Saturday, December 31, 2011

EVERY OTHER DAY by Jennifer Lynn Barnes

EVERY OTHER DAY by Jennifer Lynn Barnes
YA Urban Fantasy
336 pages
Available Dec. 27, 2011
Publisher: Egmont USA
Review copy provided by publisher for honest review (via NetGalley)

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.

Positive: Fantastic urban fantasy world. One of my favorite things is when an author takes our world and spins it on its head. Barnes does this exceptionally well, starting with Charles Darwin's famous voyage -- that's when the world twists. Darwin doesn't just formulate the theory of evolution, he also reveals to the world all the creatures people thought mythical. In Kali's time, many of those creatures are considered endangered and protected from killing, making her job all that much tougher.
Positive: Great female characters. Kali, Bethany, and Skylar. All unique and interesting, characters who do not stagnate but grow and develop into amazing people. Kali, despite her repetitive belief that no one would understand her issues (and, unfortunately, that bit got very repetitive), risks her own life for a girl she doesn't even like. Bethany, who starts out as the typical mean girl cheerleader, grows past that stereotype into an admirable young woman. And Skylar. Oh, Skylar. With her joie de vivre and her precognition and her cool family, Skylar is my favorite character by far. Oh, and there's a fantastically evil villainess who strides through the story, doing naughty things in click-y high heels.
Positive: Interesting premise. Kali's unsure of who she is--a seemingly human girl one day and a supernatural killing machine the next. Her father and others are neck-deep in intrigue that involves Kali. Then there's the whole Chupacabra thing which, in this case is a parasite that kills humans but can bond with others (this was a little...odd, especially since Chupacabras are generally known as blood-sucking goat killers but okay).
Wish: A better ending. Unfortunately, the end was a bit too muddled for me. There were explanations and death (one terrible, terrible death) and military types and wow. That, plus the half-baked love story with Zev, who kind of creeped me out--it was just too much. Still, I wasn't disappointed, just confused.
Overall: An excellent addition to any urban fantasy shelf, EVERY OTHER DAY packs  intrigue, action, and some fabulous characters into a well-told story.

Available on Amazon | IndieBound

Friday, December 30, 2011

CINDER by Marissa Meyer

YA Science Fiction (Twisted Fairy Tale)
387 pages
Available Jan. 3, 2012
Review copy provided by publisher via NetGalley
Publisher: Feiwel and Friends

Humans and androids crowd the raucous streets of New Beijing. A deadly plague ravages the population. From space, a ruthless lunar people watch, waiting to make their move. No one knows that Earth’s fate hinges on one girl. . . .

Cinder, a gifted mechanic, is a cyborg. She’s a second-class citizen with a mysterious past, reviled by her stepmother and blamed for her stepsister’s illness. But when her life becomes intertwined with the handsome Prince Kai’s, she suddenly finds herself at the center of an intergalactic struggle, and a forbidden attraction. Caught between duty and freedom, loyalty and betrayal, she must uncover secrets about her past in order to protect her world’s future.

Positive: Cinder. This girl, despite her upbringing and her stepmother's hatred and ill-treatment, has a seriously large heart. She adores her youngest stepsister, she cares for her little robot friend, and she has it in her to care for those who would rather she didn't exist. Because she's got non-human parts, she's considered a second-class citizen and property of her stepmother. 
Positive: The settings. New Beijing isn't a place I'd like to live but it's very cool, incorporating new technologies with the old world, busy marketplaces and a majestic palace. Then there's the moon. Oh yes, my friends, humans colonized the moon and those who live up there are now...different. Changed. They can influence emotions, sway kings and poison minds. Their queen is terrible, a woman who killed all those who could oppose her, one who wants to rule both the sky and the earth. She's fabulously evil.

Positive: The sweet romance. Prince Kai's a bit naive but he's sweet and kind and likes Cinder, though he doesn't know what she is (a cyborg). Cinder's an enigma to him and he's intrigued--just as she's intrigued by him, though she knows she can never really have him as hers. While trying to decode the mysteries swirling around them, they connect and fall for each other.
Wish: That this was a stand-alone. It's not Cinder's fault but there's been such a glut of series started within the last year or so that I just need some stand-alones. Actually, I want a bunch of stand-alones. This wasn't a terrible cliffhanger BUT there were a lot of lines left dangling, and we have to wait a year until the next book in this series of four. Sadness.

Overall: Imaginative, intriguing, and immensely entertaining, CINDER kicks off the new year with a bang.

Thursday, December 29, 2011

DRINK DEEP (Chicagoland Vampires #5) by Chloe Neill

Urban Fantasy (adult)
Series: Chicagoland Vampires #5
Available now (Nov. 2011)
Publisher: New American Library (NAL)
Review copy purchased

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.

When last we left Merit, terrible things had just happened. Terrible. Things that left a huge hole in Merit's life (as well as mine--sob!). While DRINK DEEP picks up where HARD BITTEN left off, it's a lot more empty with this main character's absence. Merit does her best to keep things together around Chicagoland but it's not easy.
There are a lot of politics that come into play in this story as Cadogan House is investigated for mismanagement (what, no respect for the dead? sheesh.) and put on blood rations (who in their right mind does that to vampires? I mean, really.). Without a powerful leader to gainsay these rules and rations, Cadogan House is in bad shape. Then there's the Mayor and the crazy military much trouble for the vampires of Chicago. 

And yet, there's still that hole created by the poof-ing of a major character--a hole only made deeper by the absence of Merit's best friend, Mallory. Of course, technically, she's not gone but she's so distracted by her magical training, that she pretty much abandons Merit (I'm starting to get pretty darned aggravated with Mallory--where's your loyalty, girl?). I had a bit of a hard time with this story mostly because of these losses. After all, as a reader, I'd invested so much getting to know these people, liking them and then they just disappear or turn into completely different people.

Still, despite these gaping wounds, DRINK DEEP is an excellent story. Neill does a fabulous job weaving together all the threads of politics, lies, multiple characters and their plotlines, and magic to create a detailed world that makes you want to dive into it. And, after the interesting way Neill filled up that major hole (eep! Be still my heart!) and the introduction of a whole new partnership for Merit, I can't wait to see where Merit and her entourage head next!

Available on Amazon | IndieBound

Wednesday, December 28, 2011


This Wednesday, I'm Waiting On...

Hardcover, 304 pages
Expected publication: May 22nd 2012
Publisher: Harlequin

In New York City, 1897, life has never been more thrilling - or dangerous.

Sixteen-year-old Finley Jayne and her "straynge band of mysfits" have journeyed from London to America to rescue their friend Jasper, hauled off by bounty hunters. But Jasper is in the clutches of a devious former friend demanding a trade-the dangerous device Jasper stole from him...for the life of the girl Jasper loves.

One false move from Jasper and the strange clockwork collar around Mei's neck tightens. And tightens.

I loved THE GIRL IN THE STEEL CORSET -- creative, fun and a kick-ass heroine and hero. Hope this one follows that same formula!

Waiting On is a meme hosted by Jill at Breaking the Spine.

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Top Ten Books of 2011

Can you believe it's the end of 2011? Next year is 2012, and we're all gonna die (kidding...I hope). I figured I'd finally join in the Top Ten Tuesday fun, hosted by The Broke and The Bookish, especially since it's a wrap-up list.

So many good books this year (though my reading experience this week has kind of sucked. I'm having a hard time finishing books lately. Boo.). Here are my Top Ten Books of 2011 in no particular order:

1) CATCHING JORDAN by Miranda Kenneally (Review here)
YA Contemporary Romance
Jordan is a fantastic character--such a tomboy and very stubborn but so vulnerable and unsure of herself as a date-able girl. A good romance but a better girl-finds-herself story. 

2) SHATTER ME by Tahereh Mafi (Review here)
YA Dystopian
This book left me breathless. Amazingly creative and unexpected, I couldn't put this one down. And are you following Tahereh Mafi on Twitter? She's a hoot!

3) MAKING WAVES by Tawna Fenske (Review here)
Adult Romance
I love this woman, and I love her debut (I bought the ebook for my mom). She's hilarious and her wildly quirky writing makes this story laugh out loud funny.

4) AMPLIFIED by Tara Kelly (Review here)
YA Contemporary
Damn this book for making me cry. I got so involved with these characters, I truly felt their emotions (now that's some good writing!). A great triumph over the odds story.

5) READY PLAYER ONE by Ernest Cline (Review here)
Dystopian (billed as adult but could be YA, since MC is a teen)
As a child of the 80's, my heart belongs to that decade and, most especially, John Hughes. Though it's set far in the future, this story brings back many memories of that quirky decade.

6) LOLA AND THE BOY NEXT DOOR by Stephanie Perkins (Review here)
YA Contemporary Romance
Love Lola, love Cricket, love the reappearance of Anna and Etienne, love the two dads, love-love-love! This woman really knows her way around a romance.

7) THE NAME OF THE STAR by Maureen Johnson (Review here)
YA Paranormal Mystery
This story was not at all what I expected, which I love. When a book can surprise me, lead me down a path that's dark with an end that is shaded in mystery, I'm all in.

8) ANNA DRESSED IN BLOOD by Kendare Blake (Review here)
YA Paranormal Ghost Story
How long has it been since I've read a ghost story that kept me up late at night? Too long. But Anna hit the spot, evoking memories of burrowing under the covers with my flashlight.

9) ENCLAVE by Ann Aguirre (Review here)
YA Post-Apocalyptic/Dystopian
Dark, creepy and filled with ravenous creatures who just want to eat you, this story is definitely a fave of both my students and myself. Death lurks around every corner in this world. 

10) SEAN GRISWOLD'S HEAD by Lindsey Leavitt (Review here)
YA Contemporary Romance
Such a sweet romance, one that builds organically -- no insta-love here.  I don't know exactly why this one hit me so hard but it squeezed my a good way.

I'm actually kind of surprised by all the contemporaries on this list, since I consider myself to be a fantasy/paranormal freak. Go figure. But I'm not so surprised by all the young adult titles on the list; I inhaled young adult books like they were going out of style this year.

What about you? Any surprises? Leave a link so we can compare lists!

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Happy Holidays to all of you!

Fiona and her big brother, Finnegan, wait (somewhat) patiently to open their presents.
Hope everyone has a fabulous and 
restful holiday season! 
Merry Christmas from my household to yours!

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Guest Post: Gracie from UNTRACEABLE by S.R. Johannes

Today, I have a special guest: Gracie from UNTRACEABLE by S.R. Johannes (check out my review HERE). This girl is the ultimate Wilderness Girl, able to scale tall mountains with only a compass and a stick of chewing gum (okay, maybe I overstated it a bit), and the girl who you want giving you tips on how to survive in the wilderness. So, without further ado, here's Gracie!
Grace’s wilderness tips

Grace, from Untraceable, is here to share some basic tips in the wilderness.

“Don’t go.” Grace giggles. “Just kidding. If you are going hiking and camping, there are a few things you can do to be safe.”

1) Plan where you are going and tell someone where you are going. Leave a map and instructions on how long you plan to be gone and what to do if you don’t come back in time.
2) Check the weather and plan accordingly. Don’t test nature – she will always win.
3) Get the right clothing and shoes. (Converse are NOT the best hiking shoes.)
4) If you don’t have to, don’t hike alone. (Though I do not follow that rule.)
5) Pack the right gear – always take a knife, first aid kit, map, compass, water, food, matches, flashlight, batteries, and a tarp of some kind that is a bright color. (Moonpies are a great snack.)
6) Always walk loudly so animals hear you. You don’t want to surprise a bear. Trust me on that one.
7) If you come upon a wild animal, don’t run.
8) If you get lost, don’t keep walking. Sit down and don’t panic.
9) Make sure you are not allergic to trees or leaves. If you are, stay home.
10) Whatever happens, don’t freak out. That can put you in a more dangerous situation when you are not thinking straight.

Hope that helps.

See you in the woods. Then again, I’ll see you but you probably won’t know I’m there.

Unless I want you to...

S.R. Johannes lives in Atlanta Georgia with her dog, British-accented husband, and the huge imaginations of their little prince and princess, which she hopes- someday- will change the world. After earning an MBA and working in corporate America, S.R. Johannes traded in her expensive suits, high heels, and corporate lingo for a family, flip-flops, and her love of writing. You can find her hanging out online and visit her at

Contact information:


Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Waiting On...UNDEADLY by Michele Vail

Oh, so many books, so little time! There are so many absolutely amazing books coming out in 2012, I'm drooling just thinking of about it. *happy sigh* And I think I've found one that hasn't gotten much play in the blogosphere but I think it looks pretty good and, from the blurb, sounds like it might be funny, too. 

Sadly, I'm not amazed by the cover. It looks like a lot of others out there and doesn't really stand out. Pensive girl? Check. Swirling hair? Check. Dark background? Check. The lace is an interesting touch but it kind of blends in with the background. Maybe it could do with a shot of color somewhere?
UNDEADLY (The Reaper Diaries #1) by Michele Vail
YA Paranormal
304 pages
Releases February 28th 2012
Published by Harlequin Teen

The day I turned 16, my boyfriend-to-be died. I brought him back to life. Then things got a little weird...

Molly Bartolucci wants to blend in, date hottie Rick and keep her zombie-raising abilities on the down-low. Then the god Anubis chooses her to become a reaper—and she accidentally undoes the work of another reaper, Rath.

Within days, she’s shipped off to the Nekyia Academy, an elite school that trains the best necromancers in the world. And her personal reaping tutor? Rath. Who seems to hate her guts.

Rath will be watching closely to be sure she completes her first assignment-reaping Rick, the boy who should have died. The boy she still wants to be with.

To make matters worse, students at the academy start turning up catatonic, and accusations fly—against Molly. The only way out of this mess? To go through hell. Literally.

So, what are you waiting on?
Waiting on Wednesday is a meme run by Jill at Breaking the Spine.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Hype-Worthy or Not (2)

Contemporaries seem to lose out when it comes to publisher hype--it's the dystopians and paranormals that are getting all the love at the moment. So when the blogosphere buzzes and builds hype all on its own for a couple of contemporaries, we should take notice (I did!). 

YA Contemporary
 288 pages
Available now (Dec. 2011)
Review copy purchased
Publisher: Sourcebooks Fire

What girl doesn't want to be surrounded by gorgeous jocks day in and day out? Jordan Woods isn't just surrounded by hot guys, though - she leads them as the captain and quarterback on her high school football team. They all see her as one of the guys, and that's just fine. As long as she gets her athletic scholarship to a powerhouse university. But now there's a new guy in town who threatens her starring position on the team... and has her suddenly wishing to be seen as more than just a teammate.

Jordan, Jordan, Jordan. Why didn't you get the hype you deserved? Thank goodness for my blogger buds who read, reviewed, and raved about this fantastic book. 

I'm always impressed and amazed by trailblazers, those who go after their dreams full-throttle and, in doing so, pave the way for others to follow in their path. Jordan is definitely a trailblazer, based on real-life girls who followed their dreams and played football, despite the obstacles. Jordan, the quarterback of her winning high school team, is a fabulous character: strong and stubborn, able to hang with the boys and inspire their loyalty yet vulnerable in many ways (definitely not a Mary Sue).  

The love triangle is tangibly painful to read as Jordan falls for the new guy, and her best friend skips from one one-night stand to another. This triangle works for me because it's integral to the plot and because it's realistic that both guys would be interested in her, each for their own reasons. Oh, and the ending...well done. So very well done.

Hype-Worthy? Most definitely. 

YA Contemporary
294 pages
Available now (Oct. 2011)
Review copy purchased
Publisher: Simon Pulse

Now is not the time for Carmen to fall in love. And Jeremy is hands-down the wrong guy for her to fall for. He is infuriating, arrogant, and the only person who can stand in the way of Carmen getting the one thing she wants most: to win the prestigious Guarneri competition. Carmen's whole life is violin, and until she met Jeremy, her whole focus was winning. But what if Jeremy isn't just hot...what if Jeremy is better?
Carmen knows that kissing Jeremy can't end well, but she just can't stay away. Nobody else understands her--and riles her up--like he does. Still, she can't trust him with her biggest secret: She is so desperate to win she takes anti-anxiety drugs to perform, and what started as an easy fix has become a hungry addiction. Carmen is sick of not feeling anything on stage and even more sick of always doing what she’s told, doing what's expected.
Sometimes, being on top just means you have a long way to fall....

While this book got a bit more hype from its publisher than JORDAN, it also got some seriously rave reviews from book bloggers. And it totally lived up to those reviews. I loved this book. Love, love, loved! Perhaps my adoration of this book comes from my musical background and connection to Carmen as a musician--especially one who got extremely nervous pre-performance (hey, me too! Though I certainly was no virtuoso.). The author's own love of music and musical knowledge rang clearly throughout the story, bringing it to life.

Carmen is great character--a bit damaged, a bit fragile, and quite an amazing talent. Her whole life has been focused on being the absolute best violinist and, right before the biggest performance of her life, she starts to crumble. Cutie-pie Jeremy, her competition, plays no small part in this. Does he really like her or is he just romancing her to distract her from the competition?

I thought I knew where this story was going, how it was going to end but, in a fabulous twist, it didn't end how I expected. And I loved it! VIRTUOSITY definitely ended on a high note. (Sorry, I couldn't resist.)

Hype-Worthy? Holy cow, YES!

Monday, December 19, 2011

UNTRACEABLE by S.R. Johannes

YA Contemporary Thriller
315 pages
Available now (Nov. 2011)
Review copy provided by author for honest review

6 year old Grace has lived in the Smokies all her life, patrolling with her forest ranger father who taught her about wildlife, tracking, and wilderness survival.

When her dad goes missing on a routine patrol, Grace refuses to believe he’s dead and fights the town authorities, tribal officials, and nature to find him.

One day, while out tracking clues, Grace is rescued from danger by Mo, a hot guy with an intoxicating accent and a secret. As her feelings between him and her ex-boyfriend get muddled, Grace travels deep into the wilderness to escape and find her father.

Along the way, Grace learns terrible secrets that sever relationships and lives. Soon she’s enmeshed in a web of conspiracy, deception, and murder. And it’s going to take a lot more than a compass and a motorcycle (named Lucifer) for this kick-butting heroine to save everything she loves.

Positive: The worldbuilding. It's obvious this author knows her woodcraft and knows her woods well. Grace's world, filled with the lush splendor of the forest, is so beautifully wrought, I could practically smell the evergreens and hear the birdsong. I enjoyed the wood lore interspersed throughout the story, and Grace's deep love and connection with the natural world she lives in.

Positive: Grace. She's such an amazing character--brave, bullheaded and stubborn, knowledgeable, caring, smart, and unflinchingly loyal. Grace is a kick-ass forest chick I'd want by my side in the deep dark of the primordial woods.

Wish: That it was a tad bit less gory. I know, I'm usually all for the blood and gore but this involved animals. Grace runs afoul of several bear poachers who do terrible things to one of my favorite animals. I had a very hard time with the parts of this story that involved animals and the bad men who deserve the same treatment they gave the bears.

Wish: That there wasn't a love triangle. Unfortunately, it's rare I find a love triangle I can get fully behind, and, to me, Grace's entanglement with her ex, Wyn, worked better as a friendship. When he got jealous because she became involved with the mysterious Mo, I wanted to shake him and tell him to be a supportive friend. Still, both guys are cute and adorable, and I can see how it would be hard for a girl to choose between those tasty morsels. To have such a feast!

Overall: An incredibly fast-paced thriller that left me panting for breath as I chased Grace into the dark clutches of a thick, danger-filled forest.

Friday, December 16, 2011

Slacker Week: Book Covers I'd Like To See

While trolling around the interwebz, I came across these pictures on the CBS news website. I was thinking that some of these would make absolutely amazing book covers -- they're unusual, they're very visceral, and can be manipulated to suit any genre.

Here's the blurb from CBS with handy-dandy links, if you want to look at some of the other 68 pictures:
"Pencil Vs Camera" is an imaginative and fun series by Belgian visual artist Ben Heine that began in 2010. Blending photography and drawings, Heine brings together real photographs with fantastical sketches into a fascinating mixed medium where the artist's hand is always present in the images to represent the connection between viewer, artist and artwork. If you'd like to know more about the artist, you can go to his website by clicking here or visit his Facebook page by clicking here.

Read more:

Aren't they cool? Some people are so creative--it's something simple yet complex at the same time. I love how some are projections of fantasy while others could be what a person's really feeling (like the last one). So many interesting pictures, I had a hard time choosing my favorites but I could see these as possible book covers.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Slacker Week: Amazing College Libraries

It's synchronicity, I tell you. Twitter knows that it's Slacker Week because a Tweep tweeted this link to "The 25 Most Beautiful College Libraries" (and it came out Tuesday! Synchronicity, I swear.). You've got to go check this article out. I don't know if I'd get much studying done in these libraries for all the staring and exploring I'd do.

Anyway, I thought I'd share a couple of my favorites from that collection--though I'd visit any of them anytime. They're awesome.

The Harper Library Reading Room, University of Chicago, Chicago, IL (Had to throw in a gorgeous library from my hometown!)
The University of Coimbra General Library, Coimbra, Portugal
 Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library, Yale University, New Haven, CT
 The Trinity College Library, aka “The Long Room,” Dublin, Ireland
Central Library, University of Technology, Delft, Netherlands
 Last but not least, Old Library, St. John’s College, Cambridge University, Cambridge, UK. This one kind of reminds me of the Ghostbusters library...

Aaaannndd now I want to travel. Stupid beautiful libraries and their enchanting book collections. Anyone up for an "Awesome Libraries" tour around the world?

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Waiting On...GRAVE MERCY by Robin LaFevers

OMG. I'm super-excited about this one. Historical in nature, a kick-ass chick, and dang if she doesn't have a crossbow in her hand (ah! Skyrim strikes again, even invading my TBR pile). Anyway, I've seen this around the blogosphere and get a little twinge of jealously each time I see it...lucky dogs.
YA Historical Paranormal
560 pages
RELEASES: April 3, 2012
Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt

Why be the sheep, when you can be the wolf?

Seventeen-year-old Ismae escapes from the brutality of an arranged marriage into the sanctuary of the convent of St. Mortain, where the sisters still serve the gods of old. Here she learns that the god of Death Himself has blessed her with dangerous gifts—and a violent destiny. If she chooses to stay at the convent, she will be trained as an assassin and serve as a handmaiden to Death. To claim her new life, she must destroy the lives of others. 

Ismae’s most important assignment takes her straight into the high court of Brittany—where she finds herself woefully under prepared—not only for the deadly games of intrigue and treason, but for the impossible choices she must make. For how can she deliver Death’s vengeance upon a target who, against her will, has stolen her heart?

Ooh, doesn't that sound awesome?
So, what are you waiting on this lovely hump day?

WoW is hosted by Jill at Breaking the Spine

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Slacker Week: Book Shelves

In honor of my slacker-ness, I'm having a slacker week (notice the Tuesday start. Yep. I'm slackin' all the way, baybee).

Today, I thought I'd share some pics of cool shelving ideas. There are so many awesome libraries and bookcases out there and some are so super-cool. (There's a blog I follow who does a "Who said shelving had to be boring" post but I can't remember who it is -- when I remember or if you're out there, let me know so I can link to you!).
Give your books a hug!
From Home Innovation Design
Wouldn't you have loved this in your bedroom when you were a kid?
From Web Urbanist
Hum...wonder what my bookshelves would look like color-coded. Of course, I'd never be able to find anything but that's the price of fashion, right?
From Web Urbanist
*happy sigh* Don't you just love books? And, though I love my Kindle and the ease of e-books, I still love REAL books (for some reason, I don't think of e-books as "real") and displaying them in cool ways. Maybe I'll have to share my bookshelves with you all...a good slacker project, since it's as easy as taking pictures and sharing them.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

IMM: Slacker Edition

First up, the winner of the Holiday Giveaway Hop is...
Congratulations -- I've emailed you. Thank you to everyone who entered.
Second, sorry I've been such a slacker lately! Work is so crazy right now, I have to decompress when I get home (reading or playing Skyrim--though I'll have some great reviews later) and generally fall asleep way too early to get anything accomplished. Just one more week of madness, and I'll be back on track. Hopefully. This is part of the reason I haven't IMMed in a while. I think this is from the last three (four?) weeks...some awesome books I'm super-excited about.

Fi couldn't decide between the next Rachel Morgan book (woot!) and CROSSING JORDAN (which I've read such amazing reviews for, I just had to get it so I can read then add it to my classroom library.). She looks a little freaked out in this picture...not sure why. Maybe there were killer rabbits behind me.

LOSS by Jackie Morse Kessler
FLOORS by Patrick Carman
VIRTUOSITY by Jessica Martinez
ARTICLE 5 by Kristin Simmons

WON (yay--I rarely win anything! Thank you Candace at Candace's Book Blog and author Anne Pfeffer):
LOVING EMILY by Anne Pfeffer
SAY ANYTHING (ah, that ubiquitous boom-box-over-the-head scene. Such a good movie.)

BLOOD BOUND by Rachel Vincent
LEGEND by Marie Lu

My brother's not great with remembering birthdays and such (mine was back in October) but he more than made up for it with a GAME OF THRONES box set--yay!--and a Chicago Bears hoodie--Go Bears!:
(Fi just had to get her fuzzy butt in the picture. Such a diva.)

So, what'd you get in your mailbox?
IMM is hosted by Kristi of The Story Siren.

Friday, December 9, 2011

Teen Review Week: HEAT by Mike Lupica

YA Contemporary (Sports)
240 pages
Available now (April 2006)
Review copy from classroom bookshelf
Publisher: Puffin

Michael Arroyo has a pitching arm that throws serious heat. But his firepower is nothing compared to the heat Michael faces in his day-to-day life. Newly orphaned after his father led the family's escape from Cuba, Michael's only family is his seventeen-year-old brother Carlos. If Social Services hears of their situation, they will be separated in the foster-care system--or worse, sent back to Cuba. Together, the boys carry on alone, dodging bills and anyone who asks too many questions. But then someone wonders how a twelve-year-old boy could possibly throw with as much power as Michael Arroyo throws. With no way to prove his age, no birth certificate, and no parent to fight for his cause, Michael's secret world is blown wide open, and he discovers that family can come from the most unexpected sources.

Have you ever been good at something? I mean REALLY good at something? Well, in this world, particularly in the sports world, a lot of people don't like it when there's someone who's simply the best. And in the world of Michael Arroyo, baseball is the key to his survival--the key to life itself. He's led his Little League team into the playoffs, and on the way up that hard road, he's beaten a lot of good players, which makes a lot of the coaches, mostly fathers of the opposing teams' players, upset and feel the need to file a complaint. They claim Michael Arroyo is too old for Little League baseball. Just goes to show some people would do anything to be number one.

Still, fighting that battle shouldn't be a problem, right? Wrong. Michael lives with his brother, Carlos, and they both hide the secret of their father's death. If any Official were to find out, the brothers would be separated. Oh, and that's not the worst part. It's not so easy to find a birth certificate when it's been left of the boat...from Cuba. 
This was pretty much the perfect book for me. It hooked me right from the introduction. I mean, how can you not read a book about someone named Michael Arroyo? My love of sports and hatred of boring books came together to make this book jump off the classroom shelf. Heat further emphasizes the constant point that nothing is truly impossible and to never give up. You'll be hearing me say the same thing on camera when I'm playing in the World Cup (look for #18). I'm not actually even a baseball fan, and though this book is focused around baseball, it wasn't a problem. In fact, it made the book even better.

Okay, no beating around the bush this time -- just read this book because Daniel says so!

Teen Reviewer Daniel: aka McFlurry Murray, the coolest kid EVER, has a moustachio, and a little bit of chin hair. He kind of needs to shave that moustachio though but he doesn't want to have a baby face. He trims it every other week, and the ladies enjoy stroking the moustachio, which makes scrubs* like his friend Justin jealous. So, if you're just walking around and you see Daniel and you're like, "Wow,  I wanna stroke his moustachio," don't feel weird because the person beside you wants to do it also.

*Teen slang for loosahs/losers/dorks/wannabes/haters

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Teen Review Week: FIRE by Kristin Cashore

YA Fantasy
461 pages
Available now
Review copy from classroom library
Publisher: Dial

It is not a peaceful time in the Dells. The young King Nash clings to his throne while rebel lords in the north and south build armies to unseat him. The mountains and forests are filled with spies and thieves and lawless men.

This is where Fire lives. With a wild, irresistible appearance and hair the color of flame, Fire is the last remaining human monster. Equally hated and adored, she has the unique ability to control minds, but she guards her power, unwilling to steal the secrets of innocent people. Especially when she has so many of her own.

Then Prince Brigan comes to bring her to King City. The royal family needs her help to uncover the plot against the king. Far away from home, Fire begins to realize there's more to her power than she ever dreamed. Her power could save the kingdom.

If only she weren't afraid of becoming the monster her father was.

After finishing this book, I was pleased. Fire was outstanding and exceeded my expectations. Although it is a companion book to Graceling, it still has the same essence of action but shifted more towards romance. In Graceling, you see Katsa with the unique ability of a killer/fighter. In Fire though, Fire has the sometimes dangerous power to control weak minds.

My favorite parts are with the battles with raptor monsters, and the romance scenes spread throughout the novel. Although I extremely enjoyed this book, I wish there was a bit more action and fighting parts.

When it comes to my favorite characters, hands down (and obviously), it's Fire. Between the descriptions of her and the way she just is, no other character in the novel can compare to her. I couldn't stand King Nash, on the other hand. Fire's overwhelming looks and flair is just too much for the young king to handle, and he's constantly trying to kiss and touch her. 

Again, Fire shifted more towards the romantic novel, comparend to the more action/adventure story style of Graceling. All in all, the story is nothing short of amazing.

Teen Reviewer Brandon: I'm pretty much your average, everyday teen boy. I love sports, especially soccer, and I love to play video games. I'm in a military family and every couple of years or so, we move around, which allows me to see more of the United States and make new friends. Seeing that I'm constantly moving, I find it rather easy to make new friends but try to keep ties with the old ones. I've always enjoyed reading action novels (with a hint of romance) when I get the chance. For me, reading brings relaxation and peace and quiet to my rather loud and busy life.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Waiting on...TRUTH by Julia Karr

Kind of blown away by Julia Karr's first novel, XVI (which quickly disappeared from my classroom bookshelf, never to return--usually the sign of a fantastic book that the student just can't part with), I've been looking forward to seeing where she goes with this series. I haven't heard a whole lot of buzz for this one (not sure why...guess it's just one of those things) but it comes out soon!

I like that the cover follows in the same vein as XVI, with the letters looking like they're cut out from the picture of the girl.

YA Dystopian
272 pages
Publisher: Puffin

Nina Oberon’s life has changed enormously in the last few months. When her mother was killed, Nina discovered the truth about her father, the leader of the Resistance. And now she sports the same Governing Council–ordered tattoo of XVI on her wrist that all sixteen-year-old girls have. The one that announces to the world that she is easy prey to predators. But Nina won’t be anyone’s stereotype. And when she joins an organization of girls working within the Resistance, she knows that they can put an end to one of the most terrifying secret programs the GC has ever conceived. Because the truth always comes out...and the consequences can be deadly.

So, what are you waiting on? Anything I need to add to my TBR list? 

Waiting On is a meme hosted by Jill at Breaking the Spine.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Teen Review Week: FORGED BY FIRE by Sharon Draper

YA Contemporary
160 pages
Available now (Jan. 1997)
Review copy from library
Publisher: Simon Pulse

When Gerald was a child he was fascinated by fire. But fire is dangerous and powerful, and tragedy strikes. His substance-addicted mother is taken from him. Then he loses the loving generosity of a favorite aunt. A brutal stepfather with a flaming temper and an evil secret makes his life miserable. The one bright light in Gerald's life is his little half sister, Angel, whom he struggles to protect from her father, Jordan Sparks, who abuses her, and from their mother, whose irresponsible behavior forces Gerald to work hard to keep the family together.

As a teenager, Gerald finds success as a member of the Hazelwood Tigers basketball team, while Angel develops her talents as a dancer. Trouble still haunts them, however, and Gerald learns, painfully, that young friends can die and old enemies must be faced. In the end he must stand up to his stepfather alone in a blazing confrontation.

Where do I start? Forged By Fire is an AMAZING novel. When I first started reading, I could not put this book down. I had my eyes glued to each page, and this book had my full attention until I finished it. It has all the qualities I love in a book which are drama and real-life situations. It's also a story that many teens can relate to. I say this because the novel is mainly about a teen named Gerald and his abusive stepfather.

During the story, Gerald's family really falls apart and he's put through a lot of trials. His Aunt Queen, who he lived with, passed away and, after she dies, Gerald feels as if he has nothing left. Now he's stuck with an abusive stepfather. When he moves in with his mom and stepfather, Gerald meets his younger half-sister, Angel, who he winds up protecting from his stepfather.

I love this book because of the characters and the real-life situations a lot of young girls face. I love how Sharon Draper made a shocking ending and how surprised I was by it. I also love how loving and caring Gerald was when it came down to his little sister. His actions throughout the story were remarkable. Gerald is my favorite character not just because of all he went through but that he kept his head held high throughout. I love how this story is relatable.

Poor Angel--I hated how Angel was abused by her father and all the suffering she went through. I can't imagine this happening, even though I know it does. It's just so sad and emotional!

I think Sharon Draper is an amazing author, and I love all her novels. I recommend this novel to all teens and I guarantee you will enjoy it just like I did.

Teen Reviewer Ashley: I'm fourteen; I love God along with eating, shopping, sports, music, school, dancing, acting, my family, and etc!

Monday, December 5, 2011

Teen Review Week: THE ADVENTURES OF TOM SAWYER by Mark Twain

We're kicking off Teen Review Week with a classic tale...reviewed by one of my favorite reviewers, Daniel (he's got two reviews posting this week -- he's got great voice in his reviews).

YA Classic
282 pages
Available now
Review copy from library
Publisher: Penguin Classics

On the banks of the Mississippi, Tom Sawyer and his friends seek out adventure at every turn. Then one fateful night they witness a murder. The boys swear never to reveal the secret and run away to be pirates and search for hidden treasure. But when Tom gets trapped in a cave with the murderer, can he escape unharmed?

Tomas Sawyer. A saint? No way. A perfect leader? Not a chance. But a hoodlum? I think not. The Adventures of Tom Sawyer is a Mark Twain original at its finest. You, the reader, have the esteemed pleasure to join Tom Sawyer in person and accompany him on all of his greatest adventures in this story. You get to unite with him, Huck Finn, Joe Harper, Aunt Polly, Mary, Becky, Sid, and many others on his remarkable adventures. Adventures that resemble those of pirates, cowboys, robbers, and even Robin Hood. The fun just never ends for this all-out adventurer; it doesn't even end in Sunday School!

With a guy like Tom, the possibilities on how to spend a simple day are endless. Don't be afraid though. As Tom says, "I'll learn ya." He'll teach you all about finding treasures, playing hooky, sneaking around way later than you should, and, of course, playing awesome pranks. Tom's got a way of having a good time.

This book kept me turning its pages. The literary dialect of the people in the story has more of a country Southern twang than where we live, and Twain did a perfect job of displaying what summer life was like way back when slavery still existed. It actually made me wish I didn't have all these electronics so I could kick back like Tom--that's how good a book it was. I can't believe how easy it was for me to feel like I was in the middle of everything. I'm picking up The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn immediately.

I'd like to recommend this book to anyone out there who likes to be taken on a great adventure with a guy like Tom, who will take you on a journey you'll never forget. Don't worry, I'll put in a good word for ya and Tom will make you holler 'nuff!

Teen Reviewer Daniel: aka McFlurry Murray, Daniel knows a good pair of boxers when he sees one, is a proud sponsor of FIFA '11, and, just so you know, when given the choice between option A or B, he'll choose D. He's waiting for you on the soccer field--how long you gonna keep him waiting?