Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Blogger Interview: Abby from The Tabby Catt

I've always been a fan of doing interviews with authors of the books I've fallen in love with and I've seen interviews done with bloggers around the blogosphere and decided I wanted to get in on the action. I've met so many wonderful bloggers since I started my own blog and since the blogosphere is so vast and huge I wanted to do my part to introduce you guys to some fabulous people I've met and their wonderful blogs.

Today I wanted to you guys to meet Abby from The Tabby Catt!

Katelyn: When did you start your blog? What made you want to go from avid reader to book blogger?

Abby: I started THE TABBY CATT on November 16, 2009, originally just as a writer's blog. In February 2010, I stumbled upon the now defunct Traveling ARC Tours and thought, Hold up - I get to read books before they come out and share my opinion about them? Count me in! And so the book blogging aspect of my blog was born.

THE TABBY CATT's primary focus will always be writing, but I am passionate about reading, too, so there will always be a book blogger element to it as well.

Katelyn: You talk on your blog about being in the process of completing your first YA novel. How is that going? Have you always wanted to be a writer? Can you tell us anything about how the process is going for you?

Abby: I completed my first novel, PRODIGAL MAGGIE, an 82,000 word YA contemporary fantasy, last week. It is currently in the hands of my trusty beta readers, and I'm hoping to query later this winter. When I was 5 or 6, I wanted to be a paleontologist (my love of dinosaurs is still going strong), but I've always enjoyed writing and have wanted to be a writer since middle school. I got serious about writing a novel a little over 3 years ago. I've been a full-time writer since then.

Katelyn: What’s your favorite YA book or book series?

Abby: I have trouble picking just one! I love SISTERS RED by Jackson Pearce and LIFE AS WE KNEW IT by Susan Beth Pfeffer (I still need to pick up the rest of that series). NIGHTSHADE by Andrea Cremer had such an incredible cliffhanger ending that I am already plotting ways to acquire a WOLFSBANE ARC once they're available. Beyond YA, my favorites include WORLD WAR Z (which was mind-blowingly detailed, but also gave me nightmares for 6 months), GONE WITH THE WIND, and HARRY POTTER.

Katelyn: Favorite character in a YA book or series?

Abby: Scarlett and Rosie March from SISTERS RED are pretty darn awesome. I also like to argue that HARRY POTTER transitions into YA from about book 4 on, and if I can get away with that, I'll say the inimitable Hermione Granger. Ren Laroche from NIGHTSHADE is another favorite I've read recently that I really enjoyed. He's so a product of his uncouth upbringing, yet his natural sensibilities lead him in an unexpected direction.

Katelyn: Do you tend to read one book at a time or do you spread yourself out and read several all at once?

Abby: I typically read just one book at a time, but I've been known to read 2 or 3, not necessarily at the same time, but picking one up for a few weeks, then another. I do this most often with books I've read many time.

I also find myself going through spurts where I'll read nothing for a while, then devour several books in a short period.

Katelyn: How many books do you usually read a month?

Abby: It's funny - I always thought of myself as a fast reader until I became involved with the blogosphere. Now I know I'm solidly in the middle. Until 2009, I couldn't have answered this question because I simply didn't keep track, but my New Year's Resolution for 2009 and 2010 was to read 3 books per month and keep track of what I read. I didn't make my goal in 2009, and I'm a bit off track for 2010, but I'm hoping to make up for it between now and the New Year.

Katelyn: Anything else fun you want to share with us? Any fun things coming up on the blog?

Abby: I am hosting a Blogoversary/100 Followers giveaway if anyone would like to enter! I am giving away prize packs which include signed copies of Maggie Stiefvater's LINGER, Jackson Pearce's SISTERS RED, and Jennifer Weiner's FLY AWAY HOME. Enter by December 4.

I'd like to say thank you to Katelyn for this wonderful opportunity. This is my first (but hopefully not last) blog interview. And here's hoping in a year or two, an ARC of PRODIGAL MAGGIE is floating around the web on sites like Katelyn's Star Book Tours.

Isn't she great? I hope you guys make your way over to The Tabby Catt and check out her great blog, not to mention enter her fantastic contest for the chance to win those awesome signed books! What's not to love???

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Review: Eyes Like Stars (Théâtre Illuminata #1) by Lisa Mantchev

All her world’s a stage.

Bertie Shakespeare Smith is not an actress, yet she lives in a theater.

She’s not an orphan, but she has no parents.

She knows every part, but she has no lines of her own.

That is, until now.

Enter Stage Right

NATE. Dashing pirate. Will do anything to protect Bertie.

COBWEB, MOTH, MUSTARD SEED, and PEASEBLOSSOM. Four tiny and incredibly annoying fairies. BERTIE’S sidekicks.

ARIEL. Seductive air spirit and Bertie’s weakness. The symbol of impending doom.

BERTIE. Our heroine.

Welcome to the Théâtre Illuminata, where the actors of every play ever written can be found behind the curtain. They were born to play their parts, and are bound to the Théâtre by The Book—an ancient and magical tome of scripts. Bertie is not one of them, but they are her family—and she is about to lose them all and the only home she has ever known.

Lisa Mantchev has written a debut novel that is dramatic, romantic, and witty, with an irresistible and irreverent cast of characters who are sure to enchant the audience.

Open Curtain

I waited a while to start this series but now that I have I can say that Lisa Mantchev put out a cute and quirk read. The imagination that went in to this book, the setting, and the characters were all a lot of fun. It was a little slow in the beginning for me, but picked up quickly and kept pace from there.

Bertie and her "family" of characters from all the classic plays were very entertaining to follow. The four fairies from A Mid Summer Night's Dream were mischievous and hilarious to listen to. Nate, the well mannered gentleman pirate (I know right?) had me rooting for him and Bertie to get together right from the start. And Ariel, while completing the love triangle, did not win my vote. He did have his moments at times throughout the story but for the most part I didn't understand why Bertie was so pulled in by him?

With the second installment, Perchance to Dream, out in stores and currently on my shelf at home, I've got to dig in and find out if Bertie can save Nate and whether or not she'll come to her senses in the romance department! Please Bertie.....

I gave Eyes Like Stars (Théâtre Illuminata #1) 3 shamrocks!!!

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Review: Blood of Gold by B.V. Larson

Her young man stepped out of nowhere onto a mountaintop... Her high school counselor came from Hell. Literally... Haley learns she has a unique gift. She normally lives her life escaping notice, but now two gorgeous strangers are interested in her. Very interested. Seth is the best-looking young man she (or anyone else) has ever met. Every girl in school is after him and the competition turns strangely vicious. She soon realizes that he is not fully bound to this world. Although they both feel the mutual attraction, there’s something holding him back... The second stranger is equally attractive, but more frightening. When she is with him, she somehow loses her self-control. To say more would give away too much, but Las Vegas will never be the same...

Most of the time when I finish with a book I go one of three ways like most readers do. I either love the book, thought the book was OK - good, but not my favorite, or I know it just wasn't for me. While I liked this book I can't really make up my mind about it completely, not sure what I think. This is the first in a series and at this point I wouldn't mind reading the rest, but I don't know that I'm going to rush to get my copies.

Haley and Seth's story is an interesting concept but I'm just not sure I'm in the right mood to appreciate their plight fully. Maybe I needed more romance? Most paranormal/fantasy stories aren't overly realistic so I'm not thinking realism was the problem either. I will say that it felt somewhat unfinished, or in need of some more polish. There were grammatical mistakes and I was left confused at times. To be honest I'm just unsure what the reason was. I don't like to rate books poorly and since nothing really stuck out as wrong per se, I don't want to just nit pick the book until I figure out what I'm trying to put my finger on. Maybe the second book will be more of a fit for me, maybe not? I'm not ruling the series out, I'm just putting it further down on my reading list for now.

I gave Blood of Gold 2 shamrocks!!

Monday, November 15, 2010

Countdown: Recommendations Edition

I read reviews all the time for books that sound great but I've never read anything by the particular author before. So I add them to my TBR pile but tend to prioritize them at the bottom. Well I'm going to try to change that, with these countdown picks coming out in 2011 I'm determined to check them out.

Countdown Pick #1: Will Work for Prom Dress by Aimee Ferris (2/8/2011)

Quigley Johnson has, reluctantly, given up the rest of her last year of high school to take part in her best friend Ann's Betterment Plan, which will turn them into the best-dressed, most sought-after, most admired girls at their senior formal. Because - hey - who doesn't want the perfect prom, complete with a dream dress and a devastatingly handsome date? 

But the prom costs money - lots of money - and even though the girls could easily have Ann's mom design their dresses (she's only Victoria Parisi, one of the most famous designers in the world), Ann insists that they pay their own way.  And that's how Quigley gets stuck making artistic topping masterpieces on frozen pizzas canvases, before becoming a live model for Ms. Parisi's fashion design class, where she meets Zander.

He's cute, and cool, and funny, with a killer design sensibility (even if he can't sketch).  But is he too good to be true? And what about David, the hot, talented artist at school, who's also kind of a jerk, but won't leave Quigley alone? And Ann - she started the Betterment Plan to improve Quigley and herself, but it seems like it's ripping their friendship to shreds.

This road to the prom dream may just end in disaster.

Every review and rating I read for her previous work, Girl Overboard (S.A.S.S.) had nothing but four or five stars and positive things to say. So when I heard about this release I couldn't resist adding this to my countdown. Who doesn't love a good romantic comedy? With two boys showing interest in our main character Quigley, how's she supposed to choose who the better guy is and who she wants to go to prom with? Sign me up! It sounds like Ferris is setting us up for the perfect combination of romance, fashion, dancing, flirting and fun all around. From only seeing the small description on Goodreads I'm think this is going to have wit and a heroine with spunk that is willing to go to great lengths and put up with unconventional jobs if it means a great date for the prom and a great dress to where when that dates picks her up!

Countdown Pick #2: The Romeo and Juliet Code by Phoebe Stone (1/1/2011)

Phoebe Stone, author of the sleeper hit DEEP DOWN POPULAR, is back with a middle-grade code-breaking mystery full of romance and excitement. Think CHASING VERMEER meets THE SECRET GARDEN!

Felicity's glamorous parents have a secret. When they leave her with distant relatives in Maine, Felicity hopes they won't leave her long. Her new Uncle Gideon hides things. Her Aunt Miami is star-crossed. And Derek, a kid her age, refuses to leave his room.

But Felicity needs Derek's help. Gideon is getting coded letters from Felicity's parents, and she's sure they're in trouble. Can Felicity crack the code, heal the family and save her parents, all while surviving her first crush? It's a tall order, but - like THE SECRET GARDEN'S Mary Lennox before her - Felicity's up for the challenge.

With so many of my fellow bloggers raving about her previous novel, Deep Down Popular, I had to check this author out. When I got wind of this future release I was a gonner. It's sounds like it has plenty of potential to be such a sweet romance with mystery and a side of intrigue thrown into the mix. How could I pass this one up? I'm sure I'll be rooting for Felicity while she tries to solve the mystery involving her parents and the cryptic letters they're sending her temporary guardian (and uncle). Hopefully she's turn out to be a cuter version of Nancy Drew and let's not forget that she's also going to be doing her best to survive her first crush!

Countdown Pick #3: Drought by Pam Bachorz (1/11/2011)

Ruby Prosser dreams of escaping the Congregation and the early-nineteenth century lifestyle that’s been practiced since the community was first enslaved.

She plots to escape the vicious Darwin West, his cruel Overseers, and the daily struggle to gather the life-prolonging Water that keeps the Congregants alive and gives Darwin his wealth and power. But if Ruby leaves, the Congregation will die without the secret ingredient that makes the Water special: her blood.

So she stays. 

But when Ruby meets Ford, the new Overseer who seems barely older than herself, her desire for freedom is too strong. He’s sympathetic, irresistible, forbidden—and her only access to the modern world. Escape with Ford would be so simple, but can Ruby risk the terrible price, dooming the only world she’s ever known?

Dystopian novels have recently became a favorite of mine after hearing a lot of positive feedback about Bachorz's previous work, Candor, I check into this one. With strict rules, a government like body of individuals controlling everyone's lives and survival being at the forefront of everyone's mind, I can't imagine not being swept up in Bachorz's world. The cover and description for this one had me hooked and wishing it was January already. With the main character Ruby, as the key reason her people are surviving this post apocalyptic world, her chances of a future of freedom are very slim. Her blood more specifically is the key to everyone's survival but if she has the chance to run, will she take it? She'd be free but what about every other person depending on for their survival? Can she leave them all behind knowing what will happen to them once they don't have her blood anymore? I'm thinking this is sure to be a tense read to get through filled with suspense, maybe some romance, and a lot of action, YES!

Countdown Pick #4: Flying Blind (The Dragon Diaries, #2) by Deborah Cooke (6/7/2011)

The next generation of shape-shifting dragons from the popular author of the Dragonfire novels. 

Zoë Sorensson is perfectly normal, except she's been told she's destined for great things. Zoë's the one female dragon shapeshifter of her kind. But Zoë is at the bottom of the class when it comes to being Pyr and her powers are AWOL, so she's sent to a Pyr boot camp.

Zoë quickly realizes that she has to master her powers yesterday, because the Pyr are in danger and boot camp is a trap. The Mages want to eliminate all shifters and the Pyr are next in line-unless Zoë and her friends can work together and save their own kind.

While this looks to be her YA debut, I've heard great things about her adult series. Cooke won my vote when she chose to write about dragons and shifters and all things magical! There are not enough stories involving dragons on the shelves today if you ask me (which no one did but oh well) and I'm looking forward to the new addition. So add this to your list because it's got the makings to be truly great and you don't want to be in the dark when everyone's talking about it, come June. With shape shifting beings with major powers to learn and control at the top of this society suddenly becoming threatened by the mages, it's up to our main character (naturally) to save the day. Hopefully she'll have some help and be able to master her powers in time, but either way I'm not expecting a boring and uneventful tale. This will be the series opener and I'm curious to see if Cooke has the chops to make this dragon tale exciting and addicting enough to keep readers coming back for future installments.

Stay tuned for another edition of countdown in the days to come! Got any that I should add to my list? I'm always looking for more recommendations and suggestions to keep my ever growing TBR list never ending!

Sunday, November 14, 2010

In My Mailbox (30)

This is a meme that I first heard about from Kristi over at The Story Siren and immediately wanted to jump on board.

Here's what I got, what did you guys get this week?

For Review:

Possessions (Possessions #1) by Nancy Holder (thanks Nancy)

Lindsay is hoping for a fresh start, to get out of San Diego, where everyone remembers when she had her breakdown, and get away to boarding school, even if it is a boarding school as creepy as Marlwood Academy. But Lindsay is happier, and even manages to make a great new friend, Julie. Then, the school's most popular girl, Mandy starts acting super creepy. Rumors abound, but it's becoming more and more clear to Lindsay that something else is at work...something darker and more dangerous than just a houseful of mean girls.

How freaky is that cover? Yikes!

The Evil Within (Possessions #2) by Nancy Holder (thanks Nancy)

Evil is a lot harder to fight when it comes from within In this sequel to New York Times bestselling author Nancy Holder’s Possessions, Lindsay finds out that she, too, is possessed, and must return to creepy Marlwood Academy in order to rid herself of the spirit. Lindsay’s afraid of what the spirit is telling her to do—kill Mandy! But the secrets of Marlwood go much deeper than Lindsay thought. Sometimes the girls who seem like enemies are actually on your side. And the voices you trust the most—the voices that come from within—are the ones that want you dead.

So if I thought the first book's cover was scary, this one was so much worse, lol!

The Anti-Prom by Abby McDonald (thanks Candlewick Publishing)

Three unlikely allies team up for a night of rebellion, romance, and revenge in a high-stakes dramedy from acclaimed young author Abby McDonald.

They’ve spent years at the same high school without speaking a word to one another, but that’s all about to change. Popular Bliss was having the perfect prom until she found her BFF and boyfriend making out in the back of a limo. Bad girl Jolene wouldn’t be caught dead at the prom, yet here she is, trussed up in pink ruffles, risking her reputation for some guy - some guy who is forty minutes late. And shy, studious, über-planner Meg never counted on her date’s standing her up and leaving her idling in the parking lot outside the prom. Get ready for The Anti-Prom, Abby McDonald’s hilarious, heart-tugging tale about three girls and one unforgettable prom night.


A Great and Terrible Beauty (Gemma Doyle #1) by Libba Bray

A Victorian boarding school story, a Gothic mansion mystery, a gossipy romp about a clique of girlfriends, and a dark other-worldly fantasy--jumble them all together and you have this complicated and unusual first novel.

Sixteen-year-old Gemma has had an unconventional upbringing in India, until the day she foresees her mother's death in a black, swirling vision that turns out to be true. Sent back to England, she is enrolled at Spence, a girls' academy with a mysterious burned-out East Wing. There Gemma is snubbed by powerful Felicity, beautiful Pippa, and even her own dumpy roommate Ann, until she blackmails herself and Ann into the treacherous clique. Gemma is distressed to find that she has been followed from India by Kartik, a beautiful young man who warns her to fight off the visions. Nevertheless, they continue, and one night she is led by a child-spirit to find a diary that reveals the secrets of a mystical Order. The clique soon finds a way to accompany Gemma to the other-world realms of her visions "for a bit of fun" and to taste the power they will never have as Victorian wives, but they discover that the delights of the realms are overwhelmed by a menace they cannot control. Gemma is left with the knowledge that her role as the link between worlds leaves her with a mission to seek out the "others" and rebuild the Order.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Countdown: Fave Authors, Sequels and great Series' Edition

I don't know about you but when I find myself falling in love with a book or an author's writing I can't wait to get my hands on the sequel, the next installment, or any other work that the author's written. So in 2011 here are just a few that fit into that category.

Countdown Pick #1: Shadowspell (Fairiewalker #2) by Jenna Black (1/4/2011)

On top of spending most of her time in a bunkerlike safe house and having her dates hijacked by a formidable Fae bodyguard, Faeriewalker Dana Hathaway is in for some more bad news: the Erlking and his pack of murderous minions known as the Wild Hunt have descended upon Avalon. With his homicidal appetite and immortal powers, the Erlking has long been the nightmare of the Fae realm. 

A fragile treaty with the Faerie Queen, sealed with a mysterious spell, is the one thing that keeps him from hunting unchecked in Avalon, the only place on Earth where humans and Fae live together. Which means Dana’s in trouble, since it’s common knowledge that the Faerie Queen wants her – and her rare Faeriewalker powers – dead. The smoldering, sexy Erlking’s got his sights set on Dana, but does he only seek to kill her, or does he have something much darker in mind?

Glimmerglass became an instant favorite of mine and all I want to do is get my hands on a copy of this book, the second installment in the Fairiewalker series, and curl up in a comfy chair with a hot posset (I was lucky enough to get the actual recipe from Black) and not get up until I've finished it...unless of course I need to make a second hot posset. Our favorite girl, Dana now knows she's special and she's working on getting a handle on her new status among the fey and all of Avalon. With the Erlking making an entrance in this book and setting his sights on Dana (of course) I can't wait to see what his angle is and what he's really after? Does he just want to use Dana for his possibly nefarious purposes or could there be more to it? Knowing Black's creativity, readers are sure to be in a for a wild ride.

Countdown Pick #2: Lemniscate (Angel Star #2) by Jennifer Murgia (3/21/2011)

For Teagan, these last few months have been heaven on earth - especially now that Garreth, her boyfriend and guardian angel, is earthbound. But perhaps Garreth is becoming a little more human than either of them expected.
Now, Teagan must realize that her world is once again about to shift, as she questions the faith she held in others against those once considered enemies.

In this continuation of Angel Star, Lemniscate will draw you even deeper into the world of dark and light as Teagan realizes the angel who could possibly save them all is the one angel she feared the most.

The second book in the Angel Star series made the countdown, why you ask? Two reasons. One, I adore all things Jennifer Murgia. I've had the pleasure of meeting and hanging out with her and she couldn't be nicer, not to mention the fact that she's a fantastic writer. And two, because I simply fell in love with her characters in Angel Star and can't wait to see what happens to them all next! Muria had be rooting for Teagan, swooning over Garreth, and kind of scared of everything they had working against them. I'm anxious to see how Teagan and Garreth's relationship is going, I'm crossing my fingers for bliss...but I'm not going to hold my breath. I'm sure there are lots of obstacles ahead, bumps in the road and plenty of bad heading their way in the form of a familiar dark angel. Don't break my heart Jennifer!

Countdown Pick #3: Starstruck by Cyn Balog (7/12/2011)

Gwendolyn "Dough" X doesn't think she has much going for her—she carries a few extra pounds, her family struggles with their small bakery in a town full of millionaires, and the other kids at her New Jersey high school don't seem to know that she exists. Thank the stars for her longtime boyfriend, Philip P. Wishman—or "Wish." He moved away to California three years ago, when they were 13, but then professed his love for her via e-mail, and he's been her long-distance BF ever since. 

At the beginning of her junior year, though, Wish e-mails that he's moving back to Jersey. Great, right? Well, except that Dough has gained about 70 pounds since the last time Wish saw her, while Wish—according to his Facebook photos—has morphed into a blonde god. Convinced that she'll be headed for Dumpsville the minute Wish lays eyes on her, Dough delays their meeting as long as she possibly can.

But when she sees Wish at school, something amazing happens. He looks at Dough like she's just as gorgeous as he is. But Wish is acting a little weird, obsessed with the sun and freaked out by rain. And the creepy new guy working at the bakery, Christian, is convinced that there's more to Wish's good looks than just healthy eating and lots of sun. He tells Dough that a mark on Wish's neck marks him as a member of the Luminati—an ancient cult of astrologers who can manipulate the stars to improve their lives. Is Wish and Dough's love meant to be—or are they star-crossed?

This made the countdown because I am definitely a member of the Cyn Balog fan club. She's a ton of fun to hang out with, her stories catch you, hook, line and sinker. Not to mention each of her books always keep me wanting more, more, more. So when I heard about this one, there was no hesitation, I couldn't wait to put it on my wish list. It sounds like a coming of age story about a girl who slowly learns who she is and what is really important. Cyn has a way of taking common story lines and drastically turning them upside down and inside out in the most wonderful ways. Just when you think you know what will happen or what to expect around the next curve, she throws you for a loop and surprises you with an outcome that leaves you reeling. In her previous books, like Fairy Tale, and Sleepless, I always thought I knew how I wanted them to end (but I was never right) and then Cyn would write the ending in a way that I never would have expected and of course it was ten times better than I dared to hope for.

Countdown Pick #4: Fins Are Forever (Fins #2) by Tera Lynn Childs (6/28/2011)

On Lily Sanderson’s eighteenth birthday she’ll become just a girl—still a mergirl, true, but signing the renunciation will ink Princess Waterlily of Thalassinia out of existence. That leaves plain old Lily living on land, dating the boy she loves, and trying to master this being-human thing once and for all.

Now that Lily and Quince are together, mer bond or not, she’s almost content to give up her place in the royal succession of Thalassinia. But just when she thinks she has everything figured out, the waves start to get rough. Lily’s father sends a certain whirlpool-stirring cousin to stay with her on land. What did Doe do to get herself exiled from Thalassinia and stuck in terraped form, when everyone knows how much she hates humans? And why why why is she batting her eyelashes at Lily’s former crush, Brody?

The seafoam on the raging surf comes when a merboy from Lily’s past shows up—Tellin asks Lily for something that clouds her view of the horizon. There’s a future with Quince on land, her loyalty to the kingdom in the sea, and Lily tossing on the waves in the middle. Will she find a way to reconcile her love, her duty, and her own dreams?

TLC's series' are fun, light reads. I flew through her Oh.My.Gods. series and the first installment in the Fins series, Forgive My Fins, and I'm really looking forward to her quick pace and fun plots. Plus, who doesn't love mermaids? There aren't too many series out on the shelves at the moment that feature this particular paranormal/fantastical creature, and a change is nice every once in a while. There sounds like there's going to be a lot going on in this one and I don't think anyone will want to miss a moment of it. Lily and Quince are together but lots will be thrown in their path, but will they be able to power through? Will it be too much for these two new love birds, and end up tearing the two of them apart? I hope not, Lily put Quince through so much the last time around that I'd hate to see him get hurt all over again, especially after the two of them finally got what they wanted...or did they? I'm sure planning on devouring this one the first chance I get to find out for myself if true love conquers all.

Countdown Pick #5: Stolen Nights (Vampire Queen #2) by Rebecca Maizel (3/15/2011)

Lenah Beaudonte should be dead. But having sacrificed herself to save another, she finds herself awakening with strange powers that are neither vampire nor human - and a new enemy on her trail. In her vampire life, Lenah had thought that being human was all she ever wanted; but the human heart suffers pain, heartbreak and loss. With her new powers growing and the dark force of the Nex after her soul, Lenah faces a choice: between the mortal love of gorgeous Justin, whose passion fed her human soul, and taking a different path to become the mistress of her own destiny, wherever that may lead ...

While I love a good change, I've always been a sucker for a good vampire story and this trilogy pulled me right in. Maizel sold me after I found myself heartbroken after only the first two chapters in her first installment in the Vampire Queen series, Infinite Days. The way I see it...any author who has me so invested in the characters before I even get a good way into the book that I'm having an emotional overload by chapter two is a great one in my eyes. I'll probably be in tears by page two this time around. Here's hoping it lives up to the fabulous first installment. Maizel and the publishing house aren't giving out too many details about this one but I can only imagine greatness is in store. So as much as I'm itching to hear where this one will take readers, I'm even more excited to get my hands on the actual thing!

Countdown Pick #6: Rage (The Horsemen of the Apocalypse #2) by Jackie Morse Kessler (4/18/2011)

Missy didn’t mean to cut so deep. But after the party where she was humiliated in front of practically everyone in school, who could blame her for wanting some comfort? Sure, most people don’t find comfort in the touch of a razor blade, but Missy always was . . . different. That’s why she was chosen to become one of the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse: War. Now Missy wields a new kind of blade—a big, brutal sword that can cut down anyone and anything in her path. But it’s with this weapon in her hand that Missy learns something that could help her triumph over her own pain: control. A unique approach to the topic of self-mutilation,Rage is the story of a young woman who discovers her own power and refuses to be defeated by the world. 

Jackie's first book in the Horsemen of the Apocalypse series, and her YA debut, Hunger really gave me pause. She talks about real issues, topics that usually are avoided or are just not as common among young adult literature, and subjects that scare me, but at the same time she does an amazing job bringing these issues to every reader's attention. I'm looking forward to what she brings next. Hunger was all about finding balance in yourself, in life and in everything around you. This time Jackie has readers learning the value of control. After the major affect she had on me with her first installment in the series, I can only imagine how powerful this second installment is sure to be for me, and for all her readers.

Stay tuned for another edition of the countdown and more fantastic reads to look forward to in 2011!

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Review: City of Glass (The Mortal Instruments #3) by Cassandra Clare

To save her mother's life, Clary must travel to the City of Glass, the ancestral home of the Shadowhunters -- never mind that entering the city without permission is against the Law, and breaking the Law could mean death. To make things worse, she learns that Jace does not want her there, and Simon has been thrown in prison by the Shadowhunters, who are deeply suspicious of a vampire who can withstand sunlight.

As Clary uncovers more about her family's past, she finds an ally in mysterious Shadow-hunter Sebastian. With Valentine mustering the full force of his power to destroy all Shadow-hunters forever, their only chance to defeat him is to fight alongside their eternal enemies. But can Downworlders and Shadowhunters put aside their hatred to work together? While Jace realizes exactly how much he's willing to risk for Clary, can she harness her new found powers to help save the Glass City -- whatever the cost?

Love is a mortal sin and the secrets of the past prove deadly as Clary and Jace face down Valentine in the final installment of the New York Times bestselling trilogy The Mortal Instruments.

It ended up being a tie for me, I can't decide while installment I like best in the series, but this one came dangerously close to blowing the other two out of the water. With everything that's happened and all the tension and suspense that has been building, City of Glass had a wonderful way of drawing everything to a close and sewing up the loose ends.

Jace and Clary struggled (like always) with the revelations that were put upon them but battled through like the strong characters that they are. Poor Simon had already had his work cut out for him, but this latest chapter in The Mortal Instruments series really put him in a bad position. I sympathized with him throughout and yet he still remained the unyielding friend that he's always been to Clary. Gotta love the guy for that right?

Clary takes great risks but is rewarded as well as punished through her adventures so I think it finally evened out for her. Now Sebastian on the other hand I didn't like from the start all the way to the finish, but I tip my hat to Clare for writing such a unique character that I simply couldn't get out of my head. With the downworlders and shadowhunters fighting for their lives, I enjoyed watching them all come together for their shared goal. And Clary's mother and Luke? I really wasn't expecting to hear of an old love triangle but really liked their back story and getting more insight into their past. We got to know them so much better and finally understood how everything really began and came to be the way it is presently.

This series made the New York Times bestsellers list for a reason and there are now Clare fans everywhere dying for more of her work to hit the shelves...and soon!

I gave City of Glass (The Mortal Instruments #3) 4 shamrocks!!!!

Monday, November 8, 2010

Review: City of Ashes (The Mortal Instruments #2) by Cassandra Clare

Clary Fray just wishes that her life would go back to normal. But what's normal when you're a demon-slaying Shadowhunter, your mother is in a magically induced coma, and you can suddenly see Downworlders like werewolves, vampires, and faeries? If Clary left the world of the Shadowhunters behind, it would mean more time with her best friend, Simon, who's becoming more than a friend. But the Shadowhunting world isn't ready to let her go -- especially her handsome, infuriating, newfound brother, Jace. And Clary's only chance to help her mother is to track down rogue Shadowhunter Valentine, who is probably insane, certainly evil -- and also her father.

To complicate matters, someone in New York City is murdering Downworlder children. Is Valentine behind the killings -- and if he is, what is he trying to do? When the second of the Mortal Instruments, the Soul-Sword, is stolen, the terrifying Inquisitor arrives to investigate and zooms right in on Jace. How can Clary stop Valentine if Jace is willing to betray everything he believes in to help their father?

Who wasn't sad and seriously surprised to find out the big revelation about Clary and Jace and their connection at the end of City of Bones? I felt so bad for Clary and was still reeling over the revelation when I picked up City of Ashes. Now that Clary has her mom back the goal has changed this time around. She no longer needs to find her mother but now she must find her father, the evil Valentine, in order to find the cure for her mother's magically induced coma. Poor girl right? Her mom is in a coma, her dad is evil and feared throughout Downworld, and her brother is the boy she was crushing on and growing so close to before their parentage was revealed. Not so sure any of us would come out of that situation unscathed for that matter.

And with the killings of downworlder children Clary doesn't really have a whole lot of time to get a grip on her new situation. The Inquisitor was a new and interesting addition to Clare's world of Shadowhunters and she played the role perfectly. Simon and Clary explore their friendship and changing feelings and I didn't like it. Simon's a sweetheart but I still don't think they're right for each other. It's just not there like it was for Clary and Jace. But I know, now that we know they're related that can't work anymore. I'm just thinking Clare will turn everything around and find a way to make everything work out. Please Cassandra, take the revelation back and make it all right in Downworld again!

I gave City of Ashes (The Mortal Instruments #2) 4 shamrocks!!!!

Sunday, November 7, 2010

In My Mailbox (29)

This is a meme that I first heard about from Kristi over at The Story Siren and immediately wanted to jump on board.

Here's what I got, what did you guys get this week?

For Review:

The False Princess by Eilis O'Neal (thanks to Eilis)

Princess and heir to the throne of Thorvaldor, Nalia knows her role in life. But everything changes when she learns, just after her sixteenth birthday, that she is a false princess–a stand-in for the real Nalia, who has been hidden away for her protection. Cast out with little more than the clothes on her back, the girl now called Sinda must leave behind the city, her best friend, Kiernan, and the only life she’s ever known.

While struggling with her new peasant life, Sinda discovers that magic runs through her veins–long-suppressed, dangerous magic that she must learn to control. Returning to the city to seek answers, she instead uncovers a secret that could change the course of Thorvaldor’s history forever.

The City in the Lake by Rachel Neumeier (thanks Rachel)

THE KINGDOM’S HEART is the City. The City’s heart is the King. The King’s heart is the Prince. The Prince is missing.

Ever since the Prince disappeared, nothing has been right in the Kingdom. Something has disturbed the strange, old magic that whispers around its borders . . . something cunning and powerful. And the disturbance extends to the farthest reaches of the Kingdom, including the idyllic village where Timou is learning to be a mage under her father’s tutelage.

When Timou’s father journeys to the City to help look for the Prince, but never returns, Timou senses that the disturbance in the Kingdom is linked to her—and to the undiscovered heritage of the mother she never knew. She must leave her village, even if it means confronting powers greater than her own, even though what she finds may challenge everything she knows. Even if it means leaving love behind.

The Floating Islands by Rachel Neumeier (thanks Rachel)

When Trei loses his family in a tragic disaster, he must search out distant relatives in a new land. The Floating Islands are unlike anything Trei has ever seen: stunning, majestic, and graced with kajurai, men who soar the skies with wings.Trei is instantly sky-mad, and desperate to be a kajurai himself. The only one who fully understands his passion is Araene, his newfound cousin. Prickly, sarcastic, and gifted, Araene has a secret of her own . . . a dream a girl cannot attain.Trei and Araene quickly become conspirators as they pursue their individual paths. But neither suspects that their lives will be deeply entwined, and that the fate of the Floating Islands will lie in their hands. . . .Filled with rich language, and told in alternating voices, The Floating Islands is an all-encompassing young adult fantasy read.

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Review: City of Bones (The Mortal Instruments #1) by Cassandra Clare

When fifteen-year-old Clary Fray heads out to the Pandemonium Club in New York City, she hardly expects to witness a murder - much less a murder committed by three teenagers covered with strange tattoos and brandishing bizarre weapons. Then the body disappears into thin air. It's hard to call the police when the murderers are invisible to everyone else and when there is nothing - not even a smear of blood - to show that a boy has died. Or was he a boy? This is Clary's first meeting with the Shadowhunters, warriors dedicated to ridding the earth of demons. It's also her first encounter with Jace, a Shadowhunter who looks a little like an angel and acts a lot like a jerk. Within twenty-four hours Clary is pulled into Jace's world with a vengeance, when her mother disappears and Clary herself is attacked by a demon. But why would demons be interested in ordinary mundanes like Clary and her mother? And how did Clary suddenly get the Sight? The Shadowhunters would like to know....

When I first found this series I was pretty wary of the title, and the sound of it to be honest. I hadn't read any reviews and didn't have the blog up and running, but I thought I'd give it a try. I'm so glad I did and Cassandra Clare became an instant favorite of mine and has stayed that way every since.

Clare's way of introducing Clary into the Shadowhunter's world was perfect and wonderful. Readers were able to come along on the journey with her and I loved every minute of it. She's thrown into this world and not given a very warm welcome to say the least. Demons are attacking, her mother is kidnapped, her new "friends" are not so friendly and this new sight of hers is a gift she can't give back. Clare's writing is all-consuming and I learned quickly to clear my schedule when picking up one of her books. I never want to put them down once I've cracked the spine (OK so I wouldn't ever literally crack a book's spine, but you get my drift) and can't tear myself away once I'm into it.

Clary's dynamic with the shadowhunters is interesting and each is unique, but none more so than the one with Jace. He's gorgeous, strong, protective (just not always of her) and ornery to-boot! But we've all loved the bad boy at some point in time, (maybe even more than once) so who can blame Clary when she can't help the draw she feels towards him. It makes for a fun and thrilling series and this first installment had me out shopping for the sequel, City of Ashes to see what happened next.

I gave City of Bones (The Mortal Instruments #1) 4 shamrocks!!!!


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