31 January, 2014

Monsters - Audiobook Giveaway

Ilsa J. Bick is running a giveaway for the audiobook version of the last book in The Ashes Trilogy, Monsters! Enter below. You can also check out Ilsa's blog for a Goodreads giveaway for her upcoming novel, White Space (Dark Passages, Book 1). The Ashes Trilogy audiobooks are read by my all-time favorite voice talent, Katherine Kellgren. You can listen to a sample below. 

a Rafflecopter giveaway

About Ashes (Book 1):

It could happen tomorrow . . .

An electromagnetic pulse flashes across the sky, destroying every electronic device, wiping out every computerized system, and killing billions.

Alex hiked into the woods to say good-bye to her dead parents and her personal demons. Now desperate to find out what happened after the pulse crushes her to the ground, Alex meets up with Tom—a young soldier—and Ellie, a girl whose grandfather was killed by the EMP.

For this improvised family and the others who are spared, it’s now a question of who can be trusted and who is no longer human.

Author Ilsa J. Bick crafts a terrifying and thrilling post-apocalyptic novel about a world that could become ours at any moment, where those left standing must learn what it means not just to survive, but to live amidst the devastation.

About Shadows (Book 2):

The Apocalypse does not end. The Changed will grow in numbers. The Spared may not survive.

Even before the EMPs brought down the world, Alex was on the run from the demons of her past and the monster living in her head. After the world was gone, she believed Rule could be a sanctuary for her and those she’d come to love.
But she was wrong.

Now Alex is in the fight of her life against the adults, who would use her, the survivors, who don’t trust her, and the Changed, who would eat her alive. 

Welcome to Shadows, the second book in the haunting apocalyptic Ashes Trilogy: where no one is safe and humans may be the worst of the monsters.

About Monsters (Book 3):

The Changed are on the move. The Spared are out of time. The End...is now.

When her parents died, Alex thought things couldn't get much worse-until the doctors found the monster in her head.

She headed into the wilderness as a good-bye, to leave everything behind. But then the end of the world happened, and Alex took the first step down a treacherous road of betrayal and terror and death.

Now, with no hope of rescue-on the brink of starvation in a winter that just won't quit-she discovers a new and horrifying truth.

The Change isn't over.
The Changed are still evolving.
And...they've had help.

With this final volume of The Ashes Trilogy, Ilsa J. Bick delivers a riveting, blockbuster finish, returning readers to a brutal, post-apocalyptic world where no one is safe and hope is in short supply.

A world where, from these ashes, the monsters may rise.

You can find out more about Ilsa at www.ilsajbick.com.

Cress - Review

Cress (The Lunar Chronicles, Book 3) by Marissa Meyer
Publication Date: 4 February 2014 by Feiwel & Friends
ISBN 10/13: 0312642970 | 9780312642976

Category: Young Adult Fantasy
Keywords: Space, Fairy Tale Retelling
Format: Hardcover, ebook, Audio CD
Source: ARC from Publisher

Kimberly's Review:

Okay, if you haven't started reading The Lunar Chronicles, then stop reading this right now. Mild spoilers ahead. Be forewarned.

Oh, you're still here? Okay then! Let's continue on!

We started out with dear Cinder, who is on a mission to save her beloved Prince Kai from falling into the enemies hands, aka the Lunar Queen. On her journey, in the last installment of this series, we met a streetfighter named Wolf and a tough headstrong girl named Scarlet. Cinder, imprisoned and ready to be sent to the Lunar Queen, is about to break out of jail.

Cinder escapes jail with Captain Thorne and picks up Wolf and Scarlet along the way. They finally come into contact with a girl named Cress, who has lived in this space station the last seven years of her life. They are about the rescue her when... Nope. I'm stopping there.

Obviously, there's a lot going on in Cress. If you haven't read the previous books in the series, start at book one. This isn't one of those series you can pick up in the middle.

Cress and Captain Thorne are actually quite refreshing characters. Cress, having been on the space station for so long with no one for company but A.I. and the occasional evil captor who visits her, is reasonably sane. I like her bashfulness, her sometimes naive thoughts. She's very different from both Cinder and Scarlet, but she doesn't come across as too young or bothersome. I like how innocent and sweet she is.

Captain Thorne is quite a character too. He's somewhat full of himself, but not tortured. He knows he's dashing and isn't afraid to use it to his advantage. Their dialogue was flirty and fun and again, very different from the other duo of characters. This really made the book for me. Too many times are more couples introduced and their relationships are similar to the rest. Not these two.

And while I liked their adventure, I have to admit, I thought the story was too disjointed. And here is where I stress to not jump in the middle of this series. There are multiple plots woven here. Before we even reach half way through the book, the characters split up, causing so many different story lines, it is frequently hard to tell which one is the main one. Maybe for some this is good, but to me it lessened the emotional attachment I felt towards Cress and Captain Throne. Jumping back and forth so often through the different narratives pulled me out of the book.

This also may be the reason that, while I liked Cress and Captain Thorne fine, I was still way more interested in Wolf and Scarlet, the couple from the previous book. There's some drama that goes on there, but I am sad to admit that I more eager to read about them than the two main characters.

Looking back at the book, Cress and Captain Thorne's adventure is quite fun. They are in danger, stranded, survive a crash, walk the desert. It's got romance and adventure and overall, I liked how their characters grew. I just wish their story was more in the forefront.

Cress could have been a great book but suffers from middle book syndrome. Too many characters, too many story lines and not enough of the main couple. So much happens though it's hard to not realize what the intention is all along- getting the reader ready for the fourth and last book in the series.

And this reader can't wait to see how it ends.

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.marissameyer.com and on Twitter @marissa_meyer.

You can find more reviews by Kimberly at thewindypages.com and follow her on Twitter @thewindypages.

Monthly Book Geek Button - Giveaway

Hello, lovely readers! 

Welcome to a new monthly feature. I'm going to be giving away two sets of 12 book geek buttons from my Etsy store. You can check out my items at readnowsleeplater.etsy.com

Series 1
The giveaway ends when the next one begins. I will pick 1 International winner and 1 United States winner, so make sure you enter on the correct Rafflecopter widget.

Series 2
The winner will be able to pick from any of the available designs and colors. 
Comment below--which are your favorites?

Series 3
This is my newest set of designs. I can't help it--I love little hipster mustaches.

Color choices
I added a lot of color choices too. I think teal, leaf, and rose are my favorites right now.

Enter to win below! I hope you like my shop, and if you're ever in need of cute little buttons. I accept custom orders as well. (If you want to open your own shop, I'd appreciate it if you click my referral link before you sign up for one! :) And remember, even if you don't win, you can come back next month to try again.

If you decide you want to make a purchase instead, you can use the coupon code RNSLFEB1 to save 14% off any order over $2.00. Happy 2014, readers!

24 January, 2014

Some Bookish Trailers

Hello and happy Friday! To make this Friday even merrier I am sharing some recent bookish trailers with you. I am not usually a huge fan of book trailers but they are kind of fun when it's a series you like. I mean, as long as they're not terribly cheesy. Luckily these are all quite good. Enjoy!

Into The Still Blue by Veronica Roth - I have only read the first book in this series and really liked it so I am looking forward to catching up. 

The Uninvited by Sophie Jordan - I like the newreel at the beginning of this and it's a pretty creepy concept. Also, is it more or do voiceovers in book trailers always seem to speak really slowly?

Fortunately, The Milk by Neil Gaiman - This book's been out for a little while but I just saw this trailer. Looks quite cute. I need to get this one.

Passionaries by Tonya Hurley - I just got both of the books in this series and they are soooo pretty. I think the vibe of this trailer matches what I think the atmosphere of the books is like.

And one last non-bookish trailer for the Veronica Mars movie. I am extremely excited about this one and cannot wait for it to come out. Team Logan all the way!

Have a great weekend, everyone!

19 January, 2014

Stacked (15)

My $20 loyalty credit was available at Once Upon a Time in Montrose, so this week I picked up Sex & Violence by Carrie Mesrobian. It's highly recommended by Andrew Smith, whose writing I greatly admire. If you haven't already, check out Thuy's Manicure Monday post for this book over on our sister site, Nite Lite Book Reviews.

I swore I wasn't going to request anything on Netgalley this year, but let's face it. I'm weak.

  • Second Star by Alyssa B. Sheinmel (Farrar, Straus and Giroux BYR, May 13)
  • The Summer Invitation by Charlotte Silver (Roaring Brook Press, May 20)
  • I Kill the Mockingbird by Paul Acampora (Roaring Brook Press, May 20)
  • One Man Guy by Michael Barakiva (Farrar, Straus and Giroux BYR, May 27)
  • Hungry by H.A. Swain (Feiwel & Friends, June 3)
  • My Last Kiss by Beth Neal (Farrar, Straus and Giroux BYR, June 10)
  • The Body in the Woods by April Henry (Henry Holt & Co., June 17)

That's it for me! What books did you get this week?

17 January, 2014

Getting the Words Out (4)

A weekly post about writing and life in general

How do you begin?

I keep telling myself I will write some short stories, that I will review these books I have finally read now that I've overcome a reading slump. I will knit this sweater or sew this skirt or bake these cookies. I'm going to draw more and paint. Gosh, I'd love to paint.

I keep planning to finish this fuzzy hat I've been knitting (and have already ripped out once) that I started in October. I get halfway and stop.

Seriously, how do you begin?

I feel like it used to be easy:

Gather necessary materials
Research steps 
Decide on a course of action
Go! Do! Make!

Nowadays I feel like I get to step 2, make a pile of the stuff that I need, then get another great idea and move on to that. 

I seem to be great at moving on.

Maybe what I should be asking is how do you finish something you started? Don't go look at my "currently reading" shelf on Goodreads right now, because I seriously seem to have a problem finishing things, even books that I really really enjoy and can't bear to abandon.

Don't tell me to make a list. You know what happens to lists? I write things down then I forget to read the list, or it goes into a pile and resurfaces months later, when I exclaim, "oh hey! what a great idea" and then I put it in another pile of stuff I'm going to do just as soon as I finish this other project I already started...

I sometimes think I would have conquered the world by now, if only I'd make up my mind to begin.

I already know what you're going to say...

16 January, 2014

Book Events in Pasadena, CA - Jan 2014

Do you live in the Pasadena area? We have a couple of great book events lined up in the area!

These events are free to the public.

First off, we're having another Book Swap! This is open to families, so please bring whatever books you would like to trade them for others.

Family Book Swap

Where: Pasadena Public Library, 285 East Walnut Street Pasadena, CA 91101 [ MAP ]

When: Saturday, February 1, 11 am - 1 pm. Please ask the main desk if you cannot find us right away, as the library may choose to move us from one location to the other. 

What: Bring at least one book in good condition, then pick up anything at the swap that you would like to take with you. There is no one-to-one rule for swapping; we usually just go by the honor system. Anything from picture books to middle grade, YA and adult books are welcome. 

Books left over from the event will either go to the library bookstore or to a school in need. Items that cannot be used for either will be recycled.

RSVP is not necessary but would be appreciated! Call (626) 744-4066, option 4 or email Jane Gov at jgov@cityofpasadena.net and make sure you mention the Family Book Swap.

YA Book Club

Adults and teens are welcome to join the YA Book Club discussions.

Click here for more teen programming from Pasadena Public Library

To join the group, call (626) 744-4066, option 4 or email Jane Gov at jgov@cityofpasadena.net.

Meetings will take place at the Central Library in Teen Central (top floor).

Wed. Jan. 29 @ 7-8:30 pm -- The Fault in Our Stars by John Green
Thur. Feb. 20 @ 7-8:30 pm -- Divergent by Veronica Roth
Thur. Mar. 27 @ 7-8:30 pm-- Legend by Marie Lu
Wed. Apr. 30 @ 7-8:30 pm -- TBA
Wed. May 28 @ 7-8:30 pm -- TBA

For more programs for teens in Pasadena, click here.

YA Book Council Open Book Group Meeting

Last but not least, make sure you email jane@yabookcouncil.com if you plan to join us for our March open book group meeting (date, time, and location TBD -- usually in the Pasadena or Glendale area). The next selection is Steelheart by Brandon Sanderson!

Hope to see you around at some of our events!

Stacked (14)

Dear reader, 

You have no idea how liberating it is to have a working "k" key again. I'm back to writing about books and not "boos". The keyboard on my Macbook has gone wonky and thanks to a good friend with the hookups, I can type again without resorting to weird cut-and-pasting.

So I'm a bit later than usual, but here's what I got this week:

The F-It List by Julie Halpern
Asylum by Madeleine Roux
A Girl Called Fearless by Catherine Linka (2014 debut)

Already owned, but now signed:

Confess! How many of you readers refer to him as Handsome Ransom? :P That Tahereh Mafi is one lucky lady (and he in turn, is a lucky guy to have her). They're on YouTube now and also in last weekend's LA Times.

Ransom Riggs at Barnes & Noble, The Grove Los Angeles - Jan 14, 2014

More new arrivals:

Hollow City by Ransom Riggs (also a signed first edition, first printing)
The Junction of Sunshine and Lucky by Holly Schindler - we're on the blog tour for this next month.

Also, just for kicks, I updated the photos for my book geek buttons. <3 If you feel like making a purchase anytime between now and Feb 28, 2014, head over to readnowsleeplater.etsy.com and use the coupon code RNSLFEB1 to get 14% off any purchase over $2.00.

That's it for me! What books did you get this week?

15 January, 2014

The Scar Boys by Len Vlahos - Blog Tour, Guest Post, and Giveaway (US ends 1/22)

Make sure you read to the end for the full blog tour schedule and giveaway!

The “Superpower Song”

When I was six years old, Santa brought me a two-octave Magnus organ. Encased in dark brown plastic, with a whirring fan that was louder than the music produced by pressing any of its twenty-five keys, the organ was, to me, a gift from heaven.

I started making music that day and haven’t stopped since. While I have always written (I love books so much that I built my entire professional career in publishing), it has been music fueling the very beats of my pulse for as long as I can remember.

So then, it was with incredible glee that I accepted an invitation from the creators of Read Now Sleep Later, to discuss the “Superpower Song.” What is the one song over the course of your life—or maybe more than one—that, when you hear it, gives you superpowers?

Before I reveal my top three, let’s talk a little bit about the whole concept of a “superpower song.” I personally think of this more in terms of X-Men than, say, Superman. Each X-Man (really, X-Person) has his or her own special power—a crippling touch, crazy fire eyes, and, of course, metallic claws and unlimited healing powers. The musical superpower song is, to me, just the same.

Rather than thinking of a single song (or musical experience) that gave me all encompassing powers, many different songs come to mind, each tapping into a different part of my psyche. Here’s are my top three superpowers and their concordant songs:

Shooting lightning from my fingertips (pure “want-to-dance-and-scream-and-shout” adrenaline): R.E.M.’s “It’s the End of the World.”

I once got a speeding ticket in New Jersey because I was driving twice the limit while this song was on the radio. I didn’t realize just how fast I was going until the policeman pulled me over. The excuse of “But it’s R.E.M.,” didn’t work with the cop. The lyrics, each line piled on top of the one that preceded it, the infectious chorus with the great backing vocals, the whole thing just gets me moving. (I love this video clip, mostly because of the frenetic energy of the crowd.)

Shield of armor (sanity and stability): Johnny Cash and Hank Williams Jr.’s “That Old Wheel.”

I discovered this song during a period in my life when I was adrift, when I was feeling blue. The “it will all be okay” message resonated with me like no other has before or since. It’s the one song I turn to when I need strength, when I need to know that I’m really all right. (While I can’t find a live version of Johnny Cash and Hank Williams, Jr., I love this version. I stumbled across it on YouTube. Thank you Internets.)

Power to Heal (“lump-in-my-throat” feelings of love and intimacy): Joe Jackson’s “A Slow Song.”

The very first time I heard this song, I heard it live, at a Joe Jackson concert as part of New York City’s fabled “Concerts on the Pier” series. (They weren’t fabled at the time.) The performance was big, it was cinematic. When I bought the album—Night and Day—the next morning, I played that track over and over and over again. Best of all, this song is actually about the transformative superpower of a slow song at the end of a long day.

And one bonus superpower, Happiness (yes, happiness): Woofing Cookies’ “Leaving on a Jet Plane.”

Okay, I’m kind of cheating here. You may or may not know that the backdrop for The Scar Boys, my debut YA novel, is based on my own experience in playing in Woofing Cookies, a 1980s punk-pop band. We did an interesting cover of Peter, Paul, and Mary’s “Leaving on a Jet Plane.” To this day, thinking about playing that song, with those guys, brings a smile to my face. The performance in the video is the quintessential Cookies. So there you have it...my take on superpower songs. What are yours?

About the author:

Len Vlahos is the Executive Director of BISG (Book Industry Study Group) and the former COO of the American Booksellers Association, where he worked for the past 20 years. Len has also worked in numerous bookstores, was an on-air personality for a commercial radio station in Atlantic City, and worked for a time for Internet marketing guru Seth Godin. THE SCAR BOYS is his first book. You can visit him online at www.lenvlahos.com and on Twitter @LenVlahos.

About the book:

A severely burned teenager. A guitar. Punk rock. The chords of a rock 'n' roll road trip in a coming-of-age novel that is a must-read story about finding your place in the world...even if you carry scars inside and out.

In attempting to describe himself in his college application essay--help us to become acquainted with you beyond your courses, grades, and test scores--Harbinger (Harry) Jones goes way beyond the 250-word limit and gives a full account of his life.

Read the full description on Goodreads.

Blog Tour Schedule

Mon, Jan 13 - I Read Banned Books
Tues, Jan 14 - Guys Lit Wire
Wed, Jan 15 - Read Now, Sleep Later
Thurs, Jan 16 - The Book Monsters
Fri, Jan 17 - Teenreads.com
Mon, Jan 20 - The Compulsive Reader
Tues, Jan 21 - Mother Daughter Book Club
Wed, Jan 22 - A.L. Davroe
Thurs, Jan 23 - Adventures in YA Publishing
Fri, Jan 24 - Geo Librarian

11 January, 2014

Afterparty - Review, Blog Tour, and Giveaway (INTL ends 1/18)

Welcome to our stop on the Afterparty Official Blog Tour!

Visit the blog tour schedule from Jan 7-18 and beyond as we post reviews and other great material from Ann Redisch Stampler's latest YA novel. There's a huge giveaway for the book and related swag as well, so make sure you read all the way to the end!

About the book:

Emma is tired of being good. Always the dutiful daughter to an overprotective father, she is the antithesis of her mother—whose name her dad won’t even say out loud. That’s why meeting Siobhan is the best thing that ever happened to her… and the most dangerous. Because Siobhan is fun and alluring and experienced and lives on the edge. In other words, she’s everything Emma is not.

And it may be more than Emma can handle.

Because as intoxicating as her secret life may be, when Emma begins to make her own decisions, Siobhan starts to unravel. It’s more than just Dylan, the boy who comes between them. Their high-stakes pacts are spinning out of control. Elaborate lies become second nature. Loyalties and boundaries are blurred. And it all comes to a head at the infamous Afterparty, where debauchery rages and an intense, inescapable confrontation ends in a plummet from the rooftop…

This explosive, sexy, and harrowing follow-up to Ann Redisch Stampler’s spectacular teen debut, Where It Began, reveals how those who know us best can hurt us most.


Alethea's Review:

I love a good bad-girl, I do. If I can live a thousand lives vicariously through reading, I'd rather relate to the bad girl over the good girl, not because good girls are boring, but because they are a known quantity. I crave something new and different, but still safe--something I can tuck back between the covers of a good book when I'm done with it. A good bad-girl is just the thing--likeable, but wild, just the right kind of chaotic element to make an equation add up to something a little unexpected. And when you're done with her, just close the book.

Emma Lazar has no such luxury, however. She craves the new and different, stepping out into the hot Los Angeles haze, leaning away from her father's overprotective shadow and towards the bright, sparkling beacon of fun that is Siobhan Lynch. As Emma's friendship with Siobhan grows, her relationship with her father begins to falter. With an uninhibited partner in crime, Emma begins to change, and not necessarily for the better.

Afterparty explores the life of the good girl, the bad girl, and all the gray areas in between them. Emma agonizes over her identity: is she Emma the Good, taking insanely perfect notes and following her moral compass to an unequivocal North? Or is she Emma the Bad Seedling, as the handsome but perhaps untrustworthy Dylan Kahane calls her: lying, sneaking out, with moral compass spinning wildly out of control? Is she her (junkie, derelict, deceased) mother's daughter, despite all the effort she and her father put in to avoid just such an outcome?

Evenly-paced, snarky, and bursting with bad decisions, Afterparty is a fascinating and highly entertaining addition to contemporary realistic YA fiction. I highly recommend it!

About the Author:

Where it Began marked the YA debut of Ann Redisch Stampler. She is the author of several picture books, including The Rooster Prince of Breslov. Her books have been an Aesop Accolade winner, Sydney Taylor notable books and an honor book, a National Jewish Book Awards finalist and winner, and Bank Street Best Books of the Year. Ann has two adult children and lives in Los Angeles, California with her husband. Afterparty is her second YA novel.


Thanks to Ann and Simon & Schuster for the giveaway!

3 winners will receive a copy of Afterparty

1 lucky winner will receive all of the swag shown here! 

For a complete description visit Jean Book Nerd. Enter using the Rafflecopter widget below!

Must be 13+ to Enter
International Giveaway

09 January, 2014

Missed Connections - Getting the Words Out (3)

A weekly post about writing and life in general

I'm gonna level with you--2013 was a bad year for blogging. I don't pretend to speak for anyone else, just me. Not only was I in a pretty solid reading funk most of the year, but I reviewed almost nothing! I also lost a lot of momentum on the podcasts I had wanted to record and publish. I really feel bad about these connections I failed to make, and with your help, I hope I can mend them.

I actually had 3 podcasts recorded in the last year that I really had a hard time editing. I live next to a freeway, which doesn't help--no matter what I try to do to block the sound out of my apartment, I can't get these crazy noises off the recordings. I've even tried recording in the hallway with towels and other dampening contraptions to help muffle the sound, but I need something better than a makeshift recording booth. To be honest, I don't have any fancy equipment, and the non-fancy equipment I do have is breaking down (I am actually typing this entire thing without a "k" key). 

So I feel really terrible, because these awesome authors spent time talking with me, and I never ended up posting their interviews :( I might still transcribe and post them. I also missed one post for a book I was supposed to promote in October. Sometimes, I know I should just admit defeat. I have written to these authors to apologize. I don't think I will be doing any interviews or podcasts again until I figure out how to a) record them without all the fuss and noise or b) how to not spend 30 hours editing a 30 minute podcast. 

For now though, I really want to pass on some of the promised, but missed, publicity on to them. I hope you take a second to peruse their books, add them to your Goodreads shelves, and follow them on their social media channels. For your part, you could win their books!

I will choose two winners -- yes, two! -- and the giveaway is open internationally. The winners can choose 1 book apiece from any of the titles featured below. For Ilsa J. Bick's Ashes trilogy, they may pick any of the three books (Ashes, Shadows, Monsters).

Read on for more info, and please do check out the authors.

The Planet Thieves is the first thrilling installment of a new middle-grade series by Dan Krokos.

Two weeks ago, thirteen-year-old Mason Stark and seventeen of his fellow cadets from the Academy for Earth Space Command boarded the SS Egypt. The trip was supposed to be a short routine voyage to log their required spacetime for summer quarter.

But routine goes out the airlock when they’re attacked by the Tremist, an alien race who have been at war with humanity for the last sixty years.

With the captain and crew dead, injured, or taken prisoner, Mason and the cadets are all that’s left to warn the ESC. And soon they find out exactly why the Tremist chose this ship to attack: the Egypt is carrying a weapon that could change the war forever.

Now Mason will have to lead the cadets in a daring assault to take back the ship, rescue the survivors, and recover the weapon. Before there isn’t a war left to fight.

Add this book on Goodreads
Follow Dan on Twitter and Facebook. He also has a Tumblr.

A Trick of the Light by Lois Metzger

Mike Welles had everything under control. But that was before. Now things are rough at home, and they’re getting confusing at school. He’s losing his sense of direction, and he feels like he’s a mess.

Then there’s a voice in his head. A friend, who’s trying to help him get control again. More than that—the voice can guide him to become faster and stronger than he was before, to rid his life of everything that’s holding him back. To figure out who he is again. If only Mike will listen.

Telling a story of a rarely recognized segment of eating disorder sufferers—young men—A Trick of the Light by Lois Metzger is a book for fans of the complex characters and emotional truths in Laurie Halse Anderson’s Wintergirls and Jay Asher’s Thirteen Reasons Why.

Add this book on Goodreads
Follow Lois on Twitter and visit her website at www.loismetzger.com

A Thunderous Whisper by Christina Diaz Gonzalez

Ani believes she is just an insignificant whisper of a 12-year-old girl in a loud world. This is what her mother tells her anyway. Her father made her feel important, but he's been off fighting in Spain's Civil War, and his voice in her head is fading. Then she meets Mathias. His family has just moved to Guernica and he's as far from a whisper as a 14-year-old boy can be. Ani thinks Mathias is more like lightning. A boy of action. Mathias's father is part of a spy network and soon Ani finds herself helping him deliver messages to other members of the underground. She's actually making a difference in the world.

And then her world explodes. The sleepy little market town of Guernica is destroyed by Nazi bombers. In one afternoon Ani loses her city, her home, her mother. But in helping the other survivors, Ani gains a sense of her own strength. And she and Mathias make plans to fight back in their own unique way.

Add this book to Goodreads
Follow Christina on Twitter and visit her website at www.christinagonzalez.com

Monsters (Ashes, Book 3) by Ilsa J. Bick

The Changed are on the move. The Spared are out of time. The End...is now.

When her parents died, Alex thought things couldn't get much worse-until the doctors found the monster in her head.

She headed into the wilderness as a good-bye, to leave everything behind. But then the end of the world happened, and Alex took the first step down a treacherous road of betrayal and terror and death.

Now, with no hope of rescue-on the brink of starvation in a winter that just won't quit-she discovers a new and horrifying truth.

The Change isn't over.
The Changed are still evolving.
And...they've had help.

With this final volume of The Ashes Trilogy, Ilsa J. Bick delivers a riveting, blockbuster finish, returning readers to a brutal, post-apocalyptic world where no one is safe and hope is in short supply.

A world where, from these ashes, the monsters may rise.

Add this book to Goodreads
Follow Ilsa's publisher on Twitter and visit her website at www.ilsajbick.com

05 January, 2014

Stacked (13)

Stacked is our sister blog Nite Lite Book Reviews's weekly book haul post.

Yipes. It's been ages since I posted here! That doesn't mean I didn't get any books since... June? Far from it. I just have been really bad at tracking them down. Here are some bookish posts from my Instagram feed that show what I got recently.

My paperback and picture book shopping spree at Vroman's in Pasadena
I think this is destined to be my new Stacked graphic!

The Scar Boys by Len Vlahos

Grasshopper Jungle (!!!) by Andrew Smith

The Winner's Curse by Marie Rutkoski

Silhouette of a Sparrow by Molly Beth Griffin

I also got These Broken Stars by Amie Kaufman & Meagan Spooner because Kimberly at The Windy Pages really really liked it! You can check out her review here and see all her reviews for us here.

I also pre-ordered debut author Sara B. Larson's Defy because it's on sale right now! Check it out, because I don't know what the price will be when it finally releases on Tuesday.

If you want to share your book haul too, make sure to leave your link below (you can post it in the Comments if you can't see the linky). But right now I gotta go because my cat is trying to drink my glass of water. (Carter!)

My little Love Monster (book by Rachel Bright, but not really about my cat)

2014 Debut Author Challenge

It's back! I'm off to a running start with reading and reviewing this year, so I decided to pile on another challenge. Why not?

You can sign up here. The Goodreads group is here.

Here's my list so far. My goal is to read at least 12 debut YA or MG novels this year. I have already read books listed in bold.

1. The Scar Boys by Len Vlahos - 01.21 - Egmont USA
2. Defy by Sara B. Larson - 01.07 - Scholastic
3. The Lost Planet by Rachel Searles - 01.28 - Feiwel & Friends
4. A Girl Called Fearless by Catherine Linka - 05.06 - St. Martin's Griffin
5. ?
6. ?
7. ?
8. ?
9. ?
10. ?
11. ?
12. ?

If you are an author/publicist with a 2014 debut YA or MG novel and are with one of the major* publishing houses, and you want me to consider your book for review, please do contact me - frootjoos at gmail dot com. I will let you know if I have room on my shelf and time to give your book a patient and thorough reading.

* If you are not sure what this means, please ask. I'm happy to debate this topic.

You can check out the rest of my 2014 Reading Challenges here!

02 January, 2014

Getting the Words Out (2)

A weekly post about writing and life in general

Happy New Year, readers!

When you read this, 2014 will be a whole day old, for me at least (in the Pacific time zone). A few days ago I made some resolutions with my husband, mostly about losing weight and saving money (pretty common resolutions, probably). I've had a really pessimistic view towards resolutions, particularly with my horrible track record for completing challenges. I used to not be this way! I remember keeping track of all my spending in a little notebook when I was in 5th grade, every centavo in and out and where I spent it, what I spent it on. It was almost to the point of obsession, but it clearly wasn't a clinical condition because I am so relaxed about that kind of thing now. 

I even forgot to do the online checkins for the Nerdlutions I made in December, so I'm just going to have to estimate it.

Reading 30 mins a day (29 out of 31 days)
Mission accomplished! This might seem to be a weird Nerdlution especially if you know me personally. But 2013 was the year of my big reading funk and I hardly read anything at all in comparison to previous years. I don't even know what happened to cause this sluggish, I'd-rather-stare-off-into-space rut I experienced, but I'm happy to announce that I am reading on a regular basis again, even if not everything I read is a gem. I think I will stick to picture books today, but they still count (especially since it takes me at least a half hour to write a review for each one, which helps a lot with my second Nerdlution).

Writing 30 mins a day (10 out of 31 days)
This was a much harder habit to pick up again. I mean, I love to write, but I do it so much for work (I write reports for a video game company) that come the end of the day, it takes all the will I can muster to even string a sentence together for a Facebook status. I am a long way from getting back to this habit, so I'm bumping it up as a priority. If I can even get back to blogging on a regular basis again, I think I will be really pleased!

Cleaning 30 mins a day (16 out of 31 days)
As much as I was a really obsessive bookkeeper once, I was also a great organizer. Even nowadays once I get a little spark of motivation, I can clean for hours and hours (because I've made lots of messes, haha!) The problem is getting the spark to start. It's so much easier to sit and watch tv than it is to get up, get the cleaning supplies out, and give the bathroom a once-over. Still, I managed to keep about 95% of the apartment free of the hoard... Now to tackle that last 5% still feels like a Herculean task to me, but I am determined to do it. I have some piles of books, clothes not put away, more piles of just random paper and things... ugh! It's so disheartening just to think about it. I really need to redouble my efforts here.

Knitting 30 mins a day (15 out of 31 days)
Even though I only finished one project last year and will probably be ripping out 2 of the 3 projects I started in 2013, I have to say I enjoy knitting more than ever now. I am going to try not to sink so much money into it this year. Here you can see my one finished project. It's all the way across the Earth keeping a good friend's head warm and cozy.

Yoga 27 minutes a day (15 of 31 days)
I had a really good streak running for the first three weeks, then I hurt my lower back and have been struggling to get it back in stable health. Sigh! I have been going on a 30-minute round trip walk (it's on a long incline which my Fitbit counts as 22 floors, haha!) for the last few days, which has been a lot easier to do than anything that involves bending or sitting, but I look forward to feeling good enough to go through some poses without fear of re-injury. 

I also joined a couple of challenges that I totally failed at, haha! 

I am re-trying the Better Late Than Never ARC challenge (to read ARCs older than 6 months). You can sign up here.

I am joining the And So It Begins reading challenge (to read book 1 of a series you have not yet started).  You can sign up here.

And I think I'm going to stop there, haha! Let's see if I can even get 1 book done for each before I start making any more commitments.  

How about you? Did you make any resolutions? In case you're still on the fence, here's a video that might convince you to start making a change in your life today.

Here's to a happy and healthy 2014 for everyone!

01 January, 2014

Love Monster - Picture Book Review

Publication date: 24 Dec 2013 by Farrar, Straus & Giroux
ISBN 10/13: 0374346461 | 9780374346461

Category: Children's Picture Book
Keywords: Picture book, love, cute
Format: Hardcover
Source: ARC from publisher

*Please note -- "Stick to your bedtime" rating means we liked it! Also... this book would be perfect for reading at bedtime. :)

Alethea's Review:

It's hard being the only monster in Cutesville, home of fluffy kitties, puppies, and bunnies. So Love Monster, the only hairy, googly-eyed resident, packs a trunk and heads out to look for love. Unfortunately, even though he thinks to bring a map and some donuts, he seems to keep looking for love in all the wrong places. 

Readers will adore Love Monster's fluffy, sad little face. It struck me as sort of a really early lesson in codependency. Don't be sad, Love Monster! Love yourself, and maybe love will find you. I also found myself giving the stink-eye to those little kids who only like the little animal residents of Cutesville. So shallow! Can't they see past Love Monster's sharp teeth and melancholy demeanor to the cuddly warmth of his personality? There's a heart right on his furry little chest! I bet he gives great hugs.

The story is fun, but the artwork for me is just ok. And what is up with the font? It's playful and whimsical, but hard to read. (Though having read part of Malcolm Gladwell's David & Goliath, maybe the hard-to-read font will actually make readers pay more attention to the story.) While I'm not totally over the moon with this picture book, I think this would make a fun bedtime story, and there's a couple of neat things you could do to turn this into a Valentine literacy cafe sort of activity.

First off, a literacy cafe has to have food!

I think these gooey monster cookies from Lil' Luna would be perfect with some fresh milk:

Secondly, a literacy cafe has to have an activity. I have some great craft ideas, which I will post more about as it gets closer to Valentine's Day. You could do a simple heart stamp craft to stamp your own Monster Valentines (in the meantime here is a very simple explanation from a tea-towel tutorial). If you're having a party, you can make little paper pennant banners like the ones on the second page of the book. And if you're giving the book as a gift you can pack a little trunk just like Love Monster's suitcase! (If you don't want to buy one, you can always just make one from an old box.)

Come back on January 27, 2014 to enter to win a pair of super-cute love monsters I'm commissioning from my friend Emily at Dragons Don't Knit. You can see one of her cute creations (already sold) here

In the meantime, pick up Love Monster and give it a read. You might just fall for those sad, googly eyes.

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.

Please note that this post may contain affiliate links. For more details, please see our full disclosure policy here.

You can find out more about the author at www.lookonthebrightside.co.uk