Friday, September 30, 2011

Random Acts of Kindness: September Wrap-up

I've been smothered in Random Acts of Kindness this month!  Heather, Memrie and Jennifer sent me some awesome books to read, and I can't thank them enough for their kindness and generosity. So much book love!  

 Heather from Book Stacks on Deck gave me Anna & the French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins.
Jennifer E. gave me The Girl of Fire and Thorns by Rae Carson

Thank you!


It's always fun to receive books, but it's fun to gift books, as well.  This month I found wonderful homes for three books:

Daughter of Smoke and Bone by Laini Taylor to Rogie C. in Suriname
Dreamfever by Karen Moning to Judi in Chicago
Bloodlines by Richelle Mead to Ina in Ontario
Blood Bound to Jennifer E. in Sonora
(This is the closest gif I could find for a *happy dance* I'll imagine all of you dancing when your books arrive on your doorsteps--just not with chicken!)

Random Acts of Kindness is sponsored by Book Soul Mates

Be well & happy reading

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Banned Book Week

September 24th-October 1st is banned book week.  It may not seem as dangerous and exciting as Shark Week on the Discovery channel (you know you watch it!) but it's actually more so.  There are still people out there that want to control what we read, stomping all over our freedom to think for ourselves.

You can find a list of all the books that have been recently challenged here, but the main website, link above, has loads of information on challenged books, what it means, and what happens.  Check it out, and do the virtual read-out!

Me thinks it's time to buy some banned books!

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Top Ten Tuesday: My Top Ten Books to Reread

I'm participating in Top Ten Tuesday hosted by The Broke and the Bookish because I lurve lists.  Lists make me feel happy and focused!  So here goes, and not in any particular order:

My Top Ten Books to Reread

10.  Lips Touch Three Times by Laini Taylor

I know, I know.  You're probably thinking I've gone all Laini Braini, but I love this book.  I've reread it several times already, but it's always magical.  The characters are like old friends, and the the stories fly.  It's the perfect book to help me decompress after a long, difficult day at work.  It's immediately engaging.

9.  Faithful Place by Tana French

This is just an awesome mystery/suspense story with a unique plot.  The main character hangs around in your head for days.  Knowing the ending won't spoil rereading this story; it's so well written that the story is the point, not the ending.

8.  The Gargoyle by Andrew Davidson

There's a helluva lot going on in this book; I couldn't read it fast enough.  It's a story about stories and I'm sure I missed details, tiny enriching nuances.  I just gave it to a friend, and we're going to read it together.  She teaches high school english and literature  so I'm sure she'll be all....

Shame on you, stupid face! How could you not get this? 

And I'll be all...
Shut up, book wench!

7.  The Stand by Stephen King

Just because.

6.  The Outsiders by S.E. Hinton

I read this in the seventh grade before I realized it was required reading in high school.  I remember only two things:  I loved it, and a character stares at the tip of his cigarette glowing red thinking....what?  What is he thinking? I can't remember.  

5.  Go Ask Alice

Another one I read long before I knew it was required reading.  Don't remember it, and I should.

4. Salems Lot by Stephen King

Vampires done right.

3.  Chime by Franny Billingsly

I didn't love this book right away, so I'd like to read this book again and experience all the  things I missed because I was confuzzled.  I did start to love it half way through.


I laughed til I cried, and that's just fun.

1.  Allegorical, metaphorical and any other kind of --orical you can think of.  I'd really like to pick this one apart.

Monday, September 26, 2011

Review: The Medusa Amulet by Robert Masello

Published: April 26, 2011
Publisher: Bantam
464 pages
A brilliant but skeptical young scholar named David Franco embarks on a quest to recover a legendary artifact: a beautifully carved amulet that was created by Benvenuto Cellini, the master artisan of Renaissance Italy.

What begins as a simple investigation quickly spirals into a twisting, turning tale of suspense and intrigue, a race against time that carries Franco across continents and centuries in a desperate search for this ultimate treasure—and a work of unimaginable power . . . and menace.
Aided only by a beautiful young Florentine with a conspirator’s mind and dark secrets, Franco is soon caught up in a life-and-death struggle from which there is no escape. Relentlessly pursued by deadly assassins and demons of his own, in the end he must confront—and defeat—an evil greater than anything conjured in his worst nightmares.

I loved Robert Masello's previous book, Blood and Ice, so I bought The Medusa Amulet the day it was released; I couldn't wait to sink my teeth into it. The premise is right up my alley: history blended with a touch of the supernatural.

In 16th century Italy, artist Benvenuto Cellini creates a looking glass with water from a gorgon pool hidden behind the mirror granting immortality to anyone that gazes into it. Powerful, mysterious people would do anything to acquire it. The story is told in third person giving multiple character's points of view, and the time frame alternates between skipping through history to present day until the story converges at the finale.

The book is filled with lavish descriptions of Renaissance art and history, and since it's told in third person (in this case, somewhat distancing), it felt like an unnecessary data dump at the expense of character development.  I couldn't connect with any of the characters.

Immediately I felt manipulated by the contrived plot:  A mysterious woman asks David Franco to look for  an amulet that he's not sure even exists, but ultimately he accepts the job with the hope of saving his sister who is dying of breast cancer.  Readers are told they're close, but I just didn't feel it. As soon as Franco lands in Italy, he encounters a beautiful experienced scholar working as a tour guide that agrees to help him.  Too. easy.

In chapter twenty-four there is a battle between two dark arts practitioners at a private gathering at Marie Antoinette's home. This was masterfully written, and I got my hopes up for the rest of the book, but the finale, the big reveal, was anti-climatic, once again because it was far too easy for the characters to pull off.

As it turns out, this book really wasn't for me. My expectations were too high because I enjoyed Blood and Ice so much.  I have to rate The Medusa Amulet:

The Medusa Amulet by Robert Masello received a starred review by Kirkus, and has a good average rating on Amazon and Good Reads.  Readers that enjoy books by Dan Brown may want to give this book a try.

Friday, September 23, 2011

Review: If I Stay & Where She Went by Gayle Forman

     Initially, this post was going to be about the foreign covers for If I Stay, but I went overboard.

     If I Stay and Where She Went by Gayle Forman are heart-wrenching stories.  Forman's tight, spare writing style allows Mia and Adam's story to unfold uncluttered, allowing the raw emotion to propel the story forward.  Beautifully written, these stories are about love, loss, forgiveness and hope.
     I just recently finished these books; how If I Stay managed to slip beneath my radar for so long, I don't know.  I found out about Where She Went purely by accident through an NPR article discussing the cover art,  and how the cover model captured the feel of the second book while staying true to the first.  This discussion piqued my curiosity, and I had to read them.  I had no idea what I was getting myself into.

If I Stay is a perfect example of how a book can hijack your life.  Once I picked it up, I was hooked and read it in two days.  It was all I thought about.

Mia and her family are in a terrible car accident, and as she lays comatose teetering between life and death, she remembers important snapshots of her life, and it's through these vignettes that readers truly learn who she is and what's important to her.  It's tissue worthy, but it's skillfully balanced so the book doesn't become a giant depressing sobfest.  Adam, Mia's boyfriend, compliments her perfectly; his guitar and rockstar swoon factor compliments her cello and classical demeanor.   Their relationship grows slowly and tenderly.  You can't help but fall in love with them...

and it will own you.

Where She Went is told from Adam's point of view, and Forman does a great job depicting his voice and character.  Adam, lonely and broken,  is completely believable.  It opens with him trying to move on with his life, but it's clear that Mia was the rhythm in his rockstar heart. 

"It's my turn to see you through," she whispers, coming back to me and wrapping me in her blanket as I lose my shit all over again.  She holds me until I recover my Y chromosome."  This is such a great line.

Each book is:
And check out these beautiful covers!
Please don't shoot me!  I can never get my covers to align sided by side.  How I managed the one is beyond me.

                   UK                                                                        Chech Republic

                                                                    Portuguese Hardback

Portuguese paperback

UK Hardback


Where She Went foreign covers:



I do like the US covers, but the Chech cover with the cello is pretty, as is the Portuguese cover.  What do you think of the covers?  Have you read the books?

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Booking Through Thursday: In Public

Do you carry books with you when you’re out and about in the world?
And, do you ever try to hide the covers?

Do I ever!  And because I'm also a quote fiend, I found my favorite quote about this very topic on Goodreads:

“Never trust anyone who has not brought a book with them.” 
― Lemony SnicketHorseradish: Bitter Truths You Can't Avoid

I always carry a tote bag with the books I'm currently reading (usually one fiction and one non-fiction), and two or three more I'm interested in.  I take advantage of every free moment I can to lose myself in a book.

I do hide the covers when I read during my lunch break at the hospital.  People can be very opinionated and judgmental (*cough* doctors *cough*).  I love to talk books, but sometimes I just want to read, and be left alone, and not get into a heated discussion defending my reading taste.  Let me explain:

While reading The Russian Concubine I was told I was reading "smut". The book is far from being smutty, and I had to throw down with the doucher and put him in his place.  

Another time I was reading poetry, and was told I should trash it and read something worthwhile: the newspaper.  I tried to defend the arts in all its forms, but to no avail.


While out in public I don't hide the covers because the general population is  capable of interesting book discussions, which I always enjoy.

Not really, but yeah, this is hilarious


How about you?  Do you carry books with you when you're out and about?  Do you hide the covers?

Saturday, September 17, 2011


 Thanks to Faye Bi from Little, Brown Books for Young Readers, I have a beautiful hardback copy of Daughter of Smoke and Bone by Laini Taylor to give away to one lucky follower.  


This book is incredible, a phenomenal must read (read my review here) but don't just take my word for it.  Check this out from Entertainment Weekly:

It really is that good.  

But there's more to the giveaway.  Some awesome with a side order of cool.  



scroll down




wait for it




No, you can't win Ryan Gosling (swoon!) but wouldn't that be a thrill?




The winner will also receive this lovely charm necklace I found here on Etsy. 

A necklace of charms?  A hamsa dangling from an evil eye, a wishbone, and could that be an angel feather?  Why, yes.  I believe it is. Once you start reading, you'll love having a piece of Karou's magical world.

Laini Taylor's blog can be found here, and her blog is as much fun to read as her novels.  Check out all the book trailers here.  

Good luck, everyone!

Friday, September 16, 2011

Winner: YA Bloggers Best Overlooded Book 2011

The winner of the YA Bloggers Best Overlooked Book Battle 2011 is:

  • Published: March 9, 2010
  • Hardcover: 304 pages
  • Publisher: Atheneum Books for Young Readers 

Eleven-year-old Melody has a photographic memory. Her head is like a video camera that is always recording. Always. And there's no delete button. She's the smartest kid in her whole school—but no one knows it. Most people--her teachers and doctors included--don't think she's capable of learning, and up until recently her school days consisted of listening to the same preschool-level alphabet lessons again and again and again. If only she could speak up, if only she could tell people what she thinks and knows . . . but she can't, because Melody can't talk. She can't walk. She can't write.

Being stuck inside her head is making Melody go out of her mind--that is, until she discovers something that will allow her to speak for the first time ever. At last Melody has a voice . . . but not everyone around her is ready to hear it.

From multiple Coretta Scott King Award winner Sharon M. Draper comes a story full of heartache and hope. Get ready to meet a girl whose voice you'll never, ever forget.
Every year Alyssa at The Shady Glade works months on this fun interesting project.  Thanks, Alyssa!

As a judge early in the contest, I read Song of the Sparrow by Lisa Ann Sandell and Keeping Corner by Kashmira Sheth, which was a great experience because it forced me to read outside my comfort zone. 

Song of the Sparrow is a lovely novel written in verse about a mysterious character found in Arthurian legends while Keeping Corner is historical fiction set in 1920ish India focusing on the restrictive traditions imposed on widowed twelve-year-old Leela.  Two very different books in scope and style.  

My reading partner- Michelle from Pineapple Pyjamas- and I easily chose Song of the Sparrow as the winner of bracket six back in June, and it won again in bracket fifteen, but alas, it wasn't the belle of the ball; however, I'd highly recommend it to anyone interested in Arthurian legends.  Don't be put off by its having been written in verse.  Don't think Dr. Suess here.  It's a beautifully written story.  It won two brackets after all!

On a different note, I'm totally psyched that one of my favorite books was chosen as having the best main character!

  Curious?  Any guesses?

The contest was great fun, and be sure to check back with The Shady Glade next spring if you'd like to be a judge.  Meanwhile make a list of the fantastic books you've read that you feel are going unnoticed and nominate them for next year's contest!

Be well and happy reading.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Awesome Giveaway! Not Yet But Almost

I have another giveaway coming up!  


It's awesome, with a side order of cool.  Really.  If you're charmed by rich, imaginative stories I think you'll love this very unique giveaway.  

But after a very long, very trying day at work, I just didn't have it in me to create the document.

This was me when I got home from work.  Except I'm a girl. And I carry a purse instead of a backpack, and have nicer shoes.

I'll post it by Saturday so stay tuned.  By the way, did you see the movie 500 Days of Summer with Zooey Deschanel and Joseph Gordon-Levitt??  It's what the "Oh Yeah" gif is from at the top of this post. It's fun, a bit quirky and different with its presentation, but that's me.

We'll talk soon!

Be well, and happy reading.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Waiting On Wednesday: Dearly Departed by Lia Habel

Release date:  October 18, 2011
Publisher:  Del Rey
Hardcover:  480 pages
Love can never die.

Love conquers all, so they say. But can Cupid’s arrow pierce the hearts of the living and the dead—or rather, the undead? Can a proper young Victorian lady find true love in the arms of a dashing zombie?

The year is 2195. The place is New Victoria—a high-tech nation modeled on the manners, mores, and fashions of an antique era. A teenager in high society, Nora Dearly is far more interested in military history and her country’s political unrest than in tea parties and debutante balls. But after her beloved parents die, Nora is left at the mercy of her domineering aunt, a social-climbing spendthrift who has squandered the family fortune and now plans to marry her niece off for money. For Nora, no fate could be more horrible—until she’s nearly kidnapped by an army of walking corpses.

But fate is just getting started with Nora. Catapulted from her world of drawing-room civility, she’s suddenly gunning down ravenous zombies alongside mysterious black-clad commandos and confronting “The Laz,” a fatal virus that raises the dead—and hell along with them. Hardly ideal circumstances. Then Nora meets Bram Griswold, a young soldier who is brave, handsome, noble . . . and dead.    (
Pre-order: Amazon, Barnes & Nobel, Book Depository
Author website: Lia Habel
Waiting on Wednesday hosted weekly by Jill @ Breaking the Spine
For excerpt:

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Review: The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern

  •            Hardcover: 400 pages
  •            Publisher: Doubleday 
  •            First Edition/First Printing edition September 13, 2011
The circus arrives without warning. No announcements precede it. It is simply there, when yesterday it was not. Within the black-and-white striped canvas tents is an utterly unique experience full of breathtaking amazements. It is called Le Cirque des RĂªves, and it is only open at night.

But behind the scenes, a fierce competition is underway—a duel between two young magicians, Celia and Marco, who have been trained since childhood expressly for this purpose by their mercurial instructors. Unbeknownst to them, this is a game in which only one can be left standing, and the circus is but the stage for a remarkable battle of imagination and will. Despite themselves, however, Celia and Marco tumble headfirst into love—a deep, magical love that makes the lights flicker and the room grow warm whenever they so much as brush hands.

True love or not, the game must play out, and the fates of everyone involved, from the cast of extraordinary circus per­formers to the patrons, hang in the balance, suspended as precariously as the daring acrobats overhead.

I put  down Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix to read The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern right away.  Having both books in the forefront of my mind, the only comparison I can draw is they are  both written in third person, and there's magic.  Oh, and a train.  So if you think you're getting a dose of dueling wizards battling it out to the death in the name of good against evil with bolts of electricity flaring from wands, you'll be sorely disappointed.  The press is drawing the comparison for publicity and money.  Let's all just admit there will never be another Harry Potter, and move on to embrace the new.

That's you, publishers and media!

Erin Morgentstern's The Night Circus is not the traditional circus you know.  It's a beautifully imagined, intricately detailed, magical place that enchants all who enter.  The circus is as much a character in the story--if not more so--than all the other characters combined.  I never use to understand people saying they wished they could live in a certain favorite fictional world.  Until now.  I would SO run away with this circus, easily donning black with a splash of scarlet to become a reveur, giving up my predictable life to follow the Night Circus to all its exotic and romantic locales: Constantinople, London, Munich, Sydney, Paris, to name a few.  Morgenstern was sure to involve all the senses when describing the circus. It's such a disappointment that it isn't real.

Two rival magicians--Prospero the Enchanter and a man known only as Mr A. H-- decide to throw down and have a contest to see who can produce the better student of magic.  Chosen as children, Celia and Marco are kept separated, training their whole lives for the competition, but the rules are never explained.

One sorta major detail left out in their education is only one can survive.  (The Night Circus is as similar to The Hunger Games as fried chicken is to beignets. Just saying.)  The circus venue is announced and the competition begins, although no one knows anything about it save student and mentor.

There are cloud mazes in the air, a wishing tree, forests of sonnets.  Practically everything is controlled by magic, but the beauty of it is it's real magic disguised to look believable.  A person's grip on reality can be a fragile thing; it's best to leave others alone in their safe perceptions.  Years pass as Celia and Marco keeping adding more and more magical entertainment, learning to respect and care for each others talent long before they meet.  Once they do meet, their romance is slow to grow as both are aware it would complicate things if they collaborated on projects.

I enjoyed how Morgenstern occasionally used the very rare second person POV, putting readers directly into the story, experiencing the circus for themselves:

"You feel the warmth of breath on your neck, but when you turn no one is there."

Harry Potter feels like a wild, epic adventure whereas, to me, The Night Circus and its cast of characters is a controlled execution, proper and refined, just how the Victorians are often portrayed, and this absolutely fits the story.

“The silence that falls between them is a comfortable one.  He longs to reach over and touch her, but he resists, fearful of destroying the delicate camaraderie they are building.”

(Click below to read more)

Monday, September 12, 2011

My Fun Harry Potter Time Sink aka Not Doing What I Should Be Doing

I took a break from writing my review for The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern, and got sucked into a Harry Potter time sink at HPotterfacts on tumblr.  

It was. So. Much. Fun. 

 I'm not yet finished with book 5, Order of the Phoenix, so I had to stop reading because I started running into spoilers. 





Small secrets revealed that nearly fried my thinking bits!  

So no review just yet, but I'll share these few spoiler-free
 HPotter facts with you:


The Night Circus review is forthcoming!
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