Monday, May 30, 2011

Mailbox Monday (8)

Here is what was in my Mailbox this week!

I won Enclave from the wonderful blog vvb32 Reads.

I won this A True Princess from the Books from Bleh to Basically Amazing blog. You can see my review here.

I won an e-book of Uncommon Magic from the Fantasy Book Chick blog.

Mailbox Monday is touring at Mari Reads for the month of May.

Random Magic Tour: Pirates! The Parting Glass

May 30
The Parting Glass
Today's the wrap day for Random Magic Tour: Pirates!

As one of the mates - ahoy, matey! - sailing with this crew of
buccaneers, would like to say thank you for visiting the blog on May 10 and 18 and hope you also enjoyed some of the other great blogs on the tour.

I had a fantastic time with this tour. I met some wonderful bloggers and discovered quite a few exciting books. Thank you Lyrika! If you hadn't wandered across my blog I would have missed out on so much fun it is not even funny.
I would also like to thank all of the readers who stopped by, I hope you had a marvelous time!
Thank you to all of my fellow bloggers for sharing so many delightfully piratey things!

For the wrap day of the tour, we’re just going to raise a final pint o’ grog to say thanks for the good company. Smooth seas be ahead o’ye!

(Isn't that the coolest pirate song ever? It has been stuck in my head for the past month!)

Message in a Bottle: visit Liana's Paper Doll Blog to see the Pirate Queen Sasha and read more about her at Moonlight Gleam's Bookshelf.

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Sea Wolves Reading Circle, Part of Random Magic Tour: Pirates!

Ahoy! Welcome to the Sea Wolves Reading Circle. The Sea Wolves are a bunch of swashbuckling bloggers who will be sharing their favorite piratey books with you. Set sail with us and you will be sure to find all manner of piratical adventures.

To start, I would like to introduce you to the handsome and dashing Captain Blood!

Random Pirate Award: Best-Looking Pirate.
Now, who hasn't heard of this most famous of classical fictional pirates? Not that he ever intended to turn pirate, it just sort of happened. There he was, a doctor tending a patient, and then before he knows it he is sent to Jamaica as a slave. His rebellious spirit, however, cannot allow for such circumstances, and so in a daring escape he steals a ship and becomes one of the greatest buccaneers to sail the Seven Seas. Of course, where would such a man be without a lady? And that is where the beautiful, defiant Arabella Bishop comes in, and with all of their mutually professed hatred there is nothing to do but fall in love.
To add to the magnificence of this character, he is portrayed by Errol Flynn in the wonderful, cheesy old movie adaptation!
Captain Blood by Rafael Sabatini can be downloaded for free from Project Gutenberg for your immediate enjoyment.

Random Pirate Award: Most Technologically Advanced Pirate.
Airborn by Kenneth Oppel has it all. Steampunk, a red-headed lady, a supposedly uninhabited island and, above all, flying pirates!

Matt Cruse is a cabin boy on the airship Aurora. Born in the sky, he never wants to leave. Little did he no that this journey was going to be different. The peaceful trip is interrupted by the stubborn, rich Kate de Vries and her unfailing determination to drag Matt into trouble. Compared to her, the pirates almost seem tame.
Airborn is the first in a fantastic YA trilogy that I have read through at least three times and I will definitely be reading them again.

Random Pirate Award: Most Ticklish Pirate
Random Magic by Sasha Soren is a delightfully insane tale with a couple of very piratey adventures.

When faced with quite probable death, the not-so ordinary Henry Witherspoon and the extraordinary Winnie Flapjack make some interesting discoveries as to the sensitivities of villainous pirates.
To see my full review, click here. Give this book a try, you won't regret it!

Random Pirate Award: Most French Pirate
Bloody Jack Faber is a very different sort of girl. Having grown up on the streets, she is resourceful, unscrupulous and completely dishonest. Escaping London, she disguises herself as a boy and joins the navy. Before too long, she finds herself attracted to one of her fellow cabin boys, studying to be a midshipman and encountering (you guessed it!) pirates!
Random Pirate Award: Largest Number of Pirates
Inda (Inda, #1)Inda by Sherwood Smith is one of my favorite novels of all time. At first it may not look like a pirate novel, but I assure you, they are there.  Inda is a prince, but not a particularly important one. He is filled with excitement when he is finally old enough to attend the Academy, where he will be trained in the art of war and how to be a proper Shield for his older brother. However, terrible things happen and Inda is exiled far away from his friends and family. Placed on a ship where no one knows his name, forced to make a new life for himself, he may prove himself to be more formidable than anyone suspected, especially when it comes to fighting pirates! Inda is the first in a series and the second book, The Fox, has even more pirates.

Random Pirate Award: Meanest Pirate
With a cover like this, do I even need to tell you that there are pirates? Not to mention time travel? But I bet you didn't guess that there are Nazis, did you? On the eve of WWII, young Nick McIver discovers an old sea chest containing a time machine and a plea for help from an ancestor that takes him to 1805 where he battles both a villainous pirate and the treacherous French! The sequel to Nick of Time is called The Time Pirate and has even more piratey adventures.

Random Pirate Award: Creepiest Pirate
Castaways of the Flying Dutchman is the story of a mute boy with no name and no family who stows away on a ship to escape starvation and abuse. It is only later that he realizes what kind of ship he is on. A pirate ship. When the crazed Captain Vanderdecken curses heaven and is doomed to sail with his ghostly crew for all eternity, the boy, now named Ben, along with his faithful dog are sent out into the world as immortal wanderers, unable to ever cease their travels. This book has two marvelously piratical sequels: The Angel's Command and Voyage of Slaves.

Random Pirate Award: Most Misunderstood Pirate
 Last but most certainly not least is my very favorite pirate novel of all time, The Sea-Hawk by Rafael Sabatini! Unfairly dwarfed by the more popular Captain Blood, The Sea-Hawk is a magnificent tale of love and betrayal, brothers and lovers, forgiveness and revenge. Sigh, I could probably go on about this book forever. Sir Oliver Tressilian is in love with the fair Rosamund, but there is no love lost between him and her brother, Peter. When Peter is killed (by Oliver's brother, no less) Oliver is the prime suspect. He will not allow anything to happen to his brother Lionel, so he determines to prove his innocence through evidence. However, just when he can accomplish this goal, he is kidnapped under orders from his brother and sold as a galley slave. When the ship he is held captive on is attacked by corsairs, he takes the chance to revenge himself upon his captors and so becomes the notorious pirate Sakr-el-Bahr, the Sea-Hawk. I love this book so much that I recommend that you follow this link directly and download a copy for yourself.

I hope your appetite for piratiness has been properly whetted, because there is more! Check out some chances to win pirate loot here!

Or set sail and find the next Sea Wolf!

Fair seas to you all, my fellow buccaneers!

Friday, May 27, 2011

Book Review #66: Entwined by Heather Dixon

by Heather Dixon
Genre: YA Fantasy / Fairytale / Re-telling
Ages: 12 and up

Publisher Description:
Azalea is trapped. Just when she should feel that everything is before her . . . beautiful gowns, dashing suitors, balls filled with dancing . . . it's taken away. All of it.

The Keeper understands. He's trapped, too, held for centuries within the walls of the palace. And so he extends an invitation.

Every night, Azalea and her eleven sisters may step through the enchanted passage in their room to dance in his silver forest.

But there is a cost.

The Keeper likes to keep things.

Azalea may not realize how tangled she is in his web until it is too late.

My Review:
This is one of my favorite Twelve Dancing Princesses re-tellings ever and that is saying a lot, considering how many I have read and loved. (It is one of my favorite fairytales.) This book is absolutely lovely. In fact, the first thing I noticed was the gorgeous cover. This book is well-written with an original take on an old story. There were moments of sweetness, darkness and beauty that made me smile, laugh and lean in closer.

The characters are wonderful. Azalea was easy to sympathize, as were her sisters and even her father. I loved that the younger girls actually acted their age, unlike so many books where children are precocious or, occasionally, exaggeratedly baby-ish. Lord Bradford was a very likable love interest, though I wish he had a bigger role in the story. As it was, he was the strong and friendly type. :)

Another great thing about this book is that it is nice and thick, a rare thing when it comes to fairytale re-tellings. It is 472 pages long, so I was able to sink into it for hours before it sadly came to an end. Heather Dixon is a new author on the scene, and I really hope she writes more.

Content Ratings: Profanity, Sexuality, and Violence
1 (mild) through 10 (extreme).

There was no profanity in this book.

There was no sexuality in this book, only some kissing. :)

I give this a 4.10 for some fighting, threats and attempted murder.

                               Lieder Madchen

Book Review #65: The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins

The Hunger Games
by Suzanne Collins
Genre: YA Science Fiction / Dystopian
Ages: 14 and up

Product Description:
In the ruins of a place once known as North America lies the nation of Panem, a shining Capitol surrounded by twelve outlying districts. The Capitol is harsh and cruel and keeps the districts in line by forcing them all to send one boy and one girl between the ages of twelve and eighteen to participate in the annual Hunger Games, a fight to the death on live TV. Sixteen-year-old Katniss Everdeen, who lives alone with her mother and younger sister, regards it as a death sentence when she is forced to represent her district in the Games. But Katniss has been close to dead before-and survival.

My Review:
I finally picked up this book because my sister and cousin had both just read it and had mixed feelings about it. After reading it, I have mixed feelings myself. The first thing I noticed upon opening it was that the author has terrible grammar. I wasn't sure if I wanted to finish it but I decided to read at least a few chapters. A few chapters in, I still wasn't sure if I liked it but I had to find out what happened. So I read it all the way through and I am still not sure whether I liked the book but I have to read the others and find out what happens. It is a little weird.

I think that this book is mostly so popular because of its "shock factor." It is violent in a way that is unusual in YA literature. Technically, it is not really any more violent than a lot of other YA and even children's novels that involve wars or other forms of conflict, nor is it more graphic or bloody. It is the form of violence that is different, where ordinary (well, mostly ordinary) kids are forced to kill each other even if they are or could be friends.

Katniss irritated me. Her self-absorption and obliviousness made it hard to like her. Not to mention the fact that she pretended to fall in love as a strategy. She got a little better towards the end, but I still couldn't make myself care for her except for the sake of her family and Peeta. I liked Peeta and the way he retained his soul no matter what happened. He was strong and brave without being as harsh as Katniss and he would try to protect her even when she did not care about him.

I stayed up very late because I had to get to the end of this book to see what happened, but not because I was enjoying it. There is something about the way the author paints a picture of such a cruel and horrible world that makes you keep reading in the hope that something good will happen. I would not particularly recommend this book to anyone, but I have to admit that it was an interesting story.

Content Ratings: Profanity, Sexuality and Violence
1 (mild) through 10 (extreme).

I give it a 1.10 for some mild hints.
There is no sexuality in this book.

There is a lot of violence involving young children, so I give it an 8.10.

                                        Lieder Madchen

Follow Friday (2) and Book Blogger Hop (2)

This is my second Follow Friday (hosted by Parajunkee) and Book Blogger Hop (hosted by Crazy for Books).

This week's question is:
How many books do you read in a week?? And in what format do you read them, or listen to them?

Umm, it depends on the week, but I generally read two or three books a day (depending on the length or how un-putdownable they are), so I would have to go with about 12 books a week. (There are some days when I am too busy with school/family/other stuff to read much at all.)

I read most books in paperback and hardback, but I have a PC Kindle as well as an Adobe Reader (also PC) that I read maybe two or three books a week on.

This week's question is:

What book-to-movie adaptation have you most liked? Which have you disliked?

I really like the Harry Potter and Lord of the Rings adaptations, as well as both the Pride and Prejudice mini-series and movie. I actually liked the Stardust movie adaptation better than the book (which hardly ever happens with me!).

I really didn't like what they did to Eragon. It was a really fun book and they completely destroyed the story in the movie. Another awful adaptation would be The Seeker, based on The Dark is Rising by Susan Cooper. It was a marvelous book and they mangled it. There are quite a few movies in the works for books that I am interested in (Mortal Instruments, Hunger Games, a new Captain Blood, The Hobbit, Airborn, etc., etc., etc.) and I really hope they do a good job on them. They should know by now that people don't like it when their favorite stories are messed up.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

What Would Mrs. Darcy ask? An Interview with Abigail Reyolds & Giveaway

Note from Lieder Madchen: I feel that I must inform you that I had no part in this interview. I received a curious envelope that had been slipped under my door during the night, and within it was a request from a certain literary heroine by the name of Mrs. Elizabeth Darcy asking me to forward a letter to her chronicler, Ms. Abigail Reynolds. It seems that she had heard of my overwhelming obsession with her husband, sorry, her story, and had decided that I could be trusted to make sure the letter was sent to the correct address. After, both ladies graciously allowed me to share the contents of Mrs. Darcy's letter and Ms. Reynold's reply with all of you.

Dear Ms. Reynolds,
It is very kind of you to agree to answer my enquiries as to your versions of my Adventures. My husband has some concerns as to your revelations of his Private Feelings, but I personally find it comforting to know that I am not the only one who appreciates his more Amiable Qualities. I think he believes it to be somewhat Demeaning to his Masculine Pride that he has anything in the way of Tender Emotions. (He still has his occasional Moments of Pigheadedness, but I am working on that.) Well, without Further Ado, here are the questions that have been plaguing my Curiosity.

Mrs. Darcy

Do your writings proceed from the impulse of the moment, or are they the result of previous study? 

In this case it is both, as I have previously studied Miss Austen’s version of your Adventures in great detail, but my own spring from the impulse of the moment (especially for Impulse & Initiative).  A thought will come to me and it will be as if I hear your voice telling me what to write. 

Which of your portrayals of my character do you consider to be the most accurate? I hear such different accounts of myself as to puzzle me exceedingly.

Indeed you must be quite puzzled, since I pride myself in finding new aspects of your personality to explore in each of my books. It is, after all, your own fault for having such depth of character!  I am particularly fond of your characterization in To Conquer Mr. Darcy/Impulse & Initiative for your wit, charm, and willingness to explore the unknown.  It is your characterization in Mr. Fitzwilliam Darcy: The Last Man in the World which often provokes the most comment, usually from readers who claim melancholia would be foreign to your nature.  However, since Miss Austen describes two separate periods of extended melancholia, first when your spirits were low for some time after you received Mr. Darcy’s letter at Hunsford, and secondly when you thought you might never see him again after Lydia’s elopement, a sorrow which caused you as many sleepless nights as your sister’s unfortunate situation.

Are you in love with my husband? I assure you that I would have the utmost sympathy if you are, it is a remarkably easy state in which to find one's self.

It is, indeed, remarkably easy to love your husband, and I can say this from the vantage point of being married to a gentleman very similar to him in temperament and character, though, alas, somewhat less well-heeled. 

Are you by any chance a relation of the invaluable Mrs. Reynolds, housekeeper of Pemberley?

I cannot claim such an honor, although I did choose to borrow her name for my pen name.  Unfortunately, in this modern age it is no longer possible to publish a book as “By a Lady” so we are forced to greater lengths of subterfuge.

How did you begin your career as my chronicler? I can comprehend your going on charmingly when you had once made a beginning; but what could set you off in the first place?

As others have said, I was in the middle of it before I knew I had begun. I was a voracious reader of other chroniclers of your adventures.  When I reached the end of the available chronicles (this being in 2001, when such a thing was still possible owing to the limited availability), I had no choice but to write one of my own. 

It is a truth universally acknowledged that an author in possession of a published work must be in want of another. If I may ask, what scandalous new adventures are you penning at the present?

I am currently exploring what might have happened had you refused to read Mr. Darcy’s letter, as many young ladies might have done given the risk involved with a single lady reading a letter from a single gentleman. Having explored the option, I must say that you made a wise choice in flouting convention to read it.  The title, naturally, will be Mr. Darcy’s Letter.  As for scandalous adventures, why, you could do no better than to read my novella “The Most Natural Thing”, which can be found in my new volume of short stories, A Pemberley Medley.  Once I complete these projects, there are three possible stories I may pursue.  In one of them, you are stranded with Mr. Darcy in the midst of a flood, and in another, Mr. Darcy has the misfortune not to arrive at Ramsgate in time to halt Miss Darcy’s elopement with Mr. Wickham. 

Have you ever considered continuing my story beyond the initial matrimonial bliss of my marriage to Fitzwilliam? There were many hints left in Mr. Darcy's Obsession that I am sure your devoted readers would love to know the truth of.

That is the third book I am considering.  You and Mr. Darcy live through such changing times that events must occur even in the most blissful of marriages. Such a book would explore what happens to Miss Darcy and to her friend and cousin Mary, and the gentlemen who court them.

Are there any other literary figures that have especially caught your attention?

Of late I have heard Captain Wentworth whispering in my ear, and it may come to pass that I will write a book about him.  It is hard, though, for any character to live up to the level of interest provided by you and your husband!

I thank you for honoring me with your questions!

Dear Ms. Reynolds,

I thank you for answering my questions in such a concise and illuminating fashion. I am now convinced that I am one of those Fortunate Beings who has a most Imaginative Chronicler. Mrs. Reynolds was quite flattered by your compliment and turned a lovely shade of rose when I informed her of it. Fitzwilliam seemed quite reassured as to your intentions and (somewhat grumpily) conceded that if someone had to pry about in our private affairs, you were more acceptable than most. I look forward to your upcoming portrayals of myself and my family with great anticipation.

Mrs. Elizabeth Darcy

Ms. Reynolds and her publisher, Sourcebooks, are offering a copy of What Would Mr. Darcy Do? and an e-book of A Pemberley Medley to two fortunate personages. To enter, all you have to do is leave a comment with something nice for Ms. Reynolds and your e-mail address. If you like, you can also say which book you would prefer, but I cannot guarantee that it will be the one you win.
For one extra entry, please spread the word and leave a link in your comment.
This giveaway runs through June 10th.
Good Luck!
   A Pemberley Medley

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Happy Birthday to Me and Happy Towel Day to You


This is an important day on two levels. One, it is my seventeenth birthday and two, it is Towel Day.

All of you will understand the birthday part, another year older, cake, ice cream, presents...actually, I am not planning on having cake. I am celebrating on Sunday with an ice cream banquet and a trip to the theater to see On Stranger Tides. Today, I went to the mall with my cousin and we wandered around drinking coconut mocha frappachinos and chatting while trying on the occasional article of clothing. A lovely way to spend one's birthday. :)

Many things have happened since my last birthday. I sang with a hundred other voices in a concert in Canada and made new friends. I explored Pike's Market in Seattle. I met my first author, a lovely lady by the name of Pamela Aidan who took the time to chat with me. I sang in a Christmas concert. I started this blog. (A big event.) I interviewed my first author. (see here.) I received my first ARCs. I was invited to my first book tour. I got my own internet connection in my room so that Mom could have the family computer to herself. :) I visited the beautiful Leavenworth and marched in a parade. I reviewed more than sixty books. I discovered the absolute delight of having followers who put up with me. I joined Facebook at last.
I have had a lot of fun this year, and I wonder what might come next. :)

Now, for the question some of you (at least a few of you should already know) are probably asking yourselves, what is Towel Day? Towel Day is a holiday where froody geeks like myself celebrate the immortal works of a brilliant comedian.

"You got a towel with you?" said Ford suddenly to Arthur.
Arthur, struggling through his third pint, looked round at him.
"Why? What, no...should I have?"
From The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams
Well, obviously Arthur does not properly understand that a towel is the about most massively useful thing you can possess. However, nerds around the world do believe in this fact and therefore carry their towels everywhere all day long as a declaration of their undying loyalty to the, sadly less undying, Douglas Adams.
I am neither geeky nor brave enough to carry a towel around the mall, but I did tuck a small washcloth into my purse so that I could join the global fun without all of the funny looks I would be sure to receive if I set foot in public wearing my faded old beach towel.

So, have you seen anyone with a towel today and wondered what the heck they were doing? If you did, now you know why.
For more information on this literary holiday, check out these websites: and

Have fun and keep track of your towel!

                                       Lieder Madchen

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Book Review #63: The Betrayal of Maggie Blair by Elizabeth Laird

The Betrayal of Maggie Blair
by Elizabeth Laird

Genre: YA Historical Fiction
Ages: 13 and up
I reviewed this book through NetGalley.

Product Description:
In seventeenth-century Scotland, saying the wrong thing can lead to banishment—or worse. Accused of being a witch, sixteen-year-old Maggie Blair is sentenced to be hanged. She escapes, but instead of finding shelter with her principled, patriotic uncle, she brings disaster to his door.

Betrayed by one of her own accusers, Maggie must try to save her uncle and his family from the king’s men, even if she has to risk her own life in the process.

My Review:
I had very high hopes for this book. It has a beautiful cover and is set in one of my favorite time periods to read about, not to mention it takes place in Scotland, but frankly it was a little disappointing. It took me a long time to actually get into the story and care about any of the characters but, when I did, it was enjoyable enough. I liked it, but I had hoped for more.

I liked Maggie. She is an interesting and human character who grows up so gradually you almost don't notice it, transforming from a shy, frightened girl into a bold young woman. It was easy to sympathize with her fears and frustrations.

None of the minor characters really caught my attention. They were all just a little too predictable and solid, never changing or doing something totally unexpected. I had hoped for something from Ritchie Blair or Musketeer Sharpus, but they fell flat. I could always tell what the villainess was going to do long before she did it.

This book was well-written with a bittersweet story, but I found it to be a little bland. I am not sorry to have read it, but it will never be a favorite of mine.

1 (mild) through 10 (extreme).

There wasn't any swearing, but there were enough insults that I give it a 1.10.

There are some references and innuendos in this book, so I rate it a 3.10.

This book gets a 5.10 for multiple murders and torture. I would have given it a higher rating, but you never actually see anything.

                                    Lieder Madchen

Book Review #62: City of Fallen Angels by Cassandra Clare

City of Fallen Angels
by Cassandra Clare

Genre: YA Fantasy / Paranormal
Ages: 13 and up
Book 4 in the Mortal Instruments series. Also see my review of Clockwork Angel, book 1 of the Infernal Devices series.

Product Description:
The Mortal War is over, and sixteen-year-old Clary Fray is back home in New York, excited about all the possibilities before her. She's training to become a Shadowhunter and to use her unique power. Her mother is getting married to the love of her life. Downworlders and Shadowhunters are at peace at last. And—most importantly of all—she can finally call Jace her boyfriend.
Someone is murdering Shadowhunters, provoking tensions between Downworlders and Shadowhunters that could lead to a second, bloody war. Clary's best friend, Simon, can't help her. His mother just found out that he's a vampire and now he's homeless. Everywhere he turns, someone wants him on their side—along with the power of the curse that's wrecking his life. And they're willing to do anything to get what they want. Not to mention that he's dating two beautiful, dangerous girls—neither of whom knows about the other one.
When Jace begins to pull away from her without explaining why, Clary is forced to delve into the heart of a mystery whose solution reveals her worst nightmare: she herself has set in motion a terrible chain of events that could lead to her losing everything she loves. Even Jace.

Love. Blood. Betrayal. Revenge. The stakes are higher than ever in City of Fallen Angels.

My Review:
Have you ever felt the overwhelming urge to throttle an author simply for ending a book? Well, that is how I felt at the end of City of Fallen Angels. I mean, really, it was shorter than the previous books and did it have to end there??? And I have to wait a whole year before the next one comes out? Grr. I really shouldn't read books in a series until they are all released, but I can't help myself. I must be a masochist.

(Note: Sorry for the above rant, I needed to vent to someone and my sister is still reading City of Glass so I can't vent to her. Yet. Later, maybe we can console each other.)

This book was fantastic. I had heard that Jace was not at his best from other reviewers, but I don't agree. Sure, he wasn't quite as entertainingly sarcastic as usual, but with everything going on in his head, who would be? I would have found it strange if he had been his usual self. As it is, he was even more tormented and vulnerable than ever before. Clary was her lovely, spunky self throughout, supporting her friends with her faith in them even when they didn't have faith in themselves. She seems to be growing up faster than the boys, but then again, if she didn't, who would look after them?

As for secondary characters, one of them has graduated. I don't think Simon counts as a secondary character anymore. From the sweet, friendly boy of City of Bones, he has grown into a complicated (not to mention undead) young man with serious romantic issues. There were some times when I wanted to bash his head against the wall and others where I wanted to give him a hug.

Magnus managed to be entertaining even from hundreds of miles away, which is no mean feat, but I wished that he played a larger part in the story. I like that Alec was developed a bit more, even though he is such a girl sometimes. I really liked Isabelle in this book, even more than before, and I can hardly wait to see what happens with her and a certain someone... :)

The level of teenage-angst in this book was through the roof and well on its way to the moon. Tense relationships and raging hormones exacerbated by near-death get the picture. There were points when I was tearing my hair and mentally yelling at the characters (wouldn't want to yell out loud and frighten the neighbors), ordering them to communicate better. They mostly ignored me, but it was worth a shot.

I am glad that I read Clockwork Angel before City of Fallen Angels, there were several references that I would have missed if I hadn't. However, it raised even more questions about what might happen in Clockwork Prince, which in turn increased my cliffhanger-fueled frustration. Especially those hints about Magnus and Will...hmm.

I would recommend this book to anyone who has read the rest of the series and doesn't mind an oh-so irritating cliffhanger that will keep them grumbling until they can get their hands on City of Lost Souls.

Content Ratings: Profanity, Sexuality and Violence
1 (mild) through 10 (extreme).

This book gets a 4.10 for mild to mid-level swearing.

I rate this a 3.10 for multiple references, innuendos and a scene where certain people lose some clothing.

I give it a 7.10 for several scenes of bloody violence and some disturbing material.

                                        Lieder Madchen

Friday, May 20, 2011

Book Blogger Hop

Book Blogger Hop

Hello! Here is a fun hop that I had been thinking about joining but didn't get around to it until now. :)

Book Blogger Hop is hosted by Crazy for Books.

Today's question is: If you where given the chance to spend one day in a fictional world (from a book), which book would it be from and what place would it be?

Ooh, tough question. So many books, so many worlds....
I am going to have to go with a day in Patricia C. Wrede and Caroline Stevermer's Regency London from Sorcery and Cecelia. I would love to run around with Kate and Cecy, getting into all kinds of magical entanglements and topping it off with a ball where I would dance with the Mysterious Marquis.

                             Lieder Madchen

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Book Review #61: The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones, City of Ashes and City of Glass by Cassandra Clare

The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones, City of Ashes and City of Glass
by Cassandra Clare

Genre: YA Fantasy / Paranormal
Ages: 13 and up

City of Bones Publisher Description:
When fifteen-year-old Clary Fray heads out to the Pandemonium Club in New York City, she hardly expects to witness a murder—much less a murder committed by three teenagers covered with strange tattoos and brandishing bizarre weapons. Then the body disappears into thin air. It's hard to call the police when the murderers are invisible to everyone else and when there is nothing—not even a smear of blood—to show that a boy has died. Or was he a boy?

This is Clary's first meeting with the Shadowhunters, warriors dedicated to ridding the earth of demons. It's also her first encounter with Jace, a Shadowhunter who looks a little like an angel and acts a lot like a jerk. Within twenty-four hours Clary is pulled into Jace's world with a vengeance, when her mother disappears and Clary herself is attacked by a demon. But why would demons be interested in ordinary mundanes like Clary and her mother? And how did Clary suddenly get the Sight? The Shadowhunters would like to know. . .

Note: I am reviewing these three books together because, to me, they make up one story. I only put up the description of City of Bones because it is the first one, and therefore that is the description of the beginning of the story. If I could, I would get this series in one volume and count it as one book. :)

My Review:
I avoided this series for quite a while, looking at it occasionally out of the corner of my eye when I went to the library but never picking it up. I was quite prejudiced against vampires until I read Clockwork Angel and decided that they could be okay. After reading that, I had to get my hands on the Mortal Instruments as soon as possible. It took me perhaps two days to read them all. If anything, I liked them even more than Clockwork Angel.

Jace is perhaps one of my favorite male leads ever. Sure, he is as obnoxious as heck and there are times when I wanted to smack him silly, but he is so swoonworthy. I mean, really. Scarred, sarcastic and strangely vulnerable with only one girl who can touched his heart. Sigh. Like I said, swoonworthy. Plus, he plays the piano.

I loved Clary. Smart and stubborn, she will not let anyone walk over her or control her life. Not Jace, not her mother, not anybody. Her romance with Jace and her relationship with Simon are so marvelously convoluted and at times tragically confused. I spent all of City of Ashes searching for hints and foreshadowing that would reveal Jace's true origins. I mean, really, did anyone actually believe the twist at the end of City of Bones? (I am being deliberately vague for those of you who haven't read the series, those who have will know what I am talking about.)

No matter how magnificent Jace and Clary are, however, they pale in comparison to the force of nature that is Magnus Bane. He is the most fantastic, original, wonderful character I have met in a long time. He is so completely wacky that it was just fun to read everything involving him. Considering the fact that he is a complete opposite to me in every way, I found it very easy to sympathize with him. (Not that I am not wacky, but I would never be caught dead wearing sparkly blue sequins.)

The snappy dialogue in this series is great. There are some truly wonderful exchanges between Jace and Simon, Jace and Clary, Jace and Alec...let's face it. Most of the snappy dialogue involved Jace in one way or another. I am sure he does it for the attention.

After finishing City of Glass, I was rather surprised to learn that there was going to be another book in the series. It seemed to end so perfectly that I am a little worried that City of Fallen Angels might ruin it. However, reading through the series for a second time, I began listing the loose ends in my head and I realized that I really want to know where they lead. Therefore, I am ridiculously excited by the fact that City of Fallen Angels is sitting on the hold shelf at my local library, just waiting for me to pick it up... :)

This is a fun, satisfying YA paranormal fantasy series that I would recommend to readers 13 and up who are not afraid of good-sized novels. (I love the fact that the books are so long. The bigger the better.) Happy Reading!

Content Ratings: Profanity, Sexuality and Violence
1 (mild) through 10 (extreme).

I give these three books a 4.10 for mid-level swearing and insults.

These books get a 2.10 for some references, innuendos and sensuality.

The series, as a whole, gets a 8.10 for bloody violence and some disturbing scenes including the murders of children.

                                 Lieder Madchen

Follow Friday: Quirkiness


This is my first Follow Friday. I had seen this meme on other blogs and thought it looked like fun, so I am finally giving it a try. :)

Q. It's circle time. Time for us to open up and share. Can you tell us FIVE quirky habits or things about you? We all have them...
1. I sing in foreign languages as much (if not more) as I do in English

2. I tend to borrow more books from the library than any human being can be expected to read and then I stay up to ridiculous hours in an attempt to finish them before going to the library again.

3. I hate and despise socks. I am definitely a flip-flops kind of girl.

4. Heat makes me melt (not in a good way) and I love the cold.

6. Polysyllabic words are my passion. I use them to torture my siblings and sometimes even my parents. They say that nobody uses the word "insouciant", well, I do.

Thank you, Parajunkee, for inventing Follow Friday!

                               Lieder Madchen

Book Review #60: Clockwork Angel by Cassandra Clare

Clockwork Angel
by Cassandra Clare

Genre: YA Fantasy / Paranormal / Steampunk
Ages: 14 and up
Book 1 of the Infernal Devices, prequel series to the Mortal Instruments

Product Description:
Magic is dangerous--but love is more dangerous still.
When sixteen-year-old Tessa Gray crosses the ocean to find her brother, her destination is England, the time is the reign of Queen Victoria, and something terrifying is waiting for her in London's Downworld, where vampires, warlocks and other supernatural folk stalk the gas-lit streets. Only the Shadowhunters, warriors dedicated to ridding the world of demons, keep order amidst the chaos.

Kidnapped by the mysterious Dark Sisters, members of a secret organization called The Pandemonium Club, Tessa soon learns that she herself is a Downworlder with a rare ability: the power to transform, at will, into another person. What's more, the Magister, the shadowy figure who runs the Club, will stop at nothing to claim Tessa's power for his own.

Friendless and hunted, Tessa takes refuge with the Shadowhunters of the London Institute, who swear to find her brother if she will use her power to help them. She soon finds herself fascinated by--and torn between--two best friends: James, whose fragile beauty hides a deadly secret, and blue-eyed Will, whose caustic wit and volatile moods keep everyone in his life at arm's length...everyone, that is, but Tessa. As their search draws them deep into the heart of an arcane plot that threatens to destroy the Shadowhunters, Tessa realizes that she may need to choose between saving her brother and helping her new friends save the world...and that love may be the most dangerous magic of all.

My Review:
I loved this book. I picked it up because of the gorgeous cover and because I had heard that it was steampunk. Other than that, I had no idea what I was getting into. I blame this book for the fact that I now read the occasional vampire/werewolf/paranormal novel. By the time I realized that vampires were going to play an important role in the story, it was too late. I was caught. Doomed. I couldn't put it down and before I knew it I was addicted to the works of Cassandra Clare.

Tessa is an absolutely brilliant character. I love the mix of proper ladylike behavior and stubborn bravery. I love the way she loves classical literature and references it all the time. I also love the fact that Will knows all of her references and makes his own.

Will is an extremely dubious fellow. Darkly handsome and mysterious, plus the fact that he is British, well, Welsh anyway, he is an interesting character. The problem is, he also a total jerk. For some hidden reason, he won't let anyone close, and is horrible to anyone who tries. Still, there is hope for him, revealed in brief flashes of tenderness and humanity.

The secondary characters in Clockwork Angel are lovely. Jem, Sophie, and even the bratty Jessamine are all interesting and likable in their own ways. I loved Henry. I would have liked to see more of him, but there is always book two...

The plot is dark with a delightfully dreary, Victorian feel to it. Murders, disappearances, strange magical abilities, untrustworthy businessmen, equally untrustworthy Downworlders and some extremely irritating Shadowhunters combine to make an adventure that is part Charles Dickens, part Sherlock Holmes, part...actually, I can't think of any other paranormal author that can quite be compared to Cassandra Clare. Anyway, it is wonderful.

I recommend this book to lovers of dark fantasy, YA paranormal, Victorian mysteries and star-crossed lovers. My only real problem with this book is the fact that Clockwork Prince doesn't come out until December. (Grr.)

Content Ratings: Profanity, Sexuality and Violence
1 (mild) through 10 (extreme).

I give this book a 4.10 for some middle-level swearing and insults.

This book gets a 2.10 for some references and innuendos.

There are several scenes of violence and murder in this novel, so I rate it a 7.10.

                                          Lieder Madchen

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Random Magic Tour: Pirates! Bonus: Color-Me-Pirate

Random Magic Tour: Pirates!
Bonus: Color-Me-Pirate
May 18 (Songs and Stories)

Here be a fun pirate game to play during Random Magic Tour: Pirates! if ye’d like to experiment with a cheery palette of colors and some cool pirate looks. The world of Random Magic is a vivid place, painted in bold and brilliant colors. The characters of Random Magic are just as colorful, from their off beat personalities right down to the clothes they wear, including the crew of bloodthirsty pirates that our heroes (Winnie and Henry) meet on their sea journey. Yes, even the pirates are a bit over the top, including the dastardly-- and decorative-- Captain Jack:

Winnie and Henry sat uncomfortably on a rotten barrel, under the baleful eye of Captain Jack. The king of sea thieves was decked out in eye patch, peg leg, curly black hair, and big floppy hat with a floofy ostrich feather, as if he’d stepped out of a coloring book about pirates.

Shown above: Quote from Random Magic by Sasha Soren. If you’d like to know a little more about the story, the book trailer is right here:

Shown above: Random Magic, by Sasha Soren.
Find Random Magic: AmazonKindle

In the meantime, here’s a fun little diversion on Random Magic Tour: Pirates!, feel free to play with colors and fashion as long as you like, in this cheerful Color-Me-Pirate widget.

 How to play: You’re presented with a pirate and a selection of clothing and colors to use, and the sample wardrobe items are shown above. When you’re using the actual widget, you’ll see these items on your screen. Just click on the item to add to your pirate, or click on the color you’d like to use for your pirate’s hair, eyes, and so on. Here’s a quick sample image, to see what your pirate might look like:

And here’s the link, so you can make your own! Play Color-Me-Pirate!

If you’d like to find more cool piratey things, feel free to join us on the tour, there’s a lot going on --features about pirate grub, gear and eats, music and games, a great art series called Queens of the Sea, an interesting series on pirate queens, lots of prizes and a fun treasure hunt. Set sail with us! Browse the tour schedule. Here's another interesting tour feature you might also enjoy:

The main Rum + Plunder treasure hunt is open internationally! Here’s a fun way to win something piratey and cool: Browse prizes or join the hunt…

 Bonus: Find even more pirate plunder, with Little Pirate Prizes, these aren't marked on the schedule and they're not part of the hunt, but they’re out there for visitors to find and they could be ANYWHERE. Find some Little Pirate Prizes .

Have fun and good luck!

Random Magic Tour: Pirates! May 18 Feature: Finding Starboard

Random Magic Tour: Pirates!
May 18 Feature: Finding Starboard


 Ahoy, matey! For this stop on Random Magic Tour: Pirates!, we’ll share a quick read to help us find our way around a pirate ship - or just about any sailing ship. Several scenes in Random Magic take place on ships, including this one:

‘Ughhhhh,’ Henry groaned, holding his nose. His hand came awaywet. He looked down. Blood. He staggered towards the pile of torncanvases piled along the other railing. Maybe there’d be something hecould use to mop up the blood. The rising wind slammed the loosened sails against the masts of theship, until the t’gallant of the main mast snapped in half, hurtlingdown towards him. He pressed back against the mast as the crow’s nestslammed into the forrard deck, shattering into splintered wood. The mooring links on the foremast sail broke free, and the slide ofheavy canvas whipped downwards, beating against the wind like awounded bird of prey. He’d have to cut it free… No. No time.

So, what’s a crow’s nest or a t’gallant and where can they be found on a pirate ship? We’ve got answers! A t’gallant (topgallant) would be near the top of a mast. Usually there’d be three masts, those are the upright poles, let’ssay, making a place for rigging and then the sails. Masts would look like this, see ‘em?:

Shown above: Diagram (#1), Parts of a ship.
And a t’gallant is near the very top of the mast. In the quote from Random Magic,
‘The rising windslammed the loosened sails against the masts of the ship, until thet’gallant of the main mast snapped in half…,’
we can tell that if the rising winds are strong enough to damage the uppermost part of the mast on this particular ship, well, that’s one heck of a storm for the ship to be caught in. Partly a supernatural tempest, too - in this case…There’s a photo of a t’gallant (topgallant mast) here:
File:Balclutha main topgallant mast.jpg

Shown above: Contemporary t’gallant.
There’s a quick explanation about rigging, here, and here’s a quick bit from that page of rigging information, specifically discussing the placement of a topgallant or t’gallant:
A fully square rigged mast consists of three spars - the lowermast, the topmast, and the topgallant mast. The rig has at least threesquare sails: the course on the lower mast, the topsail on the topmastand the topgallant sail on the topgallant mast.
So, you know what a mast is and what it looks like. You know what the t’gallant bit of a mast is and where it’s located. Now, the next bit of the quote from Random Magic talks about a crow’s nest and a forrard deck. Forrard - that’s easy, it’s just an alternate way to say ‘forward.’ In nautical usage, anyway. So, the forrard deck - what’s a deck? What you’d be standing on. The part underneath all the rigging and sails, like a living room floor,the first flat bit, there’s your deck. If the ship was caught up in rough waters or a storm and someone yelled, ‘All hands on deck,’ well, the deck’s where the action happens.
File:Vasa-weather deck view.jpg
Shown above: Deck view of the warship Vasa, Vasa Museum, Stockholm, Sweden
And the forrard part of the deck, then, would be the forward part of the deck - at the front of the ship, rather than at the back of theship. Actually, the forrard part of the deck even has its own name, the forecastle, also spelled 'fo'c'sle.' Here’s a great painting illustrating a crew hard at work during a storm - all hands on deck!

Shown above: Hoisting The Upper T'Gallant, John Michael Groves, pastel. Date unknown, depicts scene from 1900s (Via: Tall Ships gallery, More works by this artist: Screensaver and exclusive prints.
 Now, to continue with the Random Magic quote,
‘He pressed back against the mastas the crow’s nest slammed into the forrard deck, shattering intosplintered wood.’
What’s a crow’s nest? It’s a look-out spot on the ship, usually built out from an elevated spot on the main mast. Before the invention of radar, the best way to spot approaching hazards, like land, storms, other ships and so on - or pirates! - was just to get to one of the highest points available and have a look around. So, that’s what seafarers did. The structure itself might’ve been just a barrel or basket for the sailor to sit in, to offer some protection against the possibility of being flung from the mast during a sail through rough waters. Contemporary ships might have something more sophisticated, a special platform, but still with some kind of protective railing or screen.
File:StateLibQld 1 214520 Christmas greeting card showing two boys waving from the crow's nest of a ship.jpg
Shown above: Vintage greeting card, the illustration shows two young fellows waving from the crow’s nest of a ship. Boy, oh, boy - are theygonna be grounded.
And why was it designated a ‘crow’s’ nest? The origin of the term, like a lot of maritime lore, has an interesting back-story:
The crow was an essential part of the early sailors' navigation equipment. These land-lubbing fowl  were carried on board to help the navigator determine where the closest land lay when the weather prevented sighting the shore visually. In cases of poor visibility, a crow was released and the navigator plotted a course that corresponded with the bird's because it invariably headed toward land. The crow's nest was situated high in the main mast where the look-outstood his watch. Often, he shared this lofty perch with a crow or two since the crows' cages were kept there: hence the ‘crow's nest.’ (Origin of Navy Terminology, via the Navy Department Library)
In the quote from Random Magic, then, the storm was violent enough that the wind tore down the crow’snest and smashed it down onto the deck below. So far, you’ve already learned about these parts of a ship -t’gallant, crow’s nest, forecastle (forward deck) - and can pick these out, now, if you happen to see a ship at harbor. We can’t cover all the parts of a sailing ship, or this feature would be really long. But here’s another diagram showing some additional info on the various parts of a ship: 
Shown above: Diagram (#2), Parts of a ship.
There’s just enough time to cover one more basic thing - a quick way to orient yourself when you first step aboard. It’s simple if you keep four directions in mind. The four directions, like the main four points on a simple compass (North, South, East, West), would be ahead and behind you, to the left and right of you, that should keep things simple. The bow: That’s the front of the ship. The stern: That’s the back of the ship, the part behind you, when you’re facing the bow. Port side: Face the bow - port side is to your left. Starboard: Face the bow - starboard is the side to your right. You can remember where the bow happens to be, if you think of taking a bow to an audience. Where’s the audience? In front of you. There are also other ways to remember the difference between port side and starboard. It might help to first understand the history of both terms - here’s a quick definition of ‘port side,’ viaWikipedia:
Port side: An archaic version of ‘port’ is larboard. The term larboard, when shouted in the wind, was presumably too easy to confuse with starboard and so the word port, and phrase ‘port side’ came to replace it.
File:Spanish Galleon Firing its Cannon.jpg
Shown above: Spanish galleon firing its cannons. Date and artist unknown. View of the ship is the port side. Derived from the practice of sailors mooring ships on the left side at ports in order to prevent the steering oar from being crushed.(Wikipedia) Here’s more on the possible origin of the term ‘larboard,’ and the later use of the term ‘port side,’ from a nautical history fact sheetprovided by the NMM (National Maritime Museum, UK):
In Old English, the term was bæcbord, perhaps because the helmsman at the steorbord had his back to the ship’s left-hand side. This did not survive into Medieval and later English, when ‘larboard’ was used. Possibly this term is derived from laddebord, meaning ‘loading side’;the side rudder (steorbord) would be vulnerable to damage if it went alongside a quay, so early ships would have been loaded (‘laded’) with the side against the quay. In time laddebord became larboard, as steorbord became starboard. Even so, from an early date ‘port’ was sometimes used as the opposite for starboard when giving steering orders, perhaps deriving from the loading port, which was in the larboard side. However, it was only from the mid-19th century that, according to Admiral Smyth’s The Sailor’s Word Book, published in 1867, ‘the left side of the ship is called port, by Admiralty Order, in preference to larboard, as less mistakeable in sound for starboard’. (NMM)
Shown above: Wooden model ship depicting a Spanish galleon, MuseoStorico Navale di Venezia (Naval History Museum) in Venice, Italy.View of the ship is the starboard side.
Starboard: Before ships had rudders on their centerlines, they were steered by use of a specialized steering oar. This oar was held by an oarsman located in the stern (back) of the ship. However, like most of society, there were many more right-handed sailors than left-handed sailors This meant that the steering oar used to be affixed to the right side of the ship. The word starboard comes from Old English steorbord,literally meaning the side on which the ship is steered, descendant from the Old Norse words stýri, meaning ‘rudder’ and borð, meaning‘side of a ship.’ (NMM)
So, back to bowing to the audience - you’re facing the front (bow) of the ship. The producer of the show is behind the scenes, looking stern (the back of the ship.) It’s boring being a star, so even though you’re standing there waving (most likely with your right hand - sorry, lefties!), you’re really bored. You’re a star and you’re bored, doing a limp royal wave. Starboard - the right hand side of the ship.

Shown above: The royal wave, translated: We are a star and we are so bored. And in the meantime you’re making small talk, with a glass in the other hand - and it has some port in it. Port side - the left side of the ship when facing the bow. There, all done! For the lefties, it might just be easier to remember,‘Star light, star bright, starboard is to the right.’ If the whole ‘star light, star bright’ doesn’t really stick in your head, can always memorize a music tune about the difference between port side and starboard. Well, look here! There just happens to be a cute music video out there about this very topic. How very fortuitous:

Shown above: Port Side, by Captain Bogg and Salty. There we are - next time you find yourself aboard a ship, you’ll know a little bit more about where you are and what things are called. You already know what all of these mean: Bow, stern, port side,starboard, t’gallant, forecastle (forward deck), crow’s nest, and the masts. Don’t believe you could learn that much in just five minutes? Give yourself a pop quiz, you’ll see:

Shown above: The Straits of Hormuz, John Michael Groves. Year and medium not indicated.(Via: In the image above, take a look at the ship on the left - what are you seeing, from your point of view as an observer? That’s right, the stern. Now, the ship in the center, what are you seeing? That’s right, portside - plus the main mast, the deck, can also point out where the forecastle is and where the t’gallant and crow’s nest are likely to be. Lastly, the ship all the way on the right, what are you seeing? That’s right, the bow of the ship is the first thing you see, and just a bit of - yes, the starboard side just coming into view. Hope you enjoyed reading about the different parts of sailing ships and have fun exploring the topic.

Feel free to visit the rest of the tour to read some other cool features about ships, trips and, above all, pirates!
RandomMagic Tour: Pirates! Browse Scedule.

If you’d like to know more about Random Magic, feel free to check out the trailer above, or pick from one of these delicious Random Magic links. There might or might not be pirates involved, but for sure there’ll be fun!

Image credits: Diagram 1 - 2 
Image credits: Header image or header image