Monday, September 28, 2009

Oh.My.Gods. - Tera Lynn Childs

Description taken from the author's site.
If Phoebe Castro can keep her grades up and have another stellar cross-country season, her dream of attending USC with her best friends is only a track scholarship away. She’s made all her plans, so it’s a complete shock when her mom announces she’s marrying a mysterious stranger and moving them half-way around the world—to Greece.

Phoebe’s stuck on a secret island in the Aegean attending the super-exclusive Academy, where her new stepfather is the headmaster and the kids are anything but your average students—they are descendants of the Greek gods, super powers included. That’s right, Greek gods are no myth! If Phoebe thought high school was hard, she knows this is going to be mortal misery.

Securing that scholarship seems like Phoebe’s only ticket out of Greece, but training and maintaining her grades will be grueling, even without a sabotaging stepsister from Hades and a gorgeous guy—what a god!—who just might be her Achilles heel. One thing is for sure—summoning the will to win and find her place among the gods could be Phoebe’s toughest course yet.

****
After reading Catching Fire (I've yet to post my review on that one), I decided to go for a very light and fun read. And Oh.My.Gods. was perfect for it! Cover-wise, plot-wise, character-wise - you name it! So there I go... in love with another YA series!

Oh.My.Gods is (if I'm not mistaken) Tera Lynn Childs' first book, but it doesn't really show in how she wrote this book. Seriously, with you'd think she'd written a dozen YA books before! The characters were all so natural and believable (and I don't mean that in the they-have-godly-powers kind of way). I loved Phoebe's hilarious side comments (both those spoken to others and those she keeps to herself)! Plus, I like the fact that she's athletic and all - something you'd rarely see in YA female protagonists. :)

And let's not forget Griffin. Griffin Blake (think younger version of Orlando Bloom or anyone who looks Greek, and hot!) - who I'm now adding to my top hot fictional characters list!

So, want your YA fun, not-too-girly, and with a bit of romance in it? You. have. to. read. this! :)

Plot: 4.5/5
Writing: 5/5
Book Love: 5/5

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Cross My Heart and Hope to Spy - Gallagher Girls Book 2 - Ally Carter


Spoilers for those who haven't read I'd Tell You I Love You, But Then I'd Have to Kill You (the 1st book of the Gallagher Girls series. (My review is spoiler-free, though. :p)

Cammie Morgan may have a genius IQ and attend the best school in the country, but as she starts the spring semester of her sophomore year there are a lot of things she doesn't know. Like will her ex-boyfriend even remember she exists? And how much trouble did she really get in last semester? And, most of all, exactly why is her
mother acting so strangely?

All Cammie wants is a nice, normal semester, but she's about to learn her greatest lesson yet—that when you go to a school for spies, nothing is ever as it seems.

****

I really enjoyed this second installment of the Gallagher Girls series. It was way way better than the first book, which is saying something cause I had a lot of fun reading that one.

I definitely liked Ally Carter's writing better here than in the first one. The plot was more definite and the girls' (mis)adventures were more exciting. I love the twists! The added spy mystery was very effective - so effective I finised the book in one sitting! (That, or I'm really just way into reading. :p) And I'm loving the characters' quips and quirkiness - Cammie's boy-ignorance , Liz's uber-geekiness, Bex's flirty spy self (it's an unusual mix but it works!), and Macey's amusing sarcasm - more and more!

If you've read I'd Tell You I Love You, But Then I'd Have To Kill You, then you have to read Cross My Heart and Hope to Spy. I found myself giggling althroughout reading it (seriously, giggling!) so if you're up for some (or lots of) fits of giggling, go pick this up. :)

*As for Cammie's love life, I'm still not sure how that will turn out. If you've read the 3rd book, please oh please, refrain from leaving any spoilers in the comments! :)*

Note: You can't get any more YA than this. So if you're not a fan of young adult books (the for-girls-only kind of YA), I'm not sure you'd like this as much as I did. Haha.

Plot: 4/5
Writing: 5/5
Book Love: 4.5/5

Monday, September 21, 2009

I changed my layout! (Again) :)

I heard that other bloggers don't really dig the white text on black background layout so... I inverted the colors! Well, sort of. Now, it looks super clean (for me, anyway) and neat.

I'll be on the lookout though for possible new layouts. And maybe, even a new header!

*Let's hope I develop my Photoshop skills.* :)

Cleopara's Daughter Winner!

Hi everyone! So here it is, the winner of the hardcover copy of Cleopatra's Daughter plus an ancient Roman coin is...

Okay before that, I just want to say that I drew the name using The Hat (it's a free program and if you're having giveaways too, I highly recommend it! :D)

And thank you to everyone who joined! :)

Anyway, the winner is...


Congrats! I'll be sending you an e-mail as soon as I post this.
EDITED: Oh, you didn't leave your e-mail so you can just send your shipping address to me at austenfanblogs[at]gmail[dot]com. :)

To the other contestants, you can still snag a copy of Cleopatra's Daughter from A LOT of giveaways going around the www. Just do a blog search on Google and enter as many as you like! :) Thanks again for joining!

In My Mailbox (4)

In My Mailbox is a weekly meme hosted by Kristi of The Story Siren. :)

This week, I bought two books and they are...

Catching Fire by Suzanne Collins

Against all odds, Katniss Everdeen has won the annual Hunger Games with fellow district tribute Peeta Mellark. But it was a victory won by defiance of the Capitol and their harsh rules. Katniss and Peeta should be happy. After all, they have just won for themselves and their families a life of safety and plenty. But there are rumors of rebellion among the subjects, and Katniss and Peeta, to their horror, are the faces of that rebellion. The Capitol is angry. The Capitol wants revenge.

I've just finished reading it! (ONE OF THE BEST BOOKS EVER!)







The Secret Countess by Eva Ibbotson (previously published as A Countess Below Stairs)

By the award-winning and bestselling author of JOURNEY TO THE RIVER SEA, a novel that sings with characteristic Ibbotson warmth and wit Anna, a young countess, has lived in the glittering city of St Petersburg all her life in an ice-blue palace overlooking the River Neva. But when revolution tears Russia apart, her now-penniless family is forced to flee to England. Armed with an out-of-date book on housekeeping, Anna determines to become a housemaid and she finds work at the Earl of Westerholmes crumbling but magnificent mansion. The staff and the family are sure there is something not quite right about their new maid but she soon wins them over with her warmth and dedication. Then the young Earl returns home from the war and Anna falls hopelessly in love. But they can never be together: Rupert is engaged to the snobbish and awful Murieland anyway, Anna is only a servant. Or so everybody thinks .

I've never read anything by Eva Ibbotson but something about it having a historical touch tugged at me and made me buy it. Hope it turns out good! :)

Saturday, September 19, 2009

The Hunger Games - Suzanne Collins

Katniss is a 16-year-old girl living with her mother and younger sister in the poorest district of Panem, the remains of what used be the United States. Long ago the districts waged war on the Capitol and were defeated. As part of the surrender terms, each district agreed to send one boy and one girl to appear in an annual televised event called, "The Hunger Games." The terrain, rules, and level of audience participation may change but one thing is constant: kill or be killed. When Kat's sister is chosen by lottery, Kat steps up to go in her place.

****

I was super psyched to finally read The Hunger Games since it's been very highly recommended by other book bloggers. And yes, it didn't disappoint! In fact, it exceeded my expectations!

The novel is set in the future, specifically, in Panem, which as the description says, is the remains of what used to be the United States. Sounds very gloomy, right? That was my initial reaction too. For a moment there, I started to doubt if I would like the book as much as the other book bloggers did. But as the story progressed, I found myself turning the pages more and more quickly, especially when The Hunger Games began.

I really liked Katniss as a character. In fact, I'd say she's now one of my favorite female protagonists! At such an early age, she had to learn how to be tough for her family's survival. I loved that despite the fact that she had to be so mature early, she's still so totally ignorant about other stuff - by that, I meant boys. :)

Since I don't want to spoil the story for those of you who haven't read it yet, I'd keep this short.

All I can say is it has: fantastic writing, awesome characterization, very solid imagery of the setting, and enough suspense to keep you reading till the end!

Oh, and by the way, I'm on TEAM PEETA! :)

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NotNessie of Today's Adventure reviewed The Hunger Games and loved it too!

****

Want more proof of how awesome The Hunger Games is? Check out what Stephen King and Stephenie Meyer had to say about it! (I know! It's so weird to put those two names together since, well, it's no secret that Stephen King doesn't um, like Stephenie Meyer all that much, but what can I do? LOL. Oookay, I'm getting out of topic here. :p)

Plot: 5/5
Writing: 5/5
Book Love: 5/5

Friday, September 18, 2009

First 3 Chapters of Shadowland!

I only just saw this from a tweet from Alyson Noel. The first 3 chapters of Shadowland (The Immortals series book 3) are up (yay!) here! Enjoy! :)

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Contest Reminder :)

I really need to post a new review. And I will! Hmm, it will probably be up tomorrow. As to the book, it's something I read a week ago and w/c I REALLY loved. :) Haha, enough of me trying to be mysterious.

On to an altogether different topic, my contest for a signed hardcover copy of Cleopatra's Daughter + an ancient Roman coin will end three days from now, on Sept 19! So, if you'd like to win a copy, you can do so here. :)

And oh, has anyone watched the first episode of Gossip Girl season 3 yet? I love Chair!!!!

BBAW: Me and My Reading Habits

EDITED: Okay, silly me. I didn't get to read that part in the BBAW blog that says I should try to answer in five words or less. :p

Do you snack while you read? If so, favorite reading snack?

Rarely. If I do eat while reading, it's probably just a sandwich since I don't want to get my hands dirty while reading a book. :)

Do you tend to mark your books as you read, or does the idea of writing in books horrify you?

Writing in books is definitely a no-no for me! Unless it's just a little something at the first (cover) page.

How do you keep your place while reading a book? Bookmark? Dog-ears?

Bookmark. Though oftentimes, my bookmark seems to mysteriously disappear so I'm stuck with remembering the page number or searching for the part where I stopped.

Laying the book flat open?

NO. I'm very very OC when it comes to books.

Fiction, Non-fiction, or both?

They're both OK, but I prefer fiction.

Hard copy or audiobooks?

Hard copy

Are you a person who tends to read to the end of chapters, or are you able to put a book down at any point?

I usually read until the end of the chapters, unless, there's something urgent that I really have to do first.

If you come across an unfamiliar word, do you stop to look it up right away?

Not really. I'm too lazy to do that. :p

What are you currently reading?

Not really reading anything right now. I've kept my books away (need to resist!) cause this week is a very very crazy school week!

What is the last book you bought?

Oh.My.Gods. by Tera Lynn Childs

Are you the type of person that only reads one book at a time or can you read more than one at a time?

One at a time. For me, reading several at a time would be really confusing.

Do you have a favorite time of day and/or place to read?

I prefer to read in my room. As for the time, no particular preference.

Do you prefer series books or stand alone books?

I like them both, though sometimes it can get really frustrating waiting for the next book in a series to come out!

Is there a specific book or author that you find yourself recommending over and over?

Um, Persuasion by Jane Austen. And The Count of Monte Cristo by Alexandre Dumas

How do you organize your books? (By genre, title, author’s last name, etc.?)

Currently, they're arranged by the author's last name. :)

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

BBAW Interview Swap w/ Natasha of Maw Books!

Okay, my first BBAW post! :)


Today, I'll be interviewing Natasha of Maw Books! She's already put up her interview (of me) and you guys can go check it out here.


1. Can you tell us (or me) something about yourself? (Haha. It sounds like a job interview.)

Well, I'm a stay-at-home mom of two very active boys age 2 1/2 and almost four. I've always enjoyed reading. In fact, here's a random tidbit. I've kept a journal off and on ever since I was eight years old. The very first line? "I'm eight years old and I've read all of the Little House on
the Praire books." Too bad I didn't say what I thought about it otherwise I could say I've been writing reviews since I was little. All through middle school and high school I remember making all kinds of book lists and wish I could find them.

2. Aside from blogging, what other activities do you enjoy doing?

Well, I love to spend time with my boys. Despite the fact that it seems like I'm online all the time, I do get out with them everyday. We played all summer long. This fall is going to be busy. My oldest is in his first dance class, just started preschool and we attend story time at the library three times a week which we've been doing for three years. I'm a huge gardener. Before I started blogging, I occupied my time by taking a Master Gardener class and received my certificate which I must admit is one of the things which I'm most proud of. I love being out in my flower garden, planning, planting, pruning and also harvesting my vegetable garden. I also enjoy photography a lot and that's what I actually have my undergraduate degree in.

3. You've been shortlisted for a LOT of the BBAW awards? How does that make you feel? Is there any particular award that you would want most to win?

Ha, well yes. To tell you the truth I'm a tad emberrased and very humbled. But I must admit that I try to put a lot of work into my blog, so it's nice to know that people are enjoying it. A lot of people say that they'd still blog if nobody read their blog because they started their blog as a reading journal for themselves. That was never the case with me when I started my blog. I started blogging to promote books and authors. If nobody read my blog, I wouldn't put as much effort into it or stop completely. As for the award that I would most like to win? Well, I was nominated for most eclectic blog but not shortlisted. To tell you the truth, that was the one category that I thought for sure was my best chance. Goes to show you that you can't count on anything!

4. What's your favorite book genre? Your least favorite? :p Why?

Hmm . . . my favorite book genre. I'm always drawn to books that are about the human condition and social issues whether it's fiction or non-fiction. So basically the ones that make you really depressed! I'm partial to literay fiction, historical fiction, comtemporary fiction, classics, memoirs and children's books including picture books, middle grade and young adult. My least favorite genres? Well, I don't read romance, thrillers, crime, urban fantasy or anything that is particularly vulgar, overly sexual, heavy language or extremely graphic. Like I mentioned in the last answer, I'm fairly eclectic and book blogging has expanded my reading selections in ways that I never imagined.

5. Ok, this always gets asked. What is/are your favorite book/s? What do you like most about them?

Well, I've never been one to rank books. A book that might appeal to me as a thirty year old wouldn't have been the same when I was eighteen. How about a few of my favorites just since I started blogging. I would count The Only True Genius in the Family by Jennie Nash, Everyone is Beautiful by Katherine Center and Shooting the Moon by Francis O'Roark Dowell because each one spoke to me personally. I have fallen in love with everything Jacqueline Woodson has written because she's a simply beautiful writer. I

6. I posted something on my personal blog, entitled The Hot Ones Are Always Fictional. Can you add more to my list? :)

I've been sitting on this question for half an hour. I went through my entire review list and I've just realized that I don't read any books with hot characters in them! I must be missing out! I suppose the exception is The Hunger Games and Catching Fire. I'm going to add Gale to your list.

7. When's the best time for you to read? In the morning, noon, evening?

I seriously have no idea how I fit my reading in between watching my kids and blogging. I try to sneak it whenever I can. I'll sit outside while my kids play in the sandbox, or try to get wherever we are going about 15 minutes early so I can sit in the car while the kids are strapped in their carseats and can't do anything about sitting there. I used to read mostly at night but that's been replaced by computer time, so I guess I don't really have a set schedule.

8. What's your favorite reading 'position'. Lying in a comfy chair? Lying down on your bed? Standing (?!) LOL.

Well, we do have a pretty comfy couch. If I read in bed for too long I fall asleep but I read there too. We did invest in a pretty awesome hammock, which is tons of fun.

9. You have a very widely-read and well-established blog. Is there any advice you can give to new bloggers out there? (ME! :D)

Be patient. I'm completly shocked with how quickly new bloggers are assimilated into the community so I feel that bloggers who are frustrated with their stats when they've been blogging for only a month need to realize that everybody before them has been in the same boat. In all honesty when I started my blog in October of '07, I was only getting three hits a day by January. That's how far outside the community I was. In fact when I started my blog, I'd never have even read a blog before, much less a book one. My sister set me up and got me started as I really was clueless. New bloggers just need to reach out and not be scared of what's out there. Be open and friendly and you'll be instantly welcomed with open arms into an awesome community.

10. So, for the last question, if you'll ever write a book, what would it be like? A romance with your requisite dark and brooding hero? A thriller with a crazy murderer? Or something of the paranormal genre?

Well, like I mentioned earlier I actually don't read any of those genres, so I doubt I'd write a book along those lines. LOL Hmm . . . if I were to write a book . . . that's a hard question. I'll just throw this out there although I have never thought about it before (a lot of people ask me if I'd like to be a writer because I'm such a huge reader and the answer is always no) - I'd say probably a middle grade fiction book. Maybe something about a girl moving across the country and discovering that not everybody is the same religion as her family simply because that's what happened to me when I was eleven. It was a culture shock to say the least.

****

Thank you Natasha for being such a gracious interviewee! I had fun reading your answers. :)

Now, head on over to Maw Books and visit Natasha's fabulous blog! :)

Sunday, September 13, 2009

In My Mailbox (3)

In My Mailbox is hosted by Kristi of The Story Siren

For this week, I only bought one book. And that's just fine since I still have a lot of TBR books. :)



A modern girl's comedic odyssey in a school filled with the descendants of Greek gods.
When Phoebe's mom returns from Greece with a new husband and moves them to an island in the Aegean, Phoebe's plans for her senior year and track season are ancient history. Now she must attend the uber exclusive academy, where admission depends on pedigree, namely, ancestry from Zeus, Hera, and other Greek gods. That's right, they're real, not myth, and their teen descendants are like the classical heroes -supersmart and superbeautiful with a few superpowers. And now they're on her track team! Armed only with her Nikes and the will to win, Phoebe races to find her place among the gods.

- I've been hearing good things about this one, I hope I enjoy it too. :)

****

Btw, I'm having my first giveaway for a copy of Cleopatra's Daughter here. Hope you can join in!

Q&A with Michelle Moran

Hi everyone!

Today, Michelle Moran, author of bestselling novels such as Nefertiti and The Heretic Queen is here to answer some questions on writing and mostly on (what she loves to write about) - Egyptian history! Curious enough? Read on! :)



Q: What prompted you to write a novel about Cleopatra’s daughter?

A: I do a great deal of traveling both for research and for fun, and most of my destinations are archaeological sites. On a trip to Alexandria in Egypt, I was afforded the amazing opportunity of participating in a dive to see the submerged remains of Cleopatra’s ancient city. More than ten thousand artifacts remain completely preserved underwater: sphinxes, amphorae, even the stones of the ancient palace. Although I'm not a fan of diving, it was an incredible experience, and it changed the way I looked at Cleopatra. I immediately wanted to know more about her life, and it was mere coincidence that my next trip took me to Italy, where her ten year-old children were brought to live after her suicide. While in Rome, I was able to retrace her daughter's steps, and upon seeing where her daughter had lived on the Palatine, I knew I had my next novel.



Q: What was it like to walk where Selene walked? In particular, what was it like to visit Octavian’s villa?

A: Unbelievable. For two thousand years, Octavian’s villa has sprawled across the top of the Palatine Hill, slowly deteriorating. At one time, its vibrantly painted dining room had hosted magnificent feasts, one of which would have been the celebration of the emperor’s triumph over Marc Antony and Cleopatra in Egypt. As the heir to Caesar, Octavian was determined to rule the western world without interference. He changed his name to Augustus, and with the help of his general Agrippa and his architect Vitruvius, he turned a city of clay into a city of marble.

I had known all of this on that day in March when the villa was opened for the first time in more than a century. What I hadn’t known, however, was just how unbelievable that trip back into the world of ancient Rome would be. After three million dollars in restoration, Italian archaeologists have been able to recreate not just the intimate library and studies Augustus used, but the mosaic floors he once walked on and the vividly painted ceilings he once walked beneath with Ovid, Seneca, Cicero, Horace, and even Julius Caesar himself. As we were quickly escorted through the frescoed rooms, we stopped in the triclinium – the dining room which had once seen so many famous faces smiling, laughing, even crying for mercy. With a little imagination, it was easy to see the tables and couches that had once adorned the chamber, and there was the undeniable feeling of standing in the presence of the ancients. It was the kind of feeling you only get in Grecian temples or Egyptian tombs.



Q: In all three of your novels, your narrators have been teenage girls. Is there are reason for this?

A: Actually, yes. I like to begin my novels during the time of greatest transition in a person’s life. And in the ancient world, the greatest transition in a woman’s life was often the time when she was married. Because women married at much younger ages two thousand years ago (twelve years old was not uncommon), my narrators have all been very young girls. In fact, Random House will be making a concerted effort to market Cleopatra's Daughter to young adults as well as adults. However, as my novels progress through time (my next book, for example, will be about Madame Tussaud), my narrators will be older.



Q: Is the Red Eagle based on an historical person?

A: Yes. The Red Eagle is actually based on several men who led slave rebellions (unsuccessfully, I might add) against Rome. Spartacus led the most famous revolt, but there were other men too, such as Salvius, who waged war with his army of slaves in ancient Sicily.

Q: You write in your acknowledgements page that the character of the Red Eagle is an homage to the works of several authors. What made you decide to do this?

A: Creative as well as personal reasons. First, I wanted to create a character that fans of swashbuckling adventures might love, and it wasn’t at all difficult to find historical personalities on which to base such a hero. Men like Spartacus and Salvius were heroes in the truest sense of the word. But I didn’t want there to be too much action, and certainly not so much that it would detract from the real story – that of Selene and her twin brother Alexander growing up in a foreign court. I could certainly have chosen not to include anything as obviously fictitious as the Red Eagle. But I wanted to illustrate just how threatening slave rebellions were at that time, and how ever-present the danger of becoming a slave would have been, even to captured royalty. And the creation of the Red Eagle wasn’t a huge stretch. Many rebels who came before – and after – the Red Eagle employed similar tactics: rousing the plebs, arming the slaves, and encouraging those in servitude to passive resistance.

On a more personal note, however, I wanted to include the Red Eagle because I knew it would be a character my father would have loved. He devoured anything having to do with ancient Rome, and I deeply regret not having written this while he was still alive.



Q: Was a third of Rome’s population really enslaved?

A: Sadly, yes. And you didn’t have to be born a slave to become one. You could be kidnapped and sold into slavery, your city could be overrun and you could be turned into a slave, or you might be sold into servitude by your own parents. Slavery meant an absolute loss of every human right we now take for granted, and as a slave, your body was no longer your own. Many slaves were physically and sexually abused, regardless of age or gender.



Q: Where did these slaves come from?

A: Many were Gallics and Greeks. The Gallics were from Gaul, a region which now encompasses France, Belgium, parts of Switzerland, and Germany.



Q: When did slavery end?

A: It hasn't. In the Western World, it was slowly - very slowly - phased out with the coming of Christianity (which was one of the reasons Christianity flourished… it appealed to the disenfranchised and enslaved, making everyone equal if not on earth than in the next life). But slavery certainly hasn't ended for everyone. There are women and children who are ensalved today, even in America and Europe. Of course, this isn't legal. Many of these victims of modern-day human trafficking have been brought over from places like Albania or Algeria and have no resources to escape. That's why organizations such as STOP International exist. You can visit them here.



Q: Is it still possible to visit the places Selene visited when she was in Rome?

A: Yes. In 2008, I went on a photographic safari in search of the places Selene would have gone during the brief years she was in Rome. Many of the photos are included here!



Q: What are you working on next? Will it also be marketed to both adults and YA?

A: Actually, my next book will be firmly adult fiction. MASKS OF THE REVOLUTION is about Madame Tussaud, who joined the gilded but troubled court of Marie Antoinette, and survived the French Revolution only by creating death masks of the beheaded aristocracy. I’m very excited about this novel, since Marie (the first name of Madame Tussaud) met absolutely everyone, from Jefferson to the Empress Josephine.

****

WOW. Thanks for that amazing interview, Michelle. I honestly learned a lot from it, not the least of which is the slavery that's still present in some parts of the world. I absolutely salute Michelle in supporting organizations such as STOP International!

Thanks again Michelle for the Q&A!

****
Btw, I'll be having a giveaway for Michelle's newest book (out in Sep 15), Cleopatra's Daugter! Stay tuned for that! :)

My First Giveaway! - Cleopatra's Daughter

Michelle Moran has very very generously allowed me to host a contest for her newest book, Cleopatra's Daughter, which is due to be released this September 15!

Want to know more about Michelle Moran? See my interview here. :)

Now, for the giveaway... One winner will get a signed hardcover copy of Cleopatra's Daughter and an ancient Roman coin (with certificate of authenticity)!

Description:

The marriage of Marc Antony and Cleopatra is one of the greatest love stories of all time, a tale of unbridled passion with earth-shaking political consequences. Feared and hunted by the powers in Rome, the lovers choose to die by their own hands as the triumphant armies of Antony’s vengeful rival, Octavian, sweep into Egypt. Their three orphaned children are taken in chains to Rome, but only two—the ten-year-old twins Selene and Alexander—survive the journey. Delivered to the household of Octavian’s sister, the siblings cling to each other and to the hope that they will return one day to their rightful place on the throne of Egypt. As they come of age, they are buffeted by the personal ambitions of Octavian’s family and court, by the ever-present threat of slave rebellion, and by the longings and desires deep within their own hearts.

The fateful tale of Selene and Alexander is brought brilliantly to life in Cleopatra’s Daughter. Recounted in Selene’s youthful and engaging voice, it introduces a compelling cast of historical characters:

Octavia: the emperor Octavian’s kind and compassionate sister, abandoned by Marc Antony for Cleopatra
Livia: Octavian’s bitter and jealous wife
Marcellus: Octavian’s handsome, flirtatious nephew and heir-apparent
Tiberius: Livia’s sardonic son and Marcellus’s great rival for power
Juba: Octavian’s ever-watchful aide, whose honored position at court has far-reaching effects on the lives of the young Egyptian royals

Selene’s narrative is animated by the concerns of a young girl in any time and place —the possibility of finding love, the pull of friendship and family, and the pursuit of her unique interests and talents. While coping with the loss of both her family and her ancestral kingdom, Selene must find a path around the dangers of a foreign land. Her accounts of life in Rome are filled with historical details that vividly capture both the glories and horrors of the time. She dines with the empire’s most illustrious poets and politicians, witnesses the creation of the Pantheon, and navigates the colorful, crowded marketplaces of the city where Roman-style justice is meted out with merciless authority.

Based on meticulous research, Cleopatra’s Daughter is a fascinating portrait of Imperial Rome and of the people and events of this glorious and tumultuous period in human history. Emerging from the shadows of history, Selene, a young woman of irresistible charm and preternatural intelligence, will capture your heart.




To enter: Just leave a comment below w/ your e-mail address. :)

For extra entries:
+1 Recommend a book you'd think I'd enjoy. :)
+3 for being or becoming a follower
+2 for following me on twitter (@austenfanblogs)
+1 for tweeting about this or linking to your blog or anywhere! (please include the link in your comment)

Contest ends on September 19. Open to everyone - any country! The book will be coming from Michelle herself. :)

Note: I will draw the winner using a randomizer.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Blood Promise (Vampire Academy 4) - Richelle Mead

MAJOR spoilers for those who haven't read the 1st 3 books in the series. So if you haven't, stop NOW! :p

Description:

DIMITRI'S HEART HAS GONE DARK

Now Rose must journey to the ends of the earth to find--and kill--her one true love...

Or has the time come to join him?

BOUND BY LOVE, BUT SWORN TO KILL...

The rest of the world had considered Dimitri dead. And to a certain extent, he was. But I hadn't been able to forget a conversation he and I had once had. We'd both agreed that we'd rather be dead—truly dead—than walk the world as Strigoi. It was time to honor our words.

Guardian Rose Hathaway's life will never be the same.

The recent attack on St. Vladimir's Academy devastated the entire Moroi world. Many are dead. And, for the few victims carried off by Strigoi, their fates are even worse. A rare tattoo now adorns Rose's neck, a mark that says she's killed far too many Strigoi to count. But only one victim matters . . . Dimitri Belikov. Rose must now choose one of two very different paths: honoring her life's vow to protect Lissa—her best friend and the last surviving Dragomir princess—or, dropping out of the Academy to strike out on her own and hunt down the man she loves. She'll have to go to the ends of the earth to find Dimitri and keep the promise he begged her to make. But the question is, when the time comes, will he want to be saved?

Now, with everything at stake—and worlds away from St. Vladimir's and her unguarded, vulnerable, and newly rebellious best friend—can Rose find the strength to destroy Dimitri? Or, will she sacrifice herself for a chance at eternal love?

****
This is it! One of the most anticipated YA books this year!

I've yet to read other reviews for Blood Promise, but as for myself, I find it um... let's just say, not quite what I expected it to be. But don't get me wrong. I was satisfied with it. More than satisfied, actually. Richelle Mead was able to sustain the suspense factor and add more twists and turns for this book, which is always a good thing. :) I guess I just found the first half of the book to be not as exciting as I would have wanted. There were some scenes that I thought weren't really essential for the overall plot of the book. (Really trying hard to make this spoiler-free. Haha.) But then again, that's just me and I have no idea what the author will be planning to do with the other books.

I must say, I've never liked Rose before as much as I did in this book. She made such a huge leap in maturity here as compared to the other books. My respect for her really reached an all-time high. The same goes for Adrian. :) And though I absolutely love Dimitri for Rose, I can't help but feel excited for the 'possible' pairing up of these two too!

Actually, my biggest complaint of all was that... there's not enough Christian Ozera exposure! C'mon, we (or I) need some of that gorgeous-bad boy sarcasm! LOL. Anyway, I hope the 5th book, Spirit Bound, gives me that. :)

Plot: 4/5
Writing: 5/5
Book Love: 3.5/5

Here's the next book's description from Amazon: (SPOILERS: if you haven't read Blood Promise)

Dimitri gave Rose the ultimate choice. But she chose wrong…
After a long and heartbreaking journey to Dimitri’s birthplace in Siberia, Rose Hathaway has finally returned to St. Vladimir’s—and to her best friend, Lissa. It is nearly graduation, and the girls can’t wait for their real lives beyond the Academy’s iron gates to begin. But Rose’s heart still aches for Dimitri, and she knows he’s out there, somewhere.

She failed to kill him when she had the chance. And now her worst fears are about to come true— Dimitri has tasted her blood, and now he is hunting her. Only this time, he won’t rest until Rose joins him…forever.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

My ABCs



I was tagged by La Coccinelle of The Ladybug Reads and it seemed fun so, well, here are my ABCs. :)

Here are the rules:

1. Link to the person who tagged you

2. Share your ABCs

3. Tag three people at the end by linking to their blogs

4. Let the three tagged people know they have been tagged by leaving a comment on their website

5. Do not tag the same person repeatedly but try to tag different people, so there is a big network of bloggers doing this tag

Here goes. . .

Available or single?
Single. And available. Haha.

Best Friend?
I have friends, close friends. But I've never singled one out as my best friend.

Cake or Pie?
Definitely cake!

Drink of choice?
Coffee! But I go for water most of the time.

Essential item for every day use?
Um, clothes???? Haha.

Favorite color?
It changes depending on my mood. But I'd always find purple and orange cute. :)

Google?
YES, I love Google!

Hometown?
Cavite (here in the Philippines!)

Indulgences?
BOOKS

January or February?
February - love is in the air... Haha. And I'm too lazy to go back to school in January (from Christmas break)

Kids and their names?
None, too young to have kids.

Life is incomplete without…?
those you love. :)

Marriage date?
Haven't planned that one out yet. :D

Number of siblings?
None. I know, but it's kinda fun, at times.

Oranges or apples?
Apples.

Phobias and fears?
I'm scared of lots of things - cats and any other animal which can do me harm. :p

Quote for the day?
Hmm, here's the only one I could think of write now. It's something from The Sweet Far Thing by Libba Bray:

We take such pains to be polite. We never say what we mean.

Reason to smile?
I'm about to have breakfast. (Right after I publish this.) :)

Season?
Oh, I do wish we have winter here. But as it is, I'd prefer summer over the rain.

Tag 3 people:

I'm not sure if they already did this but here goes:

NotNessie of
Today's Adventure

... and anyone else who would like to play!

Unknown fact about me?
I'm currently in college taking up Chemical Engineering. And believe me, books are such helpful stress relievers! :D

Vegetable you hate? Hmm, can't think of one. I like vegetables (though I don't LOVE them).

Worst habit?
I'm kinda messy with my stuff. Haha.

X-rays you’ve had?
Chest

Your fave food?
Doughnuts! French fries! Potato salad!

Zodiac sign?
Scorpio

Sunday, September 6, 2009

In My Mailbox (2)

EDIT: I forgot this. In My Mailbox is hosted by Kristi of The Story Siren. :)
What I bought:

Stargirl by Jerry Spinelli

Stargirl. From the day she arrives at quiet Mica High in a burst of color and sound, the hallways hum with the murmur of “Stargirl, Stargirl.” She captures Leo Borlock’s heart with just one smile. She sparks a school-spirit revolution with just one cheer. The students of Mica High are enchanted. At first.

Then they turn on her. Stargirl is suddenly shunned for everything that makes her different, and Leo, panicked and desperate with love, urges her to become the very thing that can destroy her: normal. In this celebration of nonconformity, Newbery Medalist Jerry Spinelli weaves a tense, emotional tale about the perils of popularity and the thrill and inspiration of first love.

This promises to be a very amazing book! :)

Blood Promise (Vampire Academy Book 4) by Richelle Mead


DIMITRI'S HEART HAS GONE DARK

Now Rose must journey to the ends of the earth to find--and kill--her one true love...

Or has the time come to join him?

BOUND BY LOVE, BUT SWORN TO KILL...

The rest of the world had considered Dimitri dead. And to a certain extent, he was. But I hadn't been able to forget a conversation he and I had once had. We'd both agreed that we'd rather be dead—truly dead—than walk the world as Strigoi. It was time to honor our words.

Guardian Rose Hathaway's life will never be the same.

The recent attack on St. Vladimir's Academy devastated the entire Moroi world. Many are dead. And, for the few victims carried off by Strigoi, their fates are even worse. A rare tattoo now adorns Rose's neck, a mark that says she's killed far too many Strigoi to count. But only one victim matters . . . Dimitri Belikov. Rose must now choose one of two very different paths: honoring her life's vow to protect Lissa—her best friend and the last surviving Dragomir princess—or, dropping out of the Academy to strike out on her own and hunt down the man she loves. She'll have to go to the ends of the earth to find Dimitri and keep the promise he begged her to make. But the question is, when the time comes, will he want to be saved?

Now, with everything at stake—and worlds away from St. Vladimir's and her unguarded, vulnerable, and newly rebellious best friend—can Rose find the strength to destroy Dimitri? Or, will she sacrifice herself for a chance at eternal love?

- (I had to put everything else aside for this) I just finished reading it, and I want more!!!! Will post my review probably w/in the week.

Received from a contest:



There’s an allure to vampire tales that have seduced readers for generations. From Bram Stoker to Stephenie Meyer and beyond, vampire stories are here to stay. For those fresh-blooded fans of paranormal romance or for those whose hunt and hunger never dies, these stories have what readers want! This collection of original tales comes from some of the hottest, most popular, and best-selling YA writers, including:
Holly Black (The Spiderwick Chronicles, Tithe)
Libba Bray (A Great and Terrible Beauty)
Melissa De La Cruz (Blue Blood)
Cassandra Clare (City of Bones)
Rachel Caine (Morganville Vampires)
Nancy Holder & Debbie Viguie (Wicked)
Cecil Castellucci (Boy Proof, Queen of Cool)
Kelley Armstrong (Women of Otherworld)
Maria V. Snyder
Sarah Rees Brennan
Lili St. Crow
Karen Mahoney
Dina James
They will make everyone a sucker for eternal kisses.

- Libba Bray! Melissa de la Cruz! Sounds fun! :)

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Book Giveaways Found Again!

Traveling to Teens is giving a way copy of This Is What I Want to Tell You (not sure when it ends) and Another Faust (ends on September 10). Both contests are international. :)

My Hobbies is giving away an ARC of Hush, Hush (Yes, I really want this one!). Contest ends on September 15.

OMG! Books! has a contest for a copy of Candor and a $15 Amazon gift card. It ends on September 16. Please do tell her that austenfan referred you. Thanks! :)

Pride and Prejudice and Zombies - Jane Austen and Seth Grahame-Smith

Description from Goodreads:

"It is a truth universally acknowledged that a zombie in possession of brains must be in want of more brains."

So begins Pride and Prejudice and Zombies, an expanded edition of the beloved Jane Austen novel featuring all-new scenes of bone-crunching zombie mayhem. As our story opens, a mysterious plague has fallen upon the quiet English village of Meryton—& the dead are returning to life! Feisty heroine Elizabeth Bennet is determined to wipe out the zombie menace, but she's soon distracted by the arrival of the haughty
& arrogant Mr. Darcy. What ensues is a delightful comedy of manners with plenty of civilized sparring between the two young lovers—& even more violent sparring on the blood-soaked battlefield as Elizabeth wages war against hordes of flesh-eating undead. Can she vanquish the spawn of Satan? And overcome the social prejudices of the class-conscious landed gentry? Complete with romance, heartbreak, swordfights, cannibalism & thousands of rotting corpses, Pride and Prejudice and Zombies transforms a masterpiece of world literature into something you'd actually want to read.

****
Hmm, I could have done without that last sentence in the description. Hmm. Well, anyway.

This is my first try at reading anything that is based from anything by Jane Austen so I can't really compare with the other Austenian world themed books out there. And from reading it, let's just say I wasn't turned off from reading more Jane Austen inspired books. In fact, it made me curious to see what the other authors have done with the other Austen novels to spice things up a bit. :)

Surprisingly, the book stayed true to most of the important parts of Pride and Prejudice. Those who have read P&P before (and still haven't got the chance to read it again - ME! ME!) might get confused as, naturally, some parts from the original book were modified. But though that may be the case, Pride and Prejudice and Zombies followed the framework of the original book, which I think was a wise decision on the author's part as I don't think fans of Jane Austen can stand it if even the main storyline was changed! :p

Honestly, I think those who aren't that big fans of Jane Austen may be able to appreciate her more through this book. Seth Grahame-Smith not only retained Austen's witty remarks, he made them so outrageous you can't help but laugh at the absurdity of them all! Plus, this was made to adapt with more younger people, especially to those who don't really care much for the Old English way of how Jane Austen wrote.

The illustrations were also a nice touch, I sort of wished there were more of them strewn about the whole book. :) As for the zombie thing? Though some parts did gross me out, they still added to the fun and excitement of the book. But despite the book's title, I didn't really feel that zombies played that big a part in the book. What really drew me in was the author's hilarious way of retelling the novel as well as the in-your-face frankness exhibited by the some (if not all) of the characters. :)

Plot: 4/5
Writing: 4/5
Book Love: 4/5

****

By the way, to those who've also read and reviewed Pride and Prejudice and Zombies, you're eliigble to join into Velvet of vvb32 reads' zombie bag o'goodies giveaway. Check out her blog for more details!
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