Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Book Review: Griffin Rising by Darby Karchut

Title: Griffin Rising
Author: Darby Karchut
Reading Level: Young Adult
Publisher: Twilight Times Books
ARC, 169 pages
Date Published: June 28, 2011
Description (Taken from Goodreads): 
Griffin Rising is an urban fantasy about an apprentice angel and his coming of age under the tutelage of a father-like mentor. As one of the mysterious Terrae Angeli, Griffin secretly navigates life among humans while preparing for the trial-by-combat every apprentice must pass or become mortal.

Griffin Rising is a short and fast read with a new take on angel lore. Griffin, a Tiro, or apprentice, finds himself facing down the trial that will either lead to him continuing on as a guardian angel or stripping him of the life he’s known and turning him human. Darby Karchut quickly makes Griffin a character to root for. His rough past and the abuse he’s suffered made me immediately care for him. His new mentor, Basil, comes off as very fatherly and sweet. The father/son relationship that Basil and Griffin share is the backbone of the story, making it more coming-of-age than paranormal. And I’m okay with that.

Tidbits about the Terrae Angeli – earth angels – are dropped in along Griffin’s journey to discover who he is and what his existence means. It’s a joy to see a boy who has suffered far too much grow into a strong, confident, and driven young man. Griffin’s happiness gives the story a great deal of heart and had me smiling nearly the entire time I was reading it. Katie, Griffin’s new girlfriend, is a sweetheart. The two of them embody the magic of first loves.

The opening of Griffin Rising sets up the story, but seeing it all play out is an experience not to be missed. There’s character growth, good-natured joking, some life-saving actions (along with a little flying), and a bad guy that I desperately wanted to punch in the face . . . then drop in a puddle of mud. Griffin's, Basil's, and Katie's journal entries also serve as a great view into their thoughts, both about one another and about their current lives. I was particularly taken by Griffin's and Basil's reactions to their early times together.

Darby Karchut’s debut is fantastic, fast-paced, and humorous. Griffin Rising is easy to relate to, hard not to enjoy, and the perfect read for a lazy summer afternoon. If you’re looking for an adventure with a boy you have to cheer for, this is the book to pick up!

Opening line (from chapter one):
Griffin gasped as he stumbled along, desperate to keep on his feet as Nicopolis dragged him up the sweeping driveway. ~ pg. 11

Favorite lines: I reminded him that free will, the ability to choose for oneself, can be a burden as well as a gift.
Because some choices will break your heart. ~ pg. 58

*This is the 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 Darby Karchut online:
Website | Blog | Twitter

Buy it online:

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

New (Awesome) Final Cover for Skyship Academy: The Pearl Wars by Nick James!

Skyship Academy: The Pearl Wars has a new and much improved cover! Before it was just ugh, but not it's eye-catching and awesome and has incredible coloring! Agree?

You know you do, so don't try to deny it.

Here's a description to whet your appetite:

"A definite must-read!"
—JAMES DASHNER, New York Times bestselling author of The Maze Runner
A devastated Earth’s last hope is found in Pearls: small, mysterious orbs that fall from space, and are capable of supplying enough energy to power entire cities. Battling to control the Pearls are the Skyship dwellers—political dissidents who live in massive ships in the Earth’s stratosphere—and the corrupt Surface government.

Jesse Fisher, a Skyship brat, and Cassius Stevenson, a young Surface operative, cross paths when they both venture into forbidden territory in pursuit of Pearls. Their chance encounter triggers an unexpected reaction, endowing each boy with remarkable—and dangerous—abilities that their respective governments would stop at nothing to possess. Enemies thrust together with a common goal, Jesse and Cassius make their way to the ruins of Seattle to uncover the truth about their new powers, the past they didn’t know they shared, and a shocking secret about the Pearls.

*Description taken from Goodreads

Skyship Academy: The Pearl Wars comes out September 8, 2011 from Flux - Go add it on Goodreads!

Find Nick James online:
Pre-Order it online:

Monday, June 27, 2011

Book Review: Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs

Title: Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children
Author: Ransom Riggs
Reading Level: Young Adult
Publisher: Quirk Books
Hardcover, 349 pages
Date Published: June 7, 2011
Description (Taken from Goodreads): 
A mysterious island. An abandoned orphanage. And a strange collection of very curious photographs. It all waits to be discovered in Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children, an unforgettable novel that mixes fiction and photography in a thrilling reading experience. As our story opens, a horrific family tragedy sets sixteen-year-old Jacob journeying to a remote island off the coast of Wales, where he discovers the crumbling ruins of Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children. As Jacob explores its abandoned bedrooms and hallways, it becomes clear that the children who once lived here—one of whom was his own grandfather—were more than just peculiar. They may have been dangerous. They may have been quarantined on a desolate island for good reason. And somehow—impossible though it seems—they may still be alive.

A spine-tingling fantasy illustrated with haunting vintage photography, Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children will delight adults, teens, and anyone who relishes an adventure in the shadows.
Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children is one of those books that is completely unexpected and almost swathed in mystery. I had only the slightest clue what it would be about, but was thoroughly absorbed the moment I began. Jacob is a sixteen year old loner – not by choice – who spends a great deal of his time with his Grandpa, Abraham Portman; a man who escaped nazi-invested Poland as a child and moved into a peculiar home off the coast of Wales. Grandpa Portman claims the home was full of peculiar children with special gifts, but Jacob lost faith in that story years ago.

After Grandpa Portman’s death, at the hands of what Jacob thinks is a monster, he ventures – with his father – to the island where the home stands. This is when things start to get better and better. The sense of mystery, and even a little trepidation, jumps off the page. Jacob isn’t sure if he’s just a little crazy or if he should believe the stories his grandfather told him. He flips between the two thoughts and being a part of his uncertainty creates an eeriness. I never knew what to expect or what was going to happen. Each detail is revealed slowly and with care. Learning more about Jacob’s grandpa unravels the mystery about the island and the children, but also about the person that Abraham Portman once was.

The photos that go along with the peculiar children are creepy and help to bring the story to life. Ransom Riggs has this descriptive writing style that vividly introduces the island of Cairnholm and makes it a character all on its own. I don’t want to give anything away because Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children is a book that screams ‘read me.’ Like its title, it is a peculiar book, full of peculiar children, and peculiar happenings, but it is also a daring and imaginative story that will captivate the reader and fully immerse you in the dreary, rainy world of Cairnholm.

Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children is part character driven, part historical foray, and part paranormal mystery, but completely fascinating and beyond interesting. Ransom Riggs has tied two forms of art together to create quite the story. It is the perfect balance of creepy and coming of age; meaning, it may give you nightmares, but it will also make you smile. Any book that can do that cannot be bad.

Opening line: I had just come to accept that my life would be ordinary when extraordinary things began to happen. ~ pg. 8

Favorite lines/passages: When I was a kid, Grandpa Portman’s fantastic stories meant it was possible to live a magical life. Even after I stopped believing them, there was still something magical about my grandfather. To have endured all the horrors he did, to have seen the worst of humanity and have your life made unrecognizable by it, to come out of all that the honorable and good and brave person I knew him to be – that was magical. ~ pg. 88
Definitely a 4.5
*This review is my honest opinion and I received no monetary compensation from it.

You're going to want to check out Ransom Riggs' blog because there's a really interesting video that has to do with the book. It's incredible!

Find Ransom Riggs online:
Buy it online:

Sunday, June 26, 2011

In My Mailbox Vlog - (6/26/11)

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.

Not much this week, but I was getting a bit rambly. I cut a ton out, so as not to bore you guys :)


Bought:
Hourglass by Myra McEntire

Won (from Random Buzzers):
Welcome to Bordertown edited by Holly Black & Ellen Kushner

Goodies:
Solstice trading cards from P.J. Hoover
Disney*Hyperion playing cards, The Near Witch bookmarks and pins from Victoria Schwab

*HUGE thanks to Candace for her recommendation, Random Buzzers, P.J. Hoover, and Victoria Schwab!

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Winners of Alice Bliss!

The winners of Alice Bliss by Laura Harrington are...

Leslie G

&

Thao Huynh from The Neverending Recipes

*Winners have been emailed and have 48 hours to respond or alternate winners may be chosen

Friday, June 24, 2011

- CLOSED - June Dazzling Debuts Giveaway

Description (Taken from Goodreads): 
Eighteen year-old Evan and his best friend, Davis, get beaten up for being loners. For being gay. For just being themselves. But as rough as things often seem, at least Evan can take comfort in his sweet, sexy boyfriend Erik--whom he’s kept secret from everyone for almost a year.

Then Evan and Davis are recruited to join the Chasers, a fringe crowd that promises them protection and status. Davis is swept up in the excitement, but Evan is caught between his loyalty to Davis and his love for Erik. Evan’s lied to keep his two worlds separate. Now his lies are about to implode…and destroy the very relationships he’s been trying to protect.
Brian Farrey has kindly offered up a SIGNED copy of With or Without You as part of June's Dazzling Debut giveaway. Along with the book, I'm giving away the awesome swag pack pictured below.
Now to enter:
Open to US only
You do NOT need to be a follower to enter
Normal Contest Policy applies
Fill out THE FORM to enter


Thursday, June 23, 2011

Author Interview: Brian Farrey

Things That May Interest You (or possibly not):
  1. When I want to relax, I put Kate Rusby on my iPod. I own all her albums.
  2. I’m a lifelong DOCTOR WHO fan, including “classic” WHO and the recent reboot of the show. I can hold my own in a WHO trivia contest.
  3. I was once a TV addict and watched more daily TV than is probably healthy. Now, I’m down to only a couple hours a week, if that much.
  4. As a result of #3, there was a time when I could tell you the synopsis of any episode of GILLIGAN’S ISLAND based on the opening ten seconds of video (even if it’s just an opening shot of the lagoon). I haven’t tested this skill lately to make sure it holds true but I suspect it does. The jury’s still out on whether or not I should be proud of this fact.
  5. I love to cook. I bake a lot but I also like to experiment with main courses and whenever possible, I use homemade pasta over store bought.
  6. I love to bike. I once took a solo bike trip around Scotland, starting in Edinburgh, going to Glasgow, then Gourock, ferry to Dunoon, then Portavadie, ferry to Tarbert, up to Oban, over to Fort William, then on to Fort Augustus along the Great Glen Way, then on to Inverness and a train back to Edinburgh. Amazing experience.
  7. I also sorta love Scotland. Actually, all things British. But Scotland has a special place in my heart.
  8. I was born in the middle of a terrible thunderstorm, complete with tornadoes and power outages. To this day, every year on my birthday, no matter where I am, it rains. It’s not always a storm. It doesn’t even necessarily rain all day. But I can rely on the fact that at some point during my birthday, it will rain.
  9. I’m just gonna come clean. I’m slightly more than a “lifelong DOCTOR WHO fan.” It’s a borderline obsession. Please don’t get me started.
*Fun facts taken from Brian's website
What were your first thoughts when you saw the cover for With or Without You?
You want to know the funny thing?  I had never considered windows.  They’re so central to the book’s imagery but when Pulse asked me for cover ideas, the thought of windows never crossed my mind.  The suggestions I made were incredibly bad.  I think a lot of writers try to visualize what their cover would look like but I could never get a clear picture in my mind for this book. So when I saw the cover, I thought, “Perfect.”
I love when book covers are perfect for a story. When they not only look fantastic, but relate completely and that's what this one does. I ADORE it!
 
The book tackles a very - sorry, but I have to use the word – a controversial issue of gay teens chasing after HIV as a sort of status symbol, but I never felt like that was the driving force of the plot. Evan growing up, growing into himself, and deciding who he was felt much more important to me. Did Evan and the other characters come to you first or were they built around the Chasers?
Evan came first. The Chasers, the HIV angle…. None of that was anywhere in my imagination when I wrote the first few chapters of the book.  When I wrote this book, I was in an MFA program and learning about my artistic process. The book came of an experiment to start writing without any idea where I was going.  The very first draft was full of happy accidents.  I would get stuck as to where to go, then I’d write something—anything—to keep going and suddenly the story went off in a new direction.  The introduction of the Chasers was me going “What if….” when I got stuck. A lot of material from that first draft got cut but the Chasers stayed.  At one point, I thought the book would be all about them. Then Erik came along and that story took pole position in my mind.
It's kind of crazy how some stories veer off and take on a life of their own. I'm happy that Erik showed up though, because I love him, want to hug him, and think he helps to make Evan a better person :)
 
Source
Both Evan and Erik have very artistic natures. Are you painter or sculptor yourself? If not, where did the artistry come from in the book?
I have zero—no, quite possibly less than zero—skill when it comes to visual arts. Can’t draw, can’t paint, can’t sculpt.  I spoke to several artist friends to get their perspective and had them read bits to see if they felt real from a visual artist perspective.
Haha, well those artist friends must have been very helpful. I'm lacking in all kinds of visual arts skill as well, so I knew nothing prior to reading With or Without You. I wish I knew more artistically skilled people like Evan because I would love for someone to paint me a window pane.

Source
If you could live in one book for a day, what would it be?
I really love the imagination of Jasper Fforde’s Thursday Next books. That world can be incredibly dangerous but, man, it also seems like a ton of fun.
I've never read this, but I've been wanting to read Shades of Grey. I guess I'll have to check out the Thursday Next series too now.
 
Source
I don’t watch Doctor Who (I bought the dvds and will start soon!) but since you do, who is your favorite Doctor? Any particular reason why?
Would you ask a mother which is her favorite child?  OK, that’s a bad correlation because I didn’t create DOCTOR WHO so I don’t have to choose between my children. But it’s still difficult. Fact is, I love all the Doctors.  A lot.  The closest I can come to an answer for you is this: WHO fans tend to agree that you always remember your first Doctor. And my first Doctor was Peter Davison (the fifth Doctor).  He was flying the TARDIS at a very critical point in my adolescent development so I tend to look back on his adventures very fondly.
It's like picking a favorite child? Wow, I really do need to get started on my dvds if it incites that kind of devotion! 
 
The song “Hard” by Gregory Douglass pops up a few times throughout the book. Were there other songs that played into your writing? Did you create a playlist for the book?
I don’t listen to music as I write but I’ll often listen to it when I’m getting ready to write. TEETER, the Gregory Douglass album on which “Hard” appears, was my music of choice while writing WITH OR WITHOUT YOU.  The two are always linked in my head. (I thought about suggesting “Hard” as the title of the book but I knew my publisher would never go for it.)
I LOVE "Hard." I hadn't heard of it until I read the book, then looked it up, and haven't been able to stop listening to it. I can see how Teeter fits with the book too. It has the right feel for everything.
 

What is the craziest thing that has ever happened to you?
When I was eleven, my aunt’s dog bit my upper lip off. Well, not completely off. It was hanging there.  Took a plastic surgeon to put me back together again. He did a great job. I only have the tiniest scar to show for it.
I've had some crazy answers from authors on this question before, but this one is pretty high up there. I was attacked by a dog when I was little, but not to the point that I needed any sort of plastic surgery. Yay for the plastic surgeon who put you back together! Wonderful job, indeed.
Source
And the most important question last: What is your favorite kind of cookie?
If you’re talking store-bought, it’s a tie between Nutter Butter and Double Stuff Golden Oreos. If you’re talking homebaked, it’s gotta be chocolate drop cookies from my mom’s recipe.  Personally, I make a mean chocolate chip that a friend’s father once dubbed “boyfriend-gettin’ cookies.” 
I want to hug your friend's father. "Boyfriend-gettin' cookies" is awesome! Those must bee some out-of-this-world chocolate chip cookies.

For more on With or Without You, you can read my review and check back tomorrow for a giveaway!

Find Brian Farrey online:

Buy it online:

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Book Review: With Or Without You by Brian Farrey

Title: With Or Without You
Author: Brian Farrey
Reading Level: Older Young Adult
Publisher: Simon Pulse
ARC, 352 pages
Date Published: May 24, 2011
Description (Taken from Goodreads): 
Eighteen year-old Evan and his best friend, Davis, get beaten up for being loners. For being gay. For just being themselves. But as rough as things often seem, at least Evan can take comfort in his sweet, sexy boyfriend Erik--whom he’s kept secret from everyone for almost a year.

Then Evan and Davis are recruited to join the Chasers, a fringe crowd that promises them protection and status. Davis is swept up in the excitement, but Evan is caught between his loyalty to Davis and his love for Erik. Evan’s lied to keep his two worlds separate. Now his lies are about to implode…and destroy the very relationships he’s been trying to protect.
With or Without You is a character-driven, harsh, stunning, but beautiful story about a young man caught between the two worlds he’s tried to keep separate.  The title actually sums up the book perfectly. Except not really, because Brian Farrey’s storytelling and character development are incredible. Evan, an 18 year old senior, has all the problems a guy his age should have, but then he has to contend with the gay-bashing he experiences on a regular basis. Because, yeah, he’s gay. But he’s not just gay. He’s an artist – painter – a best friend, a son, a brother, and a boyfriend. He’s all these things, but he still has no clue who he is.

He’s gay, but it’s only one aspect of who he is. Because throughout these few months in his life, Evan tries to contend with the two parts of his life – the part that is madly in love with a great guy named Erik, and the part that still hasn’t told anyone about Erik. He’s young, he’s scared of the love he doesn’t think can last, but he’s still this beyond-words caring person. Evan is one of the most realistic characters I’ve ever read. His emotions are raw and honest, and he felt as real to me as my own brother is.

Evan’s best friend Davis is everything Evan is not. He’s angry and bitter and willing to go to any length to fit in. He wants acceptance, while Evan just wants to get out. When Davis gets mixed up with Chasers, a group of gay young men who look at contracting HIV as a gift, Evan refuses to let him go. This aspect of the story, while integral and important, is not the driving force of the plot; Evan is. His painting – window panes are his canvas – is as important to the story as any other aspect. Evan’s relationships, with his parents, his sister, Davis (who is only his best friend), and with Erik evolve throughout the pages. He grows into a much stronger character by the end.

And every single character grows along with him. For better or worse, they develop, they grow, and by the end, they are different people; some only slightly, but others irrevocably altered.

With or Without You is a coming of age story, that just happens to have gay characters. Not once will it try to beat meaning into your head. It is what it is and each reader will come away with a different feeling by its close. But one thing is for sure, With or Without You is about finding out who you are, outside of the person people are telling you to be, and outside of the person you think you’re expected to be. It’s emotional and brutally honest, but the reality it represents is what will captivate readers, just as it did for me.

Opening lines: Chapter title – Rules
Hit the ground.
     Curl into a ball.
     Cover your head.
     Don’t cry. Ever.
~ pg. 1

Favorite lines/passages (I wanted to include all of them, but settled for this one):
“Why don’t you paint people?”
Explaining this has always been difficult.
“When you paint somebody,” I said slowly, “you suspend them in a single moment. I guess I’m waiting for the right moment. That defining instant that changes everything. So the image in the picture is the last time you’ll ever see that version of that person again.”
~ pg. 202
*This is the 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 Brian Farrey online:


Buy it online:

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Teaser Tuesday - Theodosia and the Last Pharaoh (6/21/11)

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 book #4 in the Theodosia Throckmorton series, Theodosia and the Last Pharaoh, by R.L. Lafevers. I've been a fan of this series since I read the first one and fell in love with this precocious and determined 11 year old and all the ancient Egyptian messes she falls into.
Even though I had been here once before, my heart beat faster and I felt tingly all over. Four thousand years ago, ancient Egyptians had worked in here, creating these carvings and fashioning this majestic sarcophagus. I held myself very still and closed my eyes, wondering if perhaps I could hear the echo of their ancient voices, feel the scrape of their ancient tools. ~ pg. 124
*This is the e-ARC version and lines, pages, cover art may differ from final copy

In this fourth book in the series, Theodosia sets off to Egypt to return the Emerald Tablet—embedded with the knowledge of some of the ancient world’s most guarded secrets. Accompanied by her cat, Isis (smuggled along in a basket), Theo plans to return the artifact, then explore the mysteries surrounding her own birth and oh, yes— help her mother dig up treasures on her archeological expedition.
But nothing ever works out as planned, especially when a precious treasure appears suddenly, and then just as suddenly disappears . . .

When the Serpents of Chaos get involved, Theo finds she’s digging up a lot more than she expected!
 
*Description taken from Goodreads

Monday, June 20, 2011

Book Review: Forgotten by Cat Patrick

Title: Forgotten
Author: Cat Patrick
Reading Level: Young Adult
Publisher: Little, Brown
ARC, 288 pages
Date Published: June 7, 2011
Description (Taken from Goodreads):
What if every day when you woke up, you had no recollection of the days before?

Each night when 16 year-old London Lane goes to sleep, her whole world disappears. In the morning, all that's left is a note telling her about a day she can't remember. The whole scenario doesn't exactly make high school or dating that hot guy whose name she can't seem to recall any easier. But when London starts experiencing disturbing visions she can't make sense of, she realizes it's time to learn a little more about the past she keeps forgetting-before it destroys her future.

Part psychological drama, part romance, and part mystery, this thought-provoking novel will inspire readers to consider the what-if's in their own lives and recognize the power they have to control their destinies.
Forgotten explores an almost backwards memory situation with London Lane remembering the future, but never the past. The only people she recognizes are those who are in her future, those she’ll see tomorrow or the day after that, or who she’ll encounter years down the road. This can be slightly confusing at first, but gets easier to understand as the plot progresses. As great as it may sound to remember the future, it’s not. London is faced with knowing how relationships turn out, how each person she comes across will impact her life, and how the gorgeous Luke Henry – a new student who is kind and friendly to London – is not someone she remembers from her future.

London is easy-going, despite her recall issues, but can also be a little self-absorbed. Her voice is strong, somewhat sarcastic at times, and good-natured, but she acts a bit snooty towards her mother and can come off as a little abrasive. She can’t remember the past, so it’s understandable that she’d have some day to day anger. She has to prep for school each day by reading notes she wrote the day before. The only people who know about her problem are her mom and best friend Jamie. It’s a tough situation, only made more complicated by her recurring nightmare of a funeral that reveals more and more each time she has it. The nightmare pops up the same time that Luke Henry shows, adding to the mystery of what’s really going on.

One of the things I loved about Forgotten was that London’s mother was there, she was active, and she was a participant (despite London not really wanting her to be, at times) in London’s life. Jamie, London’s best friend, was also a great aspect, at least in the beginning. After London’s and Jamie’s falling out, Jamie becomes very unlikable, but it’s a testament to London’s character that she refuses to give up. Watching London forge on, without her best friend but with the knowledge of how things pan out, is surprising and very inspiring. It demonstrates how powerful friendship and loyalty are to her. It shows that London is a caring person who values everything and everyone in her life.

Forgotten is a quick, unputdownable read. The premise is gripping and though-provoking, with glimpses into morality and right and wrong. London’s entire existence is based upon what information she allows herself to know, meaning: London’s world is unreliable. She can lie to herself and change her perception of her life and her relationships. And she does just that. It makes for an interesting and captivating read. Add a sweet and then sizzling romance, along with a memory mystery, and you’ve got yourself a fantastically intriguing and unforgettable (pun totally intended) read.

Opening line:
Aren’t Fridays supposed to be good? ~ pg. 3

Favorite lines/passages: Funny how possibility can lift you. Funny how reality can slam you down. ~ pg. 15
*This is the ARC version and lines, pages, cover art may differ from final copy
4.5
*This review is my honest opinion and I received no monetary compensation from it.

Find Cat Patrick online:

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


Little, Brown & Big Honcho Media has kindly offered up the following giveaway:
Keep favorite memories near with this Forgotten prize pack!
A Digital Photo Keychain and a copy of Forgotten

Some info before entering:
Open to US only
You do NOT need to be a follower to enter
Normal Contest Policy applies

Fill out THE FORM to enter
Ends June 30th

GIVEAWAY HAS ENDED

Sunday, June 19, 2011

In My Mailbox - (6/19/11)

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.

First off, HAPPY FATHER'S DAY! I hope all the dads out there are enjoying themselves :)
Now for the books...
I was going to do a vlog this week, but then my brother got me sick and I have no voice, so a picture will have to suffice. I haven't really bought many books in the past few months, so when I walked into a Building 19 - I didn't even know what this store sold - to meet someone for work to get their paperwork and saw books, I had to make a detour. Five books for $13 is a good deal to me. One that I could not pass up. Then I went to Scholastic's This Is Teen event with Libba Bray, Maggie Stiefvater, and Meg Cabot and had to get a couple of books there too. Be on the lookout for a signed Wolves of Mercy Falls set giveaway sometime in the future!
Bought:
Betti on a High Wire by Lisa Railsback
Gone by Lisa McMann
Sea by Heidi R. Kling
Wolves, Boys, & Other Things That Might Kill Me by Kristen Chandler
The Game by Monica Hughes
Going Bovine SIGNED (at This Is Teen Event) by Libba Bray
Linger SIGNED (at This Is Teen Event) by Maggie Stiefvater

Won:
The Summer I Learned by Fly by Dana Reinhardt

Friday, June 17, 2011

Winners of Beauty Queens

The winners of Beauty Queens by Libba Bray are....


&

*Winners have been notified and have 48 hours to respond or alternate winners may be chosen

Book Review: Anna and the French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins

Title: Anna and the French Kiss
Author: Stephanie Perkins
Reading Level: Young Adult
Publisher: Dutton (Penguin)
Hardcover, 372 pages
Date Published: December 2, 2010
Description (Taken from Goodreads): 
Anna is looking forward to her senior year in Atlanta, where she has a great job, a loyal best friend, and a crush on the verge of becoming more. Which is why she is less than thrilled about being shipped off to boarding school in Paris—until she meets Étienne St. Claire: perfect, Parisian (and English and American, which makes for a swoon-worthy accent), and utterly irresistible. The only problem is that he's taken, and Anna might be, too, if anything comes of her almost-relationship back home.

As winter melts into spring, will a year of romantic near-misses end with the French kiss Anna—and readers—have long awaited?
Words cannot explain my crazy love for Anna and the French Kiss. The story is simple: girl gets shipped off to boarding school in France, makes new friend, meets a hot guy, and falls in lust with him. But there is so much more to it. The characters become real in the course of the 372 pages, as does the incredible Paris setting. I’ve never been to Paris myself, but after reading this, it’s as if I’ve seen the sights, smelled the city, and tasted the food. Stephanie Perkins brings that much life to Anna’s Paris.

And to Anna as well. This is one girl I could not only relate to, but who I wholeheartedly loved. I adore Anna. She’s funny, insecure, hilarious, flawed, angry, happy, sad, hormonal (obviously, as I list her emotions here…), and a teen girl. She’s a character that could easily be any girl I pass on the street. Oh, and I love her. I love Étienne St. Clair too, because I couldn’t leave him out. He’s as realistic as Anna, with is insecurities, his sweet gestures, and stupid actions. And his British accent and all-around gorgeousness.  That’s the reason that Anna and the French Kiss is so easy to enjoy (not the gorgeousness, but a plus!); it’s the characters. The characters, both big and small – no offense to the short Étienne – are developed so thoroughly that they all leap off the page.

The relationships between Anna and Étienne, between Étienne and Josh, between Anna and Meredith (I could go on, but I’ll stop) all evolve throughout the book. Perkins’ witty humor comes out on every page and the dialogue is sharp and quick. The book is cute, I can’t lie about that, but it’s not 'ooey-gooey, poke-out-your-eyeballs' cute. This is ‘melt into a puddle, I-want-to-live-in-you-forever,’ kind of cute. It’s a love story that doesn’t just focus on the love. There’s tension between Anna and Étienne – and it’s some yummy tension – but they start as friends and build from there. Not only that, but the two of them have issues outside of their little ‘I like you, do you like me?’ bubble.

Anna and the French Kiss is impossible to dislike, unless you are soulless and possibly a kitty murderer. It’s sweet and real and fantastically written, with a cast of characters that you’ll want to meet, know, and be BFFs with. I smiled a lot while reading it; one of those cheesy grins of pure joy. I read it one sitting because I couldn’t put it down, even though I wanted to. Much like a meal in Paris, Anna and the French Kiss is a book to be savored, but is still so easily devoured. As I read the last line, I let out a sigh of pure bliss. A sigh!? That alone should make you pick this book up. Right now. What are you waiting for? GO.

Opening line: Here is everything I know about France: Madeline and Amelie and Moulin Rouge. ~ pg. 3

Favorite lines/passages (Had to pick the non-spoilery ones, but there are others that are love):
At least the people in my new school speak English. It was founded for pretentious Americans who don’t like the company of their own children. I mean, really. Who sends their kid to boarding school? It’s so Hogwarts. Only mine doesn’t have cute boy wizards or magic candy or flying lessons. ~ pg. 5
And a more serious one:
I’ve spent my entire senior year suffocating between lust and heartache, ecstasy and betrayal, and it’s only getting harder to see the truth. How many times can our emotions be tied to someone else’s – be pulled and stretched and twisted – before they snap? Before they can never be mended again? ~ pg. 333


*This review is my honest opinion and I received no monetary compensation from it.

Find Stephanie Perkins online:

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Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Author Interview: Laura Harrington

Laura Harrington is an award-winning playwright, lyricist and librettist. She teaches playwriting at MIT and lives in Gloucester, MA. ALICE BLISS, her first novel, grew out of Harrington’s one-woman musical Alice Unwrapped, which ran off-Broadway in New York and in the Minneapolis Fringe Festival in 2009.
*Bio taken from Laura's website
What were your first thoughts when you saw the cover for Alice Bliss?
The first two covers were very different. They were modeled on some of the other gorgeous covers we’ve recently seen in bookstores and, while they were incredibly pretty, they had nothing to do with my book. So I was a bit dismayed, but not alarmed, because I assumed that this was draft one and we’d keep working on it until we were all happy with the cover. (Can you hear just what a new author I was/ am?) Luckily for me my editor was receptive to my feedback and, in a stroke of true good fortune, the book designer went back to the drawing board and created something completely different. While we were going through this process, I did a little reading about covers and learned how rare it is for an author to be happy with his or her cover and it occurred to me that, wow, the cover could get worse. Lucky for me, I ended up really liking our cover. I find it unusual and graphically strong. It’s easy to pick out in a crowd.

Something else I’ve realized as I’m now putting the cover on a new website, is that publishers need to start thinking more about how their covers will look online as well.
I'm a fan of this cover too, so I'm happy your input was taken into consideration. I've seen book covers that are totally unrelated to books before, but that are eye-catchers and while I like an aesthetically pleasing cover as much as the next person, I want it to relate to the story between the pages as well. I agree about a cover's appearance online too. It's one thing for a book to be all shiny and pretty in person, but it also has to have an effect in its most basic, flat form.
Source
How did you go about taking something that was originally meant for the stage and turning it into a full-blown novel?
The thirty-minute, one-woman musical could really only capture one moment in Alice’s life. So, really, the musical inspired the novel, rather than the musical became the novel. I had to create the world of the novel, the physical place, the town, and all the other characters. I had to move both backwards and forwards in time so that I could tell a complete story. It was a wonderful challenge and journey of discovery. And it was such a pleasure to get to live in that world with that family for almost a year.

Have you always wanted to be a writer of some sort? What propelled you to write a novel and do you have plans for any future novels?
I’ve always wanted to be a writer, since I was a little kid. I avoided writing all through college and beyond because I was afraid to fail at my lifelong dream. But finally, after working and traveling for a few years, I decided that I needed to find out one way or the other. I borrowed some money (not much) and went to grad school. I thought – this will buy me two years to write and by the end of that time I’ll know two things – do I have any potential? And is this what I actually love to do?

I wrote a novel in order to be a beginner again. I wanted to re-connect to the creative process by attempting to do something – write a book – that I’d never done before and certainly did not know how to do.
I am so happy you didn't allow that fear to control you anymore. I hope to see much more from you in the future, Laura!
Source
Alice Bliss centers on the aftermath of someone going to war, but is not a war story. Was it always your plan to have the novel only reflect the intimate, war-at-home, or did the story just evolve that way?
It was always my plan to keep the story at home. There were times when I was tempted to open up to the war, to write scenes set in Iraq, but I ultimately felt that the family’s dilemma and longing and pain would be heightened by simply focusing on their daily lives. The strength of their longing is a large part of what drives the book. And our dread about what might happen to Matt is what keeps us turning the pages.
Keeping the war-at-home really made me feel for those that were left behind. Everyone knows that going to war isn't going to be a breeze, but I never really thought about the families that are left behind. Alice Bliss gave me some insight into that and just how difficult it is to be the ones who don't go to war.

Some of my favorite moments in the book involve the secondary characters. Did you have a favorite character – aside from Alice, Angie, and Ellie – to write?
Both Henry and Uncle Eddie just showed up one day while I was writing – each on a different day, of course. Which means that these characters felt like incredible, delightful gifts to me. That’s probably why I love them so much. Not to mention their awkwardness, their huge hearts, their fears, and their longing to do the right thing even when they don’t know what that is.
I adored both Uncle Eddie and Henry. I wasn't sure how often they would pop up in the novel, but their expanding roles were such a treat.
Source
Ellie becomes quite the keeper of long and relatively unknown (at least to me) words throughout the novel. Do you have a favorite Ellie-word? (My favorite is bibliobibuli - one who reads too much - for obvious reasons)
My favorite is “jillick” – to skip a stone across water.
You give each of your characters very distinguishing and sometimes quirky characteristics that make them feel whole and real, like Henry’s music, Ellie’s words, Alice’s running and gardening, and even Mrs. Piantowski’s bread. How did you come up with these quirks? Are they drawn from your own life and the people surrounding you, or somewhere else?
I love it that you’ve asked this question and that the characters felt whole and real to you.

I always endow my characters with passions, loves, hates, fears, anxieties, past stories, future hopes and dreams, and secrets. Perhaps this is part of my theatre training – a character who appears on stage has a minute or two to earn your attention for the rest of the night. It means that I’ve learned to quickly draw a very vivid character whose life will continue to unfold and be interesting through the course of a play or a story.

Plus, and I think this is also from playwriting, I rely on the physical lives of my characters to give me insights into who they are. The physical world that your characters inhabit is full of interesting clues into their lives, even their inner lives.
The characters felt so real to me and if it is in part because of your theatre training and playwriting, I think more authors should explore that avenue, as I believe it helped a great deal. No character felt flat to me.
Source
And on a lighter note and because I always ask this question: What is your favorite kind of cookie?
Favorite question ever! I love cookies. All kinds of cookies. I have a friend who also loves cookies and is a wonderful baker and she occasionally bakes cookies for me. Favorite: Chocolate chip with walnuts. No! Peanut butter chocolate chip. No! French chocolate “sable.” No! Chewy ginger with chocolate chunks. Uh oh, I could go on and on and on …
As usual, I am now very hungry. Maybe more so this time because Laura listed more than one kind of cookie. I want them all!
For my thoughts on the book, you can read my review of Alice Bliss

Find Laura Harrington online:

Buy it online:

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