Friday, December 20, 2013

BIR 2013: The Fourth Stall III by Chris Rylander

Best I've Read 2013 is coming to an end, and for the last day I'm featuring the third book in one of my favorite series. The Fourth Stall III by Chris Rylander. What I love about these books is that they are written for Middle Schoolers, but the humor and storytelling is just as fitting for an adult. Who doesn't want to read about the life and times of a middle school bookie doing business out of an abandoned bathroom at school. That sentence alone should be enough to get you to pick them up!

Back in April when I reviewed the book I said that I missed these characters. Like really missed them! With everything else I read it's sometimes hard to remember how fun and easy reading can be. This book, this whole series is just fun to read. I read it and I nod along and giggle and wink back when the story winks- I love that Rylander has his characters acknowledge the Godfather connections, the silliness that is Scarface and the undying love that fans have for the Cubs and it's true. These books make you feel like you know the characters and you miss them when you aren't reading about them and the minute you dive into one of the books it feel a little bit like saying hello to old friends. That's really how all the best books should make you feel!

For more about Chris Rylander and the Fourth Stall check out his awesome website.

I hope everyone enjoyed BIR 2013. Check out all the other blogs at the Best I've Read website.

Thursday, December 19, 2013

BIR 2013: Revenge of the Girl with the Great Personality by Elizabeth Eulberg

We are getting close to the end of Best I've Read 2013 and today I'm excited to be sharing a great book from one of my all time favorite authors, Elizabeth Eulberg. This book is so much fun and, as with all of Eulberg's books, is full of humor and heart. What I alwasy love about Eulberg's books is that the main characters are believable. They are girls struggling with who they are and who they want to be and over the course of the book you see them make mistakes, get stronger and become amazing young women. Plus, the books are just plain fun!

Don't mess with a girl with a Great Personality. Everybody loves Lexi. She's popular, smart, funny...but she's never been one of those girls, the pretty ones who get all the attention from guys. And on top of that, her seven-year-old sister, Mackenzie, is a terror in a tiara, and part of a pageant scene where she gets praised for her beauty (with the help of fake hair and tons of makeup). Lexi's sick of it. She's sick of being the girl who hears about kisses instead of getting them. She's sick of being ignored by her longtime crush, Logan. She's sick of being taken for granted by her pageant-obsessed mom. And she's sick of having all her family's money wasted on a phony pursuit of perfection. The time has come for Lexi to step out from the sidelines. Girls without great personalities aren't going to know what hit them. Because Lexi's going to play the beauty game - and she's in it to win it. (from

For more about Eulberg check out her website

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

BIR 2013: Monsters by Ilsa J. Bick

It's day three of Best I've Read 2013 and it's only fitting that this book is the last in a trilogy. I initially reviewed this book for Eve's Fan Garden in October, and because I hadn't read the first 2 books the publisher was nice enough to send me hard copies of all three books in the Ashes Trilogy. It was an amazing and difficult trilogy to plow through. I had to take several breaks because there was just so much happening and it was hard to take all of it in. In fact when I first reviewed Monsters I said: 

"There is so much emotion packed into these books that I needed a mental break. I was hurting for the characters by the end of Shadows and while I wanted to know how it would all turn out, I was afraid to move forward. This is mostly because Bick does the one think that I appreciate in a good book for then anything. She doesn't sugar coat or hide the bad things in life. And when the world is falling apart there are a lot of bad people and bad things are happening. Good people are left with choices that may lead them to do things they otherwise wouldn't, to turn a blind eye when others are in pain and to choose their own life over the good of many others. Bick shows us all of that, and it's painful and hearth breaking and in the very end it's finally hopeful."

I still feel that way about this entire series. Bick is an extremely honest writer, and in this books, as in her others I would squirm in my seat and mutter to myself as I read  because the story was so real and at times uncomfortable that is was hard NOT to have a physical reaction! And the characters were so easy to love, which made it very easy to get drawn into the story.  

This is a really fantastic trilogy and I'm glad I was able to read them all!

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

BIR 2013: Reality Boy by A.S. King

Yesterday I featured Hysteria by Megan Miranda, which was one of the first books I read in 2013. Today I'm featuring and reviewing the last book I read, Reality Boy by A.S. King. I read a lot of books on my iPad, but there are a few authors that I buy their books hardbound. They simply demand to be on shelf. A lot of those authors are the first YA authors I discovered a few year ago when I started reading a lot, and A.S. King is one of those authors. So when Reality Boy came out I had to grab it up and dive in.

My Ramblings:
This story centers around a teenager named Gerald, who when he was 5, was thrust into the spot light on a Super Nanny style show. King does an amazing job weaving the story in a way that you see Gerald's entire life unfolding- from his time on the show to the present day as he tries to escape his past. All the while we find out more and more about why Gerald is the way he is, and that what you see in front of the camera isn't the whole truth, or even the truth at all. We see Gerald at his absolute worst as he tries to come to terms with who he is and who he wants to be. He struggles mightily and doubts that he has it in him to become more then the little boy in front of the camera. Yet, through it all King manages to keep a clear thread of hope, that there is more out there for Gerald if he can just figure out how to get it.

I kept wavering on how I wanted this story to end, what I wanted for Gerald and what I wanted to happen to the people who made him who he is. In the end King tied it all up in a satisfying ending. Gerald isn't perfect, his life isn't perfect, but as you close the book you get the sense that he will be okay.

Gerald Faust knows exactly when he started feeling angry: the day his mother invited a reality television crew into his five-year-old life. Twelve years later, he’s still haunted by his rage-filled youth—which the entire world got to watch from every imaginable angle—and his anger issues have resulted in violent outbursts, zero friends, and clueless adults dumping him in the special education room at school.

Nothing is ever going to change. No one cares that he’s tried to learn to control himself, and the girl he likes has no idea who he really is. Everyone’s just waiting for him to snap…and he’s starting to feel dangerously close to doing just that.
In this fearless portrayal of a boy on the edge, highly acclaimed Printz Honor author A.S. King explores the desperate reality of a former child “star” who finally breaks free of his anger by creating possibilities he never knew he deserved. (from

For more on A.S. King and her books check out her website
And don't forget to visit the Best I've Read website to see what all the other participating blogs are up to this week. 

Monday, December 16, 2013

BIR 2013: Hysteria by Megan Miranda

It's that time of year again! Best I've Read 2013 is in full swing. It's a little smaller this year, but the participating blogs are still featuring the best of the best from this year. When I thought back to the books that stuck with the most, one of the first ones that came to mind was Hysteria by Megan Miranda. I actually read this book almost a full year ago, and it's stuck with me since then.

This book has some amazing twists and turns, and every time I thought I had it figured out or I felt the story line playing out, Miranda would mix it up and send her characters a new way. I loved that not everyone was what they seemed in this one. To see my full review check here.

Friday, October 18, 2013

My Ramblings on Annihilation of Foreverland

The Annihilation of Foreverland
By: Tony Bertauski
Release Date: December 21, 2011
Author Website

When kids awake on an island, they’re told there was an accident. Before they can go home, they will visit Foreverland, an alternate reality that will heal their minds.

Reed dreams of a girl that tells him to resist Foreverland. He doesn’t remember her name, but knows he once loved her. He’ll have to endure great suffering and trust his dream. And trust he’s not insane.

Danny Boy, the new arrival, meets Reed’s dream girl inside Foreverland. She’s stuck in the fantasy land that no kid can resist. Where every heart’s desire is satisfied. Why should anyone care how Foreverland works?
(from goodreads)

My Ramblings: 

The summary of this book is what really caught my eye, but the book is much, much better. Where the summary hints at what you'll find in Foreverland, but what really lurks on the island is much more intoxicating and terrifying. What I loved is that the author didn’t shy away from the horrible things that were happening on the island and the effects they have on the people who are trying to resist, as well as how they affect the people that try to just go with the flow. It left me really wondering how much I would endure before giving in and just letting go. Is it better to have fun but possible lose yourself completely or to suffer in pain, but at least stay you?

While Danny Boy was the main character for the story, and we see Foreverland collapsing around him and his actions, it's really Reed who I was drawn to. He was the lone man standing alone, holding onto a past that he couldn't quite remember but he wasn't willing to part with yet. Where Danny Boy was on a path of self discovery and will ultimately make the choices that change Foreverland, it's Reed who provides a sad moral compass for him. He's a a counterpoint to the other boys who are giving into the self indulgent things in Foreverland and he allows Danny Boy to see that everything isn't as perfect as it seems.

Admittedly, some of the plot was a tad bit far fetched and left me rolling my eyes a little, but there wasn't enough there to undo all the excellent stuff that surrounded it.

There is a sequel to this book called Foreverland is Dead that came out at the beginning of the year that I’m looking to get my hands on soon. Unlike other series where you finish one and just want to devour all the others, this is one I think I want to take a break from. There’s enough food for thought woven into the story that I think to go right to the next book would be a little bit of an overload. That said, I definitely want to know what happens now that Foreverland is dead, so the break won’t be for too long!

Friday, October 11, 2013

My Ramblings on Wolf Sirens by Tina Smith

Wolf Sirens- Forbidden: Discover the Legend 
By: Tina Smith
Release Date: July 20, 2012

Author Website

When Lila unwillingly moves to the country town of Shade, she can’t imagine the life-altering events that lie in wait for her. Shade has a curfew and has always been surrounded by myths. A central feature of the town is its famous statue of Artemis, Goddess of the Hunt, whose spirit is said to protect the innocent.

Lila falls in with a group of intriguing teenagers with luminescent eyes and soon she is drawn into the shadowlands of fantasy and reality, where destiny collides.

A mysterious local girl, Cresida, warns her to stay away, but Lila is drawn to them like a moth to a flame.

Cresida knows their fatal secret and she is honour-bound to protect those who are endangered. But she underestimates Lila’s passion for the mysterious and charismatic clan of youths. Lila begins to feel a call she cannot ignore. Yet her heart is filled with vulnerable desires that begin to turn the underworld upside down, for both hunter and hunted, as she learns they have been waiting for her…

Inspired by the legend of the mythical femme fatale, Wolf Sirens is an intimate tale of unrequited and forbidden love in the underworld, a masterpiece of romance fantasy.
(from goodreads)

My Ramblings
So did it live up to the summary? Yes and no. I loved Smith’s version of the werewolf and how she tied in some ancient mythology to the origin story. I also really liked the main characters, especially Lila and Cressida. Both are trying to figure out who they really are and how they fit into the world of Shade. Shade itself is a pretty interesting little town, and I liked how Smith wove in the history of the other wolves and how and why they came to Shade.

The story was fast paced and for the most part flowed really well. However, there were a few things that felt almost too rushed for my liking. The ending, for me, was too abrupt. I had pretty much figured out what Lila was before it was revealed in the story, but I thought her transition into her new role was too easy. There wasn’t quite enough push back from her and there also wasn’t enough time spent on what her new role would do to the relationships she had built. And then the book just kind of ended. It also fell trap to my most hated type of ending. The epilogue. This was actually a really well written epilogue, but why was it an epilogue? Why wasn’t it just the last chapter? It really through me off and made the book end on kind of a down note.

There are two more books in the series that are out, and while I enjoyed the story, I'm not really drawn to see what will happen next. They, to me are a plan b type of book. In other words, I'm likely to buy them for the iPad and then when I find myself in a lull I'll read them, but I'm not rushing out to grab them and devour them right away.

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

September Reads

So school has started back up and I'm slowly but surely getting back into the swing of things... which means finding time to read, even if I'm not finding tons of time to blog. That's okay though- because at least once a month I'll recap what I've read! So here it is, my September reads!

The Waking Dark by Robin Wasserman
Release Date: 9-10-13
Author Website

They called it the killing day. Twelve people dead, all in the space of a few hours. Five murderers: neighbors, relatives, friends. All of them so normal. All of them seemingly harmless. All of them now dead by their own hand . . . except one. And that one has no answers to offer the shattered town. She doesn't even know why she killed—or whether she'll do it again.

Something is waking in the sleepy town of Oleander's, Kansas—something dark and hungry that lives in the flat earth and the open sky, in the vengeful hearts of upstanding citizens. As the town begins its descent into blood and madness, five survivors of the killing day are the only ones who can stop Oleander from destroying itself. Jule, the outsider at war with the world; West, the golden boy at war with himself; Daniel, desperate for a different life; Cass, who's not sure she deserves a life at all; and Ellie, who believes in sacrifice, fate, and in evil. Ellie, who always goes too far. They have nothing in common. They have nothing left to lose. And they have no way out. Which means they have no choice but to stand and fight, to face the darkness in their town—and in themselves.
(from Goodreads)

Wasserman is one of my absolute favorite authors and I was super excited to see that she had another book coming out. I bought it on release day and plowed through it in just about a day.  In this book Wasserman pays homage to Stephen King by entering the world of suspense and she does it really, really well.

The book took me a chapter or two to get into, simply because there were so many characters and intersecting stories that are woven together. It takes a minute to figure out who is who, who is helping who and who to root for. Once you get an idea of the landscape of the town of Oleander, KS and it’s residents the story really starts to flow, twisting and turning until the very end.

What I particularly liked what that for the bulk of the book I wasn’t sure what the heck was happening. Even when I was done, it was left open ended enough that I wondered who and what was the real cause of all the blood on the hands of the people who live in Oleander. Was it really just a matter of time before the inevitable would have happened? Was all orchestrated by outside forces? Or was it truly a perfect storm of circumstances that left a town in ruins?

This is one of those books that I didn’t just want to read. I want someone else to read it. Then I want to discuss it, pull it apart and try to figure it all out. It’s a book that makes you really think and that really is the best kind of book!


The Strange Case of Origami Yoda by Tom Angleberger
Release Date:

Meet Dwight, a sixth-grade oddball. Dwight does a lot of weird things, like wearing the same T-shirt for a month or telling people to call him "Captain Dwight." This is embarrassing, particularly for Tommy, who sits with him at lunch every day.

But Dwight does one cool thing. He makes origami. One day he makes an origami finger puppet of Yoda. And that's when things get mysterious. Origami Yoda can predict the future and suggest the best way to deal with a tricky situation. His advice actually works, and soon most of the sixth grade is lining up with questions.

Tommy wants to know how Origami Yoda can be so smart when Dwight himself is so clueless. Is Yoda tapping into the Force? It's crucial that Tommy figure out the mystery before he takes Yoda's advice about something VERY IMPORTANT that has to do with a girl.

This is Tommy's case file of his investigation into "The Strange Case of Origami Yoda."

My Ramblings:
Yes. I know I am WAY behind the game with this book. Years behind. I've been hearing about this whole Origami Yoda business for years, but never picked the books up. I don't even have a good excuse. I love YA books, I'm a middle school librarian and I'm a Star Wars geek. This really should have been in my hot little hands back when it first came out.

I'm so glad I grabbed this book last week when I went to Barnes and Nobles. It's so good and it will be an awesome addition to the library (along with the other books in the series).

This book couldn't be more entertaining. I loved how you were never quite sure whether Dwight was insane or a genius, whether he was flying by the seat of his pants or whether he had a very specific plan all along. I especially loved how the story was told from multiple perspectives, each with their own opinion of both Dwight and Yoda. I can't wait to see what happens in the next book.

NOTE: I also blog at Eve's Fan Garden. Some recaps and ramblings will be cross-posted to both sites since there is a different audience for both blogs. If you'd like to check out what's going on over at Eve's Fan Garden please visit our site! 

Monday, September 9, 2013

My Ramblings on Dash and Lily's Book of Dares by Rachel Cohn and David Levithan

Dash & Lily's Book of Dares
By: Rachel Cohn and David Levithan
Release Date: Oct. 26, 2010

“I’ve left some clues for you.
If you want them, turn the page.
If you don’t, put the book back on the shelf, please.”

So begins the latest whirlwind romance from the bestselling authors of Nick & Norah’s Infinite Playlist. Lily has left a red notebook full of challenges on a favorite bookstore shelf, waiting for just the right guy to come along and accept its dares. But is Dash that right guy? Or are Dash and Lily only destined to trade dares, dreams, and desires in the notebook they pass back and forth at locations across New York? Could their in-person selves possibly connect as well as their notebook versions? Or will they be a comic mismatch of disastrous proportions?

Rachel Cohn and David Levithan have written a love story that will have readers perusing bookstore shelves, looking and longing for a love (and a red notebook) of their own.

My Ramblings:
The last line of the summary pretty much sums it up. This book does leave you wanting to peruse the bookstore shelves looking for a little magic. I bought this book a long time ago and for one reason or another is just kind of sat on the shelves until one day I just decided to pick it up... not totally unlike how Dash decided to pick up that red notebook. Sometimes it's just the right time for the right book. 

This is a fun read, and I loved trying to unwind the story right a long with Dash and Lily. Initially I thought it was going to be a long drawn out process before Dash and Lily discovered each other in person. Instead I found a story that was so much more then just passing notes and making dares. Not only do they have to figure each other out, but they spend a lot of time figuring out themselves too. They also deal with family and friends who alternately cheer them on and think they are a little bit crazy for continuing on with the dares. 

This one is definitely worth picking up- you'll have fun reading along as Dash and Lily try to outdo each other, smile as they start to break down each others barriers, and yes, you'll wish you had a red notebook of your own to dare with.

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Summer Reading!

This summer has seemed to fly by. All those things I thought I was going to get done over summer break mostly stayed not done. I had grand plans of reading a ton of books, and while that didn't happen, I did read some good ones. I even read a few, that while they weren't exactly my cup of tea, are at least worth a mention. So here goes nothing, the Great Summer Rundown!

Wild Cards by Simone Elkeles
Book Supplied by NetGalley

After getting kicked out of boarding school, bad boy Derek Fitzpatrick has no choice but to live with his ditzy stepmother while his military dad is deployed. Things quickly go from bad to worse when he finds out she plans to move them back to her childhood home in Illinois. Derek’s counting the days before he can be on his own, and the last thing he needs is to get involved with someone else’s family drama.

Ashtyn Parker knows one thing for certain--people you care about leave without a backward glance. A football scholarship would finally give her the chance to leave. So she pours everything into winning a state championship, until her boyfriend and star quarterback betrays them all by joining their rival team. Ashtyn needs a new game plan, but it requires trusting Derek—someone she barely knows, someone born to break the rules. Is she willing to put her heart on the line to try and win it all?

My Ramblings: 
I'm holding my full review until closer to release date (per the publisher's request), but I will say this much here, I LOVE THIS BOOK. Frankly, Elkeles can do no wrong as far as I'm concerned.  This book is no exception. What I love about Elkeles is that she manages to both stick to a formula, and keep it fresh and interesting. I knew before I even started reading how the story would end. If you've read any of Elkeles other books, then you can probably figure it out as well. One would think that it would get boring, knowing the ending, but it never does. Elkeles books are much more about the journey then the destination, and finding out how the characters, in this case Ashtyn and Derek, get there is the best part. Another great one for Elkeles and I can't wait to see what comes next in this series! 

Secrets of a Mayan Moon and Secrets of an Aztec Temple by Paty Jager 
Book Provided by NetGalley

Secrets of a Mayan Moon
Child prodigy and now Doctor of Anthropology, Isabella Mumphrey, is about to lose her job at the university. In the world of publish or perish, her mentor’s request for her assistance on a dig is just the opportunity she’s been seeking. If she can decipher an ancient stone table—and she can—she’ll keep her department. She heads to Guatemala, but drug trafficking bad guys, artifact thieves, and her infatuation for her handsome guide wreak havoc on her scholarly intentions.

DEA agent Tino Kosta, is out to avenge the deaths of his family. He’s deep undercover as a jaguar tracker and sometimes jungle guide, but the appearance of a beautiful, brainy anthropologist heats his Latin blood taking him on a dangerous detour that could leave them both casualties of the jungle

Secrets of an Aztec Temple
Revenge is not always sweet…

Isabella Mumphrey can’t leave a puzzle alone. This time she attempts to use her anthropology knowledge to uncover who is stealing priceless artifacts from an Aztec Temple in Mexico City. She believes the discovery will prove her worth to the World Intelligence Agency. 

Tino Constantine is also in Mexico City. He has infiltrated a drug lord’s organization to find enough evidence to not only prove the man’s illegal activities, but to bring him down for numerous deaths. Namely those of Tino’s family.

But when the love of his life, Isabella, strolls into his enemy’s home, Tino is challenged with the choice of saving her or fulfilling his revenge.

My Ramblings:
So I have to be in just the right mood for romance novels. Sometimes I'll get on a kick and read an authors entire catalog of titles- it's a bit obsessive really- and then I might not pick up another one for months. When I saw the first book, Secrets of a Mayan Moon, on NetGalley I figured I'd give it a go. Why not? It not only had some romance, but it delved into some other topics that I dig. Specifically tribal history and archeology. As soon as I finished I went back and got the second book. They were great! Jager had lain out a tough task for herself with these stories. She was combining a bunch of topics and styles and it really could have gone either way. However, Jager managed to pretty seemlessly weave together history, archeology, romance and mystery into two really fabulous books. 

I liked both of the main characters, both Tino and Isabella read as real people who just happen to get caught up in some seriously insane situations. I also appreciated that neither character got trapped into a stereotype. Tino  falls into the latin lover stereotype a bit and he struggles with Isabella's independence and need for adventure. Struggles with it being the important part. He's not an oaf or a womanizer, although those tendencies are seen here or there, and he tries too hard to protect her sometimes, but in the end he knows that if he wants her, he's going to have to let her be herself. Which, to me, is a real path that some guys have to travel. If you want a girl like Isabella you have to get over your hero complex and let her be the superhero sometimes. As for Isabella, she walks a fine line between being super prepared and strong, and forgetting that all the preparation in the world can't save you if you keep making stupid decisions. Basically they are perfect for each other, even as they keep getting each other in trouble. 

All in all this is a fun set of books that are easy to read and keep you guessing as you fallow Tino and Isabella into crazy situations. 

Eat and Run by Scott Jurek


For nearly two decades, Scott Jurek has been a dominant force—and darling—in the grueling and growing sport of ultrarunning. In 1999, as a complete unknown, he took the lead of the Western States Endurance Run, a 100-mile traverse over the old Gold Rush trails of the California Sierra Nevada. He won that race seven years in a row, setting a course record along the way. Twice he won the Badwater Ultramarathon, a 135-mile “jaunt” through Death Valley. Recently he set an American record of 165.7 miles in 24 hours—6 1/2 marathons in one day. And he was one of the elite runners who traveled to Mexico to run with the Tarahumara Indians, as profiled in the bestseller Born to Run. His accomplishments are nothing short of extraordinary, but that he has achieved all of this on a plant-based diet makes his story all the more so.

In Eat and Run, Scott Jurek opens up about his life and career—as an elite athlete and a vegan—and inspires runners at every level. From his Midwestern childhood hunting, fishing, and cooking for his meat-and-potatoes family, to his early beginnings in running (he hated it), to his slow transition to ultrarunning and veganism, to his world-spanning, record-breaking races, Scott’s story shows the power of an iron will and blows apart all the stereotypes of what athletes should eat to fuel optimal performance. Chock-full of incredible, on-the-brink stories of endurance and competition, fascinating science, and accessible practical advice—including his own favorite plant-based recipes—Eat and Run will motivate everyone to “go the distance,” whether that means getting out for that first run, expanding your food horizons, or simply exploring the limits of your own potential.

My Ramblings:
Last year I started to take my running serious, and one of my turning points came when I read the book Born to Run by Christopher McDougall. In the pages of his book I had my "aha" moment and I found what running is supposed to be for me. Also within those pages I was introduced to a cast of characters who were out there doing awesome things, and fortunately for me some of them have written their own books. Using those books to continue my running education I've been able to change not only the way I run, but the way I think about running. The latest book on the list is Jurek's, which not only gives a great rundown of his running history, but it also talks about how he got there as well as sharing some tasty recipes! My full review of the book is over at the running blog I'm a part of (From the Page to the Princess), but the long and the short of it is that if you run, or if you've even wondered about those crazy people that run 50 to 100 miles (fun fun!), the  this books is a great read. 

Revolution 19 by Gregg Rosenblum

Twenty years ago, the robots designed to fight our wars abandoned the battlefields. Then they turned their weapons on us.

Only a few escaped the robot revolution of 2071. Kevin, Nick, and Cass are lucky —they live with their parents in a secret human community in the woods. Then their village is detected and wiped out. Hopeful that other survivors have been captured by bots, the teens risk everything to save the only people they have left in the world—by infiltrating a city controlled by their greatest enemies.

Revolution 19 is a cinematic thriller unlike anything else. With a dynamic cast of characters, this surefire blockbuster has everything teen readers want—action, drama, mystery, and romance.

My Ramblings: 
So this is a weird one for me to recap. I picked this book up at my absolutely favorite bookstore in the world, Books & Company in Oconomowoc, WI. I only get there once a year and when I do I stock up on books. It's just about the only place I by real books anymore (read as non- e-book) and I when I saw this book on the shelf it immediately caught my eye. I plowed through it in one sitting. It has a ton going for it- the rise of the machines, an overthrow by the robots that mankind created, a band of survivors who are constantly on the look out for the robots who destroyed the world as they knew it. It's a plot that I've seen before (most recently in Keary Taylor's Bane series and the entire Terminator franchise), but Rosenblum manages to keep his series feeling fresh while still feeling familiar. 

I loved the whole concept that somewhere there is a power that is pulling strings, as of know I'm not sure if it's a human, a robot or some combination of the two, but there is someone or something that is making the big decisions. I also like that when Kevin, Nick and Cass enter the city and see first hand what life is like under the power of the robots they are confused at whether or not it's a good thing or a bad thing. It isn't as horrid as they imagined it, but they soon find out that it isn't as peaceful as it seems on the surface either. When they start getting deeper into how the City is run, you really start to see the dark underbelly. And this is where I started to lose focus. Like I said I blew through the book in one sitting and really liked it, but I wanted more. Much, much more. Without giving too much away, Rosenblum delves into mind control, torture, using technology to control the masses and some other very real things that are not far fetched at all. In fact they are happening all the time. It's not so far fetched to see how they could become the norm. Which is what makes it so freaky, and yet, Rosenblum brought me right to the edge without really giving me all I wanted. It's all horrible, but I felt like it was glossed over a bit in the book. The scenes of torture didn't feel as bad as they should have. He talks about the after effects of the long term mind control, but I didn't feel like I saw those effects playing out. Granted this is the first book in a series, so the long term effects may come into play later, but when I closed the last page I just felt like it could have been much more then it was. However, this could all be my point of view on it. I watch a ridiculous amount of news, and I spend a fair bit of time reading books by George RR Martin, who doesn't sugar coat anything, so while I was expecting more, someone else might be absolutely horrified by what happens in the book. 

In other words- I'd recommend giving this one a go. It's a good book that might just be perfect for someone else! 

Lake Thirteen by Gregg Herron
Book Provided by NetGalley

It seemed like a good idea at the time…

Every summer three families take a trip together—this year it’s to a remote resort in the mountains of upstate New York. Scotty, a teenager who’s just come out, is nervous about how his friends will react to him. A late night visit to an old nearby cemetery seems like a great idea to the bored teens, but the old cemetery holds dark secrets hidden for almost a century—secrets that might have been better left undisturbed.

And what originally seemed like a boring week in the mountains gradually becomes a nightmare of terror for the teens and their families…

My Ramblings:
Here's a review that isn't really a review, because I din't even finish this book. I tried a few times, but just couldn't do it. So instead of really recapping this one, I'll just tell you why I didn't read it. It has nothing to do with the story itself, which, from the part I read was really great. It's a great plot, with some really cool characters. However, Herron lost me right at the beginning and no matter how many times I returned to the book I just couldn't get into it. 

So here's the deal. Some authors let their personal biases seep into their story. As well they should. The story is theirs to tell and there's no reason they should try to write to please every person on the planet. Everyone has a different perspective on the world and the other people who live it, that is exactly what makes life interesting. Sometimes when you read a book you come across a sentence or two that just rubs you the wrong way, and that's the case with this one. Early on in the book the main character, Scotty, is talking about coming out to his family as well as reminiscing about his awesome boyfriend. So far so good, we've got a character who is gay, but this fact isn't his defining character. I love that. Then he starts talking about the boyfriends evil father and how this has forced the relationship to be hush, hush. I'm still with them. This happens all the time and sucks. Big time. No one should have to hide who they are and who they love because of other people's ignorance. Then we get to why his father is an asshole. It's because he watches Fox News and only knows how to regurgitate the hate that the anchors tell him to buy into . Chances are the father is a jerk no matter what, and maybe some of that hate is fed into by a news station, but I was rubbed the wrong way by how the father hating all gays was tied to the being told to hate people by Fox News. Why? Because I watch Fox News. A lot. And yes, some of the talking heads are idiots, much like other stations have people who are idiots on them, but I can say I never once have felt like they were preaching hate or telling me that I should be an asshole to people who are different. Occasionally someone has gone on a tirade and said things that suck, but this happens on TV all the time, and not just on one station. Fox News doesn't hold the monopoly on idiot anchors. 

In the grand scheme of things this is a very minor issue in what appears to be a great book. So I gave it the old college try, but eventually realized not every book is for everyone, and it's better to move on then force it. So what does this mean- why even include it in my wrap up. Well, first of all, because my bias shouldn't effect someone else's enjoyment of the book! Also, I thought it was an important issue to highlight. The idea that everyone has their own reading path to follow and that you aren't going to love and agree with everything you read. So if you are all about some YA mystery, or if you are looking for really well written gay characters, then go snatch this one up and give it a go. 

So ends my summer wrap up. Next week it's back to the grind. Hopefully I will manage to find time to still enjoy some awesome books! I'd love to hear what everyone else read this summer- my TBR pile could always use a few more titles on the stack! 

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Blog Tour! Rogue by Gina Damico

I have to admit that I've been a bit behind the eight ball on the blogging this summer- who knew summer break would be so busy? However, an opportunity presented itself that I simply couldn't pass by, one of my favorite book series, the Croak Trilogy, is coming to to an end soon and today I'm happy to share a post from author Gina Damico! If you haven't had a chance to read these books you should absolutely get on it. Not only do I love this series, but I can't keep in on the shelf in the Middle School Library I work at- Damico manages to combine mystery and wit in a pretty tight package that keeps you on the edge of your seat. I for one can't wait to get my hands on book three, Rogue.

So, without further ado, Gina Damico!

Hey hey Croak fans! Welcome to my blog tour / photo hunt / Roguestravaganza! 

From now until ROGUE's release on September 10th, each stop on the tour will reveal an image that represents a chapter in the book - could refer to setting, plot, an important object, mood, or whatever other diabolical visualizations with which I feel like tormenting my dear readers. Each image also contains a hidden letter...though really, they're not that well hidden. (If you have eyes, you should be able to spot them.) Collect the letters every day, and at the end of the tour I'll hold a contest, the winner of which will receive signed and annotated copies of the complete trilogy. (For a complete description of the contest, tour schedule, and links to the stops you might have missed, check out the blog tour page on my website.)

This photo is for Chapter 6. I will let the image do the talking.

Thanks for having me! Good luck everyone!


Plot Summary: 
Teenage Grim Reaper Lex’s power to Damn souls is getting out of control. She's a fugitive, on the run from the maniacal new mayor of Croak and the townspeople who want to see her pay the price for her misdeeds. Uncle Mort rounds up the Junior Grims to flee Croak once again, but this time they're joined by Grotton, the most powerful Grim of all time. Their new mission is clear: fix his mistakes, or the Afterlife will cease to exist, along with all the souls in it.

The gang heads for Necropolis, the labyrinth-like capital city of the Grimsphere. There, they discover that the Grimsphere needs a reboot. To do that, the portals to the Afterlife must be destroyed...but even that may not be enough to fix the damage. Things go from bad to worse, and when at last the fate of the Afterlife and all the souls of the Damned hang in the balance, it falls to Lex and her friends to make one final, impossible choice.



If all of this isn't enough Gina has offered up a pretty awesome prize pack to give away here at A Reader's Ramblings. Want to know what you can snag?

3 signed bookmarks 
3 signed bookplates
3 magnets 
a scythe pendant

So you get a little something for yourself and something to share! 
Entering is easy- simply fill out the form the below! Contest runs until Friday at midnight and all normal contest rules apply. For those of you not in the US, good news, this one is open internationally! 

Good luck and happy reading!

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

First Year of Teaching Done... and a few short ramblings!

Well, I can officially say that my first year of teaching has come to a close. At times this blog has taken a back seat to work as I tried to navigate the land of teaching, but I'm always thinking in the back of my mind about books I want to read and the thoughts I want to share on those books. The end of this year was especially busy. Who knew that getting ready for summer break could be so hectic?! I didn't read as much in the last month, but for the few books I did read I don't want them to get lost in the void. So without further ado, here are my ramblings on the books I read in June!

The Human by Keary Taylor

I happened to get an copy of this book which came out on June 18th and couldn't find enough time to really get into it. I LOVED the first book in this series, The Bane and I was a little worried that The Human wouldn't live up to it. As a matter of fact I kind of loved how The Bane ended, and while I wanted the story to continue, I also wanted to just kind of be happy with where Eve, Avion and West ended. I even struggled through the first few chapters of The Human, it started down the love triangle path and I really didn't want that for any of the characters. Thank goodness I kept going. Taylor expertly weaves the emotions of all the characters into a story, that while there are elements of split allegiances and broken hearts, never truly falls into the trap of love triangle story. Even, Avion and West all have a part to play, and while there are relationships there that factor in to the greater story, those relationships aren't the entire story.

Taylor took the story to the next logical place. Now that our friends in New Eden are relatively safe (for the time being), what will happen next? It's a wild ride as we see Eve continue to come to grips with who and what she is, and the twist at the end is spot on. Providing both a resolution and a perfect set up for the next book. This was a great sequel and I can't wait for more!

More about the author
More about the book


Insomnia by J. R. Johansson

This book was like a roller coaster for my emotions. At the heart of the story is Parker, who has the unique ability to step into other peoples dreams. The last person who he makes eye contact with is the person who's dreams he will enter, and since he is experiencing someone else's dreams, he's not actually sleeping. when we first meet Parker he is physically exhausted and he is tired of dealing with the good and the bad that he sees in other people's dreams. His mother thinks he's on drugs and there is really no one he can turn to. Then he meets Mia, a foster child who has moved into his town. Her dreams are different and Parker can actually get some peace, but at what cost? What follows Parker's revelation about Mia and her particular brand of dreams is what makes this story brilliant. As Parker begins to lose his mind, as I reader you begin to go crazy too. I was never quite sure if Parker was the good guy or the bad guy, and that's the point. It wasn't until the end, as it all started coming together for Parker, that I, as the reader, began to figure it out too. Which is rare in a book. I was walking around in Parker's head, even as he was walking around in everyone else's. It was creepy and uncomfortable and at times I wanted to put the book down... but my desire to know how it would all turn out was much stronger then anything else.

This was a fabulous book and I'm really looking forward to the sequel which can't come soon enough!

More about the author
More about the book


Imposter by Jill Hathaway

First of all, this is a sequel, and I did not read the first book, Slide. Why didn't I read the first book? Because I got this book as an ARC and I was already half way through and WAY too invested to stop and get Slide. Which is a testament to Hathaway's writing. Even without knowing the first part of this story, I never felt like I was missing anything. Things that I assume were part of the first book were referenced, but in such a way that I felt like I had all the information I needed. I didn't know I was missing anything until I looked Hathaway up. Now that I'm done with Imposter I've borrowed Slide from the library and am going back. Still, this book stands on it's own, which I love! 

So, about this book. It's a doosy. Vee has what she sees as a curse, she can slide into other people, momentarily taking control of their actions. It's something she struggles with, but does on occasion use to her advantage. Throughout the story we see her dealing with two separate issues. First, she is reconnecting with an old friend who has been taken advantage of by the same boy who also took advantage of Vee. So there is a history there and the girls, along with Vee's sister and friend hatch a plot which backfires horribly. The fallout from that is at the center of the story. The second issue that Vee is dealing with is that she can tell that she is being "slid-into" she doesn't know anyone else who has the ability, so suddenly everyone is a suspect. Is someone out to get her or is it coincidence? Her long-absent Aunt is back in town and there is a mysterious woman who keeps turning up and Vee is wary of almost everyone around her. 

What I like in this book is that Hathaway blended the more supernatural elements of her story into the very common experiences of high school pretty seamlessly. I believed that what happens to Vee could happen to anyone. The way it was written made sense and the way Vee (and those around her) handle the information also seemed real. I was drawn into the story and really connected with the characters and I loved how at the end of the book there was a promise of a happy ending for everyone involved. I hope that we get to see what happens next! 

More about the author
More about the book


So those are the 3 books I read in June. All three were great and left me wanting more! Now it's time for July and some great summer reads. :) 

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

MY Ramblings on The Bane by Keary Taylor

The Bane
By: Keary Taylor 
Release Date: March 5, 2013
Author Website
Book Received From: NetGalley

Before the Evolution there was TorBane: technology that infused human DNA with cybernetic matter. It had the ability to grow new organs and limbs, to heal the world. Until it evolved out of control and spread like the common cold. The machine took over, the soul vanished, and the Bane were born. The Bane won't stop until every last person has been infected. With less than two percent of the human population left, mankind is on the brink of extinction.

Eve knows the stories of the Evolution, the time before she wandered into the colony of Eden, unable to recall anything but her name. But she doesn't need memories to know this world is her reality. This is a world that is quickly losing its humanity, one Bane at a time.

Fighting to keep one of the last remaining human colonies alive, Eve finds herself torn between her dedication to the colony, and the discovery of love. There is Avian and West – one a soldier, one a keeper of secrets. And in the end, Eve will make a choice that will change the future of mankind.

The Bane is The Terminator meets The Walking Dead with a heart-twisting romance.

Previously published as Eden, due to reader demand it has been revamped and rereleased as The Bane: book one in The Eden Trilogy.

My Ramblings
I love when you get to discover books and authors that weren't on your radar and suddenly it's like a whole other world of books opens up for you. How is it I didn't know about Keary Taylor before NetGalley put The Bane in my path? The Bane was originally published in 2011 under the title Eden and was revamped (and retitled) as part of The Eden Trilogy, with the sequel, The Human, coming out mid-June. This book was excellent and I'm really glad that I stumbled across it on NetGalley. 

At the heart of the story is a girl named Eve who lives and works in Eden. She has no memory of her life before she arrived in Eden although she knows from hearing the stories of others about how the world used to be before machinery took over the human race. Somewhere in here is a parallel to The Terminator series, but instead of technology simply becoming aware one day, here we see human experimentation and ambition going sideways and getting out of control. what I really enjoyed was that the leap from where we are today to where we find Eve isn't that large of one. Already we are building better prosthetic that are helping people get back to life as normal. Cybernetics are certainly something that is being researched and worked on, so is it really that huge of a leap to see how we could start to use technology and fuse it with DNA to help people live a more full life. 

Here we see how it so quickly spiraled out of control. I particularly liked how Taylor told the story from two different ends. First we see how Eve and the other residents of Eden are living now, post Evolution. We watch as they try to stay alive, how they survive in a world where they have to provide for themselves mostly off the land, while still fighting off the Bane.  When West arrives in Eden he brings with him a key to Eve's past and also some secrets to how the Bane came into existence. Through West we get stories from the past and the gaps are filled in not only for Eve, but the reader. 

I know that this is a pretty technical review thus far, and there's a reason for that. It's relatively rare that a book surprises me, that the twists and turns actually catch me off guard, but Taylor managed it. I had an inkling of what was happening, of what part Eve played in the story of the Evolution, of what she was capable of and who she would find herself choosing. I was only partially right on most of my guesses, and that was awesome. There are twists and turns, there are moments of action and peace, and there are times when you can see the weight of the world pressing down on these people as they try to just stay alive. Mostly though, there is hope. Hope that there is a real possibility to survive, to defeat the Bane and the find a normal life amid the chaos. Watching the characters navigate a world turned upside down and face the unbelievable (like the Bane) and the very normal (finding love) is very satisfying. I for one can't wait to not only read The Human when it comes out, but also pick up the free short story, The Raid, and the free prequel, The Ashes, that Taylor has made available for Kindle.

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

My Ramblings on Leverage by Joshua C. Cohen

By: Joshua C. Cohen
Release Date: February 17, 2011
Author Website


The football field is a battlefield

There's an extraordinary price for victory at Oregrove High. It is paid on - and off - the football field. And it claims its victims without mercy - including the most innocent bystanders.

When a violent, steroid-infused, ever-escalating prank war has devastating consequences, an unlikely friendship between a talented but emotionally damaged fullback and a promising gymnast might hold the key to a school's salvation.

Told in alternating voices and with unapologetic truth, Leverage illuminates the fierce loyalty, flawed justice, and hard-won optimism of two young athletes.

My Ramblings:

I finished this book a few weeks ago and instead of reviewing it right away I wanted to sit on it, to think about it, and to really take the time to process it. I have a lot to say, but, to be honest I'm unsure how to say it, or even if I want to. Here's why: part of what this book have such an impact is that you are experiencing right along with the characters both the good and the bad in this world. I'm afraid that if I go too in depth, if I give too much away that I will also take away the impact of the story and that would be unfair. I know, I know, this book is 2 years old. why worry about spoilers at all? Well, because in this case I think it really could ruin the book for you. So I'm going to keep it broad. 

This book centers on two high school boys, Kurt a football player with demons lurking in his past and Danny, a gymnast who is faced with a world that at best doesn't respect him and at worst wants to hurt him. Laced into the story is violence, steroid abuse, corruption, bullying, people who do nothing when evil rears it's head and those that take a stand against it. When one of Danny's team mates is raped, Danny has to decide what to do next. Watching Danny struggle with this decision is heart breaking and terrifying. you want to say that these things don't really happen, that the author is exaggerating or ramping up the situation to create drama or tension. He's not though. As disgusting as some of the actions portrayed in the story are and as much as they make you want to close the book and find lighter fare, you know that somewhere this is actually happening to someone and it's heartbreaking. Think of Stuebenville (to reference a more recent case). Think of how children are abused by adults, think of how they abuse each other, and think about how, sometimes the bad guys get away with it. This book goes through all of that and allows you a glimpse into the minds of those who are stuck in the middle of the cycle and want desperately to get out. 

This is a great book. It wraps up just a little to neatly for me, but I imagine that after the last page turns, the ones who deserve it will get what's coming to them and those that were harmed will know that even though evil wins some of the smaller battles, eventually the right side wins out.

Friday, April 12, 2013

My Ramblings on The Cool Impossible by Eric Orton

The Cool Impossible By: Eric Orton
Release Date: May 7, 2013
Author WebsiteBook Provided By: NAL Hardcover

The truth is: Athleticism is awareness. That simple phrase is at the core of The Cool Impossible. Athleticism requires awareness of form and technique, awareness of our effort level, and, most important, awareness of what we think (and don’t think). And with that awareness comes the possibility of endless potential and improvement, progress and mastery—and, ultimately, achievement that you never before would have thought possible.   With a program focused on proper running form, strength development, and cardiovascular training, Orton will help first-step beginners, prime-time competitors, and enduring veterans reach the cool impossible”—the belief that any achievement, athletic or otherwise, is within our reach.

Inside you’ll find:  
* Foot strength exercises to catapult performance, combat injuries, and transform technique
* A total-body strength program aimed at creating an athletic running body
* Step-by-step run-form coaching for performance enhancement and lifelong healthy running
* A run-training program providing the building blocks for endurance, strength, and speed
* No-nonsense nutrition strategies for performance, health, and the ultimate running body
* Visualization and mind-training tactics to run and live the Cool Impossible
*And much more…  

Natural running is about so much more than barefoot running. It’s about the joy of running that we were all naturally born with and can reawaken. Like a favorite running companion, The Cool Impossible will be there with you, stride for stride and mile for mile, helping you go farther than you ever could have on your own.

My Ramblings:

*This isn't a real review. Well, it is. It's just not all here. Check out the teaser below and then head over to From the Page from the Princess to see the whole review* 

Words. Seriously. So many words. In some ways this was an easy book to review, in others it was very, very difficult. Why? Because I was all in from the first page. Frankly, I was all in before I even opened it up. Back in January I reviewed Born to Run by Chris McDougall and I was hooked. I had already started to look into minimalist running and was starting to transition over to Vibrams, so that book reinforced what I was already thinking. I was also already working on Good Form Running, which I'm now imparting to the No Boundries runners at Fleet Feet as a coach in their 5k program. This book takes it one step further. The author, Eric Orton, is the man who coached McDougall to his first Copper Canyon Ultra-Marathon and in this book he imparts his wisdom and techniques for getting you, the reader, the same type of results. 

If you'd like to check out all of my thoughts on The Cool Impossible, head over to From the Page to the Princess!

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

My Ramblings on The Fourth Stall III by Chris Rylander

The Fourth Stall 
By: Chris Rylander
Release Date: Feb. 5, 2013
Author Website
Book Provided By: Walden Pond Press


The saga of Mac, Vince, and middle school organized crime comes to a thrilling conclusion in THE FOURTH STALL PART III. Their business is finished, and Mac’s and Vince’s lives have become something they have never been before: simple. None of the fortune or the glory and none of the risk or threat of juvenile prison. There’s even a new business that has stepped in to take their place (and take the heat off Mac and Vince for once). Things couldn’t be better.

But that was before things at their middle school started to go haywire. Before they found out that there’s a new crime boss at school in the town over trying to consolidate power. And before their old nemesis, Staples, came back to town begging for help after his stint in the clink. Just when Mac and Vince thought they were out, the business pulls them back in. But this time, will they be able to escape with their lives and permanent records intact?
(from goodreads)

My Ramblings:

First let me say that I currently am having a book three problem. It feels like all my favorite trilogies are all coming to a close at the same time. It's draining. I want to know how they end, but I'm not ready for them to be over! So like a bad blogger I've been avoiding them (it's a coping mechanism, okay?!) All these book threes are stacked up in a nice neat pile, just waiting for me to get up the nerve to open them up. The Fourth Stall sat there for a little while, and of course, when I finally grabbed it and opened that first page, I was sucked right in.  

Second. I missed these characters. Like really missed them! With everything else I read it's sometimes hard to remember how fun and easy reading can be. This book, this whole series is just fun to read. I read it and I nod along and giggle and wink back when the story winks- I love that Rylander has his characters acknowledge the Godfather connections, the silliness that is Scarface and the undying love that fans have for the Cubs. 

*** Note- There will be spoilers below. If you haven't read this book yet. Stop reading now. Just know that this is a series you need to go get ***

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

My Ramblings on Amarok by Angela J. Townsend

By: Angela J. Townsend
Release Date: Nov. 20, 2012
Authors Website


Emma's life has been hell since she moved from sunny California to a remote Alaskan town. Abandoned by her father and living with the guilt of causing her mother's death, she makes a desperate dash for freedom from her abusive stepfather. But when her car skids off the icy road, her planned escape leads to further captivity in a world beyond her imagining. 

Dragged across the tundra by an evil mountain man and his enormous black wolf, she learns that love can be found in the most unexpected places. Amarok, as she's nicknamed the wolf, is a young man from the gold-rush era enslaved by an ancient shaman. Emma's gentle touch and kind heart win his love and devotion. When a vicious madman--trapped in bear form by the same Shaman--attacks the travelers and injures Amarok, Emma must find the strength to face her fears and free the wolf she's come to love. But that means she must face down the evil shaman, a Siberian mammoth hunter from the ice age, and he has no intention of giving up his power to her.
(from Goodreads)

My Ramblings:
On the recommendation of Darby Karchut I picked this book up. She's one of my favorite authors, so I figured she had good taste. This was a great little book, full of all the sorts of things that I really enjoy. There's folklore and magic, there's action and adventure, there's wilderness and wild animals and it's all woven together in a neat little package. 

At the center of the story is Emma, a girl who has lost everything and is struggling just to survive in Alaska with an abusive step-father. No one should have to live the way Emma does, covering her bruises and making excuses. No one should have to, but many kids (and adults) do. Townsend does something here, in talking about the relationship between Emma and her step-father, that I like. She treats it as simply another part of Emma's life. She doesn't sugar coat it, but she doesn't make it the focal point of the entire story either. It's something Emma lives with, and deals with, on a daily basis, but it does not define her. It certainly impacts the decisions Emma makes throughout the story, but I appreciated that Emma, as a character, was more then just an abused girl. 

That said, the abuse is what sets the entire adventure in motion, and her ability to cope with bad things, with bad people, is what allows her to come through the journey stronger. The fact that she never loses hope, and doesn't let the bad things that have happened to her define her, is what makes her inspiring. 

The other characters in this story are great- I do wish that there was a little more character development on some of the characters, especially Jock, who is Amarok's uncle. I felt like he played a fairly large role in the story and how it all resolved, but I didn't feel like I knew enough about him. I had a great picture of who the shaman was, who Emma was and who Amorak was, but Jock came in and was awesome, but I really wanted to know more. At the end of the book I found myself really wanting a second story focusing on Jock and his adventures releasing all the other people who were trapped by the Shaman. 

Overall this was a great story, it was a quick read that packed a lot in, and I think that because Emma is such a survivor and the fact that she takes the pain and hurt and uses that to become a stronger person, someone who doesn't give up and doesn't lose hope, makes it a story that many kids (and adults) can relate to. If you get a chance, pick this one up!