30 November, 2011

Winter Wishlist - Sign up!

Go to http://bit.ly/wntrwish11 to sign up for the new seasonal meme 
hosted by yours truly!
Sign-up starts now, meme starts on December 6. Happy holidays!

28 November, 2011

Blog Tour: Untraceable Review + Author Interview

Hi, everyone! Welcome to one of the official stops on the Untraceable blog tour. We're very happy to be a part of this tour and hope you enjoy our review. Untraceable hits shelves on November 29 and should be available at most retail and eBook outlets. Our review is below, followed by an interview with author Shelli Johannes-Wells. Enjoy!

Untraceable (The State of Grace #1) by S.R. Johannes
Publication date: 29 November 2011 by Coleman & Stott

Category: Young Adult Mystery Thriller
Keywords: Mystery, thriller, wilderness, survival, missing persons
Format: Paperback, ebook, Kindle (e-ARC received from the author for review)

Thuy's synopsis: 

Sixteen-year-old Grace is a tomboy, reared in the wilderness by her father, who taught her how to track and survive in the wild. Three months ago, Grace’s dad, a wildlife officer, disappears. The evidence suggests that he fell into the river and drowned but Grace isn’t buying it. She doesn’t believe that the river could so easily take a man who knew the land like the back of his hand. While everyone else has given up, Grace has made it her mission and obsession to find out what happened to him. She spends her days deep in the woods looking for any small sign of her father. Her investigation leads her to discoveries that will alter her life and the lives of those around her forever.

Thuy's review:

I admit that I wasn’t sure what I was getting myself into when I started reading what had been dubbed a “wilderness novel.” However, a few pages in I understood what that meant. The woods and land that Grace explores is a big part of this novel, almost becoming a character of its own. All of the sounds, textures and creatures of the woods come alive on the page and I could almost imagine myself there. Grace knows how to survive in these woods and I was very impressed by her knowledge of tracking, fishing, hiking and other survival skills.

A fast paced thriller, Untraceable grabbed me from the get go. Grace’s investigation had unexpected twists and turns and kept me guessing. Grace is a pretty kick-ass heroine. I admire her determination in finding out what happened to her father. She’s smart and capable and reminded me a bit of Nancy Drew, if Nancy could scale a steep rock face, ride a motorcycle, face down grown wild bears, and actually made out with Ned Nickerson. Though mature beyond her years, there were times when Grace made very rash and/or just plain dumb decisions. I am not sure if we’re supposed to chalk this up to her young age or what, but I wanted to reach into the book and shake some sense into her a couple of times.

But now, we get to the ending of the book. The end of this book just killed me. I think I stared at my Kindle for a moment going, “Noooooo.” I’m not going to give it away but there’s one part about the ending that just didn’t mesh with what I, personally, wanted to happen. Part of me likes the fact that Johannes didn’t do what was expected but the other part of me is very frustrated. This is just my opinion though and I am interested to hear what others think of the ending.

Untraceable is an exciting new YA suspense thriller that’ll keep you on the edge of your seat. With a great story, well developed characters, a love triangle, and an action packed mystery, it has something for everyone. I can’t wait to see what the sequel, Unstoppable, brings.

"Grace is a spunky, independent, nature girl who doesn't need a boy to save her. With wilderness survival, a juicy love triangle, and more twists and turns than a roller coaster, this fast-paced novel had me holding my breath until the very last page—and still begging for more!"
-Kimberly Derting, author of the The Body Finder series (Harper Teen) and The
Pledge series (S&S)

For more information and to see the other stops on the tour, please check out the full schedule here.


Shelli was kind enough to answer some questions about herself and the book for the blog. Thank you, Shelli, and welcome.

You really captured that small town feeling well in Untraceable. Is the town where the story is set based on a real place/is it a real place?
Yes and No.

Cherokee is a real place. It is in NC and it is one of the only working Indian reservations in this part of the US. But her actual town with Tommy’s fishing shop and her mom’s diner is fictional. It is based on all the small towns you drive through in the mountains though.

Grace knows a lot about the wilderness and how to survive in it. Are you a wilderness buff as well or did you have to do a lot of research?
I love nature and animals. My hubby is really into the wilderness. He goes fishing and camping in the deep mountains all alone. Me? Not so much. I can be nature girl but I’m not like Grace. I like to be comfortable and the deep woods kind of scare me. They are so isolated and unknown.

Between my hubby, our trips to the mountains, and research – I was able to capture the setting.

Your story talks about poaching – something Grace’s father fights in his job. Was this a topic you were familiar with before you wrote the book? Some of the descriptions are quite graphic and I imagine that they are real. Were you hoping to bring awareness to this issue or is it just a positive by-product of the story?
Everything in this story is from articles. I made nothing up. I hate all kinds of hunting but there is a difference in hunting for food and hunting for fun.

What's the one survival skill that Grace would recommend learning in case I'm ever lost in the forest (which could totally happen)?
If you think you will get lost – don’t go. She would say plan everything first – know where you are going, tell people, understand what you need, and have a rescue plan in place. If you don’t come back in a set time, have your friends and family contact somewhere.

Even my hubby goes to very remote places where there is no cell phone coverage and streets. He hikes in a couple miles. But he always leaves me a map and gives me a time when he will be in cell phone range. We have a 4-hour window around that. I know what I need to do if I don’t hear from him within that time.

A few random questions:

What's your favorite wilderness activity?
I do like hiking and I do like to flyfish with my hubby. But I like to go in and out. Spending a night in the forest is not something that calls to me.

Do you have any pets?
Do kids count? Kidding. I have a goldendoodle who is smarter than me

If you could go back in time and tell your younger self one thing, what would it be?
Have faith that you will end up where you are supposed to be.

Cake or pie and what kind?
Grace would say, Moon pies. 
For me, I would say both. I love a good pecan pie but enjoy cheesecake and birthday cake.

Thanks so much for stopping by, Shelli! 

Find Shelli online:
S.R. Johannes on Facebook
S.R. Johannes on Goodreads
Untraceable on Goodreads
Author Blog: http://faeriality.blogspot.com
say "twee!"

23 November, 2011

Stick - Review

Stick by Andrew Smith
Publication Date: 11 October 2011 by Feiwel & Friends
ISBN 10/13: 0312613415 | 9780312613419

Category: Young Adult Realistic Fiction
Keywords: Dysfunctional family, abuse, redemption
Format: Hardcover, eBook

Warning: I will do my best not to swear in this review, but I just want to let you know that since I will be referring to, well, body parts, vices, and other things readers may find offensive; I am letting you know so you can turn back now. Go look at some bunnies or something.

Still with me? Ok, go:

22 November, 2011

Zombie In Love - Review

It's Picture Book Month and what better way to celebrate than with a review of a great new picture book? For more info on Picture Book Month, please go to the official site. Now onto the review!

Zombie in Love 
by Kelly DiPucchio (writer), Scott Campbell (illustrator)
Publication date: 23 August 2011 by Atheneum
ISBN 10/13: 1442402709 | 9781442402706

Category: Children's Picture Book
Keywords: Children's, zombies, love
Format: Hardcover, ebook

Thuy's review:

Mortimer is a lonely zombie looking for love. He tries everything he can think of to impress the ladies - from a box of delicious worms, a diamond ring fresh from the grave and even offers up a heart (newly deceased), but nothing works. What’s a ghoul supposed to do? Mortimer decides puts a personal ad in the local paper in the hopes that the perfect girl will see it. But does Mortimer’s dream girl show up at Cupid’s Ball or is Mortimer doomed to stalk the earth alone? 

I LOVE Zombie in Love! My friends will all tell you that I have a thing for zombies. I’m not sure what it is but I find them to be endlessly fascinating and zombies seem to be having a renaissance right now with the popularity of The Walking Dead and books like Warm Bodies and Ashes. However, these are all made for and older audience, leaving kids out of the zombie fun (yes, zombies are fun). Luckily for your children (and me), Kelly DiPucchio had the brilliance to write a zombie love story perfect for children and adults alike.

Zombie in Love is a sweet and funny love story full of quiet humor and visual gags and each page was a delight to read. The story is one that both children and adults will enjoy. Kids will undoubtedly like the gross factor of this book. There are plenty of hanging limbs, open wounds and protruding bones to giggle and poke fun at. There’s even a cute zombie dog and friendly worms to keep Mortimer company on his quest for love. Scott Campbell’s whimsical illustrations are the perfect compliment to DiPucchio’s story. I would be happy to read this aloud to a child and am, in fact, plotting to get a few copies as gifts for some recently born babies. This book is a great read for any child or zombie loving adult!

zombie art
A couple of months ago I went to the Scott C signing of Zombie in Love at Gallery Nucleus in Alhambra, CA. Scott was on hand to read the book aloud to a good size audience. The reading was followed by some interactive zombie drawing and a signing, finished off with a zombie prom party. There were some people dressed in really awesome costumes and a photo book was set up as well. Below is a small selection of pics form the event. For more photos, visit Nucleus' page here or go here to see all of the photos taken at the zombie prom photo booth.

scott c reading from zombie in love

drawing matilda
various incarnations of mortimer
look at that smile!
take a pic at the prom

brain cake (no i did not have any)

acting ridiculous
Thanks for stopping by. What do you think of Zombie in Love? Does it make you want to eat braaaaaaaaains?

You can find Kelly DiPucchio at www.kellydipucchio.com or on Twitter @kellydipucchio
 Find Scott C at www.pyramidcar.com or on Twitter @scottlava

19 November, 2011

ALAN 2011: Chicago

I'm out of here!

Just for a couple of days, actually. I'll be blogging and tweeting from the Assembly on Literature for Adolescents 2011 Workshop. It will be taking place Nov. 21-22 in Chicago, IL!

The Lineup for Monday

M.T. Anderson, Angela Johnson, Walter Dean Myers, Janet Tashjian, Sean Beaudoin, John Green, Matt de la Peña, Leslie Margolis, Andrew Peters, Sarah Weeks, Rita Williams-Garcia, Sarah Dessen, Lauren Myracle, Cheryl Rainfield, Andrew Smith, Paul Yee, Kazu Kibuishi, Abby McDonald, and Laurie Halse Anderson, Kristen Chandler, Matt de la Peña, Matthew Quick, Jordan Sonnenblick, Francisco X. Stork, Jennifer Nielsen 

Tuesday's lineup

Chris Crutcher, Cara Chow, Sharon Draper, J.L. Powers, Matthew Quick, Kenneth Oppel, Jennifer Donnelly, Neal Schusterman, Coe Booth, B.A. Binns, Simone Elkeles, Stephanie Perkins, Sara Zarr, Jay Asher, Carolyn Mackler, James Dashner, Megan McCafferty, Veronica Roth, Dom Testa, Katie Alender, Beth Fantaskey, Michelle Hodkin, Thanhha Lai, David Levithan

18 November, 2011

Twilight: Breaking Dawn Giveaway

Happy Breaking Dawn release day! Love it or hate it, you probably have an opinion about Breaking Dawn. Personally, it was my least favorite book out of the four and I think it's ridiculous that they've broken it up into two films. However, it's a tradition among my friends to get a group together to see the movies when they're released. I don't think they're great movies but they're fun and I always have a good time seeing them with my friends. And no, I do not have midnight tickets. We are going Sunday afternoon and I am really looking forward to it.  

So in the spirit of fun, we here at RNSL are hosting a Breaking Dawn Giveaway. One lucky winner will get the following goodies:

Breaking Dawn Hardcover
Twilight Deluxe CD soundtrack album
New Moon soundtrack album
Eclipse soundtrack album
Breaking Dawn soundtrack album

Another two winners will be picked to get Breaking Dawn CDs. That's 3 winners total. Following is not required though it's always appreciated. All you have to do is leave a comment with whether or not you love or hate Breaking Dawn and why.  Sorry, only open to U.S. residents. Good luck!

Follow more of Thuy's ramblings on Twitter @fishgirl182 and check out her adult book reviews on Nite Lite.

17 November, 2011

Shatter Me - Review

Shatter Me by Tahereh Mafi
Publication date: 15 November 2011 by HarperTeen
ISBN 10/13: 0062085484 | 9780062085481

Category: Young Adult Futuristic Dystopian
Keywords: Super powers, war, romance
Format: Hardcover, Kindle, audiobook

From goodreads:

Juliette hasn't touched anyone in exactly 264 days.

The last time she did, it was an accident, but The Reestablishment locked her up for murder. No one knows why Juliette's touch is fatal. As long as she doesn't hurt anyone else, no one really cares. The world is too busy crumbling to pieces to pay attention to a 17-year-old girl. Diseases are destroying the population, food is hard to find, birds don't fly anymore, and the clouds are the wrong color.

The Reestablishment said their way was the only way to fix things, so they threw Juliette in a cell. Now so many people are dead that the survivors are whispering war-- and The Reestablishment has changed its mind. Maybe Juliette is more than a tortured soul stuffed into a poisonous body. Maybe she's exactly what they need right now.

Juliette has to make a choice: Be a weapon. Or be a warrior.

Alethea's review:

I was very excited to meet Tahereh Mafi and pick up a copy of Shatter Me at the SCIBA 2011 Author Feast. Even more excited to read it, except for all the interference to my reading time caused by school. When I finally had a chance to curl up on a cloudy day and read it, my excitement waned a little, I have to confess.

The book starts out really well with a strong writing style and inventive strikethroughs. Unfortunately, as the story of Juliette starts rolling and more information came to light, I began to feel like I was stuck in an extended one-off episode of Heroes. And I am definitely not a Heroes fan. One of the characters says it best: everything is "awfully convenient." Big air-quotes.

I'm not saying you shouldn't pick this up. If you're a romance fan, you may literally need a fan for whenever the sparks really start to fly between Juliette and Adam. I know I had to shed a layer from my snuggie cocoon, even though it was like, 60 degrees in the apartment. The revelations closer to the end of the book do make me want to come back for more.

The book also earns a whole star just for the cover! I've been drooling over it for months, so even though it didn't deliver quite the punch I was expecting, I will definitely keep it on my shelf. Here's hoping the sequel will be a little more electrifying.

Visit the author online at www.taherehmafi.com and follow @taharehmafi on Twitter

11 November, 2011

Anna Dressed in Blood - Review

Anna Dressed in Blood by Kendare Blake
Publication date: 30 August 2011 by Tor Teen
ISBN 10/13: 0765328658 | 9780765328656

Category: Young Adult Horror
Keywords: Ghosts
Format: Hardcover, eBook

Kimberly's review:


Did I scare you?


Hmm, well I guess that's ok because I have got something that will Totally. Creep. You. Out.


And that, my friends, is
Anna Dressed In Blood.

Cas, a ghost hunter by trade and family connection, is given a tip that will change everything he has known. Given a tip from one of his sources, he is sent to a small town to confront the long suffering ghost they call Anna Dressed In Blood. An old and very strong ghost, Anna floats through the home she was killed in leaving a trail of blood that drips like water from her red stained dress. Cas doesn't think anything is special about this ghost until he tries to kill her. And then well, all hell breaks loose.

Rave reviews made me wary of this novel. How good could it be? It's a ghost story. I've read many a ghost story before. But no! While the general plot might sound contrived, once you start reading it, you'll see it's totally original. There are so many twists, turns, surprises and no one is safe. Let me repeat that. No. One. Is. Safe. From Anna.

Cas is a fantastically complex character. He is cut off from having any real friends, doomed to roam the earth killing ghosts as his father did before him. He only has his mother for company, until now. Now, he has adopted a band of misfits and unwilling ghost busters to help him kill Anna. Because he has to kill Anna. Doesn't he?

And Anna is equally as tortured and deep as Cas. Her story is not easy to hear and there is a wonderfully gross level of gore in this YA book. The writing is fast, fun and descriptions are so real, I had a lot of moments saying, "Eww. Gross." out loud.

I was given the book by my friend Alethea to review and I wanted to find out what the hype was about.
Half way through, I went to my local book shop and picked up my own copy.

Did I scare you now?
Thought so.

Find more reviews by Kimberly at The Windy Pages

Visit the author online at www.kendareblake.com and follow @kendareblake on Twitter. Thanks to Tor Teen for providing the review copy. We LOVED it!

10 November, 2011

The Marked Son - Review

The Marked Son by Shea Berkley
Publication date: 2 August 2011 by Entangled Publishing
ISBN 10/13: 1937044017 | 9781937044015

Category: Young Adult Fantasy
Keywords: Fantasy, fae, romance
Format: Paperback, eBook, Kindle (eBook sent for review from Entangled Publishing)

Click here to find more 3-star reviews on RNSL
Thuy’s synopsis:

Seventeen year old Dylan has never fit in. He has a hard time making friends and it doesn’t help that his emotional wreck of a mother uproots them whenever one of her relationships doesn’t work out. After one such breakdown, she brings him to her childhood home and abandons him with his grandparents. There, Dylan’s recurring dreams of a beautiful girl in white return. She’s haunted his dreams since he was a child, always appearing when he needs her the most. Then one night, he sees a ghostly figure in the forest and finds out that not only is his dream girl real but she’s from another world parallel to his own. Together, they embark on a mission to save both his world and hers.

Thuy’s review:

I actually passed on this book when I first saw it. With his gray hoodie and pensive stare, the cover model reminded me of Eminem. No offense to Eminem but a paranormal YA novel featuring someone who looks like him did not pique my interest. However, when the publisher reached out to RNSL and asked us to review the book, I decided to give it another chance.

I liked this book a lot more than I thought I would. While far from perfect, it had a good mix of adventure, fantasy and romance. Dylan’s had a really hard upbringing. His mother is very selfish and seems a little mentally unstable and I am almost relieved when she leaves, even though it’s heartbreaking. He’s learned to fend for himself emotionally. Dylan’s grandparents are great - caring and understanding in the face of having to suddenly care of a teenage boy. I didn’t like Dylan much at first. He’s often sullen and moody. While I feel for him, he uses his crappy childhood as a crutch, blaming all of his own bad behavior on it. As the story goes on, Dylan makes some friends though and opens himself up to his grandparents. Once he gets rid of the chip on his shoulder, he’s much more likable and I really liked the relationship he ends up having with his grandparents later on.

Kera, our heroine, is a rebellious teen from the fairy like kingdom of Teag, which has been overrun by the oppressive Navar. She is brave but not always smart. She keeps sneaking out and often trusts the wrong people. I was annoyed with many of the adult characters in Kera’s world because it seemed like they were more interested in saving themselves than protecting her or standing up for what’s right. Instead, they leave it up to a teenage girl and her friends.

Kera and Dylan’s romance is sweet and intense. They start professing their love almost immediately after meeting. I understand that they’ve been in each other’s dreams for years but I wish I knew more about how this dream connection started and what they talked about during the dreams. Instead we’re supposed to believe that they both feel this all consuming love after meeting in person just once. Yes, I know this happens in romances all the time but sometimes you just need a little more to make it believable. I also found it a little unbelievable that Dylan’s friends would so easily accept his new powers and would be ready to risk their lives for the cause so quickly.

While I enjoyed this book I felt that there was something missing. I am not sure what it was. At the end of the book I was still unclear about some things. Who exactly are the First and what do the Keepers of Light do? Are Kera and her people fairies or do they have a name for their kind? This book clearly left room for a sequel and I am guessing that many of these questions will be answered in the next book.

Overall I didn’t love this book but I am glad that I read it. There were a lot of unique characters and the beginnings or a very rich fantasy world. I can see this appealing to many people. Fans of fantasy and those who like love stories about soul mates will probably like this book. Don’t let Eminem on the cover deter you from giving it a shot. :)

Visit the author online at www.sheaberkley.com and follow @sheaberkley on Twitter. For more reviews by Thuy (say "twee"!) visit http://rnslnitelite.blogspot.com.

09 November, 2011

Legend - Review

Legend by Marie Lu
Publication date: 29 November 2011
ISBN 10/13: 0316074039 | 9780316074032

Category: Young Adult Contemporary Fantasy
Format: Hardcover (received an ARC for review at Comic-Con)
Keywords: Dystopian, futuristic, romance, sci-fi

Thuy's review:

Dystopian young adult novels are big these days, and it seems like you can't turn around without stumbling over one. However, Marie Lu has put her own twist on the genre with her engaging and fast paced debut novel, Legend

The United States has been torn apart and two factions are at war, the Republic and the Colonies. June, a child prodigy, has been groomed by The Republic to be one of its elite soldiers and is on her way to an illustrious military career. Day is the Republic's most wanted and elusive criminal.

When June's brother is murdered and the crime pinned on Day, she embarks on a manhunt to find Day and avenge her brother's death. However, not everything is black and white, as June soon finds out.

The book alternates between June and Day's first person perspectives. I am usually wary of this type of narrative as it often feels gimmicky and unnecessary. Happily this was not the case with Legend and I like the way each of their points of views propelled the story forward. I found myself liking both Day and June a lot. Both are extremely loyal and have a deep commitment to their families. 

It's great to see a character like June who is not only smart but also a great fighter. She is not someone I'd want mad at me. And despite his reputation, Day is all heart, constantly looking out for his family and friends. Lu also writes some great action sequences.There are plenty of chases and fights to keep the reader entertained. 

The only thing that keeps this book from a 5 star rating is that, because of the fast pace and the focus on June and Day, little time is left to explore the other facets of the world. There are so many things I want to know more about but only get glimpses of. What does the government really want with Day's brother and what is the goal of their biological experiments? What were the events that led up to the division of the United States?

Perhaps Lu is saving some of this for the next book in the series but I would have liked to have seen a little more world building in this one. That said, I really enjoyed Legend and am looking forward to the next installment of the series.

I received this book free of charge from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. This, in no way, affected my opinion or review of this book. 

Visit the author at http://www.marielu.org and @Marie_Lu on Twitter.