Sunday, November 30, 2014

Hedgie's Must Reads: November 2014

It's the end of November and the beginning of December - the month of CHRISTMAS! I hope you all had a wonderful Thanksgiving. November was a bit of a crazy month for me. Not necessarily busy, but I go through moods and reading wasn't one of them for this month. I've been really getting into swing dancing, and have recently taken up rock climbing as well, and that has encouraged me to take on a proper diet of smoothies, fruit, and vitamins - and that has created energy that I didn't know I had. Sitting down and reading is a little hard to do when you're on a high of feeling physically good and drinking too much tea at work to keep yourself focused. Anyway, I still read a lot of good books this month, and I hope you enjoy.

November Reading Wrap-Up

The Haven by Carol Lynch Williams (3/5)
Haven Hospital and Halls is a safe place for teens dying of an illness. These Terminals are kept comfortable, healthy, and educated. And they don't ask questions. Except Shiloh - Shiloh has a lot of questions. And Haven Hospital may in fact not be the safe place they all thought. The plot "twist" is pretty easy to figure out; I had it pegged three pages in. But it's a short read with surprisingly sympathetic characters and a creepy, surreal ambiance. I found it highly entertaining and a great filler-in for going in between two much longer, more hefty books. Girl-and-guy read, sixteen-and-up, fans of short sci-fi stories.

The Colossus Rises by Peter Lerangis (3/5)
Book #1 in the Seven Wonders series. Jack is going to die. He and three other kids are descendants of the people of Atlantis. And unless they find Atlantis's seven Loculi - its source of power - the gene that makes them extraordinary will kill them when they turn fifteen. This was a really fun, classic adventure novel in the same vein as The 39 Clues, The Eternity Ring, and Rick Riordan's books. The characters are all awesome, though not quite as fleshed out as they could be. However, the concept is awesome, the world building done very well, and the climax heartpounding. Boy-read, eight-and-up, fans of the series listed above and Rick Riordan.

Empire of Shadows by Miriam Forster (3/5)
Book #2 in the Bhinian Empire series. Mara has been banished from her clan. Now, she must train to protect others in order to regain her lost honor. But Mara had no idea that the Imperial city could be so dangerous - and when she assigns herself to protect a noblewoman, she is in the thick of it. This was so much better than the first book - and it's also a prequel to City of a Thousand Dolls, so you can read it first. The characters were better, the world building better (though it still needs work), and the plot was more intriguing and fast-paced. I really look forward to seeing what the rest of the series brings. Girl-and-guy read, sixteen-and-up, fans of fantasy.

November Best Reads

File Under: 13 Suspicious Incidents by Lemony Snicket (4/5)
A companion novel to Lemony Snicket's All the Wrong Questions series! Wherein are 13 suspicious short stories. It's Lemony Snicket - of course I loved this book. As usual, it was hilarious and bizarre and probably has a million clues and puzzles in it, but I am an adult now and therefore don't have time to try and solve them! :-( Some of the stories were, of course, better than others, and having the endings of all the stories at the end of the book was strange. But that's Lemony Snicket! Girl-and-boy read, seven-and-up, fans of Lemony Snicket!

Flora & Ulysses by Kate DiCamillo
Kate DiCamillo is back with a very fun, inspiring, unique, and funny new novel - told in words and partly in comic strips! Flora is a cynic, and Ulysses is an unassuming squirrel. Then both their lives are turned upside down when Ulysses is sucked up by a vacuum cleaner and is reborn. . . .as a super hero! But all super heroes need a villain, and Flora's mother is the perfect candidate. Another really fun, quick read to put in between two very long, massive reads and you need a break. The characters are great, the writing style very lovely, and the story heartwarming and amusing all at once. Girl-read, six-and-up, fans of Kate DiCamillo!

172 Hours on the Moon by Johan Harstad (4/5)
In a bid to regain funding, NASA is hosting an international sweepstake where three lucky teenage winners will spend 172 hours on the moon! What the world doesn't know is that they are going to an abandoned moon base secretly built in the 70's. And that moon base has been abandoned for a reason. . . .This was seriously awesome. While I didn't especially care about any of the characters, this was totally plot driven and I was okay with that. The whole atmosphere was creepy, the twist was creepy, the ending was awesome! It was just too cool; so glad I picked it up! Girl-and-guy read, seventeen-and-up, fans of weird, creepy books.

Silver by Chris Wooding (4/5)
It's the beginning of another regular Christmas break at the exclusive prep school in the English countryside. But then. . . .the silver beetles show up. And nothing will be the same again. I can't say too much without giving things away. Let's just say that this book took a concept I usually criticize and added another concept to it I love, and now I've found something totally awesome. The characters are surprisingly sympathetic, and the plot actually creepy. Guy-read, seventeen-and-up, fans of zombies and cyborgs (but it isn't a zombie book! Not really! Just read it).

Blue Lily, Lily Blue by Maggie Stiefvater (5/5)
Book #3 in The Raven Quartet. Blue's mother is missing, Greenmantle has come to town, and things are getting weird. I can't say much else about the book. Other than it was flippin' amazing! Characters are all good still, plot is getting better and better (still no answers!), more amazing twists and turns, and that ending! I need Book #4! Well, actually, I need a rest from all the feels, but I still really want Book #4. People, if you are a fan of this series, you won't be disappointed. If you haven't started this series yet, you need to. I can't say who exactly this will appeal to. Either you'll love it or hate it; there's never an in between for people.

The Witch's Curse by Jordan Quinn (5/5)
Book #4 in The Kingdom of Wrenly. Someone has cursed the kingdom of Wrenly with eternal rain! Prince Lucas is convinced that it's the shady sorcerer who kept Ruskin's eggshells for powerful magic. And he's determined to prove it to his father. I know I say it every time, but this one was definitely my favorite. And it's not just because there's a hedgehog illustration! Of course, as an adult, I knew who was really to blame, but I loved this book so much.

Adventures in Flatfrost by Jordan Quinn (5/5)
Book #5 in The Kingdom of Wrenly series. Lucas and Ruskin are in trouble; they've melted all the ice in the royal kitchens. So the king send them both to the land of the giants to help harvest more ice and maybe learn a lesson in appreciating hard work. I still really loved this book - I love them all. But in comparison to the others, it was my least favorite. These books have always taught little life lessons, as kids' books usually do, but they've never been preachy. This one borderlined on being a little bit preachy. But it was still awesome seeing more of the world in this series.

Saturday, November 29, 2014

November 2014 Book Haul

I bet you guys are shocked to see that my book haul fit into one video. You'll be even more shocked to hear that this is my smallest book haul yet - and it's actually small. It isn't comparing it to other books hauls. I was good and bought the new books I planned, and then because of a clothes splurge, I'm not putting my Powell's order in until December and January. Can we give me a gold star, please? ;-) Enjoy.

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Waiting on Wednesday #69 + WWW Wednesday #39

Waiting on Wednesday is hosted by Breaking the Spine.
It's a weekly meme about upcoming books we're excited about!

Gathering Darkness
by Morgan Rhodes
(Falling Kingdoms #3)
Publication Date: December 2, 2014

From Goodreads:

Love, vengeance, and greed spark a deadly quest for magic in the third book of the Falling Kingdoms series.

Prince Magnus has just witnessed torture, death, and miracles during the bloody confrontation that decimated the rebel forces. Now he must choose between family and justice as his father, the cruel King Gaius, sets out to conquer all of Mytica. All Gaius needs now are the Kindred - the four elemental crystals that give godlike powers to their owner. But the King of Blood is not the only one hunting for this ancient, storied magic. . . .

THE KRAESHIANS join the hunt. Ashur and Amara, the royal siblings from the wealthy kingdom across the Silver Sea, charm and manipulate their way to the Kindred, proving to be more ruthless than perhaps even the King of Blood himself.

THE REBELS forge ahead. Princess Cleo and vengeful Jonas lead them, slaying with sweetness, skill, and a secret that can control Lucia's overpowering magic - all so they can use the Kindred to win back their fallen kingdoms.

THE WATCHERS follow Melenia out of the Sanctuary. They ally in the flesh with King Gaius, who vows to use Lucia's powers to unveil the Kindred.

The only certainty in these dark times is that whoever finds the magic first will control the fate of Mytica. . . .but the four element gods of the Kindred have other plans.

Why I'm Excited
- This is quite possibly my favorite fantasy series right now. I just love it so much. So many good characters, who building, plot - love it all!
- This is the third book! Can't wait to see what happens next!
- Sounds like things are really going to heat up!

by Anthony Horowitz
Publication Date: December 9, 2014

From Goodreads:

The game is once again afoot in this thrilling mystery from the bestselling author of The House of Silk, sanctioned by the Conan Doyle estate, which explores what really happened when Sherlock Holmes and his arch nemesis Professor Moriarty tumbled to their doom at the Reichenbach Falls.

Internationally bestselling author Anthony Horowitz's nail-biting new novel plunges us back into the dark and complex world of detective Sherlock Holmes and Moriarty - dubbed "the Napoleon of crime" by Holmes - in the aftermath of their fateful struggle at the Reichenbach Falls.

Days after the encounter at the Swiss waterfall, Pinkerton detective agent Frederick Chase arrives in Europe from New York. Moriarty's death has left an immediate, poisonous vacuum in the criminal underworld, and there is no shortage of candidates to take his place - including one particularly fiendish criminal mastermind.

Chase and Scotland Yard Inspector Athelney Jones, a devoted student of Holmes's methods of investigation and deduction originally introduced by Conan Doyle in The Sign of Four, must forge a path through the darkest corners of England's capital - from the elegant squares of Mayfair to the shadowy wharfs and alleyways of the London Docks - in pursuit of this sinister figure, a man much feared but seldom seen, who is determined to stake his claim as Moriarty's successor.

Why I'm Excited
- It's a Sherlock Holmes novel!
- Anthony Horowitz really impressed me with The House of Silk, and I am super duper excited to read another Holmes novel written by him. I trust his abilities as a writer.

WWW Wednesday is hosted by Should Be Reading
What are you currently reading?

Nico had warned them. Going through the House of Hades would stir the demigods' worst memories. Their ghosts would become restless. Nico may actually become a ghost if he has to shadow-travel with Reyna and Coach Hedge one more time. But that might be better than the alternative: allowing someone else to die, as Hades foretold.

Jason's ghost is his mother, who abandoned him when he was little. He may not know how he is going to prove himself as a leader, but he does know that he will not break promises like she did. He will complete his line of the prophecy: To storm or fire the world must fall.

Reyna fears the ghosts of her ancestors, who radiate anger. But she can't allow them to distract her from getting the Athena Parthenos to Camp Half-Blood before war breaks out between the Romans and the Greeks. Will she have enough strength to succeed, especially with a deadly hunter on her trail?

Leo fears that his plan won't work, that his friends might interfere. But there is no other way. All of them know that one of the Seven has to die in order to defeat Gaia, the Earth Mother.

Piper must learn to give herself to fear. Only then will she be able to do her part at the end: utter a single word.

I'm almost halfway through and enjoying it, though Nico is, of course, tearing my heart out every time. Why must I become attached to the tragic dark heroes?!

What have you recently read?

It happens at the start of every November: the Scorpio Races. Riders attempt to keep hold of their water horses long enough to make it to the finish line.

Some riders live.
Others die.

At age nineteen, Sean Kendrick is the returning champion. He is a young man if few words, and if he has any fears, he keeps them buried deep, where no one else can see them.

Puck Connolly is different. She never meant to ride in the Scorpio Races. But fate hasn't given her much of a choice. So she enters the competition - the first girl ever to do so. She is in no way prepared for what is going to happen.

This was a re-read for me, and it still gets 5 out of 5 strawberries. This is my favorite Maggie Stiefvater book. It's amazing and well-written and has wonderful characters, and I so want to live on Thisby! They had better not ruin the movie.

What do you plan on reading next?

Mara is a proud and beautiful slave girl who years for freedom. In order to gain it, she finds herself playing the dangerous role of double spy for two arch enemies - each of whom supports a contender for the throne of Egypt.

Against her will, Mara finds herself falling in love with one of her masters, the noble Sheftu, and she starts to believe in his plans of restoring Thutmose III to the throne. But just when Mara is ready to offer Sheftu her help and her heart, her duplicity is discovered, and a battle ensues in which both Mara's life and the fate of Egypt are at stake.

This is the December read for my Young Adult Biblio Babble book club. It's an older book, and one that I've actually wanted to read for years. So glad we picked it!

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Top Ten Tuesday #67 + Teaser Tuesday #28

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted by The Broke and the Bookish 

Teaser Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted by Should Be Reading

- Grab the book you're currently reading.
- Flip to a random page.
- Share 2 teaser sentences from that page!

He turned the crank handles, hoping the thing wouldn't explode in his face. A few clear tones rang out - metallic yet warm. Leo manipulated the levers and gears. He recognized the song that sprang forth - the same wistful melody Calypso sang for him on Ogygia about homesickness and longing. But through the strings of the brass cone, the tune sounded even sadder, like a machine with a broken heart - the way Festus might sound if he could sing. The Bloody Olympus by Rick Riordan, page 319

Sunday, November 23, 2014

Stacking the Shelves #69

Stacking the Shelves is a meme hosted by Tynga's Review


The Rogue Knight by Brandon Mull
Cole Randolph never meant to come to The Outskirts, but when his friends were kidnapped on Halloween he had to try and save them. Now he's trapped in a world that lies between wakefulness and dreaming, reality and imagination, life and death.

Cole's hunt for his lost friends has led him to the kingdom of Elloweer. Accompanied by new friends Mira, Twitch, and Jace, Cold teams up with the resistance movement and joins the search for Mira's sister Honor.

But Elloweer has grown unstable. A mysterious enemy is wiping out towns, leaving no witnesses or survivors. And an infamous rebel known throughout the kingdom as the "Rogue Knight" is upsetting the balance of power.

With enemies in pursuit, Cole and Mira must resort to a fascinating new kind of magic to protect themselves. Every move is filled with danger as Cole and friends try to outwit the High King, who will stop at nothing to regain what he has lost.

This Week, On The Reading Hedgehog.........

November 17, 2014 - Monday
Review: Silver - Chris Wooding
November 18, 2014 - Tuesday
November 19, 2014 - Wednesday
November 20, 2014 - Thursday
November 21, 2014 - Friday
November 22, 2014 - Saturday

Next Week, On The Reading Hedgehog.........

November 24, 2014 - Monday
Books to Movies: Mockingjay
November 25, 2014 - Tuesday
Top Ten Tuesday #67: Top 10 Books On My Winter TBR
Teaser Tuesday #28
November 26, 2014 - Wednesday
Waiting on Wednesday #69 + WWW Wednesday #39
November 27, 2014 - Thursday
Review: To Be Decided
November 28, 2014 - Friday
Review: To Be Decided
November 29, 2014 - Saturday
November Book Haul

Saturday, November 22, 2014

Guest Post: Reviewer Behavior

Last month, I asked my guest posters to put their two cents in about author behavior. Given some recent author conduct, I thought it a worthwhile topic to discuss. This month, though, we're looking at the other end of the spectrum: blogger/reviewer behavior. Once again, Hazel, Katherine, and Cayla has joined The Reading Hedgehog is weighing in on proper and improper fan/blogger/reviewer behavior.

Cayla's Thoughts

I don't personally have a book review blog (although I've considered it quite a few times), but I follow many. I love the idea of book blogs. Not only do I like hearing other readers' opinions on books, but it's a great way to hear about books that I might not have otherwise read, and honestly talking about the books I read is a huge part of the fun. Along with this, I'll admit that I have been guilty of ranting about a book a time or two, and I can really enjoy a fellow reader letting out his/her frustrations with a good rant as well. However, there is a line that you can cross. The more I started thinking about this topic, the trickier it became to distinguish between what you should and shouldn't say in a review. I'm a big believer in free speech, don't get me wrong, but not abusing that right.

Before I get into these, I'll just give a nice general blanket statement: at the end of the day, do NOT post something on the Internet while you're angry, or something that you wouldn't be willing to take ownership and responsibility for later. If more people kept those things in mind, the Internet would probably be a much kinder place. But anyway, onwards:

1) Insulting the author is definitely something you want to avoid. Honestly, NEVER bring the author into it. I read/review the book for the book's own sake. Unless the author has done something really despicable (such as abuse his/her readers like discussed last month), that readers should actually know about, there's no reason to mention them at all. The fact that you didn't like the book doesn't automatically make the author an idiot. Let's be honest, there are some people who just can't write, but there's no reason to attack the person behind the book - especially if it's fiction.

2) Too far is too far. I like snarky, witty reviews, with all the examples and quotations, but there comes a time when you need to control how much you're ranting. Some people are more long-winded than others, but we all need to remember that it's just a book. This is a hard one to really pin down, but I guess what I'm saying is try to keep your review professional, rather than going on for pages about how much you hated a character.

3) Try to be considerate. This doesn't mean you have to pretend to like the book. This doesn't mean you can't say you really disliked it, but just try and remember that as terrible as that book was, someone wrote it, and that someone could be reading your review of it. Now, to contradict myself, I'm totally fine pulling the author on the carpet when they are clearly pushing a wrong agenda (in general, fiction is not the place for pushing agendas, I've noticed), but if it's just a personal quibble, try to restrain yourself.

Those are some far from incomplete and not very concisely stated rules of thumb for reviewing. This was a topic that made me scratch my head a little, since it's kind of an interesting balancing act. But I guess at the end of the day, reviewers should take a step back and just remember some common decency.

Katherine's Thoughts

Since I'm not a blogger myself, I've never had to deal with author/reader interactions too much. The few interactions I've had with authors about their books has been nothing but positive (it doesn't help that I gave positive reviews to all of their books, LOL!!)

I honestly think that, just as authors should respect the rights and privacy of their readers, we too should respect theirs. In other words, observe the Golden Rule. Even if we don't agree with what the author is trying to convey. Even if we think their opinions are stupid. If the author writers in such a way we're questioning their sanity and mental health. As human beings, we should respect other's boundaries.

I have no problem doling out a bad review if I think an author's work is bad. I don't have a problem saying the characters were annoying, the writing was choppy, I didn't care about anyone, etc. What I DO NOT do is insult the author personally or directly attack the author. To me, when a reviewer does this, it crosses the line. It's not only unprofessional, but unacceptable.

I also think that, even if we love and admire an author to the point of hero worship, we shouldn't seek them out unsolicited for their attention. In other words, just as authors shouldn't stalk their reviewers, we should not stalk the author.

For example, as much as I am a fan of Benedict Cumberbatch, I would never stalk him or invade his personal life. Most of his fangirls are CRAZY, and not in a good way at all. So much so that when he announced his engagement, I was more worried about what those crazy people would do to his new fiancee than be happy for him about the news. No wonder they're hardly ever seen together. I certainly wouldn't want to have to face them every day. I mean, they CAMP OUTSIDE the hotels where he's staying to make press appearances and what not.

All in all, I would just say to treat authors with the same respect and dignity they deserve, and they should do the same!!

Hazel's Thoughts

There's been a lot of stories lately about authors going mental over bad reviews, and while that kind of attitude should never be excused, maybe we should also consider the fact that some reviewers really aren't doing their job professionally either.

As a reviewer, it is first and foremost your job to give your honest opinion of the book, no matter whether you just picked it up from the library or the author asked you to review it personally. You should always give your opinion alone, whether it's good or bad. We can't like every book, and authors should understand that. You may be forced to give a book one star, sometimes it's regretful, and sometimes, let's be honest, it's deserving. It's my personal opinion that writing engaging reviews is a good thing. Add a little humor, there's nothing wrong with that, but on the flip side, just flaming/trashing a book really shouldn't be acceptable. You should state your reasons for not liking the book in an adult fashion, even if you can't help but add a little sarcastic humor into it. I'm personally not a huge fan of people who write reviews with tons of profanity in them; I feel it's a bit unprofessional, and usually they just use it to try and get their opinion across instead of using reasons why they didn't like the book. i.e. the characters were undeveloped, the plot doesn't make sense, etc.

People read reviews to get a god idea of whether a book is for them. That's why contrasting reviews is a good thing. I read both 5-star and 1-star reviews when I'm deciding whether to try a book. Someone's problems with the book might not bother me, but at least I still know, because the person who didn't like it said why. However, can anyone really decide whether they want to read a book or not when all they get is bashing and profanity? I don't really think that helps. So in the long run, I think reviewers should try harder to write reviews that, even if they are negative, do not simply bash a book and author for no reason, and at the same time, authors need to get a grip and either not read reviews at all, or read them like an adult.

The Reading Hedgehog's Thoughts

This is a harder topic than I thought it would be. Can I just bow out, since I'm not technically a guest poster? ;-) Just kidding. My thoughts on blogger/reviewer behavior is probably as divided as can be. We bloggers/reviewers aren't paid to review books; we do it because we love talking about books and weighing on what we thought of it. And when we're stuck with a bad book, sometimes writing a review is the only way to feel like we didn't waste our precious time. I don't pretend to be speaking for all of the bloggers out there, but I can't be alone in this feeling. If I read a book, I will review it, because if I don't - what was the point of finishing it?! What kind of blog would I be if I only reviewed good books?

Bloggers/reviewers have every right to voice their dislike for a book, especially on their blogs - a place that they run and manage and designed. And the more honest a review, the better. Because while we're not being paid, we do have followers - readers - who want to know our true opinion. Some of them even make their decision on whether or not to read a book based on what we say. So I think it's very important to be honest at all times. (At the same time, there are readers/followers who will read the book regardless of what we say. Or maybe they'll read it because what we didn't like about it, they do like in books, so that gets them to read it!)

However, I do also think that there's a way to write negative reviews without crossing into the rude domain. Before I continue, I'm not saying reviewers who do cross into this area should be censored. Again, it's their opinion and their blog/profile (whathaveyou), and I don't think it's ever right to tell people what they can't say. Okay, now going on with my original thought: it is my personal opinion that yes, a review can be rude, and yes, there is a way to be honest without being rude. I don't like reviews that employ strong profanity to convey their dislike for a book. I generally won't read reviews written by bloggers who do this, no matter how much I agree with them, because I just don't like how they do it. Contrary to popular belief, there are more eloquent, blunt ways of saying, "I thought this was horrible" without throwing in every four-letter word you know.

I also find personal attacks against the author to be a bit tasteless. You're critiquing the book; not the author. And ever since I found out how much sway an editor can have on a book, I always find myself wondering, "Is it the author's fault, or the editor's?" And never let it be said that I lay blame where it doesn't belong (I try not to, at least). I also find reviews that don't explain why they didn't like something to be extremely irritating. I know, sometimes as a reader you can't always explain why a certain element bothered you - I've run into that as well. But you guys know what I mean: reviewers who never explain the why.

Being a reviewer/blogger isn't easy. No matter what we say, there will always be someone who is upset by it. And I am certainly not saying that blogger opinions need to be censored - far from it! Bloggers, it is your space, and it is your time that you are spending reading these books. Say what you want how you want! But guest posts are all about expressing our own opinions on various topics, too, right? Reviewers who resort to profanity, personal attacks, and don't explain why they didn't like something don't do themselves - or fellow reviewers - any favors. But you know what - no one has to listen to me. That's just my opinion. :-)

Friday, November 21, 2014

Review: Empire of Shadows - Miriam Forster

Empire of Shadows by Miriam Forster
Series: Bhinian Empire #2
Genre: YA, fantasy
Published on November 4, 2014
Published by Harper Teen
Pages: 496
Read From: 11.2.14 - 11.15.14

Cast out of her family three years ago, Mara turned to the only place that would take her - a school where students train to protect others. But Mara is stunned when guarding a noble girl in the Empire's capital turns out to be more dangerous than she could've imagined. More shocking still, she finds the boy she thought she has lost forever outside the gates of her new home. 
Mara knew the dizzying Imperial city would hold dangers. How could she have known that her heart, as well as her life, would be at stake?


Cover Blurb: Yes or No? I do love the cover art; love the colors and the fact that you can't really see the character impersonators. Did I mention I also love covers that feature a palace? ;-)

Characters: Mara surprised me as a protagonist. She's strong, intelligent, quick-witted, can totally hold her own in a fight, but she doesn't have an attitude and she's not constantly proving herself. She doesn't have to; she's known how to fight all her life, and she's not afraid to use her skills to protect someone else. I attached to Emil and Stefan almost immediately, especially Emil. I loved the brotherhood dynamics between the two twins - Emil's always wanting to protect Stefan, and Stefan's loving his brother, but also having a hard time looking past his jealousy. Ravathi was also awesome; she was a much stronger character than I was expecting, and I really liked the sisterly relationship that developed between her and Mara. And then Aari and Tamas - they were all so awesome.

The Romance: Yes, there's a romance between Mara and Emil. I was totally okay with it. Here is an instance where the girl does spend a lot of time rescuing Emil, but Emil rescues her, too, a lot - it's so sweet!

Plot: Because I feel lazy, I am going to defer to the official synopsis above. Sorry; it took me forever to read this book because I picked it up during two particularly busy weeks, and it's always hard for me to sum up a book that took me a long time to read. The plot isn't slow. At first, I thought it might, but it wasn't. And I really loved following Mara along her journey, and learning more about the Bhinian Empire. The world building still needs work; I have a lot of questions still about the castes, the formation of the Bhinian Empire, and the assassin. But there is a lot more of it in Empire of Shadows versus City of a Thousand Dolls.

Believability: Not applicable.

Writing Style: Third person, past tense. We follow between Emil and Mara's perspectives, and it actually at times felt more like a first-person narration. The writing was still nothing spectacular, but it felt like it had progressed some from the first book.

Content: 1 s-word

Conclusion: Empire of Shadows is definitely better than City of a Thousand Dolls. I liked the characters well enough, but Mara and Emil and Ravathi were all so much better than Nisha and the others from City of a Thousand Dolls. And since this is a prequel to City of a Thousand Dolls, you can actually read this first!

Recommended Audience: Girl-read, sixteen-and-up, fans of fantasy.

Others in the Bhinian Empire Series:
1)City of a Thousand Dolls
2)Empire of Shadows

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Review: Blue Lily, Lily Blue - Maggie Stiefvater

Blue Lily, Lily Blue by Maggie Stiefvater
Series: The Raven Cycle #3
Genre: YA, fantasy, mystery, supernatural
Published on October 21, 2014
Published by Scholastic Press
Pages: 391
Read From: 10.27.14 - 11.1.14

There is danger in dreaming. But there is even more danger in waking up. 
Blue Sargent has found things. For the first time in her life, she has friends she can trust, a group to which she can belong. The Raven Boys have taken her in as one of their own. Their problems have become hers, and her problems have become theirs. 
The trick with found things, though, is how easily they can be lost. 
Friends can betray. Mothers can disappear. Visions can mislead. Certainties can unravel.


Cover Blurb: Yes or No? I love, love, looooooove the cover art! Maggie Stiefvater, please sell some of your art! You are a brilliant artist!!

Characters: What can I say about these characters that I haven't already? Blue continues to be an awesome female protagonist, with lots of spunk and no attitude. Gansey is just an awesomely older-brother type; Ronan is much more relatable now that I know more of his backstory, but I still wouldn't want to be around him. Noah was so incredibly sad and adorable in Blue Lily, Lily Blue; I wanted to wrap him in a blanket. Adam didn't pain me as much as he did in the previous book. There was a lot of character growth with him, as he comes to terms with his new connection to Cabeswater and his role among the Raven Boys. Still love the Gray Man, and Greenmantle - oh my gosh, he was awesome. Suave and deadly and just awesome. His wife, Piper, was a very unexpected character. She wasn't at all what I anticipated.

The Romance: Blue and Gansey continue to like each other, but don't want to hurt Adam's feelings - or destroy the relationship between the Raven Boys. So it's a romance with tension, but it's done very well.

Plot: I'm not even going to try. It's a bit faster-paced than The Dream Thieves was, but it, too, leaves you with a lot of questions and not many answers. I expected no different, and there are some very interesting revelations that totally complicate this already-complicated plot. There are also some awesome twists that I totally did not see coming. I can't say much about the plot because of giving away spoilers for the other two books - and this one. There's a lot of "picking up the pieces" that were left with Book #2, emotion-wise; lots of character development. After the emotional toll the last book took, I was all right with that.

Believability: Not applicable.

Writing Style: Third person, past tense. As always, Maggie Stiefvater's writing style is unique, imaginative, poetic, evocative, and just wonderful.

Content: 25 s-words, 19 f-words

Conclusion: We all know that these books end on a cliffhanger; this one is no different. It isn't a killer cliffhanger like the last two. I can bear the wait for Book #4. But it's still an awesome ending that makes me wish I had Book #4 now. I think The Raven Boys is still my favorite, but Blue Lily, Lily Blue is amazing; an excellent addition to this series. It will not disappoint fans.

Recommended Audience: Girl-and-guy read, nineteen-and-up, fans of unique urban fantasy.

Others in The Raven Cycle:

1)The Raven Boys
2)The Dream Thieves
3)Blue Lily, Lily Blue

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Waiting on Wednesday #68 + WWW Wednesday #38

Waiting on Wednesday is hosted by Breaking the Spine.
It's a weekly meme about upcoming books we're excited about!

Scorpion Mountain
by John Flanagan
(Brotherband Chronicles #5)
Publication Date: December 2, 2014

From Goodreads:

Fresh off of victory over their longtime nemesis, Tursgud, Hal and the Herons, summoned by King Duncan, set sail for Castle Araluen. Thrust into the dangerous world of Araluen, the Herons learn of a threat to Queen Evanlyn and whispers of a deadly sect known as the Scorpion Cult. Rumors say that Iqbal, who previously tried to assassinate Evanlyn at her at her wedding to Horace, might be planning another attempt. Not waiting to see if the knife will strike true, the Herons join forces with Gilan and his fellow Rangers to track down the would-be assassins.

Why I'm Excited

- It's the fifth Brotherband Chronicles book!
- I love John Flanagan's books.

by Carol Goodman
(Blythewood #2)
Publication Date: December 2, 2014

From Goodreads:

Avaline Hall is no ordinary girl.

She's a student at Blythewood Academy, an elite boarding school that trains young women to defend human society from the shadowy forces that live among us. After the devastating events of her first year at Blythewood, Ava is eager to reunite with her friends - and the Raven, the compelling but elusive winged boy who makes her pulse race. She soon discovers, though, that the sinister Judicus van Drood hasn't finished wreaking havoc on Blythewoode - and wants to use Ava and her classmates to attack a much bigger target.

Ava's the only one with any hope of stopping van Drood. But to scuttle his plans, she must reveal her deepest secret to everyone at Blythewood. What's she willing to sacrifice to do what's right - her school? Her love? Or her life?

Why I'm Excited

- Um, I'm actually not sure why.

WWW Wednesday is hosted by Should Be Reading
What are you currently reading?

It happens at the start of every November: the Scorpio Races. Riders attempt to keep hold of their water horses long enough to make it to the finish line.

Some riders live.
Others die.

At age nineteen, Sean Kendrick is the returning champion. He is a young man if few words, and if he has any fears, he keeps them buried deep, where no one else can see them.

Puck Connolly is different. She never meant to ride in the Scorpio Races. But fate hasn't given her much of a choice. So she enters the competition - the first girl ever to do so. She is in no way prepared for what is going to happen.

This is a re-read (yay!), and I'm loving it as much as I did the first time through. Fabulous characters, fabulous writing, fabulous story - fabulous! (Yes, fabulous is my new favorite word.)

What did you recently read?

Cast out of her family three years ago, Mara turned to the only place that would take her - a school where students train to protect others. But Mara is stunned when guarding a noble girl in the Empire's capital turns out to be more dangerous than she could've imagined. More shocking still, she finds the boy she thought she had lost forever outside the gates of her new home.

Mara knew her life in the dizzying Imperial city would hold dangers. How could she have known that her heart, as well as her life, would be at stake?

Gave this sequel to City of a Thousand Dolls a 3 out of 5 strawberries. It took me forever to read this book, but it wasn't because it was bad. It was good! I liked and enjoyed it, and really loved the protagonists. I just happened to pick it up during a really busy few weeks.

What do you plan on reading next?

Though the Greek and Roman crewmembers of the Argo II have made progress in their many guests, they still seem no closer to defeating the earth mother, Gaea. Her giants have risen - all of them - and they're stronger than ever. They must be stopped before the Feast of Spes, when Gaea plans to have two demigods sacrificed in Athens. She needs their blood - the blood of Olympus - in order to wake.

The demigods are having more frequent visions of a terrible battle at Camp Half-Blood. The Roman legion from Camp Jupiter, led by Octavian, is almost within striking distance. Though it is tempting to take the Athena Parthenos to Athens to use as a secret weapon, the friends know that the huge statue belongs back on Long Island, where it "might" be able to stop a war between the two camps.

The Athena Parthenos will go west; the Argo II will go east. The gods, still suffering from multiple personality disorder, are useless. How can a handful of young demigods hope to persevere against Gaea's army of powerful giant? As dangerous as it is to head to Athens, they have no other option. They have sacrificed too much already. And if Gaea wakes, it is game over.

I've waited long enough. It's time to tackle this book. . . .

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Top Ten Tuesday #66 + Teaser Tuesday #27

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted by The Broke and the Bookish 

This week's topic: Top 10 Sequels I Can't Wait to Read! Or something like that. I'm assuming we're supposed to pick new releases, but I'm going to kind of just throw in sequels to series that I'm reading, but haven't picked up yet. There'll also be some new releases/upcoming releases thrown in the mix, I'm sure.

Teaser Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted by Should Be Reading

- Grab the book you're currently reading.
- Flip to a random page.
- Share 2 teaser sentences from that page!

"Do you think I can't find someone else to ride your stallion?" Malvern asks me. He waits for me to answer, and when I don't, he says, "There are twenty boys I can think of dying to get on the back of that horse." The Scorpio Races by Maggie Stiefvater (pg. 219)

Monday, November 17, 2014

Review: Silver - Chris Wooding

Silver by Chris Wooding
Genre: YA, horror
Published on March 25, 2014
Published by Scholastic Press
Pages: 320
Read From: 10.24.14 - 10.27.14

Paul is the new kid at Mortingham Boarding Academy, and he has a dark secret. 
Caitlyn admires Paul from afar and resents that he only has eyes for Erika. 
Erika thinks that she and Caitlyn are best friends, but she's wrong. 
Adam is a bully with a major chip on his shoulder. 
Mark is outgrowing his old friends but doesn't know how to make new ones. 
In a few short hours, none of this will matter. 
Without warning, a horrifying infection will spread across the school grounds, and a group of students with little in common will find themselves barricaded in a classroom, fighting for their lives. 
Some will live. 
Some will die. 
And then it will get even worse.


Cover Blurb: Yes or No? Yes, I like the cover art. Simple, creepy, intriguing. Always my favorite kind.

Characters: This isn't a character-driven book, but I actually did get rather attached to the characters. Paul was my favorite; quiet, golden-hearted, a natural leader - he was always doing things for other people. I felt sorry for Erika, as she was stereotyped by everyone because she was a class-A student and pretty. Her personal view was that she was useless, because that's what everyone saw her as. It took me a little while to like Adam, but once his temper was put to good use, I did. Mark was an adorable nerd, and Caitlyn caused a lot of her own problems, but she was still somehow sympathetic.

The Romance: Sure, there's a bit of a love triangle going on: Caitlyn likes Paul, but Paul likes Erika, and Erika doesn't notice him. It's not focused on a ton, but it's there.

Plot: Mortingham Boarding Academy is an exclusive, rural school for the rich and super smart. It's the beginning of winter break, and everything seems like another normal day. Until a strange metallic bug is found by the lake. And then suddenly, they're everywhere. The world they knew no longer exists - and it's taken away in a single night of nightmarish proportions. You've probably noticed that I'm trying not to say what's going on this book. I really don't want to say, because not knowing adds so much more to this book. It's like a super-creepy Doctor Who episode, and the closest thing to zombies I'll get to liking (but it isn't a zombie book!). Seriously, [Spoiler] cyborg zombies are way awesome. I feel like a total nerd saying that, but I found a zombie-like twist that I actually enjoyed. [End spoiler] Silver starts out outlining our five main characters' stories and backgrounds. But it doesn't take long for it to launch into the action at all. And the quiet, "oh, it's a normal day" beginning actually helps to create a much darker, creepier atmosphere, as the Reader knows that something is going to happen. And once the plot takes off, it goes at a pretty quick pace and doesn't slow down.

Believability: Not applicable.

Writing Style: Third person, past tense. Not necessarily anything special, but it worked fine for the genre of the story.

Content: None.

Conclusion: I'll grant you, the plot's basic structure isn't anything new, and the ending might leave some Readers unsatisfied because it's very open-ended (and I don't think there's going to be a sequel; it so doesn't need one). But I loved it! Creepy, awesome, and fun.

Recommended Audience: Guy-read, seventeen-and-up, fans of horror/zombies/cyborgs/science fiction.

Sunday, November 16, 2014

Stacking the Shelves #68

Stacking the Shelves is a meme hosted by Tynga's Review


The Bane Chronicles by Cassandra Clare
Ever wondered about the enigmatic, mysterious warlock Magnus Bane? The only character to appear in every Shadowhunter book, Magnus has a past even more shrouded in mystery than his present. I've teamed up with acclaimed YA writers Maureen Johnson and Sarah Rees Brennan to create the Bane Chronicles, the back (and front) story of Magnus told in ten linked tales.

Look for short stories like Vampires, Scones and Edmund Herondale; The Rise and Fall of the Hotal Dumort; Saving Raphael Santiago and What To By the Shadowhunter Who Has Everything (And Who You're Not Officially Dating Anyway).

Rush Revere and the American Revolution by Rush Limbaugh
Liberty, my wisecracking horse, our old friends Cam, Tommy, Freedom, and I are off to meet some super-brave soldiers in the year 1775. Yep, that's right. We'll be visiting with the underdog heroes who fought for American independence, against all odds, and won! But not before eight very real years of danger and uncertainty. Be a part of Rush Revere's crew as we rush, rush, rush into a time when British rule had become a royal pain, and rebellion was in the air. We'll be on hand to see two lanterns hung in the Old North Church, prevent a British spy from capturing Paul Revere, and grapple with danger at the battles of Lexington, Concord, and Bunker Hill.

The extra special part of this trip is that right here in the twenty-first century, Cam's dad is a soldier fighting in Afghanistan, and Cam has been pretty angry that he is away. Visiting with exceptional American heroes like Dr. Joseph Warren and George Washington, racing along after Paul Revere on his midnight ride, and seeing the Declaration of Independence signed make Cam see his own dad in a new and special way.

But don't worry. Along with danger, excitement, and patriotism, there will still be time to stop for a delicious spinach, oats, and alfalfa smoothie. No, wait, that one's for Liberty. The kids and I voted for strawberries.

Now let's open the magic portal to the past!

This Week, On The Reading Hedgehog.........

November 10, 2014 - Monday
November 11, 2014 - Tuesday
November 12, 2014 - Wednesday
November 13, 2014 - Thursday
November 14, 2014 - Friday
November 15, 2014 - Saturday

Next Week, On The Reading Hedgehog........

November 17, 2014 - Monday
Review: Silver - Chris Wooding
November 18, 2014 - Tuesday
Top Ten Tuesday #66: Top 10 Sequels I Can't Wait to Get
Teaser Tuesday #27
November 19, 2014 - Wednesday
Waiting on Wednesday #68 + WWW Wednesday #38
November 20, 2014 - Thursday
Review: Blue Lily, Lily Blue - Maggie Stiefvater
November 21, 2014 - Friday
Review: Empire of Shadows - Miriam Forster
November 22, 2014 - Saturday
Guest Post: Reviewer Behavior