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TheMrsKetcham

Ketcham in the Rye

I like big books and I cannot lie. When I'm not teaching English to the youth of America, I am reading a book. Why? Because books are amazeballs!

Currently reading

The Rosie Project
Graeme Simsion
The Goldfinch
Donna Tartt

Suspicion by Alexandra Monir

Suspicion - Alexandra Monir

American-raised Imogen Rockford becomes the Duchess of Wickersham after the untimely deaths of all heirs including her parents. While not quite ready to play the role of the aristocrat, Imogen moves back to Rockford Manor to claim her birthright and falls into a tangled web of lies and deceit.

 

Suspicion by Alexandra Monir was a paranormal mystery. I was expecting the mystery…the paranormal not so much. While there were gaping (I use the word mildly here) plot holes and Imogen was kind of boring, I love England. So I guess, I liked it more because it dealt with the British aristocracy and had the inkling of gothic characteristics. If it wasn’t set in this atmosphere, the story would have been laughable. Imogen’s ridiculous crush on Sebastian was cliché, and the plot twist with her cousin Lucia was so laughable that I literally can’t even.

 

I will not read the sequel because I just don’t care what Imogen finds out about her special powers or what her ancestor left her.  

 

I received this ARC from NetGalley and Delacorte Press in exchange for an honest review.

There Will Be Lies by Nick Lake

There Will Be Lies - Nick Lake

There Will Be Lies by Nick Lake was really hard to read. I tried. I really did. This book was nearly a DNF, but I powered through. I think it started with the ambiguity over Shelby Jane Cooper’s disability. While I appreciate some mysteriousness and enjoy surprises, I felt that the [ ] were too vague, and I kept thinking that I was missing something. When it finally was revealed, I thought, “Well, that would have been nice to know for sure.”

 

Then came the dream world landscape. What the literal heck was that? I didn’t get it. I don’t want to get it. I thought the story that took place in reality was enough. I enjoyed the anticipation and thought the countdown to Shelby Jane’s death was intriguing. I just could not grasp the story in its entirety. So while this book is not for me, it might be for someone else.

 

I received this ARC from NetGalley and Bloomsbury in exchange for an honest review.

This Shattered World by Amie Kaufman & Meagan Spooner

This Shattered World - Amie Kaufman, Meagan Spooner

What I thought was going to be a continuation of the story of Tarver and Lilac ended up being a story about a  different pair of star-crossed lovers. Jubilee Chase, a captain for  the force, and Flynn Cormac, an Avon rebel insurgent, become unlikely partners fighting for the same cause.

 

First, I have to say that although I was disappointed that the story didn't revolve around two of my favorite fictional characters, I did enjoy this companion novel to These Broken Stars. My only problem was that the sequence between the dual POV in This Shattered World, which I guess are Jubilee's dreams, weren't as compelling or plot-driving as the debriefing sequence between POV switch in These Broken Stars. Because of this, I had a harder time seeing where the story was going. I did enjoy when the two worlds blended together once Tarver and Lilac were introduced into the novel.

 

Overall, I am anticipating the third installment in this series and am curious to see where the authors take the next novel. I would recommend both These Broken Stars and This Shattered World to my students.

 

Thanks Disney-Hyperion and NetGalley for this ARC in exchange for an honest review.

Queen of Someday by Sherry D. Ficklin

Queen of Someday - Sherry D. Ficklin

Fifteen-year-old Sophie leaves her beloved Germany to win the heart of Peter, future Emperor of Russia. This historical fiction is loosely based on the early life of Catherine the Great, the longest female ruler of Russia.

First of all, that cover! Beautiful. I was excited to read this novel as I love historical fiction. The story, while not entirely historically accurate, did capture my interest from beginning to end. I enjoyed Sophie's character, especially at the beginning when she fought off the bandits on her way to the Russian court. Her mother was believably portrayed as selfish and title hungry. 

My only problem with the storyline was the amount of love interests. At first Peter was immature but likeable but quickly turned to a dark character with little or no redeeming qualities. Sergei and Alexander were too similar and could have been the same character. 

I loved the description of the royal court and would have liked if there were more references to that particular era's history and lifestyle. Although I knew it took place in 1700s, it didn't read that way. It was modern in both dialogue and ideology. However, I am sure that this will appeal to audiences who are looking for a romance with a side of betrayal.

Thanking Clean Teen Publishing and NetGalley for this ARC in exchange for an honest review.

The Here and Now by Ann Brashares

The Here and Now - Ann Brashares

Prenna James arrived in New York at the young age of twelve.  Not off a boat.  No, she came from the future.  A world so ruined that those uninfected by a mosquito-borne plague must escape to a different time.  Rules are to be followed so that no one knows that she and those that traveled with her are not who they seem to be.  Prenna follows the rules, religiously.  Until she meets Ethan.

 

I wanted to like The Here and Now by Ann Brashares more than I did.  I guess maybe there is just too much of an influx of dystopian literature for YA out there right now.  Don’t get me wrong.  I liked it.  It was original.  I just wish there was a more substantial plot.  There were times when I could put it down and walk away for weeks and not think about it.  This is when I knew that it wasn’t great.  However, when I came back to it, I did enjoy it.  So…I will have to say that I liked it but it’s not memorable. 

 

I received this book as an ARC from NetGalley.  Thanks, Delacorte Press!

 

We Were Liars by E. Lockhart

We Were Liars - E. Lockhart

We Were Liars by E. Lockhart…sigh.  I will not summarize this book.  Let me just say, there are lies.  I truly loved this book.  I would read it with a dog. I would read it in the fog.  I would read it all alone.  I would read it on my phone.  While I enjoyed the plot development and obviously the plot twist, I have to say that I appreciated the literary merit of the style of writing more.  The choppy sentences followed by long descriptions really made Cadence Sinclair Eastman real to me.  Students will love this book because it’s filled with mystery, romance, and suspense.  Plus, it’s just well-written.

 

I received this book as an ARC from NetGalley.  Thanks, Delacorte Press!

 

Sweet Filthy Boy by Christina Lauren

Sweet Filthy Boy - Christina Lauren

Mia Holland and her friends celebrate their college graduation with a trip to Vegas.  What happens in Vegas stays in Vegas, right?  Wrong.  Mia meets Ansel Guillaume and marries him in a drunken stupor.  Hoping for freedom from the oppression of her father, Mia follows Ansel to France for the summer.  When this stranger becomes the man of her dreams will she be able to leave this summer fling behind her?

 

Sweet Filthy Boy by Christina Lauren is a quick, fun read.  I have read Christina Lauren’s Beautiful Bastard Series and although this book series follows the same plot setup, girl and friends end up with guy and friends, it doesn't seem repetitive.  While it is steamy, it’s not crude.  The characters are developed in way that the reader can see growth in both Mia and Ansel and is rewarded with a happy ending.  I am looking forward to the next book in the series.

 

I received this book as an ARC from NetGalley.  Thanks, Gallery Books!

Hush by Stacey Campbell

Reblogged from Ketcham in the Rye:
Hush (Lakeview Series) - Stacey R. Campbell

Hush by Stacey R. Campbell is the first novel in the Lakeview Series.  Attending Lakeview Academy, a boarding in school in Canada, Blakely Henry meets Max Ryder, a British exchange student.  What Blakely doesn’t know is that he is there to investigate the possibility that she is the last remaining Tamuran princess.  Although Blakely knows she is adopted, she loves her adoptive parents and, after a brief attempt to locate her biological parents turns up no results, is content with her life the way it is.  Yet when the mystery surrounding her birth and adoption is revealed, Blakely is in for some major changes.

 

What I was expecting was The Princess Diaries…what I got was a mediocre love story.  Yes, this book has mystery and suspense, but I felt that it was overshadowed by page after page of Max pursuing Blakely and Blakely being hesitant.  When she finally decides to move past the friend zone with Max, every plot line intensifies and is over like a firework.  I felt the end was rushed and there was no real motivation for me to continue reading the next book.  Maybe the next in the series, the reader will get to see Blakely in the role of a princess and how she deals with the inner and external conflict that will surely come with it.  I just hope it isn’t only about Max feeling like he can’t be with her because he’s just a “commoner.”

 

I received this ARC from NetGalley. Thanks, Green Darner Press!

Hush by Stacey Campbell

Hush (Lakeview Series) - Stacey R. Campbell

Hush by Stacey R. Campbell is the first novel in the Lakeview Series.  Attending Lakeview Academy, a boarding in school in Canada, Blakely Henry meets Max Ryder, a British exchange student.  What Blakely doesn’t know is that he is there to investigate the possibility that she is the last remaining Tamuran princess.  Although Blakely knows she is adopted, she loves her adoptive parents and, after a brief attempt to locate her biological parents turns up no results, is content with her life the way it is.  Yet when the mystery surrounding her birth and adoption is revealed, Blakely is in for some major changes.

 

What I was expecting was The Princess Diaries…what I got was a mediocre love story.  Yes, this book has mystery and suspense, but I felt that it was overshadowed by page after page of Max pursuing Blakely and Blakely being hesitant.  When she finally decides to move past the friend zone with Max, every plot line intensifies and is over like a firework.  I felt the end was rushed and there was no real motivation for me to continue reading the next book.  Maybe the next in the series, the reader will get to see Blakely in the role of a princess and how she deals with the inner and external conflict that will surely come with it.  I just hope it isn’t only about Max feeling like he can’t be with her because he’s just a “commoner.”

 

I received this ARC from NetGalley. Thanks, Green Darner Press!

The Underground City by HP Mallory

The Underground City  - H.P. Mallory

I have been a huge fan of HP Mallory for over a year. At first I felt that this series had so much potential but fell short after the first book. The second book definitely improved my opinion. I felt that Tallis Black lacked major development. The Underground City makes up for this and then some. Lily Harper grows as a character but I'm still not feeling Bill. I would like for him to have some redeeming qualities rather than being just the comic relief. More world development outside of the underground city would make this book excellent; however, HP is definitely moving in he right direction with this series. If only there wasn't such an abrupt ending!!!  

The Ring and the Crown by Melissa de la Cruz

The Ring and The Crown - Melissa  de la Cruz

The Ring and the Crown by Melissa de la Cruz was different from any other YA novel I've read. Historical fiction but in an alternate magical world was really cool. Who wouldn't like an underdog princess with her magical best friend? Although the romance was stereotypical, I did enjoy the soap opera-like quality of the book. I wish there was more of the world description and maybe one less character storyline. That's where this book falls short of being really good instead of average. I felt that de la Cruz tried to do too much. Princess Marie and Aelywn were interesting enough without having to go into the other secondary characters. I wanted more. Instead I felt I didn't get to truly know them. I liked the story of Ronan Astor and would have enjoyed it more had she had her own book.

 

Ultimately, there were too many characters with too similar voices. I did enjoy the magical alternate historical setting so I will read the next book in the series to see if there is a more tightly woven story. 

Don't Even Think About It

Don't Even Think About It - Sarah Mlynowski

Don't Even Think About It by Sarah Mlynowski is a tough one for me to review. I'm not sure if I'm too far removed from the topic that it just didn't appeal to me or if it was just all together poorly conceived.

 

First, let's discuss the subject matter. A group of teens get a vaccine and find out they can (insert gasp) hear each other's thoughts. I don't know if this is what is truly going on inside the heads of teenagers but I'd like to think there was more going on than what was provided in the book. It was so superficial and I just couldn't help but think that there had to be a better way to depict teenagers. There was no real suspense and the characters were so mundane that I couldn't get myself to care what happened to them.

 

As far as style of writing, I didn't like the use of the word "we" and then no one in the story was "I". I felt that the storyline lent itself to one character's first person narration. Overall, I would not recommend this book as I feel that it could have been so much more if there was more depth. Not that all books should be literary classics, but Don't Even Think About It was barely readable.

 

I received this ARC from NetGalley. Thanks, Random House Children's!

Fire & Flood by Victoria Scott

Fire & Flood - Victoria Scott

Tella Holloway is your typical teenage girl.  She likes Greek food, mani-pedis, and fashion; however, her brother is dying, and she has a chance to save him but will it cost Tella her life? 

 

Where do I begin?  Was I hooked?  Yes!  Did I read this book in one day?  Yes!  It was like The Hunger Games had a baby with The Golden Compass.  I couldn't put it down. 

 

Fire & Flood by Victoria Scott starts off with Tella, originally from bustling Boston now transplanted in isolated Montana.  She has no smartphone, no computer, no social networking, in fact, she doesn't even get to go to school anymore.  Her older brother, Cody, has a life threatening illness for which there is no cure.  When Tella finds a tiny earpiece that tells her she is a contender in the Brimstone Bleed, where the winner gets a cure for any illness, she jumps at the chance for adventure and to save her brother's life. 

 

First of all, the voice of Tella is great.  She has a funny, snarky side that separates her from other YA heroines.  Other characters in the book are well-written and engaging.  They don't seem stereotypical, and the reader is vested in their successes and failures.  The plot moves quickly but Scott doesn't skimp on description and world building.  Perhaps the most interesting aspect of this first novel in the series is the Pandoras.  Who doesn't want a superhero animal sidekick?  The special powers of each Pandora are revealed throughout the novel and learning about them slowly is like opening a Christmas present. 

 

Perhaps the only complaint would be the lack of characterization of Tella's family members.  Her mother, especially, seems to play a larger role in the upcoming books and having more information about her at the beginning would have made this less of a leap when revealed at the end of the book.

 

Overall, this is a great book for readers interested in a science-fiction book with a fast moving plot and intense action.  The romance between Tella and Guy is just enough to be rewarding but not overpowering.  This isn't a story about romantic love but one of overcoming great obstacles to save a family member.  What would you do to save the life of someone you love?

 

I received this ARC from NetGalley!  Thanks, Scholastic!

The Shadow Throne (The Ascendance Trilogy #3) by Jennifer Nielsen

The Shadow Throne - Jennifer A. Nielsen

War. Is. Coming. 

 

Jaron the Ascendant King of Carthya must use his wits to save both his friends and his kingdom.

 

Before I turn all fangirl on you, let me explain. I read. A lot. With that being said, I can count on one hand the number of times a character has made me laugh out loud. When Nielsen first introduced me to Sage in The False Prince, I fell in love with the voice of this young orphan with more snark than bite. He's tough yet vulnerable, kind yet cunning, and his tongue is sharper than his sword. It takes a lot for an author to develop such a distinct voice. It is Jaron's voice that will remain as one of my all time favorites.

 

Now, on to book three, The Shadow Throne. I won a signed ARC the day after Christmas, and it was like Christmas...again. The Runaway King prepared us for a war that was going to test the young king and The Shadow Throne did not disappoint. The action was both believable and well-paced. The cast of characters from the previous books were all present and dynamically written. It's great to see growth not only in our main character but the secondary characters as well. 

 

I have to say that although I wanted to savor this book, I devoured it in one day. It was that gripping. When I finished, I sighed and my heart was happy. Literally, that's what happened. 

 

I rate this book a 5 out of 5 and would recommend it as part of any middle grade curriculum. This would be a great book, in fact, to teach young readers and writers about voice. As a high school English teacher, I have and will continue to shove this book into the hands of any of my students ready to be taken on a magical journey. I know I have no regrets. 

 

Dangerous by Shannon Hale

 

Danger is her middle name, and I warn you, dear reader, Maisie Brown knows how to find it. As a teenager, facing living with a disability, Maisie dreams of a world outside of the safe comforts of her homeschooled life. More specifically, she dreams of space.

 

"Every superhero has an origin story. Mine began with a box of cereal." Shannon Hale captures the reader's attention right away with these two lines, but is Maisie a superhero? This is where I fluctuate between liking and feeling indifferent towards Dangerous. I liked that she was a strong and smart science genius. In a society where heroines aren't necessarily nerds, I was all, "Yes! Nerdfighters unite!" Then she got all weepy over a boy. That she knew one day. Ugh!

 

Two characters that I did love from beginning to end: Maisie's Dad and Luther, her best friend (or Robin to her Batman). Dr. Nicholas Brown had just enough dorky dad qualities to make him both realistic and lovable. His "punny" one-liners made me grin and roll my eyes, like any teenager. Luther, Maisie's faithful best friend, was sincere and genuine.

 

I guess, as a whole the book, was entertaining. It seemed to jump very quickly through the plot without quite developing it fully. There was little world-building and I need that in my science-fiction. Astronaut camp would have been so much cooler if there was more of it. There are certainly plot twists that keep the reader guessing and Hale does a great job making sure we're never quite sure who the villain is.

 

Overall, I would rate his 3 out of 5 stars. I wouldn't read it again, but I would recommend it to my students who like science fiction or even comic books as it does have a superhero vibe to it.

 

I received this ARC from NetGalley. Thanks Bloomsbury!