Monday, November 29, 2010


Thank you to everyone who entered our Gratitude Giveaways!  Emails have been sent to both winners, and they each have three days to respond before new winners will be drawn.  :)

Jaidis won the signed copy of Kiss Me Deadly 
Nadinax won the signed copy of Soulless 

Friday, November 26, 2010

Flower Friday - Sunstruck

'Sunstruck' roses

This week's featured flowers are ''Sunstruck" roses!  These pretty hybrid tea roses have apricot-colored  petals with golden yellow and salmon pink highlights.  The yellow markings on the undersides of the petals set this rose apart from many other apricot blends.  'Sunstruck' has large, slightly-fragrant flowers and blooms in flushes  from early summer to early fall.  The foliage is dark green and somewhat glossy.   To learn more about about 'Sunstruck' roses, check out the 'Sunstruck' page at Dave's Garden, the 'Sunstruck' page at Sun Valley Garden Center, or the 'Sunstruck' page at HelpMeFind.

A quick blog note:

Hope you all had a lovely Thanksgiving and are having a relaxing holiday weekend.  We had our first snow of the season this week and enjoyed a deliciously fun holiday feast yesterday.   Yay!  Plus, we now have one extra thing to be thankful for: our laptop is finally back from the service center!  *insert happy dance here*

Happy reading!  :-)

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

"Waiting On" Wednesday: Nightspell by Leah Cypess

Title:  Nightspell
Author:  Leah Cypess
Publication date:  May 31, 2011
Leah Cypess':  website | twitter | facebook
Pre-order Nightspell:  IndieBound | Amazon | Powell's | Borders | B & N
Add Nightspell to your:  Goodreads | Shelfari | Visual Bookshelf | LibraryThing
Summary (from HarperTeen):
Here be ghosts, the maps said, and that was all.

In this haunted kingdom, ghosts linger—not just in the deepest forests or the darkest caverns, but alongside the living, as part of a twisted palace court that revels all night and sleeps through the daylight hours.

Darri's sister was trapped in this place of fear and shadows as a child. And now Darri has a chance to save her sister . . . if she agrees to a betrothal with the prince of the dead. But nothing is simple in this eerie kingdom—not her sister, who has changed beyond recognition; not her plan, which will be thrown off track almost at once; and not the undead prince, who seems more alive than anyone else.

In a court seething with the desire for vengeance, Darri holds the key to the balance between life and death. Can her warrior heart withstand the most wrenching choice of all? 

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

Friday, November 19, 2010

Flower Friday - Gold Medal

  'Gold Medal' roses

This week's featured flowers are ''Gold Medal" roses!  These hardy Grandiflora roses have warm yellow petals with light pink edges.  In our fairly mild climate, this disease-resistant rose blooms in clusters throughout the summer and into early fall.  The flowers have a light, spicy scent and the foliage is a lovely dark green.   To learn more about about 'Gold Medal' roses, check out the 'Gold Medal' page at Dave's Garden, the 'Gold Medal' page at Rose-Roses, or the 'Gold Medal' page at HelpMeFind.

A few book & blogoshpere notes:

1.  Hush, Hush and Crescendo author Becca Fitzpatrick will be chatting with the Mundie Moms on November 30th at 8 pm CST.  Stop by their blog to join the chat.

2.  Want to read Bree Despain's The Dark Divine before The Lost Saint arrives in stores on December 28th?  For a limited time, you can purchase The Dark Divine eBook for under $2.50 on Amazon or Barnes & Noble.

3.  If you enjoyed Cindy Pon's Silver Phoenix and are looking forward to reading Fury of the Phoenix when it arrives in stores next April, then you will want to enter the Fury of the Phoenix ARC contest on Cindy's blog (ends 12/1).

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Gratitude Giveaways! Two Books! Two Winners!

Thank you to everyone who entered! 
Nadinax won the signed copy of Soulless
Jaidis won the signed copy of Kiss Me Deadly

Thank you for stopping by to check out our Gratitude Giveaways!  We are giving away two signed books - Kiss Me Deadly and Soulless!  You can enter to win both giveaways by filling out the form below.  [Open to US followers only.  Contest deadline = November 28th at 11:59 pm PST.  Extra entries for following us on twitter (+1) and helping spread the word about our giveaways (+2).]

Enter to win Kiss Me Deadly: 13 Tales of Paranormal Love signed by Becca Fitzpatrick!  Kiss Me Deadly is an anthology featuring stories by thirteen fantastic YA authors (including Becca Fitzpatrick, Maggie Stiefvater, Carrie Ryan, Sarah Rees Brennan, Diana Peterfreund, Michelle Zink, and Rachel Vincent).  Becca Fitzpatrick signed this book for us at Wordstock & you can read our full event report here.
Enter to win a signed copy of Soulless by Gail Carriger!  Soulless is the first book in the awesome Parasol Protectorate series.  We had the pleasure of meeting Gail Carriger at a fun sci-fi/fantasy event last weekend & she is absolutely delightful!  If you like steampunk, historical fantasy, or paranormal mysteries, then you will definitely want to check out her Alexia Tarabotti novels!

There are over 175 blogs participating in the Gratitude Giveaways blog hop hosted by I Am A Reader, Not A Writer!  Be sure to check out the links below!

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Teaser Tuesday: The Native Star by M.K. Hobson

My teaser:
Emily set her jaw.  "I told you before, I'm not luggage you can put on a shelf whenever you feel like it.  I've been pawed at by zombies and chased by an Aberrant raccoon.  I can take anything that San Francisco has to dish out."
- page 105 of The Native Star by M.K. Hobson

Buy The Native StarIndieBound | The Book Depository Powell's | Amazon
Add The Native Star to your: Goodreads | Shelfari Library Thing Visual Bookshelf
Book Summary (from Goodreads):
In the tradition of Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell, this brilliant first novel fuses history, fantasy, and romance. Prepare to be enchanted by M. K. Hobson’s captivating take on the Wild, Wild West.

The year is 1876. In the small Sierra Nevada settlement of Lost Pine, the town witch, Emily Edwards, is being run out of business by an influx of mail-order patent magics. Attempting to solve her problem with a love spell, Emily only makes things worse. But before she can undo the damage, an enchanted artifact falls into her possession—and suddenly Emily must flee for her life, pursued by evil warlocks who want the object for themselves.

Dreadnought Stanton, a warlock from New York City whose personality is as pompous and abrasive as his name, has been exiled to Lost Pine for mysterious reasons. Now he finds himself involuntarily allied with Emily in a race against time—and across the United States by horse, train, and biomechanical flying machine—in quest of the great Professor Mirabilis, who alone can unlock the secret of the coveted artifact. But along the way, Emily and Stanton will be forced to contend with the most powerful and unpredictable magic of all—the magic of the human heart.

Teaser Tuesdays are 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 major spoilers.
  • Share the title and author, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR lists if they like your teaser!

Friday, November 12, 2010

Flower Friday - Cosmos


This week's featured flowers are - Cosmos!  These tall flowers are extremely easy to grow from seed and come in a wide variety of colors. Their foliage is airy and fern-like, so they make a very pretty backdrop for shorter flowers.  Cosmos are drought-tolerant, love full sun, bloom from mid-summer until first frost, and re-seed quite freely.  They thrive in poor soil conditions, and require almost no care.  Most Cosmos flowers have a light floral scent (with the exception of the 'Chocolate' variety which is famous for its a chocolatey vanilla fragrance), and they make beautiful cut flowers in wildflower arrangements.  To learn more about about Cosmos, check out the Cosmos page at Dave's Garden, the Cosmos page at Wikipedia, or the Cosmos page at

A brief blog update:

Sadly, I killed our laptop about two weeks ago, so the whole family is currently sharing our ancient (and painfully slow) PC.  The good news is that accidental damage is covered by our service plan (which is very fortunate since I managed to crack the screen and bend the power-supply pin).  But the bad news is that because I managed to destroy multiple parts of the laptop, it has to be processed through two separate service centers before making its way back to us.  *insert major laptop withdrawls here*  I really miss being able to keep up with all the bookish, blogish fun, so I am counting down the minutes until we get our laptop back.  But in the meantime, I will continue checking in and posting from our dinosaur-like PC as much as possible.
In happier news, we had the opportunity to meet Suzanne Collins last Sunday (so exciting!), and this weekend we plan to attend another awesome book event featuring several authors (including Gail Carriger and Ilona Andrews), so we'll have a couple of fun event reports to share as well as several reviews to catch up on in the coming weeks.  Plus, we can't wait to give away some fabulous signed books during our Gratitude Giveaway, so be sure to check that out on Wednesday (11/17).

Happy Reading!  :-)

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

"Waiting On" Wednesday - The Vespertine by Saundra Mitchell

Title:  The Vespertine
Author:  Saundra Mitchell
Publication date:  March 7, 2011
Saundra Mitchell's:  website | blog twitter | YouTube | facebook
Pre-order The Vespertine:  IndieBound | Amazon | Powell's | Borders | B & N
Add The Vespertine to your:  Goodreads | Shelfari | Visual Bookshelf
Summary (from
The summer of 1889 is the one between childhood and womanhood for Amelia van den Broek—and thankfully, she’s not spending it at home in rural Maine. She’s been sent to Baltimore to stay with her stylish cousin, Zora, who will show her all the pleasures of city life and help her find a suitable man to marry.

With diversions ranging from archery in the park to dazzling balls and hints of forbidden romance, Victorian Baltimore is more exciting than Amelia imagined. But her gaiety is interrupted by disturbing, dreamlike visions she has only at sunset—visions that offer glimpses of the future. Soon, friends and strangers alike call on Amelia to hear her prophecies. Newly dubbed "Maine’s Own Mystic", Amelia is suddenly quite in demand.

However, her attraction to Nathaniel, an artist who is decidedly outside of Zora's circle, threatens the new life Amelia is building in Baltimore. This enigmatic young man is keeping secrets of his own—still, Amelia finds herself irrepressibly drawn to him. And while she has no trouble seeing the futures of others, she cannot predict whether Nathaniel will remain in hers.

When one of her darkest visions comes to pass, Amelia's world is thrown into chaos. And those around her begin to wonder if she’s not the seer of dark portents, but the cause.

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

Friday, November 5, 2010

Flower Friday - Fourth of July

'Fourth of July' roses

This week's featured flowers are ''Fourth of July" roses!  These climbing roses have petals streaked in shades of red, white, and pink.  This disease-resistant rose is a vigorous climber that blooms in flushes throughout the summer and into the early fall.  The flowers have a very pleasant apple scent.   To learn more about about 'Fourth of July' roses, which are called 'Crazy For You' roses or Hanabi roses outside of the US, check out the 'Fourth of July' page at Dave's Garden, the 'Fourth of July' page at RogersRoses, or the 'Fourth of July' page at HelpMeFind.

A few book & blogosphere notes:

1.  Candace's Book Blog is hosting a fabulous "Steampunkery" event this month, featuring all sorts of fun steampunk-themed giveaways, interviews, book reviews, and guest blog posts!  Be sure to check it out here!

2.  Want to chat with Maggie Stiefvater, the talented author of Shiver, Linger, Ballad, Lament, and the upcoming Forever?  She'll be chatting with the Mundie Moms at 8 pm CST Thursday, November 11th.  Stop by their blog to join the chat.

3.  Looking for free ebooks for children?  Check out the International Children's Digital Library.  With thousands of fun books in a wide variety of languages, it is a wonderful place to find digital editions of old favorites (like Alice in Wonderland and The Wonderful Wizard of Oz) and a great place to browse through lots of excellent international selections.   Check it out here!

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Book Review: Pegasus by Robin McKinley

Title:  Pegasus
Author:  Robin McKinley
Publisher:  Putnam Juvenile 
Genre: YA/fantasy
Hardcover: 400 pages
ISBN: 1423116399
Release date:  Nov 2, 2010
FTC note:  My ARC of Pegasus was provided by the publisher for an honest review.
Summary from Goodreads:
A gorgeously-written fantasy about the friendship between a princess and her pegasus

Because of a thousand-year-old alliance between humans and pegasi, Princess Sylviianel is ceremonially bound to Ebon, her own pegasus, on her twelfth birthday. The two species coexist peacefully, despite the language barriers separating them. Humans and pegasi both rely on specially-trained Speaker magicians as the only means of real communication.

But it’s different for Sylvi and Ebon. They can understand each other. They quickly grow close—so close that their bond becomes a threat to the status quo—and possibly to the future safety of their two nations.
  • Overall rating: 9/10
Add this book to your: Goodreads | Shelfari Library Thing Visual Bookshelf

Robin McKinley's Pegasus is beautiful coming-of-age story about a young girl and the pegasus who becomes her dearest friend.  In Sylvi's world, it is customary for every member of the royal family to be ceremonially bound to a pegasus of comparable rank upon his or her twelfth birthday.  The pegasus generally serves as an ambassador-like companion, and the pair will attend most formal functions together for the rest of their lives as a symbol of the longstanding alliance between their cultures.  Each pair is assigned a Speaker, a specially trained magician, who serves as a translator and interpreter.  But even with the Speakers' aid, actual communication beyond formal pleasantries and rudimentary smalltalk has long been understood to be impossible between humans and pegasi.

So when Sylvi, the fourth child of the reigning human king, meets her pegasus, they are both shocked to find that they are able to hear one another's thoughts. Sylvi and Ebon's unique ability to communicate helps them form a friendship that could change the way humans and pegasi view one another forever.  But will their friendship make the alliance stronger or tear their cultures apart?  Pegasus is the type of richly-imagined fantasy novel that you can't help  immersing yourself in, and I found myself thinking about it long after turning the final page.  The characters are well-developed, the setting is intriguing, and the story is thoroughly engaging.  I really enjoyed it and can't wait to read the second book!

What I Liked:
-     The world-building.  I loved the way the differences between the human and pegasi cultures were revealed and explored.  Although the two races have lived side by side for hundreds of years, the seemingly insurmountable communication barrier has kept humans from truly understanding the pegasi.  I really liked seeing the details of both cultures revealed through Sylvi and Ebon's increasing understanding of one another.
 -     There may be magic and flying monsters in this book, but the characters all feel grounded and genuine.  At the heart of this story is a sixteen year old caught in a difficult and pivotal place between two worlds.  She is shy, self-conscious about her short stature, and frequently seems to find herself making mistakes in front of large crowds.  But Sylvi is also compassionate and observant, and she has a strong sense of justice.  She is very easy to sympathize with, whether she is nervous about her first big journey away from home or baffled by how much the world can change in a single moment.  I am eager to see what the second book has in store for her.
-     I loved Ebon and Sylvi's relationship.  Their personalities are remarkably suited to one another.  Both are curious and observant, and neither is afraid to question ideas their societies have accepted for centuries.  The more they learn about one another, the more they begin to examine their own cultural histories.  Sylvi is fascinated by the pegasi culture and some aspects of the book almost reminded me of a colonial love story between a European immigrant and a Native American. 
-     Even the minor characters in this book are memorable, and their relationships are all believably complex.  I found myself growing attached to several minor characters, like Hirishy, Ahathin, and Hibeehea, and I hope to see more of each of them in the second book.

What I Wished:
-     I wish the final pages of this book were less torturous.  This book ends in the midst of a fairly traumatic development and almost feels as though it cuts off mid-chapter.  The abrupt and unsatisfying ending is really my only complaint about this book, so I definitely look forward to reading the second half of the story in the sequel (which I believe is set for publication in 2012).

Pegasus is sure to please fans of Robin McKinley's previous novels.  This book made me want to re-read a few of my old favorites, like Beauty and Spindle's End.  If you enjoy young adult (or middle grade) fantasy novels like Shannon Hale's or Tamora Pierce's books, you will want to pick up Robin McKinley's Pegasus.  If you would like to learn more about Pegasus or Robin McKinley's other books, please visit her website, blog, facebook, or twitter.

Read the first three chapters of Pegasus here!

A second perspective:  Primrose really liked this book too.  Her thoughts:   "Pegasus was AWESOME!  I especially loved how Sylvi could fly with Ebon.  It would be so much fun to have a pegasus friend like Ebon.  I liked how Sylvi and Ebon could talk to each other silently, and I liked the way the author described each pegasus.  She made it easy to imagine them as creatures who look a lot like horses but move more like beautiful birds.  I had fun drawing my own versions of that type of pegasus, with flowers in their manes and fancy pouches around their necks just like Ebon."