31 January, 2012

Author Event - A Reading with Popcorn and YA Writers

Last week, Alethea and I along with our friend Kate hightailed it downtown after work to catch the Reading with Popcorn and YA Writers event at The Last Bookstore in downtown Los Angeles. If you've never been, The Last Bookstore is a great little store in a really cool building that is part book store and part gallery. It's mostly books but there are art installations throughout the store. Anyway, we made it there in record time and only missed Cecil Castellucci's talk (sorry, Cecil! next time, we'll try harder to beat the traffic).

It was an interesting event. The authors showed a trailer from a couple of movies that were relevant to their books first. Then they spoke a bit about the books and read an excerpt. Then they showed a longer clip from each film. All of the authors were great fun and the clips were great. My favorites were from Rear Window and Dick. Check out our pics of the event below. 

These were some really cool book title posters that the store was selling. They're so clever and simple. From top left to right you have, Pinocchio, The Three Little Pigs, Rapunzel, Hansel & Gretel, Goldilocks and the Three Bears and Mary Poppins.

fave of this set it little red riding hood on top right

Crickett Rumley spoke about her book, Never Sit Down In A Hoop Skirt. Crickett is super funny and had the cutest southern accent. She said that her book was inspired by a true event involving her friend and a society similar to the one in her book. 

Carol Tanzman reads from her book dancergirl. I think she showed my favorite clips. Carol's a very animated speaker and uses her hands a lot. :) 

Janet Tashjian with her son Jake (who illustrated her book) talks about My Life As A Stunt Boy. Jake held up illustrations to emphasize what Janet's point. Hearing her talk about Parkour made me think of The Office episode with Parkour in it. See YouTube clip

a pretty good crowd for this event

Pic of all of the authors answering questions at the end. There's Cecil making an appearance. There were a lot of questions about how the authors got started and what other kinds of books they had written. They talked about the YA genre a bit as well. All in all, a very interesting and fun panel. 

Also in attendance was author Ann Stampler, whose website Alethea just redesigned. We also ran into the lovely Sophia from Sophia The Writer. Sophia is super fun and I am hoping to see her again soon and meet her dog, Terry (hint, hint). 

That's it for our brief recap. If anyone was there at the event and wants to add anything, please do in the comments. Thanks for stopping by!

say "twee!"

You can find the Popcorn and YA writers at 

Beep and Bah - Review

Beep and Bah by James Burks 
Publication date: 1 March 2012 by Carolrhoda Books
ISBN 10/13: 0761365672 | 978-0761365679

Category: Children's Picture Book
Keywords: Robot, Animals, Sounds, Onomatopoeia
Format: Hardcover, eBook (e-ARC received from Netgalley)

Alethea's review:

Beep and Bah showcases James Burks's animated style with humor, animal noises, and that age-old mystery: where's the other sock? Beep and Bah traipse through a colorful landscape, meeting lots of friendly (and some not-so-friendly) animals along the way. Parents and children will have fun reading this out loud and making all the animal sounds, from oinks and baaaaa!s to underwater gurgles. I'm looking forward to someday showing off my impressive repertoire of chicken clucks (thanks to years of watching Arrested Development).

There aren't many words to read apart from Beep's dialogue and the various noises (like when Beep takes a tumble down a steep hill--CLANK! CLANK!), but the storytelling doesn't suffer. Kids below reading age will have no problem figuring out what's going on. I see the potential for a lot of laughter when readers become engaged in the sock hunt. The contrast between Beep's gung-ho and Bah's oh-no attitudes  are pretty funny.

I really love James's graphic style, and lots of kids will be able to see elements of his art in other projects that he's worked on like Wow Wow Wubbzy. They might even be inspired to pick up a pencil and try their hand at drawing the characters! I sure was.

You can find out more about James Burks at his website, jamesburks.com and follow @jamesburksart on Twitter. You can also check out his previous book, Gabby and Gator, a graphic novel which is also a Read Across America selection. You can also see the artist in action during my pal Aly's school literacy cafe!

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.

29 January, 2012

Spin - Review

Spin by Catherine McKenzie
Publication date: 07 February 2012 by HarperCollins
ISBN 10/13: 0062115359 | 9780062115355

Category: Young Adult Realistic Fiction
Keyword: Music, Writing, Celebrities, Guilt, Addiction, Rehab
Format: ebook, paperback

Kimberly's synopsis:

Katie Sandford has a little problem. She's thirty years old and finally gets her dream job interview: to work for The Line, a music magazine. But the morning of the interview comes and she bombs! Why? Could be the serious drinking she did the night before. But redemption is here! In the form of... Rehab?
Katie must go undercover at a rehab clinic to get close to a celebrity known as TGND "The Girl Next Door". If she can get the scoop and write an expose on this "IT" Girl, then she'll get a chance at the position at The Line. Katie accepts, but doesn't know what it will cost her.

Kimberly's review: 

I really enjoyed this book. Katie's voice is strong and hilarious. The writing reminds me of Bridget Jones's Diary. Funny, personal and blatantly honest, Katie struggles through her time at rehab. At first, I thought she just had a bit of bad luck. But after reading further, Katie's character morphs into something more. She doesn't realize that this was probably the best place she could be--not for the story, but for herself. Katie's own self destruction is uncomfortable and frustrating to watch, another reason you can't put it down. Through the entire book, I was rooting for Katie, and you will too!

I wasn't sure what to make of her target, Amber T.G.N.D. Spoiled, damaged and suffering, her character's depth becomes more apparent as you read on. And Henry is... blush-worthy.

I'm surprised that this is considered YA. The protagonist is thirty years old, and all of her friends are older as well. The writing flows effortlessly across the page, but I'm still hesitant to call it Young Adult. Well written, I stayed in and read all day. I wanted to know what would happen: with Amber, with Henry, with the expose. Start reading Spin in the morning, because you won't put it down until it's done.

Visit the author online at www.catherinemckenzie.com and follow her on Twitter @CEMcKenzie1

For Yara

Please consider giving to a fund for my fellow blogger, Yara from OnceUponATwilight.com, who lost her house in a fire while attending ALA Midwinter Meeting in Dallas, TX. :(

I learned about this tragedy from The Story Siren (link goes to more info)--thank goodness her family is safe, but they basically lost everything they had!

Please take a moment to donate and spread the word. 

In My Mailbox (2)

Another crazy week in books!

In My Mailbox is a meme hosted by The Story Siren

Here's what I got:

ARCs for review:
172 Hours on the Moon by Johan Harstad
Buried by Linda Joy Singleton
BZRK by Michael Grant
Caddy's World by Hilary McKay
Fall For Anything by Courtney Summers
The Fourth Stall, Part II by Chris Rylander
A Greyhound of a Girl by Roddy Doyle
Kill Switch by Chris Lynch
Loss by Jackie Morse Kessler
The Peculiars by Maureen Doyle McQuerry
Protection for Hire by Camy Tang
Rock On by Denise Vega
Secret Letters by Leah Scheier
Small Medium at Large by Joanne Levy
Starters by Lissa Price
The Storyteller by Antonia Michaelis
The Storm Makers by Jennifer E. Smith
There Is No Dog by Meg Rosoff
The Whispering House by Rebecca Wade
Zombie: A Novel by J. R. Angellela

Bought: Fracture by Megan Miranda

Downloaded: The John Carter of Mars collection (public domain)

Actually, I bought more books, but they're not here yet :/ Next week!

I have to say one thing now that I have told you what I got. Bloggers are getting flak again for giving away ARCs--this kind of backlash usually happens right around ALA or BEA, which are two of the very large annual conferences centered around books and literacy. I already know this is going to sound like I'm protesting too much, because I want to separate myself from the type of blogger that would misuse an ARC, which frankly, I do. But I want to clarify my stance and it's too long to tweet--so, here's my two cents on bloggers, ARCs, and ALA.

26 January, 2012

Young Adult Giveaway Hop - Fracture

Young Adult Giveaway Hop
January 27th to 31st

Today, we are giving away a signed ARC of Fracture by Megan Miranda! The prize has no cover art, just a plain blue cover. You are getting the ARC because, frankly, the cover is gorgeous and even though I had one I could not resist buying a finished one. I suspect I will be buying more as gifts, as well (and hey, if you don't win and are looking for a signed copy, you should call up Vroman's Bookstore in Pasadena, CA--they should have some signed stock!)

From Goodreads:

Eleven minutes passed before Delaney Maxwell was pulled from the icy waters of a Maine lake by her best friend Decker Phillips. By then her heart had stopped beating. Her brain had stopped working. She was dead. And yet she somehow defied medical precedent to come back seemingly fine—despite the scans that showed significant brain damage. 

Everyone wants Delaney to be all right, but she knows she's far from normal. Pulled by strange sensations she can't control or explain, Delaney finds herself drawn to the dying. Is her altered brain now predicting death, or causing it?

US and Canada only, please! The winner will be chosen randomly and announced on the Rafflecopter widget on Feb. 1. Don't forget to visit all the other fantastic blogs on this hop for more chances to win YA books!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Happy Hopping!

25 January, 2012

Best Fiction for Young Adults

YALSA's Best Fiction for Young Adults 2012 list is out now! 

I have read 19 of the titles, and own another 31 (yikes! I'd better start reading more...)

Two readers can each win one of the books by posting a comment below, answering the question:

Which book on the BFYA 2012 do you want to read the most, and why?
Incomplete answers and Rafflecopter entries without a comment will not be counted! US/Canada only, please.

Here's the list you can choose from (you don't have to comment about the book you want to win; I will email the two winners and let them choose their prize)

Dreamland Social Club by Tara Altebrando
I am J by Chris Beam
Chime by Franny Billingsley
Strings Attached by Judy Blundell
Queen of Hearts by Martha Brooks
Bitter End by Jennifer Brown
Ten Miles Past Normal by Frances O'Roark Dowell
Huntress by Malinda Lo
Exposed by Kimberly Marcus
Anna and the French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins
This Thing Called the Future by J. L. Powers
Between Shades of Gray by Ruta Sepetys
Jasper Jones by Craig Silvey
Out of Shadows by Jason Wallace
Blood Red Road by Moira Young

Contest ends February 1. Please use Rafflecopter to give me your contact info--don't leave your email address in the comments!

Just for fun, if you're on Facebook you can take this poll to count up the books you've read that are on the list. Some of the books are missing since FB only allows 100 items on the poll.

Good luck to all who enter!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

23 January, 2012

ALA Midwinter Awards 2012

None of us got to go to the ALA Midwinter Meeting in Dallas, but we're very excited about the award winners that were announced today!

A huge round of applause goes to John Corey Whaley for Where Things Come Back, which won the Printz Award (in addition to the Morris!) You can tweet him congratulations @corey_whaley.

Jack Gantos won the Newbery with Dead End in Norvelt. Once again, the Newbery was not even on my radar! 

You can find the rest of the Youth Media Awards as well as video coverage of the announcements here at ala.org. The Press Release with a list of all the awards and honors on one page is here

Congratulations to all the winners! Were any of the winners on your list? Comment below or tweet @frootjoos.

Upcoming Jan Events: Fracture & The Future of Us

Hi, everyone. Just stopping by with a quick post to let you know about some of the upcoming events in the SoCal area.  

Megan Miranda signs Fracture

Wed., Jan 25 at 6:00 pm at Vroman's Bookstore
695 E. Colorado Blvd, Pasadena CA 91101

Megan Miranda is signing her book Fracture at Vroman's Bookstore in Pasadena this coming Wed. The RNSL team will be there along with some of our friends. If you see us, please say hi!

Jay Asher & Caroline Mackler sign The Future of Us

Tues., Jan 24 at 7:00 pm at Mrs. Nelson's Toy and Book Shop
1030 Bonita Ave, La Verne CA 91750

Wed., Jan 25 at 7:00 pm at Once Upon a Time Bookstore
2207 Honolulu Ave, Montrose, CA 91020

22 January, 2012

In My Mailbox (1)

I don't do memes all that often, but this week was a great book-acquisition week for me, so here goes!

In My Mailbox is a weekly meme hosted by Kristi at The Story Siren. It gives book bloggers the chance to share what they’ve bought/borrowed/received!

Received for review:
The Fourth Stall Part II by Chris Rylander

You might not get the joke if you missed The Fourth Stall (which was basically The Godfather, but for elementary school ;), but I was really tickled to find this in my mailbox recently. I hope to read it this week!

Thanks, Walden Pond Press!
Borrowed from library:
The Name of the Star by Maureen Johnson

Reading this for the YA Book Council's February meeting. I didn't like the snippet of it I heard on Audible.com, otherwise I probably would have gotten it on audio. I never thought I'd say this, but there's just too much to read this month!
The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer by Michelle Hodkin

I've been lusting after this for ages, especially since a lot of my blogger friends were getting the ARC last summer. It's OK though--I finally bought it, and it looks lovely!

Bought at Once Upon a Time in Montrose

The Near Witch by Victoria Schwab

I already have this on Kindle, but it's not quite the same as having the book in your hand--especially with that great eye-candy cover!

Bought at Dark Delicacies in Burbank (ever-so-slightly not-family-friendly website ;)

Never Sit Down in a Hoop Skirt and Other Things I Learned in Southern Belle Hell by Crickett Rumley

It was totally IndieBound support week, this week. I attended the Popcorn and YA Writers event at The Last Bookstore in L.A. and could not resist picking this up! Sounds hilarious, and I love listening to Crickett talk.
Bought for a gift:
Dancergirl by Carol M. Tanzman

I've actually already read this on my Kindle--it was a good book, and better yet, my ex-cheerleader/dancer cousin is going to dig it. I'll have to get my own copy later when I have cash again!

Bought at The Last Bookstore in Los Angeles
Approved on Netgalley:
The Fairy Ring by Mary Losure

I'm reading another story based on this tale, so I thought I'd snag this eGalley and compare a bit.

What's in your mailbox? 

21 January, 2012

Touch of Power US Giveaway

But wait, there's more!

US residents may not enter the International Giveaway but you CAN enter to win a signed copy of the US paperback for Touch of Power.

NON US RESIDENTS PLEASE DO NOT ENTER THIS GIVEAWAY. Check the previous post for an International Giveaway of the UK or US paperback for Touch of Power

There is one mandatory entry and the rest are optional. You can also tweet every day for more chances to win! Last day to enter is Jan 29. The winner will be chosen randomly and announced via Rafflecopter on Monday Jan. 30. Good luck to all!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Touch of Power International Giveaway

Hey all! You may have seen the podcast post where we kicked off Maria V. Snyder's Touch of Power blog tour. The US one is now over, but the international one is just getting started! You can check out current blog tour details at Maria's blog, officialmariavsnyder.blogspot.com.

Well, we're so excited about her new novel that we're giving away a copy of Touch of Power, to be shipped somewhere in the world by bookdepository.com! You can pick the US or the UK cover (I'm a little biased and think the UK one is the best!)

US residents, DO NOT ENTER THIS GIVEAWAY. Check the next post for a US-only giveaway of TOP.

There is one mandatory entry and the rest are optional. You can also tweet every day for more chances to win! Last day to enter is Jan 29. The winner will be chosen randomly and announced via Rafflecopter on Monday Jan. 30. Good luck to all!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

17 January, 2012

Going Dark

Okay, I'm under no illusion that RNSL gets more than a few hundred hits per day, or that we will massively affect the fight against SOPA. But I don't want to hurt it either by sitting around doing nothing. It's censorship, and it's not here to help us.

By midnight Tuesday we'll be closed, until Thursday morning. Please call or email your congressperson and tell them SOPA sucks!

just for LULZ, go to >> http://theoatmeal.com/sopa <<

A Reading with Popcorn and YA Writers - Event

The title is kind of clunky, but it's at one of my new favorite places to go: The Last Bookstore in Los Angeles. (No, it's not literally the last bookstore in LA, but it may as well be.)


Cecil Castellucci

Carol Tanzman

Janet Tashjian

Crickett Rumley

According to the store's website, popcorn will be provided. You can RSVP for the event on Facebook! See you there :)

On The Bright Side Blog Tour: Author Interview with S.R. Johannes

Hi, everyone! Welcome to one of the blog tour stops for S.R. Johannes and her new middle grade/tween angel novel, On The Bright Side. Shelli's been very busy. Her YA novel, Untraceable, was released last year and On The Bright Side will be released on January 31.

On the Bright Side is a hilarious road to guardian angeldom paved with so much drama and due-paying that it makes middle school look painless.

As if the devil’s food cake at her wake and the white fat pants she’s stuck wearing for eternity weren’t bad enough, fourteen year-old Gabby is quick to discover that Cirrus, the main rung of Heaven, is a far cry from the Pearly Gates. Here, Skyphones and InnerNets are all the rage. Until Gabby finds out she has to protect Angela, her school nemesis, in order to move up through the training levels of heaven. Problem is, Angela is now hitting on Gabby's should-have-been boyfriend. (awkward!)

Instead of protecting Angela, Gabby pranks her (like tripping is a sin?) at the hopes of cooling off the new couple. At first, they seem harmless until the school dance sabotage gets completely out of control. Then, her Celestial Sky Agent, who happens to have anger management issues of his own, puts Gabby on probation, threatening her eternal future.

Determined to right her wrongs, Gabby steals an ancient artifact that allows her to return to Earth for just one day. Without knowing, she kicks off a series of events and learns what can happen when you hate someone to death.

Look for On The Bright Side on January 31 - available in ebook at Amazon, B&N and other online booksellers formats (ISBN: 978-0-9847991-1-4).
Now, on to the interview!

Gabby's stuck wearing white pants for eternity since that's what she died in. Describe an outfit that you might have been wearing for eternity had you died at the same age.
Jeans and flip flops. Though if I was an angel - it might be hard to fly with flip flops on.

Did you have a nemesis at Gabby's age?
Doesn't everyone? But I can't name who it was for fear of being unfriended on facebook ... :)

What's the best thing you remember about being 14? The worst?
Worst? That's easy -  I moved to atlanta and had to make new friends in middle school. Can you imagine? 
Best? I think I did have my first kiss. But I don't know if that classifies as "best" :)

Do you believe in guardian angels?
Yes. Absolutely. I have seen things that make me know something is watching over all of us. What or who - I don't know. But I definitely believe we go on to something more.

If you could choose someone to be your guardian angel, who would it be (in this case since it's all hypothetical, they don't actually have to be dead). 
Um I'm going for the head honcho and saying Jesus. Why ask for anything less. :) Surely he's got some pull in the prayer department. I mean don't you feel like his prayers get moved up in the inbox? Daddy's boy and all? He sure deserves it.  Yeah I'm going for Jesus all the way. Though Elvis would be cool too.
Now we have some fun, random questions for Shelli.

If you could invite any 5 people to dinner, who would you choose?
Oprah, Steve Jobs, Ghandi, Dali Lama, Joan of Ark.
Maybe Brad Pitt or Keanu Reeves – but that would be for breakfast - ha!!

What is one book everyone should read?
The Prophet by Kahil Gibran.

What is your favorite flavor of ice cream?
Magnum chocolate bars – Think ice cream with a layer of caramel with a layer of crunchy
chocolate with another layer of caramel with another layer of crunchy chocolate.

Night owl, or early bird?
Night owl – definitely NOT early bird.

One food you would never eat?
Any kind of organ. Especially liver (though I have nightmares of my parents making me when I
was little (shivers).

Hidden talent?
I can sing.

What movie and/or book are you looking forward to this year?
Hunger Games

Thank you so much for stopping by today, Shelli! Please look out for On The Bright Side at the end of the month and check out The Story Siren on Wednesday, January 18 for the exclusive cover reveal for On The Bright Side.

Find S.R Johannes online:

Author Blog

Will Grayson, Will Grayson - Review

Will Grayson, Will Grayson by John Green and David Levithan
Read by MacLeod Andrews and Nick Podehl

Publication date: 6 April 2010 by Brilliance Audio

ISBN 10/13: 1441842608 | 9781441842602

Category: Young Adult Realistic Fiction

Keyword: Young adult, realistic, musicals

Format: Hardcover, eBook, audiobook

From Goodreads:

One cold night, in a most unlikely corner of Chicago, two teens—both named Will Grayson—are about to cross paths. As their worlds collide and intertwine, the Will Graysons find their lives going in new and unexpected directions, building toward romantic turns-of-heart and the epic production of history’s most fabulous high school musical.

Hilarious, poignant, and deeply insightful, John Green and David Levithan’s collaborative novel is brimming with a double helping of the heart and humor that have won both them both legions of faithful fans.

Thuy's Review:

Will Grayson, Will Grayson is the epic tale of two very different young men named Will Grayson, the ironically named and infinitely fabulous Tiny Cooper, one very gay high school musical, and what happens when they all collide. At times funny and poignant and always honest, this book made me want to laugh, cry, and break out in song.

Will Grayson, Will Grayson is told from the point of view of, you guessed it, Will Grayson(s). OWG (Original Will Grayson) lives in Evanston where he goes through life trying his best to 1) Shut Up and B) Not Care. Will’s afraid of what might happen to him if he starts caring about things and has decided not to risk it and hides behind a wall of apathy. 

I admit that I was somewhat frustrated by Will at first. He never wanted to seize the moment or say what was on his mind and he ends up missing out on life. As the story goes on, though, he starts to get some backbone and I really started to like Will. He has a deep seated loyalty to Tiny and cares much more about things than he first lets on. 

The Other Will Grayson is an angry and depressed teen who is struggling to come to terms with himself. This Will Grayson goes through the most growth in the book and, through the miracle that is Tiny Cooper, learns to open himself up to the possibility of love, or at least, really, really like.

And what review of of Will Grayson, Will Grayson would be complete without mentioning Tiny Cooper? Tiny is a big, fabulous force of nature. Like a tornado or a tsunami, he just can’t be stopped. Outrageous and often completely self-absorbed, Tiny is infuriating but also extremely kind, generous and lovable. He manages to see the best in people and finds joy in everyday life.

Obviously I didn’t read the print version of this book but I think I can confidently recommend the audiobook over print. MacLeod Andrews and Nick Podehl are both fantastic readers. They truly brought all of the characters to life and gave a distinct voice to each one (not literally though they did do some actual “voices” for the characters). There's singing of the music theater variety in this book. A lot of it. Normally I would find this cheesy but it's totally appropriate and awesome in this case. I can't imagine that reading the lyrics to the Tiny Dancer musical can compare to hearing the songs sung out loud at full volume. Andrews and Podehl put their hearts into it and belt out those songs. This is one of those audiobooks that actually made me want to sit in my car in park or drive around the block one more time so I could keep listening.

A story about friendship, love and taking chances, Will Grayson, Will Grayson is a must read.

Visit the authors online at johngreenbooks.com and davidlevithan.com. You can follow John on Twitter @realjohngreen and on Tumblr at fishingboatproceeds.tumblr.com. David doesn't tweet, but he's on Facebook.

You can find this book on audible.com, on AudioBookstand, and at your local library.

12 January, 2012

Where It Began - Widget

Just wanted to add that I made this nifty little countdown for Where It Began by Ann Stampler. You can grab the code below and add it to your blog or website!

<script type="text/javascript" src="http://cdn.widgetserver.com/syndication/subscriber/InsertWidget.js"></script><script type="text/javascript">if (WIDGETBOX) WIDGETBOX.renderWidget('386b3bda-1aea-45af-81a3-3ba69e108224');</script>
<noscript>Get the <a href="http://www.widgetbox.com/i/386b3bda-1aea-45af-81a3-3ba69e108224">Countdown Creator Pro</a> widget and many other <a href="http://www.widgetbox.com/">great free widgets</a> at <a href="http://www.widgetbox.com">Widgetbox</a>! Not seeing a widget? (<a href="http://support.widgetbox.com/">More info</a>)</noscript>

If you do use it, please email me (frootjoos at gmail dot com) and let me know your URL so I can link back! :)

Visit annstampler.com/ya

The Emerald Atlas - Review

The Emerald Atlas (The Books of Beginning #1) by John Stephens
Audiobook read by Jim Dale
Publication date: 5 April 2011 by Alfred A. Knopf Books for Young Readers
ISBN 10/13: 0307879763 | 9780307879769

Category: Middle Grade, Young Adult, Fantasy, Adventure
Keyword: Orphans, Adventure, Magic, Books
Format: eBook, audiobook, Hardcover

Kimberly's review: 

Kate, Michael and Emma stick together. One night, many years ago, they were taken from their parents under mysterious circumstances and shuttled away to live in various orphanages. Kate, the oldest, is really the only one who remembers their parents and it is her responsibility to take care of her two younger siblings. It's a good thing she does. Danger and mystery are around every corner and they only way they will survive is to stick together, and solve the mystery of The Emerald Atlas.

What an amazing adventure! I was swept away by the fantasy. The world the children explored was rich and dark, filled with dangerous creatures and larger than life foes. The characters were full of life. I loved the full voices of the dwarves and the sinister countess, who made my skin crawl every time she was spoken about. I fell in love with Gabriel, cringed from the Secretary and wished to have a drink with Wallace the Dwarf. Oh, wait, you mean they're not real? Huh, seemed real to me.

This well woven story is not to be missed. I was pleasantly surprised by how intricate the plot was, how much attention to detail was given to each character. The writing is fantastic, drawing you in immediately and not letting go.

I listened to the audiobook read by Jim Dale. In fact, I was going to buy the hardcover but decided on the audiobook because of Jim Dale, who you may recognize as the voice from the television show Pushing Daisies. He is also the reader on all of the US Harry Potter audiobooks. (The UK ones are read by Stephen Fry.)

Fantastic reader--wonderful story. Don't miss it.

Check out more of Kimberly's reviews at thewindypages.com and follow her on Twitter @thewindypages.