Pages

Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Wings of the Wicked

Wings of the Wicked
by Courtney Allison Moulton
Angelfire, book two

Life as the Preliator is harder than Ellie ever imagined.

Balancing real life with the responsibility of being Heaven's warrior is a challenge for Ellie. Her relationship with Will has become all business, though they both long for each other. And now that the secret of who she really is has come out, so have Hell's strongest reapers. Grown bold and more vicious, the demonic threaten her in the light of day and stalk her in the night.

She's been warned.

Cadan, a demonic reaper, comes to her with information about Bastian's new plan to destroy Ellie's soul and use an ancient relic to wake all the souls of the damned and unleash them upon humanity. As she fights to stay ahead of Bastian's schemes, the revelations about those closest to her awaken a dark power within Ellie that threatens to destroy everything—including herself.

She'll be betrayed.

Treachery comes even from those whom she loves, and Ellie is broken by the deaths of those who stood beside her in this Heavenly war. Still, she must find a way to save the world, herself, and her love for Will. If she fails, there will be Hell to pay. (description from Amazon.com)


It's been a long time since I read Angelfire. I vaguely remembered the plot, but when I started Wings of the Wicked, it took me a little while to remember who some of the secondary characters were and what the situation was like for Ellie at home, etc. However, once I got past the first quarter or so of the book, I got sucked right back in to Ellie's lives - the one she has during the day, and the one she has hunting reapers at night.

I loved reading about the way that Ellie had to try to balance her daily school life with her duties as the Preliator. I can't imagine having to essentially save the world!  I used to feel the same way when I watched Buffy: the Vampire Slayer on TV. I can't imagine having that type of duty and facing that type of danger every day.  Incredible....and I'm sure, super tiring.  I get tired just reading about it, LOL!

I got totally caught up in the action and drama of this book. The romance, the revelations, the reapers... and let me tell you, the ending of this book. WHOA. I tweeted the author the moment I put it down asking when book three comes out. I need it ASAP! There is a cliffhanger... a desperate cliffhanger...a don't hold your breath cuz you might actually die kind of cliffhanger...

Saturday, July 28, 2012

The Scorpio Races

The Scorpio Races
by Maggie Stiefvater

Some race to win. Others race to survive.

It happens at the start of every November: the Scorpio Races. Riders attempt to keep hold of their water horses long enough to make it to the finish line.
Some riders live.
Others die.

At age nineteen, Sean Kendrick is the returning champion. He is a young man of few words, and if he has any fears, he keeps them buried deep, where no one else can see them.

Puck Connolly is different. She never meant to ride in the Scorpio Races. But fate hasn't given her much of a choice. So she enters the competition - the first girl ever to do so. She is in no way prepared for what is going to happen. (description from Amazon.com)

Wow. I apologize to anyone who previously told me that I needed to read this book...
I picked it up at BEA *last year* because the premise just sounded soooo cool.  Then I remembered how much I, uh, did not really enjoy Shiver and I put off reading it forever...
Now. Now I am kicking myself.  Whatever it was that did not work about Stiefvater's writing style for me in her earlier books, it totally clicked here.

I LOVED The Scorpio Races.  It was lyrical. It was gritty. It was the perfect mix of folktale and old-style cautionary fairy tale that I just can't seem to read enough. There was romance in a very realistic way. There were killer water horses that were beautiful and enticing and thoroughly deadly. There were word choices that just sang in my ears. Stiefvater really knocked this one out of the park!

I also want to mention that I listened to this book as an audiobook and I think it was phenomenally done.  The actors chosen perfectly suited their characters and the tone of the book was great on audio. My only problem was that when it came to nearing the end, I couldn't sit in the car long enough to finish it!! I finally broke down and read the last fifty pages or so.

I loved this book enough to give it a coveted GOLD STAR.


And...here is me echoing the words of those before me...
If you haven't read this one, yet, WELL WHAT ARE YOU WAITING FOR? Read it. Really. 

Full disclosure: ARC received at BEA 2011

Friday, July 27, 2012

Anxiously Awaiting...Nameless!

Nameless
by Lili St. Crow
Tales of Beauty and Madness, book one

Publication date:  April 4, 2013

Sixteen-year-old Camille doesn’t remember her life before she was adopted by the powerful Vultusino family—the missing childhood years that left her scarred and silent. Now she lives a life of luxury, protected by the supernatural Mafia Vultusinos, specially Nico, her adopted brother.

But Cami knows that she is not really Family. She is a mortal with a past that lies buried in trauma. And it’s not until a mysterious boy approaches her and reveals scars of his own that Cami begins to uncover the secrets of her past . . . to find out where she comes from and what danger she now finds herself in.

Oooh! This sounds like the creepiest version of Snow White that I've read in quite a while. I can't wait to check it out. I'd love to know what other tales she plans to tackle in the series, too!

Dead End in Norvelt

Dead End in Norvelt
by Jack Gantos

Melding the entirely true and the wildly fictional, Dead End in Norvelt is a novel about an incredible two months for a kid named Jack Gantos, whose plans for vacation excitement are shot down when he is "grounded for life" by his feuding parents, and whose nose spews bad blood at every little shock he gets. But plenty of excitement (and shocks) are coming Jack's way once his mom loans him out to help a fiesty old neighbor with a most unusual chore—typewriting obituaries filled with stories about the people who founded his utopian town. As one obituary leads to another, Jack is launced on a strange adventure involving molten wax, Eleanor Roosevelt, twisted promises, a homemade airplane, Girl Scout cookies, a man on a trike, a dancing plague, voices from the past, Hells Angels . . . and possibly murder. (description from Amazon.com)

This was a strange and weirdly wonderful book.  Told by Jack Gantos, this is a fictional autobiography...very weird indeed.  These two months in Jack's life, have a very, very strange tone that kept me captivated even as I was trying to piece together exactly what was going on. 

The story starts with a series of seemingly unrelated events.  As the tale spins on, though, both Jack and the reader begin to piece things together and all these strange things meld into one wild tale! I couldn't wait to see what happened next...

I also have to tell you that I listened to this as an audiobook and the author reads it himself. Jack Gantos has this slightly quirky voice that just fit this book perfectly.  It was a great audiobook! I am so glad I experienced the story that way. I highly recommend it.

Full disclosure: Audiobook received at BEA 2011. 

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Kissing a Pig

Have you ever kissed a pig?  I hadn't...until today. 


Farmer Minor is a local CT resident and he brings his potbellied pig, Daisy II, around to visit libraries.  Daisy II is a "reading pig."  He, yes Daisy II is a he, loves to listen to pig stories...and be petted...and be kissed by special people baring treats.

So, today I kissed a pig.  @.@ 

What did you do at work today?

Gold Star Interview - Alethea Kontis!

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 Alethea Kontis! I'm so excited. Alethea's debut YA novel, Enchanted, is one of the BEST fairy tale mash-ups I've read, ever! You can check out my gushy review here.












Welcome, Alethea! 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 Enchanted?

The original short story, "Sunday" (technically a novelette, since it was about 10,000 words), was written for a fairy tale contest held by my online writers group (The Codex Writers) in the summer of 2005. That story was published in Realms of Fantasy magazine in the fall of 2006. So it took a good seven years for that to go from being a handful of magical story seeds to a book on a shelf in the bookstore...but I had the opportunity to publish a few other books during that time. And seven is a magic number, so I'm okay with that.












Unfortunately, I don't have the luxury of seven years to write the sequel!


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 am a very lucky author in that I am already published in a myriad of genres without having to use a pseudonym. Score one for Princess Alethea!

When I was a teenager, I decided to be romantic and submit some of my stories under the pseudonym "Madeleine Mercer." Madeleine is the name of my maternal grandmother (and my middle name), and Mercer is the maiden name/stage name of my aunt, actress Ernestine Mercer, who passed away in 2011. Marion Zimmer Bradley sent back a scathing form letter with my rejection telling me all the reasons why I should NEVER EVER USE A PSEUDONYM. I was too scared by that letter to ever do it again.

*OMG. That is one of those letters that you both treasure and fear. I can't believe you have a letter from THE Marion Zimmer Bradley!!*

3.  I LOVED that Enchanted incorporated bits from *so many* different fairy tales. Did you have a favorite growing up, one that always resonated with you? 

My two favorite fairy tales growing up were "Snow White and Rose Red" and "The Goose Girl." I loved the story of the grumpy leprechaun with the long beard (who makes a brief appearance in Enchanted) and the Bear Prince...I actually cast Snow White and Rose Red as sisters of Seven Woodcutter (Five and Six), in a scene that got edited out. But never fear, they will be back!

"The Goose Girl" was just wonderful all-over...and the talking horse's head never bothered me one bit. Drops of blood and an evil maid overpowering the princess and her talking horse...what's not to love? And such great characters! Conrad was a clever boy to ferret out that something was wrong. The king was a clever man to listen to such a boy...and then to turn around and force the evil maid to offer up the idea for what later became her own punishment (also mentioned in Enchanted). Teaser: A good chunk of this storyline will appear in Friday's book!

4.  If you could cross one thing off your bucket list tomorrow, what would it be? 
I hate the term "bucket list." Mine is a "Princess List." You can find it here: http://aletheakontis.com/2010/05/the-princess-list/

The easiest thing would probably be to take a hot air balloon ride...but I'd much rather go spend Guy Fawkes Day in England. I miss England.

*Me too! I have family "across the pond," but we do NOT get to visit enough!*


5. Quick picks list:
Favorite vacation destination?
England. Specifically to visit my friends Kit McCormick, Jennifer Lee, Mark Newton, and Christian Dunn. 

Favorite childhood book?
Goop Tales by Gelett Burgess. They Call Me Boober Fraggle by Michaela Muntean. The Nunga Punga and the Booch, by Jean Wilson Kennedy. The Tattooed Potato and Other Clues by Ellen Raskin. Gertie's Green Thumb by Catherine Dexter. How to Be a Perfect Person in Just Three Days, by Stephen Manes. Fairy Tales. Anything by Ogden Nash. I CANNOT PICK ONE, THERE WERE JUST TOO MANY. I've been a rabid reader since the age of three.

Favorite writing snack food?
Hummus and veggie chips. And that's all Sherrilyn Kenyon's fault. 

Favorite clothing item?
My emerald green Dartmouth shirt. I didn't attend Dartmouth, but I visited there, and might have applied if it was less than $20K a year. Theodore Geisel went there. You may remember his as Dr. Seuss.


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

For more information about Alethea and her books, check out her website at http://aletheakontis.com/

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

The Lions of Little Rock

The Lions of Little Rock
by Kristin Levine

Two girls separated by race form an unbreakable bond during the tumultuous integration of Little Rock schools in 1958.

Twelve-year-old Marlee doesn't have many friends until she meets Liz, the new girl at school. Liz is bold and brave, and always knows the right thing to say, especially to Sally, the resident mean girl. Liz even helps Marlee overcome her greatest fear - speaking, which Marlee never does outside her family.

But then Liz is gone, replaced by the rumor that she was a Negro girl passing as white. But Marlee decides that doesn't matter. Liz is her best friend. And to stay friends, Marlee and Liz are willing to take on integration and the dangers their friendship could bring to both their families. (description from Amazon.com)


This was a book I would never have picked up on my own, but boy am I glad that I read it! This book talks about the time after the integration of schools in Little Rock, Arkansas. I had no idea that the year after "The Little Rock Nine" faced such a hardship attending school that the town's government decided to actually close some of the schools so that they would not have to deal with the integration issue. It seems to be a part of that story that has hardly been told...

Levine tackles the story in an indirect and captivating way. The main character, Marlee, has an older sister that was attending the high school, but now is only offered correspondance courses for school since they shut hers down.  Marlee goes to the middle school, which is still open, but has to deal with issues of her own.  She is a shy, shy girl who hardly even speaks in school and it's not until she meets Liz that she learns to come out of her shell.

The problems?  Well, it turns out that Liz is African-American, but her skin is so light that she was "passing" as white so that she could attend Marlee's school. When the truth comes out, Liz is expelled from the school and even worse, her family is threatened because they were "trying to be above their station."  One of the boys that had tormented Marlee has an older brother that is making life both miserable and unsafe for the girls now.  All Marlee wants to do is find a way to keep her best friend, but she's not sure how on earth she'll be able to do that! 

This book touched my heart.  It made me cry and it made me want to learn more about this time in Little Rock's history.  It is a book definitely worth reading!

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Happy 3rd Book Birthday, Evie!

Endlessly
by Kiersten White
Paranormalcy, book three

Just wanted to say "Happy Book Birthday" to Kiersten White for the final book in her Paranormalcy trilogy, Endlessly, which hit shelves officially today!! I cannot tell you how eagerly I am awaiting the copy that Amazon says is currently on its way to me! I will be happily reading it this weekend and then all the Evies can live happily next to each other upon my bookshelves, LOL.  :)

Monday, July 23, 2012

The Traitor in the Tunnel

The Traitor in the Tunnel
by Y. S. Lee
The Agency, book three


Queen Victoria has a little problem: there’s a petty thief at work in Buckingham Palace. Charged with discretion, the Agency puts quickwitted Mary Quinn on the case, where she must pose as a domestic while fending off the attentions of a feckless Prince of Wales. But when the prince witnesses the murder of one of his friends in an opium den, the potential for scandal looms large. And Mary faces an even more unsettling possibility: the accused killer, a Chinese sailor imprisoned in the Tower of London, shares a name with her long-lost father. Meanwhile, engineer James Easton, Mary’s onetime paramour, is at work shoring up the sewers beneath the palace, where an unexpected
tunnel seems to be very much in use. Can Mary and James trust each other (and put their simmering feelings aside) long enough to solve the mystery and protect the Royal Family? Hoist on your waders
for Mary’s most personal case yet, where the stakes couldn’t be higher — and she has everything to lose. (description from Amazon.com)

This was a great addition to The Agency series! It was drama-rama at its best in Victorian England. Mary dealt with family issues, job issues, romance issues....just issues everywhere!

I loved that Mary is so devoted to every case that she takes on that she is willing to work as a maid for weeks just to hunt out a thief. I really loved that it turned out there was much more going on than just petty theft in the castle! I admired the way that Mary held herself even as the Prince may have been trying to give her some unwanted attention...

I cannot wait to see what happens as Mary moves forward.  The Agency itself has taken a huge hit and I find myself anxious on the behalf of all involved! I am most curious to see what the future of spying looks like for these ladies... (and perhaps some new gentlemen!)

Most of all, I *CANNOT* wait to see what happens to Mary and James in the future! Their romance practically sparks right off the pages in this one and I lurve it.  Every stolen kiss, every bickering quarrel, every potentially dangerous moment when they could be caught spying together... <3 <3 <3!

I am totally hooked and cannot wait for the next intrepid adventure.

Full disclosure: ARC received from Netgalley

Saturday, July 21, 2012

Winner - The Secret World of Alaina Downs















I am pleased to announce that the winner of The Secret World of Alaina Downs giveaway (via random drawing at random.org) is...


Tahleen!!

Tahleen, check your email...and get me your mailing address before the end of the day on Tues., July 24th so that I can get the book out to you ASAP! Congratulations again!

Friday, July 20, 2012

Anxiously Awaiting...The Cadet of Tildor!

The Cadet of Tildor
by Alex Lidell

Publication date: January 10, 2013

Having already survived six years at the Tildor’s top military academy, sixteen-year-old Renee De Winter is determined to graduate, training day and night to compete with her male classmates. When the boys overpower her parries, she works harder. When a bully sabotages her gear, she fights without it. But when an underground crime group captures her mentor for its illegal gladiatorial games, she must choose between her career and her conscience. Determined to penetrate the group’s inner circles, Renee will leap from academia to the crime filled streets, pick up a sword, and weigh law against loyalty.

I believe that I may have mentioned once or twice, or you know, a million times if you know me in real life...that my favorite book of all time is Tamora Pierce's Alanna: The First Adventure. It is epic. It is the standard to which all my book love is held...

This, this sounds like it would be perfectly up my alley. I can only hope that it meets the same high standard I require for my high fantasies. I *CANNOT* wait to find out. I think I'll be pre-ordering this one. :)

Anxiously Awaiting...Spirit and Dust!

Spirit and Dust
by Rosemary Clement-Moore
Sequel to Texas Gothic

Publication date: May 13, 2013

Speaking to the dead is no new thing for Daisy Goodnight. The living, on the other hand, can occasionally be a problem. Especially when they knock you out, kidnap you, and force you to be their magical police dog.

Donald Maguire—mob boss, extraordinaire—has a missing daughter and Daisy is his first choice to track her down. But he didn't actually ask her for help. When she woke up in his guest bedroom, she was told. But why her? And who—or what—in the world is the Black Jackal?

I really loved Texas Gothic. It was creepy, it was snarky, and it had romance. <3 Some of my favorite things. I am so excited to know that this sequel is coming out!!

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Self-Published Author Interview - Rebecca Rynecki

Today, I am super excited to welcome debut self-published author, Rebecca Rynecki, to the blog! 



















Author Bio: Rebecca Rynecki is a librarian, and graduate of Hollins University with a degree in History. The story of Isleen first came to her when she was twelve, lying dormant for years until she just decided to go for it. When she's not writing or giving patrons the evil eye at work, she dances around the house with her husband and son, and bakes bread and cupcakes.

*I will add to this bio for the sake of full disclosure that Becca and I worked together for several years at a medium sized Library in Connecticut and are currently both friends and members of the same writers' group. If you decide to check out her blog, you will also learn she is a complete Anglophile, most specifically obsessed with actor, Andrew Lee Potts, and has a wickedly blunt sense of humor.* 

Anyway, as an aspiring author I've become very interested in the last year or so in the self-publishing process, how it compares to traditional publishing, and what authors are  feeling about the face of the publishing world right now. 

So, I decided to ask Becca a few quick questions about her experience in self-publishing her first book, The Secret World of Alaina Downs.  (BTW - Don't forget you can enter to win a copy!)

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


The first time this idea came to me was in 7th grade at the Ethel Walker School when I met this girl named Alaina. I loved her name and the idea came out, first as a play that was acted out by my sister and the neighborhood girls. I didn't get seriously into plotting it until I was seventeen, and then, as you know, I took a break from writing until 2009. The first draft to the final/final draft took eighteen months total with many, many rewrites.


2. How did you decide to self-publish? What was the process like for you?


I decided to self-publish after I kept hearing back from agents and some small publishers that, while my stuff was good, it was "not in the market now," or "even though it's fantasy, it's not the kind of fantasy that we want." And I had gotten a Nook for Christmas at that point and I was discovering all of these wonderful self published authors, who wrote beautifully, and the kind of things that I liked to read, but yet, they had gotten rejected by going the traditional route as well, so I decided to bite the bullet and do it.

The self publishing process involved quite a bit of research into different companies to see what they offered service and price wise. It amazed me that some wanted you to pay them up to 1000.00 just for the basics! I went with Createspace because they have affordable packages, plus their stuff is very professionally done and they have shown themselves to have good success with what they put out. I would say though, it's a little bit more nerve-wracking and time consuming to do it yourself, because even though you would hopefully have had editors help you in the beginning, it's up to you to make sure that everything is correct and how it's supposed to be.

3. So, now that you've officially published your first book, how has your writing/life routine changed?


First off, I have no time to work on the sequel now! I need to get myself in gear! But, yeah, it's become a daily routine of "pimping" myself out as my friend Heather calls it, and trying to find the right people to read it, and constantly posting things, because you would be surprised by how little people pay attention to things. Luckily, I have some great friends who have been helping out with that aspect. I've also been thanking the people who have bought the book, sent me messages about the book, even if they just send me one line, because they took the time to let me know what they thought and they deserve the same consideration back, also...it makes me happy to hear that someone says that they loved it! But, yeah, it's become a whirlwind of e-mails, double checking the information that the booksellers have posted...everything.

4. Any advice for aspiring authors out there?

Yes, get yourself a great group of people and form a writing group! It can be people you communicate with online, people who you meet with once a week, once a month. These people are the key to your success as a writer. I don't know what I would have done without these girls being unfailingly honest and helping me better myself. It's a great support group, and take what they say to heart! They want you to be successful, they want you to be happy. Also...read...A LOT!

5. Quick Picks List:

Favorite vacation destination- I have to say Higgins Beach in Maine. I'm such a New Englander like that, but I don't feel like I'm truly on a real beach until I go to Maine. The rocks everywhere, walking along the water in a sweatshirt in the summer...all good.

Favorite childhood book- This is a hard one! Grrrrr...I have too many. One that I would say that got read over and over...and over was Up a Road Slowly by Irene Hunt. It recently came back into print, and it's a gorgeous coming of age story.

Favorite writing snack food- Hahaha okay, this may sound strange but I often would have coffee and eat my son's Goldfish crackers. It worked!

Favorite clothing item- Oh dear, I think this is the hardest question! I guess it would have to be my yoga pants from my friend Hayley's company. I love them, and I lived in them during all those late writing nights...you know...to accommodate for eating all the Goldfish crackers.

Becca, truly, thank you so much for coming on my blog today! I'm so happy for you and the successful publication of your first book. Hopefully, this little interview will also give some aspiring authors, besides myself, of course, a little more information about self-publishing in today's writing market.  :)






Wednesday, July 18, 2012

What Happened to Goodbye

What Happened to Goodbye
by Sarah Dessen

Since her parents' bitter divorce, McLean and her dad, a restaurant consultant, have been on the move-four towns in two years. Estranged from her mother and her mother's new family, McLean has followed her dad in leaving the unhappy past behind. And each new place gives her a chance to try out a new persona: from cheerleader to drama diva. But now, for the first time, McLean discovers a desire to stay in one place and just be herself, whoever that is. Perhaps Dave, the guy next door, can help her find out. (description from Amazon.com) 


Sarah Dessen's books alway make me cry at least a little. They are great summer reads and they are great for any time that you want something that will make you both smile and tear up. They deal with family and relationship issues in such a great way, too.

For example, in What Happened to Goodbye, McLean is dealing with her "issues" following her parents divorce. Rather than move in with her mom and her mom's new husband and twin toddlers, McLean chooses to live with her father...and that means moving from place to place for his job. McLean loves the fact that they move, though, because it gives her the chance to reinvent herself in each place.

When she finds a guy who really seems to get her, though, she finds that she suddenly wants to be "herself" again. Can McLean rediscover who she was or wants to be today?

This book dealt with the fallout of McLean's parents divorce really, really well. What I loved most was that they were a family that finally pulled together in the end...around McLean... when she needed it the most. I loved the restaurant setting and I loved the secondary characters that worked at Luna Blu.

Another great book from Sarah Dessen.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

The Secret World of Alaina Downs - With a Giveaway!



















The Secret World of Alaina Downs
by Rebecca Rynecki

When 22 year old Alaina stumbles into a world that she thought only existed in her mind, she is understandably a little bit freaked out. Who wouldn't be? Characters that she had written down years ago are walking, and talking, and telling her that she is the only one who can save the princess and the kingdom of Isleen. Um...okay. As she travels down to the southern kingdom with Sir Gabriel, a really hot knight, she falls off horses, has an interaction with an evil witch, gets attacked by a sea creature, and even falls from lust into love. (description from Amazon.com)

As some of you know I am in a writer's group. This, THIS book is one of my writing partner's first books. So exciting!! Becca worked incredibly hard on this book and having read it several times, I can confidently say that I am super proud to have been a part of her journey to publication.

BUT...on to the book. This book would actually make a really great summer read so it's timely that it's just out now. :)  It has adventure. It has romance. It has, well...a dripping, hot knight with a wicked sense of humor. How can you go wrong?

Fan of Princess Bride? Then you NEED to read this book. It has the same tongue in cheek humor and homage to the fantasy genre. I laughed, I cried a little, then I almost shot tea right out of my nose when the next snarky spot hit.  I loved so much of this book...I kind of wish I'd written it myself! LOL.

Sea monsters
Hot knights
Dragon rides
Spiders in the Loo
Princesses in Comas
One bad-@ss  Baba Yaga

These are just some of the (you don't know it, yet, but...) hilarious things you will find in The Secret World of Alaina Downs. If you would like the chance to find out for yourself, you're in luck. I have a brand-y new published copy of  the book to give away! 

To enter, just leave me a comment with your name and email address. If you want for fun, you could also tell me your favorite fantasy hero... I love to learn about some hotties I may have missed in the past, LOL. You  have until Friday, July 20th to enter.  On Saturday, July 21st I will announce the winner chosen via Random.org and they will have until Tues., July  24th to get me their US mailing address so that I can ship  out this fantastic book! 

Good Luck!!  
 Full disclosure: Beta Reader for this book prior to publication

Monday, July 16, 2012

Black Howl






















Black Howl
by Christina Henry
Black Wings, book three

Something is wrong with the souls of Chicago's dead. Ghosts are walking the streets, and Agent of Death Madeline Black's exasperating boss wants her to figure out why. And while work is bad enough, Maddy has a plethora of personal problems too. Now that Gabriel has been assigned as her thrall, their relationship has hit an impasse. At least her sleazy ex-fiance Nathaniel is out of the picture--or so she thinks... (description from Amazon.com)
 
This is one of my go-to just for fun reading series. I love Maddy. She is a tough chickie with too much on her plate who still manages to just get by...usually by the skin of her teeth.  The whole demons thing makes some really interesting plot twists and turns and there is one adorably cranky, sugar-addicted, older gargoyle that I just want to adopt right out of the book!

Urban fiction fans would be well advised to give this series a shot. :)


Sunday, July 15, 2012

Winner - Laini Taylor preview pack!!















I am pleased to announce that the winner of the Laini Taylor BEA preview pack giveaway (via random drawing at random.org) is...

Angie!!

Angie, check your email...and get me your mailing address before the end of the day on Wed, July 18th so that I can get the preview pack out to you ASAP! Congratulations again!

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Anxiously Awaiting...Doomed by Tracy Deebs!

Doomed
by Tracy Deebs

Publication date: Jan. 8, 2013

Beat the game. Save the world.

Pandora’s just your average teen, glued to her cell phone and laptop, surfing Facebook and e-mailing with her friends, until the day her long-lost father sends her a link to a mysterious site featuring twelve photos of her as a child. Unable to contain her curiosity, Pandora enters the site, where she is prompted to play her favorite virtual-reality game, Zero Day. This unleashes a global computer virus that plunges the whole world into panic: suddenly, there is no Internet. No cell phones. No utilities, traffic lights, hospitals, law enforcement. Pandora teams up with handsome stepbrothers Eli and Theo to enter the virtual world of Zero Day. Simultaneously, she continues to follow the photographs from her childhood in an attempt to beat the game and track down her father, her one key to saving the world as we know it. Part The Matrix, part retelling of the Pandora myth, Doomed has something for gaming fans, dystopian fans, and romance fans alike.

Sounds like an awesome reconceptualization of one of my favorite myths...the story of Pandora's Box. I love the dystopian gamer vibe!! 

Friday, July 13, 2012

Timepiece

Timepiece
by Myra McEntire
Hourglass, book two

A threat from the past could destroy the future.
Kaleb Ballard was never supposed to be able to see ripples--cracks in time. Are his powers expanding, or is something very wrong? Before he can find out, Jonathan Landers, the man who tried to murder his father, reappears. Why is he back, and what, or whom, does he want?

In the wake of Landers's return, the Hourglass organization is given an ultimatum by a mysterious man. Either they find Landers and the research he has stolen on people who might carry the time gene, or time will be altered--with devastating results for the people Kaleb loves most. Now Kaleb, Emerson, Michael, and the other Hourglass recruits have no choice but to use their extraordinary powers to find Landers. But where do they even start? And when? Even if they succeed, just finding him may not be enough ... (description from Amazon.com)

Kaleb. Kaleb. Kaleb. Need I say more? If you've read the first book in the series, Hourglass, then I'm sure, like me, you were already half in love with Kaleb.  *THEN* Ms. McEntire had to blow me out of the water by starting this book off with a scene of my piratically-hot Kaleb in an actual pirate costume.  Oh.My.God. I had to fan myself a little while reading.  *Swoon*

Aside from the return of some rockin' romance, some awesome time travel and some amazing plot twists that keep readers on their toes, I cannot tell you how much I appreciated the change of narrator in this book. I loved Emerson and I still do, but Kaleb holds a special place in my lusty thoughts, I mean heart...

Again, I could not put this book down! There were heartbreaking moments, there were spots where I couldn't stop grinning... there was a passage I loved so much that I tweeted it:

From p. 197
"Maybe." The word caught in my throat. How did she see the man that I wanted to be so clearly, instead of the ugliness that was really there?
"Why don't you believe me?"

...and it has another killer ending that is just making me want book three NOW!! Myra McEntire has found a truly devoted fan in me.  :)

Full disclosure: ARCs received from NetGalley and Egmont for review


Book Trailer - The Forsaken



The Forsaken
by Lisa M. Stasse

Doesn't this sound good?  I think I'm adding it to my (already gigantic, LOL) TBR list!!

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Baby Lit Books: Board Books for Brilliant Babies


Little Master Carroll: Alice in Wonderland, A Color Primer 
by Jennifer Adams and Alison Oliver

Little Miss Bronte: Jane Eyre, A Counting Primer
by Jennifer Adams and Alison Oliver

With the perennial popularity of classic writers like Charlotte Brontë and Lewis Carroll, Baby Lit is a fashionable way to introduce your toddler to the world of classic literature. With clever, simple text by Jennifer Adams, paired with stylish design and illustrations by Sugar's Alison Oliver, Little Miss Brontë and Little Master Carroll are a must for every savvy parent's nursery library. (description from Amazon.com)

Okay, I have to tell you right up front...I am not a parent.  I do not have any children of my own, but I am a youth services librarian and I serve children between the ages of, well, birth and eighteen every day at work. I run weekly storytime for ages 3-5 during the school year and I do pajama storytimes.  I also have friends with itty-bitty babies.  SO... though I have no personal reading to my own little baby experience to draw from here, I can give you my experience as an "auntie" and as a librarian in reviewing these books.

When I opened the package with these two books in it, my very first thought was OMG these are so cute!! I want the whole series! Then I took the time to really pour over them critically and I came to several conclusions:

This book series is great for parents with a literary background and a sense of irony. To teach your kids numbers and colors, etc. from the Classics? What a cute idea.  They look great just sitting on your bookshelf...

Which brings me to point number two.  These books look great.  They are visually appealing and are sturdy enough for a baby to play with and "read."


In terms of actual usability for their intended purpose, though, this is where I become torn. For a one on one session with a baby, say if I was babysitting one of my adorable friend's babies, these books would be just fine.  You can turn each page with the little'un and point to what they want you to learn, for example the four towers (pictured above left).  You can count the four towers together.  In a larger storytime, though, it would be much, much harder to have all the kids follow along with some of these pictures.  Also, though the colors are bright and eye catching, to teach a child that the purple bottle is really what we call "purple" would be tough, as the pigments that these book designers chose do not technically match the colors that we teach children in early school years. 


Now, don't think that this means I didn't like these books. As I said, I actually loved these books! I even went and hunted down the Romeo and Juliet one in Barnes and Noble not too long after I received these. For my own personal collection, I kept the Alice in Wonderland one and I gave the Jane Eyre copy to my friend who just had a baby this year.  I think they are wonderful to have in a personal collection and I would even add these to our Library's collection, but we mostly likely would not choose them for a Library storytime. 

Full disclosure: Copies sent by publisher for review


Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Gold Star Interview - Jordan Sonnenblick!

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 Jordan Sonnenblick! I'm so excited. I've loved every one of his books so far, and you can find my original Gold Star Review of his newest book, CURVEBALL: The Year I Lost My Griphere.













Welcome, Jordan! 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 Curveball: The Year I Lost My Grip?

Each of my books takes between twelve and eighteen months from the “eureka” moment to the big nap when I am completely done with the project.  Curveball was probably right around the eighteen-month mark, only because the deadlines happened to be very relaxed.  Publishing is often rush-rush-rush kind of business, but for this particular book, we had about a year between the writing and the publication date.  One very happy result of that was that the publisher, Scholastic, really got to lavish a lot of time and energy on the marketing of the book.  That meant a great cover design, a lot of sending me to conventions to publicize the book, and even an awesome promotional video.  I was thrilled -- writers love it when their publishers do stuff like that for them!


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?

Hmmm ... I would secretly love to write superhero comic books for a year or two.  Marvel, are you listening? *LOL, I would vote for that!!*

3.      I really loved how you explored Alzheimer ’s disease, which affects so many families, in a touching and informative way, yet without sounding like a medical textbook.  Was this based on research or personal experience?

Unfortunately, I didn’t have to do much research.  My maternal grandfather, Solomon Feldman (who, incidentally, was also the inspiration for the character of Solomon Lewis in my book Notes from the Midnight Driver) was a dementia patient, and almost everything that happens with the grandfather in Curveball happened with him.  Watching a loved one succumb to dementia is an awful, awful thing.  Of course, it’s also a source of heightened emotion all around -- lots of laughter and love in with the terror and tears -- which means it’s a great source of literary material.  And I suppose I keep coming back to my grandfather’s story because it’s personally cathartic.  Dementia is so painful that I am still coming to grips with the slow loss of this man -- who was really my hero and mentor, both in his life before he started losing his mind, and in the courage of his fight right up to the end. *Thank you for sharing such a personal story with us. I'm glad he was able to inspire you!*

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

As soon as my first book, Drums, Girls, and Dangerous Pie was published in 2004, my bucket list became obsolete.  My dreams in life were to live abroad, get married, have healthy kids, and write a book.  Now everything else is just gravy.

Still, I suppose if some producer felt like making a blockbuster movie based on one of my novels, that would be A-OK with me.

5.      Quick picks list:
Favorite vacation destination? 

London or San Francisco; I’m a city person. 

Favorite childhood book? 

The Dark Is Rising, by Susan Cooper. 

Favorite writing snack food? 

Coffee, although I admit it’s not technically a food -- but it has more calories than most foods by the time I am done dumping cream and sugar in it. 

Favorite clothing item? 

Well, for writing, I like to wear any one of the dozens of middle-school t-shirts I have been given during school visits.  They help me feel connected to my characters.

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

For more information about Jordan and his books, check out his website at http://www.jordansonnenblick.com/


Tuesday, July 10, 2012

BEA Giveaway #2 - Laini Taylor Preview

Fans of Laini Taylor, pay attention!!
I have here one Laini Taylor preview pack that contains a paperback copy of Daughter of Smoke and Bone and a chapter sampler from the upcoming sequel. Days of Blood and Starlight doesn't come out until November, so our lucky winner will be able to whet their appetite for Laini's gorgeous prose while they wait anxiously for it to come out...

SO, how do you win?
Simple.  Comment with your name and email address.  That's it! I will pick one winner using random.org at the end of the day on Sat., July 14th and announce the winner on Sunday, July 15th. That winner will have until Wed., July 18th to get me their mailing address (US only, sorry!) so that I can mail their prize.

Good luck!! 

Cover Craving... Clockwork Princess by Cassandra Clare!

Clockwork Princess
by Cassandra Clare
Infernal Devices, book three

Publication date: March 2013

In Clockwork Princess, Tessa and her companions travel all over the world as they race to stop the clockwork army before it's too late. As Jem's health worsens alarmingly and his friends search desperately for a cure, can Tessa choose between the two boys she loves — even if it means never seeing the other one again?

OMG. I *LOVE* this cover...it is gorgeous. I love the dress and the glowing book. I just want to frame this and put it on the wall in my writing nook.  Kudos to the designers!!

Monday, July 9, 2012

Mini Reviews - The Secrets of the Immortal Nicholas Flamel













The Warlock
by Michael Scott
The Secrets of the Immortal Nicholas Flamel, book five

In the fifth installment of this bestselling series, the twins of prophesy have been divided, and the end is finally beginning.

With Scatty, Joan of Arc, Saint Germain, Palamedes, and Shakespeare all in Danu Talis, Sophie is on her own with the ever-weakening Nicholas and Perenelle Flamel. She must depend on Niten to help her find an immortal to teach her Earth Magic. The surprise is that she will find her teacher in the most ordinary of places. (description from Amazon.com)

Full disclosure: Signed copy received at BEA 2011




 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
The Enchantress
by Michael Scott
The Secrets of the Immortal Nicholas Flamel, book six
 
The two that are one must become the one that is all. One to save the world, one to destroy it.


San Francisco:
Nicholas and Perenelle Flamel have one day left to live, and one job left to do. They must defend San Francisco. The monsters gathered on Alcatraz Island have been released and are heading toward the city. If they are not stopped, they will destroy everyone and everything in their path.

But even with the help of two of the greatest warriors from history and myth, will the Sorceress and the legendary Alchemyst be able to defend the city? Or is it the beginning of the end of the human race?

Danu Talis:
Sophie and Josh Newman traveled ten thousand years into the past to Danu Talis when they followed Dr. John Dee and Virginia Dare. And it’s on this legendary island that the battle for the world begins and ends.

Scathach, Prometheus, Palamedes, Shakespeare, Saint-Germain, and Joan of Arc are also on the island. And no one is sure what—or who—the twins will be fighting for.  Today the battle for Danu Talis will be won or lost.  But will the twins of legend stand together?

Or will they stand apart—one to save the world and one to destroy it? (description from Amazon.com)

Full disclosure: Finished copy received to review for VOYA

Okay, I read these back to back, so I'm going to review them together...and it's going to be somewhat short and vague because I don't want to spoil the end of the series for anyone.

So, here's the short and sweet version :
This series covers a LOT of action during a short period of time. There are a lot of characters to keep track of...finally in these two books, we get more character development. Especially in Josh and Sophie.  You really begin to feel for the characters and hope they will find their true place in the world. 

Want a book that will surprise you? There are a ton of twists and surprising developments in the final installment of the series. Scott wraps things up in a really fascinating and intricate way.

Fans of the series will be clamboring to finish this series and I don't think that anyone will be disappointed...

Sunday, July 8, 2012

Scary School



















Scary School
by Derek the Ghost 

You think your school's scary?


Get a load of these teachers:

Ms. Fang, an 850-year-old vampire
Dr. Dragonbreath, who just might eat you before recess
Mr. Snakeskin—science class is so much more fun when it's taught by someone who's half zombie
Mrs. T—break the rules and spend your detention with a hungry Tyrannosaurus rex!

Plus gargoyles, goblins, and Frankenstein's monster on the loose, the world's most frighteningly delicious school lunch, and the narrator's an eleven-year-old ghost!

Join Charles "New Kid" Nukid as he makes some very Scary friends—including Petunia, Johnny, and Peter the Wolf—and figures out that Scary School can be just as funny as it is spooky! (description from Amazon.com)

What a cute start to a new "scary" but not too scary series. This would be great for kids who are desperate  to read Stine's Goosebumps series, but perhaps aren't quite ready yet. Then this would also segue really well  into these same kids reading Harrison's Monster High series when they got a  little older. 

With scary, but funny teachers, a weirdly fascinating and dangerous school, and kid characters that you immediately want to befriend,  this book was a quick and FUN read! Narrator and ghost, Derek, walks  us through the school year, introducing both teachers and classmates.  I  loved that there was a girl named Frank (that's pronounced RACHEL!) and that the school Librarian is a dinosaur and that the gourmet school lunches are cooked up by a giant octopus! One of my favorite scenes was when the half-dead sports coach gives a special anatomy lesson by peeling off his skin so that students can see his internal organs!

With a surprisingly good "moral" about friendship, Scary School begins a series that is sure to find fans among the chapterbook set! Book two,  Monsters on the March also just came out on June 26th.

Full disclosure: Review copy set to me by the author

Friday, July 6, 2012

Anxiously Awaiting... Scarlet by Marissa Meyer!

Scarlet
by Marissa Meyer
The Lunar Chronicles, book two

Publication date: Jan 3, 2013

From the USA today exclusive cover reveal:
Due out in early 2013 from Macmillan, Scarlet is the second book in Meyer's The Lunar Chronicles young-adult series. Cinder reappears in the next futuristic tweaking of a familiar fairy tale — as does Prince Kai, the evil lunar ruler Queen Levana, and a heap of intergalactic intrigue.
Debuting in the new book, however, is Scarlet Benoit, a young French woman who enlists the services of a street fighter named Wolf when she finds her grandmother, a former military pilot, gone missing.
Two more fairy-tale fantasies will follow Scarlet, including Cress (2014), Meyer's take on the Rapunzel legend, and the Snow White-inspired conclusion, Winter (2015).

I CANNOT WAIT.  I loved Cinder and I think all the rest of the books also sound fabulous!

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

The Garden Intrigue

The Garden Intrigue
by Lauren Willig
The Secret History of the Pink Carnation, book nine


Secret agent Augustus Whittlesby has spent a decade undercover in France, posing as an insufferably bad poet. The French surveillance officers can't bear to read his work closely enough to recognize the information drowned in a sea of verbiage.

New York-born Emma Morris Delagardie is a thorn in Augustus's side. An old school friend of Napoleon's stepdaughter, she came to France with her uncle, the American envoy; eloped with a Frenchman; and has been rattling around the salons of Paris ever since. Widowed for four years, she entertains herself by drinking too much champagne, holding a weekly salon, and loudly critiquing Augustus's poetry.

As Napoleon pursues his plans for the invasion of England, Whittlesby hears of a top-secret device to be demonstrated at a house party at Malmaison. The catch? The only way in is with Emma, who has been asked to write a masque for the weekend's entertainment.

Emma is at a crossroads: Should she return to the States or remain in France? She'll do anything to postpone the decision-even if it means teaming up with that silly poet Whittlesby to write a masque for Bonaparte's house party. But each soon learns that surface appearances are misleading. In this complicated masque within a masque, nothing goes quite as scripted- especially Augustus's feelings for Emma. (description from Amazon.com)

Oh, but do I love this series! It is wonderful historical fiction full of intrigue, romance, and strong characters both male and female.  I have learned more about the dealings between England and France during this time period from Lauren Willig than I ever did in school...

I love the descriptions of the dresses, the parties, the social ettiquettes, and of course, the spy codes. I love seeing smart women not only assist, but often outsmart their male counterparts.  I love it all. 

This particular volume in the series not only continued the trend of great characters, but also showed a great glimpse into a fascinating period in Napolean Bonaparte's "career."  It was so interesting to see what life would have been like as a part of his household while he became Emperor in France.  I loved seeing the connections between the politics, the parties, and the inventions of the period.

As for the next book, I *cannot* wait to see what happens to Eloise and Colin as she finds her time in England drawing to a close.  As always, their continuing story makes up all my absolute favorite bits in each book. 

Full disclosure: ARC originally received from NetGalley.