Monday, May 31, 2010

It's Monday! What Are You Reading? + Contest Reminder

Currently Reading:

The Demon's Covenant by Sarah Rees Brennan
Brief thoughts:  Our copy of The Demon's Covenant finally arrived in the mail on Saturday!  Hooray!

Brief thoughts:  Primrose is still reading this aloud with me.  We are both enjoying it, but she is not quite as enthusiastic about it as she was about Kenny & the Dragon so we are progressing through it a bit more slowly.

Finished Reading:

Perchance to Dream by Lisa Mantchev
Brief thoughts:  Magical and entertaining!  I liked Perchance to Dream as much as Eyes Like Stars, but it did leave me longing for the third book.  So Silver Bright suddenly seems so far away!

Blood Promise by Richelle Mead
Brief thoughts:  This series continues to be addictive.  Blood Promise was painful in a way that the first three books were not.   It made me cry more than once, but I still can't wait to read the next book!  

Once Upon a Marigold by Jean Ferris
Brief thoughts:  Such a sweet, simple romance!  I look forward to reading Twice Upon a Marigold.

The Lost Conspiracy by Frances Hardinge
Brief thoughts:  AMAZING!!  My husband and I absolutely loved this book!  Frances Hardinge has incredible world-building skills and a knack for creating quirky, complicated characters.  The Lost Conspiracy is a moving, intricately-woven story, and it is the type of book you want to savor from the first page to the 576 th page.  Loved it!!

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

Spirit Bound by Richelle Mead
Brief thoughts:  I purchased Spirit Bound last week but have been trying to make myself hold off on starting it until I finish The Demon's Covenant & get a couple more  reviews written.  But resisting Spirit Bound when it is sitting on the shelf begging me to pick it up is nearly impossible.  I may have peeked at the first chapter or two.  ;-)
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.

A quick contest reminder:  

Our two Lisa Schroeder contests end tonight, so today is your last chance to enter if you haven't done so already.  You can find the contest links in the sidebar or click here to enter our It's Raining Cupcakes giveaway and here to enter our Chasing Brooklyn giveaway.  :-)

We also posted two new contests today which will run through June 30th.  We are giving away a copy of Julie Kagawa's The Iron King and an ARC of Jackson Pearce's Sisters Red.  

Book Giveaway!! Sisters Red (ARC) by Jackson Pearce!

Sisters Red (ARC) by Jackson Pearce!

Update (7/1):  CONTEST CLOSED!  The winner is Jessica from A Fantatic's Book Blog!  Congratulations!

Do you love fierce heroines, fairy tale romance, and intense action?  We do!  That is why we've decided to give away our ARC (advance reading copy) of Jackson Pearce's Sisters Red!  Please check out our complete  review of Sisters Red here Sisters Red is a modernization of Little Red Riding Hood which was set for publication June 7th but appears to have arrived in many stores a week early!  :-)  It is the first book in a series of three companion novels which are each modernized fairy tales.  Sweetly is a modernization of Hansel and Gretel which is set for publication in 2011, and Fathomless will be a modernization of The Little Mermaid.  To learn more about Sisters Red and author Jackson Pearce, please visit the Sisters Red website or Jackson Pearce's blog, facebooktwitter, and YouTube channel.

Sisters Red Summary:
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.
Click here to read an excerpt from Sisters Red!

Sisters Red Trailer:

Buy Sisters RedIndieBound | Powell's | The Book Depository | Amazon | B&N
Add Sisters Red to your:  GoodreadsShelfari | Library Thing | Visual Bookshelf

Contest Details:
First prize (one winner) = a paperback ARC of Sisters Red by Jackson Pearce 

Contest deadline:
June 30 at 11:59 pm (PST)

How to Enter:
Follow The Eager Readers and fill out the form below. *required*
(Open to US residents only.)

Extra Entries:
+2 for sharing a link to this contest on your blog [sidebar is fine]
+2 for posting our blog button on your blog
+1 for tweeting the following link to this contest:
Book giveaway! Enter to win an ARC of Sisters Red by Jackson Pearce @TheEagerReaders! (ends 6/30) >>>
+1 for sharing a link to this contest on facebook
+1 for tallying your total number of entries  *required*

Thank you for entering our contest for an ARC of  Sisters Red!

Book Giveaway!!! The Iron King by Julie Kagawa!

The Iron King by Julie Kagawa!

Update (7/1):  CONTEST CLOSED!  The winner is T.V and Book Addict!  Congratulations!

Julie Kagawa's Iron Fey novella, Winter's Passage, which takes place just after the conclusion of The Iron King and before the beginning of The Iron Daughter, will be available as a free download tomorrow!  [Update (6/1): Click here to download Winter's Passage for free!]  In celebration of the release of Winter's Passage and because The Iron King is one of our favorite debut novels this year, we've decided to give away a copy of The Iron King here on The Eager Readers!  You can read our full review of The Iron King here.  If you would like to learn more about Julie Kagawa's books, please check out The Iron Fey website or Julie Kagawa's website and blog.

The Iron King Summary:
Meghan Chase has never fit in at her small-town high school, and now, on the eve of her 16th birthday, she discovers why. When her half brother is kidnapped, Meghan is drawn into a fantastical world she never imagined--the world of Faery, where anything you see may try to eat you, and Meghan is the daughter of the summer faery king. Now she will journey into the depths of Faery to face an unknown enemy . . . and beg the help of a winter prince who might as soon kill her as let her touch his icy heart. The Iron King is the first book in the Iron Fey series.
The Iron King Trailer:
Contest Details:

First prize (one winner) = a paperback copy of  The Iron King by Julie Kagawa

Contest deadline:
June 30 at 11:59 pm (PST)

How to Enter:
Follow The Eager Readers and fill out the form below. *required*
(Open to US residents only.)

Extra Entries:
+2 for sharing a link to this contest on your blog [sidebar is fine]
+2 for posting our blog button on your blog
+1 for tweeting the following link to this contest:
Book giveaway! Enter to win a copy of The Iron King by Julie Kagawa @TheEagerReaders! (ends 6/30) >>>
+1 for sharing a link to this contest on facebook
+1 for tallying your total number of entries  *required*

Thank you for entering our contest for The Iron King!

Book Review: The Dark Divine by Bree Despain

Title:  The Dark Divine
Author:  Bree Despain
Publisher:  Egmont USA
Genre: YA (paranormal)
Hardback: 372 pages
ISBN:  1606840576 
A prodigal son... A dangerous love... A deadly secret...

I stood back and watched his movements. Daniel had that way about him that could shut me down in an instant. . . . I kicked the gravel a couple of times and worked up my courage again. “Tell me . . . I mean . . . why did you come back? Why now, after all this time?”

Grace Divine, daughter of the local pastor, always knew something terrible happened the night Daniel Kalbi disappeared—the night she found her brother Jude collapsed on the porch, covered in blood. But she has no idea what a truly monstrous secret that night really held. And when Daniel returns three years later, Grace can no longer deny her attraction to him, despite promising Jude she’ll stay away.

As Grace gets closer to Daniel, her actions stir the ancient evil Daniel unleashed that horrific night. Grace must discover the truth behind Jude and Daniel's dark secret . . . and the cure that can save the ones she loves. But she may have to lay down the ultimate sacrifice to do it—her soul.

Overall rating: 7/10 flowers
To buy this book:  IndieBound | Powell's | The Book Depository | Amazon
Add this book to your:  Goodreads Shelfari LibraryThing | Visual Bookshelf

Grace's childhood crush sweeps back into town after having disappeared under mysterious circumstances years earlier. Why has he come back? What does he want from her? And is she willing to give him her heart even if it means ignoring her family's wishes or betraying her brother? Bree Despain's The Dark Divine is a romantic, paranormal YA novel inspired by the parable of the Prodigal Son.

What I Liked:
-      Grace's close-knit family is unusual in the sea of YA paranormal novels. That gave her a unique and memorable perspective. Parents are notoriously absent/neglectful/evil in YA novels, so the fact that this book features activities like family dinners, looking after younger siblings, and being expected to contribute to their church charity work made Grace's family dynamic stand out as something different from the average YA heroine's family dynamic.
-      I often have a soft spot for 'bad-boy' heroes, so I expected to like Daniel for his mysterious, 'bad-boy' qualities. Instead, I ended up liking him for the childhood crush he shared with Grace and for his nice-boy-with-a-secret-and-a-rough-past qualities.
-      I enjoyed Don's character. He remains a bit of a loose cannon throughout the story, so you are not quite sure what to expect from him, and that kept his roll interesting. He reminded me of Lennie in John Steinbeck's 
Of Mice and Men and Boo Radley in Harper Lee's To Kill a Mockingbird.
-      I liked Grace's fixation with the walnut tree, and nearly all of my favorite scenes involved that tree.
-      The details of Daniel's childhood were revealed in a way that was consistent with the rest of the story and got the point across without halting the rest of the story or becoming disturbingly graphic in the description of the abuse he endured.
-      The romance, while somewhat predictable, is sweet and compelling. I liked Daniel more than I liked Grace, who occasionally seemed a bit too selfless and 'perfect' to me, but I still wanted them to find a way to be together. I look forward to seeing what obstacles they will face in the next couple of books in this series.
-      The paranormal elements in this story have their own unique mythology and tie into the Divine family's religious beliefs quite convincingly. Daniel's story strongly parallels the parable of the Prodigal Son (Luke 15: 11-32), and I am curious to see if the upcoming books in this series will have elements of other parables.
-      This book did veer a little too close to preachy territory a couple of times, but I enjoyed the way the ideas of forgiveness, love, and sacrifice were woven into the fabric of the paranormal mythology.

What I Wished:
-     I strongly wished there were not time and location headers every few pages throughout this book.  Since the time and place were already obvious within the text, the headers seemed unnecessary, distracting, and redundant.  They were also strangely inconsistent.  Here are a few examples of these headers with my notes in parentheses:  "Downtown" (a location),  "Later, before school" (a time), "In the house, about twenty minutes later" (a time and a location), and "Avoidance" (not a time or a location).  Perhaps this was just my personal pet peeve and won't bother other readers, but I found the headers consistently unnecessary. 
-     The paranormal twist to this story is hinted at way too heavily to feel like much of a surprise once it is finally officially revealed, so I found myself wishing it would come out into the open much sooner than it actually did.
-     Jude annoyed me from start to finish, and although tried to understand Grace's desire to respect his wishes and honor his requests, I simply could not.  I understood that his irritating behavior was critical to the roll he played within the story of the Prodigal Son as well as the roll he played within the paranormal aspect of the story, but it succeeded in making me annoyed with Grace as well as Jude each time she chose to take his side.

The Dark Divine will appeal to fans of paranormal romances with fairly innocent heroines, like Stephenie Meyer's Twilight series, Maggie Steifvater's Shiver, and Shelena Shorts' The Pace.  If you would like to learn more about The Dark Divine or author Bree Despain, please visit her website | blog | facebooktwitter.  I am looking forward to checking out the sequel to The Dark Divine, The Lost Saint, which is scheduled to be released on December 28th.

My awesome friend Debbie from Cranberry Fries created this lovely trailer for The Dark Divine:

Friday, May 28, 2010

Book Blogger Hop!

Hi, Blog Hoppers!  Hope you are all having a fabulous Friday!  :-)

The Book Blogger Hop is hosted by Jennifer at Crazy-for-Books each Friday, and you can join in this week's hop by clicking here.

Thank you for stopping by.  We'd love to hear what you are looking forward to reading this weekend.  Richelle Mead's Spirit Bound is next up in our TBR pile.  What is next in your pile of books?  :-)

Flower Friday: Wisteria


Today's featured flower is wisteria!  This is a very hardy, fast-growing vine with clusters of beautiful purple flowers.  It blooms best in full sun, and the flowers begin to appear just before the leaves come in each spring.  The cascading clusters of flowers are long and fragrant, but they generally fade by the beginning of June, so wisteria spends the summer as a green, leafy, flowerless vine.   It grows quickly and can become very heavy and messy with lots of unruly shoots, so it requires sturdy support and heavy pruning each year.  In fact, ours definitely flower best when heavily pruned at least twice a year.  We have wisteria growing over an arbor structure to help provide shade in the summertime and another wisteria vine growing along one side of our house.  We have never had any pest problems with our wisteria, and it is such a vigorous climber that it is actually considered an invasive species in some areas.  You can read more about wisteria on Wikipedia's wistera page & the National Gardening Association's wisteria page.

Assorted book & blog updates:

1.  This weekend I plan to write a few reviews for books I bought & finished reading ages ago that somehow ended up lost in the blog shuffle.  So reviews for Brightly Woven, The Dark Divine, Academy 7, and Flash Burnout should be coming up soon.  I also need to review the first four Vampire Academy books.  I purchased Spirit Bound on Tuesday, but I am desperately trying not to let myself pick it up until after I've written at least three more reviews.  I may actually have to ask my husband to hide Spirit Bound from me because I seem to hear it calling my name every time I walk past it.  Haha!  ;-)

2.  You can read an excerpt from Kiersten White's Paranormalcy on HarperTeen's website here.

3.  YAthenum is hosting a fun giveaway (featuring Perchance to Dream as one of the prizes) this week.  It ends May 30th, and you can read more details about it here.

4.  A Bookworm's Haven interviewed Rachel Vincent this week and is giving away a signed copy of My Soul to Keep.  It ends June 8th, and you can read more about it here.

5.  You can read an excerpt from Julie Kagawa's upcoming novella, Winter's Passage, which is set between The Iron King and The Iron Daughter here.  Winter's Passage will be available as a free download from HarlequinTEEN beginning June 1st.

6.  Our giveaways for signed copies of Lisa Schroeder's Chasing Brooklyn and It's Raining Cupcakes are both ending Monday, so if you haven't entered already be sure to get your entry in soon.

7.  Keep an eye out for two more book giveaways to begin on Monday!  We will be giving away a copy of Julie Kagawa's The Iron King as well as an ARC of Sisters Red!!  :-)