount of skill to create the same development through the little things of life, like being the only one alone at a party or offering running lessons to the popular kid. You don't quite notice the changes until it's pointed out, as she simply becomes more involved without changing her personality. Unfortunately, the change is pointed out frequently enough to shove it down your throat. Her friend group also grows with the story, but them and other side characters are across the board in terms of quality: Frank is wonderful, even if his story can be seen from a mile away; Collins never really became likable to me, and while Dawn was a good character for most of the run, a blow up at the end soured her for me. Sloane is the opposite though- she was a bit off in the beginning, but with more flashbacks came more sympathy towards her. All the other characters don't quite get the necessary screen time, so they end up being a bit flatter. The list is, as noted above, the driving force of the plot, which both works for and against it. It is a fun list of things to do, and much of the list is specifically meant to cater to Emily's doubts. But the payoff of much of them is underwhelming, with a few passing by with barely a mention- even some of the mysterious ones!
    Since You've Been Gone has its ups, downs, and all arounds, but despite its flaws it holds up to a good read using its character development and backstories. See you all on Friday for the next article!
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