Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Time for a Hug by Phillis Gershater & Mim Green

Choosing "E's Pick of the Week" today was ridiculously easy. My sister picked this book up for E during her visit to California (she leaves today, sad!) and he hasn't stopped requesting it since. I think everyone in the house has read it to him at least a handful of times and he loves every second of it each time. He squeals with delight when we get to a "time for a hug!" and has started asking "What time is it?" on a daily basis. It's the perfect balance of adorable story, charming illustrations and yes, a wee bit of learning as well. Go through the entire day with the little bunny and learn about what he does at certain times of day. After each section, it's.... you guessed it - TIME FOR A HUG!

You'll fall in love with this beautiful little story right along with your little one. Even if they aren't ready to start learning about time, they'll love the illustrations and all the hugs. It's definitely worth picking up!

"Time for a Hug" is written by the mother/daughter team Phillis Gershator & Mim Green. It is illustrated by David Walker. Sterling Children's Books is the publisher. It was released in January of this year.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Born Wicked by Jessica Spotswood

“Born Wicked” by Jessica Spotswood is one fabulous debut novel. I *adored* it. It was full of delicious intrigue, yummy romances, and tantalizing magic. Obviously, I need to eat, but you better watch out “Born Wicked”. Sometimes, I eat books. Om nom nom. Delicious.

In this alternate version of New England, witches were in power until a few generations ago when a religious order called the Brotherhood massacred them. The survivors hid their magical inheritance from the world in order to avoid persecution. Cate and her sisters have continued that tradition, not even their father knows of their abilities (or that of his deceased wife). After a promise she made to her mother, she has dedicated her life to her sisters’ protection. They don’t always appreciate her hard work, but she is determined not to let her mother down. However, she only has six months left before the Brotherhood forces her into a marriage or a chaste religious life in the Sisterhood. After a mysterious letter and the discovery of her mom’s diary, things go from difficult to near impossible and Cate has to figure out a way to save those she loves the most from persecution and from each other.

This structure of this book is magnificent. If you’re a regular reader, you’ve heard me complain before about books that are all back story, very little plot with commercially designed (instead of story driven) cliffhangers. They drive me insane. It’s lazy writing in my opinion. Well, this book is the perfect example of cliffhanger perfection. It breaks your heart, but doesn’t leave wondering where the rest of the book went. Obviously, the overall story is far from finished, but this first installment wasn’t all back story. There was a lot going on and the action of the book had an ending that left you wanting more, but not feeling cheated. The world is well developed, the characters are real and fun, and the romance so lovely. It has so many elements that I love - witches, sisters (I have two younger sisters too!), mushy gushy romance, and dark & mysterious happenings.

GOLD star to Jessica Spotswood. I am dying to find out what happens next and am still feeling heartbroken for the sacrifice Cate had to make.

I received a copy of this book from the publisher (Penguin) to review. Jessica Spotswood will be joining us on our Road Trip Edition of the Breathless Reads panel at Passion & Prose. Click here for more Breathless Reads tour dates.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Jessica’s Guide to Dating on the Dark Side by Beth Fantaskey

This book was exactly what I needed right now. Something fun, still paranormal, and incredibly addictive. Yes folks, this book is vampire crack and I mean that in the best way possible. I devoured this book like vampires devour human blood (unless they’re lame like Edward Cullen).

Jessica has her whole senior year planned. She’s going to ask out the cute farmer boy she’s been flirting with at the diner all summer, win her horse riding competition, and enjoy the company of her quirky vegan parents. However, on her first day of school, a wrench is thrown into her plans in the form of a sexy foreign exchange student named Lucius Vladescu. Oh, and guess what? He’s a vampire prince and he’s come to claim her, his VAMPIRE PRINCESS, as his bride. He’s dreamy, but can she become the powerful, confident vampire princess he needs her to be? If she can’t, she could cause a worldwide vampire war that will cost thousands of human lives and she might lose the love of her life in the process.

Man, my summary makes it sound cheesy and to be honest, it kind of is, but in a FUN way. It’s silly, a bit campy, but totally fun and romantic. It’s a vampire rom com with dramatic high stakes (wah wah wah, get it? STAKES!). The characters are fun, especially Lucius. He’s incredibly well developed character for your stereotypical handsome, vampire prince. You really get to know him better through the letters he writes home to his uncle. He goes through a lot trying to figure out what to do with this vampire princess who didn’t even know she was a vampire and finds himself along the way. By the end of the book, you’ll be in love with him and routing for Jessica to save him from his dark side.

"Jessica’s Guide to Dating on the Dark Side" by Beth Fantaskey is published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. I purchased my own copy on my Kindle.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Mister Seahorse by Eric Carle

Eric Carle's "Mister Seahorse" has quickly become a favorite and was a no brainer for E's Pick of the Week. It's the story of a father seahorse exploring the ocean and learning about other father fish who are caring for their eggs/babies, just like he is! Along the way, he meets sees other types of fish hiding along his path (using a gimmick of see through plastic pictures which E thinks is SO cool). The book is full of the illustrations you love from Eric Carle in many bright, beautiful colors. We have only owned this book for 48 hours and I have already read it at least 8 times. My husband has also read it a couple times as well. E may be a bit obsessed. ;)

Eric Carle's "Mister Seahorse" is sure to enrapture any young fish lover, such as my little guy. It also makes a wonderful gift for new dads. I always love finding a book about Dads and how much they love their children.

"Mister Seahorse" is published by Philomel (Penguin) and is available in hardcover & board book form. We have the board book! :)

Friday, February 10, 2012

Audiobook Review - Eve by Anna Carey

Okay. I think it’s official. I’m obsessed with dystopians. As much as I get tired of these run down, hard knock universes, I find myself drawn to them more and more. I feel like lately it’s all I read! They are all the rage lately, so that’s part of it. Never are stakes higher than when you’re saving world or yourself, right? They tend to have great action, exciting romance, and a lot of them have interesting twists. They’re thrilling without being a thriller. I love the ride.

So it’ll come as no big surprise then that I really enjoyed Anna Carey’s “Eve.” I’ve been listening to it over the past month or so. (I listen to audiobooks slowly. I love ‘em, but I only listen in the car or at the gym. Obviously, I need to go to the gym more.) Before I dive into the story, let me give a shout to the narrator, Tavia Gilbert, who handled the material fantastically. Since I’m a voice actor myself, you know I’m obsessed with the vocal qualities of the narrator. Tavia did an awesome job. She transitions between characters smoothly, while still having them all be distinct. I especially loved the voices she used for the older couple you encounter later on in the book. Top notch! It’s so wonderful to encounter such a talented narrator on a young adult novel. Way to go, Tavia!

Back to the book, I thoroughly enjoyed this one. I’m going to steal the description because every time I attempt to talk about this book, I end up spoiling something. Gah!

The year is 2032, sixteen years after a deadly virus—and the vaccine intended to protect against it—wiped out most of the earth’s population. The night before eighteen-year-old Eve’s graduation from her all-girls school she discovers what really happens to new graduates, 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 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.

The settings are fantastic. I really felt like I was traveling with Eve throughout the book. I loved the memories to her life back at school. It really helped me connect with Eve and get to know her better. I could ramble on and on, but as I said, I liked it. It’s a solid dystopian and I’m interested to see if some of the questions I have about the world & Eve’s future are answered in book 2.

I purchased the “Eve” audiobook via The audiobook was produced by Harper Audio. You can hear an interview with Anna Carey (along with Amy Garvey, Kiersten White, and Claudia Gray) over at Authors are ROCKSTARS!. She’ll be returning to the podcast in May, so stay tuned for that! :)

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Scarlet by A.C. Gaughen

A.C. Gaughen’s “Scarlet” is a retelling of “Robin Hood” lore. In this version of the tale, Ms. Gaughen takes us to meet Robin’s band of merry men just a couple years after they joined forces. The sheriff is up to no good and of course, Robin and his gang are stealing from the rich and giving to the poor. Ya know, the usual. The difference in this tale is that Will Scarlet or “Scar” to the boys is not exactly a “merry man”. No, he’s not sad. He just happens to be a she. A young woman haunted by her past, who trusts no one, not even Robin. And when the evil thief hunter, Gisbourne, arrives in Nottingham, she is forced to face her past head on.

This was just one of those books that I had been anxiously anticipating that fell flat and ultimately disappointed me. I was a big fan of the BBC’s Robin Hood (before the end of season 2. Ugh!), so I was really looking forward to this retelling. I was hoping for the fun, action packed stories of the legends of Robin Hood. And while there was action always present, it didn’t have that action-y feeling. I don’t now how to describe it. There was just some “umph” missing. It was exciting. I devoured it, but when I was done, I instantly thought “That was it?” The plot line just didn’t do it for me. It wasn’t enough. I absolutely loved her character development and the twist of having Will Scarlet be a girl, but the romance, the action, the bad guy (just a bad guy, no personality/back story other than he’s evil)... all left me wanting. It was the skeleton of an amazing story that just didn’t have enough flesh on its bones yet. My goodness, that is a grotesque description, but it’s the only way I can think of putting it!

I don’t want to be a complete “Negative Nancy” here though. I did devour this book and I think that there are many who will absolutely love it. It just fell short for me. One thing I must say though is that the author did an incredibly job developing a strong, flawed female heroine. You really get to know Scarlet and feel for her. It’s because of this wonderful, lush character building that I kept on reading. I really cared what happened to her and even though I didn’t care much for the plot in general, I finished the book and would be curious to find out what happens next.

So, give it a chance. Let me know what you think. :)

I received a digital ARC via This book is published by Walker Books for Young Readers (Bloomsbury). It is scheduled to be released on February 14th.

Saturday, February 4, 2012

In My Mailbox - Saturday February 4th

Photo from

Doing my IMM a day early so I don't forget. Tomorrow is a busy day! My husband obliged me again this week with my silly photo antics. In fact, he actually came up with some of the ideas. Go awesome hubby! So here you go... this is what arrived in my mailbox this week.

Note: Please excuse my icky hair. I'm growing it out.

I can't hear you. I'm too busy listening to these books.
Are they still there? ;)

Mwahahaha. Going to mad scientist school has finally paid off. I will PLANT "Dreamless" by Josephine Angelini and it will grow to become BOOK 3. I AM A GENIUS. (Don't worry, the book didn't get a bit of dirt on it. We're tricksy like that.)

Books Received this week:
- Dreamless by Josephine Angelini (read my review of "Starcrossed")
-Harbinger by Sara Wilson Etienne
- Chained by Lynne Kelley

That's it from me this week. Be sure to visit my review of "Midnight in Austenland" and tell me who your favorite Austen gentleman (or heroine!) you prefer. I'll choose one lucky lady or gent at random to get their own copy of the book. :)

In My Mailbox is a weekly meme created by The Story Siren. Thanks Kristi! I don't participate weekly, but I sure have fun whenever I get the chance.

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Midnight in Austenland by Shannon Hale

My podcast co-host and fellow book blogger, Allison, and I were having such a wonderful discussion about this book last night. She looks at books by her favorite authors as an opportunity to sit down and spend some time with the author you adore. You may not madly adore every book, but it is always fun to spend time with the author on a new adventure. I really like that way of looking at things. It’s such a lovely thought, isn’t it?

I’ll be honest, this is not my favorite Shannon Hale book (I mean, how could anything possibly beat “The Goose Girl”?!), but I had a wonderful time. I loved the first Austenland book (I have re-read it a couple times. The romance is just so cute and you guys know I’m an Austenaholic. Here’s a picture for proof.
(This photo was actually taken in the old BBC offices in North Hollywood. I used to work for them! This is from Halloween 2007.)

Midnight in Austenland” is a fun little mystery full of Regency goodness. In this book, we meet Charlotte. The top of the book is a fast paced, tongue-in-cheek introduction to Charlotte and the life she has lead. She’s a mother of two, quiet, and thought of as “nice”. Just “nice”. Her husband has left her for a woman named Justice and made her life hell. So, she decides to go on a vacation while her kids are spending time with her husband. She ends up getting to go to Pembrooke Park, an exclusive vacation destination where you completely immerse yourself in the Regency time period, including dashing gentlemen to woo you a la Mr. Darcy. Doesn’t that just sound ah-mazing? While she is there, a few mysteries pop up and she finds focus in attempting to solve them, all the while trying to sort the play from reality. Along the way, Charlotte finds a strength within herself she didn’t know she had.

This book is a ton of fun. I adore Ms. Hale’s writing. (You can listen to me geek out getting to interview her on the Authors are ROCKSTARS! podcast.) This book doesn’t have the possible crossover teen appeal that the first one did since our main character is older and a divorcee, but so what? It’s fun and it was the perfect “cheerer upper” I needed. Thanks again, Ms Hale. You rock. For those of you who have read the first one, a few of our favorite characters (and I do mean characters) are back from the first book. For those of you who haven’t, you can jump right in with this one or go get yourself both for some fun, Austen-y goodness.

I also have one copy to giveaway! If you'd like to win a finished copy of this book, just comment on this entry and answer the following - If you could have one Austen gentleman all to yourself, who would it be and why? The winner will be chosen on February 14th! Be sure to include your Twitter ID or e-mail in your comment so I can contact you.

This giveaway is open internationally, but international winners are asked to contribute towards the additional shipping costs. See my contest page for more details.

I was sent a copy of “Midnight in Austenland” to review. It hit bookshelves this week! So go get yourself a copy.
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