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small town bookishness

so, about 5 months ago, my husband and i moved from the Twin Cities (that's Minneapolis and St. Paul, for those non-midwesterners out there) to a rural town in southwestern Minnesota. this move has brought about many changes, since we were living in suburbs and Major Cities our entire lives.

i, for one, feel like a vast majority of these changes are fantastic.

to muse on a bookish example, moving rural has increased how i get the books i read what version of books i read. i am blessed to have a kick-ass library system and a kick-ass library AND awesome librarian right in town. i have not had any searches come up empty or had any issues getting books through inter library loan - EVER. and seriously, that's huge. because right before we moved - literally, like 2 WEEKS before we moved - the Ramsey County Library (in St. Paul) finished it's incredible remodel and is now a super huge and gorgeous library that we will never get to patron. bitterness abounded. until we moved here and, despite the small size of the library, the process of getting the books we want in a reasonable amount of time is incredible.

also, i've been volunteering at the library and noticed that the librarian makes recommendations to patrons like, all the time. seriously, how cool is that? she anticipates holds being needed, recommends read-alikes, and shares her thoughts on similar authors. now, the cities had some sweet libraries, but they did NOT have a librarian who would anticipate my need or knew my reading preferences well enough to make suggestions. that's friggin' awesome.

okay so obviously i've been utilizing the library, which has been great. but since i'm not near a Major Bookstore anymore, the amount of paper books i purchase is next to nothing. which means i've devoted my time to ARCs, classics, and digital editions of books. my husband is pleased with the cinching of the book budget, and i must say that i feel good about shifting from constantly adding to my bookshelves to knocking out some reads now and again.

so moving rural has changed my bookish ways by welcoming me into the arms of a close-knit and efficient library system and helped me to be more thoughtful about what books i purchase - either for my Nook (if i want to have it for myself) or a paper copy (if i want to lend it to friends).

thanks, rural life.

nerdy adventures

well friends, i've started two new incredibly nerdy adventures.

nerdy adventure the first: Firefly, of course.  i'm sure at least some of you have heard of this and are probably obsessed with it yourselves. as i was debating watching it on Twitter, i had several peeps come out of the woodwork declaring their hard and fast love for the 2-season space western.

if you have not heard of Firefly, i encourage you to find a new residence and leave the rock you're currently living under behind. also, Wikipedia sums up the show as this: The show explores the lives of some people who fought on the losing side of a civil war and others who now make a living on the outskirts of the society, as part of the pioneer culture that exists on the fringes of their star system. In addition, it is a future where the only two surviving superpowers, the United States and China, fused to form the central federal government, called the Alliance, resulting in the fusion of the two cultures as well. According to Whedon's vision, "nothing will change in the future: technology will advance, but we will still have the same political, moral, and ethical problems as today."

nerdy adventure the second - i've started reading A Game of Thrones. yes, the hard-core high-fantasy series that geeks EVERYWHERE are all up in, loving it strong. the real motivation for me to start this was the mini-series coming to HBO soon (so articles are everywhere). plus, the hubs has read this and loved it...so there's someone in my life who can answer questions in a non-spoilery way.

goodreads sums up A Game of Thrones thusly: 
In A Game of Thrones, George R.R. Martin has created a genuine masterpiece, bringing together the best the genre has to offer. Mystery, intrigue, romance, and adventure fill the pages of the first volume in an epic series sure to delight fantasy fans everywhere. 
In a land where summers can last decades and winters a lifetime, trouble is brewing. The cold is returning, and in the frozen wastes to the north of Winterfell, sinister and supernatural forces are massing beyond the kingdom's protective wall. At the center of the conflict lie the Starks of Winterfell, a family as harsh and unyielding as the land they were born to. Sweeping from a land of brutal cold to a distant summertime kingdom of epicurean plenty, here is a tale of lords and ladies, soldiers and sorcerers, assassins and bastards, who come together in a time of grim omens. Amid plots and counterplots, tragedy and betrayal, victory and terror, the fate of the Starks, their allies, and their enemies hangs perilously in the balance, as each endeavors to win that deadliest of conflicts: the game of thrones. 

so i'm sure you can expect some updates on how my nerdy adventures are coming along. AGoT will take me at least a couple weeks to get through, if not more. i may need to read/review other books along the way, but we shall see. 

tbr tuesday (2)

the following lovely ladies have inspired this new meme for me - inspired by "a peek at my TBR" by Jen at Makeshift Bookmark, "Waiting on Wednesday" by Jill at Breaking the Spine and "Books to Pine For" by Kristi at The Story Siren.

here's a look at two books i have sitting in my To Be Read pile. i don't necessarily own these books, but they are books i intend to get around to reading soon!

The Lost Years of Merlin
author: T.A. Barron

y'all KNOW i love me some Arthurian legend.

This American Library Association Best Book for Young Adults is a brilliant epic adventure dealing with the literary wizard. A young boy who has no identity nor memory of his past washes ashore on the coast of Wales and finds his true name after a series of fantastic adventures.

author: C.K. Kelly Martin

a chance to peep a growing, an unexpected, relationship from the male perspective. i'm in.

Pure. Unplanned. Perfect. Those were Nick’s summer plans before Sasha stepped into the picture. With the collateral damage from his parents’ divorce still settling and Dani (his girl of the moment) up for nearly anything, complications are the last thing he needs. All that changes, though, when Nick runs into Sasha at the beach in July. Suddenly he’s neck-deep in a relationship and surprised to find he doesn’t mind in the least. But Nick’s world shifts again when Sasha breaks up with him. Then weeks later, while Nick’s still reeling from the breakup, she turns up at his doorstep and tells him she’s pregnant, and Nick finds himself struggling once more to understand the girl he can’t stop caring for, the girl who insists that it’s still over.

and though i admit, i have WAY too many books on my to-read list already, i'm still interested if you have any suggestions you think i should add. lemme know what you're reading!

Review: 14 thoughts on The Vespertine by Saundra Mitchell

in a sentence or so: Amelia is sent to her family in Baltimore for The Season. in the midst of trying to land a solid match, she discovers she has the gift of sight (though the term gift should be considered loosely) and manages to fall head over heels for a mysterious boy who seems to be harboring his own secrets and is most certainly not the type of match her brother had in mind.

there are reviews of this ALL over the interwebs. so to present the review in a fresh way, i've got my review down to 14 thoughts. why 14 you ask? well, Nathaniel (chief love interest) is the 14th at the dinner party at which Amelia meets him for the first time. because it's too tacky to have only 13 people at your dinner party, obviously. so Nathaniel fills in as the charity case at spot number 14.

these are in no particular order, just so you know.

1. Zora. oh Zora, how i adore thee. Zora is Amelia's cousin of the same age and is also in the midst of her season. unlike country bumpkin Amelia, Zora is fashionable, connected, and just might be my favorite part of this read. she's thoughtful, grounded, and i kept expecting there to be something dark beneath the surface...but no. Zora is pure goodness. and i love her.
2. Calling Cards. you have no idea how i wish that i lived in a world where i had nothing to do but go visit people and eat treats and drink tea and present my name on a special card with the color and font of my choosing. alas, i work at a job where i have a pre-destined business card. so anyway, i think cards are awesome and such a fun exploration of the 1899 time period.
3. Indecisiveness. Amelia is inexplicably indecisive. she falls HARD for Nathaniel but then goes all wishy-washy with her crush. it's typical of the paranormal romance for the attraction to be Intense and Immediate, but i was perplexed by the sudden apprehensiveness of her feelings for him and if she was just toying with him etc.
4. Paranormal Romance. okay i just touched on this in 3, but the whole intense and immediate attraction is pretty typical and i get that. but i soon grew weary of reading the heat coming off of his skin and his smelling like sweet rum. like, i genuinely do not know why she was attracted to him other than it was just 'one of those things'. which is fine and all, but a bit more substance would have been appreciated.
5. Memory Loss. oh what you can do with the memory loss twists. i loved the suspense created and how it was actually kinda spooky when Amelia can't recall parts of her sight coming and going.
6. All Doesn't End Well. i love when stories don't all wrap up in a neat little bow. bad things happen. bad consequences are a result. thank you, Saundra Mitchell, for knowing a good story comes with loss.
7. Mattie. she's a bit of a wild card catalyst, really. Mattie is friends with Zora and is one of those girls that always has something nasty to say that no one puts in her place. ugh. anyway, she just keeps popping up and causing trouble just because she wants to.  or so it seems, anyway.
8. Flaws. Amelia is flawed, yet redeeming. i liked Amelia a ton, don't get me wrong. she was plucky and had a conscience and was totally believable. so believable, in fact, that she's flawed in a way that you would expect a true person to be. she has the whole Icarus thing going on, and she's definitely lets her pride get the best of her.
9. Corsets! while the idea of corsets grosses me out - what with the risk of cracking ribs and all - Mitchell infuses humor into the self-torture devices by repeatedly referring to how the girls cannot get up by themselves with them on and how they have to roll off of the bed - like turtles - to get up. this had me giggling along with Zora and Amelia more than once.
10. Non-Linear Storytelling. i have to give it to Mitchell, i really dug the creativity in her storytelling. especially with Amelia seeing premonitions as a core of the plot, it totally made sense that we see where Amelia is currently, compared to where she was when she was with Zora.
11. Lost in Plot. okay, after appreciating number 10, i admit that i got lost a few times in the story. part of this was probably due to the fact that i was reading on my Nook and couldn't flip back easily to double check passages, but it took me a few to realize we were doing the whole back-and-forth thing. in addition to that, there was a LOT going on in this surprisingly short read. so much, in fact, that i felt like some of the finer details were skipped to keep things moving.
12. Slumber Parties! i love me a slumber party. one of the best things i've done in my transition from teenagedom to adulthood is keep slumber parties a part of my life. seriously, don't stop having friends sleep over and watch movies all night. it's the BEST because you don't have to call your mom for a ride in the morning! for real!  but what i loved about slumber parties in The Vespertine was how true they felt. the girls all giggling on the bed, sharing secrets (and holding some back), and sharing in each others joy about their latest boy-related news.
13. Jump With Me. oh Nathaniel, how sweet you are. Nathaniel woos Amelia up to the top of a monument and challenges her with this statement. obviously, we know he's asking more than her trust to launch off the top of a monument (although, that is pretty intense) - he is asking for her trust in the unknown future that lies ahead of them. he wants her to jump WITH him...aww.
14. Power. Amelia has a powerful ability, and how she uses it, experiences it, and shares it drives this story. all of us have power, and how we choose to use it - or not to use it - impacts us and everyone around us. Amelia learns this a bit too late, i'm afraid. but would she have done anything differently had she known the pure power she possessed in her ability? i'm not so sure.

fave quote: "She was right. We had to savor moments granted us, for this one summer past childhood and before womanhood. If that meant scandalous gowns and tipping our lashes at boys, then so be it." (117 | 305 Nook)

fix er up: more details would have been greatly appreciated by this reader!

title: The Vespertine
author: Saundra Mitchell
publisher: Harcourt Children's Books
drop date: March 7, 2011
genre: Historical Fiction, Fantasy
buy this book: Amazon | Barnes &Noble | Borders | Harcourt

[ftc notice: i received a digital copy of this book via NetGalley with the approval of Harcourt Children's Books. i did not receive any compensation for this review.]

add it to the list (5)

inspired by Kristi's meme In My Mailbox, at The Story Siren, here are some books i've added to my ever growing pile of books to read this week.

all of these books were downloaded from the Simon & Schuster Galley Grab.

Author: Deb Caletti
Drop Date: April 5, 2011

Clara’s relationship with Christian is intense from the start, and like nothing she’s ever experienced before. But what starts as devotion quickly becomes obsession, and it’s almost too late before Clara realizes how far gone Christian is—and what he’s willing to do to make her stay.
Now Clara has left the city—and Christian—behind. No one back home has any idea where she is, but she still struggles to shake off her fear. She knows Christian won’t let her go that easily, and that no matter how far she runs, it may not be far enough....

Author: Elizabeth Scott
Drop Date: May 24, 2011

Abby accepted that she can’t measure up to her beautiful, magnetic sister Tess a long time ago, and knows exactly what she is: Second best. Invisible. 

Until the accident. 

Now Tess is in a coma, and Abby’s life is on hold. It may have been hard living with Tess, but it's nothing compared to living without her. 

She's got a plan to bring Tess back though, involving the gorgeous and mysterious Eli, but then Abby learns something about Tess, something that was always there, but that she’d never seen. 

Abby is about to find out that truth isn't always what you think it is, and that life holds more than she ever thought it could...

Incredibly Alice
Author: Phyllis Reynolds Naylor
Drop Date: May 10, 2011

Get ready to start your own incredible, amazing life…right?
Alice McKinley is standing on the edge of something new—and half afraid she might fall off. Graduation is a big deal—that gauntlet of growing up that requires everyone she’s known since forever to make huge decisions that will fling them here and there and far from home. But what if Alice wants to be that little dandelion seed that doesn’t scatter? What if she doesn’t have the heart to fly off into the horizon on the next big breeze? And what if that starts to make her feel like staying close to home means she’s a little less incredible than her friends—and her boyfriend Patrick?
Sometimes the bravest thing you can do is be honest with yourself—and sometimes the most incredible thing you can do is sneak a little fun into all this soul-searching.

Author: Caro King
Drop Date: April 2, 2009

Nin had never liked Wednesdays, but this one took the biscuit. On this Wednesday she woke up to find that it was raining buckets and that her brother had ceased to exist. Ninevah realises she is the only person to remember Toby because whoever took him is about to make her disappear too. Enter Skerridge the Bogeyman, who steals kids for Mr. Strood. With his spindle, he draws all memories of Nin out of her mother's head. Nin escapes to the Drift, the world that her new friend Jonas and Mr. Strood inhabit. But the Drift is filled with the fabulous and the dreadful; tombfolk, mudmen, and the spirits of the seven sorcerers who once ruled the land. What is the secret of the Seven Sorcerers, and will Nin and Toby escape their fate at the House of Strood?

Author: Jennifer Bradbury
Drop Date: May 24, 2011

Agnes Wilkins is standing in front of an Egyptian mummy, about to make the first cut into the wrappings, about to unlock ancient (and not-so-ancient) history.

Maybe you think this girl is wearing a pith helmet with antique dust swirling around her.
Maybe you think she is a young Egyptologist who has arrived in Cairo on camelback.
Maybe she would like to think that too. Agnes Wilkins dreams of adventures that reach beyond the garden walls, but reality for a seventeen-year-old debutante in 1815 London does not allow for camels—or dust, even. No, Agnes can only see a mummy when she is wearing a new silk gown and standing on the verdant lawns of Lord Showalter’s estate, with chaperones fussing about and strolling sitar players straining to create an exotic “atmosphere” for the first party of the season. An unwrapping.
This is the start of it all, Agnes’s debut season, the pretty girl parade that offers only ever-shrinking options: home, husband, and high society. It’s also the start of something else, because the mummy Agnes unwraps isn’t just a mummy. It’s a host for a secret that could unravel a new destiny—unleashing mystery, an international intrigue, and possibly a curse in the bargain.
Get wrapped up in the adventure . . . but keep your wits about you, dear Agnes.

surprising teenage insight

class of 2k11 has up a pretty sweet survey results from a group of teens talking about their YA preferences. some of the answers might surprise you.

as for me, i was surprised to read that they don't necessarily use the interwebs to follow up with authors.

curious? check it out here.

thanks to Class of 2k11 for sharing this survey!

cthulhu goodness

if you have an ereader, you're in luck.  you can download the complete works of H.P. Lovecraft for your Nook or Kindle!

check it out, yo! http://cthulhuchick.com/free-complete-lovecraft-ebook-nook-kindle/

Review: Revolver by Marcus Sedgwick

in a sentence or so: Sig is alone in his cabin. he's been left to deal with his dead father on the kitchen table, his missing sister and step-mother, and the big and brutish man who's come demanding something Sig can't deliver.

when Sig's dad didn't come home, they knew something was wrong. one glance at the small brown mass across the frozen lake covered in fresh snow told them all they needed to know. Sig's father had fallen through the ice, pulled himself out, and froze to death surrounded by work papers and loyal sled dogs.  after helping Sig carry the body home, his sister Anna and stepmother Nadya left to find help in the neighboring town. Sig's left alone with his father's body and before he can even figure out what to do next, there's a man at the door. a tall, broad, hairy, smelly, and demanding man named Gunther Wolff who wants to speak with Sig's father about some missing gold he's owed and he's not going anywhere until he gets it. the problem is, 16 year old Sig has no idea what he's talking about and no one to protect him.

the tension between Wolff and Sig builds as Sig continues to have unsatisfactory answers for Wolff. Sig doesn't know what to say about hidden gold, being on the run, or what Wolff expects him to do about it. but Wolff wants answers. and if Sig's dad isn't there to provide them, who will?

the current tension in 1910 between Sig and Wolff alternates with the background events in 1899 when Sig's dad and Wolff knew each other. we slowly piece together the puzzle of what Wolff wants. Sig is challenged by his conscience, staying true to his values, and trying to survive. it's a difficult balance to maintain. maybe even impossible.

i appreciated exploring some Big Questions through Sig's story.  knowing what his parents would want of him, what they would expect of him, but also trying to survive in an extreme circumstance provide some serious moral dilemmas. Sig often reflects on the faithfulness of his mother and her recital of the Bible in contrast with his father's instruction on how to use a colt revolver. Sig has a battle on two fronts - his one with the man in front of him holding him hostage in his own home, and the one within himself. between two parents. between peace and aggression.

this didn't feel as YA to me as i would have liked. more like an adult book using young characters. very reflective, which was nice for personal pondering...but no vernacular. i mean, surely a Finish teen from 1910 has some peculiar phrases. the conclusion does clear this up a bit - though i won't spoil it by sharing. still, i would have liked an authentic feeling teenage voice.

though i do see the connection between the title and the plot, Revolver was more of a mystery to me than a story on whether or not Sig should/could/would use the revolver with Wolff.  the scenery and setting were absolutely vivid. i can picture exactly what the cabin, the frozen lake, the tall trees thick with snow, and the hairy face of Gunther Wolff.  i can also sense the raw fear that Wolff brings with him. seriously, that is one scary dude.

Revolver gave me much to think about. i expect it will do the same for you.

fave quote: "'A gun is not a weapon,' Einar once said to Sig. 'It's an answer. It's an answer to the questions life throws at you when there's no one else to help.' Sig hadn't understood what he meant by that. Not then.'" (8)

fix er up: i would have LOVED to experience this read with a first person narrator voice. i think it could have added some serious depth and the unique voice i was craving.

title: Revolver
author: Marcus Sedgwick
genre: Historical Fiction, Survival
publisher: Roaring Book Press
buy the book: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Borders 

[FTC notice: i received a copy of this book for review from the publisher, but not for compensation or anything.]

tbr tuesday (1)

the following lovely ladies have inspired this new meme for me - inspired by "a peek at my TBR" by Jen at Makeshift Bookmark, "Waiting on Wednesday" by Jill at Breaking the Spine and "Books to Pine For" by Kristi at The Story Siren.

here's a look at two books i have sitting in my To Be Read pile. i don't necessarily own these books, but they are books i intend to get around to reading soon!

A Game of Thrones
author: George R.R. Martin

In a land where summers can last decades and winters a lifetime, trouble is brewing. The cold is returning, and in the frozen wastes to the north of Winterfell, sinister and supernatural forces are massing beyond the kingdom's protective wall. At the center of the conflict lie the Starks of Winterfell, a family as harsh and unyielding as the land they were born to. Sweeping from a land of brutal cold to a distant summertime kingdom of epicurean plenty, here is a tale of lords and ladies, soldiers and sorcerers, assassins and bastards, who come together in a time of grim omens. Amid plots and counterplots, tragedy and betrayal, victory and terror, the fate of the Starks, their allies, and their enemies hangs perilously in the balance, as each endeavors to win that deadliest of conflicts: the game of thrones. 

so i've been hearing a LOT about this lately. with the mini-series coming up on HBO the buzz about this book is all over the internet! particularly, the geeky places i peep.  and then Andrew (hubs) is reading the series and so he's all into them and watching the clips from the upcoming series too. AND i have yet to hear anything bad about these books anywhere. so, there you are. i want to start the series and at least finish the first book before it starts.

author: Tim Tharp

The Spectacular Now perfectly juxtaposes hilarity and tragedy in the character of Sutter, a high school senior with a bevy of generous and caring ex-girlfriends, a desire to help those in need, a careless charm, and an insistence on being the life and soul of the party. With so much to recommend him, it's easy to overlook how often he's drunk. Written with pitch-perfect voice, honesty, joy, and humor, we almost don't realize how deeply we’ve sunk into Sutter’s world until we close the book.

i first heard about this book in 2008 when it finished as a finalist for the National Book Award.  it sounds like a John Green-ish type novel with a male lead i can totally dig, but with a twist. the idea that Sutter, the main character, is obviously flawed from the start intrigues me and there seems to be some mystery/suspense elements lurking around the edges. 

Review: Pride and Prejudice and Zombies: Dreadfully Ever After by Steve Hockensmith

in a sentence or so: Elizabeth, Mr. Bennet and the unmarried Bennet sisters are off to London to get a cure for the recently zombie-bitten Fitzwilliam Darcy.

Elizabeth and Darcy are four years into their marriage, and quite frankly, things could be better. Elizabeth Bennet is anxious for the days of slicing of zed-heads with her katana, but as a married woman that is simply not done. Darcy, without any clue as to what could possibly be ailing his dearest, tries to broach the subject and is attacked by a freshly turned adolescent unmentionable. they both know the right thing to do is to lop of Darcy's head, but neither can bear to finish the deed. soon, Lady Catherine promises a cure in London - but at quite a price.

Elizabeth, Kitty, Mary, and Mr. B are to head to London to woo the Doctor and Son who have the cure. of course, the great Lady Catherine doesn't trust the Bennets on their own, so she orders an escort of ninjas to act as their guide...and protectors.  with the unmentionables spreading throughout London, the re-coronation of the King, and zero access to the hospital where the cure is housed, getting the cure is a more difficult task than any of them had imagined. will they get the cure in time to save Mr. Darcy? and if they do, will he still want Elizabeth back once he finds out how she had obtained the cure?

the blend of romance, mystery, and sweet ninja action is back again in this fun conclusion to the P&P&Z series. the novel alternates between several narrators - chiefly Mary, Kitty, Elizabeth and Mr. Darcy. Mr. Darcy has his own adventures back at the de Bourgh estate with cousin Anne, crazy aunt Catherine, and a suspicious dojo while the ladies are off in London trying to save him from undeath.

i appreciated the chance to hear Mary and Kitty's voices and have their own stories unfolding. their own awkward discoveries of first love in the midst of secret missions and killing zombies were super fun to read.  a solid conclusion to the series, and one that i shall surely read again when i'm in the mood for a classic with a zombie-infested twist.

fave quote: "...and it was heaven...even if she was standing in the spilled innards of a disemboweled dreadful." (pg 217)

fix er up: i was disappointed that Georgiana, who was mentioned in the beginning and seemingly had some mysterious plot action was totally abandoned until the end. not that there wasn't enough going on without her, of course...just felt weird.

title: Pride and Prejudice and Zombies: Dreadfully Ever After
author: Steve Hockensmith
genre: zombie, historical fiction
publisher: Quirk Books
drop date: March 22, 2011

related links:
Pride and Prejudice and Zombies
Pride and Prejudice and Zombies: Dawn of the Dreadfuls
Quirk Books
Quirk Twitter
Steve Hockensmith Twitter
Buy Dreadfully Ever After at Amazon | Barnes and Noble | Borders | Indiebound

in related news, the folks at Quirk are doing kind of a cool giveaway.
like the book on Facebook and you're automatically entered to win one a Dreadful Antidote pendant. good luck!

[ftc notice: Quirk Books was awesome enough to send me a free review copy of this book, but not for compensation or anything like that. we value our friendship too much for such things.]

catan geekery

the hubs found a silly article at Dorkly.com, musing on what actual tourism ads for Catan might be like.

my fave was this one:

although, this is a close second:

full article here
Settlers of Catan is a board game you should be playing.

add it to the list (4)

inspired by In My Mailbox at The Story Siren, here are some books i've added to my list this week. and by added to my list, i mean books i've actually obtained - not just to my wishlist. i'd be posting on the daily if i were sharing everything i'm adding to my wishlist (too much).

books from NetGalley

Nerd Girls
Author: Alan Lawrence Sitomer
Publisher: Disney-Hyperion
Drop Date: July 5, 2011

Maureen, a thirteen-year-old self-proclaimed dork-a-saurus, is totally addicted to cupcakes and hot dogs and thinks that her body looks like a baked potato. Allergy-plagued Alice can't touch a mango without breaking out in a rash, and if she eats wheat, her vision goes blurry. Klutzy to the extreme, Barbara is a beanpole who often embarrasses herself in front of the whole school. These outcasts don't have much in common--other than the fact that they are often targets of the ThreePees: the Pretty, Popular, Perfect girls who rule the school.  
But one day Maureen discovers that the ThreePees are planning to sit next to Allergy Alice in the cafeteria and eat peanut-butter-and-banana sandwiches on whole wheat toast with mango marmalade for lunch. And Maureen decides that it's time to topple the eight-grade social regime. She joins forces with Alice and Barbara and the Nerd Girls enter the school talent show, determined to take the crown from the ThreePees. Will their routine be enough to de-throne the popular crowd? Or will their plan backfire and shake their hold on the bottom rung of the social ladder?

The Goddess Test
Author: Aimee Carter
Publisher: Harlequin Teen
Drop Date: April 19, 2011

Every girl who has taken the test has died.

Now it's Kate's turn.

It's always been just Kate and her mom--and now her mother is dying. Her last wish? To move back to her childhood home. So Kate's going to start at a new school with no friends, no other family and the fear her mother won't live past the fall. 

Then she meets Henry. Dark. Tortured. And mesmerizing. He claims to be Hades, god of the Underworld--and if she accepts his bargain, he'll keep her mother alive while Kate tries to pass seven tests. 

Kate is sure he's crazy--until she sees him bring a girl back from the dead. Now saving her mother seems crazily possible. If she succeeds, she'll become Henry's future bride, and a goddess. 

If she fails...

Girl Wonder
Author: Alexa Martin
Publisher: Disney-Hyperion
Drop Date: May 3, 2011

As if transferring senior year weren't hard enough, Charlotte Locke has been bumped to lower level classes at her new school. With no friends, a terrible math SAT score, and looming college application deadlines, the future is starting to seem like an oncoming train for which she has no ticket.
Then Amanda enters her orbit like a hot-pink meteor, offering Charlotte a ticket to something else: popularity. Amanda is fearless, beautiful, brilliant, and rich. As her new side kick, Charlotte is brought into the elite clique of the debate team—and closer to Neal, Amanda's equally brilliant friend and the most perfect boy Charlotte has ever seen.
But just when senior year is looking up, Charlotte’s life starts to crumble. The more things heat up between Charlotte and Neal, the more Neal wants to hide their relationship. Is he ashamed? Meanwhile, Amanda is starting to act strangely competitive, and she's keeping a secret Charlotte doesn't want to know.
Talented newcomer Alexa Martin delivers a poignant story of first love, jealousy and friendship, where the ups and downs of senior year have never been so complicated. What else can Charlotte do but throw her hands up and ride?

books from Publishers

The American Heiress
Author: Daisy Goodwin
Publisher: St. Martin's Press
Drop Date: June 2011

Beautiful, vivacious Cora Cash, the wealthiest debutante in America, is spirited away from the glamour and comfort of her Park Avenue mansion and suddenly finds herself Duchess of Wareham, mistress of Lulworth Castle, married to Ivo, the most eligible bachelor in England. As Cora is soon to discover, nothing in this strange new world is quite as it seems. Her handsome new husband is withdrawn and secretive; the English social scene is stuffed with pitfalls and traps; and there are increasingly dangerous forces at work, people who wish she'd never met Ivo in the first place. THE AMERICAN HEIRESS is a dazzling debut novel from Daisy Goodwin, whose brilliant new voice is reminiscent of Henry James, Edith Wharton, and Kate Morton.

Author: Malinda Lo
Publisher: Little, Brown books for Young People
Drop Date: April 5, 2011

Nature is out of balance in the human world. The sun hasn't shone in years, and crops are failing. Worse yet, strange and hostile creatures have begun to appear. The people's survival hangs in the balance.
To solve the crisis, the oracle stones are cast, and Kaede and Taisin, two seventeen-year-old girls, are picked to go on a dangerous and unheard-of journey to Tanlili, the city of the Fairy Queen. Taisin is a sage, thrumming with magic, and Kaede is of the earth, without a speck of the otherworldly. And yet the two girls' destinies are drawn together during the mission. As members of their party succumb to unearthly attacks and fairy tricks, the two come to rely on each other and even begin to fall in love. But the Kingdom needs only one huntress to save it, and what it takes could tear Kaede and Taisin apart forever.
The exciting adventure prequel to Malinda Lo's highly acclaimed novel Ash is overflowing with lush Chinese influences and details inspired by the I Ching, and is filled with action and romance.

Review: Gentlemen by Michael Northrop

in a sentence or so: Micheal, Tommy, Mixer and Bones are that group of rough-around-the-edges, nothing goes right for them, and (quite frankly) a bit scary type of guys. when Tommy goes missing in the middle of the school day, they assume he got detention for flipping his desk in class. but then when their english teacher starts stirring up some seriously intense discussion over the next few days, their minds start to wonder if Tommy is missing, or something more...

Mixer is the one who can read others moods. he can smooth out a potentially hairy situation, or he can screw with someone without giving them cause for retaliation. Bones is the hothead with a history of beating the snot out of people and packs an overall dodgey past. Micheal is normal enough, except for that messed up left eye of his and unfortunately misspelled name. Tommy was the one who brought them all together; the common thread. he complimented each of their quirks with his own brand of balance.  it isn't necessarily unusual for Tommy to go missing - he's done that before. but what is unusual is their English teacher, Mr. Haberman, brings in a barrel with unknown contents the same afternoon that Tommy falls off the radar. a barrel that's really heavy. a barrel with contents that Mr. Haberman won't reveal. Micheal starts to wonder why Mr. Haberman is having such bizarre discussions with them in class about murder, guilt, and accomplices. and why is Mr. Haberman gone on the day that the police come by to investigate Tommy's disappearance?

the three boys try to piece together what happened to Tommy while skirting around their suspicions. these are serious accusations, they realize, but they can't shake the feeling that something is going on that they can't quite figure out.

from the very start, i loved Micheal's voice. the first person perspective intensified the emotions and allowed me to connect to the story immediately.  flowing between formal quoted dialog and conversational interactions, you become Micheal's confidant in a way and you realize that your position is jaded, you're getting more information than you know what to do with (just like Micheal), but at the same time maybe you're not getting the right pieces of information to put it all together.

Gentlemen is unapologetically gritty and raw. that's not to say that it's intense merely for intensity's sake. the characters and the brief back stories are all necessary and vital to the overall plot development...it's just not pretty. these 15 year old boys have seen a lot in their short lives and being social outcasts certainly isn't helping matters. things don't go their way, things just don't get better, and things don't turn out the way they hope. which, of course, makes for some seriously good literature.

i blew through this book in a night. like i said, i was all about Micheal's voice. so combine that with a mystery, shady back stories, and an incredibly twisty and anxiety-inducing plot...you've got yourself a solid read, my friends.

fave quote: "Grayson raised his eyebrows and made a little whistle sound, which most of us thought was pretty funny. Grayson was the coolest teacher we had, which was kind of like being the best-smelling fart but still." (8-9)

fix er up: i honestly could have read about these boys forever. i think the length was perfect for what Northrop was trying to do, but for real - i want more of Micheal's voice telling me about things.

title: Gentlemen
author: Michael Northrop
publisher: Scholastic Press
genre: Contemporary, Edgy, Mystery
drop date: April 2009
buy the book: Amazon | Barnes and Noble | Borders | Scholastic

[ftc notice: i got this book from my local library and reviewed it without compensation of any kind. yay libraries!]

Review: Excalibur: The Legend of King Arthur by Tony Lee and Sam Hart

in a sentence or so: Albion is at war and Arthur knows he is destined to unite the land. the problem is, there are many who stand in his way - purposefully or unintentionally.

Uther Pendragon makes a deal with the fae of the Unseelie Court that results in the kidnapping of Arthur (for his own safety) and the abduction of Morgana (not for her own safety). Albion is in turmoil as they wait for the once and future king to return and rescue them from craptastic King Ulrich. just when Arthur starts to believe that Merlin was in fact lying about his destiny, that wily wizard pops up and facilitates a showdown between Arthur and Ulrich. winner takes Albion, loser takes death.

i am a huge Arthurian legend geek. i'm pretty sure it started with watching The Sword and the Stone when i was a wee one (i wanted my very own Archimedes SO bad), but whatever the roots - i'm a die-hard. i love reading about the legend of King Arthur and his knights and Camelot and Albion and all that jazz, so i was pretty stoked to get this graphic novel retelling of the story.

i did not expect for there to be so much mention of Avalon, the Seelie and Unseelie courts (light fairies and dark fairies), and the back story of why Morgana is such a nut. however, i was pleasantly surprised to read and see the background of the boy who becomes King.  the bulk of the book focused on leading up to Arthur's death, with very little spent on his time in Camelot. and honestly, i liked that a lot. i felt like i knew enough about the Camelot days (and obviously wouldn't mind reading about them again), so reading and experiencing some of the coming-of-age lore was super fun.

the imagery was a perfect compliment to the story.  i loved the tonal shifts - purple at dusk, orange at daybreak, vivid contrast in Avalon.  you get your basics - Lancelot/Guinevere, Sir Gawain and the Green Knight, The Lady of the Lake, Merlin, Mordred, etc...but to have it delivered to you with intentionally bare-bones dialog and heavy imagery is quite a treat.  the images helped me slow down while reading and absorb the emotions that were developing within the plot. if you're looking for a new way to experience the Arthurian legend, give this a shot.

fix er up: everything ended up a bit too saccharin for my liking. i wanted more death! and revenge! etc!

title: Excalibur: The Legend of King Arthur
author: Tony Lee
illustrator: Sam Hart
genre: Fantasy, Graphic Novel
publisher: Candlewick Press
drop date: March 8, 2011

[ftc notice: i received a copy of this book for review from Candlewick Press, but not for compensation or anything.]

giveaway reminder

one more week to enter into the you-pick-two giveaway!

peep the deets here.

good luck!

graphic novel love

peep some highlighted Graphic Novels dropping this spring, courtesy of SLJ.

also, it has come to pass that i can no longer ignore the nagging feeling that i should give My Boyfriend is a Monster a go. seriously, i've seen it pop up no less than 5 times in the past two weeks in random places. okay universe - i GET it. i'll get it.

author: Evonne Tsang; illustrator: Janina Gorrissen

Can love survive the zombie apocalypse? Maybe Dicey's first chance at a real relationship was dead from the start. She's the star of her high school baseball team, and Jack's the star of the science program. Her idea of a study session includes sleeping in the sun, and his idea of a good game involves dungeons and dice. But opposites start attracting when they're assigned to be partners in a class project. Now an outbreak of a weird infection--it eats your brains and leaves you hungry for more--might not mean just the end of their first date. It might mean the end of everything. Will their relationship fall apart faster than zombies in the Florida sun, or can Dicey and Jack beat the odds and find a happy ending?

sci-fi nerd-fest

for reasons i cannot possibly fathom, i have JUST discovered the awesomeness that is Tor.com.  in addition to general awesomeness, i stumbled upon the following that you might be interested in.

i've totally wanted to read the Wheel of Time series, but i'm openly frightened of the huge commitment.

needless to say, this prompted an audible "ooooooh!" i had zero idea that Macmillan and Tor were buddy buddy.

i found this Futurama: The Video Game video in the "of interest" side links.

needless to say, all of these books are going on my TBR.

okay, i gotta go. i'm totally immersing myself in this amazingly nerdy new discovery.

p.s. i almost DIED with pure joy when i saw someone recommend "The Knife of Never Letting Go" in a forum. this is where i belong.

p.p.s. there was much talk in the forums of The Hunger Games also, which i sheepishly admit i have not read yet.

thanks to Shelf Awareness for name dropping and changing my WORLD.

100 best

i'll admit it - i totally didn't read the assigned books in high school. like, EVER. i was totally into Hank the Cowdog in elementary school, but as soon as we started getting Assigned Reading in middle school, i was done. adult me is HORRIFIED at this truth, but there it is.  for real, the only books i finished in my 4 years of high school were The Great Gatsby and Lord of the Flies.

now, as mentioned seconds earlier, adult me is not pleased with this turn of events. i know i missed out on some serious goodness...and i'm going to change that.

thanks to the 100 best novels list, i've discovered (at least) 5 classic books that i genuinely, honestly, want to read. i'm totally drawing from the user's list, because i feel like it's similar to using blogger review suggestions etc.

by Ralph Ellison

by Harper Lee

by H.P. Lovecraft

by Douglas Adams

by William Faulkner

and just to brag, here are the books off of the 100 best novels i HAVE read. i'm not a total bum, you know.
The Great Gatsby - F. Scott Fitzgerald (loved)
Catcher in the Rye - J.D. Salinger (meh)
Lord of the Flies - William Golding (LOVED)
Beloved - Toni Morrison (loved)
Ender's Game - Orson Scott Card (liked)
Watership Down - Richard Adams (LOVED)

giveaway - you pick two edition

as i've been buying more books, i'm finding less and less place to store them. until i can one day have a library room in my own home (it WILL happen, okay?!), i must make room for my new friends and give the old ones a new home.

and that's where you come in.

you have TWO weeks to pick TWO of these books from my bookshelf. pretty great, huh?

The Usual Rules
by Joyce Maynard

It's a Tuesday morning in Brooklyn—a perfect September day. Wendy is heading to school, eager to make plans with her best friend, worried about how she looks, mad at her mother for not letting her visit her father in California, impatient with her little brother and with the almost too-loving concern of her jazz musician stepfather. She's out the door to catch the bus. An hour later comes the news: A plane has crashed into the World Trade Center—her mother's office building.

Through the eyes of thirteen-year-old Wendy, we gain entrance to the world rarely shown by those who documented the events of that one terrible day: a family's slow and terrible realization that Wendy's mother has died, and their struggle to go on with their lives in the face of such a crushing loss.

by Laura Wiess

They promised Meredith nine years of safety, but only gave her three.
Her father was supposed to be locked up until Meredith turned eighteen. She thought she had time to grow up, get out, and start a new life. But Meredith is only fifteen, and today her father is coming home from prison.
Today her time has run out.

What I Saw and How I Lied (hardcover)
by Judy Blundell

In 1947, with her jovial stepfather Joe back from the war and family life returning to normal, teenage Evie, smitten by the handsome young ex-GI who seems to have a secret hold on Joe, finds herself caught in a complicated web of lies whose devastating outcome change her life and that of her family forever.

by Libba Bray

Sixteen-year-old Gemma has had an unconventional upbringing in India, until the day she foresees her mother's death in a black, swirling vision that turns out to be true. Sent back to England, she is enrolled at Spence, a girls' academy with a mysterious burned-out East Wing. There Gemma is snubbed by powerful Felicity, beautiful Pippa, and even her own dumpy roommate Ann, until she blackmails herself and Ann into the treacherous clique. Gemma is distressed to find that she has been followed from India by Kartik, a beautiful young man who warns her to fight off the visions. Nevertheless, they continue, and one night she is led by a child-spirit to find a diary that reveals the secrets of a mystical Order. The clique soon finds a way to accompany Gemma to the other-world realms of her visions "for a bit of fun" and to taste the power they will never have as Victorian wives, but they discover that the delights of the realms are overwhelmed by a menace they cannot control. Gemma is left with the knowledge that her role as the link between worlds leaves her with a mission to seek out the "others" and rebuild the Order.

by Alyson Noel

Since a horrible accident claimed the lives of her family, sixteen-year-old Ever can see auras, hear people’s thoughts, and know a person’s life story by touch.   Going out of her way to shield herself from human contact to suppress her abilities has branded her as a freak at her new high school—but everything changes when she meets Damen Auguste… 

Ever sees Damen and feels an instant recognition.  He is gorgeous, exotic and wealthy, and he holds many secrets.  Damen is able to make things appear and disappear, he always seems to know what she’s thinking—and he’s the only one who can silence the noise and the random energy in her head.  She doesn’t know who he really is—or what he is.  Damen equal parts light and darkness, and he belongs to an enchanted new world where no one ever dies.

fill out the form below to enter. winner will be announced via email on March 24. contest for US residents only. (i'm broke, yo)

good luck!

(update: contest closed)

moleskine fever

you have no idea how excited i am about this.

that's right. it's a Moleskine line of bags, pens, pencils and other NECESSARY accessories.

thanks to Shelf Awareness for making me pee my pants and spill my coffee with extreme overreacting today at work.

Moleskine RULES.
Shelf Awareness also rules.

bad reviews aren't a bad thing

i try to be nice. i really do. that doesn't mean i don't think unkind things - just that i try not to voice them too often. this is also true with my book reviews. i am always 100% honest with my reviews, don't get me wrong. but if there is a book i just don't like, or can't finish, i won't write a review. instead, i try to find another outlet for the book - such as another reader, back to the publisher, or to the library.

but then i read this article today from author Justine Larbalestier on her blog that gave me a new perspective on the whole bad review thing...

"You do not have to be nice about a book you hate.
However, I also want to say that it’s not our place to say so. Reviews are not for authors. They’re not even about authors. You do not need our permission to write about our books. Because once they’re published they cease to be ours.
Reviews are for other readers. A review is about a particular reader’s relationship with a particular book. And if you happen to trust that particular reviewer’s taste they’re a great way to find books you want to read or books you should avoid."

she goes on to say other profound, hilarious, and generally awesome things for the rest of the post.
anyway, it totally gave me a fresh perspective on the negative review thing and i wanted to share that with other reviewers/critiquers/bloggers out there.
full article here
i originally found the article through Scott Westerfield's twitter. thanks, technology!
more by Bookshelves of Doom here.

nerds, unite! and then vote!

don't forget that today is the last day to nominate a lesser known (yet still AWESOME) Young Adult book for Nerds Heart YA.

nominate away!

nomination form.
Nerds Heart YA.
more deets.

Review: The Atomic Weight of Secrets or The Arrival of the Mysterious Men in Black by Eden Unger Bowditch

in a sentence or so: without warning, five brilliant children are taken from their scientist parents by some very strange men wearing very strange black outfits and are left wondering where their parents are, how they can get back to them, and most importantly - do their parents even want to be found?

Jasper, Lucy, Faye, Wallace and Noah aren't your typical kids from 1903. turns out they're quite brilliant. you could argue it's good genes, given that their parents are all brilliant scientists...or it could be that they are just inventive, creative, and clever kids. either way, they are just like your run of the mill kiddo when it comes to the love and trust they place in their parents. that trust is painfully questioned when they all end up at the Sole Manor House. the kids realize that they all arrived under similar circumstances - the very oddly dressed men in black took them from their parents, dropped them off with a nanny in Dayton, Ohio, and provided absolutely no explanation.

two things are for certain: the kids want to be with their parents and they want some answers. since none of their nannies or their teacher, Miss Brett, can explain anything, they'll have to combine their little genius brains to get to the bottom of what's going on. while the kids hatch a plan of escape, they begin to discover pieces of their parents past and are surprised to find there was much they didn't know about them.

i loved the individuality of each character. Jasper the leader, Lucy the observing and unabashedly caring youngest, Faye the spoiled beauty, Wallace the square-peg-in-the-round-hole, and Noah the funny man. through flashback chapters, we slowly learn about each of their pasts and their arrival to the Sole Manor House as well as their familial history. through these back stories we gain insight into their characters that compliment their roles in the escape plan.  coming together isn't easy for these kids, but they know it's crucial to work as a team if they have any hope of finding their parents again.

i appreciated the dualism that drove this book. with the dual title being the most obvious example, each chapter has a primary and secondary title. for example: "The Soprano's Son or Noah Shares Someone Fit for a King". see! how cool is that?  mostly, i appreciated the dualism with the kids. obviously being brilliant gives them a capacity to grasp complex concepts and problem solve like the most clever of adults, but being children means that they still have the needs, wants, and desires of kids. they spend hours in the lab creating compounds and designing engineering wonders, but they still want the hugs and kisses of a mother with a bedtime story. the complexity of their characters made connecting with this read a breeze. in a way, the book reminded me of The Chronicles of Narnia (which is a HUGE compliment) in the intricate child characters dealing with problems that are so big and so overwhelming in an absolutely realistic and emotional way.

this read grew on me with each chapter, with each new discovery, and with each freaky plot twist. i didn't realize this was the first in a series, so i was a bit curious how everything was going to wrap up. surprisingly, we do get a solid amount of resolution to tie up some loose ends while the Larger Questions wait to be explored in the next book. this was clever, creative, and stretched the imagination.

fave quote: "Mostly, they learned that, however unsure they were about the rest of the world, and however much they didn't fit in with most teachers and students, they were sure Miss Brett cared, they had each other, and they were all in this together." (131)

fix er up: this started a bit slow for me, but once i committed to reading a few chapters at a time, i couldn't put it down.

title: The Atomic Weight of Secrets or The Arrival of the Mysterious Men in Black
author: Eden Unger Bowditch
genre: Historical Fiction, Fantasy
publisher: Bancroft Press
drops: March 15, 2011

[ftc notice: i received this book via NetGalley with approval from Bancroft Press for review, but not for  compensation or anything.]

add it to the list (3)

inspired by The Story Siren and her In My Mailbox meme, here's what i've added to my ever-growing TBR this week - either by win, purchase, or by awesome publishers.

books i won this week...

author: Cate Tiernan
publisher: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
won from: Bart's Bookshelf (thanks, man!)

Nastasya has spent the last century living as a spoiled, drugged-out party girl. She feels nothing and cares for no one. But when she witnesses her best friend, a Dark Immortal, torture a human, she realizes something's got to change. She seeks refuge at a rehab for wayward immortals, where she meets the gorgeous, undeniably sexy Reyn, who seems inexplicably linked to her past.
Nastasya finally begins to deal with life, and even feels safe--until the night she learns that someone wants her dead.
Cate Tiernan, author of the popular Sweep series, returns with an engaging story of a timeless struggle and inescapable romance, the first book in a stunning new fantasy trilogy.

books i bought at the local indie bookstore...

King Arthur and his Knights of the Round Table
author: Roger Lancelyn Green
publisher: Puffin Classics

King Arthur is one of the greatest legends of all time. From the magical moment when Arthur releases the sword in the stone to the quest for the Holy Grail and the final tragedy of the Last Battle, Roger Lancelyn Green brings the enchanting world of King Arthur stunningly to life. One of the greatest legends of all time, with an inspiring introduction by David Almond, award-winning author of "Clay", "Skellig", "Kit's Wilderness", and "The Fire-Eaters".

author: L.M. Montgomery
publisher: Puffin Classics

When Anne Shirley arrives at Green Gables farm on Prince Edward Island, she surprises everyone: first of all, she is a girl. Marilla Cuthbert and her brother, Matthew, had specifically asked for an orphan boy. She has bright red hair that won't manage and a mouth that won't shut. Nothing will ever be the same at Green Gables!
A favorite story of generations of girls ever since it was first published in 1908, Lucy Maud Montgomery's classic story of one girl's profound effect on a small Canadian community has stayed in print for nearly one hundred years and has been made into a popular TV series and even a musical.

books i bought for the nook...

author: Kimberly Derting
publisher: HarperCollins

Violet Ambrose is grappling with two major issues: Jay Heaton and her morbid secret ability. While the sixteen-year-old is confused by her new feelings for her best friend since childhood, she is more disturbed by her "power" to sense dead bodies—or at least those that have been murdered. Since she was a little girl, she has felt the echoes the dead leave behind in the world . . . and the imprints that attach to their killers.
Violet has never considered her strange talent to be a gift; it mostly just led her to find dead birds her cat left for her. But now that a serial killer is terrorizing her small town, and the echoes of the local girls he's claimed haunt her daily, Violet realizes she might be the only person who can stop him.
Despite his fierce protectiveness over her, Jay reluctantly agrees to help Violet find the murderer—and Violet is unnerved by her hope that Jay's intentions are much more than friendly. But even as she's falling intensely in love, Violet is getting closer and closer to discovering a killer . . . and becoming his prey herself.

books i received for review...

author: Steve Hockensmith
publisher: Quirk
drops: March 22, 2011

Pride and Prejudice and Zombies and its prequel, Dawn of the Dreadfuls, were both New York Times best sellers, with a combined 1.3 million copies in print. Now the PPZ trilogy comes to a thrilling conclusion with Pride and Prejudice and Zombies: Dreadfully Ever After.
The story opens with our newly married protagonists, Elizabeth and Fitzwilliam Darcy, defending their village from an army of flesh-eating “unmentionables.” But the honeymoon has barely begun when poor Mr. Darcy is nipped by a rampaging dreadful. Elizabeth knows the proper course of action is to promptly behead her husband (and then burn the corpse, just to be safe). But when she learns of a miracle antidote under development in London, she realizes there may be one last chance to save her true love—and for everyone to live happily ever after.

Leviathan Wakes
author: James S.A. Corey
publisher: Orbit Books
drops: June 2011

Welcome to the future. Humanity has colonized the solar system – Mars, the Moon, the Asteroid Belt and beyond – but the stars are still out of our reach.

Jim Holden is XO of an ice miner making runs from the rings of Saturn to the mining stations of the Belt. When he and his crew stumble upon a derelict ship, The Scopuli, they find themselves in possession of a secret they never wanted. A secret that someone is willing to kill for – and kill on a scale unfathomable to Jim and his crew. War is brewing in the system unless he can find out who left the ship and why.

Detective Miller is looking for a girl. One girl in a system of billions, but her parents have money and money talks. When the trail leads him to The Scopuli and rebel sympathizer, Holden, he realizes that this girl may be the key to everything.

Holden and Miller must thread the needle between the Earth government, the Outer Planet revolutionaries, and secretive corporations – and the odds are against them. But out in the Belt, the rules are different, and one small ship can change the fate of the universe.

The Dragon's Path
author: Daniel Abraham
publisher: Orbit Books
drops: April 2011

Summer is the season of war in the Free Cities.

Marcus wants to get out before the fighting starts. His hero days are behind him and simple caravan duty is better than getting pressed into service by the local gentry. Even a small war can get you killed. But a captain needs men to lead -- and his have been summarily arrested and recruited for their swords.

Cithrin has a job to do -- move the wealth of a nation across a war zone. An orphan raised by the bank, she is their last hope of keeping the bank's wealth out of the hands of the invaders. But she's just a girl and knows little of caravans, war, and danger. She knows money and she knows secrets, but will that be enough to save her in the coming months?

Geder, the only son of a noble house is more interested in philosophy than swordplay. He is a poor excuse for a soldier and little more than a pawn in these games of war. But not even he knows what he will become of the fires of battle. Hero or villain? Small men have achieved greater things and Geder is no small man.

Falling pebbles can start a landslide. What should have been a small summer spat between gentlemen is spiraling out of control. Dark forces are at work, fanning the flames that will sweep the entire region onto The Dragon's Path -- the path of war.