Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Waiting on Wednesday: Cold Magic

"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...
Cold Magic (The Spiritwalker Trilogy, Bk. 1)
by Kate Elliott
Releases on September 9, 2010

Description from Amazon:
From one of the genre's finest writers comes a bold new epic fantasy in which science and magic are locked in a deadly struggle. 
It is the dawn of a new age... The Industrial Revolution has begun, factories are springing up across the country, and new technologies are transforming in the cities. But the old ways do not die easy.
Cat and Bee are part of this revolution. Young women at college, learning of the science that will shape their future and ignorant of the magics that rule their families. But all of that will change when the Cold Mages come for Cat. New dangers lurk around every corner and hidden threats menace her every move. If blood can't be trusted, who can you trust?
I love how Kate Elliott (and her publisher) explain the book's setting:
It’s a brand new series set in a brand new world, although a fair bit of this steampunk world may look familiar because it is set in an alternate Earth. My publisher has described the book as "a Victorian fantasy set in an alternate world of trolls, dragons, and darker magic, this is a combination of steampunk and adventure fantasy at its most fast, and furious." I also call this book my Afro-Celtic post-Roman icepunk Regency fantasy with Bonus! airship, Phoenician spies, and the intelligent descendants of troodons.  (from her website)
How awesome does that sound!?!  Check out Kate Elliott's website and blog for more info.

What book are you waiting on?

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Completely Unrelated To Books...Seven Days of Yoga

Lynn from The Next Chapter is hosting the Seven Day Yoga Challenge this week. It has nothing to do with books or libraries so why am I posting about it?

Well, sometimes you need a jump start or a change in pace to shake up your reading a book completely outside your genre comfort zone. Yoga was hobby of mine during college.  I attended yoga classes at my school's fitness center whenever I had free time between my studies and other responsibilities.  It was a fun stress reliever that was different from any other activity in my life at the time.

Today I spend my days working in a library and my free time reading, BookCrossing, blogging and attempting to keep up with all my Google Reader feeds. So when I saw Lynn's yoga challenge it reminded me that even though books are such a huge part of my life, I need to throw other stuff in the break up my reading, to relieve stress after work and to keep everything feeling fresh (and fun).  That's why I decided to take the Seven Day Yoga Challenge. Hopefully it'll spark my passion for yoga again.

If you want to learn more, head over to Lynn's blog and cheer on the other participants.  I'll update this post throughout the week to share my progress in this challenge.  Have a great week everyone!

Sunday: Zen in Your Den, 20 minutes, from Exercise TV On Demand.
Monday: Yoga on the Edge Sunset, 27 minutes, from Exercise TV On Demand.
Tuesday: The Biggest Loser: The Workout: Weight Loss Yoga, 30 minutes, DVD
Wednesday: Louise Solomon's Yoga & Pilates: Total Body Toner, Workout One, 20 minutes?, DVD

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Bookish News: 30 Days until Mockingjay!

I'm so excited for the release of Suzanne Collins' final installment of The Hunger Games series, Mockingjay.  I marked August 24 on my calendar months ago.  Only 30 more days to wait!

I haven't decided if I'm going to preorder it on Amazon (so it will be waiting for me when I get home from work) or if I want to pick it up at Borders or Chester County Book Company and take a vacation day to read it (is that crazy?!?). Some Borders are hosting special Mockingjay Fan Fests that following weekend, but I'm disappointed that it's not a midnight release party so not sure if I will attend yet.

Author Suzanne Collins will be promoting the book on a 12 city tour this fall, including a stop in Pennsylvania on Sept. 21 at 6:00pm at the Barnes & Noble in Fairless Hills. I will definitely be there! Let me know if you're local and plan to go.

Hunger Games tshirts are now available at Hot Topic. I haven't shopped there in a while, but I'll definitely stop by to take a look at what they have in stock. Several designs are already sold out online. These shirt designs are available on Hot Topic's website:
Also, you can shop for some amazing Hunger Games inspired jewelry at Etsy, including charm bracelets, necklaces, pins, earrings, rings and much more. I love this Girl on Fire necklace! Go Katniss!

As you could probably tell by now, The Hunger Games is currently my favorite YA series.  I gushed about it in my first ever Waiting on Wednesday post.

If you haven't read the series yet, don't wait another day. WARNING: Do NOT read the summaries/synopsis/reviews of the second or third books because they will spoil the endings of the previous books. You've only got 30 days to devour the first two books (The Hunger Games and Catching Fire)...I did it in 4 days!

Check out The Hunger Games Examiner for other news stories about the series.

You can download this Mockingjay countdown widget and other fun stuff from Scholastic.

Friday, July 23, 2010

"Study Like A Scholar" in your Library!

I love libraries and I get a kick out of those goofy Old Spice commercials. So check out this awesome video that combines both!  Genius! 

Based on this video and other fun library-related stuff, NPR speculates that libraries are the next pop-culture phenom:  Why The Next Big Pop-Culture Wave After Cupcakes Might Be Libraries

Thursday, July 22, 2010

1st Annual 2010 PAYA Festival

I recently learned that the 1st Annual 2010 PAYA Festival will be held at the Center for Performing and Fine Arts in West Chester, PA on August 21st!  It's local for me, so I'm thrilled and can't wait to attend.  What is the PAYA?  Well, I just discovered them and as their website states:
PAYA is a coalition of Pennsylvania’s young adult authors, bloggers, librarians, readers, and other book-lovers. Our mission is two-fold:
1 - To share the love we have for young adult literature with others in our state
2 - To raise money to support Pennsylvania’s libraries, with a focus on helping build Young Adult library collections and Young Adult services.
I'm a reader, blogger, YA lover, and work in a library, so it sounds great to me! The festival includes author signings, a bake sale, a used book sale, a basket raffle, and two writing workshops for aspiring YA authors.  FYI - you need to register ahead and pay a small fee for each workshop.

So far, fifteen authors are listed for the book signings including Shannon Delany (13 to Life), Jennifer Murgia (Angel Star), Amy Brecount White (Forget-Her-Nots), Jeri Smith-Ready (Shade, WVMP series, Aspect of the Crow trilogy), and many more!

The PAYA is also accepting monetary and book donations. Money can be donated by Paypal or money order. All books donated need to be YA or middle grades in like-new condition and donated directly to PA libraries.  Plus you'll get swag bags featuring stuff like signed bookmarks for specific level donations (starts at $10 or 10 books donated).

Check out the PAYA: Bringing (More) YA to PA blog for all the authors, the event schedule and more details. Let me know if you're attending...I hope to see you there.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Bookish News: Daniel Radcliffe in Woman in Black

Daniel Radcliffe will star in the film adaptation of Susan Hill's The Woman in Black.  I'm a huge Harry Potter fan and I thought he was great as Rudyard Kipling's son in My Boy JackIn The Woman in Black, Radcliffe is a young lawyer who travels to an old house in a remote UK village to review the papers of a deceased client. Check out the descripton of the book below for more details. I've added the book to my TBR 'bout you?

Published in 1983, The Woman in Black was Susan Hill's first ghost story. Read about her process of writing the book on her website.  Susan's latest book The Small Hand, published by Profile Books, will release this September.

Some cover love for The Woman in Black

The Woman in Black book description from Amazon:
What real reader does not yearn, somewhere in the recesses of his or her heart, for a really literate, first-class thriller - one that chills the body with foreboding of dark deeds to come, but warms the soul with perceptions and language at once astute and vivid? In other words, a ghost story by Jane Austen.

Austen we cannot, alas, give you, but Susan Hill's remarkable Woman In Black comes as close as the late twentieth century is likely to provide. Set on the obligatory English moor, on an isolated causeway, the story has as its hero one Arthur Kipps, an up-and-coming young solicitor who has come north to attend the funeral and settle the estate of Mrs. Alice Drablow of Eel Marsh House. The routine formalities he anticipates give way to a tumble of events and secrets more sinister and terrifying than any nightmare: the rocking chair in the nursery of the deserted Eel Marsh House, the eerie sound of pony and trap, a child's scream in the fog, and, most dreadfully, and for Kipps most tragically, the woman in black.

The Woman In Black is both a brilliant exercise in atmosphere and controlled horror and a delicious spine-tingler - proof positive that that neglected genre, the ghost story, isn't dead after all.

P.S. Radcliffe is also starring in the film remake of Erich Maria Remarque's novel All Quiet on the Western Front, due out in Spring 2012.

Friday, July 16, 2010

BC Bookshelf Update: Gotta love free books!

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

Miraculously, I won two book giveaways recently!  This is the first time I've ever won a giveaway hosted by another book I'd like to send out a big THANK YOU to Lizzy at Cornucopia of Reviews, where I won a copy of Deception by Lee Nichols. Paranormal YA is awesome and I'm excited to start reading the Haunting Emma series.


Then I won Heather's giveaway over at Fire and Ice for a copy of River Secrets by Shannon Hale.  I'm a huge fan of Shannon Hale.  I loved Goose Girl and can't wait to read all the Books of Bayern.  Thanks Heather! Check out Heather's blog for awesome jewelry giveaways. Her Little Red Reads shop on Etsy features adorable bookish inspired items.

In other news, I received three new ARCs in the mail. The King's Mistress by Emma Campion was released on July 6th and it's on the top of my TBR list. Dracula In Love by Karen Essex releases on August 10th, but I have to read Dracula first.  I own a copy and I've read the first 1/3 of it before but got sidetracked for some reason. The Tower, The Zoo, and The Tortoise by Julia Stuart will also release on August 10th.

Last Sunday, I attended the monthly Audubon BookCrossers meeting at Panera Bread in Audubon, PA. I left the meeting with less books than I brought with me...which was my goal.  So I now have a volume from a new (well, new for me) vampires series and a handful of manga.  I've never read manga before.  My first graphic novel (The Courageous Princess by Rod Espinosa) was awesome so it'll be fun to experiment with manga. 

Hunted: A House of Night Novel by P.C. Cast and Kristin Cast
Crescent Moon, Vol. 1  by Haruko Iida
Tokyo Mew Mew, Vol. 1  by Mia Ikumi & Reiko Yoshida
Kodocha: Sana's Stage. Vol. 1  by Miho Obana
The Prince of Tennis, Vol. 1  by Takeshi Konomi

I should finish reading Pray for Dawn this weekend and try to post the review soon.  Well, that's it for now. Happy Friday!

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Waiting on Wednesday: I Am Number Four

"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...
I Am Number Four
by Pittacus Lore
Releases August 3, 2010
I think this book is the next big series.  It hasn't been released yet and the movie version is already being filmed starring Jake Abel (Luke from the Percy Jackson & the Olympians The Lightning Thief movie), Dianna Agron (Quinn from GLEE) and Alex Pettyfer (from the upcoming movie Beastly).  The movie's scheduled to release in February 2011. 
Oh yeah, Pittacus Lore is the alien character pseudonym for authors James Frey and Jobie Hughes. I've avoided reading anything by James Frey as a result of his fictional "memoir" A Million Little Pieces (ugh...just be truthful and call it fiction!), so I'm going to try to put my bias aside and give this book a shot.
Check out the book's website and facebook page.
Here's the description from Amazon:
Nine of us came here. We look like you. We talk like you. We live among you. But we are not you. We can do things you dream of doing. We have powers you dream of having. We are stronger and faster than anything you have ever seen. We are the superheroes you worship in movies and comic books—but we are real.
Our plan was to grow, and train, and become strong, and become one, and fight them. But they found us and started hunting us first. Now all of us are running. Spending our lives in shadows, in places where no one would look, blending in. we have lived among you without you knowing.

But they know.

They caught Number One in Malaysia.
Number Two in England.
And Number Three in Kenya.
They killed them all.

I am Number Four.

I am next.

Sunday, July 4, 2010

Review: The Handbook for Lightning Strike Survivors by Michele Young-Stone


The Handbook for Lightning Strike Survivors
by Michele Young-Stone
Shaye Areheart Books, April 2010, 372 pages.
ARC received from publisher.

Description on ARC*:

The Handbook for Lightning Strike Survivors follows two lost souls separated by time and place, from the moment lightning changes their lives until the day it ceases to define them.

On a sunny day in Chapel Hill, North Carolina, Becca Burke, flame-haired daughter of Mary and Rowan Burke, was struck by lightning.  She was eight years old. No one believed her, even when her watch kept losing time and a spooky halo of light appeared over her head in every photograph taken after the strike. She was hit again when she was sixteen.  Becca survived, but over time she would learn that outsmarting lightning was the least of her concerns.

Buckley R. Pitank was always very attractive to bullies, including his pseudo-evangelical stepfather, the Reverend John Whitehouse.  When he escaped with his mother to glorious Galveston, Texas, at thirteen, it seemed his luck was changing.  But when Buckley loses the love of his life to a lightning strike, his quest to understand the power of lightning will lead him around the country and into the heart of a young woman who once thought she was alone in the world.

My Review: 

I wasn’t prepared for The Handbook for Lightning Strike Survivors. This story is much darker than I thought from the description above. It’s not a romance or an uplifting story or a book I could fall in love with.  It’s a gripping tale about two children living separate lives, Buckley in Arkansas and Becca in North Carolina. They both grow up in dysfunctional families and become scarred from lightning in different ways.  Most of the adults in this novel are downright selfish, focusing only on their needs, wants, biases.  I particularly couldn’t stand Becca’s parents.  Definitely not good role models for any kid, I don’t envy Becca or Buckley’s situations.  They are confronted by heart-wrenching issues including a parent’s adultery, the pressures (and addictions) of drugs/sex, and surviving the pains of death, grief, heartbreak and (of course) lightning strikes.  

It took longer to read this book than I initially thought it would.  For me, it was hard to get through the first 100-and-some pages.  We meet so many friends and families members, it was sometimes difficult to keep track of the characters (i.e. wait, who’s grandma is this again?...oh, okay that one).  Buckley is slightly older than Becca so the timeline jumps around throughout the book and begins in the 1960s stretching until the 1990s.  At times, it didn’t really feel like a YA novel to me because of the frequent drug use, cursing and casual sex (I’m talking about the adults and our two main characters) sugar coating, not something I’d recommend for younger readers.  Half way through, I had to stop to ask myself, “Is this a book I actually want to read?” Finally, Becca and Buckley’s separate worlds SLOWLY begin to merge...first with locations and then minor characters (friends-of-friends) until the inevitable meeting.   

Each chapter begins with an excerpt from The Handbook of Lightning Strike Survivors, either an anecdote, “fact”, or advice on surviving lightning.  It a unique way to break up the alternating chapters between Buckley and Becca’s story lines.  I have to say that it was great finding out who narrated these excerpts.

Not until the end could I appreciate all the earlier details.  Readers must endure the pain to understand and grow with these characters.  The ending was poignant and I got teary-eyed.  Even though I questioned reading this book, I’m glad I stuck with it for the compelling ending.  I love YA fantasy, and I like to take chances on books outside my reading comfort zone.  The Handbook for Lightning Strike Survivors challenged me in this way. Michele Young-Stone, a lightning strike survivor herself, created a forceful story and I can understand why other readers might love it.

My rating: 3/5  

For more information on the book, check out Michele Young-Stone's website (for the book trailer) and blog.

* I used the ARC's description because Amazon doesn't really feature a product description but has reviews and an excerpt. I think the Goodreads description gives away too many details.