Friday, October 17, 2014

Books on my Shelf

Ah the dreaded TBR pile. With some many pretty books getting released, I tend to buy them with the best intentions, and they end up replaced by even more awesome books. It's a cycle that we book addicts understand. So, I wanted to feature some of the books I've got on my shelf that I need to actually pick up and read (because I'm sure they're awesome)!

Stork by Wendy Delsol

Family secrets. Lost memories. And the arrival of an ancient magical ability that will reveal everything.

Sixteen-year-old Katla LeBlanc has just moved from Los Angeles to Minnesota. As if it weren’t enough that her trendy fashion sense draws stares, Katla soon finds out that she’s a Stork, a member of a mysterious order of women tasked with a very unique duty. But Katla’s biggest challenge may be finding her flock at a new school. Between being ignored by Wade, the arrogant jock she stupidly fooled around with, and constantly arguing with gorgeous farm boy and editor-in-chief Jack, Katla is relieved when her assignment as the school paper’s fashion columnist brings with it some much-needed friendship. But as Homecoming approaches, Katla uncovers a shocking secret about her past — a secret that binds her fate to Jack’s in a way neither could have ever anticipated. With a nod to Hans Christian Andersen and inspired by Norse lore, Wendy Delsol’s debut novel introduces a hip and witty heroine who finds herself tail-feathers deep in small-town life.

Shadow and Bone by Leigh Bardugo

Surrounded by enemies, the once-great nation of Ravka has been torn in two by the Shadow Fold, a swath of near impenetrable darkness crawling with monsters who feast on human flesh. Now its fate may rest on the shoulders of one lonely refugee.

Alina Starkov has never been good at anything. But when her regiment is attacked on the Fold and her best friend is brutally injured, Alina reveals a dormant power that saves his life—a power that could be the key to setting her war-ravaged country free. Wrenched from everything she knows, Alina is whisked away to the royal court to be trained as a member of the Grisha, the magical elite led by the mysterious Darkling.

Yet nothing in this lavish world is what it seems. With darkness looming and an entire kingdom depending on her untamed power, Alina will have to confront the secrets of the Grisha . . . and the secrets of her heart.

Vessel by Sarah Beth Durst

Liyana has trained her entire life to be the vessel of a goddess. She will dance and summon her tribe's deity, who will inhabit Liyana's body and use magic to bring rain to the desert. But when the dance ends, Liyana is still there. Her tribe is furious--and sure that it is Liyana's fault. Abandoned by her tribe, Liyana expects to die in the desert. Until a boy walks out of the dust in search of her.

Korbyn is a god inside his vessel, and a trickster god at that. He tells Liyana that five other gods are missing, and they set off across the desert in search of the other vessels. The desert tribes cannot survive without the magic of their gods. But the journey is dangerous, even with a god’s help. And not everyone is willing to believe the trickster god’s tale.

The closer she grows to Korbyn, the less Liyana wants to disappear to make way for her goddess. But she has no choice--she must die for her tribe to live. Unless a trickster god can help her to trick fate--or a human girl can muster some magic of her own.

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Teaser Tuesday (October 14) - As You Wish by Cary Elwes

What is teaser tuesday?

It's a meme hosted by Should Be Reading and here are the rules: 

• Grab your current read
• Open to a random page
• Share two (2) “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!)
• Share the title & author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers! 

"And while a leap of faith would be required to presume that the other characters in the film (most notably Buttercup) would not immediately spot the resemblance between Westley and the Man in Black, the audience was free to make the connection (which of course, they did). Still, it had to look right. Despite going to great lengths to create dozens of perfect masks, the makeup department still wound up having to use dark makeup around my eyes in some scenes to create a seamless transition between mask and skin, much like what I understand they do with all the folks who play Batman." 
-As You Wish, Pages 38-39, by Cary Elwes. 

Also, I'm hosting a contest on Twitter for a book of your choice! If you follow me at and retweet the contest you're entered to win!   

Saturday, October 11, 2014

Review: The Infects by Sean Beaudoin

A feast for the brain, this gory and genuinely hilarious take on zombie culture simultaneously skewers, pays tribute to, and elevates the horror genre.

Seventeen-year-old Nero is stuck in the wilderness with a bunch of other juvenile delinquents on an “Inward Trek.” As if that weren’t bad enough, his counselors have turned into flesh-eating maniacs overnight and are now chowing down on his fellow miscreants. As in any classic monster flick worth its salted popcorn, plentiful carnage sends survivors rabbiting into the woods while the mindless horde of “infects” shambles, moans, and drools behind. Of course, these kids have seen zombie movies. They generate “Zombie Rules” almost as quickly as cheeky remarks, but attitude alone can’t keep the biters back.

Serving up a cast of irreverent, slightly twisted characters, an unexpected villain, and an ending you won’t see coming, here is a savvy tale that that’s a delight to read—whether you’re a rabid zombie fan or freshly bitten—and an incisive commentary on the evil that lurks within each of us.

Best Bits:  I can always appreciate YA books that focus on guys, since those tend to be rare in the genre. Plus, the way that the zombie apocalypse begins in this one is totally believable. Nick works at a chicken processing plant, and in a typical teen fashion is crushing on a girl he thinks is out of his league. Things head south at said job, and he ends up fighting off zombies at a wilderness camp. I'm actively choosing not to share how the zombies come into existence, but it's pretty clear when you're reading.

 This book definitely didn't skimp on the gore or scare factor. I was genuinely spooked reading some scenes, with the anticipation that something bad was about to happen (I was usually right). What makes this book even better is the possibility that Nero may have been exposed to the virus and could be changing as well. We get a great look at his inner monologue and fight against the voice trying to control him.

Nit Picks: This book has it's own language, and a completely new slang vocabulary. In some books this works well, but at some points during this one I was drawn out of the story. I also thought that the end wrapped up extremely quickly. It was a time jump, and I wish I could have seen the bits in between.

The Infects
By Sean Beaudoin
Published by Candlewick
384 Pages

Sunday, September 28, 2014

Stacking the Shelves (September 28)

Stacking the Shelves is a meme hosted by Tynga at Tynga's Reviews! It's a way to highlight the books that everyone got throughout the week. All links go to Goodreads

For Review -

The Swap by Megan Shull


ELLIE spent the summer before seventh grade getting dropped by her best friend since forever. JACK spent it training in “The Cage” with his tough-as-nails brothers and hard-to-please dad. By the time middle school starts, they’re both ready for a change. And just as Jack’s thinking girls have it so easy, Ellie’s wishing she could be anyone but herself.

Then, BAM! They swap lives—and bodies!

Now Jack’s fending off mean girls at sleepover parties while Ellie’s reigning as the Prince of Thatcher Middle School. As their crazy weekend races on—and their feelings for each other grow—Ellie and Jack begin to realize that maybe the best way to learn how to be yourself is to spend a little time being someone else.

Published by Katherine Tegen

Illusions of Fate - Kiersten White

“I did my best to keep you from crossing paths with this world. And I shall do my best to protect you now that you have.”

Jessamin has been an outcast since she moved from her island home of Melei to the dreary country of Albion. Everything changes when she meets Finn, a gorgeous, enigmatic young lord who introduces her to the secret world of Albion’s nobility, a world that has everything Jessamin doesn’t—power, money, status…and magic. But Finn has secrets of his own, dangerous secrets that the vicious Lord Downpike will do anything to possess. Unless Jessamin, armed only with her wits and her determination, can stop him.

Kiersten White captured readers’ hearts with her New York Times bestselling Paranormalcy trilogy and its effortless mix of magic and real-world teenage humor. She returns to that winning combination of wit, charm, and enchantment in Illusions of Fate, a sparkling and romantic new novel perfect for fans of Cassandra Clare, The Madman’s Daughter, and Libba Bray.

Published by Katherine Tegen Books

Balance Keepers: The Fires of Calderon - Lindsay Cummings

The first book in an epic middle grade fantasy adventure series that takes place in an underground society at the center of the earth. Packed with action, humor, magic, and mystery.

After following a mysterious map into the woods and then under the woods, eleven-year-old Albert Flynn learns he’s a Balance Keeper—someone with special magical skills for fixing problems in three underground Realms at the Core of the earth. His new job is important; if the realms fall out of balance, the world above could be in great danger.

Albert and his Balance Keeper teammates Birdie and Leroy arrive in the Core not a moment too soon. There’s an Imbalance in the Calderon Realm and it’s threatening to bury Albert’s hometown of New York City in a mountain of ash.

The three must train hard completing mental and physical challenges, but above all, they must harness the power of their Tiles—unique superpowers given to each Balance Keeper. So far, Albert’s mastered the art of not mastering his Tile....

With the situation in Calderon growing worse every day, can Albert, Leroy, and Birdie restore balance before New York is destroyed forever? Will Albert master his Tile before it’s too late?

Published by Katherine Tegen Books

Messanger of Fear - Michael Grant

I remembered my name – Mara. But, standing in that ghostly place, faced with the solemn young man in the black coat with silver skulls for buttons, I could recall nothing else about myself.

And then the games began.

The Messenger sees the darkness in young hearts, and the damage it inflicts upon the world. If they go unpunished, he offers the wicked a game. Win, and they can go free. Lose, and they will live out their greatest fear.

But what does any of this have to do with Mara? She is about to find out . .

Published by Katherine Tegen Books

Purchased -

Destination Truth: Memoirs of a Monster Hunter - Josh Gates

Truth is stranger than legend . . . and your journey into both begins here.

World adventurer and international monster hunter Josh Gates has careened through nearly 100 countries, investigating frightening myths, chilling cryptozoological legends, and terrifying paranormal phenomena. Now, he invites fans to get a behind-the-scenes look at these breathtaking expeditions.

Follow Gates from the inception of the groundbreaking hit show (at the summit of Kilimanjaro) to his hair-raising encounters with dangerous creatures in the most treacherous locations on earth. Among his many adventures, he unearths the flesh-crawling reality of the Mongolian Death Worm, challenges an ancient curse by spending the night in King Tut’s tomb, descends into a centuries-old mine to search for an alien entity in subterranean darkness, pursues ghosts in the radioactive shadow of Chernobyl, and explores sightings of Bigfoot from the leech-infested rain forests of Malaysia to the dizzying heights of the Himalayas.

Part journey into the unexplained, part hilarious travelogue, part fascinating look at the making of a reality-based TV show, and featuring never-before-published photographs; this Destination Truth companion takes readers on the supernatural expedition of a lifetime.

Saturday, September 27, 2014

Feral Blog Tour - Interview with Holly Schindler

Your new book, FERAL, was released on August 26.  Can you tell readers a bit about it?
The Lovely Bones meets Black Swan in this haunting psychological thriller with twists and turns that will make you question everything you think you know.

It’s too late for you. You’re dead. Those words continue to haunt Claire Cain months after she barely survived a brutal beating in Chicago. So when her father is offered a job in another state, Claire is hopeful that getting out will offer her a way to start anew.

But when she arrives in Peculiar, Missouri, Claire feels an overwhelming sense of danger, and her fears are confirmed when she discovers the body of a popular high school student in the icy woods behind the school, surrounded by the town’s feral cats. While everyone is quick to say it was an accident, Claire knows there’s more to it, and vows to learn the truth about what happened.

But the closer she gets to uncovering the mystery, the closer she also gets to realizing a frightening reality about herself and the damage she truly sustained in that Chicago alley….

FERAL’s gripping story is filled with heart-stopping twists and turns that will keep readers guessing until the very last page.
FERAL takes on a different subject matter and genre than your past books.  What inspired you to write a YA thriller?
You’re right—FERAL is quite different from my previous releases (a YA literary problem novel, a YA romance, an MG contemporary realistic read).  I’m a serious fan of vintage movies—especially Hitchcock.  That really helped shape FERAL, which is a psychological thriller, in the classic sense. 
Like psychological thrillers, FERAL features mystery, horror, and paranormal elements, but the emphasis is on the “psychological” rather than thriller / action.  The novel features a Hitchcockian pace and focus on character development (here, we’re exploring the inner workings of the main character, Claire Cain). 
Essentially, every aspect of FERAL is used to explore Claire’s inner workings—that even includes the wintry Ozarks setting.  The water metaphor is employed frequently in psychological thrillers to represent the subconscious, and in this instance is incorporated in the form of a brutal ice storm (that represents Claire’s “frozen” inner state).  The attempt to untangle what is real from what is unreal (another frequently-used aspect of the psychological thriller) also begins to highlight the extent to which Claire was hurt in that Chicago alley.  Even the explanation of the odd occurrences in the town of Peculiar offers an exploration into and portrait of Claire’s psyche. 
Ultimately, FERAL is a book about recovering from violence—that’s not just a lengthy or hard process; it’s a terrifying process, too.  The conventions of the classic psychological thriller allowed me to explore that frightening process in detail. 
Can you talk a bit about your road to being published?  How do things change once you’re an established author?
My road to the first publication was really long: it took seven and a half years of full-time effort to land my first deal. 
My first two books (both YAs) were with a smaller house.  I actually handled the first two deals myself; shortly thereafter, I signed with an agent who wanted to represent my MG. 
I know most people assume an agent is a magical creature who can instantly open doors in the publishing world.  In reality, it took my own agent a year and a half to sell my MG (THE JUNCTION OF SUNSHINE AND LUCKY, which released with Dial / Penguin earlier this year).  At that point, I knew I wanted to bring the agent in on the rest of my work—including the YAs.  We agreed that it was time to seek a larger house to publish the YAs as well…But even with an agent and two YAs (one of which was critically acclaimed, having earned a starred review and several awards) on my side, it took a year to sell my third YA, FERAL, to HarperTeen. 
When I started out, I assumed that selling the first book would change everything.  That once I’d inked the first contract, I’d be “in” the publishing world, and my work would be handled differently.  Not so.  Just as the world doesn’t magically change by signing with the agent, the world doesn’t change once you’ve sold a few books, either.  It’s still a process of submission and rejection. 
That’s an important distinction, though: the PROCESS remains the same.  Am I the same person I was when I jumped into my pursuit of publication?  No.  I know myself as an author far better than I did when I was starting out.  I know what I want my books to say.  And that makes the process far less scary.  I also don’t have the same approach to finding a publishing house that I did when I was seeking my first book deal.  I don’t just want my book to be accepted by a house, I want my book to find the RIGHT house, the right editor who recognizes and connects with what I’m doing. 
What are five books that you would suggest every teen read?
1.   CATCHER IN THE RYE – Salinger.  It’s considered, by some, to be the first YA novel written.
2.   SPEAK – Anderson.  I consider it a seminal work in contemporary YA literature.
3.   ELSEWHERE – Zevin.  My favorite YA read.
4.   TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD – Lee.  You’ll probably get this one assigned to you in class—I did.  And it was hands-down my favorite high school read.
5.   A book outside of your usual genre of preference.  I think it’s important to move outside of your comfort zone.  Reading tastes are somewhat like food preferences—a lot of it’s based on trial and error and multiple exposures.  Just because you didn’t much care for literary reads a few years ago doesn’t mean you won’t like them now.  Give a new genre a shot, keeping an open mind.
What’s next for you, any new books in the work?
Youbetcha!  I’m always working on something new…In fact, I recently finished both my next YA and MG, and I’m working on branching out into new genres.  Be sure to follow along with me on Twitter: @Holly_Schindler and to keep up to date with the latest news!

Holly Schindler is the author of the critically acclaimed A BLUE SO DARK (Booklist starred review, ForeWord Reviews Book of the Year silver medal recipient, IPPY Awards gold medal recipient) as well as PLAYING HURT (both YAs). 

Her debut MG, THE JUNCTION OF SUNSHINE AND LUCKY, also released in ’14, and became a favorite of teachers and librarians, who used the book as a read-aloud.  Kirkus Reviews called THE JUNCTION “...a heartwarming and uplifting story...[that] shines...with vibrant themes of community, self-empowerment and artistic vision delivered with a satisfying verve.” 

FERAL is Schindler’s third YA and first psychological thriller.  Publishers Weekly gave FERAL a starred review, stating, “Opening with back-to-back scenes of exquisitely imagined yet very real horror, Schindler’s third YA novel hearkens to the uncompromising demands of her debut, A BLUE SO DARK…This time, the focus is on women’s voices and the consequences they suffer for speaking…This is a story about reclaiming and healing, a process that is scary, imperfect, and carries no guarantees.”

Schindler encourages readers to get in touch.  Booksellers, teen librarians, and teachers can also contact her directly regarding Skype visits.  She can be reached at hollyschindlerbooks (at) gmail (dot) com, and can also be found at,, @holly_schindler,, and

FERAL Trailer:
Rafflectopter form for a giveaway of a signed copy of FERAL (running from Sept. 27- Oct. 13):

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