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Friday, December 30, 2011

2011 Zombie Reading Challenge Wrap Up Post


All right, it's fessin' up time. I signed up for this challenge aiming to read at least 10 zombie books this year. Let's see how many I actually shuffled my way through!

2011 Zombie Reading Challenge titles:
Kiss Me Deadly ed. by Trisha Telep
Rot and Ruin by Jonathan Maberry
Three Quarters Dead by Richard Peck
The Dark and Hollow Places by Carrie Ryan
Bad Taste in Boys by Carrie Harris
Enclave by Ann Aguirre
Graveminder by Melissa Marr
Infinity by Sherrilyn Kenyon
Die for Me by Amy Plum
Working Stiff by Rachel Caine

10 Titles - Woot! Just shambled my way through this one, lol.

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Raven Summer


Raven Summer
by David Almond

Liam and his friend Max are playing in their neighborhood when the call of a bird leads them out into a field beyond their town. There, they find a baby lying alone atop a pile of stones—with a note pinned to her clothing. Mystified, Liam brings the baby home to his parents. They agree to take her in, but police searches turn up no sign of the baby’s parents. Finally they must surrender the baby to a foster family, who name her Allison. Visiting her in Northumberland, Liam meets Oliver, a foster son from Liberia who claims to be a refugee from the war there, and Crystal, a foster daughter. When Liam’s parents decide to adopt Allison, Crystal and Oliver are invited to her christening. There, Oliver tells Liam about how he will be slaughtered if he is sent back to Liberia. The next time Liam sees Crystal, it is when she and Oliver have run away from their foster homes, desperate to keep Oliver from being sent back to Liberia. In a cave where the two are hiding, Liam learns the truth behind Oliver’s dark past—and is forced to ponder what all children are capable of. (description from Amazon.com)

I had a really hard time with this book. It's short and easy to read, so it wasn't a comprehension thing, really...it was that I had no connection with the characters. I would latch on to one piece of the plot and then the author would switch focus to a totally different aspect of what was going on...it was disjointed and I just couldn't make heads or tails of the real point of the book.

It was not the right book for me.

Monday, December 26, 2011

The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer


The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer
by Michelle Hodkin

Mara Dyer doesn't believe life can get any stranger than waking up in a hospital with no memory of how she got there. It can.

She believes there must be more to the accident she can't remember that killed her friends and left her strangely unharmed. There is.

She doesn't believe that after everything she's been through, she can fall in love. She's wrong. (description from Amazon.com)

Everything you've heard about this book - it's true.

I can't tell you what it's about without giving things away. What I can tell you is that I could not put it down. I stayed up too late reading it. I snuck chapters at work. I dreamed about this book.

All I can say is read it. It will haunt you.

2011 Debut Author Challenge title

Saturday, December 24, 2011

My "Bests" of 2011...

For the last couple of years, I have painstakingly agonized over reviewing all of the books that I read that year and carefully chose one great book for many, many different genres or categories. This year, I'm simplifying!


I realized the other day that I already had a great system in place for my "best of" choices... my GOLD STAR reviews! Duh. LOL.

So, without further ado, and in order only by alphabetizing the title (not reflective of one being chosen over another), here is my BEST OF 2011 list:


A Game of Thrones by George R. R. Martin
Adult Epic Fantasy - Martin is a master storyteller! He manages to weave a huge amount of characters and storylines together, seemingly effortlessly, to create a whole new, intriguing, and compelling world.

Anna and the French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins
YA Romance/Realistic Fiction - Her debut novel blew so many people away! Perkins is the only author with not only two books on my list, but they are her *only* two books! Phenomenal. Anyway, the Parisian setting, the swoon-worthy boy, the realistic emotional journey... this book is a winner.

Beauty Queens by Libba Bray
YA Realistic Fiction/Satire - So, so ridiculously funny! This book is the perfect satire of everything our society has become known for, plus it has reality TV pirates, exploding makeup, and girls who learn that they can kick butt. Awesome.

Clarity by Kim Harrington
YA Mystery - Fast paced and compelling. Fern's psychic perspective was so fascinating. I couldn't put this one down...so looking forward to Perception!

Darkness Becomes Her Kelly Keaton
YA Dystopia - The Setting. OMG, the setting. Lush, creepy New Orleans. Creepy characters, creepy society, creepy setting, I COULD NOT put this book down. Literally. One sitting - done.

Divergent by Veronica Roth
YA Dystopia - This, this is the next best dystopia after The Hunger Games. I can't wait for the follow up, to see what Tris does next. Excellent.

Everfound by Neal Shusterman
YA Dystopia - The finale of a phenomenally done trilogy. Shusterman manages to raise so many fantastic moral questions and totally sucks readers into his characters' (after)lives.

Hourglass by Myra McEntire
YA Science Fiction- Time travel romance. Need I say more? This one had me sighing as I read. (Though more for the secondary guy character... don't tell!)

Lola and the Boy Next Door by Stephanie Perkins
YA Romance/Realistic Fiction - Perkins' sophomore novel proves that she is a master at romance. I liked this one even better than the first. The characters are phenomenal and unique!

New York to Dallas by J. D. Robb
Adult Murder Mystery - I love this series hard. Robb not only creates fascinating murder mysteries, but also has a whole world of character development going on outside of the murders. Eve and Roarke's relationship scorches readers right off the pages. This particular book in the series delves deeper into Eve's past and had me bawling. SO GOOD!

Okay for Now by Gary D. Schmidt
YA Historical Fiction - The companion to The Wednesday Wars, Schmidt does an even better job here! Doug is a character that will pull at your heartstrings, and you will cheer him on the whole way through.

Revolution by Jennifer Donnelly
YA Historical Fiction - The biggest tearjerker on my list this year. A phenomenal blend of information about the French Revolution and the angst and grief of a girl who has lost her little brother. Wow.

Rot and Ruin by Jonathan Maberry
YA Science Fiction - A zombie book that is full of heart. The frontier setting made for a great "western" feel. The characters were phenomenally well drawn. This was another book that proves the zombie genre is not so much about the zombie attacks as it is the survivors.

The Dark and Hollow Places by Carrie Ryan
YA Science Fiction - The ultimate in questioning what humans would be willing to do to survive. Suspenseful, compelling, heartbreaking...I was on the edge of my seat right until the very end.

The Girl of Fire and Thorns by Rae Carson
YA Fantasy - This book reminded me so strongly of my all time favorite book, Alanna: The First Adventure by Tamora Pierce. It has a strong, flawed heroine. It has a wonderfully well developed new fantasy world. It has an intriguing new religion. I'm thoroughly looking forward to book two!


Now, this is my list as of today. There are still a little under two weeks left in 2011. I may have to add a title, I'm not sure... We'll see.

Friday, December 23, 2011

Dear Twenty-Something @ Reclusive Bibliophile

Hey. I don't know if you've had a chance to come across this, but Melanie over at the Reclusive Bibliophile has a whole awesome series this month called, "Dear Twenty-Something." Each post is from someone writing a letter to themselves during their twenties. They are full of good advice, sweet anecdotes, and well, fun!



I was so happy to be able to contribute. :)
Check out my "Dear Twenty-Something" letter here.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Cover Craving... The Girl in the Clockwork Collar


The Girl in the Clockwork Collar
by Kady Cross
The Steampunk Chronicles, book two

Publication date: May 22, 2012

Aside from loving the first book in this series, The Girl in the Steel Corset, with its awesome steampunkishness, this series has been blessed with some rockin' covers! I cannot wait to read this one and pet the pretty cover...

Love the gorgeous color and exotic look of her outfit!

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

EW posted the exclusive CINDER book trailer today!

I can't tell you how excited I am to read Marissa Meyer's debut book, Cinder!



I had previously posted information about the upcoming Lunar Chronicles series because it is a scifi/fairy tale blend that sounds awesome. Anyway, Entertainment Weekly posted the exclusive trailer here today - and it does a really great job of letting you know what the book's about and still being totally intriguing.

I cannot wait to read this book!!

Check it out and let me know what you think~

Monday, December 19, 2011

2012 Debut Author Challenge!


I'm super excited to sign up again to do the Debut Author Challenge, hosted by Kristi at The Story Siren! This gives me the chance to check out all the new and hopefully upcoming authors in YA. :)

CHALLENGE OBJECTIVE:
*To read & review a minimum of twelve young adult or middle grade debut novels between the dates of January 1, 2012 – January 31, 2013.*
*The 2013 extension is so that December Debuts can be read and count toward the challenge.

*Any advance reader copies you read from 2012 BEFORE the January 1st start date DO NOT count toward the challenge!

*You can read twelve books in one month, or one book a month. It doesn’t matter as long as you have 12 read by the end of the year!


RULES & GUIDELINES:
*You must have a Blog to post your reviews or be a member of Goodreads.

*Your blog must be written in English.

*Deadline to join is May 31, 2012. You can sign up on The Story Siren.


BOOK GUIDELINES:
*Must be a young adult or middle grade title.

*Must be the author’s YA or MG debut, released in 2012.

*If an author has a previous novel published for adults or children, they can still qualify for the challenge.

*If an author has a previous YA or MG title, they do not qualify for the challenge.


BOOKS I WANT TO READ (SO FAR) FOR THE 2012 DAC:
Queen of Kentucky by Alecia Whitaker - 1/2/2012
The Cabinet of Earths by Anne Nesbet - 1/3/2012
Cinder by Marissa Meyer - 1/3/2012
Everneath by Brodi Ashton - 1/3/2012
Fracture by Megan Miranda - 1/3/2012
Incarnate by Jodi Meadows - 1/31/2012
Harbinger by Sara Wilson Etienne - 2/2/2012
Under the Never Sky by Veronica Rossi - 2/7/2012
Article 5 by Kristen Simmons - 2/14/2012
When the Sea is Rising Red by Cat Hellisen - 2/28/2012
Illuminate by Aimee Agresti - 3/6/2012
Katana by Cole Gibsen - 3/8/2012
A Breath of Eyre by Eve Marie Mont - 4/1/2012
The Selection by Kiera Cass - 4/24/2012
Welcome Caller, This is Chloe by Shelley Coriell - 5/1/2012
Lies Beneath by Anne Greenwood Brown - 6/12/2012
Level Two by Lenore Appelhans *Pub date not yet set*
Etiquette and Espionage by Gail Carriger *Pub date not yet set*



If You Like: Holiday Romances



"If You Like…” is a feature highlighting blogger recommendations for books, authors, TV shows, movies, and music based on the things you already know and love.

Tis the season...and if you love a little romance during the holidays, check out all these great books, movies, and music recommendations!

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Drink Deep


Drink Deep
by Chloe Neill
Chicagoland Vampires, book five

Clouds are brewing over Cadogan House, and Merit the vampire can't tell if this is the darkness before the dawn, or the calm before the storm. With the city itself in turmoil over paranormals and the state threatening to pass a paranormal registration act, times have never been more precarious for the vampires. If only they could lay low for a bit...

Then magic rears its ugly head when Lake Michigan turns black. The mayor insists it's nothing to worry about, but Merit knows a panic is coming. She'll have to turn to friends old and new to find out who's behind this, and stop them before it's too late for both the vampires and humans. (description from Amazon.com)

Chloe Neill is a master of the urban fantasy genre. Her books just keep getting better and better! After the end of Hard Bitten I think that we all were slightly panicked about how the series would continue without one of its main characters. Chloe managed to banish all doubts!

This book not only answered that lingering question about how Merit would go on...and in several interesting ways... but also introduced a huge new intriguing twist! The elemental magic and new supernatural beings introduced kept the storyline fresh and compelling and I can't wait now for book six!

One of my all time favorite series - with a kick @ss heroine.

Essay Contest for Aspiring YA Writers!



The Book Wish Foundation is hosting an awesome essay contest for aspiring YA writers!

Win a literary agent or acclaimed author's feedback on your unpublished manuscript for young adult or middle grade readers. This rare opportunity is being offered to the six winners of an essay contest recently announced by the literacy charity Book Wish Foundation. See http://bookwish.org/contest for full details.

You could win a manuscript critique from:

  • Laura Langlie, literary agent for Meg Cabot
  • Nancy Gallt, literary agent for Jeanne DuPrau
  • Brenda Bowen, literary agent and editor of Karen Hesse's Newbery Medal winner Out of the Dust
  • Ann M. Martin, winner of the Newbery Honor for A Corner of the Universe
  • Francisco X. Stork, winner of the Amelia Elizabeth Walden Award for The Last Summer of the Death Warriors
  • Cynthia Voigt, winner of the Newbery Medal for Dicey's Song and the Newbery Honor for A Solitary Blue

All that separates you from this prize is a 500-word essay about a short story in Book Wish Foundation's new anthology, What You Wish For.



Essays are due Feb. 1, 2012 and winners will be announced around Mar. 1, 2012.

If you win, you will have six months to submit the first 50 pages of your manuscript for critique (which means you can enter the contest even if you haven't finished, or started, your manuscript). You can even enter multiple times, with essays about more than one of the contest stories, for a chance to win up to six critiques.

If you dream of being a published author, this is an opportunity you should not miss. To enter, follow the instructions at http://bookwish.org/contest.

Friday, December 16, 2011

Crossed


Crossed
by Ally Condie
Matched Trilogy, book two

*Caution! Spoilers Ahead...*

In search of a future that may not exist and faced with the decision of who to share it with, Cassia journeys to the Outer Provinces in pursuit of Ky - taken by the Society to his certain death - only to find that he has escaped, leaving a series of clues in his wake.

Cassia's quest leads her to question much of what she holds dear, even as she finds glimmers of a different life across the border. But as Cassia nears resolve and certainty about her future with Ky, an invitation for rebellion, an unexpected betrayal, and a surprise visit from Xander - who may hold the key to the uprising and, still, to Cassia's heart - change the game once again. Nothing is as expected on the edge of Society, where crosses and double crosses make the path more twisted than ever. (description from Amazon.com)

I have to say that, sadly, I was disappointed in this book. I *loved* Matched and this follow up totally fell flat for me. While I still think that the world concept is very cool, I lost interest in what was happening with the characters.

While the first book captivated me with the danger of discovery, the depth of society's control, and the forbidden romance that was developing...the second lost all of these elements. Though Ky and Cassia are both facing imminent physical danger, this book lacked the suspense of the first. I never felt like either of them was really going to die...or have to live without the other.

Though I will assuredly read the final book in the trilogy because I want to know what happens with the characters, the Society, and especially the mostly absent (in Crossed, anyway) Xander, this book fell into the trap of a "middle" book. It was overlong, not too much happened, and I just wanted to get to the next one.

I'm also finding that the older I get the more I want my love stories to be filled with realistic strife. Love is not easy. And I mean that emotionally, not necessarily that the characters have to be in danger or cannot get to one another... I mean that they will not admit their love, they will fight their love, they will not recognize their love. It will build slowly and it will last. Cassia and Ky's love built well in the first book, but sadly once they are on the run, they both just spent all of their time pining for one another. It was a classic case of two people feeling as if they cannot be whole without the other. I found myself becoming bored with the fact that neither really did anything until they came together again...

I hope that Condie can bring back the magic of the first book when she completes the trilogy.

Full disclosure: Audio book received to review for AudioFile

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Mastiff


Mastiff
by Tamora Pierce
The Legend of Beka Cooper, book three

Beka and her friends will face their greatest and most important challenge ever when the young heir to the kingdom vanishes. They will be sent out of Corus on a trail that appears and disappears, following a twisting road throughout Tortall. It will be her greatest Hunt—if she can survive the very powerful people who do not want her to succeed in her goal. (description from author's website)

Picking up three years after Bloodhound, Beka embarks on her most important case, yet. She and Achoo must truly prove that they are the best scent team in Tortall to find the heir to the throne. In their search, they uncover the many pitfalls the kingdom faces by allowing the slave trade to run through it's borders.

I find Beka's cases fascinating. It's like reading about medieval policework and it's sooooo intriguing. Some readers complain about the style of this series - that it's written in journal form, that it jumps too quickly on the timeline, with years passing between books. This is one of the best features of this series for me.

Tamora Pierce has created one of her strongest characters yet. Beka is tough, she is dedicated, and she is defined by her job. That's why it doesn't matter how much time has passed between books. We only see the most important parts of Beka's life. Her big cases. The moments that define her life. What happens day to day doesn't affect her truly, it's the big moments that make her who she is.

Without letting you know all the secrets in this book (you'll have to read it for yourself, lol!), there is a romance that develops. It is sweet and believable. That is another thing that makes Tamora Pierce my favorite author. She creates strong female characters and they never have to compromise for love. The men in their lives love them for who they really are...they accept them wholly and do not ask them to change. They become the strongest pairs and their love lasts because they are truly meant for each other.

Finally, (I know, enough gushing!!) I just want to mention that my favorite book of ALL TIME is Tamora Pierce's, Alanna: The First Adventure. Immediately upon finishing this title, I did something I hardly ever have time to do anymore. I spent an entire afternoon rereading my beloved Alanna series. Though I have shelves of unread books, this particular one inspired me to immediately rip into my old favorites. It was blissful. :)

If you love strong female characters, are fascinated by police cases, and like a touch of fantasy, you would do well to check out this series by Tamora Pierce.

Monday, December 12, 2011

Fury


Fury
by Elizabeth Miles

It’s winter break in Ascension, Maine. The snow is falling and everything looks pristine and peaceful. But all is not as it seems...

Em is thrilled that the guy she’s been into for months is finally noticing her. But if she starts things with him, there’s no turning back. Because his girlfriend is Em’s best friend. And on the other side of town, Chase’s social life is unraveling and the stress of his home life is starting to take its toll. But that’s nothing compared to what’s really haunting him. Chase has done something cruel....And it’s only a matter of time before he’s exposed.

In Ascension, mistakes can be deadly. There are three girls—three beautiful, mysterious girls—to choose who will pay. Em and Chase have been chosen. (description from Amazon.com)

This book was interesting. I liked the contemporary stories dealing with Em's relationship dilemma and Chase's horrific betrayal. I liked the concept of the Furies punishing those who broke life's moral rules.

But, something felt like it was missing... I felt a disconnect - like the two parts of the story did not match up. Maybe part of it was that Miles wrote this knowing it was part of a trilogy, so not everything about the Furies needed to be revealed. I longed through this book for...more. More about where the Furies came from, more about how they choose their victims, more about where they go when their "job" is done.

I'm really hoping that in the next book in the series, much more will be revealed. I would love to see more of the mythology behind the Furies!

2011 Debut Author Challenge title

If You Like: Stories About New Adulthood



"If You Like…” is a feature highlighting blogger recommendations for books, authors, TV shows, movies, and music based on the things you already know and love.

This week's recommendations are all books, movies, TV shows, and music that feature "New Adulthood," the twenty-something years...the transition to college...becoming a real adult. A seriously underrepresented section in YA Literature! For our recommendations, check here!

Sunday, December 11, 2011

The Faceless Ones


The Faceless Ones
by Derek Landy
Skulduggery Pleasant, book three


Valkyrie screamed, sprinting toward Skulduggery.
He looked up and reached out to her, but it was too late.

If you've read the other Skulduggery Pleasant books by Derek Landy (and you really should have read them by now), you've seen it all before: Some bad guy wants to bring about the end of the world, and Skulduggery and Valkyrie fight valiantly to stop it from happening. A few people get hurt, sure, but everything's all right in the end.

Well, not this time. (description from Amazon.com)

Though I really enjoyed the first two books in this series, I found it really hard to get into the third. I don't know if it was because I was reading it at work and so only read a chapter or so at a time, but there were a LOT of characters to keep track of and the plot didn't suck me right in.

I did like that Valkyrie is starting to have to reconcile her "real" life with her magical one. I also really liked the plot in the last quarter of the book. There were some cool chase scenes, but overall I was a little disappointed in this book.

However, the very end has a great hook and I may have to pick up the next one just to see what happens next. We'll see...

My Life in Pink and Green


My Life in Pink and Green
by Lisa Greenwald

Twelve-year-old Lucy Desberg is a natural problem-solver. At her family’s struggling pharmacy, she has a line of makeover customers for every school dance and bat mitzvah. But all the makeup tips in the world won’t help save the business. If only she could find a way to make it the center of town again—a place where people want to spend time, like in the old days. Lucy dreams up a solution that could resuscitate the family business and help the environment, too. But will Lucy’s family stop fighting long enough to listen to a seventh-grader? (description from Amazon.com)

This was a very cute tween read. Perfect for a girl that wants to learn to become more confident in her own abilities. Great for a tween who's just starting to think about boys.

Lucy is a very sweet and smart girl. She makes a goal for herself and she sticks with it. She treats everyone as well as she can, even if she doesn't like them. She wants the best for her friends and family.

This is one of those books that you will breeze through and just end up smiling when you are done reading it. It probably won't stick with you forever, but if you're looking for a "beach" type read, this would be a great choice.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Half Brother


Half Brother
by Kenneth Oppel

Ben Tomlin was an only child for thirteen years. Then his parents brought home a baby chimp.

It isn't long before Ben is Zan's favourite, and Ben starts to see Zan as more than just an experiment. His father disagrees. Soon Ben is forced to make a critical choice between what he is told to believe and what he knows to be true -- between obeying his father or protecting his brother from an unimaginable fate. (description from author's website)

I was really impressed with the majority of this book. I loved the relationship between Ben and Zan, Ben's friendship with the research assistant, Peter, and the troubled family dynamics that Oppel explored once Zan became part of Ben's family.

To truly appreciate some aspects of this book, you have to remember that it's set in the 1970's. Oppel drops a lot of great hints, but it's not until a small, but significant portion of the book has been read, that Ben confirms the year. It was nice to finally know for sure that this was the 70s.

Once you knew the setting, though, it makes the perfect backdrop for not only the familial issues that Ben was experiencing, but also for his troubled romantic life. The sweetness of his attempts to worship the pretty, popular girl and his complete and utter failure to finally win her. (Don't worry...not a true spoiler! There are other happenings in the cards for Ben!!)

The real star of this book, though, will always be Zan. Not only is he unique and interesting simply because he is a chimpanzee, but he is lovable and sweet because of who he was raised to be. Zan is his own, fantastic character that steals the show 100%.

City of Orphans


City of Orphans
by Avi

The streets of 1893 New York are full of life: crowded, filthy, dangerous.

If you are a newsboy like thirteen-year- old Maks Geless, you need to watch out for Bruno, leader of the Plug Ugly Gang whose shadowy, sinister boss is plotting to take control of all the newsies on the lower East Side.

With Bruno’s boys in fierce pursuit, Maks discovers Willa, a strange girl who lives alone in an alley. It is she, stick in hand, who fights off the Plug Uglies--but further dangers await. Maks must find a way to free his sister Emma from The Tombs, the city jail where she has been imprisoned for stealing a watch at the glamorous new Waldorf Hotel. Maks, believing her innocent, has only four days to prove it.

Fortunately, there is Bartleby Donck, the eccentric lawyer (among other employments) to guide Maks and Willa in the art of detection. Against a backdrop alive with the sights and sounds of tenement New York, Maks, as boy detective, must confront a teeming world of wealth and crime, while struggling against powerful forces threatening new immigrants and the fabric of family love. (description from Amazon.com)

I thoroughly enjoyed this historical adventure.

Maks and Willa were both strong, interesting characters. Their friends and family were also fascinating and well fleshed out. There were people representing all facets of live in New York City in the 1890s.

Avi did an amazing job creating a vibrant and living historical New York City. It felt as if you could walk right into the lobby of the Waldorf. You could smell the garbage on the streets. You could feel the cold, hard floor that Willa slept on...

Though I was able to connect all the mystery dots before the end of the book, it was so intriguing to see everything actually play out that I did not mind at all. I loved watching Maks and Willa actually put everything together as they figured out pieces of the puzzle.

Full disclosure: Audio book received to review for SLJ

What’s the Buzz about 21st Century Libraries? A Virtual Panel Discussion - From Jonathan Maberry's Big, Scary Blog

Check it out! Jonathan Maberry, author of Rot and Ruin, and many other books, held a virtual panel discussion on his blog. He asked us Librarians what we thought was happening with Libraries in the 21st Century. Read it here!

For those of you in the CT area, not only was I interviewed, but two of my great friends in the YA community, Geri DiOrio from the Ridgefield Public Library, and Andrea Ingala from the Windsor Public Library, were also participants!!

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Untitled Project

The trailer our Tween Time group made for Ally Carter's I'd Tell You That I Love You, But Then I'd Have to Kill You.

Untitled Project

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Girl, Stolen


Girl, Stolen
by April Henry

Sixteen year-old Cheyenne Wilder is sleeping in the back of a car while her mom fills her prescription at the pharmacy. Before Cheyenne realizes what's happening, their car is being stolen--with her inside! Griffin hadn’t meant to kidnap Cheyenne, all he needed to do was steal a car for the others. But once Griffin's dad finds out that Cheyenne’s father is the president of a powerful corporation, everything changes—now there’s a reason to keep her. What Griffin doesn’t know is that Cheyenne is not only sick with pneumonia, she is blind. How will Cheyenne survive this nightmare, and if she does, at what price? (description from Amazon.com)

This was a really well done book. I was impressed by how Henry really gives insight into what it's like to lose your vision and then having to relearn how to do everything without sight. Cheyenne's struggles to have a regular day to day life and completely compounded by her victimization. She is a strong character that you couldn't help but root for through and through.

This book also brought up a lot of really great questions - about morality, about what makes a person good or bad, whether or not you can be forgiven for making a serious mistake. Can Griffin overcome the horrible things he was taught by his father? If Griffin kidnapped Cheyenne, but then tries to help her, is Griffin a good guy or a bad guy? Is anyone really good or bad?

Finally, as a dog lover and someone who has two dogs that are both part bully breeds (pit bull, basically), I loved the dog component in this book. Not only do you hear a lot about Cheyenne's seeing eye dog, but she ends up rescuing a junk yard pit-bull. She proves that dogs are not inherently mean, but are taught to be by bad people... I loved it!

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Traitor's Son


Traitor's Son
by Hilari Bell
The Raven Duet, book two

Publication Date: March 20, 2012

When Jason catches the small bag that a girl throws to him at the Canadian/Alaskan border during a gun fight, all he can think is that the bag must contain drugs. But if the small, brown powder is some sort of illegal substance, it's certainly nothing he's ever seen before.

Jase is half right. He's never seen this stuff before, but it's not drugs. The bag contains magical dust, a substance so powerful, it can heal the earth.

So powerful, certain creatures think nothing of killing him to get it. (description from back jacket)

I have to admit that I have not read the first book in The Raven Duet, Trickster's Girl, but now having read its counterpart, eventually I want to go back and eventually get to it. I haven't actually read anything by Hilari Bell before, but I liked her writing style.

First of all, this book was surprisingly short. In the new days of most YA books coming in easily at 300 pages, this one is only just over 200. And yet, it packed a lot of punch. The characters were interesting, the world was intriguing, and the danger was scintillating.

This book is set in Alaska in the 2080's. The world has become very technologically advanced and dependent, yet because of the native Alaskan tribes, Jase's world is a mixture of the old beliefs and magics, and the new. His family is in turmoil, precisely due to this dichotomy.

The world is also suffering. Humans have literally poisoned the planet (the environmental message is strongly present in this duet) and it's up to the mysterious Raven to get humans to help heal the earth. The spirit worlds lie alongside ours and certain people, like Jase, can actual travel them.

This book will not appeal to everyone, but if you are intrigued by the idea of spirit travels, magic, and environmental issues (almost like Fern Gully!), you might want to check this book, and its predecessor, out!

Full disclosure: ARC received to review for SLJ

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Vanish


Vanish
by Sophie Jordan
Firelight, book two

An Impossible Romance.
Bitter Rivalries.
Deadly Choices.

To save the life of the boy she loves, Jacinda did the unthinkable: She betrayed the most closely guarded secret of her kind. Now she must return to the protection of her pride knowing she might never see Will again—and worse, that because his mind has been shaded, Will’s memories of that fateful night and why she had to flee are gone.

Back home, Jacinda is greeted with hostility and must work to prove her loyalty for both her sake and her family’s. Among the few who will even talk to her are Cassian, the pride’s heir apparent who has always wanted her, and her sister, Tamra, who has been forever changed by a twist of fate. Jacinda knows that she should forget Will and move on—that if he managed to remember and keep his promise to find her, it would only endanger them both. Yet she clings to the hope that someday they will be together again. When the chance arrives to follow her heart, will she risk everything for love? (description from Amazon.com)

Again, I commend Sophie Jordan on being able to write one steamy, non-graphic romance! These scenes make me have to stop and check that the pages are not singed beneath my fingers. Perhaps it's the fact that Jacinda has a little fire burning within her, but every time she starts to feel the heat with a guy, flames seem to literally lick off of the pages. *wipes forehead*
So good!

I loved that this book took place within the Draki Pride. We got to see so much more of how their day to day lives worked...their secrets...their rituals. There was more description of the different types of Draki and we got to see them in action. <3

My heart broke for several of the characters. There's a lot of unrequited love (/stalker-esque obsession/passion) going on in this book. Without giving spoilers, I can really only say that I am SUPER intrigued to see how the group that leaves the Pride at the end is going to interact later as they all have some very convoluted feelings...

I cannot wait for the next Draki adventure!! TEAM DRAKI all the way :)

Full disclosure: ARC received from NetGalley

Across the Universe by Beth Revis

Check out this cool new mini-trailer I made for Beth Revis' Across the Universe on Animoto!

Across the Universe by Beth Revis

Monday, November 28, 2011

Working Stiff


Working Stiff
by Rachel Caine
The Revivalist, book one

Bryn Davis was killed on the job after discovering her bosses were selling a drug designed to resurrect the dead. Now, revived by that same drug, she becomes an undead soldier in a corporate war to take down the very pharmaceutical company responsible for her new condition... (description from Amazon.com)

This was a surprisingly believable version of a zombie tale. It was one I picked up for fun because I love Rachel Caine's books and because I've become somewhat obsessed with the zombie apocalypse concept...but, I really, really enjoyed this one - and not just as the "breeze through it" kind of read!

Bryn was a really interesting, really strong character. A former soldier, she chooses to honor the dead that she saw so often on the battlefield by going into the mortuary science field. Unfortunately, she doesn't last through her first day at work. Now, she has to figure out how to live with being undead. *smirk*

What surprised me most is that there is a romance component to this book and rather than being totally turned off, I found it really sweet! They even really address the issue like adults (that was a slightly hilarious scene)...

All in all a fun read. I think I'll pick up book two when it hits the shelves.

2011 Zombie Reading Challenge title

Birthmarked


Birthmarked
by Caragh O'Brien

In the future, in a world baked dry by the harsh sun, there are those who live inside the wall and those, like sixteen-year-old midwife, Gaia Stone, who live outside. Gaia has always believed it is her duty, with her mother, to hand over a small quota of babies to the Enclave. But when Gaia’s mother and father are arrested by the very people they so dutifully serve, Gaia is forced to question everything she has been taught to believe. Gaia’s choice is now simple: enter the world of the Enclave to rescue her parents, or die trying. (description from Amazon.com)

I really enjoyed this dystopia. I thought that O'Brien did a really great job slowly revealing where and when this took place. (I really enjoyed having the included "map" of the area to reference, too...) I thought it was an interesting conundrum to address...what would happen if an insular society kept breeding only within its own walls...

I really enjoyed how sheltered Gaia was initially and how she slowly begins to piece together the moral horrors of her "perfect" enclave society. It made her seem a much stronger character that she was just innocent of the knowledge originally and then as she came to learn things, she faced them head on, refusing to back down from what she knew was right.

I really felt like all the secrets connected to her nuclear family really brought home all of the dysfunctions of this society, too. Gaia was not above dealing with any of the issues, because each affected her directly in some way.

Well done. I'm looking forward to reading Prized soon!

My big gift for the holidays? A new job!!

OMG.
I am super excited.
It's finally official.

I gave my notice at my current job today, and the countdown is on...
Starting the week after Christmas I will be the new Youth Services Librarian at the West Springfield Public Library in Massachusetts!




It's hilarious because, even though I live in CT, I already live close enough to the Mass border that my new job will be a closer drive, even though it's technically a state away! LOL.

I'm excited to see all of the new, exciting things that I will get to experience in a new place, and though I will sincerely miss all of my CT Librarian friends, I'm not moving away, so I'm sure we'll still find ways to get together!!

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Inheritance


Inheritance
by Christopher Paolini
Inheritance Cycle, book four

Not so very long ago, Eragon—Shadeslayer, Dragon Rider—was nothing more than a poor farm boy, and his dragon, Saphira, only a blue stone in the forest. Now the fate of an entire civilization rests on their shoulders.

Long months of training and battle have brought victories and hope, but they have also brought heartbreaking loss. And still, the real battle lies ahead: they must confront Galbatorix. When they do, they will have to be strong enough to defeat him. And if they cannot, no one can. There will be no second chances.

The Rider and his dragon have come further than anyone dared to hope. But can they topple the evil king and restore justice to Alagaƫsia? And if so, at what cost? (description from Amazon.com)

It's going to be hard to write a decent review of this book without being spoilery, but I'm going to try.

As with Paolini's second and third book, there were moments that I felt dragged a little. It's hard not to have that happen, though, when you are writing a book about such an epic journey to the destruction and recreation of a kingdom. Even Tolkein's epic Lord of the Rings trilogy had moments that felt too long.

However, aside from some slight draggishness in certain parts, I thought Paolini did an excellent job ending this series. There were no easy outs. It was a very difficult and illuminating journey. Many of the characters suffered and learned new things about themselves and where they stand in regards to the other Alagaesians. Though my heart ached in spots, this was a very realistic ending.

While parts made me tear up, and I somehow wished that the ending could have been changed just a little (even as I fully acknowledged that this ending was right), other parts made my heart sing. For every shred of doubt and darkness in this book, there is a shining beacon of hope. It is very well balanced.

When I finished, I was satisfied. Though there are a few more things I would like to learn....I have my suspicions about a few things, too (like who Angela the herbalist may really be...), and thankfully Paolini says in his author's note that though there will not be any more books featuring this specific cast of main characters, he plans to someday revisit Alagaesia and perhaps shine some light on those questions unanswered. YAY!

Full disclosure: Audio book received to review for AudioFile

Friday, November 25, 2011

Cover Craving...


Just for Fins
by Tera Lynn Childs
Fins series, book three

Isn't this another fantastic cover for a mermaid book??

Publication date: July 3, 2012

When Lily Sanderson decided to remain Crown Princess Waterlily of the mermaid kingdom Thalassinia, she knew she couldn’t just coast along in the current. But since she’s spent the last couple of years on land—with gorgeous human Quince by her side—Lily’s not sure she has the fins to lead a kingdom. Even her maddeningly pretentious cousin Dosinia seems to know more about ruling than she does.

But Lily has to dive in deep to keep her promise to Tellin, her mer bond in name only, whose kingdom is suffering in the changing ocean climate. Lily knows this is a seven seas–sized problem: from sea animals dying to oil spills and threats to humans. They’ll need to create some serious waves to make the mer community aware and get it to join together to make things right. Even if that means facing one of the iciest queens in the mer kingdoms.

Just when Lily thinks her double life on land and sea can’t get any more complicated, an ancient mer law might separate Lily and Quince after all. It feels as if the pair is up against a solid tsunami wave!

In this third installment in the series that began with Forgive My Fins and Fins Are Forever, Lily will have to find a way to balance safety and justice for the mer people as well as for the humans she loves. (description from Goodreads.com)

Lola and the Boy Next Door


Lola and the Boy Next Door
by Stephanie Perkins
companion to Anna and the French Kiss

For budding costume designer Lola Nolan, the more outrageous, the outfit-—more sparkly, more fun, more wild-—the better. But even though Lola’s style is outrageous, she’s a devoted daughter and friend with some big plans for the future. And everything is pretty perfect (right down to her hot rocker boyfriend) until the dreaded Bell twins move back into the house next door.

When the family returns and Cricket-—a gifted inventor and engineer—steps out from his twin sister’s shadow and back into Lola’s life, she must finally reconcile a lifetime of feelings for the boy next door. (description from Amazon.com)

Stephanie Perkins truly has a gift! She writes budding romance like no other currently in contemporary YA. Her romances are natural, realistic, believable, and swoon-worthy.

I was beyond delighted with many facets of this book. First off, can I just say, HOORAY for a love for the BOY NEXT DOOR!! I am a HUGE fan of this type of romance - boy next door, best friend since forever, etc. - and definitely feel that these nice guys do not get the recognition and love that they deserve often enough. Super huge kudos for that.

Second, I loved that Lola had two Dads. I loved that it was just the make-up of their family and there was no drama about that. It's just who they were. I loved that they were the guys that they were, too. They were both good, caring, fun Dads.

I loved that Lola was...well, Lola. She was fun, she was free, she experimented, she pushed the envelope, and she didn't apologize for herself. I felt so bad when someone else caused her to begin to doubt herself, and was so glad when Cricket reminded her that who she was...was just perfect. <3

I loved the way that Lola and Cricket interacted with each other. I loved the way that they strengthened each other. I loved the way that though they may have each doubted themselves, they never doubted each other. I loved their love. Every time I look up into the sky at night from this day forward, I will look at the stars and think of Lola and Cricket.



Worthy of a gold star? Absolutely. You should read this one immediately.

Peaceweaver


Peaceweaver
by Rebecca Barnhouse
companion to The Coming of the Dragon

Publication date: March 27, 2012

Sixteen-year-old Hild has always been a favorite of her uncle, king of the Shylfings. So when she protects her cousin the crown prince from a murderous traitor, she expects the king to be grateful. Instead, she is unjustly accused of treachery herself.

As punishment, her uncle sends Hild far away to the heir of the enemy king, Beowulf, to try to weave peace between the two kingdoms. She must leave her home and everyone she loves. On the long and perilous journey, Hild soon discovers that fatigue and rough terrain are the least of her worries. Something is following her and her small band of guards—some kind of foul creature that tales say lurks in the fens. Will Hild have to face the monster? Or does it offer her the perfect chance to escape the destiny she never chose? (description from Amazon.com)

I thought that Hild was a very brave and honorable character. She is accused of great treachery and banished from her home, yet she still does what she knows is right and saves the lives of those who do not care for her. She manages to earn their respect and love. As she becomes resigned to the fact that she cannot change her fate, she chooses to embrace it and the good that it will mean someday to her new people.

I really enjoyed the slightly magical adventure that is Hild's journey to her new kingdom. I would be very interested to read a sequel, though, to see how things progress as Hild becomes Queen. I also want to go back at some point to read the story of the dragon that destroys what is to become her new home.

This reminded me in a lot of ways of Megan Whalen Turner or Shannon Hales' books, though not quite as standout. More of a way to ease into this specific type of historical fantasy.

Full disclosure: ARC received to review for VOYA

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Fateful


Fateful
by Claudia Gray

Eighteen-year-old maid Tess Davies is determined to escape the wealthy, troubled family she serves. It’s 1912, and Tess has been trapped in the employ of the Lisles for years, amid painful memories and twisted secrets. But now the Lisle family is headed to America, with Tess in tow. Once the ship they’re sailing on—the RMS Titanic—reaches its destination, Tess plans to strike out and create a new life for herself.

Her single-minded focus shatters when she meets Alec, a handsome first-class passenger who captivates her instantly. But Alec has secrets of his own. He’s in a hurry to leave Europe, and whispers aboard the ship say it’s because of the tragic end of his last affair with the French actress who died so gruesomely and so mysteriously. . . .

Soon Tess will learn just how dark Alec’s past truly is. The danger they face is no ordinary enemy: werewolves exist and are stalking him—and now her, too. Her growing love for Alec will put Tess in mortal peril, and fate will do the same before their journey on the Titanic is over. (description from Amazon.com)

To be totally honest, I had no idea if I was going to like this book or not! It's one of those premises that I was like, "this could be totally AWESOME, or it could really suck." Thankfully, it turned out really good!!

I felt an immediate connection to Tess and just kept hoping against hope that she would be able to get herself out of the awful situation that she was living in. Surprisingly, what I had been worrying about the most, the werewolves...on a ship..., turned out to be pretty believable. I really liked the mythology behind the werewolves and the explanation of why they might end up on a transatlantic cruise.

I also really liked the fact that though Tess and Alec meet and develop feelings for each other very quickly, that the author went to pains to make their interactions feel realistic. Tess wanted to avoid all confrontations, but kept getting thrust into dangerous situations. Alec wanted to keep Tess, a strange and vulnerable girl, safe, but as he got to know her inner strength, he came to want to spend time with her. It was NOT instant goo-goo eyes love. *thank god.*

The very end felt a little too easily wrapped up in some ways, but I enjoyed the beginning so much that I'm hoping the author will follow this book up with another Tess and Alec adventure!

2011 Shifter Reading Challenge title

A SciFi Legend that will be missed.

Anne McCaffrey passed away yesterday, Nov. 21st in Ireland. My heart aches knowing that she will never again produce a brilliant story about dragons or crystalline magic, or selkies...

As announced in the Locus' website, Anne McCaffrey was the first woman to win both the Hugo and Nebula awards. One of her Pern novels was the first hardcover science fiction novel to make the New York Times Bestseller List. She was in a word, EPIC.

What this article does not have, though, is the human touch. A real story of how Anne McCaffrey touched someone's life. Well, here's mine:

Anne McCaffrey's three Pern novellas for children, Dragonsong, Dragonsinger, and Dragondrums, are literally the first three real books that I can remember reading. Technically, I wasn't even reading them originally. My mom would read them to me as bedtime stories. I literally bonded with my mom and grew up on Anne McCaffrey's earliest Pern stories. (*This is also where I first originally decreed that I must have a little dragon to cling to my shoulder with its tail wrapped around my neck!! Years before I read anything by G.R.R.M.)

As I got older, I got hooked on McCaffrey's Crystal Singer, The Tower and the Hive, and Petaybee series. I loved each in different ways. I loved them all because they were written by Anne McCaffrey.

Her work will truly be missed by the world, and by me.

The Girl of Fire and Thorns


The Girl of Fire and Thorns
by Rae Carson

Once a century, one person is chosen for greatness.

Elisa is the chosen one.

But she is also the younger of two princesses. The one who has never done anything remarkable, and can’t see how she ever will.

Now, on her sixteenth birthday, she has become the secret wife of a handsome and worldly king—a king whose country is in turmoil. A king who needs her to be the chosen one, not a failure of a princess.

And he’s not the only one who seeks her. Savage enemies, seething with dark magic, are hunting her. A daring, determined revolutionary thinks she could be his people’s savior, and he looks at her in a way that no man has ever looked at her before. Soon it is not just her life, but her very heart that is at stake.

Elisa could be everything to those who need her most. If the prophecy is fulfilled. If she finds the power deep within herself. If she doesn’t die young. (description from Amazon.com)

My gut reaction to this book was so strong and so LOVING that I already tweeted/emailed the author to tell her... I swear I'm not stalker-y like that all the time, but guys, I loved this book HARD!

As I told Rae Carson, I can only compare how I felt finishing this book to the first time I felt finishing Tamora Pierce's Alanna: The First Adventure, and that is my ALL-TIME favorite book and one of the only ones that I reread fairly consistently.

There is no denying that I trend toward a certain type of book. I am a hardcore fantasy/sci-fi reader, but within those genres, I am fairly picky. I like plucky heroines, action, "realistic" (can I even say this??) magic, not too tech-y science fiction, and if I don't like it, I tend to really not like it. It's a gut reaction thing.

Well... Elisa is the underdog, who comes to lead an army, a country, and the hearts of those around her. She is a girl who figures things out and saves the day, herself! My favorite kind of heroine. She is still touchingly unsure of herself at times and the poor girl gets her heart broken...twice.

She lives in a world with a fascinating religion, a strange new type of magic, and a mixture of interesting peoples. Her travels across her home country to the desert regions of her new home were vivid and felt so tangible that I kept trying to wipe sweat off my own brow, or to rub my aching feet.

Trust me, if you love fantasy books by authors like Tamora Pierce, Kristin Cashore, or Megan Whalen Turner, you want to check out this author's awesome debut. It's getting a gold star here!

I loved this book so much that I immediately purchased a copy for myself to keep on my Nook, even though I am on a spending hiatus. I also double checked to see if there is a sequel and I am happy to report that book two in the trilogy, The Crown of Embers, will be coming out in Fall 2012. I will definitely be on the pre-order list for that one!!

Full disclosure: ARC received from Netgalley

2011 Debut Author Challenge title

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Happy Release Day to THE PLEDGE!!

Happy Release Day to Kimberly Derting and her newest book, The Pledge!! I cannot wait to read this one. It sounds amazing. Are you ready to enter a world where words are truly dangerous??



Words are the most dangerous weapon of all.

In the violent country of Ludania, the classes are strictly divided by the language they speak. The smallest transgression, like looking a member of a higher class in the eye while they are speaking their native tongue, results in immediate execution. Seventeen-year-old Charlaina has always been able to understand the languages of all classes, and she’s spent her life trying to hide her secret. The only place she can really be free is the drug-fueled underground clubs where people go to shake off the oppressive rules of the world they live in.

It's there that she meets a beautiful and mysterious boy named Max who speaks a language she's never heard before . . . and her secret is almost exposed.Charlie is intensely attracted to Max, even though she can’t be sure where his real loyalties lie. As the emergency drills give way to real crisis and the violence escalates, it becomes clear that Charlie is the key to something much bigger: her country’s only chance for freedom from the terrible power of a deadly regime.


Even my dog, Noel, cannot wait to be part of the world of The Pledge. She's got her passport and is waiting anxiously...

Monday, November 14, 2011

The Hunger Games movie trailer!!!

Have you seen it yet? I was a little scared at first, because the book is SOOO amazing, but this looks really great! I can't wait for March 23rd. :)

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Invincible


Invincible
by Sherrilyn Kenyon
The Chronicles of Nick, book two

Nick Gautier’s day just keeps getting better and better. Yeah, he survived the zombie attacks, only to wake up and find himself enslaved to a world of shapeshifters and demons out to claim his soul.

His new principal thinks he’s even more of a hoodlum than the last one, his coach is trying to recruit him to things he can’t even mention and the girl he’s not seeing, but is, has secrets that terrify him.

But more than that, he’s being groomed by the darkest of powers and if he doesn’t learn how to raise the dead by the end of the week, he will become one of them... (description from Amazon.com)

Now that I've gotten past the idea that Nick's timeline in this series is very different from that which had begun in the original adult Dark Hunters series, I was able to jump enthusiastically in with both feet. I love Nick's wry sense of humor and how dedicated he is to doing the right thing and always protecting his mother. He really is a great boy that has no idea what horrors the future could hold for him...

After dealing with zombies in Infinity, now poor Nick must deal with being hunted by demons. I loved trying to figure out before Nick who was a demon, what type they might be, and whether or not they were on Nick's side or not. I loved that we got to see more of Simi and learn her part, quite funny, too, if you knew the relationship that they have in the adult books. LOL.

As Nick unknowingly fights to save his soul and keep from destroying the world, those around him try to help in every way they can...some not even knowing what the end results might be... I cannot wait to see what else happens to poor Nick.

Snow White and the Huntsman - Movie Trailer

This trailer makes this movie look amazing! I can't wait...

Doesn't Charlize Theron make one creepy evil Queen? OMG. And the huntsman... *swoon*...I'm very intrigued to see this dark new version of the classic tale!

Friday, November 11, 2011

Where There's a Wolf, There's a Way


Where There's a Wolf, There's a Way
by Lisi Harrison
Monster High, book three

Always overshadowed by her six brothers and her fab friends, Clawdeen Wolf plans to finally strut her stuff in the spotlight at her upcoming Sweet Sixteen bash. But after The Ghoul Next Door goes viral, it's into the woods for the family Wolf. Clawdeen goes stir crazy lying low at her family's B&B with her annoying brothers until Lala shows up to keep her company. But is the vamp flirting with Claude?! (description from Amazon.com)

I LOVED that Clawdeen was the primary focus of this book. Getting to know more about the wolf behind the designer clothes was awesome. It totally cracked me up that not only did she create a lot of her own outfits, but that she hosted a web DIY show. So much fun!!

Lisi Harrison really does a great job of tackling real teen issues, real life issues (discrimination, bullying, etc.) and still keeping it so fun by changing things up with a little fun - horror movie style! I love each of the girls and their special talents. I cannot wait for the next book featuring Lala.

City of Fallen Angels


City of Fallen Angels
by Cassandra Clare
Mortal Instruments, book four

The Mortal War is over, and sixteen-year-old Clary Fray is back home in New York, excited about all the possibilities before her. She's training to become a Shadowhunter and to use her unique power. Her mother is getting married to the love of her life. Downworlders and Shadowhunters are at peace at last. And—most importantly of all—she can finally call Jace her boyfriend.

But nothing comes without a price.

Someone is murdering Shadowhunters, provoking tensions between Downworlders and Shadowhunters that could lead to a second, bloody war. Clary's best friend, Simon, can't help her. His mother just found out that he's a vampire and now he's homeless. Everywhere he turns, someone wants him on their side—along with the power of the curse that's wrecking his life. And they're willing to do anything to get what they want. Not to mention that he's dating two beautiful, dangerous girls—neither of whom knows about the other one.

When Jace begins to pull away from her without explaining why, Clary is forced to delve into the heart of a mystery whose solution reveals her worst nightmare: she herself has set in motion a terrible chain of events that could lead to her losing everything she loves. Even Jace. (description from Amazon.com)

City of Bones was an amazing book. It's follow-up left me devestated, mouth hanging open, and in pure shock. The third in the trilogy left me satisfied. That's why, honestly, though I enjoyed City of Fallen Angels, I did not really feel like Cassandra Clare should have fleshed this trilogy out into a series.

This was another good entry into the Mortal Instruments series, though it wasn't until Clare left me with another jaw-dropping cliffhanger that I decided I will have to read the next book. To me, this series really feels done already, but now I HAVE to know what the fallout is in the next book.

For those who cannot get enough of Clary and Jace, this book will rip into your heart and keep you on your toes. For those like me, who find some of the secondary characters (like Simon!) far more interesting, there is quite a bit of added knowledge about some of the "outsider" cultures in this book. I loved learning more about the werewolves and vampires...

Totally, brutally honest...I will read the next book, but I almost wish I hadn't read this one. I was happy where City of Glass left off.

Wonderstruck


Wonderstruck
by Brian Selznick

Ben and Rose secretly wish their lives were different. Ben longs for the father he has never known. Rose dreams of a mysterious actress whose life she chronicles in a scrapbook. When Ben discovers a puzzling clue in his mother's room and Rose reads an enticing headline in the newspaper, both children set out alone on desperate quests to find what they are missing. (description from Amazon.com)

Just like The Invention of Hugo Cabret, this is a beautiful work of art, as well as a touching story. Selznick's black and white illustrations are fabulous. I just love the way he does his books!

In this particular story, both Ben and Rose have their own individual tales, but I loved how they came together at the end. It was really lovely. Not only were the stories interesting, but I learned quite a bit about how people who are hearing impaired experience the world. The author even mentions all of the research that he did prior to writing the book and how one of his relatives in deaf... I think that this aspect of the book makes it very important, because it makes talking about deafness and its effects so accessible.

Though this book is very big, it is a quick, fun read. I would highly recommend it to reluctant readers, well really to anyone!

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Die For Me


Die for Me
by Amy Plum
The Revenants, book one

When Kate Mercier's parents die in a tragic car accident, she leaves her life--and memories--behind to live with her grandparents in Paris. For Kate, the only way to survive her pain is escaping into the world of books and Parisian art. Until she meets Vincent.Mysterious, charming, and devastatingly handsome, Vincent threatens to melt the ice around Kate's guarded heart with just his smile.

As she begins to fall in love with Vincent, Kate discovers that he's a revenant--an undead being whose fate forces him to sacrifice himself over and over again to save the lives of others. Vincent and those like him are bound in a centuries-old war against a group of evil revenants who exist only to murder and betray. Kate soon realizes that if she follows her heart, she may never be safe again. (description from Amazon.com)

I wanted so much to like this book. It got great buzz everywhere and come on, that cover! I think realistically the cover is half the reason, or maybe more than half, that I picked up the book...pretty!

Unfortunately, nothing about this book hooked me. Now don't get me wrong, it wasn't bad. Not by any means...but it didn't thrill me, either. I don't know if I'm just so burnt out on paranormal romance at this point that anything I read would get this reaction, or if I really just could not connect with Kate and Vincent.

The idea of the revenants was novel. The Parisian setting was lovely. This was not, however, the book for me. *sigh*

2011 Debut Author Challenge title
2011 Zombie Reading Challenge title

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Torn


Torn
by Margaret Peterson Haddix
The Missing, book four

Still reeling from their experiences in Roanoke in 1600, Jonah and Katherine arrive in 1611 only moments before a mutiny on Henry Hudson’s ship in the icy waters of James Bay. But things are messed up: They’ve lost the real John Hudson, and they find what seems to be the fabled Northwest Passage—even though they are pretty sure that route doesn’t actually exist. Will this new version of history replace everything they’ve ever known? Is this the end of time as we know it? With more at stake than ever before, Jonah and Katherine struggle to unravel the mysteries of 1611 and the Hudson Passage...before everything they know is lost. (description from Amazon.com)

I really enjoy this series. There is such a great blend of historical facts and suspenseful action. In this particular volume, the author does note that she took some liberties with the historical facts to make them fit her vision for the story better, but no matter the changes, this is still an awesome way to spark a reader's interest in different historical periods. I, for one, have gone and looked some things up after reading each book!

I really enjoyed how Jonah and his sister, Katherine, really got to know each other better in this book. It was wonderful to see their relationship grow. I'm still very, very curious as to who J.B. actually is...I have my suspicions, but...I'm hoping that the next book might reveal more!! I can't wait to read it.

Full disclosure: Audio book received to review for SLJ

New York to Dallas


New York to Dallas
by J. D. Robb
In Death series, book 41

When a monster named Isaac McQueen-taken down by Eve back in her uniform days-escapes from Rikers, he has two things in mind. One is to pick up where he left off, abducting young victims and leaving them scarred in both mind and body. The other is to get revenge on the woman who stopped him all those years ago. (description from Amazon.com)

This book ripped my heart open and then sewed it up again...Wow.

If you've ever read any of the books in this series, you know that Eve and Roarke have each grown out of the roughest of childhoods. Well, not only does Robb go back and dip into Eve's childhood terrors again in this book, but you get a tantalizing glimpse into her first year on the police force.

Events from the far past, the near past, and the current time blend to make one hell of a riveting read! This is officially one of my favorite books in the series...and this series is one of my all time favorites. I cannot recommend them enough to murder mystery readers.

One final touch on this review - GOLD STAR! A Must Read!!