Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Wanna Beat that Hump Day Feeling??

Okay, it's Hump Day...and I am definitely feeling it.

So, how to beat the Hump Day Blues?
...I decided to google up some AH-DOR-ABLE little pics of French Bulldog Puppies...

You know you love them!!  And, if that wasn't cute enough for you... here's a pic of frenchie puppies AND a baby! LOL

How're you feeling now?  I know I feel a lot better!! :D

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Gold Star Review - Arclight

by Josin L. McQuein

The Arclight is the last refuge in a post-apocalyptic world consumed by terrifying monsters called the Fade. No one crosses the wall of light that keeps the last human survivors safe. There's nothing else left and nowhere to go. Or so they thought, until Marina, a lone teenage girl, stumbles out of the Dark.

Marina doesn't remember who she is, where she came from, or how she survived. And the Fade want her back. When one of them infiltrates the compound and recognizes Marina, she begins to unlock secrets she didn't even know she had. Marina knows she's an outsider in the Arclight, but she'll do anything to protect those who saved her. Whether they want her help or not. (Description from

I could not put this book down (or in reality because I was listening in the car, I really, really just wanted to drive around forever and ever and ever...)!  From the opening pages, I was totally sucked into Marina's world.  McQuein's writing is very suspenseful.  Similarly to Pearson's The Adoration of Jenna Fox, Marina learns things in bits and pieces as she deals with amnesia.

It's been a little while since I've come across a book that just literally sucked me in so hard that I did not want to stop reading...especially when the book ended.  I want more of Marina's journey.  I want to find out where the humans will go from here.... It's hard to describe what I want to see without giving things away, but there are characters that I'm totally intrigued to see more from and I want to jump back into this world.  

I'm giving this one a gold star for being completely fascinating.  Danger, mystery, romance, and my opinion, this is a great example of post-apocalyptic science fiction! 

*I also really loved the audio book version. The narration was great.  

Full disclosure: Audio book received to review for AudioFile 

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Charmed Vengeance

Charmed Vengeance 
by Suzanne Lazear
The Aether Chronicles, book two

*Contains spoilers from book one* 
When her true love, Steven, is forced to break their magical bond, Noli Braddock decides to join her brother on the crew of the Vixen’s Revenge.

With its gleaming brass, dark wood, and spotless clockwork gears, the Vixen’s Revenge is a beautiful airship. But Noli discovers a dangerous secret beneath its polished exterior—the crew has been hired to steal dozens of priceless Otherworld artifacts. Desperate to keep her past Otherworld experiences hidden from the airship crew, Noli fears that if she doesn’t risk telling her own secrets, the stolen artifacts will be used to destroy both of the worlds she loves. (Description from

I loved diving back into this charming blend of steampunk and faerie lore.  Lazear does a brilliant job blending traditional faerie legends and affectations into an alternate history of the US.  This particular book spans the country, too, which made for a lot of interesting scene changes.  With the faerie realm underlayed, though, the country almost felt small, and the amazing airships made traveling a breeze.  

In some ways this book truly was a bridge between the first and what will be coming in the third.  There's a lot of set up for the next portion of Noli's story and characters were introduced or brought back in ways that lead directly to how they'll play a part in the next tale, yet it still felt as though it had its own legs to stand on. *NOT* to say that I wasn't immediately left wanting the next book, but I'm also happy with where things were left...for now.  

A lot of that contentment with this book derives from seeing how Noli progresses as a character.  Having to deal with her new...situation...bridging the gap between the mortal and faerie realms.  Seeing how the people in her world help those two realms collide...there were a lot of feelings in this book... 

I cannot wait to read book three!!  

Full disclosure: eARC received from Netgalley

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

The Dark Between

The Dark Between
by Sonia Gensler

Publication Date: August 27, 2013.

At the turn of the twentieth century, Spiritualism and séances are all the rage—even in the scholarly town of Cambridge, England. While mediums dupe the grief-stricken, a group of local fringe scientists seeks to bridge the gap to the spirit world by investigating the dark corners of the human mind.

Each running from a shadowed past, Kate, Asher, and Elsie take refuge within the walls of Summerfield College. But their peace is soon shattered by the discovery of a dead body nearby. Is this the work of a flesh-and-blood villain, or is something otherworldly at play? This unlikely trio must illuminate what the scientists have not, and open a window to secrets taken to the grave—or risk joining the spirit world themselves. (Description from

I loved the atmosphere of this book. Set in the early 1900's in England, spiritualism is all the rage.  Combined with the development of early sciences, the three teens find themselves caught in a mystery that finds at its heart the question...are there really ghosts or is everything just an illusion of the otherworld?  The pseudo-sciences explored were fascinating and the way that Gensler ties everything together totally sucked me in to the story.  

While I had my suspicions about who was really involved with what and why, I found myself absolutely captivated watching the characters figure it all out.  A great supernatural mystery for historical fans. 

Full disclosure: Review copy received from SLJ

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Science Fiction Book Meme... FUN!

I found this meme on the SF Signal blog...just a fun little questionnaire.
I love to read SciFi, so I thought I'd give it a shot. I'm going to try to pick as many different titles as I can...we'll see how this goes, LOL.

Answer as many of the following as you can

My favorite alien invasion book or series is…Ender's Game by Orson Scott Card. 

My favorite alternate history book or series is…Leviathan by Scott Westerfeld or God Save the Queen by Kate Locke.  

My favorite cyberpunk book or series is…(and I *think* this would qualify...) Epic by Conor Kostick. 

My favorite Dystopian book or series is…The Dust Lands Trilogy by Moira Young.  

My favorite Golden-Age sf book or series is…Something Wicked This Way Comes by Ray Bradbury.

My favorite hard sf book or series is… (*this is actually a sub-genre of science fiction that I don't prefer, so this was tough, but... the closest I can come up with is...) The Jenna Fox Chronicles by Mary E. Pearson.  

My favorite military sf book or series is…[I saw the movie Starship Troopers, does that count?]

My favorite near-future book or series is…The Hunger Games Trilogy by Suzanne Collins. 

My favorite post-apocalyptic book or series is…The Last Survivors series by Susan Beth Pfeffer. 

My favorite robot/android book or series is…(this is as close as I could get...) The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams. MARVIN is pretty much my favorite robot ever... 

My favorite space opera book or series is…(*I* think this book qualifies as a juvie version...) Circus Galacticus by Deva Fagan. 

My favorite steampunk book or series is…The Parasol Protectorate series by Gail Carriger. 

My favorite superhero book or series is…The Jack Blank Adventures by Matt Myklusch. 

My favorite time travel book or series is…The Hourglass Trilogy by Myra McEntire. 

My favorite young adult sf book or series is... The Killer Unicorns series by Diana Peterfreund. 

My favorite zombie book or series is…The Benny Imura series by Jonathan Maberry or The Forest of Hands and Teeth Trilogy by Carrie Ryan.

The 3 books at the top of my sf/f/h to-be-read pile are
Curtsies and Conspiracies by Gail Carriger (The Finishing School, book two) 
Infinityglass by Myra McEntire (Hourglass, book three) 
Rebel Heart by Moira Young (Dust Lands, book two) 

So, what are YOUR favorite SciFi novels?? 

Almost Home

Almost Home 
by Joan Bauer

When twelve-year-old Sugar's grandfather dies and her gambling father takes off yet again, Sugar and her mother lose their home in Missouri. They head to Chicago for a fresh start, only to discover that fresh starts aren't so easy to come by for the homeless. Nevertheless, Sugar's mother has taught her to be grateful no matter what, so Sugar does her best. With the help of a rescue dog, Shush; a foster family; a supportive teacher; a love of poetry; and her own grace and good humor, Sugar comes to understand that while she can't control the hand life deals her, she can control how she responds. (Description from

This was a sweet, heart-string plucking book. It reminded me a lot of One for the Murphys by Lynda Mullaly Hunt.  Sugar is a girl who strives to be take on the world with a positive attitude. Even after she gets stuck in foster care and she doesn't quite trust her new situation, she vows to be kind.  What a fabulous and strong character!  A girl who is forced to take on a grown-up role too young, Sugar's street smarts, compassion, and independent character carry this story through to a satisfying conclusion. 

I very much enjoyed as well, how almost all of the adults in the book were portrayed as being fleshed out, multi-faceted characters. Yes, there were those that skewed towards being inherently good and those that were too flawed to be redeemable, but they each had their moments that made them feel like real people.  It was refreshing and made the book a much richer reading experience.    

Full disclosure: Borrowed from my Library 

Friday, July 19, 2013

Kennedy's Last Days

Kennedy's Last Days
by Bill O'Reilly

On a sunny day in Dallas, Texas, at the end of a campaign trip, President John Fitzgerald Kennedy is assassinated by an angry, lonely drifter named Lee Harvey Oswald. The former Marine Corps sharpshooter escapes briefly, but is hunted down, captured, and then shot dead while in police custody.

Kennedy's Last Days is a gripping account of the events leading up to the most notorious crime of the twentieth century. Author Bill O’Reilly vividly describes the Kennedy family’s life in the public eye, the crises facing the president around the world and at home, the nation’s growing fascination with their vigorous, youthful president, and finally, the shocking events leading up to his demise.

Adapted from Bill O’Reilly’s best-selling historical thriller Killing Kennedy, with an unforgettable cast of characters, page-turning action, and art on every spread, Kennedy’s Last Days is history that reads like a thriller. This exciting book will captivate adults and young readers alike. (description from

I'm actually surprised about how much I learned about JFK from this short book. Did you know that he was a speed reader? Did you know that JFK had no intention to go into politics? He wanted to be a reporter. Did you know that he had to do physical therapy every day for his back because he'd injured it in a war?

No? I didn't either.

This book is short and engagingly informative. There are some great photos that match up to the stories that show exactly how JFK became President of the United States. I also really enjoyed how the story alternates between describing JFK's history and then Lee Harvey Oswald's.

If you like history, but don't want to read a "text" book, this would be a great choice.

Full disclosure: Audio book received from SLJ for review

My Veronica Mars Obsession Will be Further Fueled...with NEW BOOKS COMING OUT!!

Okay guys, I am beyond stoked. Most of you have probably heard by now, but Rob Thomas signed a book deal to create a series of VERONICA MARS BOOKS to come out after the new movie is released!! 


This was something I never really realized that was missing from my life...and yet, now I know. I MUST HAVE these books ASAP! *squee!*

Here's a quick synopsis from Random House:
The first book in an original mystery series featuring twenty-eight-year-old Veronica Mars, back in action after the events of Veronica Mars: The Movie. With the help of old friends — Logan Echolls, Mac Mackenzie, Wallace Fennel, and even Dick Casablancas — Veronica is ready to take on Neptune’s darkest cases with her trademark sass and smarts.

To read more about it, you can check out Entertainment Weekly's announcement here. You can also pre-order the first book NOW through Random House and other retailers... 

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Despicable Me 2 Party at the Library!

Last Thursday, I threw a Despicable Me 2 party for little minions aged 6 - 10. We had a wild time planning world domination and the kids even got to make their own minion to take home.

Here's what I did:
I started out by decorating the room.  I hung "minion" balloons from the ceiling.  These were super easy to make...just a plain yellow balloon with a minion face draw on in Sharpie! I made sure each one had a slightly different face and the kids just loved checking them all out! 

Then to start our party off right, we had some rocket launching practice. I bought two cheap foam rocket sets (1 launcher and 4 mini-rockets per set) and hung up three cardboard bulls-eyes for them to try hitting.  I purposely drew the three centers different sizes so that kids will have a higher success rate. One bulls-eye is hug (see below) and then one is slightly small and then the last one is very small. 

Once each child had had their turn to shoot the rockets, they lined up to take their turn at "Pin the Tail on FLUFFY!"  I created a very basic outline of Agnes' stuffed unicorn, Fluffy, on a piece of poster board, colored it with markers, and then I found a donkey tail outline online that I photocopied onto fuchsia construction paper.  I had each child write their name on the tail with marker, then I tied on their blindfold, spun them around three times, and let them pin their tails!  

For the second half of the program, each child made their own minion to take home!  Using a photo that I found online for inspiration, I created a minion craft out of a cereal box.  The downside to this particular craft was that cereal boxes come in different sizes, so I had to measure and cut the construction paper to fit each box.  I cut two large yellow pieces to fit the front and back of the box, two small yellow strips to fit the sides and one small yellow strip to fit the top of the box.  (I actually cut one end of the box open to help it stand and to be one less surface to cover.)  

Then, I cut small blue strips to fit the front back and sides of the bottom of the box to make the minion's overalls. I cut a blue square and some mini strips to become the bib and straps on the overalls.  I cut little black half moons for feet, and then cut large round circles from silver contact paper for the goggles.  I cut smaller white circles for the eyeballs and black strips for the goggle straps.  I made the decision to not worry about the overall straps or goggle straps going around the back of the minion to make prep easier. 

When I gave each child their cereal box, it contained the yellow and blue strips cut to fit that specific box.  They glued those pieces on first with white Elmer's glue, then I handed out the smaller pieces. I let each child choose whether they wanted one or two eyes for their minion and I also put out markers so that they could draw their minions eye expressions, mouths and any other decorations they wanted.  

This craft took a little longer than I expected, but they all loved it. I plan to do it again this fall, though I may try to make a mini version with poptart boxes or some other type of smaller box.  

At the very end, I also sent each child home with a "Despicable Me" coloring sheet and a little candy minion. These were fairly easy to make, though it's been so hot and humid here in New England lately that my minions were a little more melty than I had anticipated, making the icing way harder to work with!  For these I got yellow (vanilla-flavored) candy melts at Michael's, as well as candy eyeballs and black icing. I melted the candy, then dipped the spoons into the candy. I only coated the backs of the spoons rather than dipping the entire bowl of the spoon in to cut down on the amount of pure sugar that they kids got to eat.  Then I stuck one or two candy eyeballs into the candy.  I put them in the fridge for a while to solidify, then took them back out to use the icing to make the goggles around the eyeballs.  They came out really cute and both the kids and their parents loved them! 

If any of my librarian friends have any questions, please let me know and I'll answer whatever I can/share templates/etc!

Monday, July 15, 2013


by Veronique Launier
Hearts of Stone, book one

Aude Vanier is a sixteen-year-old rock star with a problem—stone monsters keep attacking her. And when they do, she finds herself chanting in a language she doesn’t understand.

Guillaume de Rouen has been stuck as a gargoyle on a church for the last seventy years, until Aude’s chanting releases him back to his seventeen-year-old human form.

An ancient Iroquois prophecy about the destruction of Montreal is coming true. Together, Aude and Guillaume can stop it. But Aude is the descendant of a centuries-old coven of witches—a coven that Guillaume failed to protect seventy years ago. This time, if they fail, the world will never be the same. (description from

Okay, I have to admit first thing that I am very fond of gargoyles. I love books with gargoyle characters. This stems directly from one reading the Xanth series by Piers Anthony, which brought some amazing character concepts to life for me, including Geis of the Gargoyle's, Gary Gargoyle.  That combined with my interest in art history and the beautiful stonework that exists on many historic buildings leads to a love and fascination for gargoyles and other stone creatures. 
I found Launier's debut book to be great conceptually.  It combined the existence of gargoyles with a very spiritual and pagan sort of witchcraft. Added to that mix is a Mohawk prophecy about the end of the world and you have a very, very intriguing sort of end of the world story.  

I really liked Aude and Guillaume as the main characters.  Aude, or as she likes to be known "Odd," is a rock princess who generally knows what she wants from life.  When her life is thrown into chaos, she very realistically goes through some stages of denial, acceptance, and general WTF?! I really liked how in some respects she was very much in charge of herself and knew what to do to handle things and in other scenarios, she accepted that she couldn't control the things happening around her.  Guillaume was able to help keep her safe and to give her a touchstone in the crazy new world she had to deal with, but he also respects that she is powerful in her own right.  At first, I didn't like jumping between their perspectives, but as I continued reading I actually found it to be a great way to see all facets of the story.  

This was a great summer read for me. Fast-paced, interesting and with a romance thrown in to boot. I'm really looking forward to seeing where the next book in the series goes... 

Full disclosure: eARC received from Netgalley

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Secret Agent Training Library Program

Last week, I ran a super fun program as part of my "Diggin' into Fun" series for tweens (ages 9-14) at our Library, SECRET AGENT TRAINING.  Since it was a lot of fun, I thought I would share it with you all.

I started out the program dressed in a black trench coat and black fedora (sorry, I forgot to take a picture!). Though several of the kids told me how much they liked my outfit and I thanked them, we then began with a discussion about why my outfit was the worst possible choice for a spy!

We talked about how cover stories and blending in were important skills for spies.  They each got to pick a random job description that was their "cover story" and then I had some mustaches, a hat, some sunglasses, and two ties that they could hold up as their disguises while they demonstrated their cover personalities for everyone to guess.

Each little spy then received a scratch ticket that I made (I'll put the "recipe" at the end of this post - they were super easy to make!!) that revealed their code names (Agent 0021 or Agent 0013, etc) so that they safeguard their real identities.

We sat down and played a game of "telephone" with some neat spy sounding phrases to practice both our whisper enunciation and our eavesdropping skills.  Turns out the kids were *really* bad at it, but they had fun trying to make funny phrases instead, LOL.

Next, we talked about why a spy might choose certain weapons for attacking or defending themselves. Stealth versus firepower, etc.  I set up three bulls-eyes and let the kids line up to shoot a cheap suction cup bow and arrow set at the targets. While they were in line, I also taught them how to send secret messages in class or on the go with rubber bands.  If you stretch a rubber band and write a message in small letters, when the band is shrunk back down to regular size you can't even tell it's really writing on the rubber.  Then you can drop the rubber band nonchalantly on someone's desk or near their feet and they can stretch the band back out to read your secret message! Super easy.

Lastly, we ended with the biggest hit.  A "laser maze" and a tunnel to practice their spy agility.  It wasn't anything amazingly spectacular, but the kids LOVED it.  They each went through at least twice and were scrambling to see who could do it without touching the yarn I strung up for lasers.

All in all, this was a pretty easy program to set up and the kids had a blast!

In case you're interested, here is the "recipe" for the homemade scratch tickets: 

Ingredients -
1 tablespoon dish soap (any brand will work)
2 tablespoons acrylic paint in whatever color you choose

Mix until paint starts to bubble, then let settle so that you don't end up with too many bubbles on your scratch tickets.

Next put a piece of packing (or book) tape over the section of card that you want kids to be able to scratch and reveal.  Paint over that section.  Allow the paint to dry.  Once it's dry, you'll be able to scratch the paint right off with a coin!  Super easy.

Monday, July 8, 2013

This is W.A.R.

First off, I have to apologize to everyone.  Not only are we at our busiest at work right now with summer reading, so my blogging has slowed down a little due to that, but now I'm fighting off a super-stellar chest cold, so this review that I promised you on Saturday is now a few days late. So sorry guys!

This is W.A.R. 
by Lisa and Laura Roecker

This is not a story of forgiveness...

The mystery of their best friend's murder drives four girls to destroy the Gregory family.

Everyone at Hawthorne Lake Country Club saw Willa Ames-Rowan climb into a boat with James Gregory, the Club’s heir apparent.

And everyone at Hawthorne Lake Country Club watched him return. Alone.

They all know he killed her. But none of them will say a word. The Gregory family is very, very good at making problems go away.

Enter the W.A.R.—the war to avenge Willa Ames-Rowan. Four girls. Four very different motives for justice and revenge, and only one rule: destroy the Gregory family at any cost. (Description from

If you are looking for a great book to read at the beach this summer, look no further! The Roecker sisters have knocked it out of the park again. This book reads just like an episode of a good television soap opera. Upon the "accidental death" of their club's princess, four girls band together to bring down the boy who killed her.  Delicious secrets get revealed in every chapter.  Loyalties become questioned.  Bonds are formed. 

Lives are destroyed.  

This book tackles some serious issues, but in a fun way that kept me turning the pages as quickly as I could. I was pretty sure I knew what was going on (and I was mostly right :P), but there were red herrings thrown into the mix around every corner.  Moments that made me question my suspicions...  

Like Pretty Little Liars, no character in this novel is without flaws, and most of them have been keeping some kind of big secret. Nothing makes for juicier beach reading than those "Shut the Front Door!" revelation moments.  Trust me.  If you like danger, mystery, gossip, and intrigue, you'll want to check this one out! 

Full disclosure: eARC received from Edelweiss, eBook purchased for my Nook 

Friday, July 5, 2013

Blog Tour: This Is W.A.R. - Interview and a Giveaway!

Check out the awesome giveaway at Lisa and Laura's blog, too! 

I am beyond excited to be participating in the blog tour for Lisa and Laura Roecker's THIS IS WAR today.  The Roecker sisters are hilarious authors who write great mystery books.  Their first series, The Liar Society, knocked me right out of my socks and this stand-alone book did nothing less. I'll be posting my review for the book tomorrow, but today, TODAY, I got to interview the Roecker sisters themselves!!! *SQUEE!!*

Lisa, Laura, welcome to the blog! I'm so honored to be part of your tour today. I just wanted to ask you both a few questions... 

1.I know that you write all of your books together, swapping chapters for critiques and such. How long does it take you to go from the first idea for a book to the end of the final revision process?

We spend a lot of time in the pre-writing process. Our outlines are typically 30-40,000 words, so we try and uncover any and all character issues and plot holes before we even begin writing. Obviously, this is impossible, but because there are two of us, it’s very important that we’re on the same page. Once we have a completed outline (which takes a couple weeks), we could have a novel finished in a couple months, even faster if we decide to write two chapters a day. But then we send the document out to readers and our agent and by the time we’ve applied the first round of feedback, that usually takes another month. On average, from idea to completed novel, I’d say it takes us around 6-8 months.

2. If you could each write a book by yourselves under pseudonyms, secret from even each other, are there any genres you'd love to covertly explore?

Laura would definitely write a picture book. She loves a good rhyme. Lisa would write a super-snarky self-help book. (*I would totally love to read BOTH of those, LOL... I suggest you start working on pseudonyms :P)

3. THIS IS W.A.R. sounds like the most perfect blend of mystery and televised revenge cinematic. Did you ladies do any special "research" before writing the book?

Our research is limited to bad television, random movies and paying extra-close attention to the private school students hanging around town during their open period. It’s a seriously great job. 

4. Was there any one character from the book that you had trouble letting go of once the writing was done?

Madge is possibly the least-likeable character in the book, but she was the hardest for us to let go. We understand her motives because we’re sisters. She broke our hearts.

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

Go back to Australia (without having to fly over the ocean). I’ll cross this off when teleportation is a reality.

Ladies, thank you SOOOOO much for stopping by. It was an honor.  
Now, let me tell all the rest of you about the book: 

This is not a story of forgiveness... 

The mystery of their best friend's murder drives four girls to destroy the Gregory family. 

Everyone at Hawthorne Lake Country Club saw Willa Ames-Rowan climb into a boat with James Gregory, the Club’s heir apparent. 

And everyone at Hawthorne Lake Country Club watched him return. Alone.

They all know he killed her. But none of them will say a word. The Gregory family is very, very good at making problems go away.

Enter the W.A.R.—the war to avenge Willa Ames-Rowan. Four girls. Four very different motives for justice and revenge, and only one rule: destroy the Gregory family at any cost.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Book Trailer - William Shakespeare's Star Wars

William Shakespeare's Star Wars
by Ian Doescher

Return once more to a galaxy far, far away with this sublime retelling of George Lucas’s epic Star Wars in the style of the immortal Bard of Avon. The saga of a wise (Jedi) knight and an evil (Sith) lord, of a beautiful princess held captive and a young hero coming of age, Star Wars abounds with all the valor and villainy of Shakespeare’s greatest plays. ’Tis a tale told by fretful droids, full of faithful Wookiees and fearstome Stormtroopers, signifying…pretty much everything.

Reimagined in glorious iambic pentameter—and complete with twenty gorgeous Elizabethan illustrations–William Shakespeare’s Star Wars will astound and edify Rebels and Imperials alike.

Doesn't that sound great?  Now, as if just the description wasn't enough...check out the book trailer: 

Mortal Fire

Mortal Fire
by Elizabeth Knox

Sixteen-year-old Canny Mochrie's parents go away on a vacation, so they send her off on a trip of her own with her step-brother Sholto and his opinionated girlfriend Susan, who are interviewing the survivors of a strange coal mine disaster and researching local folklore in 1959 Southland, New Zealand. Canny is left to herself to wander in a mysterious and enchanting nearby valley, occupied almost entirely by children who all have the last name Zarene and can perform a special type of magic that tells things how to be stronger and better than they already are. With the help of a seventeen-year-old boy who is held hostage in a hidden away house by a spell that is now more powerful than the people who first placed it, Canny figures out why she, too, can use this special magic that only Zarenes should know, and where she really came from. (Description from

I read Knox's Dreamhunter duet a few years ago and fell absolutely in love with her worldbuilding and storytelling.  Knox once again brilliantly blends historical fiction and magical realism, creating a world where a reader feels they could step right in and feel the magic in the air. 

Canny is a fascinating main character surrounded by mysterious secondary characters whose secrets are slowly revealed as Knox layers each person’s story into others to create a complex world. If you also read Knox’s previous novels you'll catch small references to the Hame Dreamhunters, but this book brings readers into a fresh new aspect of that world with its own circuitous storyline.

Full disclosure: Review copy received from VOYA

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Also Known As

Also Known As 
by Robin Benway

Being a 16-year-old safecracker and active-duty daughter of international spies has its moments, good and bad. Pros: Seeing the world one crime-solving adventure at a time. Having parents with super cool jobs. Cons: Never staying in one place long enough to have friends or a boyfriend. But for Maggie Silver, the biggest perk of all has been avoiding high school and the accompanying cliques, bad lunches, and frustratingly simple locker combinations.

Then Maggie and her parents are sent to New York for her first solo assignment, and all of that changes. She'll need to attend a private school, avoid the temptation to hack the school's security system, and befriend one aggravatingly cute Jesse Oliver to gain the essential information she needs to crack the case . . . all while trying not to blow her cover. (Description from

I really enjoyed this light-hearted spy story.  

The teen voice was perfect. Maggie and her friends were all totally believable, each with their own foibles and backgrounds.  The action was both believable in the sense that Maggie was not the perfect spy... and had me on the edge of my seat at times. 

The romance...ah, the romance... I loved it. It was rocky. It was funny.  It was just gushy enough.  

I did not want to put this book down at all as soon as I started reading and in fact, I would love to see a follow-up story! Fun, funny, and full of surprises.  

Full disclosure: Purchased for my Kindle App

Monday, July 1, 2013

Radiant and Boundless

by Cynthia Hand
An Unearthly novella 

Clara is desperate to get away—from the memories that haunt her in Wyoming and the visions of a future she isn't ready to face—and spending the summer in Italy with her best friend, Angela, should be the perfect escape. . . .

For as long as she can remember, Angela has been told that love is dangerous, that she must always guard her heart. But when she met Phen two years ago she was determined to be with him, no matter the costs. Now she must decide whether she can trust Clara with her secret, or if telling her the truth will risk everything she cares about.

Alternating between Angela and Clara's perspectives, Radiant chronicles the unforgettable summer that will test the bounds of their friendship and change their lives forever. (description from

I almost didn't read Radiant before starting Boundless, but boy am I glad that I did.  The novella gives you some great info that has meaning in the third and final book, as well as letting the reader get to hear some things from Angela's perspective, which I loved.  I suppose you could read the last book without reading the novella, but I thought it really added to the story. It was definitely worth the $1.99 for me. 

by Cynthia Hand
Unearthly series, book three

The past few years held more surprises than part-angel Clara Gardner ever could have anticipated. Yet through the dizzying high of first love to the agonizing low of losing someone close to her, the one thing she could no longer deny was that she was never meant to have a normal life.

Since discovering the special role she plays among the other angel-bloods, Clara has been determined to protect Tucker Avery from the evil that follows her . . . even if it means breaking both their hearts. Leaving town seemed like the best option, so she's headed back to California—and so is Christian Prescott, the irresistible boy from the vision that started her on this journey in the first place.

As Clara makes her way in a world that is frighteningly new, she discovers that the fallen angel who attacked her is watching her every move. And he's not the only one. . . . With the battle against the Black Wings looming, Clara knows she must finally fulfill her destiny. But it won't come without sacrifices and betrayal.

In the riveting finale of the Unearthly series, Clara must choose her fate once and for all. (description from

I thought that Hand did a bang-up job finishing the series.  There were things I thought would probably happen and they did, but the suspense to get there was perfect.  Clara remained a character that I could totally believe, stuck in a situation that kept me riveted.  I loved her relationships with friends and family and the way that nothing was black and white...everything had shades of gray.  The way that the romance tied up, too, left me absolutely satisfied. All around this is one of the best angel-themed series I've read and I can't wait to recommend it to more readers! 

Full disclosure: Radiant purchased for my Kindle App/Boundless borrowed from my library