Saturday, April 30, 2011

Winner! Hard Bitten Swag Pack

I am pleased to announce that the winner of Hard Bitten Blog Tour Swag Pack is (via random drawing at is...


Check your have until Wednesday, May 4th to contact me with the address where you'd like Chloe Neill to ship your swag pack. Congratulations again!

Friday, April 29, 2011

Anxiously Awaiting...

Midnight in Austenland
by Shannon Hale

Publication date: Jan 2012

This is the companion book to the previously published, Austenland.

Jane Hayes is a seemingly normal young New Yorker, but she has a secret. Her obsession with Mr. Darcy, as played by Colin Firth in the BBC adaptation of Pride and Prejudice, is ruining her love life: no real man can compare. But when a wealthy relative bequeaths her a trip to an English resort catering to Austen-crazed women, Jane’s fantasies of meeting the perfect Regency-era gentleman suddenly become realer than she ever could have imagined.

Decked out in empire-waist gowns, Jane struggles to master Regency etiquette and flirts with gardeners and gentlemen—or maybe even, she suspects, with the actors who are playing them. It’s all a game, Jane knows. And yet the longer she stays, the more her insecurities seem to fall away, and the more she wonders: Is she about to kick the Austen obsession for good, or could all her dreams actually culminate in a Mr. Darcy of her own?

Wednesday, April 27, 2011


by Rachel Hawkins
Hex Hall series, book two

Sophie Mercer thought she was a witch.

That was the whole reason she was sent to Hex Hall, a reform school for delinquent Prodigium (aka witches, shapeshifters, and fairies). But that was before she discovered the family secret, and that her hot crush, Archer Cross, is an agent for The Eye, a group bent on wiping Prodigium off the face of the earth.

Turns out, Sophie’s a demon, one of only two in the world—the other being her father. What’s worse, she has powers that threaten the lives of everyone she loves. Which is precisely why Sophie decides she must go to London for the Removal, a dangerous procedure that will destroy her powers.

But once Sophie arrives she makes a shocking discovery. Her new friends? They’re demons too. Meaning someone is raising them in secret with creepy plans to use their powers, and probably not for good. Meanwhile, The Eye is set on hunting Sophie down, and they’re using Acher to do it. But it’s not like she has feelings for him anymore. Does she? (description taken from

I loved this sequel to Hex Hall. Sophie returned with all the snark that I'd desperately missed since putting the first book down. I was very, very pleased with this book as sometimes the second book in a trilogy can obviously feel like a big setup for the end, and not much on its own, but Demonglass rocked from start to finish.

Not to say that you are left, breathless on the edge of a HUGE cliff... Hawkins literally had me putting down the book and going, "OMG.omgomgomg...ummm...I have to wait how long for the next one???!!" Sheer evil genius. Without revealing too much, let's just say that people are missing, seriously injured, or perhaps even dead on the final page...there's a new potential romance blossoming...previously trusted allies have become enemies through heinous betrayal...and Sophie is off to meet people she's never even heard of before so that she can um, hopefully, not be murdered. WHOA.

I am sooooooo excited for the next book, I can't even express it properly. I think I would pay big bucks for the opportunity to get an ARC asap!! Holy Moly. I miss Sophie already.

Full disclosure: ARC received from Book It Forward ARC Tours

Monday, April 25, 2011

If You Like: The Environmental Edition

"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.

Since Earth Day was this past Friday, this week's "If You Like" is all reads, etc. dealing with the environment. There are some really great reads, so check it out here.

Hard Bitten Blog Tour - Interview with Jeff Christopher and a Giveaway

In honor of the newest Chicagoland Vampires book, Hard Bitten, which comes out next Tuesday, May 3rd, I have a special treat for you all!

My absolute favorite character from the series is shifter, Jeff Christopher. Jeff is in his early 20s, works in the Ombudsman's Office, and is a full on computer wiz. He continuously makes me laugh and generally gives Merit a little extra fun in her life.

Jeff has very graciously granted me an interview to help entice you all to pick up The Chicagoland Vampires books.

Welcome Jeff! Just a few questions for you...

First off…any juicy secrets you know from working in the Ombudsman’s Office? I’m kidding…unless you really do have something you could share?? *wink, wink*
Jeff: *Blushing a little* Aw, there are always secrets here. Since not everyone is out of the closet, we try to keep folks protected. I can say that Catcher likes to eat frou-frou salads for lunch. Like with cranberries on top. Who knew?

Speaking of the office, besides the Chulthu that sits on your desk, any other “interesting” accessories in your workspace?
Jeff: There *might* be a framed photograph of someone special on my desk, but I'll let Chloe tell you about that in the books.

So, how well do you actually know the Windy City’s River Nymphs?
Jeff: Whoa, whoa. Let's not start any crazy rumors. I've got a shifter with an attitude and a gun safe who probably doesn't want to hear any suggestions that I've been dancing the rumba with any nymphs. We only know each other in a professional capacity. *Smooths the front of his shirt* But I could hit that if I wanted to. Not that I want to. I'm just sayin'. Whoops! Sorry, Jeff...definitely don't want to get you in any trouble with Fallon. :)

What would your ideal date be like?
Jeff: Dinner. Walk along the riverfront or down Michigan Avenue. Maybe a boat ride, the two of us together staring out across the water. *Snatches up pen and paper, mumbling as he scribbles* River . . . front . . . Boat . . . ride

What was the last book that you read…or, um, thumbed through?
Jeff: I read a lot of the tech magazines. WIRED. POPULAR MECHANICS. DISCOVERY. SHIFTERS WEEKLY. Nah, I made that last one up. *snort*

Describe Merit in one sentence.
Jeff: *Closing his eyes* Tall, superior hotness, easy on the eyes, nice to talk to. *Eyes flash open* And completely off limits because I have a girl! Seriously, are you trying to get me in trouble? *Leaning forward* You aren't taping this, are you? *Shifts eyes guiltily away...writes notes furiously*

If Merit had been born a shifter, what form do you think her animal would have been?
Jeff: Water buffalo? Nah, kidding, kidding. She can be a little clutzy. Something sleek. Quiet. A hunter. Panther, maybe?

Quick picks: Top Vacation Destination? Favorite food? Favorite item of clothing?
Jeff: Vienna. Chicago red hots. A good pair of khakis.

Jeff, thanks again SO much for stopping by! I really enjoyed getting to know you a little better...can't wait to read more about you very soon. I hope that everyone runs out to grab Hard Bitten when it comes out...I know I'll be reading it the night it comes out!

Chloe Neill has very graciously offered to send out a Chicagoland Vampires swag pack to one of my readers. Simply leave me a comment with your favorite character from the series (or if you haven't read any of them yet...your favorite vampire character, in general) and your email address by Friday, April 29th. I will announce the winner on Saturday, April 30th. Good luck!!

Sunday, April 24, 2011

The Throne of Fire

The Throne of Fire
by Rick Riordan
The Kane Chronicles, book two

Ever since the gods of Ancient Egypt were unleashed in the modern world, Carter Kane and his sister Sadie have been in trouble. As descendants of the House of Life, the Kanes have some powers at their command, but the devious gods haven't given them much time to master their skills at Brooklyn House, which has become a training ground for young magicians.

And now their most threatening enemy yet - the chaos snake Apophis - is rising. If they don't prevent him from breaking free in a few days' time, the world will come to an end. In other words, it's a typical week for the Kane family.

To have any chance of battling the Forces of Chaos, the Kanes must revive the sun god Ra. But that would be a feat more powerful than any magician has ever accomplished.

First they have to search the world for the three sections of the Book of Ra, then they have to learn how to chant its spells. Oh, and did we mention that no one knows where Ra is exactly? (description taken from Rick Riordan's website)

Though I liked The Red Pyramid, it was definitely not my favorite book by Rick Riordan. I love Egyptian mythology and Riordan is a great author, but I was not a huge fan of the alternating chapters and had trouble getting into Carter and Sadie's voices.

I think that not only did Riordan improve in this volume, probably because he didn't have to do quite so much world set-up, but I also appreciated the story a lot more as an audio book. Kevin Free and Katherine Kellgren were really great reading this book. They both made things exciting and believable.

This was a fast-paced, exciting and magical adventure. I loved the introduction of new gods...especially Bes, the dwarf god...I think he's my new favorite character. It was also really cool to see the vulture goddess, the baboon god, the hippo goddess, and "Sunny Acres," a retirement home for the aging gods. The different parts of the Duat that the siblings travel through to find Ra are also really cool.

I cannot wait to see how things are finally resolved in the third and final book of the trilogy...and in the meantime, I'm really looking forward to The Son of Neptune that will be coming out this fall!

Full disclosure: Audio book received to review for AudioFile

In My Mailbox - April 24, 2011

In My Mailbox is a weekly meme, hosted by Kristi at the Story Siren, inspired by Alea of Pop Culture Junkie. Every week bloggers can share what they received in the mail or at the bookstore or at the library. The goal is that everyone can be exposed to more books this way!


Vespers Rising by Rick Riordan *Thanks to my awesome friend, Miss Kim!!*

For Review:

Morpheus Road: The Black by D. J. MacHale
Demonglass by Rachel Hawkins *Thank you to Book It Forward ARC Tours*
Darkest Mercy by Melissa Marr *Thank you to Book It Forward ARC Tours*

On My Nook:

The Strange Case of Finley Jane by Kady Cross

Artemis the Brave

Artemis the Brave
by Joan Holub and Suzanne Williams
Goddess Girls series, book four

Artemis is on the Hunt, but she doesn't feel brave!

Artemis's friends and classmates see her as the most courageous goddessgirl at school. Little do they know that despite her expert archery skills, the smelly Geryon, ring-nosed Minotaurs, and scorpions in Beast-ology class scare her as much as they do anyone else! But what's really bothering her now is that funny feeling she has whenever she looks at Orion. She's never had a crush before. Will she find the courage to talk to Orion, to make him see her as more than a pal, and to ace Beast-ology class? (description from back jacket)

This was another fun addition to this Greek mythology series. I love seeing the gods and goddesses relate to each other as tweens! So fun. I really liked getting to see things from Artemis' point of view. She's one of my favorite goddesses.

There were a lot of great example setting scenes again, that get across a nice message, without being preachy to readers. Artemis' relationship with her brother, Apollo, was really great. The others support Artemis when she admits to being scared, and the girls remind her not to drop them for a "boy!" Great life lessons hidden in a fun story!

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Gossip from the Girls' Room

Gossip from the Girls' Room
by Rose Cooper
A Blogtastic Novel

Gossip from the Girls’ Room fills readers in on all there is to learn about middle school life at Middlebrooke, where Sofia has her very own blog and discusses all the juicy gossip that comes out of the Girls’ room; read along to find out just what happens when class is not in session.

In Sofia's words . . .

Mia St. Claire is only the most popular girl in all of Middlebrooke Middle School. For three very obvious reasons:
1. She's very rich.
2. She has tons of money.
3. She can buy anything and everything she wants. And she does.
I'm sure people like her for other reasons too, but none of those reasons are obvious enough for me to really know. Or care about, for that matter. (description from

This was such a fun book! It's very much like Diary of a Wimpy Kid in format, with a font that looks like Sofia's printed handwriting, little illustrations all over the place, and a "notebook" style spiral binding on the interior edge of all the pages. With inserted lists, blog posts and daily journal style entries, this is a super fast paced look into Sofia's private life.

Not only was this book fun to read, but it also brought up some very good points for middle grade readers in a non-lecture method. It teaches that gossiping is bad, you should treat others the way you'd like them to treat you, and that you may not know everything about someone just from the impressions you get from their outward appearance and demeanor. Very nice!

I am looking forward to another fun...and FUNNY...foray into Sofia's world in the upcoming, Rumors from the Boys' Room.


by Dawn Metcalf

As reality slips and time stands still, Consuela finds herself thrust into the world of the Flow. Removed from all she loves into this shifting world overlapping our own, Consuela quickly discovers she has the power to step out of her earthly skin and cloak herself in new ones-skins made from the world around her, crafted from water, fire, air. She is joined by other teens with extraordinary abilities, bound together to safeguard a world they can affect, but where they no longer belong.

When murder threatens to undo the Flow, the Watcher charges Consuela and elusive, attractive V to stop the killer. But the psychopath who threatens her new world may also hold the only key to Consuela's way home. (description from

This book has a super intriguing premise. Consuela, never really happy in her own skin, finds that she is able to slip out of her own skin and create others from organic materials, like fire, air, or even butterflies. The moments she feels most powerful, though, are when she is skinless...just bone, hence she becomes known as "Bones" in the Flow.

Metcalf has constructed a really cool and interesting place known as the Flow. It is between this life and the next. It is malleable. It is different for everyone. Following Bones through her journeys in this place (places?) were some of the best scenes in the book. Not only was it somewhat like the movie What Dreams May Come with really different dreamscapes to imagine, but it was really conceptual in that each place really meant something specific to the person that it was created for...and therefore in their relationship to Bones.

Each character was very interesting and different in this book. They were all teens brought to the Flow to help save others that might die before their time, but the ones that they connected to and the method that they used to save their lives all varied greatly. Each was really a character study and they played well off of each other.

When I finished this book, I found myself really happy with the story and where Bones/Consuela leaves off in her journey. I also realized that I had thought quite a lot while I was reading. It was sort of a subconscious philosophical journey...and I really like books like that. So, kudos to Dawn Metcalf for an excellent debut!

Full disclosure: ARC received to review for SLJ
2011 Debut Author Challenge title
2011 Shifter Challenge title

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Iron Daughter

Iron Daughter
by Julie Kagawa
Iron Fey series, book two

Half Summer faery princess, half human, Meghan has never fit in anywhere. Deserted by the Winter prince she thought loved her, she is prisoner to the Winter faery queen. As war looms between Summer and Winter, Meghan knows that the real danger comes from the Iron fey—ironbound faeries that only she and her absent prince have seen. But no one believes her.

Worse, Meghan's own fey powers have been cut off. She's stuck in Faery with only her wits for help. Trusting anyone would be foolish. Trusting a seeming traitor could be deadly. But even as she grows a backbone of iron, Meghan can't help but hear the whispers of longing in her all-too-human heart. (description from

I am so Team Puck, I'm starting to think it officially hurts. *sigh* So, without getting too spoilery, as much as this book was really good, the first half definitely put me off a little. Meghan was definitely guilty to an extent of Bella-syndrome. She whined, she pined, and I was left a little disappointed.

HOWEVER, the second half of the book officially rocked and I am now pining for book three, The Iron Queen. I think that maybe the lack of Iron Fey in the beginning of this one was one of the things I was missing. As soon as they appeared, my reading mood totally changed....and from the way that this book ended...I cannot wait to see how they are tied to Meghan in the next book.

With (mostly Bella-syndrome free) romance, danger, magic, betrayal, and sacrifice, Kagawa easily pulls readers in. Well worth reading, but you must start with The Iron King.

Talk about Collector's Pieces...

Check out these new hand-sewn covers for classic novels that Penguin is releasing...

I'm not sure that any of the cover designs are actually to my taste, but the idea is brilliant for collectors! What a show piece each one would become!

Monday, April 18, 2011

Get to Know...Lisa and Laura Roecker!

The hilarious Roecker sisters, authors of The Liar Society, have dropped by to let us get to know them better! I am so excited. They are FUNNNNY. I believe the hot pink hair in their author photo can attest to that!!

Let's get to it!! :)

1. Someone hand dips you an entire crate of chocolate covered twizzlers…how do you thank them?

Personalized copies of The Liar Society, of course. KIDDING, KIDDING. We thank them by sharing the Twizzlers—because after approximately 7, a candy stomach ache of epic proportion sets in, and we write their fabulousness into our next book. After all, Twizzlers aid in our writing process so really we would owe it all to them!

2. What’s the perfect outfit to compliment a hot pink wig?

For us, something total prepster. The hot pink hair hints at an edge, but the prep is a bit of a twist. Perhaps a fitted blazer, crisp button down shirt and skinny jeans? Kind of unexpected, right?
* I love this! If only I could pull off skinny jeans...*le sigh*

3. What is the credo for your secret society (and I’ll be nice…you don’t have to answer in Latin)?

Sisters4eva. A nod to good ole Fear. Have you ever seen that movie??? Marky-Mark at his BEST.
*I have to confess I have never seen this movie...might have to get is ASAP, though, if it's getting this kind of recommendation!*

4. If you could pick one character from a book, movie, or TV show that would be perfect to be Kate’s BFF if they ever met…who would it be?

We’ve always thought that Emma from Lee Nichols’ Haunting Emma series would be a kick ass BFF. And Emma’s a ghostkeeper. VERY handy.
*I LOVE this series, too. Emma and Kate - whoa! What a combo*

5. Were there any scenes, characters, etc that you had to cut from The Liar Society that you would have loved to keep?

We were very attached to one line that kept on getting changed and eventually ended up on the cutting room floor. Here she is…we still get all weepy when we think of her.

There was now a distinct before and after. Before Grace died and after Grace died. I still hadn’t figured out who I was in the after-Grace.

And the new… There was now a distinct before and after, and I still hadn’t figured out who I was in life after Grace.

Do you see the difference or are we crazy?
*Wow. I actually really like the phrase after-Grace, but hey...I'm no editor.*

6. What was the last book that you read that you would recommend to other readers?

We just read the first book in a new series for middle graders called Alice-Miranda at School by Jacqueline Harvey. The main character had such a sunny disposition and outlook on life it was hard not to fall in love!

7. Quick Picks: Favorite Vacation Destination? Favorite Childhood Book? Favorite Movie? Favorite Food? Favorite Clothing Item?
1. Hilton Head
2. Anything by Christopher Pike
3. Singles
4. Grandma/Mom’s homemade spaghetti/sauce
5. Yoga pants because they’re so deliciously comfortable
*OMG. I have just recently discovered the wonder of yoga I'm trying to figure out a workable scenario where I can wear them 24/7...too bad my Library doesn't really think they classify as business casual! :P*

If you haven't already read The Liar Society...what are you waiting for?? Check out my review here and go get yourself a copy!! Don't forget to check out the Roeckers' hilarious blog, Lisa and Laura Write and show them some love. Lisa, Laura, thank you sooooo much for stopping by!!!

Your Highness - Movie Review

Your Highness
starring Danny McBride, James Franco, and Natalie Portman

When the glorious crown Prince, Fabius, returns home with a bride-to-be, his younger brother, Thaddeus, is none too impressed. When an evil wizard steals Fabius' fiancee from their wedding to use her as part of a nefarious plot to sire a dragon that would be under his control, Fabius sets out on a quest to save her. Sick of Thaddeus' antics, their father, the King, forces Thaddeus to accompany his brother so that he will become a man along the way. In the midst of their quest, the brothers meet a very pretty, very psychotic young woman, Isabelle, also questing to take out the evil wizard in revenge for killing her family years before.

If you like campy, slapstick, perverted humor, then this is the movie for you. If you don't like dirty humor, nudity, or wizards that shoot lightning out of their fingertips, you may want to skip this one.

I, for one, loved it. I guess there is a part of me that channels 12 year old boy humor, but I thought this movie was hilarious. I was horrified in spots at the dark depths of the humor and parts made me blush, but I would not have stopped watching for anything. So funny!!

If You Like: Veronica Mars

"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 includes suggestions for some favorite older titles and childhood favorites.

With everything I had going on this week, I didn't get a chance to submit my recommendations, but the other bloggers sent in some great ones! If you loved "Veronica Mars," which I was my favorite show of all time! will also love these books, TV shows, and movies.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Pandora Gets Angry

Pandora Gets Angry
by Carolyn Hennesy Pandora
series, book five

Pandora and her friends are off to Persia to track the fifth evil: Rage. They have camels to help them cross the desert, but mysterious sandstorms and frightening strangers keep them from moving quickly. Luckily, help arrives in the form of a cute Persian boy who helps Pandy and her friends search for Persia's secret Garden of the Jin. In the garden, where genies hide their treasure, there is a lamp that was once used to imprison an angry genie. So Pandy & Co. just have to figure out how to capture one of the most enraged genies of all time. Easy, right? (Description from

If you are a mythology lover, you should definitely try this series. It's great if you are having Percy Jackson withdrawl. The premise is fun, the characters are great and there is tons of magic and mythology to keep things fresh and fun.

I loved the Persian mythology and magic in this one. It was neat to learn about some of the gods from that part of the world. It also had genies...I always end up trying to decide on smart wishes whenever I read about genies...

There was a little more romance in this one and very great loyal friendships. There were moments that made me snort and ones that made me tear up a little. I cannot wait to see what the trip to Rome in the next book about Greed brings...

Annie's Adventures

Annie's Adventures
by Lauren Baratz-Logsted
with Greg Logsted and Jackie Logsted
Sisters Eight, book one

A rather large problem has befallen the Huit girls. (Sisters, actually. Octuplets to be exact.) One particular New Year’s Eve, the girls wait for their mommy to bring them hot chocolate and their daddy to return with more wood for the fire. But they don’t. Mommy and Daddy, that is.

They’re gone. Poof! Maybe dead—no one knows for sure. You must see the problem here. Eight little girls on their own, no mommy or daddy to take care of them. This is not a good thing. So now these little girls, must take care of themselves. Get to school, cook the meals, feed the cats (eight of them, too), and pay the bills. They can’t ask for help, oh no. Any self-respecting adult would surely call in social services, and those well-meaning people would have to split them up. After losing their parents, being split up would be completely unbearable.

At the same time, the question remains: What happened to Mommy and Daddy? The Sisters Eight (as they are called, affectionately and otherwise) are determined to find out. Luckily, they do seem to have someone or something helping them. Notes keep appearing behind a loose brick in the fireplace.

It’s a good old-fashioned mystery with missing (or dead) parents, nosy neighbors, talking refrigerators, foul-smelling fruitcake (is there any other kind?), and even a little magic. Eight little girls, eight cats, and one big mystery—let the fun begin!

This was a very cute start to a fun, short series. The tone of the narrators, the Sisters Eight, often referring to themselves as we, etc., was very similar to the tone of Lemony Snicket. I loved it.

At first, I was worried that the whole missing parents premise would be totally unrealistic, and to an extent it is, but the Logsteds make it work. The mother, an inventor, left the Sisters Eight with plenty of things to make their lives work without adults. The local mechanic is sympathetic to their plight and helps them out on occasion. I can't wait to see how they continue to get along as time passes.

In My Mailbox - April 17, 2011

In My Mailbox is a weekly meme, hosted by Kristi at the Story Siren, inspired by Alea of Pop Culture Junkie. Every week bloggers can share what they received in the mail or at the bookstore or at the library. The goal is that everyone can be exposed to more books this way!


Treachery in Death by J.D. Robb
*borrowed from my awesome friend, Sharon, at I Mainline Fiction*


What's a Ghoul to Do? by Victoria Laurie
The Reckless Bride by Stephanie Laurens
*From the final weekend sale at my local Borders location*

From the Library:

The Iron Witch by Karen Mahoney
Darkness Becomes Her by Kelly Keaton
City of Fallen Angels by Cassandra Clare

For Review:

Hotel No Tell by Daphne Uviller
The Abused Werewolf Rescue Group by Catherine Jinks

Attachments by Rainbow Rowell
Hereafter by Tara Hudson

On My Nook:

Hollowland by Amanda Hocking
Heat Wave by Richard Castle

Wednesday, April 13, 2011


by Lauren Oliver

What if love were a disease? There was a time when love was the most important thing in the world. People would go to the end of the earth to find it. They would tell lies for it. Even kill for it. Then, at last, they found the cure. Now, everything is different. Scientists are able to eradicate love, and the government demands that all citizens receive the cure upon turning eighteen. Lena Haloway has always looked forward to the day when she'll be cured. A life without love is a life without pain: safe, measured, predictable, and happy. But then, with only ninety-five days left until her treatment, Lena does the unthinkable... (description from

Lauren Oliver proves that not only is she a phenomenal wordsmith, but also a wonderful world builder. This dystopian world is so intriguing, so captivating, because it feels so possible. Set not too far in the future, the government has declared love, LOVE, a disease. To control love, and its people, the government has walled in cities, killed thousands of "infected," and perform authorized lobotomies on every citizen over the age of 18!

As the information is revealed, little by little, both Lena and readers are horrified. It is inconceivable that the feeling that we all strain to experience could be forbidden! When Lena meets Alex, readers can't help but root for them. The only flaw in this book is a minor tendency towards the end to dive into what I like to call, "Bella syndrome." The overly melodramatic, "What will I do without him..." Lena, though, decides to take action and go for what she wants.

As Oliver concludes the book, Lena proves her strength and as I teared up a little bit, I was grinning through my watering eyes and I am now anxiously waiting to see how Lena proceeds in the second Delirium book.

Full disclosure: Audio book reviewed for AudioFile Magazine

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Happy Release Day - Enclave by Ann Aguirre

To celebrate today's release of Enclave by Ann Aguirre, here's the book trailer!!

As I said in my review of Corsets and Clockwork which featured a great story by Ann Aguirre, I can't wait to read Enclave. It sounds awesome!

"New York City has been decimated by war and plague, and most of civilization has migrated to underground enclaves, where life expectancy is no more than the early 20's. When Deuce turns 15, she takes on her role as a Huntress, and is paired with Fade, a teenage Hunter who lived Topside as a young boy. When she and Fade discover that the neighboring enclave has been decimated by the tunnel monsters—or Freaks—who seem to be growing more organized, the elders refuse to listen to warnings. And when Deuce and Fade are exiled from the enclave, the girl born in darkness must survive in daylight, in the ruins of a city whose population has dwindled to a few dangerous gangs. As the two are guided by Fade’s long-ago memories, they face dangers, and feelings, unlike any they’ve ever known."

Find out more about 'Enclave' at, including the first two chapters, the book cover and an interview with the author!

Corsets and Clockwork

Corsets and Clockwork
ed. by Trisha Telep

Dark, urban fantasies come to life in the newest collection of Steampunk stories, Corsets & Clockwork. Young heroes and heroines battle evils with the help of supernatural or super-technological powers, each individual story perfectly balancing historical and fantastical elements. Throw in epic romances that transcend time, and this trendy, engrossing anthology is sure to become another hit for the fast-growing Steampunk genre!

This collection features some of the hottest writers in the teen genre, including: Ann Aguirre, Jaclyn Dolamore, Tessa Gratton, Frewin Jones, Caitlin Kittredge, Adrienne Kress, Lesley Livingston, Dru Pagliassotti, Dia Reeves, Michael Scott, Maria V. Snyder, Tiffany Trent, and Kiersten White. (description from

I am a huge steampunk fan so I was stoked to read this book featuring tons of great authors each spinning their own steampunk tale. They did not disappoint me! Each tale was full of machinery, adventure, and romance. I was swept over and over into new and exciting worlds.

Though it's hard in a collection like this to pick favorites, I will name three stories that really stood out for me:

Wild Magic by Ann Aguirre - This steampunk also featured a lot of fantasy with wild fey magic that had become illegal. It was a great story about love overcoming one's duty and class barriers. (Now I have to go read Enclave because I really loved Aguirre's writing style!!)

Under Amber Skies by Maria Snyder - This interesting tale was set in Poland during World War II. It had lots of really ingenious steampunk inventions, including little protection crabs. Really cool.

Tick, Tick, Boom by Kiersten White - This tale featured a super smart female protagonist who is a secret revolutionary. When her day to day and secret lives collide it makes for very interesting sparks!

Steampunk lovers and newbies who want to tiptoe their way into the genre would both do well to read this collection. I enjoyed it from start to finish!!

Full disclosure: ARC received from Book It Forward ARC Tours

If You Like: Boarding School Edition

"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 includes suggestions for some favorite older titles and childhood favorites.

Check out our combined recommendations for books/movies/tv shows set in Boarding Schools. There are some good ones I need to go back to again!!

Monday, April 11, 2011

Writing the Breakout Novel

Writing the Breakout Novel
by Donald Maass

A breakout novel is one that rises out if its category - such as literary fiction, mystery, romance, or thriller - and hits the bestseller charts. Maass explains the elements that all breakout novels share and shows readers how to use these elements to write a novel that has a good chance of succeeding in a crowded marketplace. They'll learn to: - Create a powerful and sweeping sense of time and place - Develop larger-than-life characters - Sustain a high degree of narrative tension from start to finish - Weave sub-plots into the main action - Explore universal themes that will interest a large audience (description taken from

This book was only somewhat helpful for me. There were some very similar tips to books I had already read. The section about plotting, developing things to the next level...really pushing the characters...I think I found that the most useful. Some chapters seemed a lot less helpful without really good examples.

I would skip this one in favor of some other books in the same field.

Rapunzel's Revenge

Rapunzel's Revenge
by Shannon and Dean Hale
Illustrated by Nathan Hale

Once upon a time, in a land you only think you know, lived a little girl and her mother . . . or the woman she thought was her mother.

Every day, when the little girl played in her pretty garden, she grew more curious about what lay on the other side of the garden wall . . . a rather enormous garden wall.

And every year, as she grew older, things seemed weirder and weirder, until the day she finally climbed to the top of the wall and looked over into the mines and desert beyond.(description taken from

I really enjoyed this version of Rapunzel. Visually it was interesting and cleanly done. I really liked how Nathan Hale envisioned Rapunzel. She was slight but tough. (I also love that she's a redhead!!)

This was a wonderful girl power version! I just saw the movie Tangled and had thought that would be my all time favorite version of Rapunzel, but I love Shannon Hale's girl, too. Either way...she saves herself...and her "prince!" I loved, too, that this version weaves in Jack from "Jack and the Beanstalk." The allusions to that story were fun to pick out of Rapunzel's tale.

I can't wait to read Calamity Jack soon.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

In My Mailbox - April 10, 2011

In My Mailbox is a weekly meme, hosted by Kristi at the Story Siren, inspired by Alea of Pop Culture Junkie. Every week bloggers can share what they received in the mail or at the bookstore or at the library. The goal is that everyone can be exposed to more books this way!

For Review:

Corsets and Clockwork ed. by Trisha Telep
*Thank you to Book It Forward ARC Tours!*

From the Library:

Desires of the Dead by Kimberly Derting
Rapunzel's Revenge by Shannon and Dean Hale

Saturday, April 9, 2011

Self-Editing for Fiction Writers

Self-Editing for Fiction Writers
by Renni Browne and Dave King

In this completely revised and updated second edition, Renni Browne and Dave King teach you, the writer, how to apply the editing techniques they have developed to your own work. Chapters on dialogue, exposition, point of view, interior monologue, and other techniques take you through the same processes an expert editor would go through to perfect your manuscript. Each point is illustrated with examples, many drawn from the hundreds of books Browne and King have edited. (description taken from

Another good book with plenty of tips for someone seriously trying to get into writing. With both a tips checklist and exercises at the end of the chapter, there are plenty of chances to practice the principles shown. The examples were well done and I thought the dialogue and interior monologue sections were especially well done.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Fantastic, Fabulous Creatures and Beasts: Volume 1

Fantastic, Fabulous Creatures and Beasts: Volume 1

by Melanie Dellas
Illustrated by Christopher Bennett

Fantastic, Fabulous Creatures & Beasts came about because of my love of history. As a child I was fascinated with folk tales from other countries and the history of ancient civilizations. I read everything I could get my hands on, including the many encyclopedias my parents kept in the study. There was a certain thrill in discovering mythology from all over the world and seeing how closely related it all was. As an adult, my love for mythology and history never ceased. In fact, it grew stronger. After having my second child, I decided it was time to put my favorite myths into a book that would not only entertain my children, but teach them about the various cultures and their folklore.

I have taken the "real" folk tales and written them in a format that will help children remember them. Because I have not embellished the stories or changed them in any way from their original versions, you will find happy creatures and sad creatures, friendly creatures and not-so-friendly creatures. The tales contained within are from China, Russia, India and many other countries. Through this book, it is my hope that children will come to respect and appreciate the multicultural world they live in and, of course, remember that our world is still mystical and magical - as long as our stories remain alive. (description taken from

This book takes mythical creatures from many different cultures and showcases a poem and illustration for each. Some of the creatures are familiar to children in Western cultures, like the unicorn, Pegasus, and Medusa, while others from very foreign lands may first be learned about here.

Dellas presents each creature's story in a poem. The rhyming stanzas vary in reading level from creature to creature. Younger children can pick this book up and enjoy the illustrations and have someone help them understand the poems. Older readers will be able to enjoy on their own.

The Phoenix, it's said, has iridescent wings
and a body of reddish-gold,
with a tuft of feathers at the back of its head
that is fiery and bold.

The illustrations that match each creature are really stylized and just plain "cool." They actually remind me of the type of illustrations you would see on an album or CD cover. One of my favorite illustrations is of an electric blue and purple "Heaven Dog" from China. I also really loved both the poem and the illustration for the "Simurgh," a Persian mythological bird that gathered seeds from the Tree of Life and gave them to the world.

Though this book is a scant 45 pages, readers of almost any age are guaranteed to learn new mythology and to enjoy the beautiful format.

Full disclosure: Copy borrowed from my Library, but purchased for the Library after being contacted by publicist.