Saturday, June 29, 2013

One Came Home

One Came Home
by Amy Timberlake

In the town of Placid, Wisconsin, in 1871, Georgie Burkhardt is known for two things: her uncanny aim with a rifle and her habit of speaking her mind plainly.

But when Georgie blurts out something she shouldn't, her older sister Agatha flees, running off with a pack of "pigeoners" trailing the passenger pigeon migration. And when the sheriff returns to town with an unidentifiable body—wearing Agatha's blue-green ball gown—everyone assumes the worst. Except Georgie. Refusing to believe the facts that are laid down (and coffined) before her, Georgie sets out on a journey to find her sister. She will track every last clue and shred of evidence to bring Agatha home. Yet even with resolute determination and her trusty Springfield single-shot, Georgie is not prepared for what she faces on the western frontier. (Description from

I enjoyed Georgie's story a lot more than I had thought I would. I was worried the whole book was going to be about pigeons. Ugh. No, this book is about a girl who can shoot a thumb right off a man and uses her spunk to track down the sister that everyone believes is dead.

Georgie was pretty awesome. She's a girl who speaks her mind, she's smart, and she shoots a gun better than most men. In fact, I loved reading about her at fourteen and I would love to read a follow-up book when she's a couple of years older. I think things could get reallyinteresting in Georgie's life when she's around eighteen.

Historical fiction fans, western fans, adventure fans, mystery fans I would recommend this book to all of you.

Full disclosure: Borrowed from my library 

Friday, June 28, 2013

Guitar Notes

Guitar Notes
by Mary Amato

On odd days, Tripp Broody uses a school practice room to let loose on a borrowed guitar. Eyes closed, strumming that beat-up instrument, Tripp escapes to a world where only the music matters.

On even days, Lyla Marks uses the same practice room. To Tripp, she’s trying to become even more perfect—she’s already a straight-A student and an award-winning cellist. But when Lyla begins leaving notes for him in between the strings of the guitar, his life intersects with hers in a way he never expected.

What starts as a series of snippy notes quickly blossoms into the sharing of interests and secrets and dreams, and the forging of a very unlikely friendship.

Challenging each other to write songs, they begin to connect, even though circumstances threaten to tear them apart. (Description from

I really enjoyed this book! I'm not much of a musician, though I used to play the clarinet eons ago, but I do know what it's like to feel passionately about something and not always have other people understand. Or to have people too much pressure on you just because you are good at something.

I loved the two perspectives of this book and I loved reading the notes that Tripp and Lyla left for each other. It was very cool to see how their friendship developed and how they supported each other completely. I highly recommend this book to any middle or high school age reader!

Full disclosure: Borrowed through interlibrary loan

Thursday, June 27, 2013

Monsters University Party!

Last Friday, I threw a Monsters University party for little monsters aged 6 - 10. While things got a little wild at points, it was a SUPER fun time, and each little monster left with big grins and "Scare Diplomas."

Here's what I did:
We started out by having each little monster pick out a student ID to wear during the party.  They featured both boy and girl monsters from the movie. I had a Faculty badge with my own picture and name on it that I made online. (I also wore my Masters Degree graduation gown for effect at the party and it was super fun because it had the weird-shaped sleeves that kind of looked like tentacles!)

After they'd chosen their IDs, we started our scare classes. We did Scare Skills like "Scare Agility" (which was jumping and scaring, crouching and scaring, etc.), "Vocal Studies" (which included growling, hissing, and roaring), and "Silent Scare Tactics" (I made them sneak up on each other!).

Next, each little monster got the chance to decorate an eyeball and we played "Pin the Eye on Mike." To make my Mike Wazowski poster, I just took a piece of green posterboard and make a round outline with horns and a mouth.

After "Pin the Eye on Mike," we went over and "Fed Sully" (bean bag toss). I made a standing cardboard cutout of Sully by tracing a small picture of Sully, projecting it onto the big piece of cardboard, tracing it, then  painting and reoutlining him.  Once he was done, I cut out three holes for the bean bag toss and tied him to a chair with fishing line to keep him standing up during the toss.

Finally, my little monsters and I finished up the party by eating some eyeball cookies (store bought sugar cookies with "Sully" blue or "Mike Wazowski" green frosting. Delicious and monstrous!

As each little monster left, I awarded them their "Scare Diploma" with either their monster name (from their ID) or their "regular" name on it.  Big grins all around!

Though Professor Jessica was exhausted at the end of the program, the little monsters and their parents were all super happy.  If any of my librarian friends have any questions, please let me know and I'll answer whatever I can/share templates/etc!

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

ABNA Author Interview - Rysa Walker

Today, I am super excited to welcome the newly announced 2013 ABNA grand-prize winner, Rysa Walker, to the blog. I was so excited that the YA finalist entry won the whole shebang! 

Author Bio:
RYSA WALKER grew up on a cattle ranch in the South. Her options for entertainment were talking to cows and reading books. (Occasionally, she would mix things up a bit and read books to cows.) On the rare occasion that she gained control of the television, she watched Star Trek and imagined living in the future, on distant planets, or at least in a town big enough to have a stop light.

When not writing, she teaches history and government in North Carolina, where she shares an office with her husband, who heroically pays the mortgage each month, and a golden retriever named Lucy. She still doesn't get control of the TV very often, thanks to two sports-obsessed kids.
(Taken from

Some of you know that I help to judge the Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award each year.  This year, the format for announcing the winners changed.  With five finalists, one each in five different judging categories, only one of the finalists would be announced the grand prize winner. Though I did not personally judge her book, Timebound, for this year's competition, I was super excited when they announced that the YA book finalist had won the whole contest! Congrats to Rysa, it's an amazing accomplishment! 

Rysa very graciously agreed to answer a few questions for me on the blog today and I couldn't be more excited to get to share more about her and her work here with you! 

Hi, Jessica! Thanks for inviting me to chat with you at I Read to Relax.

1. How long did it take you, from first spark of idea to entering ABNA to write "Timebound?" 

It was actually a long journey. My son, who will be ten in August, was toddling around in his Elmo slippers when I began writing Timebound. Given the day-to-day challenges of balancing teaching college and two small kids, however, the book was something that I played around with during my rare breaks between classes, and very little writing was actually accomplished until about two and a half years ago. Most of the first draft was written during the spring and summer of 2011, with editing and revision during the fall. I agent-shopped for about a year, before finally deciding to self-publish the book as Time's Twisted Arrow in October, 2012.

2. Since you've won, has your writing/life routine changed?

No major changes yet, because I'm still teaching a class at the University of Maryland's University College this summer. That will wrap up in a couple of weeks, however. After that class ends, I'll be stepping back from teaching to focus almost exclusively on my writing for the next year or so. That's the really great thing about winning the grand prize -- it's given me the flexibility to work on the next books in series this year without having to worry about how bills, including my gargantuan student loans, will be paid.

3. Any advice for aspiring authors out there?

First, believe in yourself, and don't stop knocking on doors just because they keep getting slammed in your face, as they almost certainly will. If you persevere and work hard, one of those doors will be the right one. And if the right door doesn't open, carve one out for yourself. Second, don't stop writing. Whether you set aside certain hours each day to write or, as was the case for me, are often unable to write for days on end, don't stash the manuscript in some folder you never see. Leave it out on your desktop as a visual reminder that there's something you'd rather be doing. If it's out there and visible, odds are good that your imagination will keep working on the idea even during the stretches when your fingers are otherwise occupied.

4. 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?

Hmm. I already write under a pseudonym because no one can spell my actual last name! I'm not sure there are any genres I'd want to explore that would require absolute secrecy -- I don't have a secret desire to write the next Fifty Shades of Gray. The ideas I have for other works are all pretty solidly in the science fiction or fantasy genre. That's what I tend to read today, and really what I've always gravitated toward even as a teen.

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

Having one of my books on the New York Times Bestseller List. That's not something that can happen tomorrow, given that Timebound doesn't debut until October 22nd, but I think the series is in excellent hands with Skyscape and Amazon, so maybe it's not outside the range of the possible for the near future. :)

Thanks again for having me on I Read to Relax. Happy reading!

Rysa, thank YOU for taking the time out of your schedule to stop by! 

When Kate Pierce-Keller’s grandmother gives her a strange blue medallion and speaks of time travel, sixteen-year-old Kate assumes she’s delusional. But it all becomes horrifyingly real when an assassination in the past destroys the foundation of Kate’s present-day life. Suddenly, that medallion is the only thing protecting Kate from ceasing to exist.

Kate learns that the 1893 murder is part of something much more sinister—the plans of a cult leader hell-bent on annihilating all dissenters—and Kate’s genetic ability to time-travel makes her the only one who can stop him. Risking everything, she travels to the Chicago World’s Fair to prevent the killing and bring down the cult.

Changing the time line comes with a personal cost: if Kate succeeds, the boy she loves will have no memory of her existence. And she wonders—regardless of her motives, does she have the right to manipulate the fate of the entire world?

For more information on Rysa Walker and Timebound, you can check out her website here. To preorder a copy of Timebound, you can go here

Monday, June 24, 2013

Gold Star Review - Boy21

by Matthew Quick

You can lose yourself in repetition--quiet your thoughts; I learned the value of this at a very young age.

Basketball has always been an escape for Finley. He lives in broken-down Bellmont, a town ruled by the Irish mob, drugs, violence, and racially charged rivalries. At home, his dad works nights, and Finley is left to take care of his disabled grandfather alone. He's always dreamed of getting out someday, but until he can, putting on that number 21 jersey makes everything seem okay.

Russ has just moved to the neighborhood, and the life of this teen basketball phenom has been turned upside down by tragedy. Cut off from everyone he knows, he won't pick up a basketball, but answers only to the name Boy21--taken from his former jersey number.

As their final year of high school brings these two boys together, a unique friendship may turn out to be the answer they both need. (Description from

This is a book that I never would have picked up without prompting.  It's got a sort-of unappealing cover, it's about basketball and boys that live in a not-so-nice neighborhood. Not my normal type of book. Am I glad, however, that I was forced to pick this one up? YES! 

I sat down to read this and I won't lie, I was pretty much figuring I'd hate it. Instead I found myself totally absorbed, unable to put the book down until long after my regular bedtime, even as my eyes were fighting me, wanting to close.  There is something about the tone of this book that hits it just right.  The story is powerful and haunting and absolutely, heartbreakingly believable.  I finished this book and immediately started recommending it the next think I thought I'd hate it, LOL! 

Yes, there is violence, and yes, it's definitely a book for more mature YA/Adult readers, but I don't think there's a person out there who wouldn't find something in this book relatable or compelling once they started it. Please ignore the cover. Please trust me.  This is an excellent book and I am most definitely awarding it a GOLD STAR. 

Full Disclosure: Borrowed from my library 

Thursday, June 20, 2013

School Spirits


School Spirits
by Rachel Hawkins
Hex Hall series, book four

Fifteen-year-old Izzy Brannick was trained to fight monsters. For centuries, her family has hunted magical creatures. But when Izzy's older sister vanishes without a trace while on a job, Izzy's mom decides they need to take a break.

Izzy and her mom move to a new town, but they soon discover it's not as normal as it appears. A series of hauntings has been plaguing the local high school, and Izzy is determined to prove her worth and investigate. But assuming the guise of an average teenager is easier said than done. For a tough girl who's always been on her own, it's strange to suddenly make friends and maybe even have a crush.

Can Izzy trust her new friends to help find the secret behind the hauntings before more people get hurt? (description from

I full-on love the Hex Hall series.  These books are quick, funny reads.  The first three books, which featured Sophie, wrapped up their own storyline and this book starts a whole new adventure with a great new female lead.  Izzy was brought up to kick some tail.  Like Sam and Dean Winchester, her life and family are both wrapped up in fighting the bad guys. Similarly, Izzy's also lost a family member to the strange, and her grief and guilt over losing Finlay makes doing her job just that little bit harder...

Hawkins manages to take a girl in turmoil throw her into the "fire," toss in some boy confusion, and still leave me smiling as she maneuvers her way out of the mess.  The awkward teen conversations, the sneaky (hawt) glances, the quick, but loving family moments...these are what will keep me reading for as long as Hawkins is writing this series. 

And just a little tidbit to get you favorite quote from the book:    
Oh, gross. He was one of those body-glitter-wearing jerks.
Make the mental note now that Hawkins does not approve of glittery vampires. LOL!

Full disclosure: eARC received from Netgalley

Cover Reveal - Sally Slick and the Steel Syndicate!!

I'm SUPER excited today to be part of Carrie Harris' cover reveal for her newest book, SALLY SLICK AND THE STEEL SYNDICATE! I love all of her books and this one sounds just as great. Want to know more?

Here's the basics:
Release date: December 3, 2013

Book Description:
Every hero has a story. This one starts with a girl and a racing tractor.

Sally Slick knows she’s meant to be more than a Midwestern farm girl. What she wants more than anything is to be an inventor when she grows up—and she has the custom-built racing tractor to prove it. But good girls in 1914 don’t go off to the city in search of adventure. Everything changes when Sally’s big brother comes back from Chicago with a robot in hand and mobsters on his heels. With the help of her friend, wannabe hero Jet Black, Sally will risk everything to protect the people she loves.

Those bad guys are about to get a giant wrench thrown right into their plans.

So, do you want to see it yet??
Here it is...

What do you think of the cover? I'm loving the fact that it doesn't look just like everything else out there right now. This one looks so adventurous... I can't wait to read it!

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children - Paperback Edition

Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children
by Ransom Riggs
A mysterious island.

An abandoned orphanage.

A strange collection of very curious photographs.

It all waits to be discovered in Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children, an unforgettable novel that mixes fiction and photography in a thrilling reading experience. As our story opens, a horrific family tragedy sets sixteen-year-old Jacob journeying to a remote island off the coast of Wales, where he discovers the crumbling ruins of Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children. As Jacob explores its abandoned bedrooms and hallways, it becomes clear that the children were more than just peculiar. They may have been dangerous. They may have been quarantined on a deserted island for good reason. And somehow—impossible though it seems—they may still be alive. 

(Description from

While I first read this book in February 2012, I was lucky enough to be contacted by Quirk Books with the offer to review a paperback copy of the book.  Not only was it really cool to revisit the story which is built around these great creepy historical photographs (see below), but the paperback copy now has some new great things included!

The new paperback copy of the book has even more creepy photographs included, plus an author interview with Ransom Riggs... AND the first chapter of the upcoming sequel, Hollow City (expected publication date is Jan 14, 2014).  I loved getting an inside peek at how Riggs developed the story and a little hint at where it will be going.  After reading the first chapter of the new book, I can't wait to read it! 

Trust me, if you haven't checked out this book yet, you should.  This is the perfect semi-creepy, slightly magical, but still historically set realistic story for readers aged tween and up.  I guarantee you will be as sucked into the story as I was, eagerly turning the pages to find the next intriguing photographs and trying to place them into Jacob's mysterious tale.

Full disclosure: Paperback copy received for review from publisher

The 2013 Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award Winner Was Announced!

Though I did not personally review this book at all, I'm so excited to see that a YA book took the grand prize at this year's ABNA contest.  So cool, I just had to share! 

Here's the official press release:
Rysa Walker Named Grand Prize Winner of the 2013 Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award

Walker, author of the young adult fiction novel Timebound, receives a $50,000 advance and publishing contract with Amazon Publishing

SEATTLE—June 15, 2013—(NASDAQ:AMZN)—The votes are in and Amazon customers have chosen Rysa Walker of Carey, N.C. as the Grand Prize winner of the sixth annual Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award contest for her young adult novel Timebound. The award was announced this evening during a ceremony at the Olympic Sculpture Park in Seattle. Timebound will be released October 22, 2013 by Skyscape—an imprint of Amazon Children’s Publishing—and Walker will receive a $50,000 advance in addition to her publishing contract.

Walker’s Timebound was inspired by her love of history and science fiction and explores how the choices we make affect our future. In the novel, 17-year-old Kate learns that she’s inherited a genetic license to time travel when her grandmother shares a strange blue medallion, an even stranger tale about future historians, and the unshakeable conviction that the fate of half the planet lies in Kate’s hands. The book is now available for pre-order in print and Kindle formats on at

The remaining four category winners, Ken Moraff (General Fiction, It Happened in Wisconsin), Jo Chumas (Mystery/Thriller, The Hidden), Evelyn Pryce (Romance, A Man Above Reproach) and J. Lincoln Fenn (Science Fiction/Fantasy/Horror, POE), each received publishing contracts from Amazon Publishing with a $15,000 advance. Their books will also be released in print and Kindle formats in the fall and can be pre-ordered on Amazon.

“Rysa’s novel is one of those up-til-dawn reads that you just can't put down, so it’s no surprise Amazon customers gave her this award,” said Daphne Durham, Editor-in-Chief, Amazon Publishing. “We are looking forward to sharing all of the 2013 ABNA winners’ books with readers this fall.”

Amazon Publishing is the publishing arm of Amazon Publishing is composed of ten imprints: AmazonEncore, AmazonCrossing, Montlake Romance, Thomas & Mercer, 47North, Little A, Amazon Children’s Publishing (Skyscape & Two Lions), Grand Harbor Press and Amazon Publishing. For more information about all imprints of Amazon Publishing, visit Amazon Publishing is a brand used by Amazon Content Services, LLC.

The 2013 ABNA contest was hosted by Amazon’s CreateSpace, an independent publishing platform enabling authors to create, publish and distribute their books in print worldwide.

For the complete Official Rules for the 2013 Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award and more information, please visit

So very, very cool. Congrats to all the winners, especially Rysa Walker! 

Monday, June 17, 2013

My Must-Reads this Summer

So, today over at the HUB you can see a post that I compiled of videos showing a bunch of our bloggers' most anticipated summer reads. I hope you check it out, but I also just wanted to share my own video here:

Are any of these books on your summer must-read list?  What are you most looking forward to this summer?

Friday, June 14, 2013

Cover Reveal - The Princess and the Stableboy!

SO, my friend Rebecca Rynecki announced on her blog today the (gorgeous) cover and synopsis for her upcoming book, The Princess and the Stableboy. I just had to share...

Isn't it gorgeous.  Totally matches the others in the series and I love the little dragon detail...
As if that weren't enough, check out the back cover!

I love it and it's not just visually appealing, I swear! Here's the synopsis:

Once upon a time, before Alaina fell into Isleen...

There was a kingdom devoid of magic...

Until one day when Astra, the princess of Isleen is awoken by dragons flying by her window. She escapes with the help of Peter, a stableboy who is hiding a few secrets of his own.

The land is thrust into peril. The wizards Uther and Avalon have returned from their banishment by unknown forces, and they are determined to take over once more...even if it means turning most of the people into ogres.

Astra finds herself fighting for her home in an ages old fairy tale of good, evil...and love. 

This one's not coming out until this fall, but in honor of the cover reveal, the other two books in the series, The Secret World of Alaina Downs and The Knight's Ill-Thought Bargain are both .99 from the 14th till the 30th of June! You can find them ready for download at Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and All Romance Ebooks.

A Second 2013 BEA Giveaway!!

First off, CONGRATULATIONS to Ashly from Lost in the Stacks who won the first 2013 BEA giveaway! Now that I've mailed her books off, I decided to host another giveaway to help share the book love. This contest, sadly, will have to be limited to the US so I don't go broke shipping books out.  Sorry!

Here is the entry form:

a Rafflecopter giveaway

...AND... here are the books you can choose from:

Winner gets to choose three of these books: The Screaming Staircase by Jonathan Stroud, Rose Under Fire by Elizabeth Wein, United We Spy by Ally Carter (chapter sampler), (signed) MP3 audio book of Sylvia Day's Entwined with You (adult), The Bone Season by Samantha Shannon, All the Truth That's in Me by Julie Berry, Skin by Donna Jo Napoli, and (signed) Stalked by Death by Kelly Hashway. 


Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Mini Reviews: The Death is Terrifyingly Close Edition

Lair of the Serpent
by T. Lynn Adams
Tombs of Terror, book three

A humanitarian trip to Cambodia turns deadly when Delilah, a young medical volunteer, is kidnapped. When Jonathon arrives in the jungle and discovers that his friend is missing, he recruits the locals to search for her. Every clue points to the followers of the Naga Mani--- a sacred stone with legendary powers that only work with a human sacrifice. With time running out, it's up to Jonathon to rescue Delilah. (Description from

While the premise for this book was very exciting, I found it didn't really capture my attention all that well. It wasn't until Jonathan reached the Naga Mani that I found myself unable to put the book down, and that was pretty much at the end... I think some readers would be totally into it, but it just wasn't the book for me. 

Full disclosure: Review copy received from VOYA 

by Chris Howard 

17-year-old Banyan is a tree builder. Using salvaged scrap metal, he creates forests for rich patrons who seek a reprieve from the desolate landscape. Although Banyan's never seen a real tree--they were destroyed more than a century ago--his missing father used to tell him stories about the Old World. Everything changes when Banyan meets a mysterious woman with a strange tattoo--a map to the last living trees on earth, and he sets off across a wasteland from which few return. Those who make it past the pirates and poachers can't escape the locusts . . . the locusts that now feed on human flesh. But Banyan isn't the only one looking for the trees, and he's running out of time. Unsure of whom to trust, he's forced to make an alliance with Alpha, an alluring, dangerous pirate with an agenda of her own. As they race towards a promised land that might only be a myth, Banyan makes shocking discoveries about his family, his past, and how far people will go to bring back the trees. (Description from

This book drew me in from the first pages.  In Banyan's world the sea has overtaken us, the only food is popcorn, and death lurks around every corner.  I found it utterly dark and captivating.  I look forward to the next book! 

Full disclosure: Borrowed from my library 

by Michael Northrop

The day the blizzard started, no one knew that it was going to keep snowing for a week. That for those in its path, it would become not just a matter of keeping warm, but of staying alive. . . . Scotty and his friends Pete and Jason are among the last seven kids at their high school waiting to get picked up that day, and they soon realize that no one is coming for them. Still, it doesn't seem so bad to spend the night at school, especially when distractingly hot Krista and Julie are sleeping just down the hall. But then the power goes out, then the heat. The pipes freeze, and the roof shudders. As the days add up, the snow piles higher, and the empty halls grow colder and darker, the mounting pressure forces a devastating decision. . . . (Description from

In the same way that I reacted to Pfeffer's Life as We Knew It, this book made me shiver and curl up tight against my doggies.  I found myself so sucked into this book that I read it all at once, unable to turn the pages fast enough. I cried and I honestly worried about how many of the kids would actually survive... utterly compelling. 

Full disclosure: Borrowed from my library 

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Gold Star Review - The Elite

The Elite 
by Kiera Cass
The Selection, book two

In America Singer’s world, a bride is chosen for the prince through an elaborate televised competition. In the second book of the Selection series, America is one of only six girls left in the running. But is it Prince Maxon—and life as the queen—she wants? Or is it Aspen, her first love? (Description from

I have to admit that I was equal parts extremely excited and extremely nervous for this book. I really loved The Selection, a lot more than I had anticipated I was a fast, easy read that drew me right in... (You can read my review here) I could not wait for the sequel, but I was terrified of "middle book syndrome, " you know, the middle book in a trilogy that really serves no purpose...the one that should just have never existed because the "trilogy" would have been better as a duet?  I was especially scared about this one because I knew it was going to focus so heavily on the romantic triangle in America's life.

I was so HAPPY when I read this book.  Yes, it focuses on the romantic issues, but it does so openly, honestly, without pretending to do anything else...AND, though I'm still a HUGE fan of Prince Maxon, I found myself wavering into Aspen's camp from time to time.  That *never* happens to me.  That means that Kiera Cass has basically written the MOST CONVINCING ROMANTIC TRIANGLE I think I've read to this point.  Super KUDOS to that... and a GOLD STAR!

Besides the romance and the interactions between the girls, which I continue to find fascinating (it's like watching ANTM, you know at some point there's going to be cat fights...they can't help it!), there was actually a lot more revealed about the politics and origin of America's world.  I loved how Cass revealed things through America's own education and felt that the world was really starting to come into focus around her.  I cannot wait to see how America faces the political prospects that face her in the next should be *very* interesting... 

Full disclosure: Borrowed from my Library 

Monday, June 10, 2013

Secret Letters

Secret Letters
by Leah Scheier

Inquisitive and observant, Dora dreams of escaping her aristocratic country life to solve mysteries alongside Sherlock Holmes. So when she learns that the legendary detective might be her biological father, Dora jumps on the opportunity to travel to London and enlist his help in solving the mystery of her cousin’s ransomed love letters. But Dora arrives in London to devastating news: Sherlock Holmes is dead. Her dreams dashed, Dora is left to rely on her wits—and the assistance of an attractive yet enigmatic young detective—to save her cousin’s reputation and help rescue a kidnapped heiress along the way. (Description from

I really enjoyed this historical mystery.  Dora has characteristics that make her very similar to her father, Sherlock Holmes, his analytic mind, an astute observational sense... but, she's much easier to relate to as a main character. She's charmingly flawed, but still smart.  I loved her interactions with the other investigators she meets and watching her walk the line between her station and the career path she'd like to pursue.  I hope that more books come out featuring Dora.  I'm sure other historical mystery fans (those that like Y.S. Lee's books, especially) will also enjoy this one. 

Full disclosure: Borrowed from my Library 

Thursday, June 6, 2013

The Wells Bequest

The Wells Bequest 
by Polly Shulman
Companion to The Grimm Legacy 

Publication date: June 13, 2013

Leo never imagined that time travel might really be possible, or that the objects in H. G. Wells’ science fiction novels might actually exist. And when a miniature time machine appears in Leo’s bedroom, he has no idea who the tiny, beautiful girl is riding it. But in the few moments before it vanishes, returning to wherever—and whenever—it came from, he recognizes the other tiny rider: himself!

His search for the time machine, the girl, and his fate leads him to the New-York Circulating Material Repository, a magical library that lends out objects instead of books. Hidden away in the Repository basement is the Wells Bequest, a secret collection of powerful objects straight out of classic science fiction novels: robots, rockets, submarines, a shrink ray—and one very famous time machine. And when Leo’s adventure of a lifetime suddenly turns deadly, he must attempt a journey to 1895 to warn real-life scientist Nikola Tesla about a dangerous invention. A race for time is on! (Description from

I LOVED The Grimm Legacy. The idea of a library that houses object, fairy tale objects even!, that can be lent out to the public. OMG, I would have died to have this be a real work there, AWESOME! In fact, here's a snippet from my review

I loved this book...really loved it. I borrowed it from the library, but I think I'll be purchasing this one so that I can read it again. As a Librarian, I was tickled pink with both the setting and premise of this book. As a fantasy lover, the plot rocked. While I was reading, all I could think was that when I'd been a tween this probably would have become my absolute new favorite book. 

To say that I was both stoked and utterly nervous to read a companion book was sort of an understatement. I wasn't quite sure that Shulman could recreate the fabulous experience I had reading the first book...and yet, I think I might have enjoyed this one EVEN more!! 

You all know that I love science fiction.  This second book delves into all sort of science fiction wonders, centering mostly around H.G. Wells and Nikola Tesla. Time travel, cool robots, electricity, and pneumatic tubes... I really loved how Shulman was able to incorporate all of these science/tech-y things without making it too overwhelmingly hard for a reader to understand.  

There's time travel, danger, death ray threats, romance, and the coolest Library EVAH! Check it out.  Really, stop by your library and CHECK IT OUT! 

PS - Ever seen the Syfy show, Warehouse 13? If you like these books, you'll like the show, I promise. I just discovered it and I've been devouring its artifact-y goodness for the last three weeks! 

Full disclosure: Review copy received from SLJ 

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Splendors and Glooms

Splendors and Glooms
by Laura Amy Schlitz

The master puppeteer, Gaspare Grisini, is so expert at manipulating his stringed puppets that they appear alive. Clara Wintermute, the only child of a wealthy doctor, is spellbound by Grisini’s act and invites him to entertain at her birthday party. Seeing his chance to make a fortune, Grisini accepts and makes a splendidly gaudy entrance with caravan, puppets, and his two orphaned assistants. 

Lizzie Rose and Parsefall are dazzled by the Wintermute home. Clara seems to have everything they lack — adoring parents, warmth, and plenty to eat. In fact, Clara’s life is shadowed by grief, guilt, and secrets. When Clara vanishes that night, suspicion of kidnapping falls upon the puppeteer and, by association, Lizzie Rose and Parsefall. 

As they seek to puzzle out Clara’s whereabouts, Lizzie and Parse uncover Grisini’s criminal past and wake up to his evil intentions. Fleeing London, they find themselves caught in a trap set by Grisini’s ancient rival, a witch with a deadly inheritance to shed before it’s too late. (Description from

This book is very gothically atmospheric.  The characters are intriguing.  The sorcery that gets blended into the story is done very well and I found myself drawn in by both the storylines and the horrific things that the children and even the adult characters were facing.  And yet... I found this story read very slowly.  Don't get me wrong. It was beautifully written, I enjoyed the story and I was satisfied when it was done, but it also took me about five days to read and for me, that is a *really* long time.  I'm not sure exactly why it was so slow, but I have a feeling readers who are only halfheartedly interested may not make it through this one... 

Full disclosure: Borrowed from my library 

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Do You Know About SYNC?

Sponsored by AudioFile Magazine, SYNC offers free Young Adult & Classic audio book downloads in the summer months to introduce the listening experience.


Teens and other readers of Young Adult Literature will have the opportunity to listen to bestselling titles and required reading classics this summer. Each week from now until August 15, 2013, SYNC will offer two free audiobook downloads.

Mermaids, monsters, and mistaken identities start the summer of free audiobook downloads from SYNC YA Literature Into Your Earphones off with a splash.

This Week’s Audio books:
Available to download free May 30 – June 5, 2013

Of Poseidon
By Anna Banks
Read by Rebecca Gibel
Published by AudioGO

Galen, prince of the Syrena, is sent to land to find a girl he’s heard can communicate with fish and after several encounters with her Galen becomes convinced Emma holds the key to his kingdom.

The Tempest
By William Shakespeare
Performed by a Full Cast
Published by AudioGO/ BBC Radio

A storm rages. Prospero and his daughter watch from their desert island as a ship carrying the royal family is wrecked. Miraculously, all on board survive. Plotting, mistaken identities, and bewitching love follow as the travelers explore the strange place of spirits and monsters.

I already downloaded Of Poseidon!

For the full list of titles available between now and August 21st, you can go here.

Downloading is super easy once you install Overdrive Media Console on your computer. To download titles check here each week! Enjoy!!

Monday, June 3, 2013

My BEA 2013 Experience and a GIVEAWAY!!

This past Friday, May 31st, I went into New York City to attend Book Expo favorite day of the entire year. I seriously love the experience every time I go.

This year, my friend, Kim, and I stayed at a hotel right near the train station in New Haven the night before, so I only had to get up at 4:30 a.m. to get ready (got to sleep for a whole extra hour this year! :D). We took an early train into the city so that we could go to the Children's Author Breakfast (I covered this event for Yalsa's The Hub, so if you want to see a full write up, check it out here).  We got there with enough time to check our roll-y bags, try to get tickets to the Rick Riordan signing later in the day (they were gone by 6:45!!) and to find seats at one of the breakfast tables. This year's awesome speakers included Octavia Spencer, Mary Pope Osborne, Rick Riordan and Veronica Roth.

In addition to hearing them talk about literacy, books, and writing, we each got a Camp Half-Blood t-shirt, a Magic Tree House mug, a paperback copy of Divergent, and a copy of The Case of the Time-Capsule Bandit, the first book in the new Randi Rhodes, Ninja Detective series. They also revealed the cover for Rick Riordan's upcoming, The House of Hades, book four in the Heroes of Olympus series while we were there, which was really cool!

After the breakfast began the madness of trying to find the ARCs that I'd really hoped to snag, trying to get books signed by the authors I love and admire, and trying to see my Librarian friends that I knew were there... I literally spent the majority of the day moving from one part of the floor to another like a shark that can't seem to ever stop in one spot for fear of dying... LOL.  In fact, I was moving so much that I never even saw one of my friends, Heather, though I *know* she was there!

Here in brief are some of my experiences during the whirlwind of the day:

*Giraffe stalking - throughout the day I spotted and took pictures of probably about six different instances of adorable giraffes on the floor because...well, I just can't help it. I'm obsessed!

*Getting Alethea Kontis to autograph an ARC of Hero for me. Had to snap her
pic because she was dressed in such a pretty Princess outfit! Sparkles!

*Hanging out with Evie from Bookish! It was so cool to meet her in real life and to hang out at the expo.  We took turns standing in lines together so that we could still sneak off and grab other things...everything was happening at once!...and I wish I'd remembered to snap a picture, but I'm terrible at that. Oh well.

*Getting to talk to both Diana Peterfreund and Shannon Hale (both of whom I adore) informally on the floor!  I literally just stalker bombed them both and started gushing, LOL. Glad they didn't just run from me. I also ended up talking to Suzanne Young, Cat Patrick, David Levithan, Leanna Renee Hieber, and Amy Tintera (So cool! I love getting to speak to authors) out on the floor.  That's not even counting the authors I spoke to while getting books signed!

*Giant lego sculptures.  (This is my friend, Kim, who runs a lego club at her library so we had to take pictures she could show to the kids!)

*Whiskey tasting, champagne and cake at the Abrams booth...need I say more?

*A close encounter with a real scallywag of a pirate! LOL, he was kind of scary,

*Having a picture book signed and then stamped by the dog that it's about to my little doggie, Noel! So
sweet and Kushka was really adorable in real life.

*Getting to grab eight books that I'm especially looking forward to reading JUST
FOR FUN!!!! (The Beginning of Everything by Robyn Schneider, The Shade of the Moon by Susan Beth Pfeffer, How to Love by Katie Cotugno, Teardrop by Lauren Kate, The Infinite Moment of Us by Lauren Myracle, Across a Star-Swept Sea by Diana Peterfreund [which I'm reading right now...], The Coldest Girl in Coldtown by Holly Black, and Crown of Midnight by Sarah J. Maas)

*Standing in line with other crazy librarians all trying to get Diary of a Wimpy Kid umbrellas for ourselves summer reading prizes...

As I said, those were just some of the highlights of what I did during my crazy day at BEA this year.

Now...on to the super fun (for you!) part... First, here is a quick video showing the booty I brought home from BEA:

This haul actually managed to fit into one LARGE roll-y suitcase and my little library bag that I carried around the floor with me.  Thankfully this year because I stopped back to my big bag about four times throughout the day, I wasn't nearly as sore the next day as I was last year! I was still tired, but my shoulders and neck and feet were all much, much happier.

Aside from my favorite ARCs and some stuff that I picked up for work, I came out with a few ARCs that are either duplicates of books that I got signed or are ones that I probably won't have time to enjoy.  SO...I thought that I would have a couple of giveaways to let YOU all enjoy my bounty. Giveaway Number 1

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Winner gets to choose three of these books: Rose Under Fire by Elixabeth Wein, The Beginning of Everything by Robyn Schneider, Left Drowning by Jessica Park,  a chapter sampler of United We Spy by Ally Carter, All the Truth That's in Me by Julie Berry, Wild Cards by Simone Elkeles, Stalked by Death by Kelly Hashway, Skin by Donna Jo Napoli, and an MP3 audio book of Sylvia Day's Entwined with You (adult).  

After the winner of this giveaway has been announced next week, I will have a second giveaway where the winner will get to choose from those titles left after this winner chooses their bounty.

Good luck!!