Friday, August 31, 2012

Back to the Books Giveaway Hop

2nd Annual Back to the Book Giveaway Hop


Welcome to my spot on the Back to the Books Giveaway Hop.

I would like to give a box of YA and/or adult ARCs to one winner in the United States. The winner will select enough books from this list of ARCs and other review books to fill an Amazon A3 box (5-6 books depending on size).

Rules:
Follower of this blog
Age 13+
Resident (or have a mailing address) of the US
Fill out the form below


The winner will be chosen on Sept. 8 and notified by email. 

Friday Memes: Outpost by Ann Aguirre


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.

I am reading Outpost by Ann Aguirre this week. This is a young adult dytopia, sequel to Enclave, and a review book that will be published on Sept. 4. Here is the description:
Deuce’s whole world has changed. Down below, she was considered an adult. Now, topside in a town called Salvation, she’s a brat in need of training in the eyes of the townsfolk. She doesn’t fit in with the other girls: Deuce only knows how to fight.

To make matters worse, her Hunter partner, Fade, keeps Deuce at a distance. Her feelings for Fade haven’t changed, but he seems not to want her around anymore. Confused and lonely, she starts looking for a way out.

Deuce signs up to serve in the summer patrols—those who make sure the planters can work the fields without danger. It should be routine, but things have been changing on the surface, just as they did below ground. The Freaks have grown smarter. They’re watching. Waiting. Planning. The monsters don’t intend to let Salvation survive, and it may take a girl like Deuce to turn back the tide.
Beginning:
I woke to the cold kiss of steel on my throat.
Friday 56:
"I think so. Not that I'm an expert. I don't feel this way about everyone."
My brows went down. "I should hope not."

Thursday, August 30, 2012

ARC Review: My Book of Life by Angel by Martin Leavitt

My Book of Life by Angel
Author: Martine Leavitt
Publication: Farrar, Straus and Giroux (BYR) (September 4, 2012)

Description: When sixteen-year-old Angel meets Call at the mall, he buys her meals and says he loves her, and he gives her some candy that makes her feel like she can fly. Pretty soon she's addicted to his candy, and she moves in with him. As a favor, he asks her to hook up with a couple of friends of his, and then a couple more. Now Angel is stuck working the streets at Hastings and Main, a notorious spot in Vancouver, Canada, where the girls turn tricks until they disappear without a trace, and the authorities don't care. But after her friend Serena disappears, and when Call brings home a girl who is even younger and more vulnerable than her to learn the trade, Angel knows that she and the new girl have got to find a way out.

My Thoughts: I don't think I have ever read a novel in verse before. I was amazed at the complexity of thought and emotion that could be packed into so few words and phrases. Angel has a very powerful voice. I felt so sorry for the child who dealt with grief by stealing and who ran away to the Mall to get away from her sorrow. And even more sorry when she fell for what Call was offering. 

It is easy to see how vulnerable children can get sucked into prostitution one little step at a time. Seeing that world through the eyes of a young woman who is still clinging to a little bit of hope and goodness but seldom finding the goodness was heartbreaking. 

When Call brings home a little girl of eleven named Melli, Angel tries to protect her. She takes her out with her to her stretch of street by the gate of ten thousand happiness and has Melli hide in the shadows while she works. She is watched over by another of the women when Angel goes on her "dates." The other woman is called the Widow and has lost her name because of the drugs and the abuse she has faced on the streets. Angel tries to find her name but none of them seem right to the Widow. Still she does do what she can for the two younger girls until she is attacked and beaten.

I was disgusted by all the "normal" people who could look right through this child and not do anything. I was angry at the father who threw her away when she acted out. I hated the car loads of young men who drove through the area where Angel was and threw words and garbage at her. I hated the men who bought her but never even saw her as someone real. And I especially hated Call. He was busy trying to get a petition going to legalize prostitution and busy seeing himself as a businessman. No matter what promises he made to Angel he still didn't see her as a person worthy of respect or, even, a person at all. He tried to hold her with drugs and threats but her spirit wouldn't be held.

This was a remarkable story about a remarkable young woman in a horrible situation. It is about the power of hope. It doesn't have a happy ending. As Angel says, "there has to be the possibility of sad endings, or there couldn't be such a thing as happy endings. Endings are happy because they could have been sad." But the ending is hopeful. 

I recommend this one to thoughtful readers. The lyrical language and gritty realism will not be easily forgotten.

Favorite Quote:
I wrote
my angel wouldn't be one of the long dead
who has forgotten being alive,
who is used to sitting on a throne
and being buddies with God.

My angel would be a fresh-dead one,
still longing for chocolate cake,
still wishing she could come back
and find out who won American Idol.

That's the one I want--
just a junior one,
who might not mind saving
a girl like me.
I received this ARC from Macmillan Children's Publishing Group in exchange for an honest review. You can buy your copy here.

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Book Review: Bloodrose by Andrea Cremer

Bloodrose
Author: Andrea Cremer
Publication: Philomel; 1st ptg edition (January 3, 2012)

Description: The third and final installment of the international bestselling Nightshade trilogy!

Calla has always welcomed war. But now that the final battle is upon her, there's more at stake than fighting. There's saving Ren, even if it incurs Shay's wrath. There's keeping Ansel safe, even if he's been branded a traitor. There's proving herself as the pack's alpha, facing unnamable horrors, and ridding the world of the Keepers' magic once and for all. And then there's deciding what to do when the war ends. If Calla makes it out alive, that is. In this remarkable final installment of the Nightshade trilogy, international bestselling author Andrea Cremer crafts a dynamic novel with twists and turns that will keep you breathless until its final pages.

My Thoughts: BLOODROSE has been sitting on my shelf for a while. I didn't want the series to end and, so, I was putting off reading it. I put it off long enough that I had to play catch-up figuring out which characters were wolves and which were Searchers. It didn't take long before I was up to speed and very involved again in the struggle to defeat the Keepers and the evil Bosque Mar.

When the story begins, Calla is rescuing Ren and urging him to join with her wolves and the Searchers in the upcoming fight. Ren has always seen his Calla as his future mate and is eager to join. He is still coming to terms with the new things he is learning about his family. He has always hated his father Emile and knew that his father hated him too. He begins to understand it when he learns that his real father was a Searcher and that his mother was killed in an attempted revolt against the Keepers. He is also surprised that he has a sister among the Keepers - Adne.

Having Ren join the fight causes problems for Calla though. Now she has to juggle her relationships with Ren and Shay. She loves both of them but in different ways. She grew up thinking that Ren would be her mate but meeting Shay caused her to look at her future in a new way. She feels especially guilty when Ren tells her that he loves her and can't imagine living without her. She has to keep the two boys from each other's throat and balance things without making a decision.

The main focus of this story is protecting Shay as he gathers the pieces of the Elemental Cross which is needed to banish Bosque Mar from this world and seal the Rift that will keep him out. They travel to mountains in Switzerland, a cenote in the Yucatan, and a volcano in New Zealand to gather the pieces. They have to fight their way through Guardians under control of the Keepers at all the sites.

Once they have all the pieces the real battle can begin in Colorado. All of the characters are tested to the limit and there are losses and recoveries. The book was filled with excitement, battles, and tough decisions. I really enjoyed this story and thought that the conclusion was perfect for this trilogy.

Favorite Quote:
He put his hands on my shoulders. "Just listen to me. I'm not trying to push you away. I'm trying to give you what you deserve. Ren loves you."

"Stop saying that," I snarled. I didn't' want to hear any more about Ren loving me. I wanted Shay to take away my growing fear that he didn't want me...that maybe he'd never loved me.
I bought this autographed copy at an author signing with Andrea Cremer. You can buy a copy here.

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Teaser Tuesday: My Book of Life by Angel by Martine Leavitt

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!
This week my teaser is from My Book of Life by Angel by Martine Leavitt. This is a contemporary story, written in verse, that I received for review from Macmillan Children's Publishing Group. It will be released on September 4. Here is the description:
When sixteen-year-old Angel meets Call at the mall, he buys her meals and says he loves her, and he gives her some candy that makes her feel like she can fly. Pretty soon she's addicted to his candy, and she moves in with him. As a favor, he asks her to hook up with a couple of friends of his, and then a couple more. Now Angel is stuck working the streets at Hastings and Main, a notorious spot in Vancouver, Canada, where the girls turn tricks until they disappear without a trace, and the authorities don't care. But after her friend Serena disappears, and when Call brings home a girl who is even younger and more vulnerable than her to learn the trade, Angel knows that she and the new girl have got to find a way out.
Teaser:
Really, Serena? I said.
ha ha. really?
you think there is such a thing as angels?

She said soft, maybe.

But she meant yes really.

Monday, August 27, 2012

State of the Stack (Aug. 27, 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.  


My Physical Review Pile
August 25, 2012
My Kindle Review Pile

These books are shown in the order the were received. No links this month. You can learn about them at your favorite online bookseller or GoodReads.
The Paladin Prophecy by Mark Frost
Hanging by a Thread by Sophie Littlefield
The Assault by Brian Falkner
The Opposite of Hallelujah by Anna Jarzab
Redemption by Veronique Launier
Thursday at Noon by William F. Browne
Dearly Beloved by Lia Habel
The Darkest Minds by Alexandra Bracken
Dark Star by Bethany Frenette
Beta by Rachel Cohn
manicpixiedreamgirl by Tom Leveen
Strands of Bronze and Gold by Jane Nickerson
The Assassin's Curse by Cassandra Rose Clarke
League of Strays by L. B. Schulman
Foxfire by Karen Kincy
Sapphire Blue by Kerstin Gier
Cast in Peril by Michelle Sagara
A Royal Pain by Megan Mulry
Running Wild by Linda Howard and Linda Jones
The Lost Prince by Julie Kagawa
Run the Risk by Lori Foster
Shades of Temptation by Virna DePaul
Kept by Shawntelle Madison


I Read This Month

These are listed in the order I read them. Links go to my reviews for all that have been posted already. Otherwise, the date the review is scheduled for is listed. Young adult books are marked with an asterisk.

  • *The Templeton Twins Have an Idea by Ellis Weiner
  • *The Blood Keeper by Tessa Gratton
  • Chilled (A Bone Secrets Novel) by Kendra Elliot (Aug. 29)
  • Tears of the Jaguar by A. J. Hartley (Aug. 30)
  • *My Book of Life by Angel by Martine Leavitt (Aug. 28)
  • Garment of Shadows by Laurie R. King (Sept. 1)
  • *Outpost by Ann Aguirre (Sept. 1)
  • Taking Charge by Mandy Baggot (Sept. 5)
  • Murder in Silence by Gary Kassay (Sept. 8)
  • *The City's Son by Tom Pollock (Sept. 5)
  • Murder in Silence by Gary Kassay (Sept. 8)
  • *Darkbeast by Morgan Keyes (Sept. 12)
  • *Otherkin by Nina Berry (Sept. 19)

I Added These Books

These are listed in the order I received them. Links go to Amazon. Date received and date published are listed in parentheses. Young adult books are marked with an asterisk.


I Am Currently Reading

The next one on my stack is Redemption by Veronique Launier. I haven't started it yet because I took a short break from reading for review to re-read the In Death series by J. D. Robb.

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Stacking the YA Shelves


Tynga of Tynga's Reviews hosts this meme to spotlight the books we receive each week. I guarantee that your TBR pile will grow when you see all the wonderful books everyone gets. Here are the books I got this week.

Review:
I got a paper ARC of Unspoken by Sarah Rees Brennan. I read the eARC a while ago and loved it. When I saw that I could get a paper copy from Amazon Vine, I jumped at the chance. This book will be released on Sept. 11.

Darkbeast by Morgan Keyes was a finished copy that I received from the author for review. I really, really liked this middle grade fantasy. This one will be released on Aug. 28 and should be on all fantasy lovers' wishlists. 

Bought:

Boy and Bot by Ame Dyckman is a picture book about friendship. I intend to read it to my Kindergartners next week when I talk about getting to know new people. 

I also got Tiger's Voyage by Colleen Houck. I read the first two books in this series on my Kindle before they were available as print books. I had been waiting until I could get this one for a bargain price and finally did.

What did you get this week?

Saturday, August 25, 2012

ARC Review: The Blood Keeper by Tessa Gratton

The Blood Keeper 
Author: Tessa Gratton
Publication: Random House Books for Young Readers (August 28, 2012)


Description: Paranormal romance fans who are looking to up the ante will be drawn to this tale of horror, fantasy, and romance. For Mab Prowd, the practice of blood magic is as natural as breathing. It's all she's ever known. Growing up on an isolated farm in Kansas with other practitioners may have kept her from making friends her own age, but it has also given her a sense of purpose—she's connected to the land and protective of the magic. And she is able to practice it proudly and happily out in the open with only the crows as her companions. Mab will do anything to keep the ancient practice alive and guard its secrets. But one morning while she is working out a particularly tricky spell she encounters Will, a local boy who is trying to exorcise some mundane personal demons. He experiences Mab's magic in a way his mind cannot comprehend and is all too happy to end their chance meeting. But secrets that were kept from Mab by the earlier generations of blood magicians have come home to roost. And she and Will are drawn back together, time again by this dangerous force looking to break free from the earth and reclaim its own dark power.


My Thoughts: THE BLOOD KEEPER is breathtaking. Gratton weaves three viewpoint characters into a story of love, magic, and menace. Two of the characters are named and one slowly reveals herself to us as the story progresses.


Mab is the newly chosen Deacon after the death of her mentor and father figure Arthur. His last directive to her was to destroy a bed of roses that was tended by his late wife. Mab has grown up under Arthur's tutelage learning magic and tending the land by renewing wards and ending curses. Her magic is based on bloodletting and powered by her blood. In an effort to learn about the rose bed before destroying it she creates a homunculus to tell her what the roses' secrets are. It escapes and Mab has to chase it.


Enter Will who is in the summer before his senior year, grieving the death of his brother Aaron, coming to terms with being a reluctant hero after saving a friend from drowning, and trying to plan his own future which conflicts with the future in the military that has been laid out for him. Saving his friend from drowning has left him with nightmares which he attempts to combat by revisiting the scene. There he encounters the homunculus and, while trying to subdue it, gets injured by it. Will and Mab meet and his is fascinated by her unique approach to life. Will soon gets sick with a strange illness and goes to Mab for help. He has taken on the curse and Mab tries magical means to cleanse him.


The story is told with each chapter from a different point of view. The third point of view begins with an unnamed narrator. It tells of that person coming to live with Gabriel and Arthur after a magical accident that left her an orphan. She is looking for a home and a place of peace. It is pretty clear that this portion of the story takes place in the past. We gradually learn about the two men and their different approaches to magic. We also watch our narrator - now identified as Evelyn Sonnenschein - fall in love with Arthur and see him love her in return. And we see Gabriel come in and out of their lives and watch his jealousy grow until he tries to do the unthinkable.

When the two story lines - past and present - come together the tension and danger amps up for Mab and Will. I was fascinated by the blood magic which was the center of Mab's life. This system of magic was very realistic. I loved that magic wasn't easy and that it had a cost. I also loved that both Mab and Will did a lot of self-exploration in this story and that both grew during the course of it.

The writing was emotional and descriptive. Each character had a unique voice and writing style. I wouldn't have needed the chapter titles to know who was speaking. I think my young adult lovers of the paranormal will really enjoy this story. I can't wait to share it with them.


Favorite Quote (taken from the ARC and may not be final):
"Mab." I grabbed her shoulders. "What." I hunched over to put my eyes right level with hers. "Are." I pulled her closer. "You--talking--about?"

Mab smiled with her teeth. "Magic."

"Magic," I repeated. I didn't let her go. I was too stuck.

Her grin faded until it was only a pretty smile. Mab cupped her hands between us. "Magic," she said again. And a ball of fire sparked to life in her palms.

I threw myself back, hit the table hard with my hip.
I got this eARC from Random House Books for Young Readers via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. You can buy your copy here.

Friday, August 24, 2012

Friday Memes: The Blood Keeper by Tessa Gratton


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.


Today I am reading The Blood Keeper by Tessa Gratton. I received this eARC from Random House via NetGalley. I liked Blood Magic and am eager to read this book too. Here is the description:
Paranormal romance fans who are looking to up the ante will be drawn to this tale of horror, fantasy, and romance. For Mab Prowd, the practice of blood magic is as natural as breathing. It's all she's ever known. Growing up on an isolated farm in Kansas with other practitioners may have kept her from making friends her own age, but it has also given her a sense of purpose—she's connected to the land and protective of the magic. And she is able to practice it proudly and happily out in the open with only the crows as her companions. Mab will do anything to keep the ancient practice alive and guard its secrets. But one morning while she is working out a particularly tricky spell she encounters Will, a local boy who is trying to exorcise some mundane personal demons. He experiences Mab's magic in a way his mind cannot comprehend and is all too happy to end their chance meeting. But secrets that were kept from Mab by the earlier generations of blood magicians have come home to roost. And she and Will are drawn back together, time again by this dangerous force looking to break free from the earth and reclaim its own dark power.
Beginning:
This is a love letter. And a confession.
Who wouldn't have to keep reading after an opening like that?

Friday 56:
I was avoiding sleep and nightmares by fighting electronic half-lion monsters online with my soccer team's keeper.
What is causing the nightmares?

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Book Review: Blazing the Trail by Deborah Cooke

Blazing the Trail
Author: Deborah Cooke
Publication: NAL Trade (June 5, 2012)


Description: From the author of the Dragonfire Novels comes a new series about the next generation of shape-shifting dragons—they’re ready to lead their pack.


It’s almost Valentine’s Day, and Zoë Sorensson’s love life is heating up. Cute, loyal, and understanding, wolf shifter Derek is pretty much the perfect guy. He likes Zoë, and he knows what it’s like to have to keep a secret. Yet, Zoë can’t help but wish it was rebel rocker Jared asking her to the Valentine’s dance instead. But Jared’s too busy playing hot and cold with her heart, calling Zoë his dragon girl one minute and then taking special interest in her best friend the next.
Zoë is just about ready to breathe fire, especially once she uncovers a new threat that targets her friends. Although Zoë thought the Mages were defeated, they’re back and have invoked an old spell to give them new power—they plan to eliminate all shape shifters on the night of the big dance. Now, Zoë must lead an alliance of young shifters to battle the Mages and figure out exactly what—and who—she wants, before it all goes up in smoke…


My Thoughts: This is the third book in the Dragon Diaries series. If you are sensitive to spoilers, you won't want to read beyond the first paragraph. For new readers, then, this is a series whose main character Zoë is the only female dragon shifter and who is also sixteen. Both would cause enough problems on their own but add in a group of human mages who are determined to wipe out all the remaining shifters and Zoë and her friends have lots of extra pressure.


Things should be going well for Zoë. She and her friends have managed to defeat the adult Mages by destroying their hive mind and capturing the NightBlade which deprived any remaining mages of their power. She has formed an alliance with the wolves, the cats, and the Thunderbirds to destroy the NightBlade. Her best friend Meagan had discovered that she has magical powers as a spellsinger and learned about Zoë being a dragon shifter. Zoë has gotten her driver's license and the use of her mom's car while her parents are on vacation.


But all is not rosy, Zoë still has to deal with the school bully Suzanne who is sure that Zoë is keeping secrets. She has to deal with Trevor who is an apprentice mage and determined to carry on with the Mages' goals. Trevor is determined to release the ShadowEaters and become one too. She has boyfriend troubles too. She is torn between Derek who is a wolf shifter and who is sweet, thoughtful, protective, quiet and intense but who likes Zoë more than she likes him and Jared who is older, a rebel, a member of a rock band, a spellsinger, and who blows hot and cold leaving Zoë confused about whatever sort of relationship they might have.  Zoë is also just coming into her Wyvern powers and they seem more confusing than helpful right now. 


This story is full of adventure and danger as Zoë and company have to find a way to defeat the ShadowEaters and destroy the NightBlade. Zoë also has to find a way to keep her alliance together when jealousy, secrets, and conflicting goals try to destroy it. 


I really like Zoë's voice in this one. She is a pretty realistic sixteen-year-old with the added problem of learning to be the Wyvern for the dragon shifters. She is constantly switching between mundane problems like homework and exotic problems like the threat to wipe out all shifters. As the story is told in the first person, we really get to see all of Zoë. I enjoyed her quirky voice and her asides to the readers. 


I think readers will love getting to know Zoë and will be rooting for her to solve all the problems. Because I think this series hasn't received as much publicity as many of the other paranormal series, this is one series that I will be promoting in my high school media center this fall. 


Favorite Quote:
"I'm trying to apologize," said Derek, sounding a bit hesitant.

"Try harder," I suggested, but my own tone had softened. "I made a mistake and I know it. I won't do it again. Don't you think tasting death was enough negative reinforcement?"
I bought this one. You can buy a copy here.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

ARC Review: The Templeton Twins Have an Idea by Ellis Weiner

The Templeton Twins Have an Idea
Author: Ellis Weiner
Publication: Chronicle Books (August 15, 2012)


Description: Suppose there were 12-year-old twins, a boy and girl named John and Abigail Templeton. Let's say John was pragmatic and played the drums, and Abigail was theoretical and solved cryptic crosswords. Now suppose their father was a brilliant, if sometimes confused, inventor. And suppose that another set of twins—adults—named Dean D. Dean and Dan D. Dean, kidnapped the Templeton twins and their ridiculous dog in order to get their father to turn over one of his genius (sort of) inventions. Yes, I said kidnapped. Wouldn't it be fun to read about that? Oh please. It would so. Luckily for you, this is just the first in a series perfect for boys and girls who are smart, clever, and funny (just like the twins), and enjoy reading adventurous stories (who doesn't?!).


My Thoughts: Middle graders who are fans of Vordak the Incomprehensible and books of that ilk will really enjoy this story. The broad humor will appeal to them. The very conceited narrator who is constantly "educating" the reader with snarky asides provides much of the humor in this story.


John and Abigail Templeton are 12-year-old twins. There mother has just died and their father who is a university professor and inventor has become very sad and reclusive. It isn't until the kids convince their dad that they need a dog that he begins to come around. Walking  Cassie the fox terrier gets him out of the house and ready for a change. 


Professor Templeton is invited to work at Tickeridge-Baltock Institute of Technology - better known as Tick-Tock Tech - and work on his inventions there. Once there he comes into contact with the villainous Dean D. Dean who was the only student he ever failed and who is convinced that he is the real inventor of the Personal One-Man Helicopter. 


Dean D. Dean and his identical twin brother Dan D. Dean kidnap John and Abigail in order to convince Professor Templeton to sign over all rights to the invention to him. fortunately our young hero and heroine use their skills at cryptic crosswords (Abigail) and playing the drums (John) in order to defeat these nefarious villains.


All of the characters are over-the-top personalities from the handsome but evil Dean brothers to the kids' new nanny Nanny Nan Noonan who is convinced that whenever the kids are quiet it is only because they are trying to get away with something. The narrator of the story is especially over-the-top


The way the book is designed also adds to the humor. My ARC didn't have the finished drawings but the sketches already added to the fun. The chapter titles and the Questions for Review at the end of each chapter just extended the humor. 


I can see my middle school students really enjoying both the humor and the adventure in this story. 


Favorite Quote:
The fox terrier lives in a constant state of unbelievable and unnecessary excitement. It runs and spins and wags its little tail like a metronome that has lost its mind. When you bring out the leash to take it for a walk and you tell it to "Sit!," it proceeds to leap straight up into the air, like a dolphin in a SeaWorld show, over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over until you finally give up and say, "Oh, for goodness' sake," and you just hold it down and clip on its leash. You may do this four thousand times over the course of five years and it will never, ever sit.
I got this one from Amazon Vine in exchange for an honest review. You can buy a copy here.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Teaser Tuesday: Blazing the Trail by Deborah Cooke


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!

Blazing the Trail by Deborah Cooke has been taunting me from my TBR mountain. This week I succumbed to the temptation to read this third book in Cooke's young adult series about dragon shifters. Here is the description:
t’s almost Valentine’s Day, and Zoë Sorensson’s love life is heating up. Cute, loyal, and understanding, wolf shifter Derek is pretty much the perfect guy. He likes Zoë, and he knows what it’s like to have to keep a secret. Yet, Zoë can’t help but wish it was rebel rocker Jared asking her to the Valentine’s dance instead. But Jared’s too busy playing hot and cold with her heart, calling Zoë his dragon girl one minute and then taking special interest in her best friend the next. Zoë is just about ready to breathe fire, especially once she uncovers a new threat that targets her friends. Although Zoë thought the Mages were defeated, they’re back and have invoked an old spell to give them new power—they plan to eliminate all shape shifters on the night of the big dance. Now, Zoë must lead an alliance of young shifters to battle the Mages and figure out exactly what—and who—she wants, before it all goes up in smoke…
Teaser: 
Of course, I have this habit of falling hard for guys who don't fall for me. I did it first with Nick, another dragon shifter, and I'm pretty sure I've done it again. 

Monday, August 20, 2012

Book Blogger Confessions (August 20, 2012)

Book Blogger Confessions is a Monday meme started by Tiger at Tiger's All-Consuming Books and Karen at For What It's Worth. With Tiger moving away and changing the focus of her blogging, Pam from Midnyte Reader will be joining with Karen to host this meme. 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. One of the hosts will give us a question to respond to and a linky for sharing our responses and developing community.

This week's question is: Have you ever loved a book that you know is not a great literary gem? Maybe it's filled with spelling errors, tired cliches, and is utterly cheestastic but you loved it anyway.
How do you handle that as a blogger who is used to critical thinking and analysis? Do you pretend you never read the book - never to be reviewed or added to your Goodreads shelf :-)?

Do you write a review but maybe apologize and make excuses as to why you enjoyed it or are you bold and proud of any book you enjoyed?


Umm...this bunch of questions is so full of assumptions that I think I will try to deal with it one question at a time.

Have you ever loved a book that you know is not a great literary gem?

Yes, of course. I spend a whole lot of my mid-20s to mid-30s reading Harlequin and Loveswept series romances. I can't think that any of them won or would win any awards outside the Romance genre. I still have some very fond memories of many of the books I read in that phase of my reading life. And many of the authors I learned to love there have moved into the romantic suspense genre or the paranormal genre and are now best-selling authors. You might have heard of Jayne Ann Krentz or Nora Roberts or Elizabeth Lowell; all of them were authors I first met in the romance series I read voraciously. 

Maybe it's filled with spelling errors, tired cliches, and is utterly cheestastic but you loved it anyway.

Umm...nope. Grammar and spelling errors are a sure way to make me not complete a book. Cliches done well are perfectly acceptable to me. But they have to be done well. Boy meets girl is a tried and true cliche but I still like reading romances. I know the destination - happily ever after - but a skilled author can make me love the journey. 

I'm not sure what "utterly cheestastic" really means but a well-written story with engaging characters will keep me reading no matter how unlikely the situations. After all, I have never met a werewolf or a vampire but that doesn't stop me from reading paranormals or urban fantasy. Again, it is the skill of the author that makes the difference.

How do you handle that as a blogger who is used to critical thinking and analysis?

Wait just a minute here! I have never claimed to be "used to critical thinking and/or analysis." I am a voracious and eclectic reader who gives my thoughts about the books I read. I might suggest an audience for the book and say what I liked or didn't like in a story. But I am not an English major who has been educated in literary criticism. I majored in Geography!

Anyone looking at my blog for an analysis of style or plotting will be very disappointed. I am looking for a story that is emotionally engaging. It has to resonate with me. I really don't know why some books work for me and others don't. I can only say if a book does or doesn't. Again, I don't know how to analyze the elements of a book to discuss plotting or pacing or characterization but I know if a book works for me.


Do you pretend you never read the book - never to be reviewed or added to your Goodreads shelf :-)?


There are some books that I read but don't review. Sometimes I have nothing to say about the book. Sometimes the book doesn't fit in with the sort of thing I write about on either of my blogs. All of the books I own are listed on my LibraryThing account. Of course, I am also getting pretty old and forgetful. I may just have forgotten that I ever read a book. I don't pretend I haven't when I have or pretend I have when I haven't. I really don't care what anyone thinks about the books I choose to read.

Do you write a review but maybe apologize and make excuses as to why you enjoyed it or are you bold and proud of any book you enjoyed?

I am more on the bold and proud side of that equation. I may call some books "guilty pleasures" but the key word in the phrase is "pleasure." Authors write books to entertain. (Leaving aside for now the many other reasons why authors might choose to write a book.) If a book entertains me, it is a success. And, if I liked it, odds are good that I am not alone. Great literary merit or numerous awards aren't any guarantee that I will like the book. 

Enough with the rambling...

In summary, I am a voracious reader who writes about the books I read. I don't analyze the books I read or critique them. I am not an expert in literary criticism and don't pretend to be. I read for entertainment and find lots of different genres of books entertaining. 

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Stacking the YA Shelves (August 19, 2012)



Tynga of Tynga's Reviews hosts this meme to spotlight the books we receive each week. I guarantee that your TBR pile will grow when you see all the wonderful books everyone gets.

I added just two books to my YA stack this week.
I bought a paperback copy of Chime by Frannie Billingsley. I have heard good things about the book, like the opening sentence, love the cover, and recall the controversy when this book was nominated for the National Book Award. Now I just need to find time to read it!

I received Otherkin by Nina Berry for review. I won it as part of the LibraryThing Early Reviewers program. It was published on July 31 and was part of the June batch at LibraryThing. I was starting to think that it had been lost in the mail. But I was excited to receive a finished copy of this book instead of an ARC. 

Has anyone read either of these? What did you think? What did you add to your stack this week?

Saturday, August 18, 2012

ARC Review: Monstrous Beauty by Elizabeth Fama

Monstrous Beauty
Author: Elizabeth Fama
Publication: Farrar, Straus and Giroux (BYR) (September 4, 2012)

Description: Fierce, seductive mermaid Syrenka falls in love with Ezra, a young naturalist. When she abandons her life underwater for a chance at happiness on land, she is unaware that this decision comes with horrific and deadly consequences. Almost one hundred forty years later, seventeen-year-old Hester meets a mysterious stranger named Ezra and feels overwhelmingly, inexplicably drawn to him. For generations, love has resulted in death for the women in her family. Is it an undiagnosed genetic defect . . . or a curse? With Ezra’s help, Hester investigates her family’s strange, sad history. The answers she seeks are waiting in the graveyard, the crypt, and at the bottom of the ocean—but powerful forces will do anything to keep her from uncovering her connection to Syrenka and to the tragedy of so long ago.

My Thoughts: Add this one to the list of really good mermaid books! This story moves around through time and one needs to pay attention to the chapter titles which tell us when we are. The prologue introduces us to Syrenka who is a mermaid. She is fascinated with humans and spends a lot of time observing them. But she learns that she is dangerous to the creatures she observes. 


Then the story shifts to the present and introduces Hester who is a seventeen-year-old history buff who is determined never to fall in love, marry and have children. She is afraid that she has a hidden genetic fault that would cause her to die after having a baby. After all, her mother and grandmother died shortly after they had their first child. She has a best friend named Peter who, I think, would like to be a boyfriend. I am not quite sure if Hester realizes this and is ignoring it or whether she is genuinely oblivious to his feelings. 


The old story tells about Ezra, budding naturalist, meeting Syrenka and falling in love with her in 1872. But local fishermen warn him away from her because of a long history of fishermen dying after interacting with those sea creatures. Ezra ignores the advice. When Syrenka is caught in a fisherman's net and Ezra almost drowns, Syrenka is attacked by the fisherman but kills him and becomes human. She has a baby and tries to give it to the sea but the baby is found by the widow of the fisherman she kills. Ezra and Syrenka, who has taken the name Sarah, marry but the widow of the fisherman is jealous of her and tries to convince the local pastor to perform an exorcism which goes incredibly wrong. 


In the present, Hester meets Ezra in a sea cave and develops an incredible attraction to him that causes her to do some uncharacteristic things like stealing a rare book from the library and stealing an old doll from a historical museum. This story is a mystery as Hester tries to learn about her family's past and the curse that is on it.


I thought the whole mythology about mermaids and the curse was well-done. I found the end of the story to be very intense. I think my students who like romance, paranormals, and interesting characters will enjoy this story. 

Favorite Quote (taken from the ARC and may not be final):
This was not a grazing touch, and the longer she held his hand the more there was a sensation of streaming, of flowing--she couldn't put words to it. It was as if passion itself were coursing from him through her core, filling her up, and bursting into the cool, damp air around her. It was unbearably pleasurable, and also frightening.
I got this ARC for review from Macmillan Children's Publishing Group. You can buy your copy here

Friday, August 17, 2012

Friday Memes: Monstrous Beauty by Elizabeth Fama

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.


I am reading Monstrous Beauty by Elizabeth Fama this week. I first put this one on my review stack on Dec. 6, 2011. It has finally reached the top of the stack because it will be published on September 4. I got this one from Macmillan Children's Publishing Group. Here is the description:
Fierce, seductive mermaid Syrenka falls in love with Ezra, a young naturalist. When she abandons her life underwater for a chance at happiness on land, she is unaware that this decision comes with horrific and deadly consequences. Almost one hundred forty years later, seventeen-year-old Hester meets a mysterious stranger named Ezra and feels overwhelmingly, inexplicably drawn to him. For generations, love has resulted in death for the women in her family. Is it an undiagnosed genetic defect . . . or a curse? With Ezra’s help, Hester investigates her family’s strange, sad history. The answers she seeks are waiting in the graveyard, the crypt, and at the bottom of the ocean—but powerful forces will do anything to keep her from uncovering her connection to Syrenka and to the tragedy of so long ago.
Beginning:
Syrenka wanted Pukanokick.
My first thought is "Oh, no. What unusual and difficult names." What do you think?

Friday 56:
He used the knife to cut away some of the net entangling Syrenka's tail. The slickness of her body was sensual and inviting.
I haven't gotten to this part of the book yet but I am not foreseeing anything good happening here.