Book Haul (#1)

I didn’t really mean to buy any books this month. And I REALLY didn’t mean to buy ten books this month. But I just kept ending up at book stores, and this is what happened.

April 2014 Book Haul

  1. Hero by Mike Lupica
  2. Entangled by Amy Rose Capetta
  3. To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before by Jenny Han
  4. The School for Good and Evil by Soman Chianani
  5. Cinder by Marissa Meyer
  6. Nick and Tesla’s High Voltage Danger Lab by Bob Pfulgfelder
  7. Spell Robbers (The Quantum League #1) by Mathew J. Kirby
  8. The Eighth Day by Dianne K. Salerni
  9. How to Catch a Bogle (Bogle #1) by Catherine Jinks
  10. Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe by Benjamin Alire Sáenz

April 2014 B&N Haul

Review: The Testing by Joelle Charbonneau

The Testing (The Testing #1) by Joelle Charbonneau

Genre: Young Adult Dystopian Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Books
Format: Kindle eBook Source: Library
Rating:  (4/5 Stars) Synopsis: 

The Seven Stages War left much of the planet a charred wasteland. The future belongs to the next generation’s chosen few who must rebuild it. But to enter this elite group, candidates must first pass The Testing—their one chance at a college education and a rewarding career.

Cia Vale is honored to be chosen as a Testing candidate; eager to prove her worthiness as a University student and future leader of the United Commonwealth. But on the eve of her departure, her father’s advice hints at a darker side to her upcoming studies–trust no one.

Now, this book did have many similarities to The Hunger Games. Actually, this book had many similarities to many of the YA Dystopian novels currently saturating the market. But this is one I actually really enjoyed reading, so let’s just accept those similarities and move on.

When I picked up this book (A few days ago) I really felt tired of dystopian novels. There have been some good ones since The Hunger Games made the genre popular again (The Summer Prince by Alaya Johnson for example) but many of the books have felt very much the same to me. But the library had this one as an eBook, so why not try it? No harm if I didn’t read past the chapter.

I ended up liking this book a whole lot more than I thought it would. The premise seemed a bit unrealistic (Testing the countries smartest people in dangerous ways? Really?) and it still doesn’t seem plausible, but when I was reading the book it worked.

The book’s plot moves along really nicely. Once you get past the first chapter or so it always feels like something is happening, and parts of the book can be really suspenseful. This is actually the first book in a while that I’ve wanted to keeping reading enough that I finished it in one day. 

All in all, a nice fast read that didn’t have the most original plot, but was still pretty good. I will be reading the second book in the series eventually. I’m curious.

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A Sunday in the Cities

As I’m busy with school and sports most of the week, the only days I really have time for going places and doing things are Sundays.

This Sunday me and my family had planned on taking a sort of “tour” of all the most popular/best ice cream places in Minneapolis and Saint Paul. Unfortunately, it ended up being rainy and cold all day, but we did manage to make it to two of the places we had planned to go.

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First we went to Sebastian Joe’s in Minneapolis.

Sebastian Joes Group

I ordered an Oreo Ice Cream Sundae, my mom and dad both ordered a chocolate-banana flavor with a fancy name I can’t remember, and my grandma ordered a scoop of chocolate raspberry.

Sebastian Joes Oreo Sundae

Sebastian Joes Raspberry and Banana

The cafe had a really nice atmosphere, and with the fire in the restaurant it didn’t feel to cold to be eating ice cream. The area with tables also had some glass garage doors on the wall that looked like they were designed to be opened on sunnier days. Maybe I’ll go back during summer to see?

Sebastian Joes

After that we walked a block or so to the Wild Rumpus, a bookstore my mom knew about but I had never visited.

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What was really cool about this bookstore was that along with many, many tightly packed books they also had a bunch of animals! They had some pet rats, a ferret, a pair of small chickens, a tropical bird, a few Manx cats and two chinchillas.

Wild Rumpus Chinchilla

They had so many different genres of books and lots of books from each genre. On each shelf I didn’t see more than one or two copies of each book. They would probably keep more copies in the back. It was technically a children’s bookstore, but they also had a great collection of Young Adult novels.

Wild Rumpus Books

Manx in Window

All the animals, the cats especially, were super friendly. One we first came in to the bookstore (right after it opened) two of the cats were sitting on the windowsill, and by the time we left one of them was napping among the display stack of books. I, of course, didn’t make it out of the store without a few books to bring home. (5 in all. Opps.)

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Next we drove over to Edina, to visit the Edina creamery. This time we only got two servings of ice cream- one mango sherbert and one salted caramel, which was very creamy. My mom also got a coffee, but she said it wasn’t very good. This time we were the only ones in the store.

Edina Creamery

After that we went to a burger place for a late lunch/early dinner, and that was the end of our day. (Well, I ran into a curb and managed to break my mom’s car’s bumper, but that’s a story for another time…)

Joint Review: Vampire Academy and Frostbite by Richelle Mead

Vampire Academy + Frostbite by Richelle Mead

Rating:  (3/5 Stars)

I went into the Vampire Academy series with very low expectations, and was pleasantly surprised when I really enjoyed reading the first book. The plot was compelling, I liked the characters, and I kept wanting to know what would happen next.

I found Rose and Lissa to be very pleasing main characters. I like how Rose is very confident about herself and how she looks. I don’t want to say that trait is rare in YA fiction, but it isn’t something I see very often in the narrating characters and it was a refreshing change.

The plot and the universe was very interesting, and fun to get to know. Having vampire subspecies was a lot more fun than just having vampires where most are evil but some decide to be nice and “vegan.”

Frostbite wasn’t as good as the first book, and parts of it were a bit boring. But the last six chapters or so were very exciting. While I hoped that it would be better than it was, it was still an enjoyable read.

Things I Liked:

  • Rose, and Rose and Lissa’s friendship.
  • Rose’s snark. It was great. I love snark.
  • The first book made you wait for answers.
  • While not everything seemed to advance the plot, stuff kept happening.
  • The book did its best to deal with some pretty weighty topics. I’m not going to say whether it dealt with them badly or not, but this stuff happens and it is good to see it in young adult books.
  • Rose’s mother.

Things I Didn’t Like:

  • The Prologue in the second book. I don’t think I’ve ever read through a recap more painful. Also, if I had accidentally picked up the second book first that prologue would have guaranteed me to not read the start of the series.
  • Rose and Dimitri’s romance. Maybe I just have a much more objective view of love, but I kept mentally yelling at them to get over themselves, because their relationship will not work out.
  • As you can probably tell from the above bullet point, I didn’t like the ending of Frostbite.
  • I don’t really like the book covers.

Review: The London Eye Mystery by Siobhan Dowd

The London Eye Mystery by Siobhan Dowd

The London Eye Mystery

“That’s when I realized that there are two kinds of knowledge: shallow and deep. You can know something in theory but not know it in practice. You can know a part of something but not all of it. Knowledge can be like the skin on the surface of the water in a pond, or it can go all the way down to the mud. It can be the tiny tip of the iceberg or the whole hundred per cent.”

Genre: Middle Grade Mystery Publisher: David Fickling Books
Format: Print, 2010 UK Edition Source: Bought
Rating:  (2/5 Stars) Synopsis: 

Monday, 24 May, 11.32 a.m. Ted and Kat watch their cousin Salim get on board the London Eye. He turns and waves and the pod rises from the ground.

Monday, 24 May, 12.02 p.m. The pod lands and the doors open. People exit in all shapes and sizes – but where is Salim?

Ted and his older sister Kat become sleuthing partners since the police are having no luck. Despite their prickly relationship, they overcome their differences to follow a trail of clues across London in a desperate bid to find their cousin. And ultimately it comes down to Ted, whose brain runs on its own unique operating system, to find the key to the mystery.

I’ve been meaning to read this book for ages. AGES. How long, you might ask? Well, I bought this book during my trip to the 2012 Olympics in London, and I just finished reading it yesterday. If you’re one of those people who likes to keep up with what month and year it is, that means this book has been in my to read pile for a little less than to years. That is just too long.

This is one of those books that I think I would’ve liked a lot more had I read it four years ago. The prose was obviously geared towards younger readers, as the narration explained outright a lot of the trickier words and concepts. However, it was still an enjoyable and entertaining read. 

The mystery in the book was done wonderfully, and it really kept you guessing up until the very end. All the characters in the book were very well written and were very human. The character development in the book was great, and while the book spanned less than a week, you could really see the differences in the characters at the end of the book.

You probably wouldn’t like reading this if you don’t like reading books geared towards younger people. But if you enjoy middle grade mystery, then you should definitely read this book as it was a very well written mystery story.

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