Monday, April 30, 2012

The Last Princess ~ Galaxy Craze (eARC) review

The Last Princess
Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
May 1, 2012
295 pages
add to Goodreads/buy from Book Depository/or Amazon


After the Seventeen Days destroyed almost all that Eliza - and the rest of England (and likely the world - knew as modern civilization, people are left struggling for things they used to find commonplace. Clean water to drink is now a luxury, nearly all of the animals (save the snakes, worms and leaches) have died out of the forests, a coal powered train had to be brought out of a museum and used for transportation. Electricity is gone. People are scavenging for food.

Isolated from the rest of the world and what may or may not be going on there, Britain is a desolate place.

Meanwhile, though, Eliza and the rest of her family, the British royal family, is still living relatively well. They have more food than the others. They're still throwing a ball. It will be a far cry from the balls thrown for previous courts, but it's still a ball.

And it angers some people. Including the revolutionaries determined to overthrow the royals.

When blood is shed in the palace, Eliza is the only one able to escape. Determine not only to rescue her family - whom she hopes are still alive - but also to extract revenge on the man who has caused her grief, Eliza sets out on a journey. A journey that will cause her more pain, lead to more bloodshed and cause her to make choices she never thought she would have to make.


A great mix of a young royal - almost like Anastasia with shades or Marie Antoinette - with a bit Joan of Arc thrown in to the mix. With family relationships, friendships and personal struggles mixed in with the violence that comes and the post-apocalyptic Britain, The Last Princess should appeal to a wide audience - in both and gender.

With The Last Princess readers get a bit of the royal flavor - that bit extra that Eliza and her siblings enjoy thanks to their father being the King of England - but it's tampered  by the book being set after the Seventeen Days. While we never get an exact description of all that the Seventeen Days entailed, it all but destroyed the world. Britain is still reeling from it and trying to recover - and perhaps the King could make a few more concessions than he has.

Perhaps it's the way Eliza is forced to go out on her own and feels vengeful but it reminds me almost of Avi's Cripsin series a bit or perhaps of Darren Shan's Larten Crepsley series (just, you know, minus the vampire bit). I will say that Eliza seems stronger than both of those characters. (Likely due to her starting circumstance and the writers goal for the characters.)

The characters - Eliza, especially - in this novel are well written and their relationships are strong and not only make sense, but assist the story. The plot was great (a revolution much like the French moved to England after a sort of apocalypse) was incredibly logical and fun to read about. There were things that seemed to not ever get completely explained (like what the Seventeen Days was, who the Roamers were - or how they came to be) that left me wondering a bit and a few things were predictable. Other than that, though, things were greatly enjoyable and the little details (the lamps, the snakes, etc were nice inclusions.

While Eliza is a princess - and the title, of course, mentions that - The Last Princess' content should appeal to male YA (and possibly upper MG) readers as well. She's a female main character, but she's a tough  one - both physically and mentally - as she fights to make sure she is not, in fact, The Last Princess.


Rating: 9/10


thank you to LBYR and NetGalley for my egalley of this title

Divergent/Insurgent Factions: Erudite

Today's #TeamI'mNotSure Divergent/Insurgent post is about the Erudite faction!

Why #TeamErudite?

divergent.wikia.com
Those in Erudite are all about learning and education. They're the ones responsible for advances in medicine and science. They study a lot, highly value intelligence and believe knowledge - not violence - will solve conflict.

Erudite faction members "Must wear at least one blue article of clothing, which causes the body to release calming chemicals" -Divergent pg 348 (from DivergentFans.com). So, while the blue is required, not only does it have good motivation, it also leaves room for options. The color of every item of clothing is not dictated like in other factions. Erudites still have some choices.


Why not #TeamErudite?

Well, once simple thing is that they don't have pets - they don't make sense.

They've also used their 'knowledge' to corrupt things, especially with Dauntless and Abnegation. They spend time studying, working for knowledge and intelligence but they seem to be misusing it - especially at the end of Divergent. I applaud their goal (initial goal) but not the end result they seem to have achieved.

Plus, who doesn't want a dog (or cat), logical or not?

Erudite Faction News on Tumblr, Factions page on DivergentFans.com

Sunday, April 29, 2012

Divergent/Insurgent Factions: Candor

In this Divergent/Insurgent #TeamI'mNotSure post, I'm looking at the Candor faction . . .

Why #TeamCandor?

divergent.wikia.com
Well, they're obviously honest and candid as the name implies. You don't have to guess what anyone's thinking or if they're saying something just to be nice but really mean something else. It's why those in Candor wear black and white - to reflect how they see things.

Sometimes those in Candor can be considered honest to a fault - there are times when a certain degree of honesty can be considered insulting. While those in Candor would rather hear the brutal truth and maybe an insult, I don't know if I always would.

Being in Candor would definitely either give you thicker skin or break you.

Candor seems to be the hardest faction to be yea or nay about. They're very truthful and while it might be hard to always hear the absolute truth (and wear no colors, I'll admit), there's not an incredibly strong negative there.

Though, I might change my mind after I'd been there a while! (It's also not as discussed - either on Candor pages or in Divergent, I don't think - but sometimes the truth isn't black and white, especially when it comes to larger issues, so I would likely have a problem with that in Candor.)

Factions page on DivergentFans.com and CandorFactionNews on Tumblr

Friday, April 27, 2012

Video Veneris

Here's the book trailer I'd like to share this week, it's for Amanda Stevens Graveyard Queen series - I posted the review of the third (and, so far, last book released earlier this morning):


here are the links to my reviews of the books in the series:
The Restorer (Book 1)
The Kingdom (Book 2)
The Prophet (Book 3)

and the 'Books' page on AmandaStevens.com

Divergent/Insurgent Factions: Dauntless

Welcome to post three of #TeamI'mNotSure - the posts, each about one of the factions from Divergent, each pointing out both the good as well as maybe not so good points of the faction will hopefully help me decide which faction team I'm on.

Today's post is about Dauntless . . .

Why #TeamDauntless?

[Divergent spoilers to follow]
DivergentFans.com
Dauntless is the faction Tris chooses in Divergent.

Dauntless is, of course, undaunted. They are brave, fearless - especially when faced with dangerous situations or frightening experiences. Things that would normally give others pause (cause people to panic, think through why doing something is a horrible idea, dangerous, a bad idea, etc) those in Dauntless do without pause.

In Dauntless they're known for being brave and for their ability to fight. In the Dauntless initiation, Tris and the other initiates face a lot of fights against each other - sometimes brutal ones.

Dauntless wears all black - but they also have tattoos (Tris got some in Divergent) and piercings. So, while Amity supposedly has the only artists, Dauntless has some of some sort if they can get tattoos, right?

And black clothes can look good.

Also, while other factions hate each other, Dauntless appears neutral with everyone.


Why not Dauntless?

Weirdly, though Dauntless would probably end up scaring me and I honestly might not be able to handle it - the fear simulations and everything kind of freak me out a little bit - I have the least reasons for not being '#TeamDauntless.'

Aside from not being violent (which okay, that's a pretty big 'nay' right there), I just don't think I would completely fit in with the constantly being fearless, adrenaline!yay let's go attitude of Dauntless.

I do think they're necessary for the way the world of Divergent works however. They guard the city and if you're going to have someone guard you, it can be good to have them be fearless. Though, at times, the slight reservation that just a hint of fear would give you, might be someone - or everyone's - saving grace.

(Also, I would want to wear something colorful every once in a while.)


I really am going to think on that 'all the artists are in Amity but the tattoos are in Dauntless' thing now, however . . .


Dauntless Faction News on Tumblr and Factions page on DivergentFans.com

The Prophet ~ Amanda Stevens (eARC) review

The Prophet (Graveyard Queen #3)
Harlequin Mira
April 24, 2012
352 pages
add to Goodreads/buy from Book Depository/or Amazon

Back from in Charleston after her close call in Asher Falls, Amelia Gray is not quite prepared to see John Devlin again - even after receiving a text message from him saying, "I need you," As she prepares herself, her help is requested by the deceased cop Robert Fremont she meant once before.

It goes against her father's rules (the ones that have kept her safe from the ghosts all these years) to even acknowledge Fremont let alone agree to his request, but she's already broken all the other rules. And Fremont isn't exactly giving her much choice.

Will Amelia be able to help Fremont - and keep herself safe/ And what of her relationship (if there still is one despite how drawn she is to him) with Devlin? Will she be able to finally do something about the ghosts that not only haunt him but seem to threaten her?


The Prophet is the third book in Amanda Stevens Graveyard Queen series. The first (after the - free - ebook prequel The Abandoned), The Restorer was released in April of 2011 and The Kingdom the second came out at the end of March. While any future books in this currently at (hopefully) six book series don't have release dates, they should be coming.

This third book started out slow, getting everyone where they needed to be - Amelia back home in Charleston (with Angus!!), showing her reticence to see John again. As well as letting readers see what everyone was up to (the characters we already knew) and introducing some that we'd either never met before or only heard of in previous books. While I loved one of the newest characters (and, actually, wished there would have been need for more of them), I had trouble with the first half of the book.

I understand why everything that happened was necessary, but it was hard to get through that half compared with the second half. Amelia seemed much less sure of herself and more hesitant in this book. Though, it got better as the book progressed. John Devlin was also there but you didn't feel him as much as in the first book - this, too, got better later on in the book.

The second half of the book I truly enjoyed. It brought the characters together incredibly well. The different elements introduced - the mystery, ghost story, and even a bit of the Southern Gothic - in the first two books  seemed to come together here. Everything that was brought out in the first half of the novel was used and made sense here in the second half. Things were explained, resolved and worked out.

I love the resolutions that different characters received in The Prophet and hope to see more of their stories in latter books. The beginning (first half or so) of the novel was slow for me, but worth it because things introduced then made the second half even better!

Rating: 7/10

*If for any reason, these get new covers, I hope, hope, hope they're the double exposure cityscape/graveyard photographs Amelia has!

Thank you to NetGalley and Harlequin for my egalley of this title to review

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Thursday 13

Thursday 13 is hosted here

Thirteen Things:

  1. My blog now has BlogAds - I'm super excited at the possibility of some ads helping to sponsor Book Sp(l)ot Reviews. (Revenue generated will help sponsor future giveaways.) I thought long and hard about where to put the ads so they wouldn't disrupt the layout or be distracting.
  2. I've emailled the winners from my first three Spring Break Blog Spectacular giveaways (the rest are still open) . . . and heard back from most of them
  3. Kathleen Peacock's pre-Hemlock scene still has me super excited for the release of Hemlock (May 8 is almost, almost here!)
  4. Also almost here? Insurgent's release? Can't wait to see what happens in that one. (My #TeamI'mNotSure faction posts will continue and finish up soon.)
  5. I reviewed Unraveling by Elizabeth Morris at a weird time, but I loved it - so here's the review if you missed it!
  6. Pinterest is a great time suck.
  7. As is watching Doctor Who (still miss Rose/Ten).
  8. Season Two of Sherlock starts (in the US) on May 6th - anyone else watching it?
  9. The Immortal Rules was optioned for a movie and I'm really hoping it happens. Aside from, maybe Underworld(?), there haven't been movies lately with tough vampire girls/women that could defend themselves.
  10. Also still hoping anything by Alyxandra Harvey gets made into a movie - or TV show (that gets to air) (see above reasoning then throw in Buffy-like wit and some love of Supernatural)
  11. THANK YOU to everyone who was (and continues to be) a part of my Spring Break Spectacular - I know I already had a thank you post but it's still pretty amazing.
  12. I should really do another blog event sometime (soon-ish).
  13. Apologies for the oh-so-very random Thursday 13!!




Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Escape from Camp 14 ~ Blaine Harden review

Escape from Camp 14: One Man's Remarkable Odyssey from North Korea to Freedom in the West
Viking Adult
March 29, 2012
224 pages
add to Goodreads/buy from Book Depository/or Amazon

The only person known to have been born and raised in one of North Korea's prison camps and then escape* (others, brought to them have been released after some years), Shin Dong-hyuk lived more than two decades in North Korea's Camp 14.

Estimates have between 150,00-200,000 people living in North Korea's political prison camps. Isolated, starving, routinely beaten and cut-off even from the rest of their country, those living in these camps know very little (if anything) of the outside world. While most in North Korea are taught of South Korea and the United States' evil, growing up in Camp 14, though, Shin heard none of this. Expected to work long 15 hour days from a young age (10-year-olds worked together to push two-ton coal cars up a hill), prisoners subsisted (just barely) on corn, cabbage and salt.

Beatings were routine - from the guards, from family members, from other prisoners - and life was beyond hard, everyone sold everyone else out.

It would be no wonder that people wanted to escape. But few seemed to dream of it and even fewer try. Those, like Shin, who has always known this life didn't know there was a better world - with more food, something called love and friendship and trust. Not only that, the consequence for escape, attempting it, or even talking about it made it, often too dangerous: death.

Until the idea for escape did form in his mind. And he acted on it.


While the reading level of Escape from Camp 14 is not difficult (especially compared to many nonfiction books), it's the content that makes reading Shin's story hard at times.

Harden admits, quite frequently, that there is not, truly, a way to fact check Shin's story. He can't go to the camp and do interviews, he can't call anyone up and ask them questions, he can't even go into North Korea. While this does make the reader slightly dubious of Shin's story - especially when it's acknowledged that the story has changed in some dramatic places - the tale has been vetted in a way. Other memoirs have been published about people's experiences in the camps (those that were released or former guards) and different groups have led investigations/inquiries. These individuals and groups do contend that Shin's recollections are  in line with what happens in the prison camps. He has the physical scars, as well.

Harden's background as a reported and knowledge of the area adds some great extra information to the book. I learned a lot more about not only North Korea and its politics, history, and practices but also about South Korea and China as well (including their relationships with North Korea and its defectors).

While Shin's life and the life of those in Camp 14 was so separate from what was happening elsewhere in North Korea, it was very nice to know what was happening concurrently in the rest of the country.

The book doesn't wait for a nice, neat ending; it shows us how Shin's life is today. How he's adjusting to life, learning about being a regular human being whose life is not completely controlled, under constant threat of violence by prison guards. I wish him well.


Rating: 8/10


*This according to the book, the synopsis on Goodreads makes it sound as if there are others, so if my review is wrong, I apologize. I'm basing it on the text of the book.

Waiting On Wednesday


Waiting On Wednesday is hosted by Breaking the Spine

This week's Waiting On Wednesday book is one I've been eyeing for a while . . . and might have to for a while more, it doesn't come out until 20th November - it was February (unless I'm imagining things)!

Not only that, Michele Vail is the YA pen name of Michele Bardsley who writes the Broken Heart Vampires series (among other things). I haven't read much of that series yet (I am SO behind on my series) but I did meet her a few years ago at one of the RT Book Fairs and she was great and super funny.

Undeadly (The Reaper Diaries #1) by Michele Vail ~ published by HarlequinTEEN
The day I turned 16, my boyfriend-to-be died. I brought him back to life. Then things got a little weird...

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

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

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

To make matters worse, students at the academy start turning up catatonic, and accusations fly—against Molly. The only way out of this mess? To go through hell. Literally.
I love that there'll be a YA book about necromancers (the word makes me think of the Anita Blake books  but they're not YA), another YA series about reapers (I heart Rachel Vincent series) and you really have to try hard to go wrong with boarding school books . . .

The Greek gods - or at least Anubis - being involved also leads a nice, kind of mythological sounding air to things (and might not be at all there once I read the book but it has me intrigued!).

Definitely want to read this one and hope the release date doesn't move again . . . unless it's up!!


on: Goodreads/Book Depository/Amazon


What are you waiting on this week?

Teaser Tuesday (belated)


I do know it's Wednesday - and my Waiting On Wednesday post is coming but I was away from my computer yesterday and couldn't get this one posted (but wanted to) so I'm posting it today anyway! I hope you can forgive the wrong day.



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!

Except that England was utterly alone.

My father had sent the Queen Mary, the navy's eight-thousand-ton steel warship, to find news of the rest of the world.
-pg 25 of The Last Princess (arc) by Galaxy Crazy (out May 1, Little, Brown Young Readers)

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Purity ~ Jackson Pearce (eARC) review

Purity
Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
April 24, 2012
218 pages
add to Goodreads/buy from Book Depository/or Amazon

Just before her mother died, ten-year-old Shelby promised she would do three things: listen to her father, love as much as possible, and live without restraint. It's been fairly easy to follow those three promises so far - she avoids having her father tell her not to actually do something so that she can still follow through on the third promise and even has a list of (sometimes crazy) things she hopes to accomplish in life.

But when her father tells her about the Princess Ball where daughters vow to live a 'pure' life (no drugs, no sex until marriage and no alcohol until age 21), Shelby finds herself torn between Promise One and Promise Three. Until, she finds a loophole. Just like the one that allows her to do crazy things as long as her dad tells her best friend Jonas or someone else not to do them, Shelby has found a way around the chastity vow for the ball.

If she loses her virginity before the ball, the vow will be void and therefore she can make it and not be lying to her father but still not break Promise Two or Promise Three to her mother.


When I heard that Jackson Pearce was writing a contemporary YA about a purity ball, I was in a bit of love . . . and I so wanted to stay in it. But, I didn't.

I actually had a hard time finishing Purity. Shelby's mother makes her promise to 'listen' to her father and somehow Shelby takes that as doing exactly what her father says - if he says don't do x she can't do x. I can understand listening to him but just because he wants her to do the purity ball doesn't mean she can't voice some disapproval. To me, 'listen to your father,' doesn't quite translate to 'blindly obey - while finding any loophole around doing what your father says.'

Shelby didn't talk to her father about her discomfort with the vows, or anything at all, really. I had a hard time connecting with a character who makes a promise to her mother to listen to her father and then, because she doesn't want to vow to remain a virgin until marriage (or tell her father so), plans to lose her virginity in seven weeks.

The ending (as it pertained to two characters) was one I could see coming from the very beginning. It wasn't a big to-do at the end so it wasn't particularly rewarding, it was just something predictable throughout the story.

I still love the idea of a contemporary YA about the purity balls - and what they really mean; whether girls are taking them seriously or just doing it to look good to outsiders, how their families feel about it, if it's like a Deb Ball but with the vows and really just a society thing . . . I love all of that, but I didn't quite find it in Purity.


Here are two reviews one and two by bloggers who liked Purity more than I did - you might get a different sense of the book from them (I think they were able to connect with it more than I did).

As I said, I'm a Jackson Pearce fan and do hate that I didn't like this one - I'm hoping for more contemporary YA from here, though.


Rating: 5/10


thank you to LBYR and NetGalley for my egalley for review

Divergent/Insurgent Factions: Amity

Here's the second of my #TeamI'mNotSure Divergent/Insurgent posts where I discuss the pros of each of the factions - and why I haven't yet decided on being 100 percent for any faction just yet . . . hopefully these posts will help me decide. Either that, or I'll know more about them at the end!



So, why #TeamAmity?

Amity, the peaceful faction dresses in yellow and reds and the people that belong to it are known for their peacefulness and kindness ("Those who blamed aggression formed Amity.")

Amity has the farms, they provide the counselors and caretakers as well as the only artists.

The artists part is definitely a plus for me being yay!Amity . . . I think of Amity as kind of the hippies of the factions. They're all for the music and arts and friendship and kindness. They greet one another with hugs. I would likely need the art and music in any faction I was in and as artists seem only to be (or seem to only be) in Amity, that's almost, almost enough right there to make me completely #TeamAmity.

My only reservation, though, is about they're putting 'peace' above all us . . . above anything that disrupts the calm order of things. I'm not saying I want chaos but a little disorder for the sake of honesty, airing some grievances, etc might be needed.






Being for peace above and forgetting all else can lead to trouble.

"Those who seek above all else, they say, will always deceive to keep the water calm." (Google books really needs to give me pages when I use it to find my exact quotes! but this is in Divergent) Meaning you can lie a little if it keeps things nice and calm - sometimes true but overall will lead to trouble.

Keeping the peace is fantastic, but sometimes you need to have an argument to really get your feelings out in the open and resolve issues.

Maybe it's the Latin I took but I can't help thinking of: Si vis pacem, para bellum (If you wish for peace, prepare for war). While that doesn't mean literally war (always, at least) it does mean will and strength, I think. Which, I would believe includes honesty . . . which gets to Candor (who Amity does not like).


AmityFactionNews on Tumblr and Amity on Divergent Wiki


I do think I'm a little bit closer to picking one of them at the end, though . . . we'll see if I just get more confused as I do the rest of the posts!

Monday, April 23, 2012

In My Mailbox Monday

(a combination of In My Mailbox hosted by the Story Siren & Mailbox Monday at the Printed Page)


from Harper (think these were actually last week!)

The Gathering (Darkest Rising #1) by Kelley Armstrong


The Calling (Darkest Rising #2) by Kelley Armstrong


 I have no idea why I haven't read her YA books yet - I really love her adult Women of the Otherworld series . . . once I get some of my stack of 'for review' books I have for end of April/May down, I think I'll have to start them!!


from NetGalley:

Gilt (The Royal Circle #1) by Katherine Longshore



and from St Martin's:

Infamous (Chronicles of Nick #3) by Sherrilyn Kenyon



Any great books you've gotten  (old or new)? Anything I should request on NetGalley?

The Immortal Rules ~ Julie Kagawa (eARC) review

The Immortal Rules (Blood of Eden #1)
HarlequinTEEN
April 24, 2012
485 pages
add to Goodreads/buy from Book Depository/or Amazon

Allison Sekemoto lives in a future world where vampires rule and humans are kept as their cattle to provide them with food (blood) - and slaves to do any menial labor they don't wish to do. As an unregistered, Allison lives in the Fringe, not forced to scheduled bloodlettings, but also scavenging for food and struggling for safety.

With the near constant threat of being killed, being eaten by them, it's no wonder Allie hates vampires like she does. It's all she has some days.

But then she's attacked and given one final choice: die or become one of them. And she makes a decision she never thought she would. The girl who's always fought for survival isn't done yet.

Now, one of the things she's always despised, Allie must learn their rules in order to survive. The most important one of all: go too long without human blood and you'll go mad.

Allie's new life as a vampire will take her to places she never thought she'd go - places she never dreamed existed . . . now if only she can survive them and herself.



The Immortal Rules kicks off with leaps and bounds of tension and suspense and only builds on it. The tension lets up at times, but it never fully disappears, bringing readers on for quite a ride as they follow Allie on her journey. Or, at least, this phase of it.

Anyone who thinks vampire books are just trying to be another Twilight really needs to pick up The Immortal Rules. Kagawa takes us back more to how vampires need to be. Allie does still have some humanity in her but there are also really, really nasty vampires. They refer to themselves as monsters (and not in a self pitying, give-me-a-hug way, either) and do bite people and people die. They're not sparkly Twilight vamps . . . they're not even quite Buffy vamps.

The Immortal Rules takes places about sixty years after a plague has wiped out most of the humans, leaving  the vampires now in charge of  the majority of those that are left. Adding a sort of post apocalyptic dystopian with a vampire story was definitely unique - and having people aware of vampires (obviously) was also a new twist I liked.

Allie's story reads more like Resident Evil or a great kick-butt action movie with a female lead. She's a fantastic fighter. She's got this mission . . . all while fighting with what it means to be a vampire but not be like the ones she spent all those years growing up hating. (That the book came across that way is great actually, since the series has been optioned for a movie!)

Can't wait to see where the next book takes things - even more so after reading the first one and knowing the basis for everything!


Rating: 9/10


Other books you might like:  The Saga of Larten Crepsley  books by Darren Shan and Aftertime by Sophie Littlefield

thanks to Harlequin and NetGalley for the egalley of this title to read and review



and don't forget to visit the fantastic Blood of Eden website:

Sunday, April 22, 2012

12 Days of Morganvile Madness [Part 2]: Midnight Alley ~ Rachel Caine review & Giveaway





Rachel Caine Q&A: here
Review: 


Midnight Alley (#3)
Signet
October 2, 2007
245 pagse
add to Goodreads/buy on Book Depository/or Amazon

(does contain spoilers for the first two books, Glass Houses and Dead Girls Dance)

Morganville is such a nice place to live... And die. If you don’t mind that sort of thing.

When Claire Danvers learnt that her college town was run by vampires, she did what any intelligent, self-preserving student would do: she applied for a transfer and stocked up on garlic. The transfer is no longer an option, but that garlic may come in handy.

Now Claire has pledged herself to Amelie, the most powerful vampire in town. The protection her contract secures does little to reassure her friends. All of a sudden, people are turning up dead, a stalker resurfaces from Claire’s past, and an ancient bloodsucker extends a chilling invitation for private lessons in his secluded home.
Full of action and with more than a sprinkling of danger, Midnight Alley will hold readers until the last page. Until the last line.

To help save everyone when Shane's father and the biker gang were in town, Claire is now pledged to Amelie. At first she doesn't have much idea what that will entail, but soon it starts to become apparent - both the odd and maybe annoying things . . . as well as the potential dangerous ones.

As it is still Morganville, Claire, Eve and the boys are definitely not out of danger - even with Amelie's protection. A vampire now living in the house has new people watching them and new dangerous waiting, as well.

Myrnin, Claire's tutor adds some terrific spice to the novel. Not only is it great to have a new - and incredibly interesting - character added - what he introduces to the story seems like it might play out for quite a while.

I absolutely loved all of the action in Midnight Alley - it was definitely not lacking and was fantastic - and the ending is one that will have you happy you've bought the Morganville Vampires: Volume 2 that has book 4 in it (or, like me, rushing to find where you stashed Feast of Fools or buy it). There wasn't quite as much character or relationship progression as I might have liked, though. With this only being Book 3 - and happening over a not very long time period - I think it probably is coming.

Overall, this was an incredibly enjoyable (and quick) read that leaves you needing to know what happens next.

Rating: 8/10





Giveaway:

One winner (US addresses only, sorry international peoples) will winner a prize pack that includes a signed copy of Book 3 Midnight Alley and a Black Dawn (Book 12 - out May 1) bookmark!

(provided by Penguin)

enter using the Rafflecopter widget below:

12 Days of Morganville Madness tour [Part 1]

Rachel Caine Q&A

Rachel Caine's stopping by today with a Q&A she prepared about Midnight Alley, the third installment in the Morganville Vampires series!

(You can find the rest of the tour schedule - where there will be more Q&As, giveaways and reviews in my post here.) Please help me welcome her - and enjoy!!

Black Dawn - Book 12, Out May 1

1. What kicked off the concept for this book?
An intriguing little thing that I'd worked into the previous book -- the sinister alley next to Gramma Day's house, with the vampire she refers to as the "trap door spider." I knew I wanted to explore that character. To my surprise, he came out completely different than I expected.

2. Which character do I think stood out in this book, and why?
Definitely Myrnin, who burst onto the scene really vividly, and pretty much out of nowhere. I have no idea what kind of crazy tree he fell off of, but it's a colorful one.

3. Five things I loved about writing this book
A. Working for the vampires. Claire's challenges keep getting bigger, and certainly being suddenly tossed in as the (sacrificial) apprentice to a largely-insane vampire scientist is a pretty large hurdle.
B. Trying to imagine Myrnin's train of thought. It always took strange twists, and led some very weird places.
C. The growing heat between Shane and Claire. It felt really fun to write, and very natural.
D. The tension between Michael and Shane over Michael's choice to become fully vampire
E. Sam. I really enjoyed building the relationship -- forbidden as it was --between Sam and Amelie.

4. Five things I didn't love about writing this book
A. In order to protect his friends, especially Michael, Shane did some questionable things. And he really didn't have to answer for that.
B. While it was great fun to trash Monica's house, I probably went to the out-of-control party well once too often in two books.
C. Figuring out how far to take Jason was difficult. It was hard to get a read on Eve's brother.
D. Amelie could have been much more forceful in her response to many things that happened, and I was sometimes frustrated that I couldn't let her off the chain.
E. For the second time, those wild ferrets got cut. And this time, they had chainsaws.

Okay, that last one was totally imaginary.

Midnight Alley ~ Book 3
5. If I could do this book over, what would I do differently, and why?
Sam. Sam, Sam, Sam. I wish I hadn't done it. Sorry.

6. Favorite quoted passage from the book
Myrnin: "Home is where the heart is. Why don't you leave yours here? I'll take very good care of it."

7. What I learned from this book
I really never thought much about alchemy, but it's a pretty fantastic subject, and really a precursor to modern scientific methods.

8. Fun research moment
Trying to find alchemical texts to read that weren't (a) in Latin, or (b) in code. Good luck with that!

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Review and Giveaway in next post!!

Friday, April 20, 2012

Unraveling ~ Elizabeth Norris (ARC) review

Unraveling
Balzer + Bray
April 24, 2012
445 pages
add to Goodreads/buy on Book Depository/or Amazon

It's two days before the start of her junior year, Janelle Tenner has just finished her lifeguard shift and is about to pick up her brother . . . when she's hit by a pickup truck and killed.

The next thing Janelle is aware of, is Ben Michaels, one of the loners (and possible stoners) from school leaning over her. She can't explain it, she knows no one will believe her, but she knows that somehow Ben has brought her back to life.

How she's alive (again) isn't all Janelle has to figure out, though. Snooping around in her FBI agent father's files for clues about her accident, Janelle finds something about a clock - that seems to be counting down to something. Putting everything together (including events that occur soon afterwards), Janelle knows that the countdown and the strange occurrences - maybe even including her accident - are all leading up to something huge.

To save the world she'll have to stop the countdown . . . after she figures out what it is.


Unraveling is a book that is pretty good when you start it, gets better after a few pages and then really just sucks the reader in. It gets better and better and better as it goes - and it's 445 pages so it gets realllly good.

I love that the countdown is there from the first page but what the countdown - even that there is one - isn't known right away. Things really do unfold in Unraveling very well. All of the information isn't just dumped in readers laps right away, it's slowly unveiled as necessary. Sometimes I was anxious to learn just a little bit more - but not knowing definitely kept me turning the pages so I could find out!

The romance in Elizabeth Norris' debut, while not the main focus of the novel, is incredibly strong and captivating. It's one of my favorite YA romantic relationships of late

The plot of Unraveling is tricky and full of twists and turns but it never seems to lose itself. There aren't any holes (that I could tell) nor does it get confusing, or bogged down at any point, either. The plot also doesn't take over, leaving the characters behind. The familial relationships and friendships were well done and added a great extra element and emotion that made the story something it really wouldn't have been without them.

Elizabeth Norris' writing/language is definitely worth noting. While the story itself was so very enjoyable, I also so enjoyed the certain phrasing she used and how well written Unraveling was.

*Also, Janelle gets so many points from me for having read (and retained) The Awakening by Kate Chopin (she loses a few for spoiling it, but . . .still).


Rating; 10/10

Other books you might like: Hourglass by Myra McEntire and Forgotten by Cat Patrick


thank you to the publisher for providing me a copy of this to review

Morganville Vampires Blog Tour Info


To celebrate the release of Book 12 in the Morganville Vampires series, Black Dawn author Rachel Caine is doing a great blog tour! Each Day April 20 through May 1 one blog will feature (and sometimes review) one of the titles in the series starting today with the first book Glass Houses. 


Each stop will have a Rachel Caine interview and a book giveaway (12 books, 12 stops)!!

I'll be reviewing - and giving away a signed copy of - Midnight Alley the third Morganville Vampires installment on Sunday.

The tour schedule

April 20th: GLASS HOUSES (Book 1)

April 21: THE DEAD GIRLS DANCE (Book 2)

April 22: MIDNIGHT ALLEY (Book 3)

April 23: FEAST OF FOOLS (Book 4)

April 24: LORD OF MISRULE (Book 5)

April 25: CARPE CORPUS (Book 6)

April 26: FADE OUT (Book 7)

April 27: KISS OF DEATH (Book 8)

April 28: GHOST TOWN (Book 9)

April 29: BITE CLUB (Book 10)

April 30: LAST BREATH (Book 11)

MAY 1: BLACK DAWN (Book 12, NEW!)

SBBS's End



Spring Break Blog Spectacular ~ It's Over

SBBS (#SpringBookBreak on Twitter) has come to an end - at least this year's. Thank you, everyone who has stopped by the blog, commented on the posts, entered the giveaways, linked them, retweeted them, or in anyway told anyone about SBBS!!

A huge thank you as well to all of the authors, publishers, publicists and editors for their participation, assistance, time and the prize donations! I could not have done it without you.


Buying SBBS Books?

If you plan to buy any of the amazing books you've found out about during the event (I know there's a few I need to order), please consider using my affiliate links - either those in the post or on my sidebar (Book Depository even has an extra 10% off code you can use). Any revenue generated from them helps fund future giveaways!



Just Find #SpringBookBreak?

Anyone just finding out about the Blog Spectacular? Don't despair!

a Spring Break photo of mine
Today is the last day to enter Kathleen Peacock's giveaway (ends at 12:01 am EST on the 21st April) but there are a lot more still open including my Thank You Giveaway. Two winners, one US and one international based can each win a book of their choice (under $13 at time of win) featured in one of the SBBS posts!

(Books include those here - basically, I'm attempting to give you another way to win a book that was already being given away during SBBS or win one that was not already part of a giveaway but is by one of the lovely authors that participated!! If you win and aren't sure about a book, just ask.)



SBBS: Day 25 ~ Kimberly Sabatini



Spring Break Blog Spectacular ~ Kimberly Sabatini interview


Please welcome our last SBBS guest, Kimberly Sabatini! Kimberly's debut novel, Touching the Surface comes out in October and I, for one (and not the only one), definitely cannot wait to read it. If you're a Goodreads member, for sure check out some of Kimberly's book reviews - not only are her reviews amazing, you'll finds some great books to add to your TBR list and it'll make you even more anxious to read Touching the Surface.

So happy Kimberly Sabatini is here today to help me close out the first Spring Break Blog Spectacular!!




Interview:


Ideal spring break destination: ski chalet or tropical beach villa?
 Tropical beach villa!!!! Although I love skiing too--but since I've just had so much winter, I'd go to the beach.


In high school/college which was more likely spotting you on MTV’s Spring Break or just you and your friends enjoying the week off?
author photo from KimberlySabatini.com
Actually, all of my spring breaks were spent serving up Grand Slams at the local Denny's. I needed the money to help pay for college. But that left me time to hang out with my friends too.


What was your favorite Spring Break ever (where and/or why)? Or if you didn't go on spring break trips, where did you always want to go?
I always wanted to go someplace warm and fun with my friends, but I wouldn't have been into that whole crazy MTV type scene. 


Fly and have the fun be at the destination or road trip and have the journey be at least half the fun? 
I'd definitely fly. Road tripping always sounds like so much fun until you're doing it...Are we there yet????


Do/would any of your characters take Spring Break trips? 
Hmmm can't say they wouldn't, but I've never really pictured them there. The one who is most likely to go would be Oliver--he's just so much fun.


Where would their ideal Spring Break destination be? (Together or on their own.) 
If Elliot, Julia, Trevor and Oliver were to go on spring break together, they'd absolutely road trip, making lots of crazy pit stops along the way and back. I'm also completely sure they'd tip their waitress at Denny's VERY WELL. *wink*


Which of your characters (in Touching the Surface anything upcoming) would you most have liked to have met on a Spring Break trip? 
Oliver. No, Trevor. Make that Oliver. Definitely Trevor...Grrrrrr...I can't decide!!!!

Best book to read on Spring Break or a road trip?
 Something light and fun that would make me laugh. I love it when a book cracks me up and people see me smiling while I'm reading.

Thanks so much for having me over to your blog. This was so much fun!!!!
Thank you so much!! :-)


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About Touching the Surface:


Life altering mistakes are meant to alter lives…

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

As she pieces together the mistakes of her past, Elliot must earn the forgiveness of her best friend and reveal the truth about herself to the two boys she loves…even if it means losing them both forever.

add to your Goodreads; pre-order on Amazon, Book Depository or B&N

Find Kimberly Sabatini on Goodreads, Facebook, Pinterest, Google+, Tumblr, @KimSabatini, on LinkedIn or her website

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Do you love books about the afterlife/reincarnation?

Between by Jessica Warman, Lauren Oliver's Before I Fall, and Jodi Meadow's Incarnate were about that - and while I LOVED the first two (haven't read Incarnate yet), this one sounds so very different (and it's why I am just itching to read it)!!


Thank you all for taking part in Spring Break Blog Spectacular - closing post coming soon :-)

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Divergent/Insurgent Factions: Abnegaton

I hate to admit it, but all of the Divergent posts have made me more and more #TeamI'mNotSure.

Which is not to say I have no opinion on any of the factions, I do. But I also see the good and the bad in all of them . . . enough so that I can't pick one over the others! So, I've decided to do posts on each of the factions in the next (almost) two weeks leading up to Insurgent's release to see if it helps me decide :-)

First up, Abnegation:

Why #TeamAbnegation?

Those in Abnegation are reserved, unassuming people who don't draw attention to themselves. They wear gray clothing, don't wear jewellery or other accessories - except for a watch.

"Everything - our houses, our clothes, our hairstyles - is meant to help us forget ourselves and to protect us from vanity, greed, and envy, which are just forms of selfishness. If we have little, and want for little, and we all are equal, we envy no one." -pg 29

Abnegation is the selfless faction.

Abnegation is seen as peaceful and leads the government. It's also the faction Tris is a member of when Divergent starts.


Abnegation on Divergent Wiki, AbnegationsFactionNews on Tumblr

Why am I not 100% #TeamAbnegation?

I didn't like that Divergent Abnegation characters couldn't talk about themselves. If something is bothering you, you should feel comfortable talking to those you care about. You should feel comfortable asking for help. It also kept them from forming true, close friendships and I don't think I could survive that!

And while my usual lack of (almost any'all) jewellery or make-up would fit, I do love having the option and I like wearing sparkly stuff sometimes ;-) I don't think wanting to look at a pretty room/house or liking designing things means you can't care about other people - after all, I do it for them a lot, too.

Abnegation has a fantastic ideal . . . it just needs to be tempered a bit. (Or, at least, that's why I'm not all out #TeamAbnegation, yet.)

Redemption ~ Stacey Lannert & Kristen Kemp review

Redemption: A Story of Sisterhood, Survival, and Finding Freedom Behind Bars
Crown Publishing Group
March 20, 2012
336 pages
add to Goodreads/buy on Book Depository/or Amazon


On July 4, 1990, eighteen-year-old Stacey Lannert shot and killed her father, who had been sexually abusing her since she was eight. Missouri state law, a disbelieving prosecutor, and Stacey’s own fragile psyche conspired against her: She was found guilty of first-degree murder and sentenced to life without parole.
Redemption is her account of the years of abuse that led up to the shooting. The childhood with her abusive father, absent mother and the younger sister Stacey felt she needed to protect is only the beginning of what Stacey opens ups about in her memoir.


Redemption is incredibly - almost unbelievably - honest and candid. While the cover and the subtitle both talk about 'Finding Freedom Behind Bars,' a little over half of the book takes place before Lannert shoots and kills her father. I don't see it as a negative, but do note it in the interest of disclosure.

I was surprised at how honest and open Stacey was about not just her past but also about the past of her parents and grandparents. She didn't just recount the sexual abuse she suffered at the hands of her father (parts of the book that were actually quite difficult to read - she really does not spare much detail), but also the abuse her mother and sister suffered and the abusive pasts of her parents in their childhoods, too.

While it doesn't make anything 'understandable' or acceptable, having some more of their family dynamics almost explained was really nice. I do applaud her (and I would think, her family) for being willing to be so open.

The chapters did feel a bit more like essays than traditional chapters. While I don't expect memoir chapters to be like fiction chapters, Redemption's chapters still read differently. Things were repeated a bit in latter chapters (even exact phrases) and they weren't completely consecutive (they were chronological but end of chapter 1 didn't continue into beginning of chapter 2) making it feel like the chapters were written separately and then put together chronologically.

I think if the repetition hadn't been present, none of that would have mattered.

As honest as some of the early parts of the books are, some of the parts after her arrest seem almost glossed over. I don't think it's actually a case of being less than truthful, just, perhaps, that less focus was put there. (And this is the only part that I know I've seen a 'Dateline' or whatever that had an alternate point of view.*)  That section was the one that I felt was probably the weakest but it was also the one that I think was not where the authors were focusing and would have made the book much, much longer the flesh it out.

It's not a 'spoiler' to say that she was eventually released form prison as it's noted on the cover - and that it took nearly twenty years. Lannert's co-author, Kristen Kemp (also a YA author) wrote the article for Glamour that helped initially draw public attention to Lannert's case and I think it's great that she's now the co-author of the book.

Rating: 8/10


thank you to the publisher for my copy of this title for review



SBBS: Day 24 ~ Lara Zielin

Spring Break Blog Spectacular ~ Lara Zielin interview and The Waiting Sky giveaway


Please help me in welcoming today's guest, Lara Zielin! Enjoy my interview with Lara - and see if you love her answers as much as I do. And if you're left not only wanting to read her books (there's a giveaway of The Waiting Sky at the end of the post and I'll have a review closer to the release date) but also kind of wanting her to plan a trip for you - or write some sort of road trip book ;-)


Interview:


Ideal spring break destination: ski chalet or tropical beach villa? Beach villa all the way! I honestly don't know why I've lived in the  Midwest so long, I was clearly born with saltwater in my veins. Also?  I look like a chicken on crack when I wear skis.


In high school/college which was more likely spotting you on MTV’s  Spring Break or just you and your friends savoring the week off? *falls over laughing at the idea of self on MTV* <--I was SO not cool  enough for that. My friends and I were more apt to go to Roswell.  Nerds rule!


What was your favorite Spring Break ever (where and/or why)? Or if you didn't go on Spring Break trips, where did you always want to go? See also: New Mexico, Roswell. I loved that spring break trip, which I  took with girlfriends our junior year of college. We drove from  Minnesota to Tucson, and then all around in between. We saw the Grand Canyon, a Flintstone's museum, that crazy place where four states meet  in one spot, and we also reenacted most of Titanic. It was the  greatest trip ever.

Fly and have the fun be at the destination or road trip and have the journey be at least half the fun? Road trip! Every time. My husband and I recently road-tripped from  Michigan to the Florida Keys. It was awesome.


Do any of your characters take Spring Break trips? Not really. Most of my characters are working class, and money is usually tight. So they have to get creative at spring break time, versus being handed a trip to Cancun.


Where would their ideal Spring Break destination be? (Together or on their own.) Jane is the main character in my latest book, The Waiting Sky, and I think her ideal spring break would be somewhere really peaceful and serene. Her life is pretty chaotic, so anything she can do to get a
moment's peace would be great for her.

Which of your characters (in The Waiting Sky or anything  you’re working on) would you most have liked to have met on a Spring Break trip?
I would like to hang out with Emma, the protagonist in my first book, Donut Days. She's an up-for-anything kind of girl, and I love her sense of humor. In Donut Days' she wasn't afraid to climb on the back of a Harley with a giant of a man she'd just met. Girlfriend is fearless!

Best book to read on Spring Break or a road trip? I love historical fiction, and finding that perfect blend of story and  history makes for an AMAZING read. I loved The Lost Summer of Louisa May Alcott by Kelly O'Connor McNees, as well as Keeping the House by Ellen Baker. I heart anything by Philippa Gregory too. Losing yourself in the past is a great way to spend spring break, if you ask me!

Thank you!


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About The Waiting Sky
(out August 2 ~ Putnam Juvenile)
One summer chasing tornadoes could finally change Jane's life for the better

Seventeen-year-old Jane McAllister can't quite admit her mother's alcoholism is spiraling dangerously out of control until she drives drunk, nearly killing them and Jane's best friend.

Jane has only one place to turn: her older brother Ethan, who left the problems at home years ago for college. A summer with him and his tornado-chasing buddies may just provide the time and space Jane needs to figure out her life and whether it still includes her mother. But she struggles with her anger at Ethan for leaving home and feels guilty--is she also abandoning her mom just when she needs Jane most? The carefree trip turned journey of self-discovery quickly becomes more than Jane bargained for, especially when the devilishly handsome Max steps into the picture.
on Goodreads, Book DepositoryAmazon

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find more about Lara Zielin: on her website, @larazielin, or her site's blog


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Giveaway:


Thanks to to Putnam, there is a giveaway of The Waiting Sky! Open internationally (as long as UPS ships to you). . . .and thanks to Lara Zielin, there is a giveaway of a set of tornado print note cards that are not only gorgeous but fit perfectly with The Waiting Sky - this one's open to the US only.
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