Saturday, August 28, 2010

Blogging Break

These couple weeks of time left before school starts are very busy for me, so I've decided to take a break from blogging. I'm not sure how long this will be - at least until my summer homework is finished and I'm caught up on my real life commitments. I'm still reading review books, meaning I will have reviews when I get back. Thanks to my understanding followers!

Sunday, August 22, 2010

In My Mailbox (49)

IMM is a weekly meme that explores the contents of one's mailbox. IMM was started by Kristi at The Story Siren. Descriptions are from Goodreads.

For Review:

The Secret Society of the Pink Crystal Ball by Risa Green
(ARC/Releases September 2010/Sourcebooks Fire)

When Erin Channing's favorite aunt dies, Erin is bequeathed a pink crystal ball and a set of weird instructions. Granted, Aunt Kiki (aka Aunt Kooky) always lived "outside the box." But now Erin and her two best friends are convinced that the pink crystal ball holds the key to their future-or at least the key to getting dates...

Jumbee by Pamela Keyes
(ARC/Releases October 2010/Dial)

Seventeen-year-old Esti Legard spent her childhood in the Shakespearean world of her famous father, and when he died, she knew she could never give up acting. After she and her mother move to a Caribbean island for her senior year, she realizes that nothing at her new school's theater department is quite as it seems. Stunned by the death of a fellow student on her first day of class, Esti is soon surrounded by legends of the wicked jumbees that haunt the West Indies. She finds herself snubbed by the school’s star actress and relegated to a minor part in Romeo and Juliet.

Only her intriguing new friend, the elusive Alan, shares her passion for Shakespeare. Hiding in the dark recesses of the theater, he leads Esti deep into her own soul to explore the limits of her talent. When Esti's childhood best friend moves to the island and back into her life, however, Alan disappears. Rocked by growing accusations of befriending a jumbee, Esti realizes she must find out who – or what – Alan really is. She is soon forced to defy everyone and everything she’s ever believed in, as she plunges into the mysteries of Shakespeare and the legends of the West Indians, discovering shocking truths about her own past that will forever shape her future.

I love the setting for this book!

I had a bit of a slow week, but that's alright! I'm really looking forward to the books I have. How'd you do?

Friday, August 20, 2010

Review: The Jaguar Stones by J&P Voelkel

The Jaguar Stones by J&P Volekel
Publication Date/Version: April 2010/Paperback and Hardcover
Publisher: Egmont
Age Group: Middle Grade with Young Adult appeal
Received From: Publisher

Fourteen-year-old Max Murphy, video-gamer extraordinaire, is furious when his archaeologist parents cancel the family vacation to go on a dig in Central America. But things go from bad to worse when Max is summoned to join them, only to discover that his parents have vanished. With the help of Lola, a fast-talking, quick-thinking Maya girl, Max embarks on a quest to find out just what’s going on. Soon Max and Lola are running for their lives in the perilous rainforest, as they unlock ancient secrets, meet mysterious strangers, and begin to understand that, in San Xavier, nothing is ever as it seems.

Fate has delivered a challenge of epic proportions to Max Murphy. But can a teen whose biggest talent is for video games rescue his parents from the Maya Underworld and save himself from the villainous Lords of Death?

Max, a spoiled boy from Boston, is thrown into a whirlwind of ancient Mayan culture. When his archaeologist parents disappear, it's up to him to find them and bring them back. There are more than a few obstacles in his way, however. He comes across thieving monkeys, a Mayan girl, stones with the power to destroy the world, and a few bad guys who are out to get them.

The Jaguar Stones is an action-packed novel that will appeal to Middle Grade readers, as well as those in the Young Adult category who love adventure or history. I also recommend this to boys who can't seem to find a good book.

Max, who is initially and continually a very whiny character who luckily deals with that problem later on, is the unsuspecting victim of a huge quest to find the Jaguar Stones and save the world from the Lords of Death. While far-fetched, the story is made interesting by lots of Mayan history. I've always had a fascination with ancient cultures, and this book really fed my appetite. I'm so glad to have picked it up, as I learned a ton and enjoyed one of the most action-filled stories I've read in a long time. The culture of the Mayans resonated on such a large scale in The Jaguar Stones; the basic facts and rituals were incredibly neat, and I know that anyone who enjoys history will love this book.

As I said, Max is initially annoying but he gradually develops into a selfless character. Lola, a Mayan girl, is feisty, independent, and courageous. I'm adding her to my list of good role models. She fights for what she believes in and will do anything to protect her people. The plot was complicated and the book lengthy at 400 pages, a bit so for MG readers. For these reasons, I recommend this book to upper MG readers or Young Adult readers. The plot never slowed down, and I felt as though I were in an awesome Indiana Jones film.

I could really tell that J&P Voelkel did a large amount of research, and I really appreciate that. This book could have been average, based on Mayan facts that everyone knows, but I learned a lot and was introduced to a fascinating culture. I am immensely excited for book two!

Overall: Tons of action. Exciting plot. Fascinating culture. Great for MG and YA readers.

My Advice: Buy a copy if my review has interested you at all

The Cover: Very literal covers can be hit-and-miss, but I'm really fond of this one. The text is interesting, and the image accurately portrays an intense scene in the story.

*This was read as a part of the 100+ Reading Challenge

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Wednesday Wishlist (26)

This post is inspired by Stargirlreads at Books Make Great Lovers. In Wishlist Wednesday, I'll showcase a book that may or may not be out yet that I would love to review and cannot wait to read! Links and descriptions are from Goodreads. Here's what's on my wishlist this week:

The Sweetness of Salt
by Cecilia Galante

Julia just graduated as her high school valedictorian, has a full ride to college in the fall and a coveted summer internship clerking for a federal judge. But when her older sister, Sophie, shows up at the graduation determined to reveal some long buried secrets, Julia's carefully constructed plans come to a halt. Instead of the summer she had painstakingly laid out, Julia follows Sophie back to Vermont, where Sophie is opening a bakery - and struggling with some secrets of her own. What follows is a summer of revelations - some heartwarming, some heartbreaking, and all slowly pointing Julia toward a new understanding of both herself and of the sister she never really knew.

Reasons I want to read this:
1. I love the cover - its images and color combinations, especially the way the text is laid out
2. I enjoy stories like this: ones in which a family is shaken up by secrets
3. I'm in the mood for contemporary fiction

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Teaser Tuesday (19)

Teaser Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted by MizB of Should Be Reading in which one grabs her current read, opens to a random page, and gives two "teaser" sentences from that page.

"He spoke in an admiring whisper. "The Black Jaguar of Ah Pukuh...lost for centuries...But where did you get it?"

Page 59, Middleworld: The Jaguar Stones by J&P Voelkel


Monday, August 16, 2010

Review: Zillah's Gift by Lois West Duffy

Zillah's Gift by Lois West Duffy
Publication Date/Version: August 2009/Paperback
Publisher: Beaver's Pond Press
Age Group: Middle Grade/Young Adult appeal
Received From: Reader Views Kids

Zillah is an orphan in ancient Persia living in a caravan serai--a safe haven for desert travelers. Other children taunt her because of a birth-mark on her face and strangers think it is the sign of a curse. Her future is grim until a royal caravan comes to the serai, following a wondrous star. Zillah has seen that star, though it is invisible to those around her.

Through a series of amazing events, Zillah embarks on an adventure, full of danger, trying to protect her most precious secret.

Zillah is a simple girl living in a caravan serai in the Persian desert. She works under her oppressive aunt and uncle, hoping to one day gain her freedom. A birthmark across her face scares many, leading to taunts and jokes. Zillah, however, is strong and knows that she will do something greater with her life. When a royal caravan comes through and notices her curiosity, Zillah is taken on their journey following a glorious star that only some can see.

I went into Zillah's Gift expecting simple storytelling and, overall, an average book. This is once again a case of don't judge a book by its cover! I was plunged into a rich setting, interesting time period, and wonderful story.

Zillah is a headstrong, independent young girl who is full of respectable morals and wishes. She was the kind of character that you root for from the beginning. Ms. Duffy had a fairly simple way of telling the story, but it was captivating nonetheless. The details were plentiful and I could easily see the picturesque setting.

I am a big fan of historical fiction, and I was pleased to find that Zillah's Gift took place in a time period that I have never read about. It was pleasantly surprising, and I'm eager to seek out more stories in this time period.

Zillah's Gift is a gem of a surprise, with a touching story packed inside of a great setting. I recommend this to everyone, especially those who enjoy historical fiction.

Overall: A surprisingly wonderful read. Interesting setting. Great storytelling.

My Advice: Buy it. I'm happy to put it on my shelf.

The Cover: It fits the story well, with the girl and camel, the star, and the letters that look as though they've been worn down by desert sand. I love the colors of the sunset as well.

*This was read as a part of the 100+ Reading Challenge

Sunday, August 15, 2010

In My Mailbox (48)

IMM is a weekly meme that explores the contents of one's mailbox. IMM was started by Kristi at The Story Siren. Descriptions are from Goodreads.

For Review:

The Replacement by Brenna Yovanoff
(ARC/Releases September 2010/Razorbill)

Mackie Doyle seems like everyone else in the perfect little town of Gentry, but he is living with a fatal secret - he is a Replacement, left in the crib of a human baby sixteen years ago. Now the creatures under the hill want him back, and Mackie must decide where he really belongs and what he really wants.

A month ago, Mackie might have told them to buzz off. But now, with a budding relationship with tough, wounded, beautiful Tate, Mackie has too much to lose. Will love finally make him worthy of the human world?

I received this from Around The World Tours. I'm reading it right now and enjoying it quite a bit.

Fledgling: Jason Steed by Mark A. Cooper
(ARC/Releases September 2010/Sourcebooks Jabberwocky)

Jason Steed is looking for a place to call home. He finds what he's looking for in the Sea Cadets - an elite group of British youngsters being groomed for lifelong service in the military. But when a routine training exercise goes awry, Jason finds himself in the middle of a secret mission. The future of the world hangs in the balance...and Jason might be the only one who can save it.

This isn't my normal read, but I'm actually very excited to pick it up!

My Soul to Take by Rachel Vincent
(PB/August 2009/Harlequin Teen)

She doesn't see dead people, but…

She senses when someone near her is about to die. And when that happens, a force beyond her control compels her to scream bloody murder. Literally.

Kaylee just wants to enjoy having caught the attention of the hottest guy in school. But a normal date is hard to come by when Nash seems to know more about her need to scream than she does. And when classmates start dropping dead for no apparent reason, only Kaylee knows who'll be next…

I received this for review from the Harlequin Teen panel which I love! I've been wanting to read this book for a long time, so I'm excited to finally own it.

Jumping Off Swings by Jo Knowles

I had a good week! How about you?

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Wednesday Wishlist (25)

This post is inspired by Stargirlreads at Books Make Great Lovers. In Wishlist Wednesday, I'll showcase a book that may or may not be out yet that I would love to review and cannot wait to read! Links and descriptions are from Goodreads. Here's what's on my wishlist this week:

by Cat Clarke

Grace meets enigmatic Ethan the night she's planning to kill herself. The next morning she wakes up in a strange room with a table, chair, pens and paper. There's nothing to do but write, and as she writes, Grace remembers the things she's tried so hard to forget.

The hazy memories lead Grace into a dark place where friendship, heartbreak and betrayal tangle together...

Reason I want to read this:
1. The premise makes it seem as though this will be a deep, well-thought out novel.
2. Why is she in that room? And why do her, well, captors want her to write? I must find out!
3. The combination of colors on the cover is gorgeous.
4. Unfortunately, this is releasing in the UK, not the US.

ps. Sorry for my absence. I haven't been in a blogging mood lately.

Saturday, August 7, 2010

In My Mailbox (47)

IMM is a weekly meme that explores the contents of one's mailbox. IMM was started by Kristi at The Story Siren. Descriptions are from Goodreads.

For Review:

Graffiti Moon by Cath Crowley
(PB/August 2010 in Australia/Pan Macmillan Australia)

It’s the end of Year 12. Lucy’s looking for Shadow, the graffiti artist everyone talks about.

His work is all over the city, but he is nowhere.

Ed, the last guy she wants to see at the moment, says he knows where to find him. He takes Lucy on an all-night search to places where Shadow’s thoughts about heartbreak and escape echo around the city walls.

But the one thing Lucy can’t see is the one thing that’s right before her eyes.

Cath was kind enough to send me a copy of this after I loved her previous book, A Little Wanting Song, so much!

The Summoning by Kelly Armstrong

The past two weeks I've only received two books, but it's actually been a really nice break! I removed myself from all tour websites which takes off tons of stress. I finally came to terms that I was obsessed with them. ;] Hope you had a great week in books!

Friday, August 6, 2010

One Year Blogoversary!

That's right everyone - today is my one year blogoversary! It's thanks to all of you and your lovely comments, as well as a few handfuls of amazing books, that I continue to enjoy my blogging duties. No, sorry, there's no giant contest. All I have to offer are my thanks...

...And some nummy cupcakes. Hope to see you this time next year!

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Mini Reviews (4)

Mini Reviews is composed of, well, small reviews. These will likely be books I read forever ago or didn't enjoy a whole lot, but did finish. These reviews will be short and sweet.

Shadow Hills by Anastasia Hopcus

This one really drew me in and kept me reading. I was fascinated by Phe's odd powers, and I really wish we heard more about those. The concept as a whole was interesting, and the plot progressed quickly. There was a large array of characters, and the mystery added a lot to the story. I had an idea of what was going on, but I liked the feeling of figuring things out with Phe. While this isn't one of my favorites, I look forward to the next book.

This book was positive in some places and lacking in others. My main complaint is that I feel as though this book is being marketed to the wrong audience. I believe this would make a great picture book for young children, but as a MG/YA book, it offers little. I can easily see small children enjoying this story along with great drawings, but for the audience I write to, it's much too repetitive and it shows rather than tells.

Forget-Het-Nots by Amy Brecount White

I wanted to like this book, I really did, but it just wasn't for me. The idea of a flower language was intriguing, and while it was fully fleshed out, it didn't hold my attention well enough. If there had been even more mystery or suspense, I believe I would have enjoyed this more. It was, however, much to young for what I thought would be a YA book. This book is better suited for MG readers. I think they will find the mystery aspect more suitable for them, as well as the overall level of character maturity.

Harmonic Feedback by Tara Kelly

Ah, the horrors of waiting a long time to review a book! All of the fault falls upon me and my procrastinating ways. This book was one that I enjoyed a lot at the time. I think I may reread it. The story was heartfelt, as were the characters. They were very real, simply themselves. The end was a shock to me, and I remember being a bit teary-eyed. All in all, it was a good read that I recommend.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Wednesday Wishlist (24)

This post is inspired by Stargirlreads at Books Make Great Lovers. In Wishlist Wednesday, I'll showcase a book that may or may not be out yet that I would love to review and cannot wait to read! Links and descriptions are from Goodreads. Here's what's on my wishlist this week:

The Twin's Daughter
by Lauren Baratz-Logsted

Lucy Sexton is stunned when a disheveled woman appears at the door one day... a woman who bears an uncanny resemblance to Lucy's own beautiful mother. It turns out the two women are identical twins, separated at birth, and raised in dramatically different circumstances. Lucy's mother quickly resolves to give her less fortunate sister the kind of life she has never known. And the transformation in Aunt Helen is indeed remarkable. But when Helen begins to imitate her sister in every way, even Lucy isn't sure at times which twin is which. Can Helen really be trusted, or does her sweet face mask a chilling agenda?

Reasons I want to read this:
1. What a concept!
2. It vaguely reminds me of The Prophecy of the Sisters which I really enjoyed.
3. I like the cover - how there's two obvious images and how they create an image in their void

Contest Winners!

I have multiple contest winners to announce!

The three lucky winners of Lost For Words are:




The lucky winner of one set of the Zan-Gah series is:


The lucky winner of a copy of Mockingbird and other book-related goodies is:


Congrats to all of the winners. Thanks to everyone who entered.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Teaser Tuesday (18)

Teaser Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted by MizB of Should Be Reading in which one grabs her current read, opens to a random page, and gives two "teaser" sentences from that page.

"Gaia sopped a bit of clean rag into her cup of tea, absorbing the last hot liquid, and then wiped it over the ankle, cleaning it. She dipped the needle in the brown ink, held it briefly to the light, and then, swiftly, as she had done before under her mother's guidance, she pressed the pin into the baby's ankle in four rapid pricks."

Page 4, Birthmarked by Caragh M. O'Brien


Monday, August 2, 2010

I have returned

I'm back everyone! I just thought I would let you know. I'm going through comments and answering emails. Look forward to posts. It's nice to see all of you again.
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