Sunday, November 30, 2008

I expect to be away

I hope everyone had a great Thanksgiving! I'm back from my vacation, and let me tell you, I needed it! :-)

I expect to be away for the next few weeks. I graduate college in two weeks (what? That's it? That's all there is? AHHHHHH!) and I'm still busy with the Cybils nominations. I might have time to throw a few posts up, but if you don't hear from me, that's where I am.

So until then, happy reading everyone!

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Waiting On Wednesday: 11.26.08

The Trouble with Kings by Sherwood Smith

From "Princess Flian finds herself the unwilling object of desire of three royals. Is the one she wants a villainor a hero? Waking up in a strange place, Flian Elandersi at first doesnt know who she is. One wicked prince tells her she is secretly engaged to an even more wicked king who wants to marry her right away. But before that happens, yet another wicked prince crashes through a window on horseback to sweep her off her feet. Memory returns, and Flian realizes that all any of them seem to want is her considerable wealth, not her pleasant-but-ordinary self. She longs to escape the barracks-like, military atmosphere and return to civilization and her musical studies. Flian endures another abduction, this time in the middle of a poetry reading. Who is the villain? Prince Garian Herlesterlanguid, elegant, sarcastic? Prince Jaimhe of the dashing horsemanship? Or King Jason Szinzar, whose ambiguous warning might be a threat? Flian decides its time to throw off civilization and take action. The problem with action is that duels of wit turn into duels of steeland love can't be grabbed and galloped away."

The Trouble with Kingswill be released on December 29, and is available for preorder on

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Review: The Rumpelstiltskin Problem

The Rumpelstiltskin Problem by Vivian Vande Velde

Have you ever read the story Rumpelstiltskin and decided that it just didn’t make sense? When you think about it, there’s so many things that are just not rational. For example, why would a father claim his daughter could spin straw into gold. I mean, of all the things to spin, why straw? And why would a funny little man agree to spin a room full of gold in exchange for a tiny gold ring? Didn’t he have enough gold as it is? And what would he want with the Queen’s first born child?

This book attempts to answer this and many more questions by providing six different versions of what Rumpelstiltskin might have been. While staying true to the original, the author changes just one or two different elements of the story to see how it could affect the outcome. For example, what if Rumpelstiltskin was a woman? Or what if the miller’s daughter was really a fanatic trying her hardest to press a kind king into marriage? And what if the miller’s daughter fell in love with Rumpelstiltskin, who was really a generous and handsome elf?

While all of the stories are great, I think my favorite was “The Domovoi.” In this version, set in Russia, Rumpelstiltskin is a domovoi; a small, teddy-bear-like, magical creature responsible for keeping the people in the house it inhabits happy and safe. Rumpelstiltskin is the domovoi that lives in the king’s palace, so naturally he finds out when the miller’s daughter has been locked up with the order to spin straw into gold. I just love the writing here, and this is a prime example. Just remember that as a domovoi, it is Rumpelstiltskin’s responsibility to make sure everyone in the palace is happy and safe:

“ ‘The king wants me to spin this straw into gold,’ the girl said, gesturing to that whole big roomful of straw. She was crying so hard she began to hiccup.

‘Ooooh,’ Rumpelstiltskin said, impressed. ‘Such a clever pretty lady to know how to spin straw into gold.’ It had taken Rumpelstiltskin a good fifty years to learn how to spin straw into gold.

The girl stamped her foot, coming close to stamping on Rumpelstiltskin. ‘But I don’t know how to do it,’ she told him. ‘That’s the whole point. And the king is going to burn me at the stake in the morning.’

That didn’t sound happy or safe.”

I absolutely love retold fairy tales, and this one didn’t disappoint me at all. I loved the fun and often humorous writing style, and it takes a fair amount of talent to come up with six different versions of the same story. If you’re looking a fun and quick read, a collection of short stories, or just a book about one of your favorite fairytales, this is sure to please.

Shady Glade Rating: 9/10

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Waiting On Wednesday: 11.19.08

Belle: A Retelling of "Beauty and the Beast" by Cameron Dokey

I love the Once Upon a Time Series. So it's natural that I would be looking forward to this one.

From "Belle is convinced she has the wrong name, as she lacks her sisters' awe-inspiring beauty. So she withdraws from society, devoting her time to wood carving. Secretly, Belle longs to find the fabled Heartwood Tree. If carved by the right hands, the Heartwood will reveal the face of one's true love.

During a fierce storm, Belle's father stumbles upon the mysterious Heartwood -- and encounters a terrifying and lonely Beast. Now Belle must carve the Heartwood to save her father, and learn to see not with the eyes of her mind, but with the eyes of her heart. "

Belle: A Retelling of "Beauty and the Beast" will be released on November 25th, and is available for preorder on

Friday, November 14, 2008

Review: Montmorency

Montmorency: Thief, Liar, Gentleman by Eleanor Updale

Grievously injured after falling through a skylight while fleeing police, a man known simply a Prisoner 493 has gained a second chance at life. A young and ambitious doctor named Doctor Farcett is eager to try and repair 493’s body, using surgical methods that are revolutionary in Victorian medicine. Farcett succeeds in saving his life, and uses Prisoner 493 as his promotion to the other learned gentlemen of The Scientific Society.

It is there that 493 learns about Victorian London’s new sewer system, an organization that hatches a brilliant plan. Once he is finally released from jail, 493 sheds his life of petty thievery, determined to use the sewers to help him escape his formally dismal existence.

After a few extremely successful jewelry thefts, 493 takes up residence as Montmorency, a highly refined gentleman who has taken rooms at the Meriman hotel in downtown London. By nights he still acts as Scarper, his manservant and accomplice in crime, still using the sewers to brilliantly execute his plan. But Montmorency’s new life is proving to be filled with it’s own set of difficulties, and it will only take one mistake for both of his lives to come crashing down around him.

Although it seems to have a simple appearance on the surface, Montmorency was nevertheless an enjoyable book. The narration is provided by alternatively following Scarper and Montmorency, a fact that I enjoyed, but may confuse younger readers. The plot manages to drop several surprises throughout the context of the book, enough to keep it moving at a pace that is still interesting while still exploring the setting fully. I enjoyed the thief-turned-gentleman idea, and I will definitely be picking up the sequels (when I get time anyway!).

Shady Glade Rating: 8/10

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Waiting On Wednesday: 11.12.08

I've seen this feature on a few blogs, although Teen Book Review was the first I noticed it on. The idea is to feature a book that is scheduled to be released in the coming months every Wednesday. And since I seem to be a helpless bibliophile, this is an exercise right up my alley. Here's my first pick, and you can expect more of these as time goes on. :-)

The Tales of Beedle the Bard
by J. K. Rowling

Might as well start this feature off with a bang. I don't think I really have to explain what this book is; it's pretty much pervaded the internet already. Even if it isn't strictly a Harry Potter book, I am eager to return to the world of one of my favorite series.

The Tales of Beedle the Bard
is available for pre-order from

Monday, November 10, 2008

Blogger Secret Santa

How cool is this? You can sign up to do a Secret Santa swap for Christmas with other book bloggers. The Hidden Side of a Leaf is helping to coordinate the 2nd annual Book Bloggers Christmas Swap, and you can sign up to participate. It's as simple as sending an email in and saying you'll participate. The gifts don't have to be expensive either, which is great for my poor college student budget. Full details can be found at the original post.

I think this sounds like fun. I'm participating! What a good way to spread Christmas cheer to our online friends. And doesn't the banner just make you want to run out and start buying Christmas presents? I think it's time for a little holiday shopping...

Sunday, November 09, 2008

Weekly Geeks: Author Spotlight

So I've been seeing this things called Weekly Geeks around the net (Becky introduced me to it) for awhile now, but I've never brought myself to particpate. When I saw how easy this week's post was, though, I really didn't have an excuse to not particpate. So I'm jumping in! We'll see how much of a habit this becomes... Weekly Geeks is hosted by The Hidden Side of a Leaf, where you can find this week's other participants.

Weekly Geeks #24: Author Spotlight
Directions: 1. Choose a writer you like. 2. Using resources such as Wikipedia, the author’s website, whatever you can find, make a list of interesting facts about the author.

So here goes. I've decided to spotlight Clare B. Dunkle, since her book The Hollow Kingdom
is one of my absolute favorites.
  • Her first four books were written as letters to her daughters who were (at that time) attending a German boarding school.
  • She studied Russian literature in college and graduated in three years!
  • Her newest book, The Sky Inside
    , has a sequel due out next year, and is a nominated title for this year's Cybils awards.
  • Read my review of The Hollow Kingdom here
And here's a slideshow of all her books currently in print:

Friday, November 07, 2008

Crummy Weather

We've having ugly weather today. It seems to be spitting. Yes, you read that right, the sky is spitting. It's not rainging, it's not snowing, but it's kinda misting, but not really. It's spitting.

So I'm going to go curl up on the couch with a book and some homework. I want to post a Cybils update soon, so keep an eye out for that. But right now, it's time to hide from the weather...

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

Don't Forget to Vote!

As we hit (about) the mid-way point of the day, please don't forget to vote. This is the one opportunity to participate in the process of democracy. If you haven't registered, show up to your local polling place anyway. Many times they can get you registered on the spot if you've been a resident for 30 days.

It doesn't matter if you are in the minority of an issue. Even if you don't expect to win, you can make a mark for what you support. I know it can be intimidating to run into others who don't agree with you. I can testify that most of my online friends strongly disagree with me in all things political. But that's okay, because I can agree to disagree. We're still friends.

So make your voice be heard. Vote. It will be the best thing you do today.