Saturday, April 30, 2011

Saturday Musings

The past two weeks I've been on a blogging break. Blogging has been sort of hit or miss for me the past few months, but I've had a few of those weeks where so much was going on, one or two things had to be let go. I wasn't really planning on being away for so long, but in a way I'm glad that I was because it gave me some time to really think about why I enjoy blogging and talking about books.

We had such a crazy week at the library, the week before last, with spring break (which equals lots of people in the library and so much shelving, I can't even tell you how many carts were shelved throughout the week) and a ton of programming. Plus, I was feeling the pressure of the TBR stack. Does that ever happen to you? Do you ever get to the point where the amount of books you have to or want to read becomes overwhelming?

I needed some time to read without feeling the need to review. I miss those days sometimes. So I gave myself permission to do just that for a few days and then it turned into a few more days. I chose whatever I wanted to read, whether it was on the TBR stack or not, even if I had already read it and just read. I did end up writing a few reviews, which will start posting next week, starting with a review for Haven on Monday. And, if course I found even more books I wanted to read, because it's hard not to keep adding books to the TBR.

Some of the books I've been reading:

Clockwork Angel by Cassandra Clare - this was a reread. After reading City of Fallen Angels, I felt the need to read Clockwork Angel and spend some time with Tessa, Will and Jem. Just as good as the first read through.

The Ruby Oliver books by E. Lockhart - so much fun! Normally, I don't like books with footnotes, I think they remind me too much of research, but they really worked here. And Ruby is such a great character.

Taking Off by Jenny Moss - I WOWed Taking Off last September and I was happy to finally get to read it. A review will be coming next week.

Invincible Summer by Hannah Moskowitz - the first book by Hannah Moskowitz that I've read. It was an interesting read because it was so different than what I expected.

Red Glove by Holly Black - Love this book! Just wow! The wait for Black Heart is going to be very long.

The Near Witch by Victoria Schwab - my favorite book of this year, so far. It will most definitely make the top 5 for 2011. You need to read this book, I don't say that too often, but I'll repeat myself - You need to read this book! I'm part of a blog tour for this book in early August, so my review won't be posted until then.

Mercy by Rebecca Lim - it took me a awhile to get into Mercy, it didn't grab me right away. The concept was interesting enough to keep me reading, even though I figured out who the "bad guy" was about 50 pages before the main character.

Die for Me by Amy Plum - a love story set in Paris, Die for Me was fun to read. Even though the current cover is gorgeous, after reading the book, the old cover with the girl in the red boat makes much more sense. Look for a guest post from Amy Plum on May 11 with a review later that week.

I'm excited to be back in the swing of things and to be talking books with people who are just as or even more excited about them than I am.

**Also, I finally gave in and got a custom domain for the blog, so the new url is **

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Through Her Eyes - Winner!

This is a bit late but...

The winner of a signed ARC of Through Her Eyes is 

Jill of The O.W.L.

Congratulations Jill! Through Her Eyes will be making it's way to you soon :)

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Review - Through Her Eyes by Jennifer Archer

Through Her Eyes by Jennifer Archer
Publisher: HarperTeen
Publication Date: April 5, 2011

Through Her Eyes is a great mix of paranormal ghost story and contemporary novel.

Tansy and her family move around a lot. Her mother is a best-selling horror novelist, who likes to live in the location of her next book's setting. Small, secluded Cedar Canyon, Texas is the last place Tansy wants to be as she becomes the new girl for the umpteenth time and that was before she found out that her house might be haunted. Finding a pocket watch and journal that belonged to Henry, who once lived in the house, and a crystal only added to the oddness of the house.

Soon Tansy finds that she can't get Henry's poems out of her mind. As she immerses herself in his writing, Tansy begins to see Henry's black and white world through her camera's lens. The more time she spends there, the less she wants to be in the present and the danger that she'll lose touch completely gets greater.

Despite a slow start, Through Her Eyes was an easy book to get drawn into. The small town of Cedar Canyon had just enough of a secluded feel to be the perfect setting for a ghost story. And Tansy's house with its turret and slightly dilapidated interior seemed like it could be the home of a ghost.

Tansy was an easy character to relate to, especially her feelings of being an outsider and hesitancy to form connection for fear of getting hurt. The way she fought with her mother and the fierce love she had for her grandfather felt very realistic and really rounded out her character. Her reluctance to make friends in Cedar Canyon and the contempt of some of her new classmates isolated Tansy for awhile. And I was glad when she finally decided to let a few people in.

My favorite of Tansy's new friends was Bethyl Anne, with her Shakespearean quotes and astute observations about the people of Cedar Canyon. Despite being younger than the rest of the people in her grade and an outcast, she was more mature and gave Tansy great advice. I wish that Tansy had taken her advice much earlier. It was great to see their friendship grow and strengthen as the story progressed.

The time travel/paranormal element of the story was not like anything else that I have ever read. At first, I was worried that it would disrupt the flow of the story, but Ms. Archer wove it in such a way that it was easy to transition back and forth with Tansy. The story within the story was heartbreaking and I could see why Tansy wanted to spend her time there. But, I'm happy with how the book ended. Both stories were resolved in ways that brought them around full circle. Also, I'm glad that the ending didn't leave room for a sequel (at least not that I saw), because Through Her Eyes was perfect as a standalone.

I would recommend Through Her Eyes for readers who enjoy ghost stories with twists and stories that combine past and present settings.

***Make sure to check out my giveaway of a signed Through Her Eyes ARC ending April 17, 2011***

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Review: Angelfire by Courtney Allison Moulton

Publisher: Katherine Tegen Books (HarperCollins)
Publication Date: February 15, 2011
Source: NetGalley

After reading so many positive, glowing reviews for Angelfire, I had very high hopes for this book. I’m sad that it didn’t quite live up to them. Overall, Angelfire was an okay read for me. There were some things that I really liked and some that I didn’t.

On her seventeenth birthday, Ellie learns that she’s not just an ordinary teenage girl. She is the Preliator, a being that protects human souls from the reapers and is destined to be reincarnated every time her human body dies. Usually, she regains her memories of who she is, but this time her memories do not return and she has no idea why she’s suddenly good with a sword or who Will is. Will, her guardian through many of her reincarnations, must now train Ellie while trying to keep her alive.

Ellie was a pretty kickass heroine; she can fight with the best of them, plus she has not one, but two swords. I just wish that she didn’t also have to be a spoiled teenager. All the talk of high end fashion labels and cars felt jarring, especially the scene where Ellie and her friend Kate go shopping for dresses, it took me out of the story. I’m not sure if Ms. Moulton was trying to differentiate human Ellie with her otherworldly role, or show that she could be both, but I felt that it took away from Ellie’s character. I can appreciate that Ellie was trying to balance this new knowledge of what she supposedly was with the life she knew for seventeen years; it would have been

I also liked Ellie’s scenes with Will. Will was one of those characters who had a lot of layers - and the reader got to learn about him along with Ellie: being on the same learning curve as the main character is always a good thing. But, enough with the “I’m your guardian,” sentence/explanation starters. A few times would have been enough for the reader to understand that some things simply couldn’t be because Will was Ellie’s guardian. It was also nice that there was no love triangle - although some things that happen towards the end of the book point to the possibility of one in the sequel, there was one clear love interest in Angelfire and it worked really well.

Things that I didn’t care for included some of the fight scenes. You’re probably thinking: but wait there have to be fight scenes. Yes, they are a necessity; I personally felt that they were often too long. I lost track of what was going on. I’m all for action, it just seemed like too much as once.

The relationship, or lack thereof, Ellie had with her father was hard to read. He was an awful person and was horrible to Ellie. So horrible, that I hoped there would be some sort of payoff, but his actions fizzled out and didn’t come to anything (my prediction about him was way off the mark). Maybe there will be an explanation for his behavior in the sequel.

There were some things that I wanted more of. The first was Caden. Even though he only had two scenes, he jumped off the page. I can only hope that there will be more of him in Wings of the Wicked. Also more of the big, evil mastermind, please. The reader spent most of the book hearing about him, but then he’s only around for a few pages. Yes, he was definitely evil; I just wanted him to be more directly involved with the evil doing. Again, I hope he’s around for a longer time in book 2.

Speaking of the sequel, despite Angelfire not living up to my expectations, I will definitely be reading Wings of the Wicked. I would like to see how Ellie’s story continues and what’s in store for her next.

Waiting on Wednesday: The Space Between

The Space Between by Brenna Yovanoff
Publisher: Razorbill (Penguin)
Publication Date: November 15, 2011

Everything burns in Pandemonium 

Everything is made of steel, even the flowers. How can you love anything in a place like this? 

Daphne is the half-demon, half-fallen angel daughter of Lucifer and Lilith. Life for her is an endless expanse of time, until her brother Obie is kidnapped—and Daphne realizes she may be partially responsible. Determined to find him, Daphne travels from her home in Pandemonium to the vast streets of Earth, where everything is colder and more terrifying. With the help of the human boy she believes was the last person to see her brother alive, Daphne glimpses into his dreams, discovering clues to Obie’s whereabouts. As she delves deeper into her demonic powers, she must navigate the jealousies and alliances of the violent archangels who stand in her way. But she also discovers, unexpectedly, what it means to love and be human in a world where human is the hardest thing to be. 

This second novel by rising star Brenna Yovanoff is a story of identity, discovery, and a troubled love between two people struggling to find their place both in our world and theirs.

After reading The Replacement, I knew that I would want to read Ms. Yovanoff's next book. I have to admit that the summary gave me chills and left me with lots of questions. Plus, I love the cover - it's different in a good way that will make it standout. 

What are you waiting on this Wednesday?

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Review: The Revenant by Sonia Gensler

The Revenant by Sonia Gensler
Publisher: Alfred A. Knopf BYR
Publication Date: June 14, 2011

In a year that seems to be saturated with ghost stories, The Revenant stands out with its gothic, late nineteenth century setting and gutsy main character.

Learning that she must go back home to help her mother an stepfather, Willie assumes the identity of one of her classmates and accepts a teaching position at the Cherokee Female Seminary. Believing it to be a post teaching girls from traditional Cherokee families, Willie is surprised by what she finds in Oklahoma. The girls are much more refined and the Seminary better attended than she expected. Within a few days, Willie learns that a student, named Ella, drowned in the nearby river the year before and it turns out that she is living in Ella's room.

Soon, odd things begin to occur: odd tapping sounds at Willie's window late at night and the smell of river water in different areas of the school. It seems as though Ella's ghost wants the mystery surrounding her death to be solved. In the midst of teaching, romance, directing the school play, and trying to keep her true identity secret, Willie attempts to unravel the clues about Ella's death.

The setting was what really drew me to The Revenant. 1896 Oklahoma, Indian Territory, is not where you would expect a YA novel to be set, but it worked here. Ms. Gensler captures the mood, language, and style of the time so well, that it becomes almost like another character. And she doesn't skip over some of the important issues, like the racism between the students. The snobbery of those who were wealthy towards the girls with a more traditional background was just one of the issues Willie faced at the Seminary.

I'm normally not a fan of ghost stories, but this one was done so well; it had just enough creepy to keep the story moving along and interesting without getting too scary. Also, despite what was happening at the school, it seemed that the revenant wasn't a malevolent spirit, which made the creepy/scary parts easier to read. The mystery surrounding Ella's death and the search for her killer ended up being my favorite of the main storylines. The mystery touched all of the characters (from Ella’s friends to her teachers and Willie, who had never met her) and it was interesting to see how they were each affected.

Another piece that I really loved was the romance. It was difficult to read, in that way that even though you’re routing for the characters and want them to be together, you know actually getting to that point won’t be easy. It was nice to read a romance where the two people actually spend time getting to know each other. This is also where Willie’s age really shows itself, because she likes this boy, but doesn’t really know how to deal with the fact that 1) it seems that one of her students may be in a relationship with him, 2) she really likes him and 3) she can’t believe that he may just have feelings for her too! And as always, it doesn’t hurt that he’s swoon worthy.

With all that there is to love about The Revenant, the whole stolen identity portion didn’t interest me at all. At first it added tension: will Willie get caught or will she do or say something to rouse suspicion? But after awhile, I got tired of her having to hide who she was.

Overall, The Revenant is a terrific atmospheric read. I love the ghost story combined with the mystery. And the setting is one that I have not really encountered outside of non-fiction texts. I would love to read more books set in both this time period and place. I recommend The Revenant to those that like their ghost stories with a side of romance.

Monday, April 11, 2011

Something's Different...

You may have noticed that the blog looks different...

I've been wanting a new look for awhile and have been playing around with the template designer, but, I could never settle on a look. I put together and discarded dozens of designs, before I decided I needed help.

I knew I wanted to play off the the "Serpentine" in the name and include some green; it's my favorite color and serpentine is a greenish mineral. But, I had no idea how to execute it.

That's where Katie of KD Designs came in. I want to give her a huge THANK YOU for the beautiful new design :) She's very professional and patient! She listened to what I wanted and quickly came back with a rough draft and then made every change I asked for (there were quite a few). Her prices are super reasonable and she's saving up for her trip to if you're thinking about getting something done, you should check out her site.

She's also designing some blog business cards for me. I'm excited to have cards specifically for the blog. I can't wait to use them at BEA!

I'm still working on moving things around and getting things linked, so for the next few days things might look a little funky or be in different places or links might not work. Just bare with me, everything should be in place by the end of the week!

Friday, April 8, 2011

Guest Post: K. Ryer Breese Talks About Research

Today I'd like to welcome K. Ryer Breese to The Serpentine Library. He's here to talk about some of the research he did for his soon to be published debut novel, Future Imperfect.

I did a bit of research. To be honest, most of the book is actually based on my own high school experience. Not the divination bits (though I've met people who've claimed to have "seen" things, but Ade and Vauxhall's relationship and the feeling of being seventeen and wanting desperately to belong to something meaningful. Many of the locations in the book are (or were) real places in Denver, places that I hung out at in high school. 

The book began originally with the scene of Vauxhall singing to Ade. I saw it happen my junior year though it was reversed with a boy singing to a girl. Same song and in a lunchroom. It was exhilarating to watch. The whole lunchroom just came alive. 

The concussion aspect came from a college experience. I mashed my head against a wrought iron staircase accidently (long story, embarrassing) and stumbled back to my dorm room in this hallucinatory haze. It was night and I felt like I was walking through a filigree forest.  All the stars were only a few inches above my head. The air was electric. It was truly a weird feeling and it wasn't long before my friends noticed my behavior and called an ambulance. I was sick from it for at least a few days. I guess that's not really research but most of the book's paranormal aspects came directly from that night.

About the author
: K. Ryer Breese lives in Denver. He's worked as a clinical researcher, a short order chef, a film critic, a patient advocate, and a teacher. He does not, as far as he knows, have any superpowers but he has had three concussions.

About Future Imperfect:  Ade Patience can see the future and it's destroying his life. When the seventeen-year-old Mantlo High School student knocks himself unconscious, he can see days and decades into his own future. Ade's the best of Denver's "divination" underground and eager to join the heralded Mantlo Diviners, a group of similarly enabled teens. Yet, unlike the Diviners, Ade Patience doesn't see the future out of curiosity or good will; Ade gives himself concussions because he's addicted to the high, the Buzz, he gets when he breaks the laws of physics. And while there have been visions he's wanted to change, Ade knows the Rule: You can't change the future, no matter how hard you try.

His memory is failing, his grades are in a death spiral, and both Ade's best friend and his shrink are begging him to stop before he kills himself. Ade knows he needs to straighten-out. Luckily, the stunning Vauxhall Rodolfo has just transferred to Mantlo and, as Ade has seen her in a vision two years previously, they're going to fall in love. It's just the motivation Ade needs to kick his habit. Only things are a bit more complicated. Vauxhall has an addiction of her own, and, after a a vision in which he sees Vauxhall's close friend, Jimmy, drown while he looks on seemingly too wasted to move, Ade realizes that he must break the one rule he's been told he can't.

The pair must overcome their addictions and embrace their love for each other in order to do the impossible: change the future.

More information about Future Imperfect can be found at: Goodreads and K. Ryer Breese's website

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Waiting on Wednesday - Timeslip or is it Time Travel?

Waiting on Wednesday is hosted by Jill at Breaking the Spine

There seem to be a few time travel or time slip books coming out in 2011. Being able to travel into the past and view or change the course of events that have already happened could be a very interesting thing. Imagine being able to witness historical events as they occur. And of course who wouldn't want to go back and be able to change their mind about a decision they made which led to an unexpected outcome. 

In the following three books the main characters all get to time travel or slip through time: 

Hourglass by Myra McEntire
Publisher: Egmont USA
Publication Date: June 14, 2011

One hour to rewrite the past . . .

For seventeen-year-old Emerson Cole, life is about seeing what isn’t there: swooning Southern Belles; soldiers long forgotten; a haunting jazz trio that vanishes in an instant. Plagued by phantoms since her parents’ death, she just wants the apparitions to stop so she can be normal. She’s tried everything, but the visions keep coming back.

So when her well-meaning brother brings in a consultant from a secretive organization called the Hourglass, Emerson’s willing to try one last cure. But meeting Michael Weaver may not only change her future, it may change her past.

Who is this dark, mysterious, sympathetic guy, barely older than Emerson herself, who seems to believe every crazy word she says? Why does an electric charge seem to run through the room whenever he’s around? And why is he so insistent that he needs her help to prevent a death that never should have happened?

I'm not sure that it's possible to love a cover any more than I love this cover. I haven't even read Hourglass and this is my favorite cover of 2011 so far. Cover aside, Hourglass has been getting a lot of buzz in my twitter stream, on blogs and in real life too. Enough buzz that I want to read it now, like: can't wait would someone be willing to loan me a copy I will drop everything and read it as soon as I get it now! Plus, just based on the reviews I've read (and the fangirl and boy comments on Twitter), I included it in a presentation on YA trends I did last week.

Ruby Red by Kerstin Gier
Publisher: Henry Holt & co.
Publication Date: May 10, 2011

Gwyneth Shepherd's sophisticated, beautiful cousin Charlotte has been prepared her entire life for traveling through time. But unexpectedly, it is Gwyneth, who in the middle of class takes a sudden spin to a different era! Gwyneth must now unearth the mystery of why her mother would lie about her birth date to ward off suspicion about her ability, brush up on her history, and work with Gideon, the time traveler from a similarly gifted family that passes the gene through its male line, and whose presence becomes, in time, less insufferable and more essential. Together, Gwyneth and Gideon journey through time to discover who, in the 18th century and in contemporary London, they can trust.

Again, with the pretty cover! This one is even prettier in person - well the ARC cover, which is a little different, is gorgeous in person. I was lucky enough to get an ARC of Ruby Red and am excited to read it. Since it's not coming out until next month, I'll wait a little longer to read it. But, I have a feeling that this will be a must buy.

This next book has already been published, but since it's still on my TBR pile, I figure I'm still "waiting on" it.

Steel by Carrie Vaughn
Publisher: HarperTeen
Publication Date: March 1, 2011

Sixteen-year-old Jill has fought in dozens of fencing tournaments, but she has never held a sharpened blade. When she finds a corroded sword piece on a Caribbean beach, she is instantly intrigued and pockets it as her own personal treasure.

The broken tip holds secrets, though, and it transports Jill through time to the deck of a pirate ship. Stranded in the past and surrounded by strangers, she is forced to sign on as crew. But a pirate's life is bloody and brief, and as Jill learns about the dark magic that brought her there, she forms a desperate scheme to get home—one that risks everything in a duel to the death with a villainous pirate captain.

Time travel, swordplay, and romance combine in an original high-seas adventure from New York Times bestseller Carrie Vaughn.

So, romance, pirates, and time travel all mix together in Steel - that sounds like a terrific combination to me. Plus, Jill is a fencer which means that she knows how to handle a sword and can most likely hold her own against the pirates.

What fabulous reads are you eagerly waiting for?

Monday, April 4, 2011

Character Interview - Isabel from Through Her Eyes + A Giveaway

Today Isabel from Through Her Eyes by Jennifer Archer is joining us at The Serpentine Library.

Thanks for joining us today Isabel. When did you know that you liked Henry as more than a friend? 

Henry and I grew up together, and before I turned sixteen, he treated Daniel and me the same – like annoying younger siblings. That all changed one day soon after my last birthday. We were hiking to the bridge with Daniel and I caught Henry watching me. He smiled, and I blushed; I didn’t know why. Now, I think of him almost every second of every day, and dream of him at night. When we are apart, I’m desperate to be with him again! My heart flutters like the wings of a trapped bird whenever I see Henry crossing the field between our houses to meet me.   

What 5 words would you use to describe your relationship with Henry?
1.      Thrilling
2.      Confusing
3.      Frightening
4.      Romantic
5.      Doomed

How do you feel about being nicknamed “Bell?”  

I am flattered that a Henry gave me such a lovely nickname. There is a passage in a poem called The Rose of Battle by W.B. Yeats that reads:

You, too, have come where the dim tides are hurled
Upon the wharves of sorrow, and heard ring
The bell that calls us on; the sweet far thing.
I hope that during Henry’s darkest moments – when he stands “upon the wharves of sorrow” – I am the “sweet far thing” across the field that calls out to him, giving him hope that life can be brighter.

What’s one of your favorite memories from spending time with Henry and Daniel?

I love the carefree times when Henry and Daniel are not at odds. A favorite memory that always makes me smile is of a sunny day when Henry sat on a rock and played a lively tune on his violin. Daniel and I held hands and twirled to the music until we were both so dizzy we couldn’t stand up! 

Can you share with us something about Daniel that only one of his best friends would know?  

Even as a very young boy, Daniel could identify many types of birds simply by hearing their call.

At the Winter Dance, you sang along to “Jeepers Creepers,” what are some other songs or musicians you like listening to?

The Glenn Miller Orchestra is all the rage, and I’m especially fond of a snappy little tune they play called “Little Brown Jug.” I also adore Judy Garland’s new song “Over the Rainbow,” which is so lovely and sad. She sings it in the movie The Wizard of Oz, which premiered this year. (1939).

Daniel mentions that you are at the top of your class, what do you want to do after graduating high school? 

My intentions have always been to attend college and study to become a teacher. I think education is vitally important, and I would like to take part in helping young people achieve their dreams. However, because I live in the Texas Panhandle where almost constant drought and wind have created dust storms that have brought so much devastation since 1934, I have started to consider nursing as a career. A few people in Cedar Canyon, as well as many others in communities in Texas, Oklahoma, Kansas, and other places caught in the grip of the droughts, have suffered from a malady known as “dust pneumonia.” Their lungs have actually filled with dust, causing high fever, coughing, difficulty breathing, chest pain . . . even death. This happened to the baby sister of one of my classmates, and my heart broke when I heard of her suffering.  

Don't forget to enter Jennifer's GARGANTUAN GIVEAWAY (today, April 4, is the last day to enter!)

See the new Through Her Eyes book trailer:

Jennifer Archer’s website: 
(Links to her Facebook & Twitter pages found here)

Thanks to Teen {Book} Scene and Jennifer Archer, I have a signed ARC to giveaway!!
**This Giveaway is US only
**Winner will be chosen by a Random Number Generator
**You must be 13 years of age or older
**All information collected will be deleted after the giveaway is over

Fill out the form by Midnight EDT on APRIL 17, 2011


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