Review: Lies, Knives, and Girls in Red Dresses by Ron Koertge

lies, knives, and girls in red dressesInfo:
Title: Lies, Knives, and Girls in Red Dresses
Author: by Ron Koertge
Release Date: July 10, 2012
Publisher: Candlewick Press
Source: Library
Series? No
Genre: Young Adult, Fairytale Retelling, Fantasy
Page Count: 87

Summary:

Once upon a time, there was a strung-out match girl who sold CDs to stoners. Twelve impetuous sisters escaped King Daddy’s clutches to jiggle and cavort and wear out their shoes. A fickle Thumbelina searched for a tiny husband, leaving bodies in her wake. And Little Red Riding Hood confessed that she kind of wanted to know what it’s like to be swallowed whole. From bloodied and blinded stepsisters (they were duped) to a chopped-off finger flying into a heroine’s cleavage, this is fairy tale world turned upside down. Ron Koertge knows what really happened to all those wolves and maidens, ogres and orphans, kings and piglets, and he knows about the Ever After. So come closer
— he wants to whisper in your ear. (summary from goodreads)

My Review:
I’m big on fairytale retellings, and as soon as I saw the cover for Lies, Knives, and Girls in Red Dresses, I knew I had to read it.

The retellings are, as you can tell from the title and cover art, quite dark. But my favorite parts were actually the illustrations, not the stories themselves. Almost all of the tales are written in verse, and the book is short. Really short. There are 23 stories in 87 pages. I would have liked for the retellings to be longer, because I think they would have been more memorable and had more of a punch if they weren’t so short.

I’m not sure who the audience is. I don’t think the book will hold the interest of teens or adults, and though I enjoyed it while reading, now I’ve pretty much forgotten most of it. I tried to pick out at least one memorable one to mention, but I can’t remember any. However, the papercut silhouette illustrations are gorgeous, and worth a look. They definitely capture the mood of what the author was going for, more than the verses.

Rating: 2 owls

Socialize with the author:
Ron Koertge:
Website

– leeanna

It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? #20

Last Week’s Reads:

Before the Rain♦♦
by Luisita Lopez Torregrosa
Hollowed♦♦
by Kelley York
Keep Sweet
by Michele Dominguez Greene

This Week’s Reads:

 
The Assassin’s Curse♦♦
by Cassandra Rose Clarke
Dearie: The Remarkable Life of Julia Child♦♦
by Bob Spitz
 

Wow, I can’t believe I’m already up to week 20 of doing this meme! It’s one meme I make sure to do every week, because it’s a great way to keep track of what I hoped to read and what I’ve actually read, and it’s also fun to visit as many other blogs as I can and find even more books I want to read. Now if I could just get more reading in….

That said, I’m keeping my list short for this week. I didn’t manage to do as well as I’d hoped with #BoutofBooks. But I did write a couple thousand words, so it wasn’t a total loss.

Review books received from:
The Assassin’s Curse: Strange Chemistry & NetGalley
Dearie: Amazon Vine
Hollowed: the author for blog tour
Before the Rain: Amazon Vine

Thank you! ♥

♦♦ indicates books received for review

It’s Monday! What Are You Reading is hosted by Book Journey.

The YA linky list for It’s Monday! What Are You Reading is hosted by Teach Mentor Texts.

– leeanna

Blog Tour Review: Hollowed by Kelley York (and giveaway!)

Today I am one of the stops for Kelley York’s new book, Hollowed. I am happy to be participating, as Hollowed is a great book, and Kelley is a great author to work with. I wish her tons of success with this release, and I can’t wait for her to finish the next book in the series.

Read on for my review and a giveaway!

hollowedInfo:
Title: Hollowed
Author: Kelley York
Release Date: August 15, 2012
Publisher: Self-Published
Source: From author for blog tour
Series? Half Light Saga #1
Genre: YA, Paranormal
Page Count: 237 (estimated)

Summary:

All 18-year-old Briar Greyson wanted was to figure out this whole living-away-from-your-parents thing. Apartment, steady job, cool roommate? Check. Noah, her adorable (albeit elusive) boyfriend? Check. Everything in the life of Briar was pretty good.

Then she and her roommate are attacked on their way home one night. Briar wasn’t supposed to survive.

Instead, according to the two guys who saved her, she’s turning into the things that attacked her: a vampire. Totally crazy and Not Okay. Now Noah’s secrets are coming to light, and he wants Briar dead. Then there are the vampires who attacked Briar to lure out her sister.

Her sister…who died years ago.

(Didn’t she?)

The city’s body count is rising, and Briar wants to help put a stop to it. But first, she has to figure out who the real enemy is: the vampires, the boy she loves, or the sister she thought she’d lost. (summary from goodreads)

My Review:
You guys!

I cannot quit flailing over how much I loved Hollowed! I really wish it was in paperback, because it’s a book I’m going to want to reread.

what I looked like while reading

what I looked like while reading

Okay, now that that’s out of my system, I’ll try to be serious.

Briar is a great character. Actually, every character in Hollowed is richly developed, even the supporting characters, and I’d like to read more about every single one of them. You’ll see what I mean when you meet Cole, Oliver, Algonquin (I almost asked Kelley how I could get my own Algonquin!), and Fred.

I felt like I’d known Briar forever. Sarcastic and courageous, she has a voice that readers of paranormal/urban fantasy will recognize, although she’s entirely her own character. And Hollowed is much more than just a paranormal book — there are elements of mystery, thriller, and romance.

If you’ve read any of my reviews before, you’ll know I love a kick ass female character. Briar is one of those, even though she may not be the most physically adept. She’s loyal and brave, always wanting to help others, even if it may land her in danger. I empathized with her struggle to remain true to herself after being changed into a vampire, even when her sort-of-boyfriend thinks she’s now a monster.

The vampires and other creatures in Hollowed aren’t the invincible, nothing-can-kill-me type. They can go out in the sunlight, but it gives them headaches. They can heal from most deadly injuries, but it hurts a whole lot and makes them reallllly hungry for blood. And the change into a vampire? It’s a miserable process.

I haven’t really touched on the plot, but rest assured, the story is fantastic. Kelley really knows how to weave a story that builds and builds, until you can’t wait to find out what happens next. I couldn’t read fast enough to find out all the twists and turns, but at the same time, I didn’t want Hollowed to end. I was immersed in Briar’s world, and I can’t wait to read more stories from the Half Light universe.

Rating: 5 owls

Socialize with the author:
Kelley York:
Website
Twitter @elixing

Giveaway:
a Rafflecopter giveaway

Check out the other stops for more reviews, guest posts, interviews, and other fun things.

Camp NaNo August Session: Update 2

Ahh, you all thought you escaped last week, huh? I didn’t do a NaNo update post because … wait for it … I had nothing to update.

I was going to sign up for WriteOnCon, but the forum kept throwing me out as a spammer. Apparently, using just your first name is a red flag. Whoops. I missed the entire thing, but I plan to go back later and read all the posts. It looks like there’s some great stuff there. I wanted to try and find a critique partner, or a few more writing buddies. Hopefully I can still do that.

This week I’m doing slightly better. I’ve written about 1k worth of random plotting, trying to get all the ideas in my head out before I forget them. I also have to type some notes that I scribbled in my Moleskine during a car ride. I hope I can read them! I have two or three different scenarios that are combining together, which is sort of neat but also frustrating, because what I envisioned for the world of Idea 1 doesn’t fully work with the world of Idea 2. I’m trying to keep from getting too bogged down by world building, but I feel like I have to have a really solid grasp on my world before I begin, otherwise I could end up rewriting a lot. But I may be at the point of over thinking my world. Grrr.

I’m also freaking a little because I don’t have a name for my either of my main characters! I keep referring to them as “girl” and “DD.” It’s freaking me out because I usually “see” characters first — I get their name, personality, quirks, etc., and then the plot comes after. Right now I’m sort of working the opposite way, and it is taking some getting used to. I know names can change down the road, but when I’m writing, I like to know their names, because things feel like they fit together more neatly than when I’m calling my character “girl” or “MC.”

I have tomorrow off, and I’m hoping to spend all of it writing and reading. At the very least I want to get an outline together, now that I have a beginning and end in mind for … oh, we’ll call it Vamp U.

– leeanna

Review: Darth Vader and Son by Jeffrey Brown

darth vader and sonInfo:
Title: Darth Vader and Son
Author: Jeffrey Brown
Release Date: April 18, 2012
Publisher: Chronicle Books
Source: Library
Series? No
Genre: Graphic Novel, Humor
Page Count:

Summary:

What if Darth Vader took an active role in raising his son? What if Luke, I am your father was just a stern admonishment from an annoyed dad? In this hilarious and sweet comic reimagining, Darth Vader is a dad like any other except with all the baggage of being the Dark Lord of the Sith. Celebrated artist Jeffrey Brown’s delightful illustrations give classic Star Wars moments a fresh twist, presenting the trials and joys of parenting through the lens of a galaxy far, far away. Life lessons include lightsaber batting practice, using the Force to raid the cookie jar, Take Your Child to Work Day on the Death Star (Er, he looks just like you, Lord Vader!), and the special bond shared between any father and son. (summary from goodreads)

My Review:
I have to start off by saying I am a huge Star Wars fan, particularly of the original movies and the Extended Universe. I once impressed a roomful of guys because I knew more about the Imperial Navy than they did.

So it’s probably no surprise that I loved this book. Darth Vader and Son is, dare I say it, cute! I can see it being a go-to book when I’ve had a bad day or need cheered up. Each comic is extremely detailed, and I think young Star Wars fans would have fun recognizing the little things, like Leia dressing a Darth Maul doll in a dress, or a baby Admiral Ackbar going trick or treating.

Obviously, the stars are Darth Vader and Luke. The two share many classic father son moments in true Star Wars fashion. There’s nothing like Take Your Son To Work Day when Dad works on the Death Star. I especially liked when movie dialogue was woven into the comics. Darth Vader pulled out “Luke, I am your father,” to try to get Luke to clean his room.

Non Star Wars fans might not get a lot out of this, but if you like Star Wars, or you know a youngster who does, this would be a great book for them. I’ll be buying my own copy soon.

Rating: 4 owls

Socialize with the author:
Jeffrey Brown:
Website

Waiting on Wednesday: The Assassin’s Curse by Cassandra Rose Clarke (@mitochondrial)

The Assassin's CurseThe Assassin’s Curse by Cassandra Rose Clarke
Release Date: October 2, 2012

Ananna of the Tanarau is the eldest daughter of a highly-ranked family in the loose assortment of cutthroats and thieves in the Pirate’s Confederation. When she runs away from the marriage her parents have arranged for her, they hire Naji the assassin to murder her.

When a mysterious woman in a dress shop offers her magical assistance for dealing with the assassin, Ananna accepts. She never went in much for magic herself — she lacks the talent for it — but she’s not quite ready to die yet, either. Unfortunately, the woman’s magic fails.

Fortunately, Ananna inadvertently saves the assassin’s life in the skirmish, thus activating a curse that had been placed on him a few years earlier. Now, whenever her life is in danger, he must protect her — or else he experiences tremendous physical pain. Neither Ananna nor the assassin, Naji, are pleased about this development.

Follow Ananna and Naji as they sail across the globe, visiting such mysterious places as the Court of Salt and Waves, in their desperate effort to lift the curse. Soon they will discover that only by completing three impossible tasks will they be able to set themselves free. (summary from goodreads)

This book just sounds awesome. I can’t believe Ananna’s parents send an assassin after her because she runs away from an arranged marriage! This is my kind of book, and lucky me, I get to read it early, thanks to Strange Chemistry and NetGalley!

Socialize with the author:
Website
Twitter @mitochondrial

Waiting on Wednesday is hosted by Breaking the Spine.

Review: The Peculiars by Maureen Doyle McQuerry

the peculiarsInfo:
Title: The Peculiars
Author: Maureen Doyle McQuerry
Release Date: May 1, 2012
Publisher: Harry N. Abrams
Source: Library
Series? No
Genre: YA, Steampunk, Fantasy, Romance, Adventure
Page Count: 354

Summary:

This dark and thrilling adventure, with an unforgettable heroine, will captivate fans of steampunk, fantasy, and romance.

On her 18th birthday, Lena Mattacascar decides to search for her father, who disappeared into the northern wilderness of Scree when Lena was young. Scree is inhabited by Peculiars, people whose unusual characteristics make them unacceptable to modern society. Lena wonders if her father is the source of her own extraordinary characteristics and if she, too, is Peculiar. On the train she meets a young librarian, Jimson Quiggley, who is traveling to a town on the edge of Scree to work in the home and library of the inventor Mr. Beasley. The train is stopped by men being chased by the handsome young marshal Thomas Saltre. When Saltre learns who Lena’s father is, he convinces her to spy on Mr. Beasley and the strange folk who disappear into his home, Zephyr House. A daring escape in an aerocopter leads Lena into the wilds of Scree to confront her deepest fears. (summary from goodreads)

My Review:
Described as a mix of adventure, fantasy, steampunk, and romance, The Peculiars has some big shoes to fill. Unfortunately, the only big shoes filled are Lena’s.

To start, that was one of my big gripes with the book. I don’t need to be constantly reminded of the size and oddness of Lena’s hands and feet. Yeah, I understand that they embarrass her, and make her stick out in a society where people are constantly on the watch for Peculiars. However, I don’t need to be reminded over and over again. My memory of the first few chapters: Lena hiding her hands. Lena hiding her feet. Lena hiding her hands. Lena hiding her feet. Lena’s hands itching from her gloves. Lena’s feet hurting from her shoes. There was a robbery on the train, but I barely remember that.

So why are Lena’s hands and feet so important? They are an indicator that she has goblin blood, and is therefore a Peculiar. Humans are extremely racist towards Peculiars, claiming that they don’t have souls, and are good only to work in the mines of Scree. Lena straddles both worlds — she isn’t sure if she is a goblin, and The Peculiars is a coming of age story of her journey to find the father who abandoned her and the truth about herself.

The book had potential. It just wasn’t delivered on, for me.

The pacing is slower than a steam-powered turtle. I almost put the book down several times because nothing was happening. I kept pushing through, though, because I hoped it would be worth it, but it wasn’t. The ending fizzled, as did almost all of the action scenes.

I will say that for once, I didn’t mind the romance. It’s not too heavy, which is refreshing, and Jimson is a cute guy in a geeky sort of way. I liked his excitement over books and inventions.

Lastly, I think the cover is misleading. This isn’t the author’s fault, but I wonder at the decision to put a supporting character on the cover instead of Lena. I guess wings are more eye-catching than goblin hands.

Rating: 1 owl

Socialize with the author:
Maureen Doyle McQuerry:
Website
Facebook
Twitter @maureenmcquerry

It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? #19

Last Week’s Reads:

 
The Peculiars
by Maureen Doyle McQuerry
The Forsaken
by Lisa M. Stasse
 

This Week’s Reads:

Before the Rain♦♦
by Luisita Lopez Torregrosa
Brave New Love
edited by Paula Guran
Innocent Darkness
by Suzanne Lazear
The Assassin’s Curse♦♦
by Cassandra Rose Clarke
Dearie: The Remarkable Life of Julia Child♦♦
by Bob Spitz
Hollowed♦♦
by Kelley York

I had another slow week last week. Silly headaches, keeping me from important things like reading and writing and blogging. However, The Forsaken was amazing! So. Good. When I had a power outage on Thursday, I had to find a clippy flashlight so I could keep reading.

I’m hoping this week will be better, especially since I’m doing #BoutofBooks. My TBR pile is getting high again, so it’s time to get it down before it gets too bad.

Review books received from:
The Assassin’s Curse: Strange Chemistry & NetGalley
Hollowed: the author
Dearie: Amazon Vine
Before the Rain: Amazon Vine

Thank you! ♥

♦♦ indicates books received for review

It’s Monday! What Are You Reading is hosted by Book Journey.

The YA linky list for It’s Monday! What Are You Reading is hosted by Teach Mentor Texts.

– leeanna

Bout of Books Goals ( #BoutofBooks )

Hot on the heels of the #OlympicReadathon, I’m participating in Bout of Books. It runs from August 13 to August 19, so I’m hoping to get in a good amount of reading. Two of my blogging friends, Jenna from Little Bird Reads, and Sarah from Breaking the Binding are also doing #BoutofBooks, so go visit them.

bout of books goal

My goal:
Review each book I read. I’m really bad about this during readathons, and I’m in a review block right now, too.

Books to read:
Dearie♦♦ by Bob Spitz
Before the Rain♦♦ by Luisita Lopez Torregrosa — DONE!
Brave New Love edited by Paula Guran
Innocent Darkness by Suzanne Lazear
Hollowed♦♦ by Kelley York (not pictured, ebook) — DONE!
The Assassin’s Curse♦♦ by Cassandra Rose Clarke (not pictured, ebook)

♦♦ indicates books received for review

This list is, of course, subject to change. I’m bad at picking out what I want to read ahead of time.

Updates:
Monday, August 13:
Books read: 1 – Before the Rain
Pages read: 228
Reviews written: 0. I need to write 2: The Forsaken and Before the Rain. Ack!

Tuesday, August 14:
Books read: 0
Pages read: ~50
Reviews written: 0. :(

Wednesday, August 15:
Books read: 0
Pages read: ~100
Reviews written: 1! My review of Before the Rain is up on Amazon. I still need to finish one for The Forsaken, and start on my review for Hollowed. I’m the stop on the blog tour for Hollowed, which is coming up on August 19.

Thursday, August 16:
I forget.

Friday, August 17:
Books read: 1
Pages read: ~237
Reviews written: 1. I wrote my review of Hollowed in preparation for the blog tour stop on the 19th.

Saturday, August 18:
Books read: .95. I’ve read almost all of Keep Sweet.
Reviews written: 0.

Sunday, August 19:
Books read: .05 I finished Keep Sweet.
Reviews written: 0.

Running totals:
Books read: 3
Reviews written: 2

Hah. Not a great readathon for me. I couldn’t make any of the Twitter chats, and I chose to put my time into reading rather than visiting a lot of other blogs. I’m going to take a break from readathons for a while, I think. Maybe until the next #BoutofBooks!

Also, notice how I didn’t really read any of the books in the pic? I knew that would happen!

– leeanna

Olympic Readathon August 12 Update – The End! ( #OlympicReadathon )

olympic readathon end

The #OlympicReadathon is over! Boooo. I’m sad to see it end. A long readathon is a lot of fun, even if I didn’t have a ton of time to be social with everyone else participating.

The books I read:
Huntress by Malinda Lo
The Wild Princess by Mary Hart Perry
Darkness Before Dawn by J. A. London
The Pledge by Kimberly Derting
The Peculiars by Maureen Doyle McQuerry
The Forsaken by Lisa M. Stasse

Total books: 6
Total page count: 2,223
Goal: 2,012
Pages to goal: +211

– leeanna