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Thursday, December 27, 2012

REVIEW: Splintered, by A.G. Howard

Alyssa Gardner hears the whispers of bugs and flowers-precisely the affliction that landed her mother in a mental hospital years before. This family curse stretches back to her ancestor Alice Liddell, the real-life inspiration for Lewis Carroll's Alice's Adventures in Wonderland. Alyssa might be crazy, but she manages to keep it together. For now.

When her mother's mental health takes a turn for the worse, Alyssa learns that what she thought was fiction is based in terrifying reality. The real Wonderland is a place far darker and more twisted than Lewis Carroll ever let on. There, Alyssa must pass a series of tests, including draining an ocean of Alice's tears, waking the slumbering tea party, and subduing a vicious bandersnatch, to fix Alice's mistakes and save her family. She must also decide whom to trust: Jeb, her gorgeous best friend and secret crush, or the sexy but suspicious Morpheus, her guide through Wonderland, who may have dark motives of his own.

What if Alice's story was true? IS true? What if...what we know is altogether a too....pretty version of her story?

Splintered uses the Alice in Wonderland and Through the Looking Glass stories and gives you a completely new and much, much darker story. It's not a continuation or retelling. It is most certainly all it's own.

Psychological problems run in Alyssa's family, all the way back to Alice (yes, that Alice). While trying to grow up as normally as possible when she bear the scars of the episode that put her mother in a psychiatric hospital, Alyssa has her own...issues. She hears voices, from bugs and flowers, all the time. And it only gets worse. Before long, she finds herself being pulled into Wonderland, only it's like no Wonderland she's ever heard of.

Howard's writing and character development is amazing. The are evil and demented, and oddly endearing in both their familiarity and their lack of it. (I'm thinking the White Rabbit in particular...creepy.) I've never been so infatuated with a dark story built around the pleasant one I love.

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Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this ebook galley from Abrams through the netGalley publisher/reader connection program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

REVIEW: Louder Than Words, by Laurie Plissner

Since the snowy night when her family's car slammed into a tree, killing her parents and little sister, Sasha has been unable to speak except through a computer with a robotic voice. Nothing is wrong with her body; that's healed. But, after four years, Sasha's memory, and her spirit, are still broken. Then one day, she's silently cussing out the heavy book she dropped at the library when a gorgeous, dark-haired boy, the kind of boy who considers Sasha a freak or at least invisible, "answers" Sasha's hidden thoughts -- out loud. Yes, Ben can read minds; it's no big deal. He's part of a family with a host of unusual, almost-but-not-quite-supernatural talents. 

Through Ben's love, Sasha makes greater progress than she has with a host of therapists and a prominent psychiatrist. With him to defend her, bullies keep the world from ever understanding Sasha, he pulls away. Determined to win him and prove her courage by facing her past, Sasha confronts her past -- only to learn that her family's death was no accident and that a similar fate may wait for her, in the unlikeliest of disguises.

I honestly can't imagine not being able to speak for myself, literally speak. Sasha, it seems to me, is doing remarkably well for such a horrible tragedy. Sure, she has only one friend, but she attends school, has a support system, and isn't in an institution or considered suicidal. Really, I think she's doing pretty well. Aside from that pesky mutism thing.

I liked the story okay, but it felt like it was just trying to be too many things, have too many elements. There's the mystery surrounding the car accident that killed her family, there's the mind-reading boyfriend, then the "push past the tragedy/heal myself." Two of those would've been great, all 3 was over the top. And Ben is too together, too mature/worldly, too unbelievable to make a good connection with the reader.

I like Alyssa's stubborness and I like that she overcomes her problems and finally achieves closure. It certainly shows that you can overcome crippling tragedy. 

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Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this ebook galley from Merit Press through the netGalley publisher/reader connection program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own.

Sunday, December 16, 2012

It's not all books around here.

I'm just proud of this particular project and felt everyone should see it. ;)

Thursday, December 13, 2012

REVIEW: Magisterium, by Jeff Hirsch

Published 2012

On one side of the Rift is a technological paradise without famine or want. On the other side is a mystery.

Sixteen-year-old Glenn Morgan has lived next to the Rift her entire life and has no idea of what might be on the other side of it. Glenn's only friend, Kevin, insists the fence holds back a world of monsters and witchcraft, but magic isn't for Glenn. She has enough problems with reality: Glenn's mother disappeared when she was six, and soon after, she lost her scientist father to his all-consuming work on the mysterious Project. Glenn buries herself in her studies and dreams about the day she can escape. But when her father's work leads to his arrest, he gives Glenn a simple metal bracelet that will send Glenn and Kevin on the run---with only one place to go.

Weird book. Just weird.

But, gosh, I like 'em weird.

Okay, so there's the "real world" where Glenn lives. It's "normal," though definitely dystopian from what we would consider normal. Then there's "The Rift," very near her home, and forbidden. Something happened, years ago, causing a literal rift. And her world isn't allowed to be near the rift.

The people on the other side of the Rift never turned loose of magic or imagination. It's a darker side of our usual "fantastical" world idea, but it's more alive somehow than the world Glenn has grown up in.

Glenn and Kevin (her friend turned love interest) are amazing characters. So deep, interesting, vibrant--Hirsch has done a fabulous job of creating them. I'd almost think they were completely real people he just happened to write about. Their relationship-story is perfect: not instantaneous, but full of struggle then a natural shift from platonic to romantic.

The world of Magisterium (on the other side of the Rift) is one of the most real fantasy worlds I can think of. It's not Narnia (which I adore for it's very innocent nature, despite the evil that comes into it). Instead, Magisterium has politics, and danger (REAL danger!), and characters that you don't want to like not because they're a wicked queen, but because they are purely evil and bad.

I think Hirsch has hit the nail on the head with this one.  

What do you think??

Shop Indie BookstoresDisclosure of Material Connection: I received this ebook galley from Enter Text Here through the netGalley publisher/reader connection program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Sneak Peak: Pantomime by Laura Lam

Soo....I just finished reviewing Pantomime by Laura Lam. That review won't be up for you to read until February, but I do have sneak peak from the publisher, for you.

What do you think??

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this ebook galley from Enter Text Here through the netGalley publisher/reader connection program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own.

A Library is a Library is a Library....

Interesting infographic concerning the relationship between e-books and print books. 

Since ebooks have become so popular (when fiction started being digitized and e-readers became easily attainable), there's long been discussion among the people in the business of reading (teachers, librarians, publishers, etc.) about the future of the 2, and will one eliminate the other. has the infographic below to illustrate that there is no Darwin-like "survival of the fittest" battle going on here. Coexistence IS possible!

E-books Infographic

What do you think??

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this ebook galley from Enter Text Here through the netGalley publisher/reader connection program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

REVIEW: Invisible, by Carla Buckley

Invisible: A Novel
Published 2012
Growing up, Dana Carlson and her older sister, Julie, are inseparable-Dana the impulsive one, Julie calmer and more nurturing. But then a devastating secret compels Dana to flee from home, not to see or speak to her sister for sixteen years.

When she receives the news that Julie is seriously ill, Dana knows that she must return to their hometown of Black Bear, Minnesota, to try and save her sister. Yet she arrives too late, only to discover that Black Bear has changed, and so have the people in it.

Julie has left behind a shattered teenage daughter, Peyton, and a mystery-what killed Julie may be killing others, too. Why is no one talking about it? Dana struggles to uncover the truth, but no one wants to hear it, including Peyton, who can't forgive her aunt's years-long absence. Dana had left to protect her own secrets, but Black Bear has a secret of its own-one that could tear apart Dana's life, her family, and the whole town.

This is NOT a young adult book--hence, the "Adult for YA" label.

Two voices tell this story. Dana, a long-estranged sister who returns home just in time to discover that her sister has died, and she didn't even know she was ill. And Peyton, a teenager trying desperately to determine who she is while grieving the loss of her mother. Dana's is the strong, independent voice of a woman with regrets and determined to fix what she can of them. Peyton's "story" is told through her love of marine biology. She relates every life lesson to marine animals and how the environment for them works. It's just how she thinks.

Each starts on a quest for answers to just what happened to Peyton's mom/Dana's sister, and what is happening to people all through town. While each is on her own journey for an answer, they soon discover that the road is the same. that's the "Jodi Picoult-like" part about the book. Just a good, heart-wrenching read. But there's also a little science fiction/mystery to the story. Nanotechnology is still relatively new to the general public, so to read about ways and places and THINGS it's used in was shocking and a little scary.

As far as the story goes, it's excellently done. You get attached to the characters and need to feel closure for them more than for yourself as a reader. Everything about it is believable, though it was hard to believe that this could really happen--in the "I don't want to believe it could" kind of way.

What do you think??

Shop Indie BookstoresDisclosure of Material Connection: I received this ebook galley from Random House Publishing Group through the netGalley publisher/reader connection program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own.

Friday, December 7, 2012

National Gallery of Art-Online Tours




National Gallery of Art--Online Tours

I found this site the other day when one of my Facebook friends shared a link to the NGA's Children's Tour called "Time Travel" It's an online version of an audio tour you can take when you visit the NGA in person. But, realistically, how many of our students will have that opportunity while in school? It's really fascinating to look at the images in the "Time Travel" tour and learn specifically about the painting.

The other tours aren't "videos," but they do address a specific artist, piece, or theme. Really pretty neat to learn more about some of the paintings I've only seen in books or on television. Anytime I can put art in front of my students, I try. Even the ones who fight me on it. :)


What do you think??

Thursday, December 6, 2012

REVIEW: iDrakula, by Bekka Black

Published 2010

18-year-old Jonathan Harker is diagnosed with a rare blood disorder after visiting a Romanian Count. His girlfriend Mina and a pre-med student named Van Helsing team up to investigate the source of the disease. The teenagers discover a horrifying truth: the Count is a vampire. The harrowing events unfold through emails, text messages, web pages, Twitter feeds, and instant messaging—the natural modernization of Bram Stoker’s original Dracula, which was written in letters, diary entries, and news clippings.

Much like when I read iFrankenstein a few weeks ago, I wasn't prepared to like a modernized version of Bram Stoker's classic. I'm particular, meaning, I'd rather you didn't futz with classics. But, I forgive Bekka Black, she does a great job.

This isn't intended to be Stoker's Dracula. It's not a perfect retelling/remastering. This is its own story. Simply the style Black opted for--the "literature" of teens today, if you will--doesn't lend itself to the classic.

There's no drawn out colorful prose. It's all quick, meant for easy digestion, not deep contemplation. The characters are about as deep as a text message. You have to spend more time dissecting the words themselves, not the characters intentions or hidden meanings. What is written is what is meant.

I think this is a masterful application of modern communication, to share a personalized version of Dracula. Bekka Black has done an awesome job.

I'm ready for her to tackle Dr.Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, my personal favorite horror story.

What do you think??

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Disclosure of Material Connection: This ebook is from my personal collection. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own.

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

REVIEW: The Believing Game, by Eireann Corrigan

The Believing Game
Published 2012

A private academy. A cult leader. A girl caught in the middle.

After Greer Cannon discovers that shoplifting can be a sport and sex can be a superpower, her parents pack her up and send her off to McCracken Hill-a cloistered academy for troubled teens. At McCracken, Greer chafes under the elaborate systems and self-help lingo of therapeutic education. Then Greer meets Addison Bradley. A handsome, charismatic local, Addison seems almost as devoted to Greer as he is to the 12 steps. When he introduces Greer to his mentor Joshua, she finds herself captivated by the older man's calm wisdom. Finally, Greer feels understood.

But Greer starts to question: Where has Joshua come from? What does he want in return for his guidance? The more she digs, the more his lies are exposed. When Joshua's influence over Addison edges them all closer to danger, Greer decides to confront them both. Suddenly, she finds herself on the outside of Joshua's circle. And swiftly, she discovers it's not safe there.

Monday, December 3, 2012

Book Blurb Tour: Sykosa by Justin Ordonez

Author Justin Ordonez is GIVING away copies of his book Sykosa to 3--THREE--lucky commentors during this week's blog tour. Comment here, and comment on the other stops to catch as many chances to win as possible. Tour dates and stops can be found here. 

Sykosa, Part I: Junior Year
Published 2012
Sykosa (that's "sy"-as-in-"my" ko-sa) is a sixteen-year-old girl trying to reclaim her identity after an act of violence shatters her life and the life of her friends. This process is complicated by her best friend, Niko, a hyper-ambitious, type-A personality who has started to war with other girls for social supremacy of their school, a prestigious preparatory academy in the Pacific Northwest of the United States. To compensate, Sykosa has decided to fall in love with her new boyfriend, Tom, who was involved in the act of violence. Propelled by survivor guilt, an anxiety disorder, and her hunger for Tom and his charms, Sykosa attends a weekend-long, unchaperoned party at Niko's posh vacation cottage, where she will finally confront Niko on their friendship, her indecision about her friends and their involvement in the act of violence, and she will make the biggest decision of her life—whether or not she wants to lose her virginity to Tom. YA fiction for the 18+ crowd.


Everything is too complicated. It should not have to be. She goes behind the chapel. He goes behind the chapel. They make out. Simple, right? It’s not. Regardless, if even that must be complicated, then certainly 

the concept that she wants to go to Prom, thus he should ask her to Prom and then they should go to Prom is simple, right? It’s not. You see, he has this best friend, this confidante, this main focus, this everything—and her name is not Sykosa, but Mackenzie.

Or as you will soon find out: “M.” That’s what he calls her.

So, every day, she faces the fact that they are merely acquaintances. Two pigeons in a flock of nine 
hundred who dress the same, talk the same, and act the same. That’s okay. Pigeons are only pigeons because conformity is only conformity. It’s okay to be like everyone else so long as she is always herself. 

And that is the reason, because there is no other reason, why she makes out with this boy. Other than she likes it. Kissing is fun. She’s lying. There is another reason. Another trivial teenage doodad—when she talks to him, lame as it sounds, she feels like she is being herself.

Sykosa is also available FREE for your Kindle at Amazon this week. WOOHOO!

What do you think??

Creative Commons

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