Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Top Ten Tuesday - What do you have coming up on your list?

I'm trying not to become a regular meme-aholic. However, this week's Top Ten Tuesday is something I spend a lot of time thinking about. I tinker around with my "to-read" shelf on Goodreads.com waaaay more than I'd like to admit. Somedays, I order it by preference. Sometimes, it's my "to review" order. I never can decide! And on days where I go on an adding rampage, it's a whole jumbled mess!

So, today's Top Ten Tuesday topic is to post your Top Ten "to be read" for the Winter. Picking just 10 books was TOUGH, but I think I've got it. Some of these aren't out until spring/summer, so I guess, technically I'm cheating, but the ARCs will be out in the winter. That counts, right?
  1. The Clockwork Prince by Cassandra Clare - I'm reading "Clockwork Angel" right now. I seriously cannot believe I didn't read this book immediately when it came out. It is so fun! I love steampunky/Victorian goodness and Clare's books are always so much fun. I am lucky enough to have one of the rare ARCs headed my way courtesy of Michelle Hodkin. I won her Twitter giveaway! :D :D
  2. Love & Leftovers by Sarah Tregay - this book just sounds so sweet. I can't resist it. It's been awhile since I've read a contemporary love story and this one is in verse. I've always been apprehensive about reading books in verse, but I'm going to give it a shot.
  3. Tempest by Julie Cross - this book just has my name written all over it. All you have to say is "Time Travel". Come on...what Doctor Who fan isn't a lover of time travel books?
  4. Midnight in Austenland by Shannon Hale - Do I seriously need to explain this to you? SHANNON HALE. 'Nuff said. (BTW, if you haven't listened to her on our podcast, you should go, like, now. She's amazing.)
  5. Everneath by Brodi Ashton - I'm normally not a cover girl, but man. This cover has me intrigued. That dress and the mist? I'm already intrigued. As you may know from my reviews of Abandon and The Goddess Test, I love the Persephone myth.
  6. Lies Beneath by Anne Greenwood Brown - Mermaids + Lake Superior. COME ON PEOPLE. You are going to make me broke in 2012!! ;)
  7. The Gathering Storm by Robin Bridges - This book just sounds different and fascinating. 1800s Russian aristocracy, dangerous secrets, and romance? Mmm mmm.
  8. Bloodrose by Andrea Cremer - Okay. I'm cheating. I already read it, but it does come out this winter. It's a fabulous finale to the intense wolfy triology.
  9. A Million Suns by Beth Revis - I adored Across the Universe, so I cannot wait to find out what's happening next to Amy & Elder.
  10. Incarnate by Jodi Meadows - This book sounds so emotionally powerful. I'll have to make sure it's in between some lighter books. I can already tell that it's going to be a tear jerker.
Phew! Well that's all for me. What is your "to be read" list looking like?

For those of you who are new visitors, be sure to check out big ol' anniversary giveaway page. It just started today! :)

Top Ten Tuesday is a meme hosted by The Broke and the Bookish. Go to their blog to join in on the fun.

I Spy in the Ocean by Damon Burnard, Illustrated by Julia Cairins

E is currently obsessed with sea life. He loves learning about the different creatures in the ocean, so this little board book was a fun addition to his book collection. "I Spy in the Ocean" is a simple little board book that uses a cut out hole on every other page to let kids "spy" the creature. At the end, the reader find out the letters spell "O-C-E-A-N". Some of the reviewers on Amazon were complaining about the animals being too scary or obscure ("N" is for "Nurse Shark"), but E doesn't seem to mind. He loves eels, crabs, and all sorts of sharks. Sure, having "N" stand for "Nurse Shark" or "A" for "Angelfish" is a little out there, but I don't really think it's a big deal. All and all, a quick, fun read for the little sea lover in your family!

I purchased "I Spy in the Ocean" at the Aquarium of the Pacific gift shop. It's published by Chronicle Books.

Two quick notes

Hi folks! I'll be posting E's Pick of the Week here in a little bit, but first I have two things I want to share with you.
  1. Please spread the word about the auction going on right now to benefit Terri Windling. There are SO many great things to bid on. Holly Black might kill you in her next novel, you could get a pretty handpainted scarf, some BPAL perfume, signed books and more! Vania of VLC Productions and I have joined forces to offer up a one minute book trailer to one lucky winner. So if you know an author or publisher who would love to get a rockin' trailer and do good at the same time, direct them to our auction at Magick 4 Terri.
  2. I've finally put up the sign up form for my epic anniversary giveaway. For more details and to enter, please visit the page. I am so excited to share all of these great prizes with you guys!
Alright. That's all from me at the moment. I'll be back in a little while with E's Pick of the Week!

Monday, November 28, 2011

Legend by Marie Lu

Okay apparently it is dystopian week on my blog! First the awesome “Birthmarked” series on Friday, now “Legend” by Marie Lu! Whoo! Yay Dystopians!!

Well, as I mentioned on Friday, I love a good dystopian. Mm mm. Nothing like reading about other people’s troubles to make you realize how awesome your life is right? (I think the song Schaudenfreude from “Avenue Q” has been running through my head too much!) In all seriousness though, it’s a form of fantasy that is (most of the time) grounded a bit more in reality. I love it. Marie Lu’s contribution “Legend” is a FUN one.

Ms. Lu uses two different narrators to tell this story - Day, who is living a young man living on the streets, and June, a wealthy young woman and star pupil of the regime in power. It’s set in Los Angeles, now part of the Republic. One day, these two unknowingly become intimated connected when Day, a “Robin Hood” type, becomes the prime suspect in the murder of June’s beloved brother. June strikes out to avenge her brother, all the while Day is still struggling to save a family who has been infected with a dangerous disease. Both individually are brilliant, but when they learn what the Republic will do in order to stay in power, they become a force to be reckoned with.

As I said, this book is a lot of fun. I can totally see why it got picked up almost instantaneously to become a movie. It’s going to be fantastic on the big screen. It also is pretty darn tootin’ good in book form, even the audiobook is fabulous! I actually think I enjoyed the audiobook more. It was so interesting to have such two distinct voices for the narrators. Despite being a voice actor, sometimes my head got a little fuzzy bouncing back and forth. I think Day sometimes came off a little feminine... not sure how to describe it. It just was fuzzy at times in my head. Hearing it though? Super clear! I’ve never listened to an audiobook after reading. It was interesting. Now I can’t wait to see the movie in a year or two to make the cycle complete! ;)

I received an ARC from the publisher for review. "Legend" is being released TOMORROW - November 29th. Marie will actually be on our podcast next month over at Authors are ROCKSTARS! and we’ll be giving away a signed ARC. :D

Sunday, November 27, 2011

In My Mailbox - November 27th!

Hi folks! I haven't done this in awhile, but I just had to share because I am SO excited. Seriously, I was so excited that getting my new car elicited less of a happy dance. (Yes, I happy dance. My husband tells me that my dances remind him of Tina Fey's character Liz Lemon on 30 Rock. I take that as a compliment because she is AWESOME. Hehe!)

It's been a quiet few weeks for me as I recover from everything that is going on. I haven't been reading as much as usual (only one book a week.. GASP!), but I'm getting back into the swing of things now.

Anyways... moving on to IMM and me making all of you jealous! ;)

I KNOW RIGHT!?!?! You should have seen my Liz Lemon-esque happy dance when this arrived. I have already dived in, but am trying to savor it which is SO HARD. OMG I WANT TO KNOOOOOW. I am totally a Shay gal, but man... that Ren is getting more and more appealing. Who do you guys like? :) Share your thoughts!

Also - new visitors, be sure to check out my anniversary giveaway prize announcement from earlier this week.

Until next time... ;)

Friday, November 25, 2011

Birthmarked and Prized by Caragh M. O'Brien

I devoured “Birthmarked” and “Prized” by Caragh M. O’Brien almost as fast as I did my Thanksgiving meal yesterday. Yum! I love a good dystopian and Ms. O’Brien’s story does not disappoint. It’s a very simple dystopian, but it works. The story is set in the future of Earth, hundreds of years after Lake Michigan dried up and resources around the world have become extremely limited. Society now lives in small little civilizations that are incredibly far apart and do not communicate with one another. In book one, “Birthmarked”, we meet Gaia. Gaia’s mother is a midwife and Gaia has been in training to be one too. We first meet her on her first solor birthing. Her family has faithfully served the Enclave, or so she thought. After Gaia is forced to separate the baby she just delivered from its mother and deliver it to the Enclave as is the law, she returns home to find out her parents have been arrested. Gaia doesn’t know who to trust anymore and how she’ll be able to save her family from the powerful Enclave.

That’s the basics of the story, but it’s so much more than that. It’s about a girl who has been treated by her society as damaged goods her whole life due to a scar across her face. She has to learn how to survive on her own and save her family. During all this, she’s confronted with so many obstacles including meeting a young man who drives her insane - in both a good and bad way. She has to make the decision between striking out on her own or trying to ignore what she’s learned and live a simple life in veiled ignorance. What do you think you would choose? Hrmmm....

The story evolves in book two and honestly, you could probably read book two without reading book one. The story is definitely ongoing, but once you settle in to the world, you’d figure out what’s going on. That’s all I can really say without spoiling it, but I really liked it. Gaia has to wrestle without a lot of emotional issues. There’s a bit of a love triangle going on. It’s interesting. I love how simple and clean the writing is. It’s an easy read, but not in a dumbed down kinda way. The words just flow. It’s easy to relate to the characters and understand the world they live in. It’s very cinematic. I could see it making an excellent movie. It’s solid and I say that as a huge compliment. I cannot complain about one thing.

Oh wait.. yes, I can. Book 3 doesn’t come out for awhile yet. I want to know what happens to Gaia. GAAAAAAAAH! ;o)

The “Birthmarked” series by Caragh M. O’Brien is published by Roaring Brook Press (Macmillan). I purchased “Birthmarked”, but I received an ARC of “Prized” from the publisher. (I know, I’m a very lucky lady.) Both books are available now - so go! Get a copy today.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Revealing my anniversary giveaway prizes!

Dun dun dun... it's the day you've been waiting for. I'm so excited for this giveaway that I cannot keep the prizes a secret anymore. Before I reveal the prizes, I've put together a tab with the rules/tips to increase your chances of winning. This is a one winner takes all contest and is open internationally. I do ask though that if the winner is outside the USA that they help pay shipping. You can review the tips on how to earn points and win here. I'll be posting the entry form around Christmas time. So get to work!

Now without further ado... my anniversary giveaway prize pack!
The grand prize winner will win all the signed books. The runner up will win the gloves and the autographed bookmarks. I'll split the remaining swag between the two winners.

So get commenting. You can also earn commenting points by heading over to the podcast I co-host, Authors are ROCKSTARS! and listening/commenting on the podcasts over there. They are also available on iTunes, but please comment on the site.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

The Name of the Star by Maureen Johnson

I keep changing my star rating on Goodreads.com for this one. I had a good time reading it, but in the end, it didn’t really blow me away.

Side rant: I don’t know why I even bother star rating except that I want my reviews to show up when people sort through them. I know I sort through and try to read 2 reviews from each star rating before deciding to read a book. (Yes, I’m that crazy. I know, I know!) I feel like when I rate something as “3 stars”, it is like saying it is bad by Goodreads.com standards, but I don’t want to rate everything I read 4 or 5 stars. What do you guys do?

Anyways, moving on. This story is advertised with quotes about being romantic and full of mystery, with quotes from paranormal and fantasy queens like Cassandra Clare and Holly Black. I was expecting something more paranormal and less standard murder mystery. It does involve some strange happenings that turn out to be paranormal in the end, but it just wasn’t enough for me.

Rory Deveraux, of New Orleans, chooses to go off to boarding school in London for her senior year, rather than move to Bristol along with her parents. She figures this way she can see her parents, but experience London city life. On the day of Rory’s arrival in London, a woman is brutally murdered a la Jack the Ripper’s first victim. It also happened to be the anniversary of that murder. The area around her school is the Ripper’s old turf and Rippermania takes over as more of the murders are recreated by a mysterious murderer who evades all the CCTV cameras. On the night of one of the murders, Rory sneaks out to go over to the boys dorm with her roommate and on her way back, she sees and speaks to a man that her roommate didn’t see at all, despite the fact that he was directly in her field of vision. The next day, she awakes to find her school abuzz with fear and excitement. A woman was murdered in their courtyard and she realizes that she’s the only witness. Suddenly, strange people are entering Rory’s life. Smeets with a strange and curt policeman, after the regular line of questioning was completed. She then gets a surprise late entry new roomie who will not leave her alone. As she unravels all the mysteries around her, she finds surprise discoveries about herself and why she was the only one to see the man that night.

It was a terribly fun murder mystery though. Maureen Johnson writes in a fun and easy-to-read format that will appeal to even the more reluctant readers. This is definitely not a book to read before bed (a lesson I learned the hard way). It can be downright gruesome and really friggin’ scary. Those last few chapters... phew! My heart was palpitating and my palms were sweaty.

Maybe murder mysteries just aren’t my thing? I’ve read too few to make a judgement call for me, but if you love ‘em, you should definitely check this out. I think you’ll enjoy the ride. I am interested to see where this series goes and will definitely be reading book two.

I received an ARC from the publisher for review. "The Name of the Star" was published by Putnam Juvenile on September 29th.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

What's in the Witch's Kitchen? by Nick Sharratt

I know it's a little delayed, but it would be remiss of me to not mention this book. E is absolutely insanely crazy for it. Even though Halloween passed over two weeks ago, we still read this book daily. Why? It's a book totally for little boys. It mentions pee and poop which E finds absolutely HILARIOUS. He loves the other gross and scary things too, but especially the excrement pages. I know. He is such a boy. What happened to my sweet little baby? This book is simply a gimmicky, cute book full of flaps for toddlers to explore. Each page has two flaps... a good flap and a bad flap. E gets so excited when we get to each gross or scary item and I start saying "ew gross!" or "ahh!".

You need to be a very animated reader though for this one. When one of our babysitters tried to read it to him in a normal voice, he thought it was boring and wanted to move on. However, when Mom or Dad read it, it is worthy of big ol' belly chuckles.

"What's in the Witch's Kitchen?" by Nick Sharratt is published by Candlewick. E received a copy as a gift from his wonderful Grandma.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Fateful by Claudia Gray

“Fateful” is a paranormal romance with werewolves, set on the Titanic.

I know what you’re thinking... “Werewolves on the Titanic?!”

Now, hold on a minute. Say it aloud a few times. Werewolves on the Titanic. Werewolves ON the Titanic. WEREWOLVES on the TITANIC.

Yup. It just SANK (wah wah wah) in a bit, didn’t it? Claudia Gray’s “Fateful” is pure brilliance. What a clever idea! It’s a beautiful mesh of historical and paranormal, making a lot of fun for fans of either genre. For people like me who love both? It is a gift!

Tess is a servant to a once wealthy noble family who is making the voyage to New York hoping to marry the daughter, whom Tess waits on, into money before the family name isn’t enough anymore. Tess is determined to free herself from her mistress’ odious mother and brother upon arriving in New York City. She’s saved up and as soon as her feet hit the ground, she’s giving her notice and starting a new life. Prior to even boarding the ship though, Tess meets a mysterious young man named Alec. He saves her from a rabid wolf and then dismisses her quickly with a threat. She runs into him again aboard the ship and finds herself attracted to him despite his aura of danger. She is quickly drawn into a world full of dangerous men who can turn into wolves and who want something possessed by the family she works for. The werewolf they sent will stop at nothing to get it. He is actually looking forward to toying with and then killing her along the way. Despite all this danger, Tess and Alec fall in love and with this strength, they go into battle - willing to face whatever the evening brings, be it murderous werewolves or their ship hitting an iceberg.

Claudia Gray is a fantastic writer. She weaves together historical and paranormal elements with amazing agility and grace in “Fateful”. It’s such a perfect fusion of both that fans of either genre will be pleased with the result. I know I was! The werewolves aren’t cheesy and are truly frightening. Tess is definitely one tough cookie, but it’s not out of character for her or just due to the love she’s found in Alec. The life of a servant in this time period was incredibly tough and it made Tess into who she was. I could go on and on trying to appeal to all the potential worries that I see people having, but then this review would be BORING! Just trust me, okay? “Fateful” by Claudia Gray is definitely worth reading.

You can choose to win a copy of "Fateful" over at Authors are ROCKSTARS! right now. We're doing a giveaway where you choose from "Supernaturally", "Eve", "Cold Kiss", or "Fateful". The remaining three will be given away here for my end of the year crazy giveaway. Remember me talking about that? If not, click here for the details so you can be qualified to win!

“Fateful” by Claudia Gray is published by HarperTeen and came out in September. I purchased a copy to giveaway over on Authors are ROCKSTARS!

Thursday, November 10, 2011

The Scorpio Races by Maggie Stiefvater

This may seem weird, but then again, when don’t I seem weird? Maggie Steifvater’s “The Scorpio Races” reminded me off an old movie set in Europe...something like “The Quiet Man”, but more serious. It’s kind of slow moving and it’s very subtle, but I enjoyed it. I found myself content throughout reading it and Maggie’s descriptions of the setting are gorgeous.

Sean Kendrick has nothing of his own. Puck Connoly has been content with her life, but after startling news, she finds she may lose everything she holds dear. Puck rides to save her family from ruin and Sean rides because he has to...because he’d lose the only creature on earth that means something to him if he doesn’t. However, riding in the Scorpio Races is a dangerous thing. You don’t ride normal horses. You ride water horses or capall uisce. They are carnivorous, aggressive beasts that will be happy to eat you or lure you into the ocean and drown you if given the opportunity. Sean lost his father in the races when he was just a boy. Puck also lost her parents to the dangerous horses that lurk in the waters around her island. And yet, here they are - racing for freedom and finding in their struggle a bond that will give them the strength they need to make it through.

As I mentioned in my review of “Forever”, I love the way Maggie writes, I’ve just never been a big fan of her plots or pacing. I think in “The Scorpio Races”, we see Maggie taking things to another level. In this book, she has to create her own lore, instead of modifying lore that is readily available (werewolves and faeries). I have some plot/pacing issues, but I was satisfied from beginning to end. I wouldn’t recommend it to readers who like action-packed fantastical romance. You won’t find that here. Instead, this is a slice of life portrayal about a small island where there are strange horses that come out of the water to eat animals and people. Okay, yes, there is a shroud of mystery and danger, but it’s still very much a part of the regular lives of the island’s residents.

Think of it as a historical (the style of life they lead on the island is very old fashioned and simple) with paranormal elements. If you look at it that way, you may be in for a unique treat.

"The Scorpio Races" is published by Scholastic. I received an ARC from the publisher for review. It was released in October.

Saturday, November 5, 2011


Sorry for the lack of updates. My father passed away. Thank you guys for all the support via Twitter over the past week. It's been a hard one, but I'm home now.

Thank you again. I'll get back to my regular review schedule soon.
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