Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Liesl and Po by Lauren Oliver

Liesl and Po
by Lauren Oliver
illustrated by Kei Acedera
307 pages

Book Jacket Summary
Liesl lives in a tiny attic bedroom, locked away by her cruel stepmother. Her only friends are the shadows and the mice—until one night a ghost appears from the darkness. It is Po, who comes from the Other Side. Both Liesl and Po are lonely, but together they are less alone.
That same night, an alchemist's apprentice, Will, bungles an important delivery. He accidentally switches a box containing the most powerful magic in the world with one containing something decidedly less remarkable.
Will's mistake has tremendous consequences for Liesl and Po, and it draws the three of them together on an extraordinary journey.
From New York Times bestselling author Lauren Oliver comes a luminous and magnificent novel that glows with rare magic, ghostly wonders, and a true friendship that lights even the darkest of places.

My Thoughts
This book reminded me of Plain Kate but on the other side of the spectrum. This book is about a girl who lost her father but it is about hope and bringing goodness into the world. It felt like a Dickensian tale with odd characters who seem like caricatures but turn out to be more. They also all seem to be connected in some fashion but in a believable way. The book is full of multiple story lines that blend in together, this can sometimes get confusing in other books but Oliver uses the technique perfectly.
The illustrations throughout the book are beautiful and fit the mood of the book perfectly. You can see Liesl, Po, and Bundles looking at each other with wonder when they speak for the first time. The haughtiness of The Premier Lady and the sweetness that Mo holds inside him. I wish we could learn more about Mo's past. Oliver did such a great job teasing us with the story of his sister and I hope she goes back and looks into it at a further date.  
Highly recommend to tweens and teens who are looking or a little hopeful magic in their lives. Lauren Oliver wrote that she wrote this book to deal with the grief of her best friend dying. You can tell that there is a look to the future and a way to say goodbye. A lovely book and one I will not forget soon. 

Book Pairings
The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman
Peter Nimble and His Fantastic Eyes by Johnathan Auxier
Tuesdays at the Castle by Jessica Day George  

Monday, January 30, 2012

Backbeard: Pirate for Hire by Matthew McElligott

Backbeard: Pirate for Hire
by Matthew McElligott
Picture Book

Book Jacket Summary
Backbeard may have a new suit, but he is still one of the orneriest, smelliest, and hairiest pirates ever to sail the high seas. And his crew still likes to smash and steal things--they just prefer to do it in style. Unfortunately, certain members of the Pirate Council don't think he looks piratey enough in his new garb, and since they are just as stubborn as Backbeard, it's their way or the waterway.
Unwilling to give up his birthday suit, Backbeard sets out in search of new employment. He can pillage and plunder with the best of them, but who'll dare to hire a dirty, smelly ex-pirate?

My Thoughts
Here is a book that will tickle your funny bone! This is a story of a particular pirate named Backbeard who is a snazzy dresser, does not wear a pirates hat, and has a pig instead of a parrot. This gets him kicked out of the Pirate Guild and he has to look for other work. After many disastrous job interviews he find himself working in a tea shop for an elderly lady. This work out about as well as you would expect. Backbeard drops cups, spills tea, and makes a big mess but the owner is patient and kind. However on her day off Backbeard's old crew comes in and practically burn the tea shop down. Backbeard knows he is meant to be a pirate and actually finds a way... I won't spoil the ending because it is pretty funny how he convinces the Pirate Guild to let him back in.
I highly recommend this on to all the children who love pirates! It is fun to see the rules for pirates change when Backbeard "convinces" the Pirate Guild to let him back in. If you are looking for a funny book to amuse your pirate fans this is the one to buy.

Book Pairings
Backbeard and the Birthday Suit by Matthew McElligott
How I Became a Pirate by Melinda Long
Dirty Joe, the Pirate: A True Story by Bill Harley

Friday, January 27, 2012

TGIF at GReads! {1}: Buy or Borrow?

TGIF is a weekly meme created and hosted by GReads! that recaps the week's posts and has a different question each week.

Buy or Borrow: Where do your books that you read come from? The bookstore? The library? Do you prefer to own a book, or have it on loan?

I used to buy all my books but my student loans have kicked in and now I am on a pretty tight budget. I now use my public library and the university library I work at to check out books (you would be surprised how many YA's we get in). ALA Midwinter also provided me with tons of ARC's and I may not have to buy a book this year because of it. I do have a $20 gift card to Barnes and Noble that is burning a hole in my pocket but I am saving that for the next Meg Cabot book! My friends also keep me stocked up and I am constantly having books shoved in my hands to read.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

What a great AMV looks like

AMV by Marissa Panaccio.
Anime used: Princess Tutu
The song is 'Hall Om Mig' or 'Hold Me Now' by Nanne Grönvall.

AMV's (Anime Music Video) are a great technology lesson for teens who are into anime. I have seen several but this one stands out as one of my favorites. It has great pacing, music, and shows a sample of the anime's theme. This would be a great one to show teens what they could accomplish. Plus I really like the song.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Every You, Every Me by David Levithan

Every You, Every Me by David Levithan
248 pages

Book Jacket Summary
In this high school-set psychological tale, a tormented teen named Evan starts to discover a series of unnerving photographs—some of which feature him. Someone is stalking him . . . messing with him . . . threatening him. Worse, ever since his best friend Ariel has been gone, he's been unable to sleep, spending night after night torturing himself for his role in her absence. And as crazy as it sounds, Evan's starting to believe it's Ariel that's behind all of this, punishing him. But the more Evan starts to unravel the mystery, the more his paranoia and insomnia amplify, and the more he starts to unravel himself. Creatively told with black-and-white photos interspersed between the text so the reader can see the photos that are so unnerving to Evan, Every You, Every Me is a one-of-a-kind departure from a one-of-a-kind author.

My Thoughts
This was a very different kind of book and was more of an experience than a read. Levithan made you feel the despair and confusion that Evan was going through. The words that were struck out created a window into what was really going on and not what Evan wanted us to see. The story hinges on the mysterious absence of Evan's best friend Ariel and the blame he feels deep inside. He wraps himself in despair and isolation just like Ariel did before she "left". When someone starts leaving photos of Ariel for Evan to find it draws him into a downward spiral. What did know of the true Ariel and the secret life she lead. Can you know everything about someone or do you only see one part? Levithan does a wonderful job exploring this theme and what choices we have when someone we love is on the verge of self-destruction.
The format may scare away some readers but I found it easy to slip into. It will not be for everyone but it does capture the feels we deal with when someone we love is hurting and we cannot do anything about it. Highly recommend!

Book Pairings
Thirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher
Hate List by Jennifer Brown
Hold Still by Nina LaCour

Monday, January 23, 2012

ALA Midwinter 2012

Hello all! I am taking a quick break today to go to the ALA Midwinter 2012 in Dallas! I have already picked up some wonderful ARC's and plan on hosting some giveaways in the next week or two. 
Some of the ARC's I am most excited about are:

Magic Under Stone by Jaclyn Dolmore 
Under the Never Sky by Veronica Rossi

The Catastrophic History of You & Me by Jess Rothenberg
Deadly Pink by Vivian Vande Velde
Mister Death's Blue-Eyed Girls by Mary Downing Hahn

Can not wait to get back out there again and hopefully I will see you there!

Friday, January 20, 2012

Every Thing On It by Shel Silverstein

Everything on It 
by Shel Silverstein
194 pages 

Book Jacket Summary
A spider lives inside my head Who weaves a strange and wondrous web Of silken threads and silver strings To catch all sorts of flying things,
Like crumbs of thought and bits of smiles And specks of dried-up tears,
And dust of dreams that catch and cling For years and years and years . . .

Have you ever read a book with everything on it? Well, here it is, an amazing collection of never-before-published poems and drawings from the creator of Where the Sidewalk Ends, A Light in the Attic, and Falling Up. You will say Hi-ho for the toilet troll, get tongue-tied with Stick-a-Tongue-Out-Sid, play a highly unusual horn, and experience the joys of growing down.
What's that? You have a case of the Lovetobutcants? Impossible! Just come on in and let the magic of Shel Silverstein bend your brain and open your heart.

My Thoughts
Shel Silverstein will always be one of my favorite poets and his work will be an inspiration to many more to come. This collection of work contains a lot of funny, lyrical, and deeply moving poetry and drawings. 
She had blue skin,
And so did he.
He kept it hid
And so did she.
They searched for blue
Their whole life through,
Then passed right by-
And never knew.

Doesn't that make you want to cry? But this book is also filled with funny poems, such as The Lovetobutcants and then there are the ones that are just plan odd.
This is a book for all those who poured over Silverstein's books as children and want to see more his classic style. I was a bit skeptical because some posthumous works of poets or any other artist can be most of the works they did not publish the first time around. The ones the editor threw out but this collection has some gems and is worth the wait.

Book Pairings
Where the Sidewalk Ends by Shel Silverstein
A Light in the Attic by Shel Silverstein
Falling Up by Shel Silverstein

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Hercule Poirot's Christmas by Agatha Christie

Hercule Poirot's Christmas 
by Agatha Christie
272 pages
Loaned Copy

Book Jacket Summary
Agatha Christie's seasonal mystery thriller, reissued with a striking new cover designed to appeal to the latest generation of Agatha Christie fans and book lovers. It is Christmas Eve. The Lee family reunion is shattered by a deafening crash of furniture, followed by a high-pitched wailing scream. Upstairs, the tyrannical Simeon Lee lies dead in a pool of blood, his throat slashed. But when Hercule Poirot, who is staying in the village with a friend for Christmas, offers to assist, he finds an atmosphere not of mourning but of mutual suspicion. It seems everyone had their own reason to hate the old man!

My Thoughts
I know it is past Christmas and we are into the new year but this was only placed in my hands a week ago. Agatha Christie is a genius and she is only outsold by the Bible and Shakespeare. She lead a very interesting life and encountered a mystery of her own. I would highly recommend checking out any of her books for they are very entertaining and intriguing. This one would be perfect to read over Christmas (or any time really) with a roaring fire in the background. You will be glad not to have the family Lee over because backstabbing and blackmail abound. I did have to google two French phrases that Poirot and the word meretricious, which means apparently attractive but having in reality no value or integrity. This describes a character and is pretty accurate. I always find it interesting to come across a word that has fallen out of use, especially the French ones that everyone would have understood in the 1930's.
This book should have lots of crosover appeal for teens and adults. Teens do not seem to have a lot of mysteries in their collection. If they do it is usually paired in a supernatural type book like Clarity. For teens who want a straight mystery with no other element the Christie books would make a great selection. It is a good mystery that left me guessing until the end. It was the first mystery in a long time that I did not take a peak at the end. My Dad gave the book to me and I could not disapoint him. I am looking forward to reading more of Christie's extensive collection.

Book Pairings
Dumb Witness by Agatha Christie
Cat Among Pigeons by Agatha Christie
Evil Under the Sun by Agatha Christie

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

WOW: Pretty Crooked by Elisa Ludwig

"Waiting On" Wednesday is a weekly event, hosted by Breaking the Spine, that spotlights upcoming releases that we're eagerly anticipating.
This week's pre-publication "can't-wait-to-read" selection is:

Pretty Crooked
by Elisa Ludwig
Release Date: March 13, 2011

Goodreads Summary
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 ultra-exclusive 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 pick pockets and break into lockers is as difficult as she’d thought it’d be. Delivering care packages to the scholarship girls, who are ostracized just for being from the “wrong” side of town, is way more fun than she’d expected.
The complication Willa didn’t expect, though, is Aidan Murphy, Valley Prep’s most notorious (and gorgeous) 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 crushes and flirting with boys, especially conceited and obnoxious 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?
Sounds like a great Robin Hood book and a bit like Heist Society. That is fine with me because I love a mystery and this seems to be the reverse- Willa is trying not to get caught! I love heist books and movies so this ought to be right up my alley!

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Bear's Loose Tooth by Karma Wilson

Bear's Loose Tooth
by Karma Wilson
illustrated by Jane Chapman
Picture Book

Book Jacket Summary
Bear and his friends are munching on their lunch when, all of sudden, Bear feels something wiggling and wobbling in his mouth. Oh, no! What can it be? It’s Bear’s first loose tooth! From a cave in the forest
as Bear and his friends
all nibbled on their lunch.
Bear and his friends are munching on their lunch, when all of sudden…Bear feels something wiggling and wobbling in his mouth. Oh, no! What can it be? It’s Bear’s first loose tooth! In the first Bear book in three years, Bear’s friends ease his concerns about his wiggly, wobbly tooth and help him understand that losing a baby tooth is perfectly natural. This funny and reassuring story with rhyming text from Karma Wilson and charming illustrations from Jane Chapman is a delight for kids of any age.

My Thoughts
The Bear books are so sweet and help children through fear, sickness, and even new friends. The newest book is about Bear's first loose tooth! He gets scared about not being able to eat but his friends tell him that another will grow in its place. His woodland friends include a sparrow,owl, mouse, badger, and many others. They are all important characters and wonderfully illustrated. The pictures are filled with lush greens and fuzzy animals with very expressive faces. This is recommended for children in the age range where teeth are about ready to fall out. I really like that the tooth fairy leaves him blueberries and he promptly shares them with his friends.

Book Pairings
Bear Wants More by Karma Wilson
The Sniffles for Bear by Bonny Becker 
Bedtime for Bear by Brett Helquist

Monday, January 16, 2012

CLockwork Angel by Cassandra Clare

Clockwork Angel
The Infernal Devices: Book One
by Cassandra Clare
479 pages
Personal Copy

Book Jacket Summary

Magic is dangerous--but love is more dangerous still.
When sixteen-year-old Tessa Gray crosses the ocean to find her brother, her destination is England, the time is the reign of Queen Victoria, and something terrifying is waiting for her in London's Downworld, where vampires, warlocks and other supernatural folk stalk the gaslit streets. Only the Shadowhunters, warriors dedicated to ridding the world of demons, keep order amidst the chaos.
Kidnapped by the mysterious Dark Sisters, members of a secret organization called The Pandemonium Club, Tessa soon learns that she herself is a Downworlder with a rare ability: the power to transform, at will, into another person. What's more, the Magister, the shadowy figure who runs the Club, will stop at nothing to claim Tessa's power for his own.
Friendless and hunted, Tessa takes refuge with the Shadowhunters of the London Institute, who swear to find her brother if she will use her power to help them. She soon finds herself fascinated by--and torn between--two best friends: James, whose fragile beauty hides a deadly secret, and blue-eyed Will, whose caustic wit and volatile moods keep everyone in his life at arm's length...everyone, that is, but Tessa. As their search draws them deep into the heart of an arcane plot that threatens to destroy the Shadowhunters, Tessa realizes that she may need to choose between saving her brother and helping her new friends save the world...and that love may be the most dangerous magic of all.
My Thoughts
A new series by Cassandra Clare and a Victorian setting at that! I think this is a great new start to a new Steampunkish series that will also make fans of the Mortal Instruments happy. I really like the alternate Victorian London setting and also placing the characters in a new Institute. The characters are intriguing and different from her previous series. Sometime author struggle with that but the characters have different problems, though the romantic triangle seems the same.
Tessa is strong but struggles when she finds out she is not quite human, much like Clarissa in a way. However, Tessa is not a Shadowhunter so there is a feeling of being left out rather than included in the family. She is an outsider that must find a way to help. Will is a brooding, almost unlikeable character but he is the love interest. We hardly know anything about him and he constantly pushes people away. I'm glad we have another possiblity in Jem, who is kind and open. He has his own demons to work out but is a much better choice (althoug in a Cassandra Clare book that never gets the girl). Sophie is also a character that I want to know more about because she is brave and has the Sight. She could be a great character because of her loyalty to the people who helped her out of a dangerous situation. The book skips around in POV but is not in first person. It does make good use of it and there is many things that we would not have learned about otherwise.
Overall it is a fun book that will have YA's wanting more. Good thing the sequel is already out. There is a waiting list at my public library that feels way to long because I want it now!

Book Pairings

Soulless by Gail Carriger
Daughter of Smoke and Bone by Laini Taylor
The Name of the Star by Maureen Johnson

Saturday, January 14, 2012

The Joy of Books (Video)

Can we please give a round of applause to the people who made this video!?

Friday, January 13, 2012

Good Little Wolf by Nadia Shireen

Good Little Wolf
by Nadia Shireen
Picture Book

Book Jacket Summary
Rolf, a small, gentle wolf, lives with Mrs. Boggins, who tells him he is a good little wolf. But when he meets up with a large, ferocious wolf, he is told that he isn't a real wolf. Wolves aren't little and good—they are big and bad. To prove he is a real wolf,  the old wolf  tells Rolf he must perform certain tasks, such as blowing down a little pig's house. Rolf is a total failure . . . until the big bad wolf urges him to do something unspeakable to old Mrs. Boggins. Then the good little wolf proves that he can stand up to the big bad bully. Or so it seems. More mature readers may find a different ending that could lead to a great discussion! Using familiar storybook characters and an endearing new hero,  Nadia Shireen makes her debut in this winning picture book. 

My Quick Thoughts
I was enjoying this one, up until the last page. There is a story within a story element element but when the main character gets devoured by the Big Bad Wolf it puts a damper on my enjoyment. Children will have to know Little Red Riding Hood and the Three Little Pigs to get full satisfaction from this one. I would not recommend this one to sensitive souls because of the ending, although older children many enjoy the dramatic irony. The characters are cute and have an innocence to them (except the Big Bad Wolf). It is a strange story but original. Not my cup of tea but I know others *cough*Kerri*cough* who may enjoy the macabre ending.

Book Pairings
Betsy Red Hoodie by Gail Carson Levine
The Stinky Sheese Man by Jon Scieszka 
Betsy Who Cried Wolf by Gail Carson Levine

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Shadowcry by Jenna Burtenshaw

by Jenna Burtenshaw
311 pages
Personal Copy

Book Jacket Summary
The Night of Souls—when the veil between the living and the dead is thinnest—is only days away.
Albion is at war . . . and losing.
The wardens have descended, kidnapping innocent citizens for their army, but looking for one in particular.
And fifteen-year-old Kate Winters has just raised a blackbird from the dead.
As her home is torn apart by the wardens, Kate's discovery that she is one of the Skilled—the rare people who can cross the veil between life and death—makes her the most hunted person in all of Albion. Only she can unlock the secrets of Wintercraft, the ancient book of dangerous knowledge. Captured and taken to the graveyard city of Fume—with its secret tunnels and underground villages, and where her own parents met their deaths ten years ago—Kate must harness her extraordinary powers to save herself, her country, and the two men she cares for most. And she'll make a pact with a murderer to do it.
Those who wish to see the dark, be ready to pay your price.

My Thoughts
Interestingly the book was originally published in England as Wintercraft. This book reminded me of The Shifter by Janice Hardy in the way the story was told and the world building that took place. Also, in the way that is was good but not quite great. There was a lot going on with the world and the magic the Skilled possess but I cannot help but feel that there was not enough to Kate to make her a great main character. She just kinda went from place to place without much action. I like proactive characters, like the side character Edgar, that drive the story. Things just happen to Kate, she never really created or made a challenge. I think Burtenshaw should have made it a more adult fantasy and focused on Silas. He was an awesome character- even though he was a murdering half-dead villain. What can I say? I love a "good" villain. I wanted to get into his character more than Kate. Not to say that the book was not entertaining. I read it and never thought about not finishing it and the world building is very good. Just know you will want to know more about the side characters, like Edgar and Silas. 
That being said, I am looking forward to the next book and would recommend this one to teens who are die hard fantasy fans. Not much paranormal going on here.

Book Pairings
The Shifter by Janice Hardy
The Glass Swallow by Julia Golding

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

WOW: The Fine Art of Truth and Dare

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

This week's pre-publication "can't-wait-to-read" selection is: 
 The Fine Art of Truth and Dare 
by Melissa Jensen
Release Date: Feb. 16, 2012

Goodreads Summary

Ella is nearly invisible at the Willing School, and that's just fine by her. She's got her friends - the fabulous Frankie and their sweet cohort Sadie. She's got her art - and her idol, the unappreciated 19th-century painter Edward Willing. Still, it's hard being a nobody and having a crush on the biggest somebody in the school: Alex Bainbridge. Especially when he is your French tutor, and lessons have started becoming, well, certainly more interesting than French ever has been before. But can the invisible girl actually end up with a happily ever after with the golden boy, when no one even knows they're dating? And is Ella going to dare to be that girl?
 Yay! Another interesting realistic fiction. I really love the cover and the way the painting frames the two teens. Hope that this is a good one!

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

The Chronicles of Harris Burdick edited by Chris Van Allsburg

The Chronicles of Harris Burdick
edited by Chris Van Allsburg
195 pages

Book Jacket Summary
An inspired collection of short stories by an all-star cast of best-selling storytellers based on the thought-provoking illustrations in Chris Van Allsburg’s The Mysteries of Harris Burdick.
For more than twenty-five years, the illustrations in the extraordinary Mysteries of Harris Burdick by Chris Van Allsburg have intrigued and entertained readers of all ages. Thousands of children have been inspired to weave their own stories to go with these enigmatic pictures. Now we’ve asked some of our very best storytellers to spin the tales. Enter The Chronicles of Harris Burdick to gather this incredible compendium of stories: mysterious, funny, creepy, poignant, these are tales you won’t soon forget.

My Thoughts
The mysterious drawings of Harris Burdick have fascinated me since I first saw them in elementary school. I choose to believe in the tale and love the extended mystery. In this anthology 14 authors take a stab at writing a story based on the pictures and caption. Famous authors, such as Walter Dean Myers, Lois Lowery, and Stephen King make an appearance.
I think my favorite three were The Harp by Linda Sue Park, Missing in Venice by Gregory Maguire, and The Third Floor Bedroom by Kate DiCamillo. The Harp is a straight up magical tale about two bickering sisters who get caught up in a magic spell. Missing in Venice is about a boy whose adult care takers are after his inheritance. The Third Floor Bedroom is told through the letters of a sick girl who is writing to her brother. Each story has an element of the fantastic and most have a slight creepy vibe.
When I was younger I wrote a story about giant cockroaches that invaded a family's cottage. These pictures have inspired writers of all ages to pen some fantastic stories. I am glad to see some of them in print.

Book Pairings
Wonderstruck by Brian Selznick
Jumanji by Chris Van Allsburg
The Wreck of the Zephyr by Chris Van Allsburg

Monday, January 9, 2012

Enthralled edited by Melissa Marr and Kelley Armstrong

edited by Melissa Marr and Kelley Armstrong
452 pages
YA Anthology

Book Jacket Summary
A journey may take hundreds of miles, or it may cover the distance between duty and desire.
Sixteen of today’s hottest writers of paranormal tales weave stories on a common theme of journeying. Authors such as Kelley Armstrong, Rachel Caine, and Melissa Marr return to the beloved worlds of their bestselling series, while others, like Claudia Gray, Kami Garcia, and Margaret Stohl, create new land-scapes and characters. But whether they’re writing about vampires, faeries, angels, or other magical beings, each author explores the strength and resilience of the human heart.
Suspenseful, funny, or romantic, the stories in Enthralled will leave you moved.

My Thoughts
You should pick this one up if you are a fan of paranormal series because there are plenty of continuing short stories. Rachel Caine, Kelley Armstrong, and Melissa Marr add onto their respective series. I especially appreciate Kelley Armstrong's addition to Chloe's life from The Darkest Powers trilogy. I had to run to the library and pick up Jackson Pearces' novel As You Wish because the continuing story from the anthology (Things About Love) was that good!
There are some great standalone's, like Gargouille by Mary E. Pearson. Gargouille are winged humans that live in the mountains in secret. When Gisille is kidnapped and dewinged her love goes to extreme measures to be with her. Red Run by Kami Garcia is a ghost story with revenge on the mind.
I throughly enjoyed this anthology but I was also familiar with most of the series the short stories are based on. I am not sure how people who are unfamiliar with them will enjoy it. I know I was slightly confused with Melissa Marr's Merely Mortal. I never read her series so I was not familiar with the characters back stories and missed many of the inside jokes. However, this is a great anthology for paranormal fans!

Book Pairings
The Eternal Kiss: 13 Vampire Tales of Blood and Desire edited by Trisha Telep
Kisses from Hell edited by Kristin Cast
Vacations from Hell by Libba Bray

Friday, January 6, 2012

Arisa volume 1 by Natsumi Ando

Arisa volume 1
by Natsumi Ando

Book Jacket Summary
Tsubasa thinks that her pretty and popular twin sister, Arisa, has the perfect life. Everyone at school loves Arisa—unlike the hot-tempered Tsubasa, whose nickname is “the Demon Princess.” But when Arisa attempts suicide, Tsubasa learns that her seemingly perfect sister has been keeping some dark secrets. Now Tsubasa is going undercover at school—disguised as Arisa—in search of the truth. But will Arisa’s secrets shatter Tsubasa’s life, too?

My Thoughts
Natsumi Ando is an established manga creator with great series like Zodiac PI and Kitchen Princess already translated here in the US. Arisa looks to be a great addition to the manga world. I really like that there is a mystery element to this series, not exactly like Zodiac PI where there is a new mystery every few chapters but an overarching look into a sister's life.
Tsubasa and her sister, Arisa, were separated as children when their parents divorced. They stayed in contact through letters and are planning on reuniting. This go wrong when Arisa attempts to kill herself but ends up in a coma. Tsubasa wants to find out what is going on in her sisters life that seemed so perfect. Tsubasa must go undercover at her sister's school and find out the truth. I really liked Tsubasa because she is the polar opposite of her sister and must learn to control her anger to find out what is really happening in her sister's class. There seems to be an element of danger, suspicion, and romance happening in the next few volumes.
As always, Ando draws beautifully and has spunky characters that go headlong into danger! I hope to continue reading this series an look forward to finding out what mysteries lie in Arisa's past.
Natsumi Ando usually writes clean story lines and no nudity. This would be a title to recommend to someone who is looking for a more clean manga.

Book Pairings
Zodiac PI by Natsumi Ando
Sakura Hime: The Legend of Princess Sakura by Arina Tanemura
Kamikaze Kaito Jeanne by Arina Tanemura

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Urban Shaman by C.E. Murphy

Urban Shaman
by C.E. Murphy
344 pages
Loaned from a friend
Paranormal (Adult)

Book Jacket Summary
Joanne Walker has three days to learn to use her shamanic powers and save the world from the unleashed Wild Hunt.
No worries. No pressure. Never mind the lack of sleep, the perplexing new talent for healing herself from fatal wounds, or the cryptic, talking coyote who appears in her dreams.
And if all that's not bad enough, in the three years Joanne's been a cop, she's never seen a dead body—but she's just come across her second in three days.
It's been a bitch of a week.
And it isn't over yet.

My Thoughts
Joanne's life has been turned upside down by saving a young woman from the Wild Hunt. Finding out she is a shaman and has the ability to heal is not something she has a lot of time to explore because now the Hunt's riders are after her. She must place herself in danger to set the world right and get some sleep.
 This was a fun book that never got slow or lacked in action. I really liked Joanne and how she is determined to save those who are in danger. She does not want to be a shaman and has run from her past but she takes up the responsibility.
The secondary characters are also believable! I think I love Gary most of all! He is the cabby that Joanne took from the airport to save a woman she saw being attacked. Instead of high-tailing it, he sticks around to help. Her friend, Billy is a fellow cop that looks to be fun, especially in future books. The villains are the right amount of cool but scary. Nothing like the god of the Hunt and a Celtic demi-god duking it out.
Overall a great read! The last thing I needed was a new series but a good friend shoved them in my hands and I knew I had to read them. It looks to be a great series! Teens could enjoy this one but it is more of an adult fare. Cannot wait for for the next book.

Book Pairings
Trick of the Light by Rob Thurman
Greywalker by Kat Richardson
Moon Called by Patricia Briggs 

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

The Lantern by Deborah Lawrenson

Sorry for my absence but it has been a long week filled with family, friends, and reading! I will be posting regularly now that the holidays are over and hopefully host a few giveaways in the coming months! 

The Lantern
by Deborah Lawrenson 
386 pages

Book Summary
A modern gothic novel of love, secrets, and murder—set against the lush backdrop of Provence.
Meeting Dom was the most incredible thing that had ever happened to me. When Eve falls for the secretive, charming Dom in Switzerland, their whirlwind relationship leads them to Les GenÉvriers, an abandoned house set among the fragrant lavender fields of the South of France. Each enchanting day delivers happy discoveries: hidden chambers, secret vaults, a beautiful wrought-iron lantern. Deeply in love and surrounded by music, books, and the heady summer scents of the French countryside, Eve has never felt more alive.
But with autumn’s arrival the days begin to cool, and so, too, does Dom. Though Eve knows he bears the emotional scars of a failed marriage—one he refuses to talk about—his silence arouses suspicion and uncertainty. The more reticent Dom is to explain, the more Eve becomes obsessed with finding answers—and with unraveling the mystery of his absent, beautiful ex-wife, Rachel.
Like its owner, Les GenÉvriers is also changing. Bright, warm rooms have turned cold and uninviting; shadows now fall unexpectedly; and Eve senses a presence moving through the garden. Is it a ghost from the past or a manifestation of her current troubles with Dom? Can she trust Dom, or could her life be in danger?
Eve does not know that Les GenÉvriers has been haunted before. Benedicte Lincel, the house’s former owner, thrived as a young girl within the rich elements of the landscape: the violets hidden in the woodland, the warm wind through the almond trees. She knew the bitter taste of heartbreak and tragedy—long-buried family secrets and evil deeds that, once unearthed, will hold shocking and unexpected consequences for Eve.

My Thoughts
I do occasionally read straight up adult fiction that teens will not really enjoy. They are usually recommended to me by a co-worker who has similar taste in books, the more gothic the better. This book is rather gothic and reminded me of Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier but at the same time was very different. There is a sense that the husband is not telling everything and not knowing the narrator's real name but it has a different pacing and a dual story line. I like dual story lines and this one did a great job of using the house as a connecting point. 
I would not recommend this one to teens because it is a bit slow at times. The slowness is a more adult wanderings of life and how many paths we take to get to a certain event. I am not sure many teens would "get" the book but I know many adults who would like the atmosphere and slowness.
Overall I enjoyed it but will not read it it again like I do with some of my other gothic favorites, such as Barbra Michaels, Victoria Holt, or Kate Morton.  

Book Pairings
The Thirteenth Tale by Diane Setterfield
The House at Riverton by Kate Morton
The Historian by Elizabeth Kostova
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