Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone

Orphaned as a baby, Harry Potter has spent 11 awful years living with his mean aunt, uncle, and cousin Dudley. But everything changes for Harry when an owl delivers a mysterious letter inviting him to attend a school for wizards. At this special school, Harry finds friends, aerial sports, and magic in everything from classes to meals, as well as a great destiny that's been waiting for him...if Harry can survive the encounter.
from bn.com

Nathan says 5 stars...
So, Beth and I are embarking on a journey to reread and review the Harry Potter novels before the premiere of Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince in July. I realize I'm reviewing something that is viewed as sacred in many people's eyes, which is a little scary. Here I go though. Everyone knows about Harry, so I find it too obvious to elaborate on how lovable and wonderful the central characters in the novel are. Rowling does such a great job making her audience feel for her characters, and we certainly do hold a pity/hope for Harry. As we all know, Harry makes it to Hogwarts where we meet the rest of the crew whose stories we will learn over the next six volumes of an absolutely revolutionary series. The story in Sorcerer's Stone is fast-paced, but as a whole the book functions as an introduction to the rest of the series. It serves as a crash course in the world of wizardry, and it does very admirably. The book has a good plot, though not one that is revolutionary. Enjoyment is the aim here, and it works. This book burns through the reader's veins, leaving them gasping for more. There isn't much to say beyond the fact that this book started a movement in children's and YA literature. It made reading cool and accessible. This is the ember that lit millions of fires-fires that burn with a passion for reading. All I can really say is - get lit.

Free Books for You

Hey everyone, our new contest starts today. We're giving away the Evernight series by Claudia Gray. That's right-you get both Evernight and Stargazer if you win. Here are the rules.
+1 entry for commenting below and telling us your best name for a vampire boarding school.
+1 entry for tweeting about the contest and including a link in your tweet. If you tweet give us a link to your profile so we can check.
+2 entries for being or becoming a follower of in BetweeN the pages.
+2 entries for blogging about this contest or hosting a link in your sidebar. Give us the link for the blog for the extra entries.
The contest will end July 27, 2009.
US residents only-sorry!

Best of luck and much love to everyone.

Saturday, June 27, 2009

My Fair Godmother

Finding your one true love can be a Grimm experience!
After her boyfriend dumps her for her older sister, sophomore Savannah Delano wishes she could find a true prince to take her to the prom. Enter Chrissy (Chrysanthemum) Everstar: Savannah’s gum-chewing, cell phone–carrying, high heel-wearing Fair Godmother. Showing why she’s only Fair—because she’s not a very good fairy student—Chrissy mistakenly sends Savannah back in time to the Middle Ages, first as Cinderella, then as Snow White. Finally she sends Tristan, a boy in Savannah’s class, back instead to turn him into her prom-worthy prince. When Savannah returns to the Middle Ages to save Tristan, they must team up to defeat a troll, a dragon, and the mysterious and undeniably sexy Black Knight. Laughs abound in this clever fairy tale twist from a master of romantic comedy.
from amazon.com

Beth says 4 Stars...

This book was the height of fluff. I especially loved the inattentive, shopaholic, and bumbling "fair" godmother Chrissy who refused to answer calls. She's not good enough to be a fairy godmother, so she's just considered a fair one. The twists on fairy tales were just interesting enough to keep me involved, but they didn't completely ruin them. Imagine being stuck in the Middle Ages in a fairy tale. Snow White is an airheaded idiot and lives with the seven dwarfs that don't have names like Sleepy and Dopey. I love how the different fairy tales all collided. I felt that Savannah was a good character who matured and grew throughout the plot. The plot was fast and kept my interest. There was nothing too surprising or extraordinary about it, but there really didn't need to be. It was light, cute, and fun. This is a great light fantasy read for the beach.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Waiting on Wednesday

The series that put a spell on half a million young adult readers continues . . .in graphic novel format! Prophetic nightmares. Near-brushes with death. Killers pursuing her and her friends. Stacey Brown knows that being a hereditary witch isn't all it's cracked up to be.
All she really wants to do is work things out with Jacob and figure out what to do with the rest of her life. But before Stacey and Jacob can have a future, they must face their pasts. Black is for Beginnings reveals the never-before-seen backstory—and what lies ahead—for the young, spellcasting lovers. It's happening again . . .

from amazon.com

We seriously love Laura Faria Stolarz, even if her name is a tongue-twister. The Blue is for Nightmares series went around our friends faster than malaria at a mosquito farm. Her books are so interesting and the graphic novel angle will just compound all that lovliness. Backstory is also a great thing in a good series, and this definitely qualifies as a good series. Graphic novels aren't normally our thing, but this time, we think it will really work-here's hoping.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

ghostgirl Homecoming

Heaven couldn't be a phone bank, could it?

Charlotte Usher discovers that the afterlife isn't quite what she pictured when she's forced to intern at a hotline for troubled teens. Before she can officially cross over, she'll have to be a source of guidance for one such teen. The problem is she doesn't have much advice to offer since dying hasn't exactly boosted her confidence level.

But when Hawthorne High's leading, love-to-hate cheerleader Petula and her gothic little sis' Scarlet find themselves suddenly resting-in-peace in comas, Charlotte's opportunity to save them will prove to be the risk of a lifetime-for all of them.
from amazon.com

Beth says 4 Stars...

This was better than the first one, but still not amazing. It was good and fun, but not great. Thankfully, I found Charlotte to be much less annoying than she was in the first book, especially by the end. The new characters introduced filled their roles perfectly, especially Maddy. I think that she was one of the reasons that Charlotte became more likable. The rest of the characters all gained more depth. The biggest problem that I had with the book was that there wasn't a really great plot. It took me about half of the book to get into it. Before that, I had to make myself keep reading. It did get interesting and fast moving, but it just took way too long. I felt that the satire in this book was sharper, and I really appreciated that. The commentary about beauty and popularity is biting, and all too right. This is a good book for those who enjoyed the first ghostgirl book. I would suggest this to people who enjoy satire. This was a slight improvement over the first book, but I still feel that this series has the potential to be much better.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009


Not all dreams are sweet.

For seventeen-year-old Janie, getting sucked into other people's dreams is getting old. Especially the falling dreams, the naked-but-nobody-notices dreams, and the sex-crazed dreams. Janie's seen enough fantasy booty to last her a lifetime.

She can't tell anybody about what she does -- they'd never believe her, or worse, they'd think she's a freak. So Janie lives on the fringe, cursed with an ability she doesn't want and can't control.

from amazon.comhen she falls into a gruesome nightmare, one that chills her to the bone. For the first time, Janie is more than a witness to someone else's twisted psyche. She is a participant....

Beth says 4.5 Stars...

This is an unusual book. It definitely threw me for a loop. What made it so wonky (at least when I first started reading it) was the way it was written. Everything was short, fragmented, and jumpy, and it left me more than a bit confused. However, as the story progressed I realized that the writing was perfect for the book. Janie's confusion was what the reader felt; it made her instantly easier to connect with. Because of this, I was able to connect with her despite the fact that we are very different. For a good part of the book it didn't feel like there was any plot, but as I kept reading one began to emerge. This novel is a page turner. I was gripped and couldn't put the book down. It's a good thing that it's short, otherwise I might still be reading and doing nothing else. This is a perfect summer read for those who aren't content with pure fluff. This book makes you look at your dreams a little bit differently, and wonder who's watching.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

20 Things in 20 Days: Bonus Clue

Guess what?!? To celebrate the launch of Twenty Boy Summer by Sarah
Ockler, I’m blogging a bonus clue for the 20 Things in 20 Days
Scavenger Hunt. Answer clues and challenges to earn points
toward the 20 Things grand prize, including 6 signed
books from 2009 debut authors! Get a clue...
June 11th-30th at 20 Things in 20 Days!
In Twenty Boy Summer, Anna and Frankie get to see their favorite band live in concert! For a 20 Things bonus clue, tell us in the comments about your first or your most memorable concert experience.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Twenty Boy Summer

"Don't worry, Anna. I'll tell her, okay? Just let me think about the best way to do it."
"Promise me? Promise you won't say anything?"
"Don't worry." I laughed. "It's our secret, right?"
According to her best friend Frankie, twenty days in ZanzibarBay is the perfect opportunity to have a summer fling, and if they meet one boy ever day, there's a pretty good chance Anna will find her first summer romance. Anna lightheartedly agrees to the game, but there's something she hasn't told Frankie---she's already had that kind of romance, and it was with Frankie's older brother, Matt, just before his tragic death one year ago.
from amazon.com

Beth says 4.5 stars...
This is a perfect summer read. There's enough fun and lightness in it to make it enjoyable, but there's more to the story. It could have been about two friends trying to have the perfect summer romance, but it wasn't just that. This was a story of people trying to deal with tremendous grief in different ways. There was so much heart. With the title and cover (there's no magic involved) I wouldn't have picked it up on my own, but I'm glad I read it. The relationships between the characters were all very murky, and I enjoyed it. Everyone is in a place of confusion, and it affects all aspects of their lives. The characters were all well done, but at times felt a bit blah. I could predict some of the things that they did when I wasn't supposed to. The plot flowed well and remained interesting throughout the novel. I loved the layering of emotions in the book. This is a lovely debut from a talented author. Everyone should grab this book and some tissues on the way to the beach, especially if it's a girls weekend!

Nathan says 4.5 stars...
I want to tell everyone out there that this is not a girls-only book. Sure, maybe it's more aimed at a female audience, but I really enjoyed this one. It perfectly captured the darkness and confusion of loss and what it takes to move forward. The characters are identifiable, but the details make them fresh. The story isn't the most original, but it's life and quality give it substance. 20 Boy Summer is almost a reinvention of the typical summer novel. It's airy and bright, but with a point. Ockler's writing is fantastic here. It's the perfect amount of description mixed with excellently used undercurrent and tone. Her writing is poignant, clever, and really pretty heart-wrenching. My favorite part of this book was the last few chapters. It's an explosion of emotion, which ends with the perfect message- that there's always hope. This debut novel is definitely worth checking out, particularly if it can get this fantasy lover to give it a glowing review.

P.S. - Stay tuned-we're hosting a clue in Sarah's 20 Things Scavenger Hunt. You can win all sorts of cool stuff from the amazing Sarah Ockler. Aren't you excited? We are!

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Wondrous Strange

Kelley Winslow is living her dream. Seventeen years old, she has moved to New York City and started work with a theatre company. Sure, she's an understudy for the Avalon Players, a third-tier repertory company so far off-Broadway it might as well be in Hoboken, but things are looking up—the lead has broken her ankle and Kelley's about to step into the role of Titania the Fairy Queen in Shakespeare's A Midsummer Night's Dream. Faeries are far more real than Kelley thinks, though, and a chance encounter in Central Park with a handsome young man will plunge her into an adventure she could never have imagined.
For Sonny Flannery, one of the Janus Guards charged by Auberon, the King of Winter, with watching over the gate into the lands of Faerie that lies within Central Park, the pretty young actress presents an enigma. Strong and willful, she sparks against his senses like a firecracker and he can't get her out of his mind. As Hallowe'en approaches and the Samhain Gate opens, Sonny and Kelley find themselves drawn to each other—and into a terrible plot that could spell disaster for both New York and Faerie alike.
from lesleylivingston.com

Beth says 5 Stars...
I've wanted this book for a while. I'll admit, it was the title that first captured my attention and inspired a serious case of book lust. The cover is so striking and pulled me in, but the story kept me enthralled. I'm a theater kid and love Shakespeare. In particular, I love A Midsummer Night's Dream (I've read it more than a few times). I loved how Livingston wove Shakespeare's tale with her own. I also enjoyed the realistic depiction of theater rehearsals. Kelley was an interesting heroine, at times confused and at other times defiant. Her relationship with Sonny was fascinating. I loved how changelings and the faerie courts were incorporated. This book felt fresh and new, putting interesting twists on the known. The plot moved along rapidly, and I was unable to put the book down. There were a few twists and turns, including a major one near the end. The enjoyable cast of supporting characters constantly added layers of richness to the tale. I was astonished to find that this is a debut, and can't wait to see more from Ms. Livingston. This is a beautiful tale full of magic that lovers of fantasy and Shakespeare will enjoy.

Monday, June 15, 2009

Tears of a Tiger

Tigers don't cry, or do they? After the death of his longtime friend and fellow Hazelwood Tiger, Andy, the driver of the car, blames himself and cannot get past his guilt and pain. While his other friends have managed to work through their grief and move on, Andy allows death to become the focus of his life. In the months that follow the accident, the lives of Andy and his friends are traced through a series of letters, articles, homework assignments, and dialogues, and it becomes clear that Tigers do indeed need to cry.
from sharondraper.com

Nathan says 5 stars...
Sharon Draper wouldn't seem like an obvious choice for one of my favorite authors, but her combination of riveting story, intense writing, and non-stop action definitely put her in the list. I love her, so so much. If you cry easily, bring tissues whenever you read Tears of a Tiger. Tears of a Tiger is a vacuum of emotion, and the reader feels it deeply. The book is a quick read that is fully satisfying. This one is part of a trilogy, so reading them in order is advised. The characters are a bit stock, but Draper does a good job of rounding them into real people, but their classically defined edges are occasionally visible. Action deals more with the internal than the external, which I personally like. Writing is purposely a little disjointed and staccato, and it works very well for this novel. (Breaking the fourth wall, I'm aware that this review is also disjointed and staccato, and I apologize. Their has been a drought of reviews because Beth and I have been dealing with multiple graduations and technical difficulties. We promise to be better.) If you like realistic fiction, drama, or romance this book is definitely for you. Even if none of those genres is your niche, I urge you to give it a try. I'm a fantasy-centric, and I love this book deeply. I'm just saying-you may be surprised.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Waiting on Wednesday

Times are hard in the mountain city of Fellsmarch. Reformed thief Han Alister will do almost anything to eke out a living for himself, his mother, and his sister Mari. Ironically, the only thing of value he has is something he can't sell. For as long as Han can remember, he's worn thick silver cuffs engraved with runes. They're clearly magicked-as he grows, they grow, and he's never been able to get them off.
While out hunting one day, Han and his Clan friend, Dancer catch three young wizards setting fire to the sacred mountain of Hanalea. After a confrontation, Han takes an amulet from Micah Bayar, son of the High Wizard, to ensure the boy won't use it against them. Han soon learns that the amulet has an evil history-it once belonged to the Demon King, the wizard who nearly destroyed the world a millennium ago. With a magical piece that powerful at stake, Han knows that the Bayars will stop at nothing to get it back.
Meanwhile, Raisa ana'Helena, Princess Heir of the Fells, has her own battles to fight. She's just returned to court after three years of relative freedom with her father's family at Demonai camp - riding, hunting, and working the famous Clan markets. Although Raisa will become eligible for marriage after her sixteenth name-day, she isn't looking forward to trading in her common sense and new skills for etiquette tutors and stuffy parties.
Raisa wants to be more than an ornament in a glittering cage. She aspires to be like Hanalea-the legendary warrior queen who killed the Demon King and saved the world. But it seems like her mother has other plans for her--plans that include a suitor who goes against everything the Queendom stands for.
from amazon.com

We seriously love this Cinda Williams Chima. Have you read that summary? That is fantasy heaven, and I will say no more on the topic. We will anxiously await until October (October?!?!?!) and I'm sure we'll lap up every word.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009


Now I lay me down to sleep,

I pray the Lord my soul to keep.

And if I should die before I awake,

I pray the popular attend my wake.

Charlotte Usher feels practically invisible at school, and then one day she really is invisible. Even worse: she's dead. And all because she choked on a gummy bear. But being dead doesn't stop Charlotte from wanting to be popular; it just makes her more creative about achieving her goal.

If you thought high school was a matter of life or death, wait till you see just how true that is. In this satirical, yet heartfelt novel, Hurley explores the invisibility we all feel at some times and the lengths we'll go to be seen.
from amazon.com

Beth says 4 Stars...
This book was fun. I enjoyed reading it. The biggest problem I had was that I was unable to really connect with the plot. It didn't suck me in; I was able to put it down. The characters were all fairly stereotypical, but that was the point. This book looked at all of the stereotypes that exist in high school and blew them up. The addition of death and coming back after death just made it more interesting. The concept was really great, but I just don't feel like it was realized to its full potential. Despite the shortcoming that I felt it had, it was still something that I found fun to read. The characters were all engaging, although at times Charlotte's single-mindedness was a touch annoying. They all played their parts perfectly, and really made the book enjoyable. This is a good read for those who like observing and poking fun at the stereotypes of high school. I can't wait to read the next book, which comes out soon.

Monday, June 8, 2009


About three things I was absolutely positive:

First, Edward was a vampire.
Second, there was a part of him–and I didn’t know how dominant that part might be–that thirsted for my blood.
And third, I was unconditionally and irrevocably in love with him.

Isabella Swan's move to Forks, a small, perpetually rainy town in Washington, could have been the most boring move she ever made. But once she meets the mysterious and alluring Edward Cullen, Isabella's life takes a thrilling and terrifying turn. Up until now, Edward has managed to keep his vampire identity a secret in the small community he lives in, but now nobody is safe, especially Isabella, the person Edward holds most dear. The lovers find themselves balanced precariously on the point of a knife -- between desire and danger.

from bn.com

Nathan says 4 stars...

Every teen reader in the world has heard of this book. Most of those readers have an opinion on it too, mindless adoration by some, seething hate by others. I personally fall somewhere between. I'm going to be incredibly honest. Stephanie Meyer is not the best writer at the beginning of Twilight. Her prose is crude and clunky, and the dialogue is occasionally cringe-worthy. By the last of the book, and definitely by the end of the series, Meyer is an exponentially better writer. The draw of the story lies more with the plot. Impossible love and mythical creatures are standbys of teen fiction, and they are effectively used in Twilight. The characters are pretty interesting, and well-conceived. Whatever you do though, don't question the reality of the book, or the premise just falls to pieces. I understand that it's fiction, but some of the character's actions and thoughts seem too implausible, but don't pay attention to that if you want to enjoy the book. I always find chauvinistic underpinnings in this series. Seriosly, Bella-so helpless? In the end, this book is a great fun, light (emphasis on light) read. I read the entire series in a long-weekend at the beach. I just sat on the porch and read through. An apt analogy would be Pringles-irresistible, but totally empty calories. There's nothing wrong with it, but don't expect anything fully satisfying or earth-shattering. New Moon is a completely different story though-think Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix. It's a big angst-fest, fed with loads of inaction, and topped off with a dash of crazy. Anyway, the point was, read Twilight for some fun weekend reading if you want an easy, quick read.

P.S.-The movie is yet another awful rendering of the book. Kristin Stewart's man-voice and lack of anything resembling personality make Bella seem like a zombie. Also, the hair-dresser for the film should be shot, because he/she is crazy. However, the special effects and scenery were very nice though.

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Waiting on Wednesday

When the uptight Fourth Crown Princess of the Blue Crescent Islands is sent to marry the 'uncouth' Ramil ac Burinholt, heir to the throne of Gerfal, they are both horrified. The princess is used to a life of discipline, ritual and splendour, Ramil to a life spent hunting and carousing. But the countries of both are under threat from the fearsome warlord Fergox Spearthrower and the only chance of peace is for them to form an alliance. So when Ramil and Tashi - as he insists on calling the princess to her annoyance - are kidnapped, things look disastrous. But the kidnap is the start of an exhilarating journey involving circus troupes, bloody battles, unarmed combat, daring escape and breakneck chases. Along the way, Ramil and Tashi learn much about themselves and one another, and through the cast of characters they encounter - a circus strongman, dashing rebels, brave slaves and many ordinary people - they begin to see a way to bring the mighty Fergox Spearthrower low, and save their beautiful lands from devastation and war.
from amazon.com

Wow, this one looks good. Let's look at this, exotic fantasy locations, mismatched love, and war are all great for books-this book combines all three. We really like how original, yet familiar this one seems. It has the elements of classic YA fantasy, but with a fresh twist. The US release date appears to be October aka too long. We'll just suffer until then.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Once Dead, Twice Shy

Madison's prom was killer—literally. For some reason she's been targeted by a dark reaper—yeah, that kind of reaper—intent on getting rid of her, body and soul. But before the reaper could finish the job, Madison was able to snag his strange, glowing amulet and get away. Now she's stuck on Earth—dead but not gone. Somehow the amulet gives her the illusion of a body, allowing her to toe the line between life and death. She still doesn't know why the dark reaper is after her, but she's not about to just sit around and let fate take its course.With a little ingenuity, some light-bending, and the help of a light reaper (one of the good guys! Maybe . . . ), her cute crush, and oh yeah, her guardian angel, Madison's ready to take control of her own destiny once and for all, before it takes control of her. Well, if she believed in that stuff.

from harpercollins.com

Beth says 4 stars...

This book was really cute. The concept was interesting, once I finally was able to figure it out. That was my issue with the book. Things didn't really move along very fast. It took too long to figure out what was going on, and why things were the way they were. Also, some of the characters didn't really get developed. They remained rather flat. Despite these failings, the book managed to be tons of fun to read. I loved the originality of the ideas; I hadn't ever read anything that felt the same. Although I love faerie and vampire books, this was a very nice change of pace. This book is fairly short, and I finished it in a couple of hours. This is a great little paranormal read for the summer. Although it deals with some weighty matters, don't really expect a great deal of philosophical thought. The book leaves at a good place for a sequel to pick up, but who knows. Perhaps that would solve the problem of the underdeveloped characters.

Nathan says 4 stars...

I really liked this one. It was original and pretty fascinating. I found it to be pretty quickly paced, but it did have some awkward lulls. The writing is very nice. Nice vocabulary and good structure, make it easy, but interesting to read. I do have to say that I was really disappointed with some of character development, or lack thereof. I occasionally wanted to throttle Madison, but I generally forgave her. I like the supporting cast, particularly Grace-hilarious. It is pretty light, but watch out for sudden moral heaviness near the end. I mean stuff philosophers have dealt with since there was philosophy;however, the audience making a choice isn't requirement, so it can remain airy. I would like to say that the cover of this book is much "girlier" than its actual contents, so guys, don't be frightened of the fuchsia. Overall, it's a nice preternatural summer read.

Monday, June 1, 2009

Pendragon-The Soldiers of Halla

It has all been leading to this. Every victory. Every loss. All the thrills and sadness; the hope and despair. Bobby Pendragon's heart-pounding journey through time and space has brought him to this epic moment. He and his fellow Travelers must join forces for one last desperate battle against Saint Dane. At stake is not only the tenth and final territory, but all that ever was or will be. Everywhere.This is the war for Halla.Every question is answered. Every truth is revealed.The final battle has begun.
from amazon.com
Nathan says 5 stars...
Once I read the preface of this book, I knew that D.J. MacHale had kicked it into overdrive. The Pendragon series has built its success on the ability to keep readers guessing and completely unsatisfied with the answers provided. MacHale lets you know from the preface onward that this book is all about answers. If you have made it this far in the Pendragon series, you probably know the merits (and downfalls) of the books. The characters are interesting, the plot is blazingly fast, and the writing is very nice. Occasionally, subplots are left untouched for entirely too long to seem relevant once they are continued, but as a reader, I always forgave these slips easily because I still loved the books. MacHale always employed the ominous "all will be revealed" approach, which lead to what seemed like frayed endings to a larger story. In this finale, the reader is able to step back to see exactly how each of this seemingly frayed pieces fits into the larger tapestry of Halla and the Pendragon series. This is absolutely on of the most satisfying conclusions I've ever read. The denouement is one amazing-I won't reveal why though, it really does need to be experienced. Soldiers of Halla is truly on a completely different level than its predecessors. This book is an epic and satisfying conclusion to a wonderful series.