Sunday, January 31, 2010

Review: Angelic by Kelley Armstrong

Author: Kelley Armstrong
Publication: Subterranean Press (January 8, 2010)

Product Description: Demon bounty hunter Eve Levine, the sassy and savvy heroine of Kelley Armstrong's thrilling Haunted, finds herself in danger of losing a lot more than just her job when she tries to get herself fired by the Fates.

My Thoughts: This incredibly brief book (98 pages) tells about Eve trying to get herself fired because she is getting tired of being jerked around by the Fates and she wants to spend more time with Kristoff.

The book seems designed strictly for fans of Kelley Armstrong's work because there is no character development in the book. You need to know who the players are from reading other books before the story makes any sense at all. That being said I still found it to be an interesting story. It did allow me to find out more about Eve from her viewpoint. It also gave us quick looks at Jeremy, Jaime, and Kristoff. Fans of the series will like this one but I'd choose another book as an introduction to Armstrong's work.

You can read more about Kelley at her website here.
Challenges: RYOB Challenge

Saturday, January 30, 2010

In My Mailbox (Jan. 31. 2010)

The weekly In My Mailbox post is hosted by Kristi at The Story Siren. It is fun to see what everyone else gets in their mailboxes, shopping bags, and library visits.

Click on the link to The Story Siren's site to see the rules and join in the fun. I guarantee that your TBR pile will grow when you see all the cool books everyone gets. You will discover lots of wonderful blogs and lots of books that you won't be able to live without.

I got an interesting variety this week. First, one of my students lent me two books because he knows that I am a big fan of John Flanagan's Ranger's Apprentice series. I have often bemoaned the fact that they are being published in Australia before the US (which is not altogether surprising given that Mr. Flanagan is Australian). His parents bought him books 8 and 9 in the series for Christmas (eBay, I think he said) and he just lent them to me.
Book number 8 is The Kings of Clonmel and book number 9 is Halt's Peril. Naturally, I had to drop everything to read these. My books can wait. I am currently in the middle of The Kings of Clonmel and loving the adventure.

I added these YA books this week:

You Are So Undead to Me by Stacey Jay is the first book in this series. I think I got the second one -- Undead Much -- last week. I am trying to overcome my zombie prejudice by reading these.

Darklight by Lesley Livingston is the sequel to Wondrous Strange which is also sitting in my TBR pile.

The Beauty and the Bully got a glowing review on one of the blogs I read last week when I was checking out other people's IMM posts. Amazon let me get a used but in very good condition copy for a small amount of money. So I added it to my TBR stack.

I added these adult books this week:

Fools Rush In by Janice Thompson also was highly recommended on someone's IMM post last week and was also available for a good price. Reviews say that this one is funny. I am looking forward to getting to it.

Shadow Blade by Seressia Glass is a new paranormal. Since this is the genre I currently love the most, I added it to the stack.

I also added some books to my Kindle this week:

Prime Time by Hank Phillippi Ryan is the first in the Charlotte McNally mystery series. I haven't read any mysteries lately and this one sounded good.

Tiger's Curse by Colleen Houck was only $1.00 and is a paranormal. This one is supposed to also be YA. It sounded interesting.

Duality (Guardians of the Light, Book 1) by Renee Wildes was a free offering for the Kindle earlier this week. The main character is a half-dragon mage working as a healer who gets involved with a runaway Elven prince. Sounds exciting and the price was right. Of course, it looks like there are at least two more books in the series (which are not free) if I get hooked on this one.

Spider's Bite by Jennifer Estep has been getting a lot of good buzz on the paranormal and urban fantasy blogs I follow. I'm really looking forward to this one.

Well, that's it for me this week. What is in your mailbox?

YA Review: The Kings of Clonmel by John Flanagan

I have not disappeared off the ends of the earth. I have been reading. You can see the evidence here as I posted a review of The Kings of Clonmel on my other blog -- Ms. Martin Teaches Media. I am trying to limit this blog to my YA and adult reading and shift my middle grade reading to that blog.

I do have a question for this blog relating to the covers. To the right is the cover of the book I read. This book was published by Random House Australia.

Below is the cover for the US edition which will be published by Philomel on May 18, 2010. There are some major differences in the way the book is portrayed.

My thoughts are that the Australian cover portrays the characters as younger than I think they would be in the story. Also I get a little "Lord of the Rings" vibe from that cover which is missing from the US cover.

The US cover seems to focus more on the action aspect of the book as it depicts a scene from late in the novel and with no recognizable characters.

Does that say something about the marketing? Are US kids more likely to choose a book with action on the cover rather than portraits of the characters?

I am just curious. I will admit that I would purchase the book with either cover. All I'm looking for on the cover is John Flanagan's name and Ranger's Apprentice as the series. The rest of the cover could be blank for me. I am already hooked.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Review: Soulless (The Parasol Protectorate) by Gail Carriger

Soulless (The Parasol Protectorate)
Author: Gail Carriger
Publication: Orbit; Original edition (October 1, 2009)

Product Description from Amazon: Alexia Tarabotti is laboring under a great many social tribulations. First, she has no soul. Second, she's a spinster whose father is both Italian and dead. Third, she was rudely attacked by a vampire, breaking all standards of social etiquette.

Where to go from there? From bad to worse apparently, for Alexia accidentally kills the vampire -- and then the appalling Lord Maccon (loud, messy, gorgeous, and werewolf) is sent by Queen Victoria to investigate.

With unexpected vampires appearing and expected vampires disappearing, everyone seems to believe Alexia responsible. Can she figure out what is actually happening to London's high society? Will her soulless ability to negate supernatural powers prove useful or just plain embarrassing? Finally, who is the real enemy, and do they have treacle tart?

SOULLESS is a comedy of manners set in Victorian London: full of werewolves, vampires, dirigibles, and tea-drinking.

My Thoughts: I love this combination of romance, the paranormal, and steampunk. Alexia Tarabotti is a upper class spinster in the mold of Amelia Peabody (by Elizabeth Peters) and many of the heroines written by Amanda Quick. She is outspoken, courageous, and determined to go her own way. She seems to have no fear of the supernaturals around her or of the society she inhabits while still remaining true to her Victorian sensibilities.

Lord Maccon  is a wonderful hero even though he turns into a very dangerous werewolf on the night of the full moon. The interactions between Alexia and Connall, Lord Maccon had me smiling and laughing. They are truly a good match.

Alexia's friend with the ugly hats and Lord Akeldama the gay vampire with the extreme love of fashion are well-realized secondary characters who provide additional comic relief. It is an intriguing concept that the vampires and werewolves are the victims in this story and not the villains.

This was an extremely fun read. I look forward to the further adventures of Alexia and Lord Maccon.

Challenges: RYOB Challenge, 2010 E-Book Challenge

Monday, January 25, 2010

Contest to Win The Mark and Swag

***Contest Closed***

Amy Brecount White had an interview with Jen Nadol last Saturday and one lucky reader will win a copy of The Mark, along with a $15 iTunes gift card and a bunch of Forget-Her-Nots swag.

To enter: Post (on blog OR Facebook) and/or tweet (I’m @amybrecountwhit and you can RT what I said) about this interview/ contest with Jen. UP TO 2 ENTRIES if you both post and tweet. Also, please follow me and Jen on Twitter if you’re not already! Please comment with links on this post to let me know what you’ve done and that you’re in.

The Fine Print: Giveaway is open internationally to anyone age 13 or older. Prize winner will be announced on Twitter and here, so please provide info for me to contact you easily. The contest is over on 1/30 at 12 p.m. Prize must be claimed by 2/10.

I have heard great things about The Mark and would really like to win a copy.
You have until Jan. 30 to enter.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Review: Inked by Karen Chance, Marjorie M. Liu, Yasmine Galenorn, & Eileen Wilks

Authors: Karen Chance, Marjorie M. Liu, Yasmine Galenorn, Eileen Wilks
Publication: Berkley; Original edition (January 5, 2010)

Product Description from Amazon: From today's most provocative authors come four tales of urban fantasy and paranormal romance exploring body art that is more than it seems-in a world of magic and mayhem that always leaves its mark.

This captivating tattoo theme surrounds each author's popular characters and worlds: Karen Chance's war mage Lia de Croissets, Marjorie M. Liu's demon-hunter Maxine Kiss, Yasmine Galenorn's Otherworld Intelligence Agency operative Camille D'Artigo, and Eileen Wilk's Lupi world.

My Thoughts: I chose this book because I was familiar with most of the authors in it. I was especially pleased to see the story by Eileen Wilks because she doesn't write fast enough to feed my addiction. I often find anthologies to be of uneven quality but not this one. All of the stories tell interesting episodes in the lives of characters who also appear in that authors' novels.

In Karen Chance's 'Skin Deep' war mage Lia is on medical leave when her mate werewolf Cyrus goes missing and someone is killing werewolves for their skins. Lia has magical tattoos that are wards. In Marjorie M Liu's  'Armor of Roses' Maxine Kiss goes back in time to help her grandmother solve a problem. Her tattoos are demons who leave her body at night and protect her by day. In Yasmine Galenorn's 'Etched in Silver' we learn the story of how Camille met Trillian as she searches for a rapist and murderer. In Eileen Wilks' 'Human Nature' we get a Lily and Rule story as Lily investigates the death of one of Rule's friends.

I am familiar with the Chance, Galenorn and Wilks but I haven't read anything by Liu. If that story is an example, I think that this book could serve as an introduction to the various authors' other works. That story was very interesting and makes me want to add another author to my massive TBR pile.

Challenges: RYOB Challenge

My Anniversary!

Today is my second anniversary as a blogger. I started slowly. This blog began as a project to learn more about Web 2.0 tools.

I blogged 45 times in 2008 and then pretty much forgot about the blog. I blogged 91 times in 2009. In October I began to take the blog seriously.

Thus far in 2010, I have blogged 32 times and I think I have finally found my purpose. I really like getting involved with other readers. Connecting has been great. I love to talk about the books I get and the books I read. My main focus is my personal reading. I'm an eclectic reader of fiction -- YAs, paranormals, urban fantasy, science fiction, mystery, and whatever interests me next.

I have been doing some tweaking and designing and am starting to feel more comfortable with this whole blogging thing. I am even thinking about having my first contest (once I figure out Google Forms).

So watch this space.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Contest! Contest! Ends Feb. 8 and March 7

If you love contests, you have to check out Teens Read and Write. There are currently three different contest going on there;

They have a 2010 New Moon Calendar Giveaway (ending 1/26)

They have a Glee Soundtrack CD Giveaway (ending 2/8)

And .... drumroll, please.. they have a MegaBook Giveaway (ending on 3/7)

Look for their button in my sidebar and definitely check out their site. And, if you enter, tell them I sent you.

In My Mailbox (Jan. 24, 2010)

The weekly In My Mailbox post is hosted by Kristi at The Story Siren. It is fun to see what everyone else gets in their mailboxes, shopping bags, and library visits.

Click on the link to The Story Siren's site to see the rules and join in the fun. I guarantee that your TBR pile will grow when you see all the cool books everyone gets. You will discover lots of wonderful blogs and lots of books that you won't be able to live without.

Here is what I got this week:

I am a major Kelley Armstrong fan. When I saw that she had a new book out I had to get it immediately. Angelic is a trade hardcover of a novella. Apparently it is hard to find. I see Amazon only has it from resellers today at a whopping $79.99. That makes the $20 I paid seem lots more reasonable than I thought when I clicked the "buy with one-click" button.

I received Never Look Away by Linwood Barclay in ARC from the LibraryThing Early Reviewers program. I posted my review here, on LibraryThing, and will on Amazon when they open it up for customers to post reviews.

I added these YA books this week:

Undead Much by Stacey Jay which is book 2 in a series. I also ordered You Are So Undead to Me but it hasn't arrived yet. I am determined to get over my anti-zombie prejudice and these sound like fun.

I added both Fire and Water by Robin McKinley and Peter Dickinson. These were a harder decision for me because I had to weigh if my love of Robin McKinley was greater than my dislike of short stories. The balance came down on the loving Robin McKinley side this time.

I read a terrific review of The Pace by Shelena Shorts on someone's blog (can't recall who) and decided I had to have it. Now I don't know why. But the cover is rather intriguing.

These books are for two of the challenges I am doing this year. The first two are for the 2010 YA Debut Author Challenge hosted by The Story Siren. The second two are for the In the Middle Reading Challenge hosted by Jill at The O.W.L.

Wish by Alexandra Bullen has been getting such nice buzz on the YA blogs I follow that I had to have it. It has a lovely cover.

The Iron King by Julie Kagawa also sounds terrific. I have been avoiding reading the reviews because I don't want to take a chance and be spoiled. I want to go into this one with no preconceptions.

Neither of the next two books are newly published but I hadn't decided to read them until I decided to take part in the In the Middle Reading Challenge. I spend a lot of time reading YA books but not so much reading Middle Grade books. I want to be able to talk with my younger students about great books too.

Rapunzel's Revenge by Shannon Hale looks good. I like fairy tale retellings. I think I had previously overlooked it because I am not a big fan of graphic novels (another prejudice I am trying to overcome).

Skullduggery Pleasant by Derek Landy has been recommended to me by my HS Media Center assistant. She is a big fan.

That's it for me this week. What did you add to your TBR stack?

Friday, January 22, 2010

YA Book Review: The Vampire Diaries: The Awakening and The Struggle by L. J. Smith

The Vampire Diaries: The Awakening and The Struggle
Author: L. J. Smith
Publication: HarperTeen (June 26, 2007)

Product Description from Amazon: Elena: the golden girl, the leader, the one who can have any boy she wants.

Stefan: brooding and mysterious, he seems to be the only one who can resist Elena, even as he struggles to protect her from the horrors that haunt his past.

Damon: sexy, dangerous, and driven by an urge for revenge against Stefan, the brother who betrayed him. Determined to have Elena, he'd kill to possess her.

Collected here in one volume for the first time, volumes one and two of The Vampire Diaries, the tale of two vampire brothers and the beautiful girl torn between them.

My Thoughts: The Awakening -- Elena is queen of the school. She knows it and seems to treat everyone else as scenery on the stage of her life. She just has to look at a boy and he is hers. Then she meets the new boy Stefan and he ignores her. Elena won't let this happen and is determined to attract him. He is also attracted but, as a vampire, is afraid that he will hurt her. Besides, she reminds him of his first love and the young woman who made him a vampire. Katherine had made both Stefan and his brother Damon into vampires though she knew the brothers hated each other. Stefan has been determined to be good for more than 500 years, surviving on the blood of animals and not killing people, while Damon embraced being a vampire and killing people and, as a result, is much stronger than Stefan. Damon also wants Elena and wants to make Stefan think he is blacking out and doing evil things. I didn't like Elena. She seemed so self-centered and selfish to me. I don't see why either of the brothers has developed such a passion for her. I liked Stefan and his desire to start a new life. Damon was creepy and evil.

The Struggle -- Damon has a bigger part in this one. He has decided that he wants Elena too at least, in part, because Stefan does. He is killing people around town and it looks like Stefan is getting blamed especially by Tyler and Caroline. Tyler attempted to rape Elena and Stefan beat him up. Naturally, Tyler holds a grudge because he couldn't admit that he did anything wrong. Caroline thought that she had managed to attract Stefan but he dropped her without thought when Elena entered the scene. Both are plotting evil toward Stefan and Elena that comes to a head at the Founder's Day celebration.

I will continue reading the series because it is a light, quick read and I want to see where the story goes. The ending of The Stuggle has left me hanging from a cliff wondering which boy Elena is searching for. Luckily, I received notice that the next two books have been shipped. Now I just have to watch my mailbox.

Challenges: 2010 TBR Challenge & Bottoms Up 2010 Challenge (I bought this book on June 15, 2007 and it has been languishing in the pile since.), 2010 YA Book Challenge, RYOB Challenge

Recommend Me

Recommend Me is a new meme that Kate at The Neverending Shelf will be hosting. Each Friday, participants will pick one of their all time favorite reads to share. This could be a book that your read yesterday or years ago.

To play along, grab a favorite read and tell us about it. You can include your thoughts about the novel, its summary, your favorite memory related to the novel... the possibilities are limitless. If you are up for a challenge, you can also include:

•Your review of the novel
•Links to others' reviews of the novel
•Recommending to a general group of readers or if you want to be extra daring, to specific reader friends

My first recommendation is for:

Cordelia's Honor by Lois McMaster Bujold
Publication: Baen (September 1, 1999)

Summary from GoodReads: In her first trial by fire, Cordelia Naismith captained a throwaway ship of the Betan Expeditionary Force on a mission to destroy an enemy armada. Discovering deception within deception, treachery within treachery, she was forced into a separate peace with her chief opponent, Lord Aral Vorkosigan—he who was called "The Butcher of Komarr"—and would consequently become an outcast on her own planet and the Lady Vorkosigan on his.

Sick of combat and betrayal, she was ready to settle down to a quiet life, interrupted only by the occasional ceremonial appearances required of the Lady Vorkosigan. But when the Emperor died, Aral became guardian of the infant heir to the imperial throne of Barrayar—and the target of high-tech assassins in a dynastic civil war that was reminscent of Earth's Middle Ages, but fought with up-to-the-minute biowar technology. Neither Aral nor Cordelia guessed the part that their cell-damaged unborn would play in Barrayari's bloody legacy.

My Reasons for Recommending: I love the strong characters especially Cordelia Naismith. I like the worldbuilding. I'd like to live on Barrayar (but only if I could be a Vor). The omnibus edition contains Shards of Honor and Barrayar. Shards of Honor tells the story of how Cordelia and Aral met and how they came to know and respect each other. Barrayar follows and talks about the early days of their marriage when Aral is trying to get on top of the job of Regent to boy emperor Gregor and Cordelia is adjusting to a new planet and a difficult pregnancy. This is a wonderful combination of romance and space opera.

Recommended to anyone who likes a little romance with their science fiction or lots of science fiction with their romance.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Contest! Contest! Ends Feb. 11

Dark Faerie Tales is having a contest. Helen Scott Taylor was interviewed and is giving away an autographed copy of The Phoenix Charm which came out Jan. 27, 2009. The second in the series came out on Dec. 20, 2009. That title is The Magic Knot.

Here is a book trailer for the series.

Visit Dark Faerie Tales to enter the contest. The books sound really fantastic. You have until Thursday, February 11th at 11:59 PM EST.

BTW: I took the quiz and found out that my element is Fire. Who knew? However, it comes as no surprise to me that my personality matches only 13.94 of those taking the quiz.

Your element is Fire

Fire brings spark to life.

Flames leap toward the sky, the driving force to manifest a new idea. Fire embodies passion, enthusiasm and desire. You are quick and bright, but often emotionally volatile. Air conceives new ideas, you implement them, pushing through changes that others resist. Forceful and highly opinionated, you often think you know best and your strong will ensures people listen, and follow your lead. You may be called ‘hot blooded’ or ‘a hothead’ and could be involved in matters of discipline and conflict. Smell the smoke from a fragrant candle; feel the sun on your face; lay your hand against a warm rock, or gaze into a dancing flame. Your season is summer and your time of day the bright hour of noon.
This quiz has been taken 1413 times. Your personality type matches 13.94% of the people who have taken this quiz.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Review: Never Look Away by Linwood Barclay

Never Look Away
Author: Linwood Barclay
Publication: Delacorte Press (March 2, 2010)

Product Description from Amazon: In this tense, mesmerizing thriller by Linwood Barclay, critically acclaimed author of Fear the Worst and Too Close to Home, a man’s life unravels around him when the unthinkable strikes.

A warm summer Saturday. An amusement park. David Harwood is glad to be spending some quality time with his wife, Jan, and their four-year-old son. But what begins as a pleasant family outing turns into a nightmare after an inexplicable disappearance. A frantic search only leads to an even more shocking and harrowing turn of events.

Until this terrifying moment, David Harwood is just a small-town reporter in need of a break. His paper, the Promise Falls Standard, is struggling to survive. Then he gets a lead that just might be the answer to his prayers: a potential scandal involving a controversial development project for the outskirts of this picturesque upstate New York town. It’s a hot-button issue that will surely sell papers and help reverse the Standard’s fortunes, but strangely, David’s editors keep shooting it down.


That’s a question no longer at the top of David’s list. Now the only thing he cares about is restoring his family. Desperate for any clue, David dives into his own investigation—and into a web of lies and deceit. For with every new piece of evidence he uncovers, David finds more questions—and moves ever closer to a shattering truth.

My Thoughts: This is a traditional thriller which is a little outside the genres I read most frequently these days.

Newspaper reporter David Harwood is investigating a new for-pay prison coming to town. He has evidence that at least one member of the coucil is being bribed but is discouraged from pursuing the lead by his boss at the newspaper (who wants to sell land for the new prison to keep the paper afloat) and the prison owner who is a real psycho.

But that just starts David's problems. He goes to an amusement park with his wife and son and only two of them come home. What follows is a complete tangle. David is a likeable character with a Don Quixote complex. Readers will root for him as he tries to untangle the mess his life has become. Secondary characters are also well characterized if a little stereotypical. This is a quick, engaging read.

I received my ARC as a part of the LibraryThing Early Reviewers program. If you read thrillers, this one should go on your TBR list.

Monday, January 18, 2010

Contest! Contest! **Contest Closed**

***Contest Closed***
Kimberly Derting is giving away some great stuff in anticipation of her first book release on March 16. The Body Finder sound like it will be excellent. Click on her name to get to her site to enter the contest. You have until midnight on Jan. 23.

I entered today.

I had the countdown widget in my side bar because I was already waiting for this book.

After seeing this trailer, how can you not want to read the book?

Sunday, January 17, 2010

YA Review: The Adoration of Jenna Fox by Mary E. Pearson

The Adoration of Jenna Fox
Author: Mary E. Pearson
Publication: Square Fish; Reprint edition (September 1, 2009)

Review from Booklist: The ethics of bioengineering in the not-so-distant future drives this story. Jenna, 17, severely injured in a car crash, is saved by her heartbroken father, a scientist who illegally uses the latest medical technology to help her. Only 10 per cent of her original brain is saved, but Dad has programmed her by uploading the high-school curriculum. She could live two years, or 200. Is she a monster or a miracle? Why have her parents hidden her away? The science (including allusions to the dangerous overuse of antibiotics) and the science fiction are fascinating, but what will hold readers most are the moral issues of betrayal, loyalty, sacrifice, and survival. Jenna realizes it is her parents’ love that makes them break the law to save her at any cost. The teen’s first-person, present-tense narrative is fast and immediate as Jenna makes new friends and confronts the complicated choices she must make now. --Hazel Rochman

Review from School Library Journal: Seventeen-year-old Jenna Fox awakens after more than a year in a coma to find herself in a life—and a body—that she doesn't quite recognize. Her parents tell her that she's been in an accident, but much of her past identity and current situation remain a mystery to her: Why has her family abruptly moved from Boston to California, leaving all of her personal belongings behind? Why does her grandmother react to her with such antipathy? Why have her parents instructed her to make sure not to tell anyone about the circumstances of their move? And why can Jenna recite whole passages of Thoreau's Walden, but remember next to nothing of her own past? As she watches family videos of her childhood, strange memories begin to surface, and she slowly realizes that a terrible secret is being kept from her. Pearson has constructed a gripping, believable vision of a future dystopia. She explores issues surrounding scientific ethics, the power of science, and the nature of the soul with grace, poetry, and an apt sense of drama and suspense. Some of the supporting characters are a bit underdeveloped, but Jenna herself is complex, interesting, and very real. This is a beautiful blend of science fiction, medical thriller, and teen-relationship novel that melds into a seamless whole that will please fans of all three genres.—Meredith Robbins, Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis High School, New York City

My Thoughts: This book was stunning and thought provoking. I hadn't read the two reviews above until I began writing this post. I decided to read this book because 1) I have a copy in my HS Media Center but have never read it, 2) it was recommended on one of the many blogs I read, 3) it is a YA book and I'm doing a YA challenge, and 4) because I bought the ebook for my Kindle and am doing an ebook challenge.

I am very glad that I decided to read this book now. The prose was both stark and lyrical. The chapters of poetry were especially gripping. This is a science fiction story of the near future that looks at the questions of scientific ethics. The themes seems to be ripped from the headlines -- "superbugs" and government control of scientific research. But it is not so much a political book as it is about the meaning of identity. The question I am still thinking about is "what does it mean to be human?"

I think that thoughtful teens, environmentalists or not, would find much to think about and discuss in this book. You can bet that I will be displaying our copy and talking to my students about it.

Challenges: 2010 YA Reading Challenge, 2010 E-Book Reading Challenge, RYOB Challenge

Saturday, January 16, 2010

In My Mailbox (January 17, 2010)

The weekly In My Mailbox post is hosted by Kristi at The Story Siren. It is fun to see what everyone else gets in their mailboxes, shopping bags, and library visits.

Click on the link to The Story Siren's site to see the rules and join in the fun. I guarantee that your TBR pile will grow when you see all the cool books everyone gets. You will discover lots of wonderful blogs and lots of books that you won't be able to live without.

Books I Won:

I won an ARC of Spellbinder by Helen Springer (and a really cool bookmark) from Kristen at Bookworming in the 21st Century.
I won Something to Blog About from Karin at Holiday Break Reading Challenge.

New YA:

Aurelia by Anne Osterlund
The Medusa Project: The Set Up by Sophie McKenzie
Boneshaker by Cherie Priest
Freaksville by Kitty Keswick

Girls That Growl by Mari Mancusi
Stake That by Mari Mancusi
Boys That Bite by Mari Mancusi

New Adult:

Star of the Morning by Lynn Kurland
Shelf Discovery: The Teen Classics We Never Stopped Reading by Lizzie Skurnick
Devour by Melina Morel
Darkborn by Alison Sinclair

New for My Kindle:

The Dangerous Book of Demon Slayers by Angie Fox
The Accidental Demon Slayer by Angie Fox
Wicked Enchantment by Anya Bast
Fairy Tales Every Child Should Know
The Man Who Loved Books Too Much by Allison Hoover Bartlett

And my absolute favorite new item:

The latest chapbook in the Liaden Universe by Sharon Lee and Steve Miller -- Halfling Moon.

That is what I added to my TBR pile. What did you get this week?

YA Review: Magic Under Glass by Jaclyn Dolamore

Magic Under Glass
Author: Jaclyn Dolamore
Publication: Bloomsbury USA Children's Books (December 22, 2009)

Product Description from Amazon: Nimira is a foreign music-hall girl forced to dance for mere pennies. When wealthy sorcerer Hollin Parry hires her to sing with a piano-playing automaton, Nimira believes it is the start of a new and better life. In Parry's world, however, buried secrets are beginning to stir. Unsettling below-stairs rumors swirl about ghosts, a madwoman roaming the halls, and Parry's involvement with a league of sorcerers who torture fairies for sport. Then Nimira discovers the spirit of a fairy gentleman named Erris is trapped inside the clockwork automaton, waiting for someone to break his curse. The two fall into a love that seems hopeless, and breaking the curse becomes a race against time, as not just their love, but the fate of the entire magical world may be in peril.

My Thoughts: This was a lovely book. I like the character of Nimira. Her mother was a famous dancer and her father a lord. When her mother dies and her father is disgraced, Nimira decides to try to make her own fortune in a strange land. She is just 13 when she leaves home and is almost 17 when this story begins. She has found that dancing is not so highly prized and there isn't a fortune to be found. When she has a chance to work for the sorcerer Hollin Parry, she looks at it as a possible chance for a better life. This quote, when she sees Parry's home, gives a good flavor of her.
"Vestenveld," he said. "The Parry estate. How do you like it?" He watched me.
"Lovely," I said, although my first thought was what a cold and lonely face the house wore in the cloudy night. Lights glowed from just a scattered handful of windows, while the building itself looked endless, with arches and stone towers and dozens of separate roofs. The architect seemed to have tacked on majesty wherever he could find a spot."
She quickly discovers that the automaton that Hollin wants her to perform with is a man imprisoned by a sorcerer. In fact, he is Erris a fairy prince imprisoned during the last war with fairy that killed all of his brothers and sisters making him the rightful king of fairy. She is determined to help him and over the course of some time falls in love with him. Otherwise, her life at Parry's estate is a lonely one.
"I lingered over my eggs and toast, heaving a few dramatic sighs to myself. If one spends too many hours in solitude, one starts to emote for one's own benefit."
Throughout the book I was uncertain about the character of Hollin Parry. He is a rich man but under the control of the head of the Sorcerer's Councl Mr. Soleran Smollings. He is being blackmailed by him. He seems to be a very wishy-washy sort of person. He says he wants to run away with Nimira but conveniently forgets to mention that his wife Annilie is alive and imprisoned in the attic. Hollin had cast a spell to try to save her life and now she sees spirits. This casting a spell of dark magic has given Smollings the fodder to blackmail him. Hollin seems to have accepted defeat before fighting any battle.

Nimira is young but very courageous. She is willing to do anything to help Erris. She even calls on the Queen of Longest Night to aide him. The queen makes him flesh again but he still needs the clockwork key to keep from winding down. Making him flesh again doesn't solve the problems. There is still the question of dark magic and the political situation puts all of them in danger. Smollings is a very powerful man and sorcerer.
"Sometimes, before you make any plans or resolutions, before you declare your heroic intent to persevere, you just have to cry.
And cry I did."
After Smollings takes Erris away, Nim plans with Hollin and Annilie to fight for justice. It takes all their gifts and courage to triumph. Even after defeating Smollings problems remain to be solved. When the books ends Erris and Nim are off to try to solve some of the problems. I hope Ms. Dolamore is busy writing their next adventure because I want to know what happens next.

Challenges: 2010 YA Debut Author, 2010 Young Adult Reading Challenge, RYOB Challenge

Review: The Liaden Universe by Sharon Lee and Steve Miller

This is not a review of a single book but of a series of books that is one of my favorites. I want to live in the Liaden Universe (but only if I can be of Clan Korval).

I just read the latest chapbook Halfling Moon by Sharon Lee and Steve Miller and was transported back to the Liaden Universe and the adventures of the members of Clan Korval. Sharon Lee and Steve Miller have created a wonderful universe for their books.

My love affair with Liad and Clan Korval began when I discovered Agent of Change in Uncle Hugo's Science Fiction Book Store sometime in the late 80s or early 90s. I found Conflict of Honors and Carpe Diem on the same trip. I read the books, fell in love with the characters, and then began to search for more -- with no success.

Sharon and Steve tell the story of their rocky road to book publication in their books. But, in essence, the birth of the internet kept them writing. Back in the days of usenet groups rec.arts.sf.written was a gathering place for devoted fans of the first three books in the Liaden Universe. Loyal fans created a group called the Friends of Liad.  The Friends encouraged Sharon and Steve to continuie to write in the Liaden Universe. The wikipedia article here gives excellent information about the series and the world. When Sharon and Steve could not find a publisher, they met the needs of their fans by writing and selling annual chapbooks containing further stories in the Liaden Universe. (Halfling Moon is the latest.)

There is also a website about the Liaden Universe here.

I have all of the books and chapbooks that are available. I have the books in multiple edtions and on my Kindle so that I can always get my Liaden fix. I reread the books at least once a year and am always eager for the next new thing.

Here are brief summaries of the first three books which are getting hard to find but are well worth the search:

Agent of Change -- Fleeing the scene of his latest mission, Val Con yos'Phelium finds himself saving the life of ex-mercenary Miri Robertson, a young Tarren on the run from interplanetary assassins. Thrown together by circumstances, Val Con and Miri struggle to elude their enemies and stay alive without slaying each other-or surrendering to the unexpected passion that flares between them.

Carpe Diem -- On the run from interplanetary assassins, covert operative Val Con yos'Phelium and former mercenary sergeant Miri Robertson end up stranded on a distant planet-with no rescue in sight.

Conflict of Honors -- Declared legally dead by a High Priestess of the Goddess and abandoned by her mother, Priscilla Delacroix has roamed the galaxy for ten years, surviving and becoming a woman of extraordinary skills. Now, she's been betrayed and abandoned once again, left on a distant planet by the Liaden starship on which she had been an important officer. But she's not alone: starship captain Shan yos'Galan has his own score to settle with the same enemy and is about to offer her an alliance.

After reading these, I wanted more of the story. Ten years went by. Then, luckily for me, Sharon and Steve were able to find a publisher (Meisha Merlin) for further adventures and published Plan B, Local Custom, Scout's Progress and I Dare from 1999 to 2002. But then Meisha Merlin folded leaving Sharon and Steve in publishing limbo (and owed a bunch of money) again.

They took to the internet and used the storyteller's bowl model to continue to write the story after I Dare. The model is pretty simple -- the authors would write a new chapter when a certain amount of funds are received. Sharon and Steve set the amount of $300 for each chapter thinking that they would have time (maybe even weeks) before the $300 total was reached. They determined that those who contributed at least $25 would receive a copy of the finished book if or when it became a published book. They were surprised to find that the Friends of Liad and many others were eager for these books and some large number of chapters was paid for even before chapter 1 appeared. I contributed and got to read the stories that became Fledgling and Saltation as they were being written -- one chapter every week or so.

Those books were eventually purchased by and published by Baen Books. Fledgling came out in September 2009 and Saltation will be published in April 2010. Baen is also publishing the earlier books in the Liaden Universe. I see that The Dragon Variations containing Local Custom, Scout's Progress and Conflict of Honors will be published in June 2010. Baen has also purchased new adventures in the Liaden Universe.

I'll admit that I am a sucker for a good science fiction romance. My favorites of all of them, because of the romance aspects, are Local Custom and Scout's Progress. Mouse and Dragon, which continues Aelliana and Dav's story, will be coming out June 1, 2010. You can be sure that it is on my list to be purchased.

If you like character-driven space opera with doses of romance (and 8' tall turtles of great age and power), I invite you to give these a try. Join the group of the addicted and become a Friend of Liad.

Review: Kitty's House of Horrors by Carrie Vaughn

Kitty's House of Horrors
Author: Carrie Vaughn
Publication: Grand Central Publishing; Original edition (January 1, 2010)

Product Description from Amazon: Talk radio host and werewolf Kitty Norville has agreed to appear on TV's first all-supernatural reality show. She's expecting cheesy competitions and manufactured drama starring shapeshifters, vampires, and psychics. But what begins as a publicity stunt will turn into a fight for her life.

The cast members, including Kitty, arrive at the remote mountain lodge where the show is set. As soon as filming starts, violence erupts and Kitty suspects that the show is a cover for a nefarious plot. Then the cameras stop rolling, cast members start dying, and Kitty realizes she and her monster housemates are ironically the ultimate prize in a very different game. Stranded with no power, no phones, and no way to know who can be trusted, she must find a way to defeat the evil closing in . . . before it kills them all.

My Thoughts: This seventh entry into the Kitty Norville series had all of the elements that I enjoy about the series -- humor, danger, adventure. Kitty is a character that is easy to pull for. She is smart, caring, and concerned about people. She is also a werewolf and we get to see her thoughts when she is a wolf. This adventure has her leave Ben at home waiting for Cormac's parole hearing while she goes off to a lodge in deepest Montana for a reality show. She is more or less coerced by the producers because they have already convinced some of her friends to take part. Once they arrive at the lodge they all feel uneasy and it isn't long until the situation completely falls apart.

The story was filled with taut adventure. It was an "edge of your seat" read. I read late into the night to finish this one because I knew I wouldn't sleep until I knew the outcome. I breathed a deep sigh of relief when I closed the last page. There will no doubt be problems ahead but Kitty and her pack are complete.

Challenges: RYOB Challenge

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Contest! Contest! Ends Feb. 12

A new blogger Marq at Love to Read for Fun is having a contest to celebrate 100 followers. The prize is a set of books by Lisa McMann -- Wake, Fade and Gone. The contest ends Feb. 12. I have Wake on my TBR pile but haven't gotten to it yet. It would be great to have the whole set.

Click the link to learn about the contest, become a follower and enter to join in the fun.

YA Review: Firespell by Chloe Neill

Author: Chloe Neill
Publication: Signet (January 5, 2010)
Pages: 246

Amazon Product Information:
New Girl.
New School.
Old Evil.

From the author of the Chicagoland Vampires novels.

A new series about a boarding school filled with something worse than homework.

Lily's parents have sent her to a fancy boarding school in Chicago filled with the ultra-rich. If that wasn't bad enough, she's hearing and seeing bizarre things on St. Sophie's creepy campus. Her roommate, Scout, keeps her sane, but keeps disappearing at night. When one day Lily finds Scout running from real-life monsters, she learns the hard way that Scout is involved in a splinter group of rebel teens.

They protect Chicago from demons, vamps, and dark magic users. It's too bad Lily doesn't have powers of her own to help. At least, none that she's discovered yet...

My Thoughts: I really like Lily's voice in this book. She is smart and smart-mouthed. Her is her comment as she enters the room of one of her suite-mates, one of the "brat pack" that makes life interesting for Lily and her BFF Scout:
"I ventured inside and got my first the room pink threw up on. Honestly--it looked like a Barbie factory exploded. There was pink everywhere, from the walls to the carpet to the bedspread and the pillowcases. I practically had to squint against the glare."
She is an attractive and self-confident young woman who is trying very hard to make sense of a bewildering situation. Besides the whole magic problem, Lily also meets a boy and that relationship begins in this book with some cute scenes. This quote sums up Lily's attitude as she gets involved in the secret activities at St. Sophia's:
"Have you ever had one of those days when you give up on being really clean, and settle for largely clean? Where you don't have time for the entire scrubbing and exfoliating regime, so tou settle for the basics? Where brushing your teeth becomes the most vigorous part of your cleaning ritual?

Yeah, welcome to Monday morning at St. Sophia's School for (Slightly Grimy) Girls."
I found the book to be a satisfying and entertaining read filled with interesting characters and with an interesting system of magic. There are unanswered questions: what is the real story with Lily's parents? what is Sebastian doing? where does the relationship with Jason go? what about Lily's magic? I hope these are answered in further books in this new series.

Challenges: 2010 YA Debut Author, 2010 YA Reading Challenge, RYOB Challenge

Monday, January 11, 2010

Contest! Contest! **Contest Closed**

Shannon at Ramblings of a Wannabe Scribe is having a really cool contest. This is Lisa Schroeder week at her blog and she is giving away some autographed books. Shannon says it much better. So follow the link to her blog, become a follower, and enter. (If you do, tell her I sent you so that I get an extra entry.)

Contest deadline is 11:59 PM PST on Sunday, January 17.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

YA Review: My Soul to Save by Rachel Vincent

My Soul to Save
Author: Rachel Vincent
Publication: Harlequin (December 29, 2009)

Product description from Amazon: When Kaylee Cavanaugh screams, someone dies.

So when teen pop star Eden croaks onstage and Kaylee doesn't wail, she knows something is dead wrong. She can't cry for someone who has no soul.

The last thing Kaylee needs right now is to be skipping school, breaking her dad's ironclad curfew and putting her too-hot-to-be-real boyfriend's loyalty to the test. But starry-eyed teens are trading their souls: a flickering lifetime of fame and fortune in exchange for eternity in the Netherworld—a consequence they can't possibly understand.

Kaylee can't let that happen, even if trying to save their souls means putting her own at risk….

My Thoughts: I enjoyed this third (if you count the novella) trip to the world of the Soul Screamers. I really like the character of Kaylee. She is a typical teen who is constantly pushing at the boundaries her dad has set around her and doing what she has to do to follow her sense of what is right. I like her voice. I smiled at some of the comments that she makes. This one was especially good considering that I am an old Trekker:
"Great," I breathed, rolling my eyes. We were accompanying Tod-the-reaper-fanboy to meet his hero. It couldn't get any lamer without a Star Trek convention and an English-to-Klingon dictionary.
We learn a lot more about bean sidhe and reapers. We also find out lots about the Netherworld. I chuckled at the notion of Dekker Media selling the souls of its young talent to increase its own bottom line. I'm sure that the resemblance to another large corporation starting with D and known for its famous mouse was purely coincidental.

Amazon says this a for ages 9-12 but I'd target it higher. Kaylee and Nash are getting close to developing an adult relationship which is another reason why her father is watching them so closely. There are a number of petting scenes.

I thought the book was excellent and will be eagerly waiting for June and My Soul to Keep.

Challenges: RYOB Challenge, 2010 Young Adult Book Challenge