Saturday, April 30, 2011

On Vacation, Be Back Shortly


In case you haven't noticed, things have been a bit slow this week. That's because I'm on vacation at the moment, enjoying the extremely hot (yesterday was gorgeous though) and humid Florida weather.

I had every intention to keep up with blogging, but I come home and I'm dead on my feet. The computer is the last place I'd think to go - my bed calls to me the second I walk through the door.

You can expect normal blogging, commenting, and tweeting to commence this Wednesday. If I miss any fantastic posts that you would love for me to check out, just send me a link on Twitter and I'll try to hit them all.

Enjoy your weekend!

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Holly Black/Cassandra Clare Signing Recap

On Friday, April 22nd, I went to the Cassandra Clare/Holly Black signing with some fellow blogger buddies. The Odyssey Bookshop in South Hadley, MA is absolutely adorable…and the place was packed. If Jen (The Secret Life of a Bibliophile) hadn’t been thinking and reserved our seats weeks ahead of time, we would have been standing.

Just before the signing, we were lucky enough to sit down with both Holly and Cassie at a little café and talk books and such. If you have the chance, say hi to these ladies because they are both incredibly nice and more than personable and funny.

The signing itself was a little chaotic. The house was more than packed, seats all filled up and people standing around. There was this tiny little aisle for Cassie and Holly to get up to a podium. It all felt a little claustrophobic to me, but Cassie and Holly handled it very well.

They both started by reading excerpts from their upcoming books (Cassie from Clockwork Angel and Holly from Black Heart), then did a Q&A session.

Here’s a little recap of the Q&A, all thanks to the tweets from Jen at blog name here:
  • The idea for the Shadowhunter world came to Cassie after visiting a friend and seeing their tattoo designs, then playing around with the idea and what ifs.
  • Magnus Bane is based on Cassie’s friend John, who is a very intelligent guy (like Magnus) and also happened to be covered in glitter one night when they went out clubbing. 
  • Magnus was supposed to only be featured in one scene (his party scene in City of Bones) but Cassie like him too much for that to be it.
    Holly always wants to see more of Luke in the TMI series
    In the original City of Glass, there was a very brief kiss between Jace and Alec, but it was replaced with Alec’s realization that kissing Jace is gross, because he’s like a brother to him.
  • Cassie says writing Jace is comfortable for her, but writing Will is crazy and fun because she doesn’t know where he will go or what he will do.
    Cassie says that we will find out where/what Tessa’s parents are sometime in the Infernal Devices series.
  • Cassie and Holly said they would consider writing a full length story together – they’ve written short stories together – if the idea worked and their schedules worked out.
  • Cassie’s favorite character from Holly’s books is Rioban from the Modern Faerie Tale series and Holly’s favorite characters from Cassie’s books are Cassel’s grandfather from the Curseworkers series and Will (not in a shipping way) from the Infernal Devices series. 
  • Cassie enjoys killing off characters and has actually waited to kill a character because she wanted the readers to be more attached to him. (Good job, Cassie, because that one hurt)
  • Holly has never planned to kill a character and not gone through with it, but she has really liked characters and given them more time.
  • Holly says the first book in a series is hard to write because you have to set up the whole world, and Cassie chimed in that the last book is hard too because you have to make everything pay off.
  • Holly says the reason her characters appear in Cassie’s book(s) and vice versa is because it makes the world feel more real. Even though they appear in each other’s books, it’s not really the same world.
  • Crazy fan experiences include: Shadowhunter tattoos and two Jace babies at the City of Fallen Angels/Red Glove tour launch.
Like I said, the place was packed, but the two hours or so we spent waiting in line to get our books signed passed by quickly enough. That's what happens in the company of good people. Plus, we were the last ones up to see Cassie (we had already went up once in Holly's line) and unfortunately they had run out of chapter samplers and TMI postcards, but Cassie gave each of us some Shadowhunter goodies and I walked away with this awesome stele/pen. All in all, it was a fantastic night!
For more info on the signing, check these blogs:

I'm sure they'll be posting recaps soon enough themselves...also, they are all pretty much amazing, so you should check out their blogs anyway :)

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Book Review: Life on Hold by Karen McQuestion

Title: Life on Hold
Author: Karen McQuestion
Reading Level: Young Adult
Publisher: Amazon Encore
Paperback, 168 pages
Date Published: April 1, 2011
Description (Taken from Goodreads):
When Rae Maddox begins yet another school in yet another town, a dangerous new friend forces her to finally take charge of her life — or risk losing everything and everyone she holds dear.
Praised as “one of the best new authors around,” bestselling Kindle author Karen McQuestion weaves her magic yet again in this contemporary coming-of-age novel that is sure to resonate with young-adult readers and parents alike.

Gina and Rae Maddox are more like best friends than mother and daughter. Of course, free-spirited Gina’s rambling ways leave her daughter with little opportunity to make any other friends, as they constantly crisscross the country in search of “a fresh start.” But when Gina brings them home to her native Wisconsin, she promises Rae that this time, they’ll stay least until Rae finishes high school. And when Rae begins to make friends at Whitman High, she dares to hope her mother is telling the truth. But then Rae is paired with another new girl, Allison Daly, whose bad attitude and unsettled family life put her at odds with Rae — yet draws her to Gina. When ugly rumors begin to fly about Allison’s past, Rae must choose between distancing herself from the troubled girl or using her own experience as an outcast to help her. The path she takes will not only change Allison’s life, it will affect Rae’s relationship with her mother and her understanding of her place in the world.

Life on Hold is a short, but enjoyable read. Rae’s situation – living a very nomadic, almost gypsy-like life with her mother – brings forth all kinds of feelings. Right away, I could understand how hard it must be for her to move constantly. She refuses to allow herself to get close to anyone because she knows she’s just going to lose them. Being inside Rae’s head made me hate her mother. While Rae is angry at her mom at times, she still loves her, but I never really connected with the positive feelings. Her mom is selfish and doesn’t think about Rae at all. In fact, there were times when she would guilt-trip Rae by saying she had to give up so much when she was younger and got pregnant. That, to me, is a bad mom alert.

Aside from my issues with Rae’s mom, the book was a good read. Allison was a little shrouded in mystery and her story was wrapped up in a bit of an unexpected way. I thought it would be a bit more dramatic, but it worked. The secondary characters like Nick, Mason, and Kylie are done well. They aren’t all that fleshed out, but are funny enough and add to Rae’s story.

I have to say that Rae felt a little flat to me. She had a backstory and is a relatively strong character, but she didn’t really jump off the page to me. It could be attributed to her personality – she’s a quiet, blend-in with the scenery kind of person – but I would have liked her to have been more fleshed out.

Life on Hold is another short, but good read from Karen McQuestion. The author has  a knack for packing an entire story into very few pages, but I think if she lengthened it a bit, the story could be even better.
*This review is my honest opinion and I received no monetary compensation from it.

Find Karen McQuestion online:

Buy it online:

Monday, April 25, 2011

Book Review: The Lipstick Laws by Amy Holder

Title: The Lipstick Laws
Author: Amy Holder
Reading Level: Young Adult
Publisher: Graphia (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt)
e-ARC, 237 pages (via Netgalley)
Date Published: April 4, 2011
Description (Taken from Goodreads):
At Penford High School, Britney Taylor is the queen bee. She dates whomever she likes, rules over her inner circle of friends like Genghis Khan, and can ruin anyone's life with a snap of perfectly manicured fingers. Just ask the unfortunate few who have crossed her.   For April Bowers, Britney is also the answer to her prayers. April is so unpopular, kids don't even know she exists. But one lunch spent at Britney's table, and April is basking in the glow of popularity.   But Britney's friendship comes with a high price tag. How much is April willing to pay?
The Lipstick Laws is a relatively simple story that, while a bit clichéd, still has enough witty dialogue and personality behind the main character to be a nice read. The mean girls are mean, the geeky kids are geeky, and a good amount or moral dilemma and dawning realization make this fade into the sea of YA books a bit, but not enough for me not to read it through.

April, the main character and an all-around no one, suddenly finds herself creating a lie about who she is so she can have some friends. Her best friend moved away and she capitalizes on her anonymity at school, falling in with the mean – but popular – girls and becoming more and more like them. To start off, April is very likable, but she gradually becomes exactly like the people she claims to hate. There’s a moment of predictable realization, but Amy Holder is able to keep the story fun enough with the characters snarky one-liners.

My biggest problem with the book was that April claimed to have hated the way the mean girls treated her and others, but she turned around and did the same exact thing. The starts another group – much like seemingly evil Britney Taylor’s Lipstick Laws – with the sole intent for revenge. In the end, lessons are learned and people ‘change,’ but I had a hard time swallowing April and her new friend’s schemes at revenge. At times they were funny, but then they just got to be too much and took things too far.

The Lipstick Laws
is a sometimes light, generally funny, but surprisingly deeper book that young teens could easily relate to. A lot of it felt like a young teen’s journey to find herself and where she fit in her school, with her friends, and the kind of person she wanted to be. There is mild swearing, but the story and the message is very much age-appropriate to new high school, and even older middle school, girls.

Opening line: Sitting near Darcy Madison on the school bus is enough to put anyone with woman-sprout issues over the edge. ~ pg. 1

Favorite lines: Every time I’m in Britney’s room, I immediately think of a drag queen’s dressing room. Not that I’ve ever seen a drag queen’s dressing room . . . or even know what one would look like, for that matter. But I just assume that it might look like a glitter fairy threw up pink sparkles and sequins all over it. And that’s exactly what Brit’s room looks like – a pink glitter fairy’s vomit factory. ~ pg. 52

*This is the e-ARC version and lines, pages, cover art may differ from final copy  
 *This review is my honest opinion and I received no monetary compensation from it.

Find Amy Holder online:

Buy it online:

Friday, April 22, 2011

Open Call for BEA Roomies!

I've decided to take the plunge and shell out for BEA this year. Coming along with me is Danielle from Frenzy of Noise. It's the first time for both of us and we are wicked excited.

The only problem: we have no place to stay. Actually, we have an apartment on hold right now in Brooklyn, but we'd love some more roommates to split the cost with. We're looking to spend $200-300 each (but would love to keep the number low!), so if you're interested in rooming with us, please email me at

If you already have a place for BEA, but you're looking for two more roommates, we'd love to work something out. You can email me at the same email address above. The apartment we have on hold is only ours until Tuesday, then it goes back up for grabs. 

So if you are looking for roommates, please, please, please email me!

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Book Review: Rage by Jackie Morse Kessler

Title: Rage (The Horsemen of the Apocalypse: The Rider's Quartet, #2)
Author: Jackie Morse Kessler
Reading Level: Upper YA
Publisher: Graphia (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt)
ARC, 209 pages
Date Published: April 8, 2011
Description (Taken from Goodreads):
Missy didn’t mean to cut so deep. But after the party where she was humiliated in front of practically everyone in school, who could blame her for wanting some comfort? Sure, most people don’t find comfort in the touch of a razor blade, but Missy always was . . . different.

That’s why she was chosen to become one of the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse: War. Now Missy wields a new kind of blade—a big, brutal sword that can cut down anyone and anything in her path. But it’s with this weapon in her hand that Missy learns something that could help her triumph over her own pain: control.

A unique approach to the topic of self-mutilation,
Rage is the story of a young woman who discovers her own power and refuses to be defeated by the world.
The thing I love about Jackie’s writing, is that she isn’t going to sugarcoat anything. If the story is about a bulimic girl, you’re going to know it. No, you’re going to feel it. The pain of how you look, the desperation to be just a little thinner, and the salvation that awaits with the final flush of the toilet and your entire lunch washing down the drain. The same goes here with Rage. Once again, Jackie Morse Kessler has depicted an emotional situation with raw honesty.

Missy cuts herself because it makes her feel. It gives her a high, a release like no other. Hurting herself – possibly causing her own death – makes Missy feel alive. I felt that too. As much as it disturbed me and made me want to reach out to Missy and hug her, I also understood her compulsion to dig into her skin. It is quite a feat for any author to be able to take what most consider a tough, touchy subject and make the reader one with it.

Missy’s ventures in becoming War are far different from Lisa’s experience becoming Famine. The first book piques the reader’s interest in the Four Horsemen, but Rage explores who they are and their purpose much more. Missy interacts with all of the Horsemen, and I was more than pleased with the reappearance of Pestilence. Each Horseman is completely different from the next. Their roles are all entirely unique, but the end product is the same for all of them.

Rage is harsh and sometimes bleak, but ends on a hopeful note. Much like Hunger, Rage is a haunting look into an all too common problem among teens. The paranormal aspect is almost an afterthought. The focus of the story is Missy and her cutting. Death, Pestilence, Famine, and War force Missy to examine her life and what she’s doing. And what she has to do to save herself. Jackie Morse Kessler has created another story that should not be passed up.

Opening lines: The day Melissa Miller killed her cat, she met the Angel of Death. ~ pg. 1

Favorite lines: Violence smashed through societal expectations and exposed people at the core – and at their core, they were all the same. Fury, Missy decided, made people honest. ~ pg. 76

*This is the e-ARC version and lines, pages, cover art may differ from final copy
*This review is my honest opinion and I received no monetary compensation from it.

Find Jackie Morse Kessler online:

Buy it online:
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Borders | The Book Depository | Indiebound

Don't forget to check out Jackie Morse Kessler's guest post about the horses that accompany the Horsemen of the Apocalypse.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Guest Post: Jackie Morse Kessler

Photo by Michelle Rowan
Jackie Morse Kessler grew up in Brooklyn, NY, with a cranky cat and overflowing shelves filled with dolls and books. Now she’s in Upstate NY with another cranky cat, a loving husband, two sons, and overflowing shelves filled with dragons and books (except when her sons steal her dragons). She has a bachelor’s degree in English and American Literature, and yet she’s never read any Jane Austen (with or without zombies). She also has a master’s degree in media ecology. (The living study of technology and culture. Which is cool, but she still can’t figure out how to use Tweetdeck.)

Jackie spends a lot of time writing, reading, and getting distracted by bright and shiny new ideas. (She just came up with a new idea right now.) She has a weakness for chocolate and a tendency to let her cat take over her office chair. 
I am delighted to have Jackie Morse Kessler, author of the HUNGER and RAGE, here today, as part of her blog tour. She very kindly wrote up this great guest post about the steeds (you know, that thing Donkey gets turned into in Shrek 3 - just kidding. Sort of...) that accompany the Four Horsemen (or women) of the Apocalypse.

By Jackie Morse Kessler

When I started writing HUNGER, I knew that Lisa, the anorexic protagonist, would have a black steed. Can’t be a Horseman (or Horsewoman) without a horse, after all. But what was very open was exactly what sort of role the steed would play—would it be nothing more than a car on legs? Would it be an extension of the Rider? Would it be an important supporting character? I really didn’t know. What I did know was that the horse had been in the role for a long time, and so it knew what was expected of it: bring Famine to areas of abundance and areas of need. It seemed pretty straightforward, and I could have just let the horse effectively stay in the background.

But as I wrote the book, I realized that the horse couldn’t just be a convenient means of travel for Apocalyptic Riders—at least, not in Lisa’s case. Through her interaction with her steed, she begins to discover certain truths about herself. She’s immediately drawn to the steed and even gives it a name, and she begins to trust the horse in ways that she doesn’t even trust herself. She lets the horse help her, even though she’d been pushing away others who have tried to do the same. (One of my favorite scenes in HUNGER is when Lisa and Midnight are in Egypt: first the horse fetches some fruit for her, and then Lisa finds a shop that sells pralines, which, according to Death, are the black steed’s favorite.)

The issue of trust and allowing others to help comes into play in RAGE as well. Missy is a self-injurer who’s used to bottling up her emotions and cutting when she can’t ignore those feelings any longer. As the Red Rider, she gets a warhorse — literally, the horse of War. Unlike the black steed, the red horse is not interested in working with its Rider. It’s used to displays of power, of control, and that’s the only language it first. Where Lisa was introduced to her steed, Missy had to figure out how to gentle the warhorse. She succeeds, and then she pauses to compliment the horse, tell it how magnificent it is, and she, like Lisa, names it. (Ares, after the Greek god of war. Death comments that she’s just feeding the horse’s ego.) That’s the point when I realized that until it had Missy for a Rider, the warhorse had been little more than a tool or a weapon. And until she met the warhorse, Missy was a person whose trust had been shattered; Ares helps her learn to trust again — others, and herself.

So even though I hadn’t planned it, the steeds in the Riders of the Apocalypse books reflect certain aspects of their Riders. Except, possibly, Death’s steed. :)

Wow, this is so interesting. Lisa and Missy's relationships with their Steeds is one aspect of both books that I really enjoyed. Seeing the characters grow, alongside the horses felt natural, but happened in unexpected and emotional ways. I'm really looking forward to seeing the relationship in the next book.

You can check out my review of HUNGER from earlier this year and don't forget to stop by tomorrow to read my review of of RAGE. 

Jackie's next stop is Confessions of a Bookaholic

Winner of the Mortal Instruments Series!!

 First off, I want to thank everyone who spread the word about the contest through your tweets, blog posts, sidebar links, Facebook, and any other promo. This is the biggest and most popular contest I've ever hosted and it was a huge success. Now, on to the winner!

The winner of the entire Mortal Instruments series to be SIGNED by Cassandra Clare is....


*Caroline has been notified and has 48 hours to respond before prize is donated

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Teaser Tuesday - White Cat (4/19/11)

Teaser Tuesdays is a weekly meme hosted by MizB of Should Be Reading

The Rules:
•Grab your current read
•Open to a random page
•Share two (2) or so “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page
•BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!)
•Share the title & author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers

This week's teaser comes from White Cat by Holly Black. It has a cat in both the title and on the cover. It should be perfect for me : ) Anyway, here's right from the beginning of the book that really caught my attention:
Here's the essential truth about me: I killed a girl when I was fourteen. Her name was Lila, she was my best friend, and I loved her. I killed her anyway. ~ pg. 8
Cassel comes from a family of curse workers — people who have the power to change your emotions, your memories, your luck, by the slightest touch of their hands. And since curse work is illegal, they're all mobsters, or con artists. Except for Cassel. He hasn't got the magic touch, so he's an outsider, the straight kid in a crooked family. You just have to ignore one small detail — he killed his best friend, Lila, three years ago.

Ever since, Cassel has carefully built up a façade of normalcy, blending into the crowd. But his façade starts crumbling when he starts sleepwalking, propelled into the night by terrifying dreams about a white cat that wants to tell him something. He's noticing other disturbing things, too, including the strange behavior of his two brothers. They are keeping secrets from him, caught up in a mysterious plot. As Cassel begins to suspect he's part of a huge con game, he also wonders what really happened to Lila. Could she still be alive? To find that out, Cassel will have to out-con the conmen.

Holly Black has created a gripping tale of mobsters and dark magic where a single touch can bring love — or death — and your dreams might be more real than your memories.

*Description taken from Goodreads

Monday, April 18, 2011

Book Review: Kat, Incorrigible by Stephanie Burgis

Title: Kat, Incorrigible (The Unladylike Adventures of Kat Stephenson, #1)
Author: Stephanie Burgis
Reading Level: Middle Grade
Publisher: Atheneum
e-ARC, 295 pages (Via S&S Galley Grab)
Date Published: April 5, 2011
Description (Taken from Goodreads):
Twelve-year-old Kat Stephenson may be the despair of her social-climbing Step-Mama, but she was born to be a magical Guardian and protector of Society--if she can ever find true acceptance in the secret Order that expelled her own mother. She’s ready to turn the hidebound Order of the Guardians inside-out, whether the older members like it or not. And in a society where magic is the greatest scandal of all, Kat is determined to use all her powers to help her three older siblings--saintly Elissa, practicing-witch Angeline, and hopelessly foolish Charles--find their own true loves, even if she has to turn highwayman, battle wild magic, and confront real ghosts along the way!
Kat, Incorrigible is a surprisingly wonderful middle grade read. I expected to enjoy it because I love MG books, but I didn’t think I’d love it as much as I did. Stephanie Burgis has created a character that is endearing, intelligent, funny, and strong. For a twelve year old girl, Kat sure has a lot of spunk to her. It isn’t just Kat that’s a delight to read though. Every single character serves a purpose and has his/her own personality.

Taking place in the early 1800’s, Kat, Incorrigible revolves around proper ladies, social status, and magic. The magic is key and oh so fun to read about. Kat’s will to keep her sister, Elissa, from marrying Sir Neville, a possible wife murderer, drives her to do some drastic things, but it’s all out of love. The family aspect plays a huge role and was handled perfectly. Elissa, Angeline, and Kat all love one another, but they fight as well. They’re sisters and bickering is part of that. Being around them made me long for a sister of my own.

The story isn’t exactly short, but moves very quickly. Kat’s adventures range from averting the attention of Mr. Gregson to wanting to be held up by a highwayman. Along the way, the secondary characters will either make you swoon – thank you Mr. Carlyle – or want you to punch them in the nose – I’m looking at you Sir Neville. Even the wickedly evil, yet somehow not entirely terrible, Stepmama was three-dimensional.

Kat, Incorrigible is delightful and enchanting, with a full cast of characters to entertain any reader. I felt so content when I finished it. The story came full circle and left me with a big grin on my face. I love a happy ending and the way Kat and her sisters live out their discovery about magic, their deceased mother, and even realizing their Stepmama isn’t so bad, couldn’t have made me any happier. This is the start of a series and I honestly cannot wait to see where it goes next.

Opening line: I was twelve years of age when I chopped off my hair, dressed as a boy, and set off to save my family from impending ruin. ~ pg. 1

Favorite lines: Both of my older sisters’ faces were puffy from crying. For me, Mama’s cabinet had been full of mysteries and secrets to be puzzled out, like an adventure. For them, it had been full of memories. And I had broken all of them. ~ pg. 72
*This is the e-ARC version and lines, pages, cover art may differ from final copy
*This review is my honest opinion and I received no monetary compensation from it.

Find Stephanie Burgis online:

Buy it online:

Cover Reveal: Past Perfect by Leila Sales

Leila Sales, author of the raucously hilarious Mostly Good Girls (see my review) is releasing another book this coming October. 
Past Perfect will be released October 4, 2011 by Simon Pulse. Check out the description below: 
All Chelsea wants to do this summer is hang out with her best friend, hone her talents as an ice cream connoisseur, and finally get over Ezra, the boy who broke her heart. But when Chelsea shows up for her summer job at Essex Historical Colonial Village (yes, really), it turns out Ezra's working there too. Which makes moving on and forgetting Ezra a lot more complicated...even when Chelsea starts falling for someone new.

Maybe Chelsea should have known better than to think that a historical reenactment village could help her escape her past. But with Ezra all too present, and her new crush seeming all too off limits, all Chelsea knows is that she's got a lot to figure out about love. Because those who don't learn from the past are doomed to repeat it....

Like the cover? Description? 

Sunday, April 17, 2011

In My Mailbox Vlog - (4/17/11)

In My Mailbox is a meme hosted by Kristi at The Story Siren. It is a list of any of the books you may have received in the past week from bookstores, libraries, authors/publishers, trades, etc.

This video was over 12 minutes long, but I cut out my Harry Potter ramblings, so you get my condensed, 'I got HP7' version; instead of how I liked the movie much more during the DVD viewing and how I've gone to the midnight shows for all of the movies (starting with the 3rd one) and plan on seeing the final one at the midnight show - where I'll be depressed, but excited and not know how to convey both those emotions without being a wreck. My ramblings about my book buying ban and the Wizarding World of Harry Potter also did not make the cut, but the latter will get some attention in due time.

For Review:
Robopocalypse by Daniel H. Wilson
Exposure by Therese Fowler

Like Mandarin by Kirsten Hubbard
The Naughty List (ARC) SIGNED by Suzanne Young
So Many Boys SIGNED by Suzanne Young
Invincible Summer by Hannah Moskowitz SIGNED by Suzanne Young :)

Then I Met My Sister by Christine Hurley Deriso
Through Her Eyes by Jennifer Archer - REVIEW
City of Fallen Angels by Cassandra Clare
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 1

Friday, April 15, 2011

Book Review: Favorite by Karen McQuestion

Title: Favorite
Author: Karen McQuestion
Publisher: Amazon Encore
Paperback, 162 pages
Date Published: April 1, 2011
Description (Taken from Goodreads):
Angie Favorite was just eleven years old when her mother disappeared, leaving Angie and her brother Jason to be raised by their grandmother while their rock-star father hit the road with his band. Since that day, Angie has gone through the motions of everyday life. She thinks she has everyone fooled — until the summer morning when she’s abducted from a mall parking lot. She narrowly escapes and her attacker, Scott Bittner, is arrested, but the weirdness has just begun. When Angie receives a letter from Scott’s mother, entreating her to meet so that she can apologize for her son’s actions, the girl reluctantly agrees. But it is soon obvious that Scott’s attack wasn’t random at all and that there is more to the strange Mrs. Bittner than meets the eye. In fact, she may hold the key to Angie’s mother’s disappearance. Part thriller, part coming-of-age tale, Favorite is an engrossing young-adult novel from a captivating author.
Favorite is a very, very short novel, but Karen McQuestion packs a lot into its 160 pages. The plot is interesting enough – missing mother, attacked daughter, creepy mother to the attacker being all sweet and ‘let’s get to know each other and I’ll do something to make the fact that my son attacked you and left you unconscious with a fractured skull all better’ – and Karen McQuestion knows how to ramp up the action.

The story starts off right with the attack and from there, the reader travels along with 16 year old Angel, Angie, Favorite as she muddles through what happened to her, how it relates to her mother’s disappearance five years ago, and why her attacker’s mother is so eager to make things up to her. Angie is a fun character to be around. Maybe fun isn’t the right word. She’s more…blunt and sarcastic. She doesn’t want to be around Mrs. Bittner, her attacker’s mother, and she’s not afraid to say so. Her thought process was, at times, a bit juvenile, but put in her situation, I could see myself acting the same.

Karen McQuestion drops a good deal of suspense and mystery into Angie’s story, layering years of unanswered questions into a seemingly cut and dry plotline. Most of the time, I thought I knew what was going to happen and who was responsible, but I was pleasantly surprised when I was dead wrong. I would have liked the secondary characters to be a bit more fleshed out, but they all still played their roles well. Some are caring and kind, others are total creepsters, and then there are a few who never really get the time to be anyone, but who Angie thinks they are.

If the story had been longer, more could have been done with the secondary characters, but Favorite is still well worth the read. If you’re looking for some mystery and suspense, with a nice dose of crazy, then this is the book for you.

Opening line: My dad claims to be psychic. ~ pg. 1

Favorite lines: “She feels responsible.”
“Well, so sorry about that.” I didn’t even try to hide the sarcasm. “But if she thinks this is going to be a Lifetime movie where I forgive her and we both cry and hug and make our peace with the situation, she’s got another thing coming.” ~ pg. 41
*This review is my honest opinion and I received no monetary compensation from it.

Find Karen McQuestion online:

Buy it online:

Winner of the March Dazzling Debut Giveaway

The winner of the March Dazzling Debut Prize Pack is....

*Winner has been contacted and has 48 hours to respond or an alternate winner may be chosen

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Author Interview: Jennifer Archer

Accounting Doesn’t Compute: Though accounting might seem a more sensible job than writing, for me it is no more so than my becoming a lion tamer or a World Federation Wrestler. I’m afraid of lions and intimidated by wrestlers. The same is true of numbers. Still, I plod on through a confusing maze of debits and credits.

Fast forward through a few unsatisfying jobs, running a business with my husband, and two beautiful babies. I decide to stay home and raise my kids. While doing so, the old dream awakes and nudges me. I sign up for a night class in creative writing at the local community college. Soon I’m hooked. Six years, two completed novel manuscripts, a couple of children’s book manuscripts, four or five short stories, and a big fat folder of rejection letters later, I get “the call.” I’ve sold a novel! My contemporary paranormal romantic comedy “Body and Soul.”

Living The Dream: Being a published writer continually brings more fascinating people and fun experiences into my life. Some are real, some only in my imagination…. I remind myself daily how lucky I am to be able to do work I love. And, perhaps best of all, no pantyhose are required.
*Shortened bio taken from Jennifer's website
Is it different having a YA book coming out as opposed to an adult book?
In some ways, it is a bit different. I am interacting a lot more with young people, obviously. For example, this week I’m traveling to Austin for The Texas Library Association convention where I’ll be meeting a lot of teens and talking to them about writing, reading, and books. I’m really excited about that! And I have a few school visits planned in the coming weeks. In other ways, however, the weeks following a YA book release and an adult book release are much the same – for instance, book signings and fretting! I really hope readers will enjoy the story, no matter what age group I write for.
I read the book and I have no doubt that plenty of readers will love it, regardless of age.
What were your first thoughts when you saw the cover for Through Her Eyes?
I was stunned! Because of the title, I had expected that eyes might be featured on the cover, but I never imagined that they would be so haunting and gorgeous. I really feel that the cover captures the story’s tone so well.
I agree 100%. The eyes make the cover too. It's slightly creepy, but completely gorgeous at the same time.
I love the poetry in the book. It has a creepy edge to it, but still very relevant. Is this your first time having some sort of poetry in a book?  Was it at all difficult to write?
Thank you! I’m so glad you like it. This is the first time I’ve had poetry in one of my books. Some of the poems seemed to write themselves, as crazy as that sounds! However a couple of them required quite a bit more thought and planning – the last one in the book in particular. Henry, the ghost, finally has the chance to relay his message in that poem, and I needed to make certain that it came across clearly.
I'm amazed that they practically wrote themselves because they work so well, but flow perfectly too.
Bethyl Ann ‘Stinky’ Pugh has one of the most unfortunate names out there, but she is such an endearing character. How did you come up with her name and her strange eccentricities?
I wish I could point to a specific inspiration for her name, personality and odd habits, but I can’t! Bethyl Ann’s arrival in the story came as a total surprise to me; I had not planned her when I began plotting the book. She simply showed up on her own in the first school restroom scene, almost fully formed and misquoting Shakespeare in funny ways! I’m also not really sure why the name ‘Bethyl Ann Pugh’ popped into my mind when her character came on scene. I knew that an eccentric girl like her needed an eccentric name – one that wouldn’t make her life any easier and that could contribute to her either becoming insecure or make her grow stronger in defense! Of course, with a last name like ‘Pugh’ (pronounced ‘Pew’) I knew that some of Bethyl Ann’s less-than- compassionate classmates would not be able to resist giving her a nickname like ‘Stinky.'
I loved Bethyl Ann so much! She's such a sweet and funny person. And she is one tough, grown up cookie, for a 13-year old. I wish I was as comfortable and confident as her at that age.

In a way, Through Her Eyes is a bit of a ghost story. Do you believe in ghosts? Have you ever had any paranormal experiences?
I am an open-minded skeptic about the existence of ghosts. I’ve had a couple of things happen that make me wonder. One took place when a self-professed psychic supposedly started relaying messages to me from a deceased loved one – and the messages contained information that related to me that the psychic could not have known. The second incident occurred when my son told me he had dreamed that a dead relative had walked out of his closet. No one other than myself and my husband – not even my son – knew that this relative’s ashes were stored in a box in the top of that closet.
Wow, something like that would make me believe...though I already do, at least to an extent. Sometimes I think that only those who are open to experiencing paranormal phenomena actually do. Everyone in my family believes in ghosts and things, but my dad. In fact, years ago everyone in my family saw a man walking around our house. Everyone, but my dad. Ghosts don't seem all that far-fetched considering all the other things we have in the world.

What is the craziest thing that has ever happened to you?
When I was in college, I went camping with a group of friends in Palo Duro Canyon State Park, which is nearby the university I attended – West Texas A&M in Canyon, Texas. During the night, I went behind a bush to go to the bathroom, and I stumbled and sat on a cactus. Two of my girlfriends pulled the thorns from my bare backside using a flashlight! If I hadn’t known it before, I knew then that they were true friends. We’re still good friends to this day, and I still owe them big time!
I hope you don't mind me giggling about this because I did. I could also picture the exact same thing happening to me. I hope my friends would be so kind to assist. After I got over my own humiliation, that is.
And the most important question last: What is your favorite kind of cookie?
Snickerdoodles with lots of cinnamon and sugar on top!
I hadn't realized so many people loved snickerdoodles as much as me. I could eat them all day, everyday :)

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