Saturday, December 31, 2011

Cinema Saturday [Another Cinderella Story & The Visitor]

I have two very different movies this week: Another Cinderella Story (with Selena Gomez, Drew Seeley and Jane Lynch) and The Visitor (with Richard Jenkins and Haaz Sleiman).

Here is part of Amazon's description of The Visitor:

A deeply moving drama built around longtime character actor Richard Jenkins, The Visitor is a simmering drama about a college professor and recent widower, Walter Vale (Jenkins), who discovers a pair of homeless, illegal aliens living in his New York apartment. After the mix-up is resolved, Vale invites the couple--a young, Syrian musician named Tarek (Haaz Sleiman) and his Senegalese girlfriend (Danai Gurira--to stay with him. An unlikely friendship develops between the retiring, quiet Vale and the vital Tarek, and the former begins to loosen up and respond to Tarek’s drumming lessons as if something in him waiting to be liberated has finally arrived. 

The Visitor has some great relationships and dynamics that play out between the characters. It wasn't a movie I was that sure I even wanted to see, but I ended up really enjoying it. It's quite different from anything I've seen lately (and possibly ever). It's a slower, more subdued movie - - but one that definitely works that way.

It does, for sure, make a political point with its story, but the rest is so enjoyable, I'm not sure you have to agree to like the movie.

The interactions between the actors were really fantastic and I hope to see some of them in more things.

The music in -- and a part of -- the movie is just great. I love the way that music is worked in and used as another part of the story, how it progresses (as a mirror to Jenkin's character Walter) is great to watch.

The Visitor on IMDb and Amazon (104 mins/PG-13/2007)

The other, much lighter movie I saw this week was Another Cinderella Story. This sequel/really-a sequel to Cinderella Story with Hilary Duff stars 'Wizards of Waverly Place's Selena Gomez, Secret Circle's Jessica Kennedy, High School Musical's Drew Seeley and Glee's Jane Lynch.

While the plot is ever so slightly similar to Cinderella Story - it's also similar to Cinderella and other adaptations of the classic tale.

Here's the summary via IMDB:
A guy who danced with what could be the girl of his dreams at a costume ball only has one hint at her identity: the Zune she left behind as she rushed home in order to make her curfew. And with a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity in front of him, he sets out to find his masked beauty.
Really, any summary that has 'the Zune she left behind' sounds kind of bad, admittedly, but Another Cinderella Story is super cute.

Jane Lynch adds a great bit of comedy to the film - - she's actually a bit similar to her Glee role here as Mary's evil guardian who's also a past-her-prime pop star. (And there's a music video or two.)

You probably have to be a fan of Disney type movies - - like Princess Protection Program or any of the newer tween-targeted ones, to truly love this movie, but fans of teen movies that involve less sex and swearing and drinking, should also have fun watching it.

I, personally, love all dance movies - all the Step Up movies - and, it seems, movies with Selena Gomez so this one was a definite win. Hopefully if you get a chance to watch it, you'll like it, too.

Another Cinderella Story on IMDb and Amazon (92 mins/PG/2008)

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Waiting On Wednesday [Slide]

I'm loving seeing the comments on my The Secret Sisterhood of Heartbreakers Swag giveaway and review post about what late Dec/January books you most want to read (and you can comment on that without entering the giveaway, too)!

In fact, I'm hoping to get Cinder finished and reviewed this week :-)

and now for my Waiting On Wednesday post:

Slide by Jill Hathaway

Vee Bell is certain of one irrefutable truth—her sister’s friend Sophie didn’t kill herself. She was murdered.

Vee knows this because she was there. Everyone believes Vee is narcoleptic, but she doesn’t actually fall asleep during these episodes: When she passes out, she slides into somebody else’s mind and experiences the world through that person’s eyes. She’s slid into her sister as she cheated on a math test, into a teacher sneaking a drink before class. She learned the worst about a supposed “friend” when she slid into her during a school dance. But nothing could have prepared Vee for what happens one October night when she slides into the mind of someone holding a bloody knife, standing over Sophie’s slashed body.

Vee desperately wishes she could share her secret, but who would believe her? It sounds so crazy that she can’t bring herself to tell her best friend, Rollins, let alone the police. Even if she could confide in Rollins, he has been acting off lately, more distant, especially now that she’s been spending more time with Zane.

Enmeshed in a terrifying web of secrets, lies, and danger and with no one to turn to, Vee must find a way to unmask the killer before he or she strikes again.

Really, how does that summary not sound all kids of amaze-balls? After reading Kimberly Derting's Body Finder series, I've really been interested in more YA murder mystery type books and this one has the added element of the main character being a narcoleptic - or, at least, everyone thinking she is.

I LOVE the sound of this one.

It's out March 27, 2012 from Balzer + Bray - a great Harper Collins imprint, you're going to want to read this debut novel!!

On Goodreads and Amazon

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

The Secret Sisterhood of Heartbreakers ~ Lynn Weingarten review + swag giveaway

The Secret Sisterhood of Heartbreakers
Harper Teen
December 27, 2011 (today!)
352 pages
add on Goodreads/buy on Amazon

Lucy Wrenn has her plan for her boyfriend's return all worked out. He's been away all summer, with very little contact between them and she knows just how she's going to greet him . . . Only it doesn't go at all like she had planned. He breaks up with her.

Lucy has no idea how she's going to make it through sophomore year. Until, that is, Olivia, a senior finds her crying her eyes out in the bathroom and hands her a orange silk scarf to dry her eyes on. So begins Lucy's journey to becoming a Heartbreaker.

All she has to do now is meet a boy, make him fall in love with her, and break his heart. All within seven days.

It all sounds impossibly to Lucy, but Olivia and the two magical girls who are her friends, make it sound possibly possible.

Lucy's definitely in for a crazy, unique adventure she never expected.

The Secret Sisterhood of Heartbreakers makes you feel for the main characters, Lucy, right from the first chapter. Her boyfriend breaking up with her really knocks Lucy down - and it needs to for the story, but it also really leaves readers feeling for Lucy.

One of the female secondary characters I never really got a feel for - I don't know if I just couldn't separate her from the others enough? - but I found the other two unique and thought they had their own personalities and added to Lucy's development.

While there were times that it was hard to understand why Lucy wasn't over Alex yet - especially with all that she was doing - you also have to remember that the novel happens over a really short time period. While I would get frustrated with her at times, I'd have to remember it had only been x number of days, so her feelings, really, made sense.

Lucy's friend Tristan was great fun and a terrific addition to the book. He was one of those kinds of best friend characters that you wish had more of a role to play in the story because they really make all of the scenes they are a part of, that much more fun.

The end of the book was probably my favorite part. I had been worried about how certain things were going to go, but the last third or so of the book draws you in the most.


thank you to Harper Teen for my copy of this book for review...

and thanks to Lynn Weingarten I have some temporary tattoos like those in the trailer and some mini swag packs (little 2x3 inch envelopes signed by her with some tattoos and stickers inside) to giveaway (Two winners get a envelope with sticker & tattoos and two get some tattoos). . . Enter below using the Rafflecopter widget :-) Ends 12:01 am EST on the 7th

Book Trailer ~ Switched

I just found out my library has the already published versions of the Trylle Series (really looking forward to reading some ahead of the January 3 release of the revamped first book in the series) . . . what's just as great, I have the trailer to share:

From Amanda Hocking, million-copy bestselling author and internet sensation comes the Trylle series… it all begins with Switched, available everywhere 1.3.12. As a special gift to readers, Switched contains a new, never-before-published bonus story, “The Vittra Attacks,” set in the magical world of the Trylle.

The Trylle series continues with Torn, on-sale 2.28.12, and concludes on 4.24.12 with Ascend.

SWITCHED… at birth:
When Wendy Everly was six years old, her mother was convinced she was a monster and tried to kill her. Eleven years later, Wendy discovers her mother might have been right. She’s not the person she’s always believed herself to be, and her whole life begins to unravel—all because of Finn Holmes.

Finn is a mysterious guy who always seems to be watching her. Every encounter leaves her deeply shaken…though it has more to do with her fierce attraction to him than she’d ever admit. But it isn’t long before he reveals the truth: Wendy is a changeling who was switched at birth—and he’s come to take her home.

Now Wendy’s about to journey to a magical world she never knew existed, one that’s both beautiful and frightening. And where she must leave her old life behind to discover who she’s meant to become…

Here's the Trylle Series' Facebook page and on Goodreads

Monday, December 26, 2011

In My Mailbox Monday

I hope everyone had a wonderful day yesterday - whether it was Christmas for you or just another Sunday!!

Here are the books - and bookish things I got this past week :-)

NetGalley books (no idea why I always forget to include my NetGalley books!):

(as part of Bloomsbury blog tours)

Fracture by Megan Miranda

In Darkness by Nick Lake

from LBYR:

The Statistical Probability of Love at First Sight by Jennifer E Smith

The Queen of Kentucky by Alecia Whitacker

from Harper for review:

Unraveling by Elizabeth Norris (arc) out in April

and from Macmillan/Feiwel & Freinds:

Cinder by Marissa Meyer (arc)

Christmas present books:

The Probability of Miracles by Wendy Wunder

Melody Burning by Whitley Strieber

Kiss of Frost by Jennifer Estep (because I meant Touch of Frost - the first book, but told someone this one . . .oops!)

and I also got a Crossroads 2012 calendar magnet from Jeanne C Stein!

Did you get any good - or even not so good - books this week? I'd love to know :-)

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Glee Celebrates Arts Programs & Brittany Wishes You a Merrry XMas

While it's obvious that books, reading and writing help with education, I firmly believe that music and the arts do as well . . . That's why I"m so thrilled that Glee is doing so much to help school's music and arts programs!

Recently, Jayma Mays and Dot Marie Jones awarded a $10,000 check to one of the winning schools:

GLEE Stars Dot Marie Jones and Jayma Mays Present $10,000 Check to Culver City Middle School Arts Programs on Dec. 16

Los Angeles school is one of 73 national winners of “Glee Give A Note”
$1 million dollar campaign to help save at-risk music and arts programs

WHO: Glee stars Dot Marie Jones and Jayma Mays along with Twentieth Century Fox and the National Association for Music Education (NAfME) presented Culver City Middle School students and educators a check for $10,000 as part of the “Glee Give A Note” competition

WHAT: Culver City Middle School is one of 60 second place winners of the “Glee Give a Note” campaign to receive a $10,000 grant to support the school’s arts programs.  73 schools nationwide will receive grants ranging from $10,000 to $50,000

Students across the country harmonized, boogied and conducted their submissions in video form during an open call for entries that started three months ago.  In October, the eligible entries were posted on and put up for public vote for 30 days to determine the finalists.  A panel composed of NAfME members conducted a final vote to select the winning programs.  The list can be found at
Two-time winner, Glee was nominated for a third consecutive year for a Golden Globe® Award for Best Television Comedy.

Definitely give the website a look - some of the schools have some really great videos!!

Dan Steinberg Photography

(if my computer ever uploads the video, I'll try to post it)

And!! In celebration of today being Christmas Eve and tomorrow being Christmas Day, here are some great e-cards from me - well really, Think Jam and Glee and Brittany! - to you:

Thank you to Think Jam for the info, pics and the ecards (in anticipation of the Glee in Concert DVD)

Friday, December 23, 2011

Ten Things We Did ~ Sarah Mlynowski (arc) review

here is my third broken-computers-that-eat-reviews-are-mean catch-up review:

Ten Things We Did (and Probably Shouldn't Have)
Harper Teen
June 7, 2011
368 pages
add to Goodreads/buy on Amazon
(for a limited time, the ebook is only $0.99 - B&N, Kobo, iTunes, Amazon, sony reader - so really what are you waiting for?*)

2 girls + 3 guys + 1 house – parents = 10 things April and her friends did that they (definitely, maybe, probably) shouldn't have.
When April finds out her Dad and step-mom are moving, she does not want to go. While a lot of teens would also feel that way, not a lot of teens would - successfully - find a way to stay behind sans parents.

With some finagling of the truth and clever emailing, April works out a way to stay in her hometown, with her boyfriend and her friends and live, unsupervised, with her friend Vi for the rest of the school year.

Of course, with two teenagers living alone, trouble most definitely ensues.

Ten Things We Did is one of those novels that once you pick it up, you really just cannot put it down. It is enormously fun to read. It seems like it's just going to be a goofy, crazy book about two girls that get up to a bunch of shenanigans because they have no parents to tell them not to, but there's more to it than that.

They do, absolutely, get up to some really, really crazy stuff. Things that I really don't think some people ever would dream of doing . . . Yet, you either seem to find said things to be amazing ideas (and kind of wish you could do/get away with them) or if you still think they're absurdly insane, you still find the characters doing it to be fun.   Things in Ten Things don't get so crazy that people can't connect with the characters.

Ten Things We Did has heart, though. underneath all the wacky adventures, there are real relationship between the characters. There's something real between April and Vi - as lighthearted as the story is at times. And between the girls and their parents, as well.

All of this on top of the incredibly crush-worthy boys in this book. They, alone, are enough to for you to say thank you for the lack of parental supervision - without it, they would probably have been around a lot less. And they would have been missed.

This book is absolutely worth a read - and with the ebook currently on such a deal, why not buy it? For yourself, for someone else, for yourself and someone else?


On a random-ish note, the girl on the cover makes me think of Minka Kelly (in her Lyla Garrity FNL days) . . . and makes me want to watch Friday Night Lights!

*check out Epic Reads for 9 more books at the special price!

Undercurrent ~ Tricia Rayburn review

here's the second of my broken-computers-that-eat-reviews-are-mean catch-up reviews:

Undercurrent (Siren Trilogy #2)
July 12, 2011
352 pages
add to Goodreads/buy on Amazon

Life is definitely still not back to normal for Vanessa Sands. Still dealing with the death of her older sister Justine (caused by sirens that Vanessa learned of over the past summer), she also now knows just about everything she ever thought she knew about her family is, in fact, a lie.

Her boyfriend Simon - who was there with her through everything, all summer - and her friend Paige are the only one's she thinks she can trust.

But once the school year starts up again and Hawthorne Prep's biggest charmer sets his sights on Vanessa, she needs someone to turn to even more. Suddenly unsure of things with Simon, Vanessa doesn't know what to do . . . and there's one big secret she still hasn't been able to tell him.

And the sirens she thought they'd banished don't seem to be as gone as previously thought. With more than one problem on her hands, Vanessa doesn't know who to turn to - or what to do.

Undercurrent starting at the start of the school year while Siren took place over the summer is fantastic reading-wise. It makes the second book feel very much like it's a continuation of the first and not as much a separate entity - leaving it harder for the reader to connect the two story lines - the way some sequels/series do.

A lot of the beginning of the book focuses on Vanessa and Paige as well as Vanessa and her family - and their coping after Justine's death. At times it almost feels like the siren aspect of the story is taking a backseat to the family and interpersonal and school drama that is going on with and between the characters. Of course, the story is not at all the weaker for any of this because we, as readers, get to know a lot more about the characters and subtly, get to know more about things that we don't even realise we're learning.

Then, just as you decide maybe the siren part of the story isn't as important in Undercurrent as it was in Siren . . bam! there it is in a major - and pretty great, too - way.

The ending of Undercurrent is pretty amazing. It pulls on things from all different parts of the books (little things, big things, things that seemed inconsequential), as wells as some things from Siren. It is a more than satisfactory addition to the Siren trilogy.


Copy received from the publisher for honest review - thank you.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Trial by Fire ~ Jennifer Lynn Barnes (arc) review

I lost several reviews when my computer broke, now that I have time to revisit the books and give them at least close to the reviews that they deserve: here's the first one . ..

Trial by Fire (Raised by Wolves #2)
June 14, 2011
357 pages
add to Goodreads/buy on Amazon

*contains spoilers for Raised by Wolves*

Now the alpha of her own pack, the Cedar Ridge Pack, Bryn is getting used to what it means to be alpha - or what it means to her, at least. Things are different when you're a human tenth grader leading a pack of werewolves - different when you're Bryn.

Everything gets even more complicated when a severely injured teenage boy shows up on Bryn's land. He's not part of their pack . . . nor is he a lone wolf. He's part of another pack and his appearance could bring big trouble to Bryn and the Cedar Ridge Pack. Trouble that it will be up to Bryn, as alpha, to protect the Resiliants and the rest of her pack from.

With Trial by Fire the Raised by Wolves series gets even better.  Readers got to know Bryn and how she, as a human, fit into this world of werewolves, in Raised by Wolves. Now, in the second book, we get to see Bryn as an alpha and her discovering what exactly that means - being just 16 and having to understand what it is to be a human and be an alpha and not ruthless like but still have power and make certain decisions.

The way the relationships from the first novel are expanded and developed was fantastic - especially those between Callum and Bryn & Bryn and Ali. The way Jen Lynn Barnes implements those characters - and their relationships' with Bryn is amazing. They're definitely not typical relationships, but both serve a great purpose for Bryn and also add a lot to the story for the reader.

When reading Trial by Fire it's near impossible to compare it to any other werewolf books - YA or otherwise - because it draws you in so deeply, gets you so immersed in the story, that you can't even remember that there are other werewolf books, let alone what they are.

Jennifer Lynn Barnes is a genius when it comes to her storytelling (possibly in other ways, too - have you read her bio?!). Things come together so well in each of her books/series and yet they're so different from each other. She's an author that I wait with bated breath to see what she'll come up with next.

I love this series and absolutely cannot wait for the next installment, Taken by Storm (and am shamelessly saying now that I will take any opportunity to review it!).


Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Waiting On Wednesday [Touching the Surface]

This week's Waiting On Wednesday book is Touching the Surface by Kimberly Sabatini. Here's the synopsis:

Life altering mistakes are meant to alter lives…

When Elliot dies for the third time, she knows this is her last shot. There are no fourth-timers in this afterlife, so one more chance is all she has to get things right. But before she can move on to her next life, Elliot will be forced to face her past and delve into the painful memories she’d rather keep buried. Memories of people she’s hurt, people she’s betrayed…and people she’s killed.

As she pieces together the mistakes of her past, Elliot must earn the forgiveness of her best friend and reveal the truth about herself to the two boys she loves…even if it means losing them both forever. (via Goodreads)
After including Sabatini's review of What She Left Behind in my WOW last week (when What She Left Behind was one of my picks) and mentioning that Touching the Surface was another book I was excited for, I couldn't not highlight it this week.

Out September 4, 2012 from Simon Pulse, Touching the Surface sounds like a book I would really like. I tend to really like well written books that deal with past-lives/dying several times/the afterlife (it's what drew me to Rebecca Lim's Mercy; Here Lies Bridget). Reading Sabatini's reviews on Goodreads has really drawn me to her writing and how she sees the plot and characters in books. I can't wait to read something that she's created!

Here is the Goodreads page. (Couldn't find an Amazon listing.)

Monday, December 19, 2011

Saving June ~ Hannah Harrington (eARC) review

Saving June
Harlequin Teen
November 22, 2011
336 pages
add to Goodreads/buy on Amazon

Harper Scott's older sister recently - and unexpectedly committed suicide shortly before her high school graduation. . . Just a few more weeks and she would have been June who died in June, Harper thinks. But she didn't make it long. Harper's divorcing parents plan to divide June's ashes.

Harper plans to take them to the only place June ever really wanted to go: California. On a road trip with her best friend Laney and a guy, Jake who has a mysterious connection to June, Harper learns things about herself, June and life.

Saving June is an excellent story with very distinct characters. From Harper to Laney to Jake, each character is most definitely their own and when they're in a group, the novel really comes a live. Each of the characters has their own quirks and traits that make them, them - and different not only from each other but characters in other books.

The road trip of Saving June is, admittedly, not one that everyone reading would want to take. The characters do engage in some activities that are not for everyone. Yet, that's part of what makes it great. Whether you're one of the readers who thinks their trips sounds like the greatest one ever and will spend the book working out way to hide out as a stow-a-way or one who knows right a way it's a trip you would not work out on, it's still a book for you.

Neither Saving June's story nor its characters alienate anyone. Love everything the characters are and do or be incredibly put-off by some of it, it's okay. If you're the latter, you can still enjoy the trip vicariously. Harrington doesn't ask that you be the same as her characters to enjoy her book. The closest I can think to compare it to is I Wanna Be Your Joey Ramone by Stephanie Kuehnert (yet much lighter).

All of that is not even talking about the absolute music love that is in Saving June. It's a great book for someone who's always watching Behind the Music but you want them to read a book - because it's almost Behind the Music in book form but with plot and emotion and greatness. (And playlists in the back!)

Saving June is really unlike any book I've read in a long, long while and I absolutely love that - and it.


read through NetGalley & the publisher - thank you!

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Cinema Saturday [Mr Popper's Penguins]

Mr Popper's Penguins
Twentieth Century Fox
December 6, 2011
94 minutes/PG
info at IMDb/buy on Amazon

Earlier this month, I reviewed the book Mr Popper's Penguins by Florence and Richard Atwater - the review is posted here. Thanks to Fox and Think Jam, I've now had the chance to watch the movie starring Jim Carrey.

At first time movie seems completely different from the children's novel. Here is the summary (via IMDb):

The life of a businessman begins to change after he inherits six penguins, and as he transforms his apartment into a winter wonderland, his professional side starts to unravel.

While the set-up to Mr Popper (Carrey) getting the first penguin is a lot different than the book and the Mr Popper character - his occupation and family life, especially - in general is a lot different as well, things become more similar from there.

The move has definitely updated the plot and made it fit with the current day - as opposed to 1938 when the novel was first published.

The overall feel of the movie does keep with the story the book was telling. It has a great family feel and the idea of the family really working together and triumphing.

It's also incredibly funny. Based on the trailer, I wasn't that sure how funny I would find the film but wanted to see it because of the book, but it's hilarious. It's definitely Jim Carrey-funny. Things are in the movie that would only work with Carry doing them, I don't know if it was done for him to be in the movie or what, but it works really well.

There was also a great supporting cast including Angela Lansbury.

Mr Popper's Penguins is a great film for just about all ages. It's a funny movie without being crass and doesn't rely on inappropriate humor but adults should still find it funny.

With the holidays coming up, Mr Popper's Penguins should make great - and funny - family viewing.

Think Jam provided my copy of this film.

Friday, December 16, 2011

Video Veneris [Dark Eden]

Today's book trailer is Patrick Carmen's Dark Eden:

you can also read/experience Dark Eden online for free for the next 16 days HERE

Dark Eden, an interactive novel - with audio and video as well as the text - was released by HarperTeen on November 1 - here it is on Dark Eden, the publisher's site and Goodreads

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Bleeding Hearts ~ Alyxandra Harvey (eARC) review

Bleeding Hearts (Drake Chronicles #4)
Walker Children's
December 20, 2011
304 pages
add to Goodreads/buy on Amazon

Vampires from all over are descending on the Drakes because of the Blood Moon approaching, for the first time eve Lucy has been banned from the Drake household - for her own safety as Solange gets used to er new . . . existence, and Lucy's cousin Christabel is living with her

Things are definitely different around Violet Hill.

One thing hasn't changed, though. The Drakes still have their enemies.

Enemies who have realized just how much Lucy means to the family. When they attempt to kidnap Lucy and get Christabel by mistake, the entire Drake family is in pursuit . . but Connor especially.

Christabel who doesn't know about vampires and doesn't understand why  she has to stay inside after dark has found her attention to the 'nice' Drake boy. The one who offers to fix her computer.

When she's threatened by Hel-Bar, will he be quick enough to save her?

Arghh! Okay, now that I'm done screaming about the ending of Bleeding Hearts, let's get to how amazingly awesomely fantastic it was. I absolutely love the Drake Chronicles series and Bleeding Hearts just might be my favorite of all of them.

The Drake Chronicles is a fantastic series; it's one of the very few that easily brings your right back into the story and the characters' lives. With so many series, by the time a successive book is released it's near impossible to remember what's happening with the plot and/or the characters, not so with The Drake Chronicles.With this series - and this book in particular - a few well places sentences throughout the beginning bring the reader up to speed and they remember what's happening. It's great.

All the best snark, humor and romance of the earlier three books are present in this book - in spades. Not to mention it's probably the plottiest (not a word, I know, but still very fitting) of all the books in the series. Plot points from all the previous books come to a head in this the fourth book, yet it's not too heavy, either.

Christabel and Connor are near perfect as the romantic leads. Chritabel has her book geekiness and her has his Star Wars, computer, etc geekiness - they're so lovable and fit together so perfectly. It's also great that their traits aren't used as ways to single them out (in a bad way) or exclude them from everyone else. They are different from, say, Lucy or Nicholas or Solange but in Bleeding Hearts it makes them great.

New characters are introduced to this series with each new novel and I love that they're each given their own story line and background, one that expands on the central story of the series. None of the characters seem to pop up out of nowhere or distract from what'a been happening in the series thus far. Kudos to Alyxandra Harvey for continually expanding the Drake's world so well.

The ending did make me want to scream - that or have Blood Moon (the next book in the series) in my hands ready to read - but only in the best way possible.

After the ending of Bleeding Hearts there is a short story (about 50 pages), "Lost Girls," about some of the adult Drake Chronicles characters as teens. It's a glimpse into the characters and how things all started. And will likely leave you wanting a book about some of them at some point, too! (I think "Lost Girls" is in print versions only.)

If you're not reading this series yet, I can't recommend highly enough that you start - like right now and get this book on the 20th!!

Rating: 10+/10

Read thanks to NetGalley and the publisher Bloomsbury - ginormous thank you!!

The Name of the Star ~ Maureen Johnson review

The Name of the Star (Shades of London #1)
Putnam Juvenile
September 29, 2011
372 pages
add on Goodreads/buy on Amazon

When Aurora Devereaux's parents take a job in Bristol, New Orleans teenager Rory decides to attend a London boarding school for her last year of school. Her first day at Wexford, in London's East End is going to be a memorable one for Rory - one with many first: the first in London, the first in a boarding school, etc But it's also going to be a memorable one for many around the world, Londoners, especially, it's the day of the first gruesome crime mimicking Jack the Ripper occurs.

Soon 'Rippermania' has a hold of London - the world, really - and no one is safe, including Rory and her new friends Jazza and Jerome or anyone else at their school located right in the heart of it all. The police have very few clue, either. Until, that is, Rory sees a man one night. A man n one else could see.

Soon, it's not only the police that are interested in what Rory saw that night. A sighting that leaves Rory questioning her own abilities - and maybe even sanity - all while they put her in more danger.

The Name of the Star is different than most of Maureen Johnson's other novels. A bit like Devilish with elements of 13 Little Blue Envelopes mixed in.  (Or maybe a boarding school YA novel with a smidge of Torchwood? Maybe Captain Jack could pop up in a latter book?!)

It's one of the best kinds of books set in boarding schools because readers get the social elements of the setting - the characters living together, eating together, the main character thrown into a situation where they know no one - the fishbowl social setting yet we don't have much classes at all. The academics aren't needed for the plot of The Name of the Star and their absence doesn't detract from anything so not having them really just 'stuck in' was great.

The parts about modern London that were included as well as those about the Jack the Ripper murders of the past really helped the story fell real and truly be 'in' London. Maureen Johnson can really write books that make you want to have a passport and a plane ticket on hand - even when they involve murder.

The way the supernatural played into this book was fantastic. At times it wasn't always clear what was going to be something paranormal and what wasn't. It's great when things aren't obvious right away and unfold for the reader as you read.

This is Shades of London #1 and will leave you waiting for #2.


Look for my review of Alyxandra Harvey's Bleeding Hearts coming soon!

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Waiting On Wednesday

I have three books for my Waiting on Wednesday picks this week - not because I want to read any of them any less than any of the others (or any previous picks), simply because there were too many great books only to pick just one!!

June 12, 2012
336 pages
add it on Goodreads/buy it or add it on Amazon

I don't think there's a synopsis out for this novel but I really don't care. It's the second book in the series, after Hourglass, and that is absolutely, positively enough for me. I need to read it. Right. Now.

What She Left Behind
Simon Pulse
May 1, 2012
256 pages
add on Goodreads/buy on Amazon

"Don’t even think of leaving…I will find you,” he whispered. “Guaranteed.”

Sara and her mom have a plan to finally escape Sara’s abusive father. But when her mom doesn’t show up as expected, Sara’s terrified. Her father says that she’s on a business trip, but Sara knows he’s lying. Her mom is missing—and her dad had something to do with it. Each day that passes, Sara’s more on edge. Her friends know that something’s wrong, but she won’t endanger anyone else with her secret. And with her dad growing increasingly violent, Sara must figure out what happened to her mom before it’s too late…for them both" (via Goodreads)
While reading this would probably have me on pins and needles the entire time, it sounds like an incredibly gripping novel I just can't wait to read - due, not in small part to Kimberly Sabatini's (author of the upcoming Touching the Surface) review of it on Goodreads: "... morbidly beautiful. It is the harsh reality of a less than ideal life, threaded with moments of love and hope." How have-to-read-it does that make it sound? Now, not only can I not wait to read What She Left Behind but I"m even more excited about Touching the Surface!

Lies Beneath
Delacorte Books for Young Readers
June 12, 2012
320 pages (A)/288 pages (G)
add on Goodreads/buy on Amazon

"Calder White lives in the cold, clear waters of Lake Superior, the only brother in a family of murderous mermaids. To survive, Calder and his sisters prey on humans, killing them to absorb their energy. But this summer the underwater clan targets Jason Hancock out of pure revenge. They blame Hancock for their mother's death and have been waiting a long time for him to return to his family's homestead on the lake. Hancock has a fear of water, so to lure him in, Calder sets out to seduce Hancock's daughter, Lily. Easy enough—especially as Calder has lots of practice using his irresistable good looks and charm on ususpecting girls. Only this time Calder screws everything up: he falls for Lily—just as Lily starts to suspect that there's more to the monsters-in-the-lake legends than she ever imagined. And just as his sisters are losing patience with him." (synopsis from Amazon & Goodreads)

First, let's just mention that cover! It has a sort of creepy ethereal quality to it - if that's even a thing. The water and the girl are beautiful but the red does also look a bit like blood. Which brings us to why I really kind of love the sound of this novel: murderous mermaids? Revenge? Then loving screwing everything up? Sounds rather perfect.

(And I am still kind of stuck on the evil mermaids bit. I said when I reviewed Between the Sea and Sky that I hadn't read a lot of mermaid books and I can't think of a better place to change that than with Lies Beneath where they're not the Disney kind of mermaids.)

Those are my picks for today - what are you Waiting On?
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