Thursday, August 29, 2013

Anxiously Awaiting... Flights and Chimes and Mysterious Times!

Flights and Chimes and Mysterious Times
by Emma Trevayne

Publication Date: May 2014

Ten-year-old Jack Foster has stepped through a doorway and into quite a different London.

Londinium is a smoky, dark, and dangerous place, home to mischievous metal fairies and fearsome clockwork dragons that breathe scalding steam. The people wear goggles to protect their eyes, brass grill insets in their nostrils to filter air, or mechanical limbs to replace missing ones.

Over it all rules the Lady, and the Lady has demanded a new son—a perfect flesh-and-blood child. She has chosen Jack.

Jack’s wonder at the magic and steam-powered marvels in Londinium lasts until he learns he is the pawn in a very dangerous game. The consequences are deadly, and his only hope of escape, of returning home, lies with a legendary clockwork bird.

The Gearwing grants wishes. Or it did, before it was broken. Before it was killed.

But some things don’t stay dead forever. (

A middle-grade steampunk, alternate London...yes, please! 

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Colin Fischer

Colin Fischer
by Ashley Edward Miller and Zack Stentz

Colin Fischer cannot stand to be touched. He does not like the color blue. He needs index cards to recognize facial expressions.

But when a gun is found in the school cafeteria, interrupting a female classmate's birthday celebration, Colin is the only for the investigation. It's up to him to prove that Wayne Connelly, the school bully and Colin's frequent tormenter, didn't bring the gun to school. After all, Wayne didn't have frosting on his hands, and there was white chocolate frosting found on the grip of the smoking gun... (description from

I thought this was an interesting mystery. It's from the perspective of Colin, a boy with Asperger's Syndrome. His highly analytic mind, coupled with a separation from emotions, makes him a brilliant investigator. Like his idol, Sherlock Holmes, Colin knows that he can discover who actually brought the gun to school. Along the way, he makes a highly unlikely friend and learns to acclimate to school and being social with his peers, maybe even finding a girlfriend...

A quick read with a good mystery from a unique perspective.

Full disclosure: Borrowed from my Library

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

This is Not a Test

This is Not a Test
by Courtney Summers

It’s the end of the world. Six students have taken cover in Cortege High but shelter is little comfort when the dead outside won’t stop pounding on the doors. One bite is all it takes to kill a person and bring them back as a monstrous version of their former self. To Sloane Price, that doesn’t sound so bad. Six months ago, her world collapsed and since then, she’s failed to find a reason to keep going. Now seems like the perfect time to give up. As Sloane eagerly waits for the barricades to fall, she’s forced to witness the apocalypse through the eyes of five people who actually want to live. But as the days crawl by, the motivations for survival change in startling ways and soon the group’s fate is determined less and less by what’s happening outside and more and more by the unpredictable and violent bids for life—and death—inside. When everything is gone, what do you hold on to? (description from

Gritty and real, this zombie apocalypse survival story gripped me from start to finish. Definitely for older readers, there's a lot of very real mature things happening as these teens try to survive. As a reader that prefers realism to a perfect happy ending, I very much enjoyed the fact that Sloane's story does not shy away from the horrors of a zombie "infestation." It would not have felt as authentic to me if Sloane suddenly became a perky rah-rah kind of girl and everyone survived.

Happy ending hunters may not like what they find here...but, readers looking for a more true-to-(fictional)life experience will appreciate this compelling tale.

Full disclosure: Borrowed from my Library

Monday, August 26, 2013

Picture Book Review: Candy and the Cankersaur

Candy and the Cankersaur *ebook*
by Jason Sandberg

This is the sweet and funny tale of a young girl named Candy and a Cankersaurus Rex! Candy receives a dinosaur as a gift and is determined to train him to be a good pet.

When Candy has a rough time dealing with a neighbor who teases her and a busy father who can't always play with her, Candy gets a crazy pet as a gift from her father.  A thought to be extinct dinosaur! Candy trains him to be a great pet and things are going well until her neighbor gets jealous and sells him to the circus. When he sees how upset Candy gets, the little boy confesses and Candy, her father, and he set off to rescue "Cank."  Everything works out happily in the end and Candy even becomes friends with the neighbor boy.

This was a quick and sweet little read that looked great on my brand-new tablet. The colors are bright and cheerful, and of course, there's a cool dinosaur pet! While the story is a little too lengthy for a regular story time book at a library program, this would be a cute book to read one on one with a child, at home or babysitting, etc. Since it features a very cute dinosaur, I think both boys and girls would happily settle in to read this book.  Done in a style similar to Syd Hoff's Danny and the Dinosaur, the illustrations are a little old fashioned, but are charming nonetheless.

Right now, this book is only available as an ebook, but as I said, it looks great on any kind of ereader or tablet that does color pictures.

Full disclosure: Electronic review copy received from author for review

Friday, August 23, 2013

My Favorite Bookish Mugs

Last week, my friend Jen from YABooknerd saw the Epic Reads mug post and created her own epic post about her favorite mugs which you can see here.  I got inspired and decided to show off a few of the great Librarian and Bookish mugs that I've either bought or been given.  It's not a HUGE collection, yet (which is probably good for my cabinets) but they do make me smile every time I drink out of them.

So, here we go! 

This one makes me giggle EVERY SINGLE TIME I USE IT!  It's so hilariously wrong.  If I ever actually heard someone try to use this pick up line I might vomit...and yet... it does make me laugh! 

Enough said. 

The mug I'm sure almost every Librarian I know owns.... somewhat ironic, and yet somewhat true.  I am a first-class Librarian and most days I am proud to be a public serving, friendly, book (we don't stamp anymore) checking out, softly politely spoken, helpful, well read Librarian... 

My giant (slightly stained!) Winnie-the-Pooh mug that is used every time I feel sick, too full, freezing cold, etc. and need a double cup of tea (or sometimes hot chocolate).  It keeps the giant vat o'liquid surprisingly warm for a long time and keeps me from having to get up too, too often... definitely a favorite mug. 

And, this one's not at all bookish, but my friends will know that I love it dearly nonetheless:

MY FAVORITE MUG EVAH.  EVAH. EVAH.  Can you tell how much I love it??  My sister-in-law, Shannon, and her fiance gave it to me and I LOVE IT.  See that little giraffe in there?  He peeks out as you drink your coffee, tea, whatever, and it is the coolest thing I've ever seen. LOVE. 

Do you guys have bookish mugs that you adore?

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Siege and Storm

Siege and Storm
by Leigh Bardugo
The Grisha Trilogy, book two

Darkness never dies.

Hunted across the True Sea, haunted by the lives she took on the Fold, Alina must try to make a life with Mal in an unfamiliar land, all while keeping her identity as the Sun Summoner a secret. But she can't outrun her past or her destiny for long.

The Darkling has emerged from the Shadow Fold with a terrifying new power and a dangerous plan that will test the very boundaries of the natural world. With the help of a notorious privateer, Alina returns to the country she abandoned, determined to fight the forces gathering against Ravka. But as her power grows, Alina slips deeper into the Darkling's game of forbidden magic, and farther away from Mal. Somehow, she will have to choose between her country, her power, and the love she always thought would guide her--or risk losing everything to the oncoming storm. (description from

A stellar second installment in this dark fantasy trilogy. (Check out my gold star review for book one, Shadow and Bone) Again, Bardugo's world feels alive and real in a way some authors struggle to achieve. The eastern European feeling is evident throughout and I still felt like I could just step into Alina's world and feel the Darkling's power threatening everyone.

The shivers that I felt reading the first book were ramped up a notch and I found myself unable to stop reading as I dove deeper and deeper into Alina's desperate situation. I loved that she was torn, unable to stop thirsting for power, but conscious that she must keep herself in check to save her people.

I cannot wait to see how this darkly fascinating story ends.

Full disclosure: Borrowed from my Library

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Waiting on Wednesday: The Winner's Curse

Waiting on Wednesday is a meme created and hosted by Breaking the Spine and highlights books that bloggers are all itching to get in their greedy little hands. LOL.

My choice for this week is:

The Winner's Curse
by Marie Rutkoski

Publication date: March 14, 2014

Description (from Goodreads):
Seventeen-year-old Kestrel is an aristocratic citizen of Valoria, a vast empire that revels in war and enslaves those it conquers. Here, a girl like Kestrel has two choices: join the military or get married. Despite her skills in military strategy, Kestrel’s real passion is music.Which is why she feels compelled to buy Arin, a slave with a talent for singing, at auction. It’s not long before she finds herself falling in love with Arin, and he seems to feel the same for her. But Kestrel quickly learns that the price she paid for Arin is much higher than she ever could have imagined.

Set in a new world, The Winner’s Curse is a story of wicked rumors, dirty secrets, and games where everything is at stake, and the gamble is whether you will keep your head or lose your heart.

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Top Ten Tuesday: The Top Ten Things That Make My Life as a Blogger Easier/Better

Top Ten Tuesday is a meme created and hosted by The Broke and The Bookish 

Today's Topic: The Top Ten Things That Make My Life as a Blogger Easier/Better: 

1. My Library!! Without my library, I would go broke trying to read everything that I blog about. The Library not only keeps a roof over my head...but it also keeps me in new reading material! LOVE the Library.  

2. Shelfari - This is how I keep track of everything that I read.  It helps me remember which titles I haven't posted reviews for yet, and which titles I can't wait to read.

3. Rafflecopter -  This is what I use now to have contests on my blog. It makes things WAY easier, posts the final winner, and can be customized every time... for free!

4. Bloglovin - I changed over to this site when Google Reader was discontinued.  This allows me to read all the posts for the blogs that I follow in one spot. It makes it easy to see what other people are blogging about and to stay connected to the community!

5. Amazon/Goodreads - I use either one of these to easily grab the official synopsis for books that I blog about.  I don't take the time to write my own descriptions (though I admire that my friend Jen at YABooknerd does!) honestly, just because I'd rather focus on what my reaction to the book was when I'm posting. I'm trying to remember to switch over to Goodreads totally, but most of the time I forget.

6. Vine - If I want to post a video of a book display at work, I use vine to make it.  It's super easy on my iphone and then I can link it to FB or twitter or wherever to spread the video! Easy peasy.

7. Blogger - I'm basically lazy and don't want to have to learn how to code to make my blog awesome and unique, so...for now, blogger's easy template interface makes my life exactly how I want it. Stress-free in the posting zone.

8. Living in CT - There are times that living in the Northeast makes things very, very convenient.  For example, I have been able to go to Book Expo America for the last few years because it's been held in NYC and I'm close enough to go in for the day.  I also live about an hour away from a great indie bookstore called RJ Julia's that gets to host a lot of really great authors that come in to NYC for events and such...

9. My slight tendency towards OCD... (this is sort of tongue-in-cheek, but not really...) No, really. If it weren't for the crazy way that my brain makes me organize certain things, I don't think I'd be able to keep up with blogging. I still have trouble sometimes, especially if I agree to review an ecopy of something and can't *see* it all of the time, BUT with different stacks of books put in a certain order the same way every time I know which books I have to read and when... plus I now have a massive google calendar that I can use on my phone that helps me track all the commitments I make. 

10. My blogging friends in the larger YA community online.  Those times when I forget why I started my blog, or feel like maybe I don't want to keep it's great to have people to chat with, commiserate with, and compare notes. There are times when the online world feels incredibly huge and then there are times when it feels nice and cozy, like everyone knows everyone else.  I like that. 

So, that's that for this week!  

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Books I Can't Wait to Get My Hands On...

Here are some books being released in September that I can't wait to eventually read!! They look so good, I'm going to have to try to squeeze them in somewhere... 

All Our Yesterdays by Cristin Terrill
Time travel to assassinate a loved one... 

Antigoddess by Kendare Blake
The ancient gods start fighting each other to survive.

The Chaos of Stars by Kiersten White
A human daughter of the Egyptian gods... 

The Clockwork Scarab by Colleen Gleason
Sherlock's niece teams up with Bram Stoker's decendent to investigate crimes.
The Coldest Girl in Coldtown by Holly Black
Monsters and humans alike mix in walled "coldtowns." 
Conjured by Sarah Beth Durst
A girl chased by a magic-wielding serial killer must unravel her past. 

Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell
Fan fiction and first love. 

A Radiant Sky by Jocelyn Davies
The final book in a trilogy about an angel caught in a heavenly war

The Waking Dark by Robin Wasserman'
They call it "the killing day." Creepy!

This post was inspired by my librarian friend Jen's 
"Books I'm Dying to Read" posts at YABookNerd

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Movie Review: Despicable Me 2

Despicable Me 2 
Rated: PG
98 minutes

While Gru, the ex-supervillain is adjusting to family life and an attempted honest living in the jam business, a secret Arctic laboratory is stolen. The Anti-Villain League decides it needs an insider's help and recruits Gru in the investigation. Together with the eccentric AVL agent, Lucy Wilde, Gru concludes that his prime suspect is the presumed dead supervillain, El Macho, whose his teenage son is also making the moves on his eldest daughter, Margo. Seemingly blinded by his overprotectiveness of his children and his growing mutual attraction to Lucy, Gru seems on the wrong track even as his minions are being quietly kidnapped en masse for some malevolent purpose. (description from

So... have I mentioned how much I love the minions? I want some of my own!! For reals.  I saw the first movie, Despicable Me, a few years ago on DVD and immediately went out and bought my own copy. Then I started wishing for a sequel.  Just when I thought they would never create a follow-up, they announced not only DM2, but another movie, Minions, that will be coming out in 2014!

There is just something wonderful about the combination of yellow, mostly mute, evil henchmen and a family unit that is truly surprising in its sweetness.  Now that Gru has settled in to having a family, has backed off from his evilness, and has trained his minions to make jam...things are well, maybe too sweet for the movie world... 

Some hilarious examples:
Gru-a-rina has come to make your party special! 

Here we see Gru, stepping in for the fairy who was supposed to entertain at Agnes' birthday party. Unable to break her heart with a no-show fairy, Gru actually puts on the dress, wings, and a falsetto to keep her happy.  *grins*  Let's just say Gru makes an interesting fairy... 

So, Gru, what *are* your hobbies?

Here, Gru finds the girls putting together his online dating profile.  *snarf* I laughed so hard I almost cried here.  They mean well, but Gru's, well Gru, and imagine an ex-super-villain dating online! 

Then, because nothing can stay that easy or happy in the movie world, Gru meets a woman who infuriates and fascinates him. She also tases him at their first meeting! 


Lucy is hilarious and awesome and just the right amount of kick-@ss newbie secret agent to pluck at the heartstrings.  Her unabashed admiration of Gru, his family, his minions, and his past make her a heartwarming addition to the crew.  The way that she helps each of them out without stepping over any boundaries or making them feel awkward was just another example of movie-writing magic.  

I saw this movie with friends and their small children.  I'm happy to report that there was only one moment that was a little too scary for the young ones and within a few funny moments it was smiles all around again.  I left the theater smiling and full of anticipation for Minions.  I'm already plotting my DVD purchase the day this one comes out, and I'll just leave you with a last little glimpse of my personally favorite minion: 

I LOVE CARL.  Bee-do, bee-do, bee-do... 

I consider this movie to be a MUST SEE of the summer!!! 

Monday, August 12, 2013

Confessions of a Reader Facing Burnout

So, I'm a reader. I've always been a reader.

I was that kid who read EVERY DAY...every day growing up.  I still read almost every day.

Reading is how I've always relaxed...hence the name of my blog, LOL.

Image from Wise Craft
As I've gotten older, in general that has not changed. I still feel compelled to read every day and I find that something is missing if I don't.  Reading is probably what could be called my life's passion.

And yet, with all of my professional reading responsibilities now - professionally reviewing for three national magazines, reading to consider books for our library's fourth and fifth grade book club, reading to be able to provide excellent reader's advisory to all my tween and teen library patrons, and finally reading books to consider for the seventh and eighth grade book award committee that I'm co-chairing this year - I'm starting to feel a little reader's burnout.

Image from Talk Nerdy 2 Me
Instead of happily curling up with a book... now I'm starting to feel anxious about my reading.  Though there are plenty, and I mean PLENTY, of books that I would like to read, I literally have no time to just idly pick out a book.  At this point, I have about thirty books waiting to be read in just the next two months!

Every time I put down a book, there are three more waiting to be read and I have no choice any more, really, about what I'm reading.  When a new book or sequel to something comes out that I'm just dying to read, I actually feel guilty if I squeeze in four hours to read it on a weekend.


Reading is not as fun as it used to be...and I miss that.  I miss it a lot.

While there's not too much I can do about things at the moment, I think in the new year I'm going to make some changes. I think I'm going to be cutting back on some of my reading responsibilities so that I can just re-embrace the joy I used to find in reading.  I want to be able to happily peruse the library shelves and just pick up a book that catches my eye and read it that very day.  I want to be able to put a hold on a book and not panic when it actually comes in and I have no time to read it.

I want to READ TO RELAX.

Image from EASLibrary
So, until then, I think that I'm going to ease up a little on the blogging.  Not that I'm going to abandon this blog by any means, but I think I'm going to ease up a little on my book reviews.  I'm going to give myself a mental break and maybe throw in a bunch more of other types of posts.  Memes, movie reviews, celebrity gossip, etc.  Something to make this feel less like just another reading responsibility that I have to keep up with... because I want this to be fun, too!

If you have any commiserations or suggestions for dealing with reader's burnout, let me know! This is the first time in my life that I've ever felt like reading isn't really that fun anymore...

Friday, August 9, 2013

My A to Z Reading Survey!

Jamie from The Perpetual Page-Turner came up with this creative A to Z survey about all things bookish. Since it's a rainy Friday afternoon here, I thought it would be fun to work on this and give you all a little more insight into my recent reading! Check out the original A to Z post here, so you can join in the fun!


Author you’ve read the most books from:

Hmm... this is a close race between Piers Anthony, J. D. Robb(Nora Roberts), and Tamora Pierce.  I think that I've read almost every book they've each written and they've each written plenty!

Best Sequel Ever:

OMG, this is so hard! I guess in recent times, it's been The Queen is Dead by Kate Locke.  I loved the first book, but thought this second one was AMAZING.  I can't wait for book three.

Currently Reading:

The Savage Fortress by Sarwat Chadda and Clockwork Fairy Tales, a Collection of Steampunk Fables.  

Drink of Choice While Reading:

Coffee in the morning (or if it's cold in any way) or water.

E-reader or Physical Book?

Either or... though if the book is huge or if I'm traveling, I definitely prefer them on my Nook now. 

Fictional Character You Probably Would Have Actually Dated In High School:

Ummm... I was sort of a late-bloomer, so I probably wouldn't have dated any fictional character before I started dating my husband our senior year, but if I had to pick, Tucker from the Unearthly series by Cynthia Hand (who is pretty much just like my husband...). 

Glad You Gave This Book A Chance:

Boy21 by Matthew Quick. I never would have picked this one up on my own (I hated the cover and I don't generally read sports books) but this one was GREAT. 

Hidden Gem Book:

Rampant by Diana Peterfreund... I try to recommend this one to everyone. KILLER UNICORNS!

Important Moment in your Reading Life:
Going to BEA for the first time! (Check out info on BEA here) That was one of my favorite days ever!! 

Just Finished:

Colin Fischer by Ashley Edward Miller and Zack Stentz. 

Kinds of Books You Won’t Read:

Generally, I tend to avoid "war" books and I'm not a huge non-fiction reader.  Other than that, I'm pretty open to anything! 

Longest Book You’ve Read:

Probably A Game of Thrones by George R. R. Martin (835 pages). I tried to read Gone with the Wind by Margaret Mitchell (1037 pages) in high school, but as I didn't finish it, that can't count. :P

Major book hangover because of:

The Scorpio Races by Maggie Stiefvater. I didn't want to read anything for a while after that one.  It was just too beautifully done! 

Number of Bookcases You Own:

Four. I have three "regular" short, wide bookcases and one really tall bookcase that I use as a pretty display for my absolute favorite books. 

One Book You Have Read Multiple Times:

Alanna: The First Adventure by Tamora Pierce.  This is my heart book. The one book I love above all others.  I reread it at least once a year. 

Preferred Place To Read:

Honestly, bed.  I read every night before I go to sleep and if I can sneak in there on the weekends or my days off to read, I often will... 

Quote that inspires you/gives you all the feels from a book you’ve read:

Oh, I have several: 
First there is an entire scene in Unearthly where Tucker tells Clara that he loves her and he just had to say it, but that he has no expectation that she say it back right then....OMG, my husband and I had that exact conversation and I just can't even... this moment in this book...the FEELS! 

Second, from Lola and the Boy Next Door by Stephanie Perkins, "hand in hand with the boy who gave me the moon and the stars."  *sigh* 

Third, from For Darkness Shows the Stars by Diana Peterfreund, "No matter where I went, I always knew my way back to you. You are my compass star." *sigh, sigh, sigh... sigh* 

Reading Regret:

I regret the number of years that I went thinking that Tamora Pierce had only written one book! My public library only had one when I was young and so, because I never thought to ask *headdesk*, I mistakenly thought that was it for her.  How wrong I was! When I finally found out my mistake, I spent the next year or so reading EVERY OTHER BOOK SHE'D EVER WRITTEN! Crazy. 

Series You Started And Need To Finish (all books are out in series):

I have two - The Pendragon series by D.J. MacHale (I've read all but book ten!) and the Vampire Academy series by Richelle Mead (I still need to read the last two!) 

Three of your All-Time Favorite Books:

I'm going to try for ones I haven't mentioned yet... The Host by Stephenie Meyer, Blood and Chocolate by Annette Curtis Klause and Poison Study by Maria V. Snyder.

Unapologetic Fangirl For:

Tamora Pierce. Writing goddess. 
Diana Peterfreund.  Anything she writes, I will read. No questions asked. 

Very Excited For This Release More Than All The Others:

At the moment, Infinityglass by Myra McEntire. I CANNOT wait to devour that book. 

Worst Bookish Habit:

I think mine might be my inability to be without a pile of books waiting to be read... I have this inane fear that I won't have anything to read.  I work in a library, which definitely does NOT help me with this problem... 

X Marks The Spot: Start at the top left of your shelf and pick the 27th book:

Oooh. I'm not at home, so I'm going to do this virtually. I'm going to go onto my Nook page and I'll tell you the 27th book in my unread shelf...

Flightless Bird by Paulina Ulrich. 

Your latest book purchase:

Greta and the Goblin King by Chloe Jacobs. 

ZZZ-snatcher book (last book that kept you up WAY late):

I could not put down This is Not a Test by Courtney Summers once I started reading it.  I finally had to force myself to put it down with like five chapters to go when I couldn't get my eyes to focus any more. 

So, what are your reading A to Zs??

DNF - Doll Bones

Doll Bones 
by Holly Black

Zach, Poppy, and Alice have been friends forever. And for almost as long, they’ve been playing one continuous, ever-changing game of pirates and thieves, mermaids and warriors. Ruling over all is the Great Queen, a bone-china doll cursing those who displease her.

But they are in middle school now. Zach’s father pushes him to give up make-believe, and Zach quits the game. Their friendship might be over, until Poppy declares she’s been having dreams about the Queen—and the ghost of a girl who will not rest until the bone-china doll is buried in her empty grave.

Zach and Alice and Poppy set off on one last adventure to lay the Queen’s ghost to rest. But nothing goes according to plan, and as their adventure turns into an epic journey, creepy things begin to happen. Is the doll just a doll or something more sinister? And if there really is a ghost, will it let them go now that it has them in its clutches? (description from

I love Holly Black. I wanted to love this book. Instead, I found that it did not hold my attention at all. I didn't connect with the characters and by the time the Queen doll started to get creepy, I just didn't care.  I was honestly sad to put this one down, but with so many books to read, I found myself unwilling to take the time to finish a story I had no interest in... 

However, many other readers loved this book, so, don't take my word as the be-all-end-all...Check out these other reviews:

Full disclosure: Borrowed from my Library

Thursday, August 8, 2013

Happy Release Day to Charmed Vengeance!

Faeries, air pirates, secrets, and more... a steampunky adventure that I devoured. You can check out my review here.

This is book two, so be forewarned, the description is a little spoiler-y and you will want to start reading the series with INNOCENT DARKNESS!!

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.

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Gold Star Interview - Josin McQuein!

Hello All!

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

Today's guest is the fabulous Josin McQuein! I'm so excited. I loved Josie's science fiction thriller,
Arclight. You can go back and check out my gushy Gold Star Review here.

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

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

Ha! All told? 15+ years. Arclight came from several other things that I starting writing back when I was in high school. Most of it was from a space opera screenplay that I wrote as a teenager. Other bits and characters came from a vampire novel that never was, and a zombie story that didn't work.

Once the story was framed out as Arclight, however, it was about 18 months from first draft to final edit.

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

I think maybe mysteries or science fiction for an older audience.

Neither Arclight, nor Premeditated (comes out in October!) started off as YA-centric. I aged the characters down to fit the category, but originally, the component stories all had adult casts.

3. I LOVED that Arclight revealed the science-fiction-y bits slowly as Marina started to discover the Arclight Leaders' secrets... did you do any special research into some of the "history" that Marina discovers, the things that bring them to a world with the Fade?

Not really. I'm a long-time sci-fi fan, and my original career path was genetic engineering. I had just enough base knowledge to cobble together some pseudo-science to make the Fade "work."

For the internal workings, the Arclight's not that different from reality, at its heart. The people in charge don't always consult with the rest of the population before they make decisions that can effect everyone, and this is especially true for young people. It's sad, but adults don't always trust that teens have the capacity to reason through problems on their own.

And this may sound strange, but I never "set" my stories anywhere. The settings exist in a void, to me, so I don't usually research settings. No cities or geographical locations were mentioned in the original drafts; that was added later because my editor wanted something a little more concrete.

4. If you could cross one thing off your bucket list tomorrow, what would it be?
Go everywhere.
(LOL, that's on my list, too!)

5. Quick picks list:
Favorite vacation destination?
DisneyWorld. Sounds cheesy, but it's true.

Favorite childhood book?Wait Til Helen Comes

Favorite writing snack food?
None. I can't eat or drink and write at the same time. My keyboard suffers for it.
(Hmmm...I would have to schedule myself in lots of breaks then!)

Favorite clothing item?
A blue shirt that I actually bought as a teenager.

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

For more information about Josie and her books, check out her blog at or follow her on twitter (@JosinMcQuein)! 

Monday, August 5, 2013

Guest Post (with a bonus chapter!!) - Olivia Cooper

Today, I'm excited to welcome author, Olivia Cooper, to the blog!

The first book in her Rex Deus Dynasty is actually FREE on right now (through Aug. 9th) and to help spread the word and celebrate, Olivia actually wrote a BONUS CHAPTER to reveal on my blog! Beyond exciting!

First, here's the info on book one, Shadow:

Angelina Hathaway was a baby when her mother gave her up for adoption. Now eighteen years old, she meets Guillermo - a handsome, arrogant boy who was sent from Europe to tell her that she’s inherited a vast fortune from her birth parents along with an explosive secret about her lineage that will change her forever.

Unfortunately, there are people who know her secret and will stop at nothing to control her for their own purposes, or even kill her. In order to escape, she must decide between those she can trust and those she can’t…before it’s too late.

And...drumroll, please... here's the bonus chapter for you, exclusively on my blog(!):

Diamonds Found at Market
Cairo, Egypt – 1000 A.D.

“My Lady,” he said.  “I have something of great value to show you.”

We had chosen to spend the afternoon wandering the market and vendors often approached us marketing their wares.  The man in front of us was short, wrapped in robes and dusty looking.  I looked into his eyes and saw ambition.

“Stay away from him,” my duenna whispered.  “He’s said to be cursed.”

“Cursed?”  I laughed.  “But I don’t believe in superstition.  Who is he?”

“He’s a blasphemer,” she said.  “He breaks into the great pharaohs tombs and steals their treasures.”

I know my duenna meant to dissuade me, but this only piqued my interest.  Sometimes I wish I could wander the market without my duenna who questioned my every word and move, but it was only proper for a young lady to be escorted in public.

“What do you have for me?” I asked, as my duenna flinched.

The man looked around to see who might be standing nearby and then, seeing the coast was clear, stepped a few inches closer and pulled out a pouch.  He opened the pouch and pulled out a red diamond necklace and matching earrings.  There were red diamonds that ran along the circumference of the necklace, all around the neckline.  At the center was the largest diamond I had ever seen.  It was almost 2 inches long and an inch across.  And red.  I’d never seen anything like it.  The diamonds sparkled in the sunlight and the color was so brilliant that it made me warm inside my chest.  I had hundreds of valuable jewelry pieces at home but nothing like this. 

I could also see that my duenna was right.  The design of the setting was done in the old style.  This piece had probably been dug out from an ancient tomb and could be thousands of years old.  This necklace had once been worn by a queen – either a female pharaoh or a pharaoh’s wife.  I had to have it.

“What do you want for it?”  I asked him.

“Death comes to those who defile the pharaoh’s tombs,” my duenna urgently whispered to me.  “Leave this cursed necklace with him and let’s go.”  But I couldn’t take my eyes off of it.  It was so brilliant, it almost glowed.  I could already picture myself in it.

“A hundred gold pieces,” he said.  It was more than most men made from ten years of work.

“Done,” I said. “Go see our house treasurer for payment. I’ll tell him to expect you.”

He bowed his head and handed me the pouch with the jewels inside.  On the walk back to our house, my duenna didn’t bother to speak to me.  I surmised she was upset with me, but I knew she’d get over it, like she always did.

Once home, we went our separate ways.  I went straight to my chambers to try on my new jewels and see what I looked like in the mirror.  I called my body servant to help me put on the jewelry.

“Where did you get this?” She gasped.

“The gems were pulled from a nearby mine and I had them made into a necklace and earrings,” I lied.  I didn’t want word getting back to my parents that I had purchased jewelry stolen from a pharaoh’s tomb.  They would never forgive me.  I couldn’t tell whether my body servant believed me but I knew she wouldn’t argue.  She carefully put the earrings in my ears and attached the necklace around my neck.  She pulled my hair back into a bun so I could get a better look.

“You look stunning,” she said, wide-eyed.  “Like a queen.”

I had to agree.  I moved my shoulders and head in slightly different directions so that sunlight could bounce off the diamonds and make them sparkle.  I was mesmerized and so was my body servant.

The spell was broken when we heard a clatter in the hall.  I looked to the door and tried to hear what was happening.  Suddenly, my door was kicked in. 

“You’ve been sleeping with him!”  My betrothed yelled at me.  As children, our parents had agreed to marry us once we were of age, but I couldn’t stand him.  He was controlling and had a horrible temper.  I rued the day that we would be married, even if it did mean that I could dismiss my duenna.

“Who?” I shouted back.

“Don’t pretend you don’t know.  I’ve seen the way he looks at you and the way you look at him.  It’s obvious.  Besides, I have proof now – my men saw you walking with him along the edge of the river, without your duenna.” He sneered.

“That’s ridiculous!  That doesn’t mean anything!”

He looked at my necklace and earrings.

“A gift from him!”  He said as he picked up the necklace in his hands and inspected it.

“I bought it at the market this afternoon,” I said.  “It wasn’t a gift!”

“I can’t marry someone who’s been with someone else.  I won’t have you as my bride!”

I stood there and wondered how he could possibly undo the contract that betrothed us.  Our parents had agreed to marry us when we were of age and these things rarely changed.  If only he could, I hoped.  I looked at him and he had a scary, wild look in his eyes.  I had never seen him like this.  Suddenly, he pulled a knife from his vest and plunged it into my chest.

“I won’t be dishonored,” I heard him say just before everything went black.  

Olivia, thank you SO much for writing this awesome bonus chapter for my blog! I'm so intrigued to go read the whole book now. If you are, too, here's all the places you can find it... 

To read Shadow, the book that inspired this bonus chapter, you can visit Amazon to download the Kindle version (free of charge during August 5th – August 9th):

This book is also available as a paperback:

To be notified when other Bonus Chapters are published, just Like Olivia Cooper's Facebook page:

Thursday, August 1, 2013

Cover Craving...Cress!

by Marissa Meyer
The Lunar Chronicles, book three

Publication Date: February 4, 2013

Sooooo much cover love.

Across a Star-Swept Sea

Across a Star-Swept Sea 
by Diana Peterfreund
Companion to For Darkness Shows the Stars

Publication Date: October 15, 2013

Centuries after wars nearly destroyed civilization, the two islands of New Pacifica stand alone, a paradise where even the Reduction—the devastating brain disorder that sparked the wars—is a distant memory. Yet on the island of Galatea, an uprising against the aristocracy has turned deadly. The revolutionaries' weapon is a drug that damages their enemies' brains, and the only hope is rescue by a mysterious spy known as the Wild Poppy.

On neighboring Albion, no one suspects that the Wild Poppy is actually famously frivolous teenage aristocrat Persis Blake. Her gossipy flutternotes are encrypted plans, her pampered sea mink is genetically engineered for spying, and her well-publicized new romance with handsome Galatean medic Justen Helo . . . is her most dangerous mission ever.

Justen is hiding things, too—his disenchantment with his country's revolution, his undeniable attraction to the silly socialite he's pretending to love. Persis is also falling for Justen, but when she discovers his greatest secret—one that could plunge New Pacifica into another dark age—she realizes she's not just risking her heart, she's risking the world she's sworn to protect. (Description from

I *LOVE* Diana Peterfreund. There, I said it.  I love all of her books, I think she's a great person and having met her more than once now, I have officially fallen into "crazy fan-girl" status... For example, I saw DP at BEA this year from across an aisle as I was standing in line to get a signed ARC from Holly Black.  Thankfully, I was standing in line with Evie from Bookish, who very sweetly held my place in line as I ran across the aisle to harass gush at DP.  I was so gushy, in fact, that the super-sweet DP pulled out her *last* ARC of Across and signed it for me on the spot. I almost died! 

Anyway...This book is just another reason why I love DP.  Like For Darkness Shows the Stars (see my gold star review here), this book is based on a classic.  This companion book is actually inspired by The Scarlet Pimpernel, which I've never read, but having read the description I can very much see how the Scarlet Pimpernel inspired Persis' Wild Poppy.  

I found Persis herself to be a fascinating character.  Uber-intelligent, Persis realizes that in order to do the best thing for her country, while it's on the brink of war, she must actually play dumb.  Persis becomes the epitome of a superficial socialite in order to defray any order to let the Wild Poppy remain undiscovered.  She is SO good at her scheme that even her parents have no idea what she's really up to... Experiencing the dichotomy of Persis' two worlds, the whirlwind of the posh Lady-in-Waiting and the dangerous rescue missions as the Poppy... it was so exciting, I felt like I could drop right into her world.  

I loved watching the relationship develop between Persis and Justen.  I like that DP does not do "insta-love."  These relationships have major ups and downs, and often the characters really have to work at it for things to work out. That makes them feel SO much more real to me. I like the added depth and the gratification I feel when they finally head in the direction I'm dying for them to go, LOL.  [And, yes, for those who are wondering, we do get a connection back to FDStS in this book...]

Can I but hope for a third book in this world???

Full disclosure: Signed ARC received (from DP herself!!) at BEA 2013.