Thursday, March 29, 2012

My Ramblings on Everything I Was by Corinne Demas

Everything I Was
By: Corinne Demas
Release Date: April 1, 2011
Author Website


"My walls were stripped, and all that was left in the room was a pile of boxes and my mattress propped against the wall."

So begins Irene's journey from an Upper West Side penthouse to—well, she's not entirely sure where. Irene's investment banker father is "downsized" when his company merges with another. When he can't find work, her family's lifestyle—and her socialite mother's spending—quickly catches up with them. Eventually, they're forced to move in with Irene's grandfather in the big family farmhouse upstate. But what begins as the most disastrous summer of her life takes a surprising turn when she meets a most remarkable family. (

My Ramblings:
This was a really good read. It was fairly short (I plowed through it in a few hours) and written in a way that made it really flow off the page. Like many YA books, this is a coming of age story mixed with a little bit of fish-out of water drama. What I really liked was that it dealt with real issues. At its heart is Irene a young girl whose family lost everything when her father lost his job. With nowhere else to turn they head to her grandfather’s farm upstate. 

I kind of love this family. Especially Grandpa- he wants what's best for his son and especially what's best for Irene. He's willing to give them a place in his home despite the fact that he's not so enamored with Irene's mother. Not only is Irene adjusting to this new life, which is supposed to only last the summer, but we also see her whole family trying to get their bearings. Her father seems pretty content to be back on the farm, but her mother is still living in a world of denial, and she's pretty sure life will be right back to normal in no time, and until then she's operating in "fake it til' you make it mode". It makes for some uncomfortable, but totally realistic moments. 

I also really love that Irene meets up with the neighborhood kids and finds herself fitting in better then she could have imagined. Soccer in the yard, bike rides, canoeing in the lake- it was a nice introduction for Irene into small town living. In the end Irene has to decide what she really wants and how to get it. I really enjoyed seeing her go from city girl to small town gal over the course of the book. You turn the last page knowing that everyone is going to be all right!

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

My Ramblings on Sherman Alexie and a tease for World Book Night.

Sherman Alexie Lecture

Rita Crayon Huang, Copyright ©2009, SCBWI
used under a cc license from
This is NOT the event I was at, I was way
too far away to get pictures, but I can tell
what story he is telling and it was hysterical! 
Last night I went to an event hosted by our local library system. The Rosamond Gifford Lecture Series brings in about 6 authors a year to speak to the public, good authors, but usually not up my alley. Except this one. When they announced the speakers last year I zeroed right in on Sherman Alexie's name. He has long been one of my favorite authors. From his poetry to The Lone Ranger and Tonto Fist-Fight in Heaven. From the movie Smoke Signals to my all time favorite book The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian, his books and writing have been a part of my life. In fact way back when this blog first started in September of 2009, Diary was the first book I rambled on about. 313 posts later it's still my favorite book.    So to get the chance to see him speak was a chance of a lifetime. It. Was. Awesome. I won't lie, I was slightly fan-girly about the whole thing, and I was way up in the nosebleeds. I can't imagine what I would have been like if I was up close!

I had never been to a Lecture Series event before, so I wasn't entirely sure the format or what to expect. What I got was essentially a hour long stand up routine that mixed social commentary and politics with heartfelt stories and gutter level humor. I literally laughed so hard that I was tearing up. All of Alexie's books and poems are part of who he is and tell personal stories, but his presentation most closely aligned with Diary. That brand of honest humor and self-deprecation was front and center. He managed to crack jokes about everyone in the room, himself included (and his dead father) while still getting a larger message across. I'd love to share some of the jokes, but I can remember an entire one that wouldn't put my blog on the restricted list. As a fan of gutter humor, this was right up my alley. It was never offensive, just funny. 

For me, as a school librarian, the message was this. You have to give kids a chance to make their own way, to follow their dreams and to succeed even amid struggles and failures. That's essentially the story of his life. A series of hurdles to leap over, of hardships to overcome. He definitely had some setbacks, but this lecture focused mostly on how and why he was able to succeed. He did it with determination, a positive outlook and a lot of humor. It's a pretty great story and I'm really glad I got the chance to see him speak live. I'd go again in a heartbeat. 


In related news I'm participating in World Book Night this year. If you haven't heard of this event it goes down like this. Book lovers everywhere sign up to receive 20 books and pledge to give them away to someone or someplace deserving, who might not have access otherwise. World Book Night provides a list of available choices, you choose the one you want to feature and at the end of April you pick them up and start handing them out. The list had some great choices on it including some of my favorites like Peace Like a River, Because of Winn Dixie and The Hunger Games. It also had The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian. I give this book to everyone on holidays, I love it that much, so there was never really a doubt which one I would pick. I was stoked when I got my acceptance letter and the confirmation that in a few short weeks a pile of my favorite book would be ready for me to pick up and hand out. I've got a list of places I'm going to drop them, The Little Free Library and a few after school/community programs. It should be a lot of fun! 

Saturday, March 24, 2012

My Ramblings on Dead to You by Lisa McMann

Dead to You
By: Lisa McMann
Release Date: February 7, 2012
Author Website

Ethan was abducted from his front yard when he was just seven years old. Now, at sixteen, he has returned to his family. It's a miracle... at first. Then the tensions start to build. His reintroduction to his old life isn't going smoothly, and his family is tearing apart all over again. If only Ethan could remember something, anything, about his life before, he'd be able to put the pieces back together. But there's something that's keeping his memory blocked. Something unspeakable... (

My Ramblings:
I love Lisa McMann. I love her books. I get a lot of eBooks instead of paperbacks now, but for books I know I'm going to like I just buy, so I can have them on shelf. Obviously I bought this book. Hardcover even. That's how confident I was that I was going to love this book. I was right, this book is made of awesome. Except the end, which I hated. But I'm getting ahead of myself. 

So this book takes a look at what it's like when a child returns home after being abducted. In this case it's Ethan. He was taken at age 6 from his front sidewalk where he was playing with his younger brother Blake. He doesn't remember much from his life before abduction, and he has mixed memories of his time with his abductor Ellen. Understandably he also has mixed feelings towards her. Does he love her or hate her? Can he understand why she abandoned him at a group home (from which he ran away)? The story starts as Ethan returns home having found his family through the internet. Obviously this isn't an easy transition, especially for Blake. What follows is a look at the fallout. Pent up and deep buried emotions come out and everyone is trying to figure out their place in this new family unit. 

This is going to be a super short post because I don't want to give anything away- but needless to say everything is not what it seems. I had an idea how it was going to end and I was fairly correct, but the way McMann ended it, the way it leaves you mid scene, wanting to know what happens next was totally surprising. I hate the ending for the best reasons possible. It worked on so many levels, except the one that gave me all the answers I was looking for. Think the ending of The Sopranos... something is about to happen and then black. That's how I felt here. I was totally annoyed that I wasn't going to get the answers I wanted right then and there, but the more I thought about it the more it all made sense. So basically it was a spot on ending that made me mad!

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Judging a Book by it's Cover

I love book covers. Most of the time it's what draws me in and makes me buy a book. I love to browse covers in the store or even online. In the last few months I've seen some amazing covers. One thing I always find interesting is when covers change. Sometimes it's because the book was an ARC and the final cover is something different, other times its a hardcover to paperback things, and sometimes the books just needs a change. In the last few months there were a few books I grabbed because of the stellar cover and then, when I went to do my review, I noticed that there was a new cover for the book... a cover I didn't love so much. A cover I probably never would have picked up.

The first one was The Way We Fall by Megan Crewe. I picked the ARC up at NCTE and loved the cover. Something about the black and white tones really did it for me. I wanted to know more. I love how the cover of the one I bought can be looked at in two ways. Up right and then also sideways, almost like she is laying in the forest. The was something that seemed secretive about it. When the final copy came out recently it was something totally different. Still cool. Definitely still represents the story. It just doesn't catch my eye in the same way. It doesn't capture my attention. In fact the yellow was even a bit jarring, pushing me away more then pulling me in. 

Everything I Was by Corinne Demas is the other one. I picked up the paperback at the store the other day. I love the look of the cover. It reminds me of being a kid. Riding my bike everywhere (back when I could still ride a bike). Summer days, empty fields, fresh air. I loved it all and grabbed it up without even thinking. The other cover though. I recognized the other cover. I've seen it before. Many times. I've passed it over time and time again without giving it a second glance. There's nothing inherently wrong with the other cover, but it gives off a completely different vibe for me. Something creepier. It's actually a bit of a turn off for me. The first cover is everything I love, the second cover didn't get me excited at all.

It's funny how much that cover can do. Both books were great, but I probably never would have read them if I hadn't seen the cover I did. Do you have any books like that, where the cover plays such a bog role in your reading the book?

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

My Ramblings on Drowning Instinct by Ilsa J. Bick

Drowning Instinct
By: Ilsa J. Bick
Release Date: February 1, 2012
Author Website

There are stories where the girl gets her prince, and they live happily ever after. (This is not one of those stories.)

Jenna Lord's first sixteen years were not exactly a fairytale. Her father is a controlling psycho and her mother is a drunk. She used to count on her older brother—until he shipped off to Afghanistan. And then, of course, there was the time she almost died in a fire.

There are stories where the monster gets the girl, and we all shed tears for his innocent victim. (This is not one of those stories either.)

Mitch Anderson is many things: A dedicated teacher and coach. A caring husband. A man with a certain...magnetism.

And there are stories where it's hard to be sure who's a prince and who's a monster, who is a victim and who should live happily ever after. (These are the most interesting stories of all.)

Drowning Instinct is a novel of pain, deception, desperation, and love against the odds—and the rules. (from

My Ramblings:
This book is screwed up. And I mean that is the best possible way. It's was hard to read, parts were cringe worthy, and by the end I wasn't sure what to think of these characters. In other words, this book was realistic and makes you look at some of the worst parts of humanity. Things that happen all the time. Things we wish didn't happen, but they do. Things that we sometimes try to sweep under the rug, but turning a blind eye doesn't mean they don't happen.

Jenna is a very complex character. She has a horrible home life, she's had a rough time since the word go and she is still trying to get it right against all odds. She's trying to be normal, but her past has left such wounds on her that she doesn't know how to do that. When she connects to her teacher, Mitch Anderson, she finally thinks she has found someone who gets her, who sees her as a person instead of the series of horrible moments that are her life story. The thing is that you see what path these two are on before they do. You want to scream at her to get away, to see a counselor, to find another way to fill the void, but you know she won't. He is there for her when no one else is, so it's almost inevitable that things end the way they do. And you want to hate the guy, but Bick writes him in a way that allows for some sympathy to creep in. Absolutely he is a predator, he looks for young girls who need him and he plays to that need. These are the cringe worthy parts. however, they way he is shown allows you to see why he is that way, the things in his past that drove him to be that way. You get a sense that he isn't trying to prey on young girls as much as he is trying to fill a void too. I wanted to scream at him the same things I wanted to scream at Jenna. I wanted him to get away, see a counselor and find another way to fill the void. The whole situation was sad. And that's what made this a great book.

This is a great read. It's uncomfortable and you'll probably want to put it down, but it's a reminder that bad things happen every day to kids. Turning a blind eye (or putting the book down) doesn't help anyone.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

My Ramblings on Spoiled by Heather Cocks and Jessica Morgan

By: Heather Cocks and Jessica Morgan
Release Date:  June 1, 2011


16-year-old Molly Dix loves her ordinary life in suburban Indiana, so when her single mother passes away, she is shocked to discover that her biological father is Brick Berlin, world famous movie star and red carpet regular.

Equally intrigued and terrified by her Hollywood lineage, Molly moves to Southern California and plunges head-first into the deep end of Beverly Hills celebrity life. Just as Molly thinks her new life and family couldn't get any stranger, she meets Brooke Berlin, her gorgeous and spoiled half-sister whom welcomes Molly to la-la land with a healthy dose of passive-aggressive "sisterly love."

Set against the backdrop of a sparkling and fashion-filled Los Angeles, this deliciously dysfunctional family soap opera will satisfy every reader looking for their next lifestyles-of-the-rich-and-famous beach read.

My Ramblings:
I love this book. So much. If you are a fan of Cocks and Morgan's webpage Go Fug Yourself, or watch Gossip Girl, or 90210 (original flavor) then you will probably love this book too. It's everything a fish out of water story should be. Sad midwestern girl moves to California to stay with a movie star father she didn't know she had. Mean girls half-sister pretending to be besties. Horribly stuck up new classmates and of course a few welcoming faces who may or may not be using you. It's fabulous. 

The book is written with the same snark level as GFY, so it moves quickly and contains a ton of pop-culture references- which can sometimes date a book as time goes on, but with a book like this that is a plus. It's like a little snap shot of all the absurdity surrounding the Hollywood lifestyle and how out of place a midwesterner would be if they were tossed into the pit with the vipers. 

It's a quick and easy read and of course has a happy ending, but there is room for more. Messy, the sequel is coming out in the not so distant future (June 2012), and it will be fun to revisit Molly and Brooke and see where life has taken them now that they are embracing sisterhood!

Friday, March 9, 2012

My Ramblings on Rock on by Denise Vega

Rock on 
By: Denise Vega
Release Date: March 5, 2012
Author Website

High school sophomore Ori Taylor, lead singer, guitarist, and songwriter in a nameless rock band, has always been known as the overlooked younger brother of Del, a high school sports star. But when Del suddenly returns home from college just as Ori is starting to gain some confidence in himself, Del expects everything to return to the way it used to be. (

My Ramblings:
This is such a fun book. I always enjoy books that are all about music, and this was no exception. What I really liked was that this was really more about the music and the band and took a nice hard look at the family dynamics at play in Ori's life. Ori has always been best buddies with his older brother Del, who was basically big man on campus. Now Del is back from a failed stint at college and he's a completely different person. It was really interesting to see how Ori is affected by his brother's actions and attitude. I think we all know someone who goes from being a big fish in a small pond to being a small fish in a big pond, and that's really what Del is, and he can't handle it. It seemed to me that once he got home he decided that the best way to make himself look better was to make Ori look bad, and we see the fallout from that.

Ori's band is pretty awesome as well and I especially liked the little bits that were excerpts from the band website and blog. It was an interesting way to break up the story and share information about the band and it's members that didn't flow with the regular narrative. The characters were fun and believable and I loved the way that it was all building up to something big, The Battle of the Bands. It was a bit predictable that they would come out on top, but there were enough things thrown in their way to keep it really interesting.

Overall this was a really fun book and I'd recommend it to just about everyone, especially if you love music!

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

My Ramblings on Shadow Falls 1 & 2 by CC Hunter

I'm posting on both of these books together because I read them back to back (in one day) so I figured one post would work too!

Born at Midnight
By: CC Hunter
Release Date: March 29, 2011
Author Website


One night Kylie Galen finds herself at the wrong party, with the wrong people, and it changes her life forever. Her mother ships her off to Shadow Falls—a camp for troubled teens, and within hours of arriving, it becomes painfully clear that her fellow campers aren’t just “troubled.” Here at Shadow Falls, vampires, werewolves, shapeshifters, witches and fairies train side by side—learning to harness their powers, control their magic and live in the normal world.

Kylie’s never felt normal, but surely she doesn’t belong here with a bunch of paranormal freaks either. Or does she? They insist Kylie is one of them, and that she was brought here for a reason. As if life wasn’t complicated enough, enter Derek and Lucas. Derek’s a half-fae who’s determined to be her boyfriend, and Lucas is a smokin’ hot werewolf with whom Kylie shares a secret past. Both Derek and Lucas couldn’t be more different, but they both have a powerful hold on her heart.

Even though Kylie feels deeply uncertain about everything, one thing is becoming painfully clear—Shadow Falls is exactly where she belongs…

Awake at Dawn
Release Date: October 11, 2011


Now that she’s settled in at Shadow Falls Camp, Kylie Galen’s determined to discover the extent of her supernatural abilities. But with a ghost insisting someone Kylie loves is about die, a rogue vampire on a murdering rampage, and her sixth sense telling her someone is watching her, Kylie’s quest for answers is quickly put on hold.

To make matters worse, just when she’s about to give her heart to Derek, a half-fairy, he starts pulling away. When Lucas, a werewolf with whom Kylie shares a secret past, returns, Kylie’s feels more conflicted than ever. Her weekend with her mom should have been the just the break Kylie needs, but it turns out to be her breaking point. Someone from the dark side of the supernatural world has plans for Kylie--and it'll take all her resources to get back to Shadow Falls alive...

My Ramblings:
So here's the deal on these books. They are addicting. I had never heard of them before and then 2 days ago a friend posted a link on facebook letting everyone know that the first book was only $2.99 for Nook or Kindle (that's still the price, so get on it). I'm always looking for a new series to read, so I figured I'd give it a try. I devoured it in just about 2 hours. Then I went right back online and grabbed the sequel (a little more expensive at $9.99, but still worth it). I blew through that one in about the same amount of time. Then I had a pity party for myself b/c the 3rd book, Taken at Dusk, isn't out yet. Then I realized it was okay, because it comes out April 10th and that's only a month away. Thank goodness I don't have to wait that long! So basically this series monopolized my entire day. And it was awesome. 

So, about the books. I'm going to mush the reviews together her because the second book really is a seamless continuation of the first. At the heart of the story is Kylie, a girl who is pretty much having the worst few months of her life. Her boyfriend dumps her because she won't put out, her Grandmother dies and then her parents divorce. On top of that she seeing ghosts. Her parents think she's lost her mind and she is promptly shipped off to Shadow Falls, a camp for delinquent kids. Only Shadow Falls isn't all it seems. In fact  Shadow Falls is a camp for supernatural kids of all types. Which is the things I loved the most about this series. You have a bit of everything here, vampires, werewolves, shifters and Fae, all trying to navigate the joys of summer camp. For Kylie she has to add in the fact that she doesn't even know what kind of supe she is (or if she really is one). 

In each book Kylie has to solve a mystery surrounding the ghost that has attached itself to her. In the first book the ghost has a very personal message for her. In the second the message pertains to someone she loves. In both cases Kylie must figure it out in order to find out something more about herself and her abilities. Both mysteries are written very well. In the first I had no idea who the ghost, named Daniel, was or what he was trying to tell her. In the second book I had an idea of who the ghost was and I was pretty sure I knew what the message was, but in the end I was only partially right. In both cases Hunter kept me guessing right to the end, which is always fun!

Lastly I want to mention all the secondary characters. They are awesome. Each one has a place. Kylie's roommates Della (vampire) and Miranda (witch) provide a lot of the comic relief with their constant bickering. Despite their catty attitudes they are also extremely loyal, and that's always good to see. Perry (shifter) is also hysterical, especially when he uses his abilities to get close (in more ways then one) to the girls. The camp leaders are perfect as well, they are great role models and you can tell they are really there for the campers. They also aren't one dimensional, which I appreciate. They have their own lives and we get glimpses into their personal lives and relationships, which makes it easier to relate to them. Kylie's parents are, well, parents. They mess up. A lot. Kylie doesn't get why they are acting the way they are, which is pretty standard when it comes to kids and divorce. As their relationships shift, we get glimpses into why their marriage fell apart and what that means for Kylie. 

In other words this is a great series. If you like paranormal stories, this is a great one!

Ps. I want this series to be a tv show very, very badly. The way it's written would make for a very fun tv show. All those supes, all that mystery and that romance, action and humor. It's basically everything I love mushed into one and I think it would work great week to week. 

Monday, March 5, 2012

My Ramblings on Girls Don't Fly by Kristen Chandler

Girls Don't Fly
By: Kristen Chandler
Release Date: October 13, 2011
Author Website

Myra is used to keeping her feet firmly on the ground. She's got four younger brothers, overworked parents, and a pregnant older sister, and if Myra wasn't there to take care of everyone, they'd probably fall apart. But when her boyfriend unceremoniously dumps her, Myra feels like she's lost her footing. Suddenly she's doing things she never would've a few months earlier: quitting her job, applying for a scholarship to study birds in the Galapogos, and falling for a guy who's encouraging her to leap from her old life . . . and fly. (from

My Ramblings:
I really enjoyed this book! I've been a fan of Chandlers since I read her book Wolves, Boys and Other Things that Might Kill Me last summer, so when a friend sent me a copy of this book (it's signed!! Thanks Amy!)I was really excited to dive in. It was such a great read. What I really like about this book is that Myra is very easy to relate too. I'm from a small town and I know how hard it is to step outside of that box and do something different and exciting, so it was fun to see Myra try to figure out how to take that step. 

He ex-boyfriend Erik makes the perfect bad guy. He's not a horrible person, but he makes a great catalyst for Myra not only wanting a change, but needing one and having the guts to go for it. He reminded me of the guy that is big man on campus in high school, but who can see that his time is short. On the other Pete is the perfect good guy. He's not pushy in terms of trying to get Myra to apply for the program in the Galapagos, but he also tells her like it is, which is something she really needs. 

This was a great coming of age story that anyone who has ever wanted to leave their old life behind will connect to. By the end you might just be convinced to take a leap and fly too. 

Thursday, March 1, 2012

My Ramblings on Griffin's Fire by Darby Karchut

Griffin's Fire
By: Darby Karchut
Release Date: April 2012
Author Website


For centuries, there have been rumors about a lowly caste of supernatural beings known as the Terrae Angeli. Armed with the power to control Earth, Fire, Wind and Water, these warriors and their apprentices clandestinely serve as guardians for humans in danger.

Forced to become mortal, ex-teen angel Griffin has been banished from the Terrae Angeli. Struggling to adjust, he enrolls in the heaven-and-hell known as high school. In spite of his friends’ support, Centennial High proves to be a battleground, complete with a malicious math teacher. 

And to make matters worse, his Mentor, Basil, has been ordered to take on a new apprentice, the gifted and egotistical seventeen-year-old Sergei, whose covert attacks make Griffin’s home life as bleak as a Siberian winter.

Caught between school, Sergei, and a desperate secret, Griffin is certain of one thing: the only way to fight a Cold War is with Fire. (from

My Ramblings:
First of all- I love these books. I read book number one, Griffin's Rising last year (review) and immediately was drawn into not only the story, but the relationships. I was stoked when Darby sent over an advanced copy of Griffin's Fire, because I wanted to know what would happen to Griffin now that his identity has essentially been taken away from him. What will he do know that he is no longer an angel? 

What I liked about this story is that it jumped right back in seamlessly. I was instantly back into the story and the relationships and there was no confusion or trying to remember what had happened, despite the fact that I haven't picked up Griffin's Rising in almost a year. We find Griffin trying to deal with his new found mortality, and he's doing it with all the grace and maturity expected of a 16 year old boy, in other words, he's miserable and he's making sure everyone else knows it. More interestingly we see how Griffin's new status (and mood) are affecting those around him through journal entries. We see Basil trying to raise a happy teenager instead of an angel in training and we see Katie trying to be a good friend and help Griffin deal without putting on too much pressure. It's the relationships that really make this story special. 

I went on a tangent with my first Griffin review, but it bears repeating again here. I find the characters in this book refreshing. They all have issues, but their issues are realistic. Basil and Griffin don't always get along, but they love each other and at the end of the day Griffin knows that Basil will always have his back, even when he does monumentally stupid things and make horrible decisions. Griffin might second guess it, but Basil never does (and therefore neither do we). The same with Katie's family. They are well adjusted and accepting. They are the kinds of friends Griffin needs, and again, even when things go bad (like when you find a 16 year old boy asleep in your daughters bed), they manage to be both responsible parents and understanding to what Griffin is going through. I like seeing all the healthy relationships in these books. Sure there are bad guys, but the good guys win by working together and trusting each other, something that I think is missing in other books. Plus I love good parental units. Not every main character needs to be struggling against his parents, and Basil is a great parent. 

Now, besides the great relationships, we also get a really good story. Nicopolis is still out there, but we see the truth come out, and there is a backlash of sorts against the punishment that was dealt out to Griffin. They regret taking his angel status away, and even though it can't be reversed, they are doing all they can to bring Nicopolis to justice. The bad guy in this story is less of an actual monster and more of Griffin struggling against himself. Sergei, Basil's new Tiro is there to turn the screws and make Griffin doubt himself, but he is more of a classic bully then an actual evil guy. It was really interesting watching Griffin navigate real teenagedom (like high school...shudder) while still having one foot in the world of angels. 

It all wraps up nicely in the end, but there is still a hint at what might be to come. Griffin is more secure in himself and has made a wider circle of friends (I particularly like Cas and his family) and is coming to terms with who and what he is, and who and what he could be. Plus, Nicopolis is still on the periphery and I think that before all is said and done we will see that relationship come to a head with exciting and possibly devastating results. I, for one, can't wait!