Sunday, March 27, 2011

In My Mailbox (11)

No video again this week. I really wanted to, because I got some really awesome things this week, but time just got away from me. The weekend is just never long enough, is it?

None this week! (Kind of glad too - my reading pile is massive right now!)

So after finishing Anna and the French Kiss last week (review to come!), I immediately went and purchased my own copy. I am planning on forcing this on everyone. I also stopped by a local used bookstore in town, and happened to find three of the missing Black Dagger Brotherhood books I was missing, as well as the first in the Fever series by Karen Marie Moning. And, randomly, I decided to go with my parents on their visit to our local Sam's Club, and naturally went into the book section. While I could have bought a lot, I settled for the bound edition of the Balefire series. I haven't read them before, or honestly hear much about them, but they sounded really good, and I love bound editions.

And I promised myself I wouldn't check anymore books out until I'd read the ones I had, but I couldn't resist. Both of these came back on the same day, and I've wanted to read both of them. It was totally a sign.

And probably the coolest thing I got all week! A while ago, I won a runner-up prize pack from Novel Novice for their anniversary contest of epic. And it came this week! I got a bunch of stunning Novel Novice bookmarks, and some amazing Wicked Lovely temporary tattoos. I got a bunch, so I might give some away. ;D


So that's what I got this week. What's in your mailbox?

In My Mailbox is a weekly meme hosted by Kristi @ The Story Siren

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Review: Beyond the Highland Mist & Dark Lover

Trying something just a little different. I read two of my "guilty pleasure" over my vacation - an eight hour drive down, then another eight hours back gives you plenty of time to read. But instead of doing full reviews for them, I'm going to group them into "mini-reviews".

Title: Beyond the Highland Mist
Author: Karen Marie Moning
Publisher: Dell
Category: Adult Fiction
Page Count: 375
Release Date: May 2004
Series: Highlander Series #1
Source: Library Trade Rack
Challenge: none 
Quick Rating: 3/5
Goodreads | Amazon | B&N
An alluring laird.

He was known throughout the kingdom as Hawk, legendary predator of the battlefield and the boudoir. No woman could refuse his touch, but no woman ever stirred his heart - until a vengeful fairy tumbled Adrienne de Simone out of modern-day Seattle and into medieval Scotland. Captive in a century not her own, entirely too bold, too outspoken, she was an irresistible challenge to the sixteenth-century rogue. Coerced into a marriage with Hawk, Adrienne vowed to keep him at arm’s length - but his sweet seduction played havoc with her resolve.

A prisoner in time.

She has a perfect “no” on her perfect lips for the notorious laird, but Hawk swore she would whisper his name with desire, begging for the passion he longed to ignite within her. Not even the barriers of time and space would keep him from winning her love. Despite her uncertainty about following the promptings of her own passionate heart, Adrienne’s reservations were no match for Hawk’s determination to keep her by his side…
As a very devoted Outlander fan, I could not pass up the opportunity to delve back into the world of the Scottish Highlands. What I was not expecting was to giggle so much. Honestly, I haven’t read a romance novel in ages, so I’d forgotten just how many times “raging manhoods” and “swelling bosoms” were mentioned - I had to bury my face a couple of times in a fabulous fit of immaturity.

But, really, I can’t resist a good time travel novel. Nor can I resist books full to the brim of muscley warriors either. Adrienne’s flat out resistance to Hawk was absolutely frustrating! Just because he’s pretty doesn’t mean he’s a bad man, you silly woman! It only took you two-thirds of the book to figure that out.

I also felt it could have been a little shorter - some of the resistance scenes felt a little redundant, but overall, I actually really liked it. It was quick and entertaining, and was similar to first Outlander novel without all the…you know…epicness. I will definitely be getting the next in the series.


Cover Thoughts: Um, yes please? I love the shadows and the blue tones, and the lovely torso, but your title is covering him a little too much. Need more abs!

Tea: Pick your favorite brand of Earl Grey and settle in for a fast, quick read and maybe a giggle or two.


 Title: Dark Lover
Author: J. R. Ward
Publisher: Signet Eclipse
Category: Adult Fiction
Page Count: 393
Release Date: September 2005
Series: Black Dagger Brotherhood #1
Source: Library Trade Rack
Challenge: none
Quick Rating: 3/5
Goodreads | Amazon | B&N
The only purebred vampire left on the planet, Wrath has a score to settle with the slayers who murdered his parents centuries ago. But when one of his most trusted fighters is killed - orphaning a half-breed daughter unaware of her heritage or her fate - Wrath much usher the beautiful female into the world of the undead…

Racked by a restlessness in her body that wasn’t there before, Beth Randall is helpless against the dangerously sexy man who comes to her at night with shadows in his eyes. His tales of brotherhood and blood frighten her. But his touch ignites a dawning hunger that threatens to consume them both…
 Finally! A romance novel where the two love interests do not constantly resist one another! They may try to, but Wrath and Beth cannot stay away from each other, and it makes for one delightfully steamy book.

I also appreciate in a series of paranormal “romance” novels such an original premise. J. R. Ward took the time to put her own spin on the world of vampires, and it’s awesome! I love that vampires aren’t truly immortal, that they don’t drink from and kill humans, and that the “slayers” are creepy as all get out!

Though it was absolutely full to brimming of steamy scenes and action sequences, I still felt it dragged just a little, but I think this is just a personal problem with romance novels. I’m definitely planning on continuing with the series.


Cover Thoughts: Red and shiny and perfect understated. It doesn’t scream “romance” or “vampire”, and I appreciate that. I also love the leafy detail along the left hand side of the book. Beautiful!

Tea: Make yourself a nice Long Island Ice Tea - these kinds of books are always more fun with a little mental lubrication! 

Friday, March 25, 2011

Book Hop & Follow Friday (10)

This week, I'm participating in three different Friday memes! Crazy for Books hosts the Book Blogger Hop. Parajunkee's View hots Folly 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 better.

Today's question from the Hop...
"If you could physically put yourself into a book or series…which one would it be and why?"
Are you kidding? Harry Potter all the way! I've dreamed of going to Hogwarts since I was eight years old, and I'm still secretly waiting for my acceptance letter. I want my own owl, and a wand, and to be sorted, and make all kinds of wizardy friends. It would be amazing.

Today's question from Follow Friday...
"Inspired by the inane twitter trend of #100factsaboutme, give us five BOOK RELATED silly facts about you."
1.) I compulsively redo all my book shelves. Sometimes, I just get frustrated, take them all down, and put them all back up. And I have three huge shelves full. Not an easy task.
2.) Over half the books I own, I haven't read, but I still continue to buy books.
3.) Since I do the majority of the book ordering for my library, I may or may not stick a couple of books in there that I really, really want to read but don't want to buy. Luckily, all my choices have flown off the shelves like hotcakes. Unluckily, I haven't gotten them yet. :(
4.) I'd much rather be reading than doing anything else. If I could quit my job, and just read all the time, I totally would. Lottery, her I come...
5.) I judge books by their covers. All the time. I know it's so bad of me, but I just have a horrible case of constant cover lust. If I could frame some of the covers that come out now and hang them on my wall, I totally would.

Today's question from TGIF...
"Writing Negative Reviews: Are you guilty of it?"
Not really negative, but not really supportive. If it's something like the Luxe series that annoyed the crap out of me, yeah, I'll vent a little. Or if it's like one of the books I finished recently that just...really didn't do it for me, I'm not going to write a glowing review. But while I may post negative things, I will also always post positive. In fact, I even try to do that with books I absolutely adore, because I want to cover the whole spectrum. So while I will never right an outright nasty 'ugh, I hated it!' review, I'm not going to skirt around my true feelings. 

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Review: Waterfall

Title: Waterfall
Author: Lisa T. Bergren
Publisher: David C. Cook
Category: Young Adult
Page Count: 352
Release Date: February 1, 2011
Series: n/a
Source: ARC from publisher
Challenge: 2011 DAC
Quick Rating: 5/5
Goodreads | Amazon | B&N
What do you do when your knight in shining armor lives, literally, in a different world?

Most American teenagers want a vacation in Italy, but the Bentarrini sisters have spent every summer of their lives with their parents, famed Etruscan scholars, among the romantic hills. Stuck among the rubble of medieval castles in rural Tuscany on yet another hot, dusty archeological site, Gabi and Lia are bored out of their minds…until Gabi places her hand atop a handprint in an ancient tomb and finds herself in sixteenth-century Italy. And worse yet, in the middle of a fierce battle between knights of two opposing forces.

And thus does she come to be rescued by the knight-prince Marcello Falassi, who takes her back to his father’s castle - a castle Gabi has seen in ruins in another life. Suddenly Gabi’s summer in Italy is much, much more interesting.
 I want to start off by saying that I do not usually read anything marketed as “Christian fiction”. I’m always turned off by anything preachy, and so, I’ll admit, I went into Waterfall with a little bit of trepidation.

I was wrong. So wrong.

This book is amazing

But then again, set against the background of medieval Tuscany, how can you not fall in love? Full of mystery, intrigue, action, and a good dose of romance, Waterfall was nearly impossible for me to put down. If I hadn’t had to work in the morning, I probably would have stayed up all night to finish it.

One thing I loved was the ease of this read. We aren’t bogged down with historical facts of ancient Italy, but it isn’t skimmed over either. Things like bathroom habits lend a sense of realism to the book, and give you little clues to how hard life was before all our modern-day amenities. Not to mention the absolutely fabulous pacing! Oftentimes, I reach a few slow points in books, making it mildly difficult for me to get through them. This didn’t happen once. There was always something exciting going on, be it an attack by a band of rogues on the road, a beautiful ball, a medical emergency, or an all out epic battle. It’s enough to leave you feeling pleasantly exhausted at the end of the book, but dying for more.

And I have to say, I love Gabi. She’s an amazingly un-whiny young adult heroine with a solid head on her shoulders, and a lot of common sense. She’s aware of her situation enough to want to try and do the right thing for everyone involved, even if it hurts her in the end. Her romance with Marcello is very sweet as well - it’s full of longing looks and forbidden passion, but she doesn’t fall absolutely head over heels. She doesn’t want marriage, and she doesn’t even know if it’s love, and I appreciated that. I also appreciated that the romance wasn’t the main focus of the book, but rather her quest to find and save her sister, and to get back home. And while things may have seemed a little too easy for her (such as, she had fencing skills, knew the version of Italian spoken at the time, and rock climbing), it certainly made her an interesting and dynamic character. Her developing religiousness was also interesting to watch. She came from modern times with very little thought of religion, to a place where God and Christianity is very much at the forefront of everyone’s thoughts. I loved watching her question her beliefs and slowly starting to form her own opinions, wondering if her whole ordeal was some mission from God. Fascinating, and definitely not what I was expecting.

The secondary characters were all solid and intriguing as well. I loved the easy-going, sweet Luca, and the proud but sickly Fortino. I even liked Lady Rossi, and a bit of a spoiler note, I don’t blame her for what happened at the end. My suspicions lie elsewhere!

My only complaint would have to be with the dialogue and/or Gabi’s inner thoughts. I felt she changed a lot between a more adult voice to a “teen” voice, and it was a little jarring at times. Gabi was such a mature character to begin with, I almost would have rather she kept with the adult voice. The teen voice just felt a little off with her - like it’s an adult’s view of what teenagers talk like, but isn’t really how they talk at all. I got used to it as the story progressed, but it was definitely a little weird at first.

However, that is literally my only complaint, and one quickly forgotten. Seriously, the last 100 pages with leave you on the edge of your seat, trying to read as fast as you can to see what happens next. I turned the last page, and my jaw dropped. I absolutely cannot wait for the next installment.

The Final Word: Do not let the marketing of Waterfall as a Christian teen novel steer you away - there is no preachiness to be found, and actually surprisingly few mentions of religion and beliefs. It is an edge-of-your-seat, action-packed time travel novel with an amazing heroine. This is definitely a must-read 2011 debut.


Cover Thoughts: I love all the intricacies of the cover. The castle in the background, the portal at the bottom, the gorgeous teal tones shooting in from the sides. While maybe not eye-catching at first, it definitely fit’s the novel. And, surprisingly enough, my favorite part is the tagline typography on the back! The beautiful, subtle clouds are amazing, and the font is perfect!

Tea: I would recommend Tadin’s Chamomile with Peppermint tea. Not only are these medieval herbs used in the book itself, but the bite of peppermint will make you think of Gabi’s determined and fiery personality.

(Thank you to Lisa Bergren and Karen Stoller of David C. Cook for sending me the ARC!)

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Waiting on Wednesday (10)

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

by Anya Parrish
(September 8th, 2011 -- Flux)
There was a time when I prayed for Rachel to be real. Until the night I learned she'd always planned to kill me.

When Dani was eight, she fell from a building. No one believed her claim that she was pushed by Rachel . . . her imaginary friend. It took years of therapy to convince Dani that Rachel wasn't real.

Now fifteen, Dani wants to make it as a dancer. But a deadly freak accident sends Dani a terrifying message: Rachel is back, she's real, and she'll stop at nothing to kill Dani.

Complicating matters is Jesse, the school bad boy who's being stalked by his own invisible childhood nemesis. Dani and Jesse join forces to learn why their astral tormenters are back. Their investigation leads to a horrifying discovery—and the terrible experiment that binds them to each other.

Creeeeeepy. This sounds like a perfect Halloween read, so I might just have hold off until October to pick a copy up. But, seriously, it sounds amazing. It's like the film Black Swan mixed with Elizabeth Woods's Choker. Even the cover looks sinister - those rips look absolutely vicious. I'm really excited for this one to come out later this year. 
What are you waiting on this Wednesday?

Monday, March 21, 2011

Review: Wither

Title: Wither
Author: Lauren DeStefano
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
Category: Young Adult
Page Count: 356
Release Date: March 22, 2011
Series: n/a
Source: ARC from publisher
Challenge: 2011 DAC 
Quick Rating: 4/5
Goodreads | Amazon | B&N
In the not-too-distant future, because of genetic engineering, every human is a ticking tim bomb - males only live to age twenty-five, and females only live to age twenty. To keep the population from dying out, girls are kidnapped and sold into polygamous marriages.

When sixteen-year-old Rhine is taken, she enters a world of wealth and privilege that both entices and terrifies her. She has everything she ever wanted - except freedom. With the help of Gabriel, a servant Rhine is growing dangerously attracted to, Rhine attempts to escape before it is too late.
 Wither is haunting, beautiful, sinister, and at times, even disturbing. I actually devoured it in one sitting, which was surprising, because there were a couple of things that actually turned me off about the novel. Nonetheless, something kept me going until the wee hours of the morning, just to know what happens at the end of it all. I even had a bizarre sister-wife dream of my own after finishing!

The world Lauren DeStefano has created is scary in the fact that it seems so plausible. Genetic engineering happens already today, girls are snatched off the streets and sold in today’s society. Though, if I’m being perfectly honest, if a third World War did break out, I don’t know if I’d believe America would be the last place standing. (China has my vote!)

Rhine as the main character wasn’t irritating, though I almost felt a lack of…something. Emotion maybe? Her pull in either direction wasn’t strong enough, her hatred wasn’t fierce enough, she wasn’t as sympathetic as I expected, and she wasn’t as determined as I wanted. She had elements of all these traits, enough for me to like her and sympathize with her, but not enough for me to admire her. I wanted more of a forbidden romance out of her and Gabriel - more than a couple of stolen kisses. Though I did like the bit about him hiding June Beans in her breakfast, and the fact that they actually talked. A conversation is so rare in young adult romances these days!

Follow the jump for more!

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Review: The Eternal Ones

Title: The Eternal Ones
Author: Kirsten Miller
Publisher: Razorbill
Category: Young Adult
Page Count: 416 
Release Date: August 2010
Series: n/a
Source: ARC
Challenge: Breathless Reads Tour Mini Challenge 
Quick Rating: 4/5

Goodreads | Amazon | B&N
Haven Moore has always lived in the tiny town of Snope City, Tennessee. But for as long as she can remember, Haven has experienced visions of a past life as a girl named Constance, whose love for a boy called Ethan ended in a fiery tragedy.

One day, the sight of notorious playboy Iain Morrow on television brings Haven to her knees. Haven flees to New York City to find Iain and there, she is swept up in an epic love affair that feels both deeply fated and terribly dangerous. Is Iain her beloved Ethan? Or is he her murderer in a past life? Haven asks the members of the powerful and mysterious Ouroboros Society to help her unlock the mysteries of reincarnation and discover the secrets hidden in her past lives, and loves, before all is lost and the cycle begins again. But what is the Ouroboros Society? And how can Haven know who to trust?
I had initially read some iffy reviews of The Eternal Ones, so I went into it a little cautiously. I shouldn’t have. If I could have stayed up all night to finish this in one sitting, I would have. It shocked me how absorbed I was, and I cannot wait for the second one - though I really thought this could have been an awesome standalone.

What really made this book for me was the characters. I liked Haven, I did, even though I wanted to ring her neck occasionally for not catching on quick enough, or for changing her opinion so rapidly. I loved her sassiness with her grandmother, I loved that she was suspicious of everything, and I loved her determination to figure out the truth. I also read all her dialogue with a delightful Southern accent in my head - I have a weakness for proper Southern accents! And even though I kind of hated her, I also loved Imogene. She had a lot of complex layers to her, and I kind of hope we see more of her in the future. Her snarkiness was just way too funny.

As for the boys, Beau was wonderful! You do not know how much overly girly gay boys bother me. Beau likes to sew dresses, but he also likes to play football, and he still acts like a boy. I like my gay men to still be men, so thank you Kirsten Miller. Thank you so much, because I love Beau like crazy. Iain/Ethan was also very appealing - I liked that he gave off the bad boy vibe without really being one. He’s a fabulous actor, and I was totally questioning his motives the whole time. I also appreciated that it was like a love story in progress already. We didn’t have to wade through any awkward beginning stages of love - they already knew each other completely. As for Adam? CREEPY! But I did kind of like him until the end, I’ll admit. And, really, I mean the names in this are awesome. Maybe I’m biased because Iain and Ethan are my two favoritest boy names EVER, but I totally love the name Haven as well.

Truly, though, I was left guessing the entire time. I felt my opinion changing almost just as many times as Haven’s, and I was constantly questioning who I was supposed to trust and like. The “Gray Men” were really creepy - they reminded me of agents from The Matrix or something. They just pop out of no where and follow you!

I only wish there had been more memories of Ethan and Constance, or maybe a glimpse back into even more past lives. The whole idea of reincarnation was well-executed in my opinion, especially the idea of certain “talents” sticking with your throughout your lives. I really hope in the next installment we’re going to see more of this, and delve deeper into the whole complex, mysterious relationship that is Iain and Haven. I’m really excited to see what comes from the Ouroboros Society, specifically Adam.

I really though that The Eternal Ones was a very well-written, strong book, though it could have been maybe a smidge shorter. I look forward to Haven being a little more steady in her opinions, and a little less flip-floppy.

The Final Word: A fabulous story of reincarnation and eternal love. Even though a few sections were slow and a little annoying, I definitely had trouble putting it down. With elements of romance, mystery, and thriller, it’s totally worth a read!


Cover Thoughts: A little simplistic for my tastes, but it still has a certain elegance to it that I appreciate. It definitely does not scream ‘young adult’, and that’s not a bad thing.

Tea: Pour yourself a big ole glass of sweet tea and get lost in Haven’s southern drawl! Add lemon for a little twist (or a shot or two of Firefly if you’re like me)!

In My Mailbox (10)

It's time for another In My Mailbox! I can't believe it's already Sunday. Some weeks just go by so fast. I usually do a vlog post now, but I was just too exhausted yesterday afternoon to make one. Blame laundry and dishes, ugh.

 I was shocked to get this one in the mail - I hadn't asked for it! It's nice to get a little surprise every now and then. ;D But, this looks really good. I haven't read Incarceron or Sapphique yet, but I've heard they're good. And this has a map. A fold-out map. I'm hooked.

I bought Behemoth after I found Leviathan at my local discount store. I've been meaning to read it forever, and my library's only copy is large print - and I just cannot read large print for the life of me. So, I just went ahead and bought my own. I know I'll love it anyway. ;D I bought Wuthering Heights since it's my next Wordsworth challenge book. I always like to have a cheaper paperback copy that I don't feel so bad about highlighting quotes in. And I'll admit it, I totally love the classic re-releases with the Twilight-y covers. They're so pretty!

  I kind of went a little library-book-happy this week and checked out more than I usually do. But, with all the new amazing orders coming in (ya know, not to toot my own horn or anything, lol!), I just can't help it. I checked out Forgive My Fins for a little mermaid fun - I absolutely love mermaids. Hex Hall is for the A-Z Challenge. The Iron Witch is a 2011 debut author, and Sisters Red is just for fun. I looooove the cover on Sisters Red, and I love werewolves, so I figured it would be a good match.

Oh, and I got one other bookish thing:

This is totally my life motto. "Keep Calm and Have a Cupcake"


So that's what I got this week. What's in your mailbox?

In My Mailbox is a weekly meme hosted by Kristi @ The Story Siren

Saturday, March 19, 2011

That Twitter thing...

So, yeah. I'll admit it. I've had my twitter account almost as long as I've had this blog. I'd go on it, I'd fiddle with the colors, I'd fiddle with the background. But I never posted. Not once. Twitter is scary. There's hashtags and little teeny tiny links and retweeting, and it makes me feel old. And I'm in my early twenties. =P

But, with a little gentle persuasion, I've finally and officially set up occupancy on my twitter. I'm sure with a new sofa and couple of teacups on the shelves it'll feel just like home in no time. ;D You can find me @tealeafliz, or just click the handy-dandy little icon in the upper right corner that now finally goes to something.

(And no, there still is no Facebook page yet. I'm lazy! :D And also debating about just not even bothering with Facebook at all. But for now, the cute little icon stays.)

(cute little twitter button from here!)

Friday, March 18, 2011

Book Hop & Follow Friday (9)

This week, I'm participating in three different Friday memes! Crazy for Books hosts the Book Blogger Hop. Parajunkee's View hots Folly 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 better.

Today's question from the Hop...
"Do you read only one book at a time, or do you have several going at once?"
I used to be able to do this so easily as a kid! I'd have at least three books going at once, and never forget the plots. Now? Well, sometimes I get previous book's plots mixed up with what I'm currently reading, so keeping up with one book at a time is as task in and of itself.

Today's question from Follow Friday...
"How did you come up with your blog name?"
It was actually a long process. I knew I wanted it to include the word "tea" somehow, since I love tea, and it's my online persona. ;D I had notepads full of different names, and I actually ended up just getting frustrated and picking one. But now, I'm pretty satisfied, though I do have some blog name envy every now and then.

Today's question from TGIF...
"Cover lust: which book covers are you lusting over right now?"
I am a total cover junkie, so this is actually really hard lol! But I'll just pick three randoms off my list. I chose newer books, since it's just too hard for me to pick only a couple from all of my favorite books.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Happy St. Patrick's Day!

Happy St. Patty's Day everyone! I hope your day is full of leprechauns, rainbows, pots of gold, and plenty of green beer. ;D
Oh, and try not to get pinched!

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Waiting on Wednesday (9)

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

Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children
by Ransom Riggs
(June 7th, 2011 - Quirk Books)

A mysterious island. An abandoned orphanage. And a strange collection of very curious photographs. It all waits to be discovered in Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children, an unforgettable novel that mixes fiction and photography in a thrilling reading experience. As our story opens, a horrific family tragedy sets sixteen-year-old Jacob journeying to a remote island off the coast of Wales, where he discovers the crumbling ruins of Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children. As Jacob explores its abandoned bedrooms and hallways, it becomes clear that the children who once lived here—one of whom was his own grandfather—were more than just peculiar. They may have been dangerous. They may have been quarantined on a desolate island for good reason. And somehow—impossible though it seems—they may still be alive.

A spine-tingling fantasy illustrated with haunting vintage photography, Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children will delight adults, teens, and anyone who relishes an adventure in the shadows. (from Goodreads)
I actually got this one in the mail last week as an ARC, and I was totally blown away. I didn't realize exactly how strange this book was. Inside are tons of black and white photographs. Some are a little weird, some are just downright creepy.

I am so excited to sink my teeth into this book as soon as possible. I haven't read anything good and scary in a long time. I'm anticipating at least one rather sleepless night in my future. ;D

What are you waiting on this Wednesday?

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Review: The Replacment

Title: The Replacement
Author: Brenna Yovanoff
Publisher: Razorbill
Category: Young Adult
Page Count: 343
Release Date: September 2010
Series: none
Source: ARC edition
Challenge: Breathless Reads Tour Mini Challenge 
Quick Rating: 3/5

Though he lives in the small town of Gentry, Mackie comes from a world of tunnels and black murky water, a world of living dead girls ruled by a little tattooed princess. He is a Replacement - left in the crib of a human baby sixteen years ago. Now, because of fatal allergies to iron, blood, and consecrated ground, Mackie is slowly dying in the human world.

Mackie would give anything to live among us, to practice on his bass or spend time with an oddly intriguing girl called Tate. But when Tate’s baby sister goes missing, Mackie is drawn irrevocably into the underworld of Gentry, know as Mayhem. He must face the dark creatures of the Slag Heaps and find his rightful place, in our world, or theirs.

Edward Scissorhands meets Catcher in the Rye in this wildly imaginative and frighteningly beautiful novel about an unusual boy and his search for a place to belong.

Based on the synopsis on the back of the book, I went into The Replacement expecting a cool, almost reverse Labyrinth. But alas, there was no magical David Bowie, and no dance numbers. All I found was the same problem I’ve been having with a lot of paranormal books lately. I end up liking the world, and a lot of the secondary characters, more than the main plotline and characters.

For me, the world that existed below the ground was beautiful, horrifying, and absolutely fascinating. I could picture the House of Mayhem, and the Morrigan, and the living dead girls in such vivid detail, I found myself sorry to return with Mackie to the normal human world. I wanted so much more of this mysterious world. The Morrigan especially! She was so cute and childlike, yet adult and sinister all at once. Her snuggly closeness quickly made her, without competition, my favorite character in the whole book.

As for the human world? Well, it was just a whole village full of scared people in denial. Nothing really appealing about it. The best advice you can give your kid is to not be unique, but blend in. However, for everyone so seemingly steeped in denial, it struck me as really strange when some of the characters didn’t bat an eyelash at some of the weird stuff going on. Little zombie girl? I’d freak. Doors popping out of garbage heaps? I’d run the other way. A freaky queen who likes to eat babies? I’d check myself into an institution. But no one seems to question the strangeness of it all. Maybe the teens in Gentry are immune to the denial? Or, at least a select few.

One thing I really did appreciate, however, was the realism of the way the teens spoke. I liked that there was a bunch of swearing, because it felt so much more real that way. In a lot of YA, it seems the intent is to be a “clean” read - no cussing, no physical contact beyond kissing. Well, The Replacement got it right. The kids swear when they’re mad or confused, and there’s quite a bit of inappropriate touching and staring. Most books from a boy’s perspective (especially those written by women) tend to skim over some details about where their minds are. But no, the author just flat out lets you know Mackie isn’t really paying attention to the teacher, he’s staring at some girl’s boobs. I laughed. And it made me feel like the characters were a little more real.

As for the characters themselves? The secondary cast stole the show to me, especially “Them”, the underground folk. Mackie annoyed me occasionally - he came off a bit whiny, weak, and pathetic in some scenes. I really found myself just honestly wishing he’d grow a spine and do something. Tate was likable enough, though I felt no chemistry between her and Mackie. She felt like a convenient plot point. No interest in her until her sister vanishes, then suddenly, it’s all about her. Something just didn’t click with that relationship to me. Roswell was an awesome best friend, though his lack of asking questions and demanding answers about all the weird stuff going on was a little strange. I would have actually liked a little more detail about him and his family, though.

*Spoiler* I was also totally confused by the end. The Cutter gets hit by a crowbar (and by the way, where did she pull that from? Did she really hide a crowbar in her boot?) a couple of times and backs out? What kind of villain is he? I was expecting epic fight to the death - not a quick surrender from the man who apparently loved pain! And what a bunch of lame servants the Lady has. No one defended her at all! The ending to me felt really rushed, and sort of anti-climactic. It just didn’t flow right. *Spoiler*

The Final Word: All in all, a pretty good supernatural read. The prose is elegant and haunting, and the world is beautifully creepy. I appreciate that this is a standalone novel, but I think I could have stood it to be a little longer. Some parts ended up feeling rushed. Mackie is a bit of a wimp, but a strong minor character cast make up for it.


Tea: There is a local shop in my town that makes their own teabags, and I would definitely pick their Jasmine Green Tea to go with this. It’s a very earthy, rich tea that makes me think of rainy days and dark corners. Perfect for such a creepy book about magical underground societies. 

Monday, March 14, 2011

A peek into the Wizarding World of Harry Potter...

So a couple of you have asked for more pictures, and I'm only too happy to oblige. ;D I didn't have a wide range to choose from because my camera is only so-so, and I was a little too overwhelmed with excitement to take enough pictures. But that only means I have to go back down, right? :D

Opening view of Hogsmeade.

Sign above The Three Broomsticks.

Another view of the castle - it was so huge! All the people look like little ants compared to it.

The Weasley Ford Anglia.

Traditional English breakfast from The Three Broomsticks - so much food, but so good. I'd never had black pudding before.

Hog's Head Bar. ;D The head would move and snort occasionally.

House points! Poor Ravenclaw. :(

Entrance to Dumbledore's office.

One of the rooms in the castle - it felt like it went on forever. It was too dark to see whether any of the portraits were actually moving or not.

I just thought it was funny that anything that was 'employees only' said 'No Muggles' instead.

The Sorting Hat! He moved and talked too.

Beauxbatons and Durmstrang students - they did the dance routines from the fourth film.

The sign for Ollivander's.

Inside of Ollivander's - it was so perfect! It was messy and there were wands absolutely everywhere. Stack on the stares, on the counter, on the floor - literally crammed everywhere.

The Monster Book of Monsters. He was so cute! He'd come up to the side of the cage and growl and snap.

And last, but not least, a quick walk down Hogsmeade village and up to the castle. Sorry for the shaky camera. Oh, and the screeching mandrakes.