Thursday, June 23, 2011

Legacy by Cayla Kluver

I was pleasantly surprised by Cayla Kluver’s "Legacy". I had been a little apprehensive going in due to Ms. Kluver’s age when she wrote the book. Not that I don’t think teens are smart (I do!), but I just was prejudiced. Well, it just goes to prove that when you have talent, you just have it.

"Legacy" is an epic fantasy story filled with intrigue and romance. Almost seventeen years ago, the kingdoms of Hytanica and Cokyri were at war. It was brutal. The Cokyrians are fierce fighters and Hytanica was holding on by a thread. Then, the war stopped, but not until the Cokyrians had stolen forty-nine infant boys and returned the bodies of all, but one, to the doorsteps of Hytanica. Then, just like that, the war was oven. The Cokyrians withdrew and an uneasy peace settled on Hytanica. Princess Alera was raised during this time of peace, but her life was anything but peaceful. She was the crown princess and in the patriarchal society of Hytanica, and was forced to be married so that her husband could rule. She was surrounded by suitors who saw her as a tool for their ambition and an impatient father who was anxious to see his daughter married so he could retire. Then, Alera met Narian, a young man who showed her respect. He actually cared about her opinions and listened to her like no other man ever had. Narian’s arrival is shrouded in darkness and mystery, though. As his past is revealed, Alera must face a choice between her duty to her people and the desires of her heart.

If you are a fantasy fan, you’ll love this book. What can I say? Ms. Kluver had me at the word “princess”. I’m a sucker for anything with love and princesses. Throw in some action, maybe a love triangle and a strong female lead.. um yeah, I’m set! “Legacy” has all of this. There is a large cast involved and Ms. Kluver is able to give them all an individual voice. The world was lovely and easy to imagine based on the book’s descriptions. I fell in love and wanted to live there, well, except for the whole patriarchal thing. I don’t think I’d dig that. The only negative thing I can say is that sometimes it felt like Ms. Kluver was pushing too hard to fit the stereotypical fantasy style writing. It just felt a little forced, but nothing terribly distracting. The plot moves fast, the characters are likable, and there is plenty of mystery and fantasy-filled fun. Ms. Kluver kept me guessing at every turn and I loved every moment of the ride.

I’m really interested to see where this story goes. There are so many characters I care about. I cannot wait to read book two. Please release it soon, Harlequin! Fantasy fans, you’ll love this one.

I received a digital ARC of “Legacy” from the publisher via “Legacy” is published by Harlequin Teen and will be released on June 28th. Get your copy today!

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Hop on Pop by Dr. Seuss

E’s Pick of this Week is another book that doesn’t really need an introduction, it’s “Hop on Pop” by Dr. Seuss. Honestly, I could blather on and on about how awesome it is, but if you haven’t been living under a rock for the past 50 years, you’ve heard of it. It’s adorable. I love changing up the pacing to keep it fresh. E thinks it’s hilarious when I try to go really fast then flub. It’s fun. Get it today.

“Hop on Pop” is available in board book (abridged version, which is what we have), hardcover, and audiobook (read by David Hyde Pierce) form. It is published by Random House Books for Young Readers.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

The winner of the May giveaway is...

The winner of the May Giveaway is...

Lu Ann S.

I'll be emailing you Lu Ann today to find out what your pick is! Keep an eye on the blog because next week, I'll be putting up the sign up for the June release give away and there are some GREAT books this month to choose from. :D

Thank you for helping me choose a random number!

Forgotten by Cat Patrick

I’ve been having a hard time writing this review. I enjoyed “Forgotten” by Cat Patrick while reading it, but as it came to an end, I found myself disengaging from the plot line. Ms. Patrick is a very talented writer and I hate to put a negative vibe out there because as I said, I did enjoy “Forgotten”, but the plot line was very ambitious and I just feel like it was missing...something. I’m not quite sure what that something is though. I enjoyed the ride and would definitely recommend it despite this weird hang up of mine.

Everyday is a new day, but we always come into it knowing what happened the day before. For London Lane though, all she has is a note. For some reason, London remembers things from her future, but not from her past. It sure doesn’t make high school life or friendships/relationships easy. Talk about awkward! To top it all off, London is plagued with nightmares and she can’t determine who they are about or the “when” these nightmares come from. She decides it’s time to dig into her past beyond the notes and journals she keeps for herself. To quote, “Part psychological drama, part romance, and part mystery, this thought-provoking novel will inspire readers to consider the what-if's in their own lives and recognize the power they have to control their destinies.”

“Forgotten” is such an interesting read and as I mentioned before, an ambitious concept. I really enjoyed watching London unravel her past without being able to access the memories locked in her mind. Ms. Patrick’s writing is splendid. She took on a lot with this novel and I think she handled it quite well. I fell in love with the characters and the romance between our heroine and Lucas. It’s just SO sweet. I absolutely love friendship based romance and this one is delightful. The book started to lose me towards the end, partially because I wanted to stay focused on Cat and her life rather than on the conflict presented. It wasn’t like Ms. Patrick’s writing wasn’t engaging (I cannot emphasize enough that this book is so well written!). I don’t know why... I’m just a weirdo.

Seriously, this book is really interesting and a great read for anyone who enjoys a good psychological drama and/or romance. It is unlike any other book on the market right now so read it for a complete change of pace. I’m sure you’ll love it!

I received a copy of “Forgotten” from publisher. It is published by Little, Brown for Young Readers and was released on June 7th of this year.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Go, Dog. Go! by Dr. Seuss

Today’s Pick of the Week comes from the classics - it’s “Go, Dog. Go! ” by Dr. Seuss. We purchased this book just a few days ago and it’s been read at least 5 times a day since. E just loves it. He’s really interested in letters and reading right now and this book is perfect. The phrases are memorable and short, giving him a chance to really study them letter by letter. Plus.. it has DOGS, CARS, AND BIKES, OH MY! ;D Oh and there are dogs swinging on the last page (spoiler, haha!). It doesn’t get much better than that.

We’re so excited that a lot of great shorter Dr. Seuss books are being released in board book form. They’re so fun to read with our little guy. Just look for the Dr. Seuss display at your local bookstore.

"Go, Dog. Go!" is published by Random House Books for Young Readers and is available in board book, rag book, and hardcover.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Hourglass by Myra McEntire

Oh “Hourglass” how I love thee... let me bullet point the ways.
  • Smart - It’s obvious that Ms. McEntire is a smarty pants and I mean that in the nicest way.
  • Rich, real characters - I fell in love with these characters.
  • Unique plot - This book kept me on my toes - THANK YOU.
  • Cliffhanger free ending, but yet I am dying for more - THANK YOU x 2.
“Hourglass” is one of the best books I’ve read this year. It’s a time slip romance, but it’s so real. Em (short for Emerson, which is an awesome name and I may steal it if I have a little girl next time around) is probably my favorite YA heroine of all time. She’s snarky, yet tender hearted. She is definitely a brave and strong young woman, yet she’s vulnerable and has lived her teen years being troubled by her ability and the death of her parents. You see, Em can see (and talk to) images of the past. So, she may strike up a conversation with someone only to find out that she’s the only one who can see them. So, it’s hard to get close to people when most of the world thinks you’re coo coo for Cocoa Puffs. Em lives with her brother and his wife, who are kind souls who just want to help Em. Her brother hires consultants to try and deal with his sister’s ability. Most of the time, they turn out to be whack jobs, but this time... he hires a hottie who also sees the things Emerson does. To steal questions from the summary, “Who is this dark, mysterious, sympathetic guy, barely older than Emerson herself, who seems to believe every crazy word she says? Why does an electric charge seem to run through the room whenever he’s around? And why is he so insistent that he needs her help to prevent a death that never should have happened?”

This book was addictive and I am sure it will become a big hit. I see it appealing to nerds like me (come on, she makes a reference to Star Trek AND Doctor Who!) and to girls like my sister who love a good addictive YA romance. All the characters are easy to relate to and very real. I love the relationship dynamic with Em and her brother. It’s adorable and so heartfelt. I honestly cannot rave enough about the authenticity of Ms. McEntire’s characters. So often in YA fiction, the character development is sacrificed in order to keep the plot moving and keep teens interested. Ms. McEntire was able to keep the plot moving at an engaging pace and create real, genuine people that we come to care about. (Be sure to have a tissue box handy. She had me sobbing!) She tops it all off with creating a lovely atmosphere for each scene. Seriously, this author is amazing. I cannot say enough nice things, so I think I’ll just shut up now. PRE-ORDER A COPY TODAY! (Oh and if you pre-order, you can also get yourself a poster of the “Hourglass” cover. Check out Ms. McEntire’s blog for details.)

“Hourglass” is published by EgmontUSA and is scheduled to be released on June 14th of this year. I received an ARC from the publisher for review. The author Myra McEntire will be on the podcast this month, so be sure to give it a listen for more on this wonderful debut title.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Oh My Oh My Oh Dinosaurs! by Sandra Boynton

Check list for one not-so-little toddler whose name begins with E:
  • Dinosaurs, monsters or animals? CHECK - Dinosaurs.. roaaar.
  • Something new to learn? CHECK - In this Sandra Boynton book, we work on contrasting things.
  • Short? Check!
  • Board book? Check-a-roony!
These are the three main qualities I’ve found that make a hit book with E. E's Pick of the Week - Sandra Boynton’s “Oh My Oh My Oh Dinosaurs!” does not disappoint. It has everything we want in a book. It’s a short, fun read featuring something super cool dinosaurs and it teaches something while still engaging young toddlers like my son.

This book is great for teaching contrast. For example, on one side, Ms. Boynton will show “Dinosaurs happy” and on the page next door, “Dinosaurs sad”. E just loves it and I know your little one will too.

Oh My Oh My Oh Dinosaurs is published by Workman Publishing Company and is available right now in board book form.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

The Ghost and the Goth/Queen of the Dead by Stacey Kade

“The Ghost and the Goth” and “Queen of the Dead” are two books in a series by Stacey Kade. I’ll try to keep this spoiler free for those of you who haven’t read “The Ghost and the Goth” yet. The story follows a teen girl named Alona Dare. Alona has it all. She’s intelligent, beautiful and a master of manipulation. Her life is a game of chess and she’s the queen. (Although she would NEVER relate her life to something as dorky as chess. Ew!) Unfortunately, that life is cut short by a freak accident and now she’s left hanging around in this in between zone - among the living, but without being alive anymore. She has some unfinished business, but she can’t figure out what or how to finish it so she can move on to that mega mall and closets full of shoes in the sky. She’s walking around campus, seeing how people are reacting to her death, when she stumbles across Will, the boy who likes to wear dark clothing and hangs out with a girl with safety pins in her face. Will laughs at her...because he can SEE her. Will is a ghost talker. The poor guy is haunted by ghosts all day long and is seen by his mom and people around him as mentally ill. Alona decides that Will is just the guy to help her and she is a girl who is used to getting her way. She won’t take “no” for an answer and maybe Will isn’t exactly as anti-Alona as he seemed back when she was alive. Will though has some problems of his own including a weird cloud of a ghost that is haunting him and the fact that his psychologist wants to lock him up in a padded room. This unlikely duo pairs together to solve both of their problems and ends up forming a fun and sassy friendship. The question is can they both make their problems go away without killing each other (again!) first?

When I sit down to review, I try to take a look each book from three different perspectives. I think about three general types of readers that might be interested in my reviews.
1. Someone like me - This is a reader who obviously likes young adult literature, but prefers things oriented to older teens or that are not contemporary (since fantasy I think crosses the age barrier the easiest).
2. Someone like my friend Estelle or my husband - They are both very intellectual readers and while they appreciate some YA literature, they are both a lot more particular than I am about what they’ll read. For example, Estelle has a lot of trouble with the “whiny teen” voice.
3. My younger sisters - They aren’t big readers. They both like books that grab your attention quickly and don’t let go. They don’t have the patience for books that lack that addictive quality.

Where do I put “Queen of the Dead”? Well, I don’t think Estelle would read it, but I could totally see my sisters and I discussing it over a cup of coffee at Starbucks (or what I call a sugar with a tiny bit of coffee.. hah). It’s a fun, light read with an addictive quality that I think would really appeal to its teen audience. It’s also a fun read for a young adult fiction fanatic, like myself, who wants something light in between intense fantasy or romance books.

“The Ghost and the Goth” and “Queen of the Dead” may not be everyone’s cup of tea, but they’re fun reads that can be enjoyed by teens and adults alike. It’s the perfect read for a summer outing to the beach. This series has a more contemporary feel to me than other paranormal romances, making it appealing to readers who usually shy away from fantasy/paranormal romance. The witty repartee between Will and Alona is really cute and sassy. Alona isn’t the most likable character in the world, but you come to care for her as she learns how to be a nice person (or deal with the consequences, but I won’t spoil it!). Will is just a troubled teen who walks this fine line in his life. He knows he isn’t crazy, but he also can’t exactly blame people for not believing him either. He really can’t be himself with anyone, until Alona comes along. He has a refreshing vulnerability and isn’t the stereotype he appears to be at first. He really develops, especially in “Queen of the Dead” into this sweet guy who just wants to not be alone in the world anymore. So for a fun, sassy quick read, check out this series. I’m excited to find out what happens to our duo in the next one!

I was provided with an ARC of “Queen of the Dead” by the publisher. It is published by Hyperion and was released on this past Tuesday (May 31).

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

OMG! A giveaway!

Okay folks. I finally decided to join in on the fun. I can't resist.. I LOVE buying books for people and sending packages. So why not start doing a monthly book giveaway on my blog? :D

Here's how this is going to work. At the start of each month, I'll put up a Google entry form for you to fill out. You can earn 4 entry points - 1 for just signing up, 1 for tweeting or putting it up on Facebook and 2 points for being a follower of my blog. It's that

For tweeting, the phrase to tweet is "I'm tweeting to win a book of my choice over at! I hope I win ___" and put whatever book you'd like to win. :)

The winner gets to choose what book they'd like me to send! The only restriction is that it has to have been released the previous month. Soo.. for this month, you can choose any of the books I reviewed that were released in May. Here's the list!

I'll announce the winner in two weeks.. so June 15th. :D I can't wait!

EDIT: This contest is closed.

Richard Scarry’s CARS and TRUCKS from A to Z

E’s Pick of the Week is “Richard Scarry’s CARS and TRUCKS from A to Z”. It’s a little book, but what it lacks in size, it makes up in car fortitude (whatever that means). We picked up this little board book just last Friday on our weekly walk to a local bookstore. E has been crazy lately for the alphabet. He is obsessed with identifying letters and trying to write them! So, I perused the Alphabet section of the toddler books to see what I can find. This book was perfect. It’s easily portable (perfect for stroller reading!), features cars and trucks (another one of E’s obsessions), and has both the capital & small letters on every page. E is in love. I may actually have to make a trip to the store again today and get a few more copies because I have a feeling this one is going to be loved so much that it will fall apart. (The true test of being a good toddler board book.. if it is truly loved, you will need to purchase more than one copy.) The illustrations are adorable (love Richard Scarry) and the different kind of cars he has invented are a lot of fun.

If your little one loves cars or the alphabet, this is a great little educational book to add to your collection.

“Richard Scarry’s CARS and TRUCKS From A to Z” is available in “Chunky Shape” board book form from Random House. You can find it at your local bookstore or online.
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