Monday, January 31, 2011

Book Review: Fallen Angel by Heather Terrell



Ellie was never particularly good at talking to boys—or anyone other than her best friend and fellow outcast, Ruth. Then she met Michael.

Michael is handsome, charming, sweet. And totally into Ellie. It’s no wonder she is instantly drawn to him. But Michael has a secret. And he knows Ellie is hiding something, too. They’ve both discovered they have powers beyond their imagining. Powers that are otherworldly.

Ellie and Michael are determined to uncover what they are, and how they got this way . . . together. But the truth has repercussions neither could have imagined. Soon they find themselves center stage in an ancient conflict that threatens to destroy everything they love. And it is no longer clear whether Ellie and Michael will choose the same side.

In this electrifying novel, Heather Terrell spins a gripping supernatural tale about true love, destiny, and the battle of good versus evil.


The Short Version:
Blending a few paranormal elements, Fallen Angel uses an interesting mythology to put a twist on the angel lore. Though slow to start, and admittedly trite in a few plot points, the strong writing and second half pull together to make this worth the read. With a mix of the fantasy angle and the high school setting, a likable protagonist, and plenty of mystery, Terrell puts in enough questions to keep the pages turning.

The Extended Version:
Ellie is, overall, a likable and relatable character. She isn't that popular at school, though mostly okay with having really only one friend, and is intelligent and has an open mind to a lot of things that makes her sympathetic. She doesn't see herself clearly, somewhat beaten down by the daily pace of things, but she also doesn't give in easily too the usual high school drama and cliques not because she's trying to prove something, but because that's simply how she is and how she was raised. She has a great relationship with her parents, which adds a nice element to the story, and most notable about her is the fact that despite his looks and appeal, at the start, Michael scares her. She doesn't just ignore the fear, she listens to it, and resists, which was refreshing to read.

Michael is an interesting character, and though a stereotypical love interest in some ways, his intelligent and knowledge are endearing. But what sets it apart more is the fact that he has theories, and they are just that. Theories. He isn't actually all knowing, just waiting for Ellie to clue in, and together they have to figure things out. The reasons behind his presence and why he seems to remember and know more than her is well played, revealed at steady intervals while still keeping an overall mystery till the right moments.

Though the first third to half of this book was admittedly slow, it certainly has its moments of engaging the reader. There is a strong high school element to this one, and though it does seem to detract in some places given the overall concept and nature of the book, it also helps blend Ellie's attempts to keep her abilities a secret and maintain a 'normal' life. With a budding romance mixed in, and an interesting mythology that is, overall, well thought out, the second portion of this book kicks things up and drives to a good climax.

While Ellie's character is well done, some of the others did seem to fall flat, being convenient more than anything, though they did serve their purpose to drive both Ellie and the plot. There were some trite story elements, but Terrell also mixed in plenty of her own things or put a nice twist on others to give it enough refreshing elements to certainly be worth the read. The explanations on several of the mysteries and subplots are well thought out and the worldbuilding is easy to follow.

Terrell's writing gives note to Ellie's intelligence, and though it doesn't have quite the right note of voice for my personal taste, it is still enjoyable to read and not on an elementary level. There is a steady stream of descriptions that paint everything from physical feelings to the settings, giving a strong sensory component. Add in the overall plot and a bold protagonist, and Fallen Angel is a good start to what could turn out to be a great trilogy.

Source: ARC received from publisher in exchange for an honest review
Reading level: Young Adult
Paperback: 336 pages
Publisher: HarperTeen
Publication Date: December 28, 2010

Book Review: Rival by Sara Bennett-Wealer


What if your worst enemy turned out to be the best friend you ever had?

Meet Brooke: Popular, powerful and hating every minute of it, she’s the “It” girl at Douglas High in Lake Champion, Minnesota. Her real ambition? Using her operatic mezzo as a ticket back to NYC, where her family lived before her dad ran off with an up and coming male movie star.

Now meet Kathryn: An overachieving soprano with an underachieving savings account, she’s been a leper ever since Brooke punched her at a party junior year. For Kath, music is the key to a much-needed college scholarship.

The stage is set for a high-stakes duet between the two seniors as they prepare for the prestigious Blackmore competition. Brooke and Kathryn work toward the Blackmore with eyes not just on first prize but on one another, each still stinging from a past that started with friendship and ended in betrayal. With competition day nearing, Brooke dreams of escaping the in-crowd for life as a professional singer, but her scheming BFF Chloe has other plans. And when Kathryn gets an unlikely invitation to Homecoming, she suspects Brooke of trying to sabotage her with one last public humiliation.

As pressures mount, Brooke starts to sense that the person she hates most might just be the best friend she ever had. But Kathryn has a decision to make. Can she forgive? Or are some rivalries for life?


The Short Version:

Both emotional and light, Rival does a fantastic job blending two sides of the same story in a way that makes each character sympathetic and relatable. The rivalary between Brooke and Kathryn is perfectly handled and manipulated, showing both the good and nasty sides of the girls. Mixing both the full realities of competition singing and the work that goes into it with normal high school life, and giving insight into both the current senior year and past junior year, there are several subplots that also add to the overall, rivalry-centric plot.

The Extended Version:
Kathryn is quiet and unsure, bullied and beat down by former friend Brooke and her popular posse. Though this is a "cliche" kind of situation, Bennett-Wealer spins it into something her own, going through the entire gauntlet of building Kathryn's background, motivations, and development. Whether or not she'll end up finding her feet and growing a spine is central to her side of the story, and beautifully handled. Her best friend, Matt, is a phenomenal character, the kind of kid who is also a loner but more by choice, and because he simply is content being close to just Kathryn. He is charming and adorable, loyal and always there for her, and though a side character, he's as memorable as Kathryn and Brooke.

Brooke comes off as nasty, at least through Kathryn's eyes, but the alternating POV chapters completely blow that out of the water. She's popular, but not necessarily happy with it. Perhaps she's ungrateful, but Bennett-Wealer twists her character into something more understanding and sympathetic. She wants bigger things in life than her town can offer, and though it's clear she lovers her parents and brothers, Brooke has the urge to spread her wings in a way that she can only do through singing and winning the Blackthorne. She, too, has a very well done personal development.

The plot centers around the rivalry between these two girls, which can get harsh and potentially dangerous at times, while just being sad and petty at others. Bennett-Wealer most definitely handles the full range smoothly, and the play off between the two girls, often misinterpreting the actions of the other and adding to the problem, are all weaved together in a very readable, enjoyable way. There are sections that flashback to the previous year, when the rivalry itself began, and that story is intermixed with what's happening in the present. The sections are long enough to give plenty of history and pull the reader in, while not being so long the other part is forgotten. Bennett-Wealer's transitions are smooth and even have great lead ins between them, despite the year time difference.

From the ultimate question of which girl will win the Blackthorne, the showcase that both girls are now competing for and kicking their rivalry up a notch over, to the questions of why things went wrong, and if they'll find a way to work it out, Bennett-Wealer has plenty of things to keep the pages turning. Add in some smaller subplots, and the simply well done overall execution, and this is a book that grabs from the start and doesn't let go. The pacing is easy, intense at just the right times and flowing throughout, and Bennett-Wealer's writing holding a strong voice. Though the actual writing was very similar between the two girl's perspectives, their individual mindsets were strong enough to override this and give each other girl their own voice and forge individual connections with the reader to each.

There are some strong messages which come through in both blatant and subtle messages, with both friendship and the strains of envy. Add in some romance, typical high school dram that has a great impact without being cliche or obnoxious, some intense emotion, and a satisfying ending, and Rival is a stunning debut. Telling both the bullied and the bullier's side, blending them in a smooth way, and with some strong eye opening for both girls, Bennett-Wealer has written a beautiful contemporary that will hit a range of readers.

Source: ARC received from publisher in exchange for honest review
Reading level: Young Adult
Hardcover: 336 pages
Publisher: HarperTeen
Publication Date: February 15, 2011

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Author Interview: Kim Harrington

Dropping in today is Clarity author Kim Harrington to talk a little about her upcoming debut (which is fantastic and a must read). From a supernatural twist to plenty of boycandy, Kim definitely throws the range at you.

Describe Clarity in seven words.

Psychic family, murder mystery, tourists, hot guys.

If you found yourself in Clare's position with the psychic ability, would you use your power to help the police, even if you knew it could be dangerous and you might not like what you find?

I’m a huge wimp, so I probably wouldn’t involve myself unless—like Clare—I had a personal stake in it.

There is a large cast of characters in this book, yet they are all very realistic and well fleshed out. Did you find it difficult to handle such a large cast, and which character besides Clare was your favorite to do?

It wasn’t too difficult to handle the characters. I know them pretty well. I have detailed character sketches and know what motivates each of them. And I know things that aren’t in book one. ;) Besides Clare, I think my favorite character to write is maybe her brother Perry. He’s part douchey-man-whore and part loyal family member. He’s interesting.

If you could pair Clare, Justin and Gabriel with any character from any book, who would you pick for each?

Ahhh! I can’t answer this because I don’t want to break up any of the couples from other books. I feel guilty. :)

If Clare could go back in time and witness one historical event/time, what would she pick?

She would probably want to go back to the Salem Witch Trials, kick some ass, and save all the women.

If you were a demigod, which god/goddess would be your parent?

What a fun question! I would say Neptune/Poseidon because I love being in the water so much.

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

I’ll go with a candy and say Sour Patch Kids. They’re sweet, sour, shocking and sometimes feel like a punch to the face.

Thank you, Kim, for answering my questions. And I have to admit, you're the first person to decline the couples pairing question because of other couples and not your own.

Clarity hits shelves March 1, so make sure you guys check it out! You don't want to miss it.

Saturday, January 29, 2011

In My Mailbox + Montgomery County Teen Book Fest

So, I went to Houston last weekend for the Montgomery County Teen Book Fest which was amazing. The whole weekend, actually, rocked. I got to see my best friend, hang out with bloggers at the fest, and met up on Sunday with Sophie Jordan and Mary Lindsey for coffee and to chit chat for a few hours before driving back to Dallas. Some of the books I got this week are from the fest, since there were 5 great authors there. I'll go into more detail about that soon, but first, here's the rest of my books for the week:

For Review:
The Midnight Tunnel: A Suzanna Snow Mystery by Angie Frazier
Stupid Fast by Geoff Herbach
Boyfriends with Girlfriends by Alex Sanchez
Okay For Now by Gary D. Schmidt
The Darlings are Forever by Melissa Kantor
The End Time (The Books of Umber) by P. W. Catanese
I Am J by Cris Beam
(Huge thanks to Angie Frazier + Scholstic, Geoff Herbach + Sourcebooks Fire, Alex Sanchez + Simon & Schuster, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, Disney-Hyperion, Simon & Schuster, and Cris Beam + Little, Brown)

Won from Heidi Ayarbe:
Stuck in Neutral by Terry Trueman

Warped by Maurissa Guibord

Bought at Book Fest (All Signed):
Nothing but the Truth (And a Few White Lies) by Justina Chen Headley
Fallen 2 by Thomas Sniegoski
Number the Stars by Lois Lowry
A Summer to Die by Lois Lowry
Garthering Blue by Lois Lowry
The Giver by Lois Lowry
The Silent Boy by Lois Lowry

Like I said before, the book fest was incredibly awesome. The authors on the docket were Jeff Stone, Lois Lowry, Anna Godberson, Thomas Sniegoski, and Justina Chen Headley. There was a Q&A session with all 5 authors, and then 2 breakout sessions. I went to Lois Lowry and Justina Chen Headley, and both had fantastic presentations. Lois talked about her life and her books, and it honestly was fascinating. Justina talked about growing up, what got her into writing and her inspiration, and it really was just an inspiring talk even for the audience.

Jeff and Lois were on one side of the questioner, Anna, Thomas and Justina (who I cut off in this picture) were on the other.

Here Lois is answering one of the questions.

Anna's turn to answer!

After the break out session, all the authors did book signings. I brought several books from home, and bought others I didn't have at the fest.

Here I am with Anna.

Thomas, and yes, my awesome orange Chucks got all 5 author's signatures.

Justina Chen Headley, who has now signed her very first shoe.

And here is the blogger group waiting for the opening talk and Q&A.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Ladies and Their Tramps (4)

Ladies and Their Tramps is my version of the question I ask a lot of authors: If you could pair your main character (and usually their love interest) with any character, who would it be? The responses are always amusing. Now in 2011, I'll be bringing you a new couple every week.

This week's couple mishmash is Charity from Claudia Gray's Evernight Series and Roman from Alyson Noel's The Immortal series.

So, can we say world implosion and evil? This matching has nothing to do with cute and sweet and everything to do with how can we get an explosion. Charity is manipulative and a weird mix of evil pushing into sadistic, and Roman is, well, also manipulative but charming and suave as well. He knows how to get what he wants with grace and class, and Charity just holds nothing back and goes for it. Put these two together, and very bad (but probably really rather awesome) things would happen.

Author Top Ten + Contest: Cynthia Leitich Smith

Continuing her blog tour for Blessed is Cynthia Leitich Smith, here today to talk about her Top Ten YA Book Recommendations! And stick around after the recs for a chance to win a copy of the book or a fantastic themed prize pack!

The Adoration of Jenna Fox by Mary E. Pearson (Henry Holt, 2008). Long after the accident, Jenna finally wakes from a coma with no memories. Who is she now, and how can she begin again? Does she have a right to? A compelling near-future story that will haunt readers long after the last page. Masterful.

The Agency: A Spy in the House by Y.S. Lee (Candlewick, 2010). At age eleven, in 1850s London, orphan (and thief) Mary Quinn was rescued from the gallows by agents of Miss Scrimshaw's Academy for Girls. For the next six years, she studied all that was expected of a proper Victorian lady (and more). And now, at seventeen, she's invited to join The Agency, a secret organization of women investigators whose mandate is to assist Scotland Yard. Mary's first assignment is as paid companion to the spoiled daughter of a wealthy merchant who is suspected of insurance fraud and smuggling. But along the way, she encounters secret upon secret and that no one is what they appear... Exciting, full of verve, and with a hint of romance, The Agency: A Spy in the House offers a terrific protagonist and a fun mystery as it explores Victorian London and traditional and nontraditional roles of both men and women therein. Don’t miss the sequel, The Agency: The Body at the Tower (Candlewick, 2010).

Alien Invasion and Other Inconveniences by Brian Yansky (Candlewick, 2010). Jesse thinks he's just a typical teenager, bored in class and trying to figure out his life. But then, ten seconds after the alien Sanginians arrive, most of mankind is dead. A handful of people, like Jesse, have latent telepathic abilities and survive as slaves with no hope of manumission for themselves or the earth. But then Jesse and his friends discover that the Sanginians just might not be as omnipotent as they appear... Wry, fierce, richly imagined—the total conquest of humanity has never been so entertaining.

Blood and Chocolate by Annette Curtis Klause
(Delacorte, 1997). A sensual exploration of Vivian's longing for a calm life beyond her wolf pack. She becomes infatuated with a human, what her people call a "meat boy," but she wonders whether he will accept her for what she really is. Though her wolf nature is explored in all its bloodiness, at times she could be any teenager unsure of where she fits in. One sexy werewolf story.

Gothic! Ten Original Dark Tales, edited by Deborah Noyes
(Candlewick, 2004). Features stories by Joan Aiken, M.T. Anderson, Neil Gaiman, Caitlin R. Kiernan, Gregory Maguire, Garth Nix, Celia Rees, Janni Lee Simner, Vivian Vande Velde, and Barry Yourgrau. Worth the price of the book for the introduction, though the collection itself is wickedly outstanding.

Impossible by Nancy Werlin (Dial, 2008). Lucy Scarborough, like all women in her family, is cursed. Unless she can perform three seemingly impossible tasks by the time her daughter is born, she will go mad...Unlike her ancestors, though, Lucy has loving friends and foster parents. But will that be enough? Inspired by the ballad “Scarborough Fair,” Impossible is a thought-provoking read that offers engaging characters and suspense as it brings the eldritch atmosphere of Irish myth and legend to the suburbs (while exploring issues of love and friendship, with a hint of parsley, sage, rosemary, and thyme).

Lament: The Faerie Queen’s Deception by Maggie Stiefvater (Flux, 2008). This star-crossed story of music, fey, and assassination is as fierce as it is romantic. Don’t miss the companion novel, Ballad (Flux, 2009).

Sammy & Juliana in Hollywood by Benjamin Alire Sáenz (Cinco Puntos, 2004). Set in a rough New Mexico barrio in the latter 1960s, this story embraces a first true love and its loss, racism, homophobia, war, street violence, family, others words "life." The prose is at times breathtaking in its poetry and at others jarring in its truths. Sammy's voice lingers long after the book closes and leaves the reader more thoughtful than before. An absolute triumph!

Saving Maddie by Varian Johnson (Delacorte, 2010). Joshua Wynne is a preacher's son—a "good boy" in a small town in South Carolina where everyone knows him. But when his childhood friend and (apparently) bad girl, Madeline Smith, returns to town, his faith, intentions, and virginity are tested. Can he bring back the old Maddie while keeping faith with God and his parents, when he doesn't know who he is himself? An elegantly written, non-preachy novel of redemption, intercession, and the courage of faith.

Watersmeet by Ellen Jensen Abbott (Marshall Cavendish, 2009). The outcast daughter of a healer leaves home on a quest to find the father she has never known. A thoughtful high fantasy that touches on prejudice, duty, and loyalty.

Thank you, Cynthia, for those book recs. I'll definitely be checking out the ones I haven't yet read!

Now for your chance to win! I have up for grabs an ARC of Blessed for one lucky winner, and a themed prize pack for another.

The prize pack includes a stuffed plush toy bat, a series tie-in pin (either Sanguini's logo or I HEART My Guardian Angel), an angel wing charm, a Sanguini's logo magnet, and a Sanguini's menu wipe board. Please note, this pack does NOT include a book.

To enter, fill out THIS form. Contest is US Only and will end February 6. First place winner will have choice between ARC and prize pack.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Character Guest Post + Contest: Alex from Delirium

Lauren Oliver's Delirium blog tour is moving along nicely, settling in on this lovely Wednesday here on my little blog. I have to admit, I am super excited not only to host Lauren, but because today... I get to bring you Alex. Yes, love interest, swoony Alex. Is it really any surprise, though, that I wanted the boy to share? Of course not. So without further ado, and before the contest so you can have your very own Alex filled pages, is a little guest post from Alex himself.

Hey. I’m not really great at talking about myself. Maybe it’s a guy thing? What do you want to know, exactly? Is there a guide for this online. Kidding, kidding. This is just bringing me back to my evaluations is all. What is your favorite color? Green! All that kind of stuff.

I like living in Portland okay. It could be worse. I like the parks, and I like the shoreline a lot. Spend a lot of time down at Casco Bay, and by the Old Ports; when I’m done working at the labs I like to walk around the old cobblestone streets. Sometimes I just sit by the water, in the sun, for hours at a time. I think maybe I was a cat in a past life.

The life story is pretty straightforward. You can see all my details in the official file. Look it up with SVS—no point in my rehashing everything. Just your average, run-of-the-mill guy. I’ve been cured but not paired yet; apparently, they’ve had trouble finding a perfect match for me. If I had to say what she would be like…well, I don’t know. I’ve always felt it’s more the little things…the sound of a person’s laugh, the way she wrinkles her nose when she’s thinking, the habits and quirks. Weird preferences. Loving asparagus or hating peaches or whatever. Enjoying the sound of rain, getting freaked by the wind. That kind of thing. But you can’t test for that, can you?

*Dreamy sigh* Thank you, Alex, for stopping by.

Now for YOUR chance, yes, you lovely reader, to win your very own copy of Delirium, fill out THIS form. The contest is US only and ends February 2.

And just in case you're only now turning in to the tour, make sure to check up on the rest of the stops for more Lauren, Delirium, character and chances to win.

Monday: Between the Covers - Welcome to the World of Delirium
Tuesday: Books Complete Me - Book Excerpt
Thursday: Mundie Moms - Meet Hana
Friday: Page Turners Blog - Meet Lena

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Waiting on Wednesday

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

This week's pick is Katie Alender's From Bad to Cursed, which is the follow up to Bad Girls Don't Die. Coming June 14 from Disney-Hyperion.

Summary: Alexis is the last girl you’d expect to sell her soul. She already has everything she needs–an adorable boyfriend, the perfect best friend, and a little sister who’s finally recovering after being possessed by an evil spirit, then institutionalized.

Alexis is thrilled when her sister joins a club; new friends are just what Kasey needs. It’s strange, though, to see how fast the girls in The Sunshine Club go from dorky and antisocial to gorgeous and popular. Soon Alexis learns that the girls have pledged an oath to a seemingly benevolent spirit named Aralt. Worried that Kasey’s in over her head again, Alexis and her best friend Megan decide to investigate by joining the club themselves. At first, their connection with Aralt seems harmless. Alexis trades in her pink hair and punky clothes for a mainstream look, and quickly finds herself reveling in her newfound elegance and success.

Instead of fighting off the supernatural, Alexis can hardly remember why she joined in the first place. Surely it wasn’t to destroy Aralt…why would she hurt someone who has given her so much, and asked for so little in return?

My Thoughts: Okay first, I loved Bad Girls Don't Die. Such a well done ghost/possession story with a great mix of fun and harsh. Second, this is not a sequel because it HAS to be a sequel. Book 1 is tied up. I want more because the characters are great, Katie's writing is great, and, uh, possession is just... so... filled with possibility. Then I read the premise of this and Yes. Please. Making deals with benevolent spirits? Tying in teenage girl insecurities and wants? Toeing the line of dorky to popular? This pretty much seems like the perfect mix of high school/teenage, and spirits and paranormal. And can I just say how well both book covers fit together, but also how creepy this one looks? Oh look, girl in a dress in the doorw-- Whoa. That's one angry look on her face. *backs away*

Author Top Ten + Contest: Michael Northrop

Today's guest of honor is Michael Northrop, author of Trapped and Gentleman, as part of his Trapped blog tour. The topic for this post is Top Ten Winter Perils!

10. Hit by snowball

9. Hit by ice ball

8. Slip on ice

7. Fall through ice

6. Caught in snow storm*

5. Caught in ice storm

4. Double-dog-dared to lick freezing flagpole

3. Chased by polar bear

2. Caught by polar bear

1. Avalanche!

* Not including massive weeklong nor’easter

Thank you, Michael, for that list. Good luck with your release, and against those polar bears.

Now for your chance to win an ARC of Trapped, fill out THIS form.

Contest is US only and ends February 8.

Monday, January 24, 2011

Book Review: XVI by Julia Karr


Nina Oberon's life is pretty normal: she hangs out with her best friend, Sandy, and their crew, goes to school, plays with her little sister, Dee. But Nina is 15. And like all girls she'll receive a Governing Council-ordered tattoo on her 16th birthday. XVI. Those three letters will be branded on her wrist, announcing to all the world—even the most predatory of men—that she is ready for sex. Considered easy prey by some, portrayed by the Media as sluts who ask for attacks, becoming a "sex-teen" is Nina's worst fear. That is, until right before her birthday, when Nina's mom is brutally attacked. With her dying breaths, she reveals to Nina a shocking truth about her past—one that destroys everything Nina thought she knew. Now, alone but for her sister, Nina must try to discover who she really is, all the while staying one step ahead of her mother's killer.


The Short Version:
Playing on bits of the present and past, and blending it with a futuristic but well built world, XVI gracefully hits on some rough issues. There are some striking truths and revealed secrets throughout this book, all of which are easy to understand for readers while still being powerful. With a strong protagonist, a well developed supporting cast, and bold writing, Karr has created a great sci-fi dystopian that is both engaging and thought provoking.

The Extended Version:
Nina has a stunning inner strength that comes out in unexpected ways, making her both likable, respectable, and relatable. She challenges the ways of her world, disapproves of the sex-teen mindset, and is determined to make her own way as best she can while not raising too much suspicion. Faced with the death of her mother, Nina finds herself under a whole new set of problems, but handles it, overall, very well. She protects her sister, tries to keep up with her friends, and overall does what she can to blend both being a teen, about to be sex-teen (16), and trying to find her mother’s killer.

Sal is most certainly a very interesting character. His motives are questioned and challenged, and his mannerisms are sometimes suspicious, but he does a large part to drive not only the plot but Nina’s overall solid character development. Sal hits on the seemingly stereotypical mysterious love interest, attractive and intriguing while holding hints of danger, but Karr also manages to spin him in a way that keeps him separate from that.

Despite the dystopian world, this is a very character driven book which makes it shine for me. Karr’s development is fantastic, even for the minor characters, right down to little quirks and details. There is a strong sense of all the characters, and Karr holds nothing back with them.

One of my favorite aspects of this book was the sex-teen angle. It holds grotesque truths to societies that exist today, and even, in some ways, mirrors our current culture in the US. Karr holds nothing back when it comes to her sex focused world, from leering boys to the constant reminder that once a girl turns sixteen, she is essentially fair game to any boy interested. Making this stronger and more memorable is setting it against the government control situation, where everything is seemingly in the best interest of the people yet this is such a striking opposition to that. Karr easily builds this world and gives the reader constant reminders without it being confusing or overly detailed.

The constant advertisements that exist in Nina’s world are mentioned often, and though this can seem redundant, I really enjoyed Karr’s use of it to drive home the point that it really is constant and unavoidable. But it isn’t just to promote and advertise products, and this is what made this element striking. With the constant noise and stimulation, it’s hard for any one person to think on their own. It adds, in a seemingly innocent way, to the controlling aspect. This is just one of the many ways Karr has built on everything and blended the two sides, all of which culminate into a great world.

Fleshing things out is the intricacies of this plot, revealing new clues at the perfect moment. There are some slower times and lulls, but Nina’s thoughts never slow and there is always something happening, even in the smallest of ways, to build towards the overall plot and story arc. A few subplots keep things interesting without bogging the main portion down, and Karr’s writing holds strong descriptions, easy use of her new technology, and an easy readability. With the great cast, an incredibly likable and strong protagonist who still has her moments of weakness and hints of fear, and some great concepts in content and playout, XVI is a stellar debut with plenty of promise for the author.

Source: Purchased

Reading level: Young Adult
Paperback: 272 pages
Publisher: Speak
Publication Date: January 6, 2011

Author Top Ten: Kari Lee Townsend

Being fused to your cell phone seems like it has a lot of great potential, right? You never lose your phone, you're a walking GPS, and the Internet is literally always at your fingertips. But Kari Lee Townsend, author of Fused- a book about this very thing- is here today to share the not so great side of being fused to your cell phone, at least for Samantha.

10). Coming down with multiple viruses simultaneously
9). Freezing up when her system lags, needs updating, or rebooting
8). Slowing down when too many things are downloaded and she needs more memory
7). Explaining side-effects like longer eye lashes and fingernails every time she uses her powers
6). Blocking 911 calls and being sent to the rescue no matter what she’s in the middle of
5). Having to wear a disguise and keep her identity a secret
4). Looking like she has tics and that she’s a know-it-all every time a teacher asks a question
3). Wearing gloves and letting people think she has warts to hide her bumpy, glowing cell palm
2). Having her hand itch every time it vibrates over an incoming call, text, or voicemail
1). Not being able to date her big-time crush, Trevor Hamiton!

Make sure you guys check out Fused to see just exactly what Samantha does to deal with all this and more!

From the Boy Closet (4)

From the Boy Closet is a new weekly feature here at A Good Addiction that will spotlight a different well done YA hottie each week. If you follow me on Twitter, you've probably heard me talk about the YA boys I've shoved into my "Boy Closet" and this feature is thanks to that. It takes more than just looks to make me swoon for a guy in a book, and there are plenty of boys who didn't do it for me, so for the authors who wrote the guys who could.... this post is for you.

This week's hottie is Will from Sophie Jordan's Firelight. He's all kinds of sexy, both in looks and personality. He's got the cocky cool aloof thing going on at first, only to find out how much more there is to him. Tormented and torn, Will hits on the broken boy kind of thing that makes me melt without being such a mess he's not worth it. Not to mention, kissing Will is steamy. Literally. Or at least, for Jacinda it is. Oh, and he has a hummer. With lots of weaponry. Total. Win.

Then he moves, swims closer in an easy glide. A muscle feathers the flesh of his jaw, and something flutters in my belly. He doesn't look hard, as I'd imagined. He doesn't look evil. He looks... curious." -- pg 17

He drags a hand through his hair, the gold-brown locks feather, then fall back into place. "It's a bit complicated, but yeah, I don't wan to get close to anyone...bring anyone around my family." His gaze locks with mine. Grim. Resolute. "They're poison, Jacinda. I can't expose you to them. I wouldn't expose anyone I care about to them." He shakes his head. "I didn't mean to lead you on. I'm sorry I asked you, sorry that I can't..." His fingers flex on the steering wheel until he regains his voice. "I'm just sorry." --pg 130

With a ragged breath, he pulls me flush against him. His hands flatten over my back. I fit against him, settling my softness into all his hard lines and angles." --pg 154

His expression softens then, pulls at some part of me. His gaze travels my face, warming the core of me. "Whoever you are, Jacinda, you're someone I have to let in." --pg 182

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Author Interview: Julia Karr

Today's guest is debut author Julia Karr, who brought us the great dystopian XVI, which throws a sex-teen culture at us, mixed with government control and one girl's testing of it all.

How do you think you'd react to be thrown into Nina's world, and made open for sex on your 16th birthday?

Tough question. I’ve always been pretty stubborn and don’t like having people (or governments) telling me what I should feel like or be like. I would definitely not have been on the sex-teen end of the spectrum. I would’ve been really ticked off. Sex is a personal decision that shouldn’t be taken lightly. To be thrown into a world where it’s almost like recreation, yeah... I wouldn’t be happy about that.

What was the reasoning behind the magic number being 16, rather than a different age?

Sixteen, at least when I was a teenager, was a big deal. Most girls had to wait until they were sixteen to go out on dates. (At least in my hometown that was pretty much the way it was.) That’s when you could get your driver’s license. Also, you started getting greater independence and were looked on as being practically an adult.

Also - I turned sixteen a few months after I moved to Chicago - and that completed turned my world upside down and changed my life.

If you could pair Nina and Sal with any characters from any book, what would your picks for each be?

Oooo, this is a toughie, too. I could see Sal with Jenna Fox. For Nina... well, I could see her with Jacob Black.

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

Hmmm... I’m a pretty private person, but... I will share that I’m a total teen girls movies fan. I can watch certain ones over and over again: Ever After, Mean Girls, A Cinderella Story, Teenage Drama Queen, What a Girl Wants, and my favorite... Clueless.

What kind of cookie would you describe yourself as?

Peanut butter. Crunchy on the outside, a bit soft of the inside, sweet, but really kinda good for you!

Thank you, Julia, for taking the time to answer my questions. And I have to admit, I can see Nina with Jacob Black as well. They'd definitely challenge the things they are supposed to think.

Saturday, January 22, 2011

In My Mailbox

So... before I get to this week's books, I want to let you guys know about a new blog I've started recently with my writing buddies. It's DNA Writers, and the ladies in it are fab, so check it out here and follow us for everything writing and more. And now on to this week's books!

The Sweetheart of Prosper County by Jill S. Alexander
The Boyfriend List by E. Lockhart
The Boy Book by E. Lockhart
The Afterlife by Gary Soto
Hero Type by Barry Lyga
Taken by Edward Bloor
Boy Meets Boy by David Levithan

IMM is a weekly meme hosted by The Story Siren.

Friday, January 21, 2011

Author Interview + Contest: Marina Budhos

Here today is Tell Us We're Home author Maria Budhos to talk about her book which sheds light on some issues often not thought about.

If Tell Us We're Home were made into a movie, what would its tagline be?

It’s actually the one that’s on my book cover, which I worked on with my editor: “When everything goes wrong, you’re a stranger in your own town, and you lose your best friends, how do you begin to belong?”

What would be the hardest part for you if you were to find yourself in the position of these girls?

Feeling as if I was invisible. The hardest part in this story was how, for instance, Jaya was right inside other people’s houses, knowing so much about them, and then those same people could look right through her, as if she didn’t exist.

If you could pair Jaya, Maria and Lola with any character from any book, who would your picks for each be?

To be really wild, Jaya would be paired with Weetzie in Weetzie Bat because I’d like her to see what it’s like to be really out there, really arty and alternative. Jaya’s so conservative and contained, it might open her eyes.

Lola would be paired with Dorothea in Middlemarch (which I’m reading right now). She’s such a purist and thinks she knows better—in fact she’s always proving that she’s better—but she’s also missing out on some real human connection.

Maria would be paired the narrator in Maxine Hong Kingston’s Woman Warrior—it would be cool to have her take on the fierce journey of woman warrior Fa Mu Lan.

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

I am a very restless person. Even on my best days, and even with all my responsibilities as a mother and wife, an author and professor, I often have fantasies of just chucking it all. Leaving for a far off continent and doing something daring or different. Selling our house and moving completely elsewhere. The best way I handle this is I do try to travel (a lot) and in delving into story making.

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

A dark chocolate torte with lots of layers.

Thank you, Marina, for the interview! Now for your chance to win a copy of Tell Us We're Home, fill out THIS FORM.

Contest is US Only and ends February 4.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Author Interview: Gwendolyn Heasley

Here today is Gwendolyn Heasley, author of a cute romance that's set in Texas: Where I Belong. This is a great countrified take on a riches to rags kind of story, with a pretty darn cute cowboy to boot.

What would be the hardest part for you if you were to find yourself moved from the city life to the Texas country

Actually, I have already done my own city to country experience. I attended graduate school in a small, remote town in Missouri. The nearest airport was two hours away. I experienced a bit of culture shock and definitely felt like a fish out of water since I didn't know anyone. I also attended college in the South after growing up in the Midwest! I actually enjoy new experiences and places even if they feel awkward at first.

To answer your question more precisely, the hardest part of moving to Texas for me would be the summer heat and remembering how to drive! (I live in NYC and I haven’t driven in over six months!)

What was your favorite aspect of writing the Texas setting?

I loved Texan language and phrases! I also loved Texan culture. I love its devotion to football and its emphasis on state history. Most of all, I like the pride that Texans have. My Texan friends truly love Texas, and it's infectious. I think everyone (no matter where they live) should try to find pride in where they come from.

If you could pair Corrinne, Rider and Bubby with any character from any book, what would be your pick for each?

I would pair Corrinne with Liz Hall, the main character from Elsewhere by Gabrielle Zevin. I am going to teach Elsewhere this Winter, so I have spent a lot of time thinking about it recently. Even though Elsewhere is a very different novel, I think both Liz and Corrinne learn to change and adapt to lives they didn't expect to lead. (In Liz’s case, however, she learns to adapt to the afterlife!)

I would pair Rider with Edward Cullen from Stephenie Meyer’s Twilight! Rider thinks he should be evasive and arrogant because he's a singer and that's the rock star stereotype whereas Edward takes the vampire stereotype and subverts it. He's not scary, and he's not cruel. I think Rider could learn something about breaking molds from Edward.

I would pair Bubby with Jake Barnes from The Sun Also Rises. I think the two of them could relate what it's like to be in like (or love) with a girl who is popular, difficult and slightly unattainable.

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

I don't know how to cook. At all. I only bake, toast, and microwave. Resolution 2011: learn to cook. And I am tone deaf.

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

Reese's peanut butter cups. They are both sweet and a tiny bit salty. Plus they are just delicious.

Thank you, Gwen, and as someone who's lived in Texas almost my whole life, I do have to say, it's pretty much the best state. I can't even imagine an emphasis that isn't on football... high school would have been so different. Make sure you guys watch out for this book, coming February 1!

Ladies and Their Tramps (3)

Ladies and Their Tramps is my version of the question I ask a lot of authors: If you could pair your main character (and usually their love interest) with any character, who would it be? The responses are always amusing. Now in 2011, I'll be bringing you a new couple every week.

This week's couple mishmash is Rosetta from Mindi Scott's Freefall and Lend from Kiersten White's Paranormalcy.

She's smart and pretty, laid back but able to hold her own when she needs to. He's sweet in that attractive kind of way, quick on the quips, and technically the hottest boy in the world. They both are strong, but the kind that wants and needs someone to lean on. These two would have an easy kind of relationship, both fun and tender, not to mention, Rosetta wouldn't even be especially freaked by Lend's whole water boy thing.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Book Review: The Samantha Granger Experiment- Fused by Kari Lee Townsend


After Sam is fused with her cell phone, she's ready to conquer the world! Or at least the 8th grade...

When Samantha Granger touches a meteor while talking on her cell phone, her life is changed forever: her body now has all the capabilities of her phone (GPS, phone, text, camera). She secretly calls herself a "Digital Diva" as she rushes to answer emergency calls. But will her identity be discovered when sparks fly (literally!) between her and Trevor, her dreamy crush? Samantha has to get a handle on her abilities and quick, because when Sam gets kidnapped and the entire town is in danger, she is the only one who can save them.


The Short Version:
Interesting in premise and cute in playout, Fused does a great job blending the technical world with the life of a young teenage girl. Easily walking the line between middle ground and lower YA, Townsend pitches Sam in a way that is both relatable and enjoyable. Add in the overall well paced plot and this is definitely a light, fun read.

The Extended Version:
Samantha is a typical girl at the start, eager to work things out on her own and determined in a way that is telling of both the age and her personality. She is very full of life and though she finds herself in some very interesting situations, there are many nostalgia inducing moments with this one. From her awkwardness around her crush to her freaking out about suddenly being fused with her phone, there is a realistic and relatable element to Samantha even in the midst of this new world.

Trevor is a great crush for Samantha, cute and charming without being flat out shallow. The reasons she likes him go beyond is looks and that comes across clearly, and the growing playoff between the two adds a nice note to the book. Add in Mel, her best friend, and there is a triad of characters that are enjoyable and fun.

There are some unexpected twists in this book, centering around a few subplots that tie up well at the end while still leaving things open for the next installment. The actual premise is unique and well done, with much of the various aspects of Sam being fused explained. Townsend also does a great job juggling Sam’s drive to be normal while also learning about her new abilities, and putting them to use. There isn’t an instant acceptance, or an outright refusal, on Samantha’s part and this is handled very well for her personality.

Overall, the writing gives a good voice to Samantha and is readable at a middle grade level without coming off as talking down or dumb. Though some of the phrasing and descriptions were jarring and out of place for me, and the technical speak got a little much here and there, the actual use of everything and the way Townsend pitches the shifts in Sam between girl and cell phone are fresh and well done. Even with the who done it kind of plot, the level of fun in this book is its most notable quality.

Source: Received for review from author/publisher in exchange for honest review
Reading Level: Middle Grade
Paperback: 208 pages
Publisher: Sourcebooks Jabberwocky
Publication Date: November 1, 2010

Waiting on Wednesday

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

**Update Feb 2011: C-Side tales is now being called Amplified, and will be having a new cover coming soon**

This week's pick is Tara Kelly's C-Side Tales, coming this fall from Henry Holt and Co.

Summary: When privileged 17-year-old Jasmine gets kicked out of her house, she takes what is left of her savings and flees to Santa Cruz to pursue her dream of becoming a musician. Jasmine finds the ideal room in an oceanfront house, but needs to convince the three guys living there that she's the perfect roommate and lead guitarist for their industrial rock band, C-Side. Too bad she has major stage fright, and the cute bassist doesn't think a spoiled girl from over the hill can hack it.

My Thoughts: This one seems like a really great riches to rags kind of story with music and boys thrown in. The fact that it centers around wanting to join the band and her love of music just adds something great overall to this one. I think this is going to be a great mix of emotional and funny, and a pretty darn awesome coming of age, the music edition. I also love this cover. The background is gorgeous, but it gets much of the book premise across very well.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Book Review: Desires of the Dead by Kimberly Derting


The missing dead call to Violet. They want to be found.

When Violet Ambrose's morbid ability to sense the echoes of those who've been murdered leads her to the body of a young boy, she draws the attention of the FBI. She is reluctantly pulled into an investigation that will endanger more than just her secret...but her relationship and possibly her life as well.


The Short Version:
Engaging and maintaining the same creep factor as the first book, Desires of the Dead is a very strong follow up. Building on the characters and adding new ones, Derting has expanded her world in some surprising and unexpected ways. With a strong focus on the mystery itself, and maintaining the same masterful writing, this addictive plot flies quickly.

The Extended Version:
Violet is, overall, similar to the girl we met in the first book: stubborn and brave at some times, unsure and scared at others. Her struggles with her ability are even more poignantly shown in this one, opening with a heartbreaking scene that really explores what she has to endure. She shows continued growth with this installment, both in her relationships with those around her and her views towards herself and the body finding. There is an even stronger emotional component to Violet in this installment as she's tested in unexpected ways and forced to make some rough decisions.

Jay has a bit of a backseat kind of role in this book, letting Violet really shine and allowing the plot to focus more on the mystery itself and giving a strong sense of self-confidence to Violet. Still, his love for her continues to burn strongly and there are some beautiful and emotional scenes between these two. The depth of their feelings and relationship continues to grow and shift, a firm reminder of their age and experiences.

This plot holds similar elements to the first, but is, overall, an entirely new mystery to solve. With little clues spattered throughout but enough conflicting evidence to keep the reader guessing, Derting has done a brilliant job of weaving her mystery without much predictability. The new characters raise questions of their own, some of which are answered and some that leave the things open for the next installment, while still overall tying up everything intricate to this plot.

With this sequel, Derting has proved her ability to expand on a solid world in new and exciting ways, keeping readers engaged and leaving them aching for more of Violet and what her ability really means. Add in the stellar writing, giving a good voice to Violet while also doing a stunning job of getting into the mind of another party, similar to the killer’s perspective in the first book. From happy to downright creepy and chill inducing, Derting has mastered her writing style.

Source: ARC received for review from author/publisher in exchange for honest review
Reading level: Young Adult
Hardcover: 368 pages
Publisher: HarperCollins
Publication Date: February 15, 2011

Teaser Tuesday

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

This week's teaser is from Veronica Roth's Divergent, coming May 3, 2011 from Katherine Tegan Books.

"I look at the hole again. Goosebumps rise on my pale arms and my stomach lurches. If I don't do it now, I know I won't be able to do it at all. I swallow hard.
I don't think. I just bend my knees and jump." -- pg 57 in the ARC, which is subject to change.

Summary: One choice

One choice decides your friends, defines your beliefs, and determines your loyalties . . . forever.

Or, one choice can transform you.

In Veronica Roth's debut novel, Divergent, a perfect society unfolds into a dystopian world of electrifying decisions, stunning consequences, heartbreaking betrayals, and unexpected romance.

Monday, January 17, 2011

Author Interview: Heather Terrell

Popping in today is Fallen Angel author Heather Terrell to answer some questions!

Before I begin with our author interview, I want to thank you so much for your interest in Fallen Angel!! I really hope that you enjoy the book, which tells the tale of two otherworldly teens whose search for their true identities ignites an ancient battle between good and evil. I welcome any questions or comments that you might have, so please e-mail me, or visit me on, or Friend me on Facebook..

Now, here goes . . .

If Ellie were to tell readers one thing going into the novel, what would it be?

If given the opportunity, I think Ellie would tell the readers to listen to their instincts about who they are and what course they should follow – in the novel and in their lives. No matter how difficult the truth is to believe, and no matter how impossible the path seems. That is the advice that would have served Ellie best at the outset of Fallen Angel, and the advice I feel pretty sure that she’d want to impart to the readers.

If you found yourself in a situation similar to Ellie's and forced to choose sides, would you go against the one you love?

Obviously, I have never found myself in a situation as emotionally and morally challenging as Ellie’s, and I hope I never do! However, if I were faced with her dilemma, I hope that I would rise to the challenge and pursue the moral course . . . even if it meant going against the one I love. As Emily Dickinson wrote, “we never know how high we are till we are called to rise. And then if we are true to plan, our statures touch the skies.”

You can only read one book for an entire year. What would it be?

That is a really tough question! I have so many books that I read over and over, and so many books that I’ve had on my “to read” list forever. That said, I think I would select the Bible for a couple of reasons. First, I confess to never reading it cover to cover, and it seems like reading it thoroughly might take up an entire year. Second, certain Biblical tales are integral to the underlying story of Fallen Angel, and I became intrigued with the way in which some of the Biblical stories are part of our culture without our awareness.

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

Another terrific question, but another difficult one because I have such a sweet tooth! I think I would have to select a macaroon, although not because it is my favorite dessert. No, some sort of molten chocolate cake fits that bill a bit better. Instead, I would choose a macaroon because it has a slightly tough exterior, which masks a surprisingly sweet, yet complex, interior.

Thank you, Heather, for those answers. I love your answer for the cake question- and hey, macaroons dipped in chocolate are pretty amazing!