Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Book Review: My Bonny Light Horseman

Author: L.A. Meyer
Publication Date: September 2008
Genre: YA Historical Fiction/Action-Adventure
Copy provided by: Library (audio), own a copy of the book as well.
Summary (via Goodreads):

The infamous pirate, riverboat seductress, master of disguise, and street-urchin-turned-sailor Jacky Faber has been captured by the French and beheaded in full view of her friends and crew.

Inconceivable? Yes! The truth is she’s secretly forced to pose as an American dancer behind enemy lines in Paris, where she entices a French general into revealing military secrets—all to save her dear friends. Then, in intrepid Jacky Faber style, she dons male clothing and worms her way into a post as galloper with the French army, ultimately leading a team of men to fight alongside the great Napoleon.

Why I read this: I just love this books, especially on audio and I've been meaning to reread these and catch up on the series.

Plot: Jacky is now a secret agent and infiltrates the French army to hopefully find some information. They tried to force her into becoming a lady spy by seducing men, but she wouldn't put up with it and disguised herself and forced them into letting her work by pretending to be a boy. Nothing Jacky does is easy and she finds herself devoted the men she has to lead and eventually even meeting Napoleon himself. But how will the English take it when they find all this out?

Another great adventure full of action, adventure and Jacky winning over the devotion of many men once again. I just love how she gets herself into tough spots and gets out of them without much trouble. This was an exciting continuation of Jacky's adventures and she definitely proves her worth over and over again.

Characters: I love Jacky, as always, but in this one she meets a new group of young men that you start to love. She can't help falling a bit for a dashing young man she works with in intelligence and her crew of untrained men can't help but become utterly loyal to her. Ah, Jacky, gotta love her. She's spunky and definitely clever.

Relatability: Fans of adventure, history, and romance will always enjoy one of Jacky's many adventures.

Cover Commentary: Love it. :) Puts you right into the heat of battle, don't it?

Rating: 5/5 Roses

Find it on Goodreads

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Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Book Review: Siren's Storm

Author: Lisa Papademetriou
Publication Date: July 12, 2011
Genre: YA Paranormal Fantasy
Copy provided by: Teen Book Scene/Publisher
Summary (via Goodreads):

Nothing has been the same for Will ever since what happened last summer. One day, on an ordinary sailing trip with his brother, there is a strange accident. When Will wakes up, he learns his brother has disappeared, presumed drowned. Worst of all, Will can't remember what happened—his family finds him unconscious, with no memory of the accident.

Now Will and his best friend and neighbor, Gretchen, are starting a new summer. Gretchen seems troubled—her sleepwalking habit is getting worse, and she keeps waking up closer and closer to the water. Will is drawn to Asia, the exotic new girl in town. Nobody knows where she's from—all Will knows is that her beauty and her mesmerizing voice have a powerful effect on people.

Then there is another mysterious drowning, and Will and Gretchen begin to wonder: Is Asia just another beautiful, wealthy summer resident? Or is she something entirely more sinister . . . and inhuman?

Why I read this: I love mermaid/siren tales, especially those that are a bit darker in nature and this one looked to be so.

Plot: The author does a fantastic job of melding mythology into a modern day setting. The story had a nice balance of intrigue, relationships, and fantasy elements. This story is darker and less focused on romance, which was a great relief as romance in paranormal YA can sometimes be stifling and ruin a good underlying plot. Instead it focused on friendship, on loss, on the darkness that can consume a person. And I of course loved all the mythology that played into the story and created a truly unique novel.

Characters: The characters in this book are blended well into the story. They have stand out features, but the plot takes precedence and there's this urgency that pushed them into action. I really loved the characters because of their flaws. There's Gretchen, who is the girl next door to Will who is self-conscious, doesn't always make the best decisions, but tries her best. Then there is Will, who is still suffering the loss of his brother and is marked with a scar that reminds him daily of that night.

I enjoyed the supporting characters as well, Asia, the strange girl who Will cannot get out of his mind, Kirk - a supposedly crazy teenage boy who acts like he is on drugs and spouts nonsense about angels and voices. And Angus, the town gossip, who is always there trying to get the scoop.

Relatability: I think those who enjoy stories based in mythology but set in modern times will enjoy this one. And anyone who needs a break from YA Para-romance but still wants a good paranormal novel.

Cover Commentary: Haunting. Not quite the way I picture Asia though.

Rating: 5/5 Roses

Find it on Goodreads

Monday, July 11, 2011

Once Upon a Readathon Post!

Once Upon a Read-a-Thon

I just love readathons and have been needing a bit of a kick in the butt this week to read more. So, today starts the Once Upon a Readathon, hosted by Reading Angel. Click here for details.

I started off this morning by picking up my Kindle and starting into Ultraviolet by R.J. Anderson, which I'm already 35% of the way through. It's really good. My older sister is coming over later today so I won't have all day to read, but I'm already getting a good start.

Not sure what I'll be reading next but I'm sure to read some manga, more ebooks, and hopefully finish reading Die for Me by Amy Plum, which is good, just a little too ... formulaic of the YA paranormal romance genre, which is putting me off.

Anywho, I will be updating the next few days, so stayed tuned and wish me luck! :)

Day 1 update:

Well, today I read two books. An ebook and a manga. My sister was over with her kids for a few hours so I couldn't read all day.

I read:
Ultraviolet by R.J. Anderson (ebook, 306 pages)
Bakuman vol. 2 (manga, 200 pages)

Did the mini-challenge from The Musings of Almybnenr. This involved finding which books belonged to the cover clips she provided. :)

Day 2 Update:

Spellbound by Cara Lynn Schultz (ebook, 324 pages)
Scott Pilgrim's Finest Hour by Bryan O'Malley (manga, 248 pages)
Bakuman vol 3 (manga, 192 pages)

No challenges completed.

Day 3 Update:

January (Conspiracy 365) by Gabrielle Lord (print book, 192 pages)
The Mysterious Howling by Maryrose Wood (audiobook, 288 pages)

Total books read: 7
Total pages read: 1,750

I think I did rather well for being somewhat busy two out of the three days. :)

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Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Review: The Society of Dread + Giveaway

Author: Glenn Dakin
Publication Date: September 2010
Genre: Middle Grade Steampunk
Copy provided by: Publisher

Dr. Saint is no more, Lord Dove has disappeared, and the Dodo has slipped back into seclusion. But for Theo Wickland, descendant of the Victorian crime fighter of legend, The Candle Man, the adventure is just beginning. Now head of the Society of Good Works, Theo is determined to turn the activities of the order toward the betterment of humanity, starting with bringing the Network, the fascinating, secret underground maze of tunnels, back to its former glory.

But dark forces still lurk below the London streets - mysterious creatures, and enemies of the Candle Man, long thought dead - who continue to plot the downfall of the world.

Old enemies become new allies as Theo cobbles together a group to stop the sinister plans of these evil beings before they prove deadly. It is up to the new Candle Man and his Society of Dread to snuff out these nefarious plans, before it's too late.

Why I read this: I absolutely loved the first book in this series and had to continue on with the next.

Plot: With this second book in the series, there are new friends introduced along with new enemies. Theo must now descend below ground to save his friends who have been taken and enslaved by a wicked man whose power lies in destruction. there were some great twists to this book that put the world and history of Candle Man into perspective in a way that I wasn't expecting. I absolutely love the setting of these books as the dark setting amplifies the darker plot. The end of the book eluded to another adventure and I cannot wait to read on.

Characters: Theo is a character that I would compare a bit to Harry Potter, he's got the complexion, the past and the sort of clumsy way of stepping up to doing his part and saving those he loves. I love his comment about feeling better when he has direction, which shows a lack of confidence in his character. I love flawed characters and Theo definitely has a lot to learn about his powers, how and when to use them, and coming to terms that he will kill when he uses it. I really like how he is developing and can't wait to see what the next book will bring next for him.

Relatability: I think fans of underdog heroes, antiheroes, and steampunk will enjoy this series.

Cover Commentary: I have to say I love these covers, both US and UK versions of them. (The UK one is pictured above).

Rating: 5/5 Roses

Find it on Goodreads

And now for the giveaway!

1. One lucky winner will receive both of the Candle Man books.
2. Fill out the form to enter.
3. Open internationally.
4. Contest ends Friday, July 15th.

Comment on this review and Glenn Dakin's guest post for extra points.

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Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Author Guest Post: Glenn Dakin

Today, I have the brilliant Glenn Dakin with me, author of the Candle Man series, to share more about creating the world in which his series is set. I will be reviewing the second book in the series tomorrow as well as hosting a giveaway.

World of the Candle Man by Glenn Dakin

I was talking to my 81 year-old uncle Harry, and asked him about the sleepy suburb where he lives. ‘How’s Carpenders Park?’

He pulled a face. ‘Oh, I never go there,’ he replied.

This made me smile as he has lived in Carpenders Park since at least the 1960s. But to Harry, who either stays in his home, or shops further afield, he never actually goes to the place where he lives.

This is a bit like writers of fantasy, who dream up fantastical worlds, which we inhabit more sincerely than the world around us. Real life? Oh, I never go there.

One of the things that attracted me to the adventure of writing Candle Man was the fact that it wasn’t just a story - it was a world. From the moment I dreamt up my sad young hero Theo, I knew a whole realm of secret places awaited him.

Locating the world of the Candle Man was not exactly an act of invention, but an act of finding. In some ways the world of Candle Man was already there, if I searched my memories deeply. The gothic landscape of secret watchtowers, underground canals and weed-choked graveyards is all based on my childhood impressions of London.

I grew up in Harrow Weald in the sixties, where newsagents, bus stations and barber shops provided a backdrop of upbeat semi-modernity. But once in a while, Dad would take me into the city, where a different layer of my imagination was kindled. Here, mysterious statues watched you as you strode historic streets, secret gardens hid behind barbed railings, soft lamps glowed in private courtyards. The world of the past seemed to be creeping up behind you, watching you, as you were discovering it.

Down in the underground - a marvel that seemed to have been built by an earlier, more miraculous civilization - trains rattled and screamed through dark tunnels, gleaming escalators rose, part menacing, part benign, to speed you on your way. It was a dazzling vision of a bigger universe.

The main setting for the Candle Man’s adventures is the network, a labyrinth beneath the streets of London. This was created out of necessity. Early in book one, my hero had to flee enemies. But where would he flee to? I needed a setting. Theo, I realised, must have access to secret ways, a snakes-and-ladders board of routes that would plunge him swiftly in and out of trouble.

And so, Theo’s network began as a collection of secret passageways beneath the city: abandoned sewers, forgotten maintenance shafts and suchlike, the stuff of many adventure tales. But that wasn’t enough. The network was calling – and it called my imagination downwards.

I needed another level. Somewhere for the bad guys to keep their technology – their alchemical machines. Suddenly the network housed hidden silos of potent potions. It had a mushroom farm for growing the bio-luminescent fungus that powered the lighting system. It had a gulag – a prison for containing the dreaded spectres of the Eighty-eight – shadows of the Candle Man’s dark past.

I also needed transport – I couldn’t reasonably expect my footsore characters to walk everywhere. So I found another level, into which I added an ancient canal system. The network kept growing. And at the end of book one, I needed a location for my big finale, a mind-boggling vault of wonders to open up infinite possibilities as the book thundered towards its end.

So I went back through my thoughts and pieced them together in a different way. I decided that the levels were all part of a lost alchemical city, built in centuries past. I invented the Well Chamber, and, a cathedral-sized crucible – a temple of experiments - into which all the waters of the underground canals flowed.

At this point, I knew that I had not only solved my plotting needs for Theo’s many escapes – I was beginning to find a bigger backstory –a mythology to underscore the adventure I was creating. History was beginning to appear, a past to enrich the Candle Man’s present.

This was a key moment for me as I have so admired Tolkien’s approach of delighting the reader with ‘unexplained vistas’, shadows and suggestions of earlier worlds that enhance the current narrative. It seemed I had wandered into some lost vistas myself.

Now, the network is growing again – in my imagination. It is taking me in a new direction, with the question: why was London built at all? Maybe the Candle Man will answer that question…

Thank you Glenn for sharing that with us!

You can learn more about Glenn over at his website -

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Monday, July 4, 2011

June in Review

June was another slow month around here. There's just one more month to go until Bookworming ends so I can move onto my new adventures. You can find me over at Book Blather for librarian posts and over at The Book Monsters for YA and MG reviews.

Reviews posted this month:
1. The Eternal Sea by Angie Frazier
2. The Midnight Gate by Helen Stringer
3. Lemniscate by Jennifer Murgia
4. Dare to Be Different by Nicole O'Dell
5. Fairy Bad Day by Amanda Ashby
6. Finding Family by Tonya Bolden
7. Toads and Diamonds by Heather Tomlinson
8. Breath of Angel by Karyn Henley
9. Starcrossed by Elizabeth Bunce
10. Kiki Strike: Inside the Shadow City by Kirsten Miller

Other features posted:
This or That with Allison Van Diepen
Top Ten Distractions with Angie Frazier
Interview with Amanda Ashby
Nerds Heart YA Decision
Author Guest Post: Karyn Henley
Book Battle Judging Results

Challenge Updates:
Debut Author Challenge: 2 read (13 total)
E-Book Reading Challenge: 0 read (1 total)
YA Historical Fiction Challenge: 8 read (19 total)
Off the Shelf Reading Challenge: 1 read (26 total)
Audio Book Challenge: 1 read (10 total)
Outdo Yourself Reading Challenge: 24 read (109 total)
Bloody Jack Reading Challenge: 1 read (7 total)

Debut Author Challenge: 0 read (1 total)

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Sunday, July 3, 2011

Book Review: Mississippi Jack

Author: L.A. Meyer
Publication Date: September 2007
Genre: YA Historical Fiction
Copy provided by: Library (audio)
Summary (via Goodreads):

The intrepid Jacky Faber, having once again eluded British authorities, heads west, hoping that no one will recognize her in the wilds of America. There she tricks the tall-tale hero Mike Fink out of his flatboat, equips it as a floating casino-showboat, and heads south to New Orleans, battling murderous bandits, British soldiers, and other scoundrels along the way. Will Jacky's carelessness and impulsive actions ultimately cause her beloved Jaimy to be left in her wake?

Bold, daring, and downright fun, Jacky Faber proves once again that with resilience and can-do spirit, she can wiggle out of any scrape . . . well, almost.

Why I read this: I love these books and they are amazing on audio!

Plot: In this book, we find Jacky trekking across the Americas and of course finding a boat to sail down the Mississippi River. Jacky may be inland, but she always finds a way to stay on water as much as possible. This book is full of new twists, a possibly reunion with Jaimy and some adventures that involve pirates, a whorehouse, and trying not to get killed.

Characters: I love Mike Fink. What a fantastic character. An over the top troll of a man whom Jacky steals a boat from. I absolutely love when the narrator did his voice. Such a loud, hilarious man and almost always in the liquor. I also loved meeting the other characters introduced in this book and hope we continue to run into many of them in the future. Jack is herself as usual, always cunning and of a positive nature even when in death's grip.

Relatability: Probably one of my favorite books in the series. It's hard to pick one, but this one is definitely up there.

Cover Commentary: I love the old covers, the new ones are awful and look nothing like the Jacky I picture.

Rating: 5/5 Roses as per usual.

Find it on Goodreads

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