Thursday, March 31, 2011

Spotlight List: Time Travel

Spotlight is a feature I do where I pick a topic or theme and then highlight some books that fall into that theme.

Time Travel

One of my favorite ways to read historical fiction is through time travel. You get a spunky main character with the knowledge and mindset of modern times and all the fun of an historical setting. There’s usually a number of funny scenes as the main character fumbles with slips about the future and an apparent lack of knowledge about the social customs of the time. Even better, there’s almost always an attractive love interest and, because it’s the past, he almost always comes with the insta-hottie accessory of a sword. Here are some of my favorite and most anticipated time travel books.

Wildwing by Emily Whitman
Release Date: September  21, 2010
Publisher: Greenwillow Books

Pages: 359

Beginning in the early 1900s, Addy discovers a time machine that transports her back to the 1200s. Quickly adopting the identity of a high born lady lost at sea, Addy is taken into the care of her betrothed. Delighting in life as a “great lady,” Addy quickly realizes the role comes with more responsibility than she had ever imagined. Torn between love and duty, what will Addy choose? While I never fully warmed up to Addy, I did thoroughly love the plot. Watching Addy pretend to know the ins and outs of 13th century customs was hilarious. You can read more in my Wildwing book review.


Timeless Love by Judith O’Brien
Release Date: February 1, 2002
Publisher: Simon Pulse

Pages: 240
Goodreads Page

After wrecking her father’s BMW, Sam wishes she could be anywhere but there. She opens her eyes to find she is standing in the bedchamber of a decidedly hot Prince Edward—the year, 1553. Sickly Prince Edward died at the age of 16, but Sam is determined to save him. Not everyone is happy, however, when the prince regains his health and appears intent on marrying Sam. Courtly scheming threaten Sam’s station—and her life!—but it is the dual attentions of the prince and a handsome stranger that threaten to steal her heart. Sadly overlooked, this book was a fun trip back in time with a main character I enjoyed and a love story that had me swooning.

My Fair Godmother by Janette Rallison
Release Date: January 6, 2009
Publisher: Walker Books for Young Readers

Pages: 320

Savannah’s is devastated when her wallflower sister starts dating Savannah’s crush. Lucky for her, a fairy godmother sees her plight and appears to grant a few wishes. Or, maybe not so lucky. Savannah’s fairy godmother Chrissy isn’t an official fairy godmother yet. She’s still in training, and she’s not doing such a great job. Chrissy grants Savannah’s wishes in the most roundabout, misinterpreted manner transporting first Savannah and then Tristan, a guy in her class, back to the Middle Ages. In order to come back, Savannah must find a way to get Tristan crowned a prince. Battles against a troll, a dragon, and the sexy Black Knight ensue along with hilarious scenes that pay homage to a variety of fairy tales. I laughed my butt off throughout the entire book. Savannah is a great character who shows real growth and Tristan, well, he’s just dreamy. You can read all of my thoughts in my My Fair Godmother review.

Dark Mirror by M. J. Putney
Release Date: March 1, 2011
Publisher: St. Martin’s Griffin
Pages: 320

Putting a new spin on time travel books, Dark Mirror begins in Regency England and then travels forward in time to England during WWII. The first half of the book follows Tory as she hones her magic skills and makes friends. In the second half of the book, Tory and her friends travel in time to use their magical skills in England’s defense against Nazi Germany. Exciting and fast-paced, Dark Mirror is the first book in a series, but can easily be read as a standalone. The “can do” attitude of the book is infectious, but I did have trouble connecting with the characters.

You can read all of my thoughts in my Dark Mirror review

Waterfall by Lisa T. Bergren
Release Date: February 1, 2011
Publisher: David C. Cook
Pages: 369

Gabi and her sister are hurtled back in time to 14th century Italy where they are separated and Gabi is picked up by a gorgeous lord. He takes her into his care and promises to help her find her sister. Romance is in the air against a backdrop of courtly secrets and behind the scenes plotting surrounding a generational feud with a rival ruling family. Gabi is a wonderfully endearing heroine and to say this book is populated with numerous Italian hotties is an understatement! If you’re not convinced  yet, you can read my Waterfall review. Today is also the last day to enter for a chance to win your very own copy!
Have you read any of these books? Like them, dislike them? Do you know any time travel books? 
Please feel free to share in the comments. I'm always on the lookout for suggestions!

You can also head over to Splash of Our Worlds today for another Spotlight List!

Looking for more Spotlight Lists?

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Waiting on Wednesday (17)

Button from Bewitched Bookworms.

Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly meme hosted by Jill at Breaking the Spine where we all feature upcoming books we're eagerly anticipating.

I've altered things a little to include one book that hasn't come out yet and one but that has already been published but I still haven't gotten around to reading yet.

The Lipstick Laws by Amy Holder
Release Date: April 4, 2011
Only one week away!
Publisher: Graphia

Pages: 240 
Goodreads Page

From Goodreads:

At Penford High School, Britney Taylor is the queen bee. She dates whomever she likes, rules over her inner circle of friends like Genghis Khan, and can ruin anyone's life with a snap of perfectly manicured fingers. Just ask the unfortunate few who have crossed her. 
For April Bowers, Britney is also the answer to her prayers. April is so unpopular, kids don't even know she exists. But one lunch spent at Britney's table, and April is basking in the glow of popularity.   But Britney's friendship comes with a high price tag. How much is April willing to pay?
I already read this book, but I can’t wait for it to come out so I can start talking about it with people. You can read my Lipstick Laws review to get all the details, but suffice it to say this is a decent addition to the mean girls genre.

The Karma Club by Jessica Brody
Release Date: April 22, 2010
Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Pages: 272

From Goodreads:

Madison Kasparkova always thought she understood how Karma works. Do good things and you'll be rewarded, do something bad and Karma will make sure you get what you deserve. But when Maddy’s boyfriend cheats on her, nothing bad comes his way. That’s why Maddy starts the Karma Club, to clean up the messes that the universe has left behind. Sometimes, though, it isn’t wise to meddle with the universe. It turns out Karma often has plans of its own.

I think this book sounds really cute (with a super cute cover to match). I already like the “voice” in the blurb, so I’m looking forward to reading all about Madison’s attempts to get back at her cheating boyfriend and, just maybe, learn some lessons along the way.

Review Comparison Submissions (4)

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Firelight by Sophie Jordan

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Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Book Review: Where I Want to Be by Adele Griffin

Where I Want to Be by Adele Griffin
Release Date: April 21, 2005
Publisher: G. P. Putnam’s Sons
Pages: 160
Received: Library
Rating: 4 out of 5 stars


From Goodreads: 

Once, Jane was the big sister, teaching Lily to play make believe and protecting her from thunderstorms. But then Lily grew up. She started making friends and dating boys, while Jane wanted to go on playing make believe forever. For Jane, the line between fantasy and reality had always blurred, whereas Lily lived for a future bright with expectation and change. Inevitably, the sisters found a gulf widening between them-Lily reveling in her newfound love, while Jane could only watch, frustrated, from the sidelines. How had her little sister managed to eclipse her?

Then tragedy struck. But the story was not over. . . .

Adele Griffin has crafted a spellbinding book, told in the alternating voices of two very different sisters dwelling on opposite sides of life and death, who are bravely trying to overcome the void and bring light to each other.


Outside my comfort zone

I must be a masochist because Adele Griffin keeps kicking me in the gut and I keep coming back for more. I mean this as a compliment (come on, you all know I have Adele Griffin pom poms). Her books make me feel on a gut-wrenchingly real level. Don’t be deceived by the tiny page counts: Adele knows how to make every single word count and come together to create a powerful story. Her choice to use alternating narratives (one first person, one third person) was a stroke of genius, subtly adding incredible depth, characterization and atmosphere that would not have been accomplished as well with a different narration style.

Falling into the contemporary genre and dealing with the aftermath of death, I wasn’t really into this book for a while. I’m a reader who likes happy stories and I primarily gravitate toward books with some sort of fantasy element and a lot of fast-paced action. It could be argued that WIWtB does have fantasy elements because half of the story is told from the perspective of the deceased sister, but at its core I think this really belongs in the contemp genre.

Given all that, I didn’t really love the story. The genre is just not my thing. And yet, you may notice I gave this book a four star rating. That is because, even though this isn’t my genre, I was so incredibly affected by my reading experience that WIWtB has become precious to me.

A letter to my heart

Not only was I sobbing at various points throughout the book, but I even had a dream inspired by it that caused me to wake up crying. I can only remember one other time in my entire life that I have cried in my sleep. I'm still pretty shaken up about that. Reading Where I Want to Be was a startling and deeply moving experience, to say the least.

Instead of connecting with the characters, I felt like the book was speaking directly to me. I do not have a mentally ill sister, I have never lost a sibling, and all but one of my grandparents are alive and well (I never really knew the other grandparent). So my experiences are not at all similar to those of the characters in this book.

But I do have a sister. I do have grandparents. I have experienced loss. At their core, the relationships and feelings described in this book are something I can relate with deeply. Jane’s relationship with her grandparents inspired my dream and a previously unplanned visit to my grandparents’ house. As I read about Jane and Lily and their complex, raw relationship, tears were spilling down my face and I was internally blubbering, “I-I-I wa-a-ant to se-e-e m-m-my si-i-iste-e-r-r!” I felt such an overpowering need to see my family and hug them and tell them how much I love them.

Beyond genres

I didn’t realize how invested I was in the book until about halfway through. It sort of snuck up on me. One minute I was reading normally and then the next thing I knew my heart was in a death-grip and I was struggling to see the words through my tears.

This isn’t just a book about grief. While there is that, and the characters do grapple with emotions surrounding a death, there is also much more here. It is a book about coming to terms with and accepting the people we love as they are, even if that is different from how we wish they were, and coming to terms with mixed feelings as a result of this reality. But really, it's even more than that, and it's never preachy. Adele so sensitively and accurately cuts to the heart of emotional issues and human experiences that I often wonder, does she have a secrete doctorate in psychology?

I want to point out the page numbers again. One hundred sixty. That’s it. That this book contains such incredible weight, depth, and poignancy despite its tiny page count is a testament to Adele’s magnificent ability to write.  Where I Want to Be will silence those who believe YA books are incapable of capturing the maturity or seriousness of adult literature. On a purely writing level, her sentences are the kind that make me to stop to consider their beauty and read aloud just to hear and feel them.

Final words

In another author’s hands I don’t think I would have enjoyed this book all that much. I didn’t particularly like the characters (though I want to wrap them all up in hugs to comfort and shelter them) and the plot didn’t grab me (remember, not my genre). In Adele’s hands, however, this book transcended its bounds and touched me at my core. Some books introduce you to characters you will cherish, others take you on adventures, and a rare few reach beyond the fictional world to affect who you are as a person. For me, Where I Want to Be is that latter gem.

If contemporary and sad books aren’t your thing, try not to automatically dismiss this book. I would have done that if I hadn’t already read and loved two of her other books, and I would have been missing out. For fans of the genre, I can’t imagine this book not soaring to the top of your list. Also worth mentioning, Adele was nominated for the National Book Award for Young People’s Literature for this book, and it is clear why.

 Explanation of rating system: Star Rating Key 

This book satisfies the following challenges: 

Looking for another powerful read? You might like: 
The Adoration of Jenna Fox by Mary E. Pearson

Monday, March 28, 2011

Cover Crazy (16): The House of Dead Maids

Cover Crazy is a weekly meme hosted by Tawni at The Book Worms where a beautiful cover is featured each week for all of us to admire. I am going to use my Cover Crazy posts as an opportunity to review a book cover I love or review any cover (even the ones I don't love) from a book I've read. This week's Cover Crazy is for:  

The House of Dead Maids by Clare B. Dunkle

Ho-lee-crap! Does the publisher want to give me nightmares? Because that’s exactly what this cover does! 

Where are her eyes?? AAaahh! There are a few things that never fail to make me squirm, and doing things to eyes is one of them. I’m totally cool when eye colors are changed or even given slit cat-like pupils. I actually like that. 

But sticking things in eyeballs or, worse, removing them completely freaks me out. I just keep going back and harping on the question: Where are her eyes?! Why aren’t they in her head where they belong? I had the horrifying need to read this book and find out the answers to these questions.

Tearing myself away from the horror of her absent eyeballs, I see the title of the book: The House of Dead Maids. Well, ok then. She’s probably dead. Impressed with my observational skills? I know, I know. The way she fades into the background was another clue I picked up on as well. Now I want to know why she died, and if she lost her eyeballs before or after she died. 

Seriously though, can you get scarier than a ghost with gaping eye holes? This cover alone leaves me quaking and turning on every single light in the house. Add in the spooky trees in the background and the atmosphere-rich coloring of stormy, dreary grays and I don’t know how I managed to read this book without a brown paper bag cover!

(For the sake of full disclosure, I did put the book face down on my nightstand when I wasn’t reading. Could you imagine waking up in the middle of the night, turning over and seeing that cover??)

Then there’s the blurb: “Dark and Beautiful, literary and lovely.” Well, all of that is entirely true about the story, but yikes! I don’t know if I’d call that cover beautiful or lovely. More like chilling, haunting, and terrifying! All words that also apply to the amazing story. 

The only thing I don’t really like about this cover is the title font. It seems just a little too pretty to me. I would want something scary. Maybe a font that drips or somehow fades like ghostly smoke. Maybe something like the Supernatural font. 

This book was so deliciously good (you can read all about how much I loved this book in my The House of Dead Maids review), even for a huge wimp like me. The cover compliments the story very well.

What do you think about this cover?
Do you like it? Dislike it? 
Does it make you want to read the book?

Interested in covers? 
Be sure to check out another Cover Crazy post by Gina from My Precious.

Want to cleanse your palate with a pretty cover?
More of my Cover Crazy posts

Sunday, March 27, 2011

In My Mailbox (17)

Button from Bewitched Bookworm
In My Mailbox is a meme started by Kristi at The Story Siren with some inspiration from Alea of Pop Culture Junkie where we get to post about the books we receive each week through publishers/authors, our own purchases, contests won, and libraries.

I haven't done an IMM post for a few weeks, so this is an extra large haul. Sorry about my super crappy pictures. Maybe one day I'll actually remember to take my pictures in the daylight.

For Review

Thank you NetGalley, Tanglewood Press, and Simon and Schuster!

I am so excited for Wrapped! I've been majorly hyping that one for a while now. I'm also really happy Two Moon Princess was made available through Net Galley. I've been wanting to read that one, but my library system doesn't own a copy. I have to admit, Blood Red Road is a little intimidating at almost 500 pages and, eh, phonetic dialect.

Heads up for Gayle Forman fans, Where She Went is available on Net Galley now. I didn't request it because I haven't read the first book and I don't really feel like reading it now (it's sad, right?), but I know a lot of you are looking forward to this book.

Thank you to Henry Holt and Co.! Isn't the cover gorgeous? My photo doesn't do it justice. I finished it this week and I loved it! Review to come!

From the Library

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Demonglass (Hex Hall #2) by Rachel Hawkins

The Liar Society by Lisa and Laura Roecker
Dust of 100 Dogs by A. S. King 
Clarity by Kim Harrington
(Click on the titles to go to Goodreads)

Yeah, my library system decided to send all of my inter-library loans at once. I put most of these requests in around January, yet they send them all now! I also got a copy of Angelfire, but I sent that one back. You'll see why if you scroll down.

Full of Win!

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Angelfire by Courtney Allison Moulton
Desires of the Dead (The Body Finder #2) by Kimberly Derting
Afterlife (Evernight #4) by Claudia Gray
Unearthly by Cynthia Hand (review
Once in a Full Moon by Ellen Schreiber

All won as part of a Dark Days of Supernatural prize pack from the always awesome Teens Read and Write. Please check out their blog if you're not familiar with them. Think I'm funny? I have nothing on them, especially when they make a video.


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Darkfever by Karen Marie Moning
After hearing about Danny's incredible love for this series I decided to grab this copy when it was donated at the library.

Girls to the Rescue (#1) edited by Bruce Lansky
This one was brought to my attention by Gina from My Precious and looks like a perfect book to review for Tween Tuesday
Fallen from Grace by M. J. Putney
A short story related to the characters in her novel Dark Mirror
Turned at Dark by C. C. Hunter
A short story related to the characters in her novel Born at Midnight

All of those links go to Amazon so you can download them for free too!

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I WoW-ed Girl in the Arena by Lise Haines this past Wednesday and the incredibly awesome Natalie from Mindful Musings offered to send me her extra copy! How cool is she? A zillion points to Natalie! Thank you!

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What did you get this week? Has anyone read any of these books yet? Did you like them? 
Feel free to comment with links to your mailboxes or your reviews of these books!

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Book Review: The Iron Daughter by Julie Kagawa

The Iron Daughter by Julie Kagawa
Release Date: July 27, 2010
Publisher: Harlequin Teen

Pages: 359
Received: Library 
Series: Book 2
Rating: 3 out of 5 stars


From Goodreads (highlight to read): 

Half Summer faery princess, half human, Meghan has never fit in anywhere. Deserted by the Winter prince she thought loved her, she is prisoner to the Winter faery queen. As war looms between Summer and Winter, Meghan knows that the real danger comes from the Iron fey—ironbound faeries that only she and her absent prince have seen. But no one believes her. 

Worse, Meghan's own fey powers have been cut off. She's stuck in Faery with only her wits for help. Trusting anyone would be foolish. Trusting a seeming traitor could be deadly. But even as she grows a backbone of iron, Meghan can't help but hear the whispers of longing in her all-too-human heart.


Here and back again

I actually did enjoy The Iron King, even though I don’t usually like fairy books. Julie Kagawa changed my world when it comes to fairies. Given that good experience, I was looking forward to really enjoying this one. I was even more excited because I’d heard most reviewers say that this one was even better than the first.

But I’m so not one of those reviewers. I didn’t love this book or even like it as much as the first. The first book was a steady, fast-paced action/adventure with a romance in the background. This book moves in fits and starts with a slow beginning, romance in the foreground, and some really great action in the background. The action parts are what I prefer, so I was disappointed that they took backseat to the (irritating) romance.

Meghan and Ash sitting in a tree K-I-S-S-I-N-G

I still love Grimalkin. Only this time I almost wished he would totally screw over Meghan because she was really starting to bother me. I gave her the benefit of the doubt in the first book. She’s new to this world, she’s young, and she’s learning how to cope with all this fairy stuff. Ok. But now? Now she’s run out of excuses.  

The first 100 pages Meghan is taken over by the spirit of Bella Swan during the time when Edward made it very clear he wanted nothing to do with her and she responded by stalking him, fawning, and crying. A lot. Ash is a jerk to Meghan and she just keeps crying over his jerky snubs and telling him she loves him. I was embarrassed for Meghan. I even cringed.

I found this whole part to be very boring and I had a hard time getting into the book. I can see why I like Ash. He’s hot, he’s a skilled fighter, he has a tragic history, and he looks hot when he fights. Sounds pretty good to me. Added bonus, he’s not a jerk to me. But why does Meghan love him so much? He hasn’t been particularly nice to her, he helped her under compulsion, and he made it pretty clear to her that he’s not on her side. On top of all that, he’s still carrying a flaming hot torch for his former woman. Oh baby, oh baby. What more could you want in a lover? Meghan lost major respect points from me.

Excuse me while I fangirl

In the first book I liked Puck, but this second book made me solidly Team Puck. I had mentioned in my review for the first book that I thought he was more of a sidekick character. He comes more into his own in this book, though still not as much as I’d like. I’m hoping book three gives him a little more depth and page time. He’s so close to being amazing, but he isn’t quite “alive” yet for me.

But still, compared to Ice Boy, Puck is a pretty sweet choice. He’s been Meghan’s best friend for years, so she actually, you know, knows him. He’s proved himself to be loyal, too. Where Ash refused to go against his queen, Puck pretty much told Oberon to shove it and helped Meghan even though he was risking punishment from the Big Bad Summer King. He’s funny, nice, and a pretty impressive fighter himself. Plus, he’s hot too. So Meghan gets a big “You’re an idiot” from this Team Puck girl.

Back to the review

You want to know about the book though, right? My crushes don’t do it for you? Fair enough. When Meghan isn’t swooning over Ash, the plot of The Iron Daughter is just as interesting as The Iron King. There are a number of action scenes that are a ton of fun. I was speeding through these parts. The story of the Iron kingdom became a lot more interesting and the impending war hanging over their heads was tense and exciting. The climax of this book was also a lot more hard-hitting than the climax of The Iron King.

Except, we go to prom. Uh huh, you read that right. Meghan finally stops moping and the action finally picks up and I’m all “I’m so into this!!” and then we break for prom. Yep.

Oh yeah, and right before this whole prom digression Meghan loses major cool points from me.


Her dearheart Ash is saved by Meghan’s awesomeness, but he’s gravely wounded. Instead of rushing to his side and whisking him off to a healer, she….checks out her bedroom? Apparently mom replacing her furniture is a bit more pressing than saving the life of her one and only. Puck’s all like, “Um, hello, Princess? The guy you’re ditching me for even though I love you and am so much better for you than him is bleeding out in your living room. Could you maybe check out your bedspread later?” And she’s all, “But I want to make sure mom didn’t mess with my anime posters.” What??

When prom ends, the action picks up again and everything is pretty much made of awesome for the rest of the book. I gave The Iron King a half star more than this book, but if I could have hacked out a bunch of scenes and dropped Meghan’s annoying stuff I would have given the book four stars. So much potential, though readers who don’t mind prominent romance (especially of the Ash hating on Meghan variety) shouldn’t have any problems with The Iron Daughter
Of endings and sequels
This is the second book in the series and you really have to read the first book (The Iron King) to make sense of this book. Like the first book, I thought The Iron Daughter ended really well and felt like a satisfying, complete ending. I still want to read more about the characters, but there are no big annoying cliffhangers or anything like that here.
The first book was good, but it did read like a debut in a lot of ways. This second book shows marked improvement in her writing and characterization. Her world building is still phenomenal. I will be reading The Iron Queen, book three in the Iron Fey series*
*I’ve since read the third book and OMGAAHH!!! *happy dance*

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