Monthly Archives: April 2012
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:
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!
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.
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?
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?
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
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 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:
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!
Book Info: Young Adult Contemporary, Received from the publisher, Available in HC 224 pages
Rating: 4 / 5 Stars
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:
Book Info: Middle Grade, Received from NetGalley, Available in HC 313 pages
Rating: 5 / 5 Stars
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:
- Wonder by R.J. Palacio (kid-lit-reviews.com)
- Review : Wonder by R. J. Palacio (tararualibrary.wordpress.com)
- Wonder by RJ Palacio – review (guardian.co.uk)
- Valentine’s Day Kids’ Exclusive: R.J. Palacio on “Wonder” (omnivoracious.com)
- Interview with RJ Palacio, author of Wonder (telegraph.co.uk)
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:
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?
Book Info: Young Adult Contemporary, Received from RandomBuzzers, Available in HC 304 pages
Rating: 4 / 5 Stars
I thought I had this book pegged by the cover, which is so punk rock and artsy. I made some snap judgments about the book, thinking it would be a little dark and gritty for my taste. And while there is a fair amount of art and punk in the book, it is at its core a sweet story about a relationship and finding self worth. As I may have mentioned before though, I am a sucker for YA books about music so I jumped at the chance to check out Zero. Throw in an artistic, self-deprecating new adult protagonist and I was so on board with this one.
Amanda “Zero” Walsh has just received some bad news that rocked her world. She didn’t qualify for a coveted art school scholarship and won’t be able to swing the money on her own. On top of that, things are beyond awkward with her best friend, and her dad’s drinking is spiraling out of control. Life takes an unexpected turn when she meets skate punk drummer Mike, and he helps give her a much-necessary boost of confidence.
Tom Leveen writes a realistic teenage girl character, one who is self-absorbed and a bit whiny, and dealing with lots of family drama. Amanda’s nickname Zero started out as a put-down junior high kids called her because she was the loner art chick. However, it stuck and she decided to own it, and even her own dad calls her Z rather than Amanda, or the dreaded Amy. Amanda has body image issues and low self-esteem and uses humor and sarcasm as a coping mechanism. She is a gifted artist and idolizes Salvador Dali, but she lacks the confidence to take her art to the next level. She has one close friend, Jenn, but they have a mysterious falling out. In a big moment of bravery she approaches the gorgeous-eyed drummer of up and coming band Gothic Rainbow, and they begin a relationship.
Mike the drummer is very crush-worthy, sweet and mature, and his scenes with Amanda spark with electricity. He is not a stereotypical rock-musician type at all, and in case you’re wondering he doesn’t have a Mohawk, as the cover would suggest. Leveen captures the feeling of first love really well, with an awkwardness and obsessiveness that rings true. And even though the two care for each other a lot, they both have a driving passion for their art that demands their attention. Their relationship goes a long way towards helping Amanda’s confidence issues, and takes some interesting and unconventional turns. It is also a more mature relationship, both mentally and physically, than found in most other YA books.
Leveen’s writing has a lot of personality and includes some humorous asides to the reader. He captures the feeling of being at a rock show, with authentic band and song names. Also, Amanda’s passion for her art comes through clearly and she gets lost in her art and makes many artistic references. I liked the feminist leanings of the book too and that the relationship wasn’t the only thing in Amanda and Mike’s lives.
Zero would be a great book for people that enjoy books about new adults, people who don’t fit in, and fans of art, music and romance. Don’t judge this book by its cover – there is a lot more beneath the surface.
Other Reviews of Zero:
I’m excited to spread the news about the 12 Days of Morganville Madness blog tour! For the next 12 days leading up to the release of the 12th Morganville vampire series book BLACK DAWN, 12 blogs will be counting down with reviews of, you guessed it – all 12 books. Follow along and brush up on the series before BLACK DAWN‘s release on May 1. There will also be interviews with author Rachel Caine, and a corresponding signed book giveaway & BLACK DAWN bookmark giveaway at every stop.
The 12 Days of Morganville Madness tour kicks off today and here is the schedule:
April 20 – GLASS HOUSES (Book 1) PageTurnersBlog
April 21 – THE DEAD GIRLS DANCE (Book 2) A New Kind of Ordinary
April 22 – MIDNIGHT ALLEY (Book 3) Book Splot Reviews
April 23 – FEAST OF FOOLS (Book 4) Hobbitsies
April 24 – LORD OF MISRULE (Book 5) Book Monster Reviews
April 25 – CARPE CORPUS (Book 6) My Overstuffed Bookshelf
April 26 – FADE OUT (Book 7) Miss Vain’s Paranormal Fantasy
April 27 – KISS OF DEATH (Book 8) The Story Siren
April 28 – GHOST TOWN (Book 9) AwesomeSauce Book Club
April 29 – BITE CLUB (Book 10) Confessions of a Bookaholic
April 30 – LAST BREATH (Book 11) Literal Addiction
May 1 – BLACK DAWN (Book 12) Release day! Mundie Moms
GIVEAWAY! GIVEAWAY! GIVEAWAY! has ended.
Congrats to Mercedes who won a copy of GLASS HOUSES & a bookmark of BLACK DAWN
From the author of the popular Weather Warden series comes the debut of an exciting new series set in Morganville, Texas, where you would be well advised to avoid being out after dark.
College freshman Claire Danvers has had enough of her nightmarish dorm situation. When Claire heads off-campus, the imposing old house where she finds a room may not be much better. Her new roommates don’t show many signs of life, but they’ll have Claire’s back when the town’s deepest secrets come crawling out, hungry for fresh blood.
Check back for my review of BLACK DAWN on May 2!
I’ve been seeing the book cover for This is Not a Test by Courtney Summers around and it’s gotten me really intrigued about the book. The blue colored background with the blood spatters and the girl with the hair covering her face – it’s all very mysterious. And it’s about the zombie apocalypse so that’s all very exciting too. Is the girl on the cover a zombie or the main character Sloane or both? Today I stumbled on the book trailer and man – is it scary and intense! The sound effects and the disturbing visuals all hit the point home that this is a serious zombie book. Hope I’ll be able to handle this one!
This is Not a Test by Courtney Summers, June 19, 2012, St. Martin’s Griffin
It’s the end of the world. Six students have taken cover in Cortege High but shelter is little comfort when the dead outside won’t stop pounding on the doors. One bite is all it takes to kill a person and bring them back as a monstrous version of their former self. To Sloane Price, that doesn’t sound so bad. Six months ago, her world collapsed and since then, she’s failed to find a reason to keep going. Now seems like the perfect time to give up. As Sloane eagerly waits for the barricades to fall, she’s forced to witness the apocalypse through the eyes of five people who actually want to live. But as the days crawl by, the motivations for survival change in startling ways and soon the group’s fate is determined less and less by what’s happening outside and more and more by the unpredictable and violent bids for life—and death—inside. When everything is gone, what do you hold on to?
And the book trailer:
Audiobook Info: Middle Grade, Received for review, Audio length: 9 hours 40 minutes, read by Julia Whelan.
Rating: 4 / 5 Stars
The Grimm Legacy is a modern day fairy tale, where a little magic can help transform a Cinderella-like girl’s life. I enjoy fairy tale retellings so I was immediately intrigued with just the title of this one. Wouldn’t it be amazing to check out authentic fairy tale objects from the library? In this magical story you can, and Elizabeth’s job as a page comes with borrowing privileges. You can’t check out Snow White’s stepmother’s magic mirror with a library card however. Prepare to part with something much more valuable like your sense of humor, or the promise of your first-born. And, since someone is stealing from the priceless collection, Elizabeth must find the thief to clear her name and save herself from being the next victim.
Elizabeth is having a tough time of it – her best friend moved away and she doesn’t fit in at school. She lives with her stepmother at home and is tasked with all the chores. Elizabeth’s history teacher takes an interest in her and recommends her for the job of page at the New York Circulating Material Repository, a very unique place. There, she bonds with the other pages that show her the ropes: Anjali, pretty, sweet and smart, Marc, the star athlete from school, and Andrew the distrustful and serious one. Items keep disappearing from the Grimm Collection, and it is starting to look like an inside job. It will take borrowing more magical objects to solve the mystery. Anjali’s clever sister Jaya is also ready to help.
In The Grimm Legacy, the magic takes center stage. The Grimm objects bring the characters together and take over the plot of the book. I really liked the idea of the Grimm collection and all of the storytelling possibilities. From the sassy Magic Mirror to the Mermaid’s comb to the Table-Be-Set, I was enchanted by all of the Grimm items. The characters all show promise as well – I just wanted to learn a little more about them, especially about Elizabeth’s home life. In addition to the mystery of the Grimm thief, there is a little romance found in the story as Elizabeth falls for one of the pages.
The Grimm Legacy originally was released in 2010, but is just now available as an audiobook. Veteran narrator Julia Whelan reads the book, and she’s most recently narrated Die for Me and Partials. Whelan is good with both the female and male voices from the young siblings to the older teachers and librarians. She speaks clearly and reads with a good pace. Whelan captures the spirit of the characters and by using a distinct voice helped me to keep track of them all. I think listeners of all ages would enjoy listening to this audiobook.
The Grimm Legacy feels like the beginning of a series, and it certainly seems that there is more story to tell. But if it’s a standalone, it’s still a fun read. And with the popularity of fairy tale retellings and Once Upon a Time it’s the perfect time to rediscover this book. Looking forward to reading more from Polly Shulman.
Top Ten Tuesday is hosted by The Broke and the Bookish and features a new top ten list each week.
This week’s TTT topic is Top Ten Tips for New Book Bloggers. I still feel pretty new at this myself and am learning things everyday, but hopefully some of these tips will be useful.
Listed in no particular order, here are 10 tips for new book bloggers:
1. Find your niche – With so many book blogs it can be hard to set your blog apart. Figure out what makes your blog special and run with it. Maybe it’s a meme, or genre, or book type- have fun with your theme and make your blog your own.
2. Learn about the publishing industry – The Shelf Awareness and Publisher’s Weekly newsletters are a good place to start. Also, sign up for Edelweiss to get real time access to publisher’s catalogs online. The ALA site is another great resource.
3. Be social – Join Goodreads, Twitter, and Facebook, Figment, Pinterest or Tumblr. Follow your favorite authors and bloggers on Twitter, tweet your blog posts, and strike up a conversation. Follow other blogs and leave meaningful comments- chances are they will return the favor. And reply to comments left on your blog. Get out from behind the book and attend book signings, panels, and other bookish events when you can. Join a book challenge or read-a-thon that strikes your fancy too.
4. Memes – Tryout a couple memes to participate in. This can be a good way to get your blog name out there and interact with the book blog community. The two I regularly participate in are In My Mailbox and Top Ten Tuesday, but there are a lot of other ones to choose from. Don’t overdo it with the memes though; your blog readers want to read your book reviews and your own unique posts.
5. Be professional – Check your spelling and grammar, especially double check the spelling of the author ‘s name and title of the book you are reviewing. Write reviews using your own voice and be honest.
6. Be organized – Schedule your posts ahead of time when you can. Keep a calendar listing your review dates for the month, book tour dates, and interview schedule and be prepared before the due date. Jot down notes if you like while you are reading to make writing book reviews a snap.
7. Books to Review – Review the books on your shelf or use your library to find books to review. Most libraries will order books for you or allow you to place books on hold, and they are a great resource for new release books. Use WorldCat to track down a library that has the book you are looking for. If you have an e-reader there are a couple of great resources for digital advanced reading copies. Sign up for an account on NetGalley and Edelweiss and request a book or two. Make sure you review the book in a timely manner and submit the review to the site so you will keep getting approved for books. LibraryThing Early Reviewers and Goodreads First Reads also have ongoing giveaways. YA book bloggers can also sign up for RandomBuzzers, PulseIt (age 14-18), and Free Book Friday to find author interviews, contests and giveaways.
8. Analytics, Stats & SEO – With all the hard work you put into your blog it is natural that you want to see your blog traffic grow. Consistency is key – just keep at it and write engaging, meaningful blog posts and honest book reviews. There are also sites such as Google Webmaster Tools you can use to analyze your blog and most popular search queries, keywords and links. You may also want to use a stat counter on your site such as sitemeter to look at traffic patterns. I’m no expert on the SEO stuff, so be sure to read April @ Good Books & Good Wine’s informative post on SEO for Book bloggers.
9. Housekeeping – Keep your blog nicely organized so it’s easy to find information. Offer multiple ways to follow your blog including RSS, Email, Twitter, or Facebook. Make sure there is a search bar for visitors to find what they are looking for. And make it easy for your readers to leave comments by allowing different ways to login (Name, Twitter, Email, etc.) and consider turning off Captcha please. Also, try not to have too many widgets in your sidebar – they compete with your blog posts and can take a long time to load or even cause your readers browsers to crash.
10. Have fun! – Running a book blog should be fun, not a chore. Ask questions. There are tons of book bloggers out there and they were all new once too. Find a mentor to show you the ropes and someday do the same for someone else. Don’t put too much pressure on yourself – remember the reasons you started your blog all come from a love of reading. Give yourself a break when you need it so you don’t get burned out.
Looking forward to checking out everyone’s lists this week! What tips do you have for new book bloggers?
Ebook Mini Reviews: Dystopian series short stories Hana, Tortured, Portrait of a Starter, Seeds of Wither
When you can’t get enough of your favorite books, these series bonus shorts can come in handy. And these bite-size books can add to the series by giving insight into side characters, as well as making the wait for the next book a little bit easier. Some add more value to the series than others, and I attempt to give you the lowdown below.
Book: Hana (Delirium #1.5) by Lauren Oliver, HarperCollins, February 28, 2012
Book Info: eBook, Purchased kindle edition, 64 pages, $2.99
The lowdown: Worth a read
Hana takes place during the Delirium time frame and is told from the POV of Lena’s friend Hana. I thought I had Hana all figured out, so it actually came as a surprise to find out I had it completely wrong. As Lauren Oliver fans have come to expect, this story has a cliffhanger ending and gives a little hint to the direction of the final book Requiem, where it’s rumored that Hana will have a bigger part. This story is longer than many other bridge stories, and adds value by giving insight into events from Delirium from a different character. I’d prefer all ebook short stories like this to cost $1.99 or less but the writing and character insight makes this a worthwhile read. I read it after reading Pandemonium, but I believe it was intended to read between the first two books.
Book: Tortured (Birthmarked #1.5) by Caragh M. O’Brien, Roaring Brook Press, December 6, 2012
Book Info: eBook, Free kindle edition, 32 pages, includes a Birthmarked bridge story and a teaser for Prized.
The lowdown: A free bonus story told from a different character perspective. Can’t beat that!
This ebook bridge story fills the gap between Birthmarked and Prized and is told from Leon’s perspective. It gives some insight into his character and motivations after the events of Birthmarked. There are no earth shattering reveals, it is just a nice sized bonus chapter. Recommended for fans of the series – read it before Prized.
Book: Portrait of a Starter (Starters #0.5 An Unhidden Story) by Lissa Price, Delacorte Books, February 14, 2012
Book Info: eBook, Purchased kindle edition, approx. 20 pages, $1.99
The lowdown: Nice to have
This ebook was released prior to Starters as an intro to the series. It is a prequel to Starters told from the POV of Callie’s friend Michael. I read this after Starters and it interested me to learn more about Michael, who is kind of a mystery in the the book. I liked getting some insight into Michael, and finding out what’s going on in his head as he starts to become suspicious of Callie. Michael will be featured more in the second book Enders and this book helps to give a better sense of the character. There are two more short stories planned (due July 10 & October 9) before Enders release in December. I’m actually eager for the next ebook installment.
Book: The Seeds of Wither (The Chemical Garden ebook sampler) by Lauren DeStefano, Simon & Schuster, November 15, 2011
Book Info: eBook, Purchased kindle edition, Includes a previously unpublished short story The First Bride, first 6 chapters of Wither, a Fever teaser, Map of the wives floor, link to the Wither book trailer and Fever cover shoot, $0.99
The lowdown: Buy Wither and Fever instead
When I bought this book last year, it was $1.99 and I’m glad to see the price has since dropped. I bought this before Fever‘s release to get a preview of the book and to read the short story prequel. The short story is a nice-to-have look at Linden’s first marriage through the eyes of first wife Rose. It is a fine bonus story but is quite short and doesn’t add any essential information about the series. I just noticed a map of the wives floor of the mansion is included & that’s a nice touch. Recommended only for the most hard-core Chemical Garden fans. On an unrelated note – I wonder what the last book of the trilogy will be called.
- Tortured (Birthmarked #1.5 ~ a short story) by Caragh M. O’Brien (thebookhookup.com)
- Review: Hana (mybooksinlife.wordpress.com)
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:
Black Dawn (The Morganville Vampires #12) by Rachel Caine (NAL books hardcover) – Dropped everything to start reading this one.
Bitterblue by Kristin Cashore (Graceling Realm #3) – Have been waiting for this book for years! Received from LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
Wrecked by Anna Davies – Described as a seductive contemporary reimagination of The Little Mermaid, with a paranormal twist. Watch for a giveaway in May!
Tokyo Heist by Diana Renn (DAC ARC tour) – This looks like a lot of fun – it is about a girl that loves manga who gets involved in an art robbery investigation. It takes place on the streets of Seattle and Tokyo. Love the cover too.
eGalleys from NetGalley:
Gilt (The Royal Circle #1) by Katherine Longshore – A historical fiction book about the Tudor court. I’ve had my eye on this one for a while and it looks very intriguing!
Dark Companion by Marta Acosta – This book sounds very mysterious – it’s about a girl from the foster care system who is invited to attend an exclusive boarding school. And there is some sort of paranormal element involved – looks like an interesting dark, gothic sort of book.
Bittersweet by Sarah Ockler – The cover is so cute and I’ve had my eye on this one. I enjoyed Twenty Boy Summer by this author and this looks like another good contemporary read.
The Watch that Ends the Night: Voices from the Titanic by Allan Wolf- A book written in verse about the Titanic story – told from multiple POV including passengers, crew, and even the iceberg and a rat!
What did you receive in your mailbox this week?
Audiobook Info: Memoir/Humor, Received for review, Audio length: 8 hours 41 minutes, Read by the author.
Rating: 4 / 5 Stars
Though this title is neither fiction nor YA, I thought readers would enjoy hearing about it since it has some of the same intimacy, wistfulness, and lighthearted tone found in many books I review. Plus it’s about a blogger! I enjoy humorous memoirs and something about the description of this audiobook called out to me. Before this listening experience, I was unfamiliar with the Bloggess blog, but the blogger’s funny/bizarre life stories sounded really fascinating. When I first started listening, I was skeptical that the stories were actually true, but as the author actually narrates the book, I became more and more convinced that you couldn’t make this stuff up.
Before Jenny Lawson’s success as the famous “Bloggess”, she grew up in rural Texas and we learn about how her upbringing made her the person she is today. Stories about animals seem to be a running theme, which may have something to do with the fact that Lawson’s dad is a professional taxidermist. Some of these stories are not for the squeamish, and animal lovers such as myself are warned that they may be offended. Still, the stories are amusing in a dark humor sort of way – think dead squirrels made into hand puppets. Awkward high school years are also covered, and segue to the author’s married life. Victor is Lawson’s husband and is her opposite in many ways, though they have managed to stay married for fifteen years. There are some funny scenes with the two attending his business functions as Lawson worries about saying the wrong thing.
The book hooked me right away, and when I wasn’t listening to it I was thinking about it or telling my family about it. One of the things I was surprised about is how easily I could connect to Jenny’s story. No, I didn’t grow up in rural Texas or play with taxidermy animals. But, I can definitely relate to her health struggles. As someone also diagnosed with arthritis in her twenties, I was interested to read about another young persons experience living with the disease. We also took the same scary drug that is supposed to help you if it doesn’t kill you first. One of the parts of the book that made me laugh out loud is Jenny’s experience at the acupuncturist, something I can also relate to. Jenny’s depictions of living with anxiety also hit close to home and there are some touching yet funny scenes about Jenny’s apprehension about meeting her blogging friends in real life at a retreat.
It lends a personal touch when an author narrates her own audiobook, and I think it’s particularly appropriate with a memoir. Especially with this book, it would seem weird to hear the stories from a voice other than the author. Lawson’s reading is conversational sounding and matter of fact and it feels like she is relating the stories to you personally. Because the stories are hers, she is able to convey the appropriate tone and emotion as she recounts her life tales. She does take you out of the book experience occasionally by pointing out that you are listening to an audiobook, and I was not sure how much if anything was ad-libbed for the audiobook performance. There are sound effects between the chapters, musical clips, cowbell sounds, and Lawson even sings the chapter titles. One thing I missed about listening to the audiobook version is that I couldn’t see the captioned pictures referenced throughout the book. So, I wish there was a way to include a booklet with pictures with the audiobook. Other than that, the audiobook experience was thoroughly entertaining. The audiobook does have a bonus chapter though and behind the scenes outtakes that are a lot of fun.
I recommend this book for fans of the Bloggess blog, and readers who enjoy memoirs or humor books, such as Tina Fey’s Bossypants. The audiobook is a quick listen at just over 8 hours long and will have you laughing throughout. Be advised that due to language this book may not be appropriate for all young adults, and is in fact meant for an adult audience. Lawson promises more stories in future books and I can’t wait to listen in. Let’s Pretend This Never Happened is on sale April 17 and is available for preorder now.
Book trailers – there are two! Here’s the official one:
And, here’s the celebrity edition:
GIVEAWAY has ended- congrats to Flannery who has won a copy of the audiobook.