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Monthly Archives: April 2012

Mailbox Monday

Mailbox Monday is a weekly event started by Marcia from A Girl and Her Books, and is now hosted on a blog rotation. Cindy of Cindy’s Love of Books is the host for the month of April. This is my first week participating in Mailbox Monday and I’m so excited to visit some new blogs and see what everyone received this week.

This week’s mailbox is pretty eclectic for me and I’m glad to expand my horizons and check out some new authors.

This week’s new arrivals:

Review:

Miracle by Elizabeth Scott – Already enjoyed and reviewed this one here. Devoured it quickly like I read all of Scott’s books.

The Mongoliad: Book One by Neal Stephenson – This book is a hard one to label, but it seems to be a serialized fantasy historical book and it sounds very unique. I’m excited my husband is interested in reviewing this one!

The Taker and The Reckoning by Alma Katsu – The covers are so pretty. It’s a historical paranormal trilogy, and I’m having a hard time describing it but it looks good!

Ready Player One by Ernest Cline – What do you think of the new paperback cover? I’ve already listened to the audiobook but am excited to have a hard copy to read.

Fated by Alyson Noel – The first book in the Soul Seekers series – received for an upcoming blog tour.

eGalleys from NetGalley & Edelweiss:

Code Name Verity by Elizabeth Wein – I hit the jackpot this week with all the Read Now’s on Netgalley. This one is a historical YA that has gotten some good early buzz.

Timepiece by Myra McEntire – This is the sequel to last year’s Hourglass, a book I own and need to read, stat!

One Moment by Kristina McBride – I’m always interested in reading more YA mysteries.

The Glimpse by Claire Merle – A romantic dystopia with a very pretty cover.

Something Like Normal by Trish Doller – A contemporary YA with a male protagonist. Have to say, the early reviews make this sound so good.

A Thunderous Whisper by Christina Diaz Gonzalez – A new historical YA from the author of The Red Umbrella. This one comes out in October.

Kindle purchases:

Tempting the Best Man by J. Lynn – J. Lynn is Jennifer Armentrout’s adult romance pen name. I liked Obsidian a lot so took a chance for $2.99.

The Masque of the Red Death by Edgar Allan Poe – Kindle freebie bought to peruse before reading Bethany Griffin’s Masque of the Red Death.

What did you receive in your mailbox this week?

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What to Read in May: New Releases To Watch For

May brings an exciting assortment of new releases, from debut authors to established series. I’ve already pre-ordered half the titles on this list & the only problem is finding the time to read them all. These ten books are on sale the first two weeks of May, and with so many great options it was certainly hard to narrow down the list. Here are 10 books I have my eye on in May:

Insurgent by Veronica Roth (May 1) – Finally, right?

Shine by Jeri Smith-Ready (May 1) – The final book in the Shade trilogy

The Vicious Deep by Zoraida Córdova (May 1) – The first book in a series about a merman. Lots of interesting sea creature type books coming out this month, and this one looks like a lot of fun.

Sweet Evil by Wendy Higgins (May 1) It’s about angels, but I’m cautiously optimistic.

Until I Die by Amy Plum (May 8) – The sequel to Die for Me – more revenants!

Second Chance Summer by Morgan Matson (May 8) Been waiting for this one for a long time- Amy & Roger’s Epic Detour is a big favorite of mine & I hope Matson’s second book is just as great.

In Honor by Jessi Kirby  (May 8) – How can I not read this- one of the characters is inspired by FNL’s Tim Riggins. I’ve just started an FNL re-watch too but I’ll have to stop watching to read this one.

Hemlock by Kathleen Peacock (May 8) – I’m a little hesitant because it’s about werewolves, but have heard other good things about it.

Struck by Jennifer Bosworth (May 8) – Religious cults and a lightning addict- I am intrigued.

Gilt by Katherine Longshore (May 15) – A historical fiction debut about the court of King Henry VIII.

What are your May must-reads?

Clockwork Prince by Cassandra Clare Audiobook Review

Book: Clockwork Prince (The Infernal Devices #2) by Cassandra Clare, Simon & Schuster Audio, December 6, 2011

Audiobook Info:  YA Fantasy, Received for review from Audiobook Jukebox, Audio length: 15 hours 39 minutes, read by Ed Westwick and Heather Lind.

Rating: 4 / 5 Stars

More Info: Audible | Goodreads | Amazon

In the middle book of Cassandra Clare’s Infernal Devices trilogy, drama continues for the Shadowhunters. Charlotte may lose her seat as the head of the Institute, and Tessa, Will and Jem could soon be without a home. The team has to get to the bottom of the feud with the Magister before it’s too late. Meanwhile, Tessa can’t decide which Shadowhunter she loves the most.

I recently listened to the audiobook of Clockwork Angel, and I enjoyed it, though not as much as the Mortal Instrument series.  The slow pace and new characters took some time to get used to, even though I appreciated the charm of the Victorian England setting and new mysteries. Because I’m a fan of Clare’s I had to take a chance on the next installment. This time around I felt more comfortable with the book and it was a much easier listen. The characters got to show more personality and made me care about their fates. And, maybe even the two new audio narrators had something to do with a more successful experience this time around.

Clockwork Prince introduces more new characters and mysteries. There are answers to questions introduced in the first book, some shocking reveals and revelations, and even more questions to ponder. We get to know side characters such as Charlotte, Henry and Sophie a little better and there are some lighthearted times in addition to the familiar mystery and angst. And lots more of my favorite Magnus Bane.

What summarizes the book to me is the love triangle. It is one of the most torturous love triangles I’ve ever read. It seemed to me that most every scene in this book led back to the tangled love affair between Tessa, Will and Jem.  This is one agonizing and angst-filled situation. And all I can say is with trilogies the middle book breaks your heart and I don’t for a minute think this triangle is over.

I listened to the audiobook of Clockwork Prince to enhance the Victorian London flavor. It always takes a bit of an adjustment getting used to a new narrator in a series, such as the case with this book. The new narrators are Heather Lind (she read Blood Red Road) and Ed Westwick (of Gossip Girl and City of Fallen Angels). I’m familiar with both narrators so it wasn’t too hard to get used to them. They took turns with the narration, with Lind reading more of the Tessa oriented chapters, and Westwick taking on the Will centered chapters. Both of them did a great job with the accents, of which there are many types in the book. Lind has a pleasant voice to listen to and matched very well with my impression of Tessa. She even sings the parts of Agatha the heartbroken singing cook. Westwick gives a dramatic performance, and captures the emotional highs and lows of Will and the other characters admirably. At first I thought Westwick was better suited for the more contemporary Mortal Instrument series, but I warmed to him as the book progressed. Whereas Clockwork Angel took me over two weeks to listen to, I knocked off this book in half the time – and I think the narration made some of the difference.

With Clockwork Prince, I’m fully on board with the series and anxious to read Clockwork Princess in March of next year. If you like a charming historical setting, steampunk, fantasy, and of course love triangles then this series is for you. I enjoyed the audiobook experience, but listen to a sample before taking the plunge to see if it’s your cup of tea.

Check out an interview with Cassandra Clare & Ed Westwick discussing the audiobook below:

Fated by Alyson Noel Earring Pre-Order Promotion

Fated is the first book in Alyson Noel’s Soul Seekers series that is due to hit shelves on May 22. If you pre-order a copy of the print/audio/e-book now St. Martins Press will send you a FREE pair of feather earrings. Click HERE for all the details.

I just received a copy of the book, and it really is so, so pretty. And the purple color even matches my blog!  The reviews are starting to trickle in and even non-Immortals fans are intrigued. It’s kind of fun to get some jewelry just for ordering a book, right?

Read on to get the lowdown on FATED:

The first book in a magnificent new series about a girl who can navigate between the worlds of the living and the dead by #1 New York Times bestselling author Alyson Noël.

Lately strange things have been happening to Daire Santos. Animals follow her, crows mock her, and glowing people appear out of nowhere. Worried that Daire is having a nervous breakdown, her mother packs her off to stay in the dusty plains of Enchantment, New Mexico with a grandmother she’s never met.

There she crosses paths with Dace, a gorgeous guy with unearthly blue eyes who she’s encountered before…but only in her dreams. And she’ll get to know her grandmother—a woman who recognizes Daire’s bizarre episodes for what they are. A call to her true destiny as a Soul Seeker, one who can navigate between the worlds of the living and the dead. Her grandmother immediately begins teaching her to harness her powers—but it’s an art that must be mastered quickly. Because Dace’s brother is an evil shape-shifter who’s out to steal her powers. Now Daire must embrace her fate as a Soul Seeker and find out if Dace is one guy she’s meant to be with…or if he’s allied with the enemy she’s destined to destroy.

And these are the Soul Seekers inspired earrings you could receive free if you pre-order FATED:

To read more about Fated, check out an excerpt and bonus scene on the Soul Seekers Facebook page. Check back later in May for more Fated content!

Miracle by Elizabeth Scott

Book: Miracle by Elizabeth Scott, Simon Pulse, On Sale June 5, 2012

Book Info: Young Adult Contemporary, Received from the publisher, Available in HC 224 pages

Rating: 4 / 5 Stars

More Info: Goodreads | IndieBound | Amazon | Author’s book page

Megan is the only survivor in a small plane crash, and now seen as a miracle in her parent’s eyes.  Megan is shell-shocked from the experience, but continues to go through the motions as if everything is fine. Megan withdraws from soccer, her friends, and her classes, retreating because of the ghosts that haunt her. She finds comfort from some unlikely sources, including Joe the troubled boy next door, and Margaret, a war veteran church acquaintance, who can see through her miracle façade.

Miracle is Elizabeth Scott’s 11th book (I’ve read 4 of them so far) and is as intense and personal as I’ve come to expect. Miracle has a raw honesty as it delivers an authentic look at PTSD. I felt all the emptiness and isolation in Megan as she worked through the aftermath of the plane disaster.  The book also takes a look at the individuals closest to Megan, who just don’t get what she’s going through, mainly because she won’t let them in.

The story is told through Megan’s POV and takes place right after the plane crash. She doesn’t remember the crash, but fakes that she does just so she can get out of the hospital already. Bits and pieces begin coming to her and make it impossible for her to resume her normal activities. All of the symptoms of PTSD were there, and it was interesting that those closest to Megan refused to see her obvious need for help. Where previously Megan’s sickly little brother was the focus of attention, the plane crash created a shift in the family dynamic, as the parents became all about Megan.

Two people recognize that not all is right in Megan’s head and become a support system in her healing journey. Joe, her gorgeous next-door neighbor, is one who is no stranger to survivor’s guilt.  And though the book is not all about the romance, the two bond over their experiences. Margaret is another character who stood out for me, and her experience as a Vietnam vet makes her uniquely suited to recognize some of what Megan is going through. Both characters are societal outcasts in their own way and I really enjoyed getting to know them.  Margaret especially stole the book, and I loved all the details about her character, such as her pushing milk on Megan, the homemade bears that littered her home, and her matter of fact personality.

Scott’s stripped-down prose is well suited to the story and subject matter and makes it an intense quick read. Megan’s experience is one that many who have experienced a loss may relate to. The journey is not easy and the characters don’t always behave the way you want them to. This portrait of a PTSD survivor is a gratifying reading experience.

Other Reviews of Miracle:

This Blonde Reads

Proud Book Nerd

Midnight Book Girl

So Many Books, So Little Time

Wonder by R.J. Palacio

Book: Wonder by R.J. Palacio, Random House Children’s Books, published Feb. 14, 2012

Book Info: Middle Grade, Received from NetGalley, Available in HC 313 pages

Rating: 5 / 5 Stars

More Info: Goodreads | IndieBound | Amazon

I started reading Wonder on a whim over the weekend and couldn’t put it down. I’d heard good things about the book for months, and liked the book trailer, but for some reason I kept finding other books to read instead. Even though I do like middle grade books, the subject matter of this one gave me pause. Anyway, the story is so engaging and uplifting, much more so than I had expected.  Totally a worthwhile read and I’m so glad I finally read it.

10-year-old August Pullman was born with a severe facial abnormality. His parents home schooled him all of his life due to his frequent surgeries and medical appointments. Now, when others August’s age are starting middle school, his parents think the time may be right for August to attend school as well.  Auggie is a normal kid inside, smart and funny, and loves Star Wars and videogames. But will his new classmates be able to see past his outward appearance?

Auggie is so endearing- he won me over from the very first pages. I was so scared for him to start middle school. Middle school is terrifying under the best of circumstances! And even though Auggie has seen reactions of strangers around him all his life, it’s hard to prepare yourself for this age group. I, like Auggie, hoped for the best but steeled myself for the worst. His experience has highs and lows and focuses in on a handful of students and teachers and the different ways they interact with Auggie.

There are a few kids assigned to keep an eye out for Auggie at school to show him around. Auggie is very perceptive about others and is a good judge of character- he really is a brave little guy. It’s interesting to see the world through Auggie’s eyes and then later revisit the same scenes through the eyes of his friends when the book shifts to multiple POV.  I hadn’t expected the book to shift POV actually, but it does satisfy some curiosity by hearing other characters perspective. Two of Auggie’s classmates, as well as his sister, her friend, and boyfriend all take a turn at the narration. Auggie’s sister Via is a standout character, as she shares the effect her brother has had on her life.

Hearing the different reactions to Auggie made me think about who I would be in the scenario, and I’d react in middle school if I had a classmate like him. My daughter and I had a dialogue about it, and you always hope you’d be compassionate, but it’s hard to know what is the right way to respond in the moment. The book does a great job of making you think about how to treat people fairly and with compassion. The writing is accessible and has a light touch, even though there are some heavy and distressing scenes. It is just perfect for a middle grade audience, and to read aloud for class discussion or at home. But really I think this uplifting story is appealing for all ages.

Check out the book trailer:

In My Mailbox (57)

In My Mailbox is a weekly event hosted by The Story Siren where we get to share the books we received over the week for review, purchase, loan or trade.

This week’s new arrivals:

Won:

Pandemonium (ARC) by Lauren Oliver – signed. Since I missed Lauren Oliver’s tour stop in my town I was happy to win a signed copy. Thanks Jenna!

eGalleys from NetGalley:

Glitch by Heather Anastasiu – This was a Waiting on Wednesday pick from way back so I was excited to find this one.

Nothing Special by Geoff Herbach – For an upcoming blog tour- this is the sequel to last year’s Stupid Fast.

Library – Overdrive Ebook:

Incarnate by Jodi Meadows – The reviews are all over the place for Incarnate and I’m really curious about it.

What did you receive in your mailbox this week?

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