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

Saturday, July 30, 2011

Forever by Maggie Stiefvater Review + Giveaway

Forever by Maggie Stiefvater
"In Maggie Stiefvater’s SHIVER, Grace and Sam found each other. In LINGER, they fought to be together. Now, in FOREVER, the stakes are even higher than before. Wolves are being hunted. Lives are being threatened. And love is harder and harder to hold on to as death comes closing in."- summary from Amazon

I almost wonder if there's even a point to writing this review because I imagine most people have already read this, or are waiting to read it. It's the highly anticipated conclusion to a huge series. But I will anyway because that's what I'm here for.

Stiefvater did a wonderful job ending this trilogy and I wonder how the story went originally before she scrapped it all. Her writing is just so lyrical and beautiful, it sucks me in so easily. Aside from the prose, the characters are amazing too and I really loved revisiting them all through the multiple POV narrative. Yes, even Cole and Isabel- I've heard some grumbling about how the story wasn't completely focused on Sam and Grace. I love them all for different reasons; their voices are done really well and distinctive. My favorite character is probably Isabel and I feel like I mentioned this in my Linger review too, lol.

The ending of the book is unexpected and a tiny bit open-ended, which I really liked. I'm usually not for open endings but this just felt right and almost all of the threads were tied up anyway. What's one or two left open?

Overall, a fantastic end to a wonderful trilogy that's full of wit and heart as well as some angst and some action. Definitely a series to check out if you haven't already.

Scholastic recently launched an online community called This Is Teen to connect readers with their favorite YA authors and books. Visit their page on Facebook for all the latest news on Maggie Stiefvater and Forever. Also, take a look at the trailer:

And finally, thanks to Scholastic and Chelsy of Big Honcho Media, I have two copies of Forever to give away. Not only that, but each book comes with a Forever keychain (and the keychain is awesome- I have one!)! All you have to do to enter is leave a comment on this post by 9pm EST on Monday, August 8. US residents only!

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

Friday, July 29, 2011

Cat Friday (19)

Before I show off this week's photos, I have two exciting things to talk about-

1) I have a job! I'm working at J. Crew at their distribution center and am signing new-hire paperwork today. YAY!

2) I'm a featured blogger in Blogger Confidential on the blog Emily's Reading Room. It's all about bloggers answering questions about blogging, reviewing and other things. Here's the introduction post, and here's the first set of QnA- go leave a comment!

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.

The tops of our kitchen cabinets are easily accessible to our cats and they love spending time up there. Meeko seems to be especially enjoying himself!

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Wicked in Your Arms by Sophie Jordan

Wicked in Your Arms by Sophie Jordan
"One of the most notoriously eligible bachelors in Europe is finally ready to marry . . .

For fiercely independent Grier Hadley, being the illegitimate daughter of one of London's most unsavory characters has only one advantage: an enormous, ill-gotten dowry.

Prince Sevastian Maksimi knows where his duty lies: he must find a well-bred young lady—one with a considerable fortune to her name—wed her promptly, and get to the business of producing an heir.

The last thing Grier needs is some unattainable prince curling her toes with his smoldering glances and wicked suggestions. As far as Sev is concerned, she lacks the breeding to become a princess. And yet one kiss from this arresting female is all it takes for him to realize that anyone else in his arms would be unthinkable . . ."- summary from Amazon

This was an unsolicited review copy, if you couldn't tell (and hadn't watched my IMM videos). But since it was Sophie Jordan, author of the YA book Firelight, I figured I'd give it a shot. I was pretty impressed, though it does read like a romance novel if that makes any sense. I don't really know how to describe that, but it was just this feeling that came over me when I started it.

Most people think romance novels are all about sex, and I was under this impression too. There's nothing wrong with sex, but Jordan definitely gave me something to think about when it took about 200-some pages to get to the first sex scene. Well, the first one between the hero and heroine. The actual first one is pretty hilarious and within the first 50 pages, I think. It's a romance novel though, not a smut book, so the focus is on Grier and Sev's interesting, argumentative courtship of each other. With this focus though, I felt that characterization was lost on other characters because so much time is spent on the two leads.

The last 50 pages were pretty action-filled and there was a twist thrown in I hadn't seen coming. The ending was also very sweet. The historical setting didn't bother me either, which is a big feat since I'm not a huge fan of historical novels. I think Grier and Sev matching wits made it more fun.

I really enjoyed this book despite the (at times) odd prose and lack of characterization for anyone but the leads. It's a good, quick, entertaining read for the summertime if you're in the mood for a romance novel.

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

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Waiting on Wednesday- Audition by Stasia Ward Kehoe

"When high school junior Sara wins a coveted scholarship to study ballet, she must sacrifice everything for her new life as a professional dancer-in-training. Living in a strange city with a host family, she's deeply lonely-until she falls into the arms of Remington, a choreographer in his early twenties. At first, she loves being Rem's muse, but as she discovers a surprising passion for writing, she begins to question whether she's chosen the right path. Is Rem using her, or is it the other way around? And is dancing still her dream, or does she need something more? This debut novel in verse is as intense and romantic as it is eloquent."- summary from Amazon

I've been excited for this book for a while. It just sounds so good! I love any book that has to do with the arts. Not only that but it's in verse and I love finding new verse authors to read because I really enjoy the format.

What are you all waiting on this week?

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Wildefire by Karsten Knight

Wildefire by Karsten Knight
"Every flame begins with a spark.

Ashline Wilde is having a rough sophomore year. She’s struggling to find her place as the only Polynesian girl in school, her boyfriend just cheated on her, and now her runaway sister, Eve, has decided to barge back into her life. When Eve’s violent behavior escalates and she does the unthinkable, Ash transfers to a remote private school nestled in California’s redwoods, hoping to put the tragedy behind her. But her fresh start at Blackwood Academy doesn’t go as planned. Just as Ash is beginning to enjoy the perks of her new school—being captain of the tennis team, a steamy romance with a hot, local park ranger—Ash discovers that a group of gods and goddesses have mysteriously enrolled at Blackwood…and she’s one of them. To make matters worse, Eve has resurfaced to haunt Ash, and she’s got some strange abilities of her own. With a war between the gods looming over campus, Ash must master the new fire smoldering within before she clashes with her sister one more time… And when warm and cold fronts collide, there’s guaranteed to be a storm."- summary from Amazon

I've been really excited to read this book for a while and it was really good. In the first half of the book, there is some excitement but some of it is also a bit slow. The second half though is AMAZINGLY good, thrilling, and a fast-paced adventure. The other thing I had a little bit of a problem with is that the chapters were really long and it was hard to find stopping points when I needed them, but that's not a huge deal.

Anyway, on to the good things- I absolutely loved the concept of this and thought Knight did a really good job working with the various mythologies and the backstories of the gods and goddesses. The dialogue is another major selling point- it flows so well, is realistic, and is usually very funny. I loved reading all the interactions between characters, particularly between Ash and Colt as well as Rolfe's jokes, because it was just so much fun.

Overall, this is a really solid, original debut and I can't wait to read the sequels. By the way, for those who worry about starting trilogies, this is a good book because there is a small cliffhanger but the main story in this book ends. It's like the Paranormalcy series in that it seems to be episodic, which I love, rather than one story told over three books. I hope that makes sense.

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

Sunday, July 24, 2011

In My Mailbox- Week of July 17

Here's a vlog with the books I got this past week, along with two that were accidentally shown because I forgot I showed them off last week. The video also cuts off but all the books I wanted to show were shown so there isn't much missed.

Books Shown:

Variant by Robison Wells (ARC; Oct 2011)
The Poison Diaries: Nightshade by Maryrose Wood (ARC; October 2011)
Don't Breathe A Word by Holly Cupala (ARC; Oct 2011)
The Goblin War by Hilari Bell (ARC; Oct 2011)
(accidentally shown books from last week are here- Dark Eden and Power of Six)
Wicked In Your Arms by Sophie Jordan (paperback; July 2011)
So Silver Bright by Lisa Mantchev (ARC; Sept 2011)
Hades by Alexandra Adornetto (ARC; Aug 2011)
A Temptation of Angels by Michelle Zink (ARC; March 2012)
Flat Broke by Gary Paulsen (hardcover; July 2011)
A Need So Beautiful bookmarks and stickers!
Compulsion by Heidi Ayarbe (from library)
Endless Summer by Jennifer Echols (from library)
Starcrossed by Josephine Angelini (from library)

and here's my retrospective:

Monday- I posted the 25th edition of Ask Book Chic, wherein I talk about my cats, taking pictures with authors, and listening to music while reading. Please comment on this- it needs some love!

Tuesday- I reviewed Love Story by Jennifer Echols, which is out in stores now! Please comment on this- it needs some love!

Wednesday- I did a Waiting on Wednesday post and I'm waiting on Incarnate by Jodi Meadows!

Thursday- I reviewed Hereafter by Tara Hudson, which is out in stores now! Please comment on this- it needs some love!

Friday- Another edition of Cat Friday was posted featuring one of my cats Pearl.

Saturday- I reviewed Ripple by Mandy Hubbard, which is out in stores now!

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Ripple by Mandy Hubbard

Ripple by Mandy Hubbard
"Lexi is cursed with a dark secret. Each day she goes to school like a normal teenager, and each night she must swim, or the pain will be unbearable. She is a siren - a deadly mermaid destined to lure men to their watery deaths. After a terrible tragedy, Lexi shut herself off from the world, vowing to protect the ones she loves. But she soon finds herself caught between a new boy at school who may have the power to melt her icy exterior, and a handsome water spirit who says he can break Lexi's curse if she gives up everything else. Lexi is faced with the hardest decision she's ever had to make: the life she's always longed for - or the love she can't live without?"- summary from Amazon

I've loved Hubbard's previous books and was really excited to read this one. I was so glad when a review copy came into my possession. This is a really good book and it's got some interesting twists and turns. It did take me a little bit of time to get into the book, but once I got in, I wanted to know what was going to happen with everything.

The tone of this book is very different from Hubbard's previous books and it's a nice change of pace. Hubbard does a good job of fleshing out her characters and making them as realistic as possible. There's a bittersweet ending, which I liked because it felt more real, especially since this is a paranormal book. And while this is a paranormal book, I feel like there was more emphasis on the emotional issues between friends and potential love interests than on the siren aspect, which was refreshing.

Overall, a really good summer read and I can't believe this is my 3rd Siren book reviewed this month, lol (with another coming up next month). They're all so different though, which is nice.

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

Friday, July 22, 2011

Cat Friday (18)

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.

My cat Pearl just loves being in boxes, and here's a few shots of him exhibiting that love.

He spends a lot of time in that second box on the fridge, like it's his job. He seriously spends all day there.

Hope you all enjoyed!

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Hereafter by Tara Hudson

Hereafter by Tara Hudson
"Can there truly be love after death?

Drifting in the dark waters of a mysterious river, the only thing Amelia knows for sure is that she's dead. With no recollection of her past life—or her actual death—she's trapped alone in a nightmarish existence. All of this changes when she tries to rescue a boy, Joshua, from drowning in her river. As a ghost, she can do nothing but will him to live. Yet in an unforgettable moment of connection, she helps him survive.

Amelia and Joshua grow ever closer as they begin to uncover the strange circumstances of her death and the secrets of the dark river that held her captive for so long. But even while they struggle to keep their bond hidden from the living world, a frightening spirit named Eli is doing everything in his power to destroy their newfound happiness and drag Amelia back into the ghost world . . . forever."- summary from Amazon

I was really excited to read this book because it sounded really cool. Hudson really does a good job with the whole idea of the Hereafter and what happens there. Amelia's journey in regaining her memories is intriguing and her time with Joshua is fun. I enjoyed reading their scenes together because it would usually elicit a few chuckles from me.

So yes, there are good things about the novel; it's not bad or horrid, but for me, it was just average. It just didn't scream "AMAZING BOOK!" to me. I didn't feel hugely compelled to turn the pages and if I hadn't pushed myself, it probably would've taken me longer to finish the book. My connection to the characters was minimal and there wasn't a huge sense of urgency until the very end.

Overall, the book is not a bad read but, in my opinion, it's not really a book to rush out for. Definitely a library read for me.

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

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Waiting on Wednesday- Incarnate by Jodi Meadows

Ana is new. For thousands of years in Range, a million souls have been reincarnated over and over, keeping their memories and experiences from previous lifetimes. When Ana was born, another soul vanished, and no one knows why.

Even Ana’s own mother thinks she’s a nosoul, an omen of worse things to come, and has kept her away from society. To escape her seclusion and learn whether she’ll be reincarnated, Ana travels to the city of Heart, but its citizens are suspicious and afraid of what her presence means. When dragons and sylph attack the city, is Ana to blame?

Sam believes Ana’s new soul is good and worthwhile. When he stands up for her, their relationship blooms. But can he love someone who may live only once, and will Ana’s enemies—human and creature alike—let them be together? Ana needs to uncover the mistake that gave her someone else’s life, but will her quest threaten the peace of Heart and destroy the promise of reincarnation for all?

Jodi Meadows expertly weaves soul-deep romance, fantasy, and danger into an extraordinary tale of new life."- summary from GoodReads

I chose this book because of several reasons, one of which is the fact that the author is a fellow Virginian! She'll be doing some local VA events which I'm really excited for. Aside from that, it just sounds AMAZING and hopefully will have some good world-building once I get to read it. This book comes out January 31, 2012 from HarperTeen.

This is just one of many early 2012 releases I'm looking forward to! What are you guys looking forward to?

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Love Story by Jennifer Echols

Love Story by Jennifer Echols

For Erin Blackwell, majoring in creative writing at the New York City college of her dreams is more than a chance to fulfill her ambitions—it’s her ticket away from the tragic memories that shadow her family’s racehorse farm in Kentucky. But when she refuses to major in business and take over the farm herself someday, her grandmother gives Erin’s college tuition and promised inheritance to their maddeningly handsome stable boy, Hunter Allen. Now Erin has to win an internship and work late nights at a local coffee shop to make her own dreams a reality. She should despise Hunter . . . so why does he sneak into her thoughts as the hero of her latest writing assignment?

Then, on the day she’s sharing that assignment with her class, Hunter walks in. He’s joining her class. And after he reads about himself in her story, her private fantasies about him must be painfully clear. She only hopes to persuade him not to reveal her secret to everyone else. But Hunter devises his own creative revenge, writing sexy stories that drive the whole class wild with curiosity and fill Erin’s heart with longing. Now she’s not just imagining what might have been. She’s writing a whole new ending for her romance with Hunter . . . except this story could come true."- summary from Amazon

I love Jennifer Echols and her books- they're just fantastic, and I imagine this was probably the one that was most difficult to write. I feel like in the hands of a lesser writer, this story would fall apart and the romance would be unbelievable and frustrating for the reader. Hunter does some things that could be unredeemable, but Echols does a good job of really getting into Hunter as well as Erin's pasts and giving valid reasons for why they're doing what they're doing. The reader has to be able to understand their motives and how they change over the course of the story. Taking the story at face-value wrecks the hard work Echols put into this story, so there has to be some thinking on the reader's part going on for the story to make sense and feel right.

Moving on, I really enjoyed the setting of college- more YA books need to take place there!! It's so much fun reading stories set there and including a creative writing class just made it even better. I loved reading the scenes in the classroom with the critiques though I was less enthused about the stories themselves- it took me a while to read Erin's story at the beginning.

Echols knows how to write a good romance and she's outdone herself here. The tension and interactions between Hunter and Erin were really fun to read. Hunter is a sexy man and even though the story is told from Erin's POV, I still got a really good idea of how Hunter grew up to be who he is now and how his mind worked. Her other characters are just as fun- my favorites were Summer and Brian (who, though he had a small amount of screentime, I kinda would like to date).

Overall, Echols has written a really well-crafted story. It's not my favorite of her MTV romances (Going Too Far still holds that title) but it's a very close second. Definitely a book to check out if you're looking for a beach read with a little more substance and three-dimensional, realistic, flawed characters that just jump off the page.

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

Monday, July 18, 2011

Ask Book Chic (25)

Here's another new edition of Ask Book Chic, 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!

Kim Pickett asks "Six cats! Do they read with you? I hope you keep on blogging- I love reading your posts. :)"

Sometimes they do. It depends on where I am and what I'm doing. It's harder for them to read with me when I am reading an e-galley on my computer since my lap is taken up, lol. But if I'm reading a physical book on the couch or in my bed, they'll be around either on my lap or somewhere next to me. It's very cute and they purr, so that's fun.

I totally plan on blogging for a while to come, don't worry!

Next Level asks "Do you take pictures of yourself with authors at signings? If so do you keep a scrapbook or posterboard up? also what is your most memorable author interview/signing?"

I do! It's a good way of remembering the event and meeting the author. At BEA though, it's harder to do pictures because the signings are quick and the way they're constructed in the Autographing Area, just not practical but it just depends. I was able to get one with Jocelyn Davies, author of A Beautiful Dark, because she wanted to and also because I was the last person in line, lol. But taking pictures of author events is one of the best parts of going to them. I don't have a scrapbook or anything, but I should try to make a Facebook album or something. The pictures are shown here though when I do event recaps so there's always that.

My most memorable interview is probably my first one with Meg Cabot back in 2007 when my blog wasn't even a month old! Meg is such a sweetheart and a champion of book bloggers. As for most memorable signing, I would say the Sarah Dessen one I went to in 2008 where I met her as well as David Levithan (I KNOW!!!) and Melissa Walker (DOUBLE I KNOW!!!) or the This is Teen event I went to this year with the VIP Meet and Greet beforehand where I got to spend time chatting and mingling with Meg Cabot, Libba Bray, Maggie Stiefvater, and Scholastic employees that I correspond with. Both were fantastic events!

ereader89 asks "Do you ever listen to music while you read? If so what kind is your favorite to read to?"

I simply can't. Music distracts me from doing anything and everything, except a very few activities like driving and showering. But reading is up there- having music on pulls me out of the story and I can't focus. I also end up just singing along, which isn't good when I'm supposed to be reading. I did find that I can listen to remixes while doing research or writing because most have long instrumental parts and so no words are there to distract me and the ones that are don't take me out of the song because they're still placed differently from the original song I know.

So, long story short (too late), no, I can't listen to music when I read.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

In My Mailbox- Week of July 12 + Retrospective

I have a vlog this week with some awesome books to show you all. Hope you enjoy!

Books Shown:

Sisterhood Everlasting by Ann Brashares (hardcover; June 2011- from library)
Carrier of the Mark by Leigh Fallon (ARC; Oct 2011)
Eve by Anna Carey (ARC; Oct 2011)
Sweet Venom by Tera Lynn Childs (ARC; Oct 2011)
Deadly Cool by Gemma Halliday (ARC; Oct 2011)
Dark Eden by Patrick Carman (ARC; Nov 2011)
The Power of Six by Pittacus Lore (ARC; Sept 2011)
Ripple by Mandy Hubbard (ARC; July 2011)
The Probability of Miracles by Wendy Wunder (ARC; Dec 2011)
The Name of the Star by Maureen Johnson (ARC; Sept 2011)
Shelter by Harlan Coben (ARC; Sept 2011)
Lola and the Boy Next Door by Stephanie Perkins (ARC; Sept 2011- returned from being borrowed)
The Future of Us by Jay Asher and Carolyn Mackler (ARC; Nov 2011- returned from being borrowed)

and here's my retrospective-

Monday- I reviewed Unfriended by Katie Finn, which is out in stores now!

Tuesday- I reviewed Withering Tights by Louise Rennison, which is out in stores now!

Wednesday- I interviewed Sarah Porter, author of Lost Voices, which is now out in stores!

Thursday- I reviewed Dark Parties by Sara Grant, which will be out in stores August 3rd, and am giving away two copies! Contest ends July 22nd at 9pm EST. US Residents only!

Friday- I posted more cute pictures of my cats as part of Cat Friday!

Saturday- I reviewed Undercurrent by Tricia Rayburn, which is out in stores now!

Please comment if you can on Withering Tights and my interview with Sarah Porter, as both have received no/very little love!!

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Undercurrent by Tricia Rayburn

Undercurrent by Tricia Rayburn
"The sirens are back, but Vanessa may be the biggest threat of all. . . .

Nothing has been normal since Vanessa Sands learned that her sister was murdered by sirens—femme fatales of the watery depths—and that everything she believed about her family was a lie.

Her boyfriend Simon’s been the only person Vanessa feels she can really trust. But now there are some secrets she can’t tell even him. And when Vanessa finds herself in the sights of Parker, Hawthorne Prep’s resident charmer, she needs someone to confide in more than ever. Doubting her relationship with Simon, unsure of Parker’s intentions—and of her own—and terrified by what she’s learned about herself, Vanessa has never felt so alone.

But personal problems must be put aside, because the Winter Harbor sirens are back for revenge. Now, Vanessa must face her past and accept that she is just like her enemies—every bit as alluring, every bit as dangerous."- summary from Amazon

I was really excited to read this sequel because I loved the first book, Siren. However, upon starting the book, it was pretty slow and not a lot happened. There's the occasional event that would pique my interest and keep me reading but it was mainly about Vanessa's day-to-day life and her romantic life. It wasn't until about halfway through the book that it all got more intense and there were some twists and turns as Vanessa learned more about her birth mother and was dealing with the siren threat. Once that occurred, the pages seriously flew by and I finished about 150+ pages in 2 hours.

Vanessa falls prey to the Second Book Syndrome (would link to a post about it but can't seem to find it!) though I would say she has more of a reason to do so than other paranormal heroines but it still wouldn't hurt for some communication to happen. Second Book Syndrome is all about breaking up the couple that got together in Book 1 and keeping them apart for the majority of Book 2 and bringing them back together at the end after a big climax. But the upside is that Vanessa isn't 100% mopey about it because new interest Parker is on the scene and livens things up.

Overall, though I don't usually do stars, this would come in at 3.5 stars. The second half really saves this book as the first half doesn't do a good job of pacing things well. I do also still enjoy these characters and the world that Rayburn has built, which gets expanded in this book as Vanessa finds out more about her past and her powers as a siren. The ending is a bit vague though the end result seems to indicate that there shouldn't be anything else going on, but there is another book in the series coming, so I don't know. But if you're into sirens or have already read the first book and liked it, definitely pick this up.

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

Friday, July 15, 2011

Cat Friday (17)

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.

and here's a closeup of Farley under the covers-

In the first picture on the left is Meeko. On the right is Farley who had burrowed her way under the covers, which she's done a couple times since I took this photo a couple months ago. It's the cutest thing though I have no idea how she does it, lol. Cats always find a way to do what they want, I guess.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Dark Parties by Sara Grant review + giveaway!

Dark Parties by Sara Grant
"In a world shrouded in fear and lies, how can you shed light on the truth?

Sixteen-year-old Neva lives in Homeland, an isolated country separated from the rest of the world by the Protectosphere. The government insists there’s nothing beyond its borders, but as Homeland’s resources dwindle, people, girls mainly, have started to go missing. If there’s no way out of the Protectosphere, where are they going? Suspecting the government is lying about everything, Neva and her friends stage a Dark Party in the hope of uncovering the truth and finding the freedom they dream about."- summary provided by Big Honcho Media

I feel bad for saying this but I had no idea this was a dystopian until I started reading it. I hadn't even glanced at the summary. I thought it was a paranormal book based on the title and cover, both of which don't really seem to say dystopian.

But anyway, this was a really good book. I really liked how Grant built this world and it feels like it could actually happen. Neva's adventures are compelling and there are some fantastic twists and turns throughout the book, though particularly toward the end.

Characterization is a bit on the low side. I didn't really connect too much with the characters, other than in the fact that what the government is doing is COMPLETELY wrong and insane. So if that connection is something you need to enjoy a book, this may not be for you. The book is definitely more plot-driven.

I assume there will be more books past this one because the ending is a bit open-ended and I really hope it doesn't end here, but I haven't heard any official word. Overall though, this is a really well-written dystopian that tugs the reader along at a fast pace. It's very enjoyable!

Thanks to Little, Brown and Big Honcho Media, I have two copies of Dark Parties to give away. If my review wasn't enough to sway you, you can also read an excerpt online before entering! All you have to do is leave a comment on this post by Friday, July 22 at 9pm EST. US residents only! Good luck to all!

The resistance has staged its first Dark Party. Listen in now and share with it your friends. Join the resistance!

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

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Author Interview- Sarah Porter

1) How did you get the idea for Lost Voices?

It came from a bunch of places, really. I used to have recurring dreams about being a mermaid swimming under these gritty, industrial docks. (You'll see the influence of those dreams in the third volume of the trilogy.) Then there was an extremely crazy story I wrote in graduate school, about ex-human mermaids who could tunnel through earth as well as swim in water, and who stole little girls from their families. And there was story I made up with a friend, about a punk mermaid who lived isolated from the others. All that came together in the book!

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

Well, it didn't come as that much of a surprise because I'd already had phone conversations with editors at a couple of publishing houses that were interested, and I'd made some revisions in response to their ideas. I was extremely nervous because there was a two week period when I knew something was about to happen, but I didn't know exactly what it would be. I'm thrilled that I ended up with Harcourt. They're wonderful and very supportive of the book/series. They know it's a little bit off the beaten track, but I think that's what they appreciate about it. My husband Todd and I went out for dinner somewhere awesome once the official email came.

3) I absolutely love cats and own quite a few. Your bio mentions that you have two cats named Jub Jub and Delphine. How did you get them, and do you have any funny stories about them?

They were feral kittens born in a yard in Queens, rescued by the lovely couple who lived there. Todd and I had just moved in together, and we'd been checking online for free kittens. We went out to meet them--there were four in the litter, only five weeks old--and within seconds Jub Jub was crawling inside Todd's collar and purring up a storm. There was no way we weren't going home with him! Delphine was more standoffish, but she caught our attention because she was stalking around in this very stylish, big-bad-queen-of-the-jungle way. Now she's just as loving as Jubby, but it took a while.

As for funny stories, well, there was the time Delphine ate a lot of Todd's boxers and threw up on the rest of his underwear. I thought that was pretty funny.

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

Cherry, for sure. It's also my favorite kind of pie.

5) You teach creative writing workshops in New York public schools. How did you get involved with that? What do you enjoy most about teaching? Is there anything you enjoy least about it?

It might be hard to answer this briefly! I wasn't sure how to make a living, and I decided that since the things I cared about most were literature and kids I should try to put them together. I went back to college and invented my own major, all about children's writing and the development of creativity and also writing about childhood. I was lucky enough to start getting work right away.

As for what I enjoy most, it's the experience of finding genius everywhere. If you challenge kids, there's an incredible spark that flares up all over the place. I've seen third graders, eighth graders, write lines that I think are as beautiful and profound as anything in literature. Before I taught, I had a much narrower view of what genius was: that there were just a few very special people, separate from the rest of us.

The hard part is that I'm often working in sort of tough schools. A lot of the kids don't believe they have much future, or that something like college would be possible for them. It's pretty heartbreaking to see kids who do have that kind of raw genius and realize that way too many of them are probably not going to realize their potential.

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

China Mieville's Embassytown. It's amazing, lusciously inventive and insightful and oddly sweet. I'd say it's definitely his best since Iron Council, which I also loved.

I've been nibbling away at a disappointing history of naval warfare, too, but it's not that informative and I might drop it.

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

I'm working on the third volume of the Lost Voices Trilogy. It's hard to say much without spoiling the story, because Luce is a long way from Alaska now, and everything the mermaids take for granted has been turned inside out. But I'm very proud of her and of how far she's come; she hasn't had any easy time, and the challenges she's up against now are even bigger.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Withering Tights by Louise Rennison

Withering Tights by Louise Rennison
"Wow. This is it. This is me growing up. On my own, going to Performing Arts College. This is good-bye, Tallulah, you long, gangly thing, and hellooooo, Lullah, star of stage.

Tallulah Casey is ready to find her inner artist. And some new mates. And maybe a boy or two or three.

The ticket to achieving these lofty goals? Enrolling in a summer performing arts program, of course. She's bound for the wilds of Yorkshire Dales—eerily similar to the windswept moors of Wuthering Heights. Tallulah expects new friends, less parental interference, and lots of drama. Acting? Tights? Moors? Check, check, check.

What she doesn't expect is feeling like a tiny bat's barging around in her mouth when she has her first snog."- summary from Amazon

Withering Tights was an amazing book. I've been really excited for this book since I found out about it last summer when it was released in the UK. Rennison is a truly gifted writer and I love reading every book she puts out. Her humor is just so hilarious and there's a laugh on every page.

Tallulah is a wonderful character and though there's a similar Rennison style to the writing, the humor that comes from Tallulah is a bit different from Georgia. It's a kind of new side and it was fun to read that. There is of course a huge, wacky cast of characters that are around, and I loved Tallulah's new friends, her performing arts school teachers, and the hot boys. I preferred Alex the most, with Charlie a close second even with the twist at the end.

I also like how the book ended on a definite note because I do remember a time when I finished a Georgia book and was very upset at the huge cliffhanger she had. I absolutely want to read more and want the second book now but it's not necessarily a dire need to find out what happens next. It's more about wanting to spend more time with these characters and luckily, there's two more books on the horizon.

Overall, a fantastically funny book about growing up and having to deal with the usual issues as well as attending a performing arts school. Definitely a book to check out if you're looking for a light read this summer. There's also a glossary included in the back of the book as usual for the terms that Americans don't know (or that anyone doesn't know because they do make up some words).

FTC: Received ARC from Kristi of The Story Siren- thanks Kristi! Link above is an Amazon Associate link; any profit goes toward funding contests.

Monday, July 11, 2011

Unfriended by Katie Finn

Unfriended by Katie Finn

"Madison MacDonald is glad things are back to normal!

Madison It’s SUMMER at last -- let the good times & pool parties roll!
Location: Putnam Beach. Putnam, CT.

Madison My friends are all together again, and Nate and I are better than ever. Finally, everything in my life is working out. :)
Location: Gofer Ice Cream. Putnam, CT

Madison Even though Nate will be leaving for college in the fall.
Location: New Canaan Drive-In. New Canaan, CT.

Madison And there’s a piece of me that’s still waiting for the other shoe to drop from the prom heist.
Location: Stubbs Coffee. Putnam, CT.

Madison But everything is going to be fine! Right?
Location: On A Blender Smoothie Shop. Putnam, CT.

Madison Oh. Maybe I should take that back --
Location: Undisclosed


Madison MacDonald thinks the other shoe just dropped."- summary from Amazon

This is such a fun series and one that's hard to put down. I literally had to force myself to stop reading one night so I wasn't up all night finishing it. I love coming back to Madison and her friends and all the crazy things that happen in her life. This one is more prose than the previous two, though it's still got the fun status updates sprinkled throughout.

I was really wondering how Madison was going to get out of this because it seemed very dire and impossible, but she pulled it off and it was fantastic. I loved it. Finn has such a fun, breezy way of writing that is very compelling.

Overall, this is a really fun series and they're great summer reads. I really hope this isn't it for Madison and her friends. I want to keep reading about them!!

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

Saturday, July 9, 2011

Lost Voices by Sarah Porter

Lost Voices by Sarah Porter
"Fourteen-year-old Luce has had a tough life, but she reaches the depths of despair when she is assaulted and left on the cliffs outside of a grim, gray Alaskan fishing village. She expects to die when she tumbles into the icy waves below, but instead undergoes an astonishing transformation and becomes a mermaid. A tribe of mermaids finds Luce and welcomes her in—all of them, like her, lost girls who surrendered their humanity in the darkest moments of their lives. Luce is thrilled with her new life until she discovers the catch: the mermaids feel an uncontrollable desire to drown seafarers, using their enchanted voices to lure ships into the rocks. Luce possesses an extraordinary singing talent, which makes her important to the tribe—she may even have a shot at becoming their queen. However her struggle to retain her humanity puts her at odds with her new friends. Will Luce be pressured into committing mass murder?"- summary from Amazon

I really enjoyed this book, though it was a bit slow at times in comparison to other YA paranormals. The writing is very atmospheric and I love the world that Porter brings to life in this book. I'd never read a mermaid book that dealt with their singing and luring people into the sea (and it's not a case of mistaking sirens for mermaids, like I thought, because after a bit of research, I saw that mermaids do this as well). The hierarchy dynamic too was really interesting and seeing it being shaken up halfway through the novel was a nice twist.

I liked reading a bit of Luce's pre-mermaid life in the beginning. It really helped me get to know her better, along with the flashbacks to her life as a younger child with her dad. Luce was nicely flawed but also fiercely loyal. I just loved her character and many of the others. Anais is not one of the ones I loved; I pretty much constantly wanted to slap her.

The ending was pretty quiet. There isn't a huge cliffhanger, though I do want to read the next book as soon as possible to see what happens. It's not a flashy kind of ending, like some books can have and they are nice, but sometimes it's a nice change of pace to have a more subtle ending.

Overall, a really good, well-written debut with depth and if you're looking for a different take on mermaids, this is the book for you.

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

Friday, July 8, 2011

Cat Friday (16)

This week's Cat Friday is a series of two pictures that I like to call "Samson in Boxes". Enjoy.

I must say that I really enjoy his expression in the second photo. It feels like he's trying to say "You're really going to take a photo of this?"

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Things We Didn't Say by Kristina Riggle

Things We Didn't Say by Kristina Riggle
"What goes unsaid can sometimes speak the loudest . . .

What makes up a family? For Casey it's sharing a house with her fiancÉ, Michael, and his three children, whom she intends to nurture more than she ever took care of herself. But Casey's plans have come undone. Michael's silences have grown unfathomable and deep. His daughter Angel seethes as only a teenage girl can, while the wide-eyed youngest, Jewel, quietly takes it all in.

Then Michael's son, Dylan, runs off, and the kids' mother, a woman never afraid to say what she thinks, noisily barges into the home. That's when Casey decides that the silences can no longer continue. She must begin speaking the words no one else can say. She'll have to dig up secrets—including her own—uncovering the hurts, and begin the healing that is long overdue. And it all starts with just a few tentative words. . . ."- summary from Amazon

This is my first Kristina Riggle book, but I have a feeling it won't be my last. I really enjoyed reading this book and Riggle has such a way with her characters that gets the reader so absorbed in their story. It was also nice how she told the story through multiple perspectives, though it's mostly focused on Casey and Michael, flipping back and forth between the two with the occasional chapter from one of the three children and from Mallory at various points in her life. It really gives insight into all of them, especially Mallory because it humanizes her a bit (only a bit though- she's still extremely crazy and needs help). She has a good handle on each of her characters and makes each of their voices unique.

The mystery of where Dylan went kept the pages turning. It was interesting to see how his running away brought all the secrets out and gets everybody thinking about their lives and how they conduct them. Riggle keeps the story flowing with the mystery and the secrets being revealed while balancing it with introspection and does it very well.

Overall, a really good adult novel that might have some crossover appeal with older teenagers. I definitely need to check out Riggle's other books.

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

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Waiting on Wednesday- The Probability of Miracles by Wendy Wunder

"Dry, sarcastic, sixteen-year-old Cam Cooper has spent the last seven years in and out of hospitals. The last thing she wants to do in the short life she has left is move 1,500 miles away to Promise, Maine - a place known for the miraculous events that occur there. But it's undeniable that strange things happen in Promise: everlasting sunsets; purple dandelions; flamingoes in the frigid Atlantic; an elusive boy named Asher; and finally, a mysterious envelope containing a list of things for Cam to do before she dies. As Cam checks each item off the list, she finally learns to believe - in love, in herself, and even in miracles.

A debut novel from an immensely talented new writer, The Probability of Miracles crackles with wit, romance and humor and will leave readers laughing and crying with each turn of the page."- summary from Goodreads

I've been excited for this book since I first saw it in Penguin's Fall 2011 catalog earlier this year. It just sounds really good and interesting. Plus, the main character is sarcastic and I love that in a book. This comes out on December 8th, 2011.

What are you all waiting on this week?

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Sometimes It Happens by Lauren Barnholdt

Sometimes It Happens by Lauren Barnholdt
"On the last day of her junior year, Hannah's boyfriend Ryan dumped her. Facing a summer of loneliness, Hannah turns to her best friend Ava for comfort. Ava does what BFFs do: she stays by Hannah's side...until it's time for Ava to head up to Maine for the summer. Also left behind is Ava's boyfriend, Noah, who's such a great guy he gets Hannah a job at the diner he waits tables at. Slowly, Hannah comes out of her funk thanks to Noah's good conversation and their fun times at the diner. But things get complicated when their friendship turns into attraction--and one night, into a passionate kiss. The novel opens on the first day of senior year; the day Hannah is going to see Ava, Ryan, and Noah all in one place. Over the course of the day secrets and betrayals are revealed, and alliances are broken and reformed. In the end, everyone is paired up once again, but not the way you might think..."- summary from Amazon

It has been too long since I've read a book from Lauren Barnholdt. I've only read her debut Reality Chick (now repackaged as Watch Me) when it first came out and loved it. I have four of her other books (bought three of them) but haven't had the time to read them. I need to make that time because reading this reminded me of why I love Barnholdt.

This story was really compelling and Hannah has a wonderful, realistic voice. I also really liked how Barnholdt constructed the story, which bounces back and forth between the summer and the first day of school (though there's also a bit of the last day before summer in the beginning). It was interesting to be kept in the dark of what exactly happened that night.

I loved the interactions between Hannah and Noah throughout the summer. There was such an easy chemistry between them. I also liked Hannah's new friend Lacey that she makes at the diner; she was so funny. I hated Ava- she was just so manipulative and b*tchy; who would want her as a friend? She was no fun. The climax of the book was fantastic and it ended really well and realistically. I loved it.

Overall, an amazing new novel from Barnholdt and a perfect read for the summer. Definitely one to check out!

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

Sunday, July 3, 2011

In My Mailbox- Week of June 26 + Retrospective

No vlog this week because I only got a few books but I'm really excited for them though!

Books Shown:

Dark Souls by Paula Morris (ARC- Aug 2011)
The Lying Game by Sara Shepard (hardcover- Dec 2010; from library)
Triangles by Ellen Hopkins (ARC- Oct 2011; yes, be jealous!)

and here's my retrospective-

Monday- I reviewed Forgotten by Cat Patrick and have a giveaway of 2 copies running until Tuesday, July 5 at 9pm EST, so be sure to enter!

Tuesday- I reviewed Trial by Fire by Jennifer Lynn Barnes, which is out in stores now!

Wednesday- I posted the 24th edition of Ask Book Chic, where I talk about what books my cats would like to read, the weirdest thing that happened to me, and advice about getting followers!

Thursday- I participated in a blog tour for Imaginary Girls by Nova Ren Suma, where I reviewed the book, had a guest blog by the author and am giving away a signed copy of the book! The contest ends July 8 at 9pm EST, so enter soon!

Friday- I posted this month's Fragment Friday, and I read from Lost Voices by Sarah Porter. If you participated in Fragment Friday in the past month, put your links in the Mr. Linky!

Saturday- I reviewed Overbite by Meg Cabot, which will be out in stores July 5!

Saturday, July 2, 2011

Overbite by Meg Cabot

Overbite by Meg Cabot
"Meena Harper has a special gift, but it’s only now that anyone’s ever appreciated it. The Palatine Guard—a powerful secret demon-hunting unit of the Vatican—has hired her to work at their new branch in Lower Manhattan. With Meena’s ability to predict how everyone she meets will die, the Palatine finally has a chance against the undead.

Sure, her ex-boyfriend was Lucien Anton­escu, son of Dracula, the prince of darkness. But that was before he (and their relationship) went up in flames. Now Meena’s sworn off vampires for good . . . at least until she can prove her theory that just because they’ve lost their souls doesn’t mean demons have lost the ability to love.

Meena knows convincing her co-workers—including her partner, Über-demon-hunter Alaric Wulf—that vampires can be redeemed won’t be easy . . . especially when a deadly new threat seems to be endangering not just lives of the Palatine, but Meena’s friends and family as well.

But Meena isn’t the Palatine’s only hope. Father Henrique—aka Padre Caliente—New York City’s youngest, most charming priest, has also been assigned to the case. So why doesn’t Meena— or Alaric—trust him? As she begins unraveling the truth, Meena finds her loyalties tested, her true feelings laid bare . . . and temptations she never even imagined existed impossible to resist.

This time, Meena may finally have bitten off more than she can chew."- summary from Amazon

This book was a perfect follow-up to Insatiable and is a fantastic roller-coaster of a ride. Cabot throws in tons of twists and turns, and I gasped a few times while reading this book. It's a difficult read to put down, as most of Cabot's books tend to be. There's just something so inviting and familiar about the voice Cabot uses for her heroines, which just sucks the reader into the story.

I loved revisiting these characters and I'm kinda sad to see them go after this book. There's such a definitive ending (though I won't go into details so as not to spoil anything) though I do hope Cabot comes back to them sometime in the future. My favorite characters are Jonathon, Meena's brother, and Alaric the vampire hunter. They're both just so funny and I love seeing them in scenes.

This book, like Insatiable, is also told from multiple perspectives though it's dialed back from the multitude in the first book. It's mainly just told from Meena, Lucien and Alaric's perspectives, with the very rare chapter or two featuring another character, like Jonathon.

Overall, another Cabot hit and I love the humor she infuses the book with, usually in regards to the whole vampire culture and cliches. It's a fun ride, so if you're looking for a vampire read that doesn't take itself too seriously, this is it.

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

Friday, July 1, 2011

Fragment Friday (July)- Lost Voices by Sarah Porter

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 August 5. Fragment Friday will now be held the first Friday of every month!

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 Lost Voices by Sarah Porter, which is out in stores July 5.

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