Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Book Review: One Lonely Degree by CK Kelly Martin (Blog Tour Stop)


Finn has always felt out of place, but suddenly her world is unraveling. It started with The Party. And Adam Porter. And the night in September that changed everything. The only person who knows about that night is Audrey—Finn’s best friend, her witness to everything, and the one person Finn trusts implicitly. So when Finn’s childhood friend Jersy moves back to town—reckless, beautiful Jersy, all lips and eyes and hair so soft you’d want to dip your fingers into it if you weren’t careful—Finn gives her blessing for Audrey to date him. How could she possibly say no to Audrey? With Audrey gone for the summer, though, Finn finds herself spending more and more time with Jersy, and for the first time in her life, something feels right. But Finn can’t be the girl who does this to her best friend...can she?


The Short Version:
Realistic and emotional, One Lonely Degree does a beautiful job of blending the good and bad parts of friendship, particularly after the addition of a boyfriend into the mix. The way Finn and Audrey click is clear from the start, and the way Jersy slips in to their world is smoothly handled. With a plot centered around the depths of friendship clashing with the intensity of a boyfriend/girlfriend relationship and written in an easy way, One Lonely Degree is a well done mix of a love triangle, a tested friendship, and first love.

The Extended Version:
Finn is a very sympathetic character and relatable character. She isn't the most social, in part because of her personality and preferences but also due to a bad experience at a party with one of the popular boys at the school. Forcing herself into silence, Finn does what she can to forget that night no matter what, with only her best friend, Audrey, knowing the truth. Though it clearly has changed and impacted Finn, her determination to move past it like it never existed is both heartbreaking and admirable. Finn is a great best friend, loyal to the core, and will do whatever she can for Audrey.

The darker part of Finn shows when she starts to lose Audrey, so to speak, after Audrey's parents catch her in her bedroom with Jersy. Now covering for her friend and losing time with her, Finn still fights to be a good friend. She tries to be supportive and understanding, even chastising herself, for the most part, when any of the mean thoughts slip in. The way this part of their friendship is played and tested is fantastically well done, showing the rough side of both girls while still shining on how much they care for each other. This is further compounded after Audrey is sent away for the summer and things start to spark between Finn and Jersy.

Audrey, despite her sudden intense physical attraction to Jersy and determination to be alone with him as much as she can, is a fantastic friend and a great counterpart to Finn. Even when her own plate is full, she'll do what she can to help Finn. There is a softness about this friendship that comes out in all the right moments, and both characters hold great depth and are built boldly from the start. Though some of Audrey's choices aren't the best, her reason for them is very true to her age and desires, without being stereotypical or frustrating.

Jersy is interesting for a love interest, leaning to the slacker side and classified as a stoner. Though he was childhood friends with Finn, it is clear how different the two are after years of being apart after his family moved away, only to now come back. Despite his downfalls, Jersy has an easygoing personality and a great perceptive ability, and watching things grow with Finn was one of the most notable, beautiful aspects of this book.

The pacing is handled fantastically, rushing through the school year while still giving enough events for the reader to get an idea of the entire year and also building the characters, while not lingering too long since the bulk of the story takes place in the summer. The way Martin has handled this difference in timing is remarkable, pushing things when needed without letting it detract from the story. The plot is simple in nature but played out perfectly, with some very intense, emotional scenes and holding very true to the deep roots of real friendship. While some parts are predictable, that can be expected with this type of novel and there were still plenty of unexpected things to make up for it.

Tying everything up is Martin's stunning writing, simplistic in nature while still being beautiful and smooth. She has a way of getting Finn's thoughts across in a way that really speaks of the character while still giving detailed descriptions and infusing plenty of emotion. Unafraid to show the flaws of the characters, and masterfully blending and twisting emotions, One Lonely Degree is a stunning but still smooth and easy read.

This review is part of a promotional author tour with The {Teen} Book Scene
Source: Received from author in exchange for an honest review
Reading level: Young Adult
Paperback: 272 pages
Publisher: Random House Books for Young Readers; Reprint edition (April 27, 2010)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0375851623
ISBN-13: 978-0375851629

Monday, November 29, 2010

Author Interview: April Henry

Dropping in today is April Henry, author of the recent release Girl, Stolen, about a teenage girl who's asleep in the back of her stepmom's Suburban when it's stolen. The kicker? Cheyenne is blind. Great premise, right? Thought so, and it's a great book, too. And now.... April:

How do you think you would react to find yourself in Cheyenne's situation? Anything you would have done differently?

I'm not sure I would have been as brave. I might have tried arguing more with with Roy, which probably would have ended up with me being hit or even beaten.

If Cheyenne could tell Griffin any one thing without repercussion, what would it be?

There's a question he asks her at the end of the book. I don't want this to be a spoiler, but I think she would say yes.

What was behind your decision to write Girl, Stolen in third person rather than first?

The book just came naturally for me that way, so it was more of an intuitive decision than a one where I carefully weighed the pros and cons. My next book, the Girl in the Mini Cooper, is told in three different first-person points of view.

Though the book focuses primarily on Cheyenne, the reader gets a strong sense of Griffin as well. What was the most challenging aspect of developing his character, especially considering the rough start he has?

Making him sympathetic. Showing the reader how he came to be who he is - and isn't. I've known many teens whose parents had troubled lives or made bad choices. That can't help but impact the children they are raising.

If you could pair Cheyenne and Griffin with any character from any book, who would you pick for them?

How about Buck the dog from Call of the Wild by Jack London? I think both would appreciate his intelligence and loyalty.

If you could read only one book for the rest of your life, what would it be?

Something huge and thick, maybe The Collected Works of William Shakespeare. But frankly, not having access to the wide world of books sounds like the worst kind of prison to me.

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

Dark chocolate covered cashews sprinkled with sea salt.

Thank you, April! Now I'm craving some of those cashews.... If you guys haven't checked out Girl, Stolen, or any of April's other works, make sure you do!

Friday, November 26, 2010

In My Mailbox

So... it was another week where I got books so it was another awesome week. That basically is my standard. I did get some great ones though that I'm super excited for!

For Review:
Nightspell by Leah Cypess

Like Mandarin by Kirsten Hubbard
Small Town Sinners by Kristen Walker

Amelia O'Donohue is so Not a Virgin by Helen FitzGerald
I Will Save You by Matt De La Pena
Five Flavors of Dumb by Antony John
Secret Society by Tom Dolby
The Trust by Tom Dolby
Invisible Things by Jenny Davidson

IMM is a weekly meme hosted by The Story Siren.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Another Giving Thanks Contest

So... I already made my giving thanks contest post, in which you can win a signed ARC of Angelfire... but in the spirit of Thanksgiving giveaways, head over to Ramblings of a Teenage Bookworm for a preorder contest with some great titles up for grabs! Angelfire is there... as is A Touch Mortal- which I've read already and is AMAZING. Oh, and what's that? A Need so Beautiful? Yeah. It's there too. As are some other fantastic looking books so check it out here! And make sure to put these books on your want list!

Giving Thanks... with a Giveaway (Signed Angelfire ARC contest)

Happy Thanksgiving, to all my awesome followers, and hopefully you've got big plans for the food. I mean, an entire holiday devoted to food? Awesome!

In all seriousness, there are a ton of things that I am grateful for, from my health to my job and all that usual stuff that seems taken advantage for but is so awesome to have. I'm even thankful Toby is still alive and kicking and running strong despite being twelve... even if he's getting needier and needier and making me lose sleep more and more.

But what's relevant to my blog is everything I'm thankful for with this. From all the awesome bloggers I've met and talk to (and no, I won't do shout outs because I will inevitable forget someone...), to the authors I've met, it's seriously amazing. Some I've made even made friends with, brought together because we like the same kind of books (and not just THEIR book), others that it's an author to reader but still great thing. The authors in the YA community are truly awesome and one of the best parts about blogging. Beyond that, I've been introduced to so many books I never would have known about if I didn't blog, which is just phenomenal.

And on the final note of all this, I'm seriously glad my blog has done so well, overall. It's with that in mind, I bring you lovelies a contest to say thank you. Up for grabs is a signed ARC of Angelfire by Courtney Allison Moulton. Yes. An ARC. And it's signed. I promise it's by her, and not me trying to imitate. It might even be in metallic copper. You'll have to wait and see.

To enter, fill out THIS FORM and tell me your favorite Thanksgiving food. Contest is US only and ends December 9.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Waiting on Wednesday

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

This week's pick is Wildefire by Karsten Knight, set to come out July 26, 2011 from Simon & Schuster.

Summary: Ashline Wilde never received an instruction manual on how to be a 16-year-old Polynesian volcano goddess. If she had, it might have contained helpful warnings such as:

• Dreaming about your (thankfully) mortal boyfriend may cause your bed to spontaneously combust
• Oven mitts should be worn at all times during heavy make-out sessions

Instead, Ash has to learn these life lessons the hard way as her dormant powers erupt at the most awkward times. In the wake of a hometown tragedy, Ash transfers to Blackwood Academy, a boarding school nestled in California’s redwoods, where a group of fellow gods-on-earth have mysteriously convened. As if sophomore year couldn’t get any worse, her storm goddess older sister, the wild and unpredictable Eve, resurfaces to haunt Ashline. With a war between the gods looming over Blackwood, Ash must master the fire smoldering within her before she clashes with her sister one final time, which leads us to life-lesson #3:

• When warm and cold fronts collide, there’s guaranteed to be a storm.

My Thoughts: Gods-on-earth? Fire smoldering within? Yes. Please. The concept of this one is fantastic, from the Polynesian goddess to the boarding school setting to the storm that's guaranteed in even the premise. I really think this premise alone is far from basic, making me think the plot of the book will be far from simple... and most likely quite amazing. And then there's the cover, dark and mysterious, but I love the centered focus and flame, with the smoke rising. It definitely speaks for Ash, and is still eye catching.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Book Review: The Sapphire Talisman by Brenda Pandos


With the local vampire coven decimated, Julia and Nicholas try to begin a somewhat normal life together. Bound by secrecy from a shape shifter determined to see Julia’s world-saving prediction come to fruition, Julia isn’t allowed to tell Nicholas the leader survived, ransacking her happiness with guilt. When Alora returns, bent on revenge, the reunion forces Nicholas and Julia to choose what they are willing to live and die for.


The Short Version:
Intriguing and steady, The Sapphire Talisman is a well done follow up to The Emerald Talisman. The characters are more dynamic, the overall pacing and plot hold a stronger note than in the first, and there are several unexpected twists mixed in to this one. Though slow to start, once the book picks up it keeps pushing through, pulling the reader through the whirlwind with it.

The Extended Version:
Julia is very similar to the girl from the first book, hopelessly in love with Nicholas but still trying to be a good friend to those that were in her life before him. Her relationship with Nicholas grows much more in this book for reasons that are much more solid than in the first. She goes through some surprising steps of personal growth in this installment, and gains a strength not seen before, somewhat overshadowing the helpless girl she seemed to be previously. Though her relationship with him is still incredibly dependent, they do suffer some trials that test them in much needed ways.

Nicholas shows some new sides of himself as well, albeit not all good ones. More of his past and life come to light, painting a stronger picture of him overall and making a better connection from him to the reader. A large part of this plot centers around Nicholas, shifting the focus from Julia despite her narration, and this is handled smoothly. The ways Nicholas changed and the roles he played in this installment were very well done, and one of my favorite aspects of the book.

Several characters from book one return, some in surprising and unexpected ways. Though the reasons behind some of this isn’t completely clear or a little convenient, the overall impact helps the story in a great way. The majority of the characters are more fleshed out in this installment, giving insight to more than only Julia this time around. There is a strong interplay between all the characters, as well, adding a great element that lacked in the first book.

The plot is good overall, filled with several twists that help amp things up despite the slow start and some lags after it picks up. Though a few places were predictable and too convenient, the majority was well worth the read and surprising. The continued role of the talisman and it's uses are explored further, giving a good centering point for everything. While there are a few clichés and common concepts, Pandos has manipulated them to form her own story and put them to uses all her own. The time and thought put in to this installment is clear, with most things well explained and maintained. The writing has improved from the first book and though I did feel it was trying too hard in some places, it lent itself to some beautiful and vivid descriptions.

With a better grasp of the characters which are more dynamic overall, a mostly original plot, and a stronger note in the writing, The Sapphire Talisman has followed up The Emerald Talisman in a great way. Given the improvement in the writing and story elements of this book from the first, there is huge promise for a stunning third installment. Considering how things left off with this one, things are set perfectly to launch in to book three and keep things moving, bringing everything full circle.

Source: ARC received for review from author in conjunction with promotional tour hosted by The {Teen} Book Scene
Reading Level: Young Adult
Paperback: 320 pages
Publisher: Obsidian Mountain Publishing (December 15, 2010)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0982903324
ISBN-13: 978-0982903322

Monday, November 22, 2010

Guest Post: Sneak Peek into Keary Taylor's Forsaken

Here today is Keary Taylor, author of Branded, with a sneak peak in to the second book in this series, Forsaken. This one is coming out January 11, 2011, so make sure you watch out for it!

I found Sal in her office, sitting at the huge desk, gluing something in a book. I realized it was a scrapbook and she was adhering a picture of Alex and I into it. There were stacks of pictures Alex had taken and printed out for her spread out on the desk.

I didn’t say anything as I sat down and watched Sal get the photo positioned just right. Sal seemed better lately, since Cole had left and she had been discharged from the institution. She had more lucid times and a lot of the time she seemed nearly normal. But when she had her bad moments, they were usually much worse.

“What is wrong, Jessica?” I hadn’t even realized Sal had finished and was looking into my face with a concerned expression.

I wanted to reassure her that nothing was wrong but I couldn’t. I didn’t have the strength and I didn’t have the willpower to try and deny the feelings that were raging and storming within me.

“I yelled at Alex,” I said honestly.

“Alex is a nice man,” Sal said, a slightly sharp tone to her voice. “You shouldn’t yell at him.”

“I know,” I said softly, my voice sounding hoarse. “I didn’t want to and I’m sorry I did but I was mad at him.”

“Why?” she asked, absolute interest in her face.

“Because he won’t do something I want him to,” I answered. As I said the words I realized how childish and selfish I sounded and was being.

“There must be a reason,” Sal said as she looked at the pile of pictures, picking one out. “Alex would do anything for you. He loves you. I wish Roger had loved me like Alex loves you.” The fact that Sal had said her ex-husbands name surprised me. I couldn’t recall her ever saying
it out loud before, other than when she screamed it out in her sleep.

“I know,” I said with a sigh.

“Maybe he knows something you don’t. Maybe that’s part of the reason,” she said as she cut off a portion of the picture and then glued it to a page. It was a picture of me and my father, from my birthday party.

I made an agreeing noise, not thinking too much about what she said. I could sense one of Sal’s more out of it moments coming on. “Do you need anything?” I asked as I stood up.

“More glue,” she said without looking up at me. “And four mangos. Oh, and a jar of peanut butter.”

I chuckled internally at her request. Sal was severely allergic to peanuts. She had probably forgotten. I would keep the peanut butter off my shopping list. “All right, I’ll get them next time I go to the store.”

Sal reached into her pocket, drew out a wad of money and threw it in my direction. It was more than fifty dollars but I knew better than to try and give some back to her. She would be offended.

“I will see you later,” I called as I walked out the door and up the stairs.

I was feeling slightly better as I started the short walk back home but as I thought back over Sal and I’s conversation something she said struck me.

Maybe he knows something you don’t. Maybe that’s part of the reason.

Even though I kept walking I felt my body freeze up. What did Alex know that he wasn’t telling me?

My every nerve seemed about to shatter as I got to the front door and opened it. This new thought terrified me and made me feel immature and stupid for behaving the way I had been lately. This was Alex. What Sal said about Alex doing anything for me was true. He’d already proven that. If he wouldn’t do what I had begged for when I had told him I didn’t care what happened afterward, he must have had a pretty powerful reason why.

Thank you, Keary, for that sneak peek! For more of Keary online, check out her website and her blog.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Guest Post + Contest: Brenna Yovanoff

Here today to finish up her blog tour is Brenna Yovanoff, author of The Replacement. You know- the one with the awesomely creepy cover? Yes. Her. And to end things with a bang, Brenna has a deleted scene to share, and who doesn't like the chance for a little more from an author's world? And as if that wasn't enough, after the scene, there's even a chance to win a signed copy of the book!

Brenna's note: This is an earlier version of a scene that exists in the final book where Mackie tries to go somewhere with Tate in her Buick, which is solid steel, and has to ask her to pull over because he can't breathe. It's very different from the final version and happens at a completely different place in the story. The biggest changes were to the dialogue and the urgency and the . . . everything. Also, Tate mentions a character who doesn't exist anymore.

She sat next to me on the bank and didn't say anything else. After a little, she reached for my hand and I let her hold it. Her fingers slid over my knuckles, my palm. She was kind of massaging the inside of my wrist with her thumb and it felt good.

“Your hands are cold,” she said.

I nodded, keeping my eyes closed.

“Are you actually okay?”

“Yeah, I'm really sorry. Give me another minute, I'll be good.”

“Jesus, don't apologize. I thought you were going to pass out.”

“I'm sorry. I just—I don't usually do that.”

When I finally opened my eyes, the light had changed a little. The sky was getting paler as the sun went down. Tate brushed her hair away from her forehead and let go of my hand. I kind of wanted to reach for her, hold her hand for real instead of in a cheap, embarrassing way where she was sorry for me and I was a huge loser.

She looked down at me, hugging her knees. “Are you sure you still want to play poker? I'll take you home, if you want.”

“It's fine. Don't worry about it.”

We stayed on the bank, the ground solid at my back. She didn't touch me again.

She was looking off over the dead sunflower fields and the road. “You miss a lot of school,” she said suddenly.

“Some. Not that much, though—not a lot.”

“More than average. Look, I don't want to be obnoxious or anything, but is there something wrong with you?”

I didn't answer right away. I had a feeling that even if I managed to answer without using specifics, she'd just rephrase the question and ask me again, so I skipped to the most basic part of it. “Has there ever been something about yourself—or about your life—that you just really hate?”

She laughed, a sharp little bark of a laugh. “God, where do I start? So, uh, have you talked to Nick at all—ever?”

“He said something the other night.”

She nodded, but she was already looking someplace else.

I reached up and touched her arm. “Nick Sheffler is a total [jerk].”

The look she gave me was cataclysmic and I took my hand away fast.

“You think I don't know that? You think he hasn't made that abundantly clear by now? Look, if any guy at school is interested in going anywhere with me, it's because Nick said that I'm guaranteed to pay out.” She said it perfectly clear, perfectly calm.

“That must suck, having other people just decide how you are.”

“There are worse things.” She leaned back on her hands, elbows locked behind her. She was still looking at me, sort of smiling and then her face changed.


“Nothing. Just, your eyes are really dark.” She took a deep breath and said the next part fast. “Like, scary-dark.”

I nodded. Her expression was thoughtful, and a little worried, like she wasn't condemning or judging me, just looking.

Thank you, Brenna, for sharing that!

Now for your chance to win a signed copy of The Replacement, Fill out THIS FORM. US only. Contest ends December 5.

2011 Debut Author Challenge

I did it for 2010, and I'm doing it for 2011. Yep, the debut author challenge, spotlighting all the great debut books coming out. It's hosted by The Story Siren, with a prize pack each month up for grabs. For full details, check it out here, and make sure to join!

I challenged myself to 30 for 2010, and hit that pretty early on so why not go for a nice minimum of 75 for 2011? Yes, the logic of that eludes me too... Though, I am going for just 75 debuts, including the ones I've read in 2011 because frankly, a 2011 debut is still a 2011 debut, in my opinion, regardless of whether it's read in ARC form in 2010.

So without further ado.... here is at the least the start of my working list (these are basically in order of release month):

  1. Angelfire by Courtney Allison Moulton (Read in 2010)
  2. A Touch Mortal by Leah Clifford (Read in 2010)
  3. Through Her Eyes by Jennifer Archer (Read in 2010)
  4. Divergent by Veronica Roth (Read in 2010)
  5. Like Mandarin by Kirsten Hubbard (Read in 2010)
  6. Vesper: Jeff Sampsen
  7. Warped: Maurissa Guibord
  8. Unearthly: Cynthia Hand
  9. Head Games: Keri Mikulski
  10. XVI: Julia Karr
  11. Across the Universe: Beth Revis
  12. The Water Wars: Cameron Stracher
  13. Choker: Elizabeth Woods
  14. Rival: Sara Bennet-Wealer
  15. Leverage: Joshua C. Cohen
  16. Haven: Kristi Cook
  17. Here Lies Bridget: Paige Harbison
  18. Where I Belong: Gwendolyn Heasley
  19. Darkness Becomes Her: Kelly Keaton
  20. The Iron Witch: Karen Mahoney
  21. Exposed: Kimberly Marcus
  22. The Demon Trapper's Daughter: Jana Oliver
  23. So Shelly: Ty Roth
  24. The Fourth Stall: Chris Rylander
  25. I Am J: Cris Beam
  26. Wake Unto Me: Lisa Cach
  27. Wither: Lauren Destefano
  28. Popular: Alissa Grosso
  29. Clarity: Kim Harrington
  30. Falling Under: Gwen Hayes
  31. What Can't Wait: Ashley Hope Perez
  32. Those That Wake: Jesse Karp
  33. Ten Miles Past Normal: Frances O'Roark
  34. Illegal: Bettina Restrepo
  35. Liar Society: Lisa and Laura Roecker
  36. Between Shades of Grey: Ruta Sepetys
  37. Unlocked: Ryan G. Van Cleave
  38. End of the Line: Angela Cerrito
  39. The Year We Were Famous: Carole Estby Dagg
  40. Blood Magic: Tessa Gratton
  41. The Lipstick Laws: Amy Holder
  42. Future Imperfect: K Ryer Breese
  43. Momento Nora: Angie Smibert
  44. How I Stole Johnny Depp's Alien Girlfriend: Gary Ghislain
  45. I'll Be There: Holly Goldberg Sloan
  46. Saving June: Hannah Harrington
  47. Awaken: Katie Kacvinsky
  48. The Sweetest Thing: Christina Mandelski
  49. Hourglass: Myra McEntire
  50. Die For Me: Amy Plum
  51. The Pull of Gravity: Gae Polisner
  52. Vicious Little Darlings: Katherine Easer
  53. Stupid Fast: Geoff Herbach
  54. Paper Covers Rock: Jenny Hubbard
  55. Hereafter: Tara Hudson
  56. Possession: Elana Johnson
  57. Luminous: Dawn Metcalf
  58. Forgotten: Cat Patrick
  59. Ashes, Ashes: Jo Treggiari
  60. Bad Taste in Boys: Carrie Harris
  61. Wildefire: Karsten Knight
  62. The Book of the Concealed: Sang Kromah
  63. Lost Voices: Sarah Porter
  64. Vanished: Sheela Chari
  65. Dark Parties: Sara Grant
  66. The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer: Michelle Hodkin
  67. Witch Eyes: Witch Eyes
  68. Never Eighteen: Megan Bostic
  69. Virtuosity: Jessica Martinez
  70. Dearly, Departed: Lia Habel
  71. A Beautiful Dark: Jocelyn Davies
  72. Flawless: Lara Chapman
  73. Human.4: Mike Lancaster
  74. Banish: Gretchen McNeil
  75. Dead Rules: Randy Russell
  76. Frost House: Marianna Baer
  77. Girl Wonder: Alexa Martin

Saturday, November 20, 2010

In My Mailbox

First off... I just want to say... that while I have hit 75K on my NaNo book this week, I'm still not done. My first drafts are always long, though, and this seems to be no exception though I am in the final stretch. I am seriously loving this one!

Apart from that, I had an unexpectedly good week in books! Good for me, annoying for the dog.

For Review:

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

The Sapphire Talisman: Delete Scene (Blog Tour)

For today's stop on Brenda Pandos' The Sapphire Talisman blog tour, Brenda is sharing a fun deleted scene. In her own words: "I was toying with how to show how humans are deceived by the talisman and originally wanted to have Aden try to take the necklace from Julia but it didn't fit in right." I have to agree with Brenda, it makes things fun! Enjoy!!

“Please, retrieve that necklace,” Alora told Aden with a point in my direction.

“What? It’s mine,” I said with a scowl and brought my hands up to my neckline.

I knew she couldn’t remove it personally, but I wasn’t certain if a human was bound by the same laws. I moved backwards away from Aden, only to trip over a sandbag and fall on my butt with a thud. Aden laughed and kept advancing.

“Leave me alone,” I cried and kicked him with my feet. Aden grabbed my ankles and studied my neck with a furrowed brow.

“I don’t see anything, my Queen,” he said slowly.

Alora moved in a flash and grabbed my arms to stop me from trying to hide it from his penetrating gaze. “Right there, Aden.” She pointed at the chain. “See?”

Aden’s eyes darted back and forth. He exuded fearful confusion. “There’s no necklace here.”

For a moment, I hoped somehow the necklace cloaked itself and Aden truly couldn’t see is. Alora huffed and pulled away the corner to my shirt and pointed just above the talisman. Recognition finally flashed in his eyes. He saw the necklace now.

“Stop screwing around and take it off.”

His meat-hook hands pawed at the clasp while I grunted and tried to escape her grasp. Alora firmly kept me in place.

“It’s too small, my Queen.”

“Then break the chain.”

Aden questioned Alora with his glance at first, and then shrugged. Filled with glee, he yanked the delicate chain between his fingertips. I expected the metal to snap instantly but the chain held strong. He tried again with more finesse and a bead sweat formed on his brow as he continually yanked without success.

“My queen...” he whimpered.

I smiled watching Alora’s composure fail, wishing for her to try to hurt me in anger.

“Never mind, Aden.”

She let go of me and paced for a minute. Aden watched her in terror, shifting his body weight from side to side, his gaze on the ground.

“Give me the necklace, Julia,” she said sweetly with her hand outward. “… and I’ll find a place for you to serve me.”

“As if,” I said to taunt her.

Just wait till Nicholas finds me.

Shadow Hills Paperback Puzzle Piece!

I'm sure you all remember that really great book by that awesome author with the bright red hair, Shadow Hills? Anastasia Hopcus? You do? Good. You should, because if you remember, I reviewed this book and seriously loved it.

The hardback has a great cover- but the paperback has a NEW cover! And instead of doing the usual cover reveal, different bloggers are posting puzzle pieces that fit together to make up the entire cover, which will then be pieced together and revealed on Anastasia's blog on November 20.

But oh yes, there is more, because this isn't just collect the pieces. Nope. There are trivia questions at each blog, the answers to which Anastasia will give with the cover on the 20th.

Now, what do you have to do? Stop by the blogs (two per day) and collect the pieces and answer each trivia question, which enters you for a chance to win 1 of 24 Shadow Hills posters (which are AWESOME and look similar to the hardcover copy). The more trivia questions you answer right, the greater your chances of winning.

And now for the awesome puzzle piece!

So what's your trivia question for here? Easy, for anyone who's read the book. What is Phe's aunt's name? Once you know the answer, Fill out THIS FORM and you're entered! Random.org will be used to be pick the winner from the people who answer correctly. The actual contest is US only, and will end on November 20 when the answers are revealed.

Now, wasn't that awesome and easy? I thought so. But be sure to head over to I Heart Monster for the other stop for today. And want even more chances to enter? Check out yesterday's posts at Confessions of a Bookaholic and A Life Bound by Books, and be sure to stop by tomorrow at DJ's Life in Fiction and Book Nerds.

If you can't wait to get your hands on this book, then you can buy the still awesome hardback now from a number of sites: Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Book Depository, and IndieBound. And if you're looking to find Anastasia on the web, check out her website, blog, Facebook and Twitter.

Waiting on Wednesday

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

This week's pick is All You Get is Me by Yvonne Prinz, coming December 21 from HarperTeen.

Summary: What happens when a city girl is transplanted onto a ramshackle organic farm in the middle of nowhere? Everything.

Sixteen-year-old Roar has been yanked from her city life and suddenly she’s a farm girl, albeit a reluctant one, selling figs at the farmers' market and developing her photographs in a rickety shed. And then she witnesses a crime that will throw the whole community into an uproar. Caught among the lure of a troublemaking friend, her love for a brooding boy, and her complicated feelings about her father’s human rights crusade, Roar is going to have to tackle it all. And with a camera around her neck, she’s capturing it all, too.

Yvonne Prinz and her novel The Vinyl Princess have ignited the teen blogosphere and entertainment media. Once again, she’s taken the pulse of culture and emerged with a book that is timely, quirky, and unforgettable.

My Thoughts: I love the small town setting, especially for how Roar (who's name I love) will have to adjust to it. Add in the crime angle, which will throw any small town into a huge to do, and that alone seems to have plenty of basis for a strong plot. Add in the troublemaking friend and brooding boy... oh yes. Recipe for awesome, I think. Though some might say photography in YA is getting cliche, I think it really can add a lot and I'm definitely interested to see how Prinz uses it here. This is also a cover that grabs my eye, particularly with the girl taking our picture.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Crash Into Me: Book Excerpt + Contest (Blog Tour Stop)

Continuing the blog tour for Albert Borris' Crash Into Me, I've got an excerpt from the book to share here today, along with a chance for one reader to win a paperback copy. Throughout the book, Top Ten kind of lists are mixed in and scattered around, and it's one of those I am using now.

Top Ten Biggest Not-Suicide Deaths We Can Think Of:
10. Challenger disaster
9. Hindenburg explosion
8. Wreck of the Titanic
7. Great fire of Chicago
6. San Francisco earthquake
5. Katrina floods in New Orleans
4. Tsunami in Asia
3. Hiroshima/Nagasaki atomic bombs
2. Holocaust
1. Meteor that killed the dinosaurs

*Copyrighted by Albert Borris

That's just one of several both interesting and insightful lists throughout the book, which also really speak a lot towards Owen's character, along with the others.

For your chance to win a paperback copy of Crash Into Me, fill out THIS FORM. Contest is US only, and will end Sunday, November 28.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Author Interview: Han Nolan

Here today is Han Nolan, author of the recent release Crazy, along with the author of past titles Born Blue, If I Should Die Before I Wake, and Dancing on the Edge, among others. Crazy is the story of a teenage boy in a very desolate situation, struggling to care for his mentally ill father after the death of his mother. It's gripping, but a true story of hope and definitely recommended, and Han has been kind of enough to answer a few questions.

If you were growing up in Jason's situation, how do you think you would have handled it? Anything you would have done differently?

I don't think I would have been so creative with the voices the way Jason was. I think I would have done a better job of hiding the fact that my father wasn't well by keeping quiet in class and not stirring things up, but eventually something would have had to give. I probably would have looked for some adult I could trust to try to help me.

At the start of the book, Jason's primary source of "company" comes from the characters that exist only in his head. Did you find it challenging to add in this angle, in addition to real life characters he interacted with? No. I just worried that it might be more challenging for the reader to read the story in a sort of play format but from what I can tell the young adult readers don't really have any trouble with it, just an occasional adult does.

This book covers a range of emotions, from desperation to fear to light hearted friendship. Did you find any one more appealing or more difficult than the others?

Well, I always enjoyed it when I could add a bit of humor to a situation. Jason's fears and writing about mental illness were a challenge because I had to really dig deep inside myself and put myself in Jason's shoes and really feel what he had to have felt.

If you could pair Jason with any character from any book, who would it be?

Huck Finn. The two of them could get into all kinds of trouble, but eventually I think Jason could benefit from a trip down the river on a raft.

If you were to give Jason one book to read, what would it be?

A book about photography. He loved taking pictures and maybe it would take his mind off his troubles for a while.

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

I'm not.

What kind of cookie would you describe yourself as?

I LOVE cookies but I can't eat sugar and I can't have flour so I miss them. If I were a cookie I'd be a Pepridge Farm Bordeaux Cookie--sweet, buttery, thin, a little different, and not too many of them around.

Thank you, Han, for answering those great questions! Now make sure you guys check out Crazy, and Han's other titles!

Saturday, November 13, 2010

In My Mailbox (And a Rocking Contest Link)

So... I had a pretty good week in books... because, well, I got books which kind of makes it a winner. Plus, there's a pretty awesome contest going on right now, details of which are below. Also, as of Tuesday, NaNo is officially, technically done for me. Hit the sexy 50K Tuesday afternoon. Now I'm at about 59K, and hope to be done with the entire book by next weekend. It's a good feeling, and I hope the rest of you NaNo-ers are kicking butt too.

For Review:
Sean Griswold's Head by Lindsay Levitt
Playing Hurt by Holly Schindler
Crescendo by Becca Fitzpatrick

Father of Lies by Ann Turner
Leverage by Joshua Cohen
Let's Get Lost by Sarra Manning
Guitar Girl by Sarra Manning

IMM is a weekly meme hosted by The Story Siren.

And that's what I got this week book wise... but before you run off, you should totally check out Leah Clifford's latest YA Rebels vlog. See, she has this basically amazing contest going on with it where you can not only get a signed ARC of her upcoming (effin awesome) book A Touch Mortal, but you can also pick the name for a character in book 2... AND. Yes, another and. You ALSO will be in the acknowledgments of book 2 to get all the glory for the name.

So how do you enter this amazing contest? Go check out her vlog HERE (which is, in and of itself, hilarious), and it has all the details for you. Basically, though, you spread the word and let Leah know in the comments, and give her the name you suggest. But be sure to check for names already suggested so you don't double up!

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Book Review: Anna and the French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins


Anna is looking forward to her senior year in Atlanta, where she has a great job, a loyal best friend, and a crush on the verge of becoming more. Which is why she is less than thrilled about being shipped off to boarding school in Paris, until she meets Etienne St. Claire: perfect, Parisian (and English and American, which makes for a swoon-worthy accent), and utterly irresistible. The only problem is that he's taken, and Anna might be, too, if anything comes of her almost-relationship back home.

As winter melts into spring, will a year of romantic near-misses end with the French kiss Annam and readers, have long awaited?


The Short Version:
A romantic, humorous and emotional ride filled with plenty of misunderstandings and miscommunications, Anna and the French Kiss is an overall well down romance. Though there are subplots and side stories, the focus is the romance in this one. The chemistry between Anna and St. Clair is there from the start, and their interactions took on a range of settings and manners. Though I thought the beginning of the book dragged and took too long to get to the actual dynamic of why they wanted each other and weren’t going for it, overall, this was well played out and taking in everything that comes with teenage awkwardness, crushes, confusion and obligations.

The Extended Version:
Anna was a hard character for me to really get into, primarily because there always seemed to be a wall around her even with the reader. Dropped in Paris mostly against her will, and frustrated with her parents for it, she struggles with being unsure in a foreign city, unable to speak the language, and of course there’s her almost immediate crush on St. Clair. Once those walls go down a little, however, Anna is sweet and introspective, able to see many things in a new light despite missing plenty of other obvious things. She is emotional and intense at times, but fun loving and a great friend overall. She has her flaws, but she also acknowledges them when the time is right and it is this fact, and how well she learns from her mistakes, that really sets this one apart from many other books.

St. Clair is seemingly perfect at the start, though he handles a few rough situations less than fluidly. This was both good and bad, as it did make for a slightly stereotypical romantic lead, but the reasons for why he was so kind, so caring, and so devoted came out throughout the story. The British side of him shined through often, adding its own bit of humor through Anna’s American eyes. St. Clair most certainly did make some mistakes, and a few of those provided a strong driving force for the plot, and were possibly even blown out of proportion in severity through Anna’s eyes, which also added a very realistic angle.

The rest of the cast is overall small, centering around St. Clair’s three friends that were there from the start, along with a few other students at the school. There is the stereotypical mean, pretty girl and the jerky guy who just wants to get laid, but within St. Clair and now Anna’s group, they are just normal, friendly kids that are easy to identify with.

The beginning of this book was very slow for me. I felt it was a repetitive cycle of Anna’s self pity, her feelings for St. Clair she was denying despite the truth of them, and getting hints of reciprocation from St. Clair but overall, it was the same few things. After a certain point, however, things finally started picking up and the real drama between St. Clair and Anna having feelings for each other begins. Compounded by a seemingly endless string of things, they have several perfect days together, only to turn around and have even worse distancing. The give and take, elastic nature of their relationship was so painfully realistic, eliciting striking emotions from both. There are a few very strong, very emotional and very poignant scenes involving these two, showing them at their worst and rawest, and Perkins navigates these gracefully.

Perkins’ writing is fantastic, giving a voice to Anna while tying in not only St. Clair’s British accent but his fluidity in French and the Parisian setting. The setting is brought to life in beautiful, fantastic ways, never letting the reader forget this isn’t a boarding school in the States. The cultural differences were included without being cliché or stereotypical, and the way Anna chose to spend her free time still kept ties to her natural personality and her as an American.

Overall, Anna and the French Kiss is great for any romantic. With a very give and take, back and forth nature, frustrating at just wanting the two to get together, and plenty of unforeseeable snags, twists and turns, this book is handled well for being mostly a focused romance. Despite the slow start, there is a connection with Anna and even St. Clair by the end, and events really pick up and happen in some surprising ways.

Source: Borrowed ARC from a friend
Reading level: Young Adult
Hardcover: 384 pages
Publisher: Dutton Juvenile (December 2, 2010)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0525423273
ISBN-13: 978-0525423270

Waiting on Wednesday

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

This week's pick is Chasing Alliecat by Rebecca Fjelland Davis, coming February 8, 2011 from Flux.

Summary: Sadie Lester has been dumped with relatives for the summer. Boredom seems inevitable in her small Minnesota town until she meets Allie—a spiky-haired off-road biker with incredible grace and speed. Training for the upcoming bike race, Allie leads Sadie and cute fellow cyclist Joe up and down Mount Kato—an exhilarating rush that pushes their limits. The fun ends abruptly when they stray off the trail and find a priest, badly beaten and near death. After calling for help, Allie mysteriously disappears from their lives.

Just like the trash littering the beautiful river bluffs, there's something foul afoot. Creepy rednecks are prowling the woods, the same ones who ran Sadie and Allie off the road one night. It's not until the day of the big race that Sadie finally learns the startling truth about Allie, her connection to the priest, and what drove her into hiding.

My Thoughts: I love the biking aspect of this one- it isn't a very used activity in YA so far but it definitely can make for some interesting scenes and points. The priest angle adds an interesting twist with so many unpredictable possibilities, and this premise alone gives plenty of mystery and I'm completely intrigued. The cover is eye catching, sticking with the biking thing but still looks dangerous. This is one I definitely will be picking up come release day!

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Book Review: Afterlife by Claudia Gray


The fourth book in this electrifying vampire series has all the romance, suspense, and page-turning drama that have made Claudia Gray’s Evernight books runaway successes.

Having become what they feared most, Bianca and Lucas face a terrifying new reality. They must return to Evernight Academy, Lucas as a vampire and Bianca as a wraith. But Lucas is haunted by demons, both personal and supernatural. Bianca must help him fight the evil inside him, combat the forces determined to drive them apart—and find the power to claim her destiny at last.

Readers have fallen in love with Bianca and Lucas, and they will be thrilled to read this exciting conclusion to their romantic adventure.


Note: Review is spoiler free for the *series*

The Short Version:
Picking up right where Hourglass left off, Afterlife sticks with the series trend of overall being a great story, holding several twists, and a mostly steady pace. Bianca and Lucas have undergone some big changes, and the way they handle it isn't always perfect which adds a very realistic and amenable aspect to the book. Everything is pretty much tied up by the end of this book, closing out the series on a bittersweet note, but it is an ending I love and completely understand the purpose of.

The Extended Version:
Bianca is struggling to deal with the aftermath of Hourglass, learning her new boundaries and confines while still trying to hold on to Lucas, who is struggling even more than she is. The push and pull of their natures and relationship is truly tested in this installment, holding a very realistic, endearing and beautiful note not only towards the romance but the story in general. Both characters show the same level of intense commitment to each other and unadulterated emotion that was seen in Hourglass, and it is, to me, one of the most notable features of the series.

The plot has the same pacing as the previous books, with plenty of world and story building that comes in somewhat lengthy breaks in the action. If the pacing bugged you before, it will probably still bother you, but if you enjoy getting more of the characters just being characters and seeing the world created in action, it's enjoyable. Humor is mixed in, sometimes at just the right moment to break the tension, and there isn't quite the same overall air of painful emotion that captivate Hourglass.

Gray's writing as definitely grown as the series progressed, giving some very beautiful descriptions and having an easy flow that will appeal to many readers. Some things from earlier books that has maybe been overlooked or forgotten by readers comes back up in Afterlife, and there really are no loose ends or blatant questions left unanswered. The climax of the book is as explosive and action filled as seen in the previous books, and new and shocking reveals come flying out of nowhere at a few key places. Overall, this is a bittersweet but well done closing to an enjoyable series with some strong characters.

Source: Netgalley
Reading level: Young Adult
Hardcover: 368 pages
Publisher: HarperTeen (March 8, 2011)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0061284424
ISBN-13: 978-0061284427

Monday, November 8, 2010

Book Review: You by Charles Benoit


This wasn't the way it was supposed to go.

You're just a typical fifteen-year-old sophomore, an average guy named Kyle Chase. This can't be happening to you. But then, how do you explain all the blood? How do you explain how you got here in the first place?

There had to have been signs, had to have been some clues it was coming. Did you miss them, or ignore them?

Maybe if you can figure out where it all went wrong, you can still make it right. Or is it already too late?

Think fast, Kyle. Time's running out. How did this happen?

In his stunning young-adult debut, Charles Benoit mixes riveting tension with an insightful—and unsettling—portrait of an ordinary teen in a tale that is taut, powerful, and shattering.


The Short Version:
Entrancing and guttingly real, You combines a unique writing style, a relatable mess of a main character, and a shocking string of events for one powerful punch. Written as if both speaking to the reader and writing as if the reader were actually Kyle, the title denotes the narrative while the book still centers around Kyle. With a steady building of events and a jaw dropping conclusion, You will leave the reader reeling and dumbfounded in all the best ways.

The Extended Version:
Kyle is a slacker, a failure, and a mess. He looks at where he’s at in his life, and tries to figure out how he got there. He’s the kid you brush off and ignore, but he’s also kind and a good friend when given the chance. He’s quiet and lost in himself, but he has many redeeming and endearing qualities about him. He is absolutely real, raw in so many unflinching ways, with everything laid out about him, both the good and bad. He has a temper and a penchant for violence, but nothing too major or necessarily concerning. Kyle straddles the line between dangerous and teenage, still learning to control his temper and actions.

Zack is the new kid at school and a large force in the plot. He is charming in all the worst ways, and thrives on his interactions—however messed up—with others. His own personality and psychology are intriguing, and he would certainly make a strong character for his own book, but cast in the light of Kyle, he leaves a lingering bad feeling throughout. His actions are reprehensible at times, and gutting at others despite the humor and charisma he brings with him.

The second person narrative is interesting, creating an interesting mix of informal, personal narrative and pulling the reader in as though they are the ones walking in Kyle’s shoes. Adding to this is the lack of chapter designations, with only line breaks to indicate a new section. This gives a different feel for the life-like progression of time and flows smoothly. Insight is still strongly given to Kyle’s mind, showing his crushes, his wants, and his feelings. The shift and mix of this is fantastically well handled, and though it could be something that turns people off from the book, Benoit has skillfully handled the technique. A strong impact of the book, in the end, comes from this narrative and the genius behind it is very clear.

The underlying messages of this book are potent and striking. Benoit has weaved a series of seemingly unrelated events together to lead to a fantastic, jaw dropping ending. With a sense of urgency and dread steadily building, and an innate fear of the worst, the reader is pulled in to Kyle’s thoughts and actions even without the direct narrative. With some brilliant flashes of insight and connection, Benoit drives some strong points home before his explosive and gaping ending. Kyle's crush on a girl named Ashley, his borderline temper, and a long string of choices are what drive the book to the conclusion, truly making the reader step back with questions about their own life and choices.

You holds many of the fantastic elements that make up strong contemporary fiction. Mixing humor throughout an otherwise gripping story, and throwing in some surprising events and twists, You has many stunning scenes and a strong overall arc. With a gutting nature, a gritty, raw and real main character, and a steady stream of events, You will hit with a range of audiences.
Source: ARC gifted from a friend
Reading level: Young Adult
Hardcover: 240 pages
Publisher: HarperTeen; 1 edition (August 24, 2010)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0061947040
ISBN-13: 978-0061947049