31 August, 2012

Cinder and Ella - Review


Publication date: 1 Nov 2011 by Bonneville Books
ISBN 10/13: 1599559064 | 9781599559063

Keywords: Fairy Tale Retelling, Family, Sisters
Category: Young Adult/Middle Grade
Format: ebook, Hardcover
Source: Netgalley


Kimberly's review:

I love retellings of my favorite fairy tales, so I've been wanting to read Cinder and Ella for a while. Cinder and Ella are so close and dependent on each other, that their own family can't tell them apart. When Cinder begins working in the castle, Ella becomes unrecognizable to her family without her other half. Heartbroken, Ella wanders away, searching for a new home and people who will appreciate her. But the castle has dark forces at work and the sisters become the unfortunate target of the handsome, but not so nice prince.

I really like Ella. She's clever, smart and thoughtful. Even in dangerous situations, the girl is a fighter, and I love how strong she is. On the other hand, Cinder is wholesome, good and trusting. Which, honestly, annoyed me to no end. I know, I know. Maybe I'm just cynical. But Cinder is so sweet and pure, she can't even see the evil Prince is, well, evil. I mean really, Cinder? This is me virtually slapping some sense into you. There.

The writing is sweet, and the style is light and I breezed through this book. I kept wanting to know what happened. The story read like a fairy tale. It is so easy to get swept up in the adventure. Coming in below 300 pages, this super sweet and short tale is perfect for a light read. I especially love the mythology about the trees and how each person has a tree, and it's tied to them. When Cinder and Ella's father runs away, they have a feeling he is still alive because his tree is still alive. Looking worse every year, but alive. And this gives them hope.

But why only three stars you ask? I have a couple of problems with the plot and conclusion of the book. While the ending is tied up rather nicely, Cinder and Ella's family is so selfish and mean, the ending doesn't bring any closure for me. Also, and I won't give it away, the motivations behind some of the characters, especially in the royal family, feel hollow and flimsy.

Overall, Cinder and Ella is a fast, clever retelling of the classic Cinderella story. I think a lot of readers will enjoy Ella and Cinder's adventures.


*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. 



Find the author online at www.authormelissalemon.com and on Facebook.

You can find more reviews by Kimberly at www.thewindypages.com and tweet her @TheWindyPages.

29 August, 2012

The Adventures of Pete and Pete reunion with Polaris

DSC_0910DSC_0594DSC_0606DSC_0618DSC_0664DSC_0672
DSC_0682DSC_0692DSC_0696DSC_0699DSC_0702DSC_0703
DSC_0709DSC_0713DSC_0716DSC_0719DSC_0723DSC_0726
DSC_0727DSC_0732DSC_0734DSC_0737DSC_0738DSC_0744
So, not book-related, but anyone who loves story (and especially if you were too young or "too old" and missed its heyday) should check out the ol' Nickelodeon TV series The Adventures of Pete & Pete. It is arguably the best children's television dra-medy ever.

I went to the reunion show hosted by Cinefamily last night at the Orpheum Theatre in Los Angeles, and it was SO fun. They had the set dressed like the lawn from the opening credits and included not just the main characters but also some of my favorite secondary characters.

Best of all, Polaris, the band whose theme song for the show used to send me into fits of air guitar as a teenager, reunited for one night only and played fan favorites such as "Saturnine", "Summerbaby", "Waiting for October", and "Hey Sandy". They totally rocked!

I wish I hadn't gotten that last thing of beignets at Umamicatessen next door because the theatre was also serving adult "Orange Lazarus" and frosty treats from Mr. Tastee :/ I was too full! I will have to make some Blue Tornado Bars before summer is over.

If you're intrigued, check out the DVD sets for Seasons 1 & 2. Even with the horrible production quality of the recording (it looks like someone taped it off their TV in the mid-90s and they recorded it again while it played it on another TV) you can't beat the mix of "funny, sad, strange, and beautiful" stories that Will McRobb and Chris Viscardi produced.

My friend Katie had a really great seat up front thanks to our friend Christina (who is a huge fan and supporter of Cinefamily) and took these great photos.

I'm glad she did that because we were up in the mezzanine and I couldn't even have gotten a decent picture of the back of Teddy's head (Dave Martel) up there. It was dark.

I took this one, as did about 300 other hipsters
The Adventures of Pete & Pete ran from 1993-1996 and starred Hardy Rawls (Don Wrigley aka Dad), Judy Grafe (Joyce Wrigley aka Mom), Allison Fanelli (Ellen Hickle), and Toby Huss (Artie), with Michael Maronna and Danny Tamberelli as the titular brothers Pete.

Aside from the show's creators, director Katherine Dieckmann, and the main players, guest stars Syd Straw (Math Teacher Miss Fingerwood), Rick Gomez (Endless Mike Hellstrom), and Damian Young (Bus Driver Stu Benedict) spoke during the reunion panel.
The third season has not been released due to issues at Paramount, but episodes can be found on YouTube. For more on Pete & Pete check out the fan-made site at http://pnp.norecess.org/.

27 August, 2012

Pushing the Limits - Giveaway (US/CAN) and Q&A With Katie McGarry


Publication Date: 31 July 2012 by Harlequin Teen
ISBN 10/13: 0373210493 | 9780373210497
Synopsis:

No one knows what happened the night Echo Emerson went from popular girl with jock boyfriend to gossiped-about outsider with "freaky" scars on her arms. Even Echo can't remember the whole truth of that horrible night. All she knows is that she wants everything to go back to normal. But when Noah Hutchins, the smoking-hot, girl-using loner in the black leather jacket, explodes into her life with his tough attitude and surprising understanding, Echo's world shifts in ways she could never have imagined. They should have nothing in common. And with the secrets they both keep, being together is pretty much impossible.

Yet the crazy attraction between them refuses to go away. And Echo has to ask herself just how far they can push the limits and what she'll risk for the one guy who might teach her how to love again.




I haven't actually gotten a review copy of this book yet, so until then, here's a Q&A with Katie McGarry from HarlequinTeen.

A Q&A With Katie McGarry

Q: What was your inspiration for writing Pushing the Limits?

A: I had two main inspirations: One, I knew from the beginning that I wanted to write a story in which my characters felt strong enough to leave their pasts behind and create new futures for themselves. The first scene I ever saw in my mind was Echo and Noah leaving town after graduation. Two, I wanted to write two characters who were facing over- whelming issues and who, through battling these issues, found hope at the end of their journey.

Q: How did you come up with Echo’s name?

A: Echo went through several name changes as I wrote the man- uscript. For a while, she had a very normal name, but it alwaysfelt off. It wasn’t until I looked at Echo from her mother’s point of view that I found her name. Echo’s mother loved Greek my- thology so it made perfect sense that she would name her chil- dren after the myths. I read several Greek myths and the mo- ment I found Echo’s, I fell in love. Echo, to me, was the girl who lost her voice. Thankfully, she finds it by the end.

Q: Which character is the most “like” you?

A: All of them. I gave each character a piece of me (though some have larger slices of me than others). Overall, I’d say I’m a strange combination of Echo, Lila and Beth. Echo has my need to please, Lila has my unfailing loyalty to my friends and Beth encompasses my insecurities.

Q: Did you experience friendships with Grace types when you were in high school?

A: Yes. And the more people have read this story, the more this question comes up. Grace has struck a stronger nerve in people than I ever would have imagined. It seems most of us have un- fortunately experienced a relationship where a person wants to “like” you and wants “be your friend,” but only if it serves their needs. In case anyone is wondering, that isn’t friendship.

Q: Are there any parts of the story you feel particularly close to?

A: Yes. The relationship between Noah, Isaiah and Beth. Beyond my parents and sister, my nearest family members were over fourteen hours away. My friends became my family. The peopleI grew up with were more than people I watched movies with or talked to occasionally on the phone. These were people with whom I shared life’s most devastating moments, but also my hardest laughs. These were people who I would have willing- ly died for and I know they would have done the same for me. They shared my triumphs with smiles on their faces and con- gratulatory hugs. They held me when I cried and offered to beat up whoever hurt my feelings. These were also the same people who were more than happy to get in my face if they thought I was making a wrong decision.

Q: Did anything that happens to Echo happen to you?

A: Sort of. I was bitten by a dog when I was in second grade and repressed the memory. It felt very strange to have no memory of an incident that other people knew about. It was even strang- er to have injuries and not have an inkling where they came from. In college, I finally remembered the incident when a dog lunged at me. I relived the horrible event and sort of “woke up” a few minutes later to find myself surrounded by people I loved. Even though I “remember” the incident, I still don’t remember the whole thing. I only see still frames in my mind and there is no blood in any of the memories.

Thanks for reading the interview, and thanks to HarlequinTeen for providing a giveaway copy! Enter using the Rafflecopter widget below. None of the entries are mandatory, but you must do at least one to enter! US/Canada only, see the bottom of the widget for the rest of the fine print.

*FTC disclosure: While I am an Amazon/Barnes & Noble/Indiebound affiliate, none of the links in this post are formatted with my affiliate ID, so only the BookDepository link, if clicked, may result in revenue for this blog.



25 August, 2012

Mars + Books


I have to work today so instead of an review, here's my cat and some books.

What?

:)

24 August, 2012

Author Event - Girls' Nightmare Out Tour + Giveaway

raffle table

Hello. friends!  Last week I was able to go to the Girls' Nightmare Out Tour with Kendare Blake (Girl of Nightmares), Marta Acosta (Dark Companion) and Lisa Desrochers (Personal Demons) that was hosted by Mrs. Nelson's Books. I always love going to Mrs. Nelson's because they have a great selection of books and the staff is always super nice. I left pretty early for this event because it's not very close to my house. I made good time and got there about half an hour early. It gave me some time to check out the decor of the store.

lovely display


Then the authors arrived and the panel started. Each of them started out saying a bit about their books. Marta Acosta wrote Dark Companion as an homage to Jane Eyre. She was inspired by Jane's strength and perseverance. Kednare Blake said that though Anna is the catalyst in her books, the journey is for Cas. Lisa Desrochers said that she had a lot of fun writing a book about an angel and a demon named Lucifer and Gabriel. She wanted to use the obvious names because, if someone named Lucifer told you he was a demon, would you believe him?

contemplating their answers

When asked whether any of them had ever had any backlash for their books, all of them answered in the affirmative. Lisa said that she's been criticized for many things in her books. She said that people criticized her for letting her heroine kiss both an angel and a demon. She has also been criticized for giving her a heroine the power over both heaven and hell. Her books have been called cliched, but Lisa doesn't mind and has lots of fun playing with those cliches. Kendare has been called both anti-feminist and racist (whoa!). Marta says that people have told her that her heroine is a terrible role model. But Marta said that Jane isn't meant to be a role model. She's a real teenager who isn't perfect and makes mistakes. 

Asked which character they liked writing best:
Marta: Mary Violet
Kendare: She knows Cas best but has the most fun writing Thomas.
Lisa: Grandpa

Then it was raffle time!

sadly, i did not win.

haha - authors with the raffle winners.

I had a really fun time. Thank you, Mrs. Nelson's for another wonderful event. If you want to see a few more pics, feel free to visit our Facebook album for the event.

And since we love you, dear readers, we're going to give you a chance to win and ARC of Dark Companion signed by Marta Acosta. I will also throw in some really cool iPhone decals of each author's books. I am too lazy to take a pic but you can kind of see them in the raffle table pic at the top of this post.

Rules:
  1. No purchase necessary. None of the entries are mandatory, but you have to do at least one to enter.
  2. Open to people with mailing addresses in the United States and Canada. 
  3. One set of entries per household please. 
  4. If you are under 13, please get a parent or guardian's permission to enter, as you will be sharing personal info such as an email address. 
  5. Winner will be chosen randomly via Rafflecopter widget after the end of the day on July 31, 2012. 
  6. Winner(s) will be contacted by email within 24 hours after the giveaway ends. 
  7. Check out our Policies page if you have any more questions or feel free to shoot us an email - readnowsleeplater@gmail.com

a Rafflecopter giveaway





23 August, 2012

The Little Woods - Review


Publication date: 10 July 2012 by Schwartz & Wade
ISBN 10/13: 0375869433 | 9780375869433

Category: Young Adult Fiction
Format: Hardcover, ebook
Keywords: Camp, Murder, Mystery


Kimberly's synopsis:

Calista Wood arrives at St. Bede's Academy half way through the year. She's been granted a free ride, but there's more than school on her mind. Ten years ago, her sister and another girl mysteriously vanished outside this school. Now Calista is back, searching for answers to her sister's disappearance.

Kimberly's review:

I'm sorry to say I didn't care for this book. While the opening chapter hooked me in, I felt pretty lost through the beginning half of the novel. Callie enters the boarding school with hope that this prestigious school will help her get into a better college. Within the first few chapters, many different characters are introduced, none of them very memorable.

I liked Callie's spunk and the dialogue was fast and fun at times. But for all of that, when confronted with her peers, Callie didn't feel complete to me. The story starts moving about half way when a body is found in the woods behind the school. It's not her sister's, but it starts a chain reaction that leads Callie to investigate everyone around her.

Her boyfriend Alex, is bland. The other boy she's interested in, Jack, is a little richer, but the relationship is so lukewarm for so much of the book, it's hard to see him as a romantic lead by the time it does come around. Everyone else, including Queen Bee Helen and the mean girl groupies, were really hard to visualize.

I had a real problem with a lot of the relationships in the book. None of them seemed healthy, and by the end when everything is revealed, it's so distasteful, I imagine this prep school is run by Jersey Shore grads. For me, all of that took away from the overall mystery of the sister's disappearance. I really wanted to like this book, but the mystery left me flat and the school politics were cold.


You can find the author at www.mccormicktempleman.com.

Find more reviews by Kimberly at The Windy Pages.

22 August, 2012

Throne of Glass - Review


Publication date: 7 Aug 2012 by Bloomsbury USA Children's
ISBN 10/13: 1599906953 | 9781599906959
Goodreads | Amazon | B&N | Book Depository | Indiebound

Category: Young Adult Fantasy
Keywords: Fantasy, romance, competition, assassins, spirits
Format: Hardcover, eBook
Source: e-ARC received from Netgalley


Synopsis:

After serving out a year of hard labor in the salt mines of Endovier for her crimes, 18-year-old assassin Celaena Sardothien is dragged before the Crown Prince. Prince Dorian offers her her freedom on one condition: she must act as his champion in a competition to find a new royal assassin. Her opponents are men--thieves and assassins and warriors from across the empire, each sponsored by a member of the king's council. If she beats her opponents in a series of eliminations, she'll serve the kingdom for three years and then be granted her freedom.

Celaena finds her training sessions with the captain of the guard, Westfall, challenging and exhilirating. But she's bored stiff by court life. Things get a little more interesting when the prince starts to show interest in her... but it's the gruff Captain Westfall who seems to understand her best. Then one of the other contestants turns up dead... quickly followed by another. Can Celaena figure out who the killer is before she becomes a victim? As the young assassin investigates, her search leads her to discover a greater destiny than she could possibly have imagined.

Alethea's review: 

I did not expect reading Throne of Glass to be so laborious; I expected I'd fly through it like I did Robin LaFevers's Grave Mercy, or Leigh Bardugo's Shadow & Bone. Not so. It's not difficult reading in terms of language or complexity; it's more that I had trouble suspending my disbelief. This all stems from the most basic premise of the book: The King needs a champion; therefore the sponsors select as their candidates the meanest, baddest, scariest killers and sneakiest thieves in the land. Wait, what?

The entire time I kept asking, wouldn't it have been more believable to have the sponsors select the most shining paragons of valor and heroism from their military personnel and private bodyguards? So you could, you know, have them be in the same room as the King or Crown Prince or important people you don't want dead without having to slap the heavy duty chains or hiding all the silver? Why choose people least likely to honor a contract?

If you really had such a great military already that the infamous Adarlan's Assassin won't bother running away because you could easily hunt her down, why do you need her to try to win this contest? Just hire the guy she's afraid of and send her back to the salt mines already!

Not talking specifically about any one candidate, I get that a true champion might not be willing to overlook morality in favor of a nice fat paycheck for doing the King's dirty business. But I also don't understand how the King might think it's a good idea to let loose upon the land an unscrupulous rogue who might have reason to disagree with the King's own politics, since some of the people vying for the position hail from countries he very recently conquered? In my mind, the King was the villain of the piece from the get-go, and he could have been craftier about selecting a champion. Why not rope some honorable and respected warrior into the job by letting him think he's really defending his king and country, then corrupt him with wealth and power or threats against the people he loves? For most of the book, I could not shake how backwards it all was in my mind. I couldn't justify people's motives and that made for a very slow, torturous read (with lots of breaks to go play with my new kitten, who has claws like freshly sharpened knives).

This book is not entirely without merit. Some of the secondary characters are well drawn and even likeable. I really enjoyed Celeana's friendship with another female who is, like herself, an outsider. The love triangle develops gradually enough not to be jarring, though Celeana mooning over Crown Prince Dorian still had me rolling my eyes often. I think fans who are new to fantasy and have not already read lots of it will really enjoy this book. Inexperienced noobs, you win this round.

Overall, I found the story derivative and not terribly well-plotted. I don't think the elements that I deemed derivative were intentionally copied; I just think the author is very much a fan of fantasy and that her debut ended up reading like a big fanfic mashup of some of my favorite fantasy worlds. I felt that Maas was pandering to her audience too much with Celeana and Dorian's book addiction. Also, if someone can please tell me the significance of the title, I'd dearly love to know what it was. It took me a week to read this book and that little bit of trivia still managed to elude me. While I wasn't completely disappointed, Throne of Glass was still quite a let-down, and I hesitate to read the sequel.

*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 online at www.sarahjmaas.com and follow her on Twitter @SJMaas

*FTC disclosure: I participate in the BookDepository affiliate program. Clicking on the link and making a purchase may result in revenue for this blog. I also participate in Indiebound, Amazon, and Barnes & Noble affiliate programs but the links from this post do not contain my affiliate code.

21 August, 2012

You Are My Only - Review


Publication date: 25 October 2011 by Egmont USA
ISBN 10/13: 1606842722 | 9781606842720

Category: Young Adult Realistic Fiction
Keywords: Kidnapped, Mother/Daughter relationships, Family, Trapped
Format: ebook, Hardcover


Emmy Rane is very young and unhappily married to a mean man. The only bright spot in her life is her Baby. Baby is her love, her life, her four month old child. And one day, when she's on a swing, Emmy goes inside to grab a blanket. And comes back to find Baby gone.

Sophie is home-schooled, works hard for her rigid mother and never gets to meet anyone or go out and play. She has no friends and spends all of her days studying. That is, until one day she meets a neighborhood boy and everything changes. Sophie begins to question everything about her lifestyle, her mother and herself.

You Are My Only is a beautifully written story about love, family and loss. Kephart's switching between Emmy's point of view and Sophie's point of view is flawless and leaves the reader wanting more. Emmy's voice is very strong. Her emotional response to her missing child seems real and heartbreaking. As she plummets deeper and deeper into despair, Emmy's journey takes on a few unexpected turns.

In contrast, Sophie's voice is equally strong, but in a different way. She's curious, suspicious and cautiously optimistic as she begins to explore the world outside of her home. As Emmy's life is spiraling down, Sophie's life is building up. She makes friends, disobeys her mother and starts to learn more about herself in the process. For me, the best part of reading this book were the strong narrations and the changing of point of views. This kept the story flowing quickly and easy. And the ending is perfect.

Take a chance and read You Are My Only, a well-written and emotional book.


Find the author online at beth-kephart.blogspot.com and follow @BethKephart on Twitter.

Find more reviews from Kimberly at The Windy Pages.

20 August, 2012

Marceline/MARS

Meet Marceline, The Vampire Queen #codename MARS. #kitten #nofilter #instacats #instapets #adventuretimeMomma didn't want me on her foot. #nextbestthing #sock #kitten #sleeping #instacats #instapetsPreferred sleeping position 1: On Momma's big toe #whyismyfoothot? #kitten #sleeping #instacats #instapets #cute but a little #disturbingMarceline the Vampire Queen, aka MARSMarceline the Vampire Queen, aka MARSMarceline the Vampire Queen, aka MARS
Marceline the Vampire Queen, aka MARSMarceline the Vampire Queen, aka MARSMarceline the Vampire Queen, aka MARSMarceline the Vampire Queen, aka MARSMarceline the Vampire Queen, aka MARSMarceline the Vampire Queen, aka MARS
Marceline the Vampire Queen, aka MARSMarceline the Vampire Queen, aka MARSMarceline the Vampire Queen, aka MARSMarceline the Vampire Queen, aka MARSMarceline the Vampire Queen, aka MARSMarceline the Vampire Queen, aka MARS
Marceline the Vampire Queen, aka MARSMarceline the Vampire Queen, aka MARSMarceline the Vampire Queen, aka MARSMarceline the Vampire Queen, aka MARSMarceline, The Vampire Queen, aka MARSMarceline, The Vampire Queen, aka MARS
Marceline/MARS, a set on Flickr.
So part of being disenchanted with blogging also involved being totally enchanted with my new kitten. I promise new blog posts starting tomorrow, but for now, here's Marceline! MARS! MARS! Come here, kitty kitty!