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

Monday, April 18, 2011

Give Up the Ghost by Megan Crewe Giveaway

Last year I reviewed Give Up the Ghost by Megan Crewe as part of a blog tour.

This year I'm helping Megan celebrate the release of the paperback edition of Give Up the Ghost by offering one  lucky winner a copy of her book! Check out its trailer and other Amazon reviews:





Check out my short interview with Megan:

Is the paperback release just as exciting as your hardcover release? 
  • I think so!  The paperback release has some fun bonus material for readers, particularly a couple of deleted scenes featuring two ghosts who didn't make the final cut for the finished book.  But I'm fond of them, so I'm happy to be able to share them at least in part.
Were you afraid that the publishing house would change the cover for the paperback release?
  • More curious than afraid. I've seen a lot of books change covers going from hardcover to paperback, so I knew it was possible, but I trusted that if my publisher decided to do that, they'd come up with something I liked just as much as the original.
Any more news about your 3-book deal with Hyperion starting with THE WAY WE FALL because I'm already terribly anxious :)
  • Well, I can tell you that the books have so far sold in seven other countries, so a whole bunch of international readers are going to get to see them too!  And a couple weeks ago I got to see a preliminary cover for THE WAY WE FALL, which I love SO much and cannot wait to show the rest of the world.  I wish I could tell you more, like the exact release date, but even I don't know that yet!

To enter, simply fill the form out:


P.S. Brain fart; yes the deadline is APRIL 30th not March. Sorry about that.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Enclave Trailer is Kick-Butt

Enclave by Ann Aguirre was just released yesterday! While the book has undergone several cover changes and a couple of different release dates, the plot still reminds pretty much kick-butt. And to prove it, watch this trailer: (Totally kick-butt)


And on a completely unrelated note, 3 more weeks left of this semester! I am more than ready for it to over. Currently pounding out essay after essay after essay, which is why I'm scarce on the web right now. And a bit crazy.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Spoiled

Spoiled by Heather Cocks and Jessica Morgan

Grade: 3.3 stars out of 5
When Molly’s mother finally spills the beans about her father she never expected him to be Brick Berlin, famous actor and director. Now she’s a little terrified of heading out to LA—leaving behind her on-and-off again boyfriend, her best friend, and everyone she knows—to meet Daddy dearest and half-sister Brooke. It might mean a change of scenery, but that doesn’t mean Molly will change. Right?
Tag team authors, Heather Cocks and Jessica Morgan bring together a double perspective novel about the ups-and-downs of Hollywood; the bitter resentment of a busy Dad; and a runaway Mom.

GoFugYourself is a website by Cooks and Morgan and it says a lot about Spoiled. Readers find themselves chuckling here and there about some crazy antics Shelby (Brooke’s archnemesis), Molly, and Brooke come up with to humiliate each other. (Also fashion, be familiar with designer names, but don't be discouraged since it's not as much as I first thought.) While it’s gratifying for Molly to get a little backbone and get back at Brooke, somewhere down the line it got a little tiring. One thing that I never understood was the whole animosity between Brooke and Shelby. It was explained in bits, but I have trouble believing what the other is saying. There are two different stories on how it all started and each one points to the speaker as the “good” one. Neither Brooke nor Shelby has great track records of being 100% honest.

I found Molly to be na├»ve in the story. She’s such an honest and trustworthy person, and thinks highly of many people despite warnings. Is Molly that typical girl from a small-town implanted to a big city (NYC, LA, etc.)? Very shy, quiet, and from the readers’ perspective, someone you want to shake. That said and done, I will go back to my original statement and mention that Molly does get a backbone and can fight her own battles.

Brooke’s underlying soft, hurt nature comes through her emails to her mother. I thought Brooke’s character development shined as the novel progress. Molly and Brooke’s make-up chat played nicely with readers’ sympathy, but the seemingly quick shift from enemies to best friends left me a cross-eyed. Brooke’s internal thoughts helped smoothed the transition, but her actions hardly matched her thoughts and what the readers’ know is different from what Molly knows.

I found the epilogue lacking when trying to wrap everything left. It felt more like an extra chapter than an epilogue. The “love interest” was also lacking and believed that the novel would have been better if that was taken out. It didn’t add to the novel because there wasn’t a real ending to the relationship. I enjoyed the friendships that was presented, but wished that there was more of a focus on the mothers since it’s the core of all the major issues in Spoiled.

ETA: This is apparently the first book in a series. Seriously? Wow; I am getting tired of books becoming a series when it doesn't need to be.

Source: ARC from Little, Brown and Company for HipScouts
Cover B
I like the concept, but wanted more types of makeup
Published: 1 June 2011; hardcover

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Song of the Silk Road

Song of the Silk Road by Mingmei Yip

Working her way through graduate school, Lily is offered a large sum of money by an unknown aunt. But to get the money, she must first travel back to China and complete a series of tasks, both bizarre and illuminating. Readers who are unfamiliar with Chinese culture and cities will enjoy what Yip has brought in the novel. However, Lily does portray the untraditional Chinese lady who does have a strong personalities.

Song of the Silk Road does allude to romanticism. Lily has an affair with her former creative writing professor. Chris, the professor, is married with a son. Chris plays a major character in Song of the Silk Road as a motivator  and antagonist. However, along her travels through China, Lily meets Alex. There it becomes an almost instant love connection.Lily is unafraid of sexuality and sex. Song of the Silk Road, while the details are metaphorical pretty, does include lots of sex.

The ending was the happily ever after. It's especially perfect for readers who aspire to become writers. There is a touch of unbelievability and things wrap up too quickly. I would have like the consequences of the affair Lily and Chris had to be more prominent and have a greater repercussion.

Mingmei Yip's writing is terse yet flowery are the same times. It borders on awkward for me at times.

Song of the Silk Road sings about the life in China.

Cover B
I love that it features a Chinese woman on the cover but it doesn't tell me anything about the book
Published: April 1st 2011; paperback

Interview with Mingmei Yip:

1. Are you working on anything else at the moment?

Yes, my fourth novel set in the 20ies in Shanghai about a woman spy working for a gangster. I am also writing and illustrating my second children’s book.

2. Can you tell us something about yourself that not a lot of your readers don’t  know?

Besides my hectic writing schedule, that I still manage to take time to perform the Chinese zither (guqin) professionally – last year I was invited by Carnegie Hall to play at its Chinese Music Festival -- and teach calligraphy workshops.

3. What is your favorite part of the writing process?

After I labor through getting down the first draft, as I polish up my writing, I begin to enjoy my characters and their trials and struggles as they work towards a happy ending.  In my writing, I meet people like the Chinese herbalist and blind fortune teller in Song of the Silk Road, whom I might never meet in real life.

4. Do you have any quirks that come out while you are writing?

 I just plunge into my writing and ignore everything around me. Since I was a tiny girl I have always preferred life inside my own head.

5. What is your daily routine as a writer?

I don’t have a chance to write every day, but when I do, I write eight or nine hours non-stop, then I eat Chinese take-out and fall asleep.

6. What inspired you to write your first book?

I wanted to bring to back to life the strong women of an earlier era in China when almost the only choices for women were being a wife (actually, one of several wives sharing the same husband), a Buddhist nun -- or a prostitute. Despite this some women overcame the barriers to become independent and creative artists.        

Some mingji, prestigious prostitutes, also called geishas, left behind poems and paintings providing windows into fascinating but often tragic lives.

I decided to give these talented, powerful women -- silent for centuries -- a voice.

The result is my first novel Peach Blossom Pavilion, which I’m happy to say, is now in its fifth printing.

What Happened to Goodbye

What Happened to Goodbye by Sarah Dessen

Grade: 4.5 stars out of 5
Ever since her parent’s divorce, Mclean has accompanied her dad across the states per requested by his job. In every town and school, Mclean wants to reinvent herself from preppy, scholarly, cool, etc. In the latest town, Lakeview, Mclean may take on the biggest challenge of all: being herself. Mclean hasn’t been Mclean for a long time and it’s coming back to bite her.
Sarah Dessen’s novels are my comfort reads; I know what to expect from her works. I expect for my heartstrings to be tugged, my heartbeat to flutter, and my feet firmly planted in her world. What Happened to Goodbye was just what I needed during those stressful days of school. Some readers of Dessen’s work may be a bit tired of her predictable plotline, but not me. I think Sarah Dessen’s basic book skeleton can fit into many contemporary or even paranormal novels, but they’re still different in the details.

Dessen grounds the reader before taking them for a ride. We know the background of the story (why Mclean does what she does, why her parents divorce, how her dad came into his new job, and who’s who) before throwing them into a pot and mixing them together.

The characters are so human and flawed and mesh so nicely with each other that I went back and reread the entire novel as soon as I finished. Even the most evil of actions (cheating, lying, ignoring) is well explained with clear reasons that I can’t help but accept every sorry, every tear drop, and every line. Heck, I almost cried (or maybe it was due to stress) during one of the climaxes of the novel.

Fans of Sarah Dessen don’t want to miss What Happened to Goodbye. Seriously you don’t; pick this book up. It’s everything you would want and expect in Dessen’s novels.

Cover A
Source: unsolicited review copy from Viking
Published: 2011, May 10

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Cassandra Clare and Holly Black on Tour!


Is Holly Black or Cassandra Clare coming to you? Sadly, the closet tour stop for me is NYC and it's on a weekday with finals just around the corner.

EW also featured City of Fallen Angels!: 1    2    3   4  

I'll Be There

I'll Be There by Holly Goldberg Sloan

Grade: 4 stars out of 5
Raised by an unstable father who keeps the family constantly on the move, Sam Border hasn't been in a classroom since the second grade. He's always been the rock for his younger brother Riddle, who stopped speaking long ago and instead makes sense of the world through his strange and intricate drawings. It's said that the two boys speak with one voice--and that voice is Sam's.

Then, Sam meets Emily Bell, and everything changes. The two share an immediate and intense attraction, and soon Sam and Riddle find themselves welcomed into the Bell's home. Faced with normalcy for the first time, they know it's too good to last.
I’m at a lost of words when trying to describe I’ll Be There by Holly Goldberg Sloan without spoiling the entire novel. After finding out that Sloan is a screenwriter, I was able to imagine  I’ll Be There as the movie I would have gone out to see. With its strong opening of gospel music and the happily ever after ending, I I’ll Be There starts off the new year with a bang.

Firstly, let’s get rid of the unpleasantness out of the way.  I’ll Be There is a novel not suited for everyone. It had a much faster pace than what I’m accustomed to. The first love instant connection was a stretch that was not followed up on as much I would have liked.  I’ll Be There took some time to warm into, but after the initial couple of chapters the book was hard to put down.

The fluidity of the novel could only be compared to the strength of the characters. Sam and Emily come alive and come across as real people. Their relationship with their family and the social environment is touching, a bit dramatic in Emily’s case, and made the entire novel spectacular. Bobby was the perfect villain with equal parts charismatic, dastardly, and insanity. Bobby was a truly frightening character with power at his fingertips. However, fate acts in the most strangest of ways.

 I’ll Be There is for those willing to step out of the perfect box. For those who believe in coincidence in the most oddest, but amazing of ways. Told through multiple perspective, even a bear's!,  I’ll Be There will bring a smile to your face.

Cover
Source: Bound manuscript from HipScout [Little, Brown and Company]
Published: 3, May 2011

Monday, April 4, 2011

Manga Monday: Pita-Ten

Pita-Ten by Koge-donbo
Misha has just moved in next door to Kotarou Higuchi and swears she will protect him at all costs. Unfortunately, she's not too familiar with the ordinary world, as she is an angel who has lived in Heaven until recently. She has no idea how things work on earth and ends up causing more trouble.
Very cute drawings, but very dark themes. Also Amazon has it for "Young Adults" but the characters are middle grade students. However the characters do not act their age a good portion of the time.