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Showing posts from November, 2013

Friday Favorites: Laura Florand

Friday Favorites is a weekly meme hosted at Tressa's Wishful Endings that spotlights a favorite author, book, series, publisher, cover, blog, etc. Basically whatever bookish thing that you love, recommend, and want to tell others about.

Today I'm going to take a detour from the ordinary and feature a favorite author of adult books. GASP! Yes, I read them too. Thanks to the vociferous praise of Chachic I discovered the novels of Laura Florand this year, and let me tell you they are well worth discovering. Sexy romance about hot Parisian men who MAKE DESSERT. Mostly out of chocolate. Yes. I devoured this entire series, and as each new book has come out I've read it immediately. Florand is now my favorite contemporary romance author. Actually scratch that. She is now my favorite romance author whatever the time period. (She is also an all around delightful person as I've discovered via Twitter.)
Her Books:

Novels:
The Chocolate Thief
The Chocolate Kiss
The Chocolate Rose
The Ch…

Rose

Rose by Holly Webb is a book I may have missed out on entirely if it had not been nominated for the Cybils and that would have been tragic. This book has so many elements I love to find in a fantasy story and Webb brings them all together so well.

Synopsis:
Rose isn't like the other orphans at St Bridget's Home for Abandoned Girls. Instead of dreaming of getting adopted by loving, wealthy parents, Rose wants to get a job and be independent. She doesn't need anyone but herself. She finds her escape working as a maid for Mr. Fountain, an alchemist. Unable to ignore the magic that flows throughout the grand residence, Rose realizes that just maybe; she might have a little bit of magic in her too. This new series featuring magicians, witches, talking cats, mist-monsters, and friendships will have young readers in a trance!

Rose is wonderful. I love how simple and practical she is. All she wants is to earn a decent living and be proud of the work she does to earn it. When she begi…

Ink is Thicker Than Water

Earlier this year I bought The Reece Malcolm List (my thoughts) on the excellent recommendation of several people and was thoroughly enamored with Amy Spalding's writing style. I was excited to discover she would have a second book coming out this year, Ink is Thicker Than Water, and when it showed up on NetGalley I couldn't request it fast enough. I am happy to say that it is another truly wonderful read. It is just so lovely to find an author who can write stories that are real, entertaining, and full of heart all at the same time.

Synopsis:
For Kellie Brooks, family has always been a tough word to define. Combine her hippie mom and tattooist stepdad, her adopted overachieving sister, her younger half brother, and her tough-love dad, and average Kellie’s the one stuck in the middle, overlooked and impermanent. When Kellie’s sister finally meets her birth mother and her best friend starts hanging with a cooler crowd, the feeling only grows stronger.
But then she reconnects with…

Shorter Musings: MG Fantasy

Sometimes I read a book, and I even enjoy it, but I don't have much to say about it. I jot down a few thoughts and then I move on. When these start to pile up, I put them together in one post.

Here are some MG Fantasy books I have read recently with my thoughts.

A Box of Gargoyles by Anne Nesbet After a rather awkward beginning where there was a strange pretend conversation between Maya and her former self that rehashed the first book longer than was necessary, A Box of Gargoyles took off in a fun and adventurous direction. Readers who enjoyed the first book will want to read this latest installment as Maya has to finish off Henri once and for all. I was disappointed that there wasn't as much interaction between characters. I love Valko and wished for more of him through the entire book. It also felt like there was a little too much going on at times. It is still a fun read and I will certainly be looking for any more that may be coming out. Or anything else Nesbet may write.
The…

Boxers and Saints

The Boxer Rebellion is arguably the most profound example of the disaster than can arise from cultural cross-purpose and Imperialism. Atrocities were committed by every nation involved and innocent lives were lost from every nationality in China at the time. Though none were affected more than the Chinese themselves, both Boxers and Christians. In his new duology of graphic novels, Boxers and Saints, Gene Luen Yang explores the ideas, beliefs, and actions of both these groups, giving the reader an up close and personal experience with the some of the most important events of the conflict.

Synopsis:
Boxers & Saints is a groundbreaking graphic novel in two volumes. This innovative format presents two parallel tales about young people caught up on opposite sides of a violent rift. Saints tells Vibiana's story, and the companion volume, Boxers, tells the story of Little Bao, a young man who joins the Boxer Rebellion.
Boxers:China,1898. Bands of foreign missionaries and soldiers roam…

Ever After High: The Storybook of Legends

A review featuring Bit, age 9.

I didn't want to read The Storybook of Legends. On the one hand, it's by Shannon Hale and I often like her books. On the other, it is a commissioned series to go with a line of dolls produced by Mattel. Ugh. But it was nominated for the Cybils and then Bit found the book in the Scholastic flyer and had to have it. (She misses having a fairy tale series to follow since The Sisters Grimm has ended.) Anyway the book came to our house, we both read it, and had different reactions.

The Story
At Ever After High, an enchanting boarding school, the children of fairytale legends prepare themselves to fulfill their destinies as the next generation of Snow Whites, Prince Charmings and Evil Queens...whether they want to or not. Each year on Legacy Day, students sign the Storybook of Legends to seal their scripted fates. For generations, the Village of Book End has whispered that refusing to sign means The End-both for a story and for a life.As the daughter of …

Favorite Picture Books of 2013

November is Picture Book Month! This is the one time of year I do anything about picture books on this blog. The MG/YA scene is more my thing. Still I read a lot of picture books every year too and this is the perfect time to share my favorites. As always, the only criteria used for this list is that I and my test subjects thoroughly enjoy the books.

My Test Subjects:

All the Mo Willems: A Big Guy Took My Ball,I'm a Frog! , That is Not a Good Idea!
LM is at the best age for Elephant and Piggie right now, and this year's additions to the series are his favorites to date. I have quite enjoyed them myself. Reading them aloud is a ton of fun.  That is Not a Good Idea is just perfect in its twisty humor. It took LM a couple of times to get that one. Bit was delighted with it from day one.

Battle Bunny by John Scieszka and Mac Barnett, illustrated by Matthew Myers
This book is not for everyone. If you l like saccharine sweet fluffy children's books, look elsewhere. Everyone else wil…

The Magician's Tower

The Wizard of Dark Street by Shawn Thomas Odyssey has been on my TBR since it came out. Sadly, other things keep coming up. When its sequel, The Magician's Tower, was nominated for the Cybils I decided to go ahead and give it a try anyway. At least I would know if it could stand on its own. It can and it is such a fun story I am now looking forward to reading its predecessor even more. (Come January.)

Synopsis:
Despite her extraordinary magical abilities and sleuthing skills, Oona Crate’s detective agency has failed to take off. But a new challenge captures her attention—The Magician’s Tower Contest.
Held every five years, no one has ever completed the array of dangerous tasks (such as racing on flying carpets or defeating a horde of angry apes). As the competition commences, a case emerges. A rare punchbowl—one with unparalleled magical powers—has disappeared from the carnival surrounding the Magician’s Tower. If Oona can find the culprit, she could use the bowl to answer her quest…

TTT: Covers I Wish I Could Redesign

Top Ten Tuesday is a Meme hosted by The Broke and the Bookish
This week's TTT topic: Covers I Wish I Could Redesign

Yes, there is the old and overused saying: Don't judge a book by its cover. But we all do it. A lot if we're honest. Sometimes I find a book I love so much and am greatly saddened that its cover does not reflect its amazing inside. Here are some of those.

The hardcover (left) was bad, but I felt they went and made it even worse with the paperback redo. This is one of my favorite books and the cover does nothing to capture the story.

 This is a wonderful story, and I feel like the cover does not come close to realizing the brilliance of the contents. The other two covers for LaZebnik's Austen retellings are cute and at least a little intriguing. This one is so boring.

 This trilogy is epic. The covers are anything but.

No, I'm not a big fan of girl in central object cover. Could you tell? (Read this book though because it is  awesome.)
I thought this b…

Of Beast and Beauty

"Beauty and the Beast" is my favorite fairy tale so I have a serious love/hate relationship with retelling of it. To be honest, I've never found a retelling of it to love, so more accurately a like/hate relationship. I almost returned Of Beast and Beauty by Stacey Jay to the library unread, but Christina happened to be reading it at the time and was saying good things about it on Twitter. I decided to actually read it and I'm so glad I did. Jay did a fantastic job.

Synopsis:
In the beginning was the darkness, and in the darkness was a girl, and in the girl was a secret...
In the domed city of Yuan, the blind Princess Isra, a Smooth Skin, is raised to be a human sacrifice whose death will ensure her city’s vitality. In the desert outside Yuan, Gem, a mutant beast, fights to save his people, the Monstrous, from starvation. Neither dreams that together, they could return balance to both their worlds.
Isra wants to help the city’s Banished people, second-class citizens desp…

Also Known As

Earlier this year I read Robin Benway's Audrey Wait! and enjoyed it. When my library got copies of her latest novel, Also Known As, I snapped one right up. It was a cute, fun story of a teenage spy, mystery, and first love.

Synopsis:
Being a 16-year-old safecracker and active-duty daughter of international spies has its moments, good and bad. Pros: Seeing the world one crime-solving adventure at a time. Having parents with super cool jobs. Cons: Never staying in one place long enough to have friends or a boyfriend. But for Maggie Silver, the biggest perk of all has been avoiding high school and the accompanying cliques, bad lunches, and frustratingly simple locker combinations.
Then Maggie and her parents are sent to New York for her first solo assignment, and all of that changes. She'll need to attend a private school, avoid the temptation to hack the school's security system, and befriend one aggravatingly cute Jesse Oliver to gain the essential information she needs to cr…

WoW: Horizon

"Waiting On" Wednesday is a weekly event, hosted by Jill of Breaking the Spine, that spotlights upcoming releases that we're eagerly anticipating.


Aluna and Hoku, Kampii from the City of Shifting Tides, and their friends, Equian Dash and winged Aviar Calli, are determined to stop a war. The maniacal ex-scientist Karl Strand is planning to conquer the world with his enormous army of tech-enhanced soldiers . . . unless the four friends can get to Strand first. Aluna’s plan is dangerous: pose as Upgraders and infiltrate the army. But the enemy isn’t what they expected and the strategy begins to crumble. When the friends are torn apart by conflicting allegiances, their slim chance of avoiding war seems to disappear completely. For Aluna and Hoku, what began as a quest to save their own people has become a mission to save the world. But do Aluna and her friends have any hope of defeating Strand if they can’t take him on together?

Let's all take a moment ot pause and admire…

The Planet Thieves

Traditionally the books of the inter-galactic battles and alien politics a la Star Trek have not been my thing. At all. That seems to be changing though. I'm becoming more enamored with them, and The Planet Thieves by Dan Krokos was such a book that grabbed my attention instantly and held it all the way to the end.

Synopsis:
Two weeks ago, thirteen-year-old Mason Stark and seventeen of his fellow cadets from the Academy for Earth Space Command boarded the SS Egypt. The trip was supposed to be a short routine voyage to log their required spacetime for summer quarter.
But routine goes out the airlock when they’re attacked by the Tremist, an alien race who have been at war with humanity for the last sixty years.
With the captain and crew dead, injured, or taken prisoner, Mason and the cadets are all that’s left to warn the ESC. And soon they find out exactly why the Tremist chose this ship to attack: the Egypt is carrying a weapon that could change the war forever.
Now Mason will…

Friday Favorites: The Perilous Gard

Friday Favorites is a weekly meme hosted at Tressa's Wishful Endings that spotlights a favorite author, book, series, publisher, cover, blog, etc. Basically whatever bookish thing that you love, recommend, and want to tell others about.

I recently discovered this meme and thought it would be a fun way of putting the spotlight on some individual favorites. This week I'm featuring the book I'm currently reading aloud to Bit (an old favorite of mine):

As a Tam Lin retelling, The Perilous Gard is also a perfect read for this time of year. I have a weak spot for Tam Lin retellings. Most of them don't live up to expectations. Or maybe it is more accurate to say that most of them don't live up to the standard set in this book. I love everything about The Perilous Gard, the setting, the mystery of the Queen and her people, the intrepid heroine, Katherine, and Christopher (who is amazing). This book also contains one of the best proposals/declarations of love of all time.