Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Guest at KitsuneKon

Hey folks! I'll be quiet this week. I'm headed out to Wisconsin to be a guest at KitsuneKon! I hope to see you all there.

Reviews will be back on schedule next week. Thanks for your patience!

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Green Eggs and Ham by Dr. Seuss


I feel pretty silly writing a little "review" about Dr. Seuss' "Green Eggs and Ham", but the "E's Pick of the Week" is all about what E is reading and this week he is Seuss crazy. We are reading "Green Eggs and Ham" a few times a day. I am starting to hear Seuss rhymes in my head instead of music. Ahhhh! :D

Seriously though, I love that E is so book crazy. He went to the library this weekend for the first time in a loooong time and he went crazy. THE LIBRARY THE LIBRARY MOOOOM! :D I'm curious.. to the moms out there reading, do you just go in, grab some books and leave or do you stay and read a book at the library? They had a cute little reading area.

Sorry for such a light "E's Pick of the Week", but I'll be back next week with more from my little two and a half year old reader.

Friday, March 23, 2012

Audiobook Review: Wither by Lauren DeStefano


So, I’m discovering that I really enjoy listening to dystopians in the car. I think having these books performed by talented narrators makes for a much more fulfilling experience. It makes them less of a downer, maybe? Not sure, but whatever it is - “Wither” was another wonderful addition to my VW Dystopian car adventures!

Wither” takes place in a dystopian version of our world in which society had conquered disease and created a generation of super healthy human beings, only to find out when procreation began that they had created a virus that effected the children of these disease-free people (called the “first generation”). The children sometimes never made it past the age of 25 for males and 20 for females. This mistake has created generations of desperate orphans and a society that is in ruin with two opposing views fighting against each other (those who believe the human race can be saved and those who believe that it is time to let the human race die out). Rhine and her brother were orphaned not that long ago and lead a tough life just trying to survive. When Rhine is kidnapped, she is forced into the lifestyle of a “bride” to a wealthy young man and she’s not the only one. The wealthy have come to collecting beautiful young girls and having polygamous marriages in order to continue the family line. Her husband is kind and falls head of heels in love with her, but he lives a life full of lives and illusions provided by his father, a doctor who is desperately trying to find an antidote to this genetic bomb. So desperate, Rhine is unsure if she is there to be his son’s companion or his next science experiment and whether anyone is truly safe under his watch.

To be honest, this book is a lot of character development and strategic plotting on behalf of Rhine. Majority of the plot deals with her wanting to escape, but being held back by her emotional connections to her sister wives and husband, the heavy security of the estate, etc. It is definitely one of those first novels that, while enjoyable, lacks the fulfilling feeling of a beginning, middle and end. That being said, having this book delivered to me via audiobook made that much easier to stomach and I have already started listening to book 2. I’m really interested to see what happens to Rhine and find out more about the world in which all of these characters live. I want to know what happened besides this gigantic genetic mistake that made the United States the only country still inhabited (or if that is even the truth!). I also am dying to know what is happening in the romance department. The love triangle to this story was really interesting and well done. It felt honest and true to the story. Angela Lin did a wonderful job narrating this story. At times, she sounded a little old, but Rhine is 16 in a world where girls die at 20 so I think that makes her delivery totally acceptable.

Overall verdict - this is another enjoyable addition to the dystopian YA phenomena. I’ve already started book two and cannot wait to hear what happens next!

And stay tuned to Authors are ROCKSTARS! We are posting a series of interviews and event coverage from the Passion & Prose conference & Breathless Reads book tour. We've also been busy gathering prizes for anniversary giveaway NEXT MONTH. Soooo many autographed books. You will NOT want to miss it.

Wither” is published by Simon & Schuster. The audiobook was produced by Recorded Books. The second book “Fever” is also available now! I purchased these books via Audible.com.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Audiobook Review: The Fault in Our Stars by John Green, Narrated by Kate Rudd


I am nervous to share my review of this book with you guys because I know how beloved this author is. However, I did not like this book. I didn’t realize this until I was about 60% of the way through listening to the audiobook, but once it hit me...I had a hard time finishing. I did though, mostly due to the fabulous narrating of Kate Rudd who delivered this book with such charm & life that I couldn’t stop listening, if only to hear more of her acting.

WARNING: There are some spoilers here. Tried to keep it as vague as possible, but thought it’d be fair to warn you!

So, if you’re unfamiliar with the plot (maybe I am not the only one who had never read a John Green novel), this book is about two kids who have cancer that fall in love. The love story is sweet and tragic and beautiful, but while Mr. Green’s writing is witty... I really could not distinguish two clear cut characters. Hazel and Gus blurred into ..HaGus, which is nothing like the Scottish dish. The “HaGus” is a witty, intelligent teenager that you wish you knew. It’s Juno, only better and afflicted with cancer. I did love some of the dialogue, but as I said, the characters are so similar that it blurred and lot some of its wit. Had it not been for Ms. Rudd’s distinct voices for the two different characters, I don’t think I would have gotten much enjoyment out of following their love story. Sure, in the end, there was one major difference between them which is kind of what the whole point of the book is...so I won’t spoil it, but in the end, I felt cheated. This book reminded me of “Easy A”. So many people will love it and so many others will feel like they have to say they love it, fearing retribution from fans or worried that they were just too dumb to understand its appeal. I feel the same way about that movie that I do about this book - it was trying too hard. It felt forced.

Another thing that drove me crazy was that I felt like my emotions were constantly being manipulated to feel a certain way instead of naturally feeling that way out of caring for the characters. In the end, I realized that I never really cared about the characters. I was more upset because I was thinking of my loss due to cancer (my mother) and the things I went through. I also felt so much more for their parents and was constantly relating it to how I’d feel if my son got sick.

Oh and the whole plot device of Peter Van Houten, or whatever? So....LAME. It just fell flat for me and when he shows up at the funeral? I couldn’t help myself. I groaned aloud and rolled my eyes (which was dangerous since I was driving!).

This book wasn’t for me. It seems like I’m one of only a handful of folks though who didn’t like it. John Green is an incredibly popular writer and if you just can’t get enough of that fast paced wit, you should check it out.

I listened to “A Fault in Our Stars” on audiobook. It is published by Dutton Juvenile (Penguin) and the audiobook is produced by Brilliance Audio. I purchased my copy on audible.com.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Cloudette by Tom Lichtenheld

This book is adorable! We went on a family outing to one of our local bookstores this past weekend and picked this one up. I just want to pinch Cloudette's little cloud cheeks. She's so cute and E just adores her story. She's just a little cloud who appreciates being little, but also wants to do something big and important like the big clouds. One day, she's blown far away from home by a big storm (though I'm not sure why this cloud didn't warn her. Deus ex machina!). It's in her new neighborhood that she discovers that even little clouds can do big important things.

There is some hokey dialogue that is completely there for the adults and as I said, a big ol' deus ex machina, but overall - a super cute little book that young ones will love. I'd recommend it for preschoolers (or in my son's case, nearly preschoolers). It's the perfect length for little ones who are just starting to get the patience to sit for more than 2 minutes and listen to longer stories.

"Cloudette" by Tom Lichtenheld was just published this month by Henry Holt & Co. It is available in hardcover.

Friday, March 16, 2012

Madame Tussaud by Michelle Moran

“Madame Tussaud” by Michelle Moran was a wonderful piece of historical fiction, but incredibly overwhelming. I felt like I had to take notes throughout reading just so I wouldn’t get lost (which in turn, made me start singing “I Wish I Could Go Back to College” from the musical “Avenue Q”). I know that sounds like a bad thing, but if you love historical fiction, this is a must read. I finished it and I have the patience of a six year old most days.

Okay, so, my review. Well, you guys know I’m not known here for in-depth analysis. I’ll leave that to the reviewers who specialize in historical fiction. I’m a quirky, YA lovin’ gal and I hope my reviews reflect that. So for fun, I’m going to do something a little different today. I’m going to share with you my thoughts while reading and upon completion. These are the notes I jotted down, right before turning off the light at night.

Thoughts while reading “Madame Tussaud”:
  • Wow, I really feel like I’m a part of the French revolution. I’m not sure I’ll be able to sleep tonight!
  • Um... who? what? I am so confused. /rushes back to character index
  • Mm. I want to be a princess. Princesse √Člisabeth’s house sounds so picturesque. /happy sigh
  • I am so confused right now. I think I’m starting to remember plot lines from “The Scarlet Pimpernel” musical as part of this book. Whoooopsy. Doesn’t Robespierre have a lover?
  • MARRY HIM ALREADY!! There is a war on, you crazy lady.
  • This girl is a ruthless business woman. I’d love to see her duke it out with the fat cats on Wall Street. (yes....fat cats)
Upon finishing:
  • Huh? Did I miss something? Hrm. Interesting time transition.
  • I definitely can see why the publishers think that YA fans may enjoy this. I wasn’t aware of Marie’s existence so it was interesting to be introduced to her through this part of her young adult life.
Honestly, the last portion of the book I could have totally done without. I’m not sure where a better ending would have been, but it just threw me for a loop and made my overall enjoyment greatly decrease. That’s just me though and as you guys know, I’m weird. ;)

So, yeah, it’s overwhelming, intense, but if you like historical fiction, you should definitely check it out. Marie is an incredibly ambitious girl who blossomed into a young, determined woman during an incredibly tumultuous time in her country’s history.

I received a paperback copy of this book from the publisher (Random House). “Madame Tussaud” is on shelves now, so go and grab yours today.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

A Ball for Daisy by Chris Raschka

I picked up this book based on my podcast co-host Allison's blog entry. Boy am I glad that I did! E loves this beautiful little book. I was a bit worried about purchasing a book with no words since E has become obsessed with words and letters. However, this simple story is so beautifully told that even I find myself enraptured every time I look at the beautiful watercolor illustrations.

Allison wrote an amazing review for this, so I'm not going to attempt to try to write something too detailed here. (Seriously, go read her review. She writes amazing, informative reviews.) This book will touch your heart.

"A Ball for Daisy" is published by Schwartz & Wade (Random House) and is available in hardcover. It won the 2012 Caldecott Medal.

Monday, March 12, 2012

Allegiance by Cayla Kluver


I’ve been a bit disappointed in books lately. There were a few that I picked up between “Goddess Interrupted” and “Allegiance” that I just couldn’t get through. For me, after disappointment, I have a hard time getting my reading mojo back. Luckily, I picked up Cayla Kluver’s “Allegiance”, part two in her “Legacy” trilogy. (Click here to read my review of the first book. You can also hear me interview Cayla on AuthorsareROCKSTARS.com.)

Ms. Kluver has outdone herself with “Allegiance”. I couldn’t stop reading. It was only when my body forced me at 1am to finally go to sleep that I put the book down. Within an hour of waking, I was back to reading. That’s saying a lot. (Fun fact: I am not a morning person.) Anyways, you get the point. It was addictive, well written and incredibly epic. This is classic fantasy (although some people are calling it historical, but um, a) not a real world and b) there is some magic). Ms. Kluver seems to really come into her own in this book and I never got the feeling that she was trying too hard like I did in the first book.

This book is also much more focused on the story as a whole rather than just the story of Alera and her emotional journey as a woman and a princess. There is a large cast of characters and so many of them have their own voices and stories to will draw you in. Her secondary characters aren’t just pawns to drive the plot of Alera, but are fully developed characters with interesting personalities and back-stories that you come to truly care about. My only issue is that I’m not sure where book three is going to go, but I don’t want to go into that. It’s hard enough not revealing spoilers as it is! Read this book already, so I can talk to ya’ll about it, okay?

If you’re a fan of fantasy, this series should be a must read. Even if you aren’t a big fan of romance in your fantasy.. read this series. Trust me, it is so much more than just mushy gushy princesses. And if fantasy romance is your cup of tea (seriously, are you a coffee drinker?), don’t despair. The romance is still incredibly moving and definitely worth a read.

I received an e-galley from the publisher, HarlequinTeen, via Netgalley.com. Both “Legacy” and “Allegiance” are on shelves now. The third book “Sacrifice” is coming soon.

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Jessie Bear, What Will You Wear? by Nancy White Carlstrom, Illustrated by Bruce Degen


This charming rhyming book is E's favorite this week. You go through the entire day with Jessie Bear, discovering what he does through the clothing and items he wears. The soothing rhythm of Nancy White Carlstrom's charming text makes this book a perfect choice to read before sleep which is why I love it. E, however, loves it for the illustrations. He is constantly talking about wanting to play with Jessie Bear's toys. I have to agree - Jessie Bear does have some awesome toys. The illustrations are obviously very engaging and surprisingly consistent. You definitely get a feel for Jessie Bear's life through the illustrations. It's incredibly well done.

"Jessie Bear, What Will You Wear?" is published by Aladdin (Simon & Schuster) and is available in paperback, hardcover and board book form.

Friday, March 2, 2012

Goddess Interrupted by Aimee Carter


I enjoyed the first installment in this series, "The Goddess Test", so it isn’t a surprise that I liked this book. As I said in my review of the first novel, it’s a “cotton candy” series. You’ll devour it - it’s sweet and fun, but not incredibly filling. I’d say book two, "Goddess Interrupted", upgraded from cotton candy to my favorite sweet - dark chocolate truffles. It still is a bit fluffy, but much more complex in flavor. Oh goodness. Just typing this is making me hungry!

We pick up just as Kate’s six month vacation with her friend and admirer James has ended. She’s returning to the underworld to finally be crowned queen and see the man she loves, Henry (the God previous known as Hades, hehe). All hell breaks loose though and we’re taken on adventure where Kate has to confront emotional challenges of epic proportions (like meeting the sister she never knew excited who happens to be the woman stole & crushed Henry’s heart thousands of years ago? Yeeeeah, pretty big deal!). I won’t say anymore because I don’t want to spoil it for you, but the stakes are high and in the midst of it all, Kate has to grow up incredibly fast and learn how to prioritize what’s truly important to her.

It seems that this book is getting really mixed reactions from Ms. Carter’s fans. If you adored the first book, this one may not be your cup of tea. It’s not as fluffy and there is a lot of angst. A *lot*... to the point where you really want to slap Kate up side the head. However, it’s still a fun ride, full of adventure and world saving escapades. The relationship between Kate & Henry really develops towards the end of the novel. Be patient and wait for it. It’s worth it. I think Ms. Carter has written a fine second installment and I personally am dying to read what happens next after the KILLER (OMG OMG OMG!) cliffhanger that she left us with at the end.

“Goddess Interrupted” is published by HarlequinTeen and will be released on March 27th. I received an e-galley via Netgalley.com for review.
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