Monday, November 28, 2011

Review: Liesl and Po by Lauren Oliver

Release date: 10/4/2011
Publisher: HarperCollins
Age Group: Middle Grade (Ages 8-12)
Pages: 320
Flirt Factor: Chaste/None
Overall: 5/5 stars

Summary from Amazon:

Liesl lives in a tiny attic bedroom, locked away by her cruel stepmother. Her only friends are the shadows and the mice—until one night a ghost appears from the darkness. It is Po, who comes from the Other Side. Both Liesl and Po are lonely, but together they are less alone.

That same night, an alchemist's apprentice, Will, bungles an important delivery. He accidentally switches a box containing the most powerful magic in the world with one containing something decidedly less remarkable

Will's mistake has tremendous consequences for Liesl and Po, and it draws the three of them together on an extraordinary journey.

Going into Liesl and Po I had high expectations. After reading Before I Fall and Delirium, both of which I loved, I knew Lauren Oliver's writing would be beautiful and that I'd instantly fall in love with the characters. However, neither of those books could prepare me for Liesl and Po. Liesl and Po was entirely different from Oliver's first two novels, and not just because it's a middle grade novel. In the beginning of my copy of Liesl and Po (I have an ARC so the finished copies may be different) Lauren Oliver talks about how much more personal for her Liesl and Po was compared to her other books, and it definitely shows through her writing.

Liesl and Po is a beautiful children's story with an excellent set of characters. You'll fall in love instantly with Po, the ghost who's forgotten what it's like to be human; Bundle, the cat-dog-ghost that brings a little bit of happiness to the dreariest of moments; Liesl, the determined little girl who loves her father; and Will, the alchemist's apprentice who seems to always be missing a hat.

Liesl and Po is both fast paced and mysterious, filled with twists and turns that intertwine the many characters lives. Lauren Oliver did a wonderful job with her world building, making you feel as if you were in that dark and dreary place or in the chaos of the Otherside. She writes a deeply personal and enchanting story about grief, adventure, and hope for new life.

Liesl and Po is so entirely different from Lauren Oliver's other works that it's almost impossible to put into words how I feel about this book. Liesl and Po is a mix of the haunting sadness of Coraline and the bravery and adventure of The Tale of Desperaux. I definitely recommend this book if you're looking for an exciting cast of characters, a little bit of adventure, and an emotional story.

Writing: 5/5 stars

Characters: 5/5 stars

Plot/setting: 5/5 stars

Ending: 5/5 stars

Visuals/drawings: 5/5 stars

Cover: 4/5 stars

Love always,


Monday, October 10, 2011

We have some winners!

So this week we started Fantasyfest with a fun giveaway. We gave away 1 mystery swag pack and copies of Frost by Marianna Baer and Cold Kiss by Amy Garvey.

Here are our winners chosen by

Winner of Cold Kiss and Frost:

Sniffly Kitty!

Winner of Mystery Swag Pack:
Lisa M!

Congrats guys!

Review: The God's Wife by Lynn Voedisch

Release date: August 9, 2011
Publisher: Fiction Studio
Age group: Older teens/Adults
Pages: 275
Flirt Factor: Playful
Source: Review copy from publisher - blog tour
Overall: 4/5 stars

This review is part of a blog tour from Pump Up Your Book. Visit for more tour dates and information.

Summary from Amazon: The women of ancient Egypt were the freest of any civilization on earth, until the modern era. In several dynasties of ancient Egypt the God’s Wives of Amun stood tall, priestesses of wealth and power, who represented the pinnacle of female power in the Egyptian state. Many called The God’s Wife of Amun second only to the Pharaoh in dominance. THE GOD’S WIFE follows the adventures of a 16-year-old girl, Neferet, who is thrust into the role of The Gods Wife of Amun without proper training. Surrounded by political intrigue and ensnared by sexual stalking, Neferet navigates the temple, doing her duties, while keeping her family name pristine and not ending up like her predecessor—dead. Meanwhile, a modern-day Chicago dancer, Rebecca, is rehearsing for a role in an ancient Egyptian production and finds herself blacking out and experiencing realistic dreams about life in Egypt. It’s as if she’s coming in contact with Neferet’s world. Are the two parallel worlds on a collision course? They seem to be, for Neferet has just used an old spell to bring protection to her world, and Rebecca meets a mysterious Egyptian man who says he’ll whisk her away to Alexandria. Magic and realism mix for a powerful ending in THE GOD’S WIFE.

If you've read several posts on our blog, you probably know I'm not a huge fan of historical fiction, yet I seemed strangely drawn to this one. The setting switching between ancient Egypt and modern day Chicago was an interesting way to write a historical fiction novel, and I found I enjoyed the book a lot more than other historical fiction that I've read before.
The God's Wife centers around two strong female protagonists. First there is Neferet, a 16 year old Egyptian princess who has just been given the prestigious title of God's Wife. Her job is to perform the sacred rituals that keep the god Amun happy. The other protagonist is Rebecca, a talented dancer in Chicago who has just won the lead role in her dance company's performance of 'Anubia'. As Neferet's position is threatened and strange things happen to Rebecca, causing her world to fall apart around her, Neferet and Rebecca's worlds begin to intertwine. It was very interesting seeing how Rebecca and Neferet 'interact' and affect each other, an aspect I have never seen in a historical fiction novel. The Egyptian details in the book were obviously well researched, and the reader finds themselves immersed in the political ins and outs of Egyptian society. I will admit, it wasn't quite as interesting to read Rebecca's parts, just because she wasn't as strong of a female character and the events surrounding Neferet were much more interesting.

Lynn Voedisch does a wonderful job of world building and her writing draws you in even further. You can tell Voedisch has worked hard on her writing, because it's fluid, has strong word choice, and makes you feel as if you were in the novel. Overall, The God's Wife is a new take on historical fiction that anyone would love. It's full of excitement, romance, and many plot twists and turns that will leave you wanting more.

5/5 stars
Characters: 4/5 stars
Plot/Setting: 4/5 stars
Ending: 5/5 stars

Love always,

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Chain Reaction by Simone Elkeles

Release Date: 08.16.2011
Publisher: Walker Books for Young Readers
Age Group: Young Adult
Pages: 308
Overall: (and a half if we gave half stars!)

Luis Fuentes has always been sheltered from the gang violence that nearly destroyed his brothers’ lives. But that didn't stop him from taking risks—whether he’s scaling a mountain in the Rockies or dreaming of a future as an astronaut, Luis can’t stop looking for the next thrill.

Nikki Cruz lives her life by three rules—boys lie to get their way, don’t trust a boy who says “I love you,” and never date a boy from the south side of Fairfield. Her parents may be from Mexico, but as a doctor’s daughter, she has more in common with her north-side neighbors than the Latino Blood at her school. Then she meets Luis at Alex’s wedding, and suddenly, she’s tempted to break all her rules.

Getting Nikki to take a chance on a southsider is Luis’s biggest challenge, until he finds himself targeted by Chuy Soto, the new head of the Latino Blood. When Chuy reveals a disturbing secret about Luis’s family, the youngest Fuentes finds himself questioning everything he’s ever believed to be true. Will his feelings for Nikki be enough to stop Luis from entering a dark and violent world and permanently living on the edge?

Fans of Elkeles won’t be disappointed in the last of the Fuentes brothers, Luis is just as hot and passionate as Alex and Carlos! He plays the Mexican hottie scandalously. His one defining characteristic is that he is a thrill seeker, an adventure junkie. So, it’s no surprise he finds himself in over his head and ends up in a perilous situation reminiscent of his brothers.

Chuy Soto says in the book, “Well, well…it’s a Fuentes family reunion,” and it totally is! We get bigger glimpses into Alex and Carlos’s life. Some of the best and most hilarious dialogue comes from Carlos. Seriously, I laughed out loud at some of the things he said. I also wanted to punch him in the gut for his stupidity too (he is my fav brother, if you couldn’t tell!).

The brothers make this book, their dedication and loyalty to their family is admirable and contagious. The love for they have for their girls (mama included) is sweet, endearing and such a precious thing that each of them holds so dear.

Oh, and least I forget Elkeles throws in a twist I didn’t see coming!!

While I enjoyed this book (I read it in one sitting) it's not quite as powerful as the first two books.



Saturday, October 8, 2011

In My Mailbox 10.9.11

In My Mailbox is a weekly bookish meme hosted by Kristi at The Story Siren. For In My Mailbox, book bloggers post about the books they got that week in the mail, from the book store, the library, etc. Here's our IMM for the week of 10.2.11 - 10.8.11.

Sweetly by Jackson Pearce (signed)

Thanks to Jackson Pearce.

For review/giveaway:
In the Forests of the Night by Kersten Hamilton
If I Tell by Janet Gurtler
I'm Not Her by Janet Gurtler
Going Underground by Susan Vaught

Thank you to Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, Sourcebooks, and Bloomsbury Teen

Lola and the Boy Next Door by Stephanie Perkins
Rules of Attraction by Simone Elkeles
Shut Out by Kody Keplinger
The Power of Six by Pittacus Lore
A Long, Long Sleep by Anna Sheehan
Silence by Becca Fitzpatrick
Modelland by Tyra Banks
The Son of Neptune by Rick Riordan

xoxo and love always,

Shelbie and Amanda

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

The Mortal's Library Ratings

If you are an old reader of our blog, you are probably familiar with our ratings. We do our reviews on an overall five star basis and ratings within separate categories. Well, we decided we'd define exactly what those star ratings mean.

Five Stars
*Fan Girl Squeal* This book has it all. We were up all night reading it and immediately went out and bought enough copies so that we have three of them. One copy to loan to friends, one to sit all pretty on our shelf forever, and one for us to read over and over again and write our fangirlish thoughts in while highlighting our favorite passages. We would love to live in this book and possibly marry one of the characters from it. Heck, we'd marry the author if it meant they'd continue writing forever.

Four Stars
Yay! A new book/author that we're genuinely excited about! There's a lot going on with this book, and we'd highly recommend it to our readers and our friends. This is a book that we'd buy and reread, and we'd love to read more books by this author.

Three Stars
An overall good book, one worth finishing, but not something we'd buy for ourselves or push upon our friends. Three star books are great for rainy days when you need something new and interesting to read.

Two Stars
A lot of things about this book just didn't click for us. We finished the book, but sort of wish we hadn't. The writer made a good attempt at creating an interesting and compelling story, but it just fell flat. This is not a book we would recommend to our friends or really a whole lot of people who appreciate a good book. However, this writer still has some potential so we encourage them to try, try again.

One Star
*groan* We either did not finish this book or really wish we didn't take the few days it took us to read it. There is a lack of character development, the sentences just aren't very well done, and there is no plot. Or possibly, there are plots or characters, but they're boring and overdone. We usually say that you should still try the book if it sounds like something you'd like, but we highly recommend skipping this one.


We have also decided to add a new part to our ratings system, and that is our Flirt Factor. Since our books tend to have a whole lot of romance in them, we thought we'd create a rating system for romance/pda. This can range anywhere from chaste to downright raunchy. This is an important rating to watch out for if you blush at certain scenes in books. Also, this rating may not be applied to a book if there really is no romance/love interest in the book.

Flirt Factor

Little to no romance/pda. Characters may flirt a little and share a few short kisses, but really nothing that would make you blush.
Example: No example at this time

A lot more flirty and romantic. Characters may share some steamy kisses and there is definitely some sexual tension. May allude to further sexual acts but doesn't actually describe them.
Example: Lola and the Boy Next Door

You might need the AC on for this book, and it'll probably make you blush. Full of flirting, fooling around, and sexual tension. The characters do... things. And describe them.
Example: The Duff

Not only do the characters do things, but they do them frequently and give you great detail about what is happening. These books will leave you blushing and overwhelmed with girlish desire. Recommended for older teens and adults only.
Example : We typically don't read these books so we don't have an example at this time.

Keep in mind, this is a rating system for YA books. The sexual scenes in these books are tame in comparison to adult romance novels and none of the books are inappropriate for people under 18.

Review: Frost by Marianna Baer

Release date: 9/13/11
Publisher: Balzer and Bray
Age Group: Young Adult
Pages: 400
Source: Publisher
Overall: 5/5 Stars

Leena Thomas’s senior year at boarding school starts with a cruel shock: Frost House, the cozy Victorian dorm where she and her best friends chose to live, has been assigned an unexpected roommate—confrontational, eccentric Celeste Lazar.

What Celeste lacks in social grace, however, her brother, David, a recent transfer student, makes up for in good looks and charm. But while he and Leena hit it off immediately, Leena finds herself struggling to balance her growing attraction with her fear of getting hurt.

As classes get under way, strange happenings begin to bedevil Frost House—frames mys-teriously falling off walls, doors locking by themselves, furniture toppling over. Celeste blames the housemates, convinced they want to scare her into leaving. And while Leena tries to play peacekeeper between her best friends and new roommate, soon the mysterious happenings in the dorm, an intense triangle between Leena, Celeste, and David, and the reawakening of childhood fears all push Leena to take increasingly desperate measures to feel safe. But does the threat lie with her new roommate, within Leena’s own mind . . . or in Frost House itself?(Summary from Amazon)

Fall and Winter of 2011 seem to be chocked full of eery ghost stories, and Frost by Marianna Baer is definitely one of my favorites. Baer starts off the book by introducing you to Leena's rambunctious group of friends and one very attractive David Lazar. Towards the beginning, I thought it was going to be your typical ghost story with a little romance thrown in, but it was so much more. As the characters deal with the stress of (possibly) having an angry ghost in their house, Marianna Baer introduces sensitive topics such as substance abuse, family relationships, and self-abuse (is that what it's called?)

Baer does a wonderful job of creating some complicated and interesting character relationships. Not only does she write a budding romance between Leena and David, but she also creates some interesting family and friend relationships. I really enjoyed the complicated brother-sister relationship between David and Celeste. It kind of felt like a scaled down version of the brother-sister relationship in Her and Me and You by Lauren Strasnick.

Along with character building, Marianna Baer also did a wonderful job of world building. I could see why Leena was so drawn to Frost House and had such strong feelings towards her school because Baer's writing made it feel comforting and homey. Her combination of interesting characters, a likable setting, and complicated plot twists made for an interesting new take on a ghost story and a book that is soon to become one of your new favorites. Marianna Baer has definitely got me interested in ghost stories and I can't wait to read more from her.

Characters: 5/5

Writing: 4/5

Plot: 5/5

Ending: 5/5

Love always,


Sunday, October 2, 2011

Fantasyfest 2011 kickoff with a giveaway!

Hey readers! If you were a follower of our blog last year at this time you probably remember that we hosted a month long event called Fantasyfest that focused on fantasy/paranormal YA fiction. We hosted tons of giveaways, had some author interviews, and some guest posts. That Fantasyfest was in August of last year. Well, this year we decided to push it back to October because we weren't ready for it in August and it's more fitting to have it in October. So... Fantasyfest is now moved to October!

Fantasyfest this year will be a bit different. This year it will be more giveaway-centered and will not feature any guest bloggers due to the fact that we didn't have the time to organize all of those and what not. So this year it will mainly be giveaways, themed reviews, and themed posts by us. The official schedule will be up within the next week. (Still waiting on some prizes to get in so we can be sure of the giveaways we're doing.)

Without further ado... let's have the first giveaway!

Majority of our giveaways this Fantasyfest will have (a) book(s) to giveaway and a swag pack. For our first giveaway we will have two winners. One winner will receive two books and the other will receive a (sort of) mystery swag pack. The swag packs are a sort of mystery because most of them contain the same things, but some will have more swag or special signed swag. We have loads of swag to give away including key chains, signed bookmarks/postcards from Victoria Schwab, Maggie Stiefvater and Tessa Gratton, and a whole lot more. Anyway, let's get to the prizes.

1st place winner will receive:
1 ARC copy of Cold Kiss by Amy Garvey
1 ARC copy of Frost by Marianna Baer

When her boyfriend, Danny, is killed in a car accident, Wren can’t imagine living without him. Wild with grief, she uses the untamed powers she’s inherited to bring him back. But the Danny who returns is just a shell of the boy she once loved.

Wren has spent four months keeping Danny hidden, while her life slowly unravels around her. Then Gabriel DeMarnes transfers to her school and somehow, inexplicably, he can sense her secret. Wren finds herself drawn to Gabriel, who is so much more alive than the ghost of the boy she loved. But Wren can’t turn her back on Danny or
the choice she made for him—and she realizes she must find a way to make things right, even if it means breaking her own heart.
Leena Thomas’s senior year at boarding school starts with a cruel shock: Frost House, the cozy Victorian dorm where she and her best friends chose to live, has been assigned an unexpected roommate—confrontational, eccentric Celeste Lazar.

What Celeste lacks in social grace, however, her brother, David, a recent transfer student, makes up for in good looks and charm. But while he and Leena hit it off immediately, Leena finds herself struggling to balance her growing attraction with her fear of getting hurt.

As classes get under way, strange happenings begin to bedevil Frost House—frames mys-teriously falling off walls, doors locking by themselves, furniture toppling over. Celeste blames the housemates, convinced they want to scare her into leaving. And while Leena tries to play peacekeeper between her best friends and new roommate, soon the mysterious happenings in the dorm, an intense triangle between Leena, Celeste, and David, and the reawakening of childhood fears all push Leena to take increasingly desperate measures to feel safe. But does the threat lie with her new roommate, within Leena’s own mind . . . or in Frost House itself?

2nd place winner will receive:
1 mystery swag pack!

To enter the giveaway, just fill out the form below. Make sure to check out our giveaway policy on our policy page first! This contest is USA only and ends 10/9/11 (not the 8th like the form says) at 11:59 pm Central Standard Time.

Monday, September 26, 2011

Shut Out by Kody Keplinger

Release Date: 09.05.2011
Age Group: Young Adult
Publisher: Poppy
Pages: 273

Most high school sports teams have rivalries with other schools. At Hamilton High, it's a civil war: the football team versus the soccer team. And for her part, Lissa is sick of it. Her quarterback boyfriend, Randy, is always ditching her to go pick a fight with the soccer team or to prank their locker room. And on three separate occasions Randy's car has been egged while he and Lissa were inside, making out. She is done competing with a bunch of sweaty boys for her own boyfriend's attention.

Lissa decides to end the rivalry once and for all: she and the other players' girlfriends go on a hookup strike. The boys won't get any action from them until the football and soccer teams make peace. What they don't count on is a new sort of rivalry: an impossible girls-against-boys showdown that hinges on who will cave to their libidos first. And Lissa never sees her own sexual tension with the leader of the boys, Cash Sterling, coming.

Inspired by Aristophanes' play Lysistrata, critically acclaimed author of The Duff (Designated Ugly Fat Friend) Kody Keplinger adds her own trademark humor in this fresh take on modern teenage romance, rivalry and sexuality.

Kody Keplinger has a way of writing characters that are so realistic that you genuinely feel like you've met them and personally know them, after reading about them. Her dialogue is fresh, completely realistic, and when I read it I'm constantly left thinking things like: "I'm pretty sure I've actually HAD that conversation with my friends before." She has a way of weaving a story which seems like it would be simple, but when it's all put together it creates one powerhouse of a story. If you haven't read a book by Kody Keplinger yet, you're completely missing out!

I'm a reader who loves her characters. If I don't like the characters, I generally don't like the books. In Shut Out, I never had that problem at all. Lissa, the main character, was insecure, yet she was full of sass. She had a douche of a boyfriend, and I was seriously so proud of Lissa for how she handled the different situations that Randy put her through. So freaking proud...I may have even actually said "You go girl!" while reading. :P

Now onto the yummy and awesome-tastic Cash, who was so awesome I just added a -tastic when describing him. He was smart, about most things anyways, and just all around amazing. The chemistry between Cash and Lissa was so amazing, and I found myself gushing over every single moment that they were together. I loved that Cash was more than just a jock too. He's a soccer player...which seems like it shouldn't be a big deal, but in Lissa's school, it is. Instead of there being rivalries with other schools, they have a rivalry within the school. The soccer and football teams endlessly torment each other, and it even leads to violence. It's even gotten to the point where the players don't even remember why their whole rivalry started.

She starts the whole hook-up strike because she's fed up with her boyfriend, Randy, placing more importance on the rivalry than he does on their relationship. She's also fed up with the violence after a soccer player gets injured after one of the football teams "harmless" pranks. Lissa manages to get a bunch of the girls on her side, and she leads them, and she helps keep them from caving in to their boyfriends. Then the boys start fighting back.

I absolutely loved Shut Out, if that wasn't already obvious. I loved the idea, the way it was written, and the characters. This story was hilarious, and I encourage everyone to read it! I really don't think you'll be disappointed!



Review: Deviant by Adrian Mckinty

Release Date: October 1, 2011
Publisher: Amulet Books
Age Group: Young Adult
Pages: 368
Overall: 3/5 Stars
Source: Netgalley ARC

Summary From Amazon: Danny Lopez is new in town. He made a mistake back home in Las Vegas, and now he has landed at an experimental school in Colorado for “tough cases.” At the Cobalt Charter School, everything is scripted—what the teachers say, what the students reply—and no other speaking is allowed. This supercontrolled environment gives kids a second chance to make something of themselves. But with few freedoms, the students become sitting ducks for a killer determined to “clean up” Colorado Springs.

I hadn't heard much about Deviant or Adrian McKinty before, so when I picked up this book I wasn't sure what to expect. But before I get on to the actual review I'd like to bring up some things that are incorrect from the blurb (which really bugs me). First, Danny did not make a mistake in Las Vegas, or at least the book doesn't say so. Instead, his mother gets a new job in Colorado so that's how they moved there. Also, the blurb makes it sound like the children are getting threatened or something at school. This is not the case as most of the action takes place outside of the school. Just had to set that straight before the review.

Anyways, this book was a pleasant surprise, but also had a few let downs. I found that it had a good plot that kept you interested as you tried to figure out who terrorized the town. (Okay, terrorized isn't exactly the right word, but I don't want to give anything away.) There was a good mix of characters, although it seemed like all the guys liked Danny's friend Tony (Antonia), which got a bit repetitive. I did like the two warring friend groups in the school, as they provided a lot of action and helped the reader make real life connections. As far as subplots, there was a lot going on. First there was Danny and Tony's group being detectives about the town criminal, then the dynamics between the two groups at school, Danny and the Principal's relationship, Tony and Danny's relationship, and the short chapters from the criminal's POV. However, I felt like there was so much going on that Adrian McKinty didn't have enough time to develop a main plot. I think maybe the author was trying to add depth to their story, but it just came off as trying too hard. McKinty tried adding little idiosyncrasies to the characters and giving them more purpose, but it just didn't work. I thought it was strange that Danny called his mom Juanita even though she was his biological Mom and he lived with her his whole life. Danny's issues with his MIA biological father were also just sort of thrown in there and felt out of place. As for the criminal(s), because the author focused on so much else throughout the book we only got a vague idea of their purpose for what they did. So overall, McKinty was good at throwing in bits of mystery and suspense, but tried too hard when attempting to give the book some depth. It was still a good book, but just a bit lacking for me.

Writing: 4/5 stars
Characters: 3.5/5 stars
Plot: 3/5 stars
Ending: 4.5/5 stars
Cover: 4/5 stars

Feel free to tell me what you thought!

Love always,


Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Guest Post on Hero Creation with Atonus Perry

Hey guys! As part of a blog tour we have a fun guest post from Atonus Perry, the author of Sinexia : The Mark of Perillius.

Sinexia is a bastard world that never should have existed. Its birth was an accident. Born of war and anointed with savagery, its lands were conquered by magicians, monsters, and creatures that some would revere as gods or demons. Just as Earth holds Sinexia's Origin, Sinexia holds the fate of the Earth. The Sinexia series chronicles the events that bond Earth and Sinexia. Read them and become engrossed in the tales of honor, love, despair, and action that cycle in a ring of creation and cataclysm. The Mark of Perillius follows the adventures of a young orphan who inherits the powers and abilities of his fabled ancestor. He is taken from the only normalcy he has ever known and tossed into a world of mystery and magic. Once there, he must learn to master his newfound abilities while encountering a host of rich characters, places of wonder, and dire situations.


I keep getting asked how I came up with the protagonist for Sinexia: The Mark of Perillius. I do enjoy talking about it, but I am going to write it here so that I will still be able to answer this question when old age starts to claim my memory.

I wanted to write about a hero, but I wanted to show his progress in a gradual kind of way. When I was in junior high and high school, Dragonball and Dragonball Z was a very popular animated series. One of the things I really enjoyed bout the series was that it chronicled the events surrounding a young boy and continued to follow him when he reached adulthood. I liked the way it was done so much, that I did a similar thing in The Mark of Perillius. The exploits in the first Sinexia span nine years. The protagonist begins as a teenage orphan and has reached adulthood by the book’s end.

Although I write about beings with fantastic super powers, I felt it was vital for me to show traits that are not typical for heroes in my protagonist. So, I made him rash, impulsive, and selfish. Those traits, along with a tendency to wallow in his own self pity, earned him the disdain of even me! He was very un-heroic. Through the events in The Mark of Perillius, he grows into someone worthy of the title hero. Disdain turns to adoration and a hero is born.

I really just tried to make him human. I gave him faults, goals, and secrets. I also gave him passion, and love.

This is a progression that I have witnessed first hand. I have cousins who were hellions and have turned into upstanding pillars in their community. Everyone is given the opportunity to rise to the occasion. It how we meet these challenges that determine the titles we are worthy of.

Sinexia book trailer

A big thanks to Atonus Perry! Make sure to go check out his book, Sinexia: The Mark of Perillius!

xoxo and love always,

Shelbie and Amanda

Monday, September 19, 2011

Lucky Number 7

Okay, so Princess Bookie is hosting Contest Craze, a fun event at her blog full of fun mini challenges by other bloggers. One of the mini challenges is the lucky number 7 challenge by Jessi from The Elliott Review.

So what exactly is the lucky number 7 challenge? Well, you open up to the book you are currently reading, go to page 7, look at the 7th word (if it is an article like a, an, the you go to the next word)and type that word into the Google search bar.

The book I picked is Sweetly by Jackson Pearce. The seventh word happens to be witch.

So here is my picture and my book!


I though it was pretty cool that it came up with a Puritanical witch image. Kind of Salem Witch Trials -esque.

Anyways, make sure to go see the other mini challenges and do your lucky number seven!

Love always,


Monday, September 12, 2011

BBAW: Blogger Interview Swap

Hi guys! So if you've been anywhere in the book blogging world lately, you probably know that this week is Book Blogger Appreciation Week. As a part of BBAW, there is a book blogger interview swap. We're very excited to be interviewing Roberta from Wrapped in Foil. Roberta is a scientist, writer, and mother who reviews children's books. Her blog is great if you're a parent looking for good books for your kid or just someone who's a little kid on the inside. To visit Roberta's blog, click HERE. Roberta also has a science blog called Growing With Science. Make sure to stop by Roberta's blog to see her interview with us and find some great children's books. Also, stop by the BBAW Interview Swap Day pageto check out the rest of the interviews! Without further ado, let's welcome Roberta!

Okay, so we're going to start out with a really random but fun question. What is an interesting fact or two that not many people know about you?
I once helped build a boat out of cardboard that actually floated on a lake and carried people.

That's actually really cool. That must've been loads of fun! So, you review children’s books, what made you decide on that genre to review? What got you interested in it?
That is an easy question. When my son was born, I wanted to read to him every day like my mother had for me. As with many new parents, I wasn't knowledgeable about current children's books, so I had to start researching what was out there. Every year my son's interests and needs changed and I kept researching. The more I discovered, the more I became committed to promoting children's literacy.

Children's books remain appealing to me for a couple of reasons. I love the art in picture books, I'm definitely a visual person. I admire how children's book authors are able to distill a huge mound of information into a few perfectly chosen words. To me, that is more impressive than authors who chug out a series of books with thousands of words.Reviewing children's books has an added benefit: I can read a children's book quickly when I want to do a last minute review. I probably would give up book blogging if I had to finish a full length book each time. :-)

Besides children’s books, what are some of your favorite types of books to read?
I read a lot of adult nonfiction (science/nature), but I also read some fiction and I have been a mystery fan forever. This month, in addition to the review books, I have been reading The Help by Kathryn Stockett, books from the Mrs. Pollifax mystery series by Dorothy Gilman, and Words in a French Life by Kristin Espinasse. I especially like the last one because the book is based on her blog. I am always inspired by bloggers who get published. I will be adding Wither and a few others I was on your blog to my TBR.

Well we're glad you found some new books to add to your pile on your blog. Anyway, on your blog you mentioned that you started blogging as part of National Novel Writing Month, what got you interested in writing?
When you love books, it isn't much of a leap to realize you want to have your own out there.

That makes sense. We always thought it'd be cool to have a book of our own, too. Okay, now for another fun question. If you could meet any one person in the world, from the past or the present, who would it be and why?
When I was in graduate school, the building I worked in was named for a man and his wife. Her name was Anna Botsford Comstock. Intrigued, I looked into the story of her life. It turns out she was the first woman professor at Cornell University. She was an artist, teacher, prolific writer and outstanding naturalist. She wrote the Handbook of Nature Study in 1911, and it is still in press today. I would love to go back to her time and talk with her.
Why? Because she had so many diverse interests (similar to mine) and was successful enough to break barriers.

We always love to hear what someone’s favorite part about blogging is. So what is your favorite part about blogging, what gets you excited about it?
Blogging has so many benefits; some tangible, some not so tangible. I think everyone loves to hear comments about what they posted, to know someone read what they wrote and cared enough about it to reply. It is wonderful to get to know other bloggers, in particular, which is why I signed up to do the BBAW.

I really like the visual aspect of blogging, too. In some of my other blogs, I post quite a few photographs. Getting to play with images and color is fun, and it so easy using blogging software.

Yeah, we saw lots of those pictures not only on your book blog, but on your science blog. How does your love of science influence your reading and/or writing?
Being a science/nature geek definitely influences my reading, because I do tend towards science-related nonfiction. As for writing, I have to say because I learned how to do scientific writing first, it has probably been a hindrance to creative writing. Scientific writing is full of the passive voice, for example, which is a big no, no in English class.

You’ve been blogging for quite a while, how has blogging changed your reading tastes or your writing style, if at all?
Actually, I was hoping that blogging would improve my writing, but I find that readers give no feedback about the writing itself, and without feedback it is hard to improve. I do think it helped me with finding different voices, especially with the different blogs. I can probably gather my thoughts and get something down on paper more quickly, too.

Now for a last fun question. Both of us are kind of twitter fiends, and we love to find new and interesting people to follow. Who is one of your favorite people to follow on twitter and why?
After playing with lists and such, I decided the best way to treat my diverse interests was to have two Twitter accounts, @RobertaGibson for books/writing and @ScienceAntics for geeky science/nature stuff. In the children's book world, @FuseEight is definitely the person to follow.

Again, thank you to Roberta from Wrapped in Foil! Also make sure to follow all the fun happenings of Book Blogger Apreciation Week and check out all the other interviews to learn more about your follow bloggers.

xoxo and love always,

Shelbie and Amanda

Thursday, September 1, 2011

This is just an update post, but it has Fantasyfest 2011 information, so you might want to read.

Hi, my name is Shelbie and recently I've been rejecting my baby (this blog) for a multitude of different reasons that all add up to equal I'm procrastinating............. :)

I have to do a TON of reviews I'm so behind and I am terribly sorry for getting so behind. 

Here is a list of reviews that will go up soon (hopefully)

  • Are You Going to Kiss Me Now? by Sloane Tanen 
  • Shut Out by Kody Keplinger
  • Fat Cat by Robin Brande
  • Chain Reaction by Simone Elkeles
I think that's it. So I suppose I've been farther behind. 

However that brings me to topic number two.

Amanda and I are planning to have a second annual fantasyfest, our last one was in August of 2010 and it was a big hit. We were going to do it again but do to the fact that we've both been behind on things we have to do (especially with the blog) we were unable to get it ready in time for August.

So we decided to push it back to September, which seeing as it is the first of September and we have planned next to nothing out, I think it is safe to say that we won't be having it then either. 

So now Fantasyfest 2011 will be held in October. Which sort of makes sense with Halloween and stuff of that nature :)

But, we actually need your help with that part.

We need bloggers to help with Fantasyfest! It's a great way to interact with new people, possibly get more followers, and just have an awesome time in general. If you would like to help us out with Fantasyfest (and I hope you do!), please fill out the form below.

Any blog can participate, in fact we encourage all different types to enter so we can have a variety.

So, please fill out the form if you would like to be an official participant in Fantasyfest 2011, and I'm going to write some of the posts I'm behind on :)


Tuesday, August 30, 2011

You Found It!

Yes indeed you did find it.

Well what did you find? If you don't already know...

You found the letter ..........
What does this letter entitle you to you ask? Well, if you go to Tera Lynn Childs' blog here, she will give you all the answers, and if you find all the letters scattered about the internet and put them together you may get the title for SWEET VENOM 2!!

If you guess it right you may get super fabulous awesome prizes!

But be quick, because you're competing against me and Amanda. And we want the super fabulous awesome prizes too. :)

Good luck!

xoxo and Love Always,
Shelbie and Amanda

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Review: The Near Witch by Victoria Schwab

Release date: August 2, 2011
Publisher: Hyperion
Age Group: Young Adult
Pages: 288
Overall: 5/5 stars

Summary from Amazon: The Near Witch

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Review: Epic Fail by Claire LaZebnik

Release date: August 2, 2011
Publisher: HarperTeen
Age Group: Young Adult
Pages: 304
Overall: 4/5 stars

Summary from Amazon:
Will Elise’s love life be an epic win or an epic fail?
At Coral Tree Prep in Los Angeles, who your parents are can make or break you. Case in point:
As the son of Hollywood royalty, Derek Edwards is pretty much prince of the school—not that he deigns to acknowledge many of his loyal subjects.
As the daughter of the new principal, Elise Benton isn’t exactly on everyone’s must-sit-next-to-at-lunch list.
When Elise’s beautiful sister catches the eye of the prince’s best friend, Elise gets to spend a lot of time with Derek, making her the envy of every girl on campus. Except she refuses to fall for any of his rare smiles and instead warms up to his enemy, the surprisingly charming social outcast Webster Grant. But in this hilarious tale of fitting in and flirting, not all snubs are undeserved, not all celebrity brats are bratty, and pride and prejudice can get in the way of true love for only so long.
I bought Epic Fail by Claire LaZebnik on an impulse because I had heard wonderful things about it and because it's a modern day retelling of Pride and Prejudice. So of course, I had high expectations for this book.
Epic Fail starts off with Elise and Juliana Benton moving to a new prep school in LA where their mother is the principal. As soon as Juliana starts hanging out with the popular crowd which includes Chase and Derek, our new Mr. Darcy, there is instant tension/attraction between Elise and Derek. Derek has a guarded and some what jerkish view of the world thanks to his celebrity upbringing, and Elise has her parents' conservative values, leading to some conflicts of interest. But when your sister, whom you adore, loves the jerk's best friend, what are you going to do? Ignore him? So of course, much like in the real Pride and Prejudice, Elise is forced to endure the (incredibly attractive) presence of Derek Edwards.
I thought Claire LaZebnik did an excellent job of creating a cute contemporary romance novel. The plot was wonderful. Full of moments where Elise and Derek couldn't decide if they hated or adored each other, there was plenty of romance. And of course, there were plenty of interesting family members and characters who brought little quirks to the story. LaZebnik did a great job of including all of the chaotic members of the Benton family and the pretentious ones from Derek and Chase's families. LaZebnik artfully showed the themes of pride and prejudice in a new way, still managing to show how vicious our prejudices can make us. She also did a good job of incorporating Webster Grant, Elise's other love interest who isn't exactly as he seems.
While LaZebnik created a fabulously funny contemporary romance, at times I did feel like some of the wording was a bit awkward, like she was trying a bit too hard to make the book modern yet still similar to Pride and Prejudice. Sometimes the banter between the characters was cute, but at other times it was just trying too hard.
For the most part, Claire LaZebnik payed careful attention to detail when creating similarities between Epic Fail and Pride and Prejudice, but sometimes the connections didn't really work. She portrayed the so-nice-they're-naive Chase and Juliana perfectly, and made Elise's little sister Layla and Chase's little sister Chelsea plenty annoying, but there was a bit lacking with Elise and Derek's characters. I felt at times they were a bit too forgiving and weren't as stubborn as the characters in Pride and Prejudice.
However, if I hadn't read Pride and Prejudice before this I don't think I would have minded at all. Overall, Claire LaZebnik has created a cute and insanely funny romantic read perfect for summer, and it definitely wasn't an Epic Fail.
Writing: 3.5/5 stars
Plot: 5/5 stars
Characters: 4/5 stars
Ending: 5/5 stars
Cover: 3.5/5 stars

Hope you enjoyed this review!
Love always,

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Between the Lines by Tammara Webber

Release Date: 04.29.2011
Age Group: Young Adult
Pages: 606

When Hollywood It Boy, Reid Alexander, arrives on location to shoot his next movie, his goals are the same as always—film another blockbuster hit and enjoy his celebrity status to the fullest while doing so. His costar is a virtual unknown with whom he had blazing hot chemistry during her auditions. The universe is lining up nicely to grant whatever he wants, as usual, until he’s confronted with unexpected obstacles on location like a bitter ex-girlfriend and a rival for the first girl to spark his genuine interest in years.

Emma Pierce just got her big break after more than a decade of filming commercials for grape juice, department stores and tampons, and more recently, bit parts in made-for-TV movies. Nailing the lead role in a wide-release film sent her agent, father and stepmother into raptures, and should have done the same for her. The Problem? Emma is experiencing a building desire to be normal, and starring in a silly, modernized adaptation of one of her favorite novels—opposite the very hot Reid Alexander—isn’t going to advance that aspiration.

Graham Douglas doesn’t fear playing the part of a nerdy dimwit; when it comes to choosing film roles, if it pays, he’ll do it. Besides, his friend Brooke Cameron snatched up the role of the bitchy hot girl and could use his help as a buffer, because her ex is the star. Graham has no problem keeping a handle on the situation, until he finds himself attracted to Reid’s costar, Emma, the girl Reid is pursuing full-throttle with his standard arsenal of charm, good looks and arrogance.

Between the Lines is a lovely light and fluffy read and was right up my alley after meeting my celebrity soulmate in California. (He is my soulmate, he just doesn't know it yet ;) )

Reid Alexander is a teenage heartthrob who is on location for his new movie. All he wants is to film another blockbuster and enjoy his celebrity status to the fullest while doing so. Emma Pierce is his unknown co-star with whom he shares unbelievable chemistry both on and off screen. There is one big problem - Reid's ex-girlfriend Brooke Cameron has also snagged a lead role in the movie. Then to add even more spice to this delicious potluck, good-looking Indy actor Graham Douglas will give Reid lots of competition when he too finds himself attracted to Emma.

Tammara Webber's unique writing style uses the alternating voices of both Reid and Emma to tell this realistic, edgy romp into Hollywood-style movie-land where voyeuristic paparazzi wait around every corner to share each newly discovered sordid secret live with the world. Webber does not hesitate to write interesting yet flawed characters with depth and yet she still manages to make the reader care.

So grab some favourite snacks, throw on some comfy clothes and then lay back and relax and enjoy this fun book and when you are sad that you are all done you can lift your spirits by knowing that Webber plans a sequel for this fall. Wahoo!

Also, I did not predict the ending, which is surprising because I am usually quite good at predicting endings.

Overall, if you are looking for a fun and uplifting read for not very expensive at all (i think it was 2.99 on my nook) i highly recommend you check out this book.



The Scorpio Races by Maggie Stiefvater book trailer

Unless you've been living under a rock, you've probably heard of Maggie Stiefvater. You know... she wrote Lament and Ballad, and her ever-so-awesome Wolves of Mercy Falls Series? No, doesn't ring a bell? If that didn't ring a bell... then get out from under your rock, get yourself on Goodreads or Amazon and look up the books. Then come back here and watch Maggie Stiefvater's amazing (as always) trailer for her upcoming new release, The Scorpio Races.

A bit about the Scorpio Races...

It happens at the start of every November: the Scorpio Races. Riders attempt to keep hold of their water horses long enough to make it to the finish line. Some riders live. Others die.

At age nineteen, Sean Kendrick is the returning champion. He is a young man of few words, and if he has any fears, he keeps them buried deep, where no one else can see them.

Puck Connolly is different. She never meant to ride in the Scorpio Races. But fate hasn’t given her much of a chance. So she enters the competition — the first girl ever to do so. She is in no way prepared for what is going to happen

And now the book trailer...

Looks awesome, right?

Well... to pre-order it click HERE . It will also be available for purchase wherever books are sold on October 18, 2011.

You can also pre-order autographed copies of The Scorpio Races HERE.


Love always,


Beautiful Disaster by Jamie McGuire

Release Date: 05.26.2011
Publisher: Jamie McGuire, LLC
Age Group: Young Adult
Pages: 454

The new Abby Abernathy is a good girl. She doesn’t drink or swear, and she has the appropriate percentage of cardigans in her wardrobe. Abby believes she has enough distance between her and the darkness of her past, but when she arrives at college with her best friend America, her path to a new beginning is quickly challenged by Eastern University’s Walking One-Night Stand.

Travis Maddox, lean, cut, and covered in tattoos, is exactly what Abby needs—and wants—to avoid. He spends his nights winning money in a floating fight ring, and his days as the charming college co-ed. Intrigued by Abby’s resistance to his charms, Travis tricks her into his daily life with a simple bet. If he loses, he must remain abstinent for a month. If Abby loses, she must live in Travis’ apartment for the same amount of time. Either way, Travis has no idea that he has met his match.

***This probably has some spoilers***

Okay, I am so conflicted on this book I actually don't think I can give it a rating. I can rant (sort of) about it and if it sounds like something you would like to read, then by all means go and read it (if you have a nook it's only like 5 bucks--score!)

So I've been in the mood for romance lately (I am planning on stealing Anna and the French Kiss from Amanda as soon as I am able) so I was GoodReads-ing to no end trying to find the one book that was going to be everything I was looking for (think like The Duff, but after my eighth time reading that I think it was time for something new)

I found Beautiful Disaster and everybody seemed to really really enjoy it and it sort of gave off a Perfect Chemistry vibe, (which OMG Chain Reaction comes out on Tuesday, who else is excited?!) so I was sitting there like sexy romance?! Bring it on!

First of all, I would like to say that it should really get a new description because the one that is currently on it is for like the first 50 pages of the book. So you're sitting there like okay.... now what's supposed to happen? So, yeah.

On one hand, the story was really well written, it was paced nicely. Had wonderful supporting characters and backstory...

On the other hand it was one of those books where the whole scenario of the whole book could have been avoided, yes, it's one of those books. Where you sit there the whole time and think of ways that every plot riff could be avoided. And Travis, the leading male, was way too aggressive for my taste, so that didn't really help either.

Well, those are my thoughts. I will not be including ratings because I have no idea how I would rate this.

I hope everyone is having a lovely weekend and sorry about the many random thoughts in parentheses. :)


Saturday, August 13, 2011

In My Mailbox (17)

In my mailbox is a weekly meme hosted by Kristi at The Story Siren where book bloggers share what they got in their mailbox for the past week.

No vlog this week unfortunately, but here are the books we got!

For Review/Giveaway:

Witch Song by Amber Argyle + bookmark

Thanks to Rhemalda Publishing!


Between the Lines by Tammara Webber
Beautiful Disaster by Jamie McGuire

Anna and the French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins .... already read, review coming soon!
Sisters Red by Jackson Pearce
City of Fallen Angels by Cassandra Clare ... read this a long time ago, just needed a hard copy.


Are You Going to Kiss Me Now? by Sloane Tanen

From Paperbackswap:

Impossible by Nancy Werlin
Forever... by Judy Blume
Eldest by Christopher Paolini .... I (Amanda) got this as a gift for the little brother

From RAK:

Strange Angels by Lili St.Crow

Thank you to Crystal from Elegantly Bound Books! (Thanks for throwing in a bookmark too!)
For more info on Random Acts of Kindness visit Book Soulmates.


Signed (and personalized!) copy of Filter by Gwenn Wright

Thank you to Dani at Refracted Light Reviews!

That's what we got this week, what'd you get?

xoxo and love always,

Shelbie and Amanda

Friday, August 12, 2011

Review: Paradise by Jill Alexander

Release Date: July 5, 2011
Publisher: Feiwel and Friends
Age Group: Young Adult
Pages: 256
Overall: 4/5 stars

Summary from Amazon: Paisley Tillery is the drummer for a country rock band. If they can make it to the stage at the Texapalooza music fest, then Paisley will be closer to her dream of a career in music and a ticket out of her small Texas town. Drumming and music are what Paisley has always wanted. Until the band gets a new lead singer, the boy from Paradise, Texas. With Paradise in her life, what Paisley wants, and what she needs, complicate her dreams coming true.
Jill Alexander completely blew me out of the water with Paradise. Was expecting your typical quick, fun summer read. Something I could read in a day, be satisfied with, and not dwell over for long. However, that is not something that happened. Yes, Paradise started out as a cute summer romance with the mysterious and insanely attractive newcomer and the girl with a secret dream, but then it changed into something more. Paradise centers around Paisley, a girl who secretly wants to be a musician. However, she has to play in a secret band with some of the people her Mom disapproves most of, because her mother has very specific plans for her future. That is where she meets Paradise, the insanely sexy accordion player and singer who has Paisley and the rest of the band questioning the way they do things.

I thought Paradise was only going to be important to Paisley, but instead he serves as sort of a driving force and a trigger to everyone else making changes for the better. Not only does he bring sexy vocals and a new twist to the band with his accordion, but he slowly pushes everyone else to be more confident and go for what they believe in. Over the course of the novel Jill Alexander uses Paradise to push Paisley and her sister to stand up to her parents, Waylon, the band leader, to grow more confident in his music, and several other big changes throughout the novel.

Alexander does a great job of using all of the characters different problems to weave a storyline about dreams, perseverance, and independence. She also adds several different little spins on the story to make it even better than it was already. She adds spunky characters like Paisley's uncle who provides an interesting adult POV, and incorporates lyrics from one of the band members, Cal, into the story giving you a view from the outside.

Overall, I really liked this book. It told a great story about going for your dreams and keeping your goals in mind. However, there is a reason I only gave it 4 stars. Jill Alexander completely throws you through a loop at the end of the novel. I still can't decide whether or not the plot twist at the end added to the story or just didn't make sense. I don't want to spoil anything, but at the end of the story Alexander pulls the story in a U turn, changes the plot entirely, and leaves you wondering why the heck she just did that.

So... the story was fantastic. Heartwarming, enlightening, and extremely romantic, but I will give you fair warning that you might not like the ending. However, if you're feeling brave and also sort of romantic, give Paradise by Jill Alexander a try.

Writing: 5/5 stars
Characters: 5/5 stars
Plot: 4/5 Stars
Ending: 3/5 stars
Cover: 4/5 stars