Picture drawn by Maggie Stiefvater, 2009. Header made by S.F. Robertson, 2010.

Monday, September 29, 2014

Coin Heist by Elisa Ludwig

Coin Heist by Elisa Ludwig
"The last place you'd expect to find a team of criminals is at a prestigious Philadelphia prep school. But on a class trip to the U.S. Mint - which prints a million new coins every 30 minutes - an overlooked security flaw becomes far too tempting for a small group of students to ignore. United by dire circumstances, these unlikely allies - the nerd, the slacker, the athlete, and the perfect student - band together to attempt the impossible: rob the U.S. Mint. This diverse crew is forced to confront their true beliefs about each other and themselves as they do the wrong thing for the right reasons."- summary from Amazon

I really enjoyed Ludwig's debut Pretty Crooked and was excited to read this stand-alone title from her. I'm always amazed at authors who can write about spy missions or heists so effectively. They're some of my favorite books to read because it just seems so cool. This story was even more intriguing because it puts us into the minds of four very different teens as they begin to work together to pull this whole thing off. The climax is amazing and throws in a crazy curveball that I didn't see coming. The characters too are so well-written; in the summary and in the book, they have their roles to fill but they are all much more than what the public perceives them to be.

Overall, a quick, compelling read from Ludwig. I can't wait to read more from her (and actually have the sequel to Pretty Crooked, called Pretty Sly, on my TBR shelf already) and I definitely recommend this book if you love spy/heist novels like I do.

FTC: Received e-galley from Netgalley. Link above is an Amazon Associate link; any profit goes toward funding contests.

Friday, September 26, 2014

Chasing Before by Lenore Appelhans

Chasing Before by Lenore Appelhans
"It’s been four months since Felicia saved Level 2 from the Morati, the corrupted angels who trapped her and her boyfriend, Neil, in the afterlife. Now, she and Neil are finally ready to move on to the mysterious Level 3, an afterlife training facility where humans pick a career to pursue until they supposedly retire to the next level.

Shortly after arriving, Felicia learns some shocking truths about her life that make her question everything. Neil wants to focus on the future, but Felicia insists on looking for answers about her past. Just when Felicia thinks things can’t get any more complicated, deadly explosions begin to rock Level 3, and Julian—her charming former love who might still be aligned with the Morati—reappears.

Felicia has a choice: Will she do everything in her power to expose the Morati and end the destruction of Level 3, even if it means never knowing who she really is? Or will she chase after the desires of her heart and risk losing her past humanity, her present afterlife, and a future with Neil?"- summary from Amazon

The Memory of After (aka Level 2) was a wonderful debut and pretty much after reading the final page, I was so excited to read the sequel. It did not disappoint. There's a lot to love here- the new afterlife setting and rules, the suspense of figuring out what's going on with the Morati infiltration, the continued relationship between Felicia and Neil, as well as getting to know new characters Megan (aka Felicia's best friend from Earth) and Brady (introduced in his own fantastic story in The Best Things in Death anthology). I did wish we could see a little more of Brady but perhaps I will just pester Appelhans to write more memories from him.

There's definitely conclusion to this newest installment so fans don't need to worry about a cliffhanger ending, but it does give the impression that it could go on, which I kind of hope it does. I love being in this world and with these characters. Regardless, I will follow Appelhans wherever she goes with her follow-up novels. If you've not read this duology yet, do so now; it's such a breath of fresh air in the YA market with an intriguing concept and compelling characters.

FTC: Received signed ARC from the author (thanks Lenore!). Link above is an Amazon Associate link; any profit goes toward funding contests.

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

The Art of Secrets by James Klise

The Art of Secrets by James Klise
"When Saba Khan’s apartment burns in a mysterious fire, possibly a hate crime, her Chicago high school rallies around her. Her family moves rent-free into a luxury apartment, Saba’s Facebook page explodes, and she starts (secretly) dating a popular boy. Then a quirky piece of art donated to a school fund-raising effort for the Khans is revealed to be an unknown work by a famous artist, worth hundreds of thousands of dollars, and Saba’s life turns upside down again. Should Saba’s family have all that money? Or should it go to the students who found the art? Or to the school? And just what caused that fire?

Greed, jealousy, and suspicion create an increasingly tangled web as students and teachers alike debate who should get the money and begin to point fingers and make accusations. The true story of the fire that sets events in motion and what happens afterward gradually comes together in an innovative narrative made up of journal entries, interviews, articles, letters, text messages, and other documents."- summary from Amazon

I loved Klise's debut (Love Drugged) and was so excited to see that my library had a copy of his follow-up novel. It's a different type of story from him; this book has many different perspectives and, like the summary says, it's told through a variety of ways- journal entries, interviews, articles, etc. It's an extremely interesting and compelling read that propelled me through the book very quickly. Klise inhabits each of these characters with ease and writes realistically for each of them, though everyone is of different backgrounds, ages, etc.

Overall, a fantastic second novel from Klise, and I'm excited to see what he does next. If you haven't read either of his books yet, do so now!

FTC: Borrowed book from library. Link above is an Amazon Associate link; any profit goes toward funding contests.

Monday, September 22, 2014

Sinner by Maggie Stiefvater

Sinner by Maggie Stiefvater

Cole St. Clair has come to California for one reason: to get back Isabel Culpeper. She fled from his damaged, drained life, and damaged and drained it even more. He doesn't just want her. He needs her.


Isabel is trying to build herself a life in Los Angeles. It's not really working. She can play the game as well as all the other fakes. But what's the point? What is there to win?


Cole and Isabel share a past that never seemed to have a future. They have the power to love each other and the power to tear each other apart. The only thing for certain is that they cannot let go."- summary from Amazon

I absolutely adored this new book featuring Cole and Isabel from the Shiver trilogy. I loved getting back into their world and seeing them in a new setting- Los Angeles. There's a lot keeping them apart, and Stiefvater does a wonderful job illustrating that; there's a lot of realistic issues between them (not just the whole werewolf thing, though that is a big part too). They both have been hurt in the past by other lovers, each other, and their own families; it becomes hard to overcome those things and be vulnerable with someone else. Stiefvater writes their relationship so well, which makes the reader really root for them. And for fans of the series, the reader is given a glimpse into what's been going on with Sam and Grace as well, which is nice to see.

Overall, a fantastic new entry and ending to the Wolves of Mercy Falls series. I highly recommend it, and you can also read it without really having read the previous three books.

FTC: Received ARC from publisher. Link above is an Amazon Associate link; any profit goes toward funding contests.

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Blog Tour- Evil Librarian by Michelle Knudsen

Evil Librarian by Michelle Knudsen
"He’s young. He’s hot. He’s also evil. He’s . . . the librarian.

When Cynthia Rothschild’s best friend, Annie, falls head over heels for the new high-school librarian, Cyn can totally see why. He’s really young and super cute and thinks Annie would make an excellent library monitor. But after meeting Mr. Gabriel, Cyn realizes something isn’t quite right. Maybe it’s the creepy look in the librarian’s eyes, or the weird feeling Cyn gets whenever she’s around him. Before long Cyn realizes that Mr. Gabriel is, in fact . . . a demon. Now, in addition to saving the school musical from technical disaster and trying not to make a fool of herself with her own hopeless crush, Cyn has to save her best friend from the clutches of the evil librarian, who also seems to be slowly sucking the life force out of the entire student body!"- summary from publisher


About the author

Michelle Knudsen is the author of The Dragon of Trelian and The Princess of Trelian, as well as the best-selling picture book Library Lion, illustrated by Kevin Hawkes; Argus, illustrated by Andréa Wesson; and Big Mean Mike, illustrated by Scott Magoon. Michelle Knudsen lives in Brooklyn, New York.

and here's an interview with Michelle:

1) How did you get the idea for Evil Librarian?

This was one of those stories that I just sort of started writing, without any idea what it was about. I was taking a break from a different, heavier novel, and suddenly Cyn’s voice was just there in my head, and I started writing down what I heard. I liked what she had to say, and so I kept going, writing to find out what was going to happen next. Cyn’s not a high-school version of me, but she does love a lot of the same things that I do ... including musical theater and swoon-worthy guys. I had a lot of fun with her story. Plus it gave me an excuse to listen to Sweeney Todd (and rewatch the video of the 1982 Angela Lansbury/George Hearn production) over and over again, which was possibly my most favorite research ever.

2) You've written a lot of books for younger children. What brought you to the YA genre? Was it a genre you'd read a lot from before diving into it?

I started out in children’s books on the editorial side, at Random House Books for Young Readers. I worked on everything from board books to early chapter books, and read everything from board books to YA novels, and so from the start I always felt comfortable reading and eventually writing books for various age groups. I’m not sure why it took me until now to write a novel for teens ... for a while my ideas just mostly seemed to come for younger books, and so those were the books I wrote. I could tell as soon as I heard Cyn’s voice that she was in high school, though, and knew her story was going to be for an older audience than my earlier books.

When I was in high school, there wasn’t anything like the amazing variety of YA novels that are out there today. Mostly back then I was reading adult fantasy and science fiction, but many of those had main characters who were young adults (and some have since been repackaged for the YA section). So I think that also helped set the stage a little for writing fantasy and paranormal YA stories of my own.

3) What's your favorite Jelly Belly jelly bean flavor(s)? Or, if you don't like those, your favorite snack to have while writing or as a reward for writing?

I must admit, I’m not a huge jelly bean fan. If there are a bunch of jelly beans in a bowl, I tend to go for the green ones, but I know Jelly Bellies go far beyond the basic color/flavor spectrum. I would probably have to do some serious taste-testing to figure out my favorite. But as far as other candy-type rewards go, I really like Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups. For a long time those were my #1 go-to choice at the end of a night’s work. (I tend not to snack too much while actually writing — it makes it hard to type!)

4) What are you currently reading, or are about to start?

As usual, I’m in the middle of a few different books. My current bedside novel is Elizabeth Wein’s Code Name Verity, which is amazingly good. I just started the audiobook of John Scalzi’s new novel Lock In (the version read by Wil Wheaton), and I’m liking that a lot so far, too. And I’m very slowly making my way through George R. R. Martin’s A Dance with Dragons. (I read the first few Song of Ice and Fire novels when they first came out, long before the HBO series, and LOVED them, but I’m not finding myself as helplessly sucked into this book as I was the earlier ones. Still working on it, but it’s definitely my back-burner book; I keep it on my Nook and my phone for when I’m stuck somewhere without something else to read.) Not sure what will be up next; I have so many books in my TBR piles, and they all look so good — it’s very hard to choose!

Check out all the previous stops on the tour!


Elizabeth O. Dulemba

Random Chalk Talk

Books 4 Your Kids

Green Bean Teen Queen

Katie's Book Blog

Word Spelunking