Monday, April 30, 2012

Marcelo in the Read World

Marcelo in the Real World
Francisco X. Stork
312 pages
Publisher: Scholastic
Source: library

You can read the Goodreads summary here.

Marcelo in the Real World is the second novel by Francisco S. Stork that I've read (I read Irises earlier this year and mostly enjoyed it).  I picked it up at the library because it fit the criteria of a book challenge I'm currently working on... read a book about special needs.

Marcelo has a high functioning form of autism and has attended a special school all his life.  Now that he's seventeen and about to be a senior, his father would like him to try attending the public school for his last year.  In order to prepare him, he gets Marcelo a job at his law firm in the mail room so he can experience a bit of "the real world."  It's there he meets Jasmine, the eighteen year old in charge.  Soon Marcelo is pulled into office politics and is experiencing more of "the real world" than he ever thought he would.

I really liked the concept of the book and for the first half of the novel I was happy to read about Marcelo thrust into a world he didn't want to be in.  I was happy to see him adjust and grow up a bit as well.  Marcelo is not just a book about a teenager with autism, but it's also definitely a coming of age novel.

Ultimately, however, the characters really dragged down this novel.  I don't just mean Marcelo; he was tedious to read about, but I think that was probably the point of his character.  It was the other characters that bothered me.  I didn't feel like I got to know Jasmine very well; her character at the beginning of the novel seemed so different to me than the one at the end of the novel and I'm not sure how or why that change came out.  In addition to that the character of Wendall pissed me off.  Again, I'm sure that was the point but everything about him made me angry and I just wanted to punch him.  So much for the pleasant reading experience the first half of the novel was.

Three stars... I liked this book, but it didn't elicit any feelings of amazement from me and at times I found the characters so tedious and annoying that I had to shut the book.  If you run across Marcelo in the Real World at a discount book sale or something, I would suggest picking it up.  Several others have read the book and absolutely loved it.  In addition, it was won several awards.

Sunday, April 29, 2012

In My Mailbox (32)

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

Temptation by Karen Ann Hopkins

Death on Tour by Janice Hamrick

The Miseducation of Cameron Post by Emily M. Danforth (this book is massive but sounds amazing!)

I won a giveaway for a mystery box on Lovely Little Shelf's blog and the package came this week!  If you haven't been to her blog, go take a look around, it's a great blog.  Anyway, here's some pics of what I got along with my first ever video clip of me talking about books!  

Awesome bag!
Peanut M&Ms  not shown... because I already ate them.

Total TBR: 168

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

The Girl in the Clockwork Collar

The Girl in the Clockwork Collar
Kady Cross
411 pages
Publisher: HarlequinTeen
Source: NetGalley

You can read the Goodreads summary here.

This review may contain spoilers from The Girl in the Steel Corset, the first book in the series.

The Girl in the Clockwork Collar starts five days after The Girl in the Steel Corset ends; Finley, Griffin, and their entourage have left London for New York, where they think their friend Jasper has been taken by the police.  Instead, it turns out Jasper has been stolen away by an old enemy who wants a contraption that Jasper has hidden around the city.   While Jasper must find the pieces, his love interest, Mei, has also been captured and is wearing a special clockwork collar - one false move and it will tighten around her neck choking her to death.

I loved this book just as much as the first one and for pretty much the same reasons.  The steampunk genre is rich in fantastical technology and, of course, the setting and clothing of the Victorian Era.  What's more awesome than a girl with a parasol kicking some butt?  Finley Jayne is one of my favorite heroines in YA lit - she coming of age, getting to know herself, falling in love, but she's not shy and needy.  She knows how to fight and look out for herself, which is convenient considering in order to help Jasper she has to fight her way into his captor's gang to get in on the inside.  As perfect as that sounds, though, Finley also has her human flaws, sometimes struggling to balance her good and dark side.

Eeeee... I just adore these books so much!  Even though this book is over four hundred pages, the time just flew by as I was reading.  From great settings and costumes, from fights to balls and parties, this book has a little something for everyone.

Five stars!  If you haven't started reading this spunky, butt-kicking series yet, you really ought to consider it.  The Steampunk Chronicles series is so much fun, it would be a great start for someone who wants to try out the steampunk genre.  Meanwhile, I can't wait for the next book!

Sunday, April 22, 2012

In My Mailbox (31)

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

Small week this week!

Prom Dates to Die For edited by Mari Farthing


Total TBR: 168 (WOO! Back under 170!)

PS:  Don't forget to enter my giveaway to get a copy of Prom Dates to Die For and some Bath & Body Works swag!!  Click here to enter.

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Prom Dates to Die For + GIVEAWAY!!

Prom Dates to Die For
Edited by Mari Farthing
140 pages
Publisher: Buzz Books USA
Source: the publisher

You can read the Goodreads summary here.

Prom Dates to Die For is a collection of paranormal, prom-themed short stories by YA authors Lena Brown, Heather Dearly, Kelly Parra, Jenny Peterson, and Aaron Smith.  Each story features a different kind of paranormal, but all the stories compliment each other very well.

My favorite story was definitely the third story, "Every Breath You Take" by Lena Brown.  I thought it was the most developed of the stories and it was the one that held my interest the most.  Charlie is planning to attend prom like any normal high school girl, but it turns out her vintage prom dress is haunted by the dress's previous owner... and that owner is looking for revenge!  I loved this story!  It was spooky and wove all the characters together to the same tragic event.

The first story, "Darkness Becomes Him" by Kelly Parra, was my least favorite.  It was the shortest of five stories and the least developed.  It did feature a lot of action, though, involving a dark angel sucking souls, so that was fun.  It was certainly an example of how not to spend your prom!

I give this book four stars!  I really enjoyed all the stories except for the first one and I think this book would be the perfect read for any high school junior or senior winding down on the school year and gearing up for prom!   That's why I'm giving my copy away!

That's right!  Enter below for your chance to win an ARC of Prom Dates to Die For!  And what do you wear to prom?  Maybe a dress made of chiffon?  I'm also giving away a 3 oz bottle of Bath & Body Work's newest signature scent, Pink Chiffon in both lotion and shower gel.  It's very sweet and girly and the perfect scent for prom night!  Even if you're fully grown, the book is great and so is the Pink Chiffon, so enter below!

*Ages 13+ and US ONLY please :)

a Rafflecopter giveaway

We Need to Talk About Kevin

We Need to Talk About Kevin
Lionel Shriver
400 pages
Publisher: Harper Perennial
Source: purchased

You can read the Goodreads summary here.

It's not very often that I review an adult novel on my blog, but I read We Need to Talk About Kevin for my online book club and it was so incredible and powerful that I have no choice but to share it with you.  This book was terrifying.  As someone who is hoping to have a baby someday... it's just terrifying.

WNTTAK is written in the form of letters from Eva to her estranged husband, Franklin, as she tries to figure out why her son, Kevin, went on a killing spree in his high school.  Kevin slaughtered seven students, a teacher, and a cafeteria worker and as the two year anniversary approaches, Eva is trying to work out why Kevin did this and who is to blame as she recounts Kevin's life from conception to incarceration.

Ultimately I felt this book boiled down to one theme - nature vs. nurture.  I've always believed it's a combination of the two (let's be honest, nothing in life is black and white) but WNTTAK really made me think about it even more.  For the first third of the novel I tended to side with nurture; Kevin's mother doesn't come off as very likable and she has obvious disdain for her baby.  I thought no matter what Kevin does, you have to at least in part blame his mother.  When I see school shootings on the television, I think the same thing.  These parents that cry into the camera and say they had no idea their son was capable of killing, how can I believe that?  How can you give birth to someone and not know?

But as the book continued on, I felt my opinions shifting.  Eva was trying, she really was, to get through to Kevin.  And yet all those things he did, how can that be mostly nurture?  It surely seemed a lot more like nature at that point, and that was even before the killings happened.

This was a serious, hardcore book.  It takes time to read because you have to digest every single word Eva writes to Franklin; how could you not?  In my desperate attempt to understand why Kevin was how he was, I had to read and re-read to try to understand.  It's a fictional account, but that's how well Lionel Shriver wrote it.  I was drawn in and as invested as if it were real.

Five stars!  I loved this book and even though the twist is so predictable I had it all figured out by page 138, I still thought it was perfectly written.   I highly, highly recommend even if adult fiction is not normally your thing.  This book is important and I haven't seen the movie yet, but I am very interested in seeing it now, even though it will probably terrify me even more.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

The Perks of Being a Wallflower

The Perks of Being a Wallflower
Stephen Chbosky
213 pages
Publisher: MTV Books
Source: library

You can read the Goodreads summary here.

This was one of those YA classics that in the back of my mind I knew I had to read someday.  So what made me finally read it?  This:

(image via Google)
It's being made into a movie starring Emma Watson!  Yay!

So I picked it up from the library and got reading.  The Perks of Being a Wallflower is a group of letters written by Charlie, a high school freshman, to some person we will never know the identity of.  The letters contain day to day ramblings of what's going on in Charlie's life, including his unrequited love for the girl of his dreams, but ultimately he's writing because "I just need to now that someone out there listens and understands and doesn't try to sleep with people even if they could have.  I need to know these people exist." (p. 2)

Have you ever read Catcher in the Rye?  I didn't read it in high school but I read it last year because it came highly recommended by my husband as the best coming of age novel ever.  The Perks of Being a Wallflower is this generations (or last generations? It was published in 1999) Catcher in the Rye.  I found the two books pretty similar, although Perks is decidedly more modern.

What really struck me was how Charlie changed over the course of the novel.  When the novel started he's moving from middle school to high school and seems very innocent, but as the book continues on it becomes apparent Charlie is willing to drop the innocence... sort of.  He takes LSD, for example, and that's pretty much the opposite of innocent, but at the same time he his letters seem so pure.  He also struggled with his mental illness and by the end of the novel we come to learn what really happened.

But there were parts of Charlie I whole-heartedly adored, most notably his ability to stand back, take things in and make great observations about people (hence his being a wallflower).  Charlie seemed pretty realistic, even if he was something an enigma.

Ultimately, I give the book three stars.  I liked it, but I didn't fall in love with it because it was so much like Catcher in the Rye.  But I still highly recommend you read it because you should always read a book before you see the movie and Emma Watson is so charming, so you know you're going to want to see it!

Tuesday, April 17, 2012


J. Meyers
265 pages
Publisher: the author
Source: the author

You can read the Goodreads summary here.

Luke and Sera are twins and they have powers that they're trying to hide from those around them; Luke has visions - little glimpses of the future that can tell him if danger is approaching.  Sera can heal - all she has to do is touch a person who is suffering from any kind of physical ailment and her touch can cure them.  Luke and Sera are only using their powers for good, but there is someone out there, someone dark, who feels threatened by their power and wants to see them killed.  When Luke has a vision that Sera will be killed, he feels lost.  His visions have never been wrong before.

Dun dun dun!!

I loved the bond between Luke and Sera, I thought they made a great set of twins and their "powers" complimented each other very well.  They didn't have a huge group of friends, but those they did have were very dear to them and it showed.  Luke and Sera were very mature for their age and had their priorities straight!  I loved how Sera would sneak off to the hospital to secretly cure those in need.  The characters in this novel are fully rounded and have believable flaws.  I loved each and every one of them.

Of course, the paranormal aspect of Intangible is pretty huge.  You've got your fairies, your darker fairies, vampires, prophecies, and so on.  It was a lot of paranormal, but J. Meyers has a way of writing so it's not information overload.  Intangible flowed really well without pages and pages of detail and explanation to bog the reader down.  The whole novel was paced very well and Intangible is definitely a great read.  Heading to the beach this summer?  Intangible would be the perfect accompaniment of sunny day by the water.

Four stars!  This was one of the best self-published books I've ever read - I couldn't find any errors and the writing was very professional.  I highly recommend this to paranormal YA fans - it's got something in it for everyone!  The ebook is very affordable right now and worth the price.

Monday, April 16, 2012

Taste Trailer and Excerpt Reveal!

I've got a special treat for you today, followers!  I've got the gorgeous cover of Kate Evangelista's new novel Taste, as well as an excerpt, and the trailer!  Lots of goodies!  Let's start with trailer:

And now for a little excerpt:

I sat up and followed Calixta’s gaze upward. I rubbed my eyes. I didn’t know what I was seeing at first. A statue? ­My brain refused to snap together coherent thoughts.  I didn’t realize I’d fallen so close to one of the garden benches until I stared up at the boy that sat on one. He was strikingly beautiful. His tumble of blonde hair curled just above his sculpted cheekbones. He wore a silk shirt and a loosened cravat, like he’d become bored while dressing and decided to leave himself in disarray. His ivory skin and frozen position was what had me mistaking him for something carved from marble by Michelangelo. Then he sighed—a lonely, breathy proof of life. If I had to imagine what Lucifer looked like before he fell from heaven, the boy on the bench would certainly fulfill that image. My brain told me I had to look away, but I couldn’t.
“Luka,” Calixta said again, her voice unsure, almost nervous. It no longer contained the steel and bite she had threatened me with, which made me wonder who the boy was.
He leaned on his hands and crossed his legs, all the while keeping his eyes fixed on the night sky. His movements spoke of elegance and control. I’d encountered many people with breeding before, but his took on the air of arrogance and self-assuredness of someone used to getting what he wanted when he wanted it.
I only realized I’d been holding my breath when my lungs protested. I exhaled. My heart sputtered and restarted with a vengeance. Luka tore his gaze away from the stars and settled it on me. I’d expected pitch-black irises, like the other Night Students, but blue ice stared back at me.
“Human,” he whispered.
He reached out, and with a finger, followed an invisible trail down my cheek. I stiffened. His touch, cooler than Demitri’s, caused warm sparks to blossom on my face. He lifted his finger to his lips and licked its tip. He might as well have licked me from the way my body shivered.
Luka’s curious gaze held mine. “Leave us,” he said, but not to me.
“But—” Calixta protested like a spoiled child.
He spoke in a language I hadn’t heard before, remaining calm yet firm. The words had a rolling cadence I couldn’t quite follow, like rumbling thunder in the distance. They contained a harsh sensuality. The consonants were hard and the vowels were long and lilting.
Footsteps retreated behind me.
Luka reached out again.
It took me a minute to realize he wanted to help me up. I hesitated. He smiled. I smiled back timidly and took his hand, completely dazzled. Even with my uniform soaked from melted snow, I didn’t feel cold—all my attention was on him and the way his callused hand felt on mine. Without moving much from his seated position, he helped me stand.
“What’s your name?” he asked. He had a voice like a familiar lullaby. It filled my heart to the brim with comfort.
I swallowed and tried to stop gawking. “Phoenix.”
“The bird that rose from the ashes.” Luka bent his head and kissed the back of my hand. “It’s a pleasure meeting you.”
My cheeks warmed. My head reeled, not knowing what to think. I couldn’t understand why I felt drawn to him. And the strange connection frightened me.
From behind, someone gripped my arms and yanked me away before I could sort out the feelings Luka inspired in me. I found myself behind a towering figure yet again. Recognizing the blue-black silk for hair tied at the nape, relief washed over me. Calixta hadn’t come back to finish me off.
Demitri’s large hand wrapped around my wrist. Unlike the night before, no calm existed in his demeanor. He trembled like a junky in need of a fix. The coiled power in his tense muscles vibrated into me.
“What are you doing here?” Demitri asked.
I didn’t know he’d spoken to me until I saw his expressionless profile. I sighed.
I flinched. The ruthless way he said my name punched all the air out of me. “You owe me answers,” I said with as much bravado as I could muster.
“I owe you nothing.” He glared. “In fact, you owe me your life.”
“I don’t think so.”
Ignoring my indignation, he faced Luka, who’d remained seated on the bench during my exchange with Demitri. “Why is she with you, Luka?”
“I wasn’t going to taste her, if that’s what you’re implying,” Luka said. “Although, she is simply delicious. I wouldn’t mind if you left us alone.”
There it was again. Taste. The word that kept coming up between these Night Students and I was connected to it in an increasingly uncomfortable way. To taste meant to sample, but what? My flesh? They had to be joking because the alternative wasn’t funny.
“The sins of the father …” Demitri left his sentence unfinished.
Luka’s smile shifted into a snarl. “Obey my command.” His chin lifted. “Kneel.”
Demitri’s stance went rigid. His grip tightened around my wrist.
Okay, weird just got weirder. Why would Luka want Demitri to kneel before him? I thought back to Eli and the others bowing to Demitri when he questioned them, but they didn’t kneel. Seriously? Were they all living on a different planet or something?
Kneel.” Luka’s detestable smirk made his features sinister rather than angelic. The real Lucifer: a fallen angel.
Without letting go of my wrist, Demitri knelt down on one knee and bowed his head, his free hand flat at the center of his chest. “Your command has been obeyed,” he said formally.
Luka nodded once.
Demitri stood up and pulled me toward the school without telling me where we were going. Not having the time to thank Luka for saving me from Calixta, I risked a glance back. Luka smiled at me. His smile spoke of whispers, secrets, and promises to be shared on a later date.

And finally, the gorgeous book cover:

So what do you think of the trailer, excerpt, and cover?  Are you looking forward to reading Taste?  I know I am!  You can find more at Kate's website,, and you can follow her on Twitter @KateEvangelista.

Sunday, April 15, 2012

In My Mailbox (30)

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

Marcelo in the Real World by Francisco X. Stork

The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky (Gotta read this before the movie comes out!)

The Difference Between You and Me by Madeleine George

My Life Undecided by Jessica Brody

The Disenchantments by Nina LaCour

PS: Don't forget to enter my giveaway to win a copy of Titanic: Voices From the Disaster by Deborah Hopkinson.

PPS:  Please take a minute and vote for me in the Independent Book Blogger Awards hosted by Goodreads.  The prize is a trip to BEA and I want to go so bad!  The link is at the top left of the page under my banner.  Thank you!

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Talisman of El

Talisman of El
Alecia Stone
251 pages
Publisher: Centrinian
Source: NetGalley

You can read the Goodreads summary here.

I thought I was really going to love this book because the description sounded great, although cryptic.  Charlie lives in a world where there are actually two worlds on Earth, that with seven billion humans on the Earth's surface, and that with an unknown number down in the Earth's core.  Charlie also has weird dreams he can't explain until he travels to that other world and learns who he really is.

Totally thought this book was going to be about a secret alien invasion.  I was wrong.

Ultimately, I had two problems while reading this book.  First, I felt like the plot was too linear and at times characters were doing one thing after another without much description as to why they were doing it.  Second, sometimes things seemed a little too convenient.  On a more technical note, the book takes place in England and the characters often refer to drawers (as in, open the drawer and fetch me that thing) as draws.  This came up several times in the book, even in a chapter title.  I don't know if this was an error if they really call them draws in England.*

Unfortunately, this was a two star book for me.  It didn't hold my interest at all and by the end I was skimming.  Talisman of El really is of the fantasy genre though, so that's part of why I didn't care for it.  Fans of Artemis Fowl would probably enjoy this book.  If you're interested it will be release May 20th.

*Note: I tried to Google it and couldn't find an answer, though I did find this oldie but goodie posting from Craigslist about it.

5/12 complete!

Friday, April 13, 2012

Titanic Giveaway!

You'd have live to under a rock to not know that this month is the 100th anniversary of the Titanic's sinking.  A few months ago I reviewed a new nonfiction book about the Titanic from Scholastic, Titanic: Voices From the Disaster by Deborah Hopkinson, an award winning children's author.  You can read my review here.  While this book is geared towards youth, I found it fascinating and I think other adults will, too.  I particularly enjoyed the photographs and immense bibliography at the end to find further reading.

So instead of donating my copy to the library book sale, I'm going to give it away to one of my adoring followers!  Enter below!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Wednesday, April 11, 2012


Lauren DeStefano
341 pages
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
Source: library

You can read the Goodreads summary here.

This review contains spoilers for Wither.

Fever stars up immediately where Wither left off - Rhine and Gabriel are on the run after fleeing the mansion and Linden's overbearing and torturing father.  Determined to get back to Rhine's home in Manhattan, they end up in a couple different places.  The first will test both their abilities to think straight and move on, while the second will provide them with something they need.

I was drawn into Fever right away and it was a fast read for me.  The plot moved at a steady clip and never left me bored, yet it did not feel rushed, either.  I was glad to see Rhine's character from the first novel remained consistent in the second and we were able to see more of Gabriel's personality.

But, the ending of this book drove me nuts a little bit.  Obviously I'm not going to give it away, but when you see it coming you'll think, "Really?"  Yes, that's really how this book ends.  It makes me think I know exactly how book three is going to go.  I couldn't decide whether or not to give this book a three or four star rating.  I'm giving it four, but reflecting back this was another sequel that felt more like a bridge between book one and three.

Four stars, though!  If you read and loved Wither, you're going to enjoy Fever as well.  I know I'm looking forward to the next novel, where I do indeed think there will be a plethora of new information.  And if you haven't read Wither, get on it!  It was one of my favorite books of 2011.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Please Vote For Me!!

Independent Book Blogger Awards
Vote for this blog for the Independent Book Blogger Awards!

Yes, this shameless self-promtion post is brought to you by the Independent Book Blogger Awards on Goodreads.  The grand prize?  A trip to Book Expo American (BEA) this summer.  WOW!

I've been working on Panda Reads for a little over a year now and I still love what I'm doing as much as I did on day one, if not more.  Every new follower I get brings me delight and every new book authors or publishers ask me to review makes me feel like people care about what I think.  Most of my free time is spent doing something to advance by blog (except when Glee is on, you know I've got to have my priorities!) and I love watching it grow.

One of the best ways to advance my blog is through networking and I was able to do a very small bit of that at the Decatur Book Festival last September.  But the biggest opportunity for me would obviously be Book Expo America.  It's been a dream of mine to get there since I first heard of it last Spring.  But times are tough for my husband and me - we have student loan debt, he's still working his way through medical school, and while I absolutely love my day job, it doesn't cover all the bills.  BEA is not an option for me...

Unless I win!  That's why I'm asking you to please vote for in the IBBA award.  Saying I would really appreciate it doesn't even begin to cover it.

I can't bribe you with a giveaway now to get you to vote for me (and even if I could, that doesn't seem very ethical) but I can tell you this - any books I get at BEA will end up back with you by way of a plethora of BEA giveaways after the event (frankly, storage space is a bit of an issue anyway).  If you've read my blog and you've seen something you liked or perhaps even found a book to read that you wouldn't have otherwise, please vote for me.  This is a once in a lifetime chance for me.


Sunday, April 8, 2012

Touch of Frost

Touch of Frost
Jennifer Estep
350 pages
Publisher: Kensington
Source: library

You can read the Goodreads summary here.

Gwen attends Mythos Academy - school for warriors who are training to fight an epic battle should the day ever arise that Loki (the Norse god) ever escape his jail.  But Gwen isn't a Spartan or any other kind of mythological fighter, she's just a geeky Gypsy who doesn't fit it and doesn't really know why she's at the school to begin with.  But when the most popular girl in school is murdered and no one really seems to care, Gwen takes it up on herself to solve the mystery and unwittingly opens the door to all kinds of evil she didn't know could actually exist.

A supernatural/mythological boarding school - yawn, it's been done - yet for some reason I was still drawn into this novel.  Gwen is definitely a geeky character, but also immediately likable and relatable.  For that reason, I wanted to make sure she would find her feet at this academy, you know, make some friends, solve a mystery and get involved.  The novel didn't disappoint and there were many action packed pages along the way.

Once the mystery at hand got under way, I felt the plot was solid with a good number of twists and turns along the way.  It definitely wasn't straightforward who committed the crime, which was good.  The plot was solid and the characters diverse.  There was also sufficient background information to help the reader understand the concept of the academy and what was going on there; I never felt lost.

Naturally, if you've got your overlooked, geeky heroine with a major inability to wield any kind of weapon, you've got to have a brooding hero to swoop in and save the day - and that would be Logan, the school's designated "ladies-man" who for some reason has his sights set on Gwen.  I was glad to see she was wary of him at first unlike some YA heroines who fall madly in love for no reason.  I just wished that part of the plot had been more fleshed out.

Three stars!  Touch of Frost had a really solid plot with just the right amount of description, I just wish there had been more scenes involving Logan, though I'm sure there will be more of him in book two.

In My Mailbox (29)

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

Penguin sent: Silence by Michelle Sagara

The author sent: The Vampire Underground by Brian Rowe

Will Grayson, Will Grayson by John Green & David Levithan

A Slave in the White House by Elizabeth Dowling Taylor

The Lover's Dictionary by David Levithan

The End of Everything by Megan Abbott

Total TBR: 170

A big, huge thanks to Penguin for sending me my first ever unsolicited ARCs!  Thanks!

Friday, April 6, 2012


Gregg Olsen
285 pages
Publisher: Splinter
Source: gift from a friend

You can read the Goodreads summary here.

I first found out about this novel late in the summer last year and immediately wanted to read it because of its haunting cover and equally haunting description.  On Christmas Day in a small town in the Pacific northwest, a teenage girl named Katelyn is found dead in her bathtub.  The immediate assumption is that it was a suicide; the coroner marks it accidental death; but twins Hayley and Taylor think something more sinister was at play and they're going to use their "telepathic twin-sense" to figure out what really happened.

This book started off a bit shaky for me, I'm not going to lie.  At first the conversations the teenagers were having seemed unrealistic - teenagers don't talk like that in real life, I thought.  Contradictorily, the text messages the high-school students were sending to each other were hard for me to decipher.  I'm getting more and more removed from being a teenager each year, do they really text like that?  (For example, "maks my iz puff ^ n l&k evn smalr thn thyre"*)  It seems like it would take more time to type that out and figure out what it means, than just typing out the normal words!  But I digress...

After the first few chapters of Envy, however, it really picked up for me.  I, too, at first assumed it was a suicide, but as Hayley and Taylor delved deeper into the mystery I realized they were onto something.  Their twin-abilites really enhanced the plot, I loved that they had special abilities that bordered on the paranormal, but weren't so extreme as to make Envy a strictly paranormal book.  I have to admit, I was also a little intrigued because I'm a twin, too, though I don't have any super cool abilities, or even a secret language with my twin.

I am dismayed to see some of the low ratings on Goodreads.  By the time I got past the shaky start of the novel, I was really drawn in, turning those pages, waiting for some vindication or revenge, or something to happen that would make it okay.  Gregg Olsen really know how to weave a mystery with well-thought detail.  I wouldn't hesitate to read anything else by him, particularly the next book in the series.

Part contemporary with a slight hint at the paranormal, Envy drew me in by twisting a sinister plot.  That's a great thing, but the worst part?  This book is partially based on a true story.  *shudder*  Envy is an important reminder of the evils of cyber-bullying.  I hate that these things happen in real life.

By the end of the novel I couldn't decide whether to give it four or five stars, but ultimately I have to get it four because of the shaky beginning for me.  But I still loved this book and I highly recommend it to all the mystery-lovers out there.  It's definitely worth a read and I, for one, I'm looking forward to getting my hands on the second book in the series, Betrayal, due out this fall.

*It took me until just now, typing this review to actually figure that one out!  I think it means, "Makes my eyes puff up and look even smaller than they are."

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Of Poseidon

Of Poseidon
Anna Banks
324 pages
Publisher: Feiwel & Friends
Source: NetGalley

You can read the Goodreads summary here.

While on vacation with her friend in Florida, Emma literally runs into Galen, a very attractive young man who, unbeknownst to her, was sent to watch her.  When her friend is attacked by a shark and Emma tries but ultimately fails to save her, and when Galen shows up at her high school the following fall, she knows something's up... she's different from the rest...

This was the first book I've ever read about mermaids, or in this case they're called Syrena.  I found the whole thing very intriguing.  Emma was a complex character, very well-developed.  She's upset over her friend's death but at the same time she's also very interested in learning what it is specifically that makes her different.  She's stubborn as all get out, but she's also shows weakness and need protecting.  I loved the secondary characters, as well.  They all came together to knit a well-written, refreshing story.

This book is told from two points of view: first person by Emma, and third person by Galen.  The two alternating pouts of view weren't confusing, but I felt they made the flow of the novel rather chunky and I didn't care for it.  That's why Of Poseidon lost one star from me.

And after all that... it was the last sentence of the book that sealed the deal for me.  I knew it was coming, but it wasn't any less shocking of a revelation when it finally came out.  Goodreads doesn't have a sequel listed for Of Poseidon, but that one sentence lead me to think as I shut off my Nook at three in the morning, "What happens next!?"  How could there not be a sequel to this awesome novel?  We shall see.

Four stars!  This is going to sound cliche, but fans of Twilight are sure to like Of Poseidon - I got the same vibe from both of them.  Of course, if you hated Twilight, there's still reason for you to pick up Of Poseidon as well, mainly just because it was such an intriguing book.  The book will be out May 22nd.

4/12 complete!

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Will Grayson, Will Grayson

Will Grayson, Will Grayson
John Green & David Levithan
310 pages
Publisher: Dutton
Source: library

You can read the Goodreads summary here.

This is one of those books that has been on my radar for quite some time, but it's always been one of those books where I think, "I'll get that to later... eventually... someday."  I knew my library had it and yesterday I finally picked it up and, surprisingly, read it all last night.

Warning: This is one of those books you'll pick up and then stay up to three a.m. to finish. 

Will Grayson, Will Grayson (hereto after known as WG,WG) follows the stories of two separate young men, both named Will Grayson.  The chapters alternate points of view.  The first WG is struggling with his group of friends after committing some social faux pas; meanwhile, his best friend Tiny is producing a play for their school based on his own, very gay life.  The second WG is a loner from another school district who also has few friends, is gay, and is in love with his online boyfriend Isaac.  But disaster strikes when he goes to meet his boyfriend offline for the first time.

I LOVED this book!  It was funny, witty, and charming.  I absolutely loved the alternating points of view in this case.  Not only did that keep the story fresh, but it kept me reading, wanting to know what would happen next to my favorite WG.  When I first started WG,WG, I was most intrigued by the first Will's story.  But as the novel went on, I was really drawn in by the second Will's story and that's the one I was most invested in by the end of the novel, which ended... very... well you'll have to see for yourself because this is a must read book.

It's a five star book, folks.  This book was published in 2010, so you very well may have already read this, but if you haven't hopped on the Will Grayson, Will Grayson train or the John Green train yet, it's time you do.

Monday, April 2, 2012


Maggie Stiefvater
325 pages
Publisher: Flux

You can read the Goodreads summary here.

I really enjoyed Stiefvater's Wolves of Mercy Falls series and I recently read (and raved) about her latest novel, The Scorpio Races.  So I didn't need much convincing to give Lament a try and I'm glad I did - I really enjoyed the novel!

Deirdre is an insanely gifted harp musician and performs in public regularly, despite her nerves.  Before one performance, she meets Luke, a mysterious young man who helps calm her fears and performs a duet with her - winning the competition!  Soon Deirdre learns she can see fairies, but Luke is a soulless fairy assassin, and despite them falling in love, he's on a mission to kill her for the Queen.

I was struck right away by the plot - as a reader I was thrown right into it rather abruptly.  It seemed rather intense (and random) how Deirdre and Luke met and that intensity stayed throughout the novel with a great sense of urgency in the words Stiefvater crafted.  Lament is definitely a page-turner.

This book had all the things a great YA novel has - mystery, deception, romance, and even a little love triangle.  That triangle came to a head by the end of the novel, though not in the way you would expect, and that's where I found I couldn't turn the pages fast enough.  I knew who Deirdre loved, but that didn't mean I knew how it would end!  In fact, that's pretty much how the whole novel went for me.  I thought I knew how this book was going to go, but it actually turned out quite different and quite beautifully.

Four stars!  I really enjoyed this take on Celtic faerie lore and I'm looking forward to reading the sequel, Ballad.  If you're a Maggie Stiefvater fan and you haven't checked out Lament or Ballad yet, I really hope you do.

Sunday, April 1, 2012

Queen of the Dead

Queen of the Dead
Stacey Kade
266 pages
Publisher: Hyperion
Source: library

You can read the Goodreads summary here.

This review contains spoilers from The Ghost and The Goth, the first novel in this series.

I LOVE THIS SERIES!  This was the second book in the "The Ghost and The Goth" series and it was just as good as the first.  The second book takes place right after the first book ends with no extended time period between the two.  Alona is still the spirit guide for Will but when they try to help the spirit of Mrs. Ruiz at the soon-to-be-torn-down Gibley Mansion, they stumble across another girl who can see spirits as well.  Alona, who can't decide if she wants to be friends or "more" with Will, sees the new girl as a threat.  Meanwhile, her mother is throwing out all her stuff and her father is moving on because his second wife has a bun in the oven.

There was so much in this novel, so much plot crammed into 266 pages, that the novel read very quickly. I read it all this afternoon and it was fantastic!  I really felt for Will when he is forced to get involved with Lily, his old friend who is in a coma (you may recall this detail from the first novel).  That was such a dramatic part of the plot, filled with so many emotions from different characters.  That plot thread carried through to the end of the novel and I can't wait to see how it's resolved in the third book.

I was also pretty interested in "The Order," a group of seers that Will's deceased father used to belong, too.  They have a unique perspective on dealing with ghosts and it will be interesting to see how this plot thread blooms in the third book.

As I mentioned in my review of the first novel, I know these covers and titles are really cheesy and these books sound like complete fluff, but underneath that happy fluffy exterior is solid plot and serious issues.  It really is the best of both worlds.

Four stars!  I really can't wait for Body & Soul to come out May first!  Hopefully my library will be a little more timely about getting the third book because I cannot wait to read it!  If you haven't started this series yet, check out more of the positive reviews on Goodreads.  Hopefully that will finally convince you to start reading!

The Earthquake Machine

The Earthquake Machine
Mary Pauline Lowry
326 pages
Publisher: AuthorHouse
Source: the author

You can read the Goodreads summary here.

Rhonda has a terrible home life: her mother is mentally ill and her father, a pharmacist, pumps her full of drugs he brings home from work.  The only saving grace in Rhonda's life is her friendship with the Mexican gardener, Jesus.  When Jesus gets deported, Rhonda flees a camping trip with her friends to sneak into Mexico to try and find him.  On her journey she renames herself Angel.

First, I need to say this: The Earthquake Machine is being billed as YA, but it is not YA.  This is an adult novel, through and through.  A common misconception is that if the main character is young, it must be a YA novel, but this is simply not true and The Earthquake Machine is a great example of that.  The Earthquake Machine has several adult themes and even though I'm all for adult themes in YA novels (I'm not a prude, I know teenagers have sex and do drugs), this one was pretty explicit.  But aside from the themes, the authors voice really lends itself to adult novel writing - so a little because of the themes and more because of the authors tone and voice, this novel really comes off adult.

I was shocked when I found out what "The Earthquake Machine" really was.  Yes, there is a machine in the novel that fourteen-year-old Rhonda turned Angel called The Earthquake Machine... I can't tell you what that is without spoiling the novel, but if you think hard enough you'll figure it out.

I could go on and ask questions like, why didn't Rhonda tell someone about what her father was doing to her mother!?  Or I could try and muse over the relationships Rhonda has, most of which I found very unrealistic.  But I'm going to stop here.  I give this book two stars - it was okay, but I was really only reading to see where Rhonda would end up in the end.

Plenty of other people on Goodreads have read this novel and enjoyed it, though, so if you read the description on Goodreads or Amazon and you decide it sounds interesting, give it a shot - you very well could like it more than I did!

March Recap

Well folks, we're down another month, so it's time for me to list off everything I read this month - some of which didn't make it to my blog.  Take a look!

Starters by Lissa Price
Portrait of a Starter by Lissa Price
Jane Vows Vengeance by Michael Thomas Ford
Kristy's Great Idea: A Graphic Novel by Raina Telgemeier
Irises by Francisco X. Stork
Fallen in Love by Lauren Kate
Post Grad by Emily Cassel
The Goddess Hunt by Aimee Carter
Yellow Crocuses by Laila Ibrahim
No Competition by Debbie Macomber
If I Stay by Gayle Forman
The Hunger Pains: A Parody by The Harvard Lampoon
Saving Cee Cee Honeycutt by Beth Hoffman
Goddess Interrupted by Aimee Carter
Forged: Writing in the Name of God by Bart D. Ehrman
Aftertime by Sophie Littlefield
Kristy's Great Idea by Ann M. Martin
Keeping the Moon by Sarah Dessen
Grave Mercy by R.L. LaFevers
Wintergirls by Laurie Halse Anderson
Changeless by Gail Carriger
Welcome, Caller, This is Chloe by Shelley Coriell

Total read in March: 22
Total read in 2012: 69
Total pages in 2012: 18,471

In My Mailbox (28)

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

Dark Kiss by Michelle Rowen

The Immortal Rules by Julie Kagawa

The Girl in the Clockwork Collar by Kady Cross (Yay!  I LOVED the first book!)

Embrace by Jessica Shirvington (Embrace was Tuesday's Nook Daily Find!)

Good Christian Bitches by Kim Gatlin (Thanks to Meg at A Bookish Affair for hosting this giveaway!  I also got an Essie nail polish in "Miss Matched" and a cute matchbook of tiny nail files!)

Left Neglected by Lisa Genova 

The Postmistress by Sarah Blake

My Name is Mary Sutter by Robin Oliveira 

Total TBR: 168