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

Monday, March 29, 2010

Preview Post- The Tension of Opposites by Kristina McBride

The Tension of Opposites by Kristina McBride
"It’s been two years since Noelle disappeared. Two years since her bike was discovered, sprawled on a sidewalk. Two years of silence, of worry, of fear.

For those two long years, her best friend Tessa has waited, living her own life in a state of suspended animation. Because how can she allow herself to enjoy a normal high school life if Noelle can’t? How dare she have other friends, go to dances, date boys, without knowing what happened to the girl she thought she would share everything with?

And then one day, someone calls Noelle’s house. She’s alive.

A haunting psychological thriller taken straight from the headlines, The Tension of Opposites is a striking debut that explores the emotional aftermath of a kidnapping on the victim, and on the people she left behind."- summary from Kristina's site

The cover and summary are a bit misleading, in my opinion. It makes it look like a thriller and all suspenseful and stuff; it is not. Now, this isn't to say the book is bad, per se, just that it's not what I was expecting after looking at the cover and summary.

In the first chapter, which is all of like 9 pages, we find out that Noelle has been gone two years and then halfway through, we find out she's alive and is coming home the next day. This bothered me a bit because there's a difference between coming in at the middle of the story and being catapulted through a storyline. I barely had enough time to really think and care about Noelle being gone before it's revealed that she's coming back. It all happened way too fast.

After that, the book did get better for me, though again, it's still hardly the psychological thriller I'm being promised in the summary. In fact, there seemed to be only a few scenes where Noelle's kidnapping is brought up and the rest of the time, it's just usual high school drama- boys, mean girls, etc.

I honestly don't really know what to make of this book. I almost put it down because once Noelle was found and back home, it was like "What's the point?" Not much happened after that initial chapter for a while, but then things started moving again and I became more interested and invested in the characters.

A strong point of the novel was the romance. To start, I was pleasantly surprised to find out who the male love interest was since I was wrong on my first guess. The courtship between Tessa and the boy is slow and a nice change of pace from "OMG YOU'RE HOT LET'S MAKE BABIES WHO CARES WHAT YOUR INTERESTS ARE" that some YA novels tend to have.

I did enjoy the novel, and it was interesting to have the book be told from the best friend's point of view as opposed to the victim, but it just didn't really have the effect on me that perhaps the author was trying to convey.

I'm also contemplating just leaving this as a review. I don't even know why I bother doing previews when I just keep rambling, lol. So this is my review. YAY!! :D I did just kind of ramble and I'm not sure if I covered everything or made sense, so if there are any questions, feel free to ask.

Sunday, March 28, 2010

In My Mailbox- Week of March 22 + Retrospective

Here is my vlog:

I am too sick and tired to do links this week so you'll just have to look them up yourself.

ETA: Split and Stargazer have been claimed already.

Here's my retrospective:

Monday- I reviewed Once Dead, Twice Shy by Kim Harrison.

Tuesday- It was my birthday, so I asked for people to wish me happy birthday, lol.

Wednesday- I started up Ask Book Chic again, and there's a great contest going on too. One random winner will receive a copy of Something Like Fate by Susane Colasanti. And there may even be more winners! Go to the post for details!

Friday- I posted a preview post for She's So Dead to Us by Kieran Scott, which is out May 25!

Friday, March 26, 2010

Preview Post- She's So Dead To Us by Kieran Scott

She's So Dead to Us by Kieran Scott
"Perfect, picturesque Orchard Hill. It was the last thing Ally Ryan saw in the rear-view mirror as her mother drove them out of town and away from the shame of the scandal her father caused when his hedge fund went south and practically bankrupted all their friends -- friends that liked having trust funds and new cars, and that didn't like constant reminders that they had been swindled. So it was adios, Orchard Hill. Thanks for nothing.

Now, two years later, Ally's mother has landed a job back at the site of their downfall. So instead of Ally's new low-key, happy life, it'll be back into the snake pit with the likes of Shannen Moore and Hammond Ross.

But then there's Jake Graydon. Handsome, wealthy, bored Jake Graydon. He moved to town after Ally left and knows nothing of her scandal, but does know that he likes her. And she likes him. So off into the sunset they can go, right? Too bad Jake's friends have a problem with his new crush since it would make Ally happy. And if anyone deserves to be unhappy, it's Ally Ryan.

Ally was hoping to have left all the drama in the past, but some things just can't be forgotten. Isn't there more to life than money?"- summary from Amazon

Let me tell you something to start off- read summaries before picking up a book. This doesn't mean that it was the kind of book I don't like or anything, but it definitely helps to know what you're getting into. See, looking at the title, I thought it was some sort of paranormal/mystery/suspense/ghost novel, but as it turns out, it's just the usual teen girl drama of "she is SO dead!" wherein no one actually BECOMES dead. This kinda made me sad since I was expecting it, which is why it is good to read summaries before starting a book. Thank you.

Now, on to the preview. This was a good book, and it's my first by Kieran Scott, though I do own one of her earlier novels and it may even be signed too. But I imagine it's very much like her Kate Brian books, specifically the Private series, in that it deals with petty drama, rich kids, gossip, etc. This isn't a problem, but just wanted to set the feel of it all.

I am intrigued by these kinds of novels since I'm a poor college graduate, so it's a bit nice to escape into a world filled with money that grows on trees, at least for a select few families in a town. What makes this one stand out a bit more is the fact that these rich families are having to rebuild their empires, and we see all the emotional drama and cracks start to unfold from that.

OK, so this preview is getting long, so let me stop being vague and get a little more specific. I will say that reading this book made me want to slap some of the characters or maybe murder them (thus making it the ghost/mystery type book I want!). Mean characters always get to me and I'm just wishing for the main character to strangle them. It's probably why I try to read as little of these sorts of books as possible. These girls are mean, and are in fact very close to the mean girls seen in Some Girls Are by Courtney Summers, though it's not as united a front here as it was in that book.

There was a very good romance here and a swoon-worthy guy, who we get to see part of the story from! Yes, it's told in alternating POVs- that of Ally, the girl returning back to the place she had to run away from, and that of Jake, the new guy who came in after Ally's departure and is now living in her former house. The depth of these characters are really shown and fleshed out, and even some of the mean girls have their redeeming qualities (very little though). I'm excited to see where the story goes from here and can't wait for the second book.

A full, more detailed review will be up closer to the book's release date, which is in late May. It will include more character names and specifics rather than vague ramblings! YAY!

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Ask Book Chic- The Resurrection + Contest!

Yes, I'm finally bringing back Ask Book Chic! I have several vlogs featuring answers from the Myspace days and I may still post them sometime but for now, I'm taking new questions.

Not only that, but I may even give a book away in a contest to someone who leaves a question for me on this entry. I'm not sure what book it would be- I may pick one, or let you all pick something from my massive shelves. We shall see.

Anyway, so ask away!! You can ask me anything you like- it can be personal, blog related, reading related, writing related, author related, whatever. I just love answering questions. You can also email me if you'd rather do that instead of commenting here.

ETA: I now have a prize! I just got an extra ARC of Something Like Fate by Susane Colasanti and want to give it to one of you! Enter by asking at least one question. This contest will be over on Saturday, April 3 at 9pm EST! US/Canada only please!

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Birthday Post

Today is my birthday and as I cannot check my Facebook or anything until I get home, which won't be until like 8pm, I'm putting this up so that I can receive birthday messages here throughout the day. So please leave comments!

I'd also appreciate getting comments on these posts too- think of it as giving me free presents, lol. So go check these out: In My Mailbox vlog, Once Dead, Twice Shy by Kim Harrison review, and my recap of Maggie Stiefvater's signing.

Thanks you all!! And by the way, I'm 24 now and am heading to Red Lobster tonight. Mmmmmm. I might even get an alcoholic drink for once, lol.

Monday, March 22, 2010

Once Dead, Twice Shy by Kim Harrison

Once Dead, Twice Shy by Kim Harrison
"Madison's prom was killer—literally. For some reason she's been targeted by a dark reaper—yeah, that kind of reaper—intent on getting rid of her, body and soul. But before the reaper could finish the job, Madison was able to snag his strange, glowing amulet and get away.

Now she's stuck on Earth—dead but not gone. Somehow the amulet gives her the illusion of a body, allowing her to toe the line between life and death. She still doesn't know why the dark reaper is after her, but she's not about to just sit around and let fate take its course.

With a little ingenuity, some light-bending, and the help of a light reaper (one of the good guys! Maybe . . . ), her cute crush, and oh yeah, her guardian angel, Madison's ready to take control of her own destiny once and for all, before it takes control of her.

Well, if she believed in that stuff."- summary from Amazon

Eep! This posted without my knowledge, so here is a quick review so that people can know my thoughts on this book.

I actually really liked this, which is good because in reading reviews last year, there was some mixed viewpoints out there and I wondered if it would be good or a waste of time. Luckily, it was good.

I loved Madison's voice because it was so sarcastic and similar to my own. The concept in this book (which originated in Kim's short story in the anthology Prom Nights From Hell, which has recently been re-released) is interesting and I think Harrison handles it well, explaining things and setting up the world for this series. Things do get a bit confusing throughout the book, but not as much as they could be, and hopefully in the next book (out May 25) it will explain everything.

I went through the book quickly though it can be a bit slow at times. But the humor, paranormal aspects, and romance more than make up for the slowness. I think that if you enjoyed Kim's short story, you'll love this continuation. If you're a bit hesitant, library or paperback would be your best option.

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

Also, side note- Susan of Waste Paper Prose has posted her hilarious recap of Maggie Stiefvater's signing on March 13 in Charlottesville, so go check it out here! There's even a contest for a signed and drawn in Ballad- it's international too!

Saturday, March 20, 2010

In My Mailbox- Week of March 15 + Retrospective

Here's my vlog for this week. Hope you all like!

No links this week- am too lazy and tired.

Here's my retrospective for this week:

Monday- I posted my thoughts about Shadow Hills by Anastasia Hopcus.

Wednesday- I interviewed the lovely Barrie Summy (who I just met at the VA Book Festival!).

Friday- I posted my recap of the Maggie Stiefvater signing I went to on the 13th, plus hilarious pic!

Friday, March 19, 2010

Picture Post- Maggie Stiefvater signing recap

So I am much too lazy to really detail everything that happened on Saturday right now. What you all shall get is a condensed version with bullet points and a picture at the end. Enjoy!

1) On my way up, I got another speeding ticket. This is my third one in five months- not good. But this time, I wasn't even going that fast. It was 70 in a 60. I was ON A HIGHWAY. You're SUPPOSED to go at least 10 over. So I'm thinking I can get out of this one. I'm heading up to Charlottesville this weekend for the VA Book Festival, so I'm going to be paying attention for details that can help me when I go to traffic court. Also, the cop we got was MEAN- he was like looking for things to write me up for. Checking to see if we had our seat belts on, if my state inspection was up to date. It was just so stupid. But this is also the second time I've broken the law for Maggie; here's the first. She's a bad influence, that Maggie- slowly turning me into a criminal.

2) As usual, I arrived to the signing fashionably late. I always seem to do this. Anyway, my roomie, her bf and I sat down and listened to Maggie tell us wondrous, hilarious tales of her adventures in authordom. There were quite a few people there, which is always good. I also met Susan from the blog Waste Paper Prose and we chatted a bit while I waited for Maggie to be free so I could get a picture with her and talk with her some. Susan also pimped my blog to people apparently. Hi new readers (if you're there)! *waves excitedly* Maggie and I also took a funny photo, which you can see below:

3) After we chatted with Maggie and took a few pictures, I talked with Susan about BEA a bit, then my roomie, her bf and I wandered around the bookstore a bit before heading out. We then went to Plan 9 Music to browse around, then to The Boathouse for dinner (which was just ok- not the best ever), then home. After getting back home, we went and saw Alice in Wonderland in 3-D, which was awesome. Anne Hathaway was AMAZING in it- loved it when she was onscreen. Everyone else was really good too, but I was mainly excited to see Anne in it. And Matt Lucas, who played the Tweedles, because I think he's hilarious though I haven't seen much of his Little Britain show. But I saw him and his comedy partner David on the show French and Saunders, and I've seen a few sketches from Little Britain and love them.

That is all. I hope you all enjoyed a look into my Maggie book signing experience. Tomorrow, I go to the VA Book Festival! I will try and get as many pictures as I can. I'm so excited to meet all these authors- Barrie Summy, Amy Brecount White, Jennifer Hubbard, PJ Hoover, Keri Mikulski and Kim Harrison! YAY!

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Interview with Barrie Summy

1) How did you get the idea for i so don't do spooky? How many books will there be in this series?

For Sherry's second book, I wanted her to tackle a mystery she didn't really want to solve. Which is why she has to save her not-so-favorite person (her stepmother, The Ruler) . Also, I've done some website judging for high school robotics and wanted to include a little of that. And I had a really yucky experience with a psychic and wanted to have a psychic in the book (although not yucky).

At this point, there are four books in the series.

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

I'm just finishing up writing i so don't do famous. In this book, Sherry busts up a teen burglary ring in Hollywood.

3) What's your daily writing process like? Take us through a typical day in your life.

Oh dear. Now, people will see how boring my life really is.:)

First, I get my kids off to school. Once I'm back home from that, I tidy up a little bit. I especially love writing when a household machine is on and working. So, I'll often throw in a load of laundry before settling down with my laptop. And then I write for the morning. Child #3 comes home for lunch, so I break for that. And I try to squeeze in another hour of writing before the craziness of homework, sports, carpooling, dinner, etc. takes over my afternoon and evening. Once the kids are in bed for the night, I try to writing a little more.

See. I warned you. Boring.

4) You've listed some odd things about yourself in the bio on your website. Tell us two or three more odd/weird things about yourself.

Hmmm.....well, you should probably check with my children about this! Personally, I don't think there are two or three more odd/weird things.

How about this? I will only drink hot tea if it's made with boiling water. I hardly watch any television at all. I prefer to write with pencils over pens. I'm crazy about veiled chameleons. We have two (a male and a female) and 51 eggs!

See? Nothing particularly odd.

5) You grew up in Canada, but now live in California. How did that happen?

I wanted to live in Toronto, Ontario. My husband wanted to live in Dallas, TX. San Diego was our default city where nobody felt like the other person had won. We've been here about twenty years!

6) What book(s) are you reading now?

The Bog Child by Siobhan Dowd.

7) What is your favorite Jelly Belly jelly bean flavor?

I'm all about licorice. So...black.

8) What advice would you give to aspiring writers?

Read, read, read. Then, read some more. Write, write, write. Then, write some more. And try to enjoy yourself!

Monday, March 15, 2010

Preview Post- Shadow Hills by Anastasia Hopcus

"Since her sister’s mysterious death, Persephone “Phe” Archer has been plagued by a series of disturbing dreams. Determined to find out what happened to her sister, Phe enrolls at Devenish Prep in Shadow Hills, Massachusetts—the subject of her sister’s final diary entry.

After stepping on campus, Phe immediately realizes that there’s something different about this place—an unexplained epidemic that decimated the town in the 1700s, an ancient and creepy cemetery, and gorgeous boy Zach—and somehow she’s connected to it all.

But the more questions she asks and the deeper she digs, the more entangled Phe becomes in the haunting past of Shadow Hills. Finding what links her to this town…might cost her her life."- summary from GoodReads

Before I start with the preview, there will be no IMM for this past week. I only got one book, so I'll just hold on to it until this Saturday evening when I post this week's IMM. As for the retrospective, just go look at last week's posts where I featured authors Amy Brecount White and Kimberly Derting as well as their amazing debut books. Also, coming up this week, I've got an interview with Barrie Summy and a recap of the Maggie Stiefvater signing I went to on Saturday the 13th, which will include a funny picture of Maggie and me. :D

Anyway, now the preview. I really enjoyed this book and went through it quickly, which was good since I only had it for a week as part of an ARC tour. The storyline gripped me and I found it hard to put the book down. The characters were all interesting, and the ties to history, both ancient and more recent, was intriguing to read about. A fantastic debut from Hopcus- preorder this one!

Also, this leads me to believe that Egmont is going to be a huge name in publishing here in the States soon as more books are put out by them. Every single book I've read that's going to be published (or has been published) by them have been amazing. Their stories are intriguing and original (or at least have some fantastic original twists to them).

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Fresh New Voice of YA- The Body Finder by Kimberly Derting

The Body Finder by Kimberly Derting
"Violet Ambrose is grappling with two major issues: Jay Heaton and her morbid secret ability. While the sixteen-year-old is confused by her new feelings for her best friend since childhood, she is more disturbed by her "power" to sense dead bodies—or at least those that have been murdered. Since she was a little girl, she has felt the echoes the dead leave behind in the world . . . and the imprints that attach to their killers.

Violet has never considered her strange talent to be a gift; it mostly just led her to find dead birds her cat left for her. But now that a serial killer is terrorizing her small town, and the echoes of the local girls he's claimed haunt her daily, Violet realizes she might be the only person who can stop him.

Despite his fierce protectiveness over her, Jay reluctantly agrees to help Violet find the murderer—and Violet is unnerved by her hope that Jay's intentions are much more than friendly. But even as she's falling intensely in love, Violet is getting closer and closer to discovering a killer . . . and becoming his prey herself."- summary from Amazon

First off, I apologize profusely to Kimberly Derting and I hate that it took me this long to write my review. This was just a busy reading week and then I was gone for most of today at a signing. But let's get on with the review.

I really enjoyed this book, though I felt it dragged at some parts, but that could just be because I was in such a rush to finish it. It's definitely got a fast-paced plotline though (for the most part), and I was turning pages frantically to find out what happened next, not just because of the short amount of time I had to read it. The romance was realistic and cute, but predictable, though the other aspect of the story (the killings) made up for that by being wildly unpredictable.

Just to let you all know, this is not a typical murder mystery. I feel like in those, you get a sense for all the characters and have suspects to look at and figure out who did it. It's not the case with this book since we hardly see the murderer throughout the book so there's no looking for clues to figure it out. It does make it a bit fun because you find everything out along with the protagonist and there isn't a whole lot of sleuthing going on, but at the same time, it's frustrating because you're left in the dark completely until the end. I did enjoy the twist at the end and it had me gasping when it came up.

What I also liked was how every few chapters, we'd get a small glimpse into the mind of the killer. Those chapters were intensely creepy and I was glad that they were short and far between.

One of the things that I didn't necessarily like was the third person. I've gotten more used to it now that I'm reading a lot more, but with this, it made me feel disconnected and made it hard to really feel for the characters.

Overall though, it is a very fun, thrilling novel to read with an intriguing paranormal aspect at the center of it. It does have its flaws, but what book doesn't?

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

Friday, March 12, 2010

Fresh New Voice of YA- Forget-Her-Nots Excerpt Vlog

And now I've got a reading from Forget-Her-Nots by Amy Brecount White. Hope you all enjoy it!

Forget-Her-Nots is out in stores now, so go get yourself a copy!! You've seen the review, heard a teaser, you're ready to buy it! :)

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Fresh New Voice of YA- Kimberly Derting interview

1) How did you get the idea for The Body Finder?

My husband and I were driving one day and he threw out this random idea about a boy who could find dead bodies. After hearing his middle-grade boy-adventure version, I immediately changed the main character to a teenage girl and started creating Violet and the rules for her creepy ability. In my husband’s mind, he will always consider himself my co-author. :)

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

I’m finished with the sequel to The Body Finder, which is called Desires of the Dead and comes out in 2011 (so excited!). I have a few other things I’m working on but I’m SO crazy-secretive about new projects that I usually never tell anyone, sometimes not even my agent.

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

I just finished The Deathday Letter by Shaun Hutchinson, which was darkly humorous (a combo I happen to adore!). And up next…hmm…maybe Graceling by Kristin Cashore, I’ve been dying to read it!!!

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

I didn’t actually get “the call,” it was more like “the message.” And technically, I didn’t get the message, my husband did. It’s kind of a long story, which I blogged about here (for anyone interested in the details). I will say that it was one of the best moments in my life!

5) What is your favorite Jelly Belly jelly bean flavor?

Easy! Buttered Popcorn, by far. It’s not so much that I LOVE the flavor, it’s just that I’m completely fascinated by it! I’m always trying to pick those ones out first. Thanks a lot, James, now I’m totally craving jelly beans!

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Fresh New Voice of YA- Forget-Her-Nots by Amy Brecount White

Forget-Her-Nots by Amy Brecount White
"Something—some power—is blooming inside Laurel. She can use flowers to do things. Like bringing back lost memories. Or helping her friends ace tests. Or making people fall in love.

Laurel suspects her newfound ability has something to do with an ancient family secret, one that her mother meant to share with Laurel when the time was right. But then time ran out.

Clues and signs and secret messages seem to be all around Laurel at Avondale School, where her mother had also boarded as a student. Can Laurel piece everything together quickly enough to control her power, which is growing more potent every day? Or will she set the stage for the most lovestruck, infamous prom in the history of the school?"- summary from Amazon

Let me start off by saying I loved this book. It had such an original twist to it with the whole Flowerspeaking aspect in what could have been just a usual run-of-the-mill boarding school book. Learning more about that and how Laurel used it made me keep turning the pages and I was done with it so quickly. It was fun to read about flowers and all their different meanings, and how they were applied to Laurel's classmates when they needed or wanted something.

Laurel is an amazing character and I loved how White included soccer as another hobby of Laurel's- it definitely provided a good contrast to the Flowerspeaking. The occasional snarkiness in the dialogue throughout the story was another fun aspect. The romance was built up well and ended up being very realistic in how it was written and portrayed.

The emotional aspect was handled really well too. Laurel's deep connection to her mother was interesting to read about and it was hard at times to get through scenes where she was upset because I felt so bad for her.

I do actually have a small negative about the book though. I thought at times the dialogue felt a bit off and occasionally it bothered me a lot, like when words were elongated (such as "Yesss" and "Whaaat?") where it wasn't needed. It's such a minor thing though and it didn't affect my reading too much, as I got over it quickly.

Overall, a great book with an original story and one that everyone should read. Go to the bookstore now!!

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Fresh New Voice of YA- The Body Finder Excerpt Vlog

I'm trying to cut these down so that they're just the right length. Hope you all enjoy this!!

By the way, The Body Finder comes out on March 16, so pre-order now!!

Monday, March 8, 2010

Fresh New Voice of YA- Amy Brecount-White interview

1) How did you get the idea for Forget-Her-Nots?

Divine inspiration from the Muse of Gardening. Not really, but it's not too far off. I've always loved anything that bloomed, so when I saw a language of flowers book at a bookstore, I snatched it up. Later, I pitched ideas for non-fiction articles about the language, but didn't have any takers. Then one day, I made a tussie-mussie, a symbolic bouquet, with flowers from my own garden for a friend who was dying of ovarian cancer. I started thinking, what if my flower wishes came true.... Then my imagination -- or the garden muse -- took over.

What are you working on now?

It's a contemporary realistic novel called String Theories about the physics of relationships, starting high school, love v. lust, and getting even. After that, I'd like to write a companion novel to FHN.

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

It was so amazing. It came late on a Friday afternoon, when I'd already given up hope for the week. Christmas was less than two weeks away, so I knew that most publishing houses wouldn't be acquiring that close to the holidays. I'd have to wait until mid-January or so. I'd told my three kids that if my agent Steven called, they had to find me immediately, because he called only if it was big news. So I was in my basement office when my son came running down the stairs with the phone in his hands.

"Mom! Mom! It's your agent," he yelled. "Did you sell your book?"

Then he stood there waiting while I tried to focus on the wonderful words coming from Steven's mouth. I'm not sure I heard anything after, "We have an offer." I nodded to my son who jumped up and down and went running out of the room whooping and yelling, "Mom sold her book! Mom sold her book!" Then I pretty much did the same after I hung up.

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

I'm in the middle of fellow Tenner Bree Despain's The Dark Divine. It's really fun so far, and I love the family and religion dynamics she's set up. Can't wait to see what happens. After that it will be Eighth Grade Super Zero, because I just got that arc in the Tenner exchange. Mostly, I read other Tenner books these days. :-) I'm really looking forward to Hex Hall and Before I Fall -- my release date mates, too!

4) According to your bio, you've taught English and writing at middle and high schools. Do you love teaching?

i do love teaching. And I miss it. (I stopped to stay home with my kids and pursue writing as a career.) I hope to get invited to lots of schools and libraries, so I can do some teaching there. I have wide writing experience from non-fiction journalism to academic writing to fiction, so I'd love to share what I've learned.

What's your favorite and least favorite part of it?

My favorite part is making connections and helping my students to understand something -- a poem, their own writing, a character -- in a new way. I love seeing that look of understanding on their faces when the connections click into place. Honestly, I loved everything about the classroom and kids and my subject (English and writing). I hated having to go to faculty meetings. Not a fan of meetings.

5) What is your favorite Jelly Belly jelly bean flavor?

Anything citrusy. Mmm.

And, as part of Amy's Spread the Flower Love blog tour, here's the flower I picked:

It's honeysuckle! I used to love these as a kid and would suck the honey out of them whenever I found one. What you have to do now is collect this virtual flower along with all the others this week (the list can be found here- we're in week three now) and email Amy with the list at amywords@verizon.net to enter. This week, you can win copies of Dirty Little Secrets by C.J. Omololu and Hex Hall by Rachel Hawkins along with FHN swag and a Language of Flowers booklet. So follow the blog tour and collect those flowers! :) Good luck to everyone!

Saturday, March 6, 2010

In My Mailbox- Week of March 1 + Retrospective

Yes, another vlog this week! Unfortunately, it is also extremely long. I ramble too much. *sigh* Anyway, here it is:

Books Mentioned:

Getting Revenge on Lauren Wood by Eileen Cook (from Robby at Boy With Books)
Vintage Veronica by Erica S. Perl
The Dark Hunters Volume 2 by Sherrilyn Kenyon
Prom Nights From Hell by Various
Shadow Hills by Anastasia Hopcus
Brilliant by Rachel Vail
Radiant Shadows by Melissa Marr
My Double Life by Janette Rallison
Forgive My Fins by Tera Lynn Childs

And now my Retrospective:

Monday- I reviewed The Less Dead by April Lurie.

Tuesday- I posted a review of Princess For Hire by Lindsey Leavitt.

Thursday- My review of The Unwritten Rule by Elizabeth Scott went up!

Friday- I posted a preview post for Raised by Wolves by Jennifer Lynn Barnes and The Reckoning by Kelley Armstrong. It got posted before I finished but I have now updated it with my thoughts. Full reviews will be published closer to the release date of each.

Friday, March 5, 2010

Preview Post- Raised by Wolves + The Reckoning

ETA: I meant to actually include summaries and a tiny review with these. However, I forgot about it and also, I've not been feeling well today so I'll write something up later and link back to it in my IMM post when it's done. Also, I'm still in the middle of The Reckoning so it won't be a complete reaction to it or anything. I'm only 175 pages in, as of 2:40pm Friday.

Raised by Wolves by Jennifer Lynn Barnes
"At the age of four, Bryn watched a rabid werewolf brutally murder her parents. Alone in the world, she was rescued and taken in by Callum, the alpha of his pack. Now fifteen, Bryn's been raised as a human among werewolves, adhering to pack rule (mostly). Little fazes her.

But the pack's been keeping a secret, and when Bryn goes exploring against Callum's orders, she finds Chase, a newly turned teen Were locked in a cage. Terrifying memories of the attack on her mom and dad come flooding back. Bryn needs answers, and she needs Chase to get them. Suddenly, all allegiances to the pack no longer matter. It's Bryn and Chase against the werewolf world, whatever the consequences."- summary taken from ARC

I loved this book. This is my first time reading Barnes, even though I've wanted to read her for a long time, and I was not disappointed. I loved the way she took on the werewolf world, dealing mostly with the Pack aspect and its dynamics. The book was full of twists and turns and many shocking revelations. It's a fantastic story and one that needs to be read by EVERYONE. So go pre-order it now!!!

The Reckoning by Kelley Armstrong
"The nail-biting climax to Kelley Armstrong's bestselling YA series. Chloe Saunders is fifteen and would love to be normal. Unfortunately, that's not going to happen. First of all, she happens to be a genetically engineered necromancer who can raise the dead without even trying. She and her equally gifted (or should that be 'cursed'?) friends are on the run from the evil corporation who created them. To top it all, Chloe is struggling with her feelings for Simon, a sweet-tempered sorcerer, and his brother Derek, a not so sweet-tempered werewolf. And she has a horrible feeling she's leaning towards the werewolf. Definitely not normal..."- summary from Kelley Armstrong's forum

OK, so I'm only barely halfway through this, but here are my thoughts so far. The beginning is a bit slow and it was a bit difficult to get through. But once I got through that, it got a bit better, though it's still kind of going slow and I'm on page 175 right now. It's just not AS slow as the beginning. This'll be out April 6, I think, so look for my full review then. And I'm putting it up for a tour on Harmony's 1 ARC tour blog but it hasn't been put up yet.

Hope you guys enjoyed this preview of two eagerly anticipated upcoming books!

Thursday, March 4, 2010

The Unwritten Rule by Elizabeth Scott

The Unwritten Rule by Elizabeth Scott
"I liked him first, but it doesn't matter.
I still like him.
That doesn't matter either.
Or at least, it's not supposed to."
"Everyone knows the unwritten rule. You don't like your best friend's boyfriend."

Sarah has had a crush on Ryan for years. He's easy to talk to, supersmart, and totally gets her. Lately it even seems like he's paying extra attention to her. Everything would be perfect except for two things: Ryan is Brianna's boyfriend, and Brianna is Sarah's best friend. Sarah forces herself to avoid Ryan and tries to convince herself not to like him. She feels so guilty for wanting him, and the last thing she wants is to hurt her best friend. But when she's thrown together with Ryan one night, something happens. It's wonderful...and awful. Sarah is torn apart by guilt, but what she feels is nothing short of addiction, and she can't stop herself from wanting more...."- summary from Amazon

Scott's latest offering is different from her last release and is closer in tone to Something, Maybe and Perfect You. What I like about her books is that, with the way they're released, it goes back and forth between serious and more light-hearted. There are issues brought up in these more light-hearted novels, but they're not as much in the forefront as her serious novels. The way everything unfolds in this novel is just done so well and compelling that it's hard to put the book down (short chapters also helped). All the characters are well-written and are relatable, and the interactions and reactions from everyone involved make sense for the character. The romantic tension between Sarah and Ryan is executed in a great way and paced very well; it made for some fun reading. I wanted so much to hate Brianna whenever she came on the scene, but at the same time, you feel so bad for her and it almost seems like she can't help how she is. Overall, what this all leads to is that Scott has written another hit, one that's sure to please her current fans and bring in tons of new ones.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Princess for Hire by Lindsey Leavitt

Princess for Hire by Lindsey Leavitt
"When an immaculately dressed woman steps out of an iridescent bubble and asks you if you'd like to become a substitute princess, do you

a) run
b) faint
c) say Yes!

For Desi Bascomb, who's been longing for a bit of glamour in her Idaho life, the choice is a definite C--that is, once she can stop pinching herself. As her new agent Meredith explains, Desi has a rare magical ability: when she applies the ancient Egyptian formula "Royal Rouge," she can transform temporarily into the exact lookalike of any princess who needs her subbing services. Dream come true, right?

Well, Desi soon discovers that subbing involves a lot more than wearing a tiara and waving at cameras. Like, what do you do when a bullying older sister puts you on a heinous crash diet? Or when the tribal villagers gather to watch you perform a ceremonial dance you don't know? Or when a princess's conflicted sweetheart shows up to break things off--and you know she would want you to change his mind?"- summary from Amazon

First off, I just wanna mention how I think it's cool that this book is set in Idaho, and I know, it's not often you see "cool" and "Idaho" in the same sentence. But I have a soft spot for Idaho as I've been there a few times. It's just so quaint and pretty and full of cows; I love it. Not many books are set in Idaho so it was nice to see.

Anyway, I really liked this debut from Leavitt as it was original and unique. Reading about Desi's adventures in subbing for princesses was interesting and was nice to see an exotic selection of locations and situations. The story is full of humor and sets up this wonderful world of princess subbing and how it all works, including how the company is run and the hierarchy of positions. It's easy to get pulled into the storyline. I barely put the book down while reading the last 150 pages this past weekend.

Desi was an interesting character and I loved her voice and personality. I thought it was a fun touch to have her idolize old Hollywood stars, like Ingrid Bergman and Paul Newman, as well as the old movies they starred in. It sets her apart from most other female protagonists.

Overall, a really fun, cute debut and I can't wait for the next installment!

FTC: Received book from publisher. Amazon link is Associate link; any profit goes toward funding contests.

Monday, March 1, 2010

The Less Dead by April Lurie

The Less Dead by April Lurie
"Noah Nordstrom has been dissing the religious beliefs of his father, who hosts a popular Christian radio show and whom Noah accuses of spreading hate. When two local gay teens are murdered, Noah’s anti-evangelism intensifies—he’s convinced that the killer is a caller on his dad’s program.

Then Noah meets Will Reed, a cool guy. But when he learns that Will is gay, Noah gets a little weirded out. Especially since Will seems really into him. Noah gives Will the brush-off. Meanwhile, the killer is still at large . . . and soon Noah finds the next victim. It’s Will.

Racked with guilt, Noah decides to investigate. He knows the serial killer is targeting gay teens, but only those who live in foster homes, whose deaths are not that important to society; they are the less-dead. Noah, however, is determined to prove that someone cares. With the help of Will’s journal, which he pocketed at the scene of the crime and in which the killer has written clues, Noah closes in on an opponent more dangerous than he can guess."- summary from Amazon

This was a really interesting book; it combines mystery, suspense, and religious debate. The book does get quite a bit preachy, but I agreed with the pro-gay stance that many of the characters in the book had, so it didn't bother me as much. I was surprised I was able to read it as quickly as I did because I figured I might get so upset and PO'd at the anti-gay stance a couple characters had that I'd have to put the book away and calm down. I enjoyed Lurie's writing though at some times it felt a bit odd and stilted, and not at all realistic, mainly with the dialogue.

The mystery aspect of it was intriguing, and kept me guessing the whole time. I was shocked at the outcome because even though I had narrowed down the suspects to two, both of them were still odd choices and I wondered about the "why" of it all, which, by the way, is a whole other story. Right before the climax, I was seriously thinking like I was watching a horror movie- "No! Don't go in there, moron! Why are you going there by yourself?!?!" It was frustrating, but a bit funny, and also obviously necessary.

So overall, I really loved this book. It had some flaws, but the good parts outweigh the bad by a lot. Definitely a book to read if you're into mystery and religious stuff. There's an Author's Note in the back which talks about the Bible passages that supposedly mention homosexuality and Lurie debunks them all as well as talks about her own experiences growing up in a strict religious household just like my main character.

FTC: Received this hardcover from the publisher. Amazon link is Associate link; any profit from that goes toward funding contests.