Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Spring Fling Giveaway Hop (INT)

So, as I mentioned before, I'm going to participate in one of these giveaways sponsored by I Am a Reader, Not a Writer each month.  Since May is so busy, I decided to get this done at the beginning.  For the Spring Fling giveaway hop, I'm giving away your choice of a $12 gift card to either Barnes and Noble, Amazon, or if you are International, a book valued up to $12 from The Book Depository.  No restrictions on what book, it just has to be under $12.  I figure spring is  the time of the year when we begin to feel more free from the confines we've endured with winter clothes and weather, so why should I not let you choose freely what book you'd like?  Just fill out the Rafflecopter below, and then hop along to the other blogs participating in the Linky under that.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

The New Kid by Temple Mathews

Thanks to BenBella Books and Netgalley for allowing me to read this.  I guess it isn't that new of a book, looks like it's been out for awhile, but it was available so I asked to read it because it sounded pretty good.
It wasn't bad, kind of predictable, but again, not bad.  The main character is Will Hunter, his last name is perfect because he is basically a hunter, kind of like Sam and Dean on Supernatural.  Will is the "new kid" or as it is always written in the book "the New Kid" a lot.  Turns out he travels from town to town, basically hunting demons.  This all began because of what happened to his father when he was about 9 years old.  He also learned all about how his father had been hunting demons, and although he was unable to hear the demon speak, he knows that it took his father.  And since then he has been searching for that same demon to try to find his father.  He lives with his mother and stepfather, the stepfather is kind of a crappy guy, reminded me a bit at first of the mother's boyfriend in The Lightning Thief series by Rick Riordan.  Somehow, I think I remember it is because of how good he is with computers, he has been able to make a lot of money, so much that he is in control of the company that employs his mother and stepfather so that when he needs to move on to a new town in search of more demons after he's taken care of the problem in one town, he can have them transferred.  Now, when he meets the principal at the new school, I'm again reminded of another tv show, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, and when she met with the principal at the beginning of the series.  Part of Will's being good with computers has led to him creating a video game that is very popular, and this video game is basically all the fights he's had with demons, he also keeps track of how many demons he's killed in the game.  The girl who will be the love interest is named Natalie.  Natalie lost her twin sister a while back, and she is sure it was something weird that happened, and so when Will shows up, Natalie seems to sense something different about him, to the point that she spies on him, and sees him setting up his fancy room in the basement.  The class nerd also befriends them and finds out.  So now Will has something he normally doesn't have to worry about, friends.  And of course, there is something going on in this town, and it may even be leading up to something bigger than Will is expecting.  Will learns something about his past and his family that will shock him, and really change the way he looks at things.
Okay, this story had a LOT of action.  I actually got a bit bored with it myself at times, especially at the end, when I kind of started skimming through that part.  But, along that line, I can see that this could be a popular thing for boys to read.  So I would definitely recommend it to many of my male students.  Because it was told in 3rd person sometimes we'd kind of get a look at Natalie's viewpoint.  But it didn't flow that easily for me.  It was like it was thrown in just at certain parts.  I'd have like to have seen maybe every other chapter or something from her side, that would have made it make more sense maybe.  Not sure.  All in all, not a bad book.  Not a top choice for me, but not bad.

Sunday, April 28, 2013

Tales from the Scale: Woman Weigh in on Thunder Thighs, Cheese Fries, and Feeling Good...at Any Size by Erin J. Shea

A few years ago, when I really got into losing weight, and lost about 35-40 pounds, and I was actually at a weight that would have been easy to manage, and I was walking 20 miles a week, I was in a diet/weight loss memoir book obsession.  I would even search the book database whenever I was working part time at Barnes and Noble to find and order more books to read.  Tales from the Scale was the last one I had to read, and it was basically full of short stories, or I believe actually blog posts from 7 different weight loss blogs.  The stories were pretty good, although many were harder for me to relate to as they were women who had been overweight their whole lives, and for me it only started once I got out on my own and was able to begin eating whatever I wanted, as much as I wanted, and whenever I wanted.  I started this book back in 2010, and it ended up sitting in my downstairs half bath, to be read whenever I didn't bring a book with me.  Sorry if that is TMI, but I feel like if there isn't a book there, that time is wasted!  Soon other books joined it, and then magazines, and it got to be the back of the basket of things to read in there.  Lately I'm back to the point weight-wise before I lost all that weight, and so pulled it out to try to help get myself motivated again to get back to work on being in shape and healthy again.  As I read through it, I know that I marked several different stories that had things that really stuck out to me.  So since this isn't a story for me to give you the synopsis of, I'm going to just talk about a few of those marked passages in this post.
One of the first passages, by Julie Ridl, talks about how the weight doesn't just appear suddenly.  But as it does, you begin to feel people treating you differently. As if because you can't control your weight, you must not be able to control the department at work you're in charge of or trying to get a promotion to be in charge of.  And then, to get out of it, you have to completely change things.  This is something I did back when I was losing weight.  I began cooking, a lot.  And really, since I am single and live alone, cooking is not something I'm big on doing.  And as I quit cooking for myself, the weight has come back.  So going back now and looking at that really helps.
An early entry by Heather Lockwood talks about how she didn't learn much about nutrition or portion size when she was a kid.  And I feel the same.  My mom served us healthy meals.  But I don't remember anything being said about portion size, and actually, other than basic vegetables like green beans and peas, we never had the really weird (to me anyway) vegetables that I still won't eat to this day, like broccoli, and cauliflower, asparagus, etc.  And back then it didn't matter.  I didn't worry about food, because since most of it was controlled by my parents at home, I didn't seem to gain weight, I was in no way "skinny" but I wasn't in any way overweight really either.  I'm short though, so the not exercising, and not watching portions once I got on my own, soon caught up.
In one part by Lori Ford, she talks about how she'll start off really good, but then if something gets stressful, all the hard work for the day/week can be just lost to having a junk food snack just to make it till the next planned meal time.  Part of the problem is what she, or I, bring to work for eating.  What sucks is when I get there, and I don't want to eat what I brought.  It doesn't sound good.  So then, I'm ruined for the day, which often leads my brain to be done for the week, to say I'll start over and do it right next week.  When I was begin successful I was able to start over the next day, or even as soon as I caught myself.  And that's where I need to get back to.
I won't go on too much more about my struggle, I will just say that this book is good for feeling like you aren't alone, there are others out there struggling like you are.  It may not be the "success" story some of the other memoirs I've read have been, not to say the authors haven't been successful, but it is often just about how they feel during the process, and it is good to share those feelings I think.
Not the best weight loss book I'd read, but still has some very good parts.  I have a ton of bookmarked pages at the beginning.  I intend to go back and read through those before I decided what to do with this book, garage sale, pass it on through a giveaway, etc.

Friday, April 26, 2013

Rant and Asking for Ideas?

Okay, I need to talk to people who will understand, I think, what has got me so irritated at the moment. Now, I know many of my readers are NOT Twilight fans, and probably hate it with a seething passion.  But I know many others of my readers are fans of the story, or if not as big a fan as I am, at least enjoyed it and don't hate it.  Those of you who are fans will understand me probably, those of you who are not, well, just think about any book or type of book you like that maybe you get tired of other people criticizing?  Like, I'm 40 years old, but I love YA.  Probably because I teach middle school kids and that got me back to reading that age level, but partly because they are just so good these days!!  There are people who look at me funny when I say that I mostly read teen books.  And I know that there are people who really make fun of Harry Potter books, because I'm a fan of those, and have to listen to that as well.  But for some reason, when people get all uppity about Twilight, it really can irk me.  And if they don't like it, and say why, I'm fine, no biggie.  But I get so tired of all the people who go on and on about the relationship being abusive.  First off, Edward doesn't want to hurt Bella, the only reason he would ever hurt her is because he is a vampire.  I mean he even leaves the country, dumps her, just so that he won't kill her.  So it's not that he wants to hurt her, or hurts her like real human abusive relationships.  And see, there's one of my pet peeves.  It is FICTION!  Who reads a Stephen King book, and thinks it is okay to do something that one of those characters does?  Or that people are going to be like that because it was in his book?  Or if we're going to censor Twilight, what about the Goosebumps series?  Or books like Go Ask Alice, or even books about drugs that may even make them seem cool?  I think it is insulting to say that teens are going to feel that is how relationships should be because they read it in a book.  I read books like Flowers in the Attic when I was in middle school, and it didn't make me want to have sex with my brother!!
Am I saying that I like every type of book/fiction/story that there is?  NO!  I personally do not care for Manga or Graphic Novels really.  But I do read them occasionally, like I tried the Buffy the Vampire Slayer season 8 comics because I wasn't ready to lose my favorite show.  But didn't really enjoy it.  But as I've said many times before, I love that there are all the different genres and formats for reading.  I like that people aren't all the same, I mean how boring would it be if everyone liked exactly the same thing and there were never any different thoughts or ideas?  Sounds like a dystopian novel to me.  Maybe I should write it.
This is kind of an all over the place rant I guess.  But I get so emotional when people won't even listen to my side.  And some of these people are the kind who want people to have as much freedom as possible, and would normally be against censorship, but to me this is in a way censorship.  If you have a problem with it, don't let your kids read it, that's your choice.  And I won't say a word about it.  But if you sit down with your kids and discuss things with them, or take an active part in their life, it might be good to have them read books like that and see what they think or got out of the story.  Am I crazy?  Am I wrong to say that fiction is fiction?  And that I believe teens are smart enough to figure that out?  Do I know/think that there are teens (as well as many adults) who may not figure that out?  Yes!  I do!  But I think most people are intelligent enough to figure it out, either on their own, or because they did have the type of upbringing that helps them to think for themselves.
So, what ideas do I need?  I need a way to help myself not get so emotionally upset by stuff like this.  I know it's not personal, but I feel like these people are telling me I don't understand what I read, and that I shouldn't like it or recommend it to teens based on what their opinions/thoughts on the book are.  Again, usually once we give our opinions and agree to disagree, I'm fine.  It's only when they continue to harass me about how wrong I am, and won't stop, in fact tell me to stop and move on, even when they won't agree to disagree because they're right and I'm wrong, that it makes me emotional.  And by emotional, I mean that when I get angry, I start to tear up.  I think I got this from my mom.  And I hate that it is how I show emotion because it makes me seem weak to people.  At least that is the impression I get from them.  At least in this case it was an all online thing.  But the disappointment is that it was on someone who I've lately considered to be a friend's facebook post, and it was a friend of hers that I don't know that kept jumping all over me.  I finally went back and just deleted all my comments, but I just want to go back and keep listing all the reasons I disagree.  So, I guess I just wonder how other people deal with people, who I'll call "haters" for now.  Anyone?  Advice?  Ideas?  Suggestions?  If you think I'm just crazy, please don't comment.  I'm already a little upset at the moment.  And loyal followers, I love all of you whether we read the same kinds of books, or whether you hate Twilight, or whatever.  As the picture below might show, Twilight is literally a permanent part of me.  The tattoo on the left is mine.  The one on the right is my sister's.  And honestly, I will never be unhappy I got this.  This book series really brought my sister and me together in a way.  We'd always been friends, well once she grew up, (she is 11 years younger than me), but this really gave us a connection, a shared thing to talk about and go all fan-girl about.  And I love that my first tattoo (and only for the moment) is book related.

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Icons (Icons #1) by Margaret Stohl

I was lucky enough to win a copy of this from Little, Brown Books for Young Readers, and once again it was through a Shelf Awareness Giveaway!  The premise at first didn't "grab" me, but I knew that as I had loved Beautiful Creatures by both Margaret Stohl and Kami Garcia, I would probably love this too, and I was right.
It started out a bit slow, I wasn't quite sure what was going on, and it did take a bit to get into it, but once I did, I was hooked.  I am a huge science fiction fan, so the idea of an alien story seemed a bit more original to me in the current crop of YA novels.
The main character is Dol, short for Doloria.  She doesn't have any family, because of The Day.  The day when Earth was officially taken over by these aliens.  They had machines that I'm guessing were some kind of electromagnetic pulse type, the made all the power stop, but mainly they killed people. For some reason, Dol was one of the lucky ones.  Even though her family died around her, she lived.  She doesn't know why she survived.  She has been living in the Grass, with some interesting people, including the Padre, a priest, who has been really taking care of her.  And she has a best friend, Ro.  Ro seems to have something different about him as well.  While Dol has a dot on her wrist, Ro has dots on his wrist as well.  While Dol can feel what others are feeling, almost reading minds, Ro has a different strength/power, one more like rage.  And together they can take away the hurt when it gets to much.  But Ro gets Dol a birthday present.  One that used electricity.  Only this may be a bad thing, as it draws the Sympa soldiers, the government that is in cahoots with the Lords, as the aliens are called.  Ro and Dol are captured, the Padre is killed by the soldiers.  On the train back to the city, there is another prisoner in the car that Dol is in, his name is Fortis.  Fortis is a merk, or so he says, he can get things, blow things up specifically.  And he offers to help Dol get away.  So there is an explosion, and she and Ro are able to escape, until some soldiers find them.  One of the soldiers is a boy their age named Lucas.  And Lucas is like them, he has dots on his wrist.  But, besides that?  He is the Ambassador's son.  So while Dol thinks she can trust him, Ro doesn't see how.
They are captured and taken on to the city.  Once there we get a new character in the story, Doc.  Doc's not your normal character, he's a machine.  And like Hal from 2001:   A Space Odyssey, it is unsure whose side he is on.  Fortis is able to get in through the computer somehow and connect to all of them, Dol, Ro, Lucas, and another person with the dots, Tima.  Lucas's power is kind of like a love spell, everyone can't help but like him, and often they will be persuaded by anything he says to them when he wields his power.  So of course, Dol does feel attracted to him.  But so does Tima, and she feels she has kind of a hold, or first dibs on him.  Together they learn that they have a resistance to the Icon, the big thing that the aliens, or "Lords" have put in each of the cities, the thing that causes the deaths of people.  Even the four of them don't completely make it unharmed, it does hurt their heads, to the point that they bleed out the ears when too close.  They must figure out if together they have something that can help Earth fight against these aliens, these faceless aliens that no one, as far as they know, has ever seen.
Very good start!  Can't wait to read on, as I said it just got better and better.  Sorry to my followers as I was going to pass the ARC on, but now that I'm going to see the author at the Romantic Times Convention next week, I'll be getting it autographed for myself.
If you're interested in seeing more, you can go see the book trailer at the official website:  The Icon Series.

Sunday, April 21, 2013

In My Mailbox April 21st, 2013

I will participate in In My Mailbox this week since it may be the last one for awhile that The Story Siren is hosting due to her probably having her baby soon!  I got to meet Kristi at BEA 2012 last year very briefly, and so wish her happiness with this new part in her life!  Anyway, my post probably matched the title "Stacking the Shelves" better this week, because these books didn't technically come in my mailbox.  My sister brought them back from NYC with her last weekend for me to borrow.  She had run out of things to read, and now with us living so far apart, she can't count on just coming over to my house to raid my shelves.  So a couple times I'd get a call from her while she was shopping in Barnes and Noble for some ideas of books.  I'm happy to say that she was pretty  happy with my suggestions, and that a couple of them were books I've been wanting to read, so now I get to reap the benefits and borrow her books for a change! She's also decided she needs to start shopping more at The Strand, so she can get some good deals on books, not always have to pay full price.  Anyway, I only have 3 books to share this week, so let's get on with it.

First is Holly's Inbox by Holly Denham.  I've wanted to read this for awhile since my friend Charlotte at Charlotte's Web of Books told me how funny it was.  My sister bought it based on me telling her this, and she said it was a quick but good read.

And the other book she brought for me is one I've also heard good things about, plus it is going to be coming out as a movie later this year, Austenland by Shannon Hale.  

I also found a free pdf download of As They Slip Away, an Across the Universe novella by Beth Revis.  So that was exciting!  

Only 3 books, but as I'm still way behind, and will be behind on my TBR pile forever, it's not like I'm hurting for books.  I've requested a few from Netgalley that I'm still waiting to hear back on.  And then there are some that I'm downloading and having issues getting them to show up on my Nook.  I can read them on my laptop, but I don't want to, I want them on my Nook.

Saturday, April 20, 2013

Delirium Stories: Hana, Annabel, and Raven by Lauren Oliver

A lot of times the little 1.5 or 2.5 stories that authors make available are only in ebook format.  I'd assume these originally were as well, but I was excited to see they were all put together into one actual paper book.  I bought this with the Amazon gift card that I won from The Reader's Den.  And I'm glad to say it was definitely a good way to spend part of that prize!  I also often feel that the little in between stories are a waste of time, and while $1.99 or whatever the small price they cost seems fair, on occasions I am left feeling like I wasted that money.  As much as I love the Wither series by Lauren DeStefano, the short novella, Seeds of Wither, was actually kind of a disappointment.  There really wasn't that much new in it.  All three of the stories in this book though were 5 star stories in my opinion.  And so I'll review them each on their own.

Hana - This is the story of Lena's best friend from the first book, Delirium, it is considered 1.5 in the series, although it's not really in between the first and second books, just during the first one.  But I love hearing about their friendship from Hana's side.  To see things from her perspective really opens up the story.  Even makes me want to go back and re-read the first book to fit in my new thoughts as I read the story.  Whereas in Delirium, I actually didn't really like Hana.  Without this story it was hard to understand her.  This story really makes you like her, or it did me.  You even feel sorry for her and hope things could be better for her.

Annabel - Now we get to meet Lena's mother and what led up to her being put in the prison cell.  It is 0.5 in the series.  Learning how her "delirium" actually even worked when she got her "matches" so that she was able to marry the man she loved, even if he would never be able to actually love her like she loved him.  We learn about what her sister, Lena's aunt was like as she grew up.  Again, another emotional story that really added to the story.  Not just a little, but so much to learn about the world before, where all this began.  A great beginning to the series.  Although I think it is good to have read it after reading the actual stories, to make it all more emotional.

Raven - The 3rd and final short story, counts as 2.5 in the series.  Now of course, it does go back a little, and kind of meets up with the 2nd book, Pandemonium, but it also ties in to the end and I believe leads us up to read book 3, although I haven't read it yet!  I can't wait to read it, but no money, and since I have so many other things to read, it's on the list for maybe a library check out this summer.  I don't remember a ton about Raven from the 2nd book, but again, this story really helped to meet her and get to know her.  I do remember Blue from the 2nd book, and so reading about her and Raven was really emotional.  Just another viewpoint that gave so much more information about the story, a whole other aspect of a character.  And not just "extra" but more to the story.

If you're going to pick short novellas to spend the money on, these are definitely worth it.  All 3 of them.  I wouldn't leave any of them out.  If only all novellas had this much.  Really the only one I can remember that I felt had this much to it was in The Goddess Test series by Aimee Carter.  I'll keep trying them though!

Thursday, April 18, 2013

The World's Strongest Librarian by Josh Hanagarne

I am grateful to Gotham Books, part of Penguin Publishing for allowing me to get an advance copy of this book through a contest in the Shelf Awareness daily email newsletter.  It's been a while since I've read a memoir, but this one reminded me why I went through the phase a few years ago where I read a ton of them.    This was amazing!  I was so hooked from the minute I picked it up.  My first connection was with the author, Josh Hanagarne's, library job.  It was very similar to being a bookseller in the stories he told of their patrons compared to our customers.  I was afraid at first that I might have trouble getting into a story of someone with Tourette's, not to mention someone of the Mormon faith.  Now wait, I have no problems with those things!  I'm just saying that I often prefer to read books where I feel a connection with the main character/author.  But he drew me in right away with the library anecdotes.  From there on, I was very intrigued by the peek I got into the Mormon faith.  Not to mention as I don't know much about Tourette Syndrome, and as a teacher there is always a possibility I may one day get a student with that.  So all in all it was so interesting.
Each chapter began by listing a Dewey Decimal Classification number, such as 011.62, and then the subject it refers to, Children - Books and Reading.  This first one goes with the first chapter, as we get to start with the author even before his birth, learning about his parents, and what he's learned from them about his early years.  Hearing how his love of reading began, I'm sure my early years were somewhat similar, as my dad has told me stories of how he basically taught me to read on my own at the age of 3.  I seriously can't remember a time in my life when I didn't love books. Even in college, when I didn't really have much time to read for fun, and I didn't really WANT to read the textbooks, I loved getting books, looked forward to when I got them each semester.  I've never understood the whole "smell" of books thing.  If there is a smell, it is a subconscious one for me.  I also just adored his parents.  If I didn't already love my own parents as much as I did, I think I'd want to be raised by Hanagarne's parents.  I loved the way they dealt with everything, and especially his Tourette's.  The fact that they didn't want to make a big deal of it, that he would then always think he couldn't do things because of it, is just wow.  I think of so many students I have that if only they were given that message, maybe they would try so much harder.  And in my classroom I try to treat them that way.
I must say after hearing about how he was raised in the Mormon faith, I am a bit intrigued in learning more about the faith.  No, nothing to do with the polygamy stuff, but the other stuff.  The way it works, how they do certain things at certain times in their lives, all of it sounds pretty incredible.  I remember watching one season of MTV's The Real World, and one of the cast members, Chet Cannon, being a Mormon.  The type of person he was, well, he also really made me more interested in learning about that religion.
As we get into the part where he is really beginning to know just how severe his Tourette's is going to be, it just was so painful to read.  Mostly what I knew, and probably a majority of people without any experience with this condition know, is of  people on tv shows that blurt out inappropriate words and stuff without control.  I didn't realize it could be so bad that they hit themselves, in the face.  That at times it was so hard to control, it was hard for him to find a job, as his hands would move towards sharp machines that would have chopped off whatever got in the way, and he could barely control it.  His father was great to try to help him with this.  This is where the "strongest" part of the title comes in.  He taught his son to weight lift.  To make his body stronger.  Doing this was a big help at first.  It sounds like just the effort of putting his body through these stresses helped to tire it out so that the tics wouldn't occur as much.  Later in life though, once he was happily married, and after many stresses with trying to have children, finally had a son, the tics seemed to come back even worse.  And it was at this point that he got help from a fitness guru.  This guy was a strange duck!  But believe it or not, he did help.  While Hanagarne didn't know for sure just how much, he soon figured it out on his own.
Of course the author is still pretty young, about my brother's age, and so his life is still going.  We end the book on a pretty positive note.  He is still working on the things that help him to control his Tourette Syndrome, while raising his son, and hoping that his son will not end up suffering the way he has with it.  It is also his questioning of his faith as he's gotten older that I really related to as well.  I currently have a lot of questions about faith.  But because, like Hanagarne, I was kind of raised with the church so much a part of my life, it's always in the back of my head.  He explains the way I feel so perfectly, that I can't even summarize it any better than he says in the book.
Now, because I marked a few parts in the book that I really wanted to talk about, I'll go over those next.  One thing is where he is talking about going to the big kettlebell convention and how he sells his 29 Volume Mark Twain set in order to afford to go.  He talks about being susceptible to advertising.  I am soooo like that, I often tell myself how I am an advertiser's dream! (Only I say about a more specific type of dream that is probably inappropriate for me to say on my blog).  Commercials on tv make me want to go to certain restaurants or buy new products at the grocery store with hardly any pressure.  Even just a funny one can make me more positive towards a specific brand.  Another part, when he's talking to his mother about his faith issues, I love that she references the grandma from Flowers in the Attic.  Things like that, books I've read, tv shows I've seen or know about, movies I've seen or know about, I'm a pop culture junkie, and those are the things that strike a chord with me.
If you have a chance to read this book, do.  If you know someone with Tourette's, give them this book, it's such a good book.  I don't know if I can recommend it enough.  If you're a librarian, you'll love all the anecdotes in the story.  I now want to go visit the library where he works just because of how beautiful it sounds from his descriptions.  As a teacher, I love what he says about getting the kids in and interested.  And when he talks about the age when the kids start being "too cool" to act like they enjoy the library?  I'm seeing that with my middle school kids.  And that is where I really love when I can hook those kids back in.  Having them come back to tell me what they're reading, and how excited they are just warms my heart.  And when a parent thanks me for getting their kid to read after they've struggled with it, well that is one of the things that keeps me going when I have as horrible of school years as this has been.
I cannot say enough good things about this book.  In fact I have another author that I just really, really hope to have a chance to meet some day.  Just go, read it now!  :-)

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Waiting on Wednesday: Fire and Ash (Benny Imura #4) by Jonathan Maberry

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 picked the fourth and final book in a series, yet I haven't read the third one yet.  The reason I've chosen this is because I've decided to wait until the last one comes out and read the last 2 right in a row.  I often wish I'd found series when they were done, instead of having to wait a year or so in between each book.  And so I'm trying to make myself kind of feel like that by reading the last two in the series together.  My book this week is Fire and Ash (Benny Imura #4) by Jonathan Maberry.  Here is the synopsis from Goodreads.com:

Benny Imura and his friends have made it to Sanctuary, they've found the jet and they've discovered that civilization is struggling to regain its foothold in the aftermath of the zombie apocalypse. Scientists are on the verge of finding a cure for the zombie plague. It should be time for celebration, but it's not. Benny's best friend, Chong, has been infected by an arrow dipped in the flesh of a zombie and he hovers between life and death and Dr McReady, a researcher who may have the critical formula for a cure, has gone missing. So Benny convinces Captain Ledger to mount a search and rescue mission to find the doctor and help Chong. But with the Reapers still pursuing their plan to turn all zombies into super-fast shock troops even if they can save Chong, can they save themselves? In the fourth book of the thrilling and emotionally charged Rot & Ruin series, the battle to end all battles is about to begin...

I'm so ready to find out what happens next after book two when we lost a beloved character!  It will be interesting to see how it goes on, and also to see if there can be a cure to solve all the issues.  Because I got to meet this author at BEA, I of course have to share that picture with you here.

My zombie love has grown so much with watching The Walking Dead, where once I wasn't really a fan of zombies, or at least not a big fan.  Now, I'm pretty excited to read any book or watch any show about them.

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

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Top 10 Tuesdays: Rewind!! Top 10 Characters that I'd Name My Children After

Top Ten Tuesday is sponsored by The Broke and The Bookish. This week's "Rewind" is to pick a topic you missed or want to revisit.  As I've probably only done this a couple times, there were TONS of choices for me!  And while I hate doing more memes in a week than actual reviews, it was a very busy weekend, and so I'm a bit behind on my reading.  Guessing my Goodreads goal for the year says I'm now at least 2 books behind.  :-(

But, I also hate not posting a couple times a week, so to keep it going, I'm participating in this, and the topic I missed, that I've chosen to cover is:

The top ten characters (and literary figures) that I'd name my children after

I decided this would be fun, because there is one name I've always wanted to name a girl if I ever had kids.  Well, a name I've really liked for the past 15 or so years that is, so without further ado, here is my list!

  1. Buffy from Buffy the Vampire Slayer, part of the reason is because it is so unusual, there aren't any people named Buffy anymore, or at least it is not a common name.  And, the other reason, Buffy was just cool.  My favorite tv show ever probably, besides The Big Bang Theory and The X-Files. (I count it as a literary character/figure because I have all the books, and there are comic books!)
  2. From the same series, BTVS, for a boy, I now love the name Xander.  And it has to be spelled with an "X" not a "Z" because it is short for Alexander.  Not that I'd do anything but the Xander part.  I'd never heard it done before, always Alex, until that show.  But now of course, I know someone I worked with at B&N with a kid with that name, and I currently have a student that goes by Xander.  
  3. And because I'm one of those lame Twi-hards, I do love Bella.  
  4. Along the Twilight line, I like Cullen.  I know it is a last name, but I think it would make a neat name for a boy.  I've actually had a student with that name, but it was spelled with an "a" at the end instead of an "e".
  5. From the book and tv series North and South, I have also loved the name Ashton.  For a girl.  I wanted to name a girl Ashton Leigh, then she could be "Ashleigh" for short.  Of course then Ashton Kutcher came along, and I'd be afraid people would think that's where my name came from.
  6. From Gone With the Wind, I also love Katie Scarlett.  I loved Scarlett O'Hara, and so would love to use that name.
  7. I know for awhile I really liked the name Elizabeth, and kind of wanted to pretend that was my name, because of all the  nicknames you could get from it.  I think I got the name from Elizabeth Wakefield in the Sweet Valley High Series.
  8. Okay, starting to have to think to come up with some.  I do kind of like Clary from City of Bones.  It's unusual enough that it would be neat to have.
  9. I think I'm skipping boy names, so I'll go back to Gone With the Wind and choose Rhett.  I've never known anyone with that name, and how cool would it be?
  10. I can't think of any more!  So I'll leave it at 9.  

So, what about you?  Do you have 10 character names you would use for your children?

Sunday, April 14, 2013

Stacking the Shelves April 14, 2013

As I mentioned last week, I've been really getting a lot of stuff lately!  Plus, as I get e-galleys I'll try to start writing them down and posting for this meme, sponsored by Tynga's Reviews, as well.  I also mentioned last week about how I won a $50 gift card from The Reader's Den. Well, now I have all the stuff, books and a t-shirt, that I ordered!  So here we go, all the stuff I got this week!

First, from Netgalley, I got an e-galley of The Testing by Joelle Charbonneau.

Second, from Edelweiss, I got Project Cain by Geoffrey Girard.  

Finally, here are the four books that I ordered with my Amazon Gift Card prize:  The Selection by Kiera Cass, Delirium Stories:  Hana, Annabel, and Raven by Lauren Oliver, Soul Screamers Vol. 2 by Rachel Vincent, and Anna Dressed in Blood by Kendare Blake.

And the one other thing I got with my Amazon Gift Card was a t-shirt, in honor of my one of my favorite tv shows, The Walking Dead, and my favorite character on that, Daryl Dixon.

So, a pretty good haul for me this week!  What did you get this week?

Saturday, April 13, 2013

Destroy Me (Shatter Me #1.5) by Taherah Mafi

I know a lot of people are all Team Warner after the first book in this series.  I was not, he was the bad guy, and I just always saw him that way.  This little 1.5 novella in the series gives you a better insight into Warner, and so I can see a little bit how after reading this you could maybe be Team Warner.  This story picks up right after Juliette, Adam, and Kenji escaped from Warner and his army.  Warner was left with a gunshot wound that he is now recovering from.  We see in this story just how much Warner is NOT loved by his men.  How quickly they would be happy to see him gone.  His obsession with Juliette is followed, and we see just how obsessed with her he truly was.  There is a reason behind his obsession that is in the story.  And you get more detail into how Warner and his father's relationship is handled.  So you do feel some sympathy and see maybe why he is the way he is.

Not a lot of course about Juliette, other than parts of the journal that she left behind is written out in the book.  It is interesting to take a look at how it really was for her in the isolation of the prison/asylum type place she'd been held.  So in a way it gave us a look into her as well.

A quick read about Warner, and a good bridging point I'm sure to reach to the 2nd book, which I still need to get and read, Unravel Me.

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Waiting on Wednesday: Shudder (Stitch Trilogy #2) by Samantha Durante

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 participated in a blog tour for the first book in this series last fall.  You can see my review of the first book, Stitch, HERE.  I'm excited to hopefully participate in the blog tour this summer for the sequel, Shudder.  Here's the synopsis from the author:

It’s only been three days, and already everything is different.
Paragon is behind her, but somehow Alessa’s life may actually have gotten worse. In a wrenching twist of fate, she traded the safety and companionship of her sister for that of her true love, losing a vital partner she’d counted on for the ordeal ahead. Her comfortable university life is but a distant memory, as she faces the prospect of surviving a bleak winter on the meager remains of a ravaged world. And if she’d thought she’d tasted fear upon seeing a ghost, she was wrong; now she’s discovering new depths of terror while being hunted by a deadly virus and a terrifying pack of superhuman creatures thirsting for blood.
And then there are the visions.
The memory-altering “stitch” unlocked something in Alessa’s mind, and now she can’t shake the constant flood of alien feelings ransacking her emotions. Haunting memories of an old flame are driving a deep and painful rift into her once-secure relationship. And a series of staggering revelations about the treacherous Engineers – and the bone-chilling deceit shrouding her world’s sorry history – will soon leave Alessa reeling…
The second installment in the electrifying Stitch Trilogy, Shudder follows Samantha Durante’s shocking and innovative debut with a heart-pounding, paranormal-dusted dystopian adventure sure to keep the pages turning.

I'm very excited to read this after where the first book left off.  The expected release date is going to be June 15th, 2013.  You can add it to your Goodreads shelf below:

Add Shudder to Goodreads

And if you want, you can even enter to win a print ARC of Shudder using the Rafflecopter below.

Enter the Giveaway HERE!!!

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

Monday, April 8, 2013

Unnatural Creatures: Stories Selected by Neil Gaiman

Thanks to HarperCollins Children's Books and Epic Reads, I won this ARC from a contest in the Shelf Awareness email newsletter.  I haven't read a lot of Neil Gaiman books, American Gods was one that I read and did really like though.  So I knew that I was interested in this.  The really cool thing about this book is that when people purchase a copy of it they will be supporting a nonprofit organization called 826DC that supports students with their writing skills, as well as helping teachers inspire their students to write. As a middle school teacher, I think this a great organization.
I went into this book expecting a bunch of new short stories about, as the title says, unnatural creatures.  And it is about those things, but most of the stories are not new.  One of the stories even dates clear back to 1885!  Now, as will most often happen, there were some stories I liked, and others that were ehh, and some that just were kind of confusing.  The stories started out pretty short, and seemed to get a little longer as the book went on.  I'll talk about a few of my favorites.
I have to list the story that Neil Gaiman wrote first, Sunbird.  It's basically a story about the phoenix.  Kinda like Fawkes in the Harry Potter stories.  The story is about a very exclusive group called the Epicurean Club.  Their main goal is to try to eat as many rare and outlandish things as they can.  Supposedly they've had unicorn, fruit bat, flash frozen mammoth, giant sloth, giant squid, and in the twenties they even had man on the menu.  So this current group of members is trying to find something else new that they haven't eaten.  One member brought up the idea of the Suntown Sunbird.  Most of the members have never heard of it, or believe it to be imaginary. Which is when the fact that they'd had unicorn is brought up.  Eventually they decide to go capture it, in Egypt, and try it.  The twist in the story is pretty good!  I won't give it away.  And there was one point in the story that immediately made me smile.  When they ate the mammoth, one member, Jackie Newhouse, says that all he could think of was Kansas City barbecue sauce and what the ribs on the mammoth would have tasted like if they'd been fresh.  Have I mentioned that I live in Kansas City?  And that we are pretty well known for our barbecue?
The next story that I really enjoyed was called The Cockatoucan; or, Great-Aunt Willoughby by E. Nesbit.  This is about a little girl that is not happy with the fact that she has to go visit her Great-Aunt Willoughby.  Only she lucks out when her nanny/nursemaid takes the wrong bus and they end up in a town where the buses don't ever return, and so they are stuck.  Once there the king asks for her help with the cockatoucan, who every time it laughs, something gets messed up.  In fact, immediately when they get there, the cockatoucan laughs and Pridmore, the nursemaid is turned into a type of vending machine, that when you push the button, dispenses "advice" or the little sayings she would always spout to the little girl, Matilda.  Matilda all of a sudden becomes very clever when the bird laughs, and so decides to stay and try to help the King get his kingdom back.  As good as this story is, can you imagine that it was written back in 1900?  Wow!
The last story I'm going to mention is called The Compleat Werewolf by Anthony Boucher.  It was written in 1942, which you can tell from reading it, as it is about Germany, and all that was going on during that time period.  Also, it is about a werewolf.  Only the way this type of werewolf works is that you have to say certain words, and he will change into a wolf.  And in order to return to a human, another word has to be said.  The problem?  You can't say the word as a wolf.  So you need someone you trust to say it for you.  This works mostly for the main character, Wolfe Wolf.  Yes, that is really his name.  When he changes at first he goes out into nature, then he gets bored and misses people, so he goes back into town.  While there he helps a little boy home, and even stops a robbery.  But when he gets back late to where the man who is helping him is supposed to be waiting, and he can't get in, he decides to go to his classroom, see he is a German professor, and scratch the name on the chalkboard so that one of his students will say it.  They do, and he is human again, but unfortunately naked.  This leads to losing his job.  He's been really unhappy because he proposed to the woman he loved, a former student named Gloria.  She is now an actress, and has told him he is not someone she could ever love like that.  But now she's coming back and Wolfe is so excited to see her, and thinks that showing her he is a werewolf will definitely impress her enough to make her give him a chance.  I'll stop there, and let you read the rest!
There are many other stories, 13 others.  And there are a few that this is their first time being published.  So there are newer stories and older stories.  And some that it is maybe a stretch to say it is an unnatural creature, or maybe you could say it is almost just alluded to, and not really easy to get.
I'll be passing this ARC on with the ARCycling project.  Now, I just have to remember to try to log on and try to get my own recycled ARC one of these Sundays.

Sunday, April 7, 2013

Stacking the Shelves April 7, 2013

I don't normally do these as often, but I've been winning and also getting ARCs from publishers more lately, so I have a few to share this week, and I want to do it before I forget!  This is a meme sponsored by Tynga at Tynga's Reviews where we share what books we got in the past week.

While I only got 2 actual books in the mail this week, I also won a gift card from The Reader's Den's One Year Blogoversary giveaway!  I'll share my books that I bought with the gift card when they arrive in the mail.

First I received Before I Fall from Michelle at I Loved This Book when she participated in the Spring Cleaning Giveaway Hop.  While I've already read this one, I loved it, and really wanted to have my own copy to read again.

The other book I got was an ARC of Icons, a new series by Margaret Stohl, one of the authors of the Beautiful Creatures series.  I received this through another Shelf Awareness contest from Little Brown Books for Young Readers.

Not a ton, but two really good ones!  What books did you add to your bookshelves this week?

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Waiting on Wednesday: Breath (Riders of the Apocalypse #4) by Jackie Morse Kessler

Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly event hosted by Jill at Breaking the Spine where we spotlight upcoming releases that we're eagerly awaiting. My choice this week relates to the last couple of books I read and reviewed.  I'm so excited that I chose to read those 2 right before the 4th and final book of the series is going to be published.  Just 2 more weeks till I can read it!  As I mentioned in one of the reviews, the author, Jackie Morse Kessler, is going to be in my town, Kansas City, at the beginning of May as part of the Romantic Times Convention.  And I've already signed up to go on Friday and to all the Teen Day stuff on Saturday.  So I hope to get her to sign 2 of my books.  They say you are only allowed to bring 2 things.  But now I'll have 4 since the whole series is out.  :-(  Oh well.  Anyways, here is the synopsis of the final book in the series from Goodreads.com: 

Contrary to popular belief, the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse aren’t just harbingers of doom—they actually keep life in balance. But what happens when their leader and creator, Death, becomes suicidal?

Before the first living thing drew its first gasping breath, he was there. He has watched humanity for millennia. And he has finally decided that humanity is not worth the price he has paid time and again. When Death himself gives up on life, a teenager named Xander Atwood is the world’s only hope. But Xander bears a secret, one that may bring about the end of everything.

This heart-pounding final installment of the Riders of the Apocalypse series looks at the value of life, the strength of love, and how a small voice can change everything . . . forever.

So what do you think?  Sounds pretty interesting doesn't it?  I think so, and can't wait to read it!  What books are you excited about reading this week?

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Loss (Riders of the Apocalypse #3) by Jackie Morse Kessler

I started out thinking I'd like this book a little more than #2, Rage.  Loss is about Pestilence, the bringer of disease. The main character is a 15 year old boy named Billy.  At first I figured it would relate to his grandfather who had Alzheimer's.  But then we learn that Billy has been bullied his whole life.  In fact he has just given in, and just hopes when they do whatever they're going to do with him, that it will end quick and without visible bruising that he would have to explain to his mother.  His best friend is a girl named Marianne, that he is beginning to like more than a friend.  But he doesn't want to lose his friendship with her, so he keeps it to himself.  Billy has a nightmare of someone he calls the Ice Cream Man from when he was like 4 years old.  The man offered him a ride on his horse, if he would do something.  Because Billy agreed, turns out he was tricked into taking over the job of Pestilence.  But Pestilence isn't actually dead.  He's gone off and disappeared.  To the point that he's not able to be found.  He's lost in his memories.  Death comes to Billy and gives him a choice.  He can either take over the job or he can help Death get Pestilence back to work.  So Billy ends up being sent into the White King's dreams and memories to try to find him.  But not before Billy gets the chance to wield the Bow on some of  his bullies, causing them to get sick and run off.  Once in the head of Pestilence, Billy begins to get lost.  Some memories play over and over.  And Billy has to try to figure out how to find him.  When he does, and pulls him back out into the world, Pestilence has decided he's seen the end of the world, and there is no use fighting it.  So now Billy must help take care of this problem, even if it means killing him.  Which could in turn end up in Billy's death as well.

Not that the story wasn't good, it was.  But it just seemed so all over the place.  While that makes sense since this Pestilence has been around for a long, long time.  Sometimes it just got to be too complicated.  It was interesting to hear about past Riders, before the ones we now know.  It also was neat to hear about how Death looked at those times, and to find out what Pestilence thought of Death and the apocalypse.  Throughout the last two books, Death has been sure to assure the new Riders that they aren't necessarily there to bring about the apocalypse, but to keep balance in the world in order to maybe prevent it?  It's an interesting take on this idea.  Now, I can't wait for the 4th and final book to come out, Breath.  In fact, that'll be my WOW post tomorrow!  And once again the author is donating part of the proceeds from people who purchase the book to a charity, in this case it is to the Alzheimer's Association.  And it is a good deal on these books.  This one cost $8.99, and knowing that part of the cost goes to such worthy charities makes it so easy to go buy these books.

Monday, April 1, 2013

Fool For Books Giveaway Hop

This Hop is sponsored by Kathy at I Am a Reader, Not a Writer.  And I decided it would be fun to do in honor of April Fool's Day.  This time the giveaway will only be available to the United States, sorry about that.  I'll try to do the next one International again.  This time I'm giving away a $10 gift card to Barnes and Noble.  So just fill out the Rafflecopter below, then hop along to the other blogs participating in the Linky underneath the Rafflecopter.

a Rafflecopter giveaway