Monday, February 28, 2011

Book Review: The Midnight Tunnel


A mysterious adventure of self-discovery that reveals shocking secrets!

It is 1905 and young Suzanna works at her family's inn in Loch Harbor, New Brunswick, where she is trained to be a well-mannered hostess and a charming lady. Suzanna has other ideas for her future--she wants to be a detective. When a young guest goes missing on a stormy summer night, Suzanna's famous detective uncle, and idol, comes to solve the case. But Suzanna learns that not everything is as it seems. With a little help from her friends, can she solve the mystery of the missing girl before her uncle gives up?

--From Goodreads


Cover Inspection:
I LOVE this cover! It is dark, brooding, and yet completely intriguing. If you didn't know Suzanna worked in an inn you wouldn't know why she is coming out the wall either!

First Thoughts:
Suzanna seems like my kind of girl. Smart, and slightly accident prone.

***

My Review:
Suzanna, or Zanna as she prefers, was one of the most fun, intelligent and witty young protagonists that I've had the pleasure of reading in a long time. Angie Frazier aims The Midnight Tunnel at the middle grade reader, but what I loved is that she didn't sacrifice anything to do that. This book has tons of crossover appeal, and anyone who loves a good mystery coupled with historical fiction will fall in love. Beware the rambling my friends, so it begins.

First let me tell you why I loved Suzanna so much. Her mother and father want her to be a well behaved young woman. They hope that she will follow in their footsteps and want to run the inn. Unfortunately for them, and fortunately for us, Suzanna has a much different path in mind! She wants to be a world renown detective like her Uncle Bruce. For that, I love her. She's a little bit rebel, and a whole lot of trouble without meaning to be. I instantly fell in love with her wit, her inability to stay away from trouble, and her downright brilliant deductions! Young or old, readers will definitely find something to connect to in her character.

In terms of story, as I mentioned above there is an entire mystery wrapped up in these pages! When a young guest goes missing, Suzanna takes it upon herself to unravel the mystery. Those of you who are older readers might be worried that this book will be too "young" for you. Let me tell you this. I read mystery novels and I generally solve mystery novels about half way through. This one? I was guessing until almost the very end. As I said, Angie Frazier doesn't sacrifice one bit for her audience. I like that she doesn't find it necessary to "dumb things down" for a middle grade reader. Utterly fantastic. I wish I could say more, but I've already had to delete so much to keep this spoiler free.

I ended up having to put The Midnight Tunnel down for a few days last week to take care of other commitments, and I tell you that it killed me to do it! I kept wondering how everything was going to end. What Angie Frazier has written here is a stunning mystery that is wrapped up in a very middle grade friendly package. I enjoyed each and every minute of this book and I can't wait to read the next one! I know Suzanna will keep on doing her detective work, and I'll be there to follow along.



Book Details
Title: The Midnight Tunnel (Suzanna Snow #1)
Author: Angie Frazier
Publisher: Scholastic Press
Pages: Hardcover; 288
Source: Received for promotional tour.
FTC Disclosure: I received a review copy of this book in exchange for a fair and honest review.


Final Rating: 5 Keys to My Heart

Sunday, February 27, 2011

This or That? with Jason Ancona!

Today I am once again super pleased to welcome Jason Ancona to my blog! I've had the privilage of reviewing both of his books that are out so far, and Debugging Tori Redding was one of my favorite reads of last month.

As a special treat, today Jason will share some of his favorites with us in a game of This or That? I'll give him the floor!


***
1. Light side, or dark side of the force? 
 Light. Luke and Yoda all the way.

2. Paper books or ebooks? 
 ebooks. I'm a gadget guy. The future is here.

3. Indoors or outdoors? 
 Outdoors. Spend most of my time indoors, working on my writer paleness.

4. Beach or the mountains? 
Beach.

5. Chocolate or fruit flavors? 
 Chocolate. It's at the top of my food pyramid.

6. Shoes or sandals? 
 Sandals. Can't beat flip flops.

7. Pencil or pen? 
 Neither. My handwriting is unreadable. Keyboard, please.

8. Dogs or cats? 
 Yeah, I'm a cat guy. And now it's out there on the web for everyone to question my manhood. ;)







***

Question your manhood Jason? NEVER! 

Look at that little kitten right there, he's too cute for words. How can you dislike anyone who likes a cutie like that? LOL.

Thanks again Jason for stopping by!

For more info on Jason's books you can visit his site and check out the rest of the tour!

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Book Review: Drought

Ruby Prosser dreams of escaping the Congregation and the early-nineteenth century lifestyle that’s been practiced since the community was first enslaved.

She plots to escape the vicious Darwin West, his cruel Overseers, and the daily struggle to gather the life-prolonging Water that keeps the Congregants alive and gives Darwin his wealth and power. But if Ruby leaves, the Congregation will die without the secret ingredient that makes the Water special: her blood.

So she stays.

But when Ruby meets Ford, the new Overseer who seems barely older than herself, her desire for freedom is too strong. He’s sympathetic, irresistible, forbidden—and her only access to the modern world. Escape with Ford would be so simple, but can Ruby risk the terrible price, dooming the only world she’s ever known?

--From Goodreads


Cover Inspection:
I do really like the colors on this cover and how muted they are. The face that is transposed over the forest is pretty cool also.

First Thoughts:
I wonder who this Otto is...

***

My Review:
I've been sitting and trying to write this review for about the last 20 minutes, and I still don't know exactly how to express my feeling about this book. Disappointment reigns supreme right now, but I also have an appreciation for the writing in the book so I'm at war with myself. Be warned that the following review may be rather long and rambling. I'm going to try to explain everything I'm currently feeling.

First off, Drought definitely drew me in with its unique premise. I liked that Ruby and her community were trapped in an early-nineteenth century lifestyle because it gave the book an interesting twist. Their clothes were simple, their homes were simple, it was their lives that definitely weren't. Darwin West is their captor and he demands that they collect the water that heals and renews. He doesn't know the secret of how it is obtained, only that these people are the only ones who can collect it. All of that was pretty intriguing and led to a nicely paced plot.

What really threw me off was how flat all the characters felt to me. There is no emotion in the book nearly at all, expect for what Ruby feels towards Ford. These oppressed people all seem so okay with their stake in life that it drove me nuts! I wanted to scream at them, and sadly I slightly felt like they deserved their place in life if they weren't going to try to change things. It was only Ruby, who was deemed a rebel, who wanted anything different than what was given to her in life. Looking back I suppose this was important to the overall story at times, but it made for a very dry read.

My other issue was simply that there are so many questions unanswered at the end of the book. I'll admit that the real reason I actually read so fervently to the end wasn't because I was invested in the story or the characters, but because I really wanted to find out what was going on with Ruby's blood and the mysterious Otto. Unfortunately I wasn't given very much more information and I left the story behind feeling very dissatisfied. There isn't any hint toward a sequel either, so I'm kind of at a loss as to what actually is going on with these people in the story.

Long story short, I did like the writing and the setting of the story. It was interesting enough to keep me reading at the beginning. However the attitude and the cult mentality of the characters was dry very quickly, and I found myself lost in terms of understanding exactly what was going on wit them. Overall I'd say that I enjoyed this story enough to recommend it as a library read. I always say you might enjoy it more than I did!




Book Details
Title: Drought
Author: Pam Bachorz
Publisher: Egmont USA
Pages: Hardcover; 400
Source: Received for promotional tour.
FTC Disclosure: I received a review copy of this book in exchange for a fair and honest review.


Final Rating: 3 Keys to My Heart

Tracy Deebs - Guest Post & Giveaway!

Happy Saturday everyone!

Isn't this a gorgeous cover? I just thought I'd start off by saying that, because every time I see this cover I have to stop and stare. I'm loving the tattoos on the back! Click the book for more info.

Anyhow I digress. Tracy Deebs is stopping by my blog today to share a little bit more about her with you! The best part? She's bringing a giveaway to tempt you to read her book (pun totally intended).

Let's take a look at Tracy's Top 10 Favorite YA Books!


***


I love reading.  I love everything about reading, from the smell of the bookstore to how a book—or e-reader—feels in my hands to the absolute joy that comes from immersing myself in a great book.  Through the years, I’ve been priviledged to read tens of thousands of books, many of which made an impact on me.  Below is a list of a few of the books I’ve read and loved in the last year.

1.  Little Brother by Cory Doctorow (this book is one of the most amazing YAs I’ve read in a long time.  The protagonist is awesome—one of those characters you can just really get behind.

2. The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins (what’s not to love about this book—Katniss is amazing)

3. For the Win by Cory Doctorow (I learned more from this book than from almost any other fiction novel I’ve ever read)

4. Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger (Okay, so this year is not the first year I’ve read this book, but it’s still great.  I’ve read it at least once a year since I was sixteen and I love it more each time.  In fact, I collect Catcher in the Rye books—so far I have seventeen different versions of this novel)

5. Brainjacked by Brian Falkner (a really interesting concept that is executed brilliantly)

6. Before I Fall by Lauren Oliver (Need I say  more?  This is one of the most beautifully written YA novels I have ever read.  The prose is gorgeous and the story is really interesting as well)

7. Bloom by Elizabeth Scott (This was just a really sweet novel that appealed to me.  I whipped through it in a couple of hours and finished with a big smile on my face)

8. 13 Reasons Why by Jay Asher (If you haven’t read this book, read it.  Seriously.  It’s amazing.  AMAZING)

9. Feast of Fools by Rachel Caine (I’ve read all of the Morganville Vampire series—devoured, really—but this one is my favorite)

10. The Bodyfinder by Kimberley Derting (A really interesting concept that she does very well—I’ve got the sequel in my TBR pile)

***

So, what have you read this year that’s completely blown you away? Leave a comment to be entered to win this lovely Buxom Lipgloss in the shade of Tempest. Oh yes, that too is a pun!

(We're full of them.)

Make sure to leave your email address with your comment so I can contact you if you win! Tracy will be by periodically to answer questions, so feel free to ask some as well!

Giveaway ends March 6 at 11:30 pm PST.




Thursday, February 24, 2011

Like Mandarin: Talking with Taffeta!

I have a special treat for you today my friends! Kirsten Hubbard, author of Like Mandarin, is here! If you've missed out on adding her book to your Goodreads, you'd better go now. I'll wait.

Today I have Taffeta, Grace's sister, here for an interview. Keep in mind that Taffeta is quite the precocious little six year old. I for one adore her. Let's see if you do do too!



***

1. Hi Taffeta and welcome to my blog! Can you describe yourself for us in just one sentence?

I am Taffeta Carpenter and I am in kindergarten and I am six years old.



2. I know that at one point you wanted to change your name to Taffy, but Grace wouldn't agree. If you could change your name to anything right now, what would it be?

Probably Taffy the Incredible Magifercent.



3. Beauty pageants. Were they something that you enjoyed or that you did to please your mom?

I enjoy singing in the mikerphones, 'cause I can hear my music almost before I say it. I enjoy when I win, because Momma likes the trophies. The rest of it stinks. 'Specially the hairspray.



4. How would you describe Grace in one word? Your mom?

I dunno. She's my sister! My Grace. And my mom is my Momma.



5. It must be difficult to be the little sister. If you could give advice to Grace, what would you tell her?

I give Grace advice all the time. I tell her when her hair looks dumb. Or her face! I tell her she's not allowed to slam her bedroom door. I tell her she should stay home and play with me more so I can become a well-rounded individeral. She just never listens to me, is all.



6. Do you have a favorite food, Taffeta? How about a favorite color?

I would have to say giant chewy Sweet Tarts. Or snow cones. My favorite color would have to be pink—the color of bunny rabbits.



7. How would you describe Washokey?

Washokey? I dunno. It's where I live.



8. Thanks for meeting with me, you are fantastic! Last question. If there was a book written about your life, what do you think you would pick as a title for it?

It would be called: Taffy Carpenter, the fantastic tale of a brave little girl and her pet panda bear.

***


Isn't she just the cutest thing EVER? You can find more Taffeta, more Grace, and more Mandarin on the rest of The Teen {Book} Scene tour! Just click the banner above. Check back soon for an interview, but in the meantime here is some more info about the book!


It's hard finding beauty in the badlands of Washokey, Wyoming, but 14-year-old Grace Carpenter knows it's not her mother's pageant obsessions, or the cowboy dances adored by her small-town classmates. True beauty is wild-girl Mandarin Ramey: 17, shameless and utterly carefree. Grace would give anything to be like Mandarin.

When they're united for a project, they form an unlikely, explosive friendship, packed with nights spent skinny-dipping in the canal, liberating the town's animal-head trophies, and searching for someplace magic. Grace plays along when Mandarin suggests they run away together. Blame it on the crazy-making wildwinds plaguing their badlands town.

Because all too soon, Grace discovers Mandarin's unique beauty hides a girl who's troubled, broken, and even dangerous. And no matter how hard Grace fights to keep the magic, no friendship can withstand betrayal.


Vanish Cover REVEALED! *GASP*

Okay, okay, although I'd love to believe that you're all here to see little old me...I know what you're really here for. You want in on some of this VANISH cover action don't you? Yup, you're here for some eye candy. So let me give it to you sooner than later shall I?


GASP, right? Isn't it just so lovely that you want to make out with it? Or is that just me....sorry. I'm in LOVE!

Now that you're in gorgeous cover shock, and possibly twitching on the floor due to entirely too much beauteous Jacinda love, let me share the official book summary with you as well! 

To save the life of the boy she loves, Jacinda did the unthinkable: She betrayed the most closely-guarded secret of her kind. Now she must return to the protection of her pride knowing she might never see Will again—and worse, that because his mind has been shaded, Will’s memories of that fateful night and why she had to flee are gone.
 
Back home, Jacinda is greeted with hostility and must work to prove her loyalty for both her sake and her family’s. Among the few who will even talk to her are Cassian, the pride’s heir apparent who has always wanted her, and her sister, Tamra, who has been forever changed by a twist of fate.  Jacinda knows that she should forget Will and move on—that if he managed to remember and keep his promise to find her, it would only endanger them both. Yet she clings to the hope that someday they will be together again. When the chance arrives to follow her heart, will she risk everything for love?
 
In bestselling author Sophie Jordan’s dramatic follow-up to Firelight, forbidden love burns brighter than ever.

Yes, yes it is awesome. Please tell me I'm not the only one who is simply dying of impatience for this book to show up on shelves? ACK! Go forth and share! PLEASE! Take this cover, post it to the ends of the Earth. It's beauty should not be allowed to be hidden. 

NOW STOP STARING AND LOOK HERE.

Yes I'm sorry, I pulled you away. I promise it is for a great reason though! We have, up for grabs, three signed copies of FIRELIGHT for you to win! Yes, we'd love to have Vanish ARCs, but they aren't out yet. So instead Sophie has sweetly offered up some personalized copies of the book that started it all.

To enter, make sure you visit the six blogs below who posted teaser pictures yesterday! You'll want to collect  a word from each blog, until you have six total. That will be your entry into the giveaway. Want another entry? Figure out what order the words go in, you sleuth you! 

Here are the blogs in case you missed them:

HINT: It's the tagline of the book. Three sentences. Two words each.

Fill out THIS FORM to be officially entered once you've collected your words! This form is also on A Good Addiction and Books Complete Me, but they are all the same. Please enter only once no matter which blog you enter through.

Comments are appreciated but not counted as entries! Feel free to gush over the cover and let Sophie know how awesome you really think it is!

Contest is U.S./Canada only and ends March 6, 2011.



Tuesday, February 22, 2011

I Am J: Interviewing J

Today I am honored to have Cris Beam, author of the upcoming I Am J, on my blog! Her book truly touched my heart, and taught me so much more about the inner battle that transgender teens face. It was an amazing read.

To those of you who may not have heard of this book before, I'll also be reviewing it this coming Thursday! Until then you can find book info at the bottom of the page.

Let's take a look at J, the main character, and learn a bit more.


***

1) Welcome J, and thanks for stopping by. What word do you think best describes you?

Parallax! It’s this really cool word that means something that changes depending on how you look at it, depending on where you’re standing.


2) Photography is your passion, correct? How did you get started in photography? 

It’s kind of stupid, but I was at my cousin’s wedding in Puerto Rico. She had all these disposable cameras on all the tables; we were supposed to be taking pictures of the party, but me and my other cousin who was like ten years old stole one and staged these different photographs of a pretend murder. We spilled wine on a tablecloth to look like blood, showed an empty shoe with a knife in it, stuff like that. That was when I realized you could use pictures to tell any kind of story you wanted. The bride wanted one kind of story, but we could manipulate the images to tell a different story, something more sinister, and I liked that. I think the bride cousin got my pictures developed with all the rest of the instant cameras on the table, and I don’t know what she thought; she never talked to me again. 


3) Melissa plays a big role in the story of your life, but there are so many others as well. Who did you feel was most important in your journey? 

It’s hard to pick who was most important, because everybody helped make me who I am, and who I’m still becoming. I mean, Chanelle and Zak helped me most directly with my transition and that was really important, but Melissa also was there in her own way. And she helped me stay connected to my old life, and my anger, which was kind of a fuel, you know? 


4) If you had to choose one item to leave behind as a marker of your life, which item would you choose? 

My sleeping bag! I already got rid of that smelly old thing, and I was so glad the day I threw it away. For me, it marks the time I didn’t have a home, and I felt like I didn’t have a home for, like, forever, even though I was living with Melissa. One day soon I’ll have a better marker, like a photograph I’ve taken, or something I’m really proud of that represents me, but for now, that sleeping bag marks the period in my life when I went through my biggest change. And now I kind of want to let that go and move on.


5) After everything that you've been through, is there anything that you regret? Anything that you would choose to do differently? 

Regrets? Do you have all week? I regret so much. I regret being an asshole to a lot of people. I was a dick to Melissa when she was trying her best not to be selfish, and trying to understand me and everything. And I regret not transitioning earlier. I mean I had to do it when I was ready, but looking back, I think I could have handled it like when I was a sophomore. I’ve met people who did it that young, and I think it would have been easier. And I regret not trusting my instincts more with my dad, and being afraid. I could have reached out to him instead of waiting for him to come to me. Then all that mess wouldn’t have happened, and maybe we wouldn’t be trying to bridge so much awkward crap now. I don’t know though. Hindsight’s 20-20, right?


6) Lastly, I was wondering if you have a message for the young people out there who are fighting the same inward battle that you did. What advice would you give them? 

Yeah, don’t run away unless you know you have somewhere to go. It’s harder than you think, or at least it was for me. And trust yourself. Only you know what’s true about your own gender, even if it doesn’t match anybody else’s expectations or language. Even if it doesn’t have a language yet! You’ll find the words that fit, and then the actions—or the actions and then the words. The order doesn’t matter so much. It’s more about the faith.

***


"Hola, Jeni."

J spun. His stomach clenched hard, as though he'd been hit. It was just the neighbor lady, Mercedes. J couldn't muster a hello back, not now; he didn't care that she'd tell his mom he'd been rude. She should know better. Nobody calls me Jeni anymore.

J always felt different. He was certain that eventually everyone would understand who he really was: a boy mistakenly born as a girl. Yet as he grew up, his body began to betray him; eventually J stopped praying to wake up a "real boy" and started covering up his body, keeping himself invisible - from his family, from his friends...from the world. But after being deserted by the best friend he thought would always be by his side, J decides that he's done hiding - it's time to be who he really is. And this time he is determined not to give up, no matter the cost.

An inspiring story of self-discovery, of choosing to stand up for yourself, and of finding your own path - readers will recognize a part of themselves in J's struggle to love his true self.


Book Review: Blue


Chris Astor is a man in his early forties who is going through the toughest stretch of his life. Becky is Chris's fourteen-year-old daughter, a girl who overcame enormous challenges to become a vibrant, vital young woman - and now faces her greatest obstacle yet. Miea is the young queen of a fantasy land that Becky and Chris created when Becky was little, a fantasy land that has developed a life of its own and now finds itself in terrible, maybe fatal trouble. Together, Chris, Becky, and Miea need to uncover a secret. The secret to why their worlds have joined at this moment. The secret to their purpose. The secret to the future. It is a secret that, when discovered, will redefine imagination for all of them. Blue is a novel of trial and hope, invention and rediscovery. It might very well take you someplace you never knew existed.

--From Goodreads


Cover Inspection:
It's such an ambiguous cover, but the colors are gorgeous. Plus it peaked my interest as to what might be inside.


First Thoughts:
This seems like the type of story that is going to need tissues to go with.


***


My Review:
Going into Blue I honestly really wasn't sure what I should expect. I knew that the main character's daughter was ill, and I was hoping that this wasn't just a sad book. I've never minded a bit of a tearjerker, but books like that are always a tough read. Happily, I was genuinely surprised at the way that Blue is actually written. Lou Aronica doesn't really dwell on the fact that Becky is sick, but instead uses it as a jumping off point for the rest of this beautifully written story. I read this 400 page book in one night. I just couldn't bring myself to put it down.


Story wise, this book is an absolutely superb mixture of realistic and fantasy elements. The world of Tamarisk is stunningly imagined, and Aronica's writing draws you right in to this fantasy world. The characters, the landscape, even the melodies that were said to exist in this land, were right there in front of you. I fell in love. Still, there is enough realism about the problems that Meia and her subjects face that you really begin to care for them as much as Chris and Becky. Did I mention this was superb? Really, I was so truly impressed.


Character wise, Becky is such a fantastic character in this book. She is extremely strong, kind and extremely likeable as a main character. Her interactions with the characters around her was what I enjoyed the most though. Becky's ability to be sweet one moment and snide the next is exactly what I would expect from a young adult character. As for her father, Chris was also extremely well written. Although I couldn't connect with him as much as I did with Becky, since I haven't been through parenthood or any of the trials that Chris had to face, I did appreciate how realistically he was portrayed. Watching him rebuild his relationship with Becky was heartwarming, and yes, I did need those tissues for a bit.


Blue is a book that really spoke to me. It is very much about rekindling relationships, and building them even stronger around a shared understanding. It is about hope, and remembering that imagination is everything. Blue somehow manages to be sad and yet uplifting at the same time. I definitely recommend this to all my readers. If you are a lover of the fantasy genre, you'll find Tamarisk fascinating. If you are not, you'll still fall in love with Chris and Becky. There is something to enjoy for every reader in this book. Guaranteed to leave you breathless.



Book Details
Title: Blue
Author: Lou Aronica
Publisher: The Fiction Studio
Pages: Paperback; 400
Source: Received for review.
FTC Disclosure: I received a review copy of this book in exchange for a fair and honest review.


Final Rating: 5 Keys to My Heart

Monday, February 21, 2011

Children's Book Review: Peas and Bananas: Outside with Lil Boo




Media Type: Print Book
Title: Peas and Bananas - Outside with Lil Boo
Author: Daddy Bookins
Publisher: Booklocker
Pages: Paperback; 32
Release Date: Not disclosed.
Source: Author
-----------------------------------------------------
Recommended to: Parents look for charming alphabet books to read with their little ones.

Difficulty Level: Entry level readers will do great with this book. The rhyme helps with learning repetition and there are so many fun words to say.

Add it on: Goodreads / B&N

Experience a creative journey through the curious eyes of a little boy playing outside. Follow Lil Boo and his imaginary friend, Onote, from the letters A to Z in a fascinating rhyming adventure.

Lil Boo and his imaginary friend Onote, who is an adorable elephant, take a journey outside and find things that start with all the letters of the alphabet. The words are silly and fun, and the rhyming aspect of it makes it an excellent book for young children! Beware, tongue twisters abound! It makes it really enjoyable to read. I especially liked how there were many new words, foods and items introduced to the children as they read.

We all know that the illustrations are what make a really superb picture book. In this case the illustrator knew exactly what they were doing! The pictures are colorful, fun and filled with action. They have the look of pictures that may have been drawn by a child. Even as an adult, these illustrations drew me in. A must own for any parent with emerging readers who love picture books!


Rating: 5 Keys to My Heart




FTC Disclosure: I received a copy of this book in exchange for a fair and honest review. I was not monetarily compensated for my opinion.

Book Review: The Big Show Stopper



Media Type: Print Book
Title: The Big Show Stopper
Author: Ken Dalton
Publisher: Different Drummer Press
Pages: Paperback; 296
Release Date: September 26, 2010
Source: Promotional Tour
------------------------------------------
Genre: Mystery/Thriller

HDB Rating: 4 Keys to My Heart

Recommended to: Readers who enjoy a good mystery


Add it on: Goodreads / Shelfari / Amazon / B&N
The Big Show Stopper opens in a packed concert arena with everyone waiting for the entrance of Brady Blackstone, the richest, and premier concert performer in America. But before Brady sets his foot on the stage, a tragic accident takes his life in front of Bear and a devastated Flo. However, it does not take Bear and Flo very long to question if the death was it an accident or murder?

I'm becoming more and more a fan of a good mystery, and The Big Show Stopper definitely satisfied that itch for me. I'll be honest that I wasn't quite sure what to expect with characters named Pinky and Bear involved, but I hoped that it would be related to snarky humor and innuendos. Oh, how right I was! Thank you so much Ken Dalton for fulfilling that for me.

As a a mystery, The Big Show Stopper is one that definitely doesn't disappoint. The plot is fast moving, and Dalton knows how to throw just enough twists into the mix to keep you guessing. I liked how this mystery really follows the "recipe" if you will for a good story. Take one famous person, murder him, then have several possible suspects for your characters to investigate. Pinky, Bear and Flo definitely had their hands full with this one. I thought I had the mystery solved, and then I'd suddenly realize that I was completely off. Ah, mystery. How I love you as a genre.

Pinky, Bear and Flo are fantastic characters. In fact, they are really what makes the book so great! Yes, the mystery is good, but without the interaction between these characters I don't think I would have been half as invested in reading on as I was. Their sarcasm and actions towards one another is extremely realistic, and they play off one another beautifully. We have Pinky, the greedy lawyer, Bear, the smooth talking PI, and then Flo, who is Bear's girlfriend and also a heck of a sleuth. I thought the three of them together were the perfect blend of sarcasm, humor, and realism.

My one gripe, and this a small thing in the grand scheme of things, was Flo. She wasn't exactly the nicest person to Bear most times, and she jumped on him about the tiniest things. I can't really remember how many times she threatened to leave him in the book. As I've always said, I know I won't love every character, so I kind of wrote it off to enjoy the overall book. Like I mentioned above, Flo is pretty evened out by the other two characters anyway. I guess I just really liked Bear and wanted him to be treated better. Yup, it's just little old me talking here.

Anyway enough rambling. Suffice it to say that The Big Show Stopper is well worth your time, whether you are a long time mystery lover or brand new to the genre! I didn't mention it before but this actually is the second book in a series. It doesn't matter much, as you can completely read this as a standalone. Just be warned that you'll end up wanting the first book. 

With a mixture of humor and downright good mystery, this book will be sure to have you reading long into the night.




FTC Disclosure: I received a review copy of this book in exchange for a fair and honest review.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

You know you have a book addiction when...

...you're staring at this, with 4 shelves of books left to sort through and catalog, and all you can think of is how many books you still don't have yet. In fact going to Border's for their liquidation sale even crossed my mind. I must be crazy, right?



Am I ashamed of my book addiction? Nah. In fact all this feeling did was remind me of why I love the book blogging community. I know that I can post this and you'll all just nod your heads. We are all the same in our love for these delicious paper delicacies.

I found a group of people who feel the same way that I do :). Yay for obsession in groups!

Now if you'll excuse me, it's back to sorting and cataloging. I'm going to be parting with a lot of these soon so keep any eye out for a list or a link to wherever I put them. Buy, trade, whatever. I'm looking forward to sending some of these to new homes soon :).

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Random Books: The Storm Edition


I haven't done this in a while, but I finally have a day to myself and I missed this feature :). Basically this is a feature where I pick 3 books that fit a theme, and then share them with you.

***

Today's theme is storms!
(Since one just passed over us with a vengeance.)

***

Orokos is a city of chaos, lashed by probability storms that re-order the world wherever they strike. It covers every inch of the rocky island that it dominates. It has stood for so long that history has forgotten it, and its citizens no longer question what exists beyond its walls. Then three of its denizens discover a map that holds the key to the secret at the heart of Orokos. But there are others, such as the Chief of the Protectorate Secret Police who would do anything to get their hands on that power...anything at all...
--From Goodreads

What first caught my eye about this book was the cover. It's dark, brooding and  honestly kind of terrifying! Then I was drawn in the concept of probability storms. What is a probability storm? Does it actually like reorganize the whole world and the people in it? This book is now on my radar and my library list!

***

In Kansas in the year 1937, eleven-year-old Jack Clark faces his share of ordinary challenges: local bullies, his father’s failed expectations, a little sister with an eye for trouble. But he also has to deal with the effects of the Dust Bowl, including rising tensions in his small town and the spread of a shadowy illness. Certainly a case of "dust dementia" would explain who (or what) Jack has glimpsed in the Talbot’s abandoned barn — a sinister figure with a face like rain. In a land where it never rains, it’s hard to trust what you see with your own eyes — and harder still to take heart and be a hero when the time comes.
--From Goodreads


Okay somehow I missed this book and it won the Scott O'Dell award? *gasp* I need to read this stat! Not to mention the fact that I completely love the cover and the premise. Jack Clark sounds like my kind of hero for sure.

***

Fin is devastated by guilt when his sister, Ella, is kidnapped. She is snatched away from the house in the middle of a storm. As the kidnappers make their demands, Fin's guilt is replaced by a fierce determination to find his sister by whatever means he can, and bring the criminals to justice. But as the drama unfolds, a complex web of family secrets is revealed. It emerges that Ella's kidnapping is revenge for mistakes Fin's father made, years before. The consequences will change all their lives forever.
--From Goodreads

Kidnapping? Family secrets? Not to mention the really fascinating cover. Yes, I do believe that this book is for me! I'm intrigued by the combination of reviews it has gotten too. You know me, always a sucker for books with drama surrounding them.

***

Well that's it for today! Three new books to put on my radar, and hopefully I've peaked your interest in them as well! Stay warm and dry my friends. I'll see you tomorrow!

For your viewing pleasure....

Interview, Guest Post and Review links are all current and contain the archives from last year.

Enjoy!

Friday, February 18, 2011

It's GIVEAWAY time!

Did you miss me?

Well I don't mean miss me, miss me. I was posting. It's just I feel so impersonal when I throw a ton of reviews at you all, one after another, without saying hi from my crazy little self.

Yeah I'm all touchy feely like that :).

SO I thought I'd do another giveaway for you, my amazing readers!

If you are new to my blog, first off HI! Second, thanks for putting up with my insanity. Third, I like giveaways. A lot. They make me happy inside. Like you know that bubbly, butterfly feeling you get when something is really going your way? Yup, it's like that!

This week I have two copies of Laura Lippman's The Girl In the Green Raincoat up for grabs!

U.S./Canada Only.
(Unless you are overseas and willing to pay shipping! I'll put a spot for you on the form.)

Giveaway ends February 26th at 11:30 pm PST.

To enter, fill out this form
Okay? Easy peasy! 
Comments are much appreciated, but do not count as entries!

ENJOY!

Book Review: This Book Is Overdue!



Media Type: Print Book
Title: This Book is Overdue!
Author: Marilyn Johnson
Publisher: Harper
Pages: Hardcover; 272
Release Date: February 2, 2010
Source: Received for promotional tour
-----------------------------------------
Genre: Non-Fiction

HDB Rating: 3 Keys to My Heart

Recommended to: Potential librarians, people looking for more information into the world of libraries.


Add it on: Goodreads / Shelfari / Amazon / B&N
Buried in info? Cross-eyed over technology? From the bottom of a pile of paper and discs, books, e-books, and scattered thumb drives comes a cry of hope: Make way for the librarians! They want to help. They're not selling a thing. And librarians know best how to beat a path through the googolplex sources of information available to us, writes Marilyn Johnson, whose previous book, The Dead Beat, breathed merry life into the obituary-writing profession.

This Book Is Overdue! is a romp through the ranks of information professionals and a revelation for readers burned out on the clichÉs and stereotyping of librarians.

Blunt and obscenely funny bloggers spill their stories in these pages, as do a tattooed, hard-partying children's librarian; a fresh-scrubbed Catholic couple who teach missionaries to use computers; a blue-haired radical who uses her smartphone to help guide street protestors; a plethora of voluptuous avatars and cybrarians; the quiet, law-abiding librarians gagged by the FBI; and a boxing archivist.

I think I was a little confused as to what This Book is Overdue! was really going to contain when I first picked it up. My expectation was that I would learn a little more about what librarians do for us, hear some funny stories, and maybe giggle a little bit. Instead I was ultimately a little lost, because there is a lot of very dense, albeit interesting, technical information in this book. I ultimately ended up skimming a lot of those parts. Too much information overload for one day I think.

However as a source for a comprehensive view of the librarian world today, this is a great book. I did find a lot to love. The book covers everything from community librarians and their experiences with ever changing circulation systems, to research librarians and the way that the web has influenced them. The reader is introduced to influential librarians over the course of history as well. If you are a librarian fan, or perhaps a librarian yourself, I'm sure that you'll really find some of these chapters interesting. Actually, the chapter that caught my eye the most was all about cyber librarians. There are librarians on Second Life? Who knew!

As a person who is not herself a librarian (although I'd love to be!) I found this book to be a little information heavy for my taste. It is one that I will definitely keep for later, and likely pass around, but at the moment it didn't speak to me as much as I would have liked it to. As I said before if you are a librarian, you might find more to love in this book. I do recommend you give it a read and find out for yourself!



FTC Disclosure: I received a copy of this book in exchange for a fair and honest review. I was not monetarily compensated for my opinion.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

This or That? with Daniel Walls

Today I'm happy to have Daniel Walls on my blog! If you didn't see my earlier review of The Vyne, I suggest you take a look. Fans of steampunk and fantasy are going to love this one!

On this post, Daniel will be sharing some of the things that he loves in a This or That? post. Enjoy, and thanks to Daniel for stopping by!




1. Coffee or tea?
Coffee – This is actually a tough one as I am trying to drink less coffee and more tea. (More and more they’re becoming a toss-up.)

2. Hardback or paperback books?
Paperback – I think, like a lot of people, I have a soft spot for hardback books. And if there’s a book I know I want to keep indefinitely, I will most likely go with hardback. However, in light of sustainability, I most often go with paperback books, which is why I decided to only offer The Vyne in paperback.

3. Indoors or outdoors?
Outdoors – There really is no substitute.

4. Ocean or swimming pool?
Ocean – As a Midwesterner, if I’m swimming in the ocean, that means I’m on the coast, and most likely somewhere far warmer than Minnesota. So the ocean is always a good thing for me.

5. Hard candy or chewy candy?
Chewy Candy – I really don’t like candy unless it’s chocolate. So if that falls into the “chewy” category, then I’m all about it.

6. Shoes or Sandals?
Sandals – Again, living in the Midwest, if I’m in sandals, it means one of two things: it’s either summer, or I’m on vacation!

7. Pencil or pen?
Both – This is kind of a tough one. It’s pencil all the way for illustrating and pen all the way when I’m writing. And I love to do both.

8. Cook dinner, or eat out?
Cook Dinner – As much as I love to go out to dinner with my wife, we have more fun cooking together. She’s an incredible cook and continues to teach me more and more about cooking all of the time. I love to try to recreate amazing meals I’ve eaten in other cultures I’ve visited.

Thanks again Daniel!

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Book Review: Human Blend


Escaping from them had been difficult enough, now Laney needs to keep hidden. All she wanted was to be on her own. Laney is not like other girls... she has very special abilities that set her apart from others. How or why she came about these abilities is a mystery she has yet to unfold.

Haunted by memories and flashbacks of the suffering she endured at the hands of her captors, she changes her appearance and hides out in a small town. Ignoring her own warnings, she begins a relationship with a local boy.

--See more at Goodreads

Cover Inspection:
The cover is interesting, although it looks to me more like the cover for a horror story.

First Thoughts:
Laney (Julie) seems interesting enough!

***

My Review:
Human Blend was one of those books that caught my attention early on. Laney, or Julie as she is known as most of the book, was an endearing character who chose to use her special abilities for good. On the run from men who want to use her abilities for their own devices. When I first met Laney I was drawn in by her sweet disposition, and the way she seemed to mesh so quickly with everything around her. Although her past was dark, she was determined to start anew.

The unfortunate part about Laney's personality though, is that she is torn. There is the girl who wants to start anew and let people into her life, and then the girl who remembers her dark past and is afraid to trust. I was a little thrown off sometimes at how often these two parts of the same character seemed to switch back and forth. For instance Laney seems to have absolutely no issue with allowing Austin into her life and falling almost instantly for him. However she also doesn't seem to want to share herself with them. I don't know, it all seemed a bit too convenient to me how they met and fell for one another so fast.

In fact, people seem to flit in and out of Laney's life with the greatest of ease in this book. You know in a movie when there is a window conveniently nearby as soon as the actor needs one? That is Laney's life. As soon as she needs someone to be there, they happen to appear. Just when I was reading and confused as to what exactly was going on in her life, someone appeared to explain it to me. It's not that I wasn't intrigued by the way that Pescatore implemented Laney's gift, I was. The author shares just enough information to keep you reading, and then lets on as to just what the characters are towards the middle. It was a nice way to keep me reading. I just felt that I never really got to know Laney fully because she was constantly being overshadowed by the other characters and their abilities.

My other issue with this book was simply the typos. I realize that this is a self published book, but it was extremely distracting to find those. As a person who edits papers as a job, they popped off the page at me and made it hard for me to read on. Just as I was immersed in Laney's world and starting to feel a part of the story I'd notice a typo, or a massive change in the tense of the sentence, and be pulled right back out. I suppose that is a testament as to why editors are so very important.

I'll end here. The fact remains that I did enjoy Human Blend in terms of the premise and the abilities that are shared with the reader. However the romance aspect and the typos made it difficult for me to fully get into. I think with a little more polishing, Lori Pescatore's book has the opportunity to become a real gem. If you can look past the surface you'll find yourself immersed in Laney's world, and it's not a bad place to be.




Book Details
Title: Human Blend
Author: Lori Pescatore
Publisher: Self-published
Pages: Paperback; 234
Source: Received for review.
FTC Disclosure: I received a review copy of this book in exchange for a fair and honest review.


Final Rating: 3 Keys to My Heart

Monday, February 14, 2011

Book Review: The Long Weekend

Sam knows that he and his friend Lloyd made a colossal mistake when they accepted the ride home. They have ended up in a dark mansion in the middle of nowhere with man who means to harm them. But Sam doesn't know how to get them out. They were trapped, then separated. Now they are alone. Will either of them get out alive? This gripping and hypnotic thriller will have you reading late into the night.

--From Goodreads




Cover Inspection:
Isn't this the most foreboding cover you've ever seen? Phew. It sends shivers up my spine.

First Thoughts:
Poor poor Lloyd and Sam...

***

My Review:
The highest compliment I can give Savita Kalhan's book? The Long Weekend made my skin crawl. I'm not generally easily affected by books or movies, but this book had me literally sitting on the edge of the couch and reading with terrified fervor. There is so much pent up action in this book, so much well-written suspense, that you will absolutely not be able to put this book down. If you pick it up, prepare to throw yourself in for the long haul! It's going to be hard for me to review this book without being vague, so pardon me. I don't want to give anything away that you need to experience for yourself!

Sam and Lloyd are our main characters, and I fell into step with them as soon as I started reading. Kalhan builds two amazingly vivid characters that will capture your attention and make you feel for them. Trust me, I was rooting for the two of them so hard that if they had been real, chances are I would have jumped in to save them. Watching these two young boys deal with such a terrifying experience in two entirely different ways was so tough, but so intriguing. I throughly enjoyed how Kalhan shows their bravery, but remains true to their age by showing their scared sides and weaknesses as well.

What I really liked was how much Sam changed throughout the book. As an 11 year old boy, he starts out the story kind of just tagging along behind his friend. He doesn't seem to be that confident in himself. However as the story progresses, we see Sam grow into a much older character. The need to survive creates a brand new person who, quite honestly, I was extremely impressed with. The Sam that we are given at the end of the book is a much different, much more grown up Sam.

Reader be warned, although the characters in this book are young, this is not a book for the faint of heart. There isn't anything in it that is outrightly inappropriate for a younger reader, but there is enough illusion to it to make it uncomfortable. On top of that, as I mentioned above, this book is fast paced and at times extremely tough to read. I'd recommend that parents screen the book for younger readers, or read it with them so you can talk about it together.

Honestly, I loved every suspenseful and action filled minute of The Long Weekend. It is hands down one of my favorite books of this year so far! Sam and Lloyd, you have my heart boys. I can't wait to sing this book's praises around my circle of friends.



Book Details
Title: The Long Weekend
Author: Savita Kalhan
Publisher: Andersen Press Ltd.
Pages: Paperback; 192
Source: Received for promotional tour.
FTC Disclosure: I received a review copy of this book in exchange for a fair and honest review.


Final Rating: 5 Keys to My Heart

Reading Recap!

Since I have a small amount of down time right now and I've reviewed a ton of books this week, I thought it might be a good time for a reading recap :). I always mean to do this, but it gets away from me.

I guess tonight my inability to fall asleep actually works in my favor! Go figure huh?



This past week I read/reviewed:

* The Devil's Star by Jo Nesbo
Great suspense/thriller read with a ton of twists and turns! 4/5
* Connie Cobbler: Toy Detective by James DeSalvo
Humor abounds in this well written and snarky mystery! 4/5
* Debugging Tori Redding by Jason Ancona
Funny, poignant and witty read about a teenage girl with special powers. 4/5
* The Vyne by Daniel Walls
A dark, brooding and suspenseful fantasy novel. 4/5
* Jazz In Love by Neesha Meminger
Light, and sweet read about an Indian girl growing up in American culture. 5/5
* Fallen Angel by Heather Terrell
A new take on angels, complete with romance and intrigue. 3/5
* Trapped by Michael Northrop
Teens struggle to survive while trapped in the biggest blizzard of their lives. 4/5

***

Coming up this week:

Monday - Later today I'll be reviewing Savita Kalhan's novel, The Long Weekend.

Tuesday - I will be reviewing Lori Pescatore's Human Blend.

Wednesday - Daniel Walls, author of The Vyne, stops by with a "This or That?" post.

Thursday - I'll be reviewing Blue by Lou Aronica.

Friday - I'll be reviewing This Book is Overdue by  Marilyn Johnson.

Saturday and Sunday - Oh MY GOSH. I have a free weekend! I don't know what I'll be posting these days honestly. Perhaps some random thoughts or another giveaway? You'll have to stop by to see!

***

Thanks for stopping by! Leave me a comment with your link and I'll visit your blog as well! Yay comment love!

 








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