Armchair BEA 2014: Day 5: Middle Grade/Young Adult/New Adult

armchair bea 2014

Design by Amber of Shelf Notes

Middle Grade:

I don’t read a lot of Middle Grade yet, but I’m starting to read more. It’s fun, and usually doesn’t have a lot of romance (yay!) My favorite, favorite middle grade series would be Percy Jackson by Rick Riordan.

Young Adult:

Young Adult is primarily what I read. Currently there are 200+ young adult book reviews on the blog. I think I like this genre the most because anything goes. It’s more of an identifier than a genre, since you’ve got young adult romance, young adult fantasy, young adult historical fiction, etc. etc. But I like the creativity that comes out of young adult. I mean, where else would you find a dystopian version of The Wizard of Oz, or a Greek/Roman myth inspired version of Beauty and the Beast?

I’m often critical of the content in young adult, particularly the romantic relationships. I’m so tired of the insta-love/insta-lust tropes, and the love triangle tropes. I know people say teens are like that, but you know what? Not all of them are. I certainly wasn’t, so I would like to see books that portray romance in ways other than what’s popular, so kids like me can see themselves too. But that’s a topic for a longer discussion.

New Adult:

I’m mentioning New Adult quickly because I saw on a couple other posts this week that a lot of people don’t understand what it is, or don’t see a need for it. First, I invite you to check out New Adult Alley, one of the best sources for information on authors, publishers, topics, and New Adult books.

New Adult is a newish genre, but it’s one I’m really excited about. When I was in my earlier twenties, I would have loved more transition between young adult and adult novels. Now, I’m generalizing, but adult novels to me usually mean the characters are going through marriage or divorce or something like that. Yes, I know there’s more to it, but I’m mentioning that because New Adult talks about the messy relationships that come between first crushes/loves (Young Adult) and the steps of marriage/divorce/etc.

Right now, New Adult is kind of sticking to extremely troubled main characters who have undeniable attractions to each other. Or it’s thinly veiled erotica. All of which is fine, but I do hope to see New Adult grow. New Adult reads I’d recommend (that go beyond that) are: BUNHEADS by Sophie Flack and FIGHTING FOR THE EDGE by Jennifer Comeaux.

A lot of my own ideas fit into the New Adult age bracket/experiences, so I’m hoping it sticks around for that too!

I’ve done a post in the past for top ten things on my reading list. What would you like to see more of in these genres?

– leeanna

Book Review: Dancing Through It by Jenifer Ringer

Book Review: Dancing Through It by Jenifer RingerDancing Through It by Jenifer Ringer
Published by Viking on February 20, 2014
Genres: Memoir
Pages: 288
Format: eARC
Source: NetGalley
Goodreads
3 Stars
A behind-the-curtains look at the rarefied world of classical ballet from a principal dancer at the New York City Ballet.

In her charming and self-effacing voice, Jenifer Ringer covers the highs and lows of what it’s like to make it to the top in the exclusive, competitive ballet world. From the heart-pounding moments waiting in the wings before a performance to appearing on Oprah to discuss weight and body image among dancers, Dancing Through It is moving and revelatory.

Raised in South Carolina, Ringer led a typical kid’s life until she sat in on a friend’s ballet class, an experience that would change her life forever. By the age of twelve she was enrolled at the elite Washington School of Ballet and soon moved to the School of American Ballet. At sixteen she was a professional dancer at the New York City Ballet in Manhattan, home of the legendary George Balanchine and Jerome Robbins.

Ringer takes us inside the dancer’s world, detailing a typical day, performance preparation, and the extraordinary pressures that these athletes face. Ringer shares exhilarating stories of starring in Balanchine productions, working with the famous Peter Martins, and of meeting her husband and falling in love at the New York City Ballet. Ringer also talks candidly of Alistair Macauley’s stinging critique of her weight in his 2010 New York Times review of The Nutcracker that ignited a public dialogue about ballet and weight. She unflinchingly describes her personal struggles with eating disorders and body image, and shares how her faith helped her to heal and triumph over these challenges.

Book Review:

DANCING THROUGH IT is the memoir of Jenifer Ringer, a principal dancer with the New York City Ballet. I hadn’t heard of her, nor seen her perform, but I’m always on the hunt for books about ballet.

The book did succeed in that aspect for me. There’s tons and tons of information on ballet, dancing, training, a dancer’s daily life, the different ballets and choreographers, the adrenaline rush of performing, and so on. I really enjoyed the glimpse into a working ballerina’s life, from the benefits to the sacrifices. I found all of it absolutely fascinating, and did think that Jenifer Ringer described ballet in a way a non-dancer could understand. She also answered a lot of questions, such as what happens when a dancer falls or forgets choreography.

But what I didn’t like about DANCING THROUGH IT was the heavy emphasis on faith. I’d say the book is split 50/50 between ballet and faith. I’m not a religious person, but I understand other people have their beliefs. However, when Jenifer mentioned God or praised him for what she had in what felt like every paragraph, it got to be too much for me.

Overall, the book is good for information about ballet, but not as interesting as it could be due to the emphasis on religion.

– leeanna

Armchair BEA 2014: Day 3: Expanding Blogging Horizons & Novellas

armchair bea 2014

Design by Amber of Shelf Notes

Expanding Blogging Horizons:

Here’s the funny thing about expanding my blogging horizons. I’m always thinking about it. Ideally, I see my blog as a jumping point for more things, such as launching a writing career, getting back into web design, or even using it to find freelance work or launch a social media empire. (Yes, sometimes I have delusions of having an empire. Emperor Palpatine had the right idea!) Or something as simple as posting more types of things to the blog, although I’m not sure where the line is for too much non-book content.

But I never quite get around to any of it.

Usually I’m too busy with other stuff, but sometimes I just don’t have the motivation. Sometimes I do feel insecure as a blogger and think, “what’s the point?” Yeah, I feel a bit silly for admitting it, but I think we’ve all been there.

Now that I think about it, some of those ideas, such as posting about diy projects or geeky interests or fitness might be the very thing that makes my blog stand out… Hah.

So! How do you keep yourself motivated to expand your blogging horizons? And to actually follow through?


Novellas:

I’ll admit, I’m not really a fan of short stories. If I’m going to read something, I want at least 200 pages so I can really sink into a story, characters, and the world. Preferably more pages. Yes, I am a greedy reader :D

I’m not sure what I think about the newish trend to publish novellas for popular series. I’ve read only one, PHOENIX OVERTURE because I absolutely love the Newsoul series. I know Marissa Meyer has written novellas for The Lunar Chronicles, but I haven’t checked them out yet. And there are tons of others, of course.

I’ve talked before on my blog about wanting to be an author. If you’re new here, I write a lot of fanfic, but I’d like to move beyond that and publish original work. Ironically enough … I think I’d start with novellas. Yeah. I’m crazy, in case you haven’t figured that out.

So, what do you think of novellas? I know some readers love ‘em, some hate ‘em, and some are indifferent.


– leeanna

Book Review: Sekret (Sekret #1) by Lindsay Smith

Book Review: Sekret (Sekret #1) by Lindsay SmithSekret by Lindsay Smith
Series: Sekret #1
Published by Roaring Brook Press on April 1, 2014
Genres: Historical Fiction, Paranormal, Young Adult
Pages: 337
Format: ARC
Source: Amazon Vine, NetGalley
Goodreads
2 Stars
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.

Book Review:

On the surface, I should have loved SEKRET. Historical fiction + science fiction? Check. Teenagers with supernatural powers? Check. A real life dystopia? Check. But something about SEKRET just didn’t work for me.

Yulia is able to sense thoughts and memories through touch. It’s a secret ability that’s helped her survive as a fugitive in Communist Russia. But that ability draws the interest of the KGB, and at the start of the book, she’s kidnapped and forced to work for the KGB as a psychic spy. If she doesn’t cooperate, her mother and brother will pay the price.

She’s not the only one with special abilities. After the KGB takes her, she lives with a group of other teens who have abilities such as remote viewing and seeing the future. They are supposed to thwart the CIA’s attempts to steal plans for the Soviet Union’s attempt (Veter I) at orbiting the moon.

SEKRET just didn’t hold my interest. At the halfway point, I thought about restarting the book, because I was sure I’d missed something important. I hadn’t, but I felt that way because of how slowly the story progressed. I also spent some of that time confused, as the use of powers didn’t always make sense/was inconsistent. For example, Yulia works through touch, but somehow she’s able to tap into another character’s remote viewing of a room, and read an object she’s not physically touching. Another example: Yulia and Valentin are somehow able to communicate telepathically, without Yulia touching Valentin. But she couldn’t speak telepathically with anyone else.

I did appreciate that the author gave some background on the Cold War and the Soviet Union Yulia lives in. I read another YA book that was set during the Cold War, but it didn’t set the scene at all. So I did like that part of SEKRET. I do wish I’d gotten to see more of Yulia’s life before the KGB took her, but I’ll take what I can get.

The training and missions were interesting, but Yulia and her comrades didn’t spend a lot of time on that. The book just kind of floats around, going from the Veter I thing to the CIA hunting down the psychics to Yulia trying to escape. Yeah, in a house full of mind readers, she tries to plan an escape. *headdesk* SEKRET was very convoluted for me.

Socialize with the author:

Lindsay Smith:
Website
Twitter

– leeanna

Armchair BEA 2014: Day 2: Author Interaction

armchair bea 2014

Design by Amber of Shelf Notes

Author Interaction:

I haven’t actually met any authors in real life, because I live in a rural area of the country and no one ever comes here. Author tours rarely hit up Ohio, and if they do, it’s usually in Cincinnati, which is a 12 hour roundtrip drive. To be honest, it doesn’t really bother me, because I’m not much of an events person.

I have connected a bit with authors on Twitter, mostly tagging them in links for good reviews, saying I’m reading their books, or asking a quick question.

I’ve always wanted to do more, though. Send an email when a book really affects me, or I want to just say thank you to an author for writing something. But I’ve never done it. Something always holds me back.

What about you?

– leeanna

Book Review: Expiration Day by William Campbell Powell

Book Review: Expiration Day by William Campbell PowellExpiration Day by William Campbell Powell
Published by Tor Teen on April 22, 2014
Genres: Science Fiction, Young Adult
Pages: 336
Format: ARC
Source: Amazon Vine, NetGalley
Goodreads
5 Stars
What happens when you turn eighteen and there are no more tomorrows?

It is the year 2049, and humanity is on the brink of extinction….

Tania Deeley has always been told that she’s a rarity: a human child in a world where most children are sophisticated androids manufactured by Oxted Corporation. When a decline in global fertility ensued, it was the creation of these near-perfect human copies called teknoids that helped to prevent the utter collapse of society.

Though she has always been aware of the existence of teknoids, it is not until her first day at The Lady Maud High School for Girls that Tania realizes that her best friend, Siân, may be one. Returning home from the summer holiday, she is shocked by how much Siân has changed. Is it possible that these changes were engineered by Oxted? And if Siân could be a teknoid, how many others in Tania’s life are not real?

Driven by the need to understand what sets teknoids apart from their human counterparts, Tania begins to seek answers. But time is running out. For everyone knows that on their eighteenth “birthdays,” teknoids must be returned to Oxted—never to be heard from again.

Book Review:

EXPIRATION DAY is the YA science fiction book I’ve been looking for. I would actually recommend it for teens and adults alike, since I think it has a wide audience. When I finished the book, I really wished I had someone to talk about it with, since it’s a book that’s stayed in my mind for a couple of weeks.

Essentially, EXPIRATION DAY explores what it means to be human. There’s not any complicated science to understand, which I appreciated, since it can be really easy to get caught up with new technology or a new world and overlook the main issues. Written in diary format, the book tells the story of Tania Deeley, from age eleven to eighteen. Tania lives in a world where very, very few children are born. To help prevent social collapse, Oxted Corporation came up with the genius idea of loaning childless couples robot babies. The robots are practically impossible to distinguish from normal humans, but at eighteen, they are returned to Oxted.

Here’s the thing about EXPIRATION DAY that really got to me, and why I enjoyed it so much. Normally, the kind of stuff Tania does as she’s growing up, from taking a vacation with her parents to figuring out how to date to learning to play the guitar — that doesn’t really interest me. I don’t read a lot of contemporary fiction because I like to venture into new worlds. But because Tania herself questioned what it means to be a human or a robot, I started to think about that too.

Are robots capable of creating original music or poetry? What does it mean to create something? Would a robot’s behavior change if it knew it was a robot? What’s the importance of teenage lust and crushes? Other than the human-like robots, and living in a world changed by war, Tania’s life is pretty normal. So it makes you consider how much influence “normal” human experiences have.

EXPIRATION DAY isn’t packed with action or adventure. I would have liked more worldbuilding, because the world Tania lives in sounded fascinating, but otherwise, there’s nothing I didn’t like about it. As I said at the start of my review, it’s a book that’s stayed in my head, and I know I’ll enjoy rereading it in the future and pondering what it means to be human.

Let’s talk about it:

Do you like your science fiction packed full of new technology/science/new stuff, or easier to comprehend?

Socialize with the author:

William Campbell Powell:
Website

– leeanna

Armchair BEA 2014: Day 1: Introductions

armchair bea 2014

Design by Amber of Shelf Notes

I know I haven’t been very active the past couple of months, but once I saw a mention for Armchair BEA 2014 on Twitter, I knew it was the perfect way to kickoff getting back into blogging. This is my third year doing Armchair BEA, and it’s one of my favorite blogging events. This year I’m hoping to meet some new blogging friends, maybe even some writing friends, and check out a lot of new blogs.

Please tell us a little bit about yourself: Who are you? How long have you been blogging? Why did you get into blogging? Where in the world are you blogging from? 

leeannaMy name is Leeanna, which is pretty obvious from my blog’s name. When I happened to find out that leeanna.me was available a couple of years ago, I just couldn’t resist. I think it’s unique, but I do have the same problem I have in real life — not everyone spells it properly.

I originally got into book blogging because I used to write book reviews for a newspaper, and I missed it. That blog lasted about 6 months, but I wasn’t involved in the community at all, so it was a lonely endeavor. A year or so later I found the book blogosphere, so I started back up. That was in February 2012, and while I’ve had periods of inactivity due to real life stuff, I think I’ll be blogging for a long time to come.

As for location, I’m in the US, in Ohio. Anyone else hail from NE Ohio?


Describe your blog in just one sentence. Then, list your social details — Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, etc. — so we can connect more online. 

One sentence, that’s a bit tricky, but I’ll go with: Leeanna.me: A Little Bit of Everything.

I read a wide variety of genres, from young adult to science fiction to a bit of romance. For a long time, I’ve also been thinking about expanding my book blog to be more personal and to include some posts on other interests of mine, from finance to writing to geek diy and so on.

Social:

Twitter: @leaflette
Bloglovin: ♥♥♥♥♥
Goodreads: leeannadotme
Instagram: leeannadotme


What genre do you read the most? I love to read because ___________________ .

I read almost every genre, except mystery, horror, or western. But if a book in one of those catches my eye, it’s fair game.

I read because I literally don’t know what I would do if I didn’t. Ever since I could read, I’ve had a book in hand, and that will never change. I love to read because it’s an escape, an adventure, a way to learn, etc.


Share your favorite book or reading related quote. 

My favorite quote comes from HARRY POTTER AND THE DEATHLY HALLOWS: “It’s real for us.” —Severus Snape


And that’s it! See ya’ll tomorrow.

– leeanna

Book Review: The Tyrant’s Daughter by J.C. Carleson

Book Review: The Tyrant’s Daughter by J.C. CarlesonThe Tyrant's Daughter by J.C. Carleson
Published by Knopf Books for Young Readers on February 11, 2014
Genres: Contemporary, Young Adult
Pages: 304
Format: ARC
Source: Amazon Vine
Goodreads
4 Stars
When her father is killed in a coup, 15-year-old Laila flees from the war-torn middle east to a life of exile and anonymity in the U.S. Gradually she adjusts to a new school, new friends, and a new culture, but while Laila sees opportunity in her new life, her mother is focused on the past. She’s conspiring with CIA operatives and rebel factions to regain the throne their family lost. Laila can’t bear to stand still as an international crisis takes shape around her, but how can one girl stop a conflict that spans generations?

Book Review:

I started reading THE TYRANT’S DAUGHTER while I was waiting on an appointment. I got so into the book that I barely noticed I ended up waiting for over two hours. I was almost disappointed to go to the appointment, because by that point, I would rather have kept reading!

Laila doesn’t know what’s true or false anymore. There, in an unknown third world country, she was raised as royalty. Her father was the king, and her younger brother the prince. Here, she lives in a tiny apartment outside of Washington D.C. with her mother and brother, rescued by the U.S. government after her father was killed in a coup. THE TYRANT’S DAUGHTER is her story of discovering what really happened there, how it affects what happens here, and what her future is.

On one hand, the book is an easy read, full of American experiences from prom to making out in cars to Starbucks trips. But don’t let that fool you, because Laila’s story is much deeper than that. Yes, she has more freedom than she’s ever had, and is getting to do things she never would have done there, but is the cost of that freedom worth the truth? Is it worth learning that your father was actually a dictator, and that dissenters were tortured under his rule?

THE TYRANT’S DAUGHTER is a book that made me think, and Laila’s story will stay with me for a while. I think the book does a really good job exploring the power of one person, and how decisions big and small can influence events. My only criticism, and the reason I rated the book 4 stars instead of 5 stars, is that I almost missed the big twist. I understand why it was written the way it was, but I wish more time had been paid to the big event, considering some of the detail that went into less important passages. At the end, I was a bit confused and wanted to know exactly what happened, and what might happen in the future.

Socialize with the author:

J.C. Carleson:
Website

– leeanna

Blog Tour: Kissed (The Thorn Chronicles #1) by Kimberly Loth

kissed by kimberly loth blog tour

Welcome to my stop on the tour for KISSED by Kimberly Loth. The tour is hosted by Itching For Books and you can visit all the stops here. Today I have an excerpt from the book and a tour-wide giveaway.

kissed by kimberly lothInfo:
Title: Kissed
Author: Kimberly Loth
Release Date: April 1, 2014
Publisher: Self-Published
Series: The Thorn Chronicles #1
Genre: Paranormal Romance
Page Count: 250

Summary:

Trapped in a dark cult, sixteen-year-old Naomi Aren has lived a quiet, albeit unhappy, life nestled deep in the hills of the Ozarks. With uncut hair, denim skirts, and only roses for friends, Naomi seldom questions why her life is different from other kids at school. Until the day her abusive father, who is also the cult’s leader, announces her wedding. Naomi must marry Dwayne Yerdin, a bully who reeks of sweat and manure and is the only one person who scares her worse than her father.

Then she meets Kai, the mysterious boy who brings her exotic new roses and stolen midnight kisses. Kisses that bring her a supernatural strength she never knew she had. As the big day approaches, Naomi unearths more secrets of about her father’s cult. She learns she has power of her own and while Kai may have awakened that power, Naomi must find a way to use it to escape Dwayne and her father—without destroying herself. (summary from goodreads)

Excerpt:

“See,” my father said, “she’s obedient.”

Mr. Yerdin grinned. “Yes, of course she is. I wouldn’t expect anything less from you, Dr. Aren. Dwayne, what do you think?”

Dwayne shrugged and shifted his eyes. Me, I kept my mouth shut and listened for the words that weren’t being said.

Mr. Yerdin eyed me up and down. “Well she certainly has the required blond hair and blue eyes.”

“And she’s a virgin.” My father spoke this a little too loudly and I flinched. My mother paused before picking up Mr. Yerdin’s plate. She met my father’s eyes and nodded. Then the corners of her mouth turned up ever so slightly.

My stomach sank at the thought of what my birthday surprise would be. Although part of me did not want to hear the rest of the conversation, but to escape back into the quiet world of flowers and dirt, another part of me needed to know what my future held, where being a virgin was important.

I cleared my throat. Dwayne smiled a wide toothy smile and my father glowered like I’d done something wrong. Which, of course, I had, but it would be worth the punishment if I got the answers I needed.

“Could someone please explain?” There. I asked the question. So out of character for me and yet satisfying in a strange way, like the way I felt when a teacher praised me for a good job. I bit my bottom lip and tasted butterscotch, which was weird because the cake we had, contained nothing of the sort. While I knew asking questions was not an act of disobedience, I also recognized the power in the asking. As if I was taking control, even if that control was small. I took a sip of my water. Father hesitated for a moment and then frowned. He looked up and saw my mother standing in the kitchen, her eyes boring into his. He didn’t look away from her when he answered me.

“You’ll be marrying Dwayne.”

From Chapter 1

Giveaway:

a Rafflecopter giveaway

*giveaway is tour-wide

About the author:

author kimberly lothKimberly Loth can’t decide where she wants to settle down. She’s lived in Michigan, Illinois, Missouri, Utah, California, Oregon, and South Carolina. She finally decided to make the leap and leave the U.S. behind for a few years. Currently, she lives in Cairo, Egypt with her husband and two kids.

She is a high school math teacher by day (please don’t hold that against her) and YA author by night. She loves romantic movies, chocolate, roses, and crazy adventures. Kissed is her first novel.
Website
Facebook
Twitter

– leeanna

Book Review: The Sentinel (The Sundering #5) by Troy Denning

Book Review: The Sentinel (The Sundering #5) by Troy DenningThe Sentinel by Troy Denning
Series: Forgotten Realms, The Sundering
Published by Wizards of the Coast on April 1, 2014
Genres: Fantasy
Pages: 304
Format: eARC
Source: NetGalley
Goodreads
1 Stars
In the fifth book of the multi-author Sundering series, New York Times best-selling author Troy Denning sends an embittered paladin, Kleef Kenric, on a quest to stop evil forces from taking advantage of the chaos rolling across the land of Faerûn and claiming dominion over the entirety of the Realms.

Stubbornly clinging to his family’s worship of a long-forgotten god, Kleef Kenric soon discovers that his god has blessed him with divine gifts, making him one of a new group of Chosen cropping up around the Realms. This divine gift makes him an excellent ally—and a target for those who wish corral his powers.

After battling his way out Marsember, a city besieged on all sides in the wake of the Sundering, he becomes swept up in the mission of a group of odd allies—a warrior noblewoman, an accomplished thief, and a mysterious short pudgy man exuding a faint odor of decay. With the forces of Shade tracking their every step, they travel to the Underdark to thwart the rise of the goddess of Death, but before long Kleef learns that his allies hide dangerous secrets—secrets that could destroy not only Kleef but the very fabric of the Forgotten Realms.

Book Review:

I’ve enjoyed the first four books of The Sundering series: THE COMPANIONS (R.A. Salvatore), THE GODBORN (Paul S. Kemp), THE ADVERSARY (Erin M. Evans), and THE REAVER (Richard Lee Byers). But number five, THE SENTINEL, just didn’t have the same shine for me as the previous books.

Kleef, a topsword in the Marsember Watch in Cormyr, rescues Joelle and Malik from the Shadovar. Joelle and Malik are Chosen, on a mission to save Toril from Shar by using the Eye of Gruumsh. Along with Arietta, a noble of Cormyr, they fight across Faerûn, on the run from the Shadovar and legions of orcs. Along the way, attempts to trust each other are stalled by back stabbing, and no one is sure of anyone’s true intentions.

I’m having a hard time reviewing THE SENTINEL because it’s hard to say much about it. It seemed like I was reading a D&D game put into book format rather than a book about the Sundering. I didn’t come to care about any of the characters, the action scenes were snooze fests, and the story as a whole? I’m not sure what I read, to be honest. The ending left me confused, and I wish I’d given up on this book when it took me four tries to start it.

– leeanna