Waiting on Wednesday (25) Under the Never Sky by Veronica Rossi

Waiting On Wednesday is a weekly event, hosted by Jill @ Breaking the Spine, in which we share the books that we are anxiously waiting to be released.

Under the Never Sky
by Veronica Rossi

Publisher: HarperCollins
Date: January 3rd 2011

From Goodreads:

Aria is a teenager in the enclosed city of Reverie. Like all Dwellers, she spends her time with friends in virtual environments, called Realms, accessed through an eyepiece called a Smarteye. Aria enjoys the Realms and the easy life in Reverie. When she is forced out of the pod for a crime she did not commit, she believes her death is imminent. The outside world is known as The Death Shop, with danger in every direction.

As an Outsider, Perry has always known hunger, vicious predators, and violent energy storms from the swirling electrified atmosphere called the Aether. A bit of an outcast even among his hunting tribe, Perry withstands these daily tests with his exceptional abilities, as he is gifted with powerful senses that enable him to scent danger, food and even human emotions.

They come together reluctantly, for Aria must depend on Perry, whom she considers a barbarian, to help her get back to Reverie, while Perry needs Aria to help unravel the mystery of his beloved nephew’s abduction by the Dwellers. Together they embark on a journey challenged as much by their prejudices as by encounters with cannibals and wolves. But to their surprise, Aria and Perry forge an unlikely love - one that will forever change the fate of all who live UNDER THE NEVER SKY.

Oooooh a little sci-fi/fantasy/dystopian novel with a dash of lurve? Alrighty, sign me up. Don't you just love that cover?

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Personal Demons by Lisa Desrochers

Personal Demons

Author:Lisa Desrochers
Publisher: Tor Teen
Date: September 14, 2010
Pages: 365
Genre: YA- Paranormal
Source: ALA

This one was a little tough for me. I was completely into this story up until the point where I wasn't. Right out of the box, it's fast, suspenseful and oh so sexy. Then it's kind of like, if you divide the book exactly in half, the first half was totally captivating and the last half was, eh, well- it just wasn't.

Riddled with YA cliche, (In insta-love with the new boy who is now her class partner, new boy is smoldering hot, girl is clueless as to why all the guys want her, enter the love triangle, yada yada) this story could have very easily been a disaster. Surprisingly, the aforementioned elements worked in this scenario, again, up until the point where they didn't.

Frannie is a normal high school girl, with average everything- including an average soul. It seems that Heaven and Hell have been playing a rather nasty game of dodge ball, and each side is trying to claim the best players before the other team lands them. Frannie's soul has been firmly on the fence for years. Having lost a brother at a young age, she has some serious issues with the guys upstairs. Her strong Catholic upbringing has kept her on the straight and narrow but with her doubts and one really dark, painful secret she could just as easily tip towards the other side. Heaven and Hell each send their individual ambassadors to entice Frannie toward their side. And of course, Hell sends Luc- that smoldering, wicked looking new guy who just exudes dark hotness. Heaven counters by sending Gabe, a tall handsome blonde who threatens to make Frannie feel the one thing she has sworn off since her brother died- love. The battle over Frannie's soul begins and quickly turns dangerous, and neither side is playing fair.

Let me point out, that even with all the heaven and hell goings on, this is not some underhanded attempt by an author to sneak a little God into your reading. In fact, given the elements, it was delightfully surprising to find not one ounce of religion in this book. So don't run screaming.

My issues where never with the plot, because well, a demon and an angel fighting over your soul- that's just hot. Where Desrochers drops the ball is in her attempt to balance the players in her love triangle. Gabe seems to have been randomly thrown in without ceremony and almost written as an after thought. He has very little dialogue or presence and Frannie's feelings for him just have to be assumed because Frannie said so. Her constant struggle against her feelings for Luc was where the real action was. The front cover asks the question:
"If you had to choose between Heaven and Hell, which would it be? Are you sure about that?
which would lead you to believe that you're in for some serious friction. Nope. Frannie never even made it a choice- Luc does, because he's awesome like that. So I got a bit turned off in the second half of the book when the only chemistry was between Frannie and Luc but Gabe was still considered to be a contender and we're suppose to believe that Frannie still doesn't know which one to choose. Why didn't Gabe get any chapters from his point of view? That would have made me feel a bit more connected to him.

Frannie annoyed the hell out of me. If she said "Whatever" one more time, we were going to have words. I can think of a lot of people more deserving of a hot demon lurver (pick me! pick me). But don't get me wrong, I didn't dislike this book, the actual story was amazing and I was hooked on the heat from page one, she just lost me in the second half when everyone was so decidedly vague- which should be near impossible to pull off.

Will I read the sequel? Yeah. I will.


Monday Mini (9): White Cat by Holly Black

It's Monday morning, the alarm clock just went off and everything is rush rush rush to get ready for the work week. Unfortunately there's limited time for book talk, and even less for blogging, but we still MUST share some book thoughts before we dive into the day. A Monday Mini is a quick little review typed with one hand, while coffee is made, makeup is applied and car keys are found with the other. Have a great Monday morning!

White Cat

Author: Holly Black
Publisher: Margaret K. McElderry
Date: May 4th 2010
Pages: 310
Genre: YA- Paranormal
Source: Purchased

From Goodreads:

Cassel comes from a family of curse workers — people who have the power to change your emotions, your memories, your luck, by the slightest touch of their hands. And since curse work is illegal, they're all mobsters, or con artists. Except for Cassel. He hasn't got the magic touch, so he's an outsider, the straight kid in a crooked family. You just have to ignore one small detail — he killed his best friend, Lila, three years ago.

Ever since, Cassel has carefully built up a façade of normalcy, blending into the crowd. But his façade starts crumbling when he starts sleepwalking, propelled into the night by terrifying dreams about a white cat that wants to tell him something. He's noticing other disturbing things, too, including the strange behavior of his two brothers. They are keeping secrets from him, caught up in a mysterious plot. As Cassel begins to suspect he's part of a huge con game, he also wonders what really happened to Lila. Could she still be alive? To find that out, Cassel will have to out-con the conmen.

This book has been sitting on my shelf for a while now but for some reason I had yet to pick it up. Maybe it's the seriously creepy cover. Those gloves alone are enough to send me running. It wasn't until recently that I've gotten in to darker YA so I guess it was just time to read this one. I'm so glad I did because it's positively fabulous!

This is my first Holly Black book and I had no idea how awesome she is. White Cat was fierce. Even with its dark, nasty magic performed by wicked evil doers I was immediately rooting for the bad guys. Curse workers have formed a sort of magical mafia where they're still busting knee caps in an old school way only in Black's world they do it with their minds. I loved Cassel from page one. Believing that he lacks the powers that the rest of his family has, he still engages in the same manipulation and subterfuge that his twisted kinsmen do but with his wits alone. Oh and then, THEN there's the part where he turns out to be the biggest badass.

I'm liking YA books from male points of view. They're rare enough to make them a real treat whenever they're stumbled upon. The sequel, Red Glove, was released this past April and I need to get my grubby little hands on it.

(Damnit, Janet.) Explosive Eighteen by Janet Evanovich

Explosive Eighteen

Author: Janet Evanovich
Publisher: Bantam
Date: November 22nd 2011
Pages: 320
Genre: Fiction- Mystery
Source: Purchased and I want my effing money back

**This rant (this is in no way a review) contains spoilers, pissiness and general hate and discontent.**

Stephanie, Janet, and I have been friends for eighteen books now so I've earned the right to say whatever the hell I want to about this series. I have YEARS vested with the Plum company and well, frankly I'm pissed that its stock value has plummeted most drastically

Stephanie Plum, laid-off lingerie buyer turned bounty hunter has a habit of getting herself caught in the stickiest situations. She's been threatened, kidnapped, assaulted, and car bombed more times than she can count and usually in the most humiliating of ways. She's well, not very good at her job and relies heavily on luck to catch her skips and make the rent money. While her job has frequently placed her in a less than ideal position (usually the dangerous kind) it's her personal life that really scares the hell out of her. Stephanie is in love (or lust) with two men- two men that can be equally as difficult to deal with as the bad guys she plays at tracking down. Joe and Ranger have an unspoken pact to not acknowledge Stephanie's romantic attachment to the both of them, but they readily agree that it takes two of them to keep her safe. But when the time comes for Stephanie to finally decide if she's playing for Team Cupcake or Team Babe, Joe and Ranger may have both decided to give their bounty hunter the slip.

When I first heard that we were getting another Plum novel right on the heels of Smokin' Seventeen I was a little perplexed. We get one Plum book a year right? THAT IS THE WAY THE WORLD WORKS. So why is Janet throwing a curve ball and giving us Explosive Eighteen a few short months later? When we left Stephanie in June she was boarding a plan for Hawaii and she knew exactly who she was going to take with her. Did she take Joe? Did she take Ranger? So maybe we're getting Eighteen so soon afterwards because SOMETHING HAPPENED IN HAWAII!

Wrong. I don't know what their reason was for pushing Eighteen so soon after the last one but it wasn't to showcase what happened in Hawaii. It wasn't so that Stephanie could finally choose between Joe or Ranger. It wasn't so that after 17 books of her screwing both of them she could finally commit to only screwing one of them. It wasn't to finally show Stephanie as adept at her job. It was published so soon so that:

  1. Something could get blown up.
  2. Someone could break into Stephanie's apartment
  3. Stephanie could take Grandma Mazur to a viewing at the funeral home.
  4. Stephanie's parents could hang their heads in shame and embarrassment at the dinner table and Stephanie could brown bag leftovers.
  5. Stephanie and Lula could eat at Cluck-in-a-Bucket.
  6. Stephanie and Lula could make several unsuccessful attempts to capture a skip and be thwarted over and over again in the most humiliating ways.
  7. Stephanie could toss Rex a few hamster crunchies and have him scurry out, shove them in his cheeks and go back into his soup can.
  8. Stephanie can shamelessly sleep with both Joe AND Ranger all the while saying that she's not going to sleep with either of them.

You know, the same thing that happened in Seventeen....and Sixteen...and Fifteen....and Fourteen...shall I keep going or do you get the picture? Here's what happened in Eighteen: NOTHING. NOTHING NEW HAPPENED. No decisions were made, no changes in plot line or formatting, it was just copy/paste the last seventeen books and changing the type of excrement that Stephanie gets covered in. She doesn't "pick" anyone and the ending was left just as ambiguous as it has been for 17 books. I could possibly, if I wanted to, draw some inkling that a point was scored for Team "_____" but it would be mostly wishful thinking.

Where Sizzlin' Seventeen was hysterically funny to the point of convulsions, Eighteen was dry, dry. I actually marked the three (only three) pages that made me laugh, and only one of those was loud enough to draw attention- of course that one came from Grandma Mazur.
     "It got better after you left," she said. "Melvin Shupe came through the line and cut the cheese right when he got up to the casket. He said he was sorry, but the widow made a big fuss over it. And then the funeral director came with air freshener, and when he sprayed it around, Louisa Belman got a asthma attack and they had to cart her out the back door to get some air. Earl Krizinski was sitting behind me, and he said he saw Louisa's underpants when they picked her up, and he said he got a stiffy."
     "Louisa Belman is ninety-three years old."
     "Well, I guess to Earl underpants are underpants."
So what the hell Janet? Seriously? If you want to continue to rake in the dough with your cash cow by reproducing the same book over and over again, I AM OK WITH THAT. I DO LOVE THE SERIES. But come on! Nothing? Nothing!? Sorry if that's a spoiler but truth is truth.

Janet Evanovich, author of eighteen Stephanie Plum novels who I still love with all my heart but currently want to throw things at:

Waiting on Wednesday (25) Bittersweet by Sarah Ockler

Waiting On Wednesday is a weekly event, hosted by Jill @ Breaking the Spine, in which we share the books that we are anxiously waiting to be released.

by Sarah Ockler

Publisher: Simon Pulse
Date: Janurary 3rd 2012

From Goodreads:

Once upon a time, Hudson knew exactly what her future looked like. Then a betrayal changed her life, and knocked her dreams to the ground. Now she’s a girl who doesn’t believe in second chances... a girl who stays under the radar by baking cupcakes at her mom’s diner and obsessing over what might have been.

So when things start looking up and she has another shot at her dreams, Hudson is equal parts hopeful and terrified. Of course, this is also the moment a cute, sweet guy walks into her life...and starts serving up some seriously mixed signals. She’s got a lot on her plate, and for a girl who’s been burned before, risking it all is easier said than done.

It’s time for Hudson to ask herself what she really wants, and how much she’s willing to sacrifice to get it. Because in a place where opportunities are fleeting, she knows this chance may very well be her last....

Sarah Ockler is the awesome that brought us Twenty Boy Summer and now she's gifting us with this! I love love love this cover and I predict greatness!

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Happy Book Birthday to The Space Between by Brenna Yovanoff!!

The Space Between by Brenna Yovanoff

Publisher: Razorbill (Penguin)
Date: November 15th 2011

From Goodreads:

Everything is made of steel, even the flowers. How can you love anything in a place like this?

Daphne is the half-demon, half-fallen angel daughter of Lucifer and Lilith. Life for her is an endless expanse of time, until her brother Obie is kidnapped - and Daphne realizes she may be partially responsible. Determined to find him, Daphne travels from her home in Pandemonium to the vast streets of Earth, where everything is colder and more terrifying. With the help of the human boy she believes was the last person to see her brother alive, Daphne glimpses into his dreams, discovering clues to Obie's whereabouts. As she delves deeper into her demonic powers, she must navigate the jealousies and alliances of the violent archangels who stand in her way. But she also discovers, unexpectedly, what it means to love and be human in a world where human is the hardest thing to be.

This second novel by rising star Brenna Yovanoff is a story of identity, discovery, and a troubled love between two people struggling to find their place both in our world and theirs.

Want, want, want, want.....going to get it this morning and will have, have, have, have. So excited you're finally here! I loved her writing in The Replacement and this book will undoubtedly contain equal amounts of awesome.

Interview & Giveaway with Anna Carey author of Eve!

Today we're chatting (and doodling) with Anna Carey, author of the new YA dystopian novel Eve. Anna was nice enough to answer a few questions about her novel, share a bit of gossip (pssst, it's about the sequel) and donate a priceless work of art.

     Some of the events in your book touch on some really scary subjects, particularly what happens to the girls after they graduate. Did you find some of the more extreme aspects of their society difficult to write?

Parts of the book are very sad, and I found myself tearing up while writing those moments. It was hard to write the scene where Eve leaves the dugout, or the times when she's thinking about her mother's death. I was really on edge while writing many of the scenes that happen while she's being chased on the road (and the one you mention--where she sees the graduates). In some ways, writing in first person made the whole experience more intense.

     I can see the influence of The Handmaid’s Tale in your story, but there’s also a little loooooove happening in the book as well. Is there a romance novel or a novel with a little romance in it that inspired you?

I haven't read many romance novels, but I'm a lover of love stories. Anna Karenina and Romeo and Juliet both captured me (they're actually part of the curriculum at Eve's School). Love in the Time of Cholera and The History of Love are two of my other favorites.

     Can you tell us a bit about the sequel? That information won't leave this blog. Promise.

The sequel is primarily set in the City of Sand--a restored city in the middle of the desert. Soon after Eve is brought there she meets the King and discovers her role in the New America. I better leave it at that--I've already said too much!

     I hear there's talk of a T.V. show based on Eve. I'm sure you were ecstatic when you heard the news. Now be honest. When no one was looking...you did a really ridiculously embarrassing happy dance, didn't you? By all means, feel free to recreate it in a stick figure drawing.

I did indeed! See stick figure reenactment below (I'm known for my very long arms).

     A large chunk of YA readers are not actually young adults. We fibbed a little bit, flashed a fake id and now we get to hang out in the teen section of the bookstore. What do you think makes YA books so appealing to ahem...those of us who are a bit more advanced in years than the age group these books are actually aimed at? I'm not referring to myself, mind you because I'm only 21. The same age I was last year.

There's something inherently compelling about "firsts". First love, the first time you get into a fight with a friend, the first time you experience rejection or recognize just how cruel people can be. The first time someone close to you dies. These things can feel like the end of the world. It can feel like you can't possibly survive beyond that moment. Though I no desire to return to high school, I sometimes miss the excitement and terror of it, and I wonder if other adults do too. The character's in YA fiction are in the throes of their 'firsts', oftentimes with life or death consequences. We all remember what that feels like--how can you forget?. Maybe some of us want to go back.

     Finally (because it really is the most important thing), what is your favorite Jane Austen novel?

I wish I was more out of the box on this one, but I have to go with Pride and Prejudice (Fitzwilliam Darcy, be still my heart).

You can follow Anna on Twitter, like Eve on Facebook or visit her blog!

Eve by Anna Carey

Eighteen-year-old Eve has grown up isolated from boys, and has been taught to fear them. It isn’t until the night before the graduation from her all-girls school that she discovers what really happens to new graduates. To avoid the terrifying fate that awaits her, Eve flees the only home she’s ever known, searching for a place she can survive. Along the way she encounters Caleb, a rebellious young man living in the wild. Eve knows she shouldn’t trust him, but Caleb slowly wins her confidence and heart. He promises to protect her, but when soldiers begin hunting them, Eve must choose between life and love.

Contest Rules
  • Must be 13 years of age or older
  • Open to US only
  • Contest ends November 28th
  • One entry per person please
  • Fill out the form below

*Special thanks to Alloy Entertainment for providing the prize!

Retro Friday Review: Miss Suzy by Miriam Young

Miss Suzy

Author: Miriam Young
Publisher: Parent Magazine Press
Date: June 1964
Pages: 44
Genre: Children's, Picture Book
Source: Muh heart

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

I don't know why, but I've been thinking about this book a lot lately. Maybe it's because it's almost the end of the year or Christmas is around the corner and I'm getting nostalgic or maybe I've just gotten old. This was -MY- children's book when I was a wee one and I've never forgotten it.

It's the story of a little squirrel who lives a very simple, happy life in the top of an oak tree. She takes care of her house, all content and satisfied in her domestication and leads what is almost an ideal little life.

"I love my house, oh, yes-sir-ee,
My own little house in my own oak tree."

One day Miss Suzy is driven from her oak tree by a group of troublesome red squirrels. They smash her acorn cups and break her little twig broom and cause general hate and discontent. Miss Suzy runs away and seeks shelter in the attic of an old house, where she finds a beautiful dollhouse. This dollhouse is very dirty so what does our very domestic minded house-squirrel do? She cleans it!

"My, what a lovely house!" thought Miss Suzy. "It is fit for a queen. But it needs a good housekeeper, so it is just the place for me."

The next day, Miss Suzy is exploring her new domicile when she comes across a box of toy soldiers. Lonely in her big new house, Miss Suzy invites the soldiers to stay with her. Our little Donna Reed squirrel was all too happy to cook and clean for the soldiers and care for them like a good little mother squirrel. But though her new house was very beautiful and her new friends very good company, Miss Suzy missed her little house in her oak tree. So that night, the soldiers set out to reclaim Miss Suzy's tree.

Late that night the captain woke his men and gave them their orders. There were only five of them, but the were very brave, and their hearts were full of love.

The soldiers find the red squirrels still in residence at Miss Suzy's house, fighting and breaking things as troublesome red squirrels are wont to do. The soldiers wave their swords and vow vengeance for Miss Suzy and the squirrels go a runnin'. Miss Suzy is able to return to her little tree house, which is understandably a mess, and she cleans it! Of course she does! And she makes the soldiers promise to come to dinner once a week. All is blissful once again at the top of the oak tree. She makes a new twig broom and new acorn cups, all the while singing as she works.

At night Miss Suzy climbed into her bed and looked through the topmost branches at the sky. She saw a million stars. And the wind blew gently and rocked her to sleep. It was very peaceful.

Now I'm older and in a house of my own. On particularly bad days I say to myself "This will be over soon, and then I can go home to Tara." in an exaggerated southern accent (not difficult for this southerner at all) but most days, just the normal, tired ones, I go home to "my own little house in my own oak tree."

Dear Santa Claus: A Christmas Wishlist

Dear Santa,

I know it's only the 10th of November and this letter might seem a bit premature but I want so very many books that I knew you would need extra time to round them all up- especially since some of them don't really even exist yet. It is OK to send some of these early as I can imagine if you carried all of them at once they would be much too heavy. I ask for these books for a several reasons:

1. They are pretty and shiny and I like pretty, shiny things.
2. I'm very much addicted to stories and these sound like remarkable ones to add to my collection.
3. The zombie apocalypse IS COMING and I need to strengthen the walls of my book fort.

I can assure you that I have been a very good girl this year and can provide references if needed. I'm well aware that I made the same claim last year and I heard a rumor that you nearly choked on a cookie when you got the message and I'm sorry if this caused your airway any undue stress. I pinky-swear that I am not guilty of doing any of the things I did last year- not that I admit to being guilty of them last year either. If you could please bring me the books on the enclosed list (I'm attaching it as a zip file due to size) it would make me very happy indeed. I know I'm asking a lot but I'm also not asking for anything other than books for Christmas and I think that should count for something.

Most Sincerely,

P.S. Clicking on the titles will take you to Goodreads where you can add them to your wishlist too.

Away by Teri Hall
By Royal Decree by Kate Emerson
Destined by P.C. Cast (Wishing for this book probably qualifies me for the "bad" list but can't you overlook it just this once Santa?)
Girl of Nightmares by Kendare Blake (THIS WILL BE EPIC, SANTA. EPIC.)
Folly by Marthe Jocelyn
Endlessly by Kiersten White (Please bring a box of tissues with this one because I fear it is the last in the series.)
Frost by Marianna Baer
Just Like Heaven by Julia Quinn
Liesl & Po by Lauren Oliver
For Darkness Shows the Stars by Diana Peterfreund (Jane Austen wants me to have this book and you mustn't disappoint Jane.)
My Soul to Take by Rachel Vincent
Noah Barleywater Runs Away by John Boyne
Bitterblue by Kristin Cashore (I want all of the books listed but if you can only bring me one, please make it this one.)
The Immortal Rules by Julie Kagawa (Just touching a Kagawa book infuses you with awesome, Santa.)
The False Prince by Jennifer A. Nielsen
Spellbound by Rachel Hawkins
A Rogue by Any Other Name by Sarah MacLean (I love her so.)
Fever by Lauren DeStefano
The Peach Keeper by Sarah Addison Allen
The Shifter by Janice Hardy
Six Impossible Things by Fiona Wood
Snuff by Terry Pratchett (I will probably go ahead and get this one, Santa but feel free to bring me an autographed copy to love.)
Song of the Sparrow by Lisa Ann Sandell
The Fault in Our Stars by John Green (You should just bring everyone a copy of this. Just FYI.)
At the King's Pleasure by Kate Emerson
Masque of the Red Death by Bethany Griffin
Bloodrose by Andrea Cremer
Cinder by Marissa Meyer (Not to be confused with anyone else with the last name Meyer.)
The Statistical Probability of Love at First Sight by Jennifer E. Smith
Hallowed by Cynthia Hand (I know I never sat down and reviewed Unearthly but it was an absolutely freakin' fabulous book.)
Isla and the Happily Ever After by Stephanie Perkins (These books could very easy bring world peace so feel free to pass them out to everyone.)
Rebel Belle by Rachel Hawkins (Because who doesn't like book titles that conjure up Billy Idol songs.)
Shadows by Ilsa J. Bick (And could you bring one to my friend Donna as well?)
Explosive Eighteen by Janet Evanovich (I like to think that you are Team Morelli too, Santa.)
The Space Between by Brenna Yovanoff (Another one that I'll probably get before hand but please go ahead and bring me one that is signed if you can.)
Little, Big by John Crowley
A Spy in the House by Y.S. Lee
Breadcrumbs by Anne Ursu
The Selection by Kiera Cass (I know she and I got off to a rocky start with her first book but LOOK AT THAT COVER, SANTA! LOOK AT IT!)
Grave Mercy by R.L. LeFevers
Bittersweet by Sarah Ockler
When the Sea is Rising Red by Cat Hellisen
The Other Life by Susanne Winnacker
Every Book Ever Written by Neil Gaiman (I'm fairly certain that you can't get into heaven without reading them. Oh but I don't need The Graveyard Book, Anansi Boys, Stardust, Coraline or The Sandman: Preludes and Nocturnes. But I need EVERYTHING ELSE.)
The Vampire Diaries by L.J. Smith (I know they differ from the show but bring them to me anyway- if for no other reason than seeing Damon's name written over and over again.)

Waiting on Wednesday (24) Explosive Eighteen by Janet Evanovich

Waiting On Wednesday is a weekly event, hosted by Jill @ Breaking the Spine, in which we share the books that we are anxiously waiting to be released.

Explosive Eighteen
by Janet Evanovich

Publisher: Bantam
Date: November 22th 2011

From Goodreads:

Bounty hunter Stephanie Plum’s life is set to blow sky high when international murder hits dangerously close to home, in this dynamite novel by Janet Evanovich.

Before Stephanie can even step foot off Flight 127 Hawaii to Newark, she’s knee deep in trouble. Her dream vacation turned into a nightmare, and she’s flying back to New Jersey solo. Worse still, her seatmate never returned to the plane after the L.A. layover. Now he’s dead, in a garbage can, waiting for curbside pickup. His killer could be anyone. And a ragtag collection of thugs and psychos, not to mention the FBI, are all looking for a photograph the dead man was supposed to be carrying.

Only one other person has seen the missing photo—Stephanie Plum. Now she’s the target, and she doesn’t intend to end up in a garbage can. With the help of an FBI sketch artist Stephanie re-creates the person in the photo. Unfortunately the first sketch turns out to look like Tom Cruise, and the second sketch like Ashton Kutcher. Until Stephanie can improve her descriptive skills, she’ll need to watch her back.

Over at the bail bonds agency things are going from bad to worse. The bonds bus serving as Vinnie’s temporary HQ goes up in smoke. Stephanie’s wheelman, Lula, falls in love with their largest skip yet. Lifetime arch nemesis Joyce Barnhardt moves into Stephanie’s apartment. And everyone wants to know what happened in Hawaii?

Morelli, Trenton’s hottest cop, isn’t talking about Hawaii. Ranger, the man of mystery, isn’t talking about Hawaii. And all Stephanie is willing to say about her Hawaiian vacation is . . . It’s complicated.

Damnit, Janet. She's caused quite a bit of a stir, giving us two Plum books in one year. I just hope it doesn't mean that we'll be short one next year. Or maybe this book following so closely on the heels of #17 means that something VERY BIG AND IMPORTANT is going to happen.

I have one question for you Steph- who's the daddy?


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The Scorpio Races by Maggie Stiefvater

The Scorpio Races

Author:Maggie Stiefvater
Publisher: Scholastic
Date: October 18th 2011
Pages: 404
Genre: YA- Fantasy
Source: Purchased

It's very easy to talk about a book you didn't like, or one you only had lukewarm feelings for. It's easy because there's no attachment to the story so you don't feel compelled to try and recapture and recreate any feelings you had for it. It's the opposite when the book is one you like and it's next to impossible when it's one you really, really love. I really, really loved this book so you'll forgive me if I ramble about with little direction here and know that my heart isn't in this little book thought because it's quite fixedly locked in the story.

The autumn waters usher in the capaill uisce to the island, the waves crashing relentlessly upon the shore, revealing these majestic water horses with each break. It marks the beginning of the week of festivities and challenges that will end with the much anticipated Scorpio Races. It is a long standing tradition and one that must be upheld. The races are as deadly as the horses that run in them. Only one person can win, but many will die trying. The capaill uisce openly despise their captors, these would be jockeys that seek fame and fortune on their backs, denying the freedom that returning to the water would bring. Men will die trying to catch a water horse, torn limb from limb or their bodies broken in the powerful jaws of these flesh eaters. Men will die racing them, the horses making no distinction among humans, all men are captors and all men can die. The races happen once a year and the winner, if he's lucky enough to survive the race will receive a handsome reward for his bravery. Since the beginning of the races it has been men who catch the horses, men who ride the horses and men who enter the races. Puck Connolly isn't a man and her horse is not one of the capaill uisce but she's determined to race. She's determined to win.
     Every so often, I can see the head of a capall uisce in the water, far out from shore, driven toward the sand by the November current. The ones we have caught struggle against us in bridles hung with bells and red ribbons, iron and holly leaves, daisies and prayers. The water horses are hungry and wicked, vicious and beautiful, hating us and loving us.
     It is time for the Scorpio Races.
     I am so, so alive.
First, let me openly admit that I have not, up until now, been a Stiefvater fan. I read Shiver with no desire to finish it, follow up on the series or dive into a Stiefvater book again. I felt completely detached from her writing and that was that. When I read the synopsis for The Scorpio Races, something clicked. Something in me knew that despite my dislike for the only Stiefvater novel I'd read, this book was mine. It is perhaps one of the most moving stories I've ever read, beautifully written, and so very much more than I ever could have anticipated. It is a harsh story, set in a harsh climate in a world that is all at once our own and yet not. I was cold while reading it, craving a warmth denied me by the story until the very end- where I cried like a freakin' baby. I cried great big giant crocodile tears, the kind where you gulp and hiccup afterwards. I wanted that ending but I didn't see it coming and when it did, after all the story puts you through, it's the greatest gift. BIG GIANT SLOBBERING SNOT FEST.

My beloved is a real find. He's grown accustom to my book induced crazies and doesn't even flinch when I lose it over a book. I throw books, I yell at books, I dance with books, I cry over books and still he takes me back to the bookstore for more. I was a happy-sad mess over this book and the good book hangover lasted for days. I know everyone always says, the day after a good hard drunk, that they will never ever do it again but I'll drink myself into a stupor with this book many, many times over. Even if Maggie and I never cross paths again, this one book means so much to me that I'll never be able to praise her enough.

Taking a cue from Angie once again (I'm kind of a groupie), I attempted to make November Cakes using Maggie's recipe. November Cakes were a kind of sticky bun enjoyed during festivities that proceeded the races. They were wonderful but be warned, they are very, very, very sweet.

November Cakes!

**Capaill uisce is apparently water horses in Gaelic, where as capall uisce is water horse. Stiefvater covers this in the book but I just found it neat to google because I'm a big dork like that.

Northlander by Meg Burden


Author:Meg Burden
Publisher: Brown Barn Books
Date: October 24th 2007
Series: Tales of the Borderlands #1
Pages: 280
Genre: YA- Fantasy
Source: Purchased

This little gem of a book was actually mentioned, and if I recall, only in passing, by Angie @ Angieville in a post about various goodies that she read last year. Feel free to correct me if I'm wrong. I'm old and forgetful. Anyway, I found a copy and for some reason I stuck it away on the shelf and forgot about it. It wasn't until I was craving a bit of traditional fantasy fiction that I went looking for it again. I'm oh so glad that I did.

Ellin and her father find themselves in the precarious position of healers to the king of the Northlands. Normally, being in the employ of a king would be a position of some honor but not if you are from the Southlands. It is a crime for a Southlander to lay hands on the king, let alone use their much feared magic to heal him. When the deed is done and the king has recovered, Ellin and her father are arrested, for the king fears their magic more than he appreciates what they sacrificed to save him. With the help of the most unlikely accomplices, Ellin will have to learn to harness the magic that evokes such fear in Northlanders. Ellin is powerful, much more powerful than anyone imagines, powerful enough to be feared by her own people as well.

I fell instantly instantly in love with little Ellin. She's headstrong, stubborn and at times a bit reckless- just the traits I look for in a heroine. Rather than feel compassion for her plight, Ellin's strength did not allow for any pity. You want to cheer for her, not caution her. When the story began, Ellin had no idea about her powers, or that such a talent even existed. A nice, tidy set up for a good fantasy. I like to grow with my characters, especially the ones that encounter things that are in sharp contrast to reality. Rather than being thrown in the middle of a story where the fantastical was already underway, discovering the magic along with Ellin allowed for better understanding of her world and more importantly, how it viewed her powers.

This is a relatively short little novel, and a quick read but that doesn't mean that it hasn't been nicely detailed. Burden fully develops each and every character that comes on the page making the supporting cast just as alive as Ellin. I loved, loved, loved the king's sons. They were all so very unique and likeable. I caught of hint of Alaric maybe becoming troublesome in the future but I'm going to hold out hope that he pulls through. And though it might be a little premature- I'm Team Finn.

I have the sequel The King Commands sitting right here next to me, begging to be read. It has the most awful cover perhaps in existence but I'm already in love with the story so I'm not deterred.

An Abundance of Katherines by John Green

An Abundance of Katherines

Author:John Green
Publisher: Dutton
Date: September 9th 2006
Pages: 227
Genre: YA- Contemporary
Source: Purchased

Colin Singleton is struggling with his lack of genius. As a child prodigy rapidly approaching adulthood, he's in danger of outliving what has always made him special. So many child prodigies spark early and then fade away into normalcy never having accomplished anything remarkable enough to earn the title of genius. The only thing special he can lay claim to is having been dumped. Being dumped is something Colin is extremely proficient at, in fact, he just got dumped again. Colin has been dumped nineteen times by girls named Katherine.

"But monotony doesn't make for painlessness. In the first century CE, Roman authorities punished St. Appollonia by crushing her teeth one by one with pliers. Colin often thought about this in relationship to the monotony of dumping: we have thirty two teeth. After a while, having each tooth individually destroyed probably gets repetitive, even dull. But it never stops hurting."

True to John Green form, this story is dripping with wit, originality, nonsense and a lot of stone cold reality. It's beautiful enough to make you appreciate math. Yes, math. Using his nineteen failed relationships with Katherines, Colin has come up with a mathematical formula to determine the end of a relationship. He thinks that quite possibly, his formula could be a stroke of pure genius. More importantly, it's a great distraction from the fact that he's pretty much heartbroken. Colin, and the story are both instantly likeable. I loved every silly word of it.

“The problem exactly is that she dumped me. That I'm alone. Oh my God, I'm alone again. And not only that, but I'm a total failure in case you haven't noticed. I'm washed up. I'm former. Formerly the boyfriend of Katherine XIX. Formerly a prodigy. Formerly full of potential. Currently full of shit.”

That's pretty much becoming the norm with me and John Green. He writes something and I fall madly in love with it. Looking for Alaska, Will Grayson, Will Grayson- both were everything I could every want out of a story in entirely different ways. Where my last two Green reads were clearly tackling serious issues (and expertly done mind you) An Abundance of Katherines was a purely for fun read.

I feel confident claiming that this is one of those wonderful YA books that truly makes it impossible to not love YA. All the paranormal crap and silly vampire nonsense, it's just mindless entertainment that means absolutely nothing, but John Green's writing is a reminder of why I love YA stories, and stories in general. The way an author can manipulate language, twist words and recreate an already established world in such a new and exciting way, never ceases to amaze me. With YA you have the added element of possibility, of a completely open and limitless future that has even an old fart like me believing that the whole world is still out there waiting for me and it is going to be a great adventure. I'll read this book over and over again until it finally sinks in that I shouldn't try to grow up so fast.

Waiting on Wednesday (23) The Gathering Storm by Robin Bridges

Waiting On Wednesday is a weekly event, hosted by Jill @ Breaking the Spine, in which we share the books that we are anxiously waiting to be released.

The Gathering Storm
by Robin Bridges

Publisher: Delacorte Books for Young Readers
Date: Janurary 10th 2012

From Goodreads:

St. Petersburg, Russia, 1888. As she attends a whirl of glittering balls, royal debutante Katerina Alexandrovna, Duchess of Oldenburg, tries to hide a dark secret: she can raise the dead. No one knows. Not her family. Not the girls at her finishing school. Not the tsar or anyone in her aristocratic circle. Katerina considers her talent a curse, not a gift. But when she uses her special skill to protect a member of the Imperial Family, she finds herself caught in a web of intrigue.

An evil presence is growing within Europe's royal bloodlines—and those aligned with the darkness threaten to topple the tsar. Suddenly Katerina's strength as a necromancer attracts attention from unwelcome sources . . . including two young men—George Alexandrovich, the tsar's standoffish middle son, who needs Katerina's help to safeguard Russia, even if he's repelled by her secret, and the dashing Prince Danilo, heir to the throne of Montenegro, to whom Katerina feels inexplicably drawn.
The time has come for Katerina to embrace her power, but which side will she choose—and to whom will she give her heart?

I heard about this little gem from Emily @ Lemuria Books when she happened to mention it on Twitter. Robin Bridges is, get this, a new YA author from the MS Gulf Coast, just down the street and around the corner from HOME and, AND, she is a NURSE. Yes. I'm so very excited about her upcoming series and can't wait for The Gathering Storm to be released!

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Prized by Caragh M. O'Brien


Author:Caragh M. O'Brien
Publisher: Roaring Brook Press
Date: November 8th 2011
Series: Birthmarked #2
Pages: 368
Genre: YA- Dystopia
Source: Provided by publisher (ALA)

**Hi there. If you haven't read the first book in this series then this review will spoil it for you and you won't be able to have any pie. None for you!**

Gaia has fled the Enclave after discovering the horrible truth about the elite society she has been serving her whole life. With her parents gone and the entire Enclave searching for her, Gaia has no choice but to leave the city. She must escape for her own protection and for that of her newborn sister, a baby she delivered with her own hands as she watched their mother die. Guided by the belief that her grandmother is still alive somewhere beyond the reach of the Enclave, Gaia discovers an entire community of people. While a new city could mean a new life and safety for Gaia, she only trades one form of servitude for another. In Sylum, women have nearly ceased to give birth to females and their entire community is in danger of dying out. A female child is a rare and much sought after gift and Gaia's little sister is immediately taken away from her. Forced once again to serve as a midwife, Gaia struggles to obey her new captives in hopes that she can get her sister back.

So I really liked Birthmarked, the first book in this series. It was different, edgy and I liked Gaia because she wasn't the run of the mill, gifted beautiful leading lady that everyone fell instantly in love with. But where I found Birthmarked uniquely gritty and disturbing, I struggled with the sequel's predictability. I really, really felt as if I'd read this story before- only I can't remember where. So much of what was included seemed irrational, even for a dystopian story where anything can go. I seriously doubt that nearly 2000 men would let a handful of women completely control them, even if they do have bows and arrows and the proverbial "thing that all men want." I just couldn't wrap my mind around it. I mean, a community of mostly men and a blind pregnant woman is in charge? I mean it sounds ideal, I'll give you that, but not very realistic because even in a fictional future- men are still men.

Gaia is the new girl in town, she's unattached, possibly fertile and one of the few remaining females, so of course her milkshake is bringin' all the boys to the yard. I liked that O'Brien could see the silliness in her "love square" and even acknowledged it through Gaia. Still, there were some very sweet, romantic moments, though not with the initial love interest from the first book- he's still just a flaky as he was before (and now he apparently has like ten different personalities). I'm Team Peter all the way.

     "I have wanted to hold you my whole life," he said.
     She closed her eyes against his shoulder, breathing in the smell of sunlight in his shirt... "You've only known me since yesterday."
"That's my whole life."

I'm still on board for the next book. O'Brien puts a lot of detail into her world and it's an extremely interesting place to visit. Just please, please do something with Leon as he is so very unlikeable.

*Quote taken from an ARC of Prized and may differ in the finished copy.

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Laura @ A Jane of All Reads
I read excessively and hoard books like a greedy dragon. Theoretically, I also plan to use them to barricade myself against the forthcoming zombie apocalypse.

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