Really Ravishing Review (City of Ashes)

literati_rain66 Saturday, July 31, 2010 ,
City of Ashes (Mortal Instruments)Review of City of  Ashes, by Cassandra Clare.

Quickie: Enjoyable second installment. :)

Full: Clary and her friends return to us in City of Ashes, which starts up right where City of Bones left off. Clary's mother is in a spell-induced-coma, her relationship with Jace is on fragile and unknown ground, Simon is still in love with her, and oh yeah- She's got a maniac father who wants to overthrow the Clave and basically kill everyone in the process. Alec is still trying to protect his secret, Jace is turned away from his home, demons are showing up at an alarming rate, and bodies are being found drained of blood. There's a lot of stuff going on!

Not a bad second book. I think I actually liked it better than I did City of Bones, since the ending wasn't all... well, if you've read CoB you know about the ending.

In City of Ashes we get to know the characters more, which is the beauty of a series. One of my favorite characters is Magnus Bane, the High Warlock of Brooklyn. He's got a lot of personality, and he's just a very interesting character all around.

Jace and Clary.... oy. They give me a headache. Well, Simon and Clary kind of do too, although it's more heart-ache than head-ache. Love triangles can be interesting, but I'm ready for this one to end.

I really, really enjoyed seeing Jace and Clary's talents come to life. Clary's especially was fascinating. (Spoiler ahead!!) The power to create new runes- wow. That's a super cool power to have! Although the Spiderman movies remind us; With Great Power Comes Great Responsibility. Hee. In all seriousness, I think this could be a very important plot point later on, and I'm quite interested to see how it will affect Clary's future.

I'm still enjoying Clare's writing, and I love the wit and snark in this series. If I had any complaint about City of Ashes... it would be that the twist at the end of CoB is still making me uncomfortable, and I almost got lost in all the action at the end. It was a bit of a whorl for me. Totally interesting, but a bit overwhelming at times. There was a lot going on.

I already bought and plan to read City of Glass, so you can look for that review soon!

4 out of 5 stars.

Have a Happy Hop #3

literati_rain66 Friday, July 30, 2010
Book Blogger Hop

Hello Hoppers! Welcome!

This week's question: Who is your favorite new-to-you author this year?   
Hmm. Probably Rachel Caine, author of the Morganville Vampires series. Or else Richelle Mead, author of The Vampire Academy. I was late jumping on their bandwagons, but I love both of their work. There have been so many great new authors lately, there are many more that come to mind, but Mead and Caine stick out.

For adult, I'd say Ava Gray/Anne Aguirre. :)

If you're here from the hop, make sure to leave a comment and a link to your blog so I can come check it out! 

And don't forget to enter to win Stork, by Wendy Delsol here!

An Author Answers (Wendy Delsol)

literati_rain66 Wednesday, July 28, 2010 ,
I had the pleasure of interviewing Wendy Delsol, author of Stork. Stork will be released October 12th, 2010.

The Interview-
Literati: What made you decide to write "Stork"?
Wendy: My first three novels I wrote were in the women’s fiction genre, stories centering on relationships, family saga, multi-generational tales, etc. When writing the third generation, girls in their teens, I really enjoyed revisiting the issues and emotions of that age.
Once I made the decision to attempt a YA novel, I knew it had to be high concept. I also hoped to find a fresh idea, something that would attract the notice of an agent and eventually an editor. Years ago, when watching the TV show Unsolved Mysteries, I had been moved by a story about a very young boy who claimed he had a pre-birth memory of hovering above the earth and selecting his mother. The story stuck with me. I spun the idea to invent my human Storks, women with the responsibility of guiding these undecided souls.
L: Stork has Icelandic lore and Native American beliefs riddled throughout. How much research did you have to do in order to write Stork?
W: Though I did research Norse mythology, Native American legends and even Japanese proverbs, Stork is a work of fiction. I took literary license, big time literary license, when it suited my needs. Strict academics will cringe. Most of the book’s wisdom channels through Hulda, the elderly leader of the Storks. My design was for Hulda to be on old soul, one who recognizes the merit and validity of all world cultures and beliefs.
L: Any favorite scenes, or scenes that were particularly difficult?
W: My favorite scene to write was the Asking Fire, a pre-Homecoming event at Norse Falls High. As soon as I invented it, it was an event I wished had really existed when I was in school. (I know the name I’d have offered to the fire, even.) A brisk fall evening, a roaring fire, young couples inspired by the occasion, and a touch of magic—perfect. Or better still, full of potential conflict.
Not that I’d describe it as difficult, but the climactic scene was probably the most work. There’s so much action to the scene that the choreography became complicated. I wanted to sustain the tension while parceling out information necessary to explain the motivations of certain (names withheld to avoid spoilers) characters.

L: Kat is a Robin, Hulda an Owl- If you were in the Stork Society, what bird do you think you'd represent?
W: Good question. Green is my favorite color and I’m a warm climate kind of gal, so maybe a parrot. And how fun would it be to eavesdrop from a perch and then mock repeat the best tidbits overheard.

L: Okay, time to put the 'humble pie' away; it's time to toot your own horn! What is it about your book that will make people want to read it? 
W: Well, shucks, if I have to. I think the book is a unique concept. I worked hard at coming up with a fresh setting and paranormal angle. Absolutely nothing wrong with vamps and weres and fallen angels, they’re hot and rife with story potential. Still, I’m hoping my human Stork is something the reader hasn’t imagined before.

L: In Stork, there are a lot of witty lines. I've always wondered if that's just the author's brand of humor or if it's the character's voice. (An author can write an evil character without being evil themselves, so it stands to reason that they can write a funny character without being funny themselves.) So my question is, is it you or Katla herself that's so darn funny?
W: I think I’m a funny person. I make attempts, anyway. Credit goes to my English parents and extended family. No one was ever exempt from a little teasing and our family gatherings were boisterous. He or she who supplied the punch line or zinger was golden—or at least off the hook from being the punch line.

L: It's sometimes said that authors put something of themselves into their characters; a love for art, certain tastes in music, etc. Anything in particular you feel was or is a part of you?
W: Well, it’s sure not the emphasis on clothes and design. I had to do a fair amount of online browsing to invent Kat’s fascination with high-end fashion. I, myself, am a bargain shopper and am much more concerned with comfort than I am with labels.
The bit of me that went into Kat would have to be the feeling of new-kid-itis. I wrote it shortly after moving to Iowa from L.A., where I’d lived for twenty years.

L: Stork ended with a satisfactory, yet open ending. Do you have any plans for a sequel?
W: Frost, the sequel to Stork, is slated for publication in September of 2011. There’s also an untitled third book in the series to be released …  Well, I guess I should first write the darn thing.
L: What's your preferred environment for writing? Outside? In an office? Coffee shop?
W: I write at home. I’m distractible in other locations. People watching is too much fun.
L: Lately a lot of authors have been making their "book playlist" with songs that they listened to for inspiration during writing. Do you listen to music while you write? Any songs in particular? Or do you prefer quiet?
W: I write in a quiet environment. Every once in a while, I’ll play classical music. Nothing with lyrics, however. Again, distractible.

L: Getting published can be a long, difficult road. What made you decide to give it a go? Were you surprised with the results?
W: I had a health scare about eight years ago. It prompted me to take more risks and to go after my dream career. I suppose I was a little surprised with the results—and thankful, and grateful, and gleeful, and bubbly (or maybe that’s what I drank after receiving the news).

L: A lot of writers have 'that one book' that inspired them to take up the pen and start writing themselves. Is there any book in particular that made you want to write?
Pride And PrejudiceW: Pride and Prejudice is the book that turned me into both a reader and writer. Almost 200 years later and that book is still, IMO, relevant.

L: We know that you write, but what else do you do? Interests? Hobbies?
W: I’m married and have two teen sons (ages 15 and 13) who keep me busy. I am also a tennis addict enthusiast. I play on two teams, have successfully mind-controlled my younger son into playing, and watch countless hours of tennis during Wimbledon, and the US, French, and Australian Opens. Federer, BTW, is my idol (Behind Ms. Austen, of course).

L: What's one thing that not many people know about you?
W: I can’t stand garlic or cilantro. Yuck.

L: Anything I haven't asked that you'd like to share?

W: I’m writing this from a hotel room in L.A. while my sons sleep. Ironically, my scalp itches (just like my character Kat’s). Alas, it’s a sunburn and not the sign of membership to a clandestine organization of soul brokers. Phooey.


A big thank you to Wendy for taking the time out of her busy schedule to answer my questions! If you'd like to know more about Wendy, you can visit her website here. 

Now for the giveaway! I'm giving away a copy of ... you guessed it- Stork. How does this work, since it's not released yet? Well, you enter the contest now, and I pre-order the book for you and then have it shipped directly to you. Easy-peasy. It won't get to you until after it's released (duh) but hey, it's a free book! 

How to enter:
Leave a comment on this post. 
Include your name and email so I can contact you if you win.
+1 (that means an extra entry) for Tweeting about the contest. Leave a link please. :)

Contest is open to residents in the US and Canada only. Contest closes August 13th at midnight, EST.

That's it! I hope you enjoyed reading a bit about Wendy, and good luck!

Terrific Teaser Tuesday #7

literati_rain66 Tuesday, July 27, 2010
Teaser Tuesday is brought to you by MizB at Should Be Reading.

City of Ashes (Mortal Instruments)This week's teaser is from City of Ashes, by Cassandra Clare.

"When they reached the stairs that led up out of the City, Clary breathed a sigh of relief. The Bone City might have been beautiful once, but it was terrifying now." (page 116)

Here is how it works:
- Grab your current read
- Open to a random page
- Share two (2 or 3) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!)
- Remember to show the title & author, too, so that others can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers!

My Magnificent Mailbox #7

literati_rain66 Sunday, July 25, 2010
In My Mailbox is a weekly meme, showcasing all the books I bought, was given, or borrowed this past week. In My Mailbox is brought to you by The Story Siren.

From Amazon:
Rules of Attraction, by Simone Elkeles
City of Ashes, by Cassandra Clare

From Nantucket Bookworks:
Shiver, by Maggie Stiefvater
ARC of Empty, by Suzanne Weyn
ARC of Confessions of the Sullivan Sisters, by Natalie Stanford
ARC of Night of the Living Trekkies, by Kevin David Anderson and Sam Stall
ARC of Passion Play, by Beth Bernobich
ARC of The Marriage Artist, by Andrew Winer
The Story of Stuff, by Annie Leonard

I forgot this one in the picture but, From the library:
Another Faust, by Daniel & Dina Nayeri

Really Ravishing Review (Prophecy of the Sisters)

literati_rain66 ,
Prophecy of the SistersReview of Prophecy of the Sisters, by Michelle Zink.

Quickie: Good read, enjoyed unraveling the mystery with the characters. Definitely one to try.

Full: Lia and her twin sister Alice are left orphaned when their father (their mother died some time ago) dies under mysterious circumstances. Lia's friend James stumbles upon an ancient, hidden book in Lia's father's library as he and his father work to catalog all the books there. The book contains a prophecy- one that Lia will soon come to realize includes both her sister and herself... and a whole lot more.

I was swept right into Prophecy of the Sisters. It's set in the 1800's, and the setting adds to the mystery wonderfully. Lia was a great character, in my opinion, because she was sweet yet unafraid. She wasn't perfect, she wasn't a goody-goody, and she admitted to her "untoward" emotions and thoughts. I like that.

This was a good strong start to the trilogy. I was a bit surprised at the ending, I was expecting more of a bang, but it left me both satisfied and ready for the next installment.

And can I say that I'm really bummed that they changed the cover? I imagine their reasoning was something like, "YA should look contemporary", or "We should put a real girl on the cover", or "This cover isn't selling". Maybe it really wasn't selling well, I don't know. But eh, I think it was a bad move. The original cover is pretty, and actually relates to the book. The new covers don't make me think "1800's Gothic mystery" at all. They make me think of The Vampire Academy.... which is completely unrelated. *end rant*

4 out of 5 stars.

Wonderfully Wacky Winner!

literati_rain66 Saturday, July 24, 2010
BruiserWho won the ARC of Bruiser you ask? Why, Sherry did! Congratulations Sherry! I hope you enjoy it as much as I did. Please send your shipping info to redraindrops66(at)yahoo(dot)com.

Thanks to everyone who entered. You guys rock. Stay tuned for a bigger, better giveaway coming soon! Have a great day!

Have a Happy Hop #2

literati_rain66 Friday, July 23, 2010
Book Blogger Hop

This week's Hop question: Tell us about the book you are currently reading!

I'm reading Prophecy of the Sisters, by Michelle Zink. I saw this one on a whole bunch of other blogger's pages, and it seems as though nearly everyone is waiting for Guardian of the Gate. (By the way folks, this is proof that book bloggers have an impact. :) ) Anyhow, Prophecy of the Sisters is right up my alley- secrets, a prophecy that must be decoded, strange occurrences, and an inevitable choice that could change things forever. Love it! And it's set in the 1800's, which adds to the eerie feel perfectly. I'm about halfway through, and if it continues on in this vein... I think I'll love it. Either way, there will be a review on Prophecy of the Sisters soon, so keep an eye out for it! :)

If you're here from the hop, make sure to leave a link to your blog so I can come check it out! Thanks guys! Have a Happy Hop!

Really Ravishing Review (Stork)

literati_rain66 Thursday, July 22, 2010 ,
Review of Stork, by Wendy Delsol.

Quickie: Humorous and clever. Loved reading about other cultures and their beliefs. Give it a try.

Full: Vamps and werewolves, step aside- The Stork Society is here. Katla has been recently relocated to rural Minnesota from her sunny California home. Her parents just split up, and her mom wanted to go back to her hometown to be with Katla's afi; her grandfather. Katla doesn't feel at home in this strange new place, and the strange new people only make it harder for her.

A light on in the store across the street from her afi's store plays on her curiosity, and she stumbles upon a batty old woman who leads her into a creepy basement filled with a strange gathering of women- The Aslendigas Storkur Society. (Icelandic Stork Society, Local 414) It feels surreal to Katla, and she later tries to convince herself the whole thing was just a dream.

It's not though, and Katla is introduced to a whole new set of responsibilities as one of the Storks- finding vessels (women who could be pregnant) and placing essences (the babies) with the right mother. No small task. The essences and vessels come to her in dreams- confusing dreams with all kinds of symbols she must find the meaning of. She must have everything figured out and her decision made by a deadline, to boot.

Along with the weird old ladies who meet secretly in a basement, Katla also meets a boy. Jack is the quarterback on the school football team, editor of the school paper, and has an extreme aversion to Katla. Even as they are forced into knowing each other, he's hot and cold, nice then distant. Of course you end up loving him- you know you will even when you first meet him. ;-)

What was great about Stork? The humor! I absolutely loved the Kashi references. Bark? Yes. I completely agree. Kashi and all foods like it taste like bark, or cardboard with hard, tacky glue. And the Harry Potter line was fantastic. Katla's character was easy to relate to and fun to read about.

I was also grateful for the no-nonsense beginning. Yes, Katla moved from California to Minnesota... but we didn't have to sit through the whole thing. It just was. We're given the backstory, but not made to wait around for the real stuff to begin. Massive points for that.

I was a little bummed that there weren't more meetings with the other women of the Stork Society. They were incredibly interesting characters, and the myths, lore, and legends of the Stork women fascinate me to no end. I suppose my insatiable curiosity is to blame for wanting more. I'm a sucker for learning about other cultures and the stories that shape them.

Other than that, I thought Stork was a cute love story with an absorbing foundation in Icelandic legend.

4 out of 5 stars.

Want to know more? Stay tuned for an upcoming interview with Stork's creator, Wendy Delsol!

Amazingly Awesome Award

Okay! Now that I've finally got the technical aspects of the blog fixed... it's time to give out an award! I am honored to be one of the blogs awarded the Prolific Blogger Award by Novel Thoughts. As part of the award, it's my duty and honor to choose seven others to give this award to. Here are my picks (in no particular order):

1. Sandy at Scribing Shadows
2. Em, Catie, and Kim at Twisted Fates Cafe
3. Amy at A Simple Love of Reading
4. Karen at Karen's Addictions
5. Karen at For What It's Worth
6. Aine at Aine's Realm
7. Catie at Book Bound

"A prolific blogger is one who is intellectually productive, keeping up an active blog with enjoyable content. After accepting this award, recipients are asked to pass it forward to seven other deserving blogs."

There were many, many others I wanted to pick as well.Some of you I would have picked, but Jeremy from Novel Thoughts picked you along with me, so yanno. ;-) Lots of love to all of you. Great blogs!

Crazy Construction Chaos

Yeah. Sorry. It's a mess. I'll fix it... after this headache goes away! Please ignore the 'dust' as I work on this stinkin' thing. This is what I get for trying to make my blog better. *ugh* Anyway, it should be back up and running soon!

Terrific Teaser Tuesday #6

literati_rain66 Tuesday, July 20, 2010
Teaser Tuesday is brought to you by MizB at Should Be Reading.

StorkThis week's teaser is from Stork, by Wendy Delsol. I've been purposefully reading this one slowly so that I could feature it on Teaser Tuesday. Dork? Why yes, yes I am.

"The baby cries, and I know instantly that I must find her. Obligation tears at my heartstrings. Is she hungry? Sick? Lonely?" (page 175)

There were so, so many different parts I wanted to use, but I chose this one, because it relates to the title and gives you a good mini-glimpse at the story line. I almost went with one of the many witty lines, but I'll let you enjoy those in context when you read Stork.

Here is how it works:
- Grab your current read
- Open to a random page
- Share two (2 or 3) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!)
- Remember to show the title & author, too, so that others can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers! 


My Magnificent Mailbox #6

literati_rain66 Sunday, July 18, 2010
In My Mailbox is brought to you by The Story Siren. 

Woo! Number six! Only 60 more until my lucky number, 66. :-p

From my buddy Aine, over at Aine's Realm:
The Unwritten Rule, by Elizabeth Scott
Low Red Moon ARC, by Ivy Devlin

From my pal Loony over at Loony Reads:
A Kiss In Time, by Alex Flinn

From Candlewick Press:
ARC of Stork, by Wendy Delsol
ARC of Another Pan, by Daniel & Dina Nayeri (Sequel to Another Faust)
ARC of The Agency: Body at the Tower, by Y.S. Lee (Sequel to The Agency: A Spy in the House)

From Harlequin:
A chapter sampler of All I Ever Wanted, by Kristan Higgins
And a All I Ever Wanted promo bookmark

From Nantucket Bookworks:
ARC of The False Friend, by Myla Goldberg
ARC of The Golden Spiral, by Lisa Magnum
ARC of Maynard & Jennica, by Rudolph Delson
ARC of Thirteen Hours, by Deon Meyer
ARC of Half Baked, by Alexa Stevenson

From Amazon:
City of Glass, by Cassandra Clare
Heist Society, by Ally Carter

Thank you to all the friends, publishers and stores I got books from. You are fantastic. And thank you to all the wonderful authors whose books I can't NOT own, I had to get another bookcase. (This is good, I want to build my own library. In my house. :-D You enable me, and I love you for it.)

Really Ravishing Review (Bruiser)

literati_rain66 Saturday, July 17, 2010 ,
Review of Bruiser, by Neal Shusterman.
Quickie: Thought provoking and beautiful in a totally unexpected way.

Full: Oh Bruiser. Where do I begin? I almost didn't read this one. I got the ARC, read the back and thought, "Meh, it sounds okay." But for whatever I reason I decided to give it a go, and wow. I can't believe I ever considered not reading it.

Bruiser is a story of friendship. It starts from Tennyson's point of view, in which we see his twin sister Bronte begin to date "The Bruiser". He's the big lumbering guy in baggy clothes that nobody talks to. The 'stray'. Tennyson is concerned that his sister is making a big mistake... who knows what the Bruiser could do to her! A chance meeting in the locker room and Tennyson sees what Brew is hiding under his baggy clothes - Bruises, welts, cuts, scars... all over, and all fresh.

Tennyson and Bronte go on to discover Brew's 'big secret'- he absorbs the pain of those he cares about. Every whack and scrape Tennyson receives during his lacrosse games, every paper cut and bruise Bronte collects - they all appear on Brew's body. His 'loner' status makes more sense now, but Bronte is bound and determined to socialize Brewster. She does, and he pays for it in blood- literally.

There's more to the secret though...

And Tennyson becomes addicted to having Brew around. He feels pretty much perfect when Brew's with him, no pain, just a numb happy feeling. It gets harder and harder for him to let Brewster out of his sight, because if Brew's far enough away physically, the pain goes back to the person it belongs to. (I sort of wanted to throttle Tennyson a few times.) (And Bronte, for different reasons.)

Brew is such a fantastic character, and his POV is in free verse. It was perfect. He likes poetry, and when you're reading from his point of view... it's poetic and exactly what it should be. You can't say the things he needed to say in regular speech, it was so much more powerful because of the freedom, the raw honesty that free verse allowed. Kudos, Shusterman. You took a chance and it worked.

Bruiser was an unexpected tale. It really makes you think. I nearly cried. But don't worry... it has a very satisfactory ending. It's not so much a sad book, but a touching one.

4 out of 5 stars.

Want to win Bruiser? Click here.

Have a Happy Hop

literati_rain66 Friday, July 16, 2010
Want in on the Book Blogger Hop? Click here, or click the Book Blogger Hop button in my sidebar! (I don't know how to link an image in Blogger... if you know how... enlighten me?)

This week's question:

Oh goodness. Let me see here. 

Mockingjay, by Suzanne Collins
Beautiful Darkness, by Kami Garcia and Maragret Stohl
Eternal Kiss of Darkness, by Jeaniene Frost
Darkest Mercy, by Melissa Marr
Alpha, by Rachel Vincent
Leaving Paradise, Return to Paradise, and Rules of Attraction, by Simone Elkeles
The Search for WondLa, by Tony DiTerlizzi
The Duff, by Kody Kiplinger
Matched, Ally Condie
Clockwork Angel, by Cassandra Clare
Last Sacrifice, by Richelle Mead
Bayou Moon, by Ilona Andrews
Nightshade, by Andrea Cremer
The Lost Hero, by Rick Riordan

There are plenty more, but that's a few off the top of my head. ;-)

If you found me on the hop, leave a comment with a link to your blog, and I'll make sure to stop by! Happy blogging!


Fabulous Free Fiction #4

literati_rain66 Thursday, July 15, 2010
What you can win: An ARC of Bruiser, by Neal Shusterman. (Yes, it's already been released) Ages 14 and up.

Back cover: Tennyson is not surprised, really, when his family begins to fall apart, or when his twin sister, Bronte, starts dating the Bruiser, the guy voted Most Likely to Go to Jail. But as Tennyson and Bronte befriend the Bruiser, strange things begin to happen. Their scrapes heal unnaturally fast, and bruises disappear before their eyes. And what at first seems like their own good fortune could turn out to be more than they bargained for... much more.

Frankly I don't think that description gives the book enough credit. I'm reading it right now, and it's a much better book than the back cover would have you think.

This blurb is more fitting, in my opinion: A chilling and unforgettable novel about pain, friendship, and the true nature of sacrifice. (also from the back cover)

How to enter:
Leave a comment on this post, including your name and email so that I can get a hold of you if you win.
+1 for Tweeting about this contest, leave a link please.

No, you don't have to follow me on Twitter or follow this blog. You're certainly welcome to and I encourage it, but it's not a requirement to enter the contest. :)

US and Canada only. Contest is open from now until Friday, July 23rd at midnight, EST.

Good luck!

Really Ravishing Review (Gregor the Overlander)

literati_rain66 Wednesday, July 14, 2010 ,
Review of Gregor the Overlander, by Suzanne Collins.

Quickie: An easy, cute book. If I was an eleven year old boy, I would adore it.

Gregor The Overlander (Underland Chronicles, Book 1) Full: As it is, I'm not an eleven year old boy. I still enjoyed it, and plan to continue the series. Collins has a fantastic imagination and can create entirely new, entirely believable worlds.

Gregor and his two year old little sister, Boots, fall down a hole in the laundry room of their apartment building, landing in a strange place called the Underland. They meet all kinds of characters you'd expect to find in a world that is solely underground - cockroaches, bats, rats, spiders, and even humans. Gregor is amazed by this strange land, but ultimately he wants to get his sister and himself back home so his mom isn't worrying. He's afraid of what their disappearance will do to their mother- he hasn't forgotten how hard she took it when their dad disappeared two years ago.

The humans of the Underland are an odd bunch, and they whisper about Gregor, saying things like, "warrior" and "prophecy". They decide to show him "The Prophecy of the Gray", which foretells of a warrior who will save them from a great war with the rats. Gregor doesn't believe himself to be this warrior, but upon discovering that the rats have his father (who as it turns out, fell down the very same hole in the laundry room) he decides to play the part so he can rescue his father and make his family whole again.

What did I like about this book? A lot. I think my sons will enjoy this book when they're at the mid-grade reading level. The characters were interesting and totally "eleven year old boy" ish. Rats, cockroaches, spiders and bats? Yeah. The bats are what the humans use for transportation. (They're quite large) The cockroaches are large as well, and I especially liked the two you get to know well, Temp and Tick. For cockroaches, they were incredibly sweet.

I liked Gregor, because he was a family-oriented kid. He was determined to take care of his little sister and worried over her constantly. It was nice to see that, instead of the "my stupid little sister" attitude that you frequently see in kids his age.

Boots was probably my favorite character. Collins nailed the two year old language and attitude perfectly. It had me grinning. She wanted cookies, she had no fear, and she was just awesome.

Gregor the Overlander wasn't the best mid-grade novel I've ever read. But it certainly wasn't the worst, and it was quite good for a debut novel. I'm so glad she continued writing about Gregor and then moved on to YA. If she hadn't, the world would never have seen the awesomeness that is The Hunger Games.

4 out of 5 stars.

Really Ravishing Review (I Knew You Could)

literati_rain66 Tuesday, July 13, 2010 ,
Review of the children's book I Knew You Could, by Craig Dorfman. Illustrated by Cristina Ong.

I Knew You Could!Toddler Reaction: "Train!" "Airpaaane!" "Truck!" "Carrr!" The deeper meaning of the story was lost on him, but that didn't surprise me a bit. This was aimed for an older child, although he still enjoyed it.

Mommy Reaction: Love it. It's cute, it's got a nice flow, and the message is fantastic. I wish I could quote the whole book to you, it was that great. I Knew You Could follows a train along his 'chosen track'. He goes through dark times, but they're temporary. Sometimes he wishes he was a car or a plane, but he reminds himself that he's a train, and that it's great to be a train.

The whole thing was a metaphor for life, and it totally worked. One of my favorite parts, was the "dark tunnels" part. This:

"You'll go through tunnels, surrounded by dark,
And you'll wish for a light or even a spark.
You might get scared or a little bit sad,
Wondering if maybe your track has gone bad.

So here's some advice to help ease your doubt:
The track you took in must also go out.
So steady yourself and just keep on going-
Before you know it, some light will be showing.
And then you'll be out, heading to a new place.
You'll be ready for the next tunnel you face."

See why I love this book? It doesn't tell you to be scared of monsters. It doesn't tell you that nothing will ever hurt you. It acknowledges the fact that life can be hard, unfair, difficult- but that you can make it through.

The whole thing has such a great balance to it. It talks about being and having friends, making your own choices, learning to love yourself for who you are, to express yourself and not be afraid, to not rush through life but take things slowly.... it's simply wonderful.

True, it's aimed at first graders. But my son enjoyed it, I enjoyed it, and it's one we will read often. Buy it for any kid you know. ;-)

Terrific Teaser Tuesday #5

Teaser Tuesday's brought to you by MizB at Should Be Reading. 

This week's teaser is from Gregor the Overlander, by Suzanne Collins. (Yes, the very same Suzanne Collins behind The Hunger Games) It's a cute little MG series, and Gregor the Overlander is the first book.

"The cockroaches had been freaky, the bats intimidating, but these rats were purely terrifying. Sitting back on their haunches, they were a good six feet tall, and their legs, arms, whatever you called them, bulged with muscle under their gray fur. But the worst part of all was their teeth, six-inch incisors that protruded out of their whiskered mouths." (page 83)

Gregor The Overlander (Underland Chronicles, Book 1)Here is how it works:
- Grab your current read
- Open to a random page
- Share two (2 or 3) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!)
- Remember to show the title & author, too, so that others can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers! 

Really Ravishing Review (Perfect Chemistry)

literati_rain66 Monday, July 12, 2010 ,
Review of Perfect Chemistry, by Simone Elkeles.
Perfect Chemistry

Quickie: Yummy! You've got to get a taste of this bad boy!

Full: All that hype about Perfect Chemistry? Yeah, it's valid. What a find! For me, personally, it was exactly what I needed to read. I've been reading paranormal after paranormal, and it's really nice to read about normal people with normal problems. This was a real life story, and it was awesome.

It was especially vibrant to me because I actually know a Brittany and an Alex that fit the character descriptions. It's kind of creepy actually.

Perfect Chemistry opens with Brittany, a girl from the "North Side" who lives in her huge, perfect house with her overbearing mother, distracted father, and developmentally disabled sister. She's captain of the pom squad, dating the 'perfect' guy, and her daddy just bought her a BMW. She's popular, she's beautiful, and everybody wants to be her. Brittany's mother (who I wanted to rebel against myself) is adamant that appearances are everything, and therefore Brittany works hard to make her life look perfect, even though it's anything but.

Next up is Alex, a member of the Latino Blood gang. His father was killed when he was six, and it's up to him to be the man of the house and protect his family. In his neighborhood, the only way to ensure your family's safety is to get "jumped in" to a gang. Alex has a reputation that proceeds him, and nobody expects him to make anything of his life. They think 'gangbanger = hopeless' and 'gangbanger = guilty'. Typical stereotypes.

Alex and Brittany seem totally opposite on the outside, but they both discover that if you dig deep and cast aside previous conceptions, you just might discover something unexpectedly wonderful.

There are a few things that I specifically liked about this book. 1) A Real Bad Boy. He didn't just wear a leather jacket, drive a motorcycle and stand there and look menacing. He was actually bad. He did stuff he wasn't proud of, he had an actual past and present. So many books these days tell us that the bad boy is a bad boy.... but all he does is ride a motorcycle. Puh-leeze. I've ridden a motorcycle and I'm about the furthest thing from a bad boy there is. Adding to this, Elkeles shows us that he's a baddie; he gets in a knife fight, he gets shot, put in jail, throws punches, etc., etc.

2) The developmentally disabled sister. I have a super soft spot for the developmentally disabled, and the way Elkeles portrayed her and the love her sister had for her made me melt. She recognized the tension that can be present in families with both a "normal" child and a developmentally disabled one. It was both heartwarming and heartbreaking, much like real life.

Should you give this one a try? Yep! It's definitely a "high schooler and above" book though.

4 out of 5 stars.

My Magnificent Mailbox #5

literati_rain66 Sunday, July 11, 2010
In My Mailbox is weekly meme brought to you by The Story Siren.

Borrowing from Niki:
ARC of Jack Blank and the Imagine Nation, by Matt Myklusch
ARC of The Doctor & the Diva, by Adrienne McDonnell
ARC of The King's Mistress, by Emma Campion
ARC of The Heir of Night, by Helen Lowe
The Virgin Suicides, by Jefferfy Eugenides

From Nantucket Bookworks:
ARC of Immortal Beloved, by Cate Tiernan
ARC of The False Princess, by Ellis O'Neal

From the library:
Prophecy of the Sisters, by Michelle Zink
Gregor the Overlander, by Suzanne Collins

Make sure you admire my son's truck. He wanted it in the picture, and then decided the stack of books would make a great bumpy mountain for his truck to drive on. Toddler imaginations are awesome.

What did you get this week?

Really Ravishing Review (Raised by Wolves)

literati_rain66 Saturday, July 10, 2010 ,
Review of Raised by Wolves, by Jennifer Lynn Barnes.

Raised by Wolves
Quickie: An excellent werewolf story. One of the best I've read.

Full: I had pretty high expectations going into Raised by Wolves. Every other blogger, reviewer, reader, and author I'd heard from loved it. I did too.

Bryn, or Bronwyn Alessia St. Vincent Clare, is a human girl who comes to be raised by wolves via an unfortunate past. One day she discovers a boy-turned-werewolf locked in a cage in her alpha's home. Instantly, Bryn feels drawn to the panicked, caged boy. She's caught snooping, and told she's not to see Chase - the boy- again. Bryn decides that she must see him, and decided to request permissions from the alpha in official pack style. Her alpha, Callum (love his name, by the way) grants her request and sets down conditions in order for her to meet mystery boy again. Conditions that test Bryn's physical and mental strength. Of course, that's only the very beginning, but I do try not to spoil. (much) :)

One of my favorite aspects of this book was the emphasis on the pack bond. The concept is present is most all werewolf stories, but few really delve into it. It truly was the core of the story, not just a detail or convenient plot thread. I loved seeing, feeling the bond right along with the characters and imagining what it would be like to be bonded like that.

Another part that won some serious points in my book, was the end. Of course I can't say too much, but it had me going, "Yes!". Choices = Awesome. Being who you want to be, being your own person = Freaking Awesome.

The ability to weave action and emotion together in equal, satisfying amounts is uncommon. Barnes did it though, and Raised by Wolves was fantastic because of it.

4 out of 5 stars.

Really Ravishing Review (Sisters Red)

literati_rain66 Wednesday, July 7, 2010 ,
Sisters RedReview of Sisters Red, by Jackson Pearce.

Quickie: Interesting twist of an old tale, a fun read.

Full: Sisters Red is Little Red Riding hood ... twisted. The big bad wolf is a very, very bad wolf indeed. Multiple wolves actually, packs of vicious, killer werewolves, complete with sharp yellow teeth and mangy fur. And instead of one little girl in a red cloak, it's two sisters luring the wolves out by wearing the color of lust. It was a delightful twist, and I enjoyed it.

Scarlett was brutally attacked by one of these wolves when she was just a child. The sisters' grandmother was killed, and Scarlett was injured while protecting her little sister, Rosie from the big bad wolf. Scarlett has devoted her life, as well as her sister's, to ridding the world of the evil they know exists.

Rosie is less enthusiastic about hunting the wolves, she yearns for a normal life- chatting about lipgloss, boys, learning to dance. She wrestles with the guilt of her yearnings though, because she feels that she owes Scarlett her life, and if Scarlett wants her to use her life to hunt, then she has to do it.

An increase in wolf activity and a few overheard bits of information lead the girls and their lifelong friend, Silas, on the biggest wolf hunt they've ever attempted.

Pearce does an excellent job of showing us the relationship and inexplicable bond between sisters. I have two sisters of my own, and I could relate to the feelings of resentment, jealousy, inadequacy, love, devotion, and loyalty. Who has the power to make me feel the most guilty? My sister. Who has the power to make me feel so very, very loved? My sister. Pearce captured all that, and I found it wonderful.

While I understood that Scarlett was driven... she annoyed the heck out of me. Holy bologna girly, ease up. Her whole life was hunting. So much so that she was blind to her sister's need for more, for her sister's unhappiness. She couldn't possibly understand how Rosie could dare think of sleeping, eating, or (shock, horror!!) taking a thirty minute class. Sheesh! She took every death personally, every moment was a moment she could be out there saving the world. I get that, I do. But you can't rid the entire world of evil all by yourself, or even with your sister and friend. So just chill out! Do what you can, but don't hate yourself for what you can't do.

All in all, I liked Sisters Red. (And given all the blurbs from well known YA authors on the back cover, so did they!)  :)

4 out of 5 stars.

Terrific Teaser Tuesday #4

literati_rain66 Tuesday, July 6, 2010
Teaser Tuesday is brought to you by MizB at Should Be Reading.

Sisters RedThis week's teaser is from Sisters Red, by Jackson Pearce.

"Two people died yesterday," she notes, interrupting my flowery thoughts. She shakes her head as she moves to join us in the kitchen. My mouth feels dry as guilt sweeps around me, and she continues, "Two girls. Fenris, I'm sure. They were on the opposite side of town from us, found decapitated."  (page 175)

Here is how it works:
- Grab your current read
- Open to a random page
- Share two (2 or 3) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!)
- Remember to show the title & author, too, so that others can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers! 

Only One Opinion (Never Talk to Strangers)

literati_rain66 Monday, July 5, 2010 ,
Review of the Children's book Never Talk To Stangers, by Irma Joyce. Never Talk to Strangers (Golden Stay Safe Book)

Toddler Reaction: Quickly lost interest, started rooting through the pile of books to find another.

Mommy Reaction: I wasn't impressed with this one. It was obnoxious to read aloud, and the rhyming was "gag-me" rhyming. I found the lesson to be a bit over the top. True, it's not safe to talk to strangers. But like all things, there are exceptions. I'm not sure that the fine art of "people reading" can be taught in a children's book. It certainly didn't happen in this one. Ha! If my kid (who is very literal and a 'black and white' thinker) were to apply this book to his little life, he would be a very rude kid indeed.

Also, I understand that it's supposed to be cute... but how is making the 'strangers' animal characters doing anything?

"If you are swimming in a pool
And a crocodile begins to drool,
Paddle away and repeat this rule-
Never talk to strangers."

Seriously? If there is a croc if your pool I'd say you've got bigger problems then talking to strangers. Maybe some kids will get it, but not mine. He would just see this as, "There are crocodiles in pools!! AH!!"

It also says that as long as you're introduced to somebody by a person you know, that means they are completely safe. Uhm. No. It's usually somebody you know, or sort of know that causes harm. No, not in all cases, but I just can't teach my kid that a person is safe as long as his teacher, friend, or relative introduces them. I don't want my kid to be paranoid, but I also don't want him to blindly trust somebody simply because he knows their name.

I think a book about kicking some serious stranger butt, or what you SHOULD do if you are approached by a stranger would be more helpful. Just my opinion, as always.

Alas, I found Never Talk to Strangers to be a dud. Stick to real-life learning, or find a better book.

My Magnificent Mailbox #4

literati_rain66 Sunday, July 4, 2010
In My Mailbox is a weekly meme hosted by The Story Siren.

This week was pretty good. :) Ironic that my 4th IMM is on the 4th of July. Hee.

Borrowing From Niki:
Unclean Spirits, by M.L.N. Hanover
Darker Angels, by M.L.N Hanover
ARC of Dead Beautiful, by Yvonne Woon

From the Library:
Sisters Red, by Jackson Pearce

From the Library's used book sale:
The Ear, The Eye, and The Arm, by Nancy Farmer
Night Music, by Harrison Gradwell Slater
All Tomorrow's Parties, by William Gibson

From Nantucket Bookworks:
ARC of The Secret to Lying, by Todd Mitchell
ARC of While Galileo Preys, by Joshua Corin
One Season of Sunshine, by Julia London
Self Analysis, by L. Ron Hubbard

From Amazon:
Perfect Chemistry, by Simone Elkeles

Really Ravishing Review (Dead Beautiful)

literati_rain66 ,
Review of Dead Beautiful, by Yvonne Woon. Releases September 2010. Ages 12 and up.

Quickie: Definitely worth the read, just stick out the longish beginning. Not a bad debut novel.

Full: Despite the long, slow beginning and the head-trip ending... I enjoyed Dead Beautiful. I went in cold-turkey, with no clue as to what the book was about. I was pleasantly surprised. An Academy cloaked in mystery, an impossible romance... = Love! I didn't want to put it down. The slow start (while a bit annoying) helped build the mystery and although it wasn't action-packed, it wasn't boring either. I just get impatient. :-p

Renee is unfortunate enough to discover both her parents dead in the redwood forest of California. Her grandfathers assumes custody of her and takes her from her life in California to a prestigious, although unheard of, boarding school in Maine. There she meets Dante, the mysterious and charming boy who reveals little of himself and doesn't talk to other students. Renee's roommate goes missing, and thus starts the unearthing of secrets and unraveling of mystery.

There were a few times when I felt the influences of "Twilight". I rolled my eyes, but I'm sure most girls will love it. You'll see what I mean when you read it. It didn't ruin the book though, so don't let that turn you off.

Being a total geek, I loved the philosophy and Latin aspects to the book. I was a Latin student, and everything about Latin and the culture surrounding the language fascinates me.

All in all, it was a fun ride and I'd recommend it to all you YA enthusiasts. :)

4 out of 5 stars.

Wonderfully Wacky Winner!!

literati_rain66 Saturday, July 3, 2010
Congratulations to Em (Crazy For Words)! You've been selected by as the winner of the ARC of The Adventures of Tom Sawyer and the Undead! Please send me your shipping info dear!