Oct 30, 2012

Top Ten Tuesday: Kick Ass Heroines I Love

Top Ten Tuesday is a meme hosted by The Broke and the Bookish. This week's topic is Kick-Ass Heroines I Love which I will admit is another tough topic for me. I tend to get into stories, settings, and writing more than I do characters. There are very few characters who resonate with me and so it was a really tough job for me to come up with ten. I was also dreading putting this post together because this was not a subject I was looking forward to. I thought about skipping this one, but this is really a meme I want to consistently participate in so I thought I would do the best I can. But just know that this post is by no means a reflection on my blog as a whole (just in case you are first time visiting). It's going to be boring this week, I think. And this post will lack passion. But here we go anyway. As always, no particular order on these choices. 

Top Ten Kick-Ass Heroines

1. Darla from Ashfall and Ashen Winter by Mike Mullin

Why: Because she is strong, fearless, and flawed. But above all, she is memorable. I have a tough time remembering characters, and I will admit I didn't exactly warm all that much to Darla in Ashfall. But in Ashen Winter, I became a huge fan of hers. She is pretty much the reason that Alex is still alive. Feel free to disagree with me, but Alex is pretty much a $*@^ up.

2. Saba from Blood Red Road and Rebel Heart by Moira Young

Why: Saba is not perfect. In fact, she makes quite a few mistakes. But she owns them. She knows when she has screwed up. She's a fighter. She fights for her friends and family even when they are treating her like crap. But Saba is flawed. She's a bit selfish, but part of the reason I love her so much is because she truly feels like a real person. She constantly has an inner battle going on and her voice is utterly realistic to me. 

3. Kami from Unspoken by Sarah Rees Brennan

Why: I am mostly a fan of Kami's humor and personality. I like her no nonsense attitude and her ability to call bullshit when she sees it. She's never afraid to speak her mind, and as a YA heroine she is an unusual one. Not a Mary Sue, not pining over a boy to unspeakable levels, and definitely not needing to be rescued by a man, she is one that stands out way more than almost any other protagonist I have read lately. Kami fits the title of bad-ass to completion. 

4. Suzume from Shadows on the Moon by Zoe Marriott

Why: To answer this one, I am just going to take a quote from the review I wrote earlier this year. "She was flawed like we all are, for one. She was beautiful, determined, and highly intelligent. She was maddening at times and I wanted to choke her for the bad decisions she was making. The thing is though, even though they were terrible decisions, I can understand her motivation and why she was making them. Her life was tragic. Some very bad things happened to her and her family, and she would not rest until she was able to get revenge on the person that did this to them--even if she had to sacrifice true love to do it."

5. Katniss from The Hunger Games, Catching Fire, and Mockingjay by Suzanne Collins

Why: Ummm...Duh? Do I really need to explain this one? Katniss' kick-assness is epic. And yes, I know that is not a word. I will admit that Katniss has the potential to get a little whiny and she's a little too much of a martyr for me, but she's still pretty much the most awesome heroine out there besides my next one. 

6. Hermoine from the Harry Potter Series

Why: Again, this is pretty self-explanatory. I'm not gonna go off on a rant about how awesome Hermione is or how I am sure she will be on almost every list this week, but I will say how much I admire her for being intelligent, nerdy (this is a good thing), and a bad-ass all at the same time. She is the heroine that makes me feel proud to be a female. And I wish all female characters were as special as her. But they aren't. Because no one writes like JK Rowling. 

7. Trella from Inside Out and Outside In by Maria V. Snyder

Why: I'll admit I haven't read Outside In yet, but it's coming up in my tbr pile and I can't wait to get to it. But that is beside the point. I only needed to read book one of this duology to know how much I love Trella. She's tough, she's a fighter, and she is never afraid to fight for what is right. She's a strong heroine but she's also introverted and perhaps that is why I related to her character so much. Of all dystopian heroines, I think I would react to my world ending a lot like Trella did. I can't wait to meet up with her again shortly. 

8. Chiyo/Sayuri from Memoirs of a Geisha by Arthur Golden

Why: Often a book that causes debate amongst my peers and I, for me, Memoirs of a Geisha is a book that truly changed my life. There are a lot of reasons for this, but the main one is because of the protagonist Sayuri. I fell for her plight completely and I have never been drawn into a book quite like I was drawn into this one. I truly felt as if I was standing next to Sayuri as she fought back against the society she was expected to conform to. I watched her grow, make decisions (good and bad), and finally change her life for the better. Her story and character resonated with me in a way that no other has since. 

9. Mac from the Fever Series by Karen Marie Moning

Why: It's hard not to like Mac. Not every reader does, but for me, I liked Mac because I was a fan of her personality, but mostly because she is fearless and unwilling to quit fighting no matter what situation she faces. Mac goes through a hell of a lot in this series, so much in fact, that most people would break down and probably end up on a funny farm. But not Mac. Never Mac. Because she is possible one of the most determined-to-succeed characters I have ever come across in fiction.

10. Yelena from the Study Series by Maria V. Snyder

Why: Another Snyder series? Are you surprised? Yelena is sneaky and she spends a lot of time in this book plotting. I love it. She is determined, passionate, and strong. She's courageous and I love how she interacts with the world around her. But mostly, I love how she loves. Her friends, her family, and Valek. Her heart is huge and no matter what she goes through, there is always there for the ones she cares for. 

Phew!! I am finished! Feel free to leave me a comment on this painful, PAINFUL blog post with links to your Top Ten Tuesday and I will try to come comment. Thank you for visiting and happy reading! Oh, and Happy Halloween tomorrow!

Oct 29, 2012

Book Review of Miss Fortune Cookie by Lauren Bjorkman

Publisher: Henry Holt
Release Date: November 13th, 2012
Pages: 274
Genre: Young Adult - Contemporary
Source: I received an ARC from the publisher.

Blurb (from Goodreads)Meet Erin. Smart student, great daughter, better friend. Secretly the mastermind behind the popular advice blog Miss Fortune Cookie. Totally unaware that her carefully constructed life is about to get crazy.It all begins when her ex-best friend sends a letter to her blog—and then acts on her advice. Erin’s efforts to undo the mess will plunge her into adventure, minor felonies, and possibly her very first romance.

What’s a likely fortune for someone no longer completely in control of her fate? Hopefully nothing like: You will become a crispy noodle in the salad of life.
Review: The main reason I requested Miss Fortune Cookie from the publisher was because I love reading books about different cultures. I also like reading contemporary novels that are not too serious. I AM glad I requested this novel and read it, but in some ways it disappointed me. 

The number one reason I was disappointed? The disjointed plot. When there was a plot. Half the time I didn't even know where the story was going or what was going to happen next. That makes it sound like a good thing but it wasn't at all. Just what was the story arc here? I have no idea. This was not a  difficult book to read so this should not have happened. But it did.

I'm going to try to give you an idea of what this book is about, but it's hard because I still am not sure what the main ideas were. Anyway... Erin runs an advice blog called "Miss Fortune Cookie." Basically people write in with questions about the problems they are having in their life and Erin answers them with fortune cookie fortunes and a little explanation. Which would have been cute if I thought Erin had any business giving people life advice but she did not. The girl hadn't even had a real relationship and wasn't even sure how to keep or manage her friendships. Plus, she was a teenager. What teenager should be giving advice to others? Ummm...not a single one?

But I digress. So Erin is giving advice to people and then some people she knows start writing in and asking questions because they have no idea that Miss Fortune Cookie is Erin but they are facing some really tough problems and could use some advice. So Erin gives it to them and I guess then her real life starts to conflict with her blogging life and she has to start straightening things out. The problem is none of this happened until really late in the book and the whole first hundred or so pages were all about Erin and her friends and all the drama in their lives, which really wasn't all that serious, and I honestly didn't care all that much. These girls pretty much meant diddly squat to me because their characterizations were flat as hell and who were they even? I don't know but none of this worked for me. *takes a breath*

Okay. So that's it. I tried to summarize most of the plot without giving spoilers, but to be completely honest it would be hard to spoil anything because nothing much happened. And yet I gave it three stars. Which I am now lowering to two because after writing my review I feel I was too generous with this one. I am so confused that I don't even know what I'm doing right now. 

Let's talk about the good things. The writing was decent! It really was. I'd read something else this author wrote, she just needs to figure out how to construct a story. I really liked the last fifty pages. Things started to come together and I even teared up a little there towards the end. Weylon was a fun love interest and the relationships in this book were healthy which is something to applaud in ya fiction these days. I liked the interaction the girls had with each other though at times I felt they were more frenemies than actual friends. I felt like Erin was the only one who was reliable and loyal. The other two girls I would have kicked to the curb long ago. Do people still say "kicked to the curb?" O_o The book was compulsively readable and the pages kept turning even though most of the time I was at a loss over everything. 

So would I recommend it? I don't know. I guess so. But only if you are looking for something fun and mindless. I was hoping this would be a great cultural YA read that I could recommend to others, but there really wasn't that much culture in it at all and that is due in part to the underdeveloped characters. So I don't know. If I could go back in time, I don't think I would read this again. There was just no point and it did nothing for me. I hope someone else has a better experience with it than I did. 

And that was clearly the most jumbled and nonsensical review I have ever written. *curtsies*

Oh and yeah. The instalove. There's that too. Wah-wah.

Oct 27, 2012

Stacking the Shelves #14

Welcome to Stacking the Shelves. Stacking the Shelves is a weekly meme hosted by Tynga at Tynga's Reviews. This is where we showcase books we have received or bought during the week.

This week I went to Books A Million and bought a ton. I generally try to avoid bookstores, because once I hold a book in my hand, it's pretty much over. But since the husband offered to take me there, I accepted. Who wouldn't? He probably didn't expect it to be this bad, but I warned him it had been a while since I bought and there were a ton of new releases I wanted. The bottom seven books in the photo are all recent releases. Also, are you all aware of the cost of books these days? There is no way in HELL I am paying 17 dollars for a 200 page hardcover. I'll get it on my Kindle, thank you very much.

Speaking of the Kindle, I bought some e-books books this week because they were on special and I am ALWAYS looking out for Kindle specials. So I have a lot to show you this week. 

I guess let's start with what I bought from top to bottom:

Sweep: Volume 1 and Sweep: Volume 2 by Cate Tiernan

Why: Mostly because of my love for Balefire. I have had my eye on this series for awhile but I always wanted to buy them together and they were never EVER in stores together. This is still not the entire series. There are three more books. But...at least I have book one and two and I can read a big chunk out of it. I really like the way this author write about witches, so this should be good.

Bliss by Lauren Myracle

Why: Because she is one of my top 5 YA authors. I don't love everything she writes. That whole TTYL series was terrible, but I do love Shine and Peace, Love, and Baby Ducks. So I thought I would take a chance. Plus, the blurb really makes me want to read it and I have had this one on my tbr for some time. 

Anything But Ordinary by Lara Avery

Why: See this book in person and tell me you don't buy it. That shade of blue. The velvet embossed cover. It's absolutely gorgeous. I know the reviews for this one are not the greatest so far, but I really wanted to read it because of the subject matter. And I DID say I would start trying to read more contemporary. And since it interests me, I picked it up since a lot of contemporary blurbs do nothing for me. 

Why: Because I gave the first book 5 stars. Which I admit now may be a bit of an overrating on my part; it's more of like a 4. But...I still really liked it. Be very afraid, Mr. Knight. My expectations are super-duper high after the awesomeness that was Wildefire and Ashline. Oh, and another velvet embossed cover!

Why: The cover is actually really pretty but that's not why I bought it. This one was all about the blurb and setting. I'll admit that the reviews for this aren't great, but nobody I trust has even reviewed it so I'm kind of throwing those reviews out the window. If I don't know you, I don't trust you. So I am hoping this one is as good as it sounds.

Why: I am always on the look out for interesting middle grade reads. This one sounds great and the cover and book spine are absolutely brilliantly rendered. And they are even more attractive in person. I'll admit the blurb only kinda grabs me, but there are also some good reviews from reviewers I trust and that definitely helped hook me into buying it. 

Lucid by Adrienne Stoltz

Why: I love purple covers. It is one of my favorite colors. But that's not why I bought this. It was all because of Blythe from Finding Bliss in Books and Giselle from Xpresso Reads. They raved about it so I grabbed it.

Why: I don't know. I saw some of the interviews the author did and she just sounds like a creative bad-ass and I really wanted to read this book. The blurb really grabs me and once again, how could I pass up a possibly fun middle grade read?

The Other Normals by Ned Vizzini

Why: I like a lot of so-called boy books. Like The Maze Runner Series, The Enemy by Charlie Higson, Insignia by S.J. Kincaid, etc. I know there are more but I am drawing a blank. This sounded like another one I might like. I actually favor male protagonists over female protagonists in my ya. It's just that so many female protags are whine this and whine that and the boys have more variation in their personality. So yeah. I liked the blurb too and that's why I bought this one. 

Now onto the e-books. There are just 3 this week. 


Mistle Child (The Undertakers #2) by Ari Berk (Thanks to the author)

Why: First of all, this is my only review book this week. I also adored the first book in the series and I think it was my favorite read of 2011. That book was just so fucking special and unique and everything I look for in my literature. I cannot WAIT to dig into this one. Soon!

Shifting by Bethany Wiggins

Why: It was the Kindle Daily Deal and it has been on my tbr for what seems like forever. That cover is awful though.

Tuesdays at the Castle by Jessica Day George

Why: Again, Kindle Daily Deal. Plus rave reviews and the fact that it sounds like a fun middle grade. I'm all in for this one.

And that is it for me this week. Phewwwww! Leave me a link and I will come visit your posts! Happy reading!

Oct 26, 2012

Book Review of Bad Taste in Boys by Carrie Harris

Publisher: Delacorte
Release Date: July 12th, 2011
Pages: 201
Genre: Young Adult, Paranormal
Source: I own a copy.

Blurb: Someone's been a very bad zombie. Kate Grable is horrified to find out that the football coach has given the team steroids. Worse yet, the steriods are having an unexpected effect, turning hot gridiron hunks into mindless flesh-eating zombies. No one is safe--not her cute crush Aaron, not her dorky brother, Jonah . . . not even Kate! She's got to find an antidote--before her entire high school ends up eating each other. So Kate, her best girlfriend, Rocky, and Aaron stage a frantic battle to save their town . . . and stay hormonally human.

Review: Bad Taste in Boys has so many rave reviews. So MANY of my friends loved it! Going into reading it, I truly thought I would be another fangirling review on the pile. Unfortunately, it was not to be. Somewhere we went wrong, and I think it was the extreme cheese-factor for which I was not able to suspend disbelief. There is a certain level of gross-out humor I can take and there is a certain level of ridiculous comedy that works for me and this book just went above and beyond what I was able to tolerate.

And it's not only that. The story was just ho-hum for me. It wasn't original and there wasn't anything that made it stand out. You have a girl that is the assistant trainer for the varsity high school football team. They are the worst team of all-time and haven't won a game in a really long time. So the coach injects them with a performance enhancing drug to make them play better. Only it has a zombie virus in it. Before you know it, the entire school is in danger of becoming zombies because we have zombie football players running around. There is a lot of vomiting, lost appendages, and it just gets really...corny. And it's up to Kate to stop it all. 

The thing that really sent this over the edge into books-I-don't-like territory was the way the zombie virus was cured. (This is not a spoiler. It was completely obvious by the halfway point that it was going to be cured.) It was completely unscientific and utterly ridiculous. And you know, that's okay if it's believable. But to me it wasn't. At all. And as a lover of science, it just was laughable to me. "But Kara! It's just fiction! Live a little!" Yeah, no. Sometimes I can do that but rarely. It's just not the way I read. Things have to be explained in a logical way for me. Usually. There was not a damn thing about this book that was logical. 

So why two stars instead of one? Well, the romance was sweet albeit cheesy. The characters were decently written even though they were a little dull. It was compulsively readable and I got through it in a few hours The writing was pretty skilled. I liked the author's style and I think I would read something else she wrote, just not book two of this series. It's going to be about werewolves, and if this book is any indication, it will be loaded with lots of spittle, flying fur, and the mange. 

Oct 25, 2012

Book Review of Relapse (Vs. Reality #2) by Blake Northcott

Publisher: Self-Published
Release Date: June 8th, 2012
Pages: 175
Genre: Fantasy, New Adult
Source: I received a copy from the author for review.

Blurb: At 8:51 am on August 26, 2011, a fifty-storey building in the north end of Manhattan exploded like an overfilled water balloon. Millions of gallons of water and fifty thousand tons of brick slammed into the surrounding streets, causing a series of tidal waves that washed away virtually everything within a one-mile radius.

The Mayor of New York City - James Kerrigan - has labelled the incident a terrorist attack, and has issued a global manhunt for two of the people he claims are responsible: Paige and Dia Davenport.

Now on the run, Cole, Jens, Brodie, Dia and Paige must fight for their lives as they try to escape the clutches of the New World Council. They travel the world piecing together The General’s end game – all while a dark secret emerges that could tear their group apart forever.

Review: So this is book two in the Vs. Reality series. If you haven't read book one, you really should do so, especially if you love superhero stories and movies like X-Men and Spiderman and the such. I, admittedly, am NOT a comic book fan, but that doesn't mean this book doesn't have something to offer for those who do not enjoy them. Because it's still a really exciting series. Now I didn't like this book as much as I liked the first one, but I still quite enjoyed it. 

One of the best things about these books are they are very fast reads. Not only are they short (about 175 pages each), but they also read very quickly because they are so action packed and full of excitement. I ran into a bit of a problem with this one because I didn't find it as exciting as the first, but I did appreciate the direction the author took the story arc in and I approve of the way the characters continued to develop. Still, if you are looking for a quick read, you can polish these off in a couple of hours. 

So if I liked it so much, why did I give it 3 stars? Well, I did give the first book 4 stars. But because I didn't like this one as much, I couldn't give it the same rating. Aside from the lack of action, I did have some small issues with the writing. 

First of all, you should know I HATE usage of the"R" word in fiction. I feel that way about a lot of words, but this one irritates me more than most. And it's a no-no. Sometimes it's passable if a character says it but then is reprimanded, but how often does that really happen? I have yet to see it. Here it was used flippantly as an insult and I am so not okay with that. That being said, I would rather it be left out altogether.

And then, there was a fair amount of head-jumping. It was definitely an intentional writing style, but it yanked me out of the narrative more than once. Also, the present tense to past tense switching got on my nerves, especially towards the beginning. Sometimes easier is better. I'm not sure if this was supposed to be third person omniscient, but it sort of felt like it was and sort of felt like it wasn't. If that is the case, I understand the head-jumping, but a narrator was never mentioned and I feel it could have been executed better. But that's just me.

The book, however, is definitely still worth reading. It's a decent self-published series and I can assuredly say that I think this author is going places. She's got a lot of skill, and with a little refinement could really write something special. If you are looking for something fast-paced, look no further. These books are full of exploding and read like the screenplay to an action movie. Well done.

Oh, and I adore GOTO. 

To purchase a copy of Relapse from Amazon.com, click here: Relapse (The Vs. Reality Series). Want to start the series but need a link to by book one? Here: Vs. Reality (The Vs. Reality Series).

Oct 23, 2012

Top Ten Tuesday: Books to Get You in the Halloween Spirit

Top Ten Tuesday is a meme hosted by The Broke and the Bookish. This week's topic is books to get you in the Halloween spirit. Fun topic! I have a full list of ten for you this week and I will also be highlighting some books I don't think I have talked about before.

When I think of Halloween, I think of ghost stories, witches, spooky cemeteries, New Orleans and other gothic cities, myths and legends, and anything else similar. I am not a fan of the gory, though I do LOVE zombie books. So you may find one or two of those in my list as well. 

In the interest of full disclosure, Halloween is my favorite holiday. At least it was when I was a kid. But now that I am an adult (and rarely drink or party), there isn't much to do. So spooky books are pretty much it for me. Oh, and my Department 56 Halloween village when I am not acting lazy and bother to put it up. Anyway, on with the list! Once again, they are in no particular order.

1. Balefire by Cate Tiernan

After seventeen-year-old Thais Allard loses her widowed father in a tragic car accident, she is forced to leave the only home she's ever known to live with a total stranger in New Orleans. New Orleans greets Thais with many secrets and mysteries, but none as unbelievable as the moment she comes face to face with the impossible — an identical twin, Clio.

Thais soon learns that she and the twin she never knew come from a family of witches, that she possesses astonishing powers, and that she, along with Clio, has a key role in Balefire, the coven she was born into. 

Fiery Clio is less than thrilled to have to share the spotlight, but the twins must learn to combine their powers in order to complete a rite that will transform their lives and the coven forever.

2. And Then There Were None by Agatha Christie

First, there were ten - a curious assortment of strangers summoned as weekend guests to a private island off the coast of Devon. Their host, an eccentric millionaire unknown to all of them, is nowhere to be found. All that the guests have in common is a wicked past they're unwilling to reveal - and a secret that will seal their fate. For each has been marked for murder. One by one they fall prey. Before the weekend is out, there will be none. And only the dead are above suspicion.

3. Death Watch by Ari Berk

They say the dead should rest in peace. Not all the dead agree.One night, Silas Umber's father Amos doesn’t come home from work. Devastated, Silas learns that his father was no mere mortician but an Undertaker, charged with bringing The Peace to the dead trapped in the Shadowlands, the states of limbo binding spirits to earth. With Amos gone, Silas and his mother have no choice but to return to Lichport, the crumbling seaside town where Silas was born, and move in with Amos’s brother, Charles.

Even as Silas eagerly explores his father’s town and its many abandoned streets and overgrown cemeteries, he grows increasingly wary of his uncle. There is something not quite right going on in Charles Umber’s ornate, museum-like house—something, Silas is sure, that is connected to his father’s disappearance. When Silas’s search leads him to his father’s old office, he comes across a powerful artifact: the Death Watch, a four hundred year old Hadean clock that allows the owner to see the dead.

Death Watch in hand, Silas begins to unearth Lichport’s secret history—and discovers that he has taken on his father’s mantle as Lichport’s Undertaker. Now, Silas must embark on a dangerous path into the Shadowlands to embrace his destiny and discover the truth about his father—no matter the cost.

4. Long Lankin by Lindsey Barraclough

In an exquisitely chilling debut novel, four children unravel the mystery of a family curse - and a ghostly creature known in folklore as Long Lankin.

When Cora and her younger sister, Mimi, are sent to stay with their elderly aunt in the isolated village of Byers Guerdon, they receive a less-than-warm welcome. Auntie Ida is eccentric and rigid, and the girls are desperate to go back to London. But what they don't know is that their aunt's life was devastated the last time two young sisters were at Guerdon Hall, and she is determined to protect her nieces from an evil that has lain hidden for years. Along with Roger and Peter, two village boys, Cora must uncover the horrifying truth that has held Bryers Guerdon in its dark grip for centuries - before it's too late for little Mimi. Riveting and intensely atmospheric, this stunning debut will hold readers in its spell long after the last page is turned.

5. Unspoken by Sarah Rees Brennan

Kami Glass loves someone she’s never met . . . a boy she’s talked to in her head ever since she was born. She wasn’t silent about her imaginary friend during her childhood, and is thus a bit of an outsider in her sleepy English town of Sorry-in-the-Vale. Still, Kami hasn’t suffered too much from not fitting in. She has a best friend, runs the school newspaper, and is only occasionally caught talking to herself. Her life is in order, just the way she likes it, despite the voice in her head.

But all that changes when the Lynburns return.

The Lynburn family has owned the spectacular and sinister manor that overlooks Sorry-in-the-Vale for centuries. The mysterious twin sisters who abandoned their ancestral home a generation ago are back, along with their teenage sons, Jared and Ash, one of whom is eerily familiar to Kami. Kami is not one to shy away from the unknown—in fact, she’s determined to find answers for all the questions Sorry-in-the-Vale is suddenly posing. Who is responsible for the bloody deeds in the depths of the woods? What is her own mother hiding? And now that her imaginary friend has become a real boy, does she still love him? Does she hate him? Can she trust him?

6. The Enemy by Charlie Higson

They'll chase you. They'll rip you open. They'll feed on you...When the sickness came, every parent, policeman, politician - every adult - fell ill. The lucky ones died. The others are crazed, confused and hungry. Only children under fourteen remain, and they're fighting to survive. Now there are rumours of a safe place to hide. And so a gang of children begin their quest across London, where all through the city - down alleyways, in deserted houses, underground - the grown-ups lie in wait. But can they make it there - alive?

Teens battle diseased grown-ups in this post-apocalyptic thriller full of unexpected twists and quick-thinking heroes.

7. The Diviners by Libba Bray

Evie O'Neill has been exiled from her boring old hometown and shipped off to the bustling streets of New York City--and she is pos-i-tute-ly thrilled. New York is the city of speakeasies, shopping, and movie palaces! Soon enough, Evie is running with glamorous Ziegfield girls and rakish pickpockets. The only catch is Evie has to live with her Uncle Will, curator of The Museum of American Folklore, Superstition, and the Occult--also known as "The Museum of the Creepy Crawlies."

When a rash of occult-based murders comes to light, Evie and her uncle are right in the thick of the investigation. And through it all, Evie has a secret: a mysterious power that could help catch the killer--if he doesn't catch her first.

8. Phantoms by Dean Koontz

They found the town silent, apparently abandoned. Then they found the first body strangely swollen and still warm. One hundred fifty were dead, 350 missing. But the terror had only begun in the tiny mountain town of Snowfield, California. AND CLOSER…
At first they thought it was the work of a maniac. Or terrorists. Or toxic contamination. Or a bizarre new disease.

But then they found the truth. And they saw it in the flesh. And it was worse than anything any of them had ever imagined…

9. Ruined by Paula Morris

A gripping YA supernatural novel set in New Orleans: TWILIGHT with a ghostly twist.

Rebecca couldn't feel more out of place in New Orleans, where she comes to spend the year while her dad is traveling. She's staying in a creepy old house with her Aunt Claudia, who reads Tarot cards for a living. And at the snooty prep school, a pack of filthy-rich girls treat Rebecca like she's invisible. Only gorgeous, unavailable Anton Grey seems to give Rebecca the time of day, but she wonders if he's got a hidden agenda. Then one night, in Lafayette Cemetery, Rebecca makes a friend. Sweet, mysterious Lisette is eager to talk to Rebecca, and to show her the nooks and crannies of the city.

10. Any Nancy Drew novels, but specifically the yellow-bound classics. These are numbered 1-64 and I want to own them all. You can get the entire set from e-bay for a reasonable price and as soon as I have room on my shelves, I will be doing just that. 

These books bring me back to my childhood and checking them out from the library, but they are also kind of spooky and just plain fun to read. 

So that's it for my Halloween list! What did you think? Are you reading anything special for Halloween? Please feel free to leave a comment and I will try to visit your post. I may actually be able to visit them this week since I am currently between jobs. Happy reading!

Oct 22, 2012

Book Review of Summer and Bird by Katherine Catmull

Publisher: Dutton Juvenile
Release Date: October 2nd, 2012
Pages: 344
Genre: Middle Grade, Fantasy
Source: I received a paper arc from the publisher.

Blurb (from Goodreads): 

An enchanting—and twisted—tale of two sisters’ quest to find their parents.
When their parents disappear in the middle of the night, young sisters Summer and Bird set off on a quest to find them. A cryptic picture message from their mother leads them to a familiar gate in the woods, but comfortable sights quickly give way to a new world entirely—Down—one inhabited by talking birds and the evil Puppeteer queen. Summer and Bird are quickly separated, and their divided hearts lead them each in a very different direction in the quest to find their parents, vanquish the Puppeteer, lead the birds back to their Green Home, and discover the identity of the true bird queen.

With breathtaking language and deliciously inventive details, Katherine Catmull has created a world unlike any other, skillfully blurring the lines between magic and reality and bringing to life a completely authentic cast of characters and creatures.


Summer and Bird was something. I loved it and hated it at the same time. That's right. It was one of THOSE books. There was an equal amount of like and dislike, and I guess I should start with the positive qualities first.

I really liked the writing style. For a first book, you would never be able to tell. I am usually a fan of books where the writing has a dreamy/whimsical style. This book had that and I really enjoyed the way the narrator told the story. Yes, Summer and Bird is written in third person omniscient point of view. And I LIKED it. I don't read a lot of books with this POV--it's not that common anyway--but the ones I have read I felt were executed well. This one is no different. The only thing I wish is that we found out some information about the narrator. Had no idea who it was. 

But make no mistake. This is a very serious book that has a lot to say, and it includes some mature themes about family, divorce, being estranged and other things like it. It's not really a happy book at all despite its writing style. The tone is a bit heavy and depressing which I have no problem with at all, I just want you to be prepared if you decide to read it. If you are looking for fun and mindless, you will not find it here. None of the material is inappropriate though, it's just a much more serious book than I expected it to be.

So there is this Bird Queen. And the other birds call her the puppeteer because she makes paper birds out of many different colors and controls them with magic, dance, and strings. She's actually an extremely talented woman, but she has wanted to be a bird and fly for so long that her heart has become corrupted. And the thing is she's not actually the Bird Queen, she just took over the position when the real queen disappeared. And now she is the dictator of birdland and all the other birds are afraid of her. She eats them so they fly inside her body and give her bird-strength until they die. This can be a very morbid book at times. 

You'll also travel along with Summer and Bird--sisters--as they try to find their parents in birdland which in the book is called "Down." You see Summer and Bird's parents disappear one night and the girls receive a picture message from their mother which they solve and somehow end up in "Down." They meet some special characters and some pretty terrifying ones, but most of all, this is about a journey of the heart and a coming of age story for both girls. 

So what didn't I like about the book? Well, there were times when it was pretty damn boring. There, I said it. I put it down enough times to the point where I realized the book was not holding my attention as it should have been. It just took so long to get from one plot point to the next. I felt like taking naps in between. I may have actually done that. I nap a lot. ;) It just wasn't an exciting book. The setting was kind of boring as well. It was this barren, snow-covered landscape and the only thing interesting in "Down" was a giant tree and the birds themselves (and there aren't that many of them that play a pivotal role). The rest of the time the characters were trudging through a field or a forest. It was just all very blah.

Lastly, I was unsatisfied with the ending AND the character development. I just didn't care about these characters as much as I should have. When they talked they all sounded the same. The only thing differentiating Summer from her sister was their physical description. Otherwise you would never know. Every character had a similar voice. They didn't get much of a backstory either. And anyone who is any kind of writer knows that characters need a backstory, flaws, and a personality to make the reader care. And in my opinion, most of that was absent. The ending was completely bittersweet and I guess it sort of had to end that way, but I still found it very frustrating and unsatisfying. I can say it does teach some useful lessons about different family dynamics though.

Still, if you are looking for a book that is beautifully written and are wanting to be presented with some fairly original and unique ideas, I think you might enjoy this one. As long as you go in expecting it not to be perfect or expecting to finish it in one sitting, you should be good. I will leave you with my favorite quote from the book.

"Winter never altogether vanishes, even in the warmest summer. You can always find it lingering, if you look." ~Quote taken from ARC copy and may have been changed. 

To purchase a copy of Summer and Bird from Amazon.com, click here: Summer and Bird.

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