Monday, December 31, 2012

Happy New Year 2012 Giveaway Hop!

Happy New Year 2013 
Giveaway Hop

January 1st - 7th 2013

A giveaway for the New Year!  Happy 2013!  I'm giving away an Amazon gift card for $15 (USD), and anyone can enter as I'll be e-mailing it.  As of right now, there is no extra shipping charge for e-mail.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

This is a blog hop! 

Friday, December 28, 2012

Feature & Follow Friday (#10)

Gain new followers and make new friends with the Book Blogger Feature & Follow! If this is your first time here, welcome! You are about to make some new friends and gain new followers -- but you have to know -- the point of this hop is to follow other bloggers also. I follow you, you follow me.

Feature & Follow is hosted by Parajunkee of Parajunkee's View and Alison of Alison Can Read.  Each host will have their own Feature Blog and this way it’ll allow us to show off more new blogs!

Question of the Week: What book do you think everyone should read?  If you could gift the entire population with one book?

A:  I have to say Harry Potter.  And obviously I mean all seven (though my favorites are Prisoner of Azkaban and Order of the Phoenix).  I recommend to everyone on Earth to get a bit lost in the world of those books.

Now for the follow fun!

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Review: Renegade by J. A. Soulders

Since the age of three, sixteen-year-old Evelyn Winters has been trained to be Daughter of the People in the underwater utopia known as Elysium. Selected from hundreds of children for her ideal genes, all her life she’s thought that everything was perfect; her world. Her people. The Law.

But when Gavin Hunter, a Surface Dweller, accidentally stumbles into their secluded little world, she’s forced to come to a startling realization: everything she knows is a lie.


Her memories have been altered.

Her mind and body aren’t under her own control.

And the person she knows as Mother is a monster.

Together with Gavin she plans her escape, only to learn that her own mind is a ticking time bomb... and Mother has one last secret that will destroy them all.

Hardcover, 364 pages
Published November 13th 2012 by Tor Teen

(info bomb grabbed from GoodReads)
Renegade is a great new addition to the YA dystopian genre.  Lately I had been feeling that most dystopian novels were just redoing ideas that had been done before, but I didn’t feel that way with Renegade at all.  It was not quite like anything I've read yet, but still had all the right points that make dystopian one of my favorite genres to read; it is exciting, it is creepy, and it made me question humanity.  It also kind of reminds Bioshock for Xbox 360 -- and by “kind-of-reminds-me,” I really mean Renegade could have been a prequel to the game.  They both take place in an underwater society, have little girl assassins, and a bunch of other things that might be spoilers for the book.

Renegade pulls you right into the shoes of Evelyn, daughter of the people in the underwater world of Elysium with the reader waking up in her princess bed and going about her princess duties.  Even in those mundane morning activities, the reader is already going “What…?” with the crazy eyes.  I, for one, absolutely love pulling my hair out and screaming "WHAT IS GOING ON???" at books.  LOVE.  IT.  And that happened a lot with Renegade and really formed a layer of creeptastic-ness all over Evelyn's home of Elysium.  It wasn't messy -- it was deliberate and planned and amazing.  Basically, if normal books have plot twists, Renegade was a plot contortionist.

There are a few things I would say negatively about Renegade, and one is that it was very tell and not show.  Even so, it was well done and not an issue -- just something I noticed.  I still had a clear picture of everything that was going on, it just could have been a little better.  Showing vs. telling paints a picture in the readers mind rather than explicitly telling the reader exactly what is going on.  It's the difference between: The sun beat down on me and sweat began to trickle down my cheek vs. It was hot.  That's an extreme example, and Renegade was definitely not anywhere near the craptasticness of my second sentence.

The only other criticism was that it felt like the characters were reacting and reacting and new situation and reaction... and it made me tired.  It got a little old, and thus I lost some steam at the end of the novel, much to my own dismay.  Because other than that, Renegade was one of the most fun books I have read all year.  I highly recommend it to anyone who loves dystopian and/or sci-fi, or books that mess with your head a bit.

I think I may have a panic attack if I hear Under the Sea from The Little Mermaid.

Final Thought: 18 out of 20 toadstools

This review is also posted on GoodReads

I’m going to continue my little video game plug here: if you read Renegade and liked it, I highly recommend playing Bioshock.  Even if you don’t like video games (or think you don’t like video games), borrow your brother’s Xbox 360 and humor me.  I would find it hard to believe if the author was not inspired by this game since they have so much in common.  Also, Bioshock is one of many games where the story is just as important as the game play, proving that video games are becoming another type of storytelling media. 

Saturday, December 22, 2012

TEotWaWKI Tour Stop!

Tour Sign Ups: The End of the World as We Know It by Iva Marie Palmer

Oh good, the world didn't end yesterday!  YAY!  The End of the World as We Know It will be referred to as TEotWaWKI from here on out. 

Review Time, but first a blurb:
They wanted to party like it was their last night on earth. They just might get their wish….

Meet the four most unlikely heroes ever:

Teena McAuley: Queen Bee, first-class problem solver, resident heartbreaker.

Leo Starnick: UFO conspirator, pizza delivery boy, all-around slacker.

Evan Brighton: Baseball all-star, extreme virgin, Teena-worshipper.

Sarabeth Lewis: Straight-A student, weekend hermit, enemy of the color pink.

When Teena locks Leo, Evan, and Sarabeth in the basement during her biggest party of the year, she doesn’t plan on getting trapped in the Loser Dungeon herself. She can barely imagine a night with these dweebs—let alone a lifetime. But when an alien invasion destroys their entire Midwestern suburb, it looks like these unlikely friends are the last people on earth. Now, it’s up to them to save the world….
 Published July 17th 2012 by Alloy Entertainment

On the surface, TEotWaWKI seems like a mash up of a lot of stories that have been done and redone.  We have a group of teens who wouldn’t normally be seen with each other thrown together in to faceoff with invading aliens.  So basically, The Breakfast Club meets The War of the Worlds.  To me, just that combination was intriguing and had me interested, but I was honestly surprised by how much I grew to love this book.  I thought it was brilliant how the author took two very different ideas, threw them together and created something that was completely her own.  

The book was in a lot of ways a demonstration on how extreme circumstances can lead to character transformations.  What first appeared to be shallow and selfish characters turn into a team full of depth that grow to genuinely care about each other.  At the beginning we are introduced to these characters that appear to be simple archetypes: the Queen Bee, the smart girl, the stoner, and the jock.  I thought it was really interesting how the author played with the archetypes and gradually added layers to each character.  But it wasn’t just the reader who these layers were being exposed to; it was also the other characters.  Each character discovered not only things about themselves, but also depth to each other that they never knew was there. 

What I was surprised by was how by the end of the book, I found some characters endearing where at the beginning I loved to hate them.  Teena in particular, who is our resident Queen Bee, starts out very typical: self-absorbed, catty, and mean.  Not a nice girl.  However, it’s not that she makes a 180 with her character; it’s that you start to see her from a different perspective and form sympathy for her because you begin to know her as a person and not as a simple archetype.  This also happens with the other characters in their own way.

Is TEotWaWKI a realistic interpretation of an alien invasion?  Who knows!  What seems to be the overall point is that we don’t know who we are going to be in extreme circumstances.  So who is to say that a group of teenagers thrown together from a party mishap couldn’t save their town from an alien invasion?  I personally loved the message and how it was humorously explored, but I wouldn’t recommend it for everyone.  Drugs and sex are casually talked about in the book, along with some swearing.  I didn’t think it was gratuitous, but if you’re sensitive to those things, I thought you might want a heads up.

Final Thought: 4 out of 5 toadstools

This review is also posted on GoodReads

But no, there's more goodies:

Top Ten Books You Should Read Before the End of the World by Iva-Marie Palmer

So, when I initially set out to write my top ten for Where the Mome Raths Outgrabe, I had in my mixed-up head that it was to be a list of my favorite books. Which freaked me out a little because I feel like choosing a limited number of favorite books is like choosing which body parts I’d most like to lose. (Yes, I’m alluding a Neil Gaiman quote.) But really, my Top Ten Books You Should Read Before the End of the World is a little different than that, no? With this list, I want to share some must-read books that might be new to some of you, I hope.  Nine are not-YA picks and one is a YA that I feel was somewhat under-read. I think they’re all good to have under your belt should the world bite it. (And yes, I know it didn’t happen yesterday or anything, but one never knows, really.)

I hope you find something new to check out, and in turn know that I’m always scouting book recs so please friend me on GoodReads and recommend away!

American Gods – If you haven’t read Neil Gaiman yet, it’s time you did. In this book, I felt like he exposed the cracks in the world and found magic in them. 

The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banks by E. Lockhart – I feel like I need to tell everyone I know about this book because I don’t feel like it blew up in the YA world the way it should have. Frankie’s not just a girl, she’s the girl. This has an awesome feminist, girl power message without seeming at all preachy. 

The Secret History by Donna Tartt – Even though I’d read other adult books before this one, this was the first book I read that made me feel like a grown-up. There’s something so seductive about Tartt’s storytelling. It seeps right into your blood. Okay, now I want to read this one again.

L.A. Confidential by James Ellroy – World-building is a skill attributed to fantasy and sci-fi writers, but I don’t understand why James Ellroy doesn’t get credit for being excellent at it, as well. No one does grimy, gritty, old Los Angeles quite the way he does, and you feel like you’re part of the action when you read him.

The Art of Fielding by Chad Harbach – I read this this year, and yes, it’s a bestseller, but it might not be a natural pick-up for YA fans. But you should pick it up, because Harbach is amazing at his craft. Every character matters. Every word matters. But the cool thing is, Harbach’s so skilled he doesn’t draw attention to how much it all matters, which is something only the best writers manage.

Vurt/Pollen by Jeff Noon – I am making clear how old I am, but I read these books right when the Internet was becoming a thing, and they’ve stuck with me. Really great science fiction makes us think not just about the future, but where we are now, and Vurt and its companion, Pollen – about the blurred lines between reality and virtual reality do just that. 

Automated Alice by Jeff Noon – A lot of people try to retell Alice in Wonderland (one of my favorite books), but Noon does it best, I think. In his version of things, Alice travels to the future (which, since this book is older, is now the past: 1998, to be exact.) I like digging this one up to reread every now and again. (Momo, I think you’ll like it, too.)

A Long Way Down by Nick Hornby – Four people show up on the same rooftop on New Year’s Eve all with the same idea: To jump off. Sounds cheery, right? Told in alternating points of view, something I’ve been wont to do in my writing (and in End of the World), every character feels unique and important. Plus, reading this makes me think Nick Hronby has as many voices in his head as I do.

The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood – Atwood was doing dystopian YA before that was even a thing. I’m forever grateful to the hip sociology instructor who assigned this to me. If you haven’t read it, do so soon. 

Great Expectations by Charles Dickens – This one is on here for me. I confess to never having read it but I always keep meaning to. Supposed to be a stellar example of first-person storytelling (my favorite, often), I’m putting this on my 2013 to-read list. Hold me to it.

Iva-Marie Palmer is the author of The End of the World as We Know It, a sci-fi action comedy from Alloy Entertainment (creators of Pretty Little Liars, Gossip Girl, The Vampire Diaries).  Find her online on Twitter (@ivamarie), on Facebook ( and at her website (
Palmer lives in Los Angeles with her husband and son and lots of (filled) bookshelves.

The books are each linked for easy GoodReads access!  Go forth and read!  I think it's a stellar list and am definitely adding them to my TBR pile (especially Automated Alice -- I think I'll like it too).  Think the Iva-Marie Palmer seems pretty cool?  Stalk her by checking out these links:

Iva-Marie Palmer's Website
Author's Facebook
Goodreads Author Page

These links are for TEotWaWKI:

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Review: Dangerous Boy by Mandy Hubbard

A modern-day retelling of The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde with a chilling twist

Harper has never been worried about falling in love, something she is skeptical even exists. But everything changes when Logan moves to town, and to Harper's shock, the two tumble into an intense romance. It's everything she never thought she wanted.

Then she meets Logan's twin brother, Caleb, who was expelled from his last school. True, he's a bad boy, but Harper can't shake the feeling that there's something deeply sinister about him--something dangerous. When Logan starts pulling away, Harper is convinced that Caleb's shadowy past is the wedge being driven between them. But by the time she uncovers the truth, it may be too late.

262 pages, Hardcover
Published September 4th 2012 by Razorbill

(info grabbed from GoodReads)

I wanted so much more than I got out of Dangerous Boy.  I found it kind of shallow and predictable.  BUT I WANTED TO LIKE IT SO MUCH.  Hmph.  I’m going to pout like a child for a few minutes.

*a few minutes*

And we’re back.  I’ve never read The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, but I am betting that Dangerous Boy was only a loose retelling of the original, meaning that it only held onto the main idea of what Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde were.  I think most people know the main plot point of the Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, but if you don’t maybe you would enjoy the book more than I did.  I, however, was familiar with the storyline so the plot twist at the end of Dangerous Boy was over before it began.  Knowing this, I was still interested in how the book would tell the story in the modern world, which is why I read it.  Looking at it from that angle, I wasn’t incredibly wowed.

Like the original book, the story did not follow the Dr. Jekyll character directly with the original being told from an investigator/friend’s perspective.  Dangerous Boy was told following Harper, a cautious girl who has recently started dating the mysterious new boy in town.  I liked Harper and her scared-y cat tendencies -- I could relate as I am also a bit terrified of everything.  She wasn't a weak character, just not willing to partake in activities that put her life in danger.  But I felt that with starting the book off with them already dating, you lost a bit of the intrigue and chemistry that happened when characters meet for the first time.  This was one of that main ways the story deviated from the original, so I thought it would have been played up a little more than it was.  I didn’t feel as attached to their relationship as maybe I should have and wanted to.

I did like that the story is taken out of Victorian London and into rural-ish Washington.  Our heroine actually lives on a dairy farm, with most of her friends also living/working on ranches and other farms.  I thought that was very cool and brought in a lot of originality for a retelling.  

In regards to how the author tied the paranormal elements of the original into the modern world and into teenagers, I was really disappointed.  Obviously Dr. Jekyll was a doctor, and you can’t have a teenage doctor (or can you?) but I really didn’t like the twist on the original twist of the ending -- it felt cheapened.  I was expecting more, but I think a lot of retellings of classic novels fall into that trap of not living up to the expectations of readers.   

So, if you are completely unfamiliar with the original The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, I recommend this book full heartedly.  It was lighter than I was expecting, considering the subject matter, but it was still a good and enjoyable read.  If you’re familiar with the original and are looking for something that will pick your brain a little more, Dangerous Boy may not be for you.  It may also not be for you if you don’t think you want to have to explain the title to anyone who happens to see you reading it.  I have never gotten more questions about what I was reading before this book.

Final Thought: 9 out of 16 toadstools

This review is also on GoodReads