Wednesday, November 23, 2011

The books & things I am thankful for + my most favorite recipe EVER!

This year has been crazy...chaotic may even be a better word to describe the roller-coaster that 2011 has been. There have been so many changes for me since last Turkey day that just thinking about it makes my head spin. But, as the 2011 holiday season gears up I wanted to take a moment and share what I am most thankful for this year--general things and of course books and authors too.

Books & Authors I am most thankful for:
  1. DIVERGENT by Veronica Roth: Oh. My. Stars! This book came along at just the right time for me to really appreciate the story and get into it with my whole heart. As many of you know I adored Suzanne Collins HUNGER GAMES series but was disappointed with the final book in the series. I know it's dumb, but emotionally I was left broken-hearted and a bit depressed by MOCKINGJAY. I had invested so much time and energy into the series between discussing the characters and plots and dreaming everything Hunger Games... Well, I was obsessed and when the series ended I actually got truly depressed. Sure, I read several good books that I loved, but none that made me feel the way  The Hunger Games and Catching Fire had . . . that is until DIVERGENT. Veronica Roth managed to pull me into her fascinating and well built world of her character Tris. And, because it was set in a future Chicago (where my family lives) I immediately connected with the character and got excited reading about sites and settings that I was familiar with. Since first reading Divergent , nearly 6 months ago, I have listened to the audiobook more times than I can count. This book really got me out of my book blues and gave me a book series that I am so anxiously following and anticipating the next release with uber excitement. I LOVE THAT FEELING!
  2. Carrie Ryan & Melissa Marr: These authors each completed a series in 2011 and unlike other authors (who's names will not be mentioned again) they really succeeded in giving readers a fully satisfying closure. Here's the thing...readers fall in love with characters. Especially the young adult crowd. I mean, we know they are fictional, but that doesn't make our feelings go away. With Carrie Ryan's post apocalyptic zombie series, she brought her characters to a place where we could hope and believe that they would find some sort of happy ending. Her world was dark and scary, and the characters suffered tremendous loss but by the end of the third book (THE DARK & HOLLOW PLACES) they each found something that could bring a smile to their faces...even if it was just for a brief moment. Melissa Marr completed her bestselling Wicked Lovely series with DARKEST MERCY.  Her world was really complex and she had a lot of character plots, but she still managed to tie everything together and make the finish believable and even more impressively (considering how dark the series is) happy.
  3. Rachel Caine & Jana Oliver: Many of the books I read last year have had follow up or "middle books" released this year. As I get a little older I am starting to realize a trend with these so-called "middle books". More often than not, they just don't live up to the expectations. This is NOT the case with either of these author's series. The Morganville Vampires by Rachel Caine just released the 11th book in the series and it may be the best one yet! Jana Oliver's Demon Trapper Daughter series has two books in the trilogy out on shelves and they were both equally page-turning! I love these authors and am thankful that they are consistently awesome
  4. LEGEND by Marie Lu: This is another debut novel that I stayed up all night reading. It was one of the books Noa sent me from BEA and I think it was my favorite from that convention.
I am incredibly thankful for books that made the journey of reading them completely fulfilling by great endings, books that maintain a level of excellence and for new books that let me once again feel that reading "high" that fans get when a really amazing book is able to consume them.

On a personal note.
  1. ACTING: I am very thankful for the opportunities that I have been given to use my talent. I was cast in the lead role for two different plays, won in three different categories at the forensic and theater competition and was able to grow in my craft and learn from all those experiences.
  2. RUNNING: I shaved five minutes off my 5k time, placed second with my team at the State meet and learned that hard work and perseverance is crucial to success.
  3. FRIENDS: I have lots of "friends" but I am really thankful for the real friends that I keep close. There aren't many of them and truth is I only trust one completely, but he knows who he is and aside from my mom or mimi, he is the only other person I tell secrets to. I also am really thankful to friends like Noa, Mona, Kitt and even the authors and publishers that have sent me books to read. It means so much.
  4. FAMILY: Last, I am incredibly blessed to have the family I have. Especially my mom and mimi. My Mimi is my biggest fan and cheerleader. I know I can always go to her and she won't judge me. My mom on the other hand is really hard on me. I say I hate her, but the truth is...she makes me a better person by staying on my case all the time. She drives me absolutely crazy because she is brutally honest with me when sometimes I don't want to hear the truth. But, when it all comes down to it, she always has my back and is my best friend.
Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday because it kicks off the holiday season for me. By Thanksgiving, Christmas music can be heard in all the stores. Shopping seems more fun because all the stores have seasonal fragrances burning and I get to see family that I only see this time of year.  But, what I really look forward to is the cooking that my mom and I usually do. This year is different because, well, she is really busy, but I am going to try to make some of the things that I love so much including the one dish that I have been waiting ALL YEAR to make . . . Pumpkin Bread Pudding.  This recipe was originally seen on Bobby Flay's Throw Down and I wanted to make it immediately. I played around with it some and the version you see below is Flay's amazing dish. *FYI my camera was left at a friends so I'm using pictures from Ree Drummond and Bobby Flay's throw down.

Pumpkin Bread Pudding with Spicy Caramel Apple Sauce & Vanilla Bean Creme Anglaise


  • 2 cups heavy cream
  • 1 cup whole milk
  • 1 vanilla bean, seeds scraped (this is kind of expensive but worth it)
  • 6 large egg yolks
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar (or I used cooking Splenda)
  • 3 tablespoons pure maple syrup (or regular sugar free syrup with a tsp of Maple extract)
  • 1 cup pure canned pumpkin puree
  • 2 tablespoons of liquor like Bourbon ( I used ButterShots cuz thats what we have)
  • Pumpkin Bread (easy box mix - Pillsbury has one)
  • Vanilla Bean Creme Anglaise, recipe follows
  • Spicy Caramel Apple Sauce, recipe follows
  • Freshly whipped cream


Start by making some pumpkin bread. I get a mix in the cake isle at the store. It is easier and just as tasty. Follow directions to make loafs. Once finished, slice loaf and then cut into cubes. Spread cubes onto a baking sheet and lightly toast in oven set to 325 degrees F. for about 30 mins or so. Scatter the pumpkin bread cubes in a buttered 9 by 13-inch baking glass baking dish.

While the bread is drying, it's time to make the custard.  Combine the cream, milk, vanilla bean and seeds in a small saucepan over medium heat and bring to a simmer.

Whisk together the yolks, sugar, maple syrup, and pumpkin puree in a large bowl. Slowly whisk in the hot cream mixture until combined, remove the vanilla pod, and whisk in the bourbon. Strain the custard into a clean bowl.

Pour the custard over the bread, pressing down on the bread to totally submerge it in the custard. Let sit for 15 minutes to allow the bread to soak up some of the custard.

Place the pan in a larger roasting pan and pour hot tap water into the roasting pan until it comes half way up the sides of the glass dish. Bake until the sides are slightly puffed and the center jiggles slightly, about 1 hour.

Remove from the oven and water bath and cool on a baking rack for at least 30 minutes before serving.

Spoon some of the Vanilla Bean Creme Anglaise into a shallow bowl, top with some of the bread pudding and drizzle with the Spicy Caramel Apple Sauce. Top with freshly whipped cream. Bread pudding is best served warm.

Pumpkin Bread:

  • one box of Pumpkin bread mix baked as per directions (I use Krusteaz mix but Pillsbury has one too)

Vanilla Bean Creme Anglaise:

  • 2 cups half-and-half
  • 1/2 vanilla bean, seeds scraped
  • 5 large egg yolks
  • 1/3 cup pure cane sugar

Bring the half-and-half and vanilla bean and seeds to a simmer in a medium saucepan.

Whisk together the yolks and sugar in a medium bowl until at the pale ribbon stage. Slowly whisk in the hot half-and-half, return the mixture to the pot, and cook over medium heat, stirring constantly with a wooden spoon, until the mixture coats the back of the spoon. Strain into a bowl and set over an ice bath. Stir until chilled. Cover and refrigerate at least 1 hour before serving. This is the most finicky part and though a super smooth sauce is desired, trust me when I say that even if it isn't perfect it tastes just as good.

Spicy Caramel Apple Sauce:

  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 1/2 cup apple cider (juice would work too)
  • 1 star anise (I had to use Anise powder for flavor)
  • 1-inch piece fresh ginger, peeled and chopped (I didn't have fresh and just used powdered ginger to add some flavor)
  • 4 whole cloves
  • 2 cinnamon sticks
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1 1/2 cups granulated sugar (again I used splenda)
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon Buttershots or rum. (Bobby Flay used apple schnapps)

Combine the cream, apple juice, star anise, ginger, cloves, cinnamon sticks, and nutmeg in a small saucepan and bring to a simmer. Remove from the heat and let steep for at least 20 minutes. Strain the mixture into a clean, small saucepan and place back over low heat while you make the caramel.

Combine the sugar, water and, vinegar in a medium saucepan over high heat and cook without stirring, until it's a deep amber color, about 8 minutes. Slowly whisk in the warm cream mixture a little at a time, and continue whisking until smooth. Add the liquor you decide to use and cook for 30 seconds longer. Transfer to a bowl and keep warm. The sauce can be made 2 days in advance and refrigerated. Reheat over low heat before serving.

Monday, June 13, 2011

YA Summer Reading Review: Return To Paradise by Simone Elkeles

Everyone keeps asking me for fun summer reading recommendations so I have decided to compile a list and give a a series of reviews for each of them. Sound good? Good.

When I think of summer reading I think of laying out by the pool with my nose stuck in a paperback. Sure i could suggest heavy dystopians or dark fantasy books but I like my summer reading a little less heavy. I mean, a little substance here and there is crucial to making the book worthwhile but there needs to be a really good balance.

The first book I am going to suggest is RETURN TO PARADISE by Simone Elkeles.

Return to Paradise
This book was completely engrossing and had the perfect blend of summer romance and solid teen message. Told from alternating perspective's of bad boy Caleb who's shady past casts a big shadow over his life, and former victim turned survivor Maggie who's hardship has made her stronger. When we meet Caleb he is struggling with the secrets of his past he has tried to hide from, a life and girl he left behind because he felt unworthy and the consequences of his actions.

Maggie was the victim of a hit and run accident that not only left her crippled but hit her close to home. Very close. The driver convicted of hitting her happens to be her next door neighbor and twin brother to her best friend. As if that wasn't bad enough. She felt drawn to him and started seeing him after the accident that is until Caleb just up and ran away. Eight months passed by and not a word from him. Maggie has almost gotten over him and decides to go on a summer tour with other teens who's lives have been impacted by drugs and alcohol, their goal being to help bring awareness to other youths and low and behold who should also happen to be on the trip...the boy that left her behind.

Sounds kinda heavy, huh? Well it all lightens up when hormones and emotions run rampant and not only does the story blossom into a great "coming of age/overcoming problems" message book, it has one of my favorite summertime romances that are blush inducing. Caleb is pretty darn swoon worthy and him and Maggie together are SO PERFECT!

Friday, June 10, 2011

I HATE blogger, I'm giving away ARC's and I'm going to Splash Town.:)

I have been in a reading frenzy for the past month. Between Book's picked up at the Teen Author Day at Romantic Times and my fairy godmother sending me books from BEA...well you get the point. Shall I show you? Yes. I think I will.

OMG!!!! Right? Yes, that is Bloodlines, Enthralled, Crossed and FOREVER! How bout them apples?

And I have read a bunch and guess what...THEY ARE AWESOME!!!

The problem with reading so many great books is when you have to stop to review them. *Sigh* Well, I had about 7 books read and I knew I needed to take the time to review them but, it's summer, and it's hot, and I just wanna read more......yeah, you get the point. Well, I finally sat down and knocked out a couple reviews for Paperback Dolls and then discovered today that BLOGGER HATES ME. It deleted 2 of my reviews that I worked hard on. *boo hoo hoo*. I know I know I know...I should have saved them in word but I didn't and I a little upset about it.


Anyway, I am done with messing around with reviews and posts for the day. I did manage to get my post for Favorite Boys of Teen Fiction for Paperback Dolls next week and GUESS WHAT...I am giving away a couple of my signed ARC's (One from BEA;). And now, I am taking my white, pale body to SPLASH TOWN! I am really excited. It's the first water park I have been to since I moved here. Hopefully I don't blind anyone with my whiteness--Hey, I'm an Irish redhead living amongst a bunch of tan Latinas...I have good reason to worry;)

Have a great weekend! 
Peace & Love

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

New Graphic Novel for teens coming soon


Sea Lion Books Unites Warner, Eisner-Nominated Illustrator Brett Weldele and Writer Philip Gellat to Bring A Unique Group of Beyond-Intelligent Teen Fugitives to the Comic Book World This July.


Atlanta, GA – June 01, 2011 – They’re not super powered, they’re just super smart. The teen protagonists who lead us through the world of Pariah, a twelve-book graphic novel series from the mind of Oscar-winning film producer Aron Warner and published by Sea Lion Books, are the next generation of heroes in the comic book world. Eisner-nominated illustrator Brett Weldele (The Surrogates) will bring the stories to life in ink, and Philip Gelatt will pen the scripts set in Warner’s world for the twelve books. As buzz builds about this unlikely collaboration and the unique story of Pariah, the series will premiere at San Diego Comic Con on July 20 – 24th.

"I came up with Pariah after reading an article about in vitro genetic manipulation,” Warner says. “We take medications every day without fully understanding how they work. It’s kind of terrifying if you think about it. In Pariah, kids grow up with incredible intelligence as a side effect of modern ‘cures.’ The problem is that they’re so smart, they question everything – even things we hold as sacred. All of our laws, morals, and even physical constraints will be torn apart and re-built. These kids are adrift in every way, equipped with mental tools we can’t even imagine. On top of all of that, they’re persecuted, feared and hated. As if being a teenager didn’t suck enough…”

The Vitros, as the characters are called, are a group of several hundred kids from all over the world who possess beyond-human intelligence produced via genetic manipulation. As teenagers in the process of trying to uncover their identities, they live relatively normal lives, though not without a fair amount of suspicion thrown at them from the fringes of society. When the Vitros are framed for a deadly explosion at a laboratory that releases a virus on the population, the government systematically begins to round up these pariahs, sending our heroes on the run from the authorities and their lives.

Says Sea Lion's Publisher, Derek Ruiz, "Aron has captured the essence of being a Pariah as seen through the eyes of a group of scientifically created teens. They are a Petri dish of innocent souls infinitely more intelligent than anyone else on Earth. Yet their creation and existence has left them shunned and condemned.”

What happens when the society that created them also tries to destroy them? The Pariahs fight back this July. For updates and additional information join Pariah on Facebook or follow @PariahComicBook on Twitter.

Aron Warner is the Academy Award®-winning producer of the animated blockbuster “Shrek” series. Mr. Warner joined PDI/Dreamworks in 1997 working as the producer on the animated film, Antz. He is currently in partnership with director Andrew Adamson in Strange Weather where they and partner Jeff Fierson are developing a slate of live action and animated feature films and television shows. He, producing alongside James Cameron, just wrapped the Untitled Cirque Du Soleil 3-D project, which was written and directed by Adamson. Pariah is his first graphic novel series.

Located in Atlanta, Georgia, Sea Lion Books LLC is a newly established publishing house which specializes in all formats—hardcover, trade paperback, and mass market and in urban fantasy and young adult genres. Sea Lion Books LLC recent roster of authors include: International Bestselling author, Paulo Coelho, New York Times Bestselling autho rs, Richelle Mead, Richard A. Knaak, F. Paul Wilson and Becca Fitzpatrick plus more to be announced in the upcoming months. Contact David Dabel at .You can visit Sea Lion Books on the Internet at . Follow Sea Lion Books online. Twitter, Face Book, Youtube.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Review of Enclave by Ann Aguirre

EnclaveWELCOME TO THE APOCALYPSE In Deuce's world, people earn the right to a name only if they survive their first fifteen years. By that point, each unnamed 'brat' has trained into one of three groups-Breeders, Builders, or Hunters, identifiable by the number of scars they bear on their arms. Deuce has wanted to be a Huntress for as long as she can remember.

As a Huntress, her purpose is clear--to brave the dangerous tunnels outside the enclave and bring back meat to feed the group while evading ferocious monsters known as Freaks. She's worked toward this goal her whole life, and nothing's going to stop her, not even a beautiful, brooding Hunter named Fade. When the mysterious boy becomes her partner, Deuce's troubles are just beginning.

Down below, deviation from the rules is punished swiftly and harshly, and Fade doesn't like following orders. At first she thinks he's crazy, but as death stalks their sanctuary, and it becomes clear the elders don't always know best, Deuce wonders if Fade might be telling the truth. Her partner confuses her; she's never known a boy like him before, as prone to touching her gently as using his knives with feral grace.

As Deuce's perception shifts, so does the balance in the constant battle for survival. The mindless Freaks, once considered a threat only due to their sheer numbers, show signs of cunning and strategy... but the elders refuse to heed any warnings. Despite imminent disaster, the enclave puts their faith in strictures and sacrifice instead. No matter how she tries, Deuce cannot stem the dark tide that carries her far from the only world she's ever known.
What if all of your favorite post apocalyptic and dystopian books were able to marry and produce offspring? The outcome of such a phenomenal mash-up would have the potential to be the most uber fabulous, end all of end all stories. It would have action, adventure, struggle, zombies, sickness, corrupt leadership, strong protagonist, and amazing characters. In fact, it would be exactly like ENCLAVE.

This book has it all and then some!

At first I feared that there was too much going on in the book and fought the urge to compare it to other popular books in this genre. But, sooner rather than later, I forgot why I was so skeptical and surrendered all to the plot. IT WAS AMAZING!!!!

The story is really made of three different parts. The first (and longest storyline) focusing on the people who have been surviving the apocalypse underground for centuries--never setting their eyes on the sun and everything "top side". Underground they have developed a type of government and assign people jobs (this was very reminiscent of City of Ember). Some people are born to be breeders, some builders, and others hunters. The Hunters are the group of people that go through the tunnels and collect food and try to remove "The Freaks" which are zombie like creatures that live underground and one of the threats to the settlement. However, there is another threat to the long term survival of the enclave and that is their life spans. For an unknown reason, most likely from nutrition or lack of sunlight, the people born and living in the underground enclave's do not live long, in fact their Elder is 25 years old.

This first part of the book not only introduces us to the characters and their way of life underground, but also to the relationships that become very important through out the rest of the story. In particular that of Deuce, the huntress, and Fade the orphan boy who joined the enclave only years earlier. It is the bond between them that leads us to the second part of the storyline. Together they are exiled from the enclave and forced to try to make it "top side" where gangs of boys are the main threat (this part reminded me of The Hunger Games where Peeta and Katniss are in the arena).

The third part focuses on Deuce, Fade and a couple of new friends and their journey to find a safer place to take shelter. As they travel North we see how the stress and uncertainty of the journey effects their bonds and how they strive to persevere in a hostile world.

Though there are lots of things that on their own would and have already made interesting stories, joined together they made something really awesome. I was very sad when it ended because I wasn't ready to close the book. I was pleased to discover that there is another book in this series coming out in just can't get here soon enough!

2011 is definitely proving to be full of amazing books and ENCLAVE is one of my favorites!!!

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Win a copy of WITHER and ARC of FEVER by Lauren DeStefano


Wither (The Chemical Garden Trilogy)In honor of author Lauren Destefano's 3,000th follower on Twitter, she is giving away an ARC of Wither, as well as (wait for it…) an ARC of its sequel, Fever. Fever is so brand new that it has not been printed. She has a word document open RIGHT NOW, at this VERY MOMENT, full of copyedits for Fever. Somewhere, in the magical building where books are printed, there is a chunk of space that WILL SOON BE OCCUPIED BY THESE ARCS! That is how early this giveaway is. Maybe there is an empty space in the mail truck that will soon be occupied by this ARC on its way to your house, if you are the lucky winner. Here is what you will get:

An ARC of Fever. As I just mentioned, these haven’t been printed yet, so there will be a wait before your winnings ship. When will Fever ARCs be printed? I don’t know, but, whenever it is, it will definitely be before the rest of the world gets to read this book.

An ARC of Wither. Now wait a minute, you’re saying. Why would I want an ARC of Wither when it’s already published?

Well I’ll tell ya! Lauren DeStefano will personalize this ARC. If you bid on her ebay auctions for charity a few months back, you know that she does full-service personalization. She'll sign it, write custom messages, sprinkle the pages with chocolate chips if you ask her to (although I don’t recommend that last thing). In her ebay auctions, someone asked her to draw a cat wielding a lightsaber, and SHE MADE THAT HAPPEN.

Now, I absolutely LOVED this book and the author has impressed me to the point that I will automatically pre-order all of her next a tiny part of me doesn't want to share this contest with anyone, but the other part of me wants the world to fall in love with this series too!

How can you enter?
  • Step 1: Tweet, facebook, or blog a link to this giveaway
  • Step 2: Comment on Lauren's blog with a link to your post. If you mentioned it on twitter, facebook, and your blog, you can comment up to three times with a separate link to each mention. If you comment more than three times, the additional comments won’t be counted.
  • Step 3: Tell friends!

The winner will be chosen via a random number generator.

The giveaway will end at 12:01 AM on Tuesday, May 31st, with a winner being announced later that day.

Oh, and this giveaway is INTERNATIONAL! =D

Friday, May 20, 2011

Will blog more....soon

Hey severyone. End of the year is coming up and I have been busy and neglecting my little blog PLUS i found a kitten and she is very demanding of my time...

See....she is whining in this picture;)

Awwww...but isn't she CUTE?!?

Friday, May 6, 2011

REVIEW: Invincible by Sherrilyn Kenyon

*This review was originally posted on Paperback Dolls
Invincible: The Chronicles of NickNick Gautier’s day just keeps getting better and better. Yeah, he survived the zombie attacks, only to wake up and find himself enslaved to a world of shapeshifters and demons out to claim his soul.

His new principal thinks he’s even more of a hoodlum than the last one, his coach is trying to recruit him to things he can’t even mention and the girl he’s not seeing, but is, has secrets that terrify him.

But more than that, he’s being groomed by the darkest of powers and if he doesn’t learn how to raise the dead by the end of the week, he will become one of them...

INIVINCIBLE picks up right where INFINITY left off....and I mean immediately following the event of the first book. I loved that I was able to get right back into the story.

Nick is trying to deal with the fall out from the Zombie attacks in the first book and due to his new found abilities and his new supernatural "friends", Nick is juggling a lot of different things.

Once again, the relationship between Nick and his mother really shines through and is one of the things that makes me love Nick's character so much. With his mother unemployed all of a sudden, Nick's friend the Dark Hunter Kyrian, arranges for his mother to have a job at the bar Sanctuary. What Nick's mother is unaware of is that Sanctuary is run by a group of Were's and also happens to be a popular hang out for the supernatural, but there are more dangerous things than the crew at Sanctuary. Death himself has decided to pay Nick a visit and "help" him with his powers.

What is more...all of a sudden Nick is getting attention from the hot chicks at his school and despite the fact that he is wearing a cast on his arm, the new coach recruits him for the football team. In a blink of an eye Nick finds himself not so uncool anymore, but is his luck really changing or is there more evil hands working behind the scenes???

In INVINCIBLE, we really get to know some of the characters better. There is back story given on some of the side characters and it was very touching and emotional at certain parts. Especially with Bubba and Caleb. One of the greatest things that the author is able to do though is write really tear-jerker moments but rebound with a touch of humor. It made the book easy to read.

I really love this series. This book is just as good as the first in the series and I can not wait another year to read the this book in The Chronicles Of Nick series. Sherrilyn Kenyon knows how to write from a young male's perspective and she does it in a way that still keeps a girls interest. I fully admit I have a HUGE crush on Nick Gautier and love all the different characters.

Peace & Love

*This book was given to PBD for review courtesy of the publisher

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Review- Bite Club by Rachel Caine - Mornganville Series

Bite Club (Morganville Vampires, Book 10)After discovering that vampires populate her town, college student Claire Danvers knows that the undead just want to live their lives. But someone else wants them to get ready to rumble.

There's a new extreme sport getting picked up on the Internet: bare- knuckle fights pitting captured vampires against each other-or humans. Tracking the remote signal leads Claire- accompanied by her friends and frenemies-to discover that what started as an online brawl will soon threaten everyone in Morganville...

I really don't know how Rachel Caine does it, but every single book in this series is awesome!

Bite Club is full of action and more emotional scenes between some key figures in Morganville.

One of the most interesting things in Bite Club is the fact that the author tells the story from alternating perspectives--Claire and Shane's that is.

Shane takes up a hobby at the Athletic Club and his moods began to shift to the dark side. He is more short fused (than usual) and at times mean to others...including Claire. This is tough shift in his character but given everything he has been through, possibly a necessary inner struggle that he will have to make in order to actually grow. As if that isn't enough, the drama in Morganville is beginning to bubble over once again, but this time it is due in part to the dead bodies popping up where they are least expected and some unusual videos on the Internet. How will Claire and company solve the mystery and stop the threat if their tight knit relationships are unraveling?

Eve also takes on a hobby and has an interesting instructor that just happens to be Morganville founder Amelie. Eve's character like Shane's is really growing but in very different ways. And, Eve and Michael have their own emotional moments and they are very important ones. Fans of the couple will be on the edge of their seats reading those scenes.

Myrnin as always provides some interesting moments especially with his new computer that is very different in personality than Ada (his previous real thinking computer) and *gasp* he may be becoming my favorite male character--even above Shane! It is becoming more apparent that Myrnin feels something more than hunger pangs for Claire and with Shane being so moody and broody one can't help but wonder "What if"...

Rachel Caine is such a SUPER STAR in my opinion. Her writing is able to communicate with both female AND male audiences and is consistently good reading. If you are still on the fence about the series I must ask--What the heck are you waiting for?

Be sure to check out these interviews & extras from Rachel on PBD!

*This book was given to Paperback Dolls  for review courtesy of Publisher

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Ho HUM. Sometimes the rules just aren't fair.

I have come to the concluusion that not all crimes are equal and I am a firm believer in the punishment should fit the crime.

Case in point: Monday I got called to the AP's office. As I was sitting in the office waiting a bagillion thoughts were running through my head and I was trying to determine exactly why I was there in the first place. By the time I sat in front of the principal I was already tearing up. I was scared. :(

Turns out my bus driver had written me up for my third offense. But until Mr. P told me what they were I had absolutely NO idea what I had done to warrant a trip to the office. So, as the principal explained what I had done I am not ashamed to say I a baby. It just so happens I'm not such a tough chick afterall. When faced with punishment I caved and begged  forgiveness of my crimes listed below.

  1. First check: I was not sitting in my assigned seat on the bus.
  2. Second check: I was being overly loud.
  3. Third check: I was busted eating a pop-tart from my backpack.

Here is the thing...I don't remember the bus driver ever warning me before on the first 2 counts. The third thing I fully admit to doing --I woke up late and was trying to eat before I got to school. Anyway, are any of those things worthy of being called to the principals office? NO. But rules are rules, and my punishment is one day of solitary suspension. In other words- I will spend the day in a room with other rule breakers and completely cut off from my classes, teachers, friends even lunch is served in the room. I am horrified and a little scared. I feel like Tracy Turnblad from Hairspray when she has to go to the office because of her hair.

I guess what I am getting at is that I think our principal had more important things to deal with than a pop-tart on a bus, but because there is protocol that must be followed, I am punished unjustly.

Is there any real justice in the world?


Saturday, April 23, 2011

Firelight by Sophie Jordan

FirelightA hidden truth.
Mortal enemies.
Doomed love.

Marked as special at an early age, Jacinda knows her every move is watched. But she longs for freedom to make her own choices. When she breaks the most sacred tenet among her kind, she nearly pays with her life. Until a beautiful stranger saves her. A stranger who was sent to hunt those like her. For Jacinda is a draki—a descendant of dragons whose greatest defense is her secret ability to shift into human form.

Forced to flee into the mortal world with her family, Jacinda struggles to adapt to her new surroundings. The only bright light is Will. Gorgeous, elusive Will who stirs her inner draki to life. Although she is irresistibly drawn to him, Jacinda knows Will's dark secret: He and his family are hunters. She should avoid him at all costs. But her inner draki is slowly slipping away—if it dies she will be left as a human forever. She'll do anything to prevent that. Even if it means getting closer to her most dangerous enemy.

Mythical powers and breathtaking romance ignite in this story of a girl who defies all expectations and whose love crosses an ancient divide.

Fans of the always classic "star crossed lovers" storyline will fall in love with Firelight.

I breezed through this book in one afternoon while laying out in the sun. I was so engrossed in the story I forgot to reapply sunscreen and got a little burned...nothing too bad;). I loved the entire mythology and premise of the book. While so many YA books that have paranormal elements are geared toward Vampires, Shifters, Demons, Fae, or Angels, Sophie Jordan has centered her characters in dragon lore and I'm hooked!

Not only is the whole Draki (dragon people) mythology really interesting to me but the fact that the author has created a modern day world and placed the existence of Draki tribes scattered across the world and a race of humans known as "The Hunters" right in the middle if it, is just so cool. Instead of reading a Sci-fiction story that takes place in another realm or time, Firelight was relatable and the present day setting made it seem real to me.

The characters are fun and entertaining. I felt as if I understood the heroine, Jacinda and was able to sympathize with everything her character goes through. The side characters are appealing too...especially the hunky hunter Will. *sigh* He is definitely swoon worthy and as the story unfolds we begin to see how layered his character is! The forbidden romance between Will and Jacinda is really the soul of this story and it makes this a perfect summer read for YA fiction lovers!

Firelight was a super fun read and I am really looking forward to reading the next book in the series. The only bad thing I can say about it is that it is an unfinished series-which means we have to wait for the next books to be written. But, with all the world building and set up for future books, it's sure to be worth the wait!

~Peace & Love

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Review of Betrayal by Lee Nichols

Betrayal (Haunting Emma)Emma Vaile is the most powerful ghostkeeper in centuries. Which is great when she's battling the wraith-master Neos, but terrible when she's flirting with fellow ghostkeeper (and soul mate) Bennett. When ghostkeepers fall in love, the weaker one loses all power, and that's not something Bennett can handle. Heartbroken and alone, Emma tries to lose herself in school with fellow ghostkeeper, Natalie. When a new team of ghostkeepers arrive-one a snarky teen boy, the other a British scholar-Emma finds solace in training for the battle against Neos. But as the team grows stronger, they are threatened by an unknown force. One they thought was good.

As chilling and page-turning as Deception, this sequel will grab readers and hold them to the last page. No one is safe from suspicion as Emma closes in on the traitor.

Ommigosh, this is such a fun book! I'm beginning to think 2011 is the year of AWESOME YA books, because I have yet to read a book that I didn't adore.

Lee Nichols is such a great story teller. She can communicate so many different emotions in fun and realistic ways. And, in Betrayal she really shows it off!

*Mildly spoilery for first book*
For instance, in the first chapter we see our heroine, Emma, dealing with the outcome of the events that came to pass in Deception (book 1). As Emma tries to cope with the human loss of a friend (and the fact that others blame her personally for that loss) we read her inner struggle and dialogue with herself and they are all very real reactions a teen would have and think to themselves in similar situations. But, then we see how quickly a teens thoughts can shift when the guy she is head over heels in love with enters the scene. Let me tell you where Bennett and Emma are concerned, Lee Nichols writes some swoon worthy moments that had me blushing one minute and grabbing for the Kleenex the next. Their storyline is set up to be potentially EPIC. I don't mind saying that as a "Bennett lover" I am a tad worried about his character.;)

The action and mystery in this book is really great. I was guessing till the very end on who the "betrayer" was...within one chapter I had pegged three different people as being the bad guy (or girl, or ghost;)).

I also really loved the character development of the supporting characters. We really got to know them better and see how important their roles are in Emma's life. And, considering everything that goes down in this book...they will be very important in future books so it's good to have more insight.

I enjoyed Betrayal even more than I did Deception. The Haunting Emma series is fun, thrilling, romantic, and sometimes creepy without taking itself too seriously. These books are everything a YA series should be and I look forward to the next addition.

The only downside is...that's like a year away!!!

Peace & Love

This book was originally reviewed for Paperback Dolls

Monday, April 18, 2011

Mortal Instruments Giveaway! Win a copy of City of Fallen Angels and MORE

Paperback Dolls are featuring the talented jewelry designer responsible for creating book inspired pieces from Cassandra Clare's "The Mortal Instrument" series, Viviane Hebel. Vivane's love for handmade creations is evident in her work and she is constantly imagining and making new pieces.

Most of her creations usually come from her experimentation with materials and self-taught skills. She enjoys working with geometric shapes in a very contemporary way, as well as organic shapes taken from nature. Inspiration is everywhere.

Visit Viviane Hebel

Here is your chance to WIN a brand new piece inspired by Cassandra Clare's newest release CITY OF FALLEN ANGELS.
Gorgeous new handcrafted Stele Pen

Not only will you recieve this AMAZING piece, but we're adding to the awesome by including a copy of CITY OF FALLEN ANGELS!!!
City of Fallen Angels (Mortal Instruments, Book 4)
That's right folks, you will be able to read the book while owning a handmade stele of your very own!

*To enter simply fill out THIS FORM and be sure to leave a comment below for Viviane Hebel;)

As usual, there are more ways to win:

+1 for each place you post about today’s contest on your blog, social network, or anywhere you can. Digg it, stumble it, twit it, share it with the world. Wherever you share it, make sure you add a link to it along with your comment.

This contest IS international. Giveaway ends April 22nd and the winner will be chosen by on April 24th. We ask the winners to post a review of the novel someplace. Whether it is on their own blog, Amazon, GoodReads, LibraryThing or wherever, it doesn’t matter. Just help get the word out. Also, we will try to contact the winners, but we ask that you check back to see if you’ve won.

*Remeber to visit Viviane Hebel's ETSY Store to purchase items and remember, a portion of the proceeds from each sale goes to benefit the charity Reading Is Fundamental, which delivers free books and literacy resources to children in need.

This contest was reposted from Paperback Dolls.

Win an iTouch loaded with 6 YA books + More!!!

Hi everyone,

Welcome to iClue. Six authors with six different mysteries and six weeks of book giveaways on our favorite book blogs (including this one!). Once you solve my mystery, head over to iClue and enter your answer. That's all you need to do to be eligible to win the grand prize: an iPod Touch loaded with all the ebooks you see in the iClue banner. You're welcome to enter once for each author mystery. So let's start playing!

A little about my mystery

I love pop culture and love to include pop culture references in my books. But ... sometimes it can date a book or possibly end up tragically. For example, if today I wrote something specifically about Charlie Sheen, in two years it could read funny or not so funny or just plain odd. So instead I'd mention an actor who got fired from a popular sitcom because he had some issues with drugs and prostitutes. That's vague enough, that in two years it could be relevant to a completely different scandalous actor.

I also love music, but to me musical taste is so personal. I might love the song Raise Your Glass by Pink, but you might hate it and by extension think my character is lame for liking it. Still, music is such a huge part of teen lives, that I can't leave it out. And that's what today's mystery is about.

This is a first-time-ever-seen excerpt from SURRENDER the third and final Haunting Emma book which will be published in December. In it Emma is listening to a song Bennett has downloaded to her iPhone. Read the passage and see if you can figure out who the artist is and what song she's singing. If you know the answer, DON'T POST IT IN THE COMMENTS. Instead go straight to iClue and enter your answer. But if you're having trouble, check back tomorrow on PBD where they'll post the first clue to help you figure it out.

Surrender Excerpt on Paperback Dolls*

Want to find out more about Lee Nichols and her books? Visit her Website and her Blog!

~*~*Paperback Dolls and Lee Nichols Book Giveaway*~*~
Wait! There's more! Lee Nichols is so awesome that in addition to the iClue competition she has also graciously agreed to share a copy of each of her books - DECEPTION and BETRAYAL, the first two books in the Haunting Emma series with one of PBD's followers! 
Deception (Haunting Emma)Betrayal (Haunting Emma)

What do you need to do? Well, Comment over on Paperback Dolls (.com)! Tell Paperback Dolls a quirky special reason why you deserve to win! Remember - do not share your iClue answer in the comments - that's for the iClue site. Just let us know why you deserve these spectacular books and one lucky winner will be chosen by on April 23rd and the winner will then be announced in our Week in Review feature on April 24th! 
Don't forget to tweet and share both contests! 
Bon Chance!

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Review: A Wrinkle In Time by Madeleine L'Engle

A Wrinkle in Time (Madeleine L'Engle's Time Quintet)Everyone in town thinks Meg is volatile and dull-witted and that her younger brother Charles Wallace is dumb. People are also saying that their father has run off and left their brilliant scientist mother. Spurred on by these rumors, Meg and Charles Wallace, along with their new friend Calvin, embark on a perilous quest through space to find their father. In doing so they must travel behind the shadow of an evil power that is darkening the cosmos, one planet at a time.

Young people who have trouble finding their place in the world will connect with the "misfit" characters in this provocative story. This is no superhero tale, nor is it science fiction, although it shares elements of both. The travelers must rely on their individual and collective strengths, delving deep into their characters to find answers.

A classic since 1962, Madeleine L'Engle's A Wrinkle in Time is sophisticated in concept yet warm in tone, with mystery and love coursing through its pages. Meg's shattering yet ultimately freeing discovery that her father is not omnipotent provides a satisfying coming-of-age element. Readers will feel a sense of power as they travel with these three children, challenging concepts of time, space, and the power of good over evil.

I’ll admit I was a little let down. My mother was really excited when she saw I was reading this book for school, and my mom has great taste in books so I expected a lot, but the story never really lived up to my expectations. I couldn’t help but feel that it was a little disheveled in places. I loved that the protagonist is female, and ordinary with braces, brown hair, glasses (girl next door kind of thing)… even if she was kinda annoying at times (all teens can be annoying;)). Time travel is always cool, and the unfamiliar planets (especially Ixchel with its sightless, faceless creatures) were incredibly fun to imagine. The crazy Mrs. W’s were very interesting, and if their stories are continued in further books, I’d be all over that.

The story itself is great – the classic battle of good versus evil in a sci-fi / fantasy setting. The image of evil as a dark cloud reminded me of The Nothing from The NeverEnding Story (loosely). The themes of individuality, love, and acceptance carried strongly throughout; even though they were almost shoved in the reader’s face, I’m ok with that since it is a children’s story.

What I didn’t like, primarily, was the character of Charles Wallace. For some reason, he really creeped me out. I understand he is supposed to be “gifted,” but his words and actions seemed far too adult for a 5-year-old. I also wasn’t a huge fan of the religious references made in several places in the story. Too many mentions of “God” turn me off. However, I am willing to admit that it was quite daring of the author to mix religion with some pagan aspects, like witches and crystal balls.

Overall, I did enjoy the story and definitely appreciate the themes and values, I was just turned off a little by the character’s lack of resolution and ability to be so easily distracted. As someone who is easily distracted myself, it made it hard for me to really stick with the story and become completely engrossed in it’s pages.