Friday, August 31, 2012

Gold Star Interview - Kimberly Derting!

Hello All!

As you all know, when I LURVE a book, I give it a Gold Star Review here. Well, to liven up the blog a little, I'm going to (try to) interview the author of each book that receives a coveted Gold Star! I hope you'll enjoy these quick, little interviews. :D

Today's guest is the fabulous Kimberly Derting! I'm so excited. I have really enjoyed Kimberly's Body Finder mystery series, but she officially won my heart with The Pledge. It won my first gold star review of 2012, which you can go back and read here.

Welcome, Kimberly! Thank you so much for stopping by to chat with me. I have just a couple of quick questions for you:

1. How long did it take you, from first spark of idea to final proofs, to write The Pledge?

The Pledge was probably the longest—in terms of time—that it’s ever taken me to put a book together. It took me a while to get the idea just right, since it came to me in pieces instead of all at once, like The Body Finder did. The first piece was a simple question: “What would it be like if someone could understand all languages?” But I definitely wanted the story itself to be bigger than just that component. I spent a lot of time thinking about how Charlie’s ability would work, what kind of world she would live in, and creating the monarchies and her friends and family, before I’d ever written a single word. 

The first draft was fast, only a couple of months, but there were several rewrites before it actually made it to the final version. In all, it probably took almost two years to complete!

I actually talk about coming up with the idea for THE PLEDGE here:

2. If you could write a book under a pseudonym that no one would ever connect to you, are there any genres you would love to secretly explore?

I think I’d like to try my hand at historical romance. Believe it or not, I used to (and still sometimes do!) devour historical romances. They’re my not-so-guilty pleasure. I’m not even sure I’d bother with a pen name!   *That's one of my go-to reading guilty pleasures, too!*

3. I LOVED that The Pledge was completely centered around language. It became so powerful, almost a weapon, and definitely a status symbol. Can you tell us how you came up with that concept?

Maybe it’s the writer in me, but I’m fascinated by language on so many levels. Not just how it can be used as a weapon—or a divisor—as in The Pledge, but also how it can be used as a tool to bring people together. And people will often use language to judge others and/or make assumptions based on their grammar, idioms, or dialect. Often times, language is the foundation for the first impression we make about someone else, whether intentionally or not.

4. If you could cross one thing off your bucket list tomorrow, what would it be?

I would love to become fluent in a foreign language! I took two years of Spanish in high school, but all I can remember now is how to order a drink, say hello and goodbye, and ask someone what time it is. How cool could it be to actually carry a full conversation?   *Learning Spanish and basic Sign Language skills are on my bucket list, for sure!*

5. Quick picks list:
Favorite vacation destination?
Used to be Maui, but I think it might be Paris now. If there was a Paris with Maui weather, I’d be in heaven!  

Favorite childhood book? Charlotte’s Web

Favorite writing snack food? Lately: Pretzel M&Ms.

Favorite clothing item? I’m always cold, so anything that keeps me warm...sweaters, scarves, boots, fuzzy socks...   *Me too! I LURVE my sweaters!!*

Thank you so much, Kimberly, for letting me interview you. It was a pleasure!

For more information about Kimberly and her books, check out her website at

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Cover Craving... The Goddess Inheritance!

The Goddess Inheritance
by Aimee Carter
The Goddess Test, book three
Publication date: Feb. 23, 2013
I think these covers are always beautiful. I like the model a lot...and I really like the upside down pose on this one. It really caught my eye.  


by Amy Kathleen Ryan
Sky Chasers, book two
After a desperate escape from the enemy ship, Waverly has finally made it back to the Empyrean. The memory of home has been keeping her alive for the past months… but home is nothing like she left it. Forced to leave their captive parents behind on the New Horizon, she’s returned only to find that Kieran has become a strict leader and turned the crew against Seth. What happened to the Kieran she thought she knew? Now Waverly’s not sure whom she can trust. And the one person she wants to believe in is darkly brilliant Seth, the ship’s supposed enemy. Waverly knows that the situation will only get worse until they can rescue their parents – but how?

Before they have time to make a plan, an explosion rocks the Empyrean, and Seth and Waverly are targeted as the prime suspects. Can they find the true culprit before Kieran locks them away… or worse? Will Waverly follow her heart, even if it puts lives at risk? Now more than ever, every step could bring them closer to a new beginning – or a sudden end. (description from
After my sparkling gold star review of Glow, I was beyond excited to listen to Spark. Unfortunately, for me, the magic was just not quite there in this sequel.  
Ryan added a point of view by having chapters told from Seth's perspective. Though I absolutely saw the need for this in terms of moving the storyline forward, it was somewhat jarring to have happen at the very beginning of the book and it threw the "flow" off for me.  It also vastly complicated the emotional tenor of the book and thus slowed the building of the story.
Though there was action and suspense in this book, it was much slower in the beginning... I was not immediately grabbed like I had been in the first book.  By the time I was nearing the ending, it had started to get the magic back, and I will definitely be reading book three to see how things end, but I'm hoping that the author will capture the magic again!
Full disclosure: Audio book received to review for SLJ and AudioFile magazine. Ebook purchased for my Nook. 

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Book Trailer - The Secret World of Alaina Downs

Check out the great new trailer for Rebecca Rynecki's book, The Secret World of Alaina Downs:

Isn't it great?  I think it really captures the feel of the book...romance, adventure, reluctant heroine... :D

Anxiously Awaiting... Spies and Prejudice

Spies and Prejudice
by Talia Vance
Publication date: Sometime in 2013
Fields’ Rule #1: Don’t fall for the enemy. Berry Fields is not looking for a boyfriend. She’s busy trailing cheaters and liars in her job as a private investigator, collecting evidence of the affairs she’s sure all men commit. And thanks to a pepper spray incident during an eighth grade game of spin the bottle, the guys at her school are not exactly lining up to date her, either. So when arrogant—and gorgeous—Tanner Halston rolls into town and calls her “nothing amazing,” it’s no loss for Berry. She’ll forget him in no time. She’s more concerned with the questions surfacing about her mother’s death. But why does Tanner seem to pop up everywhere in her investigation, always getting in her way? Is he trying to stop her from discovering the truth, or protecting her from an unknown threat? And why can’t Berry remember to hate him when he looks into her eyes? With a playful nod to Jane Austen, Spies and Prejudice will captivate readers as love and espionage collide.

This sounds so cute...and kind of reminiscent of Veronica Mars, which I miss soooooo badly... I can't wait to read it next year. :)

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

The End of Infinity

The End of Infinity
by Matt Myklusch
Jack Blank Adventures, book three
Ever since Jack Blank learned that he came from the amazing country of the Imagine Nation, he’s known that his fate could go down two very different paths—he could either be the greatest hero the world has ever known, or its greatest villain.   Now the final battle is here, and it’s time for Jack to discover the direction of his destiny. (description from

*This is the final book in the Jack Blank trilogy, so beware of spoilers!*

I have really enjoyed this series and I am actually sad that it has come to a close.  I'm sort of hoping that Matt Myklusch will dive into this world again to tell the stories of some of its other characters... we'll have to wait and see. 

What made this series so great?  It is a fabulous blend of realistic fiction and comic-book style heroes and villans.  There are elements of science fiction, full-on fantasy, and there is no end to the action-packed adventures! Jack is a great character because he has a destiny that he must decide whether to embrace as inevitable, or to try to shape along the way... though he has no idea who he truly is, he has a fantastic moral compass that leads him... he has a strong sense of loyalty and friendship that he will not let fall the way side.  He is a hero that I can truly get behind... oh, and did I mention that he can mentally manipulate machines?  Awesome. 

Not only does Jack fight his way into embracing and then changing his destiny, but he learns the truth about himself (finally!!) and decides exactly what type of hero he wants to be for the rest of his life.  I loved how Jack's friends stood by him, even when they had their niggling doubts, and how Jack refused to lose any of them in the biggest, most important battle he'd ever seen.  Reading this book was like watching an epic superhero movie, in the best possible way.  As I said before, I look forward to hearing more from this author and hopefully in this same world!!

Full disclosure: Signed copy received from author for honest review

Monday, August 27, 2012

New School Year... New...Secrets, New...Scandals, New...Friends?

Since it's back to school season, we created a new display in the Teen Space at our Library full of YA books that have a new school year theme, but with some kind of twist.  Scandals, murders, secrets, and friends... or sometimes frenemies! Thus, "New School Year... New...Secrets, New...Scandals, New...Friends?" was born...

Some of the books that I chose were:

Anna and the French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins
A fabulous romance!
Anna was 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. So she's less than thrilled about being shipped off to boarding school in Paris-until she meets Etienne St. Clair. Smart, charming, beautiful, Etienne has it all . . . including a serious girlfriend.

Harbinger by Sara Wilson Etienne

Totally absorbing!
When sixteen-year-old Faye arrives at Holbrook Academy, she doesn't expect to find herself exactly where she needs to be. After years of strange waking visions and nightmares, her only comfort the bones of dead animals, Faye is afraid she's going crazy. Fast.

The Carrie Diaries by Candace Bushnell
Before there was ever Sex and the City...
The Carrie Diaries opens up in Carrie's senior year of high school. She and her best friends -- Walt, Lali, Maggie, and the Mouse -- are inseparable, and then Sebastian Kydd comes into the picture. Carrie falls into the relationship that she was always supposed to have in high school-until a friend's betrayal makes her question everything. 

Private by Kate Brian
A true High School "soap opera!"
Fifteen-year-old Reed Brennan wins a scholarship to Easton Academy—the golden ticket away from her pill-popping mother and run-of-the-mill suburban life. But when she arrives on the beautiful, tradition-steeped campus of Easton, everyone is just a bit more sophisticated, a bit more gorgeous, and a lot wealthier than she ever thought possible. She quickly discovers that inside their secret parties and mountains of attitude, hanging in their designer clothing-packed closets the Billings Girls have skeletons. And they’ll do anything to keep their secrets private.

Other titles include:
Blue Bloods by Melissa De La Cruz
Deadline by Chris Crutcher
Hex Hall by Rachel Hawkins
Monster High by Lisi Harrison
My Name is Not Easy by Debby Dahl Edwardson
Something to Hold by Katherine Schlick Noe
Dead is a Battlefield by Marlene Perez
Freshman Year and Other Unnatural Disasters by Meredith Zeitlin

If you have to go back to school, the least you can do is go back to school with a twist, right?

Monday, August 20, 2012

Something to Hold

Something to Hold
by Katherine Schlick Noe

Can a white girl feel at home on an Indian reservation?

Based on the author’s childhood experience in the early 1960s, this debut novel centers on Kitty, whose father is a government forester at Warm Springs Reservation, Oregon. Kitty is one of only two white kids in her class, and the Indian kids are keeping their distance. With time, Kitty becomes increasingly aware of the tensions and prejudices between Indians and whites, and of the past injustice and pain still very much alive on the reservation. Time also brings friendships and opportunities to make a difference.  (description from

I enjoyed this book more than I thought I would. It wasn't my favorite book, but after seeing the cover and the description, I had pretty much expected to have to push myself to finish this one. As I read, though, I found myself easily drawn in and fascinated by Kitty's experience and viewpoint on the reservation. It was very interesting to see how the Native Americans were treated and to see how at first they didn't trust her and shunned her, but really it was only because she was acting shy.  I enjoyed watching the friendships develop between the various kids and thought the author did a great job with the whole concept of this book.  Not a stunner of a book, but solid and enjoyable.

Full disclosure: Borrowed through inter-library loan 

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Throne of Glass

Throne of Glass
by Sarah J. Maas

After serving out a year of hard labor in the salt mines of Endovier for her crimes, 18-year-old assassin Celaena Sardothien is dragged before the Crown Prince. Prince Dorian offers her her freedom on one condition: she must act as his champion in a competition to find a new royal assassin. Her opponents are men-thieves and assassins and warriors from across the empire, each sponsored by a member of the king's council. If she beats her opponents in a series of eliminations, she'll serve the kingdom for three years and then be granted her freedom.

Celaena finds her training sessions with the captain of the guard, Westfall, challenging and exhilirating. But she's bored stiff by court life. Things get a little more interesting when the prince starts to show interest in her... but it's the gruff Captain Westfall who seems to understand her best.
Then one of the other contestants turns up dead... quickly followed by another. Can Celaena figure out who the killer is before she becomes a victim? As the young assassin investigates, her search leads her to discover a greater destiny than she could possibly have imagined. (description from

I thoroughly enjoyed this book. Celaena is a broken, yet resiliant character.  She's notorious and almost anonymous at the same time.  Though she's the kingdom's premier assassin, most have no idea what she looks like and no one knows her true past. She survived a year in a death camp, working the salt mines, and that is almost unbelievable. Is it any wonder that she terrifies and enchants almost everyone she meets?

Though love triangles start to feel old if they are not done well, in this book, the triangle totally worked for me.  Perhaps because Celaena continuously puts her own wellbeing first...the way things should work! Though she's entranced with the Crown Prince and would gladly be with him, if she is to be his Father's Assassin, a relationship could never work... and then there is the Captain of the Guard.  Though he does not elicit the same, ahem...lustful...feelings in her, there is a soul deep connection that can only make them truly friends...and perhaps more someday.

Maas did a masterful job at worldbuilding in this book.  While the reader never truly gets the entire back story on the kingdom that Celaena finds herself in, Maas trickles little bits of information into the story as things develop, allowing readers to learn just enough to be aware of how things work, and also leave them salivating for more backstory.  In fact, I'm now working my way through the four e-pubbed novellas (The Assassin and the Pirate Lord, The Assassin and the Empire, The Assassin and the Desert, and The Assassin and the Underworld) in hopes of learning more before the next book...

In a kingdom where magic is forbidden, there is certainly a lot of weird, unexplainable things going on here.  There also seems to be a certain reason why a lot of these events seem to seek out Celaena... Maas again managed to blend the perfect amount of realism and the fantastic.  With characters that know things they shouldn't and those that seem to be perfectly in the dark... Celaena must determine who she can truly trust...her life most certainly depends on it. 

Fans of Tamora Pierce, Rae Carson, and other fantasy writers with strong female characters will devour this book!

Full disclosure: Review copy received from NetGalley, signed ARC received at BEA 2012.

Friday, August 17, 2012

This Dark Endeavor

This Dark Endeavor
by Kenneth Oppel
The Apprenticeship of Victor Frankenstein, book one

Victor and Konrad are the twin brothers Frankenstein. They are nearly inseparable. Growing up, their lives are filled with imaginary adventures...until the day their adventures turn all too real.

They stumble upon the Dark Library and discover secret books of alchemy and ancient remedies. Father forbids them from ever entering the room again, but when Konrad falls gravely ill, Victor is drawn back to the Dark Library where he uncovers an ancient formula for the Elixir of Life. Victor, along with his beautiful cousin Elizabeth and friend Henry, immediately set out to find a man who was once known for his alchemical works to help them create the formula.

Determined to save Konrad, the three friends scale the highest trees in Strumwald, dive into the deepest lakes, and even make an unthinkable sacrifice in their quest for the elixir’s ingredients. And as if their task was not complicated enough, a new realm of danger—that of illicit love—threatens to end the ordeal in tragedy. (description from

I enjoyed this book. I've been wanting to read something by Kenneth Oppel for awhile and I'd heard great things about this book. The concept of Dr. Frankenstein before he becomes infamous, his journey to becoming "The Dr. Frankenstein"... genius.  This was fast paced and intriguing and I'm very much looking forward to book two. 

Alchemy, romance, dark secrets, and death.  This book has it all.  Oppel has a great, accessible writing style, too. You almost forget that you are reading historical fiction. There is no issue with archaic words or a feeling of things being "too foreign" for our culture.  I will definitely be trying some of his other books soon, too!

Full disclosure: Purchased book for my Nook

Anxiously Awaiting...Nobody by Jennifer Lynn Barnes!

by Jennifer Lynn Barnes

Publication date: Jan. 22. 2013

There are people in this world who are Nobody. No one sees them. No one notices them. They live their lives under the radar, forgotten as soon as you turn away.

That’s why they make the perfect assassins.

The Institute finds these people when they’re young and takes them away for training. But an untrained Nobody is a threat to their organization. And threats must be eliminated.

Sixteen-year-old Claire has been invisible her whole life, missed by the Institute’s monitoring. But now they’ve ID’ed her and send seventeen-year-old Nix to remove her. Yet the moment he lays eyes on her, he can’t make the hit. It’s as if Claire and Nix are the only people in the world for each other. And they are—because no one else ever notices them.

Oooh! Teen Assassins! Sounds creepy cool, with a hint of romance. :)

Thursday, August 16, 2012


by Chris Lynch
If you do it right, it can be a life. The hothouse, the guys, the glory. But just like that, it can all go up in smoke.

In the beginning it was strange, ya know, because of all that we had lost. But there was something about it that felt so good and so right, too: "I'm so proud of you, Russ." "We'll always be here for you, man." "Heroes don't pay for nothin' in this town." It was nonstop. The mayor shook my hand. Ladies sent food. I've never eaten so much baked ham in my life.

And now? Now the phone won't stop ringing from the crazies ready to blame me. My mom has to cry herself to sleep. They take a firefighter, a man, and they pump him up so big. . . . But once they start taking it away from you, they don't stop until they leave nothing on the bones.

First they needed heroes, then they needed blood. (description from

I liked this book. It's not something I would ever have picked up without a recommendation, but I ended up liking it well enough.  It's very raw and real.  It's short and easy to read.  It deals well with grief and heroism and how it feels when you realize that your parents are not the infallible heroes that you may want them to stay forever.

I think this would be a great book to recommend to a high school boy that doesn't really want to have to put a lot of effort into reading, but you know could benefit from a really well done book.  Not that it is only a book for boys, but I could see a reluctant reader having to admit that he actually thought this book "was okay..."

 Full disclosure: Checked out from my library

Monday, August 13, 2012


by Amy Kathleen Ryan
Sky Chasers, book one

If a violent battle destroyed the only world you’ve ever known, would you be brave enough to save who was left? Would love be strong enough to survive the fight? Either way, there’s no turning back.

The Empyrean is the only home 15-year-old Waverly has ever known. Part of the first generation to be successfully conceived in deep space, she and her boyfriend Kieran will be pioneers of New Earth. Waverly knows she must marry young in order to have children who can carry on the mission, and Kieran, the handsome captain-to-be, has everything Waverly could want in a husband. Everyone is sure he’s the best choice. Still, there’s a part of Waverly that wants more from life than marriage, and she is secretly intrigued by the shy, darkly brilliant Seth.

Suddenly, Waverly’s dreams are interrupted by the inconceivable – a violent betrayal by the Empyrean's sister ship, the New Horizon. The New Horizon’s leaders are desperate to populate the new planet first, and will do anything to get what they need: young girls. In one pivotal moment, Waverly and Kieran are separated, and find themselves at the helm of dangerous missions, where every move has potentially devastating consequences, and decisions of the heart may lead to disaster. (description from

Whoa. This book got me from page one and I could NOT put it down. It was compelling, it was creepy, it was... it just was.  I sat down and I read and read and read and read. 

The characters were great.  Kids put into the most difficult of situations...the adults they relied upon have been either killed or taken from them, and now they must take on roles that none of them are truly prepared for... Kieran steps up as "Captain," only to be overthrown by his rival, Seth.  Waverly and all the other girls have been kidnapped to be used to populate the other ship that knows it will slowly die out if they cannot procreate...

Each of the teens must decide what their role will be in their new existence.  Though they continuously hope to reunite with the remaining parents, they must learn to survive for themselves until that becomes a possibility.  There's a little bit of a "Lord of the Flies" thing going on here...

While there is most certainly the start of a love triangle here, what I loved about this book was that there was so much development into why each character would have developed into the person that they've become that they are each strong on their own.  No one person is willing to be defined by their relationship to anyone else.  While the romantic feelings are a strong factor for the teens trying to reunite, it is not ultimately in any way the driving force that leads them. 

With scary themes about morality, experimentation, and societal expectations, Glow was one of those books that I thought about for weeks after I read it. Things just kept rolling around in the back of my head and popping back up to the surface.  It was powerful that way.

For that, I bestow an "I can't stop thinking about it" GOLD STAR!!

Full disclosure: ARC originally sent by the publisher for review

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Innocent Darkness Blog Tour - Guest Post with Author, Suzanne Lazear!

Today, I am *super* excited to welcome the author of Innocent Darkness, Suzanne Lazear, to the blog as part of the awesome Innocent Darkness Blog Tour hosted by Mundie Moms.

For my stop on the blog tour, I asked Suzanne to tell me what she thought Steampunk's place in YA's future might be, and she came up with a great answer!!

Steampunk's place in YA's future

By Suzanne Lazear

Young Adult books push boundaries. That’s what many teens do, why shouldn’t some books do the same? When someone says “you can’t do that in YA”, much like a teen, it juts out its jaw, meets the challenger’s gaze defiantly, and mutters “watch me.”

Steampunk, by its very definition is respectfully defiant. Is roots in innovation (and rebellion), Steampunk, especially as a written genre, it is constantly changing, discovering, seeing if it is possible to go places no Steampunk has gone before.

That’s partially why all of these discussions on what Steampunk isn’t or shouldn’t be irk me. This seems adverse to the very ideals of Steampunk itself. Sure, like all genres, there are establishing parameters, but Steampunk, like YA, is a genre grounded in exploration. Perhaps we should focus more on what Steampunk is. After all, we do that in YA, focusing on all the great and wonderful things the genre is instead of nitpicking and compartmentalizing.

So much about the very nature of Steampunk (rebellion, identity, hope, innovation, adventure) lend itself quite naturally to young adult stories. YA steampunk writers aren’t afraid to stretch the limits, borrowing and mashing up genres until perhaps it’s not even steampunk anymore yet still has that spark and spirit that make steampunk such an attractive genre to writers. INNOCENT DARKNESS is “fairytale steampunk”, a mashup of faeries, fairytales, and steampunk. Jay Kristoff’s upcoming novel STORMDANCER is set in Japan, and SHADOW AND BONE, by Leigh Bardugo is what she coins “Tsarpunk.”

I foresee Steampunk and Steampunkian tales (or those with Steampunkatude) as becoming a mainstay of YA. Because both genres have similar guiding principles. Because in both genres, when someone says “you can’t do that”, we say “why not?”

Because YA and Steampunk is.

I think Suzanne absolutely nailed it with this one! I love steampunk for its adventurousness, its outlandishness, the imagination it takes to imagine the possibilities, and beyond "traditional" steampunk, authors like Suzanne are pushing the envelope even further. I LOVE IT!! 

If you haven't checked out Innocent Darkness, yet, you can read my review here, you can check out Suzanne's blog here, and you can check out the list of all the other blog tour stops here! Once again, I just want to thank Mundie Moms for letting me participate in this awesome tour and I want to thank Suzanne for not only writing an awesome book, but also for taking the time to stop by my blog!!!

Saturday, August 11, 2012

Michael Vey: The Prisoner of Cell 25

The Prisoner of Cell 25
by Richard Paul Evans
Michael Vey, book one

My name is Michael Vey, and the story I’m about to tell you is strange. Very strange. It’s my story.
To everyone at Meridian High School, Michael Vey is an ordinary fourteen-year-old. In fact, the only thing that seems to set him apart is the fact that he has Tourette’s syndrome. But Michael is anything but ordinary. Michael has special powers. Electric powers. Michael thinks he's unique until he discovers that a cheerleader named Taylor also has special powers. With the help of Michael’s friend, Ostin, the three of them set out to discover how Michael and Taylor ended up this way, but their investigation brings them to the attention of a powerful group who wants to control the electric children – and through them the world. Michael will have to rely on his wits, powers, and friends if he’s to survive. (description from

If you love adventure and people with crazy powers, you need to check out this book.  I was surprised how easily I was drawn into it. I found myself turning pages faster and faster...

Michael was a good character. Not perfect, by any means, and he acknowledges that... but he loves his friends and his mom with everything he has, and he tries to do the right thing whenever he can.  He also has the crazy power to shock people, like an electric eel! Wowza! I kept thinking how much it would hurt to get shocked by him.  *shudders*

Though I've never read anything by this author before (his adult books are a different style), I will definitely be making time sometime this fall to squeeze in book two, Rise of the Elgen.

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Innocent Darkness

Innocent Darkness
by Suzanne Lazear
The Aether Chronicles, book one

Noli Braddock and her best friend V’s incident with a flying auto have landed them in a heap of trouble. And when Noli is sent to a spirit-squelching reform school in San Francisco, she’s sure that her rebellious adventures are over.

Meanwhile, Kevighn Silver has been ordered by the Faerie Queen to bring a mortal girl back to the Otherworld. The magic requires a blood sacrifice every seven years, and only a mortal girl who shines with the Spark—a girl like Noli—will keep the Otherworld from complete destruction.

When an ill-timed wish sends Noli tumbling into the Otherworld, she’s more homesick than ever . . . until V arrives to save her from an untimely demise. But who exactly is V? And if he helps Noli escape, who will save the realm of Faerie from utter annihilation?  (description from

I LOVED this book.  Seriously.  I love steampunk. I love faeries.  To find an author that had the vision to combine the two?? I'm in serious fan-girl mode, people! SERIOUSLY.

Okay, let me try to talk myself down a little bit here...become a little more coherent. LOL.  Let's see.  Why did I LOVE this book? Well it starts out with a girl who refuses to become the perfect little society Lady taking a flying car for an illegal joyride...awesome.   Then she gets sent to a reform school (read punishments and pretty much prison with tea time, here) and  finds a faery garden in the backyard. 

When the High Queen's faerie Huntsman, (who is the perfect version of a Huntsman, BTW, relying on charm  and good looks to lure the ultimate prey, humans) finds Noli there, he ends up sweeping her off to the Otherworld to turn her into the sacrifice that can save all Fae. Unbeknownst to Noli,  her best friend and next-door  neighbor, Steven...aka V, has a few secrets of his own and when Noli disappears, he sets  out  to find her.

So, without giving *everything* away, here are things that kept me smiling all the way through the book:

*Amazing Gardens
*Silly garden games reminiscent of the croquet in Alice's Adventures in Wonderland
*Mechanical Hair Accessories
*Fantastic and Impractical Clothing

...and much more! I cannot wait to see what Lazear gives us in book two. So far, she's hinted that there will be air pirates. AIR PIRATES, people!! *fans self*  Sorry, got  a little overexcited there, again. :D

Full disclosure: ARC received from NetGalley

Don't forget to stop back here on August 12th for my stop on the official INNOCENT DARKNESS BLOG TOUR!  I'm super excited to have a guest post from the author, Suzanne Lazear. :)

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Draw the Dark

Draw the Dark
by Ilsa J. Bick

There are things in Winter, Wisconsin, folks just don't talk about. The murder way back in '45 is one. The near-suicide of a first-grade teacher is another. And then there is 17-year old Christian Cage. Christian's parents disappeared when he was a little boy, and ever since he's drawn and painted obsessively, trying desperately to remember his mother. The problem is Christian doesn't just draw his own memories. He can draw the thoughts of those around him. Confronted with fears and nightmares they'd rather avoid, people have a bad habit of dying. So it's no surprise that Christian isn't exactly popular. What no one expects is for Christian to meet Winter's last surviving Jew and uncover one more thing best forgotten--the day the Nazis came to town. (description from

This was an interesting book.  It was creepy and dark and a great blend of realistic fiction with just a hint of dark fantasy.  Yet again, it covered a piece of American history that I did not know about... did you know that the US took in German war prisoners after WWII to work in fields and factories? I had no idea! Overall I really enjoyed this book, though I thought the ending was wrapped up just a little too quickly...

Full disclosure: Audio book received to review for SLJ.

Monday, August 6, 2012


by Leslie Connor

Dewey Marriss is stuck in the middle of a crunch.
He never guessed that the gas pumps would run dry the same week he promised to manage the family's bicycle-repair business. Suddenly everyone needs a bike. And nobody wants to wait.

Meanwhile, the crunch has stranded Dewey's parents far up north with an empty fuel tank and no way home. It's up to Dewey and his older sister, Lil, to look after their younger siblings and run the bike shop all on their own.

Each day Dewey and his siblings feel their parents' absence more and more. The Marriss Bike Barn is busier than ever. And just when he is starting to feel crunched himself, Dewey discovers that bike parts are missing from the shop. He's sure he knows who's responsible—or does he? Will exposing the thief only make more trouble for Dewey and his siblings? (description from

I liked this book. It was good...*but* I kind of wish that I had read it before Waiting for Normal. While I liked the characters in this book and I thought the family dynamics were interesting, it just didn't spark for me.  I still have a warm, gooey place that melts in my heart when I think of Waiting for Normal

I had a hard time getting into this book. It was a little slow starting.  Once I got into the whole bike shop thing and realized that there was a thief in the mix and the kids don't know what to do, I found myself getting invested, but it took awhile.  I also could not for the life of me figure out when this book was supposed to be set.  It was really vague in that respect. 

Enjoyable, but perhaps not really memorable.

The Land of Stories: The Wishing Spell

The Wishing Spell
by Chris Colfer
The Land of Stories, book one

Alex and Conner Bailey's world is about to change, in this fast-paced adventure that uniquely combines our modern day world with the enchanting realm of classic fairy tales.

The Land of Stories tells the tale of twins Alex and Conner. Through the mysterious powers of a cherished book of stories, they leave their world behind and find themselves in a foreign land full of wonder and magic where they come face-to-face with the fairy tale characters they grew up reading about.

But after a series of encounters with witches, wolves, goblins, and trolls alike, getting back home is going to be harder than they thought. (description from
I really enjoyed this tween-aged fairy tale adventure.  Though the twins started out feeling a little bit like stereotypes (the super smart girl and the troublemaker boy) they swiftly grew to have deeper personalities and they played really well off of one another.
I really enjoyed how Colfer delved into the afters of each fairy tale's "Happily Ever After." It was great to see a Goldilocks who was wanted across the kingdoms for theft, a Cinderella who was expecting her first child, and a Sleeping Beauty who wouldn't sleep until her kingdom recovered from her hundred years' repose. 
For a wild and whimsical adventure through all your favorite classic tales, try this one out!
Full disclosure: ARC received at BEA 2012

Saturday, August 4, 2012

I Say, You Say Opposites - Board Book

I Say, You Say Opposites!
by Tad Carpenter

I say "Reading!" You say, "Fun!" Explore the world of opposites with 8 lift-the-flaps.

These colorful, playful books encourage interactive learning through prediction and repetition; but most importantly, they look really fun.--Dr. Robert Needlman, co-founder of Reach Out and Read and author of Dr. Spock's Baby Basics

With I Say, You Say, your little ones can:
  • Say new words
  • Recognize opposites
  • Learn and play!
(description from of book)

This is a CUTE book! Not only does it have a great opposites concept, but it is bright, colorful and not scary at all. :)  It has visual clues to help little readers to guess/learn what the opposite is on each page spread.

Not only is this a great example, "I say Short, you say...TALL!" but of course, I had to share the giraffe picture! (In case you didn't know, I'm obsessed with giraffes. :D)

Another example that shows the way the page flaps work:
*Before the flap is turned over...*

*And once the flap is open!*

Absolutely fantastic! Beautiful and functional.  My boss at work is already planning to steal my copy for our regular two-year-old storytime, LOL.  I would highly recommend this book and any others in the series for Library storytimes or one-on-one reading at home! The only caution I would give to parents/gift givers is that the pages are not quite as sturdy as some other board books, so a tough little toddler could tear the flaps... but well worth picking up and keeping in a safe place until reading time!

Full disclosure: Received from Little, Brown for Young Readers for review

Friday, August 3, 2012

The Fear

The Fear
by Charlie Higson
The Enemy, book three

The sickness struck everyone sixteen and over. Mothers and fathers, older brothers, sisters, and best friends. No one escaped its touch. And now children across London are being hunted by ferocious grown-ups who are hungry, bloodthirsty, and not giving up.

DogNut and the rest of his crew, in search of the friends they lost during the fire, set off on a deadly mission from the Tower of London to Buckingham Palace and beyond, as the sickos lie in wait. But who are their friends and who is the enemy in this changed world? (description from

Sigh. I hated this book. I hate saying that, but it was all I could do to get through the almost five hundred pages. Normally, I LOVE zombie books, but this series just seems gross. It was well written, the storyline was good, but Higson does not at all shy away from a. killing characters off all over the place and b. vividly describing the affects of the disease on adults.  Also, I couldn't stand the chapters that were from the perspective of the now cannibalistic adults. 

So. If you like horror and dark, vivid descriptions of violence and death, I would suggest you check out this series. If you like zombie books, though, for the interactions between the surviving may want to skip this one.  Half the main characters don't officially make it and a lot of the story is focused on the the horrible zombie attacks...

Full disclosure: Copy received to review for VOYA

Thursday, August 2, 2012


by Jackie Morse Kessler
Riders of the Apocalypse, book three

Fifteen-year-old Billy Ballard is the kid that everyone picks on. But things change drastically when Death tells Billy he must stand in as Pestilence, the White Rider of the Apocalypse. Now armed with a Bow that allows him to strike with disease from a distance, Billy lashes out at his tormentors...and accidentally causes an outbreak of meningitis. Horrified by his actions, Billy begs Death to take back the Bow. For that to happen, says Death, Billy must track down the real White Rider, and stop him from unleashing something awful on humanity—something that could make the Black Plague look like a summer cold. Does one bullied teenager have the strength to stand his ground—and the courage to save the world? (description from
This is such a great series. The author's idea is just amazing.  They are short reads, but they are packed with SO much punch!  Each book not only tackles a teen becoming a Rider...yes one of the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse(!!!), but also some kind of issue that teens can face. 
This book did a GREAT job blending the concept of Pestilence (disease, ick!) and bullying.  Kessler managed to write a phenomenal story about a boy who finally fights back for himself and stops a bully from destroying the world.  We also got some more great hints about what's coming for of the coolest characters, ever!... and the Horsemen in the final book.
Though short, I get so much satisfaction reading each book in this series, and I cannot wait for the big finale! 

Book Trailer - The Diviners by Libba Bray

OMG. Just found this on Little, Brown for Young Readers website and had to post it... SUPER CREEPY!  I have an ARC of this book and I can't wait to get to it!!

What do you think??!

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

What's On My Hold List?

Welcome to the August 2012 edition
"What's on My Hold List?"
One of the most beautiful things about working in a Library is that I have the ability to put lots of things on hold and read them *before* I buy!! These are some of the books that I'm currently waiting for, though I may buy one or two of them after reading, as well. 
by Pat Schmatz

by Sarah Zettel
The American Fairy Trilogy, book one

by Jacqueline Kelly

by Karen Marie Moning

by Kim Harrington
Sleuth or Dare, book three

by Maureen Doyle McQuerry

You can click on each title to go to their Amazon page for a description...
So, these are the books I'm waiting anxiously to get my hands on...what are you waiting for??