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

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

BEA Recap- Tuesday and Wednesday

I got into New York City late Tuesday afternoon around 3:30pm and immediately high-tailed it to the Javits Center from Penn Station. I got my badge and checked my suitcase in the baggage claim before heading into the hall. I made it to Daniel Nayeri's signing with a couple minutes to spare; he was signing a portion of his upcoming novella compilation. It's a collection of 4 novellas and they just put out the fourth novella so I have to wait for the release date to get the whole book. Daniel and I chatted for a bit, and I gave the Candlewick publicist with him my business card. I absolutely love my business cards and I was so happy to have them on hand this year.

After that, I went to Ilsa Bick's line for Draw the Dark. I was going to go to Leigh Fallon's line for Carrier of the Mark but it was way too long. I had tweeted Ilsa the day before about going to her signing and she told me to let her know it was me when I got up to her, which I did. She was so happy to meet me and I'm really excited to read her book.

I wandered around to a few booths after that but everything was winding down for the day so there wasn't much going on. So I went and met Susan and the others out in the lobby to head home for the BBQ. When I found them, Susan had a surprise for me- an ARC of Forever by Maggie Stiefvater, which I made a huge happy face over. While trying to get a cab, we saw a car that was picking up Ice-T, but I only saw his wife Coco get into it and then they drove away. Still, it was a cool experience. Also, our cab driver that night hated books and had never finished one in his life, yet he was probably also the nicest driver we had all week.

We arrived at the Blogger House and I met everyone staying there. It was a really fun evening and we had some wonderful people come by and join us for the BBQ. There were some great conversations and awesome food. It came to an end though and soon it was time for bed. I had the luxurious bed seen above for that night (I then took the couch the rest of the nights- except Saturday when I had a real bed- which was much better).

Wednesday morning came way too soon. We arrived early and while we waited for the conference to open at 9am, we made a plan of action. When it opened, Susan and I stopped by a few booths to pick up some ARCs, then went to Lauren Kate's signing (I went to get my friend Meaghan a signed copy of Passion, the newest book in the Fallen quartet). Once that was done, we went to stand in line for Crossed by Ally Condie. I got a ticket from my good friend Linda and we waited for the signing to start; while in line, I also got to say hi to Elyse, who's a wonderful publicist friend of mine. Ally was excited to see me too and Elyse actually caught the moment on film.

After that, I rushed over to the autographing area to get signed copies of Undercurrent by Tricia Rayburn and The Beginning of After by Jennifer Castle. Tricia recognized me from ALA last year and we got to chat a tiny bit while she signed, which was really nice. I had also been hoping to get a signed copy of You are My Only by Beth Kephart but they closed off the line before I got there. I then went to get into the line for Graveminder by Melissa Marr because I had my own ARC with me since I wanted to review it soon and I was going to try to get a copy for my new friend Lynsey, who was staying at the Blogger House. The line was just way too long though and I had other signings to get to so I just decided to give Lynsey my ARC instead.

I went off to Wendy Delsol's signing for Frost, which I'm really excited about because I loved the first book Stork. Wendy was excited to meet me too because we've chatted a bit on Twitter. I then moved to Jocelyn Davies' signing and unfortunately, there was a limited supply of books. I had gotten behind the cut-off and just planned on saying hi to Jocelyn since I knew her, but this lady in front of the last person gave up her spot for me. I refused for a couple minutes because I felt bad. I'm a blogger and can get the book some other way but she was not letting up so I took the spot and thanked her profusely. She wasn't all that into A Beautiful Dark but really wanted the book being signed after, Beautiful Days (Book 2 in Bright Young Things series) so she started a line for that. Jocelyn was really sweet and I'm glad I got to see her again; I got introduced to her last year as Michele Jaffe's editor for Rosebush and she sent me an ARC of it after Michele prodded her to.

While I was waiting in Jocelyn's line, I had noticed that Amy Garvey's line one over was empty. They'd run out of copies to sign but I had grabbed one earlier in the day so I stopped by and had her sign it. Then it was off to Macmillan for a signing of The Fox Inheritance by Mary Pearson, which I was so excited to get because I loved Adoration of Jenna Fox. The line was way longer than I expected but it went by kinda fast. After that, I got some lunch out in the Javits lobby and ate alone; the chicken tenders and fries were really good. It was nice to get some sustenance and fuel for the rest of the day.

After eating, I went back onto the floor and got in line for Candace Cameron Bure (DJ from Full House), who was signing her book Reshaping It All. I got it for my roommate who was really excited for it. I had my name put on the personalization sticky because I was so used to saying my name but luckily, I caught myself before getting up to the front and crossed my name out and put my roomie's on the note. Candace was really nice and I was happy to have met her. The American Girl booth was next up on the signing list. Lisa Yee was signing her Kanani books and I've loved some of her previous books so wanted to go meet her. While I was in line, I chatted a bit with a fellow blogger and it was really fun. That's one of the best things about BEA- chatting with other book lovers. Anyway, I was really surprised that Lisa recognized me because it had been a while since we'd talked so that was sweet. We chatted for a few minutes and she was really nice. I also got to see the famous Peepy! I was too starstruck to say something to Peepy but I was able to get a photo of her from afar.

Once I finished there, I went and saw Lisa Desrochers who was so nice. I actually didn't realize that you needed a ticket to see her so I just kinda wandered up to the table and stood there expectantly until a person there was like "Do you have a ticket?" and I said no. So I got one and then got into the line, which took forever and I was wondering why I couldn't just go see Lisa while the people ahead of me went to the adult romance author also signing. But I got up to her and we chatted, and got a picture, then I saw her again (with Lynsey) while waiting in line for The Future of Us by Jay Asher and Carolyn Mackler galley giveaway at Penguin. I got the book then went to stand in line for the Glow by Amy Kathleen Ryan galley giveaway at Macmillan (right across the row from Penguin) with Alex and his friend Erica. I did also stop by Bloomsbury next to Macmillan and get a copy of After Obsession and also tried for Jackie Dolamore's upcoming book but they had run out sadly. While there, I also got to chat with a publicist I've worked with before, Kate, so it was fun to meet her in person. We all grabbed our copies of Glow, and then I went to Marie Lu's signing of Legend, which I'm really excited about. The final thing on the agenda was getting in line for a Beautiful Creatures t-shirt which I'm really excited to have. I'll take a picture or wear it in a vlog sometime soon so you can all see.

Alright, so this is WAY too long so Wednesday evening will have to wait.

Saturday, May 28, 2011

BFF Breakup by Taylor Morris

BFF Breakup by Taylor Morris
"Best friends forever? Well...

Brooke and Madeline have been best friends since they first met. Nothing could possibly change that, right?

Except maybe middle school. As Brooke and Madeline encounter new challenges, suddenly their friendship isn't looking so solid. And when the cracks in their relationship become chasms, they must decide if there's anything worth salvaging--or if their dreams of "best friends forever" were mere fantasy."- summary from Taylor's website

I love Taylor Morris' books and this most recent one is no different. She really nails the middle-grade voice and the situations that arise at that crucial moment when you start junior high and things start to change. The book is told in alternating perspectives and it was nice to see both sides of the friendship breakup.

Morris also throws in the divorce issue and how it affects everyone involved, especially the children. It's handled really well and realistically and I think it can help tweens going through that.

Navigating the friendship waters at a new school is hard and Morris really did a good job making that come to life. Brooke and Madeline are wonderful characters, and the friend groups they fall in with as they drift apart are written well too. It was fun spending time in this world and the book just flew by.

The only thing that confused me was the timeline. The first three chapters are marked "After" and then the rest of the book is "Before" and the ending doesn't seem to go with the "After" chapters. Maybe I just missed something and am the only one not understanding it, but it bothered me a tiny bit.

Overall, I absolutely loved this new book from Morris and if you're looking for a fun middle-grade book, this is it. And be sure to check out Morris' other MG books too!

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

Friday, May 27, 2011

Dead Is... series Books 3-5 by Marlene Perez

Dead is So Last Year by Marlene Perez
"Something very strange starts happening in Nightshade the summer that the eldest Giordano sister, Rose, gets a job working at Dr. Franken's research laboratory. People are starting to see double. Doppelgängers of Nightshade residents are popping up all over town. Daisy, Rose and Poppy think it's a coincidence, until the rumors start that their father, who disappeared several years ago, has been spotted in town. Meanwhile, Daisy's beau, Ryan is spending all of his time training for football, and like the other guys on the team, he's grown enormous almost overnight. Samantha Devereux's boyfriend's neck has doubled in size since school ended. Could the football players be resorting to extreme measures to win? Between summer jobs, sugar rushes, and beach parties, the Giordano girls get to the bottom of these mysteries and more."

Dead is Just a Rumor by Marlene Perez
"As the creepy little town of Nightshade prepares to celebrate its 200th anniversary—on Halloween, of course—many of its paranormal residents are receiving mysterious blackmail letters. Psychic teen Daisy Giordano and her sisters set out to find out who is behind the threats. But launching an investigation isn’t easy for Daisy with her overprotective father watching her every move. Though she’s is happy to have him back after the years he spent being held captive by an anti-paranormal group called the Scourge, Dad is having difficult time adjusting to home life—and the fact that his little girl is now a senior in high school. He even disapproves of Daisy’s boyfriend, Ryan. Can their relationship take the strain?

And Daisy’s got even more on her plate: A talented amateur chef, she has won cooking lessons with celebrity chef Circe Silvertongue. After nosing around (with a little help from Circe’s pet pig), Daisy begins to suspect the temperamental chef’s secrets aren’t only in her ingredients. . . ."

Dead is Not an Option by Marlene Perez
"It’s springtime of senior year, and psychic sleuth Daisy Giordano is preparing to say goodbye to Nightshade High. But no college acceptance letters have arrived yet, and she’s beginning to worry about where she’ll end up come fall—and if it will be anywhere near her boyfriend, Ryan. But that’s not the only uncertainty Daisy’s dealing with. There’s a vamps-versus-shifters war going on in Nightshade, and things are so tense that there is talk of canceling the prom. The conflict is carrying over to the Giordano home, since Rose and Daisy are both dating werewolves and Poppy’s new boyfriend is a vampire.

Can the paranormal community in Nightshade finally find peace? And will Daisy and her friends survive graduation?"- all summaries from Amazon

I absolutely love these books. They're fun, quick, paranormal reads that are just really interesting. I enjoy how Perez crafts this world and includes so many different paranormal creatures. The stories as well as the characters are really engaging.

Daisy is a wonderful character and I love her romance with Ryan. She's a great sleuth and following along on her mysteries is a lot of fun. All the other characters are great too and it's just a good time coming back into the town of Nightshade with every book.

I don't really know what else to say about these books. I know it's a short review, but if you're looking for some funny, quick paranormal reads, these are for you.

FTC: Received 3rd book from publisher, 4th book from BEA, and 5th book from NetGalley. Links above are Amazon Associate links; any profit goes toward funding contests.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Between Here and Forever by Elizabeth Scott

Between Here and Forever by Elizabeth Scott
"Abby accepted that she can't measure up to her beautiful, magnetic sister Tess a long time ago, and knows exactly what she is: Second best. Invisible.

Until the accident.

Now Tess is in a coma, and Abby's life is on hold. It may have been hard living with Tess, but it's nothing compared to living without her.

She's got a plan to bring Tess back though, involving the gorgeous and mysterious Eli, but then Abby learns something about Tess, something that was always there, but that she'd never seen.

Abby is about to find out that truth isn't always what you think it is, and that life holds more than she ever thought it could..."- summary from Amazon

I've read a couple reviews already and I think this book may not be for everyone. Some people are saying that no one can hate themselves as much as Abby hates herself, and I would tend to agree, BUT thinking about it more, I think that there are people who do hate themselves this much. It's why suicides happen, depression, etc. Scott does a wonderful job of presenting Abby in a realistic light and so that you understand her self-hatred. I mean, why are the people in her town still focusing on Tess three years after the accident? If she wakes up, you will know. There's no need to badger the little sister and be like "Isn't Tess so amazing?" It just doesn't help.

This book flows really well, as do most of Scott's novels. Her prose is just so sparse and compelling that the pages fly by. I also really liked the revealed secrets toward the end of the novel and didn't see them coming but it did make sense. I also really liked the romance and interaction between Abby and Eli; Scott really has a way of writing good teen romance.

Overall, this is just another great book from Elizabeth Scott, though readers may need to up their empathy before reading.

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

Monday, May 23, 2011

Book Giveaway- The Secret Year by Jennifer R. Hubbard

In celebration of the paperback release of The Secret Year by Jennifer R. Hubbard, the author has decided to give away a copy to one of my readers! Here's a little information about the book:

"Colt and Julia were secretly together for a year, and no one ever knew, not even Julia's boyfriend. Why would they-they were from two different crowds. Julia lived in her country club world and Colt . . . didn't. Then Julia dies in a car accident. Colt is devastated but can't mourn openly, and he's tormented that he may have played a part in her death. And when Julia's journal ends up in his hands, he is forced to relive their year together-just when he is trying to forget. The problem is, how do you get over someone who was never really yours to begin with?"- summary from Amazon

You can also read my review of it here. To enter, all you have to do is leave a comment on this post! The contest is only open to US and Canada. It will end on Monday, May 30 at 9pm EST. Good luck to all!

Sunday, May 22, 2011

In My Mailbox- Week of May 15 + Retrospective

I did a vlog this week and unfortunately, there won't be one next week as I'll be coming back from BEA. In regards to posts this week, I will have some and hopefully I'll be able to do one or two from Casa de Blogger. Be sure to check out our Twitter for all the fun goings-on.

Books Shown:

TTYL by Lauren Myracle
Displacement by Thalia Chaltas
Crush Control by Jennifer Jabaley
As I Wake by Elizabeth Scott
All You Desire by Kirsten Miller
Following Christopher Creed by Carol Plum-Ucci
Pregnant Pause by Han Nolan
Blood Wounds by Susan Beth Pfeffer
Wisdom's Kiss by Catherine Gilbert Murdock

Not Shown: All These Things I've Done by Gabrielle Zevin (plus chocolate covered espresso beans) and My Life Undecided by Jessica Brody

and here's my retrospective:

Sunday- I reviewed Mercy by Rebecca Lim, which is now out in stores.

Monday- I did a recap of Lauren Myracle's book signing that I went to.

Tuesday- I interviewed Lauren Myracle, whose most recent book Shine is out.

Wednesday- I participated in a blog tour for Tempest Rising by Tracey Deebs, where I reviewed the book and interviewed the author.

Thursday- I posted my plans for BEA this coming week. If you're around, keep an eye out for me and say hi!

Friday- I interviewed Holly Schindler, whose most recent book Playing Hurt is out in stores now.

Saturday- I reviewed What Happened to Goodbye by Sarah Dessen, which is out in stores now.

Saturday, May 21, 2011

What Happened to Goodbye by Sarah Dessen

What Happened to Goodbye by Sarah Dessen
"Who is the real McLean?

Since her parents' bitter divorce, McLean and her dad, a restaurant consultant, have been on the move-four towns in two years. Estranged from her mother and her mother's new family, McLean has followed her dad in leaving the unhappy past behind. And each new place gives her a chance to try out a new persona: from cheerleader to drama diva. But now, for the first time, McLean discovers a desire to stay in one place and just be herself, whoever that is. Perhaps Dave, the guy next door, can help her find out."- summary from Amazon

Dessen is such a wonderful writer and this new novel is just so good. I absolutely loved it and found it hard to put down, much like her other books. McLean is a fantastic main character and I thought it was really interesting how she reinvented herself in the other towns. We only get to hear about them though rather than see them- all the action occurs in Lakeview where she begins to become just herself again rather than some character.

Dave is a really fun love interest, though I don't know if he'll be as memorable as some of Dessen's other love interests. I loved reading the scenes between him and McLean- they were funny, insightful, and real.

The backdrop of the restaurant was interesting too, as well as McLean's dad's consulting job. All of that was cool to read about, and Dessen got some great characters out of the restaurant workers too. We also got a small trip back to Colby, where Along for the Ride took place, and there's an appearance by a character from that book, which was fun to see.

Overall, I really enjoyed this book and I know Dessen fans will as well. Her books just flow so well and I liken them to Meg Cabot's books- when you read them, you fall into this really cool familiarity and it's just a fun time. I can't wait for her next book.

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

Friday, May 20, 2011

Blog Tour- Interview with Holly Schindler

1) Art is such a huge component in A BLUE SO DARK. How did that come about? Are you into art, either practicing it or studying it?

Youbetcha. I took a ton of art courses in high school. I also worked some of the all-school art exhibits. I just loved being around it…Once I got into college, I was less into art and more into my lit courses—and music. I played in a few garage bands, and spent a lot of time hauling my guitar across campus, along with my books.

I’ve always been really interested in creativity—where does it come from? What’s the source? That curiosity was what led me to write about creativity—and its possible link to mental illness—in A BLUE SO DARK.

2) Your bio talks about giving guitar and piano lessons to help pay the bills. How did you get involved with these instruments, and did you enjoy being a teacher to your students? Do you have any particular anecdote that sticks out in your mind from those teaching days as memorable or humorous?

I took piano lessons as a little girl, and guitar lessons as a high schooler. My teachers were complete polar opposites: my piano instructor was the wife of a minister who had played the organ in her church, and my guitar teacher was a rock guitarist who often played with the Ozark Mountain Daredevils.

My students were as different as my teachers—I had kids who got dragged to lessons by their mothers; shy kids; kids who liked to talk, jabbering on about their days instead of playing their lesson…

I was drafting only adult work when I first started seeking a publishing deal. Interacting with my teen and tween-aged students inspired me to try my hand at YA!

3) What was The Call / The Email like? Where were you when it happened? Did you go out and celebrate? Tell us all about it!

I sold A BLUE SO DARK myself, to Flux, in January of ’09. In all honesty, it didn’t happen at once, in a “Congratulations!” type of call. I got a call from the acquisitions editor around Thanksgiving of ’08…After we spoke, I knew the book was going to an acquisitions meeting…After the meeting, my editor had to get numbers from the sales department so he’d know what he could offer me…but that got delayed by the holidays…Basically, over the Christmas holiday, I knew an offer was supposed to be coming…But I’d had so many deals fall through, instead of being excited, I was really terrified.

The email offer did come from Flux in January, just days before my birthday—so it was a fantastic present! When I celebrated my birthday, I also celebrated the deal…

4) Now that A BLUE SO DARK has been out for a while and PLAYING HURT has been released, how does it feel to have two books out on the market for people to read? Has the feedback from both novels surprised you in any way?

First of all, it feels INCREDIBLE to have two books out on bookstore shelves!

One thing that’s been really interesting about blog reviews, though, is how all over the place they are…You know, when I was seeking publication, the response from editors or agents would vary slightly, but would point in the same general direction. After I’d received a few rejections, I knew what I needed to do to revise.

Blog reviews, though? There’s no consensus. Period. None. What one person likes and connects with, another person doesn’t get at all. But the cool thing about it is that there’s a yin to every yang. You really get a chance to see how different we all are, when you read a few reviews of your book.

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

I’m now drafting an adult novel…but have a middle grade novel in development at Dial. The MG—my first!—doesn’t yet have an official title or artwork. But this WILL be the first book I’ll ever write that will feature original artwork. I can’t WAIT to see it.

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

I really like red hot candies…(Especially like the apples Mom cooks in the fall with red hots)…I do like the Jelly Belly that tastes a bit like red hots…I think it’s the cinnamon jelly bean?

(My all-time favorite writing snack, though? Donuts. Huge donut fan…)

Holly can be found at her website, blog, and twitter and she's also part of two group blogs- YA Outside the Lines and Smack Dab in the Middle. Be sure to check out Playing Hurt, which is out in stores now! Read about it here:

Star basketball player Chelsea “Nitro” Keyes had the promise of a full ride to college—and everyone’s admiration in her hometown. But everything changed senior year, when she took a horrible fall during a game. Now a metal plate holds her together and she feels like a stranger in her own family.

As a graduation present, Chelsea’s dad springs for a three-week summer “boot camp” program at a northern Minnesota lake resort. There, she’s immediately drawn to her trainer, Clint, a nineteen-year-old ex-hockey player who’s haunted by his own traumatic past. As they grow close, Chelsea is torn between her feelings for Clint and her loyalty to her devoted boyfriend back home. Will an unexpected romance just end up causing Chelsea and Clint more pain—or finally heal their heartbreak?

Thursday, May 19, 2011

My BEA Plans

So I am going to BEA next week and am so excited, especially because I will be sharing a house for the week with all these lovely people!

Susan: http://www.wastepaperprose.com/
Stacey & Amber/Pixie: http://www.pageturnersblog.com/
Cindy & Kendra: http://www.bookscompleteme.com
Tirzah: http://www.thecompulsivereader.com/
Yara: http://www.onceuponatwilight.com/
Katie B: www.katiesbookblog.com
Nancy: www.lushbudgetproduction.com
Linda: www.passive-agressiva.blogspot.com
Lynsey: www.narrativelyspeaking.com
Megan: http://amethystdaydreams.blogspot.com/
Christin: http://betweenthecoversblog.net
Andye & Amy: http://readingteen.net/
Emily: http://www.emilysreadingroom.com
Katie D: http://www.sophistikatied.com
Gabrielle: http://themodpodgebookshelf.blogspot.com
Heather: http://fireandicephoto.blogspot.com/

Because there's just so many of us and since we're all bloggers, we've created a Twitter account where you can check in on all the fun things we're doing. I also think we may be doing a live vlog event but I'm not sure if that's still happening. I do believe we will be doing vlogs every day talking about our experiences at BEA and in NYC- no idea where these will be posted but as soon as I know, I'll let you all know!

I also have some fun events planned during the week:

Tuesday- Blogger House BBQ
Thursday- This is Teen event featuring Meg Cabot, Maggie Stiefvater and Libba Bray at The Scholastic Store
Friday- Lady Gaga concert on Good Morning America (only a possibility right now)
Saturday- Books of Wonder event from 12-2 featuring Gail Carson Levine, Sarah Rees Brennan, Daniel Kirk, Bianca Turetsky, and Maurissa Guibord.

and then of course the three days at the actual BEA conference where I hope to meet tons of authors, bloggers, and publicists as well as grab some wonderful ARCs. I'm so excited for it.

Also, did you know Jane Lynch is going to be at BEA? I LOVE HER. She'll be there on Thursday doing a little talk and QnA then signing something. I'm not sure what she's signing because while she has a memoir coming out in September, there usually aren't ARCs of those. It'd be fun if they did a sampler though. I've got some friends joining me at that event so hopefully we can take action shots of us with Jane Lynch while she's signing.

Here are my top 5 authors and books to see and get:

Authors- Wendy Mass, Lisa Desrochers, Wendy Delsol, Maureen Johnson, and Micol Ostow
Books- Name of the Star by Maureen Johnson, Lola and the Boy Next Door by Stephanie Perkins, Pawnee: The Greatest Town in America by Leslie Knope, Witch Eyes by Scott Tracey, and Between the Sea and the Sky by Jaclyn Dolamore

Do you guys wanna know anything else about my BEA trip? Leave a comment and I'll answer it either there or update this post.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Blog Tour- Tempest Rising by Tracey Deebs Review + Interview

Tempest Rising by Tracy Deebs
"Tempest Maguire wants nothing more than to surf the killer waves near her California home; continue her steady relationship with her boyfriend, Mark; and take care of her brothers and surfer dad. But Tempest is half mermaid, and as her seventeenth birthday approaches, she will have to decide whether to remain on land or give herself to the ocean like her mother. The pull of the water becomes as insistent as her attraction to Kai, a gorgeous surfer whose uncanny abilities hint at an otherworldly identity as well. And when Tempest does finally give in to the water's temptation and enters a fantastical underwater world, she finds that a larger destiny awaits her-and that the entire ocean's future hangs in the balance."- summary from Amazon

I really enjoy reading about mermaids, so it's always nice to find a novel that uses them. This was such a compelling read and I loved how Deebs put together the mythology of it all as well as mixing it in with realistic emotions and situations. Tempest is a wonderful main character and her story was fun but also heart-wrenching to read at times. Her emotions regarding her mother's absence, becoming a mermaid, and so much more just made sense and Deebs did a great job with her voice.

The romance was very steamy but also handled realistically since Tempest already has a boyfriend. Kai was so great and I loved reading their scenes together. I also liked how Deebs brought in another mythological creature too. The world building was done very well.

Overall, this is just a wonderful book and a refreshing break from the abundance of other paranormal creatures. I also would like to use a lame pun now- it's fin-tastic! :D

1) How did you get the idea for Tempest Rising?

I love mermaids. Love, love, love mermaids. When I was very young (about three or so) my father brought home a VHS tape of Hans Christian Andersen’s version of The Little Mermaid (long before Disney made a version). Though it was really dark and ended with the little mermaid becoming sea foam instead of living HEA with her prince, I fell in love with the story the first time I saw it. From then on, I was all about mermaids. I watched the movie every day (and I mean every day) for three years. My mom swears to this day that she can recite the dialogue word for word. While I eventually outgrew my obsession with mermaids, when I sat down to write my first YA and was still undecided about what paranormal creature I wanted to tackle, my agent asked, “How do you feel about mermaids?” Instantly, I was right back where I started all those years ago and knew I wasn’t going to be happy writing about anything else.

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

I had actually missed my agent’s call earlier in the day and hadn’t called her back because it was late when I got home and I didn’t realize what it was she was calling about. She called back around nine-thirty (I love my agent) to tell me the good news and I was so excited that I spun in circles around my living room. Seriously. As for celebrating, my husband took me out for dinner and dancing. It was a blast. :)

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

Cinnamon and Green Apple. Yum!

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

I just finished Divergent (so, so good) and am about to start Bite Club (I love Rachel Caine!).

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

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Author Interview- Lauren Myracle

1) How did you get the idea for Shine?

Shine starts off with an act of hate and violence: a seventeen-year-old boy is found beaten and left for dead, tied to the gas pump of an isolated gas station, with the gasoline nozzle jammed into his mouth and duct-taped into place. This specific image has lived in my mind for a long time, because when my dad was young, a cousin of his died from swallowing gas and inhaling the fumes. This little boy was playing with older cousins, as I recall, and they told him to pretend to be a car and they would fill him with fuel. Awful, isn't it? And powerful, powerful enough to stick with me for all of these years. Somehow in that mysterious way of brains, the memory of my dad's cousin merged with an idea I'd been playing around involving a hate crime and its aftermath...and that's how Shine was born.

2) Shine is very different in tone from your previous books- how did you get into that mindset and was it difficult for you?

No, not difficult, exactly. I mean, it was difficult to write about the ugliness in the book--and there is a lot of ugliness. But I've always had a dark side and a light side. Most readers are simply more familiar with my lighter side.

3) You seem to be very tight-lipped about your upcoming projects because it seems like I never hear about your books until they arrive in stores. So I'd like to know what book(s) are you working on now? Can you tell us anything about them? *please let there be a sequel to Bliss coming up*

You make me laugh. I'm not tight-lipped--I'm just constantly overwhelmed, meaning I never have time to do all the Good Author things I should be doing, like blogging about upcoming projects! Right now I'm working on Oopsy-Daisy, the third of a series called The Flower Power Books. It's about fifth graders. There are no hate crimes in it. As for a sequel to Bliss? I'm already taking notes and writing it in my mind! Will I ever actually write it? I sure hope so. I sure WANT to. But first my editor has to ask me to! :)

4) You grew up in the South and it was quite a different world for gay people back in the 70s and 80s. Did you ever witness or hear about hate crimes against gay people? Were you ever taught anything regarding homosexuality, or was it swept under the rug (much like a lot of bad things in the town portrayed in Shine)?

I love the South. It is and always will be my "spiritual" home, although I live in Colorado now. But yes, the South has its challenges, and I most definitely was taught by some people in my life not to "talk ugly." That included not talking about things that made people uncomfortable. Homosexuality made a lot of people uncomfortable back then--and let's be honest, it makes certain people uncomfortable still--so it pretty much...never came up. But people grow, cultures grow, and life changes. I'm happy to report that my current Southern circle of friends and family are completely open and affirming when it comes to people of all races, social and economic statuses, and sexual/gender identification. (Well...for the most part...) :)

5) Your books are constantly challenged and banned, and I'm sure Shine is going to be no different (Editor's Note: The librarian who introduced Lauren at the event said the exact same thing, lol). How do you deal with the censorship? Has Shine received any flack yet?

Gee, thanks, Book Chic! Teasing. Who knows if it'll be challenged/banned? I'm hopeful that it won't be, because I see it simply as a book that deals honestly--and not in any sort of sensational way--with tough issues. As far as early responses to Shine go, readers have been pretty frickin' supportive. Almost all bloggers/reviewers have felt compelled to "warn" readers about its pulls-no-punches content, but that's cool. The only early review that really pissed me off was one in which a reader completely trashed the entire novel because, in her opinion, there is NO WAY a grown-up in this day and age would see a child in pain and do nothing about it. Um...denial much, lady friend? The incident she was talking about was a molestation scene, and I've actually had early readers email me to say, "Omigosh, this happened to me, and no one did ANYTHING." And that is heartbreaking, and needs to be cast out into the light, I think.

6) Since I've already asked you what your favorite Jelly Belly jelly bean flavor is (a resounding "pina colada!!!!!"), what's your favorite thing to snack on while writing, or as a reward for doing writing?

Oh, BC, I bet you know: Dr. Pepper, of course! And for a REALLY guilty pleasure? Oh gosh. I'm embarrassed to say. But, a microwaved Jimmy Dean sausage-and-biscuit.

7) What kind of research did you do to capture the atmosphere of a small, backwoods Southern town that's rife with poverty, drug use, and intolerance?

Oh, ya know, the usual. I grew up there, basically. :) My parents got divorced when I was four, so I split my childhood between life in Atlanta with my mom and life in a small mountain town with my dad. The drug use aspect of the novel I did NOT learn about through personal experience, however. For that, I talked to anyone and everyone I could who'd had experience with addiction, especially with meth. And what I learned is that meth is the devil...truly.

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

An ARC of Imaginary Girls by Nova Ren Suma and edited by the magnificent Julie Strauss-Gabel. So far I'm loving it. It's creepy in a psychological way--just my cup of arsenic-laced-tea!

Monday, May 16, 2011

Meandering Monday- Lauren Myracle book signing!

So last Thursday, I went to go see Lauren Myracle in person because she was in the area and we've been chatting on and off for about 3 years now (starting around the time How to Be Bad came out). I have loved Lauren and her books ever since I bought TTYL as a hardcover back in 2004/5 as a freshman in college. I was amazed that she told the story completely through instant messaging. So it was huge that a few years after that, I was exchanging emails with her and now finally, we've gotten to meet!

Side note: When I arrived at the library, the whole parking lot was metered (meaning there were meters you had to put a quarter or two into for three hours of parking). I had no change, but I came at JUST the right time. There's library employee parking there which is not metered (obviously) and there's a No Parking sign at each of those spots, but there's also a timeline. You can't park in those spots from 8am-6pm. I checked my cell phone and it was 5:58pm. JACKPOT! I went back to my car and parked in a non-metered spot. YAY! I BEAT THE SYSTEM!

I arrived at the event early and also hungry as there was nowhere really to eat around the area (like no McDs or Burger King- cheapie fast food). I found a chair to sit in at the library and read a bit before going to find the event. I was the first one there and was immediately asked if I knew anything about technology. The reason for this was because they couldn't get connected to the internet to show off the Shine trailer, which Lauren really wanted to show. Lauren actually also private messaged me on Twitter a few hours before the event and asked if I could bring a laptop or PC, but I was already on the road by then and couldn't access Twitter. The trailer was not shown, so Lauren urged people to go find it on Youtube after the event.

I read a bit more until the event started and as soon as Lauren got to the front, she saw me, pointed, and said "Are you James?" I said yes and she said hi then told everyone in the room to say hi to me, and then talked about my blog for a minute. I blushed and was also regretting not bringing my business cards (it turned out to be okay because no one asked me about my blog, lol). After that, she talked about the book, read a passage (then had her uncle (?) and aunt each read a passage; the aunt's passage had to stop early because Lauren had forgotten about some risque sentences in the middle of it- pages if you're curious, lol), and answered some questions from the audience. It was fairly well-attended, about 20 people or so.

During her talk and QnA, Lauren would occasionally ask me questions, like if I thought Shine had a hopeful ending (which it does). At one point, when talking about censorship and the things she gets complaints about, she said that there was a parent out there who had been upset and offended that tampons had been brought up in one of her books. Lauren then looked at me and asked "James, are you offended by tampons?" I laughed and said no, because who can be offended by tampons? What did they ever do to you? Then an older lady who was sitting a few chairs away from me asked "Does he even know what a tampon is?" We all laughed about that and I said that yes, I did know what a tampon was. My roommate/best friend is a girl, I have an older sister, and a lot of my friends over the years have been girls. It's hard to get away from that, lol.

About an hour after the event had started, the signing commenced. I was toward the end of the line because I wanted to spend some time chatting with Lauren but we didn't get to chat too much because there was still a couple people behind me and her escort was showing up in 15 minutes to pick her up. But we did get to hug, have a picture taken (thank you Lauren's aunt Pat!), and chat for a few minutes while she signed my TTYL hardcover (I would've brought Shine but I got sent a signed ARC from the publisher). Then I walked to my car and went home. It was an AWESOME evening! Lauren is a wonderful, funny speaker and I hope that next time we meet, we'll have more time to hang out and chat.

Be sure to come back tomorrow for an interview with Lauren!

Pic 1- Lauren and myself!
Pic 2- Lauren with her Uncle Jerry and Aunt Pat- isn't Lauren's dress so pretty?! I loved it.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Mercy by Rebecca Lim

Mercy by Rebecca Lim
"Mercy has lost herself. She can’t count how many times she’s “woken up” in a new body, and assumed a new life, only to move on again and again. During the day she survives in the human world on instinct and at night her dreams are haunted by him. Mercy’s heart would know him anywhere. But her memory refuses to cooperate.

But this time is different. When Mercy wakes up she meets Ryan, an eighteen year old reeling from the loss of his twin sister who was kidnapped two years ago. Everyone else has given up hope, but Ryan believes his sister is still alive. Using a power she doesn’t fully comprehend, Mercy realizes that Ryan is right. His sister is alive and together they can find her. For the first time since she can remember, Mercy has a purpose; she can help. So she doesn’t understand why the man in her dreams cautions her not to interfere. But as Ryan and Mercy come closer to solving the dark mystery of his sister’s disappearance, danger looms just one step behind.

Will Mercy be able to harness her true self and extraordinary power in time?"- summary from Amazon

This was an interesting read. It's different from other paranormal books that I've read and I'm really curious to see where it goes from here. I loved the emphasis too on the musical aspect because it seems like real life things seem to fall by the wayside in most paranormal books.

However, it was a book that took a while for me to get into. Not a whole lot happens for most of the book and then there's an action-packed last hundred pages. Because of this, I didn't really go through the book quickly; I didn't feel any compulsion to read on.

I enjoyed the way Lim presented her characters though and everyone acted pretty realistically. There was a good handle on teenage dynamics, particularly between girls who share a bit of a rivalry. I also liked Ryan- he's a good kid.

Overall, a slightly above average book that starts off a trilogy. I am eager for the next book but mainly because I want answers (and, ok, because I like Mercy too).

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

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Fresh New Voice of YA- The Sweetest Thing by Christina Mandelski

The Sweetest Thing by Christina Mandelski
"In the world of Sheridan Wells, life is perfect when she’s decorating a cake. Unfortunately, everything else is a complete mess: her mom ran off years ago, her dad is more interested in his restaurant, and the idea of a boyfriend is laughable.

But Sheridan is convinced finding her mom will solve all her problems—only her dad’s about to get a cooking show in New York, which means her dream of a perfect family will be dashed."- summary from Amazon

This was such a fun, compelling read. I loved the cake decorating angle, though it did make me REALLY want cakes whenever I would pick up the book, lol. Mandelski has written a wonderful debut filled with memorable characters, a realistic town setting, and a fascinating plot that mixes regular teen issues with the more rare issue of being in a reality show.

Sheridan was a great main character who is really realistic and flawed. Mandelski also changed some things up that I really enjoyed. There were a couple characters and situations that could have been total cliches, but I felt that she did a good job making them not so much of a cliche.

Overall, this is a great read and I think that fans of Sarah Dessen would really enjoy it. It's a great summer read.

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

Friday, May 13, 2011

FNV Excerpt Vlog + Fragment Friday- Moonglass by Jessi Kirby

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. I only participate once a month and host the Mr. Linky, but other bloggers and readers can make vlogs every Friday as part of it. Please put all your Fragment Friday links from the last few weeks in the Mr Linky below. Next month, the Fragment Friday date will be June 3.

Here it is: Fragment Friday again! The Mr. Linky is below the video. Can't wait to see everyone's fragments! Today, I'm reading from Moonglass by Jessi Kirby, which is out in stores now.

Hope you all enjoyed my fragment! Now link to yours!

Thursday, May 12, 2011

Fresh New Voice of YA- Interview with Christina Mandelski

1) How did you get the idea for The Sweetest Thing?

Honestly, the initial idea came from watching the TV show Ace of Cakes. My family loves that show and I’m so impressed by the cakes they make. They are truly works of art. I started to wonder what it would be like to be a teenager who had a talent for cake decorating. And that was the beginning of The Sweetest Thing.

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

When “the call” came from my agent I was in the chair at the hair salon. I had my phone in my lap (b/c I knew news was imminent) but turns out that salon was in the deadest of dead zones. When I left, a voicemail message popped up. It was my agent saying “Where are you? I’ve got news!” So although it came a little late, of course I was no less excited. And my family was thrilled too – we went out for a nice dinner and of course, there was cake!

3) I absolutely love cats and own quite a few. Your bio mentions your "half-housecat, half-cheetah named Spencer". With a description like that, I can tell there must be some fun stories. Can you share some with us?

Ah, Spencer. He’s typical – only wants attention when he’s good and ready, which is often during a pivotal point in my writing/revising. He’ll hop up on my desk, position himself between me and the monitor, and stare at me until I pet him. Really, though, writing can be quite lonely at times, so it’s nice to have a warm furry friend for random snuggling.

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

I’m a purist. Cherry, please. Unless they’re sour, and then I’ll eat almost any flavor!

5) You received a degree in Creative Writing but say it took you many years before sitting down to write a novel. What were you doing in the meantime? Any interesting jobs?

Right out of college I worked in the production department of a dental trade (back in the old days when everything was still laid out on paper with rubber cement). Let me just say, I’ve seen enough photos of bloody gums to last me a lifetime. A few years later, I got married and had two daughters, and they became my full time job. It was when they started preschool that I began to write seriously. Now they are in middle school and here I am, finally published!

6) What advice do you have for aspiring writers?

I try to encourage all people who are writers at heart to never give up. People will tell you the odds are not good, they’ll tell you discouraging things like you have more chance of getting struck by lightning than getting a book published. But I don’t buy that, and neither should you. I recently went to an SCBWI conference in Houston where one of the guest speakers was Ruth McNally Barnshaw, author/illustrator of the Ellie McDoodle series. She said something that I wrote down and underlined. She said, “If you do every part of the job well, you will sell a book.” In other words, it’s not an easy road -- practice, diligence, facing rejection and doing your homework are absolutely required. But it can happen. It does happen – it happened to me!

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

I’m in the middle of two. I’m almost finished with Ruta Sepetys’ Between Shades of Grey, which is a hard book to read, but poignant and beautifully written. And the other book is Amy Holder’s The Lipstick Laws – definitely lighter fare than Ruta’s, but still so engagingly written. These are two debut authors to watch out for! Right now I’m so busy planning the launch of The Sweetest Thing that I’m not reading as much as usual. But I’m planning to read all summer long (my tbr pile reaches up to the ceiling). I can’t wait!

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Fresh New Voice of YA- Moonglass by Jessi Kirby

Moonglass by Jessi Kirby
"When Anna was little, she and her mother used to search for sea glass, but since they looked at night, they called it moonglass. Now, ten years after her mother's mysterious death, her father is working as head lifeguard on the same beach where her mother grew up and her parents first met and fell in love.

Reluctant to get close to anyone (including her father) and not pleased about having to start at a new school, Anna begins to spend more time alone, running the length of the beach and wondering about who her mother really was. After meeting a lifeguard named Tyler, she slowly lets her guard down and together they start exploring the abandoned houses that dot the beach.

But when learning more about her mother's past leads to a painful discovery, Anna must reconcile her desire for solitude with ultimately accepting the love of her family and friends."- summary from Amazon

Kirby has a wonderful debut novel that's a great summer read with depth. Usually, summer reads mainly deal with a romance, but that's on the backburner here. The main plot is all about Anna coming to terms with her mother's death nine years ago and dealing with the pain she's been feeling.

There's such a great balance between light and dark in this book, which can be hard to do. I loved the beach setting and Kirby does an excellent job really making the reader feel like they're at the beach too. The prose is descriptive and flows so well.

I gotta say that while I loved Anna and Tyler, my favorite character would have to be Ashley. She was just so funny but could be pretty insightful too. Tyler isn't seen too much and I kinda wish there'd been more scenes with him, showing off the chemistry he and Anna have. I loved their scenes together and Tyler just sounds like such a great, hot guy. I want a hottie lifeguard now, lol.

Overall, a fantastic debut with a gorgeous cover. I urge everyone to put this on your summer wishlists!

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

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

FNV Excerpt Vlog- The Sweetest Thing by Christina Mandelski

Here's the first excerpt vlog of the week, where I read from The Sweetest Thing by Christina Mandelski, which is out in stores today!

Hope you all enjoyed it!! Fragment Friday is happening this Friday so get your links ready!!

Monday, May 9, 2011

Fresh New Voice of YA- Interview with Jessi Kirby

1)How did you get the idea for Moonglass?

It definitely didn’t come all at once. Ten years ago I worked as a lifeguard during my college summers, and that’s where the idea began. I had just read White Oleander by the insanely talented Janet Fitch, and was completely taken with her mother-daughter story. Back then, I only knew that was something I wanted to explore. Things didn’t totally come together until I moved to Crystal Cove a few years back. Once I got there, ideas for the story were all around me. Between the broken down cottages and early morning runs on the beach, and the sea glass washed up on the sand, I couldn’t help but be inspired.

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

It was intense! Moonglass ended up going to auction, so I was on and off the phone a lot that day with my agent, trying to figure out what to do and who to go with. My kids were completely stir-crazy, and my husband was at work, unreachable by phone. I had a huge decision to make, couldn’t talk to my best partner about it, and had two little people yelling at me for snacks and a trip to the park.

When I finally made the decision and called my agent to tell her I was going with my gut, I took a few deep breaths, snuck out to the back yard, and watched the ocean for a few minutes before I dialed.

3) You're part of the Elevensies group. How did you get involved with it, and how has the group helped you so far in preparing for your book launch?

I worked as an English teacher, then school librarian before this, so I’ve always tried to follow and keep up on great debuts. I loved so many of the Debutatntes’ and Tenners’ books, that as soon as I found out I was going to be published, I found and joined the Elevensies. They’re such a hugely supportive, knowledgeable group. It definitely helps to be able to ask questions you feel like maybe you should know the answer to but don’t, or compare experiences. We celebrate and commiserate together!

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

Pomegranate and Juicy Pear.

5) Before publishing Moonglass, you were an English teacher and then a librarian. What was your favorite and least favorite part about those jobs?

My most favorite part was always the kids! I loved my students and all their humor and personality. They’re what I miss the most. What I don’t miss—grading papers and contacting parents.

6) What advice do you have for aspiring writers?

Read, read, read. Everything you can—books in your genre, books outside your genre, books on craft, everything. You can’t be a good writer if you’re not a good reader first.

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

I’m just finishing up PLAYING HURT, by Holly Schindler—it’s fabulous, and am about to start POSSESSION by Elana Johnson, who is amazing and brilliant and funnier than hell.

Sunday, May 8, 2011

In My Mailbox- Week of May 1 + Retrospective

I have another vlog for you guys with some really awesome books featured. I apologize in advance for the shaky camera at points in the first few minutes. My stupid cat kept moving around on the bed. Normally, they just sit and do nothing, wondering why I'm talking, but this one (Pearl) kept wanting to move around and stuff. Le sigh.

Books Shown:

The Lucky Kind by Alyssa B. Sheinmel (Hardcover, May 2011)
Enthralled: Paranormal Diversions Edited by Melissa Marr and Kelley Armstrong (ARC, Sept. 2011)
Possess by Gretchen McNeil (ARC, Sept 2011)
Sweet Venom by Tera Lynn Childs (ARC, Oct 2011)
Vanish by Sophie Jordan (ARC, Sept 2011)
Frost by Marianna Baer (ARC, Sept 2011)
If You Ask Me (and Of Course You Won't) by Betty White (Hardcover from library, May 2011)
From This Moment On by Shania Twain (Hardcover from library, May 2011)

and here's my retrospective for the week:

Monday- I answered two questions about BEA that readers sent me. If you have any others, leave a comment on that post or email me (or, heck, you can even ask in comments on this post).

Tuesday- I reviewed Die for Me by Amy Plum, which is out in stores on May 10!

Wednesday- I posted an Ask Book Chic, where people ask me how I like my birthday cakes, what obstacles I've had to overcome, and something else I cannot remember.

Thursday- I reviewed Abandon by Meg Cabot, which is out in stores now. (Psst... I'm going to see Meg on the 26th in NYC at her This is Teen signing! Who else is going?)

Saturday- I reviewed So Much Closer by Susane Colasanti, which is out in stores now. (Psst again... I'm going to see Susane at the Teen Author Carnival on the 23rd! Anyone else going?)

Also, Lauren Myracle gave me a few tour dates she's got coming up this week (btw, I'm doing an interview with her that's going up later this month, so come back for that), so check it out!

May 11- 7:00pm B&N # 1955 Reading/Discussion/Signing
Mansell Crossings Shopping Center
Alpharetta, GA 30022
Phone: (770) 993-8340

May 12- 7:00pm Discussion/Signing
Bethesda Public Library
7400 Arlington Rd.
Bethesda, MD 20814
(This one is being sponsored by Politics and Prose, which is an AWESOME bookstore in DC! Also, I am going to this one, so if you're going, keep an eye out for me!)

May 13- 3:30pm In-store signing
Children’s Bookstore
737 Deepdene Road
Baltimore, MD 21210
PH: 410-532-2000

Saturday, May 7, 2011

So Much Closer by Susane Colasanti

So Much Closer by Susane Colasanti
"When Brooke's crush, Scott, moves from their suburban town to New York City, she decides to follow him there. Living with her formerly estranged dad and adapting to a new school are challenging, and things go from bad to worse when Brooke learns that Scott already has a girlfriend. But as she builds her new life, Brooke begins to discover a side of herself she never knew existed. And as she finds out, in the city that never sleeps, love can appear around any corner..."- summary from Amazon

It has been way too long since I've read a Susane Colasanti book (the last one I read was my first- Take Me There when it came out) and I've felt bad about it, but now even more so after having read this book because it was awesome. I have a feeling I'll be reading and reviewing Waiting for You and Something Like Fate soon.

Colasanti's writing just flows so well and I really enjoyed Brooke as a character. I also liked Colasanti's secondary characters too- they were fleshed out and fun to read about. I particularly liked John and his quirky nature.

I don't want to say much about the romance because I don't know if it's a spoiler or not, but I will say I felt that it was handled realistically. Colasanti really knows how to build romance up; this isn't one of those love-at-first-sight books that seem to be cropping up in the past couple years.

Colasanti really made New York feel like another character. I loved it when Brooke was going around the city on her own or with friends because it really felt like I was there. It was a great setting to choose and she used it to its full capacity.

Overall, I really enjoyed this book and flew through it quickly. Now I have to go read my copies of her other books!

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

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Abandon by Meg Cabot

Abandon by Meg Cabot
"Though she tries returning to the life she knew before the accident, Pierce can't help but feel at once a part of this world, and apart from it. Yet she's never alone . . . because someone is always watching her. Escape from the realm of the dead is impossible when someone there wants you back.

But now she's moved to a new town. Maybe at her new school, she can start fresh. Maybe she can stop feeling so afraid.

Only she can't. Because even here, he finds her. That's how desperately he wants her back. She knows he's no guardian angel, and his dark world isn't exactly heaven, yet she can't stay away . . . especially since he always appears when she least expects it, but exactly when she needs him most.

But if she lets herself fall any further, she may just find herself back in the one place she most fears: the Underworld."- summary from Amazon

I have been excited for this book and trilogy since it was first announced way back in the beginning of 2008. Cabot does her usual wonderful job of crafting memorable characters, a setting that's used like another character, and a captivating romance. Reading a Cabot book is like meeting up with an old friend- while the book is darker than her previous ones, you still see that Cabot style of writing that's made readers fall in love with her books time and time again.

However, I did have a problem. I know people have mentioned the flashbacks and being confused by the shifts, but I never had that problem. I always knew from the beginning what was flashback and what wasn't; usually, it was a whole chapter (almost a back and forth kind of thing, but never in the same page like I've seen some people say). My problem though was the pacing- I really felt like there was a lot of unnecessary scenes that could've been cut out and the story would've been fine. This book at least could've been shortened- I don't know what Cabot has up her sleeve for the next two books so I can't really say that it could've all been in one book yet.

Once the action really got going though in the last 100 pages, it was amazing. I was really surprised at the twist and may have even gasped a bit. I loved Pierce and John's romance; I know John is a death deity and all, but I still really grew to love him over the course of the book.

Overall, this is a pretty good Cabot book though it reads like the start of a trilogy (all set up, very little action) and I am quite excited to see where Cabot takes us in Book 2, which unfortunately we have to wait a year for.

PS Who else LOVES this cover? It's amazing! I can't wait to see what they do for Books 2 and 3!

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

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Ask Book Chic (23)

It's time for another round of Ask Book Chic. I had something similar earlier this week as part of my Meandering Monday post, and it was dedicated to questions about BEA. If you have any other questions about BEA, leave them in the comments on that post and I'll answer them in the next Meandering Monday on the 16th. Anyway, here we go:

Lauren M asks "What's the toughest obstacle you've ever had to overcome?"

Gosh, I don't even know because I've led a fairly easy life, which I'm extremely grateful for. I did grow up extremely shy and while I still am some level of shy, I'm not as shy as I used to be. Accepting my homosexuality was never a problem for me like I know it can be for many teens in the world. I actually talk a bit about it in my guest post that I did for Kristi of The Story Siren as part of her GLBT Lit Days last August. It also mentions how when I came out in college in 2005, my friends accepted me. So I think that may have been my toughest obstacle; even though they already pretty much knew and I knew they wouldn't disown me, there was still a part of me that was really worried. For no real reason. It was just irrational because I'd never really had a bad experience- no bullying or anything like that. But it is still a big thing to overcome even if you have a pretty good feeling everything will be fine.

Sysha asks "What is your favorite kind of cake?"

My roommate made me my favorite kind of cake on my birthday back in March. It's yellow cake with chocolate icing. Simple, but I love it!

Bunny Cates asks "Since I dont see one, I'll ask - if you will ever do a bookshelf tour??"

I did do one a while back, but it was just through pictures and not very well done, lol. I probably should do a video to show off everything. Let me clean up my room a bit, and I'll do a short vlog showing off what I got! I don't know when it'll go up since I have the rest of the month planned, but if there's a free Sunday coming up, I may post it along with my IMM that week, or maybe combine the two? We'll see. Also, I'm much more organized since the last bookshelf tour, lol. There's not as many books on the floor now!

Anyway, hope you guys enjoyed this! If you have any questions you'd like to ask, leave them in the comments and I'll answer them in a future Ask Book Chic. The questions can be about anything at all.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Die for Me by Amy Plum

Die for Me by Amy Plum
"In the City of Lights, two star-crossed lovers battle a fate that is destined to tear them apart again and again for eternity.

When Kate Mercier's parents die in a tragic car accident, she leaves her life--and memories--behind to live with her grandparents in Paris. For Kate, the only way to survive her pain is escaping into the world of books and Parisian art. Until she meets Vincent.

Mysterious, charming, and devastatingly handsome, Vincent threatens to melt the ice around Kate's guarded heart with just his smile. As she begins to fall in love with Vincent, Kate discovers that he's a revenant--an undead being whose fate forces him to sacrifice himself over and over again to save the lives of others. Vincent and those like him are bound in a centuries-old war against a group of evil revenants who exist only to murder and betray. Kate soon realizes that if she follows her heart, she may never be safe again."- summary from Amazon

Before reading this book, I'd heard a lot of good things about it, and tons of people (well, ok, three) told me on Twitter that it should be my next egalley to read, so I knew I must be getting into something special. And I was. I was immediately drawn in to Plum's prose and Kate's voice from the beginning and was always eager to read more.

I loved this take on a new paranormal (well, I haven't read any novels featuring them before this) and so it was really exciting to see where the story would go. The setting of Paris was great, and I also really enjoyed seeing the mythology of it all unravel as the novel went on. It was really interesting.

Kate was a great narrator and was just awesome. I also really liked pretty much everyone else too. And Vincent? OMG I WANT HIM. Like, seriously, I loved reading their scenes together- they were witty and romantic. I also felt the romance was handled fairly realistically.

Overall, this book was just fabulous- it was full of humor, action, and steamy romance. What more can you ask for? Other than the next book in the series... :P

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

Monday, May 2, 2011

Meandering Monday- BEA Questions

Thanks all of you for the wonderful comments about my business cards last week! At the end of the post, I asked if any of you had any questions about BEA and two of you did. Kristi of The Story Siren has done two posts so far about BEA, answering questions from her readers and I'd suggest you check it out: Part 1 and Part 2. Now let's get started:

Lauren M asks "I've heard the exhibit hall is usually packed with people, but is it so packed that you won't get an opportunity to talk to the people working a booth? Do you have any advice for putting yourself out there despite the loads of people?"

Yes, it is definitely packed with people and you have to learn to manuever through it all quickly. But there is definitely time to chat with people working a booth. Only the aisle itself is packed and usually there's a space around the booth or off the aisle itself where you can position yourself to chat with the people working or publicists you may already know.

It also depends on where the booths are located as well as the publisher itself- booths that are located further away from the entrance or even at the entrance are not as filled as the middle areas. There's also the Big Six publishers and those will be crowded, but I remember going to Flux or Sourcebooks and it was way less dense in those areas. It was a welcome relief. By mid-to-late afternoon though, people are leaving and so it's easier to talk to those people at the various booths.

In regards to putting yourself out there, put a brave face on and strike up a conversation if it's someone you don't know. Introduce yourself and your blog (or school or library or whatever)- business cards come in handy at this time because it gives them something tangible to remember you by- and just go with the flow. Kristi's said on her blog more than once- you're all there because you love books so you already have something in common, so don't worry too much. The people there are nice and friendly.

Wendy asks "Last year was my first time as well. I saw many people with those big huge bags full of ARCs. While I'm not going just to get a ton of free books, I might see a few I'd like. But I feel so awkward taking free stuff. Any advice on how to get over the awkwardness and acquire ARCs?"

You just have to do it. It's a little bit easier when they're just laying around in piles, but it can be hard to ask for an ARC. Some publishers just put out piles of books for the taking (like Beautiful Darkness, Nightshade, and some others), or will have a line where you can get an ARC (Penguin did this for Matched), or they will have ARCs hidden beneath their table or in a storage closet and you have to ask for them (Penguin did this with Grace by Elizabeth Scott; Random House, Bloomsbury and Flux do this in general). Usually, if they are hidden, there are display copies out so you know what they have. Also, the worst they can say is no, and then you thank them and move on (or they might take your business card and write down the ARC you want to send to you later, which is always nice).

OK, so I said at the beginning that you just have to do it, and that is one way. Just get brave and take what's there (if you want it, obviously, and that it's actually there to be taken- ask if you don't know!), or ask for an ARC you want if that's the policy. But I find what really helps is to have a buddy with you, and this is a bit of a general BEA/any big convention rule anyway.

At the past two conferences I've been to, I have had two buddies at various times- Meaghan and Susan. Now, Meaghan is a lot like myself- timid and scared to ask for/get things. You'd think that having two similar people together would be bad and nothing would ever get done, but what actually happens is you get to this point where you HAVE to gather the courage to do whatever it is you need to do. You get irritated at how much time you're wasting because you're so scared to ask an author for a photo, or ask for an ARC, or whatever, until you just do it. Meaghan and I are an awesome duo.

Susan is a take-charge kind of gal and has no qualms taking ARCs (that are for taking- she doesn't steal or anything) or going up and asking for them. Since we sometimes want the same things, I stick with her and she'll ask and then I'll pipe up and be like "Oh, and may I have one too?" (or sometimes I'll be quiet and the booth person will take pity and be like "Do you want this too?" and I will say yes). She is my hero and I love having her around.

So yeah, a buddy will help when it comes to snagging ARCs or even just approaching people at the booths. Plus, if something embarassing happens, you aren't alone! It'll probably turn out to be something funny later on.

I hope this helps at least a little bit and if anyone has any questions (or needs anything written today cleared up), just leave a comment or email me and I can answer it next week!

Sunday, May 1, 2011

In My Mailbox- Weeks of April 17 and 24 + Retrospective

I did another vlog for this week. Hope you all enjoy!!

Books Shown:

Tighter by Adele Griffin (ARC; May 2011)
Tempest Rising by Tracey Deebs (ARC; May 2011)
Flawless by Lara Chapman (ARC; May 2011)
Moonglass by Jessi Kirby (hardcover; May 2011)
Love Story by Jennifer Echols (signed ARC; July 2011)
Bitter End by Jennifer Brown (hardcover; May 2011)
Bossypants by Tina Fey (hardcover from library; April 2011)

and here's my retrospective:

Sunday- I did my Waiting on Wednesday early because I found an amazing book I wanted to share- Gone, Gone, Gone by Hannah Moskowitz!

Monday- I unveiled my new business cards that I'll be using at BEA as well as other bookish events! I also asked for questions you might have about BEA that I will answer in coming Mondays.

Wednesday- I reviewed The Dead-Tossed Waves + The Dark and Hollow Places by Carrie Ryan, which are both out in stores now!

Thursday- I reviewed Trauma Queen by Barbara Dee and Blowout by Taylor Morris, two middle-grade novels that are out in stores now!

Saturday- I reviewed family by Micol Ostow, which is out in stores now!

So yeah, a review-heavy week, lol. Next week, there'll be stuff aside from reviews, I promise!