Friday, July 30, 2010

Book Blogger Hop

Book Blogger Hop

So, I'm trying something new and participating in the Book Blogger Hop today, hosted by Jen over at Crazy For Books. This is a great opportunity to check out some other book blogs and to just have fun finding out what everyone else is doing!

This week everyone's mentioning their favorite new-to-me author. Hmmm...for debuts this year, I have to say I was absolutely stunned by two. Mistwood by Leah Cypess (review here) and Paranormalcy by Kiersten White (review here). If you haven't read these two books must go this weekend to get them...really!

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Only the Good Spy Young

Only the Good Spy Young
by Ally Carter
Gallagher Girls, book four

When Cammie Morgan enrolled at the Gallagher Academy, she knew she was preparing for the dangerous life of a spy. What she didn't know was that the serious, real-life danger would start as soon as her junior year. But that's exactly what happened two months ago when she faced off against an ancient terrorist organization dead set on kidnapping her.

Now the danger follows her everywhere, and even Cammie "The Chameleon" can't hide. When a terrifying encounter in London reveals that one of her most trusted allies is actually a rogue double agent, Cammie no longer knows if she can trust her classmates, her teachers - or even her own heart.

All I can say is WOW. I loved this book, I'm now officially hooked on the series, and when I hit the end I seriously said, "What, no, I need more!"

In this volume Cammie learns much more about the spy world around her and in doing so, begins to seriously doubt, well...everything. She does some soul searching, figures out who she can trust, and ultimately makes a decision at the end of the book that leaves readers wait, make that literally drooling over what my happen in the next book.

If you haven't already started reading this series about awesome teen spies...go...go now and read them straight through. You won't be sorry.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Tween Tuesday - The Trouble With Cupid

Tween Tuesday is a weekly meme to highlight great reads for tweens hosted at GreenBeanTeenQueen. My pick for this week is:

The Trouble with Cupid
by Laura Langston

What does Erin Morris have to do to get the school's most popular hottie, Zach Cameron, to ask her out?

When a dog food company announces a competition for the "new face of Cheesebarkers" TV ad campaign, a school committee forms to find a school mascot and train it so they can win prize money for the school. And Zach Cameron is on the committee. What better place to show off her talents as a dog trainer and impress Zach?

What's great about this book is that it deals with a very serious issue, animal rights, without hitting tween readers over the head with it. The focus is on Erin and her crush on Zach. As the competition heats up, Erin not only learns some things about Zach that make her think that maybe he's not the guy she should be after, but she also realizes that the animals in the competition are being used and might even be abused! She stands up for what she believes in and learns how to trust her own feelings and express them to others.

This was a fun, mostly light read, with several great messages...and a cute cover!

Teaser Tuesday - Ascendant by Diana Peterfreund

Teaser Tuesdays is a weekly bookish meme, hosted by MizB of Should Be Reading. Anyone can play along! Just do the following:

* Grab your current read
* Open to a random page
* Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page
* BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!)
* Share the title & author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers!

by Diana Peterfreund

p. 36

"I couldn't give you up when there were rules and family and deadly mythical monsters standing between us, Astrid. What kind of person would I be if I let something as stupid as an ocean succeed?"

Monday, July 26, 2010

Mockingjay Book Trailer!

As if I needed any more enticement to read this book...
The official Scholastic book trailer for Mockingjay

Devil's Kiss

Devil's Kiss
by Sarwat Chadda

There is nothing to fear but fear itself...and Billi SanGreal.

As the youngest and only female member of the Knights Templar, Bilquis SanGreal grew up knowing she wasn't normal. Instead of hanging out at the mall or going on dates, she spends her free time training as a soldier in her order's ancient battle agianst the Unholy.

Billi's cloistered life is blasted apart when her childhood friend, Kay, returns from Jerusalem, gorgeous and with a dangerous chip on his shoulder. He's ready to reclaim his place in Billi's life, but she's met someone new: amber-eyed Michael, who seems to understand her like no one else, effortlessly claiming a stake in her heart.

But the Templars are called to duty before Billi can enjoy the pleasant new twist to her life. One of the order's ancient enemies has resurfaced, searching for a treasure that the Templars have protected for hundreds of years - a cursed mirror powerful enough to kill all London's firstborn. To save her city from catastrophe, Billi will have to put her heart aside and make sacrifices greater than any of the Templars could have imagined.
(description taken from

Billi SanGreal is one tough, but lonely, cookie. She is the one and only female Knight Templar and she has a rough time becoming that. Her training is grueling, her father treats her as a trainee, distancing himself from her. Since Kay left her years ago, she's been the only one around her age, as well.

Opening with Billi decapitating a vampire, this series rockets readers right into a dark, fascinating world. Billi is having some trouble dealing with the world's realities now that her training is over and she has to face some real-life situations. When Kay returns, Billi is happy to have someone to turn to, but also questions his reappearance in her life.

With this much emotional upheaval to deal with, Billi turns to an outsider for the possibility of romance...a decision she may come to regret.

Full of romantic tension, thrilling battle scenes, strained family relations and dark, creepy things, this was a real page turner. I could not put it down and read way longer into the night than I should have to finish it. I wholeheartedly look forward to continuing Billi's adventures in Dark Goddess.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

"Girls Who Could Definitely Kick My Butt" ARC Giveaway

I love books with strong female protagonists. My reviews will prove that over and over...and over. Yet, what's even better is a girl who's tough and flawed. Someone real. No cyborgs, please!

So in honor of my love for kick-butt heroines, I've decided to do a "Girls Who Could Definitely Kick My Butt" ARC Giveaway. I have three awesome books to make up this package deal.

Paranormalcy by Kiersten White
Evie's always thought of herself as a normal teenager, even though she works for the International Paranormal Containment Agency, her ex-boyfriend is a faerie, she's falling for a shape-shifter, and she's the only person who can see through paranormals' glamours.
But Evie's about to realize that she may very well be at the center of a dark faerie prophecy promising destruction to all paranormal creatures. So much for normal.
(see my review here)

Sisters Red by Jackson Pearce
Scarlett March lives to hunt the Fenris- the werewolves that took her eye when she was defending her sister Rosie from a brutal attack. Armed with a razor-sharp hatchet and blood-red cloak, Scarlett is an expert at luring and slaying the wolves. She's determined to protect other young girls from a grisly death, and her raging heart will not rest until every single wolf is dead.
Rosie March once felt her bond with her sister was unbreakable. Owing Scarlett her life, Rosie hunts ferociously alongside her. But even as more girls' bodies pile up in the city and the Fenris seem to be gaining power, Rosie dreams of a life beyond the wolves. She finds herself drawn to Silas, a young woodsman who is deadly with an ax and Scarlett's only friend - but does loving him mean betraying her sister and all that they've worked for?
(see my review here)

Devil's Kiss by Sarwat Chadda
There is nothing to fear but fear itself...and Billi SanGreal.
As the youngest and only female member of the Knights Templar, Bilquis SanGreal grew up knowing she wasn't normal. Instead of hanging out at the mall or going on dates, she spends her free time training as a soldier in her order's ancient battle agianst the Unholy.
Billi's cloistered life is blasted apart when her childhood friend, Kay, returns from Jerusalem, gorgeous and with a dangerous chip on his shoulder. He's ready to reclaim his place in Billi's life, but she's met someone new: amber-eyed Michael, who seems to understand her like no one else, effortlessly claiming a stake in her heart.
But the Templars are called to duty before Billi can enjoy the pleasant new twist to her life. One of the order's ancient enemies has resurfaced, searching for a treasure that the Templars have protected for hundreds of years - a cursed mirror powerful enough to kill all London's firstborn. To save her city from catastrophe, Billi will have to put her heart aside and make sacrifices greater than any of the Templars could have imagined.
(see my review here)

The women that lead the stories in each of these books are brave, strong, self-confident...well, mostly, and in general just kick butt!! In the spirit of rockin' sisterhood, I want to pass these along to inspire other readers.

To enter the ARC giveaway, just leave a comment on this post stating which of the three you want to read the most (though the lucky winner will get all three!) with your email address by Thursday, August 5th. You must live in the United States so that I can ship the books to you. You will get one extra entry if you are a follower of my blog. I will randomly draw one winner on Friday, August 6th and email you directly to get your address for shipping. Good Luck!!

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Secret of the Sirens

Secret of the Sirens
by Julia Golding
The Companions Quartet, book one

When Connie is sent to live with her aunt, she knows it's going to be one more place where she doesn't fit in. Soon she realises how wrong she is. The seaside town is full of adults and children who have strange links to creatures. It's the heart of the secret Society for the Protection of Mythical Creatures, a group of people sworn to ensure that mythical beasts are kept safe. Normally the creatures and their chosen humans work in harmony. But something abnormal is happening here. The Sirens, who for generations have kept their deadly song to themselves, are once again luring humans to their deaths. It doesn't take long for Connie to realise that the victims are oil workers. The Sirens are fed-up with their seas being polluted, but should the Society protect the Sirens or the oil industry? Connie doesn't think she has a role to play, until it becomes clear that she's a Universal - the first person in over a century who can communicate with every type of beast on earth and in the air. Her power is immense. It corrupted the previous Universal...and now he's back. And he'll use any means he can - from violence to the terrifying Storm Giants - to turn Connie to the dark side.
(description taken from

I had seen the description of this series a while ago and thought it sounded interesting, but put off reading the first book because I already read soooo many series and didn't necessarily want to pick up another one. I am glad I did, though. This is an interesting new world that Golding (the Cat Royal series) has created.

In this world the mythical creatures abound. One of my favorites was the Storm Giants (storm beings that can throw lightning, etc.), though I also loved the pegasi, dragons, dwarves, and oh gosh...there were so many cool creatures! It was really fun how the different people were able to commune with a single type of creature, but Connie, who always felt the outsider is suddenly the biggest insider of all...a Universal. One who can communicate with all of the creatures!

Though this series is based on a strong environmental message, encouraging teen readers to think about the impact of humans on the earth (here causing the mythical creatures to lose their natural habitats), the message does not overpower Connie's story. It is a delicate balance maintained well throughout the story that I hope continues in the next three books.


by Meg Cabot

Sick of hearing about vampires? So is Meena Harper.

But her bosses are making her write about them anyway, even though Meena doesn't believe in them. Not that Meena isn't familiar with the supernatural. See, Meena knows how you're going to die. (Not that you're going to believe her. No one ever does.)

But not even Meena's precognition can prepare her for what happens when she meets - then makes the mistake of falling in love with - Lucien Antonescu, a modern-day prince with a bit of a dark side. It's a dark side a lot of people, like an ancient society of vampire hunters, would prefer to see him dead for.

The problem is, Lucien's already dead. Maybe that's why he's the first guy Meena's ever met whom she could see herself having a future with. See, while Meena's always been able to see everyone else's future, she's never been able to look into her own. And while Lucien seems like everything Meena has ever dreamed of in a boyfriend, he might turn out to be more like a nightmare.

Now might be a good time for Meena to start learning to predict her own future...If she even has one.
(description taken from

I really enjoyed the tongue in cheek humor in this book. With all the "Team Edward," "Bite Me!," and more vampire hoopla going on in YA lit right now, I was almost dreading another vampire book. However...Meg Cabot. I had to check it out!

I was glad I did. For all that, yes, this was a vampire romance, it was also a little snarky and funny and well-worth the read! Meena almost jumped off the page at me, and though Lucien wasn't exactly what I would have fallen for, his vampire hunter counterpart...oh, yes, I'll take me one of those, please! Both men, (and even Meena's brother) were some smoldering hot examples of hunkiness.

The star-crossed lovers, the epic battle between two rival factions (hmmm...more than one actually - vamps vs. vamps and vamps vs. vamp hunters), and the psychic abilities of the heroine are all familiar territory, but Cabot delivers them with a new veneer. A certain epic panash that made me immediately want another book.

I would love to see where it all goes from here.

Monday, July 19, 2010

Charlie Bone and the Red Knight

Charlie Bone and the Red Knight
by Jenny Nimmo
Children of the Red King, book 8

Charlie and his friends take on the most powerful and dangerous magic in book eight of this extraordinary series. As wicked forces come to a head at Bloor's Academy, Charlie and his friends must use all their magic and all their might to fight the evil and save Charlie's parents.

In his greatest adventure yet, Charlie must discover the fate of his family, the evil intention of the Bloors, what has become of Septimus Bloor's will, and most important, the destiny of the Red Knight's heirs. But are the Children of the Red King strong enough to defeat the darkness and find their answers?

Join Charlie and his friends as they race to unlock the mystery of the Red King in this final chapter...
(description taken from

It was hard to see this series finally come to an end. When I was in my post-Harry slump, Charlie came along and took me on another magical ride. Nimmo was able to create another hero that I was wholeheartedly rooting for, with great family and friends, and intriguing enemies to battle!

I loved the first few books in the series, enjoyed the ones in the middle, and overall liked the final book. I did feel like, however, that maybe parts of this book could have been fleshed out and it could have been split into two books.

There were some really awesome twists (*no spoilers, I swear!) and awesome new magic, like a giant floating globe made of the world's oceans, and Charlie discovers some whopping secrets. Allegiances change, new friendships are forged, and the battle lines are finally, firmly drawn...and then it wraps up in one chapter.

One. One chapter. That was my only real issue. It just ended so abruptly! I wasn't prepared. There was a lot of set up, then BAM. There you go. The end. It almost hurt a little!

Has anyone else read these? Did you have the same reaction?

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Den of Thieves

Den of Thieves
by Julia Golding
Cat Royal Adventures, book three

Traitors, Captives, and a People's Revolution.
The third volume of the Cat Royal Adventure series takes readers to Paris on a covert mission.

The Theater Royal is closed for renovations, so Mr. Sheridan commissions Cat to act as his spy in revolutionary Paris. Disguised as a ballerina, Cat joins the revolution, only to find that it is up to her to save her friends when they are captured as traitors. Like the previous two books in the series, The Diamond of Drury Lane and Cat Among Pigeons, Den of Thieves is filled with disguises, danger, drama, and most of all, the impressive Cat Royal.
(description taken from

This is a great tween-aged adventure series with a strong female character. I love Cat Royal and am impressed with how Julia Golding continues to invent great adventures for her heroine. Cat has passion for life, a great blend of sensitivity and street smarts, great friends, and a habit of falling into trouble.

This book really gave Cat the opportunity to see who she really is as a person, outside of the theater. Cat learned more about why her friends really love her and would do anything to protect her. Pedro, Frank, Lizzie, Johnny, Syd and even the Duke, the Duchess, and Mr. Sheridan all proved again what Cat means to them.

The revolutionary France setting was very interesting, too. Often stories set in this time period focus on the aristocrats, but to see what life would have been like as a regular citizen, even a thief, was very interesting. I'm curious to see what Golding does when she sends Cat to America...

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Anxiously Awaiting...

The Dark and Hollow Places
by Carrie Ryan

I loved both The Forest of Hands and Teeth and its companion The Dead-Tossed Waves. The Dark and Hollow Places is the sequel to The Dead-Tossed Waves and after the way that one ended I cannot wait to read it ASAP!!

Plus, isn't this cover just...evocative?! So simple, yet so powerful.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Awesome Author Website and Upcoming Book

I am an avid follower of Kierstin White's blog, Kiersten Writes. Yesterday she posted about this awesome author website,, and when I checked it out I was soooo impressed I wanted to pass it on to all of you.

I love all of the illustrations by Manning Leonard Krull!! Most are some type of monster mash-up that Carrie loves to create to help get her writing juices flowing. See "merpire" above! :P

Carrie Harris is the author of the upcoming title, Bad Taste in Boys. It is a really good sounding zombie book that comes out next summer. I am already anxiously awaiting this one!!

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Generation Dead

Generation Dead
by Daniel Waters

Phoebe is just your typical goth girl with a crush. He's strong, and silent, and dead.

All over the country, a strange phenomenon is happening. Some teenagers who die aren't staying dead. They are coming back to life, but they are no longer the same - they stutter, and their reactions to everything are slower. Termed "living impaired" or "differently biotic," they are doing their best to fit into a society that doesn't want them.

Fitting in is hard enough when you don't have the look or attitude, but when almost everyone else is alive and you're not, it's close to impossible. The kids at Oakvale High don't want to take classes or eat in the cafeteria next to someone who isn't breathing. And there are no laws that exist to protect the differently biotic from the people who want them to disappear - for good.

With her pale skin and Goth wardrobe, Phoebe has never run with the popular crowd. But no one can believe it when she falls for Tommy Williams, the leader of the dead kids. Not her best friend, Margi, whose fear of the differently biotic is deeply rooted in guilt over the past. And especially not her neighbor, Adam, the star of the football team. Adam has just realized his feelings for Phoebe run much deeper than just friendship. He would do anything for her, but what if protecting Tommy is the one thing that would make her happy? (description taken from

This was a really well written book. It's a cool concept. Teenagers, just in the US (and a few in Canada) coming back as zombies. I loved reading the different potential explainations for the phenomenon, especially when Tommy finally tells Phoebe why he thinks that different zombies are able to be more highly functioning. Waters is able to present this topic in a humorous way, while still exploring some deeper emotions.

In fact, racism and discrimination are HUGE topics in this book. Yet, it's done in such a way that it's touching and the reader becomes invested in the characters and so it doesn't have that overwhelming heavy feeling that can totally ruin a book with its overarching concept. Waters presents not only the evidence that zombies are being murdered because they are "unnatural," but also allows readers to see how easily "traditionally biotics" can grow to hate.

There are degrees of fear and hatred shown, from Margi's fear derived from guilt over her friend's death, to Adam and Phoebe's mild fears of the unknown, to Pete's overwhelming, unrelenting, and unreasonable hate...that leads to some atrocious plans. What really struck me about this book was that it also showed the fear and hate that builds on the receiving end of this kind of racism. Several of the zombies are afraid to interact with "trads" for fear of being hurt. There is a moment when Adam and one of the zombies, Karen, connect and he kisses her cheek - she is overcome by the fact that he did she was any other girl. Honestly, that was my favorite moment in the whole book!

There were moments when I felt like this book sort of dragged for me, but each time I thought about maybe, just maybe taking a break, two pages later one of the excellently drawn characters sucked me right back in! I loved Karen, Evan, Thorny, and Adam...

There was quite a bit of foreshadowing in this book, and I like where it's leading. Then with the big twist at the end....I will definitely be reading Kiss of Life very shortly!!

Monday, July 12, 2010

Don't Judge a Girl By Her Cover

Don't Judge a Girl by Her Cover
by Ally Carter
The Gallagher Girls, book three

When Cammie "the Chameleon" Morgan visits her roommate Macey in Boston, she thinks she's in for an exciting end to her summer break. After all, she's their to watch Macey's father accept the nomination for vice president of the United States. But when you go to the world's best school (for spies), "exciting" and "deadly" are never far apart. Cammie and Macey soon find themselves trapped in a kidnapper's plot, with only their espionage skills to save them.

As her junior year begins, Cammie can't shake the memory of what happened in Boston, and even the Gallagher Academy for Exceptional Young Women doesn't feel like the safe haven it once did. Shocking secrets and old flames seem to lurk around every one of the mansion's corners as Cammie and her friends struggle to answer the questions, Who is after Macey? And how can the Gallagher Girls keep her safe?

Soon Cammie is joining Bex and Liz as Macey's private security team on the campaign trail. The girls must use their spy training at every turn as the stakes are raised, and Cammie gets closer and closer to the shocking truth...

Ally Carter always seems to be able to keep me on my toes as a reader. Just when I think I have things figured out...nope...there is a twist! And another...and another.

I loved seeing not only Cammie's ex make a cameo, but also the elusive Zach. There was some great foreshadowing to Zach potentially having a dark side. I hope that's explored further in Only the Good Spy Young because I find him a really great character.

I also really enjoyed getting to know a little bit more about Macey, her family, and yes, Cammie's family!! No, let me just say, you learn a little bit more about the history of the school and how some of the intregal families relate to one another.

The four roommates, Cammie, Liz, Becks, and Macey also learn more about themselves, their limitations, each other, and how to bring out the best in each other while still being safe.

A whirlwind of a read with heart!

Monday, July 5, 2010

The Unidentified

The Unidentified
by Rae Mariz

In a startlingly possible dystopian society, the school system has failed to the point that the government gave over control of national education to corporations. These conglomerates have banded together to create what are known as "Game Centers." Here students like Katey Dade, or Kid, go to "school" daily in refurbished shopping malls. They swipe cards to get in and out, they carry issued cell phones with GPS trackers, they post continuously to profile pages and status feeds (eerily similar to Facebook and Twitter), while administrators and corporate officials monitor their every move. Students who acheive the highest scores in games, set the coolest fashion trends, and gain the utmost popularity are "Branded," instantly becoming infamous nationwide and assisting the corporations to plug their wares.

Kid coasts, never looking to become "Branded," until one day through her drawing attention to a malicious seeming prank, Kid is taken up by not just one corporate sponsor, but two, as a "trendspotter" instead of a trendsetter. As she tries to balance new expectations suddenly placed on her life with betrayals by lifelong friends and new relationships, including a potential new boyfriend, Kid also begins to question the structure around her. Drawn to the prank pulling group calling themselves "The Unidentified," Kid longs for her previous anonymity and blissful ignorance of the shady dealings all around her.

Fans of The Hunger Games and The Maze Runner will enjoy this new dystopian society. It was actually somewhat scary to imagine our education system converting to something like this, yet it wasn't inconceivable. The fact that corporations run so much in our lives already made this scenario feel ridiculously possible.

Kid felt very "real" to me. She wants to date the cute guy, hang out with her friends, and have fun. She doesn't, however, want to be the next "it" girl, and that's where everything starts to go wrong for her. Her friends were also very realistic characters with flaws that made them seem exactly like today's high school students, just in a really cool new type of school.

Since it's very easy to inadvertently give spoilers in this type of book I will just say that this book made me think, creeped me out a little because it felt possible, and left me filled with hope in the end. A very good read!

Full disclosure: ARC received to review for School Library Journal.


by Gail Carriger
The Parasol Protectorate, book one

Alexia Tarabotti is laboring under a great many social tribulations. First, she has no soul. Second, she's a spinster whose father is both Italian and dead. Third, she was rudely attacked by a vampire, breaking all standards of social ettiquette.

Where to go from there? From bad to worse apparently, for Alexia accidentally kills the vampire - and then the appalling Lord Maccon (loud, messy, gorgeous, and werewolf) is sent by Queen Victoria to investigate.

With unexpected vampires appearing and expected vampires disappearing, everyone seems to believe Alexia is responsible. Can she figure out what is actually happening to London's high society? Will her soulless ability to negate supernatural powers prove useful or just plain embarassing? Finally, who is the real enemy, and do they have treacle tart? (taken from back jacket copy)

This is paranormal romance at its finest. This is steampunk at its finest. This is the best combination of the two that I have come across yet! I LOVED the start of this new series and kicked myself that I did not read this book sooner.

Alexia is my favorite kind of heroine. Determined, intelligent, independent, resourceful, yet still vulnerable. I love that she carries a specially ordered parasol for protection. I love that she can be snarky with the head London Werewolf. You have to love that chutzpah!!

Lord Maccon, Conall, is one sexy beast...and yes, I do mean that almost literally. He is an Alpha Werewolf and he wants nothing more than to have Alexia for his own. His second, Professor Lyall, cracked me up...balancing propriety with scientific advancement and practicality to assist his Alpha in all aspects of pack life.

What made this great steampunk is the setting and descriptions. Alexia and the others are in Victorian London, complete with hackney carriages, strolls in Hyde Park, going to routs, etc., but they also have dirigibles, exsanguination machines, and many other more advanced scientific machinations. The delicate balance between Alexia's manners, dress, and societal expectations with her bluestocking nature and interest in all the advancements around her pulls readers right into a world that feels natural.

Add to that mix a sprinkling of vampires, werewolves, ghosts, automatons, and more! Ahh, I was in heaven. I cannot wait to read Changeless and Blameless!!

Sunday, July 4, 2010


by Lili St. Crow
Strange Angels, book two

No more little miss nice girl.

The Real World is a frightening place. Just ask sixteen-year-old orphan Dru Anderson, a tough girl who has taken on her fair share of bad guys. She's armed, dangerous, and not going down without a fight. So it's gonna take her a while to figure out who she can trust...

Poor Dru. Her parents are long gone. Her best (okay, only) friend Graves has been bitten by a werwulf. And she just learned that the blood flowing through her veins isn't entirely human. Now Dru's strange and handsome savior, Christophe, has her hidden away at a secret Schola for djamphir and wulfen teens. Trouble is, she's the only girl in the place. The really bad news? Dru's killer instinct says that one of her schoolmates wants her dead.

St. Crow did it again. I started this book and could not put it down. I gobbled it up in one sitting and then immediately wanted the next one! Dru is an awesome Buffy or a female version of Dean from Supernatural.

The cover of this book really captures the characters well. Dru is confused and trying to survive in unfamiliar territory, unsure of who her enemies are and what powers she may grow to have as a svetocha. Graves, now a loup-garou, able to utilize werwulfen powers without becoming furry, only wants to protect Dru. Christophe on the other hand, claims he wants to protect and train Dru, but keeps disappearing and leaving Dru to be looked at by others...some of whom may not have her best interests at heart.

While Dru is struggling to figure things out she is also confused about her feelings for these two very different young-ish boys. In a whirlwind few days, Dru is able to run with the werwulfen, has to fight off the bloodlust, can sense new things, and questions everything around her. As it seems more and more likely that someone is out to get Dru, who can she really afford to trust?

Excitement. Danger. Betrayal. Secrets. Passion. Friendship.

Just plain awesome!

The Gardener

The Gardener
by S.A. Bodeen

Mason has never known his father, but longs to. All he has of him is a DVD of a man whose face is never seen, reading a children's book. One day, on a whim, he plays the DVD for a group of comatose teens at the nursing home where his mother works. One of them, a beautiful girl, responds. Mason learns she is part of a horrible experiment intended to render teenagers into autotrophs - genetically engineered, self-sustaining life-forms who don't need food or water to survive. And before he knows it, Mason is on the run with the girl, and wanted, dead or alive, by the mysterious mastermind of this gruesome plan, who is simply called The Gardener.

Will Mason be forced to destroy the thing he's longed for most?

To be totally honest, I was disappointed in this book. It had gotten great reviews and I loved her earlier book, "The Compound." The concept for this book intrigued me. Turning teens into self-sufficient

While I thought Mason was a really interesting character and I liked the relationship that he had with his mother...I spent most of my time mentally yelling at Mason. Though there was a lot of action, Mason spent most of the time running around oblivious to all of the things that seemed blindingly obvious to me. If he had been a little more intuitive I would have enjoyed the rest of the book a lot more.

Zan-Gah and the Beautiful Country

Zan-Gah and the Beautiful Country
by Allan Richard Shickman

Well past the middle of the night Zan felt a shaking of his shoulder as he slept, and then an impatient foot kicking at him. Instinctively grabbing for his spear, he looked up and saw the orange glow of a torch, and as his eyes adjusted to the invading light he recognized his brother's ghastly face. Dael's dangerous brow was furrowed, and the vein of his forehead bulged under the old scar. His teeth were clenched, and his eyes darted nervously back and forth. His every motion expressed a profound agitation, and Zan knew that what he had been dreading had come.
"It is time, Zan. Let us go!"

"Where? It's dark!"
"I want to find where the river comes from."

The volcanic turbulence that shakes Dael's mind carries him to vicious extremes. It is Zan's task to calm his brother and lead him away from thoughts both destructive and self-destructive. But even the paradise of the Beautiful Country will not erase them. (taken from back cover copy)

Again Shickman draws readers into the turbulent prehistoric world of Zan-Gah and his Ba-Coro tribe. Since rescuing his brother, Zan-Gah has continued to be treated as a leader. After Dael's wife dies, his grief drives him almost to madness. As thoughts of revenge on all those who had previously wronged him, including his once beloved twin, Dael becomes another leader, causing those who follow him to question breaking their tribe apart for good.

This fast paced, easy to read book includes love, betrayal, jealousy, courage, inventiveness, and fanaticism, making for an exciting read. Each character grows in interesting ways and many concepts about right and wrong, good and evil, are explored.

A good pick for a middle school reader looking for some excitement! Readers do not even have to start with the first book. Enough is recapped in this one that it is not necessary, though it would be recommended.

Full disclosure: Received from publisher for review.

Saturday, July 3, 2010

Mackenzie Blue: Friends Forever

Friends Forever
by Tina Wells
Mackenzie Blue, book three

Mackenzie Blue is hitting the trails!

It's time for Brookdale Academy's camping field trip, but Zee has much more to deal with than a lesson about nature.

I'm not sure how I feel about spending an entire week in the woods away from home.

Pros: 1. My BFF, Ally, is visiting all the way from Paris! Ooh la la!
2. My friends and I are so going to win the environmental scavenger hunt!

Cons: 1. We have to stay in teeny-tiny log cabins. How will we all fit?
2. The legendary (and terrifying) Mountain Man...

Zee is determined to have a great time at Brookdale Mountain, but when her friends stop getting along she can't help but wonder: Will the trip be a bust?

This is a series I wish had been around when I was entering middle school. Mackenzie is such a relatable character...she's started a new school, her BFF moved away so she had to make all new friends, and she's starting to have real feelings for boys.

What makes Zee stand out, though, is that even when she's unsure or scared, she's still herself. She's unapologetic about the things she likes and she really cares about everyone around her. She is a fantastic role-model for tween readers! Zee likes to customize her clothes, room, accessories...everything. She is in an awesome new band. She loves adventure and wants to be a rock star.
I want to be Zee!!

In her newest adventure, Zee and the other "Beans" head out on the school's week-long camping trip. Zee has never been away from home before and is somewhat anxious. When she starts to have encounters with the legendary "Mountain Man" her tension really amps up. Add to that, awful stomachaches, her fears that the band might be breaking up, and her two girl BFFs not getting along, and Zee is facing one stressful trip!

Wells does a great job building tension, exploring tweens' fears and feelings, building awesome friendships and even popping in environmental and social concern issues without overwhelming the characters and basic plotline. It flows really well and is fun to read.

Tween girls will love this series as it is peppered with diary entries, drawings, instant messages, emails, and lots of "things" to look at along the way. If they liked Diary of a Wimpy Kid definitely steer them in this direction.

Don't forget to check out Mackenzie Blue and The Secret Crush!

Highly recommended for the tween set.

Full disclosure: Provided by publisher for review

Friday, July 2, 2010

Twice Bitten

Twice Bitten
by Chloe Neill
Chicagoland Vampires, book three

Shapeshifters from across the country are convening in the Windy City, and as a gesture of peace, Master Vampire Ethan Sullivan has offered their leader a very special bodyguard: Merit, Chicago's newest vampire. Merit is supposed to protect the Alpha, Gabriel Keene - and to spy for the vamps while she's at it. Oh, and luckily Ethan's offering some steamy, one-on-one combat training sessions to help her prepare for the mission.

Unfortunately, someone is gunning for Gabriel, and Merit soon finds herself in the line of fire. She'll need all the help she can get to track down the would-be assassin, but everywhere she turns, there are rising tensions between supernaturals - not least between her and a certain green-eyed, centuries old master vampire.
(description taken from

Let me just say I was stoked, no, beyond stoked to find this on the shelf at my local Borders, since it doesn't officially come out until Tuesday. What a stroke of luck. I rushed home, opened it, and steadily devoured every word! I love this series and every book keeps getting better.

Merit still kicks some major butt and with a great, snarky attitude that I am absolutely 100% behind! Woot. Without giving spoilers, I'll tell you that we get to see a LOT more of the shapeshifters in this one. I especially loved getting to see more Jeff, who happens to be my favorite of ALL the guys. Yes, even including Ethan. I am Team Jeff all the way.

However, I will admit that chapter eight...oh chapter very, very steamy and well worth reading. No more on that right'll have to read for yourself.

Here there is betrayal, family loyalties that are divided, lust, revenge, jealousy...all the elements that make me flip a page almost faster than I can actually read it! I am so ready for book four to come tomorrow!!

I LOVE Georgia Nicolson!!

Hello my marvy chumettes!!

If you have not already met Miss Georgia Nicolson, full of fabulousness and fun, you need to meet her ASAP! Run out and get the first book, Angus, Thongs, and Full-Frontal Snogging.

This is the first book in the ten book series by Louise Rennison. Miss Georgia presents her life in a diary full of hilariousity, generosity, geniousity, snogging (that's Billy Shakespeare-land speak for kissing for those of you from Hamberger-a-go-go land, also known as America) and a Sex God, a Luuurve God, and a Laugh!
I read Angus, Thongs, and Full-Frontal Snogging years ago. The vocabulary was a little overwhelming at that point so I didn't follow through with the series, but then a few months ago, I saw "Angus, Thongs, and Perfect Snogging" on TV. I instantly fell in love with this movie and not only ordered a copy for the Library, but also got one for myself.

The story is funny, the acting is great, and it's one of those movies I could watch again and again. Thus, I developed a new obsession with reading more of Miss Georgia's adventures. Off I set on a mission to finish the series! ...and now I have.
It was SOOO worth it. Not only are the books so full of hilariousity that I was afraid of either snorting out beverages or having to run to the Piddily-diddily department, but Georgia also grows in such wonderful ways that you can't help but love her....and her boys...and the Ace Gang.
Ahhh...did I mention the boys? Along the way, I believe I already mentioned that Georgia has a Sex God, an Italian Stallion, also known as the Luuurve God, a Whelk boy, Mark Big Gob, and a real Laugh. As the series progressed I know who I was rooting for all I'm sure many readers and Georgia's bffs all were too, but watching Georgia finally realize what we all knew all along was fun and kept me going for a looooooong time. No spoilers, I promise, but it was definitely worth the wait. My only complaint - Miss Louise Rennison...can we please have one more book just to see Miss Georgia and her true love finally together and dating like normal people???? Pllleeeassse????
Georgia Nicolson series:
1. Angus, Thongs, and Full-Frontal Snogging
2. On the Bright Side, I'm Now the Girlfriend of a Sex God
3. Knocked Out by My Nunga-Nungas
4. Dancing in My Nuddy Pants
5. Away Laughing on a Fast Camel
6. Then He Ate My Boy Entrancers
7. Startled by His Furry Shorts
8. Love is a Many Trousered Thing
9. Stop in the Name of Pants
10. Are These My Basoomas I See Before Me?