Tuesday, April 30, 2013



by Sharon Flake

Autumn and Adonis have nothing in common and everything in common. Autumn is outgoing and has lots of friends. Adonis is shy and not so eager to connect with people. But even with their differences, the two have one thing in common--they're each dealing with a handicap. For Autumn, who has a learning disability, reading is a painful struggle that makes it hard to focus in class. But as her school’s most aggressive team wrestler, Autumn can take down any problem. Adonis is confined to a wheelchair. He has no legs. He can't walk or dance. But he’s a strong reader who loves books. Even so, Adonis has a secret he knows someone like Autumn can heal.

In time, Autumn and Adonis are forced to see that our greatest weaknesses can turn into the assets that forever change us and those we love. (description from

I actually was not that fond of this book. 

 While I liked the fact that Autumn liked Adonis and didn't care at all that he's in a wheelchair, Adonis was pretty much a jerk through the whole book. Even when he comes to appreciate her for who she is, he still wants to keep it a secret that he likes her. No girl should have to settle for that. 

 I also had a hard time reading this book in Autumn's voice, because I kept correcting her speech in my head (example - she would say "I don't read good and teacher keep pushin'" and in my head I would read the sentence then replay it in my head as "I can't read that well and my teacher keeps pushing me to try harder."). It just became exhausting. Ugh.

Not on my recommended list.

Full disclosure: Borrowed through interlibrary loan

Friday, April 26, 2013

My Obsession with French Bulldogs

So, lately I have become obsessed with the cuteness that is the French Bulldog!!

How could you not love a face like this??  They are adorable and almost pocket-sized! I just want to adopt one and be able to smoosh it's face and pick it up and carry it and snuggle it on the couch watching tv and...okay, okay, yes I know I'm getting a little carried away. Anyway, you get the idea. I'm a *little* obsessed at the moment.

So, what does a librarian do when they become obsessed with something? Read and research, of course!!

First, I found this hilarious little book on our donations cart at work, so I just HAD to take it home to browse through for a few days before it went into our book sale.

Is that not the funniest thing ever? This author seriously discusses dressing all these dogs up "appropriately" for various events and doggy playdates. LOL.  I just basically kept flipping through the pictures and thinking how adorable Daisy the Frenchie looked!

Then I decided to get a little more serious in my reading and I not only read about French Bulldogs online, but I also took out a book, granted it's a kids' book, but still it has all the basic info, from the library to read.

So, I learned that the average French Bulldog only gets to be about 25 pounds (perfect for carrying!), they live to be about 12 years old, they are playful, affectionate, and ummm...yes, adorable!!

They do have some potential health issues, but then what breed doesn't? work on my husband so that someday I can adopt one... *plots*

And just for fun, another cute puppy pic!! AWWWW!!!

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Wonder Show

Wonder Show 
by Hannah Barnaby

Ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls, step inside Mosco’s Traveling Wonder Show, a menagerie of human curiosities and misfits guaranteed to astound and amaze! But perhaps the strangest act of Mosco’s display is Portia Remini, a normal among the freaks, on the run from McGreavy’s Home for Wayward Girls, where Mister watches and waits. He said he would always find Portia, that she could never leave. Free at last, Portia begins a new life on the bally, seeking answers about her father’s disappearance. Will she find him before Mister finds her? It’s a story for the ages, and like everyone who enters the Wonder Show, Portia will never be the same. (description from

Okay, okay...the girl who vowed never to read circus-themed books again must change her tune... I really enjoyed this one! I liked the historical setting and the gentle way that the "freaks" are part of the story.  They each have their own issues, both physical and emotional, but they are not as blatantly "freaky," I guess you would say, as they would be in an adult book.  I loved seeing how while Portia was at first overwhelmed and intimidated by their presence, she came to appreciate them all and be folded into part of their family. In fact, I loved Portia's determination to create her own fate and to find a family, even if eventually it's not her birth family.   

I thought this book had a great tone.  Historical, yet completely relatable in theme, with a strong main character.  I can't wait to see what Barnaby writes next... 

Full disclosure: Borrowed from my Library

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

City of a Thousand Dolls

City of a Thousand Dolls 
by Miriam Forster
The Bhinian Empire, book one

Nisha was abandoned at the gates of the City of a Thousand Dolls when she was just a little girl. Now sixteen, she lives on the grounds of the isolated estate, where orphan girls apprentice as musicians, healers, courtesans, and, if the rumors are true, assassins. She makes her way as Matron's errand girl, her closest companions the mysterious cats that trail her shadow. Only when she begins a forbidden flirtation with the city's handsome young courier does she let herself imagine a life outside the walls. Until one by one, girls around her start to die.

Before she becomes the next victim, Nisha decides to uncover the secrets that surround the girls' deaths. But by getting involved, Nisha jeopardizes not only her own future in the City of a Thousand Dolls—but also her life. (Description from

I really enjoyed this book.  Forster introduces a new world where the eastern influences of our Asian cultures are highly evident but the fact that the world is also completely cut off from anywhere else gives it its own unique presence.  There also used to be magic in this world, though it has now disappeared... 

Nisha is an interesting main character. While there were moments that I grew somewhat frustrated because she could not see what was happening when I had already figured things out, I have to give her credit for her reactions once she did.  This is not a girl to take things lying down.  She refuses to let others decide her life.  She is gutsy, bold, independent, and her stubbornness and loyalty take her a long way.  She also has a strict sense of right and wrong that I highly admire. I cannot wait to see where the second book in the series will take her.  

The audio book is well paced and read in such a way that I could not wait to get back into the car each day to discover new layers of this world and to be pulled deeper into the mystery surrounding Nisha and the City of a Thousand Dolls. 

Full disclosure: Audio book received from SLJ for review

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Guest Post - Celebrating Shakespeare's Upcoming Birthday with the Authors of the "Twisted Lit" Series

Hello All!  
You might remember that a while ago, I reviewed the book Tempestuous by Kim Askew and Amy Helmes, the first book in the "Twisted Lit" series.  (You can check out my review here) Their series is a fun new, modern take on Shakespeare's works.

In honor of William Shakespeare’s birthday (celebrated on April 26), authors Kim Askew and Amy Helmes, have dropped by with a guest blog post to announce a special contest!

Get A “Twisted Lit” Character Named After You!

We reimagined William Shakespeare’s “The Tempest” and “Macbeth,” with our “compulsively readable” YA books, Tempestuous and Exposure. Ever since the novels were published a few months ago through Merit Press we’ve encountered a frequent question: Which of Shakespeare’s plays will inspire your next books in the Twisted Lit series? 

While we’re currently hard at work putting our own spin on the Bard’s “Romeo and Juliet” we thought we’d look to you, the readers, to help us pick the fourth Shakespeare play that will inspire our next book in the series. Got a hankering for a new spin on “Hamlet?” Love to see “King Lear” get a YA update? Would you make much ado over our take on “Much Ado About Nothing?”

Go to our Facebook page ( and write on our wall to weigh in on which Shakespeare play you’d like us to revamp next. In doing so, you’ll be entered to have your very own name mentioned in one of our upcoming books (either as a character or some other fun reference). If you’ve always wanted to see your name in print — in a YA novel, no less — now’s your chance! The winner will also receive autographed copies of our first two novels, Tempestuous and Exposure.

We’re looking forward to hearing your suggestions! (And don’t forget to follow us on twitter at @kaskew and @amyhelmes.)

* Winner will not be compensated for use of his or her name, and publication is not guaranteed. Details of plot and character used in connection with the name as it appears in the book are up to the sole discretion of the authors. Contest ends June 1. 

Kim & Amy

Monday, April 22, 2013

Monday's Movie and TV Talk! (9)

Welcome to Monday's Movie and TV Talk! I don't know if I'll do this every Monday, or just sporadically on Mondays, but I LOVE TV and movies, so I figured why not add some of that to the blog for fun?? It'll be especially awesome when I can tie things into the YA book world... 

This past week, I went to see The Host with my friend, Danielle. I was both STOKED and sort of nervous.  You have to understand that The Host by Stephenie Meyer is one of my *top five favorite books of all time*... That's a lot for a movie to live up to...and we all know how movie adaptations seem to go, LOL. 

Movie Description
A parasitic alien soul is injected into the body of Melanie Stryder. Instead of carrying out her race’s mission of taking over the Earth, ‘Wanda’ (as she comes to be called) forms a bond with her host and sets out to aid other free humans.

So, here's what I thought.  

Overall I pretty much loved the movie.  I thought they did a great job adapting it to the screen...but I know that part of my reaction came from having read the book first.  I read some reviews that thought the movie didn't have enough action and was too focused on the emotional relationships between characters (with too much kissing...LOL), but those people have obviously never read the book.  The book itself delves pretty deeply into the relationships between the characters precisely because the author was trying to define what makes us human, and what love truly looks like.  

Visually, the movie was stunning.  The alien creatures were fascinatingly both beautiful and well, alien.  Their appearance once they took over the human hosts was well defined through calm demeanor, slower movements, and sort of a 1950's vibe in clothing and interpersonal interactions...I loved, too, how the Seekers were only ever in white and drove around in pure silver vehicles. It induced an almost clinically cold feeling when you were watching their scenes. 

I thought Saorise Ronin did a fantastic job as Melanie/Wanderer.She was almost like two different people when she was acting the memories of Melanie's life and then when she was actively inhabited by Wanda. They did a great job with her voiceovers (everytime Melanie spoke inside Wanda's head). There was no awkwardness like the actress couldn't quite match up the timing. It really was as if she had two personalities interacting throughout the movie.  

While at first I had been unsure of the casting for Ian (Jake Abel - who I tend to think of as an actor who plays not-so-good guys...) I found myself completely sucked in by his character...again. Ian is the first ever adult book crush that I had. *Spoiler Alert* In fact, one of the biggest problems I had with the movie was that they altered the scene that absolutely melted my heart where Ian holds Wanda in her true form and still finds her beautiful... I missed that moment! 

*Spoiler Alert!*
The only other problem I really had was the transition from Wanda being in Melanie's body to the new girl at the end. While I was reading the book because I was so emotionally invested it did not feel quite as jarring or perfectly poised to solve all of the characters' problems... but when you see it in the movie, it almost feels like a cop-out.  Oh, you are choosing to sacrifice yourself and leave so Melanie and her family can be happy? Oh, Look! We found a new body for you... you have to take it or she'll die... and look, now you and Ian can live happily ever after...  It just was ending.  (And Emily Browning, while I love you in everything else you've done, I wasn't quite feeling you in this role...sorry!) 

However, aside from those small issues, I found myself totally sucked into a fabulous story again and I will absolutely be buying this on DVD when it comes out. :)

Has anyone else seen it? What did you think?

Sunday, April 21, 2013

This Week's Library Loot (11)

Library Loot is a weekly event co-hosted by Claire fromThe Captive Reader and Marg from The Adventures of an Intrepid Reader that encourages bloggers to share the books they’ve checked out from the library. If you’d like to participate, just write up your post-feel free to steal the button-and link it using the Mr. Linky any time during the week. And of course check out what other participants are getting from their libraries!

My Library Loot:

by Bethany Frenette

by Lindsey Leavitt

So, that's what I picked up at my Library this week... did you swing by yours?

Friday, April 19, 2013

Movie Trailer - Catching Fire

I know you've probably already seen this, but just in case you haven' is the first official trailer for The Hunger Games: Catching Fire, coming out this November!

I know I'll be seeing it in the theater...will you?

Thursday, April 18, 2013

April Bookworms Meeting - The Humming Room by Ellen Potter

This past Thursday we had our fourth meeting of the 4th & 5th grade book club - The BOOKWORMS - at our library. For the April meeting, the kids chose to read THE HUMMING ROOM. It is a modern day retelling of Frances Hodgson Burnett's The Secret Garden.

Book Description
Hiding is Roo Fanshaw’s special skill. Living in a frighteningly unstable family, she often needs to disappear at a moment’s notice. When her parents are murdered, it’s her special hiding place under the trailer that saves her life.

As it turns out, Roo, much to her surprise, has a wealthy if eccentric uncle, who has agreed to take her into his home on Cough Rock Island. Once a tuberculosis sanitarium for children of the rich, the strange house is teeming with ghost stories and secrets. Roo doesn’t believe in ghosts or fairy stories, but what are those eerie noises she keeps hearing? And who is that strange wild boy who lives on the river? People are lying to her, and Roo becomes determined to find the truth.

Despite the best efforts of her uncle’s assistants, Roo discovers the house’s hidden room—a garden with a tragic secret.

I really enjoyed this retelling and both the girls and our boy participant enjoyed it, as well. One had even read The Secret Garden before so she understood the parallels the author made in this new version.  We had a lot of fun talking about family relationships, friendships, and the start of what could become romance. (They made laugh, claiming I was turning the whole book into a soap opera...LOL)  

To start the program, we again did our trivia contest, with a blowpop to the winner and some consolatory tootsie rolls to the "non-winners." Then I had a list of discussion questions that we talked about. Here are a couple quick examples:

*What do you think Roo thinks of herself in the beginning of the story? Does her opinion change over time?

*How are Roo and her uncle alike? What about Roo and Phillip?

*Why does Phillip dislike Jack at first? How do his feelings change?

I'm always amazed at how intuitive these kids can be about certain topics. They even picked up on some things that I may have missed, partially because I am an adult reader, rather than a child... I love hearing their perspectives and getting to facilitate their discussions!

We finished out our meeting by decorating some bio-degradable "jiffy pots." 

 I also gave them seeds that they could go home and plant in their pots, so they could add to their own gardens. It was a fun time and perfectly timed for one of our spring meetings, too! 

Next Month: PRAIRIE EVERS by Ellen Airgood 

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Mini Reviews: The Prequel Novella Edition

Among the Nameless Stars
by Diana Peterfreund
Prequel to For Darkness Shows the Stars

Before Kai joined the Cloud Fleet, he wandered…

Four years before the events of FOR DARKNESS SHOWS THE STARS, the servant Kai left the North Estate, the only home he’d ever known, and Elliot North, the only girl he ever loved, in search of a better life. But the journey was not an easy one.

Featuring narrow escapes, thrilling boat races and at least one deadly volcanic wasteland. (description from

I loved getting to see things directly from Kai's perspective as he was taking himself out into the world.  Even though this novella is short, Peterfreund packs a lot of information about the world and Kai's situation into it, giving it a lot of depth.  Things are not easy...that's for sure. 

The Prince 
by Kiera Cass
Prequel to The Selection 

Before thirty-five girls were chosen to compete in the Selection . . .
Before Aspen broke America’s heart . . .
There was another girl in Prince Maxon’s life. . . .
(description from

Another prequel from the guy's perspective! I love the idea of getting inside Maxon's head. I loved finding out that he really was intrigued by America from the start...not just because she was refreshing in her refusal to bow and scrape for him, but also because he really found her attractive inside and out... makes me SOOO anxious for The Elite! 

Full disclosure: Both novellas were purchased for my Nook

Tuesday, April 16, 2013


by Lauren DeStefano
The Chemical Garden Trilogy, book three

With the clock ticking until the virus takes its toll, Rhine is desperate for answers. After enduring Vaughn’s worst, Rhine finds an unlikely ally in his brother, an eccentric inventor named Reed. She takes refuge in his dilapidated house, though the people she left behind refuse to stay in the past. While Gabriel haunts Rhine’s memories, Cecily is determined to be at Rhine’s side, even if Linden’s feelings are still caught between them.

Meanwhile, Rowan’s growing involvement in an underground resistance compels Rhine to reach him before he does something that cannot be undone. But what she discovers along the way has alarming implications for her future—and about the past her parents never had the chance to explain. (description from

Okay, it's going to be a little tough to review this book without spoilers since it is the final book in the trilogy (check out my reviews for book one, Wither, and book two, Fever).

This whole series has left me somewhat of an emotional wreck. DeStefano's books are INTENSE.  The way that book two left off gave me shivers and I knew as soon as we got Sever into work I HAD to finish the series, reading responsibilities be damned! I even ended up cheating a little bit by flipping to the last page (WHICH I NEVER DO!) to verify that Rhine doesn't end up dying. I just couldn't take the emotional uncertainty anymore...I had to know that she made it! 

I don't want to give anything else away, but I will say there were huge highs and lows in this book and that overall this has been one of the few dystopian series lately that I have gotten heavily emotionally invested in. The whole premise felt really realistically possible and I think that I will remember these books for a long time. 

Full disclosure: Borrowed from my Library

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

What's On My Hold List?

Welcome to the April 2013 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 Bethany Frenette

by Lindsey Leavitt

by Carolyn Hennesy

by Rachel Hawkins

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??

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Curses! Foiled Again

Curses! Foiled Again
by Jane Yolen
illus by Mike Cavallaro

Aliera Carstairs is back. This time she's got her cousin—and best friend—Caroline in tow, and the stakes are higher than ever. The realm of Seelie, the fairy kingdom of which Aliera is the hereditary defender, is under attack, and only Aliera and Caroline can set things right. Caroline, fragile and wheelchair-bound, may seem like more of a liability than an asset, but Aliera knows there's more to her quiet cousin than meets the eye. (Description from

I really like the books in this series. I love Yolen's storyline. Aliera is a strong main character. Even as she's bewildered and hesitant to become the "Defender," she still will fight for what she believes is right...and she's a total kick-butt kind of girl with a sword!! LOL.

I love the illustration style, too. Not only are Cavallaro's characters easy to recognize and the panels are easy to follow, but he does this neat thing where the "regular" world is black and white, but anything magical is in color. Take a look:

Okay, I have no idea why this posted sideways, but I think you get the idea anyway, right?? LOL.

I just think it really stands out the way that the illustrated decided to highlight all of the magical beings and events through color. It makes them jump right off the page... very cool.

I can't wait to see where the adventure takes us in the next book of the series!
Full disclosure: Borrowed from my Library

Monday, April 8, 2013

2013 ABNA Update #2

Sorry guys! I thought I would be able to give you more updates through the judging process this year, but I was BUSY!! Let me catch you up to speed: 

I've mentioned before that I am one of the contracted Quarterfinalist judges for Amazon's Breakthrough Novel Award each year. This year, Amazon decided to open things up more and now there are five categories: General Fiction, Mystery and Thriller, Romance, Science Fiction, Fantasy and Horror, and finally, Young Adult.  This year I am judging in the Science Fiction, Fantasy, and Horror category. 

This year, aside from changing categories, I also changed the *way* that I received my manuscripts... in previous years, I received loose leaf paper manuscripts which I physically flipped through to read, take notes, and basically take up space in my house (LOL).  So, this year when the option to receive the manuscripts as Kindle documents was offered, I jumped at the chance.  Now some of you may know that my ereader is actually a why on earth did I accept Kindle manuscripts?  Well, because I have a Kindle app on my phone and figured that would be just as easy...and less bulky to carry around. 

And...I was sort of right.  It was GREAT not having to carry around the equivalent of two or three reams worth of paper while reading.  I'm one of those people who can read just fine on an ereader, so having the electronic copies didn't bother me at all.  Being able to highlight in the text and then just check for my highlighted "notes" like bookmarks was amazing...I didn't have to physically flip through an entire manuscript each time to verify info I used in my reviews. BUT... I wasn't able to transfer my manuscripts to the Kindle Cloud app where I could have read them on my computer (which would have made things even easier sometimes!) and I found that trying to read on my phone while laying in bed pretty much sent me straight off to dreamland... 

All in all, though, I think I will do the same thing next year... if I don't enter the ABNA contest myself! (I keep considering that...and I might be ready next year...I don't know...) 

So, what did I read this year? Well, I can't tell you much because we have to wait for the results of the judging, but here's a little teaser for each manuscript: 

Novel 1 - A scifi story with an alien presence that speculates that humans use of genetic manipulation is slowly causing the species to lose its ability to naturally survive...

Novel 2 - A dark fantasy where a grieving girl is taken to another world only to be pursued by a murderous being... 

Novel 3 - A scifi story where a girl strives to outdo her wildly successful, but cold half-brother who is secretly pursuing his own agenda...

Novel 4 - An alternate history following Napoleon's escape from Elba Island in a world where magic influenced the outcome of the war... 

Novel 5 - (My favorite of this year's bunch) A murder mystery set out west, told from the perspective of the ghost who ends up trying to find the murderer in order to save the living girl he's haunting... 

So, this year's quarterfinal judging is officially over today...and as always, I feel both accomplished..and EXHAUSTED, LOL.  I can't wait to find out which manuscripts make it to the next round...and I'll be VERY interested to see what happens in the finals!   Until next year... 

Friday, April 5, 2013

Winner - Geography Club Giveaway!

I am pleased to announce that the winner of the Geography Club Giveaway (via rafflecopter) is...


Kimberly, check your email...and get me your mailing address before the end of the day on Wednesday, April 10th so that I can get the book mailed out to you ASAP! Congratulations again! 

Movie Trailer - Percy Jackson: Sea of Monsters

While I didn't *hate* the first Percy Jackson movie, it definitely did not live up to my love for the book...
This trailer for the second movie, though, looks like they've made some improvements!! I can't wait to see it and find out. What do you think?

Thursday, April 4, 2013

The Shadow Girl

The Shadow Girl 
by Jennifer Archer

For as long as Lily Winston can remember, she has never been alone. Iris, a shadowy figure who mimics Lily's movements and whispers in her ear, is with her always -- but invisible to the rest of the world. Iris is Lily's secret. But when Lily's father is killed in a tragic accident, his cryptic final words suggest that he and Lily's mother have been hiding secrets of their own. Suddenly, Iris begins pushing Lily more than ever, possessing her thoughts and urging her to put together the pieces of a strange puzzle her father left behind. As she searches for answers, Lily finds herself drawn to Ty Collier, a mysterious new boy in town. Together, Lily and Ty must untangle a web of deception to discover the truth about her family, Iris -- and Lily's own identity.

When I picked this book up, I wasn't quite sure what to expect.  I was very pleasantly surprised to find that this book sucked me in immediately.  It reads really easily and Archer builds suspense beautifully, revealing small secrets one by one, building Lily’s discoveries into one culminating life-altering event. Intermingled within the mystery of Lily’s identity are also her conflicting feelings for Wyatt and Ty, as well as her guilt and grief over her father’s death. 

As the story concludes and Lily determines where she will go from here, the only detraction is one confrontation that seemed to be looming, but never actually comes to fruition. Aside from that, Lily’s story is a well-done blend of suspense, mystery, and romance. I just can't help but wonder if there might be a sequel down the pike that will explore Lily's future choices? I hope so... 

Full disclosure: ARC received to review for SLJ

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Discovering Your "Brand" of on YALSA's the Hub

I'd love it if you all went over to the Hub today to check out my post, Discovering Your "Brand" of Fantasy. It's all about the various sub-genres within the larger Fantasy genre and how to better pick out books you might enjoy.  I'm pretty proud of this post.  Hope you like it!!