Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Sweet Venom

Sweet Venom
by Tera Lynn Childs
Publication date: Sept. 6, 2011

Grace just moved to San Francisco and is excited to start over at a new school. The change is full of fresh possibilities, but it’s also a tiny bit scary. It gets scarier when a minotaur walks in the door. And even more shocking when a girl who looks just like her shows up to fight the monster.

Gretchen is tired of monsters pulling her out into the wee hours, especially on a school night, but what can she do? Sending the minotaur back to his bleak home is just another notch on her combat belt. She never expected to run into this girl who could be her double, though.

Greer has her life pretty well put together, thank you very much. But that all tilts sideways when two girls who look eerily like her appear on her doorstep and claim they’re triplets, supernatural descendants of some hideous creature from Greek myth, destined to spend their lives hunting monsters.

These three teenage descendants of Medusa, the once-beautiful Gorgon maligned in myth, must reunite and embrace their fates in this unique paranormal world where monsters lurk in plain sight. (description from

Ok, so I already read this book a few weeks ago and published my pictorial teaser (check it out here) because I couldn't wait to say something about how much I loved this book!

First off, Tera has such an easy to read and engaging writing style. I love everything that she writes just from that standpoint. Then, you add in awesome characters, mythology, fun details and BAM! You have a winner.

I loved that this book was set in San Fransisco. It's one of those cities that has it's own character and mystique, adding another layer to the storyline. (And now, I really can't wait to see it myself someday!) The trolleys, the restaurants, the wharfs, the, well everything just seems soooo cool.

I loved that this book had three main characters. It was such fun learning about each. Their likes, dislikes, quirks, etc. and they are three very different girls! I had a blast imagining meeting each one and seeing how they reacted to different situations (and each other...). So far, my favorite is Grace. She's the easiest for me to relate to, but all of the girls are interesting in different ways.

I thought this book was action packed, funny, and had a really interesting mythology built into it. I CANNOT wait to read "Sweet Venom 2" (the title's going to be revealed SOON!!) and I think that this really is my favorite of Tera's books so far.

Full disclosure: review copy received from publisher

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Hades - Book Trailer and Giveaway!

Guess what came out today? The second book in Alexandra Adornetto's sweeping angel trilogy, Hades. The first book, Halo, began Bethany's journey on Earth...and now to fight the forces of evil, she'll have to travel into Hell...

Zieghost Media has graciously allowed me to host a giveaway! One lucky winner will receive a finished copy of Hades. To enter, all you need to do is leave me a comment before Monday, Sept. 5th with your name, email address, and the name of your favorite angel from books, TV, movies - whatever! On Tues., Sept. 6th, I will randomly draw the winner and they will have until Sat., Sept. 10th to get me their mailing address (US/Canada only per publisher - sorry!). GOOD LUCK!!

Sweet Venom 2 - Title Hunt!!

To help celebrate Sweet Venom's release next week, Tera Lynn Childs is hosting a little contest to see if you can figure out the title for the second book in the series, due out next fall. *squee!*

Many different bloggers are revealing letters that are contained in the title. If you can unscramble them and fill in the title boxes (see below), then you can enter the contest on Tera's website. What are the prizes? Tera's giving away FIVE signed copies of Sweet Venom and a grand prize $50 book store gift card! *Awesome, right?*

If you'd like to participate, don't forget to jump over to Tera's blog, and check out the list of bloggers so that you can start collecting letters!

My letter:

AND, check back here tomorrow for my full review of the first book in the series, Sweet Venom.

Monday, August 29, 2011

Kiss of Death

Kiss of Death
by Lauren Henderson
Scarlett Wakefield, book four

Scarlett thought Dan McAndrew's murder was long behind her, but when she and her classmates arrive in Edinburgh for a weeklong field trip, she's startled to be joined by her old St. Tabby's cohorts--and enemies--who are visiting the area on a field trip as well. Even more startling, Callum, Dan's surviving twin, is in the area--and his cold treatment leaves Scarlett wondering what's changed, especially when a series of attacks makes her believe that someone's out to get her for her past mistakes. Would Callum ever hurt her, though? And what's Scarlett to make of her conflicting feelings for Callum, now that Jase isn't around? Even more upsetting, why is her most trusted confidante, Taylor, acting distant and dismissive? (description from

Though I love the premise of this series and this book wrapped things up nicely, there were moments that it dragged for me. It was a little longer than it could have been in the middle sections, when really the ending could have been fleshed out just a little more. All that aside, though it wasn't my favorite book in the series, it was still very good.

I love the way that Scarlett comes to really appreciate her friendship with Taylor as she compares it to all the other friendships in her life and surrounding her. I loved that her romantic life really and truly works out and that she finds out that her Grandmother really cares for her. I love the excitement in this series - really, you just can't beat a great attempted murder scene! I love the settings in this series and Edinborough was particularly "beautiful" in this book.

Though I am in a way glad to see Scarlett's story come to an end, I will definitely be checking out Lauren Henderson's future books to see if I can capture that feeling of excitement that she so effortlessly achieves again!

Withering Tights

Withering Tights
by Louise Rennison
The Misadventures of Tallulah Casey, book one

Wow. This is it. This is me growing up. On my own, going to Performing Arts College. This is good-bye, Tallulah, you long, gangly thing, and hellooooo, Lullah, star of stage.

Tallulah Casey is ready to find her inner artist. And some new mates. And maybe a boy or two or three.

The ticket to achieving these lofty goals? Enrolling in a summer performing arts program, of course. She's bound for the wilds of Yorkshire Dales—eerily similar to the windswept moors of Wuthering Heights. Tallulah expects new friends, less parental interference, and lots of drama. Acting? Tights? Moors? Check, check, check.

What she doesn't expect is feeling like a tiny bat's barging around in her mouth when she has her first snog. (description from

While this didn't quite pack the ultimate punch for me that The Confessions of Georgia Nicolson series did, it did cure my case of Georgia withdrawal! I hadn't realized how much I'd missed the funny made-up Brit slang, the not-so-made-up, but still funny Brit slang, and the wonderful teen voice that Rennison infuses her books with!

Poor Tallulah's obsession with growing corkers and getting her first snog. Her confusion when she meets some delicious looking boys, but realizes that they may make her feel, well somewhat uncomfortable...I mean, what do boys mean when they do these weird things, anyway??

Though I think that Georgia is a once in a life character, the kind that you would have trouble following, I think Tallulah stands on her own. I loved that in this series, Tallulah is just getting to know all of her friends. They each have their own quirkiness and they embrace Tallulah's, well odd behavior, wholeheartedly. I think this is the start of a great new (funny) series.

Full disclosure: Borrowed from Jen at Yabooknerd

Hunger Games sneak peek!

Okay, so for those of you that don't know, I live in eastern CT. We got hit yesterday by "Hurricane Irene" and I thought it was going fairly well - we weren't too badly battered, luckily - until our power went out yesterday afternoon. :(

So, what's my first thought? Not, oh no, will our food go bad, will we have alarm clocks to get up in the morning, can we flush the toilets? No. My first thought was "Oh my god, I hope they get it on in time so that I can DVR the VMA's and see the first trailer from THE HUNGER GAMES movie!!"

...which they did not. We still have no power. SO. I wasn't able to see this until I finally came into work this morning, even though I could see all kinds of tweets, Facebook posts, etc. on my phone...but not the actual trailer!

I am pleased to be able to say I finally saw it! I loved it! I can't wait for this movie to come out.
In case you haven't seen it yet, here you go:

Get More: 2011 VMA, Music

*A quick update - we got power back! Lucky us!! A lot of the state is still out. :(

Sunday, August 28, 2011

In My Mailbox - August 28, 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:

Jack Blank and the Secret War by Matt Myklusch
All These Things I've Done by Gabrielle Zevin
*Thanks to AudioFile*

Every Other Day by Jennifer Lynn Barnes
Nightshade by MaryRose Wood
*Thanks NetGalley!*

Prized by Caragh O'Brien
Liesl and Po by Lauren Oliver
*Thanks NetGalley!*

Paradise Prophecy by Robert Browne
*Thanks to Dutton*
Anna Dressed in Blood by Kendare Blake
*Thanks to Tor Teen!*

From the Library:

The Seventh Level by Jody Feldman
Edda by Conor Kostick

The Host - Movie release date announced!

Though I have my issues with Stephenie Meyer's The Twilight Saga, I loved The Host without reservations. It is one of my favorite books of all time and I was stoked when I found out they had optioned it for a movie.

Here's part of the official announcement:
Los Angeles, CA, June 27, 2011 – Open Road Films has acquired U.S. distribution rights to “The Host,” the big screen adaptation of Twilight series author Stephenie Meyer’s best-selling novel. As previously announced, “The Host” will be directed by Andrew Niccol (“Gattaca”), who also wrote the screenplay, and will star Saoirse Ronan (“Hanna,” “The Lovely Bones,” “Atonement”). Open Road Films has set a March 29, 2013 release date (Easter weekend) for “The Host.”

I am beyond excited!! I really hope they do the story and its characters justice. I love Saoirse Ronan and I'm thinking she'll be great in this movie, too!

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Vanish Swag Giveaway!

Did you love Sophie Jordan's Firelight as much as I did?
(Check out my slightly ummm, gushy review here)

Well, since the sequel, Vanish comes out in ten days (9/6), I thought I would share my TEAM DRAKI love and give you all a chance to win some HOT Draki swag!

Included are two Firelight postcards, two Vanish postcards, four Firelight stickers, and a TEAM DRAKI bracelet. *Which I love!!*

For your chance to win this swag and support TEAM DRAKI, just leave a comment below with your name and email address before Wed., Aug. 31st. On Thurs., Sept. 1st, I'll randomly draw a winner and they will have until Sun., Sept. 4th to get me their address (US/Canada only, please) for shipping. Good luck and GO TEAM DRAKI!!

Friday, August 26, 2011

Anna and the French Kiss

Anna and the French Kiss
by Stephanie Perkins

Anna is looking forward to her senior year in Atlanta, where she has a great job, a loyal best friend, and a crush on the verge of becoming more. Which is why she is less than thrilled about being shipped off to boarding school in Paris - until she meets Etienne St. Clair: perfect, Parisian (and English and American, which makes for a swoon-worthy accent), and utterly irresistible. The only problem is that he's taken, and Anna might be, too, if anything comes of her almost-relationship back home.

As winter melts into spring, will a year of romantic near - misses end with the French kiss Anna - and readers - have long awaited? (description from

Well, first off I have to apologize to the blogosphere and the twitterverse. The buzz for this book was huge, and me being stupidly, oh SO stupidly stubborn, decided to ignore the gazillions of posts/tweets/etc. that simply stated, "READ THIS ONE!!!"

I am so so so so so sorry that I did not take that advice earlier. This book is...well, I can't really describe what this book is... it is EPIC and AWESOME.

It is absolutely deserving of a GOLD STAR.

Kudos, Stephanie Perkins, you have officially written one of my new favorite books...and a perfect couple!
I love Anna and St. Clair. They are perfect together. In a perfect setting. With the perfect amount of gush, guts, and glorious non-perfect-ness.

Really. I cannot tell you how this book made me smile, tear up, smile, grin, chuckle, smile again, squee with happiness, and then sigh when it ended. I do not know how I am going to wait now to read Lola and the Boy Next Door! It seems so unfair that I cannot just run to my bookshelf, dig behind some other books, and magically pull it out...I must have more ASAP!!

I now add my sincerest advice to the blogosphere/twitterverse. If you were holding out like me...STOP! RUN NOW, PICK UP THIS BOOK! You will want gleefully devour it - I swear.

For now, I am in withdrawl...and if anyone out there has a LOLA that they would be willing to share...


by Walter Dean Myers
The Cruisers, book two

Sidney Aronofsky is one of the best chess players under age 16 in both the city and the country. When he's arrested for trying to buy drugs, it comes as a total surprise to those who know him. The expectations of parents, schools, and tutors pressure the young players. Sidney loves and wants to play chess, but dislikes the constant spotlight. He thinks that if he appears to be involved in drugs or a troublemaker he will be excused from playing on the school's team. In this book Zander and his crew is back, using the Cruiser school newspaper express their frustrations and triumphs. (description from

These books are great for my tween readers. They are the lightest urban fiction you could get... the kids go to a really great school in Harlem, but they are real. They deal with real life issues like drugs, dating, racism, etc. Myers does a great job making these issues apparent, accessible to tween readers, and totally age appropriate.

I love the relationship that Zander has with his mother. While like any other tween, he doesn't always love what his mother says, he is not at all afraid to approach her with problems and they deal with them together, really well. In this particular book, Zander's uncle also helps the Cruisers to show their friend Sidney how bad drugs can really make your life. It's great to see good role models for the kids in this series. (On that note, I also love how these kids are polite!!)

This book happens to center around competative chess. I thought that Myers did a really great job explaining parts of the game and how competative matches are held without getting too technical and losing his audience. It was really interesting...and like any other sport/activity, there were down sides that I thought were touched upon really well, too.

Myers definitely knows his craft! As a Teen Librarian in an urban setting, these books really are perfect to hand to my tweens. *Also, this series is narrated by Kevin R. Free, who does a great job!*

Full disclosure: Audio book received to review for SLJ

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Mixed Messages

Mixed Messages
by Tina Wells
Mackenzie Blue, book four

Mackenzie Blue and her crew are plugged in!

Zee and her band, The Beans, are getting ready for their biggest show yet! Everyone's talking about it online at Bluetopia—the coolest social-networking site ever.

Top three reasons that Bluetopia is the best:

*I can keep all my thoughts safe in a private blog, and I won't have to worry about anyone stealing my diary (finally)!

*The Beans have a huge show coming up, and we can make sure everyone knows about it!

*Jasper (my best guy friend) is in the spotlight for creating the site. He's so talented—he deserves it.
(description from

This series really is a lot of fun. I love easy it is to read, how there are little pictures of the characters breaking up the story, and the great little messages that are worked into the story without being at all preachy.

Zee is still one of my favorite middle grade characters. She is very real. She's uber creative and fun, but also gets wrapped up in real-life worries and makes mistakes. She's who I wanted to be in middle school - not afraid to do my own thing, but still fun and totally approachable. Zee rocks!

I love the budding romance in this book. I don't want to spoil it for anyone that might check the series out, but things that have been building for awhile might finally come to fruition soon!! :)

I love that Zee balances her friendships so well. She has to work at it, but that only makes her that much more of a positive role model to middle grade readers out there.

The whole addition of the Facebook like site, "Bluetopia" in this book seems very timely and fresh. It's also a really great way to introduce the need for internet safety on social networking sites without lecturing tween readers.

Well done.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Populazzi Winner!!

I am pleased to announce that the winner of the Populazzi giveaway (via random drawing at is...

Laura Kay!!

Laura, check your have until Saturday, August 27th to contact me with your mailing address so we can send the book out to you. Congratulations again!

Monday, August 22, 2011


by Frank Cottrell Boyce

Liam has always felt a bit like he's stuck between two worlds. This is primarily because he's a twelve-year-old kid who looks like he's about thirty. Sometimes it's not so bad, like when his new principal mistakes him for a teacher on the first day of school or when he convinces a car dealer to let him take a Porsche out on a test drive. But mostly it's just frustrating, being a kid trapped in an adult world. And so he decides to flip things around. Liam cons his way onto the first spaceship to take civilians into space, a special flight for a group of kids and an adult chaperone, and he is going as the adult chaperone. It's not long before Liam, along with his friends, is stuck between two worlds again—only this time he's 239,000 miles from home. (description from

What a great middle grade science fiction adventure! This book had me laughing out loud...and tearing up in some moments. Liam is a great kid and has a great opportunity to find out what it's like to be an adult...without growing up! I loved his attempts to be just like his father, or really what he thinks his father is like... It was hilarious to see a 12 year old acting like his perception of the adults around him.

It was really touching as he realized all the things that parents do for their children and he really came to appreciate (and miss!) his own father. Though there were many, many funny moments along the way, this book had a lot of heart. The way that this experience influences his relationship with his parents and the other kids he's friends with was really cool to read. I ended this book with a huge smile on my face!

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Mercy: The Last New England Vampire

Mercy: The Last New England Vampire
by Sarah Thomson

Fourteen-year-old Haley is struggling to cope with her stepmom and baby brother, with her beloved cousin's terminal illness, and with dropping grades at school. When she digs deep into her family history for a school project, she uncovers a disturbing New England tradition and a ghostly past. Haley must overcome her doubts and confront a vampire in order to save herself and her family. (description from

In a crazy slew of vampire novels, this short tale by Sarah Thomson stands out. It's a fantastic blend of historical fiction and a chilling ghost story. This gives a new twist to the origin of vampirism and ties into a real and scary time in New England's history. Haley's school project is a perfect device to bring the historical background into this tale.

Haley is a great character. She's trying desperately to hold it together, to deal with her real-life issues. Being only fourteen, she is totally believable in both her terror and her tenaciousness. Her relationship with her father, stepmother, and baby brother is totally believable. The grief she feels and the resolute determination she has to try and save her dying cousin brought tears to my eyes.

A quick and interesting read. I'll be looking for more books by Sarah Thomson in the future.

Full disclosure: Review copy received to review for VOYA

In My Mailbox - August 21, 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!

Nook Freebies!:

Fallen from Grace by M.J. Putney
The Magnificant 12: The Call by Michael Grant
Turned at Dark by C.C. Hunter

From the Library:

Black Night by Christina Henry

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Populazzi Blog Tour and Giveaway!

by Elise Allen

Cara has never been one of those girls: confident, self-possessed, and always ready with the perfect thing to say. A girl at the very top of the popularity tower. One of the Populazzi.

Now, junior year could change everything. Cara’s moving to a new school, and her best friend urges her to seize the moment—with the help of the Ladder. Its rungs are relationships, and if Cara transforms into the perfect girlfriend for guys ever-higher on the tower, she’ll reach the ultimate goal: Supreme Populazzi.

The Ladder seems like a lighthearted social experiment, a straight climb up, but it quickly becomes gnarled and twisted. And when everything goes wrong, only the most audacious act Cara can think of has a chance of setting things even a little bit right. (description from

A mostly hilarious (only slightly cringe-inducing) roller coaster ride through the rungs of popularity! Wow. Elise Allen nailed the clique scene at most high schools. You've got the populazzi (also known in popular culture as the perfects/the plastics/the elite/the upper eschelon), your cool outsiders, your cool club based cliques, your not so cool club based cliques, your fringe kids, and your dorks. Yup. It's all there and it's all realistic. I was amazed how quickly this book threw me right back in to my high school years...hence the cringes.

Allen's writing is fresh and fun. The cringes were all due to my memories, not the story, I promise! Though there are moments when I felt bad for Cara and her best friend Claudia...they just want to fit in sooo badly. I've totally been there. It takes a lot of guts to stand out and just be yourself. I have to say that some of my favorite characters in the book were the kids who just did that. They were just into what they were into and they didn't care what anyone else thought. Kudos! If we all could be that self possessed in high school the world would be a much better place!

Anyway, Cara's journey up the ladder to the populazzi is fun to read, funny, and rings totally true. The dialogue works, even in the quirky discussions where Shakespeare is sprinkled in, or kids randomly drop into song. The interactions between the teens absolutely reminded me of my high school years, including the embarrasing moments... I loved how Cara sees and experiences all different sections of the high school experience before figuring out where she really feels comfortable. It was a fun journey.

Want to climb the rungs of popularity to mingle with the populazzi? Enter to win a free, finished copy of Populazzi! Leave me a comment with your name and an email address before Monday, August 22nd. On Tues., August 23rd, I will randomly choose a winner and contact them for their address (must be US/Canada only per publisher, sorry!). Good luck!!!

Full disclosure: review copy received from publisher

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

The Murder of Bindy MacKenzie

The Murder of Bindy MacKenzie
by Jaclyn Moriarty
Companion book to The Year of Secret Assignments

Bindy Mackenzie is the smartest girl at Ashbury High. She memorizes class outlines to help her teachers. She records transcripts of everything said around her. She offers helpful critiques for her fellow students. And she wears crazy nail polish to show she's a free spirit.

But then Bindy's life begins to fall apart. She can't stop feeling sleepy and she fails an exam for the first time ever. And--worst of all--she just doesn't care. What could be the cause of all these strange events? Is it conspiracy? Is it madness? Is it . . . murder?

Lots of people hate Bindy Mackenzie--but who would actually want to kill her? The answer is in Bindy's transcripts. The detectives are her fellow students. But Bindy has made every one of them into an enemy . . . and time is running out. (description from

As with The Year of Secret Assignments Moriarty's companion book is made up of letters...or in this case, memos. Here there are also emails, philosophical musings, and Bindy's favorite pastime...transcripts. I love getting to learn a story through people's written interactions. I think it's really interesting and fascinating in the modern world with so many possible forms of written interaction.

In fact, when I "read" this book, it was actually as an audio book and this is one case where I really feel that you get more out of reading the text. There were parts where the narrator had to emphasize words in strange ways in order to let the listener know that something was different in the written form, but she could not explain it. It definitely felt in spots like you were missing a whole layer to the story. I actually ended up picking up the book afterwards to flip through and visually explore the text.

Anyway, the story ended up being fascinating. After I got past my slight confusion at the beginning of the text and after I got past Bindy's slightly overbearing personality, I got totally sucked into the plot. As more and more was revealed about Bindy's life, her relationship with fellow students, her secrets, I became enthralled. From the outside, I was as put off as her fellow classmates, but once I'd gotten her back story, once she'd opened up, I actually empathized a lot with Bindy. I remember quite a few times that my reactions to classmates and groups were just the same as hers. I hope I wasn't quite as superior sounding!

With the way that Bindy appears to be slowly losing her mind - a stress induced condition - it was really, really intriguing to consider the possibility that Bindy might actually be in danger. That someone wants to kill her. I loved how it all wound together in the end. The way that her classmates and family end up helping Bindy was really satisfying, too. Very well done.

Full disclosure: Audio book received to review for SLJ

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Bad Taste in Boys

Bad Taste in Boys
by Carrie Harris

Someone's been a very bad zombie.

Kate Grable is horrified to find out that the football coach has given the team steroids. Worse yet, the steriods are having an unexpected effect, turning hot gridiron hunks into mindless flesh-eating zombies. No one is safe--not her cute crush Aaron, not her dorky brother, Jonah . . . not even Kate! She's got to find an antidote--before her entire high school ends up eating each other. So Kate, her best girlfriend, Rocky, and Aaron stage a frantic battle to save their town . . . and stay hormonally human. (description from

Short. Sweet. Sarcastic. Smart.
Veronica Mars meet Buffy the Vampire Slayer...okay, now create a happy little zombie fighting sleuth and voila! Kate Grable.

Kate, Kate, Kate. I <3 Kate. She is one smart cookie. She's also hilariously blasé about shuffling, hungry, black vomit hurtling zombies that are continuously losing body parts in her vacinity.

With a guy who actually appreciates her for her brains (yes, my inner - I mean 0uter, I mean inner...whatever - nerd screamed "Yes!!!"), two best friends who love and support her and try to also break her out of her "nerdy" shell, and a brother that is willing to fight zombies alongside her, Kate is one lucky chick. I'm a little jealous, honestly!

For a quick, snappy, hilarious zombie book, run out and pick up Bad Taste in Boys. There will be NO bad taste left in your mouth. *snort* I know, I know...I couldn't resist. Anyway, two dismembered thumbs way, way up!!

2011 Debut Author Challenge title
2011 Zombie Reading Challenge title

Monday, August 15, 2011

WANT!!! Minimalist posters for your favorite children's stories

Saw a great link to this site with MINIMALIST posters for your favorite children's stories.

These are amazing! My personal favorite is the Little Red Riding Hood one.
So simple, yet so evocative! LURVE...want.

And for my friend Becca over at Alice: Journey of a Fake Writer...

Here's another great Alice cover for you!!

I Was Jane Austen's Best Friend

I Was Jane Austen's Best Friend
by Cora Harrison

When shy Jenny Cooper goes to stay with her cousin Jane Austen, she knows nothing of the world of beautiful dresses, dances, secrets, gossip, and romance that Jane inhabits. At fifteen, Jane is already a sharp observer of the customs of courtship. So when Jenny falls utterly in love with Captain Thomas Williams, who better than Jane to help her win the heart of this dashing man?

But is that even possible? After all, Jenny’s been harboring a most desperate secret. Should it become known, it would bring scandal not only to her, but also to the wonderful Austen family. What’s a poor orphan girl to do? (description from

There were aspects of this book I truly loved, and parts that fell a little more flat for me. While I thought that you could really tell the author did a lot of research and Jane Austen sparkled through the text, little details I would have loved (descriptions of dress styles, for one) were missing. I really loved Jenny and Jane's relationship, the family dynamics, and the inclusion of Jane's sick (possibly epileptic) brother, George. Jenny's relationships with many of the men around her confounded me a little, though.

Her emotions seemed to jump from one extreme to another, and though many sixteen year olds do develop quick crushes, Jenny seemed to have no real emotional loyalty to the man she loves. I did find their romance sweet, if very, very quick!, and was rooting for them, but was also not fully swayed to believe that they truly felt that strongly for one another.

While I enjoyed reading this book, and I really did...the format with diary entries, snippets of Jane's writing, and little drawings was very fun to read...I did not love this book as I know others have. Perhaps I'm just not a big enough Jane Austen fan?

Sunday, August 14, 2011

In My Mailbox - August 14, 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!


Another Pan by Daniel and Dina Nayeri
The Final Alice by Alycia Ripley
*Thanks to Becca at Alice: Journey of a Fake Writer!

For Review:

The Shattering by Karen Healey

From the Library:

Darke by Angie Sage
The Bones of the Holy by Jennifer Allison

Saturday, August 13, 2011

The Gollywhopper Games

The Gollywhopper Games
by Jody Feldman

Are you ready?

Gil Goodson's future happiness depends on winning the Golly Toy & Game Company's ultimate competition. If Gil wins, his dad has promised that the family can move away from all the gossip, false friends, and bad press that have plagued them ever since The Incident. Inside the toy company's fantastic headquarters, Gil will have to master trivia, solve puzzles, and complete physical stunts—and he'll have to do it better than all of the other kids competing.

Oh, and did we mention that Gil's every step—and every mistake—will be broadcast on national television? Hold on tight, because the ride of his life is about to begin! (description from

I love riddles. I love toys. I love the fantastic. Is it any wonder, I loved The Gollywhopper Games?? Reminiscent of Dahl's Charlie and the Chocolate Factory (Feldman even states this was one of her inspirations), this book again captures the wonder that children can find in almost anything and there is nothing more exciting than going through a giant toy factory if you are under...well, let's say 75~ lol.

I loved the concept of the games that these kids got to participate in. I was trying to solve the puzzles right alongside. The only thing I thought could have been improved was that in some spots, the author presents the riddles as they are being solved, giving the reader little time to try to solve them on their own. A great example of books with riddles that you can try to solve "before" the kids is The Mysterious Benedict Society series.

I loved not only just the fantastical things in this book, but also Gil's family's storyline. Poor Gil has been ostracized because people think his father stole from the Golly Toy & Game Company. When the truth is finally revealed, I cheered! It was a good and pretty believable ending. A bad guy who was bad, but not totally... well done.

For a quick and fun read, try picking up this great middle grade puzzle book!

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Ruby Red

Ruby Red
by Kerstin Gier
Ruby Red Trilogy, book one

Gwyneth Shepherd's sophisticated, beautiful cousin Charlotte has been prepared her entire life for traveling through time. But unexpectedly, it is Gwyneth, who in the middle of class takes a sudden spin to a different era!

Gwyneth must now unearth the mystery of why her mother would lie about her birth date to ward off suspicion about her ability, brush up on her history, and work with Gideon--the time traveler from a similarly gifted family that passes the gene through its male line, and whose presence becomes, in time, less insufferable and more essential. Together, Gwyneth and Gideon journey through time to discover who, in the 18th century and in contemporary London, they can trust. (description from

I loved this book! With romance, time travel, adventure, betrayal, jealousy, secrets, and humor...this book hit all the right notes for me!

I am a huge fan of well done time travel books and this one was really intriguingly done. I love the science based bloodline of travelers. They are still not fully sure of how everything works...and there's a prophecy. Gier really put lots of little details into both the process and the periods that are visited. I love to delve into the little bits of everyday life that really show a time period...especially through clothing. I am obsessed with picking up tidbits about period dress and this book had some great details. I think what I loved most in that respect was that not only did she focus on Gwyneth's disguises, but how many details she revealed about mens' clothes in past times!!

Every time Gwyneth and Gideon giggled over each other's outfits, every snarky comment back and forth, every...well, I can't reveal it all! Anyway, I loved how believable Gwyneth and Gideon were. Gwyneth, her mother, and her aunt knew about the traveling gene in their family, knew that they did not know it all, and still Gwyneth muddled through her time travels brilliantly. When she first meets Gideon and he disdains her lack of training, but then comes to know her and they become friends, everything felt very natural. This is no starry eyed instant connection. There's even a time twist!

When betrayal, jealousy, and secrets throw them for a loop...a time loop, in fact, some big revelations are made. My only complaint about this book - it ended with such a great cliffhanger, that I want book two, Sapphire Blue, immediately!!

*Side note - I also love the cover. It's beautiful and even more lush in person!*

Full disclosure: Copy received from publisher for review

Retribution Winner!

I am pleased to announce that the winner of the Retribution giveaway (via random drawing at is...

Martha Lawson!!

Martha, check your have until Friday, August 12th to contact me with your mailing address so we can send the book out to you. Congratulations again!

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

It Gets Better

It Gets Better: Coming Out, Overcoming Bullying, and Creating a Life Worth Living
Ed. by Dan Savage and Terry Miller

Every story can change a life.

Growing up isn't easy. Many young people face daily tormenting and bullying, making them feel like they have nowhere to turn. This is especially true for LGBT kids and teens who often hide their sexuality for fear of bullying. Without other openly gay adults and mentors in their lives, they can't imagine what their future may hold. In many instances, gay and lesbian adolescents are taunted - even tortured - simply for being themselves.

After a number of tragic suicides by LGBT students who were bullied in school, syndicated columnist and author Dan Savage uploaded a video to YouTube with his partner Terry Miller to inspire hope for LGBT youth facing harassment. Speaking openly about the bullying they suffered as teenagers, and how they both went on to lead rewarding adult lives, their video launched the It Gets Better Project YouTube channel and initiated a worldwide phenomenon. With over 6,000 videos posted and over 20 million views in the first three months alone, the world has embraced the opportunity to provide personal, honest and heartfelt support for LGBT youth everywhere.

It Gets Better is a collection of expanded essays and new material from celebrities, everyday people and teens who have posted videos of encouragement, as well as new contributors who have yet to post videos to the site. While many of these teens couldn't see a positive future for themselves, we can. We can show LGBT youth the levels of happiness, potential and positivity their lives will reach if they can just get through their teen years. By sharing these stories, It Gets Better reminds teenagers in the LGBT community that they are not alone - and it WILL get better. (description from

I am truly proud to have this book in my library collection. Though I am not homosexual, many people are, and finally...finally, people are starting to openly accept this in our society. However, the changes that we've seen - celebrities opening up about their homosexuality, homosexual marriages becoming legal in some states, etc. - are still not quite trickling down to the day to day existence of most teens in the US.

In too many places, teens are ridiculing other teens' sexual preferences because of either their own insecurities or the prejudices they've been raised with. A book like this, built on the YouTube phenomenon project "It Gets Better," really will help individual teens to remember that they are not alone. There are people that they can talk to and if they can just make it through to becoming an adult, it will become better.

This book does not promote the illusion that one day *click* everything will just fall in to place and their lives will be perfect and conflict-free. What it does is shares stories of people who have made it to a better place. Maybe not the perfect place, but one where suicide is not a daily consideration...where the average person around you does not belittle you...where you can actually be who you are without worrying about the consequences.

In reality, this is not just something that LGBT teens long's so easy to get wrapped up in our own lives as teenagers. Everything feels so horrifically dramatic when you can't quite seem to figure out who you are. This is the same, no matter your sexuality. This is really why a book like this is important. Not only does it support LGBT teens, but heterosexual teens (and adults) can benefit from reading, as well. Each vignette serves as a reminder that for every time you ever felt bullied and belittled, someone else did too, for whatever reason. If this causes you to say one nice thing to one person each day, then the book did a world of good!!

Sunday, August 7, 2011


by Alyson Noel
Riley Bloom series, book two

Having solved the matter of the Radiant Boy, Riley, Buttercup, and Bodhi are enjoying a well-deserved vacation. When Riley comes across a vicious black dog, against Bodhi’s advice, she decides to cross him over. While following the dog, she runs into a young ghost named Rebecca. Despite Rebecca’s sweet appearance, Riley soon learns she’s not at all what she seems. As the daughter of a former plantation owner, she is furious about being murdered during a slave revolt in 1733. Mired in her own anger, Rebecca is lashing out by keeping the ghosts who died along with her trapped in their worst memories. Can Riley help Rebecca forgive and forget without losing herself to her own nightmarish memories? (description from

Riley's story once again just struck a total chord with me and I found myself tearing up in two really excellent scenes. Though I did really enjoy the books in the Immortals series, I don't think I ever really connected like I do with Riley's books. There is just something so emotionally pulling for me in her afterlife quest to grow more mature, both physically and emotionally.

I LOVED the connection in this book to the real life story of the slave revolts in St. John in 1733. To see the actions from both sides and how the emotional fallout stuck with everyone...that was powerful. When Riley is able to bring the souls to a state of forgiveness...WOW. I cried. I'll admit it. Alyson Noel did a great job not only dreaming up a really cool way to have souls relive horrors of their lives, but also a way to find redemption.

Noel's imagination never fails me. I love how there are layers of complexity in the Here&Now. Every scene adds something to the world. Such a good series! I can't wait for book number three, Dreamland (out in fall 2011).

Full disclosure: Received from publisher for review

In My Mailbox - August 7, 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:

How to Save a Life by Sara Zarr
Everybody Sees the Ants by A. S. King
Wintertown by Steve Emond

Bunheads by Sophie Flack
The Phantom Limb by William Sleator

*A HUGE thank you to Little, Brown Books for Young Readers for sending me a small box o' rock!!*

From the Library:

Overbite by Meg Cabot
Skin Hunger by Kathleen Duey
Rip Tide by Kat Falls

All Unquiet Things by Anna Jarzab


Love Story by Jennifer Echols
*Thank you so much to Chick Lit Teens and Simon and Schuster!!*