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

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Which is Worst?

In between my screams of frustration, tests, papers, and failed group meetings I somehow (miraculously more like it) was able to find time to read. That doesn't always mean I finish what I read. The past couple of weeks has produced more books that I had not been able to finish than all summer of '09. That had me thinking though: Which is worst, DNF or BAD?

In my opinion a bad book is worst than a did not finish book. With a bad book there is a possibility that your book-discussing-friend might be interested in this "horrendous" book. It sounds so bad that the mind thinks, 'how bad can it be?'.

Whereas with a did-not-finish book what can you say to your friend when they ask about it? It was eh...blah...I didn't get anything out of it. There is nothing you can say to intrigue your friend. It all comes down to 'curiosity killed the cat'.

So in your eyes, which is worst? A book that you were not able to finish reading or a book that you considered bad, but was still able to finish it. Or are these two categories correlated?

Monday, March 29, 2010

Something Like Fate

Something Like Fate by Susane Colasanti (May 12th 2010—Viking)

Grade: 2.8 stars out of 5

Summary: “Lani and Erin are bonded for life. One thing that connects them is their fascination of fate. Lani wonders how much of our lives has already been decided and how much we can actually influence. Since the Unknown can unexpectedly change our lives forever, how much can we really control?

From the minute Lani meets Jason, she can't deny the intense connection they share. It feels like she's known him forever. She's not sure if he feels it, too. But it doesn't matter. Because Jason is Erin's boyfriend. Lani is determined to ignore her feelings for Jason, no matter how powerful they are, rather than risk hurting her best friend.

How long can Lani keep running from the boy who might be her destiny?”

Review: Something Like Fate is a typical YA novel of two best friends after the same guy. One takes the initiative and asks said guy, Jason, out. He agrees. But then the best friend of said girl, Lani, begins talking to him and finds out that she likes him…and he likes her back. They talk more, with Erin’s consent, and finds out that they have a lot in common! Like a freakish amount of things in common (I’m still wrapping my mind around the common oddities). So when the girl goes away, the cats will play. Jason’s and Lani’s relationship is refreshing and ever so endearing (awhhh). But when Erin comes back things go downhill….

It was within the last few chapters that things get out of hand. Erin is a complete ’itch. Lani needs to stop being a pushover but they are times where I applaud her. To make amends for stealing her ex-boyfriend (yeah, ex), Erin tells Lani to stop seeing Jason, which she compiles. Excuse me for a second while I scream. Seriously!? Are you daft woman? In the very next line, Erin tells Lani that is yet to be forgiven and ignores her for the next several days at school. So the purpose of not seeing Jason is…?

I dislike the ending very much so. It was way too fast. Erin apologies, Lani forgives; Lani apologies, Erin forgive; then cry and hug. That’s it. I did not see much character development for the majority.

There were some characters that I found really enjoyable to read: Blake and Connor. Blake is gay but no one knows about it and Connor is from Canada (yay Canadians). They add a touch of serenity and whimsical humor at times that added much to the dialogues. I love the fact that Blake was able to forgive and grow whereas Connor is sweet, caring, and a steady rock.

Cover B
It may seem strange now with the ice cream poster but it will make sense later on.

Special thanks goes to Ka-Yam for sending this to me! (even if I did not like it very much...)

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Winners of Token of Darkness

Congrats to the 5 lucky winners:

Anna ♥ (goodgonegirl)
Isalys (booksoulmates)
Anne J. (ajolly)
Bonnie M. (wakeupangel)
Elie N. (zenfoxflower)

Email me if you can!

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Jekel Loves Hyde

Jekel Loves Hyde by Beth Fantaskey (May 3rd 2010—Harcourt)

Grade: 3 stars out of 5

Summary: “Jill Jekel has always obeyed her parents’ rules – especially the one about never opening the mysterious, old box in her father’s office. But when her dad is murdered, and her college savings disappear, she's tempted to peek inside, as the contents might be key to a lucrative chemistry scholarship.

To better her odds, Jill enlists the help of gorgeous, brooding Tristen Hyde, who has his own dark secrets locked away. As the team of Jekel and Hyde, they recreate experiments based on the classic novel, hoping not only to win a prize, but to save Tristen’s sanity. Maybe his life. But Jill’s accidental taste of a formula unleashes her darkest nature and compels her to risk everything – even Tristen’s love – just for the thrill of being… bad.”

Review: If you love Crazy Beautiful by Lauren Baratz-Logsted, don’t bother to read this review because you should just PREORDER THIS BOOK NOW. If you hated it, well, I’m sorry you wasted your time. Anyhow I had received an ARC of this upcoming book and to say I was excited is an understatement. I dropped whatever I reading, literally when I saw the package in the mail I jumped high and hard enough for the book to fall off my hand, and with a somewhat psychotic grin began to read. And read, and read, and read I did.

My overall reaction was a bit on the disappointed side. My expectations on my end were too high. Coming off of Jessica’s Guide to Dating of the Dark Side I had hoped Fantaskey topped herself and instead I had a lukewarm response. There was hardly any of that humor I loved in her debut novel.

The chemistry between Jill and Tristen while sizzling failed to give any sense of a deep connection. The same issues I had with Crazy Beautiful were present here: a hard time grasping either character in such a short book. The novel alternates POV which may demonstrate an author’s flexibility but can result in losing something more important.

The best part of the novel was the plot. The plot attracted me the most and it was because of the plot I just had to keep reading. I needed to know the end—will it be a happy ending? a sad ending? a satisfying ending at least? It was both creative and ingenious and like my brother said, it is the selling point to the book.

I half hate/half love the epilogue. I won’t give it except that it left me frustrated and slightly annoyed.

Cover B-

FTC: review copy as provided by the publisher in exchange for this review

Monday, March 22, 2010

Blog Tour: Bonnie Hearn Hill (Guest Post and Giveaway)

I would like to introduce you to Bonnie Hearn Hill, author of the Star Crossed Series. Her first book, Aries Rising already been released and can be ordered on Amazon. You can also visit Bonnie at her website.
Q: Did you use astrology to create the characters of your teen series?

A: I've always used astrology to create characters, even though I might not know the specific birthday of a character. Instead, I might think--Oh, she's a Fire sign, very assertive. But she's not interested in center stage the way a Leo would be. No, she really wants to be first, and she doesn't always think things through. She just goes for it. Ah, an Aries.

Thanks to my friendship with humorous astrology writer Hazel Dixon-Cooper, I got an education in astrology right along with my character. I learned that all signs have a positive side as well as a negative one, and I realized I needed to balance both sides. For instance, a Sagittarius might talk a lot, but you'll seldom find one who is petty or mean. A Cancer might be manipulative or needy, but you won't find a more nurturing sign. Taurus may be stubborn but is usually fair.

At the end of the book, I list each Sun sign (and my publisher later added press-on astro tattoos). I include both the positives and challenges of each sign to give readers the whole story. In later books, I go into the influence of the Moon, Mars and Venus. A really outgoing Pisces (usually not an outgoing sign) might have a lot of Fire (Aries, Leo or Sagittarius) in her chart. A talkative Pisces might have Gemini, the natural communicator, or even Libra.

I also think what might have happened to this character to make her uncharacteristically bold. By thinking about the whole person, you avoid cookie-cutter characters in fiction and in real life. You won't be so ready to jump to conclusions.

I had a pushy bad Aries cheerleader in ARIES RISING, so I balanced that with another character, a dedicated, determined Aries working several jobs. I even gave my Aquarius protagonist an Aries Rising so that she would be more proactive.

I don't believe astrology is a life sentence. It's just a starting place, and it can help you understand others--and yourself. If you are a multitasking Gemini (the way I am), you can acknowledge that and remind yourself of the importance of also being a finisher. If you are an emotional Scorpio, you can accept that about yourself but also work on letting go of the past. If you are an intellectual Aquarius, you can work on expressing your emotions--as my protagonist does.

Sometimes when I'm developing a character, I'll ask myself, "What sign is she?" And the answer will be clear. When a character is clearly developed, it's pretty easy to tell.

I purposely gave my protagonist and her two best friends very different personalities. Logan is an Aquarius. She knows how she feels but has difficulty expressing it. Jessica (Chili) Chiliderian, is a talkative Gemini, who is always falling for a different guy. Paige, a Pisces, is a shy daydreamer. Together, though, they have everything they need to combat the challenges they encounter.
About the Author:
You can thank Coca-Cola for Bonnie Hearn Hill’s long lived writing career. They were the ones who sponsored the writing contest she won in the fourth grade that gave her writing fever. She’s been writing ever since.

Bonnie spent 22 years as a newspaper editor and wrote six thrillers, as well as several non-fiction books. An interest in astrology and a friendship with Cosmo Magazine Astrologer Hazel Dixon-Cooper led to the development of her new Star Crossed Series for the YA market.
And in case you’re wondering…Bonnie is a double Gemini, saved by an Aquarius Moon. Air and Fire with very little Earth.

The next two installments of the Star Crossed Series will release soon:

Also as part of the blog tour I am able to give away 1 copy of Bonnie's book; Aries Rising:
When Logan McRae discovers a magical book called Fearless Astrology, all she wants is to change her sucky life. In order to get into the summer writing camp of her dreams, she needs the recommendation of her stubborn and irritable English teacher Mr. Franklin. Logan also has her eye on Nathan, the hottest guy in class. Unfortunately, so does popular, beyond-gorgeous Geneva, editor of the high school paper.

Logan's two best friends, Chili and Paige, are always there to give her the advice she needs. But now that she has Fearless Astrology, Logan discovers a whole new way to overcome her dilemmas-while helping the three of them land the guys they're crushing on.

When the Gears, a group of boys, starts causing trouble in school and out, she decides to identify them using astrology. Her goal: to impress Mr. Franklin, Nathan, and the kids who believe she is faking her newfound knowledge. The answers are in the stars, all right, but can Logan decipher them before it is too late?
To enter: comment to tell me your astrological sign and do you think it fits you?

Contest details: 1 copy; US and Canada addresses only, ends on April 1st.
Special thanks goes to WOW (Women on Blogging) Blog Tours. You can find more information about them here and find the tour dates for Bonnie here.

Friday, March 19, 2010

Wherever Nina Lies Winners

Congratulations to the following three winners:

Wendy (mindingspot)
Tasha (andanotherbookread)
Krista (towerofbooks)

If you guys see this email me to confirm that you have not yet won a copy of Wherever Nina Lies elsewhere (as there were a bajillion online). Or wait until I send out an email (which might be sometime Monday...weekend does not relaxing time D:)

Thursday, March 18, 2010

The Mysterious Howling

The Mysterious Howling (The Incorrigible Children of Ashton Place, #1) by Maryrose Wood (March 1st 2010—HarperCollins)

Source: publisher

Grade: 4 stars out of 5

Summary: “Found running wild in the forest of Ashton Place, the Incorrigibles are no ordinary children: Alexander, age ten or thereabouts, keeps his siblings in line with gentle nips; Cassiopeia, perhaps four or five, has a bark that is (usually) worse than her bite; and Beowulf, age somewhere-in-the-middle, is alarmingly adept at chasing squirrels.

Luckily, Miss Penelope Lumley is no ordinary governess. Only fifteen years old and a recent graduate of the Swanburne Academy for Poor Bright Females, Penelope embraces the challenge of her new position. Though she is eager to instruct the children in Latin verbs and the proper use of globes, first she must help them overcome their canine tendencies.

But mysteries abound at Ashton Place: Who are these three wild creatures, and how did they come to live in the vast forests of the estate? Why does Old Timothy, the coachman, lurk around every corner? Will Penelope be able to teach the Incorrigibles table manners and socially useful phrases in time for Lady Constance's holiday ball? And what on earth is a schottische?”

Review: The Mysterious Howling was wickedly funny, whimsically amusing, and delightfully charming. Now that was an onslaught of adjectives that mean absolutely! Hopefully with the proper citations and enough batting of the eyelashes you’ll be swayed.

The Mysterious Howling shows great promise and, like what many book critics have been saying, this promise is akin to Lemony Snicket. Their styles are very similar with their sympathetic, humorous tone and light-hearted mood set against a rather dark and twisted theme. Here is a [rather lengthy] quote of a passage from the book:
‘“You,” she said, looking at the eldest boy, “are to be called Alexander. Can you say it? Alexander,” she prompted again, clearly.

“Alawoooooo,” he repeated.

“Very good!” She glanced at the card, “It says here, you are named after ‘Alexander the Great, the legendary commander who mercilessly conquered the Persian Empire and was said to drink too much wine.’ Hmm. That is an odd choice.”

“Alawooooo!” he said, with feeling.

“As for you,” she said, turning to the smaller boy, “you are to be called Beowulf. ‘Beowulf was a fearless warrior of old, who slew monsters and dragons until he met a bloody and violent end.’ A most unsavory namesake, in my opinion, but that is what Lord Ashton has written here. Can you say Beowulf?”

“Beowoooooo,” the boy said proudly.

“Excellent,” Penelope praised. “And now for our littlest pupil. Heavens! It appears that Lord Ashton has named you—well, let me read it. ‘Cassiopeia, after the vain and arrogant queen of the ancient Greeks who tried to sacrifice her own daughter to the sea gods.’ How dreadful! But it will have to do.” She was about to ask the little girl to repeat her name, but the clever child had been watching the other and beat Penelope to the task.

“Cassawoof!” she yelped. “Woof! Woof!”’

—excerpt from pages 54-55

Yikes! I was not expecting to copy an entire page from the book. At any rate I realize that this passage is not a great example of the characterization in the book, my fault. In The Mysterious Howling each and every character shines; they are distinctive, charming (it their own special little way), and full of personality. Rather than grouping people together, which I have done countless times especially when concerning books that are similar, there is a sense of individuality that makes them who they are.

However there are issues. Despite the recommended reading group for the novel to be for middle school students I believe that maybe some of the older generation will appreciate the book more. The Mysterious Howling is very appropriate to children don't worry, but how well it will hold their attention may be the issue. Some of the diction, motifs, and even the heaviness of the dialogues and narration at times may be troublesome for some students. (It's rare but it still occurs). There is even an issue of the protagonist being the age of 15—(older than the recommended age group). How well the children will relate to and understand the story will just depend on the child’s level of reading though.

But! the illustration accompanying the novel was just splendid! If you like the artistic style of the cover then you’ll love the illustrations. It fits quite well with the quirkiness of the novel.

Overall: So our class just had a guest speaker for Women’s Day today and she told us that when she hired, her employers called her “a delightful wack-job”. I feel as though this book is exactly that! It was a delightful, but strange all the while. I want need the next book in the series definitely!

Cover A+
It’s a very good representation of the novel with a color scheme I adore (I like the more earthy tones) that demonstrates the potential of the book nicely.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Waiting on Wednesday (49)

Double whammy this week as both synopsis are tiny weeny!

Love, Love, Love; Language of Love by Deborah Reber (Simon Pulse--December 21st 2010)

"Sixteen-year-old Janna is used to being a plain Jane until her world is thrown upside down when a super cute boy mistakes her for a foreign exchange student! Putting on a fake accent, she dons her new persona to win his heart, but at what price?"

Three Quarters Dead by Ricard Peck (Dial--November 28th 2010)

"Sophomore loner Kerry is overjoyed when three popular senior girls pick her to be in their clique until the seniors die in a car crash, return from the dead, and insist that Kerry help them exact revenge on a disloyal classmate."

I just want to thank Eleni (La Femme Reads) as I found the covers through her and of course Jill from Breaking the Spine for hosting this weekly meme!

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Stupid Cupid

Stupid Cupid by Ronda Stapleton (December 22nd 2009—Simon Pulse)

Source: contest win

Grade: 3.8/4 stars out of 5

Summary: “Felicity's no ordinary teen matchmaker...she's a cupid!

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

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

Review: Stupid Cupid impressed me from what I normally perceived it as. I was totally skeptical of this book because it reminded me so much of this other book which I did not like. Plus I was initially turned off by the cover. After winning this in a contest and leaving it up to twitter, the votes all pointed to read this and so I did. Stupid Cupid is laugh out loud ridiculously funny. I think I snorted twice while reading.

Rhonda Stapleton was book touring with Kristina Springer (author of The Espressologist) and Kristin Walker (author of A Match Made in High School) I believe which is beyond perfect! Cupid Stupid is the mixture of the two—hilarious with an original concept.

Let’s go back to me being skeptical about this book. On the first chapter I was pretty haughty with my nose turned up, maliciously smiling thinking how Stapleton can pull this off without making it sound like a 7 year-old’s dream. Inner me: Cupid though? You expect me to believe that the main character has a magical device to charm two people together so they fall in love? Ha! I am amused by your silliness. After chapter 1: Oh shit, that makes sense. But here’s the thing, there’s a level of fantasy that’s to be expected from this book. The part of “love arrows through email” bit? you just have to accept. The explanation of how Felicity is hired, where the money comes from, and what she does is the believable part.

Next up, the chortling fun. I think this humor is for everyone. It isn’t sadistic humor, dry humor, really odd that you can’t help but laugh at the awkwardness humor, but a good wholesome comedy. I’ll give you a hint. Felicity + men’s bathroom. If you want to know why Felicity ran into a men’s bathroom then pick up a copy! If not then continue reading while I hope to dazzle you and convince you to pick up a copy.

Oh wait, crap I don’t know what else to say. So yeah please be really interested in knowing why Felicity went to the men’s restroom.

Here are my issues for Stupid Cupid though. Like Scones and Sensibility the first half of the book was very pleasant to read, but then it became very frustrating to read. I was slightly iffy with some characters, found them to be monotonous, irritating, and skim-worthy.

Cover D+
I really dislike this cover. Something about the model I find very unappealing for this book. Might be the age. Does she look high-schoolish to you?

Monday, March 15, 2010

Spread the Flower Love Tour: Week 3

1. When did you start researching flower meanings?

I’ve always loved flowers and wanted an enormous garden, but it came together when I found my first language of flowers book. I have a whole collection now! As a freelancer, I was always “researching” for new ideas.

2. Have you worked in a flower shop?

No, but I’d love to. I mostly used my powers of observation and tried to hang out in gardens as much as possible. I did a lot of fact checking online, too.

3. Did you already know that you were going to write a book that included flowers?

Yes, that was one of the first things I knew. I also knew the target audience and how I wanted it to end. ☺

4. What if you were allergic to pollen that made it impossible to stand less than 3 feet from them?

LOL, I am allergic to pollen. I have to take an antihistamine and use nasal sprays and eye drops in the spring. But it’s worth it. I could never live without flowers.

5. What is the most hideous flower in your opinion?

There’s a flower called the Titan arum, aka “the corpse flower,” because it reeks of rotting flesh. It’s also one of the world’s largest flowers, too, which seems unfair. I won’t be planting that one.

6. Do you care for Venus Fly Traps? I had a "baby" one and I would always stick my finger between the lips (are they lips?). Of course it died within a week.

I think they’re fascinating and maybe we can learn a lot from how they work. I don’t think we understand how flowers and plants work completely. Another reason to preserve the rainforests….

7. Which brings us to the next topic! Caring for plants, any suggestions? Especially with gardens in the city.

Most people overwater plants inside. Outside, plants need a fair amount of water, especially in the city. I’d pick fun and easy plants, like morning glories, impatiens, pansies, some ferns for the shade. You can do a ton with container gardens, too. Plants are really persistent, and most do well with even a little bit of attention. It’s worth it to see bloom after bloom.

8. I heard that sticking the flowers that have been cut in sugar water helps.... That's even a questions, but I thought I would just throw that in there.

I’ve heard that pennies help too. I usually forget, but just try to keep cut flowers in fresh water. Otherwise, the stems can get kind of smell and moldy, so I usually change the water on fresh flowers every few days. It’s worth the effort, because they really brighten a room and bring it all together.

Vita Sackville-West said something like “a room without flowers is like a room without a soul.” I agree. Thanks for having me, Yan!
Now I'm supposed to present to you my lovely readers a flower! By collecting these followers around the blogging community you can win a prize. Yay prizes! All the info is at Amy's blog: "Week Three Prizes will include Dirty Little Secrets by C.J. Omololu and Hex Hall by Rachel Hawkins, along with a language of flowers booklet and FHN swag." Now are you ready for the most awesomeness flower our there? The reason why I like this flower is because its name is so literal! There's nothing latin or confusing about it :) I give you Bleeding Hearts.

Thursday, March 11, 2010


Soulless by Gail Carriger (October 1st 2009—Orbit)

Grade: 4.5 stars out of 5

Summary: “Alexia Tarabotti is laboring under a great many social tribulations. First, she has no soul. Second, she's a spinster whose father is both Italian and dead. Third, she was rudely attacked by a vampire, breaking all standards of social etiquette.

Where to go from there? From bad to worse apparently, for Alexia accidentally kills the vampire -- and then the appalling Lord Maccon (loud, messy, gorgeous, and werewolf) is sent by Queen Victoria to investigate.

With unexpected vampires appearing and expected vampires disappearing, everyone seems to believe Alexia responsible. Can she figure out what is actually happening to London's high society? Will her soulless ability to negate supernatural powers prove useful or just plain embarrassing? Finally, who is the real enemy, and do they have treacle tart?”

Review: I expected greatness from this book. I expected a holy crap, ohmyeffinggodthisissogood! moment. I expected coming out from this book that I would pretty much find Gail Carriger, hold her tea hostage and demand the sequel. And by golly I got what I wanted! And yes, this review will be so improper that it won’t even make sense. I will also have you know that this particular document file has been open then closed so often that it’s been several months since I last read the book.

Soulless’s biggest selling point was the narration. The voice was equal parts charm and equal parts snark. Alexia is a strong female character and that came through with her actions. She’s not afraid to threaten people into shape with her brass silver-tipped parasol and perform some scientific investigation on the opposite sex’s…anatomy. She’s innocent, which makes her action more laugh out loud funny. You can’t help but sympathize to whoever has the misfortunate to be landed by Alexia’s steady and calculating gaze.

My second kudos goes to the setting and world Carriger devises. Set in Victorian London with multitude ruffled skirts and perfectly ties cavat knots, the author manages to incorporate the fantasy element of vampires and werewolves effortlessly. Everything makes sense! And thank goodness, vampires drink blood!

My biggest issue, however, was the political side. I was ever so lost in the biz. There are also several characters that I believed were not needed in the novel.

Overall: This was my first time reading steampunk novels and am I ever exciting that this was my first! Carriger definitely left a highly amusing, whimsically fun first impression!

Cover B+

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Numbers Giveaway

Numbers by Rachel Ward

"Ever since she was child, Jem has kept a secret: Whenever she meets someone new, no matter who, as soon as she looks into their eyes, a number pops into her head. That number is a date: the date they will die. Burdened with such awful awareness, Jem avoids relationships. Until she meets Spider, another outsider, and takes a chance. The two plan a trip to the city. But while waiting to ride the Eye ferris wheel, Jem is terrified to see that all the other tourists in line flash the same number. Today's number. Today's date. Terrorists are going to attack London. Jem’s world is about to explode!"

Click here for more info about NUMBERS because you know you want to. Details for giveaway below.

Waiting on Wednesday (48)

Dark Touch: Shadows by Amy Meredith (April 1st 2010--Red Fox [UK release])

"Fifteen-year-old Eve Evergold is cute, sassy and enjoying a busy social life. What she doesn't know yet is that someone close to her is an evil demon that only she has the supernatural power to defeat. She needs to work out who it is - and fast! Because although there's something very attractive about the dark side...dating a demon? Pure hell!"

It's so pretty! Pretty! And hellavu a lot of fun!

This meme is hosted by Jill at Breaking the Spine!

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

The Sky is Everywhere

The Sky is Everywhere by Jandy Nelson (March 9th 2010—Dial)

Source: Publishers from way back

Grade: 5 stars out of 5

Summary: “Seventeen-year-old Lennie Walker, bookworm and band geek, plays second clarinet and spends her time tucked safely and happily in the shadow of her fiery older sister, Bailey. But when Bailey dies abruptly, Lennie is catapulted to center stage of her own life—and, despite her nonexistent history with boys, suddenly finds herself struggling to balance two. Toby was Bailey’s boyfriend; his grief mirrors Lennie’s own. Joe is the new boy in town, a transplant from Paris whose nearly magical grin is matched only by his musical talent. For Lennie, they’re the sun and the moon; one boy takes her out of her sorrow, the other comforts her in it. But just like their celestial counterparts, they can’t collide without the whole wide world exploding.”

Review: It feels like I’ve been going on a negative ranting spree attacking whatever book I can. I’m a picky read, I get that, but even I get a little weary of what I’m posting! Like dang, home girl needs to stop trippin’. (Okay please accept my sincerest apologies for that last sentence; I have no idea where that came from.) Rants are easier for me to write, positive reviews ehhh not so much, but I’m going to suck it up.

The Sky is Everywhere was the last book to have gotten five stars from me on GoodReads, which was back in December (yes that is 3 whole months back). Jandy Nelson enveloped me in warm fuzzy feelings, grief, and recognition. Her writing was stunning, her prose was moving, and her characterization on point. However I will admit not everyone agrees with me. Heaven forbid all teen readers are connected to one brain. Lauren (from Lauren's Crammed Bookshelf) for example could not get into the narration and while I do believe it can be a little strong at times, I still fell in love with this novel.

Firstly I wanted to cover the author’s use of poetry. I love it as much as Sonya Sones’s work and Lisa Schroder’s contemporary fictions. By the time I finished the novel my mind thought: “If Nelson were to write a prose novel I would definitely buy it”. She is concise when choosing her words wisely and making her point across yet is able to continue this heavy onslaught of grievance. She can write about the most meaningless thing but I will still love it, it seems.

Secondly I love Lennie and Joe. I love them separately, but I love them together. I don’t, however, love Lennie and Toby together. Lennie and Joe are harmonious and sensual creating a rainbow with every tint and value in between. Lennie and Toby gives off the color brown—dirty, muddled, and only one (if not two different tones) emotion. I had trouble understanding how grief turns into such a palpable, high-strong lust.

Okay Joe needs a paragraph on his own, that’s how much I loved him. He’s easygoing, he’s comfortable, he’s new yet he’s soft like a worn childhood blanket. You feel like cuddling with him. You’re more than tempted to drag him everyone and show off. Yet despite those years he’s still sturdy. Joe doesn’t let his feelings overpower his brain, which deserves a ‘thank goodness’ all on its own.

Overall: The Sky is Everywhere is an intensely rich novel that leaves this reader extremely pleased for this debut author!

Cover C+
If you’re like me you are not really fond of the cover. But I really hope you see pass that because this debut novel is worth the pickup.

Monday, March 8, 2010

Token of Darkness Giveaway

Special thanks to Random House for the giveaway as part of the blog tour!

Blog Tour: Amelia Atwater-Rhodes

Welcome to the last stop of Amelia Atwater-Rhodes blog tour! You can find her at her websites: here and here.
1. You've been writing for a very long time, does the inspiration ever stop or fumble?

Inspiration comes and goes, but there has only been one point when it stopped for so long I worried about it- back in the spring and summer of 2006. Looking back, I can imagine why I had a hard time that year (I was in undergraduate school full-time, and had some fairly major health problems that led to my having surgery that summer) but at the time all I knew was that the writing wasn’t fun anymore.

What helped was breaking completely from Nyeusigrube and my genre for a while. I participated in National Novel Writing Month for the first time, writing what I intended to be a throw-away fantasy novel, and ended up with a trilogy that completely restored my writing desire both in that world and back in Nyeusigrube.

2. Have you changed your style of writing to accommodate the change with the teen audience? Especially when considering language and sex.

My policy has always been that, while I have no moral objection to swearing, I know there are teachers and librarians and parents out there who would hesitate to give a kid a book with certain language, and I am not so in love with cuss words that I cannot tell a story without them. I don’t feel it cheapens a work if I find a way around saying the s-word, but that tiny change might make the book available to more readers, and that is what is important to me. I am the same way about sex. I do not need to write graphic sex scenes to tell a good story. Do my characters sometimes “do it”? Sure. But they do it off screen so I can focus on the plot.

What I do not alter for my audience is my ideas. Sometimes I feel some writers use more sex and swearing while dumbing down the ideas, which is just insulting to everyone involved. I can switch up language and how graphic I am in order to make a story accessible, but I do not believe in writing down to my readers. Throughout my published works, I have dealt with some controversial concepts, because I believe young adults not only can but should think, and form opinions, and be challenged by what they read.
All that said, I had a funny moment when working with a beta reader on Token of Darkness. There is a scene early in the book where Cooper has an awkward conversation with his friend, John. They are both football players and seniors in high school, and it was a real struggle for me to write natural dialogue without using the words I “self-censor” from my YA books. I made a comment to my beta-reader when she was reading it about how awkward it was to write without swearing, to which she responded, “I can’t imagine how much more awkward it would have been with the swearing.” Sometimes I need little reminders like that to make me remember that we here in Massachusetts do perhaps swear a little more liberally than other people.

3. When starting a new book do you plan that the book will turn into a series?

Several years ago, my agent asked me if I would consider writing a series, and I told him pretty flat-out, “I don’t write series.” At the time, Hawksong was meant to be a stand-alone book. Only once I finished it did I realize there were too many unanswered questions for the story to be over there. As I worked on Snakecharm I realized the challenges within required a conclusion about the daughter, and as I worked on Wolfcry I realized something was missing, so I went back to Falcondance… etcetera. Eventually I ended up with a five-book series, when I had never planned to have more than one.

Currently I am working on a novel that I think might turn into a series. This is the first time in my career that I’ve ever tried to plan a series of books, so I do not yet know how it is going to go.
Tour Stops:
Amelia is available for the week of March 1st at RandomBuzzers
Monday, March 1st Tales of the Ravenous Reader
Tuesday, March 2nd Park Avenue Princess
Wednesday, March 3rd The Story Siren
Thursday, March 4th Cynthia Leitich Smith
Friday, March 5th The Book Butterfly
Monday, March 8th Me!

Saturday, March 6, 2010

Demigods and Monsters Giveaways

Thanks for BenBella, I have 2 copies of this book to give to you!

"The #1 New York Times bestselling Percy Jackson series--including The Lightning Thief, The Sea of Monsters, The Titan's Curse, and The Battle of the Labyrinth--features a twelve-year-old dyslexic boy who discovers he is the son of a Greek god, the target of mythical Greek monsters and the center of a prophecy that could change the balance of power in the world forever.
In Demigods and Monsters, YA authors take on Greek gods, monsters and prophecy, to add insight and even more fun to Riordan's page-turner series.

It's fresh, funny essays include:
Introduction: Demigods and Monsters by RICK RIORDAN
Monster Recognition for Beginners by ROSEMARY CLEMENT-MOORE
Why Do So Many Monsters Go Into Retail? by CAMERON DOKEY
Stealing Fire From the Gods by PAUL COLLINS
Would You Want to Be One of Artemis's Hunters? by CAROLYN MACCULLOUGH
Dionysus: Who Let Him Run a Summer Camp? by ELLEN STEIBER
The Gods Among Us by ELIZABETH M. REES
Eeny Meeny Miney Mo(m) by JENNY HAN
Percy, I am Your Father by SARAH BETH DURST
Not Even the Gods Are Perfect by ELIZABETH E. WEIN
Frozen Eyeballs by KATHI APPELT
The Language of the Heart by SOPHIE MASSON

The book also includes an introduction by Percy Jackson series author Rick Riordan, that gives further insight into the series and its creation, and a glossary of ancient Greek myth, with plenty of information on the places, monsters, gods and heroes that appear in the series."

Contest ends in March 27th!

Friday, March 5, 2010

Sapphique Cover

What can I say?--I'm in a new-cover-posting mood. Granted I've yet to read the first book so I have no idea why I'm posting the sequel. I do, however, love the key/lock connection.

I should really stop doing these posts...definitely.

A Season of Eden

A Season of Eden by JM Warwick (October 20th 2008—Grove Creek)

Source: Traded/Swapped

Grade: 2.5 stars out of 5

Summary: “He's my teacher. I shouldn't be alone with him. But I can't help that he's irresistible. I let the door silently close at my back. He stared at me, and a taut quiet stretched between us. "I like hearing you play," I said, moving toward him. He turned, in sync with my slow approach. He looked up at me but didn't say anything. I rested my clammy hand on the cold, slick body of the baby grand. "May I?" The muscles in his throat shifted, then he swallowed. "Eden." My knees weakened, like a soft tickling kiss had just been blown against the backs of them. "Is it okay?" I asked. His gaze held mine like two hands joined. He understood what I was really asking. "Let me stay," I said. "Please." "You're going to get me in trouble," he said.”

Review: By now I’ve read several reviews exclaiming that A Season of Eden was an exceptional read and I believed them. So of course I was gleeful when I finally managed to grab a copy for my hands, but my smile turned upside down. A Season of Eden started out hard for me. First came the “love at first sight”. Secondly came the “stalking”. Everything else was fine; I just had issues with those.

Love at first sight is an easy escape for an author. No need for the general build-up, the characters to mingle, but just one glance at his blue-green eyes and they fall. Typically I wouldn’t mind it as much, but with such a small book there was hardly any room for character growth and relationship growth. What we had in the beginning was basically what we were left with in the end. The stalking speaks for itself. There were a few awkward transitions, a tad smidgen of over-dramatized scenes, and poor editing skills done in the book.

To those who've enjoyed it, that's fantastic! It just was not for me clearly.

Cover B

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Spy Glass Cover

I'm a huge fan of Maria V. Snyder if you have yet to figure that out yet so it is only reasonable that I post the latest cover for her Glass Series, Spy Glass. I had already WoWed the book some time back.

I'm fairly surprised that the cover now features a face. In the last two books it only showed a pair of hands and a glass orb.

The Agency Giveaway

I would like to direct all of your attention to Y.S. Lee's giveaway at her site. Here are the details:
To celebrate my North American debut, I’m giving away 3 fabulous prize packages. These will include a shiny new hardcover copy of The Agency: A Spy in the House and an Agency t-shirt. These will be randomly drawn.

There will be a fourth mystery prize, not randomly drawn, and this will go to the entry that makes me laugh really, really, hard. Ideally, it will make me spurt coffee out my nose. Yes, I’m that classy, and also willing to suffer for a joke.
Mystery prize rule 1: I reserve the right not to give this out at all.
Mystery prize rule 2: A randomly drawn winner may also win this extra prize.

So, what do you have to do? Simple. Just leave a comment below that completes this sentence: “If I were a spy…”

Traveling to Teens--Y.S. Lee

Y S Lee was born in Singapore and raised in Vancouver and Toronto. In 2004, she completed her PhD in Victorian literature and culture. This research, combined with her time living in London, triggered an idea for a story about a women’s detective agency. The result, A Spy in the House, is her first novel.
Hello! This is the 2nd of 8 guest posts I’m making as part of the T2T blog tour. As an ex-professor and writer of historical fiction, my theme is Things You (Probably) Didn’t Know About the Victorians. Yesterday, I talked about Sexy Victorian at GreenBeanTeenQueen. Today’s topic is Extreme Child Labour.

How old were you when you got your first job, and what was it? Babysitting at the age of 12? Weeding your grandmother’s flowerbeds at age 10? Mine was cleaning my parents’ bathroom when I was 11. I hated it. Hated it. Hated it. Every Saturday morning. Not optional. But at least they paid me ($5) – and at least I wasn’t a poor child in Victorian England.

Child labour was routine for the Victorian poor. A six-year-old might be responsible for looking after other, younger children, then graduate to minding a neighbour’s flock of sheep at the age of 8. Notice the hierarchy, here: you had to be older and more responsible to look after livestock, because they were more valuable than kids! In a different district, work might involve crawling through a coal mine, because skinny bodies and tiny fingers were good at collecting little bits of coal. Urban children went to work in factories, where their small fingers were useful once again – until they lost them in industrial accidents, and were thus unemployable.

It wasn’t that children’s labour was particularly valuable – they earned much lower wages than women, who in turn earned less than men (for the same work). And it wasn’t that parents thought their kids might as well be useful. But going to school cost money, and most poor families simply couldn’t afford it. Even the pennies earned by their children were essential to paying for basics, like rent and food. Alfred Quigley, a minor character in my novel, A Spy in the House, earns a bit more running errands and delivering messages, but his incentive is the same: to help his widowed mother pay the bills.

Child labour was a frequent subject of concern for Victorian social reformers. In 1847, a new law limited the working day to 10 hours for children and adults! And despite its end in affluent countries like Britain and the States, it continues today in poor countries. I, for one, should still be grateful that I’m not a poor child in China.
You can find Lee at her website, follow her on twitter, and figure out who's next on her online book tour!

Traveling to Teens--The Agency

The Agency by Y.S. Lee (March 9th 2010--Candlewick)

Source: Publisher

Grade: 3 stars out of 5

Summary: "Introducing an exciting new series! Steeped in Victorian atmosphere and intrigue, this diverting mystery trails a feisty heroine as she takes on a precarious secret assignment.

Rescued from the gallows in 1850s London, young orphan (and thief) Mary Quinn is surprised to be offered a singular education, instruction in fine manners — and an unusual vocation. Miss Scrimshaw’s Academy for Girls is a cover for an all-female investigative unit called The Agency, and at seventeen, Mary is about to put her training to the test. Assuming the guise of a lady’s companion, she must infiltrate a rich merchant’s home in hopes of tracing his missing cargo ships. But the household is full of dangerous deceptions, and there is no one to trust — or is there? Packed with action and suspense, banter and romance, and evoking the gritty backstreets of Victorian London, this breezy mystery debuts a daring young detective who lives by her wits while uncovering secrets — including those of her own past."

Review: The Agency by Y.S. Lee has all the needed elements to make a fantastic read. In this historical mystery novel Mary is taking on her first case as an agent. The reader follows Mary as she uncovers the clues, pieces them together, and runs into a little trouble with the opposite sex, which of course is so bad it's has to be good right?

The thing with The Agency to me was the slowness of the actual plot. As a standalone novel The Agency fails to impress. As the first of a series, The Agency starts off tentatively to just give a hint of what's to come. But the issue was the way the plot sometimes strayed off. It gave more depth to the whole experience, but loses the attention of the reader. More often than naught I forgot the "true" plot was! I was so distracted by the plausible affairs.

When Steph Su updated her progress of The Agency on Goodreads exclaiming that she loved bantering between James and Mary, it had me excited! While there had been humorous bantering between the two I expected more. I'm hoping that my expectations will be fulfilled in the next addition to this series. What we were left in this novel was the perfect set-up for the romance.

Overall: The Agency, I would like to say, is the birth-child of The Gallagher Girls series and Sherlock Holmes tales.

Cover B
This has been brought to you by Traveling to Teens tours.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Waiting on Wednesday (47)

Viola in the Spotlight by Adriana Trigiani (September 1st 2010--Harper)

All I know is that it's the sequel to Viola in Reel Life, which I adored!

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Rules of Attraction

Rules of Attraction by Simone Elkeles (April 13th 2010—Walker)

Grade: 3 stars out of 5

Source: Borrowing from Gail.

Summary: “Carlos Fuentes doesn't want any part of the life his older brother, Alex, has laid out for him in Boulder, Colorado. He wants to keep living on the edge, and carve his own path?just like Alex did. Unfortunately, his ties to a Mexican gang aren't easy to break, and he soon finds himself being set up by a drug lord.
When Alex arranges for Carlos to live with his former professor and his family to keep him from being sent to jail, Carlos feels completely out of place. He's even more thrown by his strong feelings for the professor's daughter, Kiara, who is nothing like the girls he's usually drawn to. But Carlos and Kiara soon discover that in matters of the heart, the rules of attraction overpower the social differences that conspire to keep them apart.

As the danger grows for Carlos, he's shocked to discover that it's this seemingly All-American family who can save him. But is he willing to endanger their safety for a chance at the kind of life he's never even dreamed possible?”

Review: Rules of Attraction oh long I’ve waited for this moment. When the news of a sequel to the coveted Perfect Chemistry reached the ears of the blogging world it was sheer mayhem. Which was what?—like 2 to 3 months ago? Now I finally had a copy of this sucker in my grubby hands and it crumbled. It was just…so scandalous! Take the romance what you know from Perfect Chemistry and amplify that to the tenth power and add raging teenage hormones.

It’s been several months since I last skimmed Perfect Chemistry so forgive me if this was prominent in there as well as I did not warn you (but I believe it wasn’t so in-your-face). Rules of Attraction had a heavy heaping of sexual tensions, two almost sex scenes, and one actual sex scene thing. Before anyone says anything there was no mention of the P-word or the V-word or any of that sorts. Rules of Attraction is for older teens or just really mature teens, comprende? Fans of romance will rejoice, but this takes away from the actual storyline to me.

Carlos Fuentes is trying to change his life after some…incidents…occur. Kiara is just what he needs; she’s a strong minded female that won’t swoon to the likes of him (very much that is). The relationship between these two is a bundle of joy. They balance each other out and give readers plenty to laugh at. With the addition of Tuck, Kiara’s (gay) best friend, there are scenes that are laugh out loud funny. (And if you’ve read it already did you think the Ultimate Frisbee was funny?).

As for Kiara’s family, well they are in their own categories. Elkeles seems to also craft her secondary characters wonderfully just as with Paco from Perfect Chemistry. Alex and Brittany also make quite a reappearance that gives previous readers still something to smile about.

Overall: The reason why the grade is fairly average to low was because I’ve seen most of this before...in Perfect Chemistry.

Cover B

Monday, March 1, 2010

Manga Monday--Alice in the Country of Hearts

Alice in the Country of Hearts Volume 1-2* by Hoshino Soumei (February 2nd and March 2nd 2010—respectfully—Tokyopop)

Grade: 2 stars out of 5

Summary: “The girly but bloody otome game re-imagining of Lewis Carroll's classic fantasy novel Alice's Adventures in Wonderland with bishōnen characters and added romance.

In this story, Alice is not all what she seems. She is practical, strong, yet an cynical person. Instead of the tradition story, Alice is kidnapped unwillingly by a mysterious (yet somewhat bishie-looking**) man with bunny ears into a place call Heartland. Stuck in Heartland due to a trick by the mysterious bunny eared man, she meets the residents of this world. Along the way, Alice meets Blood, handsome mafia leader; Ace, the psycho yet charming knight and more…What should Alice do in such a world!?”

Review: I'm going to switch things up a bit. I'm going to alternate from Monday Mystery and Manga Monday. I read Alice in the Country of Hearts in between The Looking Glass War and Seeing Redd. This was during my Alice in Wonderland frenzy. (I’ve also just read a new manga that has similar attributes from Alice in Wonderland as well; I mean the main character is named Alice!)

Based off the first few volumes I've read I won't be picking it up anytime soon again. Readers who venture past the first couple will find themselves with a much darker tone than the original premise make it out to be (from what I gathered after skimming the next several chapters). It plays with the idea of ‘who am I?’ and all that psychological good stuff. I, unfortunately, had a hard time passing the second volume in this series.

The plotline when first introduced is very, very, extremely simple. *spoilers* find as many people as you can in this world to be able to get back home *end spoilers*. The characters are cliché. Alice is of course charming, innocent, brave, sweet, kind and the savior of the entire other-world dimension and typically have two moods. Peter and the rest of the cast are affected by Alice though I have no idea why! Alice in the Country of Hearts garners so many concerns that even the pretty pictures won’t distract me.

-cover of volume 2 as well-

* this was adapted from a game…I did not know that hmmm. Might make sense now with the overly simple plot.
**Short for bishounen, translated roughly meaning "pretty boy." Used for attractive male anime characters, and sometimes real life. Generally they are sort of girlish looking.