Tuesday, January 31, 2012

In the Garden (Green Start book)

I am really into gardening, despite my many failed attempts since moving to California almost seven years ago. (I miss rain! I am terrible about watering.) So, when we moved into a place with a patio, I got straight to work. Last year, we grew (or attempted to grow) blueberries, peas, chard, lettuce, herbs, carrots, and tomatoes. The tomatoes and blueberries were the only success, but it was a great learning process. The best part was seeing E out playing in the garden. He is a really great helper! So it's no wonder that he loves this little board book (made from 98% recycled materials) about gardening. He's a pro!

This book is a great way to introduce your kids to new fruits and vegetables and where they come fun. It's short, fun and a great book to start a discussion about food and the importance of eating fruits & veggies.

"In the Garden" is published by IKids and is available in earth-friendly board book form.

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Everneath by Brodi Ashton

Despite the buzz, I held off reading “Everneath” by Brodi Ashton because I’ve been a little burnt out lately. Don’t get me wrong, I *love* reading. However, I have picked up so many books in the last few months that I had been looking forward to that I ended up not being able to finish. It breaks my heart to put a book down only partially read. I know it is irrational and I shouldn’t waste my time reading things I don’t like, but I..feel...SO...guilty. But hey, I’ll get over it. Let’s move on to the topic at hand - Brodi Ashton’s debut novel “Everneath”.

“Everneath” is new story inspired by Underworld myths such as Persphone and Eurydice. Such an awkward way to put it, but it always seems that with these myth-inspired stories that there are reviewers who get all up in arms about it not being precise to its source material. I totally do not understand this. Anyways, I digress. At the beginning of the book, we meet Nikki Beckett (or Becks, which confused me for a bit. I missed reading her last name and thought for awhile there were two heroines. Whoopsy!). Nikki has just returned to our present day after spending a century in the Underworld, being fed upon by an Everliving, an immortal who feeds on human emotion. Though for Nikki an entire century has passed, back home only six months has gone by. They have been six long months for her loved ones. No one knows where she’s been, including her boyfriend, Jack, whose smiling face was the thought that saved her from shriveling up and becoming a shell of her former self in the Everneath. She’s returned to earth to reconnect to him, her father and to say goodbye because the Everneath will not let her go forever.

I really enjoyed this book. The one thing that really stood out to me about this one is how real the characters are. If you’re a regular reader of my blog, you know how much I love this. I think it really shows true writing prowess and grace when you can seamlessly weave in real people within unusual circumstances. Ms. Ashton does this in such a powerful way. Her characters really stuck with me and I was proud of the choices Nikki made as she reclaimed her life and atoned for the pain she had caused others. Nikki was definitely flawed and was still very much a teen girl, but she also showed that she could learn from her mistakes. I’m not doing them justice, but I’ll just state again - so real. They are probably the most genuine real people characters I have ever encountered in an unnatural world.

This book took me a little while to get hooked, due the start being about Nikki’s quest to say her goodbyes and make amends before the Underworld reclaims her. Once you get to know Nikki and Jack, you won’t be able to put it down. I realize that my review totally leaves out Cole, the “Cole, the smoldering immortal who first enticed her to the Everneath, has followed Nikki to the mortal world. And he'll do whatever it takes to bring her back- this time as his queen.” (from Goodreads.com summary) To be honest, that description kind of blows him out of proportion. He does exist. He is handsome and charming... but the love triangle? It is pretty weak. Again though - so very realistic. I have NO problem with this. I just want to warn those of you who are Love Triangle-aholics... Lotriaholics? Trilovers? Triangerosophiles? Anyways, you know, those of you who love that, it’s not a big factor in this book. I adore them too, but they’re not necessary for every single romantic paranormal out there and I’m glad it doesn’t play that huge a part here.

This book is a solid, well-written and entertaining read from beginning to finish. I could not put it down! If you’re a bit burnt out on paranormals, I think this would be a perfect book for you to get picked up and get hooked all over again. And if you’re not burnt out on myth-inspired YA? Well then what are you waiting for!? Go read “Everneath” by Brodi Ashton today.

“Everneath” is published by Balzer + Bray (HarperCollins) and was released just last week. I received an ARC for review. This is Brodi Ashton's first novel.

Friday, January 27, 2012

Breathless Reads Tour including a stop at an awesome SoCal conference!

Guys, I am beyond excited and can not contain myself. Have you checked out the tour dates for the Breathless Reads tour yet? They are making stop all over the country! Here's their schedule. See if there is an event near you!

  • February 15th Anderson’s Bookshop Naperville, IL
  • February 16th Politics and Prose Bethesda, MD
  • February 17th Books of Wonder New York, NY
  • February 18th Towne Center Book and CafĂ© Collegeville, PA
  • February 19th The Doylestown Bookshop Doylestown, PA
  • February 21st Little Shop of Stories Decatur, GA
  • February 22nd Blue Willow Bookshop Houston, TX
  • February 23rd Barnes & Noble Frisco Frisco, TX
  • February 24th Once Upon A Time Montrose, CA
  • February 25th Passion and Prose Conference Long Beach, CA
Two stops in SoCal?! Lucky us! And oh my gosh, while I'm at it, can I just blabber on for a moment about the "Passion & Prose" Conference? Authors are ROCKSTARS! will be doing a "Road Trip" podcast from the event. We are so excited! It's a conference in its infancy, but we hope to see it become a SoCal book lovers staple! They have so many awesome guests including being part of the Breathless Reads tour. You should go to their website and check it out. It's a bit pricey, but I think it's going to be worth it. It's a whole day event including breakfast and lunch! Meg Cabot is even going to be there! SQUEE! Did I mention I was excited? :P

Not in SoCal but want to go? Heck, I think you should. My sister is flying out from Wisconsin to attend! It's gorgeous here right now. You can escape winter weather, meet awesome authors and then do some SoCal tourist stuff like visiting Hollywood, going on a studio tour (I recommend Warner Bros. Their studio tour rock!), etc. Yes, I know. I'm an evil enabler. If you do end up making a trip out here, be sure to stop by and say hi to us at the conference!

Okay enough blabbering on from me for now. Don't forget - we'll be interviewing author Beth Revis next week (February 3rd). Have a question you're just dying to ask her? Just leave a comment here or over on the podcast page. We'll have a post going up later today!

Happy Friday everyone!

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Knuffle Bunny Too by Mo Willems

Better late than never! E's Pick of the Week this week is from the awesome Knuffle Bunny series, by Mo Willems. To be honest, he's been obsessed with both the first book and the second one for quite sometime. We are reading them 2 times a day at least and he sleeps with his very own Knuffle Bunny. I wrote about his love of the first book (and shared a picture of E) awhile back. I won't blab on and on, because really the same praise applies to this book. In "Knuffle Bunny Too", Trixie goes to Pre-K and brings her Knuffle Bunny for show and tell. Unfortunately, another girl has a knuffle bunny too! (Although, she says "nuffle" instead of "kuh-nuffle". Bah!) They argue over who has the best bunny and in the end, the teacher takes the toys away. When the toys are returned at the end of the day, they end up going to the wrong owners and this error isn't corrected until the middle of the night. It's not all bad though. In the end, Trixie makes a wonderful friend and so does her Knuffle Bunny.

As always, Mr. Willems illustrations are amazing. I adore the mixed mediums and love his drawing style.

"Knuffle Bunny" and "Knuffle Bunny Too" are published by Hyperion and are available in hardcover and paperback.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Shameless Self Promotion Post - Come listen to the Leviathan Chronicles!

Hi folks. I'm a bit behind on my reading this week due to be insanely busy with voice over work. I apologize. In the mean time, I have some shameless self promotion to do. Are you a sci fi fan? How about a fan of audio drama? Or maybe you're just bored at the gym or during your commute? Well I have just the thing for you - "The Leviathan Chronicles".

This is a professionally produced audio drama which is available almost entirely for free online. On occassion, they release special episodes that you pay for such as the two that I am in - "The Rogue Plague" and "The Ward". I play a random British farm woman in "The Rogue Plague" and Lisette... the ward in "The Ward". I was blown away when I listened to the episodes recently and I'm not just saying that due to my dazzling performance. (Mwahaha...I am totally kidding. Accents are actually something that frighten me and I use them for both of my characters.) Seriously though, they're really good and the producer is incredibly dedicated to only producing the best content. It's original, interesting, and high quality content. I highly recommend checking it out.

You can download the episodes via LeviathanChronicles.com. You can even add "Leviathan Chronicles" on to your Goodreads.com shelves. Please go listen and let me know what you think. I'd love to hear your thoughts.

Thank you. This has been another episode of Michelle's Shameless Self Promotion. Now back to your regularly scheduled programming. ;oP

Sunday, January 22, 2012

In My Mailbox - January 22nd, 2012

Photo from UglyMailbox.com (fun site!)

This week, I'm going to tell you about what I got my mailbox in a series of photos. I'm feeling exceptionally goofy this week. Are you ready for this? Here goes.

Here is a list of the books featured today.
In My Mailbox is a weekly meme created by The Story Siren. Thanks Kristi!

Friday, January 20, 2012

Vlog Review: A Million Suns by Beth Revis

So, vlogging when the toddler is not napping is super fun. Most of the time he was eating, but then he got noisy. Then the animals got noisy. I cut it all out, but it makes for a bit of a choppy ride. Plus, I had to finish up after he was down so you'll notice lighting/scenery changes. LOL. Now I know...never attempt vlogging when the toddler is awake. :)

I didn't think it was possible to like "A Million Suns" more than I liked "Across the Universe", but I did. Listen to me blab on and on in this very silly (per usual) vlog review.

"Across the Universe" and "A Million Suns" are published by Razorbill (Penguin). I was provided with a copy to review by the publisher. Ms. Revis will be joining us on the podcast in the month of February, so if you have any questions for her, now is the time to ask. We'll try to include as many listener questions as possible on the podcast.

EDIT: We are giving away one pass to the Passion & Prose conference which Ms. Revis will be attending. Check it out.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Old Bear by Kevin Henkes

Man, this is is my third "E's Pick of the Week" featuring a book by Kevin Henkes. If you haven't picked up on it yet, this man is brilliant and you should go out and buy all of his books right now. E is currently obsessed with this one. It's a lovely little story about a bear who goes to sleep for the winter and has dreams of all the seasons passing by. As always, it features Kevin's magical illustrations that full of so much color and life. You can't go wrong with any Kevin Henkes book. They're perfect for children of all ages, even trouble makin' little two year olds who can barely sit still.

His charming illustrations and stories enchant parents too. I seriously want to get prints of Mr. Henkes work to decorate my house with! :)

"Old Bear" by Kevin Henkes is published by Greenwillow Books (HarperCollins) and is available in board book and hardcover formats.

Monday, January 16, 2012

Under the Never Sky by Veronica Rossi

Ahhh... finally, I got to read this book. I’ve had the ARC for awhile, but I was waiting until January 1st to start reading it so it would qualify for the 2012 Debut Author Challenge. I knew I was going to love it and boy, was I right.

“Under the Never Sky” is a dystopian with a very sci fi feel or is it a sci fi with dystopian scenery? Heck if I know, but whatever it is - it rocks. In this world, the Earth is falling apart and the land is being ravaged by these “aether storms” that tear apart the landscape and make it difficult to survive. Apparently, generations ago, a part of the population decided to leave the struggle and live in a giant dome structure that would protect them from the storms. To keep from going stir crazy in a confined, bland space, they use a virtual reality technology that keeps them hooked up together and able to go and do anything they want. Aria, our leading lady, finds out the hard way that this way of life can have complications though. When her mom goes missing, she knows she has to do whatever it takes to find her. Unfortunately, she messes with the wrong people and finds herself fighting for her survival in a world she’s only heard horror stories about and with a man, a wild man, who isn’t at all like she expected.

I really enjoyed this one... I don’t dish out 5 stars lightly on Goodreads.com, but I was tempted. This book meshes a lot of my favorite things - sci-fi, action, romance (and good ol’ slow building romance, not INSTA-LOVE), self-discovery, strong female character (who wasn’t INSTASTRONG either), dystopian setting (I love it when the stakes are ridiculously high!), etc. It’s sci fi though for people who wouldn’t necessarily love sci fi. I am trying desperately not to spoil you here, but there are different environments at play and not all of them are virtual, okay?

I know some other reviewers didn’t enjoy the romance aspect because it didn’t make them tingle, but I liked that. Not that I don’t like a good tingly romance, but sometimes, romance grounded in reality is a lot more enjoyable. Romance isn’t all anguish or passion with tingly, fiery intensity. (I am so into the word tingly today.) For a sci fi dystopian who’sawhat’sit, this book is so grounded in reality. I love that. Way to go, Ms. Rossi for making this book feel so real. It is so nice to feel instantly connected to characters and really feel for them when they’re going through this “out of this world” experience. To me, that’s a sign of an amazing writer.

Congratulations Ms. Rossi on your awesome debut. I cannot wait to see what you have for us in book 2!

I received a digital ARC from the publisher for review. This book was the first of many debuts I'll be reading this year as part of the Debut Author Challenge hosted by "The Story Siren". This book is published by HarperCollins and hit shelves this month. Pick up your copy today!

Sunday, January 15, 2012

In My Mailbox - January 15th, 2012

Photo Courtesy of UglyMailbox.com

Oo! This week was a fun one. Finally, my mail box was hoppin' with books. The holidays were so quiet that going to the mail box was a bit of a bummer. Glad to be back on track!

ARCs or finished copies from the publisher:
- "Girl Meets Boy" anthology
- "Unraveling" by Elizabeth Norris (a debut author who will be on the Authors are ROCKSTARS!)
- "A Million Suns" by Beth Revis (who will be on the podcast next month!)

- "Goddess Interrupted" by Aimee Carter (see my review of "The Goddess Test")
- "Scarlet" by A.C. Gaughen (okay this came in last week, but I didn't do an IMM.)

I also purchased the following books as gifts, because I'm an awesome sister:
- "Unearthly" by Cynthia Hand (see my review)
- "Entwined" by Heather Dixon (see my review)

It's been a busy week. Books and voice over jobs rolling in. Oh! Interviewing Andrea Cremer. How could I forget that? Whoo! In case you're not a follower of the Authors are ROCKSTARS! podcast, I recommend you head over there right now. This year is going to be amazing. So far, we have already interview Tahereh Mafi and Andrea Cremer (will be up this week). We also already have a bunch of amazing debut authors that will be coming on the program, plus Beth Revis, Lauren McLaughlin, Gene Yang, Anna Carey, Josephine Angelini, Maureen Johnson, Gretchen McNeil, and moooooore. Amazing line up, right? I told you so! Go follow us over on our blog page or subscribe on iTunes.

Anyways, that's enough blabbering from me. I'll be back tomorrow with the usual...another goofy review. ;o)

In My Mailbox was created by The Story Siren. Thanks Kristi!

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Unearthly and Hallowed by Cynthia Hand

Wow, I seriously was surprised by how good this series is so far! I mean, you guys kept on telling me how much I’d love it, but to be honest, I was a bit apprehensive. I have high standards for my angel fiction. Plus that pretty cover? Gosh, I fell in love with that cover the moment I saw it. Well, I’m happy to report that the hype, the few of you who nagged me... you were all right. I *loved* “Unearthly” and its sequel, “Hallowed”. I cannot wait until the 3rd book comes out next year!

In Ms. Hand’s version of our universe, angels bred with human beings and another species was formed - angel bloods. Each descendant, each “angel blood” is given a purpose from the big guy, told to them in visions or dreams. At the top of book one, our heroine, Clara, begins having a series of visions, laying out her purpose. Once her mother help her figure out where she needs to be, she and her brother are whisked away from California to Jackson, Wyoming. New school, cute boys, and a purpose from God - talk about an interesting life as a teenager.

The feel of the story was a bit stereotypical at first, but as “Unearthly” developed, I fell in love with the characters and couldn’t wait to read more. I ended up reading these two books in a matter of days and it was worth the lack of sleep! “Unearthly” was charming, fun and intriguing, but it wasn’t until “http://amzn.to/w1u8Y1” that I can truly say that this series had me hook, line, and sinker. Ms. Hand really found her flow in the 2nd book and it showed. It was much more polished and the storyline was incredibly heartbreaking and full of so many levels. Have a tissue box nearby folks. This one hit a little close to home for me and I spent the next 30 minutes sobbing into my pillow so I wouldn’t wake my husband. I know that sounds like a bad thing, but it isn’t. I connected so deeply to these characters that I just couldn’t help myself.

Unearthly” and “Hallowed” are published by HarperTeen. “Hallowed” will hit shelves on January 24th. In the mean time, “Unearthly” is on sale for only 99 cents for all eReaders! Get it while it’s hot, people.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

The Pout Pout Fish by Deborah Diesen, Illustrated by Dan Hanna

As I've mentioned in previous "E's Pick of the Week" entries, E is crazy for fish and sea creatures. So it's not a surprise that his pick this week is "The Pout Pout Fish" by Deborah Diesen, Illustrated by Dan Hanna. This book is adorable. I actually purchased this book and another one in the series in an auction hosted by Carrie Harris. . This book is absolutely adorable. It has a really fun rhythm that my toddler just loves and the illustrations are *adorkable*. Yes, aDORKable. E and I love all of Pout Pout Fish's friends. As a voice actor, there is so much fun material here to be silly with. It is an absolute joy to read to E.

I'll be giving away a pair of autographed bookmarks from Ms. Diesen to one random commenter. Tell me what you like about this book, E's Picks of the Week, or pouting. Maybe you have a little one with a pout pout face. I'm dying to know. :) I'll announce the winner next week with E's Pick.

"The Pout Pout Fish" is published by Farrar, Straus and Giroux. It is available in hardcover form.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Avatar the Last Airbender - The Promise, Part 1

Guys, I am so excited. Allison and I get to interview Gene Yang, who recently penned the text for the new Avatar: The Last Airbender graphic novel. For my fellow Avatar lovers out there, this is phenomenal. Go pre-order it now. The action starts *right* where the end of the show left us. Mr. Yang’s writing is so awesome. The illustrations are fun and very show accurate as well. I cannot rave enough. It really stays true to the life and humor of the series. I didn’t think Sokka could be confined to print, but Mr. Yang made it possible. You get to find out what happens after Aang & Katara’s kiss! What happens with Zuko’s mom! AND SO MUCH MORE.

OH MY GOSH SERIOUSLY DO YOU NEED MORE CONVINCING? *channels her inner bender and splashes ice cold water on you.*

GO NOW. GOOO. Pre-order it. Also, if you have any questions you’d like to ask Mr. Yang, who is also the author & illustrator of “American Born Chinese”, a 2006 National Book Award Finalist for Young People's Literature, the winner of the 2007 Eisner Award for Best Graphic Album: New, an Eisner Award nominee for Best Coloring and a 2007 Bank Street - Best Children's Book of the Year, among other graphic novels... please, leave a comment here and I’ll do my best to make sure we ask him during our podcast interview.

I received a digital ARC from the publisher, Dark Horse Comics, for review. It will be hitting shelves on January 25th. We will be interviewing Mr. Yang on the 20th, so leave your questions in a comment on this entry by then!

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Busy, Busy Town by Richard Scarry

E's Pick of the Week is a classic. I've featured Richard Scarry book on here before, but I can't help it! His books are adorable and E loves them. He's also obsessed with the TV show (thank you Netflix!) which he gets to watch as a treat a few times a week.

This book is great. It is LONG, but because it is about divided up into individual sections of the town, you only need to read a page or two at a time. It's all about the pictures, not the plot (there is none, it is just explaining Busy Town and the things in it). E loves it and it makes for a GREAT "potty time" book because of its length and ability to be put down at a moment's notice. And of course, like always, Richard Scarry's artwork is incredible adorable.

Richard Scarry's Busy, Busy Town is published by Golden Books and is available in hardcover.

Monday, January 2, 2012

Bloodrose by Andrea Cremer (Nightshade Series)

Before I get into the juiciness of Andrea Cremer's series finale, "Bloodrose", first let me say - HAPPY NEW YEAR, folks. I think it's going to be a fantastic year. We have so many awesome interviews lined up for Authors are ROCKSTARS!, including one with Ms. Cremer. I'll also be participating in the Debut Author Challenge from The Story Siren and I set my Goodreads.com Reading Challenge goal to 100 books. I am determined to make this an awesome year for YA in my life. How about you? Anything exciting planned book wise?

Well I know that Dana B. and Angela who won my epic blogiversary giveaway are going to have an awesome start to the new year. Thank you so much to all that entered. Over 280 tickets involved! You guys ROCK. I'll get back to my monthly giveaways in February, so stay subscribed. I love giving away signed books. Also, be sure to head on over to the podcast. We do signed book and swag giveaways over there as well. :)

Now without further ado... my "Bloodrose" review!

Wow. I finished this book breathing a little heavy with tears in my eyes. After those evil cliffhangers in "Nightshade" and "Wolfsbane", you knew that Ms. Cremer was going to pack a punch with "Bloodrose". What a punch it was too! Seriously. My face still hurts. ;)

Without getting too spoilery, this book will make you so proud of Calla. She comes into her own as alpha and learns how to truly follow her heart. She finds her freedom as a wolf, as a person and as a woman in love. Have tissues ready, folks. The road isn't easy and is full of heart break and angst. I mean come on, that's essential to the recipe of a top notch action packed paranormal YA book, right? It'd be like making chicken noodle soup without the chicken.

Anyways, I personally loved the ending of this series and am excited to see what delicious works of art Ms. Cremer cooks up for us next.

If you have questions for Ms. Cremer, please leave a comment here and I'll include them in our list for her podcast interview on January 11th.

I was provided with an ARC of "Bloodrose" from the publisher, Philomel (Penguin). It is scheduled to be released tomorrow, January 3rd. Set your alarms so you can be at the bookstore at open to get this fabulous series finale.
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...