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

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

The Lonely Hearts Club by Elizabeth Eulberg

The Lonely Hearts Club by Elizabeth Eulberg
"Penny is sick of boys and sick of dating, so she vows: No more. She’s had one too many bad dates, and has been hurt by one too many bad boys. It’s a personal choice…and soon everybody wants to know about it. It seems that Penny’s not the only girl who’s tired of the way girls change themselves (most of the time for the worse) in order to get their guys…or the way their guys don’t really care about them.

Girls are soon thronging to The Lonely Hearts Club (named after Sgt. Pepper’s band), and Penny finds herself near legendary for her non-dating ways – which is too bad, since the leader of The Lonely Hearts Club has found a certain boy she can’t help but like…"- summary from author website

I went through this book so quickly, I amazed myself, especially since I've been working late this week. I absolutely adored this book and would probably put it on a Best of '09 Books list if I were making such a list. I loved the emphasis put on friendships between girls, which can be lacking in many YA novels, even though many YA novels focus on girls. The concept was very original and I loved how the Lonely Hearts Club went from a lonely one member to a huge club and all that came along with that new-found popularity. Eulberg's characterization is spot-on as well and many of the characters were really well-written and fleshed out. Penny's voice was amazing and I loved how she felt like a real person, flaws and all. The romance was handled very well and it was interesting reading the journey between those two characters. This is such a wonderful, funny, and empowering book for really anybody, though especially girls. But the message of it is for anybody- don't lose sight of yourself or your friends when dating someone, just to make that one person happy; you need to do what's right for you and what makes you happy, not anyone else. So seriously, use your gift cards to buy this book- you won't be disappointed!

FTC: Recieved ARC from publisher. Amazon link is an Associate link; any profits from it go toward funding contests.

Monday, December 28, 2009

Magic Under Glass by Jaclyn Dolamore

Magic Under Glass by Jaclyn Dolamore
"Nimira is a foreign music-hall girl forced to dance for mere pennies. When wealthy sorcerer Hollin Parry hires her to sing with a piano-playing automaton, Nimira believes it is the start of a new and better life. In Parry's world, however, buried secrets are beginning to stir. Unsettling below-stairs rumors swirl about ghosts, a madwoman roaming the halls, and Parry's involvement with a league of sorcerers who torture fairies for sport. Then Nimira discovers the spirit of a fairy gentleman named Erris is trapped inside the clockwork automaton, waiting for someone to break his curse. The two fall into a love that seems hopeless, and breaking the curse becomes a race against time, as not just their love, but the fate of the entire magical world may be in peril."- summary from Amazon

This was a really interesting and original fantasy debut with wonderful twists and turns. Dolamore knows how to craft a tale and unfold layers as the story progresses, and the writing is simply fantastic and very compelling. I found it hard to put this book down because the plot is so intriguing and the romance that blooms between Erris and Nimira was very fun to read about. However, I did find that the romance wasn't developed enough, though considering one of them (Erris) is an automaton who cannot talk, I'll be a little lenient on this aspect. But I hope that if there is a sequel, which there really should be as I cannot be left with this cliffhanger (btw, no news of a sequel yet so please go buy this book and support it and maybe there will be one!), the romance can be worked on and developed more.

The characters were done very well, though very few were three-dimensional; I enjoyed Nimira's character and how she was thrust into this new world and had to adapt and learned how to stand up for herself and what she believed in. It was amazing to see the transformation as I turned the pages. The ending, for me, was very edge-of-your-seat suspenseful but also felt very rushed and abrupt; it might have been better if the book had been drawn out just a bit more. But the overall tale is just fantastic and something that I think readers will get caught up in and won't necessarily worry about the negatives. Plus, it's a nice break from supernatural characters (well, ok, Erris is a fairy but he spends most of the book as an automaton) and back to good ol' fantasy.

FTC: ARC recieved from publisher. Amazon link is an Associate link; any profit from that goes toward funding contests.

Saturday, December 26, 2009

In My Mailbox- Week of December 21 + Retrospective

Before the IMM post, here's my short retrospective for this past week-

Monday- I wrote my recap of Maggie Stiefvater's Fredericksburg signing, which was amazing and totally fun!

Wednesday- I posted my review of Some Girls Are by Courtney Summers, which will be released January 5!

I have a vlog this week, combining last week's and this week's releases. Hope you guys like it!

Books Mentioned (not in order):

All links below are Amazon Associate links, so I get a small profit if you buy something through these links. All profits go toward funding contests.

For borrowing:
The Dark Divine by Bree Despain (thanks Sharon!)
Dead Tossed Waves by Carrie Ryan (I lent it to Sharon and she returned it.)

For review:
The Temptation of the Night Jasmine by Lauren Willig
Father Knows Best by Lynda Sandoval
The Good Girl's Guide to Getting Kidnapped by Yxta Maya Murray (my 2nd ARC- may give this one away in a contest!)
Will Grayson Will Grayson by John Green and David Levithan (EEEEEE!!! SO EXCITED I HAVE A COPY!!! I can't wait to read this!!)
For Keeps by Natasha Friend
The Sky is Everywhere by Jandy Nelson
Boys, Girls, and Other Hazardous Materials by Rosalind Wiseman
Incarceron by Catherine Fisher
Magic Under Glass by Jaclyn Dolamore
Princess for Hire by Lindsey Leavitt
Hex Hall by Rachel Hawkins
Hearts at Stake by Alyxandra Harvey
The Dead and the Gone by Susan Beth Pfeffer
All Unquiet Things by Anna Jarzab
Guardian of the Dead by Karen Healey
Freaks and Revelations by Davida Wills Hurwin

Recieved for Christmas:
Glee The Music Volume 2 by Various Artists
Demon Princess: Reign or Shine by Michelle Rowan
My Soul to Take by Rachel Vincent
Candor by Pam Bachorz

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Some Girls Are by Courtney Summers

Some Girls Are by Courtney Summers
"Climbing to the top of the social ladder is hard--falling from it is even harder. Regina Afton used to be a member of the Fearsome Fivesome, an all-girl clique both feared and revered by the students at Hallowell High... until vicious rumors about her and her best friend's boyfriend start going around. Now Regina's been "frozen out" and her ex-best friends are out for revenge. If Regina was guilty, it would be one thing, but the rumors are far from the terrifying truth and the bullying is getting more intense by the day. She takes solace in the company of Michael Hayden, a misfit with a tragic past who she herself used to bully. Friendship doesn't come easily for these onetime enemies, and as Regina works hard to make amends for her past, she realizes Michael could be more than just a friend... if threats from the Fearsome Foursome don't break them both first."- summary from Amazon

I loved Summers' debut and was really excited to read this one and it didn't let me down. It was painful to read this book because of what Regina goes through and yet I still felt compelled to turn the pages and found it hard to put the book down. I literally had to tear myself away from it while reading it at work. What happens to Regina throughout the book is like a traffic accident for the reader- it's a horrible sight but you can't stop looking. Regina is a wonderfully layered character and all the other characters have a good amount of depth to them as well.

The romance is really well-crafted and written in such a realistic way. Everything about this book is realistic, usually brutally so. Seeing how Michael and Regina interact as the book goes on and the obstacles they put up between each other makes so much sense and it was really fun reading about them. The ending was perfect for them.

What I didn't like though was the ending. The book reaches this amazingly heartbreaking and emotional climax and then the ending just seems to fall flat after that. I got to the end and was like "That's it? That's how it all ends between Regina and the Fearsome Foursome?". It just felt a bit out of place considering everything else going on and what we know about these characters. But maybe I just had exaggerated expectations or something.

Either way, this is still a wonderful, heartbreaking and raw book and shows that Summers has no signs of slowing down or easing up on the honesty. She's a wonderful new talent and an author everyone should check out.

FTC: Recieved book from publisher. Amazon link is an Associate link- all profit goes toward funding contests.

Monday, December 21, 2009

Maggie Stiefvater Event in Fredericksburg, VA

Unfortunately, this isn't a picture post due to my not having the time to take pictures. Well, ok, I guess I had time, but... well, you'll see.

So after my failed trip up to Charlottesville to see Maggie on Dec. 5 (since Maggie canceled due to the snow), I worked out my finances and everything and decided I could go to her signing in Fredericksburg on Dec. 12. My roommate and her bf wanted to come along with me since they thought it would be a fun road trip and her bf had never been to a book signing before, so he was excited about it. Anyway, we left around 10:30 and got to Fredericksburg a little after 1. We stopped at Chipotle for lunch (I didn't eat as I do not like Chipotle and even if I did, I didn't have the money for it) then drove over to the Borders, which by the way, was EXTREMELY hard to get to from Chipotle despite being in the SAME SHOPPING CENTER.

I have to tell you that that shopping center was the most poorly constructed shopping center I have ever encountered. It seems like nothing interconnects whatsoever and there's a random LAKE in the center of it all. So it took us like 20 minutes to get from Chipotle to Borders even though they are probably 10 minutes walking distance from each other. But we made it to Borders and looked around for Maggie and we found her in the center of the store. Unfortunately, we had missed her talk and reading, though hardly anyone else came by the rest of her signing time so we just sat in the chairs and chatted with her.

She showed off her different covers and talked about why foreign publishers change the covers (roomie's bf asked about that), as well as talked about her UK tour (she sounded like a rock star when saying "When I was in the UK on my tour...") and how English schoolchildren really wanted her to draw wolves wearing ties for them and her love of Chipotle (which she deemed made her sound like a commercial). I also caught a glimpse of an ARC of Linger which she had given to someone else. It looked so pretty in person!!

Maggie spent a lot of time signing my book. Not because she wrote a long letter to me or anything, but rather because she drew a picture for me. I still need to upload it and have someone more technologically savvy help me make it my new header for this blog. It is seriously an amazing and funny drawing. I loved it.

At the end of the signing, my roomie mentioned that we were heading off to Toys R Us to look for Zhu Zhu Pets (which are apparently all the rage for young kids this holiday season) and this man overheard us and he said that they had just gotten a shipment in and were doling them out one customer at a time, so we (no joke) thanked the man and RAN out of the bookstore and sped over (as best as we could, what with the bad design of the place) to Toys R Us where we got three Zhu Zhu Pets for my roomie's niece. I was barely able to say bye to Maggie. I had planned on getting a quick photo with her before we left, but there ended up being no time what with the call of the Zhu Zhu Pets. But that's alright; I had a photo with her just two months ago at her Ballad launch, so it's all good.

Thanks for a wonderful signing experience, Maggie!! :) You rock!

Sunday, December 20, 2009

In My Mailbox- Week of December 14

I got some great books this week and am excited to show them off to you in a vlog! Hope you all enjoy!

Sooo um, I DID have a vlog however I failed to upload it before going off to take pictures in the snow. After that, we decided to take the snow off our cars. Well, I may have gotten a LITTLE too into it because my camera ended up flying out into the snow somewhere without my realizing it until later. So no vlog until I find my camera. Unfortunately, by the time I realized it was gone, it was already too dark. We searched for a bit but there's just way too much snow now. I'll probably try again tomorrow and hope that the camera isn't too messed up. I'll get the vlog up as soon as I can, IF I can. Here's a list of the books I would have mentioned in the vlog if I had been able to upload it:

ETA2: Camera has been found. It happened earlier today. It somehow skidded underneath my roommate's car so it was not covered in snow or anything. And it still works! Will upload vlog later tonight. Time to open presents with friends!

The Dark Divine by Bree Despain (thanks Sharon!)
The Temptation of the Night Jasmine by Lauren Willig
Father Knows Best by Lynda Sandoval
The Good Girl's Guide to Getting Kidnapped by Yxta Maya Murray (my 2nd ARC- may give this one away in a contest!)
Will Grayson Will Grayson by John Green and David Levithan (EEEEEE!!! SO EXCITED I HAVE A COPY!!! I can't wait to read this!!)
For Keeps by Natasha Friend
The Sky is Everywhere by Jandy Nelson
Boys, Girls, and Other Hazardous Materials by Rosalind Wiseman
Incarceron by Catherine Fisher
Magic Under Glass by Jaclyn Dolamore

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Fresh New Voice of YA- The Dark Divine by Bree Despain

The Dark Divine by Bree Despain
"Grace Divine, daughter of the local pastor, always knew something terrible happened the night Daniel Kalbi disappeared--the night she found her brother Jude collapsed on the porch, covered in his own blood--but she has no idea what a truly monstrous secret that night held.

The memories her family has tried to bury resurface when Daniel returns, three years later, and enrolls in Grace and Jude's high school. Despite promising Jude she'll stay away, Grace cannot deny her attraction to Daniel's shocking artistic abilities, his way of getting her to look at the world from new angles, and the strange, hungry glint in his eyes.

The closer Grace gets to Daniel, the more she jeopardizes her life, as her actions stir resentment in Jude and drive him to embrace the ancient evil Daniel unleashed that horrific night. Grace must discover the truth behind the boy's dark secret...and the cure that can save the ones she loves. But she may have to lay down the ultimate sacrifice to do it--her soul."- summary from Amazon

This was a really compelling debut full of twists and turns. Despain knows how to craft a story set in a small town and pack it full of mystery, intrigue, romance, humor, and suspense. There was so much depth to a lot of the characters and by the end of the book, everything clicked into place and it all made sense. I seriously cannot wait to see what happens next. I also loved how the supernatural creature used had an original twist to it and an amazing backstory that showed the author did some intense research for this. The suspense and mystery pulled me right along through this book and makes for an exciting, page-turning read. The climax and reveal really surprised me yet made sense and, honestly, it was just so cool. Despain has a huge hit on her hands, so run to your bookstores on December 22 to pick up a copy of this book.

FTC: Borrowed book from Sharon (thanks!!). Amazon link is an Associate link- any profit goes toward postage for contests.

Friday, December 18, 2009

Fresh New Voice of YA- Stupid Cupid Excerpt Vlog

Just as a random side note- I hate the Virginia court system and all cops. All they want is money and they never want to listen to someone's plea nor do they seem to care about it. They all suck and need to start paying attention to ACTUAL bad drivers and real criminals, not nice and kind people like me. It makes me want to punch something and scream and yell and very few things get me THAT upset.

But this vlog contains a very funny excerpt from Stupid Cupid by Rhonda Stapleton, so we're ending on something happy today.

Be sure to read and comment on all the other posts this week! Not only does it make me happy, but it makes the authors happy too. And you want us to be happy, right? So go ahead and leave a comment. Thanks!

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Fresh New Voice of YA- Interview with Bree Despain

1) How did you get the idea for The Dark Divine?

I got the idea for the story from a conversation between a brother and a sister that popped into my head one night. I was so intrigued by what they were saying to each other that I had to write their story. I’ve also always been fascinated with the prodigal son parable because it doesn’t really have an ending. When I put the two together they just seemed to fit.

2) What was The Call like? Tell us all about it!

I actually thought the call from my agent that the manuscript had sold was a telemarketer because I did not recognize the number. I was also writing an email to my friend at the time, telling her that I didn’t think the manuscript would sell for a while because it was almost Christmas. So when my phone beeped that I had a message, and it was my agent insisting that I call him back, I was pretty surprised. When I did call him back (about 0.376 seconds later) this is how it went:

Agent Ted: Are you screening your calls?
Me: Um… yes?
Agent Ted: Well, I’ve got some bad news…
Me: (panicking, thinking he’s calling to tell me he has to drop me as a client) Uh…. Ok?
Agent Ted: I can no longer call you one of my unpublished authors.
Me: Holy Crap Ted! What are you doing to me! (followed by shouts of jubilee)

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

I am currently working on the sequel to The Dark Divine. All I can really tell you about it is that it will answer some of the questions readers may have at the end of the first book, and there are a few more surprises to come.

4) Have you always been a fan of YA, or are you still new to it all?

I’ve loved YA for a long time. It’s what I love to read, it’s a great audience to write for, and it’s where my voice belongs.

5) What is your favorite Jelly Belly jelly bean flavor and also, in the spirit of the season, your favorite Christmas candy?

Jelly Belly=Watermelon. Christmas Candy= um…peppermint ice cream? Does that count? It’s got candy in it :D.

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

Currently reading Hunger Games and will start Catching Fire as soon as I’m done.

7) You took a semester off college to write and direct plays for at-risk, inner city teens from Philadelphia and New York. How did you get involved with that, and what was it like for you to do?

I had been feeling a desire to do something new and different for a long time. I have also always loved theater and writing, so when I saw the ad for the job in my school’s paper I applied almost without thinking. It was definitely a challenging job, but ultimately I loved the kids I was able to work with, and feeling like I helped them even just a little. It was also this experience that helped me realize writing was what I wanted to do with my life.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Fresh New Voice of YA- Stupid Cupid by Rhonda Stapleton

Stupid Cupid by Rhonda Stapleton
"Felicity Walker believes in true love. That's why she applies for a gig at the matchmaking company Cupid's Hollow. But when Felicity gets the job, she learns that she isn't just a matchmaker...she's a cupid! (There's more than one of them, you know.)

Armed with a hot pink, tricked-out PDA infused with the latest in cupid magic (love arrows shot through email), Felicity works to meet her quota of successful matches. But when she bends the rules of cupidity by matching her best friend Maya with three different boys at once, disaster strikes. Felicity needs to come up with a plan to set it all right, pronto, before she gets fired and before Maya ends up with her heart split in three."- summary from Amazon

This was a very cute book and a great start to a new trilogy. I'm a big fan of reading romances and this was really fun to read. Stapleton has a way with humor and I was laughing consistently throughout the book. The characters could be a little more fleshed out, but this is just the first of three so hopefully more of that will happen in the sequels. Felicity is a great, relatable narrator and one that's fun to watch as she tries to fix all the problems that occur from her Cupid work.

I enjoyed the concept of modern-day cupids and how they would get people to fall in love with each other. The summary though is a bit misleading- the story is more realistic than fantasy and the situation with Maya is not all that dire. I thought the heart splitting in three was a consequence of doing more than one and it's not; in fact, Felicity's boss never catches on to what's happening and no magical backfiring occurs (maybe I'm thinking too much in terms of Sabrina the Teenage Witch spell-gone-awry plots). The plot is somewhat neatly wrapped up by the end, but I'm excited to see where it all goes next in the sequel, Flirting with Disaster.

I think I read this suggestion in another review, but I really agree with it. If you're a fan of the Simon Pulse Romantic Comedies, this is very similar to those, so pick up a copy if you want a fun, light read over the holidays!

FTC: Recieved ARC from publisher. Amazon link above is an Associate link- any profit from that goes toward postage for contests.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Fresh New Voice of YA- The Dark Divine Excerpt Vlog

Here's the excerpt vlog for The Dark Divine by Bree Despain. Hope you all enjoy it!

Be sure to check out my interview with Rhonda Stapleton, author of Stupid Cupid, that I posted yesterday and leave a comment! Tomorrow, I've got my review of Stupid Cupid!

Monday, December 14, 2009

Fresh New Voice of YA- Interview with Rhonda Stapleton

1) How did you get the idea for Stupid Cupid and the overall trilogy?

I was trying to brainstorm what would be a fun, but crazy job for a teen. Being a cupid came to mind. My friends and I talked about it and decided it should involve technology too--that being a cupid in this day and age wouldn't be about bows and arrows, but love emails sent via PDAs. As far as being a trilogy, that was my editor's genius idea. :D

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

I'm working on two VERY different stories. One is a romantic contemp comedy. The other is a futuristic--that one is really pushing me out of my comfort zone, and I am loving it so far.

3) Have you always been a fan of the YA genre, or are you pretty new to it all? What brought you to it?

I'm a huge fan of YA. Fellow author Erin McCarthy encouraged me to check it out--she gave me a YA to read. Once I did, I was hooked!! There's so much diversity in YA that really, really appeals to me.

4) What was The Call like? Tell us all about it!

Well, basically I cried. LOL. I got an email the day after Valentine's day (which was when my book went to acquisitions--very fortuitous!). I just turned around and sobbed into the manpanion's shirt. It was all very attractive. Then, I called every person I've ever known in my entire life and sobbed on the phone with them too. hahaha

5) What is your favorite Jelly Belly jelly bean flavor? Also, since you enjoy singing everywhere according to your bio, what's the song that's been stuck in your head recently?

I don't know if I have a favorite flavor...I'm not a huge jelly bean person. I do like fruit flavors--as long as it's not the buttery popcorn one. haha. Oooooh I've been listening to the Glee soundtracks and have had several of those songs stuck in my head--Somebody to Love, Endless Love, and Alone are the three I've been listening to over and over again. :D

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

I'm reading a book on Japanese folk tales. Also, an adult book called The Physick Book of Deliverance Dane (it's about witches). I'm also about to start The Ex Games by Jennifer Echols (I love her, so I'm stoked to read this one!).

7) From what I've heard around the blogosphere, you auditioned for American Idol a few years back. Tell us all about the experience.

OMG it was crazy! There had to be over 20k people auditioning too. I sang You're So Vain by Carly Simon. The audition itself was like 15 seconds...I waited 13 hours that day (actually, since noon the day before) to audition. I actually wrote a whole blog post on it here: http://rhondastapleton.blogspot.com/2009/06/my-american-idol-audition.html

Saturday, December 12, 2009

In My Mailbox- Week of December 7 + Retrospective

No vlog this week as I don't have the privacy to do so, lol. So here's just a list of books I got this week.

Books Recieved (all links below are Amazon Associate links, so part of the profits go to me if you buy one of these books; the money usually goes to funding contests.):

Dream Girl by Lauren Mechling (this is my 12th copy; most copies were given away during my 1-year blogiversary)
Dream Life by Lauren Mechling
Wanderlust by Lucy Silag (my 2nd ARC- contest to come!)
Some Girls Are by Courtney Summers
I So Don't Do Spooky by Barrie Summy
The Pillow Book of Lotus Lowenstein by Libby Schmais

Tuesday- I posted another 2010 Books Preview where I talked about The Unwritten Rule by Elizabeth Scott and Swoon at Your Own Risk by Sydney Salter.

Thursday- I reviewed Purple Heart by Patricia McCormick, which was released September 1, 2009.

I also updated my review list and interview/guest blog list (links in sidebar). My review list now has my links to reviews from the past few months and also how many I've done since June 2007. It's a LOT. I hope to finish up the interview and guest blog list sometime, and also plan on changing my header (maybe). I just got the most AWESOME drawing ever from Maggie Stiefvater in my ARC of Shiver when she signed it earlier today and I think it would make the BEST. HEADER. EVER. But first I have to scan it in and play around with it and all that junk. If anyone with more skills than I wants to help, feel free to email me.