liarSo. I don’t know if you remember, but back in…oh, around August I think, there was this big fuss about the cover of Liar.  If you didn’t hear, the publisher put a picture of white girl on the cover.  Which is fine, I guess, but the protagonist is black.  Many, including the author, felt that this was done in, to put it nicely, poor taste, and such a stink was raised that the publisher actually consented to change the cover; which is the cover you see here.

The controversy had one good thing going for it. Free advertising!  I had only slightly heard of the book before all that happened.  After, I definitely knew I wanted to read it.  Because, despite the cover, it sounded like an awesome book.

And, I learned how to spell Larbalestier without having to look it up!

Micah is a liar.  Compulsively so.  Since the first day at her new school, when she had everyone believing she was a boy, until now, she lies.  She can’t help herself.  Four years later, she still lies.  From habit, for self-preservation, for attention.  But that is all over now.  She is going to tell the truth, from now on. She says:

Weaving lies is one thing; having them weave you is another.

That’s why I’m writing this.  To keep me from going over the edge.  I don’t want to be a liar anymore.  I want to tell my stories true.

But I haven’t so far.  Not entirely.  I’ve tried.  I’ve really tried.   I’ve tried harder than I ever have.  But, well, there’s so much and it’s so hard.

I slipped a little.  Just a little.


I’ll make it up to you, though.

From now on it’s nothing but the truth.

Obviously Micah is an unreliable narrator and, while some of her lies seem silly, it’s obvious that she does it to hide something, something important, that she doesn’t want anyone to know.  It’s hard to take anything she says at face value, as her story is constantly changing.  One thing is made abundantly clear however.  Micah’s secret boyfriend Zachary, was murdered in Central Park, and she devastated.   Her grief is overwhelming, as is her desire for vengeance.   Thanks to the love she has for Zach and her understandable desire to find out who did it, she becomes a character worth caring for.  In Larbalestier’s skilled hands, Micah takes on a life, a desire, a need to tell her story that is captivating.  Some may not care for the unreliableness of the narrator or the ambiguous ending, but I loved both, as I usually tend to do.  I finished this book about a week ago and I still find myself thinking about it and know I will be rereading it, very soon.  Liar is not to be missed.

Buy this book here and support this blog:

Written by: Justine Larbalestier
Reading level:
Young Adult
384 pages
Bloomsbury USA Children’s Books (September 29, 2009)
Justine on Twitter
Justine’s Blog

Author also wrote:

Magic Lessons | Magic’s Child | Magic or Madness | How to Ditch Your Fairy

Also Reviewed by:

Book Addiction | Devourer of Books | Becky’s Book Reviews | and many more…

I am a Book Depository Affiliate and will make a very small profit if you buy a book through one of my links. And then I will love you forever and bless you and all your children and your children’s children.

I bought this book for myself because I was wanting to reads it.  So there.

Thankfully Reading Weekend – Day 2

Thank1-300x300Yeah, so I totally forgot to post anything yesterday. But I was so busy! Reading! And yeah, going to see Santa. Well, my niece and nephews saw Santa, my kids want no part of sitting on some creepy old man’s lap and telling them what they want. No way, no how. Emphatically, no. So, we wandered around window shopping while they did that and then had Mall Chinese! Yum!

Other than doing that, I was reading.  I’ve read almost half of Elizabeth Kostova’s new book (coming January 2010) The Swan Thieves.  It. Is. So. Good.  I was afraid I would have a similar experience to what I had with Audrey Niffenegger’s book Her Fearful Symmetry, where I think I anticipated it TOO much and ruined the experience for myself, but so far, it’s no where near it.  It’s all love. Love, love, love.  Love the characters, love the writing, it’s wonderful.  It is exactly what I expected and more.

So, I’m off to read more on this last day of Thanksgiving weekend.  Happy Reading to you all!

Knock, Knock!

Goofing off with the digital camcorder yesterday… Here’s my son with his knock knock joke and yes, that is me in the background talking, in all my Southern accented glory.

I will translate below *wink*

So, basically, he’s TRYING to tell the classic banana and orange joke, but, well, he skips to the end, sort of.  He’s been telling it this way for months and no matter HOW MANY TIMES we try to teach him the correct way to tell it, he tells it this way.  Which is fine with me because it is SO CUTE.

There was another hilarious thing from him today.  I was cooking in the kitchen and, his favorite question to ask at any time (sometimes over and over and OVER) is “Whatcha doin?” Well, he asked me and I said I’m making cheesecake.  Well, I just totally blew his mind.  He was all “Cheese?  Cake?  Cheesecake??” And then, in his best OMG WHAT voice said CHEESECAKE!!!!!

He loves cheese.

He loves cake.

So, the possibility of CHEESECAKE just sent him over the edge.  I can’t wait to see his face when he sees that’s a CHOCOLATE CHEESECAKE!

Happy Thanksgiving!

With my general dissatisfaction with my job, the sudden lack of time for blogging or reading, and generally having a bad case of the blahs, it is great that this holiday came when it did.  I have so many wonderful things to be thankful for.

These little buggers.
Yeah, this handsome guy too...
Yeah, this handsome guy too...

And for my and my family’s health (even though I seem to catch every cold going around, I know it could be worse), my family, my friends, my job (even if I had to take such a HUGE pay cut to keep it *grumble* it’s still a job), my books, my blog, my blogging buddies, and, well, life.

So Happy Thanksgiving my friends.  May it be safe, happy, and very, very filling. I’m off to bake a Gingerbread Apple Upside-Down Cake.  YUM.

Peter & Max


I bet you figured I would read this book. If you knew about it anyway. I love, love, love the Fables comics and graphic novels, so I pre-ordered this book as soon as I heard about it.  And, big surprise, I loved this too!

Peter & Max is the first novel Bill Willingham has written set in the Fables universe. (I think it may be his first novel novel too, but I’m not 100% sure about that).

The novel starts out with Peter and Max and their family of traveling musicians.  If you didn’t guess from the cover, with that creepy looking piper, one of these guys is the Pied Piper of Hamelin. That isn’t the only Fable touched on here.  Peter is married to Bo Peep!  And like the Fables Graphic Novels, this novel is rich in folklore, fantasy, and art; it’s a wonderful amalgamation of them all.    It’s a tale of jealousy. Betrayal.  And revenge.  The narrative travels back and forth between present day America and medieval times.  Max believes that their father committed a terrible wrong to him and he plans to make Peter pay for it.    Peter Piper is hunting his older brother Max to put an end to their bitter rivalry, once and for all.

You do not need to have read the GNs to enjoy this book; it can definitely stand alone.  If you have, it’s a rich, textured tale that brings in several beloved characters from the comics and makes for an enthralling read.   If you haven’t read them, it’s a good introduction or, if you haven’t read them because you don’t like to read comics, well, there are only illustrations here.  It’s a straight up novel, an enjoyable novel, one that I highly recommend.

Kailana of The Written World and I both read this at the same time, so we decided to review it together.  What follows is the second half of our conversation about it.  See her blog for the first half and here for the second, as we discuss the book, Fables, and our opinions about both.  She is the black text, I am the red text.

K: Yeah, the flutes are a good touch. Two piper brothers, but one was good and one wasn’t. Max was written very well. He was the ‘bad’ brother and you could really believe it. He wasn’t so crazy that it didn’t make any sense. Then, Peter was a sweet kid, but he wasn’t an angel. Having him and Bo be big readers was a really fun idea, too. It didn’t necessarily play a big role, but just having it mentioned was a nice touch! The inclusion of familiar characters worked well, too. By having the two main characters be ones that have never been mentioned before, this book wasn’t really a spoiler for those that haven’t read all the graphic novels. I hope, though. that if he writes more books in this format they will build on some of the characters we have seen all ready.

H: I really liked Bo and Peter.  I liked that she was the one who became an assassin!  And that Peter became the master thief.  And Max was an excellent bad guy.  His *costume* choices cracked me up.  I agree though, I would love to have a back-story type of book about one of the more familiar characters to those of us who have read the GNs. I know Bigby has his own GN mini-series coming up and so does Cinderella, but, I don’t know, someone like Rose Red, or Boy Blue, or even Flycatcher would be so great I think, to have their own spin-off novel.

I didn’t know about the Bigby and Cinderella stories. That’s very cool! I love anything to do with Willingham and his books, so I don’t really think I would be unhappy about anything that he does. What was your favourite scene from the book?

Oh wow, that’s a hard one. There are so many that were interesting.  I really liked when Bigby was after Peter and Max in the Black Forest.  I liked the first time Max and Peter played their flutes against each other.  I liked the scene where Bo hides in the pumpkin.  But my favorite, or, at least the very first scene that came to my mind, so apparently has stuck with me, is when the witch is walking through the woods with that goat and those knights come up and kill it.  Whatever that thing was that escaped the goat’s body has irked me, because we are not told what, or who, it is.  My husband and I have discussed it and my theory is that it’s Mr. Dark from the new arc in the comics.  He doesn’t think so, but he doesn’t know what it was either.  I hope it comes up again, either in the GNs or a book, because it really bugs me!!

What do you think it was?

I have no idea! It is just one of those things, I guess. It is obviously something evil that the witch has tried to capture, so I would say Mr. Dark. Otherwise, it must be something that hasn’t been shown yet, but I think he would have explained it more if it was new. That being said, the books are written so that if you haven’t read the graphic novels you can still read this book. I guess when it comes down to it I really have no idea what it is! Any of the scenes with my witch are my favourite, though. She’s a great character and I always think she is written so well. One minute she is all hunched up in her rocking chair knitting, but then next thing you know she is fighting evil. She is rather complex, so I enjoy her. The scene in the pumpkin was one of my favorites, too!

I really like the witch too. She’s so ambiguous; I know she’s supposed to be “good” now, helping Fabletown and all after the amnesty, but somehow, deep down, I think she’s not entirely as good as she lets on.  Like she’s only their for her own interests, whatever they may be.  Maybe Willingham should write a book or GN about her next!

I really did enjoy this book.  I think most anyone would enjoy it and could even be a good introduction to the Fables world.  Here’s hoping there will be more!

Oh, yes, a book on the witch would be really great! I really enjoyed this, too, and recommend it! I can’t wait until more!

Peter & Max
Written by: Bill Willingham
With illustrations by Steve Leialoha
Publisher and Date: Vertigo Comics, 2009
Hardcover: 368 pages
Bill Willingham on Twitter

Other Peter & Max links:

the book’s website
excerpt from the book (PDF link)
excerpt (chapter 1) (PDF link)
excerpt (chapter 2) (PDF link)

Author also wrote:

Too much to name!  Just look up Bill Willingham on Amazon or some other bookstore, you’ll get a ton of hits.

Also Reviewed by:

I can’t seem to find any by bloggers. If you have reviewed it, let me know and I’ll add you!

I am a Book Depository Affiliate and will make a very small profit if you buy a book through one of my links.

I received this book from Amazon.  When I bought it. For myself.



You know what? I am so burned out on Vampire fiction, that I don’t know if I will ever read another Vampire book for at least, oh, two or three months. Maybe longer.  I mean, it could be YEARS before I read another vampire book.  Which will make it hard for me to complete the Vampire Diaries, but, oh well.  I am sick to death of it and the release of New Moon ain’t helpin’. I have felt this way for quite awhile too.

Yet, I had heard of this book, Fledgling, by Octavia Butler, which is a vampire book, and I was intrigued.  Reviews said it isn’t like your normal vampire book.  It’s different.  It’s good.  There are no sparkles.  Read it.  So, when I came across the audio version on Overdrive, I thought, what the heck?  What do I have to loose?  12 hours and 19 minutes.  I can part with that in the search for an original and compelling book about vampires.

I’m really glad I listened to all those bloggers, and my gut, and listened to this.  I can’t say that I loved it, in fact I have quite a few problems with it, but it made me think and sometimes that’s even better than loving the story.  And I got original and compelling.  In spades.

Fledgling is about Shori, who looks like a pre-teen African-American girl.  At the beginning of the novel, she awakens in a cave, alone, with serious injuries, including the loss of her memory.  It is eventually revealed, through much running around and searching, that she is actually a 53 year old child of a race of people called “Ina.” Ina are the race that fueled mankind’s folktales about vampires.  The Ina are nocturnal,  ancient, and use human’s for their food, by drinking their blood.  However, they do not kill humans, but live with them, carrying for them as part of their families.  Shori was a genetic experiment by her family.  She was giving human DNA, African-American DNA, which gave her the dark skin that allows her to walk in sunlight and stay awake during the day.

Shori meets a 23-year-old white man named Wright, who becomes the first of her symbiots, the name the Ina call their humans.  Humans derive great pleasure from the experience of an Ina drinking their blood and he quickly becomes infatuated with her.  With Wright’s help, Shori begins to explore just what and who she is, to discover who killed her family, and why.

Fledgling is more than just the story of a girl trying to rediscover her identity.  It is more than a story of vampires, romance, or an exploration of the supernatural.  It’s a story of racism, of identity, of honor and love.  It’s a story of survival, not only of a single person, but an entire race.  It’s the story of sexuality. Of community.  Of what it means to be human.

From here on out, there will probably be some spoilers about the book, but there are some feelings about it I just have to get out.

As I said, I did have a few problems with the book.  For one thing, despite Shori being a “53 year-old Ina female” she has the appearance of an 11 year-old human girl.  So, when she and Wright (and later, other characters) begin to explore a sexual relationship, I was turned off.  Also, as in traditional vampiric lore, because Shori bit Wright, she has control over his wants and desires and gains it quickly.  This leaves Wright struggling with his feelings for Shori and his desire for a regular life.  Obviously this was an exploration of a type of slavery, where the master keeps the slave and believes that it is a mutually beneficial union, but by the end the plot line felt dropped.  I didn’t feel that there was a resolution that left me feeling that Wright was where he wanted to be.  Another part of this setup that bothered me was the establishment by the Ina of these family marriages.  Shori is destined to be “mated” to another Ina family of brothers.  That’s right, she will breed with an entire family of brothers.  Breed.  Not to mention that she sleeps with both of her male symbiots and explores a relationship with one of her female ones.  That’s a lot of sex going on, for someone that is considered a child by her kin and looks like an 11 year-old!

Another small problem I had with it, and I am putting it down to listening to it in the audio format, was the repetitiveness.  It seemed like Shori was mentioning her memory loss every 5 minutes! Every time she met a new Ina character, or really, ANY new character, she just had to tell them she didn’t remember them, she didn’t remember anything before the attack, and that she didn’t think she would ever get that memory back.  It drove me BATTY.  By the last disk I was like, okay, already, I GET IT, you don’t remember anything!!! Sheesh!  However, I’m not sure I would have noticed it as much if I had read it to myself instead of listening to it.

Other than those problems, the book is very interesting and very well written.  I like how the females in the Ina race are so strong and considered equals to their male counterparts.  Like I said, it made me think a lot.  As someone from the South, I see and deal with racism frequently and it makes me sad.  It is wonderful that an African-American woman like Octavia was able to write these books in such an unusual genre and succeed.   Despite my problems with the book, I enjoyed it and really came to care about Shori and her family of humans.   If I was going to give it a number rating, I would probably say 3.5/5, which is good with me and an even better recommendation is saying that I plan to read more of Octavia Butler’s work.  It’s such a shame she passed away in 2006 as I would have liked to see a sequel to Fledgling.

Written by: Octavia Butler
Read by: Tracy Leigh
Publisher and Date: BBC Audiobooks America, 2007
Audio: 12 hours 19 minutes

Author also wrote:

Patternmaster | Mind of My Mind | Survivor | Wild Seed | Clay’s Ark | Seed to Harvest | Dawn | Adulthood Rites | ImagoParable of the Sower | Parable of the Talents | Kindred | Bloodchild

Also Reviewed by:

A Striped Armchair | Shelf Love

I am a Book Depository Affiliate and will make a very small profit if you buy a book through one of my links.

I downloaded the book from Overdrive, through my library’s partnership with them.

Nothing but Ghosts

nothingbutghostsNothing but Ghosts
Written by:
Beth Kephart
Reading level:
Young Adult
288 pages
HarperTeen (June 23, 2009)

Normally, I give myself a few days after completely a book that I am completely smitten with, to give myself a chance to calm down, take a deep breath and look at it objectively.  I don’t think I’m going to come down from the high that was Nothing but Ghosts any time soon however, so I am going to go ahead and review it now.  Why? Because you need to READ IT.

Why?  For writing like this:

I spot a ladybug on a long blade of grass and give her a ride on my finger, and she takes her time.  She goes up to my knuckle and zigzags back own, as if she has all day long to choose a direction, to live in this green garden with tree stumps, crumbles of seeds, bones-a cat, I’m sure it was a cat, maybe a tabby or a calico that belonged to someone who also, maybe on a bright day when things were blooming and ladybugs were swarming, disappeared.  Vanished.  Things disappear and vanish.  That’s the fact.  Before you’re ready for them to go, they go, and after that all you can do is keep the idea of them bright inside yourself.  I place my finger alongside a blade of grass.  The bright red dot climbs off.

This paragraph is not only beautifully written, it tells a lot about what this novel is about; a young girl’s quest to find what has vanished from her life.

Katie’s mother passed away recently, after a bout with cancer, and ever since, she has felt alone in the huge house she shares with her scatterbrained, yet brilliant dad.  It’s summer now and Katie has taken a job at a nearby estate where a former socialite has lived, hidden away, for more than 50 years.  With the help of two brothers and a gorgeous librarian, Katie soon finds herself deep in the mystery of the reclusive Miss Martine.  Long buried secrets are here, waiting for Katie to find; clues hidden in a mysterious painting, a runaway’s trunk waiting to be unearthed, and “paper soup” waiting to be read at the library.  Surprises wait behind a locked bedroom door.  And at the heart of Nothing but Ghosts is the story of girl whose heart has been broken by the death of her beloved mother and is learning to live with her own ghosts. 

There is pain and heartache at the heart of this story, but also hope and love.  Beth Kephart has a poetic way with her prose.  There is no word out of place.  Every sentence painstakingly paints the picture she lovingly has created.   The first-person narrative is never heavy-handed and genuinely made me feel closer to this heartbroken young girl.   And like Amy said in her review:

what I loved most about this book is the simple truth that we are all a bunch of people who have loved and carry around aching loss in our hearts, and yet there is hope to be found somewhere, often in each other.

This book will leave you aching and smiling and crying and sad that it’s over and wanting to turn back to the first page so you can read it again.  I can’t wait to read more of Beth Kephart’s work.

Author also wrote:

Into the Tangle of Friendship | House of Dance | Undercover | Flow | Ghosts in the Garden | A Slant of Sun

Also Reviewed by:

 There are bunches!

I am a Book Depository Affiliate and will make a very small profit if you buy a book through one of my links.

I received this book from Amazon, a long time ago. I think it even qualifies for the Clearning Off Your Shelves Challenge. Yay!!!

The Magician's Elephant

magicianselephantThe Magician’s Elephant
Written by: Kate DiCamillo
Reading level: Ages 9-12
Hardcover: 208 pages
Publisher: Candlewick; 1 edition (September 8, 2009)

When I saw that Kate DiCamillo had a new children’s book coming out, I knew I had to get my hands on it.  I absolutely adored The Tale of Despereaux and I was getting that same vibe from The Magician’s Elephant, just from looking at that delightful cover.   I bought it about a week before the readathon, but I couldn’t wait.  I read it the next day.  And, as I figured I would, I loved it.

When ten-year-old Peter Augustus Duchene is sent to the market for fish and bread, he spends it at the fortuneteller’s tent instead.  He is seeking his long-lost sister, and he is told

“You must follow the elephant.  She will lead you there.”

Understandably, he is confused and heartbroken, because he doesn’t know what that means and thinks his search is over before it really began.  But that very night, at the Bliffenendorf Opera House, a magician’s spell goes haywire and, instead of conjuring what he meant to conjure, he conjures an elephant.  The elephant falls through the ceiling and lands on the lap of a very distraught Madam Bettine LaVaughn.

The landing of the elephant in Madam Bettine LaVaughn’s lap sets off a magical novel about hope and loss, love and heartbreak, home and loneliness, and the desire to find out the truth for oneself instead of believing what others want you to believe.  The gorgeous illustrations by Yoko Tanaka make this dreamlike tale come alive.  It is yet another timeless fable from the incomparable Kate DiCamillo, one that begs to be read aloud to your children, or just to entertain yourself.  Young and old can appreciate this tale of love, hope, and longing, written by that magician herself.

Author also wrote:

Because of Winn Dixie | The Tale of Despereaux | The Tiger Rising | The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane | Great Joy | Mercy Watson Collection | Louise, the Adventures of a Chicken

Also Reviewed by:

Stainless Steel Droppings | Maw Books | Stuff As Dreams Are Made On | and more…

I am a Book Depository Affiliate and will make a very small profit if you buy a book through one of my links.

I bought this book for myself.

Shiver by Stiefvater

Written by: Maggie Stiefvater 
Reading level:
Young Adult
400 pages
Scholastic Press; 1 edition (August 1, 2009)
Author Blog
Author on Twitter

As a child, Grace was stolen by a pack of starving wolves and dragged into the woods behind her house to become their supper. But a yellow-eyed wolf saved her.  Ever since, she has been haunted by her wolf and has become obsessed with him.  They finally meet after a wolf-hunt (undertaken to rid the town of the wolves who have apparently killed a local teen) that sends a wounded and suddenly human Sam into Grace’s arm’s.

Sam had two lives; the one he lives with his pack and the one that sees him watching Grace from afar.  When he is wounded and finds himself with her, finally, after all these years, he is desperate to cling to his humanity and put off the inevitable transformation back into a wolf.  As they cling to each other and their fragile love, they also have to contend with others who would see Sam put down.  Permanently.

Yes, yes, yes!  This is yet another tale about a supernatural type being falling in love with a human girl.  I KNOW.  I have to say though, and I hope you will believe me, that Stiefvater has done so much more with this story of two misfits finding each other and falling in love despite unusual circumstances.  Her transitioning from the regular world to a world where men turn into wolves is seamless.  It is told in the alternating voices of Sam and Grace, which can be jarring, but here it works.  Each character has a very distinctive voice and I think if you didn’t watch the chapter titles to know who was speaking, you would still be able to tell.  The characters are well written and I really liked Grace.  She’s a strong, intelligent, brave young woman which is so important to have in YA literature.  Steifvater is also great with showing, not telling; you can see the chemistry between Grace and Sam without them saying “I love you” every couple of pages.

I read Lament after it first came out and really liked it, but I am even more impressed with Stiefvater’s growth as a writer between the two books.  She is definitely a YA author to watch and I can’t wait to read Ballad, and the next book in this series.

Author also wrote:

Lament | Ballad

Also Reviewed by:

I am a Book Depository Affiliate and will make a very small profit if you buy a book through one of my links.

I received this book from the library because they were sweet enough to buy it for me.

When You Reach Me

whenyoureachmeWhen You Reach Me
Written by: Rebecca Stead
Published by: Wendy Lamb Books,  July 14, 2009
Paperback: 208 pages

Oh, When You Reach Me, how do I love you?  Let me count the ways…

1) It pays homage to one of my favorite books EVAH; Madeleine L’Engle’s A Wrinkle in Time.

2) It involves TIME TRAVEL.

3) The characters are just darling.

Miranda is a sixth-grader living in New York with her mother in 1978 (the year I was born!!!!).  Her most favorite book in the WHOLE WIDE WORLD is A Wrinkle in Time.  She reads it ALL. THE. TIME.  It is the only book she WILL READ.  So when she starts getting a bunch of mysterious notes from someone who hints of future events, she comes to believe that they are, in fact, from the future.   She tries to find the connection to the notes and her life by observing everything around her from her friends, her family and event he raving lunatic homeless man that lives on her street.

I read this during the recent readathon and it was absolutely perfect for that event, as so many of you told me. Thank you!  I loved this lovely little book.  I appreciated the references to A Wrinkle in Time, the characters and their beautifully written voices, and the plot…the plot!  As it unfolded I got so excited because it just seemed so perfectly done.  Do you ever feel that way?  When you’re reading, and everything is unfolding so beautifully, so EXACTLY what you wanted?  Don’t you just want to cry?

Well, I didn’t cry, but I do think I sniffled a little bit.

If you enjoy mid-grades and YA fiction, I definitely recommend you give this little gem a read.  Or, if you liked A Wrinkle in Time, because I felt the some of the same magic from that book in this one.  You can really tell the author must love that book as much as you did.  Stead writes with a sure, knowing hand and her words just glow.  This is an unusual and thought-provoking little mystery that will definitely speak to the child in you.

Author also wrote:

First Light

Also Reviewed by:

Becky’s Book Reviews | The Reading ZoneThe Book Muncher | Save Ophelia

I am a Book Depository Affiliate and will make a very small profit if you buy a book through one of my links.

I received this book from the publisher, to whom I say THANK YOU!!!