Tuesday, August 31, 2010

The Haunted - Jessica Verday


After months spent reclaiming her sanity and trying to forget the boy she fell in love with, Abbey returns to Sleepy Hollow, ready to leave the ghosts of her past behind. She throws herself into her schoolwork, her perfume making, and her friendship with Ben, her cute and funny lab partner, who just might be her ticket to getting over Caspian once and for all.
But Abbey can never get over Caspian, and Caspian has no choice but to return to her side. They are tied not only to each other, but also to the town of Sleep Hollow and the famous legend that binds their fates--a legend whose dark truths they are only beginning to guess. . . . 
(Synopsis taken from book flap. Spoilers have been edited.)

Title: The Haunted (Book 2 in the Hollow trilogy)
Genre: Young Adult
Publisher: Simon Pulse
Publication Date: August 31, 2010
Source: Received from publicist. Many thanks goes to Loretta from Simon & Schuster for sending me this book for review. This book was received free of charge in exchange for an honest review. 
My Rating: 4/5

The Haunted opens up with Abbey heading back home to Sleepy Hollow. She is still dealing with her friend Kristen's death, and her relationship with Caspian. She is back to her perfume making and is trying to figure out what exactly is going on with Caspian, and herself. 
Abbey is a more formidable character in this installment, she is learning more about herself, and also seems more sure of herself. In my review of The Hollow, I stated that I hoped that she would grow more of a backbone, and she seems to have definitely evolved from that person into a newer, stronger, more resilient one. Caspian has also grown as a character. I really enjoyed reading about the two of them, but wish that we could have seen more of Nikolas and Katy. I think Verday has hit her stride in this installment and many questions asked in The Hollow are answered in this book. The book starts off slowly, and gains momentum, capturing the reader's interest while setting the stage for its haunting conclusion. As an avid fan of anything to do with the Legend of Sleepy Hollow, I enjoyed the paranormal element, and hope to see more of it in the final installment. I absolutely loved this book and am happy that Abbey is figuring things out. 
All in all, a spectacular read. Based on this book alone, I would have to say that I would buy the full trilogy, and add it to my re-read shelf. Fans of the first book will love this installment. Those who didn't enjoy the first book should give Verday a second chance as this book was exceptional. It is slow to start, but the payoff is worth the wait. 

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Kindle Giveaway Blog Tour

Author Scott Nicholson and Amazon are giving away two Kindles as part of his fall book blog tour from September through November, including a stop here on Oct. 7. A Kindle DX will be given away through the participating blogs, and a Kindle 3 will be given away through the tour newsletter. A Pandora's Box of free ebooks will be given away through Nicholson's "hauntedcomputer" Twitter account. No purchase necessary, and the contest is international.

“The rising popularity of the Kindle has coincided with Act II of my career,” Nicholson said. “I love the stories I hear about how the Kindle has expanded people’s reading habits, helped those with vision impairment, and made books easier to find. I also want to celebrate the bloggers who spread the word about good books.”

Nicholson is author 12 novels and three story collections, as well as four comics series and six screenplays. His paranormal thrillers "The Red Church," "Drummer Boy" and "Speed Dating with the Dead" have all hit #1 in the Kindle "Ghosts" category.

As a bonus, if Nicholson hits the Top 100 in the U.S. or U.K. Kindle Store during the tour between Sept. 1 and Nov. 30, he will give away an extra Kindle 3 through the blogs. Sign up for the newsletter at scottsinnercircle-subscribe@yahoogroups.com to get daily links to the participating blogs. Winners will be selected at the Watauga County (NC) Public Library in December. Co-sponsored by Kindle Nation Daily and Dellaster Design. Details at www.hauntedcomputer.com.

In My Mailbox -33-

In My Mailbox is hosted by Kristi over at The Story Siren every Sunday. In My Mailbox is a weekly meme that lets everyone see what books you have received or bought that week.
For Review
1. The Replacement - Brenna Yovanoff
2. Matched - Ally Condie
3. Extraordinary - Nancy Werlin
4. The Lighter Side of Life and Death - C.K. Kelly Martin

Many thanks goes to Vimala from Penguin Canada, and C.K. Kelly Martin (as well as Kari from The Teen Book Scene) for the books I received for review this week.

1. Eternal Kiss of Darkness - Jeaniene Frost
2. Kisses from Hell - Kristen Cast et al.
3. Radiance - Alyson Noel
4. Catching Fire - Suzanne Collins

I know! I broke my ban.... oops! ;)

Contests and News

The giveaway for Ondine by Ebony McKenna is still up and running until September 3rd. You can find it here.

I was contacted by Carrie from Online Colleges about an article that some might find interesting. It is titled 15 Famous Authors With Surprising College Majors. You can find the article here.

That's what I received in my mailbox this week, what did you get in yours?

Happy reading! :)

The Thousand - Kevin Guilfoile

Kevin Guilfoile's riveting follow-up to Cast of Shadows ("spellbinding"--Chicago Tribune, "a masterpiece of intelligent plotting"--Salon) centers on an extraordinary young woman's race to find her father's killer and to free herself from the cross fire of a centuries-old civil war in which she has unknowingly become ensnared. 
In 530 B.C., a mysterious ship appeared off the rainy shores of Croton, in what is now Italy. After three days the skies finally cleared and a man disembarked to address the curious and frightened crowd that had gathered along the wet sands. He called himself Pythagoras. Exactly what he said that day is unknown, but a thousand men and women abandoned their lives and families to follow him. They became a community. A school. A cult dedicated to the search for a mathematical theory of everything. Although Pythagoras would die years later, following a bloody purge, his disciples would influence Western philosophy, science, and mathematics for all time. 
Chicago, the present day. Canada Gold, a girl both gifted and burdened by uncanny mental abilities, is putting her skills to questionable use in the casinos and courthouses of Las Vegas when she finds herself drawn back to the city in which her father, the renowned composer Solomon Gold, was killed while composing his magnum opus. Beautiful, brilliant, troubled, Canada has never heard of the Thousand, a clandestine group of powerful individuals safeguarding and exploiting the secret teachings of Pythagoras. But as she struggles to understand her father's unsolved murder, she finds herself caught in the violence erupting between members of the fractured ancient cult while she is relentlessly pursued by those who want to use her, those who want to kill her, and the one person who wants to save her. 
In an irresistibly ambitious novel that fuses historical fact with contemporary suspense, Kevin Guilfoile delivers an erudite, propulsively entertaining thriller that seamlessly traverses the realms of math, science, music, and philosophy. The Thousand is ringing confirmation of Guilfoile's enormous talent.

Title: The Thousand
Genre: Adult Fiction, Mystery, Suspense, Thriller
Publisher: Alfred A. Knopf
Publication Date: August 24, 2010
Source: Received from publicist. Many thanks goes to Dana from Kaye Publicity for sending me this book for review. I received this book free of charge in exchange for an honest review. 
My Rating: 4/5

Canada Gold has spent the last several years working in the casinos and the courthouses of Las Vegas. She returns to the city where her father had been murdered and she is swept up in the violence and scheming of a secretive organization. She is nothing but a puppet for the organization and is in a race against time to find her father's killer, and to save her own life. With everything at stake, she must decide who to trust, who is out to kill her, and who is willing to use her capabilities for their own gain. 
Canada has had a tough life. Her father was murdered, and her mother left her, leaving her all alone. She is a character that I felt empathy for. She has no one, except for a few close friends. She is definitely a character that I can relate to. 
The Thousand, is an organization that has been around for centuries. They are a secretive group  searching for mathematical theory in everything--philosophy, music, art, and science. They are an elitist group divided, at war with themselves with Canada sitting unwittingly in the line of fire. 
This book had an excellent blend of history, philosophy, science, music, and art without detracting from the suspense and mystery. The characters were memorable, and the tension was palpable throughout the novel. The plot was intricate in detail, and fast paced in execution. I was drawn in almost immediately and enjoyed the many dimensions of the book. It was a thoroughly engaging read which captured, and maintained my attention. 
All in all, a phenomenal book which marries history, math, science, music, art, and suspense together for a thought provoking, detailed, and well executed read. I would definitely recommend this book to fans of Dan Brown's work, as well as James Rollins. Guilfoile is an author to watch.  

Friday, August 27, 2010

Shadow Hills E-book Release

Hi everyone! I hope you're all having a great summer vacation. I know I'm sad to see summer come to an end, but I'm also really excited about it because fall is my favourite time of year. This fall particularly, has a lot of good books being released. Among them is the Ebook release of Shadow Hills by Anastasia Hopcus. This book has garnered a LOT of interest, and it sounds like an excellent, amazing, superb read. (You get the picture.) ;) I don't have a copy of it yet, but my good friend Kari is going to Anastasia's book signing in Austin, Texas this weekend, and she is picking up a copy and getting it signed for me. I'm pretty happy about that! (Thank you Kari!! You are awesome!) I don't have an e-reader (yet), so I can't benefit from this edition, but those of you who have e-readers, or have been wanting to read this book, and for whatever reason haven't had a chance to, can pick it up now. It released this past week, August 24th to be precise. It is available at both Barnes and Nobles, and on Amazon (the Kindle edition). If you are in the Austin area this weekend, go say hi to Anastasia! (Phoebe Kitanidis will also be there, so hey, double incentive to go and check out some awesome authors, and awesome books!) You can find the book signing and location details here.

Regardless, if you have an e-reader, and haven't yet picked up Shadow Hills, why not grab the e-book version of it? Treat yourself to a "last hurrah" of summer, eh? You deserve it! :) 

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Spider Bones - Kathy Reichs

John Lowery was declared dead in 1968--the victim of a Huey crash in Vietnam, his body buried long ago in North Carolina. Four decades later, Temperance Brennan is called to the scene of a drowning in Hemmingford, Quebec. The victim appears to have died while in the midst of a bizarre sexual practice. The corpse is later identified as John Lowery. But how could Lowery have died twice, and how did an American soldier end up in Canada? 
Tempe sets off for the answer, exhuming Lowery's grave in North Carolina and taking the remains to Hawaii for reanalysis--to the headquarters of JPAC, the U.S. military's Joint POW/MIA Accounting Command, which strives to recover Americans who have died in past conflicts. In Hawaii, Tempe is joined by her colleague and ex-lover Detective Andrew Ryan (how "ex" is he?) and by her daughter, who is recovering from her own tragic loss. Soon another set of remains is located, with Lowery's dog tags tangled among them. Three bodies--all identified as Lowery.
And then Tempe is contacted by Hadley Perry, Honolulu's flamboyant medical examiner, who needs help identifying the remains of an adolescent boy found offshore. Was he the victim of a shark attack? Or something much more sinister?
A complex and riveting tale of deceit and murder unfolds in this, the thirteenth thrilling novel in Reichs's "cleverly plotted and expertly maintained series" (The New York Times Book Review). With the smash hit Bones now in its fifth season and in full syndication--and her most recent novel, 206 Bones, an instant New York Times bestseller--Kathy Reichs is at the top of her game. 

Title: Spider Bones
Author: Kathy Reichs
Genre: Adult Fiction, Mystery, Thriller
Publisher: Scribner
Publication Date: August 24, 2010
Source: Received from publicist. Many thanks goes to Loretta from Simon & Schuster for sending me this book for review. I received this book free of charge in exchange for an honest review. 
My Rating: 5/5

Temperance Brennan returns in this, the thirteenth and latest, installment by renowned author Kathy Reichs. She needs to unravel the mystery surrounding three bodies, all having been identified as the same man. The cases have her starting out in Quebec, then heading out to North Carolina, and finally ending up in Hawaii. She is joined by her daughter, and by her colleague, Detective Andrew Ryan in Hawaii. The mystery deepens further while there, but Temperance will have to get to the bottom of things if she is going to find out the identities of these three men. 
I love the show Bones, but I have to say that Reichs' books are absolutely my favourite of the two. I impatiently wait each year for Reichs' newest book, and this one does not disappoint. Tempe is thrown into the mix immediately. What seems to be an easy open and shut case ends up turning into an intricately woven web of deceit. Just when she thinks she's got things figured out, another layer presents itself. Reichs has done it again, she has created a masterful, and spellbinding book that you'll be hesitant to put down. 
The relationship between Brennan and Detective Ryan plays well throughout the novel, and certainly adds dimension to the book. The secondary characters also add some familiarity and intense interaction which makes the read move along at a faster pace. The plot was intricate in detail and design. It was a true thriller and "whodunit". I'm almost sad that I finished the book as quickly as I did, but I eagerly await Reichs' next novel just the same. 
All in all, an excellent addition to the Temperance Brennan collection. Fans of Reichs' novels will love this installment, and those who love the show Bones should give this one a read as it'll add to the whole Brennan experience. It'll take you on an exhilarating ride, and leave you breathless wanting more. I also have to say that this cover is absolutely stunning. I love it; almost as much as I love the book.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

City of Bones - Cassandra Clare

When Clary Fray heads out to the Pandemonium Club in New York City, she hardly expects to witness a murder. Much less a murder committed by three teenagers covered with odd markings. This is Clary's first meeting with the Shadowhunters, warriors dedicated to ridding the earth of demons--and keeping the odd werewolves and vampires in line. It's also her first meeting with gorgeous, golden-haired Jace. Within twenty-four hours Clary is pulled into Jace's world with a vengeance, when her mother disappears and Clary herself is attacked by a demon. But why would demons be interested in an ordinary mundane like Clary? And how did she suddenly get the Sight? The Shadowhunters would like to know. . . . 

Title: City of Bones (The Mortal Instruments Book #1)
Genre: Young Adult, Urban Fantasy
Publisher: Simon Pulse
Publication Date: March 27, 2007
Source: Own. 
My Rating: 4/5

Life takes a turn for the unexpected when Clary Fray happens to witness a murder at the Pandemonium Club in New York. Things become more bizarre when she realizes that she alone can see the teenagers who are committing said murder. They haven't been witnessed by mundanes before, so they are very curious as to why Clary can see them. Things continue to spiral out of her control when her mother disappears, and Clary is attacked by something not of this world. Certainly someone will be able to figure out what is going on.
City of Bones ratchets up the action within the first few pages, and doesn't let up. The plot was engaging, fast-paced, and intriguing. The only complaint I had with the book was that I found the description to be a bit heavy-handed. Otherwise, the book was excellent. I loved the storyline. I loved seeing how the characters handled the situations they were dealt. This book had a few twists that I didn't see coming, but they made it all the more complex. 
Clary was a character I quite liked, but at times I found myself rolling my eyes at her antics. She does show some growth throughout the book, and I can't wait to see how she's going to evolve next. 
Jace was a mysterious character. He seemed aloof, superior, and conceited until we learn some of his history. He then is given more depth, and dimension. I thoroughly enjoyed his relationship, or lack thereof with Simon. The scenes with both characters in them brought a lot of humour to the book. I enjoyed the witty repartee between the main characters, and can't wait to see if some of the side characters become more prominent as the storyline continues.
All in all, an excellent start to what should be an epic series. The book is action-packed, and doesn't let up until its stunning conclusion. I can't wait to see what is going to happen next in this world!

Saturday, August 21, 2010

In My Mailbox -32-

In My Mailbox is hosted by Kristi over at The Story Siren every Sunday. In My Mailbox is a weekly meme that lets everyone see what books you have received or bought that week.

For Review
1. Pegasus - Robin McKinley. Many thanks to Vimala from Penguin Canada for sending me this title for review!
2. Nightshade - Andrea Cremer. Many thanks to Vimala from Penguin Canada, for also sending this title for review.
3. Pretty Little Things - Jilliane Hoffman. Many thanks goes to Anna from FSB Media for sending this title for review. 
4. Pies & Prejudice - Heather Vogel Frederick. Many thanks goes to Kelsey for setting up the tour for this title, as well as Heather Vogel Frederick and Bernadette from Simon & Schuster (US) for sending me this title for review. 

1. The Night My Sister Went Missing - Carol Plum-Ucci

Okay, so I broke down. I only bought one book though, so the ban is still in full force. I can't wait for September, when I'll lift the ban (temporarily) because it'll be my birthday, so any books I buy will be my birthday present to me. Here's hoping I don't go overboard! Oh, and I may have a birthday contest for you guys too at that time. ;) Keep your eye out for that!

Speaking of contests... I currently have one running for Ebony McKenna's Ondine. Be sure to check out her interview, and enter the contest. It ends September 3rd and is open only to those in the US and Canada. (Sorry to those of you who are international.)

That's what I received in my mailbox this week, what did you get in yours? 

Happy reading!

Past Midnight - Mara Purnhagen

Let me set the record straight. My name is Charlotte Silver and I'm not one of those paranormal-obsessed freaks you see on TV…no, those would be my parents, who have their own ghost-hunting reality show. And while I'm usually roped into the behind-the-scenes work, it turns out that I haven't gone unnoticed. Something happened on my parents' research trip in Charleston—and now I'm being stalked by some truly frightening other beings. Trying to fit into a new school and keeping my parents' creepy occupation a secret from my friends—and potential boyfriends—is hard enough without having angry spirits whispering in my ear. All I ever wanted was to be normal, but with ghosts of my past and present colliding, now I just want to make it out of high school alive….
(Synopsis taken from goodreads.)

Title: Past Midnight
Genre: Young Adult, Paranormal
Publisher: Harlequin Teen
Publication Date: September 1, 2010
Source: Received through netgalley. I received this galley free of charge in exchange for an honest review. Many thanks to Harlequin Teen for sending me this copy for review. 
My Rating: 4/5

Charlotte is just your typical, normal, everyday girl. That is, until you find out that her parents happen to have their own ghost-hunting "reality" show. When she moves to a new town, and to a new school, Charlotte thinks that she can keep her parents' lifestyle under wraps. She is juggling both school, and her home life quite well; until one day, something eerie happens to follow her home. 
Charlotte is a relatable character. She just wants to lead a normal life, without the added complication of "celebrity status". She wants to have friends, go to parties, and just be a normal teenager; instead of staying in one place only long enough to finish a semester of school before her parents decide to relocate again. I could easily sympathize with her, and felt that she was a believable character. 
The plot line was equally interesting as I haven't read many books about debunking ghosts. Actually, this might be the only one that I have read which tackles the topic of ghosts in this way. Regardless, it was a good, fast read, and I certainly can't wait for the next book in this series to come out. I didn't find it overly "spooky", though others who have read and reviewed it have found it made them relatively uneasy. 
All in all, this is a quick and easy read. I enjoyed it, and found that the premise was unique, and therefore made it all the more interesting. I'm sure many will enjoy it, and want to carry on with the series as it progresses. 

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Blog Tour: Ondine - Ebony McKenna - Author Interview & Giveaway

Hello everyone, welcome to day two of the Ondine blog tour! The tour stops are all listed at The Teen Book Scene. The tour is stopping over at Brent's blog, The Naughty Book Kitties, next, so don't hesitate to check out his posts. :) 
I had a lot of fun cooking up questions for Ebony, and I absolutely loved her responses. I can't stress enough how awesome Ondine is, and I hope you all enjoy the interview! Giveaway "rules" and information will be placed below the interview. Thank you, Ebony, for being here today! :)

LFWWhat is your favourite line from Ondine?
EM: Oh! Don't make me choose! *grins* My favourite scene is where Ondine and Hamish kiss properly for the first time. I'd had the idea early on and writing the book was a case of building properly towards that scene and giving the reader a satisfying payoff (before things go horrible again).
But I think my favourite line is a footnote, early on in the book. The reason it's my favourite is not because it's the funniest, but because it was a turning point for me. I never intended to write a novel with footnotes, but when I put this line in, just as a joke for me, it set something off in my brain. It made me think I was on to something.

Hamish says: ‘I’m nae rodent, ye bampot', Which lead to me putting in footnote 5:

"Silly person. Daftie. Gets low grades at school and later in life rarely
earns more than minimum wage."

LFW: If you had to choose between breaking a spell on Hamish the ferret, or keeping him as a pet ferret, what would you do, and why?
EM: That's a no-brainer! Hamish as a man in a heartbeat! I mean, he is very usefull as a ferret, but he's altogether more fabulous when he's human. Why? Because I live vicariously through Ondine and she needs him. It wouldn't be fair to break her heart, would it? Plus, he charms all the patrons in the restaurant and earns loads of tips!

LFW: What would the front page headline of a newspaper say about you?
EM: Oh dear! *laughs uncontrollably* Only bad news ends up on the front, doesn't it?
OK, entering fantasy land, it would be awesome to have a front page headline saying:
McKenna wins readers' choice award, spends it on chocolate.

LFW: Was there any specific music that helped you while you were writing? If so, do you have a playlist?
EM: I've been writing for about 13 years (and before that I was a journalist) and I usually had the news radio on or played music while I wrote. I adore Crowded House and Paul Kelly. They were perfect when I wrote science fiction. Love songs are always fabulous when I'm writing romances.

When it came to writing Ondine, I didn't have any music playing. Perhaps because I didn't want any distractions? The characters were so strong in my mind, sometimes I had to race to keep up with them.

There are some songs that make me think of Ondine and Hamish, though. I am a massive fan of the Eurovision Song Contest and the winner last year was a lad with a song called "Fairytale". It is a gorgeous song and made me think it could be Ondine and Hamish's theme song.

I loved this year's winner too - another song about love from Germany. 

Plus, the Kelly Clarkson song where she's crying her heart out and asking 'is it over yet'. That song is perfect for when things get really, really bad in book three. (I'm writing that at the moment. Poor Ondine!)

The song from Cyprus this year, 'Things will be better in spring' also had me thinking about Ondine and Hamish. :-) The singer is a bit cute as well!

LFW: If you had a spell put on you, which animal would you want to be turned into, and why?
EM: These questions are awesome! My first answer would be a domestic cat, because they're lazy and get whatever they want. But they don't live long enough. So I should be an elephant because they live for decades - but it would be hard to type with those big feet! And elephants are pregnant for two years! (Not that I'm having any more babies. But, urgh, two years!)

Hmmm, I'd need to be an animal with at least fingers (if not opposable thumbs - despite being a girl, I'm very good at getting lids off jars!) I could be a cockatoo and type with my beak! They live for decades, they can talk, and they're entertaining! Yes, I'd be a cockatoo.

If someone put a spell on me, the choice wouldn't be mine, though, would it? They'd probably turn me into a ferret to give me a taste of my own medicine.

I absolutely love your answers, Ebony! Thank you for taking the time to answer the questions, and for making this interview process so much fun! I hope things don't get too bad for Ondine and Hamish later on. (I hope things work out eventually!) I think I'm in love with all of the songs too, and agree that "Fairytale" should be their theme song! You have no idea how many times I play these songs, over, and over, and over again... but you get the point. ;) For those of you who haven't read Ondine yet, you need to! Otherwise, you are missing out! 

Giveaway  "Rules"

Ebony has graciously provided a copy of Ondine: The Summer of Shambles for me to give away. Thank you Ebony!

1. Contest is open to residents of the US and Canada only. (Sorry for those who are international!) :(
2. Contest will end September 3, 2010. Contest has ENDED. Thank you to those who participated!
3. Comment on this post to enter. Please leave an email address where I can contact you if you win. 
4. There are no extra entries. Your comment is your entry. Thank you! :) 

Monday, August 16, 2010

Ondine: The Summer of Shambles - Ebony McKenna - (Blog Tour Review)

This is a brilliantly witty story with a furry tail ending. One girl. One boy. One spell to be broken. Ondine de Groot is a normal fifteen-year-old who lives with her family in the European country of Brugel. She has a pet ferret called Shambles. But Shambles is no ordinary ferret...He's Hamish McPhee, a boy cursed by a witch. A witch who happens to be related to Ondine. When Shambles turns back into Hamish temporarily, Ondine knows that she has to help him break the spell. He is the most gorgeous boy she has ever met and her one true love! He just can't remain a ferret forever. Can he?
(Synopsis taken from goodreads.)

Title: Ondine: The Summer of Shambles
Genre: Young Adult
Publisher: Egmont
Publication Date: April 5, 2010
Source: Received from author. Many thanks goes to Ebony McKenna for sending me this book for review. I received this book free of charge in exchange for an honest review. Kelsey from The Teen Book Scene also deserves my thanks for setting up the tour for Ondine; in that regard, thank you Kelsey!
My Rating: 5/5

Ondine de Groot is a normal girl, residing in Brugel. She has adopted a ferret named Shambles, and is surprised to learn that he talks. She is further surprised when she learns that he was once a young man, and that a witch, related to her, had cursed him to spend his life as a ferret. She sets out to break the spell on him, but can she do it, or is he doomed to spend eternity as a ferret? 
I absolutely loved this book. I found both Ondine and Shambles engaging, I loved their banter, and found myself immersed fully in their world. Shambles is a cheeky ferret, and it's quite easy to  see how he got into trouble in the first place. His Scottish accent makes him all the more endearing, and his phrases will have you giggling in no time. I absolutely loved, and have never seen before in a fiction novel, the footnotes. They explained certain phrases, so we could follow along easily. Most of the time, the footnotes were tongue in cheek, and the explanations were just as funny as the original phrasing. 
Somewhere along the way, I fell in love with the characters; and enjoyed getting to know Ondine's full family, as well as Shambles, and Ondine herself. Her parents, and siblings, as well as their respective partners kick up the action, and they keep Ondine on her toes. Things are quite lively, and I found the book refreshing. I cannot wait for the next installment in this series. I'm rooting for Shambles/Hamish and Ondine, and can't wait to see where McKenna takes them next. If this book is any indication, we are in for a treat. 
All in all, McKenna's humour adds another dimension to the book, and leaves us begging for more. An excellent debut novel; one, that I think we should all read. It is a lighthearted, and vibrant read that will burrow itself into your heart. This is one book that I know I will be re-reading in the future. It is a feel-good tale that kept me involved, and guessing what would happen next. The next book isn't out until February 2011. February cannot come soon enough. 

You can follow along with the tour over at The Teen Book Scene's Tour Page. Please check back tomorrow, as I will have an interview as well as a giveaway of Ondine posted! 

Fall Release Contest Winners...

Hey all, thank you so much to everyone who entered the fall release six title contest. Kari, Sandy and I enjoyed hosting this contest, and thank each and every one of you for entering, and promoting the contest through the blogosphere. You are awesome!

The winners are:

1. Marg K. - Personal Demons
2. Pam Kinsey - The Replacement
3. Lana Scholtz - Matched
4. Ashley @ Ashley's Bookshelf - Firelight
5. Amanda Baird - Beautiful Darkness
6. Bethie - Torment

Swag Winners:

Rachelle Hayes
Cynthia A

Congratulations Ladies! We will be pre-ordering your books, so be sure to look for them around their release dates! Thank you again to everyone who entered the giveaway. Keep an eye out for some more giveaways as I know I have another one kicking off this week, and have a few more in the works. 

Sizzling Sixteen - Janet Evanovich

Trenton, New Jersey, bounty hunter Stephanie Plum has inherited a "lucky" bottle from her Uncle Pip. Problem is, Uncle Pip didn't specify if the bottle brought good luck or bad luck...

Vinnie, of Vincent Plum Bail Bonds, has run up a gambling debt of $786,000 with mobster Bobby Sunflower and is being held until the cash can be produced. Nobody else will pay to get Vinnie back, leaving it up to Stephanie, office manager Connie, and file clerk Lula to raise the money if they want to save their jobs. 

Being in the business of tracking down people, Stephanie, Connie, and Lula have an advantage in finding Vinnie. If they can rescue him, it will buy them some time to raise the catch.

Finding a safe place to hide Vinnie turns out to be harder than raising $786,000. Vinnie's messing up local stoner Walter "Moon Man" Dunphy's vibe, running up pay-per-view porn charges in security expert Ranger's apartment, and making Stephanie question genetics.

Between a bonds office yard sale that has the entire Burg turning out, Mooner's Hobbit-Con charity event, and Uncle Pip's lucky bottle, they just might raise enough money to save Vinnie and the business from ruin. 

Saving Vincent Plum Bail Bonds means Stephanie can keep being a bounty hunter. In Trenton, this involves hunting down a man wanted for polygamy, a Turnpike toilet paper bandit, and a drug dealer with a pet alligator named Mr. Jingles.

The job of bounty hunter comes with perks in the guise of Trenton's hottest cop, Joe Morelli, and the dark and dangerous security expert, Ranger. With any luck at all, Uncle Pip's lucky bottle will have Stephanie getting lucky--the only question is. . . with whom?

Sizzling Sixteen. . . so hot, the pages might spontaneously combust! 

Title: Sizzling Sixteen
Genre: Adult Fiction
Publisher: St. Martin's Press
Publication Date: June 22, 2010
Source: Borrowed from library.
My Rating: 3/5

Stephanie Plum is back again, and this time, she needs to rescue her cousin, Vinnie, before things end badly. He has accrued a gambling debt and is being held in lieu of the money. If Stephanie wants to keep her job, and her cousin alive; she needs to come up with the money, fast. She still has a job to do, and with Vinnie missing, her hands are full. Luckily, she has Ranger and Morelli to rely on for help.
This is the sixteenth installment in the Stephanie Plum series, and like it's predecessors, it does have several laugh out loud moments. Stephanie still gets into some pretty crazy predicaments, and Ranger is more often than not, running to her aid. It is a light-hearted, fun read, but Stephanie still hasn't decided what to do with her life, or whether or not she wants to be with Morelli or Ranger. Things just seem to be in stasis. Stephanie's character isn't progressing at all. I wish she'd choose one man, or the other, just to make a choice. I did find that the storyline was better in this book though when compared to some of the previous installments in the series. 
Overall it was a lighthearted, fun, and engaging read with many humourous moments, however it doesn't live up to the first books in the series. It is definitely worth a read, though long time fans of either Ranger or Morelli will probably not be impressed with Stephanie's continued indecisiveness.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

In My Mailbox -31-

In My Mailbox is hosted by Kristi over at The Story Siren every Sunday. In My Mailbox is a weekly meme that lets everyone see what books you have received or bought that week.

For Review

1. Second Hand Heart - Catherine Ryan Hyde. Many thanks goes to Catherine Ryan Hyde, and The Teen Book Scene for this book for review.
2. The Haunted - Jessica Verday. Many thanks goes to Loretta from Simon & Schuster for this book for review.
3. Scar Tissue - Marcus Sakey. (Not pictured.) Many thanks goes to Dana from Kaye Publicity for this book for review.


1. The Eternal Ones - Kirsten Miller. I won this book through the Penguin Group (Canada) Young Readers page on Facebook. Many thanks goes to Vimala for sending this book to me! 


None! Surprisingly, I am being really good with my self-imposed book buying ban. I told myself that I wasn't allowed to buy any books until the end of August. I have some books pre-ordered for then. So here's hoping I can stick to the ban! I have entirely way too much to read now as is, without adding more to the pile! 

I was hoping to post this last night, so I do apologize in advance for the flurry of activity you may see here later today on the blog. Duane and I took my mom, on what was supposed to be a short excursion, to buy a laptop. We felt like we were participating in The Amazing Race as we ended up having to go to 3 different stores to pick up different parts. Apparently, it was hard to find this specific laptop in stock, and when we did, we were sent to another store to pick up the free mouse that came with it. Overall it was a long drawn out process that ended with us finally making it home at 8:39pm. We started this endeavor at 4:30pm. Duane ended up setting up the computer for my mom as well, as the employees were stating that they would need to keep the computer for 24 hours. He is excellent with computers, so he saved my mom the trouble of having to go back and repeat this process with the company. 

Anyway, that's what I received in my mailbox, what did you get in yours?

Happy reading! :) 

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Amy & Roger's Epic Detour - Morgan Matson

When you're on a road trip, life is all about the detours...

Amy Curry is having a terrible year. Her mother has decided to move across the country and needs Amy to get their car from California to Connecticut. There's just one small problem: Since her dad died this past spring, Amy hasn't been able to get behind the wheel. Enter Roger, the nineteen-year-old son of an old family friend, who turns out to be unexpectedly cute. . . and dealing with some baggage of his own.
Meeting new people and coming to terms with her father's death were not what Amy had planned on this trip. And traveling the Loneliest Road in America, seeing the Colorado mountains, crossing the Kansas plains, and visiting diners, dingy motels, and Graceland were definitely not on the itinerary. But as they drive, Amy finds that the people you least expected are the ones you may need the most--and that sometimes you have to get lost in order to find your way home. 

Title: Amy & Roger's Epic Detour
Genre: Young Adult
Publisher: Simon & Schuster BFYR
Publication Date: May 4, 2010
Source: Received for review from publicist. Many thanks goes to Loretta from Simon & Schuster for sending me this book for review. I received this book free of charge in exchange for an honest review.
My rating: 5/5

Amy is having a hard time dealing with her father's death. She hasn't been able to get behind the wheel since, and she ultimately blames herself for his death. Unfortunately, her mother is relocating the family to Connecticut, and needs someone to drive the car from California to their new home. Amy still isn't up to driving, and so, Roger enters the picture. Amy vaguely recognizes Roger as the kid who lived down the street many years ago. Roger's mother, and Amy's for that matter, have decided that Roger and Amy should bring the car back, together. Things get interesting when they decide to deviate from the original plan, and take a few detours of their own.
I enjoyed this book immensely. Amy is such a poignant character. I felt heartsick for her, and sympathized with her. It was truly a joy to watch her develop under Matson's firm hand. She seemed to come to life, and poured her heart out for the reader to see. She seemed so real. I think Matson captured the angst, and turmoil of a teenager's heart perfectly. 
Roger was also absolutely brilliant, and he was a true gentleman. Sure, he's a guy, but he happens to be one of the good ones. He and Amy both seemed to complement each other beautifully. It was captivating to watch their personalities unfold, and see how they meshed, as they had been almost complete strangers before they embarked on the road trip. 
Matson weaves together bittersweet emotions, sorrow, hope, and a sense of finding yourself within this remarkable journey. The road trip wasn't just a trip, it was also about the journey to finding oneself after adversity, to knowing who you are, and realizing that there is always hope. Things will get better, maybe not today, or tomorrow, but one day. 
I also absolutely loved the sense of adventure within this book, and thought that it, as well as the playlists offset the sad tone created, therefore making it an even more enjoyable read.
All in all, this was an incredibly heartwarming read that runs the gamut of emotions. You'll be laughing, crying, and singing along to the songs while reading this book. It truly is a detour worth taking. 

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Blog Tour: Tyger Tyger - Kersten Hamilton

I am excited to be a part of the Novel Noise blog tour for Tyger Tyger. You can follow along with the tour stops over at the Novel Noise tour page, located hereI had a chance to read and review Tyger Tyger a couple of months ago, and it has become one of my top reads of 2010. I also was able to interview Kersten after reading the book as well, and her answers do tie in to the guest post topic. If you want to learn more about Kersten and her books, her website can be found here.

What role did music play in creating this book? You've mentioned that your characters have "theme songs"; can you tell us what songs go with each character, and why are those their theme songs?

Even though my brain does not process music the way other people’s brains do (see my interview) I often listen to a song repeatedly before I sit down to work on an emotionally intense scene. Here is a peek at the songs I am using as I write book two of The Goblin Wars, In the Forests of the Night. My nieces, who have both read Tyger Tyger, suggested most of them and they are perfect.

Teagan’s song has always been “Fix You” by Coldplay because of this line: “lights will guide you home…and ignite your bones…and I will try to fix you.” That’s Teagan’s heart for the world!

Finn’s song is Teardrop, sung by Newton Faulkner, because for Finn “love is a doing word.” 

Teagan and Finn together have a song: Run by Snow Patrol:  “Light up, light up as if you have a choice…even if you cannot hear my voice.”

Abby's song is totally 4 Non Blondes, What's Up?

Aiden’s song can only be Orange Nickelodeon by the Irish Rovers, but I can’t find it on the net. I have it on vinyl. :)

As I have mentioned before, Thomas, who plays a big part In The Forests of the Night, song is Viva la Vida by Coldplay.

Finally, John Paul Wylltson and Aileen.
John Paul’s song is 100 Years by Five for Fighting.

Aileen’s song is Dante’s Prayer by Loreena McKennitt.

As you can hear, In the Forest of the Night is a *very* intense book. :) I would love to hear from your readers who have read/reviewed Tyger Tyger—what songs would you choose for each character?

Thank you so much for letting us "hear" your character's theme songs. I, for one, absolutely love "Fix You" and think it fits Teagan perfectly! I also love the other songs and think that they also fit well with the characters! I enjoyed this glimpse into their world, and hope that everyone else does too!

Sunday, August 8, 2010

The Red Queen - Philippa Gregory

The Cousins' War
Book Two

Heiress to the red rose of Lancaster, Margaret Beaufort never surrenders her belief that her house is the true ruler of England and that she has a great destiny before her. Her ambitions are disappointed when her sainted cousin Henry VI fails to recognize her as a kindred spirit, and she is even more dismayed when he sinks into madness. Her mother mocks her plans, revealing that Margaret will always be burdened with the reputation of her father, one of the most famously incompetent English commanders in France. But worst of all for Margaret is when she discovers that her mother is sending her to a loveless marriage in remote Wales.
Married to a man twice her age, quickly widowed, and a mother at only fourteen, Margaret is determined to turn her lonely life into a triumph. She sets her heart on putting her son on the throne of England regardless of the cost to herself, to England, and even to the little boy. Disregarding rival heirs and the overwhelming power of the York dynasty, she names him Henry, like the king; sends him into exile; and pledges him in marriage to her enemy Elizabeth of York's daughter. As the political tides constantly move and shift, Margaret charts her own way through another loveless marriage, treacherous alliances, and secret plots. She feigns loyalty to the usurper Richard III and even carries his wife's train at her coronation.
Widowed a second time, Margaret marries the ruthless, deceitful Thomas, Lord Stanley, and her fate stands on the knife edge of his will. Gambling her life that he will support her, she then masterminds one of the greatest rebellions of the time--all the while knowing that her son has grown to manhood, recruited an army, and now waits for his opportunity to win the greatest prize.
In a novel of conspiracy, passion, and coldhearted ambition, number one bestselling author Philippa Gregory has brought to life the story of a proud and determined woman who believes that she alone is destined, by her piety and lineage, to shape the course of history.

Title: The Red Queen
Genre: Adult Fiction, Historical Fiction
Publisher: A Touchstone Book, Published by Simon & Schuster
Publication Date: August 3, 2010
Source: Received for review from publicist. Many thanks to both Loretta and Michelle from Simon & Schuster for sending me this book for review. I received this book free of charge in exchange for an honest review.
My Rating: 4/5

Margaret Beaufort is a cold, pious, and calculating woman. She has given birth to the Lancaster heir, and knows that she will be known as the mother of the future King of England. She believes it is her destiny to bring her son, Henry to greatness. However, the York family has grasped the throne from her hands. King Henry VI has succumbed to madness, and has been locked away in the Tower. Margaret's plans for the moment have been halted. However, she never stops working towards bringing Henry closer to the throne, as rightful heir. She walks a fine line, bringing people over to her cause, yet maintaining the appearance of remaining faithfully loyal to the York family.
At first glance, Margaret has known a hard life. Her mother only sees her as a vessel to be used to bear an heir and marries her off at an exceptionally young age. She then, having fulfilled her duty, also becomes a widow. She is wrenched away from her young son after his first year, and is married off again. She at this stage in the book, is a character that I pitied. She was shipped off from one place to the next, and gained the knowledge that her mother didn't care for her. She was mocked by many as she proclaimed she had "saint's knees" from praying so much, and for having visions of Joan of Arc. As I continued reading, I found that she evolved into a very radical, and stubborn woman. The circumstances of her early years may have caused her to become more zealous, but she also grew into a disagreeable and unlikeable woman. However, she also became one of the most influential characters in this time period, as she created the rebellion that ultimately led to her son being crowned King.
I applaud Gregory's skill at weaving history with fiction. She creates a thoroughly enjoyable atmosphere with the blend of history and fiction, making the story come to life as opposed to the dryness of a textbook. I enjoyed the perspective given in this book, however, having read both The White Queen and The Red Queen, I have to say, that I found Elizabeth of York an easier character to like. Regardless, Margaret was a strong woman, and she didn't let anything get in the way of procuring the throne for her son.
All in all, this was an excellent read, and Gregory's fan are sure to love this installment in the Cousins' War. It has left me wanting to read the next book, all the more.