Kylie reviews The Girl Who Fell Beneath Fairyland and Led the Revels There

By Catherynne M. Valente
Published on October 2, 2012
Published by Fiewel and Friends
Source: Publisher

September has longed to return to Fairyland after her first adventure there. And when she finally does, she learns that its inhabitants have been losing their shadows—and their magic—to the world of Fairyland Below. This underworld has a new ruler: Halloween, the Hollow Queen, who is September’s shadow. And Halloween does not want to give Fairyland’s shadows back.
Fans of Valente’s bestselling, first Fairyland book will revel in the lush setting, characters, and language of September’s journey, all brought to life by fine artist Ana Juan. Readers will also welcome back good friends Ell, the Wyverary, and the boy Saturday. But in Fairyland Below, even the best of friends aren’t always what they seem. . . .

The Girl Who Fell Beneath Fairyland and Led the Revels There did not capture my attention at first.  Until I was about halfway through the book, I had to force myself to read it.  I think my problem was the information.  There was so much detail between the talking and action, which started to get repetitive.  Yet, when I got to a certain point, I couldn't put it down.  I had to know the ending.  As in Catherynne Valente’s first book in the Fairyland series, this installment did not quite end on a cliffhanger, nor did it completely wrap everything up.  I will definitely need to read the last book.

So at the start of the book we immediately are informed that September, the heroine of this series, is another year older.  Now a teenager, she has a heart.  A raw, sensitive heart which does not know its own strength.  Throughout the story we get to follow September’s heart growing and breaking, from when she has her first kiss to when she is betrayed for the very first time.  By the end of the book she has matured a bit, and takes initiative in her relationships. 

The point of this adventure was to bring the Shadows of September’s loved ones back to their flesh bodies from Fairyland-Below.  Because of this, there are a lot of new characters and we don’t see A-through-L or Saturday (her best friends from Fairyland-Above) until the end.  When our protagonist reunites with her partners, the book ends on a good note.

Despite this book lagging in some parts, when it wasn't slow it was very well written.  Things from the previous book and even random little things in this book connected.  Valente did a good job pointing out some things younger readers may not have picked up on.  Overall, this wasn't my favorite book, but I give it three out of five stars.

Heir of Fire

By Sarah J Maas
Published on September 2, 2014
Published by Bloomsbury
Source: Publisher
Lost and broken, Celaena Sardothien’s only thought is to avenge the savage death of her dearest friend: as the King of Adarlan’s Assassin, she is bound to serve this tyrant, but he will pay for what he did. Any hope Celaena has of destroying the king lies in answers to be found in Wendlyn. Sacrificing his future, Chaol, the Captain of the King’s Guard, has sent Celaena there to protect her, but her darkest demons lay in that same place. If she can overcome them, she will be Adarlan’s biggest threat – and his own toughest enemy.

While Celaena learns of her true destiny, and the eyes of Erilea are on Wendlyn, a brutal and beastly force is preparing to take to the skies. Will Celaena find the strength not only to win her own battles, but to fight a war that could pit her loyalties to her own people against those she has grown to love?
Gah this series!  It is killing me how good it is!  Heir of Fire started slow for me, mainly because I couldn't remember what had happened in the second book (Thank you Recaptains!). It took me a few chapters to get all the characters resorted out (especially since Celaena is somewhere new and meets all new characters.

Celaena is so fierce.  She is a "take no prisoners" sort of girl and I love how much we dive deep into her psyche in this book.  We learn the truth about Celaena's entire history and boy is it dramatic.  I have been so crazy about Celaena and Chaol this entire story, but to be honest.... someone new is on the scene, and although there is no love triangle that I can see- wowzers is that a deep relationship.

Look I will be honest, writing reviews for books that I am absolutely mad about is so hard- I don't want to give anything away!  So I will leave it at this.  If you haven't started this series yet- go get a cone of shame and put it on your head.  It is that good.

Amanda wonders what went wrong with Deliverance by CJ Redwine

By CJ Redwine
Published on August 26, 2014
Published by Balzer + Bray
Source: Publisher
Everything hangs in the balance, and nothing is certain: Rachel has been kidnapped by enemy forces and is being taken to Rowansmark while Logan, imprisoned and awaiting trial, is unable to leave Lankenshire. Separated from each other and their Baalboden comrades, each must find a way to achieve what they desperately want: to rid their world once and for all of the Commander and the tech that controls the deadly Cursed One.

Fighting through her pain and embracing the warrior she’s become, Rachel will do whatever it takes to escape her enemies’ clutches and join Logan in his fight. But when she learns a secret that changes everything, she realizes that escaping Ian and his tracker friends is no longer an option if she wants to save the people she loves. Instead, she’ll have to destroy Rowansmark from the inside out—if she can survive the journey through the Wasteland.

Logan needs allies if he wants to thwart Rowansmark’s power grab and rescue Rachel. But securing allies will mean betraying his beliefs and enlisting the help of the man he hates more than anyone: Commander Jason Chase. Driven by his fierce love for Rachel and his determination to make their world safe, Logan may be just the weapon the city-states need to defeat the Cursed One.

But as Rowansmark bears down and uneasy alliances are tested, will Rachel and Logan’s love for each other be enough to surmount the unbelievable odds against them?
Oh Deliverance.  I had a love and hate relationship with this book.  Let me give some background first.  When I read review books that are a part of a series- I usually have a year or year and half wait between books.  This either makes me anticipate the book even more, or in some cases, lose interest in the story.  The second book in this series was a powerhouse for me.  I remember feeling full of emotion and very tense as I was reading it.  This one, for the most part, was mild boredom.

Was this a good story?  Absolutely.  Did I have trouble connecting to it because I forgot what the store was about.  Yes.  (This is where the Recaptains usually get involved for me).  Rachel is a fierce fierce lady and I loved reading her story.  I think my real problem was Logan.  I really didn't care about him and didn't want to read the story from his voice.

I honestly can't remember if that was a problem I had in the other books in this series, but I have a sneaking suspicion that I felt pretty similarly about him in the other books.  It isn't that I don't like him- I do.  I just don't want to hear the story from his voice because he complains, worries, and whines too much.  I would have been happy to hear the story only from Rachel's P.O.V.

I will say that I enjoyed the climax of the storyline in this book.  There is a lot of fighting and a lot of bleeding in this book (much like the other books in the series.)  The author is masterful at writing fighting scenes and I really did enjoy reading them.

All in all Deliverance was a decent book.  It simply didn't have the explosiveness that I wanted out of the finale.

Jaime's Top Ten Tuesday!

Top Ten Tuesday hosted by The Broke and the Bookish

Oblivion by Kelly Creagh

The Stars Never Rise by Rachel Vincent

Lair of Dreams by Libba Bray

Razorhurst by Justine Larbalestier

The Glass Arrow  by Kristen Simmons

Red Queen by Victoria Aveyard

Ensnared by A.G. Howard

The Visitor by Amanda Stevens

The Dead List by Jennifer L. Armentrout

Lion Heart by A.C. Gaughen

Good gravy, this list feels incomplete! It IS incomplete. But I hope you enjoy it. I am still tapping away one-handed, so forgive me for another week of no explanations! I seriously hope next week I am typing like normal, at least a little bit! 

Sarah reviews To This Day: For the Bullied and Beautiful

By Shane Koyczan
Published on September 2nd 2014
Published by Annick Press
Source: Netgalley
An authentic rallying cry for anyone who has been affected by bullying.

In February 2013, Shane Koyczan's passionate anti-bullying poem "To This Day" electrified the world. An animated video of the lyric narrative went viral, racking up over 12 million hits to date and inspiring an international movement against bullying in schools. Shane later performed the piece to sustained applause on the stage of the 2013 annual TED Conference.

Now this extraordinary work has been adapted into an equally moving and visually arresting book. Thirty international artists, as diverse as they are talented, have been inspired to create exceptional art to accompany "To This Day." Each page is a vibrant collage of images, colors and words that will resonate powerfully with anyone who has experienced bullying themselves, whether as a victim, observer, or participant.

Born of Shane's own experiences of being bullied as a child, "To This Day" expresses the profound and lasting effect of bullying on an individual, while affirming the strength and inner resources that allow people to move beyond the experience. A heartfelt preface and afterword, along with resources for kids affected by bullying, make this book an invaluable centerpiece of the anti-bullying movement.
Like the summary says, To This Day is the book adaptation of a spoken word piece/music video that made the internet rounds last year. I remember seeing it posted a few times on Tumblr, but it took me a while to get around to it, because it's about 7 minutes long and I have the attention span of a very fidgety small child sometimes.

Of course, when I finally watched it, I was definitely moved to tears by the poem. Even reading it now, I get a little choked up, because it describes what so many people I know went through, what so many people still endure today.   To This Day is a powerful look at bullying and the way it effects people long after the last insult, the last practical joke. The poem definitely resonated with me, no matter what format I experience it in.

I like the fact that To This Day doesn't just blindly trot out the "it gets better" line. Sometimes, it is a long, uphill battle to "better", and sometimes you're carrying baggage from the many ways, small and big, that people have hurt you over the course of your life.

Check this book out -- each two-page spread is illustrated by a different artist, in the same way that the video was animated by many different artists. For any other project, this would feel disjointed, but something like this, it's meaningful - I think it makes the message more universal, to show how so many people experience and can identify with the book's topics.

You can read the poem online, you can watch the video on Youtube, and I would highly recommend picking up the book version.  This is a great, quick read for people of all ages, and I think could start some great discussions between teens and parents.  And for any adult still trying to heal from the way you were treated -- by peers, by family, by complete strangers -- please pick this one up. You are not alone.


Crystalee reviews The Fourteenth Goldfish

The Fourteenth Goldfish
By Jennifer L. Holm
Published on August 26 2014
Published by Random House Books for Young Readers
Source: Net Galley 
Galileo. Newton. Salk. Oppenheimer. Science can change the world . . . but can it go too far?

Eleven-year-old Ellie has never liked change. She misses fifth grade. She misses her old best friend. She even misses her dearly departed goldfish. Then one day a strange boy shows up. He’s bossy. He’s cranky. And weirdly enough . . . he looks a lot like Ellie’s grandfather, a scientist who’s always been slightly obsessed with immortality. Could this pimply boy really be Grandpa Melvin? Has he finally found the secret to eternal youth?

With a lighthearted touch and plenty of humor, Jennifer Holm celebrates the wonder of science and explores fascinating questions about life and death, family and friendship, immortality . . . and possibility
When Ellie's grandfather (a mad scientist-type) discovers the secret to staying young and turns himself into a teenage boy, her family suddenly finds itself with a unexpected house guest. Melvin looks like a teenage boy but dresses like Grandpa. He goes to school with Ellie, but grumbles about not being mentioned in the science textbooks. When he convinces Ellie and her new friend to help him steal his secret project from his lab, hilarity ensues. The Fourteenth Goldfish is yet another hilarious, action-packed middle grade novel that both boys and girls will enjoy.

Along with the fun, this book also does a great job at introducing science to girls. As Ellie bonds with her grandpa, she learns about scientists like Salk, Oppenheimer and Marie Curie. She learns to use a microscope and think scientifically. She thinks critically about scientific discoveries in the past and eventually comes to a conclusion about how her grandpa's secret project might affect the world.

I really appreciated how the book was essentially a metaphor for coming to terms with life and death, in a child-friendly way. Ellie has had thirteen pet goldfish die on her, her grandmother has died, her grandfather wishes to be immortal, and Ellie's relationship with her best friend is coming to an end. Little details that add to this theme also made this a book I could appreciate as an adult as well.

I didn't really like the end, but I also don't know how else it could have ended. What do you do with a grandpa stuck in a fourteen-year-old's body? Does he find a way to age himself again? Does he start over as a teenager and correct his past mistakes? At least Ellie seems to have grown, and does the ending hint at a new beginning for her as well?

Amanda says good-bye to The Best Books Ever

Man, how do I even begin? Well I am sure that the title made you a bit curious about this post, but it is true. This will be one of my last posts for The Best Books Ever.

I started this blog over 4 years ago- first on live journal, then on blogger, and finally moving to being self- hosted. It has been my third baby for these years and I am ready to say that it is time to part ways. I originally started this blog when I was pregnant with my first son and then really took off with it when I became a stay at home mom. It has been my source of sanity for many rough days that I have been through.

I have always been a big reader. I have read so many stacks of books that libraries simply couldn't keep up with me. As I began blogging I started tracking my books- I would read almost (and sometimes more than) 200 books a year! Can you imagine that?

 Blogging is so much work. There were some weeks that between html work, review writing, graphic making, blog commenting, and promoting I did enough work that it could have been a full-time job. That never sat well with me. I wanted to have a successful, well-put together job, but the idea of burning out because of a hobby seemed... well... stupid. I expanded rapidly- asking Sarah to join me and then Ericka, Kaleena, Crystalee, Alex and most recently Marcey and Kylie. Although they have taken over a major amount of the work- my own part seemed to be never ending, and I never seemed to be able to keep up. I have always told myself that I wouldn't let this blog become a burden. Somehow, it did for me.

I have a new full-time job again, and my time as a stay at home mom is ending. It is time. I feel only peace about it. I will be passing all social media on to other members of the blog (no worries- they will stay the same, YOU have to do nothing). I am excited for where the site is going. There are many good things ahead for The Best Books Ever!

Thank you all. Thank you for reading this site- I never knew people would actually be interested in anything I had to say. Thank you for being so fun and such an encouragement to me. As many days as I thought the blogging community was absolutely wacko, I also thought that there were people that I am so thankful I have met that have absolutely blessed my life.

I am so thankful that I can call a variety of authors friends. I will miss our talks, but I know we will keep in contact.

Well, that is it for me. I do still have posts scheduled ahead until October- Sarah will be handling that. Thank you for reading and please support the rest of the Best Book Ever bloggers. They will still be here offering fantastic reviews and content. They are wonderful friends and I will be sure to hop back on the site as a reader, instead of a writer! I am looking forward to seeing how BBE will change and how it will stay the same.  I know the site has a long life ahead, and although I am a smidge jealous that I won't be part of it- I know it will be fabulous.

If you want to keep in contact with me, I will be happy to chat through Goodreads where I will remain active. If you want my personal Facebook page, you are welcome to request it through the blog email oneminutebooks at gmail dot com.

May God bless you all,
Amanda Coranne

Storm Siren

By Mary Weber
Published on August 19, 2014
Published by Thomas Nelson
Source: Publisher
“I raise my chin as the buyers stare. Yes. Look. You don’t want me. Because, eventually, accidentally, I will destroy you.”

In a world at war, a slave girl’s lethal curse could become one kingdom’s weapon of salvation. If the curse—and the girl—can be controlled.

As a slave in the war-weary kingdom of Faelen, seventeen-year-old Nym isn’t merely devoid of rights, her Elemental kind are only born male and always killed at birth — meaning, she shouldn’t even exist.

Standing on the auction block beneath smoke-drenched mountains, Nym faces her fifteenth sell. But when her hood is removed and her storm-summoning killing curse revealed, Nym is snatched up by a court advisor and given a choice: be trained as the weapon Faelen needs to win the war, or be killed.

Choosing the former, Nym is unleashed into a world of politics, bizarre parties, and rumors of an evil more sinister than she’s being prepared to fight . . . not to mention the handsome trainer whose dark secrets lie behind a mysterious ability to calm every lightning strike she summons.

But what if she doesn’t want to be the weapon they’ve all been waiting for?

Set in a beautifully eclectic world of suspicion, super abilities, and monsters, Storm Siren is a story of power. And whoever controls that power will win.
This book was a mixed bag for me. It started strong, lagged in the middle and then threw a massive shocker at me at the end.

I like Nym.  I thought she was strong, damaged, and the slightest bit crazy.  She had a hard time overcoming her emotions and calming the storm inside her self.  I wasn't a fan of her love relationship in this book.  I felt like we weren't given a good picture of how it developed.  I appreciate that the author took it slowly, but it was a bit too vague to make it completely believable.  Especially when certain revelations were made- I just didn't buy it  I wanted to, but I just couldn't.

The action in this book was awesome, and I hope the sequel will focus more on Nym's powers and the mythology behind the entire world that has been created.  There are a ton of unanswered questions and I can't wait to read it to find out what happens as the author expands this world.

All in all, the action was great, the powers were great, but I wasn't a fan of the love story in this book.  A good read, but not a favorite.

We are giving away a zombie book! US/ CA Contaminated 2: Mercy Mode

By Em Garner
Published on August 26, 2014
Published by Egmont USA
A gripping survival story, the second in a series by a best-selling author, of a strong girl rebuilding her life in a post-apocalyptic society where a contaminated drink makes victims act like zombies; just right for fans of James Dashner, Carrie Ryan, and The Walking Dead.

Seventeen-year-old Velvet, her little sister, Opal, their mom, who is recovering from the Contamination, and Velvet's sweet boyfriend, Dillon, are attempting to build a new life amid the rationing and regulations of the post-outbreak nation. But the outbreak isn't over: more people turning into "Connies," more madness erupting, more killings occurring. And what they are being told is not the truth; the truth is far darker and more threatening.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

 Thank you to Egmont for providing this giveaway!