Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Book Review + Giveaway: Auracle by Gina Rosati

Title: Auracle
Author: Gina Rosati
Reading Level: Young Adult
Publisher: Roaring Brook Press
ARC, 298 pages
Date Published: August 7, 2012
Source: Publisher
Description (Taken from Goodreads):
16 year old Anna Rogan has a secret she's only shared with her best friend, Rei; she can astrally project out of her body, allowing her spirit to explore the world and the far reaches of the universe.

When there's a fatal accident and her classmate Taylor takes over Anna's body, what was an exhilarating distraction from her repressive home life threatens to become a permanent state. Faced with a future trapped in another dimension, Anna turns to Rei for help. Now the two of them must find a way to get Anna back into her body and stop Taylor from accusing an innocent friend of murder. Together Anna and Rei form a plan but it doesn't take into account the deeper feelings that are beginning to grow between them.
Are you looking for a book that has the precisely perfect combination of snarky, sweet, and just a tad paranormal? If you are, or if you’re just looking for some phenomenal YA, then Auracle is the book to pick up.

Anna’s strange power to pull herself out of her body and travel anywhere she wants would seem impossible, but she accepts it and loves it. Rei Ellis, here best friend, accepts it to, but doesn’t necessarily love it that much. With good reason too, because she uses just that power one night and finds herself locked out of her body when evil high school classmate Taylor meets her untimely death, but instead of going into the bright white light, she goes straight into Anna’s body.

Hilarity ensues. Along with a good amount of snark, mean girl-ness, and some seriously sweet Rei and astral projection/sorta-not-really-there Anna. The funny seems strange because a girl did really die and a good guy is really on the run because of it, but Taylor is so genuinely horrible that it makes it a little easier to laugh throughout the book. Taylor and Anna square off more than once, leading to some great scenes.

The story unfolds quickly, with a good mix of humor, serious scenes, and the blossoms of romance. Anna is undeniably easy to relate to. She comes off as real and has a great sense of humor. The story, the characters, and the dialogue are fresh and exciting, making Auracle both incredibly fun to read and impossible to put down.

Opening line: Rei Ellis whispers to me as the light goes dark. ~ pg. 1

Favorite lines/passages: I know I feel like nothing more than a gentle vibration beneath his fingers, but I can feel him, so gloriously solid.
I feel like a dream sitting next to reality. ~ pg. 233

*This is the ARC version and lines, pages, cover art may differ from final copy  
*This review is my honest opinion and I received no monetary compensation from it.

Two lucky people will win an Auracle swag pack, pictured below:

The dirty details:
Open to US only
One entry per person
Normal contest policy applies
Ends August 6, 2012

To enter:
leave a comment with a way to contact you
Find Gina Rosati online:

Buy it online:

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

The Mortal Instruments Cast Thus Far

Casting for The Mortal Instruments first book-to-movie adaptation, City of Bones, is well under way. So far, we have a good chunk of the main characters cast and more keep on rolling in each day. 

Here's a list of the cast thus far:
Lily Collins as Clary Fray (still not 100% sold on this one)

Jamie Campbell Bower as Jace Wayland (he's growing on me, sorta)

Robert Sheehan as Simon Lewis (OMG love this!!)

Jemima West as Isabelle Lightwood

Godfrey Gao as Magnus Bane (I could get behind this casting)

Lena Headey as Jocelyn Fray (I'm liking this one)

Jared Harris as Hodge Starkweather (OMG could he be more perfect?!)

Kevin Durand as Pangborn (He's so good at playing bad)

Robert Maillet as Blackwell

*Will update as more cast members are revealed

Monday, July 23, 2012

Book Review: Pushing the Limits by Katie McGarry

Title: Pushing the Limits
Author: Katie McGarry
Reading Level: Young Adult
Publisher: Harlequin Teen
ARC, 392 pages
Date Published: July 31, 2012
Source: BEA
Description (Taken from Goodreads):
"I won't tell anyone, Echo. I promise." Noah tucked a curl behind my ear. It had been so long since someone touched me like he did. Why did it have to be Noah Hutchins? His dark brown eyes shifted to my covered arms. "You didn't do that-did you? It was done to you?" No one ever asked that question. They stared. They whispered. They laughed. But they never asked.

So wrong for each other...and yet so right.

No one knows what happened the night Echo Emerson went from popular girl with jock boyfriend to gossiped-about outsider with "freaky" scars on her arms. Even Echo can't remember the whole truth of that horrible night. All she knows is that she wants everything to go back to normal. But when Noah Hutchins, the smoking-hot, girl-using loner in the black leather jacket, explodes into her life with his tough attitude and surprising understanding, Echo's world shifts in ways she could never have imagined. They should have nothing in common. And with the secrets they both keep, being together is pretty much impossible.Yet the crazy attraction between them refuses to go away. And Echo has to ask herself just how far they can push the limits and what she'll risk for the one guy who might teach her how to love again.

"An edgy romance that pulls you in and never lets go. I was hooked!"-Gena Showalter, New York Times bestselling author of the Intertwined series.
Do you ever feel like you’ve come across the most perfectly perfect book? Like a book that you cannot put down, that you do not want to put down, and something that just kills you in the best ways? That’s exactly how I felt with Pushing the Limits. Katie McGarry writes from the alternating perspectives of good girl with serious family issues, Echo, and seemingly bad boy also with serious family issues, Noah. And each of their voices are so true and the entire tone of the book is absolutely genuine.

Readers will feel Echo and Noah; their every emotion, their spark, their despair. The book will make you smile, fan yourself with the smexiness, and yes, cry. I cried my eyes out at certain points.

Echo is kind, and damaged, and so trapped in her loneliness. She experienced a trauma, but she cannot remember any of it. All she knows is that her father remains overbearing, she’s left with scars littering her arms, and her mother isn’t allowed to see her. But she doesn’t know why. The aftermath of whatever has shut down her memory has left her isolated.

Enter Noah. He comes off as a bad boy, but he has his own hidden issues. And with very good reason, having lost both his parents in a house fire, and only barely managing to get his younger brothers out. Now Noah has to contend with the foster care system and try to get his life together to gain custody of his brothers. Noah and Echo seem like complete opposites, but they’re really the only ones who can understand each other. The spark they share is incredible. Any scene with the two absolutely explodes with tension.

McGarry skillfully tells each character’s own story, and then ties Echo and Noah together. I loved that. Not only is there a well-developed and slowly unfolding relationship, but both characters can stand up individually as well. Echo’s disconnect from her father is so sad, it made my heart hurt. Her pain is evident throughout every page of the book, but her surprising happiness with Noah makes you root for them. I wanted to see them both break free from their pain, all the while knowing how difficult it would be.

Noah’s storyline in the book hit a little closer to home for me, just because I have younger brothers, so I know how I’d feel if I was in his position. Noah is a truly good guy. He’s messed up in the past, but when we see him with his brothers, we get to look past the guy that slacks off in school and smokes pot; we see a guy who loves completely. And then we see him begin to share that side of himself with Echo as well.

Pushing the Limits is easily one of the best contemporary stories I’ve ever read, and by far one of my favorite reads this year. It had a little bit of everything and YA readers will eat it up and beg for more. I know I did.

Opening line: “My father is a control freak, I hate my stepmother, my brother is dead and my mother has. . .well. . .issues. How do you think I’m doing?” ~ pg. 7

Favorite lines/passages: The worst type of crying wasn’t the kind everyone could see – the wailing on street corners, the tearing at clothes. No, the worst kind happened when your soul wept and no matter what you did, there was no way to comfort it. A section withered and became a scar on the part of your soul that survived. For people like me and Echo, our souls contained more scar tissue than life. ~ pg. 278

*This is the ARC version and lines, pages, cover art may differ from final copy  
This deserves like a gazillion stars!!!
*This review is my honest opinion and I received no monetary compensation from it.

Find Katie McGarry online:

Buy it online:

Sunday, July 22, 2012

In My Mailbox - (7/22/12)

In My Mailbox is a meme hosted by Kristi at the The Story Siren. It is a list of any of the books you may have received in the past week from bookstores, libraries, authors/publishers, trades, etc.

Sorry for the lack of posting lately. I meant to. Really. I was going to post some reviews (I have 7 or so pending) or do a little blogging world drama post (I've stayed out of it), but instead I've been reading a ton (woo!) and watching A LOT of Doctor Who. 

All that aside, here are the books I've picked up in the last few weeks:
For Review:
The Dark Unwinding by Sharon Cameron
The Raven Boys by Maggie Stiefvater

Pretty Amy by Lisa Burstein
This Dark Endeavor by Kennenth Oppel
Never Enough by Denise Jaden
Team Human by Justine Larbalestier & Sarah Rees Brennan

*Special thanks to Scholastic!!

Monday, July 16, 2012

Book Review + Giveaway: Mothership by Martin Leicht & Isla Neal

Title: Mothership
Authors: Martin Leicht & Islan Neal
Reading Level: Older Young Adult
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
Hardcover, 308 pages
Date Published: July 10, 2012
Source: Marketing/Publisher
Description (Taken from Big Honcho Media):
Pregnant. In space. Yeah, things are really looking up.

It’s 2074 and Elvie’s unplanned pregnancy (with Cole Archer, who bolted out of town half a millisecond after hearing the news, not that Elvie’s bitter about it or anything) forces her to leave her best bud back on Earth and spend her junior year aboard a corny old space cruiser with forty-five other hormonal teen girls (one of whom just happens to be her arch-nemesis). Getting shipped off to the Hanover School for Expecting Teen Mothers was not how Elvie imagined spending her junior year, but she can go with the flow. That is, until a team of hot commandos hijacks the ship—and one of them turns out to be Cole.

Mothership is the first installment in a new trilogy from Martin Leicht and Isla Neal that has been described as Juno meets Pretty In Pink…but in space.
Mothership is absolutely insane. Absolutely insane and full of witty one-liners and crazy, hormonal preggo girls. I was delighted with the perfectly placed foul-mouthery and the hilarious, ridiculous, ruckus of a plot kept my eyes glued to the pages.

Elvie Nara is certainly a new kind of heroine for readers to cheer for. And the authors are pro at keeping the girl on her toes and likable. She’s a spitfire with quite the attitude, but a brain to back it up. Despite the fact that she’s living on a ship of pregnant teens, and despite the fact that her baby daddy left her, and despite the fact that he shows up all gung-ho and gun-wielding with lots of fighting and death, Elvie is pretty bomb.

She’s my kind of girl because she’s quick-witted and sarcastic. Oh the sarcasm!! It made my sarcastic little heart go all pitter patter. Mothership is beautifully sarcastic, but it’s also wonderfully funny. Sure, if cracking jokes about pregnant teens isn’t your thing, then I understand that, but I loved it. Seriously loved it. The sci-fi-ness was also a nice touch, as the alien races were well-explained and kind of made sense in the grand scheme of things. And hello, they’re in space! So awesomeness is sure to abound.

So there are a lot of dumb. preggo girls running around? So what. They help make the book awesome. And I totes enjoyed the flashbacks to pre-pregnant days with Elvie and her best friend Ducky and her cluelessly awesome and has a drawer full of ‘in case of crisis’ folders, dad. Even Cole – the not-so-boyfriend who took off at the mention of pregnancy – makes for a good character.

So yeah, Mothership is pretty flipping cool, yo! Elvie and the Goober baby, and the alien races up to who knows what is beyond entertaining. Fans of slightly inappropriate humor will eat this up, but I have a feeling so many others will love this book, if they give it a shot. I know I did!

Opening line: As far as scientists have been able to determine, the primary function of the human coccyx, or tailbone, is to remind us that once upon a time we were all monkeys or something. ~ pg. 1

Favorite lines/passages: Honestly, part of me feels sorry for Cole. The guy looks like he wants to drop a smoke bomb and ninja vanish. ~ pg. 82 (Freakin’ Ninja Turtles reference FTW!!!!!!)
And some foul language, but I love it anyway:
Man, this shit just got ominous. ~ pg. 113

4.5 all the way baby! ALL. THE. WAY.

*This review is my honest opinion and I received no monetary compensation from it.

 Now for the giveaway:
*Two (2) lucky readers will win their own copy of Mothership

The dirty details:
Open to US only
One entry per person
Normal contest policy applies
 Ends July 23, 2012

To enter:
leave a comment with a way to contact you
That's it. Nice and simple.

*S&S is providing prizes and will do all mailings

Find Martin Leicht online:
S&S Author Page | Twitter

Find Isla Neal online:

Sunday, July 15, 2012

In My Mailbox - (7/15/12)

In My Mailbox is a meme hosted by Kristi at the The Story Siren. It is a list of any of the books you may have received in the past week from bookstores, libraries, authors/publishers, trades, etc.

I've been trying to read a lot, instead of buying a lot more, since BEA. Thus far it has been fairly successful, though there are several books I realllllllly want, so I'll probably be caving and buying some soon. For now though:
For Review:
White Lines by Jennifer Banash
Mothership by Martin Leicht & Isla Neal

Awesome Doctor Who Postcards in a cool little TARDIS box!!

*Special thanks to Penguin & Big Honcho/S&S!

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Never Enough Is Finally Out!!

Last year I read and loved Losing Faith by Denise Jaden, and today, her sophomore novel Never Enough is finally out. I've yet to read it, but I have no doubt I'll love it.

Description (Taken from Goodreads):
From the author of Losing Faith, a novel about two sisters and the eating disorder that threatens to destroy their family.

Loann’s always wanted to be popular and pretty like her sister, Claire. So when Claire’s ex-boyfriend starts flirting with her, Loann is willing to do whatever it takes to feel special… even if that means betraying her sister.

But as Loann slips inside Claire’s world, she discovers that everything is not as it seems. Claire’s quest for perfection is all-consuming, and comes at a dangerous price. As Claire increasingly withdraws from friends and family, Loann struggles to understand her and make amends. Can she heal their relationship —and her sister—before it’s too late?
So now you have an idea what the book is about...Having a title like Never Enough makes it obvious that self-esteem will play a role here. Denise, along with several other authors, came together to make a video highlighting how they, like everyone else, can feel like they're never enough. I hope you'll take a few minutes to check it out!

Monday, July 9, 2012

Book Review: My Name Is Mina by David Almond

Title: My Name Is Mina
Author: David Almond
Reading Level: Young Adult
Publisher: Delacorte Press
Hardcover, ARC 300 pages
Date Published: October 11, 2011
Source: Publisher
Description (Taken from Goodreads):
Mina loves the night. While everyone else is in a deep slumber, she gazes out the window, witness to the moon's silvery light. In the stillness, she can even hear her own heart beating. This is when Mina feels that anything is possible and her imagination is set free.

A blank notebook lies on the table. It has been there for what seems like forever. Mina has proclaimed in the past that she will use it as a journal, and one night, at last, she begins to do just that. As she writes, Mina makes discoveries both trivial and profound about herself and her world, her thoughts and her dreams.

Award-winning author David Almond reintroduces readers to the perceptive, sensitive Mina before the events of Skellig in this lyrical and fantastical work. My Name is Mina is not only a pleasure to read, it is an intimate and enlightening look at a character whose open mind and heart have much to teach us about life, love, and the mysteries that surround us.
Having never read Skellig, there’s a good chance that my review of My Name Is Mina is far different from someone’s who has read that book. My Name Is Mina is said to be a prequel to Skellig and though I never felt confused about any of the book, I think it lacked focus. The story is simply about a girl who is unlike most other girls and other children.

Mina is precocious and imaginative in ways that other children are not. She views the world with bright-eyed innocence and sees beauty everywhere. Having the entire novel from her point of view allows the readers to see the world with fresh wonderment. But Mina’s journal entries tend to wax poetic about feathers and flying and words, etc. It all becomes repetitive and the point becomes muddled.

For 300 pages, readers can live in Mina’s head, but that’s essentially it. There is no greater plot, other than seeing Mina. We see how she views the world, how she tends to hate school, how she loves her mother, and how she is beyond curious about all the things she encounters. She’s a loner, but sweet enough. It’s just that that is it. Mina’s story has no relevancy other than that.

My Name Is Mina has some incredibly glowing reviews, but I couldn’t view it the way others have. My suggestion is to most definitely read Skellig prior to picking this one up because I think it will change any readers view on Mina and the entire book. I have no doubt that this precocious British school girl will sweep other readers away into her imagination.

Opening line: My name is Mina and I love the night. ~ pg. 9

Favorite lines/passages: I sit in my tree
I sing like the birds
My beak is my pen
My songs are my poems ~ pg. 181

*This is the ARC version and lines, pages, cover art may differ from final copy
*This review is my honest opinion and I received no monetary compensation from it.

Find David online:

Buy it online:

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Cover Reveal + Giveaway: White Lines by Jennifer Banash

Scheduled for release on April 4, 2013

Description (Taken from Goodreads):
A gritty, atmospheric coming-of-age tale set in New York’s Lower East Side

Seventeen-year-old Cat is living every teenager’s dream—she has her own apartment on New York’s Lower East Side and at night she’s club kid royalty, guarding the velvet rope at some of the hottest clubs in the city. The night with its crazy, frenetic, high-inducing energy—the pulsing beat of the music, the radiant, joyful people and those seductive white lines that can ease all pain—is when Cat truly lives. But her daytime, when her real life occurs, is more nightmare than dream.

The sounds of the city grate against Cat’s nerves, she shrinks away from human touch, and can barely think the words “I love you” even when she feels them. Having spent years suffering her mother’s emotional and physical abuse, and abandoned by her father who’s found happiness in another woman, Cat is terrified and alone—unable to connect to anyone or anything. But then someone comes along who makes her want to stop escaping her life and actually live it, only she’ll need to summon the courage to confront her demons and take control of a life already spinning dangerously out of control. Both poignant and raw, White Lines is a gripping tale and the reader won’t want to look away.

Find Jennifer Banash online:

Pre-order it online:
Amazon | The Book Depository


Putnam has also offered up a nice little excerpt:

I’M SITTING ON THE STONE STEPS at school, pretending to en joy an apple that I bought from an Asian grocery a few blocks over, when all I’m really thinking about is how long I have left until I can go home and start getting ready for the club, every stroke of makeup on my skin sliding me further from daylight. I tongue the white flesh and sink my teeth in, wishing the ripe fruit was the tanned blond head of one of the salad girls.
Since Manhattan Prep is housed in a brownstone and has a population of only one hundred students or fewer in the entire school, we don’t have a cafeteria. Or a prom. Or dances. Or phys ed. Instead, the Park Avenue girls buy salads at a cafeteria next door and sit in the glass atrium picking at their wilted greens, retouching their lip gloss with sticky pink wands. Even though we are all essentially weird in some way— after all, this is a school for kids who have gotten into some kind of trouble—it’s not enough to banish cliques completely. We still have the same bullshit categories as any other school: the jocks, the popular girls, the nerds. And the untouchables.
Like me. It goes without saying that nobody wants to have lunch with the weirdo who goes to clubs all the way down town every night, so I sit on the steps and try to pretend that it doesn’t matter, when really, I’d do just about anything to have a friend here. This silent admission makes my cheeks flush with shame. How can I be so weak? Even at Nightingale, I only ever really had Sara, her blond curls hanging over my shoulder, elaborately folded notes tossed at my feet during study hall. Somehow, it was almost enough. But here, with no one to talk to day after day, the loneliness creeps in like an old friend I no longer want to know. Worse yet, it wants to make small talk. Oh, it’s you again? How’ve you been?
Across the street, Julian, the new kid, sits on the curb in front of Ray’s Pizza, a slice dangling from one hand. As he brings the pizza to his lips, the cheese falls off in one giant greasy slide to his lap. Julian has long dark hair that hangs to his shoulders and looks as if it hasn’t made friends with soap or water in days. His skin is the color of cafĂ© au lait, and there’s something about the tilt of his eyes that makes me think he’s vaguely Asian. He wears jeans so tight that I’m sure years from now he’ll be sit ting in some clinic with his frosty blond wife, stammering that he has no idea WHY they’ve had such a difficult time starting a family. All I know about Julian is that (a) he sits right across the aisle from me in history class, and (b) he transferred from Dalton last week after some kind of scandal involving his ex-girlfriend, and (c) he’s totally into the Ramones. He doesn’t talk to anyone, and never raises his hand in class, just stares down at his binder and scribbles what looks like pictures of Transform ers on the cover with a black pen.
Julian finishes scraping melted cheese off his jeans and looks up, an irritated expression clouding his face. When his eyes meet mine, I feel a rough shock of recognition between us and raise my apple core in a kind of demented greeting, the air suddenly as thick as pudding. Julian tosses me a curt nod and promptly goes back to stuffing the rest of the slice into his mouth, gnawing hungrily at the edges of the crust, watching me all the while. Even though I love staring, and I think that generally other people’s lives are way more interest ing than TV, I feel uneasy as Julian’s eyes lock on to mine. My face burns as he chews the last bite and brushes his hands against his black jeans before walking toward me. I turn the apple core over and over between my palms, my heart careen ing in my chest as he approaches, glad that my hands have something to do even if the core is damp, sticky, and turning browner by the minute. As Julian moves closer, I can’t help but notice how he shakes the hair from his eyes with one ex pert, jagged motion, how his hazel eyes change from green to brown in the light His skin is smooth and slightly bronzed, as if he’s just returned from some exotic locale. He tilts his chin in my direction defiantly, his eyes flicking coolly over my body, taking me in.
“See something you like?” He raises one dark eyebrow, and I feel like I’m going to spontaneously combust, which is what always happens when someone potentially interesting talks to me in the real world—especially if that person happens to be a guy. And up close, Julian is definitely interesting—though it makes my stomach churn spasmodically to even think the word to myself. People are dangerous, unpredictable. I know this implicitly, and every time I come into contact with them, I become a caged animal, a panther pacing back and forth behind steel bars, wary and agitated.
“Yeah,” I stammer, turning redder by the second and wish ing that a manhole would just open up and swallow me whole. I look down at my black boots and scramble for something to say, my brain a jumble of images, none that entirely make sense. “Your pizza—I was just . . . hungry.”
The minute the words leave my lips, I know they are the truth. My stomach begins to growl loudly as if in agreement, and I look up into Julian’s amused face and laugh, my voice echoing in the street, too loud, even with the noise of a pass ing bus belching a thick cloud of black smoke. As the sound vibrates through me, jolting me into the present, I realize that it’s been forever since I’ve laughed at something legitimately funny or awkward without being prompted by the ingestion of some mind-altering substance. Still, I can’t quite turn off that ever-present voice inside my head, the one that holds up an in visible hand to stop me from going further, from moving closer.
People are dangerous . . .
“Well,” Julian says, laughing along with me and holding out a hand, “that’s remedied easily enough. C’mon.”
I stare at his hand, the long fingers, and look into his eyes, which I can now see are flecked with gold. I toss my apple core to the concrete and take hold of him, ignoring the voice that begins, even now, to protest more loudly, whispering like a flock of ruffled birds, Don’t touch, don’t trust. I draw a deep breath and follow him blindly across the street, unsure of where I’m being taken.

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Teaser Tuesday - My Name Is Mina by David Almond

Teaser Tuesdays is a weekly meme hosted by MizB of Should Be Reading

The Rules:
•Grab your current read11
•Open to a random page
•Share two (2) or so “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page
•BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!)
•Share the title & author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers

I'm pretty sure it's been forever and a day since I've done one of these, but here we go! 
This week's teaser comes from David Almond's My Name Is Mina. Having never read Skellig (which I guess is kinda amazeballs) this story has started off very strange to me. I'm not sure how I feel about it yet, but I'm going to stick it out and see where it goes.
Words should wander and meander. They should fly like owls and flicker like bats and slip like cats. They should murmur and scream and dance and sing. ~ pg. 11
*This is the ARC and lines, pages, and cover art may differ from the final copy

There's an empty notebook lying on the table in the moonlight. It's been there for an age. I keep on saying that I'll write a journal. So I'll start right here, right now. I open the book and write the very first words: My name is Mina and I love the night. Then what shall I write? I can't just write that this happened then this happened then this happened to boring infinitum. I'll let my journal grow just like the mind does, just like a tree or a beast does, just like life does. Why should a book tell a tale in a dull straight line?

And so Mina writes and writes in her journal, and through her stories and poems there grows an opus of her life - her lessons, her loves, her beliefs, her mum, her dad, her thoughts and her dreams.

In this stunningly designed book, David Almond revisits Mina before she has met Michael, before she has met Skellig, in what is a thought-provoking and extraordinary prequel to his best-selling debut novel, Skellig.

From the winner of the Whitbread Children's Book Award the Carnegie Medal and the 2010 Hans Christian Andersen Award comes the extraordinary prequel to the award-winning Skellig.

*Description taken from Goodreads

Monday, July 2, 2012

Book Review: The Waiting Sky by Lara Zielin

Title: The Waiting Sky
Author: Lara Zielin
Reading Level: Young Adult
Publisher: Putnam (Penguin)
ARC, 246 pages
Date Published: August 2, 2012
Source: Publisher
Description (Taken from Goodreads):
One summer chasing tornadoes could finally change Jane's life for the better

Seventeen-year-old Jane McAllister can't quite admit her mother's alcoholism is spiraling dangerously out of control until she drives drunk, nearly killing them and Jane's best friend.

Jane has only one place to turn: her older brother Ethan, who left the problems at home years ago for college. A summer with him and his tornado-chasing buddies may just provide the time and space Jane needs to figure out her life and whether it still includes her mother. But she struggles with her anger at Ethan for leaving home and feels guilty--is she also abandoning her mom just when she needs Jane most? The carefree trip turned journey of self-discovery quickly becomes more than Jane bargained for, especially when the devilishly handsome Max steps into the picture.
The Waiting Sky has a road-trip book feel to it, with roadside diners, cute boys, deep-seated resentment, familial issues, oh, and tornados. Can’t forget the tornados. Because that’s what Jane does. She leaves her alcoholic mother for the summer, to sort out her life by tagging along with her storm-chaser older brother.

The thing about this book is that it is far, far deeper and more meaningful than one can imagine. Sure there’s some storm-chasing – and it’s really kind of cool – and sure, there’s a cut boy – and he’s really kind of awesome, but the big thing Jane comes up against, is herself. She’s been living a life of cleaning up after her alcoholic mother. And in the end, it could kill her; it almost killed her best friend Cat.

Now for anyone who has ever come face to face with alcoholism or any kind of drug abuse in their family, this book will resonate down to the marrow. It’s real, it’s heartbreaking, and it’s so beautifully told. Jane’s denial fills her up. She makes excuse after excuse for her mother because that’s what someone in her shoes does. She’s not just the daughter of an alcoholic, she’s all her mother has. Her brother Ethan got out when he could. And she hates him for that. Every emotion Jane experiences, whether the reader agrees with her or not, is entirely honest and realistic. The growth she has is tremendous.

Despite the heavy subject matter, Lara Zielin has an easy way with words. There is plenty of humor, thanks in great part to the TorBros crew and the suave Vermont boy Max. I found myself grinning through a good chunk of the book. On top of that, most of the characters come front and center at one point or another. They aren’t tertiary beings, as Zielin makes Ethan, Max, and even grumpy Victor take on important roles.

The Waiting Sky is a sensational story about growing up, moving on, and love of all kinds. The Tornado Alley backdrop allows readers to have a peak into a life that most of us have never imagined; but it comes to life in such clarity that it feels like we’re there, right along Jane, crying over a mother that was never a mom, learning to forgive a brother who is trying to make up for leaving, slowly falling in love with a stranger who could be so much more, and growing up during a summer of storms along a ragtag group of friends who become family. It was equal parts sweet, funny, and heartbreakingly beautiful. I cannot recommend it enough.

Opening line: Even though there’s a black wedge of sky in front of me that might drop a twister at any second, I can’t get my mom’s voice out of my head. ~ pg. 1

Favorite lines/passages: His hands are on my back, in my hair, on my hips. His fingers move like I’m Braille, like he’s trying to read me just by touching me. ~ pg. 180

*This is the ARC version and lines, pages, cover art may differ from final copy 
 *This review is my honest opinion and I received no monetary compensation from it.

Find Lara Zielin online:

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Thursday, June 28, 2012

Some Days I Just Want To Read...

Six, nearly seven months into the year and I've realized something...

Some days I really just want to read. I want to glue myself to a chair, or the couch, or my bed, and JUST READ. The other night I read Auracle by Gina Rosati in practically one sitting. I had gotten about 20 pages in earlier that day, went out, did some stuff when I came home, sat down on my bed, and just read; straight through, no stopping, just soaking it in.

Safe to say, it was a reading day.

And I don't think I have very many of those days anymore.

My job messes with my sleeping hours and, most of the time, I just relax, doing nothing. Reading takes up too much brain power for me most days. Horrible, right? Especially since I love it so much.
That being said, I haven't read nearly as much this year as I did last year. I haven't reviewed nearly as much and I certainly haven't checked out nearly as many blogs. It sucks, but it's life. I still haven't figured out the perfect way to balance work, reading, blogging, and maintaining a social life.

I'm not sure I ever will, but I'll have to settle for THIS for now.

Oh, and in case you were wondering, today is sooooo not a reading day. It's a curl up and sleep day. And a work day. Boo for work!!

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Book Review: Croak by Gina Damico

Title: Croak
Author: Gina Damico
Reading Level: Young Adult
Publisher: Graphia (HMH)
Paperback, 311 pages
Date Published: March 20, 2012
Source: Bought
Description (Taken from Goodreads):
Fed up with her wild behavior, sixteen-year-old Lex's parents ship her off to upstate
New York to live with her Uncle Mort for the summer, hoping that a few months of
dirty farm work will whip her back into shape. But Uncle Mort's true occupation is
much dirtier than shoveling manure.
He's a Grim Reaper. And he's going to teach Lex the family business.
She quickly assimilates into the peculiar world of Croak, a town populated by
reapers who deliver souls from this life to the next. But Lex can't stop her desire for
justice--or is it vengeance?--whenever she encounters a murder victim, craving to
stop the attackers before they can strike again. Will she ditch Croak and go rogue with
her reaper skills?
Croak is a town out in the middle of nowhere in upstate New York. It also happens to be a town full of Grims – people who literally cultivate the dead. Lexington Bartleby happens to be Croak’s newest resident (the population number even changes when she crosses the town line) and wacky mayor Mort’s niece. Lex is quite the spitfire, with her attitude, stubbornness, and penchant for fighting; she’s also unabashedly sarcastic and acts a bit childish at times.

Despite that, I loved Lex. She rarely thinks before she acts and mouths off far too much, but she’s easy to relate to and her actions make sense in the grand scheme of things. Not to mention the entire nature of the Grims is interesting and takes a whole new spin on grim reapers. The Killers, the Cullers, and all other Grim people live in this bubble that no one else knows about. They’re isolated, but have found a way to live fulfilling and fun lives. The town of Grim is as much a character as Lex.

Speaking of characters though, there are a good number of them. Lex feels very real. She has her issues and I loved her for them. Her frustratingly wonderful partner, Driggs, is the level head when Lex wants to go off half-cocked. He attempts to keep her grounded, but she’s hard one to rein in. Their relationship has just the right amount of spark and tension to keep their scenes nice and interesting.

Croak is an intelligent and witty read, full of dark ends and clever interactions. Gina Damico has shown up with a truly unique and amusing read. I devoured Croak, flew through its pages, and cannot wait to see where Lex goes from here and if she can learn to rein in her attitude enough to do what must be done.

Opening line: Lex wondered, for a fleeting moment, what her principal’s head might look like if it were stabbed atop a giant wooden spear. ~ pg. 1

Favorite lines/passages: “Well, you did just shiv your own uncle with a stick.” ~ pg. 40
And another one:
“Oh my God,” she said, rolling her eyes. “This is so high school. I’m gonna go cry into my locker.”
“Forget it. We’ll talk later.”
“Good idea. That’ll give me time to consult my cootie catcher.” ~ pg. 258
*This review is my honest opinion and I received no monetary compensation from it.

Find Gina Damico online:

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Monday, June 25, 2012

Giveaway: Mirage SIGNED by Kristi Cook + swag!

This is a little late, but back on June 12th, I had the chance to go to NYC with the lovely Cindy Thomas (who recently signed with an agent because she's awesome) to venture to Kristi Cook's launch for MIRAGE.

Pizza eating, sandwich-making, and house tours occurred. Along with NY drivers, rain, and a gloriously fun night at Books of Wonder!

So not only was Kristi launching MIRAGE into the world, but Amalie Howard, author of Bloodspell, and Corey F. Godwell, author and illustrator, were there as well. Suffice to say, it was a great time. Check out the photos below and head to the bottom of the post for the giveaway.

Amalie reading from Bloodspell

Kristi reading from Mirage
Corey with the Winterhaven posters he created for Kristi's series

Find Kristi Cook online:

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