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Win a copy of Nobody and Every Other Day by Jennifer Lynn Barnes (ends 2/20)

Saturday, January 31, 2009

Saving Juliet

The last giveaway is for a signed copy of Suzanne Selfors' Saving Juliet!

1. +1 entry for commenting on this post
2. +1 entry for following me
3. +1 entry for blogging about this contest
4. +2 entries for ... (this is a secret...)
5. Leave me a way to contact you
6. If blogging, please leave me a link
7. The extra entry puzzles/riddles will not accepted for this celebration week.

This is an INTERNATIONAL giveaway. It will end on the 18th of February!

THIS GIVEAWAY IS CLOSED

Getting the Girl

So I'm trying to pick up the pace for my Chinese New Year Celebration and the last two post I have are just giveaways.

The first giveaway is for Getting the Girl by Susan Juby

1. +1 entry for commenting on this post
2. +1 entry for following me
3. +1 entry for blogging about this contest
4. +2 entries for ... (this is a secret...)
5. Leave me a way to contact you
6. If blogging, please leave me a link
7. The extra entry puzzles/riddles will not accepted for this celebration week.

This giveaway will end on February 17th. US and Canada only!

THIS GIVEAWAY IS CLOSED

Cruel Summer Winner

Okay so my contest for Cruel Summer ended last night. I started to pick the winner around 5 PM yesterday since I was so bored, but RIGHT after I sorted through everything, I had some last minute entries. Yes, plural. I then added all of it up and typed it up on my spreadsheet, I got ready to pick a winner. I was hoping to do the same way as I did for Aurelia, list randomizer, numbers, die, but after getting about 15 different numbers (long story...), I got frustrated after 20 minutes of this. So I'm tired and I don't feel like explaining this anymore...The winner of Cruel Summer is...

I'm feeling grumpy and don't feel like contacting *cough harassing cough* you so email me your addy Carol, which I already have, but hey, it's the spirit of a giveaway.

P.S. Carol only had ONE entry which was a HUGE shock for me.

Friday, January 30, 2009

Hebrew School

Just in the nick of time, I have Lisa Ann Sandell!
Between the years I was in first grade and twelfth, I had to go to Hebrew School. Two to three times a week. I was not a fan at the time, but now, I am so glad my parents forced me to go. I picked up all kinds of stories along the way—stories from the bible, stories of the Jewish holidays, folktales, morality tales. And one of the stories that has always staid with me goes something like this:

Once there was a man with a very large and very noisy family. He, his wife, their children—and there was a whole bunch of them, and somebody was always crying or yelling—lived in a hut with just one room. So, there was really no escape for this poor, beleaguered man from the constant rumble of human sounds, and it was driving the man crazy. One day he goes to his rabbi and complains that it’s entirely too loud in his hut.

The rabbi asks, “Do you have any animals?”

“Animals?” the man repeats.

“Yeah, animals, like chickens, geese—poultry?” the rabbi prods.

“Sure, I’ve got some chickens and geese and ducks,” the man answers slowly.

“Perfect,” the rabbi says. “Now bring them into your house?”

“Into my house?” the man asks, shocked. He’s very confused, poor guy. But he does as the rabbi instructed and brings his chicken, ducks, and geese into his tiny little hut. The noise level only gets worse. The man can’t sleep with all the yelling and crying and quacking and clucking and honking. He goes back to the rabbi and tells him that the hut is louder. “I can’t stand it!” he complains.

“I see,” the rabbi says, stroking his long, white beard. “Well, do you have any other animals?”

“Yes, I have a goat,” the man responds.

“Perfect! Bring your goat into the hut,” the rabbi instructs.

The man is very confused now, because bringing the goat into his hut sounds like a terrible idea. He does it anyway, and as you might expect, the hut is even louder. The man can’t sleep with the crowding and the noise. So he runs back to the rabbi, and tells him, “The noise is even worse than before! Why did you tell me to bring the goat into the house?”

The rabbi looks at him calmly, and says, “I see. Do you have any other animals?”

“Yes, I have a cow.”

“Great, so bring the cow into your house.”

The man shakes his head dispiritedly, but does as the rabbi commanded him. Now the noise and the crowding in the tiny little hut is absolutely unbearable. He runs back to the rabbi, and says, “Rabbi, what are you doing to me? I can’t sleep, I can’t stand it anymore! There’s no room for any of us to breathe, and the noise is unbearable.”

“Take the animals back outside,” the rabbi tells him.

The man is gone practically before the rabbi is finished talking. He takes the cow and the goat and the ducks and the geese and the chicks back outside into the yard. And that night the man and his family enjoy the most peaceful rest.

The next morning the man returns to the rabbi and says, “Guess what, Rabbi. My family and I slept through the night, and it was quiet and there was room to breathe!”

The rabbi inspects the man with his wise old eyes and says, “Just remember, whenever it seems like things are bad, it can always be worse.”
The wonderful people of Scholastic is sending me a copy of Song of the Sparrow to give to a lucky commenter! Since I'll be the one mailing to the winner, once again it's a US only giveaway!

1. +1 entry for commenting on this post
2. +1 entry for following me
3. +1 entry for blogging about this contest
4. +2 entries for ... (this is a secret...)
5. Leave me a way to contact you
6. If blogging, please leave me a link
7. The extra entry puzzles/riddles will not accepted for this celebration week.
8. This giveaway will end on the 19th of February mostly because I have to wait for it to arrive.

THIS GIVEAWAY IS CLOSED

I Take My Luck Where I Can Get It

While cleaning out my inbox folder, I found this guest post! Yikes, I almost forgot about Eileen!

I'm thrilled to be a part of a Chinese New Year Celebration for a couple of reasons:
1) who doesn't like to be invited to a party, and
2) it is like getting to do New Years all over again! Even if you've already screwed up your resolutions from Jan 1, now you can start all over. It's like a giant cosmic resolution do-over.

I'm lucky enough to live in Vancouver Canada which has a huge Chinese influence. We have a cool Chinese New Year parade complete with music, dancing and those great dancing dragons that I love. It wasn't until we moved here that I heard of the Chinese Zodiac. A whole new source of luck!

My traditional astrology sign is Pisces. I don't believe in my horoscope- unless it says something really good in which case I decide that I TOTALLY believe and hope for the best. Looking at the Chinese Zodiac lets me have another set of predictions that I can choose from. The Chinese Zodiac is a 12-year cycle. Each year in the cycle is named after an animals. Each animal has a different personality and different characteristics, just like the traditional zodiac signs. Your animal is what is supposed to give you your traits and determine your success and happiness.

My sign is the Rooster. At first I was somewhat disappointed because I was hoping to be a cooler looking animal like the dragon or the tiger. Nothing against roosters of course, but who wants to snuggle with one? However, Roosters have a lot going for them, here is what was listed about roosters on one site: "Roosters are the most eccentric of the Chinese zodiac. They are full of dreams and romantic ideas. They are colorful and attractive, radiant and dashing, and they are quite proud of themselves. Roosters are organized, precise,and their sharp eyes seek out fine details in everything. They are perfectionists and leave no room for human error. To Roosters, a difficult task is a challenge. They dearly love starting controversies. Roosters express themselves very well both in writing and speech."

How about that? The most eccentric? Dashing! However, the whole description doesn't fit. I'm far from a perfectionist and many of the fine details slip away from me. The site suggests that Roosters can make great accountants. Uh.... I don't think so. This is one rooster who isn't so great at math.

2009 is the year of the Ox. This apparently means that it will be a year for tradition and values with an emphasis on hard work. Sounds promising. I believe we make our own luck in this world, but I have to admit I love checking my horoscope. How about you? What is your Chinese Zodiac sign and does it describe you or not?
Who knew this was coming? Anyway, Eileen was wonderful enough it give away a signed copy of "What Would Emma Do?"!

1. +1 entry for commenting on this post
2. +1 entry for following me
3. +1 entry for blogging about this contest
4. +2 entries for ... (this is a secret...)
5. Leave me a way to contact you
6. If blogging, please leave me a link
7. The extra entry puzzles/riddles will not accepted for this celebration week.

This is an INTERNATIONAL giveaway! It will end on February 13th! Just a little note, if you live in Europe or Asia, Eileen won't be sending it airmail.

THIS GIVEAWAY IS NOW CLOSED

Thursday, January 29, 2009

The Year of the Horse

And now we have Jillian Cantor!
One of my guilty pleasures is astrology. I read my horoscope every morning at breakfast. I like knowing what will be in store for me each day, whether my day is predicted to be 5 stars or 2 stars, and though I only half believe it, I can’t keep myself from looking! (What do you expect? I’m a Gemini! I have dual personality traits!!) So when Yan asked me to write a post for the Chinese New Year, I immediately thought of Chinese Astrology, and I did a little reading up to see where I fit in in the Chinese Zodiac.

I was born in the year of the horse. From what I’ve read, that means I should be energetic, intelligent, persistent, healthy, a good communicator, and creative. I should also like to be the center of attention. Okay, that last part is blatantly not me – I hate being the center of attention – the very thought makes me want to break out into hives!

But the rest really fits me to a tee. I am definitely creative (I even read that a good career for a horse is a writer.) and persistent (It did take me nearly 5 years to get The September Sisters sold after I wrote it, and I refused to give up!). I’m a good communicator – at least in a writerly sense – and I even did a small stint as a journalist in college. I’ve always considered myself intelligent and did very, very well in school. And healthy living – eating tons of fruits and vegetables and exercising -- is definitely an important part of my life.

Of course, if you think about it, you have to wonder, how can every person born in the same year have the same traits? But at least, in my case, horse seems to fit me rather well! So what sign are you, and do the traits fit you? Check out this cool website: www.chinesezodiac.com
You can find Jillian at www.jilliancantor.com

Lisa Yee and Absolutely Maybe

Okay so I have a confession to make. About the majority of this interview was predone. I was under a lot of stress and I just couldn't find the time to think of some questions, so I apologize. Obviously I will never ever do this again, however, I did manage to come up with some questions in a few minutes before I caved.

About the Author
Lisa Yee was born and raised near Los Angeles and grew up loving to read. She attended the University of Southern California, where she majored in English and Humanities. Lisa has been an associate director of a creative think tank and co-owner and creative director of Magic Pencil Studios, a strategic creative company. She has written and directed creative projects for Fortune 500 clients and led creativity seminars. Yee’s novel Millicent Min, Girl Genius is winner of the prestigious Sid Fleischman Humor Award; her second novel, Stanford Wong Flunks Big-Time, won the Chinese American Librarian Association Best Book of the Year Award. Lisa lives in South Pasadena, California, with her husband, Scott, and her two children, Benny and Kate.

Q: Can you talk about the genesis of Absolutely Maybe? Why did you want to write the book?
A: It began with a title, Charm School Dropout. I was curious about what it would be like to be the goth-ish tomboy daughter of a diva-esque ex- beauty queen. But as I started writing, the story evolved and became more complex and deeper in scope than I had first anticipated. It also changed from a lighter middle grade novel to a darker, though still humorous, YA novel. Having written middle grade novels before, it was quite liberating to write without constraints. I have a teenaged daughter and while working on Absolutely Maybe, I kept her in mind as my reader.

Q: How did the character of Maybe develop? Did she evolve as you developed the story or was she clear in the beginning?
A: Maybe, who's named after Maybelline cosmetics, came to me all at once. I really felt like I knew her, though she did reveal herself even more as I began writing. She presents such a hard exterior, but inside she's still very much a little girl looking for love and stability. I always write my endings first, so I knew where I was going. Only, I wasn't sure how I'd get there. But because Maybe was such a strong presence, I let her take the lead and show me the way.

Q: What was the most difficult part (or character) in the story to write and why?
A: It was hard to write Chessy, Maybe's mom, because she makes so many bad choices. She hurts Maybe repeatedly and appears to be the total opposite of her daughter. Yet, there had to be something redeeming about her to make Maybe's feelings about her mother be so strong and conflicted. Chessy was also very over-the-top in her beauty queen way, yet I knew I also had to make her vulnerable and sympathetic to round her out.

Q: What themes in the story do you hope resonate the most with teens and why?
A: When I begin writing I always assign a word to my main character. It reminds me of who they are and what they are looking for. With Maybe, her word was aimless. As the story began, she was sort of meandering and, even though she didn't realize it, she was looking for her identity. Maybe had an inner strength that she was not aware of. She had the ability to affect other people's lives for the better, but couldn't see it. Many teens doubt themselves. They underestimate their power, but it's there. It's there.

Q: Which character do you like the best in the story and why? the least?
A: I absolutely love Ted. OMG, he was sooooo fun to write. I had to be careful, though, or else he would have run away with the book. I'd sit and laugh out loud whenever I was writing scenes he was in. But like with all outrageous characters, I knew that Ted probably was very introspective too. Sometimes bravado can hide something. And it was wonderful leaving clues about the real Ted. As for the character I liked the least, I think that would be Gunnar. The way he treated Maybe was awful, but she had to meet him in order to move on with the rest of her life. The way he was, and their meeting, also put her relationship with her mother into perspective.

Q1: Under what animal were you born under?
A1: I was born during the year of the pig. Oink.

Q2: Do you think this describes your personality well? If not, which animal do you think you should have been born under?
A2: Hmmmm . . . well, there are aspects of the pig that I feel describe me, like loyal and thoughtful. However, I can identify with the horse more. I mean, the horse is quick-witted, perceptive, agile mentally and physically, open-minded and astute. Who wouldn't want to be those things?

You can visit Lisa at her blog, or her website.

Again, the publishers and Lisa was kind enough to donate an ARC of her latest book Absolutely Maybe!

1. +1 entry for commenting on this post
2. +1 entry for following me
3. +1 entry for blogging about this contest
4. +2 entries for ... (this is a secret...)
5. Leave me a way to contact you
6. If blogging, please leave me a link
7. The extra entry puzzles/riddles will not accepted for this celebration week.

This is a US only giveaway! It will end on February 16th!

THIS GIVEAWAY IS CLOSED

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Find the Beauty

Up next we have the amazing Justina Chen Headley! So this isn't exactly a guest post about folklore but I thought it was too wonderful to pass up!

Hello, fellow Yan fans! Yan invited me to guest blog here. What an honor! For people new to my work, it's my tradition to tie community service to every book I publish. So to celebrate my new novel, NORTH OF BEAUTIFUL, I am sponsoring the FIND BEAUTY CHALLENGE. I am challenging you to define what True Beauty really means to you--is it your friends? your family? your favorite book? something special about YOU?

Here's how the Find Beauty Challenge works. Load a 90-second video on www.youtube.com/northofbeautiful, telling the world what's truly beautiful to you, and you might win yourself an iPod Touch! Other fabulous prizes for runners-up include an autographed set of my novels: Nothing but the Truth (and a few white lies), Girl Overboard, and North of Beautiful. As well, there will be other wonderful teen book giveaways! For every video about beauty that fans upload to this channel, I will donate $10 (up to $1,000) to help children in third-world countries born with cleft lips and palates.

I'm hosting the Find Beauty Challenge because my new book deals with beauty. From behind, you'd think Terra Cooper in NORTH OF BEAUTIFUL had it all: she's tall but not too tall, has a figure to kill for, and boasts naturally blonde hair. But the palm-sized birthmark on her face might as well be her fate map. Everyone in her small, touristy town knows what's hidden beneath the heavy makeup she's worn since birth. Sick of being the town oddity and even sicker of her caustic mapmaker of a father, Terra yearns to escape the suffocating grid of her life. And then she nearly runs over a Goth boy, and encounters True Beauty in him and herself.


North of Beautiful: The Find Beauty Challenge judging criteria
1) The Top 5 videos will be chosen by YOU based on the most views and highest ratings. So be sure to tell all your friends to vote for you! Any ties will be broken by the North of Beautiful team.

2) The North of Beautiful team will score the five finalists on A) 40 percent emotional appeal (humor, pull-on-the-heartstrings, incites activism, etc.); B) 40 percent content (clean, widespread appeal across audiences, plot – if applicable, scriptwriting – if applicable); and C) 20 percent professionalism (smooth transitions, stable video, non-jarring editing cuts, constant audio levels).

3) All videos must contain original content. Your entry indicates you understand this and have the legal rights to distribute your video.

4) Any videos deemed inappropriate by the North of Beautiful team will be removed. Please don't upload anything that wouldn't, say, be shown on television during prime-time hours, or anything you wouldn't want to watch with your first-grade teacher. So no nudity, profanity, or racial slurs.

5) The contest will run from 12:01 a.m. Feb. 1, 2009 until 11:59 p.m. Mar. 30, 2009. Anything submitted before or after the deadline can't be considered.

6) Justina will donate $10 for every uploaded video (for a maximum of $1,000) to Global Surgical Outreach to help fund facial surgeries for kids in the third world.

7) The Find Beauty Challenge is open to people over 14.

8) The Grand Prize winner will receive one iPod Touch. 3 runners up will receive fabulous gifts, such as an autographed collection of Justina's novels, other free books, etc.
I hope everyone will participate for this challenge! It's for such a worthy cause and it connects to her latest book, North of Beautiful! Speaking of which, after raving on and on about how much I loved it, Justina generously offered 3! galley copies of North of Beautiful!

1. +1 entry for commenting on this post
2. +1 entry for following me
3. +1 entry for blogging about this contest
4. +2 entries for ... (this is a secret...)
5. Leave me a way to contact you
6. If blogging, please leave me a link
7. The extra entry puzzles/riddles will not accepted for this celebration week.

This is an US only giveaway! It will end on February 12th!

GIVEAWAY IS NOW CLOSED

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Interruption!

Okay so I bring you this interruption of my celebration week to bring you Lauren of Shooting Star Mag for this fabulous idea she had!

"I know that Amy has done a Book Blogger Appreciation Week and I think that's an amazing idea and even hope to help with this year's celebration. However, I was thinking that it might be nice to do something to show appreciation for specific bloggers (this can be any blogger, though I do know most YA bloggers read my blog so it would be nice to at least START with one of them).

The idea is to have one or two bloggers be picked (by other bloggers) each month and during that month, other bloggers need to come up with something to send to that blogger. It doesn't have to be anything huge. It can simply be a card saying how you were inspired to start a blog because of them, or read a book because of them, or that you really just love their blog and think they are doing a good job. Show your appreciation in any way you can!

If you can't mail something, write a really nice email and send it to them during their month. It doesn't matter!

Now, if you are picked, what do you do?
-Let us know if you don't mind anyone having your address to send their gift, or if you want certain people to have it and for everyone to send their gift to THEM and they will send everything to YOU (mix it so not ONE person has to send everything). Does that make sense?

Who can be a part of this?

-Again, this can be anyone, but I'd love to get this set up this week so that we have two people picked for the month of February and one of them should be YA, since like I said, mostly YA bloggers read my stuff (or so it seems based on comments!)

-Anyone can be nominated. The most win. If it ties, we'll try and break the tie or simply pick randomly between the people. If you are nominated but want to step down, that's up to you. We'll contact you if you are picked of course!"

here's the link to her post, and leave a comment for any suggestions and whatnot~

The Coming of the Corn

It's day 2 of my celebration week and Tina Ferraro is up!
Like many Americans, my family hails from several countries. Mostly European, but my maternal grandfather had been part American Indian. My mother didn’t know much about his background--he had died when she was young and they’d lost contact with that side of the family--but she told me what she thought to be the tribal name.

Years passed, and I became curious about my Indian roots. I researched the tribal name my mother told me, but found that tribe had never lived anywhere near her hometown. So I made some phone calls, and found a relative who told me with certainty that the tribe was the Sauk and Fox. I checked the history on this tribe, and yes, they had originally resided in the exact Illinois/Iowa area.

From there, I proceed to learn all I could about the tribe, and to try to make their history feel like part of my own. In fact, the Sauk and Fox have a reservation in Oklahoma now, with annual reunions in July, and one of these days you might catch me attending!

In the meantime, Id love to share a legend relayed by the Sauk chief, Black Hawk, who made his name by leading a band of warriors against the U.S. forces (including a soldier named Abraham Lincoln). This is from his 1833 autobiography (with thanks to www.native-languages.org):

I will relate the manner in which corn first came. According to tradition handed down to our people, a beautiful woman was seen to descend from the clouds, and alight upon the earth, by two of our ancestors who had killed a deer, and were sitting by a fire roasting a part of it to eat. They were astonished at seeing her, and concluded that she was hungry and had smelt the meat. They immediately went to her, taking with them a piece of the roasted venison. They presented it to her, she ate it, telling them to return to the spot where she was sitting at the end of one year, and they would find a reward for their kindness and generosity. She then ascended to the clouds and disappeared. The men returned to their village, and explained to the tribe what they had seen, done and heard, but were laughed at by their people. When the period had arrived for them to visit this consecrated ground, where they were to find a reward for their attention to the beautiful woman of the clouds, they went with a large party, and found where her right hand had rested on the ground corn growing, where the left hand had rested beans, and immediately where she had been seated, tobacco.

I think this is a wonderful way to explaining the arrival of crops, from the beautiful woman, to the hunters returning with a large party as witnesses. Almost makes me wonder if my own gift for storytelling didn’t derive from my American Indian roots.

I hope you enjoyed this brief look at Sauk and Fox legend, and many thanks to Yan for giving me the opportunity to present it.
Tina was generous enough to offer a copy of her latest book The ABC's of Kissing Boys!

1. +1 entry for commenting on this post
2. +1 entry for following me
3. +1 entry for blogging about this contest
4. +2 entries for ... (this is a secret...)

This is an INTERNATIONAL giveaway! It will end on February 14th! Please leave a way for me to contact you as well.

P.S. The extra entry puzzles/riddles will not accepted for this celebration week. Again, if you blog about this contest, leave me a link to it.

THIS GIVEAWAY IS CLOSED

Monday, January 26, 2009

The Collier Lad's Loss

I hope everyone is having a great day today! I have a test tomorrow so I'm going to do this quickly~ Anyway, my first guest post is from Angela Morrison!
My family is living in Singapore this year, so we get to see big Chinese New Year celebrations firsthand. I don't have any New Year's traditions in my forthcoming novel,Taken by Storm (Penguin/Razorbill, March 2009), but when Yan asked me to share folklore I know about New Year's celebrations, I immediately thought of the many unique Scottish traditions I uncovered while researching my historical young adult novel, The Collier Lad's Lass.

The Scots call New Year's Eve, Hogmanay. The tradition that caught my fancy is the kissing reel. Here's a taste of it from the first chapter. Will is our Scots narrator, Jacob his brother, Mallie is the girl who loves the brother, and Lucie, well, at this point Will isn't quite sure who Lucie is anymore. And a collier is a coal miner. The scene is set in the heart of their 19th century Ayrshire coal mining village.

At celebration’s end, young and old, men and maids form a grand circle for the kissing reel. The lassies blush as the fiddler plays the familiar jig. I’ve danced the kissing reel many a time, chased a giggling lass round the circle, touched her lips to mine. Like any lad with blood in his veins, I ache for a turn.

Miss Mallie gets her chance. She drops the hanky for Jacob, and he catches her easy, plants a smack on her mouth that God, Himself, could hear from the heavens. Then Mallie has to try again. At least she got Jacob to kiss her. She drops the hanky ahind a tall collier a couple of years older than me who has his own place at the face. He’s a proud one, that. Mallie kens he’ll not try to catch her. She sprints off and makes it safe to his empty spot.

The tall collier saunters round the ring with a bored look on his mug. The lassies squirm and giggle, try to catch his eye. He passes them all up—until he gets to Lucie. Almost all of her thick hair has fallen from its pins and hangs in a wild mass down her back. Her pixie face is rosy, and her green eyes spark in the night. The coof drops the hanky ahind her.

She turns and scoops up the bit of mangled linen and lace. She runs after him, and something in my gut twists. No. I do not want her kissing that arrogant mouth. I do not want his arms to go around her. She’s fast and agile. His legs are long, but he’s not trying to get away.

Dinna catch him, lassie. Dinna catch him. Lucie stumbles on a loose stone and loses ground. Ach, her lips are safe. I let go my breath.

The collier slows so suddenly Lucie runs against him. Good Lord in his Heaven, the coof is kissing her, devouring her. My guts wrench. Tis all I can do not to knock the man down. He finally releases her. Lucie’s pale face is flushed pink, her lips blood red. Lucie’s been kissed afore in the kissing reel. All the lassie’s have. I’ve watched it afore and never cared. But tonight tis different. That was no playful salute. Anger buzzes in my brain and collides with something hotter that surprises me.

Now tis Lucie’s turn to choose. I canna breathe as she sashays round the grand circle. She spies me gawking and holds my eyes fast.

“Here, Lucie. Pick me.” A grizzled collier calls out to her.

“Did she drop it?” A wee lassie asks her mither.

“I’ll kiss ye sound,” my pal, Charlie, taunts.

I do not call out. The anger and yearning burning in me is much too strong to trust to playful banter.

As she closes on where I stand tense to catch the hankie and spring after her, I tingle from my bonnet to my brogues.

“Me, Lucie, please,” the lad aside me hollers in my ear.

“Lucie.” My whisper is hoarse, pained, but she hears me, smiles. A sweetness I’ve not kent afore opens within me and breaks against my heart like a wave curling to the shore.

The she flips her sassy head around and casts her eyes towards that beastly lout who just kissed her.

Surely no, Lucie. Dinna be a fool.

She skips past me a step—does she ken how she’s torturing me?

She turns back, gives me a saucy look that sets the broiling brew in me to steaming, and drops the hanky.

I scoop up the mangled bit of linen and lace and race round the ring of jeering dancers, needing to catch Lucie and kiss her pink mouth more than breath.

“She’s away!” An old woman cries out. Lucie seems to be flying. Her black hair streams out ahind her.

“Run, Will.” Charlie capers up and down. “Smack her sound for me.”

I’ve worked in the mine all my life. I swing a pick from dawn to dusk without tiring. Surely, I can catch Lucie.

A lad shouts, “He’s gaining.”

I’ve rock hard muscles in my legs. I push them faster.

“Hurry, lass.” A matron swings her cap.

Lucie looks back at me and loses ground.

The factor slaps his thigh with his gloves and leers. “That saucy mouth’s made for kissing.”

Laughing, triumphant, wanting her lips in a way I’ve never kent, I surge forward and grab Lucie just afore she reaches safety. With a fine flair, I whip the dainty cloth round her neck—

Och.

I pull her to me so hard I smack her with my forehead.

We rebound away from each other. Blood trickles from both her nostrils.

“Lassie, Lucie—I’m so sorry. I just wanted—”

A mass of mithers and grannies fall on Lucie. Their shrill voices scold me.

“Stand away.”

“Be off.”

“I’ve never in all my days.”

They hurry Lucie away afore I can do more damage. The commotion breaks off the reel. The celebration dwindles.

I try to get close to Lucie to see if she’s all right. I’ve a stone hard skull. She could be maimed for life. I pray to God High on His Throne that I did not break that perfect wee nose that turns up at the end. I always thought it made her face funny, like a sprite instead of a lass. What if I’ve ruined it?

I do not feel the same as I did at the beginning of the reel—eager to kiss any and every lass who would chase me down. No. I just want her lips, Lucie’s, kissing me like she kissed that collier.

I want her eyes. Her arms. Her hair. Her nose to be all right.

(c) 2010 Angela Morrison


So you've read my review for Taken by Storm, or at least I hope so, and now I'm giving away my ARC!

1. +1 entry for commenting on this post
2. +1 entry for following me
3. +1 entry for blogging about this contest
4. +2 entries for ... (this is a secret...)

This is a US only giveaway (sorry guys, but this is from my very own pockets!) and will end on February 9th! Please leave a way for me to contact you as well!

P.S. The extra entry puzzles/riddles will not accepted for this celebration week. Also, if you blog about it, leave me a link to it~

EDIT: I'm going to change it to the 15th instead of the 9th.

THIS GIVEAWAY IS CLOSED

Sunday, January 25, 2009

One Butt Cheek at a Time

Gert Garibaldi's Rants and Raves: One Butt Cheek at a Time by Amber Kizer (October 7th 2007)

Grade: 3.5 stars out of 5

Summary: “GERT GARIBALDI ISN'T ONE OF those people who believe high school is the best part of life. She has a whole notebook full of rants about high school, and she's fully aware of how ridiculous the experience is, thank you very much. Gert just wants to survive the next three years, one butt cheek at a time, with her best friend, Adam, by her side - and maybe Luscious Luke attached to her lips. With a stapler. Or something. But muddling through isn't even as easy as it seems - there are geriatric parents to deal with, Homecoming festivities (admit it - those words just sent a little chill down your spine), crushes, ed (both sex and driving), and potential new boyfriends - for both Gert and Adam.”

Overall: This was such a fun, fun book to read! It had me laughing for hours on end. Gert is like an inner diva that every girl should process in their life. With hilarious adventures and random rants, One Butt at a Time is a must read for people looking for quick and funny read. My main concern the scenes involving her physical self. Maya aka her vagina had me raising my eyebrows at points; it was just too much information needed that made it awkward to read.

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Special thanks to Amber for sending me a copy to review!

Happy Almost Chinese New Year!

Tomorrow is the official start of my celebration for...
Chinese New Year
PAR-TAY!!
We say goodbye to the rat and say hello to the ox! Ain't he just adorable!?Anyway, this is where I'm going to have all the post this upcoming week to help keep me organize and to make things easier for everyone. I'm just going to have a warning that since this was quite a spontatneous event it's not going to be very coherent...I'm hoping to have another event planned on later in the year as well, will keep you guys updated on that if it works out.

Anyway, here's a sample of what's going to occur this week.

"My family spent a month in China a few years ago. (A full month of family vacation together time...Several years later, and I think we just stopped being sick of each other from that trip!) While we were there, we learned about many of the gorgeous traditions, legends, and folklore of China. One of my favorite Chinese customs is the tradition of eating long, uncut noodles on your birthday. The length of the noodles is meant to signify longevity. The symbolism there is so simple and beautiful. And I love the idea of your family fixing you a birthday meal that wishes you a long and healthy life. Of course, I’d probably love any excuse to eat a lot of carbs!"

-- Julie Kraut, coauthor of Hot Mess and upcoming novel Slept Away.
You can visit her at JulieKraut.com

What I love about this guest post is that it's a tradition that my family and relatives also do every new year.

North of Beautiful

North of Beautiful by Justina Chen Headley (February 1st 2009)

Grade: 5 stars out of 5

Summary: “She’s tall, blond, and has an unbelievably gorgeous body. But what most people in Terra’s tiny, stifling Washington town notices is her unmistakably “flawed” face. Terra secretly plans to start a new life by leaving her small town and escaping to an East Coast college, but is pushed off-course by her controlling father. When an unexpected collision introduces Terra to Jacob, a handsome but odd Goth Chinese boy who immediately understands her battle with feeling different, she is forced in yet another direction. With her carefully laid plans disrupted, will Terra be able to find her true path?”

Review: This is a MUST read. I love this book. LOVE! I shall now stop using my monosyllabic words and actually explain why I love this book...

When first reading the summary the phrase “odd Goth Chinese boy” might have thrown you off, like it did to me and my friends, but I immediately fell in love with his character once the dialogue started to come out. What I greatly appreciated was the fact that he also had a birth defect like Terra. It gave an almost a deeper connection, a physical bond of some sort.

Here’s a simple quote from the book: “Other countries rose in power and knowledge, and China went to sleep. The dragon was waking now.” A fantastic metaphor. In one simple sentence you can understand what Justina is trying to convey: that it’s China’s rebirth, a powerful explosion of technology and science. The Olympics of 2008 was just a taste of what is to come from this once dormant nation.

The characters were also amazing! I love how not only Terra grew, but her mom and her dad as well! It was like having an egg, and bit by bit, a piece of shell was taken away and you’re left with a new hatchling. You can’t but help feeling awed and inspired. I feel that the development was well paced, greatly expressed through action and dialogue, as well as the interaction with the other characters.

But in general, this was a thought provoking book. Who truly is the victim here? Is it Terra, the one always in hiding even from herself? Or is it her father, a bitter man whose passion is destroyed by a single map? It goes so much deeper than that. It’s the need to feel important, wanted, and cared for.

But if you’re enclosed in a room and a relationship that chokes you, then flee. To many, reading can be an escape, a journey to take you far away even for a few hours. Art is Terra’s form of disappearing for awhile. This is where she makes her statement. And it comes to life through her eyes and voice and definitely on the pages.

Overall: A magnificent book! My only criticism is the length. It got a bit wordy in some areas. Kudos for the Mandarin terminology used correctly in the novel. North of Beautiful takes you on a journey to find true beauty, true serenity of oneself like Terra.

Cover B+

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Taken By Storm

Taken by Storm by Angela Morrison (March 5th 2009)

Grade: 1.6 stars out of 5

Summary: “Leesie wants to…
• keep the rule: no making out, no sex, get dating a non-Mormon.
• get into BYU and follow her faith.
• help Michael heal, love him, save him.
But when temptation is too strong to resist, who is going to save her?

Michael wants to…
• stop the nightmares about Isadore, the storm that killed his parents.
• dive again—he belongs underwater.
• be with Leesie

Leesie and Michael must make the hardest choice of their lives: whether to follow their beliefs or their hearts.”

Review: The foundation of Taken by Storm was uniquely original, something that I have yet to be seen done in this fashion. Written in two different perspectives, Leesie through poetry and chats online, and Michael through his dive log, Taken by Storm gives the reader a better insight through their experiences. Some of which are Michael’s flashbacks of his tragedy and his path to healing and of Leesie’s everyday life and ridicule.

Leesie is a character based heavily on religion. What I enjoyed about this idea is that it gave reason to some of the decisions that she made. Rather than the cliché, “I want someone who truly loves me for me…” Leesie chooses to abstain herself because of her beliefs, because it is godly wrong. It was conflict of between two forces that drew the most appeal, love or religion. The strong desire to help Michael, to comfort him, traps her into the corner.

Michael on the other hand was a character based on emotion. Whatever emotion came forth he naturally pursues. Sometimes though, this is not all too good. The needy attention that he craves from Leesie at points is quite irritating as well as the offhandedness to her customs.

What I really loathed in this novel can be summed up in one word: babe. Almost. Every. Single. Page. I honestly do not mind this term, but when used as an endearment it just annoys me to no end.

Overall: N/A

Cover B-

I know, I know. I said that I wouldn't post a review so far from the publication date ever again but I really had to just get this over with. I've been staring at this review for 2 weeks now and it took me forever just to get this much!

Hot Mess

Hot Mess by Julie Kraut and Shallon Lester (May 13th 2008)

Grade: 2.5 stars out of 5

Summary: “EMMA FREEMAN IS waving buh-bye to her standard summer of station wagoning around the suburbs. This summer she's heading to the big city. Emma's totally prepped for days at a fabulous internship and nights of socialite-ing around town. But when you're 17 and not an heiress, reality is far from pink fizzy drinks and red velvet ropes. As the summer heats up, Emma learns that glamour is hard to come by when your only friend is too boy-crazy to hang, your budget is more H&M than D&G, and you spend 8 hours a day working for a man who proves that the devil wears Dockers too. Add one little white lie told to one very hot coworker and a roommate who makes Paris Hilton look junior varsity, and this summer in the city is starting to turn into one hot mess.”

Overall: A delightfully fun and easy read that I needed after awhile. The quirky humor mixed with the modern lingo (yeah I said lingo) created an entertaining read. It only started to pick after the halfway point even after which was still quite slow for me. While it was a great read during that time, it didn’t linger. Nothing truly special screams at me, well except for the almost pedophilia/cradle robbing which was quite disturbing at points.

I would recommend this book as a short read to pass the time by.

Cover C
I really don’t know how the cover relates to the actual book.

Thanks to Julie for sending me a copy! Check her out at JulieKraut.com

Mini-reviews rob me of my mojo...

Happy Tag!

I've been tagged by Sharon at Sharon Loves Cats And Books for this very fun meme!

So here are the rules:
Link to the person who has tagged you.
Write down six things that make you happy.
Post the rules, tag six others and let them know you did it.
Then tell the person when your entry is complete.

1. Getting books in the mail (well duh!)
2. Hanging with friends and gossiping as well as making new friends! So much fun!
3. Random shapes like stars, circles, etc.
4. Doodling/drawing
5. Baking goodies and having people enjoy it! Yum. The last cake I made was for a friend's birthday and I did a semisweet chocolate cake with chocolate butter cream and semisweet chocolate shavings in little small curls. She's a chocoholic if you haven't noticed...
6. Accomplishing something that I've been working on since FOREVER!

Now it's my turn to tag people. Here are my 6:
Stephanie at Juicilicousss Reviews

Friday, January 23, 2009

Wondrous Strange

More details of the sequel here.

Wondrous Strange
by Lesley Livingston (December 23rd 2008)

Grade: 3 stars out of 5

Summary: “Since the dawn of time, the Faerie have taken. . . .

For seventeen-year-old actress Kelley Winslow, faeries are just something from childhood stories. Then she meets Sonny Flannery, whose steel-gray eyes mask an equally steely determination to protect her.

Sonny guards the Samhain Gate, which connects the mortal realm with the Faerie's enchanted, dangerous Otherworld. Usually kept shut by order of icy King Auberon, the Gate stands open but once a year.

This year, as the time approaches when the Samhain Gate will swing wide and nightmarish Fae will fight their way into an unsuspecting human world, something different is happening . . . something wondrous and strange. And Kelley's eyes are opening not just to the Faerie that surrounds her but to the heritage that awaits her.

Now Kelley must navigate deadly faerie treachery—and her growing feelings for Sonny—in this dazzling page-turner filled with luminous romance.”

Review: When I first started Wondrous Strange I had the odd sensation that I came across something very much like this before. And then it hit me. Tithe by Holly Black and Wicked Lovely by Melissa Marr. I’m not trying to say that everything was the same, but the terms and creatures...and maybe some plotlines were. At one point or another I had to pause and turn to the cover to see if I was indeed reading Wondrous Strange.

However, Wondrous Strange to me was actually far much better than Wicked Lovely and Tithe. It had more depth, better character development, and actually realistic scenes! It was the flawed characters that made it so much more believable.

I also enjoyed the way the multiple tales were weaved together; they flowed so freely within each other that I had no problem understanding. The unpredictability in certain areas was quite fun as well. You would never have guessed how Sonny and Kelley were connected; it just screamed “coincidence”!

Overall: A great and fun read. I cannot wait until the sequel to Wondrous Strange comes out! More details of the sequel here.

Cover B

There actually wasn't much to say about this book...

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Purge

Purge by Sarah Darer Littman (April 1st 2009)

Grade: 4 stars out of 5

Summary: "Janie Ryman hates throwing up. So why does she binge eat and then stick her fingers down her throat several times a day? That’s what the doctors and psychiatrists at Golden Slopes hope to help her discover. But first Janie must survive everyday conflicts between the Barfers and the Starvers, attempts by the head psychiatrist to fish painful memories out of her emotional waters, and shifting friendships and alliances among the kids in the ward."

Review: I love Janie’s voice in this book! You can definitely feel the emotion that Sarah wanted to create, whether it's sadness, joy, anger, or the urge to purge!

“I HATE THIS PLACE!!! I HATE THIS PLACE!!!! I HATE THIS FUCKING PLACE!!!!! It’s NOT helping me — if anything IT’S MAKING ME CRAZIER!!! I HATE THIS GODDAMN MISERABLE SHITHOLE!!!” —an entry from Janie’s journey

While this is less than discreet, the reader can definitely feel the desperate need to escape and the anger of the encasement. The emotion is so palpable within the book—granted I have mood swings like a magic 8 ball—that I almost had a breakdown! Be warned that if you are very uncomfortable with curse words this novel does indeed have them, but it is used scarcely.

There was definitely no scarcity of characters though that could either be a good or bad thing to you. To me there were far too many nurses and doctors with their own separate names that really had no reason to be included. It just jumbled the enjoyment of the book overall, trying to skim back and figure out who’s who. The characters that I happen to actually remember were so well done. Some were very 3-dimensional and others two, as to be expected since they were side characters. I liked how each character had a set of characteristics that made them who they were but still had the same likable trait.

Despite the fact that this novel only concentrates on bulimia and anorexia, the Barfers and the Starvers, the author creates different scenarios of each case which I found to be quite enjoyable. It gives the reader diversity and a sense that the author does indeed have creativity and not a single track mind. The author also includes the harmful effects of both cases and while putting on a serious front on anorexia, in a death of a character that you knew was going to happen sooner or later, she still manages to include information about bulimia in a subtle way.

I felt, however, that, in the end, the reason behind Janie’s case was quite anticlimactic, and it had me a bit disappointed. But the conflict and build up of finding herself and the main reason as to why she turned to purging definitely makes up for it!

Overall: I greatly enjoyed this novel! While there was a bit of irritation in the use of some words and phrases the author used, it was a very minor issue. What I did like was the motley of metaphors and symbolism: the black hole in her stomach, the emptiness once she finished purging. Definitely cannot wait to read more of her work!

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My blog was feeling empty...I probably won't post a review so far from the release date ever again...

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Confessions of a Shopaholic



Okay I know many of you have heard of this series, but how many are planning to watch it? I'm so so tempted to watch it! If anyone is going to watch it, let me know how it was!

Pssst, why yes, I am indeed procrastinating on my history essay which was assigned today and due tomorrow. One and a half pages long. Wish me luck...

Monday, January 19, 2009

The Musician's Daughter/ The Amaranth Enchantment

I bring mini-reviews because my brain is fried!

The Musician’s Daughter by Susanne Dunlap

Grade: 2 stars out of 5

Summary: “Amid the glamor of Prince Nicholas Esterhazy’s court in 18th-century Vienna, murder is afoot. Or so fifteen-year-old Theresa Maria is convinced when her musician father turns up dead on Christmas Eve, his valuable violin missing, and the only clue to his death a strange gold pendant around his neck. Then her father’s mentor, the acclaimed composer Franz Joseph Haydn, helps her through a difficult time by making her his copyist and giving her insight in to her father’s secret life. It’s there that Theresa begins to uncover a trail of blackmail and extortion, even as she discovers honor—and the possibility of a first, tentative love. Thrumming with the weeping strains of violins, as well as danger and deception, this is an engrossing tale of murder, romance, and music that readers will find hard to forget.”

Overall: I love the way the story had many layers upon it. A layer of music, a layer of mystery, and a layer of unpredictability. It was a fun, puzzling read, great for bed time read. My biggest issue has to be the pace. It was grueling, like a trying to pull yourself out of quicksand only to sink yourself further. Also the details. I know I’m a huge fan of details, but at some point I had to stop and think “What was the plot again?” That is not a good response you want to hear from a reader.

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The Amaranth Enchantment by Julie Berry (March 1st 2009)

Grade: 2.5 stars out of 5

Summary: “When Lucinda Chapdelaine was a small child, her parents left for the royal ball and never returned. Ever since, Lucinda has been stuck in perpetual servitude at her evil aunt’s jewelry store. Then, on the very same day, a mysterious visitor and an even more bizarre piece of jewelry both enter the shop, setting in motion a string of twists and turns that will forever alter Lucinda’s path. Along the way, she befriends an impish street thief and the dreaded Amaranth Witch, she dances at a royal ball, and she even tries to avenge her parents’ untimely death. But it’s only in the most unusual of circumstances that Lucinda will find her happily ever after.”

Overall: A really big disappointment to say the least. I was expecting something adventurous, exciting, and magical! It was more of a cross between Cinderella and Aladdin from Disney. You have your magical being, the witch or very similar to a fairy godmother, a creature, a goat named Dog. Yes, you read right, Dog. And the thief. I felt as though these two had the most depth in them. Not Lucinda, who at one point in the book I wanted to smack the crap out of her. Sorry for the foul language…Let's not forget the ending as well. The ending, the ending, the ending. It was truly Disneyesque and almost, if not, to be expected. How else will you get the happily ever after?

Cover N/A
I had the ARC with no cover and since I like to judge it based on when it’s in my hands, I decided to skip it this time.

Special thanks to Deb from Bloomsbury for the copies! I'm hoping to revamp this two reviews later on but right now, I'm too tired.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Winner!

Okay so I decided to pick a winner now instead of tomorrow! Instead of doing either or of the poll choices I decided to something I little odder (I know I'm sorry!) So here was my procedure. First I had a list on spreadsheet already done which I fed to the randomizer list. Next I asked friends for some numbers. Two of my friends were asked to pick 2 numbers in a certain range and another one was asked to pick 1 number. Than I used random.org to pick the final number, thus totaling to 6 numbers. I arranged this to highest to lowest. Finally I used a die (from who knows where...) and rolled it. The number it come out with corresponded to the correct level of the number, like for instance, if 2 popped up, then the second lowest number will be the winner. So if you followed all of that, I'll announce the winner! Which was...

ALYCE from At Home With Books!

So Alyce just shoot me an email and I'll forward your address to Stephanie who will then mail Aurelia out to you!

Deadly Little Secret

Deadly Little Secret by Laurie Faria Stolarz (December 16th 2008)

Grade: 3 stars out of 5

Summary: “Until three months ago, everything about sixteen-year-old Camelia's life had been fairly ordinary: decent grades; an okay relationship with her parents; and a pretty cool part-time job at an art studio downtown. But when Ben, the mysterious new guy, starts junior year at her high school, Camelia's life becomes far from ordinary.

Rumored to be somehow responsible for his ex-girlfriend's accidental death, Ben is immediately ostracized by everyone on campus. Except for Camelia. She's reluctant to believe he's trouble, even when her friends try to convince her otherwise. Instead she's inexplicably drawn to Ben...and to his touch. But soon, Camelia is receiving eerie phone calls and strange packages with threatening notes. Ben insists she is in danger, and that he can help – but can he be trusted? She knows he's hiding something...but he's not the only one with a secret.”

Review: First things first, the comparison between Twilight and Deadly Little Secret. It seems to be the buzz that this book is quite frankly a remix of Twilight. In my opinion, I think that there are indeed some, but not completely. The premise starts out very much like it: girl almost gets killed by a car, mystery boy comes and save her, girl is infatuated with danger boy, boy and girl have chemistry class together (not biology) and are lab partners. Of course some other insignificant little Twilight pieces thrown in as well, but the plot line is completely different from Twilight!

When I first started Deadly Little Secret I was quite surprised that the genre was suspense and drama. I was expecting the drama, but definitely not the suspense. Did I like? Yes. Was it too predictable? Definitely a big N-O. There were just so many possible candidates for the culprit that every new chapter my mind would switch. “It’s him! No, wait, it’s HIM!” There are so many possible choices in the beginning, each one with their own motives. But towards the end, one by one it dwindles away until you are left with the answer.

The way it was set up, every so often a chapter will be written from the stalker’s point of view, was quite impressive. When I read this first chapter that had been done this way, I was repulsed by the feeling I got. I could feel the shiver in my spine just from the tone and atmosphere it created.

However, I felt that all was not good with this book. I felt that the majority of the characters had no actually depth. Ben for example, all you knew was that he has a special gift and he is accused of murder. I couldn’t grasp his motives or his essence. I also felt that the characters that had captured my attention from the very start should have been included much more. Shouldn’t the main characters, Camelia and Ben, be the main draw?

Overall: Laurie creates a wonderful tale filled with mystery and secrets. A good start for a series but fell short in certain areas.

Cover C

Friday, January 16, 2009

I Got Another Award!

I got another Butterfly Award from Amanda at Review A Book 123!

The rules for passing it on are:

1. Put the logo on your blog.
2. Add a link to the person who awarded the blog to you.
3. Award up to ten other blogs.
4. Add links to the blogs you award onto your blog.
5. Leave a message for your awardees on their blogs.

Since I have been previously awarded by Sharon, I've decided to skip the meme this time. Thanks again Amanda!

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Party Poopers!

You guys are such party poopers *pout* So some of you guys got it right (Alyce and Cecilia!) and it is indeed Chinese New Year! It's currently in the works....~

I sent a massive amount of emails this morning at 6:30 AM (it was the only time I found in the day, you guys owe me! lol) to authors that I've had contact with over the past month or so. I'm still waiting for their replies but some have already agreed to participate! I just had this sudden inspiration last night in the showers so I'm formally apologizing to all the authors for such a short notice (ekkk).

So far the people who have gotten back to me and agreed to such are Justina Headley, Eileen Cook, and Lisa Yee! And guess what!? They also agreed to have giveaways! And if that doesn't convince you guys to show up, then I will sic Carol at you, but if she's too busy then I'll...I don't know...threaten to burn a book...?

And to the authors who want to participate and haven't received an email from me yet, then feel feel to join in! Just me email (see top left hand side) and I'll let you in on the not so much more secret!

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Surprise, surprise, surprise

I'm planning a, you guess it, surprise! Okay it's not really since I'm going to tell you guys now. Next next Monday is a holiday (not American though) and I'm hoping/planning a celebration week for it! I'm going to contact authors and set some things up and host some...giveaways! (because sharing is caring). The reason why I'm saying hoping is because I really don't have much time left and I'm literally filled to the brim with schoolwork and other projects. So wish me luck and I hope to see (or read...) you guys again once it's been officially announced!

P.S. Can anyone actually guess the holiday...? I'm still a bit hesitant on how it might turn out though...

Need

Need by Carrie Jones (December 23rd 2008)

Grade: 3.3 stars out of 5

Summary: “Zara collects phobias the way other high school girls collect lipsticks. Little wonder, since life's been pretty rough so far. Her father left, her stepfather just died, and her mother's pretty much checked out. Now Zara's living with her grandmother in sleepy, cold Maine so that she stays & safe. Zara doesn't think she's in danger; she thinks her mother can't deal.

Wrong. Turns out that guy she sees everywhere, the one leaving trails of gold glitter, isn't a figment of her imagination. He's a pixie and not the cute, lovable kind with wings. He's the kind who has dreadful, uncontrollable needs. And he's trailing Zara.”

Review: When first reading a book that others have raved on about, I’m actually very, very hesitant to start. It’s the fear that just maybe I, single handedly, will not like this book. But luckily, this was not the case for Need.

My adoration to this book can be proven by the rating alone. 4.75 stars is almost as close as to perfection as you can get in my book. Once the grade past 4.5 stars, I tend to get greedy with points. I even start to include the hundredth decimal place! Anyhow, moving on to the finer details…

Reasons as to why I love this book are one, the phobias. I know this has been covered in many reviews and in the summary as well, however, to me this does not signify a quirky little topic, but the dedication as a writer. The time it took to research this topic and the way that it was included in the plot was wonderfully done. I appreciate how much effort it took to include such a small little detail.

I also thought that it was quite clever to withhold all the information to the very end. It keeps the reader on their toes, (at least for me it did!) quite suspenseful and gripping. Oh! And the information provided such as the background details and reasoning behind the plot was also well explained.

I guess this is where I include a little quote from the book that I enjoyed. Honestly though, if I happen to actually do that I would quote about half of the book! And I think that that might be illegal… (is it?) So just take my word that it is indeed good.

Here’s where I got picky. Insignificant details but I feel that I had to justify my grading. **Spoiler Alert*** Toward the end of the novel when Zara saves her mother and the pixie king is notified of such, he appears to care not. Maybe it was an act of kindness? A devotion to true love perhaps? But then in the next line or two, he forcibly grabs Zara and tries to attack her. I’m slightly confused on this scene. Was not the main motive of the pixie king to capture Zara’s mother. Why hadn’t he done something? Anything? **End Spoiler** Each reader can interpret this situation to any way they wish, it just so happened this is my interpretation, well lack of it actually.

There was also quite an amount of open-ended questions for me. I’m itching to know the story behind Zara’s mother and her past, as well as Issie’s knowledge of the unusual situation. Had Nick or Devyn indeed told her? But if my sources are right (Carol~) then there will be a sequel to Need, where I will hopefully find answers to my question.

Overall: Two words: simply amazing. I cannot wait for the sequel!

Cover: C+

As some of you may have noticed, it is quite hard for me to write a review for a good book. I can only blabber on for so long that, yes! I did like the book. It's always difficult to pin-point the exact scenes and details that makes me like this book so much and forming it into words is nearly impossible...

And special thanks to Deb and Carrie for sending me a copy!

EDIT: I just read the interview (again I might add, I've actually skimmed through this once before) and Carol is indeed right! Okay so I actually never doubted her but she sent me a link and my stupid nosiness wouldn't leave me alone...lol

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Short Update

Just announcing my upcoming plans for later this week! I'm currently working on my review on Need by Carrie Jones as well as some author interviews. But right now my major issue is the giveaway for Aurelia. I'll explain it in further detail hopefully by Saturday but a new book will be given away instead of Aurelia. I have everything organize and am just waiting to find some time where I can actually make coherent sentences. That's all for now~

Saturday, January 10, 2009

My Winning Entry! (Or Not)

Okay so I entered this giveaway hosted by Laura. It was an ARC of Mandy Hubbard's latest book Prada and Prejudice. And my entry won...something? So I didn't win but I'm sticking to my comment on her site: "Yay! I was runner-up! (Even if that means I don't win anything, it's the ego inflation that counts ;P )" Woo! I just quoted myself!

This is my 'winning' entry (I'm using the term winning loosely...). Oh! And the prompt was "What was the expensive thing you've purchased that you really didn't have to purchase"

Mine has to be this dress I bought when I was 13. My class was having a luncheon so of course all the girls were going to dress up. After 2 days of futile shopping by myself, my friend dragged me out to help her while trying to find anything for myself. Let's just say that when I'm out shopping with friends, my common sense and 'find a sale!' attitude goes straight out the window. She eventual convinces me to try this dress on, which of course I'm a bit hesitant on buying but me and my no brain attitude is pacified by my friend that it looks FABULOUS on me.

After arriving at her house I decide to try it on once again to make sure my purchase was actually worth the cost. 'Lo and behold it wasn't. I thought the dress was quite modest when I first got it but after trying it on the second time my opinion went a complete 360 degrees. It was a white spaghetti strap (which if I did chose to wear this dress I had to BUY another bra to wear underneath), that had glitter and ruffled seams, that hugged to the bust and hip. That doesn't sound too bad does it? Well the bad part was that it was sheer. The top half wasn't (thank goodness!) but the entire bottom half was! My friend said, "Ewww I can see your underwear" when she saw it on me. I looked down and was like "HOLY ****!"

From that day on I could never figure out if it was bad lighting or my brain not working that made buy that dress. Of course I did return that dress next week and managed to get a reasonably cute black wrap dress for a fraction of what that white dress cost me.


This is just me gloating..or procrastinating...either way I have to get back to studying...

Friday, January 9, 2009

Interview With Cyn Balog

My next interview is with Cyn Balog! Her debut novel comes out this June so write that down on your calender everyone!

What were some inspirations for your book?
I am not really a fantasy fan, not like some writers of the genre who know everything about fairy lore and will likely scream foul! when they read my book. I consider it to be a romance that just happens to involve a fairy. I'd wanted to write a book about two people who were made-for-each-other, who are suddenly torn apart by the unexpected. Around that time, I'd been thinking about how most fairies are painted as dainty, beautiful female-types, and how interesting it would be to have a normal, football-loving, strong guy as a fairy. And those two ideas eventually just clashed.

Who or what was the inspiration for your characters?
Morgan is just any teenage girl, maybe a little of me. She is the me that would exist had I had an awesomely super boyfriend since birth, and also psychic abilities. She acts very self-assured but it's really just a facade because when she starts to lose those things, she starts to lose her confidence. I think a lot of teen girls base their worth on transient things like boyfriends or clothes and so their confidence is constantly wavering. Cam is just... ah... the dream boy. Just everything a teen girl could want. Okay, well, everything I would want if I were a teen, too.

What was hardest part of the novel to write?
FAIRY TALE really was one of the easiest books to write. I have heard of people going through dozens of revisions with their novels, and I didn't have to do that. I think I worked on it a total of 3 months before it was out on submissions. So I would have to say that the hardest part of this book was the beginning. Usually that's the easiest part, and the sagging middle gets me...but before FAIRY TALE, I'd written two other books...one that didn't sell and one that my agent wasn't thrilled with. Just starting a new book, knowing it might end up on the shelf, was daunting. But I guess I'm just one of those people who cannot not write.

What motivates you to write?
Now, it helps to be under contract, and know there's money coming in! But I've been a writer since I was a little kid, and it's one of those things that just draw me in. There are a few words in the English language that send a thrill down my spine..."writing" and "shopping," being two of them. I get excited whenever I think of doing it.

Do you listen to music while you write?
Nope. Music distracts me. :)

How has the road to publication been?
Once I actually sat down and said, "I'm gonna do this!" things went pretty smoothly. It was maybe 2 years from that point to selling. I had a few rejections and upsets (like when my first manuscript didn't sell)...but everyone has those, and I think I was pretty lucky. Though I'd written books twenty years ago and back then everyone thought I would be a novelist. But I'd psyched myself out, saying the odds were impossible, and never tried-- thinking that a career in marketing was much more stable and would give me a better chance at success. But if something is your true calling you're not going to be able to ignore it for long. It's like Wayne Gretzky says, "I missed all the shots I never took." Once I realized that, everything fell into place.

Do you think bloggers help in publicizing and promoting you new book?
YES! Hugely. I am completely indebted to them for spreading the word on FAIRY TALE. Right now I am in the middle of writing a new book and am expecting my second child so I'm a little frazzled when it comes to the promotion side of things. I'd like to have a really dynamic web presence but haven't had the time, and they have helped me fill in the gaps.

Do you like the cover of your book? How was the process been in developing this design?
LOVE the cover. I really have not heard anyone say a negative thing on my cover yet. Sadly, I had no input into it whatsoever. My editor sent me the cover they'd developed, I loved it, and it was agreed.

Are you upset about the change of the title?
Not at all. It was done because sales were a little worried that a younger audience might be turned off by a title with "Lust" in it. Since I had received emails from mothers concerned as to whether this would be appropriate for their young daughters, I knew those concerns were valid. Considering the book is more of a sweet romance, I didn't want the title misleading anyone. FAIRY TALE is a much more accurate title, anyway. Though I must admit I liked raising eyebrows whenever I said LUST! And there is another book on the market (an adult book) called FAIRY LUST, and it has erotic stories involving elves... so perhaps it is better to distance my book. I'd hate for anyone to accidentally buy the wrong book and give their kids that!

Why was there a change in the title after so long (is it because of the "mothers who emailed me wondering if a book featuring LUST was suitable for their 12-year-old daughter" XD)?
Really, it was a suggestion from the sales reps at the bookstores--they were concerned about having the book face-out on the YA shelves with the word "LUST" in it. I really don't think LUST is a dirty word but I can understand them wanting to be safe rather than sorry. And I work in marketing-- I get that this is business. FAIRY TALE opens the book to a whole audience of people who may have passed it up. And the sales reps are the experts. If they believed that we could sell more books by titling it FAIRY POOP, I would have probably gone along with it.

Are you excited about the new title?
Not excited, so much as relieved that it was so easy to agree on. To me, the title isn't the most important aspect of the book--it's a number of things working together that determine whether a book is successful. I am happy the cover is staying the same, though, because I know a lot of teens are very visual and I really think it's beautiful.

Who is mainly in charge on creating a new title?
I brainstormed with my editor, but the sales reps threw out FAIRY TALE, and it was one I had thought of on my own... so we agreed in a matter of minutes.

Can you tell us more about your latest novel, Sleepless?
Sleepless is about a sandman who falls in love with a mortal girl whose sleep he controls. It's a dark book about forbidden love. It's also about the afterlife and what happens to us after we die. It's the first book I've written that takes place partly in other worlds. Writing it and coming up with new, strange places has been an exercise in expanding my imagination, that's for sure.

Is there anything else you would like to add?
Only you can prevent forest fires? I'm sorry, I am drawing a blank. Hi, Mom!

I hope everyone enjoyed the interview! Cyn's website, and her blog