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Princess Bride

[The Eager Readers] Flower Friday - Mimosa

Posted on 2010.08.13 at 22:59
This week's featured flowers are from one of our flowering trees -
Mimosa! This fast-growing deciduous tree has lovely petal-less, pink
flowers that bloom all summer long. The flowers have a distinctive
sweet fragrance. The feather-like bipinnate leaves are silvery green on
top and bright green underneath. They fold inward at night and remain
open during daylight hours. Mimosas have smooth greyish bark, an airy
branching habit, and grow to around 30 feet tall. They bloom well in
full sun, and butterflies and birds seem to enjoy the soft pink
flowers. This tree is very easy to grow. In fact, while it is not
considered an invasive species where we live, it is apparently
considered invasive in warmer regions. If you would like to learn more
about mimosa trees (also known as Silk trees or Persian Silk trees),
check out Dave's Garden's Mimosa tree page, Garden Guides' Mimosa tree
page, or Wikipedia's Mimosa tree page.
A few book and blogosphere updates:
1. Novel Novice is hosting a steampunk writing contest in honor of
Cassandra Clare's Clockwork Angel. Five winners will receive finished,
hardcover copies of Clockwork Angel as well as a Clockwork Angel
journal and poster. Very cool! There are two ways to enter - by
submitting a short story with steampunk elements or by submitting a
description of your idea for a steampunk-era device. The contest ends
8/31, and you can learn more about it here.
2. If you want to read Alex Flinn's Beastly before the movie adaptation
hits theaters next March, you can read the first eleven chapters online
for free courtesy of HarperTEEN's awesome Browse Inside feature. It can
be found here.Looking for more fun reading online? Amazon's 'Look
Inside' feature will now allow you to read the first forty-eight pages
of Lisa Desrochers' Personal Demons. You can check that out here.
3. The Mundie Moms will be chatting with Michelle Zink, the author of
Prophecy of the Sisters and Guardian of the Gate, at 8 pm CST on
Thursday (8/19). You can stop by and join that chat by visiting the
Mundie Moms' blog.

The Book Blogger Hop is hosted by Jennifer at Crazy for Books, and it
is a terrific way to connect with other book bloggers and readers. You
can join the Hop by clicking on the image to the left. This week's
question is:1. How many books do you have on your 'to be read' shelf?On
my actual shelves, I have around 50 books waiting to be read. On my
virtual shelves, I have around 200. I don't imagine my TBR shelf will
ever be empty, but that just means there are always lots of fabulous
worlds waiting to be explored & I wouldn't want it any other way. :)
This fun meme is hosted by Froggarita's Bookcase. Every Friday
Froggarita asks five questions so we can all get to know each other
better. The only rule is that you can't use the same answer twice
within your five! Ready to play? Leave your answers in the comments or
leave us a link to your own Friday's Fab Five post.
1. What new TV shows starting this fall are you excited to watch?I'm
curious to check out Running Wilde.
2. Which returning shows are you excited to see?Glee, Castle, Modern
Family, How I Met Your Mother, and Project Runway
3. Do you ever look for spoilers for your favorite TV shows? If so
where?I've listened to a few Glee songs on YouTube before the episodes
4. Has one of your favorite shows been cancelled? If so which one?Not
this year, but several of my favorites have been cancelled in past
years. Pushing Daisies is the most recent show that I was sad to see
5. Is there a character on one of your favorite shows that you just
wish they would kill off the show? If so which one? Hmm... I'm not sure
if this counts because she is technically not a character. But So You
Think You Can Dance is one of my favorite shows, and I would enjoy
seeing Mia Michaels leave the judging panel (where she annoys me) and
return to choreography (where I was impressed by her work).

Title: WillowAuthor: Julia Hoban
Publisher: Speak (Penguin)
Genre: YA
Paperback: 336 pagesISBN: 0142416665Summary from Goodreads:
Seven months ago, on a rainy March night, sixteen year- old Willow’s
parents died in a horrible car accident. Willow was driving. Now her
older brother barely speaks to her, her new classmates know her as the
killer orphan girl, and Willow is blocking the pain by secretly cutting
herself. But when one boy—one sensitive, soulful boy—discovers Willow’s
secret, it sparks an intense relationship that turns the “safe” world
Willow has created for herself upside down.
Told in an extraordinary fresh voice, Willow is an unforgettable novel
about one girl’s struggle to cope with tragedy, and one boy’s refusal
to give up on her.

Overall rating: 7/10To buy this book: IndieBound | The Book Depository
| Powell's | AmazonAdd this book to your: Goodreads | Shelfari |
Library Thing | Visual Bookshelf

Julia Hoban's Willow is the story of a teenage girl who has turned to
cutting as a means of avoiding the intense grief and pain she feels
regarding her parents' tragic death. Willow takes the first few steps
out of her emotionally-guarded comfort zone as she begins to let Guy, a
student who shares her interest in books and anthropology, get to know
her. But will these new emotions bring her guilt and heartache flooding
to the surface and drive her toward a dangerous breakdown? Or will
Guy's interest in her welfare help Willow acknowledge her pain, forgive
herself, and make healthier choices?

What I Liked:
- This book is the first full novel I've read about cutting, and I
found it both heartbreaking and enlightening. The author treated the
subject with an honest realism that helped give me a totally new
understanding of the self-destructive behavior that I'd previously
associated with reckless desperation rather than as a means of
self-preservation.- I liked that Willow's strained relationship with
her brother played such a significant roll in the story. YA novels
don't explore teenage protagonists' interactions with their adult
siblings very often, and I enjoyed seeing that explored extensively in
this book. Since their parents' death, Willow's brother has quietly
withdrawn from their former relationship, and neither of them is able
to share their pain with the other. Instead, he has silently taken on
the roll of her guardian and outwardly left the memory of their parents
behind. I found their relationship believable and moving.
- Guy makes a very compelling and lovable romantic hero. He is an avid
reader who truly listens to Willow and desperately wants to help ease
her pain and to protect her from her own self-destructive habits. He is
protective but not controlling, and the more he gets to know Willow the
more he comes to care about her. Their romance is of the slow-building,
friendship-based variety, and he really is an endearing character.
- The high school and college campus settings feel realistic, as do the
secondary characters who each have their own set of pressures and
challenges to deal with. Every moment with David and his wife and
daughter felt particularly genuine and relatable, and Willow's
classmates and co-workers also had believable dialogue and their own
distinct motivations and personalities.
- I enjoyed the allusions to Shakespeare's The Tempest, and I enjoyed
all of Guy and Willow's conversations at the library.
- The final sentence of this novel is excellent.

What I Wished:
- I wish this book had been written in a different narrative style
because I find third person, present tense very awkward to read. Unless
the book is a suspenseful thriller, third person, present tense
narratives tend to seem unnatural and distracting to me. I read this
book aloud to my husband, and unfortunately third person, present tense
narratives start to sound unpleasantly like melodramatic Dick and Jane
books when read aloud. A few scattered quotes from p. 58 & 59: "Willow
closes the book with a sigh."..."..Willow is overcome by a wave of
loneliness."..."Willow smiles a little."..."Willow sits up and stares
at the other girl in disbelief."..."Willow shakes her head."..."Willow
isn't stupid."..."Willow rummages through her bag in search of her
library ID." Too much Willow this and Willow that and simply not enough
tension to justify the present tense narrative for 336 pages. Plus, the
third person point-of-view puts an awkward separation between the
reader and the protagonist, almost as if you are hearing a sports
reporter calling the shots in a game rather than immersing yourself in
a story and getting to know the characters. It may have been intended
to reflect Willow's own detachment from her life and emotions, but I
think that a first person, present tense narrative would have made this
story more of a page-turner.- I wanted the heroine to be more likable.
I sympathized with Willow's grief and understood the reasons she pushed
people away, but her bitter, pessimistic attitude and her self-absorbed
nature occasionally made this book feel like a bit of a chore to read.
While I could see that her self-loathing and paranoid nature were
critical to telling this story about a grieving girl on a long and
difficult journey toward recovery, I was sometimes tempted to set
Willow aside just to take a break from her bleak attitude. - *spoiler
ahead* (scoll over the following text to read it) I felt that the story
would have been stronger if Guy hadn't expected that their having slept
together would make such a sudden difference where Willow's cutting was
concerned. After all that he had been through with her, it seemed like
an odd assumption for him to make. While I enjoyed the underlying theme
about the redemptive nature of opening yourself up to love and felt
that Guy and Willow having sex fit comfortably within the context of
the story, I was not so receptive to the concept of sex somehow having
a disproportionately powerful impact on decreasing Willow's reliance on
her self-destructive behavior. - Overall, I would say that the issue of
cutting was handled thoughtfully throughout this book, but choosing to
have the healing power of love be the protagonist's primary method for
working toward a healthier future seemed to weaken the story a bit for
me. I don't mean to imply that authors have any responsibility to make
their protagonists roll models because I truly don't believe they are
under any obligation to do so. But I personally would have enjoyed this
story's conclusion more if Willow had begun to make a wider variety of
proactive choices toward leaving cutting behind her. I did feel that
the portrayal of her character and her decisions was an honest one, and
I appreciated that the changes she chose to make happened gradually and
realistically. I am sure there are many cutters out there who could
benefit from knowing that they are not alone and reading about a
character who shares their compulsion to indulge in self-mutilation as
a means of self-preservation, but I felt that having the final hopeful
element of this story rely so heavily on stumbling across the perfect
boy who will love you and push you toward a healthier lifestyle limited
this book's impact. I hope that people struggling with such
overwhelming pain won't pin their hopes on waiting around for Prince
Charming, but will seek out help in other ways too - confiding in
friends, family members, or counselors, or calling a crisis hotline
such as 1-800-DONT-CUT which is the S.A.F.E (Self Abuse Finally Ends)
Alternatives hotline.

Willow is about a girl who is overwhelmed by her grief. She deals with
her grief in a self-destructive way, and her cutting habit is not
glossed over but is described in explicit detail. The author handles
the topic with honesty and a blunt realism, so this may not be the book
to pick up if you are looking for a cheerful narrator or
neatly-resolved happily-ever-after ending. On the other hand, if you
are interested in reading about a touching romance, if you would like
to learn more about what motivates some people to rely on cutting, or
if you enjoy the realism of hopefully-ever-after endings, then this
book might suit your interests perfectly. I found Willow to be a
difficult heroine to like, but the romantic elements of the story were
compelling, and I was pleased to see Willow begin to take steps toward
recovery by the end of the book. Despite the difficulties I had with
the narrative style, it is virtually impossible not to see this story
through to the last page once you've become invested in the characters.
And this book has a fantastic last line.

A signed copy of Richelle Mead's Vampire Academy
Richelle Mead's Vampire Academy is the first book in a fantastic YA
urban fantasy series! If you like urban fantasy books with delicious
romantic tension, then this series is definitely for you! If you enjoy
reading about brazen, snarky heroines who are more like Buffy than
Bella, then Rose Hathaway is the protagonist for you. I devoured the
first five books in this series and can't wait to read the sixth and
final book! By the way, Last Sacrifice's release date is now less than
four months away! YAY! Not that I am counting down the days or
anything. . . ;-) I feel fortunate to have had the opportunity to meet
Richelle Mead last night, and I am so excited to have picked up a
signed copy of Vampire Academy to give away to one of our followers
here on The Eager Readers. To see my photos and videos from the
Richelle Mead book signing click here. Candace and I attended the event
together, and she will be giving away a signed copy of Vampire Academy
on her blog too, so you can double your odds of winning a signed copy
by entering both giveaways.

Vampire Academy summary:

St. Vladimir’s Academy isn’t just any boarding school—it’s a hidden
place where vampires are educated in the ways of magic and half-human
teens train to protect them. Rose Hathaway is a Dhampir, a bodyguard
for her best friend Lissa, a Moroi Vampire Princess. They’ve been on
the run, but now they’re being dragged back to St. Vladimir’s—the very
place where they’re most in danger. . . .

Rose and Lissa become enmeshed in forbidden romance, the Academy’s
ruthless social scene, and unspeakable nighttime rituals. But they must
be careful lest the Strigoi—the world’s fiercest and most dangerous
vampires—make Lissa one of them forever.
Contest Details:
The prize: A signed paperback copy of Vampire Academy by Richelle Mead
The deadline: August 31st at 11:59 pm (PST)
How to Enter:Fill out the form below.+1 for following The Eager
Readers *required*+1 for tallying your entries *required*(This contest
is open to US residents only. Sorry! Our other August contest is open
to our international followers, click here to enter that contest.)
Extra Entry Opportunities:+1 for every place you help spread the word
about this contest (Up to +3)+1 for commenting on our Richelle Mead
book signing report HERE+1 for entering Candace's Vampire Academy
giveaway HERE

Richelle Mead
Last night I attended a Powell's book signing event featuring the
fabulous Richelle Mead! It was awesome to meet her and to hear more
about her writing process and upcoming projects. She read a bit of
Spirit Bound (Vampire Academy #5), answered several questions from the
audience, and signed lots of books! If you would like a signed copy of
Vampire Academy, be sure to check out our giveaway post this evening.
Candace from Candace's Book Blog will also be giving away a signed copy
of Vampire Academy, so you can enter both contests to double your
odds. :-)

Rather than summarize the whole event for you, I decided to record
Richelle's Spirit Bound reading and most of her Q & A session to share
with you guys. (My apologies for the shaky camera work and my noisy
camera that creaks and clicks while attempting to focus.) You can find
all seven clips on TheEagerReaders' YouTube Channel.
Part 1 - Richelle responds to a question about whether her characters
are based upon real people. She describes the inspiration for Abe's
wardrobe in her Vampire Academy series. She also answers a question
about whether she would rather be a Dhampir, a Moroi, or a Strigoi.
Part 2 - Richelle responds to a question about which scenes she enjoys
writing the most. She also discusses the challenges of working on a
scene repeatedly throughout the editing process.
Part 3 - Richelle talks about the possibility of a Vampire Academy
movie now that the film rights have been optioned. She describes how
little input authors have in the movie-making process once the rights
are sold.
Part 4 - Richelle responds to a question about why she chose to have
her vampires hail from Russia and Romania.
Part 5 - Richelle discusses the way short story anthologies typically
come together and mentions her story about Lissa's parents in the
upcoming Kisses from Hell anthology.
Part 6 - Richelle responds to a question about where she gets the ideas
for her books & mentions a metal dragon sculpture she recently stumbled
across in Leavenworth, Washington that captured her interest.
Richelle reads an excerpt of Spirit Bound (Vampire Academy #5). This
excerpt is from chapter three, and Richelle pauses part way through the
excerpt to explain a bit more about how Rose came to be eating a
popsicle in that scene. :-)

The Vampire Academy series is one of my favorite discoveries this year!
I don't know how it took me until May to pick up the first book, but as
soon as I finished the first book I couldn't wait to devour the other
four. It is definitely in the running for the most addictive series
I've read all year. Rose is a fantastically tough and snarky heroine,
her best-friend Lissa is charismatic and complicated, and the guys in
this series are DELICIOUS! If you haven't picked up the Vampire Academy
series yet, you may want to read the first five books before the sixth
and final book, Last Sacrifice, is released December 7th. To learn more
about the Vampire Academy books or Richelle's two adult urban fantasy
series, visit Richelle's website, blog, facebook, or twitter.
Vampire AcademyBuy it: IndieBound | The Book Depository | Powell's |
Amazon | B & N Add it to your: Goodreads | Shelfari | Library Thing |
Visual BookshelfFrostbite - Vampire Academy #2Buy it: IndieBound | The
Book Depository | Powell's | Amazon | B & N Add it to your: Goodreads |
Shelfari | Library Thing | Visual Bookshelf

Shadow Kiss - Vampire Academy #3Buy it: IndieBound | The Book
Depository | Powell's | Amazon | B & NAdd it to your: Goodreads |
Shelfari | Library Thing | Visual Bookshelf

Blood Promise - Vampire Academy #4Buy it: IndieBound | The Book
Depository | Powell's | Amazon | B & N Add it to your: Goodreads |
Shelfari | Library Thing | Visual BookshelfSpirit Bound - Vampire
Academy #5Buy it: IndieBound | The Book Depository | Powell's | Amazon
| B & N Add it to your: Goodreads | Shelfari | Library Thing | Visual
BookshelfLast Sacrifice - Vampire Academy #6Pre-order it: IndieBound |
The Book Depository | Powell's | Amazon | B & N Add it to your:
Goodreads | Shelfari | Library Thing | Visual Bookshelf

I am excited to check out Richelle Mead's two adult series, her
Georgina Kincaid books and Dark Swan books. In addition to meeting
Richelle and having fun visiting with Candace, it was wonderful to see
local authors Lisa Schroeder and Suzanne Young again. Lisa Schroeder
has a children's book called Little Chimp's Big Day coming out
September 7th. It looks completely adorable, and I hope to be able to
attend her signing event next month. Suzanne Young's third Naughty List
book, A Good Boy is Hard to Find, will be in stores November 25th. And
she also shared a bit of info regarding her upcoming YA novel, A Need
So Beautiful (which I cannot wait to read)! Lisa and Suzanne are
seriously the sweetest and friendliest authors ever, and it is always a
pleasure to visit with them. If you haven't pre-ordered their upcoming
books yet, be sure to check out the links below.
Lisa Schroeder's:Pre-order it: IndieBound | The Book Depository |
Powell's | Amazon | B & NAdd it to your: Goodreads | Shelfari | Visual

Suzanne Young's:Pre-order it: IndieBound | The Book Depository | B & N
Add it to your: Goodreads | Library Thing

My teaser:"I sped forward with the force of adrenaline. I checked the
rearview mirror to make sure he wasn't chasing me, then shoved the
mirror to face away."
- page 52 of Hush, Hush by Becca Fitzpatrick

Teaser Tuesdays is a weekly bookish meme hosted by MizB of Should Be
Reading. Anyone can play along! Just do the following:
- Grab your current read.
- Open to a random page.
- Share two 'teaser' sentences from somewhere on that page.
- BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (Make sure that what you share
doesn't give too much away! You don't want to ruin the book for others!)
- Share the title and author, so that other TT participants can add the
book to their TBR lists if they like your teaser!

Princess Bride

[The Eager Readers] Flower Friday - Coreopsis

Posted on 2010.08.06 at 22:51
This week's featured flower is - Coreopsis! These bright and sunny
daisy-like flowers bloom all summer long. This perennial has airy,
needle-like foliage and grows to be about two feet tall. It does well
in full sun and is very drought tolerant. Butterflies seem to like
these bright yellow flowers. They are very easy to grow and bloom well
year after year. There are several varieties of Coreopsis, and their
colors range from white to yellow to pink. If you would like to learn
more about this cheerful perennial, check out Fine Gardening's
Coreopsis page, Garden Guides' Coreopsis page, or Wikipedia's Coreopsis

A few book and blogosphere updates:
1. Candace's Book Blog, Pure Imagination, and Reading Angel are hosting
a "Lazy Hazy Crazy Days of Summer Giveaway"! They will be giving away a
total of six pre-ordered books from The Book Depository. The giveaway
runs through August 27th, and you will need to stop by each of their
blogs to enter. You can find the entry forms here, here, and here.
2. Eve's Fan Garden is hosting a Midsummer Night's Chat series next
week (Aug. 9th - Aug. 14th). Several fabulous authors will be
participating, including Heidi R. Kling, Bree Despain, Cassandra Clare,
Kami Garcia, Dia Reeves, Holly Cupala, Beth Fantaskey, Lauren Oliver,
Aprilynne Pike, and Sarah Rees Brennan. For more information about how
to participate, please visit Eve's Fan Garden's blog or facebook page.
3. Paperback Dolls is hosting a MEGA Cassandra Clare giveaway featuring
signed copies of the Mortal Instruments books and Clockwork Angel as
well as a necklace, cuff, and bookmarks from Viviane Hebel's Mortal
Instruments & Infernal Devices Etsy shop. The contest runs through Aug.
31st and you can find more details here.

1. Do you have any hidden talents?.sdrawkcab gnitirw ta doog ytterp m'I
(I'm pretty good at writing backwards.)
2. Name one thing not many people know about you.I own a lamp from the
Crashdown Cafe set of the old WB show Roswell. My husband and I both
loved that show and purchased one of the props from 20th Century Fox
when it was cancelled.
3. Do you have any phobias?Spiders frighten me more than they probably
4. Whats your favorite cartoon?Avatar: The Last Airbender! I love that
show and have seen every episode several times. I was excited to hear
about the upcoming Avatar spinoff series, The Legend of Korra. Can't
wait to check it out! If we are talking about cartoon movies rather
than television shows, Beauty and The Beast has been a favorite since I
was a kid. Seriously, have you seen the size of the Beast's library?!
Wowzas! I will move into his castle any time. ;-)
5. Do you have any nicknames?Violet has been my nickname for so long
that I answer to it just as readily as my actual name. :-)
This fun meme is hosted by Froggarita's Bookcase. Every Friday
Froggarita asks five questions so we can all get to know each other
better. The only rule is that you can't use the same answer twice
within your five! Ready to play? Leave your answers in the comments or
leave us a link to your own Friday's Fab Five post. :)

The Book Blogger Hop is hosted by Jennifer at Crazy for Books, and it
is a terrific way to connect with other book bloggers and readers. You
can join the Hop by clicking on the image to the left. This week's
question is:
Do you listen to music when you read? If so, what are your favorite
reading tunes?I do not generally listen to music while I read. But I
love checking out book playlists, and I have one playlist filled with
songs that I associate with my favorite books and characters. :-)
Contest Updates: Be sure to enter our Stupid Shiny Designs giveaway!
Mandy has set aside one of each of her designs in order to fulfill the
winner's request, so don't worry if you see the design you requested
disappear from her Etsy shop if she sells out of the rest of her stock.
A few designs that may be removed from her shop this week (but are
still available to the contest winner) include:Crystal Heart, House of
Night, and Black Dragon
The results of our Richelle Mead poll are in and Vampire Academy (VA#1)
won by a large margin! So we will be picking up an extra copy of that
book to take with us to the Richelle Mead signing on Monday. Keep an
eye out for that contest next week!

Happy Reading! :-)

Princess Bride

[The Eager Readers] 8/04/2010 11:57:00 PM

Posted on 2010.08.04 at 22:57
Title: The Agency: A Spy in the HouseAuthor: Y.S. Lee
Publisher: Candlewick Press
Genre: YA/mystery
Hardcover: 335 pagesISBN: 0763640670Summary from Goodreads:
Rescued from the gallows in 1850s London, young orphan (and thief) Mary
Quinn is surprised to be offered a singular education, instruction in
fine manners — and an unusual vocation. Miss Scrimshaw’s Academy for
Girls is a cover for an all-female investigative unit called The
Agency, and at seventeen, Mary is about to put her training to the
test. Assuming the guise of a lady’s companion, she must infiltrate a
rich merchant’s home in hopes of tracing his missing cargo ships. But
the household is full of dangerous deceptions, and there is no one to
trust — or is there? Packed with action and suspense, banter and
romance, and evoking the gritty backstreets of Victorian London, this
breezy mystery debuts a daring young detective who lives by her wits
while uncovering secrets — including those of her own past.

- Overall rating: 8/10 To buy this book: IndieBound | The Book
Depository | Powell's | AmazonAdd this book to your: Goodreads |
Shelfari | Library Thing | Visual Bookshelf

Y.S.Lee's The Agency: A Spy in the House is the first book in a series
of mystery novels following Mary Quinn, a Victorian girl who was
sentenced to death at the age of twelve and was fortunate enough to be
rescued by a couple of women who run an exclusive school (as well as a
secret investigative agency). They give Mary a thorough education and
when she nears seventeen, they offer her the opportunity to train to
work for the Agency. A Spy in the House follows Mary undercover on her
first field training exercise.

What I Liked:
- The setting! I was so impressed by the way Y.S. Lee presented
Victorian London. The details of her characters' lives provided a clear
picture of the overall social climate, the manners of the time, and the
layout and atmosphere of London in 1858. The historical elements of
this novel feel authentic and well-researched, yet the author never
slows the pace of the story with lengthy descriptive passages and never
halts the narrative to provide dry history lessons. Her brisk and
straightforward writing style make it easy to imagine the sights (and
smells) of Victorian London. Even readers who don't generally gravitate
toward historical novels will find it easy to immerse themselves in
Mary Quinn's world.
- Mary is clever, focused, and very easy to like. She was resourceful
enough (and lucky enough) to survive a tragic childhood, which makes
her a character you'd like to see succeed from the very first pages of
the novel. Mary has a fairly modern attitude and demeanor, and her
excellent instincts make her perfectly suited to detective work. With a
bit more experience, she will definitely be a fantastic spy.
- James Easton is intelligent, opinionated, funny, idealistic, and
rather arrogant. He has never encountered anyone like Mary before, and
she challenges him in every way possible - intellectually, physically,
conversationally, and emotionally. If you have a soft spot for pairings
who verbally spar and try to resist falling for one another, then you
will enjoy getting to know Mary and James.
- The romance in this book is based on more than just physical
attraction. They connect intellectually, find each other intriguing
(and infuriating), and have several serious obstacles to overcome if
they are ever going to pursue a relationship with one another. At the
moment, they don't fully trust one another. Plus, Mary and James are
each just beginning their careers, and in order to be successful in
their individual professions, their independent career goals must take
priority over their personal desires. Still, their banter is sharp,
their chemistry is evident, and their paths seem destined to cross.
- I was pleased to see the damsel-in-distress roles reversed at one
point within this story.
- The humor in this book is well-placed and spread liberally throughout
the book (particularly when Mary and James are anywhere near each

What I Wished:
- One particular aspect of Mary's story was revealed under such
coincidental circumstances that I found myself hoping it was actually
meant to seem contrived and would later be revealed as a part of some
elaborate deception. While I enjoyed the information that Mary was able
to gather regarding her past, the way in which she stumbled across that
information seemed like an unbelievably fortuitous coincidence.
- I am generally not a huge fan of 'big reveal' moments when the
villain spells out the details of their nefarious plot, and this book
does have a moment which leans strongly in that direction.
- I loved that so many societal issues were touched upon within this
story, from poverty to the opium trade to racism, and I loved the
clever concept behind the Agency taking advantage of society's tendency
to underestimate women. Some of the ways in which the story touched
upon women's rights fit perfectly into the story, but one particular
storyline (Angelica's) felt like it veered in a direction that was
purely designed to illustrate a point.
- Overall, I was surprised to be more interested in the setting and the
romance than I was in the mystery or the secondary characters. Since
this is the first book in a series, the mystery has a conclusive
resolution as do most of the secondary characters, but Mary's own story
is just beginning by the end of the book.

The Agency: A Spy in the House is a fun new historical mystery series
set against a realistic Victorian backdrop. I would recommend this
novel to anyone who likes historical mystery novels or historical
romance novels, but I would also recommend it to people who are
generally intimidated by historical novels because Y.S. Lee's writing
is very accessible and Mary is a very modern heroine. If you would like
to learn more about The Agency series please visit Y.S. Lee's website,
facebook, & twitter, or read an excerpt from A Spy in the House here.

A second perspective:
My husband really enjoyed this book. His thoughts: "I liked how real
and gritty Victorian London was in this book. From the smell of the
Thames to the noise in the streets, the author captured the time and
location perfectly. I also liked Mary. She is a smart and perceptive
heroine. I definitely want to read the next book."

(Placeholder covers for the next three MI books on The Mortal
Instruments website)
Cassandra Clare shared some very exciting news in her USTREAM chat this
afternoon! She officially announced that she is writing two more Mortal
Instruments books to follow City of Fallen Angels. City of Lost Souls
is set to be published in May 2012 and City of Heavenly Fire will be
published in September 2013! How exciting is that?! More of all our
favorite TMI characters - Clary, Jace, Simon, Isabelle, Magnus, and
Alec = AWESOME! :-)
She didn't reveal many details about the upcoming continuation of the
TMI series, but she did say that the main antagonist they will face is
someone who has been mentioned (but no one seems to have correctly
guessed who that is yet). Cassandra also mentioned a few minor plot
elements from the next three TMI books. *MINOR SPOILERS AHEAD*
(highlight the area below to read them)1. Simon's wandering is
interpreted in a very specific way & is more like being an outcast.2.
Aline will get a girlfriend.3. There will be a new Inquisitor as well
as a new Consul.4. Jocelyn is worried that Clary's relationship with
Jace could lead her to make some of the same youthful mistakes
Jocelyn's regrets having made, so she is not a huge fan of their
relationship.5. New characters will be introduced, including a new male
character and a new female character who may shake the relationships up
a bit.6. Some questions that are brought up in Clockwork Prince (The
Infernal Devices, #2) will be answered in City of Lost Souls (The
Mortal Instruments, #5).
To see the archived video of Cassandra Clare's chat, click here. To
read more about the announcement of the fifth and sixth Mortal
Instruments books, visit The Mortal Instruments website or keep an eye
on Cassandra Clare's livejournal.
Are you as excited as I am to hear that there will be more Mortal
Instruments books?! *does a happy dance* :-)

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