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Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Interview with Sheila A. Nielson



Today I have with me the fantastic Sheila A. Nielson, upcoming debut author of the book Forbidden Sea. I'll have my review of her book up later this afternoon.


As a former children's librarian, how do you think working in such an environment has affected you as a writer?

I feel that being a librarian has affected my writing a great deal. The reason I chose to write a mermaid story in the first place is because so many children were coming into the library asking for mermaid books and we had very few to offer them. Even now, I find myself trying to think up future stories on subjects the library has a lot of need for. Talking to kids day in and day out also helped me to see the kinds of things they like, especially in the books they choose to read.

What was the inspiration behind your novel Forbidden Sea?

Because there were so few mermaid books available, I knew I wanted to write one, but didn't quite know where to start. I had another story I'd been thinking of writing, but it had a lot of plot problems--and no mermaid. Once I added the mermaid, the story just fell into place like magic. Figuring out what the merfolk would be like in my story was probably the best part of writing Forbidden Sea. As a very young child, I had loved the idea of mermaids but didn't like the way they were portrayed in traditional mythology. I used to imagine up all sorts of things about what I thought mermaids SHOULD be like. I ended up returning to these childhood ideas to create the merfolk in my story.

Is Forbidden Sea a stand-a-lone novel or will there be more forthcoming?

I originally meant the book to be a stand alone. But my writer's group felt there was just one important question left unanswered at the end of my story (which is a spoiler so I won't write about it here)and they wanted me to write a sequel about it. Because of this, I ended up writing an entire companion novel, which is almost complete. My editor told me that they will only be interested in seeing the sequel if Forbidden Sea sells well. So if you want to read the sequel, go out and buy Forbidden Sea! :)
What type of research did you do when writing Forbidden Sea?

I had to do all kinds of historical research while writing this book. Especially about what people once believed about mermaids many years ago. The people of the Orkney Islands have a well documented history when it comes to believing in merfolk. Much of my research came from studying their history and historical records of actual mermaid sightings that were once reported by fishermen. I also happened to have a very dear librarian friend who can research what a dog kennel was like in the late 1800's without batting an eyelash. I owe much of my book's obscure details of daily life to her awesome research skills. What can I say--librarians ROCK!
Anything else you would like to tell your readers?

There would be no authors if there weren't readers, so thanks to all of you for giving this author a chance to share her story.

And thank you, Kristen, for inviting me to be on your fabulous blog!

Thank you Sheila for taking time out to answer my questions!


Sheila was featured on Author Safari last week - a joint project hosted by myself and Kate at The Neverending Shelf. Check out Kate's blog for the winner of Sheila's book and beautiful mermaid necklace.

Read more...

Monday, March 29, 2010

In My Mailbox - March 29th

Kristi at The Story Siren hosts this meme.

I got a little busy this weekend and haven't had time or energy for a slideshow. So, I'll do an old fashion picture dealie. Click on the bookcover to learn more about it.

For Review:



From Traveling ARC Tours:



From Around the World Tours:



Won from the author:



Won from the author:



From the Library:


Bought:


Eternal Kiss is a challenge book and I'll see some of those authors eventually. That's my excuse for buying it. :-D

What did you guys get?



Read more...

It's Monday, What are you Reading?


This fantastic meme is now hosted by Sheila at One Person's Journey Through a World of Books.

Read this past week: (reviews should be up later this week)
Bones of Faerie by Janni Lee Simner
Border Crossing by Jessica Lee Anderson
Read The Castle of Galomar (New Brighton Archeological Society) by Mark Andrew Smith & Matthew Weldon
Courtney Crumrin's Monstrous Holiday by Ted Naifeh
Dead Guy Spy by David Lubar
Sanctuary (Wicked Lovely: Desert Tales Vol. 1) by Melissa Marr
The Witchy Worries of Abbie Adams by Rhonda Hayter

Currently Reading:
Rapture of the Deep by L.A. Meyer
Everlasting by Angie Frazier
Terrier by Tamora Pierce

Upcoming:
Forget Her Nots by Amy Brecount White
Watersmeet by Ellen Jensen Abbott
Bonecrossed by Patricia Briggs

News:
  • I'm starting the Game-On Diet with two of my blogging buddies - Andrea from Book Blather and Kate from The Neverending Shelf (after a discovery of how much I've gained...ugh!).
  • I'm running quite a bit behind on reviews due to reading so many during Kate and my "Read Off" that ending Monday. :-D
  • I will do some affiliate news later this week - promise. :-D

Read more...

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Are you a librarian?

Thinking about April has made me realize that National Library Week is in two weeks! I wanted to do something fun on the blog to promote libraries and what better way than to scout among my local blogger buddies for librarians or budding librarians.

I was thinking about asking Librarians to recommend a book or a few books that are either "hot" items in their library - or lesser known gems.

If you're a librarian and interested in helping me celebrate National Library Week with a guest post on this topic - please email me!

dragonzgoil at gmail dot com

I know a few and will email around a bit myself. I'll take as many as email me!

Thanks guys!

Kate from The Neverending Shelf is also looking for a few good librarians AND library goers to interview during that week. You can email her at neverendingshelf at gmail dot com!
Read more...

Book Views (3)

Again, I am copying Kate over at The Neverending Shelf (Viva La Revolution!) in these Book Views. Basically, I give you a picture, the summary and a review (in less than 75 words).

Dork Diaries
by Rachel R. Russell

Summary (via Goodreads): New school. New mean girl. New crush.

New diary so Nikki can spill about all of it...

Review: A fun book much like the Diary of a Wimpy Kid series - only more girly. Deals with fitting in and finding friends at a new school. Hilarious and full of great drawings.

Final Verdict: Loved it. Definitely for 4th graders and up.


All Shook Up
by Shelley Pearsall

Summary (via Goodreads): When 13-year-old Josh finds out he has to stay with his dad in Chicago for a few months, he’s not too thrilled. But when he arrives at the airport, he’s simply devastated. His father—who used to be a scatterbrained, but pretty normal, shoe salesman—has become a sideburn-wearing, hip-twisting, utterly embarrassing Elvis impersonator. Josh is determined to keep his dad’s identity a secret, but on his very first day at his new school, a note appears on his locker. It’s signed Elvisly Yours, and instead of a name, a sneering purple smiley face. The secret is out, and when his dad is invited to perform at a special 50s concert at his school, Josh is forced to take drastic action. From award-winning author Shelley Pearsall comes a hilarious novel about a father and son discovering something about being who you are—and who you’re not.

Review: Deals with some great issues that kids face - divorce, making new friends, and learning more about your parents. A touching and realistic novel.

Final verdict: Enjoyable read! Definitely for 5th grade and up.


Summary (via Goodreads): The premiere American fantasy adventure gets the Merry Marvel treatment! Eisner Award-winning writer/artist Eric Shanower (Age of Bronze) teams up with fan-favorite artist Skottie Young (New X-Men) to bring L. Frank Baum's beloved classic to life! When Kansas farm girl Dorothy flies away to the magical Land of Oz, she fatally flattens a Wicked Witch, liberates a living Scarecrow and is hailed by the Munchkin people as a great sorceress...but all she really wants to know is: how does she get home?

Review: A fantastic graphic novel full of amazing graphics and I just love the full colors. A bit lengthy for me, but definitely a wonderful graphic novel. Love the way the artist drew Dorothy.

Final verdict: Visually outstanding, but a little long. Suggested for 5th grade and up.


Dreamland Chronicles Book One
by Scott Christian Sava

Summary (via Goodreads): Alexander Carter has found a key that takes him back to the land of his childhood dreams. Now, every night he enters Dreamland, a magical world filled with Dragons, Fairies, and Giants. Re-united with his childhood friends Paddington, Kiwi, and Nastajia, Alexander embarks on a quest to save Dreamland from war with the nightmare realm.

Review: I was skeptical about the graphics at first - generally a little more computer generated than I like. The story line proved to make up for the iffy graphics and I'll definitely be on the lookout for the next book in the series as I totally fell in love with the story.

Final Verdict: Recommended for 8th grade and up.

Read more...

Hearts at Stake

Hearts At Stake
by Alyxandra Harvey

Summary (via Goodreads):
On Solange’s sixteenth birthday, she is going to wake up dead. As if that’s not bad enough, she also has to outwit her seven overprotective older brothers, avoid the politics involved with being the only daughter born to an ancient vampire dynasty, and elude Kieran Black—agent of an anti-vampire league who is searching for his father’s killer and is intent on staking Solange and her entire family.

Luckily she has her own secret weapon—her human best friend Lucy—who is willing to defend Solange’s right to a normal life, whether she’s being smothered by her well-intentioned brothers or abducted by a power-hungry queen. Two unlikely alliances are formed in a race to save Solange’s eternal life—Lucy and Solange’s brother Nicholas, and Solange and Kieran Black—in a dual romance that is guaranteed to jump start any romance-lover’s heart.

Review:
Packed full of action, Harvey's book takes you into a world where vampires can be both vicious and civil - destructive or protective. Underneath the surface of this book is an underlying Snow White retelling. Solange has 7 protective brothers, a wicked queen wants her dead, and even a huntsman shows up during the novel bearing a bloody heart. I really loved picking up these clues throughout the novel.

Solange's best friend Lucy is a fantastic character and I liked how the author went back and forth between Lucy and Solange's point of view. Also, the budding romances for both girls also added to the awesomeness that is this book. Definitely one I would suggest to those who need a good vampire book.

5/5 Roses

Buy it on Amazon*
Find it on Goodreads

*If you buy this book on Amazon through the link above, I will receive a small portion of the sales.
Read more...

Sunday Spotlight - Booknerds Are Pretty Too

Today, I have a fun blogger with me, whose blog name says it all - Booknerds are Pretty Too. Her blog is a lot of fun, so check out what it's all about below!


Name: Shantal
Nickname and/or blog name: Booknerds Are Pretty Too
Blog URL: http://booknerds-are-pretty-too.blogspot.com

Tell me a bit about yourself.

Well, what can I say about myself? I am a 20+ Graphic Designer that, of course, love to read amongst other things. I love to spend my time between my husband and my 2 lovely puppies. Currently planning on taking another degree as chef, I also teach art to elementary school children.


When and why did you start your blog?

On 2007 I joined goodreads.com wanting to be up to date on new books and friend recommendations. 2 years later my life slowed a bit allowing me to dedicate more time to my passion for reading. At that time I realized that I needed a personal space on the net where I were able to express my thoughts about the books I read, one thing led to another and there I was, writing my first review.


What is your blog all about? Any cool features you want to share?

In my blog I write about books and their whole universe, authors, recommendations, reviews, reading challenges, etc. I am about to start performing interviews with some authors and I will add some contests where you will be able to earn prizes such as books or other book related goodies, I am just waiting for my budget to allow me to do that. ;)

What are some of your favorite genres and/or books currently?

For the genre I prefer the Young Adult but I usually like any kind, it all depends on my reading mood and if the book really makes me live the story. About books I can say that my latest favorite is Bleeding Violet and one of my all time favorites are the Jane Austen books.


How do you find out about the books you read?

It’s kind of a random process, some of the books are friend recommendations while others I just go to the library and pick them up, maybe because I like the name, I know the author, I like the cover ;), it can be anything really if the book catches my sight I must have it.

Any tips or advice for those starting or thinking about starting a blog?

Don’t be afraid to write, to ask other blog authors, to express and be yourself. Visit other blogs and make friends because it is all about having fun. Enjoy reading the books as much as writing about them.


Thank you Shantal for stopping by today. She's got a fun blog that you guys need to go and check out!

If you're interested in being a spotlighted blogger, please fill out this form.


Read more...

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Tempest Rising


Tempest Rising
by Nicole Peeler

Summary (via Goodreads):
Living in small town Rockabill, Maine, Jane True always knew she didn't quite fit in with so-called normal society. During her nightly, clandestine swim in the freezing winter ocean, a grisly find leads Jane to startling revelations about her heritage: she is only half-human.

Now, Jane must enter a world filled with supernatural creatures alternatively terrifying, beautiful, and deadly- all of which perfectly describe her new "friend," Ryu, a gorgeous and powerful vampire.

It is a world where nothing can be taken for granted: a dog can heal with a lick; spirits bag your groceries; and whatever you do, never-ever rub the genie's lamp.

Review:
After indulging in young adult novels for so long, I picked this book (an adult book! *gasp*) up as part of a tour. I like romance novels as much as the next person - but I'm not sure this was for me. The main character really bothered me a bit and I think it was because she was at a somewhat immature point in her life. There was a lot of tragedy surrounding her ex-boyfriend's death and since then she has become something of an outcast around the old town. No one seems to like her except her coworkers and father. That is, until the local vampire policeman comes knocking at her door.

All of this starts with her finding a body and instead of calling anyone about it - dragging it someplace where someone else could find it. All because of her strange habit of swimming late at night - in places where no one in their right mind would swim. What she finds is that her mother was not a human - but rather a creature from the sea who could become human at will.

After this realization, she becomes involved with a vampire due to the supernatural reasons behind the man's death (whom she found) and meaning she becomes involved with the investigation. Yes, definitely an interesting plot and I thoroughly enjoyed that aspect.

Her voice was not for me. I didn't like being in her head because I couldn't connect with her character. I probably will try the next book, but if she doesn't develop into someone I can somewhat relate to - I probably won't continue with the series.

3/5 Roses

Buy it on Amazon*
Find it on Goodreads


*If you buy this book on Amazon through the link above, I will receive a small portion of the sales.



Read more...

Saturday Spotlight - Fragments of Life

Hello bloggers! Today I have another fun blogger from across the world - the Philippines! Her blog is so cute and I love the content in it! Learn more about Precious and her blog Fragments of Life below!


Name: Precious
Blog name: Fragments of Life
Blog URL: http://shusky20.blogspot.com/


Tell me a bit about yourself.

I'm 18 years old and I'm just a bit taller than Alice Cullen. No kidding. I didn't get my dad's tall gene - too bad for me.

I'm taking up BA European Languages, major in Spanish and minor in Creative Writing in the University of the Philippines. Sometimes I still can't believe that I'm a bookworm now. A long time ago, this seems impossible. Now, I can't seem to stop reading. Apart from reading, I also write. Long before I found the wonderful world of YA, I was a poetess and I still am. Lately, I've been compelled and inspired to write short stories and my hopefully-soon-to-be-novel. I can't imagine not writing because every time I go out in the streets, I can see different stories unfolding before my eyes - waiting to be told. And I'll make sure that I'll write them and share them to the world.

Oh, and I’m fascinated by angels.



When and why did you start your blog?

I actually started this blog in October 2009. But at that time, I was posting my literature in the blog. I’ve encountered problems because of that – turns out I can’t enter my piece to contests if they are published in my blog. Then after a while, I just stopped. In December 2009, I stumbled upon the YA community here. Then just last month, a thought popped in my head. Since I’m spending all my money on books and I’m devoting a huge chunk of my time to reading, why not write book reviews? Then, voila! Fragments of Life was reborn.


What is your blog all about? Any cool features you want to share?

My blog is all about YA books and my thoughts about them. I try to relate the events in the books to reality, in personal and social contexts.

Features? I’m starting Memes such as:

1. Fast Forward Monday – features books that will be released in the next three months.

2. Since I'm fascinated by angels, I decided to start Angelic Friday – weekly feature of books that explore the lives of angels, nephilims and fallen angels.

3. Heavenly Saturday - features verses from the Bible that can spark inspirations within our lives.

4. I have noticed that a lot of booklovers are actually aspiring writers! That discovery led to the birth of Writing on Tuesday, a meme wherein authors do a guest posts that aim to share their experiences and writing tips to aspiring writers.

5. Spotted is a weekly post that doesn't have an exact day in which I post it. I want the post to be able to adjust to the interviewees' schedule. It features authors and their books, mostly debut authors. Spotted can be composed of an interview, an excerpt, a trailer or...who knows? Maybe even a contest in the future.


What are some of your favorite genres and/or books currently?

I love YA!! My favorite genre is paranormal romance. I can’t seem to get over it and I don’t plan to. I guess, I just want something extraordinary.

My favorite book is Beautiful Creatures by Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl. I can’t wait for the sequel! My other favorite books are Hush, hush by Becca Fitzpatrick, The Dark Divine by Bree Despain, and Shiver by Maggie Stiefvater.


How do you find out about the books you read?

From time to time, I check the B&N site and of course, I find out about good books through other book blogs. Usually, upon seeing a new book in Waiting on Wednesday posts, I make sure that I add it to my wishlist with the date of release.


Any tips or advice for those starting or thinking about starting a blog?

1. Don’t get discouraged. I know the feeling. Sometimes it feels like no one reads your blog. But hey, you’re just starting. It will take some time for people to know about your blog.

2. Try to find time to update your blog. As a student who needs to maintain grades, I know what it’s like. Sometimes I go home and I don’t feel like updating. But that’s bad! I’ve found a new way to prevent that. Upon reading a book, I do the review while the reading experience is still fresh. So that by the time that I need to update, all I have to do is type it.

3. Write good quality reviews. Give it all you’ve got! Say what you want to say – apart from spoilers. Reviews in a way are interpretations. Write your own interpretation, that way, it will be truly unique.



Thank you Precious for sharing a bit about your blog and yourself! Check her out, you guys won't be disappointed! :)


If you're interested in being a spotlighted blogger, please fill out this form.


Read more...

Friday, March 26, 2010

Recommend Me (4)


Kate at The Neverending Shelf is hosting this new and fun weekly meme where you recommend a book, old or new, that you really enjoyed.

This week, I'm going to recommend a book that is just amazing. Dangerous Angels by Francesca Lia Block is the combined edition of all of her Weetzie Bat books. I love nearly all of Francesca's books, but these were the first I read and left the biggest impact.



Summary:
Love is a dangerous angel...Francesca Lia Block's luminous saga of interwoven lives will send the senses into wild overdrive. These post-modern fairy tales chronicle the thin line between fear and desire, pain and pleasure, cutting loose and holding on in a world where everyone is vulnerable to the most beautiful and dangerous angel of all: love.

What I love about this series:
The style is out of this world. There's a bazillion issues dealt with - such as homosexuality, single mothers, AIDs and more. This book will transport you to a world like ours only so different. I really just recommend reading them - there's magic in Block's words that can only be discovered through reading her books.

What others thought:
Things Mean A Lot
Green Man Reviews

Other Links:
Francesca Lia Block's Website
An Interview with Block over on Mrs. Magoo Reads

I also highly recommend most of her other books - beware, some are "adult" and I'm talking the erotic kind. So for those of younger ages, make sure to stick to her YA stuff.
Read more...

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Link a Contest Thursday



Rules (or at least STRONG suggestions):
1. Name the item being given away (instead of the blog name)
2. Give the end date in () after the name
3. Make sure to link DIRECTLY to that contest post - if you don't know how to do this - just click on the title of the contest blog and it will give a direct URL you can use.
4. If you want to post a contest you've found, make sure it isn't already posted.


Read more...

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Sisters Red


Sisters Red
by Jackson Pearce

Summary (from Goodreads):
Scarlett March lives to hunt the Fenris-- the werewolves that took her eye when she was defending her sister Rosie from a brutal attack. Armed with a razor-sharp hatchet and blood-red cloak, Scarlett is an expert at luring and slaying the wolves. She's determined to protect other young girls from a grisly death, and her raging heart will not rest until every single wolf is dead.

Rosie March once felt her bond with her sister was unbreakable. Owing Scarlett her life, Rosie hunts fiercely alongside her. Now Rosie dreams of a life beyond the wolves and finds herself drawn to Silas, a young woodsman who is deadly with an ax-- but loving him means betraying her sister and has the potential to destroy all they've worked for.

Review:
I hold a special place in my heart for books that are more like the folktales of old than the Disney version of stories. In this book, Fenris are not nice, happy or cuddly werewolves that you fall in love with - oh no. They literally hunt and eat teenage girls - no joke. But Scarlett and Rosie are not about to let them harm innocent girls if they can help it. I loved the dichotomy of the two sisters - Scarlett is stronger than the Rosie physically but afraid to live outside of fighting and Rosie is strong as well - but in a different way. Yes, she has the strength to fight, but she needs a normal life - one outside of the loss and violence they have suffered together.

The presence of a male character almost cushions the story - developing a little romance but not an unrealistic one. Silas has been a presence in the sisters' lives for a long time and he suffers facing his own role as well. He was born and raised a Woodsman - but he doesn't want to be stuck in the woods and searches out a new life. Also, he creates a sense of stability when needed in the story - saving Scarlett and Rosie at equal intervals but the novel never suggests them to be "damsels in distress".

Combine some fantastic characters with a simple and direct plotline - one that yes, does have it's twists and turns but is basic enough to understand what is going on - and you've got a winner of a book. I love my female leads as strong characters and this is exactly what Pearce has laid on the reader. Their fierce, realistic, and maybe a bit off at times - but you really grow to know them.

5/5 Roses

- This book was read through Dark Faerie Tales ARC Tours. :-D


Buy it on Amazon*
Find it on Goodreads

*If you buy this book on Amazon through the link above, I will receive a small portion of the sales.


Read more...

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Author Safari (5)


Come take a journey into the undiscovered territory of the Author. Authors are an interesting species... they provide readers with hours of entertainment... yet they remain mainly aloof from the public eye. Based on years of research, Kate and I discovered that the secret to learning more about these aloof creatures is to observe them in their natural environment. Therefore, dear readers, we will be hosting an Author Safari twice a month to lead readers into this unexplored territory. So grab your equipment and let's head off for an adventure!



Rules of the Safari:

* Adventurers must leave all hands and feet inside the vehicle, and may only travel on the below mentioned paths.
* 2 clues will be given regarding the item that we are searching for: one on The Neverending Shelf and one on Bookworming in the 21st Century. Items will generally be in image form.
* In order to be entered for this week's prize, readers must venture out to the hosts and author's sites listed. Once the adventurer believe that they have found the item in question, they must fill out the form listed on either host's Safari page. Please enter only once on either of the forms.


Author of the week:

Sheila A. Nielson

Profile: Sheila is the debut author of Forbidden Sea which releases August 2010. In her spare time, Sheila loves to draw and make amazing necklaces.

Journey into this author's natural habitat by visiting:

http://windwaithemermaid.blogspot.com/

www.sheilanielson.blogspot.com

For Clue #1, please visit The Neverending Shelf


Clue #2 - An item that can be found at a beauty pageant.



Prize:
Sheila has graciously donated a signed ARC of her novel Forbidden Sea along with this beautifully handmade (by Sheila herself) mermaid necklace both for one winner!


To enter:

Please fill out the form below. Contest is open to US until Monday, March 29th @midnight CST.




Read more...

Monday, March 22, 2010

Red vs. Blue Readathon FINAL Update


So Kate smoked me. Not by much, but she did. Which, based on the votes - she was going to win anyways. Kate had a total of 54 supporters and a total of 41 supporters for myself.

Take a look below at how the weekend played out! AND since I feel bad for all my supporters, I'm drawing one random person to receive a swag bag. I got some cool signed bookmarks and goodies to send to one of my supporters. And that winner is...

#14 Amanda!

Friday
Finished Hearts At Stake by Alyx Harvey(101 pgs)
Finished Flyte by Angie Sage (221 pgs)
Read Frankie Pickle and the Closet of Doom by Eric Wight (98 pgs)
Read The Wonderful Wizard of Oz by Eric Shanower (192 pgs)
Read more...

It's Monday, What are you Reading?


This fantastic meme is now hosted by Sheila at One Person's Journey Through a World of Books.

Read this past week: (reviews should be up later this week)
Benny and Penny in the Big No-No by Geoffrey Hayes
The Mark by Jen Nadol
Hearts at Stake by Alyx Harvey
Flyte by Angie Sage
All Shook Up by Shelley Pearsall
Forbidden Sea by Sheila A. Nielson
Frankie Pickle and the Closet of Doom by Eric Wight
The Wonderful Wizard of Oz by Eric Shanower
The Cave by Steve McGill
Dork Diaries by Rachel R. Russell
Hatter M: Mad with Wonder by Frank Beddor
Kin by Holly Black
Kith by Holly Black
Dreamland Chronicles Book One by Scott Christian Sava
Crogan's Vengeance by Chris Schweizer
Little Black Lies by Tish Cohen

(Yes, 16 books - I know, insanity!)

Currently Reading:
Rapture of the Deep by L.A. Meyer
Border Crossing by Jessica Lee Anderson
Bones of Faerie by Janni Lee Simner

Upcoming:
Watersmeet by Ellen Jensen Abbott
The Castle of Galomar (New Brighton Archeological Society) by Mark Andrew Smith & Matthew Weldon
Bonecrossed by Patricia Briggs
Dead Guy Spy by David Lubar

Affiliates news!
Things are a little crazy this weekend with my read-off - so I'm simply going to announce my new associates!

Alethea from Read Now Sleep Later: Alethea is a long time buddy of mine from Goodreads and was glad to see her back at blogging. She's been a great support and friend to me online and I really love what she has to say about books! :)

Misty from Book Rat: Misty is an awesome blogger who I've met personally and absolutely love! Her blog is a growing monster and I love all the stuff she has going on over there. Not only that, she works at a library and you know how I love my fellow librarians! :)



Jenn from Books at Midnight is an AWESOME gal and blogger. I love her super in-dept reviews (which I have no knack for personally) and her awesome ideas that keep sparking up. If you haven't seen her blog before, you must take a look because it's gorgeous and well, I just love her reviews - a ton!

Elie from Ellz Readz is another fabulous blogger who I just love. She loves YA fiction and is a serious Urban Fantasy addict (much like myself). I am in love with her Got Ink? weekly meme which features really cool tattoos on people, book covers, and more. I love how many tattoos are out there that have literary inspirations! :)

April from Good Books and Good Wine is another great friend of mine from Goodreads and well, if you've been on her blog, you've got to appreciate her. She's an awesome gal who reads widely and has fun doing so.

I know I said I'd stick to ten .. but... oh well - I chose one more.




Monica from The Bibliophilic Book Blog runs a fantastic blog that explores a variety of literature and hosts some really fun events. One of which just passed - Bookmark Day! I absolutely adore her blog and can't wait to know her better as an affiliate!


So, welcome you guys to affiliate-ship. I can't wait to get to know you guys better and collaborate on some fun bloggie projects! I'll have a page up this week for affiliate links and buttons and will be emailing all of you about upcoming events. :)

Also, after taking to Kate from The Neverending Shelf, I decided I'd slow down on updates and just run some contest ads unless there's a big event one of my affiliates is hosting. Thanks again for those who filled out the form - I had a hard time choosing!

In Other News:
  • Monday was the only day I went out and met an author - Carrie Ryan was in town visiting! I dragged the hubby with to Anderson's and had a great time. Towards the end of the event, Carrie was asked what books she read lately that she'd recommend. She talked about the Debs website she was apart of and then pointed out Kristina Springer and Kristin Walker who were sitting in the back as new authors. I had no clue they were coming! I feel like I'm stalking them we've seen so much of each other lately. I hung around a little at the end and chatted with them and then left them to a possible authorly night out. :) And, some pics below.
  • Kate and I are holding a contest until tonight (10 pm CST) to see who can read the most pages. I had a four-day weekend and we figured we'd go for gold on reading - which lead us to a friendly competition - Red vs. Blue Read-a-thon. Check out my updates and pages read so far.

The Poster

Myself and Carrie Ryan

From Left to right:
Kristina Springer, Kristin Walker, Page Turners blogger, Carrie Ryan, another blogger (can't remember name), and me.


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Sunday, March 21, 2010

Clear Away the Clutter Readathon and Spring Break Plans!

My spring break starts April 5th and I've decided to 1. Do some reading (go Clear Away the Clutter Read-a-thon!) 2. online spring cleaning and 3. real life spring cleaning.

Okay, I know what you're asking - what the heck is the Clear Away the Clutter Read-a-thon?

Kate from The Neverending Shelf has this cool mini-challenge going on called Clear Away the Clutter. Now, before we planned this crazy read-off this weekend, we were talking about our huge towering piles of books and I said, "Well Kate, let's do a read-a-thon over my spring break" and she said "Okay.." and I said, "You host it because I did the New Years one.." and then it became part of the cool Clear Away the Clutter Mini-Challenge. So, of course I'm taking part because how stupid would I be not to?


Click on the pretty picture to learn more and sign up!


So, I'm also making some serious spring cleaning plans for my blog, my email and my apartment.

I'm making a schedule and I'm sticking to it:

Day 1 - Clear out old emails (and listen to lots of music as this will take hours) and do regular housecleaning.
Day 2 - Clear out starred Google Reader posts and scrub down the bathroom.
Day 3 - Rearrange Google Reader and scrub down the kitchen.
Day 4 - Work on long-terms posts (aka Blogger Spotlights, Recommend Me, Waiting on Wednesdays, etc.) and tidy my bookshelves (dusting and all) - I may need to buy a new one!
Day 5 - Catch up on reviews (because I know me and I'll be behind) and clear the clutter in the study - file away stuff and whatnot.

We'll see how much energy I have after that. :)
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The Mark


The Mark
by Jen Nadol

Summary (from Goodreads):

Cassandra Renfield has always seen the mark—a glow around certain people reminiscent of candlelight. But the one time she mentioned it, it was dismissed as a trick of the light. Until the day she watches a man awash in the mark die. After searching her memories, Cassie realizes she can see a person’s imminent death. Not how or where, only when: today.

Armed with a vague understanding of the light, Cassie begins to explore her “gift,” seeking those marked for death and probing the line between decision and destiny. Though she’s careful to hide her secret—even from her new philosophy-obsessed boyfriend—with each impending death comes the temptation to test fate. But so many questions remain. How does the mark work? Why is she the only one who sees it? And finally, the most important of all: If you know today is someone’s last, should you tell them?


Review:
For a book with such issues of life and death at hand, it sure was "fluffy" - that's the only way to explain it. I felt like it barely scraped at the deeper issues that are apparent from seeing such a "mark". Instead the novel focused more on every day issues such as life, love, and fear.

Cassie is a somewhat normal girl, until she realizes that she can see this mark on people, the day that they die. Throughout the book, she tries to save those that she loves, failing once and then trying again to find that she can make a difference. Unfortunately, this turn of events leads her to tell her new boyfriend Lucas everything. Only, once he believes her, Lucas becomes obsessed with the idea of having her save these people or at least let them know they are going to die that day.

Cassie resists the idea and starts to avoid Lucas - I would too - when he becomes more obsessed with her sightings of the 'mark' then actually being with her. Lucas even goes as far as to bring up the debate during their psychology class - a huge sign that what they had before has fizzled out.

Unfortunately, the big reveal about Cassie's background is left toward the end - why she sees what she does and the truth behind her parent's death. Something that saved this novel from being completely about her life and added a bit of a twist. Not sure if Jen is continuing this as a series, but I would love to know more about the background behind the 'mark'.

4/5 Roses

Buy it on Amazon*
Find it on Goodreads

*If you buy this book on Amazon through the link above, I will receive a small portion of the sales.


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Spring Break Reading Challenge Activity #10

Spring Break Reading Challenge

Since the weather has been funk as of late - for Karin in Oklahoma and for me in Chicagoland (we had 64 degree weather Friday and then Saturday and Sunday - snow!!!), I'm going to select 5 books that deal with a wintery scenery.


Need by Carrie Jones:
This one takes place in winter in a town up in Maine. And here's the summary:
Zara White suspects there's a freaky guy semi-stalking her. She's also obsessed with phobias. And it's true, she hasn't exactly been herself since her stepfather died. But exiling her to shivery Maine to live with her grandmother? That seems a bit extreme. The move is supposed to help her stay sane...but Zara's pretty sure her mom just can't deal with her right now.

She couldn't be more wrong. Turns out the semi-stalker is not a figment of Zara's overactive imagination. In fact, he's still following her, leaving behind an eerie trail of gold dust. There's something not right - not human - in this sleepy Maine town, and all signs point to Zara.


The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe by C.S. Lewis
For most of the book, Narnia is covered in snow due to the taking over of the Snow Queen.
Summary: The Lion, the Witch & the Wardrobe, completed in the winter of 1949 & published in 1950, tells the story of four ordinary children: Peter, Susan, Edmund & Lucy Pevensie. They discover a wardrobe in Prof. Digory Kirke's house that leads to the magical land of Narnia, which is currently under the spell of a witch. The four children fulfill an ancient, mysterious prophecy while in Narnia. The Pevensie children help Aslan (the Turkish word for lion) & his army save Narnia from the evil White Witch, who's reigned over the Narnia in winter for 100 years.


The Golden Compass by Philip Pullman
In a landmark epic of fantasy and storytelling, Philip Pullman invites readers into a world as convincing and thoroughly realized as Narnia, Earthsea, or Redwall. Here lives an orphaned ward named Lyra Belacqua, whose carefree life among the scholars at Oxford's Jordan College is shattered by the arrival of two powerful visitors. First, her fearsome uncle, Lord Asriel, appears with evidence of mystery and danger in the far North, including photographs of a mysterious celestial phenomenon called Dust and the dim outline of a city suspended in the Aurora Borealis that he suspects is part of an alternate universe. He leaves Lyra in the care of Mrs. Coulter, an enigmatic scholar and explorer who offers to give Lyra the attention her uncle has long refused her. In this multilayered narrative, however, nothing is as it seems. Lyra sets out for the top of the world in search of her kidnapped playmate, Roger, bearing a rare truth-telling instrument, the compass of the title. All around her children are disappearing—victims of so-called "Gobblers"—and being used as subjects in terrible experiments that separate humans from their daemons, creatures that reflect each person's inner being. And somehow, both Lord Asriel and Mrs. Coulter are involved.



Shiver by Maggie Stiefvater
For years, Grace has watched the wolves in the woods behind her house. One yellow-eyed wolf—her wolf—is a chilling presence she can't seem to live without. Meanwhile, Sam has lived two lives: In winter, the frozen woods, the protection of the pack, and the silent company of a fearless girl. In summer, a few precious months of being human ... until the cold makes him shift back again.

Now, Grace meets a yellow-eyed boy whose familiarity takes her breath away. It's her wolf. It has to be. But as winter nears, Sam must fight to stay human--or risk losing himself, and Grace, forever.



The Iron King by Julie Kagawa
Meghan Chase has never fit in at her small-town high school, and now, on the eve of her 16th birthday, she discovers why. When her half brother is kidnapped, Meghan is drawn into a fantastical world she never imagined--the world of Faery, where anything you see may try to eat you, and Meghan is the daughter of the summer faery king. Now she will journey into the depths of Faery to face an unknown enemy . . . and beg the help of a winter prince who might as soon kill her as let her touch his icy heart. The Iron King is the first book in the Iron Fey series.


I'm sad to see this challenge be over with! :(
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Sunday Spotlight - Eating YA Books

Today I have with me a blogger who teaches 8th grade and therefore reads a ton of YA books. I just love teachers (probably because I work with them all year round). Check out her blog below.


Name: Jan
Blog Name: Eating YA Books
Blog URL: http://eatingyabooks.blogspot.com

About me:

I am a woman who has worn many hats both past and present: a mother and a grandmother, a daughter and a sister; a communication arts teacher, a nurse, a military journalist, a student and college graduate, and a HUGE devourer of books. Each of these hats has defined me in some way and helped me evolve into the person I am today. Presently, I teach eighth grade, and of all my the jobs I have had, this is the one that I love the most. I currently reside in a suburb of St Louis, MO. When I retire in a few years, I would love to do some traveling and blog full time. My biggest dream is to someday visit New Zealand and Australia. My idea of a perfect day is to sit back in my study with a great book.

When and why did you start your blog?

I just began my blog last October. I use to have a school web site where every week I wrote a letter to my students discussing the books I was reading. Since I require my students to read independently all year and write to me about what they read, it was only fair that I do the same. However, the school site was very limiting, and I needed a challenge too. I also really wanted to share my love of reading on a larger scale. In addition, I wanted to hone my writing skills, which has become the bigger challenge because there are so many wonderful book bloggers whose reviews are so much better than mine. Still, without challenges in your life, life becomes boring ... all work and no challenges make Jan a dull girl!

What is your blog about? Any cool features you want to share?

I blog about middle and young adult literature. Since, I teach this age group I really try to stay current with what is out there so I can make recommendations to my students (although, I get some great recommendation from them too). Being a newbie on the book blog scene, I am still learning, so I do not have any unique features ... Yet! I am hoping to have a give away soon. I just have to figure out the best way to go about doing this. Any suggestions? I also want to start writing some feature articles. I love heading over to Chasing Ray and reading all the cool essays and features she writes. She is a very talented writer.

I do have a Book Battle page though. Several years ago, my school librarian and I started having book battles with our students. This evolved into an Area Wide Book Battle with over thirty area school participating including the other two middle schools in my district. The Book Battle committee meets every summer and chooses twenty book titles then write our own questions. Each May we host the Book Battle. It is a great way to bring our community together for the sole purpose of reading books. I use to keep information about the Book Battle on my school web site, but I moved it to my blog. Every week, I put a question of the week up for the schools to answer. This has been a lot of fun and a great way to help the schools get ready for the battle in May.

What are your favorite genres and or books currently?

I love young adult fiction. I really like fast paced books. I enjoy reading fantasy, science fiction, realistic fiction, adventure/mysteries, and paranormal fiction. I recently finished Out of My Mind by Sharon Draper and it is now one of my all time favorites. I was deeply connected to Melody, an eleven year-old girl with cerebral palsy. Other books that I have read that have left a lasting impression are Boy’s Life by Robert McCammon, Ender’s Game by Orson Scott, and Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte to name a few. I am also keen on all kinds of poetry from Shakespearian sonnets to e. e. Cumming. One of my favorite poets is Pablo Neurda, a Chilian poet, who writes terrific ode celebrating all manner of things from the onion to wine, socks, to atoms. Very cool!

How do you find out about the books you read?

Most recently, I find books from other book bloggers. I visit many blogs all week as part of my own blogging life. I also really enjoy browsing bookstore shelves. I could spend hours in a bookstore; it is a very calming feeling to hang out with so many books. Our school library is another place I find my books. Like most states the Missouri ALA has award winning books, (Truman, Mark Twain), and I check out the books that are on the Cybil’s site. Finally, many of my students recommend books they are currently reading.


Thank you Jan for stopping by and sharing more about yourself and your awesome blog. Keep it up!


If you're interested in being a spotlighted blogger, please fill out this form.


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Saturday, March 20, 2010

In My Mailbox - March 20th

video

In My Mailbox is hosted by Kristi at The Story Siren.

For Review:
Young Bess by Margaret Irwin
The Fire Lord's Lover by Kathryne Kennedy
Silver Borne by Patricia Briggs
Who Fears Death by Nnedi Okorafor

Won:
Black Magic Sanction by Kim Harrison (from Brooke)

From the Library:
The Hollow by Jessica Verday

And look - I didn't buy any! *pats herself on the back*

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Winners of Numbers Giveaway!

Sorry about the slight delay guys! Been reading my eyes out!

I have selected my three winners for the book Numbers!

#1 - Zia!

#51 - InaBox!

#72 - Theresa!

I'm about to send you guys an email! Thanks for participating!


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Spring Break Reading Challenge Activity 9

Spring Break Reading Challenge

For this activity, I'm going to discuss my favorite type of genre. I love paranormal/fantasy books. I've been trying to branch out and read a little more realistic and historical fiction, but I always revert back to the paranormal fantasy. I'd say my obsession started with His Dark Materials trilogy by Philip Pullman in middle school and grew quite a bit when I started reading the Alanna quartet by Tamora Pierce when I was 19. Now it seems like every other book I read (or at least want to read) is in this genre.

I'm really looking forward to Black Magic Sanction by Kim Harrison. I just love sinking into a good series.

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Saturday Spotlight - Mrs. Q: Book Addict

Today we have a blogger whose blog I have fallen in love with. Learn more about her below!

Name: Jennifer
Nickname and/or blog name: Mrs. Q: Book Addict
Blog URL: http://web.me.com/quirion



Tell me a bit about yourself.

My name is Jennifer, and I love books, gadgets and the color pink. I love reading because it is endless learning. I do wish I was a faster reader, but when I try I feel like I'm missing out. I admire readers who read multiple books at a time and finish 5+ books a week. I don't think I can ever do that. I do feel overwhelmed at times when I look at all the books I want to read, I wonder if I will get through them all in my lifetime. I'm sure most readers feel this way. They're constantly new books coming out, or books we are uncovering that we want to read.

When and why did you start your blog?

I started my blog to keep track of all the books I was reading. I wanted to write reviews in order to reflect on what I was reading. It's a great way to look back and see what you thought about a book. It's also great to look at the books I've read and feel accomplished when I see my TBR pile getting larger. It's great to share my reviews with others.

What is your blog all about? Any cool features you want to share?

I'm a diverse reader and you will find a wide range of books being reviewed. I love Mailbox Monday, and Teaser Tuesday! I love receiving comments, and frequently comment on others blogs as well. I love quotes as well, and on Friday's I love to post quotes from books or about books. My favorite at the moment is "The possession of a book becomes a substitute for reading it." by Anthony Burgess. I think this sums up my endless TBR pile. Sometimes I buy books knowing it will be a while before I will get to it, somehow owning the book makes me feel better. I feel as if I'm one step closer to reading it.

What are some of your favorite genres and/or books currently?

Lately, I've been enjoying Historical fiction, and Contemporary Fiction. I'm very curious about Christian Fiction and have a few that I will be reading shortly. I'm a very diverse reader and you will find many genres on my blog. I don't usually read Romance, but I will try it. I also love Young Adult fiction.

How do you find out about the books you read?

At the moment, review books. I've been lucky to be in contact with many publishers, and they are sending me great books! I love reading other blogs, and enjoy their suggestions as well. My TBR pile has been growing and growing!

Any tips or advice for those starting or thinking about starting a blog?

Keep blogging fun, it's not about free books or how many books you can read. It's about your love of books. I think honest reviews are credible. I'm really enjoying my experience, and love meeting new bloggers.


Thanks again Jennifer for stopping by today!

If you're interested in being a spotlighted blogger, please fill out this form.


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Friday, March 19, 2010

Alex Van Helsing: Vampire Rising


Alex Van Helsing: Vampire Rising
by Jason Henderson

Summary (via Goodreads):
A descendant of legendary vampire hunter Abraham Van Helsing, fourteen-year-old Alex is stuck at boarding school near Lake Geneva, Switzerland, when he finds himself drawn into a web of paranormal intrigue. It turns out that Lake Geneva is also home to a secret school for vampires called the Scholomance—and now to a dangerous vampire clan lord known only as Icemaker, who’s using the Scholomance for his own dangerous endgame. With the help of his friends and of special agent Sangster, it’s up to Alex to fulfill his family destiny and stop Icemaker’s frightening plans once and for all.

Review:
Jammed packed with adventure and intrigue, Alex Van Helsing is an upcoming series that can be compared to the popular Alex Rider series. My librarian mind went straight to that thought when about halfway through the novel. Only - add in a few vampires and some wooden weaponry.

I must say, I love how this novel throws you right into the action. The first day Alex arrives at his new boarding school, he finds himself in danger and staking his first vampire. It only escalates from there, leaving enough room for friendly introductions to Alex's human friends and enemies and then throws you right back into the action.

This is a book for when you really need something that moves quickly and involves paranormal elements. It was a quick read and definitely more of a middle grade audience - just like the Alex Rider series.

4/5 Roses

Buy it on Amazon*
Find it on Goodreads

*If you buy this book on Amazon through the link above, I will receive a small portion of the sales.
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Recommend Me (3)


Kate at The Neverending Shelf is hosting this new and fun weekly meme where you recommend a book, old or new, that you really enjoyed.

This week, I'm recommending a faerie series that hasn't really received the attention it deserves. And.. there's a unicorn - if you feel like you need more unicorns in your reading! :)


The Tree Shepherd's Daughter
by Gillian Summers

Summary (via the author's website):

When her mother dies, fifteen-year-old Keelie Heartwood is forced to leave her beloved California to live with her nomadic father at a renaissance festival in Colorado. After arriving, Keelie finds men in tights and women in trailer trash-tight bodices roaming half-drunk, calling each other lady and lord even after closing time! Playacting the Dark Ages is an L.A. girl’s worst nightmare.

Keelie has a plan to ditch this medieval geekland ASAP, but while she plots, strange things start happening—eerie, yet familiar. When Keelie starts seeing fairies and communicating with trees, she uncovers a secret that links her to a community of elves. As Keelie tries to come to grips with her elfin roots, disaster strikes, and Keelie’s identity isn’t the only thing that’s threatened.

One part human determination and one part elfin magic, Keelie Heartwood is a witty new heroine in a world where fantasy and reality mix with extraordinary results.


There are two more books in the series, I've read the 2nd but not the last one.

Into the Wildewood

The Secret of Dread Forest

Gillian has a kick-butt website and her books are all via Flux (*cough Lament by Maggie Stiefvater cough*).

Here are my short Goodreads reviews (from a year or so back):

The Tree Shepherd's Daughter: Interesting start to a trilogy about a girl who can speak to trees and use their power to heal. There are some great characters and some intrigue that should keep the trilogy enthralling.

Into the Wildewood: The second book in the series and it still had a great element of plot and characterization. The ending did seem a little too tied up nice and neat, but then again, there is hopefully another book coming. I like the new characters, Robin Hood and his merry men, the Pickle Man, Lulu the Witch, and of course, Lord Einhorn, the unicorn. It's a great mix of angsty teen life melded with the world of the faire and the elves and other creatures that exist in it.


What do others think?
Since this is not a widely known book, I couldn't seem to find a recent review of any of them around the blogosphere as of late.. so I will quote Tamora Pierce, who reviewed the first two on Goodreads.

The Tree Shepherd's Daughter: "I liked this very much--the girl with "tree" allergies is sent to her father on her mother's death, only to learn that her allergies are the proof that she is a tree shepherd, that her father is an elf who never divorced her mother, and that he lives from Renaissance Faire to Renaissance Faire.

I literally read this in one day. I'm looking for the next book even as I type, and I understand the final book is scheduled for publication in the spring!
" *4 out of 5 stars

Into the Wildewood: "Great fun! Keelie is forced to deal with deeper levels of her magic than she has learned--or her father thinks she is ready for--when they reach a Renaissance Faire in a forest that is dying despite the efforts of its caretaker unicorn. The trees and the unicorn will do anything to draw on Keelie's power, no matter what it does to Keelie, or to anyone else! Add in her relationship with the cross-grained cat who is her guardian, the stick-like wood fairies, and the critical full-blood elves, and anyone who knows me can see why I liked this book and the first one in the trilogy." *4 out of 5 stars


See, my idol liked them too! :) Now go find a copy and let me know when you read it!
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