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

Thursday, September 30, 2010

Russian Winter by Daphne Kalotay

Russian Winter by Daphne Kalotay
"When she decides to auction her remarkable jewelry collection, Nina Revskaya, once a great star of the Bolshoi Ballet, believes she has finally drawn a curtain on her past. Instead, the former ballerina finds herself overwhelmed by memories of her homeland and of the events, both glorious and heartbreaking, that changed the course of her life half a century ago.

It was in Russia that she discovered the magic of the theater; that she fell in love with the poet Viktor Elsin; that she and her dearest companions—Gersh, a brilliant composer, and the exquisite Vera, Nina’s closest friend—became victims of Stalinist aggression. And it was in Russia that a terrible discovery incited a deadly act of betrayal—and an ingenious escape that led Nina to the West and eventually to Boston.

Nina has kept her secrets for half a lifetime. But two people will not let the past rest: Drew Brooks, an inquisitive young associate at a Boston auction house, and Grigori Solodin, a professor of Russian who believes that a unique set of jewels may hold the key to his own ambiguous past. Together these unlikely partners begin to unravel a mystery surrounding a love letter, a poem, and a necklace of unknown provenance, setting in motion a series of revelations that will have life-altering consequences for them all."- summary from Amazon

First off, this is an adult fiction book, so it's different from what I normally review. In fact, it's very close to literary fiction and far from the adult chicklit of Meg Cabot I usually review when I venture over to the adult side every so often.

Anyway, I really enjoyed this book. It's on the quiet side and very much a character-based novel but Kalotay makes the prose and characters just so compelling and engaging that it's hard to put the book down. As mentioned in the summary, the main event that sets the ball rolling is Nina setting out to auction off her jewelry collection. It's this one event that triggers these other characters into action- Drew because she works at the auction house and Grigoli because of his mysterious connection to Nina- and also brings up memories of and introspectives about their lives.

The story itself flows easily between three different characters (technically a fourth too, if you count young Nina)- Nina, Drew, and Grigoli- as well as past and present. It sounds like it would be confusing, but within the first sentence of each new section, you know who's being focused on. It's also made easier by the fact that this is written in third person, flitting about between each character's mind and life.

There's also some romance and a mystery going on throughout the book but those aren't really at the forefront. What really takes center stage here is an examination of these characters' lives- how they grew up, their relationships with others, how they got to where they are today, feeling trapped in where they are now, and what they can do about that for the future, among many other things. These are characters I really grew to care about over the 460 page novel (yes, it's a long one, but you barely notice it) and I was sad having to see them go when I turned the last page.

Two style choices I wanted to mention- 1) On the ARC, the edges of the page on the side of the book are kind of tattered and journal-like (I don't really know how to describe it, but if you've seen Radiance by Alyson Noel, the ARC is set up exactly like it, including the cover flaps). I'm not sure if the hardcover will be the same in regards to the page type used, but I so hope it is because it's just so cool! 2) In between each chapter, there's a description of one of the pieces of jewelry being auctioned off as it would appear in the booklet handed out at the auction. I thought that was a really nice touch to the story.

Overall, it's just really an amazing debut that's so well-crafted, heartbreaking, hopeful, funny, and a plethora of other wonderful adjectives. If you're in the mood for an adult read and you love character-based stories, definitely check this one out.

FTC: Received ARC at BEA (signed! The author is also a former teacher of mine when she was the writer-in-residence at my college one year). Link above is an Amazon Associates link; any profit goes toward funding contests.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Ask Book Chic (12) + Contest

This is my last set of questions!! So I'm holding another contest as a way to get more questions. As you probably saw in my In My Mailbox post from the other week (and this week when I showed it off again, lol), I got an extra copy of Anna and the French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins in the mail. It's a highly coveted book with a ton of gushing reviews for it already and it could be yours early! It won't be out until December, but you can win it now! Just leave a question for me in the comments (browse through previous Ask Book Chics by clicking on the Ask Book Chic tag at the bottom of this post so you don't ask a repeat question). It can be about ANYTHING at all- personal, blog-related, writing-related, advice, life-related, silly, whatever. This contest will end next Tuesday, October 5 at 11:59 PM and a winner will be chosen randomly. So ask away!

donnas asks "What are the five books you would recommend to a new reader?

What is your favorite part of blogging?

What author do you really want to meet and interview?"

1) This is gonna be hard. Hm. Well, I'll try my best. I'm going to include a bunch of different genres. Here are my picks:

A) All American Girl by Meg Cabot (because Meg needs to be on any recommended list, and this is one of her best!)
B) Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson (because it's an awesome, very well-written book)
C) Bad Kitty by Michele Jaffe (A hilarious book filled with even funnier footnotes)
D) In Your Room by Jordanna Fraiberg (Hands down, the cutest romance I have ever read)
E)Guardian of the Dead by Karen Healey (one of the best paranormal books out there- original, funny, romantic, and some great folklore that isn't seen much, if at all)

So there's my list. What do you all think of it? What would be on your list?

2) I feel like I've answered this before... but my favorite part of blogging is the community. I love chatting with fellow bloggers both about blog-related stuff but also many other things so I can get to know them. Chatting with authors is always fun too, and I feel privileged to be able to email with them or hang out with them at events. My readers too bring joy to my blogging life- I love getting comments and the occasional email about a post they loved or about how they like the site as a whole. It's what makes blogging so worthwhile.

I also enjoy the review copies because, well, who wouldn't? I'm not gonna lie. They're a great perk.

3) I don't even know!! I've already interviewed so many of my favorite authors (sometimes more than once!), like Meg Cabot, Ally Carter, Brent Hartinger, Justina Chen Headley, Sarah Dessen, Ellen Hopkins, and so many others. I've also met all those authors in person, except for Brent and Justina (I need to go to Seattle again...), though the Meg meeting was two years before I started blogging.

I am excited for a forthcoming interview though, with Michele Jaffe for her upcoming book Rosebush, out in December. She and I have met (at BEA- also got to meet her agent and editor), but have only planned for the interview. I have yet to come up with questions though (well, I've thought of some, just haven't written them down) because I'm waiting for it to be a bit closer to the release date.

Erika Lynn asks "How have your reading habits changed since you started blogging? and also what other blogs do you read/comment on?"

1) I'm certainly reading much more than I used to! There's also more of a variety too because I'm getting sent books I probably would never have picked up just through browsing the bookstore. Aside from that, not much else has changed; I still read anywhere I can and always have a book with me.

2) I read a ton of blogs and my Google Reader is always full. I really need to get it back under control, lol. However, my work day routine usually consists of me checking out The Story Siren, Dreaming in Books, and The Naughty Book Kitties in terms of book blogs, and Meg Cabot, Kiersten White, Stephanie Perkins, and Ally Carter in terms of author blogs. As for commenting, I comment on most of those, but also love commenting on Frenetic Reader and Presenting Lenore every so often too.

Monday, September 27, 2010

Ascendant by Diana Peterfreund

Ascendant by Diana Peterfreund
"Astrid Llewelyn is now a fully trained unicorn hunter, but she can’t solve all her problems with just a bow and arrow. Her boyfriend, Giovanni, has decided to leave Rome, the Cloisters is in dire financial straits, her best friend’s powers seem to be mysteriously disintegrating, and Astrid can’t help but feel that school, home, and her hopes of becoming a scientist are nothing but impossible dreams.

So when she’s given the opportunity to leave the Cloisters and put her skills to use as part of a scientific quest to discover the Remedy, Astrid leaps at the chance. Finally, she can have exactly what she wants—or can she? At Gordian headquarters, deep in the French countryside, Astrid begins to question everything she thought she believed: her love for Giovanni, her loyalty to the Cloisters, and—most of all—her duty as a hunter. Should Astrid be saving the world from killer unicorns, or saving the unicorns from the world?"- summary from Amazon

Usually sequels can be a letdown because they just aren't as good as the original. This wasn't the case with Ascendant. It felt like such a natural continuation of the storyline and of Astrid's emotional journey of being a unicorn hunter and what it really means to be one.

There are so many twists and turns with this book, just like with Rampant, but unlike Rampant, there aren't that many action scenes going on. Now that all the hunters are trained, and because of other circumstances happening, there are only like one or two action sequences. A lot of the book focuses on Astrid and her issues with her boyfriend, another guy that comes along, whether she wants to be a hunter, and many more things, which I really enjoyed seeing.

I love Peterfreund's prose. It just flows, is realistic, and has me turning pages so quickly and you won't believe how quickly you get through an almost 400 page novel. While the book ended well, I want more Astrid!! It's one of those things where you're content but you also want more. I feel like she ended it that way in case there was a demand for more (or maybe not; maybe this is the final ending she dreamed of all along) because I think there could be at least one more adventure left for Astrid.

Overall, this was a fun outing and it was nice to see a lot more of Astrid emotionally, as well as other characters. It felt like more of the secondary characters really got fleshed out and got to share the spotlight a bit. Definitely a great read.

Fun note: If you read Diana's story in Zombies vs. Unicorns, that character appears in this book! It was so much fun to see her appear, even if just for a little bit. It was a nice crossover.

FTC: Received ARC from publisher. Link above is an Amazon Associate link; any profit goes toward funding contests.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

In My Mailbox- Week of September 20 + Retrospective

I finally did a vlog! AND it's short! Of course, it cut me off, but I only had one book left to show, so I did pretty good.

Books Shown:

Anna and the French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins (from last week; contest coming up this Wednesday!)
Blast from the Past by Meg Cabot (from a couple weeks ago)
The Mermaid's Mirror by L.K. Madigan (signed and everything!!)
Glitz by Philana Marie Boles
XVI by Julia Karr
The Locket by Stacey Jay
Falling in Love with English Boys by Melissa Jensen
Subject Seven by James A. Moore
Leverage by Joshua Cohen
Eona by Alison Goodman (sampler)
Babe in Boyland by Jody Gehrman
Five Flavors of Dumb by Antony John
Crazy by Han Nolan
Wildthorn by Jane Eagland (not shown; got cut off)

And here's my retrospective:

Monday- I reviewed the anthology Zombies vs. Unicorns Edited by Holly Black and Justine Larbalestier.

Tuesday- I posted a bunch of various links because I lost the review I had meant to post that day.

Wednesday- I reviewed Hush by Eishes Chayil, which is out in stores now.

Thursday- I reviewed The Ivy by Lauren Kunze and Rina Onur, which is out in stores now.

Friday- I posted my Fragment Friday vlog, in which I read from Boy Meets Girl by Meg Cabot.

Saturday- I reviewed The Replacement by Brenna Yovanoff, which is out in stores now.

Saturday, September 25, 2010

The Replacement by Brenna Yovanoff

The Replacement by Brenna Yovanoff
"Mackie Doyle is not one of us. Though he lives in the small town of Gentry, he comes from a world of tunnels and black murky water, a world of living dead girls ruled by a little tattooed princess. He is a Replacement, left in the crib of a human baby sixteen years ago. Now, because of fatal allergies to iron, blood, and consecrated ground, Mackie is fighting to survive in the human world.

Mackie would give anything to live among us, to practice on his bass or spend time with his crush, Tate. But when Tate's baby sister goes missing, Mackie is drawn irrevocably into the underworld of Gentry, known as Mayhem. He must face the dark creatures of the Slag Heaps and find his rightful place, in our world, or theirs."- summary from Amazon

The Replacement wasn't what I was expecting, but that's not a bad thing. It's still a very good book, but I was expecting it to be creepier than it actually was, due to the cover, blurb and summary. It does still have a creepy atmosphere, but it just didn't scare me like I thought it might.

Anyway, the book was still really good. Yovanoff has a wonderful debut on her hands, and I know it'll do really well. Mackie is a great, really flawed character and it was interesting reading the book from his perspective, as an extreme outsider, someone who should've died but didn't and doesn't really belong in the human world. It's a fascinating character study of sorts to watch Mackie try to find his sense of belonging while sort of avoiding it at the same time. The story can be pretty introspective and quiet at times, and it was a nice change of pace.

All the other characters were really interesting to read about too, and they're all pretty fleshed out. I particularly enjoyed the character of Emma, Mackie's sister. She was always looking out for him, joking around, and loving him.

It took me a while to get into the book, but once I did, it was hard to put down, especially during the last 100 pages or so. The climax and ending were really good too and had me on the edge of my seat, turning pages as quickly as I could.

Overall, The Replacement is a great, eerie debut, though don't expect it to scare you, and I'm looking forward to seeing what Yovanoff writes next.

FTC: Snagged ARC at BEA early in the morning during a rush of the stack of books gathered around a carriage like on the cover. Link above is an Amazon Associates link; any profit goes toward funding contests.

Friday, September 24, 2010

Fragment Friday- Boy Meets Girl by Meg Cabot

Fragment Friday is a weekly meme hosted here on this blog where you read an excerpt from either your current read or one of your favorite books and post it on your blog to share with others!

Here is my long video from last week, but hey, it's 10 minutes of Meg Cabot goodness! Well, ok, the first three minutes are me rambling but that's still good too. Hope you enjoy!

Put your link down in the Mr. Linky below!

Thursday, September 23, 2010

The Ivy by Lauren Kunze and Rina Onur

The Ivy by Lauren Kunze and Rina Onur
"Congratulations! You have been admitted to the most prestigious university in the world. Now what are you going to do?

Callie Andrews may not have money or connections or the right clothes, and she may have way too many complications in her love life, what with—

Gregory, the guy she loves to hate

Evan, the guy she'd love to forget

Clint, the guy she'd love to love

and Matt, the guy she really should love

—all vying for her attention.

But she has three fantastic roommates (best friends or her worst nightmare?) and a wholesome California-girl reputation (oops) and brains and beauty and big, big dreams. Will it be enough to help her survive freshman year at Harvard?"- summary from Amazon

I'm doing a really good job of picking books out because I keep going back and forth between heavier reads and lighter reads. I love it. Anyway, I really liked The Ivy. I was initially intrigued by it because of the fact that it takes place at college and very few books have that as the setting. It's such a fun setting- more YA books need to take place at college!

Anyway, this is such a laugh-out-loud book; I even read several bits to my roommate because she kept asking me why I was giggling. All of the characters had some great witty moments, but I think Mimi was my favorite of all. The interactions just flowed really well and they were realistic. The dynamics and relationships between the characters were done well too and it was interesting to see those change from beginning to end.

I really enjoyed the little bits from the Harvard magazine and emails at the beginning of each chapter. It was a fun way to include some off-topic stuff without it pulling you out of the story.

Callie was a fun and flawed heroine and even though the book is written in third person, she's clearly the main character, but it's also nice to see other perspectives every so often too. This is one of those books that just made me forget it was in third person. Usually, third person is hard for me because I read so much first person but this story felt like it needed to be told that way, so it didn't bother me.

One thing that did bother me was how there were THREE guys wanting to get with Callie. Love triangles can be hard enough to believe, but THREE guys? It just boggled my mind. Send one my way, Callie. You don't need all of them. And then there isn't a clear bad guy in the bunch; all of them are pretty darn perfect. Which I guess is kind of a good thing since I do hate it when one guy is clearly for the heroine and then the other guy is revealed to be a jerk, but it still seemed unrealistic. I know, you just can't win with me. :P

Another thing that bothered me was this secret that Callie had (it's a spoiler, so I won't say anything, but if you've read the book, email me for my thoughts) and how she chose to handle it. I mean, to me, it just caused unneccessary drama, mainly with one particular person.

Overall, though, it is still a very fun, light read. It's definitely worth a check, and I can't wait to read the sequel.

FTC: Received ARC at BEA (signed!). Link above is an Amazon Associate link; any profit goes toward funding contests.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Hush by Eishes Chayil

Hush by Eishes Chayil
"Inside the closed community of Borough Park, where most Chassidim live, the rules of life are very clear, determined by an ancient script written thousands of years before down to the last detail—and abuse has never been a part of it. But when thirteen-year-old Gittel learns of the abuse her best friend has suffered at the hands of her own family member, the adults in her community try to persuade Gittel, and themselves, that nothing happened. Forced to remain silent, Gittel begins to question everything she was raised to believe."- summary from Amazon

I will admit that when I got this book at BEA, I only got it for the cover (which doesn't look that good on the internet but in person, it's great. So anyway, I had no idea what the book was about until I picked it up to read. Luckily, the summary really pulled me in. It was very original and featured a setting I'd never read about before.

I could hardly put the book down. For most of it, it's kind of a quiet book. There is that sense of mystery going on with what sort of abuse Gittel's friend went through, and the reveal of it is heart-breaking to read. But a lot of it is very character-heavy and about Gittel's guilt over it and the silence she has to endure. But even though it's more character-driven than plot-driven, the narrative voice really pulled me in and kept me turning the pages.

Despite the abuse side of the story, there is humor sprinkled throughout the novel. Now, there's legitimate humor, and then there's stuff I laughed at that I probably shouldn't have, as it pertained to their culture and how they're raised and what they're taught. On the flipside, what they're taught about the outside world and non-Jews shocked me. It just didn't seem right and more hateful than most religions as they seemed to hate everybody but their own.

The story is divided up into two parts- the first part alternates between 2003 (when Devory is still alive) and 2009 (when Gittel is close to marrying age) and the second part is 2010 when Gittel is married off. I think Chayil did a great job of weaving the first part together and making it flow cohesively.

Overall, this is a powerful, lyrical, heart-wrenching story and is highly recommended, especially for fans of Ellen Hopkins and Laurie Halse Anderson.

FTC: Recieved ARC at BEA. Link above is an Amazon Associate link; any profit goes toward funding contests.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Various Links

So I had a review ready to go of Hush by Eishes Chayil (great book) and I hit Publish and then I LOST IT because Blogger is an idiot. I promptly tweeted about my anger, then went to bed. I am much too lazy right now to re-write it all, so I'll just do it tonight and the review will be up tomorrow.

In the meantime, I decided to share some links with you! :)

Brent from the Naughty Book Kitties asked me and a few other bloggers what I thought about celebrity YA novels. Check out our answers here!

I asked Meg Cabot, Michele Jaffe, and Lauren Myracle to mark up a copy of Prom Nights From Hell for the Leave a Mark Auctions and the auction is now live! Go here to start bidding! The next auction after this one is for Trance by Linda Gerber, so keep an eye out for that!

If you want more insight into bloggers and authors' minds, check out The Story Siren's series of Blogger Insight (which may be ending soon- sadness!!) and WastepaperProse's Author Insight (much longer and will continue- yay!!)

Monday, September 20, 2010

Zombies vs. Unicorns Edited by Holly Black and Justine Larbalestier

Zombies vs. Unicorns Edited by Holly Black and Justine Larbalestier
"It's a question as old as time itself: which is better, the zombie or the unicorn? In this anthology, edited by Holly Black and Justine Larbalestier (unicorn and zombie, respectively), strong arguments are made for both sides in the form of short stories. Half of the stories portray the strengths--for good and evil--of unicorns and half show the good (and really, really bad-ass) side of zombies. Contributors include many bestselling teen authors, including Cassandra Clare, Libba Bray, Maureen Johnson, Meg Cabot, Scott Westerfeld, and Margo Lanagan. This anthology will have everyone asking: Team Zombie or Team Unicorn?"- summary from Amazon

I loved this anthology and it's one of the best out there. What I really enjoyed most was the back and forth banter between Holly and Justine before each story. It's not often in anthologies you get something like that and I'd love to see more of it. My favorite stories (though I loved most all of them) included Alaya Dawn Johnson's, Naomi Novik's, Carrie Ryan's, Meg Cabot's, Maureen Johnson's, and Diana Peterfreund's (equally divided between zombies and unicorns, lol).

On the zombie side, Alaya's story was my absolute favorite because not only was it a zombie romance but it was a GAY zombie romance! How cool is that? While I was reading it, I told my roommate "Guess what I'm reading? A GAY ZOMBIE STORY!!!" It was cute and disgusting at the same time, which is pretty hard to pull off. Carrie's story is very much like her books and is that same sort of style. I really liked the back and forth between past and present- how her character got to where she was and how she was doing at the moment. Maureen's story is just like her- very funny and insane. I think Justine describes it best: "Maureen Johnson's brain does not work like that of most people. Possibly because it's already infected."

On the unicorn side, my absolute favorite would have to be Naomi Novik's because it was so hilarious and just awesome (I also find it funny that my absolute favorites come from authors I've never heard of before). Meg Cabot always delivers in whatever she does and this was no exception. It was funny, had a small romance, and some kick-butt action. Oh, and unicorns farting rainbows. Diana's was great too and was probably one of the longest in the anthology. There were some references to her Rampant series (unicorn hunters from Italy and all that) and it was just a really cool story.

There was one story I wasn't all that into. That was Margo Lanagan's story (a unicorn one) and it was just weird. I couldn't follow it at all and eventually just gave up. I couldn't get through it.

Overall, this was a wonderful anthology from a ton of great authors. I definitely recommend it. For the record, I'm still on Team Unicorn; not changing my mind ever.

FTC: Received ARC at ALA (and has now been signed by Diana Peterfreund!). Link above is an Amazon Associate link; any profit goes toward funding contests.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

In My Mailbox + Retrospective

Hey everyone! Just another list this week. I got some great titles though that I'm very excited about:

Desires of the Dead by Kimberly Derting
The Unidentified by Rae Mariz
Tempestuous by Lesley Livingston
Anna and the French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins (2nd copy- will be holding contest for it!)

and I feel like there was one or two others but I can't remember what they were. A small week, but that's for the best, lol. And they're all titles I'm really excited for!

And here's my weekly retrospective:

Monday- I reviewed Firelight by Sophie Jordan, which is out in stores now!

Tuesday- I reviewed Low Red Moon by Ivy Devlin, which is out in stores now!

Wednesday- I posted the 11th edition of Ask Book Chic, where I talked about if I get negative reactions for being an adult YA reader, how I choose what to read, and if I'll still be blogging in 5 years.

Thursday- I reviewed Fallout by Ellen Hopkins, which is out in stores now!

Friday- I posted the Fragment Friday entry but unfortunately, due to my laptop being out of commission, I couldn't post my fragment this week!

Saturday- I reviewed Tyger Tyger by Kersten Hamilton, which will be out in stores in November!

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Tyger Tyger by Kersten Hamilton

Tyger Tyger by Kersten Hamilton
"Teagan Wylltson's best friend, Abby, dreams that horrifying creatures--goblins, shape-shifters, and beings of unearthly beauty but terrible cruelty--are hunting Teagan. Abby is always coming up with crazy stuff, though, so Teagan isn't worried. Her life isn't in danger. In fact, it's perfect. She's on track for a college scholarship. She has a great job. She's focused on school, work, and her future. No boys, no heartaches, no problems.

Until Finn Mac Cumhaill arrives. Finn's a bit on the unearthly beautiful side himself. He has a killer accent and a knee-weakening smile. And either he's crazy or he's been haunting Abby's dreams, because he's talking about goblins, too . . . and about being The Mac Cumhaill, born to fight all goblin-kind. Finn knows a thing or two about fighting. Which is a very good thing, because this time, Abby's right. The goblins are coming."- summary from Amazon

This book surprised me. I wasn't sure if I would like it or not, but as soon as I started reading, I was hooked. I know some of you out there want some funny paranormals (I do too) and this is one you should get. The dialogue is so funny in places but Hamilton is able to make other scenes suspenseful and tension-filled without it feeling clunky. The story just flows and it was hard for me to put it down. I was seriously flying through the pages.

I seriously loved all the characters, though my favorite is probably Teagan's friend Abby because she's really very funny. If it weren't for all the goblins and stuff, I'd seriously want to live in this world and have them as my friends. The parents are very cool and also witty, but they're not completely laid back. They're able to be strict when the need arises. The character of Ms. Skinner though? She was one I wanted to punch in the face. Repeatedly. Or at least slap her around a bit. My god, that woman was a pain.

Anyway, aside from being the rare funny paranormal, Tyger Tyger is also pretty original. I haven't seen goblins in YA literature so far, and the huge connection to old Celtic lore and other things really makes the book special. The backstories, the setting descriptions, the language of these characters and this world is just fascinating. Lucky for me, it's a trilogy, so there's more to come! But the story is tied up fairly nicely at the end, so you won't be left with a huge cliffhanger. It's similar to Paranormalcy- one adventure done, but the war is far from over.

Overall, this was a really wonderful book and I'm glad I got the chance to read it. It'll be out in November, so pre-order now!

FTC: Received ARC through Around the World tours. Link above is an Amazon Associate link; any profit goes toward funding contests.

Also, guess what? I got emailed this link of 50 Young Adult Book Blogs with a short description of each and I'M included! How awesome is that? Go check it out and see if your favorite is there!

Friday, September 17, 2010

Fragment Friday

So I had an excerpt ready to go (it was really long- 10 MINUTES! I need to re-record, lol.) and then my laptop's power cord broke and my laptop is out of battery. I ordered a new one but it won't be here for a while so I can't upload anything, which sucks. I was so excited to share a favorite book of mine with all of you that I just re-read! But you will just have to wait.

Anyway, leave your links in the Mr. Linky below.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Fallout by Ellen Hopkins

Fallout by Ellen Hopkins
"Hunter, Autumn, and Summer—three of Kristina Snow’s five children—live in different homes, with different guardians and different last names. They share only a predisposition for addiction and a host of troubled feelings toward the mother who barely knows them, a mother who has been riding with the monster, crank, for twenty years.

Hunter is nineteen, angry, getting by in college with a job at a radio station, a girlfriend he loves in the only way he knows how, and the occasional party. He's struggling to understand why his mother left him, when he unexpectedly meets his rapist father, and things get even more complicated.

Autumn lives with her single aunt and alcoholic grandfather. When her aunt gets married, and the only family she’s ever known crumbles, Autumn’s compulsive habits lead her to drink. And the consequences of her decisions suggest that there’s more of Kristina in her than she’d like to believe.

Summer doesn’t know about Hunter, Autumn, or their two youngest brothers, Donald and David. To her, family is only abuse at the hands of her father’s girlfriends and a slew of foster parents. Doubt and loneliness overwhelm her, and she, too, teeters on the edge of her mother’s notorious legacy. As each searches for real love and true family, they find themselves pulled toward the one person who links them together—Kristina, Bree, mother, addict. But it is in each other, and in themselves, that they find the trust, the courage, the hope to break the cycle."- summary from Amazon

The conclusion to the Crank trilogy is here and I was so excited to read it. As with all Ellen Hopkins' novel, it was amazing and heart-breaking to read. I enjoyed the three perspectives of Kristina's three teen and college-age children, scattered over the U.S. Hopkins did a great job of nailing each voice and I enjoyed reading from each kid's perspective.

I had a bit of trouble trying to remember everything since it's been so long since I read the previous two books. Hopkins does the best she can to refresh readers on the story, but it's a lot to fit in so some stuff is left out or explained way later. I'd definitely suggest re-reading Crank and Glass before this to really refresh your memory and prepare for this book.

I thought it was clever to move to the future and see how Kristina's habits affected her children and their lives. It's also interesting to see Kristina from a different perspective because you're in her head for the first two books. It's so sad to see her now in this novel and to see her interactions with her kids.

I don't really know what else to say about this book other than it's a fitting ending for this trilogy. Hopkins' verse is still just as amazing and even though the story is not, her words are a joy to read. Definitely pick up this series- it's simply amazing.

Also, in the beginning of the novel, there's an article from the Reno, NV paper about Marie Haskins' (mother of Kristina i.e. Ellen essentially) 15th novel, Submission, which is about vampires. I really think that Ellen needs to write that as her 15th novel. I think that would be awesome. Look for it in like 5 years, lol.

FTC: Received ARC at ALA (signed!). Link above is an Amazon Associate link; any profit goes toward funding contests.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Ask Book Chic (11)

Welcome back to Ask Book Chic, the every-other-Wednesday feature where you guys get to ask me whatever questions you want and I'll answer them as honestly as I can and to the best of my abilities. Please feel free to leave questions in the comments to be used in future Ask Book Chics, or you can email me at bookchicclub-at-gmail-dot-com.

Caroline asks "Have you ever faced any negative response for reading YA books? (I only ask as I read them despite being 31!!)"

Not really. Most people don't seem to mind when I show them whatever I'm reading or when I tell them about it, so if there's any negative reaction, it's at least not said to my face, lol. But no one seems to care. Even if they did, that wouldn't bug me because I know YA is the best genre out there. I do know that sometimes my friends will see what I'm reading and be like "That sounds really good!" My roommate is actually getting ready to read The Book Thief soon on recommendation from her mother; when I found out, I was like "THAT'S YA! I love you now!" LOL.

As for age, I'm 24 now, but I'll keep reading (and writing) YA forever, I'm sure.

ikkinlala asks "How do you choose which books you read?"

It's interesting that I got around to this question now because I recently changed it to try and better accomodate all the books I get.

Before this month, I just went willy-nilly and read whatever struck my fancy. Most of the time, it was books published during that month but not all the time so that left some books behind. So recently, I decided that I'm gonna take all the books for whatever month I'm in and read and review them all in that month. If I have any space left, I'll read books already released. So far, this is not turning out to be the case as September and October are completely filled up, unless I start reviewing on Sundays. So you will be seeing a LOT of reviews coming up.

In putting this schedule together, I just went with publication date and tried to keep them as close to it as possible, so I'm reading in the order of the schedule I made. I'm hoping after a few months of this, my TBR pile will be a little more manageable. Of course, it could also just be that most ARCs given out at BEA and ALA were from September/October since ARCs usually arrive about 3-4 months before release. Because I don't think I have that many November or December books.

Krista asks "Do you see yourself blogging in five years from now?"

I don't know if I'll be book blogging, but I'd definitely still be blogging. I say that because I hope within five years time, I'd be a published author and would be too busy to be reviewing books as consistently as I do now. But I'd still slip one in every so often, I'm sure.

But I will continue to keep this blog going until that happens. I don't plan on stopping anytime soon. It's just too much fun! :)

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Low Red Moon by Ivy Devlin

Low Red Moon by Ivy Devlin
"The only thing Avery Hood can remember about the night her parents died is that she saw silver—deadly silver, moving inhumanly fast. As much as she wants to remember who killed them, she can't, and there's nothing left to do but try to piece her life back together. Then Avery meets the new boy in school—Ben, mysterious and beautiful, with whom she feels a connection like nothing she's ever experienced. When Ben reveals he's a werewolf, Avery still trusts him—at first. Then she sees that sometimes his eyes flash inhuman silver. And she learns that she's not the only one who can't remember the night her parents died."- summary from Amazon

I quite enjoyed this paranormal(ish) debut. The mystery was really intriguing, but there didn't seem to be enough emphasis on the paranormal aspects of the book. It seemed much more like a thriller than anything else. Which isn't bad at all- like I said, I really enjoyed the book- but it's a bit misleading.

I liked the characters and Devlin does a really great job of showing everything from Avery's perspective- her grief over her parents, adjustment to a new life with a grandmother she barely knew, first love. The more realistic aspects were handled well, which can usually be a problem when it comes to paranormal books. So it was refreshing to see this here. Devlin's prose is very detailed and atmospheric and I really enjoyed that.

The romance was rushed and unexplained. The two characters barely spend any time together yet have this connection that Devlin tries to explain but it just doesn't really come together all that well. It felt unrealistic and if there is a sequel, I'd like to see them spend together and get to know each other.

The climax was really fast-paced and the villain behind it all surprised me. I seriously thought it was one person, and then another, but I never expected the guy it ended up being, but it still made sense. It wasn't completely out of the blue. The ending makes me think there'll be a sequel, but I don't think I've heard any talk of there being one so I'm not sure. This particular adventure is over, but it seems like there could be more trouble brewing.

Overall, it was a very suspenseful book with some redeeming qualities; the paranormal aspect has been done before, but this had a little twist on it, which I liked. It's an above average read, but by no means perfect. I think there really could have been some fleshing out, especially since the book (and I believe it's a hardcover) is only 196 pages long.

FTC: Received ARC at BEA (signed!). Link above is an Amazon link; any profit goes toward funding contests.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Firelight by Sophie Jordan

Firelight by Sophie Jordan
"Marked as special at an early age, Jacinda knows her every move is watched. But she longs for freedom to make her own choices. When she breaks the most sacred tenet among her kind, she nearly pays with her life. Until a beautiful stranger saves her. A stranger who was sent to hunt those like her. For Jacinda is a draki—a descendant of dragons whose greatest defense is her secret ability to shift into human form.

Forced to flee into the mortal world with her family, Jacinda struggles to adapt to her new surroundings. The only bright light is Will. Gorgeous, elusive Will who stirs her inner draki to life. Although she is irresistibly drawn to him, Jacinda knows Will's dark secret: He and his family are hunters. She should avoid him at all costs. But her inner draki is slowly slipping away—if it dies she will be left as a human forever. She'll do anything to prevent that. Even if it means getting closer to her most dangerous enemy."- summary from Amazon

This was a good start to a trilogy and I really enjoyed this original idea. You don't really see dragons/draki in YA so it was refreshing to read something that wasn't vampire or werewolf. But at the same time, there were some flaws.

First off, Jacinda was a wonderful character. I really enjoyed reading about her struggles moving to a new place where she has to deal with humans and also deal with not having a say in anything at all. Her frustration really came through and made me frustrated as well about the situations she was put in. I was really pulled into her story and her emotions.

The character dynamics and interactions were really handled well too. Each character was clearly defined and nothing ever felt forced with the dialogue or the scenes.

I also liked the romance (because I'm a romance kind of guy), but at the same time, it just didn't sit right with me. I can see why they would be attracted to each other and they did seem to converse and get to know each other but I didn't like the insta-attraction and connection they had (I read this and another book with the same thing back-to-back). It felt a bit rushed to me and wasn't really explained fully. Maybe that's a point that'll be brought up in the sequel (or maybe it was explained here and I missed it) but for right now, it seemed a bit much and a tad unrealistic.

Overall though, I did enjoy the book. It certainly had some twists and turns and ended unexpectedly, and I can't wait for the sequel. Definitely a book to pick up if you're a fan of paranormal but looking for something different than what's out there already.

FTC: Received ARC at BEA (signed!). Link above is an Amazon Associate link; any profit will go toward funding contests.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Fresh New Voice of YA- Plain Kate by Erin Bow

Plain Kate by Erin Bow
"Plain Kate lives in a world of superstitions and curses, where a song can heal a wound and a shadow can work deep magic. As the wood-carver's daughter, Kate held a carving knife before a spoon, and her wooden charms are so fine that some even call her "witch-blade" -- a dangerous nickname in a town where witches are hunted and burned in the square.
For Kate and her village have fallen on hard times. Kate's father has died, leaving her alone in the world. And a mysterious fog now covers the countryside, ruining crops and spreading fear of hunger and sickness. The townspeople are looking for someone to blame, and their eyes have fallen on Kate.

Enter Linay, a stranger with a proposition: In exchange for her shadow, he'll give Kate the means to escape the town that seems set to burn her, and what's more, he'll grant her heart's wish. It's a chance for her to start over, to find a home, a family, a place to belong. But Kate soon realizes that she can't live shadowless forever -- and that Linay's designs are darker than she ever dreamed."- summary from Amazon

This was such a wonderful, refreshing book to read, as it has some elements of paranormal but takes place in a more rural, historical setting. What it reminded me most of was Tamora Pierce and the stuff she writes, and that's a good thing. Maybe I just haven't been reading the right books but it seems like there's very few out there that take place in a world like this- a rural setting with elements of magic.

The other similarity was the strong heroine. Plain Kate is a great character that gets swept up in this whole adventure and has to mainly rely on herself. She's a character that grows up fast and has to deal with a lot of things. I really felt for her and it was so nice to see her gather her strength and stand up for herself toward the end of the novel.

My favorite part of the whole book though was the talking cat Taggle. I love seeing cats in books, and it was so awesome to see one that talked! He was such a cat, but also more than one. His character becomes pretty developed over the course of the novel. Taggle was so funny and sweet and I loved any scene that included him.

The ending was very fast-paced and contained quite a few twists and turns, and surprised me on several accounts. I could hardly turn the pages fast enough. The actual end of the book was bittersweet because I didn't want to let these characters go but it left them in such a good place and I can see more adventures happening. A sequel certainly isn't needed, but I'm definitely not opposed to one.

Overall, a really original, fresh voice (hence why she's being featured here!) with a great story to tell. Definitely a book to pick up!

FTC: Received book at BEA (signed!). Link above is Amazon Associate link; any profit goes toward funding contests.

Friday, September 10, 2010

Fresh New Voice of YA Excerpt Vlog- Personal Demons by Lisa Desrochers

Today, I'm reading from Personal Demons by Lisa Desrochers, which will be out in stores September 14.

For Fragment Friday, put your links in the Mr. Linky below!

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Fresh New Voice of YA- Interview with Erin Bow

1) How did you get the idea for Plain Kate?

I actually remember the moment. I had just finished reading this three-volume set of Russian Fairy Tales. I had been talking to my dad about a woodworking project of his. And I was on a plane. I was, in fact, returning home from a seven-cities-in-five-days trip, and I was so tired I was a bit woozy. I put my head against the glass and watched the plane take off and leave its shadow on the ground -- that shadow shrinking and getting stranger and fading away. I opened up my notebook and wrote: "A long time ago, in a market town by a looping river, there lived an orphan girl named Plain Kate." There she was: Katerina Svetlana, a woodcarver and the daughter of a carver, forced to sell her shadow to a wandering magician, up to no good. I didn't know anything else, but I had her, had Kate.

So: wood carving, Russia, fairy tales, the shadow -- that's where the idea came from. What I'd like to know is: where did the girl come from?

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

When PLAIN KATE sold, you mean?

My experience is a little unusual, because my book went to auction, so I knew The Call was coming. Round Two Bids were due at 11:00 AM. BUT, they didn't come in on time. They trickled in, and my agent refused to show them to me (wisely) until they were all ready. It was 7:00 PM before the last bid came. Meanwhile, I was at work, writing an article about load-bearing capabilities in nanostructured films. I'm not sure it was a good article, but I was trying to stay sane.

When Emily finally called, it suddenly became clear that what had been a very good bid in the initial round one was now a shatteringly good, ditch your job, change your life bid. And it was from Arthur A. Levine. "Erin," said Emily, who had worked on the book with me for three years, "I have been dreaming about making this call for a long time." And then we both started to cry.

3) You've published books of poetry and a memoir previously, and now have a Young Adult book coming out. All of them are vastly different genres- is your writing process the same for each, or was it different writing Plain Kate as opposed to your previous works?

Writing fiction and writing poetry are different and the same. The same is the care over each word, the putting together one magic sentence at a time. Different is plot. On the one hand, plot makes it easier -- it gives you a place to start writing each day, which in poetry can be very hard to find, and only happens one day in ten or twenty. On the other, to create a spell of that size, to make something seamless and whole and RIGHT, is very hard. It took me six years and four different endings.

On the other hand, the process is more or less the same. I sit down with a pen and paper and keep my hand moving.

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

I'm nearly done with a draft of a book called SORROW'S KNOT. Here's the pitch:

In the world of Sorrow’s Knot, the dead do not rest easy. Every patch of shadow might be home to something hungry and nearly invisible, something deadly. The dead can only be repelled or destroyed with magically knotted cords and yarns. The women who tie these knots are called binders.

Otter is the daughter of Willow, a binder of great power. She's a proud and privileged girl who takes it for granted that she will be a binder some day herself. But when Willow's power begins to turn inward and tear her apart, Otter finds herself trapped with a responsibility she's not ready for, and a power she no longer wants.

And I'm buried in research for a book set during the last days of the Aztec empire, called THE TELEPORTATION OF GILBERT PEREZ. It's based an old story about a 16th-century boy soldier who was mysterious teleported from Manila to Mexico City. Seriously: google it.

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

I have never had Jelly Belly beans, and I suddenly feel as if I've never lived.

6) You were at BEA back in May and signed books and were on a panel about YA Buzz Titles. Was it your first BEA? Did you have fun? Tell us about your experience.

Oh, man. It was my first BEA, my first trip to a big conference ever.

Just the story of my arrival will give you some sense of how overwhelmingly fabulous it was. I took my family -- I have two girls, Vivian who's four, and Eleanor, who's two -- and we came into NYC by train. When it got to New York, it turned out the car service Scholastic was sending to Penn Station was a stretch limo!!!! LORD, I am not important enough for a stretch limo. Vivian, who is the real world avatar of Fancy Nancy, thought this was the bees knees. She walked down the street like "New York, where have you been all my life?" I was more on the side of Nora, who was so anxious that she cried when I went to the bathroom.

Anyway, I got to meet my beloved agent Emily and my genius editor Arthur Levine for the first time. Arthur got up in front of a huge roomful of people and compared PLAIN KATE to other books he'd had a hand in: HARRY POTTER, THE GOLDEN COMPASS. I just about fainted. Later on I signed copies of the ARC for two solid hours, until I last the knack of my signature and had to start printing "Erin." And then I started to misspell it.

In short it was amazing, and it left me all but brain-dead. (Maybe that will help me SORROW'S KNOT…)

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

I just finished LITTLE BEE, which I'm the only person in the world to dislike, and SHIP BREAKER, which was such a rush of good stuff. I ate it up in two days and am now possessed by a burning desire to write near-future climate-shock dystopia. My hubby reads to me every day; we're reading THE CROWFIELD CURSE. It's a good one for to read aloud: gently magic. I have THE STORY OF LUCY GALT at the top of my to-be-read pile, but I might swap it out for MOCKINGJAY, which just came out.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Fresh New Voice of YA- Personal Demons by Lisa Desrochers

Personal Demons by Lisa Desrochers
"If you had to choose between Heaven and Hell, which would it be?

Are you sure about that...?

Frannie Cavanaugh is a good Catholic girl with a wicked streak. She's spent years keeping everyone at a distance--even her closest friends--and it seems her senior year will be more of the same...until Luc Cain enrolls in her class. No one knows where he came from, but Frannie can't seem to stay away from him. What she doesn't know is that Luc works in Acquisitions--for Hell--and she possesses a unique skill set that has the king of Hell tingling with anticipation. All Luc has to do is get her to sin, and he's as tempting as they come. Frannie doesn't stand a chance.

Unfortunately for Luc, Heaven has other plans, and the angel, Gabe, is going to do whatever it takes to make sure that Luc doesn't get what he came for. And it isn't long before they find themselves fighting for more than just her soul.

But if Luc fails, there will be Hell to pay...for all of them."- summary from Amazon

First off, isn't the cover just amazing? All covers should have hot guys on them. WE NEED MORE HOT GUYS! PREFERABLY SHIRTLESS!

Ahem. Anyway, moving on, I really liked this book. It stumbled a bit for me in the beginning and I actually wasn't sure if I would even continue it. This rarely happens to me (in fact, I've only done it with one other book this year), but I soldiered on and it got much better.

I'm always a fan of multiple perspectives and this one is no exception. I was a bit surprised to see no POV from Gabe, the angel, but if you read my interview with Lisa Desrochers from Monday, you'll see why that is. I did enjoy seeing the story from both Frannie and Luc's perspectives and the story definitely warranted it. It was executed very well and switched at just the right moments.

The romance is of course very steamy but was also pretty sweet too. I would love to have two hot guys fight over me, but I wouldn't want to be in Frannie's EXACT position because it was very dangerous. I'll just take the two guys, thanks. But it was fun seeing the different interactions between Frannie and the two guys. Desrochers did a really great job with that.

I went through the book pretty quickly once I got past that beginning; it was hard to put the book down. The ending for me was very unexpected and took some twists that I didn't see coming. I was wondering all throughout the book how the story would keep going. This book is by no means short, clocking in at 350 pages, so how could the story continue past this? Well, she made it work and I'm excited to read the next book.

FTC: Received from Around the World tours. Link above is an Amazon link; any profit goes toward funding contests.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Fresh New Voice of YA- Plain Kate Excerpt Vlog

Here's my excerpt vlog for Plain Kate by Erin Bow, which is out in stores now!

Hope you all enjoyed it!

Monday, September 6, 2010

Fresh New Voice of YA- Interview with Lisa Desrochers

1) How did you get the idea for Personal Demons and the trilogy? Was it always envisioned as a trilogy? Also, is there a reason you only wrote from Frannie and Luc's perspective and excluded Gabe's point of view?

Everyone already knows I’m crazy, so I may as well come clean. I hear voices in my head. The name Lucifer Cain popped into my head one day and I thought to myself: What a fun name for a demon. He started talking and I took dictation. Then Frannie spoke up and demanded I tell her side of the story. When Gabe showed up, he had a strong presence, but I always heard him through Luc or Frannie. Not only didn’t he demand a POV, he didn’t want one.

I never write with an outline. My story flows directly from my characters. There have been times when I thought I knew where we were going, only to end up somewhere completely different. I had no idea Personal Demons was going to be a whole book when I started, forget a trilogy. But then it sold in a three-book deal, so, voila, a trilogy it is! Interestingly, Gabe is demanding a POV in book three (Hellbent), and who am I to refuse an angel.

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

I’m not sure which The Call you mean. The first call from an agent offering representation was pretty amazing. I was lucky enough to get a few of those calls, so it really helped my confidence. When my agent called telling me we had our first offer on Personal Demons, that was a huge relief. A lot of agented books never sell, so I felt extremely lucky. When the second offer came, my jaw nearly fell off and I may or may not have squeed a little.

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

At the moment, I’m neck deep in Hellbent (Personal Demons #3). I’ve already mentioned that Gabe is finally ready to speak up in this book, but other than that, I can’t tell you much without spoiling Personal Demons and Original Sin. Sorry…

4) You run a PT (Physical Therapy) practice as your day job. What made you go into that field and start your own practice?

I was a totally nerdy science geek in high school. Give me something dead and I would dissect it. When I trashed my knee during a gymnastics meet, I asked the doctor if I could watch the surgery. They used a spinal anesthesia and I got to watch the whole thing on the TV screen. Way cool. Hammers, chisels, blood. That was all just before I applied to college, so PT seemed like a good fit. I started my own practice cuz I don’t do other people’s rules very well.

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

Watermelon. I even like the way they look. I live near the Jelly Belly factory, so I go over every once in a while and get the seconds really cheep. Omnomnom. =)

6) In your bio, you mention that your weekend job involves "lecturing internationally on a variety of health care topics". How did this come about and, while your trips probably don't involve much sight-seeing, what's been your favorite place to visit so far?

Yes, I have a day job, and night job and a weekend job. Sleep is overrated. I teach seminars for the Upledger Institute. I recently got back from Singapore, which was interesting. I was lucky enough to stay with a local sponsor there who took pity on me and showed me around. I spent a few weeks in Christchurch, New Zealand, which was beautiful, and also in Sydney, Australia. I loved both. If they’ll let me back into the country, which is always a little dicey, I’d like to see more of both.

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

Just finished Mockingjay this week along with the rest of the civilized world. Looking at my TBR pile, let’s see…there’s Beautiful Darkness by Kami and Margie, The Replacement by Brenna Yovanoff, Firelight by Sophie Jordan, Shadowed Summer by Saundra Mitchell, Hex Hall by Rachel Hawkins, Inside Out by Maria V. Snyder and Burned by PC and Kristin Cast. Which would you suggest?

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Retrospective + In My Mailbox

I did some great posts this past week that I'd love you all to go back and comment on if you missed them the first time around! :)

Sunday- I posted about my review process as part of a little meme started by Adele at Persnickety Snark.

Monday- I reviewed Radiance by Alyson Noel, which is out in stores now!

Tuesday- I was Stop #9 on the Where She Went teaser tour and I'm giving away a signed paperback of If I Stay by Gayle Forman! Contest is open until 11:59pm on September 7th!

Wednesday- I posted the 10th edition of Ask Book Chic, where I talk about character crushes, teenagers reading and reviewing adult romance, and what authors I'd invite to a dinner!

Thursday- I reviewed Immortal Beloved by Cate Tiernan, which I think may be in stores now? I saw a copy at my B&N, I think.

Friday- I posted my Fragment Friday for The DUFF by Kody Keplinger!

Saturday- I posted my recap of the PAYA Festival from a couple weeks ago. Pics are included!

I did get a few books this week- Love Drugged by James Klise, I'll Get There It Better Be Worth the Trip by John Donovan, and an ARC of Big Nate Strikes Again by Lincoln Pierce.

Saturday, September 4, 2010

PAYA Festival Recap

So I'm the late one when it comes to recaps. There's a ton more and I'll link to them all (well, all the ones I know of) below so you can see many more pics and accounts of the festival.

Anyway, the day started out kinda sucky. Along the way, I realized that toll booths were a part of my route up to West Chester, PA. I hate toll booths with a passion (you really should've seen me in the car; I was literally yelling whenever I saw a toll booth) and usually keep them out of my Mapquest directions but forgot to do so this time. So I tried to stop by a gas station with an ATM and had to go to THREE stations just to find an ATM. Also, they do not do cash back when you buy items. What's up with that?

Finally, I got one and took out a $20, thinking that would be enough for a silly toll and I'd have money left over to buy a meal somewhere and then use the rest for something else. The first toll booth was just $2 and I handed over my money and she gave me my change and all was well in the world. While stuck in traffic, I decided to count out the money I got back because it felt much heftier than $18 should feel. Do you know why that was? It was because I had gotten $23 back. The lady had given me a $10 along with 13 singles instead of a $5. I was so happy- I made a $3 profit at a toll booth! YAY!!

Well, then came the next two tolls, which sucked $9 total out of me. WHY ARE THERE THREE TOLL BOOTHS WITHIN A 40 MILE STRETCH OF 95?!?! WHY?!?!?! That's really what PO'd me. I don't mind paying a couple dollars but 3 booths in one hour, amounting to $11 spent? No, I don't think so. If I were a richer person and could therefore throw money around, I'd just throw a bunch of singles or something at the toll booth employee and be like "HERE! THIS IS WHAT YOU WANT, RIGHT? JUST TAKE IT ALL!!!" I know they're just doing their jobs but it's not as effective when I go to my politician's office and do it.

I don't understand why they can't just tax us a bit more and get rid of toll booths altogether. We already pay taxes, what's a little bit more? I also heard from my mom that VA's governer (or whatever he's called) is looking into making VA a toll booth place. I said to her "If he does, I will go and kill him." I will never want to drive again. OK, that's a lie, I love driving too much to give it up. I will just be utilizing Mapquest's Avoid Tolls checkbox more often then.

I seriously will get to the actual event soon, just one more thing. So while I was dealing with toll booths and traffic, I was texting Skyanne (the founder of PAYA and who put the whole festival together) who informed me that everyone there already was laughing at my texts. I have this image in my head of bloggers and authors alike in a huddle around Skyanne's phone whenever I texted her. I have no idea who she relayed my texts too, but I hope whoever they were that they don't think I'm crazy. Here are two texts I remember sending:

"Toll booths suck! I wish they would all die a slow, painful death."
"Well, I'm glad you are all able to find mirth in my misery."

OK, so the actual event. I got there like right at 1 when the signing started. Do you know when I meant to be there by? 11:30/12. Yes. I was LATE! And also missed lunch. As soon as I got there, I bought my books- Sleepless by Cyn Balog, The Dark Days of Hamburger Halpin by Josh Berk, and Rae by Chelsea Swiggett. After that, I went and found Skyanne, Kristi, and Steph Su. Skyanne ran up and hugged me. Kristi probably hit me in my arm because she likes to abuse me and I'm too scared to stand up for myself. :P

Kristi and I spent the day joined at the hip except for the times when we weren't together which wasn't often. We stalked authors, got our books signed, and drooled over hot authors (Jon Skovron, Andrew Auseon) from afar and then did go say hi and chat with them after we gathered our courage (we are both shy people). It was funny to watch us because we were like "OMG is right down there. Should we go say hi?" We spent several minutes talking about going up to say hi to Josh Berk because Kristi wanted to touch his hair (see her recap for explanation) but didn't want to seem weird, creepy, or stalker-ish while asking. We did eventually chat with him and got some funny pictures. We had a slight problem with mine, but it ended up being very useful because Josh put two photos of me and him together to create a little show.

During the first hour, I got to meet Cyn Balog, who I've been chatting with for so long and we've been wanting to meet up for forever. We didn't get to chat as much as we would have liked but we got to hug and chat for a few while she signed mine and Kristi's books. That was the only author I had a book for, so I mainly followed Kristi around cuz she either brought or bought everyone's books, lol. Once we were done with that, we hung out in the hallway and got to talk to a few authors, like Holly Nicole Hoxter (who recognized me right away and I feel very bad for not having gotten to her book yet) and Josh Berk. We also got to chat with some bloggers and occasionally the mother of those bloggers. Kristi, Steph and I spent some time talking with Veronica, mother of Anne, who runs the blog Potter, Percy and I. It was really fun, though I went mute because I am shy and didn't think I had anything to contribute to the conversation (this happens a lot, lol).

In the second hour, Kristi and I got books signed by Holly Nicole Hoxter, Josh Berk, Chelsea Swiggett, and Andrew Auseon. It was so fun to see Chelsea, who I adore, signing her own book. Go Chelsea!! Kristi got books signed by other people too. Andrew was actually running late and I told Kristi how sad I was that he wasn't there because I'd brought my book of his with me. And OK, maybe someone else heard me too, but anyway, when Andrew finally showed up, and I was in the hallway when this happened, so I saw him pass right by me, I had three people in the span of two minutes tell me he had arrived. I was like "I get it, he's here!" LOL. I then went and grabbed my book for him to sign and went in. We chatted for a few minutes, mainly about how awful traffic was on 95. After I went away and was hanging out with a multitude of bloggers (btw, Steph Su actually came and got Kristi and I and said "I have some bloggers who really want to meet you." Now, even though I'm sure no one knew who I was and they just really wanted Kristi, I still felt famous, lol), Kristi asked if I'd gone to see Andrew yet and I was like "Uh yeah, right after you guys told me he was here." She hit me in the arm because she wanted to go with me since she didn't have a book for him to sign but wasn't sure if he'd even remember her from the blog tour she took part in for his newest book, Freak Magnet. But we got to hang out with him for a few minutes more and he recognized her so that was fun.

Wrapping up the day, there was a group author photo though two or three authors were missing from it. And the raffle was held- Kristi yelled out the winners' names (she was really good at that) and I held a notebook and checked off each prize as it was given away. After most everyone had left, I took part in the Crescendo Cookie Blogger videos for Fallen Archangel because the two lovely ladies who run the site were there. Mine hasn't gone up yet but when it does, I'll link to it. There may even be some bloopers too! Not of me because I'm a professional reader and don't mess things up, but the others had some good bloopers. :P It was a really fun experience and I'm so glad I got to be a part of it! It's really all thanks to hanging around Kristi and Steph Su.

Before I left, I was able to grab some hardcovers from the Library room, which I'll be donating to my library, as well as an ARC or two. I helped package the leftover books up and take them out to the car. I know it may be hard to believe, but I can lift heavy things. BEA and ALA prepared me for that moment, lol. Then I called my parents to get a toll-less route back, though I still got caught in traffic like 40 miles from home. Le sigh. It took me an hour to go like 4 miles; I went through a whole CD (Mizundaztood by Pink), for crying out loud!

Anyway, that was my PAYA experience and I can't wait for next year's! It's gonna be awesome!

1) Cyn Balog and Shelena Shorts signing books
2) Josh Berk taking his hand away from my hair- the animated gif can be found here- http://twitpic.com/2js3bs
3) Skyanne, Kristi, and I
4) Myself, Cyn Balog, Kristi, and Skyanne
5) Skyanne, myself, Jon Skovron, and Kristi. Jon and I are making our "crazy faces" (his idea)
6) Blogger pic! Jamie, Steph, myself, Anne, Jenn, Kristi and Christina
7) The majority of the authors there for PAYA with Skyanne in the middle
8) Another blogger pic- Chelsea, Steph, Kristi, Skyanne and myself (notice I am wearing my big ass boots whereas all of them are wearing flipflops).

More PAYA Recaps-













Most of this list was stolen from Josh Berk's post where he did a roundup too.

Friday, September 3, 2010

Fragment Friday- The DUFF by Kody Keplinger

Fragment Friday is a meme where you record yourself reading a small excerpt from a book you're either currently reading or one of your past favorites. Join in the fun!

Here's my Fragment Friday where I read The DUFF by Kody Keplinger:

Please leave your link in the Mr. Linky!

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Immortal Beloved by Cate Tiernan

Immortal Beloved by Cate Tiernan
"Nastasya has spent the last century living as a spoiled, drugged-out party girl. She feels nothing and cares for no one. But when she witnesses her best friend, a Dark Immortal, torture a human, she realizes something's got to change. She seeks refuge at a rehab for wayward immortals, where she meets the gorgeous, undeniably sexy Reyn, who seems inexplicably linked to her past.

Nastasya finally begins to deal with life, and even feels safe--until the night she learns that someone wants her dead."- summary from Amazon

I really enjoyed this book and flew through it pretty quickly. I was always turning pages, wanting to know what happened next. Right in the beginning, I wasn't sure if I would want to read this book as Nastasya (and her friends) got on my nerves a little bit, but I kept reading and she grew on me. She's a character that's really well-fleshed out and you learn so much about her emotionally and about her past. Tiernan did a great job of weaving in Nastasya's past into the storyline, floating between the present and the past. It was a really clever way of showing off her immortal life so far and how she got to where she was at the beginning of the novel.

One thing that had me intrigued before I started reading was the fact that this was about immortals. We see paranormal creatures all the time, but you hardly ever see just plain old immortals. It was interesting to read about all that Nastasya's been through.

The last 200 pages or so were particularly suspenseful as that was when the whole "someone trying to kill her" thing occured. There were many twists and turns leading to a surprise ending. There were some questions left unanswered (one in particular that wasn't answered completely to my satisfaction) that I'm not sure will be covered in the sequel though I hope they are. If you've read the book, you can email me and we can discuss.

If you're not into romance, this book is for you. The romance is there in the book, but it's not at the forefront and doesn't really come into play until later in the novel. There's also some humor sprinkled throughout that made me laugh; Nastasya has a sarcastic sense of humor and I loved it!

Overall, a good start to what seems like it'll be a great series. I loved the backstories here and how fleshed out all the characters were. Nastasya's time at River's Edge though was probably my favorite part of the novel and that's where most of it takes place. This book's release date is Sept. 7, but I've seen it in stores already so you might be able to go get your copy today!!

FTC: Received ARC at BEA. Link above is an Amazon Associate link; any profit goes toward funding contests.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Ask Book Chic (10)

Kelsey asks "What character, from any book, would you be most willing to date?"

This is a different question, but I touched on this a bit back in this post (the first Ask Book Chic on this site!). My answer still remains Jonathan Parrish from Straight Road to Kylie by Nico Medina. I. LOVE. HIM.

Aside from him, I think I'd also enjoy dating Jamie from the Demon's series by Sarah Rees Brennan. He's so funny and sounds adorable and I don't care if he's gone evil or whatever, I want him! Please be mine, Jamie!

I also mentioned Tiny Cooper in that post above. He was really sweet and seemed like such a great guy. He deserves the best and I hope he found it in the ending, but I'll never know BECAUSE THE BOOK WAS ENDED ABRUPTLY AND WITH NO RESOLUTION TO THAT STORYLINE (AMONG OTHERS)!!

No, I'm not still bitter about the ending. Why do you ask?

I did quite enjoy will grayson (the gay, uncapitalized one) too, but I think he'd be too emo for me. But I think I would like to shower him with cuddles. He needs them.

I also have crushes on straight male characters too, but I figured I'd spotlight the gay ones since I would actually have a shot with them, if they were, you know, real (and also legal- I am still 24).

Bailey asks "My Question: I am new to the blogging world and I am 16. I enjoy reading YA romance and also adult romance. Do you think it's okay for a 16 year old to review adult romance?"

I don't see why not. It's your blog- you can review whatever you like! If your current readers don't like them, they'll skip over them, but there are plenty of people who will pick up the slack and comment on your adult romance reviews. Don't be afraid to switch things up just because of your age or anything else. Also, I know a 15 year old gay boy who reads and reviews adult romance on his blog. If you're mature enough to handle adult romance, I don't see why you shouldn't review it on your blog as well.

Alexa asks "Questions - 1) Why blogger? 2) Do you looks at your stats and, um, how do you do this (I know I'm such a technical genius!) 3) i=If you do check your stats does that influence what you post? 4) If you were having a dinner party which five authors would you invite?"

First off, you ask way too many questions, lol. :P Just kidding. Thanks for all these!

1) Well, I originally started out as Myspace but by the time 2009 rolled around, no one was really paying much attention to it. I already had a livejournal account that was personal and now only use it to read author blogs, but didn't think it was a good fit for a new blog space. I had no idea how to deal with Wordpress. I went with Blogger because everyone else seemed to have one and they all loved it. So I joined the horde. What can I say? I'm a follower with no mind of my own.

2) Believe me, I know nothing too. I'm pretty sure I asked Kristi about how to add it and look at it and all that. I still don't think my Google Analytics works properly but I don't know how to fix it. I do use Sitemeter which is a lot easier because they send me a report every week telling me everything I need to know! That's usually what I use (along with Follower count) when publishers ask for stats, which isn't too often but it has happened.

3) My stats aren't that specific. I know they could be but again, I'm not a technical genius (or even competent) so mine just tells me how many people showed up day-to-day and a final weekly count. So my stats don't influence what I post at all. I continue to blog blissfully unaware of what my readers like and don't like. ;) I should probably do one of those things where I ask people what they like and where I can improve but I am too lazy, lol.

4) Thank you for only asking who'd I'd invite instead of also including what I'd serve and all that. I'm not that creative. Anyway, my 5 authors would be:
1) Meg Cabot (duh!)
2) Michele Jaffe (because her and Meg together are HILARIOUS)
3) Ellen Hopkins (because she keeps getting disinvited to places- what's up with that?! She's AWESOME!)
4) Markus Zusak (because I need my eye candy; close contenders include Jon Skovron, Dan Elconin and John Green), and finally
5) Carol Burnett (because I love her so much. hey, she's written some books; ok, they're autobiographies but STILL BOOKS!)