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Book Review: The Girl in the Clockwork Collar by Kady Cross

Wildcat turned her attention to Finley. “I know you. You’re the one that was here with the Irish witch.”

“She would prefer to be called a scientist” came Finley’s drawled reply. “I’ll give her your regards.”

The dark girl turned back to Jasper. “She’s almost as much a smart-arse as you. She all you brought?”
“I got a driver, but he’d rather see me dead that do me a favor.” Then he grinned. ‘But if you know my friend, you know she’s enough.”

The girl nodded, grime-streaked face serious. “All right, then. You know what has to be done.” And then she stepped across the threshold,  a baseball bat in her hands. Its wood was smooth and stained brown with old blood. A dozen other girls and fellas followed after her- some armed, some not.

“Jasper?” Finley asked warily. “What the devil’s going on?”

He turned to her with what he hoped was a suitably apologetic expression. “When I left the piece with Wildcat, she told me if I ever came back she’d ‘beat the snot out of me.'” Technically, he hadn’t left he part with Cat. It had gotten left behind when she kicked him out. He was simply relived she still had it.
Finley’s eyes widened. “Are you telling me we have to fight? All of them?” she gestured at the gang standing in the street behind Wildcat.

Jasper nodded. “That’s exactly what I’m saying.”

Jasper Renn, taken back to America from the Greythorne estate supposedly to answer for a murder in San Francisco, has disappeared into the hands of his former friend, Reno Dalton.  Held against his will, Dalton wants to Jasper to piece back together a machine they stole together- a wondrously evil machine that can change a man’s fortune, or a thief’s life- and Jasper’s former love Mei is being used against him to make him cooperate.  One false move from either of them, and the clockwork collar around her neck tightens.  And tightens.  Griffen, Finley, Sam, and Emily are in New York trying to help from the outside (and inside as well) but can they figure out what the machine is, and what they can do to help Jasper and Mei, and stop Dalton, before time is up?
The second installment in Kady Cross’ Steampunk Chronicles finds the reader transported from 1897 London to New York, where evil is lurking in former friends, and betrayal is in surprising places.  Moving faster than The Girl in the Steel Corset (mainly because the author assumes you know about the world by now), Griffen and his “special branch” move into the Waldorf Astoria and infiltrate New York society (both high and low) in order to find Jasper, and thwart Dalton and his master plan.   The team still doesn’t quite trust each other yet, and the triangles in the first book carry over into the second, adding tension.  Growing abilities, and the work of Dr. Telsa and his machinery add to the danger as well.  Readers interested in ties to New York in the late 1800’s could read The Luxe series, while steampunkers would definitely feel a tie for the Leviathan and Airborn series with the emergence of Tesla in this book.  3.5 stars out of 5.  Goodreads has Girl in the Clockwork Collar rated at 4.08 stars as of February 10, 2013.
I enjoyed Clockwork Collar a little more and a little less that Steel Corset for different reasons.  I wanted more character building of the original characters, and Clockwork Collar  is more Jasper’s story- even though we get more of Finley and Griffin’s relationship and their bumps about trusting each other, it’s all about Jasper’s back story.  For a character who will not be continuing on, I wish that the focus was somewhere other than Mei- and I know what was going on with her about a third of the way through the book, so to be proven right made a difference I think.  I loved Finely’s and Emily’s relationship, and the more hints and reveals about Emily’s past, that made me love the book more.  I like that both Finley and Emily can take care of themselves, and that is made abundantly clear throughout the book- in fact, there is no shortage of female characters throughout this series that can take care of themselves.  
I didn’t like that Griffin made excuses for how he treated both Finley and Emily (there’s a passage in the book when Finley confronts him where he silently justifies to himself that that’s the way he was brought up)- hopefully he’s broken of that train of thought quite quickly.  I also didn’t like that the author didn’t quite explain what was going on with Griffin’s abilities, or Telsa’s inventions, or the malformations in the Aether, but I can hope that there will be more books to come that will assuage my curiosities.  I’m itchy when there are unresolved plot points in a book.

True Confessions of a Reluctant Reader: a guest post by author Aimee Carter

As a part of Harlequinn Teen week earlier this year, author Aimee Carter wrote a guest post about being a reluctant reader.  Today we are re-running that post for Reluctant Reader week because it is full of insight.  This post originally appeared on February 11, 2013


 
 Aimee Carter is the author of the Goddess Test series.  You can visit her official website here.


 I have a confession to make. I’m a reluctant reader. 
 
When I was a kid, my dad paid me to read. We made a deal: for every book I read on my own, he gave me a quarter. To a six-year-old, that was a pretty big deal, and I saved them all up to buy toys (instead of books, like my dad had hoped). But no matter how many quarters I collected, I still didn’t catch the bug for reading. My dad, who’s an avid reader and writer, was convinced something wasn’t right. I was his kid, after all. There had to be a story out there that would unlock my genetic predisposition to read everything in sight. 

It wasn’t that I didn’t know how to read. I liked some books, especially ones about mythology and Disney characters. But on our weekly trips to the bookstore, I always sought out those same stories, and I never gave others more than a passing glance.


My dad tried everything to get me to read more. The quarter reward went up to a dollar. I was allowed to check out as many books as I wanted from the library. He sought out sequels to the stories I enjoyed, as well as other books by those authors. I reluctantly gave each one a few pages. Sometimes he managed to unearth a gem I wound up adding to my limited collection, but most of the books he found just didn’t match my style. Problem was, there didn’t seem to be many out there that did. 

I wish I could say I overcame my reluctance and dove into books like an all-you-can-read buffet. I did, in a way—I eventually reached the point where I was constantly reading, but it was always those same books. When I found a story I loved, I read it over and over until the pages fell out and I had to buy new copies. My reading tastes were much like my childish palate: I liked very specific things, and I was reluctant to try anything new. When I did, I usually made a face and quickly moved on to something familiar. 

In my teens, I discovered Harry Potter. For three years before Order of the Phoenix came out, I rotated through the first four books. As soon as I ended Goblet of Fire, I started back on Sorcerer’s Stone, and they were all I read. Not because of an obsessive personality, but because I had outgrown the books I read as a kid, and I couldn’t find anything else I enjoyed. I was too picky, but I also loved immersing myself in a world and following characters I loved. Finding that in another book was next to impossible, and while I loved to read, after a while I gave up trying to find something new. 

And then I discovered fan fiction – the art of writing stories in another author’s universe. The Harry Potter fan fiction community was thriving, and I devoured hundreds, if not thousands of stories set in Harry Potter’s world. When I couldn’t find the kind of fanfic I wanted to read, I began to write my own. A few hundred words at first, but eventually I was writing thousands of words a day. Somehow, through some strange alchemy, I turned into the reader and writer my dad had always wanted me to be. 

To this day, I still have a hard time finding something new to read. I browse bookstores often, always picking out a book that looks interesting in hopes that this will be the one that makes me want to read everything in sight. But no matter how many books I buy, I still have a hard time finding something I finish. Not because the books aren’t any good – I usually pick them up after my friends rave about them – but because of that same reluctance that stopped me when I was a kid. No matter how much time passes, I can’t shake it. 

Instead, I write the books I want to read. I never reread them once they’re published, but the act of writing them lets me experience a world I crave, and it satisfies my need to find something new that I love. It isn’t a perfect system, but it keeps me busy, and I hold out hope that maybe one of my stories will help a reluctant reader discover the kind of books he or she loves.Either way, my dad was right: there is a story out there for everyone. Sometimes we find it right away, along with hundreds or thousands more like it. But sometimes it takes a bit of searching, and that’s okay, too.

The Goddess Inheritance will be released by Harlequin Teen on February 26, 2013.  Aimee will have a new series, The Blackcoat Rebellion, coming from Harlequin Teen in November of 2013.

This is Aimee’s bio, stolen right off of her web page:  I attended the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor and received a degree in Screen Arts and Cultures (a fancy way of saying I was forced to watch a lot of old movies) with a subconcentration in Screenwriting. I write. I watch a lot of new movies. Read a lot of books. Tweet too much. Love dogs and have two spoiled Papillons.

Take 5: Under the radar with Harlequin Teen

As you can see by their 2013 catalog list, Harlequin Teen has a lot of great titles coming out this year.  And though we tried to cover them all, we simply couldn’t.  So here is a look at 5 Harlequin Teen titles that you don’t want to let fly under your radar.

Indigo Awakening (The Hunted, book 1) by Jordan Dane
There are legends of what are called Indigo children, children with special talents and abilities.  There is a church that wants to hunt down all of these Indigo children and wipe them out, their psychic abilities are an abberation.  Indigo Awakening is an intensely thrilling look at life on the run for these teens who are trying to understand the secret powers that reside in them.  A good companion read to Shatter Me by Tahereh Mafi or Nobody by Jennifer Lynne Barnes.


Temptation (Temptation series) by Karen Ann Hopkins
Rose falls hopelessly, madly in love with Noah and it seems like it should be true love forever.  There is one thing that stands in their way: he is Amish and she is not.

Ink (The Paper Gods books 1) by Amanda Sun
Katie never wanted to move to Japan, but when she sees the images move on the drawings of a boy named Tomo, the both begin to realize things about themselves that make them targets.  Katie may not make it out of Japan alive.

Indelible (The Twixt book 1) by Dawn Metcalf
Somewhere between the world of myth and reality lies the Twixt . . . Accidentally marked by Ink, Joy must pretend to be his chosen one.

Countdown by Michelle Rowen
A street thief and a convicted murderer must work together against the clock to beat a deadly reality game. Countdown is a reworking of a previous novel, you can read more about it here.

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Do Kick Butt Heroines Really Need to Kick Butt? A guest post by author Dawn Metcalf

Strong female protagonists: we love them, we admire them, and we want more of them! Give us more Buffys and Xenas, more Katsas and Katnisses, more Trises and Tallys, and more like our beloved Keladrys of Mindelan. We want our girls to be active, fighting for their lives and the lives of their friends, to be leaders, just and savvy, cool and smart, taking down governments and taking names! And while I am as much of a fan of these stories as the next rabid bookavore, I begin to worry—as a reader and a writer—whether “sharp, pointy stick” has become shorthand for “strong.”
            While there are many strengths in the world, the flashy ones like sword fighting, magic and kung fu action get all the press. Don’t get me wrong—most of my favorite stories (and favorite pastimes) feature that kind of strength, but when characters like Tally Youngblood and Beatrice “Tris” Prior begin to depend on their mental strengths alongside their physical ones, that’s when things get interesting! Subtly strong characters like Cammie Morgan and Frankie Landau-Banks use brains over brawn to subvert the Old Boy networks, and while Katniss Everdeen and Lena Duchannes both wield serious power, it is their love for others that makes them true heroines, showing us how strong they really are.
            Me, I love strong female protagonists! That’s why I wrote INDELIBLE.
Indelible, The Twixt book 1 by Dawn Metcalf
Coming in September 2013 from Harlequin Teen

Joy Malone is strong. An Olympic hopeful in Level 9 gymnastics, she left that world after her mother left the family and hasn’t been training in over a year. Friends, career, clear purpose and happy family: gone. Now Joy cares most about her best friend, Monica, her older brother, Stef, and her depressed father—votes are still out about how she feels about Mom—and is struggling to make this year better than the last while also trying to keep some things safely the same. So when Joy is accidentally pulled into a magical world of monsters and intrigue, immortal honor and revenge, she doesn’t let it take over her life, she meets it head-on, willing to risk anything to keep her family and friends safe. She may not have a pointy stick, but she has her wits, her resourcefulness, and her heart—along with a(n un)healthy dose of wariness and cynicism, deeply afraid of making mistakes.

And this is why Joy makes a lot of mistakes.
Yet making mistakes is where strength is truly tested.
Joy makes mistakes. Indelible Ink makes mistakes. Invisible Inq and Kurt and Graus Claude make mistakes. In fact, everyone in INDELIBLE makes some sort of mistake and Joy is the one I’m most proud of because she admits when she’s screwed up, she speaks up, and that’s one of the strongest things that anyone can do. There’s strength in that vulnerability when you admit that you were wrong, that you don’t know the right answer, and that you don’t know what to do. She’s scared sometimes and wrong sometimes and suspicious and angry and cruel sometimes—all those not-so-heroic things that real heroes feel—and she deals with it. And, sometimes, she even asks for help. That’s what makes Joy stronger when everyone else is throwing around magic and knucklebones and straight razor blades. She trusts herself enough to get over herself, learning to trust others because sometimes, being strong isn’t what’s best. Leaning on friends isn’t a weakness. Admitting fears isn’t a crime. And when she’s held answerable for her actions, she accepts it and does something about it. INDELIBLE is written for strong girls who might not know how strong they really are.
And that’s a strength I admire, no pointy sticks necessary.
INDELIBLE by Dawn Metcalf is due out by Harlequin Teen July 30, 2013.

Once Upon A Time…
…there was a headstrong fairy princess and a frog with an axe. But that’s another story.
My name is Dawn Metcalf and I write dark, quirky, and sometimes humorous speculative fiction. My debut novel, LUMINOUS, is a YA paranormal fantasy by Dutton Books and my next novel, INDELIBLE, is due out summer of 2013 by Harlequin Teen.

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Book Review: The Goddess Inheritance by Aimee Carter

I struggled to take a breath. She wasn’t listening. She didn’t understand- or maybe she did, and she just didn’t care. “What about my son? He’s Henry’s too, you know. And he’s your grandson. His name’s Milo, and he’s not even a week old. Why does he deserve to be raised by Cronus?”

Rhea said nothing, and I couldn’t stop the flow of words that poured from me now.

“He’ll never know me. He’ll never know his father. He’ll grow up calling the bitch who kidnapped me his mother, the egomaniac who’s killed millions of people his father, and he’ll never know that I’m out here loving him ore in a moment that they could in an eternity. What could he have possibly done to deserve that?”

“Nothing,” said Rhea softly. “Your son has done nothing to deserve it, as the people of this village have done nothing to deserve brutality and starvation.”

Then help him like you’re helping these people,” I pleaded. “Please, I’ll do whatever you want me to do-“
“I want you to leave me in peace,” she said.

“Okay.” I took a shaky breath, and the world spun around me. She wasn’t going to help the council with the war. If she wouldn’t do it for the billions of helpless people in the world, then nothing I could possibly say or do would change her mind. “I’ll go away, I promise. Just-please. Help Henry. At least vie my son a chance to know his father.”

Once again, Rhea was quiet. Her eyes grew distant the same way Cronus’s had in the nursery, and her hands stilled mid-pick. I glanced at James. Was that our cue to go? He shrugged, and together we waited.

“Very well,” she said at last, breaking the silence. “It is done.”

“What’s done?” I said, giving James another bewildered look, but his brow knitted in confusion as well. “Rhea, please-what’s done?”

“Give your mother my love,” she said, touching my shoulder. The pain in my arm from the dagger vanished. “You are strong, Kate. Stronger than you know. You do not need me to have what yo most desire. As long as you resist my husband, you will have it.””It isn’t about what I want,” I said, seconds from bursting. How could she heal me but not help save the people who really needed her? “he’s going to kill everyone, this village included.”

She didn’t respond. Instead she picked a few more blossoms and turned to reenter the clinic. I started to go after her, and James grabbed my wrist with an iron grip.

“Don’t,” he said. Before I could protest, another voice whispered through the garden, hoarse and cracking. But real. So, so real.

“Kate?”

My heart hammered, and I spun around, yanking my hand from James’s. Nestled between a gnarled tree and a patch of ferns stood Henry.

The Review:
In the final book of the Goddess Test triology, Kate is yet again faced with tests, but this time may be the breaking point.  Forced to abandon their son to Calliope and Cronus, Kate and Henry are planning for battle with the rest of the council.  Yet Kate has a secret- she has promised Cronus that she would become his queen if he would spare Milo and humanity, while destroying Henry and the rest of her new family. Yet Henry and the rest of the council are firm that they can defeat Cronus, even after he proves that he can destroy millions of lives within minutes.  How can she choose: the end of her family, or the end of the world?

The Goddess Inheritance twists and turns poor Kate in all different directions, testing her in ways that readers couldn’t possibly imagine.  Her baby taken from her right after giving birth and being raised by Calliope and Henry on the brink of death, Kate does the unthinkable and promises herself to Cronus in order to save them both and give the council time.  Yet nothing goes according to plan, and everything seems to be standing in her way.  Plots and traitors twist, what was once clear seems murky, and what she thought she knew about people is not at all what really happened.  There are tons of character development within the rest of the council throughout the book, and readers get to see sides of James, Ava and the others that reflect them in many different pools of light.  Twists at the end will break series readers hearts.  3 out of 5 stars. 

The Goddess Inheritance will be released on February 26, 2013 according to Barnes and Noble.  To keep track of it’s rating on Goodreads, click here.



I really wanted to love this book- I loved the cliffhanger at the end of Goddess Interrupted, and was primed to fall into this one.  The prologue was perfect, and the first part was wonderful.  And then, I realized that I’m missing Kate. Kate in The Goddess Test was not only compassionate and empathetic, but she was smart, and tough, and was going to do things no matter what.  It took almost the entire book of The Goddess Inheritance to get that Kate back, and I realized while reading that I miss that Kate.  Yes, she has to make an impossible choice (and yes, that’s a huge theme in the Greek mythos): her son and humanity, or Henry and her family. And yes, she’s just had Milo and Henry is in a death-coma, but I’m thinking that would make you fight more, not just weep.  I (my personal feelings, not professional reviewer feelings) wanted her to get her act together sooner.

I really enjoyed the development of Ava and James in this book, and the death of one of the main characters at the end is heart-wrenching.  It does leave open the option for more within the series (spin-offs maybe), so that’s something to be considered.  Definitely a worthwhile read.

Also something to think about is whether or not this would fit within the older YA/New Adult boundaries.  A lot of the questions/themes within this book are what would sacrifice for your child/husband/family, and that seems to fall more in an older teen viewpoint than most YA books you encounter.

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Book Review: The Girl in the Steel Corset by Kady Cross

“What have I done? she whispered.
What you had to do.
She felt his neck for a pulse, relief engulfing her as she found it. She hadn’t killed him.  At least she wouldn’t hang. But she had still attacked the son of a peer of the realm and there would be consequences.
Three jobs in three months and they’d all ended with an experience like this one, although this was be far the worse  She’d been let go from each position because of her behavior, something that had released this thing inside her. Urges to act in a way that was far from civilized, far beyond what she as a young woman should be capable of.
They’d bring the law down on her from this. They’d lock her up. Or worse, use her for scientific experiments in New Bethlehem Asylum- Bedlam. And they would experiment on her once they realized she was abnormal.
Run, the voice inside her whispered. Run away.
Listening to the voice had gotten her into this mess, perhaps it would get her out. There was no way Lord Felix wouldn’t exact retribution upon her for harming him-either by finishing what he’d started or by bringing the authorities down upon her. There was no way she was going to let him do what he wanted to her. No way she’d risk having her brain dissected for giving him less that what he really deserved.
So Finley listened to the voice and ran.

After the young lord of the manor tries to take definitely unwanted advantages  Finley Jayne runs out into the dark 1897 London night, straight into the velocycle path of Griffin King.  Griffin, the Duke of Greythorne, sees that the other voice Finley has makes her one of his “special branch,” those with dark magical abilities- Sam, who is stronger than can be normal; Emily, who can understand machines, and Griffin himself, who can connect with the Aether. And when they and England are threatened by a villain called the Machinist, can they bring their abilities together to defeat him, or will they die trying?

Kady Cross makes an engrossing first novel in her Steampunk Chronicles. Tying in themes from The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyl and Mr. Hyde, Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein and other Victorian gothic stories into the back story of her characters, The Girl in the Steel Corset can start off slow for those not interested in the cogs and boggles of the technology of Cross’s London, or the universe which she is building.  It is definitely heady information, and for those readers with a mechanical bent, it’s heaven to see how the world is built.  However, readers interested in romance who get to the triangles between Finley, Griffin and Jack, or Sam, Emily and Jasper will definitely be rewarded.  The book very obviously sets up for the sequel, the Girl in the Clockwork Collar, which is extremely nice as the ending is almost an abrupt cliffhanger that jerks you back to reality.  You could pair this with Cassandra Clare’s Infernal Devices series or the works of Kenneth Oppel or Cherie Priest for the steampunk aspects, and the League of Extraordinary Gentlemen (which the author references herself as an inspiration) for older readers.  3.25 stars out of 5.  Goodreads ranks The Girl in the Steel Corset at 3.86 stars as of February 10, 2013.


So, to be fair, I am a geek, and lean a bit on the techy side, and loves me some steampunk.  So I really liked this series.  I LOVED the references to the Gothic and Victorian literature that was present during the late 1800’s, and the fact that Cross is putting her own twists on various famous literary creations.  I’m waiting for more to pop out.

I like the fact that Finley was able to take care of herself, and that she’s deciding what she wants and on her own timetable- a lot of romances that are set in this era (admittedly for adults) are oh, you must wed the Duke/Count/Nobleman and then make the best of it, and then they fall together forever and ever and everything is perfect.  Nope, not here, and I don’t think there will be perfect shiny happy ever with the way their powers are going.  Even though Finley merges her personalities by the end, who knows where that is going to lead to.  The fact that Griffin is growing in his abilities to reach the Aether, as well as Emily gaining abilities she didn’t even have before coming to the estate, leads me to believe that things will get dicey rather quickly.

I’m enjoying the series, but I’m not sure that I would recommend it to my romance readers- I’d definitely give it to my steampunkers and my geeks, but the first chunk of the book could put off the romancers who want more story and less world building.

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Listen to Your Hearts

Conversation hearts: that chalky sweet reminder of Valentine’s Day that lingers (in your molars) long after the chocolate has melted away. Their phrases are by turns charming and mystifying, but we love them just the same. So much so, that it’s time we do a little Reader’s Advisory love match for these desperately seeking sweets. Here, I do my best to match the title to the treat.

Graffiti Moon by Cath Crowley
The last night of school, Lucy is determined to meet Shadow, the graffiti artist and underground celebrity in her town who she is sure would be her soul mate. Ed, a guy with whom Lucy had a disastrous first (and last) date with knows where he is. All night they hang out, bond over art and poetry and life, looking for what is already there.
Graffiti Moon
Au Revoir Crazy European Chick / Perry’s Killer Playlist by Joe Schreiber
You know that person you just can’t give up, even though you know it’s totally not in your best interest? Yeah, Gobi is that person for Perry. You don’t need to read the first before the second, but it’ll help, it’s a page turner, and it’s a heckuvalot of fun. This pair asks the question: exactly how many times can love overcome death?
BEMYBABY Hooked by Catherine Greenman
When New York teens Thea and Will meet at their prestigious high school, settling down with a baby is the last thing on their minds. They’re so in love… but when baby makes three, things are bound to change.
Hooked
pic name Belonging by Karen Ann Hopkins
In this forthcoming sequel from Harlequin Teen, Amish Noah and “English” Rose have met and fallen in love. Now Rose has decided to uproot her modern life and become Amish so she can be with Noah. Her father expects she won’t last, but Rose is determined that this will be forever. What she finds within her new community and within herself is surprising in many ways.
pic name
pic name After Hello by Lisa Magnum
Like a scene in a movie, Sarah snaps a photo of Sam finding a book at the beginning of her one and only day in New York City, and the two strike up an adorably flirtatious friendship as Sam trades one thing for another in hopes of finding exactly what his hotheaded celebrity employer wants and Sarah discovers a world of possibilities.
pic name
Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe by Benjamin Alire Saenz
Both Aristotle and Dante are just completely solid guys. The kind of guys you want in your life, the kind of guys you’re lucky to meet and hope to hold on to for a while. As their friendship grows and develops into something more, the two discover that they are, indeed, lucky to have one another.
pic name
Chopsticks by Jessica Anthony and Rodrigo Corral
She’s a brilliant piano prodigy. He’s a troubled student with an artistic flair. She’s headed on a European tour. He’s from Argentina. She’s missing. And he is… well, I’ll let you figure that one out. This is a beautiful book, and a compelling love story told almost exclusively through photographs.
Chopsticks
The Difference Between You and Me by Madeline George
What could be more romantic than finding love and lust in the library bathroom? Well, probably lots of things, but when Jesse and Emily sneak off together to make out each week, those kisses make it all seem just about perfect… until the girls find themselves on opposite sides of a community conflict.
Going Vintage by Lindsay Leavitt
When you find that your boyfriend is cheating on you with a cyber wife, there is only one thing you can do – swear off all technology and return to a time where life was simpler. That’s right, Mallory is Going Vintage. Back to 1962, to be exact, to complete her grandmother’s unfinished to-do list from Junior year.
The Immortal Rulesby Julie Kagawa
Oh come on, we had to have at least ONE vampire book on here, right? Well this is a good one. Allie lives on the outskirts, trying to stay hidden, in a future society ruled by much reviled vampires. But when she makes the decision to let a vampire turn her instead of dying, her secrecy takes a new direction. This first in a promising and much anticipated series has both action and romance that both build slowly, forcefully, and very darkly.

Want to make your own hearts? I used this brilliantly simple site and you can too!
Want to build on this and host a conversation heart fest? Here are Fourteen Conversation Heart Crafts, and you can always just see who can stack them the highest too.

Happy Valentine’s Day, from everyone here at the Teen Librarian Toolbox!

-Heather

Book Review: Goddess Interrupted by Aimee Carter

I didn’t remember falling asleep, but when I woke up, Ava was gone and Pogo snored in the indent she’d left in the pillow. Sighing, I took inventory, pleased that at least some of the pain had dulled. Even if it did still hurt to move around, I was determined to grin and bear it.  But the moment I sat up, pain exploded behind my eyes, giving me a splitting headache. I moaned and lay back down, and Pogo licked my cheek as I massaged my temples. Apparently all the pain had gathered in my head while I’d been sleeping.

Someone to my right giggled, and my eyes flew open, taking in the rock walls around me. I wasn’t in my bedroom anymore. Instead I stood in the cavern where I’d watched Henry battle the fog I now knew to be Cronus, and the massive gate loomed before me, carved from the stone itself. I twisted around to find whoever it was that had laughed, and suddenly I was nose-to-nose with Calliope.

I froze. This was it. She’d somehow managed to kidnap me, and there was nothing I could do to protect myself. If she was half as powerful as Ava said she could probably rip me in half with a single thought, and I knew better than to hope there was any way I could talk myself out of this.
To my amazement, she looked past me and stepped forward. Instead of running into me, she moved through me, as if I were nothing more than a ghost.

I wasn’t really here. Just like what had happened when I’d first arrived in the Underworld, this was another vision, and Calliope had no idea I was watching.
I hurried to follow her. She walked proudly through the cavern toward a smaller cave to the side, and I noticed an oddly shaped pile beyond the light that glowed from the ceiling. I could only make out shadows, but whatever it was made Calliope giggle again.

“I can’t believe it.” She stopped a foot from the cave entrance. “Eons of putting up with you, and this is all it takes?”
My insides turned to ice. I didn’t want to look, but my feet moved forward anyway until I could make out the three bodies piled together, bound by chains made of fog and stone.
Walter on the left, his head slumped forward as blood trickled down his cheek. Phillip on the right, an ugly wound running through an eye, down his face and disappearing underneath his shirt.

And Henry in the middle, as pale and still as death.


The Review:
Kate has passed the tests, and returned from her summer to become Queen of the Underworld. But before she can cross the threshold, terrible visions begin to take hold- Calliope is back, fighting against Henry and the others, trying to release the Titans in a bid to destroy the world and Kate.  Doubting herself, their relationship, and her new godhood, can Kate save her new-found family from their rogue member, or will the struggles be too much to bear?

This second installment of The Goddess Test trilogy, Goddess Interrupted picks up six months later, when Kate finishes her summer sojourn and returns to the Underworld to be crowned Queen to Henry’s King. However, Calliope (Hera) has other plans, and has started to release Cronus, one of the Titans who created the original six Olympians, in order to destroy the world and make her Queen of Everything.  Kate must battle not only outer demons but inner ones as well, including the specter of Henry’s first wife and her insecurities about their relationship.  Goddess Interrupted ends on a huge cliffhanger that sets up the end book, The Goddess Inheritance, extremely well, and will make readers anxious for the conclusion.  More Greek history is interwoven into this volume, which also adds dimension to the relationships.  Definitely one for your romance readers (note- mild sex action towards the end, so if you are thinking of recommending this to teens who may have some problems with that, read those chapters beforehand). 3.5 stars out of 5.  Goodreads has Goddess Interrupted at 4.11 stars as of February 11, 2013.



I enjoyed Goddess Interrupted, and have high hopes for The Goddess Inheritance based on the first two books.  Kate was annoying me for a good portion of this book, but I can understand where she was coming from- learning that your whole existence was just to save one guy, and that he’s been in love with your sister (or half sister- we never have found out who Kate’s dad is) for eons would make anyone insecure.  The fact that he’s not telling you anything doesn’t bode well, either.  I’d really like Carter to write a second set of books from Henry’s side of things, because at times I really want to know what he’s thinking.

I loved the development of Ava and James, and the detailed descriptions we get of the Underworld.  I liked learning about the powers, and the loose Greek myth woven in (NOTE- if you are very into the Greek canon, this series will drive you batty; the players will NOT act the way they are supposed to, and they’re not supposed to).  I do wish we would see some more of the supporting characters (Dylan, et al.) just because I would love to see all the gods in action.  I also hope that we see more of the Titans than just Cronos, but that’s the geeky side of me.

Definitely fun for readers, but because of the sexual scenes at the end (not graphic but still there) it may be wise to pre-read before recommending to some of your teen romance readers.

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Book Review: The Goddess Test by Aimee Carter

“I didn’t agree to any tests.” I paused. “What happens if I pass?”
He stared at his hands. “You will become one of us.”
“Us? Dead, you mean?
“No, that is not what I mean. Think – you know the myth, do you not? Who was Persephone? What was she?”
Fear stabbed at me, cutting me from the inside. If what he claimed was true, then he’d kidnapped Persephone and forced her to marry him, and no matter what he said, I couldn’t help but wonder if he would try to do the same to me. But the rational part of me couldn’t look past the obvious. “You really think you’re a god? You know that sounds crazy, right?”
“I am aware of how it must sound to you,” said Henry. “I have done this before, after all. But yes, I am a god – an immortal, if you will. A physical representation of an aspect of this world, and as long as it exists, so will I. If you pass, that is what you will become as well.”
Feeling dizzy, I stood as quickly as I could while still in those damned heels. “Listen, Henry, this all sounds great and everything, but what you’re telling me is from a myth that people made up thousands of years ago. Persephone never existed, and even if she did, she wasn’t a god, because there’s no such thing-“
“How do you wish for me to prove it?” He stood with me.
“I don’t know,” I said, faltering. “Do something godlike?”
“I thought I already had.” The fire in his eyes didn’t fade. “There may be things I will not – cannot – tell you, but I am not a liar, and I will never mislead you.”
I shrank back from the intensity of his voice. He really did believe what he was saying. “It’s impossible,” I said softly. “Isn’t it?”
“But it is happening, so maybe it is time for you to reevaluate what is possible and what is not.”
I thought about kicking off my heels, heading down the path to the front gate, and leaving, but the thought of my dream with my mother stopped me. As the part of me that wanted to stay for her overruled my skepticism, the temperature dipped twenty degrees, and I shivered.
“Kate?”
I froze, my feet glued to the ground. I knew that voice, and after yesterday, I’d never expected to hear it again.
“Anything is possible if you give it a chance,” said Henry, focusing on something over my shoulder. I whirled around.
Not ten feet away from us stood Ava.

The Review: Kate and her mom have always been together, and when her mom’s dying wish is to return to the town of Eden, Kate makes it happen, leaving behind her friends and the life that she knew.  And she’s not eager to make new ones- especially when it’s a choice between being social and spending the last moments with her mom.  When Henry offers Kate a chance to extend her mother’s life, Kate grasps at the chance- and finds out that the Greek pantheon isn’t found just in the history books after all.  Henry is the Ruler of the Underworld, and Kate enters into a twisted bargain: move to his estate, attempt the tests of the council, and if she passes, become his bride and co-ruler of the Underworld. However, someone is working against Kate; can the traitor be found before it’s too late?

Aimee Carter’s The Goddess Test is an interesting updating of the Greek myths.  Kate, created to be perhaps the last possible mate for Henry (who is the modern day Hades), learns that the bargain she strikes for delaying her mother’s death is a tricky one: she must live at the estate, and pass the seven tests of the council in order to become Henry’s bride and co-ruler of the Underworld, and then be in the underworld like Persephone was, six months out of the year.  If she succeeds, she will have time to say goodbye to her mom, who has been dying of cancer; if she fails, she will be returned to the normal realm with no memory of her time at the estate.  Yet, no one mentioned til after she agreed that there have been 11 other candidates, and all have died in one way or another, and that if Kate fails, Henry will fade to nothing and one of his brothers will take his place.  Twists upon twists ensue, with enough romance to make readers’ hearts skip beats.  Trying to figure out which character is what god in the pantheon without skipping to the key in the back is a fun twist as well.  3.5 out of 5 stars.  Goodreads currently has The Goddess Test as 3.9 stars as of February 11, 2013.


The Goddess Test was a really fast read for me, and a very entertaining one as well.  I liked the way Kate was standing up for herself from the very beginning, and how she wouldn’t back down to anyone.  Her rescue of Ava despite her fears was something that showed her uniqueness, and that plays out throughout the book.  I also liked that she wasn’t into the fancy dresses and make-up, that she was always herself, no matter what.  It made Kate seem more believable that way.  And the fact that she wanted time to say goodbye to her mother made everything more poignant.

I caught on early that every named character was part of the pantheon, but I didn’t cheat and look at the chart in the back until the end.  I figured out Ava pretty quickly, as well as Kate’s mother, but didn’t figure out Ella and Theo until it was mentioned they were twins- that clicked but whether it was from astrology or Battlestar Galactica references I’m not sure.  I didn’t figure out any of the other pantheon, and really am not sure I would have if not for the key- I’ll have to go back through and see if there were subtle clues I missed.  I admit I’m not strong on my mythology, so it could be semi-obvious and I wouldn’t pick up on it.  They were fun twists, and an interesting premise, although those who are serious about their mythology may not be be impressed.  

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This or That? With author Louise Rozett


Confessions of an Angry Girl
I get asked all the time if Rose—the main character in Confessions of an Angry Girl, and the upcoming Confessions of an Almost-Girlfriend—is actually me. I think authors who write in first person get asked that a lot, which makes sense. So today, Rose and I are going to play a round of “This or That,” and we’ll let you decide if we’re the same person. Tracy, Rose’s best friend, will be our moderator.
All right, girls, let’s start with…chocolate or vanilla?
Louise: Chocolate, hands down. Absolutely no question. I have chocolate pretty much every day of my life. I drink hot chocolate the way other people drink coffee.
Rose: Yeah, I like chocolate, too. I’m not obsessed with it like you are, but I’ll always order chocolate over vanilla.
Cake or ice cream?
Louise: Cake! Yellow cake with brown frosting.
Rose: Ice cream. Unless it’s one of my mom’s birthday cakes. She makes totally insane birthday cakes.
I know. Those cakes are killer. Okay, how about guys? Edward or Jacob?
Louise: Neither. I think Bella is cooler than both those guys.
Rose: I agree. Totally.
Chris or Liam?
Louise: Chris Pine?
Rose: Hemsworth. The Hemsworth brothers.
Louise: Oh, right. Chris. He’s the older one right?
Rose: (rolling her eyes) Liam. He’s cuter, even if Chris is the better actor.
Peeta or Gale?
Louise: Gale.
Rose: What? That’s crazy. Peeta’s the one who helped her.
Louise: But Gale’s the one—
Moving on! Some random questions now. Facebook or Twitter?
Louise: Twitter. I like the challenge of 140 characters.
Rose: Tumblr.
Louise: That wasn’t one of the choices.
Rose: You started it with that Bella thing.
Confessions of an Almost-Girlfriend

 Girls, girls, girls. Play nice. iPhone or Droid?
Louise: iPhone.
Rose: Yeah, Droids seem kind of lame.
McKinley or NYADA?
Louise: What?
Rose: McKinley.
Louise: Wait—
Rodarte or Stella?
Louise: Sorry?
Rose: Come on, Trace—
Okay, okay—sorry. But it wouldn’t kill you two to learn something about fashion. Anna Sophia Robb or SJP?
Louise: SJP.
Rose: Anna Sophia Robb. Her hair is crazy. Do you know what I’d have to do to get my hair to look like that?
Louise: Buy a wig?
Ooh, ouch.  Nice one, Louise!
Rose: What are you, ganging up on me now?
Louise: I only said that because that’s exactly what I’d have to do. Sorry, Rose—I guess I gave you my hair.
Okay, okay, ready? Here’s the big finale. Jamie or Robert?

Louise: I’m not touching that one.
Rose: I’m gonna pretend you didn’t ask that…
[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=j5yzte0zSVs]
Louise Rozett is author of The Confession series published by Harlequin Teen.  You can visit her official website here.

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