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

Friday, August 31, 2012

Boys of Summer Edited by Steve Berman

Boys of Summer Edited by Steve Berman
"Walt Whitman referred to a "Mad, naked, Summer Night!" In the pages of Boys of Summer, acclaimed editor Steve Berman's latest anthology, talented authors and fresh voices reveal the allure and excitement of the season for gay teens. June always promises romance. July entices with its raw heat, and August offers a languid fire that will burn out before autumn's approach. These are stories of young love and adventure, when the sky's ceiling is a bright blue marvel, when another boy's laughter at the beach can distract from dull summer jobs."- summary from Goodreads

Alrighty, so I need to figure out how to do this. Reviewing short story anthologies is a bit hard. But I'm going to go ahead and talk about each story, at least a little bit. I took notes, but they're not complete (i.e. no character names in most of them).

Let's start off with the bad. Now, none of the stories were horrible or anything, but there were some that I didn't like as much. "Get Brenda Foxworthy" was one of them- the story was underdeveloped and there was really no romance. The guy that the main character likes is only in two scenes, taking up approximately 1 page of the 15 or so pages in the story. The story ends rather abruptly, basically once it gets to the interesting parts, and I thought the whole revenge aspect was just too much and then there was no real payoff with it.

Another one that did better, but wasn't the best, was "Cave Canem". It was a nice story and I liked the focus on the dogs and the animal shelter. It had an interesting setting as well as backstories for the characters. But it ended again when it was just getting good and there wasn't much in the romance department.

I guess that's about it. The rest of the stories were pretty good, though there were some that I enjoyed much more than others. "Summer's Last Stand" had an interesting look at gay bullying and I thought the meeting of the two boys was really cute. "Portrait of the Artist as a Young Swamp Thing" was very cute and I really liked how the relationship developed between Shane and Chase (this is the only story I wrote down the character names for).

"Breakwater in the Summer Dark" was a good story to read after the previous two (Brenda and Cave Canem) because the main characters had a better chemistry together and the subplot was good and developed. "Wheat, Barley..." was pretty weird due to the strange dreams the main character has and the whole story didn't seem to go anywhere with that. But it was interesting and very cute, plus it was pretty steamy. It was probably the steamiest out of all the stories.

Now, on to the best stories of the anthology! "Brass" was my absolute favorite because it was EXACTLY what I was expecting to get throughout the whole anthology. It was way too short though, but it featured the boys meeting up and then developing their relationship a bit before the story ended. A lot of these stories seemed to just be content ending when the main character realizes they like this guy (some ended with like a hand on the knee or joining hands or maybe a kiss, but I wanted more!).

Alright, I'm gonna wrap this up because I've been rambling too long. "Most Likely" was completely adorable and very funny. "Bark If You Like Boys" had a cute, layered romance and I loved it. Finally, "Leap" was an awesome story and there was great chemistry between the lovers and it was adorable seeing them grow closer as the story went on.

Overall, it is a pretty good anthology and I would recommend it, especially as the summer days wind down. Hold on to the prospect of summer romance!

FTC: Received e-galley from Netgalley and physical copy from Steve Berman (when my e-galley expired). Link above is an Amazon Associate link; any profit goes toward funding contests.

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Reminiscent Reviews- Alive and Well in Prague, New York by Daphne Grab

Reminiscent Reviews is a new feature I decided to do when I was talking with Jordanna Fraiberg and Daphne Grab in August 2012 and I realized that I wanted to recommend their books again. The other plus to this feature is that I'll slowly but surely be moving all my Myspace reviews here onto Blogspot, which will be good in case something ever happens to Myspace. Basically, I'll be reposting my old reviews and then be doing an update on what the author has been up to since that book. Hope you all enjoy!

Alive and Well in Prague, New York by Daphne Grab
"Matisse Osgood is a New York City girl through and through. But when her father gets sick and Matisse's parents decide to leave Manhattan for a small town in upstate New York, her perfect world crumbles. When rumors again surround Matisse at her new school and her father's symptoms worsen, Matisse realizes that the friends she's making in Prague are the kind you can count on. They help Matisse find the strength to reach out to her father, who may not be as far from her as she thought. And one particular farm boy shows Matisse that country living is a lot more magical than she ever imagined."- summary from Amazon

Grab's debut is absolutely riveting and is told with such emotion and tenderness, which made it an absolute joy to read this book. The characters are very realistic and complex, especially Matisse, and it's just fascinating to read about her. She felt very real to me as a reader, and it's great when an author is able to convey and make that connection. Filled with wit, realism, and warmth, this is another debut book you do not want to miss.

Update: Like with Jordanna's last week, this book came out in 2008 and Grab has been MIA since then. She has a new book coming out later this year called The Girl in the Wall, and it's a thriller. She also was very sweet and is replacing my lent out lost copy of Alive and Well. Also, I don't mention it (and not sure why I didn't) but I did almost cry while reading this book and that NEVER happens. I am not a crier by any means so if an author can get me to almost cry by reading about what their characters are going through, that is a BIG plus. Please check this book out!

Monday, August 27, 2012

One Moment by Kristina McBride

One Moment by Kristina McBride
"This was supposed to be the best summer of Maggie’s life. Now it’s the one she’d do anything to forget.

Maggie remembers hanging out at the gorge with her closest friends after a blowout party. She remembers climbing the trail with her perfect boyfriend, Joey. She remembers that last kiss, soft, lingering, and meant to reassure her. So why can’t she remember what happened in the moment before they were supposed to dive? Why was she left cowering at the top of the cliff, while Joey floated in the water below–dead?

As Maggie’s memories return in snatches, nothing seems to make sense. Why was Joey acting so strangely at the party? Where did he go after taking her home? And if Joey was keeping these secrets, what else was he hiding?"- summary from Amazon

I wasn't a big fan of McBride's debut but I liked her writing enough to give her second book a shot and I enjoyed it much more. I liked how the tragic event involving Joey was described in the beginning, but we don't have the full story. We know that Maggie remembered something that caused the event to occur, but not what exactly. Following along on Maggie's journey was thrilling as she recalled more and more.

McBride does a wonderful job of writing all the emotions involved with dealing with a loss, both from Maggie's confused perspective as well as hearing it from other characters. It was a very engaging story, one that I read very quickly.

Overall, I'd definitely recommend this book and, for me at least, this sophomore effort was better than the debut. I'm excited to see what her third book will be about.

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

Sunday, August 26, 2012

In My Mailbox- Week of Aug 20 + Retrospective

I did a vlog this week and it's long so I hope you guys can sit through it. I got some great books this week-

Books Shown:

Forgotten by Catherine McKenzie (ARC, Oct 2012)
Josie Griffin is Not a Vampire by Heather Swain (ARC, Sept 2012)
Alive and Well in Prague, New York by Daphne Grab (signed hardcover, 2008)
The Girl in the Wall by Daphne Benedis-Grab (ARC, Nov 2012)
Boys of Summer Edited by Steve Berman (paperback, June 2012)
Green Thumb by Tom Cardamone (paperback, Aug 2012)
What's Left of Me by Kat Zhang (hardcover, Sept 2012)
The Little Woods by McCormick Templeman (hardcover, July 2012)
Red Heart Tattoo by Lurlene McDaniel (hardcover, July 2012)
Poison Tree by Amelia Atwater-Rhodes (hardcover, July 2012)
Fury's Fire by Lisa Papademetriou (hardcover, July 2012)
Don't You Wish by Roxanne St. Claire (hardcover, July 2012)
Diva by Jillian Larkin (hardcover, July 2012)
Under My Hat: Tales from the Cauldron Edited by Jonathon Strahan (hardcover, Aug 2012)
Scarlett Dedd by Cathy Brett (hardcover, Aug 2012)
Kissing Shakespeare by Pamela Mingle (hardcover, Aug 2012)
Intentions by Deborah Heiligman (hardcover, Aug 2012)
The Blood Keeper by Tessa Gratton (hardcover, Aug 2012)
Touched by Cyn Balog (hardcover, Aug 2012)
Suck It Up and Die by Brian Meehl (hardcover, Aug 2012)
The Stone Girl by Alyssa B. Sheinmel (hardcover, Aug 2012)

and here's my retrospective-

Monday- I posted a shortlist of Books I Need to Read, which was inspired by a Bookish Days video I saw.

Wednesday- I started a new feature called Reminiscent Reviews, where I repost old reviews of books I love. This week's book was In Your Room by Jordanna Fraiberg.

Friday- I reviewed Between You and Me by Emma McLaughlin and Nicola Kraus, which is out in stores now.

Friday, August 24, 2012

Between You and Me by Emma McLaughlin and Nicola Kraus

Between You and Me by Emma McLaughlin and Nicola Kraus
"What happens when you are followed by millions . . . and loved by none?
Twenty-seven-year-old Logan Wade is trying to build a life for herself far from her unhappy childhood in Oklahoma. Until she gets the call that her famous cousin needs a new assistant— an offer she can’t refuse.

Logan hasn’t seen Kelsey in person since their parents separated them as kids; in the meantime, Kelsey Wade has grown into Fortune Magazine’s most powerful celebrity. But their reunion is quickly overshadowed by the toxic dynamic between Kelsey and her parents as Logan discovers that, beneath the glossy fa├žade, the wounds that caused them to be wrenched apart so many years ago have insidiously warped into a show-stopping family business.

As Kelsey tries desperately to break away and grasp at a “real” life, beyond the influence of her parents and managers, she makes one catastrophic misstep after another, and Logan must question if their childhood has left them both too broken to succeed. Logan risks everything to hold on, but when Kelsey unravels in the most horribly public way, Logan finds that she will ultimately have to choose between rescuing the girl she has always protected . . . and saving herself."- summary from Amazon

I love books about the celebrity life and this book did not disappoint. I've been meaning to read the McLaughlin/Kraus collaborations for years now, but haven't gotten around to it until this book. I definitely need to check out more of their titles (a new YA will be out from them next month!).

I absolutely loved this book. The relationship between Kelsey and Logan is handled amazingly well and it was great to see it develop throughout the book, especially when Kelsey has her meltdown. That relationship really grounded the book and provided a lot of depth for both characters. I was really upset with both parents and wanted to slap them both multiple times while reading. There's a big reveal about why the two families severed their ties with each other at the climax and it is a whopper.

The romances too were interesting for both characters and handled realistically; there are a ton of obstacles and not everyone gets a happy ending. I thought that was really smart to do on the authors' part.

Overall, the book is amazing and I cannot wait to read more from this great co-writing team. Please check this book out!

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

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Reminiscent Reviews- In Your Room by Jordanna Fraiberg

Reminiscent Reviews is a new feature I decided to do when I was talking with Jordanna Fraiberg and Daphne Grab in August 2012 and I realized that I wanted to recommend their books again. The other plus to this feature is that I'll slowly but surely be moving all my Myspace reviews here onto Blogspot, which will be good in case something ever happens to Myspace. Basically, I'll be reposting my old reviews and then be doing an update on what the author has been up to since that book. Hope you all enjoy!

In Your Room by Jordanna Fraiberg
"When their families decide to swap houses one summer, Charlie and Molly think it's going to be the worst summer of their lives. Charlie loves the omnipresence of nature and forest trails for him to bike on in the town of Boulder, Colorado. Molly is a pure city girl and avoids much of nature at all costs living in Los Angeles. When the swap finally happens, both of them begin to email the other and form a bond, and slowly begin to try out new things and breaking out of their shell. Can perfect strangers be perfect for each other?"- summary from somewhere, lol.

Let me preface this by saying that I will be gushing about this book even more so than I usually do. This story is so romantic, and the ending just had me in smiles even after I had closed the book. Told from both Molly and Charlie's POVs, as well as emails and IMs with each other and their friends, the story unravels quickly and makes the pages fly by. Fraiberg's debut is fantastic, especially with tackling the tough task of writing realistically from the opposite sex's point of view, but she handles it effortlessly and it doesn't come across as forced. Also, this book is hilarious and filled with laugh-out-loud moments. Keep an eye out for this author- she's sure to dazzle us even more with her future books.

Update: This was posted back in 2008 when the book came out. Jordanna Fraiberg unfortunately has been MIA since then, but she told me she has a new book coming out in Summer 2013 from Razorbill (imprint of Penguin) titled OUR SONG. She and I have kept in touch over the years and when I contacted her recently about getting a copy of In Your Room for my shelves (I had lent mine out and it got lost), she was totally up for it and sent me one. She's the sweetest and I so wish we didn't live on opposite sides of the US! I'd love to hang out with her sometime. Maybe at next year's BEA? Anyway, if you haven't picked up In Your Room yet, go get it and read it! If you've read it already, re-read it. It's such an awesome book.

Monday, August 20, 2012

Meandering Monday- Books I Need to Read

Thanks so much to those who left comments last week giving me ideas for future Meandering Monday posts. Today I'm stealing someone else's idea that I came across on Twitter. There's this really cool Youtube group vlog called Bookish Days and last week, they talked about books that they need to read.

I'll skip over the essentials that I haven't yet read (like Harry Potter, Cassandra Clare, Twilight, etc.) and focus more on other books. Here's my list:

1) A Million Suns by Beth Revis- I read and loved Across the Universe yet I haven't read the sequel yet and the third book is out in just a few short months. This happens way too often. I start a bajillion series but then find it hard to keep up with the following novels with so many new books (stand-alones and starts to series) coming out.

2) Miseducation of Cameron Post by Emily M. Danforth- I interviewed Emily a while ago and I've been really meaning to read this book but have been procrastinating a bit due to its length and tiny print (I know, what kind of reader am I?). I love GLBT novels and helping to promote them. I also got to meet Emily at BEA and get a signed book; she was really sweet.

3) Sisters Red by Jackson Pearce- I read As You Wish, Pearce's debut, and have yet to read another of her books. I own all 3 fairytale retelling books, so I need to get on this. I've heard wonderful things about them and of course I loved As You Wish.

4) Before I Fall by Lauren Oliver- I know, I know, how could I have not read this book? Or any of Lauren's other books even though I own all of them (all ARCs except for a Pandemonium hardcover)? I really need to read them because I've heard such wonderful things about Lauren's writing.

5) Radiant Shadows by Melissa Marr- Yet another series I have yet to finish. I read and enjoyed the first three books but haven't gotten to Books 4, 5 and the short story collection. Carnival of Souls is on my TBR pile too, but who knows if I'll be able to get around to it? Just so many books to read!!

I'm gonna stop the list here for now. I could go on and on about pretty much every book I own, but that won't happen. How about you guys? What books have you had lying around forever and haven't gotten around to?

Friday, August 17, 2012

Ten by Gretchen McNeil

Ten by Gretchen McNeil
"And their doom comes swiftly.

It was supposed to be the weekend of their lives—an exclusive house party on Henry Island. Best friends Meg and Minnie each have their reasons for being there (which involve T.J., the school’s most eligible bachelor) and look forward to three glorious days of boys, booze and fun-filled luxury.

But what they expect is definitely not what they get, and what starts out as fun turns dark and twisted after the discovery of a DVD with a sinister message: Vengeance is mine.

Suddenly people are dying, and with a storm raging, the teens are cut off the from the outside world. No electricity, no phones, no internet, and a ferry that isn’t scheduled to return for two days. As the deaths become more violent and the teens turn on each other, can Meg find the killer before more people die? Or is the killer closer to her than she could ever imagine?"- summary from Goodreads

McNeil has a fan for life now. Loved her debut and this second book is amazing and even more creepy. I was seriously worried about nightmares; luckily, none happened even when I did read it right before bed.

The mystery is fantastic and kept me guessing til the climax when all was revealed. By the way, that climax? OMFGWTFBBQ!!! I was pretty much on the edge of my couch the whole time and trying to read as fast as I could. It was insane in such a good way. Also, very creepy at times.

I really enjoyed Meg's voice- always a fan of sarcasm in books. Her romance with T.J. was fun to read about, what with conflicting emotions and just general "what do I say to sound cool?" moments.

Overall, definitely check out this book if you're looking for a scary read. McNeil is an author to keep your eye on.

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

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Something Like Normal by Trish Doller

Something Like Normal by Trish Doller
"When Travis returns home from a stint in Afghanistan, his parents are splitting up, his brother’s stolen his girlfriend and his car, and he’s haunted by nightmares of his best friend’s death. It’s not until Travis runs into Harper, a girl he’s had a rocky relationship with since middle school, that life actually starts looking up. And as he and Harper see more of each other, he begins to pick his way through the minefield of family problems and post-traumatic stress to the possibility of a life that might resemble normal again."- summary from Amazon

I've been wanting to read Doller's book for a while now since I heard about it back before it sold in late-night author/blogger online chats. The wait was totally worth it. This debut is stunning. Travis is a real guy; none of his thoughts or speaking voice feel forced at all. I loved reading his voice and seeing his journey progress throughout the book.

The relationship between Harper and Travis is handled so well and is definitely no insta-love kind of situation. It was realistic and Doller just did it perfectly.

Honestly, I just don't know what else to say. This book is absolutely great and I highly recommend it to everyone.

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

Monday, August 13, 2012

Meandering Monday- Need Requests and Questions

OK, so I was trying to think of what I should write about for my Meandering Monday post for today now that I'm done with BEA recaps and the Rift blog tour. I tried to ask on Twitter for ideas, but no one likes me so I got no responses.

Then, I realized why don't I try asking on my blog? So if there's anything you want my opinion on, or a discussion topic you want me to broach, leave it in the comments below. Or if there's anything you want to know about me (like when I did my Ask Book Chic posts), leave it in the comments. I'm an open book, so feel free to ask whatever.

I hope this will help for future posts. Otherwise, I have no idea what I'll do on Mondays. I'm not creative enough to come up with my own ideas! And I can't just keep posting blog entries asking for help. That would get boring.

So please help me out. I'll love you forever. :)

Sunday, August 12, 2012

In My Mailbox- Week of Aug 6 + Retrospective

I did a vlog this week. Enjoy!

Books Shown:

I'll Mature When I'm Dead by Dave Barry (hardcover from library, sometime in 2010)
The Next Best Thing by Jennifer Weiner (hardcover from library, July 2012)
Triangles by Ellen Hopkins (hardcover from library, Oct 2011)
Collateral by Ellen Hopkins (ARC, Nov 2012)
Darkwater by Catherine Fisher (ARC, Nov 2012)
Second Chance by Heather Brewer (ARC, Oct 2012)
Transcendence by C.J. Omololu (ARC, June 2012)
Kiss Me Again by Rachel Vail (ARC, Dec 2012)
Survive by Alex Morel (hardcover, Aug 2012)
Fingerprints of You by Kristen-Paige Madonia (hardcover, Aug 2012)
Michael Vey: Rise of the Elgen by Richard Paul Evans (hardcover, Aug 2012)
The Friday Society by Adrienne Kress (ARC x2, Dec 2012)

and here's my retrospective, which is full of awesome blog tours!

Monday- I participated in a blog tour for Rift by Andrea Cremer, which included character descriptions of two characters! Rift is out in stores now!

Wednesday- I reviewed The Stone Girl by Alyssa B. Sheinmel, which will be out in stores Aug 28!

Friday- I reviewed Throne of Glass by Sarah J. Maas and interviewed Sarah. Throne of Glass is out in stores now!

Friday, August 10, 2012

Blog Tour- Throne of Glass by Sarah J. Maas

Throne of Glass by Sarah J. Maas
"After serving out a year of hard labor in the salt mines of Endovier for her crimes, 18-year-old assassin Celaena Sardothien is dragged before the Crown Prince. Prince Dorian offers her her freedom on one condition: she must act as his champion in a competition to find a new royal assassin.

Her opponents are men-thieves and assassins and warriors from across the empire, each sponsored by a member of the king's council. If she beats her opponents in a series of eliminations, she'll serve the kingdom for three years and then be granted her freedom.

Celaena finds her training sessions with the captain of the guard, Westfall, challenging and exhilirating. But she's bored stiff by court life. Things get a little more interesting when the prince starts to show interest in her... but it's the gruff Captain Westfall who seems to understand her best.

Then one of the other contestants turns up dead... quickly followed by another. Can Celaena figure out who the killer is before she becomes a victim? As the young assassin investigates, her search leads her to discover a greater destiny than she could possibly have imagined."- summary from Amazon

I have yet to finish the book and I'm working until 3pm today, so don't have the time to put up a proper review until later. I have about 100 pages left (my work schedule's been hectic the past two weeks) but as of now, I absolutely adore this book. Celaena is a great main character and I'm really enjoying reading her journey. I also love that it's done in 3rd person omniscient so that we can read about other characters every so often, like Chaol, Dorian, and Kaltain.

Maas has created a wonderful world here, though I wish I had a copy of the map because that would make things a bit easier. I keep reading about all these different places in this world and no idea where they all are.

If you're a fantasy fan, this is a great debut to check out and I cannot wait to read more of Maas' books. A full review will be posted here once I finish the book, hopefully later tonight.

and here's my interview with Sarah:
1) How did you get the idea for Throne of Glass?

Well, I was sixteen (back in 2002), and listening to Disney’s Cinderella soundtrack one night. And when the music that accompanies Cinderella’s escape from the ball played, I found myself thinking that it was way too dark and intense to fit that scene—that it’d be much better-suited for a story in which Cinderella had done something really bad, like steal from the prince. Or, even worse: if she was an assassin who had just tried to assassinate the prince. Thus, Celaena Sardothien was born.

2) Looking at your bio, I see you're a fan of anime. What are some of your favorite shows (my all-time fave is Sailor Moon)? How'd you find anime growing up?

Sailor Moon is my favorite, too! Though I also adored Revolutionary Girl Utena, Gundam Wing, Ronan Warriors, Fushigi Yuugi, Magic Knight Rayearth, and Escaflowne (and many more).

Sailor Moon was basically my gateway drug. (Well, the entire Toonami line up was…wayyy back in the day.) I used to watch it every single afternoon on Toonami. I’d seriously SPRINT home from school in 7th and 8th grade, just so I could make it home in time to watch. (Confession: I also recorded every single episode on VHS).

Once I got hooked on Sailor Moon, and learned about anime and manga and the whole culture/history of anime, it led to discovering other series. This was back before this stuff was widely available both in-person and on the internet, so I often had to wait for my local FYE (are those still in business?) to get a new shipment of anime. Dark, dark times for anime fans. ;)

3) What's your favorite Jelly Belly jelly bean flavor(s)? Or if you don't eat jelly beans, your favorite snack to have while writing?

I love red apple! I ate a POUND of it one time. Yikes.

4) What book(s) are you currently reading, or are about to start?

I have FOR DARKNESS SHOWS THE STARS by Diana Peterfreund my nightstand right now (can’t wait to read it), and I’ve been waiting for months and months for Nalini Singh’s next GUILD HUNTER novel (ARCHANGEL’S STORM) to release (less than a month left!!!!)!

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

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Blog Tour- The Stone Girl by Alyssa B. Sheinmel

The Stone Girl by Alyssa B. Sheinmel
"She feels like a creature out of a fairy tale; a girl who discovers that her bones are really made out of stone, that her skin is really as thin as glass, that her hair is brittle as straw, that her tears have dried up so that she cries only salt. Maybe that's why it doesn't hurt when she presses hard enough to begin bleeding: it doesn't hurt, because she's not real anymore.

Sethie Weiss is hungry, a mean, angry kind of hunger that feels like a piece of glass in her belly. She’s managed to get down to 111 pounds and knows that with a little more hard work—a few more meals skipped, a few more snacks vomited away—she can force the number on the scale even lower. She will work on her body the same way she worked to get her perfect grades, to finish her college applications early, to get her first kiss from Shaw, the boy she loves, the boy who isn’t quite her boyfriend.

Sethie will not allow herself one slip, not one bad day, not one break in concentration. Her body is there for her to work on when everything and everyone else—her best friend, her schoolwork, and Shaw—are gone."- summary from Amazon

WOW. I really need to read more of Sheinmel's books. I've been a fan of her sister's for a while and have been meaning to read her books, but it took this blog tour to finally squeeze one of her books into my reading schedule.

Sheinmel's prose is effortless in this book and it really seemed almost stream-of-consciousness writing even though it was done in third person. Thoughts flowed out naturally and moved in that sort of rhythm. It was really interesting.

Reading Sethie's story was different from the other food/weight issue books I've read. Sethie just seemed like such a real character and, like Sheinmel writes in a letter to her readers (at least in the ARC, not sure if it'll show up in the hardcover), not just an anorexic or bulemic or whatever. Sethie is a mixture of everything and it was heartbreaking to read her thoughts.

What I also liked was how we just see how Sethie sees things- she has such a different perspective on how much she eats versus someone else's perspective as the reader sees toward the end of the book when Sethie is confronted. Sheinmel did a wonderful job with all the interactions between characters too. I loved the characters of Janey and Ben and it was always great to see them in the scene.

Overall, a fantastic novel and I need to go back and read Sheinmel's first two books very soon. The Stone Girl will be released August 28! You can pre-order a copy from Amazon by clicking the link above.

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

Monday, August 6, 2012

Blog Tour- Rift by Andrea Cremer

I'm so pleased to be part of the awesome blog tour for Rift by Andrea Cremer. I love the Nightshade series and can't wait to get started on the prequel series. To get acquainted with the characters in the books, each blog is posting character descriptions. Mine and Alistair and Barrow, and you can see the full list at the end of the post of who's being featured and what blogs they'll be on (bookmark them all because they're great blogs!)!

Alistair: Two years Ember’s elder, Alistair has always seen himself as Ember’s champion. Raised on neighboring Scottish lowland estates, Alistair and Ember have been best friends since childhood. They’ve been separated for the first time since Alistair voluntarily pledged his service to the knights of Conatus. His letters assure Ember that she belongs with him at the Conatus stronghold of Tearmunn, an isolated keep in the highlands, but he reveals little about who the knights of Conatus are.

Age: 18
Hair: Coal black curls
Eyes: Bright blue
Zodiac sign: Pisces

Celebrity lookalike: Nicholas Hoult

Barrow: Orphaned as a young boy, Barrow has been raised in the Conatus keep of Tearmunn. He is counted among the best warriors of the Conatus Guard due to his shrewd sensibilities and his innate martial skill. Though often reserved, Barrow never hesitates to act on behalf of Conatus’ secret work in the world. His defense of the order’s mission leads him to intervene in Ember’s life in a way that brings them dangerously close.

Age: 23
Hair: Deep brown
Eyes: Gray
Zodiac sign: Taurus

Celebrity lookalike: Henry Cavill

To find out more about Andrea's books, you can visit the website and Facebook page. If you want to know about Andrea herself, check out her website and Twitter. For more about the whole Breathless Reads program, there's a Facebook page and Tumblr.

Blog Tour Schedule

Monday morning, 8.6 Mundie Moms - Ember and Agnes
Monday afternoon, 8.6 Book Chic - Alistair and Barrow
Tuesday, 8.7 The Book Muncher - Eira and Cian
Wednesday, 8.8 Frenetic Reader - Kael, Lukasz and Sorcha
Thursday, 8.9 Page Turners - Conatus
Friday, 8.10 Love, Romance, Passion – Tearmunn

Friday, August 3, 2012

Deleted Scenes Blog Tour- Anastasia Forever by Joy Preble

I'm taking part in the Deleted Scenes blog tour for Anastasia Forever by Joy Preble. I've got a deleted scene from Anastasia Forever, the third book in the series.

Here is a bit of background on the scene from Joy Preble:

The Anastasia Forever deleted scene is my favorite. I had originally envisioned Anne turning into a full blown Baba Yaga much earlier. And so I wrote this scene where she and Ben and Tess and Ethan all go to that Swedish film festival, but in the middle of the story. And there's all this wonderful tension and just at the moment that Ben decides to confront Anne about Ethan and her feelings, Anne realizes that smelling Ben's cologne is making her hungry. Really hungry. And well, she almost eats him. And after that much wackiness ensued. But in the end, I didn't go this route. But it is fun to see what might have been had my editor seen it.

and here's the deleted scene. Enjoy!:

We stop at the base of the Grand Staircase - all pretty marble and elegant looking. I’ve always loved those stairs – regal in a way that most things aren’t these days. Once when I was five, David chased me up and down the stairs until we were both red-faced and out of breath and Mom was pissed that we wouldn’t settle down and let her show us the paintings. The stairs were more fun.

“My stomach hurts,” Tess observes.

“It should,” Ben comments testily. “You just ate your body weight in Red Vines.” Then to all of us: “Coffee’s in the other building if that’s what you want.” Since we walked into the lobby, he’s been directing his comments sort of generally into the air.

“In a minute. Let’s run to the top. I need to stretch.” I don’t wait for group agreement, just lope up the stairs and assume they’ll follow me, which after a few beats, they do.

On the second floor landing, I stretch my arms into classic ballet third position – arms over my head, elbows rounded, palms inward but fingers not touching. My gladiator sandals aren’t the best footwear for this, and I’m wearing a pair of gray cargo pants and a short white tee – hardly ballet clothes - but that’s okay. Until I’d started back subbing at Miss Amy’s, I’d forgotten in the mess that is my life, how much I love dance.

“Your form needs work,” Tess says. She rises up on her toes as much as she can in her black Chucks and skinny jeans and pirouettes around me. She’s a way better dancer than I am these days, even goofing around. Of the two of I us, I’d always been more focused and disciplined. Not any more.

“Coffee?” Ethan asks again. “Wasn’t that the plan?” I know he thinks this is a waste of time – and also dangerous since everything’s at risk for girls who make bargains with witches. Ben needs to man up and move on. But I can’t just push Ben under the metaphor bus like that, and I’m sure he knows this.

I ignore his cranky tone and try out my arabesque - also in need of some serious work.

“Let’s get that coffee.” It’s Ben’s turn to sound cranky. He beckons toward the stairs. “You know that first movie won an award at Sundance. It’s really--”

“Your after shave is really strong.” The comment pops out of nowhere and I feel my cheeks redden. What a stupid thing to say. But suddenly the smell of his cologne is all I can think of. My stomach rumbles, embarrassingly loud. Maybe I should have had some of that popcorn.

I jump on the coffee train. “You know what? A latte would be great right now.”

I’ve just spent almost four hours trying not to fall into a coma while watching Swedish people look unhappy and occasionally have sex in metro bus stations and in one instance, a barn. My fingers feel all tingly. My skin feels sticky and clammy. Am I having a panic attack?

Other museum-goers stream around us. The light overhead through the huge skylight dims noticeably. I look up. Thick gray clouds. The faint sound of thunder rumbles. My heart kicks into overdrive. Am I about to throw up? Maybe it’s the flu.

“You want to talk,” Ben says. “So let’s talk. You’re right. I can’t keep pretending all those things didn’t happen. I dream about them, you know that? Your boss, Mrs. Benson? Those things – those mermaid things – they surrounded her. I heard them breaking her into pieces. You know that, right?”

“Ben.” I’m feeling sicker now, but I try to focus. But Ben doesn’t want to be interrupted. He glances at Ethan - something dangerous brewing in his eyes and the set of his jaw.

“Outside,” I gasp. What the hell is wrong with me?

“Anne?” Ethan’s voice rises above the buzzing in my head, but I ignore him, too.

I turn and stumble down the stairs. My ears are ringing. Or is it just the thunder getting louder? I shouldn’t be doing this. But I can’t seem to think of anything but putting distance between myself and Ben. In my head, I see us a few weeks ago – my hands burning his face. Me running then, too, and calling Ethan.

I’m in the lobby now, shoulder against the heavy front doors of the Art Institute. Out onto the cement landing and then down the stairs - running onto Michigan Avenue. It starts to rain – small drops that get larger and fatter, falling on my head, my face, my hands. Even in my panic – it is pure panic right now, mixed with something else I can’t identify – I wonder if it’s somehow me that’s making it rain.

“Anne!” All three of them are calling my name – Ben and Tess and Ethan. The sound of it echoes in the air around me.

On the sidewalk, standing between the two huge lion statues that flank the Art Institute steps – the ones David and I used to love to shimmy so we could straddle their backs while Dad snapped pictures - I force myself to stop. This is ridiculous. Why am I running? What is it that I’m afraid of? My heart skips then steadies, then skips again. That weird feeling skates the inside of my stomach.

I turn. Ben’s reached me first and he puts his hands on my shoulders. His hair is wet from the rain and a drizzle of water inches down the side of his face.

“Should I be afraid?” he asks, his face serious now, his brown eyes locked on mine.

It’s the question that sparks everything inside me like a lit match falling on dry wood. Not What’s wrong? or What do you need? But “Should I be afraid?”

“Ben,” I say slowly because I understand now what’s happening and I don’t know if I can stop it. “I think you need to run. I think you need to do it now.”

He stares at me like I’m crazy. “What are talking about?”

“You need to get away from me,” I say again, but I can see that he’s not going to. That even after everything he’s seen, he still doesn’t get it. “Oh God, Ben. Go. Ethan!” I look blindly around me and even though I’m sure Ethan is right there, my vision is red and hazy and I can barely make him out. “Oh no. Ethan. You have to--”

I’m her then, not completely, but more Baba Yaga than me. Her power stretches inside me, a spiderweb of fury. I clench my fists; try to hold it back.

Ben doesn’t get it yet – how could he? He presses a hand to my cheek, palm against my skin.

“You’re burning up,” he says. And all I can think is how good he smells. How good he’ll taste.

Ben pulls his hand back. I lean toward him, my face close to his. Someone – Ethan maybe? Maybe him and Tess? – tries to pull me back, but I’m too strong. I hold my ground. Watch the confusion in Ben’s eyes.

No one should underestimate your power, says a voice inside me that sounds like Baba Yaga’s.

Anne, says another voice that I think is Ethan. Don’t. Don’t give in to it. Hold on.

“I can’t.”

“Can’t what, Anne? Anne, are you okay?” Ben sounds scared.

I try to stop. I really do. But I can’t. Or maybe I don’t want to. This scares me more than the sound of Ben’s voice.

Lightning, I think.

It shears through the sky.

Thunder, I think.

It crashes overhead.

Roar, I think.

And the two lion statues open their mouths and howl.

I press my lips to Ben’s. Will him not to pull back. His eyes widen as I sink my teeth into his lower lip – hard, then harder - until I draw blood. I lick it from his lip. Swallow. My stomach muscles ripple, seize, ripple again. My jaw loosens; the bones pop. My breath comes in ragged gasps. Pain. Red hot and everywhere.

“Anne!” I hear my name again. “Anne.”

My jaw loosens some more. I press my lips shut, a tight seam, desperate to stop it. My teeth dig into my lower lip so hard that blood starts to trickle. The taste of it mingles with the taste of Ben. The combination is suddenly the best thing I’ve ever tasted. I’m not just hungry anymore. I’m ravenous.

Understand crashes through me. No. God no. If I open my mouth, it will unhinge like hers. I know it. I know it. It’s not Ben’s cologne. It’s just Ben. He smells so good because he smells like food. And if someone doesn’t do something right this second, I’m going to eat him whole.

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Team Human by Justine Larbalestier and Sarah Rees Brennan

Team Human by Justine Larbalestier and Sarah Rees Brennan
"Just because Mel lives in New Whitby, a city founded by vampires, doesn't mean she knows any of the blood-drinking undead personally. They stay in their part of town; she says in hers. Until the day a vampire shows up at her high school. Worse yet, her best friend, Cathy, seems to be falling in love with him. It's up to Mel to save Cathy from a mistake she might regret for all eternity!

On top of trying to help Cathy (whether she wants it or not), Mel is investigating a mysterious disappearance for another friend and discovering the attractions of a certain vampire wannabe. Combine all this with a cranky vampire cop, a number of unlikely romantic entanglements, and the occasional zombie, and soon Mel is hip-deep in an adventure that is equal parts hilarious and touching."- summary from Amazon

Oh my goodness, I loved this book!! I absolutely adored Mel's voice- very sarcastic and I'm always a huge fan of that. I also liked watching her evolve throughout the book and seeing how her interactions change. I especially liked seeing her and Kit together (by the way, I kinda want a Kit of my own now) and their quick wit.

Brennan and Larbalestier do a great job co-writing, you basically forget it's two different people. The prose is very smooth and is consistent throughout. I really enjoyed that while the book had vast amounts of humor, there's also a lot of emotional journeys and some dark stuff going on. I did figure out the mystery a bit before it was revealed, but that didn't bother me too much. I really liked how the authors made the town of New Whitby- its history and how it works. Their take on how vampires are made is pretty clever and unique too.

Overall, a definite recommended read for vampire fans and haters alike (like Maureen Johnson says in her blurb) and also for those of us who don't care about them either way and just want a good read.

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