Monday, February 28, 2011

Timeless by Alexandra Monir

Title: Timeless
Author: Alexandra Monir
Publisher: Delacorte Books for Young Readers
Hardcover, 280 pages
Date Published: January 11, 2011
Description (Taken from Goodreads):
When tragedy strikes Michele Windsor’s world, she is forced to uproot her life and move across the country to New York City, to live with the wealthy, aristocratic grandparents she’s never met. In their old Fifth Avenue mansion filled with a century’s worth of family secrets, Michele discovers a diary that hurtles her back in time to the year 1910. There, in the midst of the glamorous Gilded Age, Michele meets the young man with striking blue eyes who has haunted her dreams all her life – a man she always wished was real, but never imagined could actually exist. And she finds herself falling for him, into an otherworldly, time-crossed romance.

Michele is soon leading a double life, struggling to balance her contemporary high school world with her escapes into the past. But when she stumbles upon a terrible discovery, she is propelled on a race through history to save the boy she loves – a quest that will determine the fate of both of their lives.
Michele Windsor’s entire life has been spent living with her mom in a rather Bohemian way. The two women are mother and daughter, but also the best of friends. When tragedy forces Michele to move in with the grandparents she has never known, all the way in NYC, her only solace becomes her possibly delusional exploits in the New York of the past. Add in a dashing young man and a long line of strong Windsor women and Michele may just discover enough about her past to impact her future.

First and foremost, Timeless is a love story. Michele’s ventures back to 1910 bring her to Philip Walker, the young man she’s dreamt about nearly her entire life and someone she almost instantly falls in love with. Once again, the insta-love thing bothered me a bit, but I was able to get past it.

The New York of 1910 is so vastly different from the NYC of 2010 and I loved that. Monir beautifully describes 1910, the roaring twenties, and then, a war torn 1944. Each trip to the past brings with it a vibrant, lifelike setting, new music that was so real I could hear it, some interesting characters, and another little piece of the puzzle of Michele’s past. While I found the love aspect a bit cheesy at times, I still enjoyed the relationship between Michele and Philip. The past ties in so well with the future and I love how the Windsor family unfolded through time.

Timeless is a romantic novel with a touch of elegance and beauty. There is mystery, there is family, and there are plenty of secrets to discover. Each trip through time was surprising and held just a sliver of the bigger picture. Michele’s family, both past and present, are engrossing, engaging, and so strong. The Windsor women will easily entertain anyone who enjoys a good story and I highly recommend this one.

Opening line:
Michele stood alone in the center of the hall of mirrors. ~ pg. 1

Favorite lines:
What was the point of loving when the people you loved were taken from you? When Death or Time were always looming and poised to strike, why did love even exist?. . . Why must we spend so much of our lives missing people instead of being with them? ~ pg. 266-267
*This review is my honest opinion and I received no monetary compensation from it.

Find Alexandra Monir online:

Buy it online:

Sunday, February 27, 2011

In My Mailbox - (2/27/11)

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.

I was away all weekend at a friend's, so no vlog this week. I'll try to do it next week and show another one of my kitty's off. 
And just a note: I officially suck at not buying books. It's like a disease and I can't find a cure. I go online and I buy. Then I wait around for the books to arrive and buy more in the mean time. I NEED to stop if I plan on continuing to pay off my student loans.
For Review:
The Cha0s (Num8ers, #2) by Rachel Ward
Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakthrough by Ruth Pennebaker

Won:
SIGNED Luminous bookmark from Dawn Metcalf

Bought:
The Iron Witch by Karen Mahoney
Hex Hall by Rachel Hawkins
Secrets & Shadows by Shannon Delany
Haven by Kristi Cook
Delirium by Lauren Oliver (My review of the ARC)

*Special thanks to Chelsy at Big Honcho Media, Tolly at PR By the Book, and Dawn Metcalf!

Saturday, February 26, 2011

The Marbury Lens by Andrew Smith

Title: The Marbury Lens
Author: Andrew Smith
Publisher: Feiwel & Friends
Hardcover, 358 pages
Date Published: November 9, 2010
Description (Taken from Goodreads):
Sixteen-year-old Jack gets drunk and is in the wrong place at the wrong time. He is kidnapped. He escapes, narrowly. The only person he tells is his best friend, Conner. When they arrive in London as planned for summer break, a stranger hands Jack a pair of glasses. Through the lenses, he sees another world called Marbury.

There is war in Marbury. It is a desolate and murderous place where Jack is responsible for the survival of two younger boys. Conner is there, too. But he’s trying to kill them.

Meanwhile, Jack is falling in love with an English girl, and afraid he’s losing his mind.
Conner tells Jack it’s going to be okay.

But, it’s not.

Andrew Smith has written his most beautiful and personal novel yet, as he explores the nightmarish outer limits of what trauma can do to our bodies and our minds.
In the past, I’ve read books, reviewed them, and said they were entirely unique; unlike anything I’ve ever read before, but The Marbury Lens truly is just that. I’m not even positive what really happened, but I liked it. I know that much.

Right off the bat, Jack gets kidnapped, but narrowly escapes. His best friend Conner wants to help him by getting back at Jack’s kidnapper, but things escalate from bad to worse. Jack and Conner attempt to carry on like all is well. They head to England as planned; Jack going a few days prior to Conner, and life appears to be okay. That is until Jack meets a man who gives him these glasses that show him another world. A world that is bleak and despairing, full of killing and death. Jack starts to lose himself in between our world and that of Marbury. The line between reality and fiction begins to blur with his every glance through the lens.

This is where things get confusing, for both Jack and me. While Smith’s writing is superb, with the stunning visuals of Marbury starkly contrasted with the real world of London, I was lost for the majority of the book. Lost in the sense that I knew what was happening, but I had no clue what it was adding up to. But I think that is exactly the point. Jack loses himself more and more and feels like he is going crazy, so that’s what the reader is supposed to feel.

Jack’s traumatic experience grips his psyche, messes with his mind, and seriously creeped me out. The real world and Marbury swirl together to show this nightmarish image of good and evil. It’s haunting, it’s eerie, it’s absolutely terrifying, but I couldn’t step away from it. I couldn’t guess what was going to happen next and when I did, I was so far off.

There’s been quite a bit of backlash surrounding this book, in regards to the language used and the character of Conner. See the thing is, the book is about a 16 year old teenage boy. This 16 year old and his best friend, well, they swear. Quite a bit. Then there’s this other thing they do, where Conner frequently calls Jack gay. Now, I’m no expert on teen boys, but my younger brothers are 16 and 14 and I know that they swear and I know that they call each other gay. And sure, calling someone gay as a joke isn’t the nicest thing, but it happens. So what if Conner calls Jack gay? That doesn’t make Andrew Smith or Conner homophobic. It makes the writing and the character more real and I’m cool with that. I like characters who I can actually imagine walking down the street.

The Marbury Lens
is twisted and sadistic, morbid and dark, but it is powerful and elegant at the same time. Andrew Smith has unleashed a monster with this one and for those of you who love a story that will haunt you, this is the right book to pick up. Not only does it delve into the hellish land of Marbury, but also the brutal landscape of our own minds and our own world. Just keep in mind that it has many dark themes and is for an older YA audience. There’s swearing, there’s sex, and there are gory scenes of death, but none of it is gratuitous or done for the shock-factor. It's done because it's right, it fits with the plot and the imagery, and the tone – I wouldn’t want it any other way.

Opening line: I guess in the old days, in other places, boys like me usually ended up twisting and kicking in the empty air beneath gallows. ~ pg. 3

Favorite lines: Henry believed that Marbury was a world out of balance.
He needs to take a closer look at this one. ~ pg. 282
*This review is my honest opinion and I received no monetary compensation from it.

Find Andrew Smith online:

Buy it online:

Friday, February 25, 2011

Author Interview: Kelly Keaton (Blog Tour)


Kelly loves ancient history, fantasy, and mythology. She dreams of one day attaining magical powers, discovering the secret to immortality, ridding her home of pet hair, and being crowned Mardi-Gras queen. She likes pre-Raphaelite art, moonlight on snow, and MMORPGs. She lives in North Carolina with her family, one Great Dane, and two incredibly hairy cats.

Kelly’s alter ego, Kelly Gay, is a 2010 double RITA finalist and a recipient of North Carolina’s Art Council fellowship grant in literature. She writes the Charlie Madigan series for Pocket Books.
*Bio taken from Kelly's website
Where did the idea for Darkness Becomes Her come from? Why did you decide to take gods and monsters and throw them together?
The idea was simply a germination of a lot of personal 'likes' (Greek mythology, strong heroines, New Orleans, misfits, magic, gods...) and wanting to bring them together. Gods and monsters together is very natural. It's mythology. And tales are full of interactions between gods, humans, and monstrous creatures. I felt that if I was going to base my own lore on Greek mythology then I wanted to take advantage of all these wonderful creatures that are part of Greek mythology, and those who might have found their beginnings at the hands of the gods.
What were your first thoughts when you saw the cover for Darkness Becomes Her?
Loved it. But originally my very first look at the cover was of something totally different than what you see now. There was a model on the front, different fonts, different colors... Then, my editor told me they scratched the idea and wanted to go for something totally different, without any model at all. I thought that was cool, to take a different approach. And I loved the result. The final cover is amazing. It's embossed. The gate shimmers. And the tree is a spot gloss design. Pictures online just don't do it justice at all. You really have to see it in person!
 I have yet to see it in person, but I must!
Is it different having a YA book coming out as opposed to an adult book?
Yes and no. It's a new genre, new market. A lot of difference on the business side of things. But at the same time the emotions are the same - similar nerves, fears, hopes, excitement. I'm enjoying the differences though. This is my first hardcover title. It's my first YA. And my first time using the Keaton name, which is a family name and very dear to me.
If you could be one, would you be a god (goddess - for proper terminology) or some kind of monster? If a monster, which one?
Oh, definitely a goddess. Immortality, powers to do most anything, no curses to worry about like needing blood or turning all hairy during a full moon!
 Goddesses are pretty awesome, right? All that power is very alluring.
Is there anything you absolutely need while writing? (Drinks, snacks, music, etc.)
Not really. As long as I have a way to get the words down, I'm good. Although, I do enjoy having my coffee and recliner. :-)
What was the last book you read?
If I Had You by Lynn Kurland. I'm a sucker for a good medieval time travel. I have read this book several times, and just adore Robin of Artane! Jamie MacLeod is probably grumbling right now -- sorry Jamie, I love you too! :D
It's fun to leave the present and explore another time. And medieval times have knights :D
 
What is the craziest thing that has ever happened to you?
Oh, wow, this is hard to answer! Seeing my book on the shelf at Barnes & Noble was pretty insane the first time. And I once backed my big ole SUV into a police cruiser. In the parking lot of the police station. :D No one saw me do it either, but I parked and walked into the station and had to tell the officers gathered there that I kind of, might of hit one of their cars. Oh, the looks I got!
I'm sure that was a fun conversation. It sounds very much like something I'd do though.
 
And the most important question last: What is your favorite kind of cookie?
My sister's homemade and wonderfully soft mint chocolate chip cookies. They are astonishingly good. At first I was skeptical of mint choc chips, but OMG. Awesome!
I'm not a fan of mint and chocolate together, but maybe if you're sister baked for me I'd change my mind.

Find Kelly Keaton online:

Buy it online:
 
Blog Tour Schedule:
  1. Larissa's Bookish Life - Guest post/Giveaway - February 18th 2011
  2. The Bookish Type - Interview/Giveaway - February 20th 2011
  3. The Book Butterfly - Interview/Giveaway - February 21st 2011
  4. Paper Cut Reviews - Interview/Giveaway - February 22nd 2011 
  5. Fantastic Book Review - Book Summary/Excerpt/Interview/Review/Giveaway - February 21st-24th 2011
  6. Dark Faerie Tales - Interview - February 23rd 2011
  7. Wicked Awesome Books - Interview - February 25th 2011
  8. Lauren's Crammed Bookshelf - Interview - February 25th 2011
  9. Girl about Books - Interview - February 26th 2011
  10. Good Choice Reading - Guest post/Giveaway - February 27th 2011
  11. Once Upon a Twilight - Top Ten/Grand-prize Giveaway - February 28th 2011

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Darkness Becomes Her by Kelly Keaton

Title: Darkness Becomes Her
Author: Kelly Keaton
Publisher: Simon Pulse
ARC, 273 pages
Date Published: February 22, 2011
Description (Taken from Goodreads):
Ari can’t help feeling lost and alone. With teal eyes and freakish silver hair that can’t be changed or destroyed, Ari has always stood out. And after growing up in foster care, she longs for some understanding of where she came from and who she is.

Her search for answers uncovers just one message from her long dead mother: Run. Ari can sense that someone, or something, is getting closer than they should. But it’s impossible to protect herself when she doesn’t know what she’s running from or why she is being pursued.

She knows only one thing: she must return to her birthplace of New 2, the lush rebuilt city of New Orleans. Upon arriving, she discovers that New 2 is very...different. Here, Ari is seemingly normal. But every creature she encounters, no matter how deadly or horrifying, is afraid of
her.

Ari won’t stop until she knows why. But some truths are too haunting, too terrifying, to ever be revealed.
Darkness Becomes Her kicks off at breakneck speed and rarely lets up throughout. Ari is this tough as nails ‘freak of nature’ (her words, not mine) that ventures into New 2 – what used to be New Orleans before two hurricanes devastated the area – to find out about who she is and who her mother was. What she finds is a world filled with paranormal creatures and a lot more about herself than she ever imagined.

Kelly Keaton’s take on all things paranormal isn’t like what you’d normally see in YA books. In fact, vampires, shape-shifters, monsters, and even gods are all living in what used to be New Orleans. There is an entire mythological/paranormal world built into the city and it thrives just as much as the moss and vines growing on the old buildings. The first half of the book is an introduction to this world, but is by no means a boring one. Ari meets more than a few interesting characters – my favorite being the young Violet – and is thrown into more than a couple of dangerous situations.

The second half of the book opens up into an onslaught of awesome, with fighting, action, and the dawning realization about what is really going on in New 2. Ari grows stronger and stronger, despite the fact that the world she has always known is nothing like the one she now resides in. There is a bit of an insta-romance, but it’s not the focus of the story at all, Ari is. And what she is means everything. Learning that was like a punch in the gut, so be prepared for some serious blows of oh my god goodness.

Darkness Becomes Her is a wickedly good read with a fresh take on the paranormal and Keaton’s vivid imagery bringing this future New Orleans to life. There is action, provided by Ari’s hard attitude and propensity for violence, expanding mythos, from several different sources of the paranormal, and even a little romance, thanks Sebastian! It was impossible to put the book down once I got going, and trust me, you won’t want to put it down. Ari drew me in, and the story, the atmosphere, and the characters, kept me riveted. I cannot believe I’m stuck waiting an entire year for the next installment.

*Just a note: There is a heavy amount of swearing, so I’d suggest this book be read by an older YA audience

Opening line: Under the cafeteria table, my right knee bounced like a jackhammer possessed. ~ pg. 1

Favorite lines: The house took my breath away. Yes, it was enormous and graceful, but it seemed to bleed emotions. Sadness. Loneliness. Like a beautiful lady left alone in a sea of gray, green, and black, protected only by oak matrons in their skeletal shawls. ~ pgs. 127-128
Is that not absolutely stunning imagery, or what?
*This is the ARC version and lines, cover art, etc. may be subject to change before official publication
 4.5
*This review is my honest opinion and I received no monetary compensation from it.

Find Kelly Keaton online:

Buy it online:

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Waiting on Wednesday (2/23/11)

 
Waiting on Wednesdays is an event hosted by Jill at Breaking the Spine. It spotlights upcoming releases we're eagerly anticipating.

Oddly enough, I have nothing to post today, so WoW it is. The following are some books that I'm excited for, but that I haven't really seen around the blogosphere. I'm hoping to help change that.


Long Lankin by Lindsey Barraclough
April 7, 2011
*Goodreads doesn't have the US version available right now

A chilling, beautiful debut novel inspired by a haunting folk song about murder, witchcraft and revenge. Beware of Long Lankin, that lives in the moss ...When Cora and her little sister Mimi are sent to stay with their elderly aunt in the isolated village of Bryers Guerdon, they receive a less than warm welcome, and are desperate to go back to London. But Auntie Ida's life was devastated the last time two young girls were at Guerdon Hall, and now her nieces' arrival has reawoken an evil that has lain waiting for years. A haunting voice in an empty room ...A strange, scarred man lurking in the graveyard ...A mysterious warning, scrawled on the walls of the abandoned church ...Along with Roger and Peter, two young village boys, Cora must uncover the horrifying truth that has held Bryers Guerdon in its dark grip for centuries - before it is too late for Mimi. Intensely atmospheric and truly compelling, this is a stunning debut.

I'm Not Her by Janet Gurtler
May 1, 2011

“For the first time in my life, I didn’t feel envy…”

Tess is the exact opposite of her beautiful, athletic sister. And that’s okay. Kristina is the sporty one, Tess is the smart one, and they each have their place. Until Kristina is diagnosed with cancer. Suddenly Tess is the center of the popular crowd, everyone eager for updates. There are senior boys flirting with her. Yet the smiles of her picture-perfect family are cracking and her sister could be dying. Now Tess has to fill a new role: the strong one. Because if she doesn’t hold it together, who will?

Janet Gurtler tests the bonds of sisterhood in this moving debut that readers of Jodi Picoult and Sarah Dessen will savor.

I'll Be There by Holly Goldberg Sloan
May 3, 2011

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.

Told from multiple perspectives, Holly Goldberg Sloan's debut novel offers readers fresh voices and a gripping story, with vivid glimpses into the lives of many unique characters. Beautifully written and emotionally profound, I'll Be There is a story about connections both big and small, and deftly explores the many ways that our lives are woven together.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Author Interview: Caitlin Kittredge

Caitlin started writing novels at age 13. Her first was a Star Wars tie-in. Fortunately, she branched out from there and after a few years trying to be a screenwriter, a comic book writer and the author of copious amounts of fanfiction, she tried to write a novel again. Her epic dark fantasy (thankfully) never saw the light of day but while she was struggling with elves and sorcerers she got the idea of writing a story about a werewolf who fought crime.

Two years and many, many drafts later, she pitched Night Life to a bevy of agents and one of them, Rachel Vater, sold the series to St. Martin’s.

Caitlin collects comic books, print books, vintage clothes, and bad habits. She loves tea, loud music, the color black (especially mixed with the color pink) and ghost stories. She can drive a stick shift, play the violin and knows more English curses than American ones.

Caitlin lives in Olympia, WA with two pushy cats.
*Bio taken from Caitlin's website
Is it different having a YA book coming out as opposed to an adult book?
Very. It's a completely new audience for me and I'm really excited to see how the book is received. I hope I did an all right job...there's a lot of me in the book and I just hope everyone loves Aoife's story as much as I do.
What were your first thoughts when you saw the cover for The Iron Thorn?
I loved it! I think my first thought was actually "Really? I get this as my cover?  Not a joke?" It's definitely one of my favorite covers for any of my books, YA or adult.
 This is easily one of my fave covers ever! I love everything about it.

I have to ask, how in the world do you pronounce Aoife?
It's an Irish name that's pronounced "Ee-fah".
Do you have a specific place where  you do your best writing?
A place with a plug for my laptop.
If you could be any paranormal creature, what would you be and why?
I'd never want to be a paranormal creature! Way too much hassle. I would, however, love to have a superpower.
 It does seem like a hassle to be a paranormal creature nowadays...superpowers seems the way to go. See that up there ? Batman is my fave superhero. Gotta represent!

If you could live in one book for a day, what would it be?
I'd never survive for 24 hours, but I'd love to live in the world of Hellboy and the BPRD (Bureau of Paranormal Research & Defense.) Fighting monsters, solving paranormal crimes, hanging out with guys like Hellboy--pretty neat!
 Um, this answer is incredible. Hanging with Hellboy and Abe sounds like a blast. A dangerous, possibly life-ending blast, but a blast.

What is the craziest thing that has ever happened to you?
I'm not sure this is exactly "crazy", but I once got lost for almost 10 hours in the Sonoran Desert when I was hiking. Certainly seemed crazy while I was trying to find my way back to the trailhead, but in the end everything worked out!
What was the last book you read?
The Marvels Project, a comic about Marvel's Golden Age superheroes like Captain America and the first Human Torch.
And the most important question last: What is your favorite kind of cookie?
Chocolate chip!
I don't know why I insist on having this question in interviews. It just makes me hungry.

*See my review for The Iron Thorn here.

Find Caitlin Kittredge online:

Buy it online:

Monday, February 21, 2011

The Iron Thorn by Caitlin Kittredge

Title: The Iron Thorn
Author: Caitlin Kittredge
Publisher: Delacorte Books for Young Readers
E-ARC, 492 pages
Date Published: February 22, 2011
Description (Taken from Goodreads):
In the city of Lovecraft, the Proctors rule and a great Engine turns below the streets, grinding any resistance to their order to dust. The necrovirus is blamed for Lovecraft's epidemic of madness, for the strange and eldritch creatures that roam the streets after dark, and for everything that the city leaders deem Heretical—born of the belief in magic and witchcraft. And for Aoife Grayson, her time is growing shorter by the day.

Aoife Grayson's family is unique, in the worst way—every one of them, including her mother and her elder brother Conrad, has gone mad on their 16th birthday. And now, a ward of the state, and one of the only female students at the School of Engines, she is trying to pretend that her fate can be different.
The Iron Thorn is my first real venture into steampunk and I have to say that I thoroughly enjoyed it. The world of Lovecraft, an alternate 1950’s Massachusetts, is all iron and machines. I could feel the cold, hard metal with each page. Caitlin Kittredge is a master at bringing this world to life and is so detailed in her storytelling that I not only read about Aoife’s journey, but I became a member of her rogue group.

Aoife herself is far from the 1950’s standard of an upstanding lady. Her brash behavior and strong demeanor makes her stand out amongst other girls, and it does not go unnoticed. Not by her best friend Cal, nor Dean, their rough and tumble guide out of Lovecraft. This possible love interest is nearly eclipsed by Aoife’s search for her wayward, and most likely mad brother, Conrad. Her need to help him propels her into a world of magic and witchcraft and things she never would have believed to be real.

The magic plays a huge role in the story and I hadn’t really expected that, though I welcomed it. Learning all the details of the past that Aoife never knew opens up so many doors and unexpected twists. I didn’t even know that one very large aspect of the story was going to come into play, though in hindsight I probably should have. Either way, I loved it. I loved getting to know Aoife, wanting to punch Cal, inching closer to Dean, and discovering an interest in the clockwork house of Graystone.

The necrovirus that lays dormant in Aoife’s blood is never forgotten about, even as she desperately tries to find her brother before the madness takes hold. Her encounter with ghouls and voices and diaries that show her images really add to this feeling of a lingering insanity. Surrounding all of this is Dean. I’m pretty sure I need to have a closet (like several other bloggers) to lock book boys in to keep forever. Dean is joining Will from Angelfire in my closet because I want him. He has a James Dean air about him with all his swagger and bravado, but he can be vulnerable too. I can’t blame Aoife for wanting to let him in.

The Iron Thorn is creepy and dark and filled with things that go bump in the night and I wouldn’t want it any other way. It’s a story full of secrets and surprises, old-fashioned ideas and language, but more so about a girl desperate to cling to the only family she ever had, despite the fact that she may be losing her mind. Long as it may be, The Iron Thorn opens up a trilogy that I plan on devouring and rereading many times in the future.

Opening lines: There are seventeen madhouses in the city of Lovecraft. I’ve visited all of them. ~ pg. 1

Favorite lines (This book is too quote-worthy, so here are a few):
“Sometimes, madness isn’t the worst of life,” Conrad told me afterward. We sat on the steps even though it was raining, looking down from the courthouse at the dense brick-lined veins of Lovecraft, where normal, usual, uninfected people lived. “Sometimes, it’s the belief that madness has a cure.” ~ pgs. 152-153

“Stories usually start true, Miss Aoife,” Dean said. “A touch of truth makes a lie worth believing.” ~ pg. 161

We fight and we bleed for this hidden world, and the world eats us alive. ~ pg. 225
*This is the ARC version and lines, cover art, etc. may be subject to change before official publication 
4.5
*This review is my honest opinion and I received no monetary compensation from it.

Find Caitlin Kittredge online:

Pre-Order it online:

Sunday, February 20, 2011

In My Mailbox Vlog - (2/20/11)

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.

I ramble a bit in this vlog, so be prepared. I also introduce you to one of my cats and proceed to make awkward cat noises at her. Sorry. I'm a crazy cat lady in training.


Goodies mentioned:
Clarity swag pack (Thanks Kim!)
Breathless Reads posters - be on the lookout for a giveaway

For Review:
Griffin Rising by Darby Karchut
The Iron Thorn by Caitlin Kittredge

Won:
Original Sin by Lisa Desrochers 

Bought: 
Angelfire by Courtney Allison Moulton
Where I Belong by Gwendolyn Heasley
Some Girls Are by Courtney Summers
Keeping You a Secret by Julie Anne Peters
Bleeding Violet by Dia Reeves

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Author Interview: Sheenah Freitas + A Giveaway

Sheenah was born on the island of Oahu, but raised in the much less tropical atmosphere of Ohio. She can’t really pinpoint the time when she decided to pursue the starving artist path of being a writer, but she suspects it may have originated sometime in elementary school when she wrote her very first (but incomplete) fanfiction.

She loves to read. Although she likes the regular mainstream book, her preference is young adult. She’s quite convinced that if she could only draw better, she might have run off to California to get into the legendary CalArts and work for Disney. Room A113 awaits her in her dreams!

Her first novel, The Chosen, was based heavily on her love of magical fantasy, anime, and adorable heroines. If she was capable, she would have made the characters sing and have the story unfold in classic animated musical Disney style — but still in book form!
*Bio taken from Sheenah's website
Where did the idea for THE CHOSEN come from?
The idea originated from a series of dreams I had back in my freshman year of high school -- October 2004 if I remember correctly. I've never had a dream like it, where I would wake up and then go to sleep the next night and the dream would pick right back up where it left off. The strange thing was, Kaia started off as a random doodle I drew before going to bed the first night. It was a very vivid dream where it started off with me as a watcher while her life in the village unfolded before my eyes and ended at the fire scene. Reeze appeared the second night and that sequence ended right before they were going to meet the priests and priestesses. The third night, I dreamed up until they started looking for Catrina and I told myself, "I have to write this down!" Unfortunately once I did, the dreams stopped and it was up to me to finish Kaia and Reeze's story.
Were there any books you drew upon for inspiration while writing?
I referenced the Harry Potter series a lot while writing. I was familiar with a lot of the mythology that I used, but I've never really read a lot of fantasy until I started writing it. J.K. Rowling has such beautiful, engaging prose that I found myself asking, "What would J.K. Rowling write here?" I was also reading a lot of Dean Koontz at the time and his similes and metaphors are just gorgeous. When I would write a simile or metaphor, I kept Dean Koontz in mind. Some of the classic literature that I had to read in school carried over into my writing, too, like THE AWAKENING by Kate Chopin and LORD OF THE FLIES by William Golding, the latter which I read on my own.
Much of THE CHOSEN takes place on the planet Zinc. Are there any particular places that you based the lush Zincian landscapes upon?
I love to go hiking. I think there's something soothing and magical about being in a forest, even if you stay on the hiking trails. There isn't a particular place that any of the landscape is built on. The landscape is more or less a collage of all the forests I've been to. The lake of Aquabella is probably heavily based on the lake near my house. I needed a reference for it, but unfortunately my lake isn't surrounded by a nice beach and forest. I did end up taking a ton of pictures while going on my hiking trips to make sure I got lighting right, and ideas for how dense the forest should be. Winlim, I must confess, is my interpretation of Diagon Alley. Orlioz is based on the villages and towns back in the Renaissance/Colonial era. I had a chance to go to a Colonial fair, so it was easy for me to build how the people would interact and get a good grasp on the sights and smells one would find in the marketplace. My trip to the local Farmer's Market helped with that too.
Have you always wanted to be a writer? Is THE CHOSEN the first novel you've written?
I haven't always wanted to be a writer, but writing was my first dream. After I wanted to be writer, I think I went on to say that I wanted to be things like an astrologist, a marine biologist, a chemist, a doctor, etc. After I failed chemistry and found that I really didn't enjoy it after all, my dad suggested that I pursue writing since I've always enjoyed it. While I was in high school, I had been training myself to be a pharmacist or a doctor by taking the appropriate courses that would help me later. With only one year of high school left, I took my dad's advice and signed up for creative writing and really became serious about writing THE CHOSEN. It actually is my first novel that I've finished and I've learned so much. Best of all, I enjoyed writing it!
What would you say are your favorite books or books that you constantly recommend to others?
I haven't found a children's/YA book that's been able to replace Harry Potter yet. I really like BEASTLY by Alex Flinn. Beauty and the Beast is my favorite movie, and I think Alex Flinn did a wonderful modern take on the tale (I can't wait for the movie). There's a children's book that my school librarian recommend I read when I was in elementary (she knew I loved to read) and I fell in love with it from the start; the book really left a big impression on me. Unfortunately I haven't been able to find it in bookstores yet, it's called WHEN MY NAME WAS KEOKO by Linda Sue Park and it's about the Japanese occupation in Korea during WWII. As for non-YA books, I highly recommend THE GARGOYLE by Andrew Davidson and MEMOIRS OF A GEISHA by Arthur Golden.
Will there be a sequel to THE CHOSEN? Do you have anything in the works for the future?
I'm actually working on the sequel to THE CHOSEN and the title is currently called THE NUMBER. I'm super excited about it. As for other works, I would really love to start on a historical fiction that takes place in WWII. I'm also planning to write a urban fantasy, which is already partially written.
And for those who don't know, would you care to explain what a Neek is?
A Neek is someone who is neither geek or nerd. They're something in between. That term is coined by my dad when he asked my brother and I what we consider ourselves. We knew we were something in between a geek and nerd and we tried to combine the term into one word and came up with something like gerd. So my dad said, "What about neek?" And it kind of stuck.
*All photos link back to sources
 
And for a giveaway:
I'm giving my gently read copy of THE CHOSEN away and Sheenah has kindly offered up some THE CHOSEN-themed bookmarks and notebook.

Open to US Only
Must be 13 or older to enter
Normal contest policy applies
Fill out THE FORM to enter
Ends March 6th



Friday, February 18, 2011

Author Interview: Kristi Cook

As a child, Kristi Cook took her nose out of a book only long enough to take a ballet class (or five) each week. Not much has changed since then, except she’s added motherhood to the mix and enjoys penning her own novels as much as reading everybody else’s. A transplanted southern gal, Kristi lives in New York City with her husband and two daughters.
*Bio taken from Kristi's website
When did it hit you that you're going to be a published author and other people will be able to walk into a bookstore and buy your book?
Ask me again on Feb. 22nd, LOL!  I think I need to actually *see* it on the shelves first! 
What were your first thoughts when you saw the cover for Haven?
I was blown away!  It was pretty much exactly the kind of cover I was hoping for--more abstract, and a little bit Twilight-like in that it felt eye-catching and intriguing without really giving anything away, if that makes any sense.  Plus, the color palette felt "right" for the story, and I loved the title font (yes, I am a geek when it comes to fonts--I can spend hours on font sites...it's a sickness, I know!). 
I couldn't agree more - it's an eye-catcher

Did you create a playlist while writing Haven?
Not a playlist, per se, but there were some songs that I listened to on loop while I was writing--a very, very odd mix of songs. Bittersweet Symphony by the Verve.  Rachmaninoff's Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini.  Even the Star Trek movie soundtrack! 
Ooh, an eclectic group of music. Can't go wrong with Bittersweet Symphony either.
 
Would you like to be psychic or would you like to have some other paranormal power?
There's a character in HAVEN whose pyschic gift is being able to astrally project, and I'd love to have that ability.  When I was eleven or twelve, I read Lois Duncan's STRANGER WITH MY FACE about astral projection, and the whole concept totally fascinated me.  I vividly remember lying in bed and trying to do it--too bad it didn't work!
Do you have a favorite book-to-movie adaptation? Any books that you’re dying to see turned into movies?
My all-time favorite book is also my all-time favorite movie--GONE WITH THE WIND.  Probably the Georgia girl in me (I was born in Warner Robins, GA, and spent a decent bit of my growing up years in metro Atlanta).  My second favorite would probably be the entire HARRY POTTER series.  Right now, I'm just dying to see the movie adaptation of HUNGER GAMES!!  Can't wait!  I just hope they cast it well. 
What was the last book you read?
ANNA AND THE FRENCH KISS by Stephanie Perkins, and I absolutely loved it!!  Easily one of my top-three favorite reads of 2010.  Still can't quite get Etienne St. Clair out of my head!
What is the craziest thing that has ever happened to you?
The craziest thing was probably a series of *two* crazy things--first, I got accepted into the FBI, and was set to begin training at Quantico. Then, I found out I had a brain tumor, and instead of going to Quantico, I had brain surgery.  Yeah, good times.
Wow, that is beyond crazy. Thank goodness it was caught and you're healthy now.
 
And the most important question last: What is your favorite kind of cookie?
At the risk of sounding really, really lame...I love a good oatmeal raisin cookie!
Oatmeal raisin cookies are awesome!

Find Kristi Cook online:

Pre-order Haven online:

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