Wednesday, September 17, 2014

The Turtle's of Oman by Naomi Shihab Nye

Title: The Turtle of Oman
Author: Naomi Shihab Nye
Publisher: Greenwillow
Release Date: August 26, 2014
ISBN: 0062019724 

In this brief novel, told in short chapters by the acclaimed poet and National Book Award finalist Naomi Shihab Nye, Aref Al-Amri says good-bye to everything and everyone he loves in his hometown of Muscat, Oman, as his family prepares to move to Ann Arbor, Michigan. This is Naomi Shihab Nye’s first novel set in the Middle East since her acclaimed Habibi.
Aref Al-Amri does not want to leave Oman. He does not want to leave his elementary school, his friends, or his beloved grandfather, Siddi. He does not want to live in Ann Arbor, Michigan, where his parents will go to graduate school. His mother is desperate for him to pack his suitcase—but he refuses. Finally, she calls Siddi for help. But rather than pack, Aref and Siddi go on a series of adventures. They visit the camp of a thousand stars deep in the desert, they sleep on Siddi’s roof, they fish in the Gulf of Oman and dream about going to India, they travel to the nature reserve to watch the sea turtles. At each stop, Siddi finds a small stone that he later slips into Aref’s suitcase—mementos of home.
This accessible, exquisite novel shines with gentle humor and explores themes of moving, family, nature, and immigration. Naomi Shihab Nye’s warmth, attention to detail, and belief in the power of empathy and connection shines from every page. Features black-and-white spot art and decorations by Betsy Peterschmidt.

This is a fantastic example of diversity in Middle Grade and it was a truly beautiful story. This is a short novel for sure, and it surrounds around Aref, a small boy who will be leaving his home town that he loves for Ann Arbor, Michigan.  The more he hears about Ann Arbor, the more he doubts if he wants to go, the one saving grace the state seems to offer is their turtles... and even THAT doesn't seem like enough.

Aref is a very funny protagonist. I found his actions to often make me laugh out loud and reading it I truly felt that I had stepped into the mind of a young child. One of his treasures is his rock collection which he can only part with faced with distance from his truest friends.

The strength in this novel lies in the characterization. Aref is relatable to any child in any part of the world and reading it makes the similarities very clear. He is scared and a afraid of being lonely in a country that he doesn't know. This fear is real for every child and every adult around the world. Despite the geographical and cultural differences we are all the same, and that is where the true strength in this novel lies.

The main issue I found with this story was that it did tend to lag a bit, and for those who don't take interest into the cultural aspects this may be a problem. Ultimately, I found it to be very enjoyable. Aref is extremely likable. Little things he does, like write down facts he learns each day, allow us to get to know him and understand how he is feeling.

I definitely recommend it to the middle grade reader in your life.

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Waiting on Wednesday

Waiting on Wednesday is hosted by Breaking the Spine! 

Hello, all! 

It has been about a week or so, the semester is fully raging and I found myself amidst a sea of tests last week, hopefully that clears out soon though! 

This week I am waiting on... 

Thousand Pieces of You 
by Claudia Gray
Release Date: November 4, 2014

Every Day meets Cloud Atlas in this heart-racing, space- and time-bending, epic new trilogy from New York Times bestselling author Claudia Gray.
Marguerite Caine’s physicist parents are known for their radical scientific achievements. Their most astonishing invention: the Firebird, which allows users to jump into parallel universes, some vastly altered from our own. But when Marguerite’s father is murdered, the killer—her parent’s handsome and enigmatic assistant Paul—escapes into another dimension before the law can touch him.
Marguerite can’t let the man who destroyed her family go free, and she races after Paul through different universes, where their lives entangle in increasingly familiar ways. With each encounter she begins to question Paul’s guilt—and her own heart. Soon she discovers the truth behind her father’s death is more sinister than she ever could have imagined.
A Thousand Pieces of You explores a reality where we witness the countless other lives we might lead in an amazingly intricate multiverse, and ask whether, amid infinite possibilities, one love can endure.

What are you guys waiting on this week?  

Monday, September 8, 2014

Losing It by Cora Carmack

Title: Losing It
Author: Cora Carmack
Publisher: William Morrow
Source: Bought

Bliss Edwards is about to graduate from college and still has hers. Sick of being the only virgin among her friends, she decides the best way to deal with the problem is to lose it as quickly and simply as possible-- a one-night stand. But her plan turns out to be anything but simple when she freaks out and leaves a gorgeous guy alone and naked in her bed with an excuse that no one with half-a-brain would ever believe. And as if that weren’t embarrassing enough, when she arrives for her first class of her last college semester, she recognizes her new theatre professor. 
She’d left him naked in her bed about 8 hours earlier.

This is one of those Kindle $1.99 deals that got me. I have seen this title floating around in the wild for awhile, and it always looked interesting. The cover was always a bit out there for me, and I wasn't sure how I felt about carrying it around with me everywhere I went for days at a time - so when the kindle deal came about I snatched it up.

All in all it was okay, though I wasn't amazed by it. The character of Bliss really fell flat for me, I didn't feel very much life or vivacity from her at all. She was a theater major who was just kind of - blah. She had a bit of "Bella Swan syndrome" where she was just an ordinary girl but was secretly very special. At one point she wants to stage manage, but then lo and behold, she's a fantastic actress!

That rubbed me the wrong way, and there were some other moments where I felt some major insta-love. Once we realize who her professor is, there is obviously some crazy feelings, but I felt that the recovery from one emotion to the other was a bit fast and had my mind spinning. I'm in college... and I don't think that's how it works... at least not at my school.

There were a couple times when I felt her professor man should have acted more adult, and maybe that just means I'm secretly 86 and no longer in my prime. Who knows?

I almost put this one down a few times, but I kept powering through. I did read it in bits and pieces over the course of a couple months, so maybe that helped add to my overall feelings. However, if I was in love there would have been no putting it down.

I really enjoyed Cora Carmack's ALL LINED UP, and had high hopes for this one, but it didn't wow me like that one did. Guess I'll be sticking to the new series.

I know most people loved this one, and if you did, I would love to hear what you thought!

Friday, September 5, 2014

Let's Talk: Balancing Hats and Growing Up

It's late at night and I find myself looking at the same screen I have so many days before. I can hear my dog downstairs, letting me know that he has business to attend to as well. I'm not the only one working in this house, clearly. As I walk down the stairs I realize that I have, once again, forgotten to put the clothes in the dryer.

That's only been waiting for three hours.

This is how my days go. Rinse. Lather. Repeat.

I feel like I wear a lot of hats.
And I'm not just talking about the fantastic super-hero head bands I make out of hats.

By day I am a college student, who sometimes forgets to pay her cable bill on time. I am also an intern  and a leader at a super popular "quick-service" restaurant that will soon be receiving a brand new hat... at a super awesome new work location. 

I am a hard worker, and I dedicate extreme amounts of time to what I need to do, my personal life often takes a back burner to these other more important ventures. I don't regret this or want to change it in anyway, I am who I am after all, but sometimes I look back on the years that have passed me and I get confused. 

I'm a senior in college, who because of a major switch and an added degree, is graduating later than those I went to high school with. Instead of bothering me though, this actually makes me feel relieved. 

With each one of my hats comes another way for life to change. Another added responsibility, another group of people for me to become involved with. 

As a southern girl raised in a small-ish Tennessee town, I grew up with the exact same faces surrounding me for the majority of my life. I knew everyone, and everyone knew me. I knew who'd stolen the cookies from the teacher that one time in first grade, I knew who was on the honor roll every year, and I knew who was our senior class president. 

Going from this security into a brand new, and even partially scary adventure is both thrilling and nerve racking. 

I put in my notice at the job that I've had for nearly four years, and while I am excited to move on to bigger and better things, my heart still breaks because this is another group of people I have come to love and care for over the years. 

Most of us are in the process of growing up, for all of our lives we are growing from one person to another. How do you guys deal with the emotions that get involved? 

Words can't express how excited I am to be entering the business world at a company that impacts in a big way. I feel blessed and very, very happy. I just sometimes find myself missing all of the people I was before. 

How do you guys deal with balancing the hats in your life? 

Thursday, September 4, 2014

Stacking the Shelves!

Stacking the Shelves is hosted by Tynga's Reviews

Sunday Post is hosted by the Caffeinated Book Reviewer

This week has been crazy busy! I was given a fantastic new job opportunity and I have read some new books that I need to post some reviews for! 

All in all, it has been fantastic, though I am sorry for my semi-silent week. 

What did you guys get this week? 

Monday, September 1, 2014

Squeal-Worthy September Releases!

These are the releases coming this September that I'm most excited for! 
If you see any that I missed, be sure to let me know. 

The Jewel means wealth. The Jewel means beauty. The Jewel means royalty. But for girls like Violet, the Jewel means servitude. Not just any kind of servitude. Violet, born and raised in the Marsh, has been trained as a surrogate for the royalty—because in the Jewel the only thing more important than opulence is offspring.
Purchased at the surrogacy auction by the Duchess of the Lake and greeted with a slap to the face, Violet (now known only as #197) quickly learns of the brutal truths that lie beneath the Jewel’s glittering facade: the cruelty, backstabbing, and hidden violence that have become the royal way of life.
Violet must accept the ugly realities of her existence... and try to stay alive. But then a forbidden romance erupts between Violet and a handsome gentleman hired as a companion to the Duchess’s petulant niece. Though his presence makes life in the Jewel a bit brighter, the consequences of their illicit relationship will cost them both more than they bargained for.

This is a book that I have already read and reviewed - I loved it and it is definitely one that I would highly recommend. 

This one releases on September, 2nd. 

The clock chimes midnight, a curse breaks, and a girl meets a prince . . . but what follows is not all sweetness and sugarplums.
New York City, 1899. Clara Stole, the mayor's ever-proper daughter, leads a double life. Since her mother's murder, she has secretly trained in self-defense with the mysterious Drosselmeyer.
Then, on Christmas Eve, disaster strikes.
Her home is destroyed, her father abducted--by beings distinctly nothuman. To find him, Clara journeys to the war-ravaged land of Cane. Her only companion is the dethroned prince Nicholas, bound by a wicked curse. If they're to survive, Clara has no choice but to trust him, but his haunted eyes burn with secrets--and a need she can't define. With the dangerous, seductive faery queen Anise hunting them, Clara soon realizes she won't leave Cane unscathed--if she leaves at all.
Inspired by The NutcrackerWinterspell is a dark, timeless fairy tale about love and war, longing and loneliness, and a girl who must learn to live without fear.
This one looks so good! I've read a bit of it and am excited to see how it goes. 

This one releases September, 30th. 

A powerful story of a girl who is afraid to touch another person’s skin, until the boy auditioning for Hamlet opposite her Ophelia gives her a reason to overcome her fears.
Step on a crack, break your mother’s back. Touch another person’s skin, and Dad’s gone for good.
Caddie can’t stop thinking that if she keeps from touching another person’s skin, her parents might get back together... which is why she wears full-length gloves to school and covers every inch of her skin.
It seems harmless at first, but Caddie’s obsession soon threatens her ambitions as an actress. She desperately wants to play Ophelia in her school’s production of Hamlet. But that would mean touching Peter, who’s auditioning for the title role—and kissing him. Part of Caddie would love nothing more than to kiss Peter—but the other part isn't sure she's brave enough to let herself fall.
Perfect for fans of Laurie Halse Anderson, this debut novel from Rachel M. Wilson is a moving story of a talented girl who's fighting an increasingly severe anxiety disorder, and the friends and family who stand by her.

This one really intrigues me and I am excited to see how it goes. 
This one releases September, 2nd.  

Downton Abbey meets Cassandra Clare in this lush, romantic fantasy from New York Times bestselling author Kiersten White.
“I did my best to keep you from crossing paths with this world. And I shall do my best to protect you now that you have.”
Jessamin has been an outcast since she moved from her island home of Melei to the dreary country of Albion. Everything changes when she meets Finn, a gorgeous, enigmatic young lord who introduces her to the secret world of Albion’s nobility, a world that has everything Jessamin doesn’t—power, money, status…and magic. But Finn has secrets of his own, dangerous secrets that the vicious Lord Downpike will do anything to possess. Unless Jessamin, armed only with her wits and her determination, can stop him.
Kiersten White captured readers’ hearts with her New York Times bestselling Paranormalcy trilogy and its effortless mix of magic and real-world teenage humor. She returns to that winning combination of wit, charm, and enchantment in Illusions of Fate, a sparkling and romantic new novel perfect for fans of Cassandra Clare, The Madman’s Daughter, and Libba Bray.

This one looks so good! 
It releases on September, 9th.  
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