Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Get infected by The Way We Fall

Have you been infected by The Way We Fall by Megan Crewe? If you're looking for a great-but-not-so-scary-I-can't-sleep plague novel, then this one is right for you.

After you finish this novel, you'll be sure to do an inventory of your food storage. So, here's a list that I pulled off of Ready.gov of supplies that you should have in case of an emergency.
* Water, one gallon of water per person per day for at least three days, for drinking and sanitation
* Food, at least a three-day supply of non-perishable food
* Battery-powered or hand crank radio and a NOAA Weather Radio with tone alert and extra batteries for both
* Flashlight and extra batteries
* First aid kit
* Whistle to signal for help
* Dust mask to help filter contaminated air and plastic sheeting and duct tape to shelter-in-place
* Moist towelettes, garbage bags and plastic ties for personal sanitation
* Wrench or pliers to turn off utilities
* Manual can opener for food
* Local maps
* Cell phone with chargers, inverter or solar charger
If you haven't read The Way We Fall, Megan Crewe is giving away some great prize packs that include signed hardcovers of her books. Check out her blog for more info on how to win.

And, while you're at her site, take a peek at the excerpt she has posted.

What is a survival must-have for you? List three things in the comments that you'd need in case of an emergency. (Flood, fire, zombie attack, etc.)

Monday, January 30, 2012

Ashes by Ilsa J. Bick: Giveaway

If you read my review of Ashes this morning, and are wondering where you can get a copy, wonder no longer. (If you haven't read my review, what are you waiting for?!)

I'm going to give away my audiobook of Ashes to one lucky winner. I just hope whoever wins it will love it as much as I did.

If you can't see the form because you're an RSS or email subscriber, go ahead and click through to visit this post and enter. Thanks!

Ashes by Ilsa J. Bick: Audio Review

By: Ilsa J. Bick

All Alex wanted to do was take a hike in the woods to say goodbye to her parents, and go out on her own terms. But, when a huge EMP blast sizzles through her brain, she's left fighting for her life. She meets up with Ellie, an incredibly stubborn 8-year-old girl whose grandfather died in the blast, Ellie's dog Mina, and a young soldier named Tom. Together they have to figure out how to survive with all the dead, changed, and horrible mobs that would like to see them dead.

Audio Review: I make a snap judgment on the narrator from the very first words. I was not immediately taken with the narrator, Katherine Kellgren. Her voice seemed too deliberate and labored over every single word. But as the book picked up, I was really pleased with the way that her voice and pacing matched the tension of the book. I became so enthralled with the reading, that I finally put the book on my ipod and finished the last 5 hours all in one sitting.

Book Review: Ashes is a toe-curling, hide your head under the covers, and suck you in kind of book. Just how I like them. It was a little bit zombie (though these people aren't really dead, are fast, and smart), but mostly a great survival story.

There is a little bit of belief that must be suspended in order to really enjoy the book. For instance, Alex is a survival expert, and remembers everything her father taught her but can barely remember him. Also, I'm not sure it's very scientifically sound that an EMP would cause teenagers to become cannibalistic psycho-killers. But, I was willing to overlook a few of those holes for the greater story.

I loved Alex. She's my kind of girl. After the EMP blast, she doesn't waste any time in taking in her surroundings (including discovering her superior sense of smell), and assessing the situation. She also doesn't leave Ellie behind. And believe me, that must have been a test of wills. Ellie was a brat. I probably would have left her. But, Alex saw Ellie for what she was, a scared girl who just lost her grandfather in a horrible accident that she didn't understand. At Tom's arrival to the story, I had just about reached the point where I thought there wasn't any more that Alex and Ellie could take.

Alex and Tom work together well as a team, and their relationship is a slow burn. But, there isn't anything like trying to fight to stay ahead of crazy cannibal kids to speed up a relationship. The Alex and Tom relationship is one of the absolute best that I've read lately. I don't know how else to say how much I loved it.

Then, there is a big plot break. It's almost like a second story emerges after a series of events (of which I won't reveal). I loved the second half just as much as the first, although they were very different. I know that there will be many people that will disagree with me, but I'm just not sure I could have taken all the tension that was in the beginning for much longer.

There are several points in the book where Alex has a lightbulb moment. The pieces begin to fall into place very rapidly. Because of the audio format, I found myself doing a lot of GET THERE FASTER!

The ending is a giant cliffhanger that honestly made my subconscious go into a tailspin. I ended up dreaming about the final scene in the book, in what I can only think was an attempt to bring some closure. The good news is, there will be a trilogy, with the next book out this Fall. (I wasn't able to find a release date).

My suggestion would be this. If you like this genre at all (think Forest of Hands and Teeth style scary), give this book a go. But, if you hate cliffhangers, hold off until the rest of the series is out. Younger teens should also be aware that Ilsa Bick does not shy away from some pretty gory descriptions. I expect that some of them can be skipped if you're just reading. But, it's almost impossible to escape in audio.

edit: I forgot to mention this before, but there is a very brief reference to Mormons. And I was really surprised at how accurate/fair it was. In the context of the story, it could have been handled in a very different way. But, I appreciate the fair reference.

Friday, January 27, 2012

Book Drive for Yara

Many/most bloggers by now have heard about Yara, but I wanted to add my voice to the group. Yara from Once Upon a Twilight, and one of the bloggers featured in this round of Blogger Confidential, lost her home to two devastating house fires.

Yara and I met at BEA last May when we stayed in the House of Madness Casa De Blogger. And, Yara probably doesn't know this, but I was really hesitant about meeting her. She does love Twilight after all. And Robert Pattinson. (Yes, I know, that's hugely judgmental of me to feel that way. I don't feel that way anymore). But, almost immediately after meeting her, I really felt a connection. Yara was one of the highlights of BEA for me. We had long chats at the kitchen table about blogging, books, and K-Middy. She was funny, extremely nice, and down to earth.

So, when I heard the news about her house, I was shocked. And immediately wanted to be involved in any effort to help her and her family.

If you'd like to help out, there are a few efforts coordinated by other bloggers to help out.

Book Drive: There is an effort by Mundie Moms (among others) to replace the books in Yara's library.

Donate: TwilightMoms.com has set up a donate button and an email address for those wishing to donate money for other necessary items.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Blogger Confidential: Blogger Envy

Have you ever been faced with an issue while reading or blogging and thought: I wonder what other bloggers think about this? No matter what genre or audience you blog for, we all face the same problems. Are you a publisher or author wondering what goes on in a blogger's (and by extension a reader's) head?

Blogger confidential is a series of 10 questions asked to 13 bloggers about the nitty gritty details of blogging. Everything from what prompts a blogger to pick up a book, to what happens when a book doesn't live up to its hype. This series was inspired by Wastepaper Prose's Author Insight series. Learn more about the Blogger Confidential series on its main page.

Do you ever have blogger envy? How do you handle it?

"Of course, who doesn’t? Just recently we were envious off all our fellow book bloggers who made it down to ALA. But you soon realize that you can’t do anything and you move on and add it to your list to try and do next year. But once you realize it’s about promoting books and the authors and it’s not about you as the blogger/reviewer then the envy goes away a bit." Pixie and Stacey from Page Turners Blog

"I envy the US bloggers who get sent all of these amazing ARC’s that I can’t get my hands on, mostly because they haven’t been released in the UK yet and the majority of US publishers will not send books out of the country for cost reasons which I totally understand. Thankfully, there are a lot of kind bloggers out there who will send you a book if they know you are desperate to read it (although getting my hands on Lola and the Boy Next Door is proving pretty difficult!) and I too have done this for bloggers - what I love about this community is its willingness to share with each other." Lynsey from Narratively Speaking

"All the time!!!! Our usual cure is befriending said blogger! We *heart* bloggers." Stacy, Shannan, Nancy, and Sarah from Girls in the Stacks

"Of course I have blogger envy. Anyone who says they have never been envious of another blogger's books, is lying. No offense. I handle it the same way you would handle any other type of envy. I look at what I have and I just be grateful for that. And if that doesn't work I pick up one of the books I have been dying to read and distract myself. Haha." Katie from Katie's Book Blog

"I can say I don't. I celebrate all the blogs out there in some shape or form. I think we all deserve a pat on the back for all our hard work." Yara from Once Upon a Twilight

"Hmmm... I don't know if I would call it blogger envy. Maybe blogger inspiration? If I see someone who has a very successful blog, it inspires me to try to make my blog better." Wallace from Unputdownables

"YES. All the time! I handle it like this- 1) Comment on the person's blog saying 'OMG SO JEALOUS!!!' 2) Forget about it an hour later and move on with my life, or contact my publicist to ask for a copy, lol. Most of the time, I just forget about it because I'm focusing on the books I received that week or the book I'm reading at that time or, you know, I'm off living my life! There's no point in holding on to the envy, which is something to remember when the envy doesn't involve In My Mailbox posts. For some reason, I was only thinking about that aspect. Just be happy with what you have and continue working hard on your blog to increase your followers, comments, or whatever." James from Book Chic

"Yes. Do I have it as much as others, I don’t think I do. I think it’s hard sometimes to not become jealous when you see many bloggers getting many ARCs(which I think most of the jealousy stems from) sent to them on a regular base including ones they haven’t themselves requested and bloggers being including in special blog tours. For me, I love ARCs and being able to read a book early, but at the same time, I don’t love the pressure of HAVING to read certain books by a certain date. If I really wanted ARCs more, I could request the titles I wanted, but I have yet to do that really. There are other ways of going about being able to read an advanced copy, ARC tours are one way of doing this. In my mind, I know I will eventually be able to read the title by either buying it or checking it out from the library." Jacinda and Jasmine from The Reading Housewives of Indiana

"Not really :)! I’m happy where I am as a blogger!" Jenn from Jenn's Bookshelves

"Sure. Doesn’t everybody? But generally I use “blogger envy” as motivation to keep working on my own site. It’s inspiration to work harder, try new things, reach out to new people, etc." Sara from Novel Novice

"Not really. Sometimes I am envious that another blogger has a book before me if it’s one that I’m really excited about. Then, I just remind myself that I will eventually be able to get a copy and I realize there is no reason to be envious. Otherwise, I don’t compare my blog to anyone else’s because we are all so unique." Melina from Reading Vacation

"Oh heck yes! I mean who doesn't? Sure it's stupid, I'll admit it, but I'm only human! I usually get blogger envy over books... and I handle it by reminding myself that I have plenty of books to read in my reading pile, and to stop whining!" Kristi from The Story Siren

"OH YES. As I’ve gotten older the severity of my blogger envy has lessened, but it’s certainly still there. I’ll go to a blog that has gained 3,000 followers in a few months and I can’t help but try to pick the blog apart. “They promote anything, even if it’s garbage,” and blah blah blah. The very nasty side of me comes out when my blogger envy rears its head.

I’ve gotten a lot better at handling it ever since I set my priorities for my blog. Is it my goal to have 3,000 followers? Do I want publishers to send me free iPads? Is that all I want? The simple answer is: no. I want a blog that attracts people that will help me grow as a blogger and a reader. I’m not going to promote everything and anything to gain followers because I only want to interact with people who like what I like. That’s what’s most important TO ME. If you’re happy with your blog, you won’t be envious. If you aren’t happy: fix it!" Enna from Squeaky Books

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Author Review Requests Closed

After much thought and discussion, I've decided to no longer accept review requests from authors. The only exception will be for authors that I've worked with in the past.

Why the change?

After 3 years of blogging and nurturing my small corner of the internet, I've figured out what works best for me and what doesn't. I love authors, and I enjoy interacting with them and certainly enjoy the hard work that they put into their books. But, I'm only one person. And my blog is a labor of love. I don't really know that hobby is the right word. It's so much more than that. But, I need to keep the passion alive that started it in the first place.

And, sometimes (not all the time, and this isn't directed at any specific person) there is a certain amount of pressure that goes along with working directly with the author when reviewing. Authors are so directly connected with their work that a critical review can be particularly painful when you've taken the time to mail out a copy to a reviewer, and they don't get the results they expect.

But, when dealing with a publicist or media rep, there is another degree of separation that takes some of the pressure off me, and off the author.

So, if you're looking for a review from me and you're an author, just have your publicity rep or editor or whomever get in touch with me, and I can respond to the pitch directly to them.

Thank you to all of you who make this blog what it is. Any questions? Go ahead and leave them in the comments, and we can have a discussion.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

The Way We Fall by Megan Crewe: Review

The Way We Fall
By: Megan Crewe

The assault by the virus on Kaelyn's neighborhood begins as an itch that you just can't satisfy. Then comes the coughing, the hysteria, and eventually death. And no one is safe, but as the population and Kaelyn soon learns, there isn't anywhere to run to either. Which results in chaos and havoc that threatens to destroy everything and everyone she knows.

This book greatly reminded me of Life as We Knew It by Susan Beth Pfeffer (review). Which, if you know me at all, is one of my all-time favorite books. There is something really compelling about being in the thick of a crisis and learning how to survive until either help arrives, or the storm calms. The Way We Fall definitely falls into that category, and even shares the same narrative style (diary format) with the aforementioned Life as We Knew It.

However, unlike Miranda, Kaelyn has a lot more warning, and information, about what is specifically going on. And, as far as she knows, this illness is strictly confined to her small island in Canada. But, that's not to take away from the very scary situation. Initially, it isn't known how the virus spreads or how to prevent it. Even with further research, the hospital is flooded with patients, and there isn't any reliable way to get information out to people.

Kaelyn is a great narrator. She isn't whiny, takes the situation into her own hands, and is a great protector of her family. And with the diary style narrative, you really get a sense of her feelings as some truly horrible things happen to her and her family. There is also a very satisfying romance that ensues.

But, what I loved about this story was that there were so many characters that just did the right thing. Of course, there were plenty that were out to save their own skin and just do whatever they had to survive. But, for every one of those, there was another that was willing to make huge sacrifices and fill a need.

Another fantastic perk is that, from what I can tell, the book is pretty scientifically sound. At least in the capacity that I didn't have to suspend any disbelief about how the virus spread, or how it affected people.

So, there you have it. A satisfying apocalypse book with a plague, romance, and likeable characters. If that isn't enough to get you to pick it up, I don't know what is.

Monday, January 23, 2012

Everneath by Brodi Ashton: Review

By: Brodi Ashton

Nikki has returned from the Underworld. Spending 100 years in a state of complete unfeeling and despair, she has returned to her family and friends for 6 months until she must return, this time forever. Nikki's time is running out, and she wants to use this time to reconnect with her boyfriend, family and friends (frankly, in that order). But, Cole, the conniving immortal that enticed her to Everneath in the first place, wants Nikki to return with him to rule the Underworld as his queen.

Everneath, as you guess from the description, is a Persephone/Hades retelling. Or is it an Orpheus and Eurydice retelling? Well, it's actually a pleasant mixture of both that makes the entire book very much it's own mythology. I have to admit; however, that though I liked a lot of the intersecting of myths, I was confused at times how the whole thing fit together. I was able to piece it together after rereading a few passages, and I think most of it cleared up for me by the end.

Then there is the Nikki/Jack/Cole love triangle. I'm going to go out on a limb here and say that I didn't see evidence of a love triangle. From the moment that Nikki returns from Everneath, she isn't interested in a relationship with Cole. In fact, she is willing to endure endless agony in the Tunnels to avoid spending another moment with Cole. So, in my mind, Cole was never a viable option for Nikki. In fact, their "relationship" reminds me a lot of the Evie/Reth stuff. Cole filled a role for Nikki that after her 100 years in the underworld, she realized that she didn't need. Like Evie, Nikki was suffering (though from different circumstances), and Cole seemed like the easy way out at the time. So, let's just say that I'm so glad that this book wasn't set BEFORE Nikki went to the Underworld, because I think that we wouldn't have gotten along nearly as well.

As far as Nikki and Jack went, I really liked the slow burn of their relationship. Then again, those tend to be my favorite. Nikki only has 6 months left, but she doesn't want to ruin those 6 months that she does have left by rushing into something. And I have to respect that. The only relationship that I took an issue with was the one that Nikki had with her father. I'm not sure how/why he moved on from Nikki's mysterious absence so quickly. I'm not sure if he bought the drug addict story or if he was just so disconnected because of his campaign that he really only cared about himself.

Put Everneath in the list of paranormal books that I am comfortable recommending. It safely passes my checklist of things that are missing from other paranormal romances. High school students that actually study. Check. A normal, decent best friend. Check. A likeable love interest. Check. For those who are concerned about content issues, I'd feel comfortable recommending this book to teens 12 or older.

Friday, January 20, 2012

Weekend Q&A

I'm opening up this post for questions and answers all weekend. Have a question about book blogging, reviews, stuff I like in books, stuff I don't like, how much I read? Or, ask me about my house, my cute baby (who I seriously need to post a pic of soon), or something else!

I'll answer in the comments through Monday.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Emily Recommends Amazon Store

I just want to quickly announce a new feature at Emily's Reading Room.

I've created an Amazon store that has all the books that I've reviewed on my blog that you can purchase while staying on my blog. You can get to this store by clicking the "Emily Recommends" tab at the top.

They are sorted by category, so you can find the genre you like and see what I recommend. every purchase you makes gives me a very small amount that I can use for the development of this site. (Shipping, book purchases for giveaways, etc.)

If you don't like Amazon or don't purchase from Amazon for whatever reason, that's fine. You don't have to ever buy from my site.

But, for those of you with an interest, it's there for you. I know that the formatting isn't the best right now, but I'm making some design changes in the coming weeks/months, so it won't be awkward for all that long.

Thanks to each and every one of you for your support.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Hallowed by Cynthia Hand: Review

By: Cynthia Hand

Series: Unearthly (review)

warning: spoilers ahead for Unearthly

Clara faced her purpose and the forest fire. However, she is struggling to reconcile the idea that it was Christian she was supposed to save not her boyfriend, Tucker. Since she defied her purpose, will she be punished? And with the revelation that Christian is indeed a part-angel as well, how are they connected? When Clara begins having new visions, she learns more about the war between the White Wings and the Black Wings, and that deciding her fate isn't going to be as easy as she thought.

Unearthly is hands down the best angel book I've read. I loved the romance with Tucker, and the fact that Clara made choices for herself. And I was so disappointed that it seemed like so much was undone in Hallowed. There was an emergence of a love triangle. Despite learning more about Christian, I really feel like I don't know him. He fits the role of the beautiful person that the MC is destined to be with. And really, I just thought that this series was better than that. And, about halfway in, I was ready to throw in the towel. Only my love for Unearthly saw me through, and I pushed on.

I pushed on through the strange evolution of Angela's character. I think I liked her better when I didn't know her as well. Wendy sadly fell pretty far in the shadows and wasn't mentioned nearly as much as I would have liked. Guess it's hard to have a friendship when you have two boys fighting for you. And Tucker's character regressed into the jealous, semi-possessive boyfriend.

Redemption did come for Hallowed. There were some pretty startling revelations. (I thought I had the plot pegged, but was surprised by a few things. This is a harder thing to do now that I've read a lot of books and can guess a lot of plot lines). And, I'll be darned if I didn't get a little misty at the very end.

Ultimately, I'm going to chalk this one up to suffering from a bit of middle-book syndrome. There was plenty of plot to fill out the story, but it was done a little at the expense of a few of the characters. However, the ending was much more satisfying than in Unearthly, with a little less of a cliffhanger.

Where the book really shone (kind of pun intended), was in the angel lore. There are heavy Christian themes in the book. It was actually really nice. I am a little tired of the books that portray religion as cultish or childish, and this was very well laid out. I didn't feel beat over the head with the religion, and liked that it was essential to the story.

Things do heat up a bit more in Hallowed. There are some references to sex, (including an encounter that gets both sets of parents pretty darn upset) but there isn't anything explicit.

amazon | goodreads | author twitter | author facebook | author blog

Monday, January 16, 2012

Daughter of Smoke and Bone by Laini Taylor: Review

Daughter of Smoke and Bone
By: Laini Taylor

Karou is a promising young art student who fills her sketchbooks with imaginative drawings of monsters, demons, and otherworldly things. Only they aren't from her imagination. Karou is the courier for Brimstone, a demon who collects teeth, and Karou's only family. When Karou meets Akiva, all the things she thought she knew about her past and her world are about to be torn apart.

Ah, Daughter of Smoke and Bone. I got my copy at BEA last year and was almost afraid to pick it up. When I finally did, I only got a chapter and a half in and put it down. The beginning of this novel is about the worst introduction I've ever read. I only say that because after I got past the first scene or two, what followed was an incredibly intricate story and world that was so unlike those first two chapters as to be unrecognizable.

The setting is unique for most of today's modern fantasy, as much of the story either takes place in Prague, or another realm completely different from our own. So, even the sort of mundane earthly setting has a unique flavor to it, being set in a European country that is full of mystery to a very ordinary American like myself. And I really think that the world building is what shines in Daughter of Smoke and Bone. Each species of demon and each setting is so carefully thought out, which makes it so much more engaging. I expect this book could have been much longer with its glorious descriptions, but as it is, there is just enough to make the entire book feel well-formed.

And, the love story. Karou and Akiva's first meeting isn't pleasant. But, they very quickly discover that there is some sort of connection between the two of them that is incredibly compelling. And mysterious. In fact, Akiva just might hold some of the secrets that Karou has been longing to know her whole life. But, when it comes down to it, does she really want to know?

This is a great book for older teens. There is a good deal of mature content, mostly sexual, and the general tone of the book is a little more mature. This is a good example of what I'd like to see with the New Adult genre. With that said, I'll definitely continue on with the series.

amazon | goodreads | author twitter

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Bargain Book Deals!


If you are looking for some great YA books, check out the widget above for some great deals at Amazon! All under $10.

Friday, January 13, 2012

Under the Never Sky by Veronica Rossi: Review

Under the Never Sky
By: Veronica Rossi

Aria has lived her entire life in a pod where her every need and action is regulated. To create a sense of unlimited space, dwellers are given devices called Smarteyes that allow them to explore virtually unlimited realms without danger. Conversely, Peregrine, or Perry, has grown up in the wild outside.

With the tribes being ravaged by Aether storms, Perry desires to challenge his brother for leadership and lead the tribe safely to more calmer skies. When Perry's and Aria’s worlds collide, they work together to discover the truth about those they love and to try to restore things to the way they were before.

The characters in this book were not there for me. Which, in Emily Reading Land, is not a good thing. Perry and Aria were as dry and flat as a wheat thin. Since the bulk of the story involves their story, it was doomed from the beginning for me.

So, what wasn't there for me with Aria? Well, I think we got off on the wrong foot. For the first few chapters I couldn't figure out what was going on. (What are these realms exactly? And what in the heck is Aether? Electricity? And savage boys?) Combine that with her pretty bad attitude, and I got a little bored. Her life is saved three times by Perry, and she just doesn't really seem to care. Except when she does, and then she REALLY cares about Perry. About 60 pages in I almost threw my hands up in frustration and said, "I get it! He's an outsider! We don't like outsiders." Perry's story was equally confusing in the beginning with a nephew that he loves, but he wants to kill his brother, and there is a girl that likes him, but he doesn't really like her. So, in summary, just a lot of plot stuff with not a lot of good glue to hold it together.

The story significantly improves with the addition of Roar. The conversation livens up a bit. (read: there actually is some) And, there was one particular scene that I really loved that involved a conversation between Perry and Roar. Roar basically tells Perry that he's got to fight his own battles or fall off his own roof. (Those who have read the book will know which scene I'm talking about). I started to really enjoy the book and where it was going.

But then we are back to just Aria and Perry, and things got boring again. And, for younger readers, this is also where we get into some questionable sexual content that you should be aware of. It's not explicit, but it's there all the same.

The plot and premise of Under the Never Sky was great. Secondary characters were interesting and frankly, better developed than their main counterparts. But, ultimately, it was not enough to hook me into continuing on with the rest of the series.

Want another take? Andye at Reading Teen loved this book! Check out her review.