Pages

Thursday, February 28, 2013

The False Prince

The False Prince
by Jennifer Nielsen
The Ascendance Trilogy, book one
 
In this first book in a remarkable trilogy, an orphan is forced into a twisted game with deadly stakes.

Choose to lie...or choose to die.

In a discontent kingdom, civil war is brewing. To unify the divided people, Conner, a nobleman of the court, devises a cunning plan to find an impersonator of the king's long-lost son and install him as a puppet prince. Four orphans are recruited to compete for the role, including a defiant boy named Sage. Sage knows that Conner's motives are more than questionable, yet his life balances on a sword's point -- he must be chosen to play the prince or he will certainly be killed. But Sage's rivals have their own agendas as well.

As Sage moves from a rundown orphanage to Conner's sumptuous palace, layer upon layer of treachery and deceit unfold, until finally, a truth is revealed that, in the end, may very well prove more dangerous than all of the lies taken together.  (description from Amazon.com)
 
Danger, political intrigue, secrets, lies... Sage's story is full of suspense and moments that may shock readers.  While I thoroughly enjoyed this book...and really loved the way the story was presented, when the "big reveal" came, I wasn't that surprised.  I was actually a little shocked at how easily I deduced what was going on. 
 
Despite that, I really enjoyed Sage's character, thought the premise was excellent, and was left clamboring for the next book.  All in all, a winner, despite the lack of surprise. 
 
Full disclosure: Borrowed from my library

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Scarlet

Scarlet
by Marissa Meyer
The Lunar Chronicles, book two

Cinder, the cyborg mechanic, returns in the second thrilling installment of the bestselling Lunar Chronicles. She's trying to break out of prison--even though if she succeeds, she'll be the Commonwealth's most wanted fugitive.
 
Halfway around the world, Scarlet Benoit's grandmother is missing. It turns out there are many things Scarlet doesn't know about her grandmother or the grave danger she has lived in her whole life. When Scarlet encounters Wolf, a street fighter who may have information as to her grandmother's whereabouts, she is loath to trust this stranger, but is inexplicably drawn to him, and he to her. As Scarlet and Wolf unravel one mystery, they encounter another when they meet Cinder. Now, all of them must stay one step ahead of the vicious Lunar Queen Levana, who will do anything for the handsome Prince Kai to become her husband, her king, her prisoner. (description from Amazon.com)
 
I loved Cinder so much that I was actually a little nervous to read this book. However, I need not have been worried! Meyer manages to blend both storylines so well that both Cinder and Scarlet become and stay compelling heroines. This gives me great hope that the series will continue to be EPIC.
 
Anyway... Cinder's storyline continues to be intriguing and at the moment heartbreaking.  In the chapters that alternated (one for every two or three Scarlet chapters) interspersed into the larger story, we get to see Cinder escape from prison and continue to learn more about her back story. As much as we learned here, I can't wait for the next book (Cress, 2014) to find out even more - what Cinder can do, who can help her, how exactly she became who she is today.
 
Scarlet's story not only brought in new characters, but also added dimension to Cinder's tale. We find out more about Queen Levana's plans and what she has in place on earth. Wolf's character is both there for his overall "hunkiness" and to help move that plotline along rather nicely.  You can really see Meyer's talent as a storyteller and worldbuilder. Things that seemingly have no connection end up building upon one another to create a more fleshed world.
 
A fantastic addition to the Lunar Chronicles series.
 
Full disclosure: Audio book received to review for AudioFile Magazine 

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Me, Him, Them, and It

Me, Him, Them, and It
by Caela Carter
 
When Evelyn decided to piss off her parents with a bad reputation, she wasn't planning to ruin her valedictorian status. She also wasn't planning to fall for Todd-the guy she was just using for sex. And she definitely wasn't planning on getting pregnant. When Todd turns his back on her, Evelyn's not sure where to go. Can a distant mother, a cheating father, an angry best friend, and a (thankfully) loving aunt with adopted daughters of her own help Evelyn make the heart-wrenching decisions that follow? (decsription from Amazon.com)
 
This book was just what I needed to get me out of my mini reading funk.  I think I'd read too many fantasy based book recently, so I knew I needed some good realistic fiction.  Me, Him, Them, and It fit the bill perfectly!
 
Carter depicts a teenage girl who makes a mistake and then must pay the consequences for it.  I really liked how Evelyn was not just some "bad" girl who accidentally winds up pregnant...she is a future valedictorian rebelling against her parents in the worst possible way.  She felt like a hugely well-rounded character to me.  In fact, I loved most of the characters.  They were flawed and realistic and even if some might not have been fully developed, they at least represented a really varied cast of characters.
 
Seeing the confused and scared way that Evie reacts over the nine months felt "real." I couldn't imagine what I would have done in that situation and I thought Carter did an excellent job conveying all the emotional turmoil that erupted in Evie's life.  This is a book that pulls no punches emotionally.  I cried my way through the ending.  Heartbroken, awed, and then optimistically, yet cautiously joyous. 
 
I found myself comparing this book to Holly Cupala's Tell Me a Secret. They both cover an unexpected teen pregnancy in a very realistic and emotionally evocative way. If you liked that one, check this one out...and if you like this one, check out that one next!
 
Full disclosure: eARC received from Netgalley for review

Monday, February 25, 2013

Monday's Movie and TV Talk! (7)


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

Okay, so remember when I reviewed Beautiful Creatures (read it here) and told ya'll that the main reason I read it was because I was SO excited for the movie? Well, guess what I saw last week on President's Day??!


First off, I have to mention how much I LOVE going to the movies at odd times. I went on Monday morning to the early show (10 a.m.) and I was one of three people in the whole theater! It really makes the experience so much more fun if I can actually hear the whole movie without the crowd noise. (And, yes, I do know that this makes me *that* weird girl that goes to the movies alone...I don't care! LOL.)
 
I also want to mention that I was right *brushes shoulders off proudly* when I said in my review that this book translates really well to the big screen.  This movie was good.  I really liked it and will probably see it again...even though they did change some BIG things!
 
All right, without trying to ruin this for anyone, I will try to disclose how I felt about the changes without giving too much away.  Let's see if I can do it!
 
One: A huge revelation about a character's secret identity is revealed about one third of the way into the movie...allowing viewers to build the story upon that reveal...BUT I loved how in the book, I was pretty sure that was going on, but did not find out for sure until the LAST third of the book.  I thought it was much more dramatic in the book, though the revelation scene in the movie was well done, too!
 
Two: Although the movie still features one of the coolest libraries I've ever seen in fiction, I was saddened that they combined two characters in the movie, cutting out the awesome librarian from the book series. I suppose this was to make it easier for viewers to keep track of characters, but it also inadvertantly changed Ethan's mother's backstory in a way I wasn't too fond of... *and* the library itself is a little downplayed in the movie. *My librarian heart is breaking.*
 
Three: When Lena must finally face what is going to happen on her sixteenth birthday, she decides to handle the situation all on her own.  A HUGE change from the book.  This change sets in motion a bunch of littler changes, including the entire moral character of one of her cousins, and allowed for a very different ending to seem to happen. Thankfully, in truly movie magic fashion, and a very dramatic way, the moviemakers pulled through at the last moment and things work out again...though it will make for an interesting start to the second movie...
 
All in all, I thoroughly enjoyed the movie and think that people who have not read the book will love it.  I think readers will probably bemoan the same things that I did, but also realize that this made for a great *movie* experience.  And now, I have to read book two!

Sunday, February 24, 2013

This Week's Library Loot (8)


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


My Library Loot:










Georgina 
by Clare Darcy











One for the Murphys
by Lynda Mullaly Hunt



The Night Before St. Patrick's Day 
by Natasha Wing and Amy Wummer


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

Friday, February 22, 2013

Goblin Secrets
















Goblin Secrets
by William Alexander

In the town of Zombay, there is a witch named Graba who has clockwork chicken legs and moves her house around—much like the fairy tale figure of Baba Yaga. Graba takes in stray children, and Rownie is the youngest boy in her household. Rownie’s only real relative is his older brother Rowan, who is an actor. But acting is outlawed in Zombay, and Rowan has disappeared.

Desperate to find him, Rownie joins up with a troupe of goblins who skirt the law to put on plays. But their plays are not only for entertainment, and the masks they use are for more than make-believe. The goblins also want to find Rowan—because Rowan might be the only person who can save the town from being flooded by a mighty river. (description from Amazon.com)

I picked up this book originally because not only did it win last year's National Book Award, but also because as a fantasy reader at heart, the premise just sounded too good to pass up! As I read, though, I found that I was having a hard time keeping interest in this book.  It has a lot of really fascinating fantasy elements - there's a tie-in to the Baba Yaga myth, goblins, masks with power - but I think it was just the storytelling itself that couldn't grab me.  I was a little disappointed that I had to push myself to finish this one.

Full disclosure: Borrowed from my library

Thursday, February 21, 2013

BookBliss.com - Books and Cupcakes

Ummm...So I LOVE books, and ummm...I also love cupcakes. I'm pretty sure almost everyone does! So, when the BookExpo America publicity team sent me the info for BookBliss.com, I had to check it out.

What is BookBliss.com?

Here is the introductory letter (copied directly off the site) explaining where the concept for the whole website and video series came from:

Have Your (Cup)cake and Read it Too!

Dear Book Lovers,

I’m so excited to debut a video series that we have collaborated on with Huffington Post Books—it’s called Have Your (Cup)cake and Read it Too. This original idea was inspired by the cupcake creations of my colleague Cassandra and the great mind of our social media community manager Joseph Vella. Let me now turn it over to Cassandra…

Believe me when I say that all cupcakes are not created equal – although I give all cupcakes the same love and passion, these particular cupcakes were created with a little more eagerness. Reading Life of Pi by Yann Martel left me inspired and hopeful – a common theme lingering throughout the book – and as an enthusiastic reader and passionate baker (cupcakes being my forte), a cupcake based on Life of Pi was in order. Moved by the many themes of the book, I created a cupcake with many layers to reflect the many “layers” that are revealed as you read deeper into the book. The base of the cupcake is a twisting mesh between dyed-orange French vanilla and chocolate cake to resemble Pi and Richard Parker’s intertwined fate. The frosting was prepared with the color orange in mind – a symbol of hope and survival—and interlaced with crushed biscuits which sustained Pi throughout the book and also the anchor of the cupcake. Download the recipe here.
 


Books create a formula much like creating a recipe for baking. The theme, setting, character, plot and resolution are the ingredients to a great novel.

Please enjoy and we hope you will be inspired to not only read these books but bake some cupcakes too!

Blissfully yours,

Kim & Cassandra


Doesn't this whole video series sound great?! I'm definitely going to be checking out the videos and my husband may be eating more cupcakes than he expects in the near future, LOL! YUM!

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Drama

Drama
by Raina Telgemeier
 
Callie loves theater. And while she would totally try out for her middle school's production of Moon Over Mississippi, she's a terrible singer. Instead she's the set designer for the stage crew, and this year she's determined to create a set worthy of Broadway on a middle-school budget. But how can she, when she doesn't know much about carpentry, ticket sales are down, and the crew members are having trouble working together? Not to mention the onstage AND offstage drama that occurs once the actors are chosen, and when two cute brothers enter the picture, things get even crazier! (description from Amazon.com)
 
I have to admit, I'm not a huge graphic novel reader and that's partly because I have a little bit of trouble following the panels in the manga style ones.  I do, however, occasionally find some graphic novels that I truly adore and both of Raina Telgemeier's fall into this category.
 
I love the colors, the drawing styles and they are easy to follow!  While her first one, Smile, was somewhat autobiographical, Drama is just a cool middle school story.  Callie loves theater and wants to become a set designer someday for Broadway.  Seeing her passion made me think back about all the plays and musicals I've seen and how important the stage set can actually be...
 
I also loved seeing her embrace her passion and not be ashamed at all of being into a "dorky" club.  It was great to see all the drama "geeks." I was once a drama geek so I loved that connection! Callie's friends each had their own passion and none of them hesitated to do the very best they could in their own facet of the show. 
 
The friendships and crushes seemed very realistic and reminiscent of how I remember feeling about people and interacting with them in my own middle school years.  I also loved that Telgemeier addressed homosexuality in a very easy manner, making it not the focus of the story, but just a natural part of Callie's day to day experience. 
 
I really thought this was a great read that left me smiling. I would love to read more about Callie and her friends.  
 

Full disclosure: Borrowed from my library

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

February Bookworms Meeting - Three Times Lucky by Sheila Turnage

This past Thursday we had our second meeting of the 4th & 5th grade book club - The BOOKWORMS - at our library. It went really well! Attendance was still a little low, but the girls that came had loved our activity and we had some awesome discussions about the book. 

For the February meeting, the kids chose to read THREE TIMES LUCKY. It is a action-packed Southern mystery with a very plucky narrator named Mo. There's murder, mayhem, a tornado, sass, and plenty of heart. 

Book Description:
Rising sixth grader Miss Moses LoBeau lives in the small town of Tupelo Landing, NC, where everyone's business is fair game and no secret is sacred. She washed ashore in a hurricane eleven years ago, and she's been making waves ever since. Although Mo hopes someday to find her "upstream mother," she's found a home with the Colonel--a café owner with a forgotten past of his own--and Miss Lana, the fabulous café hostess. She will protect those she loves with every bit of her strong will and tough attitude. So when a lawman comes to town asking about a murder, Mo and her best friend, Dale Earnhardt Johnson III, set out to uncover the truth in hopes of saving the only family Mo has ever known.

I loved this book, the girls loved the book, and what do you know?  Shortly after we picked it, it was announced as a Newbery Medal Honor book for 2012!!

To start the program, again we had a little trivia contest, with blowpops as the prize for most correct answers, and then I had a list of discussion questions that we talked about. Here are a couple quick examples:

*What really makes up a family?

*How did living in a small town affect Mo's life?

*If you had a friend with an abusive parent (or other adult) in their life, what would you do?

Some of their answers were pretty insightful, and some parked excellent new discussions. I love hearing what their perspectives are on real life issues!

We finished up the meeting by making our own MESSAGE IN A BOTTLE. We used baby food jars and I printed out paper from the computer that had a parchment look.  I let the girls use the special edging scissors to make cool effects and then we wrote with fancy pens that look like paint.

This particular message is mine, but the girls decided to write messages that they were going to throw in the sea while they were on vacation. They used the library address as a place that someone finding the message could write back to...we'll have to see if they make any new pen pals. The girls loved it!!

All in all, a GREAT meeting!

Next month: One for the Murphys by Lynda Mullaly Hunt.

Saturday, February 16, 2013

God Save the Queen

God Save the Queen
by Kate Locke
The Immortal Empire, book one
 
Queen Victoria rules with an immortal fist.

The undead matriarch of a Britain where the Aristocracy is made up of werewolves and vampires, where goblins live underground and mothers know better than to let their children out after dark. A world where being nobility means being infected with the Plague (side-effects include undeath), Hysteria is the popular affliction of the day, and leeches are considered a delicacy. And a world where technology lives side by side with magic. The year is 2012.

Xandra Vardan is a member of the elite Royal Guard, and it is her duty to protect the Aristocracy. But when her sister goes missing, Xandra will set out on a path that undermines everything she believed in and uncover a conspiracy that threatens to topple the empire. And she is the key-the prize in a very dangerous struggle. (description from Amazon.com)

Oh, I almost gave this book a shiny gold star.  Almost. 

This book reminded me a lot of Gail Carriger's brand of steampunk in that there were paranormal creatures of every variety and some awesome costumes/gadgetry.  Unlike Carriger's books, though, this was set in an alternate contemporary London...

This made for the COOLEST blend of modern euphamisms and societal behaviors, blended with some of my favorite bits of historical etiquette.  The world-building by Locke, here, was brilliant.  I loved the way that she explained the creation of paranormal cretures and their ranking in society. I loved that all of that knowledge built to a revelation at the end that I actually DID NOT see coming...for once! 

This book was an utter delight of a romp. Just what I needed for a little mental break.  Something I outright devoured and I cannot wait to dive into book two, The Queen is Dead.

Full disclosure: Purchased for my Nook

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Cover Craving...Sweet Legacy!!

Sweet Legacy
by Tera Lynn Childs
Sweet Venom, book three
 
Publication date: September 3, 2013
 
I LOVE both this series and the great covers for them! This one is a perfect compliment to the first two and I cannot wait to hold a copy in my hands...


Hokey Pokey


Hokey Pokey
by Jerry Spinelli

Welcome to Hokey Pokey. A place and a time, when childhood is at its best: games to play, bikes to ride, experiences to be had. There are no adults in Hokey Pokey, just kids, and the laws governing Hokey Pokey are simple and finite. But when one of the biggest kids, Jack, has his beloved bike stolen—and by a girl, no less—his entire world, and the world of Hokey Pokey, turns to chaos. Without his bike, Jack feels like everything has started to go wrong. He feels different, not like himself, and he knows something is about to change. And even more troubling he alone hears a faint train whistle. But that's impossible: every kid knows there no trains in Hokey Pokey, only tracks. (description from Amazon.com)

I had a really hard time with this book. When you start reading it, it's as if you are waking up and have entered a dream. Nothing is explained very well and Spinelli reveals the way things work veerrrryyyy slowly.

At first I really had no idea what Hokey Pokey was supposed to be - why were the kids there, what IS this place? I was SO confused. It took until more than halfway through the book for me to understand enough to realize that Hokey Pokey was a metaphor for the land of childhood!
 
I had an inkling, but it took a long time for that theme to really develop itself.  I found so many things confusing, and in the audio book version, there is no map of Hokey Pokey, so that was a little disorienting and the words "Hokey Pokey" are also used by Spinelli for four different things...not at all confusing to listen to!
 
Overall, I found that the concept of this book has been explored better in other books. I found the writing style (almost stream of consciousness) to be disorienting, and I just never really felt at all invested in the characters.  In fact, I found myself mostly pissed off at the author listening, because every time I tried to like a character, they did something stereotypical or gender specific that just made me aggravated all over again. 
 
I almost want to write to Spinelli and ask why he felt the need to have boys and girls feel they need to be at war with one another constantly? Why they can't like the same things?  Why they had separate sections of Hokey Pokey to enjoy?

Not the book for me. :/
 
Full disclosure: Audio book received to review for SLJ

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Eye of the Storm


Eye of the Storm
by Kate Messner

In the not-too-distant future, huge tornadoes and monster storms have become a part of everyday life. Sent to spend the summer in the heart of storm country with her meteorological engineer father, Jaden Meggs is surprised at the strides her father's company StormSafe, has made with custom shelters that keep her family safe in even the worst of storms. At her exclusive summer science camp, Eye On Tomorrow, Jaden meets Alex, a boy whose passion for science matches hers. Together, they discover that her father's company is steering storms away from the expensive neighborhoods and toward the organic farming communities that are in competition with his bio-engineered food company, NatureMade. Jaden must confront her father, but when she does, she uncovers a terrifying family secret and must call on both her scientific knowledge and her faith to save the people she loves most from one of her father's monster storms. (description from Amazon.com)

This was a really cool science fiction thriller. Messner was able to give readers a good amount of weather based information without starting to sound at all like you were sitting in class. The action just kept coming!

The storms that Jaden, her friends, and family have to face in this book were downright scary! I was a little terrified to look out the windows as I read, for fear of seeing a funnel cloud forming... The idea that that weather might be being controlled...the possibilities were creepy.

I was on the edge of my seat for most of this book and found that I read it much faster than I'd expected! It was quick and interesting. Something different. :)

Full disclosure: Borrowed from my library

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Wonder


Wonder
by R.J. Palacio

I won't describe what I look like. Whatever you're thinking, it's probably worse.

August Pullman was born with a facial deformity that, up until now, has prevented him from going to a mainstream school. Starting 5th grade at Beecher Prep, he wants nothing more than to be treated as an ordinary kid—but his new classmates can’t get past Auggie’s extraordinary face. (description from Amazon.com)

I really enjoyed this book. It is interesting and heartfelt and sends a great message to just be kind to other people. Poor Auggie has a face that sends others screaming, but when he starts regular school, he finds that once people get to know him they can get past that and he makes some wonderful friends.

I found this book to be very realistic in that not everyone came to love Auggie. Some of the kids he met were still jerks and so were their parents. Some of the things that people said to Auggie were exactly the type of things that I could imagine people saying in real life. What I loved, though, was the people who came to stand up for Auggie...and the people that learned from Auggie.

This book is mostly told from Auggie's perspective, making it heartbreaking at times to read, but it is also told at points from the perspectives of his sister, his best friend, and others in his life. This added a bunch of really cool viewpoints that made the story much more real, as well.

Recommended to anyone that likes real-life stories and books that explore family relationships.
 
Full disclosure: Borrowed from my library

Monday, February 11, 2013

Monday's Movie and TV Talk! (6)

 
Welcome to Monday's Movie and TV Talk! I don't know if I'll do this every Monday, or just sporadically on Mondays, but I LOVE TV and movies, so I figured why not add some of that to the blog for fun?? It'll be especially awesome when I can tie things into the YA book world...
Okay, so I don't know where you all live...but I'm in Connecticut and this past weekend we were hit with a super-fun blizzard. It also happened that my brother-in-law was here from Arizona, so on a weekend when I could have been snuggled up and reading, instead I spent a TON of time cooking, cleaning, entertaining, and yup...shoveling. 
 
Anyway, you'd think I might have watched some TV or movies in there, but not really... I did see the newest Ice Age movie finally, but today, I'm actually going to talk about the two movies I watched the week before because I think they go together really well for a post. 
 
So, first, I watched PITCH PERFECT, which I LOVED!!
 
First off, as a Gleek, I had to love that this movie covered the same sort-of random bursting into song moments that Glee does.  This was the slightly raunchier (at times) college version, which I loved, as well.  Even with the naughty bits, this movie still had not only great girl-power type friendships, but also a sweet romance. *sigh*
 
I ended up watching this movie twice before bringing it back to the library, which is something I almost never do...and a great indicator that I eventually need to own this one. :)
 
Then, I watched the newest dance movie in the Step Up series, STEP UP REVOLUTION.

Man, do these movies make me want to take dance classes!  This one was set in Miami, which I desperately want to visit, and actually featured a pretty cool (though mostly unrealistic) plotline.  Boy heads up flash mob dance group...meets hot dancer girl...discovers her father is head of the hotel chain that wants to destroy his neighborhood...they band together to set up "protest" dance mobs to get hotel plan nixed.  As I said, not really realistic, but super fun to watch and root for!!
 
I loved the flash mob aspect of this movie and thought they got to exhibit a lot of really cool types of dances based on the locations where they appeared.  I liked the sense of neighborhood loyalty and being true to yourself that were big themes in this movie. 
 
I also LOVED that this DVD version let you just watch the dance sequences again in the special features, too!!
 
All in all, it was a musical, upbeat sort of week.  The kind that leaves me smiling and dancing my way through doing the dishes or folding laundry...
 
Any thoughts on either movie?

Saturday, February 9, 2013

The Immortal Circus

The Immortal Circus
by A.R. Kahler
 
Murdered contortionists aren’t exactly what Vivienne signed up for when she ran away to join the circus. But like most things under the big top, nothing is what it seems. With a past she can't quite remember, Vivienne finds that running away forever might not be as appealing as it once sounded—because forever means something quite different at the Cirque des Immortels.

Aided by her friends Kingston—a feisty stage magician whose magic is quickly stealing her heart—and his sarcastic assistant Melody, Vivienne finds herself racing against the clock to discover the culprit behind a series of deaths that should be impossible. However, the answer she seeks might reveal more about her own bloody past—and future—than she bargains for.


The show's just beginning.


Step right up... (description from Amazon.com)

Wow. This was my first experience getting a Kindle "serial," and it was actually pretty cool. I paid a one-time purchase price for this ebook and then had five segments delivered to my Kindle App automatically as they were released.  They were two weeks apart and it was sort of like waiting to see the next episode in your favorite TV show... the sense of anticipation definitely kept me hanging, ready to devour the next part of Viv's story.

Fans of Laurell K. Hamilton will devour this book.  It is the same dark, decadent, and dangerous type of world.  Secrets and dark twists lingered around every corner.  Though I'm not always a fan of amnesia stories, here it really worked because it was tied into Vivienne's contract with the circus and as the story unfolded more and more was revealed until we realize we don't really know Vivienne at all. 

If you like dark, twisted stories, check out this title.  I'm really hoping that a sequel is in the works!

Full disclosure: Serial ebook purchased for my Kindle App

Friday, February 8, 2013

Mini Reviews: The Second Novella Edition

Bad Yeti
by Carrie Harris
Kate Grable series
 
Jonah Grable hasn’t minded living in the shadow of his older, zombie fighting sister Kate, but this weekend he’s definitely raising his profile. A weekend of epic epicness—waving swords and flirting with girls in elf ears at his LARP club event—is totally up Jonah’s alley. But when his alter ego, Sir Talatien Maguirier, Nightdark Clanlord, comes face to face with a real, live Yeti, Jonah—or, rather, Tal—has to take matters into his own hands. So he sets off with gamer goddess Lady Amethyst, brown-eyed Europa, and Calamity, a braid-wearing barbarian in fur into the great unknown on a search for yeti-related awesomeness. . . . (description from Amazon.com)
 
SUPER FUN. I love this series hardcore and to have this little glimpse into that world from Jonah's perspective? So much awesomesauce.  I love the geekiness and the bravery and the general paranormalness of this series.
 
 
The Grimm Diaries Prequels Volumes 1 - 6
by Cameron Jace
 
The Grimm Diaries are pages written in a Book of Sand, where each fairy tale character confessed the true stories once altered by the Brothers Grimm two centuries ago. To keep the truth about fairy tales hidden, the Brothers Grimm buried the characters in their dreams to never wake up again. But the curse is broken now, and the characters are allowed to wake up every one hundred years. They intend to tell the truth about really happened, and about an untold cosmic conflict between fairy tale characters. (description from Amazon.com)
 
While the premise for this series is very intriguing and each short story had a compelling set of characters and circumstnaces, I was SO distracted by the poor writing technique in these stories that it was all I could do to finish them.
 
Tortured
by Caragh O'Brien
Birthmarked series
 
"But what about Leon?" Now, in this new story that bridges the gap between Birthmarked and Prized, Caragh M. O'Brien answers her readers' most common question with a tale of suffering and determination from Leon's perspective. (description from Amazon.com)
 
I really wish I had read this one before I read Prized, but you don't have to... it was so good to delve back into Gaia's world.  It was very interesting to see things from Leon's more privledged perspective, too. I can't wait to read Promised and find out how their story finally ends.
 
The Witch of Duva
by Leigh Bardugo
The Grisha Trilogy
 
There was a time when the woods near Duva ate girls…or so the story goes. But it’s just possible that the danger may be a little bit closer to home. This story is a companion folk tale to Leigh Bardugo’s debut novel, Shadow and Bone. (description from Amazon.com)
 
I loved this the same way I loved Sarah Maas' novellas. While they do not actually progress the story already written in the first book in each series, they are wonderful for fleshing out the fantasy world that each is set in.  Here, this is a folk tale, similar to Hansel and Gretel, that exists within Alina's world.  It really helped to flesh out the darkly Eastern European feel of the world she lives in. 


 
Full disclosure: All enovellas purchased for either my Nook or my Kindle App

Thursday, February 7, 2013

What's On My Hold List?

 
Welcome to the February 2013 edition
 
of
 
"What's on My Hold List?"
 
One of the most beautiful things about working in a Library is that I have the ability to put lots of things on hold and read them *before* I buy!! These are some of the books that I'm currently waiting for, though I may buy one or two of them after reading, as well.
 
by Zilpha Keatley Snyder
 
 
by Marissa Meyer
The Lunar Chronicles, book two
 
 
by Veronica Rossi
 
 
You can click on each title to go to their Amazon page for a description...
 
So, these are the books I'm waiting anxiously to get my hands on...what are you waiting for??



Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Author Interview - Jena Leigh

Today I'd like to welcome author, Jena Leigh, to the blog!!

 
Author bio:
Born and raised in Tampa, Florida, Jena Leigh spent ten years in the mountains of North Carolina before returning home to the lightning capital of North America.

A shameless geek, she loves bad sci-fi movies, Skittles, writing cracktastic e-mails to friends and taking shenanigan-filled road trips to faraway concerts. She has a degree in English from Appalachian State University.

Revival is her first novel.
 

Yesterday, I posted my review for Revival, so I'm very excited to welcome the author herself to answer a few quick, fun questions... here goes!

1. How long did it take you, from first spark of idea to final proofs, to write Revival?
From start to finish, the book took a little over two years to complete. Many afternoons in between my graduate school classes and late nights after work were spent writing the first half of Revival. Not long after that, my health took a nosedive and I found myself with plenty of free time to write. I guess it’s true what they say… For me at least, everything really did happen for a reason. Eventually, my health improved and I had a finished novel to show for my unexpected downtime.
 
 
2. How did you originally decide to self-publish? What was the process like for you?
My journey in self-publishing started out like most do—I had a book nobody wanted to publish. After the pile of rejection letters rolled in from the sea of agents politely declining my book, I was pretty heartbroken. Okay, more than that… Devastated might be a better word.
 
So I went back to the manuscript. Put it through yet another round of edits. Polished it to the point that I was certain that—although it still wasn’t perfect—it was as good as I could possibly make it... And during that time, I did my homework. I researched the process. I tried to absorb every pointer and every helpful recommendation that I could. I designed a cover. I planned. I created every social media account I could think of, to help promote the series and myself as an author.
 
And then I published.
 
And then the work began. Honestly, that’s one thing nobody tells you…Self-publishing is more than just a hard road. If you want to succeed, it’s a full-time job! But I’ll tell you a secret… This gig might just be the best job around. I’m living my dreams and loving every minute of it!
 
3. 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’ve always wanted to try my hand at writing something in the humor genre. It would definitely need a fake name attached to it, though. I’m ninety-nine percent certain that I’m not nearly as funny as I think I am…
 

4. If you could cross one thing off your bucket list tomorrow, what would it be?
Go on a cruise! I’ve been lucky enough to fly (and drive) to all sorts of fantastic and interesting places, but I’ve yet to take a cruise. And I’m sure the Bahamas are nice this time of year…
 
5. Quick Picks List:
Favorite vacation destination?
London, England
 
Favorite childhood book?
One of the first books that I read and absolutely fell in love with was And to Think That I Saw It on Mulberry Street by Dr. Seuss. A few years later, it was replaced by Francine Pascal’s young adult novel, Sweet Valley Twins and Friends, Super Chiller: The Ghost in the Bell Tower. Although it’s safe to say I read both of them many times over in my younger years!
 
Favorite writing snack food?
Skittles! Any time I’m stuck on a scene, I break open one of those mini-candy bags and chow down… They help me think! *Oooh! I love skittles, too. They're actually my favorite candy. :)
 
Favorite clothing item?
My black, worn-out Chuck Taylor’s, probably. Do those count as an article of “clothing”? If not, I’d have to say my lucky pair of jeans that are made up more of holes than they are of cloth at this point. I loved them—quite literally—to pieces, and now I just can’t bring myself to toss them.
 
 
Jena, thank you so much for stopping by my blog today! It was great having you and I really can't wait to read the next book in the Variants series...
 
To check out more info on Jena and Revival, you can go to her blog/website HERE!

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Revival

Revival
by Jena Leigh
The Variant series, book one
 

Possessing the uncanny ability to fry a television set from twenty paces can really wreck a girl's social life.

If you're looking for proof, just ask sixteen-year-old Alexandra Parker. After catching her boyfriend in the arms of the prettiest girl in school, she made the journey from social elite to social pariah in a haze of electricity and exploding electronics. But finding herself at the bottom of Bay View High's social hierarchy was nothing compared to the shock of discovering who--and what--she really is.

After being zapped out of a burning bookstore by the mysterious Declan--a hero nearly as handsome as he is infuriating--Alex finds herself under the protection of the powerful Grayson family. It's through them that she learns the truth: that the world she's always known is nothing like it appears to be... and that she has far more in common with them than she might want to believe.

Now, on the run from a fire-wielding hit man and a secretive government organization, Alex must navigate a strange and treacherous new world filled with superhuman mutants known as Variants. As she begins to unravel the many secrets of her family's past, she uncovers the real reason for her parents' death twelve years earlier--and finds out that the threat to her family, and to everyone she cares about, is still dangerously real. (description from Amazon.com)
 
Ever thought that your break-up was electric? Well, Alex's pretty much is! LOL. Alex has developed the uncanny knack of frying any electronics within about 20 feet any time her emotions spike. Fun, huh? Well, after a very hot, and strangely intriguing guy follows Alex around for a day, saves her from being burned alive and TELEPORTS her to a remote cabin in the woods...somewhere...Alex finds out that she's not the only one out there with special abilities. 
 
I loved meeting the members of the adoptive Grayson family.  Kenzie is that girl you'd love to have as a best friend, and Alex does love her, though she still loves her normal best friend, Cassie, too...and can read people's minds.  Nate is a telekenetic and little Brian sees the future. Not your average household...but they are interesting!
 
I really liked the dynamics of their family. It was not only interesting to see how they interacted like siblings in general, but also how they dealt with each others' abilities...and to then see them band together when threatened by outsiders... In fact, I loved seeing all of the "Variants" deal with regular people and the Agency that governs them. 
 
Hmmm...have I accidentally given away too much already? Maybe....oh well. I vow not to tell you the biggest secret, but I WILL tell you that even when Alex thinks she knows who she really is, nothing is ever really certain... I cannot wait to find out what happens in book two...
 
Don't forget to check back here tomorrow. I have an interview with the author, Jena Leigh!!
 
Full disclosure: Ebook sent to me by author to review

Monday, February 4, 2013

Short Film *LOVE* - Paperman

Just had to share this short film that Disney released because I LOVE it!!



What do you think? So cute.

Falling Kingdoms

Falling Kingdoms
by Morgan Rhodes
 
In a land where magic has been forgotten but peace has reigned for centuries, a deadly unrest is simmering. Three kingdoms grapple for power—brutally transforming their subjects' lives in the process. Amidst betrayals, bargains, and battles, four young people find their fates forever intertwined:

Cleo: A princess raised in luxury must embark on a rough and treacherous journey into enemy territory in search of a magic long thought extinct.

Jonas: Enraged at injustice, a rebel lashes out against the forces of oppression that have kept his country impoverished—and finds himself the leader of a people's revolution centuries in the making.

Lucia: A girl adopted at birth into a royal family discovers the truth about her past—and the supernatural legacy she is destined to wield.

Magnus: Bred for aggression and trained to conquer, a firstborn son begins to realize that the heart can be more lethal than the sword. . . .

The only outcome that's certain is that kingdoms will fall. Who will emerge triumphant when all they know has collapsed? (description from Amazon.com)


Intricate storylines weave together into a tale of magic, betrayal, greed, and even murder.  Three kingdoms on the brink of war... four teens struggling to survive and prosper. Each teen has something to fight for, and unfortunately, that brings each of them up against one another as they work for the interests of their own kingdoms. 

Throughout, there is the hunt for magic.  Once acknowledged as existing in all the kingdoms, magic has now seemingly disappeared. Each kingdom believes that if they can harness the magic, they will be triumphant...and the ancient Watchers who keep tabs on all are desperate to retrieve the magic that they've lost. One teen is the key to it all.

Politics, murder, secrets, war, romance...this book has it all.  Rhodes masterfully built an intriguing world and left me breathless at the end. I cannot wait until this story picks up in book two! I NEED to see where everyone goes from the cliffhanger at the end...

Full disclosure: Audio book received to review for AudioFile Magazine

Sunday, February 3, 2013

This Week's Library Loot (7)

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

My Library Loot:
by Dave Freer
 
 
by Stefan Bachmann
 
 
by Jennifer A. Nielsen
 
 
So, that's what I picked up at my Library this week... did you swing by yours? 

Saturday, February 2, 2013

Safekeeping

Safekeeping
by Karen Hesse
 
Radley’s parents had warned her that all hell would break loose if the American People's Party took power. And now, with the president assassinated and the government cracking down on citizens, the news is filled with images of vigilante groups, frenzied looting, and police raids. It seems as if all hell has broken loose.

Coming back from volunteering abroad, Radley just wants to get home to Vermont, and the comfort and safety of her parents. Travel restrictions and delays are worse than ever, and by the time Radley’s plane lands in New Hampshire, she’s been traveling for over twenty-four hours. Exhausted, she heads outside to find her parents—who always come, day or night, no matter when or where she lands—aren’t there.

Her cell phone is dead, her credit cards are worthless, and she doesn’t have the proper travel papers to cross state lines. Out of money and options, Radley starts walking. . . . (description from Amazon.com)
 
This was a super-quick read. Once you get past the first small section, almost every page has a picture on it.  The pictures, taken by Hesse herself, add to the story, propelling the reader more deeply into the wilderness and Radley's desperate situation.
 
This was a book that gave me the shivers.  It was one that was very realistic and had such potential to actually occur that I found myself wondering what I would do if our government suddenly went into a military lockdown! I'm pretty sure that I would just end up hiding and hoping for the best. I don't think I'd be as brave as Radley, walking all the way to Canada!!
 
The only issue I had with this book was that Radley's situation seemed just a hair unrealistic at the end.  Once she gets her life back under control, there is nothing then stopping her from doing what she chooses to do. While the entire book had been about Radley overcoming horrific obstacles to do what she felt was right and to survive, suddenly it seemed just a bit too easy. 
 
Full disclosure: Borrowed from my Library