Friday, April 30, 2010

Book Blogger Hop #3!

Each week Crazy for Books hosts a Book Blogger Hop, where all those interested in book blogging can find other blogs out there that they might like.  Using this Hop I have found some really great book blogs. It is a great place to locate new blogs that interest you or find old blogs you didn't know were out there.  It is also a great place to make new blogger friends.  So go check it out and find some new great blogs to follow!  Last week I found several great new blogs and met some new people!


Here are a few of the great blogs I found last week!





And many others!  Check out the Hop!




Book Blogger Hop

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Thursday Thoughts #1: Are Our Book Reviews Too Nice?

Sarah McCarry in her article for the The Huffington Post has accused YA book bloggers of being too nice in our reviews, not giving a fair critique of the material, and giving women authors preferential treatment.  That's a big accusation because she is criticizing the integrity of the people out there blogging.

Faking Nice in the Blogosphere: Women and Book Reviews

I admit, I rarely post reviews for books that are under 3 stars.  My reason for that is pretty obvious; if it was that bad I probably didn't finish it.  I give a book about 30-50 pages to hook me, if it doesn't get any better from that point, I will put it down and move on to something else.  I also won't review the book.  I might make a comment on Goodreads about why I didn't finish it, but I won't write a complete review for it because I didn't finish it and I don't think I should write a review for a book that I didn't read in its entirety. 

Am I nicer to women authors?  I don't think so.  I loved Jay Asher's Thirteen Reasons Why (5 star review) and really enjoyed Scott Westerfeld's Leviathan (4 star review) as well as Jame's Dashner's The Maze Runner (4 star review).  And those are just the books I have read this year.  Of the 23 books I have completed this year 5 titles have scored 3 stars or less (note all five of those books were written by women).  I pick up a lot of books.  I have 12 books sitting on my desk right now, and if I am lucky, I might finish reading half of those, but if it doesn't hook me, or I am not interested I will put it down.

Does that mean that my reviews are biased?  I don't honestly know, but with my time as limited as it is, why should I force myself to read for "pleasure" a book that I can't stand or am not interested in?  If it is a book I promised to read either for a review, or for the book award committee I am on, I committed to reading those books completely so I will force myself through one I don't like.  In those cases, I will publish the review even if I thought it deserved only one star or less. 

I will admit to reading more books by women than by men, but that is where my interest lies.  I have always preferred to read books where the main character is female, and most of those books are by women authors.  Is that being unfair?  Perhaps, but that is a personal preference. 

My point is summary judgments can not be made about a person's reviews just because they haven't blogged about book that have less than 3 stars.  There might be a legitimate reason for that.  If I finish it, I review it.

Just out of curiosity I created a graph.  Out of the 110 books I have written complete reviews for on Goodreads, here is the result:


Looks like I give a lot of 4 star reviews.  But remember, if I don't like it, I often don't finish it.



So do you think YA Blogger are biased and write reviews that are too nice?  Am I being too nice in my reviews?  I really want to know what you think!

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Book Review: Leviathan by Scott Westerfeld

Title: Leviathan
Author: Scott Westerfeld
Publisher: Simon Pulse / Simon and Schuster Audio
Publication Date: 09/30/2009
Genre: Steampunk, Science Fiction, Historical Fiction, Action Adventure Fiction
Audio checked out from library.  Print version donated by publisher.


Leviathan (Leviathan, #1) Leviathan by Scott Westerfeld


My rating: 4 of 5 stars
In an instant, Prince Alek’s life changes forever. His father Archduke Franz Ferdinand, heir to the throne of Austria-Hungary, and his mother are assassinated while visiting Serbia. On the run with a few of his father’s most trusted men, Alek seeks to escape from those who would kill him or make him a pawn.

Dylan Sharp, a young Midshipman aboard the Leviathan is more than he appears to be. Dylan is actually Deryn, a girl who longed to fly who disguises herself as a boy in order to enlist in the navy. When the Leviathan is attacked by the Germans and forced to crash land in Switzerland, Deryn meets a most unusual young Austrian who may or may not be her enemy.

In a world where Darwinist creations such as the whale of the Leviathan roam the skies, and Clanker machines walk on two, four, six, or even eight legs, you never know what will happen next.

Westerfeld refers to this book as being steampunk, a mixture of history, and science fiction. Where advanced technology may appear in an historical era. That is indeed the best description of what this novel is. It takes place right at the start of World War I, after the death of Archduke Franz Ferdinand and his wife.

The book takes a while to settle into, because while I know the history, the mechanics Westerfeld has created and the Darwinist creatures are completely unfamiliar territory, and it takes a while to learn the rules of the world he has created. Despite that the action pact sequences keep you reading and curious about what will happen next.

There are two different philosophies at work in these conflicting powers. England is a Darwinist power and they manipulate DNA to create animals that are designed to do the same thing a machine would do. For instance, the Leviathan is a genetically engineered hydrogen breathing animal that is a complete ecosystem. Austria-Hungary and other Germanic nations are Clunkers and use machines instead of the Darwinist creatures. In several instances they refer to the Darwinists as abhorrent and ungodly. These two different philosophies escalated the differences between the two sides in the war.

While the book was action packed, it did take a while to get used to the world Westerfeld has created. The book has interesting drawings to accompany the text which is helpful in visualizing the world Westerfeld created.

The abrupt ending was a bit irritating because I prefer books to have a concrete ending even if they are going to have a sequel. This felt like an end of the television series cliffhanger, leaving me wondering what will come next.

I did listen to this book on audio in addition to perusing the text. The audio version is narrated by Alan Cumming and for the most part is really well done. I did feel that the narration of Alek made him sound younger than a fifteen year-old boy should, but that is easily overlooked as the novel progresses. Deryn, Count Volga, and the narration of the other characters were extremely well done.

Overall, I felt this was an interesting book and one I am anxious to see how it ends. In some ways it reminded me of Eoin Colfer’s Airman, a book I also enjoyed. I just wish I had gotten more of a concrete ending to this book. I will pick up the next though, since I have to know what happens next.

View all my reviews >>

Monday, April 26, 2010

Book Review: Hex Hall by Rachel Hawkins





Title: Hex Hall
Author:  Rachel Hawkins
Publisher: Disney Hyperion Books
Publication Date: 03/02/2010
Genre: Fantasy, Paranormal Fiction
Copy checked out from library.


Hex Hall (Hex Hall, #1) Hex Hall by Rachel Hawkins


My rating: 3 of 5 stars
After a love spell goes horribly wrong, Sophie Mercer is sent to live, at Hecate Hall. There she and other teen Prodigium, shape shifters, witches, and faeries, learn to use and control their powers so they don’t attract the attention of their mortal enemies. When Sophie arrives, she discovers that something more sinister is lurking inside the protected wall of Hecate Hall, something that will put lives in danger.

At first this book came across as a tamer version of P.C. Cast’s House of Night series mixed in with a little of Rowling’s Harry Potter. In fact, the entire first half of the book left me with this feeling. Like House of Night the action takes place in a boarding school, Hecate Hall, and we even have vampires; two vampires to be exact. One is Sophie’s roommate Jenna, and the other is Lord Bryon, who is a teacher in Hecate Hall. Similar to the House of Night novels, a poet vampire is a teacher at the boarding school. On page 65 she even includes the poem by Lord Byron, “She Walks in Beauty,” that is mentioned many times in House of Night. Which, while being one of his more famous poems, really reminded me of House of Night because they use the poem there.

Sophie herself resembles the young Harry Potter we meet in Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone. Like Harry, Sophie grew up in a world outside the world of magic. The magical world is unfamiliar to her and she doesn’t understand it because she has never been a part of it. Playing the role of the wise Dumbledore like mentor is the headmistress, Mrs. Casnoff, who knows more about Sophie and her destiny than Sophie does herself. Like Dumbledore, Mrs. Casnoff provides Sophie with the bare minimum amount of information she needs and then later reveals that she knew the big secrets all along after Sophie has already discovered various truths for herself. You will find a teacher who holds a grudge against Sophie’s own father much like Snape in Harry Potter. We even have a dining hall scene and a ballroom scene that kept my mind drifting back to my time reading the Harry Potter series.

It is a hundred and six pages before we finally end day one of Sophie’s time at Hecate Hall, and it is just past this point when things begin to pick up. In the second half of the book, we begin to move into more original territory. Once this happens, the book gets more interesting and less like the two series books I mention above. This is where Hawkins's writing begins to shine.

As the book progresses, I began to enjoy her characters more. Sophie’s naiveté and inability to control what comes out of her mouth when she starts speaking, provides us with a charming and likable heroine with a refreshing dose of humor. Hawkins writes with a wonderful sense of humor, and has some pretty good laugh out loud moments:
“Sophia Mercer, “ Elodie intoned, “we have come to induct you into our sisterhood. Say the five words to begin the ritual.”
I blinked at her. “Are you freaking kidding me?”
Anna gave an exasperated sigh. “No, the five words are, ‘I accept your offer sisters.’” (pg 92)
I like that this book made me laugh, and since it picked up towards the end, I may definitely have to give the sequel a shot. Yes, this is the first book in a projected Hex Hall series, and I think that it will be interesting to see where Hawkins will take us next.

While the book had some obvious flaws, it also had many redeeming characteristics, and a way of grabbing the reader so that they want to know more. I hope now that this first novel is out of the way, and a good foundation is built, that Hawkins can give in to the creativity she showed in the second half of the book and continue to keep the surprises coming in the Hex Hall sequels.

View all my reviews

Hex Hall Discussion Questions

1. Sophie is abandoned by her father for her supposed protection. Do you believe there is anything that justifies abandoning your child?

As a mother I have to say that I would do everything in my power to keep my child safe, and with me. However, if my presence was a danger to him, I think I would leave. Given the circumstances in this novel, I think I can understand why her father abandoned her. So although I don’t like the idea of a parent being away from their child, I can understand it in this situation.

2. Did Hex Hall remind you of any other series?

YES! At the very beginning I felt like I was having flashbacks to Harry Potter and House of Night. There were some scenes, like the banquet at the beginning, and the dance scene that reminded minded me of some scenes from the HP series. Also, Sophie’s ignorance about the magical world and her place in it was also very reminiscent of HP. The vampires in the boarding school and the vampire poet had me thinking House of Night if you add in Elodie’s mean girl clique you have House of Night with witches.

3. Normally when you think of Dark Witches and White Witches, you think good and evil. This series seemed to have a different take on that all together. It almost had an apathetic take on human life with only care taken if their secret might be revealed. Do you find this disturbing or real?

I found it disturbing that they didn’t care about human life. Perhaps that could be the reason why the Prodigium are so hunted, because they don’t care if a human gets in the way of their magic and is injured or killed.

4. Looking forward to the next book, or pass on it? Why?

This is a tough question for me. While I really enjoyed the second half of the book, I am not sure it is original enough for me to keep going. I might pick up the second if I have time, but if I do, it needs to be more original, or I won’t be picking up any further sequels.

Saturday, April 24, 2010

The YA Blogger Debut Book Battle Starts Tomorrow!

If you haven't check this out yet you should go on over to The Shady Glade and find out what the YA Bloggers Debut Book Battle is all about.  The nominations are in, the judges are ready, and the brackets are posted.  If you want to see what is on the list and view the brackets, click on Brackets Complete!  Let me know what you think of the titles!  Is your favorite book on the list? 

The YA Blogger Debgut Book Battle starts tomorrow April 25th!  I wish all the first round judges good luck because you have your work cut out for you.  These are some great books!

Check out the trailer below for the complete list of titles!

Friday, April 23, 2010

Win Brightly Woven and Mist Wood

Leah Cypess and Alexandra Bracken are offering a chance to win copies of Brightly Woven and Mistwood.  Go to Alexandra Braken's blog post The One with the Amazing Contest to enter.

Book Blogger Hop!

Each week Crazy for Books hosts a Book Blogger Hop, where all those interested in book blogging can find other blogs out there that they might like.  Using this Hop I have found some really great book blogs, so this week I decided to participate for the second time. So go check it out and find some new great blogs to follow!  Last week I found several great new blogs and met some new people!

Here are two of the great blogs I found last week!

Carrie at  In the Hammock
And many others!

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Book Review: Iron Daughter by Julie Kagawa

Title: The Iron Daughter
Author: Julie Kagawa
Publisher: Harlequin Teen
Publication Date: 08/01/2010
Genre: Fantasy, Paranormal Romance
ARC read electronically from NetGalley.com


The Iron Daughter (Iron Fey, #2) The Iron Daughter by Julie Kagawa


My rating: 5 of 5 stars
Meghan made a promise and now she must keep it, but who knew how dangerous living with the Winter Fey would be. Missing her best friend Puck, and trapped in a world of ice by her own promise, Meghan must find the strength to survive in Nevernever. But when the Scepter of Seasons is stolen by the Iron Fey, the Winter court and Queen Mab believe that Summer is behind the treachery and declare war on Summer. Meghan and Ash know the truth, and once more set off on an adventure to retrieve the scepter from the iron fey and return balance between summer and winter.

The Iron Daughter begins shortly after the events in The Iron King end. Once again it sets a breakneck pace, as we travel between Nevernever, the real world, and someplace in between. Action packed and exciting, this was one book that I loathed putting down.

This volume continues with the character development of the first book. The relationships between the characters continue to grow, change, and develop and although the love triangle is similar to the one you find in Twilight and many other young adult novels, it was still interesting. The reader may even find themselves rooting for either “Team Puck” or “Team Ash” on the author’s blog, Julie Kagawa: Author, Gamer, Reader. After this book I think I may definitely be Team Ash!

I loved the first book, and the second didn't disappoint me. Favorite characters returned to make this an engrossing read. This fantasy world is well created, interesting, and a place I wouldn’t mind visiting again and again. The highest praise I can give this book, is that I can't wait until I am able to purchase for both myself and my library. This is a must have for my bookshelf, a book that I think I will want to read again and again. I can't wait to read Iron Queen in 2011.

View all my reviews


Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Sometimes You Just Have To Laugh

My mother always told me that bad things come in threes.  I got a perfect demonstration this morning.  My husband was taking our 2 year-old to daycare this morning since I had an early appointment for my physical therapy (having back spasms after being rear-ended at a red light).  He left two minutes before me and when I went to pull out of the driveway, I discovered our garage door wasn't closing. 

I called the garage door repairman, and they said they would send someone out as soon as possible.  When he arrived he pushed the button and VOILA it worked perfectly.  He said he thought it was a sensor, but since it was working didn't want to replace anything until he could tell for sure. 

As I said goodbye to the garage door repairman, I turned around to walk back into my house and discovered...the door was locked and I was stuck outside with only my cell phone (thank goodness I had that).  Apparently my 2 year-old, who has recently been playing with the doorknobs, must have figured out how to turn the lock.  (Smart little bugger--he even figured out how to open the childproof locks on the cabinets when he was 1 year-old. He used to do it for fun.)  I called my work (I work at a wonderful library) for the number of a locksmith. 

 (Angelic isn't he!)


The locksmith came and let me in the house, so I go and get ready to head to work, already a half an hour late.  I get ready for work, get in my car to leave, push the button to close the garage door...AND...nothing happens.  Back to square one and calling the garage door people again...


At this point, there is nothing left to do, but laugh at the absurdity of the situation.  My garage door works when someone who can fix it is there to work on it, and I got locked out of the house by a 2 year-old who likes to play with doorknobs.  LOL. 

Just hope that is the full three--don't want to find out what could be worse!

On the bright side...I got a little extra time to read this morning!

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Big News! YA Bloggers Debut Book Battle 2010 Nominations are Announced!

The Shady Glade has finally announced the nominations for the YA Bloggers Debut Book Battle 2010.  I am so excited about this battle because I get to be a judge!!!  YIPPY!!!

You can find out all about the battle and the nominations on her post Book Battle: Official Nominations List.  You can also view them in the book trailer below! 


Ugh!

Sorry I have been out of touch for the past couple of days.  The nice weather has caused some unpleasant side effects for me--namely allergies and sinus infections!  After a couple days of rest, countless tissues, headaches, and pronouncing all my "m's" as "b's," I had to seek antibiotics from the doc...my voice is back, but I am still not completely cured.  Don't get me wrong, I love this weather, I just could do without the allergies. 

Unfortunately, this has also caused me to fall behind on my reading schedule, and while i am still stuck on books 20 and 21 my gloating husband informed me that he is on book 28. At this point I don't think I will be able to catch up, but I will keep trying.  I have started several books, but just haven't been able to really get into them.  Hopefully once the antibiotic kicks in I might get my ambition back. 

BTW:  Does anyone out there have any great cures for sinus problems? 

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Book Blogger Hop

Each week Crazy for Books hosts a Book Blogger Hop, where all those interested in book bloggingcan find other blogs out there that they might like.  Using this Hop I have found some really great book blogs, so this week I decided to participate for the first time. So go check it out and find some new great blogs to follow!


Thursday, April 15, 2010

YALSA Announces 2010 Teens Top Ten Nominations!

The new nominations list for the 2010 Teens Top Ten Award has been released. So far I have read 10 of the nominees. They all look great though and several are on my "To Read" list. Check out the list and let me know how many you have read!

2010 YA Book Reviews

Reviews for 2010 in Alphabetical Order by Title:








Hex Hall by Rachel Hawkins 

If I Stay by Gayle Forman










Book Review: Fever 1793 by Laurie Halse Anderson

Fever 1793 Fever 1793 by Laurie Halse Anderson


My rating: 4 of 5 stars
This is a well told story of the Yellow Fever epidemic that devastated the city of Philadelphia in the year 1793. Fourteen-year-old Mattie Cook is our narrator. Her mother owns the Cook Coffeehouse in Philadelphia and Mattie helps her run the place. When her mother falls ill with Yellow fever, Mattie has to learn how to grow up fast and make choices for her own destiny. Mattie is an interesting and likable character. She isn’t perfect and is quite frank about her many flaws. She has a most wonderful grandfather although her mother can be a bit of a trial for her to bear.

Surprisingly I don’t have a lot to say about this book. It was very good, and as far as I can tell very accurate. I am currently reading Jim Murphy’s An American Plague: The True and Terrifying Story of the Yellow Fever Epidemic of 1793 and many of the events in Fever 1793 are based on actual events. Anderson includes an appendix in the back of the book with additional information about the people of the time and the epidemic.



View all my reviews >>

Book Review: Shiver by Maggie Stiefvater

Shiver (The Wolves of Mercy Falls, #1) Shiver by Maggie Stiefvater


My rating: 4 of 5 stars
When she was young, Grace was attacked by wolves and rescued by one wolf with yellow eyes. Ever since he has been her wolf and for years she has watched him in the forest not knowing that he was more than he appeared. While Grace was watching him, her wolf, a young man, Sam, trapped as a wolf in winter and a boy in winter has watched her, wanting to be close to her. When a high school student at Grace’s school is mauled by wolves, Grace and Sam’s fates begin to entwine as never before.

I’ll admit I was a bit skeptical when I first started reading this book. On a lot of levels it reminded me of Twilight and I was afraid that it was going to be another sappy werewolf/human girl romance. Shiver surprised me though. While it had a bit of a slow start, its story drew me in and I found myself cheering for the characters and hoping everything would work out. The ending even felt right. Stiefvater found the perfect moment and the perfect words for the ending of Shiver and although I know there are more to come (Linger due out in July), I felt that this one had a satisfying ending. Stiefvater’s language is poetic and her descriptions lush and vivid. Her characters are likable, yet flawed and feel like real people. The mystery pulls you through the novel and leaves you wanting more. A wonderful read.

On another note, since everything is getting compared to Twilight these days, I do have to say that this one will appeal to those Twilight fans looking for what to read next. I think, however, they will find more here than they did in Twilight.



View all my reviews >>

Book Review: If I Stay by Gayle Forman

If I Stay If I Stay by Gayle Forman


My rating: 5 of 5 stars
For a long time I did everything I could to avoid any book with a sad or even depressing story. As a rule I still turn to books that I know will end happily or at least not leave me in tears. I have never been a Lurlene McDaniel fan and in fact have always wondered at the devotion of her readers—the ones who can’t get enough of her sad romance stories. I’m not really sure why I picked up this book. It really didn’t fall into the categories I usually choose, but for some reason I have wanted to read this book for a long while.

If I Stay is an emotional roller coaster. One minute you are smiling and laughing, loving the main character, Mia and her family, and the next you are crying because of all she has lost. On a snowy day in Oregon, Mia and her family go on a drive that ends in heartache. She finds herself thrown out of her body as a result of an horrific car accident and left with the choice to live with a loss that will change her life forever or to die.

Mia’s family and friends are touchingly and memorably portrayed. The story smoothly transitions between where Mia is now, and her touching memories of her family and friends. The characters are well rounded and real and love between them and the difficulty of the decisions they make are palpable.

This book made me both laugh and cry. It gave be a better appreciation for a good tearjerker. As I read the book it made me think about my family and what is important to me, and how I would feel if I were in Mia’s position. While I won’t go out of my way to find tearjerkers from now on, I must say I was really impressed with this book.

A must read for those who like tearjerkers!


View all my reviews >>

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Rant: Most Book Challenges of 2009 According to the ALA Office of Intellectual Freedom

Book on text messaging teens prompts most book challenges of 2009


Okay, this list comes out every year, and usually there are no surprises, but this year I found myself raising my eyebrows at a couple of the reasons some of these books were challenged.  When #7 on the list My Sister's Keeper is being challenged because it is "Unsuited to Age Group" I have to ask one important question..."Didn't the people challenging this book realize that the intended audience for this book is adults?"  Sure Jodi Picoult's books have a lot of teen appeal, and there may be libraries out there that have the books in their teen sections, but isn't it a forgone conclusion that if the book is written for adults, it may have some adult content.  And speaking as an adult, I personally didn't find that the book was "Unsuited to [my] Age Group."

Then another book challenged was Stephenie Meyer's book Twilight for being "Sexually Explicit."  Am I missing something here?  This book was the tamest vampire book I have ever read and the author is Mormon.  If that is "Sexually Explicit" then some of the other books I have been reading must be classified as porn. I might be able to get on board with the "Sexually Explicit" comment if they had been talking about Breaking Dawn, but even that was tame compared to other teen books I have read.

Okay, rant over, I will step down from my soap box. One thing that did interest me was that the list differed from several of the lists in the past.  There were new titles on it and several of the titles that have been on the list year after year were no longer in the top ten.

If you want to see the top 100 most challenged books of the last ten years you can visit Top 100 Banned/Challenged Books: 2000-2009.

Great Contest at Cleverly Inked

Cleverly Inked is having a Birthday Phenomenon contest with an unbelievable amount of prizes.  If you are interested go to Cleverly Inked and visit the Birthday Phenomenon post.

Cleverly Inked Button

What I'm Reading Wednesday

Actually, since I just finished two books last night, I am finding myself between books at the moment.  I am in that period of time where you don't know which new book to start next.  I could start a book for my 2010 Debut Author Challenge, or I could read one of my committee books, or I could read one of the books I have been wanting to read just for fun.  I know I should read my committee books, but come on, sometimes a girl just wants to read for fun!

Perhaps I should try to finish Lips Touch Three Times by Laini Taylor...

So what are you reading now and what would you recommend?

Book Review: Tantalize by Cynthia Leitich Smith

Two book reviews in one day! I am on a roll! Actually it is just coincidence that I finished them on the same day.

Title: Tantalize
Author: Cynthia Leitich Smith
Publisher: Candlewick / Listening Library
Publication Date: 02/13/2007
Genre: Paranormal Fiction
Both audio and print version were checked out from library.


Tantalize (Tantalize, #1) Tantalize by Cynthia Leitich Smith


My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Quincie Morris has a lot on her mind. Since the death of her parents three years ago, Quincie and her Uncle Davidson have been running the family restaurant Fat Lorenzo’s. With the completion taking away business they decided to change the restaurant into Sanguini’s, a restaurant built around a vampire theme. When the head chef, and good friend Vaggio is murdered in the restaurant kitchen, Quincie’s best friend, Kiernan, a hybrid werewolf and the boy of her dreams, warns her that real vampires may be involved. While the police investigate Kiernan and the werewolf connection, Quincie must get the restaurant ready for its grand reopening, and hope that whoever killed Vaggio doesn’t come back for her.

I was surprised by how quick a read this was. Tantalize has a well developed story and world. Quincie is a likable character who is in love with her best friend, but worries that he will be leaving soon. As the likable new chef, Henry Johnson, gets closer to Quincie, she must try to choose between her old love, and a possible interest in the slightly older Johnson. Full of surprises this book was a fun read.

Cynthia Leitich Smith did an excellent job with her characters and her plotting. I can’t believe how fast I was drawn into this novel. While it still suffers from the Twilight vampire and werewolf phenomenon, it was still interesting and unique.

Kim Mai Guest narrates the audio version of Tantalize and does a believable job of voicing the main character. Her voices are spot on and her narration is clear. Audio is definitely a great way to enjoy this book.

Recommended for those who like paranormal fiction, vampires, and werewolves.



View all my reviews >>

Book Review: Snap by Carol Snow

Snap Snap by Carol Snow


My rating: 3 of 5 stars
Preppy and pampered Madison Sabatini has just about everything going for her. She got the job as photographer for her school newspaper, she has great friends, great clothes, and she is going on a Hawaiian vacation on her summer break with enough time left at the end of the summer to come home for the newspaper’s pool party. That is, until her parents cancel the trip and inform her that they are going to Sandyland instead. She suspects something is up with her parents, her dad isn’t talking much and her mother has been angry a lot lately. They seem to be keeping secrets from her. Then her prized camera begins to capture images that aren’t there in real life. Images of people who later suffer tragedies. Now Madison has a secret of her own, one she can only share with her new friends at the Psychic Photo store in town. Can she figure out what’s wrong with her parents and solve the mystery of her camera before it is too late?

In many ways this book reminded me of a Sarah Dessen novel. The family, the quirky characters, and the love interest all made me feel like I was reading a book by Sarah Dessen. But then Snow adds in the paranormal aspect which felt slightly out of place in this novel. Madison has enough going on in her life, without her paranormal camera. I felt that this book was almost two separate stories. The realistic fiction of a girl dealing with her parents, the secrets they are keeping, and the changes in her life, and then another story about a girl whose camera captures the images of people who are going to suffer a tragedy. While the book blends these stories together, Madison and her family, and Madison and her camera, I still feel that the blending was awkward.

All in all I felt that it is an okay book, but it had the potential to be great. I love Sarah Dessen’s books and this one really had the feel of one of her novels. The paranormal aspect of the story just felt wrong, It almost seemed like you can either have a book that is paranormal fiction, or realistic fiction, but it can’t be both and that is what the author was aiming for.

A quick read for someone looking for light paranormal stories or semi-realistic fiction.

View all my reviews >>

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Same Blog, New Look: My Blog Design

Yes, I am changing my blog design.  I have to admit that the pink was really starting to get to me.  I am not a pink person, and it all got to be a little overwhelming.  I found this template online from Blogger Templates for free and thought I might give it a try for a while.  I have to modify some of the coding and layout, so bear with me if things move or disappear.

YA Bloggers Debut Book Battle



The Shady Glade is hosting a YA Bloggers Debut Book Battle and is in need of both judges and nominations for books. This looks like an exciting event so check it out on The Shady Glade blog.

An Introduction to the YA Bloggers Debut Book Battle

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Winner of the Fever Crumb ARC

Congratulations to Brittany for winning the Fever Crumb ARC! The book is on its way to you.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Book Review: The Dead-Tossed Waves by Carrie Ryan

Title: The Dead-Tossed Waves
Author: Carrie Ryan
Publisher: Delacorte Press (Print)/ Listening Library (Audio)
Publication Date: 3/16/2010
Genre: Teen, Science Fiction, Horror Fiction, Adventure Fiction, Zombies Fiction
Checked both book on CD and printed version out from public library.

The Dead-Tossed Waves The Dead-Tossed Waves by Carrie Ryan


My rating: 5 of 5 stars
Gabry lives in the protected town of Vista with her mother, Mary. She has always known safety in her small quiet town until one night when she and some of her friends decide to cross the barrier that protects Vista from the Mudo, the walking dead, on the outside. Although Gabry doesn’t want to cross the barrier she goes anyway to win the love of her best friend’s brother, Catcher. Only things don’t turn out as the teens expect, and when tragedy strikes, Gabry would give anything to go back to that moment before she crossed the barrier.

This sequel to The Forest of Hands and Teeth was exciting and action packed. There were times when my heart was racing because I didn’t know what would happen next. This book was so unpredictable, the narrator so indecisive that I had no clue where the book would take me. I liked Gabry, but felt that she needed to reevaluate some of the choices she has made. She finds herself facing danger around every turn as her once quiet and safe life unravels around her. But it is her decision making (whether good or bad) that makes this novel such an unpredictable delight.

With this addition to the series, Ryan’s writing and storytelling has gotten sharper. Her world building is perfect and her characters are both mysterious and engaging. We get a few more clues in this novel, as to how the world got to be in this predicament with the Mudo (or unconsecrated as they are sometimes called). We know there are more towns, cities, and survivors out there than we were aware of in the first book.

That said, I really think I liked this book better than the first. Gabry is an interesting and flawed character whose world falls apart because of one simple mistake. I couldn’t stand to put this book down and had to know what was going to happen to Gabry next. Highly recommended for people who like dystopian fiction, science fiction, mild horror, or who are looking for some heart racing zombie scares.

The audio version of this book is good. Tara Sands narrates the story as the voice of Gabry. You can actually believe that she is Gabry, because she sounds convincingly young. The reading is clear and dramatic and her voice pulls you into the story. You can hear the confusion, pain, and heart wrenching sadness that Gabry feels in the voice of the narrator.



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Still Need Your Vote!

I still need your vote to get the Big Sis Little Blog Mentorship. If you haven't voted, please go to Parajunkee's BSLB Poll and cast your vote for Mel's Books and Info!  If you have voted, pass this info on to others who would be interested in voting.  Thank you for your support!

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Wednesday, April 7, 2010

What I am Reading Wednesday

I feel like I am finally making some ground on my reading goals and let me just say it is about time.  I have pulled ahead of my husband in the number of books finished, but probably not for long--he is starting to reread some of his favorites that I have no doubt he will fly through.  So far though I have read 16 books and he has read 15.  I am almost finished with number 17 though, so hopefully that will keep me in the lead. So here is what I am reading now.

The Dead-Tossed Waves  
The Dead Tossed Waves by Carrie Ryan:  I am really enjoying this sequel to The Forest of Hands and Teeth.  So far this book has been completely unpredictable, mostly because the narrator has no clue what she is going to do until she finally does it.  The book is exciting and I think I like it better than her first, but I can definitely tell you that I can't wait to see what she writes next.  I only have a few more chapters to go and I look forward to finishing this one.

Summary:  Who knew that everything you thought you knew, about your friends, your family, your community, and even yourself could change in an instant.  That a single action could alter your life forever.  The night Gabry climbed over the barrier to be with Catcher is the night everything changes.  Knowing she can't take back that decision, Gabry pushes forward discovering she is not who she think she is, and that she can't go back to that moment when everything changed.  In a world filled with the walking dead, the very definition of life becomes blurred, and all we know for sure is that life is a struggle.  

The Iron Daughter (Iron Fey, #2)
The Iron Daughter by Julie Kagawa:  I just got access to this book through Netgalley yesterday and am already 61 pages into it.  It is hard to walk away from this compelling story.  So far this book is just as good as the first, The Iron King.  I can't wait to see what Kagawa has in store for her protagonist.  Fun and fabulous!

Summary:  Meghan made a promise and now she must keep it, but who knew how dangerous living with the Winter Fey would be.  Missing her best friend Puck, and trapped in a world of ice by her own promise, Meghan must find the strength to survive in Nevernever.

Snap
Snap by Carol Snow:  This one has been a bit slow going for me.  I don't know if it is because of the book itself, or because I have too many other things I am really excited about reading.  I tend to believe it is because I am so excited about the other two.  I really need to get going on this one though and it has an interesting premise.    

Summary:   When fifteen-year-old Madison's parents, who are having problems, bring her to a seedy beachside town, she relies on some quirky new friends for help figuring out how her camera is taking pictures of people who are not there, and who later suffer tragedies.

That is what I am reading this week.  What are you reading?



Tuesday, April 6, 2010

The Body Finder Giveaways

Can't wait to get your hands on The Body Finder by Kimberly Derting?  I found two great giveaways that will give some lucky winner the chance to win a signed copy of the The Body Finder.  I couldn't believe it when I saw these two back to back in my RSS feeds this morning.  These are great chances to win a wonderful book signed by the author. 

The first contest is at Candace's Book Blog.  Just go to her post The Body Finder GIVEAWAY!!! Woo Hoo! To enter for your chance to win.

Candace's Book Blog


The second contest is at The Eager Readers.  Go to their blog Book Giveaway!!! The Body Finder by Kimberly Derting!! and fill out the form to win.

I really enjoyed reading this book and can't wait to see what this talented author writes next.  So go to these sites for your chance to read The Body Finder.

I'm a Finalist in the Big Sis, Little Blog Program and I Need Your Votes!

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I am so excited. I was chosen as one of the six finalists for the Big Sis, Little Blog Program. This program is hosted by Parajunkee's View.  The winner gets a blog design makeover, a mentorship to help increase your blogs traffic, and a great book to give away on our blogs.  

I NEED YOUR HELP!  Please support my blog by going to Parajunkee's View and voting on the BSLB Poll. I can use all the votes I can get.  I would relish the opportunity to learn how to make this blog better.

Spread the word to anyone you think would enjoy voting on this program.  Even if they like one of the other blogs better, it would be great to see a great voting turnout! 
Also if you have any pointers on improving my blog, I am all ears.  Please feel free to comment.

THANK YOU!

Monday, April 5, 2010

Book Review: The Body Finder by Kimberly Derting

Title: The Body Finder
Author: Kimberly Derting
Publisher: HarperTeen
Publication Date: 3/16/2010
Genre: Paranormal Fiction, Romance Fiction, Mystery Fiction
Checked out from public library.

The Body Finder (Body Finder, #1) The Body Finder by Kimberly Derting


My rating: 4 of 5 stars
When Violet Ambrose was eight years old she found the remains of a human corpse.  Violet has been able to find the dead her entire life.  She senses echoes off both the dead and those who are responsible for their deaths.  When a serial killer starts targeting teens in her area, Violet sets out to use her ability to find the murderer.  What she doesn’t plan on is that as she gets closer to the killer, the killer gets closer to her.

Part romance, part paranormal fiction, part mystery, this book has a little for everyone.  Although it has a few slow spots, the mystery and the romance pull you through the book.  Violet’s abilities are unique.  She can sense, visual, auditory, olfactory, or even taste echoes off both the dead and those responsible for their deaths.  It was an interesting twist to see a character who senses violent deaths, rather than ghosts.  The romance with her best friend was realistically portrayed and appropriately awkward at times.  But my favorite parts of the book were the chapters from the killer’s point of view, which were riveting and kept me engaged.  In fact, I found myself wanting to flip forward to find the next chapter from the killer’s point of view.  (I was good and didn’t skip to those chapters, but boy did I want to.)

For some reason I am having a difficult time writing about this particular book.  Did I like it?  Yes.  What did I like? It seemed like a very classic YA romance story (or romance story in general).  Damsel with special abilities, gets herself in trouble, is protected or saved by her knight in shining armor.  I guess what I am saying is that while I found this book entertaining, I am not sure it will be particularly memorable.  Don’t get me wrong it is a very interesting debut, but it kind of felt like more of the same.  Will this stop me from reading any sequels?  No.  I enjoyed the book enough that I will definitely pick up books by this author in the future.  This was Derting’s first book and I look forward to seeing what she will write in the future.  (The sequel, Desires of the Dead is scheduled to be released in 2011.)

Overall this was a fun and entertaining read.  Derting has created a highly enjoyable debut novel.  I would recommend this to fans of paranormal fiction, romance, and mystery.

Cautions for sensitive readers:  While you know girls are being murdered, there are no gruesome descriptions.  There is some drinking at a party and an incident where an intoxicated young man makes unwanted advances on Violet. 

View all my reviews >>

Friday, April 2, 2010

Giveaway News!

I found a great giveaway on Books Out of the Bookshelves blog.  It is a swag for the book The Body Finder.  I have read reviews for this book and it looks outstanding.  Check out the contest at The Body Finder Giveaway. Check out her blog, become a follower, and enter the contest!

Another great giveaway is available from I Was a Teenage Book Geek.  You have your chance to win a selection of books!  Congratulations to her blog for reaching her 300th follower!  You can enter at I Was a Teenage Book Geek's 300 Follower Contest .  Thanks for the great giveaway!


Freebie Friday! ARC of Fever Crumb by Philip Reeve

Okay, this is my very first giveaway so be patient with me.  Still learning the ropes.  I have one ARC copy of Fever Crumb for a lucky random winner. 

To Enter:
  • Must be a US resident 18 or older.
  • Must be a follower either old or new.
  • Must comment on this post and leave an email address where I can contact you if you win.
Winner will be chosen by random.org.  Contest ends April 7th at midnight. 

Good Luck!

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Enter for Your Chance to Win: You Wish by Mandy Hubbard


Author Mandy Hubbard (Prada and Prejudice) is offering a great contest on her blog and you can enter to win an ARC of her new book You Wish due out August 5th. Find out more on her blog at YOU WISH mega contest!


Book Review: This World We Live In by Susan Beth Pfeffer

Title: This World We Live In
Author: Susan Beth Pfeffer
Publisher: Harcourt
Publication Date: 4/1/2010
Genre: Science Fiction, Dystopian Futures
ARC read on NetGalley.


This World We Live In (Moon, #3) This World We Live In by Susan Beth Pfeffer



My rating: 3 of 5 stars

In Life as We Knew It Pfeffer tells us the story of Miranda and her family and their plight to survive after a meteor hits the moon and knocks it out if its orbit. This book takes place a few months after Life as We Knew It left off, once again telling us the story of Miranda and her family. This one also ties in the second book, The Dead and the Gone and the characters finally meet. Things are still tough; there are more mouths to feed, and still no sun. Miranda, in her journals, relates her family’s struggle for survival in a world riddled with tragedy and disaster.

I remember when I read the first book in this series, Life as We Knew It, I felt the need to stock up my pantry with bottled water, canned food, and other nonperishable food items. Pfeffer made me feel like I was living in a world coming to an end and even after putting the book down it was hard to shake that feeling. You have to admire an author who tells a story so potent that you have a hard time returning to the real world after you put it down. Which is why I had to read This World We Live In.

Unlike Life as We Knew It, this book just felt like more of the same. It was nice to see the integration of the first two books, Life as We Knew It and The Dead and the Gone, but even so, I felt that it was a bit too indulgent. In a world so torn apart, to have these two main characters meet seemed a bit unlikely. Yet at the same time it was much anticipated. Their relationship, however, felt very unrealistic. It seemed like in a blink of an eye they are all falling in love because Jon now has a girlfriend, Matt has a wife, and now Miranda and Alex have each other. Love just doesn’t work that way—even if the world is ending.

I still felt that the books have unresolved issues. You understand that the food supply is tentative at best, but they are still being supplied food. Perhaps the author is leaving room for another sequel, but I believe Miranda’s story is at an end.

I was hoping this book would give me the same feelings as the first, but sadly it didn’t. Pfeffer is definitely a talented author (any author who could turn me into a paranoid “the world is ending” freak is a great author), but perhaps it is time to tell a new story, because this one didn’t seem to go anywhere. Did I like it? Yes I did, and it was entertaining. Would I recommend it? Yes I would. To readers who have read the first two volumes it is a nice continuation. Ultimately, it is a good book but lacks the punch of the first.

View all my reviews >>

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