Saturday, May 30, 2009

Review: Foundling

Foundling coverTitle: Foundling
Author: D. M. Cornish
Genre: Fiction, YA, Fantasy
Pub Date: September 2007, Penguin Group
Trade paperback, 313 pages


Set in the world of the Half-Continent-a land of tri-corner hats and flintlock pistols-the Monster Blood Tattoo trilogy is a world of predatory monsters, chemical potions and surgically altered people. Foundling begins the journey of Rossamund, a boy with a girl's name, who is just about to begin a dangerous life in the service of the Emperor. What starts as a simple journey is threatened by encounters with monsters-and people, who may be worse. Learning who to trust and who to fear is neither easy nor without its perils, and Rossamund must choose his path carefully.

My Thoughts

This was another book I happened upon in a bargain display at Books-A-Million, for a whopping $4. I'm glad I decided to pick it up, since it was a fun read and it turns out it had received great ratings at both and

I'm always a huge fan of books that create a new world and go into it in great detail. D.M. Cornish's world is incredibly imaginative and developed--a great addition to the book is the extensive appendix complete with glossary, diagrams, maps and more. The story is jam-packed with adventure; poor Rossamund found himself in so many dangerous situations throughout the book it was amazing he escaped relatively unscathed. I have to admit, he was at times a little annoyingly naive and innocent, but I know there's a purpose to this characterization, as I'm sure we will see him do a complete transformation in this series.

Cornish's characters are also a work of art--colorful and well-developed, thanks in part to the fact that this story is also very well-written. From Rossamund's friends he meets along his journey to become a lamplighter, to the wide assortment of monsters found on the Half-Continent, the reader gets a vivid picture of what these characters are really like. This truly is an amazing debut novel, and I am looking forward to getting my hands on the second book, Lamplighter.

Another bonus: assorted sketches of characters and monsters sprinkled throughout.

My rating: 5 stars

Other reviews of Foundling:

The Book Muncher ~ Graeme's Fantasy Book Review ~ Neth Space
My Favourite Books ~ Old Bat's Belfry

If you have reviewed this book and don't see your link above, please leave a comment and I'll add it! Thanks!

Friday, May 29, 2009

Review: Treasure Island

Treasure Island cover Title: Treasure Island
Author: Robert Louis Stevenson
Genre: Fiction
Pub Date: November 2005, Barnes & Noble
Hardcover, 237 pages

Synopsis from dust jacket

The most popular pirate story ever written in English, featuring one of literature’s most beloved “bad guys,” Treasure Island has been happily devoured by several generations of boys—and girls—and grownups. Its unforgettable characters include: young Jim Hawkins, who finds himself owner of a map to Treasure Island, where the fabled pirate booty isburied; honest Captain Smollett, heroic Dr. Livesey, and the good-hearted but obtuse Squire Trelawney, who help Jim on his quest for the treasure; the frightening Blind Pew, double-dealing Israel Hands, and seemingly mad Ben Gunn, buccaneers of varying shades of menace; and, of course, garrulous, affable, ambiguous Long John Silver, who is one moment a friendly, laughing, one-legged sea-cook . . .and the next a dangerous pirate leader!

The unexpected and complex relationship that develops between Silver and Jim helps transform what seems at first to be a simple, rip-roaring adventure story into a deeply moving study of a boy’s growth into manhood, as he learns hard lessons about friendship, loyalty, courage and honor—and the uncertain meaning of good and evil.

My Thoughts

I am happy to say that I have finally finished one book towards completing the Classics Challenge! I've had this one sitting on my shelves for awhile, and the challenge was the perfect nudge I needed to finally read it. I won't say too much about it, after all it's a Classic and has earned its spot in literary history many times over. But I must say that I thoroughly enjoyed reading it and am sorry that I didn't pick it up sooner!

As I often find with the classics, it took me a little while to get comfortable with the language and flow of the words, but once I did, it was as if I was right there with all the action happening around me. I honestly didn't have any preconceived ideas of this book going in, because I don't recall having seen any of the movies about Treasure Island, either. So, going in with fresh eyes made the book that much better, in my opinion, and I was able to enjoy the surprising twists and turns the plot took even more. If you have any interest in pirates and good, classic literary works, I think you would enjoy this book as much as I did.

My rating: 5 stars

Other reviews of Treasure Island:

If you have reviewed this book and would like to see a link to your site above, please leave a comment! Thanks!

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Thursday Thunks (05.28.09)

Welcome to the May 28th version of Thursday Thunks!
Where we make you think a little bit before you blog!

This week we will answer some crazy questions brought to you by THE THURSDAY THUNKERS!!!!!

These questions were submitted by Thursday Thunker participants! (so don't blame Kimber & Berleen for the quality of the questions.....) we are picking up where we left off last week, which explains why we are starting with #21 instead of #1. Great work on the questions submissions everyone! It gave Kimber & I a much needed mental break.We posted these questions just as they were listed on the participant's blog.

21. How many states have you been in?
Ummmmm.... I had to actually go and look at a map to make sure I didn't miss any: 20.

22. If a sexist Man is called a pig, what is a sexist Woman called?
Lol, good question... A piggette? A piggess? Piggerina? Piglette?

23. You see the one person who you absolutely despise. If you were guarentee'd that he/she couldn't say or do anything back to you.... What would you do??
I don't know, vent all my frustrations I guess?

24. How many states are to the right of you? And don’t give us a map to look at.
Well, I guess half of GA has SC to the right. Otherwise it's just the Atlantic Ocean.

25. You can go anywhere in the world for free. Where are you?
Australia/New Zealand

You tell me.

27. Are you a boxing fan? Do you think there will be a rematch of the Hatton-Pacquiao fight?
No. Who?

28. What is the most disgusting thing you have ever eaten?
Escargot, I guess. Other than swallowing sour milk one time. That was horrible.

29. Is it cloudy right now?
Yes. And foggy.

30. What is your dream job?
My question! Running a used bookstore. Or making jewelry. It's a toss-up.

31. Someone gives you a $500 gift card to WalMart or Target. What are you going to buy?
Books, movies, and probably some stuff for the house.

32. When you were little, what did you want to be "when you grow up"? And, how much different is your occupation now from where you thought it would be when you were younger?
First it was an artist. Then it was a teacher. Now I'm an account executive that's probably getting ready to go back into store management. But when I finish growing up, see #30.

33. what was your favorite toy as a child?
Barbies and My Little Pony.

34. How do you think these things up??
I'm a genius!

35. Why do you think so many "fake" veterans get away with pretending? Why don't people question them more (especially the media who eats up their stories?)
Because they can. And because the people must not care enough.

36. What is the last place you had a good cry and why?
Don't remember.

37. What do you mean?
What do YOU think I mean?

38. Which Sesame Street Character do you relate with the most and why?
I hated Sesame Street when I was growing up (blasphemy, I know) so I'll have to pass on this question.

39. What song one would you listen to over and over if you absolutely had to?
Probably something classical (piano) that I could just relegate to the background.

40. Did you ever make what you believed at the time to be a horrible mistake - that in hindsight turned out to lead you on the best path in your life?
I can't really think of any mistakes like that.

41. If you could change one thing on your person, what would it be?
Bye-bye excess weight.

42. What’s your favorite show to watch on television nowadays?
It's a toss-up between 24 and Lost. Though I do really like The Big Bang Theory.

43. Do you believe there is life after death?

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Review: A Reliable Wife

Reliable Wife cover Title: A Reliable Wife
Author: Robert Goolrick
Genre: Fiction
Pub Date: March 2009, Algonquin Books
Hardcover, 291 pages

Synopsis from

Rural Wisconsin, 1909. In the bitter cold, Ralph Truitt, a successful businessman, stands alone on a train platform waiting for the woman who answered his newspaper advertisement for "a reliable wife." But when Catherine Land steps off the train from Chicago, she's not the "simple, honest woman" that Ralph is expecting. She is both complex and devious, haunted by a terrible past and motivated by greed. Her plan is simple: she will win this man's devotion, and then, ever so slowly, she will poison him and leave Wisconsin a wealthy widow. What she has not counted on, though, is that Truitt — a passionate man with his own dark secrets —has plans of his own for his new wife. Isolated on a remote estate and imprisoned by relentless snow, the story of Ralph and Catherine unfolds in unimaginable ways.

My Thoughts

I almost did not even want to write the review for this book, because I realized that I seem to be in the minority among most reviewers. But I am adhering to my policy of giving honest reviews, and after all, how can someone like every book they read? So let it be said that I did not particularly enjoy this book. Oh, at the beginning there were moments I felt the spark of intrigue and thought that the story would improve, but unfortunately that did not happen for me.

To begin, I found Goolrick's style of writing difficult to read. Many have described it as lyrical, but I really found it to be more of a muddled mess by someone who is trying to write a literary masterpiece. And honestly, I wish I had read more reviews of this book before deciding to read it, but I hesitated to do so because I am always afraid to read too many spoilers... But if I had done my research I would have realized that the entire book essentially revolves around sex, whether it's longing for it, having it, or dealing with its consequences. And the scenes are almost painful to read. In the end, I skimmed over most of the sex and the last third of the book. Sure, there was intrigue and the possibility of murder hanging in the balance, but having it all spelled out early on rather ruined the suspense for me. I found the book drearily predictable in parts, yet the storyline felt wholly implausible by the time everything was said and done.

I know many people loved this book and I will include links to their reviews below. Unfortunately, it was not for me nor could I recommend it to anyone.

My rating:
Other reviews of A Reliable Wife:

MarysLibrary ~ Barney's Book Blog

If you have reviewed this book and don't see your site listed above, please leave a comment with the link to your review below, and I will add it. Thanks!

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Review: Wings

Wings cover Title: Wings
Author: Aprilynne Pike
Genre: Fiction, Fantasy, Young Adult
Pub Date: May 2009, Harper Teen
Hardcover, 290 pages

Synopsis (from Booklist)

Laurel was mesmerized, staring at the pale things with wide eyes. They were terrifyingly beautiful—too beautiful for words.

Laurel turned to the mirror again, her eyes on the hovering petals that floated beside her head. They looked almost like wings.

In this extraordinary tale of magic and intrigue, romance and danger, everything you thought you knew about faeries will be changed forever.

My Thoughts

I've seen a few mixed reviews on this book but decided to give it a shot, since I seem to be so into fairies/faeries these days. Personally, I really enjoyed this story! To give a bit more information than the dust jacket of the book, Laurel has certainly discovered something inexplicable about herself. Having been homeschooled her whole life, high school was hard enough without having to worry about the "wings" growing out of her back. She ultimately turns to the one friend she has gotten close to, David, and tells him the whole story. Miraculously, the very scientific and practial David believes her and does everything he can to help her figure out what's going on. Ultimately, it's another faerie, Tamani, who holds all of the answers, though...

Ah, do you sense a love triangle? As much as they can drive me crazy at times, they certainly add to the story. Aside from that, what I appreciate the most about Pike's book is its originality, but I also have to confess that I have a very limited background when it comes to faeries. I thought it was interesting to learn more about the folklore and mythology behind the faeries and faerie realm, but I won't give any of that away to those of you who have not read this book. In general, I thought Pike did a nice job with the characters, too. Yes, David may seem to good to be true, but you know what? This is YA fantasy, fiction, so why shouldn't things seem better than they might be if it were, say, real life?

Overall, I really enjoyed this book. It was a nice, easy read and well-paced. Pike's writing is good, but perhaps not great, though I see a lot of potential for this series. One thing that struck me, and normally I don't think much of 1st vs. 3rd person narrative, but I have to say that I think this story could have benefited from being told straight from Lauren's mouth. It only would have helped to make the details and story more vivid and provide more of an emotional attachment for the reader. It must be that I've been reading so much in 1st person lately that I realized that was part of what was keeping me from completely loving this book. But in my opinion, if you enjoy reading about faeries, you'll like Wings.

As a random aside, does it bug anyone else that there are so many ways to spell fairy/faerie/faery or fey/fae? :-)

My rating: 4 stars

Other reviews of Wings:

If you have reviewed this book and don't see your site listed above, please leave a comment with the link to your review below and I'll add it to the list. Thanks!

Teaser Tuesdays: Wings

TeaserTuesdayslogoTeaser Tuesdays is a weekly bookish meme, hosted by MizB of Should Be Reading. Anyone can play along! Just do the following:

~ Grab your current read
~ Open to a random page
~ Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page
~ BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!)
~ Share the title & author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers!

Wings coverHere's mine (cheating a bit with three sentences, but I really needed the third one!):

By the time Thursday rolled around, Laurel could no longer deny that whatever this thing was on her back, it wasn't a zit. Not only had it continued growing the last two days, it seemed to be growing faster. That morning it was the size of a golf ball.

~ page 37 of Wings by Aprilynne Pike

Monday, May 25, 2009

Review: Dreamstone

Dreamstone coverTitle: Dreamstone
Author: P. A. Hendrickson
Genre: Sci-Fi/Fantasy
Pub Date: March 2009, BookSurge Publishing
Trade Paperback, 529 pages


When Joebin Vassiter's home world of Prothia is faced with extinction at the hands of vicious slavers from Gildus-5, a voice in his dream lures him on a journey to the mysterious, uncharted regions north of his settlement. A mismatched band of volunteers join him as he searches for the one thing that can save Prothia—The DREAMSTONE. To hold the Dreamstone is to hold the power of transforming the subconscious into the conscious, the dream into reality. But pursuing the stone is not without risks. There are others in the hunt. Governor Kress Moltaire, a self-serving manipulator, desires its power for the sake of building her new order in the galaxy, and Colonel Penzin and Captain Klonda seek the stone for its financial value on the black market. As time runs out on the once-insignificant world of Prothia, Joebin wrestles with his own deep-set insecurities and new truths concerning his home planet. Can he conquer his fears and defeat the slavers and rival seekers of the stone before it's too late? —Not on his own and not without the Dreamstone.

My Thoughts

It's been awhile since I have read a novel that is truly Science Fiction (as opposed to Fantasy). In fact, the only ones I have read are the books in the Ender and Bean series by Orson Scott Card. I can safely say that I enjoyed Dreamstone nearly as much as I enjoyed those books.

Hendrickson has written a unique story filled with interesting characters, species, and technologies. And just when you've settled into the path the story is taken, the plot twists in a new direction and you have to rethink everything that is happening. Joebin and his friends have embarked on an amazing adventure, particularly as the people in their village have generally not been beyond the other towns in the area. They come across an entire civilization (the Atlomians) they did not even know existed, but little do the realize who else they will encounter as their planet is invaded by slavers, intent on forcing them to serve Kress Moltaire.

If you are a fan of Science Fiction I think you'll enjoy this book. It may be a little lengthy at times, but the story is very original and there are many likable characters along the way.

My rating: 4 stars

If you have reviewed this book and would like me to add a link to it, please leave a comment below!

Mystery Mondays: Your Recommendations

MysteryMondaysLogoWelcome to Mystery Mondays! (And Happy Memorial Day!) Sadly, I have no review prepared for today, I have barely even gotten any reading done this weekend, which is rather pathetic given that it's a three-day weekend! I guess I shouldn't complain too much because I've been productive in other ways. I am hoping to be able to devote a nice block of time to reading today, however.

Anyway, I thought I would let today be another opportunity for a bit of a poll question/discussion. Please leave your responses in the comments below...

This week's question:

What mystery book or series (this can include suspense/thrillers or other genres that also have the element of mystery) would you recommend to a mystery newbie and why? Does that differ from what you would tell a seasoned mystery-lover to try? If so, what are your recommendations for them?

I'll be interested to see the responses... I know several people out there haven't read mysteries as much, and the answers might tempt them to, and I am always looking for new mystery authors to read. Thanks to everyone for participating!

Saturday, May 23, 2009

In My Mailbox (05.18-05.23.09)


Well, it was a relatively quiet week... I was hoping to see some books I've won recently (Boneman's Daughters by Ted Dekker & Run For Your Life by James Patterson), but no such luck, maybe next week! So, just two books, but they are two books I'm very excited about, and they'll probably jump up into my reading sooner rather than later... Both came courtesy of

Fire Study coverFire Study by Maria V. Snyder. I am so excited to finish this series, I have REALLY enjoyed it so far! Is it just me, or is anyone else bothered by the fact that this cover differs so much from the style of the first two? Anyway, here's the synopsis from

When word that Yelena is a Soulfinder—able to capture and release souls—spreads like wildfire, people grow uneasy. Already Yelena's unusual abilities and past have set her apart. As the Council debates Yelena's fate, she receives a disturbing message: a plot is rising against her homeland, led by a murderous sorcerer she has defeated before.…
Honor sets Yelena on a path that will test the limits of her skills, and the hope of reuniting with her beloved spurs her onward. Her journey is fraught with allies, enemies, lovers and would-be assassins, each of questionable loyalty. Yelena will have but one chance to prove herself—and save the land she holds dear.


Storm Glass coverStorm Glass by Maria V. Snyder. Word on the street is that this book is just as good as those in the Study series. I may hold off for awhile, since I have such a mount of books to read, there are many I should take on first. Here's the synopsis from

As a glassmaker and a magician-in-training, Opal Cowen understands trial by fire. Now it's time to test her mettle. Someone has sabotaged the Stormdancer clan's glass orbs, killing their most powerful magicians. The Stormdancers—particularly the mysterious and mercurial Kade—require Opal's unique talents to prevent it happening again. But when the mission goes awry, Opal must tap in to a new kind of magic as stunningly potent as it is frightening. And the further she delves into the intrigue behind the glass and magic, the more distorted things appear. With lives hanging in the balance—including her own—Opal must control powers she hadn't known she possessed…powers that might lead to disaster beyond anything she's ever known.

Friday, May 22, 2009

Friday Finds (05.22.09)

FridayFindsFriday Finds is hosted by MizB of Should Be Reading.

I added a few books to my reading list this week thanks to all you fabulous bloggers out there who keep reviewing books that sound like they'd be right up my alley. I also stumbled across a "last call" Fantasy bargain book for $3 that sounded too interesting to pass up... First up, my picks from reading reviews this week:

The Scarecrow coverThe Scarecrow by Michael Connelly. This one is actually due out next week on Tuesday, May 26th. Synopsis from

Forced out of the Los Angeles Times amid the latest budget cuts, newspaperman Jack McEvoy decides to go out with a bang, using his final days at the paperto write the definitive murder story of his career.

He focuses on Alonzo Winslow, a 16-year-old drug dealer in jail after confessing to a brutal murder. But as he delves into the story, Jack realizes that Winslow's so-called confession is bogus. The kid might actually be innocent.

Jack is soon running with his biggest story since The Poetmade his career years ago. He is tracking a killer who operates completely below police radar--and with perfect knowledge of any move against him. Including Jack's.

What Would Jane Austen Do coverWhat Would Jane Austen Do? by Laurie Brown. Synopsis from

Surely Jane Austen would know how to handle such a rake...

From the author of Hundreds of Years to Reform a Rake, a new time travel romance featuring a modern day career woman swept back in time to Regency England, where she thwarts a Napoleonic spy, chats with Jane Austen, and falls in love with a notorious rake.

Eleanor is a costume designer in England for the Jane Austen festival, where her room at the inn is haunted. In the middle of the night she encounters two ghost sisters whose brother was killed in a duel over 200 years ago. They persuade her to travel back in time with them to prevent the duel. Eleanor is swept into a country house party, presided over by the charming Lord Shermont, where she encounters and befriends Jane Austen. But there's much more to Lord Shermont than the ghosts knew, and as Eleanor dances and flirts with him, she begins to lose her heart.

Star of the Morning coverAnd my bargain book: Star of the Morning by Lynn Kurland. Synopsis from

From the USA Today bestselling author comes the first in a magical romantic fantasy trilogy.

Darkness covers the north, since the black mage has begun his assault on the kingdom of Neroche. Legend has it that only the two magical swords held by Neroche's king can defeat the mage. Now the fate of the Nine Kingdoms rests in the hands of a woman destined to wield one of those blades...

In this land of dragons and mages, warrior maids and magical swords, nothing is as it seems. And Morgan will find that the magic in her blood brings her troubles she cannot face with a sword-and a love more powerful than she has ever imagined.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Review: Shadow Kiss

Shadow Kiss coverTitle: Shadow Kiss
Author: Richelle Mead
Genre: Fiction, Paranormal, Young Adult
Pub Date: November 2008, Penguin Group
Trade Paperback, 443 pages


Rose Hathaway knows it is forbidden to love another guardian. Her best friend, Lissa-the last Dragomir princess-must always come first. Unfortunately, when it comes to gorgeous Dimitri Belikov, some rules are meant to be broken . . .

But since making her first Strigoi kills, Rose hasn't been feeling right. Something dark has begun to grow in her mind, and ghostly shadows warn of a terrible evil drawing nearer to the Academy's iron gates. And now that Lissa and Rose's sworn enemy, Victor Dashkov, is on trial for his freedom, tensions in the Moroi world are higher than ever.

Lying to Lissa about Dimitri is one thing, but now there's way more than friendship at stake. The immortal undead are prowling, and they want vengeance for the lives that Rose has stolen. In a heart-stopping battle to rival her worst nightmares, Rose will have to choose between life, love, and the two people who matter most . . . but will her choice mean that only one can survive?

My Thoughts

Well, all the frustration I went through with Rose in Frostbite was totally worth it to be able to get to this book. Everything feel into place and Shadow Kiss is easily the best of the first three Vampire Academy books, even as good as the first two were. Now I even understand WHY Rose can be so frustratingly hot-headed and overreact about so many things. And all the same, I love her character, which is perhaps why I had a tendency to get frustrated when she wouldn't behave the way I wanted her to.

In addition to all of that, this book was action-packed, almost from the beginning. Mead has written a breathtaking story that will keep you turning the pages until you reach the end. And in the middle of all the action, we see that Rose's romance with Dimitri may finally be heading somewhere, for a change. Lissa also works with Adrian as the two of them try to develop their "spirit" powers, causing Christian (Lissa's boyfriend) some angst, but also bringing them to new levels of importance. In fact, we see more Moroi, in general, begin developing and using their powers more, and by the end it certainly comes in handy.

But above all, the culminating battle against the Strigoi is heart-pounding and completely gripping. And while I had already realized what part of the outcome would be, it was another thing altogether to actually see it unfold. Part of me wished it could have turned out differently, but if it had, the story just wouldn't be the same. All I can say is that I cannot wait to read Blood Promise when it is out in August. Thank goodness I have so many other books to keep me occupied until then!

My rating: 5 stars

Other reviews of Shadow Kiss:

Karin's Book Nook ~ Darque Reviews ~ TheBookBind
The Story Siren ~ WORD for Teens ~ Bookworm 4 Life
Persnickety Snark ~ A Blog of Books ~ Em's Bookshelf
YA Reads ~ Writer's Block Reviews ~ The Eclectic Reader

If you have reviewed this book and don't see your link above, please leave a comment below. Thanks!

Thursday Thunks (05.21.09)

ThursdayThunks Welcome to the May 21st version of Thursday Thunks!
Where we make you think a little bit before you blog!

This week we will answer some crazy questions brought to you by THE THURSDAY THUNKERS!!!!!

These questions were submitted by last week's Thursday Thunk's participants! (so don't blame Kimber & Berleen for the quality of the questions.....)

1. Have you seen the new Star Trek movie, and if so what did you think?
Hubster and I actually went to see this last week. We both loved it! And neither of us is really a "Trekkie" but I used to watch some of the TV shows with my parents when I was growing up.

2. Which popular sitcom character (past or present) are you most like?
I have no idea. I don't really watch many sitcoms to know where I'd fit in. Good question, though! Sorry to have such a lousy answer!

3. What kind of dreams do you have?
I rarely remember my dreams. Usually they're odd, occur in random places, and are frequently with people I've never met.

4. Bugger it. Go get a tattoo and come back. Right, now answer me this, what ees eet?
Sorry, not gonna happen. I don't do tattoos. OK, OK, hypothetically, if I did, it would probably be a butterfly.

5. Do you think you could be on American Idol with the singing voice you have now without any voice training?
Well, anyone can be on American Idol--the question is could I make it to the top contestants' round (I don't watch it enough to remember how many are selected--actually, I really don't watch it at all... shocking, I know) OK, anyway, yes, I think there's a chance I could do it if I worked hard. I actually have had some voice training, though it was classical...

6. How much wood, would a woodchuck chuck? If a woodchuck could chuck wood?
A lot.

7. If you were a tree in a Dr. Seuss book, what would you look like?
Hilarious question. I'd have a green trunk with pink and lavender feathery branches, I think.

8. Twilight? I'm addicted/Who cares/What the hell is Twilight?
How about I really liked it. Can't say that I'm addicted, but yes, I devoured the books, and then I moved on.

9. Do you think Kimber and Berleen do a dube while writing these questions?

10. What the worst injury you've ever had?
Um, a really badly twisted ankle on a couple of different occasions.

11. What is your favorite dessert?
Anything with quality chocolate. My mom makes a great dessert called choco-mint freeze, which I love.

12. What do you prefer...beach or mountains?
Mountains, hands down. I've never really been to the beach other than to walk along it a little bit. I burn too easily.

13. What movie have you seen that still make you cry?
There are a few. Anne of Avonlea will do it every time when Anne goes to see Gilbert when he's really sick. I know there are others, but I can't recall them at the moment.

14. Why are you making me submit a question? Are you too lazy to think of one yourself?
I'm not making anyone do anything... You don't see me holding a gun to your head, do you?

15. how often do you do laundry?
Ugh, too often. At least 3 loads just about every weekend, sometimes as many as 6. And it's just me and my husband--no kids! Where do all the clothes come from???

16. What is your favorite movie of all time, and why?
Oh gosh, I honestly don't know. I've always loved Anne of Green Gables and Anne of Avonlea but there are so many others I really like, too. Don't make me pick!

17. If you won a million dollars in the lottery, would you keep working?
Yes, but I'd work a different job. Since hopefully I wouldn't have to worry about money, I could do whatever I wanted without worrying about the salary.

18. If there was a war of the gummies, would you be on the gummi bear side or the gummi worm side?
The bears of course! The worms haven't had a TV show made about them.

19. What's your favorite comic strip?
Luann... I still get it via email and have for years.

20. Close your eyes… imagine you are in the perfect room/place… describe it.
In the mountains on a permanent vacation with every amenity I could possibly want.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Review: Frostbite (Vampire Academy #2)

Frostbite cover Title: Frostbite
Author: Richelle Mead
Genre: Fiction, Paranormal, YA
Pub Date: April 2008, Penguin Group
Trade Paperback, 327 pages


Rose loves Dimitri, Dimitri might love Tasha, and Mason would die to be with Rose...

It's winter break at St. Vladimir's, but Rose is feeling anything but festive. A massive Strigoi attack has put the school on high alert, and now the Academy's crawling with Guardians—including Rose's hard-hitting mother, Janine Hathaway. And if hand to hand combat with her mom wasn't bad enough, Rose's tutor Dimitri has his eye on someone else, her friend Mason's got a huge crush on her, and Rose keeps getting stuck in Lissa's head while she's making out with her boyfriend, Christian! The Strigoi are closing in, and the Academy's not taking any risks....This year, St. Vlad's annual holiday ski trip is mandatory.

But the glittering winter landscape and the posh Idaho resort only create the illusion of safety. When three friends run away in an offensive move against the deadly Strigoi, Rose must join forces with Christian to rescue them. But heroism rarely comes without a price...

My Thoughts

OK, I must admit it--I found this book frustrating. BUT... The frustrating aspects did serve a point, and I'm trying to decide if that makes it even more frustrating. :-) To clarify: Richelle is amazingly immature at times and I found myself mentally screaming at her for doing and saying some of the stupid things she did. But as I've already said, that made sense, given the kind of person she's supposed to be--obviously Mead did a great job writing her. Actually, Mead does a great job writing all of the characters, and I was glad to see some new ones introduced in Frostbite: namely, Janine Hathaway and Adrian Ivashkov. It is very interesting (and sometimes frustrating) to see Rose's relationship with her mother develop. And Adrian proves to be an interesting addition to the cast, as well, given that he's another person whose specialty is the spirit, and not one of the usual earthly elements...

A good portion of the book is devoted to relationships--Rose's in particular (with Mason, her mother, Dmitri), but also the growing relationship between Lissa and Christian. These relationships actually made for an interesting read a lot of the time, but I also found myself thinking, will you get to the point already? What is supposed to be going on in this book? Finally, as I reached the last third of the story, things started falling into place and really picking up speed. As I sit here and type this, I know I enjoyed the book and have gained even more appreciation for the frustration Read caused in me with Frostbite. Obviously, if I can get that invested in a story that has a tendency to drive me crazy, it must be pretty good. And in the end, much of it really was wrapped up and tied up snugly... leaving just enough to leave you dying to know what was going to happen next, but satisfied that at least some things were resolved.

So needless, to say, I'll be starting Shadow Kiss tonight (might as well knock out all three books now) and will wait anxiously for Blood Promise, due out in August.

My rating: 4 stars

Other reviews of Frostbite:

If you've reviewed this book and don't see your link above but would like it included, please leave a comment below. Thanks!

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Review: Vampire Academy

Vampire Academy coverTitle: Vampire Academy
Author: Richelle Mead
Genre: Fiction, Paranormal, Young Adult
Pub Date: August 2007, Penguin Group
Trade Paperback, 332 pages


St. Vladimir's Academy isn't just any boarding school—it's a hidden place where vampires are educated in the ways of magic and half-human teens train to protect them. Rose Hathaway is a Dhampir, a bodyguard for her best friend Lissa, a Moroi Vampire Princess. They've been on the run, but now they're being dragged back to St. Vladimir's—the very place where they're most in danger. . . .

Rose and Lissa become enmeshed in forbidden romance, the Academy's ruthless social scene, and unspeakable nighttime rituals. But they must be careful lest the Strigoi—the world's fiercest and most dangerous vampires—make Lissa one of them forever.

My Thoughts

I picked up this book a few weeks ago and only got around to reading it today. It took me a little while to get into it and get used to some new vampire terms--Moroi (living vampires that could procreate) and Strigoi (an undead vampire). But once I got settled into the Vampire Academy and this particular world of vampires, I have to say I really enjoyed this book!

I don't claim to be a vampire expert, but I have read a variety of vampire fiction and I am always impressed when an author writes something that I find to be very creative and original. Richelle Mead has done that with Vampire Academy. She does an excellent job not only developing the storyline, but the characters, as well. Rose is fantastic--full of sarcasm and attitude outwardly, but with an inward emotional strength that few really see. Initially, I found Lissa to be a bit insipid but she grew on me as the book unfolded and we learned more about her and her specialty. (All vampires specialize in some kind of elemental magic in this world.) There is a strong supporting cast, as well, full of your typical range of teenagers--well, apart from the fact that they are all vampires, of course.

There is, of course, a bit of romance between various characters in the book, but it is not really the main theme of the story, which I have to say is rather refreshing. References to sex are pretty prevalent, but overall I didn't find the sexual tones to be that much of a detraction to the story--just something to note depending on the age of the reader. Vampire Academy is a nice, easy read and I thought Mead did a great job bringing the characters and the story to life. And on my way home today, I bought Frostbite and Shadow Kiss.

My rating: 4 stars

Other reviews of Vampire Academy:

Teaser Tuesdays: Vampire Academy

TeaserTuesdaysTeaser Tuesdays is a weekly bookish meme, hosted by MizB of Should Be Reading. Anyone can play along! Just do the following:

(1) Grab your current read
(2) Open to a random page
(3) Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page
(4) BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!)
(5) Share the title & author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers!

Vampire Academy coverHere's mine:

The pursuing footsteps grew louder, closer. Black stars danced before my eyes. Ahead of us, I could make out Jeremy's green Honda. Oh God, if we could just make it--

~ page 9 of Vampire Academy by Richelle Mead

Monday, May 18, 2009

Our Weekend At Callaway Gardens

I just wanted to take this opportunity to again thank everyone who wished us well for our anniversary. We had a wonderful weekend and I hope you'll indulge me this non-book-related post!

Friday was great. We drove down and got to Pine Mountain at noon, where we had lunch at Aspen's Mountain Grill before heading to check in. After checking in, we decided to head over to the Gardens since the weather was so nice. We started out at the Butterfly Center and were able to get a lot of great pictures of butterflies in the man-made tropical habitat. Our next stop was the Discovery Amphitheater for a Birds of Prey show, which was actually an abbreviated version because it was so hot out--the birds hadn't gotten acclimated to the sudden heat wave, yet. We went on a walk on one of the nature trails after that and visited some Pioneer cabins along the way. After walking around some more, and visiting the Ida Cason Callaway Memorial Chapel (which is really charming, and in a gorgeous setting) we headed back to the hotel to cool off and freshen up before heading to dinner.

Saturday was pretty relaxed, though the rain put a damper on some of our plans. We didn't get to go biking in the morning like we'd planned, but we decided to just go have an early lunch and drive over to Lagrange to see the new Star Trek movie. It was great--I used to watch some of the various Star Trek TV series with my parents, but I don't think I've ever seen one of the movies... I thought this one was really well done. It was still wet and dripping when we left Lagrange, but by the time we got back to Callaway Gardens it was obvious the rain had been out of that area for a little while and things were drying up. So we went ahead and did some more driving around and walking to make sure we visited the spots we hadn't seen on Friday. We walked around Robin Lake beach and also visited Mr. Cason's vegetable garden. We ended the day by heading to the Callaway Gardens Country Store & Kitchen for dinner. They have a southern, homestyle menu that was alright, but nothing to write home about. The reason to eat there is really more for the scenic overlooks...

We woke up to another wet morning on Sunday, so we decided to go ahead and check out and have some breakfast before heading home to spend the rest of the day lounging around and eating the top layer of our wedding cake :-) I'll leave you with a few pictures, and a link to my album on Facebook, which you should be able to view even if you don't have a Facebook account...

Butterfly Center photo1

J. B. and I inside the Butterfly Center. It was really hot and humid!

Butterfly Center photo2

There were a lot of beautiful butterflies.

Butterfly photo

One of my favorite butterfly pics.

Nature trail photo

One of my favorite pictures from our walk along the nature trail.

Lake view Beautiful view over one of many ponds/lakes.

Memorial ChapelThe Ida Cason Callaway Memorial Chapel.

Victory Gardens smoochStealing a smooch in the Victory Garden.

If you'd like to see more pictures from our trip, you can click on this link for our facebook album.

Mystery Mondays: Review: Naked In Death

Naked in Death coverTitle: Naked In Death
Author: J. D. Robb
Genre: Fiction, Mystery, Romantic Suspense
Pub Date: February 2009, Penguin Group (orig. 1995)
Trade paperback omnibus, this title 271 pages


Eve Dallas is a New York police lieutenant hunting for a ruthless killer. In over ten years on the force, she's seen it all - and knows that her survival depends on her instincts. And she's going against every warning telling her not to get involved with Roarke, an Irish billionaire - and suspect in Eve's murder investigation. But passion and seduction have rules of their own, and it's up to Eve to take a chance in the arms of a man she knows nothing about - except the addictive hunger of needing his touch.

My Thoughts

I have to admit that I wasn't really all that interested in reading these books... until I had read some recent reviews of several titles in the series. When I happened to see the omnibus edition of the first two In Death books I figured, why not give them a shot?

Somehow, in reading those reviews I didn't realize these books were set in the future, which gives them an interesting twist. Actually, at times I wished that there was more emphasis on the fact that these books are set in the future--Robb could have supplied more detail in that respect. The story is certainly not for the faint of heart, and I should have realized that there would be more than enough sex, as well, given who we're dealing with (Robb a.k.a Nora Roberts). I skimmed over that and dealt with the foul language--I suppose it made sense for the story, regardless of whether or not I actually liked it. The storyline was interesting, if a bit predictable. But at the same time there were enough twists that I didn't have it totally figured out by the end. Robb does a pretty good job with the characters--Eve and Roarke are fairly well-developed (Eve more so than Roarke), and the antagonistic characters are definitely not likable in the slightest.

I plan to read the next book, Glory In Death, sometime soon, though I don't know that I'll continue the series beyond those two books. My reading tastes don't really include a lot of sex and foul language. All the same, Robb writes a good, suspenseful mystery and I could appreciate the story for that in itself.

My rating: 4 stars

Other reviews of Naked In Death:

Reading Comes From Writing

If you have reviewed this book and would like to see your link here, please leave a comment below. Thanks!

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Blogger Tips & Tricks: Scrolling Blogrolls & Lists

And here I thought I wouldn't have any more posts for Blogger Tips & Tricks... Just goes to show you how much I know! Last week, as you may remember from my Blog Improvement post on Friday, Viv at Serendipity contacted me because she was having trouble commenting on my blog due to loading issues. I finally decided something had to be done because I didn't want people to decide it wasn't worth the loading time to visit my blog! Part of my solution included reducing the number of images in my sidebar, and the rest was devoted to turning my TBR list and Blogroll into scrolling lists. The most important part was the blogroll, because I believe loading the links can take a lot of time. Many of you asked about these scrolling lists, so I thought the topic deserved to be part of my Blogger Tips & Tricks series...


That's actually pretty close to what I typed in my Google search box when trying to figure this out. Ultimately, I used the information I found at Just Another Pixel, so rather than repost a version of their directions, I'm sending you to that site. It was relatively easy to take care of, but if you need any help from me, please feel free to drop me a note!


Someone commented on my other post how turning my TBR list into a scrolling list made it look much more manageable. I couldn't agree more, especially since mine seems to grow weekly! Once I made my blogroll into a scrolling list, I thought I could de-clutter my other sidebar by doing the same to my TBR list. Ever the experimental dork once I learn something new with HTML, I decided to see if I could figure out how to do this based on the directions from Just Another Pixel and, more importantly, the code they used. A few minutes later I'm sitting on my "blogging love seat" shouting "I'm a genius!" (I'm so modest) to my husband, who looks at me like I'm a freak but quietly just says "yeah."

My TBR list is a text box that I added to my left sidebar in the Layout section of my blog, where you can "add a gadget." To make changes to it, I just manually searched for it in my Layout (under Edit HTML) after checking the "Expand Widget Templates" box and this was the code (you should be able to click on the pictures to make them bigger):

HTML code
So if you take a look at the code below, I have added some lines in red, which was from the code at Just Another Pixel. These are the magic codes that will make your lists turn into scrolling lists.

HTML code2
Below are the lines of code so that you can copy and paste it into your own HTML templates. (As always, be sure to back up your templates before editing them, just in case you need to restore them after a mistake. It's happened to me, so I definitely recommend it!)

Please note that on the height and width fields, you can adjust those px values so that the list fits in your sidebar dimensions appropriately. So you can make the scrolling box as long or as short as you want to--I shortened mine to about a third of its original length.

Hope everyone finds this helpful! If you need any help, I'm happy to do what I can. And as I always say, when in doubt, search on Google and you can probably find a site with the answer to your question!

Please check out the comments below. On May 20th, Jo posted a very helpful link with another option of how to make a scrolling list in your sidebar using an HTML/Javascript gadget. Thank you, Jo!! This is probably an easier option to work with so I encourage you to check it out! As for the blogroll, you're still probably stuck with editing your actual template, but at least you can have an easier time with your other scrolling lists!

The Sunday Salon: Review: Magic Study


Happy Sunday, Saloners! I thought I'd do something different this week and simply write a book review. We ended up getting quite a bit of rain yesterday while at Callaway Gardens, so I was able to finish up Magic Study. (And due to the rain, we're already back home to enjoy the rest of our relaxing weekend. By the way, thank you to all of you who left comments on my anniversary post, we had a wonderful time and I'll post some pics later!) It's hard to believe I read 5 books last week--that's got to be a record for me, lately! Anyway, here we go with the review... If you haven't read any of Maria V. Snyder's books, you might want to check them out!

Magic Study coverTitle: Magic Study
Author: Maria V. Snyder
Genre: Fiction, Fantasy
Pub Date: December 2008, MIRA
Trade Paperback, 441 pages


So far, I've managed to survive. You would think after being kidnapped as a child, imprisoned in my teens and released to become a poison taster, I would have endured enough. But no. The discovery of my magical abilities—powers forbidden in Ixia—has resulted in an execution order. My only chance is to flee to Sitia, my long-lost birthplace.

But Sitia is unfamiliar. I'm treated like an enemy—even by my own brother. Plus I can't control my powers. I want to learn about my magic, but there isn't time. A rogue magician has emerged and I'm targeted as his next victim.

Will my magical abilities save me…or be my downfall?

My Thoughts

Well, after reading Poison Study earlier in the week, I could not keep myself from going out and buying the second book in Snyder's Study series and bumping it up my reading list. (And to give you an early idea of how much I liked Magic Study, I just ordered the third book, Fire Study, this morning.)

Snyder has written yet another original and highly imaginative work with Magic Study. I love her descriptive writing style that makes me feel as if I could be in the world she has created. While I really found Poison Study and her life as Commander Ambrose's food taster intriguing, reading Yelena's story as she learns more about her magic was just as interesting. We learn more about how magic works in Sitia--some people are Master Magicians and can do anything, while others have a few talents or even just one. Yelena appears to have many talents--one of which I love involves her ability to communicate telepathically not only with people, but with animals.

We also see that Sitia is a very treacherous place--especially for Yelena--and it is as if we are being given the impression that Ixia is a much better place to live. Even still, I enjoyed getting to read about the new characters that Snyder introduces us to in Sitia while still being able to read about Yelena's friends from Ixia when a delegation arrives at the Keep. And really, much of the action begins once they've all arrived. But once again, Snyder successfully ties up many loose ends critical to the story, while still leaving it open to continue in the third book. I much prefer that as opposed to having everything wide open and waiting for any kind of resolution to occur. If you enjoyed Poison Study, you shouldn't be disappointed by Magic Study. It is fast-paced with never a dull moment. These books are quickly becoming some of my favorites.

My rating: 5 stars

Other reviews of Magic Study:

Dear Author ~ Em's Bookshelf ~ Poisoned Rationality
Alaine - Queen of Happy Endings

If you have reviewed this and would like me to include a link to your review, please leave a comment below! Thanks!

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Sharin' The Love

Well, my friends, it's that time again. I've had several lovely bloggers give me some awards over the last few weeks, but I've been remiss in acknowledging them on my blog and giving them back out. Bad Melissa! So here we go!

Bookfriends AwardThank you to Alaine from Alaine's Reading Blog, for giving me the Bookfriends Award! I'd like to pass this along to five bloggers that I'm happy to have become book buddies with:

Mishel @ Mis(h)takes
Viv @ Serendipity
Kristina @ Kristina's Favorites
Dar @ Peeking Between the Pages
Ruth @ Bookish Ruth


Lemonade AwardAnother thank you goes out to Missy of Missy's Book Nook. She kindly gave me the Lemonade Award. I wouldn't mind a glass of lemonade right now, actually... But I digress. Here are the rules:

1) Put the Lemonade Award logo on your blog or post.
2) Nominate at least 10 blogs that show great attitude or gratitude.
3) Link to your nominees within your post.
4) Let the nominees know that they have received this award by commenting on their blog.
5) Share the love and link to the person from whom you received your award.

Well, I have quite a few awards to hand out today so I am only going to pass this along to five bloggers... And as I'll be sure to leave comments when I'm back from Callaway, since this is an automated post :-)

So here are my nominees:

Amy @ My Friend Amy
Icedream @ Reading in Appalachia
Wendy @ Wendy's Minding Spot
Amanda @ The Zen Leaf
Alexa @ Not enough bookshelves


Enchanted Blog awardIsn't this award cute? Thank you to Marie of The Burton Review for the Enchanted Blog award!

The only requirement for this award is that you shared it with whomever you like, sharing the love is always a good thing. The blog has to show only one characteristic, caring. So, start sharing this enchanted award with five other bloggers. Let your bloggers know they have received this enchanted award. (Remember, fairies are fickle wee things, don't incur their displeasure by ignoring their gift.)

Hmmm, they sound a bit like those now-infamous zombie chickens... Well, we can't have any angry fairies around here, especially since I've recently discovered an affinity for them in my reading. So here are my five nominees for this award:

Jo @ Ink and Paper
Jessica Marie @ Books Love Jessica Marie
Ashley @ Ashley's Library
Tina @ Books Are Life
Ruth @ Buzz 'Bout Books & More


Kreativ Blogger awardThank you to both Jo at Ink and Paper and The GreenBeanTeenQueen for the Kreativ Blogger award. I'm a big fan of it--perhaps because I love the colors pink and green :-)

* Post 7 things you love
* Give award to 7 other bloggers who are creative.

Here are seven things I love:
My husband, my mother, my father, the mountains, vacations, our house, chocolate.

I am awarding:
Kelsey @ Just Blinded Book Reviews
Vania @ Reverie Book Reviews
The Book Faery Reviews
KB @ The Brain Lair
Marie @ The Burton Review
Kailana @ The Written World
Wendi @ Wendi's Book Corner


Lovely Blog AwardI have received the Lovely Blog award again; this time from Willowe at Readings of a Teenage Tree. Thank you, my friend! I think I've handed this out to about 30 or 40 blogs lately, so I am totally copping out--for the first time ever with a blog award. More than anything I just wanted to acknowledge Willowe for kindly bestowing this award upon my blog. So, if you're reading this, you are a relatively new blogger (say 3 months or younger), and you haven't received this award, consider yourself nominated!

And again, as I mentioned earlier, I'll drop by all the winners' blogs and let them know when we're back from our trip. Congrats to you all, and everyone be sure to check out all these fabulous blogs--both the blogs I awarded AND the blogs who so kindly awarded me.