Friday, March 30, 2012

Let the Bloggiesta Begin (Maybe?)

Turns out, we're moving this weekend, so Bloggiesta might be a total flop for me this time.  Still, there are a few things I'd like to get done this weekend - here's to hoping I can squeeze in some time this weekend that doesn't involve hauling boxes, cleaning house(s), and putting stuff away.  I could definitely use some chips and salsa in there somewhere to give me energy, anyway.  To sign up or learn more, visit Suey at It's All About Books or Danielle at There's a Book.  Check back on this post to see if I've done anything.  :)  I may even manage to squeeze in a mini-challenge (I've got some things I need help with and I'm betting they will help).

Bloggiesta To-Do:
Update my Title and Author pages
(I'd really like to add internal links at the top so you can skip to a letter and not have to scroll down)
Update goodreads
Update my header (so need something new up there - it's making me bored just looking at it)
Write some posts for rainy days (ok, this is definitely too ambitious for this weekend, but still)
Get a local events page started (!)
Figure out something for the button bar (I seriously need help here - I've got a need for more buttons, but they all just bunch up instead of making a new row!)
Post about formatting photos on the blog (this might actually happen, but it might also be painfully confusing)

And that's about as ridiculously ambitious as possible.  I hope I at least get one or two things done...

What are you working on for Bloggiesta?  Any tips for me on those issues up there?

If you buy through my Amazon linkage, I will get a very small percentage

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Book Review: Midnight in Austenland by Shannon Hale

Midnight in Austenland by Shannon Hale
Publisher: Bloomsbury USA
Publication date: January 2012
Pages: 288
Source: e-book from NetGalley
For: Review
Series: Companion novel to Austenland

When Charlotte Kinder finds herself divorced and uncertain what do to next, she decides to take a vacation to Austenland - a place where she can become someone else and live in the world of Jane Austen. But when a mystery crops up during her time there, she is not sure all of it is pretend. Can she figure out the real from the fake before it is too late?

Things I Liked:
I am simply in love with Shannon Hale's writing.  She could make something beautiful or interesting or funny out of the most drab or boring topic (not that this book is drab or boring in plot).  I'd read a book on any topic written by her.  So, since I'm obviously a fan, I have to admit I truly enjoyed this book.  I loved the characters, particularly Charlotte as a woman trying to figure out her place in a world thrown upside down and backwards.  She was vulnerable, but strong and the parts where she starts to fight back were my favorites.  The mystery was fairly interesting and kept me wondering (though mystery fans probably had it figured out right away) and the whole Gothic feel and nod to Northanger Abbey made it so fun.  I laughed and shivered and then laughed again all the way through.  Delightful!

Things I Didn't Like:
I think it will be enjoyed more by people who may be experiencing some of the same issues that Charlotte and even Miss Charming did - a messy divorce or just feeling undesirable.  But it can be enjoyed by many other kinds of folks too, since I certainly did.  And the mystery wasn't exactly thrilling, but more just there to allow awesome character interactions.  Definitely not my favorite Shannon Hale book, but still pretty fun to read.

Can be enjoyed on its own, but don't skip the delight that is Austenland
I don't know, I don't read a lot of cozy mysteries or chick lit or even Austen-inspired stuff

s-factor: ! 
a few here and there

mrg-factor: X 
implied, not on page

v-factor: -> 
a little bit, nothing gory

Overall rating: ****

What's your favorite Shannon Hale? Or your go-to-for-the-writing author?

If you buy through my Amazon linkage, I will get a very small percentage

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Book Review: The Iron Knight by Julie Kagawa

The Iron Knight by Julie Kagawa
Publisher: Harlequin Teen
Publication date: October 2011
Pages: 400
Source: e-book from NetGalley
For: Fun
Series: Iron Fey, Book 4

*Spoilers for the first three books are inevitable*
Ash, banished from his home in the Winter Court, unable to be with Meghan in the Iron Court, is determined to find a way to stay with her. With the help of Puck and a few other friends, he embarks on a dangerous journey, one that will lead to death or to a life with his true love.

Things I Liked:
Kagawa can write a killer good faery story.  I love the complex world she's created and especially the many unique characters that inhabit Faery.  There are so many aspects of the Nevernever that make this story interesting and add depth.  I also love a good story and this one definitely has a good story.  Action and adventure, sacrifice, love, understanding, and a touch of humor.  Something for everyone in this one.  Though I saw the ending coming a mile away (I mean, who didn't?) I still enjoyed the journey.  I'll be interested to see where Kagawa goes next.

Things I Didn't Like:
I actually had a really hard time getting into the book.  I've never been that much of a fan of Ash, to be honest, so that probably was part of it.  The story was pretty slow moving too, despite having some awesome action sequences.  I just really struggled through about the first half of the book.  After that, I got into it enough.  It was pretty predictable in the story arc, and a little bit sappy sweet, but I think Kagawa strikes a pretty good balance too.  But man, I really liked Puck more.

Read the first three books in the Iron Fey series first
Wicked Lovely series by Melissa Marr

s-factor: ! 
a few here and there

mrg-factor: X 
implied, off-page stuff

v-factor: ->->
they have to battle creatures and beasties quite often

Overall rating: ***

I think this series has been raved about by nearly everyone.  Am I just missing something?

If you buy through my Amazon linkage, I will get a very small percentage

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Top Ten Tuesday: Books I'd Play Hooky With

This week's Top Ten Tuesday, hosted by The Broke and the Bookish, is Spring Fever: Top Ten Books I'd Play Hooky With.  I've decided to interpret this as books I'd like to put my life on hold to read.  Here they are, ones I've been meaning to get to or dying to get to.

Partials by Dan Wells
This one I'm still waiting for from the library, but I've been aching to get my hands on it and start reading!

Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier
For my Classic Double Challenge, I've actually been listening to the audio, but it turns out it's abridged and I'd really like to read the whole thing again.  Can't everything just be on hold for a while?

The Agency 3: The Traitor in the Tunnel by Y.S. Lee
I've got this one on my kindle, waiting so patiently for me to devour it.  I'm pretty sure I'll finally get to it this week!  I could use something a little different from my usual, like the previous Agency books have been.

Pandemonium by Lauren Oliver
Still waiting for this one from the library too!  I can't wait to see where Lena goes next.

Dead End in Norvelt by Jack Gantos
This one has been so patient, since I checked it out weeks ago to see why it won the Newbery over my beloved Okay For Now.  It's still waiting...for me to have the time.

The Drowned Cities by Paolo Bacigalupi
I got an ARC of this and I was so excited, since I loved Ship Breaker.  I can't believe I haven't just dropped everything and picked it up yet.

Seeds of Rebellion by Brandon Mull
Another library waiting.  I like this interesting new series by Mull and I want to see what happens next.  If only I had this one waiting in my reading pile already.

For Darkness Shows the Stars by Diana Peterfreund
I'm pretty sure that when I finally get my hands on this, it will jump to the top of the TBR mountain.  Haven't I already expressed my desire to read it?  If you haven't found your desire, check out Angie's review and you will want it immediately.

Starters by Lissa Price
Another patiently waiting kindle book.  I just love the concept, so I'd really like to get started on it soon!

172 Hours on the Moon by Johan Harstad
This is another ARC waiting for me and I love the cover as well as the concept.  Seriously, I need more reading hours in the day. 

What books do you wish you could drop everything to read?

If you buy through my Amazon linkage, I will get a very small percentage

Monday, March 26, 2012

Listless Monday: Moon Books

Listless Monday was inspired by both Amanda at A Bookshelf Monstrosity's feature Books by Theme and Court at Once Upon a Bookshelf's Listed feature.  Be sure to check out their lists!

In celebration of the upcoming Easter holiday, I decided to do a list of books involving the moon.  How, you ask, is that a celebration of Easter?  Ah, because the date for Easter is decided by picking the first Sunday after the first full moon, after the Spring Equinox.  Follow me?  Either way, it's as good a time as any to pull out a moony list. 

Beneath a Meth Moon by Jacqueline Woodson
Blue Moon by Alyson Noel
Claire de Lune by Christine Johnson
Emily of New Moon by L.M. Montgomery
Graffiti Moon by Cath Crowley
Keeping the Moon by Sarah Dessen
The Last Survivors series by Susan Beth Pfeffer
Liar's Moon by Elizabeth C. Bunce
The Lunar Chronicles series by Marissa Meyer
Moon Over Manifest by Clare Vanderpool
Moon Shot by Alan Shepard, Deke Slayton, and Jay Barbree
The Moonstone by Wilkie Collins
New Moon by Stephenie Meyer
Owl Moon by Jane Yolen
Sun and Moon, Ice and Snow by Jessica Day George
The Timekeeper's Moon by Joni Sensel
The Trouble with Half a Moon by Danette Vigilante
Walk Two Moons by Sharon Creech
Where the Mountain Meets the Moon by Grace Lin

Notably, I didn't delve into the werewolf genre, because every one has a different take on whether the moon is important or not.  Any suggestions? 

If you buy through my Amazon linkage, I will get a very small percentage

Friday, March 23, 2012

Retro Friday Review: Ender's Game By Orson Scott Card

Retro Friday is a meme hosted by Angie of Angieville and "focuses on reviewing books from the past. This can be an old favorite, an under-the-radar book you think deserves more attention, something woefully out of print, etc." 

Ender's Game by Orson Scott Card
Publisher: Tor Books
Publication date: 1985 (originally published as a short story in 1977)
Pages: 352
Source: Audiobook from Library
For: Fun
Series: Ender series, Book 1

Ender is a third child, a rarity in his world where population is strictly monitered. He has been chosen by the military to go to battle school at six years old, after his two older siblings were rejected. Little does he expect to encounter there brutality, cruelty, and no sympathy from adults. Working his way up by skill, strategy, and wits, Ender is being groomed to play a vital part in the war for the planet - one that will decide the fate of all humans.

Things I Liked:
This truly is a clever, original story.  I was completely impressed with how real it felt.  I love the complex plot, the real and completely horrifying world of the battle school, how Card doesn't hold back on what happens to his characters.  Ender feels like a real kid and we feel the horror of the situations he is put into, the reality that there are no adults to look out for him.  It progresses completely to the ending that is ridiculously surprising, yet afterward seems inevitable.  It's smart and good sci-fi and will keep you invested in knowing what Ender will do next, or rather what will be done to Ender next.  He has a lot of internal conflict and I think that is realistically portrayed.  Just plain good storytelling.

Things I Didn't Like:
It can be very depressing at times, not that this is something inherantly bad about the book.  It's just hard to see Ender deal with all the crap thrown at him.  I listened to the audio version this time and I liked having different voices for different characters, but Ender's voice was pretty annoying.  Valentine's was belivable and felt young enough, but Ender's voice was less so - an older man with a rather gruff voice (Stefan Rudnicki).  This was ok at times, but other times it grated on me to have such a young kid read by a person with such an old voice.  Still, it didn't detract much from the really good story.

Honestly, I don't know.  I guess I don't read enough sci-fi.
For other books with great plot twists, check out my Twisted Tales book list

s-factor: !@ 
scattered throughout

mrg-factor: none 

v-factor: ->->-> 
some of it is pretty horrifying, but not overly detailed

Overall rating: ***** 

Have you read it? What did you think?

If you buy through my Amazon linkage, I will get a very small percentage

Thursday, March 22, 2012

In Preparation for Hunger Games, Get Yourself a Hunger Name

For all of you midnight showing folks (unfortunately, not me), make sure you stop by this fun site - Hunger Names - before you go.  That way you'll have your name and how you were killed (or if you survived) in your own Hunger Games.  Here are a few I picked up:

Your name is Finnick Hodgepodge
Congratulations! You had the honor of being a District 8 tribute in the 2nd Hunger Games!
You were killed by natural causes.

Your name is Westych Rabbledeen
Congratulations! You had the honor of being a District 8 tribute in the 15th Hunger Games!
You were killed by the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune.

Your name is Dabble Dondlebree
Congratulations! You had the honor of being a District 12 tribute in the 46th Hunger Games!
You were killed by a thousand paper cuts.

I'm particularly partial to the paper cut death - that sounds about right for a librarian.  Stop by and then come back to let me know your name (and death)! 

If you buy through my Amazon linkage, I will get a very small percentage

Book Review: The Fault in Our Stars by John Green

The Fault in Our Stars by John Green
Publisher: Dutton Juvenile
Publication date: January 2012
Pages: 336
Source: Library
For: Fun

Hazel was not expected to live as long as she has - her cancer has been terminal from the start. But when a new boy comes to cancer support group, she finds that she hasn't truly been living. Augustus brings a new meaning and spark to her life - even if it is at the end.

Things I Liked:
What a heart-breaking book!  Knowing in advance that the story is about teens with cancer, you know the book will break your heart.  But still, the journey was worth it.  I really loved this book, though I am not a professed John Green fan (having only read An Abundance of Katherines).  The teens felt very real (well, most of the time - see below) and the story was never sappy or melodramatic.  It was realistic, painful, and beautifully written.  The development of Augustus and Hazel's relationship was slow and imperfect and therefore I appreciated it more.  And oh, the humor!  This is what keeps the book from falling into a deep pit of despairing sorrow.  The characters, while not being the stereotypical happy-in-the-face-of-tragedy teens, manage to find humor and fun in the different and difficult lives they lead.  Not much I can add to the many accolades and ravings of other readers.  Consider me a John Green convert.  Favorites:
"The whole thing where a boy who is not unattractive or unintelligent or seemingly in any way unacceptable stares at me and points out incorrect uses of literality and compares me to actresses and asks me to watch a move at his house.  But of course there is always a hamartia and yours is that oh, my God, even though you HAD FREAKING CANCER you give money to a company in exchange for the chance to acquire YET MORE CANCER." p  19-20
Sometimes you read a book and it fills you with this weird evangelical zeal, and you become convinced that the shattered world will never be put back together unless and until all living humans read the book.  And then there are books like An Imperial Affliction, which you can't tell people about, books so special and rare and yours that advertising your affection feels like a betrayal.  p 33
Things I Didn't Like:
Ok, I'll just say this at the risk of sounding lame: sometimes the characters did not sound like teenagers.  Yes, they were very smart, very well-read, pretty advanced teens, but even so they waxed philosophical a bit too often.  And they used a lot of intellectual words.  I'm not saying these kinds of teens don't exist, I'm just saying sometimes it didn't feel quite as real.  But, considering all that praise above, you can bet it didn't bug me too much.

Reminded me of Drums, Girls, and Dangerous Pie by Jordan Sonnenblick
Reads like other John Green books - such as An Abundance of Katherines

s-factor: !@# 
regularly occuring, though only 1 f-bomb

mrg-factor: X 
it happens off page mostly, but it happens

v-factor: none 
though none of the effects of cancer and treatment is glossed over

Overall rating: *****

Anybody out there not fall in love with this book?

If you buy through my Amazon linkage, I will get a very small percentage

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Book Review: The Throne of Fire by Rick Riordan

Posted as part of Tween Tuesday, hosted by GreenBeanTeenQueen.
The Throne of Fire by Rick Riordan
Publisher: Hyperion Book CH
Publication date: May 2011
Pages: 464
Source: Audiobook from Library
For: Fun!
Series: Kane Chronicles, Book 2

*Spoilers for The Red Pyramid are inevitable*
Carter and Sadie Kane may have temporarily defeated Apophis, but he's bound to return if they don't find the legendary Book of Ra and use it to help defeat him.  With the help of some old friends and new ones as well, the Kanes are determined to keep chaos at bay until Apophis can be contained completely.

Things I Liked:
I always love Riordan's series.  He combines perfectly smart stories, real kid characters, and a level of humor that can entertain kids and adults alike.  I love how easily he's taken history and mythology and made it fun, interesting, and readable.  The books are so clever too - phrasing and humor and everything done so well.  Sadie and Carter are so real, particularly the way their narrations seem almost like a sibling fight.  Reminds me of myself and my older brother sometimes.  I've really been enjoying the audio versions, because the two narrators are so good - they sound just right for the ages and they make great sarcastic inflections too.  And Bes!  Oh, how I loved Bes.  There are many wonderful things that make these series a blast to read or listen to. 

Things I Didn't Like:
I always think the stories last just a little too long.  I think if they were a bit shorter and maybe cut out one or two side stories/adventures, they would be better.  I also thought it was a bit odd that during the exciting ending Carter seemed to do practically nothing and Sadie did everything important.  Just some little qualms, though, because they really are so fun - kids will devour them!

Read The Red Pyramid first
It's like the Percy Jackson series, of course

s-factor: !

maybe one or two 

mrg-factor: none

v-factor: ->->
some action, not descriptive or graphic

Overall rating: **** 

What do you think of the surge in mythological-based books?

If you buy through my Amazon linkage, I will get a very small percentage

Monday, March 19, 2012

I Actually Need It 13

I Actually NEED It is an extremely irregular feature where I express my desire, or rather need, for certain books that haven't come out or aren't available at my library yet.  To learn about the reason behind the name, check out my inaugural I Actually NEED It post.

I can't believe I'm already posting about fall books!  Still, here is a selection of books I currently actually NEED to have:

The Wild Queen: The Days and Nights of Mary, Queen of Scots by Carolyn Meyer
What this has going for it: it's about Mary, Queen of Scots and it's by a favorite historical fiction author!  Looking forward to June 2012.

For Darkness Shows the Stars by Diana Peterfreund
I've been dying to get my hands on this since I heard that it was a Persuasion retelling - my favorite Jane Austen story.  It doesn't hurt that the cover has a gorgeous starry sky and that it's dystopian/futuristic either.  Sounds like the perfect book for me!  Can't wait for June 2012.

This Is Not a Test by Courtney Summers
Not only is the cover unnervingly creepy, the premise sounds equally disturbing - someone who doesn't want to survive the apocalypse?  Plus, I can't stay away from those end of the world books.  Coming June 2012.

Endlessly by Kiersten White
Ok, admittedly, I haven't yet read Supernaturally.  I know, shoot me now.  But since I really loved the paranormal with a bit of tongue-in-cheek from Paranormalcy, I think it's safe to say, this will be on my reading list come July 2012.

Insignia by S.J. Kincaid
I can't stay away from the smart, complex dystopian fare being churned out.  Plus, this sounds a bit like Ender's Game, so I think I'll plan to read it as soon as possible.  Coming July 2012.

The Kill Order by James Dashner
I enjoyed the Maze Runner series, though the ending wasn't my favorite.  Still, I'll be interested to see what this prequel will tell us about Thomas' past.  All will be revealed coming August 2012.

The Crown of Embers by Rae Carson
A sequel for one of my favorite fantasy books of last year, The Girl of Fire and Thorns?  Please, give me more Elisa and her world.  Can't wait for September 2012!

Unspoken: The Lynburn Legacy by Sarah Rees Brennan
I need look no further than the author for a reason to pick this new series up.  But, since the premise involves being in love with an imaginary friend?  I say, bring on September 2012!

Vessel by Sarah Beth Durst
Aside from the gorgeous cover, which you know I admire, the fantasy setting for this book sounds like something I will adore.  I mean, flying glass serpents?  Yes, please.  Coming September 2012.

What books are you actually NEEDing?

If you buy through my Amazon linkage, I will get a very small percentage
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