Saturday, December 31, 2011

In My Mailbox

I didn't post an IMM since I was out of town last weekend, and in my cleaning up before I left, I think I moved some review books without realizing it. I am quite sure I'm missing a few in this, but here's two weeks worth that I can remember.

And shockingly, I didn't get any books for the holidays. But, I did get a new camera, and gift cards to get a new DVD player, so I consider that quite a win.

Now on with the goodness!

For Review:
Sweet Evil by Wendy Higgins (Holy crap this book was amazing! And HOT boy alert!)
One Moment by Kristina McBride
Why We Broke Up by Daniel Handler
The Statistical Probability of Love at First Sight by Jennifer E. Smith

Won from Beth Revis: 
Across the Universe (Signed)
A poster, bracelet, and some other swag I didn't include in the picture

So that was my weeks! When I figure out what books I left out, they will go in the next IMM. 

And because what do you do when you get a new camera? Take tons of pictures of your dog, of course. So here's some of the ones I like best, in my week of random photo snapping of poor Toby. 

IMM is a weekly meme hosted by The Story Siren.

Friday, December 30, 2011

Best of 2011: Characters

Continuing on with the best of 2011, today I've got my favorite characters, both male and female!

Favorite Males:

5. Noah Shaw from The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer by Michelle Hodkin: Hot, sexy, cocky playboy... with a heart of gold. There is something so undeniably droolworthy about Noah, but he's also just this inherently great guy who will steal your heart because of it.

4. Kaleb from Hourglass by Myra McEntire: What's not to like when your first introduction to a guy is him naked and passed out on the couch at your boyfriend's? Oh, wait, there should be negative reasons in there... well, I missed them, because from the first time we meet Kaleb, I loved this guy. The sometimes ridiculous things he would say, the softness to him, the way he'll fight for the girl he likes without being too overboard with it. Yeah. Kaleb is just. Wow.

3. Will from Angelfire by Courtney Allison Moulton: All sword jokes aside, I adore Will. He's awkward and kind of missing some social skills and doesn't really get pop culture. But he's intense, and fierce, and loyal, and caring. There is an incredible depth to Will. Also, he gets impaled enough to just make you want to hug him.

2. Harlin from A Need so Beautiful by Suzanne Young: He's a high school drop out. He drives a motorcycle. He doesn't live at home with his parents. Delinquent? Maybe. Hot and sexy? Absolutely. But Harlin is such a gentle soul, a pacifist more than anything and he feels so, so much. His love for Charlotte is almost shocking in it's intensity, and everything about Harlin is just... awesome.

1. Adam from Where She Went by Gayle Forman: Broken boys always have and always will do me in, and Adam is one of the most broken boys in YA, at least to me. So watching him try to figure it out, watching him see what he can fix, watching his constant suffering... wow. He had one of the single most well done character developments, and he's also a really great guy, attitude and sleeping around and everything else that comes with being a rock star aside. I love this boy, inside and out.

Favorite Females:

5.  Hartley Grace from Deadly Cool by Gemma Halliday: Witty, sarcastic and fiery. Hartley has a flair to her that is easy to see on the first page, and even in her times of weakness, she's still pretty much an all around awesome chick. I loved watching her grow, and watching her try to figure everything else.

4. Jasmine from Amplified by Tara Kelly: Jasmine doesn't take people's crap, and I love her for it. She speaks her mind, goes after what she wants, and doesn't really let fear stand in her way. She is unbelievable realistic, and has so much depth and heart to her.

3. Jill MacSweeney from How to Save a Life by Sara Zarr: In terms of character development, this is one of my favorite girls ever. Jill can see her own flaws, but trying to fix them is another story. There is something absolutely stunning about the way Jill sees the world and herself, and the way that shifts and changes in this book. She is protective of her mom, pained over the loss of her dad, and pushes away those who care about her. I loved this girl from start to finish.

2. Ruby from Imaginary Girls by Nova Ren Suma: I don't even really know how to explain why love of Ruby. She has an inexplicable prowess, can command an entire room without doing a thing, and she is undeniable protective of her sister. She is just an awesome character, even through the eyes of her sister.

1. Mandarin from Like Mandarin by Kirsten Hubbard: Easily one of the most multifaceted, layered characters out there, Mandarin had me just as intrigued as Grace had been. Flaunting in some ways, and closed off in others, Mandarin is a bit of a mess, a bit adventurous, and a lot of amazing.

So who are your favorite boys and girls of YA?

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Don't Breathe a Word Tour: Tell Me a Secret Cameos

When I read Don't Breathe a Word by the seriously talented and amazing Holly Cupala, I emailed with her as I blazed through the book. I don't do this often, but this is a book I HAD to talk about, even as I read it. Since I already had spent time emailing with Holly and talking to her, I didn't feel weird. But I admit, my emails when I am on a reading high are... spastic. I filled her inbox anyway, giving her basically every thought I had, good or bad or angry or hopeful.

Then came time to plan the tour, and Holly still had those emails... so this post today, featuring the characters from Tell Me a Secret who have cameos in Don't Breathe a Word... is sparked by those emails of mine, with Holly's responses mixed in.

So here you have it, not only Holly's secrets but a look at unfiltered (but slightly censored) fangirl Kari. Oh snap.

Kari: We’ve heard there are a few cameos of characters from Tell Me a Secret in Don’t Breathe a Word. Are the rumors true? What can you tell us about them? Does Delaney really show up in DBAW? I wanna know about that chick.

Holly: Oh yes, there is more about Delaney’s secret in DBAW…

Kari: WHAT?!! There was?? Asher didn't knock her up before he met Joy, did he?

Holly: The clues are subtle, very subtle. Delaney makes a cameo at the zoo party, then there’s a hint about her secret in Joy’s flashback about Asher and his family in Chapter 11. You know Miranda and Lexi make a cameo appearance, right?

Kari: AH! I wondered if that was Miranda. AWWWWWWW. Awesome cameo there. Aw. Lexi... And OH the chick with Asher WAS Delaney? And hmm...Asher’s dad got involved with the prep school…?? Soooooo Asher was together with her??

Holly: =D

Kari: I’m going to take that as a yes to my Asher question. GOD I HATE HIM.

Holly: Who knows, I might write more about that one of these days. ;-)

Kari: ....Damn. Okay well that's the conclusion I'm drawing then. Asher [spoiler]. Then when that burned out, [spoiler]. GOD he is a disgusting pig. How does his dad even... LET him [spoiler]?! How old is Asher anyhow? growl...

Holly: That was the conclusion I meant for readers to draw, although I wouldn’t say Delaney was the victim in the situation (at least, not for most of it). I have been thinking about how it would play out in a story…

I think he’s 19 or 20 at this point. He would have been in high school junior year with Delaney. I know, growl! You’re cracking me up.

Kari: So did you know before you wrote DBAW that Asher was the guy in Delaney's past? Is that part of what sparked some of him? Man I wanna know SO MUCH about those two now! Is she part of what pushed him to be the [bleep] he is?

Holly: She just kind of showed up there, and it made sense. I see them as a hot mix of sparring and attraction that eventually goes off a dangerous cliff. (Ooh. Could that be a novel? Maybe…we’ll see… ;) The movie premiere thing came later when I realized I could slip in that info about her secret. A lot of the events, btw, are/were real events—the zoo party, etc. I really did see the Black Eyed Peas guy at the Avatar re-release world premiere, and he really had a safety-pin man-purse.

Kari: Dude. Does your new novel idea have cameos from this book in it????

Holly: YES of course there will be cameos. Remember Bach from Starbucks in DBAW? He was actually supposed to be in TMAS, but my editor didn’t want me to introduce such a vivid character so late in the book (he would have been the one to give Miranda the Cornish tour in the last chapter). Anyway, his little brother is going to be a major character in this third novel, and Bach might just be dating a certain someone from TMAS…more connections to be determined…

Thank you, Kari, for inviting me to A Good Addiction and putting together this incredible blog tour for DON’T BREATHE A WORD! If you hear one girl cheering and clapping for you all the way from Seattle, that’s me.<3

So now that you guys know a few of the characters who show up in Don't Breathe a Word, I bet you're dying to read it! Trust me, even without those cameos, this book is utterly breathtaking and amazing and you want it!

To celebrate, Holly is giving away a book each day of the blog tour!

Read the rules carefully, so you don't miss anything:
1. You get one automatic entry.
2. For every tour post (click the banner below to be taken to the tour details page) you comment on, you get another entry. You must include the link to the specific tour post you commented on.
3. You get one extra entry each for tweeting, facebooking, or including on your blog.
4. You must fill out the form for each individual entry, ie every time you comment, you fill the form in again.

To start racking up your entries, just fill out THIS form.

Winners will be drawn each week, and your points do accumulate through the final drawing.

There will be one international winner a week, and those books will come from The Book Depository. All others will be signed copies, mailed to US/Canada addresses from Holly.

The final deadline to get your entries in is 11:59 pm CST Saturday, January 14.

Can't wait to read the book? Check out this sneak preview! You know you want to.

Want more from Holly? Check out her website, the official DBaW website, and find her on twitter and facebook.

Top 12 for 2012

I admit, making this list was a little easier since I've been lucky enough to already read several of the 2012s I was drooling over, but that's only a tiny dent in the huge amount of books I am eager for, so here is, as of right now, the top 12 for 2012 that I am dying for!

12. Perception by Kim Harrington: I loved Clarity, from the feisty main character to the seriously hot boys to the story. I'm so excited there is a sequel, especially since the first is very much a stand alone so it's just another chapter in these character's lives.

11. Hidden by Sophie Jordan: Who the crap does Jacinda end up with?! Will I hope! Although I admit this is one where I could (possibly) be okay with her ending up with Cassian but still. Plus the wash Vanish ended?! Yeah. Want.

10. Insurgent by Veronica Roth: Four. That should be enough said. But I also am still, a year from when I first read Divergent, in awe of Veronica's world building and writing.

9. Endlessly by Kiersten White: This is one of my favorite series ever. The books are so fun, yet have so much depth and darker stuff to them. Not to mention, they really are some of the most original books to me. And there's a (very minor) character named after me in Supernaturally, who I think is back in Endlessly, and I want to read more about myself.

8. Golden Lily by Richelle Mead: Adrian! There is so much Adrian in this series. Also, I am really loving being in Sydney's head. And Richelle Mead is one of my favorite authors ever. So.

7. Spell Bound by Rachel Hawkins: What the crap was the ending to Demonglass? I don't think I've ever felt more thrown off a cliff (in a good way). Rachel is an evil, evil, brilliant and talented woman and holy wow can I not wait to see how this series ends.

6. Queen of Glass by Sarah J. Maas: Assassin. Outlawed magic. Yes please. Not to mention, I just think Sarah is one of the nicest people ever but dang does this book sound AWESOME. 

5. Pushing the Limits by Katie McGarry: I am a sucker for romance where you don't expect it, especially with a background of something very unpleasant, such as court ordered therapy. This one sounds like it will be totally emotional. Plus I love this cover.

4. False Memory by Dan Krokos: Main character who's a weapon? Things she can't remember? Dark truths? Um. Yes, yes and yes. Seriously, this one just. Wow. It sounds so brilliant and original, but also so crushing and gripping. Someone should steal this for me.

3. If I Lie by Corrine Jackson: A book about that dark space between protecting yourself and protecting someone else? Holy heck yes please. I love the inherent emotion that will come with this one, and honestly, I can't wait to see just how dark and deep it's taken. I love twisty books! Also, this is one of my favorite covers. It's so sweet and soft, yet also a little sexy, a little broken, and a little dark.

 2. Velveteen by Daniel Marks: I don't even know where to begin to describe all the things that have me drooling over this one. Maybe it's the probably twisted romance. Maybe it's the fact that the main character wants to do some serious post-mortem haunting and kind of can't. Or maybe it's just that there is mention of ritual abuse even in the summary. I don't know. But I want this book, so. Freaking. Bad.

1. Something Like Normal by Trish Doller: I've been drooling for this book since last year, and talked about it plenty between then and now. I am expecting so much awesome from this book... a little romance, a little hurt, a lot of broken, and hopefully just the right amount of putting things back together. I love male POV books, and I love rough characters.

So there you guys have it.... the 2012s that I am drooling for. I so cannot wait to get all of them, and will admittedly be a bit shameless in my attempts to get some of these.

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Book Review: Don't Breathe a Word by Holly Cupala

SUMMARY: Joy delamere is suffocating.

From asthma, from her parents, and from her boyfriend, Asher, who is smothering her from the inside out. She can take his cruel words, his tender words . . . until the night they go too far.

To escape, Joy sacrifices her suburban life to find the one who offered his help, a homeless boy called Creed. He introduces her to a world of fierce loyalty, to its rules of survival, and to love—a world she won’t easily let go.

Set against the backdrop of the streets of Seattle, Holly Cupala’s power­ful new novel explores the subtleties of abuse, the secrets we keep, and the ways to redemption. But above all, it is an unflinching story about the extraordinary lengths one girl will go to discover her own strength.


The Short Version:
Emotional, gripping, and superbly written, Don’t Breathe a Word not only forces the reader to see things in a new light but weaves a tale of both hope and survival. With a protagonist whose motivations are strong, understandable, and relatable, and a supporting cast that is incredibly well developed, Cupala’s skills at both building a story and unique, multifaceted characters shines. Hitting on some incredibly hard concepts with an unflinching poignancy, Don’t Breathe a Word holds everything an amazing book should, and more.

The Extended Version:
Joy is a character who seems potentially weak at the start, yet has this huge internal drive and strength that shines even amidst the weakness. Truly caught between a rock and a hard place, and forced into a silence of sorts, Joy runs away from home, choosing the streets over the life she’s known. Early on, Cupala lets the reader know the full scope of reasons, far beyond simply a teenager throwing some tantrum. Though Joy has a lot to learn once on her own, and even her preconceptions about street life are challenged, she faces it all head on despite the fear and worries that lurk. Her entire character development is astoundingly well done, building at a steady rate and in response to the multitude of things she faces. Joy is truly an exceptional character, one who even teens not in her specific situation can relate to and identify with.

Creed is a charmer in a soft way, with a bit of a hero complex but which comes across in a way that isn’t simply a show or trying to win girls over. An incredibly talented musician, and the exception to the rule about street kids to some extent, he’s someone who is fiercely loyal yet not defined by it. Though there is a rough side of him that is shown in a few key scenes, Creed is the epitome of gentle soul that every girl wants in her life. Swoonworthy in the subtlest of ways, his overall character is completely memorable, completely well developed, and completely amazing.

May and Santos close out the small group Joy finds herself in, as lively, distinct and unique in personality as Joy and Creed. The interactions between the four range from light and fun to heavy, heartbreaking, and wrenching, and Cupala navigates each one perfectly. Through flashbacks and memories, Joy’s life before leaving is revealed, giving strong characterization to her family and friends. The differences in how Joy acts with those she knew before, and those she meets on the streets, is understandably different and written in a fantastic manner to smooth it out for readers.

The plot has a very steady pace, relying not only on the perfectly planned reveals and building mystery about a few key points for why Joy left, but also on Joy herself and everything she goes through. The way she views things changes in some huge ways, both through the things she goes through and what she learns about the other’s pasts, and this interlinks with the plot progression easily. Lifting in some parts, but with the idea that there is no guarantee for things to stay good constantly hanging overhead, this plot is driven as much by the characters as the world around them.

The setting is as much a character as Joy herself, vivid in its portrayal and absolutely realistic. Cupala has captured the atmosphere of street life in a way that readers who’ve never experienced can understand, and even imagine themselves in it. The writing is infused with emotion in a way that cannot be faked, and is a true testament to Cupala’s inherent skills. Absolutely gripping from the start, gutting more than once, and engaging in a way that keeps the reader turning the pages start to finish without stopping, Don’t Breathe a Word is a masterfully done contemporary.

Source: ARC received from author/publisher in exchange for an honest review
Reading level: Ages 14 and up
Paperback: 320 pages
Publisher: HarperTeen
Publication Date: January 3, 2012

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Best of 2011: Debuts

While you guys saw my overall top picks of 2011 not long ago during Best I've Read, I'm not done with my favorites of the year. For the rest of the week, I'll be featuring a different category a day, and telling you my best picks for each. So today, we've got The Debuts.

5. Eve by Anna Carey: I love the world building in this one, the way it's written, and the characters. This is a book that really made me think, and had an ending that left me aching and breathless.

4. Saving June by Hannah Harrington: Completely emotional, with stunning characterization, and plenty of fun mixed into it. This is a book that definitely stayed with me for days after I finished it.

3. Divergent by Veronica Roth: This is one of those books where at any one moment, there isn't necessarily a lot happening and yet, when it's all pieced together, it's stunning in its complexity and scope. With amazing world building, and an awesome protagonist, this one left me drooling for more.

2. The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer by Michelle Hodkin: This wasn't exactly what I expected, but it was amazing all the same. This one had me obsessed for days. Not to mention it has one of the hottest guys ever in it...

1. Like Mandarin by Kirsten Hubbard: Kirsten is the kind of author I only wish I could ever write like. She has a completely smooth ability to make her settings vivid and almost their own character, without bogging you down with descriptive details. Also the characters of this one are so multifaceted and so well done. I adore this book to no end.

So what are your favorite 2011 debuts?

Book Review: Love & Leftovers by Sarah Tregay

My wish
is to fall
cranium over Converse
in dizzy, daydream-worthy

When her parents split, Marcie is dragged from Idaho to a family summerhouse in New Hampshire. She leaves behind her friends, a group of freaks and geeks called the Leftovers, including her emo-rocker boyfriend, and her father.

By the time Labor Day rolls around, Marcie suspects this "vacation" has become permanent. She starts at a new school where a cute boy brings her breakfast and a new romance heats up. But understanding love, especially when you've watched your parents' affections end, is elusive. What does it feel like, really? can you even know it until you've lost it?

Love and Leftovers is a beautifully written story of one girl’s journey navigating family, friends, and love, and a compelling and sexy read that teens will gobble up whole

The Short Version:
Lyrical and tender, Love & Leftovers packs a huge punch in a moving way. With a central character that definitely makes some mistakes but is likeable all the same, and a beautifully scripted story, there is a very personal component to this one. Smoothly written and easy to fall into, Love & Leftovers is a tale of want, heartbreak, and friendship.

The Extended Version:
Marcie has a boldness to her that is hidden under her view of being a leftover, an outcast that she was okay with in her original group of friends but she finds uncomfortable after moving. Wanting some kind of compassion and affection, desperate even for just a hug, Marcie finds herself facing some complicated decisions, and the pain that comes with them. When no choice feels completely right, she definitely makes a few mistakes, and her responses to everything are realistic and heartfelt. Torn not so much between two boys but between two places, and having valid reasons behind both sides, her characterization is spot on, poignant and genuine.

JD is charming, bold in his affections and sure of himself in a way that isn't too cocky. In the face of what she’s struggling with, he’s an especially good fit for Marcie, and certainly the kind of guy a girl could get head over feels for without realizing it. The chemistry between the two is explosive and realistic, and the incoming slew of questions and decisions she’s faced with adds a great element not only to her character but to their relationship.

Linus is a gentle and sweet guy, on the more emotional side of things and the kind of guy who you almost feel like you’re going to break even with the smallest thing. Despite that, he’s wildly romantic, forgiving, and just an all around amazing guy. Sure, he has his own way of dealing with everything, and makes some rough choices of his own, but there is still an incredibly endearing element to him that will have readers rooting whole heartedly for him.

The plot of this one is, in a lot of ways, a slow burn. From Marcie’s feelings for JD and then back to Linus, to the way everything happens, there is a build up for a big explosion, then tapering off before burn begins. Taking place in three main parts, and incorporating a huge amount of emotion and plot into each one, while also weaving them together overall, Tregay has built a stunning and addicting plot. Even when some of the characters make mistakes, the reasons and motivations are so solidly infused into the book readers will understand them.

With great connections between the characters, Tregay has built something readers will fall into from the start. Bringing in several bigger elements, particularly both love and lust, as well family issues and touching on sexuality, this one weaves multiple layers together in a beautiful, seamless way. Watching Marcie deal with her lust for not only Linus, but JD as well, and trying to make sense of the physical, emotional and mental relationships with the two is one of the most poignant and memorable aspects of this book. More than just trying to get some, but not always pure unfiltered love, Tregay tests the waters perfectly.

Written in free verse, this one has a very easy flow, using few words to tell a huge story. Holding a very heavy emotional component, and almost oppressive in it’s intensity at times, this one is vivid and real. Unflinching in it’s honesty, but noticeable in voice, there is something undeniably Marcie about this one while still having an easy to get into element to it.

This book is almost beyond words, something so perfectly done and potent in impact that the only recommendation is to read it. It’s a quick read, both from how thoroughly Tregay grabs her readers but also due to the free verse style. Marcie is a character that makes some mistakes, and causes more problems for herself on the way, but she also faces the consequences, and tries to figure things out in the best way she can. With a stellar cast, scenes both hot and painful, and an overall amazingly done plot, Love & Leftovers is a commanding and affecting must read.

Source: ARC received from author/publisher in exchange for an honest review
Reading level: Ages 13 and up
Hardcover: 448 pages
Publisher: Katherine Tegen Books (December 27, 2011)

Monday, December 26, 2011

Character Interview: Perry from Under the Never Sky

I always love getting the chance to ask questions to characters from my favorite books... so when the opportunity to fire off at Perry from Veronica Rossi's (absolutely amazing) debut Under the Never Sky arose... well, I jumped all over it. So meet Perry, one of my absolute favorite boys, from one of my all time favorite books.

If you could move to the pods, would you?

No chance. I wouldn't last a week in there.

So… about the rocks thing… just how many rocks would you carry for Aria?

As many as I could hold. So... a lot.

What’s it like to kiss Aria?

Really, really good. She's amazing. I don't know what else to say. It's kind of private.

Boxers or briefs?

What? (Explains terminology) Oh... Boxers probably. Nothing tight.

What kind of dinosaur would you describe yourself as?

A hungry one. Big. And dangerous. (grins) Maybe one with a crooked nose.

Any hints for what’s to come that you can share with us?

I wish I knew. 

Thank you, Perry, for stopping in and sharing those answers, and congrats Veronica on the debut!

Under the Never Sky hits shelves January 3, so make sure you pick it up! Trust me, you do not at all want to miss this one. Not to mention, Perry is utterly lickable and swoonworthy... *shoves him in the closet*

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Book Review: Burnout by Adrienne Maria Vrettos

SUMMARY: On the day after Halloween, Nan wakes up in a subway car. She is not dreaming. She doesn’t know where she’s been or what she’s done. She’s missing a whole day from her life. And she’s wearing skeleton makeup and a too-small Halloween costume that she doesn't remember putting on.

Nan is not supposed to wake up in places like this anymore. She’s different now, so far from that dangerously drunk girl who hit bottom in the Nanapocalypse. She needs to find out what happened to her, and fast. As she tries to put together the pieces of the last twenty-four hours, she flashes back to memories of her previous life. But she would never go back to her old friends and her old ways. Would she?

The deeper Nan digs, the more disturbing things get. This time, she may have gone one step too far. This time, she may be a walking ghost.


The Short Version:
Mysterious and toeing the line between spinning out of control and cleaning up, Burnout is both rough and hopeful. Though a few key points aren’t fully explained, and this reader would have preferred for some scenes to be more fleshed out, the overall concept is well versed and engaging. Alternating between the past and present, and bridging the gap between the two, Burnout takes readers for a ride.

The Extended Version:
Nan is an easy character to get behind, one who has made mistakes in the past but who has a solid determination to stay clean now. Scared of what her forgotten night could mean, but even more set on fixing the mess herself, she has a strength in her that will pull in readers. With two layers of development to her, both her past and present are told and collide. Readers not only see how she spiraled out of control before the book ever started but also see the changes she further goes through as she tries to unravel the truth of what happened. This mix allows for a sympathetic character with a strong narrative.

Though there is a small cast of characters, the story stays focused almost entirely on Nan. With much of the present happening only around her, and a few people cropping in now and then, readers get a straight and vivid look into Nan’s head and the world through her eyes. With a mom who clearly loves her but can’t immediately forget Nan’s night of binge drinking, and a little brother who brings a new sort of life to the book, Nan’s home life is far from horrible. With a best friend who is the root of her troubles, but a lasting loyalty all the same, Nan’s struggle between ‘right and wrong’ is a driving force for the book.

While the plot is steady, and the shift between the past and present are smooth, there are several scenes that feel too rushed, without enough depth put into them. With a few bigger points left unexplained, and an ending that happened too immediately, there were a few areas this reader felt could have been improved. Still, the sense of confusion and worry Nan goes through comes through strongly, and the concept itself is a well done one.

The writing is strong in voice and easy to get into. Alternating between past and present tense, there is only a little confusion at the start in regards to this before adjusting. With some great descriptions, and a soft emotional air throughout, readers will fall instep beside Nan.

Realistic in what happens, though missing a few explanations that are needed, Burnout is a good blend of the past and present and when they collide. Nan is a great character, one who has made some mistakes and wants to keep them in the past, yet who harbors a constant set of worry and fears. Hitting on some rough points, and open in it’s scope, there is a raw edge to this one.

Source: ALA
Reading Level: 14 and up  
Hardcover: 208 pages 
Publisher: Margaret K. McElderry Books
Publication Date: September 13, 2011

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Author Interview: Kimberly Reid

Also stopping in today, to celebrate her release My Own Worst Frenemy, is Kimberly Reid, with an author interview!

What would be the hardest thing about being the daughter of a private investigator for you?

I really am the daughter of a retired police officer and private investigator so I can tell you without a doubt the hardest thing was being worried whether my mom would come home each night. She became a police officer for the Atlanta Police when I was young enough to think it was a cool job without fully understanding the danger involved. Back then, Atlanta was called the crime capital of the country. It wasn’t until I was ten or eleven that I realized just how dangerous the job was and I worried about her all the time after that. I was in grad school when she left law enforcement, so that was her job pretty much my whole childhood and early adulthood. When my mom began doing private investigation work, I was actually relieved.

What was the biggest mystery you had to solve when you were a teen?

The biggest mystery I wanted to solve was one of my mom’s cases. When I was thirteen, she was assigned to a task force created to track down a serial killer who terrorized metro Atlanta for nearly two years. I was always snooping on that case, asking questions, sneaking into my mother’s work. I was obsessed, so much so I wrote a non-fiction book about it called No Place Safe.

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

This question is hard because I can only imagine them with each other!

I would pair Chanti with Bobby from The First Part Last by Angela Johnson. The book is very different from mine in tone and subject matter, but I really like that character, the way he evolves to meet his changing circumstances. Bobby is a sixteen-year-old boy who becomes a father and eventually accepts that responsibility. Chanti’s parents became pregnant with her when they were still in high school, but the outcome was very different. Her non-existent relationship with her father will impact her over the course of the Langdon Prep series. With Bobby, Chanti would have a chance to see a different version of young fatherhood than what she experienced.

For Marco, I’d pick Emma, the title character from Jane Austen’s book. Emma’s three years older, but she’s kind of an immature twenty-year-old by today’s standards, so it might work. Chanti and Emma have some of the same challenging personality quirks that drive Marco crazy: often in other people’s business, overanalyzing situations, sometimes reading too much meaning into events or actions. Emma displays these quirks while playing matchmaker, Chanti while playing detective, but Chanti is better at sleuthing than Emma was at matching. Marco won’t accept Chanti’s quirks, but Mr. Knightley falls for Emma in spite of them. Maybe Emma knows something Chanti doesn’t about getting a guy to love you, flaws and all. I’d like to see if she could work her magic on Marco.

You’re lost in the jungle with Chanti. What happens?

We both grew up city girls so it would have to be a Lost or Castaway situation for us to ever be in a jungle. But now that I think of it, I have been in a couple of jungles – well, rain forests – so I suppose it could happen. First we’d both freak out for a second, then realize we’re former Girl Scouts and I was once a project manager, so we did a risk analysis before leaving for the jungle and created a contingency plan. We’d each have cell phones (possibly a satellite phone), GPS tracker, backpacks with food, tent, water, flares, first aid kit, potable water pills, heat source, etc. We’d have let several people know where we were going—including map and GPS coordinates—and when they should expect our return. There would be people looking for us soon, once they got over the shock that we went into a jungle in the first place. So we’d find some good shelter, devise some type of weapon in defense of wild boar/ The Predator /Freddy Krueger (we’re daughters of cops, you know) and hang out until we were found. I imagine we wouldn’t be lost for very long. Seriously—ask anyone who knows me well and they’ll tell you I go a little overboard with the prepare-for-any-catastrophe thinking.

What kind of cookie would you describe yourself as?

I’ll go with chocolate chip made with Godiva chocolate and macadamias. I think I’m mostly a regular Joe-ette—nothing fancy—like chocolate chip cookies. But I’ll admit to having my high-maintenance moments.

Thank you, Kimberly, and congrats on the release!

Character Guest Post: Samara from Living Violet

Instead of Living Violet author Jaime Reed stopping in today, I've asked the main character, Samara, to share some of her favorite books! So check it out, and see if you agree.

Okay, I’m a bit of a bookworm. I work at a bookstore, so who can really blame me. I mean, what else am I gonna do during my break… or while I’m on duty? There are so many books that I love one week and then hate a year later, it’s not even funny, but there are three constants so far. Most of these titles are pretty familiar and if you don’t know what these are, then my god, read a book!

THE HUNGER GAMES by Susanne Collins

In short: It’s gladiators with kids. A survival guide for the Dystopian warrior in all of us. A girl volunteers to a fight to the death with eleven other children to earn food for her home region. Cameras roll as each kid is slaughtered in totally messed up events designed solely for entertainment. It has a deeper message on how reality TV is the devil and it has a strong female character that doesn’t mope and whine. She does what she has to do to survive. I can relate. Really.


I know, I know, this is on everyone’s list, but it’s there for a reason. A young girl is pressured by her family to marry, but she refuses to follow the trends of her society, no matter how broke she is. First impressions are the worst ways to characterize someone, but we all do it. This book teaches you not to let family and friends force you into something you don’t want, that looks aren’t everything, and that that guy who gets on your nerves might not be all that bad.

MATILDA by Roald Dahl

I love this book. It’s one of the first books I’ve read. A little girl uses her love of books to escape her dysfunctional home life and soon learns she has telekinetic powers. She uses her awesome gifts to bring order back to her school, which quite frankly, resembles a prison camp. What can I say? Welcome to public school. But I can totally relate to Matilda. She’s super smart, different, and she has to fight for what is right, just like I do. I’ve also had really mean and ugly teachers that looked like dudes, including the full mustache. This book has gotten me through a few tough times in elementary school, and I secretly wished I had a super power. Hell, I still do.

So there you have it. Now that I think of it, I kinda want to read them again.

Thank you, Samara, for stopping in and congrats, Jaime on the release!

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Author Interview + Contest: Helen Landalf

Hitting shelves today is Helen Landalf's debut, Flyaway, and to celebrate, I've got an author interview and a contest here for you guys!

Of all the animals you could have used, why birds?

Actually, I didn’t choose birds; they chose me. Before I began the novel, I knew I wanted to write about Stevie and her mom and her aunt, but I also knew that something was missing. One day as I was walking down the street, brainstorming, I noticed a baby bird lying on the sidewalk. It must have fallen out of its nest. It looked so helpless, and my urge to rescue it was so strong, that I knew at that moment that working with injured and orphaned birds would be the perfect way for Stevie to learn about survival without a mother’s care, about the limitations of rescue, and about letting go.

Which character surprised you the most as you were writing this?

I would have to say The Professor, because he didn’t show up until my final revision with my agent, just before we began to shop the book. It was my agent’s idea to add a male character who would act as a decoy for Stevie’s relationship with Alan, but The Professor also ended up serving, along with Stevie’s friend Tonya, as a bridge between Stevie’s old life with Mom and her new life with her Aunt Mindy.

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

Wow, that’s a tough one! I think Stevie needs someone smart, but a little bit wild, who has an offbeat sense of humor, so I’m going to pair her with Holden Caulfield in J.D. Salinger’s Catcher in the Rye. Alan, on the other hand, needs someone strong, yet sensitive enough to see the vulnerability underneath his armor. I think Hermione from the Harry Potter series would be a great match for him (sorry, Ron!).

What god/goddess would be your nemesis?

My nemesis would probably be Hestia, the goddess of the hearth. Don’t get me wrong: I love my home and family. But I’ve always been a bit of a restless spirit, never content to stay in one place. I’m excited about so many things; I want to go out and conquer the world!

What kind of cookie would you describe yourself as?

I once tried this cookie that looked like a regular chocolate cookie, but when you bit into it, you tasted a dash of cayenne. It was sweet, but with a surprising kick. That would be me.

Thank you, Helen, and that is the first time I've heard that answer for my cookie question! Those do sound good though...

Anyhow. Now is your chance to win a copy of Flyaway!

To enter, just fill out THIS form.

This contest is US Only and ends December 27.

Monday, December 19, 2011

Mistwood/Nightspell Blog Tour: Delete Scene (+ Contest!)

This is the final stop in Leah Cypess' Mistwood/Nightspell blog tour. You know, the awesome one where you get an entry for every post you comment on into a chance to win a one of a kind, totally marked up, doodled up, secreted up copy of Mistwood? Yes. That one.

And to go out with a bang, I have a never been seen deleted scene from Mistwood for you guys!

This is the final post in the Nightspell blog tour, and your last chance to enter to win an annotated copy of Mistwood – so I thought I’d end off with a peek at a deleted scene from Mistwood.

Many, many things changed during my revision of Mistwood – scenes were added, removed, shortened, lengthened, and changed. The book was much improved as a result, but there was one scene in particular that both my editor and I regretted removing – a dream scene in which Isabel recalls an episode from the Shifter’s past. We agreed that the scene didn’t advance the story and had to go – but of course, with the internet, nothing is gone forever. And since it was early in the book, it’s not very spoilery. So here it is…

That night she dreamed she was hunting.

The night was dark and humid around her, warm wet air settling heavily on her skin. She was dressed for speed and stealth, silk trousers and a long tunic, her waist-length hair bound in a braid that slapped against her back as she ran. The only real weight on her was the sword belted to her left hip. The short-bladed knife in her right hand weighed almost nothing. She held it low as she ran.

The man she was hunting waited in a small clearing surrounded by tall dark trees. He had not been foolish enough to light a fire, but that made no difference to her pursuit. She could smell where he had gone; scents as clear as footprints led her straight down a near-invisible trail, up a steep incline and through patches of ferns to the tiny clear space hidden among the trees.

There were four of them, three men and a woman. Isabel’s lips pulled up in a grin as she stepped into the clearing and threw the knife.

It was a good, clean throw; she felt her muscles clench and unclench, her fingers open smoothly, and watched with a thrill of pleasure as the knife sliced through the night air. It hit the woman in the throat. Her hood fell back as she staggered, raising pale hands to her neck. A wealth of dark hair spilled out, revealing a slightly horsey face already going slack. She made a gurgling sound as she fell.

Isabel didn’t bother to watch her die. Her attention was on the other men, particularly one of them: a tall youth of about twenty, with dark red hair and a similarly horsey face. He, too, was watching her instead of his sister. As their eyes locked, the dark-haired woman’s body hit the ground with a thump, and one of the other men made a strangled sound

“Thallene,” the boy said. His eyes flickered to her sword, then to her empty right hand. “It was foolish to let the knife go. She was no threat to you.”

“It seemed like an appropriate way to announce my presence.” Isabel’s voice was low and husky, almost gravelly; not her voice at all. The voice of someone named Thallene. In the dream, this seemed natural. “And it will save us some trouble later. Treason means death for all the traitor’s kin. Did you not know that?”

“Just living under your father’s rule means death for everyone, eventually.” The other two men were silent, watching. “At least she died clean. Better than living under a mad king.”

“How fortunate for you that you think so.” Isabel/Thallene drew her sword.

He laughed at her. “Put that toy away, girl. No matter how many lessons you’ve sneaked from the master-at-arms, I’ve been training since I was a toddler. And I have never been defeated.”

It was true. It was the reason she had come after him with a sword. The plotters were too numerous and dedicated for his death to stop them; she needed him humiliated.

She stalked toward him, and he sighed loudly as his blade scraped against his scabbard. “I’ll do my best not to hurt you.”

“I appreciate that,” Isabel said, and darted forward.

She could have killed him right then; he wasn’t expecting a thrust, not that soon and not that fast. But if she had, her success would have been attributed to luck, and she might as well have poisoned him and saved herself the trouble. She wanted him to take her seriously. So she left a scratch below his collarbone, just deep enough to sting, and danced back.

“I make no such promises,” she said.

There was still no hint of doubt in his eyes. He leveled his sword at her and lunged.

She kept pace with him for a while, even letting him get close to her skin a few times. They lunged back and forth, struck and parried, circled, occasionally met in a swift flurry of thrusts and parries before breaking apart. Slowly the smugness faded from his eyes, though it was not yet replaced by concern. He had realized that he was going to have to work. He had not yet realized that he was going to lose.

She made herself match his heavy breathing, and willed a sheen of sweat onto her face. Her victory had to believable. She let her foot twist under her, fell backward, and painted panic on her face as he lunged down at her. She waited until the last possible second before she twisted to the side and parried.

He had been aiming to kill. His thrust drove his sword straight into the ground, throwing him off balance for a split second that was all she needed. Her sword hissed as it slid along his; and finally, when her sword point ripped his tunic, she saw dismay slide onto his face. He knew now that he was going to lose. He knew now that he was going to die. She smiled.

And in that second, her sword shimmered and disappeared.

The loss of weight threw her completely off balance, and she fell backward for real, landing flat on her back. She was on her feet in a second, before her opponent could even pull his sword from the ground. Her heart was pounding, more in fury than in fear, as she whipped her head around to stare at the other two men in the clearing.

But they both seemed as startled as she was, one gaping so widely she could see his teeth, the other making high-pitched gurgling noises. There was a sound in the woods behind her -- barely a sound, more like a whisper of wind. Isabel whirled just as the sorcerer stepped out from between the trees and leveled a staff at her. Blue fire erupted from it and hit her full in the face.

It tingled. It also obscured her view of the clearing. Isabel shook her head irritably, and the fire faded and dissipated, feathery tendrils of blue smoke writhing away from her and fading into the darkness. She raised her eyebrows at the sorcerer.

“Did you think I would come here unprotected?”

He stared at her from dark eyes sunken into stretched-out skin. He knew as well as she did what spell he had just used, and what it would have taken to protect herself from it. She carried no staff, wore no bespelled cloth, and had not uttered a single syllable of the protection spell. Several long seconds, and then she saw realization dawn in those hollowed-out eyes. His mouth opened to reveal crooked yellow teeth. “You’re -- ”

She had no way to kill him before he finished the sentence, so she interrupted him instead. “ -- wearing the Stone of Tarnath. Yes. Nothing you do can touch me.”

That confused him long enough for her to locate her sword. He couldn’t have translocated it far and still had enough energy left for the death spell; and indeed, it lay hidden in a bed of ferns a few yards from his feet. She couldn’t see the steel itself, but she could see the way the ferns were bent by its weight. She took a second to judge the angles, then leapt at him.

It took him by surprise, which disappointed her. She had expected him to call her sword into his own hand and try to impale her on it. Rapidly revising her plans, she shifted her weight as she struck so that the two of them tumbled sideways to the ground, a few feet closer to where her sword lay. He fell beneath her, and she distinctly heard a bone crack.

She considered killing him then... but no, it wouldn’t serve the story she was weaving to have the princess kill a man with her bare hands. It was too bestial. She wanted the traitors’ fear, but she also wanted their respect. She let him roll her over, cried out, and let him wrap his hands around her throat as she reached with one arm into the ferns.

The sword was farther away than she had thought. If he had squeezed his hands together then, he would have known the truth beyond a doubt. And she would have had no choice but to kill him without steel. But he only tightened them slightly, and growled, “What is the Stone of Tarnath?”

Her arm stretched out, impossibly far, and her fingers closed around the leather hilt. She smiled up at the sorcerer.

“There is no such thing as the Stone of Tarnath,” she said, and drove the sword into his side.

He screamed as he died, and for just a second he did squeeze his hands together. She rolled him off her and got to her feet, yanking the sword out in a spray of blood. Her attack had taken less than a minute; the other three men still stood there, gaping at her. She made her arm shake slightly as she took one step toward them.

“Idiot,” she said to the horse-faced boy. “No one who truly cared about the realm would hire a rogue sorcerer to aid him in his treason. You might as well hire a band of wolves to take care of your fox problem.”

Out of the corner of her eye, she saw the mouth of one of the men tighten, and knew that he agreed with her. Had argued the point, probably, and been overruled. Excellent. She kept one eye on him as she spoke, molding her words to his facial expressions.

“You are lying to yourself if you truly believe you’re doing this for the realm. Or is it only your fellow traitors you’re lying to?”

“I’m not lying to anyone,” the boy said, throwing his head back. “I have no wish to be king. I won’t even allow myself to be considered, when the dukes choose the new ruler.”

Could he possibly still think it was when? Even if would have been a sign of dangerous overconfidence, now that he had seen her fight.

“Oh, I don’t say you’re doing it for power,” Isabel said. The tight-mouthed man blinked; this had been the sticking point for him, the reason he had followed this traitor. Because he had known the boy wasn’t power-mad. Isabel had to hide a smile as she continued. “But your personal need for vengeance will not benefit the realm either.”

The traitor’s mouth tightened. “It’s not my personal need. Any king who would execute a man in front of his family, without any proof -- ”

“There was proof,” Isabel lied. “And you know what it was.”

“There was nothing!” he shouted, but he was too angry to sound honest. Next to her cool composure, his truth sounded like the lie. The second man, too, was beginning to look uncertain.

Time to finish this, then; there wasn’t much more she could gain by talking. She sorted swiftly through her options, judged the expressions on the men’s faces again, weighed the anger in the boy’s eyes, and lowered her sword.

“You are a son trying to avenge his father. You’ve dishonored yourself, but I can understand why. I’ll grant you exile, if you want it.” He just looked at her, and she was suddenly afraid that he was truly considering it. She chose her next words with care, and loaded them with sincerity. “I love my father too.”

Like a charm, rage rippled across his face. “Your father is a coward and a murderer not fit to sweep out the stables, much less sit on a throne. He won’t continue his cruelty while I live.”

“Then you give me no choice,” she said sadly, and lifted her sword.

She wanted to end it now, as soon as possible, but it still had to be believable. She breathed loudly as she fought, even stumbled once, while slowly leading him where she wanted him. There was a hollow in the ground just the size of a foot, not deep enough to throw a man off balance unless he stepped into it just right. It took a few attempts to maneuver him into exactly the right spot, but finally, after a series of parries where she barely watched his sword because she was concentrating so hard on his feet, she had him arranged correctly. She let his next parry knock her blade a bit too far off center, and leapt back with a whimper. He grinned fiercely and lunged.

His foot hit the hollow just as her sword parried his thrust. She put more strength than she should have possessed into that parry, enough to insure he would lose his balance. He felt it, and she saw his eyes widen with horror as his fall carried him straight onto the point of her sword.

To his credit, he died soundlessly.

Isabel let the sword go, and the corpse thudded heavily to the ground. She had nothing to fear from the other two, though she was sure they both carried blades. They were backing away even before she turned to face them. She stood and looked at them for a long moment, well aware of how she must look: slim and fierce, with dirt and blood smeared on her hair and skin. Someone would make a tapestry of it, no doubt. Although tapestries took time; the minstrels would be faster with the songs.

But only if these two told the tale. She inclined her head toward them. “Thank you.”

The first man, the one she was counting on, stammered, “Your Highness?”

“You could have killed me for him. I could not have fought off two of you.” A laughable statement, but they wouldn’t know that. “I know he is your kin, and I know my father has hurt your House. But I want all this to end. He would have torn the realm apart.” She turned to look down at the corpse, lying on its side with eyes open and her sword protruding from its chest. Blood still dripped slowly from the sword hilt to the grass. Regret shaded her voice. “You should go.”

One of them cleared his throat, but said nothing. Twigs crackled beneath their feet as they went. Into exile, eventually, but first they would spread the tale. The brave and beautiful princess, the fight she had won against all odds, her noble words. She had not just killed a single rebel tonight. She had killed his rebellion.

Isabel smiled, the fierce proud smile of a hunter standing over her prey.

She woke up with that smile still on her lips, the scent of blood and fear in her nostrils, the taste of victory in her mouth. She was surprised, after a moment, to feel blankets weighing down her legs, and a tangle of hair sticking to her neck instead of hanging down her back in a single long braid. Just a moment, and then Thallene and her enemies and the dark clearing faded into the mist of dreams and memories, leaving only a new confidence and a long-overdue, intensely satisfying certainty. Her smile widened as she tilted her head back and stretched, then rolled out of bed and onto the floor in one smooth motion. Her body was taut with anticipation of the coming day. She still didn’t know exactly why she was here, but the dream confirmed for her what she was here to do. To protect her king, against all odds, no matter what.

It was time to hunt again.

Well, if that doesn't make a girl want to read these books again! So what do you guys think? Should it have stayed in? Is it a nice addition later on?

And don't forget to catch up on any posts you might have missed (full list here!) and leave your comments/entries by December 22!

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Book Trailer Premiere: Flyaway by Helen Landalf

Hitting shelves this week is a Helen Handalf's debut Flyaway, and I'm premiering the trailer to you guys right now! So check it out, then make sure you pick up the book on Tuesday!

Does this not make you guys even more excited to grab up this book? Let me know your thoughts on this trailer too, I love it!

Saturday, December 17, 2011

In My Mailbox

It's been a few weeks since I did an IMM, so this is all the books since the last time I posted one.

For Review:
A Want so Wicked by Suzanne Young (LOVE this book)
A Touch Morbid by Leah Clifford (Also amazing!)
Fall From Grace by Charles Benoit (So makes you think!)
Drowning Instinct by Ilsa J. Bick
Dark Inside by Jeyn Roberts (A BIR2011 pick!)
The Knife and the Butterfly by Ashley Hope Perez
Catch & Release by Blythe Woolston
Wicked Sweet by Mar'ce Merrell
Of Poseidon by Anna Banks
Monument 14 by Emmy Laybourne
Holding on to Zoe by George Ella Lyon
(Huge thanks to Suzanne Young, HarperTeen, Charles Benoit, Lerner Publishing, Simon & Schuster, and Macmillan)

For Review:
Where It Began by Ann Redisch Stampler
All These Lives by Sarah Wylie
Struck by Jennifer Bosworth
Before You Go by James Preller
The Downside to Being Charlie by Jenny Torres Sanchez
Dreaming Awake by Gwen Hayes
Living Violet by Jaime Reed
The Raft by S.A. Bodeen
52 Reasons to Hate My Father by Jessica Brody
Hunted by Cheryl Rainfield
Just Flirt by Laura Bowers
(Huge thanks to SimonPulse, Macmillan, Jenny Torres Sanchez, Penguin, KensingtonTeen, and WestSide Books!)

I have quite a few books signed to me from signings, etc... but I have to admit, the inscription Suzanne put in my ARC of A Want so Wicked is one of my absolute favorites... and because it made me smile on a day when I really needed it, I'm sharing it with you guys now. And while I have gotten a lot of awesome books these past few weeks, this one is definitely one of my favorites... and I am excited to read it in ARC form and fall in love with the book and characters all over again.

So that was my last few weeks! Let me know what you guys got this week! 

IMM is a weekly meme hosted by The Story Siren.

#BIR2011: Leverage by Joshua C. Cohen

Today is the last day of BIR2011. Kind of sad, but kind of awesome too. Hopefully you guys have enjoyed my favorites of the year, and maybe even found some new favorites of your own! But before we say goodbye, I have one more book to gush about.

Leverage by Joshua C. Cohen

I love, love, LOVE male POV books. I love gritty, raw, intense and painful ones. I love ones that aren't afraid to go no holds barred. And this one did all of that. Actually, it did it twice. It's dual POV, between a football player and a gymnast, two guys who find an odd friendship in a seriously rough situation.

This book is definitely one that won't be for everyone, but I still think everyone needs to give it a chance. Yeah, it's rather male and testosterone driven. Yes, there's plenty of swearing and crudeness. But this book is poignant and gutting and gripping. I could not put this book down, nor could I get it out of my head. Even books that are heavily emotional do not always make me physically ache. This one did.

Don't let the cover scare you away, or turn you off. This book pulls in bullying in a big way, friendship, trust, and coming of age. Realistic and utterly genuine, this is a book that will stick with me for years to come.

And if all that isn't enough to convince you to give this one a try, then check out this interview with Joshua, who, by the way, is one of the nicest people I've ever had the chance to talk with.

Describe Kurt and Danny in 3 words each. 

Kurt = Hulking, Disfigured, Tender: Danny = Tiny, Anxious, Driven.

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

I'd pair Kurt with Ponyboy from "The Outsiders" because I think they're kindred spirits and I'd pair Danny with Lisbeth Salander from "The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo" so she could protect him.

Which character was more challenging for you to write: Kurt or Danny? 

Kurt. His character's background and physicality were the exact opposite of mine growing up so I really had to dig a long time and root around in his head before I felt confident enough to speak in his voice

What god/goddess would be your nemesis? 

I'm going with the Greek God Ares (Aries) for this one. He's the god of war and he's pretty much a d*ck. I mean, come on! He's the god of war and murder! How much more do I have to say? I would love to stamp out war and murder but it doesn't seem to be going away anytime soon. So, yeah, Ares is my nemesis.

What kind of dinosaur would you describe yourself as? 

I've been doing some Discovery Channel surfing on the internet and based on the following description of the Triceratops, I have to say I'm feeling a bit of a love connection with this triple-horned brute. "Triceratops' brain was about the same size as a human fist, suggesting the dinosaur did not have very acute senses and wasn’t the brightest of beasts. Nevertheless, it was adept at fending for itself, using its scissorlike teeth to slice through vegetation." Okay, so minus the scissorlike teeth, I'm thinking he sounds like the Homer Simpson of the dinosaur world and that's how I kind of feel on a day to day basis. Triceratops, you're my dino!

If you haven't yet read this book, now's your chance! I have one copy up for grabs to one lucky winner!

To enter, just fill out THIS form.

This contest is US Only (No PO Boxes) and ends December 24.

And don't forget to stop by the BIR2011 blog for the last day of awesomeness over there, featuring Delirium and The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer!

Friday, December 16, 2011

#BIR2011: A Touch Mortal by Leah Clifford

BIR2011 is almost finished, but that doesn't mean things are slowing down. Today's pick is a book that I read in two sittings, only because I started it at about 9 at night. It was more of a forced to go to sleep than wanting to put the book down kind of thing. Then I did much fangirling to the author. Well, while I read too. The  book?

A Touch Mortal by Leah Clifford.

I have always gravitated towards the darker stuff, and this one was perfect for me. A new take on suicide? I loved it. I loved the characters, and the writing. I loved the story. I might have hated the ending just a little, because it sort of punches you in the face, but still. So much love for this book. Add in the fact that Leah really and truly is one of the nicest people you will ever meet, and it's the icing on the already awesome cake.

But in so many ways, this book blew me away. Flaws that other people saw in it just weren't there for me. The reasons I loved it outshined everything else. Not to mention, there is more than one seriously hot boy in this one... a little something for everyone.

One of those supposed flaws, though, that I know people have disliked about this book is how fast Az and Eden fall for each other. Did that bother me when I read? No. If she had the option to go back and change it, would I want her to? No. And I am thinking maybe she wouldn't either, because instead of an interview today (which, I've already done one with her anyhow... and one with Luke...), Leah's giving her own little bit of: In Defense of Insta-Love.

Boy meets girl, girl meets boy. There’s a look exchanged and a single smile later, they’re ready to follow each other to the ends of the earth. It’s so cliché right? I mean, this never happens right? So why did I use it in A Touch Mortal?

In the first few pages of A Touch Mortal, we meet Eden. She’s alone, isolated from friends and family who are starting to forget her because of what she’s about to become—but she doesn’t know that. All she knows is that at her lowest, she’s alone on a beach. She has nothing. And then walking toward her is this gorgeous boy whose first action upon seeing her is to try to make her laugh. He even bets her a dinner date that he can get her to smile. Eden and the guy she meets—Az—catch each other off guard. They make each other feel good, feel different, feel NOT SAD. If you’ve ever been in a deep depression, one you’re fighting to escape, a single smile can be a lifeline.

Eden and Az fall for each other fast. They’re a summer whirlwind courtship and if they were a normal mortal couple, they might have even had a real shot at being happy. Of course, being a dark urban fantasy, that’s not exactly in the cards. A few weeks after they meet, they’re both dead (well…Eden’s more trapped between life and death) and their love is put to harder tests than it should ever have to endure.

So why am I such a fan of love at first sight? *g* Well, I can remember the exact place the guy I fell for was standing when I met him. Literally, my first thought when I set eyes on him was “Fuck, I’m in love with him.” Not that I was going to fall in love with him, that I WAS in love with him. The instant unexpected love wasn’t anything I wanted, that’s for sure. I was single and had just come home from traveling all summer. But once I saw him, it felt like everything clicked into place. Little did I know, he was feeling the same about me. I write about insta-love because it happened to me. I know it’s real. It led me to adventures and places I never dreamed of, and I hope one day it happens to you. Just try to make sure when it does, you’re not smitten with a half-Fallen angel. Then again, you can’t help who you love, right?

So there you guys have it, straight from the writer herself. And this really just makes me want to pull down my copy of A Touch Mortal and reread... and fall in love with these characters from page one all over again.

And in case you haven't yet read this one, now is your chance! I have one copy of the book for one lucky winner!

To enter, just fill out THIS form.

This contest is US only (No PO Boxes) and ends December 23.

And for even more 2011 awesomeness, head over to the BIR blog, where we are featuring the next up in our group picks of amazing books: Hereafter by Tara Hudson (man, I so love that book!)