Friday, April 29, 2011

Contest: Discovery of Witches - Deborah Harkness

A richly inventive novel about a centuries-old vampire, a spellbound witch, and the mysterious manuscript that draws them together. 
Deep in the stacks of Oxford's Bodleian Library, young scholar Diana Bishop unwittingly calls up a bewitched alchemical manuscript in the course of her research. Descended from an old and distinguished line of witches, Diana wants nothing to do with sorcery; so after a furtive glance and a few notes, she banishes the book to the stacks. But her discovery sets a fantastical underworld stirring, and a horde of daemons, witches, and vampires soon descends upon the library. Diana has stumbled upon a coveted treasure lost for centuries-and she is the only creature who can break its spell.
Debut novelist Deborah Harkness has crafted a mesmerizing and addictive read, equal parts history and magic, romance and suspense. Diana is a bold heroine who meets her equal in vampire geneticist Matthew Clairmont, and gradually warms up to him as their alliance deepens into an intimacy that violates age-old taboos. This smart, sophisticated story harks back to the novels of Anne Rice, but it is as contemporary and sensual as the Twilight series-with an extra serving of historical realism.

So are you interested in winning this excellent sounding novel? How about some buttons to go along with it? If so, just fill out this form. Contest ends May 13th. Open to U.S. and Canada ONLY.

Not convinced it's for you? See what others are saying about it.

Margaret Stohl (author of Beautiful Creatures)
"Really, this is the Da Vinci Code of all Twilights -- and what could possibly be wrong with that? I read it through in one sitting and would have kept on through the entire series, back to back, if only it had been written already. It's not YA but it very well could be -- more like YA for grown ups. YA with wine and supernatural yoga and rare book archives and the occasional body part. Like a PG-13 Outlander, but still with some of that true-love-real-man Gabaldon vibe. And an old time supernatural scope, more Witching Hour than Twilight, actually. Book crack. :)"

The Hungry Reader
"Although over the top of Sir Christopher Wren’s Tom Tower, A Discovery of Witches is a great academic fantasy in which readers will feel Deborah Harkness put a spell on us. Fast-paced with an underlying social theme and a nod to Darwin, a world of four sentient species sharing the famous library and fragile peace makes for a fun start to an engaging tale. Diana the intellectual witch and her undead protector are a fine team escorting the audience through lethal maize of paranormal who want them dead."

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Review: Dark Water - Laura McNeal

Where I got it: Amazon Vine for review
Rating: 5 stars
Cover Rating: 4 stars (Very interesting and I like how simple it is.)
Genre:Young Adult
Publication Date: September 14, 2010
Publisher: Knopf Books for Young Readers
Page Count: 284 p.

Pearl live in California near avocado trees. Over 900 avocado trees that is. There her Uncle Hoyt's he farm them and often hires migrant workers to help out. When Pearl notices a particularly young and interesting worker, she asks her Uncle to hire him. His name is Amiel. An accident left him with damage to his throat, so he doesn't talk. Pearl is completely intrigued by him,  her life isn't that good and she wants him in it to make it better. When she stumbles upon his home (a small makeshift hut next to the river) she starts to feel more than just a curiosity towards him. Amiel says it's not right, they shouldn't be together, but Pearl longs for it with every inch of her being. Wildfires come and Pearl goes to the river to warn Amiel, since she is sure he hasn't heard about how close they are. She abandons her family and friends to find him and make sure he is kept safe.

This was a great story about love and family. Pearl's cousin has become weird and distance as they have grown up. It could be he has some sort of feelings for her, or some feelings of his own that he doesn't know who to talk to. Pearl becomes completely in her own world as soon as Amiel comes into the picture. All she wants is to be with him in any way. I wish it were sunny 340 days of the year here in New Hampshire, maybe I could dabble in a forbidden love in the warm heat of the bright sun. I have loved all of Laura and Tom McNeal's other novels and was a little weary of this one, Laura's first solo project, but it was not a disappointment whatsoever. I had a hard time with the flow of the novel only when Pearl would mention the present in the midst of telling her story. She would often compare the then to the now. It wasn't too bad though. Amiel seems like the perfect dreamy character for a girl to fall in love with even if it is taboo. It seems silly in this day and age that a love like that would be taboo, especially so close to the border. Amiel was an illegal though, so maybe that is mostly why it is off limits. This was a fantastic novel, that was beautifully written. If you haven't checked it out yet, I suggest you do.

First Line:
"You wouldn't have noticed me before the fire unless you saw that my eyes, like a pair of socks chosen in the dark, don't match."

Favorite Line:
"The chest-cracking swells went on inside me."

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Review: The Treasure Map of Boys - e. Lockhart

Where I got it: Library
Rating: 4.5 stars
Cover Rating: 4 stars (Cute.)
Genre:Young Adult
Publication Date: July 27, 2010
Publisher: Delacorte Books for Young Readers
Page Count: 241 p.
Sequel to The Boyfriend List and The Boy Book

Ruby Oliver is down to only a few friends, but at least she isn't as much of a leper as last year. This year Ruby figures she can exist in a happy place of noboyfriend and then she won't have anymore problems. It is too good to be true. She gets in trouble at her job, Noel starts writing her flirty notes, Jackson gives her frogs, Gideon is helping her cook for the bake sale she is in charge of and rumors are starting to swirl, some of them unjust. Regardless, Ruby is trying to make the best of her situation even if her panic attacks keep happening and she is at risk for losing another friend. It's just another day in the complicated life of Ruby Oliver.

What a fun read once again. I appreciated the in-depth look that Ruby had to take at the guys in her life. She really sat down and thought deeply about why each one is still on her mind. She had to weigh the merits of each one and determine what kind of person they were and if they were worthy of her. Ruby found out that some of them weren't even interested in her at all, problem solved! If you've enjoyed Ruby's antics up to this point I'm sure you'll love this book and will love Real Live Boyfriends. I don't think you have to read these book in order, there is a bit of recap, but not so much that if you have read the others you feel like you are just rereading them again. Personally I'm team Noel, he seems cute, funny and smart. I know he's off limits because Nora likes him, but seriously if she really liked him that much she would have made some sort of move by now. Jackson just seems like a complete jackhole, or pod person as Ruby would call him. Anyways, I am very much looking forward to the final Ruby Oliver installment, to see where she ends up. I think Ruby made a lot of headway in this novel and is well on her way to being a completely functional human girl. :)

First Line:
In laboratories dim
We bend to Fleischman's whim
And suffer twice a week
Horrors terrible to speak."

Favorite Lines:
"I am sorry I wrote you that note about my hooters. Completely inappropriate. 
Suspect I am possessed by strange demon.
Am researching quality exorcists."

"'I–I'm  dying to hear about your hoooters.'"

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Teaser Tuesday #57

This week's Teaser Tuesday is from She Loves You, She Loves You Not... - Julie Anne Peters

(page 111)
"Her shoes are grody and worn, full of sand. A half size too small, but I can squeeze my feet in Her giving them to me like that was such a total act of kindness."

Teaser Tuesday is brought to us by Should be Reading.
1) Grab your current read
2) Open to a random page
3) Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page
4) BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!)
5) Share the title & author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers!

Monday, April 25, 2011

Review: Future Imperfect - K. Ryer Breese

Where I got it: From Publisher for review
Rating: 4 stars
Cover Rating: 3 stars (I like the older cover better, but I don't like the train tracks at all. They aren't a huge part of the story.)
Genre:Young Adult
Publication Date: April 26, 2011
Publisher: St. Martin's Griffin
Page Count: 310 p.

Ade Patience is he King of Concussions. Whenever he gets knocked out he can see the future. Other students at Mantlo High thinks he's one step short of the Special Ed classes, and his best friend calls him selfish. Now Ade can't see thing that happen to other people, so it's not like he knocks himself out to be helpful to others. Ade just wants the high that he get after he's had a vision. Ade is a junkie, an addict. He has been crushed by his visions before. He has tried and failed at changing the future, but when he sees something really bad, and learns a lot of things he had no idea about, he might just have to try and change the future again.

If you have every seen the movie Donnie Darko, this novel is kind of like that. It has a very weird feel to it. There is talk of science and physics, but in an abstract, psychic powers sort of way. I liked how Ade was portrayed as a junkie, but not a villain.  His mom aided his addiction every step of the way, clinging to his vision like a life-preserver that might rescue her from her own unfortunate place. At times the writing seemed a little bit off, and things were mentioned as already happening that hadn't happened. I'm not sure if the latter is a writing tool to express the ins and outs of Ade's mental condition, or if it was simply poor editing. I wish that the letters that Ade received from the Doctors and others that he wrote to were included in this novel. It was a little disappointing only having one side of these conversations. I really like Ade and Vauxhall and how they were sort of like crappy superheroes. Superheroes who can't really save the world...yet. Jimi was a really odd character, out to get really odd things from life. It sucks that his childhood was crappy, but I think some people would be able to grow from that place instead of trying to screw other people over. The dynamic between Jimi and Ade was a weird one. At times I thought that they could be the same person and Ade had just completely lost it. There were so many surprises in this novel that kept you completely engrossed until the final pages. I liked that everyone in Jimi's life seemed to believe that he really could see the future and that it didn't seem strange to them at all. I do wonder how any normal person could survive after all that head trauma, but clearly being psychic grants you some leeway in the health department. I would not consider this novel a light beach read, though it was very good. Something you have to let your brain settle into and imagine the possibilities that Ade has before him, and the danger he faces. I anxiously look forward to Past Continuous with Ade which is about multiple hims existing and vying for the right to be the one and only Ade.

First Line:
"Jimi Ministry didn't have this many tattoos two weeks ago."

Favorite Lines:
"I want to know every bump. Trace every vein."

Sunday, April 24, 2011

In My Mailbox #86

In My Mailbox brought to you by The Story Siren

Before Briony's stepmother died, she made sure Briony blamed herself for all the family's hardships. Now Briony has worn her guilt for so long it's become a second skin. She often escapes to the swamp, where she tells stories to the Old Ones, the spirits who haunt the marshes. But only witches can see the Old Ones, and in her village, witches are sentenced to death. Briony lives in fear her secret will be found out, even as she believes she deserves the worst kind of punishment.

Then Eldric comes along with his golden lion eyes and mane of tawny hair. He's as natural as the sun, and treats her as if she's extraordinary. And everything starts to change. As many secrets as Briony has been holding, there are secrets even she doesn't know.

Azalea is trapped. Just when she should feel that everything is before her . . . beautiful gowns, dashing suitors, balls filled with dancing . . . it's taken away. All of it.
The Keeper understands. He's trapped, too, held for centuries within the walls of the palace. And so he extends an invitation.
Every night, Azalea and her eleven sisters may step through the enchanted passage in their room to dance in his silver forest.
But there is a cost.
The Keeper likes to keep things.
Azalea may not realize how tangled she is in his web until it is too late.

It's hard finding beauty in the badlands of Washokey, Wyoming, but 14-year-old Grace Carpenter knows it's not her mother's pageant obsessions, or the cowboy dances adored by her small-town classmates. True beauty is wild-girl Mandarin Ramey: 17, shameless and utterly carefree. Grace would give anything to be like Mandarin. When they're united for a project, they form an unlikely, explosive friendship, packed with nights spent skinny-dipping in the canal, liberating the town's animal-head trophies, and searching for someplace magic. Grace plays along when Mandarin suggests they run away together. Blame it on the crazy-making wildwinds plaguing their Badlands town. Because all too soon, Grace discovers Mandarin's unique beauty hides a girl who's troubled, broken, and even dangerous. And no matter how hard Grace fights to keep the magic, no friendship can withstand betrayal.

Sixteen-year-old Jill has fought in dozens of fencing tournaments, but she has never held a sharpened blade. When she finds a corroded sword piece on a Caribbean beach, she is instantly intrigued and pockets it as her own personal treasure.
The broken tip holds secrets, though, and it transports Jill through time to the deck of a pirate ship. Stranded in the past and surrounded by strangers, she is forced to sign on as crew. But a pirate's life is bloody and brief, and as Jill learns about the dark magic that brought her there, she forms a desperate scheme to get home—one that risks everything in a duel to the death with a villainous pirate captain.

Sometime in the future, a lonely, windswept island is populated solely by women. Among these women is a group of teenaged Trackers—expert equestrians and archers—whose job is to protect their shores from the enemy. The enemy, they’ve been told, is men. When these girls come upon a partially buried home from the distant past, they are fascinated by the strange objects—high-heeled shoes, teen magazines, make-up—found there. What are they to make of these mysterious things? And what does it mean for their strict society where friendship is forbidden and rules must be obeyed—at all costs?

Roger Kilbourne has the ability to "cross over" into the land of the dead and speak with its residents. It is a startling gift, and not a pleasant one. Roger manages to escape his brutal uncle, who has exploited his talents for years; after he gets a job in the palace laundry, he thinks he will be safe. Instead, there are worse dangers. First, he falls hopelessly in love with the bewitching, willful Lady Cecilia; next, he is pulled into the midst of life-threatening court intigue. Soon Roger is using his gift as a way to get the life he dreams of—even if it means bringing the dead back to the land of the living.

Frankie Landau-Banks at age 14:
Debate Club.
Her father’s “bunny rabbit.”
A mildly geeky girl attending a highly competitive boarding school.

Frankie Landau-Banks at age 15:
A knockout figure.
A sharp tongue.
A chip on her shoulder.
And a gorgeous new senior boyfriend: the supremely goofy, word-obsessed Matthew Livingston.

Frankie Laundau-Banks.
No longer the kind of girl to take “no” for an answer.
Especially when “no” means she’s excluded from her boyfriend’s all-male secret society.
Not when her ex boyfriend shows up in the strangest of places.
Not when she knows she’s smarter than any of them.
When she knows Matthew’s lying to her.
And when there are so many, many pranks to be done.

Frankie Landau-Banks, at age 16:
Possibly a criminal mastermind.

This is the story of how she got that way.

Hiccup Horrendous Haddock III is a truly extraordinary Viking hero known throughout Vikingdom as "the Dragon Whisperer" ... but it wasn't always so. Travel back to the days when the mighty warrior was just a boy, the quiet and thoughtful son of the Chief of the Hairy Hooligans. Can Hiccup capture a dragon and train it without being torn limb from limb? Join the adventure as the small boy finds a better way to train his dragon and becomes a hero!

Follows the further adventures and misadventures of Hiccup Horrendous Haddock III as his Viking training continues and his father leads a stranger and the Hairy Hooligans to the Isle of Skullions in search of a pirate's treasure.

Pink-haired Hilda and oddball loner Benji are not your typical teenagers. Instead of going to parties or hanging out at the mall, they comb the city streets and suburban culs-de-sac of Los Angeles for sites of celebrity murder and suicide. Bound by their interest in the macabre, Hilda and Benji neglect their schoolwork and their social lives in favor of prowling the most notorious crime scenes in Hollywood history and collecting odd featurentos of celebrity death.
Hilda and Benji’s morbid pastime takes an unexpected turn when they meet Hank, the elderly, reclusive tenant of a dilapidated Echo Park apartment where a silent movie star once stabbed himself to death with a pair of scissors. Hilda feels a strange connection with Hank and comes to care deeply for her paranoid new friend as they watch old movies together and chat the sweltering afternoons away. But when Hank’s downstairs neighbor Jake, a handsome screenwriter, inserts himself into the equation and begins to hint at Hank’s terrible secrets, Hilda must decide what it is she’s come to Echo Park searching for . . . and whether her fascination with death is worth missing out on life.

So that's what I got this week. What did you all get?

Friday, April 22, 2011

Review: Agnes Quill: an Anthology of Mystery

Where I got it: From Publisher for review
Rating: 4.5 stars
Cover Rating: 4 stars (Not my favorite illustration of Agnes, but I love the flow and colors.)
Genre: Young Adult
Publication Date: October 31, 2006
Publisher: Slave Labor Graphics
Page Count: 130 p.

Agnes Quill is a teenager who has a gift. She can see and talk to ghosts. She uses this gift in an old Curiosity Shop, where the dead can call on her to help them accomplish things they can not do on their own. This is an interesting illustrated collection of four stories about her adventures in aiding the dead. There are also some of her journal entries in the back as well as guest art portraying Agnes Quill. Agnes is a unique and strong heroine in the story of her life. She is one who has a gift and is a good enough person to share it with the world.

This was a really fun read. I loved Agnes she was just such a strong character. It was nice seeing some of my fave illustrators in this collection. Agnes was a really fun character and her line of work say the least. It would be very fascinating to be able to commune with and assist the dead. Some of the dead folk that Agnes aids are just in need of some assistance in finishing their final acts so that they may move on. I loved the semi-creepy feel that these comics has and how twisted some of the stories were. Many of them kept you guessing. The journal entries in the back were really fascinating too and gave you another story from Quill's point of view. This is another great addition to a comic/graphic novel fan's library. Please check this one out if you get a chance.

First Line:
"The Data Analysis Keep is a community of scholars dedicated to the advancement of all things scientific, mystical, and existential."

Favorite Lines:
"Agnes, there's something biting my leg!!!
Well shake it off!"

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Review: Cloaked in Red - Vivian Vande Velde

Where I got it: Library
Rating: 4.5 stars
Cover Rating: 3 stars (The cover almost looks self published, but the cover is the best image out of all the ones in the book.)
Genre: Young Adult
Publication Date: October 2010
Publisher: Marshall Cavendish Children's Books
Page Count: 127 p.

Think you know the story of Little Red Riding Hood? Think again. Vivian Vande Velde decided to retell it, eight different ways. In each story you will have a chance to see Red and the other characters in a different light. Make sure you brush up on your other fairy tales too, since some of them make a guest appearance woven deftly into each tale.

I really enjoyed this eight story collection from the mighty VVV. Each tale was imaginative and full of new twists and turns for an already magnificent tale. I love the story of Little Red Riding Hood, even if she does have a terrible name and is quite daft. Each of these stories were amusing and really delved into character history for all the people in the original. I was very excited to see some cross-pollination of other fairy tales into the story of Red. The Grimm Brothers even make an appearance. If you are a fan of fairy tales I would certainly pick up this book. It is gold from beginning to end. I recommend that you read the Author's Note at the front of the novel, it was very humorous. There is not much more to say about this, because I don't want to ruin a single moment of the storytelling for you, but really if you liked the tale of Red you should pick this up as soon as possible.

First Line:
"Everyone knows the story of Little Red Riding Hood, the girl with the unfortunate name and the inability to tell the difference between her grandmother and a member of a different species."

Favorite Lines:
"Of course, this leaves us with the question: If Granny were alive and well in the closet, why didn't she say anything when her granddaughter was struggling with the difference between a beast of the forest and a family member? You know, something to end Little Red's confusion. Perhaps something like: 'RUN, YOU LITTLE DIPSTICK, BEFORE HE EATS YOU!'"

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Waiting on Wednesday #39

Waiting on Wednesday is hosted by Breaking the Spine.

This week I'm waiting on The Carrier of the Mark - Leigh Fallon

A move to Ireland is about to introduce Megan to her destiny, her real destiny, can she embrace it and will she survive it?
A tragedy in Megan’s past set her on a predetermined course. A chain of events has been set in motion that brings Megan to Kinsale, a small town in the south of Ireland where her destiny awaits her. Her life starts to fall into place as she makes new friends and settles into her new school. However, the reclusive and distant Adam DeRís calls to her body and soul.She finds herself increasingly drawn to Adam and his strange family. Adam knows a secret from her past and he and his family hold the key to her future. A future that binds her to Adam and his world, a world of power, mystery and ancient orders. A world that unbeknownst to her, she very much belongs in.

Ireland, destiny and a cover like that! How could this book not be amazing? Too bad it doesn't come out until October. But when it does you better believe I'll be snatching it right up.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Review: Squee's Wonderful Big Giant Book of Unspeakable Horrors - Jhonen Vasquez

Where I got it: Finished book for review from publisher
Rating: 5 stars
Cover Rating: 5 stars (OOOOOhhh pretty purples and such...I also love how Squee is saying "But me or I'll die!")
Genre: Young Adult
Publication Date: August 1, 1998
Publisher: Slave Labor Graphics Pubslishing
Page Count: 144 p.

Squee is a lovable little boy, except his parents don't really like him all that much. He gets abducted by aliens and they don't even notice or care. Squee meets some weird people, like Johnny the Homicidal Maniac and the son of Satan. Poor Squee rarely gets to meet nice normal people. He has nightmares and there are monsters in his room. But enough about Squee. Inside this book you'll also find Filler Bunny, Happy Noodle Boy, Wobbly Headed Bob and a whole lot of Meanwhiles. So what are you waiting for? Enjoy!

This is a funny/scary/creepy/fantastic/grotesque little comic. There's not a very extensive plot per se, mostly it's just an account of all the misfortunes that fall on a little boy named Squee and his doll Shmee. This comic is not for the faint of heart since there are many disturbing and gross images inside. I do love Squee though. I wish he were my kid and I could protect him from all the horrible things that happen. He looks like such a little sweetheart who is just overburdened with misfortune. I think guys and girls who really like comics will love this book. Also fans of Jhonen Vasquez's other works will be glad of this addition, if they haven't already read it. I love the art and I love the weird and disgusting situations and scenes in this book. If you like comics and like things that are a bit strange I would definitely check this out. It was a fun great read that I will reread time and again.
Poor little Squee...

First Line:
"Hey boys and girls!!"

Favorite Lines:
"Um...Mommy? I don't feel good. Can I stay home from school today? The Aliens did spooooooky things to my head."

Monday, April 18, 2011

Review: Here Lies Bridget - Paige Harbison

Where I got it: Finished copy from Amazon Vine
Rating: 3 stars
Cover Rating: 5 stars (So fun ! Although I am mildly jealous of the models feet ;) The colors and the whole feel of the cover are great.)
Genre: Young Adult
Publication Date: January 18, 2011
Publisher: Harlequin Teen
Page Count: 219 p.

Bridget isn't the nicest person, but she rules with fear. Her dad is super famous so she figures she can do as she wishes, because clearly she is super popular. Mostly, people just want to avoid her and let her carry on with her delusions. When Bridget decides to teach them a lesson and accidentally crashes her car, she wakes up in a strange place. Here she must face the people she thought she knew. She has to face what she did to them that broke them inside and lead to them despising her. She is given a chance to fix everything, but sometimes saying sorry just can't undo what has been done.

It's really hard to enjoy a book, even though this was well-written,  with a character as completely wretched as Bridget. I can see why everyone in limbo wishes she had gone to hell. I don't believe she should have gotten a second chance to fix anything, even if it would benefit others. I was just so sick of Bridget's snotty self-entitlement. Besides the fact that Bridget was practically unbearable the whole time, I did end up enjoying the story. It was well written and the characters were wholly realistic. It was strange that her friends would stay with her even though they were constantly bullied by Bridget. I do feel bad for Bridget, because she feels like she is all alone in the world, when really there are tons of amazing people she just can't see that fact. This novel sort of remind me of Before I Fall by Lauren Oliver. There was the whole girl who was kind of terrible in life dies and must relive all of her missteps. It was a very moral tale, but Bridget didn't seem an entirely believe character to get it all so quick. I mean, she does but she doesn't. The whole story she constantly has little glitches where she can tell what she is doing is wrong but keeps doing it anyway, so that aspect of her makes it believable that she would want to change. She was just such a nasty person, and it's hard to believe that there are really people like that. The supporting characters were vague, mostly because or narrator (Bridget) couldn't care less about them, I still thought they deserved batter. Anna especially is a very odd and interesting character. So super nice, that I can see why it puts Bridget on edge. I recommend this to people who were planning on reading it already, and for those who can get past a spoiled main character. Paige Harbison is a great writer and I look forward to her sophomore novel.

First Line:
"I pressed down on the accelerator."

Favorite Line:
"I woke up with that feeling you get when you're staying in a hotel room or at a friend's house as a kid and there's that moment where you're not sure where you are."


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