Mar 31, 2013

Stacking The Shelves #12

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.

What a wild week.  Things are wrapping up for me in regards to my schooling, and I am down to the wire for school-related activities.  The next three weeks are going to be intense.  There is a silver lining to all of the added stress: Less shopping.  My bank account thanks me.  This week, I have a small book update.  No physical books, just a few Kindle books and some ARCs to grace my shelf from the high and mighty NetGalley crew.


Ashfall by Mike Mullin - I bought this because the author seemed like a very likeable person, and my feed has been in love with this book.

Let the Sky Fall by Shannon Messenger - I have wanted this one for a long time.  I'm looking forward to reading it, eventually.

Robin, Lady of Legend by R.M. ArceJaeger - Free on the Kindle this week!


Runes by Ednah Walters - Might be worth a shot.  I can't resist!

Neptune's Tears by Susan Waggoner - Sounds very good.  I hope I can read this one soon.

I hope the rest of you book fanatics scored better than myself this week.  Leave a link, and let me know! 

Mar 30, 2013

Stacking the Shelves #36

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

Before I get started on the books I've acquired this week, I just wanted to let y'all know that Lyn will be back to posting more as soon as she can. She's still trying to stay with me, but her life has been extremely busy lately and some important job stuff has come up. When she has a little more time, she'll be posting more, I am sure. 

This week I got two review books in the mail and I received a shipment I ordered from Amazon that you may have seen me squeeing about last week. It's the best Amazon order I've ever placed and I know I know what I ordered, but I was still really excited anyway to hold them in my hands. 

Someone on Twitter mentioned BEA is in 9 weeks. 9 weeks until I am on a plane by myself, freaking out. 9 weeks until I am in the middle of a claustrophobic crowd and panicking. But at least I get to see my friends. That's the upside.

I've also just learned that Amazon has acquired Goodreads, and though I'm not thrilled about it, I'm also not going to split a vein either. Amazon bought Shelfari in 2008 and nothing changed. So maybe not that much will be altered. I hope. So I'm not leaving Goodreads, in case you were wondering. At least not yet. I want to see what changes they make first. Though I will say I am a bit worried they will enact even more review censorship on the site. 

But enough on that for now. Life must continue. On to the books. 

From left to right:

For Review-

The Circle (The Engelsfors Trilogy #1) by Sara B. Elfgren, Mats Strandberg (Thank you to Overlook Press)

Breadcrumbs by Anne Ursu (Thank you to Walden Pond Media)


Pantomime by Laura Lam

Fly by Night by Frances Hardinge

The Menagerie by Tui T. Sutherland and Kari Sutherland

Pretty Girl-13 by Liz Coley

Orleans by Sherri L. Smith

Pretty great haul, huh? I'm excited about reading them if I ever get to them. I should be reading Fly by Night fairly soon as Lyn and I are doing a read-a-long for that when we have time. But the rest? Who knows? Leave me a comment and I will try to stop by your posts! I expect next week to be a fairly slow one as I don't know if I have anything coming, but we will see. Happy reading! 

Mar 29, 2013

Book Review of In the Shadow of Blackbirds by Cat Winters

Publisher: Amulet
Release Date: April 2nd, 2013
Genre: Young Adult-Historical, Paranormal
Pages: 400
Source: Netgalley

Description from GoodreadsIn 1918, the world seems on the verge of apocalypse. Americans roam the streets in gauze masks to ward off the deadly Spanish influenza, and the government ships young men to the front lines of a brutal war, creating an atmosphere of fear and confusion. Sixteen-year-old Mary Shelley Black watches as desperate mourners flock to séances and spirit photographers for comfort, but she herself has never believed in ghosts. During her bleakest moment, however, she’s forced to rethink her entire way of looking at life and death, for her first love—a boy who died in battle—returns in spirit form. But what does he want from her?

Featuring haunting archival early-twentieth-century photographs, this is a tense, romantic story set in a past that is eerily like our own time.

Review: In the Shadow of Blackbirds was a really unique read for me. The main reason being that it covers a couple of topics that I had never read about before and I don't think are written about often. The Spanish Influenza, spirit photography, and World War I. Okay so maybe there are a lot of World War I reads, but I guarantee it's not often you find one like this that weaves all these interesting subjects into something so macabre, spooky, bleak, and all-immersive. 

First thing you should know about this book? It was incredibly well-researched. I like to look things up while I read because I have this thing about learning as I go (especially when it's on subjects I know very little about), and everything I looked up was accurate to what the book stated. Yet somehow she manages to make it all come together and feel so real that for most of the book I felt like I was inside the pages, living in this time and these characters. It's a cliched thing to say, but they truly do jump right off the page and become living, breathing beings. Not only do they jump off the page, but so does the setting, which is a major character in itself.

Mary Shelley is a wonderful character--strong and genuine, and the kind of character you would want solving a mystery for you if you had one to solve. Everything that she did and had happen to her was believable. And some of it was sad and truly, truly frightening, but it only served to strengthen her as I continued to read. Her relationships with all the other characters really helped create this realistic feel (especially those with her aunt and the soldiers), and part of that was because the dialogue was just sooo well-written. Seriously, I have not been this impressed with dialogue in a book in a long time.

But as much as I loved this atmospheric and haunting story, there was a couple of things that kept it being epic for me. And they actually go hand in hand so hear me out for a sec. It was the pacing. I was incredibly bored in the beginning because the book didn't get going fast enough for me. I don't believe I was fully hooked until page 80 something and it may have even been a little further in than that. As much as I love details and exposition, this book was a little too bogged down by all the history. I could have done with maybe 20 pages less and I think the pacing would have been much improved. See? Goes hand in hand. 

That being said, despite the few small issues I had, this is definitely probably going to be a favorite 2013 read for sure, and one I can wholeheartedly recommend. It was fun reading about a time period I was not familiar with and how utterly terrifying it was to live during the Spanish Influenza. It was so sad. But also compelling, and all the stuff about spirit photography and fraud was something I had always been interested in learning more about. I kinda love those books that you enjoy that make you learn something along the way. In the Shadow of Blackbirds definitely has my seal of approval.

Incidentally, if you are not a fan of the cover (like I wasn't before reading), after you finish the book you will understand and love it. It's a very important scene from the book. And now the cover makes sense and I kinda love it.

4/5 Dragons

Mar 28, 2013

If You Find Me Blog Tour: Guest Post and Giveaway

Emily Murdock and her debut novel, If You Find Me, has caught the attention of book lovers and Young adult enthusiasts. Our blog was given the chance to read the novel before it hit the shelves, and both of us here at Great Imaginations were blown away by the emotion that was put into the writing and the strength of the characters in the book.

Murdock shared with us her thoughts on her characters, and showed us a glimpse of the heart of her protagonist, Carey. Emily has been asked often why she chose to make Carey a pretty girl and she tries to answer that question and more in the guest post we were given. 

Thank you to Wendy Darling, Tonya, and K at The Midnight Garden for hosting this tour and asking us to be a part of it. 

There are some things you can’t leave behind…

A broken-down camper hidden deep in a national forest is the only home fifteen year-old Carey can remember. The trees keep guard over her threadbare existence, with the one bright spot being Carey’s younger sister, Jenessa, who depends on Carey for her very survival. All they have is each other, as their mentally ill mother comes and goes with greater frequency. Until that one fateful day their mother disappears for good, and two strangers arrive. Suddenly, the girls are taken from the woods and thrust into a bright and perplexing new world of high school, clothes and boys.

Now, Carey must face the truth of why her mother abducted her ten years ago, while haunted by a past that won’t let her go… a dark past that hides many a secret, including the reason Jenessa hasn’t spoken a word in over a year. Carey knows she must keep her sister close, and her secrets even closer, or risk watching her new life come crashing down.

Guest Post by Emily Murdoch

Conversations With Carey

Author’s Note: I’d remarked in one of If You Find Me’s blog tour Q&As, that I used to smile inside when writers talked about how their characters “talked” to them. Not in the sense of making fun, because I believe in the “free to be you and me” philosophy of life, and in that, living a life free from judgmental attitudes as much as humanly possible.  

But, I admit it: I smiled. That is, until I was writing If You Find Me and that very thing happened to me: Carey popping up out of nowhere, far from the computer keyboard, to conduct full-on conversations inside my head. (It became even more real when, in the midst of listening to her, I didn’t pay attention and, with an arm full of hay for our horses, backed into a prickly pear cactus. Yeah -- ouch. (As a writer, I have to sit on that thing!)

After that, I began writing our conversations down.

On Beauty:

Carey: You made me beautiful.

Me: That I did.

Carey: But you’re a writer. Isn’t that a trope? I don’t want to be a trope.

Me: (Concealing a smile) A trope? How do you know what a trope is?

Carey: Don’t you? (Ducks her head.)You’re the writer.

Me: Of course I know. But how do you?

Carey: I reckon because people talk about tropes in Goodreads reviews.

Me: You go on Goodreads?

Carey: Sure I do. I love to read. You know that.  Melissa lets me use her laptop.

Me: Oh, right. You’re not in the woods anymore.

Carey: So … am I a trope?

Me: No, of course not. Some things exist for writerly or plot or symbolic purposes, and if it feels right, a writer goes with it, even if people might call it a trope. 

Carey: (Large eyes brimming.) But it didn’t work, though.

Me: What do you mean?

Carey: I feel ugly, sometimes. I don’t feel pretty. I reckon … oh, forget it.

Me: No, what?

Carey: I don’t know! People out here think it’s a big thing. Like it’s special. I thought it would make me special. More than a backwoods freak.

Me: You’re not a backwoods freak. And what’s on the outside isn’t what makes you special. It’s what’s on the inside. That’s the truth.

Carey: I thought being pretty would make me more. Worth more. Especially after all that stuff in the woods.
Her tears fall fast and furious, while my own eyes well.

Me: Come here.

Carey: (Shakes her head, overcome with emotion.)

Me: That’s okay. But you need to know you aren’t what happened in the woods, sweetie. And you’ll never be how you look. That’s the first thing.

Carey: (Wiping tears away roughly.) Actually, that’s two things.

Me: (Smiling.) You’re just too smart for your own good. Yes, that’s two things. And the third one is, it’s hollow, in the land where beauty is currency. I mean, think of Mother Teresa.

Carey: Who?

Me: She was sort of a saint.

Carey: I know saints. They starved a lot, like Ness and me. I know St. Joseph, too. But who is Mother Teresa? 

Me: (Hands her a tissue. Waits while she blows her nose in a goose honk.) Mother Teresa was a woman, a nun, who helped the poverty-stricken people in the ghettos of India.

Carey: There’s a girl in my class named India.

Me: (Hiding a smile.) In this case, I mean India the country.

Carey: (Grinning.) Oh.

Me: Imagine if Mother Teresa had said, “Oh, I can’t tend to the sick and dying because I’m not beautiful enough! Because my hair isn’t perfect enough! Oh! How can I go outside! I have a pimple on my nose!"

Carey: (Face lights up.) That’s funny. I reckon I see what you’re saying. But that’s what matters to people out here. I didn’t even know how I looked until I came to my dad’s farm. It’s all you see on television -- girls who are Hundred Acre Woods-skinny, with big, um --

Me: Yeah. Big ums. Which are just body parts, by the way. You’re worth more than your flesh. And you’re smarter than that, thank God. You have this lucky new life to live, to learn and grow and love inside of it. What’s inside is what sticks around.

Carey: That’s what people see about me, though. They stare at me like I’m more, somehow, because of it.

Me: Well, what do you think?

Carey: I reckon I see the same me. The old me who didn’t know. I think to myself, when they stare, would you want to trade places? Be starving skinny and look like me, if it meant you had to have my old life, too?

Me: And?

Carey: I think no. No, they wouldn’t.

Me: Well, maybe they wouldn’t want your old life. But I think many people wouldn’t mind being you, in the sense of being strong and brave and so good with Nessa. And, as you are finding out, it doesn’t matter what someone looks like on the outside, if they feel ugly on the inside.

Carey: (Looking up at me through her eyelashes.) So you made me beautiful in an anti-beauty way? In a photonegative way, because it doesn’t matter when you feel ugly inside?

Me: You’re a smart cookie, kiddo. Looks aren’t everything. They didn’t save you. They didn’t give you an instantly terrific life. But look beyond it, too -- it doesn’t matter in general. What’s inside is what counts. It may sound corny or cliché, but it really is the truth. And you have the power to allow or dismiss the messages society sends young girls. You have the power to be more than that. So much more.

Carey: I reckon so.

Me: Hey – how do you know about photonegatives, anyway?

Carey: From Ryan. He takes photographs, remember? The one with my violin?

Me: I love that photo.

Carey: (Smiling shyly.) Me too.

Me: I dare say you’re blushing, Carey Violet Benskin.

Carey waves me away, her grin as wide as the Obed river. As it should be.

About the Author:

Emily is a writer, a poet, and a lover of books. There's never a time she's without a book. Her debut novel, If You Find Me, will be available from St. Martin's on March  26, 2013 and from Orion/Indigo UK on May 2, 2013.

When she's not reading or writing, you'll find her caring for her horses, dogs and family on a ranch in rural Arizona, where the desert's tranquil beauty and rich wildlife often enter into her poetry and writing.


I have one finished hardback graciously given by St. Martin's Press for giveaway to US/CA addresses. 

Giveaway ends April 11th at midnight. 
Enter using the Rafflecopter form below.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

If You Find Me Tour Stops:

3/27 Bookish

Mar 27, 2013

Eggs-celent Bunny Book Hop Giveaway! And a 2 Year Blogoversary Post!

This week is Easter. Which we don't celebrate, but it's also our 2 year blogoversary, and we love being generous and we do love Easter Egg HUNTS!!!  So Lyn and I contacted the Easter bunny and we asked him for a few favors. He said he was incredibly busy but that our blog followers were awesome so he would try to stop by and see what he could do!

Well...HE MADE IT. And he dropped off some awesome eggs with personalities of their own, and hidden inside contain book titles to an anticipated 2013 release, because the Easter bunny loves hiding eggs for lucky readers to find! 

He said we could give two books away to two lucky winners and that it was up to the giveaway entrant to pick which egg they wanted. But he's not going to make it easy for you. I asked him to but he refused to tell me what book corresponded with which egg. Because the Easter bunny is nothing if not cryptic and sneaky. Instead, he has given me a list of clues that give you hints about which book title is inside each egg. 

You're going to have to guess and pick your book choice that way. Once you pick a book, that's the book you win. No switching or that misses the point of the giveaway! Some of the clues are fairly easy to figure out and some are a little more difficult, but Mr. Bunny told me they are all books that readers are looking forward to. So there should be something for everyone here.

10 eggs, 10 clues. Oh yeah, and this is open to INTERNATIONAL readers since we will be pre-ordering the books for whoever wins. 

The Easter bunny also mentioned that he would throw in a $15.00 gift card for one other lucky reader. You can choose a gift card from either Amazon or Barnes and Noble. But you can tell him that when you are chosen as the winner!

Ready to see the eggs??

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BOOK 1: Puzzles and heartache
New mysterious boy
Sets her fate for the future
A book tells it all in her future story

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Humorous and emotional
A dog as the emotional support during the strife
A trip to a foreign land
Death is a clue to his mother’s own life

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Monster battle
Two brothers try to make it to the end
Instructions given from a master
Are the others an enemy or a friend?

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Internal war
A tragedy leaves a classmate in pain
One side is a winner
The other side is insane

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The key to living:
Trust no one
Wave of darkness, struggle to survive
Put your faith in someone – or be done

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Beware of the Dark Secrets will be revealed outside the light A girl can’t remember her past They will come for her, creating a fight

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Wolves and the end of time
Legends come to life
A boy fights to war of the Vikings
And tries to save all humankind!

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Emotions run deep
Hidden from prying eyes
Feelings are masked by the girl
To be certain that no one else dies

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At this school for nursery time fans
Two friends as opposite as can be
One girl evil; the other labeled good
Fairy tales are no longer just for the nursery

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BOOK 10:
Across the universe
A tragedy leaves its scars
Two unlikely space dwellers
Find survival and love written in the stars

So you get to pick one book from the choices above. There will be two winners. 

You can choose from a paperback or ebook of your choice. If a hardcover is all that's available, then I will order the hardcover. Considering that they are new releases, most will probably be in hardcover anyway.

Once again, this giveaway is International. If you are in the US, the book will be shipping from Amazon. If you are international, the book will be shipping from The Book Depository. 

Contest will end on April 10th, 2013 at midnight. 

One email address per household. One Twitter account per entrant. Winner has 48 hours to respond or another winner will be chosen. I will be checking and disqualifying any entries that are trying to cheat and game the system.

Great Imaginations

Enter using the Rafflecopter form below--there is one for the pre-orders and one for the gift card:
Thank you to Giselle at Xpresso Design for the lovely giveaway banner and button!

Mar 26, 2013

Top Ten Books I Recommend The Most

Top Ten Tuesday is a meme hosted by The Broke and the Bookish.  This week’s topic: Top Ten Books I Recommend The Most.

When I read the topic for this week, I began to look for something else to use, or another meme.  I keep mentioning the same books over and over. I didn't think I could make this week's topic work for me.


Then, I began to think. My mind began to reel and I thought about my favorite books overall. Then it sunk it: I can step outside the usual genre and mention ANY book that I recommend! 

So, for this week, here are the top ten books that I recommend the most!

10. Bubba, the Cowboy Prince by Helen Ketteman - This is my favorite picture book.  I'm not big into the entire "Texas only has cowboys!", but the book makes me feel very warm and very happy when I read it. The art is beautiful, and I love the whole Cinderella mythology from a male POV. If you haven't read this gem yet, I would recommend getting it, pronto.

9. Mirror, Mirror: A Book of Reversible Verse by Marilyn Singer - My favorite poetry picture book! The format is written in a reverso format (the poem can be reversed to read from top to bottom, or from bottom to top). I LOVE introducing this book in any poetry unit, or discussion.

8. No Man's Land by Greg Rucka - I always use this graphic novel based book to any person wanting to read novelized comics.

7. The Super Dictionary - I will warn you - it is a hard book to find.  However, if you can get your hands on this book, be prepared to spend hours either laughing or gasping in mortified bewilderment.  I still cannot believe this book was able to be published, and there is a good reason why this is on the market for a high price.

6. Death Count by L.A. Graf - My friends were looking for great Star Trek novels, wishing to feel the excitement of sci-fi literacy at its best.  One of my friends confessed that she thought that the Stark Trek novels did not harbor any fantastic stories.  For Christmas, she received a box of the top novels.  This book is always at the top of my list for any Trekkies or sci-fi lovers.  This author team always creates some wonderful fiction!

5. Letters from a Nut by Ted L. Nancy - I love this book.  This book actually did two things.  First, I felt a little less alone in the world, because people such as Nancy existed, and two, it became a staple in our household to quote the book whenever anyone needed a laugh.  

 4. The Vampire Empire series by Clay and Susan Griffith - I never get sick of chasing people down to read this series.  I love it.

3.  Nation by Terry Pratchett - One of the best books to ever be written by this man. I recommend for teens, Pratchett lovers, and award-winning book hunters.

2. Keeper by Kathi Appelt - I cannot praise this book enough.  The prose is beautiful, the story is touching, the setting is wonderful, and the "no hate" message is outstanding. The author is also very sweet and wonderful, to boot.

1. The Norse Myths by Kevin Crossley - Holland - If I were rewarded with banished to a deserted island, this book would be in my bags.  I love old Viking-age mythology, and I find myself recommending this book the most.  Which includes, now, all of my readers.  

Which books made your list this week? Leave me a link in your comment!

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