Blog Watch Wednesday!

Wednesday, August 31, 2011
Hey all! This one might end up being a bit on the short side as I was laid up sickly for several days. But here is what awesomeness I've culled from the internet this week.
The death of the book has been "greatly exaggerated." (The Guardian) Nice to see other pieces besides doom and gloom about the book industry. It's quite long, but very detailed and well-reasoned.

Watch this. Just click the link and do it. It involves puppies. And cuteness.

Google is a slightly menacing entity. Don't believe me? "New Facebook-style social networking is part of Google’s plan to 'own your online ID.'" Google CEO admits Google+ is giant advertising database. (Prison Planet)
The guys and gals over at another of my favorite timewasters websites ( posted an article "5 Reasons You Should Be Scared of Google" in 2010 and the corporation does indeed appear somewhat sinister. And let me tell you googling "Cracked article about evil Google corporation" made me crack up. (Cracked)

Art - with Post-its! Fun, and creative uses for the ubiquitous pads. (The Guardian)

Haven't read any steampunk and don't know where to start? This list, containing many of my personal favorites for the genre, is an excellent place to start. (Ranting Dragon)

1920's London. Video. In color. Yes, it's just as awesome as described.

Best babysitter ever? Warning: cuteness and fluffyness.

Dude. Have you seen Hot Neville? Because you really really should. (Jackson Pearce's Tumblr)

Along with that Harry Potterish link, another. A Parselmouth translator!  I definitely tested out my name (and my boyfriend's, and my best friend's, and my roomie's...)

This is why I love YA - werewolves on the Titanic! (goodreads)
Disney princesses as Vogue cover models - and my personal favorite: historically accurate attired Disney princesses.  (Flavorwire)

Shark swimming in the streets of Puerto Rico after Hurricane Irene. Crazy!

Reviews I've Posted:

Review: The City of Ember by Jeanne DuPrau

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Author: Jeanne DuPrau
Genre: young-adult, dystopia/post-apocalyptic
Series: The Books of Ember #1
Pages: 270 (paperback version)
Published: 2003
Source: bought
Rating: 3.5/5

Easy to read, easy to get sucked into irretrievably, easy to digest - The City of Ember is a pared-down examination of human nature. In a world used to deprivation, shortages and power outages, Jeanne DuPrau introduces us to a world where the last refuge for the human race is tucked away underground. Following the mysterious, and as yet, unexplained devastating calamity known only as "The Disaster", the Builders (whoever was behind the creation of the city, almost revered as deities by some Emberites) constructed a hidden hideaway to ensure the survival of the species. My first thought upon beginning this novel was that the author had created a genuinely intriguing, new idea for a teenage dystopianish novel. In a literary market seemingly inundated every week with ridiculous, new,  implausible stories, the simplicity and believability of DuPrau's ideas shine.

The book jumps off from the get-go; we are introduced both to the city and our main character in the first paragraph. It's not too much of an info-dump and the details of the city are interesting, though DuPrau occasionally veers into telling more than she shows throughout the book. There's clear evidence of forethought and planning on the part of the author - Ember sounds and feels like a true city. Every complication for living underground has been covered and covered plausibly. Faltering steadily under the dictator-like power of the avaricious Mayor, Ember itself is slowly revealed to hardly be the refuge it was conceived and constructed for. The only true dystopia-ish themes that are in the novel are because of the Mayor and his system of controlling Ember - this is really more of a post-apocalyptic tale. However, the Mayor's total control over the citizens' lives, as well as the judicial system taking his directives lends the novel its darker themes and moments.

Lina Mayfleet, our pint-size heroine, is an orphaned but feisty teenager is the driving force for much of what haoppens for the novel. And whatever could not be laid at the feet of the blonde Messenger, lies squarely with Lina's counterpart: Doon Harrow. Doon is quiet, studious and kind - when Lina is assigned a job (for three years!) she despises, he is the only person willing to trade with her. There's a nice contrast between the two kids: Lina is more of a take-charge kinda gal, with Doon more of a deep-thinker than his friend. He's a conflicted mix of temper and concern, and Lina tends to float along in her own world. The change in Lina's character from carefree-don't-worry child into a mature and caring young woman is a direct result of her interactions with Doon. In a novel where the story is dictated by the two leads, it always pays to have likable, diverse characters to satisfy the readers and these two do not disappoint. Lina and Doon create a viable, tangible friendship that is the heart of the story.

Suspenseful, and absolutely FULL of action and adventure, I can't overrecommended this simple but utterly enjoyable tale.  Well-planned, well-executed and just plain fun to read, The City of Ember more than lives up to the hype I've been hearing for eight years. The neatly-constructed revelation/cliffhanger of the last chapter ensures continued readership, and I can't wait to conclude this sweet little series.


Hey all! I know I've promised multiple reviews, and have super-seriously slacked off on commenting on all your brilliant reviews/posts but I've had a naaasty stomach flu since Thursday. If I didn't have to work (bastards!) I'd work on and post my reviews for The City of Ember by Jeanne Duprau, The People of Sparks by Jeanne Duprau, Glass Houses & Dead Girls' Dance & Midnight Alley all three by Rachel Caine.

So, after work expect at least one of those up and I'll try to get around to everyone's blogs that I have so sadl neglected.

In the meantime, look what showed up in my mailbox!

Thanks, goodreads! I can't wait to dive into this after I finish my Morganville Vampire craze.

Review: The Champion by Morgan Karpiel

Saturday, August 27, 2011
Title: The Champion
Genre: romance novel, steampunk
Series: The Fantasies of New Europa #4
Pages: 78 (pdf file)
Published: August 2011
Source: author for review
Rating: 4/5

This quickly shot to the top of this series for me. The fourth installment in this quick and easy, fun and sexy series is by far the longest (despite fluctuating page counts, The Champion had the largest word count of all four novels), and most developed addition. In addition, this most recent novel actually takes place outside the established realm of New Europa's lands and waters; instead the action takes place in the heart of the enemy's desert. Jacob Kessler, the eponymous champion, is "the wrath of the most powerful King in the known world",  King Edward XXII, is sent to the enemy's lands to assassinate the Sultan for the attack on the island of Kiris during the course of The Aviator. Discovering that all is not as it seems within the Sultanate of Ruman, Jacob is in for a hell of a surprise during the course of his all-important mission.

Unbeknownst to our hero Jacob, the dread Sultan Osman, a paranoid and hateful man, has been dead for years. Instead the part has been played cleverly by a concubine, a slave scared for her life named Nadira. One thing I like about this author so well is that she consistently places independent, strong female characters in positions of power or influence (Jia and her entire tribe from The Admiral, Gilda is the owner of a powerful corporation in The Aviator, etc.) Nadira, though very different from any character before, is an intelligent, determined and relatable protagonist. And I have to say, that was one plot twist I did not anticipate at all for this book. I rooted for Nadira the instant her backstory was revealed; she sold as a child to slavers from the open desert but refused to lose her spirit and fire. Nadira does not encompass many of the ideals one would expect from "an enemy" of New Europa; instead she is the most forward-thinking Sultan ever, and thus beloved by the entire kingdom. 

Jacob, though not my utmost favorite, runs Tristan Satorin a close second for my favor. Jacob's a nicely conflicted man, with a compelling and interesting history. He's clearly dangerous and capable of great violence, but it is his humanity that draws me to him as a character. The interesting paradox of an assassin paired with the sensitivity of a lover, he draws attention whenever he appears. He's willing to stand up for what he believes in and loves (to the Duke of Sutton from the Aviator, no less!) at the detriment of himself.  He's also pretty sexy - I'd have to rate his and Nadira's long-anticipated copulation and Nathan Lanchard/Gilda as having the hottest sex scenes so far this series.

The fantastic uptempo pacing, the action-packed scenes, the volatile chemistry between Jacob and Nadira all serve to keep one's eyes glued to the action, with pages flying by. There is an nice blend between the genres: it's not too steampunk-y (in fact I'd say that element of the story figured the least in this installment), and it's not too caught up in the romance and sex. I can truly appreciate the longer length; it allows for a fuller storyline and more depth/feeling for the characters involved. The setting, especially, flowers under the extra attention and truly came to life for the first time for me. I was also much more emotionally invested in the love of the two main characters; their romance was written particularly effectively and well. My favorite so far, with the happy mentions of previous players in this world (Ian Anderson has a pivotal role, as does the madcap Gilda Sinclair) I enjoyed this immensely. At only $.99 how can you pass this up?!

Additionally, Mary over at BookHounds has an AWESOME idea: Cool Blogs Haute Dogs! She was kind enough to include me and my two beasties, so head over here to check it out! Expect a review for The City of Ember later on today :)

Blog Watch Wednesday!

Wednesday, August 24, 2011
I want to live my life as awesomely as this woman did, but I'm sure I don't have that much balls. (Washington Post)

Save the words! Each year, hundred of words are simply dropped from the English language. Did you know 90% of what we write uses only 7,00 words? Do we really want to lose "historiastor" to the ages? Or "stiricide"? How will we describe a contemptible historian or the act of icicles falling from a house? THINK OF THE WORDS PEOPLE! (savethewords)

Along those lines - test out your own personal vocabulary! They do ask for some personal information at the end (age, country of residence, college level, native language, etc.) but nothing too invasive. My personal vocabulary is 42, 600 words. (Test Your Vocab)

Are you a H.P. Lovecraft fan? If you are, you're among a growing number of enthusiasts. Lovecraftian love is on the rise. (Publishers Weekly)

I WANT THIS! A book clock! How ridiculously awesome can the internet get!? It's currently out-of-stock, but it's just so neat! (Amazon)

Check out Time's 50 Best Websites of the Year! Somehow this blog missed the list (we're looking into it) but there are some truly creative sites in the list. From Get Human, a website that actually provides numbers for REAL customer service reps (instead of an automated response) for hundreds of companies. Or Kickstarter, a website that a person can pledge money to support individual projects like novels, art, etc. From the article, "A Kickstarter effort can be anything from a wristband that turns an iPod Nano into a watch — which received a record $1 million in pledges — to a map of the U.S.A. made up of frying pans. (Time)

 Have you ever seen a shaved bear? Now you have. You're welcome for the nightmares.

 Like Calvin&Hobbes? Peanuts? Fox Trot? Of course you do. Here's an online site to view beloved Sunday morning comics.
Invisibility Cloaks, 50% off! Internet/world, I love you.

Here's a very-well written post about a reader's love for books and eventually an ereader.

This is amazing. Andy Levy, you are my sarcasm hero. I cannot agree more with everything stated in this video. (YouTube)

If you've not seen this amazing video of a humpback whale being freed from multiple nets by two men. It's a bit long, but if you're a hippie envirnmental girl like me, it's more than worth it. (YouTube)

Found this JUST now, right after I posted this, but it was so awesome I had to include: author writes story to save libraries. I've never read a Karin Slaughter novel but I might have to because she's brilliant. (Huffington Post)

OH MY HOW COULD I FORGET. Anne Hathaway's alternatively awkward/awesome rapping.  (YouTube.. again)

Review's I've Posted:

Books I've bought, won, loaned this last week:


Blurb for Eon: Eon has been studying the ancient art of Dragon Magic for four years, hoping he'll be able to apprentice to one of the twelve energy dragons of good fortune. But he also has a dark secret. He is actually Eona, a sixteen-year-old girl who has been living a dangerous lie for the chance to become a Dragon-eye, the human link to an energy dragon's power. It is forbidden for females to practice the Dragon Magic and, if discovered, Eon faces a terrible death. After a dazzling sword ceremony, Eon's affinity with the twelve dragons catapults him into the treacherous world of the Imperial court, where he makes a powerful enemy, Lord Ido. As tension builds and Eon's desperate lie comes to light, readers won't be able to stop turning the pages.

 Blurb for Eona: Eon has been revealed as Eona, the first female Dragoneye in hundreds of years. Along with fellow rebels Ryko and Lady Dela, she is on the run from High Lord Sethon's army. The renegades are on a quest for the black folio, stolen by the drug-riddled Dillon; they must also find Kygo, the young Pearl Emperor, who needs Eona's power and the black folio if he is to wrest back his throne from the selfstyled "Emperor" Sethon. Through it all, Eona must come to terms with her new Dragoneye identity and power-and learn to bear the anguish of the ten dragons whose Dragoneyes were murdered. As they focus their power through her, she becomes a dangerous conduit for their plans. . . .

Eona, with its pulse-pounding drama and romance, its unforgettable fight scenes, and its surprises, is the conclusion to an epic only Alison Goodman could create.

I also grabbed the first six of Rachel Caine's The Morganville Vampires series. They were $2.50 each at my local Bookmans and there's no way I could resist.

 From the author of the popular Weather Warden series comes the debut of an exciting new series set in Morganville, Texas, where you would be well advised to avoid being out after dark.

College freshman Claire Danvers has had enough of her nightmarish dorm situation. When Claire heads off-campus, the imposing old house where she finds a room may not be much better. Her new roommates don't show many signs of life, but they'll have Claire's back when the town's deepest secrets come crawling out, hungry for fresh blood.

Claire has her share of challenges. Like being a genius in a school that favors beauty over brains; homicidal girls in her dorm, and finding out that her college town is overrun with the living dead. On the up side, she has a new boyfriend with a vampire-hunting dad. But when a local fraternity throws the Dead Girls' Dance, hell is really going to break loose.


Claire Danvers's college town may be run by vampires but a truce between the living and the dead made things relatively safe. For a while. Now people are turning up dead, a psycho is stalking her, and an ancient bloodsucker has proposed private mentoring. To what end, Claire will find out. And it's giving night school a whole new meaning.
In the town of Morganville, vampires and humans live in relative peace. Student Claire Danvers has never been convinced, though especially with the arrival of Mr. Bishop, an ancient, old-school vampire who cares nothing about harmony. What he wants from the town's living and its dead is unthinkably sinister. It's only at a formal ball, attended by vampires and their human dates, that Claire realizes the elaborately evil trap he's set for Morganville.

 The wait is over. dig into the feast...

In the town of Morganville, vampires and humans live in relative peace. Student Claire Danvers has never been convinced, though especially with the arrival of Mr. Bishop, an ancient, old-school vampire who cares nothing about harmony. What he wants from the town's living and its dead is unthinkably sinister. It's only at a formal ball, attended by vampires and their human dates, that Claire realizes the elaborately evil trap he's set for Morganville.

In the college town of Morganville, vampires and humans coexist in (relatively) bloodless harmony. Then comes Bishop, the master vampire who threatens to abolish all order, revive the forces of the evil dead, and let chaos rule. But Bishop isn’t the only threat.

Violent black cyclone clouds hover, promising a storm of devastating proportions as student Claire Danvers and her friends prepare to defend Morganville against elements both natural and unnatural.

In the small college town of Morganville, vampires and humans lived in (relative) peace-until all the rules got rewritten when the evil vampire Bishop arrived, looking for the lost book of vampire secrets. He's kept a death grip on the town ever since. Now an underground resistance is brewing, and in order to contain it, Bishop must go to even greater lengths. He vows to obliterate the town and all its inhabitants-the living and the undead. Claire Danvers and her friends are the only ones who stand in his way. But even if they defeat Bishop, will the vampires ever be content to go back to the old rules, after having such a taste of power?


Knowledge changes everything…

Hoodoo-influenced Southern Louisiana seems like the perfect place for Camille to relocate and escape her abusive past. She didn’t expect to fall in love and plummet herself into the world of Amaranth, a place of exile for reformed vampires.

Thanks to her deadly vampire ex-boyfriend, she’s confronted with decisions that not only threaten her life but the lives of her inhuman friends that she has come to love. Entangled in her friends’ quest for freedom, she dives into their realm and faces the threats of the ruler of Amaranth—the mother of all vampires—and her own inner demons.

Will she derail her life and make the ultimate sacrifice for the very monsters that interrupted her bumpy path back to sanity—the one she wanted so desperately in the first place? Or will she find a way to escape with her vampire love before it’s too late?


I'm in the middle of Morgan Karpiel's Fantasies of New Europa, then I'll probably be reading Philippa Gregory's THE LADY OF THE RIVERS for review from Simon and Schuester. Have a great rest of the week, everyone.

Review: The Aviator by Morgan Karpiel

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Title: The Aviator
Genre: romance novel, steampunk
Series: Fantasies of New Europa #3
Pages: 141 (Nook ebook)
Published: May 2011
Source: bought
Rating: 3.5/5

In my third return to Ms. Karpiel's alternate universe/steampunk world on the brink of war, I was introduced to new characters, locations and, my personal favorite, uniquely crafted and imagined steampunk machinery. At only 20,000 words and 141 pages on my Nook (though in very large type, so I am not 100% about the page length), this was fun, superfast read. Karpiel certainly excels at setting up and executing her novels; each one so far has had a different feel, with original characters and excitingly fast-paced plots. Switching POVs between main characters (and clear love interests) Nathan Lanchard and Gilda "Mad Lady Sinclair" in third person omniscient, I felt as if I was watching the events unfold as I read the pages. With an ominous (but striking and completely attention-getting) bolded sentence (27 Hours Before Attack), I knew I was in for a madcap escapade.

I had an instant liking for "Mad Lady" Sinclair. Gilda doesn't bother herself to conform to her society's Victorian thoughts and repression ideals for women. She's a colorful and very charismatic character, even if that charisma is hedged by some serious self-destructive tendencies. She's also the best dirigible pilot, a fact which utterly delighted me - usually that title goes to a man. Described as "a willful Pandora with her hand poised on man's undoing," Gilda was by far my favorite of these two conflicted people. That quote is an utterly perfect description for the whirlwind that is Gilda, especially as evidenced against her partner in business. Nathan, that same partner just mentioned and Gilda's eternal foil, was harder for me to care about; he's a very contained and withdrawn, very controlled man. Remote characters tend to put me off rather than intrigue me, so perhaps that's why I initially identified, sided, and laughed with Gilda at his bumbling. I was eventually won over by Nate's innate goodness, and by his prowess in bed. Oh whew! Take my word on it -- this book has one of the hotter sex scenes I've read this year! -- but it's definitely not for those who don't enjoy a bit of roughness in their play. Nate and Gilda have a chemistry that truly sparks - either into a heated and venomous argument or straight into bed.

Another bit I loved: the infrequent but subtle allusions to past books and characters. Tristan Satorin, dashing hero of The Admiral (and my personal favorite of the men in this series) is mentioned and plays a key, if uberminor, part in this novel offscreen, as is the Great Inventor from The Inventor.  While I eventually warmed to Nathan as a character, only Gilda will emerge as favorite of this series. The last ten pages specifically changed my opinion on the man, but it is not enough to overtake the Admiral in my books. If you're looking for a short, steampunk, fun, supersexy read, pick up The Aviator (well really The Inventor, The Admiral THEN The Aviator) and you will not be disappointed. The best part is if you want to read this erotic stempunk fantasy, ALL four novels (expect a review for The Champion soon) are under $1.00 for Nook and Kindle. That's a great deal - very little money for a whole lot of imagination, sex and creativity.

Review: Wanderlove by Kirsten Hubbard

Monday, August 22, 2011

Title: Wanderlove
Genre: young-adult. coming-of-age
Series: N/A
Pages: 345 (Nook NetGalley uncorrected ARC)
Published: expected March 2012
Source: publishers via NetGalley
Rating: 4/5

From the unforgettable characters to the lushly described scenery to the whimsical and detailed drawings (by the author herself, no less) Wanderlove is a hit. I had very few complaints and whole lot of love for this fish-out-of-water coming-of-age novel. Bria Sandoval, the main character and also someone I'd like to hang out with, is an eighteen year-old, determined, funny, artistic girl and on her own in Central America. Following a mysteriously bad and viscerally painful breakup and lack of travel commitment from her "friends", Bria solely sets out on an unexpected and revealing journey. Escaping her ex-boyfriend/her hostile home life/her unreliable friends for freedom and change, Bria is a wonderfully flawed and complex young woman. 

Bria was fun to read. She didn't annoy me with her idiosyncrasies (in fact they felt genuine and part of her intrinsically quirky personality), and she didn't act too perfect either. Though there is minimal information provided about Bria and her life, hints are slowly doled out throughout the novel, building a less than picturesque home life. I appreciate the restraint of Ms. Hubbard's slow revelation, which allowed both my curiosity and empathy for the character to build naturally. In experiences ranging from comical to hysterical to kinda gross, Bria emerges as the type of girl most young women want to be: capable, talented, smart and self-aware. Not to say that she is irritatingly perfect; the typical teenage disillusion with responsibility is obvious,  along with a quick and agile temper. Bria's flaws only serve to make her a more complete character, and I liked her all the more for her rough edges.

In her diverse travels, Bria meets up with the two most important characters of her experience down south: Rowan and Starling. From their slightly-off names to their wonderdully unique attitudes, the laid-back Ro and Star were a nice foil for the more straight-laced California girl. While their introduction to the novel's storyline and motivation for being around Bria aren't completely believable, both were dynamic, different and interesting characters. Clearly Rowan, as the tortured-by-his-past bad boy love interest was featured more prominently than his la vie boheme half-sister, but the relationship between the two struck the right chord between caring and overbearing older sibling. Rowan himself, though I liked him and found him appealing for the most part, overdoes the whole "bad guy with mysterious, off-limits past." His extended "mysterious aura" part was too withholding for my own preferences. Which is a shame, because the other aspects of the character were ones I loved (his hidden kindness, protectiveness, love for water, etc.) The whole "secret" was dragged out a bit too long, and caused my opinion of the boy to decline somewhat. I focused more on the obvious negative than the positives exhibited in the character as the novel went. I did like how the revelation about Rowan was handled - quietly, and maturely before the real problem was revealed.

The setting - or more correctly, the settings for there are several differing locales - were all popping with vibrancy and life  in Hubbard's easy-to-fall-into prose. I loved that a destination novel was not about Europe, or even Africa, but rather the neglected and ignored Central American region. Belize, Laughingbird Caye, Guatemala - all were important (and not cliche!) and different locales featured in this half-novel half-travel guide. (It's not really like a travel guide, but no other book has had me longing for a Belizean/Central American vacation like this one did!) The scenery and life of the islands/countries absolutely popped with life and color; Hubbard's history as a travel writer is apparent and wonderfully fills the novel with the genuine minutiae and attitudes of true travelers. The drawings/sketches and the settings were among the top reasons I loved this novel so much. It's an easy novel to sink into; the atmosphere is enveloping and total for the whole period of Bria's explorations.

This is well-written, interesting and unique novel. I loved most of it, want to read it again, and also fully plan to pimp it out to friends and family. My minor issues were just that -minor. This is a novel where so much is done so wonderfully, I cannot wait to read another book by this impressive author. I think that in March, when this is officially released, it will be another must-read hit along the lines of the author's Like Mandarin.

Review: Drink, Slay, Love by Sarah Beth Durst

Friday, August 19, 2011

Genre: young-adult, supernatural fiction
Series: N/A though I hope for more!
Pages: 398 (Nook ARC version)
Published: expected September 2011
Source: publishers via S&S Galley Grab
Rating: 4/5

Oh man, did I have fun with this book. A teenage girl vampire with a conscience? A vampire stabbed through the heart by a unicorn's horn to gain said conscience? Yeah - I admit I was sold by the premise alone. Far too many authors take their vampires/werewolves/superantural/paranormal creatures far too seriously, and Ms. Durst's snarkily humorous take on the monster was fresh and above all, fun. Somewhere between the characters themselves and the randomly frequent snarky/snide allusions to Twilight, I found myself having more fun with a vampire story than I have for quite a long time.

In this very complete world of Ms. Durst's, vampires are both born or made from humans. Pearl is a born vampire, meaning she's never been human, never been in the sunlight, and never had a conscience. Durst stays true to the most original interpretation of the nightwalking bloodsuckers: they're sensitive to Holy Water, repelled by garlic, flammable when exposed to the sun and they do not sparkle. Hunters in every sense of the word, Pearl's Family is a powerful clan aiming to increase their sway through the upcoming Fealty Ceremony. Since the type of vampires in this novel can be born not just made("turned" is the vocabulary here), the induction into a full-fledged vampiress is an important one; indeed, one that the powerful and bloodthirsty King of New England vampires will be present for, and observe closely. 

Pearl, the before mentioned young female vampire, within the first chapter is stabbed through the heart by a unicorn. This supposedly mythical creature's actions start to change Pearl from the typical prototype vampire. She feels emotions, guilt even, and thus is the only one of her kind to do so. By a fortuitous disaster, Pearl also learns she is the first "daywalker" of her kind: the stabbing the caused her consicence to grow also allows her where no other vampire can go. Thus the young Pearl is selected to "hunt" in the high schools in order to provide a feast for the hundreds of vampires planning to descend on her town for the Fealty Ceremony. Underneath this immense pressure, Pearl emerges as a believable teenager; one I grew warmer to (ha) the longer she remained in the sunlight. I really enjoyed Pearl and reading from her perspective: not too whiny, not too boy crazy and just the right amount of bad-ass, ass-kicking female. Pearl is by far the highlight of the novel: both my favorite character and consistently the most interesting person on the page. I want to read more stories about Pearl now.

The characters besides Pearl were also mostly enjoyable, personable and vivid. From wannabe vampire hunters cum comedic duo, Matt and Zeke could be counted on to make me snort with laughter each time they appeared. Bethany, though perhaps a bit too wide-eyed to be entirely real, was a nice counterpoint for Pearl's harsher attitude and perspective. Evan, the love interest, manages to stir up real chemistry with Pearl while maintaining an aura of mystery and keeping his distance. He remains a separate character; one not dependent on Pearl. Once again, I cannot impress upon you how HAPPY it makes me when a real relationship is charted, and matures through the novel. Pearl and Evan don't immediately "fall in love forevaa!!" nor spend three hundred pages pining for one another. It's a nice change from some YA paranormal stories.

The interesting set-up, the time-limit and unique proclivities of Pearl make the pace of this novel fly by. It's one of those books a reader picks up to peruse for a minute and is immediately lost within. It may drag on a bit long (in my opinion) after Pearl gains her conscience and before the King arrives, but that is a minor quibble. The secret "twist" about the unicorn was also a bit heavy-handed and obvious but far from the worst offender I've come across in that regard. Ms. Durst has crafted a very-well planned and thought-out alternate universe in which her characters can play; from new ideas on the prevalent-in-literature vampirism ("blood heists", "blood drunk" and of course the crucial, plot essential "Fealty Ceremony") to amusing and rarely used mythical creatures (when's the last time you read about a unicorn in fiction?) this is a novel that should be read and enjoyed by many people. I highly enjoyed this novel, and I think it will find love from a widely varied audience.
If you see it on a bookshelf in your near future, buy it, read it, love it.

Two Minute Review: Fourth Degree Freedom by Libby Heily

Title: Fourth Degree Freedom
Author: Libby Heily
Genre: novella, general fiction, fantasy/supernatural fiction
Series: N/A
Pages: 24
Published: August 2011
Rating: 4/5

This review is bit shorter than my wont, but I'm refusing to give away too much detail about these awesome stories. Read them!

A set of five entertaining, but wildly disparate short stories, Fourth Degree Freedom is a fun, short foray into the literary talents of Libby Heily. I know Libby, we're blogger friends, but I try to be unbiased with anything I review - and this delightful twenty-five page work is more than worth reading. It's short, easy and quite engrossing to read and full of imagination.

Five different stories, ranging from the dystopic-feeling The Event to the fantasyish/paranormal-esque eponymous Fourth Degree Freedom, each were entirely fresh with a unique voice and feel. All were well-written, plotted, paced; I must admit I wished for more length with She Floats and The Event because they each had so intriguing a premise. The short story The Event in which the government sanctions a hunt for the elderly people by the young is one of the more creative avenues I've seen for a dystopic idea. It's both a chilling, and an interesting novella; my favorite of the collection.

My second favorite, and a close tie for absolute favoite, was Fourth Degree Freedom. I LOVED this story, and this idea. Essentially, radiation in the atmosphere has caused "30% of births" to be stricken with some degree of monstrosity. Pepper and Leah have a son, David, a monster of the fourth degree. This was the story I contemplated most of the five; in a world full of monsters, it is the parents in this story that seem the most monstrous.

The other three I've not waxed on specifically about (Thank You for Calling, The Last Six Miles, She Floats) are all unique and different tales. From a woman struggling to find hope and a better life to a woman determined to save her own life, each successive offers a glimpse into the very creative and fun mind of the author.

The author has an additional work out - Twist, Turn and Burn - which is currently FREE! Consisting of 12 more flash fiction short stories, I more than recommend them for a short, but fun read.

Blog Watch Wednesday!

Wednesday, August 17, 2011
Jaws, done in Charles Shulz' Peanuts artwork. That whole sentence is just made of win.

Awful dates, twitterized. Check this websites tales of dating horror in 140 characters

Del Rey editor Mike Braff posted an interesting piece rant over genre fiction versus mainstream fiction.

Warren Buffett lays it out like it should be. Nonbook related, just awesome.

A new study reveals how people really feel about spoilers.

The Harry Potter novels according to Narcissa Malfoy.

Did you know, in the U.S. alone, there was  $27.9 BILLION in book related net sales revenue? And that that statistic has been decreasing the last three years?

Reviews I've posted:

Graffiti Moon by Cath Crowley

Added This Week!

Tuesday, August 16, 2011
I finally! got my precious debit card back today, so giveaway books are officially en route AND I can indulge in some Nookbook shopping! In addition to the physical books I bought and that showed up on my doorstep lately....

Laini Taylor's Lips Touch: Three Times, Lisa Mantchev's Perchance to Dream, Impossible by Nancy Werlin, Ransom Rigg's Miss Peregine's Home for Peculiar Children, and Truly, Madly by Heather Webber.

I also added Hex Hall by Rachel Hawkins and Keary Taylor's Eden on my Nook.

In honor of Georgette Heyer's 109th birthday, Sourcebooks (and B&N) is running a $1.99 special on these titles. The sale only lasts for a week, so get in there and get some! (How do I choose?! I personally already have Cotillion, Footsteps in the Dark, and A Blunt Instrument.)

Sophie Jordan's Firelight, the first of the YA dragontastic Firelight series is currently only $1.99. So, naturally that's been added to my horrible pile. It's normally far more expensive, so like the Heyer novels - get it while it lasts!

From S&S GalleyGrab I was happy to select Sarah Beth Durst's Drink, Slay, Love (which I am currently reading and LOVING), The Lady of the Rivers by Philippa Gregory (#3 in the Cousin's War series), and Fake Me a Match by Lauren Barnholdt.

That's it for now, but I will most likely break my vow and find something new to buy.

Review: Graffiti Moon by Cath Crowley

Author: Cath Crowley
Genre: young-adult, contemporary
Series: N/A
Pages: 267 (Nook version, uncorrected ARC)
Published: originally August 2010 - expected republication February 2012
Source: publishers via NetGalley
Rating: 5/5
tagline: an artist, a dreamer
a long mean night

I didn't just read Aussie author Cath Crowley's novel - I inhaled it. I read the entire two hundred sixty seven page novel in just under a three hour period; I couldn't put it down to eat, play with the dogs or even move from my desk to the reading chair. It's gripping, consuming and alive in a way very few stories are - and more should be. I want to pull huge sections from the narrative to quote - my whole review would be quotes if I were clever enough. This is, simply put, a beautiful book - beautifully written, carried, developed and ended. Graffiti Moon is a young-adult novel that transcends the genre of its origin; all ages of readers who appreciate a deftly woven, compelling read would treasure this book. It's brilliantly descriptive and full of evocative and moving imagery. This book moved me.

The story begins and ends with Lucy, a teenage girl who just wants to find something real; a boy that she can understand, one that likes what moves her in her core: art. Out of a graffiti artist known only as 'Shadow', Lucy creates her dream guy - one that is perfect for her and utterly unlike the fellow from the one date she's ever had ("I spent the weekend after our date wishing I could stab him with my Fluffy Duck pen and staring at the phone hoping he'd call. Dating is a very tricky business.") Lucy is distinctive and an incredibly relatable character; almost every part of her narrative sent a wave of remembrance or nostalgia for my own teenage years into my head. Crowley captures the feel, the urgency and frailty of teens perfectly - Lucy is vibrant, delightfully individualistic (one character asks her, "Are you doing that thing where you stare at the stars until your problems seem insignificant?"), but also vulnerable. Also, she is hilarious and just different ("'I sit down next to him and concentrate really hard. 'What are you doing?' he says. 'Trying to bend the laws of time so I can get here five minutes earlier.'") See - told you I want to quote the whole book at you. Every line is perfect, every chapter moves at just the right pace, every character nuanced and interesting.

Ed, both the unbeknownst-to-Lucy Shadow and the one she would desire to stab with a pen for the bad date, was my absolute favorite character. I loved Lucy, but Ed came alive for me as a reader. He's the secretly creative, artsy guy, hiding behind the stereotypical 'tough guy/hard case', when he's truly something much more. Being a typical teenage girl, Lucy does not see the wonderful, deep man in front of her, only seeing the hard edges and the wall around his heart. The only way Ed can express himself is through his painting ("See this, see this, see this. See me emptied onto a wall."), and boy does he. The descriptions of Ed's art were animated and alive. It's almost a compulsion Ed cannot stop; after losing Lucy, his father-figure Bert, and his mom-supporting job,  Ed has only painting as an outlet for his pain. He sees himself as a "painted ghost trapped in a jar," one of the more revealing self-portraits Ed paints. Ed's quiet but intensely personal heartbreak and desperation are in sharp contrast to Lucy's more stable life, though her need to belong draws her to Shadow.

The two main background characters, that of Lucy's best friend Jazz and Ed's cohort in crime/best friend Leo were also pleasant, if not as fully developed. Jazz was a splash of whimsy and crazy, and Leo was a more romantic exploration of the same problems as Ed. I appreciated the functional, healthy friendship depicted between the two girls (and another, Daisy). I grow very tired of the catty teen girl in fiction, and this kind of believable and genuine bond is a nice change of pace. As for Ed's best friend/occasional roommate Leo, I liked him well enough, but I must admit his (admittedly rare) poem POV's were the weakest parts of the novel. I had a favorite poem of "Poet"'s (Here, p. 242) but on the whole, I wished the POV had been limited to just Ed and Lucy. The "villain" of the novel is much reduced and serves as a mere plot point for the real story: that of looking beyond the exterior and seeing the beauty within. Since the novel takes place over a single night, the book moves at a brisk pace, but one that is extremely easy to fall into.

The final chapter is moving and beautiful - happily, without veering into saccharine territory or overt teenage melodrama. It's hopeful, without being absolutely definite and final. Lucy and Ed will go on - maybe with each other, maybe not, but hopefully together.  While the pairing off of three couples might strain my credulity, one minor gripe against the face of all the awesome --- this is a book not to be missed. Major kudos from me to Ms. Crowley - this is something special, this is a novel I'm going to love forever. I received the NetGalley eBook, but when this is republished in February I will be buying my own copy to treasure and love.

Review: The Osiris Ritual by George Mann

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Author: George Mann
Genre: steampunk, historical fiction, mystery
Series: Newbury and Hobbes Investigations #2
Pages: 319 (paperback version)
Published: September 2009
Source: bought
Rating: 3/5

The erstwhile Newbury and fiery Hobbes are back at it again in this second volume of Mann's series. Confronted with a murdered lord, two rogue agents in London and a string of missing young women from London's East End, the two have their work more than cut out for them. Though this book could be read as a standalone steampunk novel, I highly recommend reading the series in order. Set a few months after the events of The Affinity Bridge, it is a new year in London and things are not as they seem. It's now February of 1902 and with the revenant plague still terrorizing London, it is not a peaceful time.

Within the first ten pages, Newbury is sent on a mad chase after a rogue Crown agent from before his time named Ashford - a reconstructed man. While I liked that the steampunk elements Mann creates weren't exclusively limited to such thing like automatons and groundcars, I couldn't fully get behind a man so reconstructed his skeleton is completely metal. The descriptions of Ashford and his "improvements" could be a bit stomach-turning and unsettling. For a novel and series advertised as mostly steampunk, be warned thesebook can be a bit gory and bloody (especially the revenants' attack on the carriage in The Affinity Bridge). I would also like some real resolution/understanding or even a real reference to the plague in London - something that dire and drastic enduring for months with no action from the Crown?

Newbury himself continues to lose his war against laudanum and now, opium. His habit is taken to new heights (or lows) in this book, much to my chagrin. I do love a complicated, conflicted hero but Newbury was a quietly, ineffable assiduous man and I fear for what will happen to the character. The deadly addiction seems to have increased its sway over the investigator in the intervening months - perhaps this is in part due to the revelation about his assistant in the epilogue of The Affinity Bridge. Indeed, even hints of distrust and wariness now undermine and plague the formerly carefree partnership between the two main characters. Hobbes' ongoing subplot with her sister is one of the more truly compelling plots of the novel - the cause and reason of Amelia's infliction, Veronica's obvious distress over it and Amelia's hosptialization- and make for genuinely moving and saddening scenes between the sisters.

Another aspect I wasn't too keen on in this second volume is the separation of Newbury and Hobbes. For the firs tnovel, they were constantly in the thick of things as a unit; this time around they hardly share they same pages or adventures. The camaraderie and ever-so-slight romantical (I made that word up) tension between the two Londoners is the highlight of the series. By separating key players Newbury and Hobbes, eliminating most direct interaction and witty repartee, and undermining their basic relationship, Mann diminished what I loved most in his work. Another oversight I lamented throughout: Charles Bainbridge's much reduced role. Though a softer, kinder side is shown of the grizzly Inspector, this background character was so instrumental in the first one I genuinely missed his presence beside his friend. The addition of George Purefoy was one I supported however - though I wished it could've been a Georgia Purefoy. The abundant maleness of these books is prevalent and obvious.

The tone of this novel feels a bit flat, due mostly to the separation of Newbury and Hobbes - the novels work best when the two principles are working together. The atmosphere that was so enveloping in the first is sadly much diminished in the second foray of the series. The ultimate villain, also, is identified almost immediately and thus the fun of deduction and sleuthing were less than before. Though the characters of Newbury, Hobbes, Charles and Amelia were each allowed to grow and develop more in this second novel, I felt mostly let down by the final page. I will continue to read this series for the aspects I love and hope my issues with this volume are not present in the upcoming third novel of the series,  The Immortality Engine.

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