Thursday, June 16, 2011

Summer Blogging Break


[insert big ol' guilty puppy eyes here]

So, some of you may have noticed I've kinda vanished since the end of May. Turns out, right when I thought I was getting things under control, my life gets totally insane. So, regretfully, I'm going to be taking a little bit of a break.

Work is INSANE. If you have a local library that participates, then you know the Summer Reading Program has just started. Kids are out of school, and people are coming in just to get out of the heat. We're swamped, and we're down two staff positions. Not to mention, we're going a very fly-by-the-seat-of-your-pants teen reading program. So, yeah. By the time I get home, even after my shorter days, I just want to pass out on the couch and snooze the afternoon away. 

I'm going to have to admit this is more work than I thought. When I started the blog, I was under the impression that this was easy peasy. And it's not. It's really hard work maintaining a blog, and it's a little draining. I've given up a couple of things I enjoy because I was so honed in on this site. I think I'll enjoy it more if I just take a step back, and still try to fit in all the things I love to do. Like being a total nerd and watching anime and playing video games. I think a more casual pace, and a casual vibe, will make me a much more responsible and enjoyable blogger.

Reading was starting to become work and not fun. But don't worry. This whole summer break thing? I'll still be reading and writing reviews, just not posting them here right now. That way, when I do come back, I'm going to have a MASSIVE stock pile of reviews I can pull from. Maybe that way, if I'm busy or overwhelmed, I won't feel it because I already have so many posts ready.

I'm also going to be spending this time thinking up my own special feature or two. Also, working on a new layout, and maybe even coming back with a new name once I settle on something I like. ;D

So I won't be gone entirely. I'll keep updating my Goodreads, reading my Google Reader, commenting, and trying to keep up with everyone on Twitter. I just need to step back for a little bit, and summer is definitely the perfect time to relax and take things slow.

So I'm going to be reading and writing, and coming back better than ever. <3

{image is from weheartit.com - best collection of pictures out there}

Friday, May 27, 2011

Hop, Follow, & TGIF { 15 }

This week, I'm participating in three different Friday memes! Crazy for Books hosts the Book Blogger Hop. Parajunkee's View hosts Follow Friday. And a new Friday question to the block, TGIF at Greads! These are all wonderful opportunities for bloggers to get to know each other.

Today's question from the Hop...
What book-to-movie adaptation have you most liked? Which have you disliked?
Honestly, probably the Lord of the Rings. I saw the movies before I ever read the books in high school, and I was so impressed with how much they actually fit into those movies from such gigantic books. I do have a lot of respect for Peter Jackson as a director, and I can't tell you how excited I a to see his adaptation of The Hobbit. For least favorite...I'd probably have to go with the movie version of Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire. It's just so bad. So, so, so bad. I can barely stand to watch it when I'm going through the whole series again. My boyfriend hasn't ever read the books, and he doesn't like the fourth movie. :-P


Today's question from Follow Friday...
How many books do you read in a week? And in what format do you read them, or listen to them?
I actually have to admit I'm being really slow recently. I'm maybe getting a book a week. Usually, when my life is a little more in order, I can manage 2 - 3 in a week. I'm hoping to get back to that soon! And as for format, I'm a real book junkie all the way, though I may be bending soon and purchasing a Nook.

Today's question from TGIF...
Author Love: In 2011, which new/old authors have you discovered and loved?
OMG, SO MANY! I really just started my blog this year, and I started really focusing on YA fiction this year. Stephanie Perkins, Lisa Bergren, Beth Revis, Cynthia Hand, Rachel Hawkins, Andrea Cremer...the list could go on and on and on. And I have discovered a couple of older adult authors that I never expected to like so much: Charlaine Harris, Karen Marie Moning, and J. R. Ward. Honestly, it's just been an amazing first (almost) half of the year. I've found so many authors, and rediscovered even more.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Review: Forgive My Fins

Title: Forgive My Fins
Author: Tera Lynn Childs
Publisher: Katherine Tegen Books
Category: Young Adult
Page Count: 293
Release Date: May 19, 2010
Series: n/a
Source: Library
Challenge: n/a 
Quick Rating: 4/5
Goodreads | Amazon | B&N
Lily Sanderson has a secret, and it’s not that she has a huge crush on gorgeous swimming god Brody Bennett, who makes her heart beat flipper-fast. Unrequited love is hard enough when you’re a normal teenage girl, but when you’re half human, half mermaid, like Lily, there’s no such thing as a simple crush.

Lily’s mermaid identity is a secret that can’t get out, since she’s not just any mermaid - she’s a Thalassinian princess. When Lily out three years ago that her mother was actually a human, she finally realized why she didn’t feel quite at home in Thalassinia, and she’s been living on land and going to Seaview High School ever since, hoping to find where she truly belongs. Sure, lands has its problems - like her obnoxious biker-boy neighbor, Quince Fletcher - but it has that one major perk: Brody. The problem is, mermaids aren’t really the casual dating type - the instant they “bond”, its for life.

When Lily’s attempt to win Brody’s love leads to a tsunami-sized case of mistaken identity, she is in for a tidal wave of relationship drama, and she finds out, quick as a tailfin flick, that happily ever after never sails quite as smoothly as you planned.

I have a confession to make. I love mermaids. So anything that has mermaids in it, I want to read, and I’ll probably love. Even if the writing is horrible, I’m still going to squeal like a little kid because there are mermaids in it. Blame Disney and The Little Mermaid.

And now you can also blame Forgive My Fins, because it was amazing. My first instinct when I finished this was to fan girl squeak and just give it a five-star rating, but I’m going to try to be a little more objective, and not let my undying love for anything under the sea to get in the way.

One thing I appreciated about Fins was that every question I had was eventually answered. While I know this is going to be a series (or at least one sequel), it felt like a complete novel. There were no dangling loose ends between the main characters. I had no lingering doubts or questions. And I loved it. I hate when a book just has so many threads flapping in the wind, waiting to be tied up in more installments. The intricacies of Child’s mermaids were explained to the fullest, such as how they transform, how they hide their mermaid-ness, etc. (My only lingering curiosity was how exactly her parents managed to have a kid without “bonding”? No kissing? Seems suspicious…Or, at least, very unromantic.)

And speaking of the mermaids, how awesome are they? The can transform from mermaid, to finkini (scaly bikini), to human with no problem.  They love sushi and eat with underwater chopsticks, called seasticks. And the slang. I laughed so hard at the swear word replacement. Carp for crap. Frogging for, well…you know.

As for the story and the characters themselves, it was all just so cute. I quickly became addicted to the conflict between Lily and Quince, and I stayed up way too late to enjoy their bantering. Quince’s feelings were painfully obvious to me, even from the very first few pages. I spent a lot of time swooning over him, and wanting to smack Lily at the same time for being so completely oblivious. My only true problems were with elements of the story itself…

*Beware - spoilers ahead!*

I did think that Lily’s father delaying their separation three times was a little much. Two was funny, but by the third time, I was just rolling my eyes. I also wish Lily had found out Brody was a scumbag in a much more dramatic way. Not just a light bulb clicking on because he was, well, fascinated about her being a mermaid. I wanted it to be a kiss with no sparks, or his “player” tendencies to come out right in front of her.

As for her reuniting with Quince at the end, I think it also needed a little spice. “Woohoo!” I mean, really? Who says “Woohoo?” I wanted drama, and romance, and tears, and confessions of undying love, and passionate kissing. And all I got was a ’woohoo’ and some twirling. So maybe there was a kiss, but it wasn’t the fireworks of realized love that I was hoping for.

And what was with the overly sinister ending with Doe? It just felt…really weird and out of place. I know it’s probably setting up for the sequel, but it was really jarring, and totally threw me out of the happy Quince and Lily mode.

Regardless, I cannot wait for the sequel. I’m picking it up as soon as it comes out!

The Final Word: A cute, light romance that’s a quick read, and even more quickly addicting. If you like mermaids at all, it’s a must-read.

Overall:
Characters:
Concept:
Cover:


Cover Thoughts: While it’s definitely pretty, I kind of wish the “mermaid” on the cover was blonde, like Lily. But the makeup is to die for, and I love the swirly font like crazy.

Tea: So I’m choosing something I’ve never tasted before, so I have no clue whether it’s completely disgusting or not, but it’s just so perfect for a mermaid book. Kinjyo Jirushi Konbu Cha is a Japanese powdered seaweed tea. You know mermaids would totally drink this stuff!

Memorable Quotes: 
(Featuring a couple of funny quotes. Honestly, this book made me laugh so much, it’s ridiculous.)

“The last thing I need right now is Shannen telling me one more time that -
“You’re a coward, Lily Sanderson.”
- I’m a coward.
Son of a swordfish.” (pgs. 3 & 4)

“There are no straight lines or geometric shapes to give away the fact that all the structures are actually mermade. (Get it? Mermade. Like mermaid, but…oh, never mind.)” (pg. 89)

“Swoon? Ha! I don’t swoon. Get anxious and tongue-tied? Yes. But I got over the whole swooning-at-the-sight-of-him thing ages ago. Last month I think.” pg. 159

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Waiting on Wednesday { 17 }

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

Want to participate?

  •  Head on over to Breaking the Spine.
  • Grab the logo, or make your own!
  • Post your WoW entry on your blog.
  • Sign the Mr. Linky.
  • Visit all the other linked blogs, and watch your TBR pile grow to ginormous proportions!


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 Renegade Magic
by Stephanie Burgis
(April 2012 -- Antheum Books for Young Readers)
Kat Stephenson is back to cause more chaos! Stepmama drags the family to Bath to find Kat's sister a new suitor. But, unknown to most of its gossipy visitors, Bath is full of wild magic. When Kat uncovers a plot to harness this magic in the Roman Baths, she finds her brother Charles is unwittingly involved. Kat must risk her newfound magical powers as she defies the Order of the Guardians to foil the plot and clear her brother's name.

Okay, so that may not be much of a description so far, but it already has me salivating. I absolutely loved the first book, Kat, Incorrigible (see my review here), and I can't believe I have to wait a whole year for it to come out. I don't normally pick books so far in advance for WoW, but I saw the cover this week and just...gah! It's magical and sparkly and amazing, and I couldn't resist. I'm so ridiculously jealous of all you U.K.-ers - you get it in August of this year! I might have to be doing some serious bribing come August...

What are you waiting on this Wednesday? 

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Alice Marvels Spring Into Books Giveaway

(banner from alicemarvels.com)

So today, I got a random e-mail. Happens all the time, but this time...it was a little different. Mostly because it was full of awesome. I have never heard of Alice Marvels before, and part of that might be because it seems to be relatively new. But it is amazing.
Alice Marvels is a daily newsletter, all about the latest in teen fiction. I immediately took the hint and signed up - and the best part is that it's absolutely free! And there are amazing giveaways. And the newsletter isn't strictly books either - it stays on top of the latest trends in the movie and television world (all based on teen books of course ;D). 

Right now, there is a fabulous contest going on that you should definitely run over and enter right now! It's the Sprint into Books Giveaway, and it's open until June 20th! Not only are they offering up a bunch of signed books, but the grand prize winner gets an Amazon Kindle! The only restriction is that it's US only this time around.

All you have to do is fill out the form, and facebook/tweet/blog about it for extra entires. Super easy, right? There's also a promo code you need, and I would recommend just taking a peak at some previous newsletters to find it. Plus, that way, you can get a taste of just how cool the newsletters are.

Check out Alice Marvels now!

Monday, May 23, 2011

Review: Ruby Red

Title: Ruby Red
Author: Kerstin Gier
Publisher: Henry Holt & Co.
Category: Young Adult
Page Count: 324 
Release Date: May 10, 2011
Series: Edelstein-Trilogie #1
Source: ARC from publisher
Challenge: 2011 DAC 
Quick Rating: 5/5

Goodreads | Amazon | B&N
Sixteen-year-old Gwen lives with her extended - and eccentric - family in an exclusive London neighborhood. In spite of her ancestors’ peculiar history, she’s had a relatively normal life so far. The time-traveling gene that runs like a secret thread through the female half of the family is supposed to have skipped over Gwen. So it comes as a surprise when she starts taking sudden leaps into the past.

She’s totally unprepared for time travel, not to mention all that comes with it: the fancy clothes, a mysterious secret society, and Gideon, who’s obnoxious, a know-it-all, and possibly the best-looking guy she’s seen in any century…

Secret societies, amazingly beautiful clothes, and a very swoon-worthy boy: what more could a girl want from a book?

From the very beginning, Ruby Red dishes out the mystique and intrigue, and has you dying to read more. I had serious problems putting this book down to either sleep or go to work. I am definitely a sucker for time-travel novels, and I really love the unique premise Kerstin Gier created. Time-traveling is limited to only a very few people - women from one ancestry, men from another. They are all connected to a complicated riddle about precious gems and special magical abilities. There is a special chronograph used to control the time and place of time-travel, and it requires the blood of all twelve travelers throughout history to be “complete”. What happens when it is complete is still a mystery, though I think I’m siding with Gwen that it seems a little sinister.

Gwen herself is a delightful main character. She is very much so a normal girl. Her and her best friend are amazingly close, and they do what most girlfriends do. They watch movies and drool over hot guys. I also appreciated the fact that Gwen was not a secretly brilliant student, bubbling over with a wealth of knowledge. In fact, she doesn’t pay attention in history, and she easily forgets important dates. Not the best trait for time-traveling safety. You feel almost as overwhelmed as Gwen in those first moments of uncontrolled travel. Not knowing where you are, totally unprepared to be thrust back into time? Pretty scary. Gwen also has the ability to see and talk to ghosts - she’s particular friends with a young gentleman who used to live at her school. And along with ghosts, she can also see gargoyles. Gargoyles weren’t necessarily explained very well in this one, but I hope we see some sort of development in this area. Having your own cute gargoyles following you around seems absolutely wonderful! (Not to mention she apparently has Hello Kitty pj’s, which totally makes her awesome in my book.)

And the love interest? Serious swoonage! Gideon is cocky and condescending, and is totally used to everyone doing exactly what he says. Gwen totally throws him for a loop when she blatantly disregards his orders, and won’t take his snarky comments standing down. But of course, as irritating as Gwen finds him to be, she can’t help but notice his stunning good looks, and the glimmers of a really sweet, caring nature hidden under the know-it-all, oh-so-serious fa├žade. He definitely has a touch of adventure in his blood, and I think he’ll easily develop into a rebel right along with Gwen.

The secondary cast of characters isn’t too shabby either. Grace, Gwen’s mother, definitely knows something she isn’t telling anyone. Great-aunt Maddy is a hoot, and her visions are oddly creepy. Lesley, the best friend, is probably one of the best girlfriends to ever have, since she believes all the outlandish things Gwen tells her without skipping a beat. There’s something strange about Mr. Whitman, the English teacher. He’s part of the secret society dealing with all the time-traveling, but it hasn’t been revealed in what capacity. Falk de Villiers and Dr. Jacob White of the society definitely give me the creeps, and little Mr. George is just adorable! Count Saint-Germain probably takes the cake as creepster of the novel, with Rakoczy taking a firm second. I also loved seeing some of Gwen’s ancestors, particularly Paul and Lucy. I really believe not everything has been revealed about Gwen’s parentage. There’s a sneaking suspicion she may not be who she thinks she is.

There really were no true flaws with this book, other than the fact that the language took a little while to get used to. However, since this book is originally German, I’m chalking it up to the fact that some things may not translate to English perfectly. However, the characters really feel British, and you end up getting so absorbed in the story, you don’t even notice! Besides that, there was an almost overwhelming amount of characters and names to keep track of, though there is a handy little index in the back of the book.

Truly, I was very, very impressed with Ruby Red. While the ending was a total cliffhanger (and might I add a little frustrating!), nothing was really thoroughly wrapped up. There are still a lot of loose threads, and plenty of mysteries to be solved in the next installments. While I would have liked one or two things figured out for certain at the end, it definitely makes me eager for Sapphire Blue to hurry up and get here!

The Final Word: A wonderful, fast-paced novel that will leave you on the edge of your seat. It has time-travel, secret societies, cute boys, ghosts, and mysteries galore. While nothing is wrapped up or solved at the end, there are still two more books to come, and Ruby Red will definitely make you want them!

Overall:
Characters:
Concept:
Cover:


Cover Thoughts: I love this cover! The silver foil filigree is stunning, especially with all the little “rubies” all over it. The red and silver just looks so elegant together - I love it!

Tea: Since Gwen is the “ruby” of the chronograph, I chose a lovely Ruby Chai from Numi Organic Teas.

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Win an ARC of Ruby Red!

So I happen to have gotten my hands on another ARC edition of Ruby Red, and since I loved it so much, I absolutely have to give it away! 

  • U. S. entries only please! I'd love to do international, but I can't afford the shipping right now.
  • You must be 13 years of age or older to enter.
  • No emails or addresses will be sold or given away to third parties. I will always respect your privacy.
  • Winners will be chosen using random.org
  • The giveaway will run from May 23rd, 2011, to midnight (EST) May 30th, 2011.
  • Following is not required for this giveaway, but it will earn you one extra entry.
  • Reblogging or tweeting is not required, but it will earn you one extra entry as well.
  • I am also not responsible for any packages lost in the mail - anything that does not arrive, or goes missing, I am under no obligation to replace.

Click here to enter!

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Waiting on Wednesday { 16 }

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

Want to participate?

  •  Head on over to Breaking the Spine.
  • Grab the logo, or make your own!
  • Post your WoW entry on your blog.
  • Sign the Mr. Linky.
  • Visit all the other linked blogs, and watch your TBR pile grow to ginormous proportions!


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 Alexander McQueen: Savage Beauty
by Andrew Bolton, Harold Koda
(May 31, 2011 -- Metropolitan Museum of Art)
Alexander McQueen (1969-2010) was one of the most influential, imaginative, and inspirational designers at the turn of the millennium. His fashions both challenged and expanded the conventional parameters of clothing beyond utility to a compelling expression of culture, politics, and identity. Focusing on the most iconic and acclaimed designs of his prolific career, this stunning book examines McQueen's inimitable technical virtuosity and its subversion of traditional tailoring and dressmaking practices.
 
The book also focuses on the highly sophisticated narrative structures found in McQueen's collections and in his astonishing and extravagant runway presentations, which suggested the most avant-garde installation and performance art. Intended as an assessment of Alexander McQueen's entire career, the book includes in-depth studies of six collections that illustrate and encapsulate thematic chapters as well as an interview with Sarah Burton, the new creative director of Alexander McQueen who had been the designer's right-hand design aide since 1996.

(Sorry for the lateness - I swear I had this scheduled, but it never posted!)
So this week's choice is a little different, since it's not fiction. Or, at least, it's not written fiction, though there are stories inside. I've always loved fashion and clothes and models and runways and photography, and no one had that fantastic element that Alexander McQueen had. His runway shows were inspiring, and his clothes didn't seem to belong in our world. They belonged in some amazing, fantastical world far, far away from here. I remember being devastated when I heard about his passing, and while the line may not retain that magical touch without him, I definitely have faith that the name brand will not vanish anytime soon. I'm definitely excited to get my hands on this book and peruse through the gorgeous photography on the inside. 

What are you waiting on this Wednesday?