Saturday, December 29, 2012

Cinema Saturday

Radio Rebel
Image Entertainment
June 19, 2012
NR (TV movie/Disney); 89 minutes
with Debby Sarena Parmar & Ryan, Adam DiMarco
info at IMDb/buy on Amazon/Amazon Instant Video

Radio Rebel is a Disney Channel original movie (now available on DVD) based off of Danielle Joseph's debut novel Shrinking Violet -- which I reviewed here.

It's been quite a while since I read Shrinking Violet and from what I do remember Radio Rebel is both quite a bit different, but also has a lot of similarities in the larger aspects of the story. Tere in the book is Tara in the movie and is still the painfully shy (again, the cute, adorable kind of shy) girl who finds an outlet in an unexpected place: being a radio DJ.  Her stepfather, in both places, provides the radio station connection that presents both a fantastic opportunity as well as its own challenges.

Radio Rebel's hit the big time, but along with the positives come the risk of everyone finding out just who Radio Rebel is -- and ending Tara's anonymity -- and a principal who's made Radio Rebel her enemy.

As Tara tries to juggle her dual life, with some on the verge of finding out and bringing everything to an end, can she also deal with her social life and overcome her social life? Enough to talk to the boy she's had a crush on forever?

Radio Rebel is a lot of fun if you've read Shrinking Violet, it's different enough that it's not a straight repeat but it's close enough that it's really enjoyable to see the characters brought to life. If you haven't read the book, it's still a movie that's fun to watch -- really, when are singing boys, mean girls, and learning to be yourself not a recipe for a good time? -- and then you'll have to read the book as well!

While it's definitely a tween-age movie (it was a Disney movie, after all), it's also one of the better ones that easily works for a lot more ages than just the main, targeted range. I'm really glad I remembered that I'd missed this one and that I'd wanted to see it.

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Legend ~ Marie Lu (audio) review

Putnam Juvenile
November 29, 2011
305 pages
add to Goodreads/buy from Book Depo/or Amazon

What was once the western United States is now home to the Republic, a nation perpetually at war with its neighbors. Born into an elite family in one of the Republic’s wealthiest districts, fifteen-year-old June is a prodigy being groomed for success in the Republic’s highest military circles. Born into the slums, fifteen-year-old Day is the country’s most wanted criminal. But his motives may not be as malicious as they seem.

From very different worlds, June and Day have no reason to cross paths—until the day June’s brother, Metias, is murdered and Day becomes the prime suspect. Caught in the ultimate game of cat and mouse, Day is in a race for his family’s survival, while June seeks to avenge Metias’s death. But in a shocking turn of events, the two uncover the truth of what has really brought them together, and the sinister lengths their country will go to keep its secrets.

Full of nonstop action, suspense, and romance, this novel is sure to move readers as much as it thrills.

What was your biggest 'surprise' novel of 2012? The one that gave you something totally other than you were expecting from it? For me it was definitely Legend by Marie Lu -- which may be a bit of a cheat as it was released at the end of November of 2011, but as I read it in 2012, it's counting.

Something I read about Legend prior to its release dissuaded me from reading it when it was first released. Then, since then, I've only remembered that I decided not to read it - not why - and not read it. But a few weeks ago I was looking for a YA audio book I hadn't read/listened to before and came across Legend.

Whatever convinced me not to read it back in 2011? I curse you.

I can't remember the last time I fell in love with a books main character and wished for him to be real. (Even if the fact that he's fifteen makes that thought slightly creepy on my part.) It's likely been since Simone Elkeles' Perfect Chemistry or Carolee Dean's Take Me There that I've loved a male YA character and his relationship/interactions with the other/female main character so much. Day isn't the classic bad boy character, but he's also not a tender wrongly portrayed innocent.

Day and June did seem older than their fifteen years. While June's age was given right away and then some information was given that also, actually, explained her seeming older, Day's age was not (I don't think) given for a bit longer and I thought he was older. In Legend, however their age works - both them being fifteen and them seeming older - quite brilliantly.

Now that we know I LOVE the characters - like I'm madly in love with Day, June has a German shepherd which kind of wins me over on its own but then she's pretty snazz, too - what about the plot? This isn't a novel that forgot about its plot in favor of its characters. There's the Republic with its districts that are separate and not equal, the war, and the how everyone's fate is decided in the Republic. Marie Lu came up with a society for Legend and seems to have thought it out really well.

The story doesn't skimp on the violence but it doesn't add it in where its not necessary (or if its unnecessary it's necessarily unnecessary, if that makes any sense). It may be hard to read about/listen to but it's an important part of the character's tale and moves their story forward.

For how much more we get to see of their world as well more of some characters I heart so madly, I cannot wait for Prodigy's release at the end of January. (So thing that I cursed earlier - about four paragraphs up? Yeah, I kind of want to thank you now because I only have to wait a month now.)

(A small note on the audio book, I love that as the book has two narrators -- Day and June -- the audio book has a separate narrator for each character.)

Rating: 10+/10

Other books you might also enjoy: Take Me There by Carolee Dean, Perfect Chemistry by Simone Elkeles and Article 5 by Kristen Simmons


Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Blood Prophecy ~ Alyxandra Harvey (earc) review

Blood Prophecy (Drake Chronicles #6)
Walker Children's
December 24, 2012 (ebooks)/January 8, 2013 (print)
496 pages
add to Goodreads/buy from Book Depo/or Amazon

Solange Drake has been crowned queen and the ancient prophecy foretelling that a daughter born tot he Drake family - known for only bearing sons - will rule, has been fulfilled. Only, it's not exactly Solange that has come to power. For some time now the young vampire's thoughts and feelings have not been entirely her own, influenced (from inside her own head) by Viola.

The change has been happening to Solange since the change that everyone was aware of, her bloodchange, on her sixteenth birthday. As Viola works to gain full control of Solange and enact her revenge, to split the vampires apart, rather than unit them as Solange wants, will anyone notice it's not really her?

With everyone gathered together for the Blood Moon, things were already testy, but with Solange (or Viola) working to tear them apart, no one is safe. Perhaps, not even Solange.

Blood Prophecy is the conclusion (at least the foll length novel-wise conclusion) to the Drake Chronicles series that started with Hearts at Stake/My Love Lies Bleeding. I was incredibly sad to see this series come to a close as I've loved it from the first book, right on through all of the others (e-novellas included). But I really can't think of a better way for it to have ended.

This last book in the series takes things back full circle with most of the story being form Lucy, Solange's perspectives just as Hearts at Stake was. It's great to see so much of their friendship come out and to see how they've dealt with everything that's been thrown at them (especially in this book and the previous one) and to have it be in the first person.

There are also chapters from, I believe, everyone who has been a narrator/central character in any of the other novels: Nicholas, Kieran, Hunter, etc.  As this book is focused more on a big picture and on ending the series, not as much a single romantic relationship the way previous books were, we get much more from all of the characters. The major relationships are already established, we know who the key characters are (and who makes them - and readers - swoony and who they're likely to punch in the nose).

In this book, we get to see both how those relationships are now and also how everyone works together against a larger foe. Yes, brilliant romances with the pretty Drake boys do make this series effortlessly fun to read, but it's the friendships, the snark, the teamwork that's always there as well that make it perfect.

Pretty boys aren't enough if you don't have a best friend (and excessive amounts of chocolate) to crush on them with and that's why I adore this series. Nicholas and Quinn and Logan are kind of fantastic, but it's Lucy's relationship, the friendship they've had since they were little girls that's withstood the fact that Solange is a vampire and now has Lucy still backing Solange even if she might be looking like she's gone evil-crazy!pants, that brings me into full in love land.

So, thank you Alyxandra Harvey for writing a series that has boys that has boys we can all have crushes on, has some violence when it's necessary (your vampires don't sparkle and I heart that), but also has strong female relationships that don't go wonky when boys are added to the mix.

And yes, my review did diverge a little bit but really, you shouldn't be reading this book yet if you haven't read the previous ones because it's a perfect conclusion. Little things mentioned in the series that could have just been, well, little things mentioned are brought back in this book and you see that they're actually relevant and part of the story. Love when that happens.

I'm sad to see this series go, but not at all sad with how it went.

Rating: 10/10

thank you to NetGalley & Bloomsbury for my digital galley

Friday, December 21, 2012

Cinema, well, Friday

Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Dog Days
20th Century Fox
December 18, 2012
PG; 94 minutes
(with Zachary Gordon, Steve Zahn, Robert Capron, & Devon Bostick)
info on IMDb/Blu-ray & DVD on Amazon/Amazon Instant Video

If you're looking for a fun, family friendly movie to watch this weekend - or next week - one released this week is a good choice: Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Dog Days.

While it will definitely leave you wishing for some summer sunshine (it starts on the last day of school and takes place over summer vacation), it can still be a fun winter-time watch.

The third film in the Wimpy Kid series, after last years Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Rodrick Rules this movie has the same main characters back, Greg and Rodrick and their parents as well as their kid brother, Manny, Greg's friend Rowley, and the girl whose attention he's desperate to get, Holly.

While the previous movie (I have yet to see the first one or read any of the books!) dealt with Greg and Rodrick, their sometimes contentious relationships and their parents trying to bring them close together, Dog Days has a different focus. Looking at all of summer vacation stretching out before him, Greg wants to just stretch out and play video games . . . but that's not exactly the same hope his father has for Greg's summer.

Dog Days looks at Greg (and, less so, Rodrick's) relationship with his father and Frank Heffley's relationship -- and understanding of -- his son. There's a lot of Greg and Rowley's summer fun (which are sometimes more misadventures), as well.

I did enjoy Rodrick Rules more, possibly as the relationship between the two brothers allowed for more humor and general laughs. While absolutely fun, Dog Days seemed to go a bit deeper, with the misunderstanding the father and son had of each other. Though that may not be as apparent to younger viewers.

Diary of a Wimpy Kid; Dog Days seems to be a great addition to this book to (now) film series and has me more interested in the novels -- especially knowing how they came to be (I can't find the video of the discussion/interview I"m thinking of, sorry).


Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Top Ten Tuesday

It's time for Top Ten Tuesday - this week's Top Ten is:
Top Ten Books I Read in 2012

Top Ten Tuesday is hosted by The Broke and the Bookish

These aren't in order, but here are the top 10 books I've read (so far!) in 2012 -- hey, there are still some days left. (Getting this to 10 was really, really hard -- there are two or three books I feel bad for leaving off the list)

In no particular order, here is my Top 10:

  1. Unspoken by Sara Rees Brennan
  2. Something Like Normal by Trish Doller
  3. Beautiful Redemption by Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl
  4. Revived by Cat Patrick
  5. Immortal Rules by Julie Kagawa
  6. Partials by Dan Wells
  7. Wanderlove by Kirsten Hubbard
  8. Article 5 by Kristen Simmons
  9. Timepiece by Myra McEntire
  10. Taken by Storm by Jennifer Lynn Barnes
I chose to link to my reviews (which hopefully express some of why I love these books) in place of attempting to restate it here.

Three of these were Christmas presents, three (I think) I have gotten someone else to read, four I am currently working on getting others to read, five I am so, so, so anxious (and excited) to read the next in the series and two I hate that the series is over but also kind of LOVE how well it was ended at the same time?

(And three of these are standalone books if you don't want series books -- #2, #4, & #7)

That's my Top 10 -- did you make one? Link me to it in the comments!

Friday, December 14, 2012

Video Veneris

Time for this week's book trailer post:

The trailer I'm sharing this week is for Ellen Oh's debut, out January '13 from Harper Teen Prophecy

I love the illustration and the color in this trailer - and the last line (reminiscent of another girl hero - is what hooked me.

Here it is:

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Waiting On Wednesday

(I was sans internet yesterday morning and couldn't tell this to post, so here my Waiting On Wednesday for this week, one day late)
Waiting On Wednesday is hosted by Breaking the Spine

If He Had Been With Me by Laura Nowlin
If He Had Been With Me tells the romantic history of a teen girl and her childhood best friend leading up to his tragic car accident in which the passenger seat was occupied by another girl.
I saw this one as someone else's WOW pick a while ago (Alluring Reads, maybe?).

For one, I LOVE the cover -- the combination of the photo and the font are incredibly evocative. Then you add in that book blurb that's shot but absolutely doesn't need to be any longer. Just that one sentence pulls you in.

It's from Sourceboooks Fire (which has been pretty winning, no?) and comes out April 1, 2013.

Find it on Goodreads

Monday, December 10, 2012

The Diviners ~ Libba Bray (earc) review

The Diviners (The Diviners #1)
Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
September 18, 2012
592 pages
add to Goodreads/buy from Book Depo/or Amazon

Evie O'Neill has been exiled from her boring old hometown and shipped off to the bustling streets of New York City--and she is pos-i-toot-ly thrilled. New York is the city of speakeasies, shopping, and movie palaces! Soon enough, Evie is running with glamorous Ziegfield girls and rakish pickpockets. The only catch is Evie has to live with her Uncle Will, curator of The Museum of American Folklore, Superstition, and the Occult--also known as "The Museum of the Creepy Crawlies."

When a rash of occult-based murders comes to light, Evie and her uncle are right in the thick of the investigation. And through it all, Evie has a secret: a mysterious power that could help catch the killer--if he doesn't catch her first.

Libba Bray has written one of my favorite kinds of historical fiction books: those that are really an experience to read, the ones that really transport you to the time period in which they're set. It's easy to remove computers and iPhones from your pot and say it's set in a certain year, but Libba Bray's really gone all out and put her entire story in 1926 from the characters, to their surroundings, their phrasing, their actions and reactions. From page one, you're right there with them.

Until we're able to travel back in time and really experience different time periods, books like Bray's The Diviners are the next best thing.

As much as I adore the time period and how fully it's implemented, I did still have some trouble getting into The Diviners. There are a lot -- a lot -- of characters introduced in the beginning of the novel. Each with their own story line, most separate from that of the other characters, too.

Once the characters stories started overlapping a bit more and we got more into the action of the story, it worked better for me. I wouldn't take away the introductions, especially knowing that this is a series, they were just slow going for me.

Something did keep the characters' stories and the central plot from completely clicking and being truly amazing for me. I'm not sure if it was that it initially didn't click and so I read the book slower (and not in one go). Which could have lead to a cyclical problem of it not clicking because I wasn't reading it continually but not reading it continually because it wasn't clicking . . . Or if there was just something not there that would have made it click for me.

That said, I still had a great time with this book. The characters were something great -- from Evie who is one of those characters that you want to be real even (especially?) if it means knowing her now as an old woman, to the guys she encounters and her uncle -- and the plot was very inventive. This is actually one book I'm giving as a Christmas gift this year!

I can't wait to see where the second book in this series takes the characters and the story after The Diviners' great ending.

Rating: 8/10

thank you to the publisher and Net Galley for my egalley for review

Saturday, December 8, 2012

Cinema Saturday [Snow White Takes Over]

Cinderella has always been one of my favorite movies - the Disney version with the singing birds, the fairy godmother, the pumpkin carriage and, of course, Jaq and Gus Gus. I love it.

But, lately, Snow White's been giving Cinderella a run for her money . . . Or should I say, crown?

Mirror Mirror was a pretty fantastic re-imagining of the classic tale. In this 2012 film, with Julia Roberts and Lily Collins, Snow White wasn't the weak, helpless young girl waiting on her knight anymore. (See my Cinema Saturday post I did back in June on it.) I loved the movie as well as the fresh spin it put on things while still keeping the key parts of the story we all know so well intact.

It wasn't quite enough to sway me over to loving Snow White the most, though.

Then came Snow White and the Huntsman.

So very different from both Mirror Mirror - which I had wondered about with their releases just a few months apart - and previous Snow White tellings, Snow White and the Huntsman is its own bit of amazing. (See a post I did on it here.)

Like in Mirror Mirror Snow White isn't a helpless girl who is sent away, waits around in an apple induced coma for her prince, is kissed and then lives happily ever after. There's much more to both the story as a whole and Snow White's (played by Kristen Stewart in this movie) character.

Charlize Theron plays the evil queen in SWatH and she's quite evil. Dark, evil and so much fun.

The movie itself is much darker and more adult than Mirror Mirror and, definitely, than the Disney Snow White film. Promo stills of Kristen Stewart really help define the mood for this film and this Snow White.

I love this new brand of fairy tale. The old parts that we love, that have made these such classics that have stuck around and helped them stand the test of time, are still there, with small re-imaginings. Then, the things that were, perhaps, making the stories a bit dated have been altered. While I wouldn't go so far as to call these 'feminist' Snow White stories, they have given the female characters - Snow White and others - more 'oomph.' They're stronger, tougher characters, less in need of a prince to save them. They're not the damsel in distress throughout the whole store, yet it still works as a great fairytale.

Between Mirror Mirror and Snow White and the Huntsman, Snow White's gotten herself some great modern day advocates and you should really check out either one or both of these films!

Friday, December 7, 2012

The Farm ~ Emily McKay review + giveaway

The first book in, what looks to be, a promising new paranormal-slash-vampire series was released earlier this week: The Farm by Emily McKay - and after a quick review I have a giveaway (thank you Penguin!).

The Farm (The Farm #1)
Berkley Trade
December 4, 2012
420 pages
add to Goodreads/add to Book Depo/or Amazon

Life was different in the Before: before vampires began devouring humans in a swarm across America; before the surviving young people were rounded up and quarantined. These days, we know what those quarantines are—holding pens where human blood is turned into more food for the undead monsters, known as Ticks. Surrounded by electrical fences, most kids try to survive the Farms by turning on each other…

And when trust is a thing of the past, escape is nearly impossible.

Lily and her twin sister Mel have a plan. Though Mel can barely communicate, her autism helps her notice things no one else notices—like the portion of electrical fence that gets turned off every night. Getting across won’t be easy, but as Lily gathers what they need to escape, a familiar face appears out of nowhere, offering to help…

Carter was a schoolmate of Lily’s in the Before. Managing to evade capture until now, he has valuable knowledge of the outside world. But like everyone on the Farm, Carter has his own agenda, and he knows that behind the Ticks is an even more dangerous threat to the human race...
As with The Immortal Rules, Black City and The Hunt, I love the new take that The Farm gives us on vampires - or undead, blood drinking monsters, to be more precise. The Ticks in Emily McKay's novel are quite unlike anything I've read about before, as is the world in which Lily and Mel are living.

We get a great picture of the Farm where they live (which may be what was Austin College). It would have been nice to have some of the terminology explained more or sooner. Words, though, were not as big a part of the story as how the things worked and what had happened to the U.S. after the Ticks infested the country. McKay paints a great picture of that.

Lily happens to remind me a bit of one of my friends a little bit -- but in the same way that Claire from the Morganville Vampires series and a few other female YA characters (that I can't remember at the moment) do. It may be the tough, resilient, on their own personalities and I just view them as similar. Or stronger, female characters in (not contemporary) YA reads may be having quite a few similarities - at least in the books I read. (It's not really a problem nor do I think they seem like carbon copies, just reminiscent and worth noting.)

 Lily's twin sister Mel being autistic (and some of the chapters being told by her) added an interesting element to the story. I thought we learned interesting things about the characters and the plot from Mel's chapters as well as how characters interacted with Mel and things she said in other chapters.

The Farm has a good but slightly slow start but after that it really gets going. Once the action - and suspense - pick up, it's definitely hard to put this one down and you'll be wanting to read just that little bit more . . . and more.

Rating: 8/10

thank you to Penguin for my copy for review & for making the giveaway possible

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Beasts of the Southern Wild

Do you ever get really excited about a movie . . . only to not have the chance to see it?  (For whatever reason.)

Then you kind of forget about it.

Some months pass.

Then you see a new Blu-ray/DVD release and Wait-a-minute! That’s the movie.

Does that ever happen? Well, it happened to me with Beasts of the Southern Wild and I’m guessing it might happen to some of you as well.

About Beasts of the Southern Wild:
Faced with both her hot-tempered father's fading health and melting ice-caps that flood her ramshackle bayou community and unleash ancient aurochs, six-year-old Hushpuppy must learn the ways of courage and love.

It was released to theatres in the summer (July) of 2012 and stars Quvenzhan√© Wallis as Huspuppy who got the role when she was only 5 and there’s already talk of her winning awards for it.

If you’d like to see more about the film you can check out this fun flipbook that has quotes (read by Hushpuppy), images and the DVD trailer. (Or you can always see IMDb or buy on Amazon.)

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

The Believing Game ~ Eireann Corrigan (earc) review

The Believing Game
December 4, 2012
320 pages
add to Goodreads/buy from Book Depo/or Amazon

A private academy. A cult leader. A girl caught in the middle.

After Greer's caught shoplifting (again) she's sent to McCracken Hill. Part boarding school, part rehab, McCracken Hill is home to troubled teens with a plethora of issues from alcohol and/or drug dependency to eating disorders to Greer's shoplifting habit.

The school's high regimented operation doesn't please Greer and she's ready to be out of there -- until she meets Addison. Addison Bradley, charming and handsome appears to have McCracken Hill and the process more figured out than Greer does and soon is introducing her to his mentor, Joshua.

Despite a ban on relationships, Addison and Greer soon seem captivated with each other.

There's only one problem. The closer she gets to Addison, the more Greer starts to question Joshua and not only his presence in Addison's life but his influence. How did Joshua become such a key part of Addison's life? The more and the harder Greer tries to find out, the more trouble she uncovers. Greer'll find out that as strange as it seemed to be in their circle, it's scarier outside it.

Once I was finally able to read The Believing Game (something about the epub did not agree with my computer or ereader and kept freezing and/or shutting down the programs), it was hard to stop! All of the frozen new chapter starts were so frustrating. This is a book that pulls you in and you really just want to keep reading it regardless of what else you may have to do.

Some stories make a reader uncomfortable inadvertently. Either the characters actions or the way things as a whole unfold is just wrong but it never comes across as intentional or purposeful. Other times, you know it's what was meant but that intention ruins it. In The Believing Game I believe completely that Eireann Corrigan meant for things to be incredibly uncomfortable -- for some of the characters and readers, alike -- and it is.

Even though I couldn't stop reading The Believing Game (except for when the app/program stopped it for me), a tiny part of me wanted to just to have a break from the feeling that was created being a part of everything with these characters (really one in particular) after a while. To have one character make me feel that ill at ease, while the story continues to still, paradoxically, be so hard to put down, is a brilliant accomplishment.

The Believing Game is something that I saw on NetGalley and knew I had to request and I'm not at all sorry I did, at all. It's a fantastic read with fantastically crafted characters.

It is a YA read but some of the content, phrasing, etc may not be quite suitable for younger YA readers.

Rating: 9/10

huge thank you to NetGalley and the publisher for my e-galley

Waiting on Wednesday

Time for this week's Waiting on Wednesday . . .
Waiting On Wednesday is hosted by Breaking the Spine

This week the book I'm waiting on is:

The S-Word by Chelsea Pitcher
First it was SLUT scribbled all over Lizzie Hart’s locker.

But one week after Lizzie kills herself, SUICIDE SLUT replaces it—in Lizzie's looping scrawl.

Lizzie’s reputation is destroyed when she's caught in bed with her best friend’s boyfriend on prom night. With the whole school turned against her, and Angie not speaking to her, Lizzie takes her own life. But someone isn’t letting her go quietly. As graffiti and photocopies of Lizzie’s diary plaster the school, Angie begins a relentless investigation into who, exactly, made Lizzie feel she didn’t deserve to keep living. And while she claims she simply wants to punish Lizzie’s tormentors, Angie's own anguish over abandoning her best friend will drive her deep into the dark, twisted side of Verity High—and she might not be able to pull herself back out.

Debut author Chelsea Pitcher daringly depicts the harsh reality of modern high schools, where one bad decision can ruin a reputation, and one cruel word can ruin a life. Angie’s quest for the truth behind Lizzie’s suicide is addictive and thrilling, and her razor-sharp wit and fierce sleuthing skills makes her impossible not to root for—even when it becomes clear that both avenging Lizzie and avoiding self-destruction might not be possible.
The S-Word will be out May 7, 2013 from Gallery Books - find it on Goodreads

What's your pick this week? Leave me a link.

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Top 10 Tuesday

It's time for Top Ten Tuesday - this week's Top Ten is:
Top Ten Books I Wouldn't Mind Santa Bringing Me

Top Ten Tuesday is hosted by The Broke and the Bookish

  • Dualed by Elsie Chapman
    Sure, it's not out until February but Santa has sway, right? And I really cannot wait to read this one. (I could easily fill this with more than nine more not out yet books that I also want, but I'm going to limit it to just this one.)
  • Underwater Dogs by Seth Casteel
    I dare you to look at this book in a bookstore and not want it (so long as you like dogs, I suppose). It's full of adorable dogs . . . underwater ones.
  • The Friday Society by Adrienne Kress
    Don't you love the cover of this one? Plus:  "An action-packed tale of gowns, guys, guns –and the heroines who use them all"? Love it.
  • Black City by Elizabeth Richards
    Yes, I read and reviewed this, but I had a giveaway for my arc copy and really wouldn't mind owning a copy for myself as it's a rather brilliant book!
  • The Evolution of Mara Dyer by Michelle Hodkin
    Full disclosure, I'm the last person (am I?) who hasn't finished The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer but I still really wouldn't mind having this sequel.
  • Touching the Surface by Kimberly Sabatini
    I love the sound of the plot of this one as well as the cover but haven't gotten to read it yet.
  • This is Not a Drill by Beck McDowell
    I found out about this one right after reading Heather Gudenkauf's latest which deals with a gunman in a school. I like that the plot is similar in just the most basic sense, yet this one has teen main characters with their own slight drama.
  • Forget Me Not by Carolee Dean
    I loved, loved her previous book Take Me There and adore the synopsis of this one - I really want to read it soon.
  • Life is But a Dream by Brian James
    I haven't read this and it's a book my library never bought but it's also a book I've been pretty curious about. Not one I've been curious enough to buy yet, but . . .
  • Dog Diaries 2: Buddy by Kate Klimo
    Okay, technically this one won't be out at Christmas, either but it's out January 8th so it may be. I've read Dog Diaries 1: Ginger (and will have a review soon), but as I have German shepherds and that's the breed dog in this installment, I'm curious about this one.

What books would you not mind Santa (or whomever!) bringing you -- which books do you think I should want? (IF you have a list, link me to it!)

Monday, December 3, 2012

Edge of Black ~ JT Ellison (earc) review

Edge of Black (Dr Samantha Owens #2)
Harlequin MIRA
November 13, 2012
368 pages
add to Goodreads/buy from Book Depo/or Amazon

Dr Samantha Owens has left her old life -- her job at Forensic Medical, her best friend Taylor Jackson, the home she shared with her late husband and their twins -- behind. She's sols her Nashville home, has a new job teaching and somewhere very new, and different to call home every night

Sam's ready to try to move on from the crushing grief -- and guilt -- she feels after losing her husband and young children in the Nashville flood.  Also a part of her new life in Washington DC: Xander Whitfield, whom she met in A Deeper Darkness and who was a catalyst for her move.

Sam's just getting into her new life when an unknown pathogen is released in the Washington Metro. Soon three people are dead and Sam is called in to consult.

With the FBI and Homeland Security a part of the case, it's Sam, Xander and Fletcher who are soon uncovering parts of the case that make it a very interesting one indeed. And definitely not what they expected.

After reading the Taylor Jackson series and already knowing Sam, I was really hurting for her in A Deeper Darkness and all of the pain she was in, still feeling so much guilt and sorrow over losing not only her husband but also both of her children. So soon after losing another child, as well.

Though I was a bit sorry knowing she wouldn't be back in Nashville for this second installment in the series, after reading it, I couldn't support the decision more fully.

The things I loved in the first book about Sam having her own series: getting to see her sine, seeing those attributes of hers (her whit, her intelligence, her love and loyalty) as the main focus were even stronger in this book. Now that we've been properly introduced to Sam with the first book, we really get to see her work and be a great character.

Both Xander and Fletch are back in pretty big supporting roles, the two other main characters next to Sam, in Edge of Black. I loved them both in A Deeper Darkness and I love them here. Nocek is back as well and just as quirky as before, I'm glad he's still a part of the story.

It's only two books in but I think I like this series even better than the Taylor Jackson series. The characters here each have their own great background which we didn't get as much of with the previous series and I do love my 'character' books. We also get a good bit of Xander's life in this series and it's fun to see where he comes from and know who he is.  Then to see how he works with and connects with Sam. On the surface they seem like they'd be contradictory characters, but they have something that really does work.

That's all on top of the great plots that Ellison has created. They're not your run of the mill mystery or thriller plots and even the ones that seem to start more simple or predictable definitely don't play out that way. That the characters backgrounds as well as the setting are used is even better.

I'm looking forward to more from this series and this author.


thank you to the publisher and NetGalley for my advance galley

Saturday, December 1, 2012

Cinema Saturday [Ice Age: Continental Drift]

Ice Age: Continental Drift (#4)
20th Century Fox
December 11; 2012
88 minutes; PG
info at IMDb/buy on Amazon: 3D Combo Pack/Blu-ray/DVD/Instant Video
(with John Leguizamo, Denis Leary, Ray Romano & Queen Latifah)

Ice Age: Continental Drift is the fourth movie in the Ice Age series/franchise, it follows 2002's Ice Age, 2006's Ice Age: The Meltdown and 2009's Ice Age: Dawn of the Dinosaurs.

Manny, Diego, and Sid embark upon another adventure after their continent is set adrift. Using an iceberg as a ship, they encounter sea creatures and battle pirates as they explore a new world.
(Synopsis from IMDb)

The movie does pick up with the same group of characters that have been introduced and whose relationships have grown over the previous movies: Manny, Diego, Sid, Ellie and, of course, Scrat and his acorn. It also introduces a lot of new characters voiced by some great talents including Wanda Sykes, Heather Morris, Jennifer Lopez, Nicki Minaj, and Aziz Ansari.

Though it's the fourth movie, you don't have to be caught up in the story line to know what's happening in Continental Drift it's a pretty standalone movie. If you do want to know what has happened in the previous movies, or just want a refresher, there's available on the special features. About ten minutes long, 'Ice Age: The Story So Far' is just that, the story so far and gives you a basic rundown of what's happened prior to Continental Drift.

The additions (if not influx) of new characters in this installment was great. The main characters already established in the series were separated for a lot of the film and the new characters were not only good for the story, they were interesting additions.

The pirates did remind me of a certain other, live action, human portrayed pirate movie . . . but I rather liked that. And any time you have animals (literal ones) as pirates and it's working? It's all good.

Ice Age: Continental Drift did lack some of the subtle, hidden humor, some of the jokes that are funny to adults only/more so that movies like Shrek, etc are doing so well. It was funny and it was fun, but not incredibly so and not really consistently so, either.

There was more adventure -- with Sid, Manny and Diego on the iceberg, trying to get home -- than humor, but something about it just didn't quite get there for me. It was definitely a good movie and, for sure, not a disappointment for the series and the characters, but not a great movie especially with all of the great animated and kids' movies releasing lately. (So, your opinion may be a bit different if you have a connection to the characters.)

(I do want to mention that while the beginning was more of a setup, I thought it was pretty creative and a great way to establish things, if a faulty history lesson for kids ;))

thank you to Fox & ThinkJam for my copy

Friday, November 30, 2012

A Deeper Darkness ~ JT Ellison

A Deeper Darkness (Dr Samantha Owens #1)
April 17, 2012
400 pages
add to Goodreads/buy from Book Depo/or Amazon

** Review of Book 2 coming next week! **

Dr Samantha Owens the character of focus in JT Ellison's new series, starting with A Deeper Darkness was also one of the characters in her earlier series, the Taylor Jackson series. As Taylor's best friend, Sam appeared quite frequently in the seven books of that series - but now it's time for her to have her own series.

A bit about spoilers/the earlier series: this series really is a fresh start for Sam. Though she appeared in the earlier books - and we know her back story - this is her time to develop her own life, apart from the Taylor Jackson series -- and Taylor.

It's not necessary to read the series to know what's happening in A Deeper Darkness as there's almost no carry over the seven Taylor Jackson books that isn't recapped. It's what happened to Sam in the time between the two books that makes going back and reading the previous series almost reverse spoiler-y. [My reviews for that are here (books 1-4), here (book 5),  and here (book 6 & 7). ]

**Spoilers for Samantha's character below if you plan to read the Taylor Jackson series first **

Dr Samantha Owens has always loved her job as Nashville's forensic examiner. But after the death of her husband and twin children in Nashville's floods, every day is a practice in surviving for Sam.  So long as she keeps working - just not on drowning victims - and doesn't spend time at home, maybe she can escape her guilt.  Someday.

So far, though, nothing's been helping so Sam's only too ready to leave Nashville behind for several days when the mother of her ex-boyfriend, an ex-Army Ranger calls and asks Sam to do a second autopsy. On the surface it looks like Eddie was the victim of a carjacking gone wrong, but his mother doesn't think so. At first Sam thinks she's just humoring the woman, but soon it looks like there's much more involved. Something that might put Sam in danger - or bring her a whole new life. Or both.

It took me a little while to figure out just how the time line in A Deeper Darkness was working. The floods in Nashville were in May of 2010, Where All the Dead Lie, the seventh (and currently last) Taylor Jackson book came out in September of 2011. A Deeper Darkness takes place two years after the floods which were after something that happened in So Close the Hand of Death (book 6, published May 2011).

Confusing, no? What I decided was that there was a bit of never mind when the books came out. All the Taylor Jackson books now took place before May 2010, then Nashville flooded, Sam's husband and twins died, there was two years, then A Deeper Darkness happened/was published. (And maybe no one else needed any of that but as I was not clear on some of it/it never really got explained, it's in the review.)

Though it was not at all necessary to read any of the books in which Sam previously appeared prior to reading this one, I'm glad I did. Glad and kind of sad. Knowing how happy Sam was in the earlier books, the life she had, the family and the friendship, gave m a deeper feeling for the character.

I liked seeing all that Sam's capable of on her own. So much of the focus in the previous books was (understandably) on Taylor, but  we saw glimpses of Sam. Now, after seeing - and hearing - how smart and strong this character is, we get to really experience it. Even if she's been broken by events that happened between the two series, the core of her character is still there and I'm anxious to see what JT Ellison will build her back up to.

When I saw that this was going to be in a new setting, I thought I would spend the whole time missing the old side characters, but I didn't. The new characters are really good. They have their own identities and quirks and I see a lot of potential for them bringing quite a bit to this new series.

As Sam's the main character here and a medical examiner, her focus being forensics, this isn't a police, detective mystery. There are police and detectives and murder and clues. But it's different in that Sam is involved in figuring things out using forensics -- it's kind of like Bones, actually. And I love it.

Rating: 9/10

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Sailor Twain ~ Mark Siegel review

Sailor Twain: Or: The Mermaid in the Hudson
First Second
October 2, 2012
400 pages
add to Goodreads/buy from Book Depo/or Amazon

When Twain, captain of the Lorelei, a river boat travelling the Hudson River, finds an injured mermaid on the deck, Sailor Twain begins -- as does the beginning of a journey Twain never imagined.

Twain isn't seduced by the mermaid as he found her (and not she him) and hasn't heard her song, but he falls under her spell in a different way. Deciding to keep her on board, nurse her back to health, he also decides to keep her a secret. Twain's life becomes increasingly difficult with his new acquaintance and his secret.

Sailor Twain is a story where mermaids are part of fiction - through a reclusive author and their writings - as well as through other characters beliefs and/or possible interactions.

I don't read a lot of graphic novels -- okay, let's be honest, I'd only read the Buffy Season 8 ones already -- but the story of Mark Siegel's Sailor Twain sounded interesting to me when I saw it on Library Thing's Early Reviewer's page. Then I saw that it was an (adult) graphic novel.

But it was about mermaids and something I would have read as a novel sans 'graphic' prefix, so it would be unfair to let the genre stop me.

I think it'd also be unfair to let it stop anyone else who doesn't ordinarily read graphic novels from reading Sailor Twain. Yes, it's a graphic novel, but it's very much not a comic book. It has a pretty complex story line that unravels over it's 400 pages.

The illustrations were very nice. Some were more detailed than others and even though having some drawings left more as line drawings has bothered me before, it worked here.

Sailor Twain is an adult graphic novel. The mermaid is topless throughout the story and there are some 'erotic' scenes/images, content. Overall, however, I wouldn't say it goes past YA (or older YA).

I will say that the ending did not work for me. It seemed rushed and left me feeling like I had missed something - that or as if a character's actions didn't fit/hadn't been worked in enough. Whatever exactly it was, I was expecting a bit *more.*

Rating: 7/10

thank you to the publisher and Library Thing's ER for providing my copy to review

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Waiting on Wednesday

Waiting On Wednesday is hosted by Breaking the Spine

Panic by Sharon M. Draper

This gripping and chillingly realistic novel from New York Times bestselling author Sharon Draper shows that all it takes is one bad decision for everything to change.

Diamond knows not to get into a car with a stranger.

But what if the stranger is well-dressed and handsome? On his way to meet his wife and daughter? And casting a movie that very night—a movie in need of a star dancer? What then?

Then Diamond might make the wrong decision.

It’s a nightmare come true: Diamond Landers has been kidnapped. She was at the mall with a friend, alone for only a few brief minutes—and now she’s being held captive, forced to endure horrors beyond what she ever could have dreamed, while her family and friends experience their own torments and wait desperately for any bit of news.

From New York Times bestselling author Sharon Draper, this is a riveting exploration of power: how quickly we can lose it—and how we can take it back.
out March 12, 2013 from Atheneum Books for Young Readers - and you can find it on Goodreads

Panic doesn't sound like most of the books I read -- or at least the ones I've been reading lately -- but the combination of the title and that cover along with a synopsis that sounds more than intriguing have it definitely added to my to-read list.

What's your pick for this week? Leave me a link, in the comments, to your post/pick!

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Undeadly ~ Michele Vail (earc) review + giveaway

Undeadly (Reaper Diaries #1)
Harlequin Teen
November 20, 2012
272 pages
add to Goodreads/buy from Book Depo/or Amazon

** Giveaway at the end of the post **

Molly Bartolucci lives in a world where the existence of zombies -- and those who can create them -- is known, if not always accepted. Necromancy has been a part of life for so long that its history is taught in public schools and Anubis is the god everyone worships.

Still, living in Las Vegas, soon-to-be-sixteen-year-old Molly only knows a few with the power -- and none that are her friends. All she wants is to blend in, something slightly hard to do while working at Big Al's (her father) Zomporium and about to get a whole lot harder.

A dream featuring Anubis tells Molly she's going to be a reaper, then she meets the mysterious (and perhaps annoying) Rath, her brand new boyfriend almost dies at her birthday party, and people she never expected to see show up with some unwelcome news.

In for a whole new life, Molly's going to find out more about reapers, souls, getting into - and maybe out of - trouble than she ever expected.

Michele Vail's debut novel is a zombie novel, but sort of a zombie-lite novel. By which I mean that the zombies aren't 'grr argggh!' evil, eat your brains zombies. They're still dangerous, will still kill people . . . but they can still be kept almost 'tamed'? (In the first scene with a zombie, I thought a bit of 'Fido,' actually.)

I like this type of zombie for Undeadly. With so much focus on the soul, the reapers, the reanimation, Anubis and how everything works, it would be kind of wacky to have Walking Dead type zombies that people like Molly, our protagonist, were studying to bring back.  A Frankenstein type mob with torches and pitchforks (or common sense) would have stopped them already if they were super-murderous zombies. The almost placid zombies works.

Along with the other beings that are a part of this tale, it makes for a very interesting world that Molly and the other characters are a part of.

There was a lot of introduction and explanation in Undeadly, especially in the beginning, that could, at times, take away a bit from what was happening in the story. While the background did help with understanding Undeadly's world, it didn't always feel like the setup and the plot were working together cohesively. One would distract from the other.

Into the second half of the book, when we've found out the basic 'what's of the necromancy, Molly's party and it's immediate aftermath as well as what that means have happened, things got going better for me. I do think that, as this is the first in a series, there was a lot to tell readers, a lot of building to do, so the second book should flow more smoothly from the start.

Undeadly is probably best suited for upper middle grade or younger YA, young teen readers. Both the story line and the character seem to fit that age range best. Those who enjoyed Marlene Perez's Dead Is series, may want to give this a try.

Rating: 7/10

thank you to Michele Vail for making the giveaway possible and to Harlequin Teen & NetGalley for my review galley

Want to win your own, signed, copy of Undeadly by Michele Vail? Enter below:

Monday, November 26, 2012

34 Pieces of You ~ Carmen Rodrigues review

34 Pieces of You
Simon Pulse
September 4, 2012
336 pages
add to Goodreads/buy from Book Depo/or Amazon

A dark and moving novel—reminiscent of Thirteen Reasons Why—about the mystery surrounding a teenage girl’s fatal overdose.

There was something about Ellie... Something dangerous. Charismatic. Broken. Jake looked out for her. Sarah followed her lead. And Jess kept her distance, and kept watch.

Now Ellie’s dead, and Jake, Sarah, and Jess are left to pick up the pieces. All they have are 34 clues she left behind. 34 strips of paper hidden in a box beneath her bed. 34 secrets of a brief and painful life.

Jake, Sarah, and Jess all feel responsible for what happened to Ellie, and all three have secrets of their own. As they begin to confront the darkest truths about themselves, they will also find out what Ellie herself had been hiding all along...
(synopsis found on Goodreads)

34 Pieces of You was quite a bit different than what I was expecting, but not any less good.  It is reminiscent of Jay Asher's Thirteen Reason's Why, but less emotional and wrenching in many ways. This isn't due to the skill of Rodrigues versus the skill of Asher as a writer, either. The tone that 34 Pieces of You takes is quite different from that of Thirteen Reasons Why.

Despite Ellie being the 'you' in the title, the novel is mainly focused on the other characters - their relationships after Ellie's death -- both with each other and with others -- how Ellie was a part of their lives and impacted them before her death. Ellie's a character in 34 Pieces of You but she is the 'you' not an 'I.'

The narrative moves between the before, the after, the earlier before and the later after, not in a linear fashion. It not only makes for interesting reading but it was really great to see how a character was from the point when everything started (Ellie's death), follow them later, then see how they had been, and then see how they later were as well. I enjoyed it much more then if we had started before Ellie's death, followed through until she died, past that until the end. It made the character development so much better.

I love, love books where characters and their relationships are done well and this is one I adored. It didn't have the emotional impact -- at least until the end, for me -- that I was expecting and the notes were a smaller part than I expected but I that was all okay. It was okay because that wasn't the book this was.

What 34 Pieces of You *was* was a book looking at Sarah, Jake, Jess, and even Tommy and Lola and how Ellie and her death (and life) effected them.  They way that Carmen Rodrigues wove their lives and relationships together was fantastic. Character A might be one thing to Character B but then they were also this other, unexpected thing to Character C -- and, maybe, something small to Character D, too. They were a small group of teenagers, most of whom had spent the last several years growing up together, and the way their lives intersected felt very real and true.

As I said, the book as  whole was not quite as emotional as I was expecting (given the subject matter). There was a particular part, close to the end, however that I really, truly felt connected and I was glad those characters had that moment.

I very much enjoyed 34 Pieces of You and look forward to more from Carmen Rodrigues -- and recommend this one!

Rating: 9/10


Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Waiting on Wednesday

Waiting On Wednesday is hosted by Breaking the Spine

Revolution 19 by Gregg Rosenblum

Twenty years ago, the robots designed to fight our wars abandoned the battlefields. Then they turned their weapons on us.

Only a few escaped the robot revolution of 2071. Kevin, Nick, and Cass are lucky —they live with their parents in a secret human community in the woods. Then their village is detected and wiped out. Hopeful that other survivors have been captured by bots, the teens risk everything to save the only people they have left in the world—by infiltrating a city controlled by their greatest enemies.

Revolution 19 is a cinematic thriller unlike anything else. With a dynamic cast of characters, this surefire blockbuster has everything teen readers want—action, drama, mystery, and romance. Written by debut novelist Gregg Rosenblum, this gripping story shouldn’t be missed.
After reading Robopocalypse by Daniel H Wilson and Partials (and eagerly, eagerly awaiting Fragments) by Dan Wells, I'm super excited after reading this synopsis!

Robots can be so many different things - from the Jetsons to Cybermen (which admittedly are a bit Jetsons-y just, you know, more take-over-the-world-y) to those in I Am Legend. I'm anxious to see how the robots operate (pun not actually intended, but it works) here.

I also really like reading debut author's novels.

Revolution 19 by Gregg Rosenblum will be released January 8, by Harper Teen. Find it on Goodreads

What are you waiting on this week? Link me in the comments!
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