Saturday, October 31, 2009

In My Mailbox - November 1, 2009

In My Mailbox is hosted by The Story Siren :)

So! I got a bunch of random things these last two weeks (didn't post last week) but I'm highlighting the coolest of the cool!

First! I am fortunate to be participating in two great Book Tours. AND! I got my first books for both tours this week! These books and tours deserve special mention as they are pretty fabtabulous :)
Second! A fellow blogger posted a review for some books I had no idea existed but knew I had to have!

To start - Tour Books:

********************

1 ARC Tours - Contributors: Harmony, Hope, Erica, and Yan
Meet the members here :)

The Kindling of GreenFyr by Mark Freeman

(from Amazon)

The Kindling of GreenFyr is the story of Owen McInish, an awkward fourteen-year-old bullied at school and friendless except for his pet cat, Piper. That is until a snow leopard is chased through the woods behind his house by three huge gray dogs with glowing green eyes. Owen saves the leopard from her pursuers, but the animal escapes him as well, only to return later. The cat’s behavior is peculiar, nothing like a wild animal, making Owen even more curious as to its origin. Eventually, the cat allows Owen to pet her. Owen finds himself experiencing friendships as he has never before. Adventures as he has never imagined. And political intrigue as two worlds, long separated, begin to collide.

A few bloggers have read and reviewed the book already - links to their reviews can be found here.

********************

Other Shelf Tours - Contributors: Kate, Casey and Kim
Meet the members here :)

Random Magic by Sasha Soren

(from Amazon)
When absent-minded Professor Random misplaces the main character from Alice in Wonderland, young Henry Witherspoon must book-jump to fetch Alice before chaos theory kicks in and the world vanishes. Along the way he meets Winnie Flapjack, a wit-cracking doodle witch with nothing to her name but a magic feather and a plan. Such as it is. Henry and Winnie brave the Dark Queen, whatwolves, pirates, Struths, and fluttersmoths, Priscilla and Charybdis, obnoxiously cheerful vampires, Baron Samedi, a nine-dimensional cat, and one perpetually inebriated Muse to rescue Alice and save the world by tea time.

You can find links to reviews here as people get their copies and read them :)

********************

And Last by Not Least!

Rhiannon Hart was kind enough to inform me about these! Which I promptly ran out and bought!










Jim Henson's Return To Labyrinth Book 1, 2 and 3 by Jake Forbes

OMG! Can I just say how much I love love love this movie!
More Jareth, Toby and Sarah, you say?
In Manga form?
AWESOME!
I've started book 1 and am loving it!
Could I possibly add more exclamation points to this post?
Yes!
Thank you Rhiannon!

So, what's in your mailbox?

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Book Review: Bad Girls Don't Die by Katie Alender

Title: Bad Girls Don't Die
Author: Katie Alender
Publication Date: April 2009
Genre: YA Fiction / Sci fi
Age: 12+
Pages: 352
Series: 1st in a series
Publisher's website: www.hyperionteens.com
Author's website: www.katiealender.com
Book acquisition: bought new hardcover

Alexis thought she led a typically dysfunctional high school existence. Dysfunctional like her parents' marriage; her doll-crazy twelve-year-old sister, Kasey; and even her own anti-social, anti-cheerleader attitude.
When a family fight results in some tearful sisterly bonding, Alexis realizes that her life is creeping from dysfunction into danger. Kasey is acting stranger than ever: her blue eyes go green sometimes; she uses old-fashioned language; and she even loses track of chunks of time, claiming to know nothing about her strange behavior.
Their old house is changing, too. Doors open and close by themselves; water boils on the unlit stove; and an unplugged air conditioner turns the house cold enough to see their breath in. Alexis wants to think that it's all in her head, but soon, what she liked to think of as silly parlor tricks are becoming life-threatening--to her, her family, and to her budding relationship with the class president.
Alexis knows she's the only person who can stop Kasey -- but what if that green-eyed girl isn't even Kasey anymore?
(from publisher's website)

Oooo - this book gave me the creeps! In a good way! A ghost story with a twist.

I loved the characters - how Alexis was smart and self confident but was able to recognize when things had gone too far - how absolutely creepy Kasey was! - how sweet Carter always was no matter what craziness was happening.
I wasn't really digging Alexis and Kasey's parents. They made me mad at times but they did play an important role in the story.

One thing I didn't like so much was the predictability. I had pretty much figured out the mystery very early on. BUT I think younger folks (12+ age range of the book) wouldn't find this a problem.

Overall, I really enjoyed this book and I have to say - I love the cover! Be warned though - if you do have a little sister...you might be looking at her in a whole new way after reading this book :)

I'm looking forward to the sequel! Check out Katie's site for updates.

4 out of 5 stars

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Checking in plus - HILARIOUS book trailer!

Hey folks! How's it going? How's this Tuesday treating you? Good I hope :)
I'm just checking in to see how everyone is doing and to share some random news.

First off...I kinda forgot to post an In My Mailbox this week...oops! I didn't get all that much last week though - took a break after the ginormous library book sale the week before!

Secondly - how would everyone feel about a swag only giveaway? I'm still in the process of collecting said swag but I thought it might be fun. Maybe pair it with a book giveaway as well. What do you guys think?

Thirdly - I am WAY behind on my reviews! I have read a ton of books and they are patiently waiting around for me to get reviews up. Sorry folks! This is my favorite part of my blog - sharing my thoughts about books with you guys. Part of the reason that it takes me so long is that I think too much about what to say. I can talk your ear off about a book I've read but I have a hard time putting it in writing. I like the practice though and think (or I hope at least!) that my reviews are getting better the more I write them.
So! Stay tuned - I'm going to schedule a bunch of posts over the next couple of weeks. I love sharing the book love!

And speaking of sharing, fourthly? fourth off? Um...next! I have for you an (a?) hilarious - wow - grammar tonight is not my friend! Ok - I have for you a book trailer I found over at Fantastic Book Review. Now, I don't really go in for book trailers much myself but this one is hilarious!

Enjoy and I hope everyone is having a great night! (or day, or afternoon :)

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Newbery Reading Challange Review: 1961 and 1986 Winners

The Island of the Blue Dolphins by Scott O'Dell
1961 Newbery Medal Winner

from PaperBackSwap:

In the Pacific there is an island that looks like a big fish sunning itself in the sea. Around it, blue dolphins swim, otters play, and sea elephants and sea birds abound. Once, Indians also lived on the island. And when they left and sailed to the east, one young girl was left behind.
This is the story of Karana, the Indian girl who lived alone for years on the Island of the Blue Dolphins. Year after year, she watched one season pass into another and waited for a ship to take her away. But while she waited, she kept herself alive by building a shelter, making weapons, finding food, and fighting her enemies, the wild dogs. It is not only an unusual adventure of survival, but also a tale of natural beauty and personal discovery.

What I didn't realize until finishing this book is that it is based on a true story. I find that incredible! The way O'Dell describes the land and the animals on and around the island is amazing. I feel in love with Karana. Hers is a story of survival but also of love - for the family she misses, for her people and for her island.
A wonderful read.

Sarah, Plain and Tall by Patricia MacLachlan
1986 Newbery Medal Winner

from PaperBackSwap:


"Did Mama sing every day?"
Caleb asks his sister Anna.
"Every-single-day," she answers.
"Papa sang, too."
Their mother died the day after Caleb was born. Their house on the prairie is quiet now, and Papa doesn't sing anymore. Then Papa puts an ad in the paper, asking for a wife, and he receives a letter from one Sarah Elisabeth Wheaton, of Maine. Papa, Anna, and Caleb write back. Caleb asks if she sings. Sarah decides to come for a month. She writes Papa: I will come by train. I will wear a yellow bonnet. I am plain and tall, and Tell them I sing. Anna and Caleb wait and wonder. Will Sarah be nice? Will she like them? Will she stay?

This book is adorable. It's short enough for adults to read to young children in a few sittings and the story itself is so cute. It's a very rich story. I loved Anna and Caleb's conversations. Sarah is such a strong character that you can't help falling in love with as her new family does. I can understand why it was make into a movie.
A feel good book and I can see myself reading over and over again.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Contest! Win Eyes Like Stars by Lisa Mantchev


I was lucky enough to snag a second copy and thought I would share the book love!

Who wants to win?

How to enter:
+1 Leave a comment with your email address and answer this question:
What book are you currently reading and how are you liking it?
You MUST answer this question to enter

Extras:
+2 For being a follower
+1 For becoming a follower
+5 For visiting my friend's Etsy page and telling me what piece of her beautiful jewelry you like the best :) PynkeRoseDesigns

***Newly added extras***
+2 Follow me on Twitter - there is a button on my sidebar
+2 Post about this contest on your blog - sidebar is fine
+2 For sending a friend over here to enter - they must mention you in their post and you both will gain the extra entries!

ALSO!
I have some secret swag I'm adding into the mix!

Contest ends November 7th and is open to US residents only (If you are out of the US but have a friend in the US I can ship to feel free to enter)

Ready?

OK........

GO!

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Wishlist Wednesday

So many great books make it onto my whishlist each week. Thought I would share some with you guys! Spreading the book love :)

The Everafter by Amy Huntley
Madison Stanton doesn't know where she is or how she got there. But she does know this—she is dead. And alone, in a vast, dark space. The only company she has in this place are luminescent objects that turn out to be all the things Maddy lost while she was alive. And soon she discovers that with these artifacts, she can reexperience—and sometimes even change—moments from her life.
Her first kiss.
A trip to Disney World.
Her sister's wedding.
A disastrous sleepover.
In reliving these moments, Maddy learns illuminating and sometimes frightening truths about her life—and death.
This is a haunting and ultimately hopeful novel about the beauty of even the most insignificant moments—and the strength of true love even beyond death.


Betrayals by Lili St. Crow
She’s no angel . . .
Poor Dru Anderson. Her parents are long gone, her best friend is a werewolf, and she’s just learned that the blood flowing through her veins isn’t entirely human. (So what else is new?)
Now Dru is stuck at a secret New England School for other teens like her, and there’s a big problem— she’s the only girl in the place. A school full of cute boys wouldn’t be so bad, but Dru’s killer instinct says that one of them wants her dead. And with all eyes on her, discovering a traitor within the Order could mean a lot more than social suicide. . .
Can Dru survive long enough to find out who has betrayed her trust—and maybe even her heart?


The Adoration of Jenna Fox by Mary Pearson
How far would you go to save someone you love? Who is Jenna Fox? Seventeen year old Jenna has been told that is her name. She has just awoken form a year long coma, and she's still recovering form the terrible accident that caused it. Little by little, Jenna begins to remember. Along with the memories come questions-questions no one want to answer for her. What really happened after the accident? In this fascinating novel is an unforgettable look at one human life and a glimpse into a possible future that may be closer than we think.

links and descriptions from Amazon

Monday, October 19, 2009

Book Review: Ghost Huntress Book 1 by Marley Gibson

Title: Ghost Huntress Book 1 The Awakening
Author: Marley Gibson
Publication Date: May 2009
Genre: YA Urban Fantasy
Age: 12+
Pages: 368
Series: 1st in a series. 2nd: Book 2 The Guidance (2009). 3rd TBA
Publisher's website: http://www. houghtonmifflin books. com/graphia/
Author's website: http://www.marleygibson .com
Book acquisition: bought new paperback

The first in a trilogy. Get out your tape recorders, crystals, and extra batteries— you’re about to go where our world meets the spirit world.

Psychic Kids, Paranormal State, Haunting Evidence—these and countless other television shows are making believers out of millions of people: Ghosts exist, and they’re living right beside us. For centuries, individuals have been trying to prove the existence of ghosts. But without hard evidence, it’s been difficult to make the case. But now as science and technology have progressed, ghost hunters have been able to use scientific means, along with more traditional psychic tools, to make their case. Photographs, video recordings, and sound recordings are all producing some amazing results.
In this new series, Ghost Huntress, meet Kendall Moorehead, a seemingly typical teen. When her family moves from Chicago to the small historical town of Radisson, Georgia, her psychic abilities awaken. She’s hearing, feeling, and seeing things that seem unbelievable at first, but with the help of the town psychic, Kendall is able to come to terms with her newly emerging gift. So, together with her new BFF, Celia, Kendall forms a ghost hunting team. They’ve got all the latest technology. They’ve got Kendall for their psychic. Now they’re going to clean up Radisson of its less savory spirits.
The story is fiction. The science is real. Welcome to a new reality
(from publisher's website)

I read this book ages ago (this summer even!) but for some reason I have been having hard time reviewing it. A common theme it seems for me lately. I have noticed this happening with books I haven't been overly excited about.

Overall, I thought Ghost Huntress was a pretty good book. I liked the subject matter - I'm a big fan of ghost hunting in general and I loved how Gibson worked very hard at being authentic. Ghost hunting is a real thing. There are real people out there and whatever you might personally feel about the subject, it would be hard to doubt the hard work and dedication it takes to do this.

A few things about this book turned me off. First off - at times I felt like I was reading a product placement ad rather then a novel. Our main character wore jeans, put on makeup and listened to music. It added nothing to the story to hear about how cool her Gap pants where, her Clinique eyeliner or her Apple ipod was. I'm using my own examples here but I hope you get the picture. It almost felt like the author was trying too hard to show her young audience she was in on the latest trends. OR, it could be that I'm old :) I have heard from younger readers who say that Kendall is spot on and that they really enjoyed how she was written. So, yeah, let's just go with - I'm old :)

I also had a problem with Kendall's mother. She is a church going, God fearing, overbearing Mom who's reactions to Kendell's psychic awakening was so stereotypical I had a hard time getting through sections with dear old Mom in it.

With all this said, I still want to read the second book. I'm curious to see how Gibson continues with Kendell and her team's ghost hunting adventures.

3.5 stars

Sunday, October 18, 2009

In My Mailbox - October 18, 2009


In My Mailbox is hosted by The Story Siren :)

So so so many books this week! No reasons for buying each book in this post- except for the fact that they are all awesome! No Amazon links either - because there are so many! Woo hoo!

Bought
Seeking Spirts: The Lost Cases of the Atlantic Paranormal Society by Jason Hawes and Grant Wilson

BookMooch
Everymore by Alyson Noel

Paperbackswap
I'd Tell You I Love You, But Then I'd Have to Kill You by Ally Carter
Love, Aubrey by Suzanne LaFleur

WON!
The Name of this Book is Secret by Pseudonymous Bosch -- from Jill of The O.W.L Blog
ARC of Prophecy of the Sisters by Michelle Zink -- from Jacqueline from Eclectic Book Lover

Gigantic Library Book Sale!
Kira Kira by Cynthia Kadohata
Sarah, Plain and Tall by Patricia MacLachlan
The BFG by Roald Dahl
Warriors Book 2 Fire and Ice by Erin Hunter
The New Prophecy Warriors: Book 1 Midnight by Erin Hunter
The Underland Chronicles Book 2 Gregor and the Prophecy Bane by Suzanne Collins
Vampire Hunter D Book 1 by Hideyuki Kikuchi
Vampire Hunter D Book 2 by Hideyuki Kikuchi
The Golden Compass by Philip Pullman
The Subtle Knife by Philip Pullman
The Garden of Eve by K.L. Going
Pendragon Book One: The Merchant of Death by D.J. MacHale
Pendragon Book Two: The Lost City of Faar by D.J. MacHale
Working For The Devil by Lilth Saintcrow
Turnabout by Margaret Peterson Haddix
The Hole by Guy Burt

1 ARC Tours
The Kindling of Greenfyr by Mark Freeman

Ok..pretty sure that's it! Might have missed a few pics :)

So - what's in your mailbox?



















Sunday, October 11, 2009

Book Review: Impossible by Nancy Werlin

Title: Impossible
Author: Nancy Werlin
Publication Date: September 2008
Genre: YA Fantasy, Romance
Age: 12+
Pages: 364
Series: no
Publisher's website: www.penguin.com/teens
Author's website: http:// www.nancywerlin.com
Book acquisition: bought new paperback

Inspired by the classic folk ballad “Scarborough Fair,” this is a wonderfully riveting novel of suspense, romance, and fantasy. Lucy is seventeen when she discovers that she is the latest recipient of a generations-old family curse that requires her to complete three seemingly impossible tasks or risk falling into madness and passing the curse on to the next generation. Unlike her ancestors, though, Lucy has family, friends, and other modern resources to help her out. But will it be enough to conquer this age-old evil?
(publisher's website)

So, I read this last month but I've been having a hard time writing up a review. It's not that I didn't like the book - I really did actually. It's just that...not much really happens :)
Impossible is a very well written, sweet story with a fantasy / mystery twist.

The coolest part of the book is the fact that the mystery is based on the old folk song "Scarborough Fair". Most of us have probably heard the Simon and Garfunkel version but what I, at least, didn't know was that the song is much older. Dozens of versions exist today and Werlin even adds her own, with very sweet lyrics.

I really liked how, although Lucy is facing seemingly impossible (get it?) tasks - her family and loved ones are always right there with her. She couldn't do what she did without them and this fact very much adds to the sweetness 0f the story.

One thing I didn't like was the fact that the bad guy - he didn't really seem all that bad. I mean, he was horrible but...I was never really afraid of him and even though others had failed before, I could totally see how easy it would be to beat him at his own game.

As easy read - I would recommend Impossible to fantasy romance fans.
3.5 stars

As a side note - I read the paperback, which is the cover above. I'm not digging the hardcover version. What do you think?








In My Mailbox - October 11, 2009


In My Mailbox is hosted by The Story Siren :)

The week of the ARCs :) I'm thinking about holding a massive ARC contest at some point before Christmas. What do you guys think? Would you like to win some ARCs even if the books are already out?

BookMooch
ARC of Ballads of Suburbia by Stephanie Kuehnert - felt very lucky to have mooched this one
Powers of Detection: Stories of Mystery & Fantasy by various authors including Sharon Shinn - one of my favorites
ARC of Fade to Blue by Sean Beaudoin

Paperbackswap
Red is for Remembrance by Laurie Faria Stolarz -- I only need Black is For Beginnings and I'll have the complete series :)

Bought
Ghost in the Machine by Patrick Carman -- I have been waiting for this one since reading the first in the series, Skeleton Creek (review). I can't wait to read it!!
Thirst by Chirstopher Pike -- I couldn't resist anymore. Pike was my absolute favorite author when I was young teen.

WON!
ARC of Demon Chick by Marilyn Kaye - from Ju Ju at Tales of Whimsy - thank you!


Friday, October 9, 2009

Book Review: The Better Part of Darkness by Kelly Gay

Title: The Better Part of Darkness
Author: Kelly Gay
Publication Date: November 24, 2009
Genre: Adult Urban Fantasy
Age: Adult
Pages: 384
Series: Book 1 of at least 2.
Publisher's website: http://www. simonandschuster.com
Author's website: http://www. kellygay.net/default.asp

Atlanta: it's the promised city for the off-worlders, foreigners from the alternate dimensions of heaven-like Elysia and hell-like Charbydon. Some bring good works and miracles. And some bring unimaginable evil....
Charlie Madigan is a divorced mother of one, and a kick-ass cop trained to take down the toughest human and off-world criminals. She's recently returned from the dead after a brutal attack, an unexplained revival that has left her plagued by ruthless nightmares and random outbursts of strength that make doing her job for Atlanta P.D.'s Integration Task Force even harder. Since the Revelation, the criminal element in Underground Atlanta has grown, leaving Charlie and her partner Hank to keep the chaos to a dull roar. But now an insidious new danger is descending on her city with terrifying speed, threatening innocent lives: a deadly, off-world narcotic known as ash. Charlie is determined to uncover the source of ash before it targets another victim -- but can she protect those she loves from a force more powerful than heaven and hell combined?
(from publisher's website)

Simply put - this book kicks ass! I devoured it. I read it in two days. I read it when I should have been eating, sleeping and bathing. I couldn't put it down. I didn't want to put it down! And when it ended - I was sad. I wanted more, more, more! More Charlie and all her badassness. More Hank with his heavenly beauty. More Emma. More Bryn. More Will. And not just the characters. I want more background, more history, more of the fantasy!

I have to be honest. I'm a fantasy/sci fi junkie but I have been reading so many YA books lately I thought I would get bored with an adult novel (especially after my last disappointing adult read). Fantasy is wonderful in any form, in my book, but some adult novels bog you down with so much extra nonsense that does nothing to add to the story. Not so in The Better Part of Darkness. The setting laid itself out beautifully. I felt like I was being drawn into the story - like I was a long for the ride with the rest of the characters. I laughed when they did, gasped when they gasped and was left longing when they...well...you get the picture.

The world that Gay has created is spectacular. I found it incredibly unique. Mythical creatures we would associate with heaven and hell are really creatures from different dimensions. They have been visiting our world since time began but when a brilliant American scientist discovers the existence of these dimensions, humans find themselves living side by side with beings that previously only existed in their dreams...and nightmares.

Kelly Gay is an award-winning writer but The Better Part of Darkness is her first novel.
I was truly blown away by the awesomeness of this book.

My last words on the subject? READ THIS BOOK! :)
Thank you Kelly!!!

5 out of 5 stars

Monday, October 5, 2009

Newberry Medal Winners Reading Challenge


The Newbery Medal is awarded annually by the American Library Association for the most distinguished American childcare's book published the previous year.
I ask - "How cool would it be to read ALL Newbery Winners?"
"Awesome" I say :)

I got this idea from Bri, over at Bri Meets Books.

I happen to love Newbery books and have been trying to read as many as possible.
My plans are to list, on this post, Newbery books as I read them. There is also a button/link on my sidebar linking back to this post because I plan to update my reading here. I also want to post some reviews of the books as I get them read. I'm not setting an end date for myself but I hope to be finished in the next year or so :0 There are ALOT of books. AND when I'm done with the winners - I'm going to move on to those that were given Honors (there are TONS of those!)

What do you guys think? Sounds like fun doesn't it? :)

Here is a link to the full list from the ALA: Medal Winners 1922-Present

Here is my list of books read so far - any links are for review posts

2009: The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman
2001: A Year Down Yonder by Richard Peck
2000: Bud, Not Buddy by Christopher Paul Curtis
1999: Holes by Louis Sachar
1997: The View from Saturday by E.L. Konigsburg
1994: The Giver by Lois Lowry
1986: Sarah, Plain and Tall by Patrica MacLachlan
1972: Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of NIMH by Robert C. O'Brien
1968: From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler by E.L. Konigsburg
1961: The Island of the Blue Dolphins by Scott O'Dell
1944: Johnny Tremain by Esther Forbes