Sunday, February 28, 2010

Book Review: Bleeding Violet by Dia Reeves

SUMMARY (From amazon):

Love can be a dangerous thing....

Hanna simply wants to be loved. With a head plagued by hallucinations, a medicine cabinet full of pills, and a closet stuffed with frilly, violet dresses, Hanna's tired of being the outcast, the weird girl, the freak. So she runs away to Portero, Texas in search of a new home.

But Portero is a stranger town than Hanna expects. As she tries to make a place for herself, she discovers dark secrets that would terrify any normal soul. Good thing for Hanna, she's far from normal. As this crazy girl meets an even crazier town, only two things are certain: Anything can happen and no one is safe.


This book is just a whole world of crazy, from what happens in the town to Hanna herself. Many times, I found myself wondering what was real and what wasn't- what was in her head and what really was happening. I really appreciated that particularly effect the book had on me and I could easily understand why Hannah went right along with everything that happened. Crazier things had happened in her head- it was easy to believe all the random events in the town.

Hanna is bipolar which was a trait that helped define who she was but what I really enjoyed was how she was not only depressed which is the part of this disorder that tends to be focused on. She very much was more manic prone, going so far as to have hallucinations, the delusions of grandeur where she could do anything, and many other negative, dysfunctional features of this disorder. Reeves did a fantastic job tying in this part of Hanna with the events of the story. She also did a great job using Hanna's medicine to keep things "normal" or let the hallucinations run wild, especially with Hanna's ability to see her dead father. Hanna's character was fantastically done and despite being bipolar and a whack job, she did have her own development but more defining than her mental instability was how desperately she wanted her mother's love. Most everything revolved around that fact without it ever being overbearing or the point shoved down a reader's throat.

Wyatt's character was also very interesting and I felt he was a great match for Hanna. He knows the truth about the town and faces it down regularly. I often could easily understand his motivations and rationalizations and enjoyed Hanna's interactions with him. Despite some of the things Wyatt does, I became very sympathetic of his character and really think he was as well done and planned out as Hannah herself.

The plot was sometimes hard to follow with some events come out of nowhere but I didn't find it choppy or distracting because this is a story told in the perspective of a girl who hallucinates, who knows she's crazy but has never really come to terms with it in her own way. There were plenty of unexpected twists and overall, I most definitely enjoyed watching things progress.

Yes, sex did come up in this book both with Hanna and her mother, Rosalee. It wasn't distasteful and using their bodies was something both Rosalee and Hanna used to define who they were. I actually enjoyed watching the town's reactions to Rosalee and wasn't entirely surprised to see how they responded to Hanna, either. She flaunted what she had and knew how people reacted but never once did I find myself disliking her for it. This is one more thing Reeves did a fantastic job incorporating without making me turned off by it, particularly in the context of this crazy town with monsters and other weird events happening. Normal rules simply didn't apply in most every way and Reeves made that clear and used it perfectly. Some scenes were very out there and gave me wtf moments but I very much enjoyed every one of them. This book, in so many ways, is quite genius and is just out there enough to be brilliant. If sex and graphic scenes bother you, then don't read this one but personally, I think you would be missing out.

Overall, I give this one 5 stars. It kept me entertained and I wanted to find out more. I also kept wondering if things were real or in Hanna's head and part of me wondered throughout the book if I would get to the end and find out everything was in her head and she was in an institution. Did that happen? You'll have to read for yourself and find out but I most definitely enjoyed and appreciated the ending of this book. Pushing this one even more to 5 stars is Reeves' fantastic writing style and use of imagery. Scenes were painted very vividly, from the sounds and the sights to even the smells.

Source: Purchased at Borders
Hardcover, 464 pages
Simon & Schuster Children's Publishing
January 05, 2010
ISBN13: 9781416986188
ISBN: 1416986189
BINC: 9960820

Author's Website

What Others Are Saying
The Book Smugglers
A Book Dork
Pure Imagination
YA Bliss
The Neverending Bookshelf

Want more of Bleeding Violet and the wonderful, maybe a little crazy mind of Dia Reeves? Hop on my forum this Tuesday at 8 CST for a chat with Dia herself! Register here.


The slump I've been in this month- the same one a lot of us bloggers seem to have been hit with- has not yet fully left but it's hopefully on the way out the door. I haven't been too reading productive this month but I think a big part of that is how tied down I ended up getting with my forum books. I knew 3 a week would be challenging but when I made the forum, I was cranking out the books at 4+ a week. Then a slump hit, and I am barely making it through the 3.

On top of that, my forum just isn't taking off like I had hoped it would. Honestly, I figured a lot of people would hop on, be active, talk, etc- a place for us bloggers to get together because despite being bookworms, we're still social. But that isn't happening and thus, I am making changes.

First off, I am opening it to everything with the only restriction being boards cannot be made for a book until it is released. No ARC discussions allowed because that one is straight up not fair. Yep, as a 24 year old woman I am pulling the No Fair! Card. But, really, it isn't- once a book hits shelves, anyone can get it but before that, things are limited. Thus... if you finish reading a book and are dying to talk about it, jump on the boards, open a discussion section and get to talking! You don't have to read a specific book by a specific date- just as you finish it and what not.

Second, I am still going to feature one book a week just because I like the idea of having one book that everyone can have read at the same time. Thinking about it, I know exactly what I want those books to be: 2010 Debut Authors. They are already getting some promotion from the Debut Author Challenge and I also know a ton of bloggers are participating in that one which makes this the perfect one. It promotes these authors, its common to us, and it still helps me hold on to at least some of what I wanted originally for my forum.

I still plan to host author chats on the forum- my chats with Chloe Neill and Shelena Shorts were both successful and I had a fantastic time with them. This Tuesday, I have Dia Reeves, author of Bleeding Violet, set up for a chat at 8 CST on the forum and I am in the process of contacting several authors now about setting one up.

Hopefully these changes will also help pull me from my blogging slump because as you can tell, some of my usual posts haven't been happening as much on top of the slow reviews flowing through. I also really hope this draws more people onto the forum and yes, I know, I sound really whiny and I apologize for that but we already know I say what's on my mind and this be it at the moment.

Moral of the story: This is the last week I will have 3 books on the forum and starting next week, it will be open to all books once they are released with a book featured each week from a 2010 Debut Author. Another moral: Join! Talk! Make friends!

Now back to your regularly scheduled programming.... with hopefully more reviews to start showing back up. Let's call this my detox period before I hit my book drug hard again. I also blame my WIP because I am still spending time on that though really, not as much as I would like. Revisions are great- they still keep my mind running rampant as much as writing the first draft did- they just take longer and I find I need more breaks. Unfortunately, I'm not using those breaks to read which is making my slump worse. Thus, let's get together and throw this slump out on it's ass!

Saturday, February 27, 2010

In My Mailbox

IMM is a weekly hosted by Kristi at The Story Siren.

I'm doing kind of good on my whole trying to buy less books thing.... definitely proud of myself for that! The borders books were ordered last week and other than a few amazon books on the way... I'm doing good!

For Review:
Hourglass by Claudia Gray

Candle Man: The Society of Unrelenting Vigilance by Glenn Dakin

From the Library:
Bad Girls Don't Die by Katie Alender

Bought from Borders:
Perfect You by Elizabeth Scott
The Less-Dead by April Lurie
A Match Made In High School by Kristin Walker

Friday, February 26, 2010

Book Review + Contest: Wherever Nina Lies by Lynn Weingarten

SUMMARY: Nina was beautiful, wild, and adored by her younger sister, Ellie. But, one day, Nina disappeared. Two years later, everyone has givenup hope that Nina will return, but Ellie knows her sister is out there. If only Ellie had a clue where to look. Then she gets one, in the form of a mysterious drawing. Determined to find Nina, Ellie takes off on a crazy, sexy, cross-country road trip with the only person who believes shes got a chance--her hot, adventurous new crush. Along the way, Ellie finds a few things she wasnt planning on. Like love. Lies. And the most shocking thing of all: the truth.


This was a quick read with a fast paced plot although admittedly predictable. Red flags went off in my mind far earlier than they ever did for Ellie but given her situation, I didn't find it irritating or uncharacteristic at all. Her wild, artsy sister who had a habit of sneaking out left one night and never returned. Her mother more or less lives in denial, sometimes even coming off as relieved, forcing the burden of finding her to fall on Ellie- at least in Ellie's mind it does.

When she starts finding clues, Ellie runs with it because maybe it has been 2 years but this is her sister. I very much loved how determined Ellie was to find Nina- even after 2 years. When everyone else pushed her to give up, she kept going even though that would bring even more pain and disappointment than giving up. Ellie's character was smart, despite some if the situations she dragged herself into but I blame that on love more than anything because despite everything, she's still a teenaged girl. Finally, someone wanted to help her and someone was seeing her. When her sister left and her mother was somewhat of a ghost, there was somebody to focus on her and see her.

The road trip aspect of this book was definitely interesting. It starts with a picture Nina happens on that was undoubtedly drawn by her sister. The pictures are included in the book and the artwork is absolutely stunning and they give the reader an even better idea of who Nina was. I think that addition is fantastic and really helped pull things together. Along the way, more drawings and pieces of art are incorporated, each one leading Ellie closer to the truth about her sister.

Again, while predictable, I really enjoyed both this book and the ending. While I didn't guess the entire plot, things start falling into place and enough pieces are given early enough for the reader to wager a close bet. Will I read this one again though? Absolutely because it is well written, it's fast paced with enough plot twists thrown in to keep me going. It grabbed me pretty early and with a cast of very colorful characters, this book made for a great red.

About the Author: Lynn Weingarten spends a lot of time writing in coffee shops while occasionally reading strangers' laptops over their shoulders. In the past she has been a book editor, a barista, a counter girl at a bakery in Ireland, a waitress at a bar, and a seller of tiny homemade clay animals. She lives in New York City. Wherever Nina Lies is her first novel. Please visit her online at

Now that you know my opinion, make your own! I have 3 copies of Wherever Nina Lies up for grabs, courtesy of the publishers. US Residents only unless you have a friend with a US mailing address willing to accept it for you. This contest will end Friday, March 19 at midnight.

To enter, you
MUST fill out THIS FORM! No comment entries will be accepted!

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Opinion Time

In light of the Common Sense Media thing going on... and just how often the topic of YA Book content seems to come up, this is a post where I speak my mind. If you wanna read it, go ahead. If not... no hard feelings. These are just my view on all this... well, crap.

First of all, I think some of the things CSM rates in YA books is ridiculous. Product promotion? Really? Does that matter? I stared at that category for awhile trying to figure out why the heck it mattered, especially when the things listed are brands of chips, sodas, etc. Who. Freaking. Cares. That alone makes me want to write the rest of the rating system off but alright, I'll bite. Looking at the rest of it, well, it's still stupid. Reading the reasons for the rating of the Mortal Instruments Series, I actually laughed. They bring up the whole incestual feelings thing and honestly, I think Clare deserves huge props for even adding in that element. Incest is taboo and what not because of the genetic crap that comes along with inbreeding and not providing the gene pool with enough variation. Now, is a teenager who reads this book going to run out and kiss their sibling. No. So does it matter in the rating? No. Go listen in history class and.. wait for it.. there's inbreeding! Holy crap! Who knew! Oh wait, that's how we figured out it screwed the offspring. Also referenced for Mortal Instruments... gay characters and even a gay kiss! Holy crap, we better ban that book! Parents, don't let your kids read it because they kiss! Yeah, um, no.

I'm sorry but I think all this "controversy" is just downright stupid, if you couldn't tell from the snarky, sarcastic remarks up above. Yeah, teenagers are impressionable and blah blah blah but so what? Does that mean they are going to center their values and beliefs around what they read in a fiction -yes, that's right, a FICTION- book? Probably not and if they do, there's bigger things going on. If you want my opinion, and I figure you do if you haven't clicked me off yet, it's just parents looking for an excuse for why their kids do bad things because heaven forbid they can't just be teenagers. It has nothing to do with what they face at school everyday- which is sex, drugs, swearing, bullying, and plenty of other things that crop up in YA novels and are causing all this drama. No, it isn't that- it's clearly the video games they play, the movies they want and the books they read. Following this line of thought, you'd almost think reading is a bad thing but I am pretty sure my elementary classrooms were plastered with posters about reading. Read, read, read! Don't watch TV, read! So now that everyone is reading, why is that being blow out of proportion too? If your kid is stupid enough to go out and sleep with half the class, drink regularly, and get knocked up at 15 because she read a YA book, that isn't the book to blame.

Do I think 10 year olds need to be reading YA books? Not necessarily. But that's why its YA and not middle grade or independent reader. The category gives you the age group- CSM is a waste of time, pinpointing it further. I also think when a YA book comes up as having "iffy" subject matter for even 17 year olds, that just blows their credibility right out of the water. That is sheltering to the extreme and that is not going to bring anything good for your kid. None.

I also want to point out that all these same topics show up in plenty of other books- books that young adults can get their hands on. Why is this one genre being attacked like this? Just a decade ago when I was starting high school, I didn't have the luxury of going to the bookstore and having racks and racks of YA books. It wasn't nearly as big then. What did I read? Adult fiction. Take out the YA genre and all these teens who love reading aren't going to suddenly stop reading. They'll find other books and drag this out and it leads back to banning books which I am also very, incredibly opposed to. At least when I was a teen, I would have loved to have available many of the YA books out there now. Even the fantasy/paranormal ones can have some great points and perspectives on things. The "raw and edgy" ones would have been perfect for when I really wished someone would just take the time to understand. Do I think these books will change the world? No. But do I think they are a great way to remind angsty teens that they aren't alone? In a way, yes. Books are an escape and an outlet so why is their content thrust under a microscope?

But now that I've blamed the overprotective parents who don't want to just deal with their kids... I know it's hard being a parent. Honestly, I think it has to suck. Everythign falls back on the parent. You can do everything for you kid, love them to death, make sure they know it, etc, and still end up with a kid that gets bullied and snaps- or the kid that does the bullying or any other crimes. All those criminals we hear about? They're someone's kid- somebody loves them. And when it comes out, the parents are scorned and people say they must be bad parents. Maybe it is true in cases, but not in every single one of them. Face it, there are bad parents out there- so why is it so horrible that YA books have bad parents in them? More importantly, what is the definition of the horrible parent?

If you love your kid too much, you smother them, push them to rebellion, make them want to be a punk. If you don't love them enough, that's your fault for having them and maybe you shouldn't have and what is a kid supposed to think about that? My parents suck so I shouldn't be alive? That's the implication I would take from that. Yeah, I know- the trick is to find the happy medium but I'm pretty sure that medium doesn't exist. As a parent, you are going to have make choices all the time and if you make the wrong one, you're clearly a bad parent. But how many of those situations back the parent into a corner where no matter what they do, something comes out wrong? For all the joys that parenthood brings, there are plenty of crappy things it brings too (this is from the opinion of a pessimist who doesn't want kids, many of the reasons you've seen above). Does that make them a bad parent because their kid made a mistake? NO! It means they are letting their kid figure things out on their own and learn and grow. It means their kid is LIVING! Yes, "good" parents are a rarity in YA books but they are a rarity in the real world too. Why is it overlooked that teenagers are just that- teenagers. Humans. People. With motivations and desires. They lie- maybe you raised them to know it's wrong but does that mean they never will? Of course not. My parents had plenty of rules in place that I thought were incredibly stupid although now that I'm out of the situation and older with more experience, I get why it was like that. It was to protect me and keep me safe but I hated it at the time and did I sneak around it? Absolutely. Does that make my parents bad? Definitely not. Are my parents perfect? No. Did they do a lot for me? Yes. But if I were to write them into a book, I am betting that some of the things they did- especially if its in the POV of a 15 year old angsty teenager- would have critics shoving them under the bad parent category that everyone seems to be obsessing over. And that, my dear readers, is absolutely stupid.

One last thing... I know another big part of all this scrutiny comes from a relgious perspective- especially a Christian one. I was raised Christian- I know the beliefs and values. And if a church is going to insist its members don't read things like Harry Potter and Twilight, I would be inclined to push them towards the "occult" category because that's trying to get their members to follow exactly what they think, down to a t. Should Christians read YA? Why the heck not? If you let a book change all your beliefs and values, obviously your values weren't nearly as strong. And if you feel threatened because you read a book about witches, vampires, etc- a book with "bad" parents and teenage sex and drinking- again, your beliefs aren't that strong. That isn't a problem with the books, that's a problem with you. If you really are so strong in your faith, a book isn't going to change it- not even ones that pull in the Nephilim, The Book of Enoch, etc. These are works of fiction- products of active and determined imaginations. And personally, I think it's downright stupid to attack these authors for writing brilliant works.

Just my opinion. If you agree, you rock. If you disagree... you suck. No, I'm kidding. You're allowed your own opinion. You can even make your own post and negate everything I said. I'll just keeping what I do. It's how this crazy world works, in case you missed that part of school too, choosing instead to obsess over what is showing up in fiction books rather than our history books and even, wait for it... The Bible! Complete with sodomy! *gasp*

Now back to your regularly scheduled program which will consist of a review tomorrow... and a contest post. And hopefully I will be better about reviewing more books soon. I think there has been a book blogger wide slump going around this month but maybe we're all coming out of it now.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Author Interview: Shelena Shorts

As part of my forum correlation, I have Shelena Shorts here on the blog to do a teaser interview for the live chat TONIGHT at 8 pm CST! You don't want to miss this!

AGA: What was the initial idea/concept that sparked the rest of this novel?

SS: The very first image that went through my mind when I thought about writing a story was of a guy feeling conflicted and helpless because he knew there was no way he could save a girl. I pictured that conversation, and it was actually the scene where Wes comes to Sophie’s room after New Year’s and gives her news she doesn’t like. From that scene I started thinking about how Wes could possibly know what the future holds and the details followed from there!

AGA: Did you do any research for this book, particularly about Wes or did it all come from your head alone?

SS: I did a lot of research to come up with Wes’ composition. I really wanted to make him “special” but in a realistic and believable way. (Without spoiling anything) I researched types of “things” that could heal, early medical procedures, and various conditions that could make it possible.

AGA: From start to finish, how long did this book take you to get written?

SS: Once I settled on the details from my research, it took about three months to write from start to finish. Then it took another two to go back and edit and revise.

AGA: If you could pair Wes and Sophie with any character from any book, what would your picks be?

SS: That is a fantastic question! It’s also very tough! My first thought is to say I could never pair them with anyone else because they are perfect together, blah blah blah, but I’m sure you want a real answer :). Soooo, if I thought very hard and had to pick, I’d probably pair Sophie with Ethan Wate from Beautiful Creatures and Wes with Gemma from Stolen(This pick was really really tough, but I think Wes would be good for her!:)

AGA:Do you have anything else planned besides the next installment in this series?

SS: I’m working on another book right now that’s separate from The Pace Series. I think it’ll be a stand alone, but I’m not far enough into it yet to tell. I had actually planned to finish it after the third Pace, but it’s the story fighting for the attention in my mind right now, so don’t want to ignore it. I love the two characters as much as Sophie and Wes, and I think Sophie and Wes fans will too!

AGA: Where did you come up with the character's names?

SS: Well, for Wes, I looked up English names since he’s originally from London. I wanted a name you don’t see everyday, as well as something that sounded classic and modern. I connected to it as soon as I saw it. For Sophie… I wanted a name that went well with Wes, and that one came to mind. Lenny came from Edgar Allen Poe’s poem, The Raven. It’s short for Lenore. And for Amelia, I needed something old fashioned that had an innovative connotation, so I chose that one.

AGA: Is there anything else you'd like to say?

SS: Thank you for having me, and thank you to everyone who has read The Pace. I’m beyond grateful. I had no idea if people would like Wes, and I worked really hard to develop him in the beginning to make him a likable guy, so it makes me really happy that readers have accepted him. I think it’s pretty cool, so thank you so much!

Thanks so much for stopping by Shelena and I will see you tonight at the chat! The links are at the top of my blog page- you'll need to register but it's a quick process. The chatbox is located at the bottom of the main forum page once you're logged in and there's a log in button for it at the top right of the box.

Waiting on Wednesday

Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly meme hosted by Breaking the Spine.

This week's pick is one of the 2010 Debut Authors- Tell Me A Secret by Holly Cupala which is set to hit shelves June 22. I am loving the cover on this one- I think it fits with the premise.

Summary (From
Author's Website):

One line means a chance for Miranda Mathison to escape her life for good –
her suffocating mother, her invisible father, and most of all the vortex left by the death of her bad-girl sister, Xanda.

One line means she is still the good daughter, poised for art school and a teaching career. One line means a future with boyfriend Kamran, despite his flirtation with her best friend, Delaney.

Two lines mean risking everything to pursue the labyrinth of her sister’s life, discover the mystery of her death, and free herself in the process…especially if she decides to keep the baby.

My Thoughts: First off, I really love this cover. Somehow it seems to fit with both the title and the premise and since I am a total sucker for this kind of raw, truth kind of books, I would definitely pick this one up. The very fact that the premise tells you she is pregnant and may or may not keep the baby just draws me in more because it such a real issue but so often ignored. Cupala just might have a big hit on her hands with this one. Now if only I could get my hands on this one...

Details (From amazon):
Reading level: Young Adult
Hardcover: 304 pages
Publisher: HarperTeen (June 22, 2010)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0061766666
ISBN-13: 978-0061766664

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Author Chat!

In all my awesomeness, I have arranged another author chat on my forum! Shelena Shorts, author of The Pace, has very graciously agreed to hop on for an hour or so tomorrow night, Wed Feb 24 at 8 CST! The link to get registered is above if you aren't already.

Jennifer Echols, brilliant author of Going Too Far and the upcoming Forget You, is also lurking around my forum this week and will be answering any questions posted for her in the designated Questions For Jennifer Echols section (hard to make that connection, I know =P ).

Stay tuned for details on next week's authors, including Dia Reeves and another potential live chat!

You participation would be greatly appreciated... *puppy dog eyes* Yes yes, I'm begging just a little but eh. Participation isn't what I thought it would be when I set the forum up. So... help a buddy out? You know you wanna... authors are our celebs... so come talk to the celebs! =D

That is all. For now. *insert evil laugh?*

Teaser Tuesday

Teaser Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted by Should Be Reading.

I'm about to start in on Bleeding Violet by Dia Reeves and am even teasing myself this morning.

"I slipped the spare key into the pocket of my dress as I traveled down a short hallway, my French heels clicking musically against the blond wood floor. I put my ear to each of the three doors in the hall, until a slow, deep breathing sighed into my head behind door number three." -- pg 5

I definitely want to start in on this book now- the writing and imagery alone in those sentences is great!

Monday, February 22, 2010

Book Review: All Unquiet Things- Anna Jarzab


Carly: She was sweet. Smart. Self-destructive. She knew the secrets of Brighton Day School’s most privileged students. Secrets that got her killed.

Neily: Dumped by Carly for a notorious bad boy, Neily didn’t answer the phone call she made before she died. If he had, maybe he could have helped her. Now he can’t get the image of her lifeless body out of his mind.

Audrey: She’s the reason Carly got tangled up with Brighton’s fast crowd in the first place, and now she regrets it—especially since she’s convinced the police have put the wrong person in jail. Audrey thinks the murderer is someone at Brighton, and she wants Neily to help her find out who it is.

As reluctant allies Neily and Audrey dig into their shared past with Carly, her involvement with Brighton’s dark goings-on comes to light. But figuring out how Carly and her killer fit into the twisted drama will force Audrey and Neily to face hard truths about themselves and the girl they couldn’t save.


This was quiet the nice little murder mystery except the detectives were two teenagers with their own reasons. I have to admit, that particular aspect seemed a little disconnected for me. The police investigation has been over, the convicted murdered behind bars and life for most everyone has moved on- at least for everyone but Neily and Audrey. There were a few things that didn't add up yet someone was sentenced for Carly's murder- Audrey's dad, to be exact. The fact that these two teens could find reasons and make connections the police couldn't seemed a little odd to me- especially when they began to turn up evidence that the police probably should have been able to figure out.

Barring that one thing, however, I did enjoy this book. The plot was very thought out with plenty of twists thrown in. Characters that seemed harmless ended up playing an important role and ones that seemed important faded away. Jarzab did a great job throwing everyone into the spotlight with speculation running rampant, even for Audrey and Neily. If for no other reason I found myself wanting to know the truth and I was most definitely not disappointed.

Neily was an interesting character- a genius for his age but hung up on Carly. Having met her in 8th grade when he started at Brighton, the two fell for each other and were together into high school until Carly broke up with him for another guy. Neily not only disliked the guy she left him for already, he also couldn't believe she just stopped loving him. Neily, without a doubt, was still completely in love with Carly, hating her only because of how hurt he was. In some ways, I have to admit, I found him to be a little redundantly whiny about it but at the same time, given how few friends he had, I could understand why even two years later he still wasn't over her. Glimpses into his past with Carly helps show how their relationship built and what they had been through together. Even Carly's personality is well displayed throughout the book, giving the reader an idea of who she was and who she had become while still instilling the extreme sense of loss Neily feels all the time over her death, even if they didn't talk by the time she was murdered.

Audrey's character, however, most definitely bothered me. She was manipulative and kind of a jerk, talking back to Neily any time he didn't trust her when she knew he had no reason to. Despite the effect her home life would have on her, Audrey was the kind of character I just didn't like- stuck up, uses others, and too wrapped up in her own affairs to really think about how what she does will effect others. Though she did show growth and had a few major plot twists centered around her character, I never really found myself siding with her until the very end but I think anyone would feel something for her by then.

The plot... apart from some nuances with the criminal investigation done teenage style and drug deals that stay hidden even when police are involved... it was amazing. Very well thought out, very disturbing, and very nicely laid out. Despite all my theories, I admit I did not guess this ending. Despite not connecting with the Audrey and Neily like I would have preferred, I still was hooked on the story line and wanting to know more. The story is also told in sections- 2 from each character with an epilogue in Neily's mind which added a good element, letting you get closer to each character and see their side of it without detracting from the overall story line.

The writing was stunning. Often times, I read books where the writing is brilliant and the author does have a grasp of the English language yet the character that speaks so eloquently isn't the brightest of characters- that is not the case here. Neily is smart and Neily does think and talk like this. Even when things switched to Audrey, the differences in their mental states was clear without Jarzab's fantastic writing style being ignored.

Overall, this is a brilliant debut for Jarzab and I will most definitely be looking for more from her in the future. Although I didn't connect with the characters, Audrey especially, they were in depth and developed- she is simply the kind of girl that I don't meld with. It didn't really detract for me, however, because the writing more than made up for it. If you like murder mysteries, I definitely recommend this one.

Source: Purchased at
Reading level: Young Adult
Hardcover: 352 pages
Publisher: Delacorte Books for Young Readers; 1 edition (January 12, 2010)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0385738358
ISBN-13: 978-0385738354

Affiliates Update

Monday's seem like a good day to post my affiliate updates and I decided to start doing the what are you reading meme so... here's my affiliate updates and my meme stuff. Logical, I know.

It's Monday! What are you reading this week? is a weekly event to celebrate what we are reading for the week hosted at Book Journey. Post the books completed last week, the books you're currently reading, and the books to be read this week. Feel free to pile on a little extra.

Completed last week:
Hate List by Jennifer Brown
Lessons From A Dead Girl by Jo Knowles
The Pace by Shelena Shorts

Currently Reading:
All Unquiet Things by Anna Jurzab (Review to come soon)
Wherever Nina Lies by Lynn Wintergarten

Up Next:
Bleeding Violet by Dia Reeves
By The Time You Read This, I'll Be Dead by Julie Anne Peters
Uninvited by Amanda Marrone
If I Stay by Gayle Foreman
First Daughter by Eric Van Lustbader

Also this week:
Finishing round 2 of revisions on my WIP and getting it updated on the computer files

That would be my reading week at a glance... now on to affiliate updates!

Corrine at Lost For Words is hitting in with 2 reviews for I Heart You, You Haunt Me by Lisa Schroeder at 4 stars, Dreamland by Sarah Dessen with 3 stars. She also spent last weekend reorganizing her apartment and posted pictures of her awesomely packed bookshelves.

Sherry at Flipping Pages for All Ages had 2 five star reviews post for Poison Study by Maria V. Snyder and The Iron King - Julie Kagawa. She participated in Angela Morrison's Sing Me To Sleepblog tour with an interview and a review She also had a pretty cool blog tour author interview. You can also find details for her contest for this book here.

Jenn at Book Crazy posted 4 reviews this week, weighing in with Incarceron by Catherine Fisher which only ranked 2 stars but she did not finish, Love, Aubrey by Suzanne LaFleur with 4 stars and Gone by Lisa McMann and Fallen by Lauren Kate both hitting 5 stars. In an effort to find her copy of Incareron a loving home, she's hosting a quick contest that can be found here.

Eleni at Le Femme Readers also reviewed I Heart You, You Haunt Me by Lisa Schroeder, earning 4.5 stars and gave 5 stars to Before I Fall by Lauren Oliver. She also is having a contest to give away 3 copies of Wherever Nina Lies by Lynn Wintergarten, details here.

Jenn at Books at Midnight didn't post any reviews this week but did have a guest post with Susan Dunlap. She also continued to host her wonderful Saturday Network and showed us her awesome prize pack for being The Story Siren's January winner for the 2010 Debut Author Challenge.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Author Interview: Jennifer Echols

As part of my book club forum correlation, I have Jennifer Echols here today for an interview- Going Too Far is featured on the forum this week.

AGA: The title, Going Too Far, can be interpreted as having many different implications towards the book and is of course quite fitting with the overall events. How did you settle upon this one, despite the preemptive biases it might have given readers?

JE: Originally I called the book Boy in Blue, but my editor thought the “boy” in the title made the book sound too young. My critique partners and I came up with perhaps 40 alternative titles. My editor turned down all of them. Then my editor called it Running to Stand Still for a while (after a U2 song), but I didn’t like it.

A bridge figures prominently in the book, and I kept thinking of the title A Bridge Too Far. But I couldn’t call the book that, because people might associate the book with a 1970s World War II movie--wrong! I shortened it to Too Far. My critique partner Victoria Dahl suggested Going Too Far instead, and that’s what my editor picked.

AGA: What inspired you to write Going Too Far, particularly with the male being a young cop and toeing the line that comes with it?

JE: My first idea was that two teenagers would do a ride-along with a cop, and they would fall for each other. But the more I thought about it, the more I realized the interaction with the cop was the most interesting part of this story. He couldn’t be 21 with a high school girl, though. I did some research and found that a few law enforcement agencies hire 19-year-olds as cops. WOW, that’s really young to be a cop, and if you were working in your own hometown, wouldn’t you be uncomfortable around your friends from school? Bingo!

AGA: You write both romantic comedies and romantic dramas- do you prefer one category to the other?

JE: I like having two different genres to bounce between. That way, I feel like my writing is always fresh and I’m not writing the same story over and over.

AGA: Are any of your book characters based off real life people or do you primarily pull together facets in your mind to create them?

JE: I’ve never based a character on a real person. The character I’ve written who’s most like a real person is Lori in The Boys Next Door. She’s a lot like me--but not exactly! I don’t think there’s any way the accurate portrayal of a real person could make it into fiction, because you have to change parts of their personality to fit the story.

AGA: Have you ever done a ride along with a cop (or even fire truck/ambulance) or were those scenes pulled from what you've seen on television, read in books, etc?

JE: I would love to do a ride-along, but it wasn’t possible when I was writing Going Too Far. My son was very small, and I couldn’t go do research without him because my husband was working the night shift--which is where all the night shift business comes from in that book.

AGA: I've read in other interviews about your appreciation (or maybe envy?) of Rosemary-Clement Moore. Are there any other authors that spur you into writing, driving you to want to mirror what you felt they've done and better yourself, or is she the primary one for you?

JE: I don’t think I have used the e-word. The green monster is a negative emotion. Publishing is an extremely difficult business. It’s so important to stay positive. Envy has no place here.

When I have blogged about other authors’ books, I have not done it out of envy. I am a reader first and a writer second. I have enjoyed Rosemary’s books and I want to read more of them. I know that the more I talk about her wonderful book Prom Dates from Hell, the more people will see that positive comment and buy it, and the more likely she is to get another contract to write more books like it.

AGA: Do you read a lot of the same genres that you are writing or do you tend to avoid them?

JE: I tend to avoid them while I’m writing them, but I’ll go back to them when I’m taking a little break, like now! Santa brought me a huge pile of books for Christmas, and almost all of them are YA romantic dramas like Going Too Far.

AGA: Apart from making soundtracks, is there anything else specific for you to write or are you able to stop and start on a whim?

JE: I need coffee, I need quiet (or my iPod to cover up the noise if quiet isn’t possible), and I need to be in a place where I can’t see piles of laundry or anything having to do with household chores.

AGA: Do you see yourself branching out to anything beyond romance based novels or is that where you feel you will likely stay?

JE: I will probably stay here, because romance is what interests me. Even in high school I was writing romantic stories, so I’ve been very consistent!

AGA: What projects do you have lined up next apart from the next romantic drama slated to hit shelves this year (which I am very excited for, especially after reading Going Too Far)?

JE: My next romantic drama, Forget You, will be published by MTV Books on July 20. Two weeks later, on August 3, Simon Pulse will publish the sequel to my romantic comedy The Boys Next Door. It’s called Endless Summer, and it’s getting a new cover any day now, so check my blog for the announcement!

Thanks so much for hosting me! I really appreciate it.

You're welcome and thank you for being here! If you have any of your own questions for Jennifer, head on over to my forum and ask them- she will be stopping by this week to both answer questions and maybe hop onto the discussions.

All Unquiet Things and The Pace are also featured this week- head on over and get involved!

Saturday, February 20, 2010

In My Mailbox + Updates

IMM is a meme hosted by The Story Siren. In case you didn't already know. But I bet you did. Because she's kind of awesome like that.

It was a slow week, at least with what I received although I did order a few things from Amazon that should be here in the next few weeks... but after that, I am trying very very hard to refrain from buying too many... I have to have something to gamble away in Vegas in April =P

For Review:
Wherever Nine Lies by Lynn Weingarten

From the Library:
If I Stay by Gayle Foreman

That's my mailbox... now on to updates. I really am in a bit of a reading funk, I think. I just haven't been that reading productive this month despite all the great books I want to read. But I have finished round 1 of revisions with my WIP and am onto the second round. Yesterday I wrote another chapter to add in and am through Chapter 9 out of 26 in second revisions. I'm definitely enjoying the whole process even if I feel a little schizo. My goal for this weekend is to finish reading All Unquiet Things and hopefully Wherever Nina Lies, as well as get through at least 8 chapters of revisions. I am probably setting myself up with more to do than I will get through but we'll see how it goes. I did my social life thing last night and plan to stay in the rest of the weekend, especially with the storms we are spose to get and then Tuesday, maybe more snow? Not happy about that one...

I am also debating on easing up on my very colorful posts... I did a dark background so I would have freedom to do many different colors but I suppose I am running out of colors. Now, I might just do a different color for subjects... gray for reviews, pinkish for IMM, etc... it's being debated amongst the voices in my head. I suppose you'll find out who wins soon enough. Unless you, my awesome reader, is very attached to my constant color changes in which case, by all means, I shall continue it.

But that is probably enough of my rambling. To those of you who actually read this, thank you. Your interest is flattering. Or you are crazy. But that's alright, we're all a little crazy here. Oh, I am also debating on going to see the Percy Jackson movie today. I loved the books... for those of you who have seen it- thoughts?

Friday, February 19, 2010

Book Review: The Pace by Shelena Shorts


Weston Wilson is not immortal and he is of this world. But, aging is not part of his existence, and eighteen-year-old Sophie Slone is determined to find out why. In doing so, she could also uncover something about her own life expectancy that she may not want to know. Suddenly, immortality will mean everything and nothing all at the same time.

Intensely fascinating and rich with determination, The Pace brings together romance, mystery, and suspense in a compelling bond that is sure to have readers asking for more.


The truth about Weston is very interesting and incredibly unique. Even when I started to try piecing things together, I didn't realize what he was until more obvious evidence came to light- it is a very genius idea even if simple once you find it out. I can easily see how this story developed from that one single idea.

I admit, however, Sophie's character bothered me. I found her to be pretty immature considering she was 18 and even though she attended an online high school rather than a sit in a group of peers all day one, she still came off more as a 14 year old to me in my ways. She had a few shining moments but I found it hard to really get into her mindset. Her situation with her mom, however, definitely did give her character because though it is just the two of them, they sometimes seemed more like friends than family which had a nice effect. Her own involvement in everything seemed a little out of left field to me but I hope the reasons for that come out in future installments in this series.

Weston is your very mysterious boy, bordering on bad. He's sexy and secretive while holding wit and charm with it. He was very well developed and I really enjoyed his part of the story, from his interactions with Sophie to his past. Where Sophie fell short for me, Wes swooped in and saved it. The thought that went into everything about is very obvious- this was not a simple idea that ended up as a story. Shorts most definitely did her thinking and developing.

The plot is enjoyable though some parts seemed cliche and predictable. There are several twists and enough action to keep the reader interested but Sophie and Wes' relationship as well as the past was not ignored which is always great. I think that's one of the hardest things to write with a story like this- developing the background and characters while keeping enough plot and action for the reader to stay interested and Shorts did a great job with that.

I do have to admit, however, the writing did detract from the story for me. Considering it is first person of an 18 year old, I thought it was very basic. I often found myself not able to fall completely into the story beause of it- innumerable commas, sentences that started with So, (A personal pet peeve of mine, at least when there is a large amount of sentences like this) and a few other things that would have made my past English teachers cringe. I've been told I am too critical with writing but it does detract for me. That is the main reason I am putting this one at 3 stars. The idea and even most of the development is there- the writing didn't pull it through.

Overall, a decent debut built on a very unique idea- an idea that has me thinking and asking questions. The science nerd in me is going a little happy on it, actually, even if someone had to point out I was being way too analytical about it. Once I looked past that, I pretty much liked the idea even more.

Source: Purchased at
Reading level: Young Adult
Paperback: 312 pages
Publisher: Lands Atlantic Publishing, LLC (August 19, 2009)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0982500505
ISBN-13: 978-0982500507

Author's Website

What Others Are Saying
La Femme Readers
Book Crazy
Black and Blue Ink
Peace Love & Pat

Wanna Talk To Some Authors? And.... Affiliates!

I've got several great things coming up thanks to my awesome forum- and yes, I still claim it as awesome even if active participation is low. If you've read The Secret Year by Jennifer Hubbard, hop on the boards today and tomorrow to ask her any questions you have- this is her version of a live interview, open to all bloggers instead of just my questions. There's a thread devoted to this so jump over there!

If you've read Jennifer Echol's hit Going Too Far, get ready with your questions for her because Jennifer will be hopping on the boards next week when the book is featured.

And finally.... for fans of Shelena Shorts' The Pace, I am hosting a live chat with Shelena next Wed, Feb 24 at 8 CST on my forum. And face it, we all think authors are basically celebrities so come talk to a celeb! =)

And now........... It took me awhile to get around to doing this but I've got me some affiliates. Woot! I feel all special and warm and fuzzy so now I get to brag about them. Yay. Me. And them.

First up is Sherry at Flippin Pages for All Ages. She's an active member of my snazzy forum and really just good to talk to. Her blog is rapidly growing because, oh yeah, it's awesome like her. You should check it out. Because I like it. And that means something. =) She is also holding a few contests right now so go check them out because you can get some awesome titles, including The Body Finder and Sing Me To Sleep.
Flipping Pages for all ages

Next up is Corrine over at Lost For Words. She's also a member of my forum and we spend a lot of time talking about anything and everything now. It's nice. =) She's still building her blog but it's coming along great and she's definitely opened my eyes to some great book titles.
Lost for words

I've also affiliated myself with Jenn at Book-Crazy. She does an awesome job maintaining her blog while taking care of her two kids and even gets her daughter Audrey involved in the blogging thing as well. It's really great seeing the books bring the two of them together and face it, sometimes we need a little more of that and Jenn's right on it. She is also just 1 follower away from 400 right now... so, someone should definitely go realize her blog rocks. And follow.

Next up is Eleni from La Femme Readers. When I started blogging, Eleni's was one of the ones I regularly followed and she has some interesting opinions on some books. She has many giveaways going on and does some snazzy memes. She's hilarious to talk to but really nice... do we see a trend on all these people being nice? Oh, yeah. They are. Guess that's why I'm affiliated with them. Moral of the story: Follow Eleni too. Even if her blog is pink =P

Last is Jenn from Books at Midnight. It seems like Jenn and I agree on about 95% of our reviews which is definitely helpful. I browse a lot of blogs but I am more active with hers because if she likes it, there's a good chance I will too. Reading reviews helps but if I consistently disagree with someone once I've read the book, I tend to back off that blog. Jenn, however, has a great blog that she keeps up with and holds plenty of contest, author interview's and even hosts the Saturday Network.

And that, my dear readers, are my 5 affiliates. I am probably going to top out with this because I admit I am lazy. Plus, these are some of the main blogs I actively follow so it would make sense.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Percy Jackson Contest Winner!

I don't have a Barkings From A Beagle post today.... I'm currently in a fight with said beagle and not speaking to him seeing as to how the little brat kept waking me up last night. While tormenting him with pictures seems like a great option, I am still half asleep and have to leave for work in 15 minutes. Thus, he gets a break... but he still has to deal with the silence.

I do, however, have the winner of the Percy Jackson giveaway picked. I had a total of 147 entrants which is pretty darn snazzy if you ask me. Thanks to everyone who entered and congrats to....
Brooke at Brooke Reviews!

I've sent you an email Brooke... you have 48 hours to get back to me or I will have to pick someone else.

Stick around for more contests and if you haven't already, go enter my Jodi Picoult giveaway. I have 6 of her books up for grabs and she is an amazing author. Her books will make you think and get to you- do yourself a favor and read at least one. It is absolutely worth it.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Waiting on Wednesday

Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly meme hosted by Breaking the Spine.

This week's pic is one with a cover that has been plastered everywhere but now that it has a cover, I can feature it. =D I also found it for preorder on yesterday for only $8.50 which is over half off. Thus, it is this week's WoW post. I really enjoyed the first 2 books in the series and am very interested to see where things finally go. The world Collins created is very thought out and very unique and even if it does remind me of Battle Royale, it is by no means anything like this book apart from a bunch of kids thrown together to see who survives and that isn't even something unique to BR. If you haven't read this series, I recommend you do although really, if you've waited this long, don't torment yourself- buy all 3 at once when Mockingjay comes out August 30 instead of sitting on the cliff hanger ending of book 2.

I also really like the cover of this one even if it doesn't quite have the dark, edgy feeling the first 2 books had. Both the title and the picture are very relevent to the book, particularly after the events in book 2.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Book Review- Lessons From A Dead Girl: Jo Knowles


Leah Greene is dead. For Laine, knowing what really happened and the awful feeling that she is, in some way, responsible set her on a journey of painful self-discovery. Yes, she wished for this. She hated Leah that much. Hated her for all the times in the closet, when Leah made her do those things. They were just practicing, Leah said. But why did Leah choose her? Was she special, or just easy to control? And why didn’t Laine make it stop sooner? In the aftermath of the tragedy, Laine is left to explore the devastating lessons Leah taught her, find some meaning in them, and decide whether she can forgive Leah and, ultimately, herself.


Apart from the unique albeit disturbing premise of this book, it honestly didn't stand out all that much to me. Leah is a very screwed up kid and forces that onto Laine, tormenting and ruining her childhood. Neither girl really does anything to stop it and it just keeps snowballing. I knew this book dealt with kids abusing kids but I admit, I didn't realize they meant sexual abuse- and it follows logically that Leah had to learn those things from somewhere, even in 5th grade, to do them to Laine.

Leah is the stereotypical product of rich parents who care more about public appearances, their jobs and themselves than their kids. Even when Leah really starts acting out as a teenager, the talk of the town is how it's always the rich kids that just don't have enough attention already but the truth is, things started going wrong for Leah early on. I did feel bad for her character but I would be surprised to find anyone who wouldn't, considering she was sexually abused even as a child.

Laine is the weak character that has no self esteem and just goes with it, each time and everything Leah does weakening her more. She is both a product of Leah and weak to begin with. Embarassment and fear were her main driving forces to never tell anyone- fear of liking it a little too much and being a lesbian. In that sense, this book did pull in many elements of things teenagers do face, with each one seeming to be worse for Laine. When she and Leah drift apart, the group of friends she had goes too because they tolerated her only because Leah said she should be there.

Each chapter is titled with a different lesson Laine learned, all at the hand of Leah. They are almost always relevant to the chapter and I did enjoy seeing the way Laine viewed everything. I also have to admit, the ending was a bit of a shock despite already knowing Leah Greene is dead. The book opens with that- telling you from the start- and then the story takes the reader through everything that Laine had experienced, telling the story until Leah's death. Even then, however, it was heartbreaking and surprising.

Covering a not often talked about topic, this book does rank up there in terms of originality although everything else, as I said, was pretty generic. Screwed up kid turns rebellious, fights out against those around her, screws up someone else who just lets their self esteem keep taking the hits- it is often seen in books and it played out here again. Fear, guilt and insecurities- and ultimately healing- are the main features of this book and I didn't think it really did much to make it its own. Bottom line- I give this one 3 stars because it was a quick albeit it very disturbing read with good writing but not that many unique features.
Source: Purchased at
Reading level: Young Adult
Paperback: 224 pages
Publisher: Candlewick; Reprint edition (August 11, 2009)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0763644854
ISBN-13: 978-0763644857

Author's Website

Monday, February 15, 2010

Author Interview: CJ Omololu

Today, I have CJ Omololu with me to answer some questions over her debut novel Dirty Little Secrets. I personally loved this book, from the unique idea to the plot to Lucy's struggle.

AGA: How much research did you end up doing for this novel?

CJ: I had to do a lot to really get it right. I contacted some people from a website called the Children of Hoarders ( and they were great. I couldn’t have done it without their stories and their reading bits and pieces of the book as I finished it. Since last fall, A&E has been running a show called Hoarders which really gives a glimpse into what life with a hoarder is like. In a way, I wish it had been on when I was writing, but it another way, I’m glad it wasn’t because there is so much in that show that is in the book that I’m sure I’d be accused of stealing ideas.

AGA: How much preparation did you have to do in order to get into the mindset required to write a character like Lucy in that situation?

CJ: I usually don’t have too much trouble putting on a character – in a lot of ways, writing is like internal acting. For Lucy, I watched a documentary over and over called My Mother’s Garden by Cynthia Lester. That really helped to bring out some of the emotion involved. I keep photos of hoarding situations on my laptop so that I could refer to them as I needed to. My agent also sent me an album by Priscilla Ahn which is great mood music for this book. As I wrote, I got to know Lucy better and better so the character ended up fairly well-rounded.

AGA: What sort of time frame did this book take you to complete, from start to finish?

CJ: Three months for the first draft. I started in November, which was a little crazy (come to think of it, I tend to start new projects in November) what with all the holidays, and I finished in February. My agent and I went through a couple of rounds of edits and then sent it out into the world.

AGA: Given the subject of this book, I personally believe it will open up the eyes of many readers to this condition and its underlying effects and reasons. Do you feel you've experienced any big changes in the course of writing this book?

CJ: I’ve become much more sympathetic to people with mental disorders like these. Even though the book is written from Lucy’s point of view, all of my research helped me to understand the psychology behind hoarding. Not that I’m making any excuses for hoarders, particularly with small children in the home, but without treatment, they really can’t do it alone. The other big change is that people are always apologizing for the mess in their houses when they come to visit. It’s getting embarrassing. One of these days I’m going to post a photo of my messy garage just to make everyone feel better.

AGA: Do you have a favorite character from this book?

CJ: Since I lived with Lucy for so long, of course I love her. I have to say though, that Josh is sort of my idea of the perfect guy back when I was in high school. I think you have to have a little bit of a crush on the love interest in your book in order for it to be realistic. He’s cute, smart, sympathetic and he plays the guitar. What’s not to like? Just don’t tell my husband.

AGA: If you could pair Lucy up with any character from any book, who would it be and why? (Ignoring her charming boy in this book who is a sexy band guy....)

CJ: Ooh, good question. I really like the love interest in the new book that I’m working on, but that’s not really fair. Looking over my bookshelves I’d have to say Katniss from Suzanne Collin’s The Hunger Games. Not in a romantic way, but that girl could teach Lucy a few things about survival and about being a bad a**.

AGA: Is there anything else you'd like to say?

CJ: I’ve been so thrilled with the great response the book has gotten so far. There have been a few people who have had trouble with the ending, but I hope that whether you agree with Lucy’s choice or not, that it provokes discussion.

Today, I have CJ Omololu with me to answer some questions over her debut novel Dirty Little Secrets. I personally loved this book, from the unique idea to the plot to Lucy's struggle.