Saturday, December 31, 2011

It's My Bloggy Birthday

I began this blog on Dec. 30, 2009 with modest goals. I just wanted to talk about the good books I was reading. I had no idea if anyone would ever find my blog and care about what I had to say.

I had been blogging at Inside of a Dog since Jan. 24, 2008. I began that blog as part of a project to learn to use Web 2.0 tools. After the project, the blog sort of languished until I decided that it would make a good forum for talking about the books I was reading. I began writing my thoughts about the adult and young adult books I read and discovered the whole community of book bloggers.

In December 2009, I decided to spin off the young adult books into a blog of their own. Some of the adult books I was reading were not necessarily appropriate for my middle grade and younger young adult readers. I didn't want to confuse any students who stumbled on to my blog. Also I wanted to connect more with young adult bloggers and didn't want to confuse them either.

Since December 2009 I have gathered 1163 followers, done 227 book reviews and published 656 blog posts. I have also gotten on some people's lists and have begun to receive books for review from publishers and independent authors - 78 of them have been reviewed already. Not bad for two years!

I am not planning any big changes for 2012. I still want to read and talk about the books I enjoy. I have quite a stack ready to read this coming year. Twenty young adult or middle grade review books are on my TBR mountain for the coming year. And LibraryThing says I have 192 unread young adult books around the house (or on my Kindle).

Now, it is time to pick up my latest book and get reading!


ARC Review: Cinder by Marissa Meyer

Cinder
Author: Marissa Meyer
Publication: Feiwel & Friends (January 3, 2012)


Description: Humans and androids crowd the raucous streets of New Beijing. A deadly plague ravages the population. From space, a ruthless lunar people watch, waiting to make their move. No one knows that Earth’s fate hinges on one girl. . . . 

Cinder, a gifted mechanic, is a cyborg. She’s a second-class citizen with a mysterious past, reviled by her stepmother and blamed for her stepsister’s illness. But when her life becomes intertwined with the handsome Prince Kai’s, she suddenly finds herself at the center of an intergalactic struggle, and a forbidden attraction. Caught between duty and freedom, loyalty and betrayal, she must uncover secrets about her past in order to protect her world’s future.




My Thoughts: I have just finished my favorite book of the year. Cinder is a re-imagining of the Cinderella story told in a future Earth where a terrible disease is running rampant and the Earth is under threat from the residents of the moon who happen to be able to use mind control.


Cinder is a cyborg as a result of a childhood accident. She was adopted by a scientist who then died and left her to the less than tender mercies of a stepmother who despises cyborgs and who uses her as an unappreciated servant. Cinder herself is a gifted mechanic but is also ashamed to be a cyborg. When Prince Kai, heir to the throne of the Eastern Commonwealth, comes to her to repair a broken android, they form a friendship. Though Cinder tries to put him off when he wants her to attend his ball. She knows her stepmother would never allow it and society would not allow a cyborg to attend.


When one of Cinder's stepsisters and only friend comes down with the plague, Cinder's stepmother donates Cinder to the cause of medical research. The head doctor has been trying to find a cure and using cyborgs to try out the various serums. He is stepping up his research because the Emperor has come down with the disease. When he sees Cinder he knows that she is someone he has been searching for. He determines that Cinder is immune to the plague and is a lunar herself. 


The queen of the Lunars wants to marry young Kai and offers to provide a cure to the disease as incentive. It is her first step to conquering the Earth. She is a ruthless woman who is rumored to have killed her sister and her sister's heirs in order to take the throne herself. There has been a long-standing rumor that the former queen's daughter, Princess Selene, did not die but was taken off to Earth. Many people are looking for her in the hopes that she can defeat the evil Queen Levana. Queen Levana would like to find her too.


This was a great story filled with action and intrigue. It is also peopled with fascinating characters. Cinder and Kai are both people who seem to live beyond the pages of this book. The world is well-drawn too. I look forward to reading the rest of this trilogy to see what happens. I recommend this story to science fiction fans and adventure fans. They won't be disappointed. 


Favorite Quote:
Kai set his jaw and fixed his gaze on Torin, the man who had been his father's adviser since before Kai was born. Even now, standing in the same room with Torin made him feel like a child, gave a peculiar urge to be unruly. He wondered if he would ever get over that.
I received this copy for review from Macmillan. You can buy your copy here

Friday, December 30, 2011

Book Beginning & Friday 56: Cinder by Marissa Meyer

Happy Friday everybody!!
Book Beginnings

Book Beginnings on Friday is now hosted by Katy at A Few More Pages 
Anyone can participate; just share the opening sentence of your current read, making sure that you include the title and author so others know what you're reading. 
If you like, share with everyone why you do, or do not, like the sentence.

The Friday 56
Rules:
  • Grab the book nearest you. Right now.
  • Turn to page 56.
  • Find the fifth sentence.
  • Post that sentence (plus one or two others if you like) along with these instructions on your blog or (if you do not have your own blog) in the comments section of Freda's Voice
  • Post a link along with your post back to Freda's Voice
Don’t dig for your favorite book, the coolest, the most intellectual. Use the CLOSEST.


I had heard great things about Cinder by Marissa Meyer and was so glad to be able to get an ARC of the book from Feiwel and Friends. I finally had a chance to read it and I was blown away by the great story. It combines some things I really like including fairy tale retellings and science fiction. This is the best book I have read in 2011.


Beginning:
The screw through Cinder's ankle had rusted, the engraved cross marks worn to a mangled circle.
Friday 56:
She wondered how long it would take for it to finish the scan and determine that she was a carrier, confirming that she was at fault. For everything.

Thursday, December 29, 2011

ARC Review: Winterling by Sarah Prineas

Winterling
Author: Sarah Prineas
Publication: HarperCollins (January 3, 2012)


Description: “We live here, my girl, because it is close to the Way, and echoes of its magic are felt in our world. The Way is a path leading to another place, where the people are governed by different rules. Magic runs through them and their land.”


With her boundless curiosity and wild spirit, Fer has always felt that she doesn’t belong. Not when the forest is calling to her, when the rush of wind through branches feels more real than school or the quiet farms near her house. Then she saves an injured creature—he looks like a boy, but he’s really something else. He knows who Fer truly is, and invites her through the Way, a passage to a strange, dangerous land.

Fer feels an instant attachment to this realm, where magic is real and oaths forge bonds stronger than iron. But a powerful huntress named the MÓr rules here, and Fer can sense that the land is perilously out of balance. Fer must unlock the secrets about the parents she never knew and claim her true place before the worlds on both sides of the Way descend into endless winter.

Sarah Prineas captivates in this fantasy-adventure about a girl who must find within herself the power to set right a terrible evil.


My Thoughts: This was another delightful fantasy from Sarah Prineas. This one features a strong female heroine. Fer is a middle schooler being raised by her grandmother after her mother and father "had gone from this world." Fer always thought that this was a metaphor for dying. At least she thought so until she rescued a dog that turned into a boy and then followed him home through a pond into a strange, sick world where it was always winter. 


The Mor is ruling this land and wants to convince Fer to be her follower and ally. Fer gets sucked into her glamorie and at first is dazzled by her. But she soon comes to believe that the Lady is the cause of the sickness in the world. She is the one who killed her parents to usurp her mother's power as the true Lady of the land. It is somehow up to Fer to defeat the Lady and restore the land.


I loved the wonderful creatures in this one. The boy Fer rescues is a Puck who is able to turn into a dog or a horse and who is bound to the Lady by oaths to serve her. The Lady is surrounded by other wonderful creatures who are losing their grip on their human forms and reverting to their wilding forms. Fer begins by healing some of them using the skills she was taught by her grandmother. 


This was a great story about a determined heroine who feels a responsibility for the land and a responsibility for the people who live in it. I thought it was excellent. I think this one will be well-received by my middle grade fantasy lovers and I can't wait to share it with them. 


Favorite Quote:
She told her grandma about the wildings and how she cured them with spells and herbs, and after Grand-Jane had asked questions about which herbs and which spells, and approved what she'd done, Fer told about the bloody hunt that was supposed to bring the spring, and her guess that something the Lady had done was behind everything that was wrong.
I received this book for review through the Amazon Vine program. You can buy your copy here.

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Midwinter's Eve Giveaway Hop Winners

I was pleased to take part in the Midwinter's Eve Giveaway Hop sponsored by Inspired Kathy from I Am a Reader, Not a Writer and Jessie from Oasis for YA and The Daily Harrell. I had two prizes to offer.
For my US followers, I had a surprise box of ARCs and other books I had received for review. I had 99 entrants. The winner chosen by Random.org is entrant #45:

Jennifer M. from California

The International winner gets a book of their choice (up to $15 US) from The Book Depository. I had 76 entrants. The winner chosen by Random.org is entrant #29:

Ana from Brazil

The winners have been notified. Thanks to everyone for participating in this hop.

2012 - Year of the TBR

I was planning to go challenge free this year and concentrate on reading my TBR mountain which has reached the overwhelming height of 1210 books. Only (if you can say "only" when talking about a number in triple digits) 189 of them are YA books.


Here is what the top of my entertainment center looked like on Dec. 22, 2011. Please note that these are mostly books that arrived after Aug. 31 with just a few holdovers that I didn't get to this past summer.

Unread books that are older than that have been moved to crates in my office or have been donated to my High School Media Center. Of course, donated books are no longer on my TBR mountain which is sort of cheating because I bought them and never got them read. 


But Rose City Reader alerted me to two challenges that I just can't pass up.
My Reader's Block is hosting the Mount TBR Reading Challenge 2012. Check her blog for all the details. Here are the Challenge Levels:
  • Pike's Peak: Read 12 books from your TBR pile/s
  • Mt. Vancouver: Read 25 books from your TBR pile/s
  • Mt. Ararat: Read 40 books from your TBR piles/s
  • Mt. Kilimanjaro: Read 50 books from your TBR pile/s
  • El Toro: Read 75 books from your TBR pile/s
  • Mt. Everest: Read 100+ books from your TBR pile/s
Not to overstretch myself, I am just signing up for the Mt. Vancouver level but am hoping to upgrade as the year goes on.
The second challenge I am signing up for is the Off the Shelf 2012 challenge hosted by Bookish Ardour. You can get all the details here.


Challenge Levels

  1. Tempted– Choose 5 books to read
  2. Trying – Choose 15 books to read
  3. Making A Dint – Choose 30 books to read
  4. On A Roll – Choose 50 books to read
  5. Flying Off – Choose 75 books to read
  6. Hoarder – Choose between 76-135 books to read
  7. Buried – Choose between 136-200 books to read
Again, I am going to start small at the Make a Dint level (Shouldn't that be "dent"?) and hope to upgrade as the year goes on.


That is it for me. No more challenges! What challenges are your planning on taking on in 2012?

WoW:

Waiting on Wednesday is a meme hosted by Jill at Breaking the Spine. She has a linky widget at her site each week for your post and to make it easy to find posts by other people.

The purpose of the meme is to spotlight books that we are eagerly anticipating. It is fun to take a look at what others are waiting for. I have noticed that it has expanded my wishlist though. Be warned!

I don't talk about it much on this blog but I am a K-12 Media Specialist and once in a while I will be excited about getting something for my K-2 students. This is a week like that. We are all big fans of Scaredy Squirrel by Melanie Watt. 

Look what I discovered at Amazon.
I am soon going to be the proud owner of a Scaredy Squirrel puppet, Scaredy Squirrel Makes a Friend and Scaredy Squirrel Prepares for Christmas. Even though they will arrive too late for Christmas, my students won't care. Some of them have been reading Christmas books since September. 

What are your favorite kids' books?

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Midwinter's Eve Giveaway Hop

It's time for the second annual Mid-winter's Eve Giveaway Hop. Dates for this year's hop are Dec. 21st to 27th. This hop is hosted by Inspired Kathy from I Am a Reader, Not a Writer and Jessie Harrell from Oasis For YA & The Daily Harrell. 

I have two prizes for this hop. 

For my US followers, I have a box of ARCs that I have recently received and reviewed. They have been gently read. There are six YA or Middle Grade titles in the box. The exact contents are a surprise.

For my followers outside of the US, I am offering one book of their choice (up to $15 US) from the Book Depository. You must live in a country shipped to by the Book Depository to enter this one.

Here are the rules:
1. You must be a follower of this blog (New followers welcome!)
2. You must completely fill out the appropriate form.
3. You must enter before midnight Dec. 27.

Here are the forms:




Teaser Tuesday: Winterling by Sarah Prineas

Teaser Tuesdays is a weekly bookish meme, hosted by MizB of Should Be Reading. Anyone can play along! Just do the following:
  • Grab your current read
  • Open to a random page
  • Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page
  • BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!)
Share the title and author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers!


The ARC of Winterling by Sarah Prineas just reached to top of my TBR mountain. I got this one from Amazon Vine. The book releases on Jan. 3. This is a middle grade fantasy in a new series. I am a big fan of her Magic Thief series and hope this one is as good.


Teaser:
The same thing every single day, except on the weekends when it was just house, house, house, because she and her grandma never went anywhere. She had to get out under the sky or she got so twitchy, she felt like she might twitch out of her own skin.
I feel like those two sentences really tell be a lot about Fer who is the main character of this story.  

Monday, December 26, 2011

HBRC Day 11 - 26th page 26th line

Here is the easy challenge for the 11th day of the Holiday Break Reading Challenge. Since it is Dec. 26 our task is to look at the book we are currently reading and write down the 26th line on the 26th page.

I am currently reading an adult romance - Future Perfect by Suzanne Brockmann. Here is my line:
"...brandy in her glass, heating it with the warmth of her..."

What's on the Review Stack?

Since it is the end of the year and time for new beginnings and resolutions, I thought that I would take a look at the bunch of books that I have received for review. Here are the print books:
Once upon a time they were neatly in order by the date the book was going to be published. They soon will be again. Not pictured above are the 5 review books in my bag to take with me on my Christmas Break to read at home. Here are the ones in my bag:
Then there are the ebooks on my Kindle. Right now, that is another eleven books.



I don't think that it will come as a surprise that I am feeling just a little overwhelmed. Consequently, I have reluctantly decided to change my review policy. I will no longer be accepting self-published books. I just can't keep up with all the requests.

Sunday, December 25, 2011

In My YA Mailbox (Dec. 25, 2011)

The weekly In My Mailbox post is hosted by Kristi at The Story Siren. It is fun to see what everyone else gets in their mailboxes, shopping bags, and library visits. Click on the link to The Story Siren's site to see the rules and join in the fun.
 
I guarantee that your TBR pile will grow when you see all the wonderful books everyone gets. You will discover lots of great blogs and lots of books that you won't be able to live without.



Here are the books that arrived even before Santa did this week. I got one review book, two by an author I want to explore, and 3 holiday deals.
Dark Eyes by William Richter was received as part of the LibraryThing Early Reviewers program. It will be released on March 15. Here is the product description:
Wally was adopted from a Russian orphanage as a child and grew up in a wealthy New York City family. At fifteen, her obsessive need to rebel led her to life on the streets.

Now the sixteen-year-old is beautiful and hardened, and she's just stumbled across the possibility of discovering who she really is. She'll stop at nothing to find her birth mother before Klesko - her darkeyed father - finds her. Because Klesko will stop at nothing to reclaim the fortune Wally's mother stole from him long ago. Even if that means murdering his own blood. But Wally's had her own killer training, and she's hungry for justice.

The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo for teens, this debut thriller introduces our next big series heroine!
These are the two I bought for my Kindle because I have been curious about this author for a while. I have also read many good reviews of these books.
Half-Blood by Jennifer L. Armentrout sounds like a great young adult paranormal.

Obsidian by Jennifer L. Armentrout got me at the idea of an alien living next door. 

Finally, I couldn't pass up the $.99 sale for these popular young adult titles. I picked these three as the ones I most wanted to read. I had read quite a few of the others already.
The Unidentified by Rae Mariz

The Poison Diaries by Maryrose Wood

Ten Things We Did (and Probably Shouldn't Have) by Sarah Mlynowski - I don't read very many contemporaries but couldn't pass this one up at the price. 


What did you get this week? Anything good from Santa?

Saturday, December 24, 2011

HBRC Day 9 - Book with a Christmas Theme or Setting

My favorite has to be Let It Snow by John Green, Maureen Johnson and Lauren Myracle. It remains the only book I have read by any of those three popular young adult authors. I really enjoyed it and thought it hit all the right notes as a romance and as a Christmas story.
The weather outside is frightful, but these stories are delightful! When a huge blizzard (that doesn't show signs of stopping) hits, Gracetown is completely snowed in. But even though it's cold outside, things are heating up inside, proving that the holiday season is magical when it comes to love. In three wonderfully (and hilariously!) interconnected tales, YA stars John Green, Lauren Myracle, and Maureen Johnson create a must-have collection that captures all the spirit of the holiday season.
I don't read very many Christmas theme books but this one was fun for a snow filled winter night's reading. I read it last year on Christmas Eve.

Book Review: 8 by Michael Mullin

8
Author: Michael Mullin
Publication: Gemiknight STudios, LLC (November 9, 2010)


Description: This is the previously untold story of the previously unknown 8th dwarf, named Creepy. He was banished to the basement for being different and, well, weird. Yet he played a vital - and of course previously unknown - role in the popular tale of Snow White (whose title character is an intruder Creepy refers to as "the Maid").


My Thoughts: This was a quick read of only seven pages. It posits a previously unknown eighth dwarf who was banished to the cellar for being unlike the other seven dwarfs. This one - named Creepy - watches through cracks in the floor from the cellar as Snow White visits and is tricked three times by the evil Queen. She is only saved by the quick thinking of Creepy who ends up being her unknown and unappreciated savior. 


The verse was amusing but with a couple of rhymes that felt a little forced. I liked the story and think that it could inspire other young writers to do their own takes on familiar fairy tales told by previously unknown or unused narrators. 


Favorite Quote:
The Maid (not the sharpest knife in the drawer),
Fell in almost exactly the same spot as before.
Creepy sighed, shook his head, then got his stool quick.
But only reached the poison comb with the aid of a stick.
I received this one for review. You can get a copy here.



Friday, December 23, 2011

Book Beginning & Friday 56: 8 by Michael Mullin

Happy Friday everybody!!
Book Beginnings

Book Beginnings on Friday is now hosted by Katy at A Few More Pages 
Anyone can participate; just share the opening sentence of your current read, making sure that you include the title and author so others know what you're reading. 
If you like, share with everyone why you do, or do not, like the sentence.

The Friday 56
Rules:
  • Grab the book nearest you. Right now.
  • Turn to page 56.
  • Find the fifth sentence.
  • Post that sentence (plus one or two others if you like) along with these instructions on your blog or (if you do not have your own blog) in the comments section of Freda's Voice
  • Post a link along with your post back to Freda's Voice
Don’t dig for your favorite book, the coolest, the most intellectual. Use the CLOSEST.


I just started 8 by Michael Mullin. This is a book for review on my Kindle and is a short novel in verse that tells the story of the 8th Dwarf. Snow White will never be the same after we all find out the truth.


Beginning:
The stories we pass down from parent to childWere once filled with darkness, but somehow turned mild.
Friday 56 (19% mark on my Kindle):
The next morning the seven went back to the grind.Not one looked back as they left him behind.