Friday, May 31, 2013

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Title: Jellicoe Road
Author: Melina Marchetta
Narrator: Rebecca Macauley
Series: n/a
Publisher: Bolinda Publishing Pty Ltd
Publication Date: September 1, 2006
Source: purchased audio
Purchase: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Audible

Abandoned by her mother on Jellicoe Road when she was eleven, Taylor Markham 17, finally confronts her past. Hannah, the closest adult she has to family, disappears. Jonah Griggs, moody stares and all, is back in town. If Taylor can put together the pieces of her past, she might just be able to change her future.

So, everywhere I go, people are fangirling over Melina Marchetta (and her books).  I've added several to my own TBR shelf, but until recently, I hadn't made time for them.  But then I discovered that there are several of her books up on Audible.  Cue the "uh-ohs".  ;0)

I'm easing myself into the Melina Marchetta fandom, and I started with one that I'm quite positive everyone has loved.  I'll probably pick up Finnikin next...loved her contemporary, so I'm sure I will marvel at her fantasy.  Also, I didn't know until I started writing up this review that both Jellicoe and Saving Francesca are being adapted for the big screen.  Yes, apparently I do live under a rock.  *sigh*

Katiebug already told us this morning what she thought this book was about.  And she was correct that the flower is significant.  Even thinking about it again threatens tears.  From the story-within-a-story aspect to the incredible friendships, this book was absolutely breathtaking.  I probably cried much more than was warranted, but the laughs achieved from this book were definitely well-deserved.  Sure, the first bit was a tad frustrating as the author sets up the story, but it's supposed to be're not supposed to know how these people's lives fit together yet.  And I loved that about the story from the very beginning.  That while these characters' lives are being splayed open for us, we're also getting glimpses, brief hints of how their lives are all intertwined.  And it doesn't start making sense until about half-way through, and by then, you're hooked.  You just have to know how they all ended up at the point they're at when we first meet them.

Taylor Markham is the narrator and main character of this story, and I think using the first person point-of-view made this story more real and just plain raw.  It's angsty, but not in an overly dramatic, whiney way.  There's real heartbreak here, and Taylor Markham has received her share of it.  But she's a strong, resilient girl, and it takes a lot before even the reader gets to see the fissures in the hard exterior she wears for the world.

Enter Jonah Griggs.  Or rather, re-enter.  His presence shakes things up a bit, as does the "battle" between the school, the townies, and the cadets.  But nothing rattles Taylor like the book.  She might finally have some answers...but is she ready for them?

Rebecca Macauley is fabulous as the narrator for the audiobook.  Fabulous.  From her accent to her snark, she was the embodiment of Taylor Markham.  And she voiced the other characters admirably, as well.  I felt like I'd been transported to Jellicoe Road as I listened.  It wasn't hard to envision myself there, amongst the feuding teenagers.  Not at all.

I can't believe it took me this long to read Jellicoe Road, but I'm glad I finally caved.  The love story was well-portrayed, and I enjoyed that the mystery of Taylor Markham was the focal point of the story and not the romance.  And the writing...oh, the writing.  It was as lyrical as it was sad.  And the way Marchetta wove one story into the other was just brilliant.  I can't wait to read my next Melina Marchetta novel.  She has earned herself a fan for life with Jellicoe Road.

Rating:   photo 5-1.png

About the author:

Melina Marchetta was born in Sydney Australia. Her first novel, Looking For Alibrandi was awarded the Children's Book Council of Australia award in 1993 and her second novel, Saving Francesca won the same award in 2004. Looking For Alibrandi was made into a major film in 2000 and won the Australian Film Institute Award for best Film and best adapted screen play, also written by the author. On the Jellicoe Road was released in 2006 and won the WAYRBA voted by teenagers in Western Australia in 2008. It also won the US Printz Medal in 2009 for excellence in YA literature. This was followed up by Finnikin of the Rock in 2008 which won the Aurealis Award for YA fantasy, The Piper's Son in 2010 which was shortlisted for the Qld Premier's Lit Award, NSW Premier's Lit Award, Prime Minister's Literary Awards, CBC awards and longlisted for the Miles Franklin Award.

Find Melina:

WebsiteTwitter | Facebook | Goodreads

Covers By Katie
Okay, so I totally stole this idea from Sara at Forever 17 Books, who got the idea from an article on Babble called Judging a Book by Its Cover: A 6-year-old Guesses What Classic Novels Are All About.  I just discovered her lovely segment, and I immediately requested forced my own five-year-old daughter Katie to provide me with some of her own cover art artwork and then asked her what she thought the book was about.

This week, Katie gave me her take on the following book:

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"A girl sees a pretty black butterfly on an orange flower with a real tiny red pattern on it."

Cover Art

Jellicoe Road as envisioned by Katiebug

Either Katie was listening to this while I was, or she is just that good. :)  The cover on the audio was the same that pops up on Goodreads if you search the book, but the hardcover I got at HPB has this cover, and I'll be honest, I prefer this one, anyway.  The flower is pretty and it's important, so yeah.

Have you read this book or do you plan to?  What do you think of Katie's guess at the premise?  

Did your little darling create a work of art based on a book this week? If so, be sure to link up with Sara over at Forever 17 Books.

Thursday, May 30, 2013

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Title: Unbreakable
Author: Elizabeth Norris
Narrator:  Katie Schorr
Series: Unraveling, book #2
Publisher: Harper Audio
Publication Date: April 23, 2013
Source: purchased
Purchase: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Audible

Four months after Ben disappeared through the portal to his home universe, Janelle believes she’ll never see him again. Her world is still devastated, but life is finally starting to resume some kind of normalcy. Until Interverse Agent Taylor Barclay shows up. Somebody from an alternate universe is running a human trafficking ring, kidnapping people and selling them on different Earths—and Ben is the prime suspect. Now his family has been imprisoned and will be executed if Ben doesn’t turn himself over within five days.

And when Janelle learns that someone she cares about—someone from her own world—has become one of the missing, she knows that she has to help Barclay, regardless of the danger. Now Janelle has five days to track down the real culprit. Five days to locate the missing people before they’re lost forever. Five days to reunite with the boy who stole her heart. But as the clues begin to add up, Janelle realizes that she’s in way over her head—and that she may not have known Ben as well as she thought. Can she uncover the truth before everyone she cares about is killed?

Death to everyone!  Okay, not really, but damn.  After the ending to Unraveling and now this, I know not to get too attached to anyone when it comes to this author!  And no fakesies or take-backs.  This shit is for real.  But is it the end?  And who are those extra people on the cover?

Damn, that is one doozy of a spoiler!
I don't have any answers for you, but I have some guesses.  And some of that might be spoilery.  Bewares.  First, is this a duology?  It makes sense based on where this book left off, and if it is, I'm totally okay with that.  I like when an author realizes they have enough material for two books and not three.  Every series does not have to be a trilogy.  I wouldn't mind reading more of this world, but with several really good characters out of the picture, I'm not sure my heart would be entirely in it.  As far as the cover goes, I think it's pretty easy to guess that the couple in the forefront is Janelle and Ben.  But who are those other two?  Based on his attire, I'm going to hazard a guess that the guy on the left is Barclay -- he is often described as wearing military-type gear, which makes sense since he's an IA agent.  Plus, he plays a much bigger role in this sequel than he did in the first.  As for the girl, well, [spoiler]the cover for Unraveling showed multiple versions of both Ben and Janelle, so what's not to say there's a little of that going on here, too?  Though, she does look a bit different, doesn't she?  ;)[/spoiler] this point, I don't know whether to recommend reading the Undone novella prior to Unbreakable or not.  It helped me to figure out some things much sooner than the characters did, but I don't know if I really liked having advance knowledge in this instance.  It's definitely worth a read, though, since you get Ben's POV.  :)

We already know that I rather liked Ben and Janelle's relationship in the first book. And Barclay was but a bit player in Unraveling.  At least, that's what it seemed like to me before reading Unbreakable.  But in this sequel, Ben is less of a prospect and more of a suspect.  He's kind of MIA for a big chunk of the book.  And I thought I'd miss him.  But then Barclay turned up in Janelle's world again, and I was kind of like, "Ben, who?"

 photo unabashedshipping_zps751ba2a0.gif

As in Unraveling, no one is safe in this second installment.  Don't get too close to anyone.  Don't get cozy with where the story is headed.  Pretty much, just expect the unexpected, and even then, I still think you'll be surprised.  Oh, but if I scared you with my brazen shipping of someone other than Banelle, don't worry; there truly is no love triangle to speak of.  It's all in my head.  o_O

This time around, I didn't have an ARC to fall back on whenever I stepped out of the car or finished the housework.  But it didn't matter.  I kept on listening.  Katie Schorr proved once again that she was the narrator for the job, and she has definitely found a place on my list of favorite narrators.  And so I'll just repeat what I said about her narration for Unraveling:  "Katie Schorr was an excellent pick for narrator of this book.  She really gets Janelle's dry wit and sarcasm and she nails those one-liners.  The narrator also portrays Ben perfectly as the quiet, reserved love interest.  Schorr seemlessly pulled off the witty banter between many of the characters.  I never lost track of who was speaking, and I never lost interest in the story...obviously."

Lots of action.  Lots of crazy.  Lots of crazy action.  I'd love to tell you more, but man, books like this are so much better when you go into them knowing very little.  Trust me, though, if you liked the first book, and you were left tragically empty at the end of Unraveling -- before we knew a sequel was in the works -- then you'll definitely want to pick up Unbreakable.  Elizabeth Norris seriously rocks some sci-fi.

Rating:   photo 4-1.png 1/2

Unraveling (Unraveling, #1)Undone (Unraveling, #1.5)Unbreakable (Unraveling, #2)

About the author:

Elizabeth Norris briefly taught high school English and history before trading the southern California beaches and sunshine for Manhattan's recent snowpocalyptic winter. She harbors dangerous addictions to guacamole, red velvet cupcakes, sushi, and Argo Tea, fortunately not all together. Her first novel, UNRAVELING (Balzer+Bray, April 2012), is the story of one girl's fight to save her family, her world, and the one boy she never saw coming.

Find Elizabeth:

WebsiteBlog | Twitter | Facebook | Goodreads | Pinterest | Tumblr

Man, I can't believe Saturday is already the 1st of June.  The kids are [almost] out of school, and summer is officially upon us.  You know what that means!  SYNC recently announced the list of audiobook pairings up for grabs this summer, and today is the kick-off of the program for 2013.  Here's what you can grab through Wednesday of next week...for free!

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This week's YA title is Of Poseidon by Anna Banks, performed by Rebecca Gibel for AudioGo.

Galen is the prince of the Syrena, sent to land to find a girl he's heard can communicate with fish. Emma is on vacation at the beach. When she runs into Galen—literally, ouch!—both teens sense a connection. But it will take several encounters, including a deadly one with a shark, for Galen to be convinced of Emma's gifts. Now, if he can only convince Emma that she holds the key to his kingdom...

Told from both Emma and Galen's points of view, here is a fish-out-of-water story that sparkles with intrigue, humor, and waves of romance.

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This week's classic title is The Tempest by William Shakespeare, performed by a Full Cast for AudioGo.

In The Tempest, long considered one of Shakespeare's most lyrical plays, Prospero - a magician on an enchanted island - punishes his enemies, brings happiness to his daughter, and comes to terms with human use of supernatural power. The Tempest embodies both seemingly timeless romance and the historically specific moment in which Europe begins to explore and conquer the New World.

Its complexity of thought, its range of characters - from the spirit Ariel and the monster Caliban to the beautiful Miranda and her prince Ferdinand -its poetic beauty, and its exploration of difficult questions that still haunt us today make this play wonderfully compelling.

The Tempest is a play by William Shakespeare, believed to have been written in 1610–11. It is set on a remote island, where Prospero, the exiled Duke of Milan, plots to restore his daughter Miranda to her rightful place, using illusion and skilful manipulation. The eponymous tempest brings to the island Prospero's usurping brother Antonio and the complicit Alonso, King of Naples. There, his machinations bring about the revelation of Antonio's low nature, the redemption of Alonso, and the marriage of Miranda to Alonso's son, Ferdinand.

I enjoyed Of Poseidon when I read it last year.  In fact, I just received the audio for the sequel, Of Triton, just last week, and I can't wait to dive into it.  (Pun totally  As for The Tempest, I love Shakespeare, but for whatever reason, I've never gotten around to picking this one up.  Now's as good a time as any.  :)

Will you be picking up either of these titles?  Remember, they're only available through Wednesday, and new titles will be put up on Thursday for download.  Other things to note:

To download this week's titles, just click on the image below to be taken directly to the SYNC download page:

I hope you take advantage of this program. I've been doing it for the last couple of years, and I've had the opportunity to listen to a ton of great audio for free.  If you've never tried audiobooks before, it's a great opportunity to do so without the obligation of buying one that you might not enjoy.  And if you love audiobooks, well, it's a great time to stock up on some titles you may have missed.  Win/win.  =)

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Title: The Pirate's Wish
Author: Cassandra Rose Clarke
Series: The Assassin's Curse, book #2
Publisher: Strange Chemistry
Publication Date: June 4, 2013
Source: received from publisher via Netgalley
Purchase: Amazon | Barnes & Noble

After setting out to break the curse that binds them together, the pirate Ananna and the assassin Naji find themselves stranded on an enchanted island in the north with nothing but a sword, their wits, and the secret to breaking the curse: complete three impossible tasks. With the help of their friend Marjani and a rather unusual ally, Ananna and Naji make their way south again, seeking what seems to be beyond their reach.

Unfortunately, Naji has enemies from the shadowy world known as the Mists, and Ananna must still face the repercussions of going up against the Pirate Confederation. Together, Naji and Ananna must break the curse, escape their enemies — and come to terms with their growing romantic attraction.

So, the end to The Assassin's Curse came rather abruptly, and I was ill-at-ease to let the story go so suddenly.  These characters and their strange circumstances had made their way into my heart, and I was reluctant to see them go.  Lucky for me, I only read/listened to it a couple of months ago and didn't have to wait too long for the end to this duology.  And what a spectacular ending it was!

Image Source
I'm always intrigued yet leery of the new characters that are introduced in sequels, but I should have known better than to question such things when it comes to this author.  Especially since one of the new characters is a talking manticore named Ongraygeeomryn.  (Say that three times fast!)  A manticore has the body of a lion with a human face and a barbed tail like a scorpion, complete with poisonous spikes.  It can also have wings, like the one in Clarke's story and the image to the right.  Ananna forges yet another unlikely alliance with this mythical creature, and the trio sets out to break Naji's curse and free both Naji and Ananna from their bond.

I liked the manticore more and more as the story wore on.  She was tricksy but not in a completely evil way.  Under the guise of secretly helping Ananna to aide Naji in breaking one third of the curse -- the impossible task that we already know isn't quite so impossible -- she knowingly forces the duo to face their feelings, something neither would have done without the push.  Even so, it takes an achingly long time for them to get their act together.  Luckily, as with the first book, the focus of this story is not entirely on the romantic aspect but rather on the curse and the quest to break it.  Reunions are aplenty, as are pirates and assassins.  But I wouldn't have expected anything less from this story.

I love that with this story, we get to see so much of Ananna and Naji's world.  From the desolate floating island in the sky, to the torturous voyage across the sea, to the manticore's home on the Island of the Sun, I've been able to envision a lot of the beauty this world holds.  Though, it would still help to have a map to keep track of it.  I do so love maps of fantasy realms.  Even so, the lush imagery employed by the author, as well as her engaging prose, make it nearly impossible not to imagine yourself in this land of desert-dwelling assassins and bad-tempered pirates.

I can't tell you what ultimately happens with Ananna and Naji, but I can tell you that it was fitting in the best possible way.  Ananna is ill-mannered and foul-mouthed most of the time, while Naji continues to maintain control of his emotions and displays a knowledge that Ananna will surely never possess.  She is at home on the sea, and he will always be an assassin.  Their ending in this story is not perfect, but it is perfect for them, and I am supremely happy with the author for the way she finished their story. Even if there was a little less banter and a little more cold-shoulder this time around.  ;0)

I do hope that the author will revisit these characters in The Wizard's Promise series, since it is set in the same world as The Assassin’s Curse/The Pirate’s Wish series.  I'm still not ready to say goodbye to these characters, but at least I know they may pop up elsewhere in this world.  You can't go wrong with pirates, assassins, and magic. Full of unexpected surprises and three impossible tasks...I am unbelievably happy with how this duology turned out.

Rating:   photo 5-1.png

The Assassin's Curse series

The Witch's Betrayal (The Assassin's Curse, 0.5)The Assassin's Curse (The Assassin's Curse, #1)The Pirate's Wish (The Assassin's Curse, #2)The Automaton's Treasure

I just love these covers!!!  :D

About the author:

Cassandra Rose Clarke is a speculative fiction writer living amongst the beige stucco and overgrown pecan trees of Houston, Texas. She graduated in 2006 from The University of St. Thomas with a bachelor’s degree in English, and in 2008 she completed her master’s degree in creative writing at The University of Texas at Austin. Both of these degrees have served her surprisingly well.

During the summer of 2010, she attended the Clarion West Writers Workshop in Seattle. She was also a recipient of the 2010 Susan C. Petrey Clarion Scholarship Fund.

Find Cassandra:

Website | Blog | Twitter | Facebook | Goodreads | Tumblr

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

"Waiting On" Wednesday is a weekly event, hosted by Jill at Breaking the Spine, that spotlights upcoming releases that we're eagerly anticipating.

This week's WoW selection's are...

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Title: The Waking Dark
Author: Robin Wasserman
Series: n/a
Publisher: Knopf Books for Young Readers
Publication Date: September 10, 2013

They called it the killing day. Twelve people dead, all in the space of a few hours. Five murderers: neighbors, relatives, friends. All of them so normal. All of them seemingly harmless. All of them now dead by their own hand . . . except one. And that one has no answers to offer the shattered town. She doesn't even know why she killed—or whether she'll do it again.

Something is waking in the sleepy town of Oleander's, Kansas—-something dark and hungry that lives in the flat earth and the open sky, in the vengeful hearts of upstanding citizens. As the town begins its descent into blood and madness, five survivors of the killing day are the only ones who can stop Oleander from destroying itself. Jule, the outsider at war with the world; West, the golden boy at war with himself; Daniel, desperate for a different life; Cass, who's not sure she deserves a life at all; and Ellie, who believes in sacrifice, fate, and in evil. Ellie, who always goes too far. They have nothing in common. They have nothing left to lose. And they have no way out. Which means they have no choice but to stand and fight, to face the darkness in their town—and in themselves.

I've only read The Book of Blood and Shadow by Robin Wasserman, but it wowed me to the point that I now want to read anything and everything by this author.  But especially this book.  TBoBaS was creepy, but I think The Waking Dark will take creepy to a whole new level.  And I can't wait!

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Title: This is W.A.R.
Author: Lisa and Laura Roecker
Series: n/a
Publisher: SOHO Teen
Publication Date: July 2, 2013

At Hawthorne Lake Country Club your trust fund can’t buy you happiness, but if it’s big enough, it almost always buys innocence. When Willa Ames-Rowan drowns in Hawthorne Lake everyone who’s anyone knows James Gregory is the one who killed her. But no one will ever say a word. Enter The W.A.R. Four girls, four motives to avenge Willa’s death, and only one rule: Destroy the Gregory brothers at any cost. The girls pool their trust funds and devise a series of elaborate pranks to deliver their own particular brand of vigilante justice. Innocence is lost, battles are won, but it’s the truth about what really happened that night that stands to destroy them all.

Lovelovelove revenge stories!  This is W.A.R. sounds like a really compelling whodunit, plus I love underwater covers.  I can't wait to get to this one!

What are you waiting on this week?  Feel free to share it in the comments or leave a link so we can stop by!

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