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Four is Free

Thursday, April 26, 2012
If you haven't heard already, Four is Free! We now have a short story from Four's POV (yes, this IS Divergent's Four we're talking about). Read it now here!

Book Review: Two Crafty Criminals

Two Crafty Criminals!: and how they were Captured by the Daring Detectives of the New Cut Gang
by Philip Pullman

5 stars: Recommended
Publication: May 8, 2012 (Hardback)
Pages: 256
Publisher: Alfred A. Knopf BFYR (imprint of Random House Children's Books)
Buy it: Amazon Hardcopy | Kindle | B&N | Book Depository

Benny Kaminsky and Thunderbolt Dobney lead a rag-tag gang of neighborhood rowdies. Their territory is the New Cut on London's South Bank—a place bristling with swindlers, bookies, pickpockets, and the occasional policeman. And their aim is to solve crimes.

When counterfeit coins start showing up in their neighborhood, Thunderbolt fears his own father may be behind the crime. But his friends devise a way to trap the real culprit. Then the gang takes on the case of some stolen silver. They have just two clues—a blob of wax, and an unusually long match. But even this slippery thief is unmasked by the determined kids of the New Cut.

Filled with silly sleuthing, improbable disguises, crazy ruses, and merry mayhem, these stories are action-packed romps from one of the best storytellers ever—Philip Pullman.

This is literally a book about two criminals, as told in two different stories. And it has been a joy to read about the children of the New Cut Gang and their adventures. The two primary characters are Benny, the leader, and Thunderbolt, a smart kid nicknamed as such after he knocked down a member of another gang.

The members of the New Cut Gang have distinct, merry personalities. The key characters all take a turn at telling their part of the story as needed for the plot to move forward, and it was a pleasure getting to know all of them from Benny and his hyper-active imagination to Thunderbolt's timid nature to the twins and their cleverness.

In fact, each member of the gang is a bit too clever for their own good. They get no amusement from school and instead spend their time searching for adventure. When cases pop up that spark their interest, they will go to all lengths of trouble getting involved, solving detective cases to protect the innocent and getting mixed up in a case of "love phobia" to win a bet.

Readers of all ages will enjoy the misadventures of the New Cut Gang. While told in a different style than Pullman's His Dark Materials trilogy, the fact remains that Pullman is a brilliant storyteller. Two Crafty Criminals has humor, odd heros, and action. I highly recommend reading it if you're looking for a fun read.

Disclaimer: I received an ARC of this book from the publisher. No payment was received in return for a review. The receipt of the book had no influence on the opinions expressed in my review.

Short Hiatus

Wednesday, April 18, 2012
Hey all,

It's the end of the semester, and my professors are all piling projects and papers on us. I'm going to be taking a short hiatus of sorts. I'll probably make a couple of posts here and there, but mostly I won't be around much until early May, after finals.

The Selection: Character Interview with Prince Maxon & Review

Tuesday, April 17, 2012
Today, I'm delighted to share a character interview with Prince Maxon and my review of the book as a part of the tour for Kiera Cass's The Selection!

The Selection
by Kiera Cass

5 Stars: Keeper
Series: The Selection #1
Hardback: 327 Pages
Publication April 24, 2012 by Harper Teen

For thirty-five girls, the Selection is the chance of a lifetime. The opportunity to escape the life laid out for them since birth. To be swept up in a world of glittering gowns and priceless jewels. To live in the palace and compete for the heart of the gorgeous Prince Maxon.

But for America Singer, being Selected is a nightmare. It means turning her back on her secret love with Aspen, who is a caste below her. Leaving her home to enter a fierce competition for a crown she doesn't want. Living in a palace that is constantly threatened by violent rebel attacks.

Then America meets Prince Maxon. Gradually, she starts to question all the plans she's made for herself- and realizes that the life she's always dreamed of may not compare to a future she never imagined.

Character Interview with Prince Maxon

Royalty drops by Imaginary Reads today as we interview with Prince Maxon for the Selection blog tour!

Going into the Selection, did you have any ideas of what you were looking for in a bride candidate? Have your ideals changed since the Selection started?
I know this will sound silly, since I ought to be a bit more confident, but I’m hoping that they just like me. It’s a bit of an awkward situation, only being allowed to ever date these specific girls, so I’m hoping that I can make a connection with a few of them, after that… well, then it gets complicated.

Which girls made the strongest impressions on you after you first talked to them?
Celeste is a very gutsy girl, and I like that. So many of them are simply warm, and that alone is something I value.There is one girl, America. I’m not sure I can talk about our first conversation right now, save to say it was memorable.

Do you have any advice for girls on the best way to win your heart?
Don’t be who you think I want you to be. I want to know your thoughts and opinions, and I only have a short time to learn them, so please be honest with me.

That's great advice for girls everywhere. What are your favorite pastimes?
Mainly hunting and photography. We have an extensive forest behind the palace, and it’s full of deer. And when my thoughts are a bit too scattered, I like the focus hunting requires. I think that’s also why I enjoy photography.

In your opinion, what are the top three most important things for a guy to remember in conducting himself like a prince?
One, manners always count! It’s important to treat women with kindness and respect. Two, it’s better to be silent than stupid.

And three (perhaps this is vain but) style is key. Always put your best foot forward.

Is there somewhere in particular that you would like to visit in the kingdom that you haven't been to before?
I rarely have time to even set foot outside the palace, but I hear we already live in the most pleasant part of the kingdom anyway. Beautiful flora, excellent weather. I certainly can’t complain about life in Angeles. But I’d love to see the east coast.

What traits do you admire the most in your parents?
My father is one of the most determined men in the world. I hope that I can have half his conviction when it’s my turn to lead. And my mother is kind and graceful. I love her heart for other people. I hope that one of the girls here will have those same qualities; I think those make her an excellent queen and mother.


From the moment I saw the cover and the synopsis, I fell in love, and the story itself wowed me. Kiera Cass has constructed a beautifully broken world. On the surface, the kingdom is a gorgeous place with strong, benevolent rulers. However, the kingdom has a caste system of sorts where it is possible for a girl to marry up but which is a fairly rare event in itself. No one wants to move down. This plays an integral role in the novel as it impacts the actions of some key characters.

As much as America doesn't care for the caste system, her mother constantly encourages her to think about marrying up and nags at her to enter the Selection for the good of the family. America is a strong, real character. She thinks for herself and doesn't let societal conventions bias the way she looks at others. I feel that she would make a good leader in most any situation, and indeed she proves herself when the occasion presents itself. Vibrant and emotional, America will appeal to the female heart with her broken heart and strong will to make the most of her life as a participant in the Selection.

From America's first meeting with Prince Maxon, I knew there was going to be something special between them. Both are dealing with their own problems and their friendship gives them a place where they can find peace and get a grip on reality. With each other, they don't have to hide anything. They know where they stand with each other--unlike with America and Aspen. Well into the Selection, Aspen does something that I don't approve of at all. You'll know what I mean when you read about it. If Aspen was right for America, would he do such a thing, putting both of them in danger for a love he'd forsaken once? I'm all for Maxon. He is an amazing guy.

There is much, much more to The Selection than the Selection itself. There are politics of course and rebel groups with very different purposes in attacking the castle. While book one focuses mainly on the beginning of the Selection, book two promises to hold more action. America's heart is going to face more turmoil as well. I absolutely cannot wait to read book two!!

An ARC was provided by Harper Collins for review.

The next stop on The Selection tour will be held at One Page at a Time tomorrow with the Top 10 (Ways to Meet the Man of Your Dreams) + Review. Don't forget to check it out!

About the Author

Kiera's WebsiteFacebook | Twitter
Kiera Cass was born and raised in South Carolina, a proud child of the 80's. By high school, she was a seasoned dancer, diehard theater buff, and in a chamber choir that at one point was tied for third in the nation competitively. She went to Coastal Carolina University majoring in Musical Theatre, and then switched to a History major at Radford University. She currently lives in Blacksburg, VA with her husband and two kids. She spends her free time playing on YouTube and twitter and eating cake.

Review - Croak

Monday, April 16, 2012
Croak (Croak #1)
by Gina Damico

4 Stars: Recommended
Publication:March 20th, 2012 (Paperback)
Pages: 311
Author: Website | Facebook | Twitter  |  Tumblr
Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
Buy it: Amazon | KindleB&N | Book Depository

Sixteen-year-old Lex Bartleby has sucker-punched her last classmate. Fed up with her punkish, wild behavior, her parents ship her off to upstate New York to live with her Uncle Mort for the summer, hoping that a few months of dirty farm work will whip her back into shape. But Uncle Mort’s true occupation is much dirtier than that of shoveling manure.

He’s a Grim Reaper. And he’s going to teach her the family business.

Lex quickly assimilates into the peculiar world of Croak, a town populated entirely by reapers who deliver souls from this life to the next. Along with her infuriating yet intriguing partner Driggs and a rockstar crew of fellow Grim apprentices, Lex is soon zapping her Targets like a natural born Killer.

Yet her innate ability morphs into an unchecked desire for justice—or is it vengeance?—whenever she’s forced to Kill a murder victim, craving to stop the attackers before they can strike again. So when people start to die—that is, people who aren’t supposed to be dying, people who have committed grievous crimes against the innocent—Lex’s curiosity is piqued. Her obsession grows as the bodies pile up, and a troubling question begins to swirl through her mind: if she succeeds in tracking down the murderer, will she stop the carnage—or will she ditch Croak and join in?

A must read for fans of the supernatural. This is a fun, different read that had me hankering for a little of the Grim business in my life. (Truthfully, I think that I would very much want to run away from the dead, but that's the beauty of books. You get to experience what you can't in reality.) The town of Croak is wonderfully constructed. I love it all around from the the names of places to their rules for dealing with tourists to the occupants themselves.

The characters are a bundle of fun, wit, and quirks. Lex is a teenage delinquent with a hyperactive imagination that I admire. She comes up with the most brilliant, funny scenarios. It's hard to believe that she has a hard time dealing with the anger broiling somewhere within her, yet that is the reason she's shipped to Uncle Mort. I did not see Uncle Mort coming. Not his attire or the way he proves to be a danger stranger that can be good for troubled kids like Lex and her fellow reaper misfit Driggs.

Croak is a fun, fast-paced read. It is filled with detailed imagery and passages that will have you laughing outright. Nevertheless, there are also times where the characters get serious--must get serious. Romance brews as Lex and Driggs team up to find out who is behind the mysterious deaths taking place.

Disclaimer: I received an ARC of this book from the publisher. No payment was received in return for a review. The receipt of the book had no influence on the opinions expressed in my review.

Book Review: Two Moon Princess by Carmen Ferreiro-Esteban

Friday, April 13, 2012
Two Moon Princess
by Carmen Ferreiro-Esteban

3 Stars: A Good Read
Publication: April 1, 2007 (Paperback)
Pages: 323
Author: Website
Publisher: Tanglewood Press
Buy it: Amazon | KindleB&N | Book Depository

A Spanish Princess.
An American Boy.
A King set on revenge.

An unrequited love
and a disturbing family secret
bring a World to the brink of War.

In this coming-of-age story set in a medieval kingdom, Andrea is a headstrong princess longing to be a knight who finds her way to modern-day California. But her accidental return to her family's kingdom and a disastrous romance brings war, along with her discovery of some dark family secrets. Readers will love this mix of traditional fantasy elements with unique twists and will identify with Andrea and her difficult choices between duty and desire.

Like many girls, Andrea doesn't want to act like a girly girl. She yearns to be a knight whereas her parents expect her to act like the fourth princess that she is. It is when she crosses over to our world that she finally feels as though she is somewhere she belongs; only, she returns too early and to a home more unfamiliar to her than before, for her actions have become the catalyst for war.

The characters aren't all nice. There are many misunderstandings that could have been resolved if only characters opened up and said what was really on their mind; however, real life isn't easy. When I became frustrated with characters, I asked myself how I would have acted in their positions, and I couldn't hate them as much as I wanted. There is romance. It is sweet; it is bitter. Andreas has her heart broken a couple times.

Two Moon Princess is a coming-of-age story. It is unique and intriguing. It is about growing out of childhood dreams and realizing who you really want to become. War opens Andrea to the brutal reality of knighthood, and she learns more about what she wants to do with her life over the course of the novel. I recommend this for tweens, who will be able to relate to Andrea's struggles relating to her self-identity and getting the people around her to see her for who she really is.

Disclaimer: I received a copy of this book from the publisher. No payment was received in return for a review. The receipt of the book had no influence on the opinions expressed in my review.

Review: Goddess Interrupted by Aimee Carter

Thursday, April 12, 2012
Goddess Interrupted (Goddess Test #2)
by Aimee Carter

3 Stars: A Good Book
Publication: March 27, 2012 (Paperback)
Pages: 304
Author: Website | Facebook | Twitter
Publisher: Harlequin Teen
Buy it: Amazon | KindleB&N | Book Depository

Kate Winters has won immortality. But if she wants a life with Henry in the Underworld, she'll have to fight for it.

Becoming immortal wasn't supposed to be the easy part. Though Kate is about to be crowned Queen of the Underworld, she's as isolated as ever. And despite her growing love for Henry, ruler of the Underworld, he's becoming ever more distant and secretive. Then, in the midst of Kate's coronation, Henry is abducted by the only being powerful enough to kill him: the King of the Titans. As the other gods prepare for a war that could end them all, it is up to Kate to save Henry from the depths of Tartarus. But in order to navigate the endless caverns of the Underworld, Kate must enlist the help of the one person whom she would really rather not meet. Henry's first wife, Persephone.

The Goddess Test wasn't my favorite parafantasy read last year, so I wasn't quite sure what to expect when I read Goddess Interrupted. Happily, there is more action, twists, and thrills in this book than the first. Just as soon as Kate has one issue resolved, a new problems pop up. Aimee Carter takes readers on a roller coaster ride with many sharp twists and turns with an ending that leaves you breathless and ready to line up for more.

That being said, the action was the most interesting part for me, and while I do appreciate good action and plotting, I have to like the characters to really get into the novel. I found it hard to relate to Kate in book one, and that hasn't changed. She pines for Henry and comes back to him despite his need to push her away and treat her coldly after all they've gone through together in book one. It is understandable as perhaps he is afraid to commit to another girl after Persephone, not wanting to hurt either of them yet doing so in the process. I wanted to like Henry with his broken heart and all, but he really could have treated Kate better. She's done so much for him.

I do like Carter's take on Greek mythology. While I'm more into otherworldly fantasies, I love the modern twist on the Greek gods and goddesses. Kate and Henry have a complex relationship that solidifies itself more in this book, something that really needed to happen before they can move on, and other characters are further developed in this book. If interested, The Goddess Legacy (#2.5) and The Goddess Inheritance (#3) will be coming out in installment this year, so be on the lookout for that. There is also a #1.5 The Goddess Hunt if you hadn't heard about it earlier like me.

Disclaimer: I received an ARC of this book from the publisher. No payment was received in return for a review. The receipt of the book had no influence on the opinions expressed in my review.

Series Review: Demon Underground

Wednesday, April 11, 2012
Books in the series: Bite Me (#1), Try Me (#2), Fang Me (#3)
3 Stars: A Good Read
Author: Parker Blue
Publisher: Bell Bridge Books

Title: Bite Me
Pages: 229
Buy it: Amazon, B&N, Book Depository
An edgy book for teens that spans the gap between YA and adult fiction. Life after high school is tough enough without having to go 15 rounds with your inner demon. Val Shapiro is just your ordinary, part-demon, teenaged vampire hunter with a Texas drawl. And a pet hellhound named Fang. Soon enough she finds herself deep in the underbelly of the city, discovering the secrets of the Demon Underground and fighting to save those she loves. Whether they love her back or not.

Title: Try Me
Publication: February 19th 2010 (Paperback)
Pages: 218
Buy it: Amazon, B&N, Book Depository
This part-demon teen vampire fighter and her faithful terrier hellhound are once again patrolling the dark city streets of San Antonio, Texas. Val's hunky human partner, Detective Dan Sullivan, is giving her the cold shoulder since she beheaded his vampire ex-fiancée. Vamp leader Alejandro is struggling to keep the peace between vamps, demons and humans. The mucho powerful Encyclopedia Magicka has been stolen, someone in the Demon Underground is poisoning vamps, and Val's inner lust demon, Lola, is getting very restless since Val's now partnered with sexy Shade, the shadow demon with the blond good looks of an angel.

The second book in Parker Blue's Demon Underground urban fantasy series plunges readers deeper into a heady world of passion, friendship, intrigue and mystery.

Title: Fang Me
Publication: June 1, 2011 (Paperback)
Pages: 330
Buy it: Amazon, B&N, Book Depository
The vampires want it. The demons want it too. And someone is willing to kill Val for it.

Val and Fang have to find the powerful Encyclopedia Magicka before either of San Antonio's warring underworld factions locate it, or the consequences will be deadly for the entire city.

As usual, Val's vampire enemies (they still call her The Slayer,) want her dead, and even some of her fellow demons may be less than trustworthy, since they'd like to grab the legendary book of spells before she does. Val has a personal claim to the Encyclopedia--her demon father left it to her when he died--but someone stole it recently. Where did the thief hide it?

Battling vamps and dodging demons, Val struggles to unravel the mystery. At the same time, she's fighting her attraction to sweet, sexy Shade, her favorite incubus. Rumor has it that Val will lose her half-demon, vampire-fighting powers if she gives herself to him.

With a crowd of vamps and demons out to trick her or kill her, it's not a good time for her to risk her job as the city's best vampire hunter by falling in love. The stakes are high--and aimed right at her heart. But Lola, Val's hungry little lust demon, doesn't like being denied. Will Lola finally get her way?

Val Shapiro is as kickass as her name. She doesn’t let Lola, as she nicknames the succubus within her, direct her life, and she isn’t afraid to take action, especially to protect her family even after all they’ve done to mess up her life. Despite the tough kid attitude, she loves her family, and she’s emotional at heart. There is romantic tension between Val and a couple of hot guys, though she leans towards a one man kind of girl. Val is a caring person despite her tough-girl attitude. She isn't the kind of person to use her powers to create a harem.

The characters are well-rounded as a whole. There are characters that you love to hate and characters that you want to love. The tension between demons and vampires is well played and adds to the plot when Val finds herself working with the vampire Alejandro and his group who claim to want to live in peace with humans.  Like Val, I wanted to believe in Alejandro's cause; yet, I was never quite sure whether or not to trust him.

The series does a great job of filling in the reader on events from and which take place since the last book without being overly redundant. From the first page, I empathized with Val, and the only times I found myself disagreeing with her were times when she's mistreated by people she cares about and she doesn't hate them back. I would definitely recommend this series for the older teen and above audience looking for an urban fantasy with plenty of action and mystery.

Disclaimer: I received an ARC of this book from the publisher. No payment was received in return for a review. The receipt of the book had no influence on the opinions expressed in my review.

Free Four!

Can’t get enough of Four? Dying to hear more from him? If we reach 35,000 preorders of INSURGENT, HarperCollins will release a piece of never-before-seen original writing by #1 New York Times bestselling author Veronica Roth—a pivotal scene from DIVERGENT retold from Four’s point of view!!! Grab the widget, pre-order your copy today (if you’ve already pre-ordered, it counts toward our goal!) and spread the word to your friends. Let’s FREE FOUR, Divergent Nation!

Vote for Us!!

Tuesday, April 10, 2012
Independent Book Blogger Awards voting is now open. Please vote for us!

Independent Book Blogger Awards
Vote for this blog for the Independent Book Blogger Awards!

You can view our entry here

Review - Belles

Belles (Belles #1)
by Jen Calonita

4 Stars: Recommended
Publication: April 10th, 2012 (Hardback)
Pages: 356
Author: Website | Facebook | Twitter
Publisher: Little, Brown & Company
Buy it: Amazon | Kindle | B&N | Book Depository

Fifteen-year-old Isabelle Scott loves her life by the boardwalk on the supposed wrong side of the tracks in North Carolina. But when tragedy strikes, a social worker sends her to live with a long-lost uncle and his preppy privileged family. Isabelle is taken away from everything she's ever known, and, unfortunately, inserting her into the glamorous lifestyle of Emerald Cove doesn't go so well. Her cousin Mirabelle Monroe isn't thrilled to share her life with an outsider, and, in addition to dealing with all the rumors and backstabbing that lurk beneath their classmates' Southern charm, a secret is unfolding that will change both girls' lives forever.

Jen Calonita brings Cinderella to modern times. Izzie lived a rough life, taking care of her grandmother and trying to make ends meet. She had good friends and neighbors, people who respected her and were concerned over her wellbeing. Then a social worker intervenes and sends her to live with a distant relative, and Izzie enters the world of the rich and glamorous. Here, the fairy-tale world takes a twists, and Izzie becomes new girl in a rich private school, threatened by the queen bee whose boyfriend she takes an interest in.

The story is told through the alternating perspectives of Izzie and her cousin Mira, two very different individuals. Izzie is down-to-earth and easy to connect with. Having taken care of her grandmother and herself for some time, Izzie is independent and doesn't easily fall prey to moments of weakness. She cares about people and doesn't let her sudden rich lifestyle get to her head. Mira, on the other hand, is the queen bee's minion. Having lived a privileged life, Mira comes off as a bit conceited and bratty at first. She is afraid to stand up for herself and makes decisions based off what she thinks others will do instead of trying to think for herself. Without her telling part of the story, it would have been hard for me to find something in her to relate to.

Drama, politics, and rumors fly in Belles, with the added charm of a little romance sprinkled in. I grew to love many of the cast. This is a fun contemporary read, a good one to pick up if you're not looking for an especially dark or heavy atmosphere. I definitely recommend picking it up when you get the chance!

Disclaimer: I received an ARC of this book from the publisher. No payment was received in return for a review. The receipt of the book had no influence on the opinions expressed in my review.

Review - The Book of Blood and Shadow

The Book of Blood and Shadow
by Robin Wasserman

5 Stars: Keeper
Publication: April 10, 2012 (Hardback)
Pages: 448
Author: Website | Facebook | Twitter
Publisher: Random House Children's Books
Buy it: Amazon | KindleB&N | Book Depository

It was like a nightmare, but there was no waking up. When the night began, Nora had two best friends and an embarrassingly storybook one true love. When it ended, she had nothing but blood on her hands and an echoing scream that stopped only when the tranquilizers pierced her veins and left her in the merciful dark.

But the next morning, it was all still true: Chris was dead. His girlfriend Adriane, Nora's best friend, was catatonic. And Max, Nora's sweet, smart, soft-spoken Prince Charming, was gone. He was also—according to the police, according to her parents, according to everyone—a murderer.

Desperate to prove his innocence, Nora follows the trail of blood, no matter where it leads. It ultimately brings her to the ancient streets of Prague, where she is drawn into a dark web of secret societies and shadowy conspirators, all driven by a mad desire to possess something that might not even exist. For buried in a centuries-old manuscript is the secret to ultimate knowledge and communion with the divine; it is said that he who controls the Lumen Dei controls the world. Unbeknownst to her, Nora now holds the crucial key to unlocking its secrets. Her night of blood is just one piece in a puzzle that spans continents and centuries. Solving it may be the only way she can save her own life.

From the opening line, Wasserman captivated me with Nora's voice and her story--and with the power of the words themselves, the way Wasserman chooses to present events to us, the readers. It is mysterious and enthralling. There is no need for the story to start with a bang; instead, it builds up for the first hundred or so pages before diving into heart-pounding action.

Nora is intelligence with humor, and her friends are just as engaging. Nora is highly perceptive and acute. Her reflections over events give good insight into what's going on around her without distancing her from the reader. On the contrary, she pulls the reader into her mind and shows them how she perceives the world.

Wasserman kept me guessing and puzzling throughout the entire book. The plot is complex, filled with surprises at every turn. The plot may seem to start out slow, but if you think this way it will hit you before you know it. This has been a brilliantly unique read. I highly recommend getting a copy. You do not want to miss out on it!

Check out the chapter sampler!

Disclaimer: I received an ARC of this book from the publisher. No payment was received in return for a review. The receipt of the book had no influence on the opinions expressed in my review.

Book Review: Rock On

Monday, April 9, 2012
Rock On: A story of guitars, gigs, girls, and a brother (not necessarily in that order)
by Denise Vega

3 Stars: A Good Book
Format: Hardback
Publication: March 5th, 2012
Pages: 296
Author: Website | Facebook | Twitter
Publisher: Little, Brown & Company
Buy it: Amazon | Kindle | B&N | Book Depository

Ori Taylor is the lead singer, guitarist, and songwriter of the Band To Be Named Later, a garage band he started with his friends. After years of being known only as the kid brother of sports star Del, Ori is looking forward to stepping out of his older brother's shadow, learning to perform in public, and rocking the Battle of the Bands contest. Oh, and maybe finally working up the nerve to talk to a girl in person instead of just over e-mail. But when Del suddenly returns from college, he expects Ori to step back into his role of little brother, just when Ori is starting to come into his own.

With his confidence wavering, will Ori be able to overcome his stage fright and lead the band to rock glory? Will the Band To Be Named Later ever get a real name? Will their best performances remain in the garage?

Denise Vega's deft exploration of brothers, bands, friends, and crushes promises to have readers tuning in page after page, because among all the ups and downs of being a teen, one thing's for sure: We all just want to rock on.

This is a fun book filled with music, family, friendship, and teen angst. Ori has lived in his brother's shadow for so long that he doesn't know his own worth, and he is now in the process of growing independent. Ori is a likable narrator. Ori's brother Del has changed since coming home from college, not having been able to handle the change. In order to feel better about himself, Del wants to make Ori look bad just when Ori is trying to create his own identity through his band. At the same time, Ori  trying to find the confidence to stand on the stage in his own right, find a bass player and a name for the band, and talk to the girl he likes. Every teenager has gone through this process of changing, growing independent, and finding one's identity and will be able to relate to Ori. Even Del is relatable in his own way.

It's cute how the story includes blog posts, texts, and emails. They give us insight into how the characters interact with each other and share information. I do feel that it is a bit overdone, at least to maintain my interest. You can't read a chapter or two without coming across digital media as told through print. With the format and the way the story is told, I feel that this is a story more for tween girls. No boy I know would want to pick up this book after reading the synopsis, much less the first page. Older girls might pick up this book for a quick, fun read.

Disclaimer: I received a copy of this book from the publisher. No payment was received in return for a review. The receipt of the book had no influence on the opinions expressed in my review.

Book Review: Pilgrims Don't Wear Pink

Pilgrims Don't Wear Pink
by Stephanie Kate Strohm

Publication: May 8, 2012 (Paperback)
Pages: 204
Author: Website | Facebook | Twitter
Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
Buy it: Amazon Hardcopy | KindleB&N | Book Depository

Libby Kelting had always felt herself born out of time. No wonder the historical romance-reading, Jane Austen-adaptation-watching, all-around history nerd jumped at the chance to intern at Camden Harbor, Maine’s Oldest Living History Museum. But at Camden Harbor Libby’s just plain out of place, no matter how cute she looks in a corset. Her cat-loving coworker wants her dead, the too-smart-for-his-own-good local reporter keeps pushing her buttons, her gorgeous sailor may be more shipwreck than dreamboat — plus Camden Harbor’s haunted. Over the course of one unforgettable summer, Libby learns that boys, like ghosts, aren’t always what they seem.

Libby is a unique character. She is into fashion--she loves shoes and believes in makeup--but she's also very much into history. Let's just say that if I needed help with history, she's the first one I'd ask. Libby's conversations and thoughts are peppered with references to historical movies and books, she knows how to bake and do needlework, and she's good with children.

That being said, Libby also complains when she learns that makeup and cellphones are banned during working hours (to preserve historical accuracy), and her judgment is questionable at times. She swoons over hot guys--one in particular that quotes Shakespeare and acts like a gentlemen, overlooking signs that he may not be her ideal Prince Charming. Nevertheless, while Libby maybe be a romantic Pisces, she has one fiery spirit and takes care of her own problems!

Garret is my favorite character. He's a down-to-earth reporter-nerd out to find the truth behind the reported ghost spotting at Camden Harbor. I love how he keeps pushing Libby's buttons. It's amusing how they deal with each other while ghost hunting on the Lettie Mae. It's obvious that he has a thing for Libby, but she's blind to his affections until it hits her in the face (almost literally).

The story ends with a cute, true realization about teenage love. While this is a light, fun read for the most part, I would not recommend this to younger readers because of the references to Harlequin romances, a small almost rape scene, and some sultry outfits that Libby is made to wear for propaganda.

Disclaimer: I received an ARC of this book from the publisher. No payment was received in return for a review. The receipt of the book had no influence on the opinions expressed in my review.