Friday, October 29, 2010

Review: Vampire Academy by Richelle Mead (VA Reread)

Book Description via Goodreads:

St. Vladimir’s Academy isn’t just any boarding school—it’s a hidden place where vampires are educated in the ways of magic and half-human teens train to protect them. Rose Hathaway is a Dhampir, a bodyguard for her best friend Lissa, a Moroi Vampire Princess. They’ve been on the run, but now they’re being dragged back to St. Vladimir’s—the very place where they’re most in danger. . . .
Rose and Lissa become enmeshed in forbidden romance, the Academy’s ruthless social scene, and unspeakable nighttime rituals. But they must be careful lest the Strigoi—the world’s fiercest and most dangerous vampires—make Lissa one of them forever.

Source: Bought

My Thoughts:

The story starts with Rose and Lissa being caught and sent back to school. At the start, Mead immediately showed us the closeness and the strong friendship of Lissa and Rose. It was something that I found amazing.

Mead was also able to capture the truth about the teenage life, especially those who were in ranked high in society. There was risk for their lives and a demand to be present somewhere, to fulfill social duties.

The characters were really well developed. It was nice how I was able to see the character’s lives and how their pasts affected their present. It showed that they were really well thought out. It was really fun to watch how Rose interacted with other people. The flaws in the character were believable.

The storyline was fast paced and smooth. You would really feel bonded to them. Maybe it has something to do with the fierce dedication and the strong bond between them, that they would do anything to protect each other. The vampire mythology and hierarchy were also great factors that made this a good read.

Lesson learned: As teens, most of the time we tend to be self-centred and we need to change this perspective. In VA it was showed that adults do understand us and try their best to help us.

(For the VA Reread Challenge, I will change my review format. Instead of ending with a blurb-ish line, I'll end with a lesson.)

Rating:



Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Review: Sleepless by Cyn Balog

Book Description via Goodreads:

Eron DeMarchelle isn't supposed to feel this connection. He is a Sandman, a supernatural being whose purpose is to seduce his human charges to sleep. Though he can communicate with his charges in their dreams, he isn't encouraged to do so. After all, becoming too involved in one human's life could prevent him from helping others get their needed rest.

But he can't deny that he feels something for Julia, a lonely girl with fiery red hair and sad dreams. Just weeks ago, her boyfriend died in a car accident, and Eron can tell that she feels more alone than ever. Eron was human once too, many years ago, and he remembers how it felt to lose the one he loved. In the past, Eron has broken rules to protect Julia, but now, when she seems to need him more than ever, he can't reach her. Eron's time as a Sandman is coming to a close, and his replacement doesn't seem to care about his charges. Worse, Julia is facing dangers she doesn't recognize, and Eron, as he transitions back to being human, may be the only one who can save her....

Even once they've become human again, Sandmen are forbidden to communicate with their charges. But Eron knows he won't be able to forget Julia. Will he risk everything for a chance to be with the girl he loves?

Source: Delacorte Press (Thanks!)

My Thoughts:

This was the first time that I have read about Sandmen in YA. I really liked it. Sleepless has shown that Sandmen not only put sand on you for you to fall asleep. They also do this because they have a great sense of responsibility that it was almost impossible for them to ignore it. They have taken their duty to continue their lives as humans after some time. It shows that even creatures that are not human, have duties fulfill.

Told in alternating perspectives, Sleepless was revealed in alternating voices from dream and reality. In the first few pages, I found myself struggling a bit. But after a few chapters, I was sucked in. The writing was good. It was humorous, witty and it lightened up the mood of the story despite the sad and tragic scenes found in it.

Julia was a diverse character. She went from being a sad, terrified girl to a carefree, boy-admiring type to freaked out and hesitant to humorous and witty. Her fast changing personas filled her current situation with the right kind of reaction. Aside from serving at the Sweetie Pi and running, Julia was good at coping.

Eron really represented his time. The manners, the talking and the ideas were completely from a different time. It was so funny because it was so different from Julia’s time. Girl shy, responsible and caring, he rivalled Griffin, Julia’s dead boyfriend. While transitioning to human, he found a way to risk Julia in the past. He broke the rules for her. Now that she needs him more, will he risk his second chance to save her again?

I found the characters easy to like. Griffin and Bret, the pranksters and jokers, were what I would imagine a teen guy might be – having fun. Griffin still hasn’t accepted his death. Being a Sandman gave him more than his share of pleasure by giving him control. In some ways, I was a bit confused with him. Before he died, he hadn't really expressed his love and attachment. But after his death, he seemed so desperate. I wished there was something - a scene, a flashback from his "before" with Julia that paralleled the "after."

The story got plus points for the uniqueness, the twist in the Sandmen mythology and the jaw dropping revelations. Sleepless was a dreamy read filled with just the right amount of suspicion, awkwardness and romance. It was a tale of letting go and learning that dreams can turn into reality.

Rating:



Nanowrimo, Me, My Novel & Synopsis

I've heard of Nanowrimo several times before. But I didn't really pay attention to it. My response was more of a nod, an o-kay.

What: Nanowrimo - National Novel Writing Month. 30 days of crazy typing, pausing, thinking, typing, pausing, staring at the screen and writing again.

When: November 1-30, 2010 - Three days from now.

Who: Me! Click here > My Profile. Add me if you like!

Why: I've been writing a bit and brainstorming for a few months now. And it's time to put it into writing. Nanowrimo is something that motivates me. I love challenges. To write 50,000 words in one day? That really is a big challenge for me. I tend to edit a lot. Really a lot. I can't help it. But for this, I won't. I hope I won't.

My novel: Ya Dystopian. :)


Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Teaser Tuesdays: Sleepless by Cyn Balog (7)


Teaser Tuesdays is a weekly bookish meme, hosted by MizB of Should Be Reading. Anyone can play along! Just do the following:

-Grab your current read.
-Open to a random page.
-Share two (2) “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!

My Teaser:


As I help her fasten and adjust it (necklace) on her pale neckline, she reaches up to give me the smallest, saddest peck on my cheek. I made a wish for you, she said. Yet I know that that wish was not for my happiness, but for her own.

- page 187, Sleepless by Cyn Balog

What's your teaser? Comment below and link so I can read yours!


Saturday, October 23, 2010

Review: Beautiful Darkness by Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl

*A little spoilerish if you haven’t read Beautiful Creatures yet.

Book Description via Goodreads:

Ethan Wate used to think of Gatlin, the small Southern town he had always called home, as a place where nothing ever changed. Then he met mysterious newcomer Lena Duchannes, who revealed a secret world that had been hidden in plain sight all along. A Gatlin that harbored ancient secrets beneath its moss-covered oaks and cracked sidewalks. A Gatlin where a curse has marked Lena's family of powerful supernaturals for generations. A Gatlin where impossible, magical, life-altering events happen.

Sometimes life-ending.

Together they can face anything Gatlin throws at them, but after suffering a tragic loss, Lena starts to pull away, keeping secrets that test their relationship. And now that Ethan's eyes have been opened to the darker side of Gatlin, there's no going back. Haunted by strange visions only he can see, Ethan is pulled deeper into his town's tangled history and finds himself caught up in the dangerous network of underground passageways endlessly crisscrossing the South, where nothing is as it seems.

Source: Bought

My Thoughts:

The death of Gatlin’s Boo Radley brought about a change in everyone, in how they relate to Lena and to Ethan. It was a wonderful touch – the hypocrisy of the people of Gatlin after someone’s death. This is something that I have also observed in real life. Annoying and entertaining for me. It sort of defined the usual women in Gatlin. They stuck with the practices and when these were no longer needed, they dump them and go back to normal mode. Even Lena has changed, isolating herself from everyone and pulling away from Ethan, and sometimes acting like she was already a Dark Caster.

The things that I really liked about Beautiful Darkness were the new characters, the answered questions, the wider exploration of the Tunnels and the twists and turns. These things made the sequel a satisfying read.

Liv, an adventurous Keeper-in-training, and John Breed, an Incubus who could walk in the sun, were new additions to the great cast of the Caster Series. Through Liz, some of my questions after reading Beautiful Creatures were answered. The supernatural experiences of Ethan were finally explained.

The songs and the visions captivated me. Beautiful Darkness was two stories woven together as one. Past and present coincided in a tangle of magic and involvement. As it turned out, the Greats were not the only ghosts in the town of Gatlin.

When Lena disappeared and went with Ridley and John Breed, Ethan followed. Attempting to reach her through his mind and with the use of a gift, he tracked her down and found himself in the Tunnels where the laws of time and space were not followed. Wondrous, thrilling and dangerous, the Tunnels were filled with magical creatures that posed threat to them. As they raced to reach Lena, they discovered the truths behind the secrets about Gatlin and the Caster world.

Beautiful Darkness is sad, dark and deliciously dangerous. Better than Beautiful Creatures in every angle.

Rating:



Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Hunger Blog Tour: Interview + Giveaway

Today, I have a wonderful guest - Jackie Morse Kessler - the author of Hunger, which was just released a few days ago! Enjoy the interview and read on for the giveaway at the bottom!

Me: What or who inspired you to write HUNGER?

JK: I’ve had the idea for about 10 years, but I just didn’t think anyone would want to read the book. Luckily, my agent convinced me otherwise! In my author’s note in the book, I mention a number of specific influences, both for the Horsemen of the Apocalypse (including Neil Gaiman, Terry Pratchett, and Marvel Comics) and for the protagonist (inspired by a friend).

Me: What lesson will readers get from your book?

JK: Eating disorders suck. (And Death likes playing Nirvana on the guitar.)

Me: Why did you chose to write for teens?

JK: I didn’t set out to write a book for teens. I wanted to write the story of an anorexic teenage girl who became Famine. It just turned out that the book I wrote was a young adult novel.

Me: Why focus on eating disorders?

JK: I used to be bulimic. I haven’t been for a long time, but that mindset—the messed up self-image, the voice in your head that tells you you’re fat and worthless—lingered. I wanted to write a story that focused on a girl in the throes of anorexia. The more than people know what eating disorders are, and what they’re not, the more likely that they can help friends who are suffering from these diseases.

Me: What is the meaning of the cover?

JK: I wish I could say that I had anything to do with the gorgeous cover. But the only role I played was to “ooh” and “aah” over it. There is an old-fashioned set of scales on the cover, and that’s appropriate for two reasons. First, the scales are the symbol of Famine. Second, balance is a theme of the book.

Me: In three words, describe what it was like to write HUNGER.

JK: Intense and cathartic.

Me: Which part do you like writing the most? Beginning, middle or end? Why?

JK: That’s a tough question. I can’t write until I have the proper beginning, and usually the first sentence. From there, if I’m on target, the words just flow. I think I like writing the ending more than the beginning or middle because that’s when everything comes to a boil and gets resolved.

Me: So I heard you have a weakness for chocolate. What's your favorite? Do you write while eating chocolates?

JK: My secret is out! (I also have a weakness for Matt Damon.) My current favorite is Tim Tams from Australia. Ah, those are SO good! Sometimes, I’ll have a Hershey’s Kiss when I’m writing, but usually I wait until I’m done.

Me: You have a master's in media ecology. Does this help with your writing?

JK: Not in the slightest. **grin** But I enjoyed those classes. They were the study of communication’s impact on culture, and vice versa. Of course, this was all before Facebook and Twitter. I imagine those classes are different today.

Me: HUNGER is out now. How do you feel?

JK: Relieved and terrified. **grin**

Me: Any last words?

JK: A portion of HUNGER proceeds will go to the National Eating Disorders Association. So if you bought a copy of the book, thank you for helping to make a difference.
_______________________________________________________

“Thou art the Black Rider. Go thee out unto the world.”


Lisabeth Lewis has a black steed, a set of scales, and a new job: she’s been appointed Famine. How will an anorexic seventeen-year-old girl from the suburbs fare as one of the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse?

Traveling the world on her steed gives Lisa freedom from her troubles at home: her constant battle with hunger, and her struggle to hide it from the people who care about her. But being Famine forces her to go places where hunger is a painful part of everyday life, and to face the horrifying effects of her phenomenal power. Can Lisa find a way to harness that power — and the courage to battle her own inner demons? _______________________________________________________

CLOSED
Giveaway

Thanks to Jackie, there are FOUR signed posters of Hunger up for grabs.
The poster looks exactly like the cover art of Hunger.

Contest Rules:
1. Be a follower.
2. Comment with your email address.

Extra Entries: (if you want)
1. Tweet and leave link.
2. Sidebar and leave link.

Open Internationally!
Ends on November 2!


Review: Paranormalcy by Kiersten White

Book Description:

Weird as it is working for the International Paranormal Containment Agency, Evie's always thought of herself as normal. Sure, her best friend is a mermaid, her ex-boyfriend is a faerie, she’s falling for a shape-shifter, and she’s the only person who can see through paranormals' glamours, but still. Normal.

Only now paranormals are dying, and Evie's dreams are filled with haunting voices and mysterious prophecies. She soon realizes that there may be a link between her abilities and the sudden rash of deaths. Not only that, but she may very well be at the center of a dark faerie prophecy promising destruction to all paranormal creatures.

Source: Bought

My Thoughts:

Evie was so full of life, witty and funny. But there was a lonely part of her, one that balances the other side. Seeing through the glamours of paranormals was what made her unique, identified her and set her apart from the rest. What I really liked about her was that she appreciated and longed for the things that we usually take for granted – like a real locker and high school.

The Center served as a home and a place to contain paranormals. Sometimes it was both. But the Center is all Evie has and will ever have, until an unidentified paranormal came along. There was more to the guy than the eyes could see – normal eyes that is. Luckily, Evie could see exactly who he was underneath his ever-changing glamour.

Evie found a companion in Lend, the shape-shifting boy. Lend is unique, cute and a pro at avoidance. Evie developed an interest for him, the same interest that Reth, a volatile and gorgeous faerie, had in her. These two paranormals spun an eventful lovelife for Evie.

The characters were beautiful, stunning and well-developed. Each species of paranormals were reintroduced to me, with a deeper understanding, through Evie’s eyes. I must say, I like the variety of paranormals here, including the ones that have been quite neglected and unexplored in the young adult genre.

The story was magnificently spun around Evie, winding around paranormal and normal spheres, mixing them into a refreshing story world. Exciting, romantic and panicking – yes, I panicked for Evie – this proved to be worthy of high rating. Working for IPCA was adventurous, action-packed and dangerous. I loved it!

Paranormalcy is the greatest debut that I read this year, collecting all the paranormals I obsessively read about and merged their extraordinary feat with technology – something I could never live without.

Rating:



Monday, October 18, 2010

In My Mailbox (4)

In My Mailbox is hosted by Kristi from The Story Siren.

This meme explores the bookish things received, gifted, bought and won, as well as encourages blogger interaction.

For Review:

Sleepless by Cyn Balog

Eron DeMarchelle isn't supposed to feel this connection. He is a Sandman, a supernatural being whose purpose is to seduce his human charges to sleep. Though he can communicate with his charges in their dreams, he isn't encouraged to do so. After all, becoming too involved in one human's life could prevent him from helping others get their needed rest.

But he can't deny that he feels something for Julia, a lonely girl with fiery red hair and sad dreams. Just weeks ago, her boyfriend died in a car accident, and Eron can tell that she feels more alone than ever. Eron was human once too, many years ago, and he remembers how it felt to lose the one he loved. In the past, Eron has broken rules to protect Julia, but now, when she seems to need him more than ever, he can't reach her. Eron's time as a Sandman is coming to a close, and his replacement doesn't seem to care about his charges. Worse, Julia is facing dangers she doesn't recognize, and Eron, as he transitions back to being human, may be the only one who can save her....

Even once they've become human again, Sandmen are forbidden to communicate with their charges. But Eron knows he won't be able to forget Julia. Will he risk everything for a chance to be with the girl he loves?

The Healer's Apprentice by Melanie Dickerson (signed)

Two Hearts. One Hope.Rose has been appointed as a healer's apprentice at Hagenheim Castle, a rare opportunity for a woodcutter's daughter like her. While she often feels uneasy at the sight of blood, Rose is determined to prove herself capable. Failure will mean returning home to marry the aging bachelor her mother has chosen for her---a bloated, disgusting merchant who makes Rose feel ill.When Lord Hamlin, the future duke, is injured, it is Rose who must tend to him. As she works to heal his wound, she begins to understand emotions she's never felt before and wonders if he feels the same. But falling in love is forbidden, as Lord Hamlin is betrothed to a mysterious young woman in hiding. As Rose's life spins toward confusion, she must take the first steps on a journey to discover her own destiny

Injane by Douglas Pearson

Most people think I'm crazy because I see things they cannot. But if they saw the blood and the torture, or felt an ounce of the pain I feel, they would know I'm not insane. No one believes me and that makes me more alone than I feel. To those who meet me for the first time, I'm Jane; once they hear my one-sided conversations and terrified screams, they refer to me as Injane.




Bought:

Paranormalcy by Kiersten White

Weird as it is working for the International Paranormal Containment Agency, Evie's always thought of herself as normal. Sure, her best friend is a mermaid, her ex-boyfriend is a faerie, she’s falling for a shape-shifter, and she’s the only person who can see through paranormals' glamours, but still. Normal.

Only now paranormals are dying, and Evie's dreams are filled with haunting voices and mysterious prophecies. She soon realizes that there may be a link between her abilities and the sudden rash of deaths. Not only that, but she may very well be at the center of a dark faerie prophecy promising destruction to all paranormal creatures.

Beautiful Darkness by Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl

Ethan Wate used to think of Gatlin, the small Southern town he had always called home, as a place where nothing ever changed. Then he met mysterious newcomer Lena Duchannes, who revealed a secret world that had been hidden in plain sight all along. A Gatlin that harbored ancient secrets beneath its moss-covered oaks and cracked sidewalks. A Gatlin where a curse has marked Lena's family of powerful supernaturals for generations. A Gatlin where impossible, magical, life-altering events happen.

Sometimes life-ending.

Together they can face anything Gatlin throws at them, but after suffering a tragic loss, Lena starts to pull away, keeping secrets that test their relationship. And now that Ethan's eyes have been opened to the darker side of Gatlin, there's no going back. Haunted by strange visions only he can see, Ethan is pulled deeper into his town's tangled history and finds himself caught up in the dangerous network of underground passageways endlessly crisscrossing the South, where nothing is as it seems.

Gifted:

Halo by Alexandra Adornetto

Nothing much happens in the sleepy town of Venus Cove. But everything changes when three angels are sent from heaven to protect the town against the gathering forces of darkness: Gabriel, the warrior; Ivy, the healer; and Bethany, a teenage girl who is the least experienced of the trio. They work hard to conceal their true identity and, most of all, their wings. But the mission is threatened when the youngest angel, Bethany, is sent to high school and falls in love with the handsome school captain, Xavier Woods. Will she defy the laws of Heaven by loving him? Things come to a head when the angels realize they are not the only supernatural power in Venus Cove. There′s a new kid in town and he′s charming, seductive and deadly. Worst of all, he′s after Beth.

What's in your mailbox?



Thanks to Melanie Dickerson, Erika, Delacorte Press & Shantal!



Friday, October 15, 2010

Book Blogger Hop (11)


About the Hop:

Book Blogger Hop is a wonderful opportunity for readers and bloggers to make new friends and to discover blogs of their interest and passion. Through this meme, I've met friendly bloggers who share interesting insights and ideas with me.

This week's question: "When you read a book that you just can't get into, do you stick it out and keep reading or move to your next title?"

For me, I stop. I have to stop because I want to enjoy the story as much as possible. I read something else then when I feel that I can read it again, I try. I'll be honest. There's a book here in my TBR. It's been there for months now. And I really can't get into the story. I've been devouring other books - books that I'm excited about - instead of reading it. But I've devised a reading plan now. I'm going to include it in the plan so I would be able to finish it once and for all.

Welcome to Fragments of Life! Feel free to look around. Comment below so I can visit your blog too!

If you like, you can check my latest posts:


Thanks for dropping by!



Review: Hush Money by Susan Bischoff

Book Description via Goodreads:

They call their abilities Talents, and that’s what they call themselves as well. Talents are people born with supernatural powers, feared by the population at large. Possession of an “unregistered ability” has become illegal, and those who are discovered are forcibly removed to government-run research facilities. For Talents, keeping their secret is the most important thing in their lives. For some, that need for secrecy begins to define who they are.

That’s how it is for Joss, a high school girl who does everything in her power to go unnoticed. She's incredibly bright, but strives to maintain grades that are good yet not too good. She doesn't participate in school activities, keeps quiet in class, eats by herself. Despite her longtime crush on Dylan, she wouldn't even think about trying to talk to him. Joss doesn't make friends of any kind, because friends can draw attention, friends can make you slip up, friends can make things complicated.

When new girl, Kat, steps in to rescue Joss from an uncomfortable situation with Marco, the class jerk, she doesn’t realize what she’s getting into, and it blows up in her face. Joss finds herself torn between a desire to do the right thing, to find some way to help a girl who was kind to her; and her need to mind her own business and fade into. For the first time, Joss begins to question the way she operates, and starts to long for connections with other people--especially a connection with Dylan, who's finally starting to talk to her.

But what's up with Dylan's sudden interest? As Marco’s best friend, can he be trusted at all?

It's bad enough when a girl's got to worry about friends, boys, over-protective dads, and shoes that pinch, but when you throw in blackmail, government agents with guns, and really annoying little sisters...that's just about too much to handle, even for a girl with an ass-kicking superpower.

Source: Susan Bischoff (Thanks!)

My Thoughts:

First off, I had never heard of the Talent Chronicles until I saw this in an IMM post. I’m so glad that I took the chance to request this because Hush Money is worth it. Bischoff created a story filled with fear and questions. As a fan of X-Men, I liked the vibe of Hush Money. It was both familiar and new. It was like at was at home, watching X-Men or even Heroes.
The people were moving under the weight of tension, avoiding the attention of NIAC as much as possible. I just wish that the presence of NIAC was more pronounced. And that the claws of NIAC were proven to be more dangerous by more incidents rather than just one.

Told in alternating perspectives, readers are let in into the secrets of Dylan and Joss, as well as their worries. The readers share the secrets and share the surprise of the characters with every revelation. Two heads are better than one in this story world where everyone has something up their sleeves.

Bischoff gave us a variety of character, all of whom are interesting and fun. The youthfulness in them was so real especially with the language. Dylan was sweet and loyal. Joss was protective and careful. Her training and her calculating moves worked well with the story. Being alone and having no friends was her normal life. To see Joss peeling off this mask of protection was great. The difference in her before and after reflects what kind of life she had as a Talent.

Hush Money is fun, thrilling and suspenseful. The YA version of X-Men won't fail to entertain.

Rating:



Thursday, October 14, 2010

The Faerie Ring by Kiki Hamilton - My Blurb!

When I emailed Kiki, I didn't expect that I would get an Advanced Bound Manuscript. So I was surprised - really surprised - when she asked me if I would like to blurb about her 2011 novel, The Faerie Ring.

Book Description via Goodreads:

London, 1871

Orphaned and living in an abandoned clockmaker’s shop adjoining Charing Cross railway station, sixteen year old Tiki picks the pockets of passing travelers to survive. Her efforts support not only herself, but her ‘family’ of orphans, including fragile five year old Clara.

When Tiki steals the Queen’s ring, she thinks she’s solved their problems. That is, until Rieker, a tough from the north end, shows up in Charing Cross and informs her that the ring is really a reservoir that holds an age-old truce between the world of faerie and man. Unless guarded, faeries will search for the ring and destroy it, as well as anyone who has knowledge of the ring’s location...
 
My Thoughts :
 
I really loved The Faerie Ring. Oh. My. God. It was awesome! Everything about it was just amazing. The copy that I received isn't for review yet. But just to show you guys how much I loved it, here's the blurb that I sent Kiki:

"The Faerie Ring is a perfect fusion of historical fiction and urban fantasy – the best of both worlds, outstanding in tragedy, suspense, peril and magic. Enthralling, dark and mysterious, this took my breath away with every passing shadow, every budding doubt and every unearthed secret."

For more info:
Kiki's Blog


Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Spotted Interview: Sophie Littlefield + Banished

Today, I have a special guest - Sophie Littlefield, author of Banished which was released yesterday. I spotted her and asked her a few questions that popped in my head after visiting her website.

Your book has a pretty cover! Do you think that the cover art reflects the mood of Banished in general? Why/how?

I was very lucky to get this beautiful cover. I wish I could say I had something to do with it, but I didn't - it was all the work of designer Stephanie Moss, working with a photo by Lara Jade. One interesting thing about it is that we all loved it so much we changed Hailey's eye color in the book to match! Originally Hailey had golden-brown eyes, like my daughter.

What or who inspired you to write Banished?

A while back - several years ago - one of my friends asked my what superpower I would choose, and I thought of Healing. I thought it would be so cool to be able to lay on hands and summon powers from both within and through time...and then I wanted to work in a little ancient backstory using things I had learned from my friends Lynn and Trish who know everything about Irish and Celtic mythology. These were the things on my my mind when I knew I wanted to write my first book for young adults.

What lessons will readers pick up from your novel?

I think that at the heart of the book is encouragement to leave room for hope, even when life seems very bleak. I created a heroine who is tough and capable because she has to be, not because she necessarily wants to be; her problems have made her withdrawn and pessimistic. On her journey she comes back to life in a sense because she realizes she can find justice and that she is unique and uniquely gifted and that there is a place in the world for her to shine.

What was it like modelling Hailey, the main character in Banished, after your 16 year old self?

It was a wonderful, if occasionally difficult, experience to revisit feelings and emotions from long ago, but to put them into a fictional context where I had control over the outcome.

Since you somewhat modelled Hailey after your teen self, did you discover new things about yourself?

Absolutely. This will have people my age nodding their heads, but it is difficult to imagine when you are young - as alone and different as I felt all those years ago, other people were going through similar things and were not judging me nearly as harshly as I assumed. In recent years I have gotten in touch with a few people through facebook, people I wasn't especially close to during high school, but who I thought had blessed and easy lives. Not so: everyone was dealing with problems, some of them far more difficult than I ever imagined. And everyone has wonderful quirks and passions that we all tended to keep hidden back then, when we were all just trying to fit in.

I also learned that there were things about my old self that I cherish and am trying to put back in my life. I was very passionate as a teen; I could draw for hours, or listen to music or write poetry. I have convinced myself that I don't have time for these pursuits any more, and that's a mistake.

Were you able to understand what you went through in your teenage years through writing Banished?

Yes, but also through reading young adult fiction by other authors. I think authors today are doing a great job of addressing issues many kids face, honestly and openly, and I can't stress enough that this is a good thing. I am very, very saddened by parents' attempts to censor certain books, like SPEAK and WINTERGIRLS by Laurie Halse Anderson. If I had access to books like these when I was in high school and college, it would have helped me understand some of the things that I and other people were going through.

How do you incorporate sexualization in your book? How do you make sure that it is appropriate?

This is an important topic to me, and while I know that I will offend some readers (or their parents) I want to address sexualization carefully and honestly. In BANISHED and the sequel, Hailey and her friends are the target of inappropriate sexual attention from men. This is hardly a rare event - all over the country, young girls are the target of everything from mild catcalls to rape, and I wanted to show a girl resisting and succeeding in keeping her self-concept intact even when she feels powerless.

I do think that my daughter's generation is much, much stronger and abler to stand up for themselves than my own, and it is my prayer that no girl should be abused. But sexual misconduct comes in so many layers and shades of gray, and I want to be one of the voices who cares about righting wrongs, big and little.

Banished is out! How do you feel about this?

I'm so thrilled! The other night I was driving a car full of kids to the high school homecoming dance, and we were talking about books, and they were telling me what they'd recently read and why they loved certain books and authors. And I felt so honored to be a part of that world. I'm truly blessed to have this job and I hope that I never take it for granted.

Any last words?

Thank you so much for inviting me, Precious!
_______________________________________________________

There isn’t much worth living for in Gypsum, Missouri—or Trashtown, as the rich kids call the run-down neighborhood where sixteen-year-old Hailey Tarbell lives. Hailey figures she’ll never belong—not with the popular kids at school, not with the rejects, not even with her cruel, sickly grandmother, who deals drugs out of their basement. Hailey never knew her dead mother, and she has no idea who her father was, but at least she has her four-year-old foster brother, Chub. Once she turns eighteen, Hailey plans to take Chub far from Gypsum and start a new life where no one can find them.

But when a classmate is injured in gym class, Hailey discovers a gift for healing that she never knew she possessed—and that she cannot ignore. Not only can she heal, she can bring the dying back to life. Confused by her powers, Hailey searches for answers but finds only more questions, until a mysterious visitor shows up at Gram’s house, claiming to be Hailey’s aunt Prairie.

There are people who will stop at nothing to keep Hailey in Trashtown, living out a legacy of despair and suffering. But when Prairie saves both Hailey and Chub from armed attackers who invade Gram’s house in the middle of the night, Hailey must decide where to place her trust. Will Prairie’s past, and the long-buried secret that caused her to leave Gypsum years earlier, ruin them all? Because as Hailey will soon find out, their power to heal is just the beginning.

This gripping novel from thriller writer Sophie Littlefield blazes a trail from small-town Missouri to the big city as Hailey battles an evil greater than she ever imagined, while discovering strengths she never knew she had.*

*taken from Barnes and Noble site.
**Sophie's photo was taken from her website.


Teaser Tuesday: The Faerie Ring by Kiki Hamilton (6)


This was supposed to be posted yesterday but due to laptop issues, I wasn't able to post.
Anyway, I've got a teaser from a 2011 fey book.

Teaser Tuesdays is a weekly bookish meme, hosted by MizB of Should Be Reading. Anyone can play along! Just do the following:


-Grab your current read.
-Open to a random page.
-Share two (2) “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!

My Teaser:

"When they're angry, faeries are vicious. They can rip you to shreds with their hands or their teeth."

- p.147, The Faerie Ring by Kiki Hamilton (Advanced Bound Manuscript)

I'm almost done with this one. It's great so far! Hamilton writes well. I love the fusion of fantasy and historical fiction. I'll be making a blurb for this one.


Sunday, October 10, 2010

First Read: I didn't like VA. Second Read: Maybe I'll like it?

As you all know, a few months ago I tried to do a VA marathon. I got past the first book, Vampire Academy, and reviewed it. I also managed to read Frostbite but during that time, I just...couldn't get into the story no matter how much I tried. Maybe it was the mood of the book or maybe it was vampire overload. I don't really know. It was hard for me to continue reading when my heart wasn't into it. It was sad too. I've heard lots of great things about this series from my friends and it was just unfortunate that I couldn't enjoy the series as much as I wanted to.

But I'll be giving VA series another try. And I hope that this time will be different.

Vampire Book Club is sponsoring a Vampire Academy Re-read Challenge. The challenge runs from October 1 - November 30.

Some of the prizes included in the prize pack for those who will finish the challenge are:

Last Sacrifice by Richelle Mead

A Vampire Academy-inspired piece of jewelry from Cemetery Cat Designs
Soul Screamers series set by Rachel Vincent (My Soul to Take, My Soul to Keep and My Soul to Save)
Crusade by Nancy Holder & Debbie Viguié < I like!
Personal Demons by Lisa Desrochers < I like!
Linger bookmark signed by Maggie Stiefvater
Embossed black leather Vampire Academy bookmark
Vampire Book Club bookmarks
and more

For me, Personal Demons is enough motivation for the challenge. I still haven't read and experienced Luc's temptation! Anyway, goodluck to me. If you guys are up for it, you can join the challenge by clicking the link below.



Friday, October 08, 2010

Being Jamie Baker + Giveaway Throughout November

Kelly Oram, author of Being Jamie Baker, is so generous. She will be giving away signed copies of Being Jamie Baker, her debut novel, throughout November.

Haven't heard of Being Jamie Baker yet?

An accident that should end in tragedy instead gives seventeen-year-old Jamie Baker a slew of uncontrollable superhuman abilities.

To keep her secret safe Jamie socially exiles herself, earning the title of Rocklin High’s resident ice queen. But during a supercharged encounter with star quarterback Ryan Miller she literally kisses anonymity goodbye. Now the annoyingly irresistible Ryan will stop at nothing to melt the heart of the ice queen and find out what makes her so special.

Unfortunately, Ryan is not the only person on to her secret. Will Jamie learn to contain her unstable powers before being discovered by the media or turned into a government lab rat?

More importantly, can she throw Ryan Miller off her trail before falling in love with him?




It all starts HERE. <<< c l i c k.


Thursday, October 07, 2010

Start Review: Tell Me a Secret by Holly Cupala

Book Description via Goodreads:

Tell me a secret, and I'll tell you one…

In the five years since her bad-girl sister Xanda’s death, Miranda Mathison has wondered about the secret her sister took to the grave, and what really happened the night she died. Now, just as Miranda is on the cusp of her dreams—a best friend to unlock her sister’s world, a ticket to art school, and a boyfriend to fly her away from it all—Miranda has a secret all her own.

Then two lines on a pregnancy test confirm her worst fears. Stripped of her former life, Miranda must make a choice with tremendous consequences and finally face her sister’s demons and her own.

In this powerful debut novel, stunning new talent Holly Cupala illuminates the dark struggle of a girl who must let go of her past to find a way into her own future.

My Thoughts:

Amazing. With just two chapters, I was hooked into the story. I loved how the story was told in a series of flashbacks. The woven present and past was masterfully done in a way that was not confusing but gripping.

I was pulled deep into Miranda’s life. Her closeness with her sister and her idolizing her was simply endearing and startling at the same time. Xanda was not exactly what most people think of as a good example for her younger sister. But I loved Xanda because she was so free, so expressive and she knew what she wanted. But I guess in Miranda’s eyes, Xanda was the perfect role model simply because she loved her.

I loved the concept of mazes incorporated here through art. It makes me think on how this reflects the life of Miranda. It was as if she was stuck in a maze of her own, searching for something that is very difficult to find. Most importantly, the secret vibe drove me insane. I knew something was up and it was killing me to not know what it was right away. It was a really good motivator, it made me read fast.

So far Tell Me a Secret did not disappoint. I’m looking forward to finishing it.


Saturday, October 02, 2010

Review: Far From You by Lisa Schroeder

Book Description via Goodreads:

Lost and alone...down the rabbit hole

Years have passed since Alice lost her mother to cancer, but time hasn't quite healed the wound. Alice copes the best she can, by writing her music, losing herself in the love of her boyfriend, and distancing herself from her father and his new wife.

But when a deadly snowstorm traps Alice with her stepmother and newborn half-sister, she'll face issues she's been avoiding for too long. As Alice looks to the heavens for guidance, she discovers something wonderful.

Perhaps she's not so alone after all...

Source: Personal Copy

My Thoughts:

Schroeder wrote Far From You with keen attention to words. Every chapter is told with the minimum amount of words and yet they were enough to convey what was happening. From the first page to the last, I was taken down the rabbit hole. The words seemed to seep into my skin and stretch across my heart. The word choice was amazing. Schroeder put the right words to make your heart ache, make you live the experience of Alice and make you feel the change happening in her life.


Set in fall and winter, the story is scraped off of sugar and we are shown the raw and painful emotions of Alice. But more than that, it is also about life, our gains and losses with every stage. Alice lost her mother to cancer and her dad to his new wife. She feels alone – sad and unwanted except when she is with Blaze. Claire, the only best friend she has, veered into another direction, one without her music. But a bigger change happens to Alice in a snowstorm. She discovers that there is so much more she hasn’t seen yet, so much more things to be thankful for and to treasure.

The relationship of Alice with her family was scrutinized from the smallest gesture to the biggest decision and how these affected her. Her unbroken connection with her deceased mother was evident throughout the story, making the things her mother left priceless and even private. But is her mother really gone? The change in the perspective of Alice was a perfect proof of her growth as a character. I would classify it as the before and after perspectives, before and after the snowstorm. From seeing that everyone did not want her, did not care for her, she began to see them in a positive light. I wanted to read more of Claire and Blaze though, to find out more of her life outside the house.

This was a quick read. I finished it and I needed a moment to think of what happened in the novel. It is something that you feel, yes. But it takes some time to internalize afterwards since there were few words with which the story was told, few words to make the reader be accustomed to the story. I love the song lyrics included. They give a personal feel to the story. After reading this, I'm sure I'll want to read the rest of Schroeder's books.

Far From You is painted will all the emotions of life. Emotional and heartbreakingly beautiful, this novel will get to you from the first word to the last. It lingers there in your head and heart ever after you’ve turned the last page.

Rating:



Trance Countdown Party - Tons of Prizes


On October 14, 2010, Trance will be officially released. Join Linda Gerber and a wonderful group of authors to celebrate this upcoming event! She is hosting a grand giveaway that will last for two weeks.
Each day, three guest authors will have their number readings and vibrations, like the ones done in Trance. These will be interpreted and we'll get to see the authors confirm and react to these.*

* In Trance, numerology is incorporated. Numerology is the study of numbers, and how their power, or "vibrations", help define our personalities, futures, and life paths.

Leave a comment below every post to be entered to the day's giveaway and to be entered to the grand prize drawing that will be on the 14th! The more you comment, the more entries you get.

Extra entries for the final drawing are:

1. Changing your avatar or profile picture to either the TRANCE book cover, or to a picture of you making "TRANCE eyes"
2. Blog, post, or tweet about the party.
3. Invite a friend along.
4. Join the Bookmark Brigade (email me for details.)

And of course, the prizes:

A Genuine Japanese Yukata, as worn by a character in TRANCE

An entire basket of Supernatural titles, including:


Sweep - Volumes I and II, by Cate Tiernan
Fear Anthology edited by R.L. Stine (not in the photo)
Beautiful Creatures by Kami Garcia & Margaret Stohl (signed)
Raised by Wolves by Jennifer Lynn Barnes (signed)
Dark Flame Alyson Noel (signed)

The Penguin Five boxed collection:


Nightshade by Andrea Cremer
The Eternal Ones by Kirsten Miller
Matched by Ally Condie
Sapphique by Catherine Fisher
The Replacement by Brenna Yovanoff

A Sony Cyber Shot Digital Camera (Ashlyn, the main character in Trance, loves photography.)


The party has started! Go to Linda Gerber's Blog to participate!