Tuesday, February 28, 2012

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.

The Suburban Strange
by Nathan Kotecki

hitting shelves October 2, 2012 from Houghton Mifflin

Shy Celia Balaustine is befriended by a mysterious group of outliers called The Rosary at her new school, Suburban High. The Rosary exposes Celia to new experiences and ideas that help her break out of her shell. Soon though, Celia discovers something is not quite right at Suburban. Girls at the school begin having near fatal accidents on the eve of their sixteenth birthdays. Who is causing the accidents and why? Celia's own sixteenth birthday is fast approaching and she is inexorably drawn into an underground conflict between good and evil—the Kind and the Unkind—that is bubbling beneath Suburban High.

My thoughts: Suburban Strange sounds completely bizarre and eerie, so it's definitely one I'll be checking out! Plus--cover is awesome!! Love the swirls, the darkness, all the textures and the people just standing around in front of the school. Beautiful!

Monday, February 27, 2012

Review: Fever by Lauren DeStefano

Fever by Lauren DeStefano

publisher: Simon & Schuster

release date: February 21st, 2012

hardcover, 341 pages

intended audience: Young adult (recommend 15+)

series: The Chemical Garden Trilogy, book 2 (review of Wither)


source: from publisher for honest review

Warning! Description and review may contain spoilers for Wither, book 1! If you haven't started this series yet, STOP HERE!

description: Rhine and Gabriel have escaped the mansion, but danger is never far behind.

Running away brings Rhine and Gabriel right into a trap, in the form of a twisted carnival whose ringmistress keeps watch over a menagerie of girls. Just as Rhine uncovers what plans await her, her fortune turns again. With Gabriel at her side, Rhine travels through an environment as grim as the one she left a year ago - surroundings that mirror her own feelings of fear and hopelessness.

The two are determined to get to Manhattan, to relative safety with Rhine’s twin brother, Rowan. But the road there is long and perilous - and in a world where young women only live to age twenty and young men die at twenty-five, time is precious. Worse still, they can’t seem to elude Rhine’s father-in-law, Vaughn, who is determined to bring Rhine back to the mansion...by any means necessary.

In the sequel to Lauren DeStefano’s harrowing Wither, Rhine must decide if freedom is worth the price - now that she has more to lose than ever.

Review: This was...grueling. And while that might sound like such a negative way to start a review, I assure you, this book is just as fascinating as Wither. The story holds you, completely captivated by despair. It starts out so hopeful. Rhine and Gabriel have just escaped the mansion and her cruel father-in-law, Vaughn. They've been through so much, and when they reach the shore, you wonder what good things might happen for them with their newfound freedom. Then one wrong turn and they've landed in a situation as bad as, if not worse, than the one they ran from. From there, it feels like one tribulation to the next---you get little glimmers of hope, just long enough to think their luck might be changing, only to have it all come crashing down again.

Though there may have been moments where I felt my attention start to slip, Lauren Destefano's writing is just as mezmerizing and gritty as in Wither, the imagery so incredibly haunting and disturbing that you can feel the fear, the hopelessness, the sickness, the danger, the determination---her words take you for quite a turbulent emotional ride and it definitely can be hard to stomach at times. Once again, main character Rhine amazed me with her refusal to give in, never losing sight of what she needs to do, despite so many obstacles. I have no idea what could be in store for the finale of this trilogy, but I certainly can't wait to find out.

Lauren DeStefano's website: www.laurendestefano.com

Purchase Fever at: AmazonBN.comBookDepository Indiebound

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Sweetness on Sunday : Chocolate Almond Madeleines

I love Madeleines! The classic sponge cake cookies are so delicate, so yummy, so very french! :D
This time around, I added a little almond extract, dipped them in chocolate, and sprinkled them with finely chopped almonds. Yum!

Makes about 20 cookies.
You'll need a madeleine pan!

4 eggs
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1-2 tsps on almond extract
1/4 tsp salt
2/3 granulated sugar
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 butter
1/2 bag milk chocolate chips (for dipping) or dipping chocolate
1/2 finely chopped almonds (optional)

Preheat oven to 375 . Lightly butter and flour the pan.

•Melt butter and set aside to cool to room temperature.
•Beat together eggs, vanilla, almost extract, and salt at high speed until light and frothy.
•Add sugar 1/3 cup at a time, continue beating on high speed until it's thicker and paler in color, about 7-8 minutes.
•Add in flour, 1/3 cup at a time, gently folding in to egg mixture until its incorporated each time.
•Gently fold in the melted butter.
•Spoon the batter into the cookie molds--it's okay to fill them to the top.
• Bake for 10-12 minutes. Cookies should be light golden and springy in texture. Cool on a cooling rack.

If using chocolate chips for dipping, melt chocolate in a small bowl in the microwave for 30 seconds at a time until almost smooth, then stir with spoon until completely smooth. Add a 1/4 tsp of vegetable oil and stir. Dip the smooth side of each cookie.. If you are sprinkling with almonds, now is the time to do it! When all cookies are dipped, place them on a baking sheet and put them into the fridge for 15 minutes or until the chocolate is set up.
Take them out, let the cookies come back to room temp and then...

Eat!! :D
If you want to skip the last few steps, these are also delicious fresh out of the oven, dusted with a little powdered sugar!

Until next time...

Saturday, February 25, 2012

In My Mailbox {105}

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

So my blog has been pretty quiet this week, and for that I apologize! But I have a good excuse,...more on that in a minute! This week in my mailbox, I got:

For Review:
Grave Mercy by Robin LeFevers
The Repossession by Sam Hawksmoor
Beyond excited for both of these. I have heard some amazing things already about Grave Mercy and when reading the description for The Repossession, I literally got chills!

Many thanks to Hodder Children's and Houghton Mifflin Harcourt for these!

New on my Nook:

Oppression by Jessica Therrien
I actually had a pdf copy from the author of this but I snagged a Nook copy when it was released because it's easier to read on my phone, which I've been doing a lot of lately! But GUYS, this book is awesome so far and right now, it's only 99 cents!! Go grab it! (amazon/barnes)

Ok, so now here's the reason I haven't been blogging much this past week and why my reading time has been limited!
Meet my new baby, Tucker!! ♥♥♥
He's a ten-week-old toy australian shephard. :) Cute as can be,..and yes, daughter and I decided to name him Tucker, like the Unearthly character. Why? Because his daddy was named "Cowboy", so of course, our favorite literary cowboy came to mind! Plus the first day we got him, he napped all day---he was all "tuckered" out.
I thought the name fit perfectly! ;)

Hope everyone had a great week!! Happy reading! :D

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Review: Statistical Probability of Love at First Sight

The Statistical Probability of Love at First Sight by Jennifer E. Smith

publisher: Poppy

release date: January 2nd, 2012

hardcover, 256 pages

intended audience: Young adult


source: from publisher for honest review

description: Who would have guessed that four minutes could change everything?

Today should be one of the worst days of seventeen-year-old Hadley Sullivan's life. She's stuck at JFK, late to her father's second wedding, which is taking place in London and involves a soon to be step-mother that Hadley's never even met. Then she meets the perfect boy in the airport's cramped waiting area. His name is Oliver, he's British, and he's in seat 18C. Hadley's in 18A.

Twists of fate and quirks of timing play out in this thoughtful novel about family connections, second chances and first loves. Set over a 24-hour-period, Hadley and Oliver's story will make you believe that true love finds you when you're least expecting it.

Review: For so long, Statistical Probability of Love at First sight was an ideal, a dream, a hope that something would come along a fill the void left by closing the last page of the perfect romance that was Anna & the French Kiss. And while this book was funny, charming, sweetly romantic, and deeply fascinating while you watched Hadley and Oliver connect to each other, it didn't blow me away like I'd hoped. I did, however, genuinely enjoy every second of reading it and loved being reminded that a even the tiniest details of your day, like having to run back into the house for something you forgot, can change everything...can change your fate.

For a story that takes place in a 24 hour period, you really got to know a good deal about Hadley. I really liked her, she was smart, opinionated, and loyal to her mother to a fault. She's been hurt and that shows in her character. I enjoyed watching a little happiness come her way in the form of cute british guy, Oliver, that she almost instantly connects to. The two characters were fun to watch---they were funny together, played so well off of the other's humor, plus Oliver plays a kind of subtle hero in helping distract her from her fear of flying. It was all very sweet.

They delve deeper into their family lives---we get a good insight on
what Hadley is going through with her Dad and how she is handling her family situation (this subplot was really one of my favorite parts of the story), but with Oliver I kind of felt it really just skimmed the surface of his story. I did feel that the whole story would have drawn me in more if it had been told in the first-person perspective of Hadley.

All in all, a quick, fun, romantic read. It was like a sweet snapshot memory of a couple telling how they met in a crowded airport years and years ago, and they lived happily ever after---at least that's what I hope happens for Hadley and Oliver beyond the last pages of this book. :)

Jennifer E. Smith's website: www.jenniferesmith.com

Purchase Statistical Probability of Love at First Sight at: Amazon BN.com BookDepository Indiebound

A cute touch! One trailer was made for Hadley:

And one for Oliver! :D

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

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.

Darkness Falls
by Jessica Sorensen

releasing on March 17th, 2012

When the disease spread through the world, people had no choice but to go into hiding. The Colony is hidden deep underground, far away from the vampires—humans that were transformed by the disease. The vampires are hideous, starving, and they will kill any human they come across.
Seventeen-year-old Kayla is a Bellator, a warrior that protects The Colony. In order to survive, there are three rules she must follow:
Rule #1—Never go out after dark.
Rule #2—Always carry a weapon.
Rule #3—No matter what, never EVER get bit.
But what happens when the rules Kayla has always lived by can no longer apply?
The Highers run The Colony and accept nothing less than perfection. One slip up can mean death. Kayla has always worked hard to follow the rules and strive for perfection. But during a moment of weakness, she lets her imperfections show. Her punishment is worse than death. She is chosen for The Gathering and is thrown out into a world full of starving vampires.
No one has ever survived The Gathering, at least that’s what Kayla’s been told. But when she runs into a group who insist they were once part of The Gathering, Kayla discovers the Highers have been keeping secrets. Secrets that could lead to a cure.

My thoughts: Main character, Kayla, sounds like a bad-ass. Vampires are back to their rightful place as the baddies(lol). And the cover is awesome. Look at her face---that girl means business! Definitely looking forward to this one!

Monday, February 20, 2012

Cover Story!

Some fantastic covers have been revealed recently! Here's what I came across this week:
(Now, note that some of these might have been out for awhile LOL, I admit I haven't been seeking them out lately! But these are all new to me! :D)

All covers lead to Goodreads. Enjoy the eye candy! :D

My favorites here? Gravity and What's Left of Me. Beautiful!

Saturday, February 18, 2012

In My Mailbox {104}

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

This weeks goodies:

Breadcrumbs by Anna Ursu
So excited to read this one...Thanks, Gabrielle!

Hollow Pike by James Dawson
This one was on my wishlist for awhile now. After seeing a few awesome reviews, I broke down and ordered it. Sounds so creepy---and the cover is amazing. My pic doesn't do it's shimmeriness justice.

For Review:
Shadow & Bone by Leigh Bardugo
This looks pretty amazing---I'd only heard vague things about it before it came in the mail, and after reading the blurb and first pages, I can't wait to get to it.

The Gathering Storm by Robin Bridges
I was super excited to read it after seeing the trailer, but after seeing some mixed reviews, ...well, I'll just have to give it a shot and see what I think! :D

For Review (cont.)
Someone Else's Life by Katie Dale
Gil Marsh by A.C.E. Bauer
Grafitti Moon by Cath Crowley
The Nightmare Garden by Caitlin Kittredge
I hadn't heard much about any of these, aside from seeing the covers around. They all look pretty interesting, though!

Many thanks to Macmillan, Random House, and to Book Depository for shipping free worldwide! :D

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Review: Harbinger by Sara Wilson Etienne

Harbinger by Sara Wilson Etienne

publisher: G.P. Putnam's Sons BYR

release date: February 2nd, 2012

hardcover, 320 pages

intended audience: Young adult


source: from author for honest review

When sixteen-year-old Faye arrives at Holbrook Academy, she doesn't expect to find herself exactly where she needs to be. After years of strange waking visions and nightmares, her only comfort the bones of dead animals, Faye is afraid she's going crazy. Fast.

But her first night at Holbrook, she feels strangely connected to the school and the island it sits on, like she's come home. She's even made her first real friends, but odd things keep happening to them. Every morning they wake on the floors of their dorm rooms with their hands stained red.

Faye knows she's the reason, but what does it all mean? The handsome Kel tries to help her unravel the mystery, but Faye is certain she can't trust him; in fact, he may be trying to kill her - and the rest of the world too.

Review: Before I launch into my review, can I just take a moment to appreciate the amazing cover that graces this book? Amazing. Not only because it's gorgeous (and it most certainly is), but because every single detail is significant to the story; the tarot card design, the eclipsed moon, the aquablue sea. I love that.

So, behind this cover lies a captivating, bone-chilling story, that on the surface appears to be a psychological thriller but is in fact, hiding so much more. It took a few chapters to really sink into this story and get a grip on the characters and setting, but once it got rolling I was shirking chores and daily life to spend time immersed in this fascinating story. This story took twists that left my head spinning. The suspense and mystery played out perfectly...just when you think you know what's going on, the rug is quickly pulled out from under you. Just when you think you know what to expect from any of the characters, they completely surprise you. Each one, even the main character, Faye, was well written, while still keeping a certain air of mystery. There were times where I just couldn't pinpoint who was right, who was wrong, who was real...and who was just plain crazy.

The plot was intricately woven and complex, and while most of the time this is what pulled me in and kept me turning pages deep into the night, there were moments, especially toward the end, where I got a little lost and had to backtrack and reread sections in order to really comprehend what was happening. Also, certain things never quite made sense to me, even in hindsight (i.e. Dr Murdoch and her staff---why on earth were they so cruel?) Still, upon finishing, I closed the book with a definite sense of awe at how the story played out as a whole.

This one will surprise you, I think! Definitely a recommended read when you're in the mood for a psychological thriller with a bit of romance and a paranormal twist!

Visit Sara Wilson Etienne at www.sarawilsonetienne.com.

Purchase Harbinger at: AmazonBN.comBookDepositoryIndiebound

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

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.

Tiger Lily
by Jodi Lynn Anderson

hitting shelves July 3rd, 2012 from HarperTeen

description: (from Harper Catalog)

Before Peter Pan belonged to Wendy Darling, he belonged to the girl with the crow feather in her hair....

Fifteen-year-old Tiger Lily, proud and fierce, wild and misunderstood, doesn’t believe in love stories or happy endings. Then she meets the alluring teenage Peter Pan in the forbidden woods of Neverland and immediately falls under his spell. Bonding over their shared sense of adventure, their competitive nature, and their courageous spirits, the two form an unlikely friendship and an even more unlikely romance. Then Wendy Darlinga girl who is everything Tiger Lily is notarrives on the island, and Tiger Lily discovers how far she is willing to go to keep Peter with her, and in Neverland.

My thoughts: OHHH my gosh----so excited about this one. I love Peter Pan..it's always been one of my very favorite fairy tales, so when I saw this---a story that focuses on Tiger Lily.. SO excited. By the way, not sure if this is the final cover or not. It's what is currently shown in the Harper catalog, so it's subject to change! :D I do, however, LOVE it. The colors are fantastic.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Review: Incarnate by Jodi Meadows

Incarnate by Jodi Meadows

publisher: Katherine Tegan Books

release date: January 31st, 2012

hardcover, 384 pages

intended audience: Young adult

series: Newsoul, book 1


source: from publisher for honest review

New soul

Ana is new. For thousands of years in Range, a million souls have been reincarnated over and over, keeping their memories and experiences from previous lifetimes. When Ana was born, another soul vanished, and no one knows why.

No soul

Even Ana's own mother thinks she's a nosoul, an omen of worse things to come, and has kept her away from society. To escape her seclusion and learn whether she'll be reincarnated, Ana travels to the city of Heart, but its citizens are afraid of what her presence means. When dragons and sylph attack the city, is Ana to blame?


Sam believes Ana's new soul is good and worthwhile. When he stands up for her, their relationship blooms. But can he love someone who may live only once, and will Ana's enemies--human and creature alike--let them be together? Ana needs to uncover the mistake that gave her someone else's life, but will her quest threaten the peace of Heart and destroy the promise of reincarnation for all?

Review: From page one, Incarnate grabbed me and didn't let go. On many levels it surprised me and gave me more than I expected: more fantasy, more romance, and more depth. It was incredibly well-written and touched on things like appreciating life (how does a society that lives forever learn to appreciate anything?) and takes a uniquely twisted look at someone facing prejudices born of fear. When Ana was born, a soul that everyone had knows for 5000 years disappeared and no one knew why. Not only did they take that out on her, but they treated her like she'd had some control over what happened, or like if they let her in they might disappear and be replaced, too---like she was contagious or something. That alone, they way Ana was treated by the old souls and especially by her own mother, added a painful depth to her story and her character. Ana is definitely a character to admire,...throughout the story, she shows immense strength, determination, and passion despite being taught all her life that she is some sort of an abomination.

I loved the romance in this story. I've always been a sucker for chivalry---and Sam definitely had that down. He was the first one to see Ana as a person, and not as some sort of tainted soul. He stands up for her when her attempts to stand up for herself go unheard because of what she is. I love that they have a history and connection before they've even met. But then there is doubt and tension and uncertainty--- I thought it was a perfectly imperfect love story.

The costume ball scene!! *sigh* That's all I will say about that. ;)

I can't think of anything I disliked about this. At times there are a lot of characters to keep straight, and wrapping your mind around the whole reincarnation "timing", with characters coming in and out of each others lives at different ages and as different sexes and still remembering those past lives can be mind-boggling, but it was such a captivating and unique story---I absolutely loved every second!

A perfect quote to show what I mean:

Sine was on my side. I liked her even before I found out she'd been Sam's mother in their previous lives. She'd died during childbirth, and was reincarnated when he was three. As a result, he'd spent his teenage years being mothered by a girl younger than him. Then she'd outlived him, and when he was reborn into this body, she was old enough to be his grandmother. I found it endlessly amusing and confusing.

Definitely give this one a try! I'm so glad to hear this will be a series---there are still some mysteries that need solving here! I'm definitely on board for more!

Visit Jodi at www.jodimeadows.com.

Purchase Incarnate at: AmazonBN.comBookDepositoryIndiebound

Monday, February 13, 2012

Cover Story! Embers & Echoes by Karsten Knight

I was very excited to see Karsten Knight reveal the cover to book #2, Embers & Echoes, today on his blog!

Take a look:


Every flame casts a shadow.

Ashline Wilde is about to discover that when you’re the reincarnation of a Polynesian volcano goddess, “new beginnings” are just a myth.

Leaving the fiery ruins of her sophomore year behind her, Ash travels to the sizzling beaches of Miami, hot on the trail of the little sister she’s only seen in visions. But her happy family reunion isn’t all palm trees and paradise. A cult of evil gods-on-earth, known as the Four Seasons, has kidnapped her sister to use in its terrifying new religion. Soon, the streets of Miami erupt in chaos and violence…and Ash gets caught right in the tropical crossfire

Ash isn’t without help, however. Unexpected romance arrives in the form of Wes, an Aztec god of night with his own vendetta against the Four Seasons. As memories of Ash’s previous life begin to flicker into her dreams, the boundaries between ally and enemy, life and death, and love and hate all bleed together. And when a mysterious trickster from her past reappears to derail her new quest, Ash must choose between the echoes of a once-forgotten yesterday and the embers of an uncertain future.

Because when old flames return from the dead, even a volcano goddess can get burned.

My thoughts: Ok, admittedly, I don't think the new cover is as gorgeous as the Wildefire cover. But it really had a lot to live up to! It's very cool, just a bit "photoshoppy" if that makes sense...but it definitely won't stop me from finding out what happens after that killer of a cliffhanger that Wildefire ended on!

What are your thoughts on the cover?

Sunday, February 12, 2012

One SWEET Giveaway!! Stories & Sweeties is 2 years old!!

Stories & Sweeties turns 2!!!

Stories & Sweeties hit it's two year anniversary in January! I started this little blog right after my birthday in January 2010, with the idea to share my love of books and cupcakes, and what an incredible and rewarding experience it has been. I've met some amazing authors and bloggers, both online and in person because of it, read tons of amazing books, and I couldn't be more grateful for everyone who has stopped by here to visit and share their thoughts with me.

So, of course, this calls for a giveaway!! :D

I have two prize packs that I'm giving away! Both include three books and a super cute 2012 cupcake calender! I have two prize packs to choose from so there will be two winners!!! There are two separate entry forms and you are welcome to enter for each one!!

Pack 1:
Featuring a 2012 Cupcake Calendar + 3 Harper ARCs:
Hallowed by Cynthia Hand
Incarnate by Jodi Meadows
Glimmer by Phoebe Kitanidis

Pack 2:
Features a Cupcake Calendar + a variety of awesome!
Mastiff by Tamora Pierce
Every You, Every Me by David Levithan
Witch Eyes by Scott Tracey
Contest Rules:
• Contest ends February 29, 2012
• Must be 13 or older

*Important Note*: I really wanted to keep this open internationally because I have so many wonderful blog friends and readers that are overseas. However, I do have a budget limit for contest and blog stuff. That said, please feel free to enter if you are willing to pay any portion of the shipping cost that exceeds $15, through paypal and prior to your box being shipped.
Sound fair?

Good luck, everyone---and thanks for all your friendship & support these past two years!!

Saturday, February 11, 2012

In My Mailbox {103}

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 finds for this week!

Born Wicked by Jessica Spotswood
Yay! So excited this is finally out! I still have high hopes for this one, despite a few mixed reviews...

Unraveling Isobel by Eileen Cook
Library came through on my search for this one---wonder why I couldn't find it at any bookstores? I guess I could have ordered it online...but where's the fun in that? lol

Virtuosity by Jessica Martinez
Went to pick up my hold for Unraveling Isobel and saw this right on the shelf! Been wanting to read this one after seeing so many great reviews!

New on my Nook:

For review:
Intangible by J. Meyers
After reading the short prequel to this, I can't wait to get started! Thanks, J!

Free ebook!
Hearts at Stake by Alyxandra Harvey
Thanks to Shannon for pointing out that this was the BN.com Friday Free Book! I snagged it right away---one of those that I always meant to read!

So that's what I picked up this week---what exciting things did you get in your mailbox? :)

Friday, February 10, 2012

Review: Mist by Kathryn James

Mist by Kathryn James

publisher: Hodder Childrens Books

release date: September 1st, 2011

paperback, 310 pages

intended audience: Young adult

series: Mist, book 1


source: from publisher for honest review

description: (from the back of the book---the Goodreads description gives way too much away!)
There's something in the mist-
as beautiful as starlight,
as fierce as wolves,
as heartless as ice.

Midnight in the woods, Nell searches for her sister, who has disappeared in to the mist. She's always thought the stories were old wives' tales.

"Have you heard of the lost girls? They go into the woods and never come back..."

Nell knows she is way out of her depth, but she can't help being drawn to the mist and to the mysterious Evan with his pale skin and charcoal eyes. Does he hold the key to saving her sister?

Review: A fairy tale told to Nell and her sister, Gwen, all of their lives has turned out to be not only creepy tale, but a true and serious warning. Straying into the mist leads you into the perilous world of the elves, and you might never come back. This is a wonderful blend of a coming-of-age story and a chilling fantasy. Nell is an awkward young girl, constantly warding off the condescending coldness from her popular sister's cronies. She wants to be brave, and even has a imaginary alter ego, Helene, that does what Nell wishes she could do and sports the confidence that Nell sometimes lacks. One of the greatest thing about Mist is seeing Nell come into her own and actually find the strength to bring out here inner "Helene".

The characters are all complex and the line between good and bad so expertly blurred. Even Fen, the villian of the story, was multifaceted; on one hand his actions are irrational and insane, on the other you can empathize and understand what pushed him over the edge. And Gwen, who seems selfish and caught up in her own popularity, shows us little sweet glimpes of her sisterly love for Nell. Many others are full of surprising moments, Nell's Dad, her grandma, Evan, Star---they all had so many sides and secrets, and it made them all the more real.

I loved the storytelling in this, it was very well-written, adventurous, engaging. On some level, it seemed right in between a middle grade and a young adult novel. That's in no way a negative comment, but I've read a lot of both and it's hard to explain, but the dialogue and descriptive styles are distinctly different. I love them both, so it didn't detract from my enjoyment of this at all!

Mist was full of fantasy, secret societies, magic. It had a strong theme of bravery and family (and how complicated each can be!) , with a cast of great characters that really make the reader care about their fates. I'm glad to hear that this is a series...there are definitely more adventures I want to go on with Nell, Evan, and company!

Visit Kathryn James' site here.

Purchase Mist at: BookDepositoryAmazon UK
(not currently available in US stores)

Kathryn James reading an excerpt:

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Waiting on Wednesday - The Furry Friends Edition

"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. For my WoWs, I'll be choosing a Sooner (books released in the next month or so) and a Later (books further out). Here's what I'm eagerly anticipating:


by Rachel Hawkins

Hitting shelves March 13th from Hyperion Books

description: (may be spoilers if you haven't read the first two!!)
Just as Sophie Mercer has come to accept her extraordinary magical powers as a demon, the Prodigium Council strips them away. Now Sophie is defenseless, alone, and at the mercy of her sworn enemies—the Brannicks, a family of warrior women who hunt down the Prodigium. Or at least that’s what Sophie thinks, until she makes a surprising discovery. The Brannicks know an epic war is coming, and they believe Sophie is the only one powerful enough to stop the world from ending. But without her magic, Sophie isn’t as confident.

Sophie’s bound for one hell of a ride—can she get her powers back before it’s too late?

My Thoughts: Ok, this may be the furry friends edition, but honestly, I have no idea why there is a cat on every cover of this series! :) But I love this series and all three covers, none the less. Daughter and I are both dying for this one...this is most likely one we'll be heading to the bookstore for the very day it comes out.

by Michelle Sagara

hitting shelves on May 1st from DAW

It began in the graveyard. Ever since her boyfriend Nathan died in a tragic accident Emma had been coming to the graveyard at night. During the day she went through the motions at her prep school, in class, with her friends, but that’s all it was. But tonight was different. Tonight Emma and her dog were not alone in the cemetery. There were two others there—Eric, who had just started at her school, and an ancient woman who looked as though she were made of rags. And when they saw Emma there, the old woman reached out to her with a grip as chilling as death….

My thoughts: This sounds like its made of awesome. Creepy graveyard? Creepy old woman who appears to be made of rags? Doggies?? I'm 100% sold. :)

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Guest Review: A Witch in Winter by Ruth Warburton

A Witch in Winter by Ruth Warburton

publisher: Hodder Children's Books

release date: January 5th, 2012

paperback, 368 pages

intended audience: Young adult

series: Winter Trilogy, Book 1


source: from publisher for honest review
Reviewer: Amy

description: Anna Winterson doesn't know she's a witch and would probably mock you for believing in magic, but after moving to the small town of Winter with her father, she learns more than she ever wanted to about power. When Anna meets Seth, she is smitten, but when she enchants him to love her, she unwittingly amplifies a deadly conflict between two witch clans and splits her own heart in two. She wants to love Seth, to let him love her – but if it is her magic that's controlling his passion, then she is as monstrous as the witch clan who are trying to use her amazing powers for their own gain.


A Witch in Winter is a delightful British tale of a girl named Anna, in the midst of many changes in her life. Not only is she moving towns, changing from private high school to public, adjusting to her dad losing his job and buying a run down fixer upper house that is supposedly haunted, but she also starts to discover who she really is...a secret that's been kept from Anna her whole life. This story weaves an enchanting spell as you find yourself identifying with Anna---I'm sure almost every girl with a crush experiences that timeless wish of casting a love spell that truly works. Only Anna finding herself swept up by the consequences that follow when she truly decides to dapple in magic.

This is a wonderful tale of a young couple that has an undying need or, shall we say, a cosmic pull to be together when the world and powers that be want to tear them apart. The classic tale of boy and girl whose family histories try to stand between them. But the magic of the heart is stronger and Anna finds herself constantly torn with the internal battle of who she really is and if there is any way to correct a magical wrong.

Once Anna finally embraces her true self, the story takes off, taking Anna into many precarious predicaments, but the one constant that always remains is the fact the Anna always stands true to who she is and the choices she makes. Which truly is a breath of fresh air amid a lot of other teenage dramas out there.

I also enjoyed reading about a strong bond between father and daughter that doesn't end in turmoil or face an overabundance of challenges, its just a sweet relationship between a dad (almost completely clueless) and his daughter.

And in a writing style that give the story a poetic feel, the book ends with the same quote that resonates throughout the book, tying up this the story in a nice neat package giving you an actual end. Yes, there always could be another book, but you don't find yourself turning the last page feeling like the book was cut off mid-sentence, luring you in for the second book.

And can I also say the other wonderful charming addition to this story it the fact it was written in the UK which, yes, that means it is filled with wonderful British slang, some of which are still a mystery to me! So if anyone knows what sheets of A4 paper are or what it means to be swooty, then this book is for you (and please let me know!), and if not it just makes the adventure that much more fun. This book is a great read that is completely appropriate for the full spectrum of YA readers, from 12 to 18, and even older.

Visit Ruth Warburton's site here.

Purchase A Witch in Winter at: Book Depository Amazon UK
(not available in the US)

Sunday, February 5, 2012

Sweetness on Sunday: Grand Marnier Truffles

Aside from cupcakes, my other love is chocolate truffles. So today on Sweetness on Sunday, I want you to meet one of my all-time favorites: The Grand Marnier Truffle! A super delicious, creamy milk chocolate and orange liqueur filling dipped in white chocolate. It's also one of my favorites to make because one of my least favorite things to do is temper chocolate, and white chocolate doesn't need to be tempered--hurrah! :D

If you've never made truffles before, here's what you need to know: it's easy, but a bit time consuming. More than a few steps, but worth every single one in the end. So here we go:

For the filling:
12 oz bag milk chocolate chips
1 stick of unsalted butter, softened (1/2 cup if you're not using sticks)
3 egg yolks
1/4 cup Grand Marnier or other orange liqueur

Melt chocolate in a double boiler until completely smooth. Remove from heat and mix in the butter, egg yolks, and grand marnier with a handheld mixer. Pour into a shallow medium-size bowl, cover with plastic wrap, and refrigerate until very firm (about an hour).

For the next step, you'll need a melon baller and a baking sheet lined with wax paper. When filling is cooled and very firm, take a melon baller and form filling into 1 inch balls (the melon baller will scoop out the right amount, but you have to do the shaping with your hands! It's a bit messy!) Place on the baking sheet and place in the freezer for 30 minutes or more. You need them really cold or they will melt into your dipping chocolate! Don't let them get icy, though!

For Dipping:
12 oz bag white chocolate chips
1 tsp vegetable oil

In a microwave (yes!) heat the white chocolate chips 30 seconds at a time, stirring after each cycle until completely melted and smooth. When melted, add the vegetable oil. *note: you can skip the veg oil, but you'll end up with dull truffles. Adding the tiny bit of oil gives them a little shine when they set up.

Taking small batches at a time from the freezer, dip each filling ball into the white chocolate. Give each one a small tap on the side of the bowl to shake off the excess chocolate. This will give less of a pool of chocolate at the bottom of your truffles. Carefully place each one on a sheet of wax paper to set up. *note: if you plan to use decorations or sprinkles of any kind (which I always do! lol) you need to do it before the chocolate dries. It won't stick after that! :) For these, I like to use orange sprinkles---gives a little hint to what's inside!

There you have it! All done! Once they dry, eat a few before they all disappear! :D

Til' next time...