Friday, September 28, 2012

Twisted Heart by Eden Maguire

Between the cheesy cover and the uninspired titles, this series really shouldn't be of any interest to me. But I absolutely LOVED Eden Maguire's Beautiful Dead series, and the first book in this new trilogy, Dark Angel, surprised me by keeping my attention through to the end. This second book in the trilogy starts off with a much more powerful bang, and keeps with the intense action and emotion that I expect from such a great author.

Tania is back and hanging out with celebrity types. Last time it was Zoran, the teen rock star. This time, it's Zeigler and Amos, the film-maker and his crowd of juvenile delinquents. I can't imagine a scenario where a group of bad kids comes into a town to be mentored by good kids and some sort of trouble doesn't start up. But even with the very predictable plot, I enjoyed this story.

Where there were a few intense scenes in the first book, this one has a LOT of nail-biting, uber-emotional, impactful bits. Including the final scene. These books would make for a pretty intense bunch of teen movies! I also appreciated that Tania's psychic episodes were dialed down a bit. They were not nearly as interesting as the other things that were happening in real time. Jarrold was a confusing character, making me swoon for his angst one minute, then feel repulsed by his attitude the next. I am curious to see if he shows up in the next book, making a case for a better boyfriend than the less-than-attentive Orlando.

The Dark Angels were after Grace in the first book, Holly in this book, so I can only guess that they will go directly towards Tania in the third. Looking forward to reading Broken Dream.

Overall Rating: 4 Stars

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Waiting on Wednesday 9/26/12

LULLABY by Amanda Hocking

Harper only wanted a safe, normal life. But when her younger sister Gemma runs off with a dangerous clique of beautiful girls, Penn, Thea, and Lexi, everything changes. Vowing to get her sister back no matter what the cost, Harper must face dangers unlike any she's ever experienced. Fortunately, she has Daniel by her side, a gorgeous guy who's devoted to helping her find her sister—and who's immune to the girls' dark powers.

While Harper searches for her sister, Gemma struggles to adjust to her new life. Gemma's powers are growing by the day, and the longer she lives with her new "sisters," the harder it is to resist entering their magical world. It's a realm both dark and beautiful, and where she's plagued by strange hungers and unspeakable needs. Just as she's drifting far away from her old life, Harper and Daniel find her...but no one can deny how much she's changed. All she wants is to return to her family and the mortal world, but how can she do that when she's become something else entirely—and will they still love her once they learn the truth?

I recently read the first book in this series, Wake, and loved it. Hocking has developed a world where mer-creatures aren't what you think they are, and I enjoyed the break from the typical. This second book promises to bring more of the same surprises and great characters. 

Release Date: November 27, 2012

Monday, September 24, 2012

The Spindlers by Lauren Oliver

Caution: If you do not like spiders, you may want to pass on this book. If your stomach can handle those pesky, creepy crawlers, you will be rewarded with a tender and adventurous story.

Liza is a spunky young girl with a huge heart. In the beginning of the story, we hear a bit about how her younger brother Patrick lives to annoy her, yet when she senses something changed about him, she sets off on a grand adventure to get him back without a single hesitation. Her bravery is noble and will be a good role model for girl readers.

It took me a while to warm up to Mirabella the rat. She's not very sympathetic to Liza, but easily takes the lead role to help her along. I wanted to like her but couldn't lower my guard enough to welcome her into Liza's journey. Perhaps this was Lauren Oliver's intent all along.

There aren't many twists, but the ones there are caught me off guard and made a large impact on the story. In fact, the last third of the book is by far the very best part, with the strongest and most intense action scenes. While this is a good book for Middle Grade readers, I see it as a great novel for parents to read together with their children.

Overall Rating: 4 Stars

Friday, September 21, 2012

Inspired to Art (8)

Fever Crumb by Phillip Reeve, is inspiring in more ways than one. The action was pitch-perfect, the characters were fully fleshed out and realistic, the world-building was spectacular, and the story truly hit all the right marks. Can you tell I loved it? I was stoked that there are two more books in the series already because I seriously did not want to leave Fever and her plight. Instead, I decided to create some of the epic visions Reeve wrote about. WARNING: As hard as I tried not to reveal too much, there may be a few plot spoilers, below.

Fever wears an oyster shell identifying necklace when she travels into London. That piece would be easy. What I wanted to try were the Assassin Paper Boys. Oddly terrifying, the thought of those. Unique, too, in the creativity on Reeve's part to develop them. And then last, the paperboys brought me a singular event in the book involving a needle and Fever's blood. I made the needle first.
Using a glass tube, two bead ends, an earring base, and a bit of my own special "blood" recipe, this is what it looks like. Does it look like it would fit into the steampunk world of Fever's?

Then I whipped up a quick box to put these elements into. The paper used was DCWV Tattered Time collection, and the gold paint edging is DecoArt Metallics in Glorious Gold. Inside paint was a basic cream.

Next, I placed all items into the box, and added a few tiny bits and bobbles to give it some extra glitz.

Not my best nook art, but still felt great to pull Fever Crumb's world into ours. The finished product:
 Back to reading!

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Waiting on Wednesday 9/19/12

UNDEADLY by Michele Vail

Molly Bartolucci wants to blend in, date hottie Rick and keep her zombie-raising abilities on the down-low. Then the god Anubis chooses her to become a reaper-and she accidentally undoes the work of another reaper, Rath. Within days, she's shipped off to the Nekyia Academy, an elite school that trains the best necromancers in the world. And her personal reaping tutor? Rath. Who seems to hate her guts.

Rath will be watching closely to be sure she completes her first assignment-reaping Rick, the boy who should have died. The boy she still wants to be with.To make matters worse, students at the academy start turning up catatonic, and accusations fly-against Molly. The only way out of this mess? To go through hell. Literally.

I am curious about this story for the paranormal bring-the-dead-back-to-life element, but I am a little nervous about the whole gods bit. Hopefully, the plot will stay down to earth and be everything the beautiful cover promise - lots of angst.

Release Date: November 20, 2012

Monday, September 17, 2012

Flock by Wendy Delsol

I have to start by mentioning the cover of Flock. Is it not the most gorgeous cover ever? Does her hair not have the most perfect waves you've ever seen? The colors, the birds in the background... it's all just so stunning. Well done, Candlewick designers, well done.

That's not the only good thing about this book. Flock is a fabulous finish to one of the most surprising trilogies I have come across in the inflated YA paranormal market in recent years. I love that Katla is a Stork, and member of a sisterhood of various birds and deliverers of souls. It's refreshing, interesting, and thought out. The first book, Stork, was brilliant and left me feeling very satisfied at the end. Then there was the second book, Frost, which carried the same interest level, but stray far from the stork ideas presented in the first book. We met new characters and developed Katla's circle of friends in a different but still enjoyable read. Now Flock joins both worlds seamlessly.

Katla truly has a lot at stake in this final book. There is her relationship with Jack, her duties to the Storks, her frail little sister Leira, and on top of it all, the evil presence threatening to take over her small town folks. Through it all she maintains her sense of humor, one of my favorite parts in the writing. I was expecting to be annoyed with the heightened roles of Marik and Jinx, but they surprised me with their contributions to Kat's life. Even Penny and Kat's Mom turned things around with their smaller roles.

The ending is brilliant, powerful, and perfect. Wendy Delsol has landed a unique, well-written, and well thought out trilogy.

And I want her hair. Best cover ever.

Overall Rating: 4 Stars

Friday, September 14, 2012

Fear Street Flashback (32)

Why? Because FEAR STREET was like, my favorite series growing up.

Originally released in April, 1997.

Classic Fear Street goodness. The twists in this one keep coming right up until the end. I liked that the POV was from Sydney (the rich girl) and not Emma, who gets all of the action. As a storyteller, Sydney was very dry and uninteresting, but it was also perfect because then the reader was in the dark as to what was happening around her. This story is isn't scary with the paranormal, but there is plenty of tension around three kids sharing a huge secret. Jason in particular provides most of the nervous bits, and I liked that he was equally likeable and bothersome. It is fun to think of what I would do if I found a bag of discarded money! My only complaint with this book is again, the lack of parents in the girls' lives. Other than that, The Rich Girl is a quick read, and a nice addition to the Fear Street world.

Fear Rating:  out of 3 Screams

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Waiting on Wednesday 9/12/12

SACRED by Elana Arnold

Growing up on Catalina Island, off the California coast, Scarlett Wenderoth has led a fairly isolated life. After her brother dies, her isolation deepens as she withdraws into herself, shutting out her friends and boyfriend. Her parents, shattered by their own sorrow, fail to notice Scarlett's pain and sudden alarming thinness. Scarlett finds pleasure only on her horse, escaping to the heart of the island on long, solitary rides. One day, as she races around a bend, Scarlett is startled by a boy who raises his hand in warning and says one word: "Stop." 

The boy—intense, beautiful—is Will Cohen, a newcomer to the island. For reasons he can't or won't explain, he's drawn to Scarlett and feels compelled to keep her safe. To keep her from wasting away. His meddling irritates Scarlett, though she can't deny her attraction to him. As their relationship blossoms into love, Scarlett's body slowly awakens at Will's touch. But just when her grief begins to ebb, she makes a startling discovery about Will, a discovery he's been grappling with himself. A discovery that threatens to force them apart. And if it does, Scarlett fears she will unravel all over again.

Doesn't that romance sound deep and intense? Part of the allure of this upcoming title is it's Catalina Island setting. I've never been there but have always wanted to go. Perhaps I will schedule a trip to coincide with reading this book!

Release Date: November 13, 2012

Monday, September 10, 2012

Over You by Emma McLaughlin and Nicola Kraus

Getting over an ex or fresh from being dumped? This book is not for you. However, if you have a friend that is either of those things, this would be a great read for instructions on how to get them back on his or her feet.

High school drop-out (!) Max Scott is Wonder Woman. Not literally, but she is quite amazing. She's started her own business of helping girls get over their exes, and it actually works. I was inspired by the way she had two employees and was super organized with her clients. She's buttoned up with her business, and best of all, totally funny. Her dialog, especially with Ben, is brilliantly witty.

Unfortunately, that's not really enough to carry the story. When Max wasn't helping a client, she is boring and whiny - everything she loathes to see in others. It was difficult to think she was so cool and watch as she helped others up, and then get down on herself and deny the obvious during other times. Luckily, her friends Phoebe and Zach are superb secondary characters that pulled the story along when Max couldn't do it herself.

Emma McLaughlin and Nicola Kraus are new to writing YA books, this being their debut for the younger crowd. I've read all of their other books and have thoroughly enjoyed them. After reading Over You, I think they should stick to the more adult fare. Girls who get dumped may not be ready for the advice in this book, but women will revel in the ideas and suggestions for retribution.

Overall Rating: 3 Stars

Friday, September 7, 2012

Origin by Jessica Khoury

In one word, Origin is awesome.

It is much more than simply that, however. There are so many pieces to this book. A love interest, coming-of-age, questions of moral science, a paranormal element, betrayal, and secrets. It may sound overwhelming, but it made for a fantastic read that was very difficult to put down.

My heart ached for Pia and her situation inside Little Cam. She has all that she could ever want and yet is extremely sheltered. It was fascinating to be trapped inside Pia's contained life and see how she is raised and taught to be the perfect being and a great scientist. There are few science-minded female leads in books these days. I felt like all I wanted her to do was escape, and got frustrated when she showed weakness on this issue. For as smart as Pia was, it was annoying that she should fall so immediately in love with Eio, the first boy her age she has ever met.

But Eio was also a well-written character. He is strong-willed like Pia, a perfect match. He has grown up in an entirely different world than Pia, and I wanted to explore more of the Ai'oan culture. Perhaps his story would make an interesting spin-off book. All of the "Uncles" inside Little Cam were hiding intriguing back stories as well. Rather than a sequel, I want to go back in time before Pia to learn how it all came about!

One more thing I wanted to note was that I approve of the decision not to show an actual face for Pia on the cover. This allowed me to imagine her how I wanted - futuristic or plain Jane. When the cover for this book was first released, it didn't grab my attention at all. But now having read the story, the cover could not be more perfect. Well done, cover artists!

Overall Rating: 5 Stars

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Waiting on Wednesday 9/5/12


Wren MacAvoy works as a coal miner for a domed city that was constructed in the mid-nineteenth century to protect the royal blood line of England when astronomers spotted a comet on a collision course with Earth. Humanity would be saved by the most groundbreaking technology of the time. But after nearly 200 years of life beneath the dome, society has become complacent and the coal is running out.  Plus there are those who wonder, is there life outside the dome or is the world still consumed by fire? When one of Wren's friends escapes the confines of the dome, he is burned alive and put on display as a warning to those seeking to disrupt the dome’s way of life. But Alex’s final words are haunting. “The sky is blue.” 

What happens next is a whirlwind of adventure, romance, conspiracy and the struggle to stay alive in a world where nothing is as it seems. Wren unwittingly becomes a catalyst for a revolution that destroys the dome and the only way to survive might be to embrace what the entire society has feared their entire existence.

Besides the beautiful cover art, I am interested in this book from that stunning premise.  I am looking forward to exploring the future post-apocalyptic world and getting to know Wren. It sounds very "City of Ember", but I am hoping for something original.

Release Date: November 13, 2012

Monday, September 3, 2012

Pizza, Love, and Other Stuff That Made Me Famous by Kathryn Williams

This book has a super cute premise, but fell very short of my expectations. The only really interesting parts were scenes from the show when it was actually filming. The judgment scenes we are so familiar with reality TV contest shows, that I found myself craving them. For everything else in the book, I had to stifle a yawn.

There are a lot of pieces to this story. There's Sophie's strained relationship with her father, her growing attraction to her best friend Alex, her desire to cook and be a chef, and then there's being the television show itself. Many different aspects of Sophie's life to balance, and in the end, no one piece got enough attention.She came across as a very flat character. When Luc entered the picture in Napa, I was hoping something would really spark in her personality, but it didn't. Which just made me wonder what happened to Alex? He's another character that really showed very little emotion, and when he did, it felt much too contrived.

Luckily, there is the reality TV show. A fantasy for teens everywhere. Most of the TV scenes felt very rushed, but readers will recognize the format and be pleased with the way the voting and contestants play out on the show. The only other bit that felt thin was the actual cooking. Many teens looking to this book for recipes or long paragraphs on cooking will be disappointed.

Overall I felt underwhelmed, but the few exciting scenes make this story one worth reading.

Overall Rating: 3 Stars

Friday, August 31, 2012

The Last Free Cat by Jon Blake

I loved this book, with all my heart. I wasn't too sure about it, thinking the premise was too contrived and wouldn't be believable. But the whole book is action-packed and very cute.

First of all, Feela. That cat is magical. Put me under her spell from the moment she mewled hello. It was quite tender the way she instantly melted Jade's heart. Second, Jade herself is a great character. Strong, courageous, and independent. She doesn't shy away from adventure, and believes strongly in doing what's right for her beloved Feela. And then there's Kris. He's super intelligent, caring, and best of all, mysterious.

I loved the way the clues and hints unravel throughout the story. Jade has lived a rather sheltered life up until meeting Feela and Kris, and she learns the ways of the street very quickly, mostly from Kris' teachings and from her own experiences. There was a brilliant juxtaposition between what Kris could teach Jade and what Jade could show Kris. It brought a deeper level to their budding relationship.

So many good things about this book. Enjoyable, edge-of-my-seat things. But perhaps my favorite bit was that at it's core, this was a story about rebelling against corporations. A near-future world that looks very similar to our current one. Corporations rule and it is up a small band of warriors to rise up and get to the truth behind what the media is telling them. A good story for all teens to read and discuss.

Overall Rating: 5 Stars

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Waiting on Wednesday 8/29/12

REBEL HEART by Moira Young

It seemed so simple: Defeat the Tonton, rescue her kidnapped brother, Lugh, and then order would be restored to Saba’s world. Simplicity, however, has proved to be elusive. Now, Saba and her family travel west, headed for a better life and a longed-for reunion with Jack. But the fight for Lugh’s freedom has unleashed a new power in the dust lands, and a formidable new enemy is on the rise.
What is the truth about Jack? And how far will Saba go to get what she wants?

Besides the totally drool-worthy dude on the cover, I LOVED the first book, Blood Red Road. It was brilliant. Action-packed. And utterly original.  I seriously want to read this books so bad, I can taste it.

Release Date: October 30, 2012

Monday, August 27, 2012

Bound by Book-to-Movie Review: City of Ember

Book-to-Movie Law states that once you have read the book, you are bound by the media to go see the movie based on said book, and therefor compare to two.

This book was so much fun. I read it at break-neck speed and then went out to get the other three in the series. Then I proceeded to tell everyone I met how good the books are and how they should read them. When the movie was announced, I was ecstatic and couldn't wait to see how the producers and director translated such a visual book to the big screen.

They did not disappoint. The clothing, the sets, the music... it was all over the top and perfect. Actually, very understated too, in that I noticed all of these things individually, but together they formed such a perfect union that one design did not feel larger than the other.

Saoirse Ronan was brilliant as Lina. Harry Treadaway seemed a little old at first, but I quickly grew to like him. And of course, Bill Murray was great. That guy can't do wrong. So the movie was really good, too. Intense. Action-packed. And a brilliant translation of a difficult book. Well done!

Bottom Line: The book was amazing and the movie was fantastic. A win-win!

Friday, August 24, 2012

Words With Impact

Words are powerful. They have the ability to make a person laugh, cry, hurt, and feel incredible joy. Most often we use words to communicate in plain, everyday manners. But when we come across words that have greater impact - whether they are spoken to us or by us, or read somewhere - they can leave a major impression.

And then there are words that when we read or hear them, the insides of our ears tweak out. There aren't many such words out there that have this affect on me, but there are a few to note.

EERIE - Reading this words gives me the chills instantly. It comes with a strong flavor of the paranormal and spooky. Totally makes the hair stand up on the back of my neck. Hearing it spoken is often the same, because people seem to use this word to describe something they can't fully explain. I do like this word, but please use very sparingly, as to avoid creeping me out.

GRIN- Here is a word that seems harmless enough, no? And yet it always sounds malicious, even when it shouldn't. When someone "grin" instead of plain "smiles", they are definitely up to no good. When I read it in a book (Fifty Shades of Grey, for example, overuses this word) I expect hijink to ensue. If they don't, I get disappointed. Please folks, don't use grin if "smile" or "smirk" would work just as well.

ORBS - This word is simply obnoxious. To describe eyes, really?? See also: almond eyes, slits. Eyes should just be described as eyes. Their size and color can sometimes be helpful, but the term orbs is downright weird. Orbs feels like something from space, the future, or some sort of science. Orb eyes or an orb head are not romantic. Understood?

There are probably more, but these three in particular are words that I could do without in my vocabulary.

Do you have any you would like to eradicate from yours? 

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Waiting on Wednesday 8/22/12

TIME BETWEEN US by Tamara Ireland Stone

Anna and Bennett were never supposed to meet: she lives in 1995 Chicago and he lives in 2012 San Francisco. But Bennett’s unique ability to travel through time and space brings him into Anna’s life, and with him, a new world of adventure and possibility. As their relationship deepens, they face the reality that time might knock Bennett back where he belongs, even as a devastating crisis throws everything they believe into question. Against a ticking clock, Anna and Bennett are forced to ask themselves how far they can push the bounds of fate—and what consequences they can bear in order to stay together.

 *sigh* I am totally due for a good time travel story. Gotta admit that I have very high hopes for this book. It looks to be tender and intriguing and very romantic. Can't wait!

Release Date: October 9, 2012

Monday, August 20, 2012

The Raft by S.A. Bodeen

WOW. Hold on to your hat when reading this book, it moves FAST.

There's great adventure in this edge-of-your-seat book. I seriously could not put it down and read feverishly through the chapters. The plot is very simple - Robie's plane goes down and her only means of survival is a yellow raft, the co-pilot Max, and a bag of skittles. Yet the book is incredibly intense, shocking, surprising, and most of all, inspiring. The whole time Robie is on the raft is so astounding, in the knowledge she has of sea life, to the paltry means of survival she can incorporate into the long days and nights. She experienced good things and bad things, but justified her actions to herself so that as the reader, I was right there with her for every step.

And the ending - The Ending! Won't say too much, other than it felt like a punch that knocked the wind out of me. Was so good. 

It took a bit to realize it, but I have actually read and loved a previous book by S.A. Bodeen, The Gardener.  She has a real talent for getting my so instantly hooked into her books that I devour them in one sitting and rave about them to my co-workers. I really want to read her first book, The Compound, as soon as possible. Highly recommended, especially to the outdoor adventure lover!

Overall Rating: 5 Stars

Friday, August 17, 2012

The Mourning Emporium by Michelle Lovric

This book opens not long after the first book in the series, The Undrowned Child, leaves off. Which works very well to keep the momentum from the first book going. Without the fast pace of action, this story would be very slow. Still, I forced my way through and found that in the end I was pleased.

While I liked The Undrowned Child, I just couldn't get into this sequel. The action moves along at the same movie-action-scene way that it did in the first book, which pulled me through the chapters at an accelerated pace. It was fun to be aboard a ship tough, with the atmosphere being a little more cramped and claustrophobic. The budding romance between Teo and Renzo is cute, as they both grow older a little more each day.

And again, I totally loved the super cool power Teo has. Honestly, how cool would it be to see people's handwriting appear in the air above their heads? Seemingly useless info, but Teo manages to pull massive amounts of information about a person from their handwriting. I also like the way the mermaids speak. It's unique and funny and creative.

The ending of this book is pretty solid. I'm not sure if there will be another in the series, but I hope not. With such a sweet finale, I am content to stop right here.

Overall Rating: 3 Stars

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Waiting on Wednesday 8/15/12

BUTTER by Erin Jade Lange

A lonely obese boy everyone calls "Butter" is about to make history. He is going to eat himself to death—live on the Internet—and everyone is invited to watch. When he first makes the announcement online to his classmates, Butter expects pity, insults, and possibly sheer indifference. What he gets are morbid cheerleaders rallying around his deadly plan. Yet as their dark encouragement grows, it begins to feel a lot like popularity. And that feels good. But what happens when Butter reaches his suicide deadline? Can he live with the fallout if he doesn’t go through with his plans?  

There is something about the synopsis that make me really want to read this book. Perhaps because it sounds like it could be real, like it could totally happen in today's bully-ridden world. I already know I will be rooting for Butter!

Release Date: September 18, 2012

Monday, August 13, 2012

Fear Street Flashback (31)

Why? Because FEAR STREET was like, my favorite series growing up.

Originally released in January, 1990.

This is a rare Fear Street title in that it is not one I have revisited since the first time reading through it. Not sure why, except that I remember thinking the plot was dumb, and then I spilled a little coffee on my copy and I was terrified of damaging it further. Silly, irrational kid thoughts. So I was both excited and apprehensive about reading Missing again.

Turns out this is definitely one of the weaker Fear Street installments. Mark and Cara are having a major house party on the night their parents disappear and it immediately seems weird for them to have so much concern so quickly. It also seems very unlikely that parents would just disappear without a trace and their two teenaged kids wouldn't quickly call the police.

And then with the addition of the out-of-place cousin Roger, there were too many elements that didn't line up. Still, I appreciated the slow build-up with tension until the final climax. And then final reveal was a big relief, almost, in it's very plausible explanation. I felt myself thinking "oh, it was just that??" and being very done with the book. As the fourth book ever in the Fear Street series, it shows how much better the lineup got over time.

Fear Rating: 1 out of 3 Screams

Friday, August 10, 2012

Wake by Amanda Hocking

I totally liked this book.  For a sea-creature/mermaid type thing, this story was wonderfully creepy. Shockingly so, with a brilliant version of the siren mythos and world. While I don't anticipate ever getting tired with mermaid stories, Wake had it's own twist to the paranormal and it was well worth it.

Gemma and Harper are two of the most independent, strong, and inspiring sisters I have read in a long time. They look out for each other, care for their Dad, are studious with their future plans, and even visit their insane Mother on a regular basis. These girls are great role models on how to be yourself and a member of your family at the same time.

But then there is Alex and Daniel. *swoon* I think I liked Daniel more, because the idea of a boyfriend living on a houseboat is pretty romantic. Daniel himself was super dreamy, too, always rushing to help Harper. I appreciated how the boys took their time to get involved with the girls. The delayed gratification only made me, as the reader, want to see the couples get together even more.

Amanda Hocking definitely writes a great story with this first book in the Watersong series. The only odd bit was that she uses the first name for Gemma and Harper's father, Brian. It is a little confusing, because Gemma and Harper call him Dad or father, so why the Brian? It pulled me away from the characters and I felt constantly interrupted. Other than the small detail, I found myself sailing through this book, picking it up every chance I could to read another chapter. The second book is called Lullaby, and promises to be equally goo, if not better than Wake!

Overall Rating: 5 Stars

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Waiting on Wednesday 8/8/12

FOXFIRE by Karen Kincy


Tavian has never forgotten his real mother, a shapeshifting Japanese fox spirit like himself, who abandoned him. On a trip to Japan, his homeland, he discovers that she’s alive. But a faceless ghost warns Tavian to stay away from her. Even worse, Tavian’s magi¬cal fox powers have vanished. Finding his mother in Tokyo’s seamy underworld may be his only chance to beat back the vicious dog spirits stalking him and his girlfriend Gwen—and to recover from a fatal magical illness eroding his human side.

I fell in love with Tavian in the first book in the Other series, appropriately titled Other. He was so sweet and cuddly. :) Now with his own story, I am excited to dig into Japanese culture and myth, as well as to spend more time with Tavian and Gwen.

Release Date: October 8, 2012

Monday, August 6, 2012

The Boy Recession by Flynn Meaney

This was a sweet high school read that will appeal to lots of different kinds of readers.

The premise is simple. During Kelly and Hunter's senior year of high school, a large number of boys transfer schools, leaving Julius High with a high girl to guy ratio. Something that I'm sure happens all the time. Suddenly the status of overlooked, geeky and nerdy boys skyrockets them to the same popularity of star quarterbacks. Flynn Meaney takes advantage of the situation, by creating lots of hilariously awkward moments between the various clicks of students, leaving no stereotype spared.

I loved the trio of friends in Kelly, Darcy, and Aviva. And then the boy group with Hunter, Derek, and Eugene was great as well. I found myself physically smiling whenever Kelly and Hunter got together. Those were definitely the best scenes in the book, the lightest moments, the most humorous parts. A cute book, with adorable characters. Recommended for summer beach reading!

Overall Rating: 4 Stars

Friday, August 3, 2012

Fictional Recipes (5)

Real Mermaids Don't Hold Their Breath is the second in a cute series by Helene Boudreau that has an added bonus of easy to make dessert recipes at the back of the book. The first book had Mug Cake, which was delicious. The recipe in this second book sounded weird at first... Chocolate Popcorn. But the scene where this late night snack appears is a super tender moment, so I decided to try my own hand at making this odd sounding (and odd looking!) treat.

First the ingredients, which were very simple. Popcorn kernels, brown sugar, chocolate chips, and butter. I chose Ghirardelli milk chocolate chips.
  Then melt the ingredients and pop the kernels.
For the final step, pour the warm mixture over the popcorn and mix until the tasty goodness touches every piece of popcorn. It looks a little funky and unfinished. 
But when I put the first taste in my mouth, I was pleasantly surprised. Beware, this stuff is addicting! The chocolate and brown sugar turned the plain popcorn into such yummy morsels that I couldn't stop eating them. This is a recipe I will definitely make again!

I'm looking forward to seeing the recipe in book number 3. If history proves anything, it's bound to be a tasty one!

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Waiting on Wednesday 8/1/12


She could save the world—or destroy it.

Sixteen year old Evangeline “Evie” Greene leads a charmed life, until she begins experiencing horrifying hallucinations. When an apocalyptic event decimates her Louisiana hometown, Evie realizes her hallucinations were actually visions of the future—and they’re still happening. Fighting for her life and desperate for answers, she must turn to her wrong-side-of-the-bayou classmate: Jack Deveaux.

But she can’t do either alone.

With his mile-long rap sheet, wicked grin, and bad attitude, Jack is like no boy Evie has ever known. Even though he once scorned her and everything she represented, he agrees to protect Evie on her quest. She knows she can’t totally depend on Jack. If he ever cast that wicked grin her way, could she possibly resist him?

Who can Evie trust?

As Jack and Evie race to find the source of her visions, they meet others who have gotten the same call. An ancient prophesy is being played out, and Evie is not the only one with special powers. A group of twenty-two teens has been chosen to reenact the ultimate battle between good and evil. But it’s not always clear who is on which side….

I've yet to read anything by Kresley Cole, but I know there are lots of devout readers out there. I'm looking forward to trying out her writing with this first book in a series. I like the dark and stormy look to the cover, but have to wonder how old the characters are supposed to be.

Release Date: October 2, 2012

Monday, July 30, 2012

Bound by Book-To-Movie Law: Diary of a Wimpy Kid Roderick Rules

Book-to-Movie Law states that once you have read the book, you are bound by the media to go see the movie based on said book, and therefor compare to two.

Hmm. Would you believe me if I said I liked this movie? Because I did, genuinely. I think the cast for the movies is really starting to grow into their characters. They seem to be hitting their stride and the movies are getting better. Especially Rodrick (love Devon Bostick), his Mom (Rachel Harris is so great) and Rowley (I'll just say that Robert Capron does a good job). And I thought the romance translated much better to the big screen than it did in the book. This movie made me think that these series are each good on their own. Like, the books make a great series if you read them all as books. And the movies make a great series if you experience them only as movies. The movies are honest translations of the books. But if you watch the movies while reading the books, some of the inherent fun of the characters may be lost.

Needless to say, I am looking forward to the next movie in this franchise, Dog Days!

Bottom Line: As much as I know I should say the book was better, I think the movie was the winner in this one.

Friday, July 27, 2012

Cover Dresses I Want

I'm not the kind of girl who wears dresses, ever. Jeans are my pant of choice. But I do enjoy wearing fancy dresses on the rare occasions I need to wear one. They are few and far between, yet there is still a section in my closet with frilly, girly dresses.

Lately I have been spying book covers with gorgeous, flowing, mouth-watering dresses, and I want them. If I even knew where to begin, I would snatch up these favorites and add them to my collection.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Waiting on Wednesday 7/25/12

HANGING BY A THREAD by Sophie Littlefield

The quaint little beach town of Winston, California, may be full of wholesome townsfolk, picturesque beaches, and laid back charm, but Clare Knight is about to uncover something underneath its thriving demeanor. Someone is hiding something, and it's as gruesome as the townsfolk, and their stately homes, are stunning.

Amanda Stavros, fellow classmate and resident of Winston, is gone and there's no sign of her ever coming back. Everyone says she was taken and murdered, but where's the evidence? Why isn't there a single ounce of proof? And why is everyone okay with this, except for Clare?

Luckily—or as it's been turning out, unluckily—Clare possesses a gift, an ability to see visions from the clothes she works with. And since her clothes come solely from the townsfolk, Clare has become privy to some startling and disturbing memories of these townspeople. Will she uncover who killed Amanda Stavros? Or is she just moving herself up in line to be the next victim of Winston?

So many good books coming out in September! I consider myself to be a huge fan of Sophie Littlefield, but the only books of hers I have read are the Aftertime series. Eventually I would like to be able to say I've read all her books, but for now I am waiting anxiously for this new start to a series. Sounds good, and I have high hopes!

Release Date: September 11, 2012

Monday, July 23, 2012

Dark Heart Rising by Lee Monroe

Though I liked the first book, Dark Heart Forever, I came away feeling unsatisfied. This second book, Dark Heart Rising, left me feeling the same way.

The story felt disjointed between Luca's story and Jane's point of view. These two characters play much better together. Apart, it was frustrating to see how they each still felt towards each other, but were denied these emotions. I was also disappointed in the way Jane so easily invited the new boy Soren into her life. That guy was a weasel! Totally creepy. I didn't like him at all, and didn't want Jane to go with him without thinking more carefully about what she was doing.

Also, I think it may have been too much to have vampires, angels (fallen and good), werewolves, and a myriad of other creatures all vying for attention. Perhaps Lee Monroe wasn't totally sure, exactly, what she wanted the book to be about. I have the third book, Dark Heart Surrender, already in my TBR pile. I will read it, but I won't hold high hopes for a good story. This trilogy may just not be for me.

Overall Rating: 3 Stars

Friday, July 20, 2012

Fifty Shades of Songs

I recently finished the Fifty Shades trilogy by E.L. James. A very interesting trilogy, to say the least. Some completely seductive characters, some, um, interesting scenarios, and a few tense moments here and there. A worthwhile read, if you are not embarrassed by blushing from a book. But one of things that struck me as unique was how my mind constantly thought of songs while reading the story. For example, I would be driving to work and hear a song on the radio that would make me think of Christian Grey. Has this ever happened to any of you?

Here are a few songs that struck me as a good soundtrack for the book.

Fix You by Coldplay
Little Lion Man by Mumford & Sons
West Coast by Coconut Records
S&M by Rhianna
At Last by Etta James
Hurts So Good by John Cougar Mellencamp

There is an official playlist at E.L. James' website, but these are just a few songs I think she left off. I like Christian's taste in music. And I love it when authors pair playlists to their books!

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Waiting on Wednesday 7/18/12

ASHES OF HONOR by Seanan McGuire

It’s been almost a year since October “Toby” Daye averted a war, gave up a county, and suffered personal losses that have left her wishing for a good day’s sleep.  She’s tried to focus on her responsibilities—training Quentin, upholding her position as Sylvester’s knight, and paying the bills—but she can’t help feeling like her world is crumbling around her, and her increasingly reckless behavior is beginning to worry even her staunchest supporters.

To make matters worse, Toby’s just been asked to find another missing child…only this time it’s the changeling daughter of her fellow knight, Etienne, who didn’t even know he was a father until the girl went missing.  Her name is Chelsea.  She’s a teleporter, like her father.  She’s also the kind of changeling the old stories warn about, the ones with all the strength and none of the control.  She’s opening doors that were never meant to be opened, releasing dangers that were sealed away centuries before—and there’s a good chance she could destroy Faerie if she isn’t stopped.

Now Toby must find Chelsea before time runs out, racing against an unknown deadline and through unknown worlds as she and her allies try to avert disaster.  But danger is also stirring in the Court of Cats, and Tybalt may need Toby’s help with the biggest challenge he’s ever faced.
Toby thought the last year was bad.  She has no idea.

I just adore this series. Each books gets deeper into the world and it somehow better than the one before it. I am a little nervous about a character with my name (and spelled correctly!), as I usually stay far away from reading books with Chelsea's in them. But I will not be able to pass this book up, and look forward to sinking my teeth in.

Release Date: September 4, 2012

Monday, July 16, 2012

Dark Angel by Eden Maguire

This book was pretty intense, but I'm not entirely sure why. There is not really a lot of action (until the very end), so maybe the slow build up of tension and evil made for the nail-biting pace.

Orlando is the first worthy boyfriend I have seen in a really long time. He works through his jealousy issues like an adult. I was rooting for him and Tania the whole time and was pleased that Tania was a strong enough female character to step back and remain true to her heart. I also liked that although Tania has mild paranormal powers, for the most part she was just plain human. It was refreshing to read a story about fallen angels, demons, and the battle between good and evil that had a human being at its core. The reality of forest fires in their small town was also kind of cool. Can you imagine growing up and being intimately familiar with the world of forest fires and firefighting?

My only real complaint is that Tania's waking nightmares and dark visions about past and future fires were great, but I felt that once Zoran and his cast of characters were introduced, Tania's paranormal powers vanished from the plot. It was also very difficult to know how old Zoran and his crew were. They had an awful lot of power for teenagers, but as adults they seemed creepy.

Nevertheless, I am a huge fan of Eden Maguire. There is something really tender about her writing and her characters that hooks it claws into me. I tore my way through her first series, Beautiful Dead and loved it. Stay tuned for reviews of the second and third book in the Dark Angel series, to come!

Overall Rating: 4 Stars

Friday, July 13, 2012

Fear Street Flashback (30)

Why? Because FEAR STREET was like, my favorite series growing up.

Originally released in November, 1996.

Well okay. I like this little Fear Street ditty a lot. There is not a lot of gruesome scenes, and most of the tension comes from an unusal place- school. When Lenny gets bullied by a teacher at school, the book brings up a very real issue that does not get a lot of mention in today's press at all. It makes Lenny so mad, too, which is great cause for concern by his friends. Spencer was very alluring and I couldn't help but like him. I wanted to see him get together with Diane! And then I also really enjoyed hanging out with everyone at night. After midnight provides a perfectly mysterious and dazzling setting for whatever activities might occur. This is a fun addition to the Fear Street series, and the ending will catch you by surprise!

Fear Rating: 2 out of 3 Screams

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Waiting on Wednesday 7/11/12

FLESH & BONE by Jonathan Maberry

Reeling from the tragic events of Dust & Decay, Benny Imura and his friends plunge deep into the zombie-infested wastelands of the great Rot & Ruin. Benny, Nix, Lilah and Chong journey through a fierce wilderness that was once America, searching for the jet they saw in the skies months ago. If that jet exists then humanity itself must have survived…somewhere. Finding it is their best hope for having a future and a life worth living.

But the Ruin is far more dangerous than any of them can imagine. They are hunted by fierce animals escaped from zoos and circuses. They must raid zombie-infested towns for food and medical supplies. They discover the very real truth in the old saying: In the Rot & Ruin…everything wants to kill you.

And what is happening to the zombies? Swarms of them are coming from the east, devouring everything in their paths. These zoms are different. Faster, smarter, infinitely more dangerous. Has the zombie plague mutated, or is there something far more sinister behind this new invasion of the living dead?

Readers of this blog already know how highly I think of this series. So it should be no surprise that I will clear my schedule and devote some solid reading time to this third installment. I can't get enough of this world and these characters!

Release Date: September 11, 2012

Monday, July 9, 2012

Finding Sky by Joss Stirling

Joss Stirling has exceeded my rather low expectations for this book. Perhaps it was the bland cover, but I wasn't sure at all what to expect. Not the creepy hidden memories and flashbacks. Certainly not the edge-of-your-seat action that filled the last third of the story. It was a fast read, and turned out to be a good book, too.

The Benedicts have a totally cool lifestyle. Dangerous, yes, but pretty fancy nonetheless. Their alphabetical names cracked me up. The psychic powers/CIA mole aspect of the plot was not original, but Stirling made it her own I loved that Sky had such a spunky, geeky inner voice. Though I felt a little cheated that for the beginning of the book, Zed was a complete jerk, but then suddenly turns nice and Sky is okay with it. The Soulfinder bit has a nice ring too it, but needed to be fleshed out a little more. Plus, Sky seemed entirely too relaxed about being kidnapped, even with all of the drama of her childhood. She was a strong female character, yes, but I think it would have been more realistic if she panicked a little bit.

Sky's parents were cool, too. They had a strong presence in the story (so nice to see parents concerned about their kids in YA books!) but they also gave Sky a lot of freedom to do her own thing.

So as I mentioned, there was great action at the end. Enough so to make me want to pick up the second book in the series, Stealing Phoenix. This one is Yves' story and it sounds even more action-packed!

Overall Rating: 4 Stars

Friday, July 6, 2012

Inspired to Art (7)

The Iron Witch by Karen Mahoney was a neat story about a modern girl dealing with very old magic.It was a good read and I liked it. Perhaps even better than the story, though, is the totally cool cover. There are intricate tattoos, and a mysterious bottle of red stuffs. Those who have read this book will know that the bottle holds the elusive Elixir of Life. The cover inspired me to make my own bottle.

I started with the coolest bottle I could find. It's not exactly the same, but it triangular and seemed to fit the theme. Then I added the gems and metal pieces and jewels of varying shapes and materials.

The red liquid is just water, flour (to make it thick) and a few glittery pieces. It looks a little like strawberry juice, but work as an elixir, no?

Some paint to make the bottle look vintage, and voila!