Monday, February 28, 2011

A Declan & Me review: Magic Tree House Crazy Day with Cobras

Ok, YA fans, I don't normally do this, but in a funny little fluke I received the latest Magic Tree House book for review from Random House---and I'm so very glad I did! It's led to some great reading time for my little guy, Declan, so I thought I'd do a quick review of it for those of us with kids, little brothers and sisters, etc! :D

A Crazy Day with Cobras by Mary Pope Osborne

publisher: Random House Books for Young Readers

released: December 10, 2010

hardcover, 128 pages

intended audience: ages 9-12 (but my kindergartner loves to read these together with me!)

Description: Merlin’s beloved penguin, Penny, has been put under a spell! Jack and Annie must find four things to break the spell. The first is a rare and precious emerald. When the magic tree house whisks them back to India over four hundred years ago to search for the jewel, they discover an amazing and exotic world filled with great danger.

Will Jack and Annie find what they’re looking for? Will they avoid the wrath of the all-powerful Great Mogul, survive a crazy ride on a wild elephant, escape an attack by king cobras—and make it back to the magic tree house alive?

Review: This is such a fun series for kids! You get history, adventure, magic, and exploration all wrapped up in one. While the recommended age for these is listed as 9-12, my five year old has quickly fallen in love with these and we're in the process of working our way from the beginning of the series. We read a chapter a night before bed, and it's amazing to see how much these enthrall him, even without pictures of every page. He asks questions, he comments on their actions, he has me defining words he doesn't understand---it's pretty amazing to see how much these get his mind working! The second time through A Crazy Day with Cobras (because, yes, as soon as it was over, he flipped back to the beginning and asked to start it over) he was actually trying to read it all by himself. He talked about it for days after---it was so funny to hear my little guy talking about Jack and Annie's adventures in India, The Great Moguls, and ambassadors (which he pronounces "em-bass-ders"), and shrinking potions. This one book gave him a whole new arsenal is his stock of imaginary play ideas!

This book was accompanied by a non-fiction book about cobras, so we were able to learn even more about these fascinating creatures when the adventure was done. I say, if you've got kids, little brothers or sisters, any kids that you babysit for---or anyone around between the ages of 5 and 10---get them started on the amazing world of Magic Tree House!

Check out the cool website for this series!

Sunday, February 27, 2011

In My Mailbox {55} & New on My Nook

In My Mailbox is a weekly meme hosted by The Story Siren, where we all share what we got during the week!

Here's my fun stuff for the week! Made a little trip down to Half-Price books and found the first two...and one from the library!
The Locket by Stacey Jay
This one sounded like it had a cute second-chances, time travel thing going on so I decided to check it out. :)

Blessed by Cynthia Leitich Smith
I read Eternal and really enjoyed it. I'm not sure if I need to read Tantalize also before I dig into this one...anyone know? Will I be completely lost if I don't?

Swoon by Nina Malkin
I've heard such mixed reviews on this one, I decided I have to try it out and see for myself! It seems to be one of those that people either love or they hate. So we'll see!

New on my Nook:

From Netgalley:
The Goddess Test by Aimee Carter
Love all the goddess themed books coming out this year!

A Long, Long Sleep by Anna Sheehan
Always up for a good fairy-tale retelling!

Here's what's coming up this week on Stories & Sweeties!!
~Reviews of Demonglass & Dark Mirror
~Giveaway announcements for all three contest currently running (check the top right corner for those!)

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Review: Solid

Solid by Shelley Workinger

publisher: Self published/Createspace

release date: July 9th, 2010

paperback, 222 pages

intended audience: Young adult


source: signed copy from author for review

Teens who discover they were secretly genetically altered before birth are brought together at a classified site where they forge new friendships, find love, develop "super-abilities," and even unearth a conspiracy.

Review: Solid is a great start to a very unique series! I really enjoyed this one, its a fast entertaining read. The story was original and had a great concept. First we meet Clio, who is on her way to a military "summer camp" to be observed. It was recently discovered that her and 99 other teens were the result of an experimental chromosome-altering drug that was given to pregnant women and now they are all being brought in and given what appears to be the royal treatment while the military tries to sort out the effects of the drug. Each kid is put up in an exact replica of their own rooms back home and served comfort food at mealtimes. The testing and questioning seems relatively harmless...until Clio overhears a private conversation that makes it clear that there is definitely information they are not being told. Her and her new friends take on the mystery to find out what is really going on.

One great part of this story is the friendships. They are a diverse group of kids thrown together, but with one major thing in common,...they are bound together by the mystery of this supposed chromosome abnormality. Clio forms a pretty tight friendship with Miranda and Bliss in just a short time and they have their ups and downs like any group of friends. I really liked Jack, he was confident and kind and friendly---and puts on one of the sweetest, most romantic evenings I've ever read to win Clio over. The only character I didn't really warm to was Garrett...he just seemed completely fake to me. It may have been part of his character, but he was obnoxious, had cheesy dialogue that didn't feel like any real teenager would say, even if they were the show-off, egotistical type it seemed he was meant to be. Still, the group as a whole made for a great dynamic. I especially like the "addition" to the group at the end, I think it rounded out their little team perfectly---you'll have to read this to see what I mean!

The solution of the story felt a little "Scooby Doo" to me. Funny thing is, it must have felt at least a little bit like that to the author as well, because a few pages after thinking "hey, it's a Scooby Doo ending!", Clio actually says, "it was a full-on Scooby Doo moment". It wasn't a bad way to end it, by any means---it just felt a bit "familiar". What I really loved was the very ending, what happens after the big reveal. Like I said, my favorite thing was the dynamic of this group of friends and it made for a sweet moment to see them kind of holding each other up after what they'd gone through. You don't get to see that often; many times the mystery is wrapped up and that's the end. With this one, it was almost comforting and I felt like there was real closure.

I was glad to find out that there will be more to this story, because I definitely want to find out what Clio and her friends do next with those mysterious powers!

Visit the series website here!

Purchase Solid at: Amazon

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

HarperTeen Virtual Events! Melissa Marr & Lauren Oliver

Some cool live chats happening from HarperTeen!!

Tonight at 8PM (eastern), Melissa Marr is making on special appearance to promote DARKEST MERCY, the final book in the WICKED LOVELY series. You can virtually attend Melissa’s San Diego book signing, ask Melissa questions, and interact with other fans here: RSVP for the event on Facebook.

Lauren Oliver, NYT bestselling author of DELIRIUM and BEFORE I FALL will be chatting LIVE on Thursday February 24th from7-8PM Eastern! RSVP for the event here on Facebook.
Learn more about DELIRIUM and read an excerpt here:

Waiting on Wednesday

"Waiting on Wednesday" is a weekly meme hosted by Jill at Breaking the Spine. It lets us all gush about what soon-to-be released books we are jumping-up-and-down excited for.

Tris and Izzie
by Mette Ivie Harrison

release date: October 11, 2011 from EgmontUSA

UNOFFICAL description, subject to alteration:

A modern retelling of the German legend "Tristan and Isolde", "Tris and Izzy", is about a young witch named Izzie who is dating Mark King, the captain of the basketball team and thinks her life is going swimmingly well. Until-- she makes a love potion for her best friend Brangane and then ends up taking it herself accidentally, and falling in love with Tristan, the new guy at school.

My thoughts: I have a feeling we're going to be seeing this one everywhere on this weeks WoW since the cover was just recently revealed, but I can't get this one out of my head. A modern retelling of Tristan and Isolde?? So excited about that. And that cover? I need a huge poster of it on my wall, its so pretty. Drool, drool, drool.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Win Dark Mirror by M.J. Putney!!

The wonderful people at St. Martin's Press are letting me give away a copy of Dark Mirror by debut YA author M. J. Putney to one lucky reader!! Dark Mirror
Lady Victoria Mansfield, youngest daughter of the Earl and
Countess of Fairmount, is destined for a charmed life. Soon she
will be presented during the London season, where she can choose a mate worthy of her status.

Yet Tory has a shameful secret—a secret so powerful that, if
exposed, it could strip her of her position and disgrace her family forever. Tory’s blood is tainted…by magic. When a shocking accident forces Tory to demonstrate her despised skill, the secret she’s fought so hard to hide is revealed for all to see. She is immediately exiled to Lackland Abbey, a reform school for young men and women in her position. There she will learn to suppress her deplorable talents and maybe, if she’s one of the lucky ones, be able to return to society.

But Tory’s life is about to change forever. All that she’s ever
known or considered important will be challenged. What lies
ahead is only the beginning of a strange and wonderful journey
into a world where destiny and magic come together, where true
love and friendship find her, and where courage and strength of
character are the only things that determine a young girl’s worth.

To Enter:
~Comment on this post with your contact email!

~Tell me what your most anticipated YA debut for 2011 is!!

Open to US residents, 13 and older.
(contest sponsored by publisher)

Contest deadline: March 1st, 2011 (11:59 PM, PST)

Review: Darkness Becomes Her

Darkness Becomes Her by Kelly Keaton

publisher: Simon Pulse

release date: February 22, 2011

hardcover, 288 pages

intended audience: Young adult


source: Simon & Schuster Galley Grab

Ari can’t help feeling lost and alone. With teal eyes and freakish silver hair that can’t be changed or destroyed, Ari has always stood out. And after growing up in foster care, she longs for some understanding of where she came from and who she is.

Her search for answers uncovers just one message from her long dead mother: Run. Ari can sense that someone, or something, is getting closer than they should. But it’s impossible to protect herself when she doesn’t know what she’s running from or why she is being pursued.

She knows only one thing: she must return to her birthplace of New 2, the lush rebuilt city of New Orleans. Upon arriving, she discovers that New 2 is very...different. Here, Ari is seemingly normal. But every creature she encounters, no matter how deadly or horrifying, is afraid of her.

Ari won’t stop until she knows why. But some truths are too haunting, too terrifying, to ever be revealed.

Review: Ari is one tough cookie. Her harsh upbringing in various foster homes and the mysteries of her past, along with being trained to fight by the only foster parents that ever cared about her have made her a girl not to be messed with. Her quest to chase down her past lands her in the rebuilt New Orleans, known as New 2, a town full of every kind of creature and misfits, and run by the highest families of vampires, demi-gods, and witches. Ari finds herself smack in the middle of some political secrets and still doesn't even know what she is or what she can do. I loved how real she seemed, tough as nails on the exterior, but still a bit fragile and damaged on the inside.

This story has a great array of interesting characters, most of which you don't really get to know all that well, but one of my favorites was little Violet. She doesn't say much but she just has this very cool presence and I could help picturing her as a character drawn by Edward Gorey. Sebastian is also a good character, kind of quiet but protective of the little band of misfits that have made a home in an old house in the Garden District. The love story between Ari and Sebastian happens a little too instantly, but it back-tracks itself a little and they get a really good connection going.

On a side note, the swearing is kind of out of control in this one. Normally swearing in books doesn't bother me at all---I'm not deluded, I know teens (and almost everyone, for that matter) swear. But I found this a little on the excessive side. As in, one or two of the more vulgar four-letter words gracing every other bit of dialogue, and that included Ari's inner dialogue. I get that she was tough and angry and so was much of the cast (even the goddess had a potty mouth! lol) but I think a good 30-count of the f-word could have been nixed and the story would have come across with the same amount of awesome fierce attitude.

Darkness Becomes Her really had a lot of fun elements: amazing fight scenes, a bit of creepiness, the lush setting of New Orleans in full blown Mardi Gras celebration, some light romance with a one very knee-weakening first kiss, magic, mystery and a few mind-boggling plot twist that I really did not see coming. I can't wait to see where this series goes.

Visit Kelly Keaton's site here.

Purchase Darkness Becomes Her at: BookDepository

Monday, February 21, 2011

Books/ARCs for Trade!

I have some ARCs and books that I either have duplicates of or am done with and want to give more readers a chance to review them! Please contact me if you are interested in a trade! I listed a few that I'm especially looking for, but you can also check my wishlist---all offers will be considered! :D

What's available for trade:
Across the Universe by Beth Revis (ARC)
Hourglass by Myra McEntire (ARC)
Haunted by Joy Preble (ARC)
Banished by Sophie Littlefield (Finished Hardcover)
Beautiful Darkness (ARC)
Delirium by Lauren Oliver (ARC)
Book of Tomorrow by Cecilia Ahern (ARC)
Radiance by Alyson Noel (ARC)
Extraordinary by Nancy Werlin (ARC)
See What I See by Gloria Whelan (ARC)
Drought by Pam Bachorz (ARC)
Human Blend by Lori Pescatore (Finished Paperback)

What's Highest on my Wishlist:
The Gathering by Kelley Armstrong
Shadows on the Moon by Zoe Marriott
Chime by Frannie Billingsley
Queen of the Dead by Stacey Kade
Throat by R. A. Nelson
Vespertine by Saundra Mitchell
Die For Me by Amy Plum
Luminous by Dawn Metcalf
Wildefire by Karsten Knight (don't think anyone has this yet..but worth a shot!!)
Haunting Violet by Alyxandra Harvey

ALSO---I am dying to get my hands on a Australian copy of Unearthly by Cynthia Hand. Anyone have one they would be willing to trade?

Sunday, February 20, 2011

In My Mailbox {54} & New on my Nook!

In My Mailbox is a weekly meme hosted by The Story Siren, where we all share what we got during the week!

Really excited about all my new books this week!

For Review:
Clarity by Kim Harrington
They sent a pretty finished copy---so excited to read this one!
Many thanks to Scholastic Point for this one!

Desires of the Dead by Kimberly Derting
Phew...I survived the wait. After reading the first book, I've been eagerly anticipating this sequel!!

Waterfall (River of Time #1) by Lisa Bergren
Time travel, Italy, historical romance...Yup, this one sounds amazing.

And "New on my Nook" this week

Seers of Light by Jennifer Delucy
I keep hearing such amazing things about this series, finally got a hold of the first book!

The Chances by J. L. Pierce
This one caught my attention in one of my random searches through a 16 year old detective tracking down an infamous thief---who just happens to be his own brother!

So that's all for this week!! Show me those mailboxes! Because, you know...there is always a little more room on my wishlist! :D

Friday, February 18, 2011

So Silver Bright Cover Reveal & Eyes Like Stars Giveaway!

I present to you...

Isn't it gorgeous?? I love the two previous covers of this series, and So Silver Bright is another beauty. All three were designed by artist Jason Chan and each one has been a work of art, and so completely unique from every other series out there. The Theatre Illuminata books are exciting and bizarre and theatrical...I love them, and I can't wait to see what this third book holds!

P.S.: I want that dress!! :)

Want to win a signed copy of Eyes Like Stars?? Well, of course, you do!! :D
Click Here to Enter!!!

-must be 13 or older
-US residents only please (sorry, international friends! This one is publisher-sponsored!)
-contest ends March 1st, 2011

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Triple Celebration Giveaway WINNERS!!

Announcing the winners of the Triple Celebration Giveaway!!!
First I want to sincerely thank everyone who help me celebrate the month of January, my birthday, my blogoversary, and hitting 700 followers. I was floored to have 211 entries roll in for this contest!!
And now, without further ado...chosen by
The Winners!!

Winner #1
Jackie N

Winner #2
Morgan the Paperback Princess

Winner #3
Laura M

Congrats to all three lucky winners!! I've emailed you already so please get back to me as soon as possible!

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

So Silver Bright Cover Fragment!!

As promised, here is a little teaser fragment of the cover for So Silver Bright by Lisa Mantchev!!

The full cover will be revealed on Friday, but until then, you can see fragments at the following blogs!

Monday 2/14 Fragment One

Tuesday 2/15 Fragment 2

Wednesday 2/16 Fragment 3

Thursday 2/17 Fragment 4

Check back Friday for the full cover and a chance to win a signed copy of Eyes Like Stars!!

Waiting on Wednesday

"Waiting on Wednesday" is a weekly meme hosted by Jill at Breaking the Spine. It lets us all gush about what soon-to-be released books we are jumping-up-and-down excited for.

What We Keep Is Not Always What Will Stay
by Amanda Cockrell

release date: June 8th by Flux Books

Fifteen-year-old Angie never used to think much about God—until things started getting weird. Like the statue of St. Felix, her secret confidante, suddenly coming off his pedestal and talking to her. And Angie's mother, who's busting up her third marriage for no apparent reason. Then there's Jesse Francis, sent home from Afghanistan at age nineteen with his leg blown off. Now he's expected to finish high school and fit right back in. Is God even paying attention to any of this?

Against the advice of an increasingly vocal St. Felix (who knows a thing or two about war), Angie falls for Jesse—who's a lot deeper than most high school guys. But Jesse is battling some major demons. As his rages start to become more frequent and unpredictable, Angie finds herself losing control of the situation. And she's starting to wonder: can one person ever make things right for ?someone else?

My thoughts: I don't read alot of contemporary stories, but when I do, I like them quirky. And this one, my friends, sounds quirky---but also heart-wrenching and emotional at the same time. It's sounds fascinating and completely original. LOVE the cover, very simple and cool. Love the skellingtons and the handwritten title...again, quirky. Really looking forward to this one!

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Review: Haunted

Haunted by Joy Preble

publisher: Sourcebooks Fire

release date: February 1st, 2011

paperback, 290 pages

intended audience: Young adult

first book in series: Dreaming Anastasia (my review)


source: from publisher for review

Anne is trying her best to live a normal life, but she's still got some power sparking inside her. She's hearing and seeing things that she tries her best to ignore-like being haunted by a Russian sea nymph that claims the princess Anastasia is still alive.

That's when Ethan Kozninsky-he of the stunning blue eyes, thick brown hair, and former immortal status-returns. Anne soon realizes that everything she's been trying to forget might be impossible to bury.

Review: Joy Preble has a knack for picking such intriguing creatures to act as her villains! After Dreaming Anastasia, I immediately hopped online and researched Baba Yaga, even though I was thoroughly freaked out by her gigantic detachable hands and iron teeth. This time, it's the Rusalkas...vicious mermaids who were once wronged women. No singing and giggling for these mermaids---these creatures cloud a man's brain, lure them to the water and drown them. Nothing cute about it. While this book wasn't nearly as creepy as the last, it has a few good eerie moments.

Anne is still a strong character, and I still love Tess and the fierce way she stands beside Anne. This time, Anne is a little lost---trying to deny her powers and do all she can to grasp any type of normalcy. She has started dating Ben, who is as normal as can be, bordering on simple. Not so much dumb, but just kind of uninteresting---lifeguard, hormones running on high, sweet but kind of doofy, and when Ethan shows up again, Ben pulls the usual possessive riot act. He didn't seem to match Anne at all, so it tipped the scales of this love triangle easily toward Ethan, as he was just as heroic and mysterious as always. But still, Anne wants normal and Ethan is anything but that, so you'll have to read and find out where she lands!

I really liked the mother/daughter angle of this story. Both of them lost for different reasons, and growing further apart by the day. I liked that the story behind her lost birth grandmother continues in this one and it made for a very interesting part of the plot!

Once again, as in Dreaming Anastasia, the chapters alternate between Anne and Ethan's point of view. I encountered the same problem as last time---their voices are not distinct enough from each other for this to really work for me. I often forgot whose point of view I was currently reading and would have to backtrack a little. I would come across something that I thought completely didn't make sense, and then realize that I wasn't reading who I thought I was reading.

There was also a lot of villain monologuing in this one. With a handful of villainous characters, they all had their moment in the sun. And while it was necessary in some aspects to explain what was going on, it was a bit tedious at times. I also had a hard time understanding the motive and purpose of all three villains, and the cryptic riddles that they spoke in were definitely no help in figuring this out. Still, the tidbits we learn about their histories are important and both answer and create more questions that will hopefully be addressed in a third installment.

I enjoyed this one, although not as much as the first---but I will definitely be eager to continue the story when the third book comes along!

Visit Joy Preble's website here.

Purchase Haunted at: AmazonBN.comBookDepository

Monday, February 14, 2011

Cover Story & Quick update!

♥ ♥ ♥
Happy Valentine's Day, everyone!

Go hug the ones you love. Not just today, but everyday! :)

Anyone notice crickets chirping on this blog the last few days?? Yeah...sorry about that! Real life strikes again! Family schtuff and sickie kids, etc, etc... plus I had no IMM this week because (a) I bought nothing this week (go me!) and (b) because there were also crickets chirping in my mailbox all week long---sad, but also a good thing as I'm a bit behind in my tbr pile. All caught up with reviews, though! And this week you'll hopefully see reviews of Haunted by Joy Preble and Solid by Shelley Workinger.

Stay with me, this will be a fun week! I'm participating in the week-long unveiling of the cover of the third book of the Theatre Illuminata series, So Silver Bright! I'll be posting a teaser piece of it on Wednesday and then revealing the whole thing, in all it's gorgeousness on Friday along with some other great blogs. I'll also be giving away a signed copy of Eyes Like Stars! I love the cover for Eyes Like Stars and Perchance to Dream, so I'm excited to be a part of this event!!

The winner announcements for my Triple Celebration Giveaway will be announced in the next few days so keep an eye out for that! And check back later for a giveaway of Dark Mirror by M.J. Putney!

Now, on to some Cover Story goodness! Here are two I came across this week that I am completely in love with!!
Dark Souls by Paula Morris
LOVED Ruined, Paula Morris's debut, so I am very, very excited for this book! More ghosts, more mystery, more intriguing locations. The cover links to goodreads, go read the synopsis! It sounds amazing. This cover is so cool---the mist, the eerie cobblestone street,...and that title design takes my breath away!

The Faerie Ring by Kiki Hamilton
Oh, how I do adore my faerie stories! This debut looks like it's going to be a fun one, set in Victorian London, which I love. The cover is a stunner, I love how her face is just a blur in the background...and man, if I could get a hold of that font, I would be one happy font hoarder! (Yes, I love fonts---comes from years of digital scrapbooking lol)

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Review: Delirium

Delirium by Lauren Oliver

publisher: HarperTeen

release date: February 1st, 2011

hardcover, 441 pages

intended audience: Young adult


source: from publisher for review

description: Before scientists found the cure, people thought love was a good thing. They didn’t understand that once love -- the deliria -- blooms in your blood, there is no escaping its hold. Things are different now. Scientists are able to eradicate love, and the governments demands that all citizens receive the cure upon turning eighteen. Lena Holoway has always looked forward to the day when she’ll be cured. A life without love is a life without pain: safe, measured, predictable, and happy.

But with ninety-five days left until her treatment, Lena does the unthinkable: She falls in love.

Review: In this disturbing dystopian, the entire society believes that love is a disease and the cause of downfall to past generations. When each person turns 18, a procedure is performed on the brain that basically takes away the ability to love. It's a terrifying scenario, especially looking at it from a mother's point of view---you're not even allowed to love your children. I think my heart broke several times throughout this book---mostly when the main character, Lena is talking about her own mother. That is what is so fascinating about all of these dystopian tales coming out...they present such a twisted distorted world and force you to imagine what it would be like to live without the most basic things that we take for granted every day, like love, reading and writing and music, freedom of choice, a mother's love.

When we first meet Lena, she is about to turn eighteen and actually can't wait to have her procedure done. More than anything, this comes from fear---anyone who knows Lena has heard the story of her past...that her mother was unable to be cured by the procedure and ended up catching the "disease" and taking her own life. She fears daily that this is something that runs in her blood. It was interesting to see this character change, the way falling in love empowers her. I loved all three main characters in this story, Lena, Hana, and Alex. As much as it was about Lena falling in love with Alex, it was also about her love for her best friend, her mother, her little cousin, her was very powerful in showing how different the world would be without love in all it's forms.

While admittedly, the beginning dragged a little for me, about 100 pages in I was completely smitten with this story and couldn't put it down until the very end. And the END...OH, the end.
Lauren Oliver. I will say this about her: the woman knows how to deliver an ending. In Before I Fall, the ending was pure orchestrated perfection. In Delirium, the story's conclusion literally explodes off the page leaving the reader feeling completely spent. All you can do at that point is close the book and say "Wow." I was almost a little disappointed to find out after that there would be more to the story---not because I don't want it to go on, but because the ending is so powerful, intense,... beautifully and tragically perfect. This one could have stood on it's own---and with so many cliffhanger endings in YA these days that have you lost until the next installment, this was so refreshing.

Visit Lauren Oliver's website here.

Purchase Delirium at: AmazonBN.comBookDepository


Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Waiting on Wednesday

"Waiting on Wednesday" is a weekly meme hosted by Jill at Breaking the Spine. It lets us all gush about what soon-to-be released books we are jumping-up-and-down excited for.

Imaginary Girls
by Nova Ren Suma

release date: June 14th, 2011

Chloe’s older sister, Ruby, is the girl everyone looks to and longs for, who can’t be captured or caged. When a night with Ruby’s friends goes horribly wrong and Chloe discovers the dead body of her classmate London Hayes floating in the reservoir, Chloe is sent away from town and away from Ruby.

But Ruby will do anything to get her sister back, and when Chloe returns home two years later, a precarious and deadly balance waits. As Chloe flirts with the truth that Ruby has hidden deeply away, the fragile line between life and death is redrawn by the complex bonds of sisterhood.

Imaginary Girls is a masterfully distorted vision of family reminiscent of Shirley Jackson, laced with twists that beg for their secrets to be kept.

My thoughts: A story about family secrets, the bonds of sisterhood, and a mysterious death?? Sign me up, this one sounds amazing. Plus, gorgeous cover. I am loving all the eerie, watery covers this year!

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

A Fond Farewell...

The literary world lost one of it's greats this week, my blog friends. It was announced yesterday that children's author Brian Jacques passed away on February 5th, 2011, at the age of 71.

He was most well known for his wonderful imaginative Redwall series, where mice and otters and all manner of furry creatures go on amazing adventures and fight fierce, courageous battles. They were highly celebrated all over the world, and loved by all ages. It always brought a smile to my face when a library patron would bring one of the Redwall books up to check out...knowing the excitement they would find when they cracked it open. Here in my house, the series is a favorite. My husband has read every one, excitedly anticipating the new installment each year, devouring it, and then placing it on its new place of honor on our shelves.
<<< (our collection)

My first Redwall book experience:

You can find more about the incredible Mr. Jacques at the Penguin website. and at his official website.

A fond farewell, sir...and thank you for sharing the adventure.

Monday, February 7, 2011

Review: The Book of Tomorrow

The Book of Tomorrow by Cecelia Ahern

publisher: HarperCollins

release date: February 1st, 2011

hardcover, 310 pages

intended audience: marketed to both YA and adult


source: from publisher for review

description: Tamara Goodwin has always got everything she's ever wanted. Born into a family of wealth, she grew up in a mansion with its own private beach, a wardrobe full of designer clothes and all that a girl could ever wish for. She's always lived in the here and now, never giving a second thought to tomorrow. But then suddenly her dad is gone and life for Tamara and her mother changes forever. Left with a mountain of debt, they have no choice but to sell everything they own and move to the country. Nestled next to Kilsaney Castle, their gatehouse is a world away from Tamara's childhood. With her mother shut away with grief, and her aunt busy tending to her, Tamara is lonely and bored and longs to return to Dublin.When a travelling library passes through Kilsaney Demesne, Tamara is intrigued. Her eyes rest on a mysterious large leather bound tome locked with a gold clasp and padlock. What she discovers within the pages takes her breath away and shakes her world to its core.

Review: I've read only one Cecilia Ahern book before and really enjoyed it. I really like her writing style, it's very casual and real. She has a knack for slipping back and forth between the dramatic and the hilarious seamlessly. It's what I like about the first book I read of hers (Thanks for the Memories) and it's definitely a good point of this book as well.

Tamara is one of those characters that I think people will have a hard time liking, but I really liked reading her and watching her grow as a person. She tends to speak the first thing that comes to her mind, even when that first thing could probably use a little filtering. She is completely spoiled rotten from a life of being the rich girl who got everything and her voice is biting and snarky almost every time she opens her mouth. Her life is flipped upside down when her dad commits suicide and leaves them drowning in his bad business debts. Her mom moves them to the country to stay with some very bizarre relatives, and then seems to check out mentally into a depressive state. This leaves her on her own with her uncle that barely says a word and her aunt that you can tell from the very beginning that there is something extremely amiss with her. They are the caretakers of the castle ruins next door and Tamara finds herself drawn to the castle, but can't help feeling she is being watched whenever she is there.

When she finds a mysterious locked book in the traveling library. I don't want to spoil what it is, but I will say it's a very intriguing concept and perfectly catapults Tamara into the mystery of her and her family's history! As it all unfolds, Tamara has to decide each day whether to let things flow or take it into her own hands to fix things. It all leads to a conclusion that, while not completely unpredictable, was very entertaining and exciting!

I highly recommend this one! This one had me both laughing out loud and in tears at times---always a good sign!

Visit Cecilia Ahern's site here.

Purchase Book of Tomorrow at: AmazonBN.comBookDepository

Sunday, February 6, 2011

In My Mailbox {53}

In My Mailbox is a weekly meme hosted by The Story Siren, where we all share what we got during the week!

Had a good book week...SUPER excited about both book I got for review!! And darn those lovely fairy books, they make them just too pretty to resist!!
For Review
Divergent by Veronica Roth
Hearing great things about this debut already, so I'm really excited to read this one!

Hourglass by Myra McEntire
*Super Happy Dance* was performed shamelessly when I opened this package!! :D

Shadowspell by Jenna Black
The Iron Queen by Julie Kagawa

Many thanks to HarperTeen and Egmont for the review copies!

This Friday, my Triple Celebration Giveaway comes to end so make sure you've got your entry in!!

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Review: Cryer's Cross

Cryer's Cross by Lisa McMann

publisher: Simon Pulse

release date: February 8th, 2011

hardcover, 240 pages

intended audience: Young adult

source: Around the World ARC Tours


The community of Cryer’s Cross, Montana (population 212) is distraught when high school freshman Tiffany disappears without a trace. Already off-balance due to her OCD, 16-year-old Kendall is freaked out seeing Tiffany’s empty desk in the one-room school house, but somehow life goes on... until Kendall's boyfriend Nico also disappears, and also without a trace. Now the town is in a panic. Alone in her depression and with her OCD at an all-time high, Kendall notices something that connects Nico and Tiffany: they both sat at the same desk. She knows it's crazy, but Kendall finds herself drawn to the desk, dreaming of Nico and wondering if maybe she, too, will disappear...and whether that would be so bad. Then she begins receiving graffiti messages on the desk from someone who can only be Nico. Can he possibly be alive somewhere? Where is he? And how can Kendall help him? The only person who believes her is Jacian, the new guy she finds irritating...and attractive. As Kendall and Jacian grow closer, Kendall digs deeper into Nico's mysterious disappearance only to stumble upon some ugly—and deadly—local history. Kendall is about to find out just how far the townspeople will go to keep their secrets buried.

Review: With this book, it seals the deal: I am a huge fan of Lisa McMann. With her books, you get a story that is not overbearingly long but packs an immense punch of incredibly tight storytelling and intensity. Each book in her Dreamcather series was this way, and you find the same thing here, with Cryer's Cross. I loved this book. I had a feeling going in that it would be creepy, but it exceeded my expectations in that department. It even snuck into my dreams a few times---always the sign of a completely enthralling book. And while I don't want to give too much away, I will say that what happens to Kendall near the end of the story is one of my worst nightmares.

Kendall herself was a fascinating character. She struggles with OCD. Some of her daily routines consists of going to school early to make sure the classroom is arranged just how she needs it to be and checking each window in her house several times to be sure they are locked before going to bed. Her saving grace is her love of soccer---playing is the only thing that gives her a break from her overworked thought process. She lives in a very, very small town,---the high school consists of one room with each class sitting in groups of four or five desks. So when a girl goes missing, it really has an immense impact on the town. Then Kendall's whole worlds starts to fall apart when the next to go missing is her best friend/sort-of boyfriend.

I liked the character of new kid in town, Jacian. I liked the fact that although he is portrayed as kind of a "bad boy", he is not just cranky for the sake of being labeled "the bad boy". He actually has a pretty decent reason for being so angry at the world when he first arrives. If I was in his shoes, I might be scowling at the world, too.

This is a riveting, frightening, and, at times, very sad story. Shivers galore throughout this entire story, so if you are in the mood for a spine-tingling tale and a fast read, pick this one up and you won't be disappointed.

Visit Lisa McMann's website here!

Purchase Cryer's Cross at: AmazonBN.comBookDepository

Trailer (verrrry creepy!!) :

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Waiting on Wednesday

"Waiting on Wednesday" is a weekly meme hosted by Jill at Breaking the Spine. It lets us all gush about what soon-to-be released books we are jumping-up-and-down excited for.

by Myra McEntire

release date: May 24,2011 by EgmontUSA

"Since the age of fourteen, Emerson Cole has seen strange things – dead things – swooning Southern Belles, soldiers, and other eerie apparitions of the past. She’s tried everything to get rid of the visions: medication, counseling, asylums. Nothing’s worked.

So when Emerson's well-meaning brother calls in yet another consultant from a mysterious organization called the Hourglass, Emerson’s willing to give it one last try.

Michael Weaver is no ordinary consultant. He's barely older than she is; he listens like no one she's ever met before; and he doesn't make her feel the least bit crazy. As Emerson ventures deeper into the world of the Hourglass, she begins to learn the truth about her past, her future--and her very life.

A seductive time-slip novel that merges the very best of the paranormal and science fiction genres, Myra McEntire’s Hourglass is a stunning debut from an author to watch."

My thoughts: This is one I've been anticipating for awhile now, but now that the cover has been revealed, I'm absolutely salivating for it!! It sounds spooky and weird and I can only imagine why they would choose a cover with her walking on the wall like that!! My head is spinning with curiosity!

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

What's New: February Releases and Giveaway!

It's time again for the "What's New?" New Reads List & Giveaway feature here at Stories & Sweeties! Here you'll find a full list of the new releases in YA for the month, and entry to the giveaway. At the end of each month, one lucky winner will get to choose any new release as their prize! February is going to be a great month for new just a few weeks, one of my most anticipated books of the year will be hitting shelves: Desires of the Dead by Kimberly Derting!!

February Releases:
Consumed by Kate Cann
Death Cloud (Young Sherlock Holmes) by Andrew Lane
Dark Moon: A Wereling Novel by Steve Feasey
Delirium by Lauren Oliver
The Demon Trapper's Daughter by Jana Oliver
Haunted by Joy Preble
Jenna & Jonah's Fauxmance by Brendan Halpin
The Trust by Tom Dolby
Waterfall (River of Time) by Lisa T. Bergren

Glitz by Philana Marie Boles
The Locket by Stacey Jay

Angry Young Man by Chris Lynch
Cloaked by Alix Finn
Cryer's Cross by Lisa McMann
Father of Lies by Ann Turner
Floating Island by Rachel Neumeier
Pink by Lily Wilkinson
So Shelly by Ty Roth
Where I Belong by Gwendolyn Heasley
Will Work for Prom Dress by Aimee Farris

Angel: A Maximum Ride Novel by James Patterson


Angelfire by Courney Allison Moulton
Desires of the Dead by Kimberly Derting
Rival by Sara Bennett Wheeler
Secrets and Shadows: A 13 to Life Novel by Shannon Delaney


Babe in Boyland by Jody Elizabeth Gehrman
Leverage by Joshua Cohen


Darkest Mercy by Melissa Marr
Darkness Becomes Her by Kelly Keaton
Haven by Kristi Cook
The Iron Thorn by Caitlin Kittredge
Orchards by Holly Thompson
A Touch Mortal by Leah Clifford
Tortall & Other Lands: A Collection of Tales by Tamora Pierce
Unnatural (An Archangel Academy Novel) by Michael Griffo
The Visconti House by Elsbeth Edgar
Wonderland by Joanna Nadin

Angels and Hunters (The Stoker Sisters #2) by Kailin Gow

(link go to Goodreads)
Please feel free to email me if you notice any YA titles missing! :)

Giveaway Details: One winner will win a February Release of their choice! *see note below
• Contest ends at 11:59 PM, PST on the February 28, 2011.
• Must be 13 or older
• Open internationally. *International winners will be required to choose a book that is available through


A New Look & The January "What's New?" Winner Announced!!

Happy February, everyone!! As you can see, I have a brand spankin' new design here at Stories & Sweeties! Once upon a time, I was a designer for digital scrapbooking supplies, so I thought it would be fun to put some of my retired designs to good use. Except for my little flying cupcake books---drew those especially for the blog. :) I left my banner alone, I like it still and think it perfectly reflects me and what I do here.

I also wanted to announce the winner of the January "What's New" Giveaway!! chose lucky # 102...

Latisha Jean!!!

Congrats!! I'll be emailing you in the morning (because it's dreadfully late right now!) to get your info and find out what January release you'd like sent to you! For everyone else...never fear! The February list of releases and giveaway will be up shortly!! Thanks to every one of you who entered!!