Picture drawn by Maggie Stiefvater, 2009. Header made by S.F. Robertson, 2010.

Saturday, January 30, 2010

In My Mailbox- Week of Jan. 25 + Retrospective

No vlog again this week. I got some books I don't care too much about and some I am so happy to have! The ones I don't care about will be listed at the bottom, but the ones I'm excited for will have pics and summary.

The Dark Days of Hamburger Halpin by Josh Berk
Being a hefty, deaf newcomer almost makes Will Halpin the least popular guy at Coaler High. But when he befriends the only guy less popular than him, the dork-namic duo has the smarts and guts to figure out who knocked off the star quarterback. Will can’t hear what’s going on, but he’s a great observer. So, who did it? And why does that guy talk to his fingers? And will the beautiful girl ever notice him? (Okay, so Will’s interested in more than just murder . . .)

Those who prefer their heroes to be not-so-usual and with a side of wiseguy will gobble up this witty, geeks-rule debut.

Before I Fall by Lauren Oliver
What if you had only one day to live? What would you do? Who would you kiss? And how far would you go to save your own life?

Samantha Kingston has it all: the world's most crush-worthy boyfriend, three amazing best friends, and first pick of everything at Thomas Jefferson High—from the best table in the cafeteria to the choicest parking spot. Friday, February 12, should be just another day in her charmed life.

Instead, it turns out to be her last.

Then she gets a second chance. Seven chances, in fact. Reliving her last day during one miraculous week, she will untangle the mystery surrounding her death—and discover the true value of everything she is in danger of losing.

Other books:

Runaway by Meg Cabot (2nd copy (up for a tour at Princess Bookie's site, though signups are closed now; with Scholastic Summer 2010 Catalog CD)
Night Road by A.M. Jenkins
Player's Ruse by Hilari Bell
The Little Piano Girl: The Story of Mary Lou Williams, Jazz Legend by Ann Ingalls and Maryann Macdonald

And here's my retrospective:

Monday- I posted my thoughts on Dirty Little Secrets by C.J. Omololu.

Wednesday- I interviewed Lisa McMann, author of the Wake trilogy.

Friday- I posted my review of Gone by Lisa McMann.

Friday, January 29, 2010

Gone by Lisa McMann

Gone by Lisa McMann
"Janie thought she knew what her future held. And she thought she'd made her peace with it. But she can't handle dragging Cabel down with her.

She knows he will stay with her, despite what she sees in his dreams. He's amazing. And she's a train wreck. Janie sees only one way to give him the life he deserves--she has to disappear. And it's going to kill them both.

Then a stranger enters her life--and everything unravels. The future Janie once faced now has an ominous twist, and her choices are more dire than she'd ever thought possible. She alone must decide between the lesser of two evils. And time is running out..."- summary from Lisa's site

The final book in the Wake trilogy is a doozy of a book, full of twists and revelations as well as some great angst and romance between Janie and Cabel. McMann's writing is still very tight and simple and easy to read; her prose becomes almost lyrical at points in the book. A lot of questions are answered and of course others are brought up (and answered), and it's a satisfying read. The trilogy definitely is tied up well and you can tell this is the final book, but there's also this sense of ambiguity at the end that makes it seem like there could be more at some point in the future. I have no idea if this will happen, but even if it doesn't, I'm content enough with the ending here.

FTC: Review copy provided by publisher. Amazon link is an Associate link; any profit goes toward funding contests.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Interview with Lisa McMann

My friend Lisa McMann allowed me to ask her a few questions via email to promote the final book in her Wake trilogy, Gone, which is out next week. Hope you all enjoy!

1) Gone marks the end of your Wake trilogy with Janie. Has it been difficult to let go, or are you anxious to start with new characters and concepts? Or maybe a mixture of both?

It was difficult to write GONE and say goodbye -- Janie and Cabel are very dear to me. But I like to think they are tough enough to continue living just fine without me somewhere, on their own or together or whatever happens to them after GONE.
I am VERY excited to work with new characters and a new concept.

2) What can your fans look forward to from you next? I know you've got a couple things in the works.

I just turned in the manuscript for my next book, CRYER'S CROSS (spring 2011), to my editor, and what happens near the end of the book was so creepy I almost freaked myself out writing it. There's also a love story in it -- two, actually, I guess. I think readers will like it. It's a stand-alone this time, rather than a start of a series.

And in the fall of 2011, my first middle grade novel comes out. It's a dystopian fantasy called THE UNWANTEDS, about a society where strength and intelligence is rewarded and creative children are sent to their deaths. This could be the start of a series -- I'll know more on that next year.

3) With this book and the previous one Fade, you've teamed up with your publisher Simon and Schuster to do a sweepstakes to give out a scholarship to someone who deserves it. Tell us about the contest you've got going on for Gone.

Yes indeed, and really it's an amazing contest. Teachers, tell your students. Teens, borrow a camera or use your cell phone and start thinking about this -- it's again a Fund Your Dreams sweepstakes like last year, and all US teens (14-18) have to do is video themselves telling me how their goals and dreams are similar to Janie's. Make it funny or serious -- just don't be boring. Upload it to youtube (or whatever) and add the link to it in your entry. You can enter right on my website, http://lisamcmann.com The prize is $1000 to go for your future life goals. Contest ends March 8, 2010.

4) Silly question- What's your favorite candy to eat? I have to ask this since I've asked you the Jelly Belly question before and we had a slight argument about the differences (or, in my opinion, lack thereof) between Jelly Bellys and jelly beans.

Sort of funny, but I don't really eat much candy. I'm much more into savory snacks rather than sweet ones. But I like caramels. M&Ms too. Ooh, the peanut butter M&Ms -- those are the best! Everything tastes better with peanut butter.

5) What book(s) are you reading now, or are about to start?

I have grown to adore this question, because I'm finding lots of great stories out there. Recently read:
FAT CAT by Robin Brande
NAILED by Patrick Jones
WHEN YOU REACH ME by Rebecca Stead
ONCE WAS LOST by Sara Zarr

Looking forward to:
SPLIT by Swati Avasthi (comes out in March)
Also, A. S. King's next book comes out this fall. It's called PLEASE IGNORE VERA DIETZ. It's quirky and amazing.
Linda Gerber's TRANCE is also something to watch for this fall -- a cool paranormal winner.

6) As you said above, you're writing a middle grade novel. How different was it from YA to write? Do you think you'll ever branch out to adult fiction as well?

Why yes, yes I *did* say something about that above, you clever thing! :)

I wrote THE UNWANTEDS after I wrote FADE, back in 2007. It was something I started while waiting for WAKE to come out. And the voice is totally different. You won't read it and say, yep, you can hear that Lisa McMann voice in there. Because it's totally so so so different from the WAKE trilogy. And it was so much fun. It's written in a more melodic, fantastical way. It was a good break from the staccato voice of WAKE & FADE. I'm excited to start working on it again (I'm in the editing stage and waiting on the first editorial comments at the moment).

As for branching out into adult, I don't see it. Not in the near future anyway. I'm of a mind that adults should read YA, so that's pretty much where I want to stay.

7) The New Year recently started. Do you have any resolutions? Are you a resolutions kind of person, or do you generally not care for that sort of thing?

I do make resolutions, but I set them year 'round, not really just at the New Year. I resolve pretty much daily to be a stronger person, a more compassionate person, but also a less vulnerable person when it comes to my work. I think I mentioned to you once before that I really limit myself from reading reviews, and that has helped me tremendously. I usually read a few when the book is first coming out to get a general consensus, then I shut down the noise machine and focus on what's next. It's been a very healthy resolution for me.

8) A few months ago, you released a short story for free from Cabel's point of view for your fans. Did you enjoy writing from his perspective? How did that story come about? Have you thought about writing more from his side of events during the Wake trilogy?

I really enjoyed writing from Cabe's perspective. He's an interesting character and I love getting deep inside his brain. My editor asked me to write that short story as a sort of gift/teaser to tide readers over between FADE and GONE, and I liked the idea. As for writing more like it, my standard answer is "not at this time." If my publisher wants me to, I'll consider it. If I do actually do it someday, I'd want to tell the whole story of Cabel from before Janie met him (as well as after) because that's the part we don't see much of in the trilogy. We know what happens, but we don't really see it -- we see parts of it in Cabe's monster man dream, but that's not necessarily reality, or the way it really happened. I think that would be a great story. But at this point, no plans for that. What do your readers think?

I would love to read more from Cabe's side of things, and I'm excited to see what you all think about it too! Thank you so much, Lisa, for stopping by! You rock! :)

Monday, January 25, 2010

Dirty Little Secrets by C.J. Omololu

Dirty Little Secrets by C.J. Omololu
"Everyone has a secret. But Lucy’s is bigger and dirtier than most. It’s one she’s been hiding for years—that her mom’s out-of-control hoarding has turned their lives into a world of garbage and shame. She’s managed to keep her home life hidden from her best friend and her crush, knowing they’d be disgusted by the truth. So, when her mom dies suddenly in their home, Lucy hesitates to call 911 because revealing their way of life would make her future unbearable—and she begins her two-day plan to set her life right."

Since I am a tad obsessed with the show Hoarders on A&E, I was excited to read this book and was so happy to receive a copy (thanks Anna!). The jacket copy (which is not the one above) didn't mention the mom dying (not a spoiler- it happens within the first 30 pages or so) so I was expecting something different than what actually transpired in the story. Now, that doesn't mean the book was bad because it was still pretty good; it just didn't play out the way I expected it to. The mom dying had something to do with not going with my expectations. I was expecting a story of learning to deal with hoarding and maybe in the end, there's a hope for the family of getting better; also, secrets would come out. Unfortunately, with the mom dead and Lucy alone, not many secrets were revealed or, if they were, answered. So that aspect kinda disappointed me, but Omololu still did a good job with the novel.

There's a lot to be said about the things people keep and when you're going through a hoarder's belongings, memories come up and they make you nostalgic. I enjoyed getting to know about Lucy and her family's past through the cleaning up of the house and her coming across various items. It was a clever way of doing exposition.

The ending again was something I wasn't expecting, but it does feel right to end it that way. Very symbolic and all that English major jibberjabber. It was definitely an interesting read and I kind of want to read more books about hoarding. That should be the next trend in YA- hoarding. Oh please let it be so!

This book will be released on Feb. 2, so go get it then or pre-order!

FTC: Received hardcover from the publisher. Amazon link is an Associate link; any profits go toward funding contests.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

In My Mailbox + Retrospective

Short post this week as I didn't get much. I got a second copy of Chasing Brooklyn due to my first copy being defective. 30 pages (281-312) were repeated and took the place of pages 313-344, so I couldn't continue with my copy, but I just read those 30 pages at the bookstore and then finished my copy. And the other book I got this week was:

Dirty Little Secrets by C.J. Omololu
For sixteen years, Lucy has kept her mother's hoarding a secret. She's had to-nobody would understand the stacks of newspapers and mounds of garbage so high they touch the ceiling and the rotting smell that she's always worried would follow her out the house. After years of keeping people at a distance, she finally has a best friend and maybe even a boyfriend if she can play it right. As long as she can make them think she's normal.

When Lucy arrives home from a sleepover to find her mother dead under a stack of National Geographics, she starts to dial 911 in a panic, but pauses before she can connect. She barely notices the filth and trash anymore, but she knows the paramedics will. First the fire trucks, and then news cameras that will surely follow. No longer will they be remembered as the nice oncology nurse with the lovely children-they'll turn into that garbage-hoarding freak family on Collier Avenue.

With a normal life finally within reach, Lucy has only minutes to make a critical decision. How far will she go to keep the family secrets safe?

-- I'm reading it now so I can give it to my roommate afterward since she's really interested in reading this book too, and it's REALLY good though different than I expected.

And here's my small retrospective:

Monday- I reviewed Chasing Brooklyn by Lisa Schroeder.

Friday- I reviewed Darklight by Lesley Livingston.

Friday, January 22, 2010

Darklight by Lesley Livingston

Darklight by Lesley Livingston
"Much has changed since autumn, when Kelley Winslow learned she was a Faerie princess, fell in love with changeling guard Sonny Flannery, and saved the mortal realm from the ravages of the Wild Hunt. Now Kelley is stuck in New York City, rehearsing Romeo and Juliet and missing Sonny more with every stage kiss, while Sonny has been forced back to the Otherworld and into a deadly game of cat and mouse with the remaining Hunters and Queen Mabh herself.

When a terrifying encounter sends Kelley tumbling into the Otherworld, her reunion with Sonny is joyful but destined to be cut short. An ancient, hidden magick is stirring, and a dangerous new enemy is willing to risk everything to claim that power. Caught in a web of Faerie deception and shifting allegiances, Kelley and Sonny must tread carefully, for each next step could topple a kingdom . . . or tear them apart."- summary from Amazon

Darklight is a fantastic sequel to Wondrous Strange, the first title in this Faerie trilogy. It felt more action-packed and suspenseful than the previous book now that the stage has been set and everyone introduced. I still love Livingston's lyrical prose that just flows along easily and pulls me through the story quickly. Even during an action scene, the details and actions written about are very poetic and create an atmospheric feel to the story. Kelley's character is still as bold as she was before, and also just as stubborn. The romance between her and Sonny is still very sweet, but realistic as well; they have their tiffs and yet still love each other. I also really liked the interactions between all the characters, as I think we got some new insight into everyone based on their interactions with new people and created some wonderful layers to them. The ending was a shocker, though it does (unfortunately) make sense given what was revealed during the course of the novel. It also shows a little hint of the big blowout that will happen in the final book, which I so want to read right now. So I'm torn between telling you to go buy it now so you can learn all these new things, but also want to tell you to hold off so you don't suffer through the year until the final book comes out, lol. It's up to you, reader!

FTC: Recieved ARC from publisher. Amazon link is an Associate link; any profits from that go toward funding contests.

Monday, January 18, 2010

Chasing Brooklyn by Lisa Schroeder

Chasing Brooklyn by Lisa Schroeder
"Brooklyn can't sleep. Her boyfriend, Lucca, died only a year ago, and now her friend Gabe has just died of an overdose. Every time she closes her eyes, Gabe's ghost is there waiting for her. She has no idea what he wants or why it isn't Lucca visiting her dreams.

Nico can't stop. He's always running, trying to escape the pain of losing his brother, Lucca. But when Lucca's ghost begins leaving messages, telling Nico to help Brooklyn, emotions come crashing to the surface.

As the nightmares escalate and the messages become relentless, Nico reaches out to Brooklyn. But neither of them can admit that they're being haunted. Until they learn to let each other in, not one soul will be able to rest."- summary from Amazon

Schroeder's latest verse offering is a companion novel of sorts to her debut I Heart You, You Haunt Me, set in the same high school, which has again been marred by two other tragedies. Instead of focusing on the romantic relationship like with Ava and Jackson, Schroder focuses on friendships and brotherhood; Brooklyn's ghost haunting her is not that of her former lover Lucca but her friend Gabe, who makes the book very creepy and nightmarish. I enjoyed the back and forth between Nico and Brooklyn's perspective, though in the beginning, it made it hard to connect with the characters since we only got a single poem from one before moving on to the other, and then back again. I got more used to it as the book went on. I think this might be my favorite of Schroder's three verse novels. The characterization was great and I loved seeing both perspectives of the story as Brooklyn and Nico's paths cross. It's a wonderful, emotional ride and very atmospheric; just a great book. I also really enjoyed Ava's brief appearance in the book too; it worked well and didn't feel like she was just put in for no real reason. Definitely give this one a shot, and you won't be disappointed.

FTC: Hardcover provided by publisher. Amazon link is an Associate link; any profit goes toward funding contests.

Saturday, January 16, 2010

In My Mailbox- Week of January 11 + Retrospective

No vlog again this week, mainly because of a lack of books I actually wanted, lol. So I'm only gonna put image and summary for like two books.

Books I Got This Week:

Very LeFreak by Rachel Cohn
Very LeFreak has a problem: she’s a crazed technology addict. Very can’t get enough of her iPhone, laptop, IMs, text messages, whatever. If there’s any chance the incoming message, call, text, or photo might be from her supersecret online crush, she’s going to answer, no matter what. Nothing is too important: sleep, friends in mid-conversation, class, a meeting with the dean about academic probation. Soon enough, though, this obsession costs Very everything and everyone. Can she learn to block out the noise so she can finally hear her heart?

The Girl with the Mermaid Hair by Delia Ephron
Click. Sukie Jamieson takes a selfie after her tennis lesson. Click. She takes one before she has to give a presentation in class. Click. She takes one to be sure there's nothing in her teeth after eating pizza at Clementi's. And if she can't take a selfie, she checks her reflection in windows, spoons, car chrome—anything available, really. So when her mother gives her an exquisite full-length mirror that once belonged to her grandmother, Sukie is thrilled. So thrilled that she doesn't listen to her mother's warning: “This mirror will be your best friend and worst enemy.” Because mirrors, as Sukie discovers, show not only the faraway truth but the truth close up. And finding out that close-up truth changes people. Often forever.

The Unwritten Rule by Elizabeth Scott (recieved back from Alexa of Not Enough Bookshelves; also included a The Mockingbirds by Daisy Whitney bookmark- thanks Alexa!!)
Freefall by Ariela Anhalt
We Shall Overcome: A Song That Changed the World by Stuart Stotts and Terrance Cummings
Dream Life by Lauren Mechling (2nd copy- this one hardcover)
Dizzy in Your Eyes: Poems about Love by Pat Mora

Also got Animal by Ke$ha (love it!!) and Kathy Griffin's stand up special out on DVD She'll Cut a B*tch. I loved it on TV and there's some bonus bits on the DVD which I watched earlier that are hysterical. I love Kathy!!! :D

As for a retrospective, not much happened on the blog this week:

Wednesday- I posted about Lisa McMann's contest with Simon and Schuster, which sounds really good and is so beneficial. I love it!

Friday- I reviewed Gorgeous by Rachel Vail, the second book in the Avery sisters trilogy.

This coming week, look for LOTS of reviews!! :)

Friday, January 15, 2010

Gorgeous by Rachel Vail

Gorgeous by Rachel Vail
"She's looking good . . . but Allison Avery can't believe it. Growing up with beautiful, blond sisters, Allison has always been the dark-haired, "interesting-looking" Avery. So when the devil shows up and offers to make her gorgeous, Allison jumps at the chance to finally get noticed. But there's one tiny catch, and it's not her soul: The devil wants her cell phone.

Though her deal with the devil seems like a good idea at the time, Allison soon realizes that being gorgeous isn't as easy as it looks. Are her new friends and boyfriend for real, or do they just like her pretty face? Allison can't trust anyone anymore, and her possessed phone and her family's financial crisis aren't making things any easier. Plus, when she finds out that she might be America's next teen model, all hell breaks loose. Allison may be losing control, but how far is she willing to go to stay gorgeous forever?"- summary from Amazon

I love this new trilogy by Rachel Vail, as it's really interesting reading about the lives of these three sisters and how, even though they're all under the same roof, there are still secrets and feelings kept that the others don't know about. It makes for a intriguing, original read since each book takes place over the same time period from each of the girls' perspective and so could be repetitive but it's not because of this particular angle. Gorgeous brings middle sister Allison to the forefront and gives us a (very) slight supernatural edge to the story. Reading this made me want to read the first book Lucky again and also I now can't wait to get my hands on Brilliant, the final book, coming out in May.

Allison is a great character and is realistically portrayed by Vail who makes sure the turmoil and insecurity of being a middle sibling is part of the characterization. I loved her sarcastic voice as well as her talk and portrayal of the slightly obscure historical figure Gouverneur Morris. The friendship dynamics between Allison and her old and new best friends were handled really well and it was an interesting aspect of the novel. I also really liked the romance- it was definitely written realistically and, while a bit cliche, still really cute.

Overall, a highly recommended read along with Lucky, and pretty much any other Rachel Vail book. I love her!

FTC: ARC recieved from publisher (way back when, lol). Amazon link is an Associate link. Any profit goes toward funding contests.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

The "Don't Let Your Dream Fade Vlog" Sweepstakes!

Lisa McMann and Simon & Schuster are teaming up again to do another sweepstakes in honor of Lisa's newest Wake book, Gone, coming out next month! Read below for the details!

Are you dreaming big like Janie? Prove it!

If you're between the ages of 14-18, Lisa McMann and Simon & Schuster want to hear from you:

How are your dreams and goals like Janie’s?

Answer this question via vlog in less than two minutes and visit the contest page to learn how to enter your vlog in the “Don’t let your dreams Fade” vlog contest!

Lisa McMann will choose a winner, who will receive $1000 toward furthering his or her life goals! So please enter this contest!

Sunday, January 10, 2010

In My Mailbox- Week of January 4 + Retrospective

No vlog this week as I have a visitor this weekend (who, btw, is extremely cute) though I did get some EXCITING BOOKS!! Here they are:

The Less Dead by April Lurie
Noah Nordstrom has been dissing the religious beliefs of his father, who hosts a popular Christian radio show and whom Noah accuses of spreading hate. When two local gay teens are murdered, Noah’s anti-evangelism intensifies—he’s convinced that the killer is a caller on his dad’s program.

Then Noah meets Will Reed, a cool guy. But when he learns that Will is gay, Noah gets a little weirded out. Especially since Will seems really into him. Noah gives Will the brush-off. Meanwhile, the killer is still at large . . . and soon Noah finds the next victim. It’s Will.

Racked with guilt, Noah decides to investigate. He knows the serial killer is targeting gay teens, but only those who live in foster homes, whose deaths are not that important to society; they are the less-dead. Noah, however, is determined to prove that someone cares. With the help of Will’s journal, which he pocketed at the scene of the crime and in which the killer has written clues, Noah closes in on an opponent more dangerous than he can guess.

All Unquiet Things by Anna Jarzab
Carly: She was sweet. Smart. Self-destructive. She knew the secrets of Brighton Day School’s most privileged students. Secrets that got her killed.

Neily: Dumped by Carly for a notorious bad boy, Neily didn’t answer the phone call she made before she died. If he had, maybe he could have helped her. Now he can’t get the image of her lifeless body out of his mind.

Audrey: She’s the reason Carly got tangled up with Brighton’s fast crowd in the first place, and now she regrets it—especially since she’s convinced the police have put the wrong person in jail. Audrey thinks the murderer is someone at Brighton, and she wants Neily to help her find out who it is.

As reluctant allies Neily and Audrey dig into their shared past with Carly, her involvement with Brighton’s dark goings-on comes to light. But figuring out how Carly and her killer fit into the twisted drama will force Audrey and Neily to face hard truths about themselves and the girl they couldn’t save.

They Never Came Back by Caroline B Cooney
In a busy school cafeteria, a teenage girl is confronted by a classmate who questions her identity. He explains to the students who have crowded around that the girl bears an uncanny resemblance to his cousin, who was taken away by social services five years ago. Her parents abandoned her, fleeing the country after being accused of embezzling millions of dollars. The students are intrigued, but the girl shrugs off the attention as a case of mistaken identity.

As the days pass, however, the boy refuses to relent and even brings his parents in to back him up. But they are not the only adults involved. An FBI agent who has been working the case these past five years believes that whoever this girl is, she can serve as bait to help the FBI capture the fugitives. In this powerful novel that explores the possibility of mistaken identity, the evils of money and greed, and the heartfelt obligations of family and loyalty, Caroline B. Cooney has once again crafted a page-turner that will resonate with readers.

Chasing Brooklyn by Lisa Schroeder
Restless souls and empty hearts
Brooklyn can't sleep. Her boyfriend, Lucca, died only a year ago, and now her friend Gabe has just died of an overdose. Every time she closes her eyes, Gabe's ghost is there waiting for her. She has no idea what he wants or why it isn't Lucca visiting her dreams.

Nico can't stop. He's always running, trying to escape the pain of losing his brother, Lucca. But when Lucca's ghost begins leaving messages, telling Nico to help Brooklyn, emotions come crashing to the surface.

As the nightmares escalate and the messages become relentless, Nico reaches out to Brooklyn. But neither of them can admit that they're being haunted. Until they learn to let each other in, not one soul will be able to rest.

And the most coveted and treasured this week:

Runaway by Meg Cabot
Emerson Watts is on the run: from school, from work, from her family, from her friends, from herself.

With everyone she loves furious with her for something she can't explain, and nothing but the live Stark Angel fashion show on New Year's Eve to look forward to, Em's reached the end of her rope. . .what's the point of even going on? But when she discovers the truth about Nikki's secret, she knows there's only one person she can turn to.

Will Christopher be able to put aside his personal feelings and help her expose her employer to the world? Is it even fair to get Christopher involved--since if he agrees, there's every chance that Stark Enterprises will try to have them both killed--this time, permanently?

Maybe it would be better for Em to just keep on running.

Monday- I posted an interview with Jennifer Hubbard and also guest posted over at Harmony's blog to celebrate her 2 year blogoversary. Go show me some love!
Tuesday- I uploaded my excerpt vlog, where I read an excerpt from Bleeding Violet by Dia Reeves.
Wednesday- I put up my thoughts on The Secret Year by Jennifer Hubbard, out in stores now.
Thursday- I posted an interview with Dia Reeves.
Friday- I uploaded the second excerpt vlog, where I read an excerpt from The Secret Year by Jennifer Hubbard
Saturday- I put up my thoughts on Bleeding Violet by Dia Reeves, out in stores now.

Saturday, January 9, 2010

Fresh New Voice of YA- Bleeding Violet by Dia Reeves

Bleeding Violet by Dia Reeves
"Love can be a dangerous thing...

Hanna simply wants to be loved. With a head plagued by hallucinations, a medicine cabinet full of pills, and a closet stuffed with frilly, violet dresses, Hanna's tired of being the outcast, the weird girl, the freak. So she runs away to Portero, Texas in search of a new home.

But Portero is a stranger town than Hanna expects. As she tries to make a place for herself, she discovers dark secrets that would terrify any normal soul. Good thing for Hanna, she's far from normal. As this crazy girl meets an even crazier town, only two things are certain: Anything can happen and no one is safe."- summary from Amazon

Reeves has a fantastic debut on her hands, full of suspense, realism and some original fantasy elements. I do think however that the book probably could have been a bit shorter and some parts didn't seem necessary to the plot. The prose was done really well and had a compelling feel to it, which made it difficult to put down though I had to put it down MANY times due to work and having to do other things.

Hanna was a fun character to read about and the kind of heroine all YA should have- bold, daring, able to take care of herself, weird, smart and quick thinking but also had flaws too. I liked the inclusion of her being manic-depressive and it was definitely interesting to read about, especially considering everything else going on in the book. My only problem is with the summary which I know the author didn't write but it bugs me a bit. It said "Expertly merging real issues like racial identity and mental instability with..." and I was expecting a bit more about those two issues, but neither is explored very deeply, especially the racial identity. Hanna is bi-racial but it's hardly ever mentioned and it's not like anyone in the book seems to have a problem with it. So that was a bit of a letdown for me; I definitely thought it would have been interesting to explore those issues within this urban fantasy realm.

I will say this: The Mayor made me SO PISSED OFF. Like you have no idea- characters sometimes make me angry but this one (and few others) made me want to punch something, preferably the character herself. My goodness, she was such a rhymes-with-witch. She doesn't really show up until the ending, which is amazingly suspenseful and fantastic. I was on the edge of my seat, trying not to look ahead while reading to see what happened next. That was an amazing climax.

All in all, go get this book! You should not be disappointed.

FTC: Recieved ARC from publisher. Amazon link is an Associate link; any profits go toward funding contests.

Friday, January 8, 2010

FNV Excerpt Vlog- The Secret Year by Jennifer Hubbard

Check out this vlog where I read an excerpt from The Secret Year by Jennifer Hubbard which I reviewed the other day!

Be sure to check out all the other great posts from this week! Also, hardly anyone has commented on my guest blog for Harmony's 2 year blogoversary! Go comment!! Thanks to those who've already done so! :)

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Fresh New Voice of YA- Dia Reeves interview

1) How did you get the idea for Bleeding Violet?

I just brainstormed a list of topics I thought would be fun to write about. "Crazy girls" and "monsters" topped the list.

2) What was The Call like? Tell us all about it!

The Call was actually The Email. I had only just started querying agents for Bleeding Violet when I got an email from one of the agents saying how she was in "mad love" with the story and what would be a good time to call me and talk about representation. So we talked about everything and it was her enthusiasm that really sold me and the fact that she understood the kind of story I wanted to tell. Enthusiasm in an agent is priceless.

3) What book(s) are you working on now? Can you tell us anything about them?

I sent a draft of my second book, Strange Fruit, to my editor. Strange Fruit isn't a sequel to Bleeding Violet, but it takes place in the same town. SF is about the two daughters of a serial killer who have inherited their father's murderous urges, but unlike him, they only kill to help other people. It has a Dexter meets Ginger Snaps vibe.

4) Have you always been a fan of YA, or are you still new to it all?

I've been reading YA since before it was even called YA. I cut my teeth on Norma Klein, Jerry Spinelli, Katherine Patterson, Barthe DeClements, and Madeleine L'Engle. And of course now there are a bunch of newer writers I'm excited about like Suzanne Collins, Rachel Hawkins, L.K. Madigan, and Kristin Cashore.

5) What is your favorite Jelly Belly jelly bean flavor?

I actually won a HUGE jar of Jelly Belly Jelly Beans when I was in college. :D The cheesacake flavored ones are my favorite (I'm a cheesecake junkie from way back), but I also like the popcorn flavored ones.

6) What book(s) are you reading now, or are about to start?

I'm reading Forest Born by Shannon Hale and Nice Girls Don't Date Dead Men by Molly Harper. They're both pretty good so far.

7) In your very short bio that someone else came up with, there's a mention of you manning space missions for NASA. What does this mean?

It means I hate talking about myself, so I am apt to either keep quiet, make up lies, or enlist friends to make up lies for me. Seriously, my life is deadly dull: I go to work, then I come home and either read or write. That's really it. See? Now wouldn't you rather read about my adventures with NASA? Or about that one baboon I mud-wrestled with?

8) You're part of The Tenners. How did you get involved with this group, and how has it helped you in getting ready for the release of your book?

I found out about the Tenners from the blueboards, which is this forum where a lot of writers and aspiring writers hang out. I knew a lot of the people in the Tenners from the blueboards, so it was a comfortable transition for me. Being in the Tenners is great because we all dish about the industry and warn one another about what to expect. We commiserate over disappointments and cheer one another's triumphs, so for me it's been invaluable. Publishing can be stressful and uncertain and lonely, so it's nice to have your buddies around you, especially when they're going through the same things.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Fresh New Voice of YA- The Secret Year by Jennifer Hubbard

The Secret Year by Jennifer Hubbard
"Take Romeo and Juliet. Add The Outsiders. Mix thoroughly.

Colt and Julia were secretly together for an entire year, and no one—not even Julia’s boyfriend— knew. They had nothing in common, with Julia in her country club world on Black Mountain and Colt from down on the flats, but it never mattered. Until Julia dies in a car accident, and Colt learns the price of secrecy. He can’t mourn Julia openly, and he’s tormented that he might have played a part in her death. When Julia’s journal ends up in his hands, Colt relives their year together at the same time that he’s desperately trying to forget her. But how do you get over someone who was never yours in the first place?"- summary from Amazon

This was a really interesting book and a wonderful debut. Hubbard's writing is very realistic and atmospheric, especially during the flashbacks when Colt is remembering his times with Julia. I loved the inclusion of Julia's secret letters to Colt sprinkled throughout the book. It made for an interesting contrast to read about her thoughts regarding her times with Colt and her life in general, and then reading Colt's thoughts as well on the same events. It was refreshing to read a book from a male's perspective too; it was definitely very realistic and Hubbard did a great job of writing Colt. The short length is an issue with me, as always, since it's a hardcover but it also felt like a lot of the characters weren't fleshed out enough and it seemed a bit cramped. It was fun reading about Colt's brother in college for a reason I can't state since it's a big reveal and also because I like reading about people in college (though my college was not like the one here, lol). The ending is very good too and I liked it because it seemed like the right place and way for it to end. Definitely a recommended book though.

FTC: Recieved ARC from publisher. Amazon link is an Associate link; any profits go toward funding contests.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

FNV Excerpt Vlog- Bleeding Violet by Dia Reeves

Before I show the vlog, Harmony's got her two year blogoversary going on and I guest blogged for her! Go read and comment please!!

Here's the vlog for Bleeding Violet!:

Hope you all enjoyed it! Be sure to go check out my interview with Jennifer Hubbard that I posted yesterday!

Monday, January 4, 2010

Fresh New Voice of YA- Jennifer Hubbard interview

1) How did you get the idea for The Secret Year?

I had a situation in mind: a secret relationship where one of the people dies suddenly; a notebook left behind. That’s all I knew at first, so I wrote the book to find out more.

2) What was The Call like? Tell us all about it!

It took a while for it to sink in. My agent called and told me about the offer, but it took hours after that for my mind to adjust. So I didn’t jump up and down screaming right away, but I’m sure I smiled a lot the rest of the week!

3) What book(s) are you working on now? Can you tell us anything about them?

I can’t talk much about works in progress, because too much discussion saps the momentum of a project. But I see myself staying with contemporary YA for quite a while.

4) Have you always been a fan of YA, or are you still new to it all?

I’ve always loved it. I kept reading it even when I was past the target age. What drew me was the clarity, the emotional depth, and the very close narrative distance that I found in so many YA novels. Now the adult/YA cross-over audience is much larger, and I’m glad so many more people have discovered how good these books are.

5) What is your favorite Jelly Belly jelly bean flavor? Also, since I know you're a chocolate lover, what's your favorite kind of chocolate to eat?

I haven’t had jelly beans in a long time. But I like dark chocolate plain, or with mint, or with coconut, or with nuts, or with raspberry—in fact, there are very few ways I don’t like it!

6) What book(s) are you reading now, or are about to start?

I’m rereading Jane Austen’s Persuasion at the moment. My TBR pile is large, but Struts and Frets by Jon Skovron may be the next one I start.

7) In your bio, you said you love to hike. Where do you usually hike? What is it about hiking that you love?

I walk every day in my neighborhood. On weekends, I might hike in Pennsylvania state parks, arboretums, or the local wildlife refuge. Once a year, my husband and I take a big vacation where we hike every day. We like the national parks; we’ve been to Mount Rainier, Yosemite, Rocky Mountain, and others. We honeymooned in Bryce Canyon and Zion National Parks.

8) You're a part of the Class of 2k10. How did you get involved with that, and how is it helped you in preparing for your book to be released?

I was actually a member of the Class of 2k9 first, because my book was originally scheduled for 2009. When the Class of 2k10 was getting off the ground, I decided to stay with them because of the energy and enthusiasm that the new authors were bringing. Debut author groups are great for sharing information and support, since we're all going through a similar process at the same time.

Sunday, January 3, 2010

In My Mailbox- Week of December 28 + Retrospective

No vlog this week due to only getting two books, but I got enough these past couple weeks to keep me busy for a LONG time. And this is my first 2010 IMM!! YAY! :)

The Mark by Jen Nadol
Cassandra Renfield has always seen the mark—a glow around certain people reminiscent of candlelight. But the one time she mentioned it, it was dismissed as a trick of the light. Until the day she watches a man awash in the mark die. After searching her memories, Cassie realizes she can see a person’s imminent death. Not how or where, only when: today.

Armed with a vague understanding of the light, Cassie begins to explore her “gift,” seeking those marked for death and probing the line between decision and destiny. Though she’s careful to hide her secret—even from her new philosophy-obsessed boyfriend—with each impending death comes the temptation to test fate. But so many questions remain. How does the mark work? Why is she the only one who sees it? And finally, the most important of all: If you know today is someone’s last, should you tell them?

Woods Runner by Gary Paulsen
Samuel, 13, spends his days in the forest, hunting for food for his family. He has grown up on the frontier of a British colony, America. Far from any town, or news of the war against the King that American patriots have begun near Boston.

But the war comes to them. British soldiers and Iroquois attack. Samuel’s parents are taken away, prisoners. Samuel follows, hiding, moving silently, determined to find a way to rescue them. Each day he confronts the enemy, and the tragedy and horror of this war. But he also discovers allies, men and women working secretly for the patriot cause. And he learns that he must go deep into enemy territory to find his parents: all the way to the British headquarters, New York City.

Monday- I posted my review of Magic Under Glass by Jaclyn Dolamore.

Wednesday- I posted my review of The Lonely Hearts Club by Elizabeth Eulberg.

Saturday- I put up my list of books that I read in 2009, which totaled a whopping 135. Very proud of myself.