Tuesday, January 31, 2012

The Summer I Learned to Fly

The Summer I Learned to Fly
by Dana Reinhardt

Drew's a bit of a loner. She has a pet rat, her dead dad's Book of Lists, an encyclopedic knowledge of cheese from working at her mom's cheese shop, and a crush on Nick, the surf bum who works behind the counter. It's the summer before eighth grade and Drew's days seem like business as usual, until one night after closing time, when she meets a strange boy in the alley named Emmett Crane. Who he is, why he's there, where the cut on his cheek came from, and his bottomless knowledge of rats are all mysteries Drew will untangle as they are drawn closer together, and Drew enters into the first true friendship, and adventure, of her life. (description from
This was a cute, easy read. I thought that Drew was very easy to relate to as a main character.  Though I couldn't quite pick out when the book was set, timewise, the themes of relating to your parents, trying to grow up, having your first crushes, and wanting independence transcend across the generations. 

I loved how devoted Drew was to her pet rat, Hum, though I could not imagine carrying a pet rat around with me everywhere.  I'm amazed that she never got caught with him somewhere he shouldn't be!  I thought it was really cute how she bonded with Emmett through his knowledge of pet rats. 

I thought that Drew's reactions to Emmett were very cute and felt true to life, though when she finds out more about him, I felt that some of her impulsive actions were a little unrealistic.  It was more that this book seemed to follow the sweet emotional side of Drew's relationships and her remembrances of growing up much more realistically than making sure that the actions of the book were thoroughly possible. 

Monday, January 30, 2012

If You Like: Magical Realism

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 post includes recommendations for stories featuring magical realism.

Magical Realism is what stories are referred to as when they take place in our world but contain elements of magic or the fantastic in them.  Not truly fantasy, but close... if you like this type of story, check out our recommendations here!

Saturday, January 28, 2012

The Sequel has a Title!!

Days of Blood and Starlight
by Laini Taylor
Sequel to Daughter of Smoke and Bone

Publication date: Fall 2012

Thursday, January 26, 2012

I'll Be There

I'll Be There
by Holly Goldberg Sloan

Sam Border wishes he could escape. Raised by an unstable father, he's spent his life moving from place to place. But he could never abandon his little brother, Riddle.

Riddle Border doesn't talk much. Instead, he draws pictures of the insides of things and waits for the day when the outsides of things will make sense. He worships his older brother. But how can they leave when there's nowhere to go? Then everything changes. Because Sam meets Emily.

Emily Bell believes in destiny. She sings for her church choir, though she doesn't have a particularly good voice. Nothing, she feels, is mere coincidence. And she's singing at the moment she first sees Sam.

Everyone whose path you cross in life has the power to change you--sometimes in small ways, and sometimes in ways greater than you could have ever known.  (description from

This novel reads beautifully. It is touching and compelling.  I think that almost every reader would find something here to love. 

While Sam and Emily find each other, the romance is only a fraction of this book.  There are great examples of familial relationships and there is also the perfect example of a horribly dysfunctional family.

There is danger, there is excitement, there are secrets, betrayals, and hidden agendas.

There is beautiful music, art, and cooking. 

There are facets and hidden nooks in this book that make it wonderful and it reads very quickly.  I would highly recommend this book to anyone. 

Dead is Not an Option

Dead is Not an Option
by Marlene Perez
Dead Is series, book five 

It’s springtime of senior year, and psychic sleuth Daisy Giordano is preparing to say goodbye to Nightshade High. But no college acceptance letters have arrived yet, and she’s beginning to worry about where she’ll end up come fall—and if it will be anywhere near her boyfriend, Ryan. But that’s not the only uncertainty Daisy’s dealing with. There’s a vamps-versus-shifters war going on in Nightshade, and things are so tense that there is talk of canceling the prom. The conflict is carrying over to the Giordano home, since Rose and Daisy are both dating werewolves and Poppy’s new boyfriend is a vampire.

Can the paranormal community in Nightshade finally find peace? And will Daisy and her friends survive graduation? (description from

You know that feeling you get when you pick up a book and you have no doubts that you will love it...that you will lose yourself in it?  That feeling when you meet an old friend.  The feeling when you anticipate laughing out loud...

Yup.  For me, this series is exactly THAT.  I love these books.  I love Daisy, the main character, and her friends and family. I love the paranormal elements - psychics, werewolves, vampires, and more! I love the mysteries, danger, excitement...

Okay, okay. I'll stop gushing.  Let me just say, that I sincerely hope this is not the final book in the series. 

Full disclosure: ARC originally received from Netgalley

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Taking Teens to Brand-New Worlds with YA Science Fiction

OMG. Did I remember to mention that I will now be blogging as part of the YALSA HUB team?

Today was my first official post, titled, Taking Teens to Brand-New Worlds with YA Science Fiction.  Anyway, go check it out! I hope it sounds okay...

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Meeting YA Authors Beth Revis and Lauren DeStefano!!

This past Wednesday night, January 18th, I was lucky enough to go straight down after work to RJ Julia's independent bookstore in Madison, CT to meet YA authors, Lauren DeStefano and Beth Revis. :)

What a great opportunity! It was the chance to meet two authors who debuted HUGE books last year. (Click here for my reviews of Across the Universe and Wither)

It was super interesting to go to this particular author event, because Lauren and Beth didn't each talk about their own book and then answer questions. They let the audience ask any question they wanted and then they both answered (and sometimes argued, lol!) and bounced a lot off of each other.

We ended up talking about how science fiction is becoming a larger trend in YA, how people are interested in reading about characters that live in broken societies (like Wither or The Hunger Games) because we are afraid of what our own government might do in the future, Lauren's really cute shoes* and their matching hair feathers, writing in general, and the pressures of publishing a second book.

It was a really fun and interesting time! I felt so lucky to be able to go. Meeting authors is one of my favorite things to do whenever I get the chance. :)

*BTW-these are the adorable shoes that Lauren was sporting at the event.  Interrogation revealed that she bought them that day, at Payless!...which means I might actually be able to afford to break down and go buy a pair. <3

Thursday, January 19, 2012


by Maurice Gee
The Salt Trilogy, book one

When his father Tarl is captured and enslaved to work in Deep Salt, Hari vows to rescue him. This is a forbidding task: no one returns from Deep Salt. But Hari was born and raised in Blood Burrow. He's tough and smart—and he has a secret gift: he can communicate with animals.

The beautiful Pearl, born into the privileged world of the ruling class known as Company, has learned forbidden things from her mysteriously gifted maid Tealeaf. Now her father has promised her in marriage to the powerful and ambitious Ottmar. But Pearl will never submit to a subordinate life, so she and Tealeaf must flee.

When their paths cross, Hari and Pearl realize that together they must discover the secrets of Deep Salt. Their long journey through the badlands becomes far more than a quest to save Tarl—their world is on the brink of unspeakable terror. (description from

I wanted so much to like this book.  When I had read the description, I had thought it was a stellar premise.  When I finally got a chance to read it, though, I just could not connect.  The first few chapters were great.  The idea that the characters could talk to one another and animals with their minds was fascinating. The idea of the corrupt government and Pearl's escape from a loveless marriage sounded intriguing...

Somewhere close to halfway through the book, though, I lost all interest.  The characters were good, but I didn't find enough explanation in the world building.  I had no idea where the Company came from or why they were taking over.  I didn't understand what the radioactive "salt" really was... I just kept coming up with more and more, "Huh?" moments and I was frustrated enough that I almost put the book down several times. 

I really wish that this book had given more extensive historical context to its dystopian setting. As Gee is from New Zealand, I have a feeling that native readers in that part of the world would draw a deeper context, but for me, it was just vague in a lot of ways.  I didn't really feel, either, as if there was enough resolution in this book, and I know it's the first in a trilogy, but I don't want to have to say, oh that must be addressed in book two...

Overall, I was sadly disappointed.
*2012 TBR Pile Reading Challenge title*

Monday, January 16, 2012

If You Like:Stories about Roommates

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 post includes recommendations for stories about roommates.

I got to recommend some of my favorite book and TV series this week! Go check it out. :)

Saturday, January 14, 2012


Steampunk! An Anthology of Fantastically Rich and Strange Stories
ed. by Kelly Link and Gavin J. Grant

Imagine an altrnate universe where romance and technology reign. Where tinkerers and dreamers craft and re-craft a world of automatons, clockworks, calculating machines, and other marvels that never were. Where scientists and schoolgirls, fair folk and Romans, intergalactic bandits, utopian revolutionaries, and intrepid orphans solve crimes, escape from monstrous predicaments, consult oracles, and hover over volcanoes in steam-powered airships. Here, fourteen masters of speculative fiction, including two graphic storytellers, embrace the genre's established themes and refashion them in surprising ways and settings as diverse as Appalachia, Ancient Rome, future Australia, and alternate California. Visionaries Kelly Link and Gavin J. Grant have invited all-new explorations and expansions, taking a genre already rich, strange, and inventive in the extreme and challenging contributors to remake it from the ground up. The result is an anthology that defies the genre even as it defines it. (description from

I adore steampunk.  It's old, it's new, it's mechanical and magical, full of adventure and romance.  It is a brilliant sub-genre. 

That being said, I loved the concept of this anthology. It's like...steampunk twisted.  These are tales that all have strong steampunk elements, yet push beyond what we think of as steampunk to become even more.  Not a one is set in Victorian London, either! 

My favorites from this anthology were Libba Bray's story about girl thieves who use a device to stop time so that they can rob trains, Kelly Link's tale of a girl who is bound to serve fairies and is only somewhat mollified by their mechanized trinket gifts, and Dylan Horrock's story about a girl from another world, trying to find herself in a flatter version of her own life. Each of these tales literally *sparkled* at me from off of the pages.  *grins* The other tales were really well done, as well. 

Reading this book felt like traveling the world in a dirigible with dashing young lads and lasses hanging off of the anchor ropes... *whoops, just had a Scott Westerfeld moment there, lol.* Anyway, though I didn't read it all in one go, each tale was enthralling in it's own way. 

I should also mention that two of the tales are in graphic novel format.  These were short and fun to read.  In fact, my only complaint about the well done audio book was that it neglects to include these two tales...even just by reading the text.

Full disclosure: Audio book received to review for AudioFile Magazine.

Book Trailer - Freshman Year and Other Unnatural Disasters by Meredith Zeitlin

Freshman Year and Other Unnatural Disasters
by Meredith Zeitlin

Publication date: March 1, 2012

Let's say you're fourteen and live in New York City. You'd think your life would be like a glamorous TV show, right? And yet . . . You don't have a checking account, much less a personal Black American Express card. You've never been to a club, and the only couture in your closet is a Halloween costume your mom made from an old laundry bag.

In other words? You're Kelsey Finkelstein - fourteen and frustrated. Every time she tries to live up to her awesome potential, her plans are foiled. Kelsey wants to rebrand herself for high school to make the kind of mark she knows is her destiny. But just because Kelsey has a plan for greatness . . . it doesn't mean the rest of the world is in on it.

Doesn't this look hilarious and cute? I can't wait to pick this one up...

Book Trailer - Tempest by Julie Cross

The Tempest
by Julie Cross

Publication date: Jan 17, 2012
The year is 2009. Nineteen-year-old Jackson Meyer is a normal guy… he’s in college, has a girlfriend… and he can travel back through time. But it’s not like the movies – nothing changes in the present after his jumps– it’s just harmless fun.
That is… until the day strangers burst in on Jackson and his girlfriend, Holly, and during a struggle with Jackson, Holly is fatally shot. In his panic, Jackson jumps back two years to 2007, but this is not like his previous time jumps. Now he’s stuck in 2007 and can’t get back to the future. Desperate to somehow return to 2009 to save Holly but unable to return to his rightful year, Jackson settles into 2007 and learns what he can about his abilities.
But it’s not long before the people who shot Holly in 2009 come looking for Jackson in the past, and these “Enemies of Time” will stop at nothing to recruit this powerful young time-traveler. Recruit… or kill him.

Ooooh! I love a good time travel adventure.  Doesn't this sound good?

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Check out the book trailer for Harbinger!!

OMG. It's not too often that I see a book trailer and actually confuse it for a movie trailer, but wow...they did an awesome job on this one. Harbinger by Sara Wilson Etienne, coming out on Feb. 2nd, was already on my TBR list, but this is definitely bumping it up a couple of notches...
Check it out!

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

First Kill

First Kill
by Heather Brewer
The Slayers Chronicles, book one

Joss McMillan’s perfect life crashes down the night he witnesses his sister’s murder — at the hands of a vampire. He then finds out his family’s secret heritage: They are part of the Slayer Society, a group whose mission is to rid the world of vampires. Joss is their new recruit. As Joss trains, bent on seeking revenge for his sister, he discovers powers that could make him the youngest, strongest Slayer in history. But there is a traitor in the Society, one whose identity would shake Joss to the core . . . if the traitor doesn’t kill him first. (description from

I have to admit that I have not yet read The Chronicles of Vladimir Tod series. I have always wanted to check out Heather Brewer's writing style, though, since the Vlad Tod books are so popular now, and getting this book for review gave me the perfect opportunity.

I very much enjoyed the story about Joss becoming a vampire slayer.  I found the Slayer Society and their rules to be fascinating, and I hope to find out more about the larger Slayer population in book two.  Knowing that Joss' uncle, Abraham, was being so tough on him because he was hesitant to have Joss become a Slayer, made things a little easier to read when the training became brutal. 

I felt was somewhat jarring was Joss' tone, at times.  For a thirteen year old, he had some very sophisticated inner monologues.  His contemplations felt overly mature at times, but then again, he was supposed to be an avid reader and kind of nerdy, so I suppose that fit... For me, he waivered between 13 and 20 in tone, but that may not at all bother other readers.  I wonder if Vladimir Tod is the same?

I will be very curious to see if as this series continues it intersects with The Chronicles of Vladimir Tod.

Full disclosure: Audio book received to review for SLJ

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Anna Dressed in Blood

Anna Dressed in Blood
by Kendare Blake
Cas Lowood has inherited an unusual vocation: He kills the dead.

So did his father before him, until he was gruesomely murdered by a ghost he sought to kill. Now, armed with his father's mysterious and deadly athame, Cas travels the country with his kitchen-witch mother and their spirit-sniffing cat. Together they follow legends and local lore, trying to keep up with the murderous dead—keeping pesky things like the future and friends at bay.

When they arrive in a new town in search of a ghost the locals call Anna Dressed in Blood, Cas doesn't expect anything outside of the ordinary: track, hunt, kill. What he finds instead is a girl entangled in curses and rage, a ghost like he's never faced before. She still wears the dress she wore on the day of her brutal murder in 1958: once white, now stained red and dripping with blood. Since her death, Anna has killed any and every person who has dared to step into the deserted Victorian she used to call home.

But she, for whatever reason, spares Cas's life. (description from

Suprisingly enough, though horror is not usually my thing, I really enjoyed this book. I'm a huge fan of the TV show, Supernatural, and this book really reminded me of that... creepy, cool ghost hunter vibe.

I loved the way that Cas and his mom and he would travel round, working together, taking care of the supernatural. I thought the athame, inherited from his dad was a really cool relic.  The way it ties in later is pretty creepy, too.  It was really interesting to then see how Anna differed from the ghosts that Cas usually dealt with...Cas is normally one cool cucumber, but he's met his match in Anna.

I will warn you that this book has some graphically gory scenes.  There were spots that I read kind of quickly for fear of lingering and leaving images lodged in my brain that might induce nightmares...but it was really well written and compelling.  I had to know what happened to Cas and Anna. 

I am super excited to read book two, Girl of Nightmares, as soon as it comes out!
Full disclosure: Finished copy received from Tor Teen for review
*2012 TBR Pile Reading Challenge title*

Cover Revealed! The Kane Chronicles #3

The Serpent's Shadow
by Rick Riordan
The Kane Chronicles, book three

Publication date: May 1, 2012

Rick Riordan announced the cover and title of the final book in The Kane Chronicles yesterday!
The tagline: Carter and Sadie Kane: humanity's last hope! I'm definitely excited to see how it all ends!

Monday, January 9, 2012

2012 TBR Pile Reading Challenge

I don't know about you guys, but my TBR pile of books at home...the ones I buy or receive as gifts, but then never seem to find the time to read... has gotten completely out of hand! Thus, I have decided to join the 2012 TBR PILE READING CHALLENGE!!!

Challenge guidelines:

1. This challenge will run from Jan 1, 2012 - Dec 31, 2012.
2. As we would like to see quality reviews linked up to our monthly wrap-ups, only bloggers can enter. Sorry about that!
3. Any genre, length or format of book counts, as long as it is a book that's been sitting on your shelf for some time now. Only books released in 2011 and earlier! NO ARCs and 2012 fresh-off-the-press releases allowed!
4. You can list your books in advance or just put them in a wrap-up post. If you list them, feel free to change them as the mood takes you.
5. When you sign up in the linky, put the direct link to your post about joining the 2012 TBR PILE Reading Challenge (You need to include the info + host list + challenge button. You can also grab the button code and add it to your sidebar!)
6. You can move up levels, but no moving down.
7. Sign-ups will be open until Dec 15, 2012, so feel free to join at any time throughout the year.
8. At the end of each month one of the hosts will post a wrap-up. Every wrap-up will have it's unique theme, a mini-challenge, a giveaway and place for you to link up your reviews from this month. For each review you link up, you will get one entry in a drawing of one book of choice from Book Depository. It's open to INTERNATIONALS. For participating in the mini-challenge you will get +1 entry.
9. If you miss a wrap-up post + giveaway, you can link up your reviews next month. Do not, however, try to link up one review twice - we will be checking ;)
10. December is a wrap-up for the whole year. All the book reviews you linked up January-November + the ones you'll link up in December will be entered into a HUGE giveaway - 12 books, 12 winners, INTERNATIONAL.
11. You don't have to follow all the hosts to join the challenge, but you do have to follow all of us to be entered in giveaways!

Wrap-up POST Schedule:

January - Donna (Theme: Let It Snow + Book Cover Challenge)
February - Nicole (Theme: Un-requited Love/Love Gone Wrong + Advice Column Challenge)
March - Rie (Theme: Green or Pinched + Green Cover Challenge)
April - Bonnie (Theme: Easter + Mini Challenge)
May - Christa (Theme: MayDay - Disaster Books! + Cover Disaster Challenge)
June - Jenna ( Theme: Camping + Sentence Challenge)
July - Rie (Theme: International Day + Cover Comparison Challenge)
August - Angel (Theme: Summer Memories + Send Your Fav Character On Vacation Challenge)
September - Nicole (Theme: Life Changing Books + Mini Challenge)
October - Caitlin (Theme: Thanksgiving Theme + Share-A-Book Challenge)
November - Vicky (Theme: Spooky Halloween + Book Puzzle Challenge)
December - Evie (Theme: Xmas Bliss + Book Bachelor Challenge)

I am going to commit to the level of A FRIENDLY HUG, which is 11-20 books.

Cover Craving...

Sweet Shadows
by Tera Lynn Childs
Medusa Girls, book 2

Publication date: 2012

Isn't this cover intense? I love how her hair is slithering around her neck, too....

Friday, January 6, 2012

The Pledge

The Pledge
by Kimberly Derting

In the violent country of Ludania, the language you speak determines what class you are, and there are harsh punishments if you forget your place—looking a member of a higher class in the eye can result in immediate execution. Seventeen-year-old Charlaina (Charlie for short) can understand all languages, a dangerous ability she’s been hiding her whole life. Her only place of release is the drug-filled underground club scene, where people go to shake off the oppressive rules of the world they live in. There, she meets a beautiful and mysterious boy who speaks a language she’s never heard, and her secret is almost exposed. Through a series of violent upheavals, it becomes clear that Charlie herself is the key to forcing out the oppressive power structure of her kingdom… (description from

I devoured this book.

I loved the concept of having a social structure based around the understanding of language. It was a really novel concept for a dystopian society. I loved, too, that you slowly discovered the available magic in their society... so intriguing for future books in the series!

I found Charlie to be a great main character. She was defiantly strong in her own ways, even as she was ignorant of what may be her capabilities. I loved, loved, loved her relationship with her younger sister and I really look forward to reading more about them both.

I was also thoroughly pleased that many of the other characters in the story were fleshed out. There were many facets to all of the people surrounding Charlie. Things just kept getting more and more interesting.

This book deserves my first GOLD STAR of 2012!

Will someone please find out for me when The Pledge #2 is coming out?????

A Monster Calls

A Monster Calls
by Patrick Ness
(based on idea originally by Siobhan Dowd)

At seven minutes past midnight, thirteen-year-old Conor wakes to find a monster outside his bedroom window. But it isn't the monster Conor's been expecting-- he's been expecting the one from his nightmare, the nightmare he's had nearly every night since his mother started her treatments. The monster in his backyard is different. It's ancient. And wild. And it wants something from Conor. Something terrible and dangerous. It wants the truth. (description from

I really loved this book. Not only was the story great... it's a boy dealing with his grief in an unusual way... but the illustrations were a *perfect* match for the author's tale. This book was dark and haunting, sad and thrilling, dangerous and loving. It was exceeding well done and the fact that it is based from an idea that the late Siobhan Dowd came up with just adds another layer of special to the book.

Well worth checking out! *And have a box of tissues nearby...just in case*

Wednesday, January 4, 2012


by Helen Frost

When Wren Abbott and Darra Monson are eight years old, Darra's father steals a minivan. He doesn't know that Wren is hiding in the back. The hours and days that follow change the lives of both girls. Darra is left with a question that only Wren can answer. Wren has questions, too.

Years later, in a chance encounter at camp, the girls face each other for the first time. They can finally learn the truth—that is, if they’re willing to reveal to each other the stories that they’ve hidden for so long. (description from

This book was interesting. It's told in poetry format, in alternating "chapters" between the two girls perspectives. I found it pretty easy to read and I also thought that the poems gave the author the opportunity to make the reader feel as if they were seeing into each girl's innermost thoughts.

I thought the plot was interesting. I loved the idea of the accidental kidnapping and subsequent escape. I liked thinking about how the two girls would interact years later. I thought the author could have done a little bit of a better job with the girls interactions at camp, though. Some of their interactions felt a little forced and the ending felt somewhat rushed. I would have enjoyed if the book had been a little longer and more fleshed out...

To be honest, I felt a little silly when I read the author's note and realized that I had totally missed a facet of the poems in the book. Then I realized I'm not sure that anyone would have thought to read just the last word in each long line of one girl's poems to make an additional statement... it was only something that the author and someone who read the note first would have picked up on. Interesting when you went back, though.

Shatter Me

Shatter Me
by Tahereh Mafi

"You can't touch me," I whisper.
I'm lying, is what I don't tell him.
He can touch me, is what I'll never tell him.
But things happen when people touch me.
Strange things.
Bad things.

No one knows why Juliette's touch is fatal, but The Reestablishment has plans for her. Plans to use her as a weapon.

But Juliette has plans of her own.

After a lifetime without freedom, she's finally discovering a strength to fight back for the very first time—and to find a future with the one boy she thought she'd lost forever. (description from

I had some very strong, yet hugely varied reactions to this book.

I thought that Juliette was a very interesting character. I liked her ability and the moral dilemma that stemmed from having the government want to use her as an assassin.

I liked the way that the book finished...can't really tell you without getting spoilery, though I will say that it sets things up for an X-Men style series. Fun!

I thought that Juliette's captor, her direct adversary in this novel, was really intriguing. I want to learn more about his background.

While I enjoyed reading the romantic element of this book, and could understand Juliette's reactions, in some ways it was highly unbelievable. Would she really have this connection to a boy she hasn't seen since her childhood?

My biggest problem, oddly enough, was the writing style. I almost put the book down after the first few chapters because I had such a visceral reaction to the way it was written. Though I appreciated the concept that it was written like a stream of consciousness, it really grated on my nerves. I'm glad I stuck with it though, because the second half of the book felt a lot better to read and I thought the story was worth it.

My overall thoughts: While it's not my favorite book ever, I think that it was a fun read and that I will pick up the second book for sure.

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Last Breath

Last Breath
by Rachel Caine
Morganville Vampires, book eleven

With her boss preoccupied researching the Founder Houses in Morganville, student Claire Danvers is left to her own devices when she learns that three vampires have vanished without a trace. She soon discovers that the last person seen with one of the missing vampires is someone new to town-a mysterious individual named Magnus. After an uneasy encounter with Morganville's latest resident, Claire is certain Magnus isn't merely human. But is he a vampire-or something else entirely? (description from

I never, ever fail to rip through the books in this series. Caine just keeps the suspense, danger, and romance coming... <3

This particular addition to the series ripped my heart right out in one spot, and thankfully sewed it back together just pages later. *sigh* It is unbelievable what Caine can do to her characters!

I loved the addition of new mythology in this book. I don't want to ruin the surprise, but let's just say that vampires are no longer the only thing that the humans have to worry about in Morganville...

I cannot wait for Black Dawn, which will be coming out in May!

The Watch That Ends The Night: Voices from the Titanic

The Watch That Ends the Night:Voices From the Titanic
by Allan Wolf

Arrogance and innocence, hubris and hope--twenty-four haunting voices of the Titanic tragedy, as well as the iceberg itself, are evoked in a stunning tour de force.Millionaire John Jacob Astor hopes to bring home his pregnant teen bride with a minimum of media scandal. A beautiful Lebanese refugee, on her way to family in Florida, discovers the first stirrings of love. And an ancient iceberg glides south, anticipating its fateful encounter. The voices in this remarkable re-creation of the Titanic disaster span classes and stations, from Margaret ("the unsinkable Molly") Brown to the captain who went down with his ship; from the lookout and wireless men to a young boy in search of dragons and a gambler in search of marks. Slipping in telegraphs, undertaker's reports, and other records, poet Allan Wolf offers a breathtaking, intimate glimpse at the lives behind the tragedy, told with clear-eyed compassion and astounding emotional power. (description from

This is a haunting and beautiful piece of historical fiction. The way that Wolf pieced together historical information about the Titanic is A.M.A.Z.I.N.G. The inclusion of actual telegraphs, testimonies from survivors, and reports from the coroners make it all so very hauntingly real. Wolf made it feel seamless when he'd transition from the real historical information to the fiction that he created.

The poetry format also worked really well. Especially for voices like the iceberg. It felt ancient and unfeeling. Chilling. I also want to add that the audio version of this book is phenomenal. The actors that alternate the parts do fantastic accents and ply each part with just the perfect amounts of emotion. SOOOO good.

Even if you're not a huge non-fiction type reader (like me, I usually avoid anything like non-fiction at all costs!), this historical fiction will suck you right in and you will find yourself internalizing tons of facts that you never knew about the Titanic.

Full disclosure: Audio book received to review for SLJ

Monday, January 2, 2012

Living Hell

Living Hell
by Catherine Jinks

Seventeen-year-old Cheney and his fellow passengers have known life only aboard Plexus: self-contained, systematic, and serene. When a mysterious radiation wave causes Plexus to turn on them, Cheney and his friends must fight back before the ship that’s nurtured them for so long becomes responsible for their destruction. (description from

Though this book started off just a little slow in the beginning (there was a lot of vocabulary to try to internalize), it picked way, way up in the middle and was totally worth the read!

This was an awesomely conceptualized science fiction premise where the ship is hit by an energy field in space and turned into a living organism. The humans inside suddenly find themselves treated like bacteria in the "bowels" of the ship. If they act benign, they will be left alone...unfortunately, before they can figure that out, many of the ship's occupants are considered hostile and are eliminated.

This was a creepy cool (slightly gorey in some spots) space adventure. It really gave you that feeling that humans are miniscule out in the vastness of space. It was super interesting, too, to consider how you would survive if you were trapped inside a giant living space ship.

Highly recommended to science fiction fans.

Full disclosure: Review copy received from NetGalley

Laddertop: Volume 1

Laddertop: Volume 1
by Orson Scott Card, Emily Janice Card, and Zina Card
illustrated by Honoel A. Ibardolaza

Twenty-five years ago, the alien Givers came to Earth. They gave the human race the greatest technology ever seen— four giant towers known as Ladders that rise 36,000 miles into space and culminate in space stations that power the entire planet. Then, for reasons unknown, the Givers disappeared. Due to the unique alien construction of the Laddertop space stations, only a skilled crew of children can perform the maintenance necessary to keep the stations up and running.

Back on Earth, competition is fierce to enter Laddertop Academy. It is an honor few students will achieve. Robbi and Azure, two eleven-year-old girls who are the best of friends, are candidates for the Academy. They will become entangled in a dangerous mystery that may help them solve the riddle of the Givers...if it doesn’t destroy the Earth first! (description from

As you may or may not know, I'm not a huge manga/graphic novel reader. I've really been trying to broaden my horizons though, because I feel it's an important aspect of my job, and when I heard that Orson Scott Card had created a manga series I knew I needed to check it out.

Orson Scott Card, and his daughters who collaborated with him on this project, did another great job creating a riveting science fiction story with great children characters. I love the idea that aliens would have left technology for us that we could not quite understand. I love the idea of brave kids going up into space. I loved that in this volume, we got to see the training and selection process, but I really, really can't wait to see them get their "monkeys" and begin their actual work on the ladders.

I loved that the illustrator created characters that were easy to identify. They each had their own unique style. I only got confused once about whether a character was a girl or a boy. I also found the action/panels to be really easy to follow in this series. I think that even non-pro manga readers would have an easy time with this one.

As a science fiction fan, I think I've found a new, exciting manga series to follow!!

Full disclosure: Review copy received from Tor

If You Like: Stories about Amnesia

"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.

Ever wondered what you would do if your whole past was a blank? Would you recreate yourself or would you try to fit what you could learn about yourself from others? I love thinking about all of the possibilities. If you do, too, check out these great amnesia recommendations.

Sunday, January 1, 2012

2011 Debut Author Challenge Wrap Up Post

All right, the annual Debut Author Challenge is to read 12 books by debut YA authors that year. I'm pretty sure that I decently surpassed 12, but let's find out.

2011 Debut Author Challenge titles:
Across the Universe by Beth Revis
Clarity by Kim Harrington
Angelfire by Courtney Allison Moulton
The Liar Society by Lisa and Laura Roecker
Unearthly by Cynthia Hand
Wake Unto Me by Lisa Cach
Wither by Lauren DeStefano
Luminous by Dawn Metcalf
The Girl in the Steel Corset by Kady Cross
Hereafter by Tara Hudson
Bad Taste in Boys by Carrie Harris
Enclave by Ann Aguirre
The Water Wars by Cameron Stratcher
Darkness Becomes Her by Kelly Keaton
Hourglass by Myra McEntire
The Iron Witch by Karen Mahoney
Memento Nora by Angie Smibert
Kat, Incorrigible by Stephanie Burgis
The Goddess Test by Aimee Carter
Divergent by Veronica Roth
A Beautiful Dark by Jocelyn Davies
The Eleventh Plague by Jeff Hirsch
Ruby Red by Kerstin Gier
Legend by Marie Lu
Die for Me by Amy Plum
Tempest Rising by Tracy Deebs
The Girl of Fire and Thorns by Rae Carson
Fury by Elizabeth Miles
The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer by Michelle Hodkin

I was right! 29 titles this year. Nice! There were a lot of really great debuts this fact, I still have a few on my bookshelf that I just didn't have time to read. I'll get to them this year, but they won't count for the DAC anymore...oh well. Onto the 2012 Debuts!!

2011 Shifter Challenge Wrap Up Post

This year I signed up to participate in the 2011 Shifter Reading Challenge by reading 20 books featuring a shifter as a main character. Let's see if I was up to the challenge...

2011 Shifter Challenge Titles:
Blameless by Gail Carriger
The Curse of the Wendigo by Rick Yancey
Angelfire by Courtney Allison Moulton
Shadowfever by Karen Marie Moning
Unearthly by Cynthia Hand
The Inside Story by Michael Buckley
Sweetly by Jackson Pearce
A Tale Dark and Grimm by Adam Gidwitz
Black Wings by Christina Henry
City of Fallen Angels by Cassandra Clare
Luminous by Dawn Metcalf
Hard Bitten by Chloe Neill
Demonglass by Rachel Hawkins
The Abused Werewolf Rescue Group by Catherine Jinks
Fins are Forever by Tera Lynn Childs
Hit List by Laurell K. Hamilton
A Beautiful Dark by Jocelyn Davies
Black Night by Christina Henry
Once in a Full Moon by Ellen Schreiber
The Last Werewolf by Glen Duncan
The Ghoul Next Door by Lisi Harrison
Blessed by Cynthia Leitich Smith
Tempest Rising by Tracy Deebs
Invincible by Sherrilyn Kenyon
Where There's a Wolf, There's a Way by Lisi Harrison
Fateful by Claudia Gray
Vanish by Sophie Jordan
Drink Deep by Chloe Neill

28 titles, Nice! This includes not only werewolf shifters, but angels, mermaids, and any other type of main character that shifted from one form to another...

Final Tally in 2011

It's official. In the year 2011, I read 247 books. Whew!

Since I came very close this past year, I've decided to aim to read 250 books in 2012. We'll see how it goes...