Wednesday, May 28, 2014

My Top 5 (All Right, Really it's Six...) Books to Hunt Down at BEA 2014 BEA there are a TON of books every year.  It can be amazing and totally overwhelming.  For the last two years, I finally figured out the system that works the best for me in wading through the sheer number of books readily available... I make a list of books I'm dying to pick up and then I color code that to narrow it down even further to five or maybe ten books MAX that I will desperately hunt for while in the Javitz.  The rest I leave pretty much to chance.

So what are this year's top choices, you ask?

Martyr by A.R. Kahler
 I LOVED A.R. Kahler's Immortal Circus series, so I'm dying to read this new one. 

Talon by Julie Kagawa
 I love Julie Kagawa's writing and storylines, so I'm anxious to see how she tackles dragons! 

The Unfairest of Them All by Shannon Hale
The Ever After High series is TOO cute and come on, Shannon Hale! Love her books.  

Deep Blue by Jennifer Donnelly 
I love Donnelly's other books and I cannot wait to see her tackle a fantasy... I hadn't thought this one was going to be at BEA, but I think it just might be!!  

The Expeditioners and the Secret of King Triton's Lair by S.S. Taylor
I LOVED the first book in this steampunk middle grade adventure series. I can't tell you how excited I was when I saw the sequel coming out! 

...AND of course, I've read this one already, but if I could get a signed, finished copy??? *swoon*
The One by Kiera Cass

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Talkin' Bout BEA!

So, I'm sure this time of year you probably see a veritable plethora of BEA tips and tricks posts.  Knowing that I'm going to keep this short and simple.  More just a listing of things I've learned from attending for the last five years.

Here we go:

* BEA (The Book Expo or Book Expo America, as it's officially known) is both AMAZING and utterly EXHAUSTING.  One of my favorite days of the whole year...and one that I need several days to recover from! We'll see if it's any different this year since I'm staying in NYC overnight to go two days... 

* Your feet WILL hurt. It does not matter what shoes you wear. By the end of the day, standing in line, moving to a different line, standing in line again... rinse, repeat,'re feet will be killing you.  Go home, put them up and just think of how it was worth the pain. (Oh, and ditto for your shoulders/back)

* No matter how few books and such you think you'll be limiting to yourself, pack as if you're bringing TWICE that much home.  Meaning... bring a giant roll-y bag to check (it only costs $3.00 for the day) that you can deliver books to throughout the day.  This will help with your feet, back, and shoulder aches PLUS you can just roll home your books if you're not paying to ship them home. 

* Talk to people.  TALK to everyone! I've talked to other bloggers, librarians, people at booths, people in never know who you'll meet.  I've been AMAZED to find out that the person I've been chatting up standing in line in front of me is actually the author whose signing I'm planning to attend later that day!  Plus, once you get comfortable doing it, you'll be amazed who you feel like you can just approach... I've walked up to John Green, Diana Peterfreund, Shannon Hale, R.L. Stine, and plenty of others just to let them know how much I appreciate their work.  

* MAKE A PLAN...AND THEN THROW MOST OF IT OUT THE WINDOW.  No, seriously.  You should go into BEA with at least an idea of what you'd like to do, see, and walk out with throughout the day...but stuff happens. Lines will be excruciatingly long.  Signings will be happening at the same time across the floor.  You will be about to faint from hunger and if you don't stop to take a break right this second something terrible might happen....and you'll have to let things go.  Don't be afraid to let things go! Stop by a publisher's booth later and ask if they have extra unsigned copies.  Chat up fellow attendees and see if you can do any swapsies.  JUST ENJOY what you DID get to do and see and know what to plan for next year.  

So, that's my basic BEA tips and tricks... hope you have a blast if you're going and if you can't make it this year, maybe there's next year! If you're there this year, I hope to see you!!

Friday, May 23, 2014

Blog Tour - The Fire's Princess

The Fire's Princess
by Ley Hayley
The Elemental Royals, book two

Publication date: June 4, 2014

Rose has lost everything she's ever known.

Her father has been murdered. She has fled her home in the Forested Land to take refuge with King Andrew Rivers in a foreign kingdom.

Her home is under the control of a tyrant king, one who will stop at nothing to see Rose and all of her family dead. She has to fight to stay hidden, stay alive, and find a way back home.

Now Rose must find a way to organize a rebellion to get back to her homeland, as well as win the hearts of a kingdom that doesn't know her. With lords scheming with hidden agendas and her own secrets threatening to be exposed, Rose must face enemies she never expected and find a destiny she never planned for.
(description from

Today, I'm happy to be part of Ley Hayley's blog tour for her second book in the Elemental Royals trilogy, THE FIRE'S PRINCESS. I had read and thoroughly enjoyed the first book, The Forest's Heir, back in March and was happy to read the sequel.  

Again, I really loved the setting and historical details.  I'm always fascinated by period dress and I loved reading about how naked Rose felt training in men's breeches, and the trouble she has getting dressed on her own when she injures her arm and it's in a sling.  I really feel as if I'm in the middle ages when reading about the ladies mending and sewing in front of's fun to sort of fall back in time.  

I also couldn't help but admire Rose's character even more in this book.  She takes all of her responsibilities on without question.  When her mother and sister had been brutalized and traumatized, she works to make them feel safe and whole once again.  When she decides to pursue her life in the River Kingdom, she researches their history and strives to become as knowledgeable as she was about her own Kingdom.  When she knows that Andrew will go to war for her, she convinces him to let her learn to fight on her own so that she can accompany him and convince her people that the River Kingdom is there to help them.  

Though Rose is torn in this book between the love she once had and the new love she feels now, watching the romance unfold was delicious.  I have to admit that I truly like King Andrew and I will root for them thoroughout the end of the tale ... though Andrew's brother, Phillip, is also quite swoonworthy... *sigh* 

I can't wait to see how things finally work out in the end! 

Full disclosure: eARC provided by author for tour 

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Do You SYNC?

It's that time of year again... the time when AudioFile Magazine sponsors a program called "SYNC" that allows listeners to download free Young Adult & Classic audio book downloads to encourage the listening experience. So great! A whole summer of free audiobooks!!

This year, they've expanded even more so there are a TON of audiobooks to choose from. Check it out! 

May 15 – May 21
WARP: THE RELUCTANT ASSASSIN by Eoin Colfer, Narrated by Maxwell Caulfield (Listening Library)  
THE TIME MACHINE by H.G. Wells, Narrated by Derek Jacobi (Listening Library)

May 22 – May 28  
CRUEL BEAUTY by Rosamund Hodge, Narrated by Elizabeth Knowelden (Harper Audio)
OEDIPUS THE KING by Sophocles, Performed by Michael Sheen and a full cast (Naxos AudioBooks)

May 29 – June 4  
CONFESSIONS OF A MURDER SUSPECT by James Patterson and Maxine Paetro, Narrated by Emma Galvin (Hachette Audio)
THE MURDER AT THE VICARAGE by Agatha Christie, Narrated by Richard E. Grant (Harper Audio)

June 5 – June 11  
ALL OUR YESTERDAYS by Cristin Terrill, Narrated by Meredith Mitchell (Tantor Audio)
JULIUS CAESAR by William Shakespeare, Performed by Richard Dreyfuss, JoBeth Williams, Stacy Keach, Kelsey Grammer, and a full cast (L.A. Theatre Works)

June 12 – June 18  
CODE NAME VERITY by Elizabeth Wein, Narrated by Morven Christie and Lucy Gaskell (Bolinda Audio)  
THE HIDING PLACE by Corrie Ten Boom, John Sherrill, Elizabeth Sherrill, Narrated by Bernadette Dunne (christianaudio)

June 19 – June 25  

I’D TELL YOU I LOVE YOU, BUT THEN I’D HAVE TO KILL YOU by Ally Carter, Narrated by Renée Raudman (Brilliance Audio)
ANNE OF GREEN GABLES by L.M. Montgomery, Narrated by Colleen Winton (Post Hypnotic Press)

June 26 – July 2
FORGIVE ME, LEONARD PEACOCK by Matthew Quick, Narrated by Noah Galvin (Hachette Audio)  
OCTOBER MOURNING: A Song for Matthew Shepard by Lesléa Newman, Narrated by Emily Beresford, Luke Daniels, Tom Parks, Nick Podehl, Kate Rudd, Christina Traister (Brilliance Audio)

July 3 – July 9  
TORN FROM TROY by Patrick Bowman, Narrated by Gerard Doyle (Post Hypnotic Press)
PETER AND THE STARCATCHERS by Dave Barry and Ridley Pearson, Narrated by Jim Dale (Brilliance Audio)

July 10 – July 16  
CLAUDETTE COLVIN: Twice Toward Justice by Philip Hoose, Narrated by Channie Waites (Brilliance Audio)
WHILE THE WORLD WATCHED by Carolyn Maull McKinstry with Denise George, Narrated by Felicia Bullock (Oasis Audio)

July 17 – July 23  
THE CASE OF THE CRYPTIC CRINOLINE by Nancy Springer, Narrated by Katherine Kellgren (Recorded Books)  
THE ADVENTURES OF SHERLOCK HOLMES II by Arthur Conan Doyle, Narrated by David Timson (Naxos AudioBooks)

July 24 – July 30  
HEADSTRONG by Patrick Link, Performed by Deidrie Henry, Ernie Hudson, Ntare Guma Mbaho Mwine and Scott Wolf (L.A. Theatre Works)  

THE STRANGE CASE OF DR. JEKYLL AND MR. HYDE by Robert Louis Stevenson, Narrated by Scott Brick (Tantor Audio)

July 31 – August 6  
DIVIDED WE FALL by Trent Reedy, Narrated by Andrew Eiden (Scholastic Audio)
THE RED BADGE OF COURAGE by Stephen Crane, Narrated by Frank Muller (Recorded Books)

August 7 – August 13  
LIVING A LIFE THAT MATTERS by Ben Lesser, Narrated by Jonathan Silverman and Ben Lesser (Remembrance Publishing)
THE SHAWL by Cynthia Ozick, Narrated by Yelena Shmulenson (HighBridge Audio)

Isn't that a great list? You can download either or both of the available titles each week by going here. I already downloaded both titles this week... I can't wait until the new ones are available on Thursday.

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Gold Star Review: The One

The One 
by Kiera Cass
The Selection, book one

The Selection changed the lives of thirty-five girls forever. And now, the time has come for one winner to be chosen.

America never dreamed she would find herself anywhere close to the crown—or to Prince Maxon's heart. But as the competition approaches its end and the threats outside the palace walls grow more vicious, America realizes just how much she stands to lose—and how hard she'll have to fight for the future she wants.
(description from

I devoured this book.  From the moment that I picked up the first book in the series, The Selection, I've been utterly hooked.  Cass created a great dystopian setting - a future where there is a rigid caste system holds the citizens of their kingdom hostage - a fabulous main character - a spirited girl who is also compassionate and brave in the face of adversity - and a heartbreaker of a prince... Maxon, *sigh*.  

I will fully admit that I love the many different aspects of this trilogy's story.  The precarious balance the royals find themselves in, trying desperately to save their way of life.  The drama of having many girls competing to catch the eye of just one man.  The romantic bits, the scary bits, the family bits... the romantic bits.  Oh wait, did I say that already?  Yes, yes I did.  It needed saying twice. 

I desperately needed to know how this series ended.  I thought I knew but I just had to find out for sure... and HOW they would get to that place.  The journey Kiera Cass took me on was well worth the wait.  I laughed, I cried, and I grinned along the way.  I had my heart broken several times, but in the end, I was truly, joyously happy with how things turned out.  

What I loved most about this ending was that while things ended in the happy way that I wanted, it was also messy. Very much like real life.  Things were not pat and easy and unbelievable.  There was sorrow right up until the final moments mixed in... 

While I would GLADLY read a follow-up book, perhaps one following the beginning of the fallout from the book (trying to be non-spoilery here), I am happy to report that I am also fully satisfied ending where this left off.

In fact, this ending earned a coveted GOLD STAR from me. 


Full disclosure: Purchased on my Nook (because I couldn't wait for the Library copy, LOL!) 

Monday, May 19, 2014

Book Expo 2014 is next week!!

So, BEA is upon us once again!

For those of you who don't know, there is a huge book conference called Book Expo America that occurs once a year, and for the last five years I've been lucky enough to attend it in New York City in May.

This year the conference takes place from Thursday, May 29 - Saturday, May 31, 2014 at the Javits Center.  My friend Kim and I are FINALLY going to BEA for more than one day this year.

It's such a huge conference that every year, I desperately try to do ALL the things, and find ALL the books...but one day never seems like enough.  So, this year, we're going on Friday and Saturday.  Hooray!! We're staying in a fancy New York hotel, we'll get to spend two days being ALL ABOUT THE BOOKS...and then we might even get to do some bookish things outside of the Expo on Friday night.

This year will probably be my last year attending BEA for a while.  I've got other things on my plate now and I've found myself re-prioritizing a little... so, I'm going to enjoy every moment and embrace the madness for what it is... I'm going to wear comfy shoes, dress in layers, and bring a big suitcase to carry home my bookish things.  I'm going to drink lots of water and talk to lots of people and NOT stress about the lines and the waits and such... I'm going to remember why I always feel like this is my BOOK CHRISTMAS and I'm going to have FUN.

I hope to see as many of my blogger, librarian, and author friends as possible. It's two days 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!

Saturday, May 17, 2014

The Cutest Giraffe Picture Book YET!

The Short Giraffe 
by Neil Flory and Mark Cleary

Geri is the shortest giraffe in the herd, which causes all kinds of problems when Boba the baboon tries to take a photo. Can Geri stretch up tall enough to be in the picture? Or are the other giraffes looking at things from the wrong perspective? (description from

What an ADORABLE picture book! Okay, I'm totally biased because I *love* giraffes, but... this is short, sweet, has great illustrations and models nice behavior for little ones.  

Poor little Geri is too short to be in the group photo, so the other giraffes try ALL types of ideas to get him to be tall enough to show in the picture.  They put him on stilts, they blow him up like a balloon, so that he'll float up in the picture... the hilarious attempts go on and on. 

When nothing works out the way they hope, Geri gets discouraged...until they realize that maybe they've been looking at the problem the wrong way! If they can't get Geri to be taller... maybe they can all be a little shorter... 

And once they bent down to Geri's height, they got the perfect photo... 

So cute.  I really loved it.  

The images are bright and fun, but are also simple and "clean" enough that small children would have no problem identifying what's happening.  Very easy for storytime or just reading aloud at home as a family.  

Full disclosure: Borrowed through interlibrary loan 

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

2014 ABNA Judging - Update #2

I blogged last week about how I was finishing up my quarterfinal judging for this year's Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award.  Today was our due date. I'm happy to say that I finished everything in time and am happy to probably just watch some bad tv for the next few days.  I DO however, have some excellent books just waiting to be read this weekend... *grins*
So, like last year and the year before and the year before...well, you get the idea... I can't actually tell you what I've read.  I can, however, give you a little teaser for each and then you can all wait with me to see how they do in the next round! 
Novel 1 - A college student discovers that she can manipulate the elements.  Now she's being hunted for her powers and if she can't band together with one aggravating/cute boy, she may not survive to get her degree...
Novel 2 - A high fantasy about a man who can travel between worlds.  When a dragon egg is stolen and brought to our world he must return it or risk both worlds falling to ruin...
Novel 3 - A dystopian set in a snow-covered London.  A stranger enters a small, self-sufficient community of survivors and brings danger into their cozy world. 
Novel 4 - A horror story about a serial killer targeting a neighborhood to create an artistic vision that will shock the world...
Novel 5 - A dieselpunk adventure set in an alternate Prohibition-Era Chicago where the gods topple Capone only to bring ruin to the City as they try to grab power for themselves... 
This year, I was pleased that I really enjoyed two of the books! Enough that I would love to read sequels for them both.  I can only hope that someday I can...      
So, until next year, I'm officially done with ABNA... *wipes forehead and grins*

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

2014 ABNA Judging - Update #1

I blogged last year (here and here) about the fact that I am one of the contracted Quarterfinalist judges for Amazon's Breakthrough Novel Award each year.

As with last year, Amazon allows entries in five categories: General Fiction, Mystery and Thriller, Romance, Science Fiction and Fantasy, and finally, Young Adult. Like last year, I'm judging in the Science Fiction and Fantasy category. I love it because I've always been a sci-fi/fantasy enthusiast...ever since I could first read.

A few weeks ago, I received five anonymous manuscripts that I have to read and review by the middle of next week. It is such an interesting process to judge for this contest because not only am I reading to see if the premise is intriguing and the characters engaging, etc, but I also have to take tons of notes as I read so that when I go back to do my review, I can cite each piece of information that I use to discuss the work.

While I have a lot of fun reading each new story (it's so fun to just read a book with NO prior knowledge of its content sometimes), the critical skills necessary to reading for this specific contest can become fatiguing. It's absolutely rewarding at the end, though, like when I found out that one of the books that I read and pushed forward two years ago (Regina Sirois' On Little Wings) actually went on to WIN the category. Then last year, Rysa Walker's YA book won the whole contest... which I found thrilling, as well! (GO YA!)

So...for the next week or so, you may hear almost nothing from me as I finish up my last two books and their reviews, but I'll try to keep you posted...

Saturday, May 3, 2014


by Lorie Ann Grover 

When Tiadone was born, her parents had two choices: leave their daughter outside the community to die in the wilds, or raise her as male and force her to suppress all feminine traits. Now, as the first female living as male in her village, Tiadone must prove her father didn’t make a mistake by letting her live.

As her male initiation approaches, Tiadone knows every eye on the community is on her, and desperately wishes to belong and finally be accepted. But at every step, traditional feminine gifts and traits emerge, and the bird she’s been twined with is seen as a sign of evil.

Worse, as Tiadone completes her rites, she finds she is drawn to her male best friend in ways that are very much in line with the female gender.

Confused and desperate, Tiadone tries to become what she must be while dealing with what she indeed has become: a young woman who may be able to stand up to her despotic rulers and uncover her real purpose in life.
(Description from

So, when I read the description for this book, I was thoroughly intrigued. I thought the premise was really cool and I love dystopians so I was pretty sure I'd love this book.  

Sadly, what started out as a really great idea for a book fell short for me. This author's writing was what often gets referred to as "purple prose." Overly descriptive language, analogies that don't really fit the context, etc.  I was so distracted by the actual writing that I would find myself losing track of the story sometimes.  

Secondly, I found parts of the story oddly disturbing.  The story begins by letting us know that Tiadone is around 13, ready to do her year of service to the Madronians.  This girl, who to this point has never gotten her period, has not thought about or talked about sex, suddenly starts LUSTING, and I mean like full-on adult sounding descriptions of lust!, for her best friend, Ratho.  I was really uncomfortable when I read parts of the story.  There was such a huge discrepancy between her stated age and the way that she acted in several aspects of her life, I'd start thinking she was in her late teens! 

One thing I did really love in the book, though, was Tiadone's relationship with her rapion, Mirko.  They had a sweet, loving relationship and I loved seeing their interactions.  

While I wanted to like this book and still think the idea for it is great, I just found myself disappointed when I finished. 

Full disclosure: Audio book reviewed for Audiofile 

Thursday, May 1, 2014

Anxiously Awaiting... The Falconer!

The Falconer
by Elizabeth May

Publication date: May 6, 2014 

Edinburgh, Scotland, 1844

Lady Aileana Kameron, the only daughter of the Marquess of Douglas, was destined for a life carefully planned around Edinburgh’s social events – right up until a faery killed her mother.

Now it’s the 1844 winter season and Aileana slaughters faeries in secret, in between the endless round of parties, tea and balls. Armed with modified percussion pistols and explosives, she sheds her aristocratic facade every night to go hunting. She’s determined to track down the faery who murdered her mother, and to destroy any who prey on humans in the city’s many dark alleyways.

But the balance between high society and her private war is a delicate one, and as the fae infiltrate the ballroom and Aileana’s father returns home, she has decisions to make. How much is she willing to lose – and just how far will Aileana go for revenge?

So, this one comes out next's not too far off, but I only just found out about it! It sounds delightfully up my alley.  I can't wait to request it at the library. *grins*