Monday, October 31, 2011

Character Interview: Hattie from Finding Somewhere

Stopping in today is Hattie, the central character of Joseph Monninger's Finding Somewhere! I really enjoyed this book, so make sure you guys check it out!

What was the hardest part about deciding to rescue Speed?

Working up to stealing him.

If you hadn't had Delores along with you for the trip, do you think you still would have tried to save Speed?

Absolutely. But I wouldn’t have gone on the road without her.

What's your favorite thing now about a cowboy?

They have to take off their hats to kiss you.

Who's your celebrity crush?

Scooby Do.

What kind of horse would you describe yourself as?

A good saddle horse. A quarter horse.

Saturday, October 29, 2011

In My Mailbox

I got a $40 B&N gift card in the mail this week, as a thank you. I haven't spent it yet, but have a blogger meet up at B&N next weekend, so expect it to be used then. Excitement. But now on to this week's stuff!

For Review:
Incarnate by Jodi Meadows
Havoc by Jeff Sampson
Betrayal by Lee Nichols
The Water Wars by Cameron Stracher
My Life Undecided by Jessica Brody
(Huge thanks to HarperCollins, Lee Nichols, Sourcebooks, and Zeitghost Media)

Faking Faith by Josie Bloss

IMM is a weekly meme hosted by The Story Siren.

Friday, October 28, 2011

Character Interview + Swag Contest: Remington from Audition

Hitting up the blog today is Remington from Stasia Kehoe's debut Audition!

From the author: Doing a character interview for Remington was so much fun. One interesting thing I can share is that, when I saw the cover for the book, the Remington character was much hotter than I'd imagined. As I wrote AUDITION, I saw Rem as less, well, perfect--with his hair not thinning but threatening-to-thin and his nose a tad more turned-up. Just a little fyi!

What was your first thought when you saw Sara?

I didn’t so much notice Sara as notice her noticing me. Sometimes I’d feel her eyes on my back even though she’d look away when I tried to catch her at it. After a while I started to get this sense of her as both a young naïf and a very old soul. She made me want to work on dances. It was a wild feeling.

What's it like to kiss Sara?

She’s a follower. I put my arms around her, draw her in. I do everything first. Don’t get me wrong, though, she gets into it eventually.

What's the hardest thing about being a guy in the ballet world?

Well, on stage, the hardest thing is probably spending so much time as furniture for the girls’ big moves. Especially if you’re in the corps—most of the time you’re pretty much just a kickstand and a poser. Off stage, it’s just another world with its own set of rules. Same as being on a football team or working in a bank. I mean, sure people make assumptions about your sexuality and whatever but why should I care about that? People make assumptions about accountants and jocks, too. My mom was involved in theater so, before starting ballet, I did musicals. I’ve never found the ballet world to be much more difficult than that. And, I certainly don’t have any problems meeting girls.

For the readers who are left with a not so great impression of you, what would you say to them?

I would tell them to look at my dances—my creations. It takes a lot of sacrifice, a lot of courage, to get ahead as a choreographer—especially if you’re not also a technical virtuoso, which I’m not. I’ve got dances I want to put on stage and anyone who knows me, including Sara, should be able to see that that’s my focus. I am always thinking about dances, always struggling for my art. Besides, I didn’t force Sara into anything, so I’m not sure why readers’ judgments should be against me.

Do you regret things with Sara?

It’s never good when things end messily. But, no, I don’t regret being with her. She is an amazing girl. I made a great dance with her. I might have liked to have made a few more dances before we split. Then again, she had no right to expect to perform that dance. I mean, I had to put my dance on the best ballerina I could get and, right now, that’s Lisette. So, I guess things had to go the way they did. I hope when she looks back on this, years from now, she’ll like the dance, though. I mean that thing is pretty spectacular.

Thank you, Remington, for stopping in!

To help celebrate the book's release, I've also got a swag packs up for grabs, which includes bookmarks and sticky pads, to two commenters (US Only)!

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Giveaway: Beautiful Chaos by Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl

Just released last week, Beautiful Chaos is the third book in the Beautiful Darkness series. You know, the one with Ethan and Lena... and then one of my all time favorite females in YA, Ridley? Yeah. That series. So to celebrate the next installment, I've got two copies up for grabs! Yes. Two.

About The Book:
Sometimes there isn't just one answer or one choice. Sometimes there's no going back. And this time there won't be a happy ending. Ethan and Lena’s mesmerizing romance continues in the highly anticipated new Beautiful Creatures novel, coming October 18th.

Want more, check out the Beautiful Creatures website!

To Enter, just fill out THIS form.

Contest is US Only, and ends November 4.

Book Review: Stick by Andrew Smith

SUMMARY: Fourteen-year-old Stark McClellan (nicknamed Stick because he’s tall and thin) is bullied for being “deformed” – he was born with only one ear. His older brother Bosten is always there to defend Stick. But the boys can’t defend one another from their abusive parents.

When Stick realizes Bosten is gay, he knows that to survive his father's anger, Bosten must leave home. Stick has to find his brother, or he will never feel whole again. In his search, he will encounter good people, bad people, and people who are simply indifferent to kids from the wrong side of the tracks. But he never loses hope of finding love – and his brother.


The Short Version:
Emotional, aching and gritty, Stick is compelling and powerful. With stellar characterization, both for the protagonist and those around him, and an intricately scripted plot, this novel will suck readers in and not let go. Unflinching in its honesty, and arresting in its development, Stick is an astounding and must read novel.

The Extended Version:
Stick is an astoundingly well done character, naturally awkward and unsure, but also beat down, both figuratively and literally, from all that’s been thrown at him. Lacking confidence, and easily embarrassed, Stick is an endearing and charming character. He has an interesting view on the world, one bred from years of abuse and rigid rules, and the way he sees himself is heartbreaking, positive he is ugly because of his missing ear. Perceptive and loyal to those who are close to him, though, Stick has a tremendous internal strength that grows and shines as the book progresses. Stunned but not bothered by his brother’s secrets, and able to take things as they come, even when he’s terrified, Stick’s characterization is genuine and realistic.

Bosten’s characterization rivals Stick, with the reader getting a fantastic look at him despite being stuck in Stick’s head. Though he certainly makes mistakes, and might even disappoint some readers, there is a gutting truth to his character and decisions, and the relationship between the two brothers is a beautiful element of the book. Funny and the kind of guy you’d want to be friends with, but hurt and broken as well, Bosten has his own part of the story that will resonate and stay with readers.

The remaining cast is fantastically scripted and developed, from the infuriating parents to Emily, Stick’s only friend and the girl who sees him more clearly than anyone else. Each with an impact of their own on Stick, and a beautiful compassionate component to many of them, Smith doesn’t slack in any way on his characters, no matter how big or small their role. Emily, especially, is an amazing character, unafraid of things and determined to help Stick in the best ways she can, no matter what that means.

This one has a stellar plot, with numerous of twists and turns. Picked apart, some of the events could be seen as unbelievable and over the top, but set into the overall storyline, they are believable, real, and engaging. Holding plenty of darker elements, and unafraid to push the limits even if it makes readers uncomfortable, Stick is both aching and hopeful. With a heavy focus on how Stick handles everything, but pulling back enough to give a bigger world view, the internal and external components of this book are perfectly woven.

One of the most notable elements of this book is how unafraid Smith is to “go there.” With a thirteen/fourteen year old male protagonist, Smith incorporates all the natural and hormonal elements that come with the age, but never in a way that is crass or overly brash. Toeing the line and dancing in the gray areas, Stick expands the boundaries of coming of age YA in the best possible way. Bringing in both humor and sorrow with it, and holding a poignant and endearing note throughout, this book will test a reader’s way of thinking without forcing anything.

The writing is fantastic, perfect in voice and authenticity. Though there is an emotional air, the biggest palpable feeling at any given moment is exactly what Stick is feeling. Be it embarrassment at the way his body reacts to the most mundane of things, like a look from his friend’s mom, simple enjoyment at spending a day at the beach, or pure and unadulterated fear and confusion, every single motion is perfectly woven into the words without ever pulling the reader out of the story. With an easy writing style that fits with Stick, and a noticeable change in it as Stick’s character grows and develops, Smith’s talent for writing is clear and concise.

Gritty and affecting, Stick is both dark and hopeful in all the right ways. With stunning characterization and a well scripted plot, this one will lure readers in and not relent. Refusing to keep things wrapped in pretty boxes, and having flawed but very likable characters, Stick is a must read.

Source: ARC from ALA 
Reading level: Young Adult 
Hardcover: 304 pages 
Publisher: Feiwel & Friends (October 11, 2011)

Waiting on Wednesday

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

This week's pick is All These Lives by Sarah Wylie, coming June 5, 2012 from Farrar, Straus and Giroux.

Summary: Sixteen-year-old Dani is convinced she has nine lives. As a child she twice walked away from situations where she should have died. But Dani’s twin, Jena, isn’t so lucky. She has cancer and might not even be able to keep her one life. Dani’s father is in denial. Her mother is trying to hold it together and prove everything’s normal. And Jena is wasting away.

To cope, Dani sets out to rid herself of all her extra lives. Maybe they’ll be released into the universe and someone who wants to live more than she does will get one. Someone like Jena. But just when Dani finds herself at the breaking point, she’s faced with a startling realization. Maybe she doesn’t have nine lives after all. Maybe she really only ever had one.

My Thoughts: I don't even know what to really say about this concept and premise, besides wow. Love the nine lives elimination thing, then being faced with what is maybe quite obvious- there is really only one. This one sounds absolutely intense and emotional and amazing, and I so cannot wait. I want to see the relationship between Dani and Jena, see the family dynamic, and see how Dani handles everything that is obviously being thrown at her. And I love this cover, it's so simple and gorgeous, and totally appealing, and I think it will end up being even more amazing after reading the book. Um. I want. Now.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Character Interview + Contest: Sean from Amplified

Stopping in this afternoon is Sean, the seriously hot love interest from Tara Kelly's (awesome) novel Amplified. So check it out, meet Sean, learn about his underwear and some kissing, and then enter for your chance to win a copy of the book!

You make the front page! What does the headline say?

I hope this doesn’t happen to me. But hypothetically… “Shark Biologist discovers new species or ‘insert something awesome’.

If you could have been less of a jerk to Jasmine the first time you met her, would you redo it?

Yes, but I’d still call her a princess.

What made you start playing bass, instead of another instrument?

I’ve always had this innate sense of rhythm, but the drums never did anything for me. There’s just something about the bass that calls to me. It’s subtler than the guitar, but there’s so much you can do with it to make a song better. Stuff people don’t even notice unless they really listen.

So... Amy? Tell us a little about that.

Do I have to? Because it’ll sound a lot like a bad country song…

What's it like to kiss Jasmine?

Um…intense. But Jasmine is intense.

Boxers or briefs?


What kind of dinosaur would you describe yourself as?

Pterodactyl. Because they can fly.

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

Amplified is out today, and is seriously awesome, so make sure you guys check it out!

You can also enter to win a copy of the book. Just fill out THIS form!

Contest is US Only and ends November 1.

Prized Blog Tour: Will Character Interview

Today's post features a new character in the Birthmarked series by Caragh M. O'Brien, a guy you don't meet until book 2, Prized, but who kind of stole my heart a little. So meet Will, and then check out how to collect the letters and enter a code for an awesome giveaway!

Thanks, Kari, for your interest in talking to Will. He’s an elusive character, hard to track down when he’s off-screen from the novel, so to speak, but I found him one evening working on the addition to his barn, and he came down from the ladder to talk to you. Crickets are starting up in the pasture behind you, and the air is soft with slanting light. He’s having a little trouble suspending reality to accept that you’ve appeared in Sylum, but here goes.

Kari: Describe yourself in four words.

Will: I’m the morteur, Mlass.

Kari: When you first saw Gaia, what was your reaction?

Will (turns his hammer slowly in his hands before speaking): Mlass Gaia surprised me. My brother had told me she’d arrived in the village, but it never occurred to me that she might come to my barn. She was different. Interesting. Mind your step, there.

Kari: Ah! Thank you. What's the hardest part about knowing there are not nearly enough women to go around for the men?

Will: You get used to it. It takes a while, but you do. What’s hard are the times when you start hoping a mlass will take an interest in you. You know, if she starts coming around, or if she laughs a certain way with you. Part of you can’t help imagining. That’s what’s hardest. I don’t know what it’s like for the other men, but I try to do the best I can with my work. I focus on that. It’s better that way.

Kari: If you had to choose between Gaia and your brother, who would it be?

Will: I have no claim on Mlass Gaia. I have no right to “choose” her in any way. If you’ll forgive me, I need to return to my work.

Kari: What kind of cake would you describe yourself as?

Will (starting up the ladder, laughing): Cake, huh? That’s an odd one. I’d be more of a pie than a cake, anyway. Pumpkin pie, straight up. Watch your step on your way out, Mlass.

Prized Code #2: S

Kari, thanks again for having me by! I had no idea a blog tour was going to be such a challenge, but it’s fun. Tomorrow I’m heading over to The Bookmonsters. I hope I’ll see you at the Goodreads chat at the end of the tour. Take care! Caragh

For full information about not only all the blog tour stops, but the Goodreads chat and collecting the codes, check out the MacTeen Books Post Here!

Monday, October 24, 2011

Character Book Picks: Richard from Second Hand Heart

We're mixing things up again around here, and instead of just firing off some questions for a character, I've asked Catherine Ryan Hyde, author of Second Hand Heart, to tell me what books one of her characters would love. So with that, I bring you guys a little look into the reading choices of Richard!

1) Nine Stories, by J.D. Salinger. Yes, he read Salinger when he was much younger. Like most of us. But some of those stories (particularly the one about Bananafish) still resonate in that place Richard is only marginally aware of having. Maybe he wants to be more aware of that place in himself. Maybe that’s why.

2) Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance, by Robert M. Persig, because it makes him feel calm, and as though the world is okay. As though everything is going to be okay. Even him.

3) The Boy in the Striped Pajamas by John Boyne. Though it’s difficult to articulate why. But it’s such solid fiction, emotional without a trace of sentiment. And suspenseful. He leans a bit toward the suspense/page-turner type of novel.

4) Primary Colors by Anonymous (who turned out to be Newsweek’s Joe Klein) This is Richard’s kind of humor. He voted for Clinton, of course. He’s not at all right-wing. But that wouldn’t stop him having a laugh at the foibles of that administration.

5) Stranger in a Strange Land by Robert A. Heinlein. Which he read in college. And which he barely remembers in much detail now. But he remembers that it taught him to question his own thoughts and perceptions. So he is of the opinion that everybody should read it (not to tell others what to do—he thinks this, he doesn’t go around saying it).

6) Okay, this is hard. It’s hard for me to type this. But…Moby Dick. Okay. I tried twice to read Moby Dick, and failed both times. (And I’m not trying again, either!) I thought it was the most boring book ever. But Richard is a more patient reader than I am. And he enjoyed the adventure of this one.

7) Electric God, by Catherine Ryan Hyde. Well, like I said with Vida’s book picks, these are my characters. So it’s not like they wouldn’t know I exist when choosing their books. Electric God because, like Hayden, Richard has occasionally looked skyward and wondered if somebody up there has it out for him. Then again, who hasn’t?

8) The Lord of the Flies, by William Golding. Because he was a boy once. Still feels like one sometimes. And he has noticed that about them. And it’s comforting to have someone else notice it, too.

9) Catch-22 by Joseph Heller because it’s subversive and smart and appeals to his sense of irony.

10) The English Patient by Michael Ondaatje. Which, frankly, I could not get through. But as I say, he is a far more patient reader than I am. In fact, I think he likes a good challenge in the patience department. And this one was soothing to him in a way neither one of us can quite pin down.

Thank you, Catherine, for sharing Richard's choices!

Second Hand Heart is out now, so pick it up and get to know Richard better!

Saturday, October 22, 2011

In My Mailbox

I didn't do one of these last week, mostly because I was lazy, so this is two week's worth of stuff.

 For Review:
Balthazar by Claudia Gray (Already read: SO Good!)
Glimmer by Phoebe Kitanidis
Beautiful Chaos by Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl
The Ivy by Lauren Kunz and Rina Onur
My Own Worst Frenemy by Kimberly Reid
Rival by Sara Bennett-Wealer (Read awhile ago- awesome)
Vampire Crush by A.M. Robinson
(Huge thanks to Harper Collins, Phoebe Kitanidis, Big Honcho Media, and Kensington Teen)

The Death Cure by James Dashner
Anna Dressed in Blood by Kendare Blake (I LOVE This book!)
Eve by Anna Carey (Such a brilliant novel)
Warm Bodies by Isaac Marion

The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer by Michelle Hodkin (Had a friend get me a signed copy in San Fran)
Beautiful Darkness by Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl (Finally bought one for my shelf, ha)
The Lost Hero by Rick Riordan
The Son of Neptune by Rick Riordan

IMM is a weekly meme hosted by The Story Siren.

Friday, October 21, 2011

Book Review: Shatter Me by Tahereh Mafi

SUMMARY: Juliette hasn't touched anyone in exactly 264 days. The last time she did, it was an accident, but The Reestablishment locked her up for murder. No one knows why Juliette's touch is fatal. As long as she doesn't hurt anyone else, no one really cares. The world is too busy crumbling to pieces to pay attention to a 17-year-old girl. Diseases are destroying the population, food is hard to find, birds don't fly anymore, and the clouds are the wrong color.

The Reestablishment said their way was the only way to fix things, so they threw Juliette in a cell. Now so many people are dead that the survivors are whispering war- and The Reestablishment has changed its mind. Maybe Juliette is more than a tortured soul stuffed into a poisonous body. Maybe she's exactly what they need right now.

Juliette has to make a choice: Be a weapon. Or be a warrior.

In this electrifying debut, Tahereh Mafi presents a world as riveting as The Hunger Games and a superhero story as thrilling as The X-Men. Full of pulse-pounding romance, intoxicating villainy, and high-stakes choices, Shatter Me is a fresh and original dystopian novel—with a paranormal twist—that will leave readers anxiously awaiting its sequel.


The Short Version:
Enticing and chaotic, Shatter Me is the perfect blend of dystopian with realistic elements and bold, engaging characters. Centered on a truly interesting and sympathetic character, with some of the best overall development and personal progression, but building the side characters just as strongly, Mafi’s talent with not only the story but the characters as well shines. With an absolutely distinct and unique narrative style, a well crafted plot, and a multitude of subtle intricacies that make this book memorable and mindblowing long after the fact, this one breaks all the rules in all the right ways.

The Extended Version:
Juliette is unique and distinct in the most endearing of ways, starting out as a clear product of someone who has been cast out by not only society but her own family, and has rarely felt the touch of another. Locked away in isolation at the opening of the book, her mental state, internal narrative, and weak personality are easy to understand and heartbreaking. As things start to progress, however, Juliette shifts and changes, growing stronger not only physically but mentally as well in a way that cannot be pinpointed to any one of event but has an astounding overall effect. The shell she's become, the hopelessness that resides in her, and the weakness that is starting to drag her under are easy to see from the start, yet the determination in her also resonates. Despite being a broken mess, she has this incredibly ferocity to her, refusing to let her past and isolation define her, and so much of where she ends up at by the end of the book comes purely from herself. She is easily one of the most well done characters, from start to finish.

Adam is determined and perceptive, having a softness to him even in the roughest of situations that makes him easy to like. The way he responds to Juliette, and the growing emotion between them, go far to build both their characters and progress the plot without being reliant solely on that. Adam has this underlying intensity about him that isn't immediately obvious, this focus in his eye that both defines him and transcends him. He doesn't carry a hero complex, nor does he try to subdue Juliette simply because she's a girl, but rather lets her be on his level and doesn't let the stigma against her keep him from really getting to know her.

It's easy to understand why Juliette seems to fall for Adam so quickly, considering her past, and the almost visceral way she internally reacts to being touched. Not having to fear killing him, and trusting that he won't use her ability for his own purposes, Adam provides some very basic but much yearned for comforts for Juliette. Yet what sets this romance apart is not the fact that there is an inherent element to drive them together, but the way they both shift and change, adjusting to and falling for the other. Able to take the other into account, yet not throwing all caution to the wind, they find a system that works for them even in the face of everything else going on. Broken apart but perfectly pieced when together, Adam and Juliette are by far one of the most endearing couples around.

The basic concept behind this one is fantastic, and Mafi does a stunning job weaving the effects and nature of Juliette's power without giving immediate and obvious explanations behind it. While the overall plot with The Reestablishment and the bigger dystopian elements was not necessarily immediately unique compared to others of its genre, the driving force behind Juliette and the stunning characterization certainly help make up for it. A little slower in pace, but rich in character development, this one is much more mental and emotional than action packed. There are, however, plenty of small elements and twists added in that show not only the level of thought and intricacy that have gone into this book, but will make a reader grin with new appreciation at each one. With clues both subtle and blatant at the bigger things to come, this book closes out its main points while still leaving readers wanting more and ready for the next step.

The writing is absolutely unique, essentially breaking all the rules and doing it right. There is such vivid voice and life in Juliette, not only hinting at her own level of disconnect and insanity, but giving her depth and intrigue as well. This book is, in a lot of ways, rambly, but it's not so much a turn off as something that gives unflinching insight into Juliette's state of mine, and is certainly a style specific to this character and pulled off in large part because of who the character is and what she's been through.

With absolutely stellar characterization and an achingly beautiful writing style, Shatter Me is a stunning debut. Though slower overall in plot, and stronger with the internal and mental components, this one will still keep readers intrigued and engaged. Holding a huge amount of depth, most of which is subtle yet powerful, Shatter Me will taunt and lure readers from page one.

Source: ARC borrowed 
Reading level: Young Adult 
Hardcover: 352 pages 
Publisher: HarperCollins (November 15, 2011)

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Book Review: Wherever You Go by Heather Davis

SUMMARY: Seventeen-year-old Holly Mullen has felt lost and lonely ever since her boyfriend, Rob, died in a tragic accident. The fact that she has to spend most of her free time caring for her little sister and Alzheimer’s-stricken grandfather doesn’t help. But Holly has no idea that as she goes about her days, Rob’s ghost is watching over her. He isn’t happy when he sees his best friend, Jason, reach out to help Holly with her grandfather—but as a ghost, he can do nothing to stop it. Is his best friend really falling for his girlfriend?

As Holly wonders whether to open her heart to Jason, the past comes back to haunt her. Her grandfather claims to be communicating with the ghost of Rob. Could the messages he has for Holly be real? And if so, how can the loved ones Rob left behind help his tortured soul make it to the other side?

Told from the perspectives of Holly, Jason, and Rob,Wherever You Gois is a poignant story about making peace with the past, opening your heart to love, and finding the courage to move forward into the light.


The Short Version:
Captivating and affecting, Wherever You Go blends grief with new romance and coming of age in a poignant way. Shifting easily in perspective between the three characters, yet keeping the overall focus on Holly, this one will draw readers in and rally them behind her. Intense at times and sweet at others, Wherever You Go is a solid, well scripted and memorable read.

The Extended Version:
Holly is a very easy to like character, with a fierce and admirable loyalty to her family before all else. Now the primary caretaker for her grandfather with Alzheimer’s who’s moved in with them, and a mother who has to work long hours to help make ends meet, she is supposed to be the strong, infallible one. Still hurting over the death of her boyfriend, Rob, and now cast out of his social circle and living with survivor’s guilt, Holly’s story and struggle is aching, moving and endearing. Watching her not only learn to trust Jason, but fall for him as well, hits true and hard on raw emotions that come with not only her age but her circumstances, giving her character depth and intensity. Though seemingly closed off to the world, it’s clear early on that is the only way Holly can keep herself together and get through her day to day. Embarrassed by her family’s not only money situation but having her ill grandfather there, she is content to fly under the radar, even unwilling to immediately let Jason in. She goes through tremendous character strides and development, and will leave readers stunned and shocked more than once.

Rob’s character is presented in a unique way, not only with a second person voice for his chapters that make the reader feel as though they’re really the one going through everything, but because of the way both who he was in life and now in death are shown. Still in love with Holly, and having a hard time accepting that he can no longer help her, Davis does a remarkable job giving better rise to his turmoil and frustration. It’s easy to see why he and Holly made such a great couple, and the connection between them easily transcended his death. Though his family had money, and he seemed to have it all, he was far from stuck up and was charmingly sweet to Holly.

Jason is a bit of a mess in his own right, hurting over Rob’s death but also feeling increasing guilt over the group’s shunning of Holly. With stronger feelings for her than he knows what to do, and making plenty of mistakes along the way, Jason’s own story is woven throughout in a great way, while the overall book still stays central to Holly. Moving things along with Holly more slowly than he might otherwise do, and with a sweet note that rivals what was between Rob and Holly, the romantic element of this book is as strong and beautiful as the grief and loss one. Jason goes through strong development as well, not only coming to terms with his own issues but getting better insight into Holly as well.

Though there is a lot that happens in the book, and it often seems as though the world will never stop dumping on Holly, the premise itself is basic and strongly present. Blending Holly’s home life with things at school, and adding both Rob and Jason into the mix, there is something always happening and going on. The pacing has a steadiness to it that will keep readers engaged without a constant twisting roller coaster feel, and Davis does a great job easing the reader into not only the characters but their situations as it is now. Adding in a growing mystery about what actually happened the night Rob died, and giving him at least some human connection through Holly’s grandfather, the relationships between everyone drive the book.

The writing has a great flow, and though Davis not only has different narrators but shifts their perspective between first person for Holly, second for Rob and third for Jason, the jumps easy to fall into. Choosing the perfect scenes to show from each character’s side, and holding a heavy and constant emotional air, Davis’ writing shines throughout the book.

Hitting hard on some relevant and heartrending elements, and unflinching in its honesty, Wherever You Go does a fabulous job of blending not only grief and pain with new love and beginnings. With a well developed and focused cast, and a wrecking and emotional air, this one will definitely gut and grip readers.

Source: Netgalley
Reading level: Young Adult
Hardcover: 320 pages
Publisher: Harcourt Children's Books
Publication Date: November 15, 2011

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Character Feature: Daniel from On the Fringe

I'm doing things a little differently this time around, and instead of sending in interview questions, this character is doing his own narrative and introduction. So with that, I bring you guys Daniel Holland from On the Fringe by Courtney King Walker!

You can say I’m an expert at recalling memories now, that I’m a lot like a computer but more intuitive. For instance, you ask me for a specific moment, and—bam!—you get it on demand. Pretty cool, huh? You want me to show you the day I first met Claire? Or better yet, when I first started liking her? Well, you’ll have to check out the book for that. But since you bothered to read this interview and all, here’s a little bonus (This memory is from a few years back, when Claire and I were too young to notice each other, but old enough not to not notice each other, either. You could say we were in a state of limbo back them, sort-of stuck on the fence and completely content to stay there until our acne toned down a little and my voice got much deeper):

Moonlight fell across the lake, the heavy summer heat reluctant to leave. We floated together side by side, my arms stretched outwards as my legs kicked through the soothing water. I could have stayed out there all night, the cool water and quiet air a welcome refuge. Claire wasn’t bad company, either. There was always something calming and peaceful about her—such a refreshing break from my sister.

Sailing by Claire, I reached for the canoe and untied it, then hauled myself overboard and stretched out in it like a bed. I tried not to laugh as she splashed around for a while, struggling to pull herself up inside, too. Finally she succeeded, and immediately settled in beside me, staring up at the star-speckled sky. I secretly watched her, wondering what she was thinking.

“I love this time of night,” she said, her wet eyelashes fluttering up and down.

I turned away from her and to the stars again. “Yeah, it’s pretty cool.”

Other than an occasional cricket or frog noise, we drifted in silence for almost an hour, letting the canoe carry us wherever it wanted to go. I think I was almost asleep when Matthew started calling from his front porch, telling Claire to come home.

She sat up abruptly while I jumped overboard and taxied us back to the dock. There, between the slippery rope and my fumbling fingers, it appeared I couldn’t manage a knot to save my life. Just when I was about to throw out a couple of choice words and give up, Claire was right behind me. Without saying a word, she finished off the perfect knot, and then smiled, like she was waiting for a compliment.

“Thanks, Claire,” I said, pushing the hair out of my eyes, feeling a little weird about being so polite. Then, for the first time probably ever, I looked right in her eyes; I guess they were brown. They caught mine for a second, and then she looked down at her feet.

“You’re welcome,” she said.

Before I realized what I was doing, my hand was already extended outward, aiming to take down a wet leaf still clinging to her arm. For some reason, I wanted to touch her—to make one final connection before the night vanished.

But I chickened out, of course. I was only fourteen, you know.

Just as my hand reached her arm, I lost all courage, and flicked her on the back of the head before darting away into the dark.

Just one of a thousand or more memories…

I’m glad I have them with me now to keep me company. They keep me alive, somehow.

So there you guys have it, a little look at both Daniel and Claire! On the Fringe is out now, so be sure to check it out!

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Contest: Prized ARC and Signed copy of Nightspell

Today, I've got an awesome contest for you guys, that came about in a kind of random way. I was talking on twitter recently about reading Prized by Caragh M. O'Brien, the next installment in the Birthmarked series (which, by the way, is seriously awesome). Who should reply, but Leah Cypess, author of Mistwood and Nightspell... and from this conversation came this contest. Yep. I'm giving my ARC of Prized, and she's giving a signed copy of Nightspell.

So with this guys, you get two great books, a hot prince, and you get to find out, finally, what Gaia is going to do after that  wowing ending of Birthmarked!

To enter, just fill out THIS form.

Contest is US/Canada only, and ends October 31.

There will be one winner for each book.

Monday, October 17, 2011

Author Tens List: Janet Gurtler

I admit it, when someone is or becomes an author, I tend to forget that they might have had other jobs before it, or even with it. I mean, what, writing hasn't always been their life? So when you realize the obvious... it's also pretty cool to find out what jobs they've had, and here to share today is Janet Gurtler, author of If I Tell and I'm Not Her.

Ten Jobs Janet Gurtler Has Had

Wendy’s- Fry girl, Salad Girl, Hostess, Burger Flipper Cashier. I did it all.

Copywriter at a Radio Station – Also did voice overs for commercials and filled in at reception at lunch

Copywriter at TV Station- Accidentally killed a bunny rabbit we were using for a commercial. Still feel bad about that.

Disc Jockey- At a groovy Nightclub and for parties. Spun actual records and could “mix” my music. Fun for a younger me.

Cocktail Waitress- While in college, worked at a sports bar and later a pub. I was a very bad waitress.

Sales Representative/ Account Manager- For Kraft Foods, A Liquor Company, A Cheese Company –spent 15 years working in the corporate world

Sales Merchandiser. For a Drug Company and a Toy Company (and more) Great perks

Mystery Shopper- Not as fun as it sounds.

Errand Runner/ Lifestyle Concierge – Exactly what it sounds like. Doing people’s chores for them. Part time of course. Great job for a writer! What I do now in addition to write!

Author- My favorite job of all. Especially the uniform.

Thank you, Janet, for sharing those jobs, and wow, what an array!

Now make sure you guys check out If I Tell, out now!

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Book Review: Ashes by Estevan Vega

SUMMARY: More than three months have passed since Arson and Emery were taken. Taken and then separated.

And experimented on.

Salvation Asylum is more like a prison than a psychiatric facility. Unknowingly, Arson has become a vital instrument in a campaign set to genetically alter mankind. Enraged, confused, trapped, and unable to fully manifest his abilities, he wonders if he will ever see Emery again. His new existence is one crawling with questions. Is Grandma alive? Where does the fire come from? Can he become more than a monster?

In Ashes, book two of the ARSON series, nightmare and reality collide as Arson must embrace what he is and the haunting realization that there may be others out there, others like him.


The Short Version:
Creepy, dark and shocking, Ashes is a fantastic and twisted follow up to an already stunning book. Strengthening the characters met in the first book, and introducing new and well defined characters, this one blends the character and plot aspects strongly. With continued elegant and flowing writing, though an admittedly abrupt ending, Ashes keeps the momentum going and doesn’t let go.

The Extended Version:
Arson is, in many ways, similar to the boy met in the first book, though the effects of everything reflect back on him clearly. Despite this, he still goes through tremendous continued character growth, being tested in new ways, some of which are almost unimaginable. Fiercely loyal but also easily resigned to things, Arson’s character continues to be an internal more than external one. With a growing discontent, however, the boy who makes calculated decisions more often than not is quickly turning into someone more rash, something that is both heartbreaking and invigorating.

Separated at the start of the book, the reader gets a much better look at Emery this time around, seeing not only more of her personality, but her flaws as well. With a huge internal strength, she is able to take what’s thrown at her with as much grace as she can manage, and faces everything head one. Though she definitely makes a few mistakes along the way, Emery goes through just as much if not more change and growth as Arson.

Bringing back some of the characters from the first book, and introducing some new and intriguing new ones, Vega’s characters continue to be engaging and leave a mark on readers. Well developed and serving clear purposes throughout, the characters of this book are as memorable as the story itself. Characters both honest and sinister make appearances throughout this book, leaving the reader to often wonder what’s really going on, and who to trust.

Pulling in some strong experimental and science aspects, yet keeping the story clearly something entirely his own, Vega’s plot is completely twisted and bordering on the demented in all the best ways. Shifting in focus between Arson and Emery, but pulling in other characters as needed, there is a constant undertone of foreboding and discontent throughout. Though the ending feels admittedly abrupt, leaving the reader with plenty of questions that don’t always feel warranted, this one is still well paced and well scripted. With some unexpected and shocking twists, and a brilliantly built bigger picture, Ashes goes much darker and more psychological, keeping readers stunned and engaged the whole way.

Vega’s writing is, if possible, even more delectable, with some gorgeous and apt descriptions and a constant emotional air built into every page. Hitting deep into the minds of even the side characters, and luring the reader into the book without going overboard, the prose is again one of the most enjoyable and notable aspects of the book.

Zooming out and looking at the bigger picture this time around rather than focusing as intently on Arson and Emery, Vega builds not only his characters but his world in new and stunning ways. Sinister and disturbing, there are plenty of gutting and unexpected moments throughout this one. Definitely hitting on some dark areas, and unflinching in the face of them, Ashes is truly a nightmare brought to life.

Source: Ebook received from author in exchange for an honest review

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

This or That + Contest with Jessica Martinez

While I love interviewing authors, I also really love firing off a quick this or that list to them, mostly because I get to ask even more random things than I do in interviews. Virtuosity author Jessica Martinez was kind (crazy) enough to let me send her one, and in return she's bringing you guys the chance to win a copy of her book!

Opera or Classical: Classical (I’m a violinist, so even the most beautiful opera reminds me of sitting in an orchestra pit, playing the same thing night after night, and being so bored I want to stab myself in the head with my bow.)

Pringles or Doritos: Pringles

Juice or Milk: Milk (Dairy is my best friend. Sorry to any of my human friends who thought they held that title.)

Cowboy or Farm Boy: Farm Boy (I can’t explain why. It just is.)

Pool or Ocean: Pool

Dine In or Eat Out: Dine In, Eat Out (That’s right. I chose both.)

Milkshake or Smoothie: Milkshake (There you are again, my sweet, creamy BFF!)

Boxers or Briefs: Boxers

Strawberry or Peach: Strawberry

Dawn or Dusk: Dawn

Ice Cream or Pie: Ice Cream (This list is giving me some serious Ben & Jerry’s cravings. I’m eating yogurt right now, but it’s just not cutting it anymore.)

Coffee or Tea: ... (Neither, but Starbucks makes a mean salted caramel hot chocolate. Yeah, that.)

Housework or Yardwork: Yardwork

Action or Drama: Drama

Halloween or Valentines: Valentines (No contest. I hate the creepy stuff, but I love me some lovin’.)

Thank you, Jessica, for sharing those, and I agree, there's just something about a farm boy...

Ahem. Now for your chance to win a copy of Jessica's back, which admittedly lacks in the farm boys but has plenty of other great things about it, then just fill out THIS form!

Contest is US Only and ends October 19.

No entries will be accepted through comments, but you should still leave one.

Waiting on Wednesday: 2012s You Want

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

This week, I'm doing things a little differently. Instead of spotlighting a book I can't wait for, I'm going to be featuring some 2012s that you guys need to be sure YOU are waiting for!


Tempest by Julie Cross:  More kinds of brilliant than I can even explain, with a fantastically well done main character who you'll fall hard for. Coming January 17 from St. Martin's Griffin.

Under the Never Sky by Veronica Rossi: I loved this one like my dog loves Beggin' Strips. And has without a doubt one of the most make you melt lines EVER. And Perry is utterly delectable and lickable. And he's also mine.

Yeah, not the full cover. But I stole this from Suzanne's blog anyhow because it's pretty
A Want so Wicked by Suzanne Young: Awesome and amazing and mind blowing. This one lives up to it's title in so, so many perfect ways. I adored A Need so Beautiful, but this one has my heart.

Live Through This by Mindi Scott: I've read any early draft of this one, and fell in love. And since it can really only get even better from there... trust me, you want this one. Remember all that awesome emotion and stellar characterization in Freefall? Yeah. It's back.

Fracture by Megan Miranda: A perfect Kari book in so many ways. I intended to read only a chapter, I didn't put it down once. Also? This cover is so amazingly fitting. I love it.

Wanderlove by Kirsten Hubbard: Some of the most gorgeous writing ever. An amazing setting. Sweet romance. And beautiful artwork. Also, homebody Kari wants to backpack through Central America now.

A Touch Morbid by Leah Clifford: I stayed up till 3 am to read this one straight through, and then I couldn't sleep because I couldn't get this book out of my mind. Talk about amazing story and characters.

Wings of the Wicked by Courtney Allison Moulton: A stellar follow up, kicking everything up several levels. More Will (though never enough, for some reason...), not to mention quite a bit of Cadan. And an ending that is sure to leave you stunned.

So there you have it. Some of the 2012s that already have me amped up and crazy excited... and several of these are already on pre-order. Are these on your list? If not, click the links to add them to your Goodreads shelves, because trust me, you do not want to miss a single one.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Meet the Characters: Bull and Victor from Cracked by KM Walton

Today, I bring you guys the chance to meet the two main characters from KM Walton's 2012 debut Cracked: Bull and Victor. So check it out, get a first look at these guys, then make sure you add the book to your list!

What three words would your mother use to describe you? 

Bull: I’m thinking I have to be all clean and stuff, so let’s just say the three words would make old ladies pass out. For real. 

Victor:  Lazy, ungrateful, weak. My mother wouldn’t fit into the sweet and loving category.

What god/goddess would be your nemesis? 

Bull: God/goddess? Nemesis? Seriously? All I know is the world can suck it. Including gods and goddesses. 

Victor: Plutus – the god of wealth. Money is the only thing my parents care about.

How old were you when you had your first kiss? 

Bull: I’m not telling you.

Victor: That’s a really private question and something I want to hold close to me for a while.

Boxers or briefs?

Bull: Briefs. I need my junk protected.

Victor: Boxers, but I’m embarrassed talking about this.

What kind of dinosaur would you describe yourself as? 

Bull: The T-Rex, because it’s an ass-kicker and it eats the weak ones. I can relate.

Victor: What’s the easiest one to eat? That would be me. 

Monday, October 10, 2011

Author Interview + Contest: Paula Morris

Hopping in today is Paula Morris, author of Dark Souls, not only answering some of my random questions but bringing you guys a chance to win a copy of her book!

Miranda makes the front page! What does the headline say?

GHOST-WHISPERER DISCOVERS CITY'S "DARK" SECRETS. (I'd give you a subheading as well, but that would give too much of the story away.)

What was the best part about this book's setting of York, England?

York is a beautiful and historic city: I went to university there, and have lots of happy memories. So having the excuse to go back there, when I was researching DARK SOULS, was brilliant. I went on a ghost tour one night, and a walking tour of the city one day - something I (stupidly) never did when I was a student. I learned so much more about the city's past. Also, when you're setting a story in a particular place, you look at things much more closely, and notice things you've never paid much attention to before. You end up wandering down narrow lanes (which are known as snickelways in York), peering around corners, looking in windows, and imagining possibilities.

You and Miranda are dropped into a room full of Death Eaters! What do you guys do?

Hang on to each other and think happy thoughts. Singing might help, perhaps. A sing-song is always cheering (and distracting).

What god/goddess would be your nemesis?

Actually, I'm quite interested in Nemesis herself - the nymph-goddess who came to embody the idea of vengeance. I was just reading about her in Robert Graves' book THE GREEK MYTHS, which is a fantastic source of information. Though I'm more interested in muses than goddesses, I have to say - I have a bust of Thalia, the muse of comedy, sitting on the kitchen counter.

What kind of cookie would you describe yourself as?

Hmmm. Something a bit spicy, like a ginger snap.

Thank you, Paula, and congrats on the release!

Now for your chance to win a copy of Dark Souls, just fill out THIS form.

Contest is US only and ends October 15.

Saturday, October 8, 2011

In My Mailbox

This was another one of those unexpectedly good weeks that make me feel all kinds of warm and fuzzy so let's just get right to it!

For Review:
The Fine Art of Truth or Dare by Melissa Jensen
Cinder by Marissa Meyer
Bunheads by Sophie Flack
After the Snow by S. D. Crockett
Various Positions by Martha  Schabas
On the Fringe by Courtney King Walker
Life is but a Dream by Brian James 
Lexapros and Cons by Aaron Karo
The Stalker Chronicles by Carley Moore
Dreamland by Alyson Noel
Silence by Becca Fitzpatrick 
Virtuosity by Jessica Martinez (Not pictured)
(Huge thanks to Melissa Jensen, Macmillan, Courtney King Walker, and Simon & Schuster)

Dark Inside by Jeyn Roberts

Won from Myra McEntire: 

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

Friday, October 7, 2011

Book Review: Eve by Anna Carey

SUMMARY: Where do you go when nowhere is safe?

Sixteen years after a deadly virus wiped out most of Earth’s population, the world is a perilous place. Eighteen-year-old Eve has never been beyond the heavily guarded perimeter of her school, where she and two hundred other orphaned girls have been promised a future as the teachers and artists of the New America. But the night before graduation, Eve learns the shocking truth about her school’s real purpose—and the horrifying fate that awaits her.

Fleeing the only home she’s ever known, Eve sets off on a long, treacherous journey, searching for a place she can survive. Along the way she encounters Arden, her former rival from school, and Caleb, a rough, rebellious boy living in the wild. Separated from men her whole life, Eve has been taught to fear them, but Caleb slowly wins her trust . . . and her heart. He promises to protect her, but when soldiers begin hunting them, Eve must choose between true love and her life.

In this epic new series, Anna Carey imagines a future that is both beautiful and terrifying. Readers will revel in Eve’s timeless story of forbidden love and extraordinary adventure.


The Short Version:
Enchanting, wowing and brilliant, Eve builds a world that is so unlike our own yet terrifyingly easy to imagine. With stellar characterization and development, there is a very relatable and realistic note to this one despite the setting. Trying strong and intelligent roots to what we know now, and testing her characters to their limits, Carey’s debut is bold, clever and heartbreaking.

The Extended Version:
Eve is a clear product of her upbringing, her mind full of hope and wonderment at what is to come when she moves to the new building that should be the equivalent of college. The moment she finds out the truth comes early in the book, and is gutting enough to last throughout the entire book. Once thrust out into the forest and world beyond, it becomes quickly clear just how unequipped she truly is. She holds a certain naivety, both in regards to the world around her and the people she meets, yet she is malleable enough to shift and accept that what she’s always been taught is not necessarily right or the truth. She is analytic and perceptive, and makes these constant mental comparisons that truly drive her character in fantastic ways. Though she certainly her and shows her weaknesses, she has an abundance of strengths, both obvious and subtle, and her refusal to give up on herself and others makes her a genuine, engaging character.

Caleb is the kind of guy who’s cocky without actually really being cocky, but has this great self assurance and doesn’t hold too many regrets towards his actions. Protective and strong, Caleb is an extraordinary result of the way he’s been forced to live mixed with his natural personality and protectiveness. Able to hold close what’s dear to him, while still making room for others and new feelings, he makes for the perfect love interest who is full of charm.

There are references peppered throughout the book in regards to not only points in our history but to books already published. From Lord of the Flies to the Underground Railroad, Carey has brilliantly crafted a story that is easy to imagine, easy to understand the scope of, while still leaving readers breathless. Such subtle points add an inexplicable amount of depth to this book, and the way each one shapes and changes Eve adds further intimacy to the book. Shifting the way each book reference is used and viewed by the characters, adding to the concept of the world we are fed is not always truth. Unafraid to keep things in a logical progression, and with some character deaths hard hitting and gutting, Carey doesn’t sugar coat anything.

Notable, too, is the romantic angle of this book, coming across almost as a non-romance for much of the book. Caleb and Eve fall in a very easy way, something that seems to happen more than be this earth shattering change. Their friendship grows and develops in a strong way, lending itself to something more happening, while still keeping in line with not only their characters but the story and going ons as a whole. Though certainly holding some strong romantic elements, some parts more than others, this is not a book built solely on romance, making each note even sweeter.

This one has the kind of plot where at any given moment, there is not necessarily a lot going on, yet it all ties together and happens in a way that is powerful enough to keep readers engaged and on the edge. Strongly developing the characters, and having the direct implications and results of the events of the book falling back onto them, Carey does a remarkable job of blending her plot points into the story of each individual character, yet never takes the focus away from Eve. Building up to an emotional and wowing ending, this one most definitely pulls readers in on page one and doesn’t let go. The world building is stellar, definitely not the world we know, yet easy to see and imagine. Delving into some seemingly disgusting concepts and post-devastation effects, and twisting truths we know into something that can still be seen as fact, Carey holds nothing back.

Compelling and infatuating, Eve is an amazing debut that will leave readers eager for more. Setting things up for what is guaranteed to be a stunning next installment, without giving too much hints at what, exactly, is to come, Carey’s talent shines in every aspect of this book. Beautifully written, brilliant in concept, and with absolutely stunning characterization, Eve is easily one of the best books of the year.

Source: ALA 
Reading level: Young Adult 
Hardcover: 336 pages 
Publisher: HarperCollins 
Publication Date: October 4, 2011

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Book Review: Deadly Cool by Gemma Halliday

SUMMARY: First I find out that my boyfriend is cheating on me. Then he’s pegged as the #1 suspect in a murder. And now he’s depending on me to clear his name. Seriously?

As much as I wouldn’t mind watching him squirm, I know that he’s innocent. So I’m brushing off my previously untapped detective skills and getting down to business. But I keep tripping over dead bodies and I’m still no closer to figuring out who did it. And what’s worse: all signs seem to point to me as the killer’s next victim.

I really need to pick a better boyfriend next time.


The Short Version:
A perfectly crafted murder mystery with a snarky protagonist, Deadly Cool is a fun and amusing read. Having both depth and humor, both centered around Hartley and the overall plot, this one doesn't shy away from the rough topics while also isn't totally emotional. With plenty of surprises and twists along the way, readers will get sucked right in.

The Extended Version:
Hartley is such a fantastiaclly well done character, definitely an in your face kind of girl without being closed off or brash. She is hilarious both in her thoughts and her actions, and she has a great personality to go right along with it. Even more notable is the fact that it's clear how much she loves her boyfriend, and though it is hard for her to stomach that he cheated and isn't instantly through with him, she also isn't the girl who just ignores it or is in denial. Able to keep her chin up, even when things are rough, Hartley is a well rounded, fully developed character that readers will resontate with. Her development and growth are superbly done, keeping in line with the sprightly girl we meet on page one yet incorporating everything she endures without breaking her completely.

Chase is a little on the weird side, holding a certain level of distrust about him, at least at first, yet he is also awkward at all the right moments and perfectly charming at others. The way he interacts with Hartley is beautifully done, building both characters and letting them fall for each other without either even particularly realizing it. Their banter is hilarious and adds so much to not only the book but who they are, and Chase is definitely at the heart of much of the greatness of this book.

Halliday does a great job of blending together the various aspects of this story smoothly, from Hartley's now defunct relationship and the pain and betrayal that comes with her boyfriend's cheating to her determination to clear said boyfriend's name. Her intelligence and natural wit plays heavily into the book without being the only reason things get solved, and there is just such a fantastic weaving of great elements into this book. The who done it portion of the book, while admittedly easy to figure out along the way, is still a nice addition and driving point.

The plot has an overall steady pace, happening more with humor than anything too heavy and keeping the reader very actively engaged as a result. With a shocking climax and final reveal, this one is formulaic in an enjoyable way. There are plenty of clues dropped along the way, and a certain sense of foreboding constantly present, which will both stun readers and help them figure things out on their own.

This one is very heavy in voice, bringing Hartley to life in the most vivid of ways. The writing is smooth and easy to follow, and has a very authentic and teenage note to it. The setting is easy to imagine, the facts and play out real, and will appeal to fans of both straight contemporary and those who like a little something more,.

Fun, engaging and humorous, Deadly Cool hits on darker notes while keeping an overall light air. Easily one of the most memorable and enjoyable characters around, Hartley is the kind of girl who takes things as they come without too much excess drama. Navigating relationship issues, investigating a murder, and making plenty of mistakes along the way, Hartley's journey in Deadly Cool is one that readers will love.

Source: ARC received from author in exchange for an honest review 
Reading level: Young Adult 
Paperback: 320 pages 
Publisher: HarperTeen
Publication Date: October 11, 2011

Character Tweets: Frost by Wendy Delsol

Kat Leblanc here. You know, human Stork, deliverer of souls. My friend Kari at A Good Addiction asked me if I liked to tweet. Of course. It’s bird themed, for starters. Penny and I are kind of addicted to trading @ messages. In fact, it’s how she reminded me of my (purported) agreement to dress up as an elf for one of her do-good activities.

katinthehat Kat Leblanc
@penny4yrthoughts R we hanging out after school?

Penny4yrthoughts Penny Pedursson
@katinthehat Yep. & good news. I found U an elf costume.

katinthehat Kat Leblanc
@penny4yrthoughts Elf costume???

Penny4yrthoughts Penny Pedursson
@katinthehat 4 the holiday canned-food drive. Remember? Jack agreed 2 B santa if U’d be his elf.

katinthehat Kat Leblanc
@penny4yrthoughts Kind of coming back 2 me now. Didn’t I say maybe???

Penny4yrthoughts Penny Pedursson
@katinthehat I distinctly remember a yes.

katinthehat Kat Leblanc
@penny4yrthoughts Grrrr.

Penny4yrthoughts Penny Pedursson
@katinthehat Do U want to hear about the costume?

katinthehat Kat Leblanc
@penny4yrthoughts I’m afraid.

Penny4yrthoughts Penny Pedursson
@katinthehat Why? It’s adorable: striped tights, fur vest, elf cap.

katinthehat Kat Leblanc
@penny4yrthoughts Kittens R adorable. Puppies R adorable. Elf caps, like clowns, R scary.

Penny4yrthoughts Penny Pedursson
@katinthehat Now don’t be grinchy.

katinthehat Kat Leblanc
@penny4yrthoughts Whatever. I reserve the right to accessorize.

Penny4yrthoughts Penny Pedursson
@katinthehat Fine. I reserve the right to take pix 4 the school paper.

katinthehat Kat Leblanc
@penny4yrthoughts Grrrr.

Penny4yrthoughts Penny Pedursson
@katinthehat AND the year book.

katinthehat Kat Leblanc
@penny4yrthoughts Revenge is a dish best served cold. Weatherman says a deep freeze is on its way.

Thank you, Kat, for sharing a bit of your twitter stream, and congrats, Wendy, on the sequel release!

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Book Review: Amplified by Tara Kelly

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 she needs to convince the three guys living there that she's the perfect roommate and lead guitarist for their 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. . . . In this fresh new novel by critically acclaimed author Tara Kelly, Jasmine finds out what happens when her life gets Amplified.


The Short Version:
Funny yet not shying away from raw emotion, Amplified blends solid writing and an original story line with unique and fantastically well done characters. Jasmine is a girl who knows what she wants in life yet isn’t completely fearless or able to ignore everything thrown at her. With several strong subplots that are masterfully weaved, Amplified portrays a music focused lifestyle in a way that is relatable even to those not well versed in the industry.

The Extended Version:
Jasmine is the kind of girl that might get a bad label because she comes across as brash and unfeeling, but it’s easy to see that she is a mixture of shy and unsure yet determined and strong that Kelly integrates seamlessly. Kicked out of her house because she wants to focus on her music rather than go to college, and no longer willing to just give in to her father’s wishes and whims, Jasmine finds herself in a completely new situation for both herself and readers. Though the effects of her childhood and home life are shown at various points, it’s more often between the lines and far from an excuse for everything happening in the now. Her overall development is strong, easy to follow, and almost empowering in how well Kelly portrays it and writes this character, and no matter the times where she’s potentially unlikable or how often Jasmine might tell it like it is, she is a very multifaceted character with an explosive story to tell.

Sean is a character who will garner very different reactions from readers throughout the story, from unfeeling jerk to sensitive, sexy and endearing. With his own story line and motivations that are just as intimately weaved throughout the story as Jasmine’s, Sean undergoes a fantastic journey of character development as well, both in response to Jasmine’s sudden barging into his life and his own methods. Completely able to melt a reader’s heart even after turning it cold, and a beautifully handled mixture of confused, tormented and determined, Sean and Jasmine have an interesting romance that shines throughout the book without overcastting the bigger aspects of the plot.

The rest of the bandmates are each memorable and individually defined, from the arrogant and sometimes overbearing yet hot and lovable playboy Bryn to feisty, ready to take on the world for herself and those she cares for Veta, Kelly’s characters will leave their mark with readers. These characters are seen both as individuals, and as part of the band, and the full nature of what Jasmine finds herself in when she lives in the same house they practice in adds a bold element to the story. Holding nothing back from the band life, Kelly includes just the right amount of bickering and drama with the companionship and friendship that comes with being in a band, while still letting it simmer overall beneath the bulk of the story.
The plot of this one is very well paced, mixing in emotion and turmoil with humor and momentum. A few succinct and well developed story arcs drive the story, giving equal attention to Jasmine’s journey and that of the band. While Jasmine’s stage fright is a big element in the book, it’s not the only element, nor is this simply a book about a girl who wants to be in a band. Kelly includes plenty of small things to keep the pages turning even in the breaks between the big points of action, never letting the reader get bored or disengage.

Using some very unique but easy to understand descriptions, and turning the feeling of playing into words in a way that not many would be able to achieve, Kelly’s writing skills pull the story together and knock it out of the park. Emotional at times, humorous without being forced at others, and downright hot at just the right moments, this book hits hard on the realism and doesn’t relent. It’d be easy to see where readers would get bored reading about the girl with the guitar, but the entire thing from Jasmine’s internal thoughts to her feelings to the actual description of the music is fantastic and grabbing in a way that makes the reader feel as though they’re right on the stage with the band.
Hitting on some very rough elements and holding poignant and beautiful scenes, but still keeping a light air overall, Amplified is a fantastic blend of music, figuring things out and romance. With an in your face kind of protagonist who isn't afraid to speak her mind, and a quietly sexy love interest who is far from perfect, the characters are vivid and memorable.

Source: ARC received from author in exchange for an honest review
Reading level: Young Adult
Hardcover: 304 pages
Publisher: Henry Holt and Co. (BYR)
Publication Date: October 25, 2011

Waiting on Wednesday

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

This week's pick is Struck by Jennifer Bosworth, coming May 8 from Farrar Straus & Giroux.

Summary: Mia Price is a lightning addict.

She’s been struck so many times she’s lost count. She can’t sleep, she’s covered in veiny red “lightning scars,” and repeated strikes have even stopped her heart on occasion. Still, Mia can’t resist a storm.

That's why Los Angeles, where it never rains, is the perfect place for her to find peace . . . until a massive earthquake devastates the city.

Now Mia finds herself struggling to hold her family together in a strange and terrifying new version of Los Angeles. The beaches have become massive tent cities populated by millions of homeless. Downtown is a wasteland, where a traveling party moves to a different empty building each night, the attendees drawn to the destruction by a magnetic force they cannot deny.

The blind prophet of a doomsday cult called the Church of Light, who predicted the earthquake with frightening accuracy, says a storm is coming to usher in the end of days, and only his Followers will be saved. Mia’s traumatized mom has become obsessed with the Church of Light, while her younger brother Parker is desperate to join a second doomsday cult called the Seekers. But Mia is the one both cults need.

The Seekers are recruiting people with an energy-based power they call the “Spark,” and Mia has it stronger than most. They claim the false prophet of the Church of Light will bring about the end of the world, and they are the only ones who can stand against him.

But without Mia on their side, they will fail.

Mia’s lightning addiction is both the key to saving the world . . . and destroying it.

My Thoughts:  Lightning addict? Yes please! Not to mention, the cult aspect of this book completely has my interest piqued. I so want to see how that is tied into the dystopian aspect of this mixed with the whole getting hit by lightning a ton of times and living. Plus, I always love a good life or death, saving or destroying situation... it's just, um, fun. Not to mention, this cover is so hot! It's definitely something that would catch my eye on the shelves. So basically, I want this book. Urm. Now.