Sunday, March 31, 2013

Rage (Riders of the Apocalypse #2) by Jackie Morse Kessler

These are kind of short books, just about 200 pages, and so I decided to fit them in before some books that I had deadlines for.  Plus, I'm planning to go to the Romantic Times Convention the first weekend in May since it will be here in my hometown this year.  And the author will be here, so that is really exciting!  I've been a fan of this author since I read the first book in this series, Hunger.  I think that book was really easy for me to connect to, as I'm sure for many other females because it is about a girl with an eating disorder.  Food/exercising/weight, are all things I've dealt with in my life.  And so it was kind of a familiar struggle to read about.
This second book, Rage, might not be quite so easy to relate to for people.  The main character is Missy.  And she is a cutter.  She cuts because it helps numb or dull the pain.  She felt as the blood ran out of her that it also let out all the hurt and anger she had inside.  But then her boyfriend, Adam, had seen her marks, and he'd called her a freak, and broken up with her.  Which only made her cut more.  But he didn't just break up with her, he told his friends about it, and now at school she had to deal with the boys that called her names and teased her.  But she had what she called her dead face, that she dealt with those people at school.  To ignore them and not let them see her pain.  The story begins on the day she kills her cat.  She doesn't really kill her cat, that freaked me a bit at first.  I was afraid she was violent to animals since the title of the book was rage.  But she had put her cat to sleep, and she felt guilty for it.  That is something I understand because I've had to put two dogs to sleep.  I felt so guilty for the first one, and the second one.  It's such a hard choice to make.  Because could the vet have helped them if you'd spent more time and money?  Or would they have continued suffering?  So the guilt from that also led to Missy cutting more to release the pain.  Well, the day she lost her cat, Death showed up at her door.  It seems as if she had been really close to killing herself with her cutting that day from the description.  He showed up and gave her a big white box.  She didn't want it, was scared, so slammed the door in Death's face and shoved the big box, onto her closet shelf, which for some reason it was now small enough to fit on.
Death is patient, he knows that soon she will decide to take up the sword and become one of the four Riders, she will become War.  And she does, after she decides to go to a party.  She decides to go after her ex tells her he misses her, both in person at school, as well as through texting.  She also has a bad relationship with her younger sister, who is popular, and is not happy having an emo older sister at school.  All these things spur Missy to go to the party.  Where Adam finds her, and kisses her, and brings back all her old feelings for him.  But he's not really back for her, he's back to humiliate her, which he does.  And now she is ready.  She takes the sword and goes back to the party.  Only they can't see her as a rider, but she does what War does, as she walks by she spreads feelings of anger, rage, and war.  Only afterwards Missy is not pleased about it.  She feels horrible for what she's caused.  And it is this war between herself and what she believes to be "War" that she must fight and decide how will she take up the reins.  Famine, from the first book shows up several times.  Both to prod her into taking the job, as well as to kind of help her become a Rider that will help balance the four.  But Famine is cautious, as the one before her was killed by War, and she was almost killed herself before she had to kill the War before Missy.
And there is a bit of a romantic feeling between Death and Missy, as it would make sense that Death and War would go together.
We also get to meet Pestilence in this book, and he is sick, as you might figure he would be.  But the meeting with him I believe is a good bridge to the next book in the series, as the death of War in the first book brought us to this book.
Such a great series.  The issues tackled that lead to the Riders of the Apocalypse are so real and so pertinent to many teens these days.  As a teacher, I have known kids who cut.  I have heard girls that were as skinny as can be talk about needing to diet and lose weight.  All of these things make me sad.  The food things have always been understandable to me.  And with some depression issues I've had, I've recently begun to understand about the cutting as well.  Not something I'd ever do, I hate pain, pass out when I get shots or give blood, but I can understand the need to not feel pain, and how that could be a way to take your mind off emotional pain.  And I love how at the end of the book the author states that a portion of the proceeds from this book will be donated to To Write Love On Her Arms, a nonprofit organization dedicated to helping people struggling with this issue of self-injury, as well as other similar issues.  If you want more info about  this organization, you can go to their website:  TWLOHA.

Saturday, March 30, 2013

The Eternity Cure (Blood of Eden #2) by Julie Kagawa

Of course I must first say thanks to both Netgalley and Harlequin Teen for allowing me to read this as an e-galley in March.  I just recently finished reading the first in the series, The Immortal Rules, and loved it.  I was so pleased when one of my followers told me the sequel was available on Netgalley.  But then when I looked at first, all I could find was a copy for Australian readers only. But I kept searching, and found the one I could download, and I did.  And even though I had another e-galley that was supposed to expire before this one did, I just couldn't wait to read this one!  So I'll have to pick the other one up in April when it expires.  But anyway, let me go on with the review, just be aware, if you haven't read the first one, there may be a few spoilers for the first book.  But I'll do my best to keep them few and far between!

So, Allison is of course our returning main character, or Allie as she goes by.  Her human group of friends from the first book, including Zeke, are safe in Eden.  But Allie's been having nightmares, feeling her sire, Kanin's pain as he's being tortured by Sarren.  And since she has this connection to him, she can feel the direction she needs to go to find him.  And so she is off to find him and hopefully rescue him from the crazy vampire that when she last met with him, she stabbed him in the eye and took that eye away from him.  On her way though, she sees Kanin be put into basically a hibernation or coma for a vampire.  And so the link seems to grow weaker.  And at the same time, there is a pull in another direction.  She follows that other pull and it is the wrong one, as it leads her to Jackal, the vampire that killed Jeb, Zeke's father, as well as other members of their group.  Turns out, she has a connection to Jackal as well.  I'll go ahead and tell you, since I figured it out in the last book myself, Jackal is her brother, Kanin is his sire as well.  So of course he's been dreaming of Kanin as well.  And he has connections in the town where Allie finds him, which is Washington DC from the description.  He tells her that based on where Sarren was in the town, he must be looking for a cure for the rabidism.  We now know that Kanin was the vampire who gave the humans his fellow vampires to test on to try to find a cure for the Red Lung disease so long ago.  And because of that, he is hated by most if not all vampires.  So Allie teams up reluctantly and grudgingly with Jackal to find Kanin.  And it ends up they are headed back to the Fringe where Allie grew up.  Once there, they will have a surprise helper show up, Zeke.  And Allie must once again face her love for a human.  They must get into the city as they find that there is a new disease taking over the humans.  And they are sure that Kanin and Sarren must be in the city somewhere.  This leads them to the Vampire Prince of the sector, as well as a blast from Allie's past.  A friend, or is it a foe?  It is obvious that Sarren has released this disease, but does he have the cure?  The prince wants this cure as well, and so Jackal, Allie, and Zeke must find Sarren for him, and determine if he has the cure and bring it back.

This book was another good sequel in that it didn't have the 2nd book slump that so often occurs.  Now, at first, it did start out a bit that I was going to bored.  I mean, Allie, by herself, on a road trip?  While Jackal is a bad guy, I do enjoy his humor, it does keep the story at least interesting, and it makes you wonder if maybe he can some day redeem himself, as most of the other vampires don't have the same sarcastic personality as him, at least not any that we've met in the books.  But the book quickly picked up once she got to work with Jackal, and once they hit the city of New Covington, where Allie grew up, the story got really good again.  Only problem?  I now have to wait for book #3, at least a year!

One last thing I'm curious about, the cover.  The first had a picture on it, of Allie I assume.  This one is a very plain cover.  I see on Goodreads a different picture of a possible girl, but just wonder why the change.

Friday, March 29, 2013

Why NASA rocks!

I normally prefer not to blog more than one time a day, I feel it might be annoying to my followers, but I completely forgot about the awesome contest author Beth Revis was hosting until today.  And I only have one more day to enter!

If you've read her book series that started with Across the Universe, 2nd was A Million Suns - which had a wicked cliffhanger that I am dying to get my hands on the last book to figure it out, and that 3rd book is Shades of Earth, you know she must be a fan of space and of course so it naturally follows, NASA.

I, too, have been a huge fan of NASA, and it has been ever since I was a little girl.  I think my love of all things to do with space started with my maternal grandfather.  He was really into Astronomy and had a really nice telescope.  When we would go to his house to visit, he would talk about all that stuff, and I'm sure I hung on every word.  I still have the magazines called Odyssey that I read as a kid.  I even had a pen pal from the magazine for the longest time.  And she actually moved to my town when I was probably a teenager, I remember having a sleepover, but then her moving away again.  I think.  That was a long time ago.  I probably still have all my letters from back then too!  The movie Space Camp was out when I was in middle or high school, and I remember Bubblicious Bubble Gum had one of those contests that you had to send in the wrappers and you would be entered to win a trip to the real Space Camp.  I didn't win the trip, but in my first big contest win ever, I won some astronaut food packets!  I probably have those somewhere still too.  I'm a bit of a packrat, not only with books as I've mentioned before, but also with things that are sentimental to me.

Now as a science teacher I have an even greater respect for NASA.  The amount of resources that they provide, completely FREE of charge, for me to use in my classroom is amazing.  And when it seems that the budget keeps getting cut, not to mention how much I feel was taken away with losing the shuttle program.  As I discuss with my students when we study space, NASA and the space program has been responsible for so many things that we take for granted today.  I love having my students see how large the NASA budget is.  But then, showing them the comparison of that to the total amount of money the US spends, they are often amazed at what a small percentage NASA really gets.

Space has always been one of my favorite topics.  I am a science teacher, and love that space is part of my curriculum.  In fact, with the rest of what I teach the year, it is my favorite subject!  I love that with my Honors Class, I get to see some really creative projects with their assignments.  And it is the one time of the year that I have trouble getting through with what my plans are for the day because students have so many questions they want to ask.  And even though it may go away from the specific part of space we're talking about, they're always on topic and so interested!

Tell me, what do you think of NASA?  Of space even?  Would you be willing to go into space?  I think of writing a novel about such a story, but can't ever get myself started.  Maybe some day.  If I can just finish the other novel I have gotten the farthest on, I can make myself move on and start that one.  But for now, I'm going to just continue enjoying the wonderful stories told by Beth Revis and other awesome authors like her. And if you'd like to get in on the contest in the last few days of the month, follow this link:  The Month of NASA with Beth Revis.

And last but not least, while you're here, you can now follow me with Bloglovin.

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Ashen Winter (Ashfall #2) by Mike Mullin

I finally got around to reading this!  Not that I didn't want to, just the size of it I think kept me from picking it up when I had sooooooo many other books to read.  Not that I don't still have a ton, I just decided with our late March snow last weekend that a book like this was the right way to go.  Once I picked it up, it was a quick read, well as quick as I could get through an over 500 page book while teaching every day this week! Not to mention it seemed I had something to do every night this week and I didn't have a lot of nights that I was just sitting around reading.  Until last night, when I finished the last 100-150 pages.  Once I started it I really just wanted to sit and read and find out what happened next, and then after that, and then next, and how would it all end?  And it was another good book.
Okay, so if you read the first book, Ashfall, you know that there was a supervolcano explosion, in Yellowstone National Park.  From that explosion there were major changes.  It threw dust and ashes up into the air, and basically created winter.  It got colder as the sun was blocked out, plants began to die as they had no sunlight and the ash just cover them.  Our main character in this book is again Alex.  He and his new girlfriend Darla, although after all they've been through she is more than just a "girlfriend", found their way at the end of the first book to his uncle's house, where his parents and younger sister were supposed to be.  Only once they got there, they found his parents were gone, they had left to try to find him.  For awhile they stayed and worked on the farm.  The farm did okay because they were able to grow kale, which was good because kale had a lot of vitamin C, which many people need in this time of ashen winter.  In fact the seeds are so valuable, they can use them as money for things that need.  Help from a doctor, information, etc.
The farm gets attacked, and Alex recognizes one of the guns as one that was owned by his father.  So he and Darla follow after these men, called flensers, to find out where they got the gun.  Flensers, a disgusting new group of people, many different groups actually, that eat people.  They are cannibals.  They find out that the gun was traded to this group from a FEMA camp.  Well Alex and Darla remember what it was like to be in one of those camps.  Alex insists on going to find his parents.  He takes many packets of kale seeds.  They also remembered from crossing the river before that there had been a whole barge of wheat grains.  So they, Alex anyway, decides to try to go by there first to get some of the wheat so that they can plant that as well as the kale.  Unfortunately when they reach the barge it is now swarming with the military.  Alex insists that they try to get some wheat from the guard shack.  But the heist goes wrong, and Darla gets shot when they're on a bridge, and she falls off the bridge onto the top of a truck.  And now, Alex must find Darla too.
So he is now looking for not only his parents, but Darla too.  And when or if he finds his parents, will they want to help him find Darla?  Along the way he meets a girl named Alyssa and her autistic brother Ben, and rescues them from one of the Flenser groups.  But will they be able to fit in and  help Alex as well?

Such a good book.  You're on pins and needles all the way.  It's a great apocalyptic survival story, reminded me in some places of The Walking Dead in how much you got involved with the characters.  The author does such a great job with Alex's Tae Kwan Do skills.  And his portrayal of Ben, the autistic character is right on from my experience of the few autistic students I've had in the past.  You can see the way they do have their quirks, and you even smile at points where you can feel Alex's exasperation, but also Alex's learning patience with Ben, and even coming to be able to be a part of Ben's life.  I do love how Ben calls Alyssa his "sister unit".  A great read.  Lots of action, great characters, and even some sadness and heartbreak.  But now, I have to wait until 2014 to read the third book.  *Sad Face*  On a kind of interesting note, the first book in the series was the first e-galley I ever read from Netgalley.  I got an ARC of this one at BEA 2012.
Oh yeah, and I have to include my picture with the author from BEA last summer.  He is such a neat guy!  And you can tell how much he appreciates teachers from just talking to him, and mentioning that I was a teacher got him talking to me for quite a while!

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Waiting on Wednesday: Light (Gone #6) by Michael Grant

Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly event hosted by Jill at Breaking the Spine where we spotlight upcoming releases that we're eagerly awaiting.  I'm choosing one that comes out next week, and I don't think I've used it yet.  I have loved the Gone series by Michael Grant since I read the first one a few years ago in preparation for possible Gateway Award nominees for that year.  And now, the final book in the series is coming out.  And I can't wait to see how Grant wraps the whole story up.  Here is the blurb from  

It's been over a year since all the adults disappeared. Gone.

In the time since everyperson over the age of fourteen disap-peared from the town of Perdido Beach, California, countless battles have been fought: battles against hunger and lies and plague, and epic battles of good against evil. And now, the gaiaphage has been reborn as Diana's malicious mutant daughter, Gaia. Gaia is endlessly hungry for destruction. She yearns to conquer her Nemesis, Little Pete, and then bend the entire world to her warped will. As long-standing enemies become allies, secrets are revealed and unexpected sacrifices are made. Will their attempts to save themselves and one another matter in the end, or will the kids of Perdido Beach perish in this final power struggle?

So, tell me, what book are you eagerly awaiting this week?

Sunday, March 24, 2013

In My Mailbox for January, February, and March 2013

This is something sponsored by The Story Siren.  While it is a weekly event, I wouldn't say that I get books quite that often, at least not anymore.  For awhile I was probably buying books weekly, but since I've cut back on my expenses lately, that is not the same.  Plus it feels silly to talk about books I purchased myself for this, as In My Mailbox seems as if it's about books that I received from someone else.  So far this year though, I've won a couple giveaways, and have received some ARCs in the mail that I want to share.  One of the giveaways was actually won last November, and I didn't find out about it until I was cleaning out my Facebook "extra" mail about a month or so ago.  Fortunately the blog responsible for the giveaway was nice enough to still have me as the winner and hadn't picked another winner since I didn't respond right away.

So, I'll list that awesome blogger first, Ruth at My Devotional Thoughts gave me the chance to win any book of my choice, and so I chose Rise by Andrea Cremer.

My 2nd book was an e-boook from Angeline at Berds Fly.  I chose Everbound by Brodi Ashton.  I figured since I read the first in the series as an e-galley and didn't have an actual copy of the first book, and e-book was the way to go!

The next two books I won from a blog I've been following for a long time, Jen at The Starry-Eyed Review.  They were both ARCs, one was a book I really wanted, the other may end up as a giveaway since I haven't read the first one in the series yet.  The first one was 172 Hours on the Moon by John Harstad (the one I was looking forward to) and Invisible Sun (Black Hole Sun #2) by David Macinnis Gill (the one that will probably be available as a giveaway later!)

The last two books I got from the publishers.  I signed up to win them through ads in the Shelf Awareness Newsletter.

Unnatural Creatures (Stories selected by Neil Gaiman) from HarperTeen, and The World's Strongest Librarian:  A Memoir of Tourette's, Faith, Strength, and the Power of Family by Josh Hanagarne from Gotham.

I plan to try to do this meme once a month or at least once every three months like this, it could be a quarterly event on my blog maybe.  Although I know in May I'll be going to the Scholastic Warehouse sale and probably end up with a ton of books again.  And while I didn't share in December, I should try to next time I guess.
How about you?  Have you received anything in your mailbox lately?

Saturday, March 23, 2013

Timeless (Transcend Time Saga #3) by Michelle Madow

I had ordered all of Michelle Madow's books into the bookstore where I worked a while ago.  But when this one came in, it got put in adult fiction, as opposed to teen fiction where you would think.  And so, I never noticed when it arrived since I was always checking in the teen section.  Then, I didn't work for over a month.  So when I finally worked again a week ago, I made sure to see if it was still in the store, and then I bought it.  And, I finally got it read.  It was a very quick read, but a good one!  There will  unfortunately have to be some spoilers for those who haven't read the series yet, as this is the final book, but I'll try not to spoil for those who are still waiting to read this but have read the first two.
If you'll remember in my review of book 2, Vengeance, I was disappointed in how short it was.  Only because I wanted so much more!  It was good though.  And so as we go into the 3rd book, Chelsea is still angry at Lizzie.  And since the spell that she cast in book 2, Lizzie is now experiencing some scary omens.  When there are too many strange things happening with crows, Lizzie and Drew decide to go see Alistair, Lizzie's memory guide as she has been reincarnated, what we learned in book 1, Remembrance.  He does know that she has been cursed.  And they narrow it down to two suspects, either Jeremy or Chelsea.  Once Jeremy has been eliminated, Lizzie must figure out how to find out exactly what kind of spell Chelsea did, and also how can to fix it?  In another turn of events, Lizzie's mom has begun dating Chelsea's dad.  So when they have to spend Thanksgiving together, Lizzie doesn't know if she'll  be able to ever get her best friend back, and if she can, can they reverse this spell, within the month of time they have, before what happened to Lizzie in the past, a young death, becomes her new reality.  There is a trip to England, and even some needing to go back to the past to resolve the issues from that time.
It's a great ending, wrapped up very quickly, but pretty realistically in my opinion.  Without a lot of dragging out by having one thing after another go wrong in their attempts to solve it.  Not to say that it all goes off perfectly without any hitches, it just doesn't get to the ridiculous points that some stories do where you just have to say enough already, we know it's going to end happy, so go ahead and just solve it already!
Great story.  And while Madow's next series doesn't sound exactly like my type of book, I'm sure the writing will be just as good!

Friday, March 22, 2013

Feature and Follow Friday 2013 #3

Feature and Follow Friday is sponsored by Parajunkee and Alison Can Read.  The purpose of this event is to learn about the two featured bloggers each week, as well as to increase your own blog following by joining in on the fun!  Here is this week's question:

Q: What is your guilty pleasure as far as reading? Is it a genre, or is it a certain type of book?

First I have to say that after last night's episode of Glee being about guilty pleasures, I LOVE this questions.  But, this is a hard question, as I don't feel guilty about anything I read really.  I guess I could say it is the books that are published that go along with tv shows that I like.  Such as the Supernatural tv show, or the SyFy show Eureka, to name a few.  At one point I was on a mission to acquire every single book that was written with the Buffy the Vampire Slayer show, and I think I have most of them, that were still available to order online new.  I also got as many of the books that went with the short-lived show The 4400, and those with The X-Files.  So I guess my need to read any story that goes with my favorite shows would be my guilty pleasure.

What about you?  Do you have any guilty pleasures?

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Waiting on Wednesday: Unfed (Undead #2) by Kirsty McCay

Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly event hosted by Jill at Breaking the Spine where we spotlight upcoming releases that we're eagerly awaiting.   This week I've chosen a book that is in keeping with the current zombie trend/obsession of mine.  I got an ARC of the first book last summer at BEA 2012, and read it last year of course.  It was a fun, quick read about zombies called Undead.  What's so fun about the cover is that you only see the bottom of a person, and she is in a cheerleading skirt holding an ax dripping blood.  This is a book from the UK, so actually the sequel has already been released over there last fall.  But it will be here in the US this September.  Here is the blurb from  

Just when you think you're's the morning after the night of the return of the living dead. Or something like that. After running/bus-driving/snowboarding for her life alongside rebel Smitty, geeky Pete, and popular Alice, Bobby thought she'd found the antidote to the Carrot Man Veggie Juice that had turned the rest of their classmates into zombies. When Smitty (mmm...nom, nom) got chomped, Bobby pumped a syringe full of it into him herself.

But now Bobby's a prisoner in some hospital of horrors, with no clue how she got there. And Smitty is missing. What if he isn't cured after all? Bobby knows she's got to find him, even if it means facing Scotland's hungry hordes -- plus Alice's buckets of snark -- again. And this time, zombies aren't the only evil stressing her out. The brain-dead are bad enough, but how can Bobby stop the big pharma business behind the epidemic? Especially when her own mom works for the company?

So, if you're a zombie fan, you should check the series out if you haven't yet.  Otherwise, what books are you anticipating this week?

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Top 10 Tuesdays: 10 Books I Just Had to Buy, But Haven't Read

Do you ever buy a book the minute it comes out, or you walk into a store and see it and have to have it, but then it is a long time, sometimes even years before you actually read it?  Well, I was glad to see that I wasn't the only one who did this, because sometimes I feel really guilty about it.  I'm trying to buy less books because of this, but for top 10 Tuesday, here is my list:

1.  Days of Blood and Starlight by Laini Taylor - Now technically it's only been a few months since it came out, but I had to buy it so I could get it autographed when she was at my store, and I'd finished the first book not long before it, and it is still sitting on my TBR shelf.

2.  Mr. Darcy, Vampyre by Amanda Grange.  This was in the time they started writing all the crossovers with vampires and zombies with classics.  I still think it kind of sounds good.  And it is on my shelf, but who knows when I'll get to it!

3.  We Rode the Orphan Trains by Andrea Warren.  I read a short story about some kids in an orphan train situation, and I was immediately fascinated and wanted to know more about the history of this.  So, when I saw this come into the bookstore where I worked, I immediately had to buy it.  And it has sat on my shelf ever since.  One day.  Of course, I did at one time have a goal of reading a nonfiction book every 5 books, and so at one time I would have read this much quicker.

4.  Les Miserables by Victor Hugo.  Along with my goal to read nonfiction books every so often, I also planned to read a classic every 10 books.  And for awhile I kept up with that.  I chose Les Mis because my cousin said one time that it was her favorite book, and she was someone who rarely read, so I decided it should be one of my next classics.  Unfortunately, the last classic I read, or should I say tried to read, was Dante's Inferno.  And with all the translation stuff, and what it was actually supposed to say, let's just say I was bored and gave up.  And so Les Mis still sits on my TBR shelf.

5.  Holy Blood, Holy Grail - This is one that I decided I wanted to read after the whole Da Vinci Code book and movie big deals.  My friend Kim had read this, and while I wanted to just borrow her copy, I believe she loaned it to someone else and never seemed to get it back.  And I was so intent that I wanted to read it, that I bought it because I didn't want to wait.  Yet I'm still waiting to read it.

6.  Bogus to Bubbly:  An Insider's Guide to the world of The Uglies by Scott Westerfeld.  I loved The Uglies series.  And so of course as soon as this companion book came out, I had to have this right away.  So, I bought it, and so, it still sits on my shelf.

7.  Without You:  A Memoir of Love, Loss, and the Musical Rent by Anthony Rapp.  This was part of my nonfiction goal, as well as a stage in my life when I was reading tons of memoirs.  Plus, the movie for Rent had come out, and realizing that Anthony Rapp was the actor I'd had a crush on back when he was in Adventures in Babysitting, I wanted to read it.  So, I ordered it into the bookstore where I worked, and bought it, and put it on my TBR shelf.

8.  The Supernatural Book of Monsters, Spirits, Demons, and Ghouls.  I love the tv show Supernatural.  I'm a fan of Dean.  And so, loving the show, I had to have this companion guide.  Still haven't read it, along with several of the novelization books of the series.  I will buy all of them at some point.  And maybe save them for the day the show goes off the air to relive what I can no longer see new episodes of.  Kind of like I do for the tv show Eureka's books.

9.  Peak by Roland Smith.  I first learned about Roland Smith during my first few years teaching at Northgate Middle School.  He visited our school and spoke to the students, and so I bought his book, got it autographed, and read it.  And so I've almost all of his books.  This is one I had to buy at a school book fair,  and as the other 8 books before this, it still sits on my TBR shelf.

10.  My last entry I'm going to actually include a group of books.  I am a huge fan of the Marx Brothers.  And sometimes, well before our hours got cut so bad at the bookstore, I used to have some time when I was working at the customer service desk.  And I'd get into our database and search for any books about the Marx Brothers that I didn't have.  And I'd order them into the store, and I'd buy them, and for awhile with my nonfiction goal, I'd read them.  But since my goals have kind of gone by the wayside, which actually happened about the time I started really blogging, a lot of my nonfiction books and memoirs are still sitting on the TBR shelf.  Right now I have these 5 sitting where I can see on my TBR shelf:  Harpo Speaks, Son of Harpo Speaks, Monkey Business, Hello I Must Be Going, and The Essential Groucho.

Now, let's be a bit fair to me, I do have probably between 200-250 books sitting on my TBR shelf.  Many are stripped covers I got from the bookstore where I work for free, so they don't always count.  And I actually go through those about once a year, and weed out ones that I may have grabbed just because they were free, and not because I really, really, really wanted to read them.

Enough about me though, do you do this too?  Tell me about it!

Sunday, March 17, 2013

The Coffin Quilt: The Feud between the Hatfields and the McCoys by Ann Rinaldi

I'd heard of the Hatfields' and McCoys' feud.  As the author states in the note at the end, the names are a pop culture/historical reference, but many people don't know the actual story.  Which was mostly true for me.  At least it was until last summer when the History Channel did their mini-series on the story.  And as usually happens to me with such a tv show or movie, I was immediately fascinated, and began wanting to know more about it.  Now, maybe it was just the way I watched it and who I sympathized or understood more, but the tv show made me more "for" the Hatfields.  In the show they seemed to be the more sane, mostly, and the ones that seemed to have things done to them for no reason.  Well, not always, they did have in the show some of their own family members that I felt caused a lot of the problems, but those people were shown as kind of crazy.  And I always just thought they should have done something about one certain person in their family and things might have stopped.  As I watched it, I just kept thinking, now someone will see that there has been too much death and will stop, but they never did, at least not throughout the whole time period of this feud.
The Coffin Quilt is told from a young girl in the McCoy family.  According to the author's note at the end, all the family members are truly the real ones, but how they acted towards each other within the family is not true, just her thoughts on what might have been.  So it was hard for me to read from this side of the story, when I'd kind of already "aligned" myself with the Hatfields from the mini-series.  But, this was still a very enlightening side of the story, and it made me re-think things I'd seen in the show.  Of course most of it is based on observer's accounts, or maybe diaries or letters from the people in the feud. Without any first hand tales, it is hard to know just what took place, or why people did the things they did.  Our main character that we follow is Fanny, and her mother is just as religious as shown in the show, although in the book you see even more how it may have affected the feud.  The book goes back to the pigs being stolen that some people feel may have been the start of the feud.  Then goes into what has always seemed to be more of the "big"reason, when Fanny's sister Roseanna runs off with Johnse Hatfield.
I enjoyed following the feud through the eyes of a younger family member.  One who kind of had thoughts that sounded just like what I was saying as watching the mini-series.  Now they'll realize it is too much death.  If I do this, then people will finally understand.  Now that there is going to be a baby the families will come together.  All things which didn't come true.  You could feel Fanny's yearning to get past all of this hatred and live a real life.  And you hurt with her, and felt the hopelessness she felt at the end when she didn't think she'd ever get to have a life without all of her family being killed or dying senselessly.
The title of the book comes from exactly what you'd think, a quilt with coffins on it.  The Hatfields make a quilt where they put coffins with everyone in the family's names around the border.  As those family members die, their coffins are moved to the center of the quilt along with their dates of death being put on them.  When Roseanna runs off with Johnse, she begins creating this to give him when they are finally able to be together.  Quilts are big in the McCoy family as well, just nothing as morbid as this.  And when Ro's family sees this and hears what it is, her father, Ranel McCoy forbids her to put any of their family's names on the quilt.  And her extremely religious mother is also greatly opposed to it as well.
I found this book through my bookstore database when working last summer.  I had begun searching for books on this feud after watching the History channel mini-series.  And after reading this book, as I said giving me another viewpoint on the families, I want to read some actual non-fiction biographies or history books.  So I'll be looking for one to read, and put that on my summer reading list.  If you don't know the whole story of the Hatfields and McCoys feud, and haven't watched the mini-series, you should definitely read this book, it's a quick, interesting read, yet very informative in keeping you up with what was going on with the families.  Especially the McCoys.  And if you are looking for a historical fiction book for yourself or a student, or son or daughter, I'd give them this to read.

Saturday, March 16, 2013

Transcend Time Blitz Book Tour with Xpresso Book Tours

I'm extremely excited that my first time participating in an Xpresso Book Tour is for an author I've actually met!  As I mentioned when I reviewed the first two books in the series, Remembrance, and Vengeance, I stood in line at the BEA 2012 Bloggers Day.  Unfortunately I didn't get my picture with her, or an autograph, but I'll have to do that next time I get to see her!
This post is to celebrate both the final book in the series, Timeless, as well as a new bonus pack available for fans called the Transcendence packet.  Also available to download.  Below are the covers of the three books in the series, with links if you click on them to go purchase them, and the first book in the series is only 99 cents right now to download as an e-book!!

One thing that immediately fascinated me about the series before I read it, is how it was a video that inspired the story for the author.  Here is that story from the author herself:


The “Love Story” music video premiered in the fall of 2008. The first time I watched it, I was entranced. Taylor sees a guy while walking through campus, and the moment their eyes connect, the scene flashes to the two of them dancing at a beautiful ball dressed in clothes that appear to be from around the year 1815. It’s magical to watch, and the video is so amazing that it gave me chills. I watched it over and over again, and a story started to piece together in my mind. A story about a girl reincarnated from Regency Era, England, who doesn’t realize it until her soul mate transfers into her school and triggers her memories to gradually return to her.

In that semester at school, I was taking a class called Intro to Creative Writing. One of our first big assignments in class was to write anything we wanted and bring it in to share with everyone. Since the characters and scenes that came to me while watching “Love Story” refused to leave my mind, I decided that for the project, I would write the first chapter of what I then called “The Story Inspired by ‘Love Story.’”

After completing the chapter, I stared at it for about an hour, worrying about what my classmates would think after reading it. I assumed everyone else would write about “normal” topics—not reincarnation and seeing your soulmate from the past for the first time! What if they thought what I wrote was weird? I nearly erased it in favor of turning something else in, but then I remembered something Taylor had said:

"If you’re lucky enough to be different from everyone else, don't change."

I listened to her advice. Yes, what I wrote was going to be way different from what everyone else in class wrote, but I was okay with that. And after I read the chapter aloud to the class, I was amazed to find out that everyone in my class, including my teacher, loved it. Actually, they more than loved it—they wanted to read more!

But I had never written a novel before, and the idea of making the plunge and going for it intimidated me. What if I failed and couldn’t finish it? That worried me, but again, I remembered something Taylor had said:

"To me, fearless isn't not having fears; it's not that you're not afraid of anything. I think that being fearless is having a lot of fears, but you jump anyway."

So I jumped.

And now, three years after I saw the “Love Story” music video for the first time, my debut novel Remembrance is finally available for everyone to read. I’m so happy to be able to share it with you. I can only hope that if you choose to read it, you end up enjoying it as much as I loved writing it!

Thank you for taking the time to read my story about how “Love Story” and Taylor Swift helped me get to where I am today!

For more great stories like the author's reason for writing the story above, you can download the Transcendence Time Bonus Packet HERE.

I hope you'll give this series a chance if you haven't already.  It is such a great story!

Friday, March 15, 2013

My Boring-Ass Life: The Uncomfortably Candid Diary of Kevin Smith

I started this book clear back in April of 2008, so it's been almost 5 years that it has taken me to finish it.  Yes it is a big book, but that's not why.  The book is exactly what it says, it is the blog or diary entries of Kevin Smith.  And so, as it seemed he may have been writing some of his entries while in the bathroom, I kept my copy of the book in the bathroom to read the short entries in short times for reading.  TMI, I know. Sorry.  But it goes along with this book.
This is not the sort of book I would normally review, I do review mostly YA, but if you are a long time follower of my blog, you know that I pretty much review any book I read, because that is what I blog for, to share my books.  And along with that, I am a HUGE Kevin Smith fan.  Which was kind of weird for me to admit at first.  I've always been, and still pretty much am, anti-drug.  I'll use a Kevin Smith trait here, and bring in a pop culture reference for why that is.  I was raised with the whole Nancy Reagan "Say No to Drugs" campaign.  And yes, I was, and kind of still am, a good girl in that respect.  I was the kid that all those commercials and campaigns were successful for.  Today I'm really mostly anti-cigarette as I lost both my grandma and grandpa on my mom's side to lung cancer.  And it was not fun to watch.  My grandma was only 46 when she died, and it was a few years of even being in a hospital bed in her own home.  My grandpa quit smoking when she got sick, but then it still got him years later, it seemed to just take him in a few months.  I feel it was from all the second hand smoke he'd gotten in the past few years in the local casinos, but who knows.  It was so hard to watch my grandpa, who I credit with a lot of the things I know and am interested in these days, go through all that pain.  But let's get off my past and onto the book.
I credit Matt Damon for my current admiration of all things Kevin Smith.  I believe it was the movie Dogma, that got me started on Kevin Smith movies.  And once I got past the drugs, I was able to look at the characters, and all the pop culture references that I kind of use in my own life, and just was hooked.  In fact, I have to say, if there was anyone I really wanted to meet right now that I hadn't met yet, it would be Kevin Smith.  He seems like such a cool guy.  And by cool, I mean basically a normal guy who has really succeeded.  And even though I say normal, I mean genius.  The way he is able to hit on so many things that people find hilarious, just normal things, it's genius.
Now it's been so long since I really started this book, that I don't even remember exactly what all was going on in Kevin's life during the entries in this blog.  I do know that we got to see how it was for him to deal with his friend Jason Mewes as he sunk into his horrible drug problem, and how Smith did his best to help him, and what was the final straw you might say that may have done the trick.  We get to read Smith's responses to his critics.  We get to read about all the great things he did for his fans that he knew were as big of "fan-boys" as he was for his own idols.  One thing I'm so disappointed to have missed out on, was getting my name at the end of the Clerks 2 credits.  I never knew about it until after the whole contest was over.
It's neat to read about his life with his wife and daughter.  To hear what it is like to be a parent in the "Hollywood" area, what to do with the fundraisers for the schools among some of the stories.  He talks about being a huge Bruce Willis fan, and talks about when he got the dream job of working with him in Live Free or Die Hard.  I have never been that big of a fan of the Die Hard movies, but because both Kevin Smith and Justin Long were in this movie, it was one I was excited to see.  Hearing Smith talk about what a day of filming on a Bruce Willis movie was like compared to his own movie sets was also really interesting.  To read Smith's fawning words about Willis, would probably be like me writing about all the cool authors I got to meet last summer at BEA.  If I was anywhere near as wordy as Smith.  And I mean wordy in a good way!
I did mark the page of another missed opportunity for me.  When there was a pre-screening for Clerks 2 in Kansas City, my hometown, Kevin Smith was actually  IN the theater!!!  And I know it was at the theater I go to, because a friend of mine was there, and even saw Smith!  I will always be jealous that I didn't get to see him then.  It is interesting how he talks about a woman in her mid-thirties walking out in disgust, when I would have been that age then, but wouldn't have been that woman!
And finally, one other thing I have to say about Kevin Smith, that I can't remember if it was in this book, or that I saw him post it on Twitter.  When the Comic-Con "regular" nerdy guys were complaining about all the screaming girls and their moms there for Twilight, he was like in full support of the girls.  For a couple reasons, one because they were fans, just as nerdy as the other guys in some cases.  The other reason, the guys should think about how many girls were now at Comic-Con, and their moms, who were in many cases, cougars.  And the "nerds" should look at it in that positive light.  Smith is the champion of all people who are mega-fans, like a lot of us bloggers are about our authors. He doesn't criticize anyone's tastes as being stupid.  He knows that many of the things he loves are considered stupid by others, but he doesn't care and loves them, and so he treats everyone how he wants to be treated, or at least that is what he says on social media.  And I choose to believe that is the real Kevin Smith.  And that, if I could hang out with him, in a no-drugs allowed situation, I think it'd be one of the most entertaining get-togethers of my life.
If you enjoy Kevin Smith, and won't be offended by the drug talk, (marijuana and cigarettes are really about all he is okay with, and alcohol of course), and quite a bit of cussing, you will enjoy this book.  It's not a sit down and read in one session book, but one to pick up and enjoy over many different periods.  You can read an entry at a time, or read through several that have a theme as he discussed whatever was going on at that time.
Now, I've had Smith favorite some of my tweets that I've mentioned him in, so my new goal, is to see if I can get him to come post a comment on this blog! So I'm off to tweet about this and see what I can make happen!

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

The Fault in Our Stars by John Green

I was doing so well this month with basically one post a day, then, Sunday, and I got sick.  So sick that I didn't even want to read, and anyone who knows me knows that means I am REALLY sick.  But normally I'm only sick for a day, then am doing better the next day.  And that's what I thought yesterday, so I got up, went to a check up doctor appointment having nothing to do with my being sick the day before, had donut holes at Dunkin Donuts for breakfast, nothing for lunch, then went ahead and went to work at the bookstore.  I thought I was doing good in my dinner choice, egg drop soup, similar to chicken noodle, right?  But I did also get crab rangoon, probably not the best choice in retrospect.  About 2 hours before closing, my stomach started acting up again, and once I got home, I spent all last night sick again.  And so, I'm behind on both reading and blogging.  But, feeling better yesterday, I did finish The Fault in Our Stars and so now I am blogging about it.  I did get this book last summer at BEA as well, so it is yet another one I waited a while to read, not sure why.
I have a feeling a lot of people may not agree with my review of this.  Once again I feel that a book was built up by other people so much, that when I got around to reading it, I basically knew what was going to happen, and while it was good, it didn't blow me away as I had really high expectations.  So let me start out by saying that this was a really good book.  John Green is an awesome author.  To be able to make the reader laugh out loud in such a depressing story/world, is good writing, good storytelling, in my book.  But while I wouldn't say it was predictable, I wouldn't say I was really surprised by anything that happened in the book.  Again, possibly because of all the build up, and being told how sad it would be.  Is it sad, yeah, it can cause you to use a box of tissues.  But as things happened, I was kind of prepared, kind of figured those things would happen. Although I must admit, some of that is probably from the actual foreshadowing I feel the author did within the story.  Here's my quick summary:

The main character is Hazel, she has terminal cancer.  There is no cure for her, only ways to extend her life.  In fact she must have oxygen with her at all time because her lungs don't work that well.  She goes to a support group where she meets Augustus.  Augustus is really cute.  He is supposedly in remission, but lost a leg to his type of cancer.  He is there with his friend Isaac, also a teen with cancer.  Isaac has lost one eye, and when we meet him in the story, it is possible he may have to lose the other eye.  Hazel and Augustus seem to click right away.  And Augustus is really a funny guy, and he likes that Hazel is the way she is, she's not all, "poor me, how am I ever going to leave a mark in this world."  She turns Augustus onto this book she loves, An Imperial Affliction, which is about a girl named Anna who also is sick, and the books just ends in the middle of a sentence.  What Hazel likes so much about it is that it totally gets how she feels about it and what it is like having cancer.  She wants so much to know what happens next, to the other characters in the book, as she knows what happens to Anna.  But, the author is reclusive, and even though she's written many letters, he's never answered.  Augustus has her read a novel that has to do with the video game he likes to play, and she does get swept up into those.  And he gets really into her book, as they shorten it to, AIA.  And he does the crazy thing and emails the author, and gets an answer from his publicist.  Which leads to them attempting to go visit him, from a supposed invitation from him and his publicist.  But of course there are things that get in the way. Relapses or lung problems for Hazel just to start with.  Hazel tries to keep space between herself and Augustus, not wanting to hurt him when she dies, as he is the "healthy" one in the relationship.  I won't go on with any spoilers.  Just know that their love is a true one, and their saying, "Okay? Okay", is a sweet one, and you will really hope for a relationship like this in your life.  Well, without all the tragedy of cancer and all that.  A great story, ending kind of how I thought it would, but not in a bad way.
I will say that one of my all time favorite books is A Summer to Die by Lois Lowry.  The copy I have from when I was younger is tattered and dog-eared from me reading it over and over. So I know a sad story from a sad story.  And I wasn't surprised by what happened probably because of that.  But this book is one that could rate up in the same place in my bookshelf as the Lowry book because of enjoying the back and forth between Hazel and Augustus.  You do need to read it.  I'm sorry my review isn't as glowing as others, it is a really good book.  Again, I believe my less than stellar review has to do with my being so over built up for a superbly unique story.  Which for many people I believe it will be!  So don't let me steer you away, just go into it with no expectations, and you'll do nothing but enjoy (if crying is enjoyment to you :-).

Saturday, March 9, 2013

Stung by Bethany Wiggins

As usual I will begin my review with thanks to both Netgalley as well as Bloomsbury USA Children's Books for allowing me to read this as an e-galley.  I was unsure on whether to give this book a 4 or 5 on Goodreads, but I ended up rounding up, as this book had so many unique and kind of realistic (science-wise) ideas, and, when I put it down, I wondered what would happen next.  Now, while I think it definitely ended in a way that worked, and it could definitely be a stand alone novel, I think they threw in a little bit at the very end that means it might go on.  So we'll see.
The premise of this story you might be able to kind of guess from the title, "Stung", as well as the picture on the cover.  It has to do with insects, bees to be exact.  Most people have heard that we have a possible situation with bees being endangered animals.  And as a science teacher, I hope that people realize just how bad it would be if they did go extinct.  Now, I'm not a big fan of any kind of insect.  I scream like a girl and hate having to kill bees or wasps or spiders.  Or the nasty house centipedes I first learned about when moving into my current house a few years ago.  But, again, as a science teacher, I do realize how important "bugs" are to the whole world.  And bees in particular.  Okay, enough about that, and more about the story. In this novel, the scientists have found a way to save the bees, they've made a genetically modified strain of bees that are resistant to pesticides and the other things that are causing bees to be endangered.  Unfortunately, this book goes into what some people are worried about with genetic modification, these bees are now basically lethal.  When they sting you, you get sick, and pretty much die it seems.  But at the time the scientists announce this whole thing, they also have some good news, they've developed an anti-venom type of vaccine.  Well, as you might expect, the vaccine may not be as good of news as thought.  It turns the recipients into beasts.  And when the scientists find a way to kill these "indestructible" and lethal bees, it kills just about everything else, the plants, the other animals, etc.  So to save themselves from these beasts, walls are built around cities, and they develop rules to keep themselves safe.  Only certain people are allowed to live inside the walls.  No one with disabilities, and men are only allowed in once they've either married so that they can help to repopulate the world (15 year old girls!), or after they've worked in the militia to protect the walls from the beasts.  And once people reach a certain age, they are "euthanized"?  I think.  Although it sounds like it may not be as nice of a ending for them.
Our main character is Fiona, who is just waking up at the beginning of the story.  Only she doesn't know any of this.  In fact, the last things he remembers is being like 12 years old.  And when she wakes up, she's older, 15 or 16 at least.  And she's alone.  Well, except for her brother.  But it isn't really her brother anymore, he's a monster.  So as she runs from her house where she grew up, and her brother, she runs through her town.  She meets up with neighbors, again who all are older than she remembers, and she has a tattoo on her arm, that when she first wakes up she realizes she must cover up.  By doing this her neighbors at least don't shoot her, and even give her some advice on what to do.  As she gets closer and closer to a big wall, she runs into another girl named Arrin.  Arrin helps her by trading clothes and cutting her hair to make her so she won't look like a girl, because it is really dangerous to be a girl in this world.  You won't be killed, but you'll wish to die by the time they're done with you.  And she just asks Fiona, Fo, to help her get her brother back from the militia waiting outside the gates of the city.  It stinks in the sewers where they live of course, even though they haven't necessarily been used as sewers in a long time.  And it isn't just the filth that is bad, there are men who will rape or kill them.  And there is no food.  Arrin gives Fo a leather belt to chew on for food.  Well, Fo finally goes to try to help out Arrin, because of Arrin holding a knife to her throat.  But the rescue is unsuccessful as they capture Fo, seeing by her tattoo that she is a Level 10, and as Arrin tries to steal her brother away, he is blown up, although Arrin does make her own escape.  Now Fo must stay there so that they can take her into the lab when the gates to the city open up on their usual day once a week.  But Fo recognizes one of the men, as a neighbor, Bowen.  And he remembers her as well.  At first of course, everyone thinks she is a boy, so she is safe.  But once it is found out she is a girl, Bowen realizes he must get her somewhere safe until he can take her into the lab.  The bad thing even about that though, is that she will be killed in order for them to find out why she is a Level 10, but hasn't turned.  And he begins to see that maybe that isn't even good, especially when the gates open up early with a message to kill this Level 10 on contact and just bring her body in.  Bowen begins to wonder why this has been decided when she could possibly be just what is needed to save the world.  And he begins to fall for her, as she does for him.
I won't go on, don't want to spoil any more of the story.  But it was a good read.  I loved the science, no matter how realistic or far fetched some parts were.
It comes out in April I believe, so you don't have long to wait to read it!

Friday, March 8, 2013

Renegade (Ripper #2) by Amy Carol Reeves

I will start by thanking Netgalley and Flux Books for allowing me to read an e-galley of this.  I also got to read the first in the series, Ripper, as an e-galley.  I was very into the first book because it was supposedly about Jack the Ripper which is a subject that has always fascinated me.  And yes, the first book was, but not quite the way we've always thought of him.
In this sequel, it is after Abbie has taken care of all of The Conclave, except for Max, who got away.  She and William are trying to enjoy their new romance, while continuing to work at the White Chapel Clinic.  Abbie has another vision, but is worried about telling William.  She does feel able to tell Simon about it though.  Although no one seems to believe her when she ends up in the cemetery that was in her vision and she sees what seem to be either zombies, or cannibals.  She also gets the chance to go work with the one woman doctor that she really looks up to.  But, as they know, Max is still there, and he soon visits Abbie and asks her, no ends up basically blackmailing her to help him out.  Throughout the whole story we have flashes over to a Lamia.  A part woman, part sea creature, not like a mermaid, more like almost a dragon.  She is the caretaker for the Conclave, taking care on a remote island of their menagerie.  All their creatures, including the dodo that Abbie had gotten the chance to see in the first book.  Inspector Abbiline is still in this story, now investigating the murders that are occurring in the graveyards.  We do end up basically settling the story point from this, with the Lamia, but we don't ever get the part of the story with the deaths in the graveyards solved.  I'm guessing that will be in the next book.  And I'm very interested and excited to read on!  Another fun take on a secret society and a strong female character of the time.

Thursday, March 7, 2013

Lunar Love Giveaway Hop

Oops, remember how I said I was only going to do one giveaway hop a month?  Guess I signed up for this and forgot about it!  Oh well, it's kind of a fun one, but since I did $20 on the last one, and then one of my giveaways before I'm still waiting for the book they want to be in paperback, I'm going to have to give some choices for you that are in the price range I can afford and I know I can get them for that price!!  It is international as long as the Book Depository ships to your country.

Now the theme of this Hop is the moon, hence the title, Lunar Love.  The book needs to have something to do with the moon, or have a picture of the moon on the cover.  So I've picked some books about the moon, books about space travel, and some werewolf books.  So, check them out below, you can click on the pictures to go to a synopsis on

So, just fill in the Rafflecopter below to enter, then hop along to the other giveaways in the Linky below that!

a Rafflecopter giveaway