Thursday, May 31, 2012

It’s Coming! YA Contemporary Month Starts Tomorrow!



Starts tomorrow, right here!

I'm lucky enough to be co-hosting this event on my little blog
along with Evie from Bookish and Bonnie from Words at Home

They're fabulous! 

I'll have plenty of thoughts on plenty of books
along with some interviews, guest posts, and giveaways.
(So will Evie & Bonnie!)


WOOHOO!!!

Be Ready!

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

My Thoughts On: Transcendence by C.J. Omololu


Transcendence by C.J. Omololu
Published by Walker & Company
Publish Date: June 5, 2012
336 Pages
Source: NetGalley

When a visit to the Tower of London triggers an overwhelmingly real vision of a beheading that occurred centuries before, Cole Ryan fears she is losing her mind. A mysterious boy, Griffon Hall, comes to her aid, but the intensity of their immediate connection seems to open the floodgate of memories even wider.

As their feelings grow, Griffon reveals their common bond as members of the Akhet—an elite group of people who can remember past lives and use their collected wisdom for the good of the world. But not all Akhet are altruistic, and a rogue is after Cole to avenge their shared past. Now in extreme danger, Cole must piece together clues from many lifetimes. What she finds could ruin her chance at a future with Griffon, but risking his love may be the only way to save them both.

Full of danger, romance, and intrigue, Transcendence breathes new life into a perpetually fascinating question: What would you do with another life to live?
–(summary from Goodreads)


Transcendence by C.J. Omololu


My Thoughts: Transcendence is a fun story about reincarnation and love. And there’s music in there in the form of a cello, which sort of thrilled me to pieces.

Cole Ryan is visiting London with her sister and father when she starts having these very strange, oddly familiar visions. She watches a beheading with near-clarity while her sister thinks she is dehydrated and about to faint. Griffin Hall, standing nearby, comes to her rescue and BAM! an instant connection is made between the two.

It turns out these two have something in common – they’re both Akhet. Akhet are people that can remember who they were in lives past. These people tend to keep their memories in each life while everyone else just starts over with new memories with each new life. The Akhet can sense each other in proximity, which is why Griffin was so quick to rush to Cole’s side when she was acting sick – because he knew the real reason for her behavior. While most Akhet are the good guys, some end up being the bad guys. Rogues, they called them. Interestingly enough, Cole has a rogue on her trail and Griffin is the guy who will step and and not only teach her about what she really is, but he’ll try and keep her safe as well.  

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Transcendence is a good story with good pacing and an interesting take on reincarnation. There is a romance and it comes fairly quickly and is near-instant but there is no triangle. There are a few twists and turns thrown in toward the end, which were a little bit shocking to me but certainly kept me interested…and while the ending isn’t exactly a cliffhanger, it does leave things wide open for the next book to take off at brisk pace.

In the beginning, I didn’t realize how much of a big deal the cello would be in the story. I thought it just a little detail. It actually ended up being rather huge, and I loved that considering I have a little history with strings myself.

Also, I want to mention that I absolutely, positively love the cover of this book. Can somebody please stand up and clap for C.J. Omololu and her creative team for putting a non-white person not only in a leading role in her story but front and center on a quite attractive cover?! The cover looks great anyway, but I’m super happy that these cover models actually represent the story the way it is told. Very, very nice job.

Transcendence is a fun, quick paranormal/urban fantasy story that seems to be a little romance-y at first but becomes more mysterious and thrilling as the end comes near. By the time I got to the end, I was pretty invested and will for sure read the next book when it becomes available.

Transcendence will appeal to fans of:

YA Paranormal/Urban Fantasy
Reincarnation Stories
Romance: seems instant, no triangle
Books Containing Music: Cello

Transcendence
by C.J. Omololu
is available for purchase on June 5, 2012.

**I received a review copy from the publisher in exchange for an honest opinion and review. I received no compensation for my thoughts. Thank you Bloomsbury USA & NetGalley!

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Do you get excited when
you find music or the arts in a book?

Which artsy book is your favorite?

I was so happy and shocked
to see so much of the cello in this one!


Tuesday, May 29, 2012

My Thoughts On: Dead Reckoning by Mercedes Lackey & Rosemary Edghill


Dead Reckoning by Mercedes Lackey & Rosemary Edghill
Published by Bloomsbury USA
Publish Date: June 5, 2012
336 Pages
Source: NetGalley

Jett is a girl disguised as a boy, living as a gambler in the old West as she searches for her long-lost brother. Honoria Gibbons is a smart, self-sufficient young woman who also happens to be a fabulous inventor. Both young women travel the prairie alone – until they are brought together by a zombie invasion! As Jett and Honoria investigate, they soon learn that these zombies aren’t rising from the dead of their own accord … but who would want an undead army? And why? This gunslinging, hair-raising, zombie western mashup is perfect for fans of Cowboys vs. Aliens and Pride & Prejudice & Zombies. –(summary from Goodreads)

Dead Reckoning
by Mercedes Lackey & Rosemary Edghill


My Thoughts: I was really excited to get a chance to read Dead Reckoning early because 1) I love zombies and 2) that cover is pretty darn awesome. I still think the cover is pretty great, but after finishing the book, I’m less inclined to call it a zombie book than a Western…or some other kind of book with zombies in it.
 
1. The Characters. There are a trio of unlikely heroes that end up trying to solve a mystery surrounding some zombies and a weird cult establishment.
  • Jett Gallatin. Jett is a girl that disguises herself as a boy searching for her missing twin brother, Jasper. She’s young and on her own, traveling with just her trusty stallion Nightingale. Jett is smart and level-headed, and she misses dressing and acting like a girl. There is talk throughout the book of Jett maintaining her appearance as a boy to keep her safe and alive, but I personally never really completely understood her reasons for this. 
  • Honoria Verity Providentia Gibbons. ‘Gibbons’ is just about as pretentious as a name like hers would stereotypically suggest. She is a bit of an oddball, traveling the country in the name of science, when she stumbles upon a zombie mystery and decides she wants to help solve the mystery. Gibbons goes completely against the standard culture of that time for women - dressing rationally, pursuing intellectual pursuits, and inventing things. She also does not feel that she is inferior to men at all. Gibbons is wildly annoying to me but very smart, and uses her scientific knowledge to help the others in more than one instance. 
  • White Fox. White Fox was raised from childhood by Native Americans after being the only survivor of an attack on his wagon train. He crosses paths with Gibbons when he is studying the disappearances of several recent cattle drives and wagon trains, and he is surprised to find that Gibbons is also studying the disappearances of people and entire towns for her own reasons. The two decide to work together and wish to proceed into the nearest town to interview the townsfolk on any news they may have regarding these disappearances. (This is where the two meet up with Jett, who is going in the opposite direction after narrowly escaping a zombie attack on the same town into which Gibbons and White Fox are headed. Despite Jett's claims, the two insist on pushing forward and Jett tags along.) 
  • Brother Shepard. Crazy-weird cult leader of 'The Fellowship of the Divine Resurrection' located at Jerusalem’s Wall, a few hours’ ride outside the city of Alsop. This guy is bizarro. He has crazy ideas and acts on them all in order to build a massive zombie army. Our unlikely trio of zombie-fighting hero friends decide that Brother Shepard has to be stopped before he takes over any more of the territories and turns more people into the undead. But Shepard is just as smart as he is weird, and stopping him is not easy because he knows tons about science too

2. The Setting. West Texas, 1867. The town of Alsop and its surrounding areas. Alsop is like all of the regular towns from this era that you have read about/seen on TV - except once the zombies come, they take all the townspeople back with them. The town becomes deserted overnight, a ghost town. This is where Jett, Gibbons, and White Fox make their base of operations in trying to figure out who these ‘zombies’ are, where they are coming from, and exactly what it is that they want.

3. The Genre. When I first read the description of this book, I thought it was a zombie-cowboy book with some steampunk in it. I was pumped about that mash-up! Who on earth wouldn’t be? Really, though, it feels a little more like a Western action story with unusual zombies instead of cowboys and a crazy cult thrown in to make it interesting. There is some steampunk as well, but not very much.

4. The Story. I think the story is…interesting. There are zombies being made somehow in dusty West Texas, and their numbers are increasing. There is a cult that is also growing in number with ‘Blessed Resurrected’ (aka zombies - see where I'm going here?). A little digging around by Jett determines that this growing zombie army is to be used to take over more cities and wipe out groups of traitors that have been determined by Brother Shepard. Scientific research by Gibbons coupled with clues picked up by Jett determine both the ways the zombies are made and destroyed. (And White Fox is there too, hanging out, just sort of being cool.)

I like Dead Reckoning, but I think I could have liked it a bit more if a few things were different. First of all, since so much fuss was made out about Jett’s brother Jasper, I’d have liked to know more about him…because I still know nothing about him at all except that she was looking for him and she got sidetracked for a bit to deal with this zombie issue. I also wish I had a better grasp on this cult-like compound in the middle of West Texas and exactly why so much was made out of it, when so much of it could’ve been left out. Admittedly, I got confused a bit when I had to re-read passages about the crazy cult. Brother Shepard, the leader – I got him. I understand why he's in there. But most of his staff and followers – not so much. And they gave a lot of space to explaining their theories about how the zombies were made and destroyed. Very detailed explanation. More scientific-minded people might enjoy that a bit more than I did.

The characters – Jett, Gibbons, and White Fox – all had some really great things about them. Jett is a strong young girl, making it on her own because of skills she’s picked up along the way. She’s also good with a gun, which I love, and even though she was not completely fearless, she was incredibly brave. Like I said earlier, though, I don’t really understand the need to keep her dressed like a boy all of the time, particularly when she longs for and misses dressing like a girl so much. Gibbons just really grated on my nerves, but I wonder if maybe she was supposed to? I love that she was such a smart, smart girl – very driven in her pursuits – but sometimes she acted rashly and very stupidly in the name of science and had to be bailed out by one of the others. Science is awesome, but so is staying alive. Gibbons was ahead of the times, which is something that Jett did not necessarily understand nor agree with, and even though the two did not really 'get' each other, they were able to be friendly enough to work together to find solutions to the problems at hand. White Fox was the character that I had the most trouble connecting with, but maybe this is because I’m not a guy that was raised by Native Americans after my family was killed in an attack on a wagon train. Still, I love that White Fox was fiercely loyal to the job he was committed to and that he did not act inappropriately toward the young women he worked with or let anything else distract him from his goals.

The best part of Dead Reckoning, to me, is the setting because it was described and built well. I’ve watched enough Westerns on TV to be able to visualize this place perfectly, I think, so maybe that is why I loved this part of the book so much.

It is interesting to note that there is no romance in this book at all. You have one guy hanging out with – and spending several nights with – two gals, and you’d think there would at least be an implied romance…but, no. No way. Dead Reckoning is straight-up what the book says it is: a zombie western mash-up. I think if you like reading Westerns or books with zombies in them, you just might like this one.

Dead Reckoning will appeal to fans of:

Zombies
Westerns
Some Steampunk 
Crazy Cults
No Romance
Action-Driven > Character-Driven


Dead Reckoning
by Mercedes Lackey & Rosemary Edghill
is available for purchase on June 5, 2012.

**I received a review copy from the publisher in exchange for an honest opinion and review. I received no compensation for my thoughts. Thank you Bloomsbury USA & NetGalley!


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Do you like Zombie books? 
Westerns? 

Do you think this one will make it
to your to-read pile?

Monday, May 28, 2012

BLOG TOUR! Of Poseidon by Anna Banks Interview + GIVEAWAY!



What’s up, you guys!
Today is my stop on the
Of Poseidon by Anna Banks Blog Tour!

I read Of Poseidon back in March and posted my thoughts at that time. It was such a fun book!  You can read my thoughts on Of Poseidon Here.


I’m so excited that I have the chance to share an interview with Author Anna Banks with you today because – you guys – she is really hilarious! When she emailed me these responses, I laughed for a good, long while…

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Anna Banks!
Thanks so much for stopping by today!

1. Congratulations on Of Poseidon! Can you tell us a little bit about yourself and the book?
I’m a southern girl who loves fried chicken, chocolate, and Starbucks. My favorite book is Divergent (so far), my favorite color is red (therefore my favorite nail polish is “I’m Not Really A Waitress”), and my favorite TV show is The Walking Dead. I once broke my ankle falling off the toilet (don’t ask, because I simply will not tell you).
Of Poseidon is my debut, and it’s full of sarcasm, humor, and romance. Probably you should check it out. It’s about mermaids and secrets and upchuck.
2. Of Poseidon is YA Fantasy with a little bit of Paranormal, a little bit of Mythology, and a lot of Romance. Personally, my favorite parts were the romance! Which aspect of the book was your favorite to write?
Oh, I love writing bickering couples (Gilbert and Anne, anyone?), so all the interaction between Galen and Emma was my favorite. HOWEVER, I have to say that keeping them apart was hard. I don’t know how Jane Austen did it with Mr. Darcy and Lizzy in Pride and Prejudice. I watched that movie recently (the one with Kiera Knightley) and the whole time I was all, “OMG just kiss her already!”
As an author, I understand that it has to be done. As a reader, I just want to throw the book across the room.
3. How did the idea for the story of Emma and Galen come to you?
The idea of mermaids came from an article I read about how they’d discovered the colossal squid—something scientists thought was only fishermen’s lore up until 2005. It got me thinking, what else could be out there? Mermaids, perhaps?
Emma and Galen specifically came to me as I wrote. I knew I wanted to create a modern, twice-removed cousin of The Little Mermaid, where the guy was the fish prince and girl was the human. It grew from there.
4. It took me a little while to warm up to Emma but I loved Galen instantly. Likewise, it was a bit hard for me to like Rayna as much as I liked Toraf...Which characters were your favorites and why?
I love love love Toraf. He’s so easy going and good natured. He’s not as serious as Galen, because he doesn’t have as much responsibility as Galen. And since he has far less experience in the human world than the other characters, it’s excessively fun to explore how he might interpret things.
5. Oh! The ending was a killer! I'm already impatient for the rest of the story...Can you tell us anything - anything at all - about the next book in the series?
Yes, I’m sorry! I think I’m getting a black eye on tour because of that ending.
The sequel is tentatively titled Of Triton. I think you can guess that the Gift of Triton will make an appearance. That’s all I can really say…Sorry!
6. I adore a book with a pretty cover and Of Poseidon certainly has a beautiful cover! Can you tell us anything about its design?
Only that I had nothing to do with it, I wish I could take credit for it because look at it for crying out loud, and I almost cried when they sent it to me, because I knew I was one freaking lucky author to get a masterpiece like that as my cover. Also, I lub it.
7. I have never been able to imagine myself as an author because I am admittedly not very disciplined in terms of my time; I need a certain amount of structure and order in my day to function at an acceptable level. What does a typical writing day look like for Anna Banks?
I get up at 4:45 in the morning and write for a couple of hours. Unfortunately for me, I’m sharpest in the morning time, because in the evenings I tend to drink wine. I’ve tried to switch it up and drink wine in the morning instead of the evening, but it didn’t work out so well.
Sometimes I can sit down and write a couple thousands words in one sitting. Sometimes it feels like writerly constipation and I can only squeeze out 100 words. But if I keep my routine and actually write, no matter how many words, then I don’t have a guilty conscience the rest of the day and I can really enjoy my evening wine instead of brood in it…
8. You've mentioned before on your blog (here) that music gets you in the mood to write. What music are you reaching for these days when you are looking for inspiration?
I choose music per scene. For romantic scenes, I choose love songs (for Of Poseidon, there was a lot of Bruno Mars, and 80’s music. The theme song would have been Animal by Neon Trees). For funny scenes, I choose songs like, “I Want to Break Free” by Queen or “Clumsy” by Fergie. If it’s a fight scene, I’ll go with Marilyn Manson.
9. Have you read anything lately that stuck with you? Are there any titles that you are looking forward to reading this summer or fall?
The Fault in Our Stars by John Green stuck with me, because I read it shortly after my mom died of cancer in October (not super smart of me, right?). Shatter Me by Tahereh Mafi stuck with me because of her glorious writing style. And Cinder by Marissa Meyer because it was so stinking original.
10. You're going on tour this summer with MacMillan and Fierce Reads...Tell us all about that!
I’m touring with Jennifer Bosworth (Struck), Leigh Bardugo (Shadow and Bone), Emmy Laybourne (Monument 14), and other authors such as Marissa Meyer and Ann Aguirre (Enclave). Looks like we’re crashing 14 cities in 13 days, or something crazy like that. For stop sites, you can check the Fierce Reads Facebook page. I’ve also got it posted on my blog.
So far we’ve been cutting up on Twitter together. What I’ve gathered so far about my tour mates is: Leigh and I argue a lot, Emmy is a sweetheart, and Jennifer is generally cooler than me in every way. I think we’re going to get along just fine. (Also, Leigh is a makeup artist, and she promised to make me look like a zombie on tour.)

*************************************************** 
Thank you, Anna!
Thanks for being here today! You make me laugh so much!
And I loved Of Poseidon!

Check out these other websites!
Anna’s Blog
Fierce Reads Facebook Fan Page
Tour Dates for Fierce Reads

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

GIVEAWAY!
Author Anna Banks & MacMillan Publishing
are offering one copy of
OF POSEIDON to ONE WINNER!
(US/Canada Only)


a Rafflecopter giveaway

Make sure to stop by the other stops on the
OF POSEIDON by Anna Banks Blog Tour!
(Hint: There may be other giveaway opportunities.)

Monday 5/21                        Mermaid Vision Books 
Tuesday 5/22                       
Two Chicks On Books 
Wednesday 5/23                  
Live To Read 
Thursday 5/24                   
    The Book Goddess 
Friday 5/25                        
   Moonlight Book Reviews 
Saturday 5/26                    
   A Cupcake and A Latte  

Sunday 5/27                      
   The YA Sisterhood 
Monday 5/28                       Into the Hall of Books
Tuesday 5/29                       The Book Cellar
Wednesday 5/30                  Bookalicious.org
Thursday 5/31                     Good Choice Reading
Friday 6/1                           Pretty Deadly Reviews
Saturday 6/2                       That Artsy Reader Girl



Of Poseidon is currently
available for purchase!


Thursday, May 24, 2012

…On Sloppy Firsts by Megan McCafferty


Sloppy Firsts by Megan McCafferty
Series: Jessica Darling #1
Published by Crown Publishing Group
Publish Date: August 28, 2001
298 Pages
Source:  My Bookshelf


“My parents suck ass. Banning me from the phone and restricting my computer privileges are the most tyrannical parental gestures I can think of. Don’t they realize that Hope’s the only one who keeps me sane? . . . I don’t see how things could get any worse.”


When her best friend, Hope Weaver, moves away from Pineville, New Jersey, hyperobservant sixteen-year-old Jessica Darling is devastated. A fish out of water at school and a stranger at home, Jessica feels more lost than ever now that the only person with whom she could really communicate has gone. How is she supposed to deal with the boy- and shopping-crazy girls at school, her dad’s obsession with her track meets, her mother salivating over big sister Bethany’s lavish wedding, and her nonexistent love life?
–(summary excerpt from Goodreads)

Sloppy Firsts by Megan McCafferty

My Thoughts: I finally did it! I caved! After hearing about Jessica Darling and Marcus Flutie for-practically-ever now, I picked the book up and read it. In one sitting. Yep, I surely did!

If I’m not mistakened, I first heard about Jessica and Marcus when I saw Ginger (@GReadsBooks) tweet about it with some other readers/bloggers. Everybody was all Marcus this! Marcus that! Ohhhh Marrrrrcussss…Later, I was so thrilled to find the book at my local Goodwill for 75 cents that I think I tweeted a picture of it to Ginger, all excited. Then it promptly went on the bookshelf. Why? Because Asheley doesn’t really read YA Contemps.

Fast Forward: I’m reading along and get to a blog post from Heidi (@BunburyinStacks) where she finally broke down and read it and – y’all – she liked it. This means a lot to me because as a new-to-contemp reader, I put lots of stock and faith in Heidi and her reading choices. Her review was compelling – so much so that I actually stopped commenting long enough to go grab the book off of my shelf and then resumed my comment. I totally planned to read Sloppy Firsts THAT NIGHT. And I did!

The first thing you need to know is this:
I’m new and growing-into YA Contemporary.
And I’m doing a banging job.
I started a Contemporary Challenge this year where I challenged myself to read a total of 12 YA Contemps in 2012. Well, I’ve passed that already. So YAY for that, right? Also, there is a contemporary event right here on this blog starting in just a few days!

Asheley + YA Contemporary = not quite LOVE yet, but definitely LIKE.

I read Sloppy Firsts because the right person finally convinced me and it was the right time. I sat down to read it in one sitting. I didn’t really mean to, honest. And I started reading it way too late. And I laughed a lot. It was a good time, it really was. Mostly...

The second thing you need to know is this:
I’m still not used to YA Contemporary.
I was cruising through Sloppy Firsts at a good pace. I understand why everyone likes/loves Jessica Darling. I mean, she is darling. I get it. But I have a few issues with her too. We probably all do. And I was confused by this.
 

See, in my mind there are the “issue contemps” and there are the “swoony contemps” – I definitely thought this was a swoony contemp going into it. Really, though, this was kind of a mixture of both. I’ll get to that in a bit.

YA Contemporary and I still have some things we need to learn about each other. We’re early in our relationship. It’s cool, though. We’re taking things slowly, like a slow-burn romance.

The third thing you need to know is this:
I started this book wondering
WHY ON EARTH IS EVERYONE SO IN LOVE
WITH MARCUS FLUTIE? WHY???
I thought there was something wrong with me. And then I thought there was something wrong with all of YOU. Surely the Marcus I was getting to know cannot, absolutely cannot, be the one you all are head-over-heels, 'gotta-have-my-Marcus-Flutie-fix' in love with? Are y'all for real?

I know, I know…I judged the poor boy. I won’t say much else. Except that Marcus and I are coming to terms with each other and that this is a good thing.

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Sloppy Firsts by Megan McCafferty had me laughing out loud. So many times! It was hilarious, over and over. Jessica Darling is ME. And YOU. And a little bit of everyone else you know. BUT…she’s also horribly insecure and clingy and needs WAY more confidence than she has. Her family sucks, big time. And she has a borderline obsession with her best friend Hope that had to move away. More than anything, I really felt sorry for Jessica as I laughed at her because she was so doggone funny.

Oh, Marcus Flutie. Where do I start with the stereotypical junkie? We all had a guy like Marcus Flutie in our school, didn’t we? Or at least I did. The thing about him that I liked the most was that he was so smart – but I was a little annoyed that he didn’t act like he cared. When he finally began to care and I finally began to invest myself in him a little bit, then Jessica kind of went nutty.

Jessica Darling: Are you freaking serious?
THAT ENDING! WHY???


Y’all, I think what I’m trying to say here is that this is a good book. I will absolutely be reading book two, Second Helpings, which I have currently checked out from my library and sitting beside me on the bed. But with Sloppy Firsts, I just held my breath, and held my breath, and hoped and held my breath….and in the end – DUDE! Very frustrating indeed. I am so very thankful that this series is already out so I can just breeze through it. Otherwise, I just don’t know what I would do…

Sloppy Firsts is a book that is definitely for more mature YA readers as well as the adult YA-loving crowd as there are plenty of themes, outright words, and conversations that are a bit inappropriate for younger readers, in my opinion. The language is frank and the implied scenarios and – yes – even fantasies are…well, they’re there. Still, as I said, I will be continuing with this series if for no other reason to lessen my frustration at the doggone ending. 

Sloppy Firsts will appeal to fans of

Young Adult Contemporary Fiction
Romance
Humor, Lots of it!
Books with Issues: All kinds of issues.
Older YA Readers & Adult YA-Loving Readers

Sloppy Firsts by Megan McCafferty
is currently available for purchase.

**Also, I would like to add that I am absolutely thinking of re-reading this as an audiobook listen. I like funny audiobooks. I really do!  


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Have you read Sloppy Firsts yet? 
Did you like it? 

If you haven't read it, is it in your to-read pile?

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

My Thoughts On: Daughter of Smoke & Bone by Laini Taylor {the Audiobook}


Daughter of Smoke & Bone by Laini Taylor
Published by Hachette Audio
Publish Date: September 27, 2011
Length: 12 hours, 32 minutes
Narrator: Khristine Hvam
Source: I checked this out thru the library’s Overdrive system!

Around the world, black handprints are appearing on doorways, scorched there by winged strangers who have crept through a slit in the sky.

In a dark and dusty shop, a devil's supply of human teeth grown dangerously low.

And in the tangled lanes of Prague, a young art student is about to be caught up in a brutal otherwordly war.

Meet Karou. She fills her sketchbooks with monsters that may or may not be real; she's prone to disappearing on mysterious "errands"; she speaks many languages—not all of them human; and her bright blue hair actually grows out of her head that color. Who is she? That is the question that haunts her, and she's about to find out.

When one of the strangers—beautiful, haunted Akiva—fixes his fire-colored eyes on her in an alley in Marrakesh, the result is blood and starlight, secrets unveiled, and a star-crossed love whose roots drink deep of a violent past. But will Karou live to regret learning the truth about herself?
–(summary from Goodreads)

Daughter of Smoke & Bone by Laini Taylor

My Thoughts: I’ve read Daughter of Smoke & Bone before, you guys. I’ve had a love affair with Laini Taylor’s lush language and descriptive writing and gorgeous setting and incredible characters. I hung on every word of the book and when I finished it, I think I hugged it for a long time – all the while wanting to simultaneously smile and cry at the same time. Ah, there were so many emotions!

That’s what is so awesome about a book that you love so much, isn’t it? I found all of that with this book, right away, within a chapter or two. The setting was the first thing that stole my heart but it was the story that grabbed it. I’ve recommended this book to no less than a bazillion people, and I’m happy to say that I’ve had positive feedback from the ones that have actually heeded my advice and read it. Literally, I found nothing wrong with it. (You can read my initial thoughts on Daughter of Smoke & Bone HERE.)

So why did I choose to read this book again via audiobook listen instead of with the print version? Great question!

The first thing you need to know is this:
I actually LIKE to “re-read” via audio
.
I have a hard time devoting 100% of my attention to anything. I’m just being honest. When I’m lucky enough to be by myself, I’m easily distracted. When I’m not by myself, I don’t even attempt to listen as it isn’t even worth how much I miss because of how insanely noisy my life is. So really, it isn’t always in my best interest to choose a shiny, brand-new book that I’m dying to read as an audiobook for the first time.  

(disclaimer: I’m currently listening to The Name of The Wind by Patrick Rothfuss, slowly, for my first read-thru via audio – but I’m following along nearly word-for-word with the book. So this one doesn’t count!)

The second thing you need to know is this:
I LOVE this book so much. Like, so much...
(as if you couldn’t tell by my opening paragraphs and initial review)
I recommended this book to a fellow reading pal a while back and she chose to listen to it by audiobook instead of reading the print version. She loved it, going as far as to tell me how great the audio is and that the reader is awesome. Because of her audio recommend back to me, it’s been on my radar since then. No time like the present, friends. I recently downloaded it thru my library's Overdrive system and reacquainted myself with Prague...and with Karou and Akiva...and Brimstone and all the rest. *sigh* It felt like coming home. Gah, I love this book so much.

The third thing you need to know is this.
People get ready, Book #2 is coming.
That’s right, everybody: Days of Blood & Starlight is projected to be published in early November 2012 by Little, Brown & Company. I sometimes to like to re-read the previous books before I continue with series books, so like I said earlier - it was just time. 

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I don’t need to tell you again how much I love the story; I’ve done that before. You can read my initial review. But I DO need to tell you how much I loved the audiobook. In fact, if you follow me on Twitter, I almost feel sorry that you had to read all of my tweets about it. Because they were plentiful, crazed, and gushy. 

As a re-read, I loved Daughter of Smoke & Bone even more than when I read it the first time. I picked up on so many little things that I missed initially. The first time, I devoured the book and missed a ton of foreshadowing. With the audiobook, the reader goes at a pace slower than my brain reads, so I was able to focus on what she was saying and not accidentally skip anything important – and because I’d read it before, if my mind wondered for a few seconds or a minute, it was okay because I knew the story.

OH! the story. And OH! the emotions. You guys, they are not lessened just because you have read the book before! They are only intensified and then some. Because you KNOW what is coming. You KNOW.

Khristine Hvam is a fantastic reader. Her voice is crisp and clear, and the gal can do accents like nobody’s business. And when in Prague, there are accents. When dealing with parallel worlds and all sorts of mythologies and beasts, there are accents! This was my first audiobook with this particular reader and I will actually seek her out for future audio.

Daughter of Smoke & Bone by Laini Taylor is published in audio form by Hachette Audio and is 13 hours, 32 minutes long. It is well, well worth your Audible credit, your dollars, or a check-out at your local library.

(If you choose not to go the audiobook route, I still very highly recommend this book in print form! It’s delicious!)

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Have you read Daughter of Smoke & Bone
Did you love it as much as I did? 

If you haven't read it, is it in your to-read pile?


Monday, May 21, 2012

My Thoughts On: Dead Beautiful by Melanie Dugan + GIVEAWAY!


Dead Beautiful by Melanie Dugan
Published by Upstart Press
Publish Date: May 12, 2012
165 Pages
Source: Melanie Dugan/TLCBookTours

Dead Beautiful is a contemporary retelling of the classic Greek myth of Persephone. This was the myth the Greeks used to explain how we came to have the change of seasons. In the traditional version of the myth, Persephone – the daughter of Demeter, Goddess of agriculture and fertility, and Zeus, the top god on Olympus – is abducted one day by Hades, God of the Underworld (which is also called Hades).

Demeter refuses to do her job until her daughter is returned to her, and the earth is plunged into the first winter: no crops grow, cold settles on the earth. It turns out that while in Hades, Persephone has eaten six pomegranate seeds. As a result, for six months of the year, she must live with Hades; this is when it is fall and winter on earth. For six months she lives with her mother – then we have spring and summer.

Dead Beautiful asks, what if Persephone, like many adolescent girls, didn’t tell her mother the whole truth? What if Hades didn’t abduct her? What if she made the decision to go with him? (She is, after all, 18 millennia old.)
–(summary excerpt from Goodreads)

Dead Beautiful by Melanie Dugan

My Thoughts: I love everything about classic Greek Mythology and I always have. The story of Persephone and Hades is one of my favorites and I loved this new spin on the classic myth. (Read the Goodreads summary above for a quick reminder of the classic myth.)

Melanie Dugan used alternating points-of-view to offer us a different perspective of the story in Dead Beautiful – Persephone is written as a regular girl with a regular crush that turns into full-blown love. It isn’t her fault that this love would be frowned upon if anyone knew about it – Hades has such a bad reputation and he doesn’t deserve it! He’s handsome – so handsome – and very kind. Plus, she loves him. Persephone simply does what any love-sick girl would do: she tries to get the attention of the guy she loves.

And it works. I love the way Hades was written in this story. Love him.

Hades notices her efforts. He notices all the little gifts she leaves for him in places where only he would find them. And he begins to do the same for her, leaving her small tokens of his affection here and there. Their secret courtship goes on like this for a time until it becomes clear that one of them needs to make a move because they just can’t live without one another. And so it happens: Persephone makes her choice. She leaves, willingly, with Hades to go live in the Underworld – which completely throws the rest of the world out of whack and rhythm. See, when Demeter gets angry or upset, the grass doesn’t grow. There is no harvest. The ground becomes dry. And it becomes cold outside. It isn’t warm and beautiful and green outside anymore. This, friends, is the story of when the seasons began to change.

Demeter is written as a way-overprotective mother that is sick with worry after Persephone disappears with Hades. She has no idea where her daughter has gone, so she simply ceases to do the things she needs to do – she’s basically grieving. And grieving for Demeter means that farmers have no harvest and the world’s food supply runs low. Naturally, Zeus takes notice and decides that things can’t go on like this. He decides to help her find Persephone and everyone – everyone – is shocked to learn that Persephone left of her own free will. After all, that Hades is such a shady character, right?

You guys, this story was so much fun for me! I was already very familiar with this myth, so when I started the book I could let myself really enjoy it. Honestly, though, even if you’re not too familiar with this myth, there is sufficient information provided in the summary to give you enough background so that it makes sense. Dead Beautiful is told in alternating POV’s from the key players in the classic myth, and well-placed alternating perspectives are something I always enjoy – each POV is another vantage-point into the chaos that was happening while Persephone and Hades were oblivious and having their good ole’ time in the Underworld.

Dead Beautiful is short and fun. It would be a blast for others out there like me that love mythology. Also, I’m pretty sure there is a Mythology Challenge floating around out there, so if you are participating, perhaps you should consider Dead Beautiful as an option for one of the books you read. It is more than just a re-telling; it is an entirely different version or perspective on this fun and popular story.

Dead Beautiful will appeal to fans of:

Mythology/Mythology Re-Tellings
Alternating Points-of-View

Dead Beautiful by Melanie Dugan
is currently available for purchase.

**I received a review copy from the author in exchange for an honest opinion and review. I received no compensation for my thoughts. Thank you Melanie and TLC Book Tours!

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Thanks to the generosity of Melanie Dugan,
I am able to offer a copy of DEAD BEAUTIFUL
to ONE LUCKY WINNER!
(International!)

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Be sure to check out the rest of the tour stops
by clicking HERE.
(There may be giveaways at other stops!)



Good Luck! 


Saturday, May 19, 2012

In My Mailbox {20}

Click HERE to win a copy of SOUND OF THE HEART by Genevieve Graham
(ends midnight 5/31/12 EST)


Hosted by Kristi @ The Story Siren

In My Mailbox is a weekly event hosted by Kristi over at The Story Siren. She uses this time to tell about the books she receives each week either to review, from the library, or from a purchase. Kristi is kind enough to let us all in on her fun and here is my little piece of that!

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For Review:


Heading Out to Wonderful by Robert Goolrick

You guys - I’m a gushing, raving, lunatic Robert Goolrick fan.
When this came in the mail, I acted like a crazy person.
I absolutely LOVED A Reliable Wife.

I have been reading this one, slowly.
It is – so far – amazing.
(HELLO, pretty cover too!)

Thank you so much Algonquin Books of Chapel Hill!


Unlovable (Port Fare #1) by Sherry Gammon
Dead Beautiful by Melanie Dugan

I read Unlovable a while back and loved it.
I can’t wait for the second book, Unbelievable.
Yay for bookmark swag!

I’m reading Dead Beautiful right now.
I am a sucker for mythology re-tellings and this one
is a take on the Persephone/Hades myth.
(I have an extra copy to give away!)

Thank you Sherry and Melanie!


The Girl Below by Bianca Zander
Unraveling by Elizabeth Norris

The Girl Below looks neat and has a pretty cover!

The awesome Lisa the Nerd allowed me to
borrow Unraveling. Three cheers for Lisa
and awesome friends!!!

Thank you William Morrow!
Also Thank you Lisa for being AWESOME.


NetGalley Titles:


Transcendence by C.J. Omololu
Dead Reckoning by Mercedes Lackey & Rosemary Edghill

Thank you Bloomsbury & Walker BYR!


Thank you Harlequin Teen!


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Have you read any of these books?
Is there anything you’re interested in reading?
Loved? Didn’t love?

Tell me! I want to know!


Friday, May 18, 2012

Let’s Talk…On Blogging Goals (Or My Lack Thereof)


Click here to see Let's Talk!

I'm so excited that Melissa at i swim for oceans likes discussion posts because sometimes I get chatty and have things to say. Melissa has opened her Let's Talk event up to the rest of us and I'm excited to be a part of it. Thank you, Melissa!

This week's question:

What are your top goals as a book blogger?

1. Keep those comments coming…and by that I mean keep visiting other places and leaving my thoughts behind. In the past week or two I’ve been so super darn busy but that has to change, friends. I've neglected my blogger friends and their blogs, but not on purpose! I’ve always tried to keep a but of an organized chaotic schedule about moving around the blogosphere to my favorite places and reading the thoughts everyone puts out there. I need to make sure I keep doing that. Plus…I’ve always always always stressed how important it is to pay it forward and try to visit those who regularly visit you. Gotta get back to that business, you guys. Lately I think I've frequented like only one blog and this is unacceptable to me!

2. Keep talking about books…books I love, books I didn’t love, books I’ve read, books I haven’t read yet…all of them. I started this whole thing to find a place to talk about books, so that is the whole idea behind my little space on the interwebs. I just want active conversation. It doesn’t have to be on the blog – bring it to twitter, I don’t care. Let’s just talk about books or bookish things! Don't be shy.

3. Keep encouraging other bloggers on their goals…everybody needs validation, a pick me up, or an opinion sometimes (but only when they ask for it). It isn’t hard to make someone’s day by telling them you like the new format of their review or their new feature or whatever. Stuff like that means a lot to people!

Honestly…

I am not sure that I really have ever had a list of goals for this blog. It’s always been more of a thing I just like to do, a stress relief, a place to talk to about books. Having a list of anything is pretty much a guarantee that I won’t do it – that’s just how this gal rolls. So I think I’ll stick with what I’ve got and just keep going like I’m going. I’ve been so very fortunate to find some people that I will probably talk to forever, even after this blog is long gone (I will weep when that day comes in the very distant future.). I also know for a fact that I nag coerce make some of you blogging/reading people talk about books with me, but I’m okay with that too because I think you're bookish and you get me. You get me!

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What about you?

If you have a blog, do you have blogging goals?
What are they?



Thursday, May 17, 2012

BLOG TOUR! Sound of the Heart by Genevieve Graham Guest Post + GIVEAWAY!


Sound of the Heart by Genevieve Graham
Published by Berkeley Trade
Publish Date: May 1, 2012
336 Pages
Source: Author/Publisher


Dougal MacDonnell, a fierce warrior from the Highlands of Scotland, is able to hear the thoughts of other men and dream how the future will unfold. Devastated by the loss of his family during the Battle of Culloden in 1746, he fosters a deep hatred for the English. But when Glenna, the love of his life and a Scottish outlaw, is captured and shipped overseas, Dougal is forced to join an English army made of vanquished Scots. Now fighting on the side of his sworn enemies, he embarks on a journey that will take him across the seas to the colonies. There he will risk everything for the chance to find his true love. –(summary from Goodreads)


Today is my stop on the
SOUND OF THE HEART 

by Genevieve Graham Blog Tour
!




I recently fell pretty hard for Dougal MacDonnell when I read Sound of the Heart by Genevieve Graham. This is the second book I’ve read about the MacDonnell brothers and I loved them both so much!

(You can read my thoughts on Under the Same Sky Here)
(You can read my thoughts on Sound of the Heart Here)
Both of these books are by Genevieve Graham and are fabulous!

I’m thrilled that Genevieve Graham has stopped by the blog today to share some of her favorite quotes from Sound of the Heart and to offer you all a chance to win a copy of the book!


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Defining Moments

A book is the culmination of so many things: characters, settings, adventures … but sometimes it’s just a good line or two that grab you, that make the book memorable. It’s hard for me to find specific quotes in my books, because I prefer to think in scenes, but I do have a few favourites.

Near the beginning, Dougal and his new friends are chatting. Dougal has just come to the rescue of two young drummer boys who are being threatened by soldiers. 
1. “Very gallant,” John said. “Oh aye. I’m a real hero.” “Right. Well, then I’ll stay by you. They’ll hit ye first, I reckon.” “Ye’re a smarter fellow than ye let on, sir,” Dougal replied.
After Culloden, Dougal and hundreds of others were taken as P.O.W.s. A law was passed which made tartan, bagpipes, Scottish dancing—most of the things which identified the Scottish culture as being unique—illegal. The purpose was to take away any possibility of the Scots rising up again. Defeating them mentally and emotionally as well as physically. Dougal and John spoke briefly after they heard of the new law.
2. “So Scotland is gone,” John muttered under his breath. “No, John. She is only in hiding.”
There’s the moment when Dougal and Glenna finally cross the friendship/lover boundary. Glenna’s giving him a lecture on not trying to be someone he’s not.
3. “Do something, Dougal. Do something!” So he kissed her.
… oh, I SO want to share more of that scene, but that’d take the magic away from when you read the book!
Okay. Moving on. When Dougal was arrested halfway through the book, he is offered the unpleasant choice of hanging or joining the English army. The question is asked of him by someone he’d thought he’d never seen again.
4. Dougal frowned. “I ken that voice,” he said softly, trying to remember. Shapes and shadows swirled in his head as he fought to match voice with face. Then the answer came, and Dougal shook his head. “But it belongs to a dead man.” “My friends would argue that,” came the response.
I loved that scene! Now I’ll skip ahead to a couple of scenes with Glenna.

One of the women Glenna gets to know later on in the story is named Aline. She’s a wise but quiet friend. One day, when she sees Glenna can barely handle all the grief within her, she tells her a horrible secret about her own past. Glenna hardly knows what to say. But Aline stops her.
5. A tear slid down Glenna’s cheek. Aline glanced at her, then away, back toward the sea. “I dinna tell ye this to make ye sorry for me, Glenna. But when we are in the black o’ that ship and all the folk around us are sick an’ dyin’ an’ moanin’ for death, I want ye to keep my thought in yer head. Yer man was killed, but ye were not. There is a reason, an’ if ye let them take yer fight from ye, ye’ve let them win, an’ ye’ve lost yer reason.”
Glenna is eventually purchased as a slave by a German family looking for an English teacher for  their brood of eight children. Glenna had to thank Dougal for his endless hours of teaching, the lessons she had pestered him for. Otherwise she would doubtless have lived a much rougher life. So this is just after she’s learned what she’s supposed to do.
6. Once again, Glenna changed identities. To these children, she wasn’t Glenna the Scot or Glenna the prisoner. She was Miss Glenna, the teacher. To their parents, she was Glenna the Servant. All strange new costumes for her to wear, but Glenna had always been a chameleon. Stepping into roles had shaped her life.
This last quote will mean SO much more after you’ve read the book!

Considering the pages and pages of books people read, it is a rare moment when they can remember one particular quote in a book that really “got” them. Can you remember one? If you can, quote it as best you can in your comment below, and fill out the form be entered to win a signed copy of SOUND OF THE HEART!


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Giveaway Information For MY Blog 
  • You must be at least 13 years old to enter. 
  • Deadline for entry is midnight Thursday, May 31, 2012.
  • This contest is open to US/Canada Only. 
  • Following this blog is not required, but appreciated!
  • Winner will be determined by Random.org & then have 48 hours to respond after being contacted. 
  • To Enter, fill out this form: 





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Genevieve is also offering a GRAND PRIZE of one
SIGNED copy of SOUND OF THE HEART
plus a 4-CD set of relaxation CD’s created by her friends
Cori Ashley and Ed Franks.

 

Here’s what Genevieve says about why she chose to give the CD’s away as part of her Grand Prize Pack:
“I'll give you a little insight into why I chose these cds as my prize - I'm NOT saying Sound of the Heart is about relaxing … considering the wild adventures Dougal's in for, I doubt he was too relaxed! But Dougal has a gift, similar to his brother's gift. He can relax his mind and hear the thoughts of other men, but he can also sink into his thoughts and hear the sounds and voices of his loved ones as if they were right there with him. These cds were created to help you escape the stress and craziness of your days. Grab a cup of tea or glass of wine (your preference!), light a candle, maybe slip in to a bubblebath, and listen to the sound of your heart.”

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Good Luck! 

**Be sure to stop by the Blog Tour Page HERE
to see the tour schedule.
Hint: There are giveaways!**

 
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