Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Book Review: Double by Jenny Valentine

SUMMARY: When the sixteen-year-old runaway Chap is mistaken for a missing boy named Cassiel, his life changes dramatically. Chap takes on Cassiel's identity, gaining the family and friends he's always dreamed of having. But becoming someone else isn't as easy as he hoped--and Chap isn't the only one hiding a secret. As he teeters on the brink of discovery and begins to unravel the mystery behind Cassiel's disappearance, Chap realizes that he's in much deeper danger than he could have imagined.

After all, you can't just steal a life and expect to get away with it.

Award-winning author Jenny Valentine delivers an explosive mystery where dark secrets, betrayal, and loss pave the way for one teen's chance at redemption.


Though predictable, partly inherent to the set up, there is still a soft intensity to this one that drives it forward. With some very out there moments that pique reader interest, and an overall compelling central character, Double will pull readers in and keep them engaged, even if they are working to figure things out. Beacuse of the way Valentine propels this one, even if you guess it, there is still something satisfying and a bit gutting about finding out the truth behind everything.

Chap is a highly sympathetic character, one who readers will side with and understand. Juggled around, and definitely delt a hard hand in life, there is a clear motive behind what he does and how things have led to him at this point. Loyal in quiet ways, and determined in some bold ones, Chap is both sweet and endearing. Though his development did seem to lack in just a few aspects, considering the mystery built and the double life he is leading, it makes sense.

There is a strong drive behind this one, and though some parts lagged, there was an engaging aspect throughout. With some depth mixed into funny and lighter situations, Valentine hits on some heavy concepts and emotions. There is a strong family element to this one, and a well crafted underlying murder mystery. Though a little more simple in writing, and not quite as strong in voice as this reader would have liked, Double is, overall, an interesting read.

Source: Netgalley 
Reading level: Ages 12 and up 
Hardcover: 256 pages 
Publisher: Hyperion Book CH
Reprint edition: February 21, 2012

Character Interview: Kim from Katana

Dropping in today is Kim, the martial arts master from Cole Gibsen's debut Katana! With plenty of secrets of his own, and kick butt fighting skills, Kim is definitely a character you want to get to know, so here he is!

What was your first impression of Rileigh?

As the great Miyamoto Musashi has said, “It is difficult to understand the universe if you only study one planet.” And yet, knowing this, I still couldn’t pull my gaze from her eyes.

What's the best part about using martial arts over other fighting forms?

Again, I must divert to Musashi who has said, “The true science of martial arts means practicing them in such a way that they will be useful at any time, and to teach them in such a way that they will be useful in all things.”

How'd you come about running your own dojo?

I could tell you that it’s a front that allows me to continue my daily operations as an operative for a secret government agency called The Network, but of course that would be completely ridiculous.

What is the first thing that came to mind when you woke up this morning?

The same thing that is on my mind every morning; finding Senshi and making sure history does not repeat itself.

What kind of dinosaur would you describe yourself as?

Whichever kind can grip a sword.

Thank you, Kim, for stopping by and congrats, Cole, on the release!

Katana hits shelves March 8 so make sure you check it out!

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Book Review: Nothing Like You by Lauren Strasnick

SUMMARY: "You think he's yours but he's not," I thought. "You think he's yours but really he's mine."

When Holly loses her virginity to Paul, a guy she barely knows, she assumes their encounter is a one-night stand. After all, Paul is too popular to even be speaking to Holly...and he happens to have a long-term girlfriend, Saskia. But ever since Holly's mom died six months ago, Holly has been numb to the world, and she's getting desperate to feel something, anything -- so when Paul keeps pursuing her, Holly relents. Paul's kisses are a welcome diversion...and it's nice to feel like the kind of girl that a guy like Paul would choose.

But things aren't so simple with Saskia around. Paul's real girlfriend is willowy and perfect...and nothing like Holly. To make matters worse, she and Holly are becoming friends. Suddenly the consequences of Holly's choices are all too real, and Holly stands to lose more than she ever realized she had.


The Short Version: 
Luring yet frustrating, Nothing Like Her is a heartbreaking tale of mistakes and pain. With a main character who likable despite her flaws, and a basic yet compelling story, this one has a an addictive quality to it. Strong in voice and heavily emotional, Nothing Like Her is a solid read.

The Extended Version: 
Holly is the kind of girl who wouldn’t usually be ‘the other girl’ in a relationship, and the guilt she battles with shows this strongly. While her reasons for even going with it aren’t completely explained, the basic need for just needing some kind of positive affection does come through loud and clear. Trying to be a pillar for her father, and missing her mother greatly, Holly is very obviously in a different state of mind during the book than her usual self. Hiding her biggest secret from her best friend, and trying her hardest to figure everything out on her own, Holly’s characterization is touching and well done. While her reasons for some things aren’t always explained, and she makes a few frustrating decisions, there is still a heaviness to her story that will pull readers in.

Nils, her best friend, is a bit of a mess in his own right, flitting between girls and letting a slight barrier stay between himself and Holly. Though he tries to be there, he doesn’t push too hard when she pushes him away or insists she can’t talk about something that is so clearly bothering her. While there is a certain level of respect between the two, this reader felt not only as if he gave up too easily at times, but also lets some things get to him too much. Over reactive to some things, he leaves a bit of a bad taste in readers’ mouths, despite being an intriguing and amusing character for much of the book.

Paul, a manipulative, selfish jerk, is a character who is hard to like, even from the start. Clearly giving off signs that he’s only with Holly to get laid, readers will see right through him. While Holly’s reasons for even going with him the first night aren’t clear, and the reasons he is so interested are remain cloaked as well, there is a thrill that comes with his pursuit of her all the same. Still, there are few redeeming qualities about Paul, and Strasnick writes the story in such a way that readers will be rooting for Saskia right alongside Holly.

Rounding out the cast is Jeff, Holly’s dad, who has a gentleness to him that will melt readers, and Saskia, Paul’s long term girlfriend and Holly’s new friend. Saskia is a very well done character, open and caring, yet far from a doormat. The reasons Holly would want her friendship over anything Paul could over offer are clear, as are the reasons she doesn’t just come clean on her own, and both go far to build the characters of Holly and Saskia.

While there are several cliché elements to this plot, Strasnick weaves them together in a good way. Steadily paced, and with some heavy and emotional scenes, this one is as much a story of figuring things out and making mistakes as it is navigating the love and lust battlefields. With a main character who goes through tremendous growth, both directly related to what she’s doing with Paul and other factors, and a shifting and constant reaction and play out because of it, this one doesn’t shy back from the full scope of cheating. Though there were a few parts that didn’t seem quite fleshed enough, and the ending was a bit of a letdown, there is still an underlying strength that carries this story.

The writing is well done, giving strong voice to Holly and keeping readers engaged throughout. Very internal, yet without feeling like readers are constantly in Holly’s head, the full emotional scale is splashed across the pages. With shifting views of different people, readers will feel as though they are right there with Holly, fighting the battles with her.

Though lacking in a few areas, Nothing Like You is an emotional and gripping read. Holly’s struggle is a real and painful one, putting her in situations that don’t have an easy answer to them. Despite her flaws, she is an easy character to like and root for, and the bulk of the cast is well rounded and developed. Well written, and holding steady in pacing and plot, Nothing Like You is a quick but affecting read.

Source: Purchased 
Reading level: Ages 14 and up 
Paperback: 240 pages 
Publisher: Simon Pulse
Publication Date for Paperback: August 3, 2010

Character Interview: Andy from Someone Else's Life

Stopping in today is the charming and funny Andy from Katie Dale's debut Someone Else's Life. Though he lives in England, Andy visits the States during the book with his girlfriend Rosie, and he's been nice enough to answer a few questions about that and more!

What was your favorite thing about visiting the United States?

Finally getting to go travelling with Rosie. It felt like a new beginning for us – jetting off on a plane and discovering new sights and experiences together. Me and her against the world. To be fair, we could’ve been anywhere really – with her everything’s just a bit more magical, you know?

What is your biggest regret with Rosie?

That I didn’t miss my train after the Prom and go round to see her to find out what was wrong. I was stupid and hurt – I thought it was because… (shrugs) I thought she’d dumped me. (sighs) I had no idea what she was really going through and I should have been there for her. (shakes his head) I was an idiot.

Your best memory?

When we were at the top of the Empire State Building on her birthday and I gave her that birthstone necklace she’d liked earlier in the Village. Her eyes went so wide and she was so surprised! Then she looked up at me like I was the only person in the world, and I fell in love with her all over again.

What's it like to kiss Rosie?


Boxers or briefs?

Boxers, mate! No contest.

What kind of dinosaur would you describe yourself as?

Ha! Good one. Um, a Triceratops I reckon. I’m not out to attack anyone, but I’ve got horns if I need them – if you know what I mean.

Thank you, Andy, for stopping in and congrats, Katie, on the release!

Someone Else's Life is out now, so make sure you pick it up! It's emotional but endearing and funny, and has a great cast of characters!

Monday, February 27, 2012

Author Interview + Contest: Hannah Clark

Interviews are always more interesting when authors mix things up, and today's guest as done just that! I bring you guys Hannah Clark, author of Cobbogoth, answering my questions in haiku form.

Describe Norah through James' eyes.

She is wicked sweet,
And her kiwi-green eyes are
The most beautiful.

What was the hardest part about writing Cobbogoth?

Rewriting again,
And a again, and again, and
Again, and again . . .

If you could pair Norah with any character from any book, who would you pick for her?

No one, I’m afraid;
Without James, her other-soul,
Norah is not ‘Nor.’

Who is your YA book boyfriend/crush?

Peeta is, I think
The closest character to
My darlin’, Michael.

What kind of office supply would you describe yourself as?

A black, Pilot G-2,
Bold point pen could be me.
But I’m a person.

Thank you, Hannah, for answering my questions!

And if this has you eager to check out Cobbogoth, you're in luck! I have one copy for a lucky winner up for grabs!

To enter, just fill out THIS form!

This contest is US only and ends March 5.

Saturday, February 25, 2012

In My Mailbox + Breathless Reads Tour

So, you guys just get a picture of the books again this week, no Toby. He's doing well after his surgery, but he got his stitches out on Wednesday and of course promptly messed up the suture line where I had another mass removed off his back. He rolled around on it, and tore part of the line back open. So needless to say, the poor guy is still in the cone of shame. That being said, I got some awesome books this week so lets get to it!

For Review: 
Supernaturally by Kiersten White (AWESOME so far)
Balthazar by Claudia Gray (LOVE this one)
Awkward by Marni Bates
Burning Emerald by Jaime Reed
Creeping with the Enemy by Kimberly Reid

The Disenchantments by Nina LaCour (One of my favorite books ever)

So that was my week in books! Also exciting this past week was the Breathless Reads tour, which hit up the Dallas area Thursday night. Featuring Beth Revis, Andrea Cremer, Marie Lu and Jessica Spotswood, this was easily one of the best signings and panels I've been to. The questions the moderator asked were fabulous, and different than a lot of what gets asked at events... including what is each author's favorite kill in their books. Oh, yeah. They went there. And I have to say, Beth's answer was the *best* ever. If you ever meet her, make sure you ask her about that. And about naming her characters. 

But really, it was so obvious how well these ladies get along even behind closed doors, and how interested they are in what the others have to say, even after several tour stops before this one. I am so glad they hit up Dallas and that I had the chance to meet them! 

Group picture with the lovely authors, and some of the Dallas bloggers! 
(Rose, Stacy, Nancy, Arena and me)

So that was my week! Hope everyone else had a great week too! Let me know if you saw these ladies on any of their stops, and what books you guys got! 

IMM is a weekly meme hosted by The Story Siren.

Friday, February 24, 2012

Author Top Ten: Julie Chibbaro

Hitting up the blog today is Julie Chibbaro, author of Deadly, a medical mystery that pulls in Typhoid Mary. Instead of an interview, I asked Julie to write me a top ten list... and fittingly to my blog name, she went with her Top Ten Addictions, in no particular order:

1. Thrillers
2. Carrot cake icing
3. Facebook
4. Classic sci-fi films
5. Research
6. True crime
7. Journaling
8. Baking chocolate chip cookies
9. Medical mysteries
10. iPhone

Deadly is on shelves now in paperback, with a new cover from the hardback, so make sure you guys pick it up!

Now that I have a craving for some carrot cake... you guys should let me know what some of your addictions are!

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Book Review: The Knife and the Butterfly by Ashley Hope Perez


After a marijuana-addled brawl with a rival gang, 16-year-old Azael wakes up to find himself surrounded by a familiar set of concrete walls and a locked door. Juvie again, he thinks. But he can't really remember what happened or how he got picked up. He knows his MS13 boys faced off with some punks from Crazy Crew. There were bats, bricks, chains. A knife. But he can't remember anything between that moment and when he woke behind bars.

Azael knows prison, and something isn't right about this lockup. No phone call. No lawyer. No news about his brother or his homies. The only thing they make him do is watch some white girl in some cell. Watch her and try to remember.

Lexi Allen would love to forget the brawl, would love for it to disappear back into the Xanax fog it came from. And her mother and her lawyer hope she chooses not to remember too much about the brawl—at least when it's time to testify.

Lexi knows there's more at stake in her trial than her life alone, though. She's connected to him, and he needs the truth. The knife cut, but somehow it also connected.


Though interesting in concept, with a mildly predictable but still good twist, The Knife and the Butterfly admittedly fell flat for me. My biggest issue was the voice, a male perspective that felt like it was trying entirely too hard. With the amount of focus on sex related stuff even at times that felt completely out of the blue and unnecessary, some of the specific terms used, and an almost overuse of swearing, this one felt like it was forcing both the male mind and the gangbanger elements in an unrealistic way. While I don’t usually have a problem with these elements, it didn’t come off right as fitting even the character here. I had a really hard time getting fully into the book because of this, and though I admit I am really picky on how male voices are done, it was definitely detracting here.

Apart from that, the characterization was, overall, well done. With a narrator who definitely had some issues, and was also in a lot of ways just a boy failed by the system and trying to figure everything out on his own, this one has a few times of tugging at the heart. Intensely loyal to his friends, and still very loving towards his family no matter what’s happened there, Azael has some great standing ground. Lexi, too, had an interesting mindset, with some glimpses straight into her thoughts through journal entries. Though her specific development wasn’t quite as strong as her overall role in the book as Azael’s, she still had some great moments. The way these two interplay is uniquely presented, and there are definitely some creative aspects to this book. While overall, I didn’t really connect to either character, I could definitely see what the author was going for with both characters, and there was some great development in both of them.

Though I figured out what the big twist was well before it happened, Perez still builds to it nicely. Hitting on some rough issues, and unafraid to include some harsh realism, this one definitely has its merits despite the flaws. There are a few elements that will make readers think, and also some emotional and sorrow filled scenes where the writing starts to shine. While I personally had some issues with this one, I still think it’s got some important aspects to it, and is definitely one to be checked out.

Source: ARC received from publisher in exchange for an honest review
Reading Level: 14 and up 
Hardcover: 264 pages 
Publisher: Carolrhoda Books
Publication Date: February 1, 2012

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Character Interview + Contest: Jarrod from A Touch Morbid

As you guys know, I love doing character interviews.... and when said character is a hot boy that makes me melt from one of my favorite books, it's even more awesome. And today is exactly that. So meet Jarrod, a charming and sweet guy with a little bit of a hero complex but for all the right reasons from Leah Clifford's A Touch Morbid, the whirlwind, mindblowing follow up to A Touch Mortal. Then stick around for your chance to win an ARC, because you want to read this book!

What single thing do you wish you had done when you were still alive?

There’s not a hell of a lot different between being alive and being dead. I can do all the same things. Well, except for touching people. Plus, now I pretty much can’t die minus Eden taking me out, and she’s not doing that anymore. I don’t know. I guess I should just say something cliché like I wish I’d gone to Disneyland or some shit.

What's the best part about being part of Eden's territory?

I know Eden’s not gonna turn on me. We’re a team here. At least me and her. And Az I guess. If I’d ended up with Kristen or Madeline or Vaughn, I wouldn’t have that. I got lucky. I don’t ever forget that. When things go bad, Eden and I back each other up.

If you could run one of the territories, could you? 

Well…I don’t think our territory runs like the others. We all kind of work together. I don’t want my own territory.

When you first became a Sider, what was your reaction?

Pissed. Instead of being dead like I planned I woke up with no place to go and no one who even remembered who I was. It sucked. But running into Eden and joining up with her crew changed everything. Bad times don't last forever. Kinda makes me wonder what would have happened if I’d stayed alive, you know?

So... I hear you might find someone special this time around. Anything you can say about that?

Not really. She’s…we’re still trying to figure stuff out. Her being mortal makes it kind of… Actually, I shouldn’t say any more. Do I like her? *glances away* Yeah. Everything’s complicated right now, with the Bound and the Fallen after us, so it’s not exactly the best timing.

What's the best kiss you've ever had?

*shifts uncomfortably* It was in the snow…with her. I’m not really good at talking about this kind of thing. Can we change the subject?

Boxers or briefs? 

 *smirks* Smooth, but no. Nice try though.

Thank you, Jarrod, for stopping in and congrats, Leah, on another awesome release! This one hits shelves next Tuesday, but you can pick A Touch Mortal in the meantime to tide you over and get started. Trust me, these books rock in so many ways!

And to pique your interest for this series, I have an ARC for one lucky winner!

To enter, just fill out THIS form!

This contest is US only, and ends February 28.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Guest Post: Jessica Shirvington

Stopping in today is Embrace author Jessica Shirvington, to talk about developing secondary characters. As interesting as it is to find out how an author learns who their protagonist is, I always like knowing how they bring those side characters to life too. So check out her way of going about it!

Supporting characters are vital to any good story. They are the basis for believability and, in a series like Embrace, their stories become more and more important as the books go on.

When I began Embrace I spent a lot of time developing the minor characters. Originally, my focus was on positioning them for Violet’s benefit – to provide her with interesting and conflicting personalities, rather than replications of the same person with different hair and eye color over and over. On top of that there needed to be a balance of supportive and opposing characters and sometimes within each category an imposter (a goodie that really isn’t / an evil mastermind that has good potential). All of these elements provide a good base of characters that can support and challenge Violet.

It was important to understand the background of each minor character before I committed to the role they played in the story – so I wrote background profiles for each on them and timelines (since some characters have existed for several hundreds of years). As I developed each of these characters it was easy for me to see where I wanted some of them to end up, but at the same time, others have really surprised me.

I like to remain open to change if events require it. Sometimes I find myself writing a scene and once I’m in it, whilst it plays out for Violet as I had planned, I realize that – for the minor characters – I need to be willing to adapt. I call it the “BUY IT” rule. At the end of each scene I read it back – once focusing solely on Violet and then, turning my attention to the reactions of the other characters involved. If at any point I read a comment or a reaction and think to myself – no, they wouldn’t say that/react that way – I don’t buy it, and I have to re-write. If I don’t buy it, readers certainly won’t.

In Enticed (bk2, out in Sept 2012) quite a few new characters are introduced and they throw a new element into the story, which is really exciting. I’ve had a lot of fun with these characters and introducing them to Violet and the other characters from Embrace. Their arrival provides the ability to develop characters like Violet’s best friend, Steph, and also introduce a new perspective for Violet to consider.

Embrace is an ongoing series, so character development happens quickly for some characters and more slowly for others. Sometimes I get so excited and want to write more about the minor characters that interest me, but I have to hold myself back and refocus on the three core characters – Violet, Lincoln and Phoenix. The key is to be open to any character stepping up and surprising me. If their story can be more, then I definitely want to do them justice!

Thank you, Jessica, for the look into your writing process!

Embrace hits shelves March 6, so make sure you guys keep it on your radar!

Monday, February 20, 2012

Book Review: Pieces of Us by Maggie Gelbwasser


Two families. Four teens.

A summer full of secrets.

Every summer, hidden away in a lakeside community in upstate New York, four teens leave behind their old identities…and escape from their everyday lives.

Yet back in Philadelphia during the school year, Alex cannot suppress his anger at his father (who killed himself), his mother (whom he blames for it), and the girls who give it up too easily. His younger brother, Kyle, is angry too—at his abusive brother, and at their mother who doesn’t seem to care. Meanwhile, in suburban New Jersey, Katie plays the role of Miss Perfect while trying to forget the nightmare that changed her life. But Julie, her younger sister, sees Katie only as everything she’s not. And their mother will never let Julie forget it.

Up at the lake, they can be anything, anyone. Free. But then Katie’s secret gets out, forcing each of them to face reality—before it tears them to pieces.


This is a rough book, hard even for me to stomach at times. With four different characters, all of whom have some pretty hefty stuff they're dealing with, it can feel almost overboard at times. In truth, this is a book that left me emotionally damaged for a few days, a book that I had to really mull over for a few days before I was okay with it. It is definitely not a book for everyone, but it's one that I feel people need to at least try, because once you get past the feeling of being utterly eviscerated it is, truly, stunning.

All four of the characters narrate various chapters, so at one time or another, there is nothing held back from the reader for each... including Alex. He is not a character that you are meant to root for, and like, and side with. He is misogynistic, degrading, and infuriating. It is uncomfortable to be in the mind of someone like this, to see the world how they do. Yet without his direct perspective, this would have been a very different book because honestly? I got him. At least, mostly. I could see how his motivations kept him going, even if they made no actual sense to me, even if I did not in any way agree, I understood how he believed them. How he could put a girl up on a pedestal for being a virgin, then hate her for giving it up, even if she loved the guy. How he could do some of the things he did, and seem to feel no remorse, yet then seem to be kicking himself harder than anyone, just quietly. I can't say I loved Alex's character, but I loved the execution of his character. And in truth, I don't think I have ever hated a character with such vitriol as I did Alex, which is really a mark of how well Gelbwasser has done his characterization.

Katie is a different story, a character to definitely get behind and root for. While some of what happened with her didn't quite make sense - the way she kept everything so quiet especially - I think her overall storyline is so well done, however gutting it may be. Watching her fall from the top, rescind into herself, and all but give up on everything was horrendous to watch, especially being stuck in her mind for much of it yet also seeing it through the others' eyes too. I love this character, from the way she has a backwards progression to the way everything plays out in the end with her. Rivaling that is her sister Julie, who also has a backwards progression of sorts, and a character who most definitely left me with mixed feelings. As well done as her sister and Alex, Julie plays a vital role in the book even when it seems like she's extraneous.

Then there's Kyle, Alex's younger brother who is, in my mind, the biggest victim of them all. His story shattered me in a way that others didn't. I wanted nothing more than to hug this boy, and protect him from the world. His characterization is so strikingly well done, so enamoring, that it cannot easily be summed up. I held no ill will towards him, only sorrow and a deep drive for him to find something better in his life. Does he make mistakes, stand back and let some awful things happen? Yes. But do I understand why, did I get angry at him? Not a single time, because Gelbwasser weaves in his motivations and mindset so strongly that it's impossible for me not to understand him.

This is a very character and emotion driven book, centered around these four. The ways their stories intersect and split off again, the timeline that can easily be followed of catalysts up to the bigger events... it's all so well done. Gelbwasser holds nothing back in this book, from the rough language to the various levels of abuse, both sexual and emotional, this book is pure grit. It can be overwhelming, and it's definitely not an easy book to get through, but it has a beautiful story in the pain and fabulous writing to go with it. From Alex's degrading mindset to Julie's shifting view of the world, Gelbwasser nails every one of them, with a distinct difference in each voice and a flowing narrative between them.

My biggest issue with this book was in the depth of silence Katie held, and the way it seemed as though not a single person really noticed what was going on with her. I had to wonder how it never occurred to her that some of the things would repeat themselves, and though I do understand that she wanted to just forget what happened, it still made me raise an eyebrow. Hitting just a tad on potentially unrealistic there, everything else about this book had a stellar execution. This is a book that I will probably never be able to read again, but definitely one that will always stay with me, and one that was well worth the rough ride.

Source: Netgalley 
Reading level: Ages 14 and up 
Paperback: 336 pages 
Publisher: Flux
Publication Date: March 8, 2012

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Mini Reviews: Pushing the Limits, Timepiece, and The Space Between Us

It's that time again, gushy mini reviews of books I've read recently that won't be out for awhile, but that I think are amazing and everyone needs to know about them! So let's get to it:

Pushing the Limits by Katie McGarry: This one is so intense and emotional, but with some seriously sweet and tender romance mixed in. There is a great momentum to this one, with plenty of mysteries and questions to drive it forward. Echo is an amazingly done character, softly broken with a strong determination in her. Then there's Noah, sexy and sweet, the kind of rough on the outside and mushy on the inside that will have you melting. This book had me hooked the entire time, and is so well written with a great mix of sorrow and wit in it.

Timepiece by Myra McEntire: Kaleb. All Kaleb. He is so hot, and sexy, and sweet, and amazing, and... yay. This book is much more emotional than Hourglass, and not just because of Kaleb's whole empathy thing but just because of the situations, the writing, and the focus. There is a big drive towards the overall main picture, with a ton of character focus and development on the way. The entire story is so brilliant, and well put together, and stunning. Though there isn't a for sure third book right now, this reader is all kinds of hopeful the publisher picks one up because this is a world I want to spend more time in. Plus, Kaleb. Holy hotness.

The Space Between Us by Jessica Martinez: I loved Jessica's debut, Virtuosity, but I think I might love this one even more. The emotions are so much more amped up, not just because of the natural way a writer improves but because of the situation and the characters. Amelia is a stunning character, one who is definitely flawed, and in some ways, can be selfish, but in light of what's going on, it's so easy to understand why she's reacting like she is. There is so much depth and emotion to this one, intensity and intricacies, and I couldn't put this one down. With several gutting twists on the way, and an awkward and sweet underlying romance, this book has so many amazing elements.

In My Mailbox

This week's IMM will be dog-less. Toby had surgery on Wednesday to have a mass removed off his foot, and he's currently in one of those cone collars. Though it *was* tempting to try to situate the books in the cone, I gave the guy a break. He's frustrated enough having it on. He's recovering fantastically, and is back to running around like a maniac (giant cone and all), and though I'm still waiting on the pathology results to make sure the mass wasn't malignant, I'm immensely relieved just to have the surgery behind us.

So first the books, then some Toby pictures.. because yes, I did document his cone of shame...

For Review:
The Space Between Us by Jessica Martinez (Seriously fantastic! So emotional and breaking)
Never Enough by Denise Jaden (Also awesome!)
Shadow and Bone by Leigh Bardugo
(Huge thanks to Jessica Martinez, Simon Pulse, and Henry Holt)

Fair Coin by E.C. Myers
Personal Effects dogtags from E.M. Kokie

Graffiti Moon by Cath Crowley (Such a cute romance)
The One That I Want by Jennifer Echols

So that was my week in books, and now this is my week in Toby:

This is what it was before the surgery. That lump grew in about 3-4 weeks. 

And post surgery, so much smaller, despite the stitches and stuff. 

 Toby in his cone collar. That thing is basically a satellite, and yes, he has serious issues trying to get around in it sometimes. He also kind of sort of broke one of my stand lamps, when he knocked it over trying to walk behind it. He also trips over the collar sometimes, when he catches it on stuff on the floor. But, only one more week and he's out of it. 

So that was what went on around here this week. What books did you guys get? 

IMM a weekly meme hosted by The Story Siren.

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Event Recap: The Dark Days of Winter + Swag Pack Giveaway

The Dark Days of Winter tour hit up Dallas this week, featuring Courtney Allison Moulton, Cynthia Hand, Brodi Ashton and Jodi Meadows. The event was fantastic, so much fun, and hilarious. These ladies talked about pretty much everything, from getting started writing to editing to struggling with the 2nd or 3rd books in their series. Then there was the more off topic stuff, that are what make these events even more awesome for those there.

But before I get things kicked off, I have the winner for the Dark Days prize pack that went up last week: Amanda Marie. Congrats, and you've been emailed!

I was lucky enough to interview these ladies before the event started, and since anyone who regularly follows my blog knows I tend to ask questions that are more... random... well, these ladies were subject to the same craziness. So here's the interview, then check out the pictures from the actual event!

If you were fighting Voledmort, which character from any of your books would you want with you?

Jodi: Ellie.

Courtney: Will - he can just chuck his sword before Voledmort can Avada Kadavra him.

Cynthia: Will.

Brodi: Cole - if he can get close enough, he can suck all of Voldemort's emotions out and render him useless. (And after she pointed this out, we all agreed this would actually be an improvement for Voldemort.)

If your main character was a tribute in The Hunger Games, what would their token be? 

Jodi: Butterfly.

Courtney: Ellie's wing necklace.

Cynthia: Feather.

Brodi: Poker Chip.

Who is your YA Book Boyfriend: 

Jodi: All the boys. I can't pick just one. (I then informed Jodi we'd have to battle about that later. Good thing *I* have pretty much all the boys locked away in my Boy Closet...)

Courtney: Tucker from Unearthly, because he likes horses.

Cynthia: Ren from Nightshade.

Brodi: Sam from Incarnate.

If you could give any answer to the "inspiration" question, that isn't the actual story, what would it be? 

Jodi: A ferret whispered it.

Courtney: It's an autobiography.

Cynthia: Random neurons firing in my brain.

Brodi: The stork.

And now for some pictures.... because those are always awesome!

 The book table when you first walk into the store. So much prettiness. 
The table set up, before the event started. 

 Getting started!

 Courtney kicked things off, talking a little about her book then reading from it. 

 Next up was Jodi, who told us how Incarnate came to be... and said it was her 17th finished manuscript.

 Then it was Cynthia's turn, who talked about how the idea for Hallowed just kind of hit her, and her craving for writing came back with it. It took her just six months to write the first draft. 

 Finally it was Brodi's turn, who read us a quick scene from the book... after some audience debate of Cole vs Jack (I wanted Cole, but Jack won). It was a good scene though... 

And here's me with all four of them at the end of the event! 

It was a fantastic night, and if you ever have a chance to see even one of these ladies, make sure you go. I hit up The Cheesecake Factory afterwards with them, though I didn't take any pictures there... but there were appetizers, talking, and cheesecake. Who needs pictures?

So there's a little look into the DFW stop for The Dark Days of Winter! If you missed it but are in the area, there is signed at the store.

Make sure you guys also check out Mundie Moms tomorrow for their event recap and interview of the Austin stop, and Once Upon a Twilight on 2/24 for the Houston stop!

I've also got a swag pack for one lucky winner, which includes Incarnate stickers, Angelfire/Wings of the Wicked bookmarks, an Everneath guitar pick necklace, and a Hallowed bookmark!

To enter, just leave a comment on this post with a way to contact you. Contest is US only, and ends February 25.

Friday, February 17, 2012

Author Interview: Melissa Jensen

Hitting up the blog today is debut author Melissa Jensen, the lady behind the charming romance The Find Art of Truth or Dare, to talk about her book!

What museum would you want to play Truth or Dare in?

My very fave museum is the National Portrait Gallery in London. Love it there. It’s literally the face of British history. Henry VIII and his uncomfortable-looking wives. Shakespeare with his earring. The one confirmed picture of Jane Austen’s face. Byron looking Byronic. Queen Elizabeth with her corgis. Lucien Freud by…Lucien Freud. Okay, I really really want to be in London. Right now.

What language were you dying to study in high school, whether it was offered or not?

I studied French. I was actually pretty fluent when I was seventeen. Now? I’m really good at using my iPhone app to translate. I tried learning Gaelic a few years ago. Impossible language. I can read some signs in Ireland. Best if they have pictures. Like I’m pretty confident I could find my way to the hospital versus, say, the zoo.

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

For Ella, I tried to think of an artist. But most literary artists are kinda depressing, aren’t they? Joyce’s Stephen Deadalus, Maugham’s Philip Carey, Irving Stone’s Van Gogh… I like Ella too much for that. So I decided on Neville Longbottom. Sweet, likely to bring her really good flowers, and he’d put himself between her and a Dementor without thinking twice. Do comic books count? I would pair Alex with Catwoman or maybe Elektra. He would be delighted. And I’ve pretty much just expended my knowledge of interesting female comic book characters.

You're dropped into a room full of Death Eaters with your characters! What happens?

We’d probably end up stupefied, at best. Actually, Alex would likely make a decent wizard. He’s good with sticks (plays lacrosse) and remembering words (fluent in French). Ella tends to be conflict averse, but she would probably enjoy a good piertotem locomotor spell. Personally, I would hope for Harry, Ginny, or Neville to show up. Or McGonagall. She’s awesome.

What kind of shoe would you describe yourself as?

I’m an Alexander McQueen ballet flat: sensible, classic, dependable at the core, but with a definite dose of quirk.

Thank you, Melissa, and congrats on the release! The Fine Art of Truth or Dare is on shelves now, so be sure you check it out! There's kissing, and art, and other sweet stuff.

Book Review: The Catastrophic History of You and Me by Jess Rothenberg

SUMMARY: Just before her 16th birthday, Brie Eagan literally dies of a broken heart after her boyfriend tells her he does not love her. She then must go through the five stages of grief, while watching her friends and family try to cope with her death, before her faith in love is restored and she can move on to the afterlife.


With an interesting concept that is woven together in a great way, The Catastrophic History of You and Me puts a new twist on life after death and navigating the territory. Very realistic in feeling overall, despite the fact that the main character is dead, this is a book that will appeal to both contemporary and supernatural fans. Adding to the depth this book holds is the way Rothenberg incorporates the five stages of grief, with Brie going through each one yet not always in the most obvious of ways. 

Brie was an interesting character, one who goes through a tremendous amount of growth and development. Though bratty at times, she also has moments of clarity, bravery, and selflessness that will twist readers and do a number even on herself. Definitely a character that is easy to root for, and someone who readers will mourn the fact that she's dead, Brie has a certain endearing element to her that helps drive the book forward. 

Small overall in cast, the other important character is Patrick, a guy who is rather cheesy and bordering on lame, yet charming and sweet as well. Garnering several eye rolls throughout the book, but having a very memorable nature and role, Patrick serves not only as a guide but a potential love interest for Brie as well. The feelings between them had a constant sweetness underlying the frustration and forced distaste that was there, and Rothenberg does a marvelous job of building the romance into the bigger picture. 

Smoothly written, and done in a way that makes readers feel everything Brie does, Rothenberg's debut is both memorable and poignant. Though there is a small level of predictability with this one, there are still a few shocking and unexpected twists that pull it through and keep readers engaged and gripped. Very centered on Brie and what she's going through, yet pulled back enough to give readers a bigger picture idea as well, The Catastrophic History of You and Me is a great debut and a fun read.

Source: ARC received from publisher in exchange for an honest review 
Reading level: Ages 12 and up 
Hardcover: 400 pages 
Publisher: Dial
Publication Date: February 21, 2012

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Author Interview: Ashley Hope Perez

Stopping in today is Ashley Hope Perez, author of The Knife and the Butterfly, to talk about her book, Death Eaters, and pie.

What was the hardest part about writing a book that dealt with gang members?

Balance. I didn’t want to glamorize or demonize Azael or his gang. MS-13 has been called “the deadliest gang,” and it’s definitely no joke. But at the same time, most of my research pointed to the fact that, in Houston at least, lots of youths involved with gangs like MS-13 are not highly organized or militarized like their counterparts in South America.

But this is not just an issue of veracity; it’s one of tone. I think the reader learns how to filter Azael’s portrayal of his experiences, taking into account the bravado in his words when he describes his affiliation and past “accomplishments” with his gang. And I think the reader detects the sincerity in his desire to start anew and keep the people he loves clear of MS-13.

Which character was more interesting for you to develop, Azael or Lexi?

Parents aren’t supposed to have favorites, but Azael is definitely mine. In an early draft, the book was pretty evenly split between Azael and Lexi, but I decided that it need to be his story. (If you find out about the news coverage of the actual event that inspired the book, you’ll see one reason why I wanted it to be Azael’s.) He gets more of the book, so we see more of his past and therefore understand how he came to the place where he is now.

That said, Lexi really grew on me over time, too. She can be a real punk, but she also has heart. Azael’s changing perception of her required that I let her grow into a better person. So I did.

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

For Lexi, I’m thinking of Sammy from Benjamin Alire Sáenz’s Sammy and Juliana in Hollywood, although she’s got some growing up to do before she’s ready for him. And for Azael… Reason Cansino from the Magic or Madness trilogy because she might be the only character who’s been through more than he has.

Which Death Eater, besides Voldemort, would you want to fight?

I’m not much of a fighter… I’m more of a “bring them to the light” type. So I guess I’d go with any of the Death Eater groupies who are really just under the Imperius Curse. That’s because I might actually be able to win them over. In fact, battling to bring someone back to who they are (as opposed to conquering pure evil) is not that different from some of my past work as a teacher. :)

What kind of pie would you describe yourself as?

If I’m going to be in a bakery window, I’d be a mud pie (out of actual mud) because I wouldn’t want anyone to buy me and eat me. Otherwise, I’d be a chocolate tart. This one, in fact. And if he saw me in a bakery window, my son Liam would SO eat me without a second thought!

Book Review: Fracture by Megan Miranda

SUMMARY: Eleven minutes passed before Delaney Maxwell was pulled from the icy waters of a Maine lake by her best friend Decker Phillips. By then her heart had stopped beating. Her brain had stopped working. She was dead. And yet she somehow defied medical precedent to come back seemingly fine. Everyone wants Delaney to be all right, but she knows she's far from normal.


Fracture is one of those books that is, for the most part, a contemporary, yet it has that one thing that seems not quite right, that element that is hinting at something supernatural, and Miranda weaves it together beautifully. I picked this book up, intending to read just a chapter, and ended up reading it straight through. Intense, and gutting and real and engaging, I felt emotionally wrought by the time I was done. This is a book that stuck with me for days after I finish, and even now, still gets to me.

Delaney is an interesting character, a bit of a mess, sometimes a little selfish, but mostly just a girl who's stuck in a unique situation with not a lot of people to turn to for help. Pained over the growing distance between herself and her best friend, Decker, and desperate for answers, Delaney's story is an emotional, intense, yet hopeful one. Her entire characterization is fantastically done, having moments where she lets the world crap on her but then standing up for herself and others in more important moments. Intelligent, perceptive, and resourceful, Delaney is a well rounded, well built character and a girl to root for.

Then there's Decker, a boy that's left me with mixed feelings. Definitely someone who makes mistakes, and does a few things that make it hard not to hold a grudge, there is still an underlying desperation, pain and want within him that is palpable and beautifully woven in. Playing his own large role in the plot, and testing Delaney in some ways, Decker is a character to both love and hate, and I enjoyed every single second of it.

I loved the plot and concept of this one, with the way Miranda has twisted the brain science aspect into something just beyond the scope of believability yet plays it in as though it really could happen. Steeped in realism, this book is heavily emotional, focused very much on Delaney yet pulling in some other elements to push things forward as well. Steadily paced, with a lot that happens in not so many pages, and having some shocking twists and painful turns, Fracture is impossible to put down once you start. With subtle brilliance in it, a great scientific side that is tweaked to hint at realism while still being something new and specific to this book, and absolutely stunning characterization, Fracture is a striking debut.

Source: ARC received at ALA
Reading level: Ages 12 and up 
Hardcover: 272 pages
Publisher: Walker Childrens
Publication Date: January 17, 2012

Monday, February 13, 2012

Author Interview: Amanda Grace

Stopping in today to celebrate her recent release In Too Deep is Amanda Grace!

What would be the worst for you if your best friend got caught in Sam's lie, knowing they had lied or knowing that you thought it had happened in the first place?

I think it would be worst to think that my best friend had actually been a real victim. I don’t know if I could forgive her for villainizing an “innocent” guy, but at least I’d know she hadn’t been hurt in such a horrendous act.

Which character was the most challenging for you to write and develop?

Definitely Sam, the main character. I struggled with how to make her seem sympathetic, because she’s doing something unforgiveable. She’s completely slandering another person. It was hard to set up her motivations. I had to change everything around her—more than once—to make it work.

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

Ooh! What a fun question. Sam is a person who struggles to stand up for herself and tends to fear confrontation. It’s hard to say if she’d be better off with adventurous, funny, dirt-bike riding Ben from YOU WISH, or the more sweet, quiet, sincere Cole from RIPPLE. Is it better to have someone challenge you and push you outside your comfort zone, or someone who gets you just as you are?

For Nick, he’s goofy and smart, popular by virtue of being Class president and valedictorian. I’d love to see him paired with Peyton from GETTING CAUGHT, who is after all the same things and also Ivy-league bound.

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

Um, I have no idea what a Death Eater is. If I admit I haven’t read Harry Potter, will I have to duck to avoid sticks and stones? (Magic wands and quidditch balls? They use balls, right?)

What kind of bird would you describe yourself as?

Most days I feel like a penguin, marching along with everyone else. But I can be the one in happy feet, because I am known to spontaneously bust out in awkward dance maneuvers. And I like the idea of monogamy.

Thank you, Amanda, and congrats on the release!

In Too Deep is on shelves now, so make sure you check it out! It's definitely emotional!

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Book Review: The Disenchantments by Nina LaCour

SUMMARY: Colby and Bev have a long-standing pact: graduate, hit the road with Bev's band, and then spend the year wandering around Europe. But moments after the tour kicks off, Bev makes a shocking announcement: she's abandoning their plans - and Colby - to start college in the fall.
But the show must go on and The Disenchantments weave through the Pacific Northwest, playing in small towns and dingy venues, while roadie- Colby struggles to deal with Bev's already-growing distance and the most important question of all: what's next? 

Morris Award finalist Nina LaCour draws together the beauty and influences of music and art to brilliantly capture a group of friends on the brink of the rest of their lives.


This book is so utterly amazing, from characters to writing to execution. There is such a deep level of emotion and intensity in this one, lurking underneath even the sweetest of moments, integrated so seamlessly it's impossible to pinpoint it most of the time and yet it's there. Definitely a book to be reread multiple times, and a total must read even for those who aren't as big a fan of male perspective, The Disenchantments is so many kinds of spectacular there aren't really enough words for it.

I absolutely adored Colby's character. Sure, at times he maybe could come off as whiny, but I didn't see it that way. I understood his pain, his worries; I felt the punch in the gut he did when Bev dropped the bomb that she was changing the plan and no longer going to Europe with him. Colby is that quiet, sweet, soft and gentle guy, the one that is overlooked so easily and yet once you notice he's there, you NOTICE. He is so far from cocky and arrogant, even spending his summer traveling around with three girls, and LaCour makes that shine across the pages. His entire character arc and development are so stunning, with some perfect moments of huge personal leaps mixed in with plenty of small steps forward and even a few pushes backward. Colby is a character to fall for, root for, and fight right beside.

Though very much the story of Colby and how he figures everything out, the road trip part of this book is beautifully scripted and adds plenty of fun and bumps along the way. Letting the two other band mates shine at times, and giving plenty of focus to Colby and Bev as well, LaCour easily weaves together the different parts of her story without taking away too much focus from any single thing. There are so many laughs in this book, mixed in with the heavy and intense and gutting moments and scenes, and I savored every single one of them.

This one has a very interesting voice, one that would not be easy to pull off and yet LaCour does it. Colby is more emotional, has a different view on the world, and that comes through so easily yet almost always underneath everything. There is a heavy emotional air infused into every page, from the pain and heartbreak to the hope and longing and everything good and bad in between, and when that aspect coalesces so perfectly with Colby's version of pain and want, it's almost like a smack in the face. Yet despite being in Colby's (charming and sweet and endearing) mind, readers will completely understand Bev as well, and feel her pain too.

This is a book I could go on and on about, and one I really think everyone needs to read. It's far from the rough and sometimes stoic perspective that some male POVs have, and it's also different from other road trip books out there. Pulling in known elements, but twisting them in her own unique way, LaCour has written a beautiful, poignant, and stunning book.

Source: ARC received from publisher in exchange for an honest review
Reading level: Ages 14 and up
Hardcover: 304 pages
Publisher: Dutton Juvenile
Publication Date: February 16, 2012

Saturday, February 11, 2012

In My Mailbox

I know it's been several weeks since I've done an IMM, but I finally rallied Toby up this weekend for it. This isn't everything I've received in the past several weeks, but it's quite a bit of it, and definitely the ones I'm super excited for. I've also bought quite a few books, so there's that load in here too. Yay!

For Review:
Pushing the Limits by Katie McGarry (Already read - SO awesome, intense and sexy)
Believe It or Not by Tawna Fenske (Funny and sexy romance FTW)
Perception by Kim Harrington
Soul Bound (Blood Coven #7) by Mari Mancusi
My Life Next Door by Huntley Fitzpatrick (Such a sweet romance)
While He Was Away by Karen Schrek
The Summer of No Regrets by Katherine Grace Bond
The Vicious Deep by Zoraida Cordova
 (HUGE Thanks toKatie McGarry, Sourcebooks, Scholastic, Penguin, and SourcebooksFire)

Timepiece by Myra McEntire (Already read - fantastic!! And Kaleb. Melt)

Wings of the Wicked by Courtney Allison Moulton
(This one gets its own picture just because I love this book so much, AND its dedicated to me which still kind of blows my mind. Toby was done with pictures by this point though so this was the best I could get.)

Saving June by Hannah Harrington*
The Isle of Blood by Rick Yancey
The Mockingbirds by Daisy Whitney*
Witch Eyes by Scott Tracey*
Winter's Kiss by Jennifer Elchols and Catherine Hapka
Cold Kiss by Amy Garvey*
Try Not to Breathe by Jennifer Hubbard*
Split by Swati Avasthi (LOVE the paperback cover)*
Desires of the Dead by Kimberly Derting*
The Pledge by Kimberly Derting*
Bittersweet by Sarah Ockler*
Getting Somewhere by Beth Neff
Everneath by Brodi Ashton*
Born Wicked by Jessica Spotswood*
Legend by Marie Lu*
Unraveling Isobel by Eileen Cook*
(Ones with * are ones I've already read, I just wanted a finished copy for  my collection)

So that's been my weeks! Let me know what you've gotten!

IMM is a weekly meme hosted by The Story Siren.

Friday, February 10, 2012

Author Interview with Haiku Answers: A.C. Gaughen

Stopping in today is Scarlet author A.C. Gaughen, but instead of answering her interview in the usual style, I've challenged her to respond only on haiku form.

Describe Scarlet.

Anger, violence, loss--
Can these things be forgiven?
The heart will bear out.

What was the hardest part of doing a Robin Hood retelling?

Old song with new words
May sound the same, but--
People loved the first.

If you could pair Scarlet with any character from any book, who would you pick?

Ocean eyes, wheat hair--
Scar would heal with Robin Hood
Her heart made for his.

What god/goddess would be your nemesis?

Hera was always
Defined by Zeus’ power.
That sucks, for a girl.

What Starbucks drink would you describe yourself as?

Caramel drizzle--
Or! Mint hot chocolate
Or! Black Iced tea. Love.

Thank you, A.C., and awesome job on the haikus!

Scarlet hits shelves Tuesday, so be sure you check it out!