Monthly Archives: April 2011

The Icebound Land (Ranger’s Apprentice #3) Review

I am slowly working my way through this new-to-me series and I totally loving it. I finally finished the third book and am on hold for the fourth-I am so happy that I am not the only one to recently discover these gems. If you have not read the first two books and you plan to, you may want to stop reading now. I would hate to spoil the story for you. If you are looking for information about The Icebound Land, carry on. I won’t spoil anything for you, I promise!

The Icebound Land by John Flanagan, 2005

The third book in this series picks up where The Burning Bridge left off. Will and Evanlyn have been kidnapped by the Skandians and will be sold as slaves if they survive the treacherous ocean crossing. Back in Araluen, a devastated Halt is forced to defy the king in order to keep his promise to rescue his young apprentice. Banished from the Rangers, he sets out to search for Will. He is soon joined by Horace, Will’s friend and an apprentice knight. It is not long before the travellers encounter trouble in the form of a black-clad knight who is the ruthless warlord of the frozen northern territories. As Halt and Horace plan their escape, Evanlyn works on freeing Will not only from the grueling life of slavery, but the deadly grip of a powerful drug used to control slaves.

These books just keep getting better and better. This installment of the series is told in chapters that alternate between Halt and Horace and Will and Evanlyn. My favorite chapters were the ones with Halt and Horace. With his wry humor and gruff exterior that covers a heart of gold, Halt has become my favorite character. The banter between Halt and Horace is entertaining and lightens the mood of the book, but does not compromise the seriousness of their situation. Horace is eager to please the Ranger, and learns some valuable lessons about strategy, patience, and honor from the older man. He is deeply affected by the cruelty of the dishonorable black knight and learns a great deal about chivalry from both Halt and the villainous warlord.

As for Will and Evanlyn, they too learn about human cruelty. However, they are also treated with kindness from a surprising source. Their chapters are suspenseful and heartbreaking as Evanlyn is required to take charge of their situation. I enjoyed watching her transformation as she sheds the last of her royal airs and becomes the strong friend that Will needs.

Fans of the series will not be disappointed and the ending guarantees that readers will want book 4, The Battle for Skandia. 

If you are like me and have to wait for the next book, what do you read? Try one of Cinda Williams Chima’s  fantasy series. Start with either the Warrior Heir or The Exiled Queen (those are the first titles in her two series). If you are looking for adventure you might enjoy Garth Nix’s Keys to the Kingdom series.

I personally will be finishing up Red Glove by Holly Black and then heading to the towering TBR pile…maybe The Vespertine by Saundra Mitchell? Decisions, decisions…

**UPDATE** After writing this review the other day, I did finish Red Glove (loved it!) and started The Vespertine, which I should finish today. Weekend reading? I am thinking a graphic novel marathon session!

Happy Reading!

˜Megan

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2011 Reading Challenges-Quarterly Update

Does anyone remember way-back-when in January when the new year was, well, new and I was full of optimism and determination so I joined a whole bunch of reading challenges? Well, I have been plugging away at my goals and according to Goodreads.com, I have read 70 out of 200 books, which makes me 6 books ahead of my goal. I thought that this would be a good time to take a closer look at my original goals and see if I need to make some adjustments. Here is my original post; it looks like I joined 5 challenges.

1. Audio Challenge: 200 hours

What was I thinking? 200 hours is child’s play! After only four months I have listened to 161. 5 hours worth of audiobooks. That’s a lot of driving and dog walking. If I keep up this pace I should be able to listen to over 640 hours worth of books this year. Of the 18 audiobooks I have listened to so far here are my top 5 favorites:
1. The Wake of the Lorelei Lee by L.A. Meyer, read by Katherine Kellgren
2. The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot, read by Cassandra Campbell
3. Saving Cee Cee Honeycutt by Beth Hoffman read by Jenna Lamia
4. A Red Herring Without Mustard by Alan Bradley read by Jayne Entwistle
5. Will Grayson, Will Grayson by John Green read by MacLeod Andrews and Nick Podehl

2. Graphic Novel Challenge: 10

The host of this challenge set 10 as the expert level. Well, I am an expert times two (almost). I have read 19 graphic novels so far this year. At this current pace I should be able to read almost 60 graphic novels this year. My favorites so far?

1. Dr. Horrible and Other Horrible Stories by Zack Whedon
2. The Bone series by Jeff Smith
3. Chi’s Sweet Home series by Konami Kanata
4. The Amulet by Kaza Kibuishi

5 Very Good Reasons to Punch a Dolphin in the Mouth (and other useful guides) by Michael Inman will surely be added to this list, but I haven’t finished it yet and I am a stickler for accurate record keeping…I also have the next Cirque du Freak manga at home waiting for me. I am looking forward to that one too.

3. Historical Fiction: 12 books

I don’t read a lot of historical fiction, but I am trying to change that. I committed to 1 historical fiction book a month and so far, I am right on track with this challenge. I have read 4 so far.  I have two new historical fiction books on my desk right now: Phantoms in the Snow by Kathleen Benner Duble and Threads and Flames by Esther Friesner. I should probably take at least one of them home. 

4. 2011 Debut Author Challenge: at least 27

Last year I read books by 27 debut authors, so I figured I would try to at least match that amount this year. So far I have read 6 2011 debut novels. At this rate, I will not make my goal. I need to step it up here and start reading some new authors! Of the six I have read, my favorites were Blood Red Road by Miora Young and Rival by Sara Bennett-Wealer. I am currently reading The Near Witch by Victoria Schwab (thanks NetGalley f0r the ARC and Carrie Ryan for the recommendation!)

5. Motivate Yourself to Read More on Goodreads.com: 200

I am ahead to the game! 70 books in fourth months-at this pace I should read 210 books in 2011 (keep in mind I count audiobooks as reading). Of these 70 here are my favorites:

1. Five Flavors of Dumb by Antony John
2. Red Glove by Holly Black
3. The Dark and Hollow Places by Carrie Ryan
4. Plague by Michael Grant
5. Anna and the French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins
6. Ship Breaker by Paolo Bacigalupi
7. City of Fallen Angels by Cassandra Clare
8. Heads You Lose by Lisa Lutz
9. The Icebound Land by John Flanagan
10. The Wake of the Lorelei Lee by L.A. Meyer

Ok, making an end of the year favorites list is going to be a nightmare (unless I only read terrible books from here on out, but that is not very likely to happen).

On an unrelated, but final note, I would like to thank everyone for reading this little blog. As of right now I am 94 views away from more views in the month of April than in all of 2010! This makes me happy. So, what do you think, 94 views in 3 days? Possible? I hope so.

Happy Reading!

˜Megan

Ship Breaker Review

This poor post has been sitting in drafts for almost a month now. I think it is time to set it free! This book has been in my library for almost a year now and I had a chance to read the YA debut by author Paolo Bacigalupi. Coworkers raved about Ship Breaker, it was a 2010 National Book Award Finalist, and the 2011 Printz Award winner. All the accolades are well deserved.

Ship Breaker by Paolo Bacigalupi, May 2010

Oil supplies have dried up, leaving oil rigs ship wrecked and useless, expect for the wires and materials they hold inside. Nailer is a small but wiry teen on a ship breaking light crew. His scavenging work is grueling and dangerous, but the alternatives are worse. The bleak reality of his life does not stop Nailer from dreaming of better things, namely the gorgeous clipper ships he watches gracefully navigating the ocean. After surviving an accident at work Nailer gets the nickname Lucky Boy. His luck holds strong when he discovers a shipwrecked clipper, ripe for the picking. When a beautiful girl is discovered to be the sole survivor aboard Nailer has a difficult decision to make: spare the girl and complicate his life, or strip the ship and end his days as a scavenger.

Bacigalupi has created a complex and terrifying world without fossil fuels. Hurricanes have destroyed low-lying areas such as New Orleans, leaving skyscrapers submerged underwater. Talk about distressinglyrealistic! In this grim future the new attitude is every person for themselves, causing almost all the characters to be unlikeable-no one is nice. Even the hero of the story is damaged and flawed and only reluctantly accepts the role of hero. The action in this book is non-stop, often breathtaking, always nerve-wracking, and the tension is palpable from start to finish. I could not put this book down and I am desperate for more. There will be a companion book, called Drowned Cities, that takes place in the same world as Ship Breakers, but the only character to make a reappearance will be Tool, the half-man. Look for the second book sometime this year. Sorry, I don’ t have a publication date yet, but I am watching for one!

This book should be a must-read for fans of the The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins, The Maze Runner by James Dashner, Birthmarked by Caragh O’Brien, and Uglies by Scott Westerfeld

After almost a year I finally saw a copy on the shelves (the holds list was so long at one point that I ordered more copies). I recommend snatching it up while you can!

Happy Reading!

˜Megan

Top Ten Tuesday: Mean Girls

Once again it is time for a Top Ten Tuesday list, hosted by The Broke and the Bookish. Today’s theme is one of my favorites-Mean Girls! I am not sure why have this little obsession with mean girls, but I do. My best guess is that as a teen I was neither a mean girl or a victim, so I just don’t get it. Reading about them is an easy way to learn more about this foreign creature. So, here it is folks, my favorite fictional mean girls:

1. Samantha Kingston from Before I Fall by Lauren Oliver

2. Anna and Regina from Some Girls Are by Courtney Summers (I included both because even though she reforms, Regina was totally a mean girl)

3. Bridget Duke in Here Lies Bridget by Paige Harbison

4. Gigi Lane from  Exile of Gigi Lane by Adrienne Marie Vrettos

5. Lexy Steele from Cinderella Society by Kay Cassidy

6. Diana from the Gone series by Michael Grant (I think she is my favorite mean girl. I have really enjoyed watching her character evolve throughout the series)

 7. Shannen More from She’s So Dead to Us by Kieran Scott

8. Elodie from Hex Hall by Rachel Hawkins (Elodie is the leader of the mean girl trio.)

9. Monica from You are So Undead to Me by Stacey Jay

10. Jane (and her friends) from Rosebush by Michele Jaffe.

 I am looking forward to seeing other lists. I am sure that the girls from Pretty Little Liars made the list somewhere.

Happy Reading!

˜Megan

Mondays with Megan: Clarity by Kim Harrington Review

Hi everyone! It’s Monday, and it is raining (again, or maybe I should say still) in Cleveland. I had a busy weekend with work and the Easter holiday, so I really didn’t get much reading done. I can’t remember if I already mentioned this, but I last week I finished Clarity by Kim Harrington, a very quick (read it in one day) paranormal mystery.  

 Clarity by Kim Harrington, March 2011.

Clare (Clarity) Fern lives in the tourist town of Cape Cod where she and her family make a living doing psychic readings. When a teenaged girl is murdered in her hotel room, Clare’s brother becomes the prime suspect. In order to clear her brother’s name, Clare will have to work with the ex-boyfriend who broke her heart and the new police chief’s son (a hottie of the tall, dark, and handsome variety with a mysterious past). The closer they get to solving the crime, the more dangerous things become for Clare.

This was a fun book to read. Despite being a little bothered by the fact that Clare at times doubted her brother’s innocence and the idea that Clare didn’t have friends because of her gift, but her brother did, I found this to be an enjoyable page-turner of a book. The mystery had plenty of twists and turns and kept me guessing up to the very end. This book has little bit of everything: a mystery with a paranormal touch, a dark and possibly dangerous love interest, a surprise twist at the end, and room for more! There is a planned sequel, called Perception, due out in 2012. I will definitely be watching for that one! This is an excellent debut offering from Ms. Harrington.

If you enjoyed books like The Body Finder by Kimberley Derting (I did!), the LilyDale series by Wendi Corsi Staub or the Touch series by Laurie Faria Stolarz, you won’t want to miss this one.

Come back tomorrow to see my Top Ten Mean Girls list!

Happy Reading!

˜Megan

Earth Day Craft at the Library

It appears that spring is refusing to come to Cleveland. Hmmph. Well today we brought spring to the library! In honor of Earth Day, Spring Break, and Just for the Heck of It, me and Stacey and a few crafty teens decoupaged clay pots and planted flowers. This project was super quick and easy and used materials that we already had on hand (except for the potting soil and seeds).

What you need:
1. Clay pots
2. Tissue paper
3. Modge Podge (or make your own with white glue and a little water)
4. Sponge brushes
5. Potting soil
6. Seeds or plants of your choice. We used sunflowers, daisies, cat nip, and basil

Pots+Glue+Tissue Paper=

  

 I recommend more than one layer of tissue paper. Depending on the amount of glue used (a little goes a long way), these will dry in about 30 minutes. We stuffed the bottom with bubble wrap, filled with soil and seeds, water and viola-Earth Day craft!

I am off tomorrow, but maybe I will have a review ready for Saturday.

Happy Reading!

˜Megan

On My Desk

Here’s what I found on my desk this week (4/13-4/20)

1. Kat, Incorrigible by Stephanie Burgis-this looks like a cute tween girl read. I had one of my best readers preview it for me. I hope to get a report tomorrow.

2. Blink and Caution by Tom Wynne-Jones-this is a crime thriller from the author of The Uninvited.

3. The Piper’s Son by Melina Marchetta-From the author of Jellicoe Road comes a story of grief, family issues, and music.

4. Kick by Walter Dean Myers and Ross Workman-What a cool concept! Bestselling author Myers teams up with a teen in his latest book about soccer.

5. Mad Love by Suzanne Selfors-With the help of Cupid, Alice, posing as her novelist mother who is currently in a mental hospital, writes a romance novel. Sounds cute to me.

6. Steel by Carrie Vaughn-This one has a pretty cover (sorry, no pictures today) and it sounds great: time travel, fencing, and pirates! Sign me up, please.

7. Okay For Now by Gary Schmidt is a companion book toThe Wednesday Wars. I haven’t read the first, but this second one sounds super. Audubon’s bird plates and Broadway? I’m intrigued.

8. Between Shades of Gray by Ruta Sepetys is a harrowing novel based on the author’s family experience. In 1941 Lina’s family is deported from Lithuania to Siberia by Soviet police.

9. Stay by Deb Caletti-Obsessive boyfriend, remote island, handsome brothers with secrets…I hope it’s as good as it sounds.

10. Emperor of Nihon-Ja by John Flanagan-the much-anticipated final installment of the awesome Ranger’s Apprentice series (I’ve heard there will be a book 11…). I am still working on book 3, but I love this series.

11. Eona: the Last Dragoneye by Alison Goodman-dragon lovers won’t want to miss this series. Start with the first book, Eon.

12. Arata, The Legend 1-5, by Yuu Watase-this new-to-RRPL manga series is about Arata, the successor to the matriarchal Hime Clan, must pose as a girl in order to maintain his birthright, and switches places with Hinohara, a boy in the modern world, when his life is threatened by power-hungry warriors (that’s what the catalog record say!).

Once again, lots of great titles! And I didn’t snatch up any of them this time! Shocking, I know, but I am too busy preparing my house for hosting Easter to hoard books. I say take advantage of it people! Get in here and get some new books.

Happy Reading!

˜Megan