Friday, October 29, 2010

Flower Friday - Kateryna

'Kateryna' roses

This week's featured flowers are ''Kateryna" roses!  These lovely shrub roses have light pink petals and bloom in clusters.  This shrub has dark green foliage and is about three feet tall and two feet wide.  The flowers have a mild scent and are still blooming in October at our favorite local park.   To learn more about about 'Kateryna' roses, check out the 'Kateryna' page at Dave's Garden, the 'Kateryna' page at RogersRoses, or the 'Kateryna' page at HelpMeFind.

A few book & blogosphere notes:

1.  There are still a couple more days to check out the Spooktacular Book Blog Giveaway Hop hosted by I Am A Reader, Not A Writer.  Eighty-eight blogs are participating, so there are tons of fun prizes up for grabs! (ends 10/31)

2.  Page Turners is hosting two Meet Us at the Crossroads chats this Sunday and Monday (10/31 and 11/1 at 8pm CDT).  On Sunday, they will be chatting with Karen Kincy, Linda Joy Singleton, Stacey Kade, Amy Brecount White, Joy Preble, Jordan Deen, and Judith Graves.  On Monday, they will be chatting with Angie Frazier, Jeri Smith-Ready, Kitty Keswick, Shannon Delany, Jackie Kessler, Lucienne Diver, and Tonya Hurley.  You can submit your questions and find out how to join both chats here.

Interested in participating in another fun YA author chat?  
On November 15th at 6 pm PST, you can chat with the authors of Beautiful Creatures and Beautiful Darkness, Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl, at Eve's Fan Garden.  

Awesome Book Event! Lois McMaster Bujold!

Lois McMaster Bujold

This week I attended a book signing event featuring the lovely Lois McMaster Bujold!  It was wonderful to meet her and to hear more about her writing process and her upcoming projects.  She is on tour promoting CryoBurn, the latest novel in her fantastic Vorkosigan series, and she also read two excerpts from the Vorkosiverse novel she is currently working on (a book about Ivan Vorpatril!).  Fun!  If you haven't read any of Lois's books yet, I highly recommend checking them out!  CryoBurn actually provides an excellent way to jump into her Vorkosigan saga because the hardcover edition comes with a CD that contains ebook versions of ALL the previous Vorkosigan books (with the exception of Memory, which was somehow forgotten - haha!).   Basically, you buy one book and get fourteen novels (and lots of extra goodies) free!  It's pretty hard not to love that.  If you prefer fantasy to sci-fi, you will want to check out Lois McMaster Bujold's Sharing Knife series or Chalion books.

To buy Cryoburn: IndieBound | The Book Depository Powell's | Amazon
Add CryoBurn to your: Goodreads | Shelfari Library Thing | Visual Bookshelf

I recorded a few videos during Lois McMaster Bujold's presentation.  The first, second, and third videos are of her reading a fairly long (and humorous) excerpt from the Ivan-centric Vorkosiverse book she is currently writing, and the final video is of her reading a second (and even funnier) excerpt from the Ivan book.  :-)

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

"Waiting On" Wednesday: Bonded by Blood by Laurie London

I usually feature YA novels as my WoW picks, but my lovely friend Laurie's Bonded by Blood cover image was just released this week & I simply must share it!  If you would like to read more about the Sweetblood novels, please visit Laurie London's website or check out A Debut Author's Journey, Laurie's wonderful series of guest posts at Romance University.

Title:  Bonded by Blood: A Sweetblood Novel
Author:  Laurie London
Publication date:  February 1, 2011
Laurie London's:  website | blog twitter | facebook 
Pre-order Bonded by Blood:  Amazon | Powell's | Borders | B & N
Add Bonded by Blood to your:  Goodreads | Shelfari | Visual Bookshelf

Summary from Goodreads:  
Deep within the forests of the Pacific Northwest, two vampire coalitions battle for supremacy—Guardian enforcers who safeguard humanity and Darkblood rogues who kill like their ancient ancestors. Now, Guardian team leader Dominic Serrano will be forced to choose between the vengeance he craves and the woman he can’t live without…
 Movie location scout Mackenzie Foster-Shaw has always known that she’s cursed to die young. No one can protect her from the evil that has stalked her family for generations—vampires who crave her rare blood type. Until one afternoon in a wooded cemetery, she encounters an impossibly sexy stranger, a man she must trust with her life.
 For Dominic, a man haunted by loss, Mackenzie satisfies a primal hunger that torments him—and the bond they share goes beyond heat, beyond love. She alone can supply the strength he needs to claim his revenge. But in doing so, he could destroy her…

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

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Teaser Tuesday: Pegasus by Robin McKinley

My teaser:
"Sylvi could see him standing up straighter and squaring his unpleasantly broad shoulders: she always thought of him in terms of how much light he blocked.  She understood with increasing alarm that her tiny mistake was not tiny at all."

- page 66 of Pegasus (ARC) by Robin McKinley

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 a few '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!

Friday, October 22, 2010

Flower Friday - Dream Come True + Friday Question

 'Dream Come True' roses

This week's featured flowers are ''Dream Come True" roses!  These lovely grandiflora roses have creamy yellow petals with warm pink edges.  It has dark matte green foliage and gets to be around five feet tall.  The large, long-stemmed roses have mild scent and are still blooming in October at our favorite local park.   To learn more about about 'Dream Come True' roses, check out the 'Dream Come True' page at Dave's Garden, the 'Dream Come True' page at Weeks Roses, or the 'Dream Come True' pages at HelpMeFind.

A few book & blogosphere notes:

1.  If you are looking forward to the release of Kimberly Derting's Desires of the Dead next March, you probably want to check out the prologue at Confessions of a Bookaholic.  (Warning:  Reading the prologue will most likely make the wait for Desires of the Dead seem even longer.)

2.  Want to chat with Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl about Beautiful Darkness?   The Mundie Moms are hosting a chat with both authors on Tuesday, October 26th at 9 pm (EST).  They are also giving away a signed ARC of Beautiful Darkness as well as lots of signed swag.  You can find that giveaway here  (ends 11/19).  Want another chance to win a copy of Beautiful Darkness?  Stop by and enter 
{ a book whore)'s 
Beautiful Darkness giveaway here (ends 11/6).
3.  Squeaky Clean reads is giving away three copies of Lindsey Leavitt's  debut novel Princess for Hire.  You can find that giveaway here (ends 10/25).

The "Friday Question" meme is hosted by Kim at 
ilaxSTUDIO.  This week's question (#134) is actually two questions:

1.  When you eat out, are you more likely to go to a restaurant you know you love , or try someplace new?
We are more likely to go to a favorite restaurant.   Unless we are trying out a restaurant that is new to town or stopping in at a
 random restaurant to see if they've added more vegan options to their menu since the last time we'd checked,
  we are pretty loyal to a handful of favorite restaurants in the area.  We have at least two or three favorite restaurants in every town we visit regularly, so even when we stick to frequenting favorites it doesn't really feel like our choices are too limited.

2.  When you have guests in town, where are your favorite places to take them to eat?  We try to find time to take them to Lotus Garden, Sweet Life, and Voodoo Doughnuts.  But if they aren't in the area  long enough to make the forty-five minute drive to any of those locations, we take them to China Blue, Izzy's, or Nearly Normals.

Book Review: Zombies vs. Unicorns

Title:  Zombies vs. Unicorns
Editors:  Holly Black & Justine Larbalestier
Authors:  Alaya Dawn JohnsonMaureen JohnsonCarrie RyanScott WesterfeldMeg CabotGarth NixKathleen DueyMargo LanaganNaomi NovikDiana PeterfreundLibba Bray, & Cassandra Clare
Publisher:  Margaret K. McElderry 
Genre: YA anthology
Hardcover: 432 pages
ISBN: 1416989536
Summary from Goodreads: 
It's a question as old as time itself: which is better, the zombie or the unicorn? In this anthology, edited by Holly Black and Justine Larbalestier (unicorn and zombie, respectively), strong arguments are made for both sides in the form of short stories. Half of the stories portray the strengths--for good and evil--of unicorns and half show the good (and really, really bad-ass) side of zombies. Contributors include many bestselling teen authors, including Cassandra Clare, Libba Bray, Maureen Johnson, Meg Cabot, Scott Westerfeld, and Margo Lanagan. This anthology will have everyone asking: Team Zombie or Team Unicorn?
  • Overall rating: 8/10
To buy this book: IndieBound | The Book Depository Powell's | Amazon
Add this book to your: Goodreads | Shelfari Library Thing Visual Bookshelf

Zombies vs. Unicorns is a fantastic YA anthology!  If you love zombies, unicorns, or any of the authors featured in this anthology, you are going to want to pick up a copy of Zombies vs. Unicorns as soon as possible.  With funny introductions from Holly Black and Justine Larbalestier, this diverse collection of zombie and unicorn stories by a wide assortment of talented YA authors is highly entertaining.  It has something for everyone - romance, intrigue, sci-fi, fantasy, tragedy, violence, heartbreak, and humor.  

The Highest Justice by Garth Nix
It seems fitting that this book starts with a story that features both a unicorn and a zombie.  This is a tale of deception and revenge about an unfaithful king and a dead queen.  It has a scheming sorceress, a touch of romance, and a unicorn who helps dispense justice.  Hard not to like that.

Love Will Tear Us Apart by Alaya Dawn Johnson
This author was totally new to me before reading the Zombies vs. Unicorns anthology, but I look forward to searching for more of her work because Love Will Tear Us Apart turned out to be my favorite story in the entire book.  This darkly funny, romantic, and intense story is about a teenage boy who finds himself hungering for a handsome lacrosse player (in more ways than one).  I'm a sucker for stories about broken boys, and this angsty love story features two broken boys who may just be perfect for one another (so long as one of them can control his cannibalistic urges).

The Purity Test by Naomi Novik
Hilarious!  This is probably the funniest story in the anthology.  Team Zombie may have my undying allegiance, but between The Purity Test and Princess Prettypants, Team Unicorn definitely deserves the prize for funniest story.  This story is set in modern day New York, where a teenage girl who is down on her luck unexpectedly finds herself helping a unicorn on his quest to rescue baby unicorns from a conniving evil wizard.  So funny!

Bougainvillea by Carrie Ryan
I liked this story a lot.  I love the way Carrie Ryan's zombie stories feature people pushed past their breaking points.  Plus, the idea of zombie pirates is just plain awesome.  Bougainvillea is set in a fully-imagined world in which the zombie apocalypse is upon us, and it cleverly brings to mind questions about how much of your humanity you'd be willing to lose in order to stay alive.

A Thousand Flowers by Margo Lanagan
For me, this was the weakest story in the anthology, and it definitely features the strangest human/unicorn relationship.  There are three different narrators, and unfortunately all three narrators are too disposable and too far removed from the emotional heart of the story for my taste.  I really wished that at least one part of the story had been narrated from the princesses' POV.  Since I didn't particularly care about the princess and thought her connection to the unicorn was very tricky to believe in, this story wasn't particularly compelling.

Children of the Revolution by Maureen Johnson
Hilarious and disturbing all at once!  I thoroughly enjoyed it.  This story is about a teenage girl who spends every penny she has flying to England to work on an organic farm with her boyfriend for the summer.  Once her slacker boyfriend ditches her, she finds herself miserable, broke, and stuck in dreary rural England.  So when an Angelina Jolie-esque celebrity (who lives in a secluded manor nearby) offers her a job working as a nanny, she quickly jumps at the opportunity.  But there is definitely something very odd about those children...

The Care and Feeding of Your Baby Killer Unicorn by Diana Peterfreund
 Set in Diana Peterfreund's world of killer unicorns, this story is a must-read for fans of Rampant and Ascendant.  It offers a view of the unicorns as both predators and an endangered species in need of compassion and protection.  This story also features an angsty best-friend romance that will resonate with lots of readers.

Inoculata by Scott Westerfeld
An excellent dystopian story about a small community of people who have found temporary refuge from the zombie-infested world by barricading themselves inside an old marijuana farm.  When one of the teens survives something that would normally have been fatal, it opens up a new world of possibilities.  I really liked this unique take on the zombie apocalypse, and I wish it had been longer because I wanted to see what happened next.

Princess Prettypants by Meg Cabot
First of all, can you even say the name Princess Prettypants without smiling?  I don't think that is possible, and I also don't think it is possible to read this story without laughing aloud.  This cleverly funny unicorn story is about a modern seventeen year old girl who is understandably shocked and mystified when she receives a unicorn for her (very disappointing) birthday.  This story features a boy-next-door romance (love that!), a unicorn who farts rainbows but goes all demon-eyed when facing down sexist jerks (hilarious!), and a Zack Efron birthday cake (even more hilarious!).  Major kudos to Meg Cabot for this totally entertaining unicorn story.

Cold Hands by Cassandra Clare
This is a zombie story that touches on one of my worst childhood fears - being trapped in a coffin.  It is also a love story and the tale of a corrupt leader of a village in which the living and the dead spend their days side by side.  It feels like a bittersweet fairytale, with zombies.  :-)

The Third Virgin by Kathleen Duey
This was definitely the most haunting and thought-provoking of the unicorn stories for me.  I loved it and was impressed by the way it dealt with the concepts of suicide, loneliness, and addiction from the perspective of an immortal unicorn who has the ability to heal people or steal their lives.  

Prom Night by Libba Bray
This haunting story about a town full of teenagers who outlived their parents in the zombie apocalypse is quite sad, but it is also told with a lot of humor and heart.  The teens are all survivors who have tried to stay optimistic and to maintain a sense of normalcy as they've dealt with the tragic deaths of their parents and classmates.  An excellent conclusion to the book, which will make you want to hug your loved ones while you still can.

Zombies vs. Unicorns is an awesome anthology.  If you have any interest in zombies, unicorns, compelling short stories, or any of the fabulous authors featured in this book, I highly recommend you pick up Zombies vs. Unicorns immediately.  Some anthologies have one or two gems in a sea of mediocre stories, but this one is full of great stories.  If you would like to learn more about this anthology, you can visit Simon & Schuster's Zombies vs. Unicorns page or click any of the contributing author's names above to visit their websites.

Friday, October 15, 2010

Flower Friday - Nicole

 'Nicole' roses

This week's featured flowers are 'Nicole' roses!  These floribunda roses have beautiful white petals with dark pink edges.  The foliage is dark green and glossy.  Rose season is coming to an end as the weather grows colder and wetter, and none of the roses in our yard will bloom again until next spring.  But a few rose varieties continue to bloom through the end of October, so we took a walk through the rose garden at our favorite local park to snap a few photos of the final roses of the season & we'll feature them as the next few Flower Fridays.  To learn more about about 'Nicole' roses, which are sometimes called 'KORicole', 'Raspberry Ice' or 'Tabris' roses and are often confused with 'Hannah Gordon' roses, check out the 'Nicole' page at Dave's Garden, the 'Nicole' page at HelpMeFind, the 'Nicole' page at Ozarks Gardens, or Martha Stewart's  'Nicole' page.

A few book & blogosphere notes:

1.  Can't make it to any of Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl's Beautiful Darkness tour stops?  Visit the Caster Chronicles' Blog TV channel to check out videos of their Austin tour appearance.  Kaleb Nation also shared the first in a series of video interviews with Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl this week, you can check that out here
2.  Pure Imagination is hosting an international Pre-Holiday Pre-Order Giveaway featuring pre-ordered copies of Stephanie Perkins' Anna and the French Kiss and Bree Despain's The Lost Saint.  You can check that out here ( ends 10/29).
3.  Reading Angel is hosting a fun Ghost-apalooza Giveaway featuring all sorts of goodies, including signed copies of Jeri Smith-Ready's Shade and Lee Nichols' Deception.  You can check that out here (ends 10/23).