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

Monday, February 28, 2011

Meandering Monday (11)

This is gonna be a short Meandering Monday because I am sooo tired after the weekend I had. On Friday night, I went down to Raleigh, NC for the final stop in the Breathless Reads tour. It was awesome. A friend of mine came along with me and we had a good time, though got a bit lost on the way back. More details next Monday with pictures! I arrived home around 1am, went straight to bed, and woke up at 7:15am to get ready to head up to DC.

I was going to DC because my roommate and her boyfriend surprised me with an early birthday present- tickets to a Kathy Griffin show! We all love Kathy so it was really a present for all of us. The trip up was uneventful, then we grabbed lunch at Chipotle (them) and McDonald's (me) before heading over to visit with my grandma. We got there a bit late so we weren't able to visit for too long but it was nice to see her.

After that, I went home and did my taxes then it was time for dinner. My mom made spaghetti and meatballs with french bread, which we all really loved. We hung out for a bit after, though it ended up being too long because we ended up rushing out of the door. Luckily, everything went right for us- the subway stop we started at isn't far from the house, the train left shortly after we boarded (it was an end stop so sometimes those trains take a while to leave), we had to switch trains but the next train came after just a few minutes of waiting, the trackwork happening didn't hinder us much, and the shuttle to the Kennedy Center pretty much took off right after we got on at 7:50- 10 minutes before the show. They dropped us off at the front, we walked in and the theatre was the first on the left, blasting pop music.

We got our seats in the last row of the first set of seats in the orchestra section. It was such a good spot. We only had to wait a few minutes and then the show started so we got there at the right time. It started with a short clip video featuring interviews with Kathy, some stuff from her D-List show, and at the end, introductions from her celeb friends like Rosie O'Donnell, Betty White, Jane Lynch, Paris Hilton, and a couple others.

Kathy burst onto the stage, waving and dancing to Lady Gaga's Born This Way. Once she was done with that, she proceeded to make fun of multiple celebrities, including Charlie Sheen. She even wrote down quotes from him in her notebook because something new was popping up every hour. I was a bit sad there wasn't much about Oprah. I feel like there would've been but she made a joke about Oprah and some of the crowd didn't seem to like it so she skipped it. Which sucks because I really wanted to hear her thoughts on Oprah's final season and when Celine Dion was on last Monday. Hopefully it'll show up in her Bravo special which will be on in a few weeks.

The show was amazing though- she talked and joked for two hours and we all were laughing so hard. Once it was done, we went home (took longer though) and went to bed. We overslept a bit, had some breakfast and then drove back down to Lynchburg. It was a really fun weekend and one of the best I've had in a while.

Did any of you guys have a good weekend, either this one or sometime recently? Tell me about it!!

Friday, February 25, 2011

Cat Friday (6)

Yes, it's come. The moment you've all been waiting for! KITTEN PHOTOS!! These were taken after the cats were a few weeks old and growing hair and all that, but before we gave three away (then got two back later that year, lol) around 12 weeks old.

The kitten they're all laying on is Farley. Then from left to right, we have Khali, Meeko, Chance, and Pearl is off on his own, lol. Aren't they just ADORABLE?! They're still pretty cute now but nothing can beat them as kittens. They're so tiny! They used to fit in the palm of my hand. Now they're all grown(ish)- they will be two years old this May.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

RIP L.K. Madigan

So I heard on Twitter last night about the unfortunate passing of author L.K. Madigan. You can read a little more about it here. I didn't know her that well, but we got the chance to correspond a bit via email. She was working on a story where the main characters cross-dress to get into a strip club on Ladies' Night; she had shown it to another writer who was part of the GLBT community and she found it offensive. Lisa then thought of emailing me as I'm a young gay male who reads YA; she was a bit apprehensive about it, she told me, but Lisa Schroeder assured that I'm "super sweet", which is true.

Anyway, of course I read the excerpt, but being the unoffendable person I am, I found nothing wrong with it. She actually told me about some of the stuff she had in before she revised it. I still found that stuff funny. I'm weird. But during those email chats, we really hit it off. She was a wonderful, funny person.

A few months later, we got the chance to meet at ALA (photo below). She was so excited to see me (and I was excited to see her too) and even came out from behind the signing table to give me a big hug. We chatted for a few minutes and she signed my copy of Flash Burnout. It was so great to finally meet her in person.

A few months later, she sent me a signed copy of The Mermaid's Mirror, her second book, as a thank you for helping her out with that excerpt. She included a long note too- unfortunately, the manuscript had been rejected and she was working on revising it to send to other publishers.

I was astonished to hear last month about her pancreatic cancer diagnosis and I prayed that somehow things would work out. I didn't think that something like this would happen this soon.

But, like in her final post on her blog from last month, I'm glad she achieved her dream of being a published author and that she was lucky to live as long as she did after battling breast cancer. I'm glad I was able to meet her. I'm glad she has two wonderful books out there for the world to read. She is going to be missed immensely.

RIP L.K. Madigan.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Author Interview- Jessica Burkhart

1) Your Canterwood Crest novels are really doing well, with you contracted up to Book 20 (at the moment of this writing, at least). Did you ever expect them to do this well? How are you handling all the success?

I never expected the series to go beyond four novels--my first book deal. I was shocked and thrilled that I'd sold books and prepared myself to find a way to wrap the series at four. But my editor, Kate Angelella, fought for Canterwood and put all of her talent and knowledge to turn it into something that resulted in the publisher wanting more books. Kate is *finally* on the "dark side" :) as she's now a full-time freelance writer, author and freelance-editor, but I am incredibly lucky enough to have her freelance-editing Canterwood. The books would be entirely different without her. She's been there since Take the Reins.

I really (this sounds soo untrue, but it really is!) don't think about how the books are doing. I hold my breath from contract to contract just hoping that I'm able to keep writing as my full time job. I think the worry of will I ever sell another book? is enough to keep me grounded and not walk around thinking oooh, I have a 20 book series! Go me! I'd want someone to hit me over the head with one of my books if I ever acted like that!

2) Aside from the Canterwood novels, you seem to be working on several other projects for both middle-grade and YA. Can you tell us anything about them?

On the back burner, I have a dark YA verse novel, KEPT, that I've put aside for now. I'm taking a break from it to focus on my new start-up company with Kate--Violet & Ruby Productions. We launched our business in January 2011 and we're a two-person packager. We're penning e-books, e-novellas and co-writing novels. Co-owning a business with your best friend is amazing! I love collaborating with Kate and having a partner fills in weaknesses I have with writing and vice versa for her.

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

Ha! I love that you asked this! Kate got me a mini-Jelly Belly machine for Christmas. :) I looove bubble gum, watermelon and cotton candy. Y-U-M. Popcorn is GROSS!

4) According to your bio, you love Kathy Griffin. Have you ever seen her live (I'm seeing her Feb. 26!)? If not, are you going to one of her Broadway shows in March?

I was lucky enough to see her at Madison Square Garden last February! She was wonderful and it was beyond cool to see her in person since I'm a crazy fan of her show. You're going to have the best time seeing her.

5) What TV shows, movies and music are you into currently?

TV: Pretty Little Liars, any of the Real Housewives that are currently airing, Vampire Diaries and Supernatural.

Movies: Cannot wait for Red Riding Hood. Still watching Eclipse. :) Just saw and (surprisingly) loved Fight Club. I also want to see The Roommate with Leighton Meister. And a fave that I saw in theaters a while ago was Easy A. Emma Stone blew me away!

Music: Britney, Lady Gaga, Measure, Ben's Brother, Andrew Belle (those 3 are from the Pretty Little Liars soundtrack), Pink, Ke$ha, Katy Perry, Glee Cast and Nicki Minaj are currently on my playlist.

6) On your blog, I've seen a couple pictures of an extremely adorable kitty named Bailey. How and when did you get her? Any cute cat stories to tell us?

Oh, Bailey, LOL. :) She gets an ego boost when I try to show her a pic of herself on my blog. Bailey's actually not my cat--she's Kate's. But I love her like she's mine. I'm not allowed to have pets in my apartment and I'm a HUGE cat person, so I taking pics of Bailey. Whether she, um, likes it or not.

To preface the story--Bailey thinks she can't jump high. At all. She overshoots every jump and sits for five minutes before leaping onto the bed, couch, etc. With that said . . . one night I heard this pitiful meow that woke me up and I figured she was just making noise. Then it continued. I got up and found her inside a cardboard box that wasn't tall AT ALL but she wouldn't jump to get out. *shakes head* Cats. :)

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

I'm reading two right now--Losing Faith and Spirit Bound. Going to start Holly Black's Red Glove after that.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Falling Under by Gwen Hayes

Falling Under by Gwen Hayes
"Theia Alderson has always led a sheltered life in the small California town of Serendipity Falls. But when a devastatingly handsome boy appears in the halls of her school, Theia knows she's seen Haden before- not around town, but in her dreams.

As the Haden of both the night and the day beckons her closer one moment and pushes her away the next, the only thing Theia knows for sure is that the incredible pull she feels towards him is stronger than her fear.

And when she discovers what Haden truly is, Theia's not sure if she wants to resist him, even if the cost is her soul."- summary from Amazon

I enjoyed this book- it was something different from the usual paranormal fare, which I liked. The prose and atmosphere seemed very Gothic to me and it set such a great tone. I loved being with these characters a lot of the time, which really kept the story going for me.

The romance is front and center in this book with everything else kinda falling to the wayside. In a way, it was kinda nice to read a paranormal romance that wasn't also about this huge battle going on. Theia and Haden were fun to read about, though when they were apart, Theia got on my nerves sometimes because she was moping around and angsting about losing Haden. I can see though why she feels that way in a sense, but at the same time, I was like "Just get over it already." It bothers me to see the female characters act this way whenever their supernatural boyfriends get taken away.

Most of the time though, I did enjoy Theia and she's a brave character. I liked her interactions with her friends, which felt very realistic to me. I loved reading scenes with the three of them. There were some great twists and turns throughout the book, though another thing that bothered me a bit was the open ending. There's questions left unanswered and it really seems like this could've been a standalone with a few extra scenes added on.

Overall though, a very enjoyable read that's creepy, dark and romantic.

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

Monday, February 21, 2011

Meandering Monday (10)- Series vs. Standalone

It took me a little while to come to this idea. I sat down to write this (after midnight- didn't realize it was that late) and had writer's block. So I did what every writer does with a block (or even without)- I went to Twitter. I asked what I should write about and was promptly bombarded by 4 of those spam "Writers Needed" tweets. Eventually I did get a real answer from Liz, who said I should write about series vs standalones.

I told her that it was funny she mentioned that because the other day, I was talking with John on GChat and we talked about series and standalones. I had just finished Falling Under by Gwen Hayes (review tomorrow) and was under the impression that it was a standalone however it has an open ending, so it seems like a sequel will be coming. I don't know for sure about that though.

Anyway, I enjoy both a lot but it seems like a LOT of books are becoming series these days, mainly trilogies. It bugs me when a story leaves me on a cliffhanger and it seems like almost all the books I read do that. Unless of course it's a contemporary book, where it's more likely that it's a standalone. Why can't we tell a paranormal story in one book anymore? I'm writing one right now and it's gonna be a standalone, no matter what.

It's nice to just read a standalone and be done with the story once you finish the final pages. You don't have to worry about what's gonna happen next because everything's wrapped up. At least, that's how it works for me. I know from reading various authors' blogs that TONS of people feel differently and want everything to be a series. People are still asking for a 7th Mediator book from Meg Cabot, even though she's said no repeatedly and the 6th book came out like 5 years ago. Or even books like Sarah Dessen's where it's usually wrapped up- people still ask for sequels.

At the same time though, series can be a lot of fun. I LOVE The Princess Diaries (and many of Meg's other series) to bits. Melissa Marr's Wicked Lovely series is fantastic; so is Julie Kagawa's Iron Fey series and many other series. I do enjoy spending time with characters and so it's nice to be able to revisit them with each book. In fact, I'm re-reading 13 Little Blue Envelopes by Maureen Johnson and am so excited for the sequel to be out in April because I love Ginny so much and really enjoy reading her adventures.

Time to stop this rambling. What does everything else think about series and standalones?

Sunday, February 20, 2011

In My Mailbox- Week of February 14 + Retrospective

Here's my vlog for this week!

Books Shown:

What Happened to Goodbye by Sarah Dessen
Where She Went by Gayle Forman (my 2nd copy- will be used in a contest!)
Father of Lies by Ann Turner
Cloaked by Alex Flinn
Skate Fate by Juan Felipe Herrera
Home to Woefield by Susan Juby (my first ever GoodReads win!)
and bookmarks from Cyn Balog and Tera Lynn Childs

Here's the retrospective for this week. Go back and comment on some of these awesome posts!

Monday- I interviewed Sara Bennett Wealer, author of Rival.

Tuesday- I helped premiere the cover for Sweet Venom by Tera Lynn Childs and also read an excerpt from Angelfire by Courtney Allison Moulton.

Wednesday- I reviewed Rival by Sara Bennett Wealer, which is out in stores now.

Friday- It was this month's Fragment Friday, so put your links in if you've been participating! I read from Rival by Sara Bennett Wealer.

Saturday- I reviewed Angelfire by Courtney Allison Moulton, which is out in stores now.

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Fresh New Voice of YA- Angelfire by Courtney Allison Moulton

Angelfire by Courtney Allison Moulton
"First there are nightmares.

Every night Ellie is haunted by terrifying dreams of monstrous creatures that are hunting her, killing her.

Then come the memories.

When Ellie meets Will, she feels on the verge of remembering something just beyond her grasp. His attention is intense and romantic, and Ellie feels like her soul has known him for centuries. On her seventeenth birthday, on a dark street at midnight, Will awakens Ellie's power, and she knows that she can fight the creatures that stalk her in the grim darkness. Only Will holds the key to Ellie's memories, whole lifetimes of them, and when she looks at him, she can no longer pretend anything was just a dream.

Now she must hunt.

Ellie has power that no one can match, and her role is to hunt and kill the reapers that prey on human souls. But in order to survive the dangerous and ancient battle of the angels and the Fallen, she must also hunt for the secrets of her past lives and truths that may be too frightening to remember."-summary from Amazon

This is one hell of a debut. I was sucked in from the beginning and hated having to put the book down for anything. Moulton did a wonderful job with the world building here; it was pretty original and had some interesting twists along the way.

Ellie is a great heroine- strong, tough, fights hard for what she believes in as well as her loved ones (and y'know, the rest of humanity) but also has flaws like any regular teenager- insecurity (mainly stemming from her crazy father, who I feel like may have more going on there than what the surface is), lying quite a bit, and other stuff. I really wish I could get a good grasp on her flaws and could describe them, but it's hard. She isn't perfect though and when reading the book, she's a really well-written character.

The will-they-won't-they romance that's usually prevalent in paranormal books is here too, but I really like how Moulton sets it up. It's not love at first sight, though Ellie does find Will attractive. The romance grows as the novel goes on but for the most part, they're friends for a majority of the novel and I really liked that. The action scenes and flashbacks are written really well too. They're suspenseful and page-turning; Moulton has a real knack for writing great fight scenes.

Overall, a really great debut and wonderful way to start a trilogy. I eagerly anticipate the next novel!

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

Friday, February 18, 2011

FNV Excerpt + Fragment Friday- Rival by Sara Bennett Wealer

Fragment Friday is a monthly 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! It's a fun way to learn about new books or to hear a sample from a book you're dying to read. You can do it weekly if you wish but the Mr. Linky will be up once a month; the date will be revealed the first of every month underneath the banner at the top of my page. Next month, I'll post the Mr. Linky on March 11.

Here's my excerpt vlog for Rival by Sara Bennett Wealer:

Rival is now out in stores and is an awesome read! Also, it's time for Fragment Friday! Put your links from the month in the Mr. Linky below!

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Fresh New Voice of YA- Rival by Sara Bennett Wealer

Rival by Sara Bennett Wealer
I don't like Kathryn Pease. I could pretend everything's fine between us. I could be nice to her face, then trash her behind her back. But I think it's better to be honest. I don't like Kathryn, and I'm not afraid to admit it.

I saw a commercial where singers used their voices to shatter glass, but the whole thing is pretty much a myth. The human voice isn't that strong.

Human hatred is. Anybody who doubts that should feel the hate waves coming off of Brooke Dempsey. But I don't shatter; I'm not made of glass. Anyway, the parts that break aren't on the outside.

Brooke and Kathryn used to be best friends . . . until the night when Brooke ruthlessly turned on Kathryn in front of everyone. Suddenly Kathryn was an outcast and Brooke was Queen B. Now, as they prepare to face off one last time, each girl must come to terms with the fact that the person she hates most might just be the best friend she ever had."- summary from Amazon

Wealer has a fantastic debut on her hands; I loved this book! I used to be in Choir in high school so it was fun to read a story completely set around it. It was also nice to read a story where the competition (mostly the prep for it) and singing get as much, if not more, time than the boys and romance that shows up. Occasionally, contemporary reads (well, and paranormal too) can get way too caught up in the romance and not enough time focusing on what else is going on in the main characters' lives.

I really enjoyed the dual perspective as well as seeing how everything started junior year and then flashing forward a year later and seeing where things were there between Kathryn and Brooke. It was fun to read both their perspectives and Wealer did a great job of how we present ourselves and how others perceive us. There's a scene right in the beginning where Brooke, Kathryn, and a few other Choir members are singing something and Kathryn turns to her friend Matt and smiles because she's loving singing because she forgets about all her problems. In Brooke's section following it, we get a different take as she thinks Kathryn's doing a condescending smile that was directed at her rather than what Kathryn intended it to be. I loved little things like that.

Everything is just handled so well and realistically, and it was just so much fun to read this book. The ending was amazing and, while it seems silly for a regular contemporary read, had me on the edge of my seat turning pages quickly.

Overall, just a wonderful read that hits every note perfectly (ha! I couldn't resist!).

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

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

FNV Excerpt Vlog- Angelfire by Courtney Allison Moulton

Here's the excerpt vlog for Angelfire by Courtney Allison Moulton:

Hope everyone enjoys it! Angelfire is out in stores today- go grab a copy!!

Sweet Venom by Tera Lynn Childs Cover Reveal!

Here's the cover for Tera Lynn Childs' upcoming book Sweet Venom, which is the first book in the Medusa Girls trilogy:

Three teenage descendants of Medusa, the once-beautiful gorgon maligned by myth, must reunite and embrace their fates in a world where monsters lurk in plain sight.

The tentative release date is October 4, 2011. You can add it on GoodReads or like it on Facebook! To find out more about the book and series, go to Tera's website. So enough with all the links; isn't the cover gorgeous?! I can't wait to read the book- it sounds amazing! What do you all think?

Monday, February 14, 2011

Fresh New Voice of YA- Interview with Sara Bennett Wealer

1) How did you get the idea for Rival?

Singing has always been a big part of my life, and when I started RIVAL I was deep into a busy season of rehearsals with the May Festival Chorus, the choir that sings with the Cincinnati Symphony. So I had music on the brain! I also remembered how it felt to be in high school, competing with other singers for parts in the school musical, show choir and elite Chamber Choir. That was such a complicated time, and there are things I definitely wish I'd done differently in terms of how I handled friendships, etc. I figured a rivalry, set against a musical backdrop, would make a great story conflict, plus I really enjoyed exploring the various sides of a competitive relationship.

2) Tell us all about The Call/The Email for publication! Where were you when you got it? Did you do anything to celebrate the sale?

By the time I got The Call, I'd already had some false starts and some almost-sales and put in a lot of hard work on revisions, so it wasn't really that fairy tale moment that some authors experience, where the phone rings out of the blue and you get this amazing news. Yes, the news was amazing, and it felt great, but I was so, so ready for it that my reaction was more, "Oh, cool. Yay! It's about time!" I actually got The Call late in the late afternoon while hanging out in my basement watching TV with my daughter. My agent gave me the details, I said, "Oh, cool. Yay! etc." and then I went upstairs to make dinner since it was a school night. I emailed a few of my author friends, called my mom to tell her it was official, then I celebrated a few nights later by going out with my husband.

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

I've got a book finished that I really love - it's set during sorority rush week, and I've got fingers crossed for it even though it's in that "college book" category (Note from Book Chic: COLLEGE BOOKS ROCK!), which seems a little tough. I'm working on another YA that's got what I would consider a supernatural theme, though it's not about ghosts or zombies or creatures of any kind. I'm afraid to reveal the concept because just naming it could reveal too much. Let's just say I'm really excited about it!

4) In your bio, you mention having more cats than a family should have and to that I say, pshaw! There can never be too many cats, as long as they can be properly taken care of (when you get to hoarding levels and they're suffering, that's a problem). Anyway, tell us about your cats!

Ah, I am a sucker for stray cats! We have four, and we plan to keep it at that number or fewer because four feels like plenty! Here's the Wealer kitty roll call:

First there's Schroeder, the old ginger tabby cat. He was my very first pet when I went out on my own, which means he's pushing 15 years. I got him from the shelter and he's my best buddy.

Next there's Gertie, the little gray tiger striped girl. I used to live in a university neighborhood where kids would get pets then abandon them when they'd move to apartments with stricter landlords. Gertie was one of those strays, and she was so cute and cheeky I just had to take her in.

When we moved to Cincinnati, a feral black cat had kittens under a rosebush in our yard. We found homes for all of the babies and kept one for ourselves - his name is Ike (named after the baby in South Park), and now he's this huge lug of a gray striped tabby. He can be a real crabby patty sometimes, but we love him!

And finally, there's Lucky, the fluffy orange baby of the group. I found him by the side of the road in the rain while driving home from a meeting a couple of years ago. I didn't think twice, just popped him into my car, fleas and all. I wanted to name him Cheeto, but my daughter insisted on Lucky - and he definitely is. He's also extremely adorable.

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

I love good old-fashioned cherry - or watermelon, or green apple. Dang, now I want Jelly Bellies!!

6) You're part of the YA Contemps, a group of authors with contemporary novels being released over the course of a year, which started a few months ago. How did you get involved with that, and how has it helped you prepare for the release of your book?

Lisa Schroeder, who started the Contemps, put the word out with some author groups I belong to, and I sent her information about my book. I'm really honored to have been selected for the group! We've got a great range of authors, from debuts to seasoned pros, and we're able to offer each other support and advice. Plus, when it comes to getting the word out about your book, there's power in numbers. We're trying to shine a spotlight on contemporary fiction, and it helps to have a good number of authors with books on a variety of topics.

7) What book(s) are you reading right now, or are about to start? Any ones you're looking forward to reading later in 2011?

I have pretty much every Elevensie in my "to be read" or "to buy" list. Seriously, all of those books sound amazing! I usually have a few going at once, and my "in progress" list includes THE MOCKINGBIRDS, MATCHED, PARANORMALCY, BOY HEAVEN and THE DUFF.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

In My Mailbox- Week of February 6 + Retrospective

I didn't get a whole lot this week but I'm excited about what I got:

Falling Under by Gwen Hayes (from Around the World Tours)
Angelfire by Courtney Allison Moulton (returned to me from Susan of Wastepaper Prose)
Divergent by Veronica Roth (borrowing from Susan)
Chocolate chip cookies (a surprise from Susan!)
a package full of Desires of the Dead swag from Kimberly Derting
and bookmarks from Cyn Balog for her upcoming book Starstruck (they're very pretty!)

Here's my retrospective for this week:

Monday- My Meandering Monday post contained my thoughts regarding Bitch Media as well as the worth of bloggers.

Tuesday- I reviewed Wake Unto Me by Lisa Cach, which will be out on March 31 as an original paperback.

Wednesday- I posted the 20th edition of Ask Book Chic, which includes my thoughts on books for Christmas, Mac vs PC and I talk about my Top 3 favorite books of all time.

Thursday- I reviewed Shadow Walkers by Brent Hartinger, which is out in stores now.

Friday- I posted a cute picture of one of my cats as part of Cat Friday.

Saturday- I reviewed The Locket by Stacey Jay, which is out in stores now.

Saturday, February 12, 2011

The Locket by Stacey Jay

The Locket by Stacey Jay
"On her seventeenth birthday, Katie discovers a locket and decides to wear it for good luck. But when her boyfriend Isaac finds out she cheated on him - with their mutual best friend Mitch, no less - he dumps her, leaving her devastated.

And then a miracle happens. The locket burns on Katie's chest and she feels herself going back two weeks in time, to the night she cheated with Mitch. At first, Kate is delighted to be a better girlfriend to Isaac this time around. But as other aspects of her life become inexplicably altered, she realizes that changing the past may have had a dangerous effect on her present.

Can she make things right before the locket destroys everything - and everyone - she loves? "- summary from Amazon

This is my first Stacey Jay book even though it's her fourth release and I own her debut, but I have to tell you, I'm definitely going to be looking at the rest of her novels soon. I loved the voice and feel of The Locket, and Jay did a great job setting it all up.

I really liked the concept of the book and the logistics of it were handled well. The differences in this alternate world of sorts were interesting and I like how Katie's new decisions affected her life in ways she couldn't even imagine, even if they were tiny little things. Though I loved the twist at the end, which was pretty clever. I also thought she might end it a certain way, which would be very bold, but I liked how it ended.

I loved the scenes between Katie and Mitch, and also her friend Sarah. Jay does a good job with realistic dialogue that flows well and is also funny. I laughed out loud a few times during the book. But the book is pretty dark too at times, which I really enjoyed. I like when a story can do both humor and serious really well.

Overall, I'm so glad I picked this book up. I kept hearing wonderful things about Stacey Jay's work and now I'm happy to have finally read something of hers. Definitely a book I'd recommend.

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

Friday, February 11, 2011

Cat Friday (5)

Cat Friday is a somewhat-weekly meme that's similar to Presenting Lenore's Cat Tuesday, in which I show off pictures of my cats. You've seen them in videos wandering by but now you can see them more clearly. I've got a final cat to show off, then I'm going to show off some photos of when some were little kittens. We have a whole family- a mom, dad, and 4 of 5 kittens (a little over a year and a half old now). The fifth is living with a friend of ours. Here's our final kitten whose name is Meeko (originally Oreo):

He enjoys doing this sort of thing- climbing into open bags and curling up inside them, no matter how small they are. This was from Christmas 2009 when my roommate got a new purse, so her old purse was laying on the floor, empty, while she put her belongings in the new purse. He decided to crawl in and make it his new home.

He's also a huge cuddler and has recently started to jump up onto peoples' shoulders to hang himself around their neck, so he seems to think he's a bird or something. He loves to lick too and give kisses. Anyway, isn't he so adorable?!

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Shadow Walkers by Brent Hartinger

Shadow Walkers by Brent Hartinger
"Zach lives with his grandparents on a remote island in Puget Sound in Washington State. With only his little brother, Gilbert, to keep him company, Zach feels cut off from the world. But when Gilbert is kidnapped, Zach tries the only thing he can think of to find him: astral projection. Soon, his spirit is soaring through the strange and boundless astral realm—a shadow place. While searching for his brother, Zach meets a boy named Emory, another astral traveler who's intriguing (and cute).

As Zach and Emory track the kidnappers from the astral realm, their bond grows—but each moment could be Gilbert's last. Even worse, there's a menacing, centuries-old creature in their midst that devours souls and possesses physical bodies. And it's hungry for Zach."-summary from Amazon

I've been looking forward to a new Brent Hartinger book since 2009's Project Sweet Life (pretty much exactly two years since that book; both released in Feb), and even more so when I found out this would feature a gay protagonist. I'll be honest though; this was a bit of a let-down. That's not to say it was a bad book because it wasn't, but it just wasn't an amazing book like I know Hartinger can write (like his Geography Club series).

I think I'll start with the bad stuff and end on the good. When I read the summary right before reading the book and then looked at the page count, I thought to myself "This is a lot of story for so few pages." and I was right. Everything felt like it didn't get enough time to really develop because the book kept focusing on different things. Even though the two plot points come together at the end, I thought the soul-eating creature was really unnecessary and didn't seem to add much to the storyline that couldn't have been handled in a different way.

Characterization suffered too even though there's a small cast of characters. The most developed is Zach, being the main character, and the second-most is Emory, the boy he meets in the astral plane. But even Emory's characterization isn't that good; I never really got a good grip on his character. I also wanted their romance to be more developed too. I mean, I know they're just starting out and all that, but I felt like I didn't get enough of a sense of why they were attracted to each other. I did think that what was shown was cute and I adored the ending, but I wanted more. Does that make sense?

Also, a small side note- I got a final copy of this so it's the copy that's going into stores rather than an ARC. I spotted quite a few repeated and misplaced words and that bothered me a bit. I know it can't be perfect, but it happened way more than usual.

OK, on to the good stuff. I know after all that bad stuff, it seems like there shouldn't be any good stuff but trust me, there is. I really did enjoy the book even though I had issues with those things. But those issues didn't really crop up until after I thought about the book (except for the typos), so they didn't affect my actual reading. Like I said above, the romance is cute, if underdeveloped. I really liked the astral projection idea and how Hartinger executed the world; it's not often you read about that sort of thing. The ending was really interesting too and had a twist I wasn't expecting.

I also enjoyed his use of the small town and Zach's desire to escape it. I understand how Zach feels even though I didn't live on an island as a teenager. I still felt isolated and unsure of myself. I think a lot of teenagers, not just GLBT ones, would identify with this character.

Overall, it's a good book but it has its flaws. If I were to do a star rating, I'd say 3.5 out of 5. I do think the good things outweigh the bad though, so it is worth a shot if you're in the market for a paranormal GLBT book.

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

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Ask Book Chic (20)

Welcome back to Ask Book Chic, the feature where you guys get to ask me whatever questions you want (about blogging, writing, my life, anything 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 Taylor asks "Have you put any books on your Christmas list or like Kristi from Story Siren, do you not get many books for Christmas?"

I know it's past Christmas now, but I don't think I asked for too many books ever for Christmas. By the time I found YA and got back into reading, I was already an adult. I'd usually buy a book myself or sometimes would ask for one or two for Christmas, and most of the list was CDs or DVDs that I wanted (some of them imports). But now my family doesn't really do presents anymore as everyone's an adult now. Even if we did, I probably wouldn't ask for books since I already have more than enough to read because of the blog, lol.

Cindy asks "What are your top 3 favorite books of all time??"

I've put up a list similar to this before but not a Top 3 so this'll take some thinking. The main criteria is re-readability; I need to like a book enough that I'd want to re-read it, which doesn't happen very often for me.

1) Good Omens by Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman- I could never get tired of this book. It's a hilarious take on the Apocalypse.

2) Boy Meets Girl by Meg Cabot- Probably my favorite out of all of Meg's books (and they're all so good!). It's just such a good romantic, funny read.

3) Bad Kitty by Michele Jaffe- A funny mystery that includes footnotes? I'm so there. I'm actually re-reading this one right now!

Also, just to let everyone know, if one of you doesn't like my list of recommendations, feel free to leave a comment and I'll replace it with another title that wasn't originally on this list because I don't stand by the books I recommend. And no amount of people loving the original title will sway me from my arbitrary, cowardly and stupid decision that affected the integrity of the list and made it all moot.

BookMac asks "Okay here's my big question....MAC or PC???"

PC all the way. I cannot stand MAC computers. They just frustrate me so much because the ones I've used have been so slow and can't seem to do more than one thing at a time.

So while Windows occasionally peeves me off, it's not as much as Mac computers frustrate me.

Please stay a follower though. I don't think I could afford to lose all my Mac-loving followers. :P

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Wake Unto Me by Lisa Cach

Wake Unto Me by Lisa Cach
"Caitlyn Monahan knows she belongs somewhere else. It's what her dead mother's note suggested, and it's what her recurring nightmares allude to.

Desperate to flee these terrifying dreams--and her small town--she accepts a spot at a boarding school in France. Only, when she arrives, her nightmares get worse.

But then there are her amazing dreams, so vivid and so real, with visits from an alluring, mysterious, and gorgeous Italian boy from the 1500s. Caitlyn knows they are soul mates, but how can she be in love with someone who exists only in her dreams?

Then, as her reality and dream world collide, Caitlyn searches for the real reason why she was brought to this school. And what she discovers will change her life forever."- summary from Amazon

I really enjoyed this book. I loved the connection to the past and the mystery surrounding everything. There's a great mythology here that Cach really spent a lot of time on- the author's note at the end has some really cool facts and thoughts. Plus, the exotic location of France, though underused, is still pretty fun to see.

Caitlyn is a great heroine though I could've done with less moping from her when it came to The Boy (whose name I can't remember! Gah!). I loved reading her interactions with the fellow students and there's some great humor in here. I also liked that she was really into art and how it's used in the story.

Overall, a really good book with wonderful characters, an interesting romance, and some twists and turns. I also think it's a standalone which is cool, though it could be expanded upon which is nice; yet another book that meets that quota. Definitely check this out on March 31 when it's released!

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

Monday, February 7, 2011

Meandering Monday (9)

Warning: This post written around midnight and may be incoherent due to the blogger's tiredness. He hopes it all makes sense somehow.

OK, everybody and their mother has weighed in on this and the other topic I'm covering today, so I'll try to keep this short.

Last week, BITCH magazine unveiled their first ever book list and I imagine that the uproar it caused will give them plenty to think about (we hope) if they ever do another one. See, what happened was that a list of the 100 Young Adult books for the Feminist Reader was posted and it had some amazing books on there. It was a wonderful starting place for feminist reads as there are definitely more than 100 and it was a great idea for a list like this to be posted.

A few comments in though, someone brought up a review from the Book Smugglers about Sisters Red and a whole "rape culture" debate that went on because they misinterpreted a passage from the book and then went on a rampage of hate for the book. I was so angry reading that review and the comments because it was like these people were stupid and didn't understand how fiction works.

But anyway, as soon as the link to the review was placed on the list's post, the author of the list said "Oh, I didn't know about this. Sisters Red is off!" and replaced it with a different book.

Yes, that's right. ONE comment that linked to ONE negative review got a book taken off. The author of the post said that she hadn't done enough research and hadn't found any negative reviews. Has she not heard of Amazon or GoodReads? I'm sure there are plenty of 1 or 2 star reviews that point out this absurd viewpoint. Either way, ALL books, especially the ones on this list, are bound to have detractors. I mean, some of them have been challenged in school districts; this just means that they're really good because parents are afraid of their child finding out about the real world. Which seems to be what Bitch Media is doing, though they're not doing a good job by leaving Wintergirls by Laurie Halse Anderson and Sold by Patricia McCormick on the list. To me, these are not bad books, but if you're getting rid of a book that doesn't even have rape in it and saying it does, then you should probably take off the books that actually show the horrors of humanity.

What bothers me about this list is that Bitch Media didn't stand by it. They made a list, posted it on the internet for all to see, and then caved when one person comes along and says they thought a book sucked and therefore shouldn't be on the list. When you make a list for your blog, even if it's a long 100 book list, you need to have reasons for placing the books there so you can tell haters why you're recommending it. Even if you haven't read the book in question and had just been recommended it by several other people, write down THEIR reasons and stand by them. The first rule of blogging is never back down. Never let readers control your blog and what you post. If I ever post a list of recommended books here, I'm not gonna let some random commenter make me change the list because they didn't like a book. This is MY list, not yours. If you don't like a book I put there, make your own list.

In the end though, Bitch Media lost TONS of integrity by taking three books off the list- Sisters Red by Jackson Pearce, Living Dead Girl by Elizabeth Scott, and Tender Morsels by Margo Lanagan- and making the list way less feminist than it was. Even though there were very few comments requesting those books' removal, apparently it was bigger than the 50 bajillion comments supporting those books and how they had helped people who had been victims of rape. So the saying is true- one person can cause change. Just not in the way we intended.

Read Diana Peterfreund's take on all of this, and she also includes lots of links to other people who chimed in with their thoughts. Also, The Book Smugglers posted their thoughts about the whole fiasco (which they should since it was their fault to begin with).

OK, so that was WAY longer than it was meant to be, but when I'm angry, I get on a roll. Last week also marked the latest in Blogger Backlash. During a YA Lit Chat on Twitter, there were tons of comments made about how bloggers are taking all the ARCs away from teachers and librarians and how we don't deserve them because we do nothing at all and are only in it for the free books.

Yes, there are people out there who think that. Yes, I'd like to punch them as well.

But what they fail to realize is that ALL groups have bad apples. Now, I haven't come into contact with any, which is wonderful, but there are bad librarians out there. There are also bad teachers. Should those groups be judged by the actions of a few? Absolutely not. So why should we?

Just because you've come into contact with one greedy, rude blogger doesn't mean we're all like that. All of my blogger friends are in it for the love of books and their passion for reading. ARCs are just a perk. Pretty much all of us didn't even know ARCs existed until we'd already started our book blogs and we could probably keep our blogs going without them. They are helpful to have, but not necessary.

As for bloggers receiving ARCs, that's up to the publisher. If they decided to not give us any ARCs, that's their prerogative and we'd all live with it. But they see what we're capable of and how we can help sales and build buzz and all that business-y stuff and decide to send ARCs to us.

So please, before you go badmouthing us, get to know us. And by "us", I mean more than one person you had a bad experience with.

Other thoughts on this topic come from Lindsey Leavitt (who mentions me!), Pam from Bookalicious, and Adele from Persnickety Snark!

Sunday, February 6, 2011

In My Mailbox- Week of Jan. 31 + Retrospective

I did another vlog! Enjoy!

Books Shown:

Wake Unto Me by Lisa Cach (ARC; March 2011)
Fairy Bad Day by Amanda Ashby (ARC; June 2011)
Sister Mischief by Laura Goode (ARC; July 2011)
Delirium by Lauren Oliver (Hardcover; Feb 2011)
The Lost City by Catherine Fisher (ARC; May 2011)
Shimmer by Alyson Noel (ARC; March 2011)

And here's my retrospective for the last week:

Monday- I talked about my experience taking ARCs to my local library to donate elsewhere and speaking with the Youth Department about my blog.

Tuesday- I reviewed Hex Hall by Rachel Hawkins, which is out in stores now as a paperback. The sequel, Demonglass, will be out March 1.

Wednesday- I posted about the Twitter party for Prom and Prejudice, which has already happened. I didn't go for some reason, but I'm sure it was fun!

Thursday- I reviewed Red Moon Rising by Peter Moore, which is out in stores now.

Friday- A new entry in Cat Friday was posted when I showed off a picture of our mommy cat, Maya!

Saturday- I reviewed Cryer's Cross by Lisa McMann, which will be out in stores Feb. 8!

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Cryer's Cross by Lisa McMann

Cryer's Cross by Lisa McMann
"The small town of Cryer’s Cross is rocked by tragedy when an unassuming freshman disappears without a trace. Kendall Fletcher wasn’t that friendly with the missing girl, but the angst wreaks havoc on her OCD-addled brain.

When a second student goes missing—someone close to Kendall’s heart—the community is in an uproar. Caught in a downward spiral of fear and anxiety, Kendall’s not sure she can hold it together. When she starts hearing the voices of the missing, calling out to her and pleading for help, she fears she’s losing her grip on reality. But when she finds messages scratched in a desk at school—messages that could only be from the missing student who used to sit there—Kendall decides that crazy or not, she’d never forgive herself if she didn’t act on her suspicions.

Something’s not right in Cryer’s Cross—and Kendall’s about to find out just how far the townspeople will go to keep their secrets buried."- summary from Amazon

This book is Creepy City, and McMann builds it up really well. Her Wake trilogy was scary at times, but this story takes it all to the next level. The spare prose I loved in her previous books is present and it really makes the pages turn quickly. In this kind of story, having that sense of urgency helps because it sucks the reader in.

Kendall is a great character and I enjoyed reading her story. The other characters are fun to read about too; I liked Marlena and Jacian the most. Jacian rivals Cabel from the Wake trilogy and I think I definitely prefer him; he is very swoon-worthy, at least once you get to know him.

I really enjoyed the twist at the end too and I was like "WOAH!" It was very clever and handled well. It all made sense. The ending itself is a bit open, which is cool, and it's the kind of open ending I can live with.

I don't really have anything bad to say about this book. It's another hit for McMann and a wonderful stand-alone book. Definitely one to get when it's released Feb. 8.

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

Friday, February 4, 2011

Cat Friday (4)

Only two more cats to show off and then I can show off group shots of when they were babies and how they are now. Today's cat is Maya, who's the mommy of the 5 kittens (we originally gave away 3 to friends, but 2 came back). She was hard to find a photo for because she doesn't seem to do that many cute things in front of us. But I found one:

A simple picture, yes, but still cute. She was a good mommy in the beginning, but she's gotten kinda mean since then. She doesn't like to play much even though she's like four years old so her children get on her nerves when they want to play with her. She's also kinda possessive- when she's sitting in my lap and another cat comes along, she growls and swipes at them. But sometimes she can be pretty cute so she's not all bad, lol.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Red Moon Rising by Peter Moore

Red Moon Rising by Peter Moore
"Being only half-vamp in a high school like Carpathia Night makes you a whole loser. But Danny Gray manages to escape the worst of the specists at his school. Thanks to genetic treatments he had as an infant, most people assume Danny's other half is human. Which is a good thing.

Ever since the development of synthetic blood – SynHeme – vamps have become society’s elite, while wulves like his father work menial jobs and live in bad neighborhoods. Wulves are less than second class citizens; once a month they become inmates, forced to undergo their Change in dangerous government compounds.

For Danny, living with his vamp mother and going to a school with a nearly all-vamp student body, it’s best to pretend his wulf half doesn’t even exist. But lately Danny's been having some weird symptoms -- fantastic night vision; a keener-than-usual sense of smell; and headaches, right around the full moon.

Even though it's easy to be in denial, it's hard to ignore evidence. There's only a month until the next few moon, and Danny's time is running out."- summary from Amazon

This was a really cool book. I enjoyed reading about this society that knows about vampires and werewolves and they all intermingle to an extent. The fact that it was humorous too helped as well; not many paranormals these days are funny.

With the paranormals being out and about in this world, there are prejudices running rampant and equal rights being wanted for werewolves. It mirrors our world in a way so that was fun to see a parallel there. I also liked the clever songs and artists placed in the book that were altered a bit to reflect the society being lived in (there's David Bo E with his song "Changes" all about the werewolf change).

The characters were really fun to read about and I loved their interactions. Danny was a great protagonist and his journey is a really interesting one with a cool twist. His friends are awesome too- I loved Claire and her sarcastic nature.

Overall, this is a great book that I think really anyone (even a teen boy) can enjoy- it's got an interesting take on paranormal, there is a romance but it doesn't take over the story and it's not overwrought, and it's funny. The ending worked for me as a stand-alone but I do think a series could happen as there are some unanswered questions (that could be left unanswered if it's a stand-alone; I know, confusing, right?). I'm really glad I read it.

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

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Prom and Prejudice Twitter Party!

Join Prom & Prejudice author Elizabeth Eulberg and Tirzah of The Compulsive Reader for a Twitter party Thursday, February 3, between 8:00 – 9:00 p.m. EST!

Be sure to follow Elizabeth @ElizEulberg and Tirzah @compelledtoread before the party!

Join the fun! No one expects you or your tweets to be perfect; we’re just happy you made it to the party!

Watch for giveaways from @compelledtoread and win fun prizes!

To join the party, you can use a free service like TweetChat or TweetGrid or just search #PromAndPrejudice on Twitter.

Ask Elizabeth questions or chat with other partygoers—just use the tag #PromAndPrejudice in all of your party tweets!

Please don’t post any spoilers and don’t forget to pay attention to the time zones, the party starts at 8:00pm EST.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Hex Hall by Rachel Hawkins

Hex Hall by Rachel Hawkins
"Three years ago, Sophie Mercer discovered that she was a witch. It’s gotten her into a few scrapes. Her non-gifted mother has been as supportive as possible, consulting Sophie’s estranged father—an elusive European warlock—only when necessary. But when Sophie attracts too much human attention for a prom-night spell gone horribly wrong, it’s her dad who decides her punishment: exile to Hex Hall, an isolated reform school for wayward Prodigium, a.k.a. witches, faeries, and shapeshifters.

By the end of her first day among fellow freak-teens, Sophie has quite a scorecard: three powerful enemies who look like supermodels, a futile crush on a gorgeous warlock, a creepy tagalong ghost, and a new roommate who happens to be the most hated person and only vampire on campus. Worse, Sophie soon learns that a mysterious predator has been attacking students, and her only friend is the number-one suspect.

As a series of blood-curdling mysteries starts to converge, Sophie prepares for the biggest threat of all: an ancient secret society determined to destroy all Prodigium, especially her."- summary from Amazon

I don't know why it took me so long to get to this book because I LOVE books about witches (in fact, I think I have several books with witches I have yet to read- must rectify that!). I love watching TV shows about witches- Bewitched, Sabrina the Teenage Witch, Charmed. So a book all about a boarding school for witches and other paranormals? Right up my alley.

I flew through this book. Hawkins' prose is just so compelling and Sophie's voice was so good that I just didn't want to put it down. The mystery of the student attacker helped as well plus the romance in the story. The characters were wonderful and funny and I really liked hanging out with them. It makes me want the sequel so badly!!

Overall, an awesome, funny paranormal debut and Hawkins has a fan for life.

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