Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Review: XVI by Julia Karr


By: Julia Karr

Release Date: January 6, 2011

Author Website Debut Author Challange Book

Summary: In the year 2150, being a girl isn’t necessarily a good thing, especially when your sixteenth (read sex-teenth) birthday is fast approaching. That in itself would be enough to make anyone more than a little nuts, what with the tattoo and all – but Nina Oberon’s life has taken a definite turn for the worse. Her mother is brutally stabbed and left for dead. Before dying, she entrusts a secret book to Nina, telling her to deliver it to Nina's father. But, first Nina has to find him; since for fifteen years he's been officially dead. Complications arise when she rescues Sal, a mysterious, and ultra hot guy. He seems to like Nina, but also seems to know more about her father than he’s letting on. Then there’s that murderous ex-government agent who’s stalking her, and just happens to be her little sister’s dad (from

Review: It's no secret that I'm a huge fan of dystopian. I love the idea that you can take what is happening right now and imagine a future where the consequences are huge. In fact it's a lesson in unintended consequences. With all the marketing that is happening today, aimed at tweens and teens, it isn't a huge leap to see how in the future that we will be so inundated with it that it controls every moment of our lives and every choice we make.

Here we see a world where the media and the government work in lock step to control everything. Right down to when you can become sexually active. In fact you are tagged with a tattoo that indicates your age- for girls when you are 16 you recieve an XVI on your wrist which idicates you are now fair game, you are now officially "sex-teen". There was a lot here that I really liked. I enjoyed the premise. It didn't seem so far-fetched and that is what I enjoy most about the dystopian books that are out there.

Nina is a believable charecter who you can connect to really fast. You see that she has been raised outside of the mass media that is thrown at them every day. Still, some of it has got through, how could it not? To see her struggle with the reality that "not all is what it seems" is interesting. To see her reconcile what she thought was true and what really is true as secrets are revealed throughout the story is both heartbreaking and full of hope.

I absolutely loved the secondary charecters. Sal, as the love interest, is earnest in his beliefs and also is honest in presenting the secret world of NonComs to Nina. He knows more then she does about the world in which they live, including stuff about her family, but he tries not to overwhelm her, or give her hope where there may not be any. Her female friends Wei and Sandy are opposite ends of the spectrum. Sandy is the embodiment of what "sex-teen" is supposed to look like. She watches the videos and practices her flirting and her greatest aspiration is to join the FeMLs, which she believes will get her out of the Cementville adn help her family, but FeML's, like most other government and media programs are not all they seem,a nd the truth is much darker. Wei represents the resistance, the NonComs and who Nina could become. It was a perfect way to illustrate the two different worlds Nina lives in and the two possible futures that lay ahead of her.

Still, for all that was wonderful about this book, I was still left a bit dissapointed. Not hugely so, but enough that I feel it's worth mentioning. I felt like the broad strokes of the book were fomulaic. Dysopians, at least the bunch that I have read, seem to follow a pattern. There is usually a girl, who lives in a world that is unfair to some degree, who begins to question that world, who has an absent parent, who meets an interesting boy who shows her things she hadn't dreamed of about this world. Eventually she finds out something about her family and their place in the world and then she rebels. Then we wait for the next book. It was easy to predict where the story would go for the most part. That isn't to say it wasn't extremely well done, it was. So this isn't neccessarily a complaint about this book, so I hope you don't take it as such. It's more of a comment on dystopian books in general. XVI was interesting and well written, but still, I wanted some new twist, something that would surprise me, and it wasn't there. I also wanted to knowm more about how the world Nina lives in came to be. There were hints at wars and treaties, but not a lot of detailed information. As someone who LOVES history I really wanted more. That, I imagine, is more of a personal preference then anything else. Others who read the book might think it was perfect in that aspect- but for me, you can never go wrong with more information. Your book might be 1000 pages, but I'd be into it!

At the end of the book I wasn't ready to set it down. The ending was spot on. It wrapped up the story at hand nicely and gave us a small tease as to where the book would go next. If there was never a sequel I would be satisfied with how it resolved. Of course, there is a sequel, and I'm excited to see where Nina goes next on this journey!


Sunday, March 27, 2011

Top Ten Tuesday

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted at Broke and Bookish Here is what they have to say:
Top Ten Tuesday is an original feature/weekly meme created here at The Broke and the Bookish. This meme was created because we are particularly fond of lists here at The Broke and the Bookish. We'd love to share our lists with other bookish folks and would LOVE to see your top ten lists! Each week we will post a new Top Ten list complete with one of our bloggers answers. Everyone is welcome to join. All we ask is that you link back to The Broke and the Bookish on your own Top Ten Tuesday post AND sign Mister Linky at the bottom to share with us and all those who are participating. If you don't have a blog, just post your answers as a comment. Don't worry if you can't come up with ten every time..just post what you can!

This week is all about what authors you think deserve more recognition- my list if basically going to read like a top ten list of some of my favorite authors. It was hard to make the list- sometimes I wonder if they are really well known in some circles, even though it seems like I'm the only one of my friends who is reading their books. Paring down my massive list took quite a bit of time and even the ones that are fairly well known should have more press, because in my opinion, they are rock stars!

1. Alexie Sherman: I think he gets quite a bit of recognition in certain circles, but I'm always amazed by how many people have not heard of him. He's a phenomenal author who writes poetry, short stories, Novels and YA. His books have been made into movies (Like Smoke Signals- great movie). He is also the author of one of my all time favorite books- The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian! I wish more people read Sherman's work- he really is a fabulous author who deserves every bit of press he gets!

2. Paul Goble: Who? Yeah- even I wasn't sure who he was, mostly because I was so hung up on his books as a kid that I never looked to see who wrote them. Once I started buying books for my daughter I realized that the same author wrote several of the books I love including The Girl who Loved Wild Horses and Buffalo Woman.

3. Joseph Bruchac: Another author who wrote so many of my favorite books and who's name I was unaware of until recently.

4. Joseph Marshall III: Here is an author that I've been reading for years. I've read his books as research, for class work and for fun. His book Keep Going: The Art of Perseverance is one of my favorites and I tend to keep it nearby wherever I go.

5. Darby Karchut: Karchut's first book, Griffin Rising, technically doesn't come out until June, so I may be jumping the gun on this one. However, I loved the book and I hoping the word gets out and she gets all the recognition she deserves!

6. Anna Michaels: Her book The Tender Mercy of Roses comes out in May, so I'm ahead of the game again on this one. It's another fabulous book though and deserves every bit of recognition it brings to Michaels.

7. James Kennedy: Have you read The Order of the Odd-Fish? If you haven't you need to get on it. Not only is the book funny and off the wall- but so is Kennedy. Having seen him give a presentation last year at t book fest I immediately picked his book and currently push it on every person who has the ability to read I see. You're going to read it right?

8. Lisa Schroeder: Her books are beautiful and heartbreaking and full of hope. All at once. I wish more people were reading her books because they are truly works of art. My favorite is Chasing Brooklyn, which coincidently made the RITA list. So maybe everyone is taking notice after all ;)

9. Shelton Johnson: I'm about half way through Johnson's book Gloryland. So far, amazing. Then I find out that he's a park ranger and has worked with Ken Burns on some of the amazing documentaries that I watch all the time. Seeing the man on the screen and reading the words on the page bring together a full picture of both the author and the story he tells.

10. Terry Parsinnen: I'm totally biased on this one as Parsinnen was my Undergrad History teacher. The man is a phenomenal teacher and he writes one heck of a book. The one that was most clasely related to my studies was The Oster Conspirancy (about a little known plot to avert WWII), but he has also published books on the history of narcotics and the international drug trade. If you are a history person, his books are totally worth the read!

PS: totally love checking out every one elses lists- I'm seeing ton's of authors I've never heard of but I'm itching to check out!

Saturday, March 26, 2011

In My Mailbox 3-27-11

In My Mailbox is a weekly meme hosted by The Story Siren. The idea is to share what books you got your hands on in the last week.

So the Borders near me is closing. Sad, obviously, for Borders, but awesome for me as the books were down to 75% off this week. I bought more then I needed, but seeing as I hardly ever buy books anymore that's okay! So this week for me it was a ton of books bought, a few from the library and one in on review.

A Girl Named Willow Krimble by Guiseppe Bianco
Click here to read it for FREE!!

I had the Right to Remain Silent...but I did not Have the Ability by Ron White
Read-Aloud Rhymes for the Very Young by Jack Prelutsky

Now You See Her by Merline Lovelace
Justice of the Mountain Man by William Johnstone
Trail of the Mountain Man by William Johnstone
Revenge of the Mountain Man by William Johnstone
Waiting for Columbus by Thomas Trofimuk
When She Flew by Jennie Shortridge
Nevermore by Nell Stark & Trinity Tam
Never Enough by William Voegeli
Old Border Road by Susan Froderberg
Gloryland by Shelton Johnson
A Voyage Long and Strange by Tony Horwitz

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Book Trailer: Pride & Prejudice & Zombies: Dreadfully Ever After

Earlier this week I review Pride & Prejudice & Zombies: Dreadfully Ever After by Steve Hockensmith. Today I got word that the book trailer has been released and it is fabulous! Check it out below and then go pick up PPZ: Dreadfully Ever After- it is a fun mash-up that continues the tale of Elizabeth and Darcy in a world over run by zombies!

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Review: A Girl Named Willow Krimble by Giuseppe Bianco

A Girl Named Willow Krimble
: Giuseppe Bianco
Release Date: 1-1-11
Read for Free on the Willow Krimble Website

Willow lives with her mother and older brother, Wyatt; she loves hanging out with her best friend, the feisty and sarcastic Razzel Fiora, and she has a close relationship with her grandmother. Seems pretty normal, right? It might be if the two most popular girls in middle school, Shayla Stergus and Snella Burenbine, did not taunt and remind her, on a daily basis, that she was born without her left leg.

Forced to maneuver through obstacles most teenagers would not need to tackle, Willow is suddenly blessed (or cursed?) with the unusual power to heal others through touch. Ever selfless, Willow’s desire to help the injured and sick thrusts her into a world where she is given immense responsibility, putting the needs of others before her own, all the while trying to maintain her secret.

Willow’s adolescent journey takes her through an emotional cyclone where she finds joy and purpose in helping an array of patients from an old man with Alzheimer’s to a mauled animal in a pet store. But Willow soon finds out there are limitations to her ability and, no matter how hard she might try, she cannot save everyone.

Through the intermingling of joy and pain, Willow is repeatedly tested to discover just how strong she can be, how strong she has been her entire life, and how everyone possesses the ability to effect another person’s world, with or without a secret power.(from

**NOTE: there are some minor spoilers ahead. Nothing that gives the whole book away, but a few things I couldn't really leave out while writing this review**

This was a highly enjoyable middle grade book, which the author was nice enough to send me. Anyone can read it for free online on the Willow Krimble website, but there's something about holding onto a book that really helps me get into a story. So, straight off, THANK YOU to Guiseppe Bianco for sending me a copy of this great book!

Onto the story- there is so much going on here that I love that it's hard to know where to start. At the heart of the story is Willow Krimble, a rather unassuming 8th grader who has a pretty good life, a great family and a fabulous best friend named Razzel. Life is never quite as easy as it seems though. Willow deals with the normal teenage angst, boys that you kind of hate but maybe really like, mean girls that take advantage and bully you at school, and family problems and heartache that can come from losing a parent. Plus she has some not so run-of-the-mill issues. For one, she has only one leg and this makes her a target for taunting and also makes her self conscious sometimes. She also finds herself dealing with a mysterious skill, one that could be seen as a blessing or a curse, the ability to heal people by simply touching them. Still, where other people might become the victim, I never felt like Willow was. She is picked on by the mean girls of her school, but she is never broken. She could have shied away from using her skill, but instead she seeks out some words of advice at her church adn decides to embrace it, and change the lives of those she can. Even her worst enemy, who once upon a time was a friend. I adored that about Willow. She was a strong, independent, well adjusted kid who was loyal to her friends and who would do just about anything to help someone in need, including paralyzing some imaginary bats for a patient at the hospital.

Willow was not the only great character at work here. Razzel her best friend was always ready to defend her against bullies, and beyond that, Razzel was ready to defend anyone she saw as being picked on. It's good to have those people out there, even if they do have a little trouble controlling their anger sometimes. Even Shayla, a member of the mean girls clique, isn't one dementional. As the story proceeds we see how and why she ended up the way she is, and we see her trying to find her way back to a better place. Snella, Grandma Trish, Wyatt, the parents (who I will talk about in a minute) Mrs. Protts and Tristan are all characters that directly impact Willow in some way and despite being secondary players they are all given a chance to be fully developed. It's really great to see, every character is there for a reason, even if it's only for a few passages here and there.

Now for the parents. For anyone who has been reading this blog, you already know I have a hang up about parents in YA and Middle Grade books. I hate the bad parents, the absentee parents and the way they are used to make the leading lady seem like she is alone and needs to be rescued by some mysterious, brooding boy. I was so happy that we didn't see that here! Here we see some absolutely amazing parents who are involved and enganged with their kids, even as they try to hold down a job and put food on the table. Mrs. Krimble is busy being a single mom to two teens. She's busy, she's overworked and I'm sure she misses her husband. Still, she makes time to spend with her kids, she's ready to help them if they need it and she's paying attention enough to see when something is wrong. So. Refreshing. Mr. Krimble on the other hand is not around. Having died from Leukemia a few years earlier he is absent as his daughter finds herself dealing with her new powers. Bianco still amanges to make his presence felt through a few well times flashbacks. We see him at Willows birthday, 6 years in the past, already ill and trying to have some closure with his daughter. He knows he won't live long, and he wants Willow to know he loves her and that he believes in her. Even if she doesn't realize it at the time, he knows that he has to tell her these things because someday she might need to knw that he is watching down on her and is always on her side. I have to admit- I teared up a bit.

So, in short, bravo to Bianco for creating a character in Willow that I never felt sorry for despite her disability and the teasing she endures, and for putting some wonderful parents and friends beind her to help her get through it. This book is full of great messages about being yourself, finding great friends and standing by them, giving of yourself to help others and giving people a second chance. It's a book worth reading.


Review: Wither by Lauren DeStafano

By: Lauren DeStafano
Release Date: 3-22-2011
Author Website
Debut Author Challenge Book

What if you knew exactly when you would die?

Thanks to modern science, every human being has become a ticking genetic time bomb—males only live to age twenty-five, and females only live to age twenty. In this bleak landscape, young girls are kidnapped and forced into polygamous marriages to keep the population from dying out.

When sixteen-year-old Rhine Ellery is taken by the Gatherers to become a bride, she enters a world of wealth and privilege. Despite her husband Linden’s genuine love for her, and a tenuous trust among her sister wives, Rhine has one purpose: to escape—to find her twin brother and go home.

But Rhine has more to contend with than losing her freedom. Linden’s eccentric father is bent on finding an antidote to the genetic virus that is getting closer to taking his son, even if it means collecting corpses in order to test his experiments. With the help of Gabriel, a servant Rhine is growing dangerously attracted to, Rhine attempts to break free, in the limted time she has left.

This was a really great book that stuck with me long after I set it down. I read it about a month ago and I’m still thinking about certain aspects of the story.

At the heart of the story is Rhine, who lives with her brother day to day, trying to stay alive in a dangerous world. They are hoping for a cure before their inevitable deaths, at 20 for Rhine and 25 for her brother. When Rhine is kidnapped and forced to marry Linden, she finds herself trying to not only survive, but break free and get home. With her are her two sister-wives who have different feelings on their fate, both with Linden and in the world.

I really liked Rhine as a character. She took the hand that was dealt to her and did whatever she had to do to stay true to herself. For her there was no other option, she has to break out and get home, even if home is hundreds of miles away. Every step she takes while with Linden in towards release. It was interesting to see her try to manipulate her way out, even as Linden’s father is watching her every move and countering it however he can. In fact Linden’s father may be the most dangerous thing she faces.

I also really enjoyed the relationship between not only Rhine and Gabriel, her partner in crime, but the relationships she built with her sister-wives as well as Linden. It was easy to see that everyone involved was a victim of circumstance. Linden, although he is participating in a polygamous marraige with brides that have been kidnapped, is not, at heart, a bad guy. He only knows life in his house, on his compound, and with the information his father has given him. He doesn’t understand what life is like outside, and he doens’t even really seem to understand how his brides came to be with him. He thinks they are all orphans or alone and that in exchange for marraige they get a better life. He doesn’t realize that not only is that not true for them all, but that those that were rejected by his father met a far worse fate.

The only thing that really kept throwing me of was the term “sister-wife”. With the TV show of the same name out now I kept thinking of the promos I’ve seen of that. It’s just poor timing for DeStefano, as she said in a tweet (which I can’t find, so I will paraphrase) that she was using the term in this book long before the TV show made its debut. That’s such a small issue though, that aside from the fact that it makes me laugh, it’s almost not worth mentioning.

Without giving away the end, I will say that I’m very interested in seeing where Rhine’s story goes from here and I hope we have not seen the last of some of the characters even as they are moving farther away from Rhine.


***Review originally posted to Eve's Fan Garden. If you want to chat about Wither and the series it is a part of, head on over the the Eve's Fan Garden forums! ***

Top Ten Tuesday

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted at Broke and Bookish Here is what they have to say: Top Ten Tuesday is an original feature/weekly meme created here at The Broke and the Bookish. This meme was created because we are particularly fond of lists here at The Broke and the Bookish. We'd love to share our lists with other bookish folks and would LOVE to see your top ten lists!

Each week we will post a new Top Ten list complete with one of our bloggers answers. Everyone is welcome to join. All we ask is that you link back to The Broke and the Bookish on your own Top Ten Tuesday post AND sign Mister Linky at the bottom to share with us and all those who are participating. If you don't have a blog, just post your answers as a comment. Don't worry if you can't come up with ten every time..just post what you can!

This week is all about book pet peeves. I've got lots of them, and at least one will be the opposite of what most people expect, especially when they consider the fact that I'm a year away from becoming a libarian.

1. Beat up books: I LOVE them. I hate when you see a line of books that are all pristine. So I guess my pet peeve would actually be pristine books. The look so...unloved. The more beat up my books are the better. Dog eared, finger smudges (I like to eat and read), wrinkled pages from where they've gotten wet and broken spines. All those things say to me that the book is well loved. There is nothing I like more then a book that looks like's it's been to hell and back- it just means it was so good that I've read it over and over again! Of course, borrowed books get special treatment, and a bookmark, but my books are all in the line of fire!

2. Dust Jackets: HATE them. Sure they are pretty and a lot of times it's that fabulous cover art that draws me in to begin with, but who they heck invented these things? They don't stay on while you try to read, then fall off and they generally get in the way. The first thing I do is toss those suckers in the trash.

3. Bad/Absentee Parents: to be fair I don't always hate this one, but I think it is so overused. From Cinderella to Wither (out today!) we see parents who are non- existant, for legitimate reasons or simply by virtue of not caring, as well as crappy parenting and the always popular wicked step-parent. Why do they always have to be bad or invisible? Can't these kids still come into their own with some great parents standing behind them? Obviously we see some great parents out there (Simone Elkeles and Darby Karchut: I'm talking to you), but by and large we see teens struggling to find their way with no parental influence to help guide them.

4. The Love Triangle: again, not always a deal breaker, but it seems like it happens a lot. Then it becomes predictable, and I find myslef picking out who will be our two love interests long before they reveal themselves in the story. It's distracting and I'm starting to hope for something new that will surprise me and make the book stand apart from the rest.

5. Different Covers/movie tie-ins: For someone who is so lax on the whole broken spine- dust jacket issue, I get really hung up on the covers of my paperbacks. Specifically the series covers. They have to all match. I hate when the cover art changes. The Sookie Stackhouse books for instance. I started out with one sort of cover and then suddenly my store only carried some weird new cover, and the books were totally different sizes. I couldn't have that- it would look weird on my shelf (dedicated solely to series'). So I had to order the right cover and wait for them to come in. Movie tie-in's go here too. I get that you want to make money off the movie and all, but the book should stand on it's own. I HATE seeing those movie poster shots staring out at me from the book shelf.

6. Epilogues: this one is pretty universal for me. I hate them. I see that word and begin to cringe. Occasionally I come across one that works for me, but the key is that it can't jump too far ahead and it can't become a "Happily Ever After" situation without any explanation. Two of my favorite book series' ended with the dreaded Epilogue. Harry Potter and the Hunger Games both jumped ahead a million years (I may be over exagerating here) and I felt like I missed too much. How did they get there? Why did they chose that path? For books that had a lot of turmoil, the epilogues seemed too neat and tidy. Often Epilogues feel like a cop out to me, almost like saying "here's where I wanted to end up, but it would take to many pages, so just go ahead and trust me, this is how it works out".

7. The Trilogy: I love a good series. Harry Potter, The Lord of the Rings, Sookie Stackhouse, Twilight and Hunger Games. All pretty well done. Of course with those huge success stories out there, everything has the potential to be a series, and should be a series. Right? Uhhh...wrong. I'm starting to hate getting the the end of a book and realizing that I haven't gotten to the end of anything at all. Often the ending seems clipped off or stilted as if at one point it was a stand alone and then the decision was made to make it a trilogy so the ending was hastily changed to accommodate more books. I even read one book recently that had a great ending. Totally stood on it's own, it left it opened for a potential sequel, but it also was satisfying enough to just be the end of it. Then I saw three words that killed the book for me. "To be continued." Uggg- what ever happened to just writing a great book?

8. Poor research: This is probably my biggest pet peeve, and also the reason I've been working on my book for 5 years. Poor research will absolutely sink a book for me. When authors allude to things that never happened, or they get dates wrong for historical events, or describe a place in a way that is wholly inaccurate, it 100% kills a book for me. I'm sure I've read a ton of books that get it wrong and because of my own lack of knowledge on the subject at hand I never notice. Which is the crux of the problem right there. If we are writing a book, even a work of fiction, that takes place in or around a real place or event, then isn't there some sort of duty to get it right? To get it wrong smacks of laziness and arrogance and it takes me out of a book faster then just about anything else out there.

9. Lust = love: Look, I'm all for those hot, steamy scenes where our mousy leading lady gets all hot and bothered by some sexy (usually supernatural) guy. Go for it. If the guy happens to be named Eric Northman all the better. But does that equal love? Should it? Is that the message we want out there? That the hot guy who happens to kiss like the devil is the one you should love and follow into whatever danger he might get in to, even if you've never actually had a conversation with the guy. Granted, it might lead to love. I'm still holding out hope for Mr. Northman there, but really, in a few hundred pages can that happen? I really hate seeing the girl just go blindly after a hot guy without ever thinking about why she's going. I always feel like the girl loses a bit of herself when she does and that's a shame. (ahem...Bella)

10. "It's the next Twilight!" aka Hype: Look I love Twilight. Those books 100% changed my life (no joke, but feel free to laugh). They were the right books and the right time for me. Still- were they really so good that everything that comes after has to be held to that standard? Frankly, I'd be hoping, if it were my book, that someone would say "Twilight who?" when hyping my book. Which brings me to hype (see how I stuck two for one in this last slot?) When someone says "It's the next Twilight" it tantamount to saying "It's the next big thing", which is pretty awesome if you are the author, but realistically, the chances you are the next big thing are slim to none. That's not to say that the book will suck, but seriously, we can't all be Stephenie Meyers and Suzanne Collins. That doesn't even neccessariloy refer to writing ability, just success. I'd rather hear honest thoughts then generic praise, because when a book falls short of the astronomic hype it's such a let down. Even when the book is great, not living up to the hype that's out there, can pull a book down. I'd rather a book come out of nowhere and surprise me then fall short of all the talk that's swirling around. Best example for me- Stolen by Lucy Christopher or Before I Fall by Lauren Oliver. Neither had a ton of hype prior to release and both totally blew me away. That is so satisfying!

Review: Pride & Prejudice & Zombies: Dreadfully Ever After by Steve Hockensmith

Pride & Prejudice & Zombies: Dreadfully Ever After
: Steve Hockensmith
Release Date: 3-22-11
Author Website

Pride and Prejudice and Zombies and its prequel, Dawn of the Dreadfuls, were both New York Times best sellers, with a combined 1.3 million copies in print. Now the PPZ trilogy comes to a thrilling conclusion with Pride and Prejudice and Zombies: Dreadfully Ever After.

The story opens with our newly married protagonists, Elizabeth and Fitzwilliam Darcy, defending their village from an army of flesh-eating “unmentionables.” But the honeymoon has barely begun when poor Mr. Darcy is nipped by a rampaging dreadful. Elizabeth knows the proper course of action is to promptly behead her husband (and then burn the corpse, just to be safe). But when she learns of a miracle antidote under development in London, she realizes there may be one last chance to save her true love—and for everyone to live happily ever after.

To be honest, I've long struggled with the mash-up. I've liked a few, but I've also felt like they were hard to read because I was constantly comparing to the original and was unable to really get into the book at hand. So I was very excited to read Dreadfully Ever After because I knew that there would be no reference point for me to look back to. This book would be all it's own, taking characters I love and transporting them somewhere new. I was excited and nervous, and really hoping it would work out. I have to say, I enjoyed this book much more then any other mash-up I've read.

In this book we find Elizabeth and Darcy living near the Bingley's and still adjusting to their new life. One in which Elizabeth is no longer allowed to be the warrior she was trained to be (and who Darcy fell in love with). It simply isn't proper for a gentleman's wife to be out and about with weapons. So their relatonship is already strained when Darcy is bitten. From there the story becomes a race to save his life, with Catherine angling to get Darcy back for herself and daughter Anne and Lizzy and her family working to get the cure- while being manipulated by Catherine.

I'd love to say that the love story between Darcy and Lizzy continues in this book, but it doesn't. They are together for only a small part of the story and beyond that we see them dealing with circumstances seperately. That's okay. They need this time apart to realize what it is about eachother that they love and how to get that back. The story is not without romance. I was surprised and delighted to see Kitty step up to the plate as she ventures to London with her father and Lizzy to try and retrieve the cure. While there she has a role to play, seduce the doctor's son, the hilariously silly Bunny (who coincidently has a pet bunny who he dresses up in clothes). Add in the exotic and stoic ninja Nezu and we begin to see Kitty emerge from the shadow of her warrior siters and her "silly" sister Lydia to come into her own. The confusing and turbulent relationships we saw not only in the previous mash-ups, but in the original Pride & Prejudice, are continued her with Kitty and Nezu and even with Mary and the mysterious Man in the Box.

This is a fun, easy read and if you are a fan of mash-up or Austen then I'd say to give it a try. It far exceeded my expectations!


Friday, March 18, 2011

Win Breathless Contest!

This is amazing. I mean, sure the contest is awesome, but more amazing then that is the fact that I actually posted several times this week! I love Spring break <3>

So want to know more about this contest? Here's the deal. The fabulous Beth Revis is giving away all 5 books from the Breathless Reads Tour. Cool on it's own, but Revis does us one better- all 5 books are autographed!

Here are some super short summaries straight from Beth Revis. They are also linked to the goodreads page for each book if you want more information.

THE ETERNAL ONES by Kiersten Miller is a fast-paced, adventurious love story that involves reincarnation, secret societies, and fire.

THE REPLACEMENT by Brenna Yovanoff is a hauntingly beautiful book that scares the pants off me.

NIGHTSHADE by Andrea Cremer is not about werewolves--it's about true wolves that can shapeshift into people written by a brilliant scholar who incorporate history into the tale.

MATCHED by Allie Condie shows us that love can break through any barrier, and the most important thing is to not go gently...

ACROSS THE UNIVERSE is the book that I wrote and I would really like it if you liked it. Also I think you're pretty and want to be friends with you.

Like what you see? Head on over the Beth Revis' website to see how you can win!

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Book Blogger Hop

This meme is hosted by Crazy for Books, so hop on over her way to see what she is up to!

Holy smokes it's been awhile since I joined in on one of these! It seems like I miss for one week because of school or work or whatever and then suddenly 3 months (eep!) have passed. Seriously- 3 months exactly. That's a whole lot of blog fail happening. At any rate- it's Spring Break, for this one week I'm free of homework and can have some fun!

Here's this weeks question:
"Do you read only one book at a time, or do you have several going at once?"

I almost always have several going. Usually one that is a bit heftier and will take several sittings to get through and then I fly through lighter fair at a rate of about a book every other day- and usually I read the whole book in one sitting. I also usually have one book in the car that is something that can be picked up and put down and not get finished for months- something like a collection of essays or short stories. I think I had a book called Mountain Men in my car for 6 months before I finished it! Right now my longer read is Sherman Alexie's Face (a collection of peotry) and I have a stack of tbr's that I'm working through as well.

I really like reading more then one at a time- it allows you to get sucked in to a really great book when it comes along, but allows you to always have another book to turn to.

How about you- are you a one at a time sort of reader or do you like to multitask?

Review: Trapped by Michael Northrop

By: Michael Northrop
Release Date: January 1, 2011
Publisher: Scholastic Press
Author Website
YA Contemps Challenge Book

The day the blizzard started, no one knew that it was going to keep snowing for a week. That for those in its path, it would become not just a matter of keeping warm, but of staying alive....

Scotty and his friends Pete and Jason are among the last seven kids at their high school waiting to get picked up that day, and they soon realize that no one is coming for them. Still, it doesn't seem so bad to spend the night at school, especially when distractingly hot Krista and Julie are sleeping just down the hall. But then the power goes out, then the heat. The pipes freeze, and the roof shudders. As the days add up, the snow piles higher, and the empty halls grow colder and darker, the mounting pressure forces a devastating decision....

This was a really amazing book. 7 students are trapped at their high school as Snowpocolpse rages outside. They were supposed to go home early, but for one reason or another they were still in the school waiting hours later. Their rides home never showed up. The roads were closed and nobody was getting in or out. From there it becomes an interesting look at several things- how the weather can hold you captive, how the social structure that makes up a school changes when the need arises and how people can become heroic in the face of danger.

As for the main player here, the snowstorm, I felt like I knew it well. I'm from Central New York- it regularly starts snowing here before Thanksgiving and it's nothing to still have snow flying come Mother's Day. Average snowfall here is 121 inches and this year, affectionately being called “The Winter from Hell”, we’ve gotten 174 inches, so far. So I’m no stranger to snowstorms. The descriptions of the falling snow, the way it blankets everything and changes the landscape into something alien and unforgiving, the way it seems like it will never stop and the way it can bring the world crashing down as it freezes pipes and weakens roofs- it all made sense to me. I think that made it even more real, the idea that, despite the fact that I haven’t been trapped alone during a weeklong storm, it didn’t seem all that farfetched.

I don’t want to give too much away on this book, because one slip up could ruin the whole story. I didn’t see some of the parts coming, and I’m pretty sure my jaw literally dropped a few times. I really enjoyed seeing Scotty and his friends, and the other students, band together to try and survive. It was interesting to see how what starts as a sort of fun adventure quickly becomes a fight to figure out the nest way to stay worm, stay fed and make it home. It was also interesting to see who emerged as the leader, and who felt up to trying take a risk and make a big move to get everyone rescued. It didn’t end how I expected it too. In fact it ends a little bit in the dark. You have an idea what will happen next, but Northrop leaves it up to the reader to decide, to imagine what life is like in the next day or week, or as school starts up again.

This was a really well written book that sticks with you after you close the last page. It is a great read and I recommend everyone go out and grab it!


Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Top Ten Tuesday

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted at Broke and Bookish Here is what they have to say: Top Ten Tuesday is an original feature/weekly meme created here at The Broke and the Bookish. This meme was created because we are particularly fond of lists here at The Broke and the Bookish. We'd love to share our lists with other bookish folks and would LOVE to see your top ten lists!

Each week we will post a new Top Ten list complete with one of our bloggers answers. Everyone is welcome to join. All we ask is that you link back to The Broke and the Bookish on your own Top Ten Tuesday post AND sign Mister Linky at the bottom to share with us and all those who are participating. If you don't have a blog, just post your answers as a comment. Don't worry if you can't come up with ten every time..just post what you can!

I'm a day late with this- I'm going to blame it on daylight savings because I definitly, right until Survivor came on tonight, thought it was Tuesday. Way to go me. Anywho, this week's top ten is all about what characters you would want as family members.

1. Elizabeth Bennet from Pride & Prejudice- technically I want to be Elizabeth Bennet, but if I can't have that I'd want Lizzie as my sister and partner in crime.

2. Mr. Bennet from Pride & Prejudice- I'd like to throw most of the Bennets in the lake, but Mr. Bennet is fabulous. If I couldn't have my own Dad then I'd want Mr. Bennet.

3. Jacob from Twilight- Yes. Jacob. Prior to Breaking Dawn Jacob is awesome. I don't want him to imprint on me (although maybe one of those other wolves...) but I do want Jacob as my brother. He rides motorcycles, jumps off cliff and is generally up for anything. If my new sister Lizzie and I want to get into trouble I guarentee Jacob would cover for us or join in the mischief!

4. Mrs. Weasley from Harry Potter- I want to be a Weasley. I want both the Weasleys as parents, but since I already claimed Mr. Bennet as my new Dad I'll settle for just Mrs. Weasley as my Mom. She is fabulous and loyal and generally an awesome mom.

5. Luna Lovegood from Harry Potter- I would pretty much adopt most of the cast of characters from Harry Potter is a could, but I would LOVE Luna as a little sister. She's unique and independent and ready to defend her friends and family. Every family needs a Luna.

6. Basil from Griffin Rising- He'd make a pretty awesome Dad, but I'm going to claim Basil for my uncle. He's so understanding and ready to defend what he thinks is right. he's the guy you want on your side when things start to go wrong.

7. Junior from The Absolutely True Diary of a Part Time Indian- I want him as a younger brother, or a cousin, or something. He is so funny and honest and inspiring. He would definitly be ready to get into trouble with the rest of us!

8. Westley from The Princess Bride- Westley could be many things, but I want him as my husband. Sure there are a lot of other sexy literary guys out there, but Westley is funny and witty and ready to save his princess. Plus he wears a mask and really knows how to use his...sword.

9. Pippi Longstocking- Apparently Mr. Bennet and Mrs. Weasley have been busy (not really out of character) because I'm creating quite the family for them. I'd totally take Pippi as a sister too!

10. Sam from Shiver- Every family needs a pet dog, right? ;)

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Review: Timeless by Alexandra Monir

By: Alexandra Monir
Release Date: January 11, 2011
Publisher: Delacorte Books for Young Readers
Author Website
Debut Author Challange Book

When tragedy strikes Michele Windsor’s world, she is forced to uproot her life and move across the country to New York City, to live with the wealthy, aristocratic grandparents she’s never met. In their old Fifth Avenue mansion filled with a century’s worth of family secrets, Michele discovers a diary that hurtles her back in time to the year 1910. There, in the midst of the glamorous Gilded Age, Michele meets the young man with striking blue eyes who has haunted her dreams all her life – a man she always wished was real, but never imagined could actually exist. And she finds herself falling for him, into an otherworldly, time-crossed romance.

Michele is soon leading a double life, struggling to balance her contemporary high school world with her escapes into the past. But when she stumbles upon a terrible discovery, she is propelled on a race through history to save the boy she loves – a quest that will determine the fate of both of their lives. (from

This was a tricky book for me. I liked it, then I didn't, then I loved what was going on, then I was rolling my eyes, then I was down with it again, and then I was frustrated. Timeless had a lot of really great parts, wonderful detail a story line that was both classic and original, there were just a few things that irked me. I'll start with the bits that bothered me and then end on a high note with all that was wonderful about this book. So lets get to it.

Two main things bugged me. this book is about time travel, which is generally very cool. I'll get into the way it was handled in a minute (it was pretty cool), but the language that was used during the actually moments of time travel drove me nuts. Overall the writing is good, the descriptions of the places and people are spot on, but the moments when Michele actually travels through time felt off. It almost felt like a throw away- the description were short and didn't do much for me, especially when sandwiched in between really well developed worlds. It didn't ruin the book by any stretch of the imagination, but it did bring me down a bit.

The second thing that killed me was the end of the book. It's "to be continued", literally. It says that. It was so not neccessary in my opinion. The suspense of the moment that occurs right before that is enough. It lets you know that there is more to this story. Even if there was never another book, it lets you know that this story will carry on for Michele. It was a pretty perfect moment, and then, "to be continued". Three little words that totally sunk the end of the book for me. I may be alone in this- I know I stand on my own island on the topic of Epilogues (HATE THEM)- so this might work for other readers, it just felt like a let down to me.

Alright- 2 small things that I didn't like. Done. Onto the stuff I loved, and there was quite a bit of it. Michele is a pretty great character. She's tough, she's resiliant and she's open minded. She knows what she wants and she's no concerned too much with what those around her think about her. Great, great character. Add to that the introduction of a succession of her Windsor relatives who she visits and you begin to see a long line of independant girls who are worthy of being role models. Despite the assertion that the Windsors are an upper class family and must meet a certain standard, it was refreshing to see that despite the contraints of mulitple eras the Wondsor girls manage to still maintain their own personalities.

It was also really interesting to see Michele grieve for the loss of her mother while trying to adjust to a whole new world in New York City. He grandparents are somewhat stand offish, but they are there for her nonetheless. As the story unfolds and we see who Michele visits in the past and who else may have the ability to travel through time, I was left wondering how much the Grandparents knew or understood. It seems like Michele's mother knew quite a bit, so it will be interesting to see how that part of the story unfolds in the next book.

Of course there is a love interest here- and while it's a good story, about how she manages to help Philip during her foray into NYC of the past, I didn't feel like it was the story. There was so much more going on for Michele and even though this relationship was big for her, I think that finding Philip and then having to deal with the fact that neither truly exists in the same time as the other, was something that helped her deal with other issues, like her mother's death and the father she has never met. I'm sure that as we move into the next book we will see how the relationship plays out, but for now I'll simply say that I liked the two of them together and Philip was a great guy.

Lastly- Time itself plays a big role. I really loved seeing and hearing about the different time periods in NYC. I especially enjoyed the parts in the Cotton Club and how the streets sounded different before the car took over the road. Monir's descriptions were wonderful and those were the parts of the book that I wish lasted a little longer! The idea of time being cyclical, that it the past, present and future exist side by side and overlap is a pretty interesting concept to explore. Monir did a great job intorducing the theories without being confusing or overwhelming the reader. I'm interested in seeing how it all plays out in the next book and if we get an answer to why the Windsor family are the ones who have the ability to move back and forth.

So, bottom line, great storyline, beautiful descriptions of NYC of the past, great main character and a few moments that made me cringe. At the end of the day I really enjoyed the book and if you like time travel this is a pretty good place to look.
Music plays a pretty big role in this story and Monir has the two songs from the book available for download on her site. Theya re really beautiful songs and Monir is a beautiful singer.


Saturday, March 12, 2011

In My Mailbox

In My Mailbox is a weekly meme hosted by The Story Siren. The idea is to share what books you got your hands on in the last week.

I got in a lot of books this week- 8 to be exact. Most from the Library, but there is one win, one review and one from the fabulous Donna at EFG. Thank goodness Spring Break is coming up so I can read without the interuption of silly things like homework!

The Temptress by Jude Deveraux: I've said it a few times now, I'm addicted to Deveraux books, and I'm working my way through the Montgomery books right now. So far I think this one may be my favorite.

Dark Oracle by Alayna Williams: a few weeks ago I the book Rogue Oracle in from Donna and discovered it was a sequel, so I grabbed this one up from the library so I can read them in order!

Fall for Anything by Courtney Summers: this book is about a girl named Eddie who is dealing with the suicide of her father and the mystery that surrounds it. This book also counts for the YA Contemps Challenge for those of you who are participating in that.

So Shelly by Ty Roth: This book struck me as very intriguing. It follows two schoolmates as they take their mutual friend, Shelly's, ashes to a small island in Lake Erie (per her wishes). Roth uses poets like Keats, Byron and Shelly as inspiration for the modern day high school students, and I'm really interested in seeing how that plays out. This is a Debut Author Challenge Book.

The Knife of Never Letting Go by Patrick Ness: This is a Dystopian I stumbled upon when a prequel short story came up for free on my Nook. That little taste left me wanting to know more!

Timeless by Alexandra Monir: This book is about a teenager who has her whole life flipped upside when she is forced to move in with her grandparents, The Windsor, across the country. She soon finds that Time moves differently for her family as she is plunged into the past to find her soul mate. This is also a Debut Author Challenge book.

From Donna:
Tiger's Curse by Colleen Houck: This is another Debut Author Challenge book and it follows the sotry of a girl named Kelsey as she tries to break a 300 year old Indian curse.

Up From Slavery by Booker T. Washington: I won this book from Penguin Books during a twitter contest. Up From Slavery is Washington's autobiography.

Pride and Prejudice and Zombies: Dreadfully Ever After by Steve Hockensmith: This is a continuation of the Pride and Prejudice mashups in which we see Mr. Darcy and Elizabeth on their honeymoon, and dealing with the fact that poor Mr. Darcy has been bitten! I recieved this book from Quirk Books.

Friday, March 11, 2011

Smiling Indians and an apology for my absentee ways

So let's start off with the apology. My blogging tendecies lately have been lax. I've said before and will probably say repeatedly over the next year that I have a good reason. Namely, Grad School. There is no getting around the fact that it is a major time suck. Rightly so- I would hate to be paying a small fortune for something that didn't require some time and effort- that would seem like a waste, right?

So the reviews have been trickling in. I'm reading when I can, but the time to put together a thoughtful and intelligent review has been slim. That being said I do have some stuff on the horizon, obligations that must be filled. Reviews of Wither by Lauren DeStephano and The Fourth Stall by Chris Rylander are on the horizon and with Poetry Month looming, be ready for some of my favorites to be featured.

I also recently stumbled upon a great video. It's not directly book related but it is important. Some of you know that I have a degree in History and a deep love for all things Old West. I also did my major undergrad paper on the misrepresentation of Native American's in the media. Recently, while talking to my Graduate Advisor, she pointed me to a great blog that deals with a lot of the same issues, but as they relate to children's and YA books. Debbie Reese's American Indians in Children's Literature. It's a veritable treasure trove of information and I wish I had it as a resource 6 years ago as I worked on my paper. If you have any interest in the subject head over there- you won't be dissapointed (although you will likely lose hours as you dig through all the information!).

It also provided some great insight on a video that I've seen a few other places. Ryan Red Corn's Smiling Indians. It's a response to those photos that you see everywhere, of the stoic Indian, taken by photographer Edward Curtis. I have a book of those pictures on my shelf, nestled in between other books by the likes of Joseph Marshall III, Sherman Alexie and Russell Means. The historian in me has always taken research with a grain of salt. You can't be told to "question everything" for 4 years and not take it to heart. Who wrote the history? What were they hoping to accomplish? What was their bias? All questions I've been taught to ask of history books.

It's why I struggle to write my own books. I have set my stories in the old west. Children's books and YA alike always find their home between 1860 and 1890 somewhere west of the Misssissippi and all are lacking in Native characters. Want to know why? Because despite all my reading and researching and studying I am no expert. I don't want to offend anyone. I don't want to perpetuate those misrepresentations. I don't want to be part of that cycle. So instead I bypass them, which is just as bad. It's why I am stuck in the 40,000 words into my YA novel. The so called "Plains Indian Wars" are looming along the Bozeman trail and my characters are walking into it. This is not a story of savages and innocent white men. I want to realistically represent what happened out there, during a time when tension ran high. I'm lacking the resources to go for it at this point. I'm hopeful that once Graduate School is over I will have a little more time to persure the quality research I need to present a fair look at the time even while writing a work of fiction. Time will tell if I can do it well. I would hate to do it poorly.

So to wrap this bad boy up:
1. Sincere apologies for the sorry amount of actual blogging that's taking place here at A Reader's Ramblings. Hang in there, it will get better!
2. Check out Debbie Reese's blog American Indians in Children's Literature.
3. Watch the video and think about the images you've seen and read about.

Friday, March 4, 2011

Review: Outside In by Maria V. Snyder

Outside In
: Maria V. Snyder
Release Date: 3-1-11
Author Website

Me? A Leader? Okay, I did prove that there’s more to Inside than we knew. That a whole world exists beyond this cube we live in. And finding that led to a major rebellion – between worker scrubs like me and the snobby uppers who rule our world. Make that ruled. Because of me, we’re free. I thought that meant I was off the hook, and could go off on my own again – while still touching base with Riley, of course. He’s the one upper I think I can trust. But then we learned that there’s outside and then there is Outside. And something from Outside wants In. (from

This is the sequel to Maria V. Snyder’s Inside out, a story about a strictly divided and controlled world, and one girl’s journey to tear the walls down, between the uppers and the lowers and between the inside and the outside. We find out at the end of Inside Out that the contained world in which Trella lives is actually a ship and outside is space, so despite taking down the leading class, the Travas, they are still confined to inside.

Outside In picks up pretty much where Inside Out left off. In the aftermath of the rebellion, by the Force of Sheep (love that name), a committee has been created and they are trying to maneuver this new social structure. It’s not easy. There are hard feelings and mistrust from all fronts, and Trella is overwhelmed and doesn’t think she is up to the challenge, especially since the committee doesn’t listen to her. Pretty soon dissent among the lowers is running wild and they feel they situation hasn’t improved at all. On top of all that is going on inside, someone from the Outside wants in and they begin to take control of Inside’s computer system as they prepare to invade. Solving all these problems fills the entire book and it was interesting to see how all of the characters from Inside Out grow into their new roles in Outside In.

Trella was hard for me in this book. She came off childish and whining. She led this rebellion and then seemingly gave up because she either wasn’t up for, or simply didn’t want, the responsibility of actually creating a better world. She treats the Doctor, who is potentially her mother, like the enemy even while taking advantage of the fact that staying with the doctor provides her with a better place to stay. To say the least, I was annoyed by Trella, and I didn’t particularly like her here. By the end I realized that this was by design. I don’t think I was supposed to like her. I say this because one by one the people around her started expressing the same things I was thinking, they were as disappointed in her as I was. In the end we had the old Trella back, leading her friends against an invading force and uniting the community of Inside.

As for whom the outsiders were, well, I’m not going to give too much away. That being said, even after reading the book I wish I knew more about them. Who are they really and where did they come from? Are the Outsiders us? Are the members of Inside us? Are they all us, just spread out over space? These are all questions I was left with as the book wound towards its conclusion. I’m hoping that Snyder will revisit Trella and the rest of the Insiders and answer some of these questions.

** This review was originally written for Eve's Fan Garden. Check out EFG for more great books and an upcoming chat with Snyder! Don't forget to visit the EFG Forums to talk with other book lovers about Outside In. ***