Thursday, June 30, 2011

B & K's Reading Daze


I have two girls who love to read as much as I do.  Granted they are 5 and 3, so reading isn't exactly what they do.  I'm so excited that this love of mine seems to be passing on to them.  So B & K's Reading Daze highlights some of the books they have enjoyed over the past month.  


K'S Books:


FairyopolisTitle: Fairyopolis
Author: Cicely Mary Barker

For decades, Cicely Mary Barker added an ethereal dimension to the lives of readers with her exquisite paintings of fairies. This colorful Flower Fairy Journal, which is published here for the first time, introduces new readers to her rare artistry.










K has a couple of these.  She really loves them.  She loves the little things she take out of pockets and look at.  These books are perfect for the girls who love fairies!



B'S Books:


Dolphin's DiscoveryTitle: Dolphin's Discovery
Author: Mark Shulman

Ship ahoy—PIRATE ship that is! Dolphin has spotted an empty one floating on the high seas, and she’s so excited. Thanks to her good pals Whale, Electric Eel, Sawfish, Walrus, and Octopus, Dolphin not only succeeds in exploring the vessel, but finds a treasure! But the greatest gift of all? Her wonderful friends! The read-and-play format is irresistible: there are SIX colorful jigsaws built right in. When completed, children can then take the six jigsaws and connect them in whatever shape and pattern they want. The result is one giant, impressive floor puzzle that’s up to four feet long. Throughout, young readers will also enjoy answering questions about the story and lifting the flaps to see if they’re right. It’s great interactive entertainment!


I'm not sure were my mom found this, but I'm glad she did.  B loves this book! She can sit an do puzzles forever, so this is the perfect combination.  She likes the story and the lift up flaps as well.  Perfect!

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Review: Legacy (Legacy #1) by Cayla Kluver

Legacy (Legacy, #1)Title: Legacy
Author: Cayla Kluver
Series: 1st in Legacy Triology
Pages: 496
Published: Available now from Harlequin Teen
ISBN: 9780373210343
Source: Publisher via Netgalley
 






Description: The first boy disappeared on the day of his birth, on a night when the pale yellow moon of the nighttime sky turned red and bathed the heavens in the ghastly color of blood, on the same night the Kingdom of Cokyri abruptly ceased its merciless attack. Across the land of Hytanica, under the shadow of the crimson moon, infant boys continued to vanish. Not until the blood had faded from the sky did the disappearances stop and the bodies of the murdered infants were found outside the gates of the city, a final word from the greatest enemy Hytanica had ever known. For the next sixteen years, peace reigned, but one mystery remained unsolved. The Cokyrians had abducted forty-nine newborns, but returned only forty-eight bodies. Now, as seventeen-year-old Princess Alera of Hytanica is besieged from all sides by suitors vying for the Throne, a teenage Cokyrian boy, Narian, is encountered within the walls of her Kingdom, a boy who will show Alera a world where women serve a purpose and not just a husband. As Narian helps Alera find her voice, she struggles against an arranged marriage that will shatter the life she has scarcely begun to live. And when Narian's shocking past is uncovered, and war with Cokyri looms once more, he must fight to defy a fate ordained at his birth. 

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I was thoroughly impressed when I was done with this story so I started looking at a few reviews.  I began to wonder if we read the same book.  But since there are several versions available, I wonder if the book went through some major edits before published by Harlequin Teen.  I just couldn't see some of the faults that readers pointed out.  

The story reads like an epic young adult fantasy/romance.  While I knew going into the book that it was a trilogy, I was thinking that this first one would be a major part of the story.  While it is, I felt like it was more like Fellowship of the Ring in The Lord of the Rings series.  It's major contribution is painting the picture of what's to come and to give the back story.  I obviously really liked it, but feel like the best is yet to come.  

I enjoyed learning about the Kingdom of Hytanica.  It functions much like I imagine kingdoms did in the medieval time period.  Women's primary role is to serve their husband.  Princess Alera wants more than that.  She's knowledgeable and has a knack for disregarding her "place" in society.  She likes knowing the inner workings of ruling the kingdom.  I think she would make a great queen, but she's not allowed to rule.  She needs to marry and her husband becomes the new king.  I actually really disliked her father in this aspect.  He had it set in his mind who would be the next king and never stopped to think how it might affect his daughter.

I think my favorite character was Narian.  His past is quite interesting.  I liked how he challenged Alera.  I think if given half that chance, he would be the perfect counterpart to Alera and her place as Queen.  I especially enjoyed how he was raised by the mortal enemy.  Which of course has different views on military training and especially in their views of women.  He struggles when he return to Hytanica, but knows he can not return to Cokyri.  His relationship with Alera was wonderful. 

I enjoyed the intrigue in the story.  It seems most of the characters are hiding something.   London, Alera's personal bodyguard, has a deep connection to the Cokyri's that causes his to act completely out of character.  Stelton, the man Alera's father wants her to marry, seems like a complete jerk for most of the story.  But, I think there's more to it than that.  And I'm not sure what to think of Stelton's father.  There's a few events that are a little gruesome, but without all the gory details.  Such are the problems with war.  There's romance and love triangles (sort of).  But, most of all there's the promise of what's to come.  And while the story ended with a little bit of a cliffhanger, I can't wait to see what is in store for us next!


 

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Review: Between by Jessica Warman

BetweenTitle: Between
Author: Jessica Warman
Series: Stand Alone
Pages: 320
Published: Available August 2, 2011 by Walker & Co.
ISBN: 9780802721822
Source: Around The World Tours







Description: Elizabeth Valchar--pretty, popular, and rich--wakes up the morning after her eighteenth birthday on the yacht where she'd been celebrating with her closest friends. A persistent thumping noise has roused her. When she goes to investigate, she finds her own drowned body is hitting the side of the boat. Liz is dead. She has no memory of what happened to her, and can only observe in horror the fallout of her death. She's also soon joined by Alex Berg, a quiet boy from her high school who was killed by a hit-and-run driver. The two keep each other company, floating in and out of memories and trying to piece together the details of what happened to each of them. In her regular life, Liz was a runner. It wasn't abnormal for her to run 8-10 miles per day. But as memories from closer to her death begin to surface, Liz finds that she'd been running much more than normal, and that she'd all but stopped eating. Liz's mother, who died when Liz was nine, had battled with anorexia as well, and those around her worried Liz was following in her mother's footsteps. But something more sinister was consuming Liz from the inside out. . 

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I adore this cover for some reason.  It's haunting and goes perfectly well with the impression I got from the description.  I had high hopes for this one.

At first, I was afraid it was going to disappointment.  The direction the story was taking reminded me a lot of Some Girls Are and it wasn't giving me the same need to read drive.  Liz was pretty and popular, but it turned out that she also wasn't very nice.  Or more along that lines that she had some friends who were downright mean and she did nothing to stop them.  She was afraid to lose her place among them.  As she sees herself in flashbacks, she begins to see herself in a new light and it isn't very flattering.

I thought Alex was really hard on Liz at first.  Yes, he had every right to dislike her, but I was fond of how he portrayed his feelings.  The more she saw the more she regretted and Alex was really unforgiving.  I felt sorry for him and all he had to endure.  Especially in light of some of the flashbacks we are allowed to see.  Since this is Liz's story, I don't think we get to know him as well as I would have liked.

The living characters were an interesting mix.  I didn't like Josie and her mom at all.  They both seemed really fake and would stop at nothing to get what they wanted.  They had an unnatural ability to put themselves in the right place at the right time.  I liked Ryder (Liz's boyfriend).  What he goes through after Liz's death was emotional.  There rest of the characters round out the story nicely.

I was actually surprised by the twists in the story.  I don't know how I didn't see it coming.  Poor Liz!  I can't imagine what she was going through.  She was twisted and manipulated so much that she dealt with it the only way she knew how.  In the end she was left with no one to talk to or who might understand.  I think that last 100 pages or so were the best part of the story.


Monday, June 27, 2011

It's Monday! What Are You Reading?


What Are You Reading, is where we gather to share what we have read this past week and what we plan to read this week. It is a great way to network with other bloggers, see some wonderful blogs, and put new titles on your reading list. Click on the picture to be taken to Sheila at One Person's Journey Through A World of Books!

I had a good reading week again.  Squeezed in 5 books somehow.  While some were better than others, I felt that overall it was wonderful week in reading!

Also don't forget to enter my blogversary contest!  The link is the the upper right hand corner! 
Read Last Week: 
  •  Luminous by Dawn Metcalf
  • Legacy by Cayla Kluver
  • The Day Before by Lisa Schroeder   
  • Bright Young Things by Anna Godbersen
  • Winterborne by Augusta Blythe
Currently Reading: 
  • A Beautiful Dark by Jocelyn Davies
Up This Week:
  • Blood Wounds by Susan Beth Pfeffer
  • The Map of Time by Felix J. Palma
  • Forbidden by Tabitha Suzuma

Sunday, June 26, 2011

In My Mailbox!

In My Mailbox is hosted by Kristi from The Story Siren and she was inspired by Alea of Pop Culture JunkieI also want to mention that all my cover pictures link to Goodreads!

For Review:

Second Grave on the Left (Charley Davidson, #2)Clean
Fury (Fury, #1)Witchlanders

The Unwanteds
  • Second Grave on the Left by Darynda Jones
  • Clean by Amy Reed
  • Fury by Elizabeth Miles
  • Witchlanders by Lena Coakley
  • The Unwanteds by Lisa McMann 
*Thanks to St. Martin's Press and Simon & Schuster Galley Grab 

    Swapped:

    Timeless (Timeless, #1)
    • Timeless by Alexandra Monir

      Saturday, June 25, 2011

      Guest Post and Giveaway with Shelley Workinger


      Settling (Solid #2)I’ve been asked many times if “Solid” has a soundtrack (and now “Settling” as well). I’m not sure that everyone understands my answer – “No, but it has a playlist” – so I’ll explain.

      From the time I dreamt the scene that became chapter twelve of “Solid,” this series has been very sensory to me. I could watch scenes in my mind, hear the characters speak, and, yes, hear the background sounds and songs. But when you ask me about the series’ music, I don’t think of those kind of scene-supporting melodies producers use to enhance a story for the screen; I think of the music that Clio thinks about – what she listens to and records in her lyric journal.

      Clio has very strong feelings about music; in “Solid,” she says: I loved how the words to a song could perfectly capture my feelings about a moment, or a day, or a friend. I imagined someday putting together a massive compilation, like a sort of soundtrack of my life….And she hears through the music to the story behind it and the truth within it, partly because of the appreciation of words she’s learned from her novelist mother, but mostly because, as the saying goes, every teenage girl is a poet. So the music that’s important to her – that resonates in her mind – is not even always music that she likes, but that speaks to her. Speaks so loudly, in fact, that by the end of “Solid” she’s decided to write a song of
      her own.

      So here is the playlist for “Settling,” which you can see is significantly longer than that of the previous book, mainly because as she settles into this new life, Clio has more and more experiences that she can’t find the right words for, but that she can find expressed in songs. This playlist is a true reflection on the events of the second book of the series.

      I’m Yours – The Script
      Believe It Or Not – James Taylor
      Let Me Go – 3 Doors Down
      Starless – Crossfade
      You Found Me – The Fray
      My Way – Frank Sinatra
      Falling Slowly – Glen Hansard & Marketa Irglova
      Far Behind - Candlebox

      For more information on the Solid series or Shelly herself visit any of the following



      In honor of the release of Settling, I pleased to be able to giveaway a signed copy along with a bookmark. Open to US resident 13 and up only.  Contest ends 7/2 at 11:59 PM. 



      Friday, June 24, 2011

      Review: Settling (Solid #2) by Shelley Workinger

      Settling (Solid #2)Title: Settling
      Author: Shelley Workinger
      Series: 2nd in Solid Series
      Pages: 242
      Published: Available July 4 by CreateSpace
      ISBN: 9781460981726
      Source: Author sent for honest review







      Description: At the beginning of the summer, Clio Kaid was one of a hundred teens brought to a secret Army installation. But it was no ordinary camp and they weren’t ordinary kids…Soon after learning they were the products of a secret genetic experiment, the teens began developing super-abilities ranging from bounding lightness to blocking heaviness; blinding brilliance and the ability to vanish. These same gifts made them targets of a psychopath in officer’s clothing, and they found themselves fighting for their lives. Picking up where “Solid” left off, Clio and her friends realize that they aren’t ready to go home; they’re determined to stay on campus and continue their journey of self- discovery. But someone doesn’t feel the same way and will do anything to drive them away – even kill. Friendships will be tested, abilities will evolve, and more secrets will come out as the teens race to stop the killer before he sets his sights on one of them…

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      I really enjoyed the first in this series, so was more than happy to participate in a blog tour arranged by the author.  

      I was a little surprised by Clio during the course of this book.  It was almost like she became the queen bee in the first one and then left alone during this one, or so she thinks.  In the effort to make the "camp" become a functioning permanent place for them to live, they've all been given "jobs" in their area of expertise.  Jack works in security, Miranda works on the social calendar, etc.  Clio is basically working on the academic accepts, which means she spends a lot of time alone.  I'm not sure if it was her own doing or just the way it's played out, but Clio begins to feel left out.  And she starts to have secrets.  Her friends start to turn from her which of course causes a lot of drama and hurt feelings.  I thought in the end the Clio's friends were really hard on her, but I think it's because they expect more from her.


      I liked the course of action during the story.  Of course the camp isn't safe yet.  There's a lot of mixed feeling as to what should be done with these "super" genetically altered kids.  And not everybody has pleasant thoughts of that.  There's someone on campus who seems to want to put an end to what they are trying to set up.  When the truth is exposed, someone gets hurt and a lot of blame falls on Clio.  I'm not sure she deserved it, and I'll be curious to how it all plays out in the next book.


      One of my favorite parts was the new theory on how blood type might effect how the special powers are played out.  Especially when it comes to Jack and Clio because they seem to be unique cases.  I wasn't surprised at what Clio might actually be capable of, but it never dawned on me about Jack.


      Overall I really enjoyed Settling, just not quite as much as Solid.  I am really looking forward to the next in the series!



      Thursday, June 23, 2011

      Review: The Lost Crown by Sarah Miller

      The Lost Crown: A Novel of Romanov RussiaTitle: The Lost Crown
      Author: Sarah Miller
      Series: Stand Alone
      Pages: 448
      Published: Available now from Athenum
      ISBN: 9781416983408
      Source: Galley Grab program







       Description: Olga, Tatiana, Maria, and Anastasia. Like the fingers on a hand--first headstrong Olga; then Tatiana, the tallest; Maria the most hopeful for a ring; and Anastasia, the smallest. These are the daughters of Tsar Nicholas II, grand dutchesses living a life steeped in tradition and privilege. They are each on the brink of starting their own lives, at the mercy of royal matchmakers. The summer of 1914 is that precious last wink of time when they can still be sisters together--sisters that link arms and laugh, sisters that share their dreams and worries, and flirt with the officers of their imperial yacht.  But in a gunshot the future changes for these sisters and for Russia. As World War I ignites across Europe, political unrest sweeps Russia. First dissent, then disorder, mutiny, and revolution. For Olga, Tatiana, Maria and Anastasia, the end of their girlhood together is colliding with the end of more than they ever imagined. At the same time hopeful and hopeless, naive and wise, the voices of these sisters become a chorus singing the final song of Imperial Russia. Impeccably researched and utterly fascinating, this novel by acclaimed author Sarah Miller recounts the final days of Imperial Russia with lyricism, criticism and true compassion.

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      It's hard to rate this book because it's really worth the read.  Especially if you have any sort of interest in the last Tsar of Imperial Russia and his familyIt's different than other books I've read about them in the sense that it's told from the Dutchesses points of view.  And I would think of this as historical fiction at it's purest. You know things are fabricated, but you get the feeling that this could be how they felt about the things happening around them.  It read almost like a biography.

      I really enjoyed many aspects of this novel.  While switching between 4 points of view could get confusing at times, Miller manages to give each sister distinct personalities.  With each voice, we learn how each sister felt about what was happening around them.  I also felt a true sense of family among them.  No matter what, they were in it together.  I was surprised at how naive they seemed to be about the outside world.  They lead extremely sheltered lives.  I while it was one of privilege, in many ways it wasn't.  It seems the life the people didn't see differed greatly from the ones the commoners did see.  

      What stuck me most of the common thread of hope and trust that each of the sisters shared.  I almost wish to know how the Tsar and Empress felt during this time.  The sisters took each humiliation in stride with the dignity of royalty.  They also felt like eventually the people would see the error of their ways and release them.  That above all the common love of Russia would set them free.  During all of this they never seemed to behave as if they were in captivity and treated no better than criminals.  

      What was hardest for me about the book, and why I gave it a 3 rating, is that it's long.  The longer this book gets, the more you care about the sisters.  The more you care, the more depressing it gets.  Because no matter what happens, you know how it ends.  The Romanov's were all killed.  And the way it all plays out, it seems almost cowardly.  It's horrific.  So, it's really hard to read a novel that you know there is no happy every after.  

      I was pleased that the actual details on the deaths are in an author's note.  The actual ending is more of a fade to black.   Miller has done her research and it shows.  There's lots of details at the end, including some on the theory of Anastasia getting away.  There's also information on the 2 graves that have been found which put a rest to the theory.  I also loved the included pictures and would love to see a finished copy of this book.  An ARC ebook I'm sure does not give this justice!

      Wednesday, June 22, 2011

      Review: Embrace the Night (Cassandra Palmer #3) by Karen Chance

      Embrace the Night (Cassandra Palmer, #3)Title: Embrace the Night
      Author: Karen Chance
      Series: 3rd in Cassandra Palmer
      Pages: 400
      Published: Available now from Roc
      ISBN: 9780451461995
      Source: Library







      Description: Cassandra Palmer may be the world's chief clairvoyant, but she's still magically bound to a master vampire. Only an ancient book called the Codex Merlini possesses the incantation to free Cassie-but harnessing its limitless power could endanger the world...

      I Give This ...
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      I think the first problem was that it's been too long since I've read the first two books in this series.  I just wasn't remembering the details to make the story flow at first.  But gradually I was swept into the story and things begin to make sense.

      Cassandra has made a few too many promises in my eyes.  I was curious how she was going to get the Codex and give it to the people who want it.  It crossed my mind that maybe it was hidden for a reason, but yet it never really seemed to bother her.  She just wanted that spell.  In her eyes, it was the only answer. 

      I think the best part of this book was the action.  And there's a lot of it.  Cassandra, Mireca and Priktin manage to get themselves in some interesting situations.  And some of the best scenes happen in different era's and with characters from those era's.   Which actually leads to a drawback.  I really had a hard time figuring out the timeline sometimes.  Was it modern day Mireca or the one living during the French Revolution?  What time era are we actually in?  Sometimes, I just had to let it go.

      I found the mystery surrounding Priktin really interesting.  He's involved way deeper than I ever imagined.  Plus, he has some serious baggage that I wasn't expecting.  Still not sure what side he's on though.  Or maybe his best interest is himself?  I'm hoping somethings get cleared up for me in the next book.  Which, I hope to read sooner rather than later!

      Tuesday, June 21, 2011

      Review: Imaginary Girls by Nova Ren Suma

      Imaginary GirlsTitle: Imaginary Girls
      Author: Nova Ren Suma
      Series: Stand Alone
      Pages: 352
      Published: Available now from Dutton Juvenile
      ISBN: 9780525423386
      Source: Publisher via Netgalley








      Description: Chloe's older sister, Ruby, is the girl everyone looks to and longs for, who can't be captured or caged. When a night with Ruby's friends goes horribly wrong and Chloe discovers the dead body of her classmate London Hayes left floating in the reservoir, Chloe is sent away from town and away from Ruby. But Ruby will do anything to get her sister back, and when Chloe returns to town two years later, deadly surprises await. As Chloe flirts with the truth that Ruby has hidden deeply away, the fragile line between life and death is redrawn by the complex bonds of sisterhood.

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      In all reality, this book is really hard to describe and review.  It's so much more than the description.  At the end I was really left with no true idea of my thoughts on the book.  I felt like it didn't have an adequate ending.  I could get a firm grasp on what really happened.

      My biggest issue involved Ruby.  I just couldn't wrap my mind around what she really was.  She had such a control over the entire town.  She could bend people to her will even when what she wanted was completely asinine.  She really wasn't very nice either.  Her actions really held a violent tone to them.  Was she a witch, human with odd powers, or did she sell her soul to the devil himself?  I really couldn't tell.  And the ending left me with very few answers.

      I also got a weird feeling from Chloe and Ruby's relationship.  It was more than step-sister/best friends.  Chloe often seemed overly devoted to Ruby, although completely blind to her faults.  Ruby, on the other hand, seemed almost sinister at times.  I often wondered if Ruby really hated Chloe.  I was reminded of the movie The Good Son many times.  

      I did like Chloe for most of the book.  I understood her decision to return home after two years away.  I also was happy to see that she no longer sees Ruby the same way she use to.  She's grown up quite a bit, and really begins to question Ruby and her hold on people.  She especially begins to question the events that led to the death of London.  

      I was most disappointed in the ending.  With such an intricate chain of events, I was expecting more answers.  Instead, I'm left wondering if there will be a sequel.  And do I want to read it?


      Monday, June 20, 2011

      It's Monday! What Are You Reading?


      What Are You Reading, is where we gather to share what we have read this past week and what we plan to read this week. It is a great way to network with other bloggers, see some wonderful blogs, and put new titles on your reading list. Click on the picture to be taken to Sheila at One Person's Journey Through A World of Books!

      I just want to say that anyone who enjoys Broadway at all that I totally recommend Momma Mia! I LOVED IT.  It's been awhile since I've seen something like that and completely reminded me why I love the theater!   On the reading note, I didn't get a whole let read this week.  I was busy and I just didn't have the chance to read as much as normal.
      Also don't forget to enter my blogversary contest!  The link is the the upper right hand corner!

      Read Last Week: 
      • The Lost Crown by Sarah Miller
      • Between by Jessica Warman
      Currently Reading: 
      • Luminous by Dawn Metcalf
      Up This Week:
      • Ordinary Beauty by Laura Weiss
      • Legacy by Cayla Kluver
      • The Day Before by Lisa Schroeder

      Sunday, June 19, 2011

      In My Mailbox!

      In My Mailbox is hosted by Kristi from The Story Siren and she was inspired by Alea of Pop Culture JunkieI also want to mention that all my cover pictures link to Goodreads!

      For Review:

      BetweenLuminousVirtuosity
      • Between by Jessica Warman (Around The World Tours)
      • Luminous by Dawn Metcalf (Teen Book Scene)
      • Virtuosity by Jessica Martinez 
      Swapped: 

      The Hunt of the UnicornHush
      • The Hunt of the Unicorn by C.C. Humphreys
      • Hush by eishes Chayil

      Saturday, June 18, 2011

      Review: Summer's Crossing (Iron Fey #3.5) by Julie Kagawa

      Summer's Crossing (Iron Fey, #3.5)Title: Summer's Crossing
      Author: Julie Kagawa
      Series: Novella in the Iron Fey series
      Pages: 57
      Published: Available now from Harlequin Teen
      ISBN: 9781459206403
      Source: Free Ebook








      Description: A Midsummer's Nightmare? Robin Goodfellow. Puck. Summer Court prankster, King Oberon's right hand, bane of many a faery queen's existence—and secret friend to Prince Ash of the Winter Court. Until one girl's death came between them, and another girl stole both their hearts.
      Now Ash has granted one favor too many and someone's come to collect, forcing the prince to a place he cannot go without Puck's help—into the heart of the Summer Court. And Puck faces the ultimate choice—betray Ash and possibly win the girl they both love, or help his former friend turned bitter enemy pull off a deception that no true faery prankster could possibly resist.

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      I was excited to read this.  I'm eagerly awaiting The Iron Knight and I was hoping this might tide me over for a little while.  It's just enough to make you want more.

      I wasn't sure what I would think of having a story told from Puck's point of view.  I like Puck, but for me he was always the best friend.  Although, I admitted after The Iron Queen that I could see how Megan could have feeling for him as well.  I'm not surprised that Puck decides to help Ash.  I just don't think of them as deadly enemies anymore.  I'm not sure how that works with there sworn oaths to kill each other.  I think the idea of pulling the wool over the queen of summer was more tempting than anything else.  I enjoyed the ultimate prank he pulled.  Even I feel for it.

      What really did this story for me was Ash.  I got a sense of the pain he was in at the end of The Iron Queen.  But, in this little short book it was down right awful to watch him.  He's still Ash, but he's lost so much of his spark.  He can barely muster up the spark to fight with Puck.  But, you know it's all because of how much he lost.  I'm hoping there's some hope in the next book.  I want my Ash back!

      Overall, a quick read.  I don't think it's really important to the storyline.  But, if your a fan of The Iron Fey series, of course you will read this!


      Friday, June 17, 2011

      Review: Blood Red Road (Dustlands #1) by Moira Young

      Blood Red Road (Dustlands, #1)Title: Blood Red Road
      Author: Moira Young
      Series: 1st in Dustlands series
      Pages: 459
      Published: Available now from Margaret K. McElderry
      ISBN: 9781442429987
      Source: Galley Grab program
       






      Description: Suddenly thrown into the lawless, ugly reality of the world outside of desolate Silverlake, Saba is lost without Lugh to guide her. So perhaps the most surprising thing of all is what Saba learns about herself: she's a fierce fighter, an unbeatable survivor, and a cunning opponent. And she has the power to take down a corrupt society from the inside. Teamed up with a handsome daredevil named Jack and a gang of girl revolutionaries called the Free Hawks, Saba stages a showdown that will change the course of her own civilization. Saba has spent her whole life in Silverlake, a dried-up wasteland ravaged by constant sandstorms. The Wrecker civilization has long been destroyed, leaving only landfills for Saba and her family to scavenge from. That's fine by her, as long as her beloved twin brother Lugh is around. But when a monster sandstorm arrives, along with four cloaked horsemen, Saba's world is shattered. Lugh is captured, and Saba embarks on an epic quest to get him back. 

      I Give This ...
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      This was one of those books that at first glance, I really had no interest in reading.  I like dystopian young adult, but there's definitely a lot out there right now.  I've been lucky that I haven't read anything to I haven't really disliked.  But, I wasn't really ready to chance it.  Then the reviews started to trickle in and I admit, I was intrigued.  I saw in my newsletter and decided to give it a shot.

      The beginning didn't start out well for me.  I wasn't really sure of Saba's character and the first couple chapters are really dramatic.  But, I have to hand it to the author, it's a really good way to suck a reader in.  Saba's character is really hard to like.  She bound and determined to do everything alone.  She's down right awful to her young sister and it often seems like nothing else matters besides rescuing Lugh.  Even if it means Saba will do really stupid things to get there. Plus, it often feels like she blames everybody else for her current position in life.    But her sheer determination and personal strength really drive her forward.  She never gives up, even when you think she's lost.  I really admired that aspect of her character.  With all she goes through, it's no wonder that she begins to grow on you.  And gradually she softens around the edges.  I was happy to see her realize that there might be others out there that can matter to who as much as Lugh.

      I really enjoyed the secondary characters.  Emmi, Saba's little sister was fantastic.  Her devotion to her brother shows in how much she puts with Saba's behavior to her.  She's willing to go through just as much as Saba.  Her character has amazing spirit for someone so young.  I enjoyed Jack just as much.  The romance felt a little forced at first.  But, in the end I really felt there connection.  I also loved the Free Hawks.   It was great that there was a group defying the king and his cronies.

      The action throughout the book was intense.  From the beginning stages when Emmie and Saba set out to follow Lugh, we know that it's not going to be an easy journey.  It's a blood bath that Saba must fight for her life and Emmie's on several occasions.  With the events so intertwined with the king's own beliefs and control over the people, it's no wonder that Saba must go to such lengths to get Lugh back.

      I did wonder at the ending a little bit.  It didn't feel just right for the story for some reason.  I completely expected there to be more carry over into the next in the series.  Although I will read the next one,  I honestly wonder were it will go.


       

      Thursday, June 16, 2011

      Review: Queen of the Dead (The Ghost and the Goth #2) by Stacey Kade

      Queen of the Dead (The Ghost and the Goth, #2)Title: Queen of the Dead
      Author: Stacey Kade
      Series: 2nd in Ghost and the Goth
      Pages: 288
      Published: Available now from Hyperion
      ISBN:  9781423134671
      Source: Publisher via Netgalley
       






      Description: After being sent back from the light, Alona Dare - former homecoming queen, current Queen of the Dead - finds herself doing something she never expected: working. Instead of spending days perfecting her tan by the pool (her typical summer routine when she was, you know, alive), Alona must now cater to the needs of other lost spirits. By her side for all of this - ugh - “helping of others” is Will Killian: social outcast, seer of the dead, and someone Alona cares about more than she’d like. Before Alona can make a final ruling on Will’s “friend” or “more” status, though, she discovers trouble at home. Her mom is tossing out Alona’s most valuable possessions, and her dad is expecting a new daughter with his wicked wife. Is it possible her family is already moving on? Hello! She’s only been dead for two months! Thankfully, Alona knows just the guy who can put a stop to this mess. Unfortunately for Alona, Will has other stuff on his mind, and Mina, a young (and beautiful) seer, is at the top of the list. She’s the first ghost-talker Will’s ever met—aside from his father—and she may hold answers to Will’s troubled past. But can she be trusted? Alona immediately puts a check mark in the “clearly not” column. But Will is - ahem - willing to find out, even if it means leaving a hurt and angry Alona to her own devices, which is never a good idea.

      I Give This ...
         Photobucket


      I was really excited to read this one.  I found the first in the series to be really unique.  It was the right mix of ghosts, serious issues mixed in with some light-hearted romance and fun.  I was hoping for the same with this edition.

      I was a little disappointed with the first half of the book.  Alona seemed to regress back to shelfish, b$tchy person she was in life.  Her attitude towards Will was really annoying.  She pushed his buttons and then knew just how to get back into his good graces.  I also didn't like the way she handled the ghosts when Will wasn't around.  Top it off with her childish reaction to finding her mom throwing out her stuff and her dad having another baby, and I was afraid I was going to like this significantly less.   

      I still really liked Will though.  I just wish he didn't have such a thing for Alona.  I often wondered if he overlooked her faults often or just didn't see them.  I liked his interactions with Mina.  How awesome to finally realize he wasn't alone and that there might be more to this whole ghost thing.  I was intrigued by the group that Minda introduced him too.  I think we've just barely touched on who they are and what they can do.  

      When Alona's selfishness leads her to make a disastrous choice is when the book got significantly better.  I liked were the story goes after that.  I think she learned the true meaning of walking in someone else's shoes.  I also think it taught her to put someone's needs above her own.  I also though Will was a little hard on her at first, but came around when he realized her intentions were good in the end.

      I think one of my favorite parts was when Will has to enter the theater that use to be a hotel that burned down.  That was intense.  I really liked how the author described that the ghosts are on a perpetual loop.  Everyday they relive how they died.  No wonder Will always avoided the place. 


       

      Wednesday, June 15, 2011

      Review: Madame Tussaud by Michelle Moran

      Madame Tussaud: A Novel of the French RevolutionTitle: Madame Tussaud
      Author: Michelle Moran
      Series: Stand Alone
      Pages: 464
      Published: Available now from Crown Publishing
      ISBN: 9780307588654
      Source: Library







      Description:  Smart and ambitious, Marie Tussaud has learned the secrets of wax sculpting by working alongside her uncle in their celebrated wax museum, the Salon de Cire. From her popular model of the American ambassador, Thomas Jefferson, to her tableau of the royal family at dinner, Marie’s museum provides Parisians with the very latest news on fashion, gossip, and even politics. Her customers hail from every walk of life, yet her greatest dream is to attract the attention of Marie Antoinette and Louis XVI; their stamp of approval on her work could catapult her and her museum to the fame and riches she desires. After months of anticipation, Marie learns that the royal family is willing to come and see their likenesses. When they finally arrive, the king’s sister is so impressed that she requests Marie’s presence at Versailles as a royal tutor in wax sculpting. It is a request Marie knows she cannot refuse—even if it means time away from her beloved Salon and her increasingly dear friend, Henri Charles.  As Marie gets to know her pupil, Princesse √Člisabeth, she also becomes acquainted with the king and queen, who introduce her to the glamorous life at court. From lavish parties with more delicacies than she’s ever seen to rooms filled with candles lit only once before being discarded, Marie steps into a world entirely different from her home on the Boulevard du Temple, where people are selling their teeth in order to put food on the table.  Meanwhile, many resent the vast separation between rich and poor. In salons and caf√©s across Paris, people like Camille Desmoulins, Jean-Paul Marat, and Maximilien Robespierre are lashing out against the monarchy. Soon, there’s whispered talk of revolution. . . . Will Marie be able to hold on to both the love of her life and her friendship with the royal family as France approaches civil war? And more important, will she be able to fulfill the demands of powerful revolutionaries who ask that she make the death masks of beheaded aristocrats, some of whom she knows?

      I Give This ...
      Photobucket

      Having been a big fan of Moran's previous novels, I was curious as to what she could offer The French Revolution.  I've only read a couple books with this setting, and never from such an lesser known view point.  All I know of Madame Tussaud is from the present day wax museum's names after her.

      Sadly, I didn't think this was as fantastic as her other novels.  But, I don't think it has anything to do with the story.  Moran has crafted a masterpiece.  She tells the story flawlessly to the point I felt like I was there.  It just wasn't for me.  I think it's the setting of the revolution.  I just can't wrap my mind around what happened during this time period.  The poor turning on the rich and on the church was understandable.  All the had to do was follow the trail of money and food that they didn't have.  But, it reminds me of the Salem witch trials in the aspect that all your neighbor had to do was point a finger at you and you were on trial.  It was horrific.  Especially when you think that an estimated 40,000 people died during this time period.  And for what?   I'm pretty sure it wasn't life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness (no matter how much the original leaders were trying to model the American Revolution).

      I enjoyed the story of Marie.  She was a very talented young women living a time of absolute turmoil.  Her family has the ear of both the nobility and the National Assembly.  And what a dangerous line to walk.  I actually fond her point of view on the King and Queen to be fascinating.  I've long felt I needed that voice to make them come to life.  Once the force had started, I don't think anything could have saved them.  The Queen especially couldn't do anything right by anyone's standards.  I often saw Marie struggle with correcting people's very erroneous view points. But, she also didn't want to point out how friendly she was with the royal family.
      After so much death surrounding her, I wasn't surprised that Marie was finally arrested.  There's only so many times you can see someone's head and be asked to make a death mask of it.  Especially when it's someone you know and would consider a friend.  Even more so, when you realize how they died and for what reasons.  In that aspect, I felt this novel was much more graphic that previous novels I've read about the revolution.

      In the end, I felt the novel was a little drawn out and slow.  Especially in the beginning.  When the revolution was in full swing, it was just a lot of death and despair.  But, Moran makes it readable.  I'll be curious to see what I think of her next book which is also set in France during Napoleon's time.




      Tuesday, June 14, 2011

      Guest Post with Dawn Metcalf author of Luminous

      I was really intrigued by the idea that people have powers in the Flow, so I asked Dawn what power she would have.   And here is what she said ...


      If I had a power in the Flow, I think I'd like the ability to be able to physically reach out and touch the unique spark that lives in everybody. That might sound a bit "aww, fluffy!", but I assure you that I'm a wry, twisted cynic with the heart of an idealist, but I really do mean it. Think about it like this: who you are as a human being exists once in forever. The variables of where you were born, when you were born, your particular family, friends, experiences and opinions is a combination that has never happened in exactly that way before and will never happen in exactly that way ever again. Each person is a 100% unique individual and, if you're inclined to believe it, a once-in-a-lifetime divine gift to the world. If you can become aware of that when you're meeting another person, or (even better) realize that about yourself, then I think we'd all be a lot nicer to ourselves and one another.

      So if I could reach out a finger and touch that firefly of light that rings like a chime inside your heart so you knew it and felt it without doubt, remembering it always? Yeah, I'd like to do that.




      “I like my books like my chocolate–
      dark, bittersweet, and a little bit nutty.”

       
      Short Version:
      If you want to know about me, read one of my books.
      Or ask my mom, she’ll tell you.

      Medium Version:
      I have no good excuse for the way I write. I lived in a normal, loving, suburban home, studied hard, went to college, went to graduate school, got married, had babies, and settled down in northern Connecticut. Despite this wholesome lifestyle, I was clearly corrupted by fairy tales, puppet visionaries, British humour and graphic novels. As a result, I write dark, quirky, and sometimes humorous speculative fiction.



      LuminousLuminous by Dawn Metcalf
      Release Date: July 7, 2011

      As reality slips and time stands still, Consuela finds herself thrust into the world of the Flow. Removed from all she loves into this shifting world overlapping our own, Consuela quickly discovers she has the power to step out of her earthly skin and cloak herself in new ones-skins made from the world around her, crafted from water, fire, air. She is joined by other teens with extraordinary abilities, bound together to safeguard a world they can affect, but where they no longer belong.

      When murder threatens to undo the Flow, the Watcher charges Consuela and elusive, attractive V to stop the killer. But the psychopath who threatens her new world may also hold the only key to Consuela's way home.




      Monday, June 13, 2011

      CLOSED Blogversary Giveaway!


      It's my blogversary and it just doesn't feel right not to celebrate!  It's been 2 wonderful years of taking about books and I hope to have many more to come.  So in honor or my blogverary, I'm having a contest.

      First Prize: A book of winner's choosing (up to $12) from Book Depository (so yes, it's international as long as BD delivers to you!).

      Second Prize: This winner is US only.  I may add more choices while the contest is still open.  Winner can pick from the following list

      Red-Head Stepchild by Jaye Wells
      The Mage in Black by Jaye Wells
      Inside Out by Maria V. Snyder
      Shade by Jeri Smith-Ready
      Once a Witch by Carolyn MacCullough
      Two Moon Princess by Carmen Ferreiro-Esteban
      Sugar and Spice by Lauren Conrad


      Contest is open to those 13 and up and closes June 30 at 11:59 pm! 

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