Family by Micol Ostow "i have always been broken. i could have. died. and maybe it would have been better if i had.
It is a day like any other when seventeen-year-old Melinda Jensen hits the road for San Francisco, leaving behind her fractured home life and a constant assault on her self-esteem. Henry is the handsome, charismatic man who comes upon her, collapsed on a park bench, and offers love, a bright new consciousness, and—best of all—a family. One that will embrace her and give her love. Because family is what Mel has never really had. And this new family, Henry’s family, shares everything. They share the chores, their bodies, and their beliefs. And if Mel truly wants to belong, she will share in everything they do. No matter what the family does, or how far they go.
Told in episodic verse, family is a fictionalized exploration of cult dynamics, loosely based on the Manson Family murders of 1969. It is an unflinching look at people who are born broken, and the lengths they’ll go to to make themselves “whole” again."- summary from Amazon
I've read a few books from Micol Ostow before and they are COMPLETELY different from this one (I feel like I've read one of her Charmed novels too- god, I love that show). Even though it's a complete 180, Ostow hits it out of the park. I really enjoyed the verse approach in this novel- it always seems to intensify the emotions going on. It flowed so well and really sucked me in; it was lyrical, descriptive, and sometimes a bit stream-of-consciousness, which I liked.
It's a weird thing but I'm a bit fascinated by the macabre; you'd never guess it from my fun, cute demeanor, but it's true. So when I saw what the book was about, I was intrigued. Ostow does a great job with her recreation of the Manson murders and the kind of people who would get involved in it. They're not bad people at all (well, some aren't) and there's so much you learn about them throughout the book.
Overall, this is a very emotional, intense verse novel and it was nice to see Ostow go in this direction and stretch herself as a writer.
FTC: Received ARC from publicist. Link above is an Amazon Associate link; any profit goes toward funding contests.
Trauma Queen by Barbara Dee "Every tween girl knows what it's like to have a mom who can be a little embarrasing at times. But for Marigold, it goes way beyond embarrassing. Marigold's single mom is a performance artist, meaning she stages dramatic, wacky performances to express her personal beliefs. Things like wrapping herself in saran wrap for a piece on plastic surgery, or inviting people over in the middle of the night to videotape her sleeping. In fact, Marigold's mom's performances caused such a ruckus in their last town that the two of them, along with Marigold's little sister, have just had to move.
Now Marigold's starting a new school, missing her best friend like crazy, and trying to fit in all over again in the shadow of a mom who's famous for all the wrong reasons. As if that's not bad enough, Marigold's mom takes on a new job--teaching drama at Marigold's school! Now all the kids know instantly just how weird her mom is, and Marigold's worried she'll never be able to have a friendship that can survive her mother."- summary from Amazon
What I love about middle-grade novels (among other things) is the inclusion of parents as so many seem to be missing in the YA section. Dee did a wonderful job with the mother-daughter relationship in this book, making it hilarious and heartfelt. I seriously giggled a lot while reading Marigold's story, especially regarding her mom's performances. I just loved it.
Dee really captures the voice of a 13 year old, which made the story even more compelling. Marigold is a fun narrator and I loved spending time in her world with her family and friends.
Overall, a very funny read and a realistic mother-daughter relationship (performance art aside). Definitely recommended.
Hello Gorgeous Book 1: Blowout by Taylor Morris "Now that she's had her thirteenth birthday, Mickey's finally old enough to work at her mother's super glam hair salon--Hello, Gorgeous! And true to the old cliche about people confiding in their hair stylists, Mickey starts getting an earful right off the bat. Customers love talking to her because she's so empathetic, but what happens when she starts getting overly involved in their dramas?"- summary from Amazon
It has been TOO LONG since I had a Taylor Morris book (her previous book came out in 2008) and I'm so glad that I can binge on three of them in a month. Blowout and its sequel Foiled are already out in stores, and BFF Breakup will be out May 10. Today though, I'm talking about Blowout, the first in a four-book series set around a girl working in her mother's salon. I don't think I've ever read a book set in a salon and now I kinda want to read more, lol. Morris sucked me in as usual with her fun prose and pitch-perfect voice and characterization.
Mickey is a great main character to read about and I enjoyed reading the start of her saga at the salon. I flew through this book really quickly and I'm eager to read the sequels. Morris has a great eye for writing about pre-teen problems, though many of them are timeless- how to make friends properly (and keep the ones you already have), gossiping and eavesdropping is not good, and trying to make your parents proud. These things pop up no matter how old you are, which makes this a fun read for people of all ages.
I also love that Mickey's best friend is a boy and that she plays video games and is really good at them. I loved all the characters in this book and it's going to be fun revisiting them in the sequels.
Overall, a fun series debut that I highly recommend (along with Morris' other books).
FTC: Received Trauma Queen final pb from author and Blowout ARC from publisher (with help from author!). Links above are Amazon Associate links; any profit goes toward funding contests.
The Dead Tossed Waves by Carrie Ryan "Gabry lives a quiet life, secure in her town next to the sea and behind the Barrier. She's content to let her friends dream of the Dark City up the coast--home is all she's ever known and all she needs for happiness.
But life after the Return is never safe.
Gabry's mother thought she left her secrets behind in the Forest of Hands and Teeth, but like the dead in their world, secrets don't stay buried. And now, Gabry's world is crumbling.
In one reckless moment, half of Gabry's generation is dead, the other half imprisoned.
Now Gabry knows only one thing: if she has any hope of a future, she must face the forest of her mother's past."- summary from Amazon The Dark and Hollow Places by Carrie Ryan "There are many things that Annah would like to forget: the look on her sister's face when she and Elias left her behind in the Forest of Hands and Teeth, her first glimpse of the horde as they found their way to the Dark City, the sear of the barbed wire that would scar her for life. But most of all, Annah would like to forget the morning Elias left her for the Recruiters.
Annah's world stopped that day and she's been waiting for him to come home ever since. Without him, her life doesn't feel much different from that of the dead that roam the wasted city around her. Then she meets Catcher and everything feels alive again.
Except, Catcher has his own secrets -- dark, terrifying truths that link him to a past Annah's longed to forget, and to a future too deadly to consider. And now it's up to Annah -- can she continue to live in a world drenched in the blood of the living? Or is death the only escape from the Return's destruction?"- summary from Amazon
I read both of these books back-to-back because well, I needed to, lol. Each of the books are companion novels rather than direct sequels but it does help to read them in the order they were published in, especially the second and third books.
I like to call these books "literary novels that include zombies" because it's true. Yes, there are zombies in these books (known as Unconsecrated or Mudo) but it's not strictly a zombie book. It's really more about the human condition to survive, and deals with love, loss, inner turmoil, guilt, and a myriad of other emotions and situations. Ryan does a wonderful job of fleshing out all her characters, giving them backstories and motives as to why they act the way they do. The characters are the main thing that keeps me reading these books.
But Ryan's prose is just as mesmerizing- the way she writes everything, whether it's a love scene, an action scene, or an emotional scene, is just captivating. The action scenes don't feel out of place nor does the style change when they pop up in the story, but they still feel realistic and make my heart pound.
Overall, Ryan has an amazing trilogy under her belt now and I'm excited to see where she goes next. If you haven't read these books yet, you must do so as soon as possible. They're fantastic.
FTC: Received ARCs of each from publisher and Michelle of Hooked to Books, respectively. Links above are Amazon Associate links; any profit goes toward funding contests.
So over the weekend, I received my business cards! I did them at Vista Print myself, got the free shipping (which could mean 21 days until they arrive after being shipped), but they showed up in 11 days (and like 2 days after being shipped). I absolutely love them. I was a bit worried because things can look good on your computer but not in person, however they turned out really well. I couldn't even wait to take a picture of them with my regular digital camera so I took one with my cell phone and sent it to my blogger buddies Meaghan and Susan, who both texted back that they loved it. I also couldn't stop looking at my business cards- SO PRETTY! Anyway, here's a look at them. My roomie took the second picture below because she got a good look (well, the best that can be done when you're dealing with text) at the back of the card. I took the one on top of the front.
Has anyone else been ordering business cards for BEA? Did you do them on your own, or have someone else do them? I want to hear all about it!
Also, Kristi did a wonderful BEA questions post over the weekend for newbies- definitely check it out! I went for the first time last year so while I am not exactly a seasoned pro, I do know a few things so if anyone has any questions they'd like to ask in the comments, go ahead and do so and I'll tackle them next Monday! :)
Craig, for the first time in nearly a year, wakes up in Silver Spring, Maryland on October 2nd, 2002 to a house devoid of chirping, barking, and mewing. Between twilight and daylight, somehow his entire menagerie escaped. All the animals that he'd collected since his old boyfriend was dragged away to the psych ward. Gone.
Lio, the post-cancer kid transfer student from New York City, doesn't like to talk. But he does like Craig. His new therapist says he's "a little fucked up." Craig just says, if he has the time, could he help him put up posters?
At 5:20 PM, when their stack of posters is about halfway out and Lio surprises Craig with a kiss, the sniper shootings begin.
Ten people died in the D.C. sniper shootings. This is the story of two of the boys who didn't.
OK, I know it's weird to post a Waiting on Wednesday on a Sunday but I just don't have time to put this on a Wednesday and I don't want to wait to show off this book. I just found out about it last night. What happened was this- I was on Twitter and someone had retweeted one of Hannah's tweets about having been finagled out of an ARC by a family member. Then I read Hannah's bio and saw the title Gone Gone Gone which I remembered Scott Tracey tweeting about wanting it. So I go and look it up on GoodReads and after reading the summary, I was like "OMG WANT NOW!". Unfortunately, it doesn't come out until 2012 (maybe very early 2012 and they will have ARCs at BEA? Probably won't happen but I can hope- well, until someone smashes my dreams).
But I am excited for it because A) Gay main characters! B) with romance! and C) DC sniper shootings. Now, I'm not excited about the shootings because they were horrible and I lived in the area when they happened so that was not a fun time. But I've never seen them mentioned in a book so I want to see how Hannah deals with it.
So does anyone else want this book and is eagerly anticipating it and also wants to pester Simon and Schuster at BEA for it? I want to give them a business card of mine that says on the back- "Send me Gone, Gone, Gone by Hannah Moskowitz ARC as soon as it arrives!"
Maybe I will...
(Side note: I just saw the tagline on the cover below the title. Is that real? Or just a joke?)
Divergent by Veronica Roth "In Beatrice Prior's dystopian Chicago, society is divided into five factions, each dedicated to the cultivation of a particular virtue—Candor (the honest), Abnegation (the selfless), Dauntless (the brave), Amity (the peaceful), and Erudite (the intelligent). On an appointed day of every year, all sixteen-year-olds must select the faction to which they will devote the rest of their lives. For Beatrice, the decision is between staying with her family and being who she really is—she can't have both. So she makes a choice that surprises everyone, including herself.
During the highly competitive initiation that follows, Beatrice renames herself Tris and struggles to determine who her friends really are—and where, exactly, a romance with a sometimes fascinating, sometimes infuriating boy fits into the life she's chosen. But Tris also has a secret, one she's kept hidden from everyone because she's been warned it can mean death. And as she discovers a growing conflict that threatens to unravel her seemingly perfect society, she also learns that her secret might help her save those she loves… or it might destroy her."- summary from Amazon
I am so happy that my VA blogging buddy Susan sent me her extra copy of Divergent (plus yummy cookies!) because I LOVED this book. It is so hard to put down and the world-building is absolutely fantastic. I was sucked into this world and finished the book much faster than I thought I would (I feel overwhelmed when it comes to books longer than 400 pages, unless it's an Ellen Hopkins book).
Tris is a wonderful main character and I really enjoyed reading about her journey through the Dauntless world and all the obstacles and trials she had to overcome. I loved her voice too- Roth did a great job making it sound realistic. The other characters were equally entertaining too (or frustration-causing in the case of a couple characters) and fleshed out well.
There is of course the romance too, though it is not the main focus of the book so people who are only wanting a thrilling dystopian, you'll enjoy this book too. But the romance was done very well and took its time; I enjoyed the scenes Tris and Four had together. They're a great combo.
The whole book is thrilling, but the last 100 pages are action-packed and suspenseful so the pages will fly by. The ending was also very satisfying- the adventure in this book is complete, but there's still an overlying arc in the trilogy. I really like it when series writers do that; some questions are answered to satisfy you, but you're also left with some questions to make you eager for the next book.
Overall, a fantastic, thrilling debut and I cannot wait for the next two books in the trilogy and, honestly, anything else Roth writes in the future.
FTC: Received ARC from my friend Susan of Wastepaper Prose (THANKS!). Link above is an Amazon Associate link; any profit goes toward funding contests.
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.
Today I have a series of pictures, which probably won't happen often but I came across these the other night and thought they were funny.
- Cat in a bag is watching you!
- Cat in a bag is slowly coming out...
-Cat in a bag comes out and gets PWNED by another cat!
The cat in the bag is Farley, and the one on top of her is Meeko. Obviously she was fine and we just happened to catch a moment where she was meowing or had her mouth open or something. I love it. It actually reminds me of another photo we have of another cat which is absolutely hilarious- I hope I still have it... I'll show it next Friday!
Stay by Deb Caletti "Clara’s relationship with Christian is intense from the start, and like nothing she’s ever experienced before. But what starts as devotion quickly becomes obsession, and it’s almost too late before Clara realizes how far gone Christian is--and what he’s willing to do to make her stay.
Now Clara has left the city—and Christian—behind. No one back home has any idea where she is, but she still struggles to shake off her fear. She knows Christian won’t let her go that easily, and that no matter how far she runs, it may not be far enough...."- summary from Amazon
It took me a while to get through this book. Like, a LONG time. If you saw my GoodReads progress, you would tsk at me. It does not take me a month or so to read a book but it took a while for this to really grab my attention. The prose just didn't hook me- it just kind of meandered along until things got interesting around page 100. I did like how Caletti structured the book, going between past (Clara's time with Christian) and present (living elsewhere after everything went downhill).
What kept me going was the summary- the idea that we would get somewhere juicy. I wanted to see what had happened between Clara and Christian. Caletti doesn't hold back or romanticize obsession- she paints a realistic picture of what being in an emotionally abusive relationship means. It's a harrowing story.
I know a lot of people didn't like the romance that happened in the book but I actually liked it. I thought she was cautious enough and it helped her to realize not all guys are like Christian and to become herself again. She didn't jump right into it. I thought Caletti handled it realistically; it was very sweet too.
This is my first Caletti novel and for me at least, it was probably a 3 star kind of read. I may read more Caletti in the future, but I'm not exactly dying to, like I was when I finished my first Sarah Dessen or Meg Cabot novel.
FTC: Received eGalley from Simon and Schuster's Galley Grab. Link above is an Amazon Associate link; any profit goes toward funding contests.
So I'm really looking forward to BEA next month and I have some books that are on the top of my To-Get list. Here they are:
Lola and the Boy Next Door by Stephanie Perkins For budding costume designer Lola Nolan, the more outrageous, the outfit--more sparkly, more fun, more wild--the better. But even though Lola's style is outrageous, she's a devoted daughter and friend with some big plans for the future. And everything is pretty perfect (right down to her hot rocker boyfriend) until the dreaded Bell twins move back into the house next door.
When the family returns and Cricket--a gifted inventor and engineer-steps out from his twin sister's shadow and back into Lola's life, she must finally reconcile a lifetime of feelings for the boy next door. - I loved Anna and the French Kiss and have been so excited for this new novel from Stephanie Perkins. I will pester Penguin for this one.
13 Gifts by Wendy Mass When Tara, a self-proclaimed shrinking violet, steals the school mascot, a goat, in order to make some friends with the popular crowd and gets caught, she gets herself in a heap of trouble. In addition, her parents decide that instead of taking her on their summer trip to Madagascar to study the courtship rituals of the Bamboo Lemur, she must go stay with her aunt, uncle, and bratty cousin Emily St. Claire in Willow Falls. Tara thinks it's a good time to start over; she'll be turning 13 after all, so she might as well make the best of it and perhaps even attempt to break out of her shell (in a non-criminal manner). What Tara doesn't know is that this charmed town has something big in store for her on her 13th birthday. It's not a typical birthday. But then again, nothing is Willow Falls is exactly typical! - I love love love Wendy Mass' books and am so excited she's doing a signing for this, which means no pestering, yay!
Witch Eyes by Scott Tracey Braden was born with witch eyes: the ability to see the world as it truly is: a blinding explosion of memories, darkness, and magic. The power enables Braden to see through spells and lies, but at the cost of horrible pain.
After a terrifying vision reveals imminent danger for the uncle who raised and instructed him, Braden retreats to Belle Dam, an old city divided by two feuding witch dynasties. As rival family heads Catherine Lansing and Jason Thorpe desperately try to use Braden's powers to unlock Belle Dam's secrets, Braden vows never to become their sacrificial pawn. But everything changes when Braden learns that Jason is his father--and Trey, the enigmatic guy he's falling for, is Catherine's son.
To stop an insidious dark magic from consuming the town, Braden must master his gift--and risk losing the one he loves. - Scott is doing a signing for this, so no pestering Flux, lol. I've been really excited for this book since I first heard about it sometime last year. It sounds so good!
Pawnee: The Greatest Town in America by Leslie Knope -- I don't have a description for this but it's a history of Pawnee, Indiana, the fictional town that the TV show Parks and Recreation takes place in. It has input from all the characters and a bunch of other fun stuff. I am SERIOUSLY excited for this book. I have no idea if it'll be at BEA, but I'm hoping at least a sampler will be put out. I will be pestering Hyperion for it, so be prepared whoever is manning that booth.
I'm also excited for Scorpio Races by Maggie Stiefvater but there's no cover or synopsis yet. :(
Boyfriends with Girlfriends by Alex Sanchez "Lance has always known he was gay, but he's never had a real boyfriend. Sergio is bisexual, but his only real relationship was with a girl. When the two of them meet, they have an instant connection--but will it be enough to overcome their differences?
Allie's been in a relationship with a guy for the last two years--but when she meets Kimiko, she can't get her out of her mind. Does this mean she's gay? Does it mean she's bi? Kimiko, falling hard for Allie, and finding it impossible to believe that a gorgeous girl like Allie would be into her, is willing to stick around and help Allie figure it out."- summary from Amazon
This was an enjoyable read, though characters didn't seem to act their age sometimes-the dialogue at times could be a bit immature for 17 year olds. But for the most part, Sanchez really captured what it's like to be a teen today in figuring out your sexual identity. It is a wonderful exploration of what it means to find out who you are sexually and that relationship problems are the same no matter if you're gay or straight.
Even though the dialogue could be a bit off, I really liked all four main characters and I became really engrossed in their story, finishing the book pretty quickly. I liked that Sanchez didn't hold back when it came to sex and the idea of previous partners, but also had characters who were relationship newbies (similar to how I was as a teen, and well kinda still am now, lol). It's a good representation of the world of teens today.
Overall, I'm so happy for a new Sanchez book and it's a good read, especially for those looking for a gay/lesbian/bisexual novel.
FTC: Received ARC from Meaghan of A Bookworm's Haven (YAY!)! Link above is an Amazon Associate link; any profit goes toward funding contests.
It is a half hour before this is set to post and I am tired so I unfortunately will not be continuing any sort of recommended reads for boys this week. I may do something next week regarding upcoming reads for boys to keep an eye out for.
But this week, I've got nothing really. I have way too many things to read and not enough time to do them in. I keep forgetting about an April or May release that I have; I'll think I have them all and then I come across something else that releases during that month and find I have nowhere to put it in my schedule. It's sad. I wish I could fit everything in. Having e-galleys makes it harder too because I can download books easily and then I forget about them sometimes. I don't have to see if any physical copies are available and if they'll send them to me. Plus, e-galleys expire so I need to get on reading them before that happens so then I'm in more of a frenzy trying to read and finish a book quickly.
I wish I could just READ. Just read all day, not have to worry about finding a job or paying the bills or whatever else life throws my way. It's one of those times I kinda wish I got paid to blog, and I mean more than the $10 from Google AdSense or Amazon Associates every two years. Like a steady income.
Anyway, since I'm talking about reading, here's what I plan on reading and reviewing soon. This week, I've got reviews for Boyfriends with Girlfriends by Alex Sanchez and Stay by Deb Caletti (yes, Gail, I finally finished it- just in the nick of time! It expires today, lol). I'm finishing up Dead Tossed Waves by Carrie Ryan and then will start reading Dark and Hollow Places and then review them together. To keep things light and fun, I'll also be reading Trauma Queen by Barbara Dee and Hello Gorgeous Book 1: Blowout by Taylor Morris.
As for my next e-galley to read, which should I choose? They all have 14 days left and they're the closest to expiring:
Angel Burn by L.A. Weatherly Die for Me by Amy Plum Starcrossed by Josephine Angelini
Side note: Do the Harper e-galleys bother anyone else? They're like in a funky format, at least in the program I use (Adobe Digital Editions)- no eReader for me (no job, remember?)
Anyway, cast your vote in the comments and I'll announce the winner in tomorrow's post. I'm excited to see what gets the most votes, lol.
Don't Stop Now by Julie Halpern (!!!!!!!) Through Her Eyes by Jennifer Archer (and bookmarks!) Huntress by Malinda Lo Moonglass by Jessi Kirby Everlost by Neal Shusterman Rotters by Daniel Kraus Faerie Winter by Janni Lee Simner Flip by Martyn Bedford Jasper Jones by Craig Silvey The Apothecary by Maile Meloy The Rites and Wrongs of Janice Wills by Joanna Pearson Unfriended: A Top 8 Novel by Katie Finn (!!!!!!!!) Pretty Bad Things by C.J. Skuse Beauty Queens by Libba Bray Haven by Kristi Cook (From library)
Shine by Lauren Myracle "When her former best friend, Patrick, is found near death, tied to the pump of the local gas station, sixteen-year-old loner Cat is forced into action. The local sheriff blames out-of-towners, but Cat knows someone in their tightly-knit Southern community is guilty of the crime. And only she has the will- and the fury fueled by a still raw wound- to find him."-summary from back of ARC
I was a bit worried to read this because it's so different from what Myracle's written before, but I shouldn't have been because it's absolutely amazing. The setting of the book is done so well and makes the book feel very atmospheric. There are quite a few issues brought up in the book, such as poverty, hate crimes, homophobia, loss, and love, all of which Myracle handles deftly and realistically.
The mystery pulled me through the book, and Myracle had me suspecting several people so I could never be sure who was behind it. I will say though that halfway through the book, I had a feeling who it was and I was right (the motive I also guessed too), which NEVER happens. But even so, I enjoyed reading the book and it ended on a hopeful note, which I loved. The climax was heart-poundingly suspenseful.
All of the characters were fully fleshed out and just leapt off the pages. Cat was a fantastic main character and her interactions with the rest of the characters was great. I especially enjoyed seeing her relationship develop with Jason.
Overall, this is a must-read book- it's raw, realistic, and just deserves to be read by everyone. I am extremely proud of Lauren for writing this book because it needs to be told, especially in these times.
FTC: Received ARC from publisher (with help from Lauren!). Link above is an Amazon Associate link; any profit goes toward funding contests.
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 absolutely love today's picture- it's the daddy Samson hugging his son Meeko a bit (the one taken right before this had both his front paws around Meeko) and you can see a bit of red where Samson is licking his son. Meeko just loves the attention; he usually does and just lays back, taking it and purring. So cute!
Where She Went by Gayle Forman ***SPOILERS FROM IF I STAY ARE IN THIS REVIEW, SO GO READ IF I STAY THEN COME BACK!*** "It's been three years since the devastating accident . . . three years since Mia walked out of Adam's life forever.
Now living on opposite coasts, Mia is Juilliard's rising star and Adam is LA tabloid fodder, thanks to his new rock star status and celebrity girlfriend. When Adam gets stuck in New York by himself, chance brings the couple together again, for one last night. As they explore the city that has become Mia's home, Adam and Mia revisit the past and open their hearts to the future and each other."- summary from Amazon
I've been really excited to read Where She Went since it was announced because I absolutely loved If I Stay, and wanted to see how the story continued. Sequels can be hard to write, but Forman knocked it out of the park. Reading from Adam's perspective was so emotional, so raw, and it just felt so real. I was sucked into this storyline because of his voice.
I also loved how Forman told the story- there are flashbacks every so often that show how much Adam loves Mia, how it felt when he almost lost her to death, and then lost her for real when they were separated by distance. And then there's the present day with Adam and Mia spending one last night together before they go their separate ways on their respective music tours.
Overall, it's simply a magical, lyrical, emotional read and I highly recommend it to everybody.
FTC: Received ARC (signed!) from publisher. Link above is an Amazon Associate link; any profit goes toward funding contests.
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!
jacque asks "What book would you recommend to younger male readers to encourage reading?
What do you do with your books when you are finished reading them?
Would you rather read a blog or see a vlog from other reading bloggers?"
1) It's funny that this question came up when it did because I've been talking about books boys should read lately. Check out Part 1, Part 2, and Part 3. You can use your own judgment when choosing what books to give to younger male readers. I'd also suggest the Harry Potter series, Rick Riordan's books, A Difficult Boy by M.P. Barker, Gollywhopper Games and Seventh Level by Jody Feldman and um... that's kinda the extent of my knowledge of middle-grade male literature, lol. Anyone else have any suggestions?
2) I put them away usually. I know that sounds like a smart-ass answer but it's true! I keep my ARCs cuz I usually have nowhere to give them to and I can't just be holding tons of contests all the time. Therefore I have books all over the floor and in my closet and just everywhere. I do also get hardcovers and paperbacks so I donate those to my library when I'm done with them and that helps.
3) I love seeing both! Vlogs are very fun every once in a while but it can be time-consuming for the reader, so keep them to a minimum if you do them (1 or 2 a week, I'd say). But I love seeing bloggers' unique and various writing styles too. But since vlogs are time-consuming, I do prefer reading over watching.
Sarah asks "Do you like to buy finished copies of books even if you already have ARCs of them?"
I don't. I wish I could but I simply don't have the funds to buy books I already have. If the ARC doesn't have the cover, I will probably buy it eventually but I'd give away the ARC so I don't have duplicates. I have no room!
It's a new semester at the Chadwick School, and even with the ankh tattoos that brand them, Phoebe, Nick, Lauren, and Patch are hoping for a fresh start. Each day, however, they are reminded of their membership as new Conscripts in the Society. The secret group that promised to help them achieve their every dream has instead turned their lives into a nightmare.
Exclusive membership lost its luster as the Society revealed its agenda to them and two of their classmates were found dead. Now they can't help but wonder: Who's next? While they search for the elusive truth about the Society, the Conscripts are forced to face their darkest fear—that they truly can't get out.
Will Nick and Phoebe's new relationship endure this strain? Can Patch and Nick's longtime friendship survive the truth that will come to light? The deceptions of the group's leaders, once trusted friends, and family will test these four as they fight to leave the Society behind."- summary from Amazon
I absolutely loved the first book in this series, Secret Society, and it's been a long wait to find out what happens next. It was worth the wait. Even though it had been a while since I'd read the first book (Sept. 2009), Dolby caught me up easily with everything that had happened.
What really intrigues me is the whole idea of a secret society, especially when it also includes some Egyptian mythology, so these books are right up my alley. I also really enjoy the four main voices in the book (and an occasional fifth, Thad) and Dolby separates them well.
Some serious stuff goes down in this book and it really kept the pages flipping. I would find myself having read 80 pages in like half an hour, which never happens. The ending was great and for me, it was satisfactory. I know there's more books coming because there is more to tell and uncover, but I felt like there wasn't this huge cliffhanger, which helps because then I didn't have to shout at the book (yes, I've done this before).
Overall, a thrilling sequel in a fascinating series. It's fun reading about rich people in secret societies doing dastardly things! Definitely check this series out!
FTC: Received ARC from publisher. Link above is an Amazon Associate link; any profit goes toward funding contests.
So today I've got my GLBT list, as well as links to other lists and sites that are helpful.
In Part 1, I mentioned some of my picks for an initial sampling of gay YA literature. To reiterate them, I recommended Geography Club (and its sequels, Order of the Poison Oak and Splitscreen) by Brent Hartinger, Boy Meets Boy by David Levithan, and Rainbow Boys (and its sequels, Rainbow High and Rainbow Road) by Alex Sanchez. To me, these are the big 3 because they were my first gay reads as well as the first mainstream reads to make it big (well, as big as gay YA can get, especially at that time). David Levithan has continued to write some wonderful novels featuring gay teens, such as Wide Awake (which I adored!) and How They Met (and Other Stories). Along with these, he's written novels with Rachel Cohn, all of which feature gay teens, even if they're not the main character- Nick and Norah's Infinite Playlist, Naomi and Ely's No-Kiss List (Ely is gay), and Dash and Lily's Book of Dares. There's also the massive hit he co-wrote with John Green, Will Grayson Will Grayson, which is newly out in paperback. It is AMAZING.
Brent Hartinger also has a new gay book out called Shadow Walkers, which I enjoyed though it did have some flaws. But his Russel Middlebrook series that I talked about above is one of my favorites. Alex Sanchez also has Getting It, So Hard to Say (gay middle-grade!), The God Box (balancing sexuality with religion), and his upcoming novel Boyfriends with Girlfriends (April 26). OK, on to some other novels and authors I enjoy. One of my favorite gay reads from the past few years is Straight Road to Kylie by Nico Medina. It caught my attention because of Kylie in the title and I thought to myself "Is it talking about Kylie Minogue?" Because the name Kylie is like NEVER used, except when referring to her. Looking at the summary confirmed it and I bought it. It was an amazing book. I've been waiting for a new book from him since his second book, Fat Hoochie Prom Queen, was released in 2008. Come on, Nico!!
Some other great gay books I've liked include Freak Show by James St. James, Another Kind of Cowboy by Susan Juby, Band Fags! by Frank Anthony Polito (there's also a companion book called Drama Queers I have yet to read), Out of the Pocket by Bill Konigsberg (gay football player!), The Vast Fields of Ordinary by Nick Burd and What They Always Tell Us by Martin Wilson. If you like mysteries with your gay teens, check out the Killian Kendall mysteries by Josh Aterovis. There are four books so far- Bleeding Hearts, Reap the Whirlwind, All Lost Things and The Truth of Yesterday. I haven't read these but heard some great things about Dream Boy by Jim Grimsley, Sprout by Dale Peck, Hero by Perry Moore as well as The Trouble Boy by Tom Dolby. Tom's YA novels Secret Society and The Trust have a gay character but you don't see much of him.
I also LOVED I Am J by Cris Beam, which I think everyone should read but teen boys would probably benefit from it. It's a great book that really explains what it means to be transgendered. I'm also excited for Witch Eyes by Scott Tracey, which is coming out from Flux this September. It looks so good and I can't wait to get it. I am missing tons of books, I know, including some I've probably read, so please leave suggestions in the comments. I've also gathered together a few links to help you choose other reads I may have missed:
I got a bunch of awesome books in the past couple weeks so I'm showing them off in this vlog.
America Pacifica by Anna North (ARC, May 2011) Trauma Queen by Barbara Dee (Paperback, April 2011) Rage by Jackie Morse Kessler (Paperback, April 2011) Dreamland Social Club by Tara Altebrando (ARC, May 2011) Imaginary Girls by Nova Ren Suma (ARC, June 2011) Luminous by Dawn Metcalf (ARC, June 2011) The Sweetest Thing by Christina Mandelski (Hardcover, May 2011) Between Here and Forever by Elizabeth Scott (ARC, May 2011) Almost Final Curtain by Tate Halloway (Paperback, May 2011) Wolfsbane by Andrea Cremer (ARC, July 2011) But I Love Him by Amanda Grace (Paperback, May 2011) Misfit by Jon Skovron (ARC, August 2011) Demonglass by Rachel Hawkins (Hardcover from library, March 2011)
The Lipstick Laws by Amy Holder "At Penford High School, Britney Taylor is the queen bee. She dates whomever she likes, rules over her inner circle of friends like Genghis Khan, and can ruin anyone's life with a snap of perfectly manicured fingers. Just ask the unfortunate few who have crossed her.
For April Bowers, Britney is also the answer to her prayers. April is so unpopular, kids don't even know she exists. But one lunch spent at Britney's table, and April is basking in the glow of popularity.
But Britney's friendship comes with a high price tag. How much is April willing to pay?"- summary from Amazon
Holder's debut is awesome. I love reading about mean girls but what I really loved about this novel is how realistic she makes these girls. They're given some backstory as to why they are the way they are rather than just have them be two-dimensional.
April was a great character with some flaws that I think will really make her relate to readers. Aside from all the meanness, there's also lots of humor in the book which I loved; it's very sarcastic. I especially enjoyed the parts with April and her new friends (not the mean girls). There was a small doubt I had with the romantic plot that I was concerned about (a cliche) but it worked itself out and I was happy.
Overall, just a very fun, smart debut and I can't wait to read more from Holder.
FTC: Received ARC through NetGalley. Link above is an Amazon Associate link; any profit goes toward funding contests.
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 April links into this Mr. Linky. Next month, the Fragment Friday date will be May 13.
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 Through Her Eyes by Jennifer Archer, which is out in stores now.
Hope you all enjoyed my fragment! Now link to yours!
1) How did you get the idea for The Lipstick Laws?
I knew I wanted to write a humorous story about the ups and downs of high school and the social hierarchies within it from the start. I had enough of my own teen ups and downs to provide inspiration. However, April’s voice (my main character) was the first part of the story that came to me, so she really prompted the whole storyline to evolve.
2) Tell us all about The Call/The Email! Where were you when you got it? Did you do anything to celebrate the sale?
I was in my office on the morning of May 6th 2009 when I received THE email about Houghton Mifflin Harcourt’s interest in acquiring THE LIPSTICK LAWS. I think I was too shocked to fully comprehend what was going on at first. Once it sunk in, I jumped up and down like a crazy loon, cried like a baby, called my parents ecstatically, and then printed out the email to keep with me at all times for the next several days…just to make sure it was real. Yes, the email turned me into an emotionally-crazed lunatic for about seventy two hours. I don’t think I’ve been the same since…
As far as celebrating goes, I've used all the different stages of my publishing experience as an excuse to celebrate...starting with the sale. Celebrating usually consists of good food and drinks (a clear violation of Lipstick Law #3) with family and friends.
3) You have a degree in psychology with a minor in sociology. What brought you to that area of study?
I’ve always been fascinated by the study of human behavior. I’m more comfortable observing rather than being the center of attention, so I think studying how other people behave, think and interact comes naturally to me. That interest automatically progressed to studying it in college. I like to think that my observations and degree also help me with my writing and character building.
4) What is your favorite Jelly Belly jelly bean flavor (or flavors, if you're so inclined)?
Hmmm… jelly beans aren’t typically my first candy choice, but I do love the Very Cherry & Chocolate Pudding Jelly Belly combination! Yummy nom-nom-nom-nom! (Note from BC: Did you all notice that Jennifer and Amy love the same Jelly Belly combo?)
5) In your bio, you mention that you own some animals. I love animals so tell me all about the ones you have!
Yay! I love other animal lovers! I could talk to animal lovers for hours and never get bored. Therefore, this answer will probably be longggg… hope you’re comfy. I have two dogs and two cats. They’re all rescue animals. Keara is a pit-bull basset hound mix (she has a pit-bull head with a very short, long body). I’m assuming there must have been some alcohol involved in that conception. Keara reminds me of Donkey from Shrek. She kind of looks like him….and she totally tries to talk like him! I adopted her from a pound in Pittsburgh on the day she was supposed to be euthanized when she was seven. She’s going on twelve now, and I can’t imagine my life without her! Spencer is a Pekingese… and he’s super adorable, easy going, sweet and partially blind (poor guy). I rescued him from a puppy mill situation where he was extremely underweight and neglected. He’s a very happy (well-fed) guy now! My two cats are named Jazz and Bugsy and they’re brothers. I like to refer to them as Double Trouble. They are from a litter of kittens from a stray mother cat that I rescued a couple years ago. I was able to find the mother cat and the two other kittens homes, but I kept the brothers. They are so fun and cuddly! I just love all of my animals! And I’ll stop now before I write a novella.
6) What advice do you have for aspiring writers?
My advice is to practice your writing craft daily, read the genre you want to write, study the publishing market, never give up, and network your arse off (networking may help you get out of the slush pile). I actually just wrote a blog post about this subject not too long ago over at the Class of 2k11 site. It's filled with lots of advice for aspiring writers from various 2k11 authors, if you'd like to check it out here: http://www.classof2k11.com/?p=1518
7) What book(s) are you reading right now, or are about to start?
I’ve been lucky to read many ARCs from my friends and fellow 2k11 authors. Most recently I’ve read OyMG by Amy Fellner Dominy, ILLEGAL by Bettina Restrepo, THE SWEETEST THING by Christina Mandelski, and BAD TASTE IN BOYS by Carrie Harris. I’m currently reading THE YEAR WE WERE FAMOUS by Carole Estby Dagg. I also have a ginormous TBR pile waiting for me to read, but I haven’t had much spare reading time lately with the craziness of my launch coming up. I’m hoping that will change soon.
The last place Tansy Piper wants to be is stuck in Cedar Canyon, Texas, in the middle of nowhere, with a bunch of small-town kids. But when her mother decides to move to the desolate West Texas town, Tansy has no choice but to go along. Once there, Tansy is immediately drawn to the turret of their rickety old house, a place she soon learns has a disturbing history. But it's the strange artifacts she finds in the cellar—a pocket watch, a journal of poetry, and a tiny crystal—that have the most chilling impact on her.
Tansy soon finds that through the lens of her camera, she can become part of a surreal black-and-white world where her life is intertwined with that of mysterious, troubled Henry, who lived in the same house and died decades earlier. It seems their lives are linked by fate and the artifacts she found, but as Tansy begins spending more and more time in the past, her present world starts to fade away. Tansy must untangle herself from Henry's dangerous reality—before she loses touch with her own life forever."- summary from Amazon
Archer's novel is just a wonderful YA debut. This is a spooky book and gets very creepy as the story goes on. I will admit that I was a tiny bit scared while reading the book, but then again, I'm easily scared.
The characters are fully fleshed out and have their own secrets and motives for how they act, which get revealed as the book goes on. Tansy was a wonderful main character and I really enjoyed reading her story. The voice was compelling, and she sounded very realistic. The setting is also completely realized and is almost its own character, and also really adds another layer to the townsfolk that Tansy meets and interacts with throughout the book.
Overall, this is definitely a book to check out if you're into creepy ghost stories.
FTC: Received ARC via Around the World tours. Link above is an Amazon Associate link; any profit goes toward funding contests.
I came up with the idea for Through Her Eyes several years ago when I was writing quirky adult paranormal romantic comedies (Wow! That’s a mouthful!) for the publisher Leisure/Lovespell. I was having a lot of fun writing those books, but I also wanted to write different kinds of stories. At the time, I often worked as a substitute teacher in the elementary schools where I live, and one day I was subbing in a 5th grade classroom when I picked up a copy of the classic, A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L'Engle. I began rereading it and became so engrossed I hated to put it down and go back to work. I had forgotten not only how much I loved that incredible story, but also how engaging young adult fiction can be. Soon after, I had a phone conversation with my literary agent about it, and she said she thought my writer’s voice is suited to the young adult market. So with that in mind, I went to bed that night and awoke the next morning with the bare bones for a YA plotline and the sixteen-year-old main character, Tansy, talking to me. She told me she was the new girl in town and she felt invisible at school, and I could very much relate to that, since I moved several times while growing up. I started thinking…what if Tansy started to fear that she was literally becoming invisible? So I decided to explore that scenario. Tansy also told me she was a photographer, and I was really psyched about that! I’m intrigued by how photographs capture a single moment in time, and I especially love really old photographs of people; when I look at them I always wish I could step into the moment that the camera snapped and know what was going on in their lives and what they were thinking. I incorporated my wish into the story by allowing Tansy to do just that.
2) Tell us all about The Call/The Email for Through Her Eyes! Where were you when you got it? Did you do anything to celebrate the sale?
It’s always exciting to get an offer on a book because then I know that my characters will get to live for other people besides me! I actually received offers from two different publishers for Through Her Eyes – one of them being Harper Teen. I was in my home office when my agent called with the news of the offer from Harper, and I remember saying, “No! They didn’t!” To which my agent replied, “Yes, they did.” And then I said again, “No! They didn’t!” And she calmly responded, “Yes, they did.” After that, I think we both squealed. I know I did, anyway! It was a great moment. Then we hung up, and I made some phone calls to family and friends. A lot of phone calls. That evening, my husband and I went to dinner, and as I recall, a bottle of wine was involved.
3) You've written quite a few novels of women's fiction. What prompted the change to Young Adult novels? Had you been a fan of YA before writing this book? Was there any difference in writing for teens as opposed to adults?
As I said, I simply wanted to write something different, and when I started reading teen fiction after a long stretch of not reading much of it, I really felt drawn to writing in that market. After the idea for Through Her Eyes took root in my mind and I began working on it, I was offered a contract for three mainstream women's fiction novels less romance-y than the novels I had written previously, so I wasn’t able to concentrate solely on writing Through Her Eyes. I worked on it sporadically when I had the time, and finally finished it. Six years passed during this period, and I wrote four more women's fiction novels and one novella before Through Her Eyes finally found a home at Harper Teen. Regarding writing for teens versus writing for adults – I don’t find the process to be that different. Every good story, no matter the genre or the targeted age-group of its readers – requires smart plotting, realistic characterization, and just the right pacing, among other things. The only real difference – and my greatest challenge – in writing for young adults was reconnecting with my own teen self and staying in tune with today’s teen culture.
4) What is your favorite Jelly Belly jelly bean flavor (or flavors, if you're so inclined)?
Oh, I’m definitely inclined. I’m a sucker for Cinnamon! However, I’ve found that if you pop a Chocolate Pudding and a Very Cherry in your mouth at the same time it sort of tastes like a chocolate covered cherry, and there’s no way I can resist that! The truth is, I have a sweet tooth, so I like most of the flavors. Except Black Licorice. And I stay away from the nasty flavors, like Barf. Barf-flavored jelly beans. Really? Really? Who eats these things?
5) Are you anything like your main character Tansy? How much of yourself do you put into your main character or even other characters?
I don’t know that I consciously give my characters my own personality traits, emotions, or experiences, but those elements do tend to slip in. I don’t usually notice until the book is written, however! I was a somewhat shy teenager, as Tansy is. (I’m still somewhat shy!) I moved a lot growing up, as she has. I could be moody and brooding, and so can she. But I would’ve never had the courage to wear something that made me stand out in the crowd, as Tansy does by wearing her grandfather’s old-fashioned hats. I wasn’t as cool as she is! In that regard, I was more like Bethyl Ann – except that I wasn’t as intellectual, I had more friends, and I didn’t quote Shakespeare. (Maybe I should say, misquote Shakespeare.) I hope I had more fashion sense than Bethyl Ann, too!
6) What advice do you have for aspiring writers?
Read, read, read. Write, write write. As much as you can. Make time for both reading and writing, even if you can only find a few minutes a day. After you read a book for pleasure, if it’s one you really love, read it again and this time pick it apart. Learn from that author how he/she built the story and created characters and structured sentences in a way that drew you in. Do the same thing with a book you didn’t like. Try to figure out why it didn’t appeal to you so you’ll know what to avoid in your own work. Practice, even if you don’t feel as if you know what you’re doing. You’ll learn. Writing as much as you can is the best way to discover and develop your writer voice.
7) What book(s) are you reading right now, or are about to start?
Though I’m never not reading a book, I only have time to devote about an hour a day to it, so I’m often reading books that were released a year or more ago. That’s the case with the three novels I’m taking on an upcoming trip. The first is a YA novel called A Northern Light by Jennifer Donnelly. It was published in 2004 and is a Printz Honor Book. (Printz Award for Excellence in Young Adult Literature). I’m very intrigued by the 1906 setting, and by the fact that secret letters play a part in the plotline. As you can most likely tell if you’ve read Through Her Eyes, I adore books about secret messages! The other two novels I’m taking on my trip are adult novels. The Lace Reader by Brunonia Barry, and Garden Spells by Sarah Addison Allen.
Thanks for allowing me to visit with you and your readers, James! It’s been fun.
For those who participate in Fragment Friday, the Mr. Linky will be posted next Friday, April 8, so bring your links from today when that goes up! I'll be featuring Through Her Eyes by Jennifer Archer and The Lipstick Laws by Amy Holder next week, so there aren't potential duplicates (Gail, I'm looking at you, lol).
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 just thought this was cute. Mother and daughter together and they look fairly similar!! This is Maya (the mother) and Khali (the daughter). I always love seeing the similar cats together- Maya and Khali, Samson and Meeko, and when we had both, Farley and Chance (they're twins).
Hope you all enjoyed this little Friday pick-me-up!
I'm a 30 year old male who started a book blog over on Myspace back in June 2007. I have since moved completely to Blogspot as of July 2009- feel free to follow me on here! I mainly review YA books, but will also do the occasional MG or adult title, as well as interview authors and sometimes have them guest blog.