Thursday, May 31, 2012

Transcendence ~ C.J. Omololu (arc) review

Transcendence (#1)
Walker Children's
June 5, 2012
336 pags
add to Goodreads/buy from Book Depository/or Amazon

Nicole - Cole to everyone but her mother - Ryan has been getting strange feelings as she tours London with her sister. It's as if she already knows what's around the corner - or what used to be. Streets she's never been on feel familiar to her, old buildings hold a sense of déjà vu as well.

This is Cole's first trip to London so she has no explanation for the feelings, either.

Nor does she know why at the Tour of London she's almost overcome with visions of a beheading - and it feels like her own!  When a boy comes to her rescue, Cole hates that someone saw (she's already worried about what these visions and feelings mean) but he's also more than a little cute.

Griffon also seems to already know what happened to Cole. But will she be able to get the answers from him?

And what happens when the visions start getting worse . . . and more frequent?

Maybe Griffon wants to help Cole with what her visions and feelings mean but there are others she'll have to watch out for, as well.

Transcendence is a fast moving tale of past lives and how much of them are brought into the next that mixes romance with danger and will keep you eagerly reading until the very last page. And then waiting for even more!

I've read or started to read several books where past lives and/or reincarnation play into the plot and have to say Transcendence is one of my favorites. I loved that Cole started out with an inkling that something was different about her but not sure just what it was - and not even sure if it was a good thing or not; not sure if it was her sanity or not. That she wasn't someone who just always knew, from birth, that she was the girlfriend of a 1920s gangster , etc., etc. really added to the unraveling of the story.

I also loved her (modern day/present) life and how it worked into things. While she was a cello prodigy, she also wasn't perfect. She's not an idealized character: she has her flaws. Yet, she's also not the character who has nothing going for her until the hero shows up with the explanation of what's happening and suddenly her life has meaning.

Griffon does make Cole a bit swoony, but only in the normal seeming sense. She's an independent character. (Normally I like characters a little less perfect, but I have a bit of a crush on Griffon after reading Transcendence.)

It's nice that the past is worked into the story a bit through flashbacks/visions. It would be nice to see a bit more of it in the next book(s), but really, I love the present that's been created so much that I'll likely love it either way (I just love the different time periods it was suggested could be involved!).

The way the characters' motives get more and more ambiguous towards the end, leaving Cole to really fend for herself is great. It leaves not only Cole second guessing herself, but the readers as well.

There are two scenes in particular that I want to reread to see if there was, on one, more follow up than I remember and, on the other, not the possible inconsistency/not-quite-sense-making that I remember. Other than that, things all came together incredibly well for a novel that had a lot to line up at the end and a lot to work out - though I think some will ultimately be worked out in the next book.

Rating: 9/10

Other books you might like: The Eternal Ones by Kirsten Miller and Hourglass by Myra McEntire

Part of Bloomsbury's Blog Tours!- Thank you to Bridget at Bloomsbury for my copy of the book to review :)

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

The Girl in the Steel Corset ~ Kady Cross review

The Girl in the Steel Corset (The Steampunk Chronicles #1)
May 24, 2011
473 pages
add to Goodreads/buy from Book Depository/or Amazon

"There's a darkness within me something I can't always control.

If you like a girl with a secret side, you're gonna love me..."

There's something special about a book that can fulfill the declaration made on its back (or inside) cover.  Kady Cross' The Girl in the Steel Corset does just that and more.

Finley Jayne, just sixteen, is already convinced that she's a freak and that there's no one else in London - or, likely, the world - like her. After all, no one else has two sides to themselves: one that is their normal everyday self and another that is darker, stronger. One that takes over and does things Finley shouldn't be able to do - shouldn't want to do and leaves her with no real memory of what exactly happens.

Then she finds Griffin King. Their encounter happens quite by accident and Finley is, at first, unsure as to his motives - he's a Duke and she's far from high society, to say the least. But Griffin insists she's one of 'them,' his band of friends and introduces Finley to a whole new world. One where she just may fit in.

The Girl in the Steel Corset just may be the first steampunk book I've read  (Masque of the Red Death had some steampunk elements but . . .) and I loved it. The blend of the Victorian era with the instruments that would normally be considered more modern was brilliant. I loved the way things that could have been too modern for the period - and the story - were brought in but they fit because of the way in which they were presented and/or said to be invented/produced.

The steampunk brought a whole new layer of enjoyment and awesomeness to TGitSC.

The robots could have made it all just too insane but somehow it made it all fit and work even more for me. They weren't using the latest update from some company's server or using someone's wifi to control them, so it actually didn't seem out of place or date. It as an extra thing for Finley and the other characters to have to face.

I was intrigued by Finley from the very beginning. It was great to see all that she learned about herself and all that she gained in this first book in the series. I liked the other characters as well - some quite a bit more than others - but do admit that I liked them more as their relationships grew as the book progressed.

I am hoping the relationship between Finley and Griffin gets more play (or gets deeper) in the second book. I wasn't feeling it as much as I was about every other relationship in the book. Which isn't to say I didn't like it, I just thought the other characters' relationships were stronger, better written.

It's a fantastic book and with The Girl in the Clockwork Collar out today (review soon!) you'll want to read it soon!

Rating: 9/10

Saturday, May 26, 2012

Cinema Saturday

Teen Wolf: Season One
MGM Television
May 22, 2012
12 episodes; 522 minutes (3 discs)
IMDb; DVD; Amazon Instant Video
starring: Tyler Posey, Crytal Reed, Colton Haynes

Developed as a series for MTV by the creator of CBS's Criminal Minds, Teen Wolf is a redo of the 1980s Michael J Fox movie of the same name. The TV series, however, is not a remake of the movie, it only follows the same basic premise: a teenage boy turns into a werewolf and has to deal with it.

In the TV show, which is about to start its second season on June 3rd (in a special premiere after the MTV Movie Awards, regular airings are Mondays, beginning the 4th, at 10/9c), Scott (Tyler Posey) is attacked by a werewolf. The 1985 movie is a comedy, the series more of a drama.

Teen Wolf is very cleverly written. It's almost a shame that it's on MTV because some people might miss have missed it or written it off because of some of MTV's reality programming. Teen Wolf is a teen show but it's less soapy and cheesy just about every CW show on right now. The teenagers don't feel like someone writing teens who can say, do, be the most in 42-ish minutes for maximum effect.  It's definitely an amazing summertime, fun show but it's also, actually, really good.

Allison (Crystal Reed) and her story have an interesting story line that just seems rife for somethign to blow up and become trouble for several someones; Stiles (Dylan O'Brien) is probably my favorites, funniest best friend since Landy Clark (Jesse Plemons) on Friday Night Lights. I think the only character/actor I don't really like is the coach (Orny Adams).

Teen Wolf's werewolves are noticeably less hairy and animal-y than those in other current, popular movies and shows MTV's series aims to keep their werewolves sexy at all times - even when they're not quite human looking or acting.

There is a lot more of the upside to Scott's being bitten, at least at first. The Teen Wolf movie focused on the characters struggle between the benefits and the curse that came alongside them, the TV show does seem to more heavily emphasize the good . . . but that doesn't mean the angst isn't still there.

The CGI in the first episode is pretty bad. It either gets less used and/or better later on though because I didn't take as much note of it. The make-up and stunts were much better - and also seemed to improve as the show progressed.

The filming itself does an excellent job mixing 'horror' with 'teen show,' the long dark shots of isolated locations followed by someone all alone, etc. when things need that edge of creepiness but well bright, well lit places for the daytime, other side of the story scenes. The show really does a great job mixing the werewolf story with Scott trying to be a normal teenager trying to get through high school, get a girlfriend and be on the lacrosse team.

DVD Note:

The DVD is also 'musically altered,' meaning some of the songs on the DVD release are different than those that played during the episodes when they aired. (I know why this happened when they got rights to for broadcast versions of stuff but didn't know about DVD releases, not sure why it happens now when DVDs are basically a given.) While I didn't see the episodes as they aired, the music now seems just great.

It also features an extended season finale!

(Thank you to ThinkJam for my copy of the DVDs.)

Friday, May 25, 2012

Video Veneris

I'm currently reading Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter by Seth Grahame-Smith, the movie version of the novel will be in theaters on June 22nd - and the trailer was just released by Fox.

The book is good (so far) and balancing a history/being an autobiography of Lincoln with easing the existence of vampires in. (It's not some crazy alterna-world so that it seems absurd, so far it's little stories, etc.)

The interesting concept of the book - which I meant to read when it originally came out - plus I love Tim Burton, means I'll definitely want to see this and/or buy/rent it!

What do you think?

Movie trailer:

(at IMDb)

Book trailer
(from Hachette) if you'd curious:

(on Goodreads)

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Breaking Beautiful ~ Jennifer Shaw Wolf review

Breaking Beautiful
Walker Children's
April 24, 2012
354 pages

Allie's small town of Pacific Cliff's is mourning the death of her boyfriend, its golden boy, Trip. Trip died in the accident that sent his truck plunging off the seaside cliff - Allie survived but with no memory of the night or the accident.

Now, as she's recovered enough from her injuries to return to school nearly everyone seems to expect her to miss Trip as much as they do and in the same way. Only, while Allie might not be able to remember the night of the accident - the cotillion dance, the drive afterwards - she does remember the abuse she suffered at the hands of Trip. The abuse seemingly no one knew about.

With a new detective in their sleepy town, there to reopen the investigation into Trip's death, will Allie be able to continue to keep her secrets? And will she ever remember what happened the night of the accident? 

Will she even want to?

Breaking Beautiful is so much more than a story about a girl who can't remember something. Or a girl with secrets. Jennifer Shaw Wolf's debut is full of complex characters - from Allie to her brother Andrew, her childhood friend Blake, even some of the more minor school friends/foes - who have their own complicated pasts and presents that play into their motivation. 

It's a book that doesn't take things lightly and it doesn't let readers into the story lightly. We meet Allie after she's already survived the accident and is struggling with how to remember Trip, her abusive boyfriend who's died rather tragically.

With a military father she's been the new girl all her life, but now they're in her mother's hometown, where everyone knows everyone, something Allie always thought she'd be grateful for. Except that now, with Trip's death, she's seeing the darker side of that. Allie doesn't act the way everyone wants/expects her to and things quickly get very hard for her. The way that Wolf writes this is gripping, painful, and full of tension. While you do, at times, want to tell Allie something to do, there's never a surefire fix.

Her only ray of possible hope is her old friend, Blake. She'd left him behind recently but he seems to still be willing to be there for her. And he was, maybe, the only person in town who didn't love Trip.

Breaking Beautiful's plot packed so much more of a punch (literally and figuratively, I suppose) than I anticipated - I loved it.

A mystery, a romance, as well as a great look at friendship, family relationships and personal struggles, Breaking Beautiful is full of twists and turns right up until the end. You'll feel for the characters - even those you aren't sure have the best intentions - and hope everything turns out okay for all of them.

Rating: 10/10

Other books you might like: Shine by Lauren Myracle and Stay by Deb Caletti 

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Out Today!

There are several DVD/BluRays and books out today . . .

Two BluRay/DVDs that I want to highlight are:

This Means War (IMDb/Amazon)
The spy-caper, almost-love-triangle, rom-com starring Reese Witherspoon, Tom Hardy and Chris Pine.

My post on it is here.


Teen Wolf: Season One (IMDb/Amazon)
The MTV remake/redo of the old Michael J Fox movie into a TV show about a teen who's bitten by a werewolf and has to deal with not only becoming a werewolf, but the enemies it brings him. The show stars Tyler Posey, Dylan O'Brien, and Crystal Reed.

I'll have a post about this on Saturday!

Meanwhile, you can also see the first ten minute of Season Two:

or watch full episodes of Season One online here
(Season Two, episode one airs after the MTV Movie awards June 3 and then episodes air Mondays at 10/9c)

and one of the books out today is:

Unbreak My Heart by Melissa Walker

you can find my review of the book here; and my interview with Melissa here

Teaser Tuesday

Teaser Tuesdays is a weekly bookish meme, hosted by MizB of Should Be Reading.  Anyone can play along! Just do the following:

 • Grab your current read
• Open to a random page
• Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page
• BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn't give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!)
 • Share the title & author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers!

My teaser this week:

A patch of white ahead of me beckons against the gray and green all around me. If I can get to the light I'll be safe.
 - pg 126 Breaking Beautiful by Jennifer Shaw Wolf

(I'm really loving this book!)

What are you reading this week - either link me your Teaser post or tell me in the comments :)

Monday, May 21, 2012

Numbers: Infinity ~ Rachel Ward review

Numbers Book 3: Infinity
Scholastic Inc.
May 1, 2012
256 pages
add to Goodreads/buy from Book Depository/or Amazon

Infinity (or Numbers Book 3: Infinity) the third and final book in the Numbers trilogy by Rachel Ward picks up two years after the second book, Chaos. Adam, Sarah, little Mia and Sarah's two little brothers. Struggling to survive in a world that's now nearly without government, medicine, shelter or anything they were used to just two years ago in 2027 England.

Adam can still see everyone's numbers, see the day they're going to die just by looking into their eyes.

No one's number's ever changed . . . Except for Mia's. She was supposed to die that day in the fire. Only she didn't; his Nan did. She died and Mia lived - lived and has her number now. Adam and Sarah don't know if Nan gave it to her or if . . . something else happened.

And now it looks like there are others out there who want Adam and Mia, want them and their secret and the possibility to live forever it may bring. The Chaos might be over but they danger's still very real.

I started this series by reading Numbers after selecting it at random when ordering some random UK published books to buy (Stolen was another one of them). I absolutely found it by chance, selected it because it sounded amazing and then read it because a) of the sounding amazing and b) I love the cover (I'm still super fond of those UK covers). Rachel Ward and her Numbers trilogy absolutely make the case for going to a bookstore/bookseller website and finding a book you've never heard of that just sounds really intriguing and buying it!

Okay, now onto why Infinity was such a brilliant conclusion to the series: We've moved forward in time a lot from the first book which was about Adam's mum Jem and her ability to see the numbers, the trouble it caused for her and the big, mass death event that she foresaw. While sometimes it's odd to have books jump in time - that one fifteen or so years to book two, this one two years from book two - it feels oddly cohesive with this series.

Numbers and The Chaos both featured big events where a lot of people died - a dramatically large number in The Chaos - there needed to be time between the novels. It allowed the events of each to be dramatic while still being logical and it put the characters in the right mindset for the desired events.

After reading The Chaos I never, ever would have guessed at the plot of Infinity but I adore it massively. It has quite a different feel from the other two books. The world is obviously very different after The Chaos and we get to see just how different in Infinity - we also get to see how those events have affected the people that are still around.

The characters are fantastic this time around (again). We get to see Sarah's strength again. More so as a mother this time as she fights to protect her children - both biological and adopted - against some crazy odds (and people). It's nice to also see a bit of Mia. Though she's only two she is quite a large part of the story. Adam, of course, is a big part of the book - and in some different ways than before  now that his situation is so different having spent two years with Sarah and Mia and the boys and lost his grandmother.

Infinity is a great wrap-up to the series that started with Jem and her secret and now ends with Adam, Mia and Sarah. The world is undeniably changed but Rachel Ward's ability to tell a brilliant story, keep you guessing, and holding on until the very last page is still very much present.

Rating: 10/10


I also asked this on Twitter, but as I'm (oddly) genuinely curious:

What's the checkout limit (for books and/or for everything all together) at your local library?

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Cinema Saturday

This Means War
20th Century Fox
May 22, 2012
97 minutes; PG-13
IMDb page; buy Blu-Ray & DVD; Amazon Instant Video
(starring Reese Witherspoon, Tom Hardy, Chris Pine)

As promised, this week's Cinema Saturday post in on the movie, out on Blu-Ray and DVD this coming Tuesday, May 22nd, This Means War:

Two of the CIA's top operatives - and two best friends - battle it out when they discover they're dating the same girl.

It starts as fun and games between friends, but will it end that way? And is all really fair in love and war?

This Means War is definitely another rom-com. It's not a deep, meaningful love story that's going to move you to tears or inspire sonnets, but it's not trying to. What it will do is make you laugh out loud (on purpose), give you an hour and a half of sexy to look at, and a good story.

Where This Means War beats out other rom-coms for me is in the addition of the (albeit light) bromance between best friends and CIA agents FDR (Chris Pine) and Tuck (Tom Hardy). Their friendship and its (de)evolution is as much a part of the story as the quest each of them is on to win Lauren (Reese Witherspoon).

As they bring out their spy best (or should I say worst) to beat out the other, crazy funniness ensues (all the more so as Lauren remains unaware). The blend of romantic comedy, some bromance and a sort of spy caper is what makes This Means War so much fun.

Sure, the ending felt predictable but everything in the middle wasn't. It didn't ruin having fun watching the movie, either - for me or anyone I watched it with (they didn't comment on the predictability, either).

IMDb (and other sites) are saying This Means War is comparable to The Bounty Hunter, The Ugly Truth and Killers. While I saw the first two and did like them (haven't seen the third), this one had a different feel. I think it was that those were all, at their heart, one guy and one girl - no matter how antagonistic their relationship got.  This Means War, meanwhile had the added element of the two male characters and their friendship; it was more complex. (And likely male viewer friendly.)

The filming and/or directing actually had more of a (higher budget, less oops involving) Chuck feel (maybe I need to watch more spy movies?).

The cast of this movie was great. Admittedly, I do really like Reese Witherspoon most times but I also didn't already like Chris Pine or Tom Hardy. I do now, though! (You've seen the clip where Lauren seems Huck's accent as a bad thing, right? How?!) Normally I don't like Chelsea Handler that much, but she was fantastic in this movie and I thought she was super funny.

Overall, This Means War is still a romantic comedy and so much fun if you enjoy those, but is also great fun if you're looking for one that's just a bit different - or one a guy might like a bit more.

A great start to summer movie I highly recommend buying or renting - it's out the 22nd!

The trailer:

*review based on promo DVD version of movie, thank you to Fox and Think Jam

Friday, May 18, 2012

This Means War Tomorrow

Tomorrow I'll have a Cinema Saturday post on This Means War (starring Reese Witherspoon, Chris Pine, and Tom Hardy). Here's a fun little graphic Fox and Think Jam sent along to help promote the movie - out on DVD and BluRay next Tuesday, the 22nd:

Video Veneris

Monument 14 is a book I'm really excited to have come out and to get a chance to read . . .and the trailer only added to my anticipation.

The cool thing about this trailer (aside from or possibly contributing to/causing its awesomeness) is that the song lyrics in the trailer are from a song in the book and were recorded for the trailer by Ava Anderson.

About Emmy Laybourne's Monument 14:
Your mother hollers that you’re going to miss the bus. She 

can see it coming down the street. You don’t stop and hug her and tell her you love her. You don’t thank her for being a good, kind, patient mother. Of course not—you launch yourself down the stairs and make a run for the corner.

Only, if it’s the last time you’ll ever see your mother, you sort of start to wish you’d stopped and did those things. Maybe even missed the bus.

But the bus was barreling down our street, so I ran.

Fourteen kids. One superstore. A million things that go wrong.

In Emmy Laybourne’s action-packed debut novel, six high school kids (some popular, some not), two eighth graders (one a tech genius), and six little kids trapped together in a chain superstore build a refuge for themselves inside. While outside, a series of escalating disasters, beginning with a monster hailstorm and ending with a chemical weapons spill, seems to be tearing the world—as they know it—apart. 
-June 5th from Feiwel & Friends (Goodreads, Book Depoor Amazon)

* Monument 14 is part of Macmillan's Fierce Reads - become a Fan on their Facebook page *
(and check out their 'Events' page to see if their tour's coming anywhere near you and/or get the Chapter Sampler available soon!)

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Brothers to the Death ~ Darren Shan review

Brothers to the Death (Larten Crepsley #4)
Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
May 15, 2012
272 pages
add to Goodreads/buy from Book Depository/or on Amazon

* My reviews of Birth of a Killer (#1), Ocean of Blood (#2), and Palace of the Damned (#3) - this review may contain spoilers for some of those *

 Just when Larten is finally ready to make his way back to Vampire Mountain and his vampire kin, he's pulled into a very human conflict. The Nazis are coming to power and while the vampires have made it their way not to interfere with human struggles, the Nazis have made their own efforts to pull the vampire in, though, so they can't completely turn a blind eye.

The impending human war is not the only one to worry about. The vampires and vampaneze conflict still has not gone away. Some are even back to calling for all out war. Both wars will take their toll on Larten and those closest to him as he finishes his journey towards becoming the vampire from Cirque Du Freak series.

Brothers to the Death pulls in a almost all of the characters (vampire as well as a few human) who were involved in the three previous books of this series. It's great to see how they've all progressed and how they're relationships all weave together - sometimes causing conflict.

This last book, more so than the others, involves current events - from World War II era and both before and after - to help shape Larten and tell his tale.

The story covers a long time period - about a century - while focusing on a pretty contained set of events and their aftermath - so readers get a great sense of how those things affect Larten and how he both deals with them and grows from them without the story getting too bogged down in the day to day (or even week to week or month to month) which wouldn't fit with the character.

We've seen Larten as a young, impoverished boy working with silk worms in a factory, we saw him as the young Cub vampire finding his way - drinking and making a general ruckus - we saw him find love and now we see it all come full circle, really. Whether readers have read the Cirque Du Freak series or not, this is a great either introduction to or expansion on the Larten Crepsley character. You really have a great sense of not only who he is but why he is that way and how he got that way, where he's come from after reading this prequel series.

This series works well as a standalone but likely much, much better as a supplement to the original or a brilliant introduction for new readers who have yet to start that series.

Rating: 8/10

Thank you to LBYR for my copy of this book for review :)

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Author Interview: Melissa Walker

Last week I had a review of Melissa Walker's new YA book Unbreak My Heart  - out May 22nd from Bloomsbury - today I'm lucky enough to have an interview with the author!

Melissa Walker's latest novel newest novel is Unbreak My Heart, out later this month. She's also the author of The Violet Greenfield series: Violet on the Runway, Violet by Design, and Violet in Design about a small-town girl who becomes a model; Lovestruck Summer about a girl who goes to Austin to have her perfect music summer and finds unexpected love (I heart this book so much), and Small Town Sinners about a girl and her involvement in her Evangelical church's Hell House production.

Melissa has also written for ELLEgirl and Seventeen magazines. She co-founded I Heart Daily, a daily newsletter or things you should heart/know about/be aware of/will make your life better (and if you're not signed up yet clickity click and do it!).

Enjoy - and be sure to pre-order your copy if you somehow haven't already :)

Have you ever - or would you ever - take a trip with your family like the one Clem, her sister, and their parents take?
I have! And it was just as hard (and great) as the one Clem took. Though I never stayed with my parents for the whole summer--just for a weekend here or there as they sailed along.
The progression of Clem's relationship with Ethan feels so real and natural - it doesn't come across as fictional or judgmental - have you ever been, in any way, in a similar situation? (Or is your writerly brain just that amazing?) 
Hmm. I do have some experience in this matter, yes.

Is there any advice you have for someone in a situation similar to Clem's?
Oh man. Apologize? Like a clear and straightforward and heartfelt apology with no defenses up. It sounds so simple, but people manage to dance around apologies so often. I believe I flubbed my chance to deliver an apology like this for a friend once, and I wish I could go back and do it right.

Which of the characters that you've created (in Unbreak My Heart or any of your previous novels) would you most like to have met on a trip like Clem's?
I love James a lot in this book, but I have to say that Russ, from Lovestruck Summer, remains one of my very favorite YA creations. There's just something about those Texas guys.

You have 'Cover Stories' on your blog where authors explain how the cover of their novel came about  - is there one book that you're just dying to find out the 'Cover Story' behind? 
I'd love to go back in time and talk to someone like Jane Austen about the original covers for her books. I mean, what were the trends and marketing ideas back THEN? It would be fascinating.

[I LOVE the Cover Stories feature - definitely check it out if you don't know about it, here's the one for Unbreak My Heart.]

What YA novel do you think would be Unbreak My Heart's book BFF - or which character would be Clem's?
Clem would love to hang out with Ruby Oliver from E. Lockhart's Boyfriend List series. They could work out a few things together, I think.

What would be the name of your sailboat? My parents had a boat called Innisfree, so I'd probably tip my hat to them and go with Innisfree II. Although they also had Night Wind II (after my grandfather's Night Wind), so maybe I'd do Night Wind III. I'm a legacy girl.

Huge thank you to Melissa and to Bridget at Bloomsbury!

Waiting On Wednesday (featuring cupcakes!)

Waiting On Wednesday is hosted by Breaking the Spine

Last summer I read Carrie Harris debut novel Bad Taste in Boys, also the first in the Kate Grable series. The second in the series is out this coming November, Bad Hair Day.

Bad Hair Day by Carrie Harris (out November 13th from Delacorte Press) is my Waiting On Wednesday pick for today!

Senior year is positively hair-raising.

Kate Grable is geeked out to shadow the county medical examiner as part of her school’s pre-med program. Except when he’s arrested for murder, she’s left with the bodies. And when Kate’s brother Jonah stumbles upon a dead gamer girl, she realizes that the zombie epidemic she cured last fall was only the beginning of the weirdness taking over her town. Someone’s murdering kids—something really hairy. And strong. Possibly with claws.

Is it werewolf awesomeness like Jonah and his dorktastic friends think? Kate’s supposed to be a butt-kicking zombie killing genius...but if she can’t figure out who’s behind the freakish attacks, the victims—or what’s left of them—are going to keep piling up.

It’s scary. It’s twisted. It’s sick. It’s high school.
Bad Taste in Boys was a ton of fun and this one looks to be, as well! *has NetGalley request in*

and here's where the cupcakes come in . . . for some reason, the cover of Bad Taste in Boys made me want to make cupcakes. I know, weird. It took me forever to actually do it

I made the bacon cupcakes Carrie Harris had the recipe for, but not any Bad Taste in Boysesque ones . . . until now.

Bad Taste in Boys Cupcakes 

(I need a better camera or something - while that pink wasn't as pink as I wanted, hello upcoming 2nd attempt, it is brighter and the green's neon. Looked brighter in the preview :( You get the idea, right? *side-eys camera* I'd take a picture of the bright preview, but then we'd be back in the same mess . . .)

Bad Taste in Boys on Goodreads and my review and Bad Hair Day on Goodreads

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Gilt ~ Katherine Longshore (earc) review

Gilt (The Royal Circle #1)
Viking Juvenile
May 15, 2012
398 pages
add to Goodreads/buy on Book Depository/or from Amazon

As young girls growing up in the Tudor age, both Catherine Howard and Kitty Tilney dream of making their way to the court of King Henry VIII - one likely more so than the other. Stuck living as ward's of Catherine's grandmother, the dowager duchess at Norfolk House, they spent their time in the maiden's chambers dreaming of getting away.

Kitty knows she has no real prospects, but Catherine is a Howard and that gives her possibility.

When Cat gets works her way into court - and possibly King Henry's heart, as well - she follows through on a promise and brings Kitty along. It's filled with jewels, beautiful dresses, and fancy parties, yes, but court life isn't perfect or easy.

Kitty finds herself somewhere she never thought she'd be - torn between two men.

And Cat may have more than her heart in danger if she keeps up her flirting ways. Kitty will have to learn how to be Cat's friend but also keep herself safe in a place where gossip no longer just gets your in trouble - in could get you killed.

I'm kind of a sucker for historical fiction - well, good historical fiction - and Tudor period ones, specifically.

When you read a good - completely fictitious - novel, you're often left wishing there was more. Another book, another chapter, some sort of epilogue, something. You can imagine things all you want but it never quite reaches the level of awesome that the book did because those characters were created in the author's head. With really good historical fiction, it's interestingly the same way.  You finish a book wishing there were more about those characters, that you could keep reading about them . . . Then you remember there is because they're real (well save for any characters created for the novel). The only problem is, they're never quite the same as they were in whichever book you've just read because in a sense, the author created these characters as well - or at least brought them (back) to life.

Katherine Longshore does that in Gilt. I've read other novels set during the same time period with some of the same historical figures involved but this novel goes around the main players to and gives readers a bit of an outsiders (though not that outside) perspective. It's told through Kitty, Cat's best friend, confidante and surrogate sister. While we don't have the perspectives on King Henry that a novel told from Cat(herine)'s view might give, we do get a great view on who Cat, later Queen Catherine, is.

Not who she sees herself as, but who someone who's almost always known her sees her as.

Kitty also has a great view on the different men and women at court. From the way they're perceived to how they act to little secrets about them. It's likely that she, not being that high up in the court's hierarchy sees things that even one of the other ladies might not be privy to - or might not care to notice.

Gilt is not only a great historical fiction novel, it's a great character study that brought up a lot of things I hadn't thought about before in my other readings on the same time period. Even if you care nothing (or very little) about the time period, it's a tremendous read for the friendship between Cat and Kitty and the struggles they face - both with each other and that life puts on their bond.

This may be a young adult historical fiction but I think it easily stands up to the adult historical fiction novels - like those by Carolly Erickson and Alison Weir.

Rating: 9/10

thank you to the publisher and NetGalley for my e-galley of this title for review

Monday, May 14, 2012

The Princesses of Iowa ~ M. Molly Backes (earc) review

The Princesses of Iowa
Candlewick Press
May 8, 2012
464 pages
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Paige just spent her summer in Paris and everyone's more than ready to tell her how lucky she is, how wonderful it must have been, "oh to be young again," they say. Paige's trip wasn't a lazy vacation, it wasn't a fun summer tooling around Paris - she was exiled their by her parents.

Forcibly volunteered to work (without pay) as a babysitter after last spring's accident, Paige is just happy to get back home and have everything return to normal.

Only it doesn't.

Her friends weren't granted a summer getaway (forced or not, enjoyed or not) and they don't appreciate Paige's summer abroad. Paige should have everything: she's young, rich, popular and starting her senior year. But last spring's car accident after she and her best friends leave a party (and have been drinking). It's an accident that cold have been much, much worse but it's now, in the fall that its effects seem to really be coming to light.

With her best friends and her boyfriends drifting away from her, her sister seemingly a whole new person and under her mother's constant pressure, can Paige figure out who she is - not just who they want her to be?

And will she let her creative writing class, something she thought was a joke but might turn out to be so much more, play a role?

Oh, Princesses of Iowa, you confuse me! Not a ton, but a bit more than a little bit. It took some commitment on my part to get into this book. For whatever reason, the first two-hundred or so pages were just okay for me. I didn't dislike them, but I also didn't love them.

After that, however, I started to really enjoy Princesses. While I wasn't expecting so much out of the book- plot wise, it was a lot deeper than I anticipated - and I don't know if that's because I misread the synopsis or forgot it, I'm glad it wasn't fluff.

Backes doesn't shy away from the issues in her debut. The negative, hateful, and/or bigoted things people say aren't glossed over and then politely referenced later when a reaction, consequence or some big resolution is needed. People say things that are (beyond) not nice and characters react - or sometimes fail to - in the moment. It's a really fantastic representation of how life can be.

Paige's struggle with whether she is who she is or who all these other people (her mother, her best friends, her boyfriend, etc) expect her to be was very well done. Things weren't black and white and they weren't cut and dry, Paige realizes a is this and b is that, the end. It really was a struggle with her. There were steps backwards and steps forwards - sometimes steps sideways, too.

The Princesses of Iowa also, absolutely, made me want to take a creative writing class. If you love writing, you'll love those parts of Princesses and if not, you just might find yourself considering taking up the activity!

While I applaud the author for tackling so many issues - and not always cleanly or nicely - I do want to mention something that I saw also mentioned in another review on Goodreads [Laura from Clear Eyes, Full Shelves]. There sexual situations/sex involved in the book where the female characters is drunk. I may be wrong but I think they're the only sex in the book. It's never really brought up as an issue - besides maybe someone thinking that a character drinks too much - how not cool that is.

And one of the situations in Princesses was an attempted assault that is never discussed or brought up again. There are probably a thousand ways to attempt going about addressing this has a blog that does it better.

While I get that teens get drunk and I get that teens have sex, if you're going to do a book that is going to tackle so many issues, either don't include them together or do try to somehow make it one of your issues.

Rating: 7/10

Thank you to the publisher and NetGalley for my e-galley for review

Saturday, May 12, 2012

Cinema Saturday

Sony Pictures
January 31, 2012
100 minutes; R for strong, brutal, bloody violence, language and some nudity (per IMDb)
IMDb; DVD and BluRay; Amazon Instant Video
starring: Ryan Gosling, Carey Mulligan, Bryan Cranston

While I feel almost silly doing a post for this movie because I think (just about) everyone saw it before I did, I think it's still a movie worthy of a Cinema Saturday post: Drive.

Starring Ryan Gosling as a part-time stunt drive, part-time getaway driver for hire and mechanic who gets into more trouble than he bargained for (and definitely more than he expected) when he takes a job to help someone out - instead of because of why it can help him - Drive was released to theatres in 2011.

The first half (or so) of Drive is quite different plot-wise than the second half. It sets things up, it's quieter, not exactly more subdued but it feels that way. It's a sort of calm before the storm. (And with the rating, the previews and all of the talk surrounding the movie, it's not spoilerish to say that there's more coming than what happens in that half.)

It's later in the movie when the violence - and there definitely is some - comes.

The beginning's an interesting and, I think, kind of beautiful, mix of scenes of Gosling (known only as Kid or Driver) driving that are filmed like like a really, really great 'driver' view of some brand new video game along with scenes between Driver and his neighbor Irene (Mulligan) that have sparse if any dialogue but are somehow almost perfect. There are, of course, other scenes as well as other characters - displaying both of Gosling's character's jobs and those he interacts with - and setting up the story. I didn't notice their specialness as much, though.

I have trouble not always thinking of Carey Mulligan as Sally Sparrow (from the [brilliant] Doctor Who episode "Blink") but she was really fantastic in Drive. And I've always liked Ryan Gosling (you've seen The Notebook, right?) but  I kind of got him more after this more after this movie, or something. The two of them were brilliant in their scenes together - and apart - as much as they sometimes did just involve looking at each other.

Now, back to that violence. Whether I missed hearing just how much of it their was or just forgot, I don't know.  There is quite a bit - and the filmmakers don't really skimp on showing it to you, either. It's not horror movie violence either where people get hacked up but it's obviously fake, in Drive you know it's fake, but it still makes you cringe. That said, it's part of the story and who the characters are and it not being there would do the both a disservice.

Drive felt almost like a Clint Eastwood movie to me - though, that may be that I just need to watch more old movies or more old feeling movies that look new. It had that classic feel about it but with some of the current day things that wouldn't be in a true classic film. (That and the 80s/retro sounding soundtrack.)

I'm sorry it took me so long to see this one, but glad, too, because it gave me something great to see this week!

(On a side note, I don't know if the video-game-esque driving sequences had anything to do with the writer and the director apparently not having drivers licenses (yay!special features - but I loved them.)

Friday, May 11, 2012

Until I Die ~ Amy Plum

Until I Die (Reveants #2)
May 8, 2012
357 pages
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Likely contains spoilers for Revenants Book One, Die For Me ~ my review

It seems as if Kate and Vincent have gotten past the danger and (most of) the naysayers and can finally be together.  With things calmer, their relationship is able to develop - they can go on dates, get to know each other better without the constant threat of death hanging over them - and truly enjoy their time together.

But, will Vincent be able to fight off the need he feels to sacrifice himself to save humans? When staying alive (or as alive as he is) means keeping his promise to Kate?

As a new enemy emerges, the revenants - and Kate - also have to wonder if the numa are really as gone as they seem, or just biding their time.

Can they all survive this, too?

Until I Die lets readers see Kate and Vincent trying to be just Kate and Vincent without worrying about explaining their supernatural status to the other (Vincent) or having just moved to a new country after the death of their parents (Kate).

It's a bit more slow and steady in the beginning without all of that - the danger, the mystery of who or what Vincent and his friends are, the introduction to the revenants, and then the danger. Likely because of things already being established and the readers getting to get a bit more of Kate and Vincent's relationship, while not at all boring by far, Until I Die does lose some of the allure and intrigue that Die for Me had.

You already know who the players are (well save for a few new ones), what they are and how things work with them. It's not as mysterious. That's not to say we don't learn some great new things in Until I Die both about different characters (some things that I feel a little dumb for not putting together!) and the revenants, of course.

The beginning, while not my favorite part of the book - though I loved Kate and her new friendship because it was cute - was absolutely necessary for readers to see more of who the characters are in their more laid back time. Kate also explores something that seems fairly innocuous when she starts but might be more. It's also necessary because of how brilliantly things come together at the end.

I just love the way things all converge and when you don't quite expect it, either. I loved the way things came together - not all good and not all bad!

While I'll admit I might have been expecting something else in the beginning of Until I Die based on the first book, I do appreciate that there wasn't some tragic event or some brand new character that popped out of the woodwork and stole Vincent's heart (and broke Kate's) leaving them to work out their troubles for most of the book. Allowing them to be together - and their relationship to grow even, was a nice change from what happens in a lot of second-in-the-series-books. So, I maybe didn't love the beginning, but I appreciated that.

(And more Jules, next book?)

Rating: 8/10

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Unbreak My Heart ~ Melissa Walker (eARC) review

Unbreak My Heart
Bloomsbury USA
May 22, 2012
240 pages
add to Goodreads/buy from Book Depository/or Amazon

After breaking that near unbreakable rule and falling for her best friend's boyfriend, Clementine Williams' is ready to get away. Her sophomore year did not end at all the way she wanted it to - her best friend (and possibly all their other friends) have shunned her and forgiven him.

A summer on her family's boat, away from internet access, away from everyone else she knows, away from her hometown, away from cell phone reception, suddenly doesn't seem like the worst idea in the world. Three months in a confined space with her parents and ten-year-old little sister might not be a picnic, but Clem doesn't really care. In fact, Clem doesn't really care about anything.

Maybe James - who, with his dad is sailing the same route as Clem and her family - the boy she meets at their first stop, will be just the thing she needs. Maybe he'll finally get her mind off last spring. And unbreak her heart.

Unbreak My Heart is Melissa Walker's fabulous new contemporary YA novel. With a fantastically original setting and her (always) fresh characters, this one is a perfect summer read.

A summer trip that Clem normally would have seen as being exiled and avoided at any and all possible costs, she now sees as a bit of a refuge instead. At home she's the bad guy and quite literally sailing away from her problems doesn't seem like such a bad idea at the moment. We don't know just exactly what happens when the story starts, at least not the details. It's better, though, that those unfold as the story does. To learn more of the past details as Clem's present also develops works very nicely.

Through little flashbacks - things happening in the present or things she thinks about bring up memories - readers see how things developed between Clem and her best friend's boyfriend, Ethan. The way things happen feels very realistic and true to life. It doesn't feel sensationalized for fiction or to make the story better - in fact, it's much better because it's not. The way things develop feels almost logical. Of course, there are times you want to kind of shake Clem a bit, but that's an outside perspective.

The parts of the story on the boat are not at all cramped feeling. There is the containment and isolation at times, but there's also the sense of the open water, the  freedom. They characters also stop in different towns, Clem and her family have James and his father - and their boat - to visit with.

Unbreak My Heart is a fun (early) summertime read that also has some depth to it as we see Clem's struggle to maybe forgive herself.

Rating: 8/10

Part of the Bloomsbury Blog Tours

Thank you to Bloomsbury and NetGalley for my egalley of this title :)

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Waiting On Wednesday

Waiting On Wednesday is hosted by Breaking the Spine

This week's Waiting On Wednesday book is:

The Blessed (The Blessed #1) by Tonya Hurley

Brooklyn teens Lucy, Cecelia and Agnes find themselves in the emergency room at Perpetual Help Hospital at the lowest point in their lives. Lucy, the superficial party girl; Cecelia, a drop out rock chick; and Agnes, a hopeless romantic. All rebels running from their lives and themselves, plagued by broken hearts and broken dreams. Enter Sebastian. Mysterious, compelling, seductive. He seems to bring each of them what they long for...

But in the battle for his heart, will they lose their souls?
I thought Tonya Hurley's ghostgirl series (reviews of books 1: ghostgirl, 2: Lovesick, & 3: Homecoming) was great fun ("If Edward Scissorhands and Kim (Winona Ryder's character in that movie) had a baby it would be ghostgirl.") and I've been eager to see what she came up with next.

The Blessed has a great cover and I like that it's slightly in the same vein as ghostgirl but also a new and fresh series with its own distinct characters!

Out in September from Simon & Schuster - Goodreads & Book Depo

What are you Waiting on?

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Teaser Tuesday

Teaser Tuesdays is a weekly bookish meme, hosted by MizB of Should Be Reading.  Anyone can play along! Just do the following:

 • Grab your current read
• Open to a random page
• Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page
• BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn't give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!)
 • Share the title & author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers!

My teaser this week:
That terrified her even as the darkness eased from her soul. What else could her make her do if he wanted?
-pg 134 of The Girl in the Steel Corset 

I had this book checked out from my library (via Overdrive) on my Kindle, didn't quite finish it . . . went to check it out again, there was some error went I did the 'send to' thing and there was an error - long(ish) story short TGitSC is no longer on Kindle (Overdrive - can still buy for Kindle) . . . I have the book book now, though!

Link me your Teaser Tuesday posts? Or just tell me what you're reading!
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