Book Blogger Hop & Follow Friday August 27 – 30

It’s Friday! Time to discover new blogs to follow!   Blog Hop is a meme held every weekend and it is hosted by Jennifer at Crazy for Books.  It’s a great way to find book blogs that you might now know about.

Parajunkee is hosting Follow Friday, which is another fun way to meet new bloggers.  Check out Parajunkee’s blog here.

If you are visiting from the Blog Hop, please leave a comment so I can stop by your blog to say hi!

Question of the week:

Do you use a rating system for your reviews and if so, what is it and why?

Yes, I use letter grades, because they are easy to understand.  A’s are hard to get, and most books are in the B to C+ range. Why?  If I really hate a book, I usually don’t finish it – there are just too many other books out there to waste time on something that I don’t enjoy.  To get an A, a book really, really has to impress me and it has to be so good that I can’t put it down.  This makes me want to ask you something – should I post about the books that I don’t finish? Let me know in the comments 🙂

From Dusk Till Dawn Read-a-Thon Update

I am getting a slow start on Book Crazy’s Dusk Till Dawn Read-a-Thon.  Wednesday is my late day, and by the time I got home from my riding lesson, I was too exhausted to read anything other than Millie Waits for the Mail by Alexander Steffensmeier.  This is a picture book about a cow who loves to scare the mailman.  It was very cute!

There are some challenges being hosted hosted for the read-a-thon!  This is the first time I have participated in challenges, and I’m looking forward to seeing what else the participating bloggers come up with.

Jami from YA Addict is hosting the first challenge for the Read-a-Thon – Show off Your Read!

Ok, so the picture in the post isn’t me.  This is Buu, the Manga Maniac Cafe’s handsome Head of Security.  Here he is, showing off Ascendant by Diana Peterfreund.  He will do anything for a Greenie, even pose with a book about killer unicorns!

Heather from Book Savvy is hosting another challenge, and this one is really tough.  She wants to know what your favorite book of 2010 has been.  I can’t just pick one, because I read some totally fantastic books so far this year!  I will limit my response to just a few:

Before I Fall by Lauren Oliver

The Enemy by Charlie Higson

Nomansland by Lesley Hauge

Moxy Maxwell Does Not Love Stuart Little by Peggy Gifford

The Challenge #3 is Elin of The Norwegian Book Girl – Her challenge is to pick a book that is set during the Victorian era.  While I enjoy the time period, I don’t know if I have a book that fits the description.  I have until the end of the challenge to see if I can track one down.

And that’s it so far.  Hardly any reading has been accomplished, but I did take a nice pic of the Head of Security!

Stepping on Roses Vol 2 by Rinko Ueda Manga Review


Title: Stepping on Roses Vol 2

Author: Rinko Ueda

Publisher: Viz

ISBN: 978-1421531830


May Contain Spoilers

From Amazon:

A rags-to-riches romance from the creator of Tail of the Moon!

Sumi becomes torn when Soichiro’s childhood friend Nozomu expresses romantic interest in her. While she is drawn to Nozomu, she is also committed to Soichiro as his wife. As Sumi fights off her feelings for Nozomu, how far will Nozomu go to win Sumi’s love?

Rinko Ueda writes melodramatic crack.  I can’t get enough of her emotion-laden stories, and am finding Stepping on Roses to be every bit as addicting as Tail of the Moon.  I love Sumi, and I want to see her and her family of orphans find happiness.  I don’t care so much about her selfish brother, who is only out to secure his own comfort, and I really wish someone would deck the guy, because he doesn’t have a noble bone in his body.

After agreeing to marry Soichiro so that she can help the orphans that Eisuke keeps bringing home, Sumi is ready to sacrifice herself to make her little clan of kids happy.  What she doesn’t know is that Eisuke is squandering the money she’s sent to them, and the kids aren’t any better off than before.  This is one development that won’t make her happy, but since she should know what a skunk her brother is, she shouldn’t be surprised when she finds out.

Life with Soichiro isn’t exactly a walk in the park, either.  The guy has a temper, and he is overindulged and used to getting his way.  He is extremely critical of Sumi, a girl who has been forced to grow up without any of the privileges he has enjoyed.  I am not so fond of Soichiro, and now that it looks as though he is out to betray his best friend, I like him even less.

Nozomu seems to be a nice guy.  Well, except for the fact that he covets his best friend’s wife.  But part of his temptation comes from Soichiro constantly throwing Sumi and Nozomu together.  It’s obvious that they are attracted to each other, and even though Sumi is trying to resist her feelings, I think things are going to get very complicated for her.  It is too much to think that Soichiro would just accept Sumi for who she is, and try to find contentment now that he’s a married man.  Nope, he has to go and try and ruin everything by destroying the reputations of the only people who have the potential to care for him.  Hmmm….. wonder how long it takes for everything to backfire in his face?

Stepping on Roses is a fun, popcorn romance, a perfect read for the waning summer days.  

Grade: B+

Review copy purchased from Right Stuf

Interview with Kersten Hamilton – Author of Tyger Tyger

The first volume Kersten Hamilton’s Goblin Wars series, Tyger Tyger, hits stores November 15th.  It’s an awesome book that will leave you wanting more!  Kersten dropped in to discuss her writing, and to share a little about herself.

Describe yourself in 140 characters or less.

Bookish. A little wild. My best friend frequently tells me, "You are not like other people, Kersten." I *think* he means it as a compliment.

Can you tell us a little about your novel, Tyger Tyger?

Tyger Tyger is the story of Teagan Wylltson, a girl who has something which is wanted by the goblin god, and Finn MacCumhaill, the cursed goblin hunter who loves her.  The story is deeply rooted in Celtic myth and mystery. And, it’s an exploration of the themes in Blake’s poem, ‘The Tyger.’ 🙂

How did you come up with the concept and the characters for the story?

I had done years of reading and research into Celtic history and mythology. I loved the dark, old tales and heroic themes and knew I wanted to work them into novel. But I am one of those writers who cannot really plan a book — I start writing about a character and see where it takes me. Teagan and Finn surprised me many times!

What have you learned about yourself through your characters?

I’ve learned what hurts me. I’ve learned a bit more about what I am afraid of, and what I love! 

What was the most challenging aspect of writing the book? Was there a scene that you just couldn’t get right?

I have a tendency to focus so hard on my world building that the real world disappears. It is hard to keep my life in balance when I am writing!  Yes–there were two scenes that I was fiddling with right up until the moment the book went to galleys: Finn’s first fight scene, and the last scene in the book.

Can you tell us about your experience finding a publisher?  What was the process like?

I sent Tyger Tyger to Clarion because I really admire their list. I chose to send it to Lynne Polvino because I really admire her editing. It took Lynne just two weeks to make an offer on the book. This isn’t normal. I was stunned when I received the email. And very, very happy!

What’s the most gratifying aspect of having your book published?

Sharing a story that I love so much—and having other people love the characters I worked so hard to bring to life!

Who was your biggest supporter while you were working on the book?

My husband, Mark. He is my own ‘Finn MacCumhaill’, and a pretty good first reader, as well!

If you had to pick one book that turned you on to reading, what would it be?

‘Scaramouche: a Romance of the French Revolution.’ It was the first book I ever stepped into and lived every word.

What do you like to do when you aren’t writing?

I hunt dinosaurs. I love the solitude of the wilderness where I go fossil finding.

I heard a rumor that you like manga!  What are your favorite series and what do you find appealing about comics?

The rumor is right! I read *lots* of manga! I like the old classics such as Twentieth Century Boys, Boys over Flowers, Fruits Basket (I *loved* that one) and Maison Ikkoku. I like Bakuman, because it is about writing, but my current favorite is One Piece. I  really enjoy  Oiichiro Oda’s characters and his concept of friendship and honor.

Manga, when done well,  is distilled essence of story—everything that is brilliant about novels, in many fewer words.

Thank you for interviewing me, Julie!  I hope your readers like Tyger Tyger!


You can learn more about Kersten by visiting her website.  You can pre-order Tyger Tyger from your favorite bookstore, or click the Amazon link below.


Review: The Zombie Chasers by John Kloepfer & Steve Wolfhard


Title: The Zombie Chasers

Author: John Kloepfer

Illustrated: Steve Wolfhard

Publisher: Harper

ISBN: 978-0061853043


May Contain Spoilers

This is one of the most popular MG books in the library network.  I waited weeks and weeks to make it to the head of the line, and when a copy came in, I was told I could only have it for 2 weeks, instead of the usual three.  Whoa!  Then I realized a very sad fact – there aren’t a lot of books in this age bracket that are so appealing to boys. 

The Zombie Chasers is a fun, action-packed read.  When the zombie apocalypse catches Phoenix unawares, lumbering, rotting corpses take to the streets.  Zack, upset after being humiliated by his sister and her friends, suffers further abuse when the meanest of the girls,  Madison, eats the last piece of his birthday cake.  The thought of enjoying that last, delightful slice of cake kept Zack going all day long, too! 

Quicker than he can blink, everyone on the block, except for vain, bossy Madison, has turned into a murderous, brain-craving zombie.  Now that last piece of cake is the last thing on Zack’s mind, and he is seriously worried about living through the night.  With Madison and his best friend, Rice, by his side, Zack ventures into a nightmare to find someplace safe to hide.

This was a fun read.  Full of comedic gore and sentences that occasionally caused me to cringe due to the tremendous “ick!” factor, I couldn’t put it down.  Zack is a feisty guy, and he rises to the challenge of surviving a zombie infestation with wit and lots of snarky comments.  He even proves to be quite gallant, by refusing to hurt his sister, even though she’s been turned into a zombie and she keeps trying to eat his brains.  Madison turns out to be not so awful, even though she remains bossy and demanding to the last page.  Rice, well, despite being a zombie “expert,” he’s a dweeb, and will remain one until the end of time.

Overflowing with humor and buckets of gore, The Zombie Chasers sets a blistering pace that never slows down.  Steve Wolfhard’s illustrations give the story added depth, both by providing amusing drawings and giving a visual representation of tons of gloppy zombies.  The book even has a zombie puppy!  How cute is that?!  My only disappointment with The Zombie Chasers is the non-ending, but, hey, at least the first chapter to the next installment of the series was included in the the back of the book.  Wonder how long I’ll have to wait to be at the head of the line for that one?

Grade: B

Review copy obtained from the library

Waiting on Wednesday – The Marbury Lens, Walls Within Walls, The Familiars

Waiting On Wednesday is a weekly event, hosted by Jill at Breaking the Spine, that spotlights upcoming releases that we’re eagerly anticipating.

The Marbury Lens by Andrew Smith is due in stores in November. It looks so cool.

From Amazon:

Sixteen-year-old Jack gets drunk and is in the wrong place at the wrong time. He is kidnapped. He escapes, narrowly. The only person he tells is his best friend, Conner. When they arrive in London as planned for summer break, a stranger hands Jack a pair of glasses. Through the lenses, he sees another world called Marbury.

There is war in Marbury. It is a desolate and murderous place where Jack is responsible for the survival of two younger boys. Conner is there, too. But he’s trying to kill them.

Meanwhile, Jack is falling in love with an English girl, and afraid he’s losing his mind.

Conner tells Jack it’s going to be okay.

Walls Within Walls by Maureen Sherry is due out in September.  It sounds promising.

From Amazon:

After their father, a video-game inventor, strikes it rich, the Smithfork kids find they hate their new life. They move from their cozy Brooklyn neighborhood to a swanky apartment on Manhattan’s Fifth Avenue. They have no friends, a nanny who takes the place of their parents, and a school year looming ahead that promises to be miserable.

And then, one day, Brid, CJ, and Patrick discover an astonishing secret about their apartment: The original owner, the deceased multimillionaire Mr. Post, long ago turned the apartment itself into a giant puzzle containing a mysterious book and hidden panels—a puzzle that, with some luck, courage, and brainpower, will lead to discovering the Post family fortune. Unraveling the mystery causes them to race through today’s New York City—and to uncover some long-hidden secrets of the past.

Maureen Sherry’s page-turning debut novel is filled with adventure, intrigue, and heart.

I can’t wait for The Familiars by Adam Jay Epstein & Andrew Jacobson. The cover is so cute, and I love the premise. This will be out in September.

From Amazon:

THE FAMILIARS are the magical animal companions to a wizard or witch. When three young wizards-in-training get kidnapped by the evil queen of the land, it is up to their familiars to go a dangerous journey to rescue them. You’ll meet Aldwyn, an orphan alley cat pretending to have telekinesis; Skylar, a know-it-all blue jay who can cast illusions; and Gilbert, a hapless tree frog with the ability to see visions of the future in pools of water. See what happens when these three animal assistants — typically relegated to the background or found sitting quietly on their wizard’s shoulders — go on a heroic adventure of their own!

What are you waiting on?