Saturday, October 30, 2010

In My Mailbox

This week was one of the ones where I didn't think much would come, then was pleasantly surprised otherwise. I did buy a few books, telling myself it was an early birthday present before next week but, um, I also ordered a bunch more so basically it was a lame lie. Habits of an addict, I suppose.

For Review:
Compulsion by Heidi Ayarbe (Not picture but already read it and its phenomenal)
Slice of Cherry by Dia Reeves
Where I Belong by Gwendolyn Heasley
The Sapphire Talisman by Brenda Pandos
The Water Wars by Cameron Stratcher
Bull Rider by Suzanne Morgan Williams
Injane by Douglas Pearson
(Huge thanks to Heidi + HarperCollins, Dia + Simon & Schuster, Gwendolyn Heasley, Brenda Pandos, Kelley & Hall Book Publicity, Suzanne Morgan Williams + Simon & Schuster, and Pot-Boilers Publishing)

From Mindi Scott:
Signed Freefall (LOVE this book!)

Inside Out by Maria V. Snyder

Banished by Sophie Littlefield
The Curse of the Wendigo (The Monstrumologist 2) by Rick Yancey
Mostly Good Girls by Leila Sales

IMM is a weekly meme hosted by The Story Siren.

Also exciting this week.... Suzanne Young revealed the cover for her 2011 release A Need So Beautiful. Not only does this book look and sound absolutely amazing... the cover is absolutely gorgeous, and I think it is most definitely going to be hugely tied to and representative of the story itself. This one isn't coming out until June 2011 but make sure it stays on your radar. In Suzanne's own words from the post on her blog of the reveal, this book is "about a girl who is compelled to help people, even though each time she does, her friends and family start to forget who she is--her very existence fading into a glowing light."

Awesome, right? Now check out this hot little number:

Not going to lie, lovelies. I completely love the intensity on her face and the expression... and the title font is amazing. So considering this a Waiting on Wednesday (even though I most definitely will be using it again for that soon enough) and a reveal all in one. Because this one... yep. WANT.

Friday, October 29, 2010

Author Interview + Contest: Kersten Hamilton (Blog Tour Stop)

Here today is Kersten Hamilton, author of the debut release Tyger, Tyger, to answer some questions and give away a copy of the book as well as the final letter reveal for the Kindle giveaway! This is the final stop in Kersten's month long blog tour coordinated by The {Teen} Book Scene. Full the full schedule and stops, go here.

What would Teagan, Abby and Finn's favorite books be?

Teagan would be torn between Emergency Procedures for the Small Animal Veterinarian by Signe J. Plunkett, and Mac Cumhaill—The Physiology of an Irresistible Irishmen, which she would research and write herself.

Abby: Books? Abby doesn’t do books. She does love movies and TV shows. Anything with a vampire or werewolf is pretty high on her list. No zombies though. They freak her out. She can’t imagine having a zombie for a boyfriend for two very good reasons: First, there are very few Italian zombies so her mama would not approve. Second, she’d always be worrying about which part might fall off next. Eww.

Finn’s not much of a fiction man. Fighting for his life hasn’t left him with a lot of time for reading. But you might find a copy of
When All Hell Breaks Loose—Stuff You Need to Survive When Disaster Strikes by Cody Lunden in the bottom of his kit.

If Teagan and Abby could travel back to any period in time, where would each girl like to go?

Abby would go directly to the 1930’s when plush–sized sex goddesses like Mae West ruled the silver screen. She’d wear bright red lipstick, get a permanent wave, spurn the advances of rich Italian men (most of the time) and become a world–renowned artist.

Teagan would travel back to 1930’s as well—taking Finn with her, of course. There they would befriend Jane Goodall. After having won the friendship and admiration of the British primatologist, they would join her on her 45–year study of the social and family interactions of wild chimpanzees.

If you could pair Teagan and Finn with any character from any book, who would your picks be?

Anyone but Tea for Finn? Teagan would never put up with that.

Anyone but Finn for Tea? Like that could happen, boyo.

You're stranded on a deserted island! What one person would you want to be stranded with you?

My husband. He’s my own Finn Mac Cumhaill. Not only cute, but very useful.

What kind of cookie would you describe yourself as?

Considering my life of mayhem and misadventure, I guess I’d have to say tough cookie!

Thanks, Kersten! Now for your chance to win a copy of Tyger, Tyger, fill out this form. The book will be ordered for the winner from The Book Depository, so this IS international. Ends Sunday, November 14.

At each of the 12 hosting blogs, a different letter has been revealed. The final letter is "L". Once you've collected all the letters, unscramble them and fill out the form on this page to be entered to win a brand new Kindle.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Book Review: Tyger, Tyger (Blog Tour Stop)


Teagan Wylltson's best friend, Abby, dreams that horrifying creatures--goblins, shape-shifters, and beings of unearthly beauty but terrible cruelty--are hunting Teagan. Abby is always coming up with crazy stuff, though, so Teagan isn't worried. Her life isn't in danger. In fact, it's perfect. She's on track for a college scholarship. She has a great job. She's focused on school, work, and her future. No boys, no heartaches, no problems.

Until Finn Mac Cumhaill arrives. Finn's a bit on the unearthly beautiful side himself. He has a killer accent and a knee-weakening smile. And either he's crazy or he's been haunting Abby's dreams, because he's talking about goblins, too . . . and about being The Mac Cumhaill, born to fight all goblin-kind. Finn knows a thing or two about fighting. Which is a very good thing, because this time, Abby's right. The goblins are coming.


The Short Version:
Unique in concept and interesting in execution, Tyger Tyger blends myth and legends to a new form of reality. Though slow to start and holding some awkward transitions and abrupt changes, once things pick up, the pacing stays strong and interesting. Filled with lore and the relevant mythology, the reader gets fully immersed into this world. With simple events triggering the majority of the story, the basic events are easy to follow. Teagan, Finn and Aiden are all strong characters, developed quite well overall, and amusing in their interactions, helping tie things together.

The Extended Version:
Teagan was an admittedly hard character for me to connect with and get into, always seeming like there was a wall separating us. She accepted things almost too easily and too readily for my tastes, and seemed to ignore things just as simply. Despite this, she had several endearing and redeeming qualities about her, with her devotion to her family standing out. The way her family interacted at the beginning was fantastically well done, driving across the point of how close this family is. Her devotion to her family and especially her little brother really built her character. Teagan wasn’t overly emotional, nor did she immediately fall for and swoon over Finn, despite an immediate charge between them that bothered her more than anything. In many ways, Teagan was very relatable over all.

Aiden, Teagan’s little brother, was a fantastic character. Bold in his own ways but still holding plenty of childlike innocent and fears inherent to his age, he didn’t bite his tongue, he saw through things, and he brought plenty of humor even in rough situations. He was definitely my favorite character, and held a strong presence throughout, both because of his character and the nature of his role in the book.

Finn, too, was a well done character, though again I felt like there was a disconnection with him. He certainly had a different background, and the effects of it filtered in at different times and in various ways. His own tie in with the mythology is interesting and well done, and his acceptance of things is built in his past.

The plot itself, while definitely slow in the beginning, picks up about half way and holds steady from there on. Initially, the world building came off as weird for me, and the lore was almost too data-dump heavy, but once everything was set up, it certainly came together very well. The descriptions and new places were descriptive and imaginative, holding enough ties to things readers can picture and understand while still being new and intriguing.

Though there were some awkward transitions and some scenes that seemed rushed or bare bones in nature rather than fleshed out and smoothly inserted, the second half of this book by far negates and outshines this. There is a clear element of strong, natural writing, likely to improve in many great ways and hold an overall much more potent quality with the next installment.

Source: Received from publisher for review and as part of a promotional tour with The {Teen} Book Scene
Reading level: Young Adult
Hardcover: 320 pages
Publisher: Clarion Books (November 15, 2010)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0547330081
ISBN-13: 978-0547330082

Blog Tour Guest Post + Contest: Abra Ebner (Knight Angels Series)

Taking over my blog to close out her month long blog tour for Knight Angels 2: Book of Revenge is Abra Ebner, but to complete this hijacking, the majority of the scene she's sharing is a deleted scene from Brenda Pandos' The Emerald Talisman, tweaked to Abra's liking.

If you missed any of the stops on Abra's tour, check them all out here. But to complete this package of awesome authors, Brenda's month long tour The Sapphire Talisman, book 2 in her series, kicks off Monday (full details here).

And finally, stick around after this awesome scene for your chance to win a copy of The Book of Revenge from Abra.

Samantha started up her car as I closed the door and clicked the seat belt in place. Neither of us had spoken since the credits at the end of the movie—Knight Angels.

“Well?” she asked me, brimming with intrigue. “Did you like it?”

The scenes still tumbled in my mind, especially the kiss between Jane and Max after he unfurled his wings. The similarities to my own misshaped life were too close a parallel to my reality and Sam’s. Since I could read her emotions, I knew she loved the movie.

“Good, huh?”

“Good?” Sam restated in disbelief. “That was by far the best movie I’ve seen in a long time—the crazy super powers, the shape-shifter and the angels. I mean, wouldn’t it be incredible if you had a guardian angel . . .” Sam trailed off, choking back her sudden grief.

Her and her dad had been in a tragic accident with a drunk driver when she was in 4th grade. And like the heroine, Sam survived but her father didn’t.

“Yeah,” I said, reaching over and rubbing her shoulder. “I think we all have guardian angels.”

I bit my lip. The fact my mom died tragically too for no good reason stung the open wound of my heart. I wondered why I believed angels to be true. Where were the angels for our parents? Maybe the angels for me didn’t come with wings and a halo.

“Why do you think mine saved me and not my. . .” Sam’s confusion and anguish wafted over me. I cringed and made a barrier against feeling it. She needed me to keep composure and support her instead of falling apart and crying too.

I inhaled sharply. “I don’t know, but apparently there’s a bigger plan for your life that’s not finished yet.”

I faked a smile. Sam’s lips curled up too. She handled her dad’s death better than I did my mom’s.

“Still, I wish I could see mine,” she looked up into the night sky.

I chewed on my fingernail. My guardian angel was the least likely of paranormal creatures—a half-vampire. And he saved me from the bloodthirsty stalker that took my mother’s life. Maybe Sam did have a guardian angel.

The suggestion got me thinking.

By Brenda Pandos, author of the Emerald Talisman Series, for Knight Angels Series

Thank you Abra and Brenda for that fantastic scene!

For your chance to win a copy of The Book of Revenge, fill out this form and tell me which boy is your favorite: Wes (yep, my favorite. Swoon), Max, or Nicholas. (If you haven't read the books, you can still pick one.)

Contest is US/Canada only. Ends Sunday, November 14.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Waiting on Wednesday

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

This week's pick is Playing Hurt by Holly Schindler, coming March 8, 2011 from Flux.


Star basketball player Chelsea "Nitro" Keyes had a full ride to college—and everyone's admiration back home. Then she took a horrible fall during senior year. Now a metal plate holds her together and she feels like a stranger in her own family.

That summer, Chelsea's dad hires Clint, a nineteen-year-old ex-hockey player and "boot camp" trainer, to work with her at a northern Minnesota lake resort. As they grow close, Chelsea finds that Clint's haunted by his own tragedy. Will their romance end up hurting them all over again—or finally heal their heartbreak?

My Thoughts:

I honestly love dramatic romances- ones where there is romance and it's important, but there's another big thing going on too. The heartbreak and inherent pain and secrets in this one are just intriguing, and have so much potential over all. The cover is simple but cute, and I think this one is going to be fantastic overall!

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Teaser Tuesday

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

This week's teaser comes from Empty by Suzanne Weyn.

"Gwen was halfway across the roof when a dark form abruptly appeared in her path. Startling, she slipped and began and uncontrollable slide." --page 28 in the ARC which is HIGHLY subject to change.


It's the near future - the very near future - and the fossil fuels are running out. No gas. No oil. Which means no driving. No heat. Supermarkets are empty. Malls have shut down. Life has just become more local than we ever knew it could be.

Nobody expected the end to come this fast. And in the small town of Spring Valley, decisions that once seemed easy are quickly becoming matters of life and death. There is hope - there has to be hope - just there are also sacrifices that need to be made, and a whole society that needs to be rethought.

Teens like Nicki, Tom, and Leila may find what they need to survive. But their lives are never going to be the same again.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Author Interview: Simone Elkeles

Stopping in today is the fantastic woman behind the Perfect Chemistry series, Simone Elkeles, to answer a few questions about not only these books, but Leaving Paradise as well.

Which of the three Fuentes brothers have you enjoyed writing the most?

That's a really tough question! The Fuentes brothers are like my children and I could never pick between them! Although, I will say that Alex stressed me out less than Carlos or Luis. I wrote Perfect Chemistry before I was published, so I wasn't under a deadline and didn't feel as much stress or pressure.

If Carlos and Alex were to be put into a gladiator style competition against each other, which one would come out on top?

Definitely Alex; big brothers always win. Although, it would definitely be an impressive fight!

If you could pair Alex, Brittany, Caleb and Maggie with any characters from any books, who would you pick for them?

Hmmmm. . .For Alex, I would pick Brittany, and for Caleb, I would pick Maggie. I know I'm not being fair to the question, but I wrote them for each other and it would hurt me to see the with anyone else!

Which would you pick: the guy who's done his time in jail or the gangbanger?

Neither. Even though I have a soft spot for bad boys, it's primarily in literature. Besides, all of my bad boys are redeemable and turn out to be VERY good guys in the end.

What is the most private thing you're willing to share here?

Even though some of my characters have done drugs and drink alcohol, I’ve never gotten drunk and I’ve never done drugs…I’ve never even smoked a cigarette. I’ve done a lot of drug research online because I know nothing about it, and my husband says, “The police track what you Google, you know.” I laugh because if the police come to my house to check me out, the closest thing to “drugs” that they’ll find is a sealed bottle of Nyquil cold medicine.

What kind of cake or confection would you describe yourself as?

Red velvet cheescake from the cheesecake factory! I'm edgy enough to be different and interesting (the red velvet part), but classic enough to appeal to all ages!

Thank you, Simone, for that great interview? And awesome readers, if you haven't checked out Perfect Chemistry, Rules of Attraction and Leaving Paradise, make sure you do it quickly!

Saturday, October 23, 2010

In My Mailbox

Before I get to the books part of this book post... I am announcing that I have officially signed up for NaNoWriMo. Flamingo1325 is my username for those of who want to follow/friend/etc. I am going to write SlackerBoy which I am incredibly excited about... so in theory in just over a month, I will have my third manuscript for 2010 written which is kind of an awesome feeling. On that note, if my blog slacks off some next month, you now know why. My goal is to not let my blog suffer, but I get a little neurotic and hyper focused when I write, especially when I'm barreling through the draft. So... on that note, I bring you my books.

For Review:
Ship Breaker by Paulo Bacigalupi

Freeze Frame by Heidi Ayarbe (Signed)

Rocky Road (Signed)
Zombies vs Unicorns ARC by Holly Black Justine Larbalestier
The Dark is Rising by Susan Cooper

Crossing Over by Anna Kendall
Salvaged by Stefne Miller

YA Spooktacular: Darkness (Story 1, Part 3)

This is the third part of the first story in the YA Spooktacular. This is one story, written in parts by several different authors and posting on various blogs. For full details on this and the prize packs, check out the bit below the story.

If you haven't started in on this yet, check out the first part here. Continuing the story is the fan-frickin-tastic Courtney Allison Moulton, the brains behind Angelfire.

Her name was Anna.

It was so rare for anyone to see him, so when they did, his attention was immediately locked on them. It was a single, fluttering moment, barely half a heart’s beat, when their eyes had met, her sun-kissed hazel on his stormy dark gray, that sent them both on a collision course. He had seen enough fear on the faces of humans to instantly tell there was none in her gaze.

There was recognition—the falling of her gentle features as if she knew his kind and pitied them, pitied him. This perplexed him, drove him mad with curiosity, for why would any creature feel sorry for something like him?

And this only drew him more strongly to her.

Their first words to each other, those first moments of contact, those first days and weeks of eventual passion—he knew better. He knew just how unwise every word, every touch, had been. But she was too tempting, her sunlight was too tempting—and sunlight just wasn’t his thing. That’s how he knew it could never last. If he stayed with her, she would never last.

He knew, even from the beginning, that his curiosity was what had spelled her doom—for there were others like him, others far darker than he.

Head on over The Book Labyrinth to see where this is going! And thank you, Courtney, for that awesome addition to the story!

Also make sure to check out the second story, starting here, and called A Soul Laid Bare.

The icing on the proverbial cake and following these stories? The prizes! To get on this, make sure you comment on every post/section for the stories. If you want to enter both prizes packs (yes, there's a prize for each story thread), then you have to comment on all the posts. But, don't think of it as a must do... think of it as getting to read a whole bunch of awesome stuff from awesome YA authors, and letting them know you appreciate it.

On top of this (yep, it gets better), there are Trick or Treat stops along the way. Take part in these and you'll get even more entries into the prize packs! If you need more details, or want a list of all the stops so you don't miss any, it's here.

Friday, October 22, 2010


I have a lot of winners to announce (again). Everyone has been contacted, but to make it all official and what not....

The Panic Zone Winners: Scott and Erin

Nightshade ARC: Jamie L

Natalie Standiford 2 book Giveaway: Lale G

Scars: Jess (The Cozy Reader)

Thomas and the Dragon Queen: Melissa G

Thank you everyone who entered, and congrats to the winners!

Book Review: Girl, Stolen by April Henry


Sixteen year-old Cheyenne Wilder is sleeping in the back of a car while her mom fills her prescription at the pharmacy. Before Cheyenne realizes what's happening, their car is being stolen--with her inside! Griffin hadn’t meant to kidnap Cheyenne, all he needed to do was steal a car for the others. But once Griffin's dad finds out that Cheyenne’s father is the president of a powerful corporation, everything changes—now there’s a reason to keep her. What Griffin doesn’t know is that Cheyenne is not only sick with pneumonia, she is blind. How will Cheyenne survive this nightmare, and if she does, at what price?


The Short Version:
Intense and focused, Girl, Stolen does a striking job showing the determination of one girl to survive, despite her fear and handicaps. Choosing the right moments for shocking reveals, showing deep into the mind of not only Cheyenne but giving strong insight into Griffin as well, this book doesn’t make excuses but still gives understanding to the entire situation. Shifting between pulse pounding and lags, the true nature of Cheyenne’s entire experience is portrayed in a very blunt manner, written in a way that pulls the reader in while still leaving a clear boundary with Cheyenne.

The Extended Version:
Cheyenne has a strong personal strength that has nothing to do with her lack of eyesight. The reason for her blindness is saddening, but the way she manages it and the way she learns to get past it, even in this situation, is emboldening. Though her reactions seem off when Griffin first takes off the in the car, it isn’t a turn off as a reader and it quickly becomes clear she is just trying to figure things out, almost too stunned to be “normal.” As things progress, her sympathies towards Griffin are both frustrating and understanding, particularly when his situation starts to be revealed as well. There is a softness that forms between the two, tugging at the reader as well, while still making it clear Cheyenne won't let that sympathy interfere with an escape.

Griffin is a highly sympathetic character despite his actions, the perfect example of the victim of circumstance and a product of his situation. His interactions with his dad and the men who work for him are hard to read and intense, and the boy who comes out of it as a result is easy to side with until its thrown back into perspective that he’s the reason Cheyenne is being held captive. This constant battle for the reader is well handled, and reignited at the right moments, even in the lulls in action.

Though I did have a bit of a harder time connecting to the characters because of the third person perspective, it did give the sense of watching and observing while still being involved in things. Primarily focusing on Cheyenne and giving insight to her thoughts, Griffin and his father were showcased as well, building all of their characters strongly. Cheyenne’s cunning and impressive problem solving skills helped drive much of the plot, and everything was completely realistic for the situation.

There were a few surprising twists, and the majority of the book was by no means predictable. After coming to an adrenaline rush of a climax, everything is tied up and ends on a very fantastic note, given the scope and events of the story. Nothing is rushed, holding nothing back about Cheyenne’s particular captive situation. The lingering impact of this book is impressive and intense, and certainly well worth the read and highly recommended.

Source: Received for review from publisher
Reading level: Young Adult
Hardcover: 224 pages
Publisher: Henry Holt and Co. (BYR); First Edition edition (September 28, 2010)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0805090053
ISBN-13: 978-0805090055

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Blog Tour Guest Post: Erin McCahan

Hitting up my blog today is I Now Pronounce You Someone Else author Erin McCahan, giving us a look into her teenage years, garage sale style.

Mostly, when I think of my teenage years, I wish I had been my own mother or older sister, saying, “Uh, no,” to any number of bad fashion choices I actually left the house in. Also keep in mind, please, that I grew up in the 80s, a decade marked by bad fashion and bizarre trends that we all loved at the time but definitely don’t want to revisit in real time. So when I was asked what from my teen years I’d sell at a garage sale, I just smiled, and thought – pretty much everything from my bedroom and closet. So with that in mind, the following would be for sale at the Teen Years Garage Sale, this weekend, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., come early for best selection:

For $1.00

  1. The curling iron I regularly got my so-long-I-could-sit-on-it hair stuck in.
  2. Bottles of Sun-In that were supposed to add sun-kissed highlights to my blonde hair but just turned it orange.
  3. My pink-and-green plaid – yes, plaid – jumper – yes, jumper.
  4. The Rubik’s Cube I never solved.
  5. The round, white telephone I asked for in 9th grade.
  6. A shoebox full of eye shadow – mostly in shades of purple, which did not, as a beauty expert in some magazine wrote, highlight the blue of my eyes but made me look like I’d gotten punched in them, instead.
  7. Benetton sweaters – name the color, I had it.
  8. Big barrettes with a big bow on each one – in a variety of colors to match my nifty Benetton sweaters.
  9. One defective Ouija board. Never got one reliable message from the spook world, but, in retrospect, I’m glad of that. There are certain things I do not wish to tamper with now, and the spook world is definitely one of them.
  10. Tennis shoe roller skates – size 8.5.
  11. Roughly 14 pairs of argyle socks in such nifty color combinations as gray and pink or blue and green.
  12. One complete Trivial Pursuit game. (Though I might reconsider selling this. It may be fun to play now.)

For $2.00

  1. Maroon-colored pea coat. The entire school had navy blue. My mother just had to make me different and buy me a maroon one.
  2. Portable, electric typewriter weighing roughly 12 pounds. That and a watch were my high school graduation presents. I’m keeping the watch.
  3. The electronic game Simon, batteries not included.
  4. A Sony Walkman, which was like strapping a brick onto my waist, but I wore that brick every day.
  5. Wicker bookshelves, tipping slightly to the right.
  6. bunch of different Swatch Watches.
  7. multiple tennis skirts – hideously ugly “tennis panties” included.
Make Me An Offer
  1. A three-year collection of Torch newspapers – my high school paper – containing every article I ever wrote or edited and every page I designed.
  2. One boom-box with built-in cassette player, and a complete collection of Styx and R.E.M. tapes up to 1989.
  3. a doll collection my mother and grandmothers were determined to give me despite my protestations one Christmas that “I hate this doll crap.”
  4. one rarely used guitar, despite 2 years of lessons.
  5. One add-a-pearl necklace that stopped getting added to after about 13 pearls the size of tomato seeds.
  6. My all maroon – apparently to match my pea coat – Buick Skylark, four doors, boxy, bench seats, no cruise control, no fm radio, no power locks, no power windows, excellent condition. I loved that car, but – really – everything but the seatbelt buckles was maroon.
  7. And for that lucky person who shares my initials (ESM): a bewildering array of monogrammed sweaters, shirts, sheets, towels, cushions, jewelry, tote bags, paper, stationary, pens and pencils and – are you sitting down? – a pink, plastic shoe-organizer with the name Erin printed in big black letters at the top. I know. It sounds too good to be true, but, no, really. I had it.
Thank you, Erin, for that humorous look into your teenage years. Now for my blog readers, take that openness and humor and think of how it will inevitably show up in Erin's book. Yep. You're grinning at the thought. Now go get it!

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Book Review: John Belushi is Dead by Kathy Charles



Pink-haired Hilda and oddball loner Benji are not your typical teenagers. Instead of going to parties or hanging out at the mall, they comb the city streets and suburban culs-de-sac of Los Angeles for sites of celebrity murder and suicide. Bound by their interest in the macabre, Hilda and Benji neglect their schoolwork and their social lives in favor of prowling the most notorious crime scenes in Hollywood history and collecting odd mementos of celebrity death.

Hilda and Benji’s morbid pastime takes an unexpected turn when they meet Hank, the elderly, reclusive tenant of a dilapidated Echo Park apartment where a silent movie star once stabbed himself to death with a pair of scissors. Hilda feels a strange connection with Hank and comes to care deeply for her paranoid new friend as they watch old movies together and chat the sweltering afternoons away. But when Hank’s downstairs neighbor Jake, a handsome screenwriter, inserts himself into the equation and begins to hint at Hank’s terrible secrets, Hilda must decide what it is she’s come to Echo Park searching for . . . and whether her fascination with death is worth missing out on life.


The Short Version:
Beautifully grotesque and poignant, John Belushi is Dead slips a coming of age tale into a world of the macabre and death, a world centered around a teenage girl struggling to figure things out. Covering a range of situations and emotions, and with dramatic, essential and striking character growth and development, this debut will suck the reader in and leave them ragged after the twisted ride. With a small cast that covers a range of ages and personalities, several shocking hooks and twists, and a gritty and raw way of showing the world as it is, John Belushi is Dead is rapt with powerful messages, fumbles and all.

The Extended Version:
Hilda is an intricate character, harboring layers of darkness despite the frankness about her from the beginning. There is a very striking, honest change in her from the beginning to end, and the road that leads her there is painful, unexpected and rough. Charles has done an absolutely amazing job with this character, building her in multiple dimensions and showing all her flaws. Hilda’s world perception and outlook speak bounds about her, and her interactions with not only Benji but everyone else she encounters fluctuates as the story progresses. The way Hilda comes to new realizations and understandings is one of the best I’ve read, speaking straight into any reader no matter the actual reasons to kick it off.

Benji is a gritty character, not quite right in ways the reader can see early on. Even as Hilda starts to see signs off this dissonance, she has a hard time facing and accepting it. Benji drives some strong parts of the plot, but his character and actions don't overshadow Hilda or her story. He is there when needed, lurking in her thoughts as expected, but not overly present and a turn off. Much of Benji and Hilda’s history is shown as the story progresses, building their relationship and what led them to the point they find themselves at throughout the book, while not bogging things down with too much past recollection. Benji, too, makes striking strides and development, and often will leave the reader gutted and stunned.

Hank is a crack up, a bitter old man who doesn’t bite his tongue and comes off as brash and unflinching as Hilda. They are an interesting pair, and form a gentle kinship that gives this book something unique and refreshing, while still keeping things in line with the overall air and nature. Hank has secrets of his own, but a deep understanding of people and Hilda herself, and the way things unfold between the two is both beautiful and stunning.

Jake, too, is a unique character, adding his own bit of flair while often remaining cloaked in mystery. Like Benji, there is something not quite right about Jake but for different reasons and with a different presentation. Regardless, Jake plays an important and strong role, and as with much else in this book, there is something gentle and fluid about his presence and purpose.

One of the most prominent features of John Belushi is Dead is the focus on the macabre, centered around Benji and Hilda’s hobby of visiting the places of famous deaths. Whether it was a movie star or simply something notable, this pair had countless knowledge of where the spots were, the gory details of the events, and a bond between them that grew as they visited the places. Though hard for most readers to understand at first, their reasons for this attraction to death come through, but as with many things, it can go too far. As Hilda starts noticing more things about Benji’s behavior, her overall view towards this gawking of death begins to change, but not immediately or without cause. There is an abruptness in the unadulterated way Charles portrays things, not bothering to throw sparkles on the grit that comes with death. Though some scenes and parts are hard to read and almost sickening, it isn’t for shock value or without purpose, and Charles handles this aspect flawlessly.

The setting is lushly written, bringing to life not only Beverly Hills and LA, but the specific sites/places the pair visits. From the graveyards to the houses, from Benji’s wealthy set up to Hank’s run down apartment, each setting is vivid and well described. It is easy to imagine standing next to Benji while he snaps photos.

The plot is very character driven, focused on Hilda’s changing views and need for growth and change, but still holds plenty of action and movement. There are some very intense, emotional and striking scenes, and an overall air of the death that all but seems to cling to Hilda lingers in the air constantly. Things progress to a few unforeseeable and shocking climaxes, one particular scene more powerful and gutting than the rest, which really bring everything together. Through Hilda’s eyes, especially, things come as a shock and are almost painful to read, the full impact warded off only by her disbelief and reactions. The deeper messages and shifting views on many things are driven into the reader in subtle but powerful ways, resonating long after the book is closed.

Source: Received for review from author
Paperback: 320 pages
Publisher: MTV; Original edition (August 24, 2010)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1439187592
ISBN-13: 978-1439187593

Waiting on Wednesday

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

This week's pick is Sean Griswold's Head by Lindsey Leavitt, coming March 1, 2011 from Bloomsbury.

Summary: Payton Gritas needs a focus object—something to focus her emotions on after discovering that her father’s been hiding his multiple sclerosis. Her guidance counselor suggested something inanimate but Payton chooses the thing she stares at during class: Sean Griswold’s head. They’ve been linked since third grade (Griswold-Gritas, it’s an alphabetical order thing), but she’s never really noticed him before.

Payton starts stalking—er, focusing on—Sean’s big blond head, and her research quickly grows into something a little less scientific and a lot more crush-like. As Payton gets inside Sean’s head, Sean finds a way into her guarded heart. But obsessing over Sean won’t fix Payton’s fear of her dad’s illness. For that, she’ll have to focus on herself.

My Thoughts: Even though people complain about sick/dead/absent parents in YA, I like that in this case, it's that the dad has been hiding it, and I like that Leavitt it using MS. But then add in the fact that she's stalking a boy's head? This one looks like it will be a great mix of humor and laughs with the grit of sickness and twisted with emotions. This one seems to have many basic things as its starting ground, but that just means there won't be a need to explain things and can just jump right into the story. Basically, I really want this one. Then we can all wish we could stare at Sean Griswold's head when we swoon for him.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Book Review: Fearscape by Simon Holt


The Vours: evil, demonic beings that inhabit human bodies on Sorry Night, the darkest hours of the Winter Solstice.

It's been a year since Reggie first discovered the Vours, and the Winter Solstice is approaching once again. It will be another night of unspeakable horror for those unlucky enough to be taken by the Vours, because this time, she won't be able to stop them. The Vours have imprisoned Reggie in a psychiatric hospital, where she is subjected to a daily routine of unfathomably sadistic experiments. Her life is a living Hell, but she won't give up. They attacked her brother. They killed her friend. And Reggie will never stop fighting back.


The Short Version:
Keeping in line with the first two books, Fearscape continues Reggie's struggle in new and shocking ways. There is an almost constant note of terror weaved throughout this book, and the full scope of things is genius in nature and almost unbelievable in scope. Though Reggie's character continues to be battered and tested, she pushes herself beyond even the limits she thought she had. With some new characters, but a cast centered around the same ones we know, Fearscape kicks things up a few notches with flawless and bold, detailed writing.

The Extended Version:
Reggie finds herself lost in the aftermath of Soulstice, being tested in almost unimaginable ways and struggling to find reasons to keep pushing through it. Her battle is painful and twisted, but her inner strength shines through in equally astonishing ways. As this book progresses, Reggie faces plenty of other events and trials, some surprising and some much needed. The way she handles everything, even when she comes off as bratty, is understandable and her motivations clear.

Aaron makes some new strides in this installment as well, having already changed in some ways but steps up in other ways now. His loyalty to Reggie is so intense it's almost a detriment, and his dislike of Quinn has a similar effect. Now deeper into everything related to the Vours and trying almost anything to save Reggie, Aaron makes some interesting decisions and pushes the plot in new ways, now grown into a character as dominating and important as Reggie herself.

Quinn, too, makes some interesting changes in this installment and the reader finally gets a much closer look into him and his life. There are some poignant scenes involving Quinn, and he has a stunning role throughout this book. Quinn and Reggie find some common ground between them, bonding them in a way many can't understand, and this particular facet is handled delicately and smoothly.

The new fearscapes the reader sees are intricate, and Holt's ability to create them and weave Reggie through them is as on point in Fearscape as with the previous books. This plot really pushes things forward, having a surprising overall scope that is impossible to predict and almost gutting to realize. The subtle similarities to real life kick up the emotion and terror as well, and though some parts of the book were slower than others, it was clear Reggie needed those slow times.

Still written in third person, the connections between the reader and the characters remain strong. Holt's writing is flawless and attentive to details, weaving a strong picture for the reader. From the fearscapes to the action, everything is brought to life. The events of this book are pretty much all tied up, leaving the reader in a good place but also leaving things open for another book. The almost impossibility of defeating the Vours continues to drive things, as does the strength of humanity and goodness, all tying up to be yet another hit and fantastic read.

Source: Purchased
Reading level: Young Adult
Hardcover: 320 pages
Publisher: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers; 1 edition (October 5, 2010)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 031603570X
ISBN-13: 978-0316035705

Monday, October 18, 2010

Author Interview + Giveaway: Catherine Ryan Hyde (Blog Tour Stop)

Dropping in today and kicking off the start of her four week blog tour is Catherine Ryan Hyde, talking about her latest release Jumpstart the World. Other titles by Catherine include Pay It Forward, Becoming Chloe and The Day I Killed James, amongst more. Yes, more. Jumpstart the World is Catherine's 14th published novel. Stick around after this great interview for your chance to win a copy of Jumpstart the World.

What was the hardest aspect about writing about Elle and Frank?

I had to decide how much I was willing to let Frank suffer. If you're writing about a transgender character, it seems unrealistic to ignore the fact that everything from mild disapproval to outright brutality are regular events in the lives of people in transition. I couldn't turn my back on that. But, after a couple of false starts, I figured out that I didn't want Frank to have to be a martyr. It's easy to die at the hands of others while transitioning, but that didn't mean poor Frank had to. Lots of people don't. But the specter of violence is still part of their reality. (Note: It drives me crazy when parents and friends try to talk people out of living as gay or transgender because they might get hurt. It's the bigotry that causes the danger. Bigotry is the disease to be healed, not LGBT.) Finally I figured out a way to show his vulnerability without his having to fall victim.

If Elle could witness one historical event in person, what would she like to see?

Though she might not have given it much thought as the book began, I think by the end of the book Elle would want to see marriage equality finally win out. The Supreme Court, maybe, ruling that it's unconstitutional to deny such basic rights to anyone. And I think she'd want to see the passage of ENDA (the Employment Non-Discrimination Act) because right now it's legal in 29 states to discriminate based on sexual orientation, and in 38 states based on gender identity or expression. Now that she knows Frank, and genuinely loves him, that would mean a lot to her. She knows why that's such a big deal. But that's a future historical event. Unfortunately.

If you could pair Elle and Frank with any characters from any books, who would you pick for them?

Definitely Jordy and Chloe (from Becoming Chloe). I think about the fact that they all live in New York City (well, Jordy and Chloe did, at the beginning of their book). And it's weird to think that they could run into each other on a subway car or on the street. In a purely fictional way, of course. But I know they would look into each others' eyes and connect. They would understand and feel for each other. I can almost hear the little click.

What is the most private thing you're willing to share here?

I could tell you that I grew up with a transgender sibling, but it really isn't all that private. To treat that as a secret is to suggest that there's something wrong with it, which I don't believe to be true. So I guess I'll tell you that I dropped about two decades of my life (probably about the same era of my life as most of the people who are reading this) to problems with alcohol and other drugs. I got into recovery in 1989, and I'm sure it's no coincidence that I settled down and got serious about my writing soon afterwards. Before that, I doubt I was serious about anything long-range. It seemed all my energy was going into surviving the very short term issues, of which there were many.

What kind of cake or confection would you describe yourself and Elle as?

This involves pretending for a minute that I don't have a wheat allergy. Which I think I can manage. I think I would be a nice carrot cake with a rich cream cheese frosting. But Elle would be chocolate. Dark chocolate, or maybe even a German chocolate cake with coconut. Notice neither of us is particularly fluffy. No angel's food or lemon cake or anything silly like that. Gotta be more heavy duty stuff.

Thank you so much for that great interview, Catherine, and congrats another fantastic release!

Purchase Jumpstart the World now!
Book Depository

To enter for your chance to win a copy of this book, fill out this form. This contest is US/Canada only and ends Wed, Oct 27 at 6 pm CST.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Book Review: The Jumbee by Pamela Keyes


When Esti Legard starts theater school on Cariba, she's determined to step out of the shadow of her late father, a famous Shakespearean actor. But on an island rife with superstition, Esti can't escape the darkness. In the black of the theater, an alluring phantom voice, known only as Alan, becomes her brilliant drama tutor, while in the light of day Esti struggles to resist her magnetic attraction to Rafe, the local bad boy. Toppled sets, frightening rumors of jumbee ghosts, and brewing tropical storms culminate in a tantalizingly spooky finale where romance sizzles and truths are unmasked.

Laced with eerie mystery and the lush scenery of the West Indies, this modern Phantom is perfect for readers who like their love stories served with spine-tingling suspense.


The Short Version:
Rich in West Indies culture and interesting in premise, The Jumbee weaves a new ghost and creates a unique love triangle as a result. Centered on Esti but written in third person perspective, the wide cast of characters is full of life and intrigue. Though seemingly slow in the beginning, the mystery weaves in smoothly and the play style chapter breakdown builds the overall air more. With a heavy emphasis on romance and the dual love angle, The Jumbee is a great blend of romance and ghosts.

The Extended Version:
Esti is a character who is strong and intelligent, though brash in a certain way that makes her relatively unapproachable. Living in the shadow of her now now dead but well renowned throughout the theater circuit father, Esti is striving to make a name for herself that has nothing to do with her last name, while now also living not only in a new place but an entirely different continent all together. Her new school, however, is mixed with Continental students and locals, creating an easy connection for the reader. Esti is intense and passionate in nature, and though her indecision and flip flopping between Alan and Rafe is frustrating and repetitive, the underlying reason and emotion is very strongly written.

Rafe is a seemingly stereotypical character, a true womanizer who is used to get any girl he wants until Esti comes walking into his life, but the underlying reasons and the chemistry and tug between them is fantastic. With some shared history in their pasts and the current drama of Esti's life complicating things more, there is a fire between them that drives the plot in surprising ways. Rafe is smooth in manner and suave in his words, but he, too, holds an underlying vulnerability that shows through at just the right moments to bring him into a good light with the reader.

Alan is a raging ball of mystery, coming off as moody and almost selfish in his actions and manners. The secret meetings he has backstage with Esti, which don't say secret long, are the primary source of social strain and dislike for Esti, yet she feel such a strong connection to him she doesn't immediately drop him. Also unused to the jumbee legends and not sure she even believes it, Esti continues to strongly hope and believe Alan is real. Unfazed by his supposed age of twenty-five and reacting to the intensity and passion she insights in him, which comes off in a very different way than what Rafe causes, it is very easy for the reader to see why Esti feels a constant pull back towards him.

The local culture is written in a beautiful way, slipped in both subtly and flamboyantly. From the parades to the local legends and superstitions, both Esti and the reader get a full immersion in life on this particual West Indies island. The local dialect is written into the book, and though I found reading this type of speak to be very jarring, it did help create the sense of being there to some extent.

The plot itself centers around Esti in the theater, and Esti trying to figure things out with both Alan and Rafe. Though I did find the long passages of Esti spouting Shakespeare and practicing different characters outside of Romeo and Juliet with Alan to become repetitive, I did understand its purpose to build not only Alan but Esti's connection to him. There were a few other slow parts outside of this, but overall, this book is filled with emotion and very internally driven.

The third person perspective made it a little difficult to forge a strong connection to Esti, though her reasons and emotions did come across very well. The descriptions, however, were brilliant and vivid, creating the West Indies boldly for the reader. Though Shakespeare is heavily quoted and referenced, the difference between "normal" English and the local dialect also creates an interesting atmosphere, even if haltingly.

Overall, The Jumbee is a great read, especially for those who like both tangled and torn love, as well as ghost stories. Centered on a cultural belief, there is a certain realistic element even to the jumbees. Well paced overall though repetitive for my tastes in the long Shakespeare quoting scenes, this is still well worth the read. Twisting the Phantom of the Opera story in a way that speaks to modern day readers without being a direct imitation of the original, and heavy on passion and feeling, there is a little something for every kind of reader to connect to in this one.

Source: Received for review from Media Muscle
Reading level: Young Adult
Hardcover: 400 pages
Publisher: Dial (October 14, 2010)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0803733135
ISBN-13: 978-0803733138

Saturday, October 16, 2010

In My Mailbox

Though I haven't read it yet, the fact that The Scorch Trials came out this week makes it an amazing week. It is soon in my stack and I am SO excited for it. You should be too, for the record. But enough of that, on to what showed up for Toby and me this week.

And for those of you who will ask... I took this picture at 1 am, and woke him up to put him in his chair. He went back to sleep... He didn't even stay awake while I piled the books on him. That's lazy old fuzzbutt at his best.

For Review:
Demonglass by Rachel Hawkins
Fixing Delilah by Sarah Ockler
(Thank you to Disney/Hyperion and Little, Brown)

Netgalley Review Titles:
Afterlife by Claudia Gray
Unearthly by Cynthia Hand
The Lying Game by Sara Shepard
The Cellar by A. J. Whitten
Butterflies in May by Karen Hart

You by Charles Benoit

The Hollow by Jessica Verday
Hearts at Stake by Alyxandra Harvey

The Scorch Trials by James Dashner
The Game by Monica Hughes
Gifted: Now You See Me by Marilyn Kaye

And in other not really related but I am putting it in here anyhow news, the best friend came to visit last weekend and we carved pumpkins. We also learned that Toby doesn't actually care for the seeds, though he will chew them up and spit out the pieces. He also will try to each the carved pumpkins.... But here's our pumpkins for you Halloween lovers. Mine is the headless horseman, hers a dragon. I also tried getting Toby's picture, but he was not cooperative outside. He was minimally helpful inside but here he is with my pumpkin. He bolted right as the picture flashed and hid. Punk.
So. Happy Halloween. Yay books.

In My Mailbox is a weekly meme hosted by The Story Siren.

Friday, October 15, 2010

Book Review: Crazy by Han Nolan


Fifteen-year-old Jason has fallen upon bad times—his mother has died and his father has succumbed to mental illness. As he tries to hold his crazy father and their crumbling home together, Jason relies on a host of imaginary friends for guidance as he stumbles along trying not to draw attention to his father’s deteriorating condition. Both heartbreaking and funny, CRAZY lives up to the intense and compelling characters Han Nolan is praised for. As Jason himself teeters on the edge of insanity, Nolan uncovers the clever coping system he develops for himself and throws him a lifeline in the guise of friendship.


The Short Version:
A wrenching look at what is likely a real life situation for more teens than we realize, Crazy throws into the spotlight the life of Jason. He is determined and strong, but still just a teenage boy with very limited resources. Almost a year after his mother’s death, Jason is struggling to keep the secret of his father’s declining mental state a secret. Desolate in his living situation, but starting to act out and becoming more impulsive than he realizes, Jason inadvertently sets into motion a string of events that drastically change his life. With a wide cast of characters that all touch Jason’s life in different ways, and some gutting scenes that hold nothing back in portrayal, Crazy is a very well handled, very memorable book and a must read.

The Extended Version:
With a unique mental state of his own, a bold determination not often seen, and a subtle helplessness about him, Jason makes for a very interesting protagonist. Weary of making friends, Jason’s thought processes are divided up into voices, so to speak. He imagines his life as a TV show, and different members of the audience take different parts of his mind. This holds a strong presence throughout the book, particularly because of how closely it could mimic his father’s mental state. Jason goes through a striking amount of development, both in how he accepts help and how he sees the world around him. Things he’s kept hidden and repressed finally come to light, leaving both him and the reader with a new outlook.

The three friends Jason makes through a lunchtime therapy session with the school psychologist are a ragtag group that wouldn’t necessarily be close if it wasn’t for the common ground of needing help. Their reasons for being there are different, but they still have that connection. They form a beautiful bond, and the kinship that grows between them really carries throughout the book. A side plot of an unexpected romance and overall resolution with all of these characters also adds another great element overall.

Split between screenwriting style narration with the characters in Jason’s head and his own personal narrative, Crazy gives the reader plenty to dive into. The different styles of writing still hold an overall fluidity and there is both a smoothness and abruptness that comprises the bulk of the prose. There are several scenes in this book that are downright heartbreaking to read, tearing the reader apart as they watch Jason struggle with his father, and struggle to keep things hidden. His devotion to his father overwhelms even his own problems, creating something both hard and understandable.

This is a new twist on the coming of age story, adding in a situation that will go straight to the reader’s heart. Heavy on the crazy aspect and with a character that fights against any kind of help, Crazy is most definitely a contemporary book to read.

Source: ARC received for review from publisher
Reading level: Young Adult
Hardcover: 352 pages
Publisher: Harcourt Children's Books (September 13, 2010)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0152051090
ISBN-13: 978-0152051099

Thursday, October 14, 2010

YA Love Triangle Week

Pretty soon, I am going to be doing what will definitely be an awesome guest post over at Down the Rabbit Hole for her YA Love Triangle Week. My feature? Team Adrian from Vampire Academy. Basically, Amber's getting teams set up to argue different sides of the love triangles in several YA books. There are prizes up for grabs as well!

Full details can be found here! Posters are still needed for several teams, including Shay (Nightshade), Oliver (Blue Bloods), and Bill (Sookie Stackhouse). This isn't just which guy should the girl in question choose, but who can make the best argument for why their guy is better.

I am really excited for this and will let you guys know when my post goes live, but if you're interested in helping, check out Amber's site and the info!

Book Recommendations

I have to admit, after having done several recommendation posts by this point, and recommending to people on Twitter regularly, I can never remember what I have and have not talked about. But since I think you can never really push a book you love too much, if some of these are doubles, maybe it will twist your arm to go get it, or if it's already in your stack, you'll push it up. But these are some of my all time favorite YA books- the ones I give my friends to read. The ones I will reread, even when there's a million other books that interest me, because they are just that good.

Hate List by Jennifer Brown: This one is gritty and gutting, but it is such a raw portrayal of not only bullying, but what it's like to not actually be the one who snapped but hold the blame anyhow. There is intense emotion throughout this book, and some incredibly rough scenes, but it speaks such an astounding message.

Perfect Chemistry by Simone Elkeles: Hot Latino gangbanger. Rich girl who acts bratty but is quick on the uptake and intelligent. A bet based in sex and nothing else. Yep, this book has a simple premise but plenty of depth and brilliance. Not to mention, this is one of the hottest books I've read yet. Not geared toward the younger crowd, this one definitely kicks up the heat and shows things as it is. If you want a good romance with drama mixed in, go straight for this one.

Such A Pretty Girl by Laura Weiss: This one is emotional, heartrending, and holds a certain wtf element. But it is powerful and so worth the emotional drainage that comes with it. Handling the rough topic of child sexual abuse gracefully, and pulling in some other great aspects, this one is one of the single most memorable books I've ever read.

Some Girls Are by Courtney Summers: This one takes the bully thread, but does it in a different way. It's girls turning against their own. It's raw and doesn't hold anything back. Some of the things that happen in this book are disgusting, but the reason they are there is clear. Written with a striking grace as well, if you haven't picked this book up yet, go get it. Now.

Freefall by Mindi Scott: It's a boy POV, which sets it up there in my sights already. Add in the fact that that boy is a bit of a broken mess, has a logic so simple its humorous while still being smart despite some of his actions, and is now falling unexpectedly in love, and it's a mixture for something really fantastic. Seemingly raw, there is actually a lot of humor in this book. It's Seth, trying to figure life out, fumbling all along the way.

Those are the ones I've got for you guys today. I know most hold darker elements, but those are the books I gravitate towards. If you haven't picked these books up yet, go do it.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Author Interview: Amber Riley

Dropping in today is Amber Riley, author of Flash of the Firefly, the first book in the Kindred Blood series. This first book centers around the 600 year old vampire Kadan, and his struggle between his humanity and his darker side.

What was the hardest aspect in creating Kaden, given the years of history and experience he has?

The hardest part was finding an appropriate reaction to certain situations. Most things stopped fazing Kaden a long time ago, but I wanted him to be relatable and somewhat human. Being undead didn’t change his true character – it just made him forget what it was for awhile. His nature was a different story. It was difficult to surprise him.

What is one place Kaden has been or event he's experienced that you wish you could have experienced?

This is a tough one. I would have loved to see the court of King Henry VIII. The gowns were amazing and there was enough intrigue to last a lifetime. I would have to watch my head (I kind of like it attached to my body), but I would have chanced it for an opportunity to meet all six of his wives.

What would be your biggest struggle if you found yourself in Kaden's position, fighting against your own personal demons and darkness?

The personal demons and the darkness ultimately want the same thing. Fighting both things at once would be tough. My biggest struggle would be not letting anyone down. In Kaden’s situation, it would have been hard for me to win without doing something that would jeopardize people’s trust in me.

If you could pair Kaden with any character from any book, who would you match him with?

I think it would be interesting to see him paired up with Pam from the Sookie Stackhouse novels. :::snicker::: I can only imagine the fights they would get into.

What is the most private thing you're willing to share here?

I hate bugs. I hate them with a passion. Ladybugs and butterflies are cool but everything else freaks me out. I think it has something to do with all their little legs. Or, maybe it’s the way they crawl. Ick. Give me the reptiles or rodents any day! Of course, I prefer my cats.

If you could commit any crime and get away with it, what would it be?

I would find a way to rig the lottery. No one would get hurt and I would be rolling in the dough. It’s win-win, I’d say.

What kind of cookie would you describe yourself as?

I would be an Oatmeal cookie with a few raisins tossed in. I’m a traditional kind of girl. I don’t need a lot of extras to make me sweet and delicious, but there are a few surprises lurking under the surface once you get to know me.

Thank you, Amber, and if its any consolation, I have a basically disabling fear of spiders. Now make sure you guys all check out Amber's book!