Monday, November 29, 2010

Book Review: Past Midnight by Mara Purnhagen

Publication Date: September 2010
Pages: 216
Series: 1st in a series
Acquisition: bought

Summary:
Let me set the record straight. My name is Charlotte Silver and I'm not one of those paranormal-obsessed freaks you see on TV…no, those would be my parents, who have their own ghost-hunting reality show. And while I'm usually roped into the behind-the-scenes work, it turns out that I haven't gone unnoticed. Something happened on my parents' research trip in Charleston—and now I'm being stalked by some truly frightening other beings. Trying to fit into a new school and keeping my parents' creepy occupation a secret from my friends—and potential boyfriends—is hard enough without having angry spirits whispering in my ear. All I ever wanted was to be normal, but with ghosts of my past and present colliding, now I just want to make it out of high school alive… (from Goodreads)

My thoughts:
I'm a sucker for a really good ghost story. Ghosts have always been one of my favorite paranormal 'creatures' so I was pretty excited about Past Midnight when I first heard about it.

Charlotte's family is different. Different in ways that Charlotte tries to hide from nearly every new friend she meets. Have to say, I don't think I'm cut out for the life that the Silver family has. Moving every couple of months, never knowing where exactly I'll be. For Charlotte's mom and dad though, it all goes hand in hand with being professional ghost hunters.

Past Midnight starts off right in the middle of a ghost hunting trip to Charleston. I got a really good feel for the characters we were introduced to right off the bat. It made this short read smooth - I didn't feel like I was tripping over character narratives or descriptions.

I also really liked the interconnectedness of the story. Charlotte has been granted her wish - to stay in one place for long enough to make some real friends. She's hiding her family's legacy but at the same time, she meets people with secrets of their own. I very much felt that Charlotte belonged where she was - that she was meant to be with the fiends she found. In the end, everyone needs Charlotte's help and she's more then capable of giving it. Along the way however, she discovers that true friends can be there for her when she needs them most.

Also, the romance? Not really there! Well, ok, there is romance - a couple of different kinds actually. But it in no way played a major role in the overall story. I loved this! Every relationship felt real and I loved Charlotte's friends.

Reminded me of:
The Ghost Huntress series, but I liked Past Midnight a lot more. Also, even though it's non-fiction, I couldn't help but think of the writings of Jason and Grant from the Syfy channel's Ghost Hunters. They have 2 books out on their work and I kept thinking of these whenever Charlotte would mention her parent's best sellers.

Final verdict:
A really good read. I'm very much looking forward to reading more in this series. I got very attached to Charlotte, her family and her new found friends and I can't wait to see where the ghosts will lead them next.

Overall Rating:
5 / 5 Stars

Past Midnight Series:
Past Midnight
One Hundred Candles (March 2011)
Beyond the Grave (September 2011)

Linkage Love:
Harlequin Teen
Author's Website
Goodreads

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Not in my mailbox...but maybe in yours :)

Hey guys! I'm still away from my home base visiting with family. I don't think I ate too much turkey (yet) and I did survive black Friday shopping AND I have no idea if I got anything in my mailbox this week SO

...would you like another chance to win these!!


but you know...filled with books :)

I'm adding another winner to my Box-O-Books Mega Giveaway since you guys are so fantastic and not only have I gained another 50 followers (thank you!!!) but I passed 500 followers total which is just truly amazing to me!

There is still time to enter all 4 of my current giveaways! 
Please click through to each original post for full details and entry forms.





I'm suffering from mailbox withdrawal so I'll be stalking others blogs for some mailbox love. Feel free to comment on this post with your IMM link so I can revel in your book love :)

Thanks again everyone!!

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Holiday Break

Hey guys,
I'm heading out to visit family tonight and won't be back until Sunday. I'll have my computer with me and I might have time to post but the turkey coma / Long Island black Friday shopping might just do me in :)

Hope you all are having a great week and have a safe and happy holiday!

I leave you all, for now, with a four year old picture of me, my flailing daughter, and a turkey covered with bacon ;)

p.s. I think this is the first picture of myself I have ever posted...might be the last too ;) Pictures of bacon however are still fair game....hmmmm bacon....

Monday, November 22, 2010

Contest! The Lost Saint ARC + Nail polish

This is going to be a quick one because I know so many of you are dying to read this!


The Lost Saint (Dark Divine Novel Book 2) by Bree Despain
+
1 bottle of blue nail polish


GIVEAWAY DETAILS
*Open to US residents 13 years or older (if you are under 13 please ask your parents to email me at WilowRaven@yahoo.com before entering)
*Ends December 8, 2010 11:59 EST
*Fill out THIS FORM to enter
*1 entry per person! I recommend that you comment before filling out the form :)
*Extra entries for following (blog, twitter)

Good luck guys!!
Again, please fill out THIS FORM to enter!

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Chronicle Books Happy Haul-idays Giveaway!

Oh man, this is an awesome giveaway!

Chronicle has really out done themselves! One lucky blogger is going to win up to $500 in Chronicle Books of their choosing.
Not a blogger? No problem because one lucky commenter on one lucky blog is going to win as well!

Here's the official scoop!
For Bloggers: Post a list of Chronicle Books valued at up to $500 that you’d like to haul in, and you’ll be automatically entered into a drawing to WIN your list of books! And, one of your readers who comments on the post will win the list too!

For Everyone else: Visit these blogs for your chance to win a haul of Chronicle Books! Each of these blogs has posted a list of books valued up to $500! One blogger and one commenter on the winning post will each WIN the list!

Complete contest information can be found here!

Took me a while and my list is kinda all over the place but here is what I picked. Don't forget to comment for a chance to win if I win! How cool would that be?

*Prisoners in the Palace by Michaela MacColl
*The Space Between Trees by Katie Williams
*The Whitby Witches by Robin Jarvis
*Super-Charged Smoothies by Mary Corpening Barber and Sara Corpening Whiteford
*The Tea Deck by Sara Perry
*D.I.Y Delicious by Vanessa Barringon and Sara Remington
*Zombies by Don Roff and Chris Lane
*Tortilla Sun by Jennifer Cervantes
*The Ivy and Bean Secret Treasure Box: Books 1, 2, 3 and Cool Secret Surprise by Annie Barrows and *Sophie Blackall
*Out of Sight by Pittau & Gervais
*Night of the Living Trekkies by Kevin David Anderson and Sam Stall
*Olvie, the Other Reindeer by J Otto Seibold and Vivian Walsh
*Subversive Cross Stitich by Julie Jackson
*Escape from Fire Island by James H. English
*Sense and Sensibility and Sea Monsters by Jane Austen and Ben H. Winters
*Flour by Joanne Chang, Christine Matheson, Keller + Keller
*Cake Pops by Bakerella by Angie Dudley
*Whoopie Pies by Sarah Billingsley, Any Treadwell and Antonis Achilleos
*I love Macaroons by Hisako Ogita
*Creature ABC by Andrew Zuckerman
*Mini Masters Boxed Set by Julie Merberg and Suzanne Bober
*The Story of Little Red Riding Hood by Jacob and Wilhelm Grimm and Christopher Bing
*The Worst-Case Scenario Survival Handbook: Junior Edition Boxed Set by David Borgenicht, Justin Heimberg and Robin Epstien
*Fast, Fresh & Green by Susie Middleton
*Garden Anywhere by Alys Fowler
*Rum Drinks by Jessica B. Harris and Tara Donne


Thank you Chronicle!!

In My Mailbox - November 21, 2010

In My Mailbox is hosted by The Story Siren :)

So busy getting ready for Thanksgiving travel! (anyone want to come to my house, do my laundry and pack for me? no? ....oh well :)

Great mailbox items this week!

Awesome swag pack!!

For Review
Lockdown and Solitary by Alexander Gordon Smith

Big thanks go out to Amy and Authors on the Web

AND THEN I GOT THIS!!
NO WAIT! YOU CAN'T SEE THAT!
hehehe...that's for a special giveaway tomorrow...
What could it be?
Gonna have to stop by tomorrow to find out!
hehehe....

So, what's in your mailbox?

Friday, November 19, 2010

Book Review: Hunger by Jackie Morse Kessler

Age: 12+
Publication Date: October 2010
Pages: 180
Series: 1st in a series
Acquisition: ARC from NetGalley

Summary:
“Thou art the Black Rider. Go thee out unto the world.”
Lisabeth Lewis has a black steed, a set of scales, and a new job: she’s been appointed Famine. How will an anorexic seventeen-year-old girl from the suburbs fare as one of the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse?
Traveling the world on her steed gives Lisa freedom from her troubles at home: her constant battle with hunger, and her struggle to hide it from the people who care about her. But being Famine forces her to go places where hunger is a painful part of everyday life, and to face the horrifying effects of her phenomenal power. Can Lisa find a way to harness that power — and the courage to battle her own inner demons? (Goodreads)

Quick thoughts:
Wholly different from anything I have ever read. Part dramatic teen drama, part paranormal fantasy.

Likes:
The whole premise was pretty fascinating. The Four Horseman of the Apocalypse aren't what I imagined them to be. A new Famine is needed and Lisa, who has yet to come to terms with her anorexia, has been chosen. It's only after seeing true famine in the world that she faces her own troubles.

The way Lisa interacts with the other Horsemen was very enjoyable to read and I especially liked Death.

Dislikes:
I loved Lisa as a character but some of the other supporting characters I had a hard time feeling connected to. It's clear the her family and friends care about her but I didn't feel like we got enough of them.

Also, I took it on fact that the horsemen, and Lisa's involvement with them were true. But, I think one could argue that they could have been all in Lisa's head. Her way of dealing (or not) with her problems. I personally like the paranormal elements present but if we render them as delusions, a lot of the story looses it's meaning for me.

Final thoughts:
Using the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse as a means to an end for a girl with a very serious eating disorder was a pretty strange concept to read about. I do think that Jackie made it work and I'm looking forward to reading more books in the series.

Overall Rating:
4 / 5

Books in the Series:
Hunger
Rage (April 2011)

Linkage Love:
Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
Author's Website
Goodreads

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Book Review: The Samantha Granger Experiment: Fused by Kari Lee Townsend

Age: 12+ (my guess)
Publication Date: November 2010
Pages: 208
Series: 1st in a series
Acquisition: received an ARC for review

Summary:
After Sam is fused with her cell phone, she's ready to conquer the world! Or at least the 8th grade...
When Samantha Granger touches a meteor while talking on her cell phone, her life is changed forever: her body now has all the capabilities of her phone (GPS, phone, text, camera). She secretly calls herself a "Digital Diva" as she rushes to answer emergency calls. But will her identity be discovered when sparks fly (literally!) between her and Trevor, her dreamy crush? Samantha has to get a handle on her abilities and quick, because when Sam gets kidnapped and the entire town is in danger, she is the only one who can save them. (from Goodreads)

Quick thoughts:
Fun and cute! I very much loved the concept and really wished that I could somehow be fused with my cell phone :)

Likes:
I really liked Samantha. She's a quirky kid who doesn't back down from a challenge. She's scared and confused but she's also confident (most of the time :)

As 'Digital Diva' she's amazing. Imagine being able to do everything your smart phone can do - in seconds - in your head! Now imagine that your smart phone is so much more then a phone could ever be. I loved how Sam had to read the intruction manual (also in her head) to figure out exactly what she was cappable of doing.

Dislikes:
The pace was a little off for me. Could be an attrubute of it being an unfished copy but I felt like the actions of the characters were all over the place. It was hard for me to keep track of who was where doing what and at what times.

Also, the characters had a 'young' voice but the romance? Not at all fitting for a 13 year old and no13 year old boy has an 'impressive chest' - in my opinon. Sam's hormones are what gets her in trouble at times but I almost wished we could have had her story without the boy element.

Final thoughts:
A fun read that I think middle grade or tween girls would really enjoy. As a first in a series it deffinatly peaked my interest and I'm curious as to where Sam's special applities will take her.

Overall Rating:
3 / 5 Stars

The Samantha Granger Experiment Series:
Fused
Fearless (June 2011)
Freedom (November 2011)

Linkage Love:
Sourcebooks
Author's Website
Goodreads

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Book Review: 13 to Life by Shannon Delany

Age: 14+
Publication Date: June 2010
Pages: 320
Series: 1st in a series
Acquisition: bought new paperback

Summary:
Everything about Jessie Gillmansen’s life changed when her mother died. Now even her hometown of Junction is changing.  Mysterious dark things are happening. All Jessie wants is to avoid more change. But showing a hot new guy around Junction High, she’s about to discover a whole new type of change. Pietr Rusakova is more than good looks and a fascinating accent—he’s a guy with a dangerous secret. And his very existence is sure to bring big trouble to Jessie’s small town.  It seems change is the one thing Jessie can’t avoid…(from Goodreads)


Quick thoughts:
I really liked the story but I'm torn because by the end of the book I had pretty much lost all respect for Jessie.

Likes:
The story - it moved along well and even though it wasn't that long, I felt that each character was given his or her due. I felt a connection to the characters, which doesn't always happen for me.

I really liked Pietr's family. I'm glad this is the first in a series because there is so much going on with them - secrets and mystery - love it!

Dislikes:
Sorry to say, but I didn't like Jessie at all. Her and Pietr have this weird, love at first site, we are meant to be together thing going on - which I never like. But, it's almost like we are suppose to feel sorry for Jessie that she can't be with him. The reason she can't be with him? She's making him date one of her best friends. Ok, so this friend has some issues of her own and some might say that it doesn't matter what happens to her BUT to Jessie, she's a friend. So, Jessie's lying to her friend (in a really bad way), she's not staying away from Pietr like she planned (because when they are alone, apparently it's impossible for them not to touch each other), and she's some sort of martyr for it? I don't think so. I found her actions pretty reprehensible.

Reminded me of:
13 to Life very much reminded me of Twilight and I'm not sure yet if that's a good thing or not. I'm not a Twilight hater but still, even though the paranormal elements were different, the story line, for me, felt very much the same.

Final thoughts:
Not a great read for me but others will enjoy it. Very much felt like a 1st in a series, which I'm happy about because I'm really curious where the story line will go.

Not my favorite, but I would still recommend it.

Overall Rating:
3 / 5 Stars

Books in the Series:
13 to Life
Secrets and Shadows (February 2011)

Linkage Love:
St. Martin's
Author's Website
Goodreads

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Contest! Huge Scholastic Holiday Giveaway

Thanks to the wonderful folks at Big Honcho Media and Scholastic, I have a great prize pack for you guys! The holidays are just around the corner and I know a lot of you have young readers in your lives :)

From Scholastic:
Give the gift of reading to your child this holiday season! Scholastic books make the perfect stocking stuffer for any child on your list.
We have a HUGE prize pack filled with the most popular children’s books in the marketplace to offer one lucky reader! Titles include CAPTAIN SKY BLUE, IT’S CHRISTMAS DAVID, OOK and GLUK as well as TONY BALONEY, ODIOUS OGRE and I SPY CHRISTMAS A CHRISTMAS TREE!




My review of Ook and Gluk is coming soon! A very cool book.





GIVEAWAY DETAILS
*Open to US residents 13 years or older (if you are under 13 please ask your parents to email me at WilowRaven@yahoo.com before entering)
*Ends December 13, 2010 11:59 EST
*Fill out THIS FORM to enter
*1 entry per person! I recommend that you comment before filling out the form :)
*Extra entries for following (blog, twitter)

Wish I could enter! Good luck guys!!
Again, please fill out THIS FORM to enter!

In My Mailbox - November 14, 2010

In My Mailbox is hosted by The Story Siren :)

Pretty good week for me, although I'm waiting on a bunch of stuff to show up...kinda worried it's all gonna come on the same day...no, I don't have surprises for you, what are you talking about?! hehe

Take a look!

How cool is it that all my books color coordinate this week! Love the black / green thing going on - so didn't plan that!

Twilight The Graphic Novel Volume 1 by Stephenie Meyer -- I'm not a huge Twilight fan but I really wanted to read this one and I was not about to pay $20 to do so. Yes, even when it comes to books, I can be cheap :) Thank you PBS!

Bought -- my indie bookstore was having an anniversary sale and I just couldn't resist! The swag is from them as well!

Library ebook (not pictured)
Revolution by Jennifer Donnelly -- OMG this book is good!!

Links are to Goodreads

So, what's in your mailbox?

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Book Review: The Emerald Talisman by Brenda Pandos

Reading Age: Young Adult
Publication Date: March 2010
Pages: 280
Series: 1st in a series
Acquisition: La Femme Readers Book Tour

Summary:
To be normal, sixteen-year-old Julia Parker would shed her empathic gift in a second. Life has been difficult since her mother's mysterious disappearance ten years earlier - an event she witnessed, but can't remember. Julia's situation becomes more complicated after a near death experience from a blood thirsty stalker. As high school students go missing it is clear there is a connection to her own experience--past and present. Someone has to stop the madness and a chance encounter with a creepy psychic foretells that only Julia is the key to stopping the madness, but it may require the life of the one she loves. (from Goodreads)

Quick thoughts:
Vampires as blood thirsty villains - the way I've always envisioned them. I wasn't a huge fan of the romance but I did enjoy both Julia and her mystery man Nicholas. Lots of potential for some really cool vampire lore. Looking forward to more from the series.

Likes:
I liked the overall feel of the book. Strange things are happening in Julia's world and she doesn't quite know what to make of it all. There was a layer of mystery throughout that I really found appealing.

Also, Julia's ability to read people's emotions was pretty spiffy! I would be very easy for her to use this gift to manipulate but Julia is always looking for ways to help her friends.

Julia's family is also present and accounted for  - something that is sometimes lacking in YA books. Her father is caring and loving but also a little overprotective. Pretty realistic given the family's circumstances. Her older  brother treats her, well, like an older brother should! I found myself enjoying their interactions very much.

Dislikes:
The romance was a little weird for me. I don't want to give too much away but there is a time / age element that I wasn't too keen on. I really liked both Julia and Nicholas but I wasn't really routing for them as a couple.

Also, I would have liked to have Julia's ability explained. I'm hoping more info will come out in the next book, which I'm very much looking forward to reading.

Reminded me of:
No YA vampire stories come to mind, which I think is a good thing!

Final thoughts:
A very enjoyable read that I think fans of vampires and also anti-fans of vampires would enjoy. A great first book for Brenda and I hope there are lots more to come.

Overall Rating:
4 / 5 Stars

Books in the Series:
The Emerald Talisman
The Sapphire Talisman

Linkage Love:
Obsidian Mountain Publishing
Author's Blog
Series Website
Goodreads

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Book Review: The Secret of Ka by Christopher Pike

Age: 12+
Publication Date: September 2010
Pages: 416
Series: no
Acquisition: NetGalley

Summary:
One minute Sara's bored on vacation in Istanbul. The next, she's unearthed a flying carpet that cleverly drags her to the mysterious Island of the Djinn—or genies. By her side is Amesh, a hot boy she's starting to love but doesn't yet trust. When Amesh learns the secret of invoking djinn, he loses control. He swears he'll call upon only one djinn and make one wish. The plan sounds safe enough. But neither Sara nor Amesh are any match for the formidable monster that that swells before them. It hypnotizes Amesh, compelling him to steal Sara’s flying carpet—the ancient Carpet of Ka—and leave her stranded.
Discovering the Carpet of Ka has sparked a new path for Sara, one that will lead her to battle creatures even deadlier than djinn. In this fight, Sara can save mankind, herself, or the boy she loves. Who will she be forced to sacrifice? (from Goodreads)

Quick thoughts:
Loved it! Christopher Pike's books hold a special place in my heart - I've loved them since I was a kid. The Secret of Ka really stands out as one of his best for me. Lots of the same elements I've always loved with a truly unique story.

Likes:
The storytelling - it was spot on. Every scene held such rich detail and all the pieces fit together so well. It would have been really easy to portray Sara as an arrogant, American brat. She's basically alone in a foreign country with nothing to do and almost unlimited resources. Add some magic and a cute boy and you might think you're holding a shallow teen drama book. In this case, you would be very very wrong.

I loved the character of Sara. She's someone I would want to be friends with. She never gives up and is willing to sacrifice everything for the people she loves. Her internal fortitude is very strong. When you add in the other elements of the story, she just becomes that much more likable. She really made this book for me.

I loved the setting as well - Istanbul both past and present. The myth and legend of the djinn was fascinating. The mystery and suspense - what I expect from Pike - wrapped around a really solid story and a some wonderful characters.

Also, there were some twists at the end that I did not see coming at all. They worked so well with the story and I was really impressed with the fact that I didn't catch on sooner. The mark of an extremely well told story.

Dislikes:
I wish it were longer. Not part of a series necessarily - just longer. Like, twice as long would work for me. It was that good.

Final thoughts:
I highly recommend this one to fans of Pike and new readers as well. The magic of this world is wonderful and anyone who is looking for a different type of young adult fantasy book should pick up a copy of The Secret of Ka.

Overall Rating:
5 / 5 Stars

Linkage Love:
Houghton Mifflin
Fantastic Fiction Page
Goodreads

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Guest Post: Author Brenda Pandos

Hi guys! Today we have a special guest. Please welcome Brenda Pandos, author of  The Emerald Talisman and it's upcoming sequel, The Sapphire Talisman.

The Emerald Talisman was a great read for me (review to come soon!) and I highly recommend it.

Thanks for visiting Brenda!

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
I think if my book were turned into a movie, this is who I’d like to cast as my characters.

Charlie Weber as Nicholas
(I had to include him without a shirt)

Blake Lively as Julia

Matthew Czuchry as Phil

Ashely Greene as Samantha

Katy Perry as Katie (Imagine the coincidence in names)

Stacy Haiduk as Alora

Of course, these are based on looks and I’ve not seen most of these people act, so I wouldn’t know if they fit the part. 

Thanks for having me on your blog!

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
It was great having you Brenda :)

The Sapphire Talisman can be pre-ordered here.

For more Brenda awesomeness, be sure to visit the other stops on the tour.

Monday, November 8, 2010

Book Review: The Absolute Value of -1 by Steve Brezenoff

Age: 12+
Publication Date: September 2010
Pages: 296
Series: no
Acquisition: ARC from NetGalley

Summary:
The absolute value of any number, positive or negative, is its distance from zero: |-1| = 1
Noah, Lily, and Simon have been a trio forever. But as they enter high school, their relationships shift and their world starts to fall apart. Privately, each is dealing with a family crisis—divorce, abuse, and a parent's illness. Yet as they try to escape the pain and reach out for the connections they once counted on, they slip—like soap in a shower. Noah’s got it bad for Lily, but he knows too well Lily sees only Simon. Simon is indifferent, suddenly inscrutable to his friends. All stand alone in their heartache and grief.
In his luminous YA novel, Steve Brezenoff explores the changing value of relationships as the characters realize that the distances between them are far greater than they knew. (from Goodreads)

Quick thoughts:
Absolutely amazing. No happily ever after, no everything fitting into place by the end. Was this a problem? Defiantly not!

Likes:
It's about teenagers growing up on Long Island. I was a teenager growing up on Long Island and I might not have had some of the problems that Noah, Lily and Simon have, but I sure as hell knew people who did.

In each section we get a different characters point of view. I loved this! We see the same scenes played out through each characters eyes. Let me tell you, it felt so real! It's like 3 people telling the same story and everything they tell you is true - it's how they see it, but each story is very different.

Lilly remembers every word Simon has ever said to her, yet Simon barely notices when she's in the room. Noah acts like nothing phases him, yet every move he makes is calculated. And Simon? I pretty much loved to hate him. In my mind, he was the good guy but....after seeing what was really going through his mind? Not so much.

I knew people like Lilly, Simon and Noah growing up. I could almost see myself in their situations and loved it.

Dislikes:
Hard to say since I pretty much loved every word on every page. Forced to pick something, I would have to say that my one dislike would be the character of Suzanne. She's Simon's sister and she plays a integral part in the story but we only get her for a chapter at the beginning and another one at the very end. There was way more to her story then what we were given and I would have liked to have seen more of her. But, have to say, her vague presence, really worked with the overall story.

Final thoughts:
One of my top reads of 2010. Steve's storytelling was excellent and I'm excited to read more from him in the future.

Overall Rating:
5 / 5 Stars

Linkage Love:
Carolrhoda Lab
Author's Website
Goodreads

Sunday, November 7, 2010

In My Mailbox - November 7, 2010

In My Mailbox is hosted by The Story Siren :)

um....kinda forget about posting my IMM this week. Nothing really to blame except pure laziness :) Seriously - didn't really get anything done this weekend. Pretty sure I'm going to regret that soon...

Anyway!

Here's what I got :)

Won from Goodreads
The Vampire Diaries: Stefan's Diaries Volume 1 Origins by L.J. Smith
Is it just me or are these titles getting a little clunky? And, the book actually says it's "Based on the novels by L.J. Smith and the TV series developed by Kevin Williamson and Julie Plec" so....I'm not really sure who actually wrote the words. In any case, I'm itching to get all the Vampire Diaries series books read ;)






For Review from NetGalley:
The Vespertine by Saundra Mitchell - March 2011 from Harcourt
Those That Wake by Jesse Karp - March 2011 from Harcourt
Trickster's Girl by Hilair Bell - January 2011 from Houghton Mifflin

So, what's in your mailbox?

Friday, November 5, 2010

Cover Love

Just found this one!


Edited by Ellen Datlow and Terri Windling
April 2011 from HarperCollins

Not sure if this is YA but it has stories written by Neil Gaiman, Melissa Marr, Cassandra Clare, Holly Black and a bunch of others!

From Goodreads:
Sink your teeth into these bite-sized tales exploring the intersections among the living, dead, and undead. The vampires in these stories range from romantic to chilling to gleeful—and touch on nearly every emotion in between. The one thing they have in common? Their desire for blood.... 

looks yummy!

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Winners!

Random.com has spoken :)

Winner of Where The Truth LIes
Tina (email starts with melod)

Winner of Cate of the Lost Colony
Jennelle S from www.readingisdreamy.blogspot.com

I'll be emailing you guys soon and but if I don't hear back from you by Monday I'll have to pick new winners!

If you see this post before I email you, please email me your shipping address at WilowRaven@yahoo.com

Congratulations!

CSN Giveaway :)

Thanks to the lovely folks at CSN Stores I have a $55 online gift certificate for one lucky winner.

Contest Details:
*Open to residents of the US and Canada
*Ends November 30, 2010 at 11:50pm EST
*Please fill out the form below to enter

Good Luck Guys!


Box-o-Books Mega Giveaway Fun!

Hey guys! Who out there wants to win this?!

"Um...but Emily" you might be saying, "That's just an empty box. Who wants that? Why are you so mean? I hate you! Leave me alone!"

Ok....

But what if I filled the box with some of this?

And maybe some more of this?


NOW how much do you love me? Come on, say it!

"WE LOVE YOU EMILY!"

It's time for a clear my shelves, make room for more books, spread the love, book giveaway extravaganza!
Or, Box-O-Books Mega Giveaway :)

Basically, anything I can fit in the box is yours. You can pick and choose your favorites, I'll add in some yummy swag, cram in a few extra stuff if there's room and TA DA! I have gained your instant and undying love! Right? ;)

Contest Details:
*Open to US residents 13 years or older
*Ends December 3, 2010 at 11:59pm EST
*No need to be a follower but you'll get some extra entries if you do (see the form)
*1 entry per person - I suggest you comment on this post to help you remember if you've entered 

*I'LL ADD ANOTHER BOX AND ANOTHER WINNER IF I GAIN 50 MORE FOLLOWERS BEFORE DECEMBER 3RD - SO SPREAD THE WORD! :)
***Update***
Second winner added!!! (thank you guys!!)

*You must fill out THIS FORM to enter :)

Have fun and good luck!

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Audio Book Review: Beastly by Alex Flinn

Age: 14+
Pub Dates: Book-Oct 2007 / Audio-June 2010
Length: 6h 42m
Narrator: Chris Patton
Series: no
Acquisition: free download from Audio Community

Summary:
I am a beast. A beast. Not quite wolf or bear, gorilla or dog, but a horrible new creature who walks upright – a creature with fangs and claws and hair springing from every pore. I am a monster.
You think I’m talking fairy tales? No way. The place is New York City. The time is now. It’s no deformity, no disease. And I’ll stay this way forever – ruined – unless I can break the spell.
Yes, the spell, the one the witch in my English class cast on me. Why did she turn me into a beast who hides by day and prowls by night? I’ll tell you. I’ll tell you how I used to be Kyle Kingsbury, the guy you wished you were, with money, perfect looks, and a perfect life. And then, I’ll tell you how I became perfectly beastly. (from Goodreads)

Audio critique:
The first chapter of Beastly is a online chat room transcript. Have to say, this format doesn't really translate well to audio! After the first chapter though the book flows into a more normal pace.

I really liked how Chris Patron read the part of Kyle Kingsbury, our MC. Especially once he turned into a beast. I could really feel the emotion behind his words. From arrogant and self centered, to introspective and accepting.

Likes:
I love the whole premise. If you think you're better then everyone else, better watch out, there may be someone lurking in the shadows ready to cut you down to size. Kyle doesn't care how he treats people and he pays for it.

I also really liked the romance. It seemed  very natural. You know, as natural as falling in love with a beast can be :) It was also very sweet.

Now Kyle - I was pretty sure he was going to be a major 'dislike' for me. I really couldn't stand him at first and I didn't think that would change. I was surprised as anyone to discover I was actually rooting for him in the end. The reality of his life actually humbles him. It was kinda moving.

Dislikes:
Kyle :) Ok, ok, so even if I liked him by the end - Kyle in the beginning? Not so much.

Also, Kyle's father. I guess Kyle had to learn his self entitled, no one but me matters ways from someone but the way Kyle's father treats him? It's just downright mean. He's a very well written character, but he was also a distraction of sorts. A character that had to be there but didn't really add anything to the story for me.

Reminded me of:
Other fairy tale type retellings - Gregory Maguire's books come to mind.

Final thoughts:
A good story and a good audio book. Alex Flinn did a great job taking a classic fairy tale and incorporating it into the modern world. The lesson of the story was really driven home. Chris Patton did a wonderful job bringing the characters to life.

Overall Story Rating:
4 / 5
Overall Audio Book Rating:
4 / 5

Linkage Love:
Harper Teen
Brilliance Audio
Author's Website
Goodreads

Tidbits:
*Beastly has been made into a movie with a March 2011 release date. Not sure if I'll see it or not. They made a few major changes....like the fact that Kyle isn't a beast...he's a weirdly disfigured guy with a tree? tattoo on his face. Also, Mary-Kate Olsen is in it so...no. BUT Neil Patrick Harris is also it in so...yes? Have to wait and see!

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

GirlUp Event - Comment For A Good Cause!



Two wonderful ladies, Eleni from La Femme Readers and Tori from Book Faery have teamed up to raise awareness about GirlUp, a United Nations Foundation dedicated towards raising awareness and funds for hard-to-reach adolescent girls around the world.

They are donating their own money based on how many comments they receive.

Want to help?

Visit La Femme Readers and the Book Faery and get those comment fingers typing!

AND!

There are prizes! Lots and lots of great prizes donated by some fantastic people in the publishing world. Check out their posts for more information.

Aren't these ladies fantastic?

Book Review: Fledgling: Jason Steed by Mark A. Cooper

Age: 9+
Publication Date: September 2010 (reprint)
Pages: 240
Series: 1st in a series
Acquisition: received an ARC for review

Summary:
Tormented by his mother's death...
Taken for granted by his father...
Trained in deadly martial arts...
Jason Steed is looking for a place to call home. He finds what he's looking for in the Sea Cadets-an elite group of British youngsters being groomed for lifelong service in the military. But when a routine training exercise goes awry, Jason finds himself in the middle of a secret mission. The future of the world hangs in the balance...and Jason might be the only one who can save it. (from Amazon)

Quick thoughts:
Very different from what I usually read. Not of fan of war stories but I couldn't help but love Jason.

Likes:
Such a well told story. When I read, it's like a movie is running through my head. I was able to envision each scene of this book and I love when that happens. Shinning as the star of my little head production was Jason. We meet him at birth and follow him for the next 11 years. His overbearing father, his extreme intelligence and rationality, his childhood friendship with a royal princess. It's all pretty amazing.

Dislikes:
Under circumstances out of his control, Jason is thrust into the heat of battle. War - in all it's horrific glory. There were a few particular scenes that I had a hard time getting through. I'm not a fan of war at all - in  movies, in books, in newspapers or magazines. War is something my brain has a hard time processing. The brutality, the destruction, the complete disregard for human life.

Jason is fighting in a war and he's 11. He experiences some things and does a few other things that I had a very, very hard time with.

Now, I might be overall cautious here but I would highly recommend that parents, teachers and the like read this book first before handing it off to the middle grade crowd. Do I think kids will enjoy it? Yes, but the adults in their lives should know what they are reading, if for no other reason then for the questions that might arise.

Reminded me of:
Totally out of my normal genre so I really have nothing to compare the story to. Jason, however, very much reminded me of Artemis Fowl.

Final thoughts:
A good read. A powerful book that will stay with me. It was both lighthearted and extremely deep and moving.

Overall Rating:
3 / 5 Stars

Linkage Love:
Sourcebooks
Author's Website
Goodreads

Tidbits:
*Fledgling was originally self-published by Infinity in 2008

Monday, November 1, 2010

Book Review: Hide!!! By Jeff Foxworthy, Illustrated by Steve Bjorkman

Age: 4-7
Publication Date: October 2010
Acquisition: received finished copy for review

Summary:
On a Saturday morning
Like many before
The kids were all restless.
In fact, they were bored.
It had finally stopped raining
After nearly a week
Then they had an idea,
'Let's play hide and seek!'
Comedian Jeff Foxworthy tells the story of a neighborhood hide and seek game and invites readers to join in! With vivid illustrations and a hearty dose of silliness, each page includes a hidden child, a seeker, and a whole bunch of other hidden objects for kids to find.
Can you help Rachel Green find Sue, along with one raccoon, two spoons, three mops, four flip flops.
Hide!!! is guaranteed to charm readers of all ages. (from Goodreads)

My Thoughts:
My daughter is 4 and nearly every day she tells me how she can't wait until she is old enough to read. (How happy am I!?!). Before that day comes, and hopefully even after, she very much enjoys being read to. I read Hide!! to her the day it arrived and she absolutely loved it!

I have to say, although I know who Jeff Foxworthy is and I know he has written a few books, I never thought I would love a children's book written by him so much. I was especially sceptial when I heard reviews and press releases comparing his writing style to Dr. Seuss. I mean, Dr. Seuss is pretty much my idol - no one could compare to him!

Was I very pleasantly surprised? Yes! The rhyming prose, the overall story, yes, I was reminded of Dr. Seuss. Also, Hide!!! is more then just a really good story. Each two page spread has hidden objects to find. Seriously, my whole family was in on the action! Pages 10 and 11 were expeccially tricky but after a while we managed to find 1 Raccoon, 2 Spoons, 3 Mops, 4 Flip Flops, 5 Monkey Eyes and 6 Butterflies!

This book would make a great gift for any young ones in your life. My daughter has proudly claimed my copy as hers and insists that it sit on her bookcase ('Not yours Mama!').

I highly recommend this one to kids ages 4 and up and to anyone who loves reading to children - you'll have a blast!

Overall Rating:
5 / 5 Stars

Linkage Love:
Beaufortbooks
Author's Website
Illustrator's Website
Goodreads

Monthly Reads - October 2010

Even though the Halloween candy fairy was a little too generous this year, I'm still sad to see October go.It was a great month for fabulous Fall weather, holiday tricks and treats and lots of great books!
Not looking forward to the onslaught of the retail industry pushing Christmas down my throat BUT I am looking forward to Thanksgiving. Turkey...yum!

I did better, reading wise, in October, then I have in a while! So, even though a few were very short and easy to read I'm still patting myself on the back - so there! :)

Let's see just how awesome I am - ha!

Hard Copy Books Read:
Beautiful Dead: Arizona by Eden Maguire
Secondhand Charm by Julie Berry
13 to Life by Shannon Delany
Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark by Alvin Schwartz
Odd and the Frost Giants by Neil Gaiman
Firelight by Sophie Jordan
The Emerald Talisman by Brenda Pandos
The Better Part of Darkness by Kelly Gay
The Adventures of Ook and Gluk by George Beard and Harold Hutchins

E-Books Read:
The Secret of Ka by Christopher Pike
The Absolute Value of -1 by Steve Brezenoff
Rage by Jackie Morse Kessler
Always a Witch by Carolyn MacCullough

Books Listened To:
Wondrous Strange by Lesley Livingston

14 Total!
Woo hoo! I bet I can sneak a few more audio books in this month ;) Gotta love being able to listen to them at work - I love my job!

So, how was your October?