We Are the Ants by Shaun David Hutchinson

Following the premiere of season 10 of The X-Files, I decided to pick up We Are the Ants.

Henry has been continually abducted by aliens since he was 13 years.  If that wasn’t bad enough, his dad abandoned the family when he was a child, his single mom is struggling to hold the family together while his grandmother is suffering from Alzheimer’s, his brother Charlie knocked up his girlfriend Zooey, and Henry’s boyfriend Jesse committed suicide last year.  It’s a lot to sort though – oh and the aliens have told him that the world is going to end in 144 days and Henry has the power to stop it but right now Henry doesn’t feel like he or the world are worth saving.

Full Goodreads synopsis found here.

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I feel like I’m in the minority here but I thought We Are the Ants was just so-so.  This book reminds me of an Andrew Smith novel which I’m sure for some readers is a major selling point but for me it means a book about a 16 year old boy that thinks about sex a lot while being consfused and angry along with a really weird premise.  I love the weird plots in the background but not the inner monologue of the boys (good thing I’ve got 16 years until I have a teenaged son).

Some things I liked -> The chapters are interspersed with journal entries of how Henry thinks the world could end.  Henry’s estranged best friend Audrey.  Jesse’s mom. Henry’s grandmother.  Apparently all the ladies.

Some things I didn’t like -> Description of the sluggers (aliens), I had no clear picture of their appearance.  Diego (love interest), I couldn’t get a good grasp on him.  Marcus (bully/love interest – enough said).  ANGST.  How Charlie/Zooey’s storyline played out.  SO MUCH ANGST.

It’s not a bad story, it’s just not for me but if you’re looking for an angsty contemporary novel with a sci twist check out We Are the Ants for yourself.

I received an ARC from Little Shop of Stories in Decatur, GA.

Curiosity House: The Shrunken Head by Lauren Oliver and H.C. Chester

Blessed with extraordinary abilities, orphans Philippa, Sam, and Thomas have grown up happily in Dumfrey’s Dime Museum of Freaks, Oddities, and Wonders. But when a fourth child, Max, a knife-thrower, joins the group, it sets off an unforgettable chain of events. When the museum’s Amazonian shrunken head is stolen, the four are determined to get it back. But their search leads them to a series of murders and an explosive secret about their pasts. – Goodreads

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1930’s New York is a lively setting for four orphans living in a Museum of Oddities to work together to solve a mystery.  Philippa, Sam, Thomas, and Max each possess unique qualities –  minding reading, super strength, elasticity, and deadly knife throwing.  Their lives are not glamorous though, their abilities are not fail-safe and they still go through the struggles associated with early teenage years – anxiety, shyness, and self-doubt.  Dumfrey’s Museum survives financially by attracting visitors to view the strange collection of worldly wonders as well as a freak show of sorts featuring the orphans and the array of odd inhabitants of the house.  Their fortunes begin to rise when an Amazonian shrunken head is procured for the museum however shortly thereafter the head is stolen and the museum is in danger of permanent foreclosure.

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I read a lot of YA (surprise, surprise) but I haven’t read too many middle-grade novels, including Lauren Oliver’s (Liesl and Po, The Spindlers).  Unfortunately, I couldn’t connect with the young protagonists or get behind their search for the thief of the shrunken head.  About a third of the way through the book, the plot seemed on repeat – do some digging, someone’s dead!, do some digging, someone’s dead! – literally everyone kept kicking the bucket.  The mystery (and murders) were solved in the end while leaving a larger mystery arc to be continued in the second book Curiosity House: The Screaming Statue, due out in 2016.  The Shrunken Head was likable enough, the story was a bit slow in the middle and the mystery reveal was a little predictable.  That said, I will probably read The Screaming Statue, picking it up from my local library.

In other Lauren Oliver news, the author shared that Before I Fall (one of my favorite novels from Oliver) is being made into a movie staring Zoey Deutch (Beautiful Creatures, Vampire Academy), see here.  There had been previous talks about developing the novel into a movie and then even a TV show with Emma Roberts.  Third time’s the charm?

Curiosity House: The Shrunken Head will be released September 29th, 2015.  A big shout-out to Harper Collins for sending me a copy for review ❤

Black Widow: Forever Red by Margaret Stohl

I can’t describe to you my triumph of nabbing the ARC of Black Widow: Forever Red off the Little Shop of Stories’ ARC shelf before anyone else in my bookclub could get to it!  Bwahaha!  Black Widow is beloved by my bookclub and pretty much all superhero-loving, women-kind.

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Nastasha Romanov stands out as the lone female in the testosterone heavy group of the Avengers.  But being the only woman is tough because we hold her to a higher standard, she’s the only one we have to look up to.  We want her to be all the things – she can’t be perfect but she can’t be too flawed, she has to be relatable but still awe-inspiring, and so on and so forth.  It’s a tall order for sure.

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It’s no surprise after the Avengers movies that women (and men too) were clamoring for more Black Widow (hello Marvel where is our stand alone Black Widow movie??).  Coming out this October is a new Black Widow YA novel from Margaret Stohl (co-author of the Beautiful Creatures series and author of the Icons series) – here’s the Forever Red synopsis from Goodreads:

Natasha Romanoff is one of the world’s most lethal assassins. Trained from a young age in the arts of death and deception, Natasha was given the title of Black Widow by Ivan Somodorov, her brutal teacher at the Red Room, Moscow’s infamous academy for operatives.

Ava Orlova is just trying to fit in as an average Brooklyn teenager, but her life has been anything but average.The daughter of a missing Russian quantum physicist, Ava was once subjected to a series of ruthless military experiments-until she was rescued by Black Widow and placed under S.H.I.E.L.D. protection. Ava has always longed to reconnect with her mysterious savior, but Black Widow isn’t really the big sister type.

Until now.

When children all over Eastern Europe begin to go missing, and rumors of smuggled Red Room tech light up the dark net, Natasha suspects her old teacher has returned-and that Ava Orlova might be the only one who can stop him. To defeat the madman who threatens their future, Natasha and Ava must unravel their pasts. Only then will they discover the truth about the dark-eyed boy with an hourglass tattoo who haunts Ava’s dreams. . . .

For starters, look at this badass cover – it’s amazing!

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Forever Red reads like a movie script, it’s fast-paced and action-packed and with some familiar faces (namely Phil Coulson and Tony Stark) it’s impossible not to read the dialogue using the actors’ voices (not that that is a bad thing!).  This book is written like a movie in your mind.  The story is told from 3 different POVs – Natasha’s, Ava’s and Alex Manor’s (a seemingly normal American teenage except that Ava has been dreaming about him for months even though she has never met him).  There is at least one chapter that was titled as an Ava chapter and halfway thru it turned into a Nastasha chapter, I’m hoping that gets cleared up #eek.

Overall, I liked the story/adventure/mission/whatever you want to call it, the novel is also full of witty dialogue and entertaining cultural references though I would have liked some more feels.  There is backstory (primarily referring to Natasha) but I want more – there can never be enough origin story.  I think maybe because it read like an action movie, it lacked some depth, the story was bam bam bam scene scene scene.  The downside – the climax was over in an instant (insert sex joke), it happened so fast that I didn’t really have time to process that the final showdown was happening.  Had it been a bit more drawn out, I would have had more feels because I was definitely supposed to.  The story wrapped, no cliffhangers but there are unanswered questions so I wouldn’t be surprised if this became a series.  All said and done, I really enjoyed Forever Red and can’t wait to let my bookclub fight over and then we can all dissect it!

Moral of the story is WHERE IS THE GODDAMN BLACK WIDOW MOVIE???

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Book Mail!

  1. I love books
  2. I love mail
  3. I love book mail!

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I received The Dead House by Dawn Kurtagich from Kristina (@gone_pecan) in a Twitter giveaway – the first book I’ve ever won in a giveaway!!

From Goodreads: Twenty-five years ago, Elmbridge High burned down. Three people were killed and one pupil, Carly Johnson, disappeared. Now a diary has been found in the ruins of the school. The diary belongs to Kaitlyn Johnson, Carly’s identical twin sister. But Carly didn’t have a twin . . . Re-opened police records, psychiatric reports, transcripts of video footage and fragments of diary reveal a web of deceit and intrigue, violence and murder, raising a whole lot more questions than it answers.  Who was Kaitlyn and why did she only appear at night? Did she really exist or was she a figment of a disturbed mind? What were the illicit rituals taking place at the school? And just what did happen at Elmbridge in the events leading up to ‘the Johnson Incident’’

The second piece of book mail this week actually took me completely by surprise!  I received Shrunken Head (The Curiosity House #1) by Lauren Oliver and H.G. Chester from Harper Collins.

From Goodreads: Blessed with extraordinary abilities, orphans Philippa, Sam, and Thomas have grown up happily in Dumfrey’s Dime Museum of Freaks, Oddities, and Wonders. But when a fourth child, Max, a knife-thrower, joins the group, it sets off an unforgettable chain of events. When the museum’s Amazonian shrunken head is stolen, the four are determined to get it back. But their search leads them to a series of murders and an explosive secret about their pasts.

Both books are to be released September 15th.  I’m going to do my darnedest to read them in time.  I’m plan to finish Black Widow: Forever Red tomorrow and then I think I’ll dive into Shrunken Head.

What’s been your favorite book mail?

Slasher Girls and Monster Boys – Stories selected by April Genevieve Tucholke

I have decided I love short story compilations though in truth it is a very recent love affair.  Last year Stephanie Perkins (author of the Anna and the French Kiss trilogy) edited the lovely ‘My True Love Gave To Me’, a collection of heart warming holiday themed short stories from YA authors.  Next year she will be releasing Summer Days and Summer Nights: Twelve Love Stories #squee.

The collection I want to talk about today though is one of a very different variety.  Slasher Girls and Monster Boys features 14 stories selected by April Genevieve Tucholke (author of Between the Devil and the Deep Blue Sea) guaranteed to make your skin crawl.  Like MTLGTM, this collection features some of my favorite authors – Kendare Blake, Marie Lu, and Cat Winters but also introduced to some new authors that I can’t wait to read more of – Carrie Ryan, McCormick Templeman, and Jay Kristoff.

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The collection as a whole is very strong, there were very few stories that didn’t send shivers down my spine and considering there are 14 authors that’s pretty impressive.  Each of the stories is inspired by classic horror films, spooky campfire tales, and even Disney movies. I want to share my top 3 favorites (I had a hard time narrowing it down to 3 favorites, a testament to how great this collection is) but I’m only going to give a short blurb because I don’t want to give anything away!!

  1. Stitches by A.G. Howard – This went in a direction I did not expect – AT ALL – as teenage girl must play Dr. Frankenstein to save her family.
  2. In the Forest Dark and Deep by Carrie Ryan – A twisted tale inspired by Alice in Wonderland with one helluva creepy rabbit.
  3. Sleepless by Jay Kristoff – It begins with fervent teenage instant messaging but in the end, neither Justin nor Cassie is who they pretend to be online.

If you read Goosebumps, Fear Street, and Scary and Stories to Tell in the Dark as kid, pick up Slash Girls and Monster Boys!  Tell me your favorite horror novels, YA or adult!!

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I received an ARC of Slasher Girls and Monster Boys from Little Shop of Stories in Decatur, GA – its book birthday is in one week, Tuesday August 18th!!

Last by not least, I absolutely adore the dedication page:

For everyone who read Stephen King when they were way too young – A.G.T.

Saturday Morning Reading

It’s been a long, busy week so I’m enjoying my Saturday morning with an iced coffee and Black Widow: Forever Red by Margaret Stohl I was able to nab this ARC from Little Shop of Stories, pounced on it before the rest of my book club – aha!

I’m only a few chapters in but I can tell it’s going to be an action packed ride – I won’t be surprised when this flies off the shelves in October, after all it’s not like we have a Black Widow movie to go on about *winkwinknudgenudge* get on it Marvel!

I hope you’re having a great weekend!!

Book Riot YA Quarterly Box #2

The second Book Riot YA Quarterly Box was delivered last week and I love it!!

Just a quick recap of what a Book Riot YA Quarterly Box is: Book Riot is website/company/thing-a-ma-bob which provides book recommendations, literary commentary, book schwag, pretty much all things literature!  After I started regularly following Book Riot, I found out about their YA Quarterly Boxes.  This is the second box I have received.

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Book Riot: Young Adult – Books and Bookish Goods for YA Fans.  As our friend good ole Billy Shakespeare reportedly said, “a friend is someone that knows you as you are, understands where you have been, accepts that you have become, and still, gently, allow you to grow.”  Get ready to make friends with these friendship-heavy YA reads.

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First impression of the friendship-themed box: 3 books AND goodies – woot woot!!

Chasing Shadows by Swati Avasthi – Before: Corey, Holly, and Savitri are one unit—fast, strong, inseparable. Together they turn Chicago concrete and asphalt into a freerunner’s jungle gym, ricocheting off walls, scaling buildings, leaping from rooftops to rooftop.  But acting like a superhero doesn’t make you bulletproof…  After: Holly and Savitri are coming unglued. Holly says she’s chasing Corey’s killer, chasing revenge. Savitri fears Holly’s just running wild—and leaving her behind. Friends should stand by each other in times of crisis. But can you hold on too tight? Too long?  In this intense novel, Swati Avasthi creates a gripping portrait of two girls teetering on the edge of grief and insanity. Two girls who will find out just how many ways there are to lose a friend…and how many ways to be lost.

A Sense of the Infinite by Hilary T. Smith – A beautiful coming-of-age story about deep friendship, the weight of secrets, and the healing power of nature.  It’s senior year of high school, and Annabeth is ready—ready for everything she and her best friend, Noe, have been planning and dreaming. But there are some things Annabeth isn’t prepared for, like the constant presence of Noe’s new boyfriend. Like how her relationship with her mom is wearing and fraying. And like the way the secret she’s been keeping hidden deep inside her for years has started clawing at her insides, making it hard to eat or even breathe.  But most especially, she isn’t prepared to lose Noe.  For years, Noe has anchored Annabeth and set their joint path. Now Noe is drifting in another direction, making new plans and dreams that don’t involve Annabeth. Without Noe’s constant companionship, Annabeth’s world begins to crumble. But as a chain of events pulls Annabeth further and further away from Noe, she finds herself closer and closer to discovering who she’s really meant to be—with her best friend or without.  Bonus Item: a series of postcards and a signed bookplate from the author.

Everything Leads to You by Nina Lacour – A wunderkind young set designer, Emi has already started to find her way in the competitive Hollywood film world.  Emi is a film buff and a true romantic, but her real-life relationships are a mess. She has desperately gone back to the same girl too many times to mention. But then a mysterious letter from a silver screen legend leads Emi to Ava. Ava is unlike anyone Emi has ever met. She has a tumultuous, not-so-glamorous past, and lives an unconventional life. She’s enigmatic…. She’s beautiful. And she is about to expand Emi’s understanding of family, acceptance, and true romance.  Bonus Item: a deleted scene!

I haven’t heard of Chasing Shadows or A Sense of the Infinite but I’m stoked to read them.  I can’t wait to read Everything Leads to You – ELTY was a previous bookclub pick of a month that I missed!  (Book descriptions taken from GoodReads)

IMG_5083The goodies include a colorful book light (which comes with a free e-book!) and these killer library cards from Knot & Bow!  I’m pretty generous with my book lending and I keep a list in my phone of who has what but now I have my own awesome library cards!

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Here’s one more pick of the whole awesome box! #BYA02

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