Thursday, July 26, 2012

Dorothea Benton Frank at Clinton Book Shop!

Alison and Dorothea Benton Frank

Bestselling author Dorothea Benton Frank brought a little bit of the South Carolina Lowcountry to New Jersey on July 10th when she visited Clinton Book Shop to discuss her new book, Porch Lights

Readers came early to get a good seat where they could cozy up to the author and casually talk with her for a few minutes prior to her presentation.  One reader traveled all the way from Baltimore, MD and another from Philadelphia, just to meet Dorothea, whose friends call her Dottie.  Many of the readers that stopped by the bookstore were avid fans, and spent some time chatting about their favorite books, characters, and Lowcountry locales that are sprinkled throughout Frank's collection of novels. 

Readers in attendance were also privy to a few insider secrets about big things on the horizon for Dottie and her books!  Mum's the word, though, as promised!

Porch Lights is the story of Jackie, an Army nurse, who returns to her mother's home on Sullivan's Island after tragically losing her firefighter husband.  Jackie and her 11 year old son, Charlie, need this summer to heal their broken hearts before returning to Brooklyn in the fall. The mother and daughter relationship had always been strained, but Jackie and Annie need each other now more than ever.  Readers will laugh and cry as they witness this healing of new and old wounds.

Like all of her other novels, Porch Lights is set in the Low Country of South Carolina, where Ms. Frank was born and raised before meeting her husband and settling in New Jersey. Even though she  is extensively involved in the arts and education here in New Jersey, Dottie looks forward to the day she will rejoin her family in South Carolina.  In the meantime, New Jersey is happy to have her!

Clinton Book Shop sold out of Front Porch at their event on July 10th, but had plenty of Dorthea Benton Frank's backlist books on hand for the author to sign, including Sullivans Island (William Morrow, 2009), Isle of Palms (Berkley, 2003), and Full of Grace (William Morrow, 2006).  Clinton Book Shop is expecting more copies of this wonderful novel to come in shortly, and pre-orders are always welcome.  Clinton Book Shop is located at 12 East Main Street, Clinton, NJ 08809.  www.clintonbookshop.com.



I have a special copy of Sullivans Island, signed by Dorothea Benton Frank.  To enter, simply enter the form below.  (US Residents only, no PO Boxes please).  As always, if the form does not work feel free to comment below to enter.



Monday, July 23, 2012

Author Love



There is drama around the internets lately.  I'm not going to get into the whats, whos and whys.  It's all so petty, and I really hope it ends quickly and with as few casualties as possible.  Instead of throwing mud, pointing fingers and getting sucked in to the vortex of drama, I wanted to spread a little joy this morning.  I thought it was time to show a little AUTHOR LOVE.

What this drama has made me realize, is how lucky I am to do what I do in my little corner of the blogoverse.  I keep my head down, I read, and I chat about books.  My readers allow me to do this, because you guys love books like I do.  Publishers and book publicists help me feed my addiction to the written word by sending me brilliant books.   I have also found a solid group of book blogger friends, for which I am also extremely thankful - not a drama queen to be found in that group! 

Do you want to know my favorite perk of doing what I do?  The authors!  Oh, yes, those rock stars of literature!  Sometimes I get to chat with authors, whether it be over e-mail, at a signing event, launch party, or through an introduction made by their publisher at and industry event like BEA (Book Expo America).  Every once in a while I will have a special exchange with an author, and the author and his/her work will hold a special place in my heart forever.  It's one thing to read a book that moves me, that's special enough, but said book takes on an entirely new level of meaning when I get the opportunity to meet or talk to the author behind the work. 

I am so lucky that I have the chance to talk with authors.  Not for a single minute do I take that for granted.  I wanted to take this opportunity to give a little extra author love to those authors who have so generously trusted me with their work, who have taken the extra minute to answer my questions, who are patient with me, who respect my opinion, who remember my name, who treat me as a professional, who understand my snark, and who inspire me to want to be a writer.

Thank you, thank you, thank you....

Kristina McMorris, Lauren Belfer, Adriana Trigiani, James Dashner, Amy King, Mike MullinJulie Kagawa, Dorothea Benton Frank, Kathy Riechs, Karin Slaughter, Markus Zusak, Audrey Niffenegger, Lisa Mangum, Carlos Ruiz Zafon, Jeffrey Ford, Brett Battles, Pat Conroy, EL Dotorow, Elin Hilderbrand, Valerie Martin, Janet Evanovich, James Patterson, Kathryn Stockett, Phillip Done, Amanda Grange, Kaleb Nation, Allison Leotta, Margarett Atwood, Jeanette Walls, RL Stine, Maggie Stiefvater, JK Rowling, Stuart Neville, Jordan Christy, Rebecca Stead, John C. Maxwell, Malcom Gladwell, Josh Bazell, David Baldacci, Barbara Hamilton, JM Coetzee, Elizabeth Strout, Neil Gaiman, Matt Bellace, Chris Wooding, Christopher Healy, Katrina Kenison, Tatiana deRosnay, Alyson Noel, Kristen Cast, PC Cast, Amy Briggs, James Dalton, Kate Jacobs, Elizabeth Kostova, D. Charles Wilson, Nicholas Sparks, Amy Huntley, Richard Doetsch, Kimberla Lawson Roby, Sioban Vivian, Kate Braestrup, Carolyn MacCullough, Rachel Hawkins,  Seth Grahame-Smith, Steve Hockensmith, Garth Stein, Francisco X. Stork, Mary Ann Shaffer, Annie Barrows, Joshua Ferris, Alice Sebold, Jeff Kinney, Jon Sciescka, Tom Angleberger, Wendy Holden, Susie Day, Lauren Kate, Sarah Addison Allen, Emily Giffin, Mark St. Germain, Alice Hoffman, Pete Nelson,  Josh Berk, Cassandra Clare, Dan Simmons, Carol Plum-Ucci, Stephenie Meyer, Michael Codgill, Alina Bronsky, David Cristofano, Eleanor Catton, Andrew Clements, Carl Hiassen, Becca Fitzpatrick, Cristoph Neimann, Chris Cleve, Mo Willems, Lauren Oliver, Maureen Johnson, Catherine Fisher, Kristen Clark Venuti, Chevy Stevens, Susan Gal, Tad Hills, Kimberly Derting, Alex Evanovich, Philippa Gregory, Sarah Blake, Kirsten Miller, Heather Brewer, Yannick D. Murphy, Lisa McClatchy, Suzanne Collins, Artie Bennett, Dan Bonner, Brenna Yovanoff, Chuck Murphy, Kami Garcia, Margaret Stohl, Sara Shepard, Nelson DeMille, Allen Kurzwell, Beth Kephart, Elizabeth Kostova, Wendy Delsol, Ally Condie, David Small, Doug Bratton, Grace Lin, Louise Yates, Emma Donoghue, Sharon Dogar, David Wiesner, Beth Pattillo, Adele Grifin, Lisa Brown, Bree Despain, Bob Buyea, Andy Mulligan, Kate DiCamillo, Lani Woodland, Jennifer Connelly, Bruce DeSilva, Elena Mauli Shapiro, Charlaine Harris, Jessica Anya Blau, Joe Hill, Tim Dorsey, Kate White, Eleanor Brown, Charles Todd, Steve Hockensmith, Meg Waite Clayton, Linda Wisdom, Danielle Trussoni, Randy Susan Meyers, Molly Peacock, Melissa de la Cruz, Tina Fey, Siobhan Fallon, Nayana Currimbhoy, Erin Morgenstern, Ellen Feldman, Tawna Fenske, Laura Moriarty, Kate Atkinson, Beth McMullen, Glen Duncan, Sam Wasson, Bobby Flay, Susana Fortes, Isaac Marion, Ernest Cline, Laura Hilderbrand, Catherine Fisher, Kiersten White, Jordan Sonnenblick, Nick Hornby, Alissa Grosso, Lauren Oliver, Meg Cabot, Jay Asher, Tessa Gratton, Laini Taylor, Marie Lu, Carolyn Macker, Andrea Cremer, Libba Bray, Patrick Ness, Ingrid Law, Brian Selznick, Louis Sachar, J.M. Kozlowsky, Mini Grey, Diane Kredensor, Kevin Hawkes, Charlotte Bennardo, Natalie Zaman, Jamie Ford, Nancy Bilyeau, Sue Monk Kidd, George R. R. Martin, Chad Harbach, Carrie Fisher, Deborah Harkness, Rob Lowe, Susie Maloney, Jenny Lawson, Amy Beth Arkaway, Chris Pavone, Jeanne Ray, Vince Flynn, Karen Thompson Walker, Nichole Bernier, W. Bruce Cameron, William Landay, Rachel Joyce, Gillian Flynn, Moira Young, Lauren Myracle, Beth Revis, Veronica Roth, John Green, Jeff Hirsch, Sharon Draper, Chris Rylander, Madeleine L'Engle, R.J. Palacio, Kate Bernheimer, Jarrett Krosoczka, Beth Gutcheon, Linda Yellin, David A. Kelly, Maxwell Eaton III, Liza Klaussmann, Chris Alexander, David R. Gillham, Penny Warner, Michael Grant, Caroline Taggart, Joanna Trollope, Michael Buckley, Lisa Tucker, Pam Jenoff, Sandra Brannan, E. Duke Vincent, Adele Griffin, Erik Larson, Joshilyn Jackson, Markus Zusak, Michael Chabon, Kathleen Sharp, Natasha Solomons, Joyce Maynard, Katie Crouch, Tony DiTerlizzi, Wiley Cash, Jennifer Solow, Wayne Josephson, Ilsa J. Bick, Christopher Wakling, Andrew Gross, Kate Mess Locke, Maryann McFadden, Vaddey Ratner, Michael Ennis, Erika Robuck, Emma Straub, Penny Vincenzi, Brandon Mull, Alma Katsu, Will Schwalbe, Maria Semple, PJ Tracy, Barbara Kingsolver, Jessica Khoury, Jussi Adler-Olsen, Lee Woodruff, Bill Roorbach, Emily McKay, Amy Sohn, Kevin Powers, Maile Meloy , Jami Attenberg, Ellis Weiner, Kazu Kibuishi, Tommy Greenwald, Kurtis Scaletta, Melanie Gideon, Chrisopher Holt, Eloisa James, Margot Livesey, Elizabeth Haynes, James Rollins, Jennifer Weiner, Charles Duhigg, Phil Stutz, Barry Michels,  ...etc. etc.


Someday I wish to publish my own book.  I have seen enough in this industry to know who would make up my dream editors, publishers, and publicity team.  I have also learned how to handle press (both good and bad) with grace from the examples of the authors listed above.  The authors in bold are those who have made a special mark on me, whether they realize it or not - a little extra patience, a personal note, remembering my name on the stairway at BEA, sharing a laugh at a silly moment, taking an extra moment out of their day to say thanks, and showing me that success and humility are not exclusive of one another.

Thank you!!

Mailbox Monday

Mailbox Monday is a weekly meme where bloggers come together to share the books they receive for review, buy from bookstores and book fairs, and borrow from the library. Mailbox Monday is on tour and is currently hosted by Mrs. Q. Book Addict.

Since I buy, borrow and recieve books for review across all age groups and genres, I thought it might be a good idea to break up my kids' books (Middle Grade through Young Adult) and my Adult books. This, my friends, is where you will find my adult books. Find my MG and YA books on Sundays at In My Mailbox.

THE PRISONER OF HEAVEN: A Novel By Carlos Ruiz Zafon (Harper Collins; July 10, 2012; Hardcover; 288 pgs)
The internationally acclaimed New York Times bestselling author Carlos Ruiz Zafon takes us into a dark, gothic Barcelona and creates a rich, labyrinthine tale of love, literature, passion, and revenge in which the heroes of The Shadow of the Wind and The Angel's Game must contend with a nemesis that threatens to destroy them.




THE RECKONING (Book 2 of The Taker Trilogy) by Alma Katsu (Gallery Books; June 19, 2012; Hardcover; 352 pgs)
Now Alma Katsu delivers the highly anticipated follow-up to her haunting novel about an immortal woman learning firsthand that the heart wants what the heart wants...no matter how high the stakes. Fans of "The Taker" can finally indulge in their next juicy fix with the second book of the trilogy, "The Reckoning." In this gripping, pulse-pounding supernatural sequel, discover what happens to Lanny, Luke, Adair--and Jonathan. "The Reckoning" picks up where "The Taker" leaves off, following Lanny on her path to redemption--and creating a whole new level of suspense.

CHARLOTTE MARKHAM AND THE HOUSE OF DARKLING: A NOVEL by Michael Boccacino  (William Morrow; July 24, 2012; Paperback; 320 pgs)
Debut novelist Michael Boccacino invites readers into the world beyond the realm of the living in Charlotte Markham and the House of Darkling, a Victorian gothic tale of the strange and supernatural. But all who enter this house must beware--for there is a price to pay for visitors who wish to save those they love. The story of a British governess and her young charges seduced by the otherworldly enticements of a mysterious mansion in the forest following the inexplicable death of the former nanny, this Tim Burton-like tale of dark fantasy is a bewitching treat for fans of horror and paranormal fiction, as well as readers who love creepy gothic tales and mysterious shadowy English manor houses. Not since Suzanna Clarke introduced Jonathan Strange to Mr. Norrell, and Neil Gaiman's Coraline crawled through a secret door into a twisted and sinister mirror world, has there been a journey as wondrously fantastic and terrifying as Charlotte Markham's adventures in the House of Darkling.

THE DARK MONK (A Hangman's Daughter Tale) by Oliver Potzsch (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt; June 12, 2012; Paperback; 512 pgs; Audio)
Delivering on the promise of the international bestseller The Hangman’s Daughter, once again based on prodigious historical research into Pötzsch’s family tree, The Dark Monk takes us on a whirlwind tour through the occult hiding places of Bavaria’s ancient monasteries, bringing to life an unforgettable compassionate hangman and his tenacious daughter, painting a robust tableau of a seventeenth-century Bavaria still negotiating the lasting impacts of war, and quickening our pulses with a gripping, mesmerizing mystery.

ANGRY BIRDS SPACE: A Furious Flight Into The Final Frontier by Amy Briggs (National Geographic; March 20, 2012; Paperback; 160 pgs)
Blast off with the Angry Birds as they fly through space on an intergalactic rescue mission! Evil space piggies have stolen their eggs and are hiding them somewhere in outer space. To save them, the Angry Birds have teamed up with National Geographic to learn all they can about planets, moons, stars, galaxies, and the mysteries of the universe. Four chapters take the readers deeper and deeper into space—each one packed with Angry Birds, astounding space photography, and fascinating "Astrofacts" and "Space Data" features that surprise and enthrall. Join the birds as they observe robots on Mars, take a spin with the Jupiter's Great Red Spot, visit where stars are born in galaxies far, far away, and look for life on strange new worlds. This official companion book to the Angry Birds Space game shows the furious fliers everything they'll need to know on their quest to explore the galaxy and rescue their precious eggs.


Sunday, July 22, 2012

In My Mailbox


In My Mailbox is a weekly meme hosted by The Story Siren, where bloggers come together to share what is showing up in our mailboxes, in our library totes, and in our shopping bags. Since The Story Siren is a YA blogger, I am going to feature YA and MG books on this meme. There is another Meme that I will start doing every so often on Mondays called Mailbox Monday, cool? Excellent!


SERAPHINA by Rachel Hartman (Random House Children's; July 10, 2012; Hardcover; 467 pgs; Ages 12+)
Four decades of peace have done little to ease the mistrust between humans and dragons in the kingdom of Goredd. Folding themselves into human shape, dragons attend court as ambassadors, and lend their rational, mathematical minds to universities as scholars and teachers. As the treaty's anniversary draws near, however, tensions are high.

Seraphina Dombegh has reason to fear both sides. An unusually gifted musician, she joins the court just as a member of the royal family is murdered—in suspiciously draconian fashion. Seraphina is drawn into the investigation, partnering with the captain of the Queen's Guard, the dangerously perceptive Prince Lucian Kiggs. While they begin to uncover hints of a sinister plot to destroy the peace, Seraphina struggles to protect her own secret, the secret behind her musical gift, one so terrible that its discovery could mean her very life.




INTRINSICAL (The Yara Silva Trilogy #1) by Lani Woodland (Pendrell Publishing; August 2010; Paperback; 304 pgs; YA)
Sixteen-year-old Yara Silva has always known that ghosts walk alongside the living. Her grandma, like the other females in her family, is a Waker, someone who can see and communicate with ghosts. Yara grew up watching her grandmother taunted and scorned for this unusual ability and doesn't want that to be her future. She has been dreading the day when she too would see ghosts, and is relieved that the usually dominant Waker gene seems to have skipped her, letting her live a normal teenage life. However, all that changes for Yara on her first day at her elite boarding school when she discovers the gene was only lying dormant. She witnesses a dark mist attack Brent, a handsome fellow student, and rushes to his rescue. Her act of heroism draws the mist's attention, and the dark spirit begins stalking her. Yara finds herself entrenched in a sixty-year-old curse that haunts the school, threatening not only her life, but the lives of her closest friends as well. Yara soon realizes that the past she was trying to put behind her isn't going to go quietly.

STAR WARS ORIGAMI by Chris Alexander
(Workman; August 7, 2012; 272 pgs)
Kids love origami—and what could be cooler than transforming a piece of paper into Boba Fett, Princess Leia, Yoda, or R2-D2? And not just any paper, but custom-designed paper illustrated with art from the movies. Star Wars® Origami marries the fun of paper folding with the obsession of Star Wars. Like The Joy of Origami and Origami on the Go, this book puts an original spin on an ancient art. And like Star Wars® Scanimation® and Star Wars® Fandex®, it’s a fresh take on Star Wars mania.

Chris Alexander is a master folder and founder of the popular website StarWarsOrigami.com, and here are 36 models, clearly explained, that range in difficulty from Youngling (easy) to Padawan (medium), Jedi Knight (difficult), and Jedi Master (tricky!). A front section introduces origami definitions and basic folds. Bound in the back is the book’s unique folding paper, two sheets for each figure. Illustrated with original art, it makes each creation—the essential lightsabers, the Death Star, and much more—true to the movies.

Star Wars Origami includes a foreword by Tom Angleberger, author of the New York Times bestsellers The Strange Case of Origami Yoda and Darth Paper Strikes Back, and is scheduled to be published at the same time as Angleberger’s upcoming book, The Secret of the Fortune Wookie.

Saturday, July 21, 2012

Star Wars Reads Day is Coming - October 6, 2012

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Audio Giveaway: CRIMINAL by Karin Slaughter



Below is an excerpt from Karin Slaughter's CRIMINAL, which I reviewed earlier this week HERE.


Thanks to AudioGO, I am thrilled to offer one copy of either a CD or dropcard for a digital download of

 CRIMINAL (Will Trent #7) by Karin Slaughter.

All you have to do is enter your info into the simple form below.
Open only to residents of US
No PO Boxes (CD entries)
Contest Ends August 3, 2012

Look Like Hemingway?



 If you think you look like Papa himself, head on over to Key West, Florida to a bar called Sloppy Joe's for their annual Papa Look-Alike Contest.  Below is courtesy of Sloppy Joe's.

The Papa Look-Alike Contest
Sloppy Joe's Bar in Key West will host its 32nd Annual Hemingway Look-Alike contest July 19-21, 2012. The contest is one of many events in Key West to celebrate the birthday of Ernest Hemingway and honor his work as author and sportsman.
The competition starts with the first preliminary round on Thursday, July 19, second preliminary round on Friday, July 20, and finals on Saturday, July 21.
From each preliminary round finalists are chosen. Last year's competition had 121 Look-Alikes taking the stage with 12 contestants from Thursday night preliminary and 15 from Friday night preliminary going on to the final round.
Look-Alikes are everywhere, it's a load of fun! Come early, get a good seat and watch the competition.
After the finals, the party spills over into the streets, where the Street Fair on Duval continues with food, drinks, entertainment and fun for everyone!
The infamous Hemingway Look-Alike Society invites you to join the Society. They will be at Sloppy Joe's to sign-up new members.

SLOPPY JOE'S 201 DUVAL ST, KEY WEST, FL 33040

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Review: Criminal (Will Trent #7) by Karin Slaughter

Karin Slaughter at her best...and most disturbing. (I mean that in a good way)

I could not help but compare CRIMINAL to the work of Thomas Harris (Red Dragon, Silence of the Lambs), bringing readers a suspenseful and brutal story of a serial killer that spans decades.

The story straddles two time periods.  The first, present day, is just a few weeks after the conclusion of Karin Slaughter's FALLEN. The story starts with Will Trent actually allowing himself to be happy in his work and his relationship with Sarah, even though his past still weighs on him.  Never has his past caught up with him so much as when a college student goes missing and Amanda purposefully, and ineffectively, tries to keep Will as far away from the case as possible.  Little does he know that this case is linked to another from nearly forty years ago.

Slaughter pulls back another layer of Will Trent's complex character and brings readers back in time to where it all began.  1974.  The summer Will was born.  Atlanta, Georgia.  Amanda and Evelyn take on their very first case together, despite the sexual harassment and upper management interference within the Atlanta Police Department.  Dead girls, horrifically abused prior to their deaths, and no easy leads. 

In addition to the intertwined characters of past and present, readers learn about Will's parents and that Amanda's involvement in his career was no accident.

I thought Slaughter's flashbacks to the 70s were a brilliant way to build this story, and bring these characters full circle. My heart literally pounded at certain points in the book, but I would be lying if I said CRIMINAL didn't give me nightmares. (I'm a little afraid of you now, Karin!) Some of the details of the crimes, sexual content, and graphic drug use were too much for me.  If I weren't listening to the audio, I'm afraid I would have skipped over passages of the book. My comparison to Thomas Harris was not just writing style, or character-building, but it was also the twisted minds of their respective criminals.  I read Harris back in high school, back when I had a stomach for slasher movies, roller coasters, and suspense novels like this one.  I am stronger now than I thought, and found myself completely wrapped up in CRIMINAL.

Not only did I obsessively listen to this audiobook throughout the weekend, I thought this book was more interesting and even more thrilling than FALLEN.  I still have some catching up to do on the Will Trent series, but for any fans of Karin Slaughter, thrillers, or psychological suspense, don't miss this one.

A Note On The Audio:  Kathleen Early narrated the audio for CRIMINAL by AudioGO.  At first, I found her voice to be a bit too dreamy and ill-fitting for a horror/suspense novel like this one; however, as the minutes and hours pressed on, I grew used to her voice and really appreciated her matter-of-fact tone when she described some of the more horrific scenes. 

I had the pleasure of meeting Karin Slaughter at the Random House Power Reader Breakfast during BEA (Book Expo America) Week. She was one of the coolest people I met that week, and had a great time chatting with her.

Author Karin Slaughter and Alison of Alison's Book Marks

Many thanks to AudioGO for being so patient with my technical difficulties last week!  We did it!

Book Extras:
Karin Slaughter website
Random House book page (excerpts, readers guide, trailer video, etc.)
Add CRIMINAL to Goodreads

About the AudioBook:

  • Audio CD
  • Publisher: AudioGo; Unabridged edition (July 10, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1609982932
  • ISBN-13: 978-1609982935

  • About the Book:

  • Hardcover: 448 pages
  • Publisher: Delacorte Press (July 3, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0345528506
  • ISBN-13: 978-0345528506

  • About the Author:
    Karin Slaughter is the #1 internationally bestselling author of several novels, including the Grant County series. A long-time resident of Atlanta, she splits her time between the kitchen and the living room.





    Visit the other blogs on the CRIMINAL Audio Tour:

    Monday, July 9: Literate Housewife (http://literatehousewife.com/)
    Tuesday, July 10: Teresa’s Reading Corner (http://teresasreadingcorner.com/)
    Thursday, July 12: Book Addict Reviews (http://bookaddictreviews.blogspot.com/)
    Friday, July 13: In Real Life (http://www.erin-faye.com/)
    Monday, July 16: Geeky Blogger’s Book Blog (http://www.geekybloggersbookblog.com/)
    Tuesday, July 17: You’ve GOTTA Read This! (http://sandynawrot.blogspot.com/)
    Wednesday, July 18: Alison’s Book Marks (http://www.alisonsbookmarks.com/)
    Thursday, July 19: Jen’s Book Thoughts (http://www.jensbookthoughts.com/)

    Friday, July 13, 2012

    Review: The Eleventh Plague by Jeff Hirsch

    A solid, character driven YA dystopian novel.

    Synopsis:
    In an America devastated by war and plague, the only way to survive is to keep moving.

    In the aftermath of a war, America’s landscape has been ravaged and two-thirds of the population left dead from a vicious strain of influenza. Fifteen-year-old Stephen Quinn and his family were among the few that survived and became salvagers, roaming the country in search of material to trade. But when Stephen’s grandfather dies and his father falls into a coma after an accident, Stephen finds his way to Settler’s Landing, a community that seems too good to be true. Then Stephen meets strong, defiant, mischievous Jenny, who refuses to accept things as they are. And when they play a prank that goes horribly wrong, chaos erupts, and they find themselves in the midst of a battle that will change Settler’s Landing--and their lives--forever


    The Eleventh Plague is not as brutal as some of its YA-Dystopian counterparts, which makes it much more accessible to a younger YA crowd. 

    Stephen and his father are Scavengers, constantly moving finding food and shelter where they can and scavenging for things they can trade for weapons or medical supplies.  Even though he had never seen a peaceful community before, Stephen heard of people living together in relative harmony outside the clutches of Slavers.  He comes upon Settlers Landing, one of those peaceful communities, where he witnesses school, homes, baseball and normalcy for the first time.

    Stephen suffers tremendous loss early on in the book, but when hope of a life is offered to him, I found myself nostalgic for a 1950s Americana.  A place where people said the Pledge of Allegiance, and played sand-lot baseball, before iPhones and XBox. 

    Of course, in a post-apocalyptic world, a Utopia is not easily had, nor is it as perfect as it looks on the outside.  Settlers Landing is caught up in a war with those on the outside who want to destroy it and enslave its people, as well as a war with those on the inside who have a taste of power and will hold onto it at all costs.

    In a way, this was a watered down version of some of the more graphic YA dystopian novels out there - like Blood Red Road and Ashfall - but for those of us who enjoy the raw characters that a stripped down society breeds, The Eleventh Plague was perfect. 

    AUDIO NOTE:  I listened to the audio of The Eleventh Plague, and I thought the narrator did a fine job with this.  I'm not sure I would recommend the print or audio versions over one another, though.

    I highly recommend this novel for a younger YA crowd, or those who aren't quite yet ready for cannibalism or fascist governmental control of one's lives.

    Book Extras:
    Jeff Hirsch website, Facebook, Twitter
    Add to GoodReads
    *Jeff Hirsch's next book: Magisterium (Scholastic; October 2012)

    About the Book:
  • Reading level: Ages 12 and up
  • Hardcover: 304 pages
  • Publisher: Scholastic Press; 1 edition (September 1, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0545290147
  • ISBN-13: 978-0545290142




  • Wednesday, July 11, 2012

    Review: Serpent's Kiss (A Witches of East End Novel) by Melissa De La Cruz

    Light, fun, and sexy.

    It had been a while since I read Melissa De la Cruz's first novel of this series, WITCHES OF EAST END, but have no fear!  Melissa must understand that her readers may not all have the best of memories, because she gives us the broad strokes of what happened in the first book before we move on. 

    Once caught up, magical mother, Joanna Beauchamp and her daughters, Ingrid and Freya, have three very separate conflicts in the beginning of the novel.  Freya's twin brother secretly comes home asking his sister to prove his innocence and her lover's guilt; Ingrid is falling in love with a man who doesn't believe in magic; and Joanna is caught in a love triangle between a new love interest and her husband whom she hasn't seen in a century.   Add in pixies, a dead spirit trying to make contact, and a little good old fashioned Thanksgiving mahem, you have yourself an enchanting sequel!

    In my opinion, this is a perfect series for someone who enjoys a paranormal adult series that doesn't take itself too seriously.  I read this book between two very serious and heavy tomes, and it was just what I needed. 

    Even though it's the second book of the series, one does not need to read the first one if they are too far down the waiting list in the library.  That being said, I did enjoy WITCHES OF EAST END a bit more than I did the sequel, but this is a common complaint of mine, and it doesn't take away from the fact that this is a fun series.

    Book Extras:
    My Review: Witches of East End
    E-Book Original Short story: Diary of a White Witch (A Witches of East End Prequel)
    Add to Goodreads
    Author website, Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr

    About the Book:
  • Hardcover: 336 pages
  • Publisher: Hyperion (June 12, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1401323960
  • ISBN-13: 978-1401323967

  • About the Author:
    Melissa de la Cruz is the New York Times and USA Today best-selling author of many critically acclaimed and award-winning novels for teens including The Au Pairs series, the Blue Bloods series, the Ashleys series, the Angels on Sunset Boulevard series and the semi-autobiographical novel Fresh off the Boat.

    Sunday, July 8, 2012

    In My Mailbox




    In My Mailbox is a weekly meme hosted by The Story Siren, where bloggers come together to share what is showing up in our mailboxes, in our library totes, and in our shopping bags. Since The Story Siren is a YA blogger, I am going to feature YA and MG books on this meme. There is another Meme that I will start doing every so often on Mondays called Mailbox Monday, cool?  Excellent!

     Middle Grade


    STEALING AIR by Trent Reedy (AAL/Scholastic; Sept. 1, 2012; Ages 9-12)
    You can't just ask for the chance to fly . . .
      When his dad announced they were moving to Iowa, Brian looked forward to making some new friends. But on his first day there he makes an enemy instead -- Frankie Heller, the meanest kid in town. Brian needs to hang out with someone cool to get back on track. . . .
      Alex has always been the coolest guy around, and good with money, just like his dad. But now the family is struggling, and he needs to make some cash to keep up appearances. Then an opportunity falls in his lap . . . .
      Max is a scientific genius, but his parents are always busy with their own work. Building an actual plane should get their attention -- if only he wasn't scared of heights . . .
      The answer to all three boys' problems starts with Max's secret flyer. But Frankie and the laws of popularity and physics stand in their way. Can they work together in time to get their plan AND their plane off the ground?


    INFINITY RING #1:  A MUTINY IN TIME by James Dashner (Scholastic; August 28, 2012; Ages 8-12)
     Scholastic's next multi-platform mega-event begins here!
      History is broken, and three kids must travel back in time to set it right!
    When best friends Dak Smyth and Sera Froste stumble upon the secret of time travel -- a hand-held device known as the Infinity Ring -- they're swept up in a centuries-long secret war for the fate of mankind. Recruited by the Hystorians, a secret society that dates back to Aristotle, the kids learn that history has gone disastrously off course.
      Now it's up to Dak, Sera, and teenage Hystorian-in-training Riq to travel back in time to fix the Great Breaks . . . and to save Dak's missing parents while they're at it. First stop: Spain, 1492, where a sailor named Christopher Columbus is about to be thrown overboard in a deadly mutiny


    DUMPLING DAYS by Grace Lin (Little, Brown; January 2012; Ages 9+)
    This summer, Pacy's family is going to Taiwan for an entire month to visit family and prepare for their grandmother's 60th birthday celebration. Pacy's parents have signed her up for a Chinese painting class, and at first she's excited. This is a new way to explore her art talent! But everything about the trip is harder than she thought it would be--she looks like everyone else but can't speak the language, she has trouble following the art teacher's instructions, and it's difficult to make friends in her class. At least the dumplings are delicious...


    CAPTURE THE FLAG by Kate Messner (Scholastic; July 2012; Ages 8-12)
    Three kids get caught up in an adventure of historic proportions!
      Anna, José, and Henry are complete strangers with more in common than they realize. Snowed in together at a chaotic Washington D.C. airport, they encounter a mysterious tattooed man, a flamboyant politician, and a rambunctious poodle named for an ancient king. Even stranger, news stations everywhere have announced that the famous flag that inspired "The Star-Spangled Banner" has been stolen! Anna, certain that the culprits must be snowed in too, recruits Henry and José to help catch the thieves and bring them to justice.
      But when accusations start flying, they soon realize there's more than justice at stake. As the snow starts clearing, Anna, José, and Henry find themselves in a race against time (and the weather!) to prevent the loss of an American treasure.


     Young Adult:



    CARNIVAL OF SOULS by Melissa Marr (Harper; September 4, 2012; Ages 13+)
    THE DARK UNWINDING by Sharon Cameron (Scholastic; September, 2012; Ages 12 +)
    THE RAVEN BOYS by Maggie Stiefvater (Scholastic; September 2012; Ages 13+)

    Thursday, July 5, 2012

    Review: Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn

    Dear Readers,

    Pardon my language, but Holy S--t. 

    I just finished Gone Girl, and the first words that came out of my mouth when I finished this book was Holy S--t.

    I do not want to ruin the tiniest detail of this book for you, because if you like thrillers, you don't want to miss Gone Girl.  I want you going into this book exactly as I did - knowing nothing.  I will not give you a synopsis, I will not tell you about the characters, I will not tell you any major plot points. 

    Here is what you need to know (or, more accurately, what I must tell you or I will explode):

    - There is a married couple: Amy and Nick. The story is told from their alternating points of view.  (Now that I've read the book, I need to listen to the audio...wow.)

    -  I could not put this book down.  I read all 400 pages in practically one sitting.  It will grab you by the hair and not let go.

    - This book is a psychological thriller, but it will not give you nightmares.  This will not happen in your real life, but if in the off-chance you think it could, you need to run and get help immediately. Call a doctor.  Call a lawyer.  Call the FBI.  And get a gun.

    - You will not like these characters.  Hell, you may even hate them.  But you will not be able to tear your eyes from the pages.

    -  Gillian Flynn never stopped surprising me.  Not once.  After 50 pages, I trusted no one, yet she was always two steps ahead of me...even when I KNEW she was two steps ahead of me.  She is brilliant, if even a bit off her rocker. (I mean that with the utmost respect!)

    - If you don't have a problem with language, you might find yourself murmuring explatives under your own breath.  If you do have a problem with language, this might not be the book for you.  If you're on the fence, put you big girl panties on and start reading Gone Girl.

    - Gillian Flynn addresses one of my biggest grammar pet peeves, yet I was a little afraid of who felt the same way I did in the book.  Misuse of pronouns is a growing problem in our country.  NEVER say "Him and I".  It makes you sound like an idiot.  And you never know what brilliant psychopath might be listening.

    - Never before have three words sent chills down my spine:  "Play nice, Nick." 

    - Holy  S--t. 

    I'm not sure if this was a review or the crazy sleep-deprived ramblings of a reader who just came off of the greatest roller coaster rides of the year.  Either way, just go get this book. 

    Sincerely yours,
    Alison


    Book Extras:
    Add to your Goodreads
    Author websiteFacebook 
    Book Site at Random House (Excerpts, Audio sample, etc.)


    About the Book:

  • Hardcover: 432 pages
  • Publisher: Crown (June 5, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 030758836X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0307588364

  • About the Author:
    GILLIAN FLYNN’s debut novel, Sharp Objects, was an Edgar Award finalist and the winner of two of Britain’s Dagger Awards. She lives in Chicago with her husband, Brett Nolan, and a rather giant cat named Roy

    Wednesday, July 4, 2012

    Winners!!

    Several book contests have closed in the last week or so.  Thank you to all who entered!!  I have chosen winners using Random.org.

    THE AGE OF MIRACLES by Karen Thompson Walker (Random House/TLC Book Tours)

    Winner:  Darcy O (from MN)








    THE HERO'S GUIDE TO SAVING YOUR KINGDOM by Christopher Healy (Walden Pond Press)

    Audio AND Hardcover Book Winner:

    Heidi at Geo Librarian





    The Scholastic Mother-Daughter Book Club prize pack including BOTH
    WHATEVER AFTER by Sarah Mlynowski and THE FALSE PRINCE by Jennifer A. Nielsen.

    Winner is:  Rebekah B. (from CO)

    Independence Day!


    We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. — That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, — That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness. Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shewn, that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security.
    -  The United States Declaration of Independence, July 4, 1776

    God Bless America!





    Tuesday, July 3, 2012

    Review: The Unlikely Pilgrimmage of Harold Fry by Rachel Joyce

    It's the journey, not the destination. Take this journey with Harold Fry.

    Harold's retired life in a small English village is little more than similar days running into one another.  His wife usually tells him what to do, and how he did it wrong.  He notices his wife's pain in not seeing their son, but he never talks to her about it.  Not much changes until one day he gets a brief, typed letter from Queenie, a woman he used to work with twenty years ago.  She writes to tell him goodbye, as she is reaching the end of her battle with cancer.  Harold writes a brief, but friendly, note in return.  When he goes out to the post box to mail his letter, he decides to walk a little farther to the next one.  Before long, he decides that he isn't going to mail his letter, he is going to bring it to Queenie himself.  So, Harold Fry sets off on a six hundred mile walk to say goodbye, with nothing more than the clothes on his back and the yachting shoes on his feet.

    Something in this novel made me think of Forrest Gump or Olive Kitteridge.  Simple, beautiful, and touching, this story is full of human moments that many of us take for granted. 

    It's as much about Harold Fry, his flaws and his self-discovery, as it is about the different people he meets on his journey.  He inherently believes in the good of people, and very rarely do they disappoint him.  I couldn't help but see myself as a cynic, as I have long since lost my faith in humanity.  Harold reminded me that there is good in people, even when they aren't necessarily making the right choices.

    Probably my favorite part of the story is that of Harold's wife, Maureen. She has her own journey, and her own awakening, without which I'm sure the novel wouldn't be complete.

    This was not an action-packed thriller, or a sit-on-the-edge-of-your-seat courtroom drama, but there was something about this book that called to me and I couldn't put it down.  The writing was was extraordinary.  

    I did gasp at one point...and I wouldn't dare tell you why.

    There are several people I know who are going to love this book as much as I did...I think I might just walk it over to them.



    Book Extras:
    Read An Excerpt
    Readers' Guide

    About the Book:

  • Hardcover: 336 pages
  • Publisher: Random House (July 24, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0812993292
  • ISBN-13: 978-0812993295


  • About the Author: (from publisher)
     Rachel Joyce, has written over twenty original afternoon plays for BBC Radio 4, and has created major adaptations for the Classic series and Woman’s Hour, as well as a TV drama adaptation for BBC2. In 2007 she won the Tinniswood Award for Best Radio Play. Joyce moved to writing after a twenty-year career in theatre and television, performing leading roles for the RSC, the Royal National Theatre, The Royal Court and Cheek by Jowl; and winning a Time Out Best Actress Award and the Sony Silver. She currently lives in Gloucestershire with her family and is at work on her second novel.


    Many thanks to Random House and TLC Book Tours for inviting me to host a stop on the tour for THE UNLIKELY PILGRIMMAGE OF HAROLD FRY.  Please visit the official tour page for more information and reviews.




    **TLC and Random House have also asked me to host a giveaway for ONE copy of THE UNLIKELY PILGRIMAGE OF HAROLD FRY by Rachel Joyce.  See next post to enter!

    Giveaway: The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry


    Many thanks to TLC Book Tours and Random House for allowing me to host a giveaway for ONE copy of THE UNLIKELY PILGRIMAGE OF HAROLD FRY by Rachel Joyce.

    To enter, fill out form below.  If form does not load for you, feel free to leave a comment, which will count as your entry. 

    Open only to US Residents.
    No P.O. Boxes

    Monday, July 2, 2012

    It's Monday...What Are You Reading?


    Today is Monday, June 25, 2012...What Are You Reading?

    This weekly meme is brought to you by my +1, my partner in crime, my bloggy buddy, my Taxicab Twin (even when we're getting lost in Tribeca!), Sheila from Book Journey!

    As usual, my intentions are to post this meme weekly, but life gets in the way.  I have read such great books in the last week or so, I had to share!  Enjoy!


    Books Completed:

    The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry by Rachel Joyce (Random House; July 24, 2012)
    Let's Pretend This Never Happened by Jenny Lawson (Amy Einhorn/Putnam/Penguin; April 2012)

    Defending Jacob by William Landay (Delacorte; January 2012)
    Gone Girl by Gilliam Flynn (Crown; June 5, 2012)
    Serpent's Kiss by Melissa De La Cruz (Hyperion; June 12, 2012; Adult)


    The Fault In Our Stars by John Green (Dutton; January 2012; Ages 14+)
    Liar and Spy by Rebecca Stead (Wendy Lamb; August 7, 2012; Ages 9-12)


    Current Print Book:



    Porch Lights: A Novel by Dorthea Benton Frank (William Morrow; June 12, 2012)


    Current Audiobook:


    The Eleventh Plague by Jeff Hirsch (Scholastic; September 2011; Ages 12+)

    Books Planned for Next Week:


    Criminal by Karin Slaughter (AudioGo/Delacorte Press; July 3, 2012)
    Tigers in Red Weather by Liza Klaussman (Little, Brown; July 17, 2012)
    Infinity Ring 1: A Mutiny In Time by James Dashner (Scholastic; August 28, 2012; Ages 9+)


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