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Please Note: New Holiday Review Policy! (extended indefinitely)

Saturday, July 31, 2010

Review: Linger by Maggie Stiefvater

Title: Linger
Author: Maggie Stiefvater
Genre: Young Adult
Release Date: 07/13/10
In Maggie Stiefvater's Shiver, Grace and Sam found each other. Now, in Linger, they must fight to be together. For Grace, this means defying her parents and keeping a very dangerous secret about her own well-being. For Sam, this means grappling with his werewolf past... and figuring out a way to survive into the future. Add into the mix a new wolf named Cole, whose own past has the potential to destroy the whole pack. And Isabelle, who already lost her brother to the wolves... and is nonetheless drawn to Cole.

At turns harrowing and euphoric, Linger is a spellbinding love story that explores both sides of love - the light and the dark, the warm and the cold - in a way you will never forget.

Plot: 4 Stars
These are some of the most unique werewolf novels I've ever read. I love when authors take paranormal lore and turn it on it's head. I said it in my review of Linger, but I'll say it again: I love how the wolves are affected by temperature instead of the moon. And it was very interesting to see how Sam deals with his humanity and Beck's decisions.

Pace: 4 Stars
I hate to admit it, but this book fell victim to the dreaded slump about two-thirds of the way through. I was enjoying the book a lot, but it slowed down at one point right before the end. I don't actively try to figure everything out as I'm reading, even if there's foreshadowing, but there was a bit too much in this novel. It seemed like I knew a certain bit of the plot twist was coming, and it just felt as if everyone was beating around the bush instead of just coming around and saying it. But the ending was fantastic and totally made up for this minor flaw. And the slight cliffhanger (I, at least, consider it a cliffhanger) has me waiting very impatiently for the next installment.

Characters: 4 Stars
I loved watching (or reading about) Sam and Grace grow in their relationship. It was wonderful to see the continued development of their characters, both within and outside of their relationship. Isabel and Cole were interesting new points of view to add into the story, and it never got confusing switching between the four because they all have such strong voices. The changes in Grace's parents was also interesting, even if I didn't always agree with them. I wish we could've seen a little more of Rachel, seeing as she's one of Grace's best friends, but I understand that she is out of the werewolf loop. And I definitely hope we get to see Olivia in the next novel.

Cover: 5 Stars
I love that this cover stuck to the theme started by Shiver. The choice of green really worked. Plus, I loved that the text within the novel was a green to match, like Shiver also. This is probably my favorite part because it's so unique. The images of the wolf and girl blending into the tree branches is a nice touch (which made me look back and see that there's a wolf on Shiver's cover too). The simplicity of this cover really draws the eye. And I love being able to imagine the characters without anything (like cover models) to influence the picture in my head.

Overall: 4 Stars

Disclosure: I bought this book for my own enjoyment.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Waiting on Wednesday (34)

This book blog meme is hosted by Jill at Breaking the Spine.

Title: Sparks
Author: Laura Bickle
Genre: Urban Fantasy
Release date: 08/31/10

Anya Kalinczyk is the rarest type of psychic medium, a Lantern, who holds down a day job as an arson investigator with the Detroit Fire Department—while working 24/7 to exterminate malicious spirits haunting a city plagued by unemployment and despair. Along with her inseparable salamander familiar, Sparky, Anya has seen, and even survived, all manner of fiery hell—but her newest case sparks suspicions of a bizarre phenomenon that no one but her eccentric team of ghost hunters might believe: spontaneous human combustion.\

After fire consumes the home of elderly Jasper Bernard, Anya is stunned to discover his remains—or, more precisely, a lack of them; even the fiercest fires leave some trace of their victims—and she is sure this was no naturally occurring blaze. Soon she’s unearthed a connection to a celebrity psychic who preys on Detroit’s poor, promising miracles for money. But Hope Solomon wants more—she’s collecting spirits, and in a frantic race against time, Anya will face down an evil adversary who threatens her fragile relationship with her lover, her beloved Sparky’s freshly hatched newts, and the wandering souls of the entire city .

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Teaser Tuesday (39)

This weekly book blog meme is hosted by Misb at Should be Reading.

Here are the rules:
- Grab your current read
- Open to a random page
- Share two (2) "teaser" sentences from somewhere on that page
- BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (Make sure that what you share doesn't give too much away. You don’t want to ruin the book for others.)
- Share the title & author too, so that other Teaser Tuesday participants can add the book to their TBR lists if they like your teasers.

Title: Waking the Witch
Author: Kelley Armstrong
Genre: Urban Fantasy
Release Date: 08/03/10

Jaime Vegas was a celebrity spiritualist. She mainly did live shows these days, where she contacted the dead to reassure the living. Great gig for a necromancer... except most times, Jaime faked it. She had to. The messages that the living need aren't necessarily the ones the dead want to impart. -- pg. 68

Saturday, July 24, 2010

In My Mailbox (43)

Thanks to Kristi at The Story Siren for hosting In My Mailbox every week.


Shadow Chase by Seressia Glass
Sandman Slim by Richard Kadrey
Bring on the Night by Jeri Smith-Ready

The Iron Daughter by Julie Kagawa
The Sea of Monsters by Rick Riordan
Guardian of the Gate by Michelle Zink


Ace/Roc Sampler featuring Simon R. Green, James Knapp, Kasey Mackenzie, Kalayna Price, K.A. Stewart, Dianne Sylvan, and Joan Frances Turner
Thanks to K.A. Stewart!

Friday Finds (11)

Friday finds was started by Misb at Should be Reading.

"The idea is to share, every Friday, about books that you’ve recently discovered (never heard of before) that sound really good!"

I kinda lost track of the days, so this is gonna be Friday Finds on Saturday!

Title: Ghost of a Chance
Author: Simon R. Green
Genre: Urban Fantasy
Release Date: 08/31/10
A brand-new series from the New York Times bestselling author of the Nightside novels!

The Carnacki Institute exists to "Do Something" about Ghosts-and agents JC Chance, Melody Chambers, and Happy Jack Palmer will either lay them to rest, send them packing, or kick their nasty ectoplasmic arses with extreme prejudice.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Waiting on Wednesday (33)

This book blog meme is hosted by Jill at Breaking the Spine.

Title: Cold Magic
Author: Kate Elliot
Genre: Steampunk/Fantasy
Release date: 09/09/10
It is the dawn of a new age... The Industrial Revolution has begun, factories are springing up across the country, and new technologies are transforming in the cities. But the old ways do not die easy.

Cat and Bee are part of this revolution. Young women at college, learning of the science that will shape their future and ignorant of the magics that rule their families. But all of that will change when the Cold Mages come for Cat. New dangers lurk around every corner and hidden threats menace her every move. If blood can't be trusted, who can you trust?

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Review: Infinite Days by Rebecca Maizel

Title: Infinite Days
Author: Rebecca Maizel
Genre: Young Adult
Release Date: 08/03/10
"Throughout all my histories, I found no one I loved more than you... no one." Those were some of Rhode's last words to me. The last time he would pronounce his love. The last time I would see his face. It was the first time in 592 years I could take a breath. Lay in the sun. Taste. Rhode sacrificed himself so I, Lenah Beaudonte, could be human again. So I could stop the blood lust. I never expected to fall in love with someone else that wasn't Rhode. But Justin was... daring. Exciting. More beautiful than I could dream. I never expected to be sixteen again... then again, I never expected my past to come back and haunt me...

Plot: 3 Stars
I really wanted to love this story. It's not every day a vampire wants to become human again, and it's even rarer for it to actually happen. But there were points in this story that just seemed a bit boring or out of place. The author put emphasis on certain small scenes, but they didn't impact the plot as much as one would think. There were twists and turns (both good and bad) that I didn't see coming. I did enjoy the book, and really liked the characters introduced, but I don't think the story completely reached it's potential.

Pace: 3 Stars
Although most of the novel took place in the present, there were times when the author took us back to the past to give a better look into Lenah's life as a vampire. Most of the time the story flowed well into these past events by being breaks in the chapters, but sometimes Lenah would daydream about the past. Sometimes this would work, but sometimes these daydreams would happen at really odd times (like in the middle of class) and not blend well with what was happening in the present.

Characters: 4 Stars
It was very interesting to see the two sides of Lenah: the ruthless vampire from the past and the commpassionate human in the present. My favorite part of the whole book were all of the times Lenah was left confused by current slang, emotions, and products. My favorite character was Tony because he was a goofy, artsy kid that didn't quite fit in. I saw a bit of myself and my friends in his character, which helped me connect to him. The scenes from the past painted a good picture of Rhode, but I wish we could've seen more of him.

Cover: 4 Stars
The cover of this novel was very striking. The blue eyes were extremely bright and clear. And the tear running down the cover model's cheek had such clarity. The best aspect was the angle in which the shot was taken. It was very unique and interesting. I really enjoyed that such a simple image could convey so much emotion, which really fit the story considering emotions were a big part of Lenah's adjustment to being human again.

Overall: 3.5 Stars

Disclosure: I received an ARC thru Book It Forward Tours.

Teaser Tuesday (38)

This weekly book blog meme is hosted by Misb at Should be Reading.

Here are the rules:
- Grab your current read
- Open to a random page
- Share two (2) "teaser" sentences from somewhere on that page
- BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (Make sure that what you share doesn't give too much away. You don’t want to ruin the book for others.)
- Share the title & author too, so that other Teaser Tuesday participants can add the book to their TBR lists if they like your teasers.

Title: Linger
Author: Maggie Stiefvater
Genre: Young Adult
Release Date: 07/13/10

She suddenly let out a terrible wail and curled away from me, clutching her arms around her stomach. I didn't know what to do -- pg. 102

Sunday, July 18, 2010

In My Mailbox (42)

Thanks to Kristi at The Story Siren for hosting In My Mailbox every week.

The past three days have been great book days. It seemed like every time I walked out the front door, there were more books sitting on the doorstep. And I also had a very awesome trip to the local Borders where I found Blood Oath 50% off and The Society of S in the clearance bin.


Blood Oath by Chris Farnsworth
Of Saints and Shadows by Christopher Golden
Shadow Hills by Anastasia Hopcus
The Society of S by Susan Hubbard

Siren by Tricia Rayburn
Linger by Maggie Stiefvater
Discord's Apple by Carrie Vaughn


They Call Me Death by Missy Jane
Thanks to Beth at Maybe Tomorrow!

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Review: Vicious Circle by Linda Robertson

Title: Vicious Circle
Author: Linda Robertson
Genre: Urban Fantasy
Release Date: 06/30/09
A girl's got to do what a girl's got to do...

Being a witch doesn't pay the bills, but Persephone Alcmedi gets by between reading Tarot cards, writing her syndicated newspaper column, and kenneling werewolves in the basement when the moon is full -- even if witches aren't supposed to mingle with wolves. She really reaches the end of her leash, though, when her grandmother gets kicked out of the nursing home and Seph finds herself in the doghouse about some things she's written. Then her werewolf friend Lorrie is murdered... and the high priestess of an important coven offers Seph big money to destroy the killer, a powerful vampire named Goliath Kline. Seph is a tough girl, but this time she bites off more than she can chew. She needs a little help from her friends -- werewolf friends. One of those friends, Johnny, the motorcycle-riding lead singer for the techno-metal-Goth band Lycanthropia, has a crush on her. And while Seph has always been on edge around this 6'2" leather-clad hunk, she's starting to realize that although their attraction may be dangerous, nothing could be as lethal as the showdown that awaits them.

Plot: 3 Stars
The plot of this novel was refreshing and fun. All of the paranormal creatures were interesting and had a unique twist. There were many aspects of this story that I really enjoyed. Especially the twists and turns that kept me guessing until the end. But there were also aspects that didn't work so well. The biggest of these is the fact that we are told that werewolves and witches aren't supposed to mingle, but we're never really told why. There's a brief moment in which it is implied that a witches magic affects the werewolf's shift, but there's really nothing else to explain why. I hope more information about this comes up in future books.

Pace: 3.5 Stars
This novel was a bit of a bumpy read. There were many moments in which I was glued to the page, surprise twist after surprise turn. But there were also times in which I had to force myself through a scene or two. There weren't many scenes like that, but just enough to slow down my reading.

Characters: 3.5 Stars
I really enjoyed a number of the characters, but felt we didn't really get to know them that well. I really liked reading the dynamic between Persephone and her grandmother, and I hope they continue their current dynamic in future books. I really wanted to enjoy Johnny with his techno-goth band and tattoos, but I feel like we never got to see too far under the surface. Even the villians seemed a bit lacking in details at times. But what I did learn about these characters will definitely not keep me from reading the next books in the series in hopes that they grow throughout the next couple books.

Cover: 4 Stars
I really enjoyed this cover. I felt the cover model was a good match to what we learn about Persephone. My favorite part is the light swirls and designs. They really give an abstract magic feel without having to actually come out of the cover model's hand or a wand. The color choices were also interesting because purples aren't used as often on urban fantasy covers. I just wish there could've been a werewolf somewhere on the cover. Although the story is focused on Persephone, the werewolves play a large part in her life so it makes sense that they should be portrayed on the cover.

Overall: 3.5 Stars

Disclosure: I bought this book for my own enjoyment.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Waiting on Wednesday (32)

This book blog meme is hosted by Jill at Breaking the Spine.

Title: Firelight
Author: Sophie Jordan
Genre: Young Adult
Release date: 09/07/10
A hidden truth.
Mortal enemies.
Doomed love.

Marked as special at an early age, Jacinda knows her every move is watched. But she longs for freedom to make her own choices. When she breaks the most sacred tenet among her kind, she nearly pays with her life. Until a beautiful stranger saves her. A stranger who was sent to hunt those like her. For Jacinda is a draki—a descendant of dragons whose greatest defense is her secret ability to shift into human form.

Forced to flee into the mortal world with her family, Jacinda struggles to adapt to her new surroundings. The only bright light is Will. Gorgeous, elusive Will who stirs her inner draki to life. Although she is irresistibly drawn to him, Jacinda knows Will's dark secret: He and his family are hunters. She should avoid him at all costs. But her inner draki is slowly slipping away—if it dies she will be left as a human forever. She'll do anything to prevent that. Even if it means getting closer to her most dangerous enemy.

Mythical powers and breathtaking romance ignite in this story of a girl who defies all expectations and whose love crosses an ancient divide.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Teaser Tuesday (37)

This weekly book blog meme is hosted by Misb at Should be Reading.

Here are the rules:
- Grab your current read
- Open to a random page
- Share two (2) "teaser" sentences from somewhere on that page
- BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (Make sure that what you share doesn't give too much away. You don’t want to ruin the book for others.)
- Share the title & author too, so that other Teaser Tuesday participants can add the book to their TBR lists if they like your teasers.

I'm currently bouncing between two books, so I figured I'd include teasers for both. Enjoy! :)

Title: Insatiable
Author: Meg Cabot
Genre: Paranormal Romance
Release Date: 06/08/10

But she knew what it was like to have problems. Real problems. The kind that kept you up nights, stumbling around in the dark, reaching for amber prescription sleeping-pill bottles. -- pg. 145

Title: The Lightning Thief
Author: Rick Riordan
Genre: Young Adult
Release Date: 03/21/06

He pushed me into the creek and I landed with a splash. They all laughed. I figured as soon as they were through being amused, I would die. But then something happened. -- pg. 121

Sunday, July 11, 2010

In My Mailbox (41)

Thanks to Kristi at The Story Siren for hosting In My Mailbox every week.

I'd like to apologize for not posting anything since the last IMM. I've been working the overnight shift, and we had a couple of late mornings (one morning, we didn't leave until after the store opened), so I haven't been getting as much sleep. My reviewing, blogging, and reading has suffered, but I think we're finally past the really crazy part of this job.


Blood Law by Jeannie Holmes
Unholy Magic by Stacia Kane
Other by Karen Kincy


Don of the Dead by Casey Daniels
The Magicians by Lev Grossman


The Ghost and Miss Demure by Melanie Jackson
Thanks to Michelle at Michelle's Book Blog!


Waking the Witch by Kelley Armstrong (ARC)
Thanks to Penguin!
Venom by Jennifer Estep (eARC)
Thanks to Jennifer!
Infinite Days by Rebecca Maizel (ARC)
Thanks to Angela of Dark Faerie Tales and Book It Forward Tours!

Sunday, July 4, 2010

In My Mailbox (40)

Thanks to Kristi at The Story Siren for hosting In My Mailbox every week.


Insatiable by Meg Cabot
Bite Me: A Love Story by Christopher Moore


Night Myst by Yasmine Galenorn
Shadow Bound by Erin Kellison
Fatal Circle by Linda Robertson
Kitty Goes to War by Carrie Vaughn


$60 CSN Gift Certificate Thanks to Word For Teens!
I was gonna use this for a new bookcase, but then I found the Cat Trees and decided that my cats would enjoy one of those more (hopefully). Plus, I found a pretty good bookcase at Ikea today.
$10 B&N Gift Card Thanks to Paranormal Haven and Adrian Phoenix!
I haven't used this yet, but I'll probably put it toward a couple pre-orders. I'm thinking Discord's Apple by Carrie Vaughn and Siren by Tricia Rayburn (so I can get free shipping).

Saturday, July 3, 2010

Author Interview: Alayna Williams

Today I'd like to welcome Alayna Williams, who is stopping by to talk about her new Urban Fantasy release, Dark Oracle, which released on May 25th and is the first novel in her Delphic Oracle series. You can see my review here.

Sara: How would you describe your novel, Dark Oracle, in three sentences or less, for readers who haven’t heard of it before?
Alayna: In Dark Oracle, Tara Sheridan swore off criminal profiling after narrowly escaping a serial killer who left her scarred for life. By combining Tarot card divination with her own intuition, she must help an intense federal agent find a missing scientist who has unlocked the destructive secrets of dark energy. The agent, Harry Li, draws her out of her self-imposed exile and back into the world.

Sara: How would you describe each of your main characters in one sentence?
Alayna: Tara was inspired by the Tarot card, Queen of Swords – she’s analytical, resolute, and knows about loss. Harry was patterned after the Knight of Pentacles – he’s practical, pragmatic, and action-oriented.

Sara: What sets your novel apart from the rest of the Urban Fantasy genre?
Alayna: Dark Oracle is a mashup of science and magic in equal parts. I balance the magic of Tara’s powers as an oracle with a plot that deals with dark energy and exploding particle accelerators. Dark Oracle should appeal to fans of the X-Files and Fringe.

Sara: Can we look forward to more books in Tara Sheridan’s world?
Alayna: I'm working on the sequel to Dark Oracle. It's called Rogue Oracle, and will be out in March 2011. In Rogue, Tara Sheridan and Harry Li are chasing a Chernobyl survivor who's selling nuclear secrets on the international black market. Tara is coming to terms with her destiny as an oracle and rebelling against an ancient society of oracles of which her mother was a part.

Sara: Your knowledge of the Tarot really comes through while reading Dark Oracle. Do you actively practice or was it purely research?
Alayna: I’ve read Tarot cards since I was a teenager. The deck I learned on was Hanson-Roberts, a very gentle deck. I’ve never been a professional card reader. I mostly just use the cards to do readings for myself and friends... and as story prompts.

Sara: What research did you have to do in order to write about Dr. Magnusson’s research on dark energy and dark matter?
Alayna: That was all new to me. I spent a lot of time at my local metro library, reading introductory physics textbooks and looking up articles about existing particle accelerators. Interestingly enough, there was a scare about particle accelerators generating tiny black holes in our own world. That nugget let me build upon the idea that dark energy might be brought into our world for a short period of time.

Sara: Is there a reason for writing this series under a pen name besides the fact that its release was so close to Embers and the upcoming Sparks?
Alayna: That’s it exactly. My publisher didn’t want things to be confusing for readers, so Alayna Williams was hatched as a pseudonym for the Oracle books. Embers and Sparks were written as Laura Bickle.

Sara: Maggie the dog plays a big role in Dark Oracle for a pet, and Sparky really steals the spotlight at a couple points in Embers. Are animal companions important to you within your novels? In real life?
Alayna: Animals are very important to me –- I’m owned by four ex-feral cats, at the moment! Since animals are so intertwined within my own life, it felt normal for my characters to have pets and other animal companions in theirs.

Sparky was especially important for Anya in Embers. I wanted her to have some unconditional love in her life. When Sparky the fire salamander isn’t busy chewing her cell phone or setting fire to the microwave, he can be found cuddling up at the foot of her bed with his Glo-Worm toy.

Sara: Who are your greatest influences, both in and out of the Urban Fantasy genre?
Alayna: My greatest influence is my editor, Paula Guran at Juno Books. She gave me the chance and has taught me so much about the moving parts of how a story works.

Sara: What are you currently reading?
Alayna: I’ve got a lot of books on my nightstand at the moment... Ann Aguirre’s BLUE DIABLO, Linda Robertson’s HALLOWED CIRCLE, Jeri Smith-Ready’s SHADE, and Jessa Slade’s FORGED OF SHADOWS.

Thank you so much for the interview!

Feel free to leave comments and questions for Alayna! I'll be stopping by periodically after I get back from Ikea (it's time for another new bookcase).

And here's the more information about Dark Oracle for anyone interested:


As a criminal profiler, Tara used science and her intuitive skill at Tarot card divination to track down the dangerous and depraved, including the serial killer who left her scarred from head to toe. Since that savage attack, Tara has been a recluse. But now an ancient secret society known as Delphi’s Daughters has asked for her help in locating missing scientist Lowell Magnusson. And Tara, armed with her Tarot deck, her .38, and a stack of misgivings, agrees to try.

Tara immediately senses there is far more at stake than one man’s life. At his government lab in the New Mexico desert, Magnusson had developed groundbreaking technology with terrifying potential. Working alongside the brusque but charismatic agent Harry Li, Tara discovers that Magnusson’s daughter, Cassie, has knowledge that makes her a target too. The more Tara sees into the future, the more there is to fear. She knows she has to protect Cassie. But there may be no way to protect herself -- from the enemies circling around her, or from the long-buried powers stirring to life within...

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Mid-Year Review 2010

So far in 2010, I've read 45 books. If I keep up this pace, I'll end the year around 90 which is a bit lower than I'd like. But on the bright side, I am reading more than one book a week.

Here's the break down of the books I've review so far:
5 Stars: 7
4.5 Stars: 9
4 Stars: 10
3.5 Stars: 8
3 Stars: 5
2.5 Stars: 5
2 Stars: 1
1.5 Stars: 0
1 Stars: 0
0.5 Stars: 0
DNF: 2

(There are two more reviews than book read because I rated the three short stories in Lips Touch: Three Times by Laini Taylor separately.)

And here are my Top 15 of 2010 so far:

1. Shade by Jeri Smith-Ready 5 Stars
2. Stormwalker by Allyson James 5 Stars
3. Spider's Bite by Jennifer Estep 5 Stars
4. Embers by Laura Bickle 5 Stars
5. Glimmerglass by Jenna Black 5 Stars
6. Hex Hall by Rachel Hawkins
7. The Body Finder by Kimberly Derting 5 Stars
8. Deception by Lee Nichols 4.5 Stars
9. Voices of Dragons by Carrie Vaughn 4.5 Stars
10. Dark Oracle by Alayna Williams 4.5 Stars
11. Web of Lies by Jennifer Estep 4.5 Stars
12. Soulless by Gail Carriger 4.5 Stars
13. Three Days to Dead by Kelly Meding 4.5 Stars
14. Silver Borne by Patricia Briggs 4.5 Stars
15. Nightlife by Rob Thurman 4.5 Stars
16. Unholy Ghosts by Stacia Kane 4 Stars
17. Mind Games by Carolyn Crane 4 Stars
18. Firespell by Chloe Neill 4 Stars
19. Raised by Wolves by Jennifer Lynn Barnes 4 Stars
20. The White Cat by Holly Black 4 Stars

Month in Review: June

Here are the books I read in June (along with links to their respective reviews):

June: 8

Glimmerglass by Jenna Black 5 Stars

Sisters Red by Jackson Pearce 3.5 Stars

13 to Life by Shannon Delany 4 Stars

Deception by Lee Nichols 4.5 Stars

Raised by Wolves by Jennifer Lynn Barnes 4 Stars

Dark Oracle by Alayna Williams 4.5 Stars

Vicious Circle by Linda Robertson 3.5 Stars
Review coming soon

Touched by an Alien by Gini Koch DNF

So what did everyone else read in June? :)