Book Review

13 to Life by Shannon Delany

13 to Life by Shannon Delany

Release Date: June 22, 2010
Publisher: St. Martin’s Griffin
Age Group: Young Adult
Pages: 308
Source: Publisher
Interest: Debut Author
Challenge: 2010 Debut Author Challenge
Buy the Book: Amazon|Barnes & Noble

Something strange is stalking the small town of Junction…

When junior Jess Gillmansen gets called out of class by Guidance, she can only presume it’s for one of two reasons. Either they’ve finally figured out who wrote the scathing anti-jock editorial in the school newspaper or they’re hosting yet another intervention for her about her mom. Although far from expecting it, she’s relieved to discover Guidance just wants her to show a new student around—but he comes with issues of his own including a police escort.

The newest member of Junction High, Pietr Rusakova has secrets to hide–secrets that will bring big trouble to the small town of Junction—secrets including dramatic changes he’s undergoing that will surely end his life early.

Summary from GoodReads

Werewolves. I love them.

Things that rocked about this novel…. writing. Descriptive elements where impressive. I’m sorta picky about descriptive elements…. sometimes it’s just way overdone. But Delaney had a nice balance.

Characterization. Characterization was excellent. I may not have liked some of the characters, but they were well developed and three dimensional. There is nothing worse than reading about a flat character.

Did I mention werewolves? The lore about these werewolves was intriguing…. but I felt like we were only given just a little tip of the iceberg. I am genuinely looking forward to hearing more about that aspect of the story. Hoping that we will learn more about it in book two.

Jess was an easy character to identify with. I immediately liked her, although that sorta changed once I got into the novel a little bit more. I mean I understand the need to be selfless…. but Jess takes it to the extreme and it comes across as annoying rather than admirable.

For example… and perhaps this might be a tad bit spoilery… if you want to skip over it.

So Jess likes Pietr… Pietr likes Jess. But! Jess’s best friend… if you want to call her that, likes Pietr too. So, Jess knowing that her friend likes Pietr, tells Piert to date her friend. Even though she knows that Pietr doesn’t like her friend and in fact likes Jess! Are you confused… ? Me too.

BUT! And here is the kicker. She tells him to date her friend because she doesn’t want her friend to be hurt….. yet Jess and Pietr sneak around and make-out whenever possible. Yeah, Jess…. somehow I think that is probably going to hurt your friend more.

Just lost the self-sacrificing act Jess and I would like you so much more!

There also aspect in the novel that seemed like they were just added in there for convenience… like Jess being a reporter for her school newspaper. It mentions that she is a reporter… that she is doing a research paper on these strange animal attacks… that we all know are the werewolves… and then that’s all that is said. It isn’t touched on again, it just seemed a little bit out of place. If Jess has this huge passion for journalism, I would have thought we would have seen more about it.

It felt like this novel was just a set-up to the rest of the series…. I understand that needs to happen at times, but I didn’t feel like I gained any resolution. Sure, it’s revealed that Pietr is, in fact, a werewolf…. but Jess is the only one that didn’t figure that out. The reader knew within the first couple pages. That being said, 13 to Life did intrigue me enough that I will be picking up book two, but I’m just hoping we get more of the story.



Backstage Blogging: Section 2, Part 2

It’s time for Backstage Blogging Section TWO!!

Section One of backstage blogging centered around blog utilization. I asked a group of thirty bloggers who had been blogging for less than six months “What do you hope to accomplish with your book blog beyond sharing your love of literature?” You can see their responses to that question: here & here. I also asked a group of thirty bloggers who have been blogging for over six months to several years “As the operator of a well-known blog, how do you put your star power to good use?” You can see their responses: here & here.

This next section is centered around voice! You can find last week’s post, here. Stay tuned for the next two weeks to here from more book bloggers!

(Special thanks to Susan from Wastepaper Prose who inspired and helped me develop this series!)

“Is the idea of finding your voice and creating a unique blogging identity intimidating?”

In some ways yes it is intimidating, and in other ways it isn’t. Sometimes I look at blogs and they seem so far away from anything I could ever hope for regarding my own blog. At the same time, I am so proud of how much I have accomplished in such a short amount of time. I think that as time goes on a bloggers natural blogging identity will emerge on its own. It’s not something that can be forced. For me, I have tried a few different features on my blog that just never fit. I soon realized that the best response from my readers comes from me just being myself and posting things I want to post. Nothing makes me happier than to get a nice comment and that is when I feel my true blogging identity taking shape. It’s okay to feel intimidated and it can allow us to push harder and find our own way, but I try to never let it get me down. Blogging is meant to be fun and finding your voice in this community can happen without a conscious effort. By staying true to who I am and presenting the information that is important to me, I hope my blogging identity will take shape on its own.

In a word yes the idea of finding my own voice and creating a unique blogging identity is intimidating. I think this is because there are so many great blogs out there and it seems (to a newbie) that everything has been done. There’s always someone who writes better reviews, gets awesome books before you or comes up with fantastic features I’d never manage to dream up. I went through a stage of being a little intimidated by those bloggers with an Literary background who critcise (or praise) writing style in detail. It made me feel a bit stupid as they were commenting on things that I would have never picked up on about use of language and writing perspective. I’ve tried to battle said blogging identity demons by looking at other people’s blogs and trying to find something that works for me without copying other people’s features shamelessly and by writing reviews based on what is important to me (enjoyment of a book rather than perfect prose). For now I’m just content with the fact that I’ve actually managed to get a blog going (I’m no techno wizard) and plan to try things out to see what works and what doesn’t in the hope to carve out my own little identity in the blogging universe.

The idea of finding my voice and creating a unique blogging identity is inimitating. There are so many great bloggers out there, that have been around for such a long time, that to make yourself stand out you must be well… unique. You have to try something different, review uniquely, and of course be yourself. I hope that I can too create and establish an unique blogger experience. And that I will be around for a long time as well.

-Savannah of Books with Bite

It is, and it isn’t. Read on for my reasons . . . 2 months into it, I admit that blogging still comes with a big challenge, which is finding some sort of defining and unique voice to go by. Especially since there are so many blogs out there, it’s difficult finding one particular path and just going with it. Are my posts going to be funny? Serious? Witty? What am I trying to achieve, what do I hope to convey to my readers when blogging?

However, I’ve just come to accept the fact that I can’t seem to come to that final decision just yet, or just pick one certain voice and identity to go by. I believe this is something that all new bloggers have to face, and while it is intimidating when looking at all the *MAJOR LEAGES* in the book blogging community, I’m hoping that a definitive and unique voice & identity will eventually just, develop. I know that all these things that come with blogging and WRITING take time, so I’ll just go with the flow and see where that leads me. :)

Yes. No. Something. Can I pick another question? ::looks around, scared:: Oh, fine.

There’s something to be said about finding your voice and creating it; placing it out there for people to read and critique and review on their own terms. It’s very much like the process of publishing we blog so much about. Whenever I look back on what my blog is for, and realize that I have to be a unique personality and completely unlike everyone else, I get a little intimidated. ‘Why,’ I ask myself ‘Can I compare myself to such good bloggers?’ I see such amazing blogs and writing done every day, and there’s always a part of me that will be intimidated, and even scared, of how I make and express my unique voice.

At the same time, it’s rather easy. I’m flamboyant and talkative and opinionated. My voice is pretty unique to begin with, and no one else can be me. I try to make myself different from the other bloggers in style, tone, and what I review, and it really isn’t that difficult.

Until I think about it again. Then I practically pee my pants from the ‘Holy crap’ factor. If this is what authors go through putting their books out there, I may have to rethink my priorities….

The idea of creating a whole unique, memorable “me” blogging identity is pretty intimidating, yes – there are so many bloggers out there, and thinking about standing out among all of that when there are so many established, well-loved blogs out there can be overwhelming. But I think in practice, it’s actually not as scary as it sounds. My “strategy,” if you can call it that, is just to be myself and not try too hard to force uniqueness.

-Becky from Bookworm Boulevard

Yes! There are so many wonderful book blogs out there. As I was creating my blog, I couldn’t help but wonder if there is really room for another one, and I’m constantly insecure about whether my reviews and posts are really adding anything new to the discussion.

It feels like it is incredibly difficult to do something “new” as a book blogger. There are a few things that I am trying to do to distinguish myself from the crowd: I usually skip over reviews for books that just don’t need any extra hype, focusing instead on smaller titles. I post poems and blurb/acknowledgment excerpts that I like, which I think are fairly unique features. When I have time, I’m planning to begin a weakly feature dealing with the history of children’s lit, the psychology of reading, and reviews of literary criticism books.

I don’t feel like I’ve truly carved out my niche yet, but my blog is a work in progress. I hope to develop a lot more unique content in the future.

Absolutely. There’s just so many great book review blogs out there, with those that focus primarily on young adult literature leading the pack in terms of numbers, that it’s hard to think there’s even a possibility of my blog bringing something new to the table when we are all reading the same books for the most part. With that in mind, I started the blog in the hopes that if I just posted well-written reviews people might enjoy reading them as much as I enjoy writing them.

I love the blogs where the blogger’s personality shows through, it makes me feel like I know them and their opinions tend to carry more weight with me. To bring my personality in, I do weekly cover critiques since I come from a graphic design background. The critiques give me a chance to infuse a little sarcasm into my writing and point out fun design details that some people may not have noticed. Now that I’ve been blogging for a couple months, I’m not quite as intimidated since I feel like I’m settling into my blog a little bit more, but in the beginning I had some stress thinking about what would make me different!

Yes, absolutely. When I first started blogging there was a bit of a (justified) brouhaha about plagiarism. I got really paranoid that I wouldn’t be able to make my reviews original enough and that I might get accused of copying other bloggers just by accident. Several months on, I still don’t read reviews of books that I know I want to write about until after I have at least drafted a review. However, now that I have been blogging for a while I am also happy that I write in a way that is completely specific to me and positive comments and emails have backed that up (phew!). As for a blogging identity, I think that for me that is very much a work in progress. I ran my first “event” week recently and felt for the first time that I was establishing my blog as something rather than just a review site. I’ve also had a lot of positivity towards non-review posts that I have written and suspect that posts such as those (which, after all, give you a chance to express more than just your thoughts on a book) are the key to creating a unique identity in the blogosphere.

It is very intimidating! There are a lot of great bloggers out there. You can look at certain blogs and see all their achievements: publishers who know them by first name, friendships with authors, a swag bag that is as big as the weekly garbage, and a follower list longer than Santa’s naughty or nice list. So it makes you wonder, why is my blog special? Why should anybody care about what we have to say? But it is through that envious mint-chocolate chip ice-cream eating stress phase that you have to sit down and say, none of it matters. Would I be blogging still if I didn’t know any authors, didn’t get any ARC’s, and had 5 followers? Yes. Our blog is just as much for us at it is the followers. And that’s how we found our blogging identity, because nobody does us better than us.

-Stacy and Jessica from Chapter Chicks

Remember back to when you were a tween? What advice did you hear over and over again? Well, for me, it is be yourself and do not give in to peer pressure. Since I am constantly being reminded to embrace my differences, I find it easy to do so on my blog. When you come to Reading Vacation, you will see posts that are clearly written by a middle-school girl who is on the nerdy side. Yep, that’s my voice.

-Melina of Reading Vacation

At first I did find the idea of finding my voice and blogging identity scary. I was thinking about what if people didn’t like my blog? What if they didn’t like my posts, opinions, etc.? What if they hate the way my blog looks? Eventually though, I just had to tell myself that I would never know if I didn’t try and I jumped right in. It took me multiple posts and reviews to start feeling comfortable with what I was writing and I had to go through a few different styled layouts to find one I was pleased with and made me proud of how my blog was presented. I’m still extremely nervous about what I write and the different things that I post because I’m such a new blogger and I tend to over think things. What keeps me going though is the response and support from my wonderful followers and that is always enough to remind me why I made my blog, to share a love of reading with the world.

-Monica of The Ramblings of a Book Addict

As soon as I started to design my blog, I knew exactly what I wanted and what the name was going to be. I had a clear vision for my blog from the very beginning and I wasn’t going to compromise on what I wanted. I feel as though I have quite a different rating system from any others I have seen and I’m proud of what I came up with. I can honestly say that I never thought about what other people would think of my blog once I eventually put it out there.

I completely love my blog and I wouldn’t have it any other way. I write what I want and when I want and nothing will ever change that. Although I write my reviews to share what I think with others, I also write them for myself and I always keep that in mind. It is always nice to receive feedback on the blog but I would never take it to heart if someone didn’t like it. Everyone has their own opinions and I think it is really important to remember that when starting your own blog. If you do what you love because you love it, I think your own voice and identity will come across clearly.

It is totally intimidating. I’ve found that, to be a blogger, you have to have a lot of confidence. You have to believe that there is a reason you’re blogging. You have to really believe that someone out there will benefit in a way from what you have to say. If you start thinking, “Who am I to be writing this? I’m not important,” you’re never going to get anywhere. You’ll start to get scared. In order to be a blogger you have to overcome that self-consciousness. Also, there’s worrying about whether or not your posts are unique, whether or not they’re funny… belief in yourself is something you need a lot of!

Actually, what we find most intimidating is finding something fresh to say every day! The three of us really have different styles and somewhat different tastes, so our website will have differing opinions and points of view. Our “voice” is really a harmony. But we think that is what makes us unique as far as our blogging identity goes. It’s funny when we disagree about a book or character (*coughteamjacob*) and we laugh and giggle like little kids when we’re together. We just enjoy reading books, writing reviews and truly feel blessed that we are doing something we love – hanging out together, chatting about books for podcasts and interviewing really cool authors. If we were in it for the money we might be more worried about this identity thingie!

-Shannan, Stacy and Nancy of Girls in the Stacks.com


The best BOYS are the FICTIONAL ones!

I don’t know about you…. but I think that the best boys are fictional ones. It seems that I can’t help but crush on a fictional character almost every time I read a book. (I know I’m not alone in this!) And I have to admit that a package I received in the mail a few weeks ago, only reaffirms my belief that, the best boys are the fictional ones!

A few weeks ago I received a package in the mail. A very interesting package……

Look how pretty! And oh! oh!! it says “An Invitation”

Inside was a beautiful Calla Lily! A Calla Lily is the same flower that is on the cover for Nightshade!
beautiful calla lily
beautiful calla lilies on Nightshade cover!

Tied on to the Calla Lily with a purple ribbon was a key….

That key was a USB stick that slid into my computer…. and up popped a video. In the video there was a boy who introduced himself as Shay…. and he said my NAME! Yes, he said “Hi Kristi!”

Um, how cool is that!

Shay went on to tell be a little bit about himself and this creepy new mansion that he is living in. You can follow Shay on his Facebook page and explore the mansion and its mysteries on Shay’s Web series, SHADOW DAYS.

Shays adventures in Shadow Days are going to become a written prequel to Nightshade! AND (yes, there’s more!) YOU can become a character in the story!!!!

Here is the first episode in SHADOW DAYS, there are five episodes up that you can check out too!

Giveaway: Blood Ransom by Sophie McKenzie

Win a copy of Blood Ransom by Sophie McKenzie!!

Clones Rachel and Theo now live thousands of miles apart. They keep in touch, but things just aren’t the same. When Rachel discovers that evil scientist Elijah is still working in secret for a section of the government and about to murder Daniel, she sets out to rescue the little boy, but her plans backfire with disastrous consequences. Across the Atlantic, Theo becomes suspicious when Rachel misses their weekly internet chat. He discovers a report online saying she’s killed herself and travels to Scotland to find her, certain that she has been kidnapped. A clue leads him to Elijah’s mysterious clinic, where the sinister Aphrodite Experiment is underway. But what is Elijah really planning? Why does he need to track Rachel down so badly? And will Rachel and Theo be able to pay the ultimate ransom that he demands?

You can also check out a short excerpt over at I Want to Read That!

Official Contest information:

  • to enter, please fill out the form below
  • entrants must be 13 years of age or older
  • contest deadline is October 12, 2010
  • contest open residents of the UK*
  • check out my Contest Policy/Privacy Policy

*Thanks to S&S UK for providing the prize!


Book Review

The Iron Daughter by Julie Kagawa

The Iron Daughter by Julie Kagawa

Release Date: August 1, 2010
Publisher: Harlequin Teen
Age Group: Young Adult
Pages: 368
Source: Publisher
Interest: Series
Other Titles in the Series: The Iron King
Challenge: None
Buy the Book: Amazon|Barnes & Noble

Half Summer faery princess, half human, Meghan has never fit in anywhere. Deserted by the Winter prince she thought loved her, she is prisoner to the Winter faery queen. As war looms between Summer and Winter, Meghan knows that the real danger comes from the Iron Fey, iron-bound faeries that only she and her absent prince have seen. But no one believes her. Worse, Meghan’s own fey powers have been cut off. She’s alone in Faery with only her wits for help. Trusting anyone would be foolish. Trusting a seeming traitor could be deadly. But even as she grows a backbone of iron, Meghan can’t help but hear the whispers of longing in her all-too-human heart.

Summary from GoodReads

I think I might have to move The Iron Daughter to the number one position over The Iron King. This series is one of those that just keeps getting better. I have big hopes for book number three!

The Iron Daughter leaves off right where the The Iron King stops. That being said… You might not want to read the rest of this review if you haven’t read book number one, because it might be a tad bit SPOILERY!

You’ve been warned.

I loved Meghan in the first novel…. but at the beginning of The Iron Daughter I seriously wanted to slap some sense into the girl. Where the heck was that girl at the end of the first book, the one that did what she had to do! The one that had grown more confident and wise! Because she was not there at first. I mean, come on Meghan, I know you are in love with Ash…. but all that stuff that he was telling you about guarding yourself because those fey in his court are viscous creatures and they will just use it against you. He wasn’t just telling you that to hear himself talk… I think old Meghan would have picked up on that. But no instead I got this weenie whiney Meghan.

Thank goodness someone hit her over the head and I got old Meghan back!

One of my favorite characters in this novel, was one that I didn’t like very much the first time around. And I’m not really going to say much more about that….. don’t want to ruin the surprise! I was totally NOT expecting that. Of course Grim was back and he was as charming as ever.

I loved watching Meghan and Ash’s relationship develop in this one…. despite the fact that they simply can not be together, I mean summer and winter just do not mix. It’s fun to see how they try to work above that. Will they end up together against all odds!?!?! Like I’m going to tell you.

I should have known that the leading novel would not be the last we saw of the Iron Fey… I totally didn’t predict any of what actually happened. It was much better than what I was anticipating. Although…. my idea of a Meghan and Ash running away together and living happily ever after was just as good!

But back to the actual book. The plot was action packed… people er fey dropping like flies… dragons, battles, betrayals… you are in for a ride my fellow reader. I picked it up and just could not put it down.

I cannot wait for book three! This series is so good.

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