Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Waiting on Wednesday: Fairies and the Quest for Never Land

"Waiting On" Wednesday is a weekly event, hosted by Jill at Breaking the Spine, that spotlights upcoming releases that we're eagerly anticipating.

My pick this week is...

Fairies and the Quest for Never Land
by Gail Carson Levine
Releases on June 1, 2010.

Sometimes I love to devour cute, whimsical stories.  Even though I haven't read the other books in this series, this one looks adorable and fits the bill for my whimsical moments.  Plus, it's written by Gail Carson Levine (author of Ella Enchanted, Ever, Fairest etc) so you know it's gonna be good! 

Summary from Amazon:

Gwendolyn Carlisle loves fairies, perhaps too much. On her birthday, she receives the precious “kiss” necklace which has been passed down from mother to daughter ever since Peter Pan gave it to Wendy Darling. That night, Gwendolyn has the first of her visions—tantalizing, lifelike visions, almost as if she were actually in Fairy Haven. She sees animal talent fairy Beck give a pie to wise Mother Dove and hears the voices of water-talent Rani and even Tinker Bell herself.

More than anything, Gwendolyn wishes she could be there. When she is just about to lose hope, Peter Pan comes at last and blows fairy dust on her. The instant they reach Never Land, she sets out to find fairies. But the fairies are not eager to meet her.

Then the evil Kyto, a dragon the fairies once helped to capture, escapes. He intends to destroy Never Land, starting with Fairy Haven. The fairies have but one choice: they must stop Kyto. As they set out on their desperate quest—a quest that could be their very last—the fairies must decide if Gwendolyn can help or hinder. . . .

Infused with magic and feeling, and bursting with excitement, this thrilling tale is the third in the celebrated series of illustrated novels from Newbery Honor winning author Gail Carson Levine and renowned illustrator David Christiana.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Introducing...BookCrossing 2.0!

WOW! BookCrossing has a new face...BookCrossing 2.0 is up and running!  We BCers knew it would eventually happen, so I backed up my html code from my profile and hoped for the best.  It's very different from what I'm used to and here's some changes I've noticed and my thoughts about it so far:

- Your name and statistics are front and center.  That's pretty cool since the font of the statistics before seemed much smaller.

- I like that my website URL (yep this blog) is completely visible (before it felt hidden and unimportant).  

- Most of my profile is hidden and you have to select "extended profile" to view it.  I put a lot of effort into creating and updating my profile.  Other BCers can see that I'm active and I like to share my progress in reading challenges, so I'm a little bummed that it's not automatically visible. I hope BC makes this optional.

- I lost some friends. I had at least 19 and now I'm down to 15, so I have to figure out who's missing.

I'm going to explore the site for a week and get used to it before I form a complete opinion about it.  It's cool that the BC creators genuinely want our feedback to improve user satisfaction.  Based on some of the comments in the forum, it might take a while to get the kinks out.  We'll see...but for now I'm going over there to hang out.  Let me know what you think about the new BookCrossing.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Waiting on Wednesday: Infinite Days

"Waiting On" Wednesday is a weekly event, hosted by Jill at Breaking the Spine, that spotlights upcoming releases that we're eagerly anticipating.

My pick this week is...

Infinite Days
by Rebecca Maizel
Releases on August 3, 2010

Summary on Amazon: She longs to be like everybody else. But her history is written in blood...

Lenah Beaudonte is in many ways your average sixteen-year-old: the “new girl,” she struggles to fit in enough to survive at school, and stand out enough to catch the eye of the golden-boy captain of the lacrosse team. But her challenges are beyond what anyone could have expected. Lenah just happens to be a recovering five-hundred-year-old vampire turned human…

She’s just awakened from a century-long hibernation and each passing hour hears another tick of the time-bomb, counting down to the moment when her abandoned vampire coven will open the crypt where she should be sleeping, and find her gone. As her borrowed days slip by, Lenah resolves to live her newfound life as fully as the passing moments allow. But, to do so, she must first answer the ominous questions at hand: Can an ex-vampire survive in a time and place so alien to her? What can Lenah do to protect her new friends from the bloodthirsty menace about to descend upon them? And how is she ever going to pass her biology midterm?

This sounds like a fun new twist on the tiring girl-meets-boy vampire story. 

Grad School + TBR list = Lots of Summer Reading!

I'm happy to share the news that I was offered admission into an amazing graduate program at the University of Maryland!  I accepted the spot right away and now I'm preparing myself for classes in the fall.  The graduate degree I'm pursuing is a Master's in Library Science (MLS) that someday I'll become a librarian!  The program is completely online, which I'm thrilled about because I don't have to worry about commuting to school after work.  On top of that, I was offered an incredible scholarship!  Yay!!!  :)

Since I will be extremely busy come fall (for at least the next two years), I want to kick my leisure reading into high gear over the summer.  My TBR list is long and gets longer by the day.  My strategy for summer reading is to focus on completing as many series as I can (with a few one shot books thrown in).  Here's a list of series I might work on (I've started most of them, but will read the beginning books again to reacclimate myself with the story lines):

Artemis Fowl by Eoin Colfer
I've only read 1 and a half books, but I own most of them so it should be easy to get through.

Percy Jackson and the Olympians by Rick Riordan 
I read the first book and saw the movie. Didn't enjoy the movie as much as I's hard for filmmakers to get books right.

Septimus Heap by Angie Sage
I loved these books!  Adorable!  I've read the first 3 books, but will start at the beginning again. Also, my blog name was partially inspired by this series....I'll explain the details in a future post.  ;)

The Inheritance Cycle by Christopher Paolini
I've started Eragon twice before, but never got through it.  I don't know why.  I really enjoyed the story, but put the book down at some point and once I picked it up again I had to start over from the beginning.  Let's hope third time's the charm.

Gemma Doyle by Libba Bray
Another one I started and didn't finish. (highly recommended by a friend)

A Series of Unfortunate Events by Lemony Snicket
I own 7 or 8 books and will rely on the library to fill in the rest.

Children of the Red King (a.k.a. the Charlie Bone books) by Jenny Nimmo
I have books 1 & 2, so I'd love to start this series.

The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins
The third book Mockingjay will be released in August!  This is THE BEST and most addictive series I've ever read (well, this and Harry Potter of course).  Can't wait to see what happens next.

Dark Days by Jocelynn Drake
I recently read (and reviewed) the first two books and hope to continue with the series.  Mira rocks!

The Sword of Truth by Terry Goodkind
My brother gave me the first book (Wizard's First Rule) at least a year ago and I still haven't read it yet.  I've been putting it off since this seems like a series I'll get addicted to and could spend the entire summer reading it all.

Wow, that's a lot of books (and I could add more titles to it)!  I'll try review around two-three books of a series at a time.  Also, I will throw in a few 1001 books and others I'm overdue to read.     

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Waiting on Wednesday: Everlasting

"Waiting On" Wednesday is a weekly event, hosted by Jill at Breaking the Spine, that spotlights upcoming releases that we're eagerly anticipating.

My pick this week is...
by Angie Frazier
Releases on June 1, 2010

Summary from Amazon:  Sailing aboard her father's ship is all seventeen-year-old Camille Rowen has ever wanted. But as a lady in 1855 San Francisco, her future is set: marry a man she doesn't love in order to preserve her social standing. On her last voyage before the wedding, Camille learns the mother she has always believed dead is in fact alive and in Australia. When their Sydney-bound ship goes down in a gale, and her father dies, Camille sets out to find her mother and a map in her possession - a map believed to lead to a stone that once belonged to the legendary civilization of the immortals. The stone can do exactly what Camille wants most: bring someone back from the dead. Unfortunately, her father's adversary is also on the hunt for the stone, and she must race him to it. The only person Camille can depend on is Oscar - a handsome young sailor and her father's first mate - who is in love with Camille and whom she is inexplicably drawn to despite his low social standing and her pending wedding vows. 

With an Australian card shark acting as their guide, Camille eludes murderous bushrangers, traverses dangerous highlands, evades a curse placed on the stone, and unravels the mystery behind her mother's disappearance sixteen years earlier. But when another death shakes her conviction to resurrect her father, Camille must choose what - and who - matters most.

I've seen this book on upcoming release lists on Amazon and around the blogosphere lately.  Can't wait until it comes out. 

Visit Angie Frazier's website and blog

Review: Nightwalker and Dayhunter by Jocelynn Drake

Nightwalker (Dark Days, 1).
Released 7/29/2008. Mass Market PB.
Dayhunter (Dark Days, 2).
Released 4/28/2009. Mass Market PB.
by Jocelynn Drake

My Description: Mira is a 600+ year old nightwalker (a.k.a. vampire) with the very unique ability of creating and controlling fire. She's top nightwalker in her domain (Savannah, GA) and ensures younger ones stay in line since humans are unaware of the existence of nightwalkers. When a vampire hunter named Danaus arrives in her domain, Mira learns that an old enemy race, known as the naturi, are back and threatening to destroy all nightwalkers and humans. Can Mira and Danaus put their inherent feud aside long enough to survive and deal with the naturi problem?

My Thoughts on the Series: Nightwalker opens with a straightforward conflict. Mira is a vampire and Danaus is a vampire hunter that has waltzed into her domain and killed several nightwalkers. Danaus looks human, but his agility, speed and other unique abilities are definitely not human. Mira’s not sure who or what he is, so she doesn’t want to kill him right away. Mira learns from Danaus that the naturi are back. The naturi are a dangerous earth-related creatures who attempted to destroy other races (humans, nightwalkers, etc.) centuries ago in order to protect the earth itself. This begins a very unlikely partnership between Danaus and Mira. They decide to put off their fight-to-the-death battle for another day so they can figure out how to prevent the naturi from returning to power.

Mira’s inner conflict sometimes feels like a split personality.  She’s fierce and assertive one moment and then suddenly she’s vulnerable, confused, and weak the next. She loses her temper way too quickly and can’t control her emotions.  I like Mira’s character, but her mood swings can get tiring.  Danaus is one hunky vampire hunter and oh so mysterious! The more I read, the more I like him. Their interactions and dialogue is something between dancing and sparring. From scathing insult to quippy remark, they navigate together (reluctantly at first) through scenes with vampires, lycan, naturi, witches, humans and more.

In book 2 Dayhunter, the series gets more complex as we learn about the characters' back stories and the politics of the Coven, the nightwalker ruling body in Venice, Italy. Why is Mira the way she is? What is Danaus? I had so many questions in my head during the second book. Who can you really trust?  There are a lot of supporting characters, so it’s sometimes hard to keep story lines straight. Author Jocelynn Drake does a great job of holding your attention even through those long dialogues. The fight scenes can get a little choppy. I had to re-read paragraphs because I couldn’t visualize the movements. There’s some cursing and one steamy sex scene, which is completely fine since it’s an adult novel (I’m so used to reading YA). Of course, there are many bloody fights and some gruesome torture, but Drake’s nightwalkers heal pretty quickly. I was surprised at the ending of the first book and I'm eager to read what happens next in book 3, Dawnbreaker.  I haven’t read too much in the adult urban fantasy genre, but I enjoyed this series so far.  I plan on buying the third book asap.

Bottom Line: Though not without it's flaws, this exciting vamp guilty pleasure keeps you coming back for more.
My Rating: 4/5

Book 4 Pray for Dawn releases on June 29 and book 5 Wait for Dusk is slated for August 27.  Personally, I'm not liking the covers of these two books.  The guy portraying Danaus on the front of Pray for Dawn looks more like an 80's rocker than how I had pictured Danaus (leaner with "real" shoulder length hair). The Wait for Dusk cover is way too steamy.  It might have turned me off from reading the entire series if I saw this cover first since I'm not a big Harlequin Romance type of fan.


For more info on the series, visit Jocelynn Drake's website and blog.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Waiting On Wednesday: The Books of Elsewhere, Vol. 1: The Shadows

"Waiting On" Wednesday is a weekly event, hosted by Jill at Breaking the Spine, that spotlights upcoming releases that we're eagerly anticipating.

The Books of Elsewhere, Vol. 1: The Shadows
by Jacqueline West
Releases on June 15, 2010
This sounds like a fun new series! Here's the description from The Books of Elsewhere website:
Old Ms. McMartin is definitely dead. Now her crumbling Victorian mansion lies vacant. When eleven-year-old Olive and her dippy mathematician parents move in, she knows there's something odd about the place - not the least the walls covered in strange antique paintings. But when Olive finds a pair of old spectacles in a drawer, she discovers the most peculiar thing yet: She can travel inside these paintings to a world that's strangely quiet... and eerily like her own. Yet Elsewhere harbors dark secrets - and Morton, an undersize boy with an outsize temper.
As she and Morton form an uneasy alliance, Olive finds herself ensnared in a plan darker and more dangerous than she could have imagined, confronting a power that wants to be rid of her by any means necessary. It's up to Olive to save the house from the dark shadows, before the lights go out for good.

Jacqueline West weaves a tale at turns haunting, moving, and darkly funny, full of characters you won't soon forget.

A two-time Pushcart nominee for poetry, Jacqueline West lives in Red Wing, Minnesota. This is her first novel. 

For more information, see Jacqueline West's website

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

BC Bookshelf Update: RABCKs, Trades, and ARCs...Oh my!

My BC Bookshelf Updates will feature my latest BookCrossing (BC) activities including book trades, RABCKs, book rings/rays, challenges, and all things BookCrossing.  Enjoy!

I'm so excited...I got a bunch of awesome books over the last few days, including a trade, a RABCK (gotta love rabcks!!!), and my first ARC!

Here's the details:

I traded Holly Black's Tithe for the second book of the Dark Days series, Dayhunter by Jocelynn Drake. I came across the first book (Nightwalker) by chance from my BC pal sherrisue76.  We went to King of Prussia mall in March to wild release books and, after reading the back of the book, I decided to catch the book myself.  I'll post a review for both books later this week. The 4th and 5th books in the series will be released this summer. YAY!
Jocelynn Drake's website and blog!

RABCKs (Random Act of BookCrossing Kindness) are incredible!  Sometimes you get really lucky and an awesome BookCrosser will send you a book from your wishlist.  It's one of those things that makes BookCrossing special...a community of book lovers who grant book wishes (sometimes out of the blue).  It feels great to send and receive RABCKs.

I received a RABCK in the mail last week!
A Series of Unfortunate Events, The End by Lemony Snicket. Thank you for the RABCK OboeChica!  I'm so happy to receive this book!  The series is apart of my permanent collection, at least for now.  In the future, I'll probably organize a book box or giveaway.  I currently have books 1-7 and 13.  This summer I want to read the entire series straight through, filling in the gaps with the help of my local public library.

Last but certainly not least, I received my first Advanced Readers Copy (ARC) in the mail!  I won a copy of The Handbook for Lightning Strike Survivors by Michele Young-Stone from Crown Publishing Group's Read It Forward website.  It was released on April 13th, so it's not technically an ARC since it arrived late...but it's a still a free book.  So thrilled to read and review it.  

The monthly Audubon BookCrossers (ABXC) met on Sunday at the Panera Bread in Audubon, PA (in a shopping center on Trooper Road).  If you're a BookCrosser in the Philly area (or just want to swap books for free), please stop by!  Meetings usually take place on the first Sunday of the month at 3:00pm, but it sometimes changes due to holidays.  Check the ABXC yahoo website for more information.

At Sunday's ABXC meeting, I released four books:
The Lifted Veil by George Eliot
A Moveable Feast by Ernest Hemingway
100 Best-Loved Poems Edited by Philip Smith
Caribbean by James A. Michener

I took two books home with me:
The Stars Shine Down by Sidney Sheldon
Hoot by Carl Hiaasen (It's a 2003 Newbery Honor book!  Plus, it was a unregistered book...which means a non-BookCrosser left it on the table with other wild released books)

That's it for now!  I'll post again soon.