height=  height=  height=

Heroines with Heart: Familiar Origins

Today I'm interviewing an author of a rad YA series about DRAGONS thanks to Heroines with Heart.

Heroines With Heart is a massive blog tour that runs throughout 2013, that features books with strong female protagonists. We have authors from several different genres, including young adult, mystery/thriller/suspense, romance, sci-fi/fantasy, and Christian fiction. We are also giving away fun digital prizes and sharing new and noteworthy books throughout the year. Want updates?

For readers: http://heroineswithheart.com/attendees/
For bloggers: http://heroineswithheart.com/for-bloggers/
For authors: http://authors.heroineswithheart.com/

Eight children, powerful enough to annihilate the vulnerable world in which they live, are wanted by a small but elite group of dragons. Some dragons are good, some are not, but they all have the same goal: To find these children, bond them, and use them as pawns in their ever-enduring conflict.

And now, for me to ask B. Pine about DRAGONS. And other stuff of course. But mostly it's about dragons.

1. Dragons are the coolest magical creatures ever (obviously), but how did you go about researching them and building lore for your book?
I have always loved dragons. There are so many different interpretations of dragons throughout the world. My favorite dragon story is St. George and the Dragon, and I have a preference for the European medieval dragons. So when I create dragon characters, I develop them based on information gathered from role-playing materials and sword-and-sorcery fables. But the cool thing about dragons is that there are no rules as to what they can or cannot be. They don’t even have to be magical if that is what you want.

2. Tell us more about the dragons in Familiar Origins and what makes them special, unique, and particularly awesome.
The dragons in Familiar Origins are superior to humans in intellect, magical power, evolution, and spirituality. They consume resources in order to live, but they have different opinions as to how to acquire these resources. As a perfect example, some dragons want to take over the human’s world for its abundant energy, and other dragons feel that the human world belongs to the humans, and as such is sacred. This conflicting philosophy and the resulting struggle between the two factions of dragons is the premise of the entire saga.

3. In Familiar Origins, there are 8 humans that are destined to bond with Dragons. What makes those 8 humans so special?
Basically each of the eight humans has an ideal combination of magical power, strength, and affinity in a specific field of magic. This combination allows them to form a connection with a certain type of dragon. Both humans and dragons learn more about this bond as the saga progresses.

4. I know this is the first in a series, but how much resolution do we get before the end of this book?
Familiar Origins is essentially an introduction to a group of heroes and heroines. They are just beginning their lives in the first book. And there is so much more to the saga than just their time as students, so I cannot say that there is much resolution in the first book. What you do take away from Familiar Origins is that most of the heroes in question have befriended each other, proven themselves worthy, and are certain to share a common destiny.

5. Which character in Familiar Origins do you connect the most with, and why?
That is such a hard question. I love them all, of course. There are some that I like writing about more than others, and there are some that I just really love how they are developing. But as far as connection, I would have to say Rohen, because of how resilient his character is, and how despite all the tragedy he has suffered, and the pain and fear he carries within, he can still be warm and friendly and even silly sometimes. I just can’t help but feel attached to him.

There you have it! A bit more about Familiar Origins and about the author too. Sounds pretty rad, huh?

Thanks again to B. Pine for answering my questions and indulging my fangirlishness over dragons and the like!

B. Pine is an award-winning fantasy and science fiction author who keeps her days full by writing, gardening, reading and raising her little ones. She is an avid reader of fantasy, science fiction, and vampire novels, particularly stories with backgrounds based on medieval culture from Western Europe and England, where she lived for four years. Her passion for writing was born after taking a college course in creative writing. She graduated from the University of Maryland and Wilmington University with degrees in Business Management and Accounting, respectively. Her debut novel, Familiar Origins, has won two Royal Dragonfly Book Awards, and her Draca Wards series will be continued in 2013. She also has a short story published in The Imperium Saga: Anthology with fellow authors from Silver Leaf Books, LLC. She is currently working on the next installment of her fantasy saga. Also, visit her at http://dracawards.com

Review: The Scorpio Races by Maggie Stiefvater

Title: The Scorpio Races
Author: Maggie Stiefvater
Pub deets: October 2011, Scholastic
Source: Borrowed from Hannah at So Obsessed With
Challenges: TBR Challenge

Amazon | Goodreads | Author Blog | Author Twitter

In a sentence or so: Sean races to win and to remind himself that he belongs on the island. Puck races to save her house and possibly her family. Only one person can win the race of the water horses, though many will die in the attempt.

Kate ‘Puck’ Connolly has always lived on the island. It’s in her bones. Even after the water horses killed her parents in a boating accident, Puck can’t imagine living anywhere else. The same cannot be said for her older brother, however, who plans on moving from the island. Puck thinks she can stop him, or at least delay him, by signing up as the first girl ever to race.

Sean Kendrick has also been orphaned by the races after his dad missed the cue from the water horse and met his end on the beach like so many other racers. Being somewhat of a guru horse whisperer, Sean has won 4 years in a row with his water horse...but he searches for something more: his freedom. Winning this year will give him the prize money to win his horse outright and leave the stables for good.

This is one of those books that’s YA but totally could have been an Adult book. The pacing is slow and deliberate, the character development is patient, and the story transcends horse racing and really speaks to the heart of the reader in unexpected ways.

About ⅓ of the way through, I was starting to get impatient. I wanted Things to Happen and it just didn't feel like it was going to. I realize now the point of The Scorpio Races wasn't the action, but in the development and set up and depth that Maggie Stiefvater poured into each and every one of her characters and settings. The details are rich and the characters, even the third and fourth tier ones, have motivations and stories that we want to hear.

There is a slow burn non-traditional YA romance happening between Puck and Sean but mostly it’s about them coming into their own person, on their own time. The races bring them together, but they also bring about self discovery and purpose and vision and THAT, my friends, is the golden core of this novel. Experiencing two different characters growing and learning and changing and becoming adults right before our eyes is an incredible gift that Maggie gives us.

If you’re looking for a slower YA stand alone book with depth and lots of life questions being asked, an island that’s relentless and mysterious, and a haunting mythology of Water Horses that ties it all together, read The Scorpio Races by Maggie Stiefvater.

Pairs well with: Freshly baked bread and honey. They make these special cakes on the island that sound AMAZING and frequently fresh bread is discussed and oh man it makes you crave some fresh out the oven bread like no other!

Fix er up: Maybe if I had known going into it that it was going to be a slower read, it wouldn’t have bothered me as much as it did. Hopefully I save you that surprise!

In which I reread Graceling by Kirstin Cashore...

Here are my thoughts. Beware, spoilers aplenty so this is just for those who have already read Graceling by Kristin Cashore. If you have NOT read it, you can read my review here.

  • I do not remember Katsa being so prickly and naive the first time I read this. I mean, obviously I still love her to the ends of the earth but I thought it was a given...not so. My adoration was earned. Which is 300x better.
  • I adore how Cashore creates a feminist heroine that isn’t abrasive or ridiculous in her feminism. She has beliefs and feelings about her independence and her lifestyle choices and isn’t angry when people don’t understand them (okay fine, for the most part. Looking at you, Giddon).
  • I did not remember that a good chunk of the action takes place with Katsa and Bitterblue without Po. I wonder if this was Cashore’s way of reminding the reader that Katsa is a strong and independent woman who can love someone but still live her life and do what needs to be done. She is not dependent on Po, although she clearly loves him and wants him in her life. Yes, she had a HARD time leaving him when he was injured, but she did it. I feel like most characters in YA in her position would be lost/distraught/focused on him soley in his absence. Not so with Katsa!
  • How did I forget how central Bitterblue was to everything? How am I not having nightmares about Leck and his awfulness?
  • Basically, this reread with Liz, Amy, Hannah and Asheley only further reminded me that I LOVE THIS BOOK and you should too. The end.

I read this as part of #CashoreGoodtimes. It's totally not too late to join in on the fun! We're starting Fire TODAY (January 28th). WOOOOOOO!

If you HAVE read Graceling, what did you think? What did you love? Or were there things you found frustrating? Do share!

To the TBR!

I know, your TBRs are miles long already but YOU GUYS I found these two lists and wanted to share them with you anyway.

For the Sci-Fi lovers out there: Geek Exchange has some suggestions for you.

As for me, I added Blackbirds by Chuck Wendig and Shadow Ops: Control Point by Myke Cole (DANGEROUS MAGICIANS WHAT?!). And I already marked The Lost Cities by Paolo Bacigalupi as TBR so YAY.

This one you're REALLY going to hate me for, but I don't even care! i09 has 10 Book Series So Addictive You Never Want Them To End. Yep, more series to your TBR. Sorry not sorry!

And so I added Terry Pratchett's Discworld novels (which my hubs loves), The Watch Series by Sergei Lukyanenko (there is mention of a King of Cats!), and The Temeraire books by Naomi Novik (uh dragons durrr).

Have you read any of these series mentioned in the articles? Did I miss one you think I should add to the TBR? Let me know!

Review: Cinder by Marissa Meyer

Title: Cinder (Lunar Chronicles)
Author: Marissa Meyer
Pub Deets: January 2013, MacMillan
Source: DAC ARC Tours
Challenges: TBR Challenge

Amazon | Goodreads | Author Blog | Author Twitter

In a sentence or so: Cinder is a secretly a cyborg but publicly the best mechanic in the city which is why the Crown Prince brings her his nanny android to fix which just may have some Super Top Secret information on it. Soon, Cinder is involved with all of the drama happening in New Beijing and just might be at the core of it all.

Cinder is a kind of retelling of the Cinderella fairy tale but with cyborgs and in the future and YES I loved it just as much as you assume my little nerdish self would!

Set in the future, cyborgs are considered second class citizens so Cinder keeps her robot parts on the low. Only her step mother and two step sisters know about her ½ cyborg status (well, and her android Iko). Other than her step sister Peony, the family definitely looks down on Cinder for being a burden in their lives despite the fact that she’s the prize breadwinner of the household. When Prince Kai comes to her stall in the market and ask that she fix his nanny android, she knows not all is as it seems. First of all, the freaking PRINCE is out and about asking for help on the low. Secondly, whatever the android knows is apparently important biz because he’s asking her to keep it secret.

I feel like there are just SO many things going on this book that it’s hard for me to write a review without giving you the play by play of the whole book which is zzzzzzzz so let me try this. I will give you five reasons why I devoured Cinder and you should too (if you haven’t already...)

1. SCI FI, Y’ALL! You know I love sci-fi and this book is packed with it but not in the way you’d expect. Marissa Meyer weaves the science fiction through the book in a way that doesn’t feel off putting or overwhelming to the non sci-fi geek.
2. Romance. Oh yes. Prince Kai and Cinder have a slow burn and it’s awesome.
3. Strong Female Lead. Cinder’s been dealt a tough hand but she makes the best of it. Is she sunshine and roses all the time? Hell naw. BUT she keeps putting one foot in front of the other and never, ever spends her time loathing and lamenting and it’s so refreshing I can’t even.
4. World building. Not only is this a sci-fi book, but it’s also set in the future and includes an alien race called the Lunars. Don’t be overwhelmed, honestly! The world building is naturally integrated into the plot and storytelling so it’s not all info dump and you don’t have to figure it all out on your own, either. Truly, Marissa Meyer did a bang up job building this future.
5. Addictive writing. I read the last 200 pages of Cinder while watching football. Which of course means football was on in the background and I just PLOWED through Cinder without abandon because I was loving all of the plot lines and characters too much to stop!

Don’t be put off by cyborg Cinderella. There’s definitely nods to the original fairy tale but Marissa Meyer takes the basic pieces and builds a whole new masterpiece with Cinder. Embrace the sci-fi and all of the other things that make this book a must read! Also, book two, Scarlet, is coming out in February so you have time to read this before it comes out! GO NOW.

Fave quote: "He squinted, and another picture flickered onto the screen, closer up, showing the backs of four of the men from up above, but, Kai noticed with a shock these were not men. Their shoulders were too wide, too hunched. Their barely discernible profiles too stretched. Their backs were covered in what appeared to be fur." (255 ARC)

Pairs well with: Your inner (or not so inner, in my case) nerd!

Fix er up: The book wasn’t a TOTAL cliffhanger but I definitely wanted MORE resolution than I got at the ending. BAHHHH.

How do you slay the green eyed beast?

Okay, I know it happens to the best of us. At least, I'm 99.9% it does.

I'm talking Jealousy. Yeah, with a capital J. I don't know if it's because it's the first of the year or if it's because there's just a lot of cool stuff floating around out there or what but lately, the green eyed beast has been getting the best of me. I've been seeing books that I've REALLY BEEN WANTING to read lately and it seems like people are getting their hands on them in every IMM/STS post I read. So then I'm all...

At first I thought it was just me, but after talking with  my pal Carrie and seeing this post by Molli at Once Upon a Prologue, I realized that no - it's NOT just me. Phew.

Anyway, I need it to stop! So maybe the way to get that going is to confess and make a public plan for accountability? Let's give it a whirl.

Hi, my name is Lisa and I'm crazy jealous of the ARCs that other bloggers get. Sometimes, that jealousy makes me crabby and unpleasant. I don't like that. Here's how I plan to remedy the situation.

Remind myself that I'm not in the ARC game. I made this decision because it was too stressful to try and keep up with all of the things. Sure, I still do Amazon Vine but it's not nearly as big of a commitment. I thought it wasn't fair for me to accept ARCs and then not read them for months (or...ahem...YEARS) so I stopped requesting. I need to remind myself that part of this is MY CHOICE. Not that I ever got crazy amounts of books, but enough that I was overwhelmed and there are books from 2011 that have yet to be read so YES. This was a good decision and I need to remember it.

Be thankful for my blogger friends. HONESTLY I am so thankful for all of the lovelies that share their ARCs and finished copies with me. It helps me to read books a bit ahead of the game and get some publicity out for the book if I get it early enough, or if not it allows me to read it and pass the ARC along to my local HS library which wants all of the books I can offer them.

Review my blogging policy. I blog for fun. If I get too wrapped up with ARC envy, it becomes not fun. The only person who can change that is me.

Stop making comparisons. Is this a girl thing or WHAT? I can proudly say that I am not bitter that someone else has a book I want, I'm only jealous it's not me. I'm not all "What a snatch I can't believe she has Harry Potter #8 and I have to wait 9 years" but am instead like "Well farts. I WANT THAT BOOK and I can't have it so wahhh." I feel I need to make that distinction. I'm not a hater. I'm jealous.

When all else fails, avoid the temptation. This past week I definitely did not read one single IMM/STS post. Not a one. And that's not because I'm not sincerely happy and excited for bloggers and their ability to get ARCs and share that bookish love with the community - as well as get some buzz for the author - but I'm having such a tough time right now with jealousy that I have to step back. I can't feed the beast.

So, my friends, what do you do when the green eyed beast gets her nasty claws in you? Any advice you can offer? Do share! We're in this together and I know I'm not alone here!

Top Ten: Take me there!

Top Ten Tuesday is hosted by those rad chicks over at The Broke and The Bookish.

This week they ask: Top Ten Settings I’d Like to See More Of (Or At All)

Okay, how about this. I’ll say 5 settings I need to READ more of and then 5 settings I’d LIKE to see more of in general. Deal? Sweet.

5 Settings I’d Like To See More Of:
1. HOGWARTS. Not castles. Not magical boarding schools. Hogwarts specifically. You know you do too so don’t judge me.
2. Road Trips. Books on the road are so cool. Mainly because there’s lots of time for discussion and playlists and other such things.
3. 24 hour time frame. I adored Statistical Probability because it almost felt like I was experiencing it in real time. Also I adored it because it was fantastic.
4. Slumber parties. Because even as an adult, slumber parties are one of my favorite things about life.
5. Dinosaurs. SURELY there’s a way for a YA author to write an awesome story involving dinos...yes? Right? PLEASE?

5 Settings I Need To Read More Of:
1. Beach Reads. Oh Jennifer Echols. If you’ve taught me anything, it’s that teen drama and sexytimes are at their peak at the beach. I like that a LOT.
2. Historical Fiction. I love history and I love fiction so why I don’t read historical fiction is really beyond me.
3. The Wilderness. I dig the dystopian genre a whole heckuva lot and I like it a lot more when they are on the run in the wild (such as Eve).
4. Music Centered. I love love lovvvvveeeddd Audrey, Wait! so I definitely need to get back on the music-as-the-focus bandwagon again.
5. Futuristic. I’m a nerd and I like sci-fi books set in the future. I need to keep in tune with my bookish loves, you know?

What about you? Do you have any recommendations for what settings I need to read more of? Or suggestions on where I can find more settings I want to see more of? Let me know!

Review: Rebel Heart by Moira Young

Title: Rebel Heart (Dust Lands #2)
Author: Moira Young
Pub Deets: October 2012, Margaret K McElderry Books
Source: Gifted from Carrie at Stalking the Bookshelves
Challenges: TBR Challenge, 2013 Sequel Challenge

Amazon | Goodreads | Author Twitter

Note: There will be spoilers for book one, Blood Red Road. So if you haven’t read it, beware!

In a sentence or so: Saba, Lugh, Emmi and Tommo are headed for good land to establish their lives but all Saba can think about is getting back to Jack. Things are changing out in the world and the Tonton are under new leadership that doesn’t make their plans any easier, or safer, than the last time.

We meet up with Saba, Lugh, Emmi and Tommo and discover that Saba is having some crazy dreams/visions/hallucinations that mostly involve people she’s killed over the past year. Her psychotic break does not garner any sympathy from Lugh who is kind of an asshat 90% of the book.

Saba’s soul purpose in this book is to Find Jack. The rest of the group is trying to find a place to settle down and live their lives, so obviously the group’s at cross purposes. Saba proves to be crazy selfish and that doesn’t bode well for anyone.

You guys, I just finished telling you how much I ADORED Blood Red Road. I was initially really let down with the start of Rebel Heart. Let me tell you why.

Saba’s sole purpose is to find Jack. REALLY. There is so much more to her and this world and this group than Must Find Jack and I wish that had shined brighter. I was disappointed to feel her turn so 2 dimensional. Then, apparently she’s hot shit now because Tommo and DeMalo want to get in her pants. (one will succeed!) Again, I feel like there were SO MANY other things going on that I wish this had been a much more minor plot line than it was. Finally, I feel like Moira Young is compelled to kill off a character or two each book without it really making an impact on the story.

Okay, enough with the crabbypants. Here are things I ADORED about Rebel Heart!

DeMalo gets some depth. Yeah, he’s the new dude in charge and the Tonton are NOT good guys but I am all about the moral gray that Moira is putting out there and leaves me with many questions. While the first ½ was zzzz for me the second ½ was where shiz gets REAL and things HAPPEN and that was good times.

Ultimately, I’m still committed to this series. Saba was completely and horridly selfish BUT that makes her real and I’m down with that. I am okay with liking and not liking characters if the plot is thick enough to keep me interested. And oh boy is there potential for how this all shakes out in book three...I can’t wait!

Fave quote: "He'll banish the shadows. He'll silence the whispers. An the wounds of my soul will heal." (pg. 53)

Pairs well with: Some patience. You’ll need it.

Fix er up: Oh friends. I did enough complaining already. I’m ready to let it go.

I just can't help myself...

I've updated my blog design. AGAIN. I'm almost all the way done. Just a few font type things and other such minor tweaks to take care of and then I'm good to go. For at least another few months. HA!

Inspiration and support, including where to find sweet color schemes, from the lovely Lori at Imagination Designs. 

Review: Blood Red Road by Moira Young

Title: Blood Red Road (Dust Lands #1)
Author: Moira Young
Pub Deets: June 2011, Simon & Schuster

Amazon | Goodreads | Author | Twitter

In a sentence or so: Saba’s twin brother Lugh is kidnapped and she will do anything and go anywhere to rescue him.

Saba, Lugh, Emmi and their Pa live on a little bit of dry, miserable land by a watering hole. They seldom see people, and when they do, they’re suspicious. And rightfully so, because when a group of men rides up, notes Lugh’s (but not Saba’s) crescent moon mark on his face, they kidnap him. Their Pa dies in the effort to prevent him from being kidnapped, but not before telling Saba that she will need to be strong. That people will need her. That her time on this earth is not even close to being over.

So off Saba and Emmi go, across the vast unsafe world to find Lugh. They aren’t the biggest fans of each other, since Lugh is really the one that bonded them together, so the trip is even harder than it would be otherwise. Saba is soon swept up into a dangerous world where she is desperate to survive if only to rescue her twin and keep Emmi safe.

Corrupt dictators, harsh desert like environments, cage fighting to the death, and ambush are just a few of the struggles Saba has to face in Blood Red Road. Don’t worry though. It’s not ALL awful. She does meet a boy with gray eyes named Jack who just might be the perfect boy for her. He’s calm, thoughtful, and just a touch silly where Saba is anxious and uptight and all business all the time. Quite a pair, those two.

I feel like my review for this book simply cannot do Blood Red Road justice. Moira Young writes in dialect (which did not bother me in the slightest, as you KNOW I loved The Chaos Walking Trilogy) that helps set the tone for the book. Saba is in a very different and considerably more harsh world than the one we know. While there isn’t a ton of world building, that was okay because really it’s more about the characters in the world. Which isn’t to say you don’t get a feel for the climate and craziness of the peeps in charge. OH you do.

I can hereby claim Blood Red Road by Moira Young as one of my all time favorite dystopians. I loved Saba and her curmudgeonliness mixed with bravery and dedication. I loved Jack and his ability to soften Saba yet still let her be who she is meant to be. I loved Emmi and her wisdom and courage. I loved the crazy plot of Blood Red Road because you really don’t know where you’re headed - just like our lovably cranky heroine.

Fave quote: "They call me the Angel of Death." (164 ARC)

Pairs well with: Okay, bear with me on this one. It's definitely lulz but it always reminds me of Jack and Saba. She don't know she's beautiful!

Fix er up: I loved the resolution with the ending and am stoked about the rest of the series. So....I guess NOTHING.

[FTC Notice: This book was given to me by a fellow blogger and I was not compensated in any way for this review. Clicking through on links does not give me any kickbacks.]

Review: Shadow & Bone by Leigh Bardugo

Title: Shadow and Bone (The Grisha #1)
Author: Leigh Bardugo
Pub Deets: June 2012, Henry Holt
Source: Gifted from Heidi at YA Bibliophile

In a sentence or so: Alina has crazy amounts of power that could possibly save her country from the Shadow Fold which is full of monsters that will EAT YOUR FACE, if only she could discover how to tap into her power without being forced to and find the courage within herself to be the powerful Grisha she is destined to be.

Alina and Mal have been best friends since they showed up as orphans on the same doorstep as children. Mal is everything Alina is not. He is confident, charismatic, and skilled. Alina...not so much. At least, that’s what she thinks. When their military troop is attacked crossing the Shadow Fold, Alina looks deep within herself to protect Mal and something incredible happens. She becomes light. Something that the Grisha had thought would never happen. Something that makes no sense to Alina and certainly no sense to anyone else.

After getting swept up by the Grisha and the Darkling (who is like the Grisha HBIC but a dude), Alina is off to train to become a Grisha. Which sounds like it would be super cool, if not for the fact that she has NO idea how to channel her power, she misses Mal like crazy (and maybe finally admits she kinda like likes him), and she thinks maybe the Darkling is flirting with her? You know, the immensely powerful and living through multiple lifetimes (Dalai Lama/Avatar Aang style) Darkling? NO BIG DEAL.

Shadow and Bone by Leigh Bardugo marks the beginning of a trilogy rich with magic, Russian influence, and lots of feels. Alina is a solid main character who has a whole world dumped on her shoulders and doesn’t feel worthy of the task. We’re with her as she struggles to find her place among the Grisha and find confidence in herself. And of course a little love triangle/swoony times on the side doesn’t hurt the book either...

I’ve heard lots of raves about this book from the likes of my blogger friends such as Heidi, Kristi, Amy and April. Yeah, how’s THAT for some praise? Naturally, they were right. I was immediately swept away into Shadow and Bone thanks to Leigh Bardugo’s world building. I loved the Russian influence and of COURSE I always love anything to do with magic and fantasy and dark creatures so that was fantastic.

If you’re looking for a YA fantasy that has solid relationships, rich world building, a strong female lead and a diverse supporting cast, give Shadow and Bone by Leigh Bardugo a shot. I think you’ll become engrossed in Alina’s story and start casting your lots pretty quick!

Fave quote: "I wasn't nervous or frightened. I wasn't anything anymore." (335)

Pairs well with: Something about the richness of this book and the cold climate made me want hot chocolate the entire time I was reading it.
Fix er up: In the spirit of avoiding spoilers, I have many questions about the final resolution with the Darkling. Mainly that I do not agree with what I THINK happened and need someone to tell me that what I WANT to have happened be true. Sorry for being vague - but NOT sorry for avoiding spoilers!  

[FTC Notice: I was not compensated in any way for this review. Clicking through on links does not provide any financial benefit for me.]

Review: Hank the Cowdog by John R Erickson

Title: Hank the Cowdog (#1)
Author: John R. Erickson 
Pub Deets (for the version I read): 1998, Puffin Books
Source: The library!

Amazon | Goodreads | Website | Hank's Twitter

In a sentence or so: Hank the Cowdog is trying to solve the mystery of who killed the hen when he decides he’s had ENOUGH of the ranch and their lack of respect for him and heads off to be an outlaw. Lols ensue.

There’s been a murder on the ranch. Thankfully, Hank the Cowdog is head of ranch security and is well trained in such things. He does a thorough search for tracks and evidence with his #2 Drover and they come up with nothin’. Drover isn’t really all that helpful for Hank, but he appreciates him nonetheless and tries to encourage him when he can.

So Hank’s trying to solve this mystery and then he maybe sorta accidentally puts himself into a compromising situation that leaves him shamed and dejected by his owners. He decides to quit the ranch and leave them all behind if THAT’S how they’re going to act. He turns outlaw and joins the coyotes. He knows he doesn’t really fit in with the coyotes what with their eating of rancid meat and their uncivilized violence and what not...but if he can’t solve the mystery of the murdered hen, where DOES he he fit in? What’s a cowdog to do?

I ADORED this series when I was in elementary school. Every time we had library time, I’d hunt out the next Hank the Cowdog and happily turn all the pages, devouring Hank’s wit and humor. I was a little worried about going back as an adult and reading a series written for elementary/younger MG. You guys, worrying was a waste of time.

Hank the Cowdog is completely age appropriate while still being silly and thoughtful and fun for all ages. Hank thinks he’s pretty hot biz, but you figure out pretty quickly that he’s not quite the detective and badass he thinks he is. Don’t worry - it only adds to his charm and sincerely funny interactions.

If you have kiddos who like reading adventure books that are a little bit silly, or if you yourself are into that kind of thing (like ME!), then give Hank the Cowdog a chance. If you like it, you have about 60 other books in the series!

Fave quote: “As a rule, I”m a pretty good sport. I was a kid once myself and I got into my share of mischief, but I can’t get used to people biting my tail. I mean, there’s something kind of special and private about a guy’s tail. If he’s got any pride at all, and he tries to keep it nice, and he’s a little fussy about scabs and bald spots and tooth marks and slobber and all that stuff.”

Pairs well with: A snuggly puppy. In my case, Albus.

Fix er up: I wonder like the mystery wasn’t really solved. But maybe it was supposed to feel that way?

Top Ten Bookish Goals for 2012

Top Ten Tuesday is hosted by the wonderful ladies over at The Broke and The Bookish.

This week they ask: Top Ten Bookish Goals for 2013

I recently did a goal post on the blog which was more about different challenges. You can find that here. For this post, however, I’d like to get a little more simple and honest.

1. Branch out. Obviously I love fantasy and sci fi and pretty much anything with dragons and swords and other such badassery. However, I also fell in love with some wonderful contemps last year (lookin’ at you Amy & Roger and Anna) so I need to remember to give genres outside of my faves a taste too. There are some gems out there!

2. Trust recommendations. My bookish friends know me and know what I like. I need to trust them when they say “this book is SO YOU” (which I do pretty well already thanks). I also need to trust them when they say “this book was mehhhhh” or worse. Sometimes after hearing that I think, oh come now, it can’t be like that can it? And then it is and I’ve wasted my time and bah.

3. Recommend more. Sometimes I read a book and I think to myself “This is something April would totes adore” or “Heidi would be all up in this book” but I don’t follow up with it. Why not? I’m forgetful with a side of lazy. It’s not that I don’t care. Really! I’ll prove it in 2013.

4. Find 5 new blogs/bloggers to adore. I sometimes feel like I have enough friends and don’t have the desire to make any new ones. (See above comment about forgetful with a side of lazy) But if I hadn’t been paying attention, gems like Sash and Em and Estelle and Magan and Hannah and Carrie would have passed me by. How could I live in a blogging world without them? I simply could not. I need to remember that there are lots of lovelies out there and open myself up to the possibility. Are we all going to be besties? Of course not. But it’s worth a shot! Most of the time new peeps are wonderful and I’m overwhelmed by the feels.

5. Participate more in the blogging community. This includes, but is not limited to, replying to comments, peeping new blogs, scoping out new memes and participating more actively in memes. There really are some creative things happening out there that I want to be a part of!

6. Take it easy. I don’t want to burn myself out like I did last year, particularly with bebe on the way. If I feel like reading/blogging is too much, I’ll take a step back and not feel any guilt about it. The blog is suppose to be for fun so for fun it shall be!

7. Try to attend a bookish event. I live super duper rural so the nearest book events to me are Chicago (8 hours) or Minneapolis (3 hours). I need to keep my eyes peeled though because everyone always raves about how rad these events are and I want to get in on the action! At one point I was like “Oh I can totes do ALA” but with bebe on the way....maybe I should set my sights a little lower to keep it real, you know?

8. Encourage others. I’ll see on the twitter that someone is in a slump and I reply with something witty and hilarious like “bummer”. Then later, when I’m in a slump, twitter peeps are totally supportive and encouraging and all “What are you reading? What’s the slump about? You’ll get out of it!” I need to pay that forward.

9. Read after baby comes. I know I know I KNOW I won’t have time like before, but I’ve heard some encouraging things about being able to read whilst feeding or whatever that I want to take advantage of. I adore reading so very much and I think trying to incorporate that into my new life as a mom (!!!) should totally be a goal of mine. So it totally is.

10. Read what I want. This is what it all comes down to in the end. Honestly you guys I have such a hard time with the review pile guilt. I’ve gotten LOADS better about accepting/requesting books for review, but I still have a serious backlog of books I need to review. This includes ones for Amazon Vine so I have to get to those at some point. But mostly I need to read what I want because that makes me a happy reader. If I’m not feeling a book, put it down and come back later. If I’m on a vampire binge, READ ALL THE VAMPS. You get the idea. I won’t force it.

What about you? What are your bookish goals for 2013? Do we share any in common?

Books on the baby brain

Okay you guys, let’s get real. I have a lot of baby on the brain. And I promise NOT to talk about baby all the time here, but when I’m so excited about books AND I’m so excited about baby, it’s bound to happen every once in awhile!

I’ve started thinking about what books we’ll be reading to baby during all those feedings the first months, and then later when they are old enough to want a bedtime story! I’ve already got a list going of course because I live for lists. I’m definitely interested to know what you read to your kiddos from in utero onward! And/or what books you think babies and kids would love to read.

As for me, this is what I’ve got so far:
(links go to Amazon or Barnes & Noble, but I don’t get any kickback from you clicking through.)

Straight outta the womb:
Goodnight Moon by Margaret Wise Brown and illustrated by Clement Hurd. I mean OBVIOUSLY.

Guess How Much I Love You by Sam McBratney. My husband always reminds me how much he adores 
this book, so obviously this one is in.

The Giving Tree by Shel Silverstein. So many feels reading this as a child and as an adult. It’s a lot for me to think about whilst pregnant without sobbing uncontrollably.

Where The Wild Things Are by Maurice Sendak. Clearly, this book is rad. Beyond that, there is a bookstore in Minneapolis called Wild Rumpus that will blow their little mind one day so that makes it extra cool.

And a little later:
The Poky Little Puppy by Janette Sebring Lowry. This was MY BOOK back in the day. Strong emotional attachment for me, which means I want to share with the little one.

Corduroy by Don Freeman. I remember reading this book endlessly and watching a movie (I think?) about it. He just wants a button, you guys!

Oh the Places You’ll Go by Dr. Seuss. This book is another classic that will grow with them, and one that we will happily read again and again!

Batman: The Brave and The Bold (Book Block Series). Yeah, we may have bought this already. Like, immediately. What can we say? We’re NERDS. And they’re awesome.

Ones I won’t be able to resist:
Percy Jackson. I know it’s a little old for an infant but YOU GUYS I love Percy Jackson so much and I think it could be kinda fun to read these books out loud while nursing. So there.

Chronicles of Narnia. Same as Percy Jackson but in this case my husband is already familiar and adores the books (don’t worry, he’ll love Percy one day when he reads him) so this is a bit more special for us as a family. 

What do you think? What would you add to this list? What were some of your fave books as a tot? Let me know!

In My Mailbox [50] / Stacking the Shelves [5]

In My Mailbox is hosted by Kristi at The Story Siren
Stacking the Shelves is hosted by Tynga's Reviews

It's the Christmas edition!

The books:
Percy Jackson Box Set. Purchased with xmas cash. Best decision ever? TOTES.
A Game of Thrones: The Graphic Novel Vol 1 by Daniel Abraham, Tommy Patterson, and George R. R. Martin. Gifted by Amy of Tripping Over Books.

Not pictured:
Rebel Heart (Dust Lands #2) by Moira Young. Gifted to me on Kindle by Carrie at Stalking the Bookshelves.

Purchased from Amazon:
Wild Magic (Immortals #1) by Tamora Pierce
Wolf-Speaker (Immortals #2) by Tamora Pierce

Skinny by Donna Cooner from my friend/coworker (and her daughter)
The Scorpio Races by Maggie Stievfater from Hannah at So Obsessed With

Have you read any of these? If so, tell me what you think! What should I bump up on the TBR? 

Review: Amy & Roger's Epic Detour by Morgan Matson

Title: Amy & Roger's Epic Detour
Author: Morgan Matson
Publisher: Simon & Schuster for Young Adults, May 2010
Source: Audiobook from April!

Amazon | Goodreads | Author Blog | Twitter

In a sentence or so: A boy and a girl who are pretty much strangers go on a road trip across the country and much non cheesy soul searching and self discovery transpires.

Amy and Roger are both heading across the country to places they really don’t want to go. Amy has to leave California for Connecticut to join her mom in their new life after her dad died. It’s a new place and it’s weird and she just doesn’t want to go. But really she doesn’t want to do much of anything these days besides go through the motions.

Roger is leaving California to go stay with his dad and dad’s new family in Philadelphia. Roger needed a ride, and Amy isn’t driving since the accident, so their moms hatched this scheme to get them across the country together.

What could have been a supremely awkward few days turns into side trips that reveal much about who Amy and Roger really are. Amy has yet to deal with the grief of losing her father and the state her family is in since the accident. Roger has some unfinished business with a college girlfriend who dumped him without an explanation.

You guys KNOW I’m all about the self discovery and this book is LOADED with it. Like, packed to the ceiling with feelings and internal musings and moving forward emotionally. I love that we can experience the change in a character in a stand alone novel. I love that self discovery resonates with each and every one of us as a reader in a different way.

Between the road trip atmosphere of playlists and gas stations and road snacks and the slow building relationship between Roger and Amy and all of the emotional release for both of them coming to terms with their futures, this book really stands apart as an extraordinary contemporary read.

Fave quote: Alas, listening to the book on audio did not lend itself to quotability for my review. But of course there were many good one liners. I wish I could relay some to you! If you have some to share - please do!

Pairs well with: I hear that the book has fun doodles and drawings and it would be cool to see the playlists, but honestly listening to a road trip book IN THE CAR was a pretty great pairing.

Fix er up: Okay, I know I am happy about this being a stand alone. And I know the ending was perfect. But I still want MORE. I can’t help it! As soon as the audiobook was done I just sat in my car all O_O because I didn’t know WHAT to do with my life on the road anymore! I miss you, A&R.