Thursday, October 18, 2012

Book Review | Ashen Winter by Mike Mullin

Ashen Winter is the much anticipated sequel to Mike Mullin's Ashfall.

Book Description

It’s been over six months since the eruption of the Yellowstone supervolcano. Alex and Darla have been staying with Alex’s relatives, trying to cope with the new reality of the primitive world so vividly portrayed in Ashfall, the first book in this series. It’s also been six months of waiting for Alex’s parents to return from Iowa. Alex and Darla decide they can wait no longer and must retrace their journey into Iowa to find and bring back Alex’s parents to the tenuous safety of Illinois. But the landscape they cross is even more perilous than before, with life-and-death battles for food and power between the remaining communities. When the unthinkable happens, Alex must find new reserves of strength and determination to survive.

I read Ashfall last year and loved it. (You can read my review of Ashfall here if you'd like.) Ashen Winter takes place shortly after the events in Ashfall. Due to the eruption of the Yellowstone supervolcano and the resulting volcanic winter, the temperatures have dropped to below freezing and Alex's world is even harsher than it was in Ashfall.

The action in this series is immediate and non-stop. Some events I found to be a bit unbelievable, but it was still a really fun read. I wish I had been able to read this as a readalong. It's the kind of book you can go on and on about with your friends. The main characters are very likeable. Alex is a nice guy and Darla is a badass, but they both do some pretty boneheaded things.

Even though I have some minor issues with Ashen Winter (possibly too much action), I still love this series hard core. I love the extreme take on what it would be like to survive a supervolcano eruption. The evolution of human reaction to such extreme conditions is awesome and extremely frightening. I know I said some of the events were unbelievable, but the world Mike Mullin has created is quite realistic and very thought provoking. Did I mention frightening?

The Ashfall series is one of my favorite series. If you haven't read Ashfall, you definitely need to start there before picking up Ashen Winter. The next book in the series is called Sunrise. SUNRISE! I hope we get plenty more time surviving the volcanic winter, but hooray for surviving to see the sun!

7/10: Recommended Read

Review copy provided by publisher


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Sunday, October 14, 2012

Storybook Sunday | Ten Creepy Monsters & Ten Little Pumpkins

Last week I mentioned ordering two new books for our Halloween book stash: Ten Creepy Monsters and Ten Little Pumpkins. I had a significant reaction to both books.

TEN CREEPY MONSTERS by Carey F. Armstrong-Ellis

The kids and I had a really good time reading Ten Creepy Monsters. Ten Creepy Monsters starts out just like the title says - with ten monsters. One by one something happens to each monster.

Ten creepy monsters met ’neath a gnarled pine.
One blew away,
And then there were nine.

The premise for Ten Creepy Monsters is so cute and each monster is eliminated in a creative way fitting to that particular monster. (In the example above, the one that blew away was a ghost.) My only complaint is it was a bit over my kids' head. I had to explain what happened to each monster. It's a small complaint because I enjoy having discussion while we are reading, but it would have been even better if my kids' joy wasn't delayed before catching up to mine.

My favorite part of Ten Creepy Monsters is the ending. I absolutely love when a simple picture book gives a surprise ending. The kids and I immediately turned back to the first page so we could read it again knowing how it ends.

8/10: Great Read

TEN LITTLE PUMPKINS, Illustrated by Jay Johnson

If you are anything like me, Ten Little Pumpkins will drive you insane. My kids enjoyed it. They loved counting the ten pumpkins in each picture spread. I don't think they even noticed how hard it was for me not to make a complete mess of the story or the numerous looks I exchanged with my husband.

Ten Little Pumpkins is a "Sing and Read Storybook". The words are set to the tune of Ten Little Indians. The idea is you can open the book and sing through the pages. The first verse of pages were fine... One little, two little, three little pumpkins... concluding with ten little pumpkins in a patch. Just like the original ten little indian boys. After that, the book is all jacked up. The syllables in the verses get more and more unlike those of Ten Little Indians finally ending with ten trick-or-treaters on Halloween night. How on earth do you sing song that?

If you can make ten trick-or-treaters on Halloween night sound like ten little indian boys, could you please call me?

3/10: Didn't like it (but my kids did!)

Storybook Sunday is a feature here on Book Den where I talk about the books I'm reading with my kids. Let me know if you'd like to join in!


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Saturday, October 13, 2012

Notable New Releases | Oct. 7 - Oct. 13

This was a light week of new releases for me. That may be a good thing since my TBR pile is out of control, and it makes me sad that I will never get to read them all. These are the books that caught my eye this week:

Ghost Town by Jason Hawes and Grant Wilson with Tim Waggoner
Publication Date: October 9, 2012

WELCOME TO EXETER, THE “MOST HAUNTED TOWN IN AMERICA,” thanks to a deadly flood that unleashed an army of ghosts decades ago. And when ghost trackers Amber, Drew, and Trevor attend a conference during Exeter’s spookiest week of the year, the ghouls grow restless. First, an innocent bookstore worker is mysteriously killed, setting off a string of strange deaths that point to a shadowy spirit known as the Dark Lady.

With a paranormal revolution ensuing, the team must stop the twisted bloodbath. But a past horror involving the death of a former teammate has them spinning faster than a specter in a storm, especially when they learn that it’s his ghost who awakened the Dark Lady. Now, with their lives on the line and the entire town at stake, the three must decide whether to trust the spirit of their old friend or to finally put a stake through his heart.

In the Tall Grass by Stephen King and Joe Hill
Publication Date: October 9, 2012

Mile 81 meets “N.” in this eBook collaboration between Stephen King and Joe Hill.

As USA TODAY said of Stephen King’s Mile 81: “Park and scream. Could there be any better place to set a horror story than an abandoned rest stop?” In the Tall Grass begins with a sister and brother who pull off to the side of the road after hearing a young boy crying for help from beyond the tall grass. Within minutes they are disoriented, in deeper than seems possible, and they’ve lost one another. The boy’s cries are more and more desperate. What follows is a terrifying, entertaining, and masterfully told tale, as only Stephen King and Joe Hill can deliver.

Additional new releases that caught my eye this week:

Did I miss anything awesome this week? Let me know or link me up!


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Thursday, October 11, 2012

Book Review | Jenny Pox by J.L. Bryan

Jenny Pox is a paranormal dark fantasy from J.L. Bryan.

Book Description
Eighteen-year-old Jenny Morton has a horrific secret: her touch spreads a deadly supernatural plague, the "Jenny pox." She lives by a single rule: Never touch anyone. A lifetime of avoiding any physical contact with others has made her isolated and painfully lonely in her small rural town.

Then she meets the one boy she can touch. Jenny feels herself falling for Seth...but if she's going to be with him, Jenny must learn to use the deadly pox inside her to confront his ruthless and manipulative girlfriend Ashleigh, who secretly wields the most dangerous power of all.
I enjoyed Jenny Pox every bit as much as I thought I would. Realistically I don't think a girl like Jenny would last until she was 18 without her secret being discovered, but I was able to suspend my disbelief and lose myself in Jenny Pox.

Jenny Pox is a cross between J.E. Medrick's Icarus Helix series and Stephen King's Carrie. That's a pretty sweet mashup. If you love either of those, you might want to check out Jenny Pox. It was a fast read that kept me glued to the pages. I enjoyed the characters, and I was anxious to find out why Jenny possessed such an awful power. I'm pleased to say there were enough red herrings to keep me from even considering the ending to Jenny Pox.

Jenny Pox is the first book in the The Paranormals series, but I have great news. Jenny Pox was a complete story. Let me say that again. Jenny Pox was a. complete. story. and I can't wait to read the next one.

I recommend Jenny Pox to adults who enjoy reading YA books. It's very much a YA book in terms of the characters and drama, but the explicit sex and drug use may make it inappropriate for readers younger than 18.

8/10: Great Read 

If you have a Kindle or use any of the Kindle apps, you can get Jenny Pox for free from Amazon.

Have you read Jenny Pox yet? I'd love to hear your thoughts.


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Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Wishlist | Spook House by Michael West

This week I am pining after Michael West's new book, Spook House. It's set to be released October 27, 2012 - just in time for Halloween.
There are some places in this world that go far beyond any normal definition of “haunted.” These places are so evil, so diabolical, that they become gateways to Hell itself. The Fuller Farm is one such place.

It is said that old man Fuller conducted unspeakable acts, blood rituals and human sacrifices, all in an attempt to gain the ultimate knowledge, the ultimate power. And then, he was killed–horribly murdered on his own lands, leaving the house to stand as a vacant monument to his wickedness. But once a door is opened, it can never really be closed.

Now, the stars are right. The gateway is ready to once more unleash unspeakable horror upon the town of Harmony, Indiana. And this will be one Halloween that they will never forget!
I love reading Halloween books for Halloween! Spook House is part of Michael West's Harmony, Indiana series, but they are all stand alone novels. You can read my review of Cinema of Shadows here.

Do you have any Halloween books lined up for the end of October? What are you waiting for this week?

This post is being shared as part of Breaking the Spine's "Waiting on" Wednesday.


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Monday, October 8, 2012

Currently Reading | Ashen Winter, Ghost Town

I finished up Jenny Pox last week which turned out to be a great read. I will probably post my review on that tomorrow. I decided to DNF The Casual Vacancy for now. I understand it has a good ending, but I'm not sure I can make it that far.

I finally started reading Ashen Winter! I loved Ashfall, and I'm so happy to be back surviving a volcanic winter.

I also started reading Ghost Town by Jason Hawes, Grant Wilson, and Tim Waggoner.

These two books will probably last me through the whole week, but if I happen to get in a great chunk of reading time in, I'm going to try to catch up on the Salem's Lot readalong.

Be sure to let me know what you're reading this week!

This post is being shared as part of Book Journey's It's Monday! What Are You Reading?


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Sunday, October 7, 2012

Storybook Sunday | Halloween Books

It's Halloween time! I am very fortunate that my boys love reading Halloween books just as much as I do. We have already taken all of the Halloween books off the shelves (as well as ordered a couple of new ones for this year).

These are some of the books we will be reading through the month of October:

I wasn't able to find images for several of our board books and lift-a-flap books. I guess those are all out of print now.

My kids' favorite is probably Five Little Pumpkins. As a result we tend to read that one year round. I love Goodnight Goon pretty hard core, but I will have to devote a post later in the month to explain why.

Ten Creepy Monsters and Ten Little Pumpkins are new to us this year. I came across Ten Creepy Monsters this past week and had to have it. Ten Little Pumpkins is one of the books my son picked from the Scholastic Book Club newsletter. (For some reason I can't find a link to Ten Little Pumpkins that doesn't require you to login to Scholastic.)

If you need an awesome children's Halloween CD, Wee Sing Halloween is unbelievable. It's my favorite kid CD ever. It also comes with a book of all the songs and poems so you can read them as well.

Are we missing any great Halloween gems? Please let me know if you have any favorite Halloween children's books! 


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Saturday, October 6, 2012

Notable New Book Releases | Sept. 30 - Oct. 6

There are lots of exciting releases this week for young readers! (Or adult readers like me who get just as excited about them.) These are the new releases that caught my eye this week:

Keeper of the Lost Cities by Shannon Messenger
Publication Date: October 2, 2012

In this riveting debut, a telepathic girl must figure out why she is the key to her brand-new world—before the wrong person finds the answer first.

Twelve-year-old Sophie has never quite fit into her life. She’s skipped multiple grades and doesn’t really connect with the older kids at school, but she’s not comfortable with her family, either. And Sophie has a secret—she’s a Telepath, someone who can read minds. But the day Sophie meets Fitz, a mysterious (and adorable) boy, she learns she’s not alone. He’s a Telepath too, and it turns out the reason she has never felt at home is that, well…she isn’t. Fitz opens Sophie’s eyes to a shocking truth, and almost instantly she is forced to leave behind her family for a new life in a place that is vastly different from what she has ever known.

But Sophie still has secrets, and they’re buried deep in her memory for good reason: The answers are dangerous and in high-demand. What is her true identity, and why was she hidden among humans? The truth could mean life or death—and time is running out.

The Spindlers by Lauren Oliver
Publication Date: October 2, 2012

One night when Liza went to bed, Patrick was her chubby, stubby, candy-grubbing and pancake-loving younger brother, who irritated and amused her both, and the next morning, when she woke up, he was not. In fact, he was quite, quite different.

When Liza's brother, Patrick, changes overnight, Liza knows exactly what has happened: The spindlers have gotten to him and stolen his soul.

She knows, too, that she is the only one who can save him.

To rescue Patrick, Liza must go Below, armed with little more than her wits and a broom. There, she uncovers a vast world populated with talking rats, music-loving moles, greedy troglods, and overexcitable nids . . . as well as terrible dangers. But she will face her greatest challenge at the spindlers' nests, where she encounters the evil queen and must pass a series of deadly tests—or else her soul, too, will remain Below forever.

From New York Times best-selling author Lauren Oliver comes a bewitching story about the reaches of loyalty, the meaning of love, and the enduring power of hope.

The Girl Who Fell Beneath Fairyland and Led the Revels There by Catherynne M. Valente
Publication Date: October 2, 2012

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 Assassin's Curse by Cassandra Rose Clarke
Publication Date: October 2, 2012

Ananna of the Tanarau abandons ship when her parents try to marry her off to an allying pirate clan: she wants to captain her own boat, not serve as second-in-command to her handsome yet clueless fiance. But her escape has dire consequences when she learns the scorned clan has sent an assassin after her.

And when the assassin, Naji, finally catches up with her, things get even worse. Ananna inadvertently triggers a nasty curse — with a life-altering result. Now Ananna and Naji are forced to become uneasy allies as they work together to break the curse and return their lives back to normal. Or at least as normal as the lives of a pirate and an assassin can be.

Breathe by Sarah Crossan
Publication Date: October 2, 2012

Inhale. Exhale. Breathe. Breathe. Breathe . . . The world is dead. The survivors live under the protection of Breathe, the corporation that found a way to manufacture oxygen–rich air.

Alina has been stealing for a long time. She's a little jittery, but not terrified. All she knows is that she's never been caught before. If she's careful, it'll be easy. If she's careful.

Quinn should be worried about Alina and a bit afraid for himself, too, but even though this is dangerous, it's also the most interesting thing to happen to him in ages. It isn't every day that the girl of your dreams asks you to rescue her.

Bea wants to tell him that none of this is fair; they'd planned a trip together, the two of them, and she'd hoped he'd discover her out here, not another girl.

And as they walk into the Outlands with two days' worth of oxygen in their tanks, everything they believe will be shattered. Will they be able to make it back? Will they want to?

Magisterium by Jeff Hirsch
Publication Date: October 1, 2012

On one side of the Rift is a technological paradise without famine or want. On the other side is a mystery.

Sixteen-year-old Glenn Morgan has lived next to the Rift her entire life and has no idea of what might be on the other side of it. Glenn's only friend, Kevin, insists the fence holds back a world of monsters and witchcraft, but magic isn't for Glenn. She has enough problems with reality: Glenn's mother disappeared when she was six, and soon after, she lost her scientist father to his all-consuming work on the mysterious Project. Glenn buries herself in her studies and dreams about the day she can escape. But when her father's work leads to his arrest, he gives Glenn a simple metal bracelet that will send Glenn and Kevin on the run---with only one place to go.

With MAGISTERIUM, Jeff Hirsch brings us the story of a complex, captivating world that will leave readers breathless until the very last page.

Sailor Twain: Or: The Mermaid in the Hudson by Mark Siegel
Publication Date: October 2, 2012

One hundred years ago. On the foggy Hudson River, a riverboat captain rescues an injured mermaid from the waters of the busiest port in the United States. A wildly popular--and notoriously reclusive--author makes a public debut. A French nobleman seeks a remedy for a curse. As three lives twine together and race to an unexpected collision, the mystery of the Mermaid of the Hudson deepens.

A mysterious and beguiling love story with elements of Poe, Twain, Hemingway, and Greek mythology, drawn in moody black-and-white charcoal, Sailor Twain is a study in romance, atmosphere, and suspense.

A Wrinkle in Time: The Graphic Novel by Madeleine L'Engle (Author), Hope Larson (Illustrator)
Publication Date: October 2, 2012

The world already knows Meg and Charles Wallace Murry, Calvin O'Keefe, and the three Mrs--Who, Whatsit, and Which--the memorable and wonderful characters who fight off a dark force and save our universe in the Newbery award-winning classic A Wrinkle in Time. But in 50 years of publication, the book has never been illustrated. Now, Hope Larson takes the classic story to a new level with her vividly imagined interpretations of tessering and favorite characters like the Happy Medium and Aunt Beast. Perfect for old fans and winning over new ones, this graphic novel adaptation is a must-read.

Ten Creepy Monsters by Carey F. Armstrong-Ellis
Publication Date: October 4, 2012

Ten creepy monsters met ’neath a gnarled pine.
One blew away,
And then there were nine.
And so the countdown begins . . . A mummy, a witch, a ghost, a werewolf, a vampire, and others all gather, but one by one their crowd diminishes. At last there is only one creepy monster left. But what kind of monster is it?

Squeals of laughter are sure to accompany the reading of this book from bestselling illustrator Carey F. Armstrong-Ellis, as 10 creepy monsters set out for fun.

Did any of these books make it on to your wishlist or bookshelf this week? Have you had a chance to read them yet? Be sure to let me know what books you were excited about this week especially if they didn't make it onto this list!


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Thursday, October 4, 2012

Book Review | Seed by Ania Ahlborn

Seed is the debut novel of Ania Ahlborn. Seed was originally a self-published phenomenon before being scooped up by the Amazon imprint 47North. More on that after the review!

Book Description
With nothing but the clothes on his back—and something horrific snapping at his heels—Jack Winter fled his rural Georgia home when he was still just a boy. Watching the world he knew vanish in a trucker’s rearview mirror, he thought he was leaving an unspeakable nightmare behind forever. But years later, the bright new future he’s built suddenly turns pitch black, as something fiendishly familiar looms dead ahead.

When Jack, his wife Aimee, and their two small children survive a violent car crash, it seems like a miracle. But Jack knows what he saw on the road that night, and it wasn’t divine intervention. The profound evil from his past won’t let them die…at least not quickly. It’s back, and it’s hungry; ready to make Jack pay for running, to work its malignant magic on his angelic youngest daughter, and to whisper a chilling promise: I’ve always been here, and I’ll never leave.

Country comfort is no match for spine-tingling Southern gothic suspense in Ania Ahlborn’s tale of an ordinary man with a demon on his back. Seed plants its page-turning terror deep in your soul, and lets it grow wild.

I have had Seed sitting on my Kindle for over a year now begging me to read it. I am so glad I didn't wait any longer. Seed is a great scary novel to read this October (or any time!).

I don't get the creeps very often. I wish I did, but it's pretty hard to freak me out. Seed gave me the creeps. I actually wrote "aaaaaahh" and "don't go!" in my notes. (Yes, notes, whatever.) I don't want to spoil anything so I won't go into specifics - like why I really, really wanted my dog to stop scratching on the door.

If you are looking for some fresh, new horror, I highly recommend Seed. On top of being fast paced and suspenseful, it's an atypical horror story and it is completely unsettling. I loved it.

9/10: Highly Recommended

Amazon Studios announced yesterday they have selected Seed as their first novel to option for film. I'm super excited because 1) I obviously loved Seed and 2) Amazon chose a great horror story for its first film adaptation. So many good things rolled up into one.

Have you read Seed? Do you have plans to read anything scary for October?


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Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Wishlist | The Neighbors by Ania Ahlborn

This week I am anxiously waiting on The Neighbors by Ania Ahlborn. I just read her first novel, Seed, and loved it. (Expect a review of Seed soon.)

The Neighbors is another stand alone novel and will hopefully be just as suspenseful as Seed!

Andrew Morrison sacrificed everything—his childhood, his education, and the girl of his dreams—to look after his alcoholic mother. But enough is enough, and now he’s determined to get out and live his life. That means trading the home he grew up in for a rented room in the house of an old childhood friend— both of which are in sorry shape.

The only thing worse than Drew’s squalid new digs and sullen new roommate is the envy he feels for the house next door: a picture-perfect suburban domicile straight out of Norman Rockwell, with a couple of happy householders to match. But the better acquainted he gets with his new neighbors—especially the sweet and sexy Harlow Ward—the more he suspects unspeakable darkness beyond the white picket fence.

At the intersection of Blue Velvet and Basic Instinct lies The Neighbors, an insidiously entertaining tale of psychological suspense and mounting terror by the boldest new master of the form, Ania Ahlborn.

The Neighbors will be published November 27 so I still have a while to wait!

Have you read Seed? Are you dying for The Neighbors? What are you waiting for this week?

This post is being shared as part of Breaking the Spine's "Waiting for" Wednesday.


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Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Banned Book Review | A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L'Engle

A Wrinkle in Time is the first book in the Time Quintet series by Madeleine L'Engle.

Book Description
It was a dark and stormy night; Meg Murry, her small brother Charles Wallace, and her mother had come down to the kitchen for a midnight snack when they were upset by the arrival of a most disturbing stranger.

"Wild nights are my glory," the unearthly stranger told them. "I just got caught in a downdraft and blown off course. Let me sit down for a moment, and then I'll be on my way. Speaking of ways, by the way, there is such a thing as a tesseract."

A tesseract (in case the reader doesn't know) is a wrinkle in time. To tell more would rob the reader of the enjoyment of Miss L'Engle's unusual book. A Wrinkle in Time, winner of the Newbery Medal in 1963, is the story of the adventures in space and time of Meg, Charles Wallace, and Calvin O'Keefe (athlete, student, and one of the most popular boys in high school). They are in search of Meg's father, a scientist who disappeared while engaged in secret work for the government on the tesseract problem.

I have a vivid memory of the day I picked A Wrinkle in Time from my elementary school library. I had never heard of it before, but the description sounded like something I wanted to read. I had no idea how much I would fall in love with that book. A Wrinkle in Time had a huge influence on me as a reader. It was one of those rare books that brought me to another world and completely consumed me.

I've been considering rereading A Wrinkle in Time for a few years now, but I was scared to do so. I couldn't remember anything about the book other than how much I loved it. I didn't want to taint that memory, but at the same time, I wanted to remember what I loved so much about it. When I saw it was one of the most frequently challenged books, I knew it was the perfect book for me to read for Banned Books Week.

As soon as I started reading A Wrinkle in Time, I knew why I loved it! A spooky storm, a haunted house, mysterious people, and a missing physicist dad all right off the bat. A Wrinkle in Time is a nerdy book, too. School teachers and librarians have to love this book. There are so many elements of reading, math, science... and not just science - the good quantum physics stuff!

I'm so glad I didn't let my reread fears keep me from revisiting A Wrinkle in Time. I highly, highly recommend it for young readers. I will definitely be reading it again with my boys.

9/10: Highly recommended

Have you read A Wrinkle in Time? Are you reading anything special during banned books week this week? What are some of your favorite books that have been challenged?

This review is being shared as part of Banned Book Week hosted by Book Journey. Be sure to check out the posts all week long for lots of awesome banned book reviews, posts, and giveaways!


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Monday, October 1, 2012

Currently Reading | Jenny Pox, A Casual Vacancy

I don't know what happened while reading The Raven Boys! It seemed like a story I would like, but I couldn't connect to it at all. I made it 136 pages before I decided to put it aside. Were you guys hooked by then? I decided to read my childhood favorite, A Wrinkle in Time, instead in honor of this week being Banned Books Week.

I also picked up J.K. Rowling's new book, A Casual Vacancy. That read isn't going very well, but I'm going to give it some more time. In the mean time, I am thoroughly enjoying J.L. Bryan's Jenny Pox. Have you read it? It reminds me of J.E. Medrick's Icarus Helix series. Fun times!

If I make it through J.K.'s new book, I'm going to finally pick up Ashen Winter.

Be sure to let me know what you're reading this week!

This post is being shared as part of Book Journey's It's Monday! What Are You Reading?


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