Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Waiting on Wednesday

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

This week's pick is The List by Siobhan Vivian, coming April 1, 2012.

Summary: An intense look at the rules of high school attraction-and the price that's paid for them.

It happens every year. A list is posted, and one girl from each grade is chosen as the prettiest, and another is chosen as the ugliest. Nobody knows who makes the list. It almost doesn't matter. The damage is done the minute it goes up.

This is the story of eight girls, freshman to senior, "pretty" and "ugly." And it's also the story of how we see ourselves, and how other people see us, and the tangled connection of the two.

My Thoughts: I loved Not That Kind of Girl, and this is definitely an autobuy author for me. The concept of this one, though, just sounds so awesome. I love the raw truth in it, and the inherent pain that will come along. It's such a cruel thing, to vote someone as the ugliest, but we all know that even if it isn't outwardly done, it's something that goes through a lot of people's thoughts. I think Siobhan will do this entire idea justice, and twist readers right into it perfectly. As for the cover, I love it's simplicity, and that while there is a group of girls, the focus is on one. 

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Character Interview + Contest: Cas Lowood from Anna Dressed in Blood

It's release day of one of my favorite books this year, Kendare Blake's Anna Dressed in Blood! To celebrate, not only has Kendare brought you guys a prize pack of Anna awesomeness, but she's also let me steal Cas, the ghost butt kicking hottie star of this book. No, really. He's officially in the Boy Closet and she doesn't mind. Also, she let me interview him. So if you want to know where he'd take Anna on a date, how he'd want her to kill him (did I really just put those questions in an interview? Why yes, yes I did...) and more, check it out now!

Before Anna, what ghost stood out the most memorably to you that you’ve killed?

Probably Peter Carver. Because he was my first. He had murdered his wife. Almost got the better of me. But I was only fourteen.

If you could take Anna on a date, where would you go?

Anna? On a date? Uh…I don’t know. Dinner is sort of out, since she doesn’t eat. I never really thought of this, I guess. There were always other things…I don’t know if it would even make sense…but…she loved photography. We could go to an exhibition or something. She could tell me about it, show me what made it art.

What is the hardest part about moving around so much?

Packing. Trying to remember where the bathroom is in the middle of the night.

If Anna were to kill you, how would you want it done?

Ha. If Anna were to kill me. These are some damn funny questions, Kari. You do know that I’m fairly hard to kill.

But okay. If Anna were to kill me, and I just had to let it happen…I guess she could do it just about whatever way she wanted. Except with a gun. That’s…stupid.

What’s your favorite thing about Anna?

Favorite thing? I don’t know. I mean, I guess it’s everything. Sometimes I’d look at her and it’d be like I could see right through. And then she’d open her mouth, and I could hear it. I could hear that she’d never break. I admired Anna. Maybe that’s my favorite thing.

And she’s not hard to look at either. You know what I’m saying?

What kind of cookie would you describe yourself as?

Cookie? That’s sort of weird. Like am I chunky chocolate chip or oatmeal? That’s a seriously weird question, um…I don’t know. I guess I’d be anise crescents. That’d make my mom happy.

So, is that it? Because I should get going. And uh, are you hearing those noises coming out of that closet over there? What is that? 

Thank you, Cas, for answering my questions even if you found them weird. And for the record, Anna came pretty darn close to killing you but since she didn't, well... you're here today. And in my Closet.

Congrats, Kendare, on the fantastic release!

Make sure you guys all run out and pick up Anna Dressed in Blood today. You do not want to miss this one, and I hear the lettering is red. Go!

But, for those of you who have that weird thing called patience and are crazy enough not to run out today and buy the book, here's your chance to win it, along with some bookmarks and a bumper sticker. Yes, I said bumper sticker. You know you want this.

To enter, just fill out THIS form!

Contest is US/Can only and ends September 6.

While no entries will be accepted in the comments, you should leave one anyway. Because admit it, Cas is awesome. And it's Kendare's book birthday.

Monday, August 29, 2011

Book Review: Paradise Rules by Jimmy Gleacher


It’s only a week into summer break and already seventeen-year-old Gates has . . .

a) Hustled millionaires on the golf course

b) Tried to stop his mother from having a(nother) nervous breakdown

c) Promised to lose his virginity with his girlfriend, Mel . . . which would be great if he hadn’t already lost it to his forty-year-old godmother

d) Almost killed a man

Yeah, Gates has a lot of secrets, but he’s determined to keep his heart true. When he’s not swinging golf clubs like a pro, he reads pulp fiction to old folks at the retirement home. And despite his occasional slip-ups—drinking before noon and sneaking glimpses through his sexy godmother’s open negligees—Gates only has eyes for Mel. But she knows he’s hiding something, and she’s beginning to lose her patience.

Just as Gates is about to spill his shameful secrets, he gets tangled up in a golf club scandal that jeopardizes his dreams of a normal life. He’s never been a fighter, but this time he finally pushes back at the world—which could have been a breakthrough but turns into an epic fail. Probably because Gates fights back dirty. Now his life is on the verge of ruin, and he’s got no one to turn to for help.

Or so he thinks. Because what Gates is about to discover might hit him with the most amazing shock of his life.


The Short Version:
Hilarious and unimaginable, Paradise Rules is over the top in all the best ways to create a funny, page turning read. Gates is the kind of character readers will inherently feel for, while still finding themselves wondering why he's doing some of the things he does. With a colorful cast of characters, spunky writing, and an overall well put together story line, this one is definitely an enjoyable, fast paced read.

The Extended Version:
Gates is definitely a guy with way too many problems, some of them of his own making and some not so much. Stuck in a sexual relationship with his godmother that he doesn't necessarily want, unable to figure out a way to tell anyone what's happening, and finding himself in increasingly bizarre situations across the board, Gates is all but normal, and about as much of a mess as the term allows. Still, how much he loves his girlfriend is clear and endearing, and the lengths he will go to to figure things out builds his character in a great way.

Though there are plenty of other people in Gates' life, the story most assuredly revolves around him, with no one side character holding more weight over another. Each character, however, has their quirks and habits which come through strongly, and the interactions Gates has with each one builds both characters steadily. Not holding back on how unlikable some characters are, Gleacher most definitely has a solid hold on his characterization skills.

The plot is completely over the top in so many ways, with so much thrown at Gates that it definitely borders on being unreal, and yet Gleacher has pieced it all together, backed up the motivations, and shown Gates' reactions to each element in a way that makes it work completely. With plenty of hilarious moments mixed in, an unadulterated look into Gates' seventeen year old mind, and a few primary story arcs that carry everything, this one's plot works throughout. Though a few scenes were, admittedly, a little too out there, the over all interplay of them and the way each one drives the plot a little more is notable.

The writing has a pretty steady flow overall, and though Gates' voice wasn't completely teenage boy, there was a clear element of it. With some great descriptions, a good overall sense of place, and enough random sexual related thoughts to keep readers laughing and reminding them that despite the events, this really is a teen boy trying to get through everything, Gleacher's writing talents definitely show.

Though a general fiction book, Paradise Rules is something that readers of many ages will enjoy. Despite the strong sexual natural of it, this book is far from crass or vulgar, and is completely hilarious more often than not. With some unforeseeable twists but a few moments of predictability that readers will thrive on, this one is a great read that will grab from the start and not let go.

Source: Paperback received from publisher in exchange for an honest review
Reading Level: General Fiction 
Paperback: 304 pages 
Publisher: Gallery Books
Publication Date:  July 12, 2011

Friday, August 26, 2011

Author Top Ten: Amber Argyle

Book release are always exciting, but what better to celebrate than with desserts? Yep. Desserts. Witch Song author Amber Argyle agreed, because she's here today to share not only her top ten favorite desserts, but a recipe for her number one pick! So let's get to it!

Tiramisu (my husband makes these every year for my birthday)
Chocolate chip cookies (I make the best chocolate chip cookies EVER).
Fruit Pizza made by my neighbor
Rocky Road Brownies made by me
Carmel brownies
Oreo ice cream
Blueberry cheesecake
Red velvet cake (my Mom made this every year for my birthday growing up. She
still does, on occasion).
9. Lindt truffles (in all their delicious variations)
10. Chocolate cake (made by my hubby).

Tiramisu Recipe:

1 recipe Hot-Milk Sponge Cake
1/3 C granulated sugar
2 T Pero or instant espresso powder or instant coffee crystals
2 8 ox mascarpone cheese or cream cheese, softened
½ C sifted powdered sugar
1 t vanilla
2 oz semisweet chocolate, grated
1 c whipping cream
½ oz semisweet chocolate, grated

Prepare hot milk sponge cake, making sure to grease and flour the pan. Cool for 10 minutes.

Remove from pan and cool completely.

In small saucepan, combine granulated sugar, Pero, and 1/3 cup water. Cook over medium heat to boiling. Boil for 1 minute; remove from heat and cool completely.

For filling (my husband doubles all the filling ingredients), in a medium bowl stir together the mascarpone or cream cheese, powdered sugar, and vanilla. Stir in the 2 oz grated chocolate

To assemble, cut cake horizontally into 3 layers. Return a cake layer to the baking pan.

Brush layer in pan with one third of the syrup and spread with half of the filling. Repeat
layering with the second cake layer, one third of the syrup, and the remaining filling. Top
with the third cake layer; brush with the remaining syrup.

In a chilled bowl, whip cream until soft peaks form. Spread over top cake layer. Sprinkle
with the ½ oz grated chocolate. Refrigerate at least 4 hours. Makes 12 to 16 servings.

Anyone else dying  for a sugar rush? Thanks, Amber, for sharing and congrats on the release!

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Book Review: The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer by Michelle Hodkin

SUMMARY: Mara Dyer doesn't think life can get any stranger than waking up in a hospital with no memory of how she got there.

It can.

She believes there must be more to the accident she can't remember that killed her friends and left her mysteriously unharmed.

There is.

She doesn't believe that after everything she's been through, she can fall in love.

She's wrong.


The Short Version:
Mysterious, unique, and masterfully sculpted, The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer is one of the single most brilliantly executed books. With a phenomenal concept and story line, gorgeous writing, and an absolutely astoundingly well developed cast of characters, this one is beyond amazing in more ways than can be explained. Rich in banter and humor, but never shying away from the emotions and rough stuff, The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer mixes old and new elements in a way that makes Hodkin shine.

The Extended Version:
Mara is a fantastically well done character, holding all the pain and discomfort that would be expected for someone in her situation while still having a mindset all her own that brings her character vividly to life. From her fear to her bravery, flirting to annoyed, Mara goes through a huge range of emotions and every single one is tangible across the pages. She is witty and sarcastic, but completely relatable and realistic in a way that comes off as completely natural. Her character growth and development from start to finish is tremendous, giving further credibility to Hodkin’s inherent skills.

Noah is, hands down, the hottest boy in YA. Cocky and sure of himself, yet with a huge heart and compassionate in the softest of ways, he will melt hearts even when he’s being a jerk. Intelligent and perceptive, Noah adds plenty to the overall story and Mara’s development without ever stealing the spotlight from her. Excruciatingly hot, hilarious in his quips and comments, and achingly sweet as well, Noah has just as strong a presence and lasting impression as Mara.

Also notable with this book is the family element, breaking plenty of molds within YA for the better. With two parents who very much love Mara, even if the mother can be overbearing at times, the safety net that Mara does have is clear, and adds a beautiful element to the story. Her relationship with her older brother is realistic, flawed at times but great at others, and reading the scenes between these two will bring a smile to every reader’s face. But even better, despite the strong family role, the book still centers very much on Mara, while she navigates everything thrown at her without having it all simply done for her.

This is a book where the plot is impossible to talk about without giving things away, but suffice it to say it is perfectly done from the interweaving of the growing mystery to the small clues sprinkled throughout to the character driven aspect. Every single element of this book, however big or small, plays amazingly into the overall effect. Relying in large part on carefully planned reveals, there are plenty of unpredictable twists and jawdropping turns that will keep readers salivating with each turn of the page. Though not a contemporary book, this one has a very strong contemporary component that will resonate with readers who prefer that genre while still pulling in plenty of the supernatural to entice other readers. This blend is completely seamless, with everything entwined intricately.

The romance element of this one is fantastic, hot and steamy yet emotional and awkward, and never detracts from the bigger picture of the plot or comes off as being just a fallback to fill the lulls. Just as intriguing and engaging as the rest of the book, this is one of the best romances in YA, yet the book itself doesn’t stand out as simply a romance.

Hodkin’s writing is gorgeous, rapt with plenty of fresh descriptions while still holding a very potent, unique voice that builds Mara’s character and the way she views the world. Some of the best, most fluid, never forced banter around can be found in this boot. Without relying only on insulting comments to be funny, Hodkin’s humor and banter engages both the characters and readers and crops up at even the most serious of times for the perfect moment of comedic relief before thrusting the reader right back into the depths of everything. Rapt with an emotional atmosphere that adds to the mystery element and borders on dark and drab without actually being that way, the writing kicks an already amazing book up another notch.

With an astoundingly well done cast of characters that includes a witty, sympathetic, and relatable narrator and a sexy sweet love interest, and a plot that is too intricate to even talk about without ruining everything, The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer is an example in every way of what an amazing book should be like. Though the ending is jaw dropping, that isn’t the only reason readers will be begging for more, showing true testament to Hodkin’s inherent ability as both a writer and story teller. Stunning in every way, this is a debut that you don’t want to miss and that amps things up across the board for the YA genre.

Source: ARC received from publisher in exchange for an honest review
Reading level: Young Adult
Hardcover: 464 pages
Publisher: Simon & Schuster Books For Young Readers
Publication Date: September 27, 2011

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Book Review: Anna Dressed in Blood by Kendare Blake

SUMMARY: Cas Lowood has inherited an unusual vocation: He kills the dead.

So did his father before him, until he was gruesomely murdered by a ghost he sought to kill. Now, armed with his father's mysterious and deadly athame, Cas travels the country with his kitchen-witch mother and their spirit-sniffing cat. Together they follow legends and local lore, trying to keep up with the murderous dead—keeping pesky things like the future and friends at bay.

When they arrive in a new town in search of a ghost the locals call Anna Dressed in Blood, Cas doesn't expect anything outside of the ordinary: track, hunt, kill. What he finds instead is a girl entangled in curses and rage, a ghost like he's never faced before. She still wears the dress she wore on the day of her brutal murder in 1958: once white, now stained red and dripping with blood. Since her death, Anna has killed any and every person who has dared to step into the deserted Victorian she used to call home.

But she, for whatever reason, spares Cas's life.


The Short Version:
Brilliant in concept and pulling in numerous unique elements, Anna Dressed in Blood is absolutely fantastic. High on the creep factor but balanced out with emotion and humor, this one has a unique but enjoyable atmosphere. With a strong, likable, well developed protagonist and sticking firmly to the core of the ghost aspect while throwing innumerable twists and completely unexpected turns in, this book will grab readers from page one and not let go even when the last page is finished.

The Extended Verion:
Cas is intelligent, perceptive, very self sufficient and determined. He has an interesting mentality, bred from years of being a ghost hunter and the knowledge that his father died because of one. Despite the brutality of his father’s death, and the role it does play for him, Cas doesn’t dwell only on that nor is he on a suicide mission for vengeance. Good at what he does, but respectful of the ghosts he encounters, Cas is a new kind of hero. His subtly shifting thoughts and world views have a strong motivation behind them, and overall, his character is just fantastically well done and completely believable.

Anna is a hard character to talk about without giving away any major spoilers, but she is just as phenomenally built as Cas, and has quite the tale and twists of her own. Coming in pretty early and holding a near constant presence, the reader will get to know this ghost as well as they do Cas. Her reasons for sparing him, and the full nature of her is something readers will have to find out, but it is a story worth reading and Blake’s own effort put into is clear and highly appreciated.

With a relatively small but still lively, well rounded supporting cast, Cas suddenly finds himself not so alone for the first time. The way this changes him is clear, and the impact he has on them is also easy to see. And while there is a romantic element to this one, it’s done in a soft way that never steals the focus of the book, nor does it suddenly and drastically alter everything.

The pacing is swift and well maintained, with a fantastic build to some explosive scenes, before a slight lull and an all new build up. Never hurried nor dragging on for too long, however, Blake’s timing is perfect across multiple elements. The worldbuilding is completely seamless, happening easily for the reader without even letting them realize it’s occurring. From the history to the now, the reader smoothly finds out what Cas does. Building mystery and completely unpredictable turns keep the reader gripped and engaged. This is one I read in one sitting, unable to put it down for anything.

Writing wise, this one is just fabulous. Blake’s natural talent comes through boldly, with some incredibly vivid descriptions that build every scene and action, without being too lengthy or bulky. The voice screams Cas, and builds his mentality and character, while still also pulling back in a way that lets the reader see the scene as a whole as well as right through Cas’s eyes. With plenty of humorous lines slipped in at perfectly timed moments, Blake blends comedy with the darker nature of the story. Her descriptions are unique and fresh, while still being easy to understand and relate to, and never once was I pulled out of the story by the writing. Instead, it pulled me in, slipping me into its arms and cradling me while I was right alongside Cas every step of the way.

There are plenty of unique elements throughout this book, holding ties to other, more known things but which Blake has twisted to make her own. Beautifully constructed and brilliantly executed, from start to finish, this book is a homerun across the board. Emotional and intense at times, creepy and unsuspecting at others, Anna Dressed in Blood is a brilliant debut that is a must read, and certainly a reread.

Source: ARC received from author in exchange for an honest review
Reading level: Young Adult
Hardcover: 320 pages
Publisher: Tor Teen
Publication Date: August 30, 2011

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Waiting on Wednesday

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

This week's pick is The Girls of No Return by Erin Saldan, coming February 28, 2012 from Arthur A. Levine Books.

Summary: CUT meets HATCHET in this lacerating debut about girls, knives, and redemption.

The Frank Church River of No Return Wilderness Area stretches across two million acres in northern Idaho. In its heart sits the Alice Marshall School, where fifty teenage girls come to escape their histories and themselves.

Lida Wallace has tried to negate herself in every way possible. At Alice Marshall, she meets Elsa Boone, a fierce native Idahoan; Jules, who seems too healthy to belong at the school; and Gia Longchamps, whose glamour entrances the entire camp. As the girls prepare for a wilderness trek, Lida is both thrilled and terrified to be chosen as Gia's friend. But everyone has their secrets--their "Things" they try to protect; and when those come out, the knives do as well.

THE GIRLS OF NO RETURN is a bold and powerful debut.

My Thoughts: Girls, knives and redemption? Of course. And. YES PLEASE. I mean seriously. I didn't even need to read the rest of this summary, but then I did. And I want. I cannot even predict what this one will totally be about, but I want to know about the "Things" and I want to know exactly why the knives come out and, well, who dies. Or gets injured. Call me morbid but, you know you want to know too. Then there's the eerie nature of this cover, the sense of nothingness she is rowing into, and I love the font of the actual title. So. Yes. I want.

Character Tweets + Contest: Possess

Ever read a book and wanted to know what the characters would do if they had Twitter accounts? Yeah, me too. But lucky for you, I've asked Possess author Gretchen McNeil that very question and she most definitely delivered. So check it out, then stick around for your chance to win a copy of Possess which, trust me, you want.

KingHector: OMG! Had the choco cream at House of Pies. *dies* Sooooooo not on my diet. Sooooooo don’t care.

WhateverGrl: @KingHector And this is different from every other day…how?

KingHector: @WhateverGrl I haven’t been to House of Pies in like…two weeks.

WhateverGrl: @KingHector If by “two weeks” you mean “two days” then yes.

KingHector: @WhateverGrl Don’t be a h8r, Bridge. Don’t be a h8r.

WhateverGrl: @KingHector I refuse to acknowledge tweets without proper spelling and grammar…

KingHector: @WhateverGrl Then U’LL ignore this about me scoring Muse tickets for next week and I’ll take @BBallBrad instead…

WhateverGrl: @KingHector OMG MUSE! I <3 you! :D

KingHector: @WhateverGrl Oh, NOW you care.

KingHector: @WhateverGrl You prolly can’t go anyway. Aren’t you grounded? Again.

WhateverGrl: @KingHector Lies.

KingHector: @WhateverGrl Oh yeah? Didn’t I see your BOYFRIEND hanging around the library looking for you….again.

KingHector: @WhateverGrl Usually means your mom’s put a hit out on you. HAHAHAH

WhateverGrl: @KingHector *glares*

KingHector: @WhateverGrl *smiles innocently*

WhateverGrl: @KingHector HE IS NOT MY BOYFRIEND!!!

StanfordBound: @WhateverGrl @KingHector Wait, What are you talking about?

StanfordBound: @WhateverGrl @KingHector Bridge you have a boyfriend? There’s a boyfriend now? Since when? Since when do you have a boyfriend?

WhateverGrl: @StanfordBound No one, Peter. @KingHector is talking about NO ONE.

KingHector: @WhateverGrl @StanfordBound If by “no one” you mean “At-May, In-Quay” then yes, no one.


BBallBrad: @StanfordBound @KingHector Are we talking about @WhateverGrl’s boyfriend?

WhateverGrl: @StanfordBound @KingHector @BBallBrad *BOOM*

WhateverGrl: @StanfordBound @KingHector @BBallBrad That is the sound of my head exploding with rage.

WhateverGrl: @StanfordBound @KingHector @BBallBrad Happy?

KingHector: @BBallBrad @StanfordBound High 5, guys. @WhateverGrl

WhateverGrl: @StanfordBound @KingHector @BBallBrad I hate you.

StanfordBound: @WhateverGrl Wait, who’s your boyfriend?

Now that I'm done cracking up, thank you, Gretchen, and I can see every bit of your characters in this tweets.... And congrats on the release!

To celebrate the release of Possess (Today! Yay!), Gretchen was kind enough to offer up one signed copy of the book to one lucky winner.

To enter, just fill out THIS form

Contest is US only and ends September 1.

No entries will be accepted through comments but you know you still want to leave a comment for Gretchen.

Monday, August 22, 2011

Book Review: Witch Eyes by Scott Tracey

SUMMARY: Braden was born with witch eyes: the ability to see the world as it truly is: a blinding explosion of memories, darkness, and magic. The power enables Braden to see through spells and lies, but at the cost of horrible pain.

After a terrifying vision reveals imminent danger for the uncle who raised and instructed him, Braden retreats to Belle Dam, an old city divided by two feuding witch dynasties. As rival family heads Catherine Lansing and Jason Thorpe desperately try to use Braden's powers to unlock Belle Dam's secrets, Braden vows never to become their sacrificial pawn. But everything changes when Braden learns that Jason is his father--and Trey, the enigmatic guy he's falling for, is Catherine's son.

To stop an insidious dark magic from consuming the town, Braden must master his gift—and risk losing the one he loves.


The Short Version:
Intriguing, creative, and enjoyable, Witch Eyes throws a curve ball into the witch stories out there. Braden is an incredibly relatable character and easy to like, from his sarcastic wit to perceptive intelligence. With beautifully done descriptions and unique story elements, and though not always completely fluid, Witch Eyes is a solid debut with big promise for future work from Tracey.

The Extended Version:
Braden's voice, mentality, and character jump off the pages from the start, cocky in a gentle way and sarcastic and filled with witty quips. Though separated from people for the most part at the opening of the book, his relationship with his uncle builds him in a way that readers will relate to and enjoy. Thrust into a completely different world once he leaves, Braden still keeps his wits about him and isn't too easy to simply trust everyone person that comes along. Suffering from the curse of the witch eyes and the sometimes horrible side effects, his internal strength is tested and expanded in a way that shines for readers.

With a rather large cast of side characters, but each one unique, vivid and memorable, the chances for betrayal and misleading are high, and Tracey includes such nefarious aspects completely fluidly and easily. From perky and shockingly lively Riley to intriguing, tempting Trey, and with a range of other great characters in between, this one has a stellar cast that make the story shine and is one of the most notable aspects of the book. Slipping in and out of the story easily, each new character progresses things in their own way, and watching Braden interact with each one gave a very real, relatable note to the book.

The plot has an overall steady pace, and though some of the transitions between things weren't completely smooth, the main concept is fantastic. A building mystery that unfolds at a good rate, and numerous twists and turns will keep readers on their toes, with the pages turning quickly. The worldbuilding was interesting in this one, with Braden finding himself in a town that knows, at least in part, about the existence of witches. Completely different from what he is used to, this created a dissonance between the reader and Braden that added slightly to the confusion at some transitions, yet also built Braden's character with his ability to handle so many different situations.

The supernatural aspect of this book, which pulls in more than simply Braden being a witch, stays the focus of things even when the romance angle is brought in. Never taking an obsession over his feelings for Trey, nor hitting on any kind of gay angst or coming out elements, Braden's sexuality is as woven into his character as the witch eyes and everything else about him. Though it's clear he does like Trey, he doesn't drop everything for the boy even when Trey returns the feelings, adding a very refreshing and great element to the book. The ways the romance adds to the overall plot and plays its own role within will pull the reader in even more.

Tracey's writing is fantastic, having some stand out descriptions particularly where the use of magic is involved. Adding in emotion at all the right times, but still keeping things witty and sarcastic in general, Tracey has definitely shown his raw talent with huge promise for an amazing second installment. Strong in voice and easily weaving in Braden's stream of consciousness with everything else, Witch Eyes will pull readers in from the start.

Tying up the main events of this book while certainly leaving hints for the next installment, Witch Eyes is a promising debut. With a fantastic and well developed cast of characters, centering on a very easy to like protagonist, and bold and descriptive writing, there is plenty to love and enjoy about this book. Full of sarcasm and wit yet also not shying away from the rougher things, and pulling in some great new elements, this one is definitely a must read for fans of the supernatural.

Source: Received from author in exchange for an honest review
Reading level: Young Adult
Paperback: 336 pages
Publisher: Flux
Publication Date: September 8, 2011

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Book Review: Possess by Gretchen McNeil

SUMMARY: Fifteen-year-old Bridget Liu just wants to be left alone: by her mom, by the cute son of a local police sergeant, and by the eerie voices she can suddenly and inexplicably hear. Unfortunately for Bridget, it turns out the voices are demons – and Bridget has the rare ability to banish them back to whatever hell they came from.

Terrified to tell people about her new power, Bridget confides in a local priest who enlists her help in increasingly dangerous cases of demonic possession. But just as she is starting to come to terms with her new power, Bridget receives a startling message from one of the demons. Now Bridget must unlock the secret to the demons' plan before someone close to her winds up dead – or worse, the human vessel of a demon king.


The Short Version:
Creepy, twisted and engaging, Possess puts a brilliant new spin on the Nephilim and the good vs. evil battle. With a witty and sarcastic main character, a well developed supporting cast, and some fantastically described scenes that hold nothing back, this one will grab readers from page one and not let go. Strongly paced plot and a well put together mystery make this a book for fans across many genres.

The Extended Version:
Bridget is sassy and intelligent, vivid in nature with plenty of humorous one-liners and an outward toughness that harbors a softer inside. Unafraid to show fear, and doubting herself even at seemingly important times, yet never simply giving up, Bridget is a very well developed character that readers will want to root for. She goes through tremendous character growth, not just in relationship to her new abilities but with her family and friends as well, pulling in a very realistic element to the book overall.

Matt is classically charming and attractive, yet endearingly devoted and sweet, particularly to Bridget. Perceptive about some things but very boyishly oblivious in regards to others, he adds a lot to not only Bridget’s development but the plot as well without taking the spotlight. Determined and far from self-centered, Matt makes for a perfect love interest far beyond a melting smile.

The rest of the cast is developed enough for their purpose, with the reader seeing more insight into some characters than others. One factor, however, that really makes this book stand out is the way McNeil toys with reader’s opinions of characters throughout the book. Centered on two specific characters, both readers and Bridget have to figure out who to trust. With both options, from the reader’s side, being the predictable stereotype with valid reasons against both, McNeil has smoothly weaved a potent mystery playing heavily on trust.

The plot itself has a steady pace, kicking up the action not only when Bridget is performing a banishment but in regards to the building mystery as well. With plenty of gentler moments to let not only the readers but Bridget have a break, yet never letting these last too long, McNeil will keep readers engaged and intrigued throughout. Giving enough clues to allow the reader to make some predictions, yet not being mundane and predictable overall, this one throws some new elements and twists.

McNeil’s writing has a smooth flow, written in third person but keeping a focus on Bridget and never mind jumping. From Bridget’s natural wit to her sarcastic come backs, the voice is bold and noticeable. The descriptions are fantastic, bringing alive not only the places but the events that Bridget finds herself in. Never going too far to bore readers or pull them out of the storyline, the description is just enough to be basically perfect.

Not only is this one a supernatural, wading deep into the world of demons, but it’s a mystery as well and McNeil has blended these two elements perfectly. Holding very strong roots into realism and a contemporary setting that any reader can understand, imagine, and insert themselves into, Possess is a book that a range of fans will enjoy. With the new story line, intriguing and fleshed out characters, and creeptastic scenes, Possess is a stellar debut with plenty to offer.

Source: ARC received from author/publisher in exchange for an honest review
Reading level: Young Adult
Hardcover: 384 pages
Publisher: Balzer + Bray
Publication Date: August 23, 2011

Saturday, August 20, 2011

In My Mailbox

I got lazy last weekend and decided to not post my IMM, so this is actually two week's worth. Or we can say I was nice and didn't torment the dog last week, rather than being lazy? There's also some other books I bought, but Toby didn't want to sit for more than one picture today so those can be done next week...

For Review:
Wherever You Go by Heather Davis (Already read- LOVE)
If I Tell by Janet Gurtler
Envy by Gregg Olsen
Sweet Venom by Tara Lynn Childs
Circle of Fire by Michelle Zink
The Accidental Hero by Matt Myklusch
Liesl & Po by Lauren Oliver
Daughter of Smoke and Bone by Laini Taylor
Unnatural by Michael Griffo
Unwelcome by Michael Griffo
Aphrodite the Diva (Goddess Girls #6) by Joan Holub and Suzanne Williams
(Huge thanks to Heather Davis + Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, Janet Gurtler + Sourcebooks Fire, Sterling Publishing Company, HarperTeen, Little Brown, Matt Myklusch + Simon & Schuster, Harper Collins, Little Brown, Kensington Teen, and Suzanne Williams)

Wildefire by Karsten Knight (Had it signed to me at his launch party)

IMM is a weekly meme hosted by The Story Siren.

Friday, August 19, 2011

Character Interview: Colleen from Now Playing- Stoner & Spaz II

Today's character guest is a little different than what you might normally see around here, but I have to say, this girl is spicy in all the right ways. And with that, I bring you Colleen from Ron Koertge's Now Playing: Stoner & Spaz II, a girl with a drug problem, a love for a spastic boy, and one of the spiciest personalities around.

What was your first thought about Ben?

What a pushover. What a freaking loser. And a cripple, too. There he was in the lobby of that run-down theatre and I just knew he haunted the place. But I needed a couple of bucks for treats and I knew he went to the same school, so I asked him. Of course he had a couple of bucks. He'd have given twenty just to sit with me.

What's your favorite thing about Ben? What frustrates you the most?

I like a lot of things about Ben. I like it that he worships me. I take off my clothes and he's all, "Holy cow. You're gorgeous!" What other guy is going to say that to me -- and mean it? I like it that he's generous without throwing money around like some homie with a new CD. I like it that he's innocent. He doesn't knowanything about anything except movies, but he knows everything about those. Which I also like. I've been around enough low-rent thick-necked mentally coagulated jackasses to last me a lifetime. And what frustrates me? We're almost history already. He doesn't know it yet, and I'm not gonna tell him. But the fact is in a year or two or three at the most he's going to blow past me like a 2008 Dodge Challenger 392 Super Stock. He won't want to, but he can't help himself. Can you see me at Princeton with him? Get serious.

If you could say one thing to Ed, now, what would it be?

I never liked you. Never. Not even a little bit.

How old were you when your drug addiction first started?

13. Just a little weed. And ain't that the way it always starts.

What kind of dinosaur would you describe yourself as?

A pterosaur, also called INCORRECTLY a pterodactyl. Also sometimes called a dinosaur, which it is not. Ask your little brother if you don't believe me. Or better yet -- look it up! Anyway I'd like to be a pterosaur because they can fly and I like to get high. Ha ha. I also like to look down on things. Get the big picture. That's how I know my time with Ben is finite, okay? But, hey, what isn't finite. Pterosaurs are also meat-eaters and anytime I want a steak all I have to do is ask Ben. Sweet, huh?

Thank you, Colleen, for stopping in, and thanks Ron for sharing her.

Now Playing: Stoner & Spaz II is out now, so be sure to pick it and the first one, Stoner & Spaz, up!

But as part of Ron's tour for this book, you can also enter for your chance to win a copy of the book. Five lucky winners will receive Ron Koertge's NOW PLAYING: STONER & SPAZ II. To enter, send an e-mail to In the body of the e-mail, include your name, mailing address, and e-mail address (if you're under 13, submit a parent's name and e-mail address). One entry per person; prizes will only be shipped to US or Canadian addresses. Entries must be received by midnight (PDT) on 8/25/11. Winners will be selected in a random drawing on 8/26/11 and notified via email.

You can also find Ron at his website,

Thursday, August 18, 2011

This or That + Contest with Suzanne Williams and Joan Holub

It's This or That time with Suzanne Williams and Joan Holub, the authors of the Goddess Girls series! Suzanne and Joan are dropping in today in honor of the latest release in this series, Aphrodite the Diva, so check out their answers and see how they match up to your own. And don't forget to enter for your chance to win a copy of the latest book!

Penguins or puffins: 

Suzanne: Penguins. They’re just so darn cute. And I love all those films about them!

Joan: Gotta go with penguins--king penguins that tuck their single egg under their tummies while resting it on their feet.

Rock or Pop: 

Suzanne: Rock. Hey, I grew up in the 70’s.

Joan: Half and half. I’m a poprocker.

Silver or Gold:

Joan: Silver.

Suzanne: Gold. I’m a redhead. Warm colors suit me best.

Dust or Vacuum:

Suzanne: Vacuum (but not often). Who has time to dust?

Joan: Vaccum (especially when my husband is doing it).

Snakebite or Jellyfish Sting:

Suzanne: Ye gods! You can’t be serious! Neither. I’m allergic to pain.

Joan: Godsamighty! Well, I like jelly, and fish, and I like Sting, the musician.

Fireman or Policeman:

Suzanne: Fireman. But only because I got a ticket once. The policeman was very nice about it, though.

Joan: Fireman. They have great calendars. Policemen probably do too, but I haven’t seen one. Basically, anyone who is there for us in times of trouble is pretty much awesome in my book.

Pie or Cupcake:

Joan: Cupcake. Especially to soothe me after getting questions about snakebite or jellyfish stings.

Suzanne: Any kind of fruit pie. Not store-bought, though. My own homemade.

Raspberry or Strawberry:

Joan: Strawberry. Love them at breakfast with a bagel.

Suzanne: Raspberry. Fresh, or as homemade jam.

Lipstick or Lipgloss:

Suzanne: So there’s a difference? Lipstick, I guess.

Joan: Gloss.

Car or Truck:

Joan: Car, but even better is a nice, clean subway where I can get work done and let someone else do
the driving.

Suzanne: Car. But nothing fancy. It’s only transportation. And I don’t have to drive a lot because I work at home.

Thank you, Joan and Suzanne, for sharing your answers and dropping in today!

Now for your chance to win a copy of Aphrodite the Diva and a bookmark, just fill out THIS form!

Contest is US Only and ends August 26.

Book Trailer: Vanish by Sophie Jordan!

Yay! It's finally ready.... the trailer for Sophie Jordan's very soon to be released sequel to Firelight, Vanish! So without further ado, here ya go!

Does this make you any more excited for the book?! I've already read it, and love it, but now I want to read it again...

Vanish is hitting shelves in just 2 1/2 short weeks on September 6 so be sure you're geared up!

Also... Team Will! Um. Rawr.

Music Feature: The Auslander

Doing things differently around here today, and bringing you guys a music feature centered on Paul Dowswell's The Auslander! With a book set in Nazi Germany, you know this is going to be a fun post!

In The Auslander, Peter likes to listen to jazz - 'Swing' as it was known in the 30s and 40s. The Nazis hated it because its principal exponents were Americans, and most of them were black or Jewish. 'Identifying with the enemy' was the crime, in the Nazis eyes.

Listen to Duke Ellington’s band doing ‘It don’t mean a thing if it ain’t got that swing’

or ‘Is you is or is you ain’t my baby’ by Louis Jordan and his Tympany Five

and then compare that with what the Nazis wanted young people to listen to.

I know which ones I like best. (Straight outta the fridge, Daddio!)

The Nazis loved Wagner too - and you can hear some of their megalomania in epic pieces like the ‘Ride of the Valkyries’

When Hitler knew the war was lost he vowed to leave the world 'in flames'. I bet he had 'Ride of the Valkyries' coursing through his brain when he said that.

Wow, thank you, Paul, for sharing all that. Definitely makes me see some of these songs in a different way.

The Auslander is out now, so make sure you guys check it out!

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Author Interview + Contest: Elise Allen

Dropping in today is Populazzi author Elise Allen, running the gauntlet of my random questions! Then check out your chance to win a copy of the Elise's book right after the interview!

Describe Populazzi in three words.

Hysterical; Surprising; Resonant

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

Given that I think she’s perfect for the guy she ends up with in Populazzi, let me think… Ooh, I’d put her with Noel from E. Lockhart’s Ruby Oliver series. Noel doesn’t play the popularity game, so Cara wouldn’t get sucked into that kind of drama with him. He’s fiercely witty, so he and Cara could banter like wild; and he’s also deep enough to enjoy the kind of long, thoughtful conversations Cara would love.

What has been the best feedback you've gotten so far on the book?

This is actually tough, because the feedback has been so incredible that it’s hard to pinpoint one “best.” I’m so grateful to everyone who has posted reviews, and all the people who have gotten in touch with me to talk about the book. For so long it was something just between myself, my editor, and some early readers – it’s still earthshattering to realize it’s now out there for everyone!

That said, there are a few comments that stand out to me. I always love it when I hear that the book surprised someone – that from the summary they assumed it was just another girl-wants-to-be-popular story, then they read it and found so much more. I’m also thrilled when someone says it rings incredibly true to their high school experience – a comment I’ve heard from both people in high school now, and people whose high school days have long since passed. Yet the very best thing is when people get emotionally attached to the characters, and tell me about moments where they rejoiced with them, feared for them, or even wanted to crawl into the pages and scream at them (the characters don’t always make the best choices, I’m afraid…).

Cara can have any guy in the world as her boyfriend. Who does she pick?

Any guy in the world? In the beginning of the book, I don’t think any guy could live up to the imagined perfection in her head, and by the end of the book she’d stick with the guy she has, no matter what.

What god/goddess would be your nemesis?

Hestia, goddess of the hearth and home. She’d be horrified by my housekeeping and cooking skills, possibly enough to smite me on the spot.

You're dropped into a room full of Death Eaters! What do you do?

I immediately shout “Protego,” which shields me just long enough to slip on my invisibility cloak and dive away before the slew of Death Eater curses busts apart my shielding charm. Now cloaked and invisible, I race silently around the room, and since I’m of course beyond N.E.W.T. level, I can do hexes without saying the incantations out loud. I then become a silent force of doom, invisibly and wordlessly hexing each one of my enemies. They never know what hits them. I play it like Dumbledore and rope them up to go to Azkaban, though it’d be tough to refrain from a little Cruciatus Curse if Bellatrix Lestrange or Lucius Malfoy was among the bunch.

What kind of cookie would you describe yourself as?

Something nutty, for sure. Trader Joe’s has these cookies – I forget the name – they’re like Nutter Butters, but covered in chocolate, with extra bits of peanut on top. I like them because they’re not only nutty, but they also have a lot going on, so you never what exact flavor and texture combination you’ll get in any given bite.

Thank you, Elise, for answering my questions and congrats on the release!

Now for your chance to win a copy of Populazzi, just fill out THIS form!

Contest is US only and ends August 26.

No entries will be accepted through the comments, but they are more than appreciated.

About Populazzi

What would you do if you had the chance to erase your past and reinvent yourself as the person you’ve always wanted to be? Would you grab it? Would you stick with it, no matter what the consequences?
Cara Leonard always wished she could be one of those girls: confident, self-possessed, and never at a loss for the perfect thing to say. One of the Populazzi.
It always seemed impossible… but now could be her chance.

When Cara moves to a new school just before junior year, her best friend urges her to seize the opportunity and change her life… with the help of The Ladder. Its rungs are relationships, and if Cara transforms herself into the perfect girlfriend for guys higher and higher on the Popularity Tower, she can reach the ultimate goal: Supreme Populazzi, the most popular girl in school.

The Ladder seems like a lighthearted social experiment — a straight climb up — but it quickly becomes gnarled and twisted. And when everything goes wrong, only the most audacious act Cara can think of has a chance of setting things even a little bit right.

About Elise Allen

Elise Allen has among the most random television-writing resumes ever, with credits that run the gamut from Cosby to Dinosaur Train. She recently fulfilled one of her many life’s ambitions by writing for the Muppets. Another ambition, anytime-access to Disneyland’s Club 33, is for the moment still a pipe dream. Elise has a sick penchant for running marathons, and can’t seem to stop even though fifteen really should be enough already. She lives in L.A. with her husband, daughter, and insatiable food-hound of a dog, Riley. For more, visit or follow Elise on Twitter at

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Waiting on Wednesday

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

This week's pick is In Honor by Jessi Kirby, coming May 8, 2012 from Simon & Schuster.

Summary: Honor receives her brother's last letter from Iraq thee days after learning that he died, and opens it the day his fellow Marines lay the flag over his casket. Its contents are a complete shock: concert tickets to see Kyra Kelly, her favorite pop star and Finn's celebrity crush. In his letter, he jokingly charged Honor with the task of telling Kyra Kelly that he was in love with her.

Grief-stricken and determined to grant Finn's last request, she rushes to leave immediately. But she only gets as far as the driveway before running into Rusty, Finn's best friend since third grade and his polar opposite. She hasn't seen him in ages, thanks to a falling out between the two guys, but Rusty is much the same as Honor remembers him: arrogant, stubborn. . . and ruggedly good looking. Neither one is what the other would ever look for in a road trip partner, but the two of them set off together, on a voyage that makes sense only because it doesn't. Along the way, they find small and sometimes surprising ways to ease their shared loss and honor Finn--but when shocking truths are revealed at the end of the road, will either of them be able to cope with the consequences?

My Thoughts: First and foremost, I loved Jessi's debut Moonglass and have been eager for something else from her since I read it. But honestly? This one just sounds amazing. I love the set up of this one, and really want to know not only how Honor deals with her brother's death but also the quest he gave her, but I also cannot wait to see how things go with Rusty. I fully expect there to be a little romance in this one, and with the emotional and engaging way I already know Jessi can write, it is pretty much guaranteed to be fabulous. Not to mention, I just love road trip books. So combine all that, and this is one that I need, well, right now, rather than next May. As for the cover, love! It has that chick lit feel, but the red cowboy boots offset that in a good way. Not to mention, I love that the background seems like it's in the middle of nowhere. Now to figure out how to get this book in my hands...

Book Review: Shattered Souls by Mary Lindsey

SUMMARY: Lenzi hears voices. She also sees visions--gravestones, floods, a gorgeous guy with steel gray eyes. She knows she must be going crazy, just like her dad did. Her boyfriend, Zak, can't do anything to help, and the voices just keep getting louder, the visions more intense. But when Lenzi meets Alden, the boy from her dreams, everything makes sense.

Sort of.

He tells Lenzi that she's a reincarnated Speaker--someone who can talk to lost souls and help them move on--and that he has been her Protector for centuries. But instead of embracing her abilities, Lenzi struggles between her life as the girlfriend of a sexy musician and the life she is destined to lead with Alden. Yet time is running out; a malevolent spirit has been trying to destroy Lenzi for ages, and he will surely kill her if she doesn't make a decision soon.

Her choices are clear: Destiny or normalcy. Alden or Zak. Life or death.


The Short Version:
Creepy and engaging from the start, Shattered Souls twists ghosts with the heaven and hell concept in an original and well executed manner. With a strong protagonist, action and build up early on, and an explosive climax, this one definitely pulls the reader in from the start and doesn’t let go. Add in the gorgeous writing and blend of easy banter and intense situations, and this is a stellar debut and an author to take note of.

The Extended Version:
Lenzi is a very dimensional, well rounded character, whose personality comes through early on. She is brave and determined, and despite the fear she often feels, always finds the strength to face it head on. Terrified she’s becoming schizophrenic just like her father, Lenzi struggles early on but continues to push through. With an easy relationship and connection to her boyfriend, and a strained but still loving and trusting one to her mother, she has a small but firm support system. She is an easy character to like and root for, despite making mistakes.

Zak, her boyfriend, is charming and likable early on, and though he brings plenty of tension to the table as the story progresses, he very clearly cares for her deeply. There are some sweet moments between the pair, and some heartbreaking and intense ones as well. He pulls out both the best and the worst in Lenzi, and though he doesn’t have a constant presence within the story, he is built strongly enough early on to remain memorable throughout.

Alden is completely swoonworthy, charming, cocky and relaxed while also having his moments of insecurity and awkwardness. His relationship with Lenzi is built and developed in a very steady and understanding manner, having both an immediate intensity and a slow yearning. Even through Lenzi’s perspective, his full personality comes through strongly, and he is as well rounded as she is.

Rounding out the cast are Maddi and Race, who are colorful and lively, and Lenzi’s mother, who does have a strong presence without being overbearing. Lenzi’s home life in this one is interesting, having only been living in her current city for three months. Her only real friend is Zak, and she has no real roots to speak of. This adds a certain tone to the whole book that Lindsey navigates carefully, and also helps make the connections Lenzi does make shine brighter. Race is a crack up and one of my favorite characters of the book, a speak his mind and always laughing kind of guy. Maddi comes off as the girl who keeps the boys in control while having a good time with it, and the overall kinship between the two with Alden and Lenzi is completely enjoyable to read.

The plot has an overall smooth and steady pace. With a gripping and rather creepy start, and plenty of spine tingling scenes scattered throughout, this is one that can easily play as a movie in a reader’s head. The worldbuilding and explanation comes in large part in the first half of the book, but Lindsey inserts enough banter, humor and creepiness to keep things moving and the reader entertained. Once things really pick up, though, the story moves at a strong pace and the second half of this book is almost one extended, and well worth it, climax.

Lindsey’s mythology and explanation take common concepts and twist them into something all her own, and she does it fantastically. The basic idea is simple, but her execution is phenomenal. From the physical effects of what Lenzi is and what happens to the overall reasons it events exists, Lindsey explains everything by the end of the book. Little clues are smattered throughout, also, that an astute reader will pick up on, while other things come completely unexpectedly.

There is a constant reminder of the ghost angle of this one, whether it’s a physical show or a voice Lenzi hears. Lindsey has does a beautiful job bringing the realities of Lenzi’s world to light without overdoing it to the point of annoyance for a reader. The changes within Lenzi as things progress and she becomes more accustomed to what is happening are also clear and well defined, adding to the overall air and nature of the book. Even with this, however, the realistic setting is also just as strongly built and the playoff between the two and integration of the paranormal into the real world is well defined.

The writing is gorgeous, having a very bold fluidity that gives both a solid voice to Lenzi while also bringing out both the physical settings and the emotional ones. Lindsey has made intangible things like fear and pain realistic and something any reader will understand. Add in the romance and building sexual tension, and she has nailed this one with the emotional side of writing in a way that comes off as completely easy and effortless. While there is a strong romantic angle to this one, and even a love triangle, it in no way overshadows the actual paranormal aspect of this book, which makes it stand out even more. The blend between paranormal and romance is beautifully weaved, building everything together.

This is a book that will make the reader think, and that has taken some simple concepts and twisted them into something completely unique. The characters are fantastic, having a small cast but all of whom are bold, well developed, and memorable. While some parts could be considered slow, Lindsey has inserted wit and humor to combat it. With a great word economy, and stunning writing that is to the point without being elementary, and an extended and explosive climax, Shattered Souls is a brilliant and bold debut.

Source: ARC received from author in exchange for an honest review
Reading level: Young Adult
Hardcover: 336 pages
Publisher: Philomel
Publication Date: December 8, 2011

Monday, August 15, 2011

Author Interview: Na'ima B. Robert

Hopping in today is Boy vs. Girl author Na'ima B. Robert!

Describe Boy vs. Girl in three words.

Muslim teen struggles

Given the differences in how Farhana and Faraz are dealing with things, which was the hardest to write?

Actually, they both posed different challenges! I really like Faraz as a character, I have a great affinity with him, and his story is a lot more action-oriented, which I enjoy as a writer. But of course, he is a boy, and Farhana is a girl, so a lot of what she goes through is easy for me to understand.

If you could pair Farhana and Faraz with any character from any book, who would you pick for each?

Farhana needs a Muslim Mr Knightley and Faraz should settle down with Shazia!

What god/goddess would be your nemesis?

Not sure about gods but I guess Time would be a likely candidate.

What kind of dinosaur would you describe yourself as?

Wow, have never thought of myself as a dinosaur! At a push, I would be a pterodactyl: able to fly, light, fierce.

Thank you, Na'ima, for sharing those answers!

Boy vs. Girl is out now, and check out the trailer for it!

Character Tweets with Mari Mancusi

In a very twitter based community, I sometimes find myself wondering what characters in a book would do if they had twitter accounts. And some are admittedly more amusing to question than others, like the characters from Mari Mancusi's Blood Coven series. I mean, really, these vampires and such tweeting? Yeah. You're curious now too. Well luckily, Mari has been kind enough to force her characters to do some tweeting, and it's with that I bring you guys this post!

Jarethvamp: Heading out to meet @RaynieDay at Club Fang.

RaynieDay: Can't wait! Gonna get my dance on! RT @Jarethvamp: Heading to see @RaynieDay over at Club Fang.

SunnyGirl: @RaynieDay Man, you guys are dancing addicts. Don't you ever do anything else?

SunnyGirl: @RaynieDay Besides that goth music they play there is weird.

RaynieDay: @SunnyGirl You're just bitter because the last time you got turned into a vampire by mistake by @Magnus! #alsogothmusicistheawesome

Magnusvamp: @RaynieDay You can't blame me for that! You two are completely identical! And she was wearing a "Bite Me" tank top. What was I supposed to think?

Jarethvamp: @Magnusvamp You did me a favor. If you hadn't bitten Sunny, then Rayne would be your Blood Mate instead of mine. #thingsIdontliketothinkabout

RaynieDay: @Jarethvamp Awh, thanks babe. #iloveutoo

SunnyGirl: @JarethVamp @RaynieDay geez you two, get a room!

RaynieDay: @SunnyGirl You're just jealous because @Magnusvamp is too busy running the Blood Coven to take you out anymore.

JaydenVegas: @SunnyGirl I'll take you out. Want to go grab some food?

SunnyGirl: @JaydenVegas Awh, thanks. That's so nice of you!

JaydenVegas: @SunnyGirl I'll pick you up at eight.

JaydenVegas: Going out with @SunnyGirl to dinner. Maybe we'll go see the animals at the Comedy Pet Theater after. #funnightout

SunnyGirl: Grabbing dinner with @JaydenVegas. Hopefully Mexican. #yum!

Magnusvamp: @JaydenVegas. Hey!! #stayawayfrommygirlfriendyoutwerp

SunnyGirl: @Magnusvamp That's not very nice. Jayden and I are just friends!

Magnusvamp: @Sunnygirl Really? What about that time I caught you kissing him?

SunnyGirl: @Magnusvamp I told you--that was a one time mistake. #dropitalready! Don't you trust me?

Magnusvamp: @SunnyGirl I trust you! I don't trust him!

JaydenVegas: @Magnusvamp And I don't trust you! You never look out for Sunny's best interests!

RaynieDay: @Jarethvamp Oh geez. Here we go again...

RaynieDay: For more on the Jayden/Magnus/Sunny love triangle, check out Blood Ties by @marimancusi!

Jarethvamp: Right. @RaynieDay Now let's go dancing!

RaynieDay: @Jarethvamp I thought you'd never ask.

Yep, that was as awesome and hilarious as I'd expect, not only from these characters but this author. Make sure you guys check out Blood Ties and the rest of the Blood Coven books. They're fun and hilarious, and something not to be missed. Not to mention all the hot guys....

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Editorial Interview with Susan Shaw

Doing things a little differently today, and bringing you guys an editing focused interview with Tunnel Vision author Susan Shaw!

How did your revision process change from critique partner notes to editor notes?

I don’t have a critique partner. When I finish a manuscript, I ask a few close friends to read it and give me general feedback. If their suggestions on what to change make sense to me, I go back into the story and revise. When my editor makes suggestions, I revise. Not a whole lot of difference. The main thing either way is that I try to put my ego aside and listen.

Fess up. How long was your first editorial letter and how did you react?

The first time I saw an editorial letter, I think it was four pages single-spaced. Pretty scary. I think I could hardly read it the first time. But that letter and those from other editors have all been so positive that their comments and suggestions haven’t been so hard to take. And now I know first letters can be that long.

What is your favorite thing about working with your editor?

Alexandra is so positive and cheery, I can always picture a big smile on the other end of the telephone when I call her. She was very supportive of what I was trying to do and always took the time to listen to my concerns.

What format do you use for the revisions--paper, or all electronic?

I work at the computer, but I do on occasion print out what I write. But when I sent my revisions to Alexandra, I sent them electronically.

Thank you, Susan, for sharing that look into your editing process, and congrats on the release!

Susan Shaw, a life-long Pennsylvanian, graduated from Radnor High School and earned her B. S. in music education from Temple University. She and her husband live in Wayne, where they raised three children.

Susan Shaw is the author of Black-eyed Suzie (Boyds Mills Press, 2002), The Boy From The Basement (Dutton Books, 2004), Safe (Dutton Books, 2007), and One Of The Survivors (Simon and Schuster, 2009). Tunnel Vision will be released from Simon and Schuster this August.

Shaw’s books have been chosen for many awards and appear on many reading lists. They include The Texas Lone Star Reading List, The Texas Tayshas Reading List, ALA Quick Pick for Reluctant Young Readers, The New York Public Library Book for the Teen Age, and the Barnes and Noble Discover Great New Writers. Safe is a Carolyn W. Field Honor Book.

Contact Susan Shaw at for information on library or school presentations.

Waiting on Wednesday

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

This week's pick is Someone Else's Life by Katie Dale, coming April 2, 2012 from Simon & Schuster.

Summary: When seventeen-year-old Rosie’s mother, Trudie, dies from Huntington’s Disease, her pain is intensified by the knowledge that she has a fifty-per-cent chance of inheriting the crippling disease herself. Only when she tells her mum’s best friend, ‘Aunt Sarah’ that she is going to test for the disease does Sarah, a midwife, reveal that Trudie was not her biological mother after all... Devastated, Rosie decides to trace her real mother, hitching along on her ex-boyfriend’s GAP year to follow her to Los Angeles. But all does not go to plan, and as Rosie discovers yet more of her family's deeply-buried secrets and lies, she is left with an agonising decision of her own - one which will be the most heart-breaking and far-reaching of all...

My Thoughts: I am a total sucker for books centered around family secrets, and this one hits right with that so well. I love the Huntington's aspect, and also why Trudie ends up finding out the truth about her mom. Then there's the fact that she hitches with her ex, and I am so curious to see how that element plays out. But mostly, I want to know the secrets, and how Trudie handles them. This one seems so promising to be emotional and intense but maybe have some fun in it too. I love the tagline on this one, as well as the cover, and I absolutely can't wait.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Author Video Interview: Matt Myklusch

So... I've had the chance to interview the author of the Jack Blank books, Matt Myklusch, but instead of just him sending back answers he's answered each one as a video. Check it out, because I have to say, some of these answers are awesome!

Jack Blank makes the front page! What does it say?

If you were a pen, what kind would you be?

Which Death Eater, other than Voldemort, would you want to fight?

If you could choose any character from any book to put into Jack's story, who would you pick?

You and Jack are stranded on a desert island. How do you escape?

So there you guys have it. Matt's answers to my quirky questions. Now make sure you guys check out Jack Blank and the Secret War, out today!

Mini Reviews: Wanderlove and The Name of the Star

Yay! It's mini review time again! Two very different books up for gushing today, so let's get right to it.

Wanderlove by Kirsten Hubbard: I have been dying for this since I read Like Mandarin as an ARC last November. Everything about that book captivated me, which might have meant my standards and hopes for this one were even higher. But let me say, Kirsten did not in any way disappoint. I fell into this book just as instantly, completely entranced by the writing and the characters and the setting. I have no clue how she does it, but Kirsten always manages to infuse so much setting and description into her books without the reader realizing she's doing it, without pulling them out because it's just description... she puts emotion into even her setting and it amazes me. But the plot of this one? Loved. It's finding yourself, and coming of age, and navigating a third world country, and romance. It's a little of everything, enough of each, and woven together so magically. Bria was a phenomenal character, and I adored every aspect of her character development. Then there's Rowan, who is endearing in all the right ways, broken in the softest but most effective ones, and the right mix of cocky and sweet to be realistic and swoonworthy. I really and truly could go on and on about this book, but I'll just say, you have to read it for yourself.

The Name of the Star by Maureen Johnson: Okay, I admit it. I've always been fascinated by serial killers and totally have a shelf full of books about them. Not just the big names like Jack the Ripper, but the lesser known but still effective ones. So when I saw this book, a modern day Jack the Ripper with a ghost kind of twist... I freaked. And I have to say, Maureen did a seriously great job with this one. There are a lot of ways it probably could have failed, but from the actual execution of the murders to the main character to the fact that Rory could see this creepy guy that her roommate right by her couldn't... it was so well put together, so well weaved, and the fear and uncertainty that surrounded the original murders was perfectly captured this time around. This one also didn't come off as just another girl in a foreign boarding school, and I really did love this Southern girl from Louisiana set amidst the Brits. Mostly, though, I just loved the plot itself of this one, with some seriously genius elements and enough predictability to lull readers into thinking they have things figured out when in fact, they do not. And maybe the ending is a little bit of a cliffhanger, but it's more of the perfect place to stop, giving readers just enough of what the next book might hold while still letting this particular plot be pretty much all wrapped up. So I absolutely recommend this one, whether you like serial killers or not.

Monday, August 8, 2011

Meet the Characters + Contest: Ten Things We Did (And Probably Shouldn't Have)

I'm sure it comes as a huge surprise, but I have once again commandeered some characters into doing an interview. Except, this one is several characters, rather than just one, so with that, I bring you the characters from Sarah Mlynowski's Ten Things We Did (And Probably Shouldn't Have), and stick around after this awesome interview for your chance to win a copy of the book!

What one word would your mother use to describe you?

Sarah: *Calls mom so she can answer* Mom, what is one word you would use to describe me? Sweet? Savvy?

My mom: Sensitive.

Sarah: *pouts* And sweet? And savvy? Hello?

Besides Voldemort, what Death Eater would you want to fight?

Sarah: Rachel from Bras & Broomsticks should get to answer this one, since she’s a witch. Rachel? Which Death Eater would you want to fight?

Rachel: Are you insane? I’m not fighting a Death Eater. *hides under bed* *pokes head back out* Except maybe Draco. He’s kinda cute.

What was your first kiss like?

Sarah: It was at sleepaway camp. I was eleven. He was twelve. We were on the porch of bunk four. It lasted fourteen steamboats.

Boxers or briefs?

Hudson: Briefs.

Noah: Boxers

Dean: Commando

What kind of dinosaur would you describe yourself as?

Vi: whichever one kills her men after mating.

Thank you all for sharing those answers, and thanks Sarah and letting me borrow your characters.

Make sure you guys all check out Ten Things We Did, out now!

But you can also enter now to win a copy of the book. Just fill out THIS form.

Contest is US only and ends August 17. No entries will be accepted through the comments, but comments are very appreciated.