Sunday, June 30, 2013

Summer Circus: Pantomime GIVEAWAY


LADIES, GENTLEMEN, AND CHILDREN OF ALL AGES

WELCOME TO THE CIRCUS!!!

Danielle over at Coffee and Characters is hosting a 12- DAY GIVEAWAY EVENT and we are so excited to be participating!


Our tent contains quite a show for you. Grab a popcorn and take a seat as the pantomimes put on a show. 




Well, that's the show, folks! BUT, that's not all! There's a GIVEAWAY!!!

Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Goodreads

Title: Pantomime
Author: Laura Lam
Year Published: 2013

Synopsis: R. H. Ragona’s Circus of Magic is the greatest circus of Ellada. Nestled among the glowing blue Penglass—remnants of a mysterious civilisation long gone—are wonders beyond the wildest imagination. It’s a place where anything seems possible, where if you close your eyes you can believe that the magic and knowledge of the vanished Chimaera is still there. It’s a place where anyone can hide.

Iphigenia Laurus, or Gene, the daughter of a noble family, is uncomfortable in corsets and crinoline, and prefers climbing trees to debutante balls. Micah Grey, a runaway living on the streets, joins the circus as an aerialist’s apprentice and soon becomes the circus’s rising star.

But Gene and Micah have balancing acts of their own to perform, and a secret in their blood that could unlock the mysteries of Ellada.

Ashley gave Pantomime a 4/5. You can find her REVIEW HERE!!!

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To enter the GIVEAWAY to win a PAPERBACK OF PANTOMIME , fill out the rafflecopter below.

LEAVE A COMMENT: What is your favorite attraction at the circus?

Contest Ends: July 12, 2013
a Rafflecopter giveaway



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Check out the rest of the Attractions at the SUMMER CIRCUS:


  1. Coffee And Characters
  2. Paradise of Pages
  3. The Vampire Code
  4. Two-Tall-Tales
  5. Because reading is better than real life...
  6. From the Writer's Nest
  7. Through the Open Book
  8. Bookhounds
  9. Bookhounds YA
  10. Maureen's Musings
  11. Mad Hatter Reads
  12. Claire Reads
  13. LazyDay.ca
  14. Library of a Book Witch
  15. Kala on Fire
  16. 3 Partners in Shopping, Nana, Mommy, &Sissy, Too!
  17. Sharing Aunt
  18. Fiona Faith Ross

---Ashley & Paul

Friday, June 28, 2013

TMNT: Secret History of the Foot Clan - Paul's REVIEW

***I was provided an ecopy of this graphic novel by Diamond Book Distributors via NetGalley in exchange for a fair review***

Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Goodreads

Title: Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Secret History of the Foot Clan
Author:  Mateus Santolouco
Year Published: 2013

Synopsis: Demons, ninjas, and hostile takeovers-what more can you expect from a TMNT comic? The first installment of this new miniseries reveals a history never told before about the original founder of the Foot. Join the Turtles as they get a history lesson that they will never forget!

Review: If you have ever wanted to learn the history of The Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle's Shredder's infamous Foot Clan, you finally can! About half of this graphic novel is shown in flashback form. The rivalries and battles of Feudal Japan are captivating. This is definitely a graphic novel full of action. There were many pages I found myself skipping ahead without reading the speech bubbles because I was so caught up in the action. 


If you are familiar with TMNT, they are many references you will get (Probably more than I did). The art style isn't too cartoony. I feel like it blends the original comic's grittiness with the most popular 80's cartoon. I did find the Turtles' masks strange. Not only were they different colors, but shapes as well.  

Although I found it a fun read, I found it difficult to remember all the characters and their names in Feudal Japan. And, the action scenes took over the book. I give this graphic novel a 3/5. I suggest it to any TMNT superfan out there!



-PAUL

Thursday, June 27, 2013

Star Wars: Lost Tribe of the Sith- Spiral - Paul's REVIEW

***I was provided an ecopy of this graphic novel by Diamond Book Distributors via NetGalley in exchange for a fair review***

Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Goodreads

Title: Star Wars: Lost Tribe of the Sith - Spiral
Author: John Jackson Miller
Year Published: 2013

Upcoming Release Date: July 2, 2013

Synopsis: An ambitious Sith rebel, Spinner, is about to upset the balance of a lost tribe of Sith. When he is arrested for treason and sent away on a prisoner vessel, thoughts of overcoming his station, destroying the Tribe, and even finding a way to escape into the galaxy lead Spinner to a powerful, long-forgotten weapon. A rival stowaway Sith on that same vessel has her own ideas about the future of the Tribe. They don’t need eradication; they need a new leader—her! 

Review: This is a really interesting Star Wars comic series. It takes place on a planet where Sith crash landed thousands of years ago. None of their technology, expect lightsabers apparently, survived. The world is very medieval. There isn't the balance of the Jedi and the Sith, just the offspring of the Sith. This whole concept just sounds like a Star Trek episode, but the characters in this graphic novel are very Star Wars-y. You have a smuggler, a princess, a badass evil guy, and an old wrinkly intellect. 


Many things in this graphic novel are just stated in dialogue. The world is really interesting, but how the world is revealed to the reader is kind of an avalanche of information. I wish it had been more fluid. Once I understood the dynamic of the people in this world I really liked it. 

I thought "The Doomed" were really interesting. I wanted to know more about them. Miller also wrote novellas that take place in this era so I might have to check those out. 

If you like Star Wars, but want a more fantasy-feeling story that is all set on one planet, you should check this graphic novel out. Oh, and there's a little bit of a Godzilla/King Kong feel towards the end. I give this graphic novel a 4/5.



-PAUL

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Saga (Volume Two) - Paul's Review

*I received this book as an eARC from Image Comics on NetGalley in exchange for a fair review*


Title: Saga (Volume Two)
Author: Brian K. Vaughn and Fiona Staples
Year Published: 2013

Amazon | Goodreads


My REVIEW of Saga (Volume ONE)

Upcoming Release Date: Tuesday July 2, 2013

Synopsis: The smash-hit ongoing epic continues! Thanks to her star-crossed parents Marko and Alana, newborn baby Hazel has already survived lethal assassins, rampaging armies, and alien monstrosities, but in the cold vastness of outer space, the little girl encounters something truly frightening: her grandparents!


Collects Saga issues #7-12 

Review: I have been reading this series as each issue comes out. When I saw Image Comics had the trade paperback compilation of volume two, I had to get it and review it. 



Brian K. Vaughn and Fiona Staples continue this great story. The characters all have such depth. I like how in this volume we got to see how different characters interacted with each other when they were split from the main group.  

The world even continues to grow bigger, taking us to different planets and introducing us to many new interesting characters. I love the complexity of the artwork. It's fun to find things in the background. It reminds me of the Cantina Scene from the first Star Wars movie. 

This volume was really great, but I didn't feel like it really came to any close. I am anxiously awaiting the arrival of issue 13! I give Volume Two a 4/5.


-PAUL

Monday, June 24, 2013

Mortality (The Hitchiker Strain #1) by Kellie Sheridan - Ashley's Review

*I received this book as an eARC from Patchwork Press on NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. *

Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Goodreads

Title: Mortality
Author: Kellie Sheridan
Year Published: 2013


My Pre-Reading


Synopsis: After surviving a deadly plague outbreak, sixteen-year-old Savannah thought she had lived through the very worst of human history. There was no way to know that the miracle vaccine would put everyone at risk for a fate worse than un-death. 

Now, two very different kinds of infected walk the Earth, intent on nothing but feeding and destroying what little remains of civilization. When the inoculated are bitten, infection means watching on in silent horror as self-control disappears and the idea of feasting on loved ones becomes increasingly hard to ignore.

Starving and forced to live inside of the abandoned high school, all Savannah wants is the chance to fight back. When a strange boy arrives with a plan to set everything right, she gets her chance. Meeting Cole changes everything. Mere survival will never be enough.



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Review: It's been a really long time since I've read a good YA zombie book (the last one I can remember was Something Strange and Deadly), and I was really surprised that I enjoyed this one so much. A lot of times, the walking dead are overdone and unoriginal, but Sheridan took a popular theme and made it all her own. Everything about this book is excellent. 

Sheridan creates a world that's rich and different, and yet still very similar to our world. I loved how there were two kinds of zombies - the traditional, slow, stupid, walking dead who only look for their next meal and will probably end up dead (again) trying to get there, and the new, fast, intelligent, still very much alive-but-infected zombies that are more likely to kill you. I was terrified for Savannah and her friends and for Zarah and Liam, and their bravery throughout the whole book was really incredible. All of the characters are well written and very relatable, which really helped.

I really enjoyed reading this book from Savannah and Zarah's perspectives. It gives a complete picture of the world, and I don't think it would have been as good if we had only seen things from one side or the other. It's also really interesting how their stories merge and become one, especially when you can begin to recognize characters  without being told explicitly who they are. I do think my favorite sections were Zarah's even though there were fewer of them, since they end up being something I wasn't entirely expecting. 

I would definitely recommend this book to anyone looking for the next great YA zombie series. It would be such a shame for Mortality to be buried beneath all of the other "big name" books that might not be as good, and you should definitely give it a try. I especially think that fans of The Walking Dead would like this series. A 5/5 from me, and I can't wait for the next book to come out! 


--Ashley

Sunday, June 23, 2013

Reached (Matched #3) by Ally Condie - Ashley's Review


Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Goodreads

Title: Reached
Author: Ally Condie
Year Published: 2012

My Pre-Reading
Paul's Review
Paul's Pre-Reading

Synopsis: 
After leaving Society to desperately seek The Rising, and each other, Cassia and Ky have found what they were looking for, but at the cost of losing each other yet again. Cassia is assigned undercover in Central city, Ky outside the borders, an airship pilot with Indie. Xander is a medic, with a secret. All too soon, everything shifts again.


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Review: I'm not going to lie, I have had the worst time with this series. I liked the plot, the world, and the concept, and I even like Xander and Ky and their stories... I just cannot stand Cassia. I tried for three books to like her and relate to her, and I just wanted to punch her every time one of her chapters came up. I have no idea why, and it makes me kind of sad, because I know this is a good series. This is also an excellent conclusion to this series, so whenever I could forget about Cassia I really thought that the way the story is wrapped up is excellently done.

Condie's world is interesting and exciting and mysterious and yet somehow so familiar. I think she does an excellent job taking her small world of the Society and expanding it into the Outers and the stone villages and everything else beyond that without spending too much time listing details. Everything is given as a memory or an event or a conversation, and it helps move the story along as well as introducing readers to new aspects of this complex world. I think this book had the best world building in it, since this is where Cassia, Xander, and Ky learn more about the world than they've ever known before.

I kind of feel like most of the relationships are underdeveloped, and the only one who really grasps anything about what love should be like is Xander. He loves Cassia, not only because she's his Match, but because they were best friends in childhood and he admires her strength and courage and then was lucky enough to get matched with her! But at the same time, he comes to realize that maybe first love isn't everything. And I admire him for that, and for his journey to get to that point. It wasn't an easy one, especially in this book, but he handles it very well. I also really wish that Ky and Indie had ended up together, because Indie is totally morel likable than Cassia. Cassia is just so annoying and only does things because she loves Ky... and she just comes off as so needy that it drives me insane. 

I was also really excited that a lot of this book was from Xander's viewpoint, since we hadn't heard much from him before. It was interesting to get inside the head of a character who has been there from the beginning, but mostly on the sideline. I also loved the way that everything from the previous two books is tied together in this one. Oh, and I also enjoyed how the colors on the covers make total sense now that I've finished the series. I don't want to spoil anything, but it's a really neat parallel. 

As much as I dislike Cassia, I still enjoyed this book and this series. I would definitely recommend Reached to anyone who has read any of the Matched series, because you won't want to miss this ending! I would also recommend the series to fans of The Hunger Games, Delirium, Divergent, and all those other dystopian books out there. It's really a well-written dystopian series. I would rate this book a 4/5.


--Ashley

Saturday, June 22, 2013

Justice (The Ferryman + The Flame #2) by Rhiannon Paille - Ashley's Pre-Reading

Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Goodreads

Title: Justice
Author: Rhiannon Paille
Year Published: 2013

Synopsis: 
How far would you go to destroy yourself?


Krishani always knew he would have to go to the Lands of Men, but he never thought it would be like this. Enemies everywhere, an ancestor he can't respect, elders he can't trust, a curse he can't stop and friends he can't help but hate. Desperate to end the pain, he sets out on a quest to find the other Flames and face the enemy that took everything from him.

Why?: I read the first book in the series, Surrender, as well as the short story, Lantern & Poison. I  wasn't a huge fan of the romance in the first book, but I loved the world and the cliffhanger ending pretty much demanded that I continue this series. Plus, it was available for a little while for free on the Kindle, which made it something I couldn't pass up!

Expectations: I expect this book to be a lot darker than the first one. Krishani is on a mission to avenge Kaliel, and wants to do something that will make the pain of losing her end. Since he's on a quest to face the enemy, I'm pretty sure there's going to be a lot more death and violence and a lot less romance than Surrender. I'm actually pretty excited to read it.

Judging a book by its cover: I'm kind of torn on this cover. It looks like something than an epic fantasy would have on the cover, but it's also not anything terribly special. At least I don't think so. I might pick this up if I saw it on a shelf somewhere, but probably not. 


--Ashley

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Geek and Sundry Vlogs Voting!



It's the next step in the competition. All the submissions have been received and now it's time for the public to vote! If you haven't seen my submission, please check it out! I give suggestions for other books you may be interested in if you like The Hunger Games trilogy. 

Please click !HERE! to go to the Geek and Sundry site. There you can watch my video and then vote! There's a lot of other great video submissions there, too! Spread the love!

If I do get picked to become a part of Geek and Sundry Vlogs I will make videos about all things YA. I'll talk about some of my favorite series, some of my favorite characters, common tropes and cliches in YA, upcoming books, and much more. I am going to continue to make review videos with a twist. So far I made a cooking review for Shadow and Bone and a crafting review for Tiger Lily. If you have any suggestions on ways I should review books leave a comment! Or contact me via goodreads, twitter, or youtube! Links can be found to the right. 



Have a great day!

-PAUL

Mortality (The Hitchiker Strain #1) by Kellie Sheridan - Ashley's Pre-Reading

*I received this book as an eARC from Patchwork Press on NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. *

Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Goodreads

Title: Mortality
Author: Kellie Sheridan
Year Published: 2013


Synopsis: After surviving a deadly plague outbreak, sixteen-year-old Savannah thought she had lived through the very worst of human history. There was no way to know that the miracle vaccine would put everyone at risk for a fate worse than un-death. 

Now, two very different kinds of infected walk the Earth, intent on nothing but feeding and destroying what little remains of civilization. When the inoculated are bitten, infection means watching on in silent horror as self-control disappears and the idea of feasting on loved ones becomes increasingly hard to ignore.

Starving and forced to live inside of the abandoned high school, all Savannah wants is the chance to fight back. When a strange boy arrives with a plan to set everything right, she gets her chance. Meeting Cole changes everything. Mere survival will never be enough.

Why?: Zombies, a virus, adventure, romance, and mystery? Count me in! Also, I loved Sheridan's novella Follow the White Rabbit, so I really wanted to see what a full length novel from her would be like.

Expectations: I expect a zombie novel that takes place in an alternate version of our world. Plus a lot of running (one of the most important rules in a zombie apocalypse is cardio, after all), as well as some crazy disease that has caused people to become un-dead.  I'm also looking forward to a strong heroine who needs a little romance in her life.

Judging a book by its cover: I really love the cover. Two girls, one alive and one that looks pretty dead. I would probably pick this one up as soon as I saw it on a shelf 


--Ashley

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Playing Tyler by T.L. Costa - Ashley's Review

*I received this book as an eARC from Angry Robot/Strange Chemistry on NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.*


Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Goodreads

Title: Playing Tyler
Author: T.L. Costa
Year Published: 2013

Synopsis: 
When is a game not a game?


Tyler MacCandless can’t focus, even when he takes his medication. He can’t focus on school, on his future, on a book, on much of anything other than taking care of his older brother, Brandon, who’s in rehab for heroin abuse… again.

Tyler’s dad is dead and his mom has mentally checked out. The only person he can really count on is his Civilian Air Patrol Mentor, Rick. The one thing in life it seems he doesn’t suck at is playing video games and, well, thats probably not going to get him into college.

Just when it seems like his future is on a collision course with a life sentence at McDonald’s, Rick asks him to test a video game. If his score’s high enough, it could earn him a place in flight school and win him the future he was certain that he could never have. And when he falls in love with the game’s designer, the legendary gamer Ani, Tyler thinks his life might finally be turning around.

That is, until Brandon goes MIA from rehab and Tyler and Ani discover that the game is more than it seems. Now Tyler will have to figure out what’s really going on in time to save his brother… and prevent his own future from going down in flames.

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Review: Oh my goodness, you guys. This book was absolutely beautiful. And not in the "oh what a pretty fantasy world full of magic and mythical creatures and kingdoms full of amazing royalty!" No, this book was beautiful in the way it portrays its imperfect heroes and puts you directly into their heads as they struggle through their extraordinary situations. 

It's just crazy how well Costa is able to make this seem like it could actually happen. The whole time I was reading,  I felt like everything this book was completely realistic and could be right now. Tyler and Ani are far from perfect and have such broken homes that they could serve as really good role models for kids with even one of their problems - ADD, parents who have died or checked out, siblings who are increasingly distant, etc. And through everything, they grow and persevere. Major props.

At first, the story seemed to be moving kind of slowly. But then Tyler and Ani start to figure things out, and the plot takes off. I was so nervous for them, and them relieved, and then nervous all over again. Costa will keep you on the edge of your seat with all of the crazy twists and turns. I even had migrates after finishing this book that some of the things were actually real and happening right now. 

Although this is not my typical of book,  I thoroughly enjoyed it. I think anyone looking for relatable characters and a plausible contemporary story would really enjoy this book. I don't want to give too much away though, so you should go pick up a copy ASAP! An unexpected 5/5 for this book.


--Ashley

Monday, June 17, 2013

The Necromancer's Apprentice by R.M. Prioleau - Ashley's Review

*I received this book as an eARC from Patchwork Press on NetGalley in exchange for an honest review*

Title: The Necromancer's Apprentice
Author: R.M. Prioleau
Year Published: 2011

Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Goodreads

Synopsis: Jasmine Na'Darod lived a simple life with her parents and older sister on the family’s farm. She never strayed far from home until the ill-fated Blood Moon arose, basking the country of Caristan with a terrible, sickening drought.

When her mother falls ill, Jasmine and her family are forced to leave home in desperate search of a cure. During their journey, a series of tragic events will change Jasmine's life forever.

With her former life shrouded and forgotten, Jasmine embraces a new path granted by an unlikely stranger, who, ironically, practices the Art of death and undeath.

As Jasmine is drawn to this enigma of a man, she soon realizes there is more to him than what she initially perceived — his true motives are beyond anything she could ever imagine…

Deeply compelling and morbidly intriguing, The Necromancer's Apprentice is a beautifully-narrated gothic fantasy with memorable characters.

*A novella by R.M. Prioleau

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Review: The description of this novella sounds fantastic. I mean, who doesn't love a good, mysterious,  Gothic fantasy story with a necromancer who saves the living? Unfortunately, I didn't think the story lived up to all of my expectations. I finished it a few days ago, and still am not entirely sure how I feel. I was left wanting more, but at the same time I wasn't really interested in learning anything else. Most of my questions were answered, but it felt like the answers were just thrown together.

I did think that Prioleau's writing and world-building were beautiful though, and that's part of the reason I kept reading even when I was so confused as to what was happening. I never really got used to the dialect and Jasmine's voice, but I blame that more on myself than on the story. It's very old styled, and reminded me of something I might read in an Austen or Bronte novel  I also felt like the plot moved too quickly, which might have been because it is only a novella. 

I also never really connected with Jasmine. She was just too... weird for my liking. Her relationship with Master Dag is strange and takes a while to develop, but I never could figure out what he thought about her. His secrets were really interesting though, and I did enjoy the spin on a classic mythological creature that Prioleau put into the story.

Overall, this just didn't end up being the story for me. Maybe someone who enjoys dark, Gothic mysteries might enjoy it, but it's just really hard for me to say. I think there's  full novel in there somewhere trying to claw its way out. I can only give this a 2.5/5 as is though. I liked parts of it, but most of it was just too confusing and underdeveloped for me.


--Ashley

Sunday, June 16, 2013

Reached (Matched #3) by Ally Condie - Ashley's Pre-Reading

Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Goodreads

Title: Reached
Author: Ally Condie
Year Published: 2012

Synopsis: 
After leaving Society to desperately seek The Rising, and each other, Cassia and Ky have found what they were looking for, but at the cost of losing each other yet again. Cassia is assigned undercover in Central city, Ky outside the borders, an airship pilot with Indie. Xander is a medic, with a secret. All too soon, everything shifts again.


Why?: I read and enjoyed the first two books in this series, Matched and Crossed. And so I feel like I should definitely read the third book to find out how the story ends for Cassia, Ky, and Xander!

Expectations: I expect this book to be similar to the first two. Mostly romance in a dystopian society, with Cassia and Ky trying to find each other (again...). I'm hoping we learn more about the society in this one though. And also, what Xander's secret is!

Judging a book by its cover: I'm a huge fan of covers that match the rest of the covers in the series, and this one does an excellent job of that. On Matched, the girl is trapped in a bubble. On Crossed, she's punched a hole in her bubble. And finally, on this cover, she's free of her bubble. I would probably pick this up if I saw it on a shelf somewhere. It's simple, but effective.


--Ashley

Saturday, June 15, 2013

The Time Machine by H.G. Wells - Ashley's Review

Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Goodreads

Title: The Time Machine
Author: H.G. Wells
Year Published: 1895

My Pre-Reading

Synopsis: 
When the Time Traveler courageously stepped out of his machine for the first time, he found himself in the year 802,700 -- and everything had changed. H.G. Wells's famous novel of one man's astonishing journey beyond the conventional limits of the imagination is regarded as one of the great masterpieces in the literature of science fiction.



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Review: I really like H.G. Wells' books, or at least the few I've read, so I was really looking forward to reading this classic. Especially since it's such a staple in the sci-fi world. And while I did enjoy it,  I felt like it didn't really live up to all pf my expectations. The world of the future was really interesting, and I can definitely see how it's imaginative, but the world building just seemed to be lacking in some respects. We got to see the terrain and the people of the future, but we didn't real learn anything about either. The Time Traveller makes very few attempts to learn anything about the people, or creatures,  or whatever you want to call them, and that was kind of a disappointment for me.

What we do learn is fascinating though, so at least there was a little bit. I think the idea of two separate societies, which have been flipped upside down several times over the course of history, isn't far off from what might actually happen. Everything is totally plausible,  and I think that might be part of what made this story so groundbreaking. Wells even goes so far as to give a mathematical explanation as to why time travel is completely possible.

The plot moves pretty slowly, and is fairly dty. The Time Traveller is pretty much narrating the book the whole time, but it's written so that he's speaking to a group of his friends and a third party is writing it all down. It's a little strange, and I almost wish it had been written from the Time Traveller's perspective as he is experiencing everything for the first time. It works,  but it was just a little weird for me. 

 I am glad I read this book, and I do think anyone who enjoys the sci-fi genre should definitely read it. I will likely be checking out more of Wells' stories in the future. 3/5 on this one from me.


--Ashley

Friday, June 14, 2013

A Dawn Most Wicked (Something Strange and Deadly #0.5) by Susan Dennard - Ashley's Review

Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Goodreads

Title: A Dawn Most Wicked
Author: Susan Dennard
Year Published: 2013

My Something Strange and Deadly Review

Synopsis: Daniel Sheridan is an engineer’s apprentice on a haunted Mississippi steamer known as the Sadie Queen. His best friend – the apprentice pilot, Cassidy Cochran – also happens to be the girl he’s pining for … and the captain’s daughter. But when it looks like the Sadie Queen might get taken off the river, Daniel and Cassidy have to do whatever they can to stop the ghosts that plague the ship.

Fortunately, there happens to be a Creole gentleman on board by the name of Joseph Boyer – and he just might be able to help them…

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Review: I loved Daniel in Something Strange and Deadly, and was so stoked to find out that there was going to be a novella about his past. I mean, it's about the girl before Eleanor, but still, it's all about Daniel! I especially liked that it's written as a flashback - we start and end in Eleanor's hospital room at the end of the events of Something Strange and Deadly. I thought it was really neat how the two stories and the two girls are tied together. 

I also really enjoyed seeing how the Spirit Hunters become a group. I mean, we know that they all meet at the same time, but we don't know much about how or why they end up together. And even though this is Daniel's story, we still get a glimpse into Jie's and Joseph's past. It just adds so much more to those characters, and I love when we learn back stories for minor characters. 

The story itself is also really intriguing. A haunted Mississippi steam boat? I had so many questions going into it about why it was haunted and how it came to be that way, and how in the world Joseph would help Cassidy and Daniel (although I already had a pretty good idea about that last one). Plus, why did Daniel leave the ship anyway? All of these questions and more are answered! I don't want to ruin it for you, so you should definitely just go read it yourself. I read this all in one sitting and didn't want to put it down until I reached the end. It's pretty fast paced and attention grabbing.

I would totally recommend this to anyone who has read Something Strange and Deadly and is anxiously awaiting A Darkness Strange and Lovely. And if you haven't read Something Strange and Deadly you should go do that ASAP! Especially if you like books about zombies and steampunk and romance and just really like a good book. You won't be disappointed. A 5/5 for this novella! I can't wait for the next book to come out in July!


--Ashley

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Playing Tyler by T.L. Costa - Ashley's Pre-Reading

*I received this book as an eARC from Angry Robot/Strange Chemistry on NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.*


Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Goodreads

Title: Playing Tyler
Author: T.L. Costa
Year Published: 2013

Synopsis: 
When is a game not a game?


Tyler MacCandless can’t focus, even when he takes his medication. He can’t focus on school, on his future, on a book, on much of anything other than taking care of his older brother, Brandon, who’s in rehab for heroin abuse… again.

Tyler’s dad is dead and his mom has mentally checked out. The only person he can really count on is his Civilian Air Patrol Mentor, Rick. The one thing in life it seems he doesn’t suck at is playing video games and, well, thats probably not going to get him into college.

Just when it seems like his future is on a collision course with a life sentence at McDonald’s, Rick asks him to test a video game. If his score’s high enough, it could earn him a place in flight school and win him the future he was certain that he could never have. And when he falls in love with the game’s designer, the legendary gamer Ani, Tyler thinks his life might finally be turning around.

That is, until Brandon goes MIA from rehab and Tyler and Ani discover that the game is more than it seems. Now Tyler will have to figure out what’s really going on in time to save his brother… and prevent his own future from going down in flames.

Why?: Angry Robot/Strange Chemistry hasn't disappointed me yet, so I'm always excited to see a new book from them on Netgalley. This one in particular sounds like a really tragic contemporary book, and also something that might actually happen one day. Plus, I enjoy playing video games and I'm interested to see how Costa envisions them to be something more than just a game.

Expectations: I expect a pretty tragic story, that might not have a happy ending. I also expect it to be kind of all over the place, since Tyler can't focus on anything. Probably a lot of technical computer talk too, since the girl Tyler falls in love with is the programmer for the game.

Judging a book by its cover: This cover is really interesting. A helicopter and a field of red flowers? The red is really striking, and I think that alone helps this cover stand out. I might pick it up if I saw it on a shelf, although I'm not really a huge fan of helicopters or anything. I mean, they're cool and all, but I don't usually read books about them.


--Ashley

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Far, Far, Away by Tom McNeal - Ashley's Review

*I received this book as an eARC from Knopf Books for Young Readers on NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.*

Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Goodreads

Title: Far Far Away
Author: Tom McNeal
Year Published: 2013

My Pre-Reading

Synopsis: 
It says quite a lot about Jeremy Johnson Johnson that the strangest thing about him isn't even the fact his mother and father both had the same last name. Jeremy once admitted he's able to hear voices, and the townspeople of Never Better have treated him like an outsider since. After his mother left, his father became a recluse, and it's been up to Jeremy to support the family. But it hasn't been up to Jeremy alone. The truth is, Jeremy can hear voices. Or, specifically, one voice: the voice of the ghost of Jacob Grimm, one half of the infamous writing duo, The Brothers Grimm. 


Jacob watches over Jeremy, protecting him from an unknown dark evil whispered about in the space between this world and the next. But when the provocative local girl Ginger Boultinghouse takes an interest in Jeremy (and his unique abilities), a grim chain of events is put into motion. And as anyone familiar with the Grimm Brothers know, not all fairy tales have happy endings...

Young adult veteran Tom McNeal (one half of the writing duo known as Laura & Tom McNeal) has crafted a novel at once warmhearted, compulsively readable, and altogether thrilling--and McNeal fans of their tautly told stories will not be disappointed.

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Review: I was really excited to read this book, especially since there are fairy tales, the Grimm brothers, mystery, ghosts, and all sorts of things that make up a great book (in my humble opinion). And McNeal did not disappoint at all! I found myself not wanting to put this book down, and finished it much more quickly than I thought I would. I loved every minute of it. 

The pacing does drag a little bit near the middle, and there were a few times when I thought it would end soon.. but it really ended up not being so bad, and those parts were very important to the plot. Especially when it comes to the thing Jacob is supposed to be protected Jeremy from. There are so many clues leading up to who the "unknown dark evil" is that I thought it was pretty obvious when it's finally revealed, but if you aren't looking for them, I think they would be easy enough to miss.

I was not really a fan of Ginger at first, but I came to really like her by the end. I thought she was going to be one of those "take advantage of the nerdy kid" popular girls, but she's really so much bigger and better than that. Although many of the characters are fairly stagnant, I felt like the main characters, and those directly related to them, grow and change enough that things don't get too boring in that area. 

Overall though, this is a really sweet story with an excellent, intriguing plot. I loved being in the present but also going back to the past and learning more about Jacob and the rest of his family. I don't know much about the personal lives of the Grimm brothers, but I loved the spin that McNeal gave while still including enough factual details that it doesn't seem too stretched. Everything about this book is just fantastic though!

I would totally recommend this book to anyone who loves fairy tales and anyone who is especially interested in the Grimm Brothers' Fairy Tales. This book will not disappoint you, and is definitely worth the read! I would have loved to see more books set in this world, but I'm actually kind of glad it was a standalone. A 5/5 from me! 


--Ashley

Sunday, June 9, 2013

Avatar: The Last Airbender - The Search, Part One - Paul's REVIEW

*I received this book as an eARC on NetGalley in exchange for an honest review*

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Title: Avatar: The Last Airbender - The Search Part 1
Authors:  Gene Luen Yang, Michael Dante DiMartino, and Bryan Konietzko
Illustrator: Gurihiru
Year Published: 2013

Synopsis: For years, fans of Avatar: The Last Airbender and The Legend of Korra have burned with one question - what happened to Fire Lord Zuko's mother? Finding a clue at last, Zuko enlists the aid of Team Avatar - and the most unlikely ally of all - to help uncover the biggest secret of his life. Written and drawn by the creative team behind the bestselling Avatar: The Promise, Gene Luen Yang and Gurihiru, in collaboration with Avatar and Korra creators Michael Dante DiMartino and Bryan Konietzko.

Review: So I didn't watch Avatar: The Last Airbender when it was first on tv. I think I was just a few years too old, thinking I was too cool for cartoons. Thankfully, in college I found the series on a popular streaming website and watched the whole series over a semester. I absolutely loved it. When The Legend of Korra came out, I DVRed every episode. 


This was the first Avatar: The Last Airbender comic I have read, but it will definitely not be my last. It felt just like a continuation of the show. Many comic adaptations of shows mimic the show they are based on with already done plots or more detailed back stories. This moves forward. It picks up where the show left off and continues Team Avatar's journey. 

I recommend this to all fans of Avatar: The Last Airbender, whether you are 14, 24, or 54. I look forward to picking up the rest of the parts in this story and checking out some of the other graphic novels already out there. I give this graphic novel a 4/5.



-PAUL

Saturday, June 8, 2013

My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic, Volume 1 - Paul's REVIEW

*I received this book as an eARC from IDW Publishing on NetGalley in exchange for an honest review*

Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Goodreads

Title: My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic, Volume 1

Author: Katie Cook, Andy Price
Year Published: 2013

Ashley's Review

Synopsis: Welcome to Ponyville, home of Twilight Sparkle, Rainbow Dash, Rarity, Fluttershy, Pinkie Pie, Applejack, and all your other favorite Ponies!


 Something's not right in the town though, as some of the inhabitants are acting very, very strange. It’s up to the Mane Six to find the source of the weirdness before it’s too late!


Review: If you enjoy the tv series, you'll enjoy this comic. The art is very similar to the show. there are lots of colors and quite a few pages with so many details I found myself checking out what the background ponies were up to. The humor and dialogue is also very similar to the tv series. 


If you know a kid who loves the show, this would be a perfect way to introduce them to comic books! I'll give this graphic novel a 3/5, but that's only because it is childish and light. But, that's what My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic is all about, teaching lessons in a really fun way. 


--Ashley

Friday, June 7, 2013

The Automaton's Treasure (The Assassin's Curse #0.6) by Cassandra Rose Clarke - Ashley's Review

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Title: The Automaton's Treasure
Author: Cassandra Rose Clarke
Year Published: 2013

The Witch's Betrayal Review
The Assassin's Curse Review
The Pirate's Wish Review

Synopsis: A tale exploring Marjani's first steps beyond Qilar, when she is dismissed from her home for scandalous behaviour.

Marjani's ship is stolen by pirates and, in order to save her own life, she pretends to know the location of great treasure.


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Review: I am a huge fan of The Assassin's Curse series, and I was super excited to find out that there would be another short story set before Naji and Annana meet. Even more so when I learned it was about Marjani! And I was not disappointed at all. 

Like The Witch's Betrayal, this story offers a glimpse into the life of one of the characters before we meet them. If you've read The Pirate's Wish, you already know some of Marjani's secrets, including why she's being sent away. What we didn't know, however, is what happens to her between being sent away and becoming a pirate. This story, aside from showing us one of Marjani's adventures, also helps mold her into a dynamic character and allows us to better understand what motivates her to do the things she does. I love when minor characters get their own short stories. 

I also really loved the automaton. I mean, who wouldn't want a bejewled little robot crocodile? And all the poor little thing wants to do is get back to his great treasure. I loved the way that he was portrayed, and the way he talks about his great treasure. Especially after learning what this treasure was. It also gave us a chance to learn a little bit more about this world, I think, since we're introduced to even more creatures and places.

I would definitely recommend this to anyone who has read and enjoyed any of the books and/or stories in the Assassin's Curse series. This is a nice, quick read that will allow readers to get to know one of the more mysterious characters from the books, and will take them on a completely different adventure than we've previously seen in the series. I would give this a 4/5, and suggest that if you haven't read any of the Assassin's Curse books, you go do that ASAP!


--Ashley




Thursday, June 6, 2013

The Time Machine by H.G. Wells - Ashley's Pre-Reading

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Title: The Time Machine
Author: H.G. Wells
Year Published: 1895

Synopsis: 
When the Time Traveler courageously stepped out of his machine for the first time, he found himself in the year 802,700 -- and everything had changed. H.G. Wells's famous novel of one man's astonishing journey beyond the conventional limits of the imagination is regarded as one of the great masterpieces in the literature of science fiction.


Why?: I enjoyed some of H.G. Wells' other works (like The Island of Dr. Moreau), and decided that I should give this classic a try. I mean, how can I say that I enjoy sci fi novels if I haven't even read this one?! Plus, it's free for Kindle. Hooray!

Expectations: I expect a heavy science fiction novel. Time travel, and skeptics, and all sorts of new creatures and places. Probably quite a bit of technical writing to explain time travel, but who knows. Oh, and a lot of words I don't know because I don't speak 1895. 

Judging a book by its cover: This is another book with so many different covers. Some of them, I absolutely love. Other ones are pretty boring. It would completely depend on which one was in the store or library, but I would probably pick this up if it was one of most of the covers. 


--Ashley