In My Mailbox (#18)

Sunday, January 23, 2011

In My Mailbox is a weekly meme that talks about books that have been bought, swapped, received for review, or borrowed from the library. It is hosted by Kristy at The Story Siren.

In my Mailbox (and my e-mail-box):
This week was pretty exciting because I got two books from debut authors! On Tuesday, I got "Illegal" by Bettina Restrepo in my email-box, and on Wednesday, I got “Driven” by Shellie Neumeier in my actual mailbox. I don’t have an e-reader, so I’ll be reading that one on the computer. (If you DO have an e-reader, which one? And what do you like/don’t you like about it? I’m trying to decide whether I want a Kindle or a Nook or neither…)

From the Library:
Wicked Girls: A Novel of the Salem Witch Trials – Stephanie Hemphill
Blue Is For Nightmares – Laurie Faria Stolarz
White Is For Magic – Laurie Faria Stolarz

Firelight – Sophie Jordan
Beautiful Malice – Rebecca James (I included two covers, because I like them both)
Wicked – Sara Shepard
Killer - Sara Shepard
Heartless – Sara Shepard Kiss Me Deadly: 13 Tales of Paranormal Love
Zombies vs. Unicorns
I didn’t buy any books this week, but I did get season four of “Bones” on Wednesday. We had a school cancellation because my city was covered in ice, but we ventured out mid-afternoon and found it for $20 less than I’ve seen it anywhere…so of course, I picked it up!
That sums up my mailbox...let me know your Kindle v. Nook opinions, and what you got in your mailboxes!

The Secret Life of a Teenage Siren by Wendy Toliver

Monday, January 17, 2011

author’s website: Wendy Toliver
release date: December 26, 2007
appeals to: YA (ok for younger teens)
genre: romance
length: 280 pages
publisher: Simon Pulse
overall rating: 3.5

*the back cover*
Geeky to gorgeous in sixty seconds . . .
Roxy’s about to turn sixteen, but life isn’t so sweet. As a band geek, roxy can barely get the cute guys to notice her, much less go out with her. Then, on her birthday, Roxy is transformed into a Siren: seductively beautiful with the power to control all men. She thought Sirens were an ancient myth, but suddenly Roxy can get any guy she wants with just a few notes on her flute.
There are only two rules: don’t tell anyone about being a Siren, and don’t fall in love. When she starts dating Zach, the guy everybody’s crushing on, Roxy realizes she could get used to this Siren thing . . . but how can she keep herself from falling in love?

*my review*
This book is lighthearted, cute, and fun to read. It is basically a romance novel, but with the twist that Roxy can’t fall in love because of Siren Rule Number Two! Roxy begins the book as a normal 15-year-old high school sophomore who is ready for her 16th birthday to come. She is a flute player in the band, accepts the fact that she isn’t gorgeous, but still has a huge crush on the school heartthrob, Zach Parker. Roxy and her best friend, Natalie, are self proclaimed BeeGees (band geeks), and are constantly frustrated, mocked, and lightly tormented by the snobby members of the Proud Crowd.
When Roxy’s grandmother comes for her sixteenth birthday, and explains the transformation into a Siren that takes place, Roxy changes from invisible to unforgettable in one evening. She has gets the things that she always thought she wanted: attention from boys, a place in the Proud Crowd, and a good looking boyfriend. But she also realizes that the “perks” don’t always outweigh the costs related to them.
While the book was slightly predictable, the story was cute and it was nice to see a story about how the unpopular kids can be much more fun than the divas of the Proud Crowd. It was also fun to read about a flute player, since I spent my high school years dealing with the same flute-player jokes (…especially after American Pie came out my junior year). This would be a great choice for a beach read (or a snow day read)!

*short and snappy*
: light and fun
plot: slightly predictable, but very fun to read
characters: realistic and likable (except for the Proud Crowd divas, but you’re supposed to hate them)
judging by the cover: the bright cover is actually what made me pick up the book :)
miscellaneous: there is a trailer for the book here (on Wendy's site)

Virals by Kathy Reichs

Saturday, January 15, 2011

author’s website: author site / Virals website
release date: November 2, 2010
appeals to: YA
genre: Paranormal/SciFi
length: 464 pages
publisher: Razorbill
overall rating: 5 stars

*synopsis* (from Virals website)
Adventure has always been in fourteen-year-old Tory Brennan’s blood. After all, she is the niece of world-famous forensic anthropologist Temperance Brennan. So when she moves to middle of nowhere Morris Island, South Carolina, to live with a marine biologist dad she’s never known, Tory does the best she can to adjust to her new life.
There she meets a group of local kids who are just as “Sci-Phile” as she is—science geeks who’ve grown up exploring the backwoods marsh-lands of nearby Loggerhead Island. But there’s something strange going on at the Loggerhead Research Institute… maybe even something deadly. After rescuing a stray wolfdog pup from a top-secret lab, Tory and her friends are exposed to a rare strain of canine parvovirus, changing them—and their DNA—forever.
Now, with newly heightened senses and canine-quick reflexes, they’ll have to solve a cold-case murder that’s suddenly become very hot … that is, if they can stay alive long enough to catch the killer’s scent.
Fortunately, they are now more than friends.
They are a pack.
They are VIRALS.

*my review*
I initially picked up Virals because I saw that it was written by Kathy Reichs. As an absolute addict to the show Bones (which is based on the life and books of Kathy Reichs), I thought that I’d like to try one of her books. Then, I read the inside flap and realized that it has a paranormal ingredient, and I was even more excited!
The first line of Virals is fabulous. It draws you in, and creates a great hook to keep you interested. From there, the story is filled with suspense, friendship, mystery-solving, crime fighting teenagers, and the science fiction/paranormal aspect that will intrigue fans of those genres. The plot if this story is pretty complex, but it never felt heavy. The action moves quickly and the actual writing is very easy to read. In fact, it’s difficult to put down.
The main character in this book - Tory - is only 14 years old, but she is definitely wise beyond her years. She (and her three cohorts in crime) are so much more mature than most fourteen year olds that I have met (no offense) that is was often easy to forget that they were so young. In addition to the increased maturity, the characters were incredibly intelligent. All four of the teens are the children of professors working at the Loggerhead Research Institute, which may account for the increased interest in science and learning. Even with the extreme intelligence, the characters were all pretty down to earth, and seemed easy to relate to.
While I really enjoyed this book, there is a lot of language used. Since the main character is fourteen, that may be offensive to some younger readers (or their parents). However, I thought it was a pretty realistic portrayal of teenagers. Even though there is a lot of language, it always felt realistic rather than excessive.

*short and snappy*
: Quick and easy to read, but it still provides a lot of detail!
plot: Fast moving, but with a lot of twists and turns that keep it quite suspenseful
characters: The four main characters are all well developed and easy to relate to, but it is the amount of detail given to the minor characters that adds to the story
memorable line: A gunshot is the loudest sound in the universe. Especially if the bullet is coming at you. (p. 1)
judging by the cover: a great cover with details that I didn’t understand until I read the book
miscellaneous: An excerpt of the prologue to Virals is available here (and it includes that memorable line).

2011 Challenges

Sunday, January 2, 2011

Last year, I participated in two challenges the 100 book challenge from J. Kaye’s site & the Debut Author Challenge at The Story Siren’s site. I did manage to meet my debut author goal, but I missed my 100 book challenge by 4 books.

This year, I am going to be participating in a few challenges, but my main goal is to keep up on reviewing the books I read!

2011 YA Reading Challenge
Jamie at “For the Love of YA” is hosting the YA Reading Challenge this year. Since I read primarily YA books, I’m going to attempt the Mega Size challenge which is 50+ YA titles. The rules for this challenge and information about how to sign up are available here.

2011 Debut Author Challenge
The Debut Author Challenge is hosted by Kristi at The Story Siren. Last year, I read 13 debut books, but only posted reviews for 8, so I’m not sure if I officially completed the challenge or not! :) This year, I hope to read 12 debut books. You can learn more about this challenge here and sign up for it here. My tentative list (which has far more than 12) is below, and I’ll be keeping track in a sidebar on my blog.
The False Princess - Eilis O'Neal
Darkness Becomes Her - Kelly Keaton
Blood Magic - Tessa Gratton
Entwined - Heather Dixon
Wither - Lauren DeStefano
Bumped - Megan McCafferty
The Goddess Test - Aimee Carter
Spellbound - Cara Lynn Shultz
Falling for Hamlet - Michelle Ray
Vanished - Sheela Chari
My Un-Fairy Tale Life - Anna Staniszewski
Flawless - Lara Chapman
The Princess Curse - Merrie Haskell
Dead Rules - Randy Russell
The Sweetest Thing - Christina Mandelski
Wildefire - Karsten Knight
Unearthly - Cynthia Hand
Moonglass - Jessi Kirby
Illegal - Bettina Restrepo
Across the Universe - Beth Revis
Vesper - Jeff Sampson
Haven - Kristi Cook
Rival- Sara Bennett-Wealer
So Shelly - Ty Roth
The Revenant - Sonia Gensler
The Lipstick Laws - Amy Holder
Also, I find the “Elevensies” website to be helpful in finding information about the debut authors and books. It is here.

100+ Book Challenge
Last year I attempted this challenge and came SO close! This year, I’m going to try again to reach the 100 book mark. You can learn more about this challenge here.

In My Mailbox (#17)

In My Mailbox is a weekly meme that talks about books that have been bought, swapped, received for review, or borrowed from the library. It is hosted by Kristy at The Story Siren. Kristy is taking a break from IMM, but will be bringing it back later this year.

This IMM is actually covering two weeks, so there is a lot to share!
I got a few things for Christmas: The big book in the background is probably the coolest present I’ve ever received from a student – especially because it shows that he really knows me! The book is an American History coloring big book. All of the pages are line drawings that can be colored in, but they depict different scenes from the very beginning of colonization through landing on the moon. I’m actually thinking about breaking the book apart and using them as posters in my classroom.
The other things are:
The Hunger Games boxed set (!!!) – Suzanne Collins
Linger – Maggie Stiefvater
Eclipse (the movie)
Bones Season 3 (this show is my new TV addiction)
The Presidents Little Instruction Book (I actually got 2 of these)

Then last week, I went to Half Price Books because they were having a 20% off of everything sale, and I left with 7 books for only $13! Two are for my collection, and five are for my classroom. Ballad – Maggie Stiefvater
Founding Brothers – Joseph Ellis
Pictures of Hollis Woods – Patricial Reilly Giff
The Best School Year Ever – Barbara Robinson
Bridge to Terabithia – Katherine Paterson
The Witches – Roald Dahl
Ginger Pye – Eleanor Estes

I also have to share a present that I got from my sister-in-law for Christmas. It’s called Things We Can Learn from a Dog. It has very cute advice and that is a picture of my puppy on her first Christmas (she’s three and a half now).

That sums up my week in books…what did you get?

Fallen by Lauren Kate

Saturday, January 1, 2011

author’s website: Lauren Kate
release date: December 8, 2009
appeals to: Young Adult
genre: Contemporary Paranormal
length: 464 pages
publisher: Delacorte Press
overall rating: 5 stars

*the inside flap*
There’s something achingly familiar about Daniel Grigori.

Mysterious and aloof, he captures Luce Price’s attention from the moment she sees him on her first day at Sword & Cross boarding school in Savannah. He’s the one bright spot in a place where cell phones are forbidden, the other students are screwups, and security cameras watch every move.

Except Daniel wants nothing to do with Luce – he goes out of his way to make that very clear. But she can’t let it go. Drawn to him like a moth to a flame, Luce has to find out what Daniel is so desperate to keep secret . . . even if it kills her.

Dangerously exciting and darkly romantic, Fallen is a page-turning thriller and the ultimate love story.

*my review*
Luce is a very strong character, but within the story, she is faced with a number of issues; beginning with the one that landed her at Sword and Cross - an issue that is hinted at and described in pieces throughout the book. There is also the problem (if you can call it that) of the two intriguing and good looking boys capturing Luce’s attention. Cam is the persistently interested and cute boy who oozes charm, but Luce can’t seem to get over Daniel – even though he shows zero interest. In fact, Daniel shows the opposite of interest, making every effort to push Luce away.
As the story progresses, the characters change and everything starts to fall into place. There is actually a lot of action in the story, with twists and turns happening when you least expect them to. I thoroughly enjoyed this book and can’t wait for the sequel.
Overall, this is an intensely beautiful story that unfolds new surprises to the very last page. I would recommend it without question.

*short and snappy*
plot: intense – there are a lot of elements in this story and surprises literally happen until the last page
characters: incredibly developed! Even the “minor” characters have detailed backgrounds and personalities
judging by the cover: I absolutely LOVE the cover! Truthfully it is what drew me to the book. It reminds me of the cover of Evanescence’s “The Open Door” album & especially the Lithium video
miscellaneous: two book trailers for Fallen are available at Lauren Kate’s website. You have to scroll down and they’re on the right hand side.
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