Saturday, October 31, 2009

Meeting Catherine Gilbert Murdock!

I've had a great deal of fun recently! It's taken me a while to get this up, but on Tuesday I got to meet the amazing Catherine Gilbert Murdock, author of Princess Ben and the Dairy Queen trilogy. Catherine and her sister Elizabeth, author of the popular Eat, Pray, Love and several other books, were special guest lecturers at my college. I was very sad to find out that I wouldn't be able to attend their lecture due to a conflict with my terrible PE class that I loathe. However, this ended up being a good thing because in consolation I got to go to the invite only breakfast the next morning. The breakfast was so much fun! Being me, I got there 10 minutes early and was the only one in the building for a while. When everyone started arriving I sat down with a girl that I didn't know, and then another girl sat with us as well. The sisters came in, and much to my surprise and pleasure Catherine sat down beside me. I would like to think that I stayed calm and composed, but inside I was having a total fangirl moment. She chatted with all of us about random things (red hair and secret compartments, for example) as we ate. Then I revealed that I was a blogger, and she talked about how much she loves us, and that she reads our reviews. That made me so happy, and then she said that she'd read my reviews of her books! Excited doesn't begin to cover it. After chatting she and Elizabeth went to answer questions and were tons of fun. I also now have a very lovely SIGNED copy of Dairy Queen. Then I continued to talk to her (she liked my jacket :) ) and am currently compiling a list of YA fantasy books for her to read! I still can't believe she asked me for reading suggestions! Yet again, I forgot to take pictures, so you'll have to trust me about how much fun it was. I had a great time. Catherine is amazingly cool and I can't wait to read the rest of her books!!!

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Waiting on Wednesday

Just in time for Valentine’s Day comes a confection from David Levithan that is sure to appeal to fans of Boy Meets Boy. Here are 18 stories, all about love, and about all kinds of love. From the aching for the one you pine for, to standing up and speaking up for the one you love, to pure joy and happiness, these love stories run the gamut of that emotion that at some point has turned every one of us inside out and upside down. What is love? With this original story collection David Levithan proves that love is a many splendored thing, a varied, complicated, addictive, wonderful thing.

Two words-David Levithan. One of the luminaries of quirky YA realistic fiction has a short story collection about love. That's so amazing. I'm incredibly excited for this one. Levithan is able to capture teenagers as they really are and not as some stereotype. I'm looking forward to how he will capture love in all its dimensions.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Dairy Queen

When you don’t talk, there’s a lot of stuff that ends up not getting said.

Harsh words indeed, from Brian Nelson of all people. But, D. J. can’t help admitting, maybe he’s right.

When you don’t talk, there’s a lot of stuff that ends up not getting said.

Stuff like why her best friend, Amber, isn’t so friendly anymore. Or why her little brother, Curtis, never opens his mouth. Why her mom has two jobs and a big secret. Why her college-football-star brothers won’t even call home. Why her dad would go ballistic if she tried out for the high school football team herself. And why Brian is so, so out of her league.

When you don’t talk, there’s a lot of stuff that ends up not getting said.

Welcome to the summer that fifteen-year-old D. J. Schwenk of Red Bend, Wisconsin, learns to talk, and ends up having an awful lot of stuff to say.

Beth says 4.5 Stars...
I have found a new series to love. Generally I'm not the biggest fan of realistic fiction, but I couldn't help being pulled into D. J.'s world. I know what it's like to grow up in a small town and Murdock captured that perfectly. The first person stylizing worked well with the story; it was interesting to get a glimpse into D. J.'s mind. I felt like the plot moved a bit slowly at times, but it always picked back up before I got bored. The characters were interesting, but a few lacked depth. Most of them, however, felt like real people; shortcomings and all. D. J. wasn't a typical heroine, but that was her charm. I felt as though she could really be out there somewhere milking cows. I also enjoyed her relationship with Brian and thought that it grew beautifully. I'm not a very big football fan, so more than a few things went totally over my head. Despite my lack of football knowledge, the story was simple delightful. It managed to stay fun without becoming fluffy and pointless. I have the second book in the series on my bookshelf and I can't wait to read it. Murdock didn't disappoint me with this book, and I have a new author to follow.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Fun Stuff at the Library! (and the Fact That Carrie Ryan is Pretty Awesome!)

Today the library beside my college had a special zombie party, where the guest of honor was none other than Carrie Ryan! It was tons of fun. I felt a little old as one of two college students there, but it was so great that I didn't particularly mind. Carrie was lovely, she answered questions about all sorts of different things, such as why zombies and information about the movie! She also showed us her hot off the presses ARC of The Dead Tossed Waves and read the first couple of pages. The wait until March is going to kill me! I have no pictures because I was a total dork and left my camera in my room, but Carrie signed my copy of The Forest of Hands and Teeth (which if you haven't read yet you should read right now). Afterwards Carrie and I chatted a little bit about some random stuff. It was a blast and Carrie Ryan really is awesome.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Waiting on Wednesday

Grace Divine, daughter of the local pastor, always knew something terrible happened the night Daniel Kalbi disappeared—the night she found her brother Jude collapsed on the porch, covered in blood. But she has no idea what a truly monstrous secret that night really held. And when Daniel returns three years later, Grace can no longer deny her attraction to him, despite promising Jude she’ll stay away.

As Grace gets closer to Daniel, her actions stir the ancient evil Daniel unleashed that horrific night. Grace must discover the truth behind Jude and Daniel's dark secret . . . and the cure that can save the ones she loves. But she may have to lay down the ultimate sacrifice to do it—her soul.


This book sounds fascinating. I love the creep factor that I get from the summary. It looks like there will be a good deal of mystery, which is always a plus. Then there's the cover. It's beyond amazing and beautiful; it just draws me in. Kudos to whoever designed it. I've also been hearing really good things about the story (it has a quote from Lesley Livingston; come on!). I'm always up for a creepy paranormal romance. December will be a while, but hopefully it will be worth the wait.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

House of Dance

Rosie and her mother coexist in the same house as near strangers. Since Rosie's father abandoned them years ago, her mother has accomplished her own disappearing act, spending more time with her boss than with Rosie. Now faced with losing her grandfather too, Rosie begins to visit him every day, traveling across town to his house, where she helps him place the things that matter most to him "In Trust." As Rosie learns her grandfather's story, she discovers the role music and motion have played in it. But like colors, memories fade. When Rosie stumbles into the House of Dance, she finally finds a way to restore the source of her grandfather's greatest joy.

Beth says 4 Stars...
I picked up this book because I had heard good things about Beth Kephart from a friend. I love Kephart's prose. It is just beautiful. It feels like showering it with praise is ridiculous because it is lovely for its simplicity. Nothing is ever overstated; everything just falls into place perfectly. It felt as though the writing became like a dance, fluid and in motion, during the scences in the studio. The descriptions of everything were so vivid and brilliant. Everything about the writing was amazing. It was so striking; I just can't stop raving about how amazing it was. The plot was decent, but I didn't feel that it was extraordinary. It flowed very well, but I wasn't really drawn in by the story. It had a way of meandering and seeming to go nowhere for long periods of time. The characters were interesting, but didn't blow me away. I'm not saying that they were flat and did nothing, however they didn't leap off of the page. I think that everything else just pales in comparison to the phenominal writing. When I'm talking about the writing, I'm talking about how the words are fit together. They weave in and out of one another as a seamless whole, working together to create brilliant images. This is a book filled with love and learning how to live. This is for someone who wants to be moved while reading or just wants to read some breathtaking writing.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

The Society of Unrelenting Vigilance

Murder, mystery, and adventure aren’t your typical birthday presents . . .
But for Theo, anything that breaks up his ordinary routine is the perfect gift.
A mysterious “illness” and Theo’s guardians force him into a life indoors, where gloves must be worn and daily medical treatments are the norm. When Theo discovers a suspicious package on his birthday, one person from the past will unlock the secret behind Theo’s “illness” and change his life forever.
Molded into an exhilarating steampunk adventure that gives birth to the next great fantasy hero, Theo Wickland, Candle Man: The Society of Unrelenting Vigilance is the first book in a trilogy by debut author Glenn Dakin.

Beth says 3.5 Stars...
I was really excited when I got this book in the mail. The premise sounded so great and interesting, plus it had the word steampunk in the description. Unfortunately it didn't live up to my expectation. This book wasn't bad. That all I can really say about it. The language, particularly in reference to the different organizations, really reminded me of Lemony Snicket. The premise for Theo's "disease" is really interesting, and revealed slowly throughout the novel. I felt like the rest of the plot didn't flow too well. This book crossed over the line from having an air of mystery to making me confused for large amounts of time. The writing wasn't great, but it was good. That is my main impression of this book. It was just mediocre. Nothing except the premise was that extraordinary. It sounds like I'm being really negative, but I'm really not trying to be. I did have fun reading it, and it isn't bad at all. The action kept on throughout the book, and moved things forward. For a reader who doesn't have a lot of time, though, I would pass on this one. However, this could be a really good read for a slightly reluctant middle grade male reader because of the action and interesting premise. Overall, this one is just in the middle, but could be a lot of fun for some readers.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Waiting on Wednesday

Discover the fate of Wonderland- and imagination itself- in this riveting conclusion to the New York Times bestselling trilogy.

The Heart Crystal’s power has been depleted, and Imagination along with it. The people of Wonderland have all lost their creative drive, and most alarmingly, even Queen Alyss is without her powers. There is some comfort in the fact that the vicious Redd Heart seems to be similarly disabled. Amazingly, she is attempting to team up with her enemy, Alyss, in order to reclaim Wonderland from King Arch. Alyss might have no choice but to accept Redd’s overtures, especially when she begins to receive alarming advice from the caterpillar oracles.

Page-turning and complex, this culmination of the Wonderland saga is intensely satisfying.


The first two books in this series have been great, so there's no reason to think that this would be any different. I love the different look at Wonderland. Right now I'm also working on a production of Alice in Wonderland and so I can't get enough of it! This one comes out soon, so hopefully there will be a fantastic end to the series.

Sunday, October 11, 2009


Forget everything you ever knew about unicorns . . .

Real unicorns are venomous, man-eating monsters with huge fangs and razor-sharp horns. Fortunately, they've been extinct for a hundred and fifty years.

Or not.

Astrid had always scoffed at her eccentric mother's stories about killer unicorns. But when one of the monsters attacks her boyfriend—thereby ruining any chance of him taking her to the prom—Astrid finds herself headed to Rome to train as a unicorn hunter at the ancient cloisters the hunters have used for centuries.

However, at the cloisters all is not what it seems. Outside, the unicorns wait to attack. And within, Astrid faces other, unexpected threats: from the crumbling, bone-covered walls that vibrate with a terrible power to the hidden agendas of her fellow hunters to—perhaps most dangerously of all—her growing attraction to a handsome art student . . . an attraction that could jeopardize everything.


Beth says 5 Stars...

This book totally rocked my socks off. First of all, I absolutely adore the concept. My high school's mascot was the unicorn, so I have a special connection with all things involving unicorns. I'm also completely serious about the mascot. There was a reason we didn't have a football team. I loved the different take on unicorns, particularly the fact that they are now vicious. If that gets into the mainstream maybe my high school's team will be feared. Back to the book, though. I loved Astrid. She kicks butt in so many ways. Plus, she's a science nerd like me. Chem major all the way! The characters were all very layered and unexpected, with none of them conforming to stereotypes. The jock was extremely nice and grounded, while the girls who appeared to be nasty ended up having hearts. Then there were the boys. Who doesn't love a guy that enjoys art and speaks Italian? (melt) I thought that the idea of the cloisters was interesting and allowed the relationships between the characters to become more intense without feeling artificial. The plot pulled me in and never let up. There was tons of action, but also a great deal of devellopment of ideas. I felt the complexity of the legend grow as I read, and I thought that was very clever. The book was well written also. There was a flow to everything, and even when things got a little choppy it felt like it should have been that way. It always worked with what was going on in the story. I think that everyone should read this book for its new take on unicorns and learn to fear them. Go Unis!

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Going Bovine

All 16-year-old Cameron wants is to get through high school—and life in general—with a minimum of effort. It’s not a lot to ask. But that’s before he’s given some bad news: he’s sick and he’s going to die. Which totally sucks. Hope arrives in the winged form of Dulcie, a loopy punk angel/possible hallucination with a bad sugar habit. She tells Cam there is a cure—if he’s willing to go in search of it. With the help of a death-obsessed, video-gaming dwarf and a yard gnome, Cam sets off on the mother of all road trips through a twisted America into the heart of what matters most.

Nathan says 5 stars...
I literally just finished this book. As in I turned the final page about 3 minutes ago. I'm still in a state of shock. That's how good this book is. Note the lack of compound sentences. I'm incapable of complex thought. My processes are being dedicated to figuring out/savoring/loving Going Bovine. I knew that I would probably like this book, I mean, it's Libba Bray. The Gemma Doyle Trilogy is Victorian candy, and her blog is a must read if you like writing, laughing, or living. What I didn't know about this book is that it would, make me invested, make me think, make me laugh, make me distraught, and make me want to live my life to its fullest. Every moment was spectacular and beautiful. It felt organic. The writing was bold, fresh, and perfect. The dialouge felt both surreal and real showcasing Bray's skill. The most stunning thing about Going Bovine has to be her cast of characters. I loved every single character. They all made sense. They all helped the story. The protaginist Cameron is an appropriate semi-blank canvas on which Bray later paints life and love. Gonzo is the unexpected best friend who is dealing with his own identity issues. Balder is the indestructable Norse God yard gnome who brings an old world sensibility and new world kick-buttery to the table. Dulcie is a punk rock angel who tries to guide Cameron and crew through a road trip filled chock full of epicness. This mix of original characters sucks the reader in with a shocking immediacy into an impeccably crafted story. If you like life, laughter, and butt-kicking gnomes Going Bovine is absolutely necessary to life...whatever that is.

Friday, October 2, 2009

Love Is Hell

Sure, love is hell. But it,s totally worth it.

In these supernatural stories by five of today's hottest writers—Melissa Marr (Wicked Lovely), Scott Westerfeld (Specials), Justine Larbalestier (Magic or Madness), Gabrielle Zevin (Elsewhere), and Laurie Faria Stolarz (Blue is for Nightmares)—love may be twisted and turned around, but it's more potent than ever on its quest to conquer all.

From two students who let the power of attraction guide them to break the hard-and-fast rules of their world to the girl who falls hard for a good-looking ghost with a score to settle, the clever, quirky characters in this exciting collection will break your heart, then leave you believing in love more than ever.


Beth says 4 Stars...

I was really excited about this book because it has 4 of my favorite authors in it. Overall this book lived up to my expectations, but not entirely. The one story that I felt really didn't rise to the occasion was the one by Gabrielle Zevin. It was written in a very choppy style, and the plot was hard to follow despite its brevity. At the end of the story I still had no idea what had happened. I was confuzzled, which is worse than confused. My favorite story was probably the one by Justine Larbalestier, but Melissa Marr's was a very close second. They were both original, and captured my attention. A rustic and magical village and the modern seaside provide settings for these tales. Marr's take on the selkie skin was just brilliant, and very different than what I had expected. Larbalestier created a hauntingly compelling story that I couldn't stop thinking about. Even while I was trying to sleep it crept into my thoughts. It wasn't that the book was bad, it was just that I expected more. Overall, it was very enjoyable, but I suffered from a case of extreme expectations. It's still good to pick up if you love these