Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Waiting on Wednesday (1)

Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly meme, hosted by Jill at Breaking the Spine, that highlights future releases that we are excitedly anticipating.



Winging It
By Deborah Cooke
Publication Date: 12/6/2011

Zoë Sorensson yearns to come into her powers as the only female dragon shifter. But being part of two worlds is more complicated than she expected. It’s bad enough that she’s the target of the Mages’ plan to eliminate all shifters—she also has to hide her true nature from her best friend Megan, a human. For her sixteenth birthday, all Zoë wants is one normal day, including a tattoo and a chance to see hot rocker Jared.

Instead, the Pyr throw her a birthday party but ban Megan from attendance, putting Zoë in a tight spot. Things get even worse when Zoe is invited to the popular kids’ Halloween party and Megan’s left out. Zoë knows the party is a trap laid by the host, an apprentice Mage. When Megan gets a last-minute invite, Zoë must save the day—and her best friend—without revealing her fire-breathing secrets . . .




Clockwork Prince
By Cassandra Clare
Publication Date: 12/6/2011


In the magical underworld of Victorian London, Tessa Gray has at last found safety with the Shadowhunters. But that safety proves fleeting when rogue forces in the Clave plot to see her protector, Charlotte, replaced as head of the Institute. If Charlotte loses her position, Tessa will be out on the street and easy prey for the mysterious Magister, who wants to use Tessa's powers for his own dark ends.


With the help of the handsome, self-destructive Will and the fiercely devoted Jem, Tessa discovers that the Magister's war on the Shadowhunters is deeply personal. He blames them for a long-ago tragedy that shattered his life. To unravel the secrets of the past, the trio journeys from mist-shrouded Yorkshire to a manor house that holds untold horrors, from the slums of London to an enchanted ballroom where Tessa discovers that the truth of her parentage is more sinister than she had imagined. When they encounter a clockwork demon bearing a warning for Will, they realize that the Magister himself knows their every move and that one of their own has betrayed them.

Tessa finds her heart drawn more and more to Jem, though her longing for Will, despite his dark moods, continues to unsettle her. But something is changing in Will; the wall he has built around himself is crumbling. Could finding the Magister free Will from his secrets and give Tessa the answers about who she is and what she was born to do?

As their dangerous search for the Magister and the truth leads the friends into peril, Tessa learns that when love and lies are mixed, they can corrupt even the purest heart.



 
 
 
 
What's your "waiting on" pick this week?

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

A Peek in the Biblio-Bin - #11

In My Mailbox is a weekly meme hosted by The Story Siren. It is a way for bloggers to share what books they have won, received for review, bought from the bookstore, borrowed from the library or friend, etc.


This week Shel gives you a Peek in the Biblio-Bin.



For months part-angel Clara Gardner trained to face the raging forest fire from her visions and rescue the alluring and mysterious Christian Prescott from the blaze. But nothing could prepare her for the fateful decisions she would be forced to make that day, or the startling revelation that her purpose—the task she was put on earth to accomplish—is not as straightforward as she thought. Now, torn between her increasingly complicated feelings for Christian and her love for her boyfriend, Tucker, Clara struggles to make sense of what she was supposed to do the day of the fire. And, as she is drawn further into the world of part angels and the growing conflict between White Wings and Black Wings, Clara learns of the terrifying new reality that she must face: Someone close to her will die in a matter of months. With her future uncertain, the only thing Clara knows for sure is that the fire was just the beginning.

Described by Richelle Mead as “utterly captivating,” Unearthly received outstanding reviews, garnered accolades from New York Times bestselling authors, and was named an Indie Next Pick. In this heart-wrenching sequel, Cynthia Hand expertly captures the all-consuming joy of first love—and the agony of loss. This beautifully woven tale will appeal to fans of Lauren Kate, Becca Fitzpatrick, and Aprilynne Pike



Before Stephanie can even step foot off Flight 127 Hawaii to Newark, she’s knee deep in trouble. Her dream vacation turned into a nightmare, and she’s flying back to New Jersey solo. Worse still, her seatmate never returned to the plane after the L.A. layover. Now he’s dead, in a garbage can, waiting for curbside pickup. His killer could be anyone. And a ragtag collection of thugs and psychos, not to mention the FBI, are all looking for a photograph the dead man was supposed to be carrying.

Only one other person has seen the missing photo—Stephanie Plum. Now she’s the target, and she doesn’t intend to end up in a garbage can. With the help of an FBI sketch artist Stephanie re-creates the person in the photo. Unfortunately the first sketch turns out to look like Tom Cruise, and the second sketch like Ashton Kutcher. Until Stephanie can improve her descriptive skills, she’ll need to watch her back.

Over at the bail bonds agency things are going from bad to worse. The bonds bus serving as Vinnie’s temporary HQ goes up in smoke. Stephanie’s wheelman, Lula, falls in love with their largest skip yet. Lifetime arch nemesis Joyce Barnhardt moves into Stephanie’s apartment. And everyone wants to know what happened in Hawaii?

Morelli, Trenton’s hottest cop, isn’t talking about Hawaii. Ranger, the man of mystery, isn’t talking about Hawaii. And all Stephanie is willing to say about her Hawaiian vacation is . . . It’s complicated.


Clouds are brewing over Cadogan House, and recently turned vampire Merit can't tell if this is the darkness before the dawn or the calm before the storm. With the city itself in turmoil over paranormals and the state threatening to pass a paranormal registration act, times haven't been this precarious for vampires since they came out of the closet. If only they could lay low for a bit, and let the mortals calm down.

That's when the waters of Lake Michigan suddenly turn pitch black-and things really start getting ugly.

Chicago's mayor insists it's nothing to worry about, but Merit knows only the darkest magic could have woven a spell powerful enough to change the very fabric of nature. She'll have to turn to friends old and new to find out who's behind this, and stop them before it's too late for vampires and humans alike.


Tell us what is in your mailbox this week!

Variant by Robison Wells

** ½


Benson Fisher thought that a scholarship to Maxfield Academy would be the ticket out of his dead-end life.


He was wrong.


Now he’s trapped in a school that’s surrounded by a razor-wire fence. A school where video cameras monitor his every move. Where there are no adults. Where the kids have split into groups in order to survive.


Where breaking the rules equals death.


But when Benson stumbles upon the school’s real secret, he realizes that playing by the rules could spell a fate worse than death, and that escape—his only real hope for survival—may be impossible.




There are two kinds of cliffhangers. There is the cliffhanger that leaves you wanting more, even if that “more” means being tortured until and possibly after the next installment in the story. Then there is the cliffhanger that makes you want to scream and throw things and never pick up the story again. Unfortunately, Variant by Robison Wells falls into the latter category.

I really wanted to love this book. I really did. It was set in a boarding school, which is always fun. The main character was very determined to find the truth of his situation and was never complacent, which of course won me over. And there were lots of action and fun twists. But did you ever watch Lost? Or better yet, Persons Unknown? Do you remember how, at first, the weekly cliffhangers were fun but then became so frequent that they became tedious and annoying? Yeah, that was this book.

Don’t get me wrong. Once all installments of this book are out, I will probably give it another chance. If you have been eyeing this one at the store and are not a fan of Lost-like cliffhangers, I would recommend holding off until the entire story is available. If you ate up the Lost cliffhangers for all six seasons and think you can handle what will probably be a year long wait for the next installment, then go for it.


Nat

Monday, November 28, 2011

Gratitude Giveaway Hop Winner!

Wow, just wow.  You guys are the best!  We had so much response to this giveaway, I am just blown away.  Thank you to everyone who participated!  And since I know you are only reading this to find out who won, not to read my blathering - the winner is:

Krysta Banco!

We sent Krysta an email notifying her and per the rules, if she does not respond, we will choose a new winner. 

Thanks again and check back in a week or so for our next giveaway - a combo of our 200 follower celebration and the Book Lover's Giveaway Hop!

~Shel

Every Other Day by Jennifer Lynn Barnes

* * * 1/2

Every other day, Kali D'Angelo is a normal sixteen-year-old girl. She goes to public high school. She attends pep rallies. She's human.


And then every day in between . . .She's something else entirely.


Though she still looks like herself, every twenty-four hours predatory instincts take over and Kali becomes a feared demon-hunter with the undeniable urge to hunt, trap, and kill zombies, hellhounds, and other supernatural creatures. Kali has no idea why she is the way she is, but she gives in to instinct anyway. Even though the government considers it environmental terrorism.


When Kali notices a mark on the lower back of a popular girl at school, she knows instantly that the girl is marked for death by one of these creatures. Kali has twenty-four hours to save her and, unfortunately, she'll have to do it as a human. With the help of a few new friends, Kali takes a risk that her human body might not survive. . .and learns the secrets of her mysterious condition in the process



Every Other Day is the third Jennifer Lynn Barnes book that I have read. Before this, I read Raised by Wolves and Trial by Fire (which, by the way, I need to write a review for that..Add that to the To Do List. Check.). Both of which I thoroughly enjoyed.

What Jennifer Lynn Barnes is proving time and again is that she knows how to write seriously kick-ass female protagonists. Raised by Wolves and Trial by Fire had Bryn. The emotionally strong human female that was trained to give werewolves a run for their money. In Every Other Day we meet Kali. She is a normal human girl every other day of her life. But on the odd days she is something completely different. A hunter of the preternatural, she feels no pain and cannot be killed.

On a human day, Kali notices that a girl at school is being unknowingly and slowly attacked by a preternatural creature. Kali lures the creature into her body in the hopes that she can hold it until she becomes immortal the following day. But things don’t turn out as she hopes and she finds herself racing against the clock to find out more about herself and the person that the creature inside her body has linked her to.

Like other Jennifer Lynn Barnes books, the story does not focus on the relationship between a girl and boy. The focus is on solving the mystery of her past as well as the relationships she builds along the way. And to top it all off, there is non-stop action. This story will keep you on the edge of your seat until you reach a surprise ending that you didn’t quite expect.

Only two things kept me from giving this book 4*’s. First, Kali was a rather morose character. Although kick-ass she is a loner that fought being a leader almost every step of the way. This was necessary for the character and her development but it was a bit frustrating at times. Second, it took a while for the story to grab my attention. Once it did though, watch out because it doesn’t stop. This was a fun read and a nice break from the traditional YA romance that I usually read. I enjoyed it and would recommend it if you enjoyed Ms. Barnes’ previous books.



~ Nat

Friday, November 25, 2011

Interview with Cindy Bennett: Author of Geek Girl

A couple months ago I downloaded Geek Girl by Cindy Bennett from NetGalley.  I fell absolutely and totally in love with this story.  See my review here.  What I loved most about this story was that Cindy Bennett manages to weave in a beautiful message about love and self-worth without beating you over the head with it.  I can't recommend this book enough.  It will be one that I keep on my shelf for my girls when they are older.

We have been given the awesome opportunity to interview Cindy Bennett as part of the Geek Girl Blog Tour.  Keep reading to learn how Cindy feels about books, boys and pie!









What was your inspiration for this story?


I wrote Geek Girl originally as a short story (1500 words) for a contest. There are a lot of stories and movies out there about a popular kid trying to turn some nerd or wallflower popular, so I wanted to take the idea and turn it upside down. I wanted to take someone who was edgy, who others might perceive as “bad” and have that be the kid trying to turn someone the way they are. And I wanted the person they were trying to bring down to be unusual, not one of the popular kids. I guess you could say I wanted to keep popular kids out of it altogether. I really hadn’t intended for her to become so caught up in his life, though I always knew she would love him. The original title was “Geek Boy.” Someone else pointed out that because of her journey, it should be “Geek Girl.” They were right.

Are Jen and Trevor based on real people? And if so, can you put Trevor in a time capsule and let him out when my daughter is old enough to date?

Seriously, who wouldn’t want their daughter to bring home a Trevor? There’s been a lot of discussion about how “perfect” he is, but I hope readers remember he seems so because we are seeing him through her eyes, and she’s completely smitten. He is loosely based on a boy who my daughter briefly dated in high school, only in that he was a good-looking geek who played the piano, sang well, and was kind to everyone. She isn’t based on a specific person, though her backstory is based on the real story of a young man who I saw once on TV. Sadly, he let the experience affect him to the point that he is now in prison. My heart broke for him when he told his story. How horrific for him to be put through that.

On your blog you share your experience with self-publishing and the work it took to get your books into the hands of readers. How has the publishing process been different now that Geek Girl has been picked up by a publishing company?

It’s a little hard to say exactly what it would have been like having a publisher the first time around based on the fact that because I now have a small bit of name recognition, I have a bit of a pre-built-in audience, which may make it somewhat easier to market Geek Girl. However, it has been a great experience letting others take the reins on some of the things, like the blog tour, the book signings, editing and formatting, the book launch. I’ve been blessed to have the specific editors I have because they are so amazing to work with, and catch things about the book that I should have easily caught myself. They’ve made the book so much better.

Star Trek or Star Wars? Or is this an impossible question?

I do a podcast with my son called the RyTime Geekcast, and we did a whole show on this a few months ago. I took the official position of defending Star Trek, but in the end I have to go with Star Wars. I have a great deal of respect and admiration for Star Trek, from Captain Kirk to Captain Picard to the latest well-done Star Trek movie, but my heart belongs to Anakin, Padme, Luke, Leia, and of course Han. I’ve seen all six movies multiple times—far more than I’ve watched anything Star Trek.

Would you be able to share a little about your latest work-in-progress?

At the time of this writing, I am currently nearly finished with my latest book called Immortal Mine (though hopefully it’s published as of this reading, and I have a new WIP). It’s a bit different for me, dipping a toe into the paranormal with an immortal hero, though he is not a vampire! Hopefully it’s not so far out of my realm that it’s horrible. Following that, I plan a series of shorts based on fairytales that I will later combine into a single book.

Name one entity that you feel supported you outside of family members while writing this book.

While I was writing both this book and Heart on a Chain (both of which were completed before I published either), I didn’t tell anyone what I was doing, other than my two teenage daughters. They would read as I wrote, and they are the only reason I ever had the courage to try publishing. So during the writing process they were my only support as they were the only ones who knew. During the publishing phase, it was my small critique group who supported, encouraged, and gave me much of the information I needed to get published in the first place.

One of our favorite things is pie (and cake). Do you have a favorite treat that you like to indulge in?

My latest weakness is a big, hot, gooey chocolate chip cookie with a scoop of ice cream and whipped cream on top. More and more restaurants are starting to carry these, which is a really bad thing for me as I don’t have any resistance to them. Other than that, no-bake cookies (sans the peanut butter), brownies (sans the frosting), dark chocolate candy, and my friend Debbie’s sinful chocolate cake are all items I’m happy to guiltily indulge in.

With your very busy schedule, how do you find time to read? What are you reading right now?

It’s hard because I’m also reading three or four other books at any given time for my critique group, besides writing, which makes it really difficult to find time to indulge in reading for pure pleasure. Currently, I’m reading Boyfriend from Hell, and for my book club group Night Stalks the Mansion.

A standard question for any interview with the Bibliojunkies (since we REALLY do have the mentality of 16 year old girls): What fictional character would you most like to go on a date with? And don’t feel that you need to limit yourself to YA.

Oh, that’s easy. From books I’d want to date (if I were a teen) Fang from the Maximum Ride series, or Peeta from The Hunger Games. What’s more sexy than a guy who wants to protect you, even if you’re fully capable of protecting yourself? If it were from any media, my top preference would be Clark Kent, the Smallville version of him, in the form of the gorgeous Tom Welling.

Do you have anything specific that you want to share with your readers?

I want to thank all of my amazing readers for your support, and all of your kind words and emails. I’m so glad you gave an unknown, indie author a shot. I only hope I can continue to write books you like, that I don’t ever allow myself to get lazy in my writing and forget who I’m writing for—I write for you.

Thank you, Cindy, for chatting with us today.  We can't wait for the official release of Geek Girl on 12/8/2011!




Check out Cindy's website where she not only shares her experiences with writing and publishing but also regularly interviews authors of all different genres.

http://www.cindycbennett.com/


Wednesday, November 23, 2011

The Scorpio Races by Maggie Stiefvater

****
It happens at the start of every November: the Scorpio Races. Riders attempt to keep hold of their water horses long enough to make it to the finish line. Some riders live. Others die.

At age nineteen, Sean Kendrick is the returning champion. He is a young man of few words, and if he has any fears, he keeps them buried deep, where no one else can see them.

Puck Connolly is different. She never meant to ride in the Scorpio Races. But fate hasn’t given her much of a chance. So she enters the competition — the first girl ever to do so. She is in no way prepared for what is going to happen.


I have been thinking that maybe I am the wrong person to write this review. You know, since I have already admitted my author-crush on Maggie Stiefvater. But since I am the only one of us that has read Scorpio Races so far, you will have to deal with my fangirl tendencies.

This is a bit difficult for me to admit but it took me a little while to get into The Scorpio Races. The story captured me immediately but the pace is slower than what I am used to. It took time to switch gears and fall into the pace that the story requires. But once I caught the rhythm, I was able to enjoy the words and phrases that Ms. Stiefvater has yet again turned into works of art.

I won’t give a synopsis of this story as providing more than what is given above would spoil the fun. I will tell you this. The Scorpio Races is a story about simple people living in a simple yet very dangerous world. If you are looking for an action packed story, this is not it. Of course you will see some action because really, you can’t have man-eating horses and not have some action going on. But in the end, this is a simple and quiet book highlighted by simple and beautiful prose.

Don’t be fooled though. Although quiet, this book will demand quite a bit from you. It will demand that you make a cup of tea. It will demand that you drink said tea as you sit in your favorite reading nook. And it will demand that you not move from that spot until you finish the story. And a book that demand those things? Well, that’s a book that will probably grace my bookshelves Forever…



Nat

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

A Peek in the Biblio-Bin - #10



In My Mailbox is a weekly meme hosted by The Story Siren. It is a way for bloggers to share what books they have won, received for review, bought from the bookstore, borrowed from the library or friend, etc.

This week Bel shares her finds.





It's 1996, and less than half of all American high school students have ever used the Internet.

Emma just got her first computer and an America Online CD-ROM.

Josh is her best friend. They power up and log on--and discover themselves on Facebook, fifteen years in the future.

Everybody wonders what their Destiny will be. Josh and Emma are about to find out.





Before scientists found the cure, people thought love was a good thing. They didn’t understand that once love -- the deliria -- blooms in your blood, there is no escaping its hold. Things are different now. Scientists are able to eradicate love, and the government demands that all citizens receive the cure upon turning eighteen. Lena Holoway has always looked forward to the day when she’ll be cured. A life without love is a life without pain: safe, measured, predictable, and happy.

But with ninety-five days left until her treatment, Lena does the unthinkable: She falls in love





It was a beautiful, warm summer day, the day Danny died.

Suddenly Wren was alone and shattered. In a heartbroken fury, armed with dark incantations and a secret power, Wren decides that what she wants—what she must do—is to bring Danny back.

But the Danny who returns is just a shell of the boy Wren fell in love with. His touch is icy; his skin, smooth and stiff as marble; his chest, cruelly silent when Wren rests her head against it.

Wren must keep Danny a secret, hiding him away, visiting him at night, while her life slowly unravels around her. Then Gabriel DeMarnes transfers to her school, and Wren realizes that somehow, inexplicably, he can sense the powers that lie within her—and that he knows what she has done. And now Gabriel wants to help make things right.

But Wren alone has to undo what she has wrought—even if it means breaking her heart all over again


NEWSOUL

Ana is new. For thousands of years in Range, a million souls have been reincarnated over and over, keeping their memories and experiences from previous lifetimes. When Ana was born, another soul vanished, and no one knows why.

NOSOUL

Even Ana’s own mother thinks she’s a nosoul, an omen of worse things to come, and has kept her away from society. To escape her seclusion and learn whether she’ll be reincarnated, Ana travels to the city of Heart, but its citizens are suspicious and afraid of what her presence means. When dragons and sylph attack the city, is Ana to blame?

HEART

Sam believes Ana’s new soul is good and worthwhile. When he stands up for her, their relationship blooms. But can he love someone who may live only once, and will Ana’s enemies—human and creature alike—let them be together? Ana needs to uncover the mistake that gave her someone else’s life, but will her quest threaten the peace of Heart and destroy the promise of reincarnation for all?

Jodi Meadows expertly weaves soul-deep romance, fantasy, and danger into an extraordinary tale of new life





Willa’s secret plan seems all too simple: take from the rich kids at Valley Prep and give to the poor ones.

Yet Willa’s turn as Robin Hood at her ultra-exclusive high school is anything but. Bilking her “friends”—known to everyone as the Glitterati—without them suspecting a thing is far from easy. Learning how to pick pockets and break into lockers is as difficult as she’d thought it’d be. Delivering care packages to the scholarship girls, who are ostracized just for being from the “wrong” side of town, is way more fun than she’d expected.

The complication Willa didn’t expect, though, is Aidan Murphy, Valley Prep’s most notorious (and gorgeous) ace-degenerate. His mere existence is distracting Willa from what matters most to her: evening the social playing field between the haves and have-nots. There’s no time for crushes and flirting with boys, especially conceited and obnoxious trust-funders like Aidan.

But when the cops start investigating the string of thefts at Valley Prep and the Glitterati begin to seek revenge, could Aidan wind up being the person that Willa trusts most?
 
 
 
What books are in your "bin" this week?

Monday, November 21, 2011

Shatter Me by Tahereh Mafi

* * * *


“YOU CAN’T TOUCH ME, “ I whisper,
I’M LYING,
Is what I don’t tell him.
HE CAN TOUCH ME,
Is what I’ll never tell him.
PLEASE TOUCH ME,
Is what I want to tell him.

But things happen
When people touch me.
Strange things.
Bad things.
DEAD THINGS.

No one knows why Juliette’s touch is fatal, but The Restablishment has plans for her.  Plans to use her as a weapon.

But Juliette has plans of her own.

After a lifetime without freedom, she’s finally discovering a strength to fight back for the very first time – and to find a future with the one boy she thought she’d lost forever.

  
I couldn’t believe my luck that I was the first one to snag a copy of Shatter Me from my library!  I literally pushed aside all the other books on my list to read this one.  

Juliette Ferrars has been locked away for 3 years because of a crime she unwittingly committed.  In that time, she has counted and recounted every detail that surrounds her – the minutes, hours, days gone by, the walls. She associates everything with numbers. And that’s how she has survived until she is stuck with a cellmate. After years of solitary confinement, sharing a cell with a complete stranger startles her senses and awakens her from her numbness. And it's quite awkward for her because her new cellmate is a boy, Adam Kent, someone she remembers from her past.  It's remarkable to watch her go through her inner struggle of wanting to interact with someone and also withdraw into her own shell where she feels most protected. You realize how fragile she can be and thankfully Adam is exceptionally kind and gives her the space to breathe.

The third character in the book is Warner, a brutal dictator-in-training, who has “daddy issues”.  Think of a nineteen year-old demon spawn son of any recently fallen dictator and that’s what you have here – a kid looking for acceptance and power by preying on everyone’s fear. Juliette is his key to absolute power and he’s seriously disturbed.  Any time he’s close to Juliette is cringe-worthy. He confuses his blood lust for power with that of love. While Juliette is repulsed by his deranged mind, she also finds herself strangely fascinated by him. He tries to convince her that they are one and the same  gifted people unwanted by others. Juliette though doesn't want to be a monster even if the whole world has turned its back on her. She is at a crossroads between embracing her touch as a gift or as a curse and she has to decide soon because she could be the linchpin in the pending rebellion.   


One of the things I love most about Shatter Me is that Mafi has given Juliette a distinctive voice. Her rhythmic and hypnotic tones are mesmerizing and through her words I could see and feel all the jumbled thoughts dancing around Juliette’s mind. It gets more intriguing when she starts to experience heightened awareness of things around her. And the descriptions of her intimate moments with Adam are so poetic at times. Adam is definitely her hero who has his own complicated past but hopes for a bright future. He provides Juliette the reassurance and sense of security she needs. Together they have a very passionate connection that it's like watching fireworks go off.


I highly recommend Shatter Me. It's heavy emphasis on the beauty and urgency of physical contact is filled with plenty of anticipation and emotion. The action is quite intense and on par with the Hunger Games or the Maze Runner. But what sets it apart from the others is Tahereh Mafi's beautiful prose that plants Shatter Me in another sphere entirely.


~  Bel

Friday, November 18, 2011

Kiss of Frost by Jennifer Estep


****1/2
From Kensington:

 
Logan Quinn was trying to kill me.



My Spartan classmate relentlessly pursued me, swinging his sword at me over and over again, the shining silver blade inching closer to my throat every time. A smile tugged up his lips, and his ice-blue eyes practially glowed with the thrill of battle…


I’m Gwen Frost, a second-year warrior-in-training at Mythos Academy, and I have no idea how I’m going to survive the rest of the semester. One day, I’m getting schooled in swordplay by the guy who broke my heart—the drop-dead gorgeous Logan who slays me every time. Then, an invisible archer in the Library of Antiquities decides to use me for target practice. And now, I find out that someone at the academy is really a Reaper bad guy who wants me dead. I’m afraid if I don’t learn how to live by the sword—with Logan’s help—I just might die by the sword…

Kiss of Frost chronicles the continuing adventures of my favorite Gypsy, Gwen Frost. This time, the kids at Mythos Academy are taking a field trip and poor Gwen may not make it back alive if the Reaper of Chaos stalking her has anything to say about it. But Gwen is busy trying to ignore Logan and his girlfriend, while keeping her BFF, Daphne, from worrying or getting hurt, training to protect herself and flirting with a hot guy from the New York Academy. Kiss of Frost is full of surprises, plot twists and intrigue.
 
If it is possible, I think I enjoyed Kiss of Frost more than Touch of Frost. Gwen is more confident and assertive in Kiss. Sure, she is still trying to figure out her Gypsy gift and her place at Mythos, but she is not nearly as indecisive and meek as she was in Touch of Frost. Plus, she’s chock full of smack-talk, which I love. Really, the only thing that needs to be said here is – Vic, the talking sword.

Fans of Jennifer Estep’s snarky and sassy heroines will adore Kiss of Frost! Also, the bonus Chapter 1 of Dark Kiss at the end of the book nearly made me throw my e-reader, which would have been bad. The teaser, is just that, teasing and taunting me that I have to wait forever to read Dark Kiss (releasing May 29, 2012). 

Also, in case you missed it - Jennifer Estep's short story, Halloween Frost is in the Entangled Anthology.  Proceeds from the sale go to the Breast Cancer Research Foundation.  It is only available in ebook and is sold by all major retailers.  A great short story for a great cause!



~Shel


Thursday, November 17, 2011

Witch Eyes by Scott Tracey

*** 1/2

Braden was born with witch eyes: the ability to see the world as it truly is: a blinding explosion of memories, darkness, and magic. The power enables Braden to see through spells and lies, but at the cost of horrible pain.


After a terrifying vision reveals imminent danger for the uncle who raised and instructed him, Braden retreats to Belle Dam, an old city divided by two feuding witch dynasties. As rival family heads Catherine Lansing and Jason Thorpe desperately try to use Braden's powers to unlock Belle Dam's secrets, Braden vows never to become their sacrificial pawn. But everything changes when Braden learns that Jason is his father--and Trey, the enigmatic guy he's falling for, is Catherine's son.

To stop an insidious dark magic from consuming the town, Braden must master his gift—and risk losing the one he loves.


A few things drew me to this book. First being that the main character was a boy and gay. Second, I absolutely (and secretly) have fallen in love with Scott Tracey via Twitter. He is wonderfully snarky and his tweets are a ton of fun. And third, although I don’t usually read books about witches, this seemed to be a pretty original story. In the end I enjoyed the book but unfortunately it was only an Enjoy” and not a “Love It” or “Awesome”.


What I didn’t like:

The supporting cast. With the exception of Trey and his sister most of the side characters fell flat for me. Particularly the parents. I felt that there should be more to Catherine and Jason besides their hate for each other. I am hoping that this may be explored in the next book.

Trey. I have to tell you. He is what I dislike most about Witch Eye’s. I think I was supposed to like Trey, Braden’s love interest. I won’t deny that the chemistry was well written. And oh my, that first kiss….swoon! But here is the thing. Trey is an overbearing, overprotective jerk. Don’t get me wrong. We Bibliojunkies like our share of bad boys – Patch Cipriano being a perfect example. But the bad boys we love always have a naughty sense of humor that wins us over. Trey was just a bad boy. There was nothing to lighten his character which in turn made him completely unlikable and in my opinion not good enough for Braden.


What I Loved:

The story. This story was original. Or at least it seemed so in my eyes (I’ve read precious few books about witches). This isn’t about a witch chanting spells and making potions. This is about a witch with powers that surpass anything imaginable and learning to use them while dealing with the side effects. When I say powerful, think Jean Grey/Phoenix in the X-Men movies.

Braden. We don’t often get a male first person perspective in YA. Particularly one written by a man. And we certainly aren’t often given a story where our main character is gay. In Witch Eyes we get the best of all worlds. Scott Tracey delivers to us a young gay hero that we love more at every turn of the page. Braden is a very strong and extremely likable character. What I enjoyed most about him was his ability to do what was right for him. Even when he knew the consequences of making the right decision.

Braden’s sexuality. I loved that this wasn’t a coming of age story about a boy discovering that he is gay. Braden knows who he is in that regard although he is not experienced or confident about it yet. Love and romance is so new to him.  And really, isn't that one of things we all love about YA, right?  Instead, this story is about him discovering his family and the extent of his powers.


Like I said, in the end I DID enjoy this book. And I enjoyed it enough that I am looking forward to the next one. I can’t wait to see how Mr. Tracey continues this story in Demon Eye’s which is scheduled to be released next fall.



Nat

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Gratitude Giveaway Hop!

Ladies & Gentlemen & children of all ages we have another giveway!  Don't tell my fellow BiblioJunkies, because I am trying to hide this one from them!  Shh. So, to show our gratitude to all you folks, we are giving away a super prize pack.  First up is Clockwork Angel by Cassandra Clare (Hardcover):



And because we don't do anything half-way here at BiblioJunkies, we are giving away a copy of the highly anticipated Clockwork Prince by Cassandra Clare!



We will ship your lovely copy of Clockwork Prince from Amazon or Barnes & Noble once the book is released on December 6, 2011.  This was Nat's idea, so you all can say a big ol' Thank You to her! 

Anyway, fill out the rafflecopter below and leave a comment with your FB name so that we can verify entries and your email address so that we can notify you if you win - while your at it, let us know what your favorite Black Friday tradition is - I personally love getting up at the crack of dawn (or before) shopping with Bel and getting all slap happy and silly.  We then top off the morning with breakfast at Denny's or similar giggling the whole time and getting weird looks from others.  So Happy Thanksgiving, I hope you get your fill of yummy food, family and shopping!  There are a ton of blogs participating - check out the linky below.  Good luck!

~Shel







The Shattering by Karen Healey

* * * * 1/2

“If you want to find out who murdered your brother, follow me.”

Keri, Janna and Sione have one thing in common: Their older brothers are dead.  Each death was ruled a suicide, but there were no notes, no warnings, and no explanations.

So they’ve worked out a theory: Their brothers were murdered – and weren’t the only victims.

As the search for the serial killer goes on, mysterious forces are unearthed and suspicion is cast on those the three trust the most.  When secrets shatter around them, can they save the next victim?  Or will they become victims themselves?


Wow!  That was exactly what I thought when I had finished The Shattering, a quiet thriller set in a beautiful paradise town of Summerton in New Zealand.   

Keri kicks off the story recounting the memory of her brother’s recent death.  Still reeling from the shock, she refuses to accept that it was a suicide.  A chance encounter with former childhood best friend, Janna, who implies that Jake’s death could possibly be a homicide, wakes Keri from the stupor she's been in and fires her ambition to find and destroy the murderer.  Janna organizes a meeting of the minds along with her friend, Sione. These three form an unlikely friendship as they delve into the mystery surrounding their brothers’ deaths and unwittingly expose more mysteries about the small town of Summerton and its inhabitants.

This is essentially Keri’s story though the reader gets a glimpse into Janna and Sione’s world through third person narrative.  Inviting the reader to view events and memories through each character's experience is genius.  Each brings their own unique perspective that allows the mystery to unfold as it does.  Keri’s inherent need to be in control and always be prepared keeps the threesome’s task in order. Sione’s detailed research of the murders allows them to connect the dots. Janna’s tendencies toward flightiness and witchcraft encourage them to open their eyes to the unlikely possibility that perhaps there’s something far more sinister than just a serial killer on the loose.

The story starts off slow which allows for important groundwork to be laid out before things pick up.  When a series of scary and inexplicable events causes them to either behave out of character or succumb to harm, they realize that there are in fact dealing with diabolical forces.  

The Shattering is a brilliant, gripping novel that had me so wrapped up in the enormity of the mystery that I never for a second even considered the twist ending that made me gasp.


~ Bel

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Death Cure by James Dashner

* * * *


Thomas knows that WICKED can't be trusted.  They stole his memories and locked him inside the Maze.  They forced him to the brink of death by dropping him in the wilds of the Scorch.  And they took Gladers, his friends, from him.


Now WICKED says that the time for lies is over.  That they've collected all the data they can from the Trials and will rely on the Gladers, with full memories restored, to help them with their ultimate mission: to complete the blueprint for the cure for the Flare.  But Thomas must undergo one final test.


What WICKED doesn't know, however, is that Thomas has already remembered far more than they think.  And it's enough to prove that he can't believe a word of what WICKED says.


The time for lies is over.  And the truth is more dangerous than Thomas could have ever imagined.


WILL ANYONE SURVIVE THE DEATH CURE?


Intense, non-stop, heart-pounding, rip-roaring action would be the best way to describe The Death Cure, the third and final installment in the excellent  Maze Runner series. Thomas continues to battle the mind games on all fronts and maneuver between good and evil in a fight to save his life and that of his friends.


After years of tests and mind traps, WICKED has finally promised a cure to those who have survived the Scorch. But of course, can anyone really trust them? There are always strings attached and Thomas’ has been tethered pretty tightly to them. With the unenviable task of leading the group upon his weathered shoulders he must decide carefully if he wants to sever all ties with WICKED or put his life into their hands. His decision is directly tied to the cure…but at a cost. When WICKED offers the opportunity to retrieve all his memories he goes with gut instinct. He hides his secret that he's slowly regaining his memories, fleeting as they may be, but they're enough to plant doubts in his mind about WICKED's ulterior motives. With his friend Brenda, one of the few he trusts implicitly besides his Glader friends, Minho and Newt,  they hatch plans for their escape to go searching for answers on their own terms. The Death Cure is where this gang finally takes charge of their fate. Former enemies become allies, former allies become untrustworthy and all the while society is rapidly descending into debauchery around them.


What I have enjoyed most about this series is that you’re just as cynical and confused as the characters are.  Every misdirection somehow leads closer to the truth and every easy route is questionable. There is always so much more than meets the eye that you find yourself second guessing everything. It’s so easy to get sucked in and feel the pressure that these kids feel.  But these kids are so unbelievably resilient and loyal and ultimately they make this series so fantastic.


The intensity in The Death Cure is relentless and doesn't disappoint.  And if you have the special edition which includes never-before-seen classified documents –  let's just say that they're intriguing enough to make you wonder if perhaps there's more of the story to tell ...


~ Bel

Sunday, November 13, 2011

A Peek In The Biblio-Bin (In My Mailbox) - #9

In My Mailbox is a weekly meme hosted by The Story Siren. It is a way for bloggers to share what books they have won, received for review, bought from the bookstore, borrowed from the library or friend, etc.


This week Nat shares her finds.



T.J. has always looked out for his little sister, Angela. When Momma used to go out and leave them home alone, he'd lock the door so they'd be safe, keep Angela entertained, and get out the cereal and milk for her. When Momma's boyfriend got angry at them, he'd try to protect Angela. Later, at their foster homes, T.J. was the only one who knew how to coax his little sister out of her bad moods. The only one who understood why she made origami paper cranes and threw them out the window.

But now T.J. is sitting in the waiting room at the hospital, wondering if Angela, unconscious after a fall, will ever wake up. Wondering, too, if he will ever feel at home with his and Angela's new parents—Marlene, who insists on calling him Timothy, and Dan, who seems to want a different son.

Going back and forth between Now and Then, weaving the uncertain present with the painful past, T.J.'s story unfolds, and with the unfolding comes a new understanding of how to move forward
 
 
 
Teenage twins Ysabel and Justin Nicholas are lucky. Ysabel's jewelry designs have already caught the eyes of the art world and Justin's intelligence and drive are sure to gain him entrance into the most prestigious of colleges. They even like their parents. But their father has a secret—one that threatens to destroy the twins' happy family and life as they know it.
Over the course of spring break, Ysabel and Justin will be forced to come to terms with their dad's new life, but can they overcome their fears to piece together their happy family again?
 
 
 
When plain and unpopular Annie Nutter gets zapped by one of her dad's whacked-out inventions, she lands in a parallel universe where her life becomes picture-perfect. Now she's Ayla Monroe, daughter of the same mother but a different father—and she's the gorgeous, rich queen bee of her high school.
In this universe, Ayla lives in glitzy Miami instead of dreary Pittsburgh and has beaucoup bucks, courtesy of her billionaire—if usually absent—father. Her friends hit the clubs, party backstage at concerts, and take risks that are exhilirating . . . and illegal. Here she's got a date to lose her V-card with the hottest guy she's ever seen.
But on the insde, Ayla is still Annie.

So when she's offered the chance to leave the dream life and head home to Pittsburgh, will she take it?

The choice isn't as simple as you think.
 
 
 
I'm dying, I thought. This was unexpected and not at all how I envisioned my death. I was supposed to die gardening in a flowerbed as a hundred-year-old woman, not as a seventeen-year-old trapped in a lake beneath inches of ice.

Llona Reese is used to living on the run. After the Vykens killed her parents, she knew they would eventually come for her too. She can’t take any chances. But when she starts to make friends for the first time in her life, she gets careless and lets her guard down. Big mistake.

As an Aura, Llona can manipulate light and harness its energy. But if she wants to survive, Llona will have to defy the Auran Council and learn to use her power as a weapon against the Vyken whose sole desire is to take her light. Now she’s caught in something even bigger than she can understand, with a power she can’t wield, and no one she can trust, except, just maybe, a mysterious stranger.

In this breathtaking and romantic adventure, Rachel McClellan delivers a truly mesmerizing story that will keep you guessing to the very end





Tell us what you are reading this week!
















Friday, November 11, 2011

Starcrossed by Josephine Angelini

I am reposting this review in a shameless attempt to win Josephine Angelini's Dreamless ARC contest.  Starcrossed is one of my favorites of 2011, so I am desperate to read Dreamless!  :-)
****1/2

Book description from HarperCollins Publishers:

How do you defy destiny?

Helen Hamilton has spent her entire sixteen years trying to hide how different she is—no easy task on an island as small and sheltered as Nantucket. And it's getting harder. Nightmares of a desperate desert journey have Helen waking parched, only to find her sheets damaged by dirt and dust. At school she's haunted by hallucinations of three women weeping tears of blood . . . and when Helen first crosses paths with Lucas Delos, she has no way of knowing they're destined to play the leading roles in a tragedy the Fates insist on repeating throughout history.
As Helen unlocks the secrets of her ancestry, she realizes that some myths are more than just legend. But even demigod powers might not be enough to defy the forces that are both drawing her and Lucas together—and trying to tear them apart.


Starcrossed introduces an entirely new spin on the Greek Gods, mythology and demigods.  There is a lot of information and action in this book. Not only does the book set up a new mythology, it also introduces you to Helen and the rather large Delos family. Eventually, Helen comes to be close with the family, as they teach her about demigods and controlling and using her gifts. Obviously, I enjoyed Helen's relationship with Lucas; however, I hope that Dreamless (Book 2 releasing May 2012) focuses more on Helen's relationship with the rest fo the Delos family.  I especially enjoyed Helen's friendship with Hector, which provided comic relief during Helen's combat training.  Josephine Angelini did a fabulous job of relaying this new mythology and weaving the story. 

This book could have easily felt as if you were getting a mythology lecture, but Ms. Angelini artfully sidestepped that pitfall.  I was oblivious to the world while reading this book and did not want it to end.  So much so that I could not really focus on reading anything else until I read Starcrossed a second time.   

All in all, I definitely recommend Starcrossed and give it 4.5 stars (I still cannot stop thinking about it)!

~Shel

Son of Neptune by Rick Riordan

*****
Son of Neptune (“SoN”) picks up the story introduced in The Lost Hero tracking the progress of seven heroes who will rise against a burgeoning evil. In the final installment of the Percy Jackson and the Olympians series we first heard the prophecy which foretold the struggles to come:

Seven half-bloods shall answer the call

To storm or fire the world must fall

An oath to keep with a final breath

And foes bear arms to the Doors of Death

 

The Lost Hero introduced Jason, Leo and Piper to us and Camp Half-Blood (see Nat’s review here). The Lost Hero also warned us that our beloved Percy had gone missing, causing frantic searches by Annabeth, Tyson and Percy’s friends.

SoN picks up several months after The Lost Hero and finds Percy fighting to survive without his memory. He knows he is a demi-god and he remembers his girlfriend, Annabeth, but other than that, he has no memory. Percy is led to a hidden camp filled with the descendants of the Roman gods. Percy is declared a son of the Sea God, Neptune, and the goddess Juno vouches for him. He is accepted into camp and befriended by two warriors, Hazel and Frank. The three set out on a quest to the land beyond the gods to stop the rise of powerful giant.

The Heroes of Olympus series is a little more complex and confusing than Percy Jackson and the Olympians because of the distinction between the Romans and Greeks and the duality of the gods, monsters and even the heroes. My nieces and nephew (5, 7 & 9) just finished a family reading of Percy Jackson and the Olympians and I am not sure they would understand the duality in SoN. These themes were hinted at in The Lost Hero; however, Hero took place in the familiar world of Camp Half-Blood and the Greeks. The issues and differences are much more pronounced and essential in SoN. While Camp Half-Blood deals with life and death situations, the Roman camp seems much more intense, making Camp Half-Blood seem light-hearted in comparison.

All this aside, it was wonderful to spend time with Percy again, like hanging out with an old friend you had not seen in a long time. SoN allows you to catch up with Percy and see how he has grown and changed in the 10 months since the Battle of Olympus. We also get to meet some fun new heroes and friends, as they try to defeat Gaea and her giants.

Unlike Percy Jackson and the Olympians series, where each book seemed self-contained, Heroes of Olympus leaves you hanging and clamoring for answers. SoN ends just when things were getting good and left you needing to know what happens next. I hope that Mark of Athena starts where SoN left off, but if Lost Hero and SoN are any indication, I cannot begin to guess where Rick Riordan is going to pick up the story.

Heroes of Olympus is darker, funnier and more mature than the Percy Jackson series. Riordan really brought the funny in SoN, there were several sections that had me laughing out loud. I thoroughly enjoyed Son of Neptune and was sad to see it end. I rarely give 5 stars, but I am giving them to Son of Neptune because Riordan really is brilliant to enthrall me so…

~Shel













Thursday, November 10, 2011

Art of Fictional Love Spotlight #4

We usually highlight drawings for our Spotlights but there are other mediums out there that deserve just as much attention. A favorite among the Bibliojunkies is music.  Here is a lovely song written and performed by the young and talented Alice Invictus (known as Zoe in the real world). 

SPOILERS!!!  If you haven't read the first three books in The Mortal Instruments by Cassandra Clare, this entire song is a pretty big spoiler.  You have been warned :-)

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Carrier of the Mark by Leigh Fallon

***1/2

From HarperTeen:

Their love was meant to be.

When Megan Rosenberg moves to Ireland, everything in her life seems to fall into place. After growing up in America, she's surprised to find herself feeling at home in her new school. She connects with a group of friends, and she is instantly drawn to darkly handsome Adam DeRís.

But Megan is about to discover that her feelings for Adam are tied to a fate that was sealed long ago—and that the passion and power that brought them together could be their ultimate destruction.



(Don't you just love this cover?)

Megan lost her mother in a car accident as a child.  Her father has never really recovered from the lost and the two have moved around quite a bit.  Now, Megan's Dad has taken a job in a small Irish village and they may just find a home there, but Ireland is a magical place and things are not always what they seem.  Megan is stalked by a bird and drawn to the DeRis family, especially Adam, and all these strange things start happening. 

Carrier of the Mark is Leigh Fallon's debut novel.  The history is a little complicated, but once you figure it out the story is compelling and engrossing.  The relationships between Megan and the DeRis family is fun (and reminded me of one of my favorite books of the year, Starcrossed by Josephine Angelini).  Fallon's descriptions of the Irish scenery are vivid and made me feel as if I were there.  I was thoroughly entertained by Carrier of the Mark and I will try to patiently wait for the next installment, but patience is not really my forte.  Fans of magic, Ireland and hot boys with accents will love Carrier of the Mark.

~Shel