Thursday, April 5, 2012

Review Grave Mercy by R. A. LaFevers

Grave Mercy
by R.A. LaFevers

Seventeen-year-old Ismae escapes from the brutality of an arranged marriage into the sanctuary of the convent of St. Mortain, where the sisters still serve the gods of old. Here she learns that the god of Death Himself has blessed her with dangerous gifts—and a violent destiny. If she chooses to stay at the convent, she will be trained as an assassin and serve as a handmaiden to Death. To claim her new life, she must destroy the lives of others. 

Ismae's most important assignment takes her straight into the high court of Brittany—where she finds herself woefully under prepared—not only for the deadly games of intrigue and treason, but for the impossible choices she must make. For how can she deliver Death’s vengeance upon a target who, against her will, has stolen her heart?

Ismae has lived a life of being beaten and abused at the hands of men and boys. When she is sold to the pig farmer as a wife, she has hopes for better treatment, but as soon as the wedding is over, she realizes her life will be no different has she is backhanded and lands on the floor. But when her chemise is torn and her husband sees the scar on her from where her mother tried to get rid of her before she was born, he sends for the priest, the real one that worships Jesus Christ, not the one that married them and worshipped the old saints, the old gods. She is rescued from him and handed over to the abbey. From death to death's handmaiden.

Ismae is a quick learner in the art of killing men. She probably takes great pleasure in thinking of killing them as much as she has suffered from them. But she isn't the kind of character you pity. Ismae doesn't feel sorry for herself so it's hard to feel sorry for her yourself as the reader. She is one cold calculated killer. She relishes working with the poison master, learning all the ways to murder with poison. She's adept with all kinds of knives, swords and crossbows. She does not know of love. She has two true friends in the abbey, Sybella and Annith.

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Guest Post Barry Wolverton of Neversink

Developing Fully Fledged Characters in Neversink

I had a college professor who talked about how Charles Dickens had a few tricks up his sleeve for creating his famously larger-than-life characters: funny or suggestive names; exaggerated physical traits; expressive gestures or speech patterns. Well, with animals, birds especially, most of that work is done for you!

For the basics — food, habitat, nesting and breeding behavior, etc. — I did straight field guide research. For the birds’ personalities and beliefs, obviously I made that up, but I let the natural science be very influential. It’s hard for me to study the puffin, for instance — a smaller auk, relatively quiet, funny looking — and not think of it as a reluctant hero type. (The overly confident, motivational-speaker puffin in the movie “Happy Feet 2” just seems all wrong to me.)

Originally I had Rozbell as a great horned owl — a large, powerful hunter — but then it seemed he could be more complex as a pygmy owl in a might-makes-right animal kingdom. He’s crazy, but he has a legitimate axe to grind with the tradition of owl leadership.

The hummingbird is hyper, the walrus is windy; if you listen to the sounds guillemots make you know why the character Algard is a bit disagreeable. And if you know that the collective noun for ravens is a conspiracy, you’ll know they aren’t terribly trustworthy.

As for the story itself, when I learned that the collective noun for owls is parliament, and puffins are sometimes called a colony, it suggested a political allegory to me. The actual basis is Denmark-Iceland, whose conflicts leading to Iceland’s independence really did involve fish taxes and cod wars. Most people who read Neversink and see the plot element of the fish tax will think American Revolution. Which is fine — the struggle to achieve and maintain one’s independence has taken place all over the world.

The northern European/Arctic setting also made it seem right to mine Scandinavian and Native American mythology. (The subtitle of Neversink is “A Puffin Saga.” I love the word saga and the sort of loose, episodic story it suggests.) Why wouldn’t birds have a World Tree at the center of their cosmos? And of course birds who depend on fish from the sea would worship a sea goddess who created the fishes and the seals, right?

Now, some contrary readers might say that despite my claims to be true to the natural world, my puffins drink tea and the corrupt faction of owls wears hats. And the walrus reads and writes. But my story takes place before the time of humans, and who’s to say humans didn’t learn these “anthropomorphic” behaviors from the animals?

Human folklore is rich with tales of early peoples learning language and skills like flying and fishing from animals. The Chinese scribe, Cang Jie, according to legend, invented writing after observing the marks left on the ground by birds, which inspired my idea of walruses inventing a written language based on their hide scars.

Besides, long after I’d written Neversink, someone sent me a link to a book called If Birds Can Build Nests Then They Can Make Hats. ‘Nuff said.

Thanks Barry! Here's a little more info about Eg...I mean about Barry Wolverton below and how to contact him.

Barry Wolverton is the first human ever granted access to the walrus library at Ocean’s End, where he conducted extensive research for NEVERSINK, his first book. In addition to Walrus he speaks Chicken, although actual chickens don’t appear to understand him. He lives with a moderately overweight cat named Charlie (who understands him but doesn’t listen) in Memphis, Tenn. Visit him at

Monday, April 2, 2012

Review-Girl Unmoored by Jennifer Gooch Hummer

Girl Unmoored

by Jennifer Gooch Hummer
Available Now
Apron Bramhall has come unmoored. It’s 1985 and her mom has passed away, her evil stepmother is pregnant, and her best friend has traded her in for a newer model. Fortunately, she’s about to be saved by Jesus. Not that Jesus—the actor who plays him in Jesus Christ, Superstar. Apron is desperate to avoid the look-alike Mike (no one should look that much like Jesus unless they can perform a miracle or two), but suddenly he’s everywhere. Until one day, she’s stuck in church with him—of all places. And then something happens; Apron’s broken teenage heart blinks on for the first time since she’s been adrift. 

Mike and his grumpy boyfriend, Chad, offer her a summer job in their flower store and Apron’s world seems to calm. But when she uncovers Chad’s secret, coming of age becomes almost too much bear. She’s forced to see things the adults around her fail to—like what love really means and who is    paying too much for it.

This novel is by Jennifer Gooch Hummer, the same author that wrote the Milk Face blog post. But if you're expecting something like that in this book, don't be.  This is a very serious book.  Apron is in 7th grade and has lost everything. Her mother died six months ago, her best friend dumped her for a girl that hates Apron and she's lost her father to her pregnant stepmother, a woman whose name she won't say, she just calls her "M".

"M" is from Brazil and was Apron's mother's nurse while she was dying. To say that she is mean, is an understatement. To say that Apron hates her and is trying to show her Dad "M's" true colors is also an understatement. I instantly hated M. She was like poison and then the things she did while she was pregnant, oh, if you've ever been pregnant you will totally despise her.  I didn't really connect with Apron, but I did feel sorry for her. She had a lot on her plate, I just wasn't emotionally connected to her.

The novel takes place in the Regan era, when AIDS is first coming to light and people are calling it a disease that only gay people get.  But Apron, in an unfortunate mishap at her father's and M's wedding, ends up meeting two floral designers when she gets left behind at the church.  She ends up helping them with the floral arrangements and making friends with them. She eventually finds out they are lovers and that one of them, Chad, has full blown AIDS.  He's dying.  Apron helps them and they help her and eventually she begins working at their shop. This is doubly good for Apron because she can be away from  M who is increasingly meaner and demanding.

Sunday, April 1, 2012

The Happiness Blog Tour and Giveaway with Bryan Cohen

Bryan Cohen here, guest poster and author, promoting my new book The Post-College Guide to Happiness for The Happiness Blog Tour. I'm giving away free digital review copies of the book and doing a giveaway for paperback copies, audio copies and even a Kindle Fire! Read on and check out the info below the post.
"Affection is responsible for nine-tenths of whatever solid and durable happiness there is in our lives."

C. S. Lewis


I was a lot of things during and after college. I was boisterous and I loved hearing my laughter fill up a theater space while I was watching my friends perform. I was goal obsessive and I often pulled off gargantuan projects through my comedic and theatrical projects. I was impulsive and would just as quickly dive into an adventure head-on as I would a pool full of Jell-O (true story). But I wouldn't say that I was particularly kind.

That isn't to say that I was mean, catty or evil in any way. But I'd certainly lost a bit of the kindness that I had once displayed when I was in high school. I recall a moment when I was dropped off by the school bus during in my neighborhood high school at the end of the day. There was a giant blue trash can that had blown into the street from a gust of wind and I was concerned that the bus might run it over. I looked around and saw that none of my peers noticed the same thing so I rushed to action, picking up the waste depository and moving it back to the lawn. A friend of mine saw my action and told me, "That was a really nice thing to do, Bryan Cohen."

I wasn't doing it to receive commendation, but it was certainly a nice thing to hear. It was just an act of kindness or as Lewis calls it, "affection." I'd lost that a bit in my early 20s. Perhaps I had gotten jaded or I'd let the tough world get to me. In the last few years, I've made an effort to get it back. I've thought kinder thoughts about people even if they seemed or acted unkind. I've tried to be selfless when it came to doing chores around the house or favors for my friends and acquaintances. I haven't had a lot of money so I knew I couldn't give much to charity, but I've tried to give when I can and be charitable in the use of my time.

Unsurprisingly, by applying more kindness to my life, I've become a happier person. Maybe I'm not as boisterous or obsessive or impulsive as I was a few years back, but I think a rediscovery of what it means to be affectionate and kind has been a major improvement. If you're feeling less than happy, find ways to be more kind to achieve a better balance of happiness and health.

Friday, March 30, 2012

Review and Giveaway- Neversink by Barry Wolverton


by Barry Wolverton
Walden Pond Press
Along the Arctic Circle lies a small island called Neversink, whose jagged cliffs and ice-gouged rocks are home to a colony of odd-looking seabirds called auks, including one Lockley J. Puffin. With their oceanfront views and plentiful supply of fish, the auks have few concerns-few, save for Lockley's two best friends, Egbert and Ruby, a know-it-all walrus and a sharp tongued hummingbird.
But all of this is about to change, Rozbell, the newly crowned king of the Owl Parliament, is dealing with a famine on the mainland of Tytonia-and he has long had his scheming eyes on the small colony to the north. Now Neversink's independence hangs in the balance. An insurgence of owls will inevitably destroy life as the auks know it-unless Lockley can do something about it. (Back of the book. ARC)

Neversink is the kind of book you read and once you get into it, you forget you're reading about talking animals as what's happening could apply to a foreign country or our country in the past or just about anywhere.  I fell in love with Egbert the Walrus, the only one on Neversink, who really sort of started the trouble in the first place, but only out of the interest in educating everyone (including the owls on Tytonia) how to read and write. You see he'd created the first book....well it's rather a long story and I don't want to sound like a Walrus who according to the Prologue tend to be lengthy in their stories. (Don't any of you comment about the length of my reviews! I am not a Walrus!)  Suffice it to say that the Auks and the Owls had already had a war-The Cod Wars and the Auks had been moved to Neversink on which the Owls were never to set foot.  However, Egbert's invitation to his birthday party to taste Lucy Puffin's fish smidgens  extended to the owls, was a sort of loophole. And, since there was some dissension going on over on Tytonia with the Owls, a few came-The Roundhats-called that because they wore derby hats.  Egbert's big announcement about his book was overshadowed by the fact that the Roundhats, while detesting raw fish, found Lucy Puffin's fish smidgens very tasty and flew off with the lot of them back to Tytonia for the rest of the Owl to taste.

The dissension going on Tytonia was that disease was spreading through the animals that the Owls preyed upon and they would need another food source. That's where the fish smidgen's came in. But, there was that Pesky Treaty of Yore that said the Owls would leave the Auks alone and the Great Grey Owl King was determined to stick to it.  But when the greedy Rozbell comes into power, that treaty is thrown out along with Parliament and Rozbell basically becomes a dictator putting a fish tax on everything the Auks collect claiming 1/3 of them as fish smidgens. Unfortunately, pregnant Lucy Puffin is the only one that can make fish smidgen's so she's the only one truly affected by this. The Auks just go along with the tax.  This is where the story gets really interesting. You see, Lucy and her husband, Lockley haven't had the best luck with their eggs in the past few years. No offspring so far. They are particularly protective this time. Lockley isn't going to let anything to happen to Lucy and the egg when she births it.  But things get complicated when Lockley decides to stand up to Rozbell in defense of his wife.  Problem is, Auks usually just kind of take things as they come and don't stand up for themselves so he doesn't get any help. And then Lockley disappears leaving Lucy defenseless. Except for a rather large Walrus with a heart of gold and a rather hyperactive hummingbird named Ruby.

I could go on and tell you the story, but I have to stop there. Why should you read this story?  For kids, it's a great lesson about blindly following orders and how to stand up for yourself even if everyone else is following along. It's about how one voice can make a difference.  It's also got mythology in it. Forgiveness. And what real friendship is all about. And it's all done through talking animals with a really creative story. Bits of humor are strung throughout even during dangerous times. And, there is always hope and faith.  You don't have to read anything into it or you can read into it for a deeper meaning.  In either case, it's an enchanting story that held my 12 yr old and myself spellbound until the tear inducing ending. The illustrations are amazing! I didn't think black and white pictures could show such emotion, but looking in Lucy Puffin's eyes I almost cried.  I did later

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Review- The Fourth Stall Part II by Chris Rylander

The Fourth Stall Part II
By Chris Rylander

The life of crime is good.Mac has taken down legendary high school crime boss Staples, business has been booming, and Mac and Vince are getting ready for middle school baseball tryouts. But this can't last. Mac has always tried to keep his friends close and his enemies closer. But what happens when you can't tell the difference?
This dilemma walks into the fourth stall in the form of Trixie Von Parkway--an eighth grader with a mean look and an even meaner predicament. The new science teacher is terrorizing her, and she needs Mac to get him off her back. Seems simple enough, but as Mac starts to dig deeper, he finds even more trouble brewing at his school, including a new administrator bent on destroying his business, and indications that Trixie isn't who she claims to be. In the past, the worst thing that could have happened to Mac was that he might lose a little money, maybe catch a beating. In "The Fourth Stall Part II," though, there's going to be much more on the line than that.

Oh Mac, what have you done. My 6th grade crush gets into some deep trouble when he starts looking into fried fatty foods in the cafeteria and rat droppings in the lockers. And then she walks in the door. Trixie von Parkway. He knew she was trouble the minute she walked in and she sets in motion a whole world of events that leaves Mac and Vince reeling at the end.

I'll start from the beginning. Mac and Vince have their business back and it's busier than ever. Things are running smoothly until weird things start happening at school.

First, Trixie shows up saying the new Science teacher is giving her a hard time because she broke up with his son. She wants Mac and company to get him off her back. Mac describes her as a rattlesnake throughout the book so you know he doesn't believe her, but she does prove valuable.
 Then the healthnut boy, Jonah complains because the cafeteria is serving nothing but fried foods. Or double fried in the case of fried chicken with sides of fried chicken skin and double-fried French fries.
 "Do you know how many calories are in that stuff? I mean, it's like a ton of calories! Or how much      saturated fat? how much LDL cholesterol?"....I tried not to laugh because my mom and her friends were always going on and on about those evil calories and it just sounded so strange coming from a seventh grader....."Okay Jonah," I said,"we'll help you, but you've got to calm down." The truth was, I wasn't too sure I wanted to solve this problem. (pgs18-19) of the ARC

 That's my Mac, always thinking of others!! He knows the other kids love that food. But then more problems.

Monday, March 26, 2012

Illustrations and and Excerpt from The Hero's Guide to Saving Your Kingdom by Christopher Healy

The Hero's Guide to Saving Your Kingdom
by Christopher Healy

Do you know who Prince Liam, Prince Fredric, Prince Duncan, or Prince Gustav are?  Probably not. They're the princes that saved Sleeping Beauty, Cinderella, Snow White and Rapunzel respectively.  They've been rejected by their princesses and cast out of their castles, together they stumble upon an evil plot that could endanger each of their kingdom.  Now it's up to them to triumph over their various shortcomings, take on trolls, bandits, dragons, witches and other assorted terrors and become the heroes no one ever thought they could be!
The Hero's Guide to Saving Your Kingdom
by Christopher Healy
Available May 1st
Walden Pond Press

It's no secret that I love the books that Walden Pond Press  publishes. Today I have an excerpt from a book coming out in May that is a really, really different side of the fairy tale, the guy's point of view!!  And I've got some great illustrations to share with you. So let me share the excerpt with you and then the rest.


Prince Charming is afraid of old ladies. Didn’t know that, did you?

Don’t worry. There’s a lot you don’t know about Prince Charming: Prince Charming has no idea how to use a sword; Prince Charming has no patience for dwarfs; Prince Charming has an irrational hatred of capes.

Some of you may not even realize that there’s more than one Prince Charming. And that none of them are actually named Charming. No one is. Charming isn’t a name; it’s an adjective.

But don’t blame yourself for your lack of Prince Charming–based knowledge; blame the lazy bards. You see, back in the day, bards and minstrels were the world’s only real source of news. It was they who bestowed fame upon people. They were the ones who sculpted any hero’s (or villain’s) reputation. Whenever something big happened—a damsel was rescued, a dragon was slain, a curse was broken—the royal bards would write a song about it, and their wandering minstrels would perform that tune from land to land, spreading the story across multiple kingdoms. But the bards weren’t keen on details. They didn’t think it was important to include the names of the heroes who did all that damsel rescuing, dragon slaying, and curse breaking. They just called all those guys “Prince Charming.”

It didn’t even matter to the bards whether the person in question was a truly daring hero (like Prince Liam, who battled his way past a bone-crushing, fire-blasting magical monster in order to free a princess from an enchanted sleeping spell) or some guy who merely happened to be in the right place at the right time (like Prince Duncan, who also woke a princess from a sleeping spell, but only because some dwarfs told him to). No, those bards gave a man the same generic name whether he nearly died (like Prince Gustav, who was thrown from a ninety-foot tower when he tried to rescue Rapunzel) or simply impressed a girl with his dancing skill (like Prince Frederic, who wowed Cinderella at a royal ball).

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

I Finally Read The Hunger Games!! And a Cover Reveal for Blackwood

Okay, no need to introduce it or tell you where to get it. It's everywhere, even the grocery store! But the point is, I'm now like you (well, just on this one point) I have finally read The Hunger Games!!!  And guess what?   It lived up to the hype!  I was so tense through the whole thing I don't think I relaxed until the last page and even now, I'm worried about what's going to happen in District 12.  So, I'm gonna be buying the next two books right away, but what I don't know is-What's in the next two books?  No, don't tell me! I'm going to read it! This is the second book I allowed myself  to read for enjoyment this month and it was awesome! And just before the movie came out! I had to read it because I have to see the movie. Some of it was filmed in Shelby which is here in North Carolina near me! So, you know, I have to show some Carolina pride and support The Hunger Games!!

Other News
I have a cover reveal 
This is for the book Blackwood that is being published by Strange Chemistry in the Fall.
Below is the cover without the title or the author's name. It's done by Steven Wood.

And here's the book Blurb to go with it!

Blackwood by Gwenda Bond

On Roanoke Island, the legend of the 114 people who mysteriously vanished from the Lost Colony hundreds of years ago is just an outdoor drama for the tourists, a story people tell. But when the island faces the sudden disappearance of 114 people now, an unlikely pair of 17-year-olds may be the only hope of bringing them back.

Miranda, a misfit girl from the island's most infamous family, and Phillips, an exiled teen criminal who hears the voices of the dead, must dodge everyone from federal agents to long-dead alchemists as they work to uncover the secrets of the new Lost Colony. The one thing they can't dodge is each other.

I love the cover and the book synopsis! I can't wait for this one to come out!!

Happy reading!

Review- Life Is But A Dream by Brian James

Life Is But a Dream
by Brian James
Feiwel and Friends
Available March 27th

Sabrina, an artist, is diagnosed with schizophrenia, and her parents check her into the Wellness Center. There she meets Alec, who is convinced it's the world that's crazy, not the two of them. They are meant to be together; they are special. But when Alec starts to convince Sabrina that her treatment will wipe out everything that makes her creative, she worries that she'll lose hold of her dreams and herself. Should she listen to her doctor? her decision may have fatal consequences.

Brian James calls Life is But a Dream "the most intense book I've written. Bringing this unique character to life and seeing the world through her eyes, with all its beauty and confusion, was an immense challenge that I hope is just as rewarding to read as it was to write." Intense--yes. Unforgettable--definitely.

Sabrina is young, 15, and I thought that was too young for schizophrenia, but I was informed by my 15 yr old that they just studied it in Health and that it isn't too young. So my tax dollars at work, he learned something! But I do think it's unusual. Still it happens to Sabrina and though she's delusional she's strong in some ways. She was taken advantage of and her mind just built a different, though pretty world around the ugly things kids did to her. In fact, she escaped from reality all the time and by escape, she got totally engrossed in her fantasy so that she lost track of time, days, what was going on around her. Her delusions are beautiful, fairies and painting the sky, she's searching for heaven. No, she's not suicidal.

I have no way of judging if Brian James did a good job of portraying what it's like to have "acute schizophrenia." I have nothing to compare it to and the only research I saw that he did was pick up a hitchhiker who shared with him what it was like to have schizophrenia.* But this isn't a "Guide for Schizophrenics." It's just a fictional account of a girl falling into her delusional life, believing the boy she meets in therapy that says the drugs are just going to make her a robot person. Alec. Alec the angry boy who falls for the delusional girl that paints pretty pictures for him that calm him down. But he doesn't realize how serious she is. And she doesn't realize he doesn't believe in her dream. That they will walk into the sun in the ocean, hand in hand and the world will fall to dust all around them and they will be in heaven. What he sees as metaphor she sees as reality.

Monday, March 19, 2012

Review- War of the Fae- The Changelings by Elle Casey

War of the Fae
 The Changelings
by Elle Casey

Jayne Sparks, a potty-mouthed, rebellious seventeen-year-old and her best friend, shy and bookish Tony Green, have a pretty typical high school existence, until several seemingly unrelated incidents converge, causing a cascade of events that change their lives forever. Jayne and Tony, together with a group of runaway teens, are hijacked and sent into a forest, where nothing and no one are as they seem. Who will emerge triumphant? And what will they be when they do? 

Well, I don't think that description does justice to what the book is really about. Obviously it has something to do with the Fae, but not the Fae you might be thinking about, no, not faeries.
If you're looking for a fairy tale, this isn't the book for you. If you're looking for an adventure with Jayne, I think the snarkiest girl in all of YA-dom, then you've come to the right place. Here's why I liked this novel.

Jayne! Jayne could talk all day and I wouldn't get tired of her. She's like a maniac with that mouth of hers. And when it's not going her inner dialogue is and it's just as much fun. It's not all fun and games, but it is all adventure and I totally admire Jayne for not turning back, for never giving up on her friends and for her innate sense of distrust. Her life has not been easy, but she is not a whiner. Not at all. She just kind of doesn't fit in. Here is an example of why I liked her right away. She's in some boring class and as the teacher drones on she's tattooing her hand with her pen no paper on her desk at all. Her teacher walks back to her desk and asks what she's doing and she says she's taking notes. "Where are these so-called notes?" he asks. And Jayne points to her head and says, "Right here Mr. Parks; it's all riiiight here." Of course she gets sent to the dean for her attitude but not before sticking out her tongue at the girl scowling at her "because I'm not all that mature and I still enjoy doing the things that cracked me up when I was ten." This is Jayne through the book. She grows up definitely, but she still keeps a sense of humor which is definitely needed.

Friday, March 16, 2012

Review Demons at Deadnight by A& E Kirk

Demons at Deadnight
by A&E Kirk
Available NOW

For seventeen-year-old Aurora Lahey, survival is a lifestyle. 

Aurora has the crappiest superpower on the planet. And it’s just unleashed a hit squad from hell. Demons are on the hunt, salivating to carve her carcass into confetti. 

The Hex Boys—mysterious, hunky, and notorious for their trails of destruction—have the answers Aurora needs to survive. But their overload of deadly secrets and suspicious motives makes trusting them a potentially fatal move. 

The battle to save her family, herself, and stop demonic domination may cost Aurora everything worth living for, and force her to reveal her own dark secrets. But no worries. She needs the Hex Boys to pull this off, and, chances are, teaming up with these guys will get her killed anyway. (Synopsis from Goodreads)

When I finished Demons at Deadnight, I sighed contendedly. Then I sent the authors an email to let them know what I thought. This is what it said,

"I just have to tell you, I left off all other reading and read D&D this weekend! The first two things I thought when I finished were Perfect and Jealous. It was the Perfect book. Right amount of everything. Blake was so much fun, all the boys had the right personalities and Ayden and Aurora together Whew!  And such a great story. Definitely different. Something sparkling and bright in a world of YA that is absolutely drowning in ANGELS! I cannot read another angel story. (Gloria is fine).  And Jealous because I don't think in a million years I could have come up with six guys so gorgeous yet not overpowering the story and not all after the girl and made them mesh so completely as a team and written such a great novel! I cannot wait for the next one to come out!"

 All that being said, my review will probably suck because when I like a book this much, I can't write anything coherent about it except to just gush. So I just wanted to let you know I LOVED it and I'm so glad I read it this weekend because I felt like I was on vacation and on an escape from my life and that is what reading is supposed to feel like to me-an escape from my reality into someone else's! Thanks for letting me be a teenager again!  It was so much fun!"

So, that's my review! Alyssa said that's what they love to hear and that's exactly what I love to read! So, there you go!  I absolutely cannot wait to read the next in the Divinicus Nex Chronicles!!

Happy Reading!

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Review Poison Most Vial by Benedict Carey

Poison Most Vial
by Benedict Carey
Amulet Books

Murder in the lab! The famous forensic scientist Dr. Ramachandran is stone-cold dead, and Ruby Rose’s father is the prime suspect. It’s one more reason for Ruby to hate the Gardens, the funky urban neighborhood to which she has been transplanted. Wise but shy, artistic but an outsider, Ruby must marshal everything and everyone she can to help solve the mystery and prove her father didn’t poison his boss. Everyone? The list isn’t too long: there’s T. Rex, Ruby’s big, goofy but goodhearted friend; maybe those other two weird kids from class; and that mysterious old lady in the apartment upstairs, who seems to know a lot about chemistry . . . which could come in very handy. 

This is definitely a great Middle Grade read about friendships and misjudging people at first and how you can change your opinion when you get to know someone or need them.

Ruby Rose's father works in the great DeWitt forensics lab as a janitor.  He's been accused of killing the great forensic scientist, Dr. Ramachandran in the lab.  But  Ruby knows he didn't do it, he had no reason to do it. She just has to prove it.  And to prove it, she needs the help of her friend Rex.  And Rex suggests the old lady in the window. She's rumored to have been famous for working with chemicals or something.  But he's scared of her, he's heard from "The Minister of Information" or Jimmy Woods, that she has a glass eye and he's scared if she sneezes it'll come out.  There's a very comical scene when they are visiting the woman, Mrs. Whitmore, and she sneezes. Rex, still fearing the glass eye turns the coffee table over and runs to the other side of the window while Ruby yells at him and Mrs. Whitmore just looks on in shock.

Between trying to save her father and finding clues to his innocence, Ruby reminisces about her life in Arkansas and the best friend she left behind.  She's missing the country and the wide open spaces.  The city is crowded and unfamiliar and dangerous.  And her best friend hasn't emailed her.  She misses her old life, her old friend, the old way of doing things. But, Ruby doesn't dwell on it. If anything, I don't think she dwells on her situation enough. Her father could go to jail, he's drinking too much, they have no income since he lost his job and she's far from what she considers home. She feels that everywhere is strange and that she doesn't belong. And she's right when it comes to her investigating the crime. But she's smart, too, and in investigating the crime, she begins to learn more about herself, her surroundings and the people that are in her daily life.

There are some very clever ways that Mrs. Whitmore helps Ruby and Rex and by extension her friends figure out what they need to free her father.  And in return Mrs. Whitmore gains a sense of something more.  And Ruby and Rex make two new friends that are living on the other side of the world from the projects where they live.  It's a great mystery and fun reading about Ruby and Rex and Mrs. Whitmore.

This is a very clean read and great for Middle Grade and up. I thoroughly enjoyed it. 


I received a review a review copy of this from the publisher Amulet through Net Galley free of charge. This did not affect my review in any way.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Interview with Rachel Morgan author of Guardian Bk 1 (Creepy Hollow)

Today I have Rachel Morgan of the new series Creepy Hollow here to answer a few questions. You might remember my review of the first novelette in the series Guardian back in February. You can read it here.

Below the interview you can find biography information on Rachel and how to contact her.

Rachel, thanks for answering my questions and being a guest on my blog today!

1. Why a series of novelettes instead of one book? Will you ever publish all the novelettes into one novel?
My first idea was that I wanted to e-publish some short stories. That then morphed into the idea of having all the stories connected, like individual installments of one long story. So I now think of it almost like a TV series, but in book form. Each “episode” (novelette) has its own story, but it’s also part of a longer ongoing story.
At some point I will publish the stories together. At that point I can then also do print versions. It will depend on how many individual stories there are, and how long each one is, as to how many I put together in one novel.

2. If you were in Nate's position, would you believe you were in a dream after witnessing the fight between Violet and the reptiscilla who tried to kill him?
Well, I’m usually pretty good at telling the difference between a dream and reality, so I’d probably realise it wasn’t a dream, but I would most certainly be incredibly freaked out!

3. Again, if you were, Nate, would you have grabbed Violet's shirt as you watched her leave your room?
Hmm . . . now that’s a tough one. Probably not. Where Nate is full of curiosity, I think I’d be too scared to even move!

4. Violet is competitive and perhaps a perfectionist. She is concerned about her standing at the top of the class when Nate comes back with her. She worries about losing to a fellow guardian-in-training. Are you competitive by nature?
I do have a slight competitive streak, but not nearly to the degree Violet has. She takes competitive to a whole new level!

5. Did Violet choose to be a Guardian or was it circumstance that brought her to that point?
Probably both. That was the environment she grew up in, so it was natural for her to follow in her parents’ footsteps, but she also chose the life of a Guardian. It’s probably also that she just never considered doing anything else.

6. Describe where Violet lives.
Violet lives in a magical forest (called Creepy Hollow) in the fae realm. Her actual home is similar to the Guild, in that it appears to be nothing more than a simple tree. This is actually powerful glamour magic at work, though, as there is an entire home concealed within this tree. It’s similar to what Violet would call a human home, except that it’s round instead square-ish. The bathrooms are different too. Why would you clean yourself in a boring old bath when you could instead swim in an enchanted pool complete with indoor waterfall? (Okay, maybe it’s just me, but I thought that sounded like fun!)
You get to visit Violet’s home in the next novelette.

7. What can we expect in the next novelette, and when will it be out?
In the next novelette, entitled LABYRINTH, Nate and Vi go searching for Nate’s mother, and what they find doesn’t come close to what they expect . . .
LABYRINTH will be available on the 5th of April.

Thanks, Heather, for hosting me on your blog!

Here is a trailer for Guardian the first in the series

~  ~  ~

Rachel Morgan is the author of Guardian, the first novelette in the Creepy Hollow series. She was born in South Africa and spent a large portion of her childhood living in
a fantasy land of her own making. These days, in between teaching mathematics to high school children, she writes fiction for young adults.

Buy Guardian from

The Creepy Hollow Series

Author Info


Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Review Pretty Crooked by Elisa Ludwig

Pretty Crooked
by Elisa Ludwig
Katherine Tegen Books
March 13th, 2012

Willa's secret plan seems all too simple.
Take from the rich kids at valley prep and give to the poor ones.
Yet Willa's turn as Robin Hood at her new high school is anything but. Bilking her "friends"—known to everyone as the Glitterati—without them suspecting a thing is far from easy. Learning how to break into lockers and Beemers is as hard as she'd thought it would be. Delivering care packages to the scholarship girls, who are bullied just for being different, is more fun than she'd expected.
The complication Willa didn't expect, though, is Aidan Murphy, VP's most notorious ace-degenerate. His mere existence is distracting Willa from what matters most to her—evening the social playing field between the haves and have-nots. There's no time for flirting, especially with conceited trust-funders like Aidan. But when the cops start investigating the string of thefts at Valley Prep and the Glitterati begin to seek revenge, could Aidan wind up being the person that Willa trusts most?(B and N)

Willa and her mother have never set down roots before, so with her mother's money from the sale of her paintings they finally get a piece of the good life.  Willa isn't used to it nor is she used to friends. So she's not aware that the Glitterati she's in with is not as nice as they appear.  They take her shopping, help her reputation, and finally she makes a friend for the first time in her school life.  Maybe even a boyfriend.

But the truth about the Glitterati, the ugly, sordid truth comes out and Willa is outraged. Nikki and Kellie are the Glitterati and only allow a certain few into their pack.  So when they start blogging about the scholarship students saying not just mean things, but damaging things, Willa sees them for the bullies they are.  Taking the passive aggressive route she decides to be a modern day Robin Hood, thinking that if she evens the playing field by giving the scholarship girls new clothes, that will take care of things.

Willa, in the beginning, is extremely naive.  I'll give her a pass on that since she's never spent more than a year in one school and it was always public school.  The school she goes to is ultra rich.  It has it's own woodfire pizza oven in the cafeteria.  It has over 200 acres. That is one very rich school.  And most of the students that attend it are extremely rich.  All designer clothes and cars.  But Willa, she rides her "tricked out" Schwin bike to school with a velvet seat, a night light, and chrome fenders.  It reminds me of something close to what I rode in my childhood without the velvet seat.  This is her pride and joy.  She wears altered vintage clothing and isn't ashamed of it.  She likes who she is and is comfortable with herself. But a few weeks with the Glitterati and she's a changed girl.  Actually, the first day, she's participating in their games.  I thought she was smarter than that from the beginning, but she immediately falls for their games.  She does not stick to her principles and her ideals even when she sees the evidence in front of her.  Then all of a sudden Willa gets almost vengeful, not that I minded. Nikki and Kellie were pampered princesses who deserved nothing, deserved more than what they got.

Then there is Willa and her mom. They have an incredibly close relationship as her mother is young and sorta cool.  She's an artist and a kind of go where the muse takes me kind of person.  But as said before, she decides to settle down there in Arizona. But they are hardly moved in before her mother starts acting strange, losing weight, looking tired, crying, sleeping late, staying out all night and soon, Willa and her mother no longer trust each other.  Willa's mother with good reason, but Willa isn't sure what is going on.

As for romance, the boy Willa spends the most time with is not the one she is interested in.  Aidan is the one that leaves her speechless or feeling dizzy, but we know nothing of him except for that hair in his eyes, frayed shirts and his apparent interest in Willa. We don't know why he's interested in her, it's as secret as her mother's life.  And we don't know why Willa likes him, he's only spoken to her a handful of times.  And she's rebuffed him each time he asked her out.  We don't really know why.

I was a little thrown off by this novel.  The first part was like Mean Girls. But then the end threw me for a loop. It was like a completely different novel.  It was very serious with Willa having to face her actions and then dangerous and bizarre.  Of course, it ended on a very high note in my opinion, but the first three quarters and the last quarter just seemed  like two different novels.  I had no idea this was going to be a series and if it weren't for the Epilogue, I would have been left totally bewildered at the ending.
It was an enjoyable read and I will read on as the last quarter of the book was more tantalizing than the first.


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