Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Fair Coin by E.C. Myers

Fair Coin by E.C. Myers
Publisher:  Pyr
Publish Date:  March 6, 2012
ISBN:  978-1616146092
Pages:  250

I received this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

A 'fair coin' is a term from probability theory and statistics.  Basically it means that you have the probability of getting 50% heads, 50% tails on any flip.  Unless the coin has been tampered with, in which case you can tell by the non-randomness of the flips.

Ephraim Scott is 16 years old.  His dad left and his mom's a drunk.  It's up to Ephraim to make sure she gets to work on time or to call in for her when she's too drunk.  One day he comes home late to find his mother has attempted suicide.  That kicks off a crazy series of events that forever change Ephraim.

See, his mom attempts suicide because she had to identify Ephraim's dead body.  But Ephraim found her, right?  Right.  So he figures the dead guy just looks extremely similar to him.  His mom has the guy's belongings, so he goes through them.  The guy even has a library card with Ephraim's name on it.  Then there's the coin.  It's a state quarter, only it has Puerto Rico on it and Puerto Rico has never been a state.  Oh yeah, and Washington's head is turned the wrong way.  How does he know this right away?  He collects coins. 

Then he finds a note in his locker that tells him to make a wish and flip the coin.  It's in his best friends handwriting, but Nathan claims he didn't write it.  He uses the coin a couple of times before he shares the knowledge of what it does with Nathan, but Nathan becomes obsessed with it. 

The wishes begin innocently enough, he wishes his mom was okay.  Then she is...but she doesn't remember ever NOT being okay and neither does anyone else.  since the whole thing went well, he starts making wishes that you'd expect from a teenage boy.  Like wishing his crush into liking him.  Things start to go wrong with the wishes and Ephraim decides that every time he makes a self-centered wish, the coin lands 'tails' up.  He's convinced it's magic.  It takes Ephraim quite awhile to figure out that more is going wrong than he thinks, he isn't paying enough attention to the effects of his wishes on everyone and everything around him. 

The story really shows how anyone can become a victim of power of any kind and how they're always sure that they can 'fix' things by one...more act...until it's too late to fix anything.  It's a great debut novel with twists and turns, a little romance and a little violence.  A true sci/fi story and one of the best I've read in the last few years.

The characters:
Ephraim - basically a good kid, but he wishes his life were better.  Don't we all?

Nathan - Ephraim's best friend, they're fun and close until the coin.

Jena - the girl Ephraim crushes on.  She's smart, funny and responsible.

Mary & Shelley - Jena's best friends. 

Even the minor characters are fleshed out and interesting.  I haven't read many books where no matter how minor the character, that you felt like you knew something about them.

A bit on the author:

E.C. Myers grew up in New York, graduated from Columbia University, worked in software development on Wall Street, worked in programming for cable tv and is currently a development writer for a children's well as being an author.  This guy is great!  Let's see, what else?  He's been published in quite a few magazines and anthologies, as well as winning several contests - including being a finalist in L. Ron Hubbard's Writers of the Future contest.  You can hear him do live workshop critiques on WBAI 99.5FM (if you can get that channel).  He also blogs on for Star Trek Re-watch reviews.  Oh yeah, and he moderates on the Yahoo Group GothamLit.   I don't know about you, but he sounds like a lot of young people I know right now. 

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Kings of Colorado by David E. Hilton

Kings of Colorado by David E. Hilton
Publisher:  Simon & Schuster
Publish Date:  January 11, 2011
ISBN:  978-1439183823
Pages:  288

From Goodreads:  William Sheppard had never ventured beyond his Chicago neighborhood until, at thirteen, he was sent away to the Swope Ranch Boys’ Reformatory, hundreds of miles from home, for stabbing his abusive father in the chest with a pocketknife. Buried deep in the Colorado mountains, Swope is shrouded in legend and defined by one prevailing rumor: that the boys who go in never come out the same.  Despite the lack of fences or gates, the boundaries are clear: prisoners are days from civilization, there exists only one accessible road—except in the wintertime, when it’s buried under feet upon feet of snow, and anyone attempting escape will be shot down without hesitation in the shadow of the peaks. At 13,000 feet above sea level, the mountains aren’t forgiving, and neither are the guards.  With twenty-four months of hard time ahead of him, Will quickly learns to distinguish his allies from his enemies. He also learns about the high price of a childhood lost. At Swope, herds of mustangs are trucked in to be broken by a select group of inmates. Once the horses are gentled, they are sold to ranchers and landowners across the Southwest. Horses come and go, delinquent boys come and go. The boys break the horses, Swope Reformatory breaks the boys. Throughout this ordeal, Will discovers three others who bring him into their inner circle. They are life preservers in a sea of violence and corruption. 

I almost forget to mention:  I received this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

Mr. Hilton 'gets' how 12 - 18 year old boys talk to one another.  The way they act with one another when no adults are around.  It was very realistic.  The writing is beautiful - the slang and rhythm of the speech from the 1960's was perfect.

Will, the main character, feels guilty about stabbing his father, yet knows he wouldn't go back and change it.  I think he feels guilty for not feeling bad about what he did.  The story is told from Will's point of view. He goes from being the new 'fish' to being an old hand and serving his two years at Swopes.

Will's three friends: Benny, Coop and Mickey all come across as real boys too.  Yeah, they did some stupid stuff that landed them in Swopes, but sometimes it wasn't really their fault.  Some of it was their upbringing, their loyalty or their abusive/drunk/negligent families.

Will decides he has to break the mustang that Coop didn't complete.  The breaking of the horse seems to symbolize the breaking of the boys.  I read several reviews and comments that the things that happen on the ranch aren't realistic.  Remember, this was in the early 1960's.  Child Protective Services weren't like they are now - in fact, the juvenile system would much rather send them to somewhere that would force the boys into acceptable behavior than worry about WHY they were acting out.  I mean, even the neighbors just took it for granted that there was 'home training' going on.  See, that's what they called beating your wife and kids.  Since it was acceptable, when Will stabbed his dad, that was very frowned upon.  I'm sure that the same people would think that at least some of the things that happened at the ranch were acceptable.

This is a very dark story, with swearing and violence.  I would say that I haven't read a book that made me feel this way since THE OUTSIDERS and STAND BY ME.  I think it's that the boys seem to be on their own and no one really cares what happens to them.  Even at the end, Will knows that no one but the guys he was there with (and Miss Little) really understand how he feels.  It's a fabulous debut novel and I'm sure we'll see many more good things from David Hilton!

If you'd like to know more about the author, his website is:

Monday, February 27, 2012

Books Out This Week: February 27 - March 4, 2012

Allegiance (Legacy #3) by Cayla Kluver
Release Date:  February 28, 2012

From Goodreads: 
Only I saw Narian for who he truly was: a young man with courage and an independent mind, and made to pay for what was outside his control. He couldn't help his past any more than he could help the way those intense, deep-blue eyes pierced me and held me captive.

An eighteen-year-old queen in love with the enemy as their countries pass the point of no return...
Bound to a man she cannot love, Queen Alera of Hytanica must forget Narian, the young man who holds her heart. For Narian is destined to conquer Hytanica at the behest of his master, the powerful magic-user known as the Overlord. Alera doesn't truly believe Narian will fight against Hytanica-until Cokyrian troops attack with Narian commanding the charge.
Faced with the greatest betrayal a heart can know, Alera must set aside personal feelings and lead her kingdom through its darkest time. And when all hope, will and courage seem lost, she must find strength and remember that even the blackest night must have a dawn....

 When the Sea is Rising Red by Cat Hellison
Release Date:  February 28, 2012

From Goodreads: 
After seventeen-year-old Felicita’s dearest friend, Ilven, kills herself to escape an arranged marriage, Felicita chooses freedom over privilege. She fakes her own death and leaves her sheltered life as one of Pelimburg’s magical elite behind. Living in the slums, scrubbing dishes for a living, she falls for charismatic Dash while also becoming fascinated with vampire Jannik. Then something shocking washes up on the beach: Ilven's death has called out of the sea a dangerous, wild magic. Felicita must decide whether her loyalties lie with the family she abandoned . . . or with those who would twist this dark power to destroy Pelimburg's caste system, and the whole city along with it.  

 A Touch Morbid (Touch Trilogy #2) by Leah Clifford
Release Date:  February 28, 2012

From Goodreads:  Eden won the battle-she saved her true love from the darkest evil. But the war has only just begun. With secrets swirling around her, powerful allies unraveling, and life-and death-as she knows it eroding, Eden and those she loves tread dangerous ground. Can she trust anyone? Will her unearthly powers be her salvation or her downfall? A sweeping, dark, and sexy paranormal romance that will haunt readers with an inventive mythology and a cinematic New York City filled with shadows and longing.

 Riding out the Storm by Sis Deans
Release Date:  February 28, 2012

From Goodreads:  Zach is riding the Greyhound bus through a snowstorm to visit his older brother Derek, whom he hasn’t seen in seven months. That’s when their parents finally went broke paying Derek’s doctor’s bills and had to give him up as a ward of the state. Nothing—not drawing in his sketchbook, not basketball—lets Zach forget that his brother is living in a mental institution five states away. But surprisingly, sitting next to a talkative teenage girl he nicknames Purplehead starts to take the edge off Zach’s pain.
Prompted by a chain of unpredictable events and by the people he meets along the way, Zach’s cynical humor gives us a poignant look at medical insurance and health care systems for the mentally ill, and at the everyday fears, joys, and revelations of adolescence.

 BZRK by Michael Grant
Release Date:  February 28, 2012

From Goodreads:   Set in the near future, a conspiracy is afoot to create a perfect and perfectly controlled world. The Armstrong Fancy Gift Corporation is a front for the conjoined Armstrong twins, Charles and Benjamin, and the plot to create their own version of utopia.
A shadowy guerilla group known as BZRK form a nascent resistance movement. Both sides develop sophisticated nanotechnology to achieve their goals:
-The Armstrong twins develop the nanobot, a stealth device that latches onto the brains of unsuspecting citizens
-BZRK's DNA-derived biots are deployed to search out and destroy the insidious bots.  If biots are destroyed, the brain cells of their DNA-donor also die.  Hence the name BZRK.

 Unafraid (Archangel Academy #3) by Michael Griffo
Release Date:  February 28, 2012

From Goodreads:The boarding school known as Archangel Academy possesses a legacy of secrets known only to a privileged few. For in this peaceful, charming part of England lives a population of vampires at war with one another--and Michael Howard is caught in the middle of it all. . .
When Michael left his small Nebraska hometown to enroll at Archangel Academy, he couldn't have imagined how much the experience would change him. Once mortal, Michael is now a vampire with a destiny that was foretold long ago, and a group of friends with their own mysterious abilities.
But there are enemies too, some of them hiding in plain sight. Being strong enough to defend himself isn't enough. Michael must find a way to protect his entire race of vampires. Dark forces within the school will drive everyone to take sides in the escalating violence. And for all his new powers, Michael will discover that love, jealousy, and vengeance have a danger all their own. . .

 The Humming Room by Ellen Potter
Release Date:  February 28, 2012

From Goodreads:  Hiding is Roo Fanshaw's special skill. Living in a frighteningly unstable family, she often needs to disappear at a moment's notice. When her parents are murdered, it's her special hiding place under the trailer that saves her life.
As it turns out, Roo, much to her surprise, has a wealthy if eccentric uncle, who has agreed to take her into his home on Cough Rock Island. Once a tuberculosis sanitarium for children of the rich, the strange house is teeming with ghost stories and secrets. Roo doesn't believe in ghosts or fairy stories, but what are those eerie noises she keeps hearing? And who is that strange wild boy who lives on the river? People are lying to her, and Roo becomes determined to find the truth.
Despite the best efforts of her uncle's assistants, Roo discovers the house's hidden room--a garden with a tragic secret.

 Pandemonium by Lauren Oliver
Release Date:  February 28, 2012

From Goodreads: 
I’m pushing aside the memory of my nightmare,
pushing aside thoughts of Alex,
pushing aside thoughts of Hana and my old school,
like Raven taught me to do.
The old life is dead.
But the old Lena is dead too.
I buried her.
I left her beyond a fence,
behind a wall of smoke and flame.

 Partials (Partials #1) by Dan Wells
Release Date:  February 28, 2012

From Goodreads:Humanity is all but extinguished after a war with partials--engineered organic beings identical to humans--has decimated the world’s population. Reduced to only tens of thousands by a weaponized virus to which only a fraction of humanity is immune, the survivors in North America have huddled together on Long Island. The threat of the partials is still imminent, but, worse, no baby has been born immune to the disease in over a decade. Humanity’s time is running out.
When sixteen-year-old Kira learns of her best friend’s pregnancy, she’s determined to find a solution. Then one rash decision forces Kira to flee her community with the unlikeliest of allies. As she tries desperately to save what is left of her race, she discovers that the survival of both humans and partials rests in her attempts to answer questions of the war’s origin that she never knew to ask.

 Oppression (Children of the Gods #1) by Jessica Therrien
Release Date:  February 28, 2012

From Goodreads:  Elyse knows what it means to keep a secret. She's been keeping secrets her whole life. Two, actually. First, that she ages five times slower than the average person, so that while she looks eighteen years old, she's closer to eighty. Second, that her blood has a mysterious power to heal. For Elyse, these things don't make her special. They make life dangerous. After the death of her parents, she's been careful to keep her secret as closely guarded as possible. Now, only one other person in the world knows about her age and ability. Or so she thinks. Elyse is not the only one keeping secrets. There are others like her all over the world, descendants of the very people the Greeks considered gods. She is one of them, and they have been waiting for her for a long time. Among so many of her kind, she should not be very remarkable--except for the prophecy. Some believe she will put an end to traditions, safeguarded by violence, which have oppressed her people for centuries. Others are determined to keep her from doing just that. But for Elyse, the game is just beginning--and she's not entirely willing to play by their rules.

The Traitor in the Tunnel by Y.S. Lee
Release Date:  February 28, 2012

From Goodreads:  Queen Victoria has a little problem: there's a petty thief at work in Buckingham Palace. Charged with discretion, the Agency puts quickwitted Mary Quinn on the case, where she must pose as a domestic while fending off the attentions of a feckless Prince of Wales. But when the prince witnesses the murder of one of his friends in an opium den, the potential for scandal looms large. And Mary faces an even more unsettling possibility: the accused killer, a Chinese sailor imprisoned in the Tower of London, shares a name with her long-lost father. Meanwhile, engineer James Easton, Mary's onetime paramour, is at work shoring up the sewers beneath the palace, where an unexpected tunnel seems to be very much in use. Can Mary and James trust each other (and put their simmering feelings aside) long enough to solve the mystery and protect the Royal Family? Hoist on your waders for Mary's most personal case yet, where the stakes couldn't be higher - and she has everything to lose.

 Masters of the Veil (Veil Trilogy #1) by Daniel Cohen
Release Date:  March 1, 2012

From Goodreads:  Life can't get much better for Sam Lock. Popular, good-looking, and with a future as a professional football player. every guy at Stanton High School wishes he were Sam. That is, until his championship football game, when Sam accidentally links with an ancient source of energy known as the Veil and reveals his potential to become a powerful sorcerer.Sam is whisked off to Atlas Crown, a community of sorcerers who utilize the Veil as a part of everyday life. Once there, he trains beside a mute boy who speaks through music, an eternal sage who's the eyes and ears of the Veil, and a beautiful girl who's pretty sure Sam's an idiot.As it becomes clear Sam's meant for power magic-the most feared and misunderstood form of sorcery-people beyond Atlas Crown learn of his dangerous potential. An exiled group of power sorcerers are eager to recruit Sam, believing that he is destined to help them achieve their long-held goal. If they succeed, they could bring about the downfall of not only Atlas Crown. but all humankind.

 Freshman Year & Other Unnatural Disasters by Meredith Zeitlin
Release Date:  March 1, 2012

From Goodreads:Kelsey Finkelstein is fourteen and FRUSTRATED. Every time she tries to live up to her awesome potential, her plans are foiled – by her impossible parents, her annoying little sister, and life in general. But with her first day of high school coming up, Kelsey is positive that things are going to change. Enlisting the help of her three best friends — sweet and quiet Em, theatrical Cass, and wild JoJo — Kelsey gets ready to rebrand herself and make the kind of mark she knows is her destiny.
Things start out great - her arch-nemesis has moved across the country, giving Kelsey the perfect opportunity to stand out on the soccer team and finally catch the eye of her long-time crush. But soon enough, an evil junior’s thirst for revenge, a mysterious photographer, and a series of other catastrophes make it clear that just because KELSEY has a plan for greatness… it doesn’t mean the rest of the world is in on it.

The Final Four by Paul Volponi
Release Date:  March 1, 2012

From Goodreads:  Four players at the Final Four of the NCAA basketball tournament struggle with the pressures of tournament play and the expectations of society at large.

 Perception (Clarity #2) by Kim Harrington
Release Date:  March 1, 2012

From Goodreads:When you can see things others can't, what do you do when someone's watching you?
Everybody knows about Clarity "Clare" Fern. She's the psychic girl in school, the one who can place her hands on something and see hidden visions from the past.
Only Clare would rather not be a celebrity. She prefers hanging back, observing. Her gift is not a game to her.
But then someone starts playing with her head . . . and heart. Messages and gifts from a secret admirer crop up everywhere Clare turns. Could they be from Gabriel, the gorgeous boy who gets Clare's pulse racing? Or from Justin, Clare's hopeful ex-boyfriend who'd do anything to win her back?
One thing is certain. Clare needs to solve this mystery, and soon. Because the messages are becoming sinister, and a girl in town has suddenly disappeared.

 Me and Earl and the Dying Girl byb Jesse Andrews
Release Date:  March 1, 2012

From Goodreads:  Seventeen-year-old Greg has managed to become part of every social group at his Pittsburgh high school without having any friends, but his life changes when his mother forces him to befriend Rachel, a girl he once knew in Hebrew school who has leukemia.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Book Contests!

Every once in a while I like to post some contests for all of you!  I tend to enter a lot of them, so I like to share.

On The Story Siren's blog, there's the chance to win A Beautiful Evil by Kelly Keaton and Faery Tales & Nightmares by Melissa Marr.  There's 3 days left, go enter!  The Story Siren Contest

Over at the Stir Your Tea blog, there's a contest for SIX different prize packs - but it ends at midnight tonight - so hurry on over!  You can win:
                 1 - Blood Red Road, Hallowed & Shatter Me
                 2 - Legend, The Fault in our Stars & Shatter Me
                 3 - The Statistical Probability of Love at First Sight, Under the Never Sky & Shatter Me
                 4 - Spoiled, Wonderstruck & Shatter Me
                 5 - How to Save a Life, Cinder & Shatter Me
                 6 - All These Things I've Done, Where Things Come Back & Shatter Me
A lot of these books are also signed!  Go to: Stir Your Tea Blog

This is a surprise contest - the prize will be a complete surprise, but something good!  Enter throughout February at The Book Cellar

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

The Peculiars by Maureen Doyle McQuerry

The Peculiars by Maureen Doyle McQuerry
Publisher:  Amulet Books
Release Date:  May 1, 2012
ISBN:  978-1419701788
Pages:  354

I received this book in ebook format from the publisher through in exchange for an honest review.

I know you're all asking 'why are you teasing us with a book that doesn't even come out until May 1st?  That's
2 1/2 months away!'  Well, because, my darlings, this is a fantastic book and I want you all to put it on your wishlist or go pre-order it right now.  Go on, I'll wait for you.

Ok, all wishlisted and pre-ordered?  Good.  Here we go:

Lena is just turning 18 in this book and she has these weird elongated hands and feet with an extra knuckle on her fingers.  Her doctor and grandmother tell her she has signs of 'goblinism' and that possibly her father was a goblin.  Her grandmother always tells her how goblins can't help but be destructive.  Nice grandma, eh?  When Lena turns 18 her mother gives her something her father left for her:  a letter, a map and a bit of money.  She strikes off for the wilds of Scree to find her father and maybe the truth about herself.

Lena hops on a train to Scree and meets Jimson, a young man off to his new job as a private librarian for a wealthy man just outside of Scree.  She also meets Marshal Saltre, who convinces her that Jimson's employer is doing something illegal and asks her to spy for him. As Lena becomes more acquainted with Jimson, Mr. Beasley and his household, she is torn between doing what Marshal Saltre wants her to do and doing what is right by herself.

Ms. McQuerry is a master wordsmith.  Her use of words like 'goblinishness' and 'bandylegged' as well as phrases such as 'Margaret's words were slippery,' really made the story delightful.  The descriptions made me feel the train rock, smell the salty air and know what it's like to trudge through deep snow.  It made reading the book a complete joy.

Lena - I like her.  A lot.  At first she's entirely self-absorbed, worrying more about hiding her hands and feet than anything else.  But you catch glimpses of who she is when she acts instinctively and forgets her limbs.  Who hasn't felt awkward and like they're different?  But when you forget yourself in happiness or wonder, everyone is the same.  I really love that you see Lena grow so much through her journey.

Jimson - smart, likable, ready for action.  I love that he gets so distracted by scientific concepts and that he accepts people for who they are and doesn't want to settle for ordinary.

Mr. Beasley - an odd man.  He's wealthy, a doctor, a scientist; he just wants to help those in need.

Marshal Thomas Saltre - a bit mysterious. He comes off as two different people, depending on the circumstances.  Like Lena, I wanted to like him but was unsure of him.

If you like alternate historical fiction, steampunk or fantasy - you'll love this book!

Monday, February 20, 2012

Books Out This Week: February 20 - 26, 2012

Double by Jenny Valentine
Release Date:  February 21, 2012

From Goodreads:When the sixteen-year-old runaway Chap is mistaken for a missing boy named Cassiel, his life changes dramatically. Chap takes on Cassiel's identity, gaining the family and friends he's always dreamed of having. But becoming someone else isn't as easy as he hoped--and Chap isn't the only one hiding a secret. As he teeters on the brink of discovery and begins to unravel the mystery behind Cassiel's disappearance, Chap realizes that he's in much deeper danger than he could have imagined.
After all, you can't just steal a life and expect to get away with it.
Award-winning author Jenny Valentine delivers an explosive mystery where dark secrets, betrayal, and loss pave the way for one teen's chance at redemption.

 A Beautiful Evil (Gods & Monsters #2) - Kelly Keaton
Release Date:  February 21, 2012

From Goodreads:Myth and mayhem inhabit a richly reimagined New Orleans in this sequel to Darkness Becomes Her.After the epic graveyard battle at the end of Darkness Becomes Her, Ari and her friends know what they’re up against: Ari is facing the Medusa curse and is haunted by the image of what she will become. To make matters worse, the heinous goddess Athena has kidnapped young Violet and is threatening to destroy Ari.
Ari, along with the superhot Sebastian, is doing everything she can to learn more about Athena and to get Violet back. But the battle of good and evil is bigger than she realizes, and she’s about to be pulled into a world more horrific than she could ever imagine....

 Fever (Chemical Garden #2) - Lauren DeStefano
Release Date:  February 21, 2012

From Goodreads: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 any means necessary.

 Faery Tales & Nightmares by Melissa Marr
Release Date:  February 21, 2012

From Goodreads:Dangerous promises and beguiling threats swirl together in a dozen stories of enchantments dark and light by New York Times bestselling author Melissa Marr. Uncanny and unexpected creatures appear from behind bushes, rise from beneath the seas, or manifest from seasonal storms to pursue the objects of their attention—with amorous or sinister intent—relentlessly.
From the gentle tones of a storyteller’s cadences to the terror of a blood sacrifice, tales of favorite characters from Marr’s Wicked Lovely novels mix with accounts of new characters for readers to fall in love with...or to fear.

 The Catastrophic History of You & Me by Jess Rothenberg
Release Date:  February 21, 2012

From Goodreads:  Just before her 16th birthday, Brie Eagan literally dies of a broken heart after her boyfriend tells her he does not love her. She then must go through the five stages of grief, while watching her friends and family try to cope with her death, before her faith in love is restored and she can move on to the afterlife.

The Dressmaker by Kate Alcott
Release Date:  February 21, 2012

From Goodreads:Tess, an aspiring seamstress, thinks she's had an incredibly lucky break when she is hired by famous designer Lady Lucile Duff Gordon to be a personal maid on the Titanic's doomed voyage. Once on board, Tess catches the eye of two men, one a roughly-hewn but kind sailor and the other an enigmatic Chicago millionaire. But on the fourth night, disaster strikes.
Amidst the chaos and desperate urging of two very different suitors, Tess is one of the last people allowed on a lifeboat. Tess’s sailor also manages to survive unharmed, witness to Lady Duff Gordon’s questionable actions during the tragedy. Others—including the gallant Midwestern tycoon—are not so lucky.
On dry land, rumors about the survivors begin to circulate, and Lady Duff Gordon quickly becomes the subject of media scorn and later, the hearings on the Titanic. Set against a historical tragedy but told from a completely fresh angle, The Dressmaker is an atmospheric delight filled with all the period's glitz and glamour, all the raw feelings of a national tragedy and all the contradictory emotions of young love.

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Winner of Antony John Contest!

The winner of the Antony John contest for a signed ARC is...


Congratulations, Melannie!

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Seraphina by Rachel Hartman

Seraphina by Rachel Hartman
Publisher: Random House
Publish Date:  July 10, 2012
ISBN:  978-0375866562

Note:  I received this book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

I know what you're thinking based on the cover.  It's the same thing I was thinking when I first saw it.  This is a high-fantasy novel.  It's not, not really.  Yes, there are dragons.  Who doesn't like dragons?!  BUT the dragons can squish themselves down into human form and 'pass' for human.  In fact, they're so good at passing that they are required to wear actual silver bells to signify that they are dragons.  Of course some don't have to wear them, they have special dispensation.  It's tricky.  The musical descriptions, the time period detail, the society and world building that went on in this book - amazing.  I think it's a fine blend of high fantasy and sci/fi with a little steampunk thrown in.

The dragons and humans have a tenuous peace.  The dragons seem to be better at it than the humans are.  They don't openly look down upon the humans and aren't mean to them, even though they could transform and eat them.  Dragons aren't allowed to hoard treasure anymore, so they now hoard knowledge.  Pretty awesome, eh?  Of course the lowest thing that you could possibly be in this society is half-human, half-dragon.  Shall we all guess what Seraphina is?

The characters:
Seraphina - she's 16 years old, the music assistant at the palace, her mom is dead and her dad raised her.  He's a lawyer.  She's smart, funny, loyal and has some serious issues.  She knows she does and spends quite a bit of time hating herself for what she sees as her weaknesses.  Anyone that's had a hard time fitting in or had a secret they were afraid would get out, should be able to sympathize with Seraphina.

Kiggs - bastard cousin to the royalty, engaged to the Princess, smart, quick to catch on, intrigued by Seraphina.

Orma - Seraphina's tutor.  I thought I wouldn't like him at all at first, but he turned out to be one of my favorites.  I think I liked him because of his lack of emotion - the very reason I thought I wouldn't like him.  It really made him very amusing.  His best line?  'I'm attracting small children, shoo it away, won't you?'

Princess Glisselda - at first comes off as a vapid princess, but you quickly find that she's smart, shrewd, devious and delightful.  All wrapped up in a pretty package.

The peace between humans and dragons is at risk.  One of the human royalty has been found dead and it looks like the work of a dragon.  If someone doesn't figure it all out, everything could go up in smoke...quite literally.  Seraphina is determined to help keep the peace, even while keeping her own secret.  This is an excellent book for just about everyone.  It is part of a series, but can easily be read as a stand alone.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Contest Reminder!!!

Don't forget to enter the contest for an Antony John signed ARC!

Here's how it works:

1 - for one entry for the signed ARC, simply comment on this interview and tell me your favorite band and how they've moved you. :)

2 - for a second entry for the signed ARC, hop on over to Antony John's facebook and 'LIKE' his page, I'll be keeping track!  Here's the link: 

3 - the contest runs through midnight on Friday, February 17, 2012.  The winner will be chosen and announced on Saturday, February 18, 2012.

Here's a link to the author interview:

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

The Priest and the Peaches by Larry Peterson

Publisher:  Tribute Books
Publish Date:  January 1, 2012
ISBN: 978-0983741848

I received this book in exchange for an honest review.

The Peach kids have had it rough.  Their mom dies.  So then they live with Grandma and Dad.  Grandma dies.  Dad spends all his time either working or drinking.  Dad dies.  Then the oldest Peach child (Teddy at 18yo) takes on the responsibilities of raising the younger ones - Joanie, Dancer, Beeker and Joey.

The characters seemed a bit awkward to me, but perhaps it's because the setting is over 50 years ago.  Religion plays a huge part in this story and that might be what's putting me off.  I understand that in the 1960's religion may have played a much bigger part in some homes, this is decidedly a Catholic household.  The parish priest, Father Sullivan, seems to have a big impact on the children in the week after their father dies and while they're planning the funeral.

I did, however, like the glimpses of 1960's life in the Bronx. 

Like I always say - this is my opinion of the book and you might like it better.  Just keep in mind that it does have a strong religious tone.

The books official site is:

Larry Peterson's facebook:!/larrytpbx

Tribute Books website:

Dust & Decay (Benny Imura #2) by Jonathan Maberry

Dust & Decay (Benny Imura #2) by Jonathan Maberry

Publisher:  Simon & Schuster
Publish Date:  August 30, 2011
Pages: 519
ISBN:  978-1442402355

ROT & RUIN introduced us to our young group of warriors.  DUST & DECAY takes us a step further.  Benny, Nix, Lilah and Chong have been training with Tommy for months - ever since they saw the plane at the end of ROT & RUIN.  They want to find out if there's a civilization out there that's gone forward instead of huddling in fear.  To do so, they must travel through the wilderness and avoid the zombies...and other nasty things.

Mr. Maberry really fleshes out the characters of the teens in this book:
Lilah - still quick to act, she begins to think and feel more and frankly, I don't think she likes it much.

Benny - while not as good at fighting as he'd like to be seems to 'get' what Tom is teaching more than the others, he voices his doubts to himself (a good start) and you can see him becoming the man he'll eventually be.

Nix - her journal entries and questions are fantastic and show a quick mind, but she's been through so much that she's at times scared and then wild.

Chong - he changes the most.  Chong is the bookish kid, the one that isn't going on the journey with the others, he's going to stay safe at home.  He goes from believing he's a liability and not worth much to knowing and showing what he's made of.

We do meet some new characters and the Bounty Hunters we've heard so much about. The Bounty Hunters are an amazing group - they each have their own story and we get a quick glimpse of each of them.  They're mostly loners, not to be messed with and fiercely loyal to Tom Imura.  My favorites?  J-Dog and Dr. Skillz; two surfers turned Bounty Hunters.  It would be easy to underestimate them with their humor and surfer slang.  Weirdly, I've read multiple books with surfer slang and so understood them right away.  It's no wonder my husband thinks I'm weird.

The bad guys? There's a lot of them, but I think that while there are more zoms in this one, the people outnumber them as to evilness.  Zoms are just doing what they do, people think it out and do it on purpose.  The major players are The Preacher and White Wolf.  I'm not spoiling any surprises, as soon as you meet them, you know they're the bad guys. 

The story is fast-paced and takes some quick turns, so while it's over 500 pages, it goes quickly.  Mr. Maberry is a master at showing that while the world is full of zombies, it's the people you really have to look out for.


Monday, February 13, 2012

Books Out This Week: February 13 - 19, 2012

Various Positions by Martha Schabas
Release Date:  February 14, 2012

From Goodreads: 
Shy and introverted, and trapped between the hyper-sexualized world of her teenaged friends and her dysfunctional family, Georgia is only at ease when she's dancing. Fortunately, she's an unusually talented and promising dancer. When she is accepted into the notoriously exclusive Royal Ballet Academy--Canada's preeminent dance school--Georgia thinks she has made the perfect escape. In ballet, she finds the exhilarating control and power she lacks elsewhere in her life: physical, emotional and, increasingly, sexual.
This dynamic is nowhere more obvious than in Georgia's relationship with Artistic Director Roderick Allen. As Roderick singles her out as a star and subjects her to increasingly vicious training, Georgia obsesses about becoming his perfect student, disciplined and sexless. But a disturbing incident with a stranger on the subway, coupled with her dawning recognition of the truth of her parents' unhappy marriage, causes her to radically reassess her ideas about physical boundaries--a reassessment that threatens both Roderick's future at the academy and Georgia's ambitions as a ballerina.

 Bewitching (Kendra Chronicles) by Alex Flinn
Release Date:  February 14, 2012

From Goodreads:  Bewitching can be a beast. . . .

Once, I put a curse on a beastly and arrogant high school boy. That one turned out all right. Others didn’t.
I go to a new school now—one where no one knows that I should have graduated long ago. I’m not still here because I’m stupid; I just don’t age.
You see, I’m immortal. And I pretty much know everything after hundreds of years—except for when to take my powers and butt out.
I want to help, but things just go awry in ways I could never predict. Like when I tried to free some children from a gingerbread house and ended up being hanged. After I came back from the dead (immortal, remember?), I tried to play matchmaker for a French prince and ended up banished from France forever. And that little mermaid I found in the Titanic lifeboat? I don’t even want to think about it.
Now a girl named Emma needs me. I probably shouldn’t get involved, but her gorgeous stepsister is conniving to the core. I think I have just the thing to fix that girl—and it isn’t an enchanted pumpkin. Although you never know what will happen when I start . . . bewitching. 

The Nightmare Garden (Iron Codex #2) by Caitlin Kittredge
Release Date:  February 14, 2012

From Goodreads: 
Everything Aoife thought she knew about the world was a lie. There is no Necrovirus. And Aoife isn't going to succumb to madness because of a latent strain—she will lose her faculties because she is allergic to iron. Aoife isn't human. She is a changeling—half human and half from the land of Thorn. And time is running out for her.
When Aoife destroyed the Lovecraft engine she released the monsters from the Thorn Lands into the Iron Lands and now she must find a way to seal the gates and reverse the destruction she's ravaged on the world that's about to poison her.

 Scarlet by A.C. Gaughen
Release Date:  February 14, 2012

From Goodreads:  Posing as one of Robin Hood’s thieves to avoid the wrath of the evil Thief Taker Lord Gisbourne, Scarlet has kept her identity secret from all of Nottinghamshire. Only the Hood and his band know the truth: the agile thief posing as a whip of a boy is actually a fearless young woman with a secret past. Helping the people of Nottingham outwit the corrupt Sheriff of Nottingham could cost Scarlet her life as Gisbourne closes in. It’s only her fierce loyalty to Robin—whose quick smiles and sharp temper have the rare power to unsettle her—that keeps Scarlet going and makes this fight worth dying for.

 The Vanishing Game by Kate Kae Myers
Release Date:  February 14, 2012

From Goodreads:Jocelyn's twin brother Jack was the only family she had growing up in a world of foster homes-and now he's dead, and she has nothing. Then she gets a cryptic letter from "Jason December"-the code name her brother used to use when they were children at Seale House, a terrifying foster home that they believed had dark powers. Only one other person knows about Jason December: Noah, Jocelyn's childhood crush and their only real friend among the troubled children at Seale House.
But when Jocelyn returns to Seale House and the city where she last saw Noah, she gets more than she bargained for. Turns out the house's powers weren't just a figment of a childish imagination. And someone is following Jocelyn. Is Jack still alive? And if he is, what kind of trouble is he in?

 Arcadia Awakens (Arcadia #1) by Kai Meyer
Release Date:  February 14, 2012

From Goodreads:To Rosa Alcantara, the exotic world of Sicily, with its network of Mafia families and its reputation for murder and intrigue, is just that—exotic and wholly unknown. But when her life in Brooklyn begins to fall apart, she must travel there, to her family’s ancestral home, where centuries of family secrets await her.
Once there, Rosa falls head over heels for Alessandro Carnevare, the son of a Sicilian Mafia family, whose handsome looks and savage grace both fascinate and unsettle her. But their families are sworn enemies, and her aunt and sister believe Alessandro is only using Rosa to infiltrate the Alcantara clan. And when Rosa encounters a tiger one night—a tiger with very familiar eyes—she can no longer deny that neither the Carnevares nor the Alcantaras are what they seem.
Hidden caves, dangerous beasts roaming the hills, and a history of familial bloodlust mean that Rosa can’t trust anyone. Torn between loyalty to her family and love for their mortal enemy, Rosa must make the hardest decision of her life: stay in Sicily with her new love…or run as far and as fast as she can.

The Jade Notebook by Laura Resau
Release Date:  February 14, 2012

From Goodreads:  Down-to-earth Zeeta and her flighty mom, Layla, have spent years traveling the globe and soaking up everything each new culture has to offer. Now they've settled in the beachside town of Mazunte, Mexico, where Zeeta's true love, Wendell, has an internship photographing rare sea turtles. At first glance, Zeeta feels sure that Mazunte is paradise—she envisions dips in jade waters, sunsets over sea cliffs, moonlit walks in the surf. And she is determined to make Mazunte her home . . . for good. But as she and Wendell dig deeper to unearth her elusive father's past, Zeeta finds that paradise has its dark side.

 Someone Else's Life by Katie Dale
Release Date:  February 14, 2012

From Goodreads:  When seventeen-year-old Rosie’s mother, Trudie, dies from Huntington’s Disease, her pain is intensified by the knowledge that she has a fifty-per-cent chance of inheriting the crippling disease herself. Only when she tells her mum’s best friend, ‘Aunt Sarah’ that she is going to test for the disease does Sarah, a midwife, reveal that Trudie was not her biological mother after all... Devastated, Rosie decides to trace her real mother, hitching along on her ex-boyfriend’s GAP year to follow her to Los Angeles. But all does not go to plan, and as Rosie discovers yet more of her family's deeply-buried secrets and lies, she is left with an agonising decision of her own - one which will be the most heart-breaking and far-reaching of all...

The Fine Art of Truth and Dare by Melissa Jensen
Release Date:  February 16, 2012

From Goodreads:  Ella is nearly invisible at the Willing School, and that's just fine by her. She's got her friends - the fabulous Frankie and their sweet cohort Sadie. She's got her art - and her idol, the unappreciated 19th-century painter Edward Willing. Still, it's hard being a nobody and having a crush on the biggest somebody in the school: Alex Bainbridge. Especially when he is your French tutor, and lessons have started becoming, well, certainly more interesting than French ever has been before. But can the invisible girl actually end up with a happily ever after with the golden boy, when no one even knows they're dating? And is Ella going to dare to be that girl?

 Trafficked by Kim Purcell
Release Date:  February 16, 2012

From Goodreads:  Hannah believes she's being brought from Moldova to Los Angeles to become a nanny for a Russian family. But her American dream quickly spirals into a nightmare. The Platonovs force Hannah to work sixteen-hour days, won't let her leave the house, and seem to have a lot of secrets - from Hannah and from each other. Stranded in a foreign land with false documents, no money, and nobody who can help her, Hannah must find a way to save herself from her new status as a modern-day slave or risk losing the one thing she has left: her life.

The Disenchantments by Nina LaCour
Release Date:  February 16, 2012

From Goodreads: 
Colby and Bev have a long-standing pact: graduate, hit the road with Bev's band, and then spend the year wandering around Europe. But moments after the tour kicks off, Bev makes a shocking announcement: she's abandoning their plans - and Colby - to start college in the fall.
But the show must go on and The Disenchantments weave through the Pacific Northwest, playing in small towns and dingy venues, while roadie- Colby struggles to deal with Bev's already-growing distance and the most important question of all: what's next?