Friday, December 23, 2011

Beautiful Chaos

Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl have done a number on me this time people.  I am telling you, once I could sense how Beautiful Chaos (read the prologue and chapter one) was going to end, I think I really had a for real, albeit mild, panic attack.  You see this is the biggest cliff hanger since EVER!  How could you do this to me girls?

Beautiful Chaos picks up after Lena claimed herself near the end of  Beautiful Darkness.  Once again Ethan Wate serves as our observant, thoughtful narrator.  He leads us through a Gatlin, South Carolina that is suffering from what would seem like apocalyptic-like plagues.  There's been no rain, the heat is relentless even in the winter, and there is an influx of lubbers (icky swarms of grasshoppers).  The imbalance in the Caster World has resulted in problems in the mortal world as well.  Obviously, Link's mom is convinced this is the end of days and is leading the charge of Gatlin-ites who believe God is punishing their town.

Ethan is haunted by another melody.  This time, it warns him of the Eighteenth Moon and the "one who is two".  Immediately he believes Lena is the one who is two because of her light and dark characteristics.  But, once John Breed resurfaces Link and the others begin to believe he is the "one who is two" because of his status as both Caster and Incubus.  However, this turns out to be wrong as well.  Abraham and his brood lurk around every turn making it so important for the mystery to be solved.

Amma knows who this person is, though.  She knows that the "one who is two" can put things right for everyone.  But, she also knows the cost.  She is prepared to pay this herself in order to protect those she loves. 

Amma is not the only one forced to face dire consequences in Beautiful Chaos.  Marian is forced to face the Council of the Far Keep.  This a frightening group of mostly Dark Casters who maintain order.  Marian, as a Keeper, must face them because in their opinion, she did not remain neutral in Caster affairs.  Liv's involvement in this causes her great sadness, as her family has disowned her, and Marian is all she has left.  Surprisingly, an unlikely hero comes to Marian's aid.

This is how I picture Boo Radley
As I've said before, I absolutely adore these books.  Macon Ravenwood's similarities to Atticus Finch, a dog named Boo Radley, and To Kill a Mockingbird quotes at perfect times only work to solidify my love for these wonderful books.

On the very last page of the book there are two words "Nineteen Moons-".    This caused me to search the web in hopes of finding confirmation of a fourth book.  And, luckily I found it!  The fourth book will be available in the fall of 2012 (check out the official proclamation).  I don't know if I can wait.  I am considering making Uncle Abner a pie to try to negotiate an ARC of this book.  Not kidding. 

If you have not read these books, it's probably not too late to request them from Santa.  But, there's a great price on the boxed set from Amazon.  Don't forget to add "Dream Dark" in ebook format also.  Check out my reviews of Beautiful Creatures and Beautiful Darkness and "Dream Dark."  The official website for the series has lots of great features, like a page with a collection of videos about the books.  Check it out.

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Anya's Ghost

This is a first for me and for my blog.  Sit back.  I read a graphic novel.  I know.  How cool am I?  So with the trends here, people.  I've got to say, I liked it.  I completely see the value in having graphic novels around for those who need the immediacy in their reading and for those who need the support a highly visual book can offer.  Plus, it's just kind of fun.

I read Anya's Ghost (read a preview here) by Vera Brosgol.  This story follows Anya who is a high school student, a Russian immigrant, and the daughter of a single mom.  Anya is out and about when she falls in a hole.  Yep, she just fell right in a hole.  But, she discovers she is not alone in this dark chasm.  She finds a ghost, Emily,  who seems quite friendly and a bit pitiful. 

Much to Anya's surprise, after her rescue, the ghost has made its way back home with Anya.  At first this is a bit creepy, but when Anya discovers Emily can zoom around the classroom during a test finding answers or whisper the right words to say to Anya's crush into her ear, it doesn't seem so bad. 

However, as Emily begins to take hold in Anya's life, things begin to get a little weird.  It really begins to go downhill when Anya discovers the object of her affection is not the guy she thought.  Instead of Prince Charming, he turns out to be more like a giant bag of feces.  Although Anya is ready to accept this and move on, Emily is not.  This is when the  insanity begins.  Anya must find out the true cause of Emily's death and rid herself of this problem.

In order to do this, Anya accepts the help of a fellow Russian immigrant student.  This is really hard for Anya because she likes to distance herself from her Russian heritage.  This relationship is one of the parts of the book that makes it more than just a quick read.  Anya's character has lots of layers.

All in all, this book is quite cool.  The gray scale pictures are really great.  The writing is witty, and the story line was unexpected.  Check out Anya's Ghost!

*I was surprised by the maturity of this book.  I would recommend it to older teens.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

All You Desire

Ever since reading Eternal Ones (read my review) by Kirsten Miller earlier this year, I eagerly awaited the arrival of its sequel, All You Desire.  Let me take this opportunity to tell you that it was worth the wait.  I absolutely adore the story of Haven, Ian, Adam, Beau, and Leah. 

When last we left, Haven and Ian, they had fled New York in hopes of ridding themselves of the evil Adam Rosier.  They spent nearly a year happily reunited in Italy.  They were forced to keep a low profile because, well, Ian was supposedly dead.  Other than that, life was grand.  They enjoyed each other, the Morrow fortune, and Haven's own boutique.  Except, suddenly Ian's shrew mother surfaces questioning the authenticity of Ian's will, of which Haven had been the sole beneficiary.  If the halt in funds wasn't enough to rouse the two from their blissful dream, Haven receives a message that Beau has run into trouble while in New York.  Obviously, nothing would keep Haven from coming to the rescue of her long time best friend Beau.  Even if it means returning to New York and risking a reunion with Adam.

So, Haven and Ian leave their peaceful Italian life to rescue Beau and deal with Mrs. Morrow's impending legal action.  But, nothing is ever as simple as it seems.  Haven and Ian find themselves entangled with the Ouroboros Society and of course, none other than Adam.  But, this time Adam seems different.  He seems committed to providing Haven the peace in this life he promised her.  Too good to be true right? 

As if sifting through Adam's intentions were not enough, a mysterious group of women who call themselves the Horae seem to have the answers to Haven's questions about Beau...for a price of course.  The leader of the Horae, Phebe, is able to help Haven see into a past life in which she and Beau were brother and sister.  But, can Haven trust these snippets of her past life?  Why is Phebe able to control what Haven can see of her own past?  Are these women really what they seem?

During their quest to solve the mysteries of the Ouroboros Society, the Horae, and Beau's disappearance, Haven and Ian find themselves growing apart.  Some of this is necessary to their plans, but other seems to be rooted in doubt and suspicion.  Will they survive to enjoy their destiny in this life time?  And, clearly there is the question, what about the next?

This installment is a great blend of amazing characters from the first book as well as some awesome new ones.  I am certainly looking forward to seeing what the new character Milo does with the Ouroboros Society.  And then there's Leah, you know the snake handling prophetess.  The introduction of the creepy Horae ladies helps readers understand Leah's role.  Well played, Kirsten Miller, well played.

Definitely, take a few minutes to visit Kirsten Miller's site.  If you haven't read Eternal Ones yet, you can test it out by reading an excerpt here. There are lots of cool features about her books and the Ouroboros Society.  You can even download the official Ouroboros Society brochure and take a quiz to see if you may have undiscovered past lives.  Do it.

*Both of these books are probably best suited for older teens.

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Bright Young Things

Historical fiction for the young adult set?  That could be tricky, right?  Well, I truly believe that Anna Godberson could make living in a cave sound glamorous.  It's true.  In Bright Young Things (read a sample here), the Roaring Twenties seem so glamorous and mysterious that I found myself wishing I could go be a cigarette girl in a speakeasy.  Oddly enough, when I read the Luxe Series, Godberson had me wishing I could travel back to 1900.  I suppose that as long as two things are involved, I could completely uproot myself from the present and venture into the past.  Those things would have to be New York City and Anna Godberson!

Bright Young Things, the first in Godberson's second series, follows three girls with very different lives as their stories lead them away from each other and then back again.  Cordelia and Letty grew up in a sleepy little town in Ohio.  Both knew they were destined for more than becoming the average Ohio girl.  So, they boarded a train to New York and never looked back.  These two had been the best of friends; Letty, the shy but amazing singer, and Cordelia, the strong confident one.  But, when Letty finds out that Cordelia has come to New York to follow a dream of her own instead of being there to solely support her signing career, Letty doubts she really knew Cordelia after all.

Cordellia has come to New York to unite with the father she has never known.  However, her father is none other than the notorious bootlegger, Darius Grey.  That's right.  To the best of my overactive imagination, Darius Grey lives in Jay Gatsby's house and has Jay Gatsby style parties.  How could he not, really?  With this new found father comes a new set of rules, friends, and even a brother.

Cordelia's brother Charlie, well, he's...kind of a pain.  But, he has managed to snag the wonderful Astrid Donnal.  Astrid, too, seems to be trapped in her circumstances and wants more.  Despite having lived in the lap of luxury for most of her life, much of Astrid's unhappiness begins with her mother, the Third Mrs. Marsh.  Mrs. Marsh marries for sport.  Astrid has lived in many fine homes as her mother cycles through wealthy husbands.  As one could imagine, this has made Astrid distrustful of her mother and of anything that is supposed to be permanent.

Obviously, the lives of these three girls become entwined in a beautiful story.  The opulence of the era and the possibility that rests in each girl is absolutely beautiful.  I am excited to read the next book, Beautiful Days (watch the trailer here).  So, as possibly a challenge, I would like to see Godberson focus on a really unglamourous time, like the Great Depression.  I am sure she could make the Dust Bowl seem like a small annoyance that gave reason for some fantastic costume to keep the dust from one's eyes.  She could do it.  She's just that awesome!

Be sure to visit the site this site,   You can take quizzes to see which character you most resemble or play a few games.  There's fun stuff with Bright Young Things and The Luxe.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

The Name of the Star

I am completely breathless over The Name of the Star (watch the trailer here) by Maureen Johnson.  I've had this book on my mind ever since I saw the cover posted on The Compulsive Reader's list of favorites from a book festival she attended.  Needless to say, it did not disappoint.

This book is a combination of a Jack the Ripper tale and a modern ghost story.  First their is Rory, not Aurora, who has been uprooted from her home in Louisiana by her parents.  They have accepted positions as professors of law at a university in Bristol, England.  Rory happily agrees to go along on the condition that she is able to spend her time attending a school in London.  She begins to attend Wexler where she attempts to acclimate herself into her new surroundings.  Simultaneously, brutal Jack the Ripper type crimes begin happening in close proximity to her school.

Rory's new friend Jerome has taken quite an interest in these crimes.  So much so that he wants to watch for "The Ripper" and persuades Rory and her roommate to sneak out of their dorm to his in order to keep watch.  On their way back from their stakeout, Rory sees a man who seems a bit out of place.  But, the crazy thing is that even though Jazza was right there, she didn't see weird.

The murders begin to stack up, and Rory's mysterious sighting begins to seem important.  So she shares this with the investigators on the case.  As the investigation continues, Rory finds herself involved in the case in ways she could not have imagined.  Why can Rory see this killer when no security camera in London can?

I'm telling you, this is an awesome one!  Maureen Johnson has written several novels including Thirteen Little Blue Envelopes and The Last Little Blue Envelope.  I have these on my to-read list as well.  My sincerest advice to you to sneak away from the traditional Black Friday run on televisions and buy this book.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

The Eleventh Plague

You may have noticed a theme in the books I read.  I certainly have.  They are all pretty "girly."  I almost never saddle up to a book that I would recommend to a boy, but The Eleventh Plague (watch the trailer here) on the other hand is a book that I would undoubtedly put in the hands of those guys out there.

The Eleventh Plague, by Jeff Hirsch, tells the story of Stephen Quinn.  Stephen is a fifteen year old "salvager" who has lived the past several years with his hardened ex-Marine grandfather and his kind hearted fathers.  Stephen lives in a future America that has been ravaged by P11, a plague introduced by the Chinese after America entered a war with them.  As a salvager, Stephen has always traveled around collecting items to trade for things he needs.  But, when his grandfather dies, Stephen and his father make a few changes in their lives.

As a result of these changes, Stephen's father is horribly injured.   After the accident, Stephen finds a group of people who shockingly seems to want to help the Quinns.  Despite his instincts, Stephen does go with these people and accept their help. 

This group of people has somehow been able to survive P11 and create a community reminiscent of those before the plague.  There are real houses, schools, a doctor.  Stephen thinks this has to be too good to be true, and his wandering tendencies make him restless.  But then he meets Jenny.

Jenny is a Chinese-American girl.  This fact alone makes her an outsider because of the negative feelings about the Chinese after the war.  In addition, Jenny is determine not to fit in.  Jenny and Stephen get to know each other and realize they share more than they could have expected. 

Will they be able to stay in the idyllic Settler's Landing?  Do they believe that the neighboring Fort Leonard is really full of evil people waiting to strike?  Are they going to be able to adhere to the rules to enjoy these comforts of home?  Well, you'll need to check this one out.  Even if you're a boy!

Tuesday, November 8, 2011


I would like to go on record once more and say that I love the Hush, Hush Saga by Becca Fitzpatrick.  I mean LOVE it.  I can see it so vividly in my mind.  And, sadly enough I even find myself wishing I was Nora.  I know, but, Patch, he's just so dreamy.  Besides, what girl doesn't want her own personal guardian angel.

So, obviously I eagerly awaited the arrival of Silence (watch the trailer here), the third installment in the series.  This book finds some new twists and dangers.  First, our dear Nora has been taken hostage by the evil Black Hand.  While under his watch, her memory of the last five months of her life has been erased.  She no longer remembers Patch or anything she has learned about the world of the Nephil or the angels, including anything that happened while she was being held captive.  Nora doesn't know whom she can trust.  To make matters worse neither Vee nor her mother have the ability to remember Patch either.  Could Patch actually be the cause of her problems?

But, Nora becomes stronger and begins to regain glimpses of her past.  She slowly begins to understand her connection to Patch as well as the nefarious Black Hand.  Nora begins to take matters into her own hands and enlists the help of Scott in order to truly put her life back in order. 

PhotobucketOne of the best things about this book is that it's not the end of the series.  I had thought it would be, but no, my friends; it is not.  In September, Becca Fitzpatrick announced that there would indeed be a fourth book.  Our new problem is that we will have a whole year to wait for its amazing arrival.  Until then; however, Fitzpatrick's site has some really cool features for those of us who love her books.  Please make sure you visit it.  There is even a Patch and You section that allows readers to insert themselves into the story or into a picture with Patch. Are you kidding me?  It truly can't get any better.   And, there will be a graphic novel version coming soon.  Equally awesome.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Daughter of Smoke and Bone

I consider my self a fairly creative person.  I mean, I can come up with a few good ideas, make a few things, and say a few funny things.  But, let me tell you, after entering the world Laini Taylor created in Daughter of Smoke and Bone (watch the trailer), I realize that I am bland.  Boring.  Vanilla ice cream at best, people.  This lady's mind creates the most amazing images, characters, and situations.  I imagine a movie of this book would be just as visually stunning as Avatar.  I kid you not.

Karou might look like this.
The main character in this tale, Karou is a mystery.  She is a girl with blue hair and lots of tattoos who is young, suspiciously independent, and a fantastic artist.  She lives in Prague with only a best friend to comfort her and an ex-boyfriend to annoy her, but she also has access to portals that transport her to another realm where she is a courier for the "wishmonger", Brimstone. 

Brimstone and the others at his shop are chimera.  Each of them is an amalgam of many different kinds of animal and human aspects.  While in the world of the chimera, Karou never ventures outside of the wishmonger's shop.  She remembers a childhood of sleeping in the shop and befriending the chimera inside these confines.  But as she grew older, Brimstone insisted that she live in the human world.  So, Karou continues her life.  She pretends to live with her grandmother so children's services does not take over her life.  She avoids questions she can't answer, like where did she come from? and who are her parents?  She continues completing Brimstone's errands which, get this, require her to travel far and wide and collect teeth.  Yes, I said teeth.

Brimstone might
look like this
The collection of teeth is not always easy.  Karou is often put in life threatening situations, like the day she encountered Akiva.  Akiva is a seraph.  The problem is that the chimera and the seraph are sworn enemies who have been at war since, well, since forever.  When Karou and Akiva first meet, Karou has no idea what he is, and she is a mystery to him as well.

Akiva might look like this.
But, when the portals to that lead to Brimstone's shop are closed, Karou desperately wants to return to the only family she has known.  Her quest to discover how to reunite with them leads her back to Akiva, and she is able to learn the secret of her past and of a world she could never have imagined.

This is really a book that pulls the reader in to its magic.  I'm not generally one for the sappy romantic parts of anything, but the passage in the book that says:
     "Love is a luxury."
     "No.  Love is an element."
     An element. Like air to breathe, earth to stand on.

Now, that is beautiful.  Just beautiful.

My other favorite line of the book is the one that says: To be continued.  Bring it on, Laini Taylor, bring it on.

*Being vanilla ice cream, you obviously realize I didn't draw any of these awesome pictures.  I used Google to find them.  You can too. 

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Fairest of All

Let me first say that I love Disney. Disney movies, Disney World, Disney anything. I love it. So, clearly the union of Disney and a young adult books would be on my list! I think this is so smart because those folks at Disney cast their nets toward an audience they don't always target. Genius, I tell you. Serena Valentino joined up with Disney to bring Fairest of All: The Untold Story Wicked Queen (watch a fanmade trailer here) to those of us who fell in love with Snow White's story as a child.

The story begins with a happy family made up of a beautiful child, a doting valiant father, and a georgeous loving step-mother. However, things change after the brave king is killed in battle. After this, the Queen becomes troubled.  The root of her troubles being a magic mirror bestowed upon her by her dearly departed husband's family.  Because of her childhood insecurities, the Queen becomes vulnerable to the manipulation of the mirror. 

As the story unfolds, Snow White grows from a darling child to a beautiful young woman, further compounding the problem.  The gulf between the Queen and Snow White grows until Snow White is forced to leave home for her safety.  Despite the seemingly bleak outlook, the story does have a happy ending as good Disney tales should.

What I really liked about this book is that it showed the troubled and true side of the Queen.  Even though her problems were due to the dark, magical manipulation, readers see the roots of mental illness being cultivated by the situation.  It's a sad world out there for so many people.  Now, I mean, I realize most people are not trying to remove the hearts of their step-daughters with a dagger, but still, I felt sorry for her when I understood her pain. 

Bless her wicked little heart.

Saturday, October 15, 2011


I've mentioned before that I'm a teacher of English.  So, obviously I was drawn to a book that tied into the classic and twisted tales of Edgar Allan Poe.  Nevermore (watch a fan-made trailer here) by Kelly Creagh did not disappoint me in my quest to find for a creepy read with a Poe twist.

In Nevermore, Isobel Lanley has the perfect life: she is the star flyer on the cheerleading squad; she has a boyfriend that makes all her friends jealous.  But, her only problem seems to be the project she must do in her English class.  Her teacher assigned partners and topics for the project, and Isobel gets partnered with the school's lead goth, Varen Nethers, and assigned the topic of Edgar Allan Poe.  From the start, Varen makes it clear that he has no intention of working with Isobel.  However, Isobel begins to feel strangely drawn to Varen and his dark world.

As time goes on, Isobel begins withdrawing from her perfect life to spend time with Varen.  Simultaneously, she begins having very frightening and realistic dreams.   These dreams seem to be tied to the sketch pad where Varen shares his innermost thoughts.  As it turns out, this sketchpad serves as a link between the real world and the frightening dream world of Edgar Allan Poe.  When Varen sketched Isobel's name into the pad, she too was linked to this terrifying world of morgues, death, and horrifying characters.  Isobel must desperately try to save herself and Varen from this world, but as you might expect it is not easy to escape the dream world.

I really like how Creagh wove aspects of Poe's life into the book.  For example, Varen was darkly attractive and had a few ladies from which to choose, just like Poe.  Also, Varren's step-dad is just like John Allan, foster father of Poe.  Probably my favorite tie-in was Reynolds.  Creagh used this character to explain the legend of the Poe Toaster.  I love this! 

The sequel to Nevermore, Enshadowed, is set for release on January 24, 2012.  While I've not had the priviledge of reading this one, I anticipate that the story will continue with Isobel's search for Reynolds and may take readers to Baltimore.  Fans of Poe will remember that Baltimore is steeped in Poe history and is his final resting place.  I think this will be a very exciting adventure. 

As a sidenote, Creagh's website is beautiful.  You should totally visit it.  It's beauty is mesmerizing and it's superbly informative also.  Also, I would love an ARC of Enshadowed.  And there you have it; I am not too proud to beg!

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Hourglass- With free read opportunity

I love Gone with the Wind; I do.  I'm a Southern lady, we do that.  But, as much as I would like to have gone to the barbecue with the Tarlton twins, I don't want them see them on my doorstep 2011.  But, that's the kind of thing that happens to Emerson Cole from Myra McEntire's book Hourglass (watch the trailer here). 

                                          Emerson is able to see people from the past.  This gift, or curse, developed after the tragic death of her parents.  Emerson was not able to cope with this tragedy and wound up severely medicated and institutionalized.  After her treatments, she left her small Tennessee town to attend a boarding school in Arizona better suited to her needs.  But, when her scholarship runs out, she finds herself back in Tennessee living with her loving brother Thomas and his amazing wife, Dru.  Thomas wants to help Emerson transition back into a normal life and finds someone whom he thinks can help her.

Enter Michael Weaver.  Michael works with a mysterious group called Hourglass.  Emerson is mysteriously and almost electrically drawn to handsome Michael.  She discovers that Michael can also see these people from the past, and that they are uniquely bonded with one another because they both have the ability to travel in time.

Michael is shrouded in mystery, which confuses and pulls Emerson closer to him.  Emerson begins to learn about the dangers of Hourglass and is faced with a decision.  Should she help Michael and his friends travel back in time to stop a murder even though this could cost her or others their lives?

I really liked this book, and was excited to learn that Myra McEntire is a Tennessee girl.  I can't wait for her to bring more of the story full circle in her follow up book, TimepieceTimepiece is set to release in June of 2012.  Until then, I found an exciting site for you.  This site allows you to download a free PDF of Hourglass in its entirety.  Eureka!  It's free.  I love a free book.  Click here, now.

Monday, September 5, 2011

Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children

You know the age old expression, "a picture is worth a thousand words"?  Well, Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children takes this expression and makes it a reality.  Ransom Riggs, author of several other books like Talking Pictures and The Sherlock Holmes Handbook, was inspired to write about the band of peculiar children because of vintage photos he unearthed at various flea markets and other locations about three years ago.

Inspired by the strange children in the black and white photos, Riggs tells the story of a band of "peculiar" children (watch the trailer here) who influenced the life of an aging World War II veteran who had tales of a childhood that seemed almost impossible.  Abraham, grandfather of the main character, Jacob spent his life telling his children, then his grandchildren stories of his childhood spent on an island with a group of other children who had amazing abilities.  Among these amazing characters were a girl who could create fire in her hands and a boy who could restore life to things that had died.  But, of course in order to be among these peculiars, Abraham must have been peculiar himself.  However, this is only one part of the mystery he left Jacob to deduce.

Sixteen year-old Jacob must go half-way around the world to help solve the mystery of his grandfather's life and death.  On his journey he finds the impossible, the children from his grandfather's youth still live.  Jacob must understand how those children from 1940 remain not only alive, but unaged. 

Riggs states on his blog that there will be a sequel.  He has searched and located more photographs to inspire the next chapter in the life of the peculiars.  Since the first was released just a couple of months ago, we will have to wait to a while to see what the new photographs say.

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Prom and Prejudice

I'm a complete sucker for lots of things...Meg Cabot, dachshunds, To Kill a Mockingbird, bargains, mysteries, and Jane Austen and anything Jane Austen-ish.  I love to read the Pride and Prejudice spin offs like The Phantom of Pemberley and Me and Mr. Darcy, but these are for the older crowd.  What I really love about Elizabeth Eulberg's Prom and Prejudice is that it could introduce the younger set to the Elizabeth-Darcy awesomeness in a way that is lighter and modern.  Then, the well meaning, strategic true Austen fan can steer them into the classic Austen after they've already been bitten by the bug.  Because, truly, how can you not be?  He's Darcy! (squeal!)

Prom and Prejudice  (watch the trailer here) is set at the exclusive girls school of Longbourn, where prom is the biggest deal in the world.  I mean these girls have custom couture gowns, the editors of Vogue descend upon the school to scope out the trends- it's the whole nine yards.  It's the equivalent of the first party of the "season" in Austen's time.  Longbourn girls of course go to prom with gentlemen from the neighboring boy's school, Pemberley Academy (how could they not?). 

As with all schools there are the haves and the have-nots.  In this situation, the students who are on scholarship to Longbourn are the have-nots.  Enter one Elizabeth Bennett (Lizzie), who is a talented piano player and quite sensitive to her position as a scholarship student.  Those snooty Longbourn girls don't treat her very well, OK, they treat her like crap.  She gets milkshakes thrown in her face, her coat stolen, and lots of other wretched things.  But through all of this she can count on her best friend, who is truly the nicest person in the world, Jane Netherfield.  Jane obviously has an impetuous sister named Lydia.

Lizzie comes to know Darcy through Jane's relationship with the dashing and sincere Charles Bingley.  Their relationship seems ill-fated, but manages to pull through.  Lizzie and Darcy have the classic "I hate you" turned "I love you" relationship you'd expect, but there are some great twists.  Of course George Wickham comes on the scene to cause tons of trouble and allow Darcy to become the shining hero we all know he can be.

Aside from it's Pride and Prejudice overtones, I really like how the book shows the hardships of making your way in a place where you might be different and uncomfortable.  Lizzie learns she really has a place at Longbourn, despite how she is treated by some of the other girls.  And, there are some unconventional reactions to traditions.  I like it when people (real or fictitious) do what's best for them instead of always what's expected.

Elizabeth Eulberg (see her read from Prom and Prejudice) also wrote The Lonely Hearts Club (watch the trailer here).  I haven't read that one, but I'm sure that it includes her witty style and would be a great read.  The author's note references lots of great writers like Stephenie Meyer and Suzanne Collins as giving her advice or praising her work.  With guidance like that, I'm sure we will see more of Eulberg.  Keep it coming!

Monday, August 22, 2011

Dream Dark

So, way back in June I gushed about my love for Beautiful Creatures (watch the trailer here) and Beautiful Darkness (watch the trailer here).  And, as much as I love it, I think I forgot how tightly the story of this series holds my attention.  But, after reading "Dream Dark", I am back in love with the masterfully created tales of Gatlin, South Carolina and the Caster World.  Well, and there is that little bit about it being To Kill a Mockingbird-esque; I mean there is a dog named Boo Radley.  Are you kidding me?  It's like Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl have a window into my soul.

As if these ladies weren't genius enough to bring us the awesome story of the Caster Series in book form, they knew we could not possibly get enough or wait for Beautiful Chaos. So, they've released "Dream Dark", a short story delving deeper into the mysterious transformation of Wesley Jefferson Lincoln.  Mr. Lincoln is known better by the nickname Link, but now he is also known as the Linkubus.  There are certainly parts of his transformation that he is thrilled to experience.  For example, he's becoming more appealing to the ladies.  I'm imagining his transformation going something like this.


<---Link    Linkubus  

Pretty darn good transformation, am I right?

But, since this is a short story, at the precise moment I was about to squeal "OMG this is awesome", it was over.  Alas.  But, along with "Dream Dark" are the first five chapters of Beautiful Chaos.  If there is one thing I am now certain of, it's going to be amazing.

Now, a commercial break.  "Dream Dark" is only available as an eBook.  If you've been thinking about an eReader, now is the time people.  For the mere price of $1.99 you can find out just what the heck a Linkubus is. 

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Vixen (Flappers #1)

Have you ever been watching a show, and you thought to yourself, "this is really a good episode"?  Then you keep watching, it gets better and better, and you have no idea there is only five minutes left and there is absolutely no way all the ends could be tied up, then low and behold the dreaded "To Be Continued" pops up, and you are furious and excited at the same time.  Well, that is exactly what it was like reading Vixen by Jillian Larkin. (Watch the trailer here.)

Vixen tells the story of the seemingly perfect Gloria, her cousin, Clara, and her supposed best friend, Lorriane.  The girls are struggling to find their version of a perfect life during the roaring 20's in Chicago. 

Gloria seems to have it all.  She is a beautiful socialite, who is engaged to Sebastian Grey.  On the surface, Sebastian is every girl's dream, every girl except Gloria.  Gloria wants to break free from the perfect girl she must be and embrace the flapper lifestyle.  But it's not easy for a society girl to insert herself into the world of jazz and the mob. 

Lorriane has always been Gloria's best friend.  But, she is tired of being in Gloria's shadow.  She is tired of being overlooked by Marcus, her unrequited love.  But he has eyes for another.  (Don't they always!)  Lorianne becomes ruthless and then remorseful.  You'd almost like to feel sorry for her.  Notice I said almost.

Clara, oh Clara.  Clara has come to Chicago from Pennsylvania.  Or, at least that's what she tells everyone.  What she doesn't tell everyone is that instead of the "Country Clara" she pretends to be, she has spent time being a sophisticated flapper from New York.  However, her time in New York placed some skeletons in her closet that she hopes will stay hidden.

In addition to the three main darlings, there is also a host of characters who all are more than what they seem.  From the seemingly perfect Sebastian, to the piano playing Jerome, to the playboy Marcus- man, they're all up to something.

So, what I'm saying is that the cliff hanger is worth it.  And, we are in luck because #2 in the Flappers series Ingenue became available August 9.  I cannot wait to see what happens next.  And, I know we shouldn't judge books by their cover, but these are so pretty!

Note: These books are probably better suited for older teens.

Thursday, August 18, 2011


It seems like there's the country mouse/city mouse type in a lot of families.  The city mouse always seems so put together and chic.  But sometimes, it's the country mouse who ends up having it all.  That's what happens in Meg Cabot's Jinx.  Jean "Jinx" Honeychurch is the classic country mouse, while her cousin Tory is the glamorous city mouse.

Based on a legend from Cabot's own ancestry, Jinx (read the first chapter here) is the story of two girls descended from a supposed witch.  Because Tory has always had a penchant for the dark-side, and Jean has earned a reputation of being a...jinx, the family believes that Tory is fulfilling the prophesy of inheriting grandma's powers.  Tory even has a cult following of devotees who idolize her supposed powers.  But, because of some very strange happenings Jean must move to New York and live with Tory's family.

Now, while under the same roof Jean begins to to catch the attention of Tory's crush and of Tory's friends.  As you may have guessed it, bad girl Tory isn't keen on this.  As Tory begins to plan her retaliation against Jean, the truth about who is the recipient of the family power begins to surface.  And, along the way Jean must learn to embrace what she's always run from in order to save her life.

This one is classic Meg!  It's funny, has unexpected twists, and a great story line.  I love it.  Did I mention I'm a Meg Cabot fan?  Here are some photos I took when I attended a stop on the Overbite Tour.  Meg was as fantastic in person as I hoped (and she wears Lilly Pulitzer, perfect!).  I still want to be her friend!


Monday, August 8, 2011

Beauty Queens

Have you ever wondered what it would be like to write a whole entire book based solely on random topics drawn from a hat?  Well, I think if you read Libba Bray's Beauty Queens you could have that experience.  If you are a fan of beauty pageants, pirates, Lost, and irony, this is the book for you.

The book follows the contestants of the Miss Teen Dream beauty pageant as they travel to a tropical location for some fun times and a photo shoot, when, much to everyone's surprise the plane crashes, killing all of the adults and many of the beauty queens.  Luckily, however, the mishmash of contestants are able to piece together their preparation as pageant girls and construct a plan for survival.  This in and of itself makes for an exciting read, but when readers learn that the sponsor of the pageant, the Corporation, is truly a villainous organization, things start to get interesting.

One thing I like about the book is the inclusion of all the hilarious       footnotes 1.  Bray integrates commercials and product placement throughout the novel imitating how commercial this world really is.  One of the funniest things about the footnotes is that even though they are completely ridiculous, I found myself being reminded of actual products as I read them.  Scary, right?

In addition to managing to weave together the most seemingly random of topics to create a story, Bray also weaves together lots of different types of characters.  There are the confused, the damaged, the pressured, and the rebels- just like in real life.  And just like in reality, we don't usually know the real story behind people.  We usually only see what's on the surface.  Well played Libba, well played.

On a side note, I also love The Gemma Doyle Trilogy which includes Great and Terrible Beauty, Rebel Angels, and The Sweet Far Thing also by Libba Bray.  They tell the story of a group of girls who share a magical bond and are full of mystery and intrigue.  Her novel Going Bovine earned her the Printz Award.  Not too shabby!  And, as if that weren't enough, she toured with Meg Cabot this summer promoting Beauty Queens.  Any friend of Meg Cabot certainly gets my vote!

1. Note: This book is probably more suited for high school readers than middle school.

Sunday, July 31, 2011

If I Stay

Have you ever had someone give you a detail about something and at the time thought, well, that can't be very important.  Then you were wrong.  So very wrong.  That's exactly what happened to me just before I started Gayle Forman's If I StayAs I began reading and got the gist of what was happening, I knew that that small detail made my continuation futile.  But you know me, I pressed right through up to the very end.  So, what I will tell you is that there is absolutely no way in this world that I would divulge that detail here.  However, I would love to share with you the premise of If I Stay (watch the trailer) with you.

In If I Stay, Mia is trucking along with her life as she knows it.  She and her family are treated to some unexpected time together due to a snow day that frees her, her brother, Teddy, her father, a teacher, and her mother, who refuses to work if her family isn't, from the usual.  The family chooses to visit Henry, Willow, and their daughter, friends of the family with whom they don't spend enough time.  On the way to visit, the family is in a terrible car accident.  At first, Mia believes she has escaped unscathed as she sees the devastating injuries her mother and father have.  Then, she sees herself.  She watches as paramedics work to try to save her and transport her to the hospital.

Mia is in "grave condition" and learns that she must choose whether she will go on to the next life with her family or is she will stay in this one with the people who are left here.  As we learn about Mia's condition, she inserts memories about her life, relationship with music, and other things that make her who she is.  This all builds up to the choice she must make. 

This is a read that I think those who have a passion for music would really love.  Mia is a star cellist who has hopes of attending Julliard.  Her boyfriend is a member of an up-and-coming rock band.  Her father is a former member of a punk band.  Music plays an important role in the novel and helps Mia make her choice.

Now, I must tell you that there is a sequel.  It's called Where She Went.  I will tell you that the Where She Went is told from Adam's, Mia's boyfriend's point of view.  That's it.  Not another peep.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Flavia de Luce Series

Who doesn't love a young girl who is obsessed with concocting poisons, solving mysteries with chemistry, and exacting well-deserved revenge on her sisters?  Alan Bradley's Flavia de Luce is an amazingly interesting character.  Flavia is the main character in Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie, The Weed that Strings the Hangman's Bag, and A Red Herring without MustardShe is truly unforgettable. Watch a trailer for Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie here.

Flavia is nearly eleven years old and lives in rural England with her father and two sisters, Daphne and Ophelia (great names, I KNOW!) during the early 1950's.  Flavia's father is a devoted philatelist (stamp collector--just one of the perks of the book is the amazing vocabulary readers can learn).  Her sisters are the typical older sisters who are determine to make Flavia believe she is adopted.  Flavia's mother was killed in an accident shortly after Flavia's birth.  Even though Flavia doesn't have any memories of the beloved Harriet, she certainly feels the absence of what she never had.

Buckshaw, the name of the de Luce home, is surrounded by a small community, that despite it's seemingly isolated nature certainly experiences lots of excitement.  During the series, Flavia solves a murders using what every girl should- CHEMISTRY!  You see, Flavia spends most of her time in the abandon chemistry lab inside her home.  She is a self-made chemist and conducts experiments to solve her mysteries and sometimes to give her sisters skin problems.  It's brilliant.  She does everything from sneak around to gather samples to catch a killer to injecting chocolates with vomit inducing poisons.  Ahhhh, Flavia, you are my hero.

In my experience, these books are quite underappreciated.  They are so smartly funny!  Flavia insults her sisters with such flair, and she has even named her bicycle Gladys.  Seriously- amazing.  The first three books are available now; and the fourth installment, I am Half-Sick of Shadows, will be released on November 1, 2011.  So, you see, you have plenty of time to catch up before the new book is released.  I particularly love the stocking cap on the skeleton on the cover.  Are you kidding me?  That is awesome.

Flavia and Gladys....awwwww