Thursday, June 30, 2011

Panic! At The Disco

We got to celebrate Tiny Reverse Vampire's birthday in style because she won passes to see Panic! At The Disco do an acoustic set at the radio station.

Signed Posters :)

Panic! At The Disco, Tiny Reverse Vampire, and Me

More pictures from the show:







  
 

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Missions and Matters of State


*Received from Hunt Press for Review

Must Love Dragons

This is one of those stories that I give a four tiara wearing bats and an extra tiara out of 5 bats.

I am always a sucker for a good misfit group of adventurers and boy does this book deliver. It may be a little bit slow at the start but once you get past the first chapter it just doesn't stop. Every character has their own little motivation (like Linus and his search for money to support his ever growing family, Bart’s older sister’s need of field credits for school, and Mort’s white dragon obsession) and it is fun to see how the pieces all seem to fit together.

I would have to say that there are two main characters who became favorites of mine. They keep killing Quincy, good thing it never seems to take because he quickly became a favorite of mine. I love Quincy because it's hard not to love the slightly simple seeming warrior with a heart of gold that just wants to help everyone and has more tricks up his sleeve then even he knows. Then there is Bart who ends up being the most effective member of the little adventuring group. Despite being a little kid he more than makes up for his sister's inadequacies. His skill with his knives and level of stealth is sure to push him to the top of his guild, once he gets to be more than a JR member that is.

Overall a great read. I will admit that I found myself smiling when I finally figured out the connection to the title and just how much Linus really does love dragons.


RUNS IN GOOD CONDITION

This would have to be a 3 tiara wearing bats out of 5 bats story.

This is the sequel to Must Love Dragons by Monica Marier. It follows Linus home to his family life and run for president of the rangers guild. It is a pretty good story. I like the elements brought in by getting to see his kids more. I was a bit disappointed that the only character from the main story of the first book that got to come back again really was Mort.

If you have an interest in politics this book is good but I do have to admit that the story nearly lost me on a few parts with how much it focuses on the political stuff. I loved the little comic relief side stories going throughout the book. Miles is interesting to me, I would love to see him pop in and out of some more stories in this world.

My favorite character that was new or at least mostly new in his case to this book (I had to go back and reread the end of the first one before I actually made the connection to who he was at first) would have to be Avery. I liked him from the start when he comes to the rescue crossbow in hand at the fancy banquet. He is one of those characters that when you first think about how they act, then find out their background you go what? I myself though do always like the good hearted black sheep of families.

Although I may have liked the first one better this is still a great midday read (I personally read it over lunch for 4 days). This world always seems to have more to give so I can't wait to see what happens next and I still want to know more about Quincy.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Absolute Abandon

* Read this ARC via Once Upon a Twilight Book Tours

This book gets a deadly
4 gnomes out of 5 gnomes for having a great twist on underworld mythology and for a strong main character trying to figure out how to live after having an extremely unique near death experience.

The story is set up as a spin on the whole Hades and Persephone myth.  It's well done because even if you know the myth their are plenty of surprises.  The only set up I could have done without was the passage from Dante's Inferno before every chapter.  It would have been better to maybe have it before one chapter, not throughout the entire book.  I think it just makes the reader pause too much and is distracting.

Pierce has some issues sure and the incident that made her leave her old school is still talked about.  She's become really withdrawn from everyone and people think she's crazy and has anger problems.  So now she gets stuck moving back to where her Mom's originally from, an island that seems to be teeming with secrets.  Pierce is now part of a program for troubled kids at her new school, she of course has problems but they are more of the paranormal variety.

Seeing how she interacts with the new friends she makes and her family shows how distant she has become and the reader can sense that something weird is going on.  Pierce is protective of people and thinks that she needs to save them from evil.  This hero complex has got her in trouble before and you can see her trying to save her new friend and her cousin too.  I wish this whole aspect of why her cousin has issues with certain people was explored more.  There are a lot of questions but with more books in the series I'm sure they'll be answered.

I love that the potential love interest in the story is this kind of ambiguous guy that you can't really be sure of.  For a good portion of the book it appears that there won't even be a love connection.  If you like your male leads more bad to the bone versus sweet and nice then John may be just the guy you're looking for.

The most brilliant twist in the story is who the actual bad guy is.  There are clues to who it is of course but I know I sure didn't put the pieces together before the big reveal.  This twist will definitely have repercussions for Pierce's life and well, piece of mind.
The end of the book was surprising and a tad bit aggravating.  It's one of those endings that makes you wonder how exactly the main character will find her way out of trouble.  I can't wait to see what happens next in the series because it looks like Pierce is going to have to make some very hard choices.

Monday, June 27, 2011

Sentence Sneak Peek - Abandon

Abandon by Meg Cabot

The first sentence from each chapter of 
Abandon, it's a mini summary of what you can expect to read.

All first sentences are from an ARC I read via 
Once Upon a Twilight Book Tours
* Spoilers are highlighted like so :)


"Anything can happen in the blink of an eye."

"Once, I died."

"Everyone wants to believe that there's something else—some-thing great—waiting for them on the other side."

"He looked as shocked as I felt."

"The next time I saw him after that day in the cemetery with Grandma, I was dead."

"Instead of home, or standing by the lake, I was in a long, ele-gantly appointed room."

"I took the staircase that twisted down, thinking it would lead me back to the lake."

"He stared down at me as if he suspected I was insane."

"When I got home, Mom said, "Oh, hi, honey."

"Mom signed me up for a nationally recognized (which was the only reason Dad approved."

"In a way, I'm grateful to Mr. Mueller, who started teaching at the Westport Academy for Girls last year, when I was a junior."

"The girl sitting next to me in the IHHS auditorium was check-ing the comments on her Facebook page."

"My heart did a double flip inside my chest as soon as I laid eyes on it."

"I could think of a lot of things I'd rather have been doing than standing in a twenty-person line outside Island Queen—Isla Huesos's down-market version of Dairy Queen—in the burning-hot late afternoon sun."

"Why don't you love me anymore?"

"There was no attempt at subtlety."

"As I lowered myself out of Seth's black F-150—a birthday gift from his father, he'd explained casually as he drove me home—I spied Uncle Chris in the driveway, one of our wooden lawn chairs in his arms."

"The office of the cemetery sexton, as he'd reminded me, closed promptly at six."

"Me?"

"Honey, some boys stopped by to see you."

"Seriously."

"The next morning, I didn't get up so much as float up."

"They made the announcement during lunch."

"None of it had changed."

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Coveting Covers

Check out this great cover for the 4th book in the Alien series by Gini Koch.  It has so many interesting components to it and leaves you really wanting to know what happens in the book.
Cover by Daniel Dos Santos

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Marvelous Mail of the Week

Received one of the prizes I won from the ArmchairBEA event, a prize pack from Chronicle Books.  There's a great mix of books in the pack and it looks like they'll be some fun reads.



Friday, June 24, 2011

Sex Strike

*Read via ARC from Around The World ARC Tours

This book gets a pretty good 3 gnomes out of 5 gnomes for being an interesting look at high school relationships and a great update of Lysistrata (a Greek play that is also about a sex strike).

The main gist of the story is that the football team and the soccer team have been having a major feud for years.  This feud is causing Lissa, the main character, to feel that her boyfriend loves the feuding more than he does her.  In this high school the feud tends to come first and lately things are escalating and more people are getting hurt.

If you can suspend your disbelief that there would be a feud between two sports teams at the same school that everybody knows about and seems to do nothing, then you will enjoy the book a lot more.  I found it hard to do this though mostly from personal experience.  At my high school nobody really cared all that much about the different sports teams because the players usually played more then one sport and most of the teams never really won all that much either.

Lissa sees this feud as the major problem between her and Randy.  She knows that she is not the only girlfriend of the football/soccer players that is having problems.  So she devises quite a solution to end the strike, kind of a counterstrike where the girls will not have sex or fool around with their boyfriends until the feud ends.

Lissa is written as being a smart girl who wants to take care of her family and seems to genuinely care about people.  The other girls though feel more that a little like caricatures at times or like they are just there to represent a certain point of view about sex or sexuality.  It feels like the male characters are better written, especially Cash, who's one side of the rather uneven love triangle.

The love triangle bothered me because it was extremely easy to see who she should end up with.  One of the guys in this love triangle seems to have no redeeming qualities.  It makes you question Lissa's self esteem and wonder what she sees in a guy who acts like a real jackass most of the time.  

It's great to see the many different kinds of relationships that all of the girls have.  Doing something like this actually lets more of a bond form between the group.  This strike lets them look more at themselves as individuals and think about where their relationships are going.

There are some surprises and the story does take an interesting turn towards the end.  It's great to see Lissa grow up more as the story progresses and realize that maybe she does need to loosen up every now and then.

Overall this is a fun book that's just a bit formulaic at points, you'll know the ending long before it happens but the journey to get there is a good read.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Birthday Blast

Had a great day today.  :)

Got this great camera from my parents which I of course will use a lot while writing the blog.  It takes awesome pictures too.  

From my sister, who knows how much I love gnomes.  :)

Birthday Trip to the Zoo: 
Me (terrified that I might fall off the metal rhino) and Brandy aka Tiny Reverse Vampire
Sloth with an attitude problem. :)
A sea lion who wanted to be alone.
Sea turtle taking a closer look through the glass.
A cool looking bird running around kind of reminded us of a dinosaur.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Happy Birthday to Me :) - Books I would wish for today

(this shows the faces that I' probably make while reading these books)
Here are the top ten books (in no particular order) that I would wish for right now for my birthday:

* Books without official covers yet are represented by Clip Art :)
* Release Dates according to Amazon or author's web site


A Million Suns by Beth Revis
Release Date: January 10, 2012

Book 3 of the Disillusionists Trilogy by Carolyn Crane which according to Crane's author site, "The ebook will be released December 6th, and the print version will be released in mid-late 2012."
Release Date: December 6, 2011 (ebook version), print version in 2012


Alien Proliferation by Gini Koch
Release Date: December 6, 2011

Shatter Me
by
Tahereh Mafi
Release Date: November 15, 2011

Release Date: April 3, 2012
Release Date: February 21, 2012
Release Date: November 15, 2011
Release Date: August 30, 2011

Release Date: August 30, 2011

Release Date: September 20, 2011

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Wicked Wolfsbane



* Read this ARC via Banned Book Tours
* Release Date - July 26, 2011

This book gets a well done 4 gnomes and a gnome hat out of 5 gnomes for continuing this intriguing story and telling the reader more of the history of what's going on.  Things were looking dire at the end of the last book and this shows the aftermath of some of the decisions that were made.

Calla is one majorly conflicted character because her world as she knew it was pretty much revealed to be a lie.  The question is though whether the people she is with now are any better for her and the pack's needs.  One thing she knows is that she doesn't like to be controlled and being an Alpha means that she should be the one in charge.  Gaining trust will not been easy when the people who used to be your sworn enemies might just be the only hope for salvation.  

Getting to see how the Searchers function versus the Keepers is really insightful because I know I never would have pictured their mode of transportation.  The differences between them and how they view the world makes you see how these two factions formed.  Much of the difference comes from the Searchers respecting nature and how the world naturally works.  I especially like how magic is explained in this world and what you have to do to use it.

There are also many new characters introduced to the story but I didn't like them as well as the characters from the first book.  You can see why they will be important and why they interact like they do but they just aren't as likable as I wanted them to be.  I get the feeling that it may turn out something like The Hunger Games with Calla stuck between two forces and not knowing if what she is doing is best for her and everyone she loves.

Then there's the part that Shay plays in this story.  He is really part of a lot of worlds now and just has to absorb everything that has happened to him.  Him and Calla are kind of in the same boat because the environments that they both grew up in were not really what they seemed to be and there are no easy answers to how they should move forward.  I wish more had been explained about Shay and his role in the war that seems to be inevitable.  The reader will know that he's important but I know I want to know even more history and the whys of what he has to do.  If you can't tell, I do like Shay's character and want to know even more about him.  

I don't want to get too much into the whole love triangle thing but I will say that I'm leaning more for Shay and Calla to end up together instead of her and Ren.  After Nightshade I said that she could feasibly pick either character.  Complications abound though it looks like Calla has even more tough choices in store for the future.  Certain events happen in this book that make me feel strongly that she should definitely be with Shay and not Ren.

The overarching theme of this book seems to be making the hard decisions and the consequences of where certain choices can lead you.  Many character's choices will break your heart and leave you wondering if they can even have a happily ever after type ending.  This story see-saws between the reader probably thinking yeah everything is going to be okay and a WHAT JUST HAPPENED kind of feeling.  The end of this book is suspenseful but not as suspenseful in an oh my gosh is everyone about to die kind of way like Nightshade was.

I can't wait to see how this series ends because I have a bad feeling that there is a lot more carnage in the future.  This book is a definite must read and will leave you drooling/salivating/yearning for the next book, Bloodrose which isn't released until February 21, 2012 (a Tuesday, which I am seriously considering taking the day off so I can finish this awesome series).  

Monday, June 20, 2011

Sentence Sneak Peek - Wolfsbane

Wolfsbane by Andrea Cremer

The first sentence from each chapter of Wolfsbane, it's a mini summary of what you can expect to read.

* Read this ARC via Banned Book Tours 

* Spoilers are highlighted :)



"I COULDN'T SHUT OUT the screams."

"THE DOOR LED INTO A WIDE, well-lit hall and I swallowed a gasp."

"LILY."

"NOW?"

"WAIT."

"THE DOOR ADNE OPENED this time revealed a landscape I'd known my whole life."

"TESS LAY IN A CRUMPLED heap on the floor while Connor spoke softly to her."

"A WEAPON?"

"SHAY HAD FALLEN SILENT as we left the room."

"MY FANGS CLOSED ON his throat, crushing his windpipe."

"MONROE LEANED BACK IN his chair."

"WHAT?"

"MY FINGERS DUG INTO his shoulders as I stared at him, unable to speak, not believing what I'd just heard."

"WE GATHERED AT Purgatory's kitchen table."

"I DIDN'T THINK I COULD get any colder, but as Monroe's words settled around us, I could have sworn the temperature in the room dropped."

"WEAPONS?"

"A SPEAR OF YELLOW light cut through the hallway from a room at the top of a stairwell I'd discovered when trailing Ansel's scent, the door open just a crack."

"CALLA," SHAY WHISPERED, gently shaking my shoulder."

"IT WAS COLD ON THE other side of the portal."

"NO FLUORESCENT CEILING panels hummed in the Chamber."

"BRYN TOOK MY HAND, leaning into me as we left the cell."

"REN PINNED ME TO THE cold steel of the cell wall, his knee parting my thighs."

"WE'LL NEVER MAKE IT back out."

"A BLAST OF HEAT PUSHED me back, throwing me toward the door from which I'd just emerged."

"I WAS ON MY BACK, staring up at a dull gray sky."

"THE SEARCHERS KEPT US moving at a quick pace."

"ITALY?"

"SNIP."

"FOR A MOMENT I THOUGHT the floor had dropped out from under me and I was falling."

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Weekend Reads

Here's what books I'm finishing reading or starting this weekend:


About halfway through this book, it has an interesting concept but I don't know if I love it yet.




This book's intrigued me since I heard about because of it's mythological connections.  I hope it's as good as some recent books based upon myth have been.

Friday, June 17, 2011

Masterful Makeup


*Read this ARC via NetGalley

This death defying book gets a fresh
4 out of 5 gnomes for having a sympathetic main character who's flawed yet great and for taking place in and exploring a very unique profession.

Donna has been mourning her father for four years and can't seem to get over his loss.  He seems to have been the glue that was holding the family together.  Her family has dealt with this loss each in their own different ways.  Her brother got out of the house asap, her sister has gone a little emo/goth and loves to dye her hair different colors and her mom seems to be holding together pretty well but there are indeed signs that show how much she misses him.  Donna on the other hand has withdrawn into herself and just isn't the same person that she used to be.  This begins to change in the first chapter when Donna gets the first inkling of what she might like to do with her life.  

There is of course lots of death in the story.  Instead of being depressing though all the death ends up being a really insightful window into the world of these characters and shows the myriad of ways that people react when a loved one dies.  I especially love the information sheets that are sprinkled throughout the book that talk about certain characters and what they were like like and then seeing how their funeral is planned and what people said at the funeral.

Donna's friends are a mixed bag.  I feel like she's one of those people that just sits at a certain lunch table because that's what's expected of her.  Then a new girl shows up at school and seems to pull Donna out of her shell.  She gets really close to Liz and through Liz she starts to see that there are lots of choices out there in the world.

Everything that takes place at the funeral home really makes you think of how you would act in the same situation.  It shows that death and everything that comes with it needs someone to put everything together and make arrangements for/with those that are left behind.  Hearing about all the different processes that it takes to make a body ready for a funeral are extremely intriguing.  Of course the reader gets a look at as the title says, putting makeup on dead people.  

The story encompasses a lot of themes like finding the right person, mourning, being true to yourself, and it also demonstrates some interesting family dynamics.  Donna goes through an awful lot in this book and at the end I think the reader is left with the impression that she's on her way to being a better person.