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

Monday, January 31, 2011

Meandering Monday (8)

On Saturday, I stopped by my local library to drop off some ARCs that I didn't need anymore, either because I knew I would never get to them or because I'd already read them and didn't want to keep them anymore. They'll be going somewhere really good, like to a juvenile detention center or maybe to some lower-income area as part of a program they do.

I met with the head of the Youth Services department, Lorry, and she introduced me to a lady who deals with their acquisitions. We got to chat for a few minutes and they asked about my blog, what got me into YA, and how I started getting review copies. It was really fun; both of them were really nice. They did also ask how their YA section looked to me. It's a pretty good section and I do enjoy browsing- it's fun seeing what books they get, especially since I know the authors and see the books on all the blogs I frequent. It's hard for me to check out books because I already have so many and so I never get to them.

However, that didn't stop me though from checking out two books after chatting with the Youth Services ladies. I picked up The Alpha Bet by Stephanie Hale and 13 Little Blue Envelopes by Maureen Johnson. I gasped when I saw The Alpha Bet because I've been wanting to read it so badly but hadn't seen it anywhere. As for 13, I want to re-read it before The Last Little Blue Envelope comes out in May. I'm really excited for this sequel. I love Maureen Johnson. I also got to read an excerpt from Perfect by Ellen Hopkins in the back of her Identical paperback- looking forward to that as well cuz I love Ellen's books so much.

But anyway, I had a wonderful time chatting with my local librarians and hopefully I'll get to do it again soon. I'm still not done going through all my bookshelves looking for ARCs and final copies of books to donate. I'll need to do a HUGE reorganizing session again sometime soon.

What do you all do with ARCs you don't want or need anymore? I know I'm not the only one with overflowing bookshelves.

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Subject Seven by James A. Moore

Subject Seven by James A. Moore
"Years ago, scientists began developing the ultimate military weapon: deadly sleeper assassins housed within the bodies of teenagers. Now, Subject Seven, the dangerous alter-ego living inside a 16-year-old boy, has escaped the lab and is on a mission. His objective? To seek out others like him and build an army capable of destroying their creators.

Hunter, Cody, Gene, Tina, and Kylie: five teenagers leading typical lives, until the day they each receive a call from a mysterious stranger and learn that their destinies are intertwined. Subject Seven holds the key that connects them all. And a vicious, bloody battle for their lives is just beginning."- summary from Amazon

Wow, this was a rollercoaster ride of a book, full of suspense, mystery and action with a bit of sci-fi/futuristic thrown in. Moore's YA debut is pretty original and he handles the multiple perspectives well, though in the beginning, it can be a bit confusing (which may be the point). The characterization is okay, as it tends to be with multiple narration, and a lot of it is more telling than showing.

The first half of the book is a bit slow because everything's being set up, but once the second half starts and the characters all meet up, things really heat up and the pages fly by. I do also think that even though there are several girl narration parts throughout the book, teen boys will enjoy this book. It just fits right up their alley- there are huge action scenes here that go on for pages and it's pretty awesome.

Overall, I really enjoyed this first book of a planned series and can't wait to read more. Also, it's a paperback original, so it's cheap!

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

Friday, January 28, 2011

Cat Friday (3)

I hope you guys have been enjoying the cat pictures. Today, I've got yet another new cat to introduce to you (yes, we have a few).

That's our cat Samson. Long-time readers have seen him before when I've shown cat photos. He was a stray that we took in way back in Fall 2008 and he's father to 5 adorable kittens (who are now officially adults but I still think of them as kittens). Anyway, in the above photo, he's doing something that he does a lot- and no, it's not being cute, but he does that a lot too- which is laying on his back with his paws like that. Usually, he's rolling around on the floor back and forth like there's catnip but there's none around.

Next Friday, I'll be introducing another cat or two. I actually came across some adorable pictures of the kittens as babies and I'll be showing those in a couple weeks. They are SERIOUSLY adorable.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Blessed by Cynthia Leitich Smith

Blessed by Cynthia Leitich Smith
"Quincie P. Morris, teen restaurateuse and neophyte vampire, is in the fight of her life -- or undeath. Even as she adjusts to her new appetites, she must clear her best friend and true love, the hybrid werewolf Kieren, of murder charges; thwart the apocalyptic ambitions of Bradley Sanguini, the seductive vampire-chef who "blessed" her; and keep her dead parents’ restaurant up and running. She hires a more homespun chef and adds the preternaturally beautiful Zachary to her wait staff. But with hundreds of new vampires on the rise and Bradley off assuming the powers of Dracula Prime, Zachary soon reveals his true nature -- and a flaming sword -- and they hit the road to staunch the bloodshed before it’s too late. Even if they save the world, will there be time left to salvage Quincie’s soul?"- summary from Amazon

I love this trilogy of books and how, in this one, Smith merged the casts from the previous two books, Tantalize and Eternal. She did a wonderful job doing it and it felt right. I really enjoyed revisiting these characters and I fell into a rhythm even though it's been a long time since reading both (though less time from Eternal but Blessed is mostly from Quincie's perspective from Tantalize). The book picks up where Tantalize left off and catches the reader up to speed easily.

I couldn't put this book down and I was surprised at how quickly I went through it as it's not a small book by any means (455 pages). The plot moves at a decent pace though there's some lagging bits here and there. One of the things I loved about Tantalize were the menus for Sanguini's that were included; a different set of menus is included here too and while I would never eat anything on either menu (I'm not an adventurous eater by any means, and this takes it to the stratosphere), I love the thought put into it. It's a nice touch.

I mean, I really can't say enough good things about this book and the overall trilogy. It's just so good and it ended really well. It's a wonderful series that blends vampires, were-people, and angels all together, which makes it really fun. Smith has a good time putting together the vampire lore, especially in this book.

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

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Author Interview- Elizabeth Eulberg

I'm still running a contest (US only!) until midnight on Jan. 29 for two hardcover copies of Prom and Prejudice by Elizabeth Eulberg! Comment there to get entered and then comment here (with a substantial comment please, not just "Extra entry!" or whatever) to gain an extra entry! Now, enjoy this interview with the wonderful Elizabeth Eulberg:

1) How did you get the idea for Prom and Prejudice?

I was talking to a friend about Pride and Prejudice and its influence over pop culture today (Bridget Jones's Diary and the Bollywood movie Bride and Prejudice). I started to think if the story could be retold for teens, but teens aren't really "in want" of husbands (or at least shouldn't be!!). I was in the middle of writing The Lonely Hearts Club, which is about not putting a guy before your girlfriends, so I thought it would be a bad message to have them "in want" of boyfriends. So what else do girls needs guys for in high school? Prom! And the title Prom and Prejudice came to me and I knew that would be my next book!

2) What are you working on now? Can you tell us anything about it?

I'm working hard on my third novel (still untitled). I'm really excited about it. It takes place in a very competitive performing arts high school in New York City. I've always been fascinated with performing arts schools because of my love of music. In doing research on them, I realized how much extra pressure the students have - on top of "normal" homework, they have practice pieces, auditions, rehearsals, performances, etc. So my novel examines how that atmosphere affects four different students' relationships.

3) Your bio talks about your love of travel- how you did it a lot as a kid with your family and continue to do some today. What were your favorite and least favorite places to visit? Where would you like to visit next and why?

I think Australia is my favorite place, I love it there - the Great Barrier Reef, Whitsunday islands, Sydney... But I also love Argentina, Greek islands, Italy... I have too many favorites!! It's hard to say what my least favorite place to visit is, I usually end up finding something to enjoy in each city! I really want to travel to Chile and explore Ireland more, I've been to Dublin twice, but want to explore the Irish countryside. Plus, I just can't resist that Irish accent...

4) What is your favorite Jelly Belly jelly bean flavor (or flavors, if you're so inclined)?

Hands down cherry! Great, now I've got a craving... :)

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

My to-read pile is pretty embarrassing. I can't read when I'm writing (since I should be spending that precious free time writing!). But the book on the top of my to-read pile which I'll be taking with me on the road for some Prom and Prejudice events is Mini-Shopaholic by Sophie Kinsella. I love those books and went to her signing to get the book...three months ago!

6) Having worked in the publishing industry and as a published author yourself, what advice do you have for aspiring authors?

Definitely to write for yourself. I'm always asked, "I have an idea for a book, how do I get it published?" Some people have a tendency to focus on the publishing part and get overwhelmed before they even write. So just write! Don't write what you think will sell. Write what interests you. You are going to have to write and rewrite, read and reread your novel at least dozens of times. So focus on writing the best draft you can, then look into getting an agent. It can be an overwhelming process, but like with anything challenging, taking it one step at a time will help a lot. (I have a series of blogs on my website called "Behind the Book" where I talk about each step of the publishing process, which aspiring authors might find helpful: http://www.elizabetheulberg.com/blog/?p=4).

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

The Latte Rebellion by Sarah Jamila Stevenson

The Latte Rebellion by Sarah Jamila Stevenson
"Hoping to raise money for a post-graduation trip to London, Asha Jamison and her best friend Carey decide to sell T-shirts promoting the Latte Rebellion, a club that raises awareness of mixed-race students.

But seemingly overnight, their "cause" goes viral and the T-shirts become a nationwide social movement. As new chapters spring up from coast to coast, Asha realizes that her simple marketing plan has taken on a life of its own—and it's starting to ruin hers. Asha's once-stellar grades begin to slip, threatening her Ivy League dreams, while her friendship with Carey hangs by a thread. And when the peaceful underground movement spins out of control, Asha's school launches a disciplinary hearing. Facing expulsion, Asha must decide how much she's willing to risk for something she truly believes in."- summary from Amazon

This is one hell of a debut- it's smart, well-written at a good pace, and also fun. The story starts with the incident that starts the Latte Rebellion and then shifts to the following year after things get out of hand and Asha is at the disciplinary hearing. Each chapter is like this- the majority of it starting in the summer and going chronologically with a few pages at the end taking place at the disciplinary hearing the following April. In the last 60 pages or so, the story catches up and we see what happened to bring about the hearing as well as how the hearing ends, and Asha's life in the following months. It was a wonderful, compelling way to tell the story.

The pages flew by for me and I was surprised at how many pages I'd read after just a half-hour or so. I loved this story and it was a lot of fun to read, but it also raised some interesting questions and revealed prejudices against mixed-race people. I'm not a mixed race person, but the attitudes some people have in this book had me wanting to punch them. It bugs me that people in the real world have this attitude too; I mean, we're in the 21st century- can't we just get over petty things like that? This book is for anyone who's been treated poorly because of who they are, because of something they can't help- gender, race, sexual orientation. It's heartening to read a book like this that gives a voice to the unheard. I was proud of everything Asha and her friends did, as well as everyone who supported the Latte Rebellion, though it may seem weird to be proud of fictional characters, lol.

Speaking of the characters, they were all wonderful (well, you know, except for the ones I wanted to punch) and I loved how multi-layered everyone was. Stevenson did a fantastic job writing her characters and I really enjoyed spending time with them. I liked the extra touch of including the evidence for the hearing at the beginning of each chapter, some of which included drawings. It made the whole Latte Rebellion thing come together for me, being able to see the things they made to promote the cause.

Overall, an amazing debut and one I think everyone should check out. I cannot wait to read more from Stevenson.

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

Monday, January 24, 2011

Meandering Monday (7)

Over the weekend, I finished up Tweet Heart by Elizabeth Rudnick. I didn't have enough thoughts about it to do a full review, so I thought I'd just talk a bit about it here. :) I love the idea of books being done in new and inventive ways, like emails, tweets, blogs, etc. (LOVE the idea of The Lover's Dictionary by David Levithan, which I can't wait to read), hence why I enjoyed the Boy series by Meg Cabot and the Top 8 series by Katie Finn. Tweet Heart's been on my radar for a while, so I was so happy to see it at the library last week. I devoured the book in like three gulps- two small ones and one big one. It was just so addicting and fun! The storyline was really cute, and I loved the characters. It's a perfect book to read for Valentine's Day next month, or even now- just curl up on the couch with some hot cocoa and read.

In other news, I was going to be going to A.S. King's signing of Please Ignore Vera Dietz in Alexandria, but it was postponed due to snow in her area, which was sad. But hopefully she and I will get to meet whenever the event is rescheduled. I also found out that next month on Feb. 25, what I thought was just Beth Revis signing in Raleigh, NC turned out to be FIVE authors signing! Yes! A whole bunch of Penguin authors- Beth, Brenna Yovanoff, Kirsten Miller, Ally Condie, and Andrea Cremer- are going to be in Raleigh next month. I've only met Ally so far and she's a sweetie, so I'm really excited to meet all these other awesome authors (and of course, see Ally again)! I will make sure I am there next month; wild horses can't keep me away.

Finally, some potentially exciting job news- I have a phone interview for a position Tuesday afternoon, so we'll see how that goes. Wish me luck!

Sunday, January 23, 2011

In My Mailbox- January edition + Retrospective

Here's a vlog, yay!! Enjoy!

Books Shown:

Wishful Thinking by Alexandra Bullen (ARC + hardcover; Jan 2011)
Timeless by Alexandra Monir (Jan 2011)
All You Get Is Me by Yvonne Prinz (Dec 2010)
Shine by Lauren Myracle (April 2011)
Enclave by Ann Aguirre (Jan 2011)
Shadow Walkers by Brent Hartinger (Feb 2011)
I Am J by Cris Beam (March 2011)
Tweet Heart by Elizabeth Rudnick (from library; already released)

And here's my weekly respective:

Monday- I interviewed Julia Karr, author of XVI, which is out in stores now.

Tuesday- I read an excerpt from Across the Universe by Beth Revis.

Wednesday- I reviewed Across the Universe by Beth Revis.

Thursday- I interviewed Beth Revis, author of Across the Universe, which is in stores now.

Friday- I read an excerpt from XVI by Julia Karr, and this was also Fragment Friday. Put your links in from this month so we can see what you've been reading.

Saturday- I reviewed XVI by Julia Karr.

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Fresh New Voice of YA- XVI by Julia Karr

XVI by Julia Karr
"Nina Oberon's life is pretty normal: she hangs out with her best friend, Sandy, and their crew, goes to school, plays with her little sister, Dee. But Nina is 15. And like all girls she'll receive a Governing Council-ordered tattoo on her 16th birthday. XVI. Those three letters will be branded on her wrist, announcing to all the world - even the most predatory of men - that she is ready for sex. Considered easy prey by some, portrayed by the Media as sluts who ask for attacks, becoming a "sex-teen" is Nina's worst fear. That is, until right before her birthday, when Nina's mom is brutally attacked. With her dying breaths, she reveals to Nina a shocking truth about her past - one that destroys everything Nina thought she knew. Now, alone but for her sister, Nina must try to discover who she really is, all the while staying one step ahead of her mother's killer."- summary from Amazon

Wow. This is a well-defined dystopian and it's creepy how omnipresent the government is. Karr really did some wonderful world-building here and the danger of being overheard is present throughout the novel, so there's this sense of suspense and wariness that I got as I read. It's like I was in the novel with the characters and was facing the same dangers and punishments they do.

The ending is a bit open-ended, which I wasn't a huge fan of even though I know a sequel is coming. There's also a little romance, which is cute, but it's mainly in the background with all the action up front. It's a nice change of pace.

Overall, this was just a really good book that I couldn't put down. I don't really know what else to say; it's just too good for words!

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

Friday, January 21, 2011

Fresh New Voice of YA + Fragment Friday- XVI Excerpt Vlog

Hey all! Welcome to 2011's first Fragment Friday- you can put all your links in for this month in the Mr. Linky below! But first, here's my fragment from XVI by Julia Karr! Read Chapter 1 here, then watch the vlog for Chapter 2.

XVI is out in stores now, so go grab a copy!

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Fresh New Voice of YA- Interview with Beth Revis

1) How did you get the idea for Across the Universe?

It all revolved around the last scene--so I can't be too specific without giving away the ending of the book. Bot the entire story--the characters, the plot, the setting--all of it was done in order to write the end.

2) Tell us about The Call/The Email for publication! Where did it happen? Did you do anything to celebrate the sale?

The negotiations started while I was teaching in class--I actually had to leave one of my classes for a bit in order to take a call from my agent! It was amazing--so mind-numbingly shocking--and then, of course, I had to turn right back around and start teaching a gaggle of teens about comma splices and semi-colons!

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

I'm working on the sequel to ACROSS THE UNIVERSE right now--it's a trilogy--and the only thing I can say is that at least two things you think are true from the first book are actually lies...

4) What is your favorite Jelly Belly jelly bean flavor (or flavors, if you're so inclined)?

Purple, with red as a close second!

5) You founded a blog called The League of Extraordinary Writers, all about dystopian fiction (and Julia Karr, the other Fresh New Voice this month, is a contributer!). What spurred this idea, and how has it been running it so far?

I came up with the idea for the League after seeing sites like the Elevensies (which I'm also a member of) and Class of 2k11 (which I'm not a member of, though everyone there is lovely). I loved the idea of working with fellow debuts, but I wanted to narrow it down to one specific genre. A big influence was when I went to the book launch for Carrie Ryan's THE FOREST OF HANDS AND TEETH. I remembered that Carrie had bookmarks out with covers from other similar debuts, and I found several new reads from that. I wanted the League to be a place where people who liked YA dystopian could dish about the genre and also hopefully find new books and authors to read.

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

I'm reading SISTERS RED by Jackson Pearce, BLACK HOLE SUN by David McInnis Gill, and I just ordered MAGIC UNDER GLASS by Jaclyn Dolamore.

7) Before leaving the profession to focus on writing, you were a teacher. What did you teach? Is there any particular moment or anecdote from your time teaching that sticks out to you as the most memorable or reminded you why you loved teaching?

I taught English--mostly tenth grade, although I also taught yearbook and did a section of 11th grade once. I loved every minute of it--except the grading and the way it sucked up every minute of my life. I really and truly loved the profession--there are so many moments that I treasure and keep close to my heart--the kid who told me I changed her life; the ones who still keep in touch with me today; the boy who decided not to drop out...they're all precious.

8) How was the decision for a reversible cover made? Had you drawn out the Godspeed ship blueprints while writing the book and that's what's included, or was it done without input from you? I want to hear the cover story!

Razorbill made the final decision on the reversible cover--it was actually all their idea, and I totally love it. As for the development of the blue prints, I had really REALLY rough sketches I'd used while writing the book--they turned them into the cool, futuristic design that the cover has.

I have a lame cover story! Razorbill did it all!

(I actually had some samples of my sketches up here: http://leaguewriters.blogspot.com/2011/01/interviewing-beth-revis-is-out-of-this.html)

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Fresh New Voice of YA- Across the Universe by Beth Revis

Across the Universe by Beth Revis
"Amy is a cryogenically frozen passenger aboard the vast spaceship Godspeed. She expects to wake up on a new planet, 300 years in the future. But fifty years before Godspeed's scheduled landing, Amy's cryo chamber is unplugged, and she is nearly killed.

Now, Amy is caught inside an enclosed world where nothing makes sense. Godspeed's passengers have forfeited all control to Eldest, a tyrannical and frightening leader, and Elder, his rebellious and brilliant teenage heir.

Amy desperately wants to trust Elder. But should she? All she knows is that she must race to unlock Godspeed's hidden secrets before whoever woke her tries to kill again."- summary from Amazon

OMG this book was amazing. I mean, really. It's such a wonderful debut with fascinating characters and an interesting look at supposed perfect societies. Revis does a great job weaving romance, sci-fi, dystopia, suspense, and mystery all into one novel.

I almost want to call this commercial literary fiction- Revis explores emotions, how we run (or could run) our societies, and there's such depth to the novel, but it doesn't get dense. In fact, I think it makes all the more compelling. The romance and murder mystery balance it out, but also helps to bring up the questions Revis wants to spend time on.

I really enjoyed the dual narrative. Both characters are well fleshed out and have flaws, as do the secondary characters. Revis does a very good job with characterization and each one is unique. Also, I wanted to say how much I HATED Eldest, though I can see why he did what he did. But I still wanted to punch him and kill him most of the time.

Overall, I absolutely loved this book and I can't wait to see where the sequels take us. Be prepared to gasp a lot in the last 100 pages- tons of lies are revealed and it's all OMGWTF. Definitely a book to pick up.

The cover is reversible (with a more manly cover) and shows a diagram of the spaceship Godspeed- watch my vlog from yesterday where I show it off on my ARC version.

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

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Fresh New Voice of YA- Across the Universe Excerpt Vlog

Today, I'm reading from Chapter 2 of Across the Universe by Beth Revis. You can read Chapter 1: Amy here on the book's official website.

Hope you guys enjoyed it! Across the Universe is in stores now!

Also, don't forget that the Mr. Linky for Fragment Friday will be up this Friday, so gather together your Fragment links to put them in and everyone can see what books you've been enjoying!

Monday, January 17, 2011

Fresh New Voice of YA- Interview with Julia Karr

1) How did you get the idea for XVI?

The idea for XVI came from an image that flashed through my head one day of a punk rock type girl walking down the street of a city. Ear buds in, listening to music, blocking out the cacophony of blaring advertisements, she stepped over a homeless man lying on the sidewalk. She stopped, turned around, and went to see if she could help. That was the start.

2) Tell us all about The Call/The Email for publication. What were you doing when it happened? Did you do anything to celebrate the sale?

I was a work. I squee’d – very loudly! Ran into my co-worker’s office, jumping up and down like a Mexican jumping bean and yelling. Other than that, I was perfectly calm – took it in stride, you know, like any other dream-come-true moment. :) I believe I had several celebrations, over the course of several days. Yeah!

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

Currently I’m working on the sequel to XVI, tentatively titled “The Sisterhood.” It’s a continuation of Nina’s life and world.

4) What is your favorite Jelly Belly jelly bean flavor (or flavors, if you're so inclined)?

Licorice. I am not much of a candy person (no, dark chocolate is not candy, it is one of the major food groups), but I have always loved licorice.

5) You participate in the group blog The League of Extraordinary Writers which was founded by Beth Revis, the other Fresh New Voice this week! How did you get involved with the blog, and what do you love most about it?

Beth and I are both in The Elevensies – a group of 2011 debut authors on LiveJournal (http://community.livejournal.com/2011debuts ) - and I believe that’s how she found me. I love being part of a group of debut writers who are all writing dystopia. Not everyone gets dystopia – and it’s good to know that we are there for each other. PLUS – it’s awesome to be in with such fabulous writers!

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

I’m about to start reading ILLEGAL by Bettina Restrepo – another 2011 Debut Author!

7) You've lived in several places over the course of your life. What was your favorite place to live in, and why?

So far, I’ve found wonderful things about everywhere I’ve lived. If I could take the excitement of Chicago, mix in the beauty of the mountains in Colorado (& the fact that the sun shines there almost every single day!), the hospitality of the Midwest, and the warmth of Florida… well, yeah – that’s my favorite place!

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Prom and Prejudice by Elizabeth Eulberg Review + Contest

Prom and Prejudice by Elizabeth Eulberg
"Lizzie Bennet, who attends Longbourn Academy on scholarship, isn't exactly interested in designer dresses and expensive shoes, but her best friend, Jane, might be—especially now that Charles Bingley is back from a semester in London. Lizzie is happy about her friend's burgeoning romance, but less than impressed by Will Darcy, a pompous jerk who looks down on the middle class. So imagine Lizzie's surprise when Will asks her to the prom! Will Lizzie's pride and Will's prejudice keep them apart? Or are they a prom couple in the making?"- summary from Big Honcho Media

I really enjoyed this book. It was a nice, fun read and a good update on Pride and Prejudice. I liked seeing the connections between the two and the characters in this new setting.

I couldn't put this book down. I literally curled up on my couch and read the book in several hours. It was a nice way to spend an afternoon. I liked Lizzie's voice and the situations she's put in. I enjoyed seeing the romance between her and Darcy, of course; I do like seeing two characters who originally hate each other learn to love each other.

Overall, this is a fun, sweet book. I'm not sure if it's worth the hardcover price (maybe at a discount), but it is a book to check out, however you get to it (except illegally downloading it- don't do that). Get to it via a paying method, or through the library.

Two readers are going to get lucky with their own copy of Prom and Prejudice! All you have to do is leave a comment by midnight on Jan. 29. This contest is for U.S. readers only! For extra stuff, check out Elizabeth's Facebook page and the trailer below:

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

Friday, January 14, 2011

Cat Friday (2)

Here's the second edition of Cat Friday with two new cats!

The one on the left is Khali and the one on the right is Farley. Both are girls (Btw, Pearl from last week is a boy). They're so cute together!

Next week, Cat Friday is taking the day off for Fresh New Voice of YA, but it'll be back the week after.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Real Live Boyfriends by E. Lockhart

Real Live Boyfriends by E. Lockhart
"Ruby Oliver is in love. Or it would be love, if Noel, her real live boyfriend, would call her back. But Noel seems to have turned into a pod-robot lobotomy patient, and Ruby can’t figure out why.

Not only is her romantic life a shambles:
Her dad is eating nothing but Cheetos,
Her mother’s got a piglet head in the refrigerator,
Hutch has gone to Paris to play baguette air guitar,
Gideon shows up shirtless,
And the pygmy goat Robespierre is no help whatsoever.

Will Ruby ever control her panic attacks?
Will she ever understand boys?
Will she ever stop making lists?
(No to that last one.)"- summary from Amazon

First off, I absolutely love this series and am very sad it's come to an end. I've read this book twice now- once way back in August or something before sending it out on a tour and then again just now after having re-read the previous three. I thought it would be nice to read all about Roo's adventures from beginning to end. It was totally awesome.

These books are some of the best out there, and I never get tired of re-reading them. I always forget to include them on my re-readable list but I've read these books twice (Books 3 and 4) or thrice (Books 1 and 2) and could easily re-read them again. Roo's voice just pulls you in and the pages just keep turning. The stuff she goes through is just heartbreaking to read, but what I love is that she always has a sense of humor about it all. The books don't get melodramatic and even when she's sulking, it's still a bit funny.

This final book just ended really well and Lockhart has a complete fan for life in me (ok, she already did have one in me before this book, but each new book she has just keeps confirming it). Having read the four books so close together, you really see Ruby growing emotionally throughout the books and the books are so realistic and don't pull any punches. They're a bit stream-of-consciousness which I love because I can be a bit like that too at times.

Overall, I just can't recommend this book or series enough. They've just been re-released with all new covers (though I do enjoy the old ones more) so now's the time to dive in to this wonderful series!

FTC: ARC received at June 2010 ALA (last copy!). Link above is an Amazon Associate link; any profit goes toward funding contests.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Waiting on Wednesday- The Near Witch by Victoria Schwab

"Waiting on" Wednesday is a bookish meme hosted by Breaking the Spine, where we share the upcoming releases we can't wait to get our hands on.

The Near Witch is only an old story told to frighten children.

If the wind calls at night, you must not listen. The wind is lonely, and always looking for company.

There are no strangers in the town of Near.

These are the truths that Lexi has heard all her life. But when an actual stranger—a boy who seems to fade like smoke—appears outside her home on the moor at night, she knows that at least one of these sayings is no longer true.

The next night, the children of Near start disappearing from their beds, and the mysterious boy falls under suspicion. Still, he insists on helping Lexi search for them. Something tells her she can trust him.

As the hunt for the children intensifies, so does Lexi’s need to know—about the witch that just might be more than a bedtime story, about the wind that seems to speak through the walls at night, and about the history of this nameless boy.

Part fairy tale, part love story, Victoria Schwab’s debut novel is entirely original yet achingly familiar: a song you heard long ago, a whisper carried by the wind, and a dream you won’t soon forget.

My Thoughts: This book sounds absolutely amazing. Who wouldn't want this book?! I hate that I have to wait several months before getting a copy. Plus, Victoria is an awesome lady who I've chatted with a bit on Twitter and she's giving me road trip snacks to eat on the way to her launch party since it's quite a long trip. And the cover is gorgeous even with the "Cover Not Final" thing over it. I'm just really excited.

THE NEAR WITCH comes out August 2, 2011 from Disney/Hyperion.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

So Shelly by Ty Roth

So Shelly by Ty Roth
"Until now, high school junior, John Keats, has only tiptoed near the edges of the vortex that is schoolmate and literary prodigy, Gordon Byron. That is, until their mutual friend, Shelly, drowns in a sailing accident.

After stealing Shelly's ashes from her wake at Trinity Catholic High School, the boys set a course for the small Lake Erie island where Shelly's body had washed ashore and to where she wished to be returned. It would be one last "so Shelly" romantic quest. At least that's what they think. As they navigate around the obstacles and resist temptations during their odyssey, Keats and Gordon glue together the shattered pieces of Shelly's and their own pasts while attempting to make sense of her tragic and premature end."- summary from Amazon

I'm not sure what to say about this book. The concept as well as the narrative itself is interesting, but at the same time, I feel like it just didn't work for me. The narrator doesn't do much of anything and is mainly just relaying stories about the past featuring the other characters Shelly and Gordon. Even in the scenes set in the now with Gordon and Keats fulfilling Shelly's final wish, Keats takes a backseat to whatever Gordon does and goes along for the ride, so it can be a bit boring for the reader.

Taking three historical figures and transplanting them and their real stories (with some liberties taken, of course) in our society was a wonderful idea. It's very fun, but educational in a way at the same time. So the concept was very cool, but I'm not sure the execution worked for me. I did like the atmosphere that was set up- it felt very Romantic (period-wise, not love-wise) so that was nice to see. The afterward that Roth wrote is very informative and it was cool to see how he wrote the book as well as what stuff actually happened because there are tons of scandalous things in this book, which I of course love. :) But this is definitely a dark, deep book, and that could be why I wasn't as into it since I may not have been in the mood for that kind of read.

Overall, while I liked the idea, the execution fell flat for me and I almost put the book down several times because I just didn't really feel anything for the characters, but at the same time, I wanted to see how it would all end and why Shelly died. That's why I kept going. This is a confusing book for me to review because I'm not sure about my recommendation; I guess it just falls in the middle- it's not horrible, but it's not amazing.

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

Monday, January 10, 2011

Meandering Monday (6)

Last week, if you were on Twitter, you may have seen my tweet about how apparently "damn" (also, "damnable" since it includes the word "damn") is a curse word and people are appalled at its use, particularly in YA Literature. This was because a blogger friend directed me to a blog centered on screening books for pre-teens and teens from a Christian perspective and issuing a rating of the book based on just the appearance of swearing, sexual content, violence, etc. rather than HOW those things were utilized in the book. That's the part that is really important- HOW those things are used to tell the story. Is it there for the right reasons, or the wrong ones?

Yes, swearing can get a bit much in YA books, as I said two weeks ago, and can be lazy, but if a writer is really good, they can include swearing effectively without it seeming like it's there for shock value. Teenagers swear, parents- get over it. Just because you never hear it happen around you doesn't mean that they never do it. High schools are a COMPLETELY different world. YA books reflect that reality and can do it very well.

One of the books reviewed on this site (I skimmed through all their posts and found books that I had read or had heard good things about) is This Lullaby by Sarah Dessen. I have yet to read this book but I know that TONS of people name it as their favorite Dessen novel. In the review, this was said: "I was glad that Remy was changing her life, I only wish that instead of that meaning saving sex till she is “in love” it was saving it until she is married." This book was not recommended because of the casual take on swearing, sex, smoking and alcohol. Casual in the sense that it happens and is not stopped or used as a heavy-handed moral lessen. As all YA authors know, teens do not take kindly to didactic stories. I can't even imagine what these people would think of Ellen Hopkins' books.

I was amazed at how many AWESOME books were given a 1 rating, like Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banks by E. Lockhart ("The casual attitude towards drugs, alcohol and sex is not a good example for teens of any ages. The snarky, quirky, manipulative manner of Frankie is not something any teen should aspire to be."), kira-kira by Cynthia Kadohata (too bleak), Mockingjay by Suzanne Collins (too violent, though the prequels were given good ratings), and Jellicoe Road by Melina Marchetta (swearing, negative attitude, drugs, sex; not recommended at all- very vehement rejection of book).

In regards to Mockingjay, the "too violent" remark was funny to me because while I haven't yet read them (I know, bad blogger!), I know what kind of books they are. Even if the war and violence weren't shown in the first two books, stakes have to be amped up and the situation the characters are in already is extremely horrible. This was never going to be a walk in the park. The Harry Potter books get darker as they go on too- these characters are growing up because of what they're going through (though with Harry, he was growing up age-wise too; Katniss, I believe, didn't age much, if at all through the trilogy though I could be very wrong). Their world is not pretty and those authors pulled no punches.

Other books like Paper Towns and Jellicoe Road are given extremely vehement rejections. The reviewers find little, if any, positives in these books and wonder why they were given awards. Perhaps their realism is too much for these reviewers? None of them seem to live in the real world, but instead in some Christian-centric orb that surrounds their neighborhood or whatever.

What makes the site even weirder is when the reviews say good things about the writing and the characterization and the sort of technical aspects of the novel, but can't recommend the book because of the horrible, sinful, scandalous things happening inside. City of Bones by Cassandra Clare was one such book- characters saying "Sex before marriage is A-OK!", the two gay characters, swearing (Lord's name in vain a lot), drinking, and drugs are mentioned as being in the book. The reviewer found the book appealing, but couldn't recommend it due to all those negative things I mentioned above.

It's the same sort of thing, but reversed, for the book My Brother Sam is Dead by James Collier, which is a fictional book about the American Revolution. Obviously, many bad things happen here- it is after all taking place in a war. It's a gritty book and was given a 1 rating by this book, yet the book was recommended for its accurate portrayal of the Revolution and that time period. The same, for some reason, cannot be said for today's contemporary YA literature, unless it's God-oriented. Realism is used against these novels, but applauded in historical fiction. How does either of these scenarios make sense?

I hate that these kind of people have this kind of pull over not only their own children's' lives but also the lives of other people's children. Luckily, this particular blog only has 45 followers, and commenting seems to be rare nowdays. But there are probably plenty of other blogs out there doing the exact same thing but more popular at it, like Common Sense Media, which has no common sense whatsoever. It's just so stupid. I mean, after having seen that the word "damn" is still a swear word, I had this image of a 25 year old with a sheltered childhood at work with a colleague who just said the word "damn" and Sheltered Childhood Guy goes "Ooooh! You said a bad word!" with their hand covering their mouth LIKE A CHILD. That guy? He's gonna get his ass kicked, or at least will be ridiculed at work forever.

What do parents think this does to their children? It doesn't save them from it because they'll see it eventually at college or when they're out on their own after college, if they don't see it before then. It harms them. Keeping them protected is one thing, but I think it makes more sense to talk about ALL these issues with your kid or teen in a rational, thoughtful manner instead of pretending it doesn't exist. YA books can help spark the discussion for a multitude of issues; this is why we need realistic, well-written YA books because those are the best ways to learn about an issue, I think.

OK, this is HUGELY long and I didn't mean for it to get this way, but there's still a few things that didn't really fit in the overall essay of sorts, so here they are:

There was a review of Marked by P.C. and Kristin Cast, where this question was asked: "How could a mother and daughter write a book with such bad language and sexual content?" Um, because both are adults who live in the real world? They have a good, healthy relationship where they talk about hard topics? Because bad language and sexual content happen in regular teens' lives these days? Go ahead, pick one- they all work.

This was said of the first Georgia Nicolson book- "Not only can I not recommend this book, but I would like to go so far as to encourage parents to keep this and all Georgia Nicolson books out of the reach of children!" HAHAHAHAHA! Isn't that funny? Anyway, they also didn't like it because Georgia is disrespectful of her parents and authority figures and that's a big no-no. Even when the authority figures are EXTREMELY STUPID AND DESERVE TO BE DISRESPECTED.

Hush Hush was given a 1 rating because "this book might have the capacity to draw in young teen readers to the world of the occult, and using elements of scripture makes it even more offensive." Apparently, these Christian parents think teens are stupid. Maybe theirs are, because of being sheltered, but actual teen readers in the real world are not going to be drawn into the world of the occult because of a book about a fallen angel. Also, your scripture isn't as perfect as you're making it; obviously, this fallen angel research and stuff is coming from somewhere and that would be from the Bible. They aren't making up stuff, just extrapolating from what's already there.

11 Birthdays by Wendy Mass was given this funny little note under sexual content- "None – It was nice to read a book where a boy and a girl could be just friends with no romantic involvement." Um, maybe it's because they JUST TURNED 11?! Why would they be interested in each other in that way at that age?

Finally, a book I absolutely adore, North of Beautiful by Justina Chen Headley, which was given a 1 rating due to Lord's name in vain, some cussing, and sexual innuendos as well as attitudes to premarital sex. "God reverences his name above all names, and I cringe when I hear or read it used in a profane manner." The reviewer found the objectionable stuff unnecessary to the story even though it is REALISTIC. People take God's name in vain- get over it.

OK, this is probably not the best way to end this post with a "get over it!" but ah well. Put your thoughts in the comments- they are screened but only so spam doesn't get through. Every legitimate comment will be put through.

Friday, January 7, 2011

Cat Friday (1)

This is the first edition of Cat Friday! The idea came from Presenting Lenore's Cat Tuesday, which everyone loves because of how cute it is. So I've decided to do the same thing since I know my readers do seem to enjoy my cats. Here we go:

This is a picture of our cat Pearl who seems to be enjoying his nap on top of the couch. Isn't he adorable?

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Tempestuous by Lesley Livingston

Tempestuous by Lesley Livingston
"'I don't love Sonny Flannery.'

That's the lie Kelley Winslow told to protect the boy she loves from a power he doesn't know he possesses. Devastated, Sonny retreats—to a haven for Lost Fae that's hidden deep underneath New York City.

But Kelley's not about to let things end in heartbreak. To get Sonny back, she's got to find out who's after his magick—and how to use her own. She's got to uncover who's recruiting Janus Guards to murderously hunt innocent Faerie. She's got to help rebuild the shattered theater company she called family. And she's got to do it all without getting dangerously distracted by the Fennrys Wolf, whose legendary heart of stone seems to melt whenever he's around Kelley."- summary from Amazon

I really enjoyed this conclusion to Livingston's Faerie trilogy; she does a great job and the final book does not disappoint. I really can't say too much since it is of course the end, but Livingston pulled me right back in to the story. She does a great job of catching the reader up to date while continuing the storyline.

I did miss all the Sonny/Kelley love and hated to see them apart and in pain, but there's still some lovin' happening between these pages, so that was nice. I also love the emphasis on the theatre cuz I love theatre and all that; it's a fun addition to an already great storyline.

I don't really know what else to say about this book or series, other than that it's absolutely amazing and everyone should read it. Go get this book as soon as possible!

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

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Ask Book Chic (19)

Here's the 19th edition of Ask Book Chic! Hope you all enjoy!

sablelexi asks "If you could only read 5 books for the rest of your life, what books would you choose and why?"

My re-readable list would go here and those are (list is shortened by a couple books to fit it in 5):

Good Omens by Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman
Boy Meets Girl by Meg Cabot
Burned by Ellen Hopkins
In Your Room by Jordanna Fraiberg
Bad Kitty by Michele Jaffe

A lot of these books are hilarious and I love to laugh so if I can do that the rest of my life, that'd be great. But of course, a dose of seriousness is needed so Burned by Ellen Hopkins is on the list; that's my favorite of all her books.

jecca asks "What is one book you truly regret reading? And why?"

I actually don't ever regret reading a book. I read everything I come across (except for like one or two books that I stopped within the first 50 pages) and review them cuz I'm easily pleased. I'm just a laid-back, go with the flow kind of reader, so I'm not as receptive to problems within a novel, or just didn't actually HAVE problems with novels. But as I've reviewed books over the years, I've noticed more things that stand out to me as bad while reading, so I think my critical eye is getting better. But nothing so far has really made me regret reading it.

Kailia Sage asks "If there was one author in history who you could have lunch with, who would it be and why?"

Meg Cabot, hands down. Meg is a very funny and awesome person, so that alone should be enough. But she's also the author who got me reading again and introduced me to the YA section. If it weren't for her (and the Princess Diaries movies), I probably wouldn't be here. I do actually hope to have lunch (or coffee) with her while in NYC in May for BEA if she's free and actually in New York, since she mostly resides in Key West now. But I'm hoping since Abandon (her new YA) comes out in April with Overbite (sequel to Insatiable, an adult novel) following in June, she'll be at BEA doing some book signings and stuff.

If I get a lunch with her, I will be sure to tell you readers all about it.

Also, it may seem kinda silly to use a living author as the answer to this question, but there's not a lot of (or, really any) dead authors I'd like to chat with.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Sequins, Secrets, and Silver Linings by Sophia Bennett

Sequins, Secrets, and Silver Linings by Sophia Bennett
"When they meet a Ugandan refugee girl who's an amazing designer, three trendy London teens combine their talents to create some kind of wonderful. A hip, cute, multiculti fashion fairy tale!

Nonie's a freak for fashion. Bleeding-heart Edie wants to green the planet. And starter-starlet Jenny has just landed a small part in a big Hollywood blockbuster. But when these trendy London besties meet a Ugandan refugee girl named Crow, sketching a dress at the Victoria & Albert Museum, their worldview gets a makeover. As they learn about the serious situation in Crow's homeland, they decide to pool their talents to call attention to the crisis. One of Crow's designs on the red carpet at the Oscars--quelle chic way to raise awareness! Now...how to "make it work"?!"- summary from Amazon

This was a really cute, fun book. I enjoyed the characters- their interactions are realistic and Bennett writes them well- and it made for such a quick read. It's pretty funny too, which I always enjoy.

I did feel though that the parts about Crow's past felt a bit shoehorned in, like the author wanted to make the book more "serious" in a way. It's mentioned near the beginning and then not touched again for over 100 pages. I will say though that Bennett weaved the two parts- fun and serious- really well in the latter part of the book. The serious part is very disturbing and the ending is a bit too tied up for me (I know, when have I ever said that?); I'd been hoping for a different direction.

Overall, I feel like this is more of a library or paperback book. It's a nice read, but not worth the hardcover price, in my opinion.

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

Monday, January 3, 2011

Meandering Monday (5)- Fragment Friday News + Cats!

I have Fragment Friday news! It's taking a new look in 2011- monthly instead of weekly. I felt like doing it weekly was just too hard on both myself and those participating. People (including myself) wouldn't do it every week, so the Mr. Linky numbers would fluctuate and I think it's because it's harder to do than a regular meme like In My Mailbox or Waiting on Wednesday.

So here's how the monthly Fragment Friday will work. You can post fragments every week on your blog if you want, or just do one a month. It's up to you! I will continue doing them for Fresh New Voice of YA each month, so the Mr. Linky will be posted on that Friday. At that time and to the end of the month, you can put in all your Fragment Friday links into one Mr. Linky and then we'll have all the January fragments in one Mr. Linky.

I will announce the Mr. Linky day at the beginning of each month (or before, if it's an early one) and will be sure to mention it in each Meandering Monday so everyone knows when it is. I may also just put it in bold underneath my header, lol. That might be easier for everyone.

Anyway, this month's will take place on Jan. 21! So now that it's monthly, what will I be doing the rest of the Fridays? Well, as you all know, I have plenty of cats, so I figured I'd do a Cat Friday where I'd show pictures of my cats. The idea obviously came from Presenting Lenore's Cat Tuesday and I would do it on Tuesday too, except that's one of my days for book reviews. So I chose Friday instead. I want to break up the book reviews with fun things.

Hopefully this all made sense. If it did not (and it may not have- it is VERY late and I am both sick and tired), leave a comment and I'll answer it.

By the way, hope everyone had a wonderful holiday season! Happy New Year to all!