Friday, April 30, 2010

Flower Friday: Rockfoil

"Pixie Rose" Rockfoil

Today's flower is "Pixie Rose" Rockfoil.  This little evergreen perennial has makes a beautiful groundcover.  It blooms from mid-April to early June & requires very little attention.  It grows well in partial shade and spreads quickly.  We've never had any pest or frost issues with ours, but it does occasionally get a bit sparse toward the center of the plant as the little green mound spreads outward in all directions forming an expanding ring of green around a fairly sparse center. You can read more about rockfoil (Mossy Saxifrage) at Dave's Garden & Botany's Saxifraga page.

Brief book update:
I met P.C. & Kristin Cast, authors of the House of Night series, last night and should have an event report about that posted soon.  I'm also planning to go see L.K. Madigan, Lisa Schroeder, and Suzanne Young tomorrow afternoon, and I will be giving away a signed copy of Lisa Schroeder's It's Raining Cupcakes here on The Eager Readers.  So look for that giveaway post on Wednesday.

Reminder: Our giveaways for The Body Finder & The Naughty List end tonight!

Just a quick reminder that today is the last day to enter our signed book giveaways for Kimberly Derting's The Body Finder and Suzanne Young's The Naughty List.  Both contests end at 11:59 pm (PST) on Friday, April 30th!  Winners will be announced Saturday evening!

Click HERE to enter to win a signed copy of Kimberly Derting's The Body Finder (plus swag).

Click HERE to enter to win a signed copy of Suzanne Young's The Naughty List.

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Question Thursday: Which book do you wish had a sequel?

I love immersing myself in an great series of books.  Sometimes it is hard to settle for a stand-alone novel when you want to devour an absorbing series of three or thirteen.  Obviously, there are lots of awesome stand-alone novels that are perfect exactly as they are, and not every book series is made of excellence from start to finish.  But I love the torturous suspense of awaiting a sequel, and I love reading more about characters that I adore.  :)

Are there any books you wish had been the first in a series rather than stand-alone novels?  One book that immediately comes to mind for me is Robin McKinley's Sunshine.  Rae and Constantine's world seemed richly prepared for continuing adventures, and I wasn't completely ready to close the book on their story as I turned the final pages of that novel.  So I was disappointed to learn that Sunshine would never have a sequel.  What book (or books) do you wish had a sequel?        

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

"Waiting On" Wednesday: Perchance to Dream by Lisa Mantchev

Title: Perchance to Dream (Theatre Illuminata, Act II)
Author: Lisa Mantchev
Publication Date: May 25, 2010

Lisa Mantchev's:website | livejournal | blog | twitter | Theatre Illuminata site
Add this book to your: Goodreads |Shelfari | Library Thing | Visual Bookshelf  

Warning: Contains spoilers for Eyes Like Stars (Theatre Illuminata, Act I)

Act Two, Scene One

Growing up in the enchanted Thèâtre Illuminata, Beatrice Shakespeare Smith learned everything about every play ever written. She knew the Players and their parts, but she didn’t know that she, too, had magic. Now, she is the Mistress of Revels, the Teller of Tales, and determined to follow her stars. She is ready for the outside world.


But the outside world soon proves more topsy-turvy than any stage production. Bertie can make things happen by writing them, but outside the protective walls of the Thèâtre, nothing goes as planned. And her magic cannot help her make a decision between—

Nate: Her suave and swashbuckling pirate, now in mortal peril.

Ariel: A brooding, yet seductive, air spirit whose true motives remain unclear.

When Nate is kidnapped and taken prisoner by the Sea Goddess, only Bertie can free him. She and her fairy sidekicks embark on a journey aboard the Thèâtre’s caravan, using Bertie’s word magic to guide them. Along the way, they collect a sneak-thief, who has in his possession something most valuable, and meet The Mysterious Stranger, Bertie’s father—and the creator of the scrimshaw medallion. Bertie’s dreams are haunted by Nate, whose love for Bertie is keeping him alive, but in the daytime, it’s Ariel who is tantalizingly close, and the one she is falling for. Who does Bertie love the most? And will her magic be powerful enough to save her once she enters the Sea Goddess’s lair?
Read the first chapter here!
Lisa Mantchev recently created a high-resolution version of the trailer for Perchance to Dream (Theatre Illuminata, Act II), and it is lovely!  I shared the older version of this trailer along with my Eyes Like Stars review, but Jason Chan's beautiful concept art is worth viewing in high-resolution (click the four little arrows near the bottom right of the player to view it fullscreen).  Eyes Like Stars is now available in paperback, and Perchance to Dream will be in stores May 25th.  If you love the cover art as much as I do, you may want to check out artist Jason Chan's website and read Lisa Mantchev's interview with him here.

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

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Book Review: I Heart You, You Haunt Me by Lisa Schroeder

Title:  I Heart You, You Haunt Me
Author: Lisa Schroeder
Publisher:  Simon Pulse
Paperback: 227 pages
ISBN: 1416955208 
Girl meets boy.
Girl loses boy.
Girl gets boy back...
...sort of.
Ava can't see him or touch him, unless she's dreaming. She can't hear his voice, except for the faint whispers in her mind. Most would think she's crazy, but she knows he's here.
Jackson. The boy Ava thought she'd spend the rest of her life with. He's back from the dead, as proof that love truly knows no bounds.

Overall rating: 9/10 flowers

Buy this book:  IndieBound | The Book Depository | Powell's | Amazon 
Add this book to your:  Goodreads | Shelfari | Library Thing | Visual Bookshelf

Lisa Schroeder's I Heart You, You Haunt Me is a beautiful verse novel that cuts right to the emotional core of a teenage girl's heartbreak after the tragic death of her boyfriend.  Ava's poetic, stream-of-consciousness narrative makes this story feel immediate, heartbreaking, and ultimately hopeful.  A fast and moving read, I found it to be a very accessible novel about grief and recovery, and it provides a wonderful introduction to novels in verse.

What I Liked:
-     This is the first verse novel I've read, and I honestly could not have asked for a better introduction to the style.  The story is compelling, the characters are well-drawn, and the verse-style narrative is remarkably accessible.  Before starting to read this novel, I imagined that the poetic style might make the book more challenging to read or might make the protagonist seem overly dramatic, but I found exactly the opposite to be true.  The free verse is extremely easy to follow.  It flows smoothly and feels like a natural way for Ava to tell her story.
-     Ava's emotions feel honest.  Both her happy memories and her grief are raw and beautiful,  and it is easy to sympathize with her conflicted feelings.
-     Feelings of loss and guilt are at the heart of this book, but the overall tone is not one of despair and hopelessness.  Ava's pain is real and palpable.  Her grief feels realistic and varies from day to day and moment to moment.  Her broken heart does not mend instantly and without conscious effort.
-    The book does not feel condescending or preachy, but it is wonderful to see Ava take steps toward healing, moving forward, and forgiving herself as the story unfolds.

What I Wished:
-     I wanted this story to be longer. Because of the brevity there are not many secondary characters or subplots. I don't mean to imply that the book feels unfinished, just that it seems more like a short story than a traditional full-length novel.

I Heart You, You Haunt Me is a touching story about the challenges of moving forward after losing someone you love.  I would recommend it to anyone who enjoys contemporary/paranormal YA novels and to anyone who is interested in (or even curious about) reading a verse novel.  It is a quick, absorbing read, so it would also be a good choice for reluctant readers.  You can learn more about I Heart You, You Haunt Me and Lisa Schroeder's other books on her website | blog | twitter | facebook |  YouTube.  You can read the first eleven pages of I Heart You, You Haunt Me HERE and you can hear Lisa read an excerpt of I Heart You, You Haunt Me HERE.

Teaser Tuesday: Chasing Brooklyn by Lisa Schroeder

My teaser:
I know he's coming.  And only then do my lungs fill with water, and I scramble to the surface.
-  page 129 of  Chasing Brooklyn by Lisa Schroeder

Teaser Tuesdays is a weekly bookish meme hosted by MizB of Should Be Reading.  Anyone can play along!  Just do the following:
  • Grab your current read.
  • Open to a random page.
  • Share two 'teaser' sentences from somewhere on that page.
  • BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (Make sure that what you share doesn't give too much away!  You don't want to ruin the book for others!)
  • Share the title and author, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR lists if they like your teaser!

    Monday, April 26, 2010

    It's Monday! What Are You Reading?

    Currently Reading:

     Flash Burnout by L.K. Madigan   &   Chasing Brooklyn by Lisa Schroeder

     Up Next in my TBR (to-be-read) pile:

                                  Mistwood by Leah Cypess

    What are you reading today?  What's up next in your TBR pile?

    This fun meme is hosted by Sheila at One Person's Journey Through a World of Books.

    Friday, April 23, 2010

    Book Blogger Hop!

    Hi and welcome to The Eager Readers!  If you haven't done so already, please feel free to enter our contest for a signed copy of Kimberly Derting's The Body Finder (plus signed goodies) as well as our contest for a signed copy of Suzanne Young's The Naughty List.  

     The Book Blogger Hop is hosted by Crazy-for-Books each Friday, and you can learn more about this week's hop by clicking HERE.  Thanks for hopping by!

    Happy Reading!  :-)

    Flower Friday: Triteleia

    Triteleia - 'Queen Fabiola'

    Today's featured flower: Triteleia!  These six-pointed purple flowers bloom from late spring to mid-summer.  They are easy perennials that grow from small, round corms, and they don't require any special care.  Their leaves are grass-like and the flowers on this particular type of Triteleia range from light lavender to a deep bluish purple.  You can learn more about Triteleia at Wikipedia's Triteleia page or the Pacific Bulb Society's Triteleia page.

    A few book notes from around the blogosphere:

    1.  Jaclyn Dolamore, the author of Magic Under Glass, just started a new blog yesterday.  She plans to share short stories and some of her artwork there.  She has already posted one drawing and a short story entitled The Last Day of Mrs. Douglas Clarke.

    2.  Laini Taylor recently posted a series of blog posts detailing her writing workshop notes regarding plot.  If you are an aspiring author or a reader who likes to think about what makes the books you love enjoyable, Laini's writing advice is straightforward & very insightful.  You can check out her posts here:  Part I: What is plot? | Part II: Character, Motivation, & Conflict | Part III: Structure

    3.  Heidi R. Kling and Angie Frazier are each hosting a "Blue Cover Special" giveaway featuring copies of their upcoming novels, Sea and Everlasting, as well as a copy of Amanda Marrone's Revealers, Sarah Beth Durst's Ice, and lots of fun book swag.  You can check out the contest details on Angie Frazier's blog and Heidi R. Kling's blog.  [Ends at midnight today!]

    4.  Alexandra Bracken is giving away a signed copy of her debut novel, Brightly Woven, plus a signed copy of Mistwood by Leah Cypress and several signed bookmarks.  You can learn more about that giveaway on Alexandra Bracken's blog.  [ends 4/27]

    Happy Reading!  :-)

    Thursday, April 22, 2010

    Question Thursday: Do you have 'gold standard' books?

    As much as I try to appreciate each book for its own merits, I often find myself inadvertently comparing one book to another as I read.  Sometimes that happens when two books actually have strikingly similar plots or characters.  And honestly, that type of comparison seems fairly unavoidable if you have genre preferences.  For example, if you read all the YA urban fantasy novels you can get your hands on, then you'll inevitably find yourself comparing one author's vampire mythology to another author's vampire mythology.

    But it is another type of book comparison I want to ask about today.  Sometimes I find myself comparing my current read to what is essentially my personal 'gold standard' for a particular plot or style element.  For example, when it comes to witty, sarcastic banter in a YA urban fantasy series, I consider Cassandra Clare's Mortal Instruments series to be in that 'gold standard' range.  So as I read dialogue intended to be funny or snarky in other YA urban fantasies, I occasionally find myself thinking something along the lines of "This is fairly good dialogue, but it is not so well-timed/snarky/memorable/clever as the dialogue in the Mortal Instruments series."  

    This type of comparison seems somewhat unfair to me, since it often means that my current book will be held up against not just one 'gold standard' book or series, but several different 'gold standard' books - a couple for dialogue, a few for romantic tension, a handful for atmosphere/setting, a couple for pacing, a few for narrative voice, etc.  I definitely don't expect every book to live up to all of my favorite aspects of my favorite novels, but I can't always seem to stop myself from drawing these 'gold standard' comparisons as I read.

    Do you find yourself drawing those types of comparisons as you read?  If so, what are some of your 'gold standard' books?

    Wednesday, April 21, 2010

    "Waiting On" Wednesday: Sea by Heidi R. Kling

    My pre-publication "can't-wait-to-read" selection this week is:
    Title:  Sea
    Author:  Heidi R. Kling
    Publication Date:  June 10, 2010
    Heidi R. Kling's  website | blog twitter | facebook 
    Pre-order this book: IndieBound | Powell's | The Book Depository | Amazon
    Add this book to your:  Goodreads | Shelfari | LibraryThing | Visual Bookshelf

    Haunted by recurring nightmares since her mother's accidental disappearance over the Indian ocean three years before, fifteen year old California girl Sienna "Sea" Jones reluctantly travels with her father's volunteer team to six months post-tsunami Indonesia. During her stay at the orphanage, she meets scarred and soulful Deni who is more like Sea than anyone she has ever met.

    She knows they can't be together, so why can't she stay away from him? And what about her old-best-friend-turned-suddenly-hot Spider who may or may not be waiting for her back home? And why is her psychiatrist father so secretive about her mother's plane crash? The farther she gets from home, the closer she comes to the truth. And Sea's real adventure begins.

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

    Book Review: Sisters Red by Jackson Pearce

    Title: Sisters Red
    Author:  Jackson Pearce
    Publisher:  Little, Brown and Company
    Genre: YA/urban fantasy
    Hardcover: 336 pages
    ISBN:   0316068683
    Release date:  June 7, 2010
    FTC note:  My ARC of Sisters Red was provided by Little, Brown and Company for review.
    Scarlett March lives to hunt the Fenris-- the werewolves that took her eye when she was defending her sister Rosie from a brutal attack. Armed with a razor-sharp hatchet and blood-red cloak, Scarlett is an expert at luring and slaying the wolves. She's determined to protect other young girls from a grisly death, and her raging heart will not rest until every single wolf is dead.

    Rosie March once felt her bond with her sister was unbreakable. Owing Scarlett her life, Rosie hunts fiercely alongside her. Now Rosie dreams of a life beyond the wolves and finds herself drawn to Silas, a young woodsman who is deadly with an ax-- but loving him means betraying her sister and has the potential to destroy all they've worked for. 

    Overall rating: 9/10 flowers
    Pre-order Sisters Red: IndieBound | Powell's | The Book Depository | Amazon
    Add Sisters Red to your:  GoodreadsShelfari | Library Thing | Visual Bookshelf

    Sisters Red is a romantic, action-packed urban fantasy.  Imagine Little Red Riding Hood with Buffy the Vampire Slayer's wicked fighting skills and determination to take down as many predatory monsters as possible (in this case, Fenris, evil werewolves who prey upon women), and you will have a pretty accurate image of Scarlett March.  She was only eleven years old when she first courageously faced off against a murderous Fenris in a effort to protect her little sister Rosie. Since that time, Scarlett and Rosie have both worked hard to become formidable fighters and, along with their childhood friend Silas, have become experts at luring and slaughtering Fenris.  Sisters Red is not a bland retelling of the traditional Red Riding Hood story.  It is a modern tale about family, responsibility, love, and identity.  At the center of it all are two fiercely loyal sisters who tread a fine line between devotion and resentment while in pursuit of a deadly enemy.

    What I Liked:
    -     Scarlett and Rosie March are capable, resilient, and intelligent.  They are not damsels in distress who wait around to be rescued.  Instead, they choose to lure and fight the Fenris on their own terms.    
    -     Silas is sweet and has a wonderful sense of humor.  He reminded me of an old-fashioned romantic hero like Theodore "Laurie" Lawrence from Louisa May Alcott's Little Women, if Laurie happened to have a sexy southern charm and a fabulous physique from his expert ax-wielding skills.  ;-)  Silas is Scarlett and Rosie's devoted childhood companion, and he wouldn't hesitate to put his life on the line for either of them.  *insert swoon here*
    -     The chapters alternate between Scarlett's point-of-view and Rosie's point-of-view, and the alternating perspectives help make it easy for readers to sympathize with and relate to both sisters.  While they are both fiercely devoted to one another, they have very different personalities and motivations.  Rosie's chapters keep the story lighter and more romantic while Scarlett's chapters keep the suspense and dramatic tension in focus.  The alternating perspective helps maintain a well-paced balance between romance and mystery.
    -     I love modern stories inspired by traditional fairy tales and folktales, but if the interpretation isn't given its own twists and turns the story can feel unoriginal.  Sisters Red does not suffer from that at all.  The story and characters feel new and well-developed, and the Red Riding Hood references add a delicious bit of darkness and striking visual imagery (the crimson cloak, the woodsman's ax, etc).  This book would lend itself very well to a movie or a graphic novel adaptation.
    -     The Fenris thrive on their victims' fear and are sinister in a lecherous, predatory way.  They make excellent villains.
    -     The increasingly flirtatious friendship between Rosie and Silas evolves just slowly enough to torture readers with a lovely amount of tension.  Not only has Scarlett always been the most important person in Rosie's life, but the camaraderie and affection between Silas and Scarlett also feels genuine, which sets up a challenging and strained dynamic between the three of them as Rosie and Silas find themselves increasingly attracted to one another.
    -     Obviously there are fantastical elements to this story (i.e., werewolves), but the overall feel of the world and characters remains grounded in reality.  The main characters are practical, don't instantly heal from injuries, and are not independently wealthy.  While their Fenris-hunting lifestyle sets them apart from their peers, their overall situation seems plausible and realistic for young people living on the outskirts of society.  They spend what little money they have on important supplies like gauze to wrap up their injuries.  They survive on pasta, ramen, and Chinese take-out.  And Silas drives an old, beat-up car.  Basically, their lifestyle and living arrangements feel believable.
    -     I liked the recurring themes, such as the shadows and sunlight, which contribute to the fairy tale feel of this modern retelling.
    -     This book gets bonus points for mentioning The Princess Bride!  *happy grin*  

    What I Wished:
    -     I wished a particular aspect of the story had been less predictable, but it was still enjoyable to watch everything play out and there are still other twists and surprises right up to the end.
    -     One specific conflict scene seemed too conveniently paced to me, so I wished that scene had unfolded a little differently, but it didn't ruin my overall enjoyment of the book so I'd consider it minor. 
    -     I wanted to know more about the woodsmen, and I hope we will learn more about them in the two companion novels Jackson Pearce has in the works.  I would also love to see a graphic novel series set in this world.  Scarlett would make a fantastic graphic novel heroine.

    I would recommend this book to readers who enjoy modernized fairy tales, urban fantasy, or paranormal romance.  Fans of stories about strong, heroic girls, like Diana Peterfreund's Rampant or Joss Whedon's Buffy the Vampire Slayer should definitely pick up Sisters Red.  

    Sisters Red will be released on June 7th, 2010.  You can see author Jackson Pearce discussing Sisters Red HERE.  And you can learn more about this book and Jackson Pearce's other novels on her website | blog | twitter | YouTube channel.  You can also hear her talking a little about Sisters Red HERE.  Jackson Pearce is currently working on two companion novels for Sisters Red - Sweetly (which is a modernization of Hansel and Gretel) and Fathomless (which is a modernization of The Little Mermaid).  I look forward to reading both!  

    Tuesday, April 20, 2010

    Teaser Tuesday: Sisters Red by Jackson Pearce

    My teaser:
    His fast and heavy footsteps pound toward me, all anger now.  I flip the hatchet in my right hand and look behind the Fenris to see Silas darting toward me, quick like a fox around trees and over plants.
            -  page 83 of  Sisters Red (ARC) by Jackson Pearce

    Teaser Tuesdays is a weekly bookish meme hosted by MizB of Should Be Reading.  Anyone can play along!  Just do the following:
    • Grab your current read.
    • Open to a random page.
    • Share two 'teaser' sentences from somewhere on that page.
    • BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (Make sure that what you share doesn't give too much away!  You don't want to ruin the book for others!)
    • Share the title and author, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR lists if they like your teaser!