Saturday, June 30, 2012

Scheduling July

With July 1 coming tomorrow, I thought I would share how I organize my blog and how I organize my reading. I am, of necessity, a very organized person. I find comfort in knowing what is coming up and knowing when I need to do things. Spontaneity makes me sort of uncomfortable. At the start of each year, I make calendars for each of my blogs. I use Microsoft Publisher to just print out blank, page-sized calendars of each month. Here is my July calendar. You can click on it to enlarge it and see the details.
My first step is slotting in the memes I plan to do each month. On this blog I do Stacking the Shelves, Book Blogger Confessions (which is the only personal meme I do), Teaser Tuesday and Book Beginnings and Friday 56. I like each of them because they are designed to spotlight books. Teaser Tuesday and the Friday memes give me a second chance to highlight the books I will be reviewing. These memes all help build community and are almost directly responsible for my massive TBR mountain.

Next I slot in the books I have for review. Getting more than 10 books a month for review - even divided between two blogs - means it would be too easy to forget something if I didn't write it down. During the school year I try to have reviews on Thursdays and Saturdays. (That's 4 reviews a week between my two blogs.) In the summer I have more reading time and can fit in reviews on some Mondays and most Wednesdays too. 

I am lucky enough to be almost 2 weeks ahead of schedule right now. You can see on my calendar that some of the posts are underlined. Those are the ones that are written and scheduled for posting. Being ahead takes lots of pressure off and lets me enjoy what I am reading much more than if I had to rush my reading to make a deadline. 

I love the gaps too...which allow me to dig into the massive TBR mountain and choose something to read "just for fun." Not that I don't really enjoy most of the review books I have because I do. This month I have five more slots for those gap books and I can't wait to dig into my basket for treasures. Maybe this is the month that I will finally get to read Maggie Stiefvater's The Scorpio Races or Forever. Or maybe I'll be able to read Andrea Cremer's Bloodrose

You know how authors seem to divide into two groups - plotters and pantsers. Even though I am not an author, I am clearly aligned with those plotters. What about you? Do you organize your reading or are you an impulse reader?

ARC Review: Dead of Night by Lynn Viehl

Dead of Night 
Author: Lynn Viehl
Publication: Flux (July 8, 2012)


Description: True love . . . and an undying obsession


Catlyn Youngblood has a secret life. Despite being a natural-born vampire hunter like her two older brothers, Cat has fallen for Jesse—an ageless boy from a centuries-old vampire clan.

Cat’s job cataloguing rare, mystical texts at a bookstore allows her to meet with Jesse alone every evening. But when girls who look disturbingly similar to Cat start disappearing from town, Cat and Jesse discover frightening clues to their whereabouts within the book collection. Together, they must stop a crazed man from realizing his dark scheme— one that would claim Cat’s life. 


My Thoughts: This story is a contemporary take on the Romeo and Juliet story. Catlyn Youngblood is a descendant of the Van Helsing family though her mother apparently ran away with a vampire leaving her Van Helsing family behind. Her parents are both dead now and she and her brothers have been on the move ever since. Her guardian is her older brother Patrick (Trick) who has been working with computers until he decided to come to Florida and start a horse breeding business. Her other brother Gray is nearer her age but still older. Catlyn is almost sixteen.


One day (in book 1) when Cat was riding her horse at night she met a boy. Jesse Raven was older and mysterious and they fell in love. But Jesse is almost a vampire. He and his family were killed by a vampire and given the vampire's blood. They have the advantages of vampires - long life, fast reflexes, good night vision - and some of the disadvantages too like an inability to go out in the sun but they haven't become vampires themselves. Neither family wants their child involved with the other.


This story begins after some sort of climactic episode at the Halloween dance that resulted in Trick wiping the minds of most of the town. He tried to wipe Cat's memory but it didn't work. She hates and resents her brothers for their decision to wipe her memory but she hasn't told them it didn't work. She is still seeing Jesse in secret.


Now a new problem has come to the town. Someone is kidnapping young girls and it doesn't take Cat long to realize that the girls are all similar in appearance to her. To earn some Christmas money and help out her family, Cat gets a job in a bookstore doing inventory and cataloging a collection left when an old recluse died. She and Jesse use her time in the bookstore to be together. They also discover that the old recluse knew about Jesse's family but drew the wrong conclusion from his observations. Jesse and Cat have to find the girls because they feel responsible for their kidnapping.


Cat learns more about her past in this story and more about her powers. Trick can wipe out memories; Gray can track vampires; and Cat can call felines to her. She feels that she was shorted on the cool powers front. She also learns that she can see the past when she touches blood and uses it to help find the kidnapped girls.


This was an exciting romance about two young people who won't be separated and will do anything to be together. Young romantics will really enjoy this one. 


Favorite Quote:
My heritage meant nothing to me. I didn't want to be a vampire, a vampire hunter, or anything else besides a normal human girl. Jesse wanted to be human again, too. So if there was some way for us to be normal again, I was going to find it.
I received this eARC from Flux via NetGalley. You can buy a copy of the book here.

Friday, June 29, 2012

Friday Memes: Dead of Night by Lynn Viehl

Happy Friday everybody!!
Book Beginnings on Friday is now hosted by Rose City Reader. The Friday 56 is hosted at Freda's Voice. Check out the links above for the rules and for the posts of the participants each week.


Don’t dig for your favorite book, the coolest, the most intellectual. Use the CLOSEST.

This week I am reading Dead of Night by Lynn Viehl. This is the second book in the Youngbloods series. I received this eARC from Flux via NetGalley. It will be published on July 8. Here is the description:

True love . . . and an undying obsession

Catlyn Youngblood has a secret life. Despite being a natural-born vampire hunter like her two older brothers, Cat has fallen for Jesse—an ageless boy from a centuries-old vampire clan.

Cat’s job cataloguing rare, mystical texts at a bookstore allows her to meet with Jesse alone every evening. But when girls who look disturbingly similar to Cat start disappearing from town, Cat and Jesse discover frightening clues to their whereabouts within the book collection. Together, they must stop a crazed man from realizing his dark scheme— one that would claim Cat’s life. 
Beginning:
Most people have two lives. One is the life we carry on in the open where everyone can see it.
Friday 56:
"I was thinking that we could put something inside the cabin," I said. "It would just have to be light-proof, and big enough for you to get inside. That way we could leave the outside of the cabin like it is, as camouflage."

This is a very modern day version of Romeo and Juliet except Romeo is almost a vampire and Juliet is from a noted vampire hunting family. Neither family is pleased that two have fallen in love.

Thursday, June 28, 2012

ARC Review: Dark Companion by Marta Acosta

Dark Companion
Author: Marta Acosta
Publication: Tor Teen; First Edition edition (July 3, 2012)


Description: Orphaned at the age of six, Jane Williams has grown up in a series of foster homes, learning to survive in the shadows of life. Through hard work and determination, she manages to win a scholarship to the exclusive Birch Grove Academy. There, for the first time, Jane finds herself accepted by a group of friends. She even starts tutoring the headmistress’s gorgeous son, Lucien. Things seem too good to be true.


They are.

The more she learns about Birch Grove’s recent past, the more Jane comes to suspect that there is something sinister going on. Why did the wife of a popular teacher kill herself? What happened to the former scholarship student, whose place Jane took? Why does Lucien’s brother, Jack, seem to dislike her so much?

As Jane begins to piece together the answers to the puzzle, she must find out why she was brought to Birch Grove—and what she would risk to stay there….


My Thoughts: Jane Williams gets an unexpected opportunity in this story. She is living in foster care when she is chosen to attend the prestigious Birch Grove School for girls. She is eager to get away from her current environment and make something of herself. She does leave some friends behind. Wilde is a drug-using hooker who keeps saying that she is going to get straight and become a hairdresser. Her best friend Hosea had died of bacterial meningitis but he was a major influence on her desire to make something of herself.


Once Jane gets to Birch Grove she begins to settle in. She is lonely and wary. She is befriended by a group of the girls and she is looked after by the Headmistress - Mrs. Radcliffe. She is also dazzled by the son of the headmistress Lucian who is called Lucky. He is everything a poor lonely girl could want. He is beautiful, rich, privileged and entitled. He is also selfish and self-centered but it takes Jane quite a while to see that. She meets the other son of the headmistress too. But Jack isn't at all like his brother. He is constantly teasing her and confusing her. She doesn't know how to read him.


Then Jane learns a secret. She has been brought here to the school and given this opportunity so that she could become a Companion to Lucian. It seems that many of the people in the town have a rare genetic disorder that makes it necessary to keep them out of the sun and gives them a craving for blood. Lucian has this disorder; Jack, because he was adopted, does not. And Jane is not the first poor girl to be given this opportunity. The most recent was Bebe who disappeared without warning. Earlier another girl Clare Mason was also given the option. Clare had accepted the deal to be a companion and was the nurse at the school. She has recently committed suicide leaving her husband Mr. Mason grieving and confused.


Jane is torn between accepting the comfortable life of being a Companion - a safe place to live, all the education she wants, a family of her own - and remaining her own independent self. She is dazzled for quite a while. While I could empathize with her desire for acceptance and her crying need to belong somewhere, I thought she was too smart and too goal driven to be side-tracked for long. She throws herself into solving the mystery of Bebe's disappearance and discovers more than she wanted to know. 


This is another teenage love triangle with Jane wanting Lucky, Jack wanting Jane, and Lucky mostly wanting his own way. Part of the confusion comes because Jane is convinced that Jack really likes Hattie who is a very nice girl with the same condition as Lucky. After a lot of confusion and struggles there is a happy ending. I think readers who love the paranormal and romance with enjoy getting to know the smart and feisty Jane Williams and will empathize with her. The story has wonderful gothic overtones that are highlighted by the quotations from gothic novels of the past that begin each of the chapters.


Favorite Quote:
"So you came to see me, Halfling. I've been hoping you would."

His expression was so earnest that he almost fooled me, almost made me believe that he'd been waiting for me. "Very funny, Jack. Why would I come to see you? I'm here for Lucky." I saw the disappointment in his face--I guess since I hadn't fallen for his teasing.
I received this ARC through the Amazon Vine program. You can buy a copy here.

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Book Review: Winging It by Deborah Cooke


Winging It
Author: Deborah Cooke
Publication: NAL Trade; 1 edition (December 6, 2011)


Description: The new Dragon Diary novel from the author of Flying Blind.


Zoë Sorensson yearns to come into her powers as the only female dragon shifter. But being part of two worlds is more complicated than she expected. It's bad enough that she's the target of the Mages's plan to eliminate all shifters-but she also has to hide her true nature from her human best friend, Megan. But when Megan gets a last-minute invite to the popular kids' Halloween party-hosted by an apprentice Mage-Zoë must save the day and her best friend without revealing her fire- breathing secrets...


My Thoughts: This was another exciting episode for Zoë. She is near to her sixteenth birthday but things are not going her way. She is arguing with her best friend Meagan because she is required not to share anything with her about being a dragon. Meagan has found a new friend named Jessica who is also a math whiz and Z feels left out. She is confused about Jared, the boy she has a crush on, because he seems to be avoiding her. Her parents are having troubles and separate. And the Mages are planning something. Her father doesn't think the Mages will do anything because the dragons signed a treaty with them. Z doesn't think a treaty will be enough.


After Zoë's mother takes off for England and her father follows to try to win her back, Z is left with pretty loose supervision and some pretty big problems to solve. She learns that Meagan is a potential spellsinger like Jared and thus of great interest to the Mages. Trevor, an apprentice mage who goes to their high school, is the boy that Meagan has had a crush on forever. When he starts inviting her to things and spending time with her, Z gets worried but can't change Meagan's mind without sharing secrets she has been forbidden to share. Z has another run-in with the thunderbird Kohana but she doesn't know if she can trust what he tells her about the mages. He says that there are only four kinds of shifters left - dragon, thunderbird, wolves and leopards. But is he lying about this and working with the mages?


Things come to a head at Trevor's halloween party when the mages do some spells and capture Jessica, who is a leopard shifter, and almost capture Zoë, Meagan, and the other boy dragons who are Zoë's friends. In escaping, Zoë's secret is exposed. This makes things easier with Meagan but Meagan thinks she is strong enough to spy on the mages without being caught. 


There is a lot of excitement in this one. Z also learns more about her future as a wyvern and forges the beginnings of alliances with the wolves and the cat shifters. The supernatural groups will have to work together to defeat the mages. I can't wait to read Blazing the Trail to find out if the supernaturals can defeat the mages and to see Z  grow into her wyvern powers.  


I recommend this series to readers who love dragons and who are fans of strong heroines. 


Favorite Quote:
It said something for my state of mind that the sudden brilliant shimmer of light blue to my right reassured me. It reassured me even more when a silver-gray wolf matched my stride, his pale eyes shining with wariness. I buried my fingers in the silken fur at Derek's neck and felt the tension in him.

It was the kind of place where a person could do with a pet predator.
I bought this one because I like dragons and I like the author's adult Dragonfire novels. You can buy your copy here.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Teaser Tuesday: Dark Companion by Marta Acosta



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!
Dark Companion by Marta Acosta has worked its way to the top of my review stack. I chose this one from the Amazon Vine program. I love boarding school stories and this one is a paranormal too. Here is the description:
Orphaned at the age of six, Jane Williams has grown up in a series of foster homes, learning to survive in the shadows of life. Through hard work and determination, she manages to win a scholarship to the exclusive Birch Grove Academy. There, for the first time, Jane finds herself accepted by a group of friends. She even starts tutoring the headmistress’s gorgeous son, Lucien. Things seem too good to be true.

They are.

The more she learns about Birch Grove’s recent past, the more Jane comes to suspect that there is something sinister going on. Why did the wife of a popular teacher kill herself? What happened to the former scholarship student, whose place Jane took? Why does Lucien’s brother, Jack, seem to dislike her so much?

As Jane begins to piece together the answers to the puzzle, she must find out why she was brought to Birch Grove—and what she would risk to stay there….
Teaser:
I pressed down my fury until it metamorphosed as soft messy carbonate does into a diamond so hard it can cut through steel and with such clarity that I could use it as a lens to see the world as it truly was, cruel and capricious.

Monday, June 25, 2012

State of the Stack (June 25, 2012)


This is my monthly State of the Stack post. It is my way to keep track of my review books and to hopefully reduce the stack that I have waiting for me. I take a look at my review commitments on the last Monday of each month. Please feel free to join in and let me know the state of your stack.

Here is my Review Books Spreadsheet Yellow highlighted books are ones past their publication date that I still haven't read and reviewed. I use pink highlights for reviews due in even numbered months so that I can see at a glance how many I have for each month. Ideally, this keeps me from over-committing to review books. (Next October looks scary!)

My Physical Review Pile
Summer Reading - July-September review books
October and November review books
My Kindle Review Pile 

Here are the review books that were on my Kindle before June 1. New titles are listed in the "I Added These Books" section.
Innocent Darkness by Suzanne Lazear (August 8)
The City's Son by Tom Pollock (September 8)
Unspoken by Sarah Rees Brennan (Adobe Digital Editions, September 11)
The Paladin Prophecy by Mark Frost (September 25)
Hanging by a Thread by Sophie Littlefield (September 11)
The Assault by Brian Falkner (September 25)
The Opposite of Hallelujah by Anna Jarzab (October 9)
Throne of Glass by Sarah J. Maas (August 7)
Redemption by Veronique Launier (September 8)
Skylark by Meagan Spooner (October 1)
Big Sky Mountain by Linda Lael Miller (blog tour on August 8)
The Goddess Legacy by Aimee Carter (July 31)

I Read This Month

I read a total of 21 review books this month. Links go to my reviews if they have already been published. All the unlinked titles have scheduled reviews on one or the other of my blogs. I am about three weeks ahead right now which is a very good feeling.
  • Monument 14 by Emmy Laybourne
  • A Long Way from You by Gwendolyn Heasley
  • Lies Beneath by Anne Greenwood Brown
  • Consent to Love by Abby Wood (Adult)
  • Pie by Sarah Weeks
  • The Boy on Cinnamon Street by Phoebe Stone
  • Icon by J. Carson Black (Adult)
  • Love Is Murder by Sandra Brown (Adult) - Reviewed on Amazon, GoodReads and LibraryThing but not on my blog
  • The False Prince by Jennifer A. Nielsen
  • Whatever After: Fairest of All by Sarah Mylnowski
  • Can't Buy Me Love by Molly O'Keefe (Adult)
  • Secret Letters by Leah Scheier
  • The Hunter and the Hunted by Kelley Armstrong (Adult)
  • Darkness All Around by Doug Magee (Adult)
  • Spider's Lullaby by James R. Tuck (Adult)
  • Dark Companion by Marta Acosta
  • Dead of Night by Lynn Viehl
  • Ransom River by Meg Gardiner (Adult)
  • Deadly Pink by Vivian Vande Velde
  • Seraphina by Rachel Hartmann
  • Shadow of Night by Deborah Harkness (Adult)
I Added These Books

For publication dates of the books I received this month, please check my review books spreadsheet. You can find out about each title at your favorite book purveyor or at GoodReads. There are too many to link up individually this month.

On June 1, I got:
  • Darkness All Around by Doug Magee (Print; Blog Tour)
  • Dark Companion by Marta Acosta (Print; Amazon Vine
  • The Lost Code by Kevin Emerson (Print; Amazon Vine)
  • Dragon Justice by Laura Anne Gilman (NetGalley)
On June 4, I got:
  • Pushing the Limits by Katie McGarry (NetGalley)
On June 10, I got:
  • The Hunter and the Hunted by Kelley Armstrong (ebook)
On June 11, I got:
  • Crewel by Gennifer Albin (Print; Publisher)
  • Shadow of Night by Deborah Harkness (NetGalley)
On June 12, I got:
  • Thursday at Noon by William F. Brown (ebook, Author)
  • Dearly, Beloved by Lia Habel (NetGalley)
  • The Darkest Minds by Alexandra Bracken (NetGalley)
  • Blood and Silver by James R. Tuck (ebook; Author)
  • Spider's Lullaby by James R. Tuck (ebook; Author)
On June 13, I got:
  • The Blood Keeper by Tessa Gratton (NetGalley)
  • Seraphina by Rachel Hartman (NetGalley)
  • Eve and Adam by Katherine Applegate and Michael Grant (Print; Publisher)
  • Ransom River by Meg Gardiner (Print; Publisher)
On June 16, I got:
  • Dark Star by Bethany Frenette (NetGalley)
  • Beta by Rachel Cohn (NetGalley)
  • manicpixiedreamgirl by Tom Levette (NetGalley)
  • Strands of Bronze and Gold by Jane Nickerson (NetGalley)
  • The Assassin's Curse by Cassandra Rose Clark (NetGalley)
On June 18, I got:
  • League of Strays by L. B. Schulman (NetGalley)
  • The Shadow Society by Marie Rutkowski (NetGalley)
  • Foxfire by Karen Kincy (NetGalley)
On June 21, I got this package from Macmillan Children's Publishing Group:
  • Miss Fortune Cookie by Lauren Bjorkman
  • Emily's Dress and Other Missing Things by Kathryn Burak
  • Sapphire Blue by Kerstin Gier
  • Safekeeping by Karen Hesse
  • My Book of Life by Angel by Martine Leavitt
  • Chasing the Skip by Janci Patterson
  • Dead Girl Moon by Charlie Price
On June 22, I got:
  • Outpost by Ann Aguirre (Macmillan)
  • The Line Between Here and Gone by Andrea Kane (Harlequin MIRA for blog tour)
I am not currently reading anything from by review stack. I am filling in some gaps by reading from my TBR mountain. The next review books on the pile are:

  • Before You Go by James Preller (July 17)
  • Spark by Amy Kathleen Ryan (July 17)
  • Dragon Justice by Laura Anne Gilman (Adult; July 24)
  • The Line Between Here and Gone by Andrea Kane (Adult; July 24)
How are you doing with your reading stack?

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Stacking the Shelves (June 24, 2012)



Tynga of Tynga's Reviews is starting a new meme to spotlight the books we receive each week. She explains at her site and posts a Linky each week. 

I guarantee that your TBR pile will grow when you see all the wonderful books everyone gets. You will also discover lots of great blogs and lots of books that you won't be able to live without.


I didn't buy a book this week. But that didn't stop seventeen new books being added to my stack. The fall ARCs are apparently being sent. I received a bunch. I also got a number of ebooks for review from NetGalley for fall releases too. And, last but not least, I downloaded two free YA audiobooks from SYNC.

Here is what I got this week (All titles are linked to Amazon where you can find descriptions and purchasing options):

I got a couple of packages from Macmillan Children's Book Group this week. The big one on Thursday contained:
Sapphire Blue by Kerstin Gier (Oct. 30) - My ARC has a cover that matches the cover of Ruby Red. Although I have to say that I love the cover shown too.
Emily's Dress and Other Missing Things by Kathryn Burak (Oct. 2)
My Book of Life by Angel by Martine Leavitt (Sept. 4)
Miss Fortune Cookie by Lauren Bjorkman (Nov. 13)
Dead Girl Moon by Charlie Price (Oct. 30)
Safekeeping by Karen Hesse (Sept. 18)
Chasing the Skip by Janci Patterson (Oct. 2)
Foxfire by Karen Kincy (Oct. 8) - This one is a NetGalley book.
The Shadow Society by Marie Rutkowski (Oct. 16) is from Macmillan. I couldn't find a cover iamge online and don't think my ARC title is the finished cover. This one is from Macmillan too.
These three are from NetGalley.
League of Strays by L. R. Schulman (Oct. 1)
The Assassin's Curse by Cassandra Rose Clarke (Oct. 2)
Strands of Bronze and Gold by Jane Nickerson (March 12, 2013)
These are also from NetGalley.
manicpixiedreamgirl by Tom Leveen (April 23, 2013) - This one links to GoodReads. Amazon doesn't list it yet.
Beta by Rachel Cohn (Oct. 16)
Dark Star by Bethany Frenette (Oct. 23)
I have also been taking advantage of the SYNC Audiobooks free weekly downloads even though I have no idea when I will find time to listen to them. I got Irises by Francisco X. Stork this week and The Eleventh Plague by Jeff Hirsch last week but forgot to include it in my post then. You still have until June 27 to get Irises if you want it.

That is what I got. Even though I am very excited about all the wonderful books I got, I am really hoping for a much smaller collection next week. What did you add to the stack on your shelves?


Saturday, June 23, 2012

ARC Review: Secret Letters by Leah Scheier

Secret Letters
Author: Leah Scheier
Publication: Hyperion Book CH (June 26, 2012)


Description: Inquisitive and observant, Dora dreams of escaping her aristocratic country life to solve mysteries alongside Sherlock Holmes. So when she learns that the legendary detective might be her biological father, Dora jumps on the opportunity to travel to London and enlist his help in solving the mystery of her cousin’s ransomed love letters. But Dora arrives in London to devastating news: Sherlock Holmes is dead. Her dreams dashed, Dora is left to rely on her wits—and the assistance of an attractive yet enigmatic young detective—to save her cousin’s reputation and help rescue a kidnapped heiress along the way. 
 
Steeped in Victorian atmosphere and intrigue, this gripping novel heralds the arrival of a fresh new voice in young adult literature. 


My Thoughts: This was an exciting and entertaining historical mystery. Dora Joyce is sixteen and being raised in the house of an aunt. Her parents died of cholera but, before she passed away, her mother confessed that her father was the famous Sherlock Holmes. Dora became fascinated by the stories about him in the newspaper and became interested in meeting him and becoming a detective herself. Unfortunately, well-bred Victorian girls didn't have that as a career option. Her interest in detection just made her odd. But, when an older cousin confesses that she is being blackmailed because of some indiscreet letters she wrote before her marriage, Dora seizes the opportunity to meet Sherlock Holmes and investigate.


Cousin Adelaide and Dora travel to London but Dora meets a severe setback. As soon as she arrives she learns that Sherlock Holmes has perished in an accident in Switzerland. She almost faints and is rescued by seventeen-year-old Peter Cartwright who knew Holmes and who now works for another detective. Cousin Adelaide consults with the new detective and Dora is determined to be part of the investigation. When she "accidentally" leaves her purse behind she has an excuse to visit again. During that visit she overhears Lord Hartfield consult with the detectives about his missing daughter. 


Things happen and Dora finds herself at Hartfield's home posing as a scullery maid to try to find out who is blackmailing her cousin and what happened to Hartfield's daughter. There are lots of exciting happenings and lots of banter between Peter Cartwright and Dora. Peter and Dora work together and manage to solve both cases.


I think what I liked most about this mystery was to whole setting. I was really immersed in the Victorian mindset. Watching Dora try to work within the system made me immensely glad that I live in the 21st Century. Watching women hide their real selves from men and watching men treat women as rather helpless children was realistic to the time period but annoying to this modern woman.

I recommend this story to both mystery readers and readers who enjoy historical fiction. I don't know if a sequel is planned but, if not, I will still be thinking about a possible future for both Peter and Dora.

Favorite Quote:
I was suddenly exhausted. I wanted the comfort of my pillow, the darkness of the sheets over my head. And I didn't want to listen to this speech about my "hobby" anymore. I had heard it so many times before. My odd behavior, my hopes, my studies, they were all so strange, so alien to everyone I loved. And everyone agreed that I ought to change: my aunt, my pastor, even my dearest cousin, everyone except-except- "I met a boy outside," I told her quietly. "He handed me this card and invited you to call. Do as you please, Adelaide. I am going back to bed."
I received this eARC from Disney-Hyperion via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. You can buy a copy here.

Friday, June 22, 2012

Friday Memes: Secret Letters by Leah Scheier


Happy Friday everybody!!
Book Beginnings on Friday is now hosted by Rose City Reader. The Friday 56 is hosted at Freda's Voice. Check out the links above for the rules and for the posts of the participants each week.

Don’t dig for your favorite book, the coolest, the most intellectual. Use the CLOSEST.

Secret Letters by Leah Scheier has reached the top of my review stack. I got this one from Disney Hyperion via NetGalley. I was intrigued by the Sherlock Holmes connection. Here is the description:
Inquisitive and observant, Dora dreams of escaping her aristocratic country life to solve mysteries alongside Sherlock Holmes. So when she learns that the legendary detective might be her biological father, Dora jumps on the opportunity to travel to London and enlist his help in solving the mystery of her cousin’s ransomed love letters. But Dora arrives in London to devastating news: Sherlock Holmes is dead. Her dreams dashed, Dora is left to rely on her wits—and the assistance of an attractive yet enigmatic young detective—to save her cousin’s reputation and help rescue a kidnapped heiress along the way.

Steeped in Victorian atmosphere and intrigue, this gripping novel heralds the arrival of a fresh new voice in young adult literature. 

Beginning:
Cousin Adelaide and I were traveling to London to choose from the latest fashions of the season.
Friday 56:
"One more thing," remarked Cartwright as Lord Hartfield gathered his cloak and hat. "It would be helpful if you could send us the names of your household staff, along with their dates of hire, agency, or reference. And also, please leave your daughter's portrait behind."
What I have read so far makes me very glad to be living in the 21st Century. I would hate to be bound by the restrictions Victorian women faced. I can clearly understand Dora's frustration with the limitations society places on her.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Book Review: The False Prince by Jennifer A. Nielsen

The False Prince
Author: Jennifer A. Nielsen
Publication: Scholastic Press (April 1, 2012)


Description: THE FALSE PRINCE is the thrilling first book in a brand-new trilogy filled with danger and deceit and hidden identities that will have readers rushing breathlessly to the end.

In a discontent kingdom, civil war is brewing. To unify the divided people, Conner, a nobleman of the court, devises a cunning plan to find an impersonator of the king's long-lost son and install him as a puppet prince. Four orphans are recruited to compete for the role, including a defiant boy named Sage. Sage knows that Conner's motives are more than questionable, yet his life balances on a sword's point -- he must be chosen to play the prince or he will certainly be killed. But Sage's rivals have their own agendas as well.

As Sage moves from a rundown orphanage to Conner's sumptuous palace, layer upon layer of treachery and deceit unfold, until finally, a truth is revealed that, in the end, may very well prove more dangerous than all of the lies taken together.

An extraordinary adventure filled with danger and action, lies and deadly truths that will have readers clinging to the edge of their seats.




Watch the trailer:

My Thoughts: I have to say that I didn't much like Sage when the story began. I thought he was too arrogant and too sure that he was smarter than everyone around him. He was an orphan boy but he wasn't at all downtrodden. He was an accomplished pickpocket, thief and general rogue. I grew to like him much more as the story progressed because I saw that along with the arrogance he had a good heart and wanted the best for his country.


When he was sold by the woman in charge of the orphanage where he lived, he finally met someone who had the power of life and death over him. Conner was a noblemen and one of twenty regents of the country of Carthya. Conner was looking for an orphan boy that he could mold into a false prince to take over the kingdom and be his puppet king. Conner was unhappy with the rule of the current king because he felt that he was leaving the country vulnerable to attack from neighboring rival countries. 


Sage was just one of the boys he picked up. He also picked up Roden, Tobias, and Latamer. When Latamer says that he isn't interested in Conner's plot, Conner kills him which really convinces Sage that he is serious and dangerous. He becomes convinced that only one of the boys will live through the experience of becoming the false prince and is determined that it will be him. But he has no intention of being Conner's puppet king.


The boys are taken to Conner's estate where they are educated and tested so that Conner can determine which of the boys will be most able to take the role of the lost Prince Jaron. Conner has two servants who are in on his plan - Mott and Cregan. Mott is loyal to Conner because he believes that his plan is best for the country. Cregan is loyal because he wants what Conner has promised but he is also a cruel bully. 


Sage goes along with the program but doesn't bend to Conner's will despite beatings, imprisonment, and starvation. He is constantly sneaking out of his room and exploring the estate. He befriends a mute kitchen girl who helps him and who has a secret of her own. He also learns about the other boys even though they are all rivals for the same position. And he learns about Conner's plot and what he will do and has already done to make things turn out the way he plans.

The story is filled with intrigue, adventure, and danger. There are many twists and turns and some surprising revelations. I think that the story is complete as it stands but am still looking forward to reading the rest of the trilogy. Readers who like adventure and intrigue will enjoy this one.

Favorite Quote:
"You have a clever tongue and an arrogant tilt to you head. I'm surprised Mrs. Turbeldy hasn't beaten it out of you."

"You mustn't blame her. She beat me as best she could."

"You're a trick to figure out, Sage. Would you ever be on my side, even if I chose you above the other boys?"

"I'm only on my side. Your trick will be convincing me that helping you helps me."
I received this book from Scholastic for publicizing their new Mother Daughter Book Club. This is one of the June selections. You can buy a copy here.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Book Review: Fairest of All by Sarah Mylnowski

Whatever After: Fairest of All
Author: Sarah Mylnowski
Publication: Scholastic Press (May 1, 2012)


Description: A fresh, modern spin on a classic fairy tale--from bestselling author Sarah Mlynowski!

Mirror, mirror, on the basement wall . . .

Once upon a time my brother and I were normal kids. The next minute? The mirror in our basement slurped us up and magically transported us inside Snow White's fairy tale.

I know it sounds crazy, but it's true.

But hey -- we're heroes! We stopped Snow White from eating the poisoned apple. Hooray! Or not. If Snow White doesn't die, she won't get to meet her prince. And then she won't get her happy ending. Oops.

Now it's up to us to:
- Avoid getting poisoned
- Sneak into a castle
- Fix Snow White's story

And then, fingers crossed, find our way home.




My Thoughts: Abby is a girl after my own heart. She is ten, very concerned with fairness, wants to be a judge when she grows up, is a bossy older sister, and prefers her adventures in story books. Also, she loves exclamation points! But when she and her adventurous younger brother Jonah get sucked into a magic mirror in the basement of her old house she has to find a way to save Snow White from her evil stepmother and find her way home too.


Abby wants her stories unchangeable. When Jonah stops Snow from eating the poisoned apple, the story is changed. Abby and Jonah hatch a variety of schemes to make the story follow the pattern they both know but nothing works. The kids have lots of adventures as they travel from the dwarves' cottage to Snow White's castle. Along the way Abby does things she never thought she would be brave enough to do and learns that sometimes change is good.

The story is filled with humor and heart. I recommend it to middle grade fantasy lovers.


Favorite Quote:
"I'm going to throw it!" I yell, feeling a bit sick at the thought. "You'll be covered in burns and blisters! You won't even be the second-fairest in the land! You'll be the first ugliest!"
I received this book for review in exchange for promoting Scholastic's Mother Daughter Book Club. You can buy a copy here.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Teaser Tuesday: Fairest of All by Sarah Mylnowski

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!

Today I am reading Whatever After: Fairest of All by Sarah Mylnowski. I got this book for promoting Scholastic's new Mother Daughter Book Club. It is one of the June club books. Here is the description:
A fresh, modern spin on a classic fairy tale--from bestselling author Sarah Mlynowski!

Mirror, mirror, on the basement wall . . .

Once upon a time my brother and I were normal kids. The next minute? The mirror in our basement slurped us up and magically transported us inside Snow White's fairy tale.

I know it sounds crazy, but it's true.

But hey -- we're heroes! We stopped Snow White from eating the poisoned apple. Hooray! Or not. If Snow White doesn't die, she won't get to meet her prince. And then she won't get her happy ending. Oops.

Now it's up to us to:
- Avoid getting poisoned
- Sneak into a castle
- Fix Snow White's story

And then, fingers crossed, find our way home.
Here is my teaser:
Mom will not be happy if we wake her up. (She already got annoyed at me once today when I told her she was six minutes and forty-five seconds late picking me up at school. I didn't mean to make her feel bad. But I have a super-cool timer on my watch, and if I'm not going to use it to tell her how late she is, then what am I going to use it for?)



Monday, June 18, 2012

YA Blog Hop (June 18, 2012)


The Crazy Bookworm

This is the first time that I am participating in The Crazy Bookworm's YA blog hop. I chose to take part this week because I have some extra time (It's summer vacation for this school media specialist.) and I wanted to know how others answered this week's question:
What book was it that ignited your love for reading?
I can't pick just one. I remember visiting the public library when I was in grades 5 & 6 because the school I attended in the morning was only a couple of blocks away. I would come home with stacks of books and disappear into my room until they were all read. I can't remember most of the books I read but I do remember The Four Story Mistake by Elizabeth Enright. I so wanted to live in that house!

When I was in seventh and eighth grade I was attending a different school downtown with my brothers. We would go to the public library after school and wait until my dad was finished with work to take us home. Yes, we were those kids who used the library as a babysitter. I remember reading Time of the Great Freeze by Robert Silverberg each day at the library because, for some reason, I couldn't check it out. That book kindled a love for science fiction that hasn't gone away to this day.

When I was in high school I was still a reader. I discovered Georgette Heyer's Regency romances in my school library. I think The Nonesuch was the first one I read. That started my love for Regency romances that soon expanded into love for all sorts of romances. There was a used bookstore next door to the Duluth Public Library at that time that fed my need for romances by Emilie Loring, Betty Neels, and others.

I didn't stop reading in college either. The teaching collection at my college had lots of young adult books. But it was a long time ago, young adult books were so different than they are today. Most that I read were "problem novels" that always had a positive message or were thinly veiled attempts to discourage dangerous behavior. My Master's Paper was all about using young adult novels for "blibliotherapy." I read Go Ask Alice by Anonymous (drug abuse) and My Darling, My Hamburger by Paul Zindel (premarital sex).

As a school media specialist I have always tried to read a lot of the books I buy for my media centers. I love where young adult literature has gone. My students have so many more good choices than I had in high school. I am still a voracious reader reading a couple of hundred books a year.

BTW, I was surprised that so many of the books I read in the late 50s, 60s, and early 70s (my growing up years) were still in print. I don't plan to go back and read them again though. I am afraid they would no longer hold the magic they held when I first read them. Besides there are so many good books being published now that I have a never-ending TBR mountain to read.

Leave a link at The Crazy Bookworm or leave me a comment. I really want to know what book made you a reader.

Book Blogger Confessions (June 18, 2012)


Book Blogger Confessions is a new Monday meme started by Tiger at Tiger's All-Consuming Books and Karen at For What It's Worth. The purpose of the meme is best stated by Karen here:
"Tiger and I thought it might be time to start a meme to discuss some of the frustrations that are unique to book bloggers. What happens when the hobby you love becomes more of a chore?
This meme will appear on the first and third Mondays of the month. Tiger or Karen will give us a question to respond to and a linky for sharing our responses and developing community.


This week's question is: We have created a blogging time machine! Pretend you can start over. Knowing what you know now about blogging – what do you wish you did differently when it comes to creating your blog?

You know, there really isn't anything that I would have done differently. I could have picked a different name for my Inside of a Dog blog so that I wouldn't get spammed by folks wanting me to talk about veterinary medicine or dog food. But I love the Groucho Marx quote that is the basis for my blog's name. I began that blog on Jan. 24, 2008 as part of a project to learn about web 2.0 tools. I didn't really begin book blogging until Sept. 13, 2009. My first post was my excitement about Catching Fire by Suzanne Collins and included the trailer. It wasn't long before I started doing book reviews for both adult and young adult books.

This blog - Ms. Martin Teaches Media - doesn't have a really catchy name but it is a pretty good description of who I am and what I do. I don't usually talk very much about my media classes with my students but I do occasionally mention projects we do. I began this blog on Dec. 30, 2009 because I thought I would use it more to talk about my work as a school library media specialist but it hasn't worked out that way. I found that I wanted to focus on middle grade and young adult book reviews.

I might rethink the idea of supporting two blogs but I feel it is necessary. I don't necessarily want my middle grade and high school students seeing reviews for some of the adult books I read. Some things I read are well beyond their maturity level. I don't want to confuse them.

One thing that I still need to do better about both my blogs is networking. I need to connect more with other bloggers who have the same interests that I do. While I have a respectable number of followers for each blog, I could always use more.

What would you do differently if you could start again?

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Stacking the Shelves (June 17, 2012)



Tynga of Tynga's Reviews is starting a new meme to spotlight the books we receive each week. She explains at her site and posts a Linky each week. 

I guarantee that your TBR pile will grow when you see all the wonderful books everyone gets. You will also discover lots of great blogs and lots of books that you won't be able to live without.



For someone who is trying not to buy books and trying to reduce the TBR mountain, I had a terrible week. But for bookaholics, I had a great week. Here are the books I got this week:
I bought Blazing the Trail by Deborah Cooke this week because it is the third book in her Dragon Diaries series. I just read the second one and really liked it. I had to know what happens next. I don't recall seeing much about this series which is something of a shame. I think the books are well-written and dragons might be the most underutilized paranormal creature out there.

I also downloaded a free copy of the collection called The Fierce Reads Anthology. This one is put out by Tor and contains short stories by all the authors on the Fierce Reads tour. I have real all the novels so it will be good to get another glimpse into the worlds the authors created. 

Finally, I got my copy of The Golden Lily by Richelle Mead. I just read Bloodlines and can't wait to read this one. 

The rest of my haul this week are books for review.
I got Eve and Adam by Katherine Applegate and Michael Grant along with a glowing letter from Macmillan. The letter was way over the top but I remember choosing this one because it was science fiction. I don't think there is enough good science fiction being published now and have high hopes for this one. This one will be released on October 2.

I got Seraphina by Rachel Hartman from NetGalley. I chose this one for its dragons. Remember, I don't think dragons are featured enough in YA literature these days. Also I like fantasies. This one will be published on July 10.

I also got The Blood Keeper by Tessa Gratton from NetGalley. I am a fan of her work. I really liked the moody atmosphere of Blood Magic. This one will be released on August 28.
Again from NetGalley, I got The Darkest Minds by Alexandra Bracken. This one sounds like a paranormal dystopian and has an intriguing plot summary. It won't be released until Dec. 18 which seems such a long time from now. 

I also got Dearly, Beloved by Lia Habel from NetGalley. I don't usually like zombie stories but I enjoyed Dearly, Departed a lot and can't wait to read this one. This one will be released on Sept. 25.

Finally, I got a lovely purple mailing envelope from Macmillan that contained an ARC of Crewel by Gennifer Albin. This one is being highly touted by Macmillan. I think it sounds like a very interesting fantasy novel. It will be released on Oct. 16.



Those were the books I added to my TBR mountain this week. What did you add to yours?