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Friday, May 31, 2013

Between the Lives

















Between the Lives
by Jessica Shirvington

The perfect life or the perfect love. You choose. For as long as she can remember, Sabine has lived two lives. Every 24 hours she Shifts to her ‘other’ life – a life where she is exactly the same, but absolutely everything else is different. In one life she has a sister, in the other she does not. In one life she’s a straight-A student with the perfect boyfriend, in the other she’s considered a reckless delinquent. Nothing about her situation has ever changed, until the day when she discovers a glitch: the arm she breaks in one life is perfectly fine in the other. With this new knowledge, Sabine begins a series of increasingly risky experiments which bring her dangerously close to the life she’s always wanted. But just what – and who – is she really risking? (Description from Amazon.com

Though this book had moments that felt predictable, the characters and plot drew me in so deeply that I found myself not caring. Sabine's lives are both fascinating in their own ways and the fact that she lives two, well it makes for some deep thinking... at first, I found myself thinking how great it would be, but as Sabine explains to the person she tries to convince, it's actually an awful prospect as you get older.  Is it right to be married to one person, someone that you truly love, in one life and to have someone else in another? Could you spend every day of your life lying to everyone around you?

What seemed a dream opportunity slowly begins to feel like an oppressive nightmare.  

Until the day that Sabine realizes she might have the opportunity to choose just *one* of her lives... And then the day that she meets who might be the true love of her life... after that everything changes.  

This book was emotionally captivating, and even as I found the ending to be just a little too pat logically, my romance-loving, eternally optimistic heart kept telling me to ignore that and when I did, I found myself exceptionally pleased with how things ended... 

Romance lovers, check this one out! Unfortunately, the actual print book is not out here in the US, yet, but if you are an audio book fan, you can check this one out now. (Another note - if you listen to the audio book that's out now, it's an Australian production with an Australian narrator...reading a Bostonian character. That can be a little disconcerting. If you can get past that, though, the story is great!) Otherwise, I'll try to remember to let you all know when the book finally comes out here. 

Full disclosure: Audio book received to review for AudioFile Magazine

Thursday, May 30, 2013

Every Day

















Every Day
by David Levithan

Every day a different body. Every day a different life. Every day in love with the same girl.

There’s never any warning about where it will be or who it will be. A has made peace with that, even established guidelines by which to live: Never get too attached. Avoid being noticed. Do not interfere.

It’s all fine until the morning that A wakes up in the body of Justin and meets Justin’s girlfriend, Rhiannon. From that moment, the rules by which A has been living no longer apply. Because finally A has found someone he wants to be with—day in, day out, day after day. (Description from Amazon.com

This was a real page-turner for me! I opened this book and three hours later flipped the final page. I was captivated from start to finish.

Levithan creates a fantastic character in A. You have no idea (as s/he doesn't) whether A is a boy or a girl, what s/he looks like, you only have a sense of his/her personality. What an intriguing concept! What a great way to get down to the real root of a character.

I loved, too, that Levithan did not let A take the easy route in any of his/her choices. The book ends perfectly in a very realistic and believable way. Though we may want true love to triumph at all time, logistics become a huge factor in real life. I was rooting for Rhiannon and A all along, but I really loved how Levithan wrapped things up...

Definitely worth picking up if you haven't already.


Full disclosure: Borrowed from my Library

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Gold Star Review: For Darkness Shows the Stars

















For Darkness Shows the Stars
by Diana Peterfreund

It's been several generations since a genetic experiment gone wrong caused the Reduction, decimating humanity and giving rise to a Luddite nobility who outlawed most technology.

Elliot North has always known her place in this world. Four years ago Elliot refused to run away with her childhood sweetheart, the servant Kai, choosing duty to her family's estate over love. Since then the world has changed: a new class of Post-Reductionists is jumpstarting the wheel of progress, and Elliot's estate is foundering, forcing her to rent land to the mysterious Cloud Fleet, a group of shipbuilders that includes renowned explorer Captain Malakai Wentforth—an almost unrecognizable Kai. And while Elliot wonders if this could be their second chance, Kai seems determined to show Elliot exactly what she gave up when she let him go.

But Elliot soon discovers her old friend carries a secret—one that could change their society . . . or bring it to its knees. And again, she's faced with a choice: cling to what she's been raised to believe, or cast her lot with the only boy she's ever loved, even if she's lost him forever.

Inspired by Jane Austen's Persuasion, For Darkness Shows the Stars is a breathtaking romance about opening your mind to the future and your heart to the one person you know can break it. (Description from Amazon.com)

Wow. I loved this book. It had all the romantic and sweeping, yet understated elements that you find in classic Austen, but they were wrapped in the most intriguingly imagined post-apocalyptic world. Persuasion is one of Austen's books that I really love (my favorite is Emma, in case you were interested) and I was a little afraid that Peterfreund might have taken on a little too big a task in modernizing it.... I should have had faith! She's one of my favorite authors for a reason.  Peterfreund nailed it!! 

I found myself wrapped in a world where I could see the connections to Austen's original work, but had no trouble at all losing myself in the new story, forgetting that it was anything but what it was. This world is similar to our own, but Elliot's family and friends are so far removed from our society that it feels very foreign. I liked the religious aspect that helped develop their philosophies and how it felt organic without becoming an overwhelming aspect of the book.  

The romance. Ah, the romance. I loved it.  It felt very real. Both characters had reasons to feel hurt and both had reasons they were unable to let go.  Elliot and Kai were two very strong personalities that were stuck in a tough situation that could easily have torn them apart forever. I loved that Peterfreund made Elliot strong enough to not only be herself, and only herself, to succeed in the things she tried to do, but also strong enough to fight for the man that she loved with all her heart. 

*(This following paragraph is quoted from the comparison I did between For Darkness Shows the Stars and Persuasion on Yalsa's The Hub) Thankfully, Diana Peterfreund’s Elliot North stays true to the spirit of Anne Elliot. Though Elliot may be younger, in the post-apocalyptic world that Peterfreund created, her emotions and convictions ring true in the same way, regardless of time and place. Peterfreund’s retelling effortlessly blends a new world and a new, struggling society with the heart and soul of Austen’s tale. The science fiction themes are easy to understand and seem to integrate themselves seamlessly into the story so that even readers shy about delving into the genre will have no trouble navigating this foreign world. Peterfreund’s readers will find themselves considering the same important themes from Persuasion, and hearts will beat faster because of the same romantic gestures. Some may even be inspired, as I was, to delve back into Jane Austen’s classic with freshly plucked heartstrings.

I recommend this book to all readers, regardless of whether or not you've read the original Austen tale that inspired it.  I give this book a GOLD STAR and can't wait to see what Peterfreund does with The Scarlet Pimpernel in the upcoming Across a Star-Swept Sea.












Full disclosure: Received signed book at BEA 2012

Friday, May 24, 2013

Counting down to BEA 2013!!!











I'm sure most of you already know, but Book Expo America is in New York City next week (Thurs. May 30 - Sat. June 1)!! I will be attending on Fri. (the only day I could go this year), so right now I'm contemplating what authors to try and meet, what galleys to try and pick up, what shoes to wear... LOL, all very important decisions.

It's so much fun to go to, I can't even stand it! This year, I'm attending and then hopefully blogging (over on YALSA's the HUB) about the Children's Author Breakfast...with Octavia Spencer, Mary Pope Osborne, Rick Riordan (*squee!) and VERONICA ROTH *jumps up and down flailing* I am beyond excited to see two of my favorite authors speak.  There are a bunch of other authors doing great signings when I'll be there and I love to just stop by the different booths to check out what's what. 

This past year or so I've been totally wrapped up in a lot of professional reading and unfortunately, that's left me a little burnt out. So, my goal this year at BEA is just to get happily wrapped up in the swell of reading joy.  To rediscover my love of all things bookish... and to let the stress fade away.  I want to pick up books based solely on my gut reaction, not "needing" to read it because it's the next up and coming thing. I want to be swayed by a cover, an author's enthusiasm, my friends' gushing...everything.

I want to remember my annual "Book Christmas" love. 

I hope to see as many of my blogger, librarian, and author friends as possible.  It's one day to cram in a ton of chatting, gushing, and book swapping, but I can't wait to do it all! In case we haven't met in real life yet, here's a small pic of me.  

Hopefully we can bump into each other and say "hi!" See you next week! 

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Please Ignore Vera Dietz

















Please Ignore Vera Dietz
by A. S. King

Vera’s spent her whole life secretly in love with her best friend, Charlie Kahn. And over the years she’s kept a lot of his secrets. Even after he betrayed her. Even after he ruined everything.

So when Charlie dies in dark circumstances, Vera knows a lot more than anyone—the kids at school, his family, even the police. But will she emerge to clear his name? Does she even want to? (Description from Amazon.com

Okay, I give you this review full of trepidation.  Why, you ask? Well, not only have I been recommended A.S. King's books by, well, just about every librarian I know, but this book in particular has been lauded over and over.  It won a Printz Honor and has made COUNTLESS award nomination lists.  One of my librarian friends (Heather, you know who you are!) actually grew up with A.S. King and has been hounding me because I'd never read any of her books.  

So, what's the problem? ...the book didn't really do it for me. *braces for shouting and slapping* 

I liked it...mostly, but I in no way experienced the deep love that I had been anticipating.  I have no idea of that's in part due to the high bar I set for the book or because I listened to it on audio, so couldn't completely immerse myself in Vera in the fifteen minutes here and there that I was listening... I just didn't get it.  

I found Vera to be a very real and fully formed character. I liked the storyline and thought that it was very thoughtful...but I was never "wowed." 

I am hoping to pick up ASK THE PASSENGERS soon. I've heard again that this is a stellar book, so hopefully that one will hit me the right way. If not, I guess it may be that A.S. King's books aren't for me. We'll have to see... 

Full disclosure: Audio book borrowed from my Library

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Midwinterblood

















Midwinterblood 
by Marcus Sedgwick

Seven stories of passion and love separated by centuries but mysteriously intertwined—this is a tale of horror and beauty, tenderness and sacrifice.

An archaeologist who unearths a mysterious artifact, an airman who finds himself far from home, a painter, a ghost, a vampire, and a Viking: the seven stories in this compelling novel all take place on the remote Scandinavian island of Blessed where a curiously powerful plant that resembles a dragon grows. What binds these stories together? What secrets lurk beneath the surface of this idyllic countryside? And what might be powerful enough to break the cycle of midwinterblood? (Description from Amazon.com

I've never read anything of Sedgwick's before, but I'd heard nothing but good things, and now, I'm not surprised.  His writing is...sophisticated? I'm not sure if that's exactly what I mean, but this book was definitely intricate and beautifully dark.  In fact, while I was reading, I kept thinking that this book is what I usually define as a "YA/A crossover" book...one that is meant for the oldest, most sophisticated teen readers and for adult readers. 

I really enjoyed this book, but it read "adult" to me themewise.  I loved the intertwining stories of the reincarnated characters.  I thought that the theme of sacrifice was really well done and things were revealed at just the right points in the stories.  I would definitely recommend this book, though, not to the audience I had originally expected. 

Full disclosure: Borrowed through interlibrary loan 

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Because It Is My Blood

















Because It Is My Blood
by Gabrielle Zevin
Birthright series, book two

Since her release from Liberty Children's Facility, Anya Balanchine is determined to follow the straight and narrow. Unfortunately, her criminal record is making it hard for her to do that. No high school wants her with a gun possession charge on her rap sheet. Plus, all the people in her life have moved on: Natty has skipped two grades at Holy Trinity, Scarlet and Gable seem closer than ever, and even Win is in a new relationship.But when old friends return demanding that certain debts be paid, Anya is thrown right back into the criminal world that she had been determined to escape. It’s a journey that will take her across the ocean and straight into the heart of the birthplace of chocolate where her resolve--and her heart--will be tested as never before. (Description from Amazon.com

Another fabulously enjoyable vacation read.  I loved diving back into Anya's version of our future.  (I still can't quite wrap my head around chocolate and COFFEE being illegal, LOL!) 

Since this is the second book in the series, I don't want to give too much away... but I will say that what I really enjoyed the most about this book was seeing Anya really define herself and the place she wanted to be in her world.  She goes on a sort of emotional journey along with her physical one and I definitely found myself cheering her on as she made some BIG decisions about how she wanted to present herself and what role she wanted to play in chocolate's future.  

The book took some surprising turns, and I loved it.  I cannot wait to see how things go In the Age of Love and Chocolate, which comes out this October... 

Full disclosure: Book purchased on my Nook 

Monday, May 20, 2013

May Bookworms Meeting - Prairie Evers by Ellen Airgood

This past Thursday we had our fifth and final meeting of the 4th & 5th grade book club - The BOOKWORMS - for this school year at our library. For the May meeting, the kids chose to read PRAIRIE EVERS by Ellen Airgood.

Book Description
Prairie Evers is finding that socialization isn't all it's cracked up to be. She's been homeschooled by her granny and has learned the most from traipsing through nature. But now she has to attend public school, and feels just like her chickens--cooped up and subject to the pecking order. School is a jolt for Prairie until she meets Ivy, her first true friend. But while raising chickens and the great outdoors have given Prairie wisdom and perspective, nothing has prepared her for the give and take of friendship. When Prairie finds out that Ivy's home may not be the best place for Ivy, Prairie must corral all her optimism and determination to hatch a plan to help.

This book really was a sweet, but thoughtful foray into a young girl's life. Prairie was homeschooled until she moves and begins to attend fifth grade in public school. Her story is such a mix of family-handed down wisdom, country life, and her new life in upstate New York. All three girls really enjoyed the story, and we got into some great discussions about school, family relationships, and raising animals for pets and food.

To start the meeting, we again did our trivia contest, with a candy to both the winner and our very close runners up. Then I had a list of discussion questions that we talked about. Here are a couple quick examples:

*What do you think are the benefits to homeschooling? What are benefits to being in "regular" school?

*What is the best show and tell item (or visual aid for a presentation) that you have ever brought to school?

*How would you feel about eating chicken if you raised your own?

I'm always amazed at how intuitive these kids can be about certain topics. They talked about social interactions in school, being held back by slower learners, or learning in different ways from a classmate if their teacher's style didn't work for them. They discussed the ethics of eating meat if you owned chickens, pigs, or cows as pets... I really do love hearing their ideas and perspectives and seeing how they end up influencing my own!

We finished out our meeting by designing our own quilt squares. Prairie's mom makes her money by creating quilts and teaching a quilting class in the book. I'd loved to have taught them how to actually make a real quilt square, but time, skill levels and money were all a factor here, so... we colored our quilt designs instead.

(This is mine.) It's amazing to see how very creative the kids can be. One girl did all of her squares in orange, but with different patterns drawn on each square. Another created a larger picture over all nine of her squares. Honestly, I would have loved to see these quilts in real life.
 
I'm sad to say that we're done for this school year. I'm hoping each of these attendees will return in the fall. But for now, on to planning the summer reading programs!!

Sunday, May 19, 2013

This Week's Library Loot (13)


















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

My Library Loot:











by Kiera Cass
The Selection, book two 













by Rachel Hawkins 
Hex Hall series, book four 













by Martin Leicht and Isla Neal 

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

Friday, May 17, 2013

Gold Star Review: Fox Forever

















Fox Forever
by Mary E. Pearson
The Jenna Fox Chronicles, book three

Locke Jenkins has some catching up to do. After spending 260 years as a disembodied mind in a little black box, he has a perfect new body. But before he can move on with his unexpected new life, he’ll have to return the Favor he accepted from the shadowy resistance group known as the Network.

Locke must infiltrate the home of a government official by gaining the trust of his daughter, seventeen-year-old Raine, and he soon finds himself pulled deep into the world of the resistance—and into Raine’s life. (description from Amazon.com)

What an amazing end to the trilogy.  I've loved Jenna Fox's story from the start...(check out my review for book two, The Fox Inheritance, here) and Pearson ended Jenna and Locke's story masterfully.  The entire series has been thought-provoking, emotionally intense, and impossible to put down.  The final book lived up to its predecessors without fail.  Locke's journey was both exciting and introspective.  It's sort of impossible to thoroughly review this book without giving spoilers for books one and two, but I do need to say that the bad guys get their due, Locke finds the love he truly needed, and Jenna finally finds the closure that her life had been lacking.  All around an amazing story and Pearson deserves a GOLD STAR not only for this book, but for the entire trilogy.  












The only other trilogy that I've read that I feel is as strong as this one is Neal Shusterman's Skinwalker Trilogy. If you haven't read those, go pick up Everlost right now! 

Full disclosure: Audio book received from SLJ for review

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

My 2013 TBR Pile Resolution Update

Back on January 2nd, I threw out some fairly manageable resolutions for this year...To try to keep myself both honest and on track, I wanted to give you all an update on the most easily trackable resolution (at least to this point in the year)...

1. Read at least 15 books that have been sitting on my bookcase at home unread for the last *cringes* two years.

So... let's see how I've done so far!

TBR Books FINALLY Read
1. Iron Queen by Julie Kagawa
2. Shadow and Bone by Leigh Bardugo*
3. Beautiful Creatures by Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl 
4. God Save the Queen by Kate Locke
5. Under the Never Sky by Veronica Rossi 
6. Eve by Anna Carey 
7. Crown of Embers by Rae Carson* 
8. Because It Is My Blood by Gabrielle Zevin*

*These three books are from 2012, but later in the year, so I'm counting them, but I may try to read at least one extra OLDER title to compensate for each...yes, I have THAT many books laying around STILL waiting to be read... 

All in all, not too bad so far!! Gotta keep it up for the rest of the year, though... 


Dark Star

















Dark Star 
by Bethany Frenette

Audrey Whitticomb has nothing to fear. Her mother is the superhero Morning Star, the most deadly crime-fighter in the Twin Cities, so it’s hard for Audrey notto feel safe. That is, until she’s lured into the sweet night air by something human and not human—something with talons and teeth, and a wide, scarlet smile.

Now Audrey knows the truth: her mom doesn’t fight crime at night. She fights Harrowers—livid, merciless beings who were trapped Beneath eons ago. Yet some have managed to escape. And they want Audrey dead, just because of who she is: one of the Kin.

To survive, Audrey will need to sharpen the powers she has always had. When she gets close to someone, dark corners of the person’s memories become her own, and she sometimes even glimpses the future. If Audrey could only get close to Patrick Tigue, a powerful Harrower masquerading as human, she could use her Knowing to discover the Harrowers’ next move. But Leon, her mother’s bossy, infuriatingly attractive sidekick, has other ideas. Lately, he won’t let Audrey out of his sight.

When an unthinkable betrayal puts Minneapolis in terrible danger, Audrey discovers a wild, untamed power within herself. It may be the key to saving her herself, her family, and her city. Or it may be the force that destroys everything—and everyone—she loves. (description from Amazon.com

I liked this book. It had an interesting premise, a good main character, and a well built world...but it just didn't grip me the way I'd hoped it would.  While I wanted to know what happened, this was a book that when I put it down I did not have that intense, immediate desire to pick it back up. I'm not quite sure why.  

Things I liked
*Audrey knew her own limitations, yet felt compelled to do the right thing and to help people even against great odds. 
*Audrey and her mom's relationship.  It just read really "real" to me.  
*The romance. 
*The demon mythology and the idea of the Beneath, the Guardians, the Kin, etc. 
*The surprise of discovering what really made Audrey so special. 

So, why wasn't this book amazing? I have no idea.  I think maybe I wasn't in the right mood...or it just too a little too long for the suspense to really build? I'm really not sure.  I would recommend it to other readers, but perhaps not a reluctant reader as my feelings are so mixed...

Full disclosure: eARC received from Netgalley, phsyical book borrowed from my library

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Hallowed

















Hallowed 
by Cynthia Hand
Unearthly, book two

For months part-angel Clara Gardner trained to face the fire from her visions, but she wasn't prepared for the choice she had to make that day. Now, torn between her love for Tucker and her complicated feelings about the roles she and Christian seem destined to play in a world that is both dangerous and beautiful, Clara struggles with a shocking revelation: Someone she loves will die in a matter of months. With her future uncertain, the only thing Clara knows for sure is that the fire was just the beginning. (Description from Amazon.com

Oh, Cynthia Hand.  I love and hate you.  Truly.  When you had Clara and Tucker have that little, "I just had to tell you I love you, but you don't have to say anything back until you're ready" moment in the first book and I got all swoony, my heart sang... And now, now... my heart is breaking epically. (*See! No official spoilers, but you KNOW that something devestating is happening!! LOL*) 

I know, realistically, that in real life there are no truly happy endings.  There are always shades of gray and that we have to know that you embrace the joy to balance out our saddest moments, but man, I felt like Clara just could not catch a break in this book! Her love life, her home life, and her destined life all took a big hit.  It was one whammy after another!! 

While not everything came as a surprise (Hand does a great job at hinting towards two big revelations without actually giving anything away), it was brilliant to see new facets of Clara's world come to light.  New aspects of the life she must lead.  AND it was great to see that Clara would actually be able to make her own choices.  That, I think, was my favorite bit... I LOVE when a character breaks out of the "I can only do what I'm destined to do..." mold.  

Let me tell you, though this book hit me in the gut emotionally, I immediately put a hold on book three. I MUST know how it all ends.  Clara's story has me well and truly hooked. 

Full disclosure: Book purchased for my Nook

Monday, May 13, 2013

Gold Star Review: The Essence

















The Essence 
by Kimberly Derting
Pledge, book two

*Description contains spoilers for book one, The Pledge
At the luminous conclusion of The Pledge, Charlaina defeated the tyrant Sabara and took her place as Queen of Ludania. But Charlie knows that Sabara has not disappeared: The evil queen’s Essence is fused to Charlie’s psyche, ready to arise at the first sign of weakness.

Charlie is not weak, but she’s being pushed to the brink. In addition to suppressing the ever-present influence of Sabara, she’s busy being queen—and battling a growing resistance determined to return Ludania to its discriminatory caste system. Charlie wants to be the same girl Max loves, who Brook trusts, but she’s Your Majesty now, and she feels torn in two.

As Charlie journeys to an annual summit to meet with leaders of nearby Queendoms—an event where her ability to understand all languages will be the utmost asset—she is faced with the ultimate betrayal. And the only person she can turn to for help is the evil soul residing within. (description from Amazon.com

This is another sequel that I read while I was on vacation.  Book one of the series, The Pledge, was the first book that I gave a GOLD STAR review to in 2012. Now since it had been almost a year and a half since I'd read the first, I was a little worried that I would not remember exactly what happened, and while to an extent that was true... (I'd forgotten the names of a lot of the characters, but Derting managed to reintroduce everyone extremely well) there were events and pieces of the world that were still etched so deeply into my brain that I sort of fell right back into Charlie's story without a hitch.  

I was immediately creeped out again by the idea of Queen Sabara being in Charlie's head.  I was fascinated by the language barriers amongst the social classes, and how some reveled in their new equality while others passionately rebelled.  I was immediately drawn back into Charlie's love for Max, her best friend Brooklyn, and her baby sister.  

Then Derting took it another step further and I just loved the world even more.  To find someone else who has an ability that is going to throw Charlie's world into complete chaos.  To have her begin to be emotionally torn as she begins to feel for Sabara.  To have rival Queens...both as allies, and as women who might want to see Charlie dead... 

Everything was ramped up one more notch.  The readings went from 10 to an off the charts 11... I WANT MORE!! When, oh when is book three due??? Why, 2014, of course... AHHHHHHH....so long to wait. 

For making me itch to be back there IMMEDIATELY.  For making me hate Derting *just a little bit* for not being able to pump out three books a year (LOL)... I give this book a GOLD STAR. 

   










*Sigh* And now, I have to sit back and wait for book three... *taps foot impatiently...* 

Full disclosure: Book purchased for my Nook

Sunday, May 12, 2013

This Week's Library Loot (12)


















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

My Library Loot:











Boundless
by Cynthia Hand
Unearthly, book three












Don't Panic: The Official Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy Companion 
by Neil Gaiman












I Represent Sean Rosen 
by Jeff Baron












Poison Most Vial 
by Benedict Carey

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

Saturday, May 11, 2013

Crown of Embers

First, I have to apologize for my "radio silence," so to speak! Unfortunately, my husband succumbed to the plague this week and of course, if he gets sick, I automatically end up being sick, too (funny how that's not always reciprocal...). So... I spent almost three days laying in bed, unmotivated to do anything but watch about 10 episodes of Warehouse 13 and several Law and Order: SVU reruns... On the plus side, I did catch back up on my Game of Thrones episodes finally, but I did NOT feel up to blogging and I have so many good books that I read on vacation that I can't wait to share with you!!! 

So... vacation read #1:


















The Crown of Embers
by Rae Carson
Girl of Fire and Thorns trilogy, book two

She does not know what awaits her at the enemy's gate.

Elisa is a hero. She led her people to victory over a terrifying, sorcerous army. Her place as the country's ruler should be secure. But it isn't.

Her enemies come at her like ghosts in a dream, from both foreign realms and within her own court. And her destiny as the chosen one has not yet been fulfilled.

To conquer the power she bears once and for all, Elisa must follow the trail of long-forgotten--and forbidden--clues from the deep, undiscovered catacombs of her own city to the treacherous seas. With her goes a one-eyed spy, a traitor, and the man who--despite everything--she is falling in love with.

If she's lucky, she will return from this journey. But there will be a cost. (description from Amazon.com)

FINALLY. I finally got the chance to read this one! I pre-ordered it on my Nook because I loved the first book, The Girl of Fire and Thorns, so much (see my GOLD STAR review here) that I just knew I *HAD* to read the rest of the trilogy...as soon as they came out , oh, I mean whenever I could finally take a vacation and sneak the second one in... I'm just proud the third book hadn't quite come out yet, LOL. 

Anyway, I thoroughly enjoyed the second book as much as the first. *Some mild spoilers ahead* 
Elisa is no longer just a second born princess, but has been named ruler of her own kingdom.  While her loyal followers embrace and celebrate her, her own council conspire to either replace her...or if that proves impossible, to at least be able to manipulate her.  Still the epically smart heroine, Elisa realizes this and works to twist their own manipulations around to suit her, as well.  Sassy! I love it.  

One of my all-time favorite themes, and one not used often enough IMHO, comes to the forefront in this book.  The best friend love!!! My heart sang.  Even as Elisa is being forced to consider suitors for a marriage for which she is not emotionally ready, she comes to realize that she already has grown into strong feelings for someone very close... Watching their relationship play out was mesmerizing, and the way that the book leaves things for the trilogy's end... I need book three ASAP!!! 

A great second chapter in Elisa's story. 

Full disclosure: Book purchased for my Nook

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Going Vintage

















Going Vintage
by Lindsey Leavitt

When Mallory discovers that her boyfriend, Jeremy, is cheating on her with an online girlfriend, she swears off boys. She also swears off modern technology. Inspired by a list of goals her grandmother made in 1962, Mallory decides to "go vintage" and return to a simpler time (when boyfriends couldn't cheat on you online). She sets out to complete grandma's list: run for pep club secretary, host a dinner party, sew a homecoming dress, find a steady, do something dangerous. But the list is trickier than it looks. And obviously finding a steady is out . . . no matter how good Oliver (Jeremy's cousin) smells. But with the help of her sister, she'll get it done. Somehow. (description from Amazon.com

I LOVED this book. It was a breeze to read, sweet, funny, and just... just wonderful. It managed to convey both a vintage feel and a very contemporary atmosphere...kind of like the perfect old tattered reading chair in a cozy new apartment. 

It had a fantastic romantic element, but what I truly loved the most was that Leavitt decides to have Mallory concentrate on really centering herself rather than just jumping into a new relationship.  Girl power. :)  There were great family relationship issues here and even as people dealt with problems you could obviously feel the love and respect between them. 

A definite winner. 

Full disclosure: eARC received from Netgalley

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Movie Trailer - Ender's Game

Oh.My.God.  It's here, it's finally here! It's the full length movie trailer for ENDER'S GAME and it looks EPIC!!! I cannot, cannot, cannot wait to see this movie.


Anyone else as stoked as I am??

What's On My Hold List?



Welcome to the May 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.



Boundless
by Cynthia Hand
Unearthly, book three



Charmed Vengeance
by Suzanne Lazear
The Aether Chronicles, book two



The Nightmare Affair
by Mindee Arnett



The Elite
by Kiera Cass
The Selection, book two


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??

Monday, May 6, 2013

ABNA Author Interview - Regina Sirois

Today, I am super excited to welcome the 2012 ABNA award-winning author, Regina Sirois, to the blog! 

Author photo taken from http://reginasirois.com/












Author Bio:
Regina Sirois believes in a lot of things: running outside when it's raining, walking to the mailbox barefoot, banana popsicles on hot days, crisp, white sheets, and especially the power of words.

She identifies herself as a reader first and a writer second, and as such her loyalty lies with readers. She believes that a book should not just mildly entertain- it should change us.

She graduated summa cum laude from Missouri State's Departments of History and English and settled in the golden wheat fields of Kansas with her High School love. She is currently doing laundry (probably) and raising her two daughters. She fell in love the day she learned to read and cried the first time she did a word problem in math ("But it's not a problem..." sob, sob. "It's a story!").

In her debut novel, Sirois explores the many ways we get love wrong, and why, despite every disappointment, we keep fighting to get it right.

Some of you may remember me mentioning that one of the books I read for the ABNA contest last year was  Regina's On Little Wings. Well, Regina very graciously agreed to answer a few questions for me on the blog today and I couldn't be more excited to get to share more about her and her work here with you! 



1. How long did it take you, from first spark of idea to entering ABNA to write "On Little Wings?" How long has the process been to officially publish the book since you won the ABNA contest's YA section?

I started this book four years ago, when my daughter was in first grade. She will be finished with fourth grade before the first copies hit bookstore shelves.
I spent one year writing.
One year editing and trying to get it published.
One year giving up and not writing anything.
And one year winning ABNA and getting it ready for publication.

2. Since all of this happened, how has your writing/life routine changed?

Since writing On Little Wings I have finished two more manuscripts and am working on a fourth. It changed my life because it got me in the habit of writing. When people were interested in what I had to say I felt so much more excited to sit down every day and try to make something special. Now I devote about an hour or two a day to writing or research. Sometimes research for a book takes far more time than writing the book. Also, I now give presentations to schools, libraries and community organizations so some of my writing time is swallowed up in preparing for public appearances. Now that more people know I write, it is harder to find time to write!

3. Any advice for aspiring authors out there?

Yes! My advice to have a person you trust to read your work. And make sure you respect them by being objective and trying their suggestions. If you try it and hate it, then brainstorm other possible solutions with them. Knowing someone is waiting for my chapter every week, and knowing it is a writer that I respect immensely, keeps my derriere in the chair and makes me stretch myself. Writers need frequent feedback. It won't always be good, but I save my harshest criticism for the books and writers I love the most. It is only when I see amazing potential that I take the time to get very particular and nit-picky. Don't be afraid if they criticize. That probably means they think your writing is special.

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

I wouldn't have to have a pseudonym because I write for the genre I love the most. Literary YA is my first and biggest passion. If someone said I could never write YA again I might try a historical novel because I majored in history in College and am passionate about it.

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

I would be throwing things in my suitcase right now because tomorrow I would be standing on a British moor with my family, a castle in the background, a village in the valley below me, reciting Bronte, Shakespeare, Dickinson, Doyle and every other pioneer of the English language that changed my life with his/her words.

6. Quick Picks List: 
Favorite vacation destination? Sanibel Island, Florida

Favorite childhood book? You have no idea how cruel you are being right now. It would cause me physical pain to narrow it down to one. Oh, What a Busy Day by Gyo Fujikawa, Quick as a Cricket by Audrey Wood, Millions of Cats by Wanda Gag, Cat Stories by James Herriot and any poems that anyone would read me. 

Favorite writing snack food/drink? Chocolate covered berries, chocolate covered almonds, italian cream soda

Favorite item of clothing? As much as I love to dress up and look pretty, nothing compares to an old pair of jeans.

Regina, thank you so much for stopping by my blog and taking the time to answer my questions. I love to hear about the writing process and get that little peek deeper into authors' lives. 

For more information on Regina Sirois and On Little Wings, you can check out her website here. For more info about Regina's winning the ABNA contest last year, you can go here, or check out the book's official listing on Amazon. I can't wait to order my own finalized copy at the end of this month! 

Friday, May 3, 2013

The Peculiar

















The Peculiar 
by Stefan Bachmann

Don't get yourself noticed and you won't get yourself hanged.

In the faery slums of Bath, Bartholomew Kettle and his sister Hettie live by these words. Bartholomew and Hettie are changelings—Peculiars—and neither faeries nor humans want anything to do with them.

One day a mysterious lady in a plum-colored dress comes gliding down Old Crow Alley. Bartholomew watches her through his window. Who is she? What does she want? And when Bartholomew witnesses the lady whisking away, in a whirling ring of feathers, the boy who lives across the alley—Bartholomew forgets the rules and gets himself noticed.

First he's noticed by the lady in plum herself, then by something darkly magical and mysterious, by Jack Box and the Raggedy Man, by the powerful Mr. Lickerish . . . and by Arthur Jelliby, a young man trying to slip through the world unnoticed, too, and who, against all odds, offers Bartholomew friendship and a way to belong. (description from Amazon.com

The world that Bachmann built here was very intriguing.  I was impressed that the author is only a *teenager!*  He managed to drop me into a world that felt very real, and very alien from our own.  As a lover of all things fairy, a fan of the steampunk sub-genre and a murder mystery fan, this book hit just about every right note for me.  Bachmann did an admirable job mashing several genres together while not overwhelming the reader.  

I distinctly enjoyed both the new world and the concept for this book.  At times, though, I felt slightly disconnected to the main characters.  While I found Bartholomew to be a character I felt great sympathy for, at times he was hard to connect to, and when the perspective would jump to Arthur, I found that to be even more true.  I was very interested in seeing how things unfolded. I wanted Bartholomew to save his sister.  I wanted Arthur to uncover his government's corruption... 

Essentially, I enjoyed this book a lot and I hope there might be another in the works... I hope in the second that I have an easier time connecting to the characters, though, too. 

Full disclosure: Purchased for my Nook 

Thursday, May 2, 2013

Eve

















Eve
by Anna Carey

Where do you go when nowhere is safe?

Sixteen years after a deadly virus wiped out most of Earth’s population, the world is a perilous place. Eighteen-year-old Eve has never been beyond the heavily guarded perimeter of her school, where she and two hundred other orphaned girls have been promised a future as the teachers and artists of the New America. But the night before graduation, Eve learns the shocking truth about her school’s real purpose—and the horrifying fate that awaits her.

Fleeing the only home she’s ever known, Eve sets off on a long, treacherous journey, searching for a place she can survive. Along the way she encounters Arden, her former rival from school, and Caleb, a rough, rebellious boy living in the wild. Separated from men her whole life, Eve has been taught to fear them, but Caleb slowly wins her trust . . . and her heart. He promises to protect her, but when soldiers begin hunting them, Eve must choose between true love and her life. (description from Amazon.com)

I finally took the time on my vacation to just read books I had in my Nook, but had never gotten to...and let me tell you, this particular book turned out to be an EXCELLENT plane read.  It was just the right length, not too long, not too short. It had just the right balance of action and emotion and I could not turn the pages fast enough. I sped through this one and immediately wished I had invested in the second and third books before takeoff.  

I want to learn more! More about everything.  Who is the mysterious King that wants Eve for his own.  How on earth did we Americans let ourselves really get to the horrible point that Eve's generation now finds themselves in, with women and men terrified to interact and women being bred like cattle (*shudders*)..

As much as I always have that niggling feeling that characters fall in love too fast in these circumstances and there is something a little formulaic about how Eve and Caleb are drawn in to each other, (girl meets boy is terrified, he saves her, she intrigues him, he saves her again...etc) overall, I just liked their two characters together too much for it to matter.  I *wanted* them to succeed and be able to just be together... 

That was really what I loved about this book. It wasn't the best I've ever read by any means, but I was thoroughly invested in it. Carey MADE me care.  Kudos for that. 


Full disclosure: eARC originally from Netgalley, book purchased on my Nook