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October 29, 2012

Sapphire Blue by Kerstin Gier Review

Title: Sapphire Blue   
Author: Kerstin Gier, Anthea Bell (Translator)  

Publisher: Henry Holt and Co. (BYR) 

Release Date: October 30, 2012 

Received: For review from publisher 

Summary:  Gwen’s life has been a rollercoaster since she discovered she was the Ruby, the final member of the secret time-traveling Circle of Twelve. In between searching through history for the other time-travelers and asking for a bit of their blood (gross!), she’s been trying to figure out what all the mysteries and prophecies surrounding the Circle really mean.

At least Gwen has plenty of help. Her best friend Lesley follows every lead diligently on the Internet. James the ghost teaches Gwen how to fit in at an eighteenth century party. And Xemerius, the gargoyle demon who has been following Gwen since he caught her kissing Gideon in a church, offers advice on everything. Oh, yes. And of course there is Gideon, the Diamond. One minute he’s very warm indeed; the next he’s freezing cold. Gwen’s not sure what’s going on there, but she’s pretty much destined to find out.

Sapphire Blue is the second book in the Ruby Red trilogy. If you have not read Ruby Red and like time travel or secret societies then get on that. 

Sapphire Blue starts where Ruby Red ends and so this is a series where you really need to read the series in order. In Sapphire Blue we learn even more about the Circle but there is still quite a bit of unanswered questions. I personally wish that a few more questions had been answered rather than things just getting complicated but the intrigue level was definitely raised.

Xemerius was my favorite character! He was awesome and his snark brought some much needed comic relief but he was also very helpful to Gwen and Leslie. Speaking of Leslie I love how she is not jealous of Gwen and is genuinely interested in helping her navigate her new life. I think many other books would not have had Leslie be so supportive. 

Basically all the rest of the main characters were annoying. But they are supposed to be so I guess that's good. Gideon was actually the most aggravating but I can't wait to see what will happen with that in Emerald Green.

The Ruby Red trilogy is definitely one you should check out. I personally cannot wait to find out all the the secrets in the third book Emerald Green. So check out Ruby Red and then read Sapphire Blue when it comes out on October 30!

P.S. I do not like the cover change. The other covers were gorgeous and while the dresses are relevant to the story I absolutely loved the old covers and am sad to see them go.

October 26, 2012

Dear Teen Me Review

Title: Dear Teen Me: Authors Write Letters to Their Teen Selves 
Author: Anthology 

Publisher: Zest Books 

Release Date: October 30, 2012 

Received: From publisher for Dear Teen Me Tour 

Summary:  Dear Teen Me includes advice from over 70 YA authors (including Lauren Oliver, Ellen Hopkins, and Nancy Holder, to name a few) to their teenage selves. The letters cover a wide range of topics, including physical abuse, body issues, bullying, friendship, love, and enough insecurities to fill an auditorium. So pick a page, and find out which of your favorite authors had a really bad first kiss? Who found true love at 18? Who wishes he’d had more fun in high school instead of studying so hard? Some authors write diary entries, some write letters, and a few graphic novelists turn their stories into visual art. And whether you hang out with the theater kids, the band geeks, the bad boys, the loners, the class presidents, the delinquents, the jocks, or the nerds, you’ll find friends--and a lot of familiar faces--in the course of Dear Teen Me. 

Review:  I have been reading more and more anthology's lately and I am really liking them. Dear Teen Me isn't your typical anthology. It is filled with letters that authors have written to their teen selves. 

Dear Teen Me was awesome. Each story touched me and gave me insight not only to these fabulous authors but into people I come across every day. Especially people I went to high school with that may have been going through similar things as these authors did.

One of the best things about Dear Teen Me is that I think almost everyone can find a story they relate to. Maybe not 100% but finding even a small connection with these letters is easy. The letters are all so varied and deal with a multitude of different topics. Each letter is encouraging and I can see teens getting encouragement from them, because the letters were written to the authors' teen selves so they are personal and real. 

I would definitely recommend this anthology. Because whether you are a teen or have not been a teen for quite some time I think you will be able to connect to at least one of these letters.

Check out the rest of the tour here!


October 22, 2012

Unspoken by Sarah Rees Brennan Review

Title: Unspoken (The Lynburn Legacy #1)   
Author: Sarah Rees Brennan    
Publisher: Random House 

Release Date: September 11, 2012
Received: Bought 

Summary:  Kami Glass loves someone she’s never met . . . a boy she’s talked to in her head ever since she was born. She wasn’t silent about her imaginary friend during her childhood, and is thus a bit of an outsider in her sleepy English town of Sorry-in-the-Vale. Still, Kami hasn’t suffered too much from not fitting in. She has a best friend, runs the school newspaper, and is only occasionally caught talking to herself. Her life is in order, just the way she likes it, despite the voice in her head.

But all that changes when the Lynburns return.

The Lynburn family has owned the spectacular and sinister manor that overlooks Sorry-in-the-Vale for centuries. The mysterious twin sisters who abandoned their ancestral home a generation ago are back, along with their teenage sons, Jared and Ash, one of whom is eerily familiar to Kami. Kami is not one to shy away from the unknown—in fact, she’s determined to find answers for all the questions Sorry-in-the-Vale is suddenly posing. Who is responsible for the bloody deeds in the depths of the woods? What is her own mother hiding? And now that her imaginary friend has become a real boy, does she still love him? Does she hate him? Can she trust him?

Review:  I've been having trouble writing this review. Not because Unspoken was sub-par or just okay. Which is when I usually have trouble writing reviews. No the reason I am having trouble is just the opposite. Unspoken is amazing and I don't know if I can adequately convince you of its awesomeness.

Let me just get it out there that Unspoken is AWESOME and I cannot be held responsible for the amount of fangirlyness that will be in this post.

Kami is a great main character. She is resourceful, loyal, and curious, all things I look for in a good protagonist. As for the rest of the characters they are awesome as well. Each one brings their own brand of snark and hilarity that really made me feel as if they could be real people from a real town. Holly and Angela are my particular favorites especially because they don't have that girl-on-girl tension with Kami that is a central point of antagonism in many other books. They are Kami's friends and they are willing to put up with her eccentricities because they love her. Unspoken has a rather large cast of characters but Sarah Rees Brennan had made it so you will fall in love with all of them and yearn to know more about them.

Speaking of the town, Sorry-in-the-vale is gorgeously written. I want to book a trip and go, Sarah Rees Brennan has created a place that while filled with magic is a place that I can totally see existing. It is almost a character in of itself, it adds so much to the story and I cannot image Unspoken taking place anywhere other than Sorry-in-the-Vale.

I really liked how the whole voice in her head thing was handled, I think it was mature and not ridiculous like it could have been. It was central to the conflict without taking it over. There were other people involved and how it came about was really interesting to me. 

The plot of Unspoken is great. It is paced well and Sarah Rees Brennan constantly brings up little things that seem insignificant but are really very important. As for the climax, I was pleasantly surprised. It was not completely what I thought it was going to be and I cannot wait for the next book.

As for the ending... It is terrible and not okay by any stretch of the imagination. But it is not a cliffhanger so that is good.

Basically you should go buy Unspoken. And if you ever have the chance to meet Sarah Rees Brennan DO IT. She is hilarious and so nice. I had the chance to meet her at the Austin Teen Book Festival and she was one of the nicest authors I met that day. Even if she takes pleasure in making people cry at her books. Also the odds that she will stand on a chair are high.

Lets be honest it is a 6/5

October 19, 2012

Fathomless by Jackson Pearce Review

Title: Fathomless (Fairytale Retellings #3)   
Author: Jackson Pearce   
Publisher: Little Brown Books for Young Readers
Release Date: September 4, 2012  
Received: For review from publisher  

Summary:  Celia Reynolds is the youngest in a set of triplets and the one with the least valuable power. Anne can see the future, and Jane can see the present, but all Celia can see is the past. And the past seems so insignificant -- until Celia meets Lo.

Lo doesn't know who she is. Or who she was. Once a human, she is now almost entirely a creature of the sea -- a nymph, an ocean girl, a mermaid -- all terms too pretty for the soulless monster she knows she's becoming. Lo clings to shreds of her former self, fighting to remember her past, even as she's tempted to embrace her dark immortality.

When a handsome boy named Jude falls off a pier and into the ocean, Celia and Lo work together to rescue him from the waves. The two form a friendship, but soon they find themselves competing for Jude's affection. Lo wants more than that, though. According to the ocean girls, there's only one way for Lo to earn back her humanity. She must persuade a mortal to love her . . . and steal his soul.

Review:  I love a good fairytale retelling. Seeing a well known story reimagined is so fun and interesting. So naturally I love Jackson Pearce's Fairytale Retellings series. 

The first two books in this series were very good. I like how all three books go together in small ways but they are completely different stories. The ways they go together are surprising and not like anything I would expect. 

Fathomless is a retelling of The Little Mermaid. I enjoyed seeing the homages to the classic story and I enjoyed how Jackson Pearce worked them into her existing world. The multiple POV's were also nice because it let me get to know all the characters better and gave more depth to the story. 

The dynamic between Celia and her sisters was very interesting and I liked how their bond was tested but not shattered. The mythology of the ocean girls was very interesting and getting to understand what was going on was one of my favorite parts of Fathomless. 

Jude kind of annoyed me, I know he was important and one of the main ties to the original Little Mermaid but his personality bugged me a little though not enough to ruin it for me.

Overall I really enjoyed Fathomless and I cannot wait to see where Jackson Pearce takes the world in the next book!

I'm not going to lie, while I don't hate the new covers I wish they had kept the old concept because they were gorgeous.

Check out my reviews for the first two books in the series Sisters Red and Sweetly.

October 17, 2012

Two and Twenty Dark Tales Review

Title: Two and Twenty Dark Tales  
Editors: Georgia McBride and Michelle Zink   
Publisher: Month 9 Books  
Release Date: October 16, 2012
Received: Netgalley  

Summary:  In this anthology, 20 authors explore the dark and hidden meanings behind some of the most beloved Mother Goose nursery rhymes through short story retellings. The dark twists on classic tales range from exploring whether Jack truly fell or if Jill pushed him instead to why Humpty Dumpty, fragile and alone, sat atop so high of a wall. The authors include Nina Berry, Sarwat Chadda, Leigh Fallon, Gretchen McNeil, and Suzanne Young.

I love retellings. It is really interesting to see how different authors take classic stories and make them new and different. So I was super excited to read this anthology of Mother Goose nursery rhymes retold to make them darker and expanding them.

I enjoyed all of the stories but some of my favorite were by Leigh Fallon, Leah Cypess, Angie Frazier, Jessie Harrell, Lisa Mantchev, Michelle Zink, and Suzanne Lazear. I loved Leah Cypess' and Jessie Harrell's because when I read them I could totally see the stories as full novels that I would totally read. Leigh Fallon. Angie Frazier, Lisa Mantchev, Michelle Zink, and Suzanne Lazear had great stories as well because while I could not see them as full length novels the short stories were so awesome and expanded on their nursery rhyme so well that I could read them again and again. 

All the stories in Two and Twenty Dark Tales took these nursery rhymes and expanded on them in such varied and interesting ways that I never would have thought of. The authors that I had read books by before I see their styles and it was fun to see their takes on these nursery rhymes. I was also introduced to some authors that I had never heard of before that and I am totally going to pick up their books because I really enjoyed their retellings.

One of the coolest things about this anthology besides the awesome concept is that the proceeds of the first 5,000 books go to YALITCHAT.ORG which fosters the advancement, reading, writing and acceptance of young adult literature worldwide. 

 Two ad Twenty Dark Tales is an awesome anthology that will surprise you and enchant you with each new story.

Check out my interview with Jessie Harrell one of the authors in this anthology and enter to win a copy of Jessie's book.

2 & 20 Dark Tales Tour: Interview with Jessie Harrell

Today I have with me Jessie Harrell who is part of the 2 and 20 Dark Tales anthology which is a bunch of retellings of classic Mother Goose nursery rhymes

What is your favorite Mother Goose Rhyme besides the one you wrote about, and why?
I can remember back to being a little kid and singing Sing a Song of Sixpence, because what isn’t awesome about a pie full of blackbirds that end up snipping off the maid’s nose?  (Although I must say, Sarwat Chadda did an amazing job with this one!) She really did! But it would be cool to see your take on it.

Do you have any other favorite nursery rhymes that are not in this book that you would like to see re-imagined?
I can see Peter Pumpkin-eater being redone in a really creepy way. That sounds like spousal imprisonment to me.  And if you were locked inside a room with sticky, dripping walls?  Like I said, creepy. Oh, that would be cool!

If you could write a totally new nursery rhyme what would it be about?
Since I have children of my own, I tend to think I’d write much happier rhymes than good old Mother Goose.  Maybe something about a nighttime ballet between the moon and the stars at night. Something that feels magical and calming.  (But don’t ask me to actually write it - there’s a reason I write YA and not children’s books.)

Why did you decide to revisit the Mother Goose Rhyme that you did?
Actually, Hey, Diddle, Diddle was assigned to me by the editor, Georgia McBride.  And I must say, it worked out so well.  At first, I had no idea what do with a fiddle-playing cat, laughing dog and moon-jumping cow.  But I knew I wanted to tie the story into mythology somehow (since my novel, Destined, is a Greek myth retelling).  After doing some research and realizing that the Egyptians had gods represented by a cat, cow and jackal (close enough) - and they all had roles in the afterlife - I had the seeds for my retelling. It was a very cool take on Hey, Diddle, Diddle and unlike anything I would have thought of!

What is another childhood favorite (book or story) that you would like to revisit?
That’s hard to say. I’m thinking the Grimm tales lend themselves best to new interpretations, but so many of the good ones have already been taken (Jackson Pearce does a great job with these retellings).  Since I’m such a mythology nut, I would like to do more of these retellings.  My seven year old knows who Medusa is, so that counts, right?  I would love to paint her in a better light - in the time before she was a monster.  That would be cool! I would read it :)

What made you want to be part of this anthology?
Not only is the idea totally unique, but the proceeds from the first 5,000 sales go to charity.  It was definitely worth the opportunity to stretch myself as an author and give back to the community.
If you could be any Mother Goose Rhyme character who would you be and why?
Mary, Mary quite contrary -- I’m an attorney, need I say more? I can find a counter-point to about anything. 

Thank you so much to Jessie Harnell for doing this interview! And be sure to check out her story in 2 and 20 Dark Tales. You are definitely in for a treat with her story and all the other ones! 

Check out the next stop on the tour at Literary Escapism

Check out my review of 2 & 20 Dark Tales here
Enter to win a copy of Jessie Harrell's Destined by filling out this form:

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October 15, 2012

Crewel by Gennifer Albin Review

Title: Crewel   
Author: Gennifer Albin 
Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux (BYR)  
Release Date: October 16,2012  
Received: For review from publisher

Summary:  Incapable. Awkward. Artless.

That’s what the other girls whisper behind her back. But sixteen year-old Adelice Lewys has a secret: she wants to fail.

Gifted with the ability to weave time with matter, she’s exactly what the Guild is looking for, and in the world of Arras, being chosen as a Spinster is everything a girl could want. It means privilege, eternal beauty, and being something other than a secretary. It also means the power to embroider the very fabric of life. But if controlling what people eat, where they live and how many children they have is the price of having it all, Adelice isn’t interested.

Not that her feelings matter, because she slipped and wove a moment at testing, and they’re coming for her—tonight.

Now she has one hour to eat her mom’s overcooked pot roast. One hour to listen to her sister’s academy gossip and laugh at her Dad’s stupid jokes. One hour to pretend everything’s okay. And one hour to escape.

Because once you become a Spinster, there’s no turning back.

If you are tired of the distopian genre then Crewel is the book for you. While it is a distopian it is so original and different that it is almost like reading another genre. In fact, I got a fairy-tale like vibe off of it. 

I really liked Adelice as a protagonist. She was awesome and snarky. The supporting characters were also brilliant they were so vibrant and different. Though some of them had prejudices that I did not quite understand and unnerved me I liked how their stories slowly wove into the story.

Gennifer Albin is a great writer. She wove such a beautiful tale which was one of the reasons that it felt like a fantasy. She was also amazing at writing the villains. They were evil and totally a bunch of psychopaths but in some cases you could see why they did the things they did. 

I liked the mythology behind the Spinsters. I loved learning how the world was created and I cannot wait to find out more about it. The government system was so complex and I wish that we had gotten to find out more about it and gotten to understand it better but I am sure that we will learn more in the other books.

If you are a fan of distopian, science fiction, or fantasy Crewel is a book I totally recommend!

October 10, 2012

Team Human by Justine Larbalestier and Sarah Rees Brennan Review

Title: Team Human  

Author: Justine Larbalestier & Sarah Rees Brennan 
Publisher: HarperTeen
Release Date: July 3, 2012
Received: Bought

Summary:  Just because Mel lives in New Whitby, a city founded by vampires, doesn't mean she knows any of the blood-drinking undead personally. They stay in their part of town; she says in hers. Until the day a vampire shows up at her high school. Worse yet, her best friend, Cathy, seems to be falling in love with him. It's up to Mel to save Cathy from a mistake she might regret for all eternity!

On top of trying to help Cathy (whether she wants it or not), Mel is investigating a mysterious disappearance for another friend and discovering the attractions of a certain vampire wannabe. Combine all this with a cranky vampire cop, a number of unlikely romantic entanglements, and the occasional zombie, and soon Mel is hip-deep in an adventure that is equal parts hilarious and touching.

Acclaimed authors Justine Larbalestier and Sarah Rees Brennan team up to create a witty and poignant story of cool vampires, warm friendships, and the changes that test the bonds of love.

Review:  I adored Team Human! I even emailed the authors to gush, and probably made a fool of myself. 

Just so you know Team Human is not a vampire book I mean there a vampires but it is not a vampire book. People who love vampire books will enjoy it, and people who hate vampire books will enjoy it as well.

Mel, Mel, Mel I loved Mel as a main character. She was feisty, determined, and fiercely loyal. She would do almost anything for her friends. Speaking of her friends, Anna Cathy and Ty have great personalities. They are all separate people who aren't just following the main character around like sheep. Which is something I see way too often in books these days. Cathy is so firm in her beliefs and won't let  the opinions of her friends dictate her life. Anna is so amazing! She is so much stronger than I would be in her place. Each of these girls are people I would want to be friends with.

Team Human is a book about friendship. If you are looking for that ever-elusive non-romantic relationship focused book this is the book for you. While there is some romantic tension it is not the backbone of this book.

The plot of Team Human is awesome! It is part mystery part story of friendship. And you know how I feel about a good mystery. I loved trying to figure out what was going on along with Mel.

Team Human made me laugh, tear up, and fall in love. It is a must read!

October 1, 2012

Promised by Caragh M. O'Brien review + giveaway!

Title: Promised (Birthmarked #3)
Author: Caragh M. O'Brien  
Publisher: Roaring Brook Press (Macmillan)  
Release Date: October 2, 2012 
Received: For review as part of the Promised blog tour  

Summary:  After defying the ruthless Enclave, surviving the wasteland, and upending the rigid matriarchy of Sylum, Gaia Stone now faces her biggest challenge ever.  She must lead the people of Sylum back to the Enclave and persuade the Protectorat to grant them refuge from the wasteland.  In Gaia's absence, the Enclave has grown more cruel, more desperate to experiment on mothers from outside the wall, and now the stakes of cooperating or rebelling have never been higher.  Is Gaia ready, as a leader, to sacrifice what--or whom--she loves most? 

 Review:  I loved Birthmarked. It  was an amazing distopian novel with a girl who is a midwife as the main character, not really something you see everyday. Then I read Prized which I also liked but not nearly as much as Birthmarked so when I picked up Promised I was really excited to see where Gaia's story would lead and was hoping it would be just as good as Birthmarked. 

While it wasn't as amazing as Birthmarked Promised was still very good! I loved the attempted blending of the two societies and the very difficult choices that Gaia had to make. And those were some tough choices that I don't think I could make! 

Another thing I really enjoyed was seeing where some of the characters that we saw in Birthmarked were now, and it was not what I was expecting. The Enclave continued to surprise me with its brutality even up to the last pages. I applaud Caragh for coming up with such different but ruthless societies that are just trying to do what they think is right.

So if you want a distopian series that makes you think about what is right and what is wrong then I encourage you to pick up he Birthmarked trilogy. Or if you just want a distopian with a kick-ass heroine these books will work for you as well! 

Be sure to check out my review of Birthmarked as well as Caragh M. O'Brien's guest post

As part of the Promised blog tour I have the opportunity to giveaway a set of the Birthmarked trilogy! Fill out the form below to be entered!

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Promised blog tour: Guest Post with Caragh M. O'Brien

Today I have with me as part of the Promised blog tour Caragh M. O'Brien author of the Birthmarked trilogy. I asked her to write a guest post on how she created such different societies in the first two books in the series, Birthmarked and Prized, and she had a great answer!

 Let me say thanks, Mariah, for inviting me by A Reader’s Adventure and pitching me such a thought-provoking topic. How I created such different societies in the Birthmarked trilogy was rather an involved process.  At first, I just invented what I needed as I needed it, and then I revised like a banshee.  To explain a bit more, I need to talk about the key characters in Birthmarked and Prized, so in fairness, I should warn your readers that a few general spoilers follow.  Stop here if you haven’t read the books and don’t want to know anything more, but feel free to continue if you already know basically what happens.

            I was first interested in how the people on different sides of the wall in Birthmarked would create their own separate but interdependent societies.  It seemed natural to explore what happens when some people have advanced technology, resources, education, and security while others near by have none of that. I immediately had a lot of sympathy for Gaia because she was raised outside the wall, with no advantages besides her loving parents.  She seemed so vulnerable, especially when she was first interrogated by Sgt. Grey.  Him I instinctively mistrusted. He had so much legal and authoritative power backing him, with all this potential to abuse it. He frightened me probably all the more because he was so polite.
The societies really boil down to the individuals, which is why the tension between societies is reflected best in the relationship between Gaia and Leon.  She’s a midwife, educated by her mother. She’s smart, physically scarred, impulsive, morally strong, intense, and honest.  Leon’s a guard from a wealthy, twisted family. He’s educated, civil, repressed, physically strong, morally absent, and scarred inside.  As they deal with their worlds, they’re essentially learning from each other, and I love how Gaia’s understanding of both sides of the wall changes through the novel.  Neither side is perfect, and both are horrible in different ways.  It makes me think about which horrible ways matter most, you know? Would I rather be poor from a loving family, or rich and isolated?  Would I rather have an education and decent medical care, or freedom from strict laws and surveillance?
            By the time I began thinking about the second book, Prized, I wanted to see what Gaia would be like if she obtained a position of power, and I was also interested in societies that are constrained by environment.  Of course, all societies are constrained by their environments, but in my fictional extreme, the people of Sylum actually can’t leave. They die if they do.  I liked the inherent possibilities in an imbalance of the population, with men outnumbering women 9 to 1, and then I put the women in charge to see how that would work. It was really fun and started me thinking about all the unconscious ways I expect men and women now to be equal and not equal.  What if men couldn’t initiate a flirtation?  What if they couldn’t vote?  I did much revising to get the rules of Sylum society right, from the way no men could touch Gaia to how they’d be punished if they did.
            Once again, what mattered to me was how the rules and taboos affected individual characters, and soon I had a beautiful reversal to work with. Because she was a girl, Gaia was automatically valuable when she arrived in Sylum. Leon was automatically worthless, and mad about it. Their positions completely influenced how they dealt with each other and created enormous barriers of resentment and confusion. They ended up in some terrific fights.
            Fun. Oh, my gosh, was Prized fun to write.
              It’s clear to me, now that the books are complete, that of course the inhabitants are creatures of their societies, but when I was first exploring ideas, I was just looking for character and the conflicts that would push character further.  The nuances of the societies showed up in the revising.  I like playing with good people who mean well and still manage to mess everything up.  I like the gray zones within people, and between them, and I like a bit of hope that we can all try to work things out.
            Thanks again, Mariah, for having me by on this blog tour. I hope you’ll enjoy seeing what happens to Gaia when the societies of Birthmarked and Prized collide in Promised

Thanks so much for stopping by Caragh! 
If you haven't read the Birthmarked trilogy I recommend that you go pick it up so you can experience there varied societies! Also be sure to check out my review of Birthmarked as well as my review of Promised where you can enter to win a set of the Birthmarked trilogy!