Wednesday, June 16, 2010

The Double Blog Dare Tour

Welcome to day 8 of the Double Blog Dare Tour! Thanks for joining me from Books and Literature for Teens (the previous tour stop).

We're all helping Alison Dare go on tour by snapping a photo of her in our area. Here are mine:

My daughter and I took Alison out for the day and lo and behold an adventure ensued! Alison found herself overlooking a valley of giants!

At the edge of the valley there stood a mysterious cabin:

Alison found herself bouncing from one enormous leaf to the next in her attempt to access the cabin and see what secrets it held:

She had to work hard to wrestle herself from the firm grip of the giant's hand before making her way inside:

Having successfully maneuvered the scary giant's attack, gained access to the boarded up house, and retrieved the sacred treasure from inside (she wouldn't tell us what it was!!), Alison takes a moment to reflect on a job well done:

Alison takes a much needed breather before we all headed back home:

You can help Alison's adventure around the world! Just save this image, print and cut them out, then snap pics like crazy! Send your photo(s) to and you'll be entered to win an Alison Dare prize pack! It could quite possibly include a signed copy of Alison Dare, Little Miss Adventure and Alison Dare, The Heart of the Maiden, and more!

A Review:
I was fortunate enough to be able to review Alison Dare, Little Miss Adventure and Alison Dare, The Heart of the Maiden, written and illustrated by J. Torres and Jason Bone, with my 8 year old daughter, Jordan. Jordan is big on graphic novels at the moment, so I thought that this series would be great for her.

What we found in the Alison Dare books seemed like a cool cross between Kim Possible and Indiana Jones. Alison is a strong character with enough quirk to keep her interesting while remaining realistic in terms of her age. That's a bonus for young readers looking for something they can relate to.

I think the storylines were just a little out of reach for Jordan but she will grow into these books soon enough. I would recommend them to 9-11 years olds. Jordan's big complaint was that the pictures are black and white; she's still a big fan of pictures books while steadily increasing her reading abilities.

I liked that these stories are geared to girls, in specific. With most graphic novels, I think the target market is boys, probably stemming from the larger culture of comic books. This shift to a female audience was a big hit with me!

Click on the book covers to check them out at Amazon or visit the publisher at Tundra Books

And, remember to check out the next stop on the tour at Got Cheeks?. Thanks for sharing our Alison Dare adventure today!

Monday, June 14, 2010

It's Monday! What are you reading? June 14, 2010

It's Monday! What are you reading? is a weekly meme hosted by Sheila at Book Journey. Here we get to discuss the books we've finished over the last week and what we'll be working on this week.

Over the last 2 weeks, I've found myself in a literary funk. I can't seem to get into anything...or at least I couldn't, until I picked up Sea by Heidi Kling. Phew! So, I'm whipping through Sea while still reading Frankenstein by Mary Shelley (for school) and For the Win by Cory Doctorow. I'm also still working on Beautiful Creatures by Garcia and Stohl and will be picking up I Now Pronounce You Someone Else by Erin McCahan once I've finished Sea. The YA books tend to perk me up a little more at the moment :-)

My reviews for Uncertain Magic by Laura Kinsale and White Cat by Holly Black have posted recently, too. That means my reviews are up to date but my reading is very far behind. Gotta make more of an effort to remedy this, I think...

What do you have in store this week?

150 Follower Contest!


My poor blog has been neglected recently but thanks to new friends, I have reached 150 followers! This calls for a celebration, don't you think? Well, I do! So here's what I'm offering:

I have a copy of The Girl Who Played With Fire by Stieg Larsson in paperback format up for grabs. Just enter the relevant info here (I'm not asking for much this time :-)

The contest will run until June 23, 2010. I will draw the winner on the 24th, using It is open to anyone that can receive mail but you must be a follower to enter (and in a verifiable way ie. Google Friend Connect).

As an added bonus, if I (by some freak chance) reach 200 followers before the contest end date, I will also give away a $20 Book Depository gift certificate (the only condition here is that BD must be able to ship to you.)

So, enter away and tell your friends!! And, thanks to all of my loyal followers for getting me this far.

*Note: Duplicate entries are only counted once to be fair to all other entrants :-)

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Review: Uncertain Magic by Laura Kinsale

published May 4th 2010 by Sourcebooks Casablanca (first published March 2nd 1987) detailsPaperback, 512 pages
isbn13: 9781402237027

Rumors of ruined maidens, coldblooded duels, swindles, and murder swirl around the impoverished 'Devil Earl.' But Faelan Savigar hides an even darker secret. Roderica Delamore longs for a normal life but fears she'll end up mad or suicidal like the forebears from whom she inherited her "gift" of sensing others thoughts and emotions. As the two find their way to each other against all odds, Roddy's growing love for Faelen may end up saving him or destroying her…

A breathtaking historical romance filled with poignancy, darkness, love, and an unexpected twist of Gaelic magic…
Earlier this year, I reviewed Laura Kinsale's Lessons in French, so I had a bit of an idea of what to expect. Or at least I thought I did. In starting Uncertain Magic, I didn't feel that same initial pull as I did with my first Kinsale experience. But Uncertain Magic is a pretty meaty read so I kept going, hoping to get more from it.

I think my issue here was the likeability of the main characters. They both came across as standoffish, which can be off-putting for the reader. Roddy and Faelan are brought together quickly, each for their own reasons, and married. I was expecting the romance, or the achieving of it to be the central part of the story and I suppose to some degree it was, just in a different way than I'd imagined. And in the end, I liked this approach. It's good when an author can mix things up a bit.

With the marriage out of the way almost immediately, I was unsure where the rest of the story would take me. Roddy's special talent and Faelan's mysterious past are repeatedly mentioned but Kinsale waits till the bitter end to reveal the truths. Reaching this point though is achieved through the background of battles between the Irish Protestants and Catholics.

Having grown up with this history (mine was from the Scottish view point, but still similar), I had some insights into how bad the blood could be between these arch-rivals. But Kinsale always manages to teach me a thing or two that I didn't know, for instance how the land of Catholic families was divided after the death of its patriarch versus Protestant land owners (I've always thought of the Irish as being more Catholic, but it seems this was not always the case.)

I grew to enjoy the characters but found the paranormal aspects of the story a bit tedious and confusing at times. Overall, a decent read, especially if you like your romance with a twist of history.

Monday, June 7, 2010

Review: White Cat by Holly Black

Margaret K. McElderry, May 2010
Hardcover, 320 pages
ISBN-10: 1416963960
ISBN-13: 9781416963967
Ages: 14 and up
Grades: 9 and up

Cassel comes from a family of curse workers -- people who have the power to change your emotions, your memories, your luck, by the slightest touch of their hands. And since curse work is illegal, they're all mobsters, or con artists. Except for Cassel. He hasn't got the magic touch, so he's an outsider, the straight kid in a crooked family. You just have to ignore one small detail -- he killed his best friend, Lila, three years ago.

Ever since, Cassel has carefully built up a façade of normalcy, blending into the crowd. But his façade starts crumbling when he starts sleepwalking, propelled into the night by terrifying dreams about a white cat that wants to tell him something. He's noticing other disturbing things, too, including the strange behavior of his two brothers. They are keeping secrets from him, caught up in a mysterious plot. As Cassel begins to suspect he's part of a huge con game, he also wonders what really happened to Lila. Could she still be alive? To find that out, Cassel will have to out-con the conmen.

Holly Black has created a gripping tale of mobsters and dark magic where a single touch can bring love -- or death -- and your dreams might be more real than your memories.

White Cat is the first book in the new series by Holly Black (click here for more info and to read an excerpt)

My first impression was: I love the name for this character "Cassel", it seemed very unusual. My second impression came from the flashbacks, going from past to present, making you feel a little disoriented as you're reading. In saying that, this method provides the background information needed to understand this alternate reality that Holly Black has created. It was a firm base for how The Workers have evolved, how the government sees them, and how the lesser elements of society work around the restrictions. This will bode well moving into the next book.

There are many mentions throughout the story about lying and how to be successful at it. Many of these lessons struck a nerve with me, having been exposed to someone in real life with this poor character attribute. But, I understood Cassel's lifestyle better as a result of my own exposure. I was also more aware that the lying is a cover for his insecurities and his lack of talent compared to the rest of his family. I felt for this boy though; his inability to trust even his own family made my empathy that much greater. He had been raised specifically to harness his inner con-man.

There were moments when I felt this story bordered on a much more mature level. There's one scene in particular that had such sexual energy about it that felt older beyond their years (they're supposed to be 14 years old at the time). It may have even leaned a little on the Dom/Sub side. I enjoyed the chemistry shared between Cassel and Lila, but just wished that they had been a little older at this point. In discussing this with Mel at He Followed Me Home, she mentioned how the criminal element may have made them grow up faster. It's a good point, so we'll go with that as the reason behind this :-)

Overall, I did really like this book and am looking forward to see where these characters go next. It's left with a bit of a cliffhanger, so I'll need to work on my patience, but I think Holly Black has a winner of a series ahead of her.

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