Thursday, July 31, 2008

Author Interview and Contest: Shannon Greenland's Native Tongue

The winner of last week's contest for The Winning Element is....

Liviania of In Bed with Books

Send me your mailing address (my e-mail is in the sidebar).

This week, Shannon is giving away a signed copy of book 4 in the Specialists series which comes out TODAY - Native Tongue. Not only that, she's also signing and giving away a set of all four books to our grand prize winner! So next Thursday August 7th, we'll have 2 winners - YAY! Contest details after the interview.

Ok now we’re on the 4th book in the series, Native Tongue and it comes out today. What are you doing to celebrate? Well, aside from a celebratory margarita at my fave place, I’ll be speaking to a roomful of writers this coming Saturday. And after that, I’ll be hitting the stores to sign stock—always a fun time.

Give us a quick summary of the book? A South American Indian girl has mysteriously emerged from the jungle carrying a centuries-old vase. Legend has it that this vase was important to the culture and heritage of at least fifteen different North and South American Indian tribes. And now that it has been discovered, all fifteen nations want it back. Enter Parrot—with his amazing linguistics skills—will serve as an official translator. Meanwhile, GiGi will be heading to a cave with ancient hieroglyphics that purportedly reveal the rightful owners of the vase. It’s up to GiGi and her coding expertise to try to decipher them. Of course there’s a hitch. One of the tribal chiefs is connected to Parrot’s past—in a bad way.

So, the Specialists team is down in South America in the jungle and they are served Monkey stew for their first breakfast – ew!! What’s the grossest/weirdest thing you were ever expected to eat? Did you eat it? I’m bummed to say nothing more exciting than pickled pigs feet. And, yep, I did eat it. Actually, I’ll eat about anything you put in front of me (except liver—talk about ew!)

Parrot has an amazing ability to pick up languages (I envy him!) and he speaks at least 16 fluently. Do you speak any foreign languages? I can get by in Spanish. Enough to ask where the bathroom is and, of course, for another margarita.

All the books are set in pretty exotic locales, fake, but certainly similar to real countries. Which places did you actually travel to for your research, if any? Oh, man, traveling is my vice. I’ll go in debt to see something cool. I’ve been a ton of places: Sweden, Switzerland, Finland, Germany, Austria, Venezuela, Columbia, Bermuda, Bahamas, Isle de Margarita, Canada, Mexico, and lots of others. I can’t say I traveled specifically to research for my books, but I can say I draw from experiences of that travel while I write my books. Next stop for me, though? Hawaii!

If you were asked to write a prequel novel that went deeper into one of the specialists back stories, which character would be the center of it and why? Oh, I would totally do TL (team leader Thomas Liba). There’s something about him that tugs at my heart strings. He’s got such a mysterious past. I would definitely love to explore it. Plus, he’s just plain sexy. LOL.

Do you have any other book related projects in the works that you can tell us about? What can we expect from you in the future? Oh, yes. I’m writing a teen romance right now tentatively titled EM. Its due out in 2010. It takes place on a fictitious island much like Bermuda. I’ve got a few other things brewing that I can’t talk about right now, but definitely keep watch on my website for announcements!

Thanks Shannon! I've had so much fun these past weeks and I wish you all the best in the future. And hopefully book 5 will get a publishing date soon, because I can't wait to read it!

So everyone, for a chance to win Native Tongue or the set of all 4 Specialist books, just comment on this post.

Extra entries for:

+2 Posting a link to the contest on your blog

+2 Commenting on my review of Native Tongue

and +1 for every comment you make on any post this week!

Only open to residents of the US and Canada!
PS - I posted this on the bloggy giveaways carnival. There are over 1,000 contests going on where you can win books, crafts, gift certificates, and much more. Check it out here.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Library Thing Tuesday (12)

Today's question: Cataloging sources. What cataloging sources do you use most? Any particular reason? Any idiosyncratic choices, or foreign sources, or sources you like better than others? Are you able to find most things through LT's almost 700 sources?

I have only needed to use amazon and so far. When adding books, I always just click on the first one that matches the title, not paying particular attention to the edition. I know some like to make sure that they catalogue the exact edition that sits on their shelf, but I am not that nit-picky.


I've been nominated by several fellow bloggers for a blogging award!

Thanks Tina from, Melsy at, Alea at, Marie at and Alisha at I adore all of your blogs too and visit often so consider yourselves awarded by me too.

Here are the rules:

1. Put the logo on your blog.

2. Add a link to the person who awarded you.

3. Nominate at least seven other blogs.

4. Add links to those blogs on your blog.

5. Leave a message for your nominee on their blog.

My 7 other nominees (besides the fab ladies who nommed me) are:

Melissa is the author of the YA Violet series (which is what I am reading next - I swear!) and a freelance writer for magazines and I LOVE reading her blog - she always has fab features including win it wednesdays.

Honest reviews and an awesome selection of books keep me coming back again and again. Plus, I won my first ever contest on Steph's site! You know you rock that foreign country you live in...

This is a fairly new blog but I'm addicted already. Love the rating system and the Dystopian fortnight.

This blog not only features reviews of YA books, but also promotes cool music and movies. And they had a great series of contests where authors donated books that they had "marked up". I was lucky enough to win "Back Talk" by Alex Richards and she writes awesome little tidbits in red pen throughout the book. I cherish this copy!

One of my fave places to go for children's book recommendations. Her reviews are always so insightful and I've added so many books to my wishlist thanks to her.

Gayle is a fellow Entertainment Weekly fan and reads a nice variety of books. She always makes me take a closer look at books that might not have interested me at first glance.

And finally ALL of my fellow LibraryThing bloggers (Kathleen has an awesome list of all of you right here)- I so enjoy reading your responses every Tuesday and I am a serious addict of the LT ARC Junkie thread. An intervention will need to be staged soon I'm afraid....


Contests this week:

Win The Temptress Four by Gaby Triana at Reviewer X's blog. Be sure to read her review and interview with Gaby as well! Ends August 1st.

StudentofSaga is giving away a copy of Kamilla Reid's The Questory of Root Karbunkulus. To enter, just submit a question for the author at this post. Winner notified by e-mail on August 4th.
Bookish Ruth is giving away an ARC of Kaimira: The Sky Village if you comment on this post. Enter by August 6th.

Monday, July 28, 2008

Book Review: The Septembers of Shiraz by Dalia Sofer

In the past year and a half I’ve read three books that have to do with the aftermath of the 1979 Iranian revolution: Mark Bowden’s Guests of the Ayatollah: The Iran Hostage Crisis: The First Battle in America's War with Militant Islam by about the Tehran Embassy takeover, Azar Nafisi’s Reading Lolita in Tehran: A Memoir in Books and now The Septembers of Shiraz, the lone fictional account.

Despite being a novel, Septembers was probably the least passionate and most matter of fact of all three. Based loosely on her own family’s experience during this tumultuous time and their eventual flight from the country, the book is Sofer’s attempt to come to terms with her father’s stay in prison and her exile from the country she remembers from girlhood. Although many horrors occur – the father is tortured brutally by his zealot captors, opportunists loot the family’s business, a relative is burned with acid thrown by a mob – the writing does not sensationalize and the characters remain abnormally detached. My favorite parts were those chapters that followed daughter Shirin, whose secret defiance of the new regime lends the most suspense and passion to the narrative.

I also very much liked the lyrical writing. A sample passage: "The human body is like that. It needs a constant flow of nourishment, air, and love, to survive. Unlike currency, these things cannot be accumulated. At any given moment, either you have them, or you don't."

I found this easy to get into, easy to read but hard to put down. Glad I had the opportunity to read it as part of Everyday I Write the Book Blog's Online Book Club: "The Septembers of Shiraz" by Dalia Sofer. Thanks Gayle!

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Book Review: Audrey, Wait! by Robin Benway

Audrey breaks up with her self-absorbed musician boyfriend who promptly writes a song about their break up called “Audrey Wait”. It makes stars out of his band and as his “muse”, Audrey has to kiss her anonymity goodbye as she is relentlessly pursued by “fans”, paparazzi, and even other bands who think she can help them write a great song. The novel is Audrey telling her side of the story and trying to set straight all the misconceptions about her which have been printed in the gossip press.

Audrey is hilariously sarcastic – which is what gets her in trouble since sarcasm doesn’t come off well in print. Fortunately, she has an awesome best friend ( who tries to get her to take advantage of swag, but Audrey won’t “sell out”) a sweet new boyfriend, and supportive parents to help her get through the crazy times.

My favorite part of the book? The chapter headings – all lyrics from rock songs – that helped set the scene for each of the 41 chapters. I was delighted to see such favorites as The Smith’s “There is a light that never goes out”, Radiohead’s “Fake Plastic Trees”, Regina Spektor’s “Fidelity”, The Decemberists’ “Of Angels and Angles” and Stars’ “Your Ex-Lover is Dead”. I am planning to look up the songs I’m unfamiliar with and if they rock as much as the songs I am familiar with, then I’m eternally thankful to Author Robin Benway for putting together such an awesome playlist.

A must for fans of great music and great YA.

Friday, July 25, 2008

Book Review: Specialists: The Winning Element by Shannon Greenland

It’s GiGi’s third mission and this time, it’s personal. She has a chance to bring down the notorious criminal who was responsible for her parent’s deaths. Lust for revenge makes her give team leader TL an ultimatum which results in her having to design the mission herself. And when she goes over intel and looks for a suitable cover, she realizes that she’s going to have to bring sullen goth girl chemical specialist Beaker with her – and that they’ll have to pose as cheerleaders.

This slim addition to the Specialist series has a ton packed in its 230 pages. We get to know Beaker’s back story as well as more about GiGi’s. We get to see Beaker and GiGi in intense and hilarious cheer training sessions to get ready for the mission (the required back handspring maneuver pretty much killed any cheerleading aspirations I had – oh who am I kidding? I can’t even do a cartwheel!) And we get the mission itself which is full of fun spy gadgets (my favorite being a tracker that can be blown from a pencil up to 20 feet away and feels like a mosquito bite when it penetrates the skin and enters the bloodstream), close calls, and surprises. GiGi makes some mistakes, but she has a great team to back her up – and hey, we all make mistakes, right? The point is to learn from them and move on.

Another great action filled spy novel! Don't forget to comment on this review for an extra entry to my contest to win a signed copy of the book.

Book Trailer: Undone by Brooke Taylor

Here's one I can't wait to read:

Enter to win it at Reviewer X's site (open only until Sunday so don't delay)!

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Author Interview and Contest: Shannon Greenland: The Winning Element

First up, last week's winner of Down to the Wire is....


Congrats and send me your mailing address so I can pass it on to Shannon (my e-mail address is in the sidebar).

Now let's talk with Shannon about book 3 in the Specialists Series: The Winning Element.

What's book 3 all about? GiGi learns about a notorious chemical smuggler currently at large. Not only is he a present danger, but he was responsible for the deaths of GiGi's parents. The government has been trying to track him down for years, and with GiGi's fierce determination (and TL's help), the Specialists are hired to capture him. And this time, GiGi's in charge of the mission. Only, she can't do this alone. She needs Beaker's chemistry expertise. But when their cover has to be cheerleaders at a national cheerleading competition, Goth-girl Beaker is not too pleased.

All of your characters are really different. Do you ever incorporate parts of your personality into your characters? Or any traits/quirks of friends/people you know? I get asked this question a lot. I have a notebook that I carry around with me. Every time I see someone do or say something unique, I jot it down. And when I’m building a character, I refer back to that notebook. For example, I once saw a Goth girl sitting in the mall. She was clearly upset about something as she scowled and chomped a piece of gum. I looked at her and thought “Beaker!”

Most of the Specialists lost their parents at an early age, but Beaker's mother is still alive. How does this affect her psychologically? Actually, someone else’s parent is alive, too. But you’ll learn that in Native Tongue. It does affect Beaker, though, in that she’s the only one with crappy memories of her parent. The rest came from loving homes, but various circumstances took their parents at different times.

GiGi and Beaker have to pose as cheerleaders on this latest mission. Did you ever do any cheerleading yourself? I never did cheerleading, but I attended a cheer camp a few summers ago as I was researching to write this book. I’ll tell you something—those girls work hard!

Thanks Shannon!

Now for this week’s giveaway! You have a chance of winning a signed copy of The Winning Element just by commenting on this post.

Extra entries? Sure!

+1 entry for blogging about this contest
+1 entry for commenting on my review tomorrow
+ 1 entry for leaving Shannon a comment over at her blog (may I suggest her summer top 5 post?)

If you do all 4, I will double your entries for a total of 8. And they also count towards the grand prize drawing for all 4 signed books – what a deal!

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Guest Review: Eleanor reviews PJ Hoover's The Emerald Tablet

PJ Hoover sent me her forthcoming middle grade book “The Emerald Tablet” for review and since I was spending the week with a child in the target group, I gave it to her to read first. Her name is Eleanor, she is 10 years old and she is a huge fan of the fantasy genre, so this was perfect for her. After reading the first chapter, she turned to me and said, “This is FREAKING awesome!” Now if that isn’t a ringing endorsement, I don’t know what is! I will review this myself (next week hopefully), but first, here is her review.

The book is about a boy named Benjamin. He sees his mom disappear in thin air, but it’s not a big shock to him since his life is pretty abnormal to begin with. He, his whole family and his friend Andy are all able to lift objects using their minds and have conversations without speaking out loud. Benjamin touches a mirror which tells him that he must attend 8 weeks of summer school which he teleports to. At the school he meets Andy and 4 other new friends. One day they find an emerald tablet that tells them that the walls protecting them from Atlantis are weakening and it is up to them to find a solution. This is where the book really gets exciting.

My favorite part of the book is when Helios comes and fights with Mr. Burton. It is very suspenseful. I also liked how the characters all got along and worked together toward a common goal. And I ended up being very surprised by which characters were revealed as villains at the end. I would highly recommend this to anyone who likes a great fantasy read.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Library Thing Tuesday (11)

Today's topic: Recommendations. Do you use LT's recommendations feature? Have you found any good books by using it? Do you use the anti-recommendations, or the "special sauce" recommendations? How do you find out about books you want to read?

I have glanced at the recommendations, but I haven't invested any time in the feature yet. I really should one of these days. The anti-recommendations said I should steer clear of a bunch of christian books - even after I added quite a few to my library. I used to find most of my books through friends or my browsing people's lists on amazon. I also found YA or children's books through the publisher's catalogs that I'd pick up at book fairs. Since about April, I've found most of my books through people's book review blogs. And I have bought a couple of books that were in the Early Review program that I didn't get chosen for. My wishlist keeps growing and growing...

**** Contests ****

The Book Vault is giving away a copy of Francey by Martin Dubow. Enter by July 31st.

Dar is giving away a copy of The Host! Enter by July 24th.

Another chance to win the 14 books from Hachette at bookroomreviews! Enter by August 9th. I AM going to win these one of these days!!

Monday, July 21, 2008

Book Review: Oh. My. Gods. by Tera Lynn Childs

As a talented long distance runner, Phoebe practically worships her Nikes. When her mother marries a Greek after 8 days of courtship and decides to move with her from Southern CA to a secret Greek isle, Phoebe finds out that Nike and all the other Gods are real – and their numerous descendents are her new neighbors and classmates. All Phoebe cares about is making the grade and winning races so she can get a scholarship to USC. But how is she going to do that as a nothos when everyone around her has supernatural powers and most of the school seems to hate her?

I am a big fan of Greek mythology so the concept intrigued me and the “advance praise” on the back cover from the Gods (“This novel will wind up on many keeper shelves – or there will be thunderbolts to pay” – Zeus) made me laugh out loud. I had a hard time with the first chapter though. Everything just happened so fast. One minute she’s winning a race at a USC cross country summer camp and the next her mother tells her they’re moving overseas. Just like that they’ve packed two suitcases and are on a plane. WHAT?! Who does that?! To me that was even more unbelievable than finding out the Greek gods really exist.

But once they’re settled on the island, the novel finds its flow and it’s a super fun read. I thought it was clever that even at god school you have your cliques – the cheerleaders are descendants of Aphrodite, the jocks of Ares, the nerds of Hephaestus and so on. Phoebe has to deal with the machinations of her evil stepsister Stella and her Hera buddy Adara while nursing her crush on bad boy runner Griffin. Fortunately, she is befriended by Nicole and Troy – two characters I would have liked to have read more about.

One of the major themes of the book was that sometimes change happens quickly – and you can embrace it and adapt to it, or you can stay bitter and stuck in the past. In that context, I can sort of see the first chapter in a new light, and have to admit that as a device it fits what the author is trying to convey.

Better get it, lest Zeus smite you!

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Joy of Spooking Winners! has spoken! Congrats to:




Please contact me (e-mail address in the sidebar) with your mailing address in the next 48 hrs or I will have to award your prize to someone else!!

PJ Bracegirdle would love it if you'd post your review on his Facebook page (or anywhere else) after you've read it!

Reviewer Profile: Me!

Head on over to Reviewer X's blog to read a reviewer profile/interview she did with me. It's such an honor to be featured on her fantastic book reviewing blog. Leave her lots of comments!

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Book Review: Life As We Knew It by Susan Beth Pfeffer

Apocalyptic stories like this one always get me thinking about which modern convenience I would miss the most. While Internet access would certainly be up there, I shudder to think about having to live without long, hot showers. How about you? What would you miss the most?

After an asteroid hits the moon, knocking it out of its orbit and causing catastrophic tsunamis and volcano eruptions, Miranda most misses just living a normal teenage life - one in which she’d have swim practice after school, could have a real romance with classmate Dan, and could go to McDonald’s whenever she wanted. As conditions get worse, Miranda sees her world shrink ever smaller until eventually she’s huddled around a wood stove with her mother and two brothers, completely snowed in and slowly running out of supplies.

Survival stories are inherently interesting, but as a seasoned reader of these types of books, I found this to be particularly benign. The only semi-shocking revelation was that a pastor was letting his congregation starve to death by telling them that God wanted them to give their food supplies to him. It would be a excellent book to ease into the genre – a sort of apocalyptic 101 if you will – especially since it ends on a note of hope. Rabid fans might want to look elsewhere.

I’d be interested to see how the sequel “The Dead and the Gone” deals with the same subject from the point of view of someone in one of the more drastically affected regions. From the title, it looks like there might in fact be a bit more at stake.

Friday, July 18, 2008

Book Review: Millicent Min: Girl Genius by Lisa Yee

Ok, this middle grade book came out in 2004, but I am just getting around to it now. Just wanted to mention that I love the concept, love the humor and love Millicent as a character. She's an 11 year old genius about to start her senior year of high school, but she's pretty clueless when it comes to social situations and doesn't have any friends besides her grandmother. When her mother makes her join a summer volleyball league, she meets Emily and finally gets her first friend by neglecting to mention any of the genius stuff. How long will she be able to keep up the charade?

Here's one of my favorite quotes:

"Oh, sure Emily has a few flaws. But don't we all. For example, I am lax about cleaning out my three-hole punch."

I'll have to remember that at my next interview instead of using the standard "I am a perfectionist" line when they ask you where your weaknesses lie.

Anyway, great book!

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Book Review: The Specialists: Down to the Wire and Author Interview Shannon Greenland

In today’s consolidated post, you can find out the winner of Book 1 in the Specialists series, enjoy an interview with author Shannon Greenland that focuses on Book 2: Down to the Wire, and read my mini-review of it.

And the winner of Model Spy is …
Writer’s Block Reviews! Congrats! Send me your address so I can pass it on to Shannon. Didn’t win this week? No worries, you are still entered to win the grand prize of all 4 books. Enter today’s contest for a signed copy of Down to the Wire to improve your chances of winning!

Interview with Shannon

Can you give us a quick summary of book 2, Down to the Wire?

Wirenut has an uncanny knack for breaking into the most elaborate security systems. When a wealthy entrepreneur hires the Specialists to recover a stolen neurotoxin, Wirenut is perfect for the job. But there's a catch. The computer-coded hints that will lead to the neurotoxin are hidden in a few precious museum artifacts. Enter GiGi and her computer-code genius ability. But when GiGi and Wirenut begin their mission, they find themselves up against life threatening obstacles....

The security systems Wirenut breaks into sound really complex. How did you go about writing those scenes? What kind of research did you do?

I did research on security and electronics. I mixed and matched and threw in my own imagination to make up the unique systems in the book.

Why did you choose to use fake foreign countries and languages instead of real ones?

For complete creative fun and freedom.

Is all of GiGi's coding made up too?

Same as my answer above. I researched, mixed and matched, and threw in my own imagination.

This time, Wirenut and GiGi pose as tourists. Do you have any exciting upcoming trips planned?

Let’s see... I’m going camping on the Gulf of Mexico in August. But my highlight for the year will be my Christmas trip to Hawaii!

Review of Down to the Wire

(see summary above – interview question 1) GiGi (also known as Kelly, our model spy) and Wirenut make a great team for this latest exciting mission to a gorgeous Mediterranean country. This time around, they face even more danger and the villain is even more cunning – which makes for an exciting, twisty read. Wirenut’s background is tragic but fascinating and has a surprising link to how the mission plays out. And although the main action of the story is resolved by book’s end, we are left with a whopper of a cliffhanger regarding the connection between GiGi and her romantic interest David.

A great addition to the series that could also conceivably be read as a standalone spy novel.

Now get commenting for a chance to win this week's signed book and be entered (or get an extra entry if you commented last week) for the grand prize drawing of all 4 books!

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Library Thing Tuesday (10)

This was the question for our 10th Tuesday:

Book-swapping. Do you do it? What site(s) do you use? How did you find out about them? What do you think of them? Do you use LT's book-swapping column feature for information on what to swap? Do you participate in any of the LT communities that discuss bookswapping, like the Bookmooch group for example?

My answer:

I don't swap books in any official capacity. If I love a book or it's on a topic I think I might want to revisit later, I keep it on my shelf and loan it own often. If I liked a book, but not enough to keep it, I will offer it to my friends. If I don't know of anyone who would like it, then I donate it or sell it. I suppose I could swap some of these, but since I somehow have to get the books back to Germany eventually, it seems like more hassle than it's worth. I think if I lived full-time in the states it might be of more interest to me.


I haven't had an Emmy picture in a while, so here's one D caught of her yawning. What a little monster.


Want to hear about a couple more contests going on?

The Story Siren is having a Twilight Series contest. There are a bunch of different prizes including all 4 books in the series. Enter by August 2. She also mentions that you can read Savvy by Ingrid Law as an e-book this week by clicking here. This is Penguin children's lead title this season, so check it out.

IB Teens is offering a signed copy of The Summoning by Kelley Armstrong if you comment here by July 31st. Looks like the start of an exciting teen series!

Two more chances to win those 14 books from Hachette - over at Bookshipper's blog (leave a comment by July 31st) or at Musing of a literary feline's blog.

Enter Boston Bibliophile's contest by July 22nd to win an ARC of Garden Spells by Sarah Addison Allen.

Rachel is letting you pick any two books to win in her contest. Enter by July 30th.

Tripping towards Lucidity is giving away Blood Roses by Francesca Lia Block. She'll draw a winner on July 25th.

Bookish Ruth is giving away a copy of First Daughter by Eric Van Lustbader. She'll pick a winner on July 30th.

And don't forget to enter my contests for Joy of Spooking and the Specialist Series!

Monday, July 14, 2008

Book Review: No One You Know by Michelle Richmond

Over at the Barnes & Noble First Look Book Club discussion of Stewart O’Nan’s Songs for the Missing, quite a few people, including me, said they would have liked to have seen the book written from the first person perspective of the younger daughter Lindsay. I had that in mind when I read No One You Know because both books deal with a family coming to terms with the loss of an elder daughter. In the case of No One You Know, the elder daughter is Lila, a math genius, and the story is told by her sister Ellie 20 years after the tragic event.

“A story has no beginning or end. Arbitrarily one chooses that moment of experience from which to look back or from which to look ahead,” Author Richmond writes. Ellie’s life has been shaped by her sister’s unsolved murder, and the “true crime” account of it written by a professor, Andrew Thorpe, she once intimately trusted. That book revealed Lila’s math professor and secret married lover as the perp. But Ellie begins to question everything she thought was true when a chance meeting in an unlikely place yields Lila’s notebook that she used to jot down mathematical equations, leading her on a search to discover what really happened that fateful night.

I read an ARC of this novel which describes the book like this: “A riveting family drama about the stories we tell – a novel of astonishing depth and beauty, at once heartbreaking, provocative, and impossible to put down.” Jacket copy often exaggerates, but in this case I wholeheartedly agree with it. I will go out and buy a copy of this for my “keeper” bookshelf and I fully expect that this will appear on my year-end best list. Let me tell you why.

The narrative is very much about how little twists of fate can alter our life stories. For example, if Ellie had let Lila take the car that Wednesday, she might still be alive, Ellie’s parents might still be together, Ellie might be married and have kids by now. Stories and the endless variations of storytelling are themes in counterpoint with the very strict and exact nature of mathematics. I loved how all the pieces of the story fit together in the end like a perfect mathematical proof.

Thorpe once said in one of the classes Ellie attended that “in order for a book to be really good, it’s not enough to develop the major characters. The minor ones, too, have to be distinct. When readers close the book, they should remember everyone who walks across the page.” I do.

There is a smattering of mathematical talk that went way over my head, but I still found it fascinating. Ellie also has a very interesting job. Due to her great sense of smell, she works as a coffee cupper, looking for great coffee beans all over the world. Having learned a lot about fruit (thanks to a job I did for Passina) and pistachios (thanks to a lobbyist I met at a party on Capitol Hill last week), I really enjoyed learning more about coffee.

Extremely highly recommended!
"A story does not only belong to the person who was telling it. It belongs, in equal measure, to the one who was listening."

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Book Review: Unwind by Neal Shusterman

I think I have made it pretty clear that I enjoy reading a good dystopia novel, so when I read Reader Rabbit’s review of Unwind, I got very excited. It is similar in theme to one of my all time favorite books - Kazuo Ishiguro’s Never Let Me Go - though the characters in Unwind refuse to simply accept their fate.

For different reasons, Connor, Risa, and Lev are all set to be “unwound” – meaning their organs will be harvested and passed on, allowing them to continue to “live” in a “divided state” and contribute something more valuable to society than they ever would be able to in their "undivided state". The idea of unwinding is something that grew out of the Heartland War – brutally fought between Pro-lifers and Pro-choicers (it seems then that it only exists in the US, though its geographical extension is not explicitly addressed). The two sides compromise in The Bill of Life which declares that a person’s life cannot be legally terminated from conception to age thirteen. If you don’t prove your worth by age 13 (or if you mess up before you hit 18), your parent or guardian can sign an unwind order.

Conner’s parents want him unwound because he’s a troublemaking teen with a temper – the type that might get sent to military camp in our society and come out of it a respected leader.

Risa is an orphan living in a state home, and though she’s a gifted pianist, she becomes the victim of a tight budget and a system all too eager to capitalize on organ donation.

Lev is a tithe, the 10th child of a religious family, and he’s been raised knowing he’s been singled out for the honor of “serving God”.

When the three collide, they set off on an adventure that takes them to a neighborhood where a baby has just been “storked” (unfit mothers denied abortions now just dump their unwanted babies on strangers’ doorsteps), through an “underground railroad” made up of Bill of Life dissenters, to the “Graveyard” (a place run by an enigmatic former general for unwinds to lay low until their 18th birthday rolls around) and ultimately to a “harvest camp”.

This is a novel where the frenetic pace only lets up long enough to offer up a thought provoking tidbit. I liked how well-rounded the characters were – there were no stock villains (except perhaps for the juvey cops – though you could argue they just had a job to do) – and even “bad” characters like the volatile and power-hungry fellow Unwind Roland, are painted with some sympathetic shades. “Good” characters do “bad” things. No one gets off lightly.

Often shocking and for the most part compelling, this one will keep you guessing and get you thinking.

Friday, July 11, 2008

Book Review: The Specialists: Model Spy by Shannon Greenland

Because Model Spy is the first book in the Specialists series, the first half is mainly concerned with setting up the story, introducing us to the characters, and giving us a bare-bones background of the Specialists concept and history. We get to know Kelly/GiGi first. She’s a computer genius orphan studying at university though she’s only 16. She’s been through the foster care system and isn’t close to anyone, except fellow student David who asks her to hack into a government system to help his father. Of course she gets caught and finds out David was trying to recruit her to the Specialists team. Though she feels betrayed by him, being a Specialist is better than going to jail so she joins the team where she meets fellow newbies Molly/Bruiser (martial arts), Sissy/Beaker (chemistry), Frankie/Wirenut (electronics), Darren/Parrot (linguistics) and Joe/Mystic (clairvoyance) as well as the more experienced team one which includes David.

The second half is pure spy thrills and heart-pumping adventure as Kelly/GiGi is sent on an undercover mission to Ushbania as model Jade January to infiltrate the bad guys modeling school and use her computer skills to save David’s father. David goes as her photographer which gives her ample time to hang out with him. Will klutzy and shy GiGi pull off the model assignment?

I love the concept for this series and mixing modeling and spying sounded so cool to me. Be aware though that the modeling really takes a back seat to the spying – I personally would have liked to see a bit more runway action and interaction between Kelly and the other models at the school.

I liked Kelly’s character arc – from geeky loner to kick-butt spy - but I did find it a bit odd that she has a habit of talking like Yoda when she’s nervous. No matter – this is a breezy, fun read for anyone who likes adventure and spy stories. I look forward to getting to know the characters better during the course of the series.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Author Interview: Shannon Greenland AND The Specialists Series Giveaway!

Every thursday for the next 4 weeks, Shannon Greenland, author of the Specialists series, is going to join us. Today were going to talk about the series with a focus on the first book.

Can you give us a quick pitch for the first Specialists book, Model Spy?

Computer genius, GiGi, hacks into the government’s mainframe. In exchange for jail, she enlists in a spy agency that trains teens to go undercover. After all, what does she have to lose? She has no family or friends. But in just a few short weeks she finds herself thrown into her first mission, undercover as a model. Not so easy for a nerdy klutz like GiGi.

So far 3 books in the 5 book Specialists series are out with a 4th being released at the end of the month. Where are you in the process with book 5? Can you give us any sneak peeks? Unfortunately, I don’t have a pub date for the fifth one, but it features both Mystic, the clairvoyant, and Bruiser, the fighter.

What were the seeds of the series and how did you go about getting it published? I’m a big fan of Alias. So naturally when I dreamed of writing a teen series, I knew it would be about spies. And getting published? Phew. I think any author would agree it’s a tenacious process. Lots of query letters, conferences, meetings with agents and editors. And then finally, one day, someone likes your stuff enough to take it to the next level.

Your main character, Kelly AKA GiGi (Genius Girl), is a coding whiz who hacked into government systems. I know you’re asked this all the time, but what would your specialty be if you were selected for the team? LOL, I love this question. My specialty would be adventurer. Anyone who knows me would tell you I’d try about anything once.

Gigi is very partial to lollipops. What are your favorite candies? I’m a gum freak. I’m really into Dentyne Splash right now.

You are quite the adventure traveler. What was the scariest thing you’ve ever done on your adventures? Hands down, exploring an uncharted cave was the scariest thing I’ve ever done. Just imagine going somewhere no other person has ever been. What an adrenaline rush!

Thanks Shannon for the fun interview! I loved reading Model Spy and my review will go up shortly. I can't wait to start on book 2 - Down to the Wire.

Now for the giveaway! Comment on this post to be entered to win a signed copy of Model Spy. I will announce the winner next thursday. As always, you can get extra entries by blogging about the contest and commenting on my review of the book.

And check this out: By entering this week's Specialists contest, you are also entered to win the grand prize - signed copies of all 4 published books in the series including book 4, Native Tongue which comes out on July 31st! Come back each week and comment to increase your chances of winning this exciting series.
This contest is open to residents of the US and Canada only.

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Book Review: Joy of Spooking: Fiendish Deeds by P.J. Bracegirdle

Just as I suspected it would, The Joy of Spooking: Fiendish Deeds has earned a place on my list of all time favorites. I love the concept, I love the characters and the storyline is engaging and relevant. But most of all I love P.J.’s writing – it’s my exact kind of slightly dark humor and is full of gems like Joy’s brother Byron’s thoughts when the two meet a filthy but surprisingly friendly old “witch” woman at the bog:

“Byron continued to stare at her suspiciously. He’d read the fairy tales, and such chumminess usually meant a kid-size oven was preheating somewhere nearby.”

But I’m getting ahead of myself. Joy, Byron and their parents live in Spooking – “the terrible town on the hideous hill.” They don’t exactly fit in with the cookie-cutter residents of Darlington, the sprawling neighbor city where they have to attend school. Joy’s hobby is researching the legend of the bog fiend and the horror writer E.A. Peugeot and she’d really rather have nothing to do with Darlington at all. She does venture there to accompany Byron to a couple of parties (the precocious 8 year old has a crush on a darling of Darlington), and she is forced to confront some of its citizens in her quest to prevent a water park from being built over her beloved bog.

This is a story about preserving diversity – both in nature and in society. But it is far from being preachy – it is fun and exciting with a liberal portion of spookiness. The villain, major assistant Mr. Phipps, is exactly the kind of well-rounded, conflicted fiendish deed doer that makes a juicy character – we get the sense that he was once quite like Joy before something went terribly wrong. I eagerly await the next two books in the planned trilogy to find out more about Mr. Phipps’ background and follow Joy and Byron’s further adventures. Highly recommended to all readers 8 and up.

This book will be out on August 5th – but if you just can’t wait, be sure to enter my contest to win one of three advanced reader copies (actual hardcovers)! And don't forget to comment on this post for an extra entry.

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Library Thing Tuesday (9)

This week's question:

Since we're past the Fourth of July and the summer season has officially started, what are your plans for the summer? Vacations, trips? Trips that involve reading? Reading plans? If you're going somewhere, do you do any reading to prepare? Do you read local literature as part of your trip? Have you thought about using the LT Local feature to help plan your book-buying?

My answer:

I don't have many exotic plans for the summer actually. We'll be attending a wedding in Berlin over Labor Day. Then, in September, my father and stepmother are coming over to Europe and we'll be driving to France together. He has bought the DK Eyewitness Travel books to France and Paris, as well as a Streetwise Paris map. So we've been looking through those in our planning. I do like reading local literature, or books set in the country or place I'm visiting, in preparation for my trips. Here are a few of my favorites:

Before I went to Burma, I read The Glass Palace: A Novel by Amitav Ghosh. It is a historical novel set partly in Burma and it gave a good feel for the history, culture and environment of the area. Plus it is a really great story. I also picked up Twilight Over Burma: My Life as a Shan Princess by Inge Sargent.

In preparation for my trip to the Republic of Georgia (a gorgeous country by the way), I read Journalist Wendell Stevenson's Stories I Stole, a collection of her impressions of the country. I so liked her description of the bizzare Stalin museum in his hometown of Gori, that I had to stop by for a visit myself.

A couple of weeks before I travelled to Iceland, I chanced upon Zane Radcliffe's thriller The Killer's Guide to Iceland. The atmosphere is very authentic. The twisty plot and interesting characters elevate what could have been a more run-of-the-mill cross between a travelogue and mystery novel.

Sunday, July 6, 2008

Book Review: Down River by John Hart

As much as I enjoy reading, I always find it hard to concentrate on airplanes. A book has to be pretty exciting to hold my interest when I fly, so I usually bring a couple of thrillers with me. This last trip, I was lucky enough to have one of those seat back video systems with on demand movies, so I watched 4 movies instead of reading on my international flight. On my domestic flight and layover, I read Down River by John Hart all in one big gulp.

The main character, Adam Chase, is coming back to his hometown after 5 years away. But not many are happy to see him – even though he was acquitted at his trial (where his own stepmother was the key witness for the prosecution), most of the town believes him to be a murderer. Only the cop girlfriend (Robin) he left behind, his father’s best friend Dolf and his young ward Grace seem to support him. And when people start turning up dead, Adam again becomes the prime suspect and must try to clear his name while at the same time trying to reconcile with his family and Robin.

This thriller had an exciting, twisty plot, juicy family secrets and an unexpected killer. It was fast paced and riveting enough to get me through my whole domestic journey. Recommended!

Thursday, July 3, 2008

Author Interview: P.J. Bracegirdle AND Joy of Spooking Giveaway!

Let’s give a warm welcome to the incredibly talented PJ Bracegirdle, author of the new YA trilogy Joy of Spooking. The first book comes out August 5th, but we wanted to give you a sneak peek and a chance to win one of 3 advance reader copies before the book even comes out!

Ok, first question PJ: If you were to blurb Joy of Spooking: Fiendish Deeds yourself, what would you say?
“Please buy this book—its author is no longer fit for proper work.” Which I guess is one of the many reasons they usually get someone else to blurb it.

I see the logic in that, yes! So, Joy of Spooking is planned as a trilogy. Why stop there? Why not 13 books?
Much like blurbs, the publisher traditionally makes this call. In fact, I’d originally proposed only two installments before they told me unequivocally that I could not kill off every single character at the end of the second book. “How about in Book Three?” I’d said as a compromise—and voila, a trilogy was born!

Okay, that’s a lie. Actually, I think there’s something really special about trilogies—you get to tell a much broader story and explore more characters without being forced into writing something that feels overly controlled and episodic.

I am a firm believer in the rule of three so I can relate. Can you tell us a bit about the origin of the idea for the book and your road to publication?
I have to admit it felt less like a road and more like a champagne-fueled balloon ride in all honesty. Of course, this kind of statement can only instill anger in my fellow authors, so I’m quick to point out my life’s vast litany of disappointments and failures as a counterbalance.
As far as the origin of the idea, it was a similarly happy instance with the title and premise striking me completely out of the blue. Living up to it proved far less easy however, and luckily I had some help from a kindly children’s book editor to whip the first few chapters into shape. After that, it was just a case of landing a fearsome agent and finding the publisher who shared the story’s macabre sense of humor.

Cool! Nicoletta Ceccoli did the gorgeous cover. What was your reaction when you heard she’d be involved?
The specific exclamation is probably best not repeated here, suffice to say that it simultaneously expressed my sense of delight and disbelief in addition to demonstrating my woeful lack of breeding to anyone within earshot. Nicoletta is quite simply one of the most exciting and talented illustrators out there, and I am still awestruck by how perfectly she captured the story’s characters and atmosphere. I get the chills just imagining what she’ll do for the next book, much of which takes place in an insane asylum.

Your main character, Joy, does look rather spooky. She is also a literary horror fan – does she take after you? What books in the genre can you recommend to teens and younger readers?

While it’s hard to live up to a rabid fan like Joy Wells, I do still love a good creepy story, particularly classic ones from Edgar Allen Poe and H.P. Lovecraft. Younger readers may find their style and language a bit challenging at first, however once accustomed there are many great stories to explore. Otherwise, I remember particularly loving SOMETHING WICKED THIS WAY COMES by Ray Bradbury, and becoming forever terrified of those toy cymbal-playing monkeys thanks to a Stephen King short story whose name escapes me.

Great suggestions! The gothic tone of the book might also remind some of the Lemony Snicket books. What do you think Lemony Snicket would say after reading Fiendish Deeds?
Hmm, good question. I hope he would say: “Fiendish Deeds is the most painful book ever to have fallen on my lap, including heavier volumes dropped from a much greater height.” Because the guy can’t pan anything without making it sound like a ringing endorsement.

Regarding any similarities between the two stories, I should point out that while A Series of Unfortunate Events is famously miserable, The Joy of Spooking is substantially more upbeat in its exploration of its dark terrain, as the title might suggest. The two heroes, Joy and her brother Byron, are not desperate orphans but live happy enough lives, although somewhat in the shadow of their overworked parents like so many children these days. With an almost maniacal intensity, Joy revels in the eerie atmosphere of her crumbling hometown Spooking, celebrating the sinister histories she is convinced played out within its limits.

Unfortunately Joy’s happy existence is complicated by the City of Darlington, the soulless suburban sprawl that surrounds Spooking hill where the Wells siblings are forced to go to school. Because in this story, the villain is just as equally an actual place—and even a way of seeing—as it is a living breathing person (which in this case is an embittered ex-punk-rock musician who works for the mayor). And so it happens that Joy and Byron are unable to continually flee in the face of encroaching evil, as in Lemony Snicket’s series, but rather must take a stand against it in order to stop their way of life from being obliterated forever.

Speaking of soulless suburban sprawl (just kidding), you live in Canada so I am going to assume you are Canadian. I had a Canadian boyfriend once who made me learn all the Canadian provinces and capital cities. Can you name all 50 US States and their capitals?

I can only presume that Canadian boyfriend went on to become your Canadian husband since few other nations produce men with quite the same intoxicating combination of qualities—with good manners, faultless hygiene, and a working knowledge of what to do when startled by Grizzly bears being chief among them.

And as such a fellow, I could certainly name every state and a good number of capitals. However this is not a particularly male quality—Canadians of both sexes are equally well-versed in geography. This comes from having spent so many winters gathering around our atlases to marvel at all of the less frigid places we could have been born.

Sorry to disappoint you, but the Canadian didn’t work out – not that I didn’t enjoy the geography lessons and the stories of hapless tourists being stampeded by Moose (or is that Meese?) Thank you so much for stopping by!

Find out more at and
And now, on to the CONTEST – YAY! A special thanks to Kate and Sarah at Simon & Schuster who have provided me with 3 extra ARCs to give away to my readers. PJ is throwing in signed book plates as well. Want to enter to win? Here’s what you gotta do:

1. Leave a comment at this post (required)
Each of the following gives you one extra entry:

2. Read the first chapter of Joy of Spooking Fiendish Deeds here (PDF). Then send the answer to the question “What book does Joy inherit?” to lenoreva AT hotmail DOT com with the subject line JOY CONTEST for a second entry. (Make sure you let me know what name you commented with in your e-mail so I can give you credit)
3. Become a fan of PJ Bracegirdle on Facebook. And tell me that you did.
4. Blog about the contest on your blog and leave a link in your comment so I can find it. If you don't have a blog, you can write an e-mail to 5 friends with a link to this post and CC me.
5. Comment on the review of Joy of Spooking: Fiendish Deeds that I will post next week.
Contest is open to residents of US, Canada, Germany and wherever it is that Reviewer X lives and is open until 9 pm CST on July 20th when I will announce the winners. Winners will then have 48 hrs to get back to me with their mailing address or forfeit their prize. Good luck everyone!

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Book Review: Evolution, Me & Other Freaks of Nature by Robin Brande

I remember the first time I heard about the evolution vs creationism debate, I asked my mother what she thought about it. She said, “Well, if God wanted to use evolution, God certainly could have.” In Evolution, Me & Other Freaks of Nature, Mena’s science teacher would certainly agree. She tells the class that science is the “how of things” while religion is the “why of things” and while it’s not her place to teach religion (the whole separation of church and state idea), she doesn’t see why the two can’t peacefully coexist.

Mena herself is trying to reconcile her faith and what she’s been taught all her life by her parents and church with the science that is being taught in the classroom. Complicating matters slightly: her church has banned her, her parents are angry with her and her friends have abandoned her because she wrote a letter that got her church sued. Meanwhile, she is starting to really respect her science teacher and she has a cute, brainy new lab partner, Casey, who just might be more than just a friend to her. That puts Mena smack dab in the center of controversy involving science, religion and the freedom to think for yourself.

Author Robin Brande, who has served as a Sunday school teacher at church, knows her science and her religion and presents the case for a "biblically sanctioned" view of evolution well. Less convincing were her one-sided portrayals of the church group kids. I have a hard time believing that kids who are so sheltered that they know nothing about The Lord of the Rings would be allowed out of the house with sexy t-shirts two sizes too small (shapeless dresses or culottes being more the norm) or even be allowed to attend public school for that matter. I can accept that they may be narrow minded and be easily swayed into collective actions like turning their desks backwards to protest the teaching of evolution, but I find it more difficult to believe that they would be such bullies – using physical intimidation and cussing in public – when it is my experience that fundamentalist church kids are more like “Turn the other cheek” and “The meek will inherit the earth”. Granted, Mena does defend the pastor’s “misguided” daughter by saying she has pure intentions, but on the whole, I was slightly bothered by the over-the-top villainy of the church kids and Pastor Wells (his sermon at church was so unbelievably mean-spirited, it was campy).

What I really do love about this novel is that it is respectful to both science and religion and encourages discussion. Not only that, Mena has a great voice that will especially appeal to those of us from strict households. Plus, it’s just fun to read (AND it has 12 cute puppies in it – what more do you NEED?). Head over to for a great interview with the author.

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Contest Winners & More Contests!

I kind of went overboard buying Euro treats... So in addition to my official winner who gets a big box of Euro treats, I chose a runner-up who will receive a mini-box of Euro treats. Since Emmy is sleeping, I decided to use and the official winner is:


My runner up is:

Melissa Walker!

Claim your prizes by sending me your snail mail details to lenoreva AT hotmail DOT com - and congrats!!

Didn't win? Never fear - I will be giving away AT LEAST 16 books on my blog this month so stay tuned!

And I also banded together with Shooting Stars Mag and tons of other YA bloggers to bring you the Stephanie Kuehnert's I Wanna Be Your Joey Ramone Gift Card Giveaway!

I fully expect this book to be awesome and plan to get it when it comes out next week on July 8. Check out these rave reviews:

Teen Book Review

Teens Read Too

The Book Muncher

We want you to pre-order the book now or go and get it when it's officially released. To help motivate you to do this...we enlisted the help of fellow book reviewers to give away an awesome prize!

What you must do: Get the book and either copy the receipt or take a picture with the book.

Send your proof to Lauren at: by July 30, 2008 and you're entered to win A WHOLE BUNCH of $10 gift cards for various bookstores and Itunes, since the book is very music-oriented.

These are my fellow Book Reviewers who will each be giving away a $10 gift card to the winner.

Click on each name to check out their blog!

And Another Book Read: Tasha (Barnes N Noble)

Shooting Stars Mag: Lauren

Reading Mania (Elaina Reads): Elaina

The Compulsive Reader


The Story Siren: Kristi

B is for Books: Breanna

Teen Troves: Mollie and Ariel (Amazon)

From the Corner of Megan's Mind: Megan

Presenting Lenore

Writer's Block Reviews: Holly

In Bed with Books

Reader Rabbit

If you're counting, that's 13 book sites giving away a $10 card...that means the winner will get 130 bucks in gift cards just by buying ONE book and showing us that you did! Not bad, right? MORE might be added as well in the next few days, so keep checking back to this post to see if the amount goes up! So what are you waiting for?

**** Other contests ******

There are still more chances to win that box of 14 books from Hachette over at Trish's blog.

Hope's Bookshelf is giving away a copy of The Latent Powers of Dylan Fontaine by April Lurie - enter by July 9th at her blog.

The Tome Traveller is having her first book giveaway: The Rest of her Life by Laura Moriarty - enter on her blog by July 14th.

Keri Mikulski is giving away two fun summer books: Bev Katz Rosembaum's I Was a Teenage Popsicle and Heather McElhatton's Pretty Little Mistakes: A Do Over Novel. Both sound like really great reads so enter over at her blog by July 31st!

Love to Read is giving away an ARC of The God of Animals by Aryn Kyle. Enter at her blog by July 14th.

Even more book contests are listed at these great sites:
Up For Grabs
West of Mars

Library Thing Tuesday (8)

Here are the books of interest to me in the Top 100 Most Popular Books on LibraryThing. If I have it listed here, I have either read it, or plan to read it (TBR). In bold is what I actually have on my shelf which you could borrow. I've starred what I liked (giving 5 stars to those I really liked).

7. The Da Vinci Code by Dan Brown (23,266)
10. 1984 by George Orwell (19,735) *****
11. Pride and Prejudice (Bantam Classics) by Jane Austen (19,583)*****
12. The catcher in the rye by J.D. Salinger (19,082)*
13. To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee (17,586) *
14. The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald (16,210)*
15. The lord of the rings by J.R.R. Tolkien (15,483)*
16. The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini (14,566) TBR
17. Jane Eyre (Penguin Classics) by Charlotte Bronte (14,449) TBR
18. The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time by Mark Haddon (13,946)
19. Life of Pi by Yann Martel (13,272) *****
20. Animal Farm by George Orwell (13,091)*
21. Angels & demons by Dan Brown (13,089)*
22. Brave New World by Aldous Huxley (13,005)*
23. Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte (12,777)*
24. One Hundred Years of Solitude (Oprah's Book Club) by Gabriel Garcia Marquez (12,634) TBR
26. Memoirs of a Geisha by Arthur Golden (12,147)*
27. The Time Traveler's Wife by Audrey Niffenegger (11,976)*
29. The Odyssey by Homer (11,483)*
32. Crime and Punishment by Fyodor Dostoyevsky (11,257) TBR
35. American Gods: A Novel by Neil Gaiman (10,823)*
36. The chronicles of Narnia by C. S. Lewis (10,603)*****
37. The hitchhiker's guide to the galaxy by Douglas Adams (10,537) *
38. Lord of the Flies by William Golding (10,435) *
39. The lovely bones : a novel by Alice Sebold (10,125)
41. The Golden Compass (His Dark Materials, Book 1) by Philip Pullman (9,827) TBR
44. Emma by Jane Austen (9,610) *
45. Frankenstein by Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley (9,598) TBR
46. The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn (Bantam Classics) by Mark Twain (9,593)*
47. Anna Karenina (Oprah's Book Club) by Leo Tolstoy (9,433) TBR
48. Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell by Susanna Clarke (9,413) TBR
49. Middlesex: A Novel by Jeffrey Eugenides (9,343)*
50. Wicked: The Life and Times of the Wicked Witch of the West by Gregory Maguire (9,336) TBR
51. Lolita by Vladimir Nabokov (9,274) *
53. The Iliad by Homer (9,153)*
54. The Stranger by Albert Camus (9,084)*****
55. Sense and Sensibility (Penguin Classics) by Jane Austen (9,080) *****
56. Great Expectations (Penguin Classics) by Charles Dickens (9,027) *
57. The Handmaid's Tale: A Novel by Margaret Atwood (8,960) ******
58. On the Road by Jack Kerouac (8,904)
60. The Little Prince by Antoine de Saint Exupery - (8,764)
61. The lion, the witch and the wardrobe by C. S. Lewis (8,421) *****
62. A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L'Engle (8,417) *****
63. Neverwhere by Neil Gaiman (8,368) TBR
65. Little Women by Louisa May Alcott (8,214)*
69. The complete works by William Shakespeare (8,096) Read most of
71. Me Talk Pretty One Day by David Sedaris (7,834) TBR
72. The Poisonwood Bible: A Novel (Perennial Classics) by Barbara Kingsolver (7,829)*****
73. Hamlet (Folger Shakespeare Library) by William Shakespeare (7,808) *
74. Of Mice and Men (Penguin Great Books of the 20th Century) by John Steinbeck (7,807)*
77. The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath (7,648)*
78. The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde (7,598)*
79. The Elements of Style, Fourth Edition by William Strunk (7,569) *
80. Love in the Time of Cholera by Gabriel Garcia Marquez (7,557) ******
82. Atonement: A Novel by Ian McEwan (7,530) *****
83. The Brothers Karamazov by Fyodor Dostoyevsky (7,512)*
84. The Secret Life of Bees by Sue Monk Kidd (7,436) TBR
85. Dracula by Bram Stoker (7,238) TBR
86. Heart of Darkness (Dover Thrift Editions) by Joseph Conrad (7,153)*****
87. A Clockwork Orange by Anthony Burgess (7,055)*
88. Don Quixote by Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra (7,052)
91. The Unbearable Lightness of Being: A Novel by Milan Kundera (6,901)*****
94. The Canterbury Tales (Penguin Classics) by Geoffrey Chaucer (6,868)
95. Persuasion (Penguin Classics) by Jane Austen (6,862) TBR
97. The Historian by Elizabeth Kostova (6,794)
99. A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius by Dave Eggers (6,708)

For the full list, please see Marie's post.

July Book Blowout Challenge

I am joining Blue Archipelago's summer reading challenge for the month of July!

I am going to set my realistic goal at 12 books read. My fantasy goal is 18 books read.

Let's get reading!
Here are my answers to the first mini-challenge:
1. Describe yourself in one sentence. I plead the 5th.
2. What book will you start the challenge with? Evolution, me, and other freaks of nature.
3. Where is your favourite place to read? I prefer quiet places.
4. What is your favourite book of all time? I can't choose just one!
5. Remind us all of your challenge target. 12-18