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

Thursday, June 30, 2011

Blog Tour- Imaginary Girls by Nova Ren Suma

Imaginary Girls by Nova Ren Suma
"Chloe's older sister, Ruby, is the girl everyone looks to and longs for, who can't be captured or caged. When a night with Ruby's friends goes horribly wrong and Chloe discovers the dead body of her classmate London Hayes left floating in the reservoir, Chloe is sent away from town and away from Ruby.

But Ruby will do anything to get her sister back, and when Chloe returns to town two years later, deadly surprises await. As Chloe flirts with the truth that Ruby has hidden deeply away, the fragile line between life and death is redrawn by the complex bonds of sisterhood."- summary from Amazon

This was an intriguing book and really interesting to read. There isn't a whole lot of characterization with the secondary characters though. It's mainly about Chloe and Ruby and everything else is kinda background. Suma has a wonderful way of writing and it really compelled me through the book, which was a good thing because I absolutely hated the character Ruby who gets pretty much all the screentime.

It seems odd, I'm sure, to like a book yet hate one of the main characters especially when there are essentially only two of them. But it's true. Ruby was insane and creepy and almost everything she did made me hate her more. I know what she did was for Chloe and to bring her back, but it just came out creepy and she was so rude to everyone else (and even Chloe at times). She was manipulative. But the need to find out what exactly was going on prevailed and I finished the book. I enjoyed Suma's touch of magic in the book; it's really subtle and not all about it yet at the same time, it is all about it and just out there.

The book is mainly about the sisters' relationship and Suma nails the dynamic really well, considering these two characters' personalities. They spend a lot of time together and Chloe does a lot of reminiscing too, so the reader gets a peek into their past a bit. The ending is pretty perfect, though it's not a happily ever after. It's perfect though for this story.

Overall, a book to definitely check out, though be prepared to hate Ruby. This book is atmospheric, lyrical, mysterious, and has that touch of magic that makes it a compelling read.

and here's a guest post from Nova:

I’m here spilling secrets about my book Imaginary Girls. As the cover says, “Secrets never stay below the surface.” I guess not, because here’s another one bubbling up now…

Secret #9: I didn’t read YA novels as a teen, even though I write them now.

I wish I could share a list of the YA novels that spoke to me as a teenager and inspired me to write YA today. The truth is, I didn’t read YA novels when I was a teen. Early on in middle school, I quickly tore through many books in the Sweet Valley High series and the Flowers in the Attic series, but I just as quickly moved on to my mom’s bookshelf. So at thirteen and fourteen and beyond I was reading Margaret Atwood, Marge Piercy, Erica Jong, and other women novelists I grew to admire. I read pretty much anything in the house—including my stepfather’s Stephen King novels, and a book I found on my parents’ shelf that gave me nightmares, a psychological case study called Sybil—and then I discovered poetry, especially Anne Sexton. One book I did read when I was fourteen or so—and I read this one again and again and again—was the so-called anonymous diary Go Ask Alice, but I didn’t think of it as a novel. I thought it was all true.

It’s not that I was ignoring YA, it’s that when I was growing up, we didn’t have the books teens have today. If these novels had existed when I was a teenager, I know I would have connected with them: Beautiful by Amy Reed, Cracked Up to Be by Courtney Summers, Good Girls by Laura Ruby, Hold Still by Nina LaCour, Lessons from a Dead Girl by Jo Knowles, Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson, Story of a Girl by Sara Zarr, and more. I really wish I’d had them. Truth is, back then I could have used them.

So even though I didn’t read YA when I was a teen, I wonder if that’s why I gravitated toward writing it now, actually. It was something missing from my life—a huge, giant hole—and maybe it’s never too late to fill it.

Thanks, Nova! For more info on Nova, you can visit her website and also follow her on Twitter. Click here to read an excerpt from Imaginary Girls.

Now, Penguin has been kind enough to offer a signed copy of Imaginary Girls to a lucky reader. US residents only! All you have to do is leave a comment on this post by Friday, July 8 at 9pm EST.

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

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Ask Book Chic (24)

It's been a while but Ask Book Chic is finally back! Ask Book Chic is a semi-regular feature where I answer various questions from readers. Questions can be submitted on any of these posts at any time and they can be about anything. I'm an open book. Now let's get to today's wonderful questions!

WriterWannabeAishah asks "What's the weirdest thing that ever happened to you?"

Well, interesting things usually happen to me while on my way to book signings. I tend to have adventures even though I don't want one, lol. I'm pretty much a bystander yet all this stuff happens. You can read about them in previous book signing recaps. Aside from those, not much happens to me, though recently, I was leaving the public library and while on my way to my car, I saw this black woman kinda walking toward me but I didn't know her so I swiftly got in my car and tried to look busy on my phone. I didn't want to just peel out of there, you know? Unfortunately that didn't stop her so she knocked on my window and I rolled it down. She asked for any money I could give her because her ride's car had broken down and couldn't pick her up to go get her kids in Bedford (about a 30 minute drive from Lynchburg). Actually I think she also asked if I could give her a ride; obviously, I said no. I also had no cash or change on me because I never do as I use my credit card for everything.

So then she was like "I just have no money for a cab to get there and I'm worried about my kids. I really don't want to have to prostitute myself." Yes, she actually said that. There are phones everywhere; someone's bound to let you use it to call a friend who has a working car. Just because you have no money doesn't mean you automatically need to go to prostitution to get some. I apologized for her situation and that I hoped she would find a way home soon. And then I got out of there. It was just bizarre.

I've also been helped by a drunk homeless man in DC (I think he was drunk; maybe he was just homeless. I can't remember) when I couldn't figure out where a restaurant was and he asked me for change 4 times even though I'd told him I had none. It's like, no, I haven't suddenly brought change into existence in the minute between questions. Thank you for your help, but now go away.

Em asks "I want to know, if your cats were to read YA, what authors/titles would they most enjoy (this can be cat by cat if necessary) OR what YA authors/books are most symbolic of your feline friends?"

This was a hard question for me, lol. It's a really interesting one though. I'll probably go by genre because that's easiest. Samson loves to cuddle with us, is affectionate to his family, and is pretty carefree so I kinda see him reading a happy book, maybe a romance or just a funny book. Farley and Meeko are kinda mischievous and like to sneak around, so maybe like a spy book for them. Pearl's a bit special in the head so I don't see him making it past picture books, lol. Maya might want something like dystopian since she hates her family and can be a bit of a witch-with-a-b sometimes so she might enjoy reading something bleak, lol. Not sure about Khali though; maybe fun little romances too?

HayleyAG asks "My question is what advice you have for new bloggers on how they can generate more followers?"

Don't focus so much on getting followers. They will come eventually, but only if you keep producing good content. So just stick to some sort of schedule whether you post every day or maybe every other day or however you'd like to do it. Having consistency is a good thing.

Leaving good comments on other blogs is helpful too but don't just spam the comments section. If you have something to say, say it. If you don't, just move on. Through comments, both the blog owner and their readers can see what's being said and if what you say strikes a chord with them, they'll check out your blog and hopefully follow you. You can also tweet out the link to your posts and people can check it out that way too, but be sure to also use it for other things too so it isn't all just links.

In your own comments section, try and reply to people who leave comments on your blog. You don't have to do this all the time but engage yourself in the discussion if you think there's one there. Someone may leave a comment on one of your reviews with a different take on something you mentioned in your review. Perfect opportunity for a reply and to start a discussion.

You can also do contests and as an extra entry, have people follow your blog but I don't like doing that. It's just empty following most of the time just so they can get the extra entry and if they don't win (or maybe even if they do), you may never see them again. I haven't done that at all and I've got 644 followers; it's taken me 4 years to do that (in a sense; since I was on Myspace first then moved here, I had a built-in following already who just followed me over here). It's just a slow and steady rise and I appreciate everyone who follows me.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Trial by Fire by Jennifer Lynn Barnes

Trial by Fire by Jennifer Lynn Barnes
"There can only be one alpha.

Bryn is finally settling into her position as alpha of the Cedar Ridge Pack—or at least, her own version of what it means to be alpha when you’re a human leading a band of werewolves. Then she finds a teenage boy bleeding on her front porch. Before collapsing, he tells her his name is Lucas, he’s a Were, and Bryn’s protection is his only hope.

But Lucas isn’t part of Bryn’s pack, and she has no right to claim another alpha’s Were. With threats—old and new—looming, and danger closing in from all sides, Bryn will have to accept what her guardian Callum knew all along. To be alpha, she will have to give in to her own animal instincts and become less human. And, she’s going to have to do it alone."- summary from Amazon

Barnes has done it again- this series is fantastic and I just love it. The pages were really flying with this one; 6 hours after starting it (and with a couple long breaks), I was already 130 pages in. These characters and situations are just so compelling that, at times, the book is impossible to put down.

The story told within is so complicated and Barnes really has a good handle on the Pack Law for the werewolves in her world. I kept wondering how Bryn was going to get out of this mess because there's just obstacle after obstacle thrown in front of her and she has to figure out the right way to do it while staying within the confines of Pack Law. When it's all revealed, it was like "Woah." for me. Barnes is a spectacular storyteller, weaving together so many things and in the end, everything falls into place and makes sense. There are some really unexpected things happening throughout the book.

I loved revisiting these characters and I enjoy reading about all of them- flamboyant Devon, the romance between Bryn and Chase, fierce Lake, and all the rest. The relationships between them all are tested and you can see why they're so loyal to each other through their interactions. It's really wonderful characterization.

I could go on and on about this book but I'll stop here. If you haven't already started this series, do so! I'm excited to see where the characters go next in the third book out next summer. Also, an excerpt from Barnes' next book Every Other Day (out this Dec) was included in the ARC and I assume it'll be in the hardcover too. I read it and it sounds really interesting- all about demon hunting.

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

Monday, June 27, 2011

Forgotten by Cat Patrick review + contest

Forgotten by Cat Patrick
"What if every day when you woke up, you had no recollection of the days before?

Each night at precisely 4:33 am, while sixteen-year-old London Lane is asleep, her memory of that day is erased. In the morning, all she can “remember” are events from her future. London is used to relying on reminder notes and a trusted friend to get through the day, but things get complicated when a new boy at school enters the picture. Luke Henry is not someone you’d easily forget, but try as she might, London can’t find him in her memories of things to come.

When London starts experiencing disturbing flashbacks, or flash-forwards, as the case may be, she realizes it’s time to learn about the past she keeps forgetting – before it destroys her future."- summary from book

This book is such a quick read and I just flew through it. I had meant to read a chapter or two before bed but then ended up 50 pages in before stopping (and the chapters are fairly short). Patrick has a wonderfully fluid way of writing that really just pulls the reader along, even if nothing much is happening, which is the case for the first half of the novel. There are bits and pieces of mysterious things happening that pique the interest but for the most part, it's about London going to school and getting to know this new mysterious guy Luke.

The latter half of the novel is where London really takes hold of her life and is trying to figure everything out- why she loses her memory at 4:33 am every morning, what her mother is hiding from her, and what's going on with her and Luke. So this is where all the mysteries unravel. I will say that I guessed half of the reason why she lost her memory, which I'm quite proud of because that never happens to me. The other half was unexpected and was a really nice twist.

I loved all the characters and they were realistic, flawed and all that good stuff. I enjoyed reading about Luke and London's romance, which was filled with obstacles. The ending was amazing and Patrick left the reader in a really good place.

Overall, this is a really good, original book and you all should definitely check it out. The contest below will be a good place to start!

Thanks to Little, Brown and Chelsy at Big Honcho Media, I have two copies of Forgotten to give away! All you have to do is leave a comment on this post by Tuesday, July 5 at 9pm EST. US residents only! I will notify the winners shortly after by email, so if your email is not readily accessible, please include it in your comment.

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

Sunday, June 26, 2011

In My Mailbox- Week of June 19 + Retrospective

Here's another vlog and it's basically just In My Mailbox- Penguin Edition because the only books I got this week were from Penguin!

Books Shown:

Lola and the Boy Next Door by Stephanie Perkins (signed!!)
Away by Teri Hall
Stay with Me by Paul Griffin
The Name of the Star by Maureen Johnson
Shelter by Harlan Coben

All of these come out in Sept 2011 from Penguin.

and here's my retrospective:

Tuesday- I reviewed Hourglass by Myra McEntire, which is now out in stores!

Wednesday- I reviewed From Bad to Cursed by Katie Alender, which is now out in stores!

Thursday- I celebrated my 4th blogoversary and asked my readers to congratulate me and tell me examples of how awesome my blog and I are.

Friday- Cat Friday is back again and this time, I've got my cat Maya snuggling up with a book!

Saturday- I reviewed Beyond Lucky by Sarah Aronson, which will be out in stores June 30.

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Beyond Lucky by Sarah Aronson

Beyond Lucky by Sarah Aronson
"Ari Fish believes in two things: his hero-Wayne Timcoe, the greatest soccer goalie to ever come out of Somerset Valley-and luck. So when Ari finds a rare and valuable Wayne Timcoe trading card, he's sure his luck has changed for the better. Especially when he's picked to be the starting goalie on his team. But when the card is stolen-and his best friend and the new girl on the team accuse each other of taking it-suddenly Ari can't save a goal, everyone is fighting, and he doesn't know who, or what, to believe in.

Before the team falls apart, Ari must learn how to make his own luck, and figure out what it truly means to be a hero."- summary from Amazon

I loved Aronson's debut Head Case and was really looking forward to reading her follow-up. This is a complete 180 from her debut and I really enjoyed it. I wasn't quite pulled in from the beginning (perhaps because I'm not much of a sports fan) but as I got further into the story, I got invested in Ari and the other characters. Aronson's first foray into middle-grade fiction is spectacular; she really nails the voice, the emotions, and the situations that happen as kids grow up. Their interactions all felt realistic.

I really liked the presidential quotes at the beginning of each chapter. It was a nice little touch because Ari has a thing for the US presidents and knows a lot about them. He even includes them in his pre-game rituals. I also have to say that I teared up a bit toward the end of the book and that almost never happens.

I honestly don't know what else to say about this book. I think it's fantastic and that pre-teens (especially boys, of course) will really enjoy it. Definitely a book to check out!

FTC: Received ARC from author- thanks Sarah! Link above is an Amazon Associate link; any profit goes toward funding contests.

Friday, June 24, 2011

Cat Friday (15)

It's Cat Friday again! 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 meant to post one of these when I did my Tempest Rising blog tour post but forgot, so I'm showing them off now.

These were taken while my roommate and I were having dinner and Maya was laying down nearby. She thought the book made for a comfy pillow, I guess. Hope you guys enjoyed the pics!

Thursday, June 23, 2011

4th Blogoversary Post!

For the past 3 blogoversaries, I ran contests and guest posts and had a huge celebration. Unfortunately, by now, I have WAY too many books to review to take off a week to celebrate my blogoversary. So I'm just doing a simple post and you all can comment to congratulate me or write something nice about me (I do like hearing nice things).

I am surprised that I'm already at my 4th Blogoversary. It seriously feels like just yesterday that I started the blog on Myspace. It surprises me to already see authors like Lisa McMann with their 4th book released and a 5th coming out in a few months. In the summer of 2007 when I started, Lisa was just starting the buzz for her debut Wake. It does not feel like 4 years ago.

I have had a wonderful time running this blog and getting to know other bloggers, my readers, authors, and publishing professionals. I love this community so much and I'm thrilled to be a part of it.

A fun surprise I got this month came from Khy of Frenetic Reader who told me that I had a blurb on the back of Forever Summer by Alyson Noel, a recent bind-up of her books Laguna Cove and Cruel Summer. Not only that, but the blurb is on Amazon as well! I was so happy to hear about that and I thank the publisher for choosing my review!

Thank you all for reading my blog and supporting me over these past four years! I really appreciate every follower I have, every comment I receive, every review copy I get, and every friend I've made. Please leave a comment telling me how awesome my blog and I are! :D

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

From Bad to Cursed by Katie Alender

From Bad to Cursed by Katie Alender
"Alexis is the last girl you'd expect to sell her soul. She already has everything she needs—an adorable boyfriend, the perfect best friend, and a little sister who’s finally recovering after being possessed by an evil spirit.

Alexis is thrilled when her sister joins a club: new friends are just what Kasey needs. It’s strange, though, to see how fast the girls in the Sunshine Club go from dorky and antisocial to gorgeous and popular. Then Alexis learns that the girls have pledged an oath to a seemingly benevolent spirit named Aralt. Worried that Kasey’s in over her head again, Alexis and her best friend, Megan, decide to investigate by joining the club themselves. Soon, Alexis trades in her pink hair and punky clothes for a mainstream look, and finds herself reveling in her newfound elegance and success.

The club’s connection with Aralt seems harmless, and before long, Alexis can hardly remember why she joined in the first place.Surely it wasn’t to destroy Aralt. . . . Why would she hurt someone who has given her so much, and asked for so little in return?"- summary from Amazon

OMG THIS BOOK IS CREEPY! I really enjoyed the first book in the series and this follow-up really brought the creepy. It just builds slowly over the course of the book and really gets under your skin. It's not pop-out scary but rather psychologically scary and Alender does a really good job with it.

Catching up with the characters from the first book was really nice. Before the creepiness starts, the reader is reintroduced to everybody and there's some great humor between the characters. Their interactions are really fun and realistic.

I also enjoyed how Alender built the origins of Aralt and had the characters do their research. It was interesting to find out everything along with them. The ending was unexpected and action-packed and I just loved it.

Overall, a fantastic sequel and I can't wait to read the third book in the series!

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

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Hourglass by Myra McEntire

Hourglass by Myra McEntire
"One hour to rewrite the past . . .

For seventeen-year-old Emerson Cole, life is about seeing what isn't there: swooning Southern Belles; soldiers long forgotten; a haunting jazz trio that vanishes in an instant. Plagued by phantoms since her parents' death, she just wants the apparitions to stop so she can be normal. She's tried everything, but the visions keep coming back.So when her well-meaning brother brings in a consultant from a secretive organization called the Hourglass, Emerson's willing to try one last cure. But meeting Michael Weaver may not only change her future, it may change her past.

Who is this dark, mysterious, sympathetic guy, barely older than Emerson herself, who seems to believe every crazy word she says? Why does an electric charge seem to run through the room whenever he's around? And why is he so insistent that he needs her help to prevent a death that never should have happened?"- summary from Amazon

Is there any way I could just tell everyone to go get this book right away and be done with the review? No? I have to explain myself, you say? This is a review site not a yay or nay site? OK fine, if you insist.

This book is amazing and so hard to believe it's a debut. It's a riveting supernatural story filled with humor, steamy romance, and roller coaster twists and turns. McEntire kept the pages turning and I loved reading Em's story. The characters are all wonderful and their interactions felt very realistic.

I liked the time-travel aspect of it and the explanation of it was really cool. I also liked that there were other characters with special abilities. It's a nice way to expand on the world McEntire has built. There aren't just time-travelers here; there's a whole bevy of individuals with powers.

Although one thing I didn't like was that while the ending did solve some problems, there's still some issues left unresolved. For some reason (and I'm not entirely sure why as I added the sequel to my GoodReads a week before finishing the book), I thought it was a standalone book, so I was expecting a resolved ending. I was actually quite excited for a standalone too since everything is a series these days. So that bothered me but it's not a huge deal.

Overall, this is a fantastic debut and I urge everyone to go get a copy of this book now!

FTC: Received ARC from Jennifer at Goodman Media (third party publicist). Link above is an Amazon Associate link; any profit goes toward funding contests.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

In My Mailbox- Week of June 12 + Retrospective

Tons of great books this week so of course I have a vlog!! Hope you all enjoy it!

Books Shown:

The Girl of Fire and Thorns by Rae Carson (Sept 2011; Greenwillow)
Floors by Patrick Carman (Sept 2011; Scholastic)
The McCloud School for Wayward Girls by Wendy Delsol (Aug 2011; Berkeley)
Circle Nine by Anne Heltzel (Sept 2011; Candlewick)
A Beautiful Dark by Jocelyn Davies (Sept 2011; HarperTeen- 2nd copy; not shown)
Deadly Cool by Gemma Halliday (Oct 2011; HarperTeen)
Don't Breathe A Word by Holly Cupala (Oct 2011; HarperTeen)
Fateful by Claudia Gray (Sept 2011; HarperTeen)
How to Save a Life by Sara Zarr (Oct 2011; Little, Brown)
Darkness Falls by Cate Tiernan (Sept 2011; Little, Brown)
Overbite by Meg Cabot (July 2011; William Morrow)
Blood Red Road by Moira Young (June 2011; Simon & Schuster)
In the Forests of the Night by Kersten Hamilton (Nov 2011; Houghton Mifflin Harcourt)

Thanks to Marisa and Michael at HarperTeen, Scholastic, Wendy Delsol, Candlewick, Faye at Little Brown, Pam at William Morrow, Simon and Schuster, and Cindy!

and here's my retrospective for the week-

Monday- I reviewed and hosted a giveaway for Cut: The 10th Anniversary Edition by Patricia McCormick. Contest ends June 20 at 9pm EST so go leave a comment!

Tuesday- I reviewed The Day Before by Lisa Schroeder, which will be out in stores June 28.

Wednesday- I chose Enshadowed by Kelly Creagh for my Waiting on Wednesday post.

Thursday- I reviewed Ten Things We Did (and Probably Shouldn't Have) by Sarah Mlynowski, which is out in stores now.

Friday- I posted a cute picture of my cat Meeko for Cat Friday.

Saturday- I reviewed Displacement by Thalia Chaltas, which is out in stores now.

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Displacement by Thalia Chaltas

Displacement by Thalia Chaltas
"Home is supposed to be a place you belong. It's supposed to be parents who are there and siblings who bug you and a life that feels comfortable. It's not supposed to be an absentee mother or a drowned sister. But that's Vera's reality, and she can't stand it anymore. So she runs. She ends up in an old mining town in the middle of the California desert. It's hot, it's dusty, and it's as isolated as Vera feels. As she goes about setting up her life, she also unwittingly starts the process of healing and-eventually- figuring out what home might really mean for her."- summary from Amazon

I loved Chaltas' debut Because I Am Furniture (and I urge you all to read it), so I was excited to read her follow-up. While I did enjoy it, I didn't feel the same connection that I did with her debut. The verse is beautiful and lyrical and really tells a good story but Vera just didn't connect with me.

Chaltas did a good job with the very small town setting and it felt very isolated and desert-like. I could feel that through the words she chose. The characters found in it too felt real and I liked reading Vera's interactions with them.

The ending was really nice and there's some definite closure and the healing process has begun for Vera. Nothing is completely finished but rather, it's just starting. It was a good way to end the book.

Overall, it is a good book and a quick read, but there was just something missing for me while I was reading it. I never connected with Vera though so I didn't have too much of an emotional investment in her character. I think maybe there should have been more development on her to make the character feel more real.

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

Friday, June 17, 2011

Cat Friday (14)

It's Cat Friday again! 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.


Oh wait, it's okay...

Yes, that is Meeko with his head through the bottom of a box. It's like his new favorite place. This was not a one-time thing, lol. It's so funny seeing him like that.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Ten Things We Did (and Probably Shouldn't Have) by Sarah Mlynowski

Ten Things We Did (and Probably Shouldn't Have) by Sarah Mlynowski
"2 girls + 3 guys + 1 house – parents = 10 things April and her friends did that they (definitely, maybe, probably) shouldn't have.

If given the opportunity, what sixteen-year-old wouldn't jump at the chance to move in with a friend and live parent-free? Although maybe "opportunity" isn't the right word, since April had to tell her dad a tiny little untruth to make it happen (see #1: "Lied to Our Parents"). But she and her housemate Vi are totally responsible and able to take care of themselves. How they ended up "Skipping School" (#3), "Throwing a Crazy Party" (#8), "Buying a Hot Tub" (#4), and, um, "Harboring a Fugitive" (#7) at all is kind of a mystery to them.

In this hilarious and bittersweet tale, Sarah Mlynowski mines the heart and mind of a girl on her own for the first time. To get through the year, April will have to juggle a love triangle, learn to do her own laundry, and accept that her carefully constructed world just might be falling apart . . . one thing-she-shouldn't-have-done at a time."- summary from Amazon

I loved this book- it was fun and breezy, but dealt with some real teen issues in a frank manner. Mlynowski doesn't tiptoe delicately around the idea of sex or teens drinking (although there's no actual description of the sex). So if you're turned off by books that are mostly about sex and partying, this may not be for you. I mean, it's regular teenagers on their own- what do you expect?

April was a great main character and I just loved her voice- it was so authentic. Mlynowski also did a good job balancing the good and bad of April's life so that both feel realistic. I really enjoyed her interactions with her friends and particularly with Noah, her boyfriend. The book transitions back and forth between the past and present, so the reader sees a lot of April's past with her parents, boyfriend, and friends. It really helped to flesh everybody out, especially Noah who is a bit of a jerk in the present. But Mlynowski shows the good side of him and the beginning of their relationship. I liked that because a lot of the time, the "wrong" boyfriend can be very one-dimensional and the reader is left wondering why the MC ever got into this relationship in the first place. The other guy, Hudson, is very dreamy; I loved him!

Overall, I really enjoyed reading about April's adventures on her own and it makes me want to catch up with the Sarah Mlynowski books I have yet to read (Gimme A Call, Magic in Manhattan #4 and some of her adult books). I hope you all check out this book too; it's a great summer read!

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

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Waiting on Wednesday

"While Varen remains a prisoner in the dream-world, Isobel is haunted by his memory. He appears to her in her dreams and soon, even in her waking life. But is she just imagining it? Isobel knows she must find a way back to Varen. She makes plans to go to Baltimore. There, she confronts the figure known throughout the world as the Poe Toaster—the same dark man who once appeared to Isobel in her dreams, calling himself "Reynolds."

Isobel succeeds in interrupting the Toaster's ritual and, in doing so, discovers a way to return to the dream-world. Soon, she finds herself swept up in a realm which not only holds remnants of Poe's presence, but has also now taken on the characteristics of Varen's innermost self. It is a dark world comprised of fear, terror, and anger.

When Isobel once more encounters Varen, she finds him changed. With his mind poisoned by the dream world, he becomes a malevolent force, bent on destroying all—even himself. Now Isobel must face a new adversary, one who also happens to be her greatest love."- summary from GoodReads

I absolutely loved Nevermore and am really excited for this sequel. It sucks that it won't be out until January but I will continue to wait impatiently for it. Creagh has created a pretty scary world and though it sounds weird, I can't wait to dive back into it.

Is anyone else excited for this book?

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

The Day Before by Lisa Schroeder

The Day Before by Lisa Schroeder
"Amber’s life is spinning out of control. All she wants is to turn up the volume on her iPod until all of the demands of family and friends fade away. So she sneaks off to the beach to spend a day by herself.

Then Amber meets Cade. Their attraction is instant, and Amber can tell he’s also looking for an escape. Together they decide to share a perfect day: no pasts, no fears, no regrets.

The more time that Amber spends with Cade, the more she’s drawn to him. And the more she’s troubled by his darkness. Because Cade’s not just living in the now— he’s living each moment like it’s his last."- summary from Amazon

Lisa Schroeder is one of my favorite verse novelists and I've loved her since her first book. Anytime a new one is released, I want it. Her verse is so lyrical, poignant, and tells a wonderful, emotional story in such brevity. This book is no different.

I really liked that she focused the vast majority of the whole story just on Amber and Cade and their interactions. The reader really gets to know these characters inside and out. Their connection is real and even though it's only a 24 hour period, Schroeder makes it feel realistic. Their souls are bared to each other and they really get to know each other and what's beyond the surface. It's not everything obviously, but it's a heck of a start.

The verse is interspersed with these letters from an unknown couple to Amber and figuring out who they were was one of the reasons I kept reading. Who are these people? Why do they want her? It does get explained and it's definitely a twist. I liked how Schroeder handled that kind of situation too and it really raises some questions. I can't say what kind of questions though because that would be spoilery and I try to stay away from that in my reviews. But if you've read it, you should know what I'm talking about. The ending was done really well too and I liked it a lot.

Overall, I thoroughly enjoyed this book and I strongly urge everyone (if you like verse, that is) to check it out when it's released June 28.

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

Monday, June 13, 2011

Cut by Patricia McCormick Review + Contest!

Cut by Patricia McCormick
"A tingle arced across my scalp. The floor tipped up at me and my body spiraled away. Then I was on the ceiling looking down, waiting to see what would happen next.

Callie cuts herself. Never too deep, never enough to die. But enough to feel the pain. Enough to feel the scream inside. Now she’s at Sea Pines, a “residential treatment facility” filled with girls struggling with problems of their own. Callie doesn’t want to have anything to do with them. She doesn’t want to have anything to do with anyone. She won’t even speak. But Callie can only stay silent for so long…

The 10th Anniversary edition of Cut includes a brand-new afterword from author Patricia McCormick, an author Q&A, and added resources."- summary from back of book

I listened to this book a couple years ago on audiobook and really enjoyed it. I had no idea it was McCormick's debut until just recently when I was putting this post together and re-reading Cut. It does not feel like the author's first book. The prose is so tight, sparse, emotional, and realistic; it's also a fast read, at just 150 pages. It was really interesting reading Callie's story and seeing the layers unravel as we get to know her. This was a really good book and I really hope others check out the 10th anniversary edition even if they don't win this contest.

About the Author
Patricia McCormick spent three years researching and writing her first novel, Cut. She is also the author of the National Book Award finalist Sold, as well as Purple Heart and My Brother’s Keeper. She lives in Manhattan. Learn more at www.pattymccormick.com.

Also check out the This is Teen Facebook page to talk about the book with others!

Thanks to Chelsy at Big Honcho Media and Scholastic, there will be two copies of Cut: 10th Anniversary Edition given away here. US residents only. All you have to do is leave a comment on this post by Monday, June 20 at 9pm EST. The winners will be chosen then and notified by email so please leave your email address in your comment if it's not on your Blogger profile.

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

Sunday, June 12, 2011

In My Mailbox- Week of June 5 + Retrospective

I have a vlog for you guys! Hope you all enjoy it! (Also note the ADORABLE sleeping cat in the background. That is Samson. Also notice the Stargazer book above him that has been knocked over by the cats.)

Books Shown:

Want to Go Private? by Sarah Darer Littman
Things We Didn't Say by Kristina Riggle
Wicked in Your Arms by Sophie Jordan
The Eleventh Plague by Jeff Hirsch
Blood Red Road by Moira Young (audiobook)
Wicked by Sara Shepard (from library)
The Liar Society by Lisa and Laura Roecker (from library)
Blood on My Hands by Todd Strasser (from library)
The Girl of Fire and Thorns by Rae Carson (not shown- received after recording)

and here's my retrospective-

Monday- I did a recap of my time in NYC for Wednesday night and Thursday.

Tuesday- I reviewed Don't Stop Now by Julie Halpern, which is out in stores!

Wednesday- I completed my BEA recaps with going over my final days in NYC, Friday through Sunday.

Thursday- I reviewed He's So Not Worth It by Kieran Scott, which is out in stores now!

Friday- I brought back Cat Friday and posted some adorable pictures of my cats on my new bed stuff.

Saturday- I reviewed Fairy Bad Day by Amanda Ashby, which is also out in stores now!

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Fairy Bad Day by Amanda Ashby

Fairy Bad Day by Amanda Ashby
"While most students at Burtonwood Academy get to kill demons and goblins, fifteen-year-old Emma gets to rid the world of little annoying fairies with glittery wings and a hipster fashion sense. She was destined to be a dragon slayer, but cute and charming Curtis stole her spot. Then she sees a giant killer fairy - and it's invisible to everyone but her! If Emma has any chance of stopping this evil fairy, she's going to need help. Unfortunately, the only person who can help is Curtis. And now, not only has he stolen her dragon-slayer spot, but maybe her heart as well! Why does she think it's going to be a fairy bad day?"- summary from Amazon

I love Ashby's writing and was so excited to get an advance copy of this. It's a funny paranormal, which is rare to find, and I was laughing quite a bit throughout the book. But aside from the humor, there's some great mythology here and I liked how she handled the paranormal aspect of this world. I really got a good sense of what was being taught at the Academy and how all the Elementals (i.e. paranormal creatures) are taken care of.

Emma is a great heroine and I loved her voice. She's fierce, stubborn, loyal, sarcastic, and so many other things. She had a good journey and changed over the course of the book. Her romance with Curtis was sweet, realistic, and taken fairly slowly. There's no love at first sight here- it builds throughout their interactions. I also loved most of the secondary characters, and particularly enjoyed it whenever the fairies came on the scene.

Overall, a fun paranormal read to take to the beach (or really anywhere) with you! I think those who liked Hex Hall would enjoy this book. It's also a bargain since it's a paperback original! So go grab your copy now!

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

Friday, June 10, 2011

Cat Friday (13)

It's Cat Friday again! 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.

So I got a new comfy bed recently because a college friend of mine was living off campus and didn't have room to take his bed back home with him. He didn't want to dump it either so he asked if I wanted it. The bed my roommate kindly gave me was really old and the boxspring was falling apart a bit, so I said yes.

He came by and dropped them off in the living room of my townhouse. I was alone that weekend so I did all the lifting myself. Taking my old mattress and boxspring down two flights to the basement, then the new mattress and boxspring up one flight and around corners was A LOT of work. I kinda forgot how heavy mattresses were. Boxsprings are light though still a bit difficult to take up by yourself. I did so much work that afternoon (also vacuuming and using the carpet attachment to take out pet hair and stuff where my bed was once I took the old stuff down).

Anyway, back to the cats. I hadn't had lunch yet by the time my friend came, so once we got the stuff in, I just left it in the living room and made my lunch. The cats all seemed to think the mattresses were for them.

(Meeko on left, Pearl on right)

(In front row l to r- Miko, Samson, Farley; In back row l to r- Pearl, Khali; also Maya on the fridge in the background, silently disapproving of her family, lol)

Hope you guys enjoyed this return of Cat Friday and I hope to post more cute kitty pictures in the coming weeks! :)

Thursday, June 9, 2011

He's So Not Worth It by Kieran Scott

He's So Not Worth It by Kieran Scott
"Ally Ryan, come on down to the Jersey Shore and forget your troubles!

Have you recently been humilated in front of your friends and family at your former best friends birthday party? Was your almost boyfriend partly responsible for that humilation by withholding some vital information about where your estrangerd father is? Did you come home to find said estranged father sitting on your stoop?

If so, then it sounds like you could use a vacation! The Jersey Shore is the place to be. Your mother may be living with her boyfriend of only a few months, but at least the stunt Shannen pulled has put some of your friends back in your court. Even so, you're still angry and what better way to get over Jake than to blow off some steam with local guy, Cooper. People will hardly recognize your new attitude, but the old one wasn't getting you anywhere, so who cares!

Jake Graydon, an exciting opportunity is waiting for you in the service industry!

Are your grades so low your parents have grounded you for the summer? Did you the girl you really like unceremoniously leave you behind? Would you rather eat dirt than see your friends again? Then a job at the local coffee shop is just the ticket! Suprisingly, Ally's father is the new manager so you get to be reminded of her nearly every day. Maybe it's time to start flirting with your best friend's ex or even taking school a bit more seriously. Especially when you finally see Ally and she's hanging around with some loser and it's couldn't be more clear that she is over you.

Have a great summer!"- summary from Amazon

I love this trilogy of books. Except for the fact that they're released a year apart. I want the third book now! This book ended on such a huge cliffhanger and I actually gasped reading the final lines. I don't gasp often while reading books.

Anyway, aside from the cliffhanger, this book is fantastic. I love the back and forth between Ally and Jake's perspectives, and then the random interstitials from Annie's field journal which are hilarious. Scott still does a great job capturing Ally and Jake's voices and emotions and it brings a good level of depth to the book and invests the reader in their rocky relationship.

The book takes place during the summer so this is the perfect book to start your summer off with. It's got cute boys, beach scenes, parties, kissing scenes, and a lot of drama. So go grab your copy now and curl up with it by the pool or beach!

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

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

BEA Recap- Friday to Sunday

First off, this was my bed for Wed-Fri nights. Yes, I slept on the couch. In the kitchen. It was actually kinda comfy. Anyway, after Thursday's busy day, I had nothing planned for Friday, so I got to sleep in for a while which was amazing. I'm also fairly sure I did absolutely nothing and just sat on my butt all day reading and doing stuff on my computer.

At dinnertime, Susan cooked us all turkey loaf (doesn't sound good but it was actually REALLY GOOD which was a big thing coming from me as I am a picky eater), mashed potatoes and green beans. It was really nice. There was a group of us all in the kitchen and it was so fun to just sit around, chat, and goof off with the other bloggers living at the house after running around so much the past couple days. We looked through British tabloids that Lynsey had brought and made fun of them. Did you know that they call Kate Middleton "K Middy"? We all thought it was funny but Lynsey found it absolutely hilarious and couldn't stop laughing for like 5 minutes, which made us all laugh more. Lynsey also said some very fun British swears. I wish I had a pocket Lynsey because I would take her everywhere and just listen to her talk. She's an awesome lady and became my 2011 New Foreign Friend. While in NYC and bonding with Lynsey, I realized that I've made myself a new foreign friend every year since 2009. That year brought me Alexa (also from the UK), 2010 brought me Cat (from Canada), and now Lynsey. Who wants to be my 2012 friend? You will need to be at BEA so I can meet you and hang out with you throughout the week, lol.

After dinner, people dispersed and went off to Junior's Cheesecake Factory and Lynsey was kind enough to buy me a slice of chocolate cake (and by "kind enough", I mean "insisted and wouldn't take no for an answer"). I didn't think they'd be gone that long but they were out for several hours. I did the very exciting activity of doing my laundry. Because that's what you do in NYC. I also hung out a bit with Emily and Tirzah, which was fun.

Saturday morning was a bit busy as people were leaving the blogger house, and also lots of people were packing up their books to be sent home. Since I was driving home with Susan and Stacey, I didn't have to worry about that and so instead I went off to Books of Wonder for a signing featuring Sarah Rees Brennan. I got there a bit late because the stupid subway was under construction or something and so skipped my stop so I had to backtrack. I made it into Books of Wonder just as Sarah was starting her reading. By the end of it, guess who had walked in and sat down? None other than Maureen Johnson.

Let me tell you all something. They were giving out a shirt at BEA at the Sourcebooks booth that said "Authors are my rock stars." Me seeing Maureen Johnson and being 10 feet away from her is proof of that. I was awestruck and she was probably wondering why a creepy guy was staring at her, lol. I could barely focus because I love Maureen so much and really wanted to say hi to her as well as try to get a picture. Unfortunately, she ran off as soon as the QnA session ended though she was still in the store, which Taylor Morris (who I was also there to meet) informed me of before she left. I assumed Maureen would stick around until Sarah was leaving but apparently not because I didn't see her when Rachael and I left after talking to Sarah.

Anyway, Sarah is absolutely hilarious and I love her. I waited a bit to get my book signed because there was a huge line for her. Instead, I chatted with Taylor Morris for a few minutes and Rachael snapped a quick picture of the two of us before Taylor had to go. Taylor is so sweet and I'm so glad I got to meet her. Hopefully, next year, we can go out for coffee or lunch and spend more time chatting. Once Taylor left, Rachael introduced me to her friends that she was chatting with- Faye, a publicist at Little Brown who I've talked to a bit and an editor at Little Brown whose name I cannot remember, which I feel really bad about.

Her friends had to go so that was when we went over to see Sarah; Rachael became my photographer, lol. Sarah signed my book and also signed a bookplate for me to put into my copy of Demon's Surrender. She also said she loved my blog, which made me happy. I got a picture with her and we chatted for a few minutes then Rachael and I left. I was planning on going to The Strand and she was on the hunt for groceries but it turned out we were going in the same direction. So she led me to The Strand because I had no idea where it was, or well, a very vague idea of where it was, lol.

We walked through a Farmer's Market and when we got to the other side and were getting ready to cross the street, we passed Maureen Johnson again and I seriously contemplated yelling out "MAUREEN!" but I thought that would be weird, so I didn't say anything. Rachael had just planned on dropping me off at The Strand but it was so hot and the building is air-conditioned so she came in for a few minutes. A few minutes turned into like 45, lol. We had so much fun chatting about books, BEA, her internship, getting wisdom teeth pulled, the blogger house, and probably some other things. Eventually she left and I was alone, so I took the opportunity to wander around the entire store. It's several floors and usually I'm with other people and we go straight to the YA section and that's it. But I wanted to see what else they had and what the rest of the store looked like. OMG they are not kidding when they say 18 miles of books. The store is bigger than it originally looks and there's 4 floors. I do also have a funny story but it's also a tad inappropriate for a public forum such as this so email or tweet me if you want deets.

Soon enough, the bloggers in the house had finished sending off their books and joined me at The Strand. Of course, being huge book lovers, books were bought. Once we finished up there, we went back to the subway and went home. We ordered pizza for dinner and it was so good. I also had my chocolate cake for dessert. Well, half of it. That thing was so rich. I had a little more later that night when I got hungry but I still ended up not being able to finish it. When everyone got back from being out that night, we had a fun time chatting and Lynsey read a bit from Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix. It was fun hearing it in a British voice. I was so tired though and fell asleep in the middle of the conversation though I was trying to stay awake. I was also in an actual bed too, so that may have had something to do with it.

Sunday morning came and the only people left were Susan, Stacey and myself. Lynsey, Katie and Amber had left early in the morning for the airport. We packed everything up in the car and drove home. I was packed tight in the backseat because we had so much stuff. It's not the best picture but you can see a bit of what I was dealing with on the drive home. It was a fun ride home. My roommate and her boyfriend met me in Richmond at Susan's house and we went out to the Cheesecake Factory for dinner before heading back to Lynchburg.

And that is the end of my NYC trip. Whew!

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Don't Stop Now by Julie Halpern

Don't Stop Now by Julie Halpern
"On the first day of Lillian’s summer-before-college, she gets a message on her cell from her sort-of friend, Penny. Not only has Penny faked her own kidnapping, but Lil is the only one who figures it out. She knows that Penny’s home life has been rough, and that her boyfriend may be abusive. Soon, Penny’s family, the local police, and even the FBI are grilling Lil, and she decides to head out to Oregon, where Penny has mentioned an acquaintance. And who better to road-trip across the country with than Lil’s BFF, Josh. But here’s the thing: Lil loves Josh. And Josh doesn’t want to “ruin” their amazing friendship.

Josh has a car and his dad’s credit card. Lil has her cellphone and a hunch about where Penny is hiding. There’s something else she needs to find: Are she and Josh meant to be together?"- summary from Amazon

It is no secret that I love Julie Halpern's books. Since her debut, Get Well Soon, I've been a fan and always eagerly anticipating the next book. Her books are funny, thoughtful, and really do a great job of capturing teens' lives today and usually in a less-than-normal setting. Get Well Soon takes place in a mental hospital, Into the Wild Nerd Yonder does take place in a high school but there is the inclusion of a real-life D&D convention much like a Renaissance fair, and with Don't Stop Now, Halpern's given us a road trip across most of the US.

I'm not sure if the places Lil and Josh visit are real but it'd be really fun if they were. I loved reading about the road trip they took and with there basically just being two characters for the vast majority of the novel, there's a lot of character development going on. Seeing them navigate the waters of friends vs. more rang true and Halpern handled it really well.

Aside from Lil and Josh's exploits, at the end of every chapter (except a couple), there's an excerpt taking place from the perspective of Penny, and even though they're short excerpts, I really get a sense of her character and why she did what she did.

Overall, this is an amazing book and I urge everyone to go grab a copy at their bookstore today (the book's release day!), along with Halpern's previous books. You won't regret it (unless of course you only like urban fantasy and paranormal, in which case, you will regret it).

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

Monday, June 6, 2011

BEA recap- Wednesday and Thursday

So we last left off at the end of my second day at BEA. After heading home, Lynsey and I had Susan help us figure out how to get to Books of Wonder for a Class of 2k11 signing. Then we rushed off to the subway, made it there (after a very slight detour when a New Yorker pointed us in the wrong direction) a little bit late. We missed the reading but made it in time for the signing. I said hello to Christina Mandelski, author of The Sweetest Thing, and we chatted for a few minutes before I went to go find Amy Holder, who was being very sweet and taking pictures with some fans. I got my Lipstick Laws signed and then met up with Lynsey again, who in the meantime, had acquired quite a few books. Then she found a few more, some of which were signed. I got a picture with Amy and Christina before they left and then waited for Lynsey to pay for her books. I sat down on a comfy chair which felt amazing. When you're on your feet standing or walking all day, sitting down is the most awesome feeling in the world.

After we finished at Books of Wonder, Lynsey had the idea to go to The Strand so we went into a small market to ask for directions to see if it was close by. Which it was! So we walked to it and found it pretty easily. We had a great time looking around at the YA section and the whole bookstore. It's such an amazing place. Lynsey had a bit too much fun with it though and was grabbing books every second until she had a huge pile. She realized that she couldn't buy them all, so we tried to figure out what she could put back and what she should buy. She ended up buying like 9 books and a Strand bag. I helped her carry the books back to the subway and we found our way back to the house just fine.

In the morning, we slept in a bit because not much was happening Thursday and we arrived to Javits a bit late. I immediately ran off to the Uptown Stage where Jane Lynch would be giving her talk and signing. I got a ticket for the signing and sat down in one of the front rows. A few minutes later, Jamie and Shanyn came by and I went to go sit with them and we had a great time chatting and catching up with each other. I also got to chat with a lady about my blog which was fun, and then Jamie and Shanyn's friend Tara came by and sat next to me. We did the obligatory business card exchange and chatted a bit. Jane Lynch came out a little after 10am and there should be a video of her talk online eventually. She talked about her book then answered a few questions for about 20 minutes then started signing. They did a good job of organizing the signing line so we were out pretty quickly.

I said goodbye to Jamie, Shanyn and Tara and ran off to Ellen Hopkins' signing for Perfect. Ellen is so sweet and it was really nice to see her again. I cannot wait to read Perfect. I then went straight over to Lisa McMann's signing, which for some odd reason, was only a half-hour long. Also, side note, Thursday had very few signings yet they decided to use one half of the rows right next to each other rather than having someone sign at every other row to keep the area from being too crowded. Who runs these things? Back to Lisa's signing- I and others had to be moved to the overflow area when Lisa's time ran out and she continued signing copies of Unwanted until she had to go be on a panel. When I got up to Lisa, she came around and hugged me quickly which was so nice of her. She's the best. After Lisa, I went off to get in line for Sarah Mlynowski but I was intercepted by Susan who was in line for Frost by Marianna Baer (which was LONG). She asked if I would mind getting a signed copy of Poison Diaries 2 for her since the line for it was short and I said sure. I got in line and got the book for her; Maryrose Wood was really sweet too. I've only read her book My Life: The Musical but I'm looking forward to reading more by her.

I got in line for Sarah Mlynowski and was actually in line for 10 minutes before Andye from Reading Teen poked me on the shoulder and said hi. We each had no idea we were standing next to each other in line, lol. We chatted as we moved up in line and it was really fun. I got up to the front and Sarah actually recognized me! I'm really excited to read her book. After that, I went over to Micol Ostow's signing for Family which was right next to Sarah's and I'm glad I got to meet Micol because I'm such a huge fan of hers and I love her books so much. That was my last signing for the day and I caught up with Alex and Erica and we wandered around a bit. From that point on, everything is a bit of a blur, so this may not be in order. I stopped by Disney before heading down to meet Susan and the others in the food court and tried to get the display copy of Uncommon Criminals but unfortunately someone got to it like right before me. I was very sad- I had missed Ally's signings and now the display copy. Le sigh. I went down to the food court and as I was getting ready to sit down, Lisa McMann walked by! We hugged and she introduced me to her editor who I gave a business card to. We chatted a bit and then Lynsey and Susan talked to Lisa a bit before she left. At some point, I also got to chat with Martin Wilson, author of What They Always Tell Us, while he was doing his day job working at a publisher booth. It was really fun to meet him in person and we chatted for like 20 minutes. I stopped by the Houghton Mifflin booth too and got to say hi to my publicist contact Rachel who had sent me a wonderful unexpected package earlier in May. We also did some wandering around to try and get some books publishers were giving away but we didn't get much. I got two from Flux- Playing Hurt and Pure Red- but that was about it.

Susan, Lynsey, Stacey, Katie, and I took a breather and showed off our hauls for the day since we had some time to kill before going to the Scholastic Store for the VIP Meet and Greet. We took a taxi over, which took us forever to find. Once there, we got our name tags and went up to the Green House to do some mingling. Right away, there was Meg Cabot inviting us to go get a drink. When she spotted me, she was like "I know you!" and gave me a hug, which pretty much made my year. And then I chatted with Meg for a few minutes and she introduced me to her publicist, who I've talked to a bit in email. I met several publicists and it was so much fun to put faces to names and just chat. I met Libba Bray too and I told her that I had a quote on the back of Going Bovine, and she was like "You're that James!" and thanked me several times over the course of the night for that quote. I felt special. I only got to say hi to Maggie but considering I see her several times a year anyway, I figured I should let other people have their time with her. David Levithan was also there since he's an editor at Scholastic and I wanted to go say hi but I was too shy. I also got to meet and chat with Chelsy from Big Honcho Media and also TS Ferguson, who was the editor for I Am J by Cris Beam, which I just loved.

After the Meet and Greet, we went down to the signing. The authors answered questions from the moderator as well as the audience, then started signing. They were each in a specific part of the store; Maggie was particularly excited to be signing in the Magic School Bus and really, who wouldn't be? Before getting into Libba's line, I got to chat with Michele Jaffe, who I love, and it was just so much fun to see her again. I got into Libba's line since I already have signed books from both Maggie and Meg. It took a while to get up to the front but I had some good company during the wait. When I got near the front, Sheila (a publicist) told us about the choice we had to make to get a button (she made it sound very dire and important, lol)- we could be Lost Girls, Beauty Queens, or Sparkle Ponies. I decided to be a Sparkle Pony.

I wanted to say bye to Meg before she left but she was gone by the time I finished with Libba. I went to go see Maggie since her line had died down and got some books signed. She also told me to not wait so long to read Forever and Scorpio Races since I had several of her books from the time each came out and only got around to them last summer, lol. I told her I wouldn't let her down.

After the signings ended, a group of us went to Soho Park, a restaurant nearby that was absolutely delicious. It was a really fun time and a good way to end the day.

Sunday, June 5, 2011

In My Mailbox- Weeks of May 23 and 30 + Retrospective

I did two vlogs this week, one for BEA books and one for actual mailbox books. I have a list for both so if you don't have time to watch the videos, you can just read the titles shown. Enjoy!

Books Shown-
BEA Books:

Shelter by Harlan Coben (Sept 2011; Penguin)
The Beginning of After by Jennifer Castle (Sept 2011; HarperTeen)
Ten Things We Did (and Probably Shouldn't Have) by Sarah Mlynowski (July 2011; HarperTeen)
The Future of Us by Jay Asher and Carolyn Mackler (Nov 2011; Penguin)
The Unwanteds by Lisa McMann (Sept 2011; S&S)
Egmont USA Fall 2011 catalog signed by Vordak the Incomprehensible (aka Nico Medina)
signed Happy Accidents by Jane Lynch cover flat (Sept 2011; Hyperion)
Forever by Maggie Stiefvater (July 2011; Scholastic)
Frost by Wendy Delsol (October 2011; Candlewick)
Family by Micol Ostow (April 2011; Egmont)
Undercurrent by Tricia Rayburn (July 2011; Egmont)
Playing Hurt by Holly Schindler (March 2011; Flux)
The Fox Inheritance by Mary Pearson (Aug 2011; Macmillan)
Unbecoming of Maya Dyer by Michelle Hodkin (Sept 2011; S&S)
Draw the Dark by Ilsa Bick (Oct 2010; Carolrhoda Lab)
Witch Eyes by Scott Tracey (Sept. 2011; Flux)
The Lipstick Laws by Amy Holder (April 2011; HMH)
Blow by Daniel Nayeri (Oct 2011; Candlewick- one of four novellas)
After Obsession by Carrie Jones and Steven Wedel (Sept. 2011; Bloomsbury)
The Iron Queen by Julie Kagawa (Feb 2011; Harlequin)
Personal Demons by Lisa Desrochers (August 2010; Tor)
Rock On by Denise Vega (March 2012; Little, Brown)
Blood on the Moon by Jennifer Knight (August 2011; Running Brook Press)
Liesl and Po by Lauren Oliver (Oct. 2011; HarperTeen)
Aloha, Kanani by Lisa Yee (Jan 2011; American Girl)
Crossed by Ally Condie (Nov 2011; Penguin)
Shiver by Maggie Stiefvater (July 2009; Scholastic)
Daughter of Smoke and Bone by Laini Taylor (Sept 2011; Little, Brown)
Glow by Amy Kathleen Ryan (Sept. 2011; Macmillan)
Legend by Marie Lu (Nov 2011; Penguin)
Dark Eden by Patrick Carman (Nov 2011; HarperTeen)
Pure Red by Danielle Joseph (Sept 2011; Flux)
Shut Out by Kody Keplinger (Sept 2011; Little, Brown)
The Scorpio Races by Maggie Stiefvater (Oct 2011; Scholastic)
Sirenz by Charlotte Bennardo and Natalie Zaman (July 2011; Flux)
Strings Attached by Judy Blundell (March 2011; Scholastic)
Abandon by Meg Cabot (April 2011; Scholastic)
13 Gifts by Wendy Mass (Sept. 2011; Scholastic)
Cold Kiss by Amy Garvey (Sept 2011; HarperTeen)
A Beautiful Dark by Jocelyn Davies (Sept 2011; HarperTeen)
Perfect by Ellen Hopkins (Sept 2011; S&S)
Beauty Queens by Libba Bray (May 2011; Scholastic)
Pretty Bad Things by C.J. Skuse (July 2011; Scholastic)

Mailbox Books-
My Life Undecided by Jessica Brody (June 2011; Macmillan)
Ordinary Beauty by Laura Weiss (June 2011; MTV Books)
Forgotten by Cat Patrick (June 2011; Little, Brown)
Swimming to Chicago by David Matthew Barnes (Oct. 2011; Bold Strokes Books)
All You Desire by Kirsten Miller (Aug 2011; Penguin)
Passion by Lauren Kate (June 2011; Random House)
Legend by Marie Lu (Nov. 2011; Penguin)
The Demon's Covenant by Sarah Rees Brennan (May 2010; S&S- already owned, just got signed)
The Survival Kit by Donna Freitas (Sept 2011; Macmillan)
Just Your Average Princess by Kristina Springer (Sept. 2011; Macmillan)
Melody Burning by Whitley Strieber (Dec. 2011; Macmillan)
Tomorrow Girls: Run for Cover (#2) by Eva Gray (July 2011; Scholastic)
The Summer Garden: A Love Story by Paullina Simons (June 2011; William Morrow)
The Ivy: Secrets by Lauren Kunze and Rina Onur (June 2011; Greenwillow Books)

and here's my retrospective for the week-

Tuesday- I posted my first BEA 2011 recap, where I went through what I did the first day and most of the second day of BEA.

Thursday- I participated in a blog tour for A Need So Beautiful by Suzanne Young (in stores June 21), where I reviewed the book and did a short interview with the author.

Friday- I hosted this month's Fragment Friday and read from Don't Stop Now by Julie Halpern, which will be out in stores June 7.

Saturday- I reviewed Graveminder by Melissa Marr, which is out in stores now.

Saturday, June 4, 2011

Graveminder by Melissa Marr

Graveminder by Melissa Marr
"Rebekkah Barrow never forgot the tender attention her grandmother, Maylene, bestowed upon the dead of Claysville, the town where Bek spent her adolescence. There wasn't a funeral that Maylene didn't attend, and at each Rebekkah watched as Maylene performed the same unusual ritual: three sips from a small silver flask followed by the words "Sleep well, and stay where I put you."

Now Maylene is dead and Bek must go back to the place--and the man--she left a decade ago. But what she soon discovers is that Maylene was murdered and that there was good reason for her odd traditions. It turns out that in placid Claysville, the worlds of the living and the dead are dangerously connected. Beneath the town lies a shadowy, lawless land ruled by the enigmatic Charles, aka Mr. D--a place from which the dead will return if their graves are not properly minded. Only the Graveminder, a Barrow woman, and the current Undertaker, Byron, can set things to right once the dead begin to walk."- summary from Amazon

I love Marr's YA series and was really excited to read her adult debut that's out of the faerie world. The concept sounded really good and was something I hadn't really seen before. Learning the tweaked folklore in the story was interesting and I liked how she presented it.

Her characters are also wonderful and really fleshed out. The story bounces around from character to character in third person omniscient which is fun but can be a bit confusing at times. Most of the action though is focused on Rebekkah and Byron, both of whom I really liked. I loved seeing them together and the ending was really sweet (and a little bit funny). My favorite characters though were probably Amity and Alicia, both of whom don't have too much screen time but I really liked them nonetheless.

The world-building too is great as usual. Claysville is pretty much its own character and Marr did a good job with the town history and really making it feel like its own world, which it kinda is - blocked off from the rest of the world.

I know this'll sound weird though after all the praise I gave it but I didn't find the book compelling enough, not like I do with Marr's YA. I gave away my ARC while at BEA to my new UK blogger friend Lynsey midway through reading and actually considered not finishing the book ever. It's not a bad book by any means- everything is great- but there just wasn't that feeling of excitement I get when reading a vast majority of books that keeps me coming back or not want to put it down. I don't know if that makes sense. Everything was great but for me, there was just something missing.

Overall though, it is a good book and if you're a fan of Marr already, definitely check it out.

FTC: Received ARC from publisher (then gave ARC midway through reading it to Lynsey and got replacement ARC from Susan). Link above is an Amazon Associate link; any profit goes toward funding contests.